My Kind Of Town Part 3
Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four

Part Two Continued

To Chicago

Kass clicks the phone closed, mentioning to Marcus, "Got wheels waiting for us at the Floating Market, girl selling trinkets named Rachell." She considers the phone a moment, then tucks it away. "Alright. That takes care of that. Car, flight, guns, ammo, tricks. We have .. just about everything we can do, I think."

He nods, pulling the car in to a hanger on McCarron field. "You're damn good at what you do." He says, pausing long enough to smile at her. "I still hate you, and I think you're a useless, attention stealing bint." He says, ironic sarcasm lacing his voice. "But you're very good at what you do.".

"You won't get any argument from me. I think I am useless most days too." Kass chuckles a bit before sobering, "I never try to steal attention, it just happens .." She drifts for a moment, then shakes her head, "Neverthemind now. Thank you for the kind words, I try very hard to be good at something, just so happens it is talking on the phone. Who would've known."

He steps out of the car, looking to the hulking form of Mustang Alpha as it starts to spool up its engines.

1354089460_75750adeb8.jpg?v=0
Mustang Alpha - Hughes WK-2 Stallion Helicopter

"We have different talents." He glances to Kassandra, then smirks.

"True. I'm working on being a better house-cleaner. I expect that will be useful on some runs." Kass snickers, climbing out and starting to collect their various piles of gear, eyes going to Mustang Alpha. "So. We landing somewhere or is the chopper going to go back home afterwards?"

"Alphy will drop us off near where we meet your truck, then withdraw to Ohare, where the Draco Foundation has a hanger. It will be in the area, but unless we have 20-30 minutes of lead time, it won't be hovering over the city waiting for us."

"Copy." Kass shrugs a few of the backpacks over her shoulder, moving around to the back to collect the box. "Well, that gives us some hope and a nice backup plan. I'd prefer not to drive all the way back to Denver when we find them. I like the countryside and all, but my butt hurts after driving that far."

He snerks, geesturing to the boxes. Megakinesis is a bit overkillish, but you know, it gets the job done. Gear floats in front of him, packing itself in to the chopper. "There are a variety of risque jokes that I'm sure Sam would delight in telling, just to see you blush."

Watching the gear rise and head into the chopper, Kass glances to Marcus, looking to 'how' he does magic. She chuckles faintly, "I think he just does it to stay in practice or something, some sort of .. I dunno." She shrugs, following the gear, "See, that is a handy talent to have. Gesture and things rise up and move. Compare that to talking on the phone? No contest. As for Sam's jokes .. maybe it is to see me blush, or to help distract people from what I really am. To set me at ease? I don't know."

His style is external, as opposed to Ally's more internal style. He gestures to make his magic work, clearly manipulating the boxes in his mind and through gesticulation. Maybe Ally's more advanced understanding of magic allows her to internalize it more. "He's complex. I know. He ignores me in public, because it takes people's attention off the fact that I cover his magical ass. The more he mistreats me, the less people consider me." He shrugs, looking over to Kassandra. "I think it may also be to set himself at ease. You're not easy to be around, Kassandra. I'm not immune to your charms, just not desirous of your form. I can't really say, but I think you intimidate him."

"*I* intimidate *him*?" Kassandra pauses, shaking her head, "I cannot imagine why. I am little, I am not strong, not particularly good at a great many things. If it weren't for the pheromones, I'd be another elven pretty face." She shakes her head again, "Even when I *try* to intimidate people, I always think, in the back of my head, that they are laughing at me."

He climbs in to the chopper, one hand reaching to remove his pistol and place it in the choppers lock-box. He nods to her, for her back-holster, should she have one. "THey are uncomfortable on long trips." He seems to be working something over in his head, something in his mind. Then, he shakes his head, working it out of his mind. "You discredit yourself. You are beautiful, you are intelligent, you are capable. MOre importantly, Kassandra, you are adaptable and willing to admit when you cannot do something, and even more, you will adapt a plan to suit your strengths and those of those you work with."

She surrenders her back-holstered weapon, a cut-down Colt Manhunter. "Maybe. I've been working at a disadvantage for so long, I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have to change a plan." Kass mulls over the man's words, considering them for a long moment. "I don't know. Aladriel says I put myself down way too much, and she is probably right. She usually is, at least when it comes to me." She shrugs, "Maybe you are right."

The doors slide closed as the engines spool to full military power. He settles in to the pilots chair then, looking over the controls. "Which one goes up again?" he asks sardonically. "Anyway. You have the love of your family, you have the respect of your peers, you have the blood of Shosara and the duty of the Crimson spire." He looks over at her, smiling a bit. "I don't know what those last two mean, but it's something Sam keeps saying about you.

Kass eyes Marcus as he asks which control goes up, rolling her eyes. "I knew I should have invested in the flight chip." She mulls over the words, "The blood of Shosara and the duty of the Crimson Spire. I'll have to ask him what the heck that means when we see him again. I think a rescue mission entitles one to a few answers." She straps into the other seat, watching how Marcus works the various systems. Even now, even in this, she keeps herself busy learning. Never know when it might come in handy.

"It's Draco foundation stuff. Related to the 'big secret' crap." He glances to Kassandra then. "Look. I'm flying us in to a town that is known for literally, not metaphorically, eating people. Can you at least tell me what the big secret is?"

Kass considers, shrugging, "I can't see why not. At this point, we could be dead by nightfall. Forgive me if I cover something that you already know, or don't fill the details. I don't have all the answers myself." She takes a moment, "The Mission is, basically, to save the world. There is an evil out there, a big threat to life as we know it."

Kass waves a hand, "Oh, there is other stuff we do: first contact with magical people, and finding lost artifacts from the previous ages of magic. In the end, though, there is .. there *are* .. creatures that don't exist where we are, they are .. on the metaplanes, I guess?" She shakes her head, "It's still beyond what Ally has been teaching me. Anyway, these things are Bad with a capital B, and want to destroy and eat and pillage us. The last time they came, they killed most everyone on Earth."

"So like… astral creatures. Like the Bug… The Invae?" He asks, using the Sam-word for them. "THey are going to rise up and eat the world, eh? And Sam thinks he's going to save the world?"

"I don't know. I think it is more we are going to hold the line and make sure that some part of humanity can survive. Teach people how to come back from the brink." Kass mulls over that, waving a hand, "From what I can see, these .. things .. are worse than the Invae, or at least more alien. We .. myself, DeWinter, Aladriel .. we ran across a little one a few months back. It fed off .. It fed off the fear of children, the souls of children."

She spares Marcus a glance, "They are supposted to be the things that even nightmares are afraid of." Kass shrugs a little, "Ally still has nightmares about them, even now. And this was a disembodied voice in a house that threw things at us .. and there were .. spiderlike creatures with the heads of infants." She shudders for a moment, "These are *bad* things, Marcus, and yes, Sam plans to do .. something. I still am not totally sure of the plan, but there you go. That, in the end, is what we are doing."

The man is silent for a long time, the chopper giving him plenty of things to do. Things he could have let the robotic brain do, but chose to do himself. Something to let him think. The glow of the dashboard shows his features set in stone, the sort of deep contemplation a man has before changing his life in an irrevocable fashion.

You're over Kansas, headed for CHicago when he speaks again.. "It does make a certain amount of sense. I can't decide if you're pulling my leg, or sam's pulling some kind of hoax… or if this is on the level. I mean, I've seen some of this shit in action. I lived through bug-city… I saw what happens when we are presented with the unknown. The unfightable."

By now Kass has moved into the back and is loading clips, checking magazines, checking guns, storing grenades. Keeping busy, doing what she can to increase their chance for survival. "I don't know, either. I know I've seen some things .. there is a whole ton of things and places the Foundation has that indicate there was a Fourth World, where magic was at a higher level than what we have now. So I tend to think it is real, or at least real likely."

"There are days I wish I didn't know about any of this. There are days I just want to play with my baby and sit on a swing with Ally and watch the creek and not think about this." She snaps a clip into a pistol, checking the sight. "But that is what we are here for, to make sure everyone else gets that chance."

"If this hadn't existed." Remarks Marcus then. "You'd likely never have met Ally in any appreciable sense." He makes a few requests for clip loadouts, specifying two clips of spirit busters set aside for his Colt.

"Very true. Every action or lack of action changes our path. If this, if that. I dislike some of the things I've done and had done to me on my path, but I certainly like where I am now." Kass checks the clips, making sure that Marcus's are set carefully aside and correctly loaded and prepared.

"Who you are now, is exactly who you need to be, I guess." Says he, setting a course to take them more northerly and out of the major airlanes. "You're the most capable member of the watchers outside of Sam. Theres no doubt about that. Capability is more than being able to lift heavy things or cast a spell, Kassandra. Sam constantly pounds that in to my head. Capability is the ability to see a problem, then see AROUND it and plan for what happens AFTER the problem."

She pauses, ejecting a clip and inserting another into a Savalette before sliding it away. Kass says quietly, "Those are kind words from him. I .. I've had more need to be able to do that, I suppose, than the others. The difference in being a shadowrunner and having to survive." She rises carefully, moving to check on her armour, making sure it is dirty enough to not stand out as much. "Right now I need to be Silk, I have to be Silk. Speaking of which, commname?"

Marcus shrugs. "Never had a real need of one." He says. "He's always just called me Beta or Unit Two or something like that." He looks back to her. "Silk is an amazing material, you know. Soft, sensual, but stronger than Steel."

"Let's hope so. I don't think sensual is going to cut it this time out." Kass moves to get changed, considering. "Well, I can't just call you Beta or Unit Two, that is just weird. You'll have to come up with something. If you don't pick out a name, then someone always picks one out when you do something on a run. I knew a guy on a run outside of Atlanta, didn't have a name. He tripped on the run, his name is now Tripper. It's sad what runners will do to each other."

He doens't turn to watch her; even if it is a desirable thing to watch. He's gay, not unmoved by the perfection of form that is a beautiful woman who smells like a goddess. "Well, I'll let you pick something out for me then." He says, setting the chopper on autopilot to step in the back, if a different area, his back to her, as he starts to get ready himself.

In the colours of a bruise (black and blues), Kass gets ready with care. She doesn't dawdle, but does take the time to make sure things are right, that clasps are connected and vulnerable spots are covered. "I'll think on it. We'll need something that matches you, just not something pulled out of a hat." Once her armour is on, she starts with her gun rigs and 'utility belt'. Her longcoat will cover a lot of the goods, and there isn't any need for the usual discretion when working the streets. She checks angles, checks hooks and pouches for accessiblity, every item in a location for a reason.

"So we set down and head for the market, and from there to the Tower?"

"In the ideal plan in the ideal world, yes. We set down near the market, or I can actually levitate us down… we get the truck your buddies getting us and we proceed to the waterfront."

"In an ideal world, yes." Kass slides a longblade down a spinal sheath, a fighting knife on her left thigh, several smaller blades and throwing stars along her belt, in cunning sheaths on her jacket and vest. "Might be better to levitate down, really. That way we don't pinpoint to enemy forces exactly where we are, and don't risk losing the vehicle."

She slides a vambrace over her right forearm guard, testing the snap blade with a quick *snikt* before it vanishes again. "But that is entirely your call. I don't know enough about how the .. the .. um," Kass pauses and concentrates, "magical disturbances? That doesn't sound right, but you get me. Whatever. If you think you can do it, we can do it."

"In an ideal world, yes." Kass slides a longblade down a spinal sheath, a fighting knife on her left thigh, several smaller blades and throwing stars along her belt, in cunning sheaths on her jacket and vest. "Might be better to levitate down, really. That way we don't pinpoint to enemy forces exactly where we are, and don't risk losing the vehicle."

She slides a vambrace over her right forearm guard, testing the snap blade with a quick *snikt* before it vanishes again. "But that is entirely your call. I don't know enough about how the .. the .. um," Kass pauses and concentrates, "magical disturbances? That doesn't sound right, but you get me. Whatever. If you think you can do it, we can do it."

"Magic is a bit of a bitch in the area, and its unmappable. FAB III really screwed up the magical geography. FAB is a… astrally active bacteria, right? It eats magic. Its what they used to kill the bugs, only it really only took down the weak ones. It also took down ghouls, spirits, foci, anything vaugely active on the astral plane." He snaps the spaulders of the armor on… "This shit is heavy,." He mutters, before continuing. "Anyway. Even better, is it leaves deadzones in its wake. It's mostly dissipated, but Chicago -still- gets the occasional cloud that sweeps the area."

Kass's eyes go vague a moment, filing that information away for further use. "That sounds bad, and not something we want to deal with at 150 knots above a city." She toys with a ceramic handle, sliding it into a wrist mounted snap-holster. She digs out a chip from a tiny case, reaching to move a piece of RealSkin out of the way at the base of her neck, "At least I haven't had the ware removed yet," she murmurs, slotting the chip with a click, putting the one she removed away. A mental command spins the chip up, checking for errors.

While her system runs diagnostics, Kass remarks, "Armour looks good on you. Should warn all but the crazies away, I hope." She gets a green light on the skillsoft, giving it its own activation command. "I will assume that, given the information that my decker gave us, the Tower will be a bad place to try and cast spells as well?" She slides over the case with the gear she has gotten ready for Marcus: grenades, flashpacks, clips and so forth.

Marcus starts to slide the various bits in to cubbies and alcoves on his body. No grenades, but he does makes liberal use of the alice-pack for holding spell foci. He's all in to those. "Yes. Magic in the tower and around it may be.. exceedingly taxing. The sort of taxing that will likely kill me if I do too much."

Theres no note of sarcasm or hyperbole in his voice.

Anything that Marcus doesn't take is packed carefully away into one of the two packs (one backpack, one satchel) that Kass plans to take, presumably gear for Sam and Ally should they find them. Kass nods quietly, "Then we won't do much of that until there is no other choice. We have a few other options." She pulls the watch cap down on her head, tucking away much of the loose strands before looking for her compact and systematically removing any traces of make-up from her face. "I'll dirty up more when I get there. Don't want to stand out any more than we have to."

By now, the chopper is crossing the Iowa/Illinois over the city of Davenport. The Chopper will report over internal speakers that you are 30 minutes out from Chicago Airspace.

"You can't help but stand out, Silk. It's just part of who you are."

"Maybe so, but I can look less like rape bait if at all possible. Extra skirmishes are a waste of resources and time." Silk chuckles faintly, patting herself down. She digs in one of the packs she brought, handing over a comm to Marcus and stowing the others on her person. "Battletac Comm systems, extra tactical advantage. I meant to try these out another time, but trial by fire time I suppose. Should be better shielding and transmitting power than most of what the folks there have." She spools out a datacable, connecting it behind her right ear, the datajack hidden by cap and hair.

Commlink-«Silk» Check.

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "check"

Marcus takes the unit, strapping it to his arm… "Interesting toy. Surprised Sam doesn't have one." He says, looking it over and familarizing himself with it. "And I don't care for rape nor those who think it a social past time."

"I am surprised as well. I thought this would be right up his alley." Silk shrugs, "I got these as a sort of wedding gift, albeit an early one. I hope they are lucky." She scrolls through the channels, setting four basics and setting the system to 'ping' the frequencies Sam tends to use every half hour.

One Ping returns.

Marcus huhs. "Well, he sort of collects gear as he moves forward. He has a lot of drains on his cash flow… and try as he might act otherwise, he's fairly cash poor at any given time. He's far to generous with his money when he thinks people arn't watching."

Silk blinks, moving to tune the frequency in, her heartbeat quickening. «Geist, this is Silk, over.» She nods to Marcus, "I know how that goes. We need to be doing more work for tangible rewards, if nothing else to keep our hands in and train."

The signal is not a voice signal, but a transponder location. It shows as on the water front of the South Fork some distance from the floating market. Stationary.

"Money's always nice, I will agree. It helps make things easier, like, you know, replacing gear or upgrading."

Silk loads that location into the tactical map on the Battletac, inputting the information from Sam's notes as well as anything they have from Mustang Alpha. "Money makes the world go around. With enough money or barter materials, I can do just about anything." Silk pauses, "Yeah. Just about. Everyone wants something, everyone *needs* something. You just have to find out what that is and give it to them. Money is the easiest thing to get and the number one in most eyes."

The location corresponds to where Sam notated he stashed his own truck before venturing in to the Graves. Marcus looks back to Silk. "What do you need?" He asks curiously, turning to look outside the chopper as Illinois runs by underneath.

Eyes dark, Silk puts her goggles away in a large pouch on her right side, moving from side to side and bouncing a little to check for jingling sounds, rattling, loose gear that could betray in a moment of silence. "Stability. Family. Love. My fiancee is in there, and one of two men on this planet that I care about." She glances to Marcus, "You, Sam, Ally, Maya. You are my family, you are .. " She trails off a moment. "You are what I need to survive." She checks the tension on her holsters, both blade and firearm, making sure the new armour gives enough room to move.

That completely silences Marcus for several minutes as the glow (And yet, darkness) of Chicago grows closer. You can tell by the cant of his head that he's looking outside the chopper, one arm up and over his head, leaning on it with his forehead. "We'll get her back." He says after that long pause, reaching for the helmet to the armor.

Silk snags her longcoat, sliding the armoured duster over her body and accepting the weight, working her shoulders. "We'll get *them* back, both of them." Clips inside the jacket secure the datacable in place, allowing her freedom of movement without tangling the line. She pulls on the reinforced tactical gloves, the knuckles and side of the gloves weighted for extra umph in a blow.

No one uses Runways in Chicago.

Drawing on his own jacket now, he glances in to the cabin of the chopper. "Go time. Doors open in 25 seconds." He shifts to the comms to send that, murmuring it on the Sub-Vocal. "We're at 2000 feet right now. Our target will be to the northwest by about half a klick."

Silk transduces, «Affirmative.» She makes sure her hat in firmly on, rolling her neck and shoulders. She pats absently at the internal wall of the chopper, murmuring softly before moving to the door, collecting her pack and satchel.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (Power Foci) + 3 (Spell pool) vs TN 4 for "Megakinesis. Drain is Force+2(D) Force is 4, so drain will be 3D":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 5 5 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (Spellpool) vs TN 3:
2 2 3 3 5 5 5 7 8 9 11 = 9 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "No drain"

Marcus reaches out with his hands, one pointing to Silk, then one to the bags, before 'lifting'. A consternated look crosses his features underneath the helmet, as he removes gravity from the equation. THe door rolls open on que, and Marcus moves you and the gear, out in to space. The downdraft from the rotors is horrendous, but Marcus rapidly drops you down and the helicopter passes on in its preset flight plan.

Flying. It is one of her real loves, to be able to move through the air without a vehicle around her. Silk isn't concentrating on that thrill now, however, her eyes scanning the ground beneath them as Marcus moves them down from the chopper, looking for any signs of life beneath, anyone looking for trouble. She keeps one hand on her head, keeping the watch cap on as they float down.

It would be inarticulate to call this flying. Megakinesis is usually used to lift things like cars, not people. It's more like your in an industrial elevator as compared to the turbo-lift of flight. The Mage starts guiding you down to the waters edge, a few hundred feet from the market, seen in the distance as the three lashed together barges that were long ago beached. «I don't show any astral disturbances or tails.»

«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Intelligence for "Anyone looking around?":
1 3 3 4 7 7 11 15
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1:
7

There is activity all around the market, people coming and going, going and coming. No one seems to be scanning the skies looking for you, though two or three are looking at the chopper as it peels away and gains altitude. You could probably wrap that to simply seeing a heavy chopper at low altitude.

Commlink-«Silk» "We seem ok, I don't spot any serious attention being paid to us." Silk keeps an eye out, though, her free hand ready to draw any of an assortment of items should her recon turn out to be in error.

Commlink-Beta> Johny says, "I concur. Lets hit the ground here. I can't promise its going to be gentle. I don't usually lift people with this spell."

Silk nods, sending a click through the system and preparing to hit the ground. She watches the rangefinder display across her heads up display, letting out a breath and gearing herself for what is to come.

The landing is hard on the knees, almost akin to a para-drop landing. He goes down, rolling with it and coming up with his pistol in hand. The bags land just fine, but they don't care much for the finer points of tendon attachments.

«Down and up again. Releasing the spell»

Silk rolls it off, coming to her knees. Her eyes scan the area quickly, her hands free of weapons at the moment. «< I understand. »>

Silk produces a pistol now with her left hand, waiting for Marcus to get situated after the spellcasting, covering him.

He takes a moment to gesture in a final fashion, a slashing move. The bags stop moving and you can feel yourself released from the inarticulate grasp of the spell and able to move on your own power without feeling like swimming.

Silk sweeps slowly to verify there are no hostiles before rising gracefully to her feet and moving to quickly secure her gear. The backpack and satchel are collected, both with one hand. She shrugs into the packs, covering Marcus so he can collect his own gear before holstering the weapon.

Collecting his gear, Marcus turns to Silk. The faceplate of his helmet slides upward, revealing his face. "Okay. So." He gestures to the market. "We meeting someone…. we picking up a truck? Whats the story, Sharazad?"

Silk nods to the market, crouching down to dirty her gloves, not bothering to clean off after the landing. She'll apply a bit of dust and dirt to here face before commenting. "Market, see a lady about a truck. She is next to the Rat on a Stick booth, Xenon tells me." She straightens, dusting off her hands and starting towards the Market.

Marcus nods, leaving the face plate up. "I'm gonna slide on the invisible… Unless you think it may be worth me trying to sustain a second instance and make us both?"

"Na. Better they see me coming." Silk smirks a bit at that before sobering, "Better to keep your energies as well; no sense pushing our luck this early. You go invisible, I'll do what I do." The elf's tone's flatten out into her 'working' voice, checking herself quickly as Marcus prepares his spell. She lets out a breath and gets her mind in the right place.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 vs TN 4 for "Imp Invisibility":
1 1 1 2 3 3 4 5 5 9 15 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 6 (Spell pool) vs TN 3 for "M":
1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 11 = 8 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "No drain"

A few more of those really rather amusing gestures is made, like something out of a vogue video, and then he fades from view. The communit clicks once to indicate he understands.

Silk glances to the sky, the angle of the sun and any breeze there is, cataloging it. She moves towards the market, just another person coming in to buy and sell. She purposely moves in such a way to angle them away from where any distortions Marcus may cause won't be as noticable, using the time to see what she is going into, to get a feel for things. She listens, marking the way people talk, the words they use that she doesn't quite understand.

In to the Market

THe Sun is still down, maybe an hour from rising, the tint of the far sky just starting to go ultraviolet. People are quiet. The day is just starting, though they are unusually subdued. On the way in, the two orks at the door stop Kassandra.

"Yo yo, hold up tits. Lets see inside the coat. You carryen any swords, what?"

"Swords?" Silk opens the coat with one hand, her right, not showing any bladed weapon larger than the bowie-sized combat knife on her left thigh. "Na, no swords here, omae. Too big ta cut up m'dinner, scan?"

They confer for a moment. "Whats yer business?" Asks the talking one now. "Who you comin to see?"

Marcus slides around, then in to the market…

"Comin' in fer food, provisions, that sorta thing." Silk slurs her words a bit, adopting some Warrens into her voice, offering a shrug. She gestures to some of the nearby stalls, "Got biz over there, mebbe a few things ta trade with Rachell, others."

A name dropped. "Rachell, eh? A'right then. No sticken no one, no shootten no one, and fer the love 'ogawd, no CUTTEN OFF NO ONES HEAD!"

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "That sounds personal."

Commlink-«Silk» "Yeah. Wonder what happened."

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "I'm inside. Its like coming home, only with less bugs trying to eat me."

Silk lets the jacket fall closed, "No prob, omae, no prob. Na a headhunta, na lookin' fer trubble." She nod to the orks, waiting till they let her by before heading in.

The Orks breath deep as she passes on by.

"She liked me."

"Naw naw naw, she was scopen ME!"

"No way, she had her eyes on -my- guns…"

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "SOrry to say, I don't think you were looking at either one of them. I'm your shadow."

Commlink-«Silk» "Let's keep it that way. Don't need to add bugs to the problems we have." Silk transduces quietly, keeping her eyes down with only furtive glances around. It isn't hard, it is like going home to act like this. She cuts that line of thinking off, meandering into the market and taking in the sights.

The markets just coming awake. Someones selling hot tea, while the days rodents are being spitted to be roasted, the merchants who sell to merchants are out in full force, as the setup for the day is being done.

A market is a market anywhere. Silk will move along with the traffic, scanning for trinkets and doing a bit of trade from the satchel at her side. A few rounds here, something bright and shiney there. Little things, nothing that stands out, just the sort of thing that gets you by from day to day. More than anything, she works to trade in rumour, making up little stories and trying to pick up rumour, gossip, what the guys up front were mad about and what the news is here.

«OOC» Marcus says, "CHa roll, plz"
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Charisma for "Talk to me.":
1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 7

'Cad and Fad are pissed, ya know, cause some one went PSYCHO last night. It was crazy! Jenny says she saw em, this big tall fucker, 9 feet if he was a day, but HUMAN! no troggy. He whips this glowing blade out of his jacket and just, like, slices down Izzy, Nogo and Trugg. From behind, like they never existed. It was ice man… just ice.'

'Izzy Nogo and Trugg? Yeah… they got cut down last night. Word is they were scoping a pair of outsiders who came in to see Larissa. Outlander didn't take kindly to that and chopped em up, right here, ya know? Then walked out all calm as you please before anyone realized what happened.'

'What? Naw, no one got killed. Cad and Fad are just pissed off they are on door duty'.

«OOC» Kassandra says, "More detail now. Looking into 'Larissa'"
«OOC» Marcus ndos. New roll
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Charisma for "Larissa?":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 8 16

'Larissa? You don't know who she is? She's the Elder of the market. Sort of the core, if'n ya will. She reads fortunes, ya know. Sees the -future-. She is in the rear of the central barge. Older than dirt, but twice as crusty. She takes only the occasional petitioner these days, but she saw not one but two last night.'

Silk listens, gabbing with people, ooohing when appropriate and offering payment in kind: a story, a rumour, a warning of bad water or bad food, a bit from her bag. She huhs quietly, digging deeper as she sorts through the stories, finding a thread that looks promising, tenatively probing into this 'Larissa'.

Armed with the knowledge, Silk pays her debts and keeps moving through the market, adopting the emotion she truly feels: curiosity. She'll aim towards the Rat on a Stick area, eyes drifting towards the rear of the central barge.

Commlink-«Silk» "May want to talk to this Larissa. She might have a lead for us."

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "That was the lead Sam had on Ally's kin, yes."

A young girl, maybe 14, is currently impaling rats (Previously drowned, humanely) on wooden skewers. It's easy enough to over hear her called 'Rachell' once or twice. A few early cookers are handed off to a pair of younger kids, with no transaction seen.

Sliding up to the stand, Silk considers the girl with a quick look, nodding to the kids who get their tasty treat this morning. "Morn'n." She rubs at her eyes with one hand, eyes travelling to the rats a moment then back to the girl. "Look'n for someone, mebbe you can help?"

"Help comes at'a price, like ev'thin else, stranger" Says the girl, one hand reaching up to wipe her brow. Sweaty, despite the chill of the morning, from the heat of the burners. "You want rat, I got rat."

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "She's just young enough to not have memory of the containment. She's just a warrens rat."

Silk nods, as if expecting that reply. "What's th' goin' rate for pointin' out Rachell for me?" She opens one hand, a glitter of something shiney there, "Reckon this will about cover it?"

"Bout whats in your paw. Shiney bits are chill, but the underhands low. Still, whaten ya want ain't mass."

Silk watches the girl, nodding quietly. She closes her hand just a little to keep other eyes off it, moving to hand if off. "Course, course. Where?"

The Handoff is made, the shiny squirreled away in a pocket in the girls coveralls. "Here. I'm Rachell. Thanks for the dosh." SHe looks to Silk now. "You want rat on a stick, or just to sit here and stare at me? From the guys, it don't make me no mind. You, a bit different."

Silk chuckles very faintly, "I'll pass on the rat, thank ya. As for the rest, no, not here to stare. Got sent to you, supposted to pick up a ride." She keeps her voice soft, quiet, looking to all the world like she is doing exactly what she did at every other stand. "They mighta mentioned a name. Silk."

The girl reaches under the counter, pulling out a set of keys with a Dodge logo on a fob. "Friend of mine said you would be by and would have a little sometin-sumtin for me in exchange for holden."

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "I like her. Take the opportunity for all its worth."

Commlink-«Silk» transduces, "Yup. A woman after my own heart."

Not letting the smile touch her lips, Silk nods, "I bet they did. What's the goin' rate on holding, eh?" Silk doesn't reach for a bag or pocket, watching the girl now to see what she'll do, what she'll ask for.

«Auto-Judge[]» Marcus (#799) rolls 6 for "Mystery":
2 3 5 5 5 10

"You got hammers and nails." Says the girl, not moving to take the keys back. "I need a good hammer and a pile of nails."

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "THats local slang; Gun and bullets, but I Think you could figure that out"

Considering, Silk reaches into her satchel, digging around for a moment. She'll even throw in a furtive look this way and that for free before producing a Colt Manhunter and then four clips, letting the satchel close before offering them over, keeping her hands over the weapons. "Figure these will do?"

The girl lets her eyes (green) slide across the gun a half moment. She seems to size up the pile in an instant. She doesn't move for it, simply flipping a pair of rats so they don't burn. "4 on the table, 1 in the hole?" she asks, referencing a magazine already in the gun.

"Course. Not a fair deal otherwise, neh?" Silk takes her hands off the pile to allow the girl to look them over, watching her now. Her gaze flicks from the girl to her surroundings and back again, working to ignore the smell of roasting rat.

She picks up the pistol first, her hands moving quickly. They have to; if she's slow, the rat burns and she's out money. The magazine is ejected to check it's slide and movement, then the slide is pulled back to check the chamber. She then slides the magazine back in, then chambers a round. The slide is pulled back again, to eject the round. The magazine is ejected AGAIN, then the gun dry fired to check its play. "Done." She says, sliding the keys over.

Silk makes the keys vanish as she pulls her hands off the counter. She watches the girl with the guns, her actions with the weapons and her skill. "Obliged." She allows her gaze to pointedly go towards the area she has heard Larissa is at, asking "I hear you have a seer here?"

"You heard right. In about five beats, you're going to be escorted to her. Nothing personal, just business." Says the girl, turning back to the meat on the barbecue.

As if on que, three men step forward, one an elf, two humans. "Mr. Froggy wishes your company." Says the elf, gesturing over his shoulder, but holding an SMG at the level.

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "Uhh… what the fuck?"

Commlink-«Silk» "Unknown."

Commlink-Beta> Marcus says, "Who the hell is Mr. Froggy? I thought her name was Larissa?"

Silk always pays strict attention to people with automatic weapons. She nods to the three men, keeping her hands away from her sides. That still gives her three to five weapons she can still get to, but they don't know that. "Of course, I'd hate to keep .. Mr. Froggy .. waiting." She nods to them, moving to follow.

Commlink-«Silk» Silk clicks the radio only.

The elf moves ahead of the group and people seem to part for him. Could just be the automatic weapon, of course.

They lead Silk (And marcus, who trails along behind) through the bowels of the ship, to the waters edge. "THrough the water, to the stairs, up the stairs. Be nice. Be respectful. Hurt her and I'll skin you alive then find your family." It's delivered in a staccato beat, like he's given this speech a lot.

Silk doesn't answer verbally, simply nodding. Not her first rodeo, she doesn't make any sudden moves nor does anything to provoke a reaction from the heretofore nice gentlemen.

Marcus tries to follow as quickly as he can, but the water poses a challenge to him. He's going to have to follow after these men turn to look the other way. Invisible does not mean 'water does not bend around you'.

Meeting Larissa and Mr. Froggy

The stairs lead up to a small room with Arabic and Latin inscriptions. St. Anthony, St. Anthony, Please come down, Something is lost And can't be found.

Sitting in an old rocking chair, next to a small wood stove and stroking one of Maya's toys (the aforementioned Mr. Froggy), is the old Mother Larissa. She smiles slightly, the kind of smile that reveals the crooked teeth of the elderly, but seems benign enough.

«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Intelligence for "Visual":
1 3 4 4 4 5 5 8

Small toys, socks and other such easilly lost things seem to fill the room, but one thing is VERY out of place and catches your eye… a purple leather collar with a D-Ring set in to it, with precious stones spelling out the name 'Ally'. It rests on a shelf, about halfway up the wall, on top of Sam's traveling hat.

Silk's eyes track to Mr. Froggy for a long moment before force of habit forces her to check the room, looking for exits, traps, tricks. She mentally stumbles as she sees Aladriel's collar and then Samuel's hat, her gaze coming once again to Maya's frog and the woman holding her.

An assortment of questions and comments come to mind, many not plesant. Mindful of the age of the woman and the men with guns, Silk schools herself and quietly comments, "You called for me, Mr. Froggy, and here I am."

"Don't be foolish." Tuts the old woman. "Mr. Froggy didn't call you, Larissa did, Tch." She pauses a moment… "Make Larissa some tea, dear. You've lost something, and Larissa finds what is lost."

A faint chuckle from Silk before she moves, "My apologies, Larissa." She moves to make the tea, keeping her eyes on the task and forcing them not to look to the hat, the collar. "I have indeed lost something, and I would appreciate any help."

"Tch… Such sadness, misplacing that nice girl and her hollowman, what with them going to the Tower…" She strokes one gnarlled hand down the plush surface of the frog, worrying its surface. "Add a splint to the fire, and tell Larissa two things." She pauses, eying the work on the tea. "Why you look. And what you have brought Larissa for her help…"

A piece of wood is carefully added to the fire, giving Silk time to get control over herself. She works quietly on the tea as she considers, "I look because they are my world. I fear for them and want them home safe." She glances to Mr. Froggy and then Larissa, moving to finish setting up the tea. She'll bring the woman her cup, stepping back after delivering it.

Silk eyes the assorted trinkets and toys, socks and collars around the room as she considers. "I am not sure what is a suitable payment for your Sight." She glances questioningly towards the men with guns before reaching, not into her bag, but into her pocket. She brings out a bracelet, silver, the surface engraved in Celtic designs. "This is not much, but it is mine and has been for a very long time." She offers it to Larissa, questioning, "Would this be payment enough?"

A piece of wood is carefully added to the fire, giving Silk time to get control over herself. She works quietly on the tea as she considers, "I look because they are my world. I fear for them and want them home safe." She glances to Mr. Froggy and then Larissa, moving to finish setting up the tea. She'll bring the woman her cup, stepping back after delivering it.

Silk eyes the assorted trinkets and toys, socks and collars around the room as she considers. "I am not sure what is a suitable payment for your Sight." She glances questioningly towards the old woman before reaching, not into her bag, but into her pocket. She brings out a bracelet, silver, the surface engraved in Celtic designs. "This is not much, but it is mine and has been for a very long time." She offers it to Larissa, questioning, "Would this be payment enough?"

THe old woman gestures for her to bring it closer before grabbing it. She turns it over in her hands then, feeling its weight and its design. "This will get you a question.. yes.. yes… very nice. Very shiny."

A question. Silk frowns ever so slightly, a million questions racing through her mind. She looks to Mr. Froggy for advice, or perhaps her eyes simply focus on him as she lets her mind wander, weighing questions against each other. She lets out a breath, nodding. "Where may I find Aladriel Cindel and Samuel Clemens?"

Larissa tchs! "No no… That is the -wrong- question. You know -where- they are, child… have some tea, sit down… think it over."

Silk blinks a few times, moving to get tea before she even realizes she is doing it. She pours and sits on the floor, looking back to Larissa, to Mr. Froggy. Wrong question wrong question what is the right question. If she knows where they are, that cuts down on some of what she needs. Her gaze shifts to the tea cup, her breathing slowing as she tries to slow her racing mind and speeding pulse.

frog.jpg
Mr. Froggy

She is silent for seconds, stretching into a minute and past. She blows on the tea, taking a sip and considering. "How .." She stops, tracing over the question again and poking it, trying it on to see if it is the right thing to say, "How can I get them out safely?" She asks softly, her worry evident.

She clasps her hands together, a grin coming to her old lips now. "Ah! She can learn! That is the right question!" She says, a sort of glee coming to her lips. "If to save your family you wish, you need to seek the souls of the Shattergraves. Spirits of those she has killed or slain. Only when you have an army, can you hope to defeat the Witch."

A question comes immediately to her lips but she clamps her mouth down on it, mind racing at the ramifications of this. Silk mentions, "The souls of the Shattergraves .. but .." She looks questioningly to Larissa, looking faintly confused and somewhat lost. "I don't understand .."

She leans forward, eyeing the younger woman. One spindly finger extends, pointing to her. "I do not sell understanding; only answers. If you wish more information… you will trade again." She leans back then, happily affixing her new bracelet to Mr. Froggy's neck like a collar.

Information. It is an addiction as much as coffee or drugs or sex. Silk wavers, hesitating as she sorts over what the woman has said versus what else she might know. She lets out a slow breath, staring at the bracelet around Mr. Froggy's throat and then back to her tea. "I did not bring much .. personal .. with me, Larissa, and I somehow don't think that the few tradegoods I brought for the market are quite what you are looking for." The elven girl rises from the floor carefully, "I will try to understand the answer you have given me."

She points then to the womans left foot. "Your pride will hobble you, Silk who seeks. THat one, that one will do."

Silk looks down, "My boot?" She seems baffled, sinking back down to unlace it. "Pride?" She wonders aloud, "No pride .. I just didn't .. expect to need my things, here."

"Bah. Boots. Do you see boots in this room, girl? No boots. Socks. I like socks. It's something of an oddity, but people started bringing socks. So Larissa collects."

Silk pauses, looking incredulously at the woman and then back down again. She removes her boot and then the sock carefully, rising to her knees to offer it over. She doesn't comment on her collection.

She takes the sock now, worrying it in her hands, stretching it, scrunching it, then ultimately, placing it on Mr. Froggy like a stocking(!) cap. "Larrisa accepts this gift. What is your question?"

Pressing her hands together almost as if she were praying, Silk leans against her thumbs, tapping her fingers against her forehead. She hmms, looking to Mr. Froggy a moment and then to Larissa. "I am not adept at spiritcraft, Larissa, nor am I a general. Is .. no." She starts over, "Who can help me raise this army of Spirits, these Souls that the Witch has slain?"

The woman leans back in her chair now, one hand stroking the now be-capped Mr. Froggy. "You must seek the Council of the Tower. Dead, every one, but their souls linger on in the Shattergraves. To seek their souls is a dangerous thing, for you will need fetters, things which were important to them." She puts a finger to her lips… "The council of the Tower were once magi at Loyola University. Perhaps.. their robes, still hanging in their meeting hall.. would do."

"Loyola University. Fetters. I understand." Silk pulls her boot back on, lacing it back up quickly. She rises, nodding soberly to Larissa, "I thank you for your assistance in this, Larissa." She looks once again to Mr. Froggy, wordlessly considering it for a long moment before looking back to the Oracle. "Thank you."

Larissa takes a moment, removing the Stocking cap and collar from the frog. She sips her tea then… "Take this." She offers the frog back. "When you rescue your wife… she will want this. Need this."

Silk reaches out with a hand that trembles to retrieve Mr. Froggy, looking at him a long moment and then holding him close. She nods once, looking at the frog again before tucking him carefully into her satchel, securing it tightly. "We thank you again, Larissa. I .." She stops, gains control of herself, nods, "Thank you." She doesn't turn her back on the elderly woman, but rather walks backwards respectfully until she is at the exit before moving to depart, the stiffness in her body a sign of her tension and stress.

Down stairs, Marcus is now visible, lounging against the wall, a cigarette in his lips. He glances after where Silk comes from, an eyebrow raising at the froggy in her hands.

Moving with a purpose, Silk nods to Marcus, indicating Mr. Froggy, "He needed a ride and had information for us. We need to go to Loyola." The woman manuevers a few items around to tuck her satchel closer to her body, sliding her arm back through her jacket. Mr. Froggy gets to ride in the satchel, the carrybag secured after he is placed gently inside.

"Need to get with the girl and find out where the wheels are, and maybe find a sock as well."

He moves after the woman now, rolling his eyes. "You are one strange, crazy bitch." He mutters, tossing his cigarette in to a barrel as they pass. "Why we going to Loyola?" he asks. "And what did the old woman want?"

"She had a vision. In order to save Sam and Ally we need to go to Loyola and get the robes of the mages that were on the Council. Then we summon them up and use the robes as .. fetters .. and have them raise an army of souls that the Witch has slain to rise up and .. do something. Maybe keep us from getting iced, or maybe just distract things long enough for us to run in and grab our people."

Silk shrugs, "Small steps first. Car."

"Sam was right." mutters Marcus, following behind the woman as she strides through the market. "YOu don't ever do anything small."

Silk heads back to Rachell's stall, casting a look around to make sure there are no surprises waiting for them, and also to see who is selling clothing-related accessories around here. She mentions, "Everything big is made up of small steps. If you put enough together, you get the big things."

Rachell is there, now moving some of the rats off to the side to keep them warm without further cooking them. Overdone rat is pretty nasty, which is not to say that 'perfectly' done rat is all that tasty.

"Like I said. Just business."

Waving it off, Silk remarks, "Not worried about it, Mr. Froggy had important information." She taps the pocket with the keys, causing a jingle. "Where?"

"Two blocks west, behind the gas station, inside the storage unit. A Dodge Rockslide heavy truck. It will get you where you need to go." Says the girl, pausing a moment to make a sale to an older gentleman. "Gary didn't say if you needed any supplies, and I'd probably skimp you on them anyway, so it's got a full tank of gas."

Nodding again, Silk produces something from her bag, mentioning to Rachell, "Nice trading with you, omae." She leaves a pack of Reds for the girl and turns to head to the booth she marked earlier, looking to pick up a pair of socks if they have them. She keeps an eye out for trouble, conducting herself like any other marketgoer.

Maybe it was the killing and death last night of three known spotters, but no one is really interested in marking Kassandra or her friendly combat-suited mage. It just seems like a loosing proposition to them. The sun is up now (18 hours ahead of Ally, who is still in the previous evening) and shining wanly down on the city from a long shadowed position, barely making a glow through the lake fog that rolls up the Chicago river CHannels.

Socks are an odd item, but if you pay enough, you'll find a pair.

On the move again

Silk will pay enough in assorted ware, nodding to Marcus and heading out of the market on a generally westernly course. She'll take her time to make sure that no one is following them to the vehicle, slowing to quickly replace the sock on her bare foot and relacing her boot. She tucks the extra sock away, shrugging to Marcus.

He watches her take the boot off, then the sock. "That…. was a kinky, kinky old woman, Silk. Did you…?" He trails off. Thats just wrong. "No. No you didn't. You and a plush frog." He scans the area, keeping alert and quiet when she is no longer tip top combat shape, until she is

Silk reminds Marcus, "Everyone has their price." She rises, hands checking her holsters as she nods, ready to go again. She heads to the gas station some two blocks away, looking sharp now. Time trickles like sand through her fingers, the digital reminder flickering in the corner of her visual range. Frustration grows and then is suppressed as she fights to keep her pace measured, her gaze watchful.

The truck is where it was said to be; inside the storage container is a Dodge Rockslide, a massive pickuptruck designed for hostile environments. Lightly armored, but structurally reinforced and ugly as a mule, the truck has a range of 300 miles and the traction of a mountain goat. "Damn." Says Marcus, one hand straying to the reinforced steel tubing that encircles the front end and runs along the side of the truck. "Your friend sends the very best."

"I'll have to remember to send him something as a gift when we get back." She spins the keys out, "You wanna drive?" Silk keeps her left hand near her belt, ready to draw any of an assortment of weapons should things suddenly go wrong.

"Sure" says he, taking the truck keys and moving over to the drivers door. He has to step up on a small recessed step, to get up to the level of the cab. It really is a -massive- truck. "Where the hell do they BUILD these things?"

Silk nimbly climbs up as well, "I have no idea. Some giant automated factory in Detroit, maybe, or a small .. make that medium sized island. Never really thought about it." She gets situated, "Alright. Loyola. You know anything about bringing back dead mages and fetters?"

"Not a goddamn thing." He says, reaching forward and keying up the truck. It starts with a rumble of the engine, the kind of vibration that comes from the engine of harleys and vibrators you have to plug in to the wall. "Most necromancy or such is so highly regulated and frowned upon, its impossible to find reliable sources. I mean, I know ghosts and wraiths are often easier to talk to if you have objects of importance to them…"

"Explains the robes, then." Silk listens to the engine for a moment, piecing together what she was told, what Marcus said. "Larissa .. the old woman .. said this was the course we needed to take. And given what the decker told me, it would seem to fit. I mean, I bet these dead guys have a real issue with the Witch there and whatever it was she did. My real concern is getting them to work for us and not just .. eat our heads or something."

She sighs, rubbing at her eyes, "Hard not to just rush the Tower before dark hits."

"That sounds like a wonderful way to die." He admits… "But if its what we got, its what we got." The truck is put in to gear and he pulls out of the storage container. THe truck's got a sure-footed paw-print that just doesn't take no for an answer. "As for the ghosts… I dunno. Your contact seem like someone who would just send us off to die like that? I mean, I can't say it hasn't crossed my mind; She sent Sam and Ally in to the tower…"

Silk spreads her hands, "She answers the questions put to her. I don't know what questions they asked, likely where to find the answers they sought. So she tells them about the Towers. I asked how to rescue them and get them home safe. She says Loyola. Is she right?" Silk shrugs, "I have no idea. I don't know that magical prediction is any more specific than technological. We can either choose to believe in what she tells us and try this, or we can try approaching the Tower and hoping what we can do is enough."

"It's your call Silk. I'll back your play, but when it comes down to it, you've got the bars and stars in this truck." Admits Marcus, turning in to the sun to head east, twords the shattered cityscape.

Silk mock-glares at Marcus, "Great, put the onus for getting us killed on my shoulders." She sighs, concentrating for a moment, "We go get the mage robes. I do not think Larissa is openly against us, I didn't get that feeling. There were too many ways to work a prophecy to get rid of us, too many other ways to accomplish our deaths easier." She taps the bag at her side, "She said give the frog to my wife when we rescue her, that she would need it. That seems to indicate that we are going to do that, that the path would be the correct one."

"So we go raise the dead and find an army, and storm the Tower of the dark forces in Chicago." She shrugs, "I only know a little about magic, but .. maybe Chicago, maybe something here wants things balanced out. If this place is as bad as they say, … " She trails off, shrugging.

"It's worse." Says the nameless magi as he drives down the streets of Chicago. Out here, pretty far from the city core, the city is slowly coming back to life; it was the center of the city when the Second Largest city in the UCAS was sealed off and left to die; while 4 million people in the containment zone died over three years, the outer ring prospered; Corporate and Military funding poured in. Of course, it was unsustainable once the wall came down, leading to an almost ghost-town feel of underpopulation.. but thats progress for you.

"It's far worse. I lived through it. Down the sanctum, under Jason two-spirits.. and if not for him… you know, he's like Sam and Bathing suits. He tried to warn us, chicago, a year before it went down. HE knew what was coming and no one listened. But anyway… I lived through it. I was 10 when it started, but I was an old man when it ended. I try to forget it. A lot."

Glancing to Marcus, Silk nods quietly in agreement. She considers, "Forgetting is hard some days." A shake of her head, her eyes scanning the road before them, the terrain around them, "There is always a Sam, a .. Jason? .. a Jason warning people, and no one ever listens. I wonder if they ever will."

The elven woman rubs her eyes, the timecount marching on in her visual range as they drive on into the underpopulated section of the city. "Are you .. of course not, stupid question." Silk cuts herself off with a faint smile, "Don't imagine many 10 year olds wandering colleges."

"Am I what?" He asks, looking over to Kassandra, one hand guiding the Dodge Rockslide around a burned out car.

ford_f650_05.jpg
Dodge-Ares ROCKSLIDE Heavy Pickup Truck

"I'm a lot of things, but back then, I was unawakened, unprepared and scared."

"I was going to ask if you were familiar with the layout of the campus is all. Might save us some driving around, cut some time off of things." Time. It gnaws at Silk as they drive, wearing on her patience. Not so much of it has passed and on any other op she wouldn't be as conscious of it. Sort of like water in the desert or air to a drowning man, you only appreciate things when they are scarce.

"And now you are none of those three, neh? You survived, and you grew stronger, wiser."

"I'm fairly familiar with it, from before, but that doesn't mean I know it now. My dad was a teacher there, specializing in liberal arts, humanities and how to display my stick figure crayon drawings on the refrigerator."

"Bridges are bad news," Silk says absently, "Control points, never safe, too many angles to consider. We'll follow the same route they did, where we can, and see if we can find this Ol' Joe or someone else to get us across. How far do you figure it is from the crossing?"

"Bridges usually suck, yes. Sam says to avoid them if at all possible. As to the crossing, if we get a boat here…" A gesture to the map software displaying on the dash.. "Its about 4-6 miles, depending on river conditions, to here… under there somewhere, is Loyola's main campus. They were an urban school, so they sort of had their campus in other buildings. I think we need to figure out where the school of magic was, and hit that place up."

Chuckling faintly, Silk nods with regard to bridges, looking out the window to the sky above. She digs in her backpack, coming up with a pocket secretary. "Let's see if some kind Ares executive paid for sat time or put in a repeater or something and we can get even basic services out here."

The man nods, continuing to drive along the roads where he can, or occasionally on the sidewalks where he can't. In this truck, it's somewhat dubious as to where that line is.

Keys are depressed, icons selected. Silk mutters at the device, chiding it in a mix of Arabic, Elvish, and English as she attempts to get trix access and find info on the college.

«OOC» Blindside says, "Give me a computers check."
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Intelligence for "Default":
1 1 2 4 4 5 7 11

It doesn't take long to find an ancient mirror of the old Loyola orientation package for new students, circa 2055. The Campus is fairly clearly laid out, with the Magical Studies building being directly across from the old Water Tower and taking up a full city block in downtown Chicago.

Silk pokes at things as Marcus drives, "Aha." She increases the mag on the image displayed, looking at the grainy map. She leans over to input the data in the vehicle's nav system so they can see where they are now and where they need to go.

He looks over. "Ohhh. Well. Thats… convenient. If thats really the word we want to use here.."

"Eh?" Silk raises an eyebrow, looking the mage over. "Convenient? What do you mean?"

"Well, heres the tower, full of the evil witch and her nasty nasty…" He points across the street. "And heres the Loyola school of magic."

Her heart pulsates, skipping a beat and then picking up the pace. Silk breathes slowly, toying with one of her braids. "Interesting. So .. well, Larissa said that they were mages at the University and some council. I guess .. they wanted their place close to them? I mean, why else build it there, neh?"

"Makes sense to me, from a logistical point of view. Could be the council of deans for Loyola was the council of the tower. I mean, so much shit went wrong after the walls went up. In that time, the shattergraves were still -south- and across the river. It was only after the council died that the shattergraves -grew- so dramatically…"

Nodding, Silk squints a minute, "Seems my contact said something about the 'graves growing and surrounding the Tower, that it was like .. the last refuge." She nods, "Well, there is another good thing to all this, Marcus." She pauses, then shrugs with a smile, "If we actually manage to get them raised and talk to them, we don't have to go far."

Marcus glances over at her, an eyebrow raising. "If I was straight, I'd kiss you." He grunts then. "Hold on.". The truck downshifts for more power, then shudders as its bulk muscles an abandoned car out of the way. "So. Boats. Be there in only a few moments."

Laughing, Silk remarks, "If I were straight, I might let you." She grabs on to the oh-shit handle, hanging on for life as they push past, "Right. Boat, across and into the depths of the Shattergraves."

At the Worlds Edge

Lands End

It takes only a few more moments of driving for the truck to come to a rest next to the battered looking Land-Rover that is parked in the underbrush. "That…" He says, checking the data.. "Is sam and Ally's truck. Want to search it?" He asks, looking over to her, then pointing down the bank. "And that's the river-guides wharf."

Sparing the Land-Rover a look, Silk shakes her head, "Sam wouldn't have left anything of any use in there if he could help it, and I don't have time to disarm booby-traps right now." She shoulders her back, the satchel with the important from beneath her jacket. "Let's get across the river."

Sliding out of the truck, Marcus grunts a nod. "This armor binds my Johnson something fierce. I wonder how the hell Sam stands it?" He asks, one hand straying to rearrange said Mr. Johnson. "You go on ahead, arrange travel, I'll get the bags."

The man at the docks, there's really only one boat in right now, as most get hired out in the early morning, looks up to Silk. "Well'anow missy. You must be looken fer a boat, else you be looken in the wrong spot for wh'aver it else ye be seeken!"

Silk offers a smile and a little wave, "Yes, I sure am. I've got a powerful need to be over there," and with that, she indicates where she needs to go, "As soon as possible."

"And I got maself a powerful need ta get mahself some money or other bart'rables! Whatcha got for ol'joe?"

"Ol' Joe you say? I hear good things about you from an aquaintance." Silk offers another smile, genuine this time, asking, "What is your going rate to cross, Ol' Joe, and I'd be glad to pay it or top it if I can. I like to see friends of a friend get ahead."

"S'what ah said, missy girl, now, Ol Joe. You got bugs in the ears?" he says with a crooked smile. "Goen rates, whatcha kin pay fer that kinda thing. Lil miss 'o sunshine an' her bodyguard, they went tah other day fer a smile, a peek at her titties an some cash. Me, I might lecha go fer jus the peek."

The smile stays, the mask holds. Silk nods, "Well, this armour's a bitch to get out of, so let's stick with a smile and say .. a grand each, for me and my aquaintance." She jerks a thumb over her shoulder towards the armoured form with the bags hopefully heading this way.

The armored man with the floating bags makes his way down, as if on cue.

"Awww, pucker!" Says Joe. "S'what the other girl said too." He shrugs, gesturing to the boat then. "Ayep, that'll do, 2,000 fer the lot of ya. C'mon, ain't got all day."

Silk produces the cash from a pouch and moves to hand it over, heading to the barge with a wave to Marcus as she does so. She'll keep her jacket firmly out of the way of at least two of the pistols on her body, eyes scanning the surface of the water and then across.

The Magi loads the bags, letting them down with a suspicious thud, that brings Ol Joe looking at the tonnage. "Pack light ain't gonna mean much to ya, does it? That puts mah draft deeper'n I'd like. How about you throw in an extra ten percenter on that, emmm?"

Silk glances to the bags and then Joe. "If you get us to the other side posthaste, I'll throw another thousand in for your troubles." She leaves the matter at that, eyes going back to the far shore as if she could, by force of will alone, see Aladriel somewhere, see Sam, see a way to them.

"Aight. Now, where yall headed?" Asks the old man as Marcus climbs in to the boat. "Whatcha seeken?"

The elven woman considers for a moment any of a number of stories, of lies, of creative ways to spin things. In the end, she simply shrugs. Silk remarks, "We are going to the Tower. We're looking for .. what was it you called her? Lil Miss Sunshine?" Her tone is still pleasant, but now there is a certain edge to it; the frustration clawing at her.

THe man looks to Kassandra, seeming to size her up for a long moment. "Aight. Well, you want to go to the teamsters dock then, its the closest to the tower as it goes, but y'll end up payen more to Hector over that way. Surprised he's alive still, what with the money Sunshiney day paid him."

Silk nods, "That'll be fine. Money is just .. money." She mulls over the name Hector and the fact that Ally paid him well, too well apparently. "I'll be happy to talk to Hector, he sounds like someone good to know." She looks off again, a glance to Marcus as she sends a message through the comms.

Commlink-«Silk» "Alrighty. They passed this way and Ally overpaid the guards at the docks. Figure we have to deal with them one way or the other."

Marcus comms back, clicking once on the com.

THe boat ride then is fairly devoid of awesome commentary as the old man helms the boat carefully. He is less risky than he might be, what with river levels low and his boat a few inches deeper than he'd really like. "Ain't no army corps of engineers to keep the river clear no more." Says the man, as he guides the boat around the hulk of a burned out bus in the water.

Silk glances to Ol' Joe, measuring the man for a moment, her forebrain immediately going for the easy lies, the convincing story. She considers a long moment, teetering and then nods once, controlled, "I am .. we are. Yes." A beat passes, a pause and then, "I have to."

"Yeah, I can see how that would be. Astendar and his questors be praised, I say." Says the old man as he pulls the boat to a stop next to the half-sunk trailer where just days before, Sam and Ally got off. "Yall get off a mah boat now, and keep yer money. DOn't take no money from thems that is in the right."

Astendar and his questors? Silk starts to ask but is asked to get out, and moves to do so. "I .. thank you, Joe. Blessings on you and your ship." She nods quietly to the man, moving to head onto the docks/wharf with Marcus, steeling herself for encounter with Hector.

Marcus moves with her, hefting the backpacks and offering silk hers. Hector is at the dock, as he is wont to be. A fresh wound colors his face, the right side showing swelling. "Where yall goen?" Asks he, his words mumbled. One of his men from the other day is gone, leaving just he and the Teamster.

Swinging the pack on, Silk will shrug into it before answering Hector, one hand moving to the straps on her pack a moment, the other adjusting her watch cap, both movements allowing her to make sure all her toys and tools are in place. She nods to the man and then the path past him, "Heading towards the U and onwards from there. Passing through, with business of our own."

Hector nods then, eying Old JOe, then the woman, then the armor that they both wear. "You be dressed like that other pair that came through here. Girlly paid well, never came out."

Silk's smile is two degrees above frosty, "Well at least you got paid well, omae, and that is always a good thing, neh?" She spares a glance to the sun and then to Hector, "Day is wearing on, so how much are we lookin' for?"

Hector eyes Silk then, and then Marcus.. "300 each, I get you a pair of men to escort you. 4 pm and they are off duty and off the island. No exploring anything underground or out of sight of natural light, you scan me?"

"350 each, and I don't need your men, but thank you for the kind offer." Silk counters, gesturing to Marcus, "He is enough of an escort for me, chummer. Too many people make me nervous."

"350… and one of my boys goes with you to make sure any proper tariffs and fees for salvage get paid. That part, ain't for negotiation."

"Sure it is. *Everything* is up for negotiation, omae. That is the nature of the game." Silk watches the man, tilting her head, "Five hundred I think, should cover any sort of 'tarriifs and fees' for salvage. And that way you make sure you get your taste, neh, and don't have to worry bout paperwork."

Commlink-«Silk» She transduces, "Be ready."

«OOC» Blindside says, "eti.nego test :)"
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Negotiation + 4 (phero):
1 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 7 8

Hector eyes the pair of them. The armored magi whom they do not know is a magi, and the woman who is more beautiful than gods own understanding… "A'ight. 5.. up front."

Silk moves her right hand to a pouch on her belt, producing some hard currency. The left doesn't stray far from her hip, only needing inches to draw should need be. She considers the wad in her hand, offering it over to the man. "Up front it is."

"You don't take no guide, you likely ain't comen back, chicka." Says the hispanic with the head-wound as he steps closer. He takes the money, then slides back as Old JOe pulls his boat out of the water.

"Remember, honey!" Calls out the old man. "Astendar watches!"

Silk nods to Hector, tilting her head as Ol' Joe calls out, "Appears that someone is watching out for us regardless, friend. Might be better than a guide, neh?" The woman nods to Hector and his man, waiting for them to clear out of the way. She raises a hand, her right, to Joe to acknowledge his words.

The boat roars off down the channel as the sun creeps past 1:00PM, shadows as short as they get.

Hector pulls back, pocketing the money. "I suggest, chica, you not hang around long. The specters and ghosts, they be very active last few days, very active."

"I don't plan to be here long, but thank you for the information." Silk nods politely to the man .. never hurts to be polite .. and starts forward with Marcus hopefully in her wake. She shifts the weight of the pack, casting a glance to the sun and then the clock ticking in her head.

Marcus follows behind, his mask sliding down with a SHUNCKT sound that seals him in the armor. No need to be subtle here, no need to be law abiding citizens. "Nice place." Says he, watching as the city's rotten core is laid out before them. Snow drifts here and there compete with puddles and mounds of broken glass.

"Yeah." Silk eyes the area, shaking her head at the destruction, the sheer waste of it all. Her hand is no longer alluding to the gun at her side, it is on it, cutting her draw time down. She moves carefully, eyes searching for dangers hidden and overt, keeping watch out for Hector to double-cross them as well.

You've seen the sort of damage that nature can do to a building with no up keep. Now imagine the buildings are 90 stories tall, theres been no upkeep and a constant stream of looting in the last decade, a good 15 years since any effort was put in to the area. In some places, the buildings are baracaded off with signs placed buy their nominal owners that warn of dire consiquences should they be ignored. Here and there are signs the signs are ignored, such as that sign there thats covered in human excriment.

Silk is silent for part of the walk, looking unhappily around. She has seen firsthand the signs of poverty, of the destruction in Tehran and the willful ways people will destroy and pollute where they live like sick animals. She murmurs softly, still loud enough for Marcus probably to hear her, "If they don't fix things, if they don't even try .. how can things get better?" She frowns at the buildings, the damage, the signs and the excriment, unhappy with what she sees but powerless to affect a change.

"Silk." Says Marcus, stepping up next to her. "This is not just… damage. This is the shattergraves. Ghouls and ghosts and spectrers, and bug spirits pop out of the astral wood work here. It's not a question of making it better; its a question of simply -forgetting- about it. They don't want to deal with this; this failure of humanity…"

"Sam says .. people forget about these things and it is that sort of mentality that gets us into trouble. Everyone forgot, didn't listen about the bugs and we get this. And *this*," Silk remarks, waving a hand slowly around, "this is what is going to happen, or worse, if we don't get ready. That is the Mission. Being ready to stop things like this from happening, to .. find a way to fix things, or at least try to keep humanity from making the same tired mistakes over and over again."

Whether or not that is actually the Mission isn't really the point. The fixer trudges on, talking quietly, "Forgetting about it doesn't fix anything. You can't heal with an open wound, Marcus. You can't. You only fester and die."

"I understand." Says he quietly, moving along. The streets, wide down town streets, seem so cramped now, full of crushed cars, bits of buildings, office furniture and piles of rubble, with the shattered spires of the city itself above. Sink holes and broken pavement make the road seem all the smaller still, with the river flowing underneath the roads visible therein. "I really, truly do, Silk…" He intones from inside the armor.

Silk glances to the armoured mage, nodding quietly. "Maybe after we get done, I can look into things." She eyes the streets, the buildings, the litter and destruction, all the broken streets. "Maybe .. if things start to *look* normal they might start to become normal? I know if I am feeling bad and clean up my house, I feel better. I .." She shrugs, "I don't know. I just know this should not be allowed."

She laughs a little, a quiet breath and no more, "I swear, that girl is like a virus, she has infected me with her optimism." Silk shakes her head, rubbing a gloved hand to her face, "But that is for after we get outta this mess."

Glancing over at silk, offering a nod. "I can tell when Sam's had a bad day because he doesn't put his shoes away. He's so fastidious when he's feeling good; in control, powerful. But when it slides, when he doesn't shave, you know he's unhappy. I think the woman has a great effect on you. It's sort of why we're here."

"I'll keep an eye out for the shaving thing; best to know the warning signs." Silk glances hard at something, her pace slowing until she reassures herself it is a bent sign with an odd shadow to it and not something else. "And yes, she has had a great affect on me, that much is very true. I .. hope I've had a similiar affect on her." She shrugs slightly, pinging out at Sam's usual frequencies as they move.

"We may want to swing out some, just in case this Tower has guards out looking. I don't know if we can keep them from seeing us enter the University, but we can at least minimize contact if we can."

«Auto-Judge[]» Blindside (#2329) rolls Intelligence + 4 (Architecture) for "how crafty is Sam?":
1 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 11 15
«OOC» Blindside says, "Pretty goddamn crafty, actually"
«OOC» Kassandra says, "Go Sam!"
«OOC» Blindside says, "Roll me an int check"
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Intelligence:
1 1 2 4 4 5 5 14

Can't Stop The Signal, Mal.

Call it being wary, call it being prepared, but Kassandra flips through his usual frequencies, often high end spectrum that can almost seem like background chatter. A click catches her attention amid the pops and hisses of background radiation and signal deflection. She tunes it in clearer, trying to clean up the signal and gets:

-- .- -.-- -.. .- -.-- / -- .- -.-- -.. .- -.-- .-.-.- / . -- . .-. --. . -. -.-. -.-- / .- - / - .... . / .-- .- - . .-. / - --- .-- . .-. --..-- / -.-. .... .. -.-. .- --. --- .-.-.- / -.-. --- -. - .- -.-. - / -.. .-. .- -.-. --- / ..-. --- ..- -. -.. .- - .. --- -. .-.-.- / .-. . .-- .- .-. -.. / --- ..-. ..-. . .-. . -.. / ..-. --- .-. / .-. . -.-. --- ...- . .-. -.-- / --- ..-. / - .-- --- / .- --. . -. - ... .-.-.- / -- . ... ... .- --. . / .-. . .--. . .- - ... /
Mayday Mayday. Emergency at the Water Tower, Chicago. Contact Draco Foundation. Reward Offered for Recovery of two agents. Message repeats

Silk holds up a fist, dropping to a knee as she gets something. She tilts her head, eyes narrowing as she listens to try and make sense of the .. wait a minute. "Marcus, do you know Morse?"

Marcus shakes his head… "No. I never studied it…."

Think think think. Silk selects the 'capture' function, recording the signal to the Battletac system, reaching over her shoulder for the secretary again. She considers and looks to gain access to the 'trix again, "I hope this is him and not some kid talking to his friend."

Silk eyes the secretary, considering wacking it. "I need to get up." She glances to the nearby buildings, looking for something that looks likely to not collapse if she sneezes.

"Has the code… uh.. asked to see your tits yet?" He asks curiously. "Thats a sure sign its either Sam or a dirty old man." He follows her eyes… "I can try lifting you…"

Dropping her backpack, "No on the tits thing yet," Silk remarks, nodding to one of the buildings, "I'll try that one. Save the magic till we absolutely need it. No sense announcing our presence or summoning Goddesss knows what."

He eyes the building now… "Okay. Lets talk time, Silk." Says Marcus. "Climing that could take a lot of time. A lot of time we don't have. Sun sets awfully quick in these canyons… and we're not to the university yet. Either we -get- to the Univeristy and find a bolt hole for the night, or we get to the uni and get out… but being out in the open at night is NOT high on my list of things to do."

The time comment stops the woman in her tracks. She looks at the message, then back to Marcus. She nods once, tucking the secretary away again and hefting her pack. "Double-time. Let's get to the University, get what we need, and then go get Sam and Ally." Silk shrugs the pack into place, starting to move again.

He exhales… "I… I'm just trying to think like Sam, Silk." He says, moving with her. "I know if I was him, I'd try and assertain if the message was mission critical, and if its in morse, likely its not, but not derail the main mission for a target of opertunity."

"I understand. Just got .. excited .. for a moment. We move, we get the robes and wrangle some spirits. But I am not stopping for the night, not now. They are *right there* Marcus," she gestures towards the general location of the Tower, "and it is all I can do not to kick the doors in and start shooting. So we need to move, to do something, or .." Silk trails off, shaking her head, "We have to keep going."

Marcus and Kassandra skirt a block around and out of the way, walking through this graveyard of modern humanity, to avoid walking directly by the tower. "We'll be there soon, according to this map… then we gotta get inside. Dunno if the place has been looted… but who knows?"

"I .. I don't know. But I don't think the Seer would have sent us on a wild goose chase. I really hope she didn't, I will be very disappointed. But .. the Seer, Ol' Joe .. I just have a weird feeling about all this. Larissa made sure that I talked to her, sending guards. That seems odd, you know?"

Silk watches the area around them, keeping her eyes on what she is doing and not daydreaming or trying to see the Tower from here. She moves cautiously, left hand ready to draw the pistol there.

The building that is the Loyola Magical Research Building, is not actually on the Loyola Campus, which itself, is to the north and was not in the containment zone. The building as you see it, seems remarkably preserved in the shatter graves, its windows intact, its greenery still… somewhat green, if vastly overgrown and poking through the snow.

Raising an eyebrow, Silk glances to Marcus as she looks over the greenery. «<That is somewhat strange, neh?» She moves towards the building now, staying low and using cover to break up her silhouette, looking for an entrance, a door, scanning the windows and their intact state with interest.

«Auto-Judge[]» Blindside (#2329) rolls 8 vs TN 4 for "Astral perception.":
1 2 4 4 5 10 16 22 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Blindside (#2329) rolls 7 for "Willpower":
1 2 4 5 5 5 5

"It's odd, I agree, but… let me take a look." He says, opening his face plate to get a better look. He blinks once, then twice, getting a thousand yard stare in his features, the sort of thing a magi does when astral perceiving. He stumbles back once, then twice, before coming to his knees… "Dear… goddess…" He gasps, one hand going to his eyes…

Silk crosses the distance to the man, a frown on her lips. She kneels next to him, not drawing yet but looking around for possible signs of attack, "Talk to me, tell me what happened, what do you see?" She keeps her voice low, not necessarily soothing but not demanding anything from him, mindful for signs of problems. She has some small experience dealing with mages coming out of perception.

"Its… like looking in to the heart of a maggot, Silk.. like looking in to the festering wound on the heart, like… hearing a hundred thousand screams all at once. It's all of those things, the smell of fire, the acrid toxicity… its just -in your soul-. It's like walking through a rain made of those thigns, and not having a shower… I won't be doing that again."

Nodding, Silk stays next to the man, still scanning all around them. "Don't." She spares a glance to the mage, searching his face a moment, "When you are ready we'll go on. Catch your breath. When you are ready." She frowns faintly, running over the remarks on the astral space in her head.

He takes a moment, to breathe, to come back to his feet. One hand brings a flask of water to his lips, taking a sip. He offers it over to Silk. "Yeah… sorry about that. Buildings got wards on it, that much I Can see. Probably quickened spells on the building itself to keep it secure and safe…"

Silk will take a sip, nodding and handing the flask back. She'll peel off her right glove and pull a celtic patterned ring off and set it down, not touching it for a moment. When she has silently counted to 20 she'll recover the ring and slip it back on, pulling on her glove again.

"Well. I can't say I'd blame them, myself. With all the things roaming around, they'd be crazy not to protect themselves. Let's hope that the protections are to keep out beasties and not nice people like us."

"One hopes." he says, looking around. "Lets go. We can't waste anymore time. We really can't…" he says, sighing and moving with a slight stumble, but moving none the less.

Silk rises as well, moving with Marcus and frowning at his stumble. She nods, heading towards the building and hopefully an entrance. She remarks quietly, "Let's do it then."

The man moves with the woman now, his stride regaining strength. "Damn… It's like ringing in my ears now. Hard. It's there, but only barely." he admits, moving on to the building's grounds now. THe front door is barred, a car set on its side, but there are other entrances; all probably locked or otherwise security checked.

Car in front of door. Well, that is a pretty clear 'do not enter' sign right there. Silk glances to the windows, to Marcus, to the windows. "Seems they are serious about keeping people out." She'll lead towards the side entrances/alternate entrances, doing a once over on the building before committing, "Strange that the windows are still in one piece. Almost screams perspex or some other polymer, or someone with a real fetish towards putting up new windows every day."

"Or whatever shattered the windows on these other buildings, didn't touch this building." He says simply. "Probably a little of both; A university building and protected by magi… who possibly knew what may come down the pike? Hard to say. I know Jason Two-Spirit was faculty here, so he may have put some enchantment on the place…"

In to the Council Building

The elven woman nods wordlessly, moving to circle the building, not running but not dawdling either. "Still. I don't want to screw this place up anymore than we have to, but I *will* get inside. I'd prefer not to see it trashed along with the rest of the area, but if time is running out …" Silk sighs, scoping the angles, the higher windows and other access points.

«OOC» Blindside says, "Roll int"
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Intelligence:
2 2 3 3 4 5 5 13
«OOC» Kassandra says, "The dice are odd. lots of nothing and then 10+"

Out of the corner of her eye, Kassandra will spot a window that is open. She turns to look at it, curious why she did't see it before. For a moment, she may spy what appears to be a human shaped darkness behind the window… and then its gone. But the window remains open.

Silk stops, staring at the open window. She motions to Marcus, sending a transduced thought to the radio, «I could have *sworn* I saw something, but .. no. Just shadows I guess.» The fixer frowns, moving to look the open portal over a moment, ducking down to look for anything out of the ordinary. "Alright. Either we are extraordinary lucky or …" She doesn't finish the thought, shucking her pack and preparing to enter through the window.

«OOC» Blindside says, "Its a story up, along a planter box. You can get there with an atheletics (6) test, -2 for balence augs"
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Athletics vs TN 6 for "Come on baby!":
2 2 2 10 = 1 Success
«Game» Backup to offline storage commencing. Game may freeze for a bit…
«OOC» Blindside says, "Gimmie a pose. :)"
«Auto-Judge[]» Blindside (#2329) rolls 4 vs TN 6 for "Marcus":
2 3 4 10 = 1 Success

Silk eyes the window, the planter and takes a few steps back. She'll get a running start and plant a foot on the wall, kicking herself up and to the planter, swinging like the squirrel Ally accused her of being. She snags the window ledge with one gloved hand, fighting to pull the other up and then using her legs, boots scrabbling at the wall for a purchase. She'll slowly managed to haul herself through the window; it isn't pretty, but it gets the job done. She lays there a moment, catching her breath and apologizing to herself for the twinge in her shoulder, promising herself that she'll go back to the gym, that she'll cut down on the cake.

It's pretty sad, isn't it? Two prime, powerful runners are stopped by something as simple as shimmying up a goddamn building that's got plenty of hand holds! Marcus follows behind as she moves for the window.

Inside, the air is dry. Not like, simply not wet; like -dry-. It tastes mummified on your lips, only with less corpse. MArcus moves inside, taking a moment to exhale. "Its… sealed. Hermetically. Close the window."

The room is what appears to be an office. Papers are scattered, and several books are on the floor, but the room is warm, it's lit… and there is almost no dust. Maybe a weeks worth. Someones family photos hang on the wall, as well as their degree certificates.

Silk gets out of Marcus' way as he slides in and then moves to close the window, making sure it seals down tight. That done, she'll look around quickly, almost casing the area. She leans in, checking the pictures, the names on the degree certificates. An eye goes to the lights, the heat, murmuring to Marcus, "They have power. That's interesting."

The Name on the degrees seems to be Albert Brennamen, he was a Ph.D of Thaumaturgical studies, from the university of Chicago.

"Well, some of the experiments running in the mid fifties involved sustaining magic to create clean energy. I mean, a powerplant is, when you get down to it, nothing but a steam boiler; using energy to make heat, to make steam, to turn a turbine. Fusion, nuclear, coal, oil…"

Silk eyes Marcus, momentarily backpeddling as nuyen signs run by. "If you could do that, do you know the sort …" She cuts herself off, "That's incredible. I'd love to see that sort of research, I mean, the things you could do with it." She sighs, tabling that for the moment, gloved fingertips going over the name on the degrees. She looks to the armoured mage, checking to see if he's got his wind back. "Alrighty. Let's go looking for robes."

Marcus is standing now, pausing to look over a photograph of Albert (A slightly overweight, balding man who, judging by this photograph, was in the SCA). "Interesting fellow." he says, setting the picture down. "Now we just need to figure out where the faculty woudl meet for formal occasions… or if they had an onsite initiatory group…"

"Maybe a big central room? A library? It's a college, so I'd think it would be something .. scholarly. A classroom or lecture haul?" Silk lists off a few ideas, going for the door and listening before opening it slowly, peeking out.

The door squeaks ANNOYINGLY loud on its hinges, but moves freely enough for it… "I don't know. If I had the resources of a respected university in the down town core… I'd…" He lets his eyes trail up through the ceiling… "Something with a view."

Silk follows his gaze up, nodding quietly. She winces at the door, adding more things to her shopping list titled, 'Things to do if I live'. "Let's go look. If nothing else, we can start at the top and work our way down if we are wrong." She moves decisively, opening the door and moving into the hall.

The lights here are off; but small LEDs in the switches indicate power is flowing. The air is stale, but not quite musty. The air conditioning probably shut down long ago, but the enchantments sustained on the building keep it from getting humid or from letting water seep in. It keeps the building preserved. Everywhere you go, there are signs that the building was evacuated in a hurry. Computer gear still sits, obsolete, but untouched on some desks, while papers and other easily movables are just that; moved.

Silk stays quiet now, staying near the wall as she takes in the area a moment, getting a feel for things. She'll start along the wall, looking for a central staircase or, if that fails, a corner door marked 'stairs'. Somehow, elevators don't seem like a good call. She may pause here and there to look at a stray paper that crosses her path but for no more than a second, all too aware of the time issue.

Creeping behind Silk, is Marcus, one hand dropping down to pull a pistol and have it at the ready. Guns are quicker ont he draw than spells most times.

The stairs are easy to find, and probably more reliable than the elevator. It's up and up four flights of stairs before you come to a door that seems to be locked, but there are no stairs that go further.

Silk climbs the stairs carefully, watching her step as they go up. Once at the door she will take a moment and look it over, looking for lock mechanisms, keypads, electronic ports, cameras .. some sort of idea of how it opens. She looks to Marcus and murmurs, "Be prepared, I may try something radical."

"Ah, could you define 'radical', Silk?" Asks the magi, eyeing the woman, and then the door. The door has an out dated keypad and card-reader. the door itself is steel with no window on it, the sort of door that is used in fire-doors and other such high strength situations.

"I thought I might knock. It's a radical idea, most runners never think of it." Silk shrugs. "If someone is in here, I'll bet you twenty nuyen that they know we are wandering around. Maybe a bit of civility will get us further than force."

"It's so crazy… it just make work, but I don't think anyone is in here… or has been in some time."

Kassandra says "And yet a window is open? And there was no sign of rain or snow inside, and the heat wasn't that different in that office?" Silk shrugs, "If nothing happens, well, we've lost nothing but a few seconds, which we can almost afford."

Silk hesitates, and then nods once, bringing up her hand to knock on the door. Not pounding, not banging, just a polite knock."

«Auto-Judge[]» Blindside (#2329) rolls 5 for "Mystery":
1 3 4 4 5
«OOC» Blindside says, "Roll perception"
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Intelligence:
2 2 3 3 4 5 7 10

The door doesn't open. No steam, no hissing, no unsealing of various seals. Nothing like that.

But; the LED on the door does shift to GREEN.

Silk looks to Marcus, smile brightening. She reaches to open the portal before the LED shifts again, taking a breath and opening the door.

The Chamber of the Magi

The door opens, revealing the interior of a meeting room shaped like an dodecagon, a twelve sided circle. It's in the fashion of victoriana, with deep cherry wood and mahogany paneling, a plush, rich carpet of dark colors that offsets the bright, shiney brass. It looks like an adventurers club, with paintings hanging on the walls. Twelve seats sit behind twelve desks in the circle, and behind them, on racks, twelve robes.

Silk's eyes scan the room quietly, taking in the mood, the decor, the .. robes. The word/image pulses in her head, driving her forward now. She takes the first step in and then another, still on the lookout for someone or something, but her goal is clear. She hesitates in her stride, calling out softly, "Hello?"

Marcus moves in behind her, scanning the room… "Now this… is fresh dosh!" Says he, holstering the gun while moving around the large (probably a hundred feet across) room. He looks up to the stained glass dome that dapples light down in to the area… "This is what I call a meeting room."

Offering a grunt, Silk doesn't disagree but doesn't stop moving either, heading towards the closest of the robes. "It is very nice, yes," she offers, "Somewhat large, but you never know how much space you need I guess."

THe closest of the robes rests on a hook under the sign of 'Albert Brennamen'. When you lift it from the hook, a small light set in to the ceiling flicks on, illuminating the desk where Albert would sit…

Silk considers the light coming on as she lifts the robe. She hesitates for a moment before moving on to the next, talking softly, one hand moving slowly over the robe as she looks at, then back to Brennamen's seat, reaching for the next in line. Silk softly remarks as she moves on to the next robe, "I am not sure if there is anyone here, I don't know if you are listening or can hear me. Please .. I need your help."

The next light comes on, illuminating the desk of Deborah Greenrivers… A form starts to take shape in the seat of Albert, under the direct light, indistinct, blurry… but there.

Silk's breath catches as the indistinct figure forms, eyes darting to Marcus. She keeps going, carefully laying Greenriver's robe over Brennamen's with care, treating the robes with the respect they deserve, not simply laundry she is collecting.

The next robe, by the placard, belongs to Roger Kennedy, a mid 30s man who recently completed his doctorate. As you gather his robe, the light comes on again, and Greenriver comes in to slight focus while BRennamen grows a little darker, a little more real…

The Council of Loyola Regents,
The Fellowship of Astendar
1 Albert Brennamen 2 Deborah Greenriver
3 Roger Kennedy 4 Casper Weinberger
5 Tammie Keyes 6 Gunther Hayes
7 Maurice Pepper 8 Cassandra Walters
9 Jennifer Boyles 10 James Three-Birds
11 Kenneth Dumond 12 Laura Chekov

Kennedy's robe joins the other two, Silk keeping an eye on the first form, working to keep her breathing slow and her heartbeat from triphammering loud enough to be heard in the room at large. She moves to the fourth robe, conscious of how she walks and the pace she is taking, trying to match what she has done before, Aladriel's lessons on ceremony coming to mind.

Marcus stays back, simply observing, watching… Kassandra has the situation in hand and he is on guard. The robe of Casper Weinberger (A shaman of the Lion) joins Kennedy, Greenriver and Brennamen, another light coming on and the shades of those who came before him coming in to further focus.

Silk tries to keep her mind clear, trying to concentrate on doing *this*, right now, collecting the robes carefully and with dignity rather than trying to rush around like it is some carnival game. These people deserve respect for their positions and their dedication if everything the decker told her was true, and rushing this would be disrespectful. Weinberger's robe lays atop the first three, her feet moving at the same measured pace.

The robes of Tammie Keyes bespeak a dwarven woman of some voluptuousness. Her robes, green and blue, are trimmed in red. She stood maybe four and a half feet tall. Placing it with the others, the light over her seat comes on..

And so on down the line for Gunther Hayes, a Troll if his robes size are to be understrood, for Maurice Pepper, for Cassandra Walters, for Jennifer Boyles, for James Three-Birds, for Kenneth Dumond and for Laura Chekov. Each robe gathered is a light that comes on, illuminating a desk. When they all are on, it is a circle of bright, direct light that surrounds the room.

Each Beam holds within it, a dark, metahuman shaped form, spectral in appearance, but not ghastly. Ghostly, perhaps. No horror, no sense of anger or rage in them.

They say nothing, simply watching Kassandra.

The circle complete, Kassandra moves to where she hopes is the central point in the room, a place where a supplicant, student, or other might be seen by everyone on the Council. She looks from each spectral form to the next, her nervousness apparent to Marcus at least in the little fidgets, the way she clears her throat. She hesitates, speaking to the Council as a whole rather than any one member.

"I come before you, the Council of the Tower, with the hope that you can help me in this dark time." Her voice starts quiet, no tricks, no oration skills, no attempts to be pithy. She lets her gaze move to each in turn, turning as need be as she speaks, "Would you hear me?"

There comes a buzzing in the room, like taking conversations and murmuring and speeding them up by a thousand times, but overlayed on the glacial sound of a conversation slowed by the same level.

From the shadows created by the lights, a woman steps. In one hand, she bears a simple reed flute, held to her lips while she plays it. As she steps closer, the music fades in to audible ranges. Her movements are serpentine, smooth and with the grace of an angel given flesh form. Her eyes watch Kassandra, smoky grey eyes that track her even as her lips blow over the reed of the flute, her slender fingers bent over holes, producing a haunting melody that at once uplifts and brings hope. Her form of dress is casually revealing, a halter-top of forest green, ripped stockings that show her legs to great effect and a mid-length skirt that flairs with each step. She seems to exude a sensuality that does not necessarily bespeak sexuality…

She removes the reed flute from her lips, a final trill echoing in the chamber. "The Fellowship of Astendar hears you, Kassanda Cindel… You should speak." Her voice is itself, a musical note…

Kassandra watches the woman with the reed flute, called by a name that makes her heart sore and blood sing at the same time. She listens to the music, the buzzing sound in the room. She looks to the spectral forms again, then the person who spoke as she tries to get her bearings. Letting out a shakey breath, she speaks.

"I come before you to ask your help," she says, making the conscious decision to speak plainly and without adorning her words overly much, "A force that is known to you, I have been told, is in the Tower. She has .. she has my wife, and my friend. I was sent by the Seer here, she tells me that only the souls of those slain by the Witch can help me free them safely. I .. I come asking for your help." Her voice falters at the end, the stress of the last hours pulling at her.

The buzz changes in pitch, as if the shades speak to each other in some frequency almost on the audible spectrum. A sound like insects in the distance; an all together unsettling metaphor to have in Chicago, yet benign. "They wish to hear of your love, Kassandra Cindel. The Fellowship of Astendar hold that love, above all, is the most powerful force in the whole of creation; They know why you are here. They want to know why you would be a suitable Questor for their fellowship."

Kassandra blinks, looking to the flute-bearing woman. "I .. hear of my love? I am sorry, I do not understand what .." She breaks off, trying to piece it together. She looks down at the carpet before her, searching for answers.

She steps closer now, smelling of rose hips and sandalwood incense. She holds within her, an inner radiance, as though lit from within with a warmth that leaks out through her smile. "Kassandra Cindel… You bear within yourself a love, something that motivated you to travel to this place, despite the dangers and trials faced, despite uncertainty, despite good sense, some might say. But you came all the same, for those in the tower just a handful of hundred of feet away. Tell these shades, these pale reflections, warm them with your fire."

Kassandra looks up from the carpet to the woman before her, then back to the Council. She draws a breath and starts quietly, awkwardly, "She is my world." Kass pauses, trying to form things into something coherent and then giving up on even that, looking to the shades in the room, trying to pass on what she feels, "Before I met her, I was .. very sad. I didn't believe I deserved to live, deserved to love …" She pauses again, tears starting now, unchecked. "And then, from out of the blue this happy girl starts talking to me, tries even through the walls I put up to be nice to me, to try to reach me." She sniffles, the words slower but still coming.

"At first I couldn't believe that anyone would be interested in *me*, and not .. not this." She makes a gesture at her body, shaking her head, "She wanted to talk to me, she made excuses to be where I was, I where she was." She is quiet for a moment, eyes travelling to the floor. "She made me believe that I was worthwhile. That I could be a better person than I had been, that I could stop being .. stop being so angry at the world, at myself for not being stronger, better."

"And after a time I realized I couldn't imagine a day without her, a moment without hearing her voice, without knowing she was waiting at home for me and wanted me there, with her. That she wanted *me* and not some illusion of perfection, not some .." She breaks off again, a hitching sob shaking her. She looks to the woman before her, the Councilmembers. "She is my soul, my world, my hope. She makes me want to laugh, to feel things." She lets out a breath, "She makes me believe that the world is a better place than I ever dreamed possible."

Kass covers her face with her hands a moment, trying to get control enough to talk. "I want to be with her. I would give up everything for her .."

She steps forward, one hand letting the flute drop to her side, hanging by a strap. She reaches, to take Kassandra's hands in her own, a smile, warm and radiant, burning from within. "Just as horrors exist in this world, so too does the creator, however you approach it, give us passions and beauty." She leans in, whispering then… "I have, in my many travels, seen many people who were nude…. but rarely have I seen someone so naked before me, Kassandra Cindel… so glorious in her worship." She reaches up then, removing the flute from its thong, untying it…

"The Fellowship of Astendar has heard you, Kassandra Cindel… they have heard your love, seen your love. And they know of the love those in the tower bear you. It is a rare thing in this world, this strange new world… to see love so powerful, so raw; so naked." She finishes separating the flute, before raising it to her lips. She presses a kiss to the wood, the material sizzling from the heat of her kiss, leaving a lip-stick mark that is not of lipstick. "Take my Flute, Kassandra Cindel… and when you are ready, when you stand before the gates of Horn and Ivory, play this flute. Worry not that you are naked in your skill, for it matters not. PLay it with your love; With your passion… and nothing can stand in your way."

Kassandra takes the flute with a shaking hand, tears still streaming down her face. She draws a breath, no where near in control of her voice. She nods quietly, pulling the musical instrument close to her chest. She looks first to the woman, then the Fellowship before her, finally able to draw in breath enough to speak, her voice quiet, still ragged with sobs, "Thank you." The words are soft, barely there, almost inaudible beneath the crying.

She looks down to the flute, cradling it with the care she would show Maya, trying to slow her breathing and calm herself.

"So… uh…" Says Marcus, holding one of the robes from the pile, not really looking at Kassandra, but rather, around the room. "What now? I thought the lady said we come here, we get the robes… and something happens? Wheres the earth shattering kaboom?"

Kass looks to Marcus as he speaks, then back to the Fellowship and the woman who spoke to them. She waits, brushing tears from her face with the back of a hand to see if there is an answer forthcoming. Drawing in a shakey breath, Kass steps to Marcus, her voice still soft, "It's alright, Marcus. They heard me." She looks down at the flute in her hands, biting on a finger of a glove to pull it off, to actually touch with bare skin the device. "I know what to do."

She smirks, looking to Marcus, then to Kassandra. She raises one finger to her lips, a shhh motion… and then she's gone, fading from view, leaving just the flute.

THe flute is warm to the touch; warmed from within.

"Eh? I mean, I expected… I don't know. Something -more-."

A laugh is torn from Kass as she opens the satchel at her side, carefully sliding the flute in next to Mr. Froggy, protected and safe near her, beneath her jacket. She glances to Marcus, utterly drained from the display of emotion and just chuckles faintly. "I need a few minutes and then .. then I think we can go."

Calm Before The Storm

Marcus eyes the woman, one hand straying to a pouch that looks like an ammo pouch but in infact, a cigarette pouch. He drifts over to one of the windows facing the white tower, watching it in the slowly setting sun. A cigarette is lit, a chair pulled over while he gives Kassandra the space she seems to need.

Kass sinks down on the floor where she had been standing, pulling off her jacket and relaxing for a few, precious moments. She digs in her satchel, moving some of the less important things out and into the backpack, finding a compact and looking at her face. "Gah. Dreadfull." More digging will uncover a small cloth and a bottle of water, which she will use to wash off her face, trying to erase signs of the tears and the grime from the road. The need for disguises is pretty much over at this point.

Marcus watches her for a long moment, before he steps closer to her. He reaches in to his back, pulling out a selection of wetnaps, alcohol based. "These will take care of the cosmetics a bit better… You okay? I mean… You say you got a message, but what?"

"Ah, thank you!" Kass takes the wetnaps, starting to clean off her face, using the compact to make sure she gets everything. "I .." She thinks a moment, remembering the shhhing motion from the woman she had seen, "I got a .. vision, I guess you'd say? I don't really know how to describe it, but the Council said they would help." She winces internally at the lie, scrubbing at her eyes.

Marcus takes the dirties, putting them in a rubbish pouch. Somethign Sam taught him; leave no trace. Especially trace that can have your DNA or prints on it… "What did the vision… mean? Say? Communicate?"

Kass considers, "The way I understand, when we get to the .. gates .. of the Tower, I'll ask the Fell .. the Council for their help. From there, your guess is as good as mine. I think that we'll have a pretty clear idea of where to go from there, at least I hope so. We'll collect Samuel and Aladriel and bug out." Her face clean, she works on her hands and neck, tucking her gloves away for the now.

«Auto-Judge[]» Blindside (#2329) rolls 8 for "Intelligence":
1 2 2 4 4 4 15 15

Marcus just sort of looks at Kassandra. "What.. arn't you telling me, Kassandra?" He asks, coming to kneel down then plop back on his ass.

Kass glances to Marcus, raising an eyebrow. She chuckles faintly, "I *must* be off my game or else Aladriel's penchant for truth is rubbing off on me." She sighs, using the still damp rag to wipe off her boots. "I'm not telling you .. well. I don't know. It was .. a strange vision, you know? I mean, they didn't really *talk* to me, there was .. noise, sounds, just out of what I could hear. I got .. feelings, sensations, ideas."

He nods then, watching her. "Yeah, I know… it gets pretty metaphorical. You maybe, I dunno, accessed an anchored, directed spell.. or maybe they had a spirit lingering here."

"I don't know, it seemed so real. How long was I .. standing around?" Kass carefully rolls up the damp cloth, pulling out a zipbag and storing it. She considers, pulling an apple and a banana and offering the choice to Marcus. "Whatever it was, it was pretty draining."

"Not long. I mean, I stepped out for a smoke as you were gathering the robes, then I came back in and you were sort of glazed."

"Hm. It seemed .. I don't know. Not too long, but not just a few minutes." Kass shrugs, then frowns faintly. "Wait, you .. stepped out for a smoke?" She peers at Marcus curiously, just catching what he said.

HE nods. "You were all looking around and peering around… I said I was going to get a cigarette before the fireworks got going, you sort of mumbled something, so I took that as an okay and so, you know, went back out in the hallway. I was maybe 10 minutes."

Kass hms, reviewing her mental record of things. She starts to poke at it, then decides that perhaps it is better not to push. "Well." She hms, selecting the banana and leaving the apple if Marcus wants it. She starts peeling, considering quietly. "It isn't too long until dark. I'd like to go in .. say an hour? Right before it gets dark, maybe we can catch a guard shift, or .. you know." She shrugs, "It just feels like the right time to go."

He picks up the apple, biting in to it. "I dislike that it has us in the Graves at night, no matter how good it goes, but that may be a boon for us… more confusion, less normal guys standign around as guards and bullet-projection-points… It has a certain charm. And Audacity."

Nibbling on the banana, Kass remarks, "Yeah, I thought about the whole .. Graves thing at night." She rises, wandering around the room a moment, "It seems like one of those things no one would ever do willingly, so maybe whomever .. this Witch .. she won't expect it."

The elf stands there for a moment then smacks her head with her off-hand. "Stupid!" She quickly crosses the room, liberating the secretary from her bag, "We are up high!" She starts the device, trying to make connection to something that can translate the message.

You can get 1, maybe 2 bars connection to the Chicagoland wifi network, intermittant, but with effort and time, you will get a stable enough connection.

"Yeah… I didn't think about that myself."

"Come on come on." Kass moves around the room, looking for the best connection as she waits for the translator to work, "Just got wrapped up in this other business, is all. It happens." She works on finishing her dinner, letting the machine do its work. "Still .. maybe this will let us know what Sam wanted, a clue to what to do."

The signal hasn't changed, and you can still -get- the morse… but it is vastly lower strength than it was; perhaps a small battery powered transmitter, transmitting on the basest, lowest power setting, for as long a transmission time as possible.

"Same signal .. it's fading down, though. That doesn't really make me happy, that means he set it up and had to abandon it." Kass taps the secretary, not that it will help, still pacing around. She'll fold up the banana peel, tucking it away in its own bag as well, back into the backpack.
"Well, thats good, in a fashion." Says Marcus then, stepping closer… "It means he knew something was wrong and had enough time to -set up- a repeater, yeah?"

"Yes. And it also means that it has been going on long enough to run down the battery on whatever he set up to transmit. I .. don't know how long the battery would last, but we have to expect hours at least." Kass shakes her head.

He nods. "I guess it comes down to what he built it from. The mans crafty, but tools at hand limit you. I can't start to tell you the shit I've seen him build."

"True." Kass watches the progress bar, remarking, "He is resourceful, though, so we should look for other .. clues, other things like this. Depending on how much time he had, he may have set up secondary lines of communication." She frowns a bit, "If he could."

"Yeah… it comes down to what he had available. What he was expecting and what contingencies he had planned for… and I don't -know-."

Kass nods soberly, eyeing the machine. "I need to learn Morse and this woulnd't be an issue. That or get a proggy for the machine to carry around." She shakes her head, chastising herself.

Marcus settles down next to her, cutting off a hunk of the half eaten apple and offering it over. "He's got a thing for unusual forms of communication. You know he speaks.. er… signs… sign language?"

The signal changes, sparking a beep from your pocket secretary:

- .... .. ... / .. ... / .--- --- .... .- -. / .-- ..- .-.. ..-. ... --- -. --..-- / -.. .-. .- -.-. --- / ..-. --- ..- -. -.. .- - .. --- -. .-.-.- / .- -. -.-- / --- -. / ..-. .-. . --.- ..- . -. -.-. -.-- --..-- / .-. . ... .--. --- -. -.. .-.-.- /
"This is Johan Wulfson, Draco Foundation. Any on frequency, respond.

Taking the apple piece with a nod of thanks, she shakes her head, "I didn't know, but it makes sense. Silent, not as common these days thanks to cybernetic enhancements and replacements, impossible to 'overhear' over the radio." Kass frowns as the signal changes, "Gah! It changed!"

He finishes off the apple now, watching the woman carefully. "What… did it change too?

Kass growls at the pocket secretary, "I swear I am coming back here and putting up repeater towers for trix signals. I don't know. Dot dot dot dot .. " She shows the secretary to Marcus, mentally reaching out to the tactical radio/Battletac system, broadcasting across Samuel's standardly used frequencies. "Geist, this is Silk, over. Do you read?" She says aloud, "I am going to broadcast across his frequences, scan for other stuff. If it changed, maybe that means he is back to somewhere he can hear from, back to a real receiver."

The only frequency that is transmitting seems to be a VLF signal, containing the morse code. VLF's use very large antennas and low power ratios, to produce a powerful signal for the power used.

"Only the morse is coming through. Damnit." Kass frowns, tapping on the screen of the PDA and checking for signal strength. She frowns … "Marcus!" She glances sharply to the man, "This is a school, neh? What are the odds there is a library here, in this building?"

Marcus gestures down one floor.. "There's a reference library there.." He says curiously. "Copies of just about every encyclopedia ever written down there…"

Kass bounces to her feet, already moving for the door. "Including Morse code!" The elven girl takes off, "I am so stupid!"
Marcus is after her like a shot. "Well, uh, it's not a normal school, so I could see how that may escape your notice!"

"HA!" Kass bounces down the stairs, two at a time, sprinting down to the next floor. She looks both ways before moving towards the area she thinks the library is, her movements quick, energetic. Something to do, a way to find what she needs. She keeps an eye out, just in case something bizarre jumps out at her, but keeps moving regardless.

Nothing evil bounces out at you, nothing grabs at you, hell, because Johny's not around, nothing even cops a cheap feel. Marcus pounds down the stairs, the sound ringing down the stairwell. The reference area is decorated much in the same way, but more like a library. Floor to
Magic, magic, magic .. Reference! Kass starts moving down the shelves, rapidly searching for encyclopedia marked R or M or books on radio. The elven girl searches as quick as she can, muttering to herself, "Please don't be checked out, please don't be checked out…"

Lost in Translation

Encyclopedia Brittanica, M, Morse, Samuel (HAH!), Morse, Code. A full discourse on the code's history and the translation of it, with charts.

"Gotcha!" Kass grabs the book, heading for a table with paper, pen, or if she needs to the secretary and her stylus. She starts working on a translation, "I swear, as soon as I learn Morse he'll switch to smoke signals."

"Probably." Says Marcus then, watching her.

"Dot dot .. ok, and then …" Kass mutters, sketching out the letters as she translates, "And then pigeons, and squirrels with notes tied to their necks."

"He doesn't like homing pigeons. They are almost useless for intelligence work, actually, only able to fly to one pre-set location."

Kass pauses, looking up to stare at Marcus. She gives a long-suffering sigh, "Why doesn't it surprise me that you've had that conversation." She keeps translating, counting dots and dashes and spaces and turning them into letters.

"Because uh, I'm learning tradecraft from him. I asked about it because you always hear about that drek, you know? Reading spy novels and watching television."

"True. I wonder if you could teach them or magically implant a little message and change of direction in their heads." Kass considers for a second and then goes back to the translation, "Might be an interesting little experiment.:

"2040, they tried cybernetics. But the cybernetics themselves affected the magnetic field of the birds and they flew erratically."

"D .. R .. cybernetics? Seems like overkill for a bird." Kass shakes her head, crossreferencing and checking her findings, "I'd think magic would be cleaner than something you implant. I was reading about a magician that could control packs of wild dogs."

"Cybernetics can be mass produced. Magic cannot, our rarified air in the magical spectrum not withstanding, Kassandra. There are may be a few thousand full magi in a thousand mile radius of us."

"C .. O .. right, always something." Kass shrugs a little, "Still, as a back up of a back up of a back up plan, it could be interesting. Then again, if you could use magic you could send a spirit."

"And thats the trade off, right there. Watcher spirits are smarter than a pigeon, and faster. A watcher can hit 2 kilometers a second at a flat out run, on average."

"O .. U … N .. I remember. Ally told me how fast she can come back astrally to talk to me." Kass eyes the little dots and dashes, "Gotta be an easier way." She keeps working, however, keeping track of the letters she has already translated, so she can construct her own message back.

He points to OUN… "Foundation…"

Kass nods her thanks, jotting that down and moving on to the end of the message. She remarks, "Do me a favor and work out a quick message we can send back?"

"Sure… tell me what you want to say?" He asks, moving around to hover over her shoulder, almost touching, but not quite, so they can use the same chart.

Kass frowns, "A … N .. Y… Um. Say .. S here with M. Where are U?" She keeps translating, eyes focused on the chart.'

Marcus takes out a pad of paper and starts writing a dash and dot message… He moves quickly, bashing out the message using her own notes.

"O… N .. F.." Kass considers "Any on f…frequency? Let's say frequency. He is trying to contact someone, Draco Foundation side. Right. So he has a chance to make contact."

"Can you transmit? Do you have a transmitter?" He asks, looking to her. "I mean, we can receive, but can you click back to him?"

Kass looks blank for a moment, then shifts mental gears and activates her Electronics skillsoft, digging her radio off her belt. "I think we can. I don't know if the radio is rigged for it, but I think if not I can figure something out."

"I can see why he likes you." Says Marcus then, grinning as he sets the paper down with the translated message on it.

Kass produces a multi-tool from her belt, eyeing the device for a moment.

Marcus steps back now, letting the woman work, giving her space.

Kass tunes the radio to the correct frequency, keying the mike in time with the dots and dashes, reading off the paper. She will repeat the message twice and then wait for any response.

... / .... . .-. . / .-- .. - .... / -- --..-- / .-- .... . .-. . / .-. / ..- /
S here with M, Where R U

There is a silence on the radio, a sort of pause, a pregnant, gravid pause that stretches on for eternity before the airwave positively BLISTERS with traffic.

-.. --- / -. --- - / .... .- ...- . / .-.. --- -. --. / .... .- ...- . / -... . . -. / .-.. . ..-. - / ..-. --- .-. / .- / -- --- -- . -. - / .. / .- -- / -.-. --- -- .--. .-. --- -- .. ... . -.. / .- .-.. .- -.. .-. .. . .-.. / .. -. / -.. .- -. --. . .-. / --.- ..- . . -. / .. ... / -- --- - .... . .-. / .. ... / --. .... --- ..- .-.. / .-- .- -. - ... / ... --- -- . - .... .. -. --. / -. --- - / ... ..- .-. . / .. / .- -- / .. -. / -... .- ... . -- . -. - / -. --- - / -- -.-- ... . .-.. ..-. / -.. --- / -. --- - / .- .--. .--. .-. --- .- -.-. .... / -.. --- / -. --- - / .- .--. .--. .-. --- .- -.-. .... / -.. --- / -. --- - / .- .--. .--. .-. --- .- -.-. .... / -.. --- / -. --- - / .- .--. .--. .-. --- .- -.-. .... /
Do not have long have been left for a moment I am compromised Aladriel in danger queen is mother is ghoul wants something not sure I am in basement not myself do not approach do not approach do not approach do not approach

Kass blinks, "Oh shit." She looks at Marcus, "NOW he is chatty?" She grabs a pen, starting to have a better feel for the code. She lets out a breath, "D … O…"

Marcus points to the end of the code.. "This is all repetition, he's saying something over and over…"

"Work on that part, I'll do the first part, ok?" Kass works quickly, eyes skimming the message and filling in letters as she can.

He nods, bringing a chair over to almost climb in to Kassandra's lap, metaphorically speaking, to work. "D… O…. N…"

"N .. O .. T .. H .." Kass murmurs the letters, using her notes as well as the chart to fill things in, the size of the message worrying her.

"Do… Not… App..ro.." Marcus trails off then, answering then. "Do not approach." He sets his portion of the message down. "Do not approach. He repeats that 4 times."

"Do not have long have been …" Kass eyes Marcus, breaking off. "He is warning us off. Something happened and he doesn't want us in it!" She eyes the rest of the message, looking torn between translating and heading to the Tower now.

He gestures to the message, taking another portion for himself.. "Finish the message. Context is everything."

Kass nods, frowning darkly. "L.. E.. F.. T.." She scribbles faster, eyes darting back and forth between the message and the notes, the code, forcing herself to concentrate.

"G… H… O… Ghost? Gholgotha?" He asks himself, continuing to translate.. U… L… W…. Ghoul Was.. Ghoul Wan… Ghoul Wants?"

Kassandra says "For .. a mo..m…e..moment," Kass continues, "He's been left alone, that means they have him locked up somewhere." She keeps translating, "Ghouls .. locked up …I … A.. M .. C""

"Well glory that, the ghoul wants something…" Says Marcus, filling in a few letters based on the length and placement of letters… "Ghoul wants something not sure"

"O..M..P..R..compromised!" Kass fills in the blanks as they sort the message out. "A…L…A…" She stops, the pen bending for a moment in her hand. "Aladriel," she whispers.

"in Basement…. He's in the basement. Probably how he's transmitting, using the structural steel… He's probably turned the whole goddamn building in to his antenna…"

Kass forces herself to pick out the next letters, nodding to what Marcus says about the building. "I .. N .. D.. A…"

"Not… Not my… Not myself. Not myself, do not approach. Thats what he's repeating. He's compromised and not himself…"

"N..G…Aladriel in danger." Kass stares at the message, hands and mind and mouth still working, a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, "Q..U..queen. Easy, that one. I .. S…"

He settles back, letting her work through the last few words, reaching for his cigarettes. Fucking morse code.

"Queen is .. M..O..T…H.. Queen is mother?" Kass sits back, eyes wide at the revelation. "Word that follows is the same as this. Is. Queen is Mother is Ghoul." She stares at the paper, then to Marcus. "Ally's Mom is alive and is the Evil Queen of the Dark Tower in the middle of the Shattergraves. Sam is not himself and in the basement. He doesn't want us to come."

She snags the paper, looking at the code for a minute and transmitting free hand.

Marcus watches Kassandra, very carefully, then at the page… then Kassandra… "No.." He says then. "He doesn't want us to come for -him-… or he'd not tell you that she was in danger."

Kass nods, scribbling something down and counting dots and dashes as she keys the mic.

The response comes back swiftly… very swiftly…

-.. --- / -. --- - / .- .--. .--. .-. --- .- -.-. .... .-.-.- / .- .... -- . . .-. .- / .--. .-.. . .- ... . --..-- / -.. --- / -. --- - / .- .--. .--. .-. --- .- -.-. .... .-.-.- / .. / .- -- / -. --- - / ... .- ..-. . .-.-.- / --. . - / .- .-.. .-.. -.-- .-.-.- / --. . - / --- ..- - .-.-.- / -.. --- / -. --- - / .- .--. .--. .-. --- .- -.-. .... .-.-.- / - .... . / ..-. .- -.-. . .-.. . ... ... / --- -. . / .. ... / .-. . - ..- .-. -. .. -. --. .-.-.- / -.. --- / -. --- @##@!$^#^!$^!#T$RWFDED#DDF - Signal terminated -
Do not approach. Ahmeera please, do not approach. I am not safe. Get Ally. Get out. Do not approach. The faceless one is returning. Do no @##@!$^#^!$^!#T$RWFDED#DDF - Signal terminated -

Kass remarks, "Lost signal. He is pissed, I bet. Compromised .. maybe she tried to turn him? I mean, are ghouls like vampires in the trids, trying to bite you and turn you?" She looks worriedly at Marcus, already starting the translation.

He shakes his head… "He's immune." He again points to several sections… "He's repeating here, again… do not approach… something… do not approach, something…"

She points at the first three words, "That is Do Not Approach, same as the previous message." Kass writes that down, moving on, "We aren't leaving him here. If he isn't safe, then we will knock him out and take him with us and deal with it after we get gone."

"Preaching to the Choir here, Kassandra." Says he, letting her translate the last message from Sam.

"Thats what he calls you in private." Admits Marcus. "He says Kassandra doesn't fit."

"N..O..T..S…not safe. G..E..T…A…L…L.. I am not safe get Ally..get O..U…T.." Kass scribbles more letters, "That's The. F..A..C..E.."

He paces now, exhaling a cloud of smoke that would have been unthinkable when this building was actually used as a school; smoke seeps in to paper and never seems to come out.

"L..E.. Faceless? O..N..E…The faceless one? What does that mean?" Kass eyes the message, looking to Marcus. "The faceless one ..that is is .. R..E..T..U..returning. Then he starts to repeat do not approach."

Kass slides the message back, rubbing at her eyes. "Ok. So we have useful information. Ally's Mom is the Queen and a Ghoul, wants something. Ally is Ok, as far as he knows. There is *another* thing there that he calls the Faceless One. He is in the basement, and they have managed to 'compromise' him to the point that he doesn't want us to try to approach or save him. So he is .. worried what he might do? You said he was immune, so .. what else could it be?"

"Well." Says Marcus, thinking that over. "I know he has roots with Ally going back decades. It's possible her mother knows something about Sam that she's used to hurt him, mentally… I know there are a lot of spells that deal with that sort of thing. And if she was able to bring down the council from within in that short of time… well, its possible that she's adept at them. It may also be this faceless thing…"

Kass nods slowly, "What is faceless? I mean .. most everything has a face of some kind, even Ghouls as far as I know. And he specifically referred to the Queen and Mother, so he'd not use a third reference for her. So this is definately something else .." She considers, reaching onto her belt and pulling out a clip with a brillian gold marking along the base, drawing the Savalette from her left hip holster and ejecting the current clip, then the round in the chamber before replacing with the new gold-bottomed clip. The clip that was in the weapon, dark red, will go back into a pouch.

"So some sort of mind control, maybe. What breaks that sort of thing?" She considers what she knows of magic from Ally and the notes she has been studying.

"He does, or being away from her.. or being shielded by another magi."

"Is it the sort of thing that breaking her concentration, causing pain would remove?" Kass looks unhappy with the prospect of having to actually get in a fight with Aladriel's mother, "Or maybe we can .. knock him out and shield him, get him out of the Tower, away from things."

"Well, lets assume it's a classic control thoughts. That makes him do what she wants, but convinces him its his idea; the classic manchurian candidate. She would have to sustain it, yes, but lord knows how many sustaining foci she has in or on that tower… if she's directly sustaining it, then yes, interrupting her would break the spell; but that doesn't necessarily stop the mental damage thats done while she's still got the control. THe unshielded mind is like… well, Kassandra, imagine the mundane mind is the matrix, and the prepared magi is the decker. He can't keep her out if she wants in. Neither can ally, in any long term sense. If she's seperated them, its possible she's also got Ally…"

Nodding, Kass looks like she has thought of that possibility as well. "And not just with mind control. Aladriel misses her mom pretty badly, and that can be more powerful than even magic." She looks at the paper, absently patting at her satchel, where Mr. Froggy is, where the flute is. "There isn't any help for it. If she does, then she does and we have that much more on our plate, including Goddess knows how many minions and whatever else lives here."

"I don't know what the Council is going to do. Maybe, just maybe, the thought of facing them again will blow her concentration and make her .. um .. gather all her power or whatever. Or at least distract her long enough for us to do what we need to do."

The man nods to her, thinking it over. "Its a possibility. Hopefully your… uh.. men… council… guys… will have something that evens the odds a bit."

Continued in Part Three; Crescendo
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