December 4, 2018 at 5:33 pm #11826
Calista nodded at Foxglove’s assessment. “Yeah, this isn’t looking great from a long-term standpoint.” She agreed. “Thing is, someone is putting up the job, and the only reason I can think to take out an infobroker would be to prevent the spread of intelligence. So now we’re a problem, because if we welch on the deal, we know there’s a leak and that makes it harder to plug.” She lit up a smoke of her own, her plumes mingling with Foxglove’s above them.
“The Johnson also clearly wants this done quickly, which means the leak is probably pretty extensive, or the information taken away is damaging.” She shrugged. “I don’t know if we have time to map this one backwards and forwards like we want.” Calista exhaled through her nose, long jets of bluish-grey smoke flowing down her chest to pool in her cleavage before dispersing. “The thing about the shadows, expecially with brokers, is they can’t really let things get too personal. If they did, they wouldn’t have any clients inside of a year. She’ll probably put a team on our ass, we wax them, and then its over. They know the risks, y’know?”
Calista leaned back in her seat. “So in order to bag our wayward girl, we either need to attend a social event, or create one that has enough potential to contain damaging secrets as to draw the little slot out. How we extract her is going to depend on venue, opportunity, timing, manpower, a whole bunch of other stuff. How fast do you think we can organize, either way?”December 6, 2018 at 12:57 pm #11987
Foxglove’s expression went hard as she weighed the options, looking at the table in front of her as if it had just killed her lover. She took a drag of her cigarette and let the smoke out in a sigh, ”Personally, I prefer creating our own event. It would allow us to scout and staff the venue. Could get The Girls to hold a charity event or something.” She blew out another plume and leaned her elbow on the arm of the chair, ”Only problems I see with that are that it would take a while to orchestrate, to send out invites and give them time to RSVP or clear their schedules. We also don’t have a good way to guarantee our target will be there.”
Fox tapped the long column of ash that had accumulated at the end of the cigarette during her thinking before speaking again, ”Finding which event she’s going to be at might be a bit of work, but I know someone that could get us in contact with a decent decker who could probably find her and get us into the place. But that creates the possibility of being made by unknown staff and working with a blueprint of the layout instead of knowing the place instead.”
The elf’s fingers tapped on the chair’s arm rapidly as another thought surfaced, and she tipped her cigarette toward Calista, ”Another option would be to avoid the parties entirely. To track her, figure out her usual movements, and grab her on the street or at home. It would take some stakeout work, scouting her place, and planning only after we find out her routine, but there wouldn’t be the issue of the gala thing.”
December 7, 2018 at 8:44 pm #12115
- This reply was modified 1 week ago by Foxglove.
Calista shook her head. “No, if we can figure out where she’ll be, we can probably lie our way in well enough to get a real look at the place. Between my magic and your ‘ware, we can probably work up a decent map in real time and use it as an AR overlay to run the bag job.” She shrugged, the motion doing fascinating things to her cleavage in the minidress. “Worst case, I can always ‘charm’ a member of the security staff and lift his keycards and whatnot while he’s blissed out on whatever I decide to do with the poor fragger.”
Calista chewed her lip, her eyes far away. “We could get her at her apartment. That seems easiest on the surface, which makes me question it.” She grinned at Foxglove, the expression puckish. “You’ve instilled a terrible devious streak in me, luv.” She shook her head. “The problem I see with that, is that in her own home, she’s a known quantity and we aren’t. Unless she lives in a slum doss, newcomers are going to stand out and,” she gestured to herself, then Fox, “we’re kinda memorable, don’t ya think? Besides,” she continued after a second, “If I were a ‘runner with a promising protegé who had more guts and talent than sense, I’d make sure she was protected with something unobtrusive and highly lethal. Spirits maybe, or a goon squad of Ancients on standby. Or just have a watcher rent the doss across the hall. Same goes for picking her off the street. I admit its pretty paranoid, but paranoia is why we’re alive to practice our paranoia.”
Calista sighed through her nose. “Okay, call Ryoko and let’s see if we can’t get a look at her social calendar. Friends, too. If she’s got a gearhead buddy, maybe we can get her out to a race. Sell something about one of the cars being hot, using proprietary tech. That should get the information leeches out in force, and it plays to our strengths. If not, we’ll see if we can grab her at a party or a social event. What do you think?”December 7, 2018 at 10:39 pm #12116
Foxglove sat in silence for a while, contemplating what Calista had said. The Banshee made some good points, especially about grabbing the girl at her own home. Eventually, she nodded slowly as a plan started to come together in her mind. ”I feel it might be unlikely that she’d go to a race, but it’s definitely a possibility. We’ll look into that, maybe throw out some feelers to see how she reacts, and if it doesn’t look like she’d bite we can find out which party she’ll be at and work our way in.”
Fox stood, arching her back and shoulders to realign her spine after sitting in the cushy chair, an action that was rather interesting to watch with the corset binding her chest. ”Either way, we’ve got some homework to do, and I’d like to do it somewhere more comfortable. This thing is a lot more constricting that I’d like. I’ll start with Katya, see if she can get a hold of Ryoko.”
#09-4December 13, 2018 at 1:25 am #12425
The trip back to their doss was fast and quiet, both of them driving their cars fast enough to endanger everyone on the road, both of them thinking. Calista was examining the magical angles, what to use and how to use it, what spirits might be best for infiltration, for kidnapping, for securing the girl. Fox was doing something similar with weapons, devious devices, and her extensive network of contacts. Neither of them gave the trip much thought, and when they got back to their doss, it was straight to work.
For the next two days, they worked. Calls were made, favors paid and collected, money transferred, files stolen and conversations eavesdropped on. Spirits were summoned, bound to watch and report, and darker conversations were made with dark creatures mundane and supernatural, as the web of information was built. At the end of it, they had a fairly complete picture of a student who was living the high life on her employer’s dime, taking the bare minimum of classes and those mostly by remote, living in student housing but somehow with a closet full of posh frocks and dresses and other assorted glad rags, who had a knack for always being in the right place at the right time to end up at the right party with the right people.
Now they just had to figure out what the hell to do with it.December 13, 2018 at 12:30 pm #12443
[Evening, Tuesday December 21, 2077; Seattle Opera House, 800 North Taylor Avenue, Downtown Seattle]
Lace enjoyed the rest of the party but didn’t find anything more significant, just the usual society gossip that she let wash over her, ear tuned for any details that Silk might want to hear. She left just before midnight as the crowds began to thin, either on to later night venues or home to their beds. She briefly debated going on somewhere herself but Hazard was waiting outside for her and she’d made him dance to her tune for too long already this evening. The gruff British orc didn’t have a family to go home to, as far as she’d been able to pry out of his taciturn responses, but she had agreed only one event tonight and she didn’t want to presume on his good will…after all, Silk was convinced she needed a minder and whilst Lace chaffed a bit at her mentor’s over protectiveness she had to admit that Silk was rarely wrong about such things. Her own forays in to the mysteries of the Pattern were a bit more immediate than Silk’s long term visions but even she had some of the precognition, enough not to dismiss what Silk wanted out of hand.
As Lace settled in to the comfortable interior of Hazard’s Elite her ‘link buzzed with a message from Leaf…interesting! A couple of days’ time there was a board meet, three rival gangs were having a showdown in and around Bellevue Square, assuming they could dodge the mall security and the local Mafiosi. Although Lace had more or less given up that side of her life it was a rare opportunity to pay back Leaf for some of the help she’d had over the years, and besides, it would be great fun. Silk wouldn’t approve but Lace was sure she could persuade Hazard to take her. There was a party to go to later that evening but there would be plenty of time to go home and change…
#08December 14, 2018 at 3:41 pm #12539
Foxglove receives a message from her contact, Ryoko, >>My dear, I understand that you are interested in social events that would attract the elite of society and I may have something for you. Have you ever heard of Robyn Lysander? She is some sort of phenom with a cello and has been invited by the Seattle Philharmonic to guest at their next concert this Saturday to help christen the new Performing Arts Center. I have actually heard some of her stuff and am impressed, even if my music likes go a different route. Did I mention that she is blind? Anyway, if this is what you are looking for, you will need to act quickly, as tickets are quite rare indeed. It is almost guaranteed that anyone who is anyone in Seattle will be there. Let me know if I can be of any more assistance.<<
1December 14, 2018 at 8:01 pm #12562
Connecting to ShadowSEA VPN…
…Matrix ID Spoofed
…Encryption Keys Generated
…Connected to Onion Routers
>Enter Passcode: *********************
…Biometric Scan Confirmed
>>>>>>[Welcome to ShadowSEA, Omae!]<<<<<<<<<<
[Search ShadowSEA for relavent keywords…]
>[TAGGED: Something spooky going on. Real spooky.]
So, I’ve noticed something weird going on, lately. Apparently
something super spooky. Anyone else notice this?
“Spooky” can be a lot of things. You’re going to have to
be more specific than that.
Weirdness with the mana flows, I mean. And I’ve been
hearing rumors about some sort of horrors. Bad ones.
Horrors? As in of the Lovecraftian type? That can’t
Love-crafta-whatnow? Ryo, stop making up words.
“Lovecraftian” as in H.P. Lovecraft. Read a book,
>>[Ryo_Ohki, You’ve Got Mail!]<<
Ryoko’s anthro-cabbit persona sighed, reached up with a furred finger and tapped the overly-happy icon to open the message window. To her great surprise, it was from Katya. She hadn’t heard from the woman for months, so the decker had just assumed she’d been geeked. Hell, the last time she’d seen the travelling acrobat/assassin/scary-as-frag-woman was during that crazy run some time ago.
The message was about someone in Seattle looking to get into some swanky party for a run, looking for an information broker type. Well, Ryoko was afraid they’d have to be disappointed. She was on a run, herself, and had only been using some of the infrequent down-time to check the boards, and it wasn’t like making the hop from New York to Seattle would be a quick one.
So, the girl called up one of her best, most friendly and polite agents to do her searching and messaging for her. It appeared before her in the form of a hoity-toity butler, and she gave it the parameters and contact info before sending it off to do its thing.
Foxglove’s comm chimed, and she opened it with a flick of her cybereyes to be projected over her retinas. Pink eyebrows raised at the new information, and her hands finished snapping the slide of her Predator back into place. ”Looks like we might have a lead from Ryoko. Some big concert by the Seattle Philharmonic at the new Performing Arts Center. Something about a…” she paused, going back over the message to make certain she’d gotten the name right, ”Robyn Lysander joining them to play the cello. Probably our best bet.”
#10-5December 14, 2018 at 8:52 pm #12564
Mid-Afternoon, Tuesday, December 21, 2077; Suite U3A, Gates Undersound Hotel, Downtown Seattle
Robyn Lysander wakes from a restful sleep, having done much to recover from any jet lag she had accrued during her trip from London. Her time at the airport had been longer than anticipated, due to the throng of well-wishers and autograph seekers waiting to greet her. She had been offered a quick transit from the terminal that would have bypassed the crowd but had elected to meet the people that had come to meet her. By now, she has come to recognize how important such gestures can be and she spends nearly an hour shaking hands and signing her name to a wide variety of things. Her hostess in Seattle, Lady Tanya Marisart, had been very patient, making sure that the blind musician was not stampeded.
The publicity portion of the meet and greet finally over, Robyn had walked with Tanya to the waiting Rolls Royce limousine, in which she was whisked off to what she knows is one of Seattle’s finest hotels, where she will be the guest of Lady Tanya for the duration of her stay. Tanya, a wealthy but somewhat scandalous figure in Seattle society, had arranged to have Robyn invited over for the concert and ball that would mark the official opening for the new performance Arts Center.
A knock on her door announces the arrival of Monique, Tanya’s personal maid, who walks over to the bed. “Good morning, Mademoiselle. Breakfast will be on the table in just an hour, leaving you enough time for a nice shower and to dress. Which of your things would you like me to lay out for you while you shower?”
December 14, 2018 at 9:49 pm #12570
- This reply was modified 1 day ago by Mercy. Reason: Corrected the date in the heading
Calista and Foxglove
Late Evening, Tuesday, December 21, 2077, Crash Pad at 86th and 228th, Redmond
Calista was leaning over the cheap coffee table, a hologram projector set up on one edge with a map of Bellevue and Downtown projected across the surface. Calista didn’t like DNI, and Fox didn’t like linking her headware up with anything, so they’d found that this was the best way to manipulate information. Calista was looking at routes in and out of a half-dozen areas they’d chosen as likely spots if they wanted to grab Lace, trying to find out if a grab job was even feasible, when Foxglove spoke. Calista listened with half an ear, nodding slightly and waving a hand to scroll over to where the Seattle opera house was located, then zooming by simply pulling her hands apart.
“A gala? Post-concert event, lots of high-fliers, everyone drinking too much?” Calista nodded, still studying the map. “That sounds good. Hey, isn’t that Christmas?” Calista straightened, brushing blonde hair back behind one ear. She checked her calendar, actually just a screamsheet pinned to the wall, but one that was broadcasting a racy pinup spread with dates beneath it. Yep, Christmas. Calista dimpled. “Speaking of which, I got you something. I’ll give it to you later tonight.” Calista’s voice carried a note of excitement. She was thrilled at the prospect. She wanted to see Fox’s face when she saw the garage, saw the car inside and the girl she’d found to work both.
She waved Foxglove over. “Okay, so if we’re going to hit the opera house while there’s an event, we’re going to have to move fast.” She reached out to snag the cup she’d been drinking from and started to point, about to ask Foxglove how she preferred to run an extraction.
The motion brought her left wrist, and the tattoo that hurt her every day, into view. The robin, the one nanotat she could never bring herself to alter, stared back at her.
Then her hands started to shake.
The cheap mug hit the floor and shattered.
With a face that bore more fear and anguish then someone Calista’s age should be able to muster, Calista turned very, very slowly toward Foxglove. She opened her mouth to speak, but no sound would come out, and she kept looking back at her wrist.
Is there aught I can do for you, dear lady?
May I touch you?
I find that I would rather kiss you than try to explain myself.
You will be here in the morning for breakfast, right?
I want to be a part of you.
I love you…just in case.
Calista fell to her knees. She couldn’t see or feel it, but tears, first clear, then scarlet ran down her cheeks. Her fangs were on full display, and her breath came in awful, wracking gasps.
Calista screamed, a wordless, glass-shattering, banshee wail that cracked plaster, split synthwood, and sent every normal person within a quarter of a mile cowering into corners or running into the dark.December 14, 2018 at 10:59 pm #12571
Foxglove gave an amused and bemused little smile and a slight shake of her head with Calista’s excitement at the gift she had planned. She still didn’t understand the Banshee’s need to give gifts, or the sheer thrill she got from it. Perhaps she would have to try it in earnest, to see how it felt.
She set the Predator down next to her on the floor of the rickety, studio apartment they were renting and stood. A couple, long strides took her over to where Calista was sitting, and Foxglove took a spot next to her as the girl went over the map with her. And then, she stopped. Brows furrowed in confusion and the elf looked to her friend, about to urge her to continue, when she spotted the look on her face.
Then the mug shattered, and prickles of warning went shooting up her back and over her neck. Calista gaped, trying to speak, and Fox hesitated. She was torn between following her instinct, and following the very sudden urge to try to comfort the agonizing Banshee. When the gasps and tears of blood began, however, instinct won out, and the gillette moved at full speed to the other side of the room, a mental command clamping down the sound dampeners in her ears full-strength.
Not a moment too soon, too, it seemed. The wail resonated out in a destructive wave, and Fox watched the carnage of its wake, wincing internally as the unbidden thought rose to the surface of her mind, Well…it was a shitty place, while it lasted.
#11-5December 14, 2018 at 11:58 pm #12573
The coffee table died in the same instant as the cheap bookshelf beyond it, and the cheap chairs to one side went a half-heartbeat later, all blown into powder and splinters by the force of the bone-crushing banshee shriek.
Calista didn’t even hear it. She knelt amongst the devastation, rocking back and forth with her hands on her thighs. Blood pattered down from her pixie-like chin, her face a mess of red, and the crimson drops fell on her arms and her bare thighs below her black skirt, mingling with her tears and turning her into a mess of red and pink.
Somewhere in her mind, the last chains holding back the dark tide of memory rattled, shuddered.
No no no, little musician. I love little Anguish here more completely than you ever will, and she loves me too.
No more cello for you, little girl!
I am willing and ready to take her place.
See? No innocents had to die. Just one blind cellist. You’ve saved lives again and made your mistress very happy.
Fine then. I’ll leave you here to say your goodbyes and think on what spurning my favors might mean for you/
I love you…….just in case.
I am so sorry that I failed you. We’ll do whatever it takes to put you back together, Songbird, and I’ll be right there with you, every step of the way. We are partners. Partners in life and will be partners in death if it comes to that. I will get better. I will. Itsgoingtobeokayyou’resafeitsgoingtobeokaypleasebeokaywe’regoingtogethelppleasedon’tdieI’mherestaywithmepleasestaywithmeIloveyouitsokay.
Calista drew another breath and screamed again. This time, it lacked the killing power of the first shriek, becoming the classic song of the bean sidhe. It was a sound of pure pain, of misery curdled, a wail of loss and anguish and the death of self. For over a mile, children cried, animals howled, adults crossed themselves or covered their ears. And it went on and on and on.
When it finally died, Calista was left a shuddering, panting wreck, her eyes wide and unseeing as she spoke to herself in a voice just above a whisper. “Calista de la Courcel Calista Shirai whore slave Misery weapon Anguish Irina Ведьма Robyn Robyn Lysander books love London Lambeth below Valerian House Laesal House The House of Whispers Florimel Marco home painagonytortureflayingbloodbloodbloodbloodsongbird ROBYN!”
A third, devastating scream.
Then, finally, silence.December 15, 2018 at 12:12 am #12574
Late Evening, Tuesday, December 21, 2077; Grand Concert Hall, Performing Arts Center, Seattle
Robyn feels………….exhilarated. She has put in several hours of practice with the orchestra and is very pleased at the effort put out by all involved. She smiles to herself as she accepts the congratulations of the other performers and she shares her own high opinions with them. Even after just one afternoon of practice, Robyn is convinced that the Seattle Christmas Concert will be a success. The concert, scheduled for Saturday, will feature her in several solos, but she will mainly be playing in support of the main orchestra.
Robyn makes a soft clicking noise with her tongue and a large, dark shape rises from where it has been resting, taking its place near her. Her service animal at her side, Robyn moves through the crowd of orchestra members and support staff, as confident of her movement as if she were sighted, her sensors and the monstrous beast guiding her with a precision few people with sight could display. She smiles as her enhanced hearing sorts through the foot patterns around her, picking out the clicking of Lady Tanya’s low heels. The two women embrace before moving off to the side door, where Monique waits with umbrellas to ward off the falling rain. The four figures move quickly out of the building to Tanya’s waiting limo, which pulls silently from the curb, taking them to the hotel and a scheduled semi-private dinner in the suite.
3December 15, 2018 at 2:27 am #12579
Calista and Foxglove
Late Evening, Tuesday, December 21, 2077, Crash Pad at 86th and 228th, Redmond
After the second scream, Calista’s mouth began to move as if speaking. Fox lifted the dampeners to listen to the string of consciousness. Robyn? Love? Was this Robyn the one that Calista’s lost memories had all centered around?
Calista took another breath, and by the shape of her mouth, it didn’t look like it was going to come out as more words. Foxglove clamped down on the dampeners again and let the sound wash over her. Finally, it seemed like Calista had gotten it out of her system…for now, at least.
Foxglove’s hearing returned in full, and she moved to the kitchen, grabbed a couple paper towels, and made her way back to the girl. She knelt beside her friend, gently laying one of the paper towels on her blood-spattered thighs. The other one was folded into a loose corner and raised slowly to Calista’s cheek, Fox making sure to move carefully, nonthreateningly…at least, as nonthreatening as she could be, anyway.
#12-6December 15, 2018 at 2:35 am #12581
Calista bore Foxglove’s attention without movement or comment. In truth, it was unclear to Fox whether her friend was even there. Her eyes weren’t tracking, red-rimmed and filled with blood her hands kept making little gestures, gestures that it took Foxglove a second to recognize as the sort of movements used by a spellcaster. She wasn’t really trying to marshal her power, but there were occasionally little gold and green flashes between her fingers, coupled with the smell of roses and the feeling of sunlight.
They were healing spells.
Fox had seen the same effect a time or two with Calista. In her head, Calista was healing something, over and over again. Every thirty seconds or so, she’d start again. Her lips kept moving, but no sound came out and she blinked only rarely, each fluttering motion causing another drop of blood to roll down her cheek.
Calista stayed that way for several minutes while Fox cleaned her face and arms, before whispering in a hoarse voice, “Its her. She’s here. My life is here.”December 15, 2018 at 5:10 am #12590
Late Evening, Tuesday, December 21, 2077; Lobby, Gates Undersound Hotel, Downtown Seattle
Alessandra looked right at home at The Gates, dressed as always to impress, this time in an E’lyzée Elio dress of shimmering green. It fell to mid thigh and clung, more a cocktail dress than anything, and it contrasted nicely with her red hair and strappy, glittering crimson stiletto heels. Her eyes, golden in this guise, looked out from under long dark lashes, and her lips were painted a metallic shade only a touch darker than her dress, and in the same hue. She looked at ease, an expensive date or a hooker with a stratospheric rate, waiting for her paramour of the evening or the hour in the luxurious surroundings to which she was no doubt accustomed.
Inwardly, however, she was seething. Her watcher spirit had been keeping tabs on Calista and her amethyst knight, and it had communicated through their shared vision the plans the pair had laid, and the name that had sent Calista’s thin veneer of normalcy crumbling into oblivion. Then it had disintegrated, caught in the magical backlash of the impulsive little harlot’s first, awful wail, but it had left Alessandra with enough to go on.
Ever the curious type, Alessandra simply had to see Robyn for herself. She had been inside Calista’s mind, even if Calista didn’t remember it, and she had seen Robyn’s aura through the banshee’s eyes. It was enough for a search, and a spirit had located her easily enough. After that it was a simple matter to get ahead of her, and so here she was, waiting in the lobby of The Gates Hotel and Casino, hoping to catch a glimpse of the woman for which her chosen pawn would burn worlds and shatter her own life, even now, nearly two years later.
She didn’t have to wait long. The limo pulled up, and Robyn came in with her escorts, a small group with Robyn and another woman- obviously a friend or colleague- following a service animal and a third person who didn’t interest Alessandra at all. Alessandra gave all the others a passing glance, then stopped and frowned, her eyes narrowing. Was that dog…she shifted to the astral and stared at the service dog, then recoiled. Was she insane?
What sort of person uses a hellhound as a service animal?
The hellhound stared right back, and Alessandra’s hands itched to reach out and snuff the creature out, right here in the lobby. She restrained the urge, but only barely. She didn’t like dogs, didn’t like supernatural dogs, and particularly didn’t like supernatural dogs who breathed fire.
Alessandra tore her gaze away from the hound and looked at Robyn, looked at the woman who had suffered so much at the hands of her sister, whose screams and suffering and story had become something of a cautionary tale in the sisters’ house Below. She didn’t look like much, not at first. She bore her suffering and her experience and her handicaps well, of course, giving nary a sign that she was as blind as they come or that she had suffered awfully for her past.
But there was no magic to her. She was beautiful, in an elegant, understated way, and she had that glow of satisfaction that so many artists did after practicing their craft, one that Alessandra usually found quite compelling.
But that was it.
A shift to the astral showed her what she already knew, that Robyn was heavily augmented, vast swathes of her soul blacked out and cut away, perhaps even more now than when Calista had last seen her.
What did her little phage see in the woman?
Alessandra reached back into her memory, seeing what Calista saw, and suddenly her perceptions shifted, in a way that Alessandra found entirely disconcerting. It wasn’t that anything looked different, of course. This was memory, not magic. There was no eldritch transformation. What there was, in point of fact, was context.
The simple act of being normal became something courageous, became a stand against all her suffering, a testament to vital will and the agony of staving of defeat. Her steps, just the simple act of walking, became a testament to liquid grace as Calista’s perceptions overlaid Alessandra’s, showing her the myriad little ways that Robyn’s kinesthetic sense compensated for her lack of sight, the hundred little corrections by sound and feel and artifice that served her just as well as eyes, and easy and natural she made the difficult look. The soft satisfaction of a song well-played became one woman’s vision of another’s greatest gift, of the small light that she brought into the world, despite the darkness that had tried to crush her, and the flickering, lambent glow of her withered essence was a fire, the bright point to which Calista was struggling to return.
Alessandra’s breath caught. She had never been mortal, never loved as only the young, impulsive mayflies could, had never considered what it must be like. She did so now, and even the ghost of an echo of a memory stilled her sharp tongue and quieted her always-racing mind.
And then, of course, she nearly ruined the whole moment.
So caught up was she in watching Robyn that she had lost sight of the third as she passed in the lobby, and Alessandra clipped the woman’s shoulder with her own. Her voice, a twin to Melissa’s, with its icy, aristocratic accent came out in a liquid, “My apologies, please excuse my rudeness. Good evening.” She extricated herself from the collision quickly, brushing past the little group, but at the door she turned, wanting one last glimpse of Robyn before she left.December 15, 2018 at 3:53 pm #12628
Late Evening, Tuesday, December 21, 2077; Lobby, Gates Undersound Hotel, Downtown Seattle
One of the hotel’s liveried vehicle valets assists the three women from the Rolls but quickly stands aside as the massive dog exits the car. Robyn hears the muted gasps from some of the people standing near the hotel entrance but her ears quickly scan and eliminate anyone as a direct threat to the hound or herself. She is well used to the reactions of others by now, most of whom simply assume that Alfie is just a very large and imposing dog. Of course, there is always the chance that someone will recognize him for what he really is, but she has sufficient official paperwork to justify his presence as her service animal.
A doorman opens the wide glass door for the arrivals, wishing Lady Marisart welcome. Tanya pauses for a couple of seconds to greet the man by name and ask after his family before the small group moves on into the underwater-themed great lobby. As they walk across the sea foam-colored tiles, Tanya and Robyn are talking about the concert and the ball to be held afterwards at the Opera House, neither appearing to be much interested in their surroundings.
But appearances can be deceiving and both are using their own enhanced abilities to remain acutely aware of nearly everything going on near them. Although they are not wired the same, and much of Robyn’s abilities are natural, each is able to maintain a conversation while keeping aware of who and what is near. And then there is the Hell Hound. The creature’s head is constantly moving from side to side, seeking out threats to his mistress, prepared to burn the world down if necessary in order to protect her. His remarkable senses allow him to notice the Watcher even as he is seen. A small snort alerts Robyn that Someone or Something is watching them and she makes what preparations she can. It has been a while since she had to fight off a spirit sent by her nemesis, and there is a very good chance that whatever is watching her means her no harm. Still, the slight pause in conversation and stiffness in her right arm alerts Tanya that something is amiss and she quickly reaches out a hand, meaning to stead her friend, but carefully withdraws it as the hound’s head turns in her direction.
After that, everything seems to happen at once. A woman standing near them turns and makes what seems to be accidental contact with Monique’s shoulder. Tanya’s maid displays the agility of a cat as she slips sideways at the first touch, turning so her back is to her employer. She nods at the woman, speaking in a French accent. “But no. No apology is necessary, Madame. Please have a pleasant evening.”
The words are polite but the maid’s eyes do not leave the face of the woman. But it is the words of the stranger that seem to have the greatest affect. It takes only a part of a moment for the sound to work its way into Robyn’s mutated brain and a few more to penetrate to where she has locked away the memories of her torture and near death. She gasps and turns to face the threat, making sounds that bring the Hell Hound closer to her side. Tanya sends a private message to Monique and the maid follows the mystery woman as she moves towards the door of the lobby.
In just a few seconds it is all over and Tanya guides a pale Robyn and the hound to the private elevators leading to the undersea suites. By the time they reach the door to her apartment, Monique has returned, shaking her head slightly to indicate that she lost the woman.
4December 15, 2018 at 4:15 pm #12630
Losing the maid was hardly difficult. SHe was, unsurprisingly, more than she appeared, but Alessandra was used to that and no French maid, no matter how skilled, was going to be able to track an immortal sorceress. A working, a cloaking, and she was gone amidst shadows, walking under a shroud of invisibility as she slipped effortlessly through guests and their vehicles to the curb and then across the street. There was a park there, and Alessandra made for it, finding a bench that was bereft of anything but a faint sprinkling of moisture. There, she sat and considered.
Robyn had recognized her, or recognized something about her. That hellhound could see her for what she was, at least in part, but Robyn hadn’t reacted to a general threat. She had reacted to a specific one, or the memory of one. Alessandra searched her memory for what could have caused that. She’d never met the blind elven cellist-‘runner before, that much was certain, and her association with Calista came only after their brief time together. So how had she…
Alessandra rapped the heel of her hand against her forehead, feeling stupid. When one played centuries long power games and pursued vendettas and machinations down the ages, always searching for threats and opportunities, it was easy to forget the little things. For example, Alessandra had hated her sister for so long, been on the lookout for her schemes for so many decades that it had become second nature. She had made herself unlike her sister, defining herself by being Not-Melissa.
It made it easy to forget that, except for some strange quirk of magic or genetics that caused Melissa to express as a Nocturna, that they were twins.
Robyn hadn’t recognized her. She had recognized her voice, a sound that was exactly like Melissa’s when she didn’t put in the effort to make it different. Gods, what a horror that must have been! Alessandra shook her head at her own stupidity and heaved a sigh. She felt guilty, but there was no way of making it right. Now she just had to hope that she hadn’t scared Robyn off so badly that it would compromise Calista and Foxglove’s plans.
Alessandra wove a watcher spirit quietly, softly. She couldn’t send it into the hotel, the astral security would notice such a thing in a heartbeat, but she could post it here, across from the door. With the poise and elegance of Robyn and her companion, and the obvious expense of dress and limousine, she was betting that they weren’t exactly in a normal room, either, and so she sent another to observe the penthouse and upper suites until it found Robyn or her companion, and then to sit and observe there as well.
Alessandra settled back on the bench, waiting to see if her spirits would be noticed. Either they wouldn’t be, and she would learn something, or they would, and some mage would follow their connection back to her, and she would learn something. EIther way, she was curious now, and there were no other matters that required her attention this night.December 15, 2018 at 4:15 pm #12631
Calista and Foxglove
Late Evening, Tuesday, December 21, 2077, Crash Pad at 86th and 228th, Redmond
Foxglove watched with an impassive mask as Calista’s mind worked through whatever horrors it had remembered, but internally her own mind was going about a million miles a minute. Would she scream again? Could she get out of the way in time if she did? What if this state is permanent? Would Calista be able to do this job? Would going to the concert be more detrimental to the run than helpful? What if she couldn’t get her friend back? Would this dramatically change her personality? Those screams destroyed so much and must have reached far enough to gain quite a bit of attention. They would have to leave this apartment, and soon. Also, since when did vampires actually cry blood?
The silent list of questions and possible issues went on and on until the Banshee finally spoke, a quiet sound that Foxglove almost didn’t hear. It took her a moment to parse what the girl had said, but then she nodded. When she spoke, her words were clipped, almost commanding, ”Yes. Which means she’s alive. This is good. Now, come back to me, Calista. You’re crying blood.” The elf lifted one of the paper towels, stained with red and pink, to emphasize her point.
It had taken a while, longer than she had anticipated, but her friend had finally gone nuclear as she had suspected would happen at some point. She just hoped this level of breakdown was more of a one-time thing: they couldn’t keep drawing this much attention to themselves, and there was some deep part of her that couldn’t bear to see her friend in such a state.
……..Since when had she become such a sap?
#13-6December 15, 2018 at 4:30 pm #12635
Calista’s shattered mind drifted for a moment more, a subjective eternity that was maybe thirty seconds. She drew breath to scream again, and then the words penetrated. They didn’t help much, the words, but the tone did. She had followed orders from a commanding Nocturna for a large portion of her life, and the old reflex kicked in, and with it came years of training to handle abuse and fear and surprise and horror and a whole host of other things that could compromise her.
Melissa had commanded her, and she would obey. Not to would be unthinkable. Outwardly, the change was sudden. Her spine snapped perfectly straight, and she shifted in posture without actually moving, going from a defeated slump to something between a submissive’s posture of readiness and a seiza. Her head lifted and her mouth shut with a click, the scream dying away into a mechnical, “Yes, mistress Shirai.”
A moment passed.
“Wait, vampires don’t cry bl- oh.”
The spell was broken.
Calista looked at Foxglove, looked at the paper towel, reached up to feel her eyes. They hurt, and her fingertips came away red. Vampires didn’t really cry blood. Why had she cried blood? The memory came back, the revelation, the scream, and it threatened to well up and overwhelm Calista again, but she clamped down with icy self-control. She took one look around the room, noting the devastation, and summed it all up with a single, heartfelt, “Frag.”
She turned her gaze on Foxglove, blood clinging to her eyelashes. It was oddly beautiful, in a horrifying sort of way. The red in her sclera, burst blood vessels from the backlash of her own scream was receding already, her regeneration repairing her. She sighed. “Well, there it is.” She said softly. “Its going to take some time to make sense of this, but I’m guessing we don’t have it.” She looked around again and shook her head. “I used to be better than this.” Turning back to Fox, she asked, “How long was I…out?”
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