ISOLDE "BELLADONNA" FEATHERSWALLOW — UDF: Cetra East Command — Early Morning — FLASHBACK —@Aeolian
After subduing Mr. Crawley with a tranquilizer, he was carried off into a cryptic wing of the CEC that very few could access. Naturally, for such an important wing, fingerprints and face recognition technology were used. There were some who joked that not even light could escape that particular corridor, a fact Isolde knew all too well considering her talents. But Mr. Crawley would not be the only "visitor" Dr. Featherswallow would see that day. Several other offenders of varying degrees of offensery sat across from her in that cold white room, though none put up as much of a fight as Mr. Crawley had. Naturally, none had been pleased with the arrangement, but they gave up their right to make choices when they committed their crimes. Even a doll-faced 14-year-old lad had been among the throws of subjects to make Isolde's acquaintance.
Isolde could do nothing but shake her head, not in remorse that her experiments could potentially kill the boy, but rather, that she did not have enough young subjects to test on. You see, the fungus affects people differently. The invalid, the young, the old, the ill--the comet fungi infects demographics at varying rates, with the feeble and the ancient being most vulnerable to rapid bodily degradation. She had had enough homeless 50-year old street rats to spare for the deadly outer regions, but young specimens alluded her gravely. They were keener on how to evade the cruelty of the UDF system in ways that old chaps were too stubborn or dull to understand.
There was a time, when lost in her deep scientific revelry, Isolde had even pondered the idea of using neonates. But their immobility made them unsuitable for the data she needed to collect. And so, she left the idea within the netherregions of her mind where her darkest ideas laid to fester--never quite fully snuffed out.
After the last subject of the day was deemed unsuitable for the experiment, and therefore, had been escorted out of the facility for UDF law enforcement to deal with, Isolde returned to her office and riffled through some test subject documents. In nearly every UDF facility that housed an underground research lab, Isolde had an office just for herself. She decked out each one in her belongings, personalized to fit her inclination for vintage aesthetics and retro glamour. Each office was like an old-time movie set because Isolde liked to feel at home when she traveled, and what Isolde wanted, Isolde got. In most cases, the UDF obliged her demands with little pushback, though she would continue her efforts to persuade them that she needed younger subjects if she were to make faster progress in her research.
Resting one leg on top of the other, she pulled out the file about S.W.A.R.G, and went back over its contents. Despite the extravagant nature of her life, it was in fact, more insular and private than outsiders would believe. As such, the bubble that Isolde liked to stay in left her quite unfamiliar with many of the faces she saw in the folder. It was hard not to know about Emilia the Garuda or Lady Fleurane (whom she had seen once before during a gathering of the aristocracy) or even the hotshot Flyboy himself. But the others, she would be lying if she said she knew them. To enter into Isolde's world required invitation, otherwise, she knew nothing of you and made no effort to do so unless she deemed it productive. The only reason she even knew of her research counterpart, Amanita, was because her personal assistant had alerted her to the young Goryeo woman's research months before this rendezvous of Aeons had been announced. Fancy her interest peaked, Amanita may find herself given a special invitation when the time comes.
But for now, there was someone else among their ranks she sought after...
ISOLDE "BELLADONNA" FEATHERSWALLOW — UDF: Cetra East Command [Briefing Room] — Early Morning — @Aeolian
Fear. Anxiety. Consternation. These were emotions that often alluded Dr. Featherswallow. While the facts of her psyche were never truly made clear, many publications liked to simplify the complexities of her brilliant mind as classic sociopathy. But Isolde was much more than some hell-driven inhumane deviant that the media liked to paint her as. She was cruel, yes, but always intentional. And that animus means something. Everything about Isolde was an intentional display of her splendor and mystery. From the sophisticated swish of her hips as she glided into the briefing room. From the way she held herself upright, dignified and refined like a haughty socialite. Her bodyguard and personal assistant stationed at her sides were a personification of her ranking and importance. To the British-like posh timber of her voice--every waking moment, Isolde was "working".
As the meeting unfolded, Isolde took mental note of those present as her eyes coasted over their frames like a body scanner. Garuda, Amanita, Scylla...hmmmm. She was searching for someone, the intent in her gaze evident if you looked hard enough. Eventually, her eyes fell on her person of interest and the slight glimmer of a foxy smile appeared before falling back into neutrality. Isolde arched her neck back and whispered something to her personal assistant, who quickly began typing on some handheld device. Her bodyguard and son, Marcus, gave them a curious glare, but remained stoic in his platoon-like posture.
Isolde perked up at the mention of her name, a look of amusement on her face at the mention of controversies. She could sense the eyes that moved to her when Jeff said what he said. No doubt, others would have heard of her and the supposed rumors in the press. Unperturbed she would be, so long as their own conclusions didn't interfere with her duties. She was less surprised by the reveal of Bahumat being the target. She had only seen him in passing, but Isolde was a perceptive woman. And she saw a certain something within him--a feeling if you will. But beyond that, she wondered why the details of the mission had been left so vague till now. Dr. Featherswallow, for all her secrecy, hated being informed about things at the last minute.
Once the meeting was adjourned, everyone separated into their own pockets to either converse or prepare for the mission. Isolde murmured something to her personal assistant, Oerba, who scurried off towards Isolde's chambers. Tailed by Marcus, Dr. Featherswallow approached Jeff with a smarmy, familial expression.
Jeff looked her up and down, his face questioning. He continued walking and she followed beside him.
"You never seem to wanna follow protocol, do you Isolde?"
Isolde looked down at her outfit and then waved a hand flippantly, "Oh you mean this?"
"Where is your uniform Isolde?" he asked, voice stiffening.
"At the wash. How's your wife?"
Jeff paused, glaring at her intensely, but unable to penetrate Isolde's coyness. "Fuck." Jeff murmured, "Bates warned me you'd take issue..."
They continued on, heading towards a room where personnel were moving equipment here and about. "I'm a reasonable woman..."
Jeff grunted, unconvinced.
"...but you know me well. I hate surprises."
"It wasn't my call." Jeff said, stating a simple matter of fact.
Isolde raised an eyebrow, "Then who was it that kept me in the dark? Couldn't have been Bates, surely not."
"I don't know, but your right. It wasn't Bates. Someone far far above him. Someone in the UDF even a woman of your...."
He paused, thinking over his words carefully. Isolde was not Emilia, someone he could berate harshly without recourse. "renown does not have an ear to."
Isolde hummed to herself, contemplating what he said. It was unusual that she didn't have a say in matters regarding her work. At the very least, she always knew who the decision-makers were in any given situation that pertained to her duties. But for some higher-up in the UDF to purposefully withhold details from her was a foreign feeling, one that left her vexed, though she did well to hide the sentiment within her lullaby. Eventually, she stopped humming.
"Very well then..." she began, as though discarding a used napkin, "off you go. I'm sure you have other important matters to attend to. Please be sure to consult with my assistant, Oerba, once you uncover the puppeteer."
Jeff just shook his head and strolled off, likely thinking that Dr. Featherswallow was going to be a troublesome figure amongst their ranks. He only hoped that the others could handle her...ways.
Hands clasped together, Isolde walked up to her son, Marcus, who had been following closely behind them. He was fully clad, with his prosthetic appendages and a gun cradled in his arms, and a saber-like weapon crossing his back. She rested a hand on his arm, patting it softly "Be a dear and go fetch mommy her Dracaenae bone." He nodded solemnly and took off. Isolde watched him, tightening her face to hide her annoyance.
Isolde hadn't smoked a bone in over two years. Sometimes, old habits never die when you're hit with a sudden bout of immense indignation. Not even for Lady Featherswallow.
But the feeling wouldn't last long. Her true target of interest, in that very moment, strolled by. She watched the Aeon with the severity of a heated blade and smiled. And fluttering, just above her head, was a shadowy black moth. Isolde looked at it as though transmitting some secret telepathic message, and then it flew up high and out of sight.
Her machination was now in motion.
L O R E
Dracaenae bone: Or just "Dracaenae", a luxury brand of cigs only rich folks can afford.
Bates: A UDF general who ranks just above Jeff McMahon.