My Kind of Town Part 1


What follows is an enormously long and personal story of 3 PC's and many PC's, done in three parts. Ally's mother, Anya Cindel, went missing in Chicago in 2056, in the middle of the Bug-City Crisis and the city's containment era. Ally grew up without knowing her mothers fate. Johny Wulfson, a native of Chicago who lost his family in the Cermak Blast, agreed to help Ally find closure for her family. They travel to Chicago via a small plane before jumping out rather than risk landing, explore the Floating Market in search of a contact, float down a river on a rickety boat, then walk in to The Shattergraves, perhaps the most horrific spot in North America.

Along the way, they meet interesting people, such as Larissa, Elder Scryer of the Floating Market, the river pilot Ol' Joe, the Longshoreman Hector and Queen Aries of the White Tower. When Ally and Johny don't report back in, in a timely fashion, Marcus, Johny's student and friend, and Kassandra, Ally's fiance, depart for Chicago to find their wayward friends.

Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four


Johny Wulfson A life long intelligence agent with more faces and names than verifiable memories. He seeks to put Ally's mind at rest with the memory of her mother, but that goes horribly, horribly wrong.
Marcus A young apprentice to Johny Wulfson, he is awakened and more than a little concerned when Johny doesn't report in on time.
Kassandra A former fixer, Kassandra's love for Ally motivates her to the extreme.
Aladriel A young, but powerful Magi, Ally seeks the memory of her mother. What she finds not what she expected, but is it ever?
Larissa A mysterious old woman who patronizes the floating market and provides her divination to those who bring her honor.
Hector A former longshoreman who now works for the Queen of the White Tower. He loaths his job, but accepts it as the cost of life.
Ol Joe A mariner by trade, Ol Joe has been in Chicago as long as any can remember. He makes his living driving people up and down the river.
Queen Aries The Queen of the White Tower, named Aries by Aladriel, she holds a terrible secret.
The Marquis S'comparsa Manservant, perhaps love of the Queen. A free spirit of some power.
The Fellowship of Astendar An initiatory group of magi who served as caretakers of the Manalines that ran beneath the Water Tower for Loyola University before Queen Aries killed them.

Part One: The Lie of the Mirrors Report

Gathering Portents

It's yet another meeting at the airport. A smaller plane this time, a single engine turbo-prop job. Not the kind of swept wing, sleek jet he usually flies when you go to say, Europe, but more a local commuter plane. "Come on, kiddo. We got a long flight ahead of us to Midway."

Aladriel shows up at the airport in, bless your soul, a car. One that she's actually driving. At least sort-of. Autonav was used liberally. But now that its actually at the airport, Ally takes over. She manages not to hit anything on her way in. She's learning, at least. Pulling the car to a bit of a lurching stop, the door pops open and the mage gets out.
She's dressed like she's ready for some rough and tumble business. Pseudo-leather looking armor and weaponry abound, at least from the pistol and knives on her legs. Doubtlessly there's more hidden under her coat. As she gets out of the car she goes to the back seat and pulls out her sheathed sword and a small bag. Closing the doors and locking it up, she trots over to the plane with a smile. Johny should be proud. She's taken some lessons to heart. She doesn't look like a mage, she looks like a sam.

Sam himself, is dressed a bit like an urban commando. Nothing shiny, no signs of obvious wealth. An armored jacket, a few duffel of gear.
He's got a shotgun slung across his back and a pair of pistols on his hips. "Do you have a gun?" He asks, looking over his shoulder at the younger woman. "We are going to a place where you may have to kill, or you may have to watch me kill. This is not a happy place."

"Three," Ally says with a small smile as she looks over Sam. She takes in what he's wearing…and, with a slight crease of her brows, her hair turns black and the very small amount of makeup she'd been wearing seems to fade even further. To demonstrate, she points to the Savalette Guardian on her hip, and peeks open her jacket to reveal another holstered at her hip. She doesn't point out the third one. "Kass helped me get ready," she explains with a small smile before it quickly fades. "You don't have to worry. I'm ready for this. Even ammo'd up. Gel and bigger."

Johny eyes Ally for a moment. "The day I stop worrying, is the day Kassandra leaves you for a blond haired Aztlanner adonis." he says with a chuckle. He climbs in tot he planes small cockpit via the side door. No real passenger space here; it's two cockpit seats and two rear seats. Just not made for huge load, this single engine Cessna. Of course, it can land on hard packed dirt and fly low and slow. Thats a bonus.


Ally laughs at Johny, and it's a genuine sort of laugh. Not a worried one. Going into aft of the plane, she quickly stows her traveling sack and stows her sword away. Then she heads into the cockpit, taking the seat that Johny hasn't occupied. She sits down, grunts, and starts shifting around. "Owwww, are you supposed to be able to sit with these things on?" she grumbles, reaching behind her to pull a gun from the small of her back.

Ally laughs at Johny, and it's a genuine sort of laugh. Not a worried one. Going into aft of the plane, she quickly stows her traveling sack and stows her sword away. Then she heads into the cockpit, taking the seat that Johny hasn't occupied. She sits down, grunts, and starts shifting around. "Owwww, are you supposed to be able to sit with these things on?" she grumbles, reaching behind her to pull a gun from the small of her back.

"You get used to it." He says, pulling the door closed and turning the engine on. "Okay. So. Do me a favor, pull out that map in the book to the right… You need to tell me how to get, flying, to Chicago…"

Ally frowns and looks around for a moment before she grabs the book. "Map? What happened to the like…" she motions with wiggly fingers to the virtual map that the other plane had had. "I don't know much about navigation. I think we need to go…" she pulls out the map, opens it up wide and studies it for a second. "To the right, if we're facing…North. So um, east?"

Johny chuckles quietly. "You need to know how to get around without electronic aid as much as you need to know how to get around with it. You wern't born yet…" he says, taxing the plane out on to the small runway. "But the Matrix crash of 29 killed thousands, because their pilots didn't ACTUALLY know how to fly. The planes flew themselves, linked to Matrix Navigational Systems. You might imagine, this caused problems."

Ally pales noticeably and she reaches into her jacket pocket and starts playing with something. Fidgeting with, even. "That sounds just…awful," she says with a small shake of her head. "Okay then. So point taken. Where's the compass?"

Johny points to a small dial on the plane's dash board. "This is directional compass, the markings you see around the outside, labeled 0 to 360, are degrees. So if I say come about to heading 250, you know I want you to fly roughly west by southwestish, right?"

"You mean when -I- tell -you- to go about that heading, right? You're flying, I'm navigating," Ally tells Sam quickly, managing to lose just a tiny bit more color. "But yes…that does make sense, and I can follow that sort, I think."

He chuckles then, as the plane rumbles down the runway. "Well, congratulations. You just learned in 20 seconds what took my land navigation class in basic nearly half a day to figure out, and that was with lots of teaching aids."

Ally blinks at that, looking genuinely surprised. "It did? Whyever for. It's not that hard… 360 degrees is a circle and if 0 is North, 180 is half a circle and thus South…. it would seem like Southwest would be about 250."

"Well, lets just say that the smart ones don't join the military." He says as the plane lifts in to the air. It's a little like being on a lawnmower with wings, only less powerful or graceful. It's smooth enough in the air, but the engine still sounds like a hamster on crack. "So anyway. When we land, we're coming in to Midway. It's abandoned these days, all traffic coming through the Ohare space port or down in to Gary… used sometimes by the military. But I've got a small section of dirt I know we can land on. Now, I'm gonna explain to you some basics of plotting a course, including what 'minutes' means, here in the next few hours. I want you to plan an ingress route along the Chicago river. We need to stay below 300 feet the entire way." He looks over to her, grinning.

"Do I even want to know why?" Ally asks, looking a little bit perturbed at flying at such a low altitude. "I suppose the only good thing about that is we've got less distance to fall if…well, you know," she says with a shudder. "So go ahead and teach me. And then tell me about what we're going to see."

"I dislike filing flight plans… and I'd rather not announce to the entire area a civilian plane is penetrating the airspace of Chicago. When you fly low, and in the dark, this plane sounds like a motorcycle or loud car. When you fly high, people see you. Lets remember the economy where, is going to make the warrens look like Cabo San Lucas, okay?"

Aladriel seems quite interested in the reasoning behind flying so low and it makes her smile a bit. "Clever," she says softly, though that smile is quick to fade at the bit about the economy. That…that's not as good. "Who are we going to find there? People…did people really survive the containment? Or are these people who've gone there now to…I don't know, salvage or something?"

He puts the plane on a north by north easterly course, looking over to the map for a moment. "A lot of people survived. It's our blessing and our curse. We are adaptable. I don't think for a moment the entirety of humanity will be wiped out by anything, even the Scourge. I think in the end, unchecked, the scourge will simply remove what makes us human and turn us in to violent predators again, stripping away learning and civilization. But humanity will survive."

Ally's eyes drift from the directional compass down to the map, then back up to the compass again, paying attention to the direction they're headed so she can answer questions as needed. It also gives her time to contemplate Sam's reasoning. "I don't know if you're right about learning disappearing. It's human nature to learn. It'll just be…a different type. Simplistic. Learning how to survive and teaching others to do it. Children will survive and they'll need to learn. Written language will probably stay, though in what form, who's to say?"

"I said stripping away learning. Not the ability to learn, but what we -have- learned." He says simply, glancing over to her. The sun is starting to get low on the horizon, putting their arrival in Chicago around midnight, which is good for not being seen. "THere is a phrase. A dog is a meal away from being a wolf. Do you know what it means?"

Thinking on that for a moment, "Dogs are evolved from wolves and wolves are feral. I don't know…a dog kills something and will go back to being feral, like a wolf?" Ally tries.

"A dog is just a wolf you feed." Says Sam, banking the plane in to the civilian traffic, it's small radar signature becoming one of thousands in the air, hiding in plain sight. "There are a few truisms. Never trust a traitor, a wolf is always a wolf, and human nature is to consume." he says. "Strip away our technology, take away our entertainments, and you will see the barbarity of what we actually are. We are animals, and our primary predator, Ally, is ourselves."

A tight smile from Ally as the truisms are revealed to her. She shakes her head a little bit, and the smile turns a bit sad, "I know its true. And its a depressing thing, isn't it? We cannot count on each other to band together to solve problems. At least en masse. Everyone for themselves…like what happened with the Scourge and the defenses of that kingdom."

Johny nods to Ally as the plane continues its way east, in to an unknown fate. "That is correct. People think they always have the better answer, are fearful of giving up what they have, what they want. They fear that if they listen to someone else, they will be diluted in power and strength for it. Our job is to find a way to work around that. The casualty rate in the last scourge is projected at 90 percent of the world off the top. 10 percent made it in to protections. Those protections had a failure rate of approximately 60 percent. There are 6.9 billion people on this world, Ally."

"How many would survive?"

Ally looks suitably sobered by the estimations that Sam's hanging out. She's doing mental math, subtracting a lot of zeroes. She sighs as she gets down lower and lower. "Far less than a billion," she murmurs. "I'd rather not even like to think about it."

"Less than the current population of the UCAS, Ally. A quarter of a billion, at the very best. And the people who make it will likely not be the best examples of humanity, but the wealthiest, the most ruthless, those willing to do what it takes to survive. Can you imagine if Aztechnology for example, had a surviving population of 50,000,000? THose who survive are in a very good position to dominate."

"So you're saying that if we end up not doing a good job and bad things seem inevitable, it might not be a bad idea to set off a big bomb in Aztlan just to hedge our bets?" Ally asks with a little grin, trying to bring a touch of humor in.

Johny can't help but grin at that… "You… know me so well. It's touching. To be known." He says. He then gestures to the map, explaining about airspeed and how it relates to distance traveled. Because miles are measured on the ground and are subject to things like hills, its long been an air and sea navigational convention to measure in minutes at a given speed. For example, rather than go ninety miles north, they would go 120 minutes north at 45 miles an hour. That puts you pretty much where you need to be. It makes precision work possible, as it keeps time tables exact and planes in formation.

Ally chuckles quietly at having dished out her own Sam-like answer. It's a proud moment for her. As they continue on flying, she hmmms at things she learns. "What about stuff like the wind? Doesn't that mess things up? Like if you're flying with the wind you'll be faster, and against the wind, slower. Won't that like mess up all your calculations?"

Johny nods. "There are minor calculations for that. You change minutes based on air speed, air pressure, plane weight, that sort of thing. It keeps you accurate most times." He looks over to Ally. "You're one of the smartest woman I've met. You should give yourself more credit, you know."

Ally, just like she does with Kass, doesn't look like she knows what to do with the compliment. She fidgets a little bit and shrugs her shoulders. "I don't know. Nice of you to say. But I didn't even know how to drive a car for twenty-three years. I just don't think about a lot of stuff. Then when I do I sometimes get a good idea."

Sam gestures to the map. "You have 20 minutes until we reach the outer air space of the Chicago land area. I want to be down below building level to scatter our radar signature."

Crash Landings

Ally shivers a little bit as they approach Chicago. Oh boy. Nibbling her lip for they will soon be traveling low, she decides to use the last twenty minutes to ask a few pertinent questions. "So…what are our rules here? Is there any kind of organized law or security that we need to watch out for? You know I normally will go stun before kill…but just want to know if there's anything I need to be specially on guard for."

"Weapons hot, Ally. This is not the kiddy fun time preschool show. If someone slots with us, they die. It's not pretty, it's not fun, but it is effective. We kill enough people and people start to leave us alone. If they use leathal force, they die. If someone tries to lift your wallet, break their hands."

Slowly nodding her head, letting herself absorb that, Ally tries to begin pushing herself towards the mindset of being able to do those things. She looks to Sam and asks, seeking aid in getting there, "Because it'll be much more unpleasant for us if we don't. Dangerous even."

Johny nods. "Exactly so. Animals, Ally. You don't tell a wolf no… you kick it in the snout until you can get your gun out." He says. "Now. Get yourself a personal levitate spell ready." Says Sam as he glances over at the map, dropping down in to the sprawling cityscape of the outer chicago land area. "We arn't exactly landing."

Ally's eyebrows shoot straight up at that and she almost gasps. Almost. Then she actually breaks into a big smile. "I'm forced to ask why…but at the same time, part of me always thought it'd be kindof cool to jump out of a plane and fly down. Give me a few seconds warning, I need to get my bag and sword," she says, and starts unstrapping herself so she can run back and get it.

"Do you think this plane will be safe, sitting in an almost-abandoned airport in the middle of one of the largest metro-ruin in north America this side of Los Angeles, so safe we can -count- on it for an egress route?" Asks sam, looking over to her. "No. It won't be. So we set the plane to ditch in the lake, and insert ourselves near where my package drop should be… and I have other arrangements to get out."

"Makes sense!" Ally shouts from the back as she picks up her bag and sword. She hmms a little bit, fidgeting with how to wear the sword, for she's sure hate to drop it. She secures it firmly to her belt and slings her backpack.

"My style is expensive, no doubt, but most of that can be offset by the fact that I stole this plane to start with." Says he, reaching behind himself with an -unnatural- twist of his spine and shoulder… "Never buy what you can steal, never use of your own what you can borrow. Keeps costs and traceability down."

Aladriel considers how she feels about being in a stolen plane. Not that great. Still…it got them to Chicago, so she doesn't say much about it. In fact she doesn't say anything and just ignores it. "All right then. Borrow and steal…will add that to my M.O.," she kindof mumbles, trying to keep from smiling.

Johny glances over to Ally, an eyebrow raising. "SMile any wider, and they can spot us from the ground based on the gleam." he says, reaching forward to kill the dash panel. "Don't worry. I can still see them." He says as the light in the cockpit dies suddenly. The plane noses over, heading down to the ground rapidly, almost too rapidly as he approaches Chicago off to the side of the Adlai Stevenson expressway, skimming the waves of the Chicago River. The noise of the plane is deadened by the traffic and it's radar sig won't really be noticed at the water line.

"You're on deck, kiddo… get us to Midway."

Aladriel yipes as the plane pitches downwards abruptly and she has to grab onto anything she can to not lose her balance. "You're flying on your own, right?" she asks, a bit panicked as she scrambles backwards towards the door. "You really should told me to open the door first before you started trying to kill us!"
At the plane's hatch, she gives a quick pause to read the directions before she throws the handle and starts pushing it open.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Winged Aircraft vs TN 6 for "Cause, well, this ain't easy.":
1 1 11 = 1 Success

Hatch is a little generous. It's more like a car door on a plane this small. Samuel calls back the instructions, marking them verbally. He throttles the plane up, speeding for greater lift as he puts the plane in to a near-sideways curve, taking them between two crumbling smoke stacks, before leveling off, then banking back to the left to scream at full power down what used to be a fairly wide street. Here, in the CCZ, it's now a parking lot of abandoned vehicles and you're skimming them at about 30 feet, with maybe half that in wing-clearance between the buildings.

The wind whips at Ally's face and she sure is glad she braided it tightly or this would be a mess. Looking down over the landscape thats whipping by beneath her, a thrill of exhilaration goes through the mage. Oooh if Kass could see her now, about to leap out of a plane, all like Johny Combatmage! "Ready!" she yells back, full prepared to hurtle out.

It's Karl Kombatmage. Johny watches the world around them, then puts the plane in to a steep climb as they cross over the boundaries of Midway airport. The airport itself is now a flat expanse of mostly broken ground, the occasional airframe that's been stripped to its core, and the much smaller military section on the far side near the terminals. When the plane hits 200 feet, he calls out… "Now!" With that, he and his duffle bag, jump the hell out of the airplane.

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 2 vs TN 6:
1 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 5 10 = 1 Success

Aladriel waits for the signal and the moment it comes she throws herself out of the plane, taking a running start as she instinctively thinks to want to get as far from the plane as possible lest she get bonked on the head with the wing or something that would embarass her greatly in the afterlife. She lets herself look up to see the plane go by before she casts the spell to catch herself. Its a bit of a rough deceleration as she got a little excited about not being able to catch herself in time. But at least she stops, and then starts to drop lower.

Johny stands in the air, looking as calm and composed as a man going for a walk with a bag over his shoulder. "Okay. Now…" he gets his bearings. "Okay. Over there, is minuteman park. THere's an old truck stashed there as of.." he checks his watch. "Now.. Uwe's good with getting the goods where they need to be. Follow me." He says, starting a glide path that takes him nearer to the oddly shaped park that runs along side the traintracks…

Normally Ally loves flying. It's one of her favorite things to do. But now…in the ruins of a once great city, in the remnants of a once bustling airport…she's ill at ease. Looking around frequently, eyeing the ground warily, she follows Sam with caution, one hand hovering over the pistol at her hip. She puts her communications from this point forward through her transceiver and subvocal mic.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "This…is creepy. Not going to lie."

Commlink-(Geist): Wait till you see Tehran.

On the ground, on the move

Off in the distance, a building facing is illuminated by the staccato beats of a machine pistol firing. Little to no sound is deadened, with the crispness of the winter air doing nothing to impede it. It's about a quarter mile off and not directed at the pair in the air. Sam hits the ground, moving in to a casual walk, eyes scanning the park for dangers or threats. He's making his way to an old Nissan Land-Cruiser type truck with snow tires.

Off in the distance, a building facing is illuminated by the staccato beats of a machine pistol firing. Little to no sound is deadened, with the crispness of the winter air doing nothing to impede it. It's about a quarter mile off and not directed at the pair in the air. Sam hits the ground, moving in to a casual walk, eyes scanning the park for dangers or threats. He's making his way to an old Nissan Land-Cruiser type truck with snow tires.

Ally's eyes flick to the site of the machine pistol firing and she frowns more. Hitting the ground a few seconds after Sam does, Aladriel pulls the Savalette Guardian from her right thigh holster and keeps it naked in her hand as she follows after the man, moving up to a trot if he gets too far in front of her. As they approach the land-cruiser she throws her gaze into the astral for a quick moment to give a sweep around before she moves to the passenger side.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intelligence + 3 (Surviell comp) for "Is the truck currently watched?":
2 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 10
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence for "Cause Ally's looking too":
1 1 1 2 4 4 4 5 5 9
«OOC» Johny says, "Checking astral space?"
«OOC» Aladriel noddles.
«OOC» Johny says, "Gimmie an assensing roll"
«OOC» Aladriel did!
«OOC» Aladriel was looking astrally =D
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Aura Reading for "Comp!":
1 4 4 11

Johny pauses as he moves closer to the truck, his eyes assessing the sight lines, where the truck's visible from, where it's possible to see from… After a few moments he gives the girl a nod and steps closer to the vehicle.

Astrally speaking, this… is -depressing-. Imagine a world with a hugely toxic aura, the kind that would make your skin crawl, the sort of thing that would leach the life from your bones… and realize that, is still better than this. There's just… nothing here. Life is at a bare minimum and ambient magic is just… non-existent. In the distance, a cloud of some kind of magically active something exists, hovering over the city like a pall.

Ally catches Sam's motion and she gets herself to the passenger side and opens the door, sliding in in a hurry. She shivers a little bit once she's inside and puts a hand over her eyes. "Well, that's about one of the most depressing sights I've ever felt." Yes, she said that deliberately. "Just….terrible. Really terrible. Glad I can filter," she murmurs to herself rather than so much to Sam.

Taking in the relative safety of the car, Aladriel holds up her Guardian and considers it for a moment. She mms and then quickly ejects the clip. Its got a little green dot on the bottom of it. She puts this clip in a slot on her belt and replaces it with a clip with a different dot on it.

Johny slides in to the truck himself, one hand reaching under the seat to find the keys. They are where they should be and he comes up with them. "It's not a playground." He says simply, putting the car in gear and pulling out in to the street. Northbound on to Central, and then heading eastbound on S. ARcher, the main expressway. Of course, it's more like a crawl way, as he weaves his way through the occasional abandoned vehicle or around rubble. It's not exactly a nice place, but it's been 12 years since the walls came down… so it's been cleaned up some. Especially in the outlying areas..

"What would it take," Ally asks, unable to silent in the presence of such decay and ruin that has been left in the aftermath of such tragedy, "To rebuild everything. To get this city back to what it was? I mean…I know money, but will it ever happen, do you think? Or will people just not touch it?"

"Soul." Says Sam as he drives down the dark street. "Soul can only come after Absolution. This was the site of the first real incursion from an astral realm. We didn't fight them well. We tried half assed measures. We tried to hide it. We hid it from our selves. We wern't ready. WErn't paying attention. Wern't -LISTENING- to what was going on around us… and Chicago paid the price. The people of Chicago paid the price." A pause… "I paid the price." He's quiet for a moment then…

"Absolution. A sense of penitence and repayment of debt. A lifting of guilt. That comes before the return of soul."

The pause makes Ally look at Sam, and sadness creeps in along the edges as she watches him. "I did too," she murmurs softly, lowering her eyes for a moment before she goes back to staring out the window, keeping the pistol in her lap, barrel pointed towards the door and away from her body and Sam's. "I don't think it'll ever happen, then. Not this way. People won't pay for what they don't think is their problem. Far, far too easy to ignore this. To cross it off a map, to pretend its not there. They'd actually have to be here to understand, I think."

"Cities are the result of economic climates. When the land value of Chicago rises above what it costs to level it and start over… Chicago will be rebuilt. Until then, it is nothing more than a painful reminder of failure, a symbol of our powerlessness against unknown threats in the awakened world. It is a symbol of why the world needs us, Ally."

Slowly nodding her head, Aladriel doesn't say anything. Nor does she look at Sam. Her mind is off, remembering painful things. The House. There was no skill there. No special… it was nearly a disaster. It was more luck than anything that Lilith, Kass and Ally survived it, as far as the mage is concerned. They knew so little for that. And now, looking out across the ruined city of Chicago, Ally thinks she's seeing what will happen if she and her friends make the same mistakes.

The truck turns north along Kedzie, slowly approaching the bridge over the south fork. Sam has taken a slow ride, taking it easy. No need to speed through Chicago, which despite its issues, does still occasionally show signs of being an actual honest to city. "Bridges." Says Samuel. "Present a particular issue. Choke points. Elevated and vulnerable, visible from all sides and defensible from none. You ever want to eliminate a motorcade or a vehicle? The bridge is the best option. Flipside to that is any bodyguard detail knows that too."

Ally's brought out of her rummaging within her thoughts at the sound of Sam's voice. She focuses her attention forward on the approaching bridge and her brows furrow a little bit. "That's a bit of a disconcerting thought," she mutters, just like that wary of the bridge they're now approaching. "So…what do you do? Want me to like… hide us and send a fake car across?" she asks helpfully, her hand tightening on the gun in her lap.

Johny shakes his head. "Background count here… is going to be phenomenal. We're not far, as the crow flies, from the Cermak Crater and nuclear detonations play hell with Mana. Theres some interesting theoretical physics on the subatomic level that ties high end energy science directly to Mana. Useless to us right now, but I'd say, given our distance, there would be an MITnT scale 4 to 5 Astral Warp here."

Owing to her earlier assessing, Ally is reluctant to do again. Despite that, she throws a quick glance to Sam, before her eyes go right back forward, a little too on edge to just be looking at him considering where they are. "You're making want to try just cause its a challenge" she says with a small smile. Left unsaid is that she wants to impress him. "I learned a metamagical technique just for operative sorcery in an area like this. Lot of magicians neglect it because they think they'll never be in a really bad place."


Sam eyes the girl for a moment. "If you want to check the bridge out, be my guest, Ally… I was just giving some expository information on why bridges in general are a bad idea."

Ally blinks at Sam and looks momentarily surprised. "Oh…well…" she's definitely caught offguard. "I thought you'd have wanted me to. I mean….that seems like a you thing. Doesn't seem like there are a lot of cars around here and you said these are desperate, feral people… who know that this is the only way across….so….mmm, slow down but don't stop. Give me a second."

«OOC» Aladriel says, "BGCount 5?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1:
«OOC» Johny says, "BG count 5"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Magic vs TN 5 for "Filtering":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 4 4 5 5 7 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 2 vs TN 6 for "Casting Trid Phantasm of Land Cruiser atop current Land Cruiser.":
1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower + Sorcery Pool: 8 for "Resisting 5D Drain":
1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 7 17
«OOC» Johny says, "Doesn't bg count add to drain?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Centering vs TN 3 for "Centering against Penalties: 4+2sustaining+2bg+1Lstun-grade":
1 1 5 10 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 6 vs TN 8 for "Improved Invis on Car":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 8 9 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower + Sorcery Pool: 4 vs TN 6 for "M Stun resist":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower + Sorcery Pool: 4 - 1 vs TN 6 for "M Stun resist KP 1/30":
1 1 1 2 3 3 3 3 4 5 8 10 11 11 15 = 5 Successes
Ally's diversionary tactics on the vehicle avoid a situation in which toll-takers would stop the car and initiate hostilities. COMBAT SCENE AVOIDED

"It's not the only way to cross. It's just one of the only ways to cross. This city has a lot of crossings, some are still even in repair. This happens to be one of them, so it gets a lot of traffic.." Indeed, as you approach the bridge in the middle of the night, there is a sharp uptick in the amount of traffic on the road. Maybe it was the landcruiser approaching and the pack mentality of humanity but almost immediately, 5-10 other vehicles are on the road, and not necessarily hostilely so.

Johny doens't seem alarmed by it as he heads slowly for the bridge.

Aladriel goes very still and her eyes narrow a little bit as she puts her magic to the test. The only thing visible from the car is her concentration. Just like that…the complex weave of filtering against the tainted mana takes place and immediately she casts the spell outward. Nothing seems to happen. Then….the car disappears around them. Its like they're sitting on thin air.

Abruptly another car, an exact copy of the Land Cruiser roars ahead in front of them out and across the bridge. Ally's got her right hand out, touching the side of the arm rest of the car as her faux vehicle travels out and across the bridge. "Just take my word for it….that was really hard."

He looks over at her, driving the invisible truck now over to the shoulder where he tries to avoid traffic as much as possible. Just because they can't see the truck, does not mean they cannot HIT the truck. "Most accidents occur within ten miles of home. Its a statistic people like to throw out a lot. Reality is, most people never leave a bubble of 10 miles radius from their home. They work with in it, they eat with in it, they live with in it. So, well, statistically speaking, yes. It's like that nonsense data that half our children are below average in school." A pause. "WELL FUCKING DUH!"

Ally grins tightly at the statistics Sam throws out. She doesn't look at him though, she's keeping her eyes on the Land Cruiser she's generated up infront of her, making sure it drives like a real vehicle and doesn't, y'know, drive through things. "I bet no one really sits down to think about that, do they? The driving radius thing."

"It goes back to examination of reality, Ally." Says Sam as he guides the truck off the far side of the bridge, narrowly avoiding a tanker truck as it rolls onward. "People find slapdash statistics to comfort them, they reinforce world view. Like the crime statistics for the warrens; it reinforces the idea that the SINless are animals and uncivilized; that theres nothing to be done for them and walling them off -is- the best way. If you examine the situation, you find most crime in the warrens is sustenance based. Crimes of economics, where the job they do is illegal. Recycling, drug dealing, prostitution, armed robbery. People trying to make money to live on. Now, don't mistake me, I'm no bleeding heart, and I fully support the right to bear arms and put a bullet in a gangers head, but people look at those statistics, and they wall themselves off from the world with them. Another brick in the wall of self-perception."

"I suppose its what makes the world work. It's always been the way, hasn't it?" Ally asks. "There's always been classes and there are different things to support that and to reinforce the divide. There's always got to be someone for the wealthy or the swells to look down on. God given right, superior breeding, lucky enough to be born into a wealthy, powerful family rather than a peasant family," she murmurs. "Now the reason is statistics and the like. The justification and reasoning to feel comfortable has just evolved. We, unfortunately, haven't really."

The Floating Market

"Exactly so, Ally. Now, look sharp. We are -now- going in to a more dangerous area. Up ahead on the left, you see those barges that are lashed together?" He asks, pulling the truck in to a gravel parking lot. Maybe it wasn't always gravel, as small patches seem to be solid. Could just be bad asphalt. "We're going there. Thats the floating marking. Mind you, it's not floating." Indeed, it's not. The barges were long ago drug ashore and turned in to some sort of structures. "We're looking for a woman named Larissa." he looks over to Ally. "You're doing all the talking here, honey… I'm just your guide. You follow me?"

Ally looks towards the area indicated before her and her eyes widen slightly as she takes in the barges. In the clear at least for the moment, she lets the spell featuring the fake Land Cruiser drop. "Her name is Larissa. Can you tell me anything about her?" she asks. "I'm… this is my first time doing this you know. I've never wandered Chicago asking about a woman who disappeared almost a decade ago. So any tips wouldn't fall upon deaf ears."

Johny turns the engine off, looking at the rusting hulks… "Don't -chatter-. You chatter when you're nervous. Try not to fill the space with noise. Be respectful. Pay in cash as chipreaders are well, lacking. Be respectful. This woman is called an elder by the people I spoke to, so likely she's important."

Don't chatter. Don't do what you're nervous even though you're incredibly nervous. "Got it," Ally says quietly and she drops the other spell. She runs a hand through her hair, tugging it a little bit, focusing herself. It takes her fifteen seconds. "Okay." She opens her door and gets out. The pistol remains naked in her hand as she looks about cautiously for several moments before she starts for the structures housing their contact.

Johny steps out of the truck. He opens the back door, slinging a shotgun over one shoulder, over a brown leather duster-style coat, then sliding a mono-blade in to a sheath at his side. He covers his hair in a crimson red bandana, before covering that with a wide brimmed brown leather hat. Not quite a cowboy hat, more like a swamp hat from the south.

A cigar is sparked and put between his lips. "Dress that smokewagon, cher." Says he then, in a southern accent so deep it rumbles in the pit of the stomach. "Only pull it when someones going to die." Johny murmurs to her then. "You call me Boudroix, got it? Buh-drow".

Dress that smoke-wagon! Ally's looking around for a few seconds before she realizes that a smokewagon is a pistol. Blushing faintly she holsters it at her hip and gives it a few quick tugs to verify that it is secure. And it certainly is. "Gotcha, Boudroix. Am I me?" she asks as she takes a good look over Johny to appreciate the way he just seems to easily assimilate himself into whatever type of personality the situation calls for. One day, she will learn that.

"You're whoever you want to be, but if you're looking for Anya Cindel…" says he, his voice low and growly, taking on a new character as he speaks… "Then it may be good to be Aladriel Cindel, loyal daughter, looking for closure. Ain't sayin its the best idea… but this ain't exactly intelligence work. We're just looking for some answers." A pause as he clenches the cigar again… "And… you got anything for this woman? A gift? Elder-style?"

"Crap!" Ally spits out as she's left scrambling for a gift. She grrrs and starts doing a mental inventory of everything that she's carrying. "Wish you would've told me more before we came. I don't carry a whole assortment of non-tech things with survivors of a warzone in mind," she mutters. "Best I've got is some non-magical jewelry. Nothing…super fancy. Bracelet and anklet I could part with."

Boudroix smirks as he moves in step with her. "Well. Next time you'll think ahead." he says, no rancor in his voice. Sometimes, you just have to learn as you go." Gravel crunches under his boots as he walks, a slight jangle coming from the buckles and snaps of his outfit.

"She may want something weird. Maybe your shirt. Maybe a lock of your hair. Maybe a task. She may want nothing."

Shooting Sam a glare, Aladriel sighs inwardly and uses that to better get herself ready for what she's going to maybe encounter. And goddess only knows what thats going to be. But as far as she can tell, she's ready for anything. "We'll see soon enough," she murmurs. They're nearly at the barges, and with that said, Ally warily looks around for guards or some sort of security. It won't be electronic, she's figuring… something more mundane. Look out posts with guards perhaps.

There are guards, indeed. A pair of orkish gangertypes. They are standing near a barrel that glows with a low flame inside it, warding off the chill of the Chicago winter. They look over as the pair of out-of-towners approach. They don't challenge, as its only two people. "No violence inside. Trade what you bring. Usual rules. Don't make me bust ya heads." Says the larger of the pair.

Johny Boudroix just offers a nod as he steps to the side, letting Ally do the talking here…

Aladriel looks at the two gangers for a few moments, not checking them out, not sizing them up, just trying to get a read before she talks. Hmm. Try to out-tough them? No. Dazzle them with friendliness and charm? No. Just be herself. Ally smiles at them. Just a friendly smile full of her normal demeanor: two men who've done no harm to her, who she has no prejudice against, and who she hopes not to have to fight.


"Thanks for that," she tells the one who spoke. "Are there any special rules to know about, besides not fighting? I don't plan to, but I do want to make sure I don't offend by doing something I didn't know about." Not too chatty.

The first one eyes Ally then, looking her over like one sizes up new meat. Of the sweet, female kind. Boudriox shifts to the side, his duster falling open to reveal the small bandoleer of pistols… and the orks eyes return to Ally. "NAw.. naw… go on in."

Seemingly oblivious to what just transpired behind her, Ally gives a quick nod of her head and does just that: she heads right in. She's not expecting to get jumped the moment she walks inside but just to be on the safe side she's sure as can be that she's masked to her fullest and throws a level of shielding around herself and Johny. Simple safety precautions.

The smells inside the rusted hulk of the barge is an assaulting one. Charring meat, unwashed bodies, the crush and press of people escaping the cold, wood-smoke and coal-smoke mingle in the air. It's an indoor (ish) market, with vendors hawking their wares, only after hours. Most stalls are boarded up or guarded by half-awake counter persons. Sam moves behind Ally, one hand occasionally straying to touch her hip or her shoulder, guiding, subtly, her away from men he does not like, and women he does.

A seasoned staple of the hospital and often the E-R, Aladriel has come across her fair share of disgusting spells. But not so often a menu of terrible smells all jumbled together in concert with one another. So while she doesn't choke or gag the moment she walks inside, it does open her eyes wide and make her wish for a mask to put over her face. Tempted though she may be, Ally doesn't let herself stop to take in the scope of the quasi-indoors market. It is not beautiful, it's not dazzling, but it is a functional place of commerce and trade in a survivor area, a product of devastation, and in its own way, an amazing sight to behold and unlike any she's ever seen before.
Now Ally knows exactly why Sam said to keep an eye on her things. She does. As subtly as possible she keeps a hand near her sword so it couldn't be cleared from it's sheath without the hilt hitting her hand. Same for her pistol. Her arms stay into her sides in case someone would try to get into her jacket. Taking it all in without trying to seem like a damn tourist, it's hard as she gets guided through by Sam.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "Amazing in its way"

He moves along side her, occasionally shifting his position, arm sliding across her at various moments, though in a non-sexual way. Sam stops at a small vendor of rat-on-a-stick… He mumbles a few things in a mushmouthed, heavy nasal version of Cityspeak, the local dialect. A barter happens, 5 rounds of Ex Ex and a stimpatch from his pocket, for two rodents enfeugo. He offers one to Ally, smiling as he bits off one of the legs of his rata.

Pulled to a stop alongside the vendor, Aladriel's stomach casts improved invisibility on itself and disappears as the man negotiates for… rats on a stick. She watches the bartering with intense interest to distract from what is actually being barted for. And when presented with one of Sam's new acquistions, Ally smiles with her mouth as she shakes her head politely to decline. Her eyes threaten to lodge the rat with stick up the man's rectum if he moves it any closer to her.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "Do…we know where to find her, or should I be asking?"

"Eat it." he says simply, his eyes flickering to the others in the area. "Unless you want to make yourself a mark, when you are in rome, Ally, you do as the Romans." He then crunches through the head, masticating it thoroughly. "And you should be asking around."

The rolls that follow are for the next few poses.
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Stealth:
2 4 4 5
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Reaction:
1 2 2 2 3 3 5
«OOC» Aladriel snorts.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intelligence:
1 3 3 3 4 4 4 8
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
1 1 1 2 2 4 4 4 7 11
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1:
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Etiquette:
2 2 4 8

Ally tries not to look at the rat. Nope. She's not going to look at it, even though she takes it. She is going to cleverly come up with a way not to eat it, dedicating one quarter of her mental processing power to a reason not to. The other quarter is justifying that it will be okay to eat it, for it has been cooked thoroughly and is likely to be free of…many diseases. The other half is thinking who to ask for….
Catching movement out of the corner of her eye, Aladriel catches sight of a woman about to pass her. A half-step back so the woman bumps into her arm holding the rat and whoops! She drops it! Scowling and putting all of the indignity she has at it even be suggested that she eat the damn thing, Ally stoops to pick up the rat off the ground. In a quick moment she digs her gloved fingers into the rat and rips off a part of….she doesn't even want to think what it is. Something. She rips off said piece and palms it and quickly puts the rat to her mouth and mimes taking a bite out of it, using her free hand to sweep hair away from her face to further mask what she just didn't do.

Johny smirks stepping close to her… "That will do." he says, crunching through a leg now. "Get to finding this Larrisa…"

Relieved that one ordeal is passed, Ally keeps the rat stick in hand as she looks around a little bit. Where to start looking for this Larissa. Her eyes sweep the vendors in sight, the stalls in sight, looking for something that might say Larissa. No, that'd be too easy. Elder, though. With gained status must surely be some prestige and with time a slight acquistion of…something, even amongst those with so little. So she looks for an area of the market that doesn't look absolutely as worse for wear. She looks for a place well traveled and prominent…a good stall with high visibility and perhaps a place for some privacy if needed. Ally ends up at a stall with someone already awake so she won't have to startle them, and puts her rat on the stick down on the counter. "Looking for Larissa," she says simply, a brow arching.

The girl behind the counter, probably 12 if she's a day, but with the hardened look of women three times her age, looks to Ally. "Good for you." She says, narrowing her eyes. Rat on a stick. Clean. Not dirty. Big guy with guns behind her. "Whats it worth to you?"

Time to get the man back. Ally knows Sam. He's got a lot of ammo on him, most likely. Hell, thanks to Kass, she's packing a great deal too. Food is always good. Motioning to her partially 'eaten' rat, Ally asks the girl, "How many of these can you eat for dinner? Will get you those."

The girl eyes the rat-on-a-stick. Then Ally. Then the man behind her. "One. It's not like the womans hard to find. Gimme that one, go down to the stern, near the flooded sections…"

Ally doesn't let the triumph show in her eyes. Instead she just nods and lifts up her rat and puts it closer to the girl so she knows that it is now hers. "Thanks," she says curtly, thinking too much politeness and friendliness will be lost on her. From there the mage doesn't linger. Knowing that Sam will be at her back, Ally heads for the stern and the flooded sections.

«OOC» Johny says, "roll me intelligence."
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
2 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 8
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6:
2 2 3 3 5 7
«OOC» Johny says, "Backing up a bit to when you hand her the rat-onna-stick…"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Oh sure. Sorry =)"
«OOC» Johny says, "Is ally wearing her engagement ring?"
«OOC» Aladriel nodnods, either on a chain beneath the collar of her FFBA or beneath her Hardliner gloves. =D
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 10 for "Spotting el ringo":
3 3 3 3 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 10 for "Spotting el ringo KP cause that bitch is a rock and a half.":
1 2 2 3 4 = 0 Successes
«OOC» Aladriel wants to grab her wrist, yank her forward across the thingie with her trying-to-be-thieved hand and with her free hand draw her knife and hold it to her. Or such.
«OOC» Johny says, "Okay."
«OOC» Johny says, "That will be a surprise test."
«OOC» Johny says, "quickness vs 4, please."
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Quickness vs TN 4:
2 4 4 4 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 vs TN 4 for " Reaction":
3 4 5 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "You have the drop on her."
«OOC» Johny says, "Roll your unarmed combat skill, tn 4"
«OOC» Johny says, "You may use combat pool"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Tai Chi Ch'uan vs TN 4:
2 8 9 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls 3 vs TN 4 for "CP":
1 2 3 = 0 Successes
«Watchfor» Lilith (#8983) just disconnected from the game.
«OOC» Aladriel bwahs.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 vs TN 4 for "No CP for me.":
1 3 5 = 1 Success
«OOC» Johny says, "You have her wrist. Give me a strenght test, TN 5, to yank her forward."
«OOC» Johny says, "no CP"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Here comes the suck!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Strength vs TN 5:
2 3 5 = 1 Success
«OOC» Johny says, "KP?"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "No."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 2 vs TN 6 for "Off ballence":
2 3 = 0 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "You yank her foreward."
«OOC» Johny says, "You can pose the knife for free."

As ally hands the 'food' item over to the girl, there is a fairly adept attempt on the girls part to lift ally's Bracelet. The clasp is undone, and unless Ally, who spots the situation, acts to stop it, that nice little charm bracelet will be gone.

Speed and luck with a pinch of strength are the recipes for Aladriel's success. She notices the loosening of the bracelet around her wrist at the point where its almost gone. With a gasp she snatches the girl's wrist and yanks her forward across the counter of the stall. With her left hand she grabs the knife sheathed at her thigh and with a grim look slams the knife downward towards the counter, the dikoted blade's edge gleaming as it cuts through the air and stabs into the countertop dangerously close to the girl's head, and also pretty close to her arm.

"They said no violence. Thats why I didn't cut off your hand. Touch me again and I'll forget what they said." She growls, angry. Because she likes that bracelet.

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Charisma:
4 4 4 5 10
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 2 for "Will":
3 8

The girl, off balance, painfully so, with a knife in her neck and a grip on her wrist, can't do much more than mewl quietly, eyes wide, watching Ally.

Knowing a little something about how the body works, Ally twists the girl's wrist in a way that she just knows will be painful. "Don't be here when we come back." With that Ally grabs the knife out of the counter and yanks it free. Some of the girl's hair, cleanly cut, stays behind. Then, Ally lets go of her wrist and will smoothly spin away from the stall and go on her way.

This little event draws the attention of those around her in a very serious way. It takes only the barest blinks of an eye before the girl is back over the counter, sniffling and holding her wrist. That was unexpected. When ally turns to leave, Boudroux tips his hat to the younger girl, spinning in place to remind those who are looking now that he is clearly armed, without looking like he's nessessarilly flashing his pack… age.

Ally doesn't glare at people looking at her. She's focused, and thats enough. The only people who get a look are those right in front of her, because they are most definitely in her way. She sweeps her coat back a little bit to sheath the knife back on her thigh.

The back of the ship grows danker and danker, the humidity building, no longer kept at bay by the burning barrels or heaters in use. The sound of water lapping at walls starts to dominate and the light here fades… Sam follows behind, watching impassively, not caring as water invades his boots.

Ally's lip curls a little bit as the surroundings go from bad to worse. She doesn't deliberately step in the water, but when it has to happen it has to happen. She's pretty well taken care of with her armor so there's not much discomfort at this point. Now and then the mage will stop to have a look around, to listen, to make sure that there aren't grizzly ghouls creeping up on them. Figuring that Larissa won't just be splashing about in the water, her eyes are kept open for some sort of dwelling.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "How'd I handle that, back there?"

Commlink-«<Nacht»» Johny says, "Silk would be proud."

The Elder, Larissa

The dwelling is easy enough to spot. There's a set of rusted stairs that go up to another deck. Walking up them, you come in to a cold room who's walls are covered in moisture. A woman with a face like a finger too long in the sink sits, surrounded by small toys, socks, brass keys, marbles and other such trinkets. A fire burns in a barrel near her and she rocks in a chair… Ancient, if she's a day. She looks right to Ally as she enters, no real expression on her features. Old people are like that.

Larissa, elder of the Floating Market

Samuel's thinking has rubbed off on Aladriel. As she comes into the dwelling she looks at the woman in the rocking chair first but her eyes do not stop there. They start sweeping the room, looking for other things and other people. The man behind the curtain and the like. Also taking stock of the things that litter the dwelling. Hmm. Last, Ally's eyes return to the woman, whom she does not approach closely. "Good evening, ma'am. I'm looking for Larissa."

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence for "Just in case":
2 2 2 2 2 3 4 5 5 11
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Magic Background for "Does that look like warding remnants?":
1 1 5
«OOC» Johny says, "They don't look like much of anything you've ever seen, and you don't read or write arabic or latin, do you?"
«OOC» Aladriel has prolly seen both scripts (definitely Arabic), but doesn't write, nopes.
«OOC» Johny nods. Then you got nuttin.

The room, ally will notice, is laced in very very light script, a combination of arabic and latin, flowing together almost seamlessly. At the tops of the walls, at the joint with the floor… imperceptible to all but the most perceptive. "If Larissa.. is all you have lost, your trip is an odd one!" She cackles then, slapping her chairs armrest.

Johny slides in to the room, behind Ally. His hands are folded over each other in front of him, now holding his hat, removed in the presence of the older one. Thats getting rarer for him.

Ally grins at the woman and she shakes her head a little bit. "Oh no, I haven't lost Larissa," she explains, making sure she speaks in a clear voice that, while not loud, is definitely not as low as it could be considering the space and seclusion. In the absence of another seat, Ally mms and then goes just a few steps towards the woman and takes a knee so that she's not towering over the seated lady.

"My name is Ally and I was looking for Larissa. Might that be you? Because you are right, I have lost something and it is why I'm seeking her help."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 4 for "Mystery":
2 3 3 4
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 for "Oneirmancy":
1 1 2 2 3 4 5 10 11
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Acting:
1 1 3 4 15

The woman then peers at Ally from under her age-hooded eyes, a sparkle dancing in them. "People do not look for what they already know, so you had lost Larissa. It is no matter. I am Larissa… And you are the fire bird come seeking its feathers.. I have seen it…"

Well THAT catches Aladriel off guard. She doesn't even try hiding the surprise on her face. Ally spares a quick glance over her shoulder at Sam before she looks back to Larissa, scooting forward about a half inch, her excitement filling the room. "I… what did you see, Larissa?" she asks, wanting to know more.

Johny is doing his impression of 'David'. Which is to say, being made of stone and having no personal expression.

"Oh.. " Says she, waving a hand dismissively in that old woman way. "Be a dear and fetch me my tea." She gestures then to a small tin kettle and a set of wooden cups next to a wood-stove in the back of the room.

Ally bites her tongue so she doesn't go demanding more information. She forces herself to smile. To be patient. To not be overzealous. "Of course," she says warmly, easily rising up to head to the kettle. She knows something about serving tea thanks to all of the time she's spent in Lilith's company. "Ms. Larissa, you have some interesting things in your home. I saw a lot of toys. Were those found, or items that've been in your family for awhile?" she asks curiously.

Larissa watches the girl, then the man, then the girl… "Bah. Lost things found. Found things lost. It is the way of things." She says quietly. Her voice, a rasp, still manages to fill the room. "You are seeking… something… long lost. Your feathers. How did you loose them?"

Ally spends some of her time trying to relate her mother to her feathers as she pours tea for Larissa and takes the cup to her. She does not presume to be rude to pour tea for herself without invitation.

"Well… I've never called my mother my feathers before, but she's been lost to be for a very long time. She came here, not here specifically, but to this place, when I was young. To work to provide for me. And she never came back. Her name Anya Cindel. Do you know that name?" she asks the woman as she kneels again.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 for "Anya Cindel… mmmm…":
1 2 3 3 3 4 5 5 10
«OOC» Aladriel says, "She's got a good memory!"

The woman gestures to the other cup. "Drink." She says, considering the question as she takes the drink in to her hands. They tremble a bit, fitting the cup to her lips. A long, slow drink is taken before she sort of melts back in to her chair. "What have you brought larissa?"

Ally looks towards the other tea cup but doesn't get up immediately. She's buying some time to think. Standing up then to go to the kettle once more, she pours herself a cup and takes it back to her assigned kneeling place. Setting the cup down, first Ally removes the bracelet that the girl had tried to steal from her earlier. It's silver and rather pretty, and very hermetic in design. "I've worn this for years, I thought you might like it," Ally offers the woman, before she sets it down and swings aside her small backpack. She rummages inside the backpack for alittle bit. "I…hadn't thought of this until I saw some of the things you have here," she says.
Finding what she's looking for, Ally removes from her knapsack a small, stuffed frog, clearly a child's toy, with long, stringy legs and an equally long tongue. Very perfect for little hands to tug at and squeeze and the like. "This is Mr. Froggy. He's… well he's a very dear companion of someone close to me. I thought maybe you'd like him. He goes along well with some of your other things."

«OOC» Johny says, "Whos was Mr. Froggies?"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "one of Lil Maya's toys."
«OOC» Johny nods.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 for "Mystery!":
2 4 5 5 5 5

She reaches out, taking the toy in her hands, the tea set to the side. She folds, spindles and mutilates the toy in her boney, sinuous hands, twisting and turning it this way and that. She eyes the room then, turning her attention to Samuel. "What has he los… Oh." Says she, not even completing her statement. She looks back to Ally, examining her closely, before tch'ing softly. She puts the toy aside. "It is very good. Mr. Froggy will be happy here."

"You… need to seek the Queen of the White Tower, to find the answers you seek, girl… but… not all answers are what we want them to be."

A quick look between Larissa and Samuel, a pleased sort of look on Ally's face seeing that the old woman is enjoying one of Maya's collection of stuffeds. The Queen of the White Tower. "After having this unanswered for so long, Ms. Larissa, having an answer at long last is what I do want. Thank you. If I may…. can you tell me any more? Neither the Queen nor her White Tower are known to me."

She tch's again, waving a boney finger at the girl. "One gift, one question! One gift, one question!"

Ally acks and starts patting herself, looking for another gift. "I'm sure I can come up with something else, just give me a second, miss," she tells Larissa as she does another inventory and steals a glance at Sam as if to say 'hey! Help!'

Johny smirks, watching the girl caught off guard. He doesn't offer much help though, simply standing there, hat literally in hand, watching.

Larissa watches Ally, curious as to what she will produce.
From afar, Aladriel takes your hat
You paged Aladriel with 'Go for it.'.

Aladriel starts rummaging back in her bag then blinks, looks back to Sam and then reaches out to grab his hat. Not a quick snatch and grab, but a deliberate take. "I offer this for you as well, Miss Larissa. This hat has had but one owner but belonged to many men. It has seen many things in its time." Though the words sound strange, even funny on the surface, Ally is very serious in her delivery and demeanor. "Perhaps a part of history, though we may not know how, yet."

The woman eyes Ally hard now. Scanning her features now… "I will take this hat." Says she, taking the hat and fitting it over her head.. "It is very fetching on me." She says, a trace of vanity still left in her frail form. She looks to Sam then again, eying him long and hard. "What you seek… is as lost to you as a scarf on the winds. You will never hold it in your fingers, shadowman. To many faces. To many names."

He nods simply, turning and leaving the room, heavy boot falls clanging down the stairs and then splooshing in to the water below.

Aladriel's eyes blink rapidly as Larissa looks not to her but Sam. And answers a question that she did not ask. Rising up rapidly to her feet, Ally watches Sam leave and her brows furrow as she turns around quickly to Larissa. "Miss Larissa that wasn't my question! I need to know about the Queen and the White Tower!"

Larissa grins crookedly to ally. "Not your question says she! Not her hat, says I!"

Ally can't be mad because, well, the old woman's got her. "That's really true. While I look here…um, could you tell me what question you answered for the man I was with? That's not my question! My question's about the Queen of the White Tower. But I was just wondering." Ally's currently rummaging deeply through her knapsack.

She looks to Ally… "Did you hear him ask a question?" She asks, her voice rasping as she picks up her tea, still steaming.

Ally pauses to think about that, mid-rummage. "No… I guess he didn't," she murmurs, looking to Larissa for a moment. "You just said what he seeks is lost to him. Maybe I can ask him what he's seeking," Ally goes on as her hands come across something in her knapsack.

She sips her tea then, peering over the rim. "Do you really wish to know something he himself does not? Does that seem fair? You take a mans hat, then take his secrets too, mmmm?"

"I don't want them for my own gain," Ally mentions as she straightens up from where she'd stooped to dig in her knapsack. She studies the old woman for a moment. "Sometimes you can't learn things about yourself on your own. Some things you just can't figure out yourself. I only took his hat because I knew he'd let me. His secrets… mmm, no, I don't know if he'd want me to have those. So I'll go back to my question."

She cackles then, a sound that fills the room, resounding off the metal walls over and over and over. "Good intentions! The road to hell, you know." She says after regaining her composure as she settles her very fine hat on her head again. "And. Anyway." She looks to Ally very seriously.. "It would be an abuse to reveal his secrets. Magic's got a way and means. A set of rules all its own. What is your question, and what gift do you have for Larissa?"

Ally frowns in the face of the old woman's cackling. She didn't think she'd told a funny. But it's no matter. She lets the woman have her laugh and she stays pretty composed. "My question is about the Queen in the White Tower. She is not known to me so I know nothing about her. I wish to know of her: her history, her character and where to find her and her tower. What I offer is this,"
Ally's rummaging had revealed she had quite the old knapsack, haphazardly gathered from her basement since she had not completely unpacked all of her things. She pulls out a small, leather collar with various rivets every few inches. The rivets themselves are small bits of gemstones, such as topaz, diamond and ruby. Small celtic knot designs weave their way between the rivets. Pressed into it is the mage's name.
"This was mine, a long time ago. A product of a time, but very important for when it was. I can assure you there's no other like it."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9:
1 2 3 4 4 5 9 10 14
«OOC» Johny says, "Give me a memory, a powerful memory, while wearing the collar."
«OOC» Aladriel says, "A very sad self-destructive Ally just trying to lose sense of self-ownership to get out of her pain."

The woman takes the collar, turning it over in her hands, running fingers over the Gemstones, the way they flow together. She touches each one individually, then slides her fingertip over the name, like writing it in Cursive. "Larissa accepts this gift." She clutches the collar then, pressing it to her lips, kissing it once…

She looks to Ally after a long moment. "You were a very sad little girl." She murmurs, setting the item to the side. "The Queen of the White Tower… Mistress of the Shattergraves… the Shining One. She…." She chuckles quietly, thinking something funny… "Rules the old down town core as the lady of the land… all who live there pay her respect and fear… and she holds within her so many secrets… you may find her holding Audience sometimes… at the Water Tower."

Ally looks sad at the woman's realization of that. As she listens, it occurs to her how the old woman must be doing some of the things she's doing. And at the moment she's kindof glad that she hasn't tried to be able to do the same thing. "I was," she agrees in a low voice. Then quiet. Quiet as she listens.

"Mistress of the Shattergraves," Ally repeats and she pales slightly. The way the woman is named sends chills straight up her spine as she connects it, at least linguistically, to something else that she'd encountered. "The Water Tower. I thank you, Larissa, for this information. I know where to go to try and find my answers."

Mr. Froggy. A mighty fine hat. And a new collar for Mr. Prickles. Larissa turns to her tea, picking it up. "Look Mr. Prickles… we got you a new shiny collar!" There do not appear to be any cats about. "Oh yes, it will look so darling! Absolutely. What? Oh, shush. Don't say such things. She's a nice girl."

Oh dear. Ally smiles politely at the woman and rises carefully to her feet. "Thank you again, Larissa. Be well." She almost says goodbye to Mr. Prickles but…thinks better of it. With another look at the woman she turns and quietly leaves her dwelling, going down the stairs to see if she can find where Sam went to.

Sam is down stairs, just beyond the water, smoking a cigar. He has a new hat already, a rather un-fine sort of bowler that looks incongruous on his frame, but not all together unattractive. "Get what you needed, Kiddo?" Asks the man, turning his attention to her.

Damn. Just a look at Sam downstairs, seeing his demeanor and hearing his voice makes Aladriel decide to save her questions for later. She gets the sense that the walls are firmly and she'd best not try to breach them at this point. Nodding her head slightly as she approaches him, she casts a wary glance around before she speaks in a low voice.
"I got a location. I've also got a name…and I really, really don't like it. The Water Tower is our destination. We're looking for the Queen of the White Tower. The shining one. 'Mistress of the Shattergraves'."

Johny thinks that over… "I don't know her." Says Sam as he blows out a thick billow of smoke. "But the Water Towers on the north side. That area took a lot of damage. We may have to walk in… depends on how clean it is."

"That name doesn't remind of you anything?" Ally prods a bit, truly seeming a tiny bit spooked. "Mistress of the Shattergraves?" Walking in to the tower is met with a little shrug from her. "Larissa said she 'rules the old down town core as lady of the land' and everyone who lives there fear and respect her. The water tower is where she holds audiences. So…frag, this could be anything from a crazy woman to a powerful mage, to a malevolent spirit to a h…" she stops herself short.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Johny holds up one finger, sort of silencing her as they walk. "That word doesn't -ever- get spoken, kiddo. For one, its not impossible, but it IS astronomically improbable." Says he, one shoulder thudding in to a man who doesn't get out of his way.

"Hey, breeder!" Says the Ork, turning back to Sam.

Sam looks back to him, an eyebrow raising underneath his bowler. "Oui, Mon Amie?"

"Sorry, caught myself," Ally grumbles at being chastised. Stowing her voice further, Ally's senses shift into a heightened level of alertness as Sam bumps into someone. The actual contact isn't even noticed by her. What gets her attention is the sound of the ork's voice, cutting its way through when for a little while it'd been just her voice and Sam's own. Hands relaxing to be able to grab some sort of weapon, she goes first to her magic. Using the strength and skill of her magic to synchronize with the tainted matrix of mana in the area around her to attune herself to better be able to access 'clean' mana.

The Ork eyes Samuel for a long moment, then glances to Ally… "Watch it!" Says the ork, the moving off in to the crowd.

"We need to go. Now. We're drawing attention." he murmurs to Ally. "That was probably him feeling me out. We wait any longer, they will have friends here pretty quick."

"Lead the way and double-time it," Ally says with a short, clipped voice. It was something she wouldn't have picked up on on her own, but she believes Sam fully and if he says its time for a hasty exit, she's ready for it. The rest of what she says, she subvocalizes into her transceiver. "Say the word and I can disappear, and either disappear you or make you look like one of the locals."

«OOC» Johny says, "Gimmie an intellignece check."
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 5 5
«OOC» Aladriel oy.
«OOC» Johny says, "Back. was making some last minute plans."
«OOC» Johny says, "Do you want to karma that?"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Nope. Will save that to spare the ouchies m'thinks."
«OOC» Johny says, "Okay."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intelligence:
3 3 5 5 7 7 9 28
«OOC» Johny says, "Well."
«OOC» Aladriel says, "LOL"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Stealth:
1 1 1 4 5 11

Johny continues walking trough the crowd. "When I tell you to, make yourself invisible." he murmurs, looking back over his shoulder at her, a slight grin coming to his features. "Then you get to the truck. You scan me? Get -to the truck-."

Ally had already been getting tense and that just seals it. The first trickle of adrenaline starts within her and its only some old experience that keeps her from looking around to try to see what Sam sees. "I don't have to run, I can help you if there's going to be a fight." But…she's psyching up to go invisible. Her fingers start moving a little bit, ready to work a bit of kuji kiri to help focus.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Reaction vs TN 4 for "Surprise, bitches!":
2 2 3 4 5 5 5 7 8 9 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 4 for "Dude one":
2 2 3 3
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 4 vs TN 4 for "Dude one":
2 4 5 9 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 4 for "Dude two":
1 3 4 5 8 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 vs TN 4 for "Dude Three":
1 2 4 4 9 10 = 4 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Sam gets the drop on them."
«OOC» Johny says, "Okay. Samuel has spotted all three of the gang memebrs who are hoping to get the drop on Little Miss Ally and her big boyfriend. They are standing off to the side, watching. Samuel has slipped through the crowd, losing them momentarilly and using Ally as the bait to keep their attention focused."
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Neat!"
«OOC» Johny says, "He has slid in behind them and is about to attack them. I will now be rolling a Multi-strike at TN 7 for edged weapons, for three targets."
«OOC» Johny says, "It's a single roll, against that set TN."
«OOC» Johny says, "Sam's bladed strike will be str+3M, or 5(Strength)+6(Strengh mod)+1(Cyberlimb mod)+3(Weapon mod), or 15M. Lowering the power by -1 per target is 12M damage."
«OOC» Johny says, "DOes this make sense to you?"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "It does =D"
«OOC» Johny nods.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Edged Weapons + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 7 for "Hiiiiyah!":
1 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 4 9 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Edged Weapons + Combat Pool: 5 - 1 vs TN 7 for "Hiiiiyah! KP 1/42":
1 1 4 4 4 5 5 7 10 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Edged Weapons + Combat Pool: 5 - 3 vs TN 7 for "Hiiiiyah! KP 3/42":
3 3 3 4 4 5 13 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 vs TN 9 for "Impact three, dude one":
1 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 4 vs TN 8 for "Impact four dude two":
1 2 3 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 8 for "Impact four dude three":
1 2 2 8 9 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "D, D, S."
«OOC» Johny says, "I will pose now."
«OOC» Johny wanted to get the mathematics out of the way.

Leaving Ally there in the safety of the center of the marketplace, Johny Wulfson goes on the prowl. He slides back in to the crowd, his mighty fine bowler hat seeming a little out of place on the predator that emerges. Please god, don't let Ally actually see this. He circles around the room, keeping a practiced eye on where Ally is in relation to the three men near the far barrel, near the main door.

Over the comm, he murmurs: Any Moment Now…

He continues to edge around the room, keeping his side profile to them, somtimes having his hat on, sometimes off, keeping his silhouette constantly changing, even if slightly. The brain picks up on patterns instinctively. He pads across the floor now, sliding in to the shadows behind the three, the two orks and the human.

"Pardon me boys? Got a light?" he asks, his tone startling and surprising the men.

Commlink: Now. Go.

And then he's a blur of motion, two ares monoswords drawn from under his coat in a smooth swirl. If Ally does look, it's pretty damn cinematic, the way he spins, coat splaying outward, blades unfolding like petals of a flower. Tips clear of the scabbards, one blades slices down, across one man, bisecting his chest and sending a rent of blood in to the air, the second blade skittering across the humans face, blinding him in a stroke. The first sword reverses in his grip now, tossed in the air for a breif moment as he reverses his spin, the blade driving deep in to the chest of the other man, monowire slicing ribs as easily as heart.

«OOC» Johny says, "Init!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Initiative with a result of 16.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Initiative with a result of 23.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 2 for "+9, -3 for S wound for the one guy still alive":
3 3
«OOC» Johny says, "12."
«OOC» Johny says, "Sam holds action"
«OOC» Johny says, "Ally"
«OOC» Aladriel will be Invis-ing herself. TN 4 + 1(BG) = TN 5.
«OOC» Johny nods.
«OOC» Aladriel ohs, did pose her Centering, so will do that. Centering against Penalties. TN: 5 - grade (6) = 2.
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Centering vs TN 2:
1 4 8 22 = 3 Successes
«OOC» Aladriel says, "back to TN 4."
«OOC» Johny n… You center the FUCK out of it.
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 5 vs TN 4 for "Casting F5 Improved Invisibility that'll get foci-locked":
1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 11 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower + Sorcery Pool: 1 vs TN 3 for "M Drain Resistance":
1 2 2 3 4 5 7 8 8 10 10 10 17 = 10 Successes
«OOC» Aladriel coughs.
«OOC» Johny says, "You get mana back. The AStral Realm writes you a check."

Ally wasn't sure what was happening. She was playing a part in Sam's maneuverings, that much she knew. And intuition told her that looking around behind her might just foil his plan so she didn't. She took good direction and the moment he tells her to go, she GOES. Goes with the spell, that is. Her left hand forming a sign of strength, drawing into her chest, Ally brings herself into tight focus, determined to work good magic even amongst adverse situations. And just like that she quite literally disappears into the marketplace.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1:
«OOC» Johny says, "We have 5 seconds until people notice what the hell just happened in the dark corner. Thats this combat turn, and half of the next."
«OOC» Johny says, "Upon seeing Ally dissapear, Sam will finish off the other guy"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Edged Weapons + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 4 for "Dude's got issues.":
1 2 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Edged Weapons + Combat Pool: 5 - 3 vs TN 4 for "Dude's got issues. KP 4/42":
2 3 4 4 5 5 8 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 7 for "My spleen! (Dodge)":
1 1 1 3 11 = 1 Success
«OOC» Johny says, "Hit wiht 7 net successes, thats 3 stages, 16D damage."
«OOC» Aladriel says, "=== ouch"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 12 for "4 Impact":
1 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 14 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 + Combat Pool: 5 - 1 vs TN 12 for "4 Impact KP 1/3":
1 1 1 1 2 2 4 5 7 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 + Combat Pool: 5 - 1 vs TN 12 for "4 Impact KP 3/3":
1 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 11 = 0 Successes

She's away. She's safe. He starts counting the beats of his own heart, using them to gauge her location given her weight, her speed, her athletic ability and her generally impulsive nature. The human, the one who survived, starts to raise the hue and cry, and Sam knows thats not going to go well for him. It's hard to explain 'well, they were GOING to attack my girl. Oh, how do I know? You know. Spy stuff' to the natives when these dead men are probably locals and your not.

He never quite stops moving, yanking the blade, blood covered, from the second mans chest to bring it back around in a straight across curve, striking and cleaving the last man standings head from his shoulders.

The humans body tumbles to the ground, still not quite sure its dead yet and Sam is moving over it, walking, not quite running, for the door, A brisk pace. He casually, almost too casually, wipes off the blades of his sword on a towel he swipes in passing from a stall, sheathing one, then the other. Looking calm. Looking collected. Looking for the door.

"Hey… what the fuck?"

Comes a call from behind him, from a shop owner that just had a head sort of roll in to their shop.

Safely invisible, at least for the time being, Ally hasn't yet heard screams and cries from behind her, so that's got to be a bit of a positive sign. So she breaks into a jog and then a full out run, dodging people nimbly, increasing speed wherever she can and slowing down to be able to dodge rather than plow through anyone.

Johny leaves nothing in his wake, the bloody towel dropped in a fire barrel en passant, no glance back given. A scream goes up as the head is recognized by the shop owner. It's blood curtling and terrified, but also, it's a GREAT distraction. Without looking back, without looking for ally and simply tamping his hat back in to a secure position, Johny moves closer to the door. It's a nice night out.

It wasn't a long run by any stretch of the imagination, but it was made to feel that way because of her heart pounding and the mystery of what was going on behind her. Aladriel looked as she ran, making sure to look for any signs of pursuit, of someone to penetrate her spell and find her. But that didn't happen, and with a few more steps she's back out in the cold. Good! Now the trouble. Sam thought there'd be trouble. She has not encountered trouble yet. And the man has this annoying quality of rarely being wrong. So now that she's out in the cold, Ally is expecting trouble and stops her running, moving back to a quick walk towards where the car was parked.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Stealth (Sneaking) for "Getting the fuck out of the area…":
1 1 2 3 3 4 4 19
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Stealth:
1 1 5 7
«OOC» Johny says, "True."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 19:
1 4 5 5 11 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 19:
3 5 5 5 10 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 19:
2 3 3 7 9 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 19:
1 2 3 4 7 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 19:
3 4 4 5 8 = 0 Successes

The Cold Night Air

Johny slides out of the door, pausing just inside long enough for the external guards to run inside to investigate. Top notch marines, these guys are not. He tips his bowler now, running one hand along the outside edge as he moves for the truck parked a 10th of a mile or so away, so its really only about 500 feet. He pulls his cigar out of his jacket, moving at a brisk pace as more shouting comes from inside. He glances to the sky, seeing a crisp, clean moon for this Lake Michigan winter night.

It's a good night.

Alternately walking and trotting at a quick clip to make sure that no one is closing in on them, Ally's head start averaged with her not running full out, allows her to get to the truck just a little bit before Sam. She doesn't just get in, though, she's remaining on vigilent guard for pursuit or ambush.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "Are we clear?"

Johny slides in to the truck now, the key in his hand slotting in to the ignition. He starts the truck, waiting only a moment for ally go get in. "Tell you when I figure out if we are bleeding suddenly or not." He says, keeping himself low , barely looking over the dashboard, one hadn reaching over to shove ally down, almost in to his crotch. Only not quite that sexual. Cause, well, It's Ally. She's a dyke and she's dating the woman he's in love with. It would just be awkward.

Johny mentally dashes off a quick email to Kassandra. It shows a picture of Sam and Ally with Chicago's ancient, 2010 era skyline in the background. Sam's giving a thumbs up and one of those plastic grins. "Wish you were here!"

Climbing into the truck, Ally makes a startled sound as she gets grabbed and forced down. "Well, this is less than comfortable," she mumbles under her breath as she tries to adjust so she's not nearly as uncomfortable as she was. She subvocalizes the rest: "We've got to work on this, better communication. I've got some good ideas….in theory."

Guiding the truck back on to the road, Sam starts for the outskirts of town… "We should hit a hotel for the night. Get some rest. Our combat effectiveness is about to be eroded by exhaustion." He says, pulling her back up to a full sitting position once they are about a quarter mile away. He flips the lights on then, looking over at her. "And we communicated just fine. You did what I said, and were not hurt. This was -good-."

Breathing a bit easier when she's straightened up, Ally becomes visible again with a thought. Now that they haven't been shot, she looks pretty exhilarated all things considered. "Well…it worked out I guess. Next time if it doesn't work out so well, I'll tell you about hiding us in plain sight. But…..phew. Will we have any matrix access from where we're headed? Maybe we can find something about this Queen of the White Tower, this Mistress of Shattergraves."

Johny shrugs as he drives, eyeballing the rear view, the side mirrors and everything else. "DO an astral recon, I want to know if spirits are following us, please." He says, guiding the truck around an obstruction in the road, eyes alert. "I don't know that you'd find much of anything on the matrix, but we can give it a shot. Most hotels will have free complimentary matrix access, if you have your own portable."

Ally mutters darkly under her breath. "All right. Gimme a minute. Its not going to be super fast. The background count here is dreadful and it makes everything harder. Lemme know which direction we're headed in…I don't want to die cause I couldn't find my body."

Johny chuckles quietly. "You can't just summon up a spirit or something? What kind of use are you, super-mage-in-a-can, sheesh!" He says, a grin on his lips, joviality in his tone to diffuse any of the concern thats in his voice. He has no idea who those men were connected too…

Rolling her eyes at Sam, Ally doesn't go into the lecture. Maybe once they're in the hotel. Taking a deep breath, she plunges herself into the astral, her body going limp. New to her astral form is the fact that she's her katana on her hip, just like she does in her real body. She'll spend several minutes flittering about the truck searching for astral pursuit.

«OOC» Johny says, "Give me some astral perception checks"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence for "Astral Perception":
1 3 4 4 4 4 4 8 10 10
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence for "Even more astral perception!":
1 2 2 3 4 4 4 5 8 8
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence for "One more test to move from 'a couple' to some!":
1 1 1 1 1 2 3 3 4 9

It appears that the trail is as clear of… HOLY SHIT LOOK OUT! FAB CLOUD! It appears to have a spirit caught in its grasp, a nature spirit of man, and it appears to be consuming it like a plague of locusts, or maybe ants, stripping away its substance layer by painful layer.

Aladriel shudders deeply, deeply, DEEPLY in her astral form. There's some things that really frighten any magical being and FAB is one of them. Aladriel doesn't linger. Hell no. She hightails it out of there as fast as she can and eeks back to her body. She'll awaken…pale. Very pale. "That…was scary," she shudders.

Johny glances over to her, pulling in to a notell-motel in River Forest, beyond the old wall… "Of course… It's Chicago. This is… a bad place to be, astrally. You're okay, right?" he asks, looking over at her one hand coming up to brush a bit of hair from her features. "WE'll be getting one room. I'll sleep on the floor."

"Think so. FAB cloud. Thats the boogeyman to us," Ally says quietly, and she really does seem spooked. "I'm okay, though. Just going to do my best *not* to go out there again. I'll put an elemental on guard duty for the evening, just to be safe." Taking a deep breath, Ally lets it out slowly, counting up to 10 to help calm herself. "Thank's for asking," she adds lastly.

Johny steps out of the truck, lighting a cigarette. "No problem honey… I drug you out here. I got a responsibility to see you're safe, secure and sexually satisfied. That last one, I'll have to delay until we can get you home to Kassandra. I don't think I have the right plumbing."

Ally laughs and its a genuine sound. She's not that hard, really. Even when she's down or shaken, get Ally to laugh and it goes a long way to shooing off her sour feelings. "Sixty-six percent isn't bad, though," she tells him with a little wink. Making sure she hasn't left anything in the truck, she stretches outside and lets her body know that soon it'll be given its rest. Her mind is not quite so lucky.

The Sun Also Rises

The sun comes up the next morning, but it's a weak, sickly sort of sunlight. A wan, pale orange glow from the east that comes in across the ruined carcass of a dead city, fingers of broken skyline jutting in to it like teeth in the mouth of an upturned and jawless skull. Air traffic is horribly lower than one would expect for a city of its size, with most flights diverted to the north, Ohare running at minimum capacity, servicing mostly corporate flights for Truman Technologies and Ares.

The wind comes in off the lake as it often does, the water releasing heat slowly. It brings with it the fetid stench of a city unclean, of a wound festering under its skin, a deep boil that needs lancing. Sam's seated on the hood of the truck, looking to the east, where the Shattergraves rise haphazardly in to the sky, some buildings knocked over and leaning on others. He's got a cup of coffee in his hands and another steaming cup of tea next to him, as well as a small selection of donuts.

The Shatter Graves

It was pretty much like Aladriel stun bolted herself into sleep for the night. She didn't stir once, even though she slept with plenty of weaponry at hand. Like clockwork, she awakens as the sun starts to make a visible impression in the room, groaning from waking up in a bed that isn't one of her own.
Rolling out of bed immediately and unceremoniously, she'll spend the next twenty minutes going through a morning routine of stretching and light work: limbering up her legs, arms and back, before doing a few quick sets of crunches and pushups to prime her muscles for the day ahead. A shower is staved off completely, she just redresses in her armor and heads outside after making sure that nothing was left behind. And after she cleansed the astral signatures from the room.
From not having really cleaned herself up…she looks about 2% less like she's a clean, healthy woman who hasn't spend the last years surviving in Chicago. An old man with his vision mostly gone might be able to not see that she's an outsider. "Morning," she greets Sam as she goes to the truck, grabs the tea and starts sipping.

Johny looks to the shattered remains of the skyline. "YOu know." He says simply. "The skyscraper, the very embodiment of the modern era, towers of neo-Babel, were invented here in Chicago. It seems… oddly fitting that they should die here, a testiment to the hubris of man and his myopia." He ruminates on that, chewing off a hunk of bagel with cream cheese, offering a small bag of the same such things over to Ally. "Eat. Dunno when you'll be able to again."

Ally takes the bagel fixins and starts to work on preparing her breakfast. It doesn't take her long. "I've got a spell. Two, actually. Would let us go about two days without need, physical or mental, for food or water. Just, y'know, in case," she offers as she starts munching on her bagel, shivering suddenly as she looks around.

Johny gestures to the truck. "I got you a jacket while I was out. Put it on. Get rid of the one you're wearing. It's too new." He says chewing in to the food. "And the spells nice, but that kind of stuff stands out, no? Gotta sustain it and shit. And this ain't the place to be doing magic if'n ya ain' gotta."

Ally oohs with a mouth full of bagel at a new jacket. She heads over to the truck and starts talking rather conversationally. Which is quite the trick with a mouth full of bagel. "Jeez I thought you'd know more about magic. Come on now. Why would it only last two days if I was sustaining it, mm?" She swallows the mouthful as she pulls out the new jacket, takes a look at it, shrugs, and does the swap. "Got to get you thinking more about how it all works."

Johny glances to Ally. "Hey, you know, for a man who can't cast a spell, I know -more- than my fair share about theory and the meta-levels of magic. So I don't know how to change the firing pin on a Vindicator Assault Cannon. Sue me, kiddo." Says he as he looks at the brown felt duster with the hidden thermal lining. "That will do you better. Covers more, keeps the wind off you."

Ally opens her mouth to say something and very quickly thinks better of it. Gears switch abruptly and she grins as she looks at the new hat. "I think the new one suits you better, anyways. Plus you could put like monowire int he brim or like like…titanium, and throw it at people. Think I saw that in a classic movie or something," she chuckles.

Taking a last look at the place that they spent the night, she laughs a little bit for whatever reason and then starts towards the passenger side of the vehicle. "Suppose we should get going, huh? Who knows how long this will all take, but I like it better when its bright outside."

Ally's Research on the Shatter Graves
The shattergraves were formed on February 10, 2039, when the Almos 20,000 terrorist group with an anti-metahuman agenda attacked the IBM owned Sears Tower. IBM was pro-metahuman in its business policies. A combination of magic and explosives destabilized the tower, sending it crashing down across several city blocks of Chicago. A fire broke out that, despite containment in only two hours, scorched much of downtown. The core was north shore core was abandoned, almost entirely. The area is reportedly haunted by spectral and ghoul related activity and is considered to be the worst act of Terrorism in North America since the WTC attacks of 2001.

There is little to no data on the Queen of the White Tower. The White Tower is known to be one of the only landmarks of the north shore that remains. THe GM has noted that the Sears Tower is actually in the South Shore, but since the containment zone went up, the Shattergraves now colloquially refers to the old downtown core as a whole, as several buildings were toppled by the sizmic waves from the underground nuclear blast. Yeah. Thats the ticket.

Johny nods to the girl, hopping down off the truck. "We'll head on in. I don't want to get caught there after dark." A pause as he hands ally a clip for her gun, painted Gold. "If we run in to spirits, shoot first, ask questions when they are disencorporialated."

"So," Ally murmurs as she settles into the truck and seems a little….mmm, contemplative for a time. She's interrupted in her thoughts as Sam hands her a clip and she takes it without question. She takes the Savalette Guardian that's holstered on her right hip and ejects the clip from it, replacing it with the gold one. The preexisting clip disappears into her jacket.
"Don't suppose you've got like….um, another plane? So we could like just parachute into the tower rather than…drive up to it?"

Johny quirks a brow. His voice now is the voice of the comical jew… "What, am I made of money to you?" He asks, turning the car on. "No. I don't have another plane and I'm -not-flying in there. We walk in. We ask for an audience or something like that. If you have a better plan that doesn't piss people off, I'm open to hearing it."

"Well," Ally starts…thinks, then shakes her head. "Not really got a better plan, no. I'm just thinking that once we get to the place where we can ask for an audience….we'll be okay until we mess something up. I'm more worried about us actually *getting* there. But then I don't really think we've got a choice, since you don't have a plane or a blimp on standby. So….in we drive."

Johny just sort of -stares- at Ally. "You are becoming far to dependent upon my usually rather good logistical ability. I need to make you start walking places." He says with a grin.

Ally grins when she notices the stare, giving a small shrug of her shoulders. "What can I say? Not too dependent! Just hopeful. But whatever. We're going to do this. When we get there I may put some elementals on call for backup. Just to be…ah, safe."

Johny nods to the woman. "Never a bad plan to have backup on call. I try to stack the deck myself. Speaking of which, I'm going to give you a pile of cash and ask you for a bunch of elementals I can have."

Ally frowns a tiny little bit at hearing that and she seems a bit…well, its hard to say. Perhaps a bit pained at hearing that. "Well….there's kind of a problem with that. As best as I've ever been able to tell, I can only have five of them. I used to experiment. I'd name all of them… and I'd have five. And then summon another one… and one of the originals would be gone. So I can only have five *ever*. Even if I were to like 'give' them away, like the one I gave to Kass. Cause of that, I can only have four of my own."

Johny ohs quietly… "I see." Says he then, offering a nod. "NOt quite how I had invisioned it, but I suppose it balances with the the idea that a shaman's will simply disappear at sundown or if he leaves their domain…"

"Afraid so," Ally sighs. "I could probably get you one, though. It's not like I can easily juggle three at the exact same time," Ally points out.

Left A Good Job In The City

Johny shakes his head. "Naw. it's cool. Lets get on the road." he says, drinking down the last of his coffee before getting in to the truck himself. He tosses the cup in to a nearby ditch, not paying much attention to the 'NO LITTERING' sign posted prominantly. "So. Here we go."

Here we go. Aladriel starts to calm herself as best she can, trying to clear her head and focus on the agenda before them, and to prepare herself for the worst possible things that they may encounter. It'll help, she's sure. "I'm thinking on the way we're going to be pretty free on what we do. Once we get closer, careful about who and what we shoot. She made it seem like this Queen has a following. That's all we'll need is to shoot one of her followers and have them all turn on us."

Johny grunts thoughtfully as he puts the car in gear and turns out on to the road. The gas gauge is back to full, the tires are probably topped off and so are all the cars major systems. No telling when something can go wrong if you don't take care of your car. "Well, sweetheart." He says, looking over to her. "This is your shebang. The Elder talked to you, not to me. The Queen seems to have info you need, not me. I'm along riding shotgun while -you- trapse around."

Ally chuckles a little bit at that. "I guess. But you're going to be there with me, so figured we should be on the same page," she mentions. Sitting back in the seat, she closes her eyes for a moment, taking a great big breath and letting it out as slowly as she can. "I'm not the best with maps. How long do you think it'll take us together, assuming we don't get set upon by…whatever?"

"Yeah. I'm thinking were' gonna take a boat in." Says he as he moves down to where the river front meets the road. "Chicago river has undercut a bunch of roads, making the shattergraves nearly like Venice these days, with almost navigable waterways between some of the major stretches of real estate."

The water. Ally frowns a little bit at that but whatever it may be that worries her about this route, she does not verbalize. "Is the water drinkable? I'm sure its not…but," she shrugs a little bit. "Amazing in its way, what we can survive, mm?"

"Drinkable, yes. Healthy for you and prone to leading to cholera, dysentery and diphtheria? Yes. Unless you feel like shitting yourself to deaht, I'd stick to bottled water or purified water. It's just safer. Alternately, you could go my route." he says, reaching in the back of the trruck as you drive, and pulling out a beer. "Beer's wonderful."

As the possible illnesses get ticked off, Ally just chuckles softly to herself. She's given pause by the beer being brought out and she shakes her head. "*Anyone* else other than you and I might be worried. You…you I'll just smile at," she tells the man. Looking out the window, Ally just watches for a time, before murmuring, "It's weird being in a place where I feel like I can't perceive. I know I can…but its simply not pleasant."

Johny continues to drive, heading for the downtown core. The background count here is spiking the further east you drive, starting at localized bits of 1-2, but becoming a steady 2.. then spikes of 3, moving all the way up until you are 3 miles from the old down town core, where the background count hovers at a 4, spiking to five. The Shattergraves radiate waves of entropic decay and despair. Like all the worlds misery and hurt were bottled in to one place, and given an exit. The puss of the world bubbling up from its wounded heart.

"It's not pleasant for me, either, Ally." he says quietly."

Even with the unpleasantness that she knows is right there, just one half-step to the side of this plane of reality, it is an effort for Aladriel to not take that step over there. Like a child curious about fire to see if it'll burn, Ally must keep fighting the urge to just peek over and see again, to make sure that it's still there.
"Being in a place like this, its so easy to see how some of us can be corrupted. It's… if this is all you knew, day after day, I couldn't imagine it."

Johny pulls the truck to a stop near a line of small boats used for ferrying up and down the river. "It's insidious, isn't it? It's like a snowball. Once it starts rolling, its almost impossible to stop. Bad things happen, people loose hope and a place's soul suffers, the more it suffers the more bad things happen, the more people lose hope until someone SNAPS." he puncuates that with punching the dashboard… "They do something truly inhuman in their pain, in their fear and hate… and THIS is the result." he points to the Shattergraves. "All because IBM refused to treat Metahumans as inferiors."

Johny gestures then… "Ally, in every way possible, this city is the living, breathing result of the Dark Side. OF that primal, ugly fear, that nugget of viciousness that we wrap our layers of civilization around and call humanity."

"And we get to go through denizens of this place," Ally murmurs, "To look for one who became….goddess only knows, a deity, or a ruler, maybe even a goddess herself, and ask her for something." Ally shudders a little bit as she looks over the boats that are waiting for them and sighs. "We get all of the fun."

Johny steps out of the truck then, grabbing his backpack. "SOmething like that, kiddo. DOn't leave anything in the truck you don't want to loose." he states simply, moving down the rocky embankment to the southfork of the Chicago River's bank.

Sliding out of the door she opens on the truck, Ally is meticulous in making sure she has not left a single item behind. She gathers up all of her belongings and then sets about securing her sword on her waist, double-checking that it is secure. And then, to go a step further, she makes sure she can draw it in one smooth motion. Nodding, she sheaths it and joins Sam round the other side of the truck and then starting down the embankment. "Got everything," she murmurs as she follows, careful of her steps, moving smoothly, sure-footedly.

Johny nods to Ally as she comes back to where he is. "Ai'ght. From here on, Safety's off. The half second it takes you to switch to a hot mode is a half second too long if you need it. No one is your friend." he says quietly. "And don't go chasing spirits. Ghosts are common enough, even in the day time. Shedim and Ghouls are drawn to the place. You scan me, girlfriend?"

"Scan," Ally verifies with a curt nod, sliding a pair of sunglasses on over her eyes. She reaches up to the right hand side of the glasses and pulls….a very thin cord comes free, which she slowly pulls down and attaches to the pistol on her hip. "Think it's best to be hiding my specialness, or flaunting it?" she wonders.

"Hide it until it's time to say hello to someones nose, let it out and let it loose. It's time to be polite until its no longer time to be polite. Now." He gestures to the old power boat and the older still man that stands beside it. "Go say hello to your pilot and pay the man."

Old Tom, the River Pilot.

Aladriel doesn't nod, she just commits it to her memory and does her best to adopt the proper mindset. When ready, she turns to the boat and approaches. With her glasses on, some of her natural exuberance and cheerfulness is muted, which under the circumstances is for the best. "The both of us need to get across," she says simply, not offering a particular amount of money, nor asking the price. Seeing what he'll say.

The older man raises an eyebrow, looking to the woman. "Use a bridge. You want to go in to the 'graves, I can help ya."

Ally considers for a few moments. Her immediate answer of 'closest to the White Tower' is replaced with, "Let me ask you this. Have you ever taken anyone across who has sought an audience with the Queen of the White Tower? Or any of her people?"

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 for "You want what?":
2 5 5 5 7

The old man eyes ally now, hard. "WHy you want to go see the witch, mmm?" He doesn't say no. He just asks why. "Mebby I don't want no witch-folk on my boat, scan? Mebby it's dangerous for me. Mebby it cost more, jahol?"

Ally doesn't flinch over the hard look. She just looks back, even and self-assured. Again it helps that her eyes are hidden. She needn't even need look at the man if she so desires. "She might have answers for me. We're not intending any trouble for you. Go there, ask our questions, and leave. Thats it. Take us to her, please. Your knowledge and help to get us towards her will be very appreciated, and compensated well, of course."

THe old man rubs his stubbly chin, looking like something out of a bad sailor movie… "Huh… Whatcha got for me then, girly. Some cash, mebbe some goods? Mebbie a peak under that shirt of yours?"

Sam shifts slightly, letting the wind blow back a corner of his duster.

The old man glances past Ally to Sam, apparently mollified by what he sees. He looks back to Ally. "Well again, you just keep the shirt on."

Ally rolls her eyes and reaches into the pocket of her duster and ruffles with some bills. She grabs some…thinks its too many, shortens the amount, comes out with it. She pulls out some more and flicks through it carefully. "How's about a thousand, and an extra two if you hang around to be our way back across?" she tries him.

"I ain't hangen around for -shit-" Says he. "You want to go in to the graves, it's a one way trip. You walk the fuck out or you find someone who is just coming in."

He eyes the money though, reaching out to take it. "This, and half again more, will get you near the tower. Walken distance as much as anything else is."

"Done," Ally says simply, reaching back into her pocket to pull out five hundred more. She shows it to the man as she looks behind her to motion Sam onto the boat.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "Hope it stays floatin."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Piracy Background + Task Pool: 3 vs TN 6 for "Analyze the boat.":
3 3 3 4 5 23 = 1 Success

Commlink-(Geist): It looks solid enough. He may be a scraggly man, but this boat is his life.

Johny steps on to the boat then, glancing around in his usual paranoid fashion; looking to see who sees them with this man, who's watching and who's going where. It's standard procedure for him. "Get in the boat, Ms. Racine."

Ms. Racine gets into the boat at Sam's urging and smiles. "Sorry. Mr. Cruise," she mumbles under her breath as she looks about the boat and finds a place where she can hold onto something if they hit rough water. And to take it a step further, she tries to find a nice place where she'll be able to sprawl out if they should come under fire. All good!

Old Tom reaches down, one foot braced on the back of the boat, up on the railing, to grab the starter cord for the boat. One yank, and it puts out enough smoke and carbon to give a Shaman a coronary, but it catches and the engine starts.

Sam takes a position, sitting on the prow of the boat, leaning back with his shotgun cradled over his chest. Watching, but not overly alert. "How longs the trip?" He asks aloud.

"Oh, bout 20 minutes, give or take. Depends on the river, she's mighty unpredictable and people keep shoven shit in to it like cars and busses. Hell, two years back a full tower fell in. Truman cleaned it up, in so much as they cleared the river. Now ya got a big ol tower done fell across the river, with a hole in the center. Crazy."

Ally doesn't manage the really alert but not really alert poise that Sam has. She looks alert and there's no hiding it. The only thing missing is her hand on her gun, or it being naked in her hand as she looks out, frequently flicking her eyes from side to side as though she's waiting for a ghoul to leap out of the water at any second. "Terrible," she murmurs as Old Tom tells the history of the river.

Old tom chuckles as he pulls the boat out in to the river. "Ain't nutten. Used ta be, every year round this time, the damn aldermen would paint the fucken river green! Damnest thing you ever saw, a green river."

Though she's not really interested, Ally does crack a smile as she visualizes what that must've looked like. "I can't even imagine. I bet, if you didn't know it was going to happen, it would be quite startling."

The trip is really a long stream of random trivia much like that, the sort of idioms and factoids that a long time resident of Chicago would know. "And over there's the old trump towers. Trump? Whossat? Damnest thing you ever saw. Lil old man, nutten but too-pay. Made killing in real estate. Lost it all in the Shattergraves, when Insurance woudlnt' cover the terrorism or fires, callen em acts of god. Poor man hung up his too-pay and went all howard hughs on us. Eh? Who's Howard Hughes? Goddamn you kids these days."

Aladriel gets a picture in her head of a little tiny man with a huge tupee and it makes her laugh a little bit, as much from her own imagery as from the words the man is sharing with her. "This place has a rich history. Makes it even sadder to see everything that happened," she murmurs, real sympathy in her tone.

"Oh don't you fret none. Windy cities seen her share of trials and tribulations, from fires to floods to blizzards ta politicians to mobsters ta corporations to the goddamn Cubs. GODDAMN SHITCOCK CUBS!" He rails, guiding the boat around the sunken hulk of a Coast Guard Lake Cutter thats leaned over in to the channel.

"Ohh….did the city have trouble with bears?" Ally asks interestedly, a slender eyebrow arching up and over the upper frame of her sunglasses.

At that, both Sam -AND- Old Tom look over at Ally like she grew asses ears.

The city towers above now. The modern skyscraper is a marvelous thing. Unlike several, notable exceptions in history, the modern Skyscraper is REMARKABLY hard to knock down. Sure, you rip out pieces, and many of these are in pieces, and you can shatter the windows, and indeed, most of the glass is broken, but still, most of the buildings are still standing. In their own fashion. Blackened, charred and looking more like the spires of the city of Dis, but standing all the same.

Now really in the heart of downtown, Aladriel's eyes go wide as they get closer to the skyscrapers, the ruined hulking masses that they are. She shakes her head as awe and sadness in equal measure walk over her. "I can picture what they were like, pristine and…full of life. This is just amazing," she murmurs. Sliding her backpack in front of her, she rummages inside and comes out with a tiny, little pink camera. And she starts taking a few quick stills.

Sights of Chicago's Shattergraves
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gaza-city-destroyed-buildings.jpg destroyed-homes-rafah-gaza.jpg

Ain't That America

The boat carves a path through the water, pulling up to what amounts to a dock; A 55 foot flat bed trailer dangling in the water, with several men standing on the trailer. "Well… Yall are here. There ya go. The White Tower, she's about 3 blocks down that road. Watch out for the shamblers and get the frag offa mah boat!"

Ally looks up and down the dock, carefully surveying for any welcoming party. In the absence of any, she'll climb right off the boat before she looks back to look at Old Tom. "Thanks for getting us here," she tells him, starting to turn towards the city when she thinks of something. She turns back to the man. "Have you ever been to see the Queen?" she asks him.

Old Tom looks over to Ally. "I'd rather shove my own pecker up my own pucker, and since I ain't well endowed, thats some trick."

Johny steps off the boat now, holding a hand out to Ally while the men on the 'dock' look on. They clearly are a welcoming party for travelers in to the Shattergraves, be the welcome what it is.

A smile quirks on the corners of Ally's mouth at Old Tom's response to that. Well then. That's that. She turns towards the rest of the dock and eyes the men who are waiting for them. She knows full well that Sam is with her, so he doesn't need a glance. She starts forward, pushing every bit of confidence and assuredness into her step as she approaches these unknown quantities.

«OOC» Johny says, "Give me a charisma check"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Charisma:
1 2 4 5 16
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Charisma:
2 3 3 9
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 vs TN 16:
2 3 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 vs TN 16:
2 2 3 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 vs TN 16:
2 3 3 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 vs TN 16:
1 2 5 = 0 Successes

The men are scruffy looking, but well fed. They don't appear to be hungry or desperate. Well armed, with military style boots, they are carrying, each of them, a sidearm (Heavy looking pistol) and a main weapon, an UZI III. Sam eyes them carefully. SMG's put a lot of lead in the air. The lead man, a Latino looking fellow of maybe forty with a full bearded thats gone salt and pepper, steps forward. He doesn't speak however. Just steps forward, challenging.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "So, if I remember my training, its probably better to be up close to a fast firing weapon than at medium range."

Commlink-(Geist): It's better to be behind it.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "I don't think they'll turn around, even if I ask them. Spread out?"

Commlink-(Geist): How about we not fight them. Talk to them.

Ally's able to look at all fo the men quickly thanks to her sunglasses. Her head stays straight, it's just her eyes that move. That unblinking visage is what marches towards the men, and…well. Hell. Just be unexpected. Don't be intimidated. So she just keeps on walking, not to stop unless they get more friendly with their weaponry or she's in easy conversation range. "Good morning, gentleman," she greets them.

The man offers a grunt, his gun held muzzle up in the air. "What do you want here." He asks, looking over to JOhny after that.

Johny, for his part, simply stands silently behind Ally, hands folded over each other and held in front of his body. Almost pacifically.

Ally's body is ready to fight if need be. Her mind is deadset on finding away to avoid that fight at pretty much all costs. Looking to to man who spoke, Ally addresses him solely. "We are seeking the Queen of the White Tower. I've be told that she may be able to help me, that she may have the answers that I seek."

The men chuckle quietly. The one nearer to the lead man elbows the man… "Loco gringa wants the Soji. Braintime vatos scan er to the Power?"

THe older one chuckles. "Why you want to see the Queen?" He asks, stepping closer. "HEctor may take you to the queen, for a price. Hector may also feed the fishes, for a price."

Old Tom is now pulling away from the dock, heading off in to the water.

Everything with a price. Ally turns her attention to the next man who talks and tries to glare at him. Which isn't really possible through the sunglasses, but at least he knows that she is looking at him. Then back to the first man. Oh boy. "I told you," she says patiently, trying hard to keep the irritation from her voice. "She knows this place. I was directed to her by a wise person of this city. I was told that if anyone knows the answer to my question, it will be the Queen."

"Yeah." Says Hector then, chuckling. "But we ain't the Queen. I'n the longshoremen. And you're on my dock. You want to go to the Queen, you pay a respect to the Longshoremen, you get off the dock. Then, you pay a respect to the Teamsters, thats Jimmy here, and we take you to the White Tower. Then you pay a respect to the Communications Local 201.. and they introduce you. And if you pay enough respect? You don't die."

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "Advice?"

Commlink-(Geist): Pay them.

Ally won't grit her teeth, but she really doesn't want to have to pay these men. And then…she remembers. Right at this moment, money isn't a huge object to her. Best not to let that show, though. So she manages to put onto her face that she's not fully please,d but she's willing to deal. "All right. Well then, we are on your dock. How does two thousand sound for the priviledge?" she asks the longshoremen. "And to you as well, Jimmy, for the teamsters. To make sure we've got a little something left for who else we run into?"

Johny mentally sighs. Oh jesus…

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 for "Mystery":
1 4 4 5 5

Hector has the good grace to not sport an erection right then and there. He also steps forward… "Eh… I think maybe… uh…." He glances back at his men, who are sort of silent for the moment… "Three thousand…" A slight pause. "Each."

Ally is not used to haggling, that much is certain. And thankfully she doesn't look at Sam, elsewise she might lose her nerve. "Three?" she asks incredulously, looking at the men critically. "For three I want something special out of all of it. You three? I want to see you three on the way back to this dock for our way out. I'm getting tired of meeting new people. Sound fair?"

The men agree readily. For three thousand nuyen each, these men, would, it's very clear, skin their own mothers alive then wear their skin as a pretty little hat. "Alright! YEah. But uh… We want half the money up front!"

Johny looks out over the water, shifting the strap on his shotgun to avoid getting to comfortable and to remind the men that he's armed. A lot of armed.

Ally snorts at that suggestion and waves her hand dismissively. "One thousand right this moment, for each of you. That's plenty to make sure you can go spend some while we're talking with the Queen and plenty for you to have left over. The rest when we get back here, just to make sure you all don't forget to wait for us. Sound fair?" Ally reaches into her coat and expertly counts out some money. Glad she's paid attention to how Kass carries her money when she's dealing with cash. Also glad that she doesn't have all her money in one place. Pulling out three thousand (or right about), Ally steps right up to the longshoremen and hands him the money. "Lets get going then."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 for "How big -is- that wad?":
2 3 5 5 15
«OOC» Johny says, "So. Ally. About how much money do you have on you?"

Hector narrows his eyes now, looking at the hunk of cred. "Hey Puta! You think we are stupid? That's not enough! You better show us the money now, so we know you have it!"

Johny steps forward now… "I've got the rest. You think you can get it from me, Longshoreman?" He asks quietly, his voice a whisper on the wind.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intimidation + 3 (Psych Comp):
1 2 2 5 7 8
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 for "Do we think we can get it from him?":
1 1 1 2 9
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 for "Do we think we can get it from him?":
3 3 4 4 5
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 for "Do we think we can get it from him?":
1 2 3 3 4

Puta? Ally growls and she lowers her sunglasses a little bit to glare at Hector. "Do you think *we're* stupid? We passed through the market back there and I'm lucky I got out with my glasses still on my head. Little girl about near snatched it blind from me. You'll forgive me for not carrying the bank in my jacket pocket. Relax, my friends," she stops glaring and smiles, holding up her left palm to urge calmness as she uses that sixth sense of hers to send her aura out…and start synchronizing it with the tainted mana around her. "You know where we're headed and where we're headed on our way back. The money is yours when we get back here."

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Magic vs TN 5 for "Filterin":
1 1 1 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 9 9 = 5 Successes

The men eye Ally, then Johnny, then Ally… "C'mon… it's a walk." Says Hector, letting the Uzi slowly down to rest by its shoulder strap. "Come cabrones! We eaten good tonight!"

Commlink-(Geist): They would have settled for 20 nuyen, you know.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "I'm used to Denver! Didn't want to lowball the guys with the Uzi y'know."

Commlink-(Geist): Look around you. Does this look like Denver, or does this look like a place where a 30 yen gun and 2 rounds makes you a local overlord? You can always offer more if they balk. You can -never- offer less.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "So I just gave these guys more money than they've ever seen. Maybe they'll have a better life. Sue me."

Commlink-(Geist): They will be dead inside a day.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "…"

Johny turns to follow the men, hefting his backpack and cracking his neck. He glances around, his eyes taking in the area. The trailer is sunk into the river where an old greenspace used to be, a fountain sitting precariously on the bank, nearly ready to topple in to the river.

Commlink-(Geist): Think about it. You throw a piece of beef in the street here, how long until rats are swarming over it?

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "So you want me to change their memory and tell them I actually offered a hundred yen?"

Commlink-(Geist): To late. Don't compound it. Accept these men are dead and move on. Don't throw good resources after bad.

Sam smiles, one hand reaching over to touch allys shoulder lightly, a fleeting touch with his left hand. A sort of reassurance, in his way.

The men lead you down several blocks of concrete canyon. The ground is covered by glass that crunches with every step, even 12 years later, fallen sections of building making the straight canyon more like a riverbed, following the turns and twists of where is safe to walk.

There's nothing left for Aladriel to say so she doesn't. It's instinctive for her to be mad at Sam… he's pointing out her mistake, after all. But she made it. So she's mad at herself. The touch does a little bit to calm her. And it will most certainly be a lesson learned. The blocks are traveled in silence, with Aladriel looking around frequently, memorizing landmarks, trying to keep track of what way they are going so if they need to come back this way on their own, or flee for their lives, she'll remember where to go. And maybe even find some places to hide.

«OOC» Johny says, "Roll int."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intelligence:
1 1 1 3 4 4 5 5
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
1 1 3 3 4 5 5 5 7 10

As you walk through the bones of the city, the wind blows in off the lake. Groans of twisted, stressed metal mix with the crunch of glass fragments under foot. A foul stench boils up from tepid pools of water in the foundations… and you feel eyes. Hundreds, thousands of eyes. From above. From the side. From below. And every time you turn to look, to see, to understand; There's nothing. Simply nothing but the ruined husk of a city, the soul of a region.

«OOC» Johny says, "Roll will TN 8.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Willpower vs TN 8:
3 4 4 4 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower vs TN 8:
1 1 1 1 2 2 3 4 4 8 11 11 = 3 Successes
«Plot» Johny says, " SAmuel is down 2 Combat Pool while inside the shattergraves. Aladriel is uneffected."

Ally was going along just fine until she started to notice the eyes. The smell? Not so much. The eyes…. yes. Her steps falter for a moment as she looks around for a moment, trying to spot them, never succeeding. That is when she remembers. That's when she stops trying to look for them and has a conversation with her mind. Forces herself to realize that what she is experiencing is something her sixth sense would be much more interested in than her plain old human nature. She's in a sea of great tragedy and a great astral impression. That's what she's feeling. That, she can ignore.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "Incredible…"

Johny draws his jacket a little tighter around him as they walk, eyes constantly roving. He's not been here before; he's not certain, not secure. The entire place is spooky. He pauses once, the crunch of the glass stopping from him, as he looks down an allyway thats filled with a burned out car crushed under an art-deco gargoyle that fell from a building above it. Just… stops, looking down the ally.

It takes Ally just a moment to realize that Sam's step has fallen out of its normal rhythm. She pauses and looks around for him, frowning when she sees him paused, looking down the alley. Tilting her head a little bit, something dawns on her. She intones quietly into her communit, "This was somewhere important, wasn't it?"

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Willpower vs TN 8:
1 2 2 3 5 5 = 0 Successes

Johny doesn't respond on any real intellectual level. Just a sort of simple grunt that doesn't relay any information. He turns away, shaking his head. "Just… thought I saw someone. Thought I saw something…" he says, glancing to the three men who are snickering up ahead.

Ally takes her sunglasses off of her face and moves into Sam's line of sight. She looks at him firmly, her gaze intense and probing. She has a guess, but she doesn't want to be offbase, so she stays vague. "It's okay to feel them. Just ignore them. Come with me," she urges him gently in tone, but firmly in intention. "There's nothing here you want to see."

Johny cracks his neck, looking to the other men. His eyes, underneath his shades, set in to a firm gaze. "Lets move. We have places to go." He says simply, shaking Ally's comfort off.

Ally looks at Sam and then after their guides and she shakes her head. It's not the time, even if in a perfect world she would be able to take the time right then and there to talk to the man. But it's not, and she realizes that. So it gets filed away, to be perhaps talked about when the time is right. Or at least…better.

The White Tower

The Gates of Horn and Ivory

The walk then is a quick thing, getting easier as you get closer to the White Tower. It's eerie when you see it, the stone of the tower scrubbed white, shrouded in spotlights that make it sparkle in the early afternoon. The only pristine structure for miles around, the White Tower is the very epitome of what Chicago was; Graceful, elegant, classy and stylish. A cutting edge expression of the wealth of the west, looking over the bones of the old.

galadriel6.jpg 93844-004-9B507EA4.jpg
The Queen of the White Tower The White Tower

Their destination finally comes into focus. The White Tower. And Aladriel's eyes go wide at the sight, so different from all of the other buildings that they've passed so far. "Wow," she emotes in a very, very soft voice as she looks at it. Even awed, she feels the tiniest bit of dread start to build in the pit of her stomach.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "I just get the feeling this isn't going to go as smooth as everything else."

Commlink-(Geist): I do not have any data to refute that supposition.

Stepping closer, he looks over to ally then… "Well Dorothy. Here we are at the Emerald City. Got your ruby slippers?" Asks Sam, reaching for a cigarette. He's gonna need one.

"I sure hope so," comes the reply from the mage, who's eyes are still cast upwards to the highest portions of the tower. As if looking hard enough will make it see-thru and reveal the queen to them. She subvocalizes the rest into her comm: "Otherwise I hope we can find a pail of water for when we meet the witch."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 10 + Sorcery Pool: 5 vs TN 4 for "Trid Phantasm":
1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 5 5 5 8 10 11 11 = 8 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + Sorcery Pool: 3 vs TN 3 for "+1D (force 2) drain.":
1 1 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 9 10 = 9 Successes

"The Question becomes…" Says the etherial, shimmering form of Glinda the Good Witch, her entire body held in a massive soap bubble that refracts the light gently as it floats down to the earth. In one hand, a star-topped scepter is held at the ready and daintily so, the other hand held up in a welcoming gesture… "Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?"

Ally's vision slowly pans upward at hearing a voice from above and startled sums up her look very appropriately. And it's funny. It's not the first time a Wizard of Oz magical thing has come up to bite her in the butt in recent times. Now, unlike when she was confronted with the men with uzi's, Ally does not physically set herself up. She stays relaxed…because she's betting on any such conflict to be magical rather than physical. Her metaphysical shields stay mild over herself and Sam, not about to play her cards and show just how strong she can make them…yet.

"A good witch," Ally replies after just a moment's thought. "I would definitely say a good witch. May I ask… are you the Queen of this tower, ma'am?"

Sam steps closer to Ally, watching the Apparition as it comes closer. "No one that pretty." Mutters the man in Ally's ear.. "Is nice. No one."

Glinda alights on the ground, the soap bubble spilling away, starting from the top and shattering to strike the ground with bits of moist bubble that quickly evaporate away. "|A good witch she says. And where are you from, Good Witch Aladriel?" She asks curiously. The area around her seems to illuminate as though she cast off light herself.

«OOC» Aladriel wants to roll to see if she's real or fake!
«OOC» Johny says, "Go for it. Int, TN is 4"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence vs TN 4:
1 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 5 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Aladriel snorts.
«OOC» Johny says, "Looks real to you!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intelligence vs TN 4:
2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 = 4 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "And to Sammy"

Ally doesn't react to Sam, though she would so like to say 'I'm nice, though'. But, a witch came out of the Wizard of Oz seemingly, and is standing before them, so she's not really going to carry on a side conversation with the man at the moment. As she starts to answer, Ally's given pause as Glinda drops her name. Hmm. She quickly tries to think of any time she might've said her name since arriving in Chicago. Maybe to the old woman?

"I'm from the West. Well, a little Southwest, so don't let that have you label me as a bad witch. Elphaba was just misunderstood, after all," she says, smiling as she reaches up to remove her sunglasses and slide them into a jacket pocket.

The Good Witch looks to Johny then, then back to Ally with a beatific smile on her features, continuing to light the area in a warm glow, kind of like soft-lens pornography. "I see. And why do you travel with the Tinman? Are my woodsmen not polite?" She asks, turning her smile on Hector and the other two men now. They shrink back slowly, carefully..

Johny quirks a brow. Tinman. Indeed.

Hmmm. Ally is keeping it in her mind how far she should play along with whom she presumes to be the Queen's relations to the story of Oz. But… best to let it play out as it will. No point annoying her for no good reason. "Oh no, I found their custom and yours to be very welcoming. But as you know, Dorothy would eventually have four companions. I've brought just one for my own company, for I did not anticipate meeting your guides, nor did I know if you would be welcoming of my arrival. I'm very flattered that you have been thus far."

The gates to the White Tower ratchet open, a kind of mechanical clanking that is iconic in its way, echoing across the well kept lawns and court yard of the Tower's green surroundings. The only greenery to be had here in the SHattergraves, it looks like. The only mote of light or happiness.

Glinda smiles. "The Sorceress of Oz awaits all good witches inside, Good Witch of the West and Slightly South…"

Ally looks away from Glinda as the White Tower's gates slowly open. Yeah, she doesn't want to go in there. No sane person wants to go into the DEN of an unknown quantity like they are now facing. But what choice is there? "Thank you," she tells her, starting towards the entrance, looking to Sam, "Come along, ah, Tinman…"

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 6 (Foci) + 5 (spell pool) vs TN 9 for "Sam's Will power+Spell defense. Control Emotion.":
1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 5 5 8 9 9 9 14 21 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 6 (Foci) + 5 (spell pool) - 5 vs TN 9 for "Sam's Will power+ spell defense Control Emotion. KP 1/?":
1 1 2 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 6 (Foci) + 5 (spell pool) - 5 vs TN 9 for "Sam's Will power. Control Emotion. KP 3/?":
1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 9 21 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Willpower + 3 vs TN 9 for "Force of spell":
1 2 2 3 4 7 7 8 9 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Willpower + 3 - 1 vs TN 9 for "Force of spell KP 1":
1 2 3 5 5 5 9 28 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "The spell still exceeds the threshold. Sam is effected"

«Plot» Johny says, " Any attack made against Samuel will be treated as a surprise attack without need for a reaction roll."

Johny pauses a moment, one hand moving to his shot gun as if to seek comfort from that firearm. He looks back to Hector and the group, then back to Ally. His eyes scan along the buildings that line the streets before he moves back in step with Ally. The safeties of his weapons engage, audibly. "We're cool."

Ally eyes Sam curiously. Into the lion's den and safety ON? Uh, well, he knows what he's doing she supposes. So with him at her back, she proceeds into the Queen's White Tower, looking around curiously as much just to see the environment as to look for some sort of sneaky ghoul.

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
1 1 1 2 3 3 3 3 4 8

Maybe Sam sees something ally doesn't, but you know, this sure doesn't SEEM like a really safe place. A few eyes can be seen staring from the dark recesses off the buildings around, god knows how many men looking down from the ruined towers. You can almost feel the gaze of people upon you as you step with the Tin Man for the tower gates.

Sam continues to move with Ally, his hands coming away from their usual ready-position at his hips, to swing along next to him. His shoulders and back lose just that uphf of rigidity and his eyes stop roaming quite so much. This is a safe place. A calm place. Nothing is going to happen here. He lets his guard down as they enter the building.

Ally doesn't try to peek at each and every person she feels looking at her, but it is an incredibly eerie feeling. What do these people know that she doesn't? And why are they all so afraid of the White Queen? There are no answers to this to be found in her head, but the questions still linger.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "Whatcha think?"

Commlink-(Geist): Seems safe enough. The walls are sturdy. The lighting good.

Commlink-«Phoenix»> Aladriel says, "Um… I wasn't so much thinking the structural integrity. Y'know, the witch?"

Commlink-(Geist): She seems pretty. Nice. I like her so far. Lets get inside, see how things go.

Hall of Mirrors

Well, that's not what Ally was expecting from Sam. But…he does surprise her a lot. So with out any further conversation or hesitation, she'll cross the threshold into the Queen's White Tower.

The interior of the Watertower is nothing like it was a hundred years ago, much less fifty. Instead of water pumping equipment and other utility gear, it's been remodeled in to a sumptuous, palatial existance. A pair of stair cases curve with the walls, leading from the wings up to the upper levels. Reds and Burgundies in velvet hang to cover the stone walls and give the room a warm appearance, with paintings and works of art hung in front of those; indeed, the very best in salvage from Chicagoland as a whole.

Light is provided by massive stained glass windows that receive direct sunlight from seemingly overhead, casting warm glows throughout the main room, roughly the size of a ball room. It seemed smaller on the outside.

"Nice place." Mutters sam, one hand reaching up to unstrap the shotgun from his shoulder.

As the Queen's tower, or rather palace opens up before them, Ally will actually spin to take it all in, her eyes going very wide as she finds something so…unexpected. No, that's not the word. The Queen of the White Tower brings with it a sort of suggestion of oppulence. But seeing it here, in the heart of a ruined city, really truly come to life…now *that* is unexpected. She wows again, shaking her head a little bit. "Amazing," she murmurs.

"Thank You." Comes the voice, clean and clear with no echo (Perhaps the cause for the curtains, as they absorb sound so nicely) from the top of the stair case. AS if to offset the royal jeweltones of the room, the woman who speaks is in simple white robes that compliment her pale eyes and vibrant blond hair. Elven, her ears have fine, genteel tapers that work well with the slight angularity of her features. "Welcome to the White Tower." Says she again, her voice having just the faintest edge of… not quite bells. Not quite ringing, but like the flutter of a butterfly on a warm day, if that had a -sound-. She seems to radiate warmth, indeed, holding a faint light, a shine, that spreads out around her.

Aladriel looks up to locate the speaker and she stares for a moment at the Queen revealed. It does not escape her how the scene must look to those who might view from afar, the Queen dressed all in white and fair, and Aladriel all in black, yet also fair skinned, the only thing really out of place the fiery mane of her hair.
"Thank you, Queen. I've only been referred to you as Queen, so I do not have a name to put behind it, I am afraid," she tells her.

Sam watches the scene unfold, shifting his weight slightly. He keeps his mouth shut though, trying to remember the reason he's here. That though, is taken right away, fleeing from his mind. It's hard to remember why he came, or even where he is, such is the force of her personality on him.

"Your Tinman, Viktor, knows very well how little names mean in this world, Aladriel. Pick something, and you may call me that, should it please my ears." Says the lady in white as she descends the staircase.

Viktor? Ally puts that in the huge chest of things that she needs to ask Sam about when they are gone from this place. Like the others, she puts it aside for the time being. Back to the Queen…goodness, what sort of name should she come up with for her? "Hm. I've never been asked to select a name for a Queen before," she admits, different names floating through her head. "How about Queen….Aries?" she tries, smiling a bit sheepishly at the best she could come up with. "If that should not be to your liking, I would gladly call you a name that you had before and that you liked."

She tilts her head, a smile playing across her lips then. "Aries, it shall be, if somehwhat gender inappropriate." She never steps down on to the floor, off the final step of her staircase. "Tell me, Aladriel and her Tinman… Why have you come to the White Tower of the Shattergraves? I do not often entertain.. visitors."

Oops. Oh well. Ally shrugs that right off and approaches a little bit closer to the Queen. Mainly so she's not standing at the otherside of the hall from her. With no apparent guards, no throne or such, she sees no reason to stay too far away, and can come up with a few good ones to be closer.
"I've come here for answers, Queen Aries," Ally speaks clearly, and in a firm voice. "And in search of someone. My mother. Her name is Anya Cindel. She disappeared here, in this city, many many years ago. When I questioned another, she suggested that if anyone were to know about her, it would be you. And so I ask you if you know anything about her….please tell me."

Sam moves forward with Ally, when she moves, keeping a step behind and to the left of her. He keeps his eyes on the queen, almost oblivious to the world around him, without quite looking it.

Aries smiles at Ally's words, turning away from her as she moves back up the stair case. "That is very touching, Aladriel. A girl seeking her mother lost long ago in the wilds of Chicago's nightmarescape. You must be very brave to come so far. Why do you seek this woman, so distant removed by time from your heart?" She asks, one hand trailing to her side and gesturing up the staircase for Ally to follow.

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence vs TN 11:
1 2 2 3 4 4 5 9 9 10 = 0 Successes
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Gross!"
«Watchfor» Cash (#1575) just disconnected from the game.
«OOC» Johny says, "Do you wish to karma?"
«OOC» Aladriel will do…1.
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence vs TN 11:
1 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 23 = 1 Success

The world around you swims in haze and smoke, stinging at your astral eyes. Outside the walls, you can hear the screams and cries of thousands upon thousands as they die in fire, crushed underneath rubble and falling prey to the dark things released when the IBM/Sears tower fell so long ago, then fire swept the core. Through it though, through this miasma, you can almost see the White Queen's astral form. Almost. Her Aura is dimmer than you might expect, but it could just be the smoke and soot that swirls around like a dust storm and the stinging embers.

You look harder, trying to see better, and you catch glimpses of the White Queens aura that show her to be awakened, despite the dimmness of her aura.

"It is very rude." Says the Queen as she moves up the stairs with a fluid grace.. "To look behind the curtains of a home, Aladriel seeking her mother.."

«OOC» Johny says, "Ally, give me a normal int check"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 9 11

It might occur to Ally that in looking at this woman's aura and her awareness of it… she possesses a dual-natured Aura… existing at once on both levels.

Caught. Damnit. Ally thinks fast and goes for apologizing without admitting guilt. "I am sorry to have offended, Queen Aries. We've both been gifted with the Sight and I did not know it would be improper to look at each other as we truly are. My apologies."

Sam eyes Ally -hard- then, at the tone of displeasure from the Queen. The sort of look you give a dog that just shat on the carpet, then butt-scooted across the white couch.

"I accept your apologies. I do not suggest that you attempt such again however, not for my own displeasure, but for your own safety. It is… unpleasant. I create this sanctuary here, the White Tower, to give rest and respite in the middle of such… misery."

Ally finds herself agreeing with the Queen very much so. Inside is quite nice at least on the physical. A shame that the astral has been unable to escape the taint of what has infected the whole city. -That- will surely lead to a few nightmares down the road, Ally is certain of it.
"I appreciate your concern for me and I will take your advice. You have succeeded in making a sanctuary, of that I'm certain. Your tower is unlike anything I've seen in the city here, and though I haven't seen a lot of it, I'm certain even if I looked, I'd not find anything else that compared. How long have you dwelled here?" she asks.

Sam takes being ignored remarkably well, given his usual demand to be seen, heard and respected. He continues up the stairs as they curve around to the main landing.

"The Enchantments I have placed on this tower do indeed, make it unique in the Shattergraves, holding out the spirits that dwell within. Even the Insect Spirits that swarmed the city could not enter in enough force to assault it's wards. The White Tower has stood as a symbol of hope and hospitality for nearly 15 years, with myself as its mistress for the last 10."

She leads from the landing, in to a dining area where food has been laid out. A roast, a few bottles of various drinks and some vegitables. "We trade with the outsiders for what we need to keep the tower going… Please. Enjoy our hospitality."

Ally would be taking notes if she had a pen and paper in her hand. As she does not, she tries to key in on certain details. As she follows along to the landing and a dining area is revealed, Ally's eyes widen slightly. Clearly not what she expected. Looking over the food, she does not immediately go to it.
"Queen…Aries. You've presented a wonderful reception for us, and you've been nothing but welcoming. I do not wish to be rude, but I would feel horrible to take any of this for myself, when it could be used for others, and those in real need. We've," she motions to Sam, "been blessed enough to have our food. I don't wish to take this when someone else who has none may be able to receive it."

She turns then, looking over her shoulder, hair falling to the opposite side to frame her fine, nearly perfectly regal features… "Need is a relative concern, Aladriel. I look at you both, I see you and I recognize your need. You for your heart, the TinMan for his soul. I am bound to offer you my hospitality, and it would be.. uncomfortable to me were you to refuse." She does not say rude, nor infer her guests would be rude; but the trap of politeness is clear; a polite guest would not make the host uncomfortable.

Fine Dining

Ally almost mutters. She really almost does. It'll be her luck to go and get poisoned. May as well let Sam eat first then, he's more likely to survive it than she. Ally motions for him to go to the table, and she herself goes as well. Just like Kassandra would, Ally stays away from the meat and goes for the vegetables and a drink. She takes very little, obligated to partake at all, but not to take a certain amount.

"I thank you, then, for offering us this," Ally says and manages not to sound too grumbly about the whole proposition. "And because you recognize our need…well, my need, will you help me? It is us to him whether he also wants your help."

Sam takes a seat, his shotgun places on the chair next to him, almost entirely forgotten but still within arms reach. He may be unusually comfortable, but training is training. He takes a plate of food, offering a nod of thanks. "I'm here for the girl." He says, spooning some tuber-like food stuff on to his plate, casting a glance at the roast. Mmmm.

"You honor me, Aladriel, Viktor, by supping from my table and coming in to my home." She slides herself, a fluid motion, in to the regal high-backed wooden chair with the red velvet padding that is situated at the head of the table.

A young girl, perhaps 12 years of age, comes from the rear of the dining area, stepping out from behind a tapestry, carrying a plate under a silver serving dome. This is placed in front of the Queen of the Tower, a curtsy given and then the girl is withdrawing. She never once looks to Ally or Sam.

Another question without an answer. Ally drinks lest she get testy, and her eyes follow the entrance of the girl who comes in to deliver something to the Queen. Her eyebrows raise faintly and she looks after the girl to see where she heads off to, before the mage's blue eyes return to the Queen. Of course Queen's should have servants. Why shouldn't they? Still, her curiosity grows.
"Is she a part of your staff?" Ally asks, almost assuming aloud she was a servant, but catches herself at the last moment. "Do you just live here yourself with your staff, or…" she trails off, leaving an opening for family.

Sam reaches forward now, taking a slice of the roast (looks like maybe ham), moving it to his plate without spilling anything on the fine white tablecloth. He is otherwise quiet, starting to dig in to the tuck.

"She is an orphan, like many in this city. She resides here and trades her services as livery to the Tower in return for its protection and instruction. I have a larger staff in the night, when more protection is needed. During the day, many run errands for me beyond these walls."

"It is kind for you to offer that for her, and others like her," Ally tells the Queen as she lazily forks at some of the vegetables she's taken for herself. Not much gets, in fact none has been eaten yet, her appetite left on the other side of the river as it were. "What comes at night?" she asks.

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower vs TN 8:
1 1 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower vs TN 8 for "KP 2/oodles":
2 2 3 4 4 4 5 5 5 9 9 10 = 3 Successes
«Plot» Johny says, " Ally is as yet uneffected by the horror of the astral realm around her."

Johny chimes in then, gesturing to the meat. "This is damn good, Ally. You should have a bite. I mean, really. It's good." he says, sliding another bit in to his mouth. He chews a moment. "Kass ain't around, so you can have a bit of meat without pissing her prissyness off."

"Darkness." Intones the Queen.

Ally looks over to Sam and actually shoots him a glare, and he should have no doubt as to why. "I don't like meat," she says simply, a small bite to her words as she glares at the man a moment longer. Then her eyes snap back to the Queen, softening a little bit. "I see. I will admit, Queen Aries, that it is one of my fondest desires to not see this night and the Darkness it brings."

"Kass.. andra?" Asks the Queen, testing the word on her lips then, like someone might taste a fine wine. She looks to Sam then, smiling slightly. "Worry not, Aladriel. You will be in fine accommodations tonight, while I look in to the matter of your search. You will be quite safe inside the tower."

Johny seems oblivious to the look as he turns back to his food, eating quite heartily. The Queen has still not yet opened her food dish to eat.

Damnit. Aladriel sighs quietly, lowering her eyes for a moment. That was most certainly not what she would have wanted. Though, as she reflects, whatever her mind works its way around must be a bit more to her liking than her original reaction. "I see," she says quietly, looking to Johny for a moment, then to the Queen. "I am reluctant to impose upon you, but your invitation is very welcome and we will be very happy to spend the evening in your company. I am certain we will find it far more pleasant than what we could come up with on our own."

She smiles slightly, a sort of smile that brightens the room. A light breeze plays through her hair, the aroma of sandlewood incense carrying on the little gust. "Splendid. I will have the minarets made ready for you. Do you have a preference as to direction? I had a gentleman caller last summer who could only stand to sleep in a north-facing room."

Sam thinks that over for a moment. "South, please. I'd like to look south."

"Of course, Viktor. Anything you like."

Aladriel looks at 'Viktor' as he chooses a particular direction. She has no preference at all so she does not voice it. She does notice, however, that the Queen has not started her meal. "Are you not eating with us?" she asks softly. By all accounts Ally is probably oblivious to the fact that has not really eaten, and merely pushed her food around her plate.

"I will eat when my guests do, Aladriel. I understand it may take you a while to feel your appetite, with the vision of the higher planes you received on the way up stairs. Please, do not feel rushed."

Sam glances to Ally, gesturing with his eyes as if to say 'come on!'.

The Queen ahs quietly, looking slightly put out by that statement. She gestures with one hand and the lid lifts off her plate to reveal a cut of red meat surrounded by various sauces such as horse-raddish and mint jelly. It does not appear to be cooked. "How unfortunate." She intones, her lips pursing in to the barest hint of annoyance as she picks up knife and fork.

"Nice going." Mutters Sam, a hint of Russian creeping in to his voice as he continues to chow down. Johny then gestures to the queen. "This is lovely. Thank you." (Russian)

"Again, no offense is meant, madame Queen," Ally murmurs as she watches the Queen finally reveal her own meal. Ah. Very very red meat. Part of her had been expecting a human head or the like so she's pleasantly surprised to not have that revealed to her. Remaining silent for a few moments as the Queen makes to eat, it gives her time to wonder just why Sam is acting so strange.

"Please let Viktor's enjoyment of the food suffice for the both of us. He can enjoy it as much as he likes and I can enjoy the opportunity to speak with a Queen. It is rare from where I come to speak with a Queen. I will be the envy of those I know when I return home."

Aries cants her head to Johny, smiling again as his words sooth her ego. "You are as silver tongued as ever, Viktor Rodinko. How long has it been?" She asks, lifting her fork and knife to cut at her meat now. It bleeds just slightly, like a good, rare steak should.

In Russian, he murmurs around bites of food… "Been what… nearly 20 years since I was in Saint Petersburg."

Ally furrows her brows as the Queen and Sam speak with each other. She knows enough Russian to pick out some words, and definitely enough to just pick up the flow of conversation. "You two…know each other?"

Sam seems about to open his mouth to speak, when a slight glance from the Queen silences him.

"After a fashion, one might suppose. We are familiar with each other…" She smiles then, that coy smile that women smile when they know something but have no intention of revealing it. "Tell me more about your mother, I think you called her Anya, yes?"

THAT is going to get asked about, as soon as humanly possible, Aladriel decides right then on the spot. She doesn't look at Sam because that might betray the impending questioning. But it will be coming, oh yes. "Anya, yes. Anya Cindel," Ally tells the woman. "She disappeared…twelve years ago, just about. Here in Chicago. I was very young so I wasn't told where exactly she was going or what the reason was. She was a professional, though. And very good. She wouldn't have been alone."

Aries takes another bite of her steak, chewing it thoughtfully. She chews for several moments before swallowing and wiping her lips. "When you say professional… perhaps you could be a little clearer. There are many professions in the awakened world."

Folding her gloved hands in her lap so she doesn't start tapping her fingers on something, Ally looks at Aries and explains a moment later. "She was a runner. I was told she was very good. I wasn't old enough to know, really. Parents…don't always tell their children about something like that until they're old enough to understand it."

She smiles indulgently at Aladriel. "I know exactly what you mean. There are simply some things the young are not ready to understand or know. It's part of growing up, to learn them for yourself, is it not?" She asks, reaching for a goblet of some unseen liquid to take a sip.

"Exactly," comes the blue-eyed mage's reply, and her tone is at least a little sad as she allows herself to think about her mother. "And I was almost there. We would have been able to share a lot more."

"How Tragic. I will of course, do everything I can to divine the disposition of your mother." She says, her voice softening somewhat. "Do you perhaps… have a token of her? Some item that may assist me?"

Ally thinks on that for a time. "I've got a few pieces of jewelry that she left behind, one of her knives…" and she seems to give some serious thinkin as to which would be better. "She was very good with knives. She used to teach me a little how to fight with them. That's….well, all I would have with me."

The woman's eyebrow raises, archers perhaps, at the mention of the blade. "I would… be interested in seeing the blade. Weapons are so very personal, they take on a life much like their wielders…"

Sam sits back from his plate, watching the interplay between the women, saying nothing.

Aladriel nods her head and stands up. She turns a bit in profile to the Queen so that she doesn't flash *all* of the weaponry she has on her when she sweeps back her coat, unsheathing a knife that she wore horizontally on her belt in a nice, secure sheath. Taking it out, she quickly lays it flat onto both hands as she goes round the table towards the Queen, being quite certain to not hold the weapon in a threatening manner. The knife….is unremarkable. Definitely groved to Anya's particular grip. But it doesn't visibly carry the blood of a thousand foes on it, or anything of the like. "She used to joke that I'd grow into it."

The Queen takes the blade, not quite touching it. Instead, it rides over her hands, held in the air by a minor levitation spell that would be almost impossible for Ally to notice being cast, unless she actively looked. The blade rotates, flipping over between her upturned hands… "The… user of this blade… I feel a resonance… I will need more time… to examine it… to understand it. To divine the nature of the link."

Ally of the magical nature doesn't look too startled at the blade lifting free from her hands. Though slightly annoyed that she didn't notice the magic. Alas. "That would be fine," she murmurs, fighting the urge to demand a fuller explanation. "I would just ask that I get the blade back if at all possible."

Sam seems to finish eating, the meat almost gone, the veggies almost slaughtered. He watches the blade spinning, eyeing it closely. He opens his mouth to speak, but a glance from the Queen silences him yet again.

After the look, her features soften as she looks to Ally. "I will do everything in my considerable power to make sure that your memento is not damaged, Aladriel, but I cannot promise it. Some rituals, they take a sacrifice to empower them. You know how it is."

"I do," Ally replies, an intent look on her face. She looks at the Queen for a moment and then starts back to her side of the table, to her chair and her neglected food, which will remain that way. "I again thank you for looking into this for me. I…well, I don't imagine I can find her alive. But if you do, just point me in her direction and I'll find her. Anything, really, anything at all will help."

The girl returns, unbidden, removing Sam's plate, then the Queens. The Queen has eaten the entirety of the steak. "Tell Edward that he was wonderful, as always."

The Girl curtsies, then turns for the kitchen.

To Ally again, the Queen turns. "Are you sure, Aladriel? The past is not always as we left it you know. You may learn things about your mother that you were too young to understand, but now that you are, would disturb or disquiet you."

Aladriel takes a deep breath, using it to push away a swell of anger that abruptly rises up at the Queen's words. It reaches her eyes, but it goes away very quickly. "I am absolutely sure. I'm not a child, now, and I am no longer content with an idealized notion of her, nor am I content with what my mind can make up about her. I want to know."

Sam eyes Ally, then reaches for his drink. The Queen very subtly glances at Sam, before the man starts to speak… "She may be right, Aladriel. Your mother was a runner, and not the white hat you've turned out to be. You damn near shattered when you killed a kid on accident. Hadn't been for Kass right now, I don't think you'd be so stable."

The Queen looks to Ally then, an eyebrow raising. "Tell me of this."

Ally looks back at Samuel and she looks none too happy. "She's not right, and it doesn't matter. I killed a child and I didn't mean to," she says, as much for the Queen as for Samuel's benefit. Her eyes are not on the Queen, though, only on the man. "And you've killed children too. And I don't hate you for it and you're not family by way of blood. No matter who my mother was, or what she may have done, I am not her. I'm my own person…and I am happy for that. I want to know who she was… and maybe the one percent chance to find out who she is."

Sam doesn't really seem to register the anger coming from Ally, even though if looks could kill, there'd be a dagger in his ear. He sips his drink, seeming quite calm and content with the situation. "It's been a while since I could let my hair down, and stop babysitting, Your magesty. Thanks. It's nice to be understood."

"Oh, Viktor. You're always welcome here, in my home." Says the queen, letting one hand stray over to pat Sam's hand. His left hand, the real one. She looks then to Ally…. "Aladriel… I entirely understand and I will do everything I can to assist." She lets her hand stay on Sam's…

"Would you two mind not being so touchy-feely?" Ally asks, her sulkiness starting to well up a bit some downright unpleasantness. "It's weirding me out that you two just happen to know each other. I know that he's traveled the world….. but it's down right odd that you two just happen to find each other. Here. In the White Tower of Chicago."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 vs TN 6 for "Will of Ms. Queenie":
1 1 2 2 5 8 9 11 11 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 vs TN 9 for "Force of Spell":
1 1 3 4 5 8 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Johny says, " Samuel does not break the spell when ordered to do something against his nature or desire."

Johny's eyes turn to Ally… "Why do you do this to me, kid? Every time I find someone. Every time I start to feel human. For fucks sake, Ally… I've come with you to hell and back, can't I just be happy -once-?"

The Queen withdraws her hand though, her lips pursing in to a moi of annoyance. She rises, offering a nod and turns to leave the squabbling pair.

Ally blinks several times in quick succession at Johny when he comes out with that. She furrows her brows at him and starts to say something when she is shushed by the Queen's getting up and making to leave. Her eyes narrow a fraction before they return to Sam. "I'm not telling you not to be happy. I'm all for it. It's just weird and if you don't want it to be weird, just tell me the story here."

"Every fucking time, Ally! Every time! Every time I meet someone I could open up to, you fucking well spoil it! Like goddamn child you are!" He stands up then, the shotgun forgotten in the other chair. "You're so goddamn needy. That woman…" he says, gesturing to the door the queen just exited from… "Accepts me. She touched me like I was -anyone else-. She didn't treat me with kid gloves or like I was a fucking murderer." he says, his voice a tightly controlled thing, trying to moderate being being over ridden… He doesn't WANT to yell at Ally, but for some reason it seems like the right thing to do.

Aladriel furrows her brows and stands when Sam does. Whether she's trending towards being nervous around the man or not, when a man of his size is up like that, she doesn't want to stay seated. "What the hell are you talking about? How do I do that? And who have I spoiled? You haven't…" she thinks hard for a moment, "You haven't brought anyone around to me. And I only treat you like a person, no different than anyone else."


The girl returns, offering a curtsy. "Sir… Your room is ready…"

Sam looks about to respond to Ally with all the sound of fury of the tempest of confusion in him now… but when the girl cuts in, he just shuts down. He turns to follow the young girl now.

Ally all but stares at Sam in the way that he is reacting, and she's caught offguard with the return of the girl. She blinks for a moment and then as the pair start to leave, she throws on the brakes in a hurry. "STOP right there, miss. We're staying in the same room and it's not up for negotiation."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Willpower vs TN 9:
1 1 3 3 4 17 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 vs TN 6:
2 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Johny says, " Samuel breaks through the control thoughts spell."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Reaction:
1 1 1 1 1 3 3 4 4 5
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Pistols (Colt Manhunter) + Combat Pool: 4 vs TN 4 for "Quick Draw, called shot, forehead.":
1 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 8 = 6 Successes
«Plot» Johny says, " 11M base, stages to 11D+2 against young girls rather soft forehead."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 2 vs TN 11:
4 7 = 0 Successes
«Stats System» Invalid roll: Cannot find stat matching "2/11 kp 1".
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 2 vs TN 11 for "KP 1/3":
2 3 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 2 vs TN 11 for "KP 3/3":
2 3 = 0 Successes

Leaving the room, leaving Ally. It's against who he is, against his nature, against his very core. Do not leave her alone. Do not leave her alone. Do not leave her alone. This mantra screams over and over inside his head, slamming headlong in to the wall, the line of control that circles his mind. A mental tug of war has played out over and over in the last hour or so of dinner, making him do things he doesn't want to do. Making him say things that were not… -him-. But they were. But they wern't. It's confusion.

Sam is not a man who does not like confusion. But there's nothing confusing about a bullet and a bullet is Sam's domain. Restore control, restore power. He pauses only a half hitch in his step as one hand slides down to the holster at his side, the targeting reticules coming online. No shot gun, but the pistol will do. The Colt clears the holster by a scant breath before it fires a shot. The girl is caught entirely off guard as the bullet enters her forhead before the small shaped charge at the tip explodes, splattering the back of her head across the curtains behind her.

"Get out."

Aladriel doesn't even have a time to shout out anything. In a movie she would. But this isn't a movie, or a show, or some fantasy world. It's the real world and before she can utter even some semblance of a word the man has pulled a gun and shot down the girl. She stares at the scene that just played out before her, too stunned to be upset, to yell or any such.

"Sam?" she asks.

«OOC» Johny says, "Init"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Initiative with a result of 19.
«OOC» Aladriel says, "O boy."
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Initiative with a result of 18.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 for "+9 for the Queen":
2 5 8
«OOC» Johny says, "Queen will move on 22"
«OOC» Johny says, "how much shielding are you doing right now?"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "3 each."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 (Sorcery.spellcasting) + 6 (Power Foci) + 9 (Ally Spirit) + Sorcery Pool: 7 vs TN 15 for "Ally's Will, Mass Confusion. Karma 0/?":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 9 16 22 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 (Sorcery.spellcasting) + 6 (Power Foci) + 9 (Ally Spirit) + Sorcery Pool: 7 - 2 vs TN 15 for "Ally's Will, Mass Confusion. Karma 1/?":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 7 8 10 10 13 14 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 (Sorcery.spellcasting) + 6 (Power Foci) + 9 (Ally Spirit) + Sorcery Pool: 7 - 2 vs TN 15 for "Ally's Will, Mass Confusion. Karma 3/?":
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 7 9 9 16 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 (Sorcery.spellcasting) + 6 (Power Foci) + 9 (Ally Spirit) + Sorcery Pool: 7 - 3 vs TN 15 for "Ally's Will, Mass Confusion. Karma 6/?":
1 1 1 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 7 8 8 8 9 11 11 22 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 (Sorcery.spellcasting) + 6 (Power Foci) + 9 (Ally Spirit) + Sorcery Pool: 7 - 4 vs TN 15 for "Ally's Will, Mass Confusion. Karma 10/?":
1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 8 10 11 13 17 = 1 Success
«OOC» Johny says, "Stand on five."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Willpower + 3 vs TN 9:
1 2 2 4 4 4 5 9 9 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Willpower + 3 - 2 vs TN 9 for "KP 1":
2 4 4 5 9 9 15 = 3 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Well. Sam's not confused."
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower + 3 (Shielding) vs TN 9:
1 1 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 8 10 13 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower + 3 (Shielding) - 2 vs TN 9 for "KP 3/30":
1 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 5 7 9 11 = 2 Successs
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower + 3 (Shielding) - 4 vs TN 9 for "KP 6/30":
1 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 9 10 10 = 3 Successes
«Plot» Johny says, "Neither Ally or Sam are effected by the Confusion Spell."
«OOC» Aladriel's actions are: reallocate shielding dice, activate Manip. Foci.

Turning from the still falling body of the girl, Sam scans the room, moving swiftly over to where the higher powered shotgun is sitting. "DID I FUCKING STUTTER?" He shouts, his eyes scanning the room. The Queen won't be long now… "GET OUT!"

Aladriel snaps out of her stunned silence to get her wits about her. Okay..she felt the spell that hit her. Now it's time to get a little bit more serious! She doubles the shielding around herself and Sam and draws out her Ruger Thunderbolt, holding it confidently in a two-handed grip. "She has the answers, Sam! We're not leaving! If she's playing a game we can too."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 6 (Foci) + 9 (Ally Spirit) + 4 (Power Site) + 6 (Expendable Power Foci) vs TN 15 for "Fucking shielding. You fucking whore shielding person! ;)":
1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 7 7 11 14 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 6 (Foci) + 9 (Ally Spirit) + 4 (Power Site) + 6 (Expendable Power Foci) vs TN 15 for "Fucking shielding. You fucking whore shielding person! ;) KP 11/?":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 7 8 9 9 9 9 10 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 6 (Foci) + 9 (Ally Spirit) + 4 (Power Site) + 6 (Expendable Power Foci) vs TN 15 for "Fucking shielding. You fucking whore shielding person! ;) KP 13/?":
1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 7 10 10 10 11 11 11 19 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 6 (Foci) + 9 (Ally Spirit) + 4 (Power Site) + 6 (Expendable Power Foci) - 1 vs TN 15 for "Fucking shielding. You fucking whore shielding person! ;) KP 16/?":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 10 10 11 11 = 0 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Stand on one. Ally? You've got a mild case of glaucoma. +1 TN on all rolls."
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Hmm! Okie."

Weaving arcane energies, the Queen of the Tower exerts her considerable force here. One hand brings up a glass Christmas ornament of two children playing on a teeter-totter. She crushes the ornament, sending the magic coursing through her Channeling it, she lashes out with a powerful spell that mostly rebounds off Ally's shielding. Mostly. It's an Awkward place to be in, the place forced on her by the Marquis, but… what must be done must be done.

Shouldering the shot gun, sam looks to Ally. "You need to go. She may have the answers, but nothing is worth losing what you -have- for what you -once had-, Ally. Go now." He chambers a round with a single hand, pumping the shotgun with that unique sound that echos.

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
1 2 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 10
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Pistols + Combat Pool: 2 vs TN 5:
1 1 1 1 1 4 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Pistols + Combat Pool: 3 vs TN 8:
1 2 2 3 3 4 7 10 = 1 Success

The room is devoid of anyone other than you, Sam, and the quickly cooling corpse of the young girl. The decor provides few places to directly hide, with a few windows seeming to let light in and a large set of mirrors to give the room depth.

Aladriel feels herself hit by a spell, notices her vision blur a little bit. What the hell? She looks around rapidly…no sight of the Queen! All magic requires line of sight, for this there is no alternative. Then she sees it…mirrors? Could it be? She brings her Thunderbolt up and snaps off two quick shots to see if her hastily made theory is right. "Mirrors!" She yells to Sam.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 6 + 6 + 4 + 6 (Expendable Foci) vs TN 13 for "Power-bolt, S damage Code.":
1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 7 7 7 7 9 9 10 10 11 11 28 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 6 + 6 + 4 + 6 (Expendable Foci) - 1 vs TN 13 for "Power-bolt, S damage Code. KP 17/?":
1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 9 10 10 11 17 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 6 + 6 + 4 + 6 (Expendable Foci) - 2 vs TN 13 for "Power-bolt, S damage Code. KP 19/?":
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 10 10 11 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 6 + 6 + 4 + 6 (Expendable Foci) - 2 vs TN 13 for "Power-bolt, S damage Code. KP 22/?":
1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 = 0 Successes

Shit. The Queen narrows her eyes. Oh yes, the force is strong in this one. She brings her hands up, channeling the power of the Astral realm directly in to her hands. A ball of pure mana forms in front of her, then rushes outward to strike at Ally, slamming with force and fury in to the girls shields.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Initiative with a result of 20.
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Initiative with a result of 16.
«Watchfor» Jester (#10296) just disconnected from the game.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 for "+9":
1 3 4
«OOC» Johny says, "17. Queen moves on a 17."
«OOC» Johny says, "Free Action, activate cyber; Smartlink: Adjust choke."
«OOC» Johny says, "Simple action, fire round, shatter both mirrors."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Shotguns vs TN 2 for "Cause, well, they ain't moven, I got a smartlink and nothings fucking with my eyes.":
2 2 4 5 9 = 5 Successes

The shotgun in his hands reports loudly, the round now chambered. He, one handed, levels the shotgun at the remaining mirrors. The choke-meter rotates upward, giving a better spray, the overlay of his imagelink confirming the proper spread. THe gun then chacks before it KATHUDOOOMs (Its a real sound, look it up!), releasing a spray of pellets in to the two remaining mirrors. They shatter, sending a shower of glass sparkling down.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 6 (foci) + 9 (ally) + 4 (Power site) vs TN 4 for "Shadow!":
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 7 10 = 12 Successes

The glass around her shatters, bringing badness with it. Okay. That simply cannot be allowed. She rakes her hands through the air now, visible only for the split second as a figure behind the glass of Mirror Number 4. As her nails rip the air, they leave furrows of shadow that rapidly expand to fill the room.

+8 Normal Vision modifier. +4 for Samuel and Ally as they bring thermographic vision online

Enter the Marquess!

Her hunch was right! Then damnit, just like that the Queen throws Darkness through the room. Ally's left hand drops from her right and into her jacket to grab out her sunglasses and throw them onto her face. Perfect. The thermo-vision comes on, helping her a little bit…but not much. Cautious now, she does everything she can to fortify her magical defenses against this opponent…before she tries reason.

"Stop fighting us, Queen! You began this, we are only defending ourselves!"

""Your Tinman shot my servant!" Righteous indignation in her voice… ""She harmed no one! I offered you my hospitality! I broke bread with you, and this is how you repay?" Says she, her voice echoing from the place she had stood, but clearly no longer -at- the place she had stood.

"Bitch needed killing."

Aladriel slowly sweeps the room in her thermovision. She keeps stock of her surroundings and moves slowly towards a corner of the room that she tries to ascertain wouldn't lend itself to a secret trap door, slidey wall, or spike above her head that could be dropped upon her head.

"Your hospitality was offered, and we accepted! But Queen, it is *not* good hospitality to try to manipulate your guests. Even if innocently intended, your manner was seen as an attack upon him. He responded in the only way he knew how, he is not magical!"

The Queen's voice comes low… ""Were my servant not… resourceful in her own right, I would kill you both where you stand. I would shake the heavens to vent my wrath and neither of you would leave here alive. I demand -recompense- for this affrontery!"

Ally's free hand clenches tightly in a fist, the only visible sign of her anger. The gun that had been sweeping the room slowly lowers to her side…not so much out of relaxation, but the simple fact that holding it out any longer would make her arm start shaking from the strain of keeping it with a weight at extension.
Recompense? "Queen… I will need think on this, and what we can offer. I by all rights should be able to demand recompense for your abuse of he who is mine. But I do believe that was settled by him, himself. Your power is great and he did not know the nature of it, only that he was effected against his will. As…you know him from the past, can you not see how he would strike out in fear of your power?"

Sam slides closer to Ally, homing in on her voice and the faint thermographic readings from her body. She's got nice tits. Nice and warm, at least. He slides in front of her, trying to block any attack, mundane or magical, that may come. "Look, Shade." Says he, letting the tip of the gun raise in to an easy-carry. "Sorry about your kid. STAY the fuck OUT of my head. Those were the rules in St. Petersburg, those are the rules here. You never could understand that."

""Put your weapons away." Says she, a sigh escaping her lips… ""Old Habits die hard, I will admit… and it has been long since a magi of Aladriels power has been in these halls…"

Shade? Damn it. Ally really could have used some time to talk in private with Sam about all of this. Her gun is already lowered, so that helps. She turns it to the side, and in a smooth, well-practiced movement she ejects the clip from the gun, throw sit in a pocket, snaps open a pouch on her belt and it is almost immediately replaced. Then the pistol is holstered back on her hip.

"We appreciate the cessation of hostilities," Ally says firmly, as though not sure her voice will be heard if it's not loud enough.

Murmuring quietly to Ally, Johny comments… "This bitch has a serious problem with just peeking in to peoples minds, kiddo. She makes you as a kid look positively restrained."

"I can hear you without magic."

Tilting her head towards Johny, Ally furrows her brows a bit. Oh boy. She looks around in search of the Queen, noting immediately that the theatrics haven't ended.

"Please do come out. There's no harm meant from me. It's very simple what I want, and there's been no lie to my words, Queen. If you don't like our company and wish us to leave, you may well ask it. If it is to your liking, we… remain pleased to be with you, so long as we're not attacked, magically or physically. We're not threatening you or yours, we've arrived courteously and will leave just the same once you've helped me to your ability."

The darkness drops, pulling back in to the form of Queen Aries, sucking back in to her fingertips rather curiously, like pouring oil in to the air only in reverse. The girl stands next to her now, her head still sort of blasted open, but standing.

"The child says that it hurt."

Ally's eyes widen slightly behind her sunglasses as the darkness recedes and it reveals the Queen standing beside the girl who Aladriel was certain had been killed outright. She's suitably unsettled to see the child…in her current state.

"That's….not a very common thing. Not at all," she murmurs, raising her glasses to look more curiously at the girl, medical and magical curiosity coupling together.

Sam lowers the shotgun to rest over his shoulder now. "Fucken Shedim." He mutters, looking over to Ally. "Could see it when she brought the food in. Not as hot as she should'a been."

"Language, Viktor. Language."

"Shedim?" Ally asks, eyebrows creeping higher as she looks from the girl to the queen and then back. Very interesting indeed. "I'm at a loss," she says, pursing her lips as she looks at the two curiously as though trying to figure out exactly what she thinks of that revelation. "Doesn't really change anything, I s'pose."

"I will require time alone with Aladriel." says Aries now, looking directly at Samuel. "I give you my word on Marc's soul, rest him, that no harm will come to this girl in my home."

Sam seems to consider that. "Ai'ght."

Aladriel looks to Samuel, considering him for a long moment. Her book of questions for Sam is going to need an additon. But as he gives his assent, so does she. "I'll be fine," she tells him after a moment before she starts approaching the Queen and the girl, hands relaxed at her sides.

The Marquess enters the room, one unseen eyebrow raising on his face that does not exist. A powdered wig, a pair of eyes set in space, a set of blood red lips equally set so in nothingness, a blue tailcoat, ruffled cravatt and laced cuffs, he is quite the unusual image. "Mr. Rodinko." He says, bowing then… "Your room, south facing, is right this way. Little Cassy would be taking you, but, I would be loath to have her leak on the carpets."

The Marquess De S'comparsa

Sam eyes the new comer. And his lack of being. "Yeah." Time to change clips.

A new arrival gets a look from Aladriel, and then a stare. Her eyes squint a little bit as though if she looks hard enough she'll be able to see what…simply does not seem to be there. An over-the-shoulder look gets thrown to Sam. Jeez.

The Queen nods to the Marquess. "Aladriel Cindel, I present the Marquess De S'comparsa. A trusted man of my household, perhaps, the only man to hold my heart since dear Marc's passing."

The Marquess stops, looking to Ally with a slight smirk coming to his singular lips. "Charmed, I'm sure…"

It is so bizarre that Aladriel just lets herself respond, for if she doesn't she'll just stare and probably ask the…Marquess if she can poke, prod and dissect him. "Very nice to meet you, ah, sir…" she replies, again, trying not to stare.

Sam takes this in stride. "You were shorter the last time I saw you."

"I was much less than I was then. I am so much more now."

"ARn't we all. You still talk to much."

"How are the wife and kids? Still dead?"

The conversation sort of trails off as they exit the room and down the hall… leaving Ally alone, facing the Queen, who looks -none- to amused.

Aladriel watches Samuel and the Marquess head off and tries not to stare after them. It takes a real, strong effort on her part. Her eyes come round to the Queen, who's looking so…surly. Hm. Careful, she must be. "You wished to speak with me alone, Queen Aries," she reminds, gently, if n ot somewhat expectant.

Continued in My Kind of Town Part Two

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