World Betterment League Ch 1

Cast: Contessa Bevilacqua, Dirk Steele, Leo Messina
Premise: The first meeting that will spawn the World Betterment League

rating: 0+x

~ Contessa Bevilacqua, I present myself as Captain Dirk Marius Steele, of the United States Navy.
I have heard of your interest in a World Betterment League and I applaud your initiative. The World is at a dangerous precipice, overlooking a canyon deeper than Arizona's famed, a hole blacker than the trenches of the Great War. The Technologies and weapons of war available today will leave no room for the heroism of the human spirit; killing thousands, perhaps more in the blink of an eye.
Should the great empires be allowed to come to blows, the world as we know it will shift forever. I am but one man, my vessel is but one ship; but your idea has merit and I would perhaps, invite you to Saint Croix for a conversation at McArron Airfield.
Cpt. Dirk Steele, USS Independence,
January, 1940. ~

That is the letter the Contessa Bevilacqua received two days ago, and it is the same letter that she reads again as the RN Perugia lands at McArron Airfield at St. Croix. Nodding absently as one of her men, Paolo, walks up to notify her of their arrival, the Contessa leaves her seat and starts her way down the passenger aisle. There is a momentary bump as the airship drops anchor, forcing the Contessa to grab hold of a chairback to maintain her balance. She doesn't worry about luggage, of course - that's what servants are for. Taking a moment to put on a wide-brimmed hat, the Contessa arrives at the exit just as the flight crew opens the door and a boarding ramp is pulled into place. Imperious as ever, she starts down the ramp, sparing a glance around the airfield to take in the sights.

The sights are rather impressive, if you're given to such bouts of being impressed. Overhead, a small fleet of cargo zeppelins hover, being serviced or refueled or loaded; One of the legacies of the United States was the Virgin Islands as a stable, well used port of call and logistics. It remains so even now, providing the teat from which the people of the islands suckle.
The USS Independence soars above the Islands. Not the only US flagged ship, nor the most powerful. That distinction goes to the USS Arizona, laying in anchor off shore. She steamed over from the Pacific when the Kingdom of Hawaii was reclaimed by the natives. He recall orders were cut short in the Caribbean when the United states floundered entirely. She forms the fearsom core of the small fleet that protects the islands.
A flight of midnight blue Hughes Bloodhawks roar by in the air, the Independence's Airwing on Combat-Air-Patrol, a ready-deploy force should pirates be discovered..

Leo seems to be at the head of the various servants of the Contessa, and quite confused really as to his role amongst them. He takes a deep breath as his feet touch solid ground again, although he no longer has the phobia of flying that he once did. He digs out a cigarette from one of his many pockets and sticks it in his mouth as he looks about the rest of the servants and the luggage being carried out. He decides for good measure to grab one of the heavier pieces of luggage as he follows the Contessa.

Shielded by the brim of her hat, the Contessa glances skywards as the blue aircrafts fly by. She doesn't even look back at her servants - Leo being the only exception, who receives a sidelong glance. "Look for Captain Dirk Steele, Signore Messina, our host. He should be expecting us." She notes, before strolling serenely down the ramp and across the airfield.

A white painted Wileys Jeep stands nearby, an LT in dress whites stands at attention near by, holding a plackard that reads 'Contessa Bevilacqua'.

Leo keeps his cigarette unlit as he offers the Contessa a nod, "Yeah, I know who he is." He rubs his beard about for a moment, assessing the airfield and all the airships on it. "I don't think we really needed this much luggage…" Leo mutters beneath his breath as he starts to move towards the Jeep with the placard ready.

The Contessa allows Leo to lead the way and play the part of herald, while her other men fall in behind her. Once she reaches the jeep, however, the Italian noblewoman overtakes Leo and strides up to the lieutenant. "Good morning. I am la Contessa Bevilacqua." She announces, head inclined. It's obvious what the arrangement is, but it's also just a jeep - the other men are going to have to walk.

The man snaps to attention. "Lt. JG Wilkenson, Ma'am. I'm here to escort you. It was'nt… uh… anticipated that you would require more… uh… space, Ma'am. If you like, I can send the vehicle back for your other people?"

Leo sets down the piece of luggage for a moment as he roots around his jacket to get a match, eagerly lighting the cigarete with a few puffs before taking a deep drag and exhaling in a sigh of relief. Leo rolls his eyes as the Lieutenant mentions how much luggage and extraneous men the Contessa had brought with her, offering a slight grin that fades and looks away in case the Contessa turns her attention on him.

Six men, excluding Leo. Six men who just stop on command with a backward glance of the Contessa. "That would be appreciated, Lt. Wilkenson." Again, she casts a sidelong glance at Leo. "Signore Messina will accompany me to meet with Captain Steele." Now, she is wearing a functional dress, but a dress nonetheless. She holds out one hand to Leo, clearly expecting him to help her into the jeep.

The Lt. looks beyond the Contessa and pales a bit. Thats not an entourage, thats an infantry squad. "Aye aye ma'am. Please, your personal things can come with us now, Mr. Messina can ride in back and you will be here, in the passenger seat."

Michael Corsican is a thin whippet of a man; wiry, about average in height, he moves like a scarecrow, almost jerkily in his actions. His face is best described as 'remarkable', only in that it can be remarked upon. A long skull with a thin nose gives him a scholarly look, but the permanent sneer on his face combined with his leering eyes make him appear more like a thug who's out for whatever he can get his hands on.
Michael is dressed in flashy clothing designed to attract the eyes. Dark purple pinstriped trousers tucked into dark blue-dyed jackboots. A lavender waistcoat over a light blue vest, with a frilly silk shirt worn open to the second button. And a wide-brimmed floppy blue hat, with a fluffy pink feather in the crown. On his hands he wears dark blue-dyed leather gloves. At his waist are holstered two large revolvers in cross-draw position, and at his side is a scabbarded infantryman's saber.

Leo exhales some more smoke as he says, "I don't think we're in desperate need of anything in the luggage except whatever is in this one and… that one…" Leo points to one of the pieces of luggage held by one of the servants. "And my bag," Leo remarks, looking at the large but dilapidated duffel bag that is smaller than every single one of the Contessa's luggage. He sets the luggage down for the others to load up as he lets out a sigh and moves over casually to where the Contessa is waiting for his assistance. Should be effortless, unless the Contessa somehow resists his assistance.

Of course the Contessa isn't resisting his assistance - taking his hand for support, she steps into the jeep and settles in the passenger's seat. Her other servants, with the rest of her luggage, now simply wait for the next vehicle to pick them up. Fun times, a bunch of Italian men standing in the middle of Mc Arron Airfield, the last place on Earth that still flies the United States flag. Who comes to this island, anyway? Why are there so many airships anchored here, they wonder.

The Lt slides in to the drivers seat, putting the jeep in gear. "Alright Ma'am. Watch your hat, we're about 10 minutes from the Captains Villa. Do you need anything else before we go?"

Leo gets in the back, taking another drag of his cigarette as he tells one of the servants standing about to give him a piece of luggage or two to ride with him, or practically on top of him. "Might as well get as much luggage out there…" Leo remarks, although his glance towards the rest of the servants is indicative more for them to have a more pleasant ride up later. One of the servants offer a large piece of luggage to sit on Leo's lap. Oof.

The Contessa removes her hat, and replaces it with a kerchief which she ties around her short, blonde hair. The hat is passed to the backseat, for Leo to safekeep. How thoughtful! As she settles in, the Contessa asks of the lieutenant. "Lt. Wilkenson, which is the USS Independence?"

The LT Grins then. "That one there, higher than the others." he says, pointing in to the air. The Independence is by far larger than the others, at a higher elevation, and the massive American Flag currently fluttering behind it from the main vanes is as long as many of the other airships.

"Insult to injury, Your Excellency…" Leo remarks in Italian as he throws out what's left of his cigarette outside the window. "I still prefer naval ships myself… Not much of a flying man…" he remarks with a smirk in his drawled English to the Lieutenant. Where he got the Dixie accent remains a mystery.

The Contessa turns her gaze skywards, following Wilkenson's pointing finger. Yes, the USS Independence is quite impressive, even to the Italian noblewoman. "It's good to see such tenacious loyalty to a cause." She muses at the United States flag so proudly displayed. "I am in need of precisely such good men for this enterprise."

"Captain Steele, he's a good man. He makes sure we get paid, he makes sure our families back in the States are taken care of and he keeps the flag flying. Tenacious doen't start to cover it. You can't keep a good man down." Says the LT as he drives down the bumpy dirt road. He turns off the main road and on to a side trail, heading up along a cliffside that looks out over the ocean. There, at the top, is a quiet estate with a three story house, the everpresent Captain's walk… with the Captain atop it, looking at the jeep as it approaches though binoculars.

Leo sits back in his seat, content to look at the pretty scenery. He's not terribly in the mood to talk to the Contessa - the flight here was awkwardly silent enough - and it's not like he has much to add to light talk. He drums his fingers on the door of the jeep as he looks out the window.

The Contessa simply nods to Wilkenson's comments, offering little in return during the ride. Given her upbringing, the Contessa probably finds the bumpy ride quite indignant. Still, there is definitely something between her and Leo-the-servant: she is icy-cold towards him, but why did she bring him along and no one else?

Well, it's not a sedan or town car. The captain atop the house, disappears down a staircase in to the house itself. The gates opens, a US Marine in dress Blues snapping to attention and saluting as the jeep passes. The Lt. at the wheel sketches off a salute as he drives past. "And here we are, at Villa Fullerman. It belongs to a rich guy back in the states, who offically claims that Dirk's squatting, but secretly allows it."

"It's pretty," Leo offers simply as he continues to look out of the jeep. As the vehicle slows to a stop, Leo is quick to get out, taking the piece of luggage cutting off the circulation from his legs with him out of the jeep. He grabs the hat from the side of his seat and opens the door for the Contessa, offering a hand to help her down. One might even say it's cute, if not for the obvious cool feelings and tension between the two.
Aventinus has reconnected.

Of course, that means the Contessa and Leo are extremely friendly behind closed doors, but thats just the pulp trope, right?

The Contessa arches a brow at Wilkenson as the jeep drives ino the estate. "Fullerman? Of the Empire State?" She asks quizzically; the noblewoman does keep up on her diplomatic news. "You mean to say he still harbors ambitions of reuniting America under one flag?" As the jeep pulls to a stop and Leo opens the door for her, the Contessa merely nods a silent thanks before slipping out of the vehicle.

"I can neither confirm nor deny such a thing, Contessa." Says the Lt. As he directs a few of the local men to get the trunks. "You, The jeep, return to the airfield… and uh… get the -rest- of the Contessa's bags. Have them put in the Master Bedroom."

Leo offers the hat to the Contessa as he watches the staff get the Contessa's luggage. Leo himself relucantly passes off his own bag to the staff… and for manner's sake, his shotgun. He whistles as he takes a look at the mansion.

The Contessa takes the hat back, but now that they have arrived, she sees no reason to put it back on. "Thank you, Lieutenant." She nods to Wilkenson, who is so thoughtfully arranging things. Already, she is wandering towards the house, gaze surveying the colonial building with definite interest.

It is infact, a very nice villa, the sort of thing you see in the Hamptons or the French Countryside. The home of a wealthy man.
The front door opens, and, dressed in immaculate naval whites with calf-high black jackboots, a perfectly creased set of trousers and a jacket so well cut it practically is his skin, exits Dirk Steele. An older man, but still possessed of the Vitality of youth. He comes to a stop about 10 feet away, offering a bow to the Contessa. "You honor my home with your grace, your beauty, and above all, your presence. Villa Fullerman is blessed to receive La Contessa Isabella Bevilacqua.» His italian is not perfect, but it is clear he is making the effort none the less.

Leo offers a nod to Dirk, "Howdy, Cap'n." Strange how unlikely people meet each other time and time again. "Nice place," Leo offers with a smile, not being a man of too many words, at least in polite company. His glance turns slightly to the Contessa before placing his hands in his pockets.

The Contessa is rather good at the quirked-brow look, as she flashes one towards Leo now, perhaps surprised at his familiarity with the captain. Nonetheless, it is Captain Steele that rightfully demands her attention. "It is my pleasure to be in your gracious company, Captain Steele of the USS Independence." In turn, the Contessa Bevilacqua speaks in fluent, if somewhat accented English, complete with a formal curtsie to Dirk.

Dirk steps then to the side, offering then the door with one hand. "Let us go inside. The Sun room has been set for tea." he explains, offering a nod back to Messina. "Mr. Messina. You do seem to run in the most interesting of circles."
Leo looks over to the Contessa before looking up at Dirk, "I'm told I'm useful…" He offers with a shrug of his shoulders and a casual smile. No point in ruining the mood by being as stiff as the Contessa and all noble-like, right? Something like that.

"I did not realize you were affiliates of each other," the Contessa notes to Leo, before turning, for the first time, a polite smile towards Dirk. "Mr. Messina is my bodyguard as of three days ago, Captain Steele." She explains, as she steps through the door. "This is quite the beautiful home you have here."

The home is the traditional style, with the high vaulted, impressive entry foyer with works of art, statues and other such prettinesses. "During your stay, you will be in the master bedroom in the west wing. It's a victorian era, English decor but it is the best in the house."

Dirk said that.
Leo simply nods to the Contessa's assessment as he looks at all the exquisite decor of the estate like a kid struck in awe at a candy shop. Shiny things catch his eye as he is content to look around the vaulted ceilings. "I guess I'll get comfortable in a chair outside her bedroom, then…" he finally says in passing.

"There's a manservants room connecting." Says Dirk, moving the group in to the sun room as the men outside start to move the ladies bags.

"I appreciate your graciousness, Captain," The Italian noblewoman states to the man as she walks alongside. Leo's comment gets a backward glance from the Contessa, but whatever crosses her mind, she doesn't voice it. "But frankly, I appreciate your letter even more. You and I share a common belief about the current state of affairs: we cannot allow it to continue, lest we face a conflict much worse than the Great War. This is why I am galvanized to do something about it; this is the main reason why I wish to assemble the Lega di miglioramento del mondo."

<If Her Excellency wills her servant to sleep on a bed instead of the floor,> Leo casually remarks in Italian, although if it was meant to be a snide comment, it does not show in his tone of voice. He then just sort of stands there, letting the grown ups talk about the world and wars and big things he can't be bothered with.

Dirk starts to speak but is held at bay by an entering Marine. "Sir! Independence reports a flight of Puerto Rican fighters are in route to attack the HMS Serifina."

"Thank you, Marine, have the crew get my autogyro ready."

"Sir yes sir!" Says the Marine, turning to leave at a double time.

Dirk looks appologeticaly tot he Countessa. "Please, forgive me, but my duty calls."

"Duty first, Captain." The Contessa gestures at the marine, and nods to the Captain.

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