Chapter Eighteen | Who is he (and what is he to you?)

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Csy took a steadying breath as they watched Boss and Cash walk away surrounded by Calvera's security. They ran a hand through the familiar silver hair that had been carefully slicked back against their skull. With subtly shaking fingers, they pulled on the hem of their vest and began to walk through the ocean of slot machines until it gave way to the cage where tokens were exchanged for hard cash. Calvera's staff came and went in a steady stream from the hallway beside it which led into the belly of the Casino, in part occupied by the kitchens that supplied the restaurants on the balcony.

With each step they grew more confident, a small smile splitting their features. As they approached the hallway they found a mark. A younger waitress, eyes too wide as she glanced around the Casino, her focus not attentive enough for a veteran server. Without pausing in their movement, Csy dismantled the disguise of the Baron and slipped back upward into a middle-aged human man in the uniform of the other waiters. They hadn't even missed a step.

"Fucking Pete!" Csy growled as they collided with the young waitress, spilling the tray of champagne she had been tentatively supporting, all over her white blouse.

Csy almost felt a little sorry for her as she let out an undignified squeak and a "sorry!" without even standing up for herself.

"Ugh, look at you," Csy murmured, "Come on, let's get you cleaned up."

"I can handle it," the girl looked up at them with a doe-like expression.

"No no, I insist," Csy hissed, pulling her by the arm down the hallway.

The girl was practically in tears by the time they arrived at the large swinging metal doors that led into the kitchens.

"You new here or something?" Csy asked, "You've got real thin skin to be working this job."

"T-they just h-hired me for the, for the, g-gala," she blubbered.

As she slid her key card and the doors popped open Csy took a quick glance around the kitchen and pulled her into a corner currently occupied by boiling pasta pots.

"You want my advice?" Csy said crisply.


Csy gave a crooked smile, "Quit." and with that, they released her elbow and left her standing befuddled by the percolating ravioli.

Csy navigated the maze of shouting cooks, counters littered with sliced herbs and deadly looking knives, and servers carefully balancing food portions so small they must make up for in price what they lacked in girth. They approached another set of double doors and swiped the ID card they had lifted from the trembling newbie. The light lit up bright green and the doors allowed entrance. Inside the delivery bay, it was somehow more hot than the kitchens. Csy had an appreciative movement for the fact that their Therian biology was not much affected by heat. The delivery bay was empty, even of security. Calvera Casino did not take deliveries on the day of the gala. Csy approached the garage door and slipped the ID card through the slot, their eyes following it as it rolled upward with a thunderous clatter.

A large motor truck began to back up toward them. Csy waved them inside and then lifted the large metal hatch that would release the doors.

"Come on out!" They called.

The doors swung upon and Tate jumped down first. Csy was not sure what they had been expecting of a large fancy lizard man in party duds but this was a sharp left turn. Boss had somehow found a tailor for the imposing but gentle giant. He wore a suit of sparkling silver sequins that reflected the purple of his scales like a sky at dusk.

Csy took a step back and whistled.

"I look...good?" Tate asked, exposing his large fangs,  neck frill shifting slightly.

"Real good, bud," said Csy with a smile.

Asimov stepped down carefully from the interior of the truck. The Cyborg was wearing no jacket but simply a nearly see-through dress shirt that revealed the intricate workings of his mechanical interior. On the bottom half he wore a pair of grey slacks that complimented the natural mint green of his skin that still remained.

"Damn." Csy scratched the side of their head. "Boss cleaned you guys up."

"I don't know about that," Gideon's voice was hesitant as she spoke. Csy had to stand on their tip-toes and peak around Tate to get a look at her.

The Vox was seated on the edge of the truck, her bare furry paws dangling over the side. Her ears drooped so low Csy almost didn't notice the silver earrings that hung from them.

"Aww come on now, Gid." Csy pushed through Tate and Asimov to approach her, "it cannot be that bad. Let's see it."

The Vox looked up. Her cheeks had been dusted with glitter so that her already sleek fur glimmered like stardust. Csy found themself locked in the green gaze of her ridiculously large eyes. She gave a long sigh and stood. Her small form was dressed the least ostentatiously, given her occupation that was probably for the best. Boss had dressed her in tight fighting leather pants and a deep jade kimono that brought out the color of her eyes, made of some sort of satin which draped suggestively off her thin shoulders. The look complemented the rustic charm of her ingenious toolbelt, hiding it in plain sight.

"I uh..." Csy cleared their throat, if they could blush without having to think about it they would have. "You don't think you look good?" They finally asked, rubbing one hand against the side of their head.

The Vox gave a small smile, the fur of her cheeks fluffing outward. "I guess I do now."

"Where we go?" asked Tate in his deep rumble.

"This way." Csy motioned and the crew left Juri waiting in the truck; left running for a quick escape and to keep the poor man from overheating in the stuffy garage.

The four moved carefully toward the elevator the servers used to attend to the guests upon the balcony and entered. As the glass doors closed Csy melted down and returned to their disguise as the Baron. 

Gideon watched them carefully. "I liked the waiter better," she said softly.

Csy felt a smile tug at their lips. "Me too," they said.

The elevator dinged and a few confused servers took a step back as the flashy entourage strode through its doors. Csy smiled dangerously and lifted a flute of booze from one of the trays.

"Don't ask," they warned and the server paled before stepping into the elevator with his compatriots and disappearing as it descended back to the kitchens.

Gideon was pressed to the glass of the balcony, her snout puffing a small opaque layer of mist against its surface. "Wow..." she said breathlessly.

"Don't forget you have a job to do," Asimov warned.

Gideon spun on her toes, face already indignant. "So do you," she pointed about.

"How about you both get down to the main floor then?" Csy growled and the two turned to look at them with identical expressions of derision.

"Wait," Tate said suddenly. He held his hand out in front of him palm down.

Csy stared at the scaled fingers in muddled confusion as Gideon lay her small furry hand on top.

"Ah," Asimov said atonally, mimicking the gesture. The three amigos stared at Csy with impatience and they sighed before doing the same.

"Fuck 'em up, on three," Gideon grinned.


"Fuck 'em up!" said Csy and Asimov.

"Fuck them!" said Tate with a beaming grin.

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