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Eve exhaled slowly, shoring up her resolve and willing the butterflies to leave her alone, at least for a few moments and risked a glance at the mirror. Outwardly she appeared calm and collected, but the young woman knew what to look for, and saw the faint mark of nervousness on her features.

But worry was reasonable, even expected, as she was about to put into motion something she spent a long time planning.

Brushing a hand through her snow white hair--longer than it had been in years, resting between her shoulder blades--Eve stepped from her car. She stood outside the Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship, though today she wasn't here for training; her jacket, blouse and knee-length skirt made for poor sword-fighting apparel.

The worst that he can say is no, Eve thought to herself as she gathered her courage and entered.

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The bell above the door jingled as Eve stepped into the building, facing a desk in front of a half-wall that separated the street front windows from the training area further in. At the sound the school's proprietor came around the corner, a year old infant in one arm and an equipment bags with a pommel sticking out of one end in the other. "Hello? Oh, hey Snowcap! We didn't have a session today, did we?" Glancing over at the simple hanging calendar on the wall, Erik Espadas attempted to recall the class schedule for the week without pulling up the actual records. "You kinda look like you're in business time mode anyway, what's up?"

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"No, no session today," the white-haired young woman said with a laugh.

"And this is more... semi-business time mode," Eve allowed, smiling. "I should have scheduled an appointment instead of dropping in like this." Her expression turned a touch serious and she nodded at the infant, "Since it looks like I am interrupting. I can come back later, after I schedule an appointment, if you wish."

Eve glanced down at the folio she carried, hoping Erik wouldn't catch the slight flush of color to her cheeks. She felt awkward, and out of her element, and part of her hoped Erik would ask her to come back later so she had more time to prepare--but at the same time she feared that if he did ask her to come back later, she wouldn't.

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"Heh, if you're planning on waiting until I'm not busy with this little armful, it's going to be a few years, Evie," the fencer chuckled, laugh lines and bags under his eyes momentarily making him look a decade or so older than the heiress knew him to be. Bobbing her head back and forth, Eden made a gurgling laughing sound of her own in response before abruptly resting against her father's shoulder for an impromptu and likely brief nap. "Besides, you're one of only a couple of my pupils who can actually give me a run for my dubloons. That earns you some consideration." Gesturing towards a few chairs along one wall that formed an ad hoc waiting area, he invited Eve into the building's larger section. "Let's get down to semi-business."

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"It's just years of speed, agility and endurance training," Eve said with a grin, though she blushed at the compliment. "Who knew being a gymnast would translate so well into survival skills in this city?" Brushing a hand through her white hair, she settled into one of the seats, crossed her legs and waited for Erik to get comfortable before she spoke.

"OK, down to semi-business," she started when Erik got settled, "The short of it is this: I want to give you money."

"I am poised to launch a little initiative I've been planning for a while now. Communities supporting communities, that sort of thing," Eve continued. "You do good things here in the West End, and I want to see you continue to do good things here, and see to it that you have the financial backing to support your efforts."

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"Well okay, but only 'cause I like you," Erik quipped immediately in response to Eve's frank offer before his brain had a chance to catch up to the rest of her explanation. "Wait, sorry?" Setting down the bag of equipment, he used the freed hand to rub the stubble along his jawline. "Are you talking like... a charity? Sorry, I think I'm having a case of old man brain here. You just want to... give us money...?" It didn't take a telepath to practically hear the straining machinery in the swordsman's mind as he tried to wrap his head around the concept.
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"I am taking a multi-pronged approach to things, and a charity--or something near to it--is but one facet of what I intend," Eve said, sitting with her hands in her lap, the folio set aside for the moment. Looking out the window of the school for a moment, she continued in a quieter voice, "You won't be the only beneficiary of the charity, but the others aren't quite so.. layered.. as your school is."

"So we're clear," the green-eyed girl continued in her soft French-accented soprano, "I have no intention of dictating what you do with the money, though my records will show it is allocated for training and equipping students."

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Erik's eyebrows lifted briefly at Eve's subtle insinuation, his head tilting slightly to one side as he considered. "...alright, give me a second." Stepping over to the door he turned the Open/Closed sign around and locked the door before turning back to the young woman and motioning for her to follow him into the training area.

Safely away from prying eyes, the space was clearly in the middle of being reordered, with weapon racks half empty and equipment stacked along the floor. On one side a portable, collapsible crib had been set up and Erik gingerly set the napping Eden down amidst a number of stuffed animals, a suspicious number of which appeared to be plush geckos of varying size. Rolling his shoulder once she was down, Erik continued to speak to Eve as he walked over to some of the assembled fencing foils. "Cards of the table, Snowcap, you know mi hermana by a couple of names and you're a smart cookie so lets assume you've made some intuitive leaps, yeah? She hasn't spilled any of your French roast beans and I haven't asked but you went to Claremont and I've got an alumnus or two on speed dial. So. We can skip some of the double-talk, fair enough?"

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--Fair enough,-- a quiet thought echoed in Erik's mind. The foreign thought--a combination of words, emotion and intent--felt strangely familiar to the swordsman.

"I went to school with Ellie and Chris," Eve continued aloud, "And I assisted Mona a time or two in the field, in addition to recognizing her from the times she has visited the Academy. You may have already noticed that you only need to show me something once, and that's because I have perfect recall." The young woman smiled slightly, "So I remember you and one of my best friends having a little.. disagreement when she cleaned Dead Head's clock."

"So, maybe a few intuitive leaps, but not as many as you'd think."

The former athlete shrugged out of her jacket and carefully set it aside, she had already slipped out of her heels before heading too far into the training area; heels plus padded flooring lead to twisted ankles.

"Plain speaking." She continued, leaning against the wall in her stocking feet, arms folded under her breasts. "The 'Day of Wrath' as the media call it brought a few disturbing facts to my attention. A body-snatching machine intelligence is something I'll leave for the League and their ilk, but the corruption I found at the heart of Freedom City businesses is something they are ill-equipped to deal with."

"So I'm putting a team together, a 'Shadow League' if you will, that will take on these entities."

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"Woof, that's still a little weird, Evie," Erik noted, knocking the heel of his hand into the side of his head a few times and blinking rapidly. "Useful, though, don't get me wrong. Aaand that thing with Slugger wasn't my most sensitive moment, fully admitted. She's good people but I get kinda fired up when my friends are decapitated. Anyway."

Picking up a pair of foils, the instructor took a moment to check them over. "Point is, I like you and maybe that's just a soft spot for ladies with white hair but Ellie is a fan, too, and she's more than a little bit smarter than me. Not that you heard it from me, mind you." Evidently satisfied he tossed one of the blades pommel first to Eve. "Last time somebody bank-rolled my team, though, it ended very, very badly. If you're thinking about heading up a team of your own, here's your first free lesson: don't let anybody hurt your people. Doesn't matter who or how, that's the line." His voice took on a grim undercurrent for a moment, losing its normal lyrical quality in favour of scar tissue over wounds that would likely never fully heal.

Raising his own foil in a ready position he gave the petite girl a genuine smile. "Lesson two is that if somebody can talk straight while fighting, they're probably on the level. Besides, I'm not letting you slack off here just 'cause you've got more on your plate."

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"Well, I like Ellie too," Eve said, snatching the foil out of the air. There was a part of Eve that still thought of Erik's sister as 'the one who got away,' but it was a small part; and truth be told Eve very much loves her girlfriend, Etain Maher, and if Ellie didn't 'get away' what telepath and illusionist have now would have never been,

The green eyed student padded across the floor, her stocking clad footsteps making whisper quiet sounds until she settled into position. Eve realized her skirt, blouse and stockings limited her mobility somewhat; she was fast and acrobatic and unless she wanted to ruin her clothing or abandon her public image of modesty she'd have to be a little more conservative in her movements.

"I place little stock in talking," Eve said, saluting Erik with her foil. "I'm really good at reading people, and I'm also a telepath, and what people think and what people say seldom match up." She rolled her shoulder slightly in a shrug before falling into a ready stance, her foil in position. "I was also mute for many years, and that people abused their gift of speech to lie... well I hated them for it."

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"That's pretty rough," Erik agreed soberly, even as he lunged forward with a probing thrust of his foil, more meant to start things off than to actually make it through the Frenchwoman's guard. "Hate to say it but if you're planning on running an off-the-books, sneaky-sneak corporate espionage team you're probably going to have to get over the lying thing." One arm placed behind his back, he presented only his side to Eve, though she knew well enough that her instructor rarely stuck to formal stances for long. "Deception, omission, misdirection... kinda part and parcel."

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"If you don't want to be hit, don't be there was the blade lands," was one of the first lessons Erik imparted in his students, so rather than attempt to parry the probing attack Eve sidestepped it. "True," the petite Frenchwoman said conceding the point. She had settled into a stance mirroring Erik's own but the swordsman knew his student favored attacking from odd angles instead of straight on which left two options; Eve would either go for a quick and decisive strike to end it early, or she'd be the first to break form.

She went for the kill.

"I spent my last year with Young Freedom co-leading the team," she said, feinting an attack high, before striking lower. "I wanted them to be able to handle the same sort of stuff I ended up facing when I was new to the team. It strained a friendship, and didn't endear me to others, but I can say with confidence that they could have handled the things the previous incarnation did." She smiled, "I protect what's mine, Erik."

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Bending backward from the knees until he was practically parallel to the floor, Erik dodged under the lower strike by a hair's breadth before twisting at the waist and snapping back upright. It was a flashy, visually impressive move but Eve knew she'd forced the older fencer to expend a considerable amount of energy with her feint, placing him on the defensive right off the bat.

Not that one would have been able to tell from his relaxed tone as he continued their conversation. "Good to hear. About the protecting and the preparing, not the ticking people off part, obviously." Sliding back a half-step, he launched a trio of quick jabs to keep the white haired young woman occupied. "It happens. Not everyone is immediately endeared by my charms, either, if you can believe it."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Mmhm," Eve hummed in response, her lips twitching into a half-smile, her attention focused on parrying her teacher's attack; Erik was fast, very fast, and the last thrust came exceptionally close to landing a touch.

"Look," the green-eyed socialite began, snapping off a couple of probing attacks. "I'm not Archeville, I have no intention of telling you what to do with the money I send your way. I simply can't have eyes everywhere, and I'd sleep better knowing that the West End was being watched by someone I trust."

She took a quick step to her right, but her stockinged feet unexpectedly skid across the surface momentarily unbalancing her.

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Erik's movements took on a completely different quality as the name left Eve's lips, going from gracefully extravagant to sharp and precise, an angry staccato of humourless parries and pressing attacks. "Well. That's what I get for saying no double-talk," he admitted coolly, mouth compressed into a thin line. "Not something you're really supposed to know about but I assume a telepath knows when to not spread something around, yeah?" Stepping forward he twisted with his foil as Eve took a beat to recover her stance, wrenching her own weapon out of her hand to clatter nearby. Still in a ready stance, the instructor raised an eyebrow in questioning expectation.

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As expected, Eve broke form first.

Skirt be damned the agile young woman leaped backward, flipping away from Erik, and clearing a distance further than sanity says she should have been capable of. Eve landed silently on the padding, and a heartbeat later there was a blade in her hand.

Not the foil, no that was still resting upon the padded surface of the practice floor, but a slender cyan-hued blade of light. It had started as a mist, faint motes of color that rapidly took on shape and apparent solidity, A similar cyan light was leaking from the white-haired young woman's sage green eyes, and an intense expression was on her face.

The expression softened, and Eve gave Erik a faint smile. "Startled me," she said sheepishly. She made a quick gesture indicating herself with her free hand; still keeping the psychic blade up in a defensive posture. "La Renarde Bleue. And yes, I know how to keep secrets."

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Erik tilted his head slightly to one side and sniffed the air lightly as though expecting to catch a wiff of something, only looking faintly surprised by Eve's display after he did so. "Huh. Figured you'd at least be putting out a little radiation or glamour or something," he remarked absently before a broad grin spread across his face and he tossed his foil back over toward the pile of equipment. "That is fantastic!"

As the fencer raised his empty hand casually toward the ceiling the fluorescent lights crackled and pulsed brighter before an arc of electricity surged down to twine about his outstretched fingers. "Can't even tell you how distracting other people's energy blades usually are," he remarked as the sparking power followed the direction of his hand in a tight spiral until it had solidified into a glowing rapier complete with ribbons of electricity forming an ornate handguard. "I feel kinda bad though; I really should have been teaching you techniques for a weightless weapon this whole time. We've got a lot to catch up on now."

His smile was matched by the one Eden wore as she peeked over the edge of her crib on her tiptoes, making a happy sound at the colourful display.

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"Telepath, remember? Most people think too loud," Eve quirked her lips into a smile, "I have some idea what sort of distraction background noise can be." She cocked her head to the side, considering Erik's sniffing the air and his following comments. "Glamour is my girlfriend's thing. I assume, then, that you can sense magic. Energy too?" She raised an eyebrow.

"This," she said, spinning the psychic blade in her hand, continuing on assuming she was at least partially right. "Is something a little different. It's just a mental projection, will and desire made manifest." She grabbed the hilt of her psychic blade with two hands, and pulled it apart, giving the small woman two dagger like weapons to work with.

With a casual flick of her hand she tossed a dagger at Erik, which unraveled before it struck him. "It's not really real. Or, rather it is real, but only because my mind says it is real."

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"No worries. I've rarely been accused of thinking too much," Erik assured the mind-reader even as he reflexively stepped back a pace as the ephemeral blade stopped short of striking his chest. Watching the air in front of him for a moment as though not entirely convinced the dagger wasn't about to pop back into existence mid-flight. "I'd, uh, probably avoid eavesdropping on my bonus senses, though. Some of those sounds taste awful."

Circling around the floor a bit, he briefly checked to make sure Eden was in no danger of climbing out of her crib, leaning down to plant a light kiss on the laughing infant's forehead before resuming his examination of Eve's manifested weapon. "Hm. Wonder if we can even parry with these? Looks good at least. Heh, they'd love you, but if anyone ever knocks on your door and asks if you want to join the House of Swords, just say no, okay?" Considering for a moment he amended, "Actually, kick them in the nertz first, too."

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  • 1 month later...

Eve quirked an eyebrow.

"I take it you're not a fan of this House of Swords, then?" she asked, genuinely curious. "Why is this, if you don't mind my asking? I'm not usually in the habit of physically assaulting someone when they ask me to join their little clubhouse."

"I am fairly certain we can parry with these," the petite telepath smiled, casually spinning the psychic blade in her hand. "Most people I end up fighting don't have something to parry, which is one reason why I fight the way I do; quick, acrobatic, in and out."

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"Family reunions on my old man's side are a little strained," Erik supplied with a sardonic quirk of his lips, though he rolled his shoulder forcefully as he did so, working out a tenseness that hadn't been evident in his earlier movements. He gave Eve a sidelong look before losing the affectation and letting out a thin breath. "Think secret society meets mercenaries with a survival-of-the-fittest fetish. They tried to kidnap mi princesita when she was born and received the thunderous ass-whupping they had coming to them, believe me. Made it clear they're not welcome in Freedom but listening skills don't exactly get a shout out on the family crest." Reflexively looking back over the Eden's crib, the instructor brought his free hand up to hold something hanging from a cord under his shirt. "Point being, you've got powers, pedigree and pesos to... pique their interest, so consider this fair warning, yeah?"

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  • 2 weeks later...


Eve brushed her free hand through her hair, and cast a thoughtful look at Erik's daughter before looking back at him. "I understand why you're reluctant to accept funding from someone," the petite telepath said. "But I strongly urge you to set aside that reluctance."

"At least use it to invest in stronger security measures, if nothing else. This House of Swords doesn't sound as if they're willing to just drop a matter." She rolled her shoulder in a shrug, "or, if you can get me the information, we can always take the fight to them."

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"Ha, you're not too shy about the hard sell, huh, Evie?" Erik chuckled at the young woman's unflappably cavalier demeanor. He half expected Vince to chime in over the dojo's carefully rewired PA system about the building's security but the ever watchful artificial intelligence had evidently decided that discretion was, just this once, the better part of valour. "I think you can consider me more or less convinced. And I appreciate the vote of confidence, by the way, coming to us for this. But I was serious about getting some actual sparring in," he added with a challenging smirk, beckoning with his empty hand. "Show me what you got, big spender."

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"I know you were serious," Eve said, letting her psychic blade unravel. "I'm still wearing a skirt and blouse, a rather expensive skirt and blouse and I'm not particularly enamored with the idea of sparring in them. Especially if we're going to be doing it right."

As she talked she walked to the front of the school, past her jacket and the folio full of paperwork. She turned her head to look at Erik, and smiled, "So give me a moment to collect my gym bag, with it's change of clothing that I suspected I might need, and then," she flashed Erik an impish grin, "I can kick your butt all over the mat."

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