By the time the enormous limousine arrived in downtown Alpha City One, the sun had long since set. The part of the city they were in was very metropolitan and there was still plenty of activity. Aries could see many people getting out of very expensive cars and limos, all wearing the most expensive tuxedoes and evening dresses. He gulped from nerves when the driver opened the door to let Mrs Hain out. Before he stepped out, Aries thought that he might be looking at this from the wrong mindset. He decided that he was here for one main reason and that was to protect people. This idea gave him the courage to step out of the vehicle and he hoped it would be enough to get him through the night.
Mrs. Hain put one of her orange hands on his forearm and looked up into his eyes. Aries was in the mindset of a defender and his look was grim. He could be quite intimidating at times but his expression melted when she caught his eyes.
Dont be worried. Ill make the introductions but for tonight be Aries, friend of Alpha City and if we need Aries the Zodiac, you will know, Mrs. Hain eased his mind as she wrapped her arm into his so he could escort her inside. Aries had always found Mrs. Hain and all the board leaders a little strange and intimidating but he was very glad she was here now.
They made their way to the front of the building, it was large like a government building with long marble steps leading up to columns and huge doors in the front. Red carpet was tucked into each step and people ascended in pairs while flanked on both sides by photographers. He was surprised at just how public an affair this was and many celebrities from the city were there to make a show. Movie stars, news celebrities, famous authors, leaders of industry and the wealthy in general walked up the steps and posed for the photographers. Aries almost got lost in the moment as if he was watching this all on TV when he realized it was his turn to walk up and face the camera flashes. His eyes widened and he could feel himself sweating.
You can do this. Just be cool, he thought to himself as he made his first step. He found that concentrating on Mrs. Hains safety made him much more sure-footed. Several photographers called out his name and he waved and smiled politely. He actually made quite a stir among them, more so than some of the movie and TV stars that preceded him. Upon reaching the top area, several people had stopped to see what celebrity was causing such a commotion. Some of them were genuinely curious by it was obvious that others were a little put-out by his appearance there and they whispered to each other and cast deciding glances their way. Aries did not notice though, being so relieved to get past the photographers. Many of Alpha City Ones finest turned their backs and entered upon seeing Aries and Mrs. Hain. They knew who they were but would have to make up their minds about them before welcoming them into their ranks. Aries was after all a newcomer to the public scene and Mrs. Hain was very well-connected but not well-liked.
One couple did stay to greet them as they walked forward. In fact, many considered them the couple of Alpha City One. The young man was Kurt Donaldson, a modestly handsome skunk who had though some hard work and luck become one of the wealthiest industrialists in the city. His tuxedo was simple though expensive with little extra flair and his hairstyle was the popular wild look with people in their twenties. The people of Alpha City loved him for he approachability and the fact that he seemed to be more of a regular guy than a big-business type. His date, and some might say fiancé, was Diana Arawaii, a stunningly beautiful Oryx gazelle who had recently gone from modeling to being a television star. She was a statuesque beauty with long black horns, African style earrings and necklace and an incredibly revealing evening dress of bright yellows and reds that showed all of her back and most if not all of her chest and legs. Kurt walked forward with a smile on his face and his hand out while Diana glided behind him, her every expression and movement for the benefit of onlookers.
Aries! Mrs. Hain! Im so glad to meet you! Kurt Donaldson, he said as he kept his hand out for a shake from Aries. Mrs. Hain smiled back and seemed to know him and like him. Aries shook his hand while Kurt stared up to see his face. It is really great to meet you, Aries. I owe you a big thanks for what you and the rest of Zodiac did for my workers at the plant. You guys saved a lot of lives there he said while still shaking Aries hand.
Uh, no problem bud, Aries was honestly not sure what he was referring to and having a lot of difficulty keeping his eyes of Kurts date. It took him a while to realize who she was but when he did it hit him rather hard. OHMYGOD! I know who you guys are! Kurt and Diana! I love your show, Diana! In truth, he really liked looking at her on the show. Diana nodded and thanked him in a minimal way. Aries suddenly realized he might be being rude to the lady on his arm. Oh, Im sorry, this is Mrs. Hain from New Dawn, he said with a blush. Mrs. Hain greeted them. She and Kurt seemed to already know each other from business and shook hands. Diana was another matter.
Everyone knows the infamous Mrs. Hain of New Dawn in Alpha City. She has the distinction of being the only public relations executive of her age, Diana said with a slight smile.
Thank you Diana, Im glad you see your career also going well. Everyone is seeing a lot of you nowadays, Mrs. Hain replied with a glance at the front of Dianas dress and how one could not only see her cleavage but nearly her navel as well.
Mey-ow, Aries thought to himself and Kurt seemed to pick up on it as well so they both decided to finish up the pleasantries and escort their ladies into the main hall.
As they moved through the building, Aries was quite star-struck from the meeting but confused on some of the details. Mrs. Hain refreshed his memory that one month ago, Zodiac was called to an accident at one of Kurts plants. The team had to help put out fires and save a lot of trapped people from being crushed or burned. He remembered but had not made the connection that it was a company owned by Kurt.
You two seemed friendly enough, what do you think of him? Aries asked as he handed the coat-check person Mrs. Hains wrap and purse.
He is a good businessman and a good person in general I think. His rise to power has been very fast though and has left him somewhat naïve about the larger picture of business and city politics. Im afraid that if he does not lose his tendency to trust people so innocently, he will lose his fortune and that would be a shame, She said very dryly.
Really? Sounds a lot like me. Aries replied while scratching his head. He would hate to see that happen to someone that seemed like a nice guy.
You two are similar in that regard. Mrs Hain added and Aries was really hoping there was a follow up to that statement which made it okay that he was kind of gullible and naïve but it never came.
I wonder if she's trying to tell my something by that? He thought to himself as they walked into the dining hall.
End Part 5