In an act that would surprise no one, the cigarette girl smoked a cigarette.
She was in the alley outside the Rumba Club in her slightly tacky uniform, clearly on a smoke break. Some patrons noted that the management seemed to allow her a great amount of luxury in taking breaks, and indeed she and management took great steps to maintain the illusion that she was in any way answerable to them instead of the other way around.
The Rumba Club was one of the hottest nightspots in New Albion. It was large and designed brilliantly so that seating areas of the club accommodated different social spheres while allowing for careful intermingling. Naturally the club centered around the stage where top tier bands performed. However, as good as the acts were, Friday and Saturday nights were dominated by the house band, The Rumba Wolves, whose infectious rhythms and dazzling performances would drive the crowd into a frenzy, assisted of course by the Cigarette Girl’s various blends of smokey treats.
Finishing her cigarette, she paused before lighting another one to carefully examine her stock. She carried a large cigarette box, full of numerous brands of cigarettes. And that was just the top layer. Beneath, in the inner compartment was the same number of cigarette boxes, but these were arranged according to properties of the additives mixed in with the tobacco.
Obviously the THC cigarettes were top sellers followed by energy boosters and of course the opium laced ones. There was in addition a new blend which was currently all the rage. The ones with TanSans. This new drug, some type of mysterious rust colored powder was all the rage across the city. Supply was limited and no one could figure out the source, although her contact for who she now waited, the red haired lad, had sworn he would find and penetrate the pipeline.
The Cigarette Girl had attempted to get around this imbalance between supply and demand by designing a concoction of her own. She had come up with a magnificent blend of organic tobacco, a splash of opium and a dash of TanSan. It was subtle yet effective and stunningly popular, if also a bit addictive. However, she also had two rows of cigarettes which had nothing to do with indulgence. These cigarettes were various degrees of poison or truth serums, even aphrodisiacs, but not the kind intended to be used by drunken revelers looking to get lucky.
The truth was dealing out drugs to New Albion’s nightlife was originally set up to be a cover behind the cigarette girl cover. A cigarette girl at the most popular and frequented nightspot in the city with nothing shady going on was enormously suspicious and the type of people who love to puzzle over suspicious behavior would dig until they uncovered her true agenda.
She ran New Albion’s independent spy network.
The never ending civil war that had gripped the city for almost a decade now had a never ending thirst for spies. Furthermore, treatment of them was nothing short of barbarous. Constantly doing thankless, insanely dangerous tasks which would invariably end in hideous torture and gruesome deaths had become more and more unpopular as the war dragged on, and so a unionized spy network had emerged.
It worked very well to a large extent. Compromised spies had a bit more assurance that their removal from play would be moderately painless. Whichever faction broke union rules as to treatment of compromised spies would find all their spies suddenly on strike, a potentially fatal position.
Thus the cigarette girl had a third, thin compartment hidden in the bottom of her cigarette case. It had a lock designed by a brilliant box maker modeled after more complicated Asiatic prototypes. The cigarette girl of course knew the delicate finger movement needed to open and access it and could be in and out this hidden compartment it in under 3 seconds, but to anyone not familiar or practiced, it was virtually undiscoverable and inaccessible.
It was from here she regulated union business. She disseminated work requests and quotas, collected dues and kept lists, the kind of which were worth many lives. She passed out various work tools to members on jobs, which included little stuff like lockpicks but mostly involved the various cigarette blends not intended for nightlife consumption.
Lately there had been a bit of talk about some new government operation to wipe out the rebels as well as rumblings from that weird cult in the sewers about some big plan to do something equally big. This sort of talk happened periodically and was normally nothing to take seriously. The cult however took great pains to remain as hidden as possible, and so rumors regarding it were highly unusual.
An end to the war would be… interesting. On one hand it would certainly be good for the city, but it would put the cigarette girl out a job, and, well, truth be told, she loved her job. She didn’t think she could function in a normal society.
So here she was waiting for that red haired boy. The one with the stunning gaze and fascinatingly calculating eyes. He wasn’t so young, definitely old enough to bed and she had it on her do to list to get around to that one of these nights.
Tonight however was not one of those nights. He had wanted very badly to meet. In his stoic, always playing it cool kind of way he had all but begged. He wanted her to talk with someone. That was in itself unusual, but even more interesting, it was some faction’s political planner. What the cigarette girl knew, which she highly doubted even the red haired lad knew much less anyone else, is that this policy planner worked for quite a few opposing factions. If the war ever ended this person was one of those most likely continue to continue their employment.
The cigarette girl had been told to bring some samples of some of her popular “special” homemade cigarette blends. She also knew the red haired lad’s running obsession was discovering TanSan’s source and supply line. Perhaps this policy maker had promised some method of helping him accomplish that. That would earn the red haired lad’s loyalty for sure. The red haired lad ran the greatest dispersement pipeline in the city, above or underground. Whatever supposed post war scenario they wanted to discuss with her would be very interesting indeed, that much was sure.
She finally lit another cigarette. Two figures emerged from out of the shadows and they all bid each other good evening.