Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Baroque Motives"

This poem came out of the March 1, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] rix_scaedu and Thea Strange on QueerSciFi. It also fills the "manipulative" square in my 2-29-16 card for the Villain Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] librarygeek. It belongs to the Jackie Frost thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains some controversial material. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. Contretemps is a magnificent bastard who loves manipulating people. This includes seducing women even though he is gay. His gay relationships aren't all that much healthier. He screws with politics and economics too, and is generally a pain in everyone's ass. If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"Baroque Motives"

Contretemps stepped out of his limousine
and then handed his boy-toy out of the car.
The gala was already in full swing, promising
no end of opportunities from the sound of it
shushing out of the elegant building
like the song of distant surf.

"Tell me again what we're
doing here, sir?" Maxime said.

"Such a pretty mouth on you,"
Contretemps said, brushing a thumb
over the lush lower lip. "Truly, I'm
going to miss that tonight,
but alas, duty calls."

There were several bills up for
consideration that proposed to waste
some good Canadian dollars on frivolities
like public art and handouts to the foolish,
which definitely needed to be stopped.

"So what's the plan?" asked Maxime.

"Find powerful and influential people --
preferably women, they're easier targets --
charm their stockings off, and convince them
to vote my preferences," said Contretemps.

"But you don't even like women,"
the toy whined, pouting over it.

"I love manipulating people, though,"
Contretemps murmured. "Carpe diem, pet.
Take what you can, because the chance
may never come your way again. Now
go fetch me some fresh meat."

They went inside, sampled
the hors d'oeuvres, and claimed
some of the excellent champagne.

Contretemps mingled with the crowd,
smiled and shook hands, always keeping
a finger on the pulse of the social climbing.

Regrettably everyone seemed to want
to impress everyone else with their support
of The Arts, and nobody cared a fig about
the practicalities, which meant that Contretemps
had his work cut out for him tonight.

"You know, we really need to invest more
in the infrastructure," he said to a small circle of
suited men. "Ice and salt are so hard on the roads."
He would know. He owned interests in all three
of those business ventures.

"Fine words from someone who blows
his own dough on luxuries," a politician sniped.
"A Kuhn Bosendorfer piano, really?
I thought you played violin."

"I do have friends," Contretemps said
with a thin smile. "Besides, I never let
a bill go unpaid because I spent
the money on fripperies."

Then he stepped back to give
the vultures room to circle.

It was simple enough to observe
the patterns as they formed and swirled,
but actually influencing their direction
sometimes took a little ... extra help.

Contretemps rubbed his fingers together,
feeling the snap and pop as sparks of Luck
built up like a charge of static electricity.

He swanned through the throng of
glittering personages, touching a hand here,
an elbow there, nudging them subtly
the way he wanted them to go.

Soon his boy-toy appeared with
a blonde girl in tow. "This is
Camille Garneau," he said.

"Samael Calaman, at your service,"
the supervillain said with a bow.

Contretemps let his gaze wander
up and down her body, checking
to make sure that she was pretty
in the way that straight men liked:
curvaceous hips, narrow waist, yes,
and artful breasts offered up by
the bodice of her little black dress.

"You look ravishing, my dear,"
he said, offering her his elbow.
"Shall we dance?"

She giggled and preened
and took him up on his offer.

Contretemps recognized her as
the daughter of a prominent politician,
but more importantly, she was also
the apple of her father's eye. She
would have good influence, if
he could sway her beliefs.

So he twirled her around the dance floor,
making her look elegant and adept.
He listened while she talked about
her college career and many of
her friends on the social scene.

Camille was quite the font of information.
He'd get his money's worth out of tonight
even without garnishing any votes.

When "Air for the G String" concluded,
Contretemps swept her away to one of
the hidden alcoves, where he flattered and
teased her almost to the point of release --
and then left her, flushed and panting,
draped over the luxurious leather seat.

Always leave them wanting more.

"Thank god you're back, sir, we have
a problem," Maxime said, pointing.

Sure enough, there was his nemesis
Jackie Frost, turning heads as she
cut a path through the party, clad in
a dress that was mostly lace and air
and far too short for this venue.

No matter where she went, she still
tended to dress like she was on the ice.

Contretemps made sure to catch her eye,
and then withdrew back to the private area.
She followed him like a fish on a hook.

"Good evening, Jacks," he drawled,
holding out a handful of fine Italian wool.
"May I offer you my jacket?"

"I suppose," she grumbled. "I seem
to have overdressed. Or perhaps
underdressed. Or something.
Everyone is staring at me."

The moment she touched it,
he slipped his thumb off of
the deadman switch and
activated the teleportation.

"Ta, love," he said as she disappeared.

After that, it was not only a rewarding evening
but a great deal more relaxed with his nemesis
safely tucked away in a portable lair.

Contretemps danced with the ladies
and silently took note of a few young men
whom he might pursue at a later date.

He took care to make notes of which
telephone number or room card
belonged to what hopeful beauty.

He passed several bribes, and
even collected one himself.

When he finally tired of the show
and the champagne, he tracked down
Maxime and took his leave.

By the time Contretemps made it
to the portable lair, the whole thing
was covered in frost-feathers.

It was a good thing he'd brought his winter coat.
The dappled fur would keep him warm.

As soon as Contretemps stepped inside,
Jackie Frost began ranting at him.

"I don't suppose you'd like to tell me
what the hell is going on?" she snarled,
hoping to goad him into revealing
his baroque motives and goals.

"Of course not," said Contretemps.
"If I did that, you might somehow figure out
a way to thwart my plans -- but that doesn't
mean that we can't enjoy ourselves."

He tucked his Borman violin
beneath his chin and began to play.

Fireheart interrupted them in the midst of
Locatelli's Caprice in D major Op. 3 No. 23
'Il labirinto armonico' by melting through the door.

"Well that's a bit rude," said Contretemps.
"You might have waited for me to finish."

Then he saluted them with his bow,
touched its hidden switch,
and teleported away.

His nemesis and her paramour
would doubtless spend the rest of
the night dealing with the portable lair
and the false trail he had spun out for them,
leaving his real plans to develop in peace.

The future would be, as always, his to command.

Contretemps landed neatly in his real lair,
where he began stripping off his suit as he
headed for the master bathroom with
its luxurious corner shower.

"Maxime," he called. "Come here
and put that pretty mouth to use."

* * *


Contretemps (Samael Calaman) -- He has fair skin, deep blue eyes, and wavy black hair. His heritage includes French, Swiss, and Scottish. Contretemps is a magnificent bastard, and a longstanding nemesis of Jackie Frost. He calls her "Jacks," which annoys the crap out of her. Also he rarely monologues to superheroes because that would give away his plans; instead, he serenades them with a Borman violin. He uses the same technique to court minions.
Homosexual by preference, Samael enjoys a series of boytoys and has no trouble picking up a date (or a victim to manipulate). However, most people don't know this, because he's enough of charmer to have as much luck with women as he wants, and he often uses that to manipulate people. Jackie Frost does know, but usually doesn't mention it.
Contretemps has made himself a great many enemies by insisting on practicalities before pleasures. He constantly manipulates the Canadian government and business sectors with that in mind. He has no objection to people amusing themselves, just feels they should do so with their own pocket money and not public funds. So Contretemps keeps dragging budgets toward investment and infrastructure; away from the arts, many social services, and military expenditures that are more fun than necessary. Then he spends his private money on luxuries anyhow, which just drives people up a wall; one of his favorite lairs is a lovely two-storey dome with a grand piano in the music room. But he's never missed a bill because he blew the money on something frivolous; he is honorable in his own way.
Origin: His superpowers developed as a result of pushing himself to do more and better, using some rather extreme training techniques.
Uniform: Most of the time Samael wears expensive tailored suits. His combat suit is midnight blue dexflan accented with black and white chevrons at the cuffs, toughened with leathery pads of krevel at the chest, elbows, and knees. He doesn't wear it often because he's more of a mastermind than a frontline fighter.
Qualities: Master (+6) Magnificent Bastard, Expert (+4) Violin Player, Good (+2) Agility, Good (+2) Entrepreneur, Good (+2) Wealth, Good (+2) Worthy Opponent
Poor (-2) Annoying
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Intellect, Average (0) Luck, Average (0) Minions
The Ensemble have 7 named lieutenants and many faceless followers. Each lieutenant has an Average (0) superpower; one of them is a healer.
Motivation: Practicalities first, then pleasure.

Maxime Anctil dit Saint-Jean -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short wavy hair that is mostly brown with streaks of ash-blond scattered throughout. As an interesting bit of family history, that dit name came from an ancestor said to have miraculous healing abilities. Maxime is latent rather than superpowered, but the potential is there. He is gay, and currently serving as the boy-toy of the supervillain Contretemps.
Qualities: Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Networking, Good (+2) Such a Pretty Mouth
Poor (-2) Naive

Camille Garneau -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long wavy blonde hair. She is the daughter of a prominent politician in Canada. Camille knows quite a bit about Canadian society and current events, and wields more influence than she realizes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Debutante, Good (+2) College Student, Good (+2) Daddy's Girl, Good (+2) Contacts in Canadian Politics
Poor (-2) Easily Led

Jackie Frost -- Jacqueline Tremblay is a tiny superhera from Canada with ice powers. She began as a figure skater and had a near-death experience on the ice. Now she can create ice anywhere and she fights with her skate blades. She has a slim, straight body with flat hip-to-waist ratio. She stands 5'1" and weighs 95 lbs. She fell in love with Fireheart, a superhero with Fire Powers.
Origin: While practicing on a frozen lake, Jacqueline tangled with another skater; she cut herself on the blades and nearly bled to death. The cold of the ice kept her from dying. After healing, Jacqueline discovered that she could produce and control ice.
Uniform: Figure skating dress in white and light blue with a snowflake pattern, and white ice skates. The dress is made of dexflan to cope with her powers.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Figure Skater, Good (+2) French-Canadian Culture, Good (+2) Skate Fighting, Good (+2) Women's Studies
Poor (-2) Little Bit of a Thing
Powers: Expert (+4) Ice Powers, Good (+2) Speed
Ice Powers is a meta-power that includes Create Ice (Signature Stunts: Frost Mirror, Frost Screen, Ice Path, Ice Shackles, Ice Slick), Control Ice, and Ice Body (Spin-Off Stunts: Ice Gauntlets, Skates of Ice).
Vulnerability: Always sensitive to heat, Jacqueline now has very little tolerance for anything much above room temperature. She feels tired and queasy in warm temperatures. At 80ºF she takes a downshift to her superpowers, and another downshift for every 10ºF above that. Her Qualities start downshifting at 90ºF.
Motivation: Protect and pursue the Arts.
Model: Tara Lipinski, figure skating, 5'1" 95 lbs.

Fireheart (Atka Lecoeur) -- He has tinted skin, golden-brown eyes, and long straight black hair. His body temperature naturally runs around 100ºF and he needs extra calories to sustain his powers. His heritage is primarily Native Canadian (Inuit and Anishinaabeg) with a little French and British ancestry. He has worked as a wilderness guide and a counselor. He fell in love with Jackie Frost, a superhera with Ice Powers.
Origin: As a teenager, Atka went camping with some friends, and a terrible storm blew up. They almost died of hypothermia, but then his Fire Powers manifested and saved everyone.
Uniform: Usually warm, durable clothes suitable for the wilderness.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Woodslore, Good (+2) Family Ties, Good (+2) Mediation, Good (+2) Cold Tolerance
Poor (-2) Not a City Boy
Powers: Expert (+4) Fire Powers, Good (+2) Phasing
Vulnerability: Copper shorts out his superpowers with a painful shower of sparks.
Motivation: Keep the home fires burning.

* * *

The Baroque Era lasted from 1600-1750 and featured homophonic, polyphonic, and contrapuntal textures; metrical rhythms, strong and weak beat pulses; and motives in which short ideas become the basis for continuous pitch and register manipulation, often presented without regular pauses in the music.

Hors d'oeuvres are often served at parties, such as these savory recipes.

The Kuhn Bosendorfer Piano
is one of the world's most expensive and extraordinary pianos.

Baroque dance includes Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068 ("Air for the G String").

This is Jackie's little black dress.

Contretemps is wearing a seal fur coat. See the front and the back.

Solitary confinement, loneliness, and being ignored are all bad for people. Contretemps hates being ignored, so he tends to minimize doing it to other people. He also understands that evil gloating and ranting can be risky. So instead, he serenades captive superheroes with his violin. Locatelli's Caprice in D major Op. 3 No. 23 'Il labirinto armonico' is a notoriously difficult piece. It's his way of showing showing off, showing respect, and showing disdain all at the same time.

Check out Contretemps' master bathroom. All of those fancy fixtures are designed to take the weight of men hanging on them. So are the glass walls, and that is bulletproof glass, so it won't break.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, music, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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