Two sheepish Cambridge graduates, separated only by a decade in experience and their personal taste in red and white wines, corralled into the 79 degree Fahrenheit den of Alf Zorkybski.
“You wanted to see us, sir,” Dave muttered.
Fred, with legs crossed, hatless, was savoring some dilapidated quinine, in the form of a gin and tonic, attempting to prevent the technocratic malaria from accruing any higher on his desk. Pivoting, away from the panorama of a series of windows, before the duo, he took a finalizing swig, sucked on a sliced lemon, patted the invitation bearing his moniker, licked his bitter lips and motioned a leprous, slender sleeve towards the hearth.“Bruce. Dave. Each of you, please take a seat by the fire.”
Both junior accountants plopped upon a recliner, in succession. Bruce took to the closest throne by the exit, whilst the slower Dave, wedged himself between the desk of his novel boss and his ghastly body guard, unfortunately still within the firing range of any saliva darting from the clean shaven forty-three year old. The occasional ember offered an eerie glow beneath the lintel as Alfred slithered into position.
“What’s this about?” Bruce hissed, impatiently interrupting Parlé's methodical stride.
Alfred hissed back. “Damn, I miss Paris.”
A scoff followed. “If Galois was alive today… Well, he would be in his seventies.”
“What?” Bruce and David garbled reflexively, as afterthoughts. “Well, for as long as I have been able to prosper and recall here in the casinos of Fallen London, our survival has mandated a necessity to deliver our secrets safely and efficiently. Under lock and key, so to speak. To prevent important, costly information, obviously…”
He rubbed his palms feverishly, blew an exhaled breath on his Reynaud tainted fingertips, and continued his sigh. “…from falling into the wrong hands, our predecessors developed intriguing ways of disguising the classified contents of our propaganda. Not unlike the Spartans.”
His right palm’s inked digits clasped a ribbon of enumerated paper while the left, unawares, seized and encircled the nearby bottle of liqueur.“Their army’s leaders, for instance, over two and half thousand years ago, by way of sender and recipient, possessed, each, a cylinder of exactly the same dimensions, called a scytale. To encode a note, a commander would first wrap a narrow strip of parchment around the baton so that it coiled down the tube.”
Likewise the woody charade, in hand, spiraled around the spirit, in synergy with his pedagogical diatribe. “He would then write his letter on the papyrus, along the length of the rod. Once the message was unwound, the text looked meaningless. It was only when it was spiraled around another identical canister that the communiqué would reappear. Do you know what I’m hinting at, Bruce?”
“I have no clue.” Bruce’s eyes dilated further to accommodate for the darkness of his superior’s inquisition.“On the contrary, I think you just might. Before your birth, anyone who wanted to transmit a cipher faced an inherent problem. Even with Charles Babbage’s new fangled machines riddling polyalphabetical substitutions, the players of the Crimean War still required to dispatch agents to deliver actual ledgers detailing the settings for encoding each day’s communications. Even Friedrich Kasiski’s dog understood the potential tremendous loss if an enemy got their grubby thumbs on the code book, that the proverbial jig would be up.”
A golden grin widened. “I digress. Imagine the logistics of using such a weak system to do our business!?! But you anticipated that, didn’t you, Dave?”
“What do you mean, Mr. Zorkybski?” The nervous newbie stuttered a retort.
Alfred could not arbitrate the guilty party fully, just yet. He knew the odds but wanted the reveal to be worth its mettle. “Hmm… please, call me Parlé.”
The middle aged suit bowed slightly, to his unappreciative audience. "Where was I?"
He suddenly sensed his pushy parables were wasting precious time in light of the impending ball.
However, business first. Pleasure later.“Ah, yes. Remarkably, the mathematics that goes into making possible such a scheme of cryptography harks back to the anachronistic clock calculators of Gauss. Fucking ancient merde!”
At the dénouement of this explicative, Al angrily swiped his littered desk onto the floor, searching hastily for des cartes
. The guard remained stoic, unphased. “Encrypting every transaction is something like the beginning of this card trick. But this is no ordinary deck. The number of cards in this pack are so huge, I would need over a hundred numerals to even scribe it; let’s call this variable N, in honor of Newton. Ah, found them!”
After reuniting with his favorite pile of 52 backs, Alfred lifted the Ace of Spades to each person in the room. “Envision one of our customer’s accounts is one of these playing cards. The system places the tally on the top of the bunch, shuffles the packet so that the location of the customer’s card seems to have been completely lost.”
While spitting his rant, he illustrates the aforementioned chaos with the stage props, ending with a fanned flurry upon the table, catty-corner to Marc’s perspective. “Any snitch is faced with the impossible task of extracting that single card from the scrambled horde. However, one of you has already cracked the solution to this cunning ploy. I’m referring to the artifice of the Faro.”
He seeks out the charcoal Ace once again, chairs it on the pinnacle of the deck, and with mechanical precision, Alfred preserves its foremost position after eight more perfect weaves. “Thanks to a little theorem by Fermat, the card can also be forced to resurrect at the crown of the mob after another very specific sequence of shuffles.”
“This isn’t new, Mr. Z. Euler showed that the pattern repeats itself ages ago...” Adopting and drawing on one of the cocktail napkins on the bubble wrapped floor, the much younger Dave tautly crucified the binomial equation, as if holding the chauffeur sign at a luggage claim in a busy train station. "...after (p-1) x (q-1) + 1, where p and q are the prime factorization of that gigantic N, you mentioned earlier.”“Exactly, and acquisition of these two primes therefore becomes the koan to unlocking the secrets to the House’s edge here in London,”
“But you said it yourself, that’s impossible! No one would ever be able to discriminate p and q, that fast.” Bruce sneered.“Not unless one was sneaking a peak, noting the desired N before-hand. Similar to having a confederate in the crowd, you cherry pick the same innocent participant, over and over again, to always go along with the magic show. The games below us have been blindly and purposely funneling different N-sized packets, as bait, with the embedded transactions until the desired N is finally received and processed by the, of course, intercepting wolf.”
An awkward silence fiercely impregnated the room, only to be cock-blocked by a musical chime, à la cuckoo clock.
He was going to be a little late.
And, the gabby gambler hated making wagers once tardy to a new dealer.
The golden grin slowly disappeared, as the thunder was stolen with a mask of a Joker that quickly overcast his visage. "You're both worth more alive, after all, but I have more pressing matters, and one of you has much further to fall. Let's find out why. Marc, would you do the honors?”
The grizzly-clad elephant in the darkest elbow of the room jarred from its statuesque hibernation; his syncytial gaze riddled with the light of oblivion, an Egyptian herald to the young accountants, of ten plagues to come towards a briefer lifespan. The objective was torture, slow and beautiful, to demolish the intent of the pawns in order to checkmate the larcenous king. His four hundred pound existence entitled itself to job security by delivering a pyramid of pain to others and eventually ending the very universe of suffering he created. A saucy Bentham in the field. Classy, popular, and well doted by all, but above most, by Fred.
Slothfully unraveling his crimson scarf from his neck, he gritted, “Who sent you?” Nothing stirred. “One Thames.” He paused once more without hesitation, as neither provided an answer. “Two Thames.” No answer. “Three.”
“Wait!” Bruce squeaked.
Swathing the cherry helix around his right fist, Marc tested the mute closest to him.
David failed the quiz; his face kissed knuckle.
A rapacious nova tumbled the tax collector downward into a Gehenna of his own gore. Quickly interrupted by the edge of the Acacian desk, his contorted carcass suspended momentarily on its now bloodied corner, only to slide into a lateral decubitus position, with its left orbit oozing several red fractals onto an entangled plastic-laden floor, pooling, rippling, and drowning a human sarcophagus.
Taking full advantage of the one-sided squabble, the older of the two younger accountants did not ferry a wasted moment for the Stygian exit, but darted straight at Parlé, while his pet behemoth was occupied. Feet up, he bubbled over the middle of the wooden mesa, into Zorkybski's torso, while simultaneously palming a gilded letter opener. Taken aback by the agility and strength of his opponent, Alfred's chest consumed the full force of two viscous heels, sending him retroflexed, shoulder first, fortunately into a beam that separated a set of windows overseeing the roulette tables.
He weeped and gnashed his teeth, “Who the...”
Directing, now, his attention to the Memnon shadow looming over his fallen comrade, Bruce hazardly speared the colossus, below the xyphoid, while ducking underneath another right hook, perforating his pylorus. Then, with a twist of the wrist, he drove the duodenum further away from its ligament of treitz, into the left hemidiaphragm, desiring to puncture through the pericardial fat guarding the vascular bosom of the beast. Before further damage progressed, Marc grabbed the aggressor's stained hand and handle, while headbutting his antagonist, crippling Bruce's grip from the make-shift dagger. Releasing tension, but placing torsion on the shank, Bruce caused more and more Vesuvian bile to erupt around the blade, while toggling the forward momentum of the giant's gait, leading him astray, to trip and fall over David's body, all the way through the fireplace's grate into the lift out ash tray near the chimney, descending further upon his already embedded Nietzschean sword.
Turning about face to the altar of Fred, Bruce the traitor, with terror, paralyzed, responded, to the angered and armed employer “Wait! Cyrus sent me.” Not heeding the hindrance, a hammer no longer cocked added to a loud reagant, resulted in a pierced Brutus, limping, then a graveyard swiveling awkwardly to his sovereign demise, laying haphazardly upon the punic bodyguard.“Was not expecting that!?! I thought it was David, all this time. Not Bruce.”
Taken aback by his miscalculation, he combed over his greasy hair, peaking over the mask with his firearm before holstering it. “You win some. You lose some. And, who the fuck is Cyrus? Chiant; ça me fait chier!”
The windows quickly received two raps on each glass, easily audible, like a gavel, to everyone below. Soon, men with bags and knives later filled the room. The mechanical boldness of the Alfred returned once more.“Bury David. Feed Bruce to Linda. I will be back tomorrow. Run the craps all night, if you can. We have to make up for this shit storm.”
Upon entering the ball, the jester visage inherited the scenery, as if casing his first casino when he was a pimpled pubescent. Silence would be his guise, since his incessant loquaciousness paraded his entity like a worn flag briskly flapping full mast in the British wind. The dull brown wreathes surrounding his devoid pupils eventually became entranced on the façade of the Raven shadowed by the black overcoat, topped off by a Tricorn hat. It seemed the fowl enjoyed similar tastes.
Greyfields 1882, by the looks of it.
For now, the parlay would be a wall flower, postponing his blossom until pinned or approached.@Templar Knight@Hekazu