Shaking Down Shadows
Tanya Astasia Marisart
Ex-Pat Cat Burglar
Street Cred: 0 Notoriety: 1 Public Awareness: 0
Caucasian Human Female, 30, 5’5" Athletic (approx 120 pounds)
Lady Tanya Astasia Marisart is used to the fine life, and it shows. She wears the best clothes and her hair is coifed in the latest style. For culture, she frequents the museum, the opera, and the Seattle Repertory Theater. The more fun-loving side takes her to Dante’s Inferno and other similar nightclubs. She speaks in a very noticeable English accent and seems to always wear a scent of jasmine. She has found that Seattle society is eager to open doors for a wealthy Englishwoman with a title. Completely uninhibited, she is openly bisexual and is not a stranger to the beds of some of the social elite men and women in Seattle.
But Tanya also has a darker side to her. She is as completely comfortable in the shadows as in the spotlight. She is a skilled burglar and thief and uses her social contacts to provide her with her targets. Suffice it to say that there is no shortage of things to steal.
Tanya Astasia Marisart
Tanya Astasia Marisart was born on December 3rd, 2045. She was the third child and only daughter of Lord Sir Malcolm Marisart, 15th Viscount of Leicester and Lady Megan Marisart, Nee Murdoch. Her brothers were twins, Robert and Stanley. Tanya was named for a distant maternal aunt that had been good to Lady Megan and her brothers had traditional Marisart family names. Her home was the entailed estate at Leicester, a sprawling stone manor in the heart of Cornwall, England. The estate itself spread for miles on all sides of the manor and included large tracts of farmland, forest, and a mid-sized lake, encompassing several villages and the town of Leicester. The previous Viscounts had been good managers and had invested wisely, able to change with the shifting winds of the events that began in 2011. Lord Malcolm had continued this trait and as a result the family wealth was considerably more than enough to support the huge house and provide for an extremely healthy income for Lord Malcolm and his family.
Tanya grew up with a series of nurses and nannies and governesses. Her earliest memories were of these various women dressing, feeding, and educating her. She rarely saw her parents. Lady Megan was involved in many charitable causes and Lord Malcolm was always in London doing whatever noble born lords do in London. On occasion, her parents would both be at the manor at the same time, but they rarely had time for their young daughter. She saw her brothers when they were home on holiday from school. The boys were three years her senior and never had time for her, except to belittle her as being the mistake of the family. Her parents had planned for the boys, but Tanya had been the result of a rare after-party coupling of her parents and she was subtly reminded of that all the time. Sometimes the reminders were not so subtle.
Her early years were spent trying to avoid her nannies and governesses. She was an extremely active child and spent much time wandering the fields and woodlands of the estate, much to the chagrin and horror of the women in charge of her. Several were sacked for failing to keep control of the precocious girl. As Tanya did not like them anyway, she cared little for their fate. When Tanya was ten, her parents hired Mlle Angelique le Coeur to be the latest in the line of governesses. Mlle le Coeur was French and at only twenty years old, was the youngest governess Tanya had been provided. And she was fun. She escaped to the fields and woods with Tanya and turned the escape into a class. Suddenly, learning was interesting. Angelique new many things that were of interest to her young charge and presented them in such an engaging manner that Tanya lapped the knowledge up. Trips to the woods became wonderlands of discovery as she learned of herbs and flowers, of the various types of tree, fish, and fowl on the estate. A visit to the small museum in the town of Leicester introduced the young girl to art. It was while paging through tomes of history and art that she found an affinity for things of art. Jewelry, sculptures, paintings, carvings; all were of intense interest, especially jewelry. She liked the pictures of it and wondered what it would feel like to wear it, to hold it, to smell it.
Suddenly these things of art became a passion, fueling what would become a lifelong relationship. She had to have it. She began “collecting” small things from around the house for her treasure box. Bits and pieces of her mother’s costume jewelry found their way into the hidden trove, as well as a couple small pieces of statuary, an ornamental desk clock, pieces of tableware, and the like. Some things were just too hard to resist. But one little girl cannot go long at this without being found out and Tanya was careless one day. Cook caught her taking a valuable butter dish and reported the act to Lady Megan. Lord Malcolm was summoned home to deal with “his” daughter and the most frightful row ensued. After much back and forth recrimination Mlle le Coeur was sacked for not properly supervising “that girl” and it was decided that Tanya would be shipped off to a boarding school.
For Tanya, life at boarding school could be summed up in a few words: dreary, stilted, boring, insulting, corporal punishment, and dismissal. Really, the only thing that was different about any of the first eight schools she attended was the name and the building façade. St. Margaret’s was Miss Guilford’s was Star North Academy was……..well, the point is that they were all depressingly the same on the inside. Tanya was stifled. Oh, she learned some French, German, and Italian. She passed her tests in reading, math, and science and excelled at outdoor sports. She also excelled at the art of stealing. She became quite good at picking locks and quickly learned how to design and build devices to help her defeat the more sophisticated mag-locks in their various forms. Card readers and scanners were like toys to her. What she took was usually nothing important, but sometimes was. The corporal punishment and dismissals always followed her getting caught. The psychologist at the third school placed the blame on her parents. The one at the fourth school thought that she was trying to act out childish passive/aggressive tendencies. The one at the fifth school recommended electric-shock treatments. The only one that was really correct was at the sixth school. After lengthy observation, she declared that the girl had an extraordinary skill at thieving and that the only reason she was caught was because she wanted to get caught. It was true; getting caught meant punishment and dismissal and leaving a place she was bored with.
When she was fifteen, Tanya was sent to her ninth boarding school, St. Rose’s Academy for Girls. The unofficial but well known name included the word “Wayward”. Tanya was sent to the school in the middle of the term, resigned to a repeat of the other institutions she had attended. But it was here that her life changed. She found boys. And she found girls. And sex. She had developed physically a great deal during the previous months and could easily be considered very pretty, if not beautiful. And she had a Name. Her father was the Viscount of Leicester, and even in a country full of noble blood, that would have been enough to get her noticed even if she had not filled out her figure. She was seduced by her roommate the second week she was at school. She was seduced by the boyfriend of her roommate the third week she was at school. She found that while sex with boys could be fun, she rather preferred to have a girl in her bed, but she was not picky enough to say no to a likeable boy. St. Rose’s had a companion school for (wayward) boys a half mile from the girl’s buildings and Tanya visited at the boy’s academy on occasion, even though it was forbidden for the students to mix with each other unless under supervision.
While at St. Rose’s, Tanya improved her thieving skills. She had found a place she liked and no longer needed to get caught so that she would be dismissed. She became more careful, more clever, and more skilled at using equipment to bypass the ever more sophisticated locks. Then, while attending a long all-weekend sex, drinking, smoking, drug party she met Roger Alan Grinsby. Roger was her random bed partner the first afternoon of the four-day binge, but she sensed that he was something more. As they talked before, during, and after sex she realized that she might have found someone very much like her. Three hours after he left she found out that he was, indeed, quite like her and that he had stolen her bracelet. She tracked him down and found him with his next victim. The girl was so drugged that she did not even realize he had her shirt and bra off and was in the process of relieving her of her necklace. From her vantage point at the open door she watched him as he had his way with the necklace and then the girl. Tanya grabbed his arm as he left the room and challenged him with taking her bracelet. He smiled and admitted it, offering to return the bauble and share his gains from the other girls if she did not tell on him.
An entirely new vista opened to her. Between episodes of good sex, he told her of his life of thievery. She cut short her attendance at the rather boring party and went with him on his motorcycle to London. There he took her to meet One-Eyed Jack, his fence and sometime partner. True to his word he shared the gains from his thefts at the party and afterwards took her to a cheap no-frills motel for a night of sex and revelation. She found out that Roger Alan Grinsby was not even a student at the boy’s school, but a small-time thief and that One-Eyed Jack was not just his fence, but his trainer and mentor. Tanya said he was Roger’s Fagin, but the literary reference was lost on her companion. In the morning, she made Roger take her back to the fence and she convinced him to teach her his craft. In the future, Tanya always looked at that fortuitous meeting with Roger as the turning point in her life. The game changed from just taking things because they looked pretty to taking things because they were valuable.
Tanya and Jack made an instant connection and she started going to London at any opportunity. The Fagin-like One-Eyed Jack realized that he had a real student in Tanya and devoted hours to teaching her the fine points of stealing. She used some of her early gains to purchase her own motorcycle for her trips. It took several months, but Roger finally came to realize that he was no longer of any real importance to either of them and eventually faded out of their lives. Jack took Tanya to museums and gave her art books and schooled her on the finer points of forgery, giving her the benefit of his years of experience in the art of thieving. At school she took courses that he recommended and learned that she had a knack for gymnastics. She would never be great, but she did not need to be. She only needed to be good enough. He sent her to visit fancy boutiques and jewelry shops to see how the elite lived. One-Eyed Jack became the headmaster of her real finishing school, and his contacts became her teachers.
Tanya became a model student at St. Rose’s Academy for (Wayward) Girls, surpassing the expectations and desires of her instructors and her parents. Lord Malcolm even began making plans to make an advantageous match for his daughter. Of course, what he really meant was advantageous to him and the family. A number of young men were put forward as possible candidates by mothers anxious to see their sons marry into the nobility and by fathers anxious to see their sons marry into the wealthy. Lord Malcolm made no secrets of this and Tanya knew full well what was expected of her and for once she agreed to everything her father said. After all, she was now realizing that movement in the circle of the elite and privileged would widen her opportunities for…….for……..well, it actually was not strictly for the spending money as she had plenty of that. It was for the thrill of doing it; of jamming past locks, of getting away with it. Her double life was going perfectly and heading straight to where she wanted it.
Unfortunately, as so often happens when the road ahead is straight to where you want it to go, Tanya was forced to take a detour. The coming out party is an archaic instrument in which socially elite families show off their newly finished daughters to the public and to prospective husbands. Lord Malcolm had made a big deal of this party and it was to be one of the social events of the season. Eligible bachelors from all over England and some from Europe would be in attendance for the unveiling of his daughter. He had managed to convince his somewhat estranged wife to put on a good family face and had demanded that his sons also attend in a show of solidarity and support. All five were riding in the chauffeured Rolls Silver Python ’62 as it made its way through London to the site of the ball at the majestic Crown Hotel. The eighteen year-old Tanya was standing with her shoulders and head through the sun roof when she saw the headlights of a car rapidly approaching the intersection they were crossing. Strangely, the car was accelerating, not slowing down for the intersection. Tanya did not even have time to scream before the collision ejected her from the Rolls, nearly ripping her right arm off just above the elbow as she shot through the opening. Landing thirty feet from the mangled car she saw that the Rolls had lived up to its reputation as one of the sturdiest and safest cars ever built. Her brothers were shaken but stirring and Lord Malcolm was reaching for the door when the massive automobile exploded in a ball of fire.
In shock from the loss of blood Tanya was barely able to instinctively roll behind the protection of a low wall at the entrance for the tube. How she survived at all was a miracle. Emergency responders found her bleeding and unconscious near the flaming wreckage and managed to get her to a hospital. She had no identification but the Rolls was identified and she was given the best medical care available and the finest surgeons and specialists were called in to save her life. The damage to the right arm was too severe and it was removed from near the shoulder. The Marisart connection made sure that Tanya was provided with the best that considerable wealth could afford, providing top of the line cybernetics to replace her lost right arm.
Tanya was kept in a drug-induced coma for weeks while the surgeries were performed and checked. Cosmetic surgeons were called in to make the implant look as seamless and real as the original and to hide the scars that the explosion had left on her face. She came out of the coma screaming. To her the accident was just seconds old and it took serious sedatives and counseling to convince her that it had been seven months ago. A detective came to see her when she was feeling a bit better. He just wanted to take her statement for the records and to finish the file to close the case. He gently made sure that she knew she was the sole survivor and that all the others had died, to include her immediate family, the chauffeur, and the driver of the other car. The detective thanked her for her statement, closed his notebook, and left. Case closed.
Jeremy Lodge Marisart, a cousin, had inherited the title of the 16th Viscount of Leicester through an archaic system of entailments that decreed the succession to be through the closest living male relative. He had also been appointed as the manager of a trust fund set up from her mother’s fortune and was kind enough to agree to cover Tanya’s immense medical expenses. He set her up in an expensive flat, provided her with an allowance of 1000 Nuyen a month, and covered normal living expenses, which included a personal maid. In the beginning, Tanya was glad of it. She had nothing to worry about and no responsibilities. Of course, there was no question that she had been removed from the list of eligible girls. Most of her old friends refused to return her calls or if they did they gave a litany of excuses why they could not see her this weekend or the next or even the next. She used the alone time learning to master her new arm before venturing back out into society. She reached out to her favorite uncle, Lord Sir Gregory Murdoch, for help. The media mogul controlled almost every form of entertainment in England and Europe and had been her mother’s brother. He had been almost the only family member to visit her in the hospital and then at her flat. Even her cousin, the honorable 16th Viscount Marisart, had just sent lawyers to keep her informed of what her options were and to get her signature on various documents. Lord Gregory encouraged Tanya to get involved in some sort of social life and offered to get her tickets to concerts and other events. Tanya also contacted her old mentor, One-Eyed Jack, who was more than willing to rekindle their relationship. She accepted the offers of both men and entered the next stage of her life.
The explosion, subsequent surgeries, and the recovery had changed Tanya beyond the physical aspects. She began to exhibit an obsession for order in her life and in her home. Everything in her flat had its place and she noticed when something had been moved; even the tiniest vase or candlestick. She would make a special effort to put things back where they belonged or tell the maid to do so. The memories of the explosion directly affected her mind with nightmares and a need to take risks. It became common for her to wake in the middle of the night, screaming for her family to move quicker. Sometimes the nightmare started as she was standing in the open sun roof. If she had been able to alert the chauffeur quicker instead of just watching the approaching car she could have saved them. Sometimes the dream starts when she was lying on the sidewalk looking at her family in the car. She was willing her father to move faster but he never made it to the door in time. Over time the nightmares became less frequent, but have never gone completely away. Also, she keenly felt that if she had been faster herself, if she had dared to move instead of cowering behind the tube wall she might have raced to the door and opened it in time. She has resolved to never let that happen again, which manifests by forcing her to take risks.
Anne, Barbara, Claudia, and Cora were the first four personal maids. None lasted more than four months. They all complained of working conditions that were deplorable. Tanya’s pickiness and her nightmares were enough to chase all of them away. Cora had just abruptly resigned the posting and Cousin Jeremy was advertising for a suitable replacement when Tanya found Monique. The girl was not trying to interview for the position of personal to a spoiled rich girl with psychological problems, but that was exactly what she was doing when Tanya first saw her. She was picking pockets at a concert venue, and doing it quite well. Her technique was nearly flawless and probably only really visible to another pickpocket. Tanya let the teenaged thief make off with several wallets before she bumped her and stripped two of them away from her. Tanya surprised herself with her own skill, noting that the dexterity of the artificial hand made difficult things easy. She carefully followed the other pickpocket to a private spot where she found the girl stripping the wallets of cash and downloading the credsticks to her own. Tanya interrupted her, bringing out the wallets she had taken from her. She offered to take the girl on if she wanted a job, explaining that she needed help and in turn would help train her. Tanya called her cousin and told him that she had hired a maid on her own and asked him to please stop sending more over. Monique Chevalier became her maid and companion from that night, proving extremely resilient in the face of Tanya’s fits and flaws. The friendship has grown over the years and Monique has stayed. Even Monique cannot explain why she stays when others would give up, but stay she does.
The next years were fruitful in several ways. She re-entered high society slowly, one contact, one party, one concert at a time. It took her three months to get laid and the experience was like breaking a dam. She ran through one elite socialite toy after another. Women and men passed into and out of her bed, none staying for more than a month. She stayed away from those who were married or otherwise in another serious relationship, but others were fair game to her. Each conquest provided another link to the life she wanted. She was more cautious in getting back into stealing. She worked closely with Jack to plan each theft. Her new arm was more dexterous than the original and the electrical impulses proved more reliable that the nerves in her old arm. Jack opened her eyes to new possibilities. She spent money having a good commlink implanted. The new flexibility was totally mind boggling; she could mentally thumb her ‘link on and access everything without physically touching anything. Through Jack, she also learned to use some of the more exotic tools of her trade. The monofilament whip is a terrifying weapon, able to cut through flesh and bones with ease. Amazed at is versatility, she studied its uses and became quite proficient with it. The more she practiced the more she realized its potential. Jack had one specially made for her that included a customized grip and specialized fibers to help her hold onto it. Jack told emphatic in telling her that it makes good sense to drug her victims than to kill them. With that in mind, she was introduced to the Parashield Dart Pistol. She experimented with the rifle as well, but settled on the pistol as being easier to carry. She loaded her darts with Narcoject and gained a good proficiency with the weapon. She liked the grapple gun, but it gave her fits early on in her training with it. She does like what it adds to her arsenal, though and so had kept practicing with it.
Tanya met George Landon, Jr at a grand party given at the British Museum. He was the second son of the Conservative MP from Brighton, and although not a political mover and shaker himself, his family certainly was and they had the plus of being wealthy. George dressed well, walked well, and talked well. Seducing him was ridiculously easy and he willingly fell into her bed. His presence at her side opened doors even her name could not. She had a noble name but he had a political one. He never had a clue what she was doing, was a boring conversationalist when not talking about himself, and was barely passable in bed, but he unwittingly set up a number of his friends for Tanya. George liked to think his family made him bulletproof, but he was sadly mistaken. George had a secret; he was hooked on Bliss. He lived well beyond the allowance his father provided him and was constantly borrowing from friends to fuel his habit. One night Tanya received a call from Monique, letting her know that she should return to the flat as soon as possible and to be prepared for the police. The maid had been given the night off and had returned to the flat to find that George had decided to throw a major party in Tanya’s absence. She found police and hotel building security at the door and had immediately called Tanya. George’s party had included a number of high society acquaintances, several paid prostitutes, and a lot of the drugs currently making the rounds of the idle rich. He had taken the underage daughter of a prominent cabinet minister into the bedroom for sex and drugs. Poor George had died on top of the girl from a heavy overdose of several illegal drugs, but he had died with a smile on his face. The girl’s screams had alerted the others, one of whom had called the Doc Wagon, the Doc Wagon had notified hotel security, who had called the police. The building security personnel had held all of the guests until the police arrived and began questioning everyone. Someone leaked the news and a personal vid of the scene made the rounds of the media, lying open the sexual games and drug use of the social elite. The cabinet minister was not pleased that the vid had captured his very drunk 14 year old daughter in her naked glory, high on Bliss and other drugs. The ensuing scandal swept London’s high society, embroiling a very unhappy 16th Viscount Leicester.
The fallout of the scandal caused Cousin Jeremy to summon Tanya to his London offices. Characteristically, he barely said a word, simply pushing a portfolio to her from across his desk. Inside were passports, credsticks, a pair of first class airline tickets to Seattle, UCAS, and the address of her new home. Tanya realized that she was being exiled from London. She also realized that she was being dismissed and that no discussion would be considered. Once out of the building she contacted Lord Murdoch and explained what had happened. Sir Gregory commiserated with her, but told her that he had no pull with Jeremy. However, he did tell her that she could do better for a place to live and that he would square it with Jeremy and make some calls to people he knew in Seattle. Tanya arrived back at her flat to find Monique already packing for the trip.
Her uncle was true to his word. When Tanya landed in Seattle, she was met by a leggy redhead who introduced herself as Petra Spent. Her clothes were exquisitely tailored to fit her almost agonizingly perfect figure. She looked to be about thirty years old and maybe 5’6” tall. As she led Tanya to a waiting limousine Petra explained the luggage would be picked up and delivered to the suite, along with Monique. She indicated that she worked for Trident Media Group as a reporter and was going to see that Tanya was well taken care of. Apparently dear Lord Gregory had remembered her from an interview she had wrangled from the normally reticent media man when he had been visiting Seattle on business a year earlier and he had called her to ask for some favors. She talked little but gave off an air of competence. The two chatted briefly about fashion in Seattle then settled down for the ride to the Gates Undersound Hotel, a luxury hotel known for having several floors built under the sound, some with floor to ceiling windows looking into the water.
Petra had managed to smooth the way for Tanya to take up residence on sub-floor three, in one of the special suites. At the hotel a uniformed man opened the door to the limo and assisted the women out. He escorted them to the large glass front door and opened it for them wishing them a great day. The large lobby they stepped into was subtly decorated in a seascape motif; the quality of the décor elegant without being ostentatious. Tanya and Petra had barely stepped through the door when another uniformed man appeared in front to them, welcoming them to the hotel. He asked if they were here to dine in the restaurant or to check in and led them to the front desk when Petra told him that you were checking in. The woman behind the counter took Tanya’s name and was almost immediately replaced by a very nice gentleman who introduced himself as the manager. He gave personal attention to his new long-term resident, making sure that she was taken care of. He outlined the basics of the hotel and had her sign the final papers for the lease, which would be sent immediately to Jeremy in London. He asked about the luggage and nodded when told it was being delivered, saying that it would be taken to the room on arrival. The manager escorted Tanya and Petra to the room, providing personalized keys after he opened the door. A large living area suitable for entertaining a group of people forms the center piece of the immense suite. A door leads to a full kitchen and dining area and others to a large master bedroom and three mid-size smaller bedrooms. The master bedroom has a large private bathroom; the smaller bedrooms each have a standard size bathroom, with a half bathroom off the living room. The manager waited for the appropriate moment to move to the ceiling to floor curtains and pressed a button to open them, exposing the seamless window that looks out into the water of the sound. The water is clear and has a beautiful blue tint. He said that the master bedroom has the same window system then asked if Tanya’s maid will be arriving with the luggage and seems satisfied when told she was. Tanya asked if she can replace furniture and was told that the hotel furnishings could be placed in storage until she moves out. After welcoming her again, the manager bowed out, closing the door behind him. Tanya collapsed on the long divan, looking out the window into the sea and thinking that Jeremy would be livid when he found out how much this will be costing. Petra noted the time and said that she had to leave for work but would call later to see if Tanya would like to go out for dinner. After she left, Tanya walked about the suite until Monique arrived with the luggage. The girl asked if Tanya had any instructions on what to put where then got to work unpacking.
Such was the start of the great relationship that developed between the reporter and the thief. Over the next three years, Petra helped Tanya navigate the shoals of Seattle high society. She is also a frequent bedmate, although both consider the relationship more of convenience than anything else. Certainly, while it is complex it seems to work for both of them. It is clear to Tanya that Petra’s rise within the Trident Media Group is due to talent and composure. The woman simply refuses to panic, even when things begin to go horribly wrong. She has told Tanya many times that crisis mode is her usual mode. Her clothing style is chic, but understated; after all it does not do well to upstage the stars or the social glitterati that she interviews. Her charisma, charm, and sheer dogged persistence have made her a very successful reporter and a true asset to her employers. Her stories are never the boring ones that appear on page nine, but are the headlines of the front page; the ones that flip the script and get the big reveals. She practically lives in the world that Tanya needs to belong to and has used her skill and contacts to market her British friend. She sells the whole “Brit noble in self-imposed exile” concept and runs it perfectly. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Tanya began to receive invitations to various social engagements; all quietly engineered by Petra. The reporter has guided Tanya to the right boutiques to fill out her wardrobe, to the right salons for hair and nails, and even to a voice coach to school her in the right things to say. The definite Brit accent is a plus, as is the link to a noble title. Before long, Petra’s assistance has propelled Tanya to be a regular on the society circuit, providing her with information she can use to pick up her real profession.
It is Petra’s recommendation that Tanya expand her circle and she encourages her to get exclusive access to some of the best places in the city, telling her that she needs to be seen in these places if she wants to go big. With that in mind, favors are called in and Tanya gets the golden pass to Dante’s Inferno, including the special Purgatory and Hell levels and a posh box at the Seattle Opera. Tanya frequently takes advantage of the small gym and climbing wall at the hotel and goes on long runs through the downtown district. The runs help keep her body toned and she now pretty much knows the streets by heart. Petra owns a Mirage motorcycle and on her advice Tanya bought one and learned to ride it. She and Petra now take trips up and down the coast whenever they both have a rare couple of days off.
Petra has contacts all over the city through her position in the media company and has introduced Tanya to many of them. One of those contacts is Ni Ni Xiaolu, owner of the exclusive Xao Tau Antiques. On the surface Miss Xiaolu is an excellent businesswoman and philanthropist, but that hides her real life as a fence for stolen property and a contact for the Octagon, a Chinese Triad with ties to the Red Dragon Association operating out of Hong Kong. She is an exceptional woman and she and Tanya have hit it off well. Tanya uses her as a fence exclusively, refusing to go anywhere else. Ni Ni gives a fair price for stolen merchandise, a plus for anyone in Tanya’s line of work, and she has also been able to put Tanya into Chinese society, where she was able to improve her language skills. Over the years, Miss Xiaolu has become much more than a friend. Tanya loves the smell of the shop and has purchased a number of nice pieces there. Ni Ni has visited Tanya’s apartment numerous times to provide advice on decoration and accent pieces. Her enthusiasm for antiques is real and a bit of it has rubbed off on Tanya.
Miss Xiaolu is single and a striking beauty. Her porcelain skin contrasts with her ebon tresses to give the impression to her customers that she is a doll. She cultivates that image well, using it to get information for the Triad. Before she met Tanya, her contacts were mostly criminals and the occasional clients that came into the store for the genuine antiques she sells, but now she is a frequent companion of the Brit exile at social events and loves the attention. She never forgets her roots and is fanatically loyal to the Triad, even convincing her superiors in the organization of the advantages of working with the noble-born thief. The trysts they share frequently include some form of information exchange before or after sex.
Tanya met Mary Stokes is another person that she met through an introduction from Petra. Mary is a wild party girl with a reputation for partying hard and frequently. She is a source of information on who is partying where and with whom. The daughter of a wealthy family, she seems to always have enough money to fund her lifestyle. Fun and gorgeous, she hides her intelligence behind a façade of wildness. She has a family story similar to Tanya’s, but when her family died, Mary inherited everything. The two became almost instant friends and becoming occasional bedmates seemed almost natural.
Then there is Lyle. Lyle Green. Petra did not make that connection. Lyle found Tanya all on his own. Tanya was attending a party thrown by Margaret Abbeville, the trophy wife of would-be politico Martin Abbeville. Petra had arranged the invitation for Tanya, telling her that she would meet some of the current and future movers and shakers in Seattle politics. Interested in anything that might giver a leg up in this sprawl, she went. She had just finished a dance with a rather bland man who had been hitting the no-host bar from early in the evening and smelled of it. The man had tried to grope her on the dance floor and it was all she could do to keep from slapping him. She was amused that old, heavy-set rich men were no different in the UCAS than in England. Somehow that was comfortable and it had brought a smile to her face. Unfortunately, the man had noticed the smile and misinterpreted it as an invitation for some sort of private activity. She had been rescued by a handsome young man who cut in and reminded her that she had promised the next dance to him. Laughing, she excused herself to the groping man and allowed Lyle to take her to the floor. He immediately swept her away and proved to be a marvelous dancer. And he apparently knew almost everyone in the room. During a break in the music he took her outside to look at the view below the penthouse apartment they were in and told her that he had been seeking her out. Lyle said that he had heard interesting things about Tanya from a contact he had in the Octagon and that he had a job for her if she was interested.
And just like that, Tanya had met her Fixer. He was the go-to man for a number of shadowy figures who called him when they had problems. He would put the talent together and get the job done, taking care of the people at both ends of the operation. After the initial meeting, Lyle would call her up if he had something interesting for her. The jobs were usually solo but would occasionally call for her to work with others. The relationship developed beyond the Fixer/Client realm when he started taking her on dates. Real dates, like the latest tri-vids and concerts. Private dinners led to private time in his bed and Tanya found herself attracted to a man for the first time. Neither was exclusive in their sleeping partners, but Tanya began to realize that Lyle was different from the other men she had slept with. First, she did not want to rob him, second she did not want the relationship to end as the time together went past the normal two month time limit, and third, he did not demand that she spend all of her time with him. When Petra and Monique both agreed that she was falling for the man, Tanya had actually blushed a bit, eliciting no end of laughter from her friends. They share a professional relationship when there is work to be done but the time away from work could hardly be called professional.
But Lyle was not the only person calling on the time and skills of the British thief. The Octagon used her connection with Ni Ni to request the occasional use of her skill set. The Triad gives Tanya technical and personnel support through the antiques dealer and Tanya does the odd job for the Triad. Some of the Triad projects involve diving into the seamier side of Seattle but some of her jobs for Lyle had already taken her to such places as the Barrens. Tanya had been shocked and more than a bit uncertain of herself the first time she did a job in that broken and wounded district of the sprawl. This was a part of Seattle that she barely knew existed, much less ever planned on seeing up close. A fish out of water at first, she is now comfortable in the bleaker districts and neighborhoods of the larger sprawl. So far, she has not been tasked with something she cannot do and is able to call on Triad support if it is needed as well as using Lyle as a contact for other shadowy people to help her. In some aspects, she recognizes that although she does a lot of independent work, she is more and more at the call of the Triad leadership than Lyle, which should make her uncomfortable, but strangely does not. They give her the flexibility to work her own projects, even providing assistance when asked. In turn she does their projects as requested in a form of mutual symbiosis.