Alois keeps his palm steady, balancing a tray of champagne in one hand. He scans the hall, eyes sweeping back and forth through crowds clad in designer clothes and expensive jewelry. Excited chatter fills the space, accompanied by live jazz lounge music. The aroma of fresh flowers wafts through the air, occasionally undercut with tones of something savory from someone's plate or the artificial perfume on someone's person. Everything seems to glitter– the silverware, clothes, furniture, and even the air seem to have sparkle.
A man lounging on one of the couches snaps at him; he takes that as his cue to move. Carefully he threads through other oncoming servers, recognizing a few of them as fellow undercover operatives.
Once sufficiently close, the man swipes a drink off his tray and immediately jumps back into the conversation. The woman leading the dialogue is none other than the one throwing the party, Edenia Pfieffer, and coincidentally, the FBI's target of the night.
A few years into his career as an agent, a name born from rumors started circulating. The Scarlet Spades. For a while, there was nothing on them. Is it a group? Is it a person? There weren't enough deeds to give the moniker a body.
After a few confessions from those willing to bargain for gentler sentences, a profile taller than reality was born. As it turns out, Scarlet Spades is a name belonging to a feared group. One that boasts of being capable of doing anything under the sun for the right price, with an unfortunately large amount of evidence to back up their claim.
It took a lot of reconnaissance, but the FBI uncovered the puppeteer behind it all; Edenia Pfieffer, a wealthy heiress of mysterious origins. She graced the high society scene, seemingly out of nowhere, yet her finger appeared in every pie imaginable.
To the curious public, she's a source of saucy tabloid, one moment involved in a scandal, and in another, a new ambassador for a charity organization. To the rest of the FBI, Edenia Pfieffer is just a name, clumped in with Annalise Milgram, Mirilla Voigt, or Voss Adelman, to name a few aliases. The more they tried to dig into her past, the more skeletons they found. They're yet to get a clear picture of her history to this day.
Seated a few feet away from him, Edenia forms the picture of a successful socialite who has bewitched the upper crusts of society. She's lavishly dressed for the part, donning on a red gown, with her skin airbrushed to porcelain perfection. She wears her hair in a low bun with some loose to frame her face, and her lips painted crimson to match her clothing. Topping it all off is the crowd of adoring syncopates surrounding her. The guests hang onto every word she says, laugh when she laughs, and stare in anticipation for her next move. All so that they could impress her, all so that they could earn her favor. It's no secret that being her friend comes with many perks.
He steps closer to her and stays put, aiming to give the mic on him an excellent position to get a nice clear recording. He's gathering intel with the goal of mapping this mansion from front to back. While he's at it, he'll add more names to the roster of people to investigate. 'Edenia' has no shortage of minions and no shortage of skilled lawyers, so the plan is to pile on as much evidence as possible, anything to take them beyond a reasonable doubt.
"Oh, you know me, I love to travel. This cold weather? It doesn't always agree with me. I prefer to chase the sun." Edenia says, placing a hand on her chest for added effect.
(Chase the sun? More like, chase the cash. Alois' team managed to crack a peek at her finances, giving them front-row seats to her earning and spending colossal amounts of money. Just how expensive can simple things be? Well, try having them come encrusted in precious jewels… and bespoke… so much bespoke. After that, $80 for a shirt doesn't feel so bad anymore.)
"Where did you go?" A woman asks.
"At Tenerife, I have a friend that runs a resort, and they invited me over for a visit."
(She was there to overlook illicit goods sales and settle a few border disputes with a confirmed accomplice. After getting caught, he agreed to let himself be wired for their meeting in hopes of getting a lesser sentence.)
She gestures at her silver dangle earrings and gently taps one, making the emeralds embedded on the jewelry twinkle. "See these earrings? I got them while I was out during the night. A gentleman invited me to dinner and gave them to me. He said they were from his friend."
(The earrings were a payment for a hit, his 'friend' was the target.)
A man, the same one that beckoned Alois for a drink, chuckles, a flicker of nervousness showing. "A lover of yours?"
"Hm… Almost, we parted ways. He prefers to stay at home too much."
(While lounging at home, said 'lover' had a sudden 'stroke,' he was saved in time due to their intel. Regardless, they let the word out that he passed away due to natural circumstances to keep her from being tipped)
"If only you told names," A woman pipes up.
Edenia laughs and a few giggle with her. She winks at the crowd. "Where's the fun in that? I've learned my lesson. Better to keep everyone guessing than to lose my privacy."
She lifts a finger, and Alois diligently brings the tray over. Upon grabbing one of the cups, she looks up at him, maintaining eye contact for a few seconds before letting her gaze linger onto the rest of his face.