Chapter 1:  Boring Galas

Chapter 1: Boring Galas

A Chapter by Blankspaces

Kiren is trapped between the truth she knows and lies that protects the dark secrets in the Corporation. Her brilliance shines as she searches for answers and exact revenge on those who wronged her






Her father was unhappy.  She stared out the window of their luxurious antique limousine trying to avoid eye contact but she could still see his disproving glances in the dim reflection on the glass. 


There was a short list of items that he could have been upset about.  The one that she was really worried about was if he had found out about her questionable hobby.   Her brain raced through the scenario and decided that it seems unlikely since that was not conversation to be had before a Gala.


She frowned.  So why was he shooting passive aggressive glances at her?    She turned around and stared at him questioningly.  The same steel blue eyes stared back at her.   Her father’s eyes has been synonymous with handsome, intense, and hypnotic but the same eyes on her drew adjectives like boring, deaden, not-quite right; something the media liked to point out on days when the gossips seemed dry.


“What’s on your mind father?” she asked nonchalantly.


She tilted her head to the side and maintained her gaze.  This was a trick she had perfected since a young age to extract information from others.  Her father looked away back into the darkness of the window on his side.  “Nothing you need to concern yourself with.”


“Are you upset that Ciel has an intense crush on you and will likely embarrass you in front of everyone?” she replied playfully.  Her smile widened when her father rustled uncomfortably.


He shot her another disapproving glance, “Ciel is the least of my problems.  I said it’s none of your business Kiren and trying to play the guessing game is not going to work.”


Kiren smiled but did not press the issue.  When she bantered with her father it strangely felt normal, like they had a normal father-daughter relationship and he wasn’t the person who had her mother murdered.


She idly tugged at her black satin dress.  It was one of 3 dresses that was in the current rotation for the bi-monthly Galas that she had to attend.  It was also the same dress she wore to funerals.    She was corporate royalty, albeit the runty version that the media either pity or viciously attacked depending on their mood.  Repeating a dress was a defamation of capitalism and abhorred to the up most degree.   The other girls her age spent a heavy amount of resources ensuring they wore the most upcoming styles and spread a thick network of spies to ensure that no one had a dress that remotely resembled another dress current or past. 


After all the media published in depth discussions on each outfit selected in agonizing detail, with side by side comparisons of accessories, color choice, stylistic variations, and anything that could possible generate traffic and sales.   Kiren realized after her 15th birthday, that the only way out of this media circus was to wear the same dresses as often as possible.  It was hard at first.  The media ate into her with vicious comments which was only tempered by their fear of incurring the wrath of her father.  Eventually it became boring.   How many times can someone write about the same dress?  After six Galas she fell out of the news completely.  It was as if they had forgotten her.   Small victories, her brain said smugly. 


Their car glided on the electric rails that artful sat on top of the dark expansive surface of a still lake, while water fountains spewed overhead creating a tunnel of elegant arches.   She sighed.  This Gala was particularly annoying as Ciel La Foy was the appointed host.  He was the Chief General of Sector 7 the Pharmaceutical and Beauty Industry.   In keeping with his vain, overtly dramatic personality, he insisted the gala was to be held in his “Diamond Palace” a perfectly constructed crystal dome in an artificial island on his estate lake.     This was also a huge pain, because it was situated an hour outside of Central.


No expenses were spared to make this gala one to remember, especially since 6 months ago the Hartwicks threw a Gala that broke the record for the most expensive Gala ever held.   Kiren still found gold dust in her clothes despite having them cleaned multiple times.   Ciel was clearly gunning to have that record broken by any means possible.  


After what seemed like an endless line of fantastically intricate water arches they finally arrived onto the driveway in front of the imposing Ibethian white marble steps.  Each piece of the steps were carved from one full slab of marble, possibly illegally smuggled from the Republic League of Nations, commonly referred to as RLN, one of the three mega nations of the world. 


The steps were covered in a pale pink carpet, woven with deep red roses and luminescent silver.   That was clearly the theme of tonight, over-the-top roses in a crystal palace.  No wondered Ciel’s invitation insisted on traditional ball gowns, and even suggested that men should wear tuxedos. 


Of course her father was never the people pleaser and blatantly refused.  He stepped out of the car in a crisp, slate gray suit and immediately the flashes of the media cameras exploded in their face.   He neither waved nor smiled, simply choosing to carry his aloof Chief General face as he made his way up the stairs.   Kiren followed suit behind.  She made sure that she walked just far enough behind that she would not be included in any of tomorrow’s photos of her father.  The media had an unspoken appreciation for this since pictures of her father was one of the most sought after photos by the women of the Corporation between the ages of 17-58.  A photo that included her in the backdrop immediately decreased viewership by 20%, a tough margin loss to swallow.   This also kept her out of the non-stop media circus whenever possible.


At the top of the steps was a long hallway covered in towering shimmery glass panels cut all in varying sizes of diamonds shapes that gave the darker world outside a magically sheen.    When they stepped through the open iron wrought doors framed by butlers, a sudden hush fell on them.  The clicks of cameras, and screaming reporters fell away.  Instead what assaulted her senses was the wafting smell of roses and the sight of columns and columns of them twinging their way up the supporting marble arches between the glass galleries.  She could see from the corner of her eyes, each perfect rose was a deep blood red on one side of the petal while the other side was a deathly white.  Blood and bones, she thought to herself.  That was fitting name for a rose engineered by Evandra La Foy, twin sister of Ciel.   Her team pioneered twelve of the twenty ground breaking medical technology in the last decade, and she was known to be somewhat of a mad scientist, albeit one would have never guessed by her appearance. 


As if on cue, Evandra glided towards them in a flowing white gown, trimmed in hand painted gold roses.  Her hair was pulled into a sleek wrap, accentuating her cheek bones, her neckline and her signature lipstick of the same shade as the roses around them.   


“Ventarius Lemenion,” she called with a wide smile.  “You are so very late.  Ciel refuses to make his entrance until you arrive.  He is such a child, but let’s not keep everyone waiting.”


Kiren rolled her eyes as her father offered the other woman his arm.  They glided into the central room ever the perfect couple causing the heads of everyone in the vicinity to turn and glare with admiration and envy.   Kiren slipped in behind them, sticking to the shadows of the marble columns.  They were late; she looked around mentally tallying everyone who was here.  Despite the heavy media coverage, the Galas were private affairs where only the Chief Generals, their families, and some of the Senior Presidents of the Corporation were invited.   Kiren knew almost everyone by heart.  The lights in the room dimmed, as the crystal dome overhead started to open like lotus.  Suddenly an announcers voice blared across the room, calling for silence, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please turn your attention to your host of tonight’s magical adventure, Ciel LA FOY!” 


A seemingly large rose descended through the open dome slowly lowering itself to ground as the symphony played into a frenzy.  The flower bulb made of a rich velvet fabric touched down in the center of the room, and as it opened, thousands of rose petals were released overhead, creating a whirling storm of flickering white and red.  Kiren felt like she was standing inside a snow globe.  As the flower petals settled, a figure emerged from the center. 


Ciel unfolded himself from his lotus position and stood up.  He was the splitting image of his sister, except with a sharper jawline and shorter hair.  He wore lose fitted white kimono robes, over a red shirt, white pants, paired with a gold belt.  His robes were embroidered with the same gold roses as his sister’s.  The La Foys were adamant about matching at public functions. 


Everyone clapped enthusiastically, knowing that they couldn’t put it past Ciel to review the film footage of the events after, hunting for those that did not show enough appreciation for his drama.  He beamed to the crowd that surrounded him, giving a sour Tyren Hartwick and extra devious smile. 


Kiren stood off to the side behind the crowd where her average height was destined not to be noticed.   Kiren picked a rose petal out of the lilac champagne offered to her, feeling its silky texture between her fingers.  She noticed on the white side of the petal was faintly printed in a cream color, © La Foy Industries.  This made her promptly drop the petal in disgust.  They were so conceited.  They had to slather their brand everywhere.


When the music stopped, Ciel launched into his clearly memorized speech, while everyone looked on with  polite smiles.  After he finished, Kiren watched him immediately cornered her father much to use obvious displeasure.   Everyone else returned to their gossipy mingles. Kiren yawned.  Now the waiting game began until she had stayed the minimum amount of time before it was polite to leave. 


“Hello Kiren, I see you still enjoy insulting everyone with that hideous dress.” 


Kiren turned around and scowled, “Hello Demaia.   Insulting me doesn’t make you more attractive of a human being.”

“Yet I risk it anyways for the good of the Corporation,” she sneered.  


If Kiren was the runt of the Corporation elites, Demaia was the crown princess.  What made it worse was that they were the same age.  Demaia and her twin brother Elmin are children of Yaria Upone who was the newly minted Chief General of Sector 1, a literal empress of the Banking industry.   Every inch of the girl in front of her was the work of hundreds of people.  Her empire-waisted ball gown held upwards of 500 diamonds, each hand sewn into the tulle skirt which was also hand dyed to be a swirling midnight purple.  She literally looked like she had grabbed the night sky and turned it into a dress.  Even then the most striking feature was not her dress, but her perfectly gradient seafoam curls which framed her haughty face.  


Kiren looked away, bored by this confrontation, “You are role model to everyone,” she replied with her flattest voice, hoping her disinterest in this conversations was sufficient to deflect Demaia away. 


It didn’t, in fact it attracted other annoying human being towards them.  A dashing Karell Hartwick bounced over.  He wore a blazer trimmed in the same seafoam color as Demaia’s hair, signifying to the media starved wolves outside that they were star crossed lovers or some variation of that drivel.   Karell always went out of his way to compare Kiren to Demaia so to inflate the ego of the latter.


“Good evening ladies,” he said with an awkward bow, which almost made Kiren roll her eyes exept he pointedly at her, making her stare off into the distance so to avoid eye contact.   “Oh no Kiren, did you not get the message that this was a Gala?  No one has died tonight,” he said with mocking concern. 


Demaia burst into a fit of giggles that she tried hard to contain, as it wasn’t proper decorum to laugh hysterically.  Her mother Yaria shot her an ugly stare from a little wayside away.  


Kiren shrugged and pointedly started to walk away.  Karell grabbed her wrist not letting her go.  He had already been told by his father that it was pertinent to their Sector to be friends with Ventarius Lemenion’s daughter.  He couldn’t afford another scolding.  “Where are you going?  I was just joking!  Don’t be like this,” he said with an insincere smile.  Kiren suspected everyone disliked her, but they had to try to be civil in a very public function like this.  It would be an atrocity if the families of the Board didn’t seem like closest of friends, even to each other. 


Kiren fought a reflex to turn around and punch him in the nose.    Instead, she turned slowly, stepping towards him and gave him her coldest stare.  “Karell, it’s one thing to make a joke at my expense, but I would think very carefully about why you think it’s acceptable to grab my arm.”  Very slowly and deliberately she emptied the lilac champagne in her hand on to the crisp white shirt he wore.  She never looked away, as the liquid stained into the very expensive silk fabric, dripping on the white marble floors. 


“Don’t cry now, everyone is watching,” she added as Karell tried to control the fury burning through his face.


Without another word, she walked back into the crowd.   Her father was not going to be happy tomorrow and probably will make her pay for the shirt.  She shrugged it off.  She wasn’t in the business of making murderers happy anyways. 


Kiren ducked to the other side of the circular ballroom, where she found a particularly dark corner to sit in.   She checked the time on her PD, she still had another hour to go.  She stifled a yawn and thought to herself, might as well make the best of the situation. 


Then her ears heard the voice of one Mr. Glade Everest, CG of the Natural Resource Sector 2.    She watched as he talked pleasantly Deexac Rushell, CG of Manufacturing Sector 3.  Deexac looked pale and sickly as usual, and was avoiding eye contact, something that made speaking to him extremely unpleasant to be around.   Glade knew he was the target of the million complaints that Deexac liked to tell anyone who would listen.  This time it was Deexac’s ongoing stomach aches, which he attributed to the Nartles changing the policy on what it means to be fresh delivery which changed from 12 hours to a full 18 hours.  “I mean it’s ridiculous that he’s bringing in fish that’s a day old.  I’m telling you my stomach hasn’t felt this bad since this policy started.  We need Leavart to step up the investigation.  He’s not even here.  I thought these things were mandatory,” Deexac complained all the while glaring at a happy portly man a little way off.  “Look at him getting fat off of selling subpar food.”    Glade nodded absently in agreeance, but Kiren could tell he could not care less.   She watched him bid goodbye to Deexac as soon as the Sector 3 CG paused to take a breath, hastily walking away.   She followed him in the shadows, watching him scan the crowd lazily. 


His eyes stopped on the shoulder of one Jules Upone, father of Yaria Upone, recently retired CG of Sector 1.    Jules caught his glance, and stepped over.  “Evening Glade, I don’t see Napolea anywhere.  Is she alright?” he inquired politely.


Glade waved a hand absently, “She’s caught a cold, and sends her regards.”

Jules nodded understandingly, “It’s getting chilly again.  Rain season is on its way. Tell her to take care.   Is Kinley around?  I have to congratulate him on the double digit growth in Q2.  That was quite astounding.” 


Glade smiled at the mention of his eldest son, “If he keeps this up, I’m going to have to join you at the retirement club.”


Jules smiled, “Retirement life is fantastic.  Trust me, you won’t miss the working life.” 


A shadow crossed Glade’s face but he turned it into an amused smile, “I’ll have to wait and see.  Have you seen Evandra?”

Jules nodded, “She’s over there keeping Ventarius in check.”


Glade closed his eyes, “Call her over to me.  There’s been some pressing issues that I have to discuss with her.”


Kiren could see the strain in Jules’ expression annoyance at the other man who spoke down to him.   However he hid his anger and did as he was told.    Kiren watched as Jules approach Evandra and whispered in her ears. Kiren saw her hand clenched instinctively.   Something was wrong.  However Evandra was not a person that could be easily rattled and she immediately controlled her expression.   She smiled graciously and walked over with the elder Upone. 


She gave the customary peck on the cheek when greeting Glade, as if he was a beloved uncle or grandfather.  “Hello Glade.  I heard that Napolea caught the flu, I sent her our latest flu medication this morning.  I hope she received it?”


Glade replied drily, “Yes, yes, very kind of you.  She’s feeling much better, but she didn’t want to risk it by coming here.”

Evandra nodded, “That is most prudent.”


Glade smiled, and put a hand on her back, “There’s something I need to discuss with you.”  He leaned forward and whispered into her ears.  Kiren strained but she could not hear what he said, much to her frustration.  She could only see the color drain out of Evandra’s face as Glade stepped away with a calm smile.   She watched Evandra stand alone in the room her knuckles turning white and persipiration gathering on her face as Glade walked away.   After a minute, she collected herself and returned to mingle with the crowd like nothing had happened.


Kiren frowned wishing that Xyden was here with her.   The only two Chief Generals of the Corporation that were not here today was one her grandfather Leavart Prime, CG of Sector 10 Service, and one Xyden Carsonne, CG of Sector 8 Technology.   Xyden was probably the only other person in this group of people who matched her in being anti-social.   As the youngest CG of the Corporation, Xyden had made a habit of truancy.   Kiren didn’t blame him though; she too would much rather be prototyping new holographic technology in his basement castle than being here fake smiling all night.   


She sipped at a glass of water, leaning against the wall, waiting until she was forgotten.   She watched as her father was caught in an animated discussion with Tyren Hartwick, who was getting drunker by the moment indicated by the dangerous amount of his drink that was spilling onto the people beside him.   She silently noted that her father kept glancing over at Evandra La Foy, who finally noticed, and promptly extracted him from having his suit damaged beyond repair.


Despite living with a deep rooted hatred for her father, she knew the subtly of his facial expressions by heart.  She sighed in relief when he smiled just slightly at Evandra.   He was going to spend the night with her and Kiren was not going to have to repeat the stiff silence of their car ride here.   She casted one more glance around the room, and slipped out the back. 


She hadn’t come this way very often, but with the help of the navigation screen on her Personal Device, she found her way to a non-descript car parked in the corner of the loading dock.  This dock actually sat below ground in a basement warehouse.  Despite being an island on a large lake, the basement of the island is connected by an artificial tunnel that reached the shore.  This was used to transport equipment, supplies, and the army of staff that ran the Crystal Palace from behind the scenes.   She glanced around shiftily but there wasn’t a person in sight as the car’s side panel read her fingerprint and opened to her. 


A duffle bag sat on the passenger seat, and she rummaged through it to find her usual work outfit. 


Glad to be rid of the dress, she changed and gunned her car out of the La Foy’s residence.    It wasn’t until she was cruising at 100mph did she feel the nervousness unclench itself from her heart.   She had a long night in front of her and she needed to stay focused and calm.


The screen beside her wheel flashed into life, though no faces appeared.


“Hello Fizer.  Please confirm your extraction point.” A bubbly voice burst through the speakers.


Kiran keyed into keyboard on the driving wheel, and a green light blinked into life.  “Hi Kimiri, confirmed.”


The voice in the intercom bristle, “It’s Merc. MERC.  Why do we have code names if you don’t use it?!”


Kiren rolled her eyes.  “No one is eavesdropping on us Merc,” she said exasperatedly.


She gunned the car through the dark tunnel, the screen besides her tracing her turns, mapping her route.


There were no cars on the road now since all the new Lex201 models run on the electric rails, buzzing quietly overhead.   Now only small carriers used the road to get to traditionally difficult to access corners and definitely no one is out on the road in the middle of the night.   Ironically, driving was a luxury of the very rich and the very poor.   The low energy bulbs buzzed outside, with every other one going dark as they sit waiting the under staffed replacement crew to come by one day.  


She was going to one of her top favorite place today, the TechRoom 10, one of Xyden’s very precious ultra-secretive labs.   Somehow someone had caught wind that prototype ZCB56N209V7754BVMKEZZ was completed.  She rolled her eyes at the thought of the random string of letters and numbers given to it.  She strongly suspected that Xyden adopted difficult naming conventions to minimize discussion on them, and to confuse enemies or in her case, thieves.  It must be buckets of fun to be an engineer in Sector 8. 


She pulled up to the sidewalk, and turned off the lights.  Not a sound could be heard.   She waited the required 10 minutes, in case any security picked up her presence.  Usually they would, as Xyden was as paranoid as anti-social geniuses come, but this was a prototype stealth vehicle from the depth of the non-existent Sector 0.  One of the three thing she salvaged after her mother’s death.   For all of Xyden’s advanced cameras and security, this car continues to elude his security.


When no one came brandishing a weapon, she stepped out of the car, into the shadows between the street lamps.  She put on a pair of large dark sunglasses, which immediately overlaid her vision, with X-ray floor plans, heat maps of bodies, and security camera vision fields.  There was only one gate here, and it had not been opened in many years.  Kiren would not have put it past Xyden to have it cement sealed on the other side.    Besides, there were more discrete ways to enter the building.  She found the grate on the corner behind a derelict garbage bin, it came lose with relative ease, only because she had come this way a few times before.   She nimbly hopped into the unused shaft and climbed her way to the boiler room, counting the time as she did. 


It was almost half past 1 am, but small groups of engineers or as they called themselves “Tech 8s” were still burning the midnight oil, drinking large cups of coffee working on the never ending streams of projects that Xyden threw at them.   She ducked and weaved through the hall ways, avoiding people and cameras alike. 


Finally, she reached a door that could have easily looked like the door that led to a cleaning supplies closet.  The only difference was the small panel on the side of the wall.   This was where her skills will really be put to the test. 


The panel was a trap.  The moment anyone flipped open the lid, the entire building will go into a code black lockdown.  The sensor was very specific, Kiren took out the key card, and placed it on her open palm, then sending slightly to the right side, the scanner in the ceiling would be able to read the card and open the door.   But she had to hold it at a very exact height, or trigger security to come running.   But the card was more than just a key to open doors.  When the scanner read the card, it downloaded a code that caused the cameras in Tech Room 10 to loop the last 3 minutes.


Although this security seemed deceptively simple, it changed on a weekly basis, and the mobility of knowing where the scanner is placed makes it difficult for anyone to guess where it is.  Luckily she had dropped in for a surprise visit three days ago, much to Xyden’s annoyance. 


The door clicked open silently and she slipped in through the crack, closing it quietly behind her. 


It was a normal collaboration room, there were pneumatically sealed boxes containing prototypes each with a ridiculous coded name.  She looked at them curiously, wondering why this new prototype was so important and worth stealing.  She clicked open her laser scanner, which was about the size of a standard key.  She scanned some of the prototypes as she walked by, Kimiri will have a fun analyzing them later.   Finally she found the one that she was looking for, double checking the code to ensure all the numbers and letters matched.  She scanned the prototype three separate times, ensuring that they were sent to different secure boxes. 


She looked around, noting that there was nothing else of interest, when her eyes caught a piece of paper with her name printed in mechanical letters taped to a non-descript plastic box.  She let out a scream in frustration, throwing the laser scanner on the ground.  The lights flickered on to maximum brightness, and a gleeful voice burst through the speakers.  “You didn’t actually think it was going to be this easy, did you?”


Kiren took off her glasses, and grabbed the note.  She glared at the nearest camera and put a hand on her hips in indignation. “When did you find out?” she demanded crossly.


“When I planted the rumor that we completed prototype ZCB56N209V7754BVMKEZZ.” 


Kiren opened the lid, and pulled out a toy clown.  “Ha. Ha.  Very funny, your witty creator thinks I’m a clown.   Well you can tell Xyden that I’m not here for his twisted games.”


The voice snorted derisively, “Yes the thief trying to steal top secret prototypes has the right to be indignant when she is caught.”


“You’re a robot, why are you so proficient at sarcasm?” Kiren responded aggressively.


The voice bristled in defense, “I am not a robot!  I am a complex software designed to assist the user in analyzing large data streams, and built on 10 levels of decis-“


“Blah blah blah, I know what you are CADM.  You should be lucky you didn’t get stuck with a name like these guys,” Kiren said, pointing to one of the Prototypes with a 27 string of letters and numbers.


“I’m special,” the speaker whined.


Kiren raised an eyebrow, “Really?  Out of curiosity where is ZCB5-whatever?”

There was pause, but Kiren thought if CADM had a face, it would have smugly smiled at her.  “I’ve been authorized to tell you.  It was completed 7 days ago, and has gone to the production line.  You can buy one next week at your nearest TechShop.”


Kiren sighed in exasperation.  “Great.  I’m going to go home now.  Tell Xyden that coding personality into his robots is an arrogant mistake.” 


Kiren left through the front door.  Unsurprising no one stopped her, nor questioned what she was doing there and no one made eye contact.    Sal was not going to be happy and she was going to have a serious word with their informant network. 


She took a long route through the TECHRoom10 compound before she made her back to her stealth vehicle.  She drove about 15 minutes out of the way to a known security dead spot, before pulling over, and connecting herself to Sal’s private line. 


It ran twice, per usual. A monotonous voice blared across the speaker, “Sal.”


“This is Pfizer reporting.  TechRoom10 has been compromised.  They knew I was coming.    Would you like to have a word with our informants, or would you like to defer that job to me?” she replied sullenly.


There was short pause, “Understood. I will speak with them.”


“Alright. Fizer out.”  


The line went dead.   She paused sitting in the semi-darkness, watching the flickering of the street lamp that no one bothers to fix.  They were all tinged yellow, and they threw long shadows on the buildings around her.  The silence of the concrete world outside echoed hollowly inside of her chest.   She suddenly felt that numbing terror creep up her side, clenching into her flesh and instinctively, she punched the windshield with all her might.  The windshield was made from reinforced fiber-glass and it responded with a dull thud.  Her knuckles on the other hand, burned with the impact.  She clenched her fist and feeling her nails dig into her palm, and focusing on the pain in her hand trying to prevent herself from hyperventilating and keeping her breathing measured.  “Mom, mom, mom I miss you so much.   It feels like this pain never goes away,” she whimpered.  Then she squeezed her eyes shut, shutting out the dark thoughts in her brain.  When she opened her eyes again, she whispered, “But I’m going to be okay.  I promised you.”


She squeezed her eyes shut again, forcing her lungs to take slow deep breathes.  Only when the warmth returned to her chest, did she unclench her hand.  She took another slow deep breath.  “I’m going to okay.”


The car hummed back into life, and she peeled back into the darkness.

© 2016 Blankspaces

Author's Note

All comments/critiques are appreciated! I would prefer the truth to nice words any day. Thanks in advance.

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Added on February 28, 2016
Last Updated on February 28, 2016
Tags: female protagonist, suspense, revenge, drama, antihero



Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I'm an aspiring writer who is your typical cat lady, but without the cat. more..