March 6, 2019 at 5:45 pm #16249
”Zeppelin?” Ichante asks, with a tone that suggests that she had never considered the possibility. In truth she had been hoping to drive home across native lands – either the PCC or Sioux Nation, then through Salish-Shidhe – maybe to ground herself after today’s harrowing experiences, but flying over them (slowly) is a novel idea too, maybe one that could provide its own perspective.
She gets a lift back to her motel and walks into her room like a zombie. She showers, brushes her teeth, then collapses into bed while still wrapped up in towels. Hours later she wakes up, disoriented by the sun coming in through the windows. If she had dreams, she doesn’t remember them. Staggering to her feet, she makes it into the bathroom and groans at her reflection in the mirror. Not only has her hair dried in an odd shape, but the burst blood vessel in her eye makes her look like a two-bit movie villain. The hair she can take care of with Keratin Control and a simple casting of Makeover. The burst blood vessel might take a week or two to heal on its own.
She casts a quick Healthy Glow to freshen up, then Fashion to clean up her Wild Hunt jacket. Putting it back on feels like defeat, like she should still be in bed, but she’s hungry and wouldn’t mind seeing a bit of sunshine before it sets, if only because it’s confirmation that this world is not the Other World, with its black sky and red sand. She sticks her hand in her pocket to feel if the sand she ported back is still there or if it somehow disappeared on the trip through the portal.
Ichante summons a ride and joins the other at the pool hall. Once there she orders some mycoprotein tacos, a fresh lime soda, and watches the others play. ”I’m good at pool,” she says when asked. ”The balls just seem to magically go where I want them to.”March 6, 2019 at 6:05 pm #16250
After watching his ball bounce off the bumper beside the pocket one more time Prestons grouses “Noooo, we couldn’t have gone to that arcade you others were at and played AR games, we had to go full retro.” He sighs, but adds “Actually this is fun, I’m just frustrated. Frustrated isn’t the worst I could be feeling right now though, so its all good.”
After downing a sandwich that he didn’t really taste, followed by a beer that he didn’t really enjoy, he got to talking about the near future. “I think most of you have your own rides and your own plans. I’m driving to Vegas next, to check out a theory. Then back north through the rest of the PCC and then the Salish-Sidhe, and back to Seattle I think. A thousand miles on the first leg, more on the second. I’d get my autopilot upgraded if there was a good mechanic left in town …. sorry, I should have gone there. What I was getting at was that if anyone has reason to head to Sin City and wants a ride or to convoy, let me know. And with that business out of the way, someone rack those balls back up and let me try breaking this time.“March 6, 2019 at 6:58 pm #16252
Al pulled the plaswood triangle off the balls and rolled the cue ball towards Preston in acquiescence to his request.
“I ain’t never been ta Vegas. Not much ocean nearby. But I do like cards. This theory o’ yours, that somethin’ ya might need help with?”March 7, 2019 at 1:31 am #16255
Becky’s only response to the message is a thumbs up emoji. She adds the number to the memory of her good link and generally agrees that her bloodthirsty friends do not need to know that she spared the vampire. At the end of the day, she could not see the vampire as a vile monster to be killed because he was a vampire. Sure, his kind drains essence and possibly kill to survive. Though, Becky kills without any biological need. She kills because people are on the way, because they are stupid and because they do not know their place. That vampire did not seem stupid, and all in all, he acted more responsibly than them, Becky saw no reason to end him.
At the dive
Becky skillfully plays, and while she is far from professional – she is more advanced than a novice. She ignores
Preston’s frustration as she skillfully moves the balls to their pockets. The arcade could have been a lot of fun, she would do that in the next days perhaps. However, after visiting another dimension – the last thing she wants to be is inside a matrix simulation.
She wins the game and restrains herself from trash talk. ”Perhaps you’ll be less frustrated after I had a few more drinks, I certainly feel like drinking”. Of course, she cannot overdrink and maintain her strict discipline required to keep in fighting shape. Dryads were just not meant to be so strong, and so she needed to work hard to keep her body in shape.
To Ichante she suspiciously replies ”Magically, how interesting.” clearly implying some telekinetic powers that the dwarf mage may have. Becky kinds of fantasizing about such powers, being able to pickpocket someone with a much lower risk of getting caught. She does not need to do these things anymore, yet it would have been a great boon on her early days.
She lets Al and Ichante have the second game and then says pondering. ”I’ll probably find myself back home near Seattle. I am thinking of buying a new bike for the ride and do some sightseeing along the way. Perhaps driving to Calfree and then following the ocean until Seattle. Stopping at motels along the road, or sleeping in the Armadillo if I can’t find one.March 7, 2019 at 3:54 pm #16269
* Eliza: thank the spirits, I may yet sleep! I could hug the man.
* Gamma: Al may not take so well to that response.
* Eliza: I should take him up on the offer before he gets distracted. Also have a last interaction with the others to cement our relationship.
“Yah, you’d come to Vegas? That would be decent. There is just one condition, although really it is for your own sake. See, normally I just let the dog-brain drive my car, but it is the dumbest, most cautious, thing you ever met. Pretty much all I know about driving comes from matrix games that emphasize fun over physics, so I don’t even know what I don’t know about real driving, so I’m not a whole lot better than the dog brain but I am a whole lot less patient. I figure a thousand miles of either it or me would drive a driver like you around the bend. So either you need to tow my car, help me upgrade the pilot, or teach me how to drive properly.”
Once that was sorted out, he wandered over to Ichante. “We haven’t had much time for get-to-know-you chats, but I have the impression that you are pretty on-top of fashion trends. I was wondering if you could help me with something. I follow what the current trends are, at least well enough to fit in. But for a little experiment I’m looking to try, I want a look that passes as plausibly ahead of the trend. The sort of thing that could realistically be seen as stylish next year, and so which might grab the eye of someone paying attention to the evolution of style, a trend-watcher you could say.”
“Now obviously I don’t have the magnetism to set a trend, but someone like me could pass as someone who was quick to jump on a trend that is just starting. I just need to sport the look in Vegas for a couple of days, and from what I’ve read about Vegas it could be anything from pretty casual to pretty dressy and I’d pass OK. I’m willing to go shopping for base pieces around here and to pay you for your time and creativity — and to give you credit, if you want it, if anyone asks me where I got the look.”
He got distracted for a moment then, as a message arrived with the codes for the two fake IDs he’d ordered the day before.
* Gamma: That was fast turn-around
* Oleg: but not fast enough to make any difference here, if I’d needed them.
* Coleman: Investing in more burning ID may be good strategy. I can do that later though.
He messaged Jazz <<We never talked much, but you seemed solid throughout all this madness. If I ever need drone support back in the Emerald City, is there a way to contact you? And here is a stable contact point for me, if you ever want some extra matrix support. With all the work you do on your drones, do you also have the ability to put in vehicle upgrades? There are some things I really should do with my car that I was looking for someone not-so-much authorized by the manufacturer to implement, if it is something you might take on, let me know.>>
Which left Becky. He waited until she was done a game, then walked up, froze, cleared his throat, closed his eyes for a moment, then finally spoke “Just when I begin to get used to you, I really look at you again, and it throws me off balance, sorry. Look, I wanted to say thank you. I mean, we are all still alive, and that was not a given.” He gave a bit of a shrug, then carried on. :I also have a favour to ask, if you aren’t headed out of town immediately. Would you be willing to spar? I can’t believe I missed that goat, clearly I’m out of practice fighting things that are fast. I know I’m not in your class when it comes to melee, but hey, maybe it is good for you to practice evading a shock baton touch? (I promise I won’t activate it). If you have to get going or really don’t want to, that is fine. I just figured a bit of practice before a long trip might be nice.“March 7, 2019 at 4:58 pm #16273
Al grinned around his cigarette. Vegas. This sounded fun. And he was flush again.
“B an’ C. Towin’ ain’t groovy, an’ ol’ Al’s too cool fer school. But we git some shut-eye tonight, I’ll turn yer ride’s dog brain into a monkey-on-novacoke brain at first light, we’s on Route 66 by noon. Then the teachin’s while we’s drivin’.”
He knew what Preston drove, so he already knew what it needed. He ordered the parts between sinking the seven and the three, then set about getting drunk enough to maybe sleep.March 7, 2019 at 6:25 pm #16275
Ichante’s eyes go wide at Preston’s request, and her demeanor is so intense that one might wonder if she’s about to bake his brain. She is, but only metaphorically.
”You’re 175 centimeters,” Ichante says, less as a question and more as a statement of fact. ”68 kilos.” Her eyes zip up and down Preston’s arms and legs taking invisible measurements. ”Chest size 91 centimeters. You’ll need a 36 Regular. It will be snug but ‘fit is fashion’. It’ll be better than going up a size.”
She snatches a handful of napkins. Looking for a pen but not finding one, she fashions a writing instrument out of a straw and some ketchup and then starts to use it to sketch out basic designs.
”You’ll need casual wear, you’ll need formal wear – let’s say a tux – plus athletic wear.” Again, all statements, not questions. ”You’ll need to dress your age. We’re not going to be doing silvery feyware designed by free spirits because it’s not 2074 and you’re not going to a high school dance with a fairy kingdom theme.”
Her face scrunches up as she continues to sketch.
”2078 fashions are already on the racks. 2079 fashions are well under development. 2080 is where we want to target to make you look cutting edge. II have it on good authority that Horizon and Spinrad will be focusing on the Caribbean League for their spring/summer collections two years from now, with Horizon highlighting Jamaica while Spinrad pushes Borinquen.”
She gets frustrated with the limitations of her improvised stylus. Instead she opens up a program on her commlink, creates an ARO for Preston to see, then starts designing it on the fly.
”Golds, greens, reds. How do you feel about sarongs on your way to the pool? Nevermind, I don’t care how you feel. You’re going to do this.”
Ichante zips the ARO aside and starts working on the tux. ”White shirt, crisp. Black tie, sharp.” The tux turns a deep, elegant shade of red. ”Inspired by the sands of our recent adventures, and Red Rock Canyon just west of Vegas. This shade is called ‘fire brick’. Lapels a bit darker. This is called ‘falu red’.”
And like that, she’s off, head buried in her work, the rest of the bar forgotten. Her hands wave in the air – uselessly, as she has no ARO gloves. Her trodes do all the work. One gets the sense that this is therapeutic, or maybe what she was meant to do instead of dealing with the undead. Or maybe the psyche just has her uncommonly focused.
She breaks off for a moment to send Preston a shopping list. ”Better materials help, but don’t splurge. Just give me something solid for a foundation and I’ll take care of the rest. How long will it take to tailor them? Oh, just a couple of minutes.” The corner of her mouth twitches up, and there’s a gleam in her eye.
”You’ll pay me in coffee. Arabica. Full City roast, maybe Full City+. Vienna’s okay too. And a moka pot. Stove top, not electric. 60ml is fine; I’m not a fiend. And milk, cow, whole.”
She goes back to work, clearly in her element. She smiles to herself as the broad strokes fall into place, then as the details start to come together. It’s clear that she’ll have an entire weekend wardrobe designed before the night at the bar is done.March 8, 2019 at 7:48 am #16278
[Evening, Thursday February 3rd, 2078; Pool Hall, San Angelo, CAS]
Jazz smiled across the room at Preston
> Sure, no problem, I’m only really a part time runner but if you need backup and I’m around you can use this [commlink] to get in touch. I do most of my own work on my drones but if you want expert, and discrete, help with your vehicular needs I’m happy to vouch for you with my tribe, we’ve got some of the best techs in the business! The Mechanicals are based in Orting now, deep in Puyallup, but if you’re not comfortable meeting there we’re frequently in the area around the Crime Mall or the Junk Yards. Just ask nicely if you don’t want the Steampunk look added on as they can get carried away with it sometimes!
#59March 9, 2019 at 2:41 am #16282
Becky sizes Preston, ”You want to spar with me? “ she seems impressed, most people want little to do with her after they figure out how fast she is, and how lethal she can be. After a small pause she says ”Sure, 6 am at the Mana dance dojo. If you are there I’ll spar with ya, I’ll train for about three hours if you are not a morning person. “
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