My Kind Of Town Part 4
Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four

Part Three; Crescendo

During the day, Aladriel and her mother will engage in ritualistic cleansing, in preparation for the ritual that will be performed at the next cusp time, a new moon and at twilight; it just so happens that tonight -is- a new moon.

Lunch is served, with some vegetable like matter presented with a small sampling of meat dishes; mostly uncooked, but one or two cooked. The queen, her mien restored, will dine on a dish that looks to be some sort of lean muscle, just lightly seasoned and garnished with peppercorn.

The rest of the day is dedicated to preparation, Bathing, cleaning, sweating, bathing again, then drawing the proper runes on the body (The ritual is quite clearly in the nude, as to present ones self to the Goddess in the purity of soul and flesh), to bathe properly. It is almost like a Shamanistic ritual, the way its presented, the method of its preparation; despite the Hermetic bent the Queens magics take.

The sun hovers on the precipice of the horizon to the west, setting over Denver when the passion play resumes. Across the way, the forces against the Paladins gather to assault; Inside the white tower, beguiled and bewitched, the Daughter draws closer, while in the basement, the old warrior draws closer to his reward.

All in all, it's a bad day to be In Chicago.

The ritual takes place on the top level of the tower, the fog of the lake rising off its surface as it becomes warmer than the surrounding air. The city becomes deceptively peaceful as the mist winds its way between the buildings, snaking and concealing, hiding the worst of the scarring and wounds of the Shattergraves.

The top of the tower gives an expansive view of the area, light cast by the white tower itself giving the fog a soft glow that only adds to the beauty of the structure. Unheard by Aladriel, so high and behind the re-enforced glass of the octagonal room, windows to all sides, are the howls of ghouls as they rouse from their nocturnal slumbers, skittering out of the ruins to hunt whatever was unlucky enough to remain in their territory when sundown has come.

Standing in a simple white robe, shear and open to the front (revealing the massive claw-rent scars down her body), the Queen holds her hands up to Aladriel. "You come willingly unto me, Aladriel Cindel, you come with love in your heart." She says, in a tone that indicates ally should affirm these things in a formal fashion.

The day was a day full of hope. Excitement in a sense, but most definitely hope, for Aladriel. For is this works as it has been theorized, it means that she can take her mother home. Out of this place. Away from that awful, scary faceless creature. Home to meet her new family, her Kassandra, her Maya.
Even the hope, the excitement, and of course the nervousness isn't enough to make her eat meat, though. Let that be offered as much as Anya wants, but Ally won't be touching it in the slightest and its Ally's best effort to just try and not pay attention to Anya eating it.
Then it is time: the preparation, getting ready for this. The setup for the moment that she was hoping for so very much, the moment she had long thought was just foolish dreaming (even for her): she will be able to have her mother back again. Thankfully, with the nature of the ceremony, thankfully Ally isn't skittish being in her own skin. But now as she looks at her mother, her heart breaks at seeing the wounds on Anya's body, able to imagine (even though she doesn't want to) the terrible attack that has caused all of this…madness. This tragedy. And though the scars may not fade, there's the rest that Ally can do something about it.
"I come to you, my mother, with love in my heart, to bring you back to me and our family."

Standing in the area just outside the Council of Astendar's building, Marcus draws his pistol. Etched with Orichalcum, the gun glows on the astral plane. He looks down the street (So much as is left of it) to the approaching fog bank… then cocks his head to the Howls of the awakening masses. He exhales, breathing deep as he settles his Shielding about Kassandra and himself in equal measure… "Are you -totally- sure about this? We could go back inside… you know.. and wait for sun-RISE-.

Shaking her head, Kass has reclaimed her jacket, preparing herself mentally and physically for what is to come. She looks to Marcus and smiles softly, leaning over to hug the armoured mage.

"No, Marcus, now is the time. Right now, and not another minute longer." She isn't armed conventionally. Rather, the flute she was given is in her right hand, the instrument hidden in the folds of her overly large longcoat. Her left hand floats above the holster of the closest gun, the deadly spiritbusters loaded there. She nods to the Tower. "Let's go."

Marcus moves after her, glancing to the top of the tower, then back down its length. "I don't much care for this plan. But then, I don't much care for many things. I talk when I get nervous, did you know that? Sam once slapped me so hard I broke a tooth because I wouldn't shut up. I am chattering again. I'll be quiet now.." he says, one hand keeping the gun out and at the ready, looking around. He's not happy. No.

At the top of the tower, the woman in the white smiles… "You come to me, with love in your heart, to give unto me, that which is yours, with no reservations, Aldriel Cindel, to restore your mother to humanity.. The old ones hear you and approve…"

As if on que, light, bright and searing hot, fills the room, radiating out like a beacon from the windows, casting rays of light all around. "Do not be afraid." Murmurs Anya then, letting her robe slide to the floor, one hand straying for an athame. "With this blood, this unity, I reforge a bond that time severs…" She draws the blade down her forearm, not being gentle, letting the blood well up behind it, a thick, viscous black that oozes up from her skin, a high contrast to the pallid tone. She turns the blade then, wiping the blade across her belly, to clean the blood before offering the hilt to Aladriel…

Ally gasps as the light show takes over the room and raises her hand to shade her eyes, wincing despite herself. Her heart rate speeds up dramatically, and she takes a deep breath to try and slow it, letting it out slowly. As Anya raises the knife, Ally wants so very much to look away but her eyes are drawn to the sight. She makes a sound as the cut is made, her already fair skin starting to pale a bit more to see what her mother's blood has become.
Her breathing exercises do nothing to slow her heart, and she keeps trying. It doesn't stop her arm from shaking as she reaches out to take the blade and her hand shakes a bit further. She starts to say something, but stops, her arm shaking a little bit as the blade is poised to cut…though its high, and she's seeming to have trouble working up the courage to do this wound.

With determination, Kass moves towards the Tower. She smiles briefly to Marcus, almost laughing at his nervousness, his chatter. It reminds her of her Ally. Now, as she moves, she begins framing her mind for what she was told to do, what must be done, what she must do.

The walk gives her a chance to frame Samuel, frame Aladriel in her mind.

Samuel as he guides the flying craft of a forgotten age towards the lair of Mountainshadow. Armando as he dances. Johny Reb playing pool. Samuel on the pommel horse, moving through the growing darkness.

Thoughts of Aladriel storm her mind, filling her with happiness, warmth, love. Aladriel first thing in the morning, her hair mussed. Ally holding Maya as they play in the sweet grass around Thistlewood. A shy smile from a sweet girl just trying to get her attention. A look of pure love from across the room as they go about their day.

Holding all these feelings in her heart and mind, Kassandra Cindel steps towards the Tower of the White Queen, the flute held ready now.

Down below, the tower's topmost level erupts in to a light show, with beams of solid light radiating out like a crown of spikes. The howls grow louder, with skittering sounds from nearby as glass shifts under pain-deadened feet. Marcus takes that smile, curious as to the nature of the flute, but also knowing now is not the time. He spins, one foot as focus, the other for direction, his gun firing off two quick shots in to the growing dimness. A howl raises up and then a thud. "Now's the fucking time, honey!"

Kassie brings the flute to her lips, matching her lips to the red marks on the wood, her heart filled to overflowing. She takes a deep breath and has time to mutter one last thought before she plays, the desire of her heart soaring out as she lets go, takes that last step, falls off that last cliff …


"It's alright, Ally…" Murmurs Anya, her features blanched out entirely by the power of the light, leaving just her eyes and the faint red of her lips… "Make the cut. Make the bond… make it be like it was… "

Ally takes a deep breath and starts psyching herself up for this. She trembles. Ally was never a cutter, never really caused much physical harm to herself, nor was she typically harmed a lot. Holding this blade to her arm, she knows what she needs to do, and it's just the fear of the pain that will come from it that holds her. And the fear of what will happen, will it really work, will it bring her mother back to her.
"I'm sorry," she murmurs, taking a deep breath, her arms shaking harder than before. Looking up from the blade to look at her mother, Ally winces from the power of the light, quickly lowering her eyes. "That makes you look like your friend," she murmurs under her breath. It's with great focus that she tries not to raise the blade to make a cut, and still her hands shake. "If… if this was years ago I'd beg you to do it for me," she whimpers with a little squeak of laughter as she works hard to get it done, like a child afraid to pull the band-aid off.

She smiles, Anya does, sweetly, softly, her features slowly sliding out of the light, as you acclimatize to it. She leans forward, placing a kiss to Ally's forehead… "It's alright, Ally… Do it… Do it for me, Ally… I want to hold Maya in my arms… I want to meet your Kassandra… I need to -live- again…"

Ally lowers her head the moment she's kissed and it serves to reassure her. Maybe it won't be as bad? "And if it doesn't work… we don't even know what'll happen," she says softly, a powerful shudder shaking her frame as she thinks about it. It all seemed fine. She grasps some of the ideas behind it. But it's a science experiment and she stands to lose it all if it doesn't work. And if it does work… everything changes for the better.
"Okay…okay, I can do this."

Her lover's name escapes her lips like a prayer on the winds of Chicago, her last wish and if needs be, her last words. Her eyes closed, Aladriel's face before her, Kassandra touches her lips to the kiss-scored wood of the flute and begins to play. The elven girl has no skill in such things, she's hardly ever even held a musical instrument in her life. And now, now she tries not to control the instrument, not to overthink things as she all too often does.

She plays as she was told, with her passion, with her love. She tries to put into music, into notes, her love for Aladriel, what she sees in her and what she feels.

And then they charge. A hoard of Ghouls, smelling the beautiful scent that is Kassandra. Her scent is something that seeps in to the bones, seeps in to the soul, a sort of sandalwood, a hint of sin, a taste of virtue and the scent of an angels sigh.

And it smells like dinner. Nothing happens immediately as Kassandra plays but Marcus doesn't let that stop him. One, two, then four ghouls get picked off as they charge from all directions, all ways and every avenue. Like hunting cats, leaping the forms of overturned cars, pausing only to jostle for position as they move. "Come on come on come on…!" Growls Marcus, stepping closer to Kassandra. "ohshitohshitoshitoshit…."

The Queen steps back, only a half hitch, one hand resting on the girls wrist, the wrist holding the atheme… "Hurry… the sun is almost gone.."

Ally was afraid, as she so often gets. So many fears one has growing up in the world. Some that Anya was able to be there for. So many that she wasn't able to be. Now, that is what Ally is getting offered again. To be able to have her mother there for all of the trials of the future. Oh, she won't be needed for as many, Ally doesn't think. She has her Kassandra for that, now. But… the chance to see her mother meet her grandchild at Thistlewood. To have her mother see the sun again. To be free from this place. To have her mother at her wedding. It was all there for her, and all Ally needed was a little help from her mother, that reassurance. So she does it. Not as deep, not as hard, but she brings the blade down to pierce her skin.

Blood of the daughter flows… Rather than pooling over her skin, the blood, as one continuous, sinuous line, rises in to the air, drawn to meet with a likewise continuous line that now rises from Anya. Vibrant and bold, the red of life mixes with the cool, tepid dark brownish black of the dead… they mingle in the air like a helix, before merging in to one, a single spiral of mixing colors.

The flesh of the protector… "The flesh of the past, a burden accepted, the future beckons.." Says Anya, one hand reaching out, the un-cut arm, a pair of small morsel of food coming to her, a cube of red meat, colorful and moist. "With this flesh, I accept the future, and life.." She takes her morsel to her lips, ingesting it, then, in the same breath, raises the second to Ally's lips…

"Ahhh…" Says the Marquess as the building rumbles… "The ritual is progressing. The blood of the Daughter is split…" He looks down on Samuel, bound in the chair. "What? nothing witty to say? No cutting remark?" He smiles indulgently, one gloved hand coming to trace along the mans jaw… "Oh. Thats right. You can't talk. Mores the pity."

Gunfire, screaming, the sound of music. The sounds seem distant to Kass as she pours her heart into the song, into the playing. Ally's face shifts in her minds eye, laughing at her as they rush to get on the Karl Kombatmage ride at DisneyWorld. Her hair splayed across the pillow as she beckons to her from across the room. Her ferocity as they combat in the House of Horrors. Her whistle as they return from Florida, cutting across the room.

Tears flow unchecked down Kass's face as she plays her song of love, casting everything she is into the music, spinning the tale of Aladriel and Kassandra Cindel and their love, their life, their passion. The world seems to dim out, her eyes closed, her mind wrapped around the form and image that is her love.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 3 (Power focus) + Sorcery Pool: 4 for "Nova, TN is 4. Background count is negated by the flute of Astendar.":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 5 5 7 7 9 11
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 3 (Power focus) + Sorcery Pool: 4 vs TN 4 for "Nova, TN is 4. Background count is negated by the flute of Astendar.":
1 1 1 1 2 2 3 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 8 17 = 9 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Spell is force 8, Damage level is D. Drain is… wow. um. 5D+2"
«OOC» Johny says, "Don't try this at home, kids."
«OOC» Kassandra says, "momma!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (Power Focus) + 3 (Spell pool) vs TN 5 for "Need 12 successes.":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 5 7 8 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (Power Focus) + 3 (Spell pool) - 3 vs TN 5 for "Need 12 successes. KP 1/10 Really only need 10. Trauma dampener":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (Power Focus) + 3 (Spell pool) - 3 vs TN 5 for "Need 12 successes. KP 3/10 Really only need 10. Trauma dampener":
1 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 14 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (Power Focus) + 3 (Spell pool) - 6 vs TN 5 for "Need 12 successes. KP 6/10 Really only need 10. Trauma dampener":
2 2 2 3 5 5 5 7 = 4 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Trauma damp will eat the remaining L wound."

The ghouls are charging. Terror grips Marcus as he comes, for the first time in his life, in to a situation he has no control over. Even in Bagdad, he had Sam there, who was so supremely confident. There are simply to many monsters, and the night is young. Magic has been problematic, the interference so intense that it would make that so problematic, much less his inability to channel the mana effectively.

But then Kassandra plays. The flutes tones echo, reverberating back on themselves from walls and from the fog… An orchestra of complementary tones; calmness comes then. A sense of peace; of understanding. Love, that purest, most fundamental of emotions, washes over him. That feeling, in that moment, sharing, in Kassandra's love of Aladriel almost drives him to a further edge of despair, but it does not, not quite. It steels him, surrounds him, stands him up. His jaw sets..

"Close your eyes." he murmurs to Kassandra, one hand reaching out to touch her on the small of her back.

He tosses his head back, channeling the mana then, his body bursting in to incandescent light, a bubble that builds around him like a pressure wave. A soundless scream and the wave bursts outward, enveloping Kassandra harmlessly and then slamming over the the ground. Glass melts, asphalt burns and Ghouls scream in horror as the liquid sunlight pours over them. The front ranks dissolve in to ash, blown back by a nuclear blast, carrying it in to the others, skin peeling away, eyes burning out. The screaming is a horrid thing.

Up in the tower, the building shakes, rocked by a blast that shudders its foundations.

Aladriel's eyes go wide as the cut begins to bleed and the blood of mother and daughter join together in the air. What sort of magic is this? It…unlike anything Ally has ever seen, makes hope flood her heart. "It's working!" she gasps, her eyes wide as she watches the spiral above them.
"Is it working? Do you feel…" she stops, her smile faltering as she sees what Anya does, and even moreso when she sees a similiar cube of red meat being offered to her. She closes her mouth firmly and takes a half-step backwards. "Mm…nnnph," she almost talks but settles on keeping her mouth closed, her stomach lurching at the thought.
Then the building shakes and it makes Ally stumble, her eyes going wide in fear. Startled, she looks around, taking cautious steps towards the window. "Mother what was that? Is it the…darkness?" She didn't know she was needing rescue. Or that there was a rescue in process. All she knew was that she's never felt the building shake while she's in it.

The flesh of the protector! It must be eaten. Anya's features twist in pain as Ally steps back. "Ally! PLEASE!" She pleads, one hand rising to her belly, clenched in pain. "The sun is almost gone! Do not interrupt the ritual, or the mana lines will destabilize, bringing the tower down! Don't condemn me to death, Ally, we've come so far!"

The music pours out of Kassandra now, the sea of love she has been swimming in all these months spilling from her. She scarcely hears Marcus over the sound she creates, the music and emotion in her head and heart. She feels the faint touch on her body, the brilliant light causing her eyes to squeeze tighter closed. The shockwave rocks the tower, burns the ghouls around her and still she plays, her heart filled to bursting with her love.

The ghouls that live are savages; but not stupid. Cunning, feral, not sentient… but not stupid. They hang back now, as the light dies down, burned in their pitiful retinas. The light fades back to normal levels… and from the smoke step twelve forms, clad in the robes of the Order of Astendar.

They move slowly, almost melancholically, not quite walking, not quite floating. Hands up, they link themselves through lines of silibant mana, white, flexing, undulating tunnels of mana that reach from magi to magi to magi…

Ally's gaze is torn from where she'd started to approach to look out the window, brought about by the cry of the woman who gave her life. Hearing that pain, Ally looks at her mother and she stares in shock at the change, the pain and anguish that she sees in her mother's form. "I don't want you to die, I'm trying to save you," she gasps, hurrying back towards her mother, eying that…terrible meat. Goddess she doesn't want to eat that. "Is that the last part?" she asks quickly, knowing she probably won't be able to handle any more surprises.

Marcus slumps to his knees, hand trailing down Kassandras back to rest on her calf, head down, body covered in sweat. "Keep playing…" he murmurs, he says, leaning against Kassandra's leg then, one hand reaching for his pistol, eyes trying to refocus.

Poets and scholars, singers and sages, all have tried to quantify love. Thousands of words have tried to explain this most wonderful of feeling and trillions of nuyen are spent every year to capture this genie in a bottle and sell it to the masses.

None of that matters to the elven girl with the flute. She plays as she was bid, not sure what she is doing, no clear path before her, no great master stroke up her sleeve. She aches from playing, from hurting, from wanting to be with her love and so scared that she might not. She plays, letting every precious second of time she has spent with Aladriel rise up and become part of the complex melody; she is beyond thought now, beyond plans, beyond anything but the intensity of her connection to the cinnamon-haired mage on the Tower above her.

"That's it baby… Just this… this final bit, this final acceptance." Says Anya, her voice dropping in to a comforting tone, one hand reaching out to touch Ally's shoulder and guide her back from the window. "It's almost over baby… please… for mommy…" murmurs Anya now, raising the meat once again. She looks worried, pained, as the golden glow of the sun so far to the west is almost gone…

What choice does Ally have, in it all? A bit of her magic for the life of her mother. To get all of what she was missing in her family: the return of her mother to her life, to life itself. And to seal the deal, all she must do is eat a piece of raw meat. Damnit. Ally looks around….Kass isn't here. This one time it'll be okay. And maybe her own stomach will someday forgive her if it ever recovers from the trauma of what she has to do. "For you," Ally says bravely, stopping her breath from her nose so she doesn't have to taste anything as she opens her mouth to let the cube of meat get popped into her mouth. Part one, she's done. Now she just has to convince her throat to get it down.

Her chest burning from the effort of the unfamiliar breathing and playing, Kassandra keeps going, keeps playing. Her face is wet now, the tears falling freely as she remembers, relives, rejoyces in her life and love. So short, she marvels, and yet so intense. Has it only been a few short months that the pair have been together? Weeks since Florida. Hours since she felt Ally's breath on her skin, since she has smelled her perfume and sweat on the sheets.

Kassandra's life and love build, the song building to a crescendo, the trilling of the flute building in speed, the story not yet over. There is a promise of more, of a continuation; this *cannot* be the end, this cannot be where their love ends. The song builds faster and faster, the melody a complex intertwining of their lives as told in music, ending in a question, the last note lingering in the air.

Just as that crescendo breaks, like a wave falling forward, there comes a thunder clap. The magi who now surround the tower, twelve men and women united in death, despite differences in life, united in love despite the painful rending of their group that lead to their deaths, their lifes work ruined by the infection of a woman in to one of their own, stand firm. The mana snakes through them, their shades, their ghostly forms lit up from within with golden light.

And then the worlds merge… or at least it seems to. For that moment, the astral realm becomes visible to the persons outside, the tower clad in armored plating, thick wards that deflect even the hardest, most determined astral attack and prevent the outside from getting in. The light grows in intensity, spreading outward, moving with the music of the flute, working its trilling and notes in to its own being.

The armor of the building starts to crack, a fissure here, a dent there, until finally a section falls, astral armor crashing to the ground in a soundless shudder that shakes the building again. The windows of the upper floor where Aladriel and Anya stand nude, shatter, exploding outwards in to the streets, shards raining down (But not near Kassandra) to the ground.

The light from the room stutters once, twice, a heartbeat now, flickering… "EAT IT! GODDAMN IT EAT THE MEAT!" snarls Anya now, bringing her sorcery up to cast down at those below. "FINISH THE RITUAL!"

Of course…

Now that doesn't seem like a very good idea at ALL, as twelve individual beams of light lance upward, to intersect where Aladriel stands… all fog, all compulsion, all influence draining away. In that moment, the true understanding of the ritual's purpose comes crashing in to Ally's mind; it's not a cure; it's a transference. This spell, while sound, does not cure HMHVV - Kreiger.. it just shifts it to a willing sacrefice…

Do it. Just do it. It's one time. And then it'll be done. Just once. The building shakes around her and Aladriel doesn't know what is doing it or why. Never once does it occur to her what is happening outside. She did not know she needed to be rescued. What is attacking the tower? Is it her mother's magic fading, the outside forces trying to break in? Will it all be gone if she just eats it?

The windows crash and Aladriel gasps in surprise, instinctively trying to shield her face, then she flinches at the snarl from her mother. What is happening? Then at that moment, Aladriel's world becomes pure light and with it heat, both of which burn away the fog of magical manipulation. Sudden clarity fills her head and with a gasp she realizes what has almost happened. She brings her hand up to her mouth and plops out the piece of raw meat, flinging it away. She looks around with clear eyes and she tries to take stock of the situation that she's in, where she is, where she left her very important tools, and what she can do.

Down below, the massive oaken doors that bar the way in to the tower, shudder, falling open as the whole tower shakes, it's core under assault. The astral wards shatter entirely, spinning off in blocks of glowing astral energy that land like rubble throughout the Shattergraves before wisping away like so much dry ice.

The song is over, and Kassandra knows it, even as it leaves her. Not empty, not like she just gave something up, but just the opposite; it leaves her full, full of joy and love and the very things she poured in to her song. Around her, slight, translucent bluish glows form in to existance, shades and spirits of all ages, all meta-types… the ghosts of the graves. They don't look to Kassandra, they don't' acknowledge her or Marcus as the file past her, pouring in to the tower now.

Atop the tower, which is starting to sway a bit now, the White Queen sees what has happened… "Ungrateful child!" Calls the queen now, her lips pulling back in a hiss, her hands coming up to cast…

Aladriel does what she thinks is a pretty smart idea….she looks about for a very solid object that is about her size….so she can leap behind it and get out of sight of her raging mother. It's the best thing to do in such circumstances, even as she scrambles to think of where her sword is. Where her gun is. Damnit, she's naked!

"Mother stop! This is not you! I'm going to help you and find a real way. You love me and I love you and we can figure this out!"

Below, deep in the bowels of the tower, Sam's eyes come up to rest on the Marquess's own. He tries to laugh, a chuckle that starts from the bottom of his belly, then starts to reverberate through his body.

"Stop laughing, tinman… "

Sam does not oblige him, an inarticulate laugh coming louder now, like some sort of wounded, laughing beast.

"STOP IT! You've lost! I said stop it!"

The song ends and Kass's head clears, eyes opening to watch the astral destruction of the wards, the very defenses of the Tower shattering around them. The windows above explode, raining glass down everywhere but where they are, beams of light firing upwards towards .. what? Kassandra's forehead wrinkles a moment as she processes it all in a mindblink, the doors falling open before her.

"Marcus! We have to get to the roof!" She spares a glance to the mage, judging his level of exhaustion from his monumental spell and crosses the idea of being levitated out of her mind, moving at a dead run to following, to pass the spirits and shades entering the Tower. "Find Sam!" She gives a last final call as she takes off, augmented speed kicking in as the elven girl draws the pistol from her hip and charges in, looking for stairs.

Marcus grunts to his feet, moving quickly now. No time to rest; no time to relax. Work to be done. The song has filled him too, with a sense of purpose and power. He rushes in to the tower. Basement. Down. Where the hell…. whoa. This is nice place. The curtains match the carpets so very nicely. A good touch, really. He pauses, looking around, before he spots a staircase leading down. That, will be his goal now.

The Marquess, unsettled by the curious laughing man, backs up a step. "YOu won't be laughing for long, Tinman…" The marquess then fades from view, returning to the astral realm for the split second it takes him to travel the short distance to the staircase up to the tower…

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 (Skill) + 9 (Ally) + 6 (Spell pool) vs TN 8 for "powerbolt. The Queeen feels 'not so fresh'.":
1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 7 7 8 10 10 14 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 (Skill) + 9 (Ally) + 6 (Spell pool) - 4 vs TN 8 for "powerbolt. The Queeen feels 'not so fresh'. KP":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 5 5 7 8 11 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Stand on 6, power is S, force is 8"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls 6 (Shielding) + 5 (Spell Defense) vs TN 8 for "Shieldin like a…":
1 1 2 3 3 3 4 5 8 10 11 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls 6 (Shielding) + 5 (Spell Defense) - 3 vs TN 8 for "…something… KP…?/30":
5 5 5 5 5 7 7 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls 6 (Shielding) + 5 (Spell Defense) - 4 vs TN 8 for "…something… KP…6/30":
2 5 5 5 5 5 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls 6 (Shielding) + 5 (Spell Defense) - 5 vs TN 8 for "…last time… KP…9/30":
1 1 1 2 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls 6 (Shielding) + 5 (Spell Defense) - 5 vs TN 8 for "…LIED!… KP…13/30":
1 1 1 3 4 14 = 1 Success
The spell is successfully sheilded

The Queen doesn't hear the words. She doesn't need Aladriel, the ungrateful bitch. The whore of Denver; who left her here for a decade! No, there is another, one who is young, one who can be molded. Who she can take her TIME with… She brings her hands up, mana coalessing about her fingers to strike out, power slamming out to hit Aladriel…

Ally has nowhere to hide, she tries to, but there's really simply nowhere to go. Damnit! She turns to look at her mother just as she gets hit full on by the brute force of a spell that would do her deathly harm. She puts her hands up and she grits her teeth as the spell crashes into her and cries out as her magical fortitude goes up against her mother's own! And…in that instant that feels like an eternity, the spell washes out over Ally's shields and breaks off, leaving her unharmed.

Kassandra is flying. She isn't very big, or very strong, or as smart as many people but she is *fast*. Empowered by the return from the song, full of love for Ally and worry for her as well, she takes stairs two or more at a time as she continues to build speed. A blur of blue and black now the elven girl narrows her eyes, thoughts flowing through her: the top of the Council building was special, so it stands to reason that this Tower was built with the same idea. Well, that and the windows blowing out, the beams of energy .. it all seems to make sense.

Kassie builds speed, taking every short cut and promising her abused body that she will make it up to it, praying that she is in time, Kassandra mounts the stairs.

Silk rounds the stairs, taking them two at a time, indeed, but there, standing on one of the landings, a blade drawn, a snarl on his lips… is the Marquis S'comparsa.. "Come to fetch your whore? Oh, its far to late for that, Kassandra Cindel… You've come to your death." He steps one step down, his poise every bit the renaissance nobleman, blade at the ready. "I will enjoy tasting your soul…"

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Sorcery vs TN 8 for "F9 Stunbolt, S Damage":
1 1 2 4 4 5 10 17 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "A h ah ah."
«OOC» Johny says, "Sheilding of 5 on the Queen. Thats TN 13. One success."
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Doh!"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Ok"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Willpower vs TN 4 for "Resisting S Drain":
1 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 9 9 9 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 5 (Shielding) vs TN 9 for "Need One.":
1 1 3 3 3 3 4 5 5 8 11 11 16 = 3 Successes
The Queen Shields against the spell succssfully

«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls 5 (chip) + 1 (custom) + 1 (EA) + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 2 for "Point blank range, he is ugly, no light mods. Base damage 12S (Burst Fire, 9M Base) Spiritbusters. TN 5 to dodge.":
1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 10 = 11 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 vs TN 5 for "… Foul play?":
3 3 4 5 5 5 5 15 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 - 5 vs TN 5 for "… Foul play? KP 1/10":
2 2 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 vs TN 10 for "2 armor for clothes. He's never encountered bullets that can hurt him before.":
1 3 4 4 4 5 5 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 - 1 vs TN 10 for "2 armor for clothes. He's never encountered bullets that can hurt him before. KP 2/10":
1 2 2 5 5 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 - 1 vs TN 10 for "2 armor for clothes. He's never encountered bullets that can hurt him before. KP 4/10":
2 2 2 3 4 4 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 - 2 vs TN 10 for "2 armor for clothes. He's never encountered bullets that can hurt him before. KP 7/10":
1 2 4 4 4 8 = 0 Successes
Dead Free Spirit, The Marquis is down

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 4 (Spell pool) vs TN 8 for "No Ally! No power focus! No power site! Shits about to go bad!":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 5 5 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 4 (Spell pool) - 1 vs TN 8 for "No Ally! No power focus! No power site! Shits about to go bad! KP 5/?":
1 1 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 7 17 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 4 (Spell pool) - 2 vs TN 8 for "No Ally! No power focus! No power site! Shits about to go bad! KP 7/?":
1 1 1 3 3 3 5 5 7 10 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 4 (Spell pool) - 4 vs TN 8 for "No Ally! No power focus! No power site! Shits about to go bad! KP 10/?":
1 1 2 4 4 5 10 11 13 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls 6 (Shielding) vs TN 8 for "Shieldin":
1 1 2 3 4 7 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls 6 (Shielding) vs TN 8 for "Shieldin KP 14":
3 4 4 5 8 11 = 2 Successes
Ally shields against the Queens spell successfully
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 for "Will":
1 1 2 4 4 4 5 9
The Queen is able to gain her own senses for the moment
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 vs TN 4 for "Improved invisibility, bitches!":
1 1 2 3 3 4 4 4 11 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 - 4 vs TN 4 for "Improved invisibility, bitches! KP 11/?":
1 2 3 5 5 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 - 6 vs TN 4 for "Improved invisibility, bitches! KP 13/?":
2 3 4 = 1 Success
Queen stands on 7 successes for imp invisibiliuty, Force 6
«OOC» Johny says, "Gimme a perception check, Ally"
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
1 2 4 4 5 5 5 7 8 11
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 4 for "Stealthy stealthsalot":
1 1 2 4

Gritting her teeth, Aladriel glares at her mother and throws a spell of her own, "Mother, don't make me fight you! Stop, please stop!" she pleads with her mother, even as she throws a tremendous-force spell at the woman.

The ghoul queen's hands raise, battering the spell aside like it was nothing, a hiss on her lips. "USELESS! USELESS CHILD! YOU RUINED EVERYTHING!" She advances on Ally, raising her hands to return a spell for spell…

One more time, the Queen lashes out, her fingers coalescing with the lightening like energy that would be so very apropos in another movie. She snarls again, lashing the energy outward.

Mother and daughter trade spells and its a marked contrast at what's being thrown, with the mother throwing spells that can bring death to the daughter, and the daughter throwing spells that can't possibly bring death! The two go at it fiercely, with each's shielding deflecting the spells of the other! "Please stop…" Ally pleads, the words more a whimper as she looks at the woman who brought her life trying now to end it.

Kass bounces into a wall and comes to a halt as she spots the faceless dandy with a sword. She isn't the sort for pithy phrases and catchy lines like 'stick around' or 'hasta la vista'. Indeed, most people would know her as a mostly taciturn girl who seldom speaks, seldom rises to the bait of insults. She raises an eyebrow as the man speaks her name, but her eyes go utterly cold when he calls Aladriel a whore. She raises the Savalette, the golden clip winking in the light.

"Fuck you." The gun barks, sending thousands of nuyen of enchanted metal his direction at the speed of sound, the gun chattering in the stairwell, the barking blasts unmuffled, unsuppressed.

It's a look of shock, surprise and even, dare we say, horror, on his features when the Marquess feels the bullets slam in to his torso, three quick shots that register as pain. He raises one hand to his chest, gloved fingers coming away black with ichor and smoking… "I… but…" he slumps back, staggering… "Oh.. I shall return…"

And then his form simply whisps out of existence, his clothing falling to the ground in a clump.

Not bothering to revel in the discorporation of the Faceless One, Kass just pushes off the wall and leaps over the clothing of the Marquess before her adrenaline level drops, pushing herself up the stairs towards where she can hear the sound of voices, the whistling of the wind, the static discharge of energy attacks.

The woman, the Ghoul, Anya Cindel pauses a moment, feeling the death/discorporation of the Marquis wash over her. She staggers back, staring at Aladriel with wide, black and pupiless eyes. The boots on the stairway draw her attention… "I'm so sorry." She murmurs, the hissing whisper filling the room despite the cold wind now blowing through from the water front blocks away… Then she fades from view, mana wrapping her in a cloak of the unseen.

Aladriel looks towards the stairs at having heard gunshots and then looks back towards Anya in time to see her stagger. Despite everything, concern hits her eyes at seeing her mother staggering, not knowing why, not knowing what has happened. And then Anya disappears. "NO!" she screams, "Don't go! I…." damnit, she'll do it. She throws herself into looking in the astral. Because you can't hide there.

Fluttering Ashes

A few more steps and she is there. Kass launches herself into the room, hitting the floor in a shoulder roll and coming to a knee. The pistols sweeps quickly, seeking a target as the elven girl scans the room, her eyes falling on Aladriel. Her heart skips a beat, then another, eyes widening as she sees the naked mage. She whispers, "Ally?" as if not believing that she has found her at last.

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Give me my helmet.

Marcus stares at the man, gingerly setting the cuffs he just removed to the side. "You need medical attention, Sam…"

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Give me my helmet.

Marcus looks back to Sam then. "Sam. You need -attention- and you need it now."

Nacht raises slowly from the chair, unsteady. His hand, the false right, braces him, as he looks down to the real-left. The flesh is peeled away, revealing tendon and bone, but Sam doesn't pay it much mind as he slides his gauntlet in to place over the missing flesh. He hisses quietly…

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Give me my helmet. This is no condition for them to see me in. I know very well the extensiveness of the damage, Marcus. If you do not give me my helmet, I will get it myself. Keep your mouth -shut-, do you understand?

Marcus hands the man his helmet, watching as Sam settles it in to place with a click of armor locks engaging. "I don't think I can do that, Sam… you have no idea how hard Kassandra worked to get here…"

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Keep her away from me. I'll see you back in Denver in a week… maybe more.

Ally checks the Astral plane, shifting her vision… and for the moment, the astral plane is fairly calm. Perhaps its the residual effects of whats happened, but the screams are… gone. No screaming. No driving astral wind. It's easy to see Anya as she drifts down from the spire, near the ground now, moving off in to the darkness.

Ally looks around the room frantically, looking for her mother… and then she's gone. She's not in the tower! That means…. rushing to the shattered windows, Ally looks down and there she is. "Mother! Stop! Please!" Tears fill her eyes as she looks after the woman and she looks ready to throw herself off of tower in pursuit of her when….

"Kassie?" Ally blinks her eyes and turns, looking over her shoulder, unwilling to believe at first that it could really be her there. But she was already looking in the astral, and just one look shows her that it is Kassandra's aura. It really is her. So much races through her in that moment that all the words fail, and the only thing that makes it out is a sob, as all the pieces fall apart.

Kassie rises as Ally rushes to the window, looking confused. She seems set to charge after her, even if that means leaping off the Tower when Aladriel stops and turns. Moving quickly, Kassie's words are a rush, her throat raw from crying and playing and screaming and more crying. "Ally!!!!" She moves to her love, her life, her world, moving to embrace her and move her from the window.

The stress of everything that has happened to her, having just kept her mother from killing her, and now, watching her mother float away into the darkness, leaving her behind, there's so much that pours out of Aladriel. The sort of sobs that just aren't pleasant to hear and are just painful to see. She clings to Kassandra like a lifeline, still unable to find words, abandoned by old family yet rescued, now, by new.

Kass holds Ally, her own tears falling freely now. The hours of worry, of depression, of self-doubt fade at the touch. She shhs quietly, holding her close and letting her cry, her words soft, "I found you, I found you love and I'll never let you go now. It's alright now, it is going to be all right."

One hand leaves the mage for just a moment, vanishing under her jacket and into the satchel at her side. A little world-weary, a little tired, Mr. Froggy appears in Kass's hand, "Please Ally, you have to come with me, you have to help me bring this back to Maya. I can't do it by myself, please .."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 3 (Power Foci) for "Megakinisis, F 1":
1 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 7 10 10
«OOC» Johny says, "8"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + Sorcery Pool: 6 vs TN 3 for "D":
1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 7 9 9 11 = 7 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Soaksed"

Marcus stares rather agape as Sam tries to shoulder his backpack, but fails, stumbling down to one knee. "Sam… will you just… wait? I have to go check on Ally and Kass… I don't know whats going on there."

Commlink-«<Nacht»> I cannot be here.

"Well fuck you and your can't! You have no fucking idea what we went throgh to get here, so you're going to fucking well sit your ass down and WAIT!"

Sam's helmeted face turns to Marcus. Someone's about to get force-choked.

Marcus though, he learns! His hands slide out, the backpack lifting in to the air, along with Sam himself. "Ah! Uh uh. You'll thank me for this later."

To Aladriel, Kassandra has just done magic. Holding onto the elf as tightly as she possibly can, sobbing uncontrollably, she just hears Kass's soft words but doesn't really understand them. She just knows comfort. But the magic comes when before her eyes is the green cuddler called Mr. Froggy. Such a silly name. But it has a wonderful effect. Because it makes Ally think about Maya. And of home. And Kassandra, who she's already holding.

Ally has to let go of Kassandra to reach out to touch the frog stuffed to make sure it is real and then she grabs it and squeezes it tight to her chest, her sobs subsiding a little bit, leaving her with wracked breathing as her body tries to recover.

Commlink-Beta> "Silk?"

As Ally embraces the frog, Kass hits the release catches on her pack, dropping it on the ground. She'll swing quickly out of her longcoat, wrapping it around the naked woman to give her a measure of protection, of warmth. "Ally, love, we have to find Sam and Marcus, we have to get out of here." She breaks off as her comm chirps.

Commlink-«Silk» "Marcus? Are you all right?"

Commlink-Beta> "If I don't get some back up, soon, I won't be."

Commlink-«Silk» "10-4. Opposition?" Thankfully, the transducer saves Kass's throat from having to speak, the mental words send out quickly as she lets Ally cry, her mind returning to Combat Mode. They are not safe, they are not clear, they are not Safe.

"Sword," Ally says simply, the second word she manages to get out since being found by her love. She is wrapped easily in the coat, for she can stand on her own just fine. Just, at the moment, she's not functioning very well. Holding onto the frog when Kass is dressing her.

Commlink-Beta> "Sam. He's not good."

Commlink-«Silk» "On my way." Kass sends the message, eyes scanning the room. No swords here. She frets, shaking her head at Aladriel. "Not in here? Where else were you, love?"

Without her radio, Ally doesn't know anything that's going on. Sam? He left her. She just has her Kass and Mr. Froggy. But the word 'sword' helped her. Reminds her that she can talk. Can function a little bit, even in what must surely be shock. "Down…farther down," she says softly, before looking at Kass as though just seeing her for real.

Commlink-(Geist): I am going to kill you.

Commlink-Beta> Johny says, "Well. You're going to have to get to me first…"

Kass looks to Ally, really looks at her. She wavers, her bottom lip quivering a moment. She pushes it all down, all back. She has her love, she has her life. She can do anything. Kass takes a breath, reaching to take Ally's hand with her right hand, the left still holding the Savalette. Should Ally choose there are at least six bladed weapons and an assortment of pistols within reach. She tugs, "Follow me." The blue-clad elf starts back into the hallway and to the stairs, gun at ready.

Commlink-(Geist): Marcus, do not do this to me. Please. I can not face her like this.

Commlink-«Silk» "On our way. Retrieving gear. One enemy down, faceless spirit-type, discorporated. Queen no where in sight, believe she booked."

Commlink-Beta> Johny says, "Copy. I can't really hold him much longer. He's stronger than he looks, you know. Heavier too. And, did I mention scary? He's very scary. I've got him away from guns and other throwy things, but I dont know know. Did I mention scary?"

Commlink-«Silk» "Channel?"

Commlink-«Silk» "Is he on comms?"

Commlink-Beta> Johny says, "He is. He's been private-comming me. He can hear you."

Commlink-«Silk» "Gei .. Sam. We are on our way. Please, calm down, we are on our way."

Commlink-(Geist): (Public): I am exceedingly calm.

Johny's transmissions have that muted, flat tone that transduced thoughts carry, but thats nothing new.

Aladriel lets Kassandra take her hand and she's led. Body functions…fairly well. Not moving super-quick or super fast, especially not compared to the elf. But she is moving easily enough, one hand in Kassandra's, the other wrapped around Mr. Froggy

Commlink-«Silk» "We got your messages. You never taught us morse!" Kass tries to distract the man now.

Commlink-(Geist): I never taught you to wipe your ass, either, but you still can.

Commlink-(Geist): Tell Marcus to let me down. I really need to be going now.

Kass keeps up the mental conversation, moving at Aladriel's speed, keeping her own reaction speed and movement speed at at level the other can keep up with. To the landing, the stairs, the gun panning eagerly for any new targets, her own eyes moving from fore to aft and then back to Aladriel. She casually kicks the door open to the bedroom Ally indicates, sweeping them both inside.

Commlink-«Silk» "Negative. You were compromised, you said. That puts me in charge. You are coming home with me, with Ally, and with Marcus. I am not leaving you behind, and I am not letting you go roam in the fucking Shattergraves."

Commlink-Beta> "See Sam? I'm just following orders; like you taught me."

Commlink-(Geist): My orders were to stay away from me.

Commlink-Beta> Johny says, "Lucky for you, you're not the primary on this mission, else your orders would matter."

Ally's clothes. Her armor. Her things. There is no smile or any such thing when she sees them…but she does go to her things and gets dressed in a sort of mechanical way. It's just…routine. Her face is full of the tears that she's already shed, and full of the promise of more to come, but for the moment they aren't falling.

Kass holds it together; she has to right now, there is time for a breakdown later. Aladriel is depending on her, Ally is here and Ally needs to be taken home, away from this awful place. Kass waits with an almost crackling nervous energy, running low on endurance, low on sleep, her eyes moving from the door to Aladriel and back again. She keeps watch, staying within arm's length of the mage and no farther, giving her room to dress.

Commlink-«Silk» "Your orders are a secondary concern, Sam, and you know it. My op, my rules. It is time to go."

Commlink-(Geist): I am currently incapable of 'going'. I was attempting that before Marcus stopped me.

Commlink-Beta> "I'll bring him upstairs."

Commlink-«Silk» "Then we will carry you. We will rig a wagon, we will throw you over our shoulder."

Marcus then starts moving himself back up stairs, Sam and his baggage, real and metaphorical, floating in the air behind him. He returns to the front entry way, where the doors are blasted down, the furniture askew.

Commlink-Beta> "Thats not exactly the issue. You'll see when you get down here."

Aladriel gets dressed just like she was when she started out this journey. So many weapons. So much armor. She doesn't have a scratch on her. She didn't fire a single shot or cut anyone (other than herself). And still…. from how she looks, it's clear that the weapons and the armor didn't protect her. Once she's done getting ready she doesn't just leave. She goes to the closet of her room and looks inside…reaching out to touch some of the dresses and gowns inside. She takes one. And then another. And another. Kind of bunching them beneath her arms as best she can. When her arms are full she looks back to Kassandra and goes to her.

Kass looks to Ally as she dresses, then as she goes to the closet. She doesn't interrupt, doesn't chide her for taking anything. She waits, and when the other is ready she retrieves her coat (since Ally has hers), shrugging it on. She looks at the dresses and then at Ally, wordlessly dumping the contents of her backpack out and offering the space for the dresses. One way or another they are secured, "Are you ready, love?"

Commlink-«Silk» "Affirmative. Almost ready."

Ally watches Kass open her backpack and she stuffs the dresses within without a word. "Thank you," she murmurs to the elf before she looks around the room again, looking for anything else that she can take. Have. Then she nods to Kassandra, filling her hands with Mr. Froggy but otherwise unburdened.

Commlink-(Geist): This is rather ill dignified. Set me down… and I will not leave.

Commlink-Beta> "Should I set him down, Silk?"

Kass accepts the burden of the backpack, tightening the straps and then drawing her pistol again. She nods, reaching for Ally's hand again, no gloves still, and moves to lead her downstairs.

Commlink-«Silk» "Not till I am there."

Commlink-Beta> Johny says, "Confirmed."

Heading downstairs, Marcus is smoking a cigarette, seated on a nice plush chair, his feet up on Sam's backpack. Sam is currently hanging in the air next to him, dressed head to toe in combat armor, arms held to the side, legs slightly spread; almost crucified in the air. His faceplate is down, but he's not engaged the ruthenium systems. Just hanging there.

Kass looks tired, emotionally and physically worn down. Her eyes go to to Samuel hanging in the air and to Marcus, noting the closed faceplate. Her voice comes out now, rough from misuse, from crying and sobbing and screaming, "Can we go home now?" She tightens her hand on Aladriel's, pulling her closer but refraining from other contact at the moment; still in enemy territory, and this brief respite may not last.

Marcus nods, standing up and bringing the backpack back in to the air. "As soon as we can get clear of the buildings, I can bring Mustang Alpha back out to get us…"

Aladriel trails down the stairs after Kassandra, letting the elf lead her along. She sees Marcus and doesn't really react to him. If Kass looks bad….Ally's much worse, not redeemed by the natural beauty that the elf's got her beat in. Her eyes roam up to the armored-figure being held suspended in the air and…just looks at him. Faceplate down, there's no recognition in her eyes and contrary to her normal self, there's no questions or curiosity. Then…just like that, abruptly, Ally pulls her hand free from Kassandra's, turns and starts racing up the stairs the way they came. To the floor they just came from.

"Ally!" Kass spins as Aladriel pulls free, moving hot on her heels. She simply follows, not trying to run her down or tackle her or anything so melodramatic. She simply follows, fatigue starting to burn in her thighs as she runs.

Once back up on the floor they'd just come from, Ally stops running. But she's moving with purpose, going past the room where her clothes were found. Looking around, now, through different doors. Opening some. Dismissing others. Very clearly looking for something, and easy for Kass to catch up with.

Kass looks confused, watching Ally open and close doors. She keeps up with her, gun still at ready, "Ally? What are we looking for, baby?"

Ally stops moving nearly as fast and looks back to Kassandra. Recognizing her, connecting her to the good things that will be needed to chase away the bad. A hand extends out for Kass's. "Her room," Ally answers, an immense sort of sadness in her eyes as she will do the leading now, to find the room where she thinks her mother may have dwelled these long years.

It doesn't take long to find the room Ally is looking for. For all appearances, the tower is not a large one. The room, the Quarters of the Queen, are an odd thing. Not the opulence one might expect, they are bare stone walls that have been covered in chalk drawings. Faces, places, people, things. Some of them Ally may dimly recognize as Marc Snowdown, who the faceless one said was her father… some she may recognize as herself in various stages of life; from a child, then moving along the wall to grow older, until adulthood. Places in Seattle, a cathedral in Saint Petersburg, the sunset. All things denied her.

Commlink-(Geist): I'd really like to at least not hang in the air. It's uncomfortable.

Commlink-(Geist): I'm not asking much.

There's a long pause. Exceedingly long for Samuel's rapid-pace of thought.

Commlink-(Geist): For you.

Commlink-«Silk» "Let him down, Marcus."

Marcus lets the other man down with an exhale of breath like he had been holding it forever… "Jesus, your heavy…"

Commlink-(Geist): I'm in no mood for jokes.

Inside of Anya's room, Aladriel starts to cry, not sob, but cry. It's nearly soundless, just tears rolling down her cheeks as she walks into the room, looking around. Seeing pictures of herself. A picture of a man who may be her father. She looks at that one for a good long time.

Then Ally starts to look around for something…and in short order she finds it. A piece of chalk. She goes over to the wall….looks for a place prominent enough but not overly large. For a moment she just stops…and then she starts to write.

Kass watches Ally, wanting to go to her but knowing that she is doing something important to her. She holsters the pistol, rubbing at her eyes as she watches the mage write. She stays back, watching the door, watching the writing. She starts to shake a little, muscles protesting the recent activity.

For as little that is written, it takes Aladriel a time to do it. When its done she just drops the chalk and turns back to Kassandra. The tears are done and it just leaves her face tear-soaked anew. "Ready," Ally tells her love, going to her, taking her hand. It's done now, and she'll be led back down the stairs without further diversion.

Left behind in chalk on the stone walls
I will help you. I forgive you. I love you.

Back down stairs, Sam has his back to the stairs the women went up, his faceplate up and a cigarette being smoked. When the girls come back down, his cigarette is discarded, the face plate coming back down.

Kass takes Ally's hand, nodding quietly to her. She looks to the words on the wall, then to Aladriel. She moves to escort her back down, back to Sam and Marcus, back the way they have come. She doesn't rush this time, but doesn't dawdle either. She looks to Ally as they come down the stairs, looking as if she wants to say something but keeps silent, eyes going to the men. "Let's get out of here."

Commlink-(Geist): Agreed.

Marcus grins. "Yeah. Lets get out of here." he says, moving to pick up Sam's backpack and heft it himself.

Ally remains wordless and one may wonder if she'll be any use at all if anything happens as they leave. She doesn't bother telling anyone that she's shielding herself and Kassandra. She just does it instinctively, barely aware she's doing it herself. Just ready to…leave this behind. What she can, at least.

Commlink-(Geist): How is she?

Commlink-«Silk» "I don't know. Shocky. Alive." Kass's mental voice is terse, even for a transduced radio.

Commlink-(Geist): Tell her I'm sorry.

Marcus glances between Sam and Kassandra, eyeing the pair of them. He starts to drop back just a hair, to be in a better position.

Kass lets out a little puff of breath, forcing herself to focus. "All right. Let's get to clear ground and get the chopper here." She looks to Ally, leaning in to quietly murmur something to her.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Willpower:
2 4 4 4 5 11

Commlink-«Silk» "I don't understand." Kass remarks via the radio, "Why can't you tell her?"

Johny comes to a stop for a moment, his fists clenching in to balls… After a moment, he moves forward again.

Commlink-(Geist): Because I don't have a tongue, Kassandra.

Ally leans against Kassandra as the elf murmurs to her and Ally wraps both arms about her, hugging her tightly, fiercely…if not for the armor it'd probably be even more painful.

Marcus pauses when Sam does, one hand moving instinctively to his pistol.

Kass comes to a stop, her face paling as the image and words hits her. The world slips out of focus a moment before she can correct it, her arms going to Ally now. Tear start to roll down her face again, her breathing accelerating. She squeezes the woman and then nods, "Move out, people." Her words are quiet, her voice torn.

Stepping out of the tower, the area is is quiet. No light. No music. Just the smell of charred ghouls, the occasional moan of an injured but not quite dead one. Sam's faceplate swings to look over to the pair of them, the women, nodding once, before he takes off in to the air, straight up.

Commlink-(Geist): I will bring the chopper.

Aladriel looks around the street, at night, looking for things. Looking for someone. Is she out there? Ally looks as hard as she can, every which way, gaze sweeping slowly, steadily, and there's nothing there for her. With nothing there…she squeezes Kass again and stops looking. Just waiting.

Kass watches Sam jet off into the air, letting out a small sigh. She doesn't stray from Aladriel, eyes scanning the darkness. Her free hand touches the flute in her satchel as she looks over the destruction and singed area, murmuring, "Thank you." She directs the words into the night, towards the Council Building and perhaps farther.

She looks now to the mage, moving to wrap her arms around her, "I found you." She is quiet after that.

Marcus swallows, his eyes scanning over the area, on guard for the women. Sam continues to climb, eventually hitting a hight where he can access the matrix, then communication networks, then his helicopter. A map download follows. It's strangely normal, reassuring for him. Perspective helps. He slowly comes back down to their level.

Commlink-(Geist): The Helicopter is on the way.

Commlink-«Silk» "Affirmative."

Murmuring to Ally, Marcus says… "Sam says the helicopter is on its way…"

Aladriel looks at Kassandra, the darkness in the shadow of the White Tower serving to make it so dull that Ally's eyes don't even glow like they normally do. Very reflective of just how she is right now. "I know," she tells Kass. Marcus' words get Ally to look towards him and its an odd sort of look. Like she really didn't get what he just said.

Marcus looks to Kassandra, then to Ally… then reaches for a cigarette.

Sam comes back down, not quite touching down, just hovering in the air, his feet inches off the ground. It seems easier than actually trying to stand.

Kass moves until she is in front of Aladriel, reaching up slowly and carefully to take her face in her hands, looking directly into her eyes. "Aladriel. It is me, ok? I am really here, and I am really taking you home. Marcus is here. Samuel is here. We are all leaving." She lets her hands slide off her face then, moving to hold her lightly.

A few moments later, the heavy rotor beat of Mustang Alpha, the massive helicopter that answers to Sam like a puppy, can be heard making its way through the steel canyons of what is left of Chicago. Spotlights snap on, illuminating the landing zone as it slowly comes in.

Ally doesn't look away when Kassandra grasps her face. There's no fear in her eyes…that's buried too deeply away. Just trauma and sadness. Not hope. Not so many of the things that make her, her. But she knows that Kassandra's real. That this part is real. "Thank you for coming to get me," she forces out, then lowering her eyes as the helicopter approaches, keeping her head low to avoid the spots.

Johny steps closer to ally, his left hand coming up, moving through a series of gestures that may (or, at the moment may not) make sense to Ally.

Kass's expression dies a little at the loss of the sparkle in Ally's eyes, the trauma, the sadness. She swallows, keeping an iron grip on herself right now. Every second she feels herself slipping, eyes eyes drifting away a moment. She nods to the thanks, tightening her grip for just a moment. She doesn't trust herself to speak, just nodding again.

You whisper "I am sorry; I failed you. I love you. (Sign Language)" to Aladriel.

Aladriel is made to look at Sam when he steps close. Her eyes track the movements of his hands and when they're done she's crying again, a little bit, and she shakes her head to him. To those words. Words of her own are insufficient now, her body not yet up to the task of saying everything that she wants to. Needs to. The thoughts come but even those are distant. Surrounded by a deep sort of numbness that makes everything harder.

But its okay. The Helicopter lands, a safe haven against the world around them, a ride home, a place of security. After everyone is aboard, it rises back in to the air, answering Sam's unspoken but transmitted mental commands.

Kass stands quietly, holding Aladriel's hand and looking quietly into the distance until the chopper lands, allowing them access. She looks like she wants to cry and can't, looks like she wants to talk and can't find the words, looks like she wants to console Aladriel but doesn't know how. So she sits next to her, holds her hand, and hopes that is enough, for now.

Inside the helicopter, Aladriel will pretty much pass out, her body surrendering to exhaustion. But not before she looks down over the shrinking city beneath them, looking out there, searching until there is nothing but a sea of darkness with nothing else able to be discerned. Then, looking about the cabin, Ally's eyes settle back onto Kassandra. No words, still, but little things have to be enough. She scoots closer to the elf and then leans against her, nestling into the woman's arms as best she can, using her shoulder for a head rest. Then…the sleep will claim her. She'll be able to be awakened if need be, but for the trip, she'll prove very poor company.

Kass will discard anything that is between her and Aladriel, holding her carefully as if she would vanish in a puff of smoke if she did otherwise. She'll probably be awake a bit longer than Ally, struggling to maintain some sort of watch before her own heartache and exhaustion claim her and she joins Ally in rest.

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