My Kind Of Town Part 2
Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four

This plotlog is a continuation of 'My Kind Of Town'

Part One Continued.

Private Conversations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Indeed. Of all the bodyguards in all the world, Aladriel Cindel, why did you bring that one?" She asks, but her tone reveals it was mostly a rhetorical question. "Where did… you find him? Viktor Rodinko disappeared 20 years ago.." She seems about to say more, but stops.

Ally eyes the Queen for a moment. Though she's known that Sam has many different alias, she finds it most strange to hear the woman refer to the man she's known as 'Samuel' as this other person. Especially because this 'Viktor' name is spoken with such…history behind it.
"We've known each other for a very, very long time. All of my adult life, and most of my teenaged years. A very long time."

"I see." Says the Queen. "How did you meet him? It seems an awefully big coincidence that you would come to my tower with him, with all the samurai in the universe you could choose from. "

How did she meet him? A faint smile touches Ally's face despite herself. "When I was young and stupid. At a store. Was working there and he was acquaintances with the owner. He didn't like me much back then. I was a bit…mm, more casual with the use of my magic. You know how he doesn't like that."

"Indeed. He never did care for the overt. I imagine this tower grates on him every moment he is in it." She watches Ally now, an eye drifting to her weapon focus Katana. "An interesting choice in blade."

Giving a little nod of her head in agreement to that statement, Aladriel notices the Queen's gaze drift downwards. She doesn't put a hand protectively over it, though the urge to is almost overwhelming. "Why do you say so?" she asks, before she adds a bit of background herself. "My mother, Anya Cindel, whom I'm here to discover more about," she reminds, "Was very good with them. She taught me some. It suits me."

The Queen looks to the door that the Marquess stepped out with Samuel, the faintest look of consternation crossing her features. "Indeed. She was." Her voice is a little distant then, thinking to the past. "Aladriel, I may need your assistance, with what I am to do tonight. The blade you have offered may not be enough, with the enormity of what you ask. Will you be willing to assist me in my efforts on your behalf?"

Though her subconsciousness does absorb most of what she just heard, her consciousness is hyper-attuned to the first part, and Ally doesn't let anything else past. "She was? You knew her? You said that like you knew that yourself. Tell me how you know that?"

"Anya is not unknown to me, no. She came to this tower a wounded woman, grievously harmed in her 'adventures' in the city beyond. Her team, she said, was dead… and the council of the Tower took her in."

"Wounded? And her team was dead…" sadness now on the mage's face. These were people she knew. And logic said they were dead, but still, to hear it… "What happened, then? Did you help her? Did the…Council? Help her?"

"The Council of the Tower were wise, Aladriel. They knew she had very little chance of recovery from her wounds, not without the finest in medical care available. Magic can do much, but much magic was already being used elsewhere. There were those with lesser need and greater chance for survival."

Ally's eyes narrow and her hands clench tightly at her sides as she listens to the Queen's tale. "So they did nothing to help her, then? They just left her? And what of you? Surely you could have done something. Unless…" she looks a bit angrier and her tone is accusing, "Were you part of this Council?"

"Aladriel, you must.. appreciate… this was a different world from what it is even now. The Insect Spirits swarmed and in the course of two years, nearly 4 million people died. You cannot judge the council by their actions to choose not save one woman who would take the resources that could be used to save ten others." She sighs then… "And no. I was not yet on the council. One of the councilers took pity on the woman, though, trying to nurse her through the wounds and the infection."

"Then they were stupid. You need to think about what could have possibly been gained!" Ally doesn't quite yell, but it's close. "She could've helped other people! They could've saved 10 people who would just be new victims, as opposed to one who might be able to save someone else." Getting that out takes effort, and Ally starts the slow count down from 10 to calm herself into at least being civil again.
"What counciler? And what happened to them both?" she asks, her voice lower now.

"The councilor, James Three-Bird… was a Shaman. He died two months after Anya did. Her infection consumed her… Destroyed who she was." She closes her eyes, one hand reaching up to touch her brow. "James.. Jimmy… was a good man. Full of heart. Full of soul. In the time it took the infection to consume her, Jimmy came to love Anya… and could not destroy her when she passed entirely to the other side."

Aladriel's stomach sinks into somewhere that it is not likely to return from in quite some time. She looks at the Queen and her face doesn't react. It hasn't really changed at all. It's frozen, much like her whole body is. Only her words come out, and they are strained.
"She died….couldn't destroy her? I don't understand what you are saying. What was the infection? What…I don't understand."

Aladriel's stomach sinks into somewhere that it is not likely to return from in quite some time. She looks at the Queen and her face doesn't react. It hasn't really changed at all. It's frozen, much like her whole body is. Only her words come out, and they are strained.
"She died….couldn't destroy her? I don't understand what you are saying. What was the infection? What…I don't understand."

"Death is an inarticulate term." Says the queen then, looking down to her hands. "She was infected with Krieger-Strain HMHVV, Aladriel. It consumed her, took her, and made her a Ghoul."

Ally makes a sound and a hand comes to her mouth, and she shakes for several long moments. Her other arm wraps around as though to hug herself. That is how she stays for…who's to say. A long while. It looks like she's going to cry and the only thing stopping it is force of will. Keeping them at bay. Demanding that they not fall and streak her cheeks.
Then, abruptly, her eyes widen and she shakes her head violently and points a finger at the Queen. "Did she die? Did she? Krieger-Strain doesn't….it DOESN'T mean death! She…the symptoms can be all over the place. They…no, do you know she died? She could still be out there, not dead, not someone completely different. I'm a nurse, I've read case studies about it. Just because she was inf ected does not mean she's gone!"

The Queen rises smoothly, her gown rippling softly and emitting the sound of silk on silk. "Tonight, I will work. And tomorrow… I will take you to meet your mother, Aladriel. But you must… be prepared for what you find. Everything in this world is not what it seems, and your expectation is a dangerous thing. I will need you to go to your rooms.. and cleanse yourself. A hot bath, meditation… but you must find your center, Aladriel, to be any use to me."

"You know where she is?" Aladriel asks softly, but the accusing tone is gone. A lot of what makes the woman herself is gone. The energy disappeared, the happiness, the excitement and largely the hope, is gone. "Fine," she murmurs, a deep, shuddering breath wracking her for a moment. "Thank you for taking me, and for telling me."

"I know how to find her." Says the woman then, her eyes downcast. "You have traveled so far, for such unwelcome and unhappy news. I hope the closure it brings will be… comforting."

The Queen turns then, moving from the room with the dignity and grace her title demands.

To the chambers.

"I'm going to find her. And if there's even a little bit of her left inside, that'll be enough," Ally says after the Queen, not knowing nor caring if the woman hears her. It's as much for her own benefit as anyone else. Looking around then, Ally realizes she's got no idea where her room is. With a last look around, she goes after where she saw Johny being taken.

The Marquess slides in front of Ally as she moves to follow. One hand is playing with his Cravat, eyeing the woman with a smirk to his lips. "I'm sorry Miss Aladriel…" Says he, his voice barely containing the condescending amusement… "But your rooms are -north- facing. Come, I will show you to your quarters."

Ally comes to a quick stop when the Marquess just appears from nowhere. Nothing to bring her out of the blah's like being confronted by the strangest looking being she's ever seen. Looking at the man/thing carefully, Ally says slowly, "Viktor wanted rooms facing South."

It's red lips quirk in to a moi of amusement. "Oh look at that. It can remember geographic preference." It seems utterly charmed by the girl. "He wanted North, this much is true, but you didn't state a preference, and since you are not rooming together, and really, its for the best, that lech. He's likely to molest you in the night, and that would be -my- prerogative, not his."

Ally stares at the Marquess for a minute and then shakes her head. "Fine. Whatever. First show me where his room is, let me say hi to him, and then you can show me to my room."

It's smirk spreads in to a smile that pulls back to reveal white teeth, the sort that are not quite animal, but decidedly not human. "Oh, of course… but only for a moment though, Ah… -Aries-.." He seems decidedly amused by that name… "Wants you to start purification immediately."

"Do you have another name you prefer for her?" Aladriel asks curiously as she motions for the Marquess to lead her onwards towards Samuel's room. She tries not to stare at him, or flinch at the teeth just revealed, but it is a real trial, that much is certain.

The man's stance and style scream 'fop', but that sort of fop who's rapier isn't decorative. "Oh, she has many names, but the one we use now is Aries, until she chooses to take a new one. NAmes are like dresses, wear them once, cut them from the womans body and then discard both."

"What were some of her old ones?" Ally asks curiously as she watches the man lead her onwards, really looking for all the world that like she just wants to poke and prod him. But she behaves herself quite well.

"Tisk tisk tisk! Such curiosity. It may get you in to trouble someday." Says the man-thing as he brings her to a heaven oaken door, like you see in movies, with the arched top. "Mr. Rodinko's chambers, Ms. Cindel. I will not allow you to stay long, as indeed, the Queen has given orders and they will be followed, yes?"

"Thank you, Mr. Marquess," Ally says, managing to not look too annoyed when he doesn't answer her question. She knocks on the door, waits three seconds and then ducks inside.

The interior of the room is a simple enough thing, a standard single bed like would be found in any college doorm, a barred window looking to the south, a small bathroom with a shower stall and a wooden desk. Sam is currently, as you step inside, coming out of the bathroom, his arms up and toweling off his head; alas, you've come at a moment where he's quite indecent.

"Ally!" says he, dropping the towel three feet south. "Goddamn it, knock!"

"I did knock!" Ally gasps as she comes in, sees what there is to see and promptly blushes and looks away. "Just was coming to see if you were okay. They've given me a room faced North."

Sam's one of those guys without an ounce of body fat on him. Sculpted like David out of marble. "Okay." He says, moving behind the bed. He puts his backpack up on the bed to create a waist high view-block, then goes back to drying his hair. "Knock louder."

Nodding slowly, Ally seems…well, decidedly not herself. But that's not surprising, is it? "How did you know her?" she asks quietly, of the Queen.

"She was part of a team that extracted me from Saint Petersburg in 48." He finishes drying off his hair, then gestures to a pair of underwear on the chair. "Toss those this way."

Walking to the chair, Ally grabs the underwear and throws them to the man. "I see," she says simply. "She said my mom got Krieger-strain…but didn't die. And she knows where to find her."
This is said in a complete, matter-of-fact way, all but devoid of emotion.

He snatches the boxer briefs out of the air with one hand, then slides them on without dramatics or fanfare. Just covering his junk. He steps out from behind the pile of goods now, about to answer.

Thats when the door opens and the Marquess peers in. "Ah. You see? Molestation in progress. That will never do. Ms. Cindel, please, come with me."

Looking to the door as the Maruqess peers in, Ally sighs. She looks to Sam for a moment and then back to the Marquess. "Alright. Well…come find me if I scream," Ally tells Sam half-heartedly before she makes to go with him.

Sam nods to Ally. "I won't let you down, Ally." he says, moving ofer to where the girl is. He reaches down, to kiss the top of her head. "Now go. Don't keep the queen waiting."

"Yes, lets not keep the Queen -waiting-.." Says the Marquess. "Darling trunks, Viktor. I had taken you for a briefs man."

"I like the snug support, the lift is good."

Ally smiles faintly at the touch of affection from the man, but she doesn't respond to it. She's…well, the only emotions she's got left she is saving for when she gets into the privacy of her own room. She goes with the Marquess wordlessly, and without looking back to Sam.

The door closes on Sam's room as you are lead back through the tower. Ally's room is two stories up, in a minaret looking to the north and the less destroyed sections of Chicago. It could almost look 'normal' from this vantage. THe room is MUCH less spartan than Sams, with full carpeting, an ornate desk with bookshelves, a massive four poster bed that's fit for a princess. The room is decorated in jewel tones much as the rest of the tower, but here amathyst-purples and quartz-pinks dominate.

"Ahh, my favorite room in the tower; the Regency Chambers. Here you are. Go now, get naked, get clean, get centered. Do all those -magely- things the Queen is always going on and on and on about." He makes a circular gesture with one gloved hand. "You women -do- go on."

Ally was expecting something…not what she has. But when she sees the full scope of the room, it snaps her out a little bit from her funk. "It's gorgeous,' she murmurs as she looks around, eyeing the Marquess for a moment. "Be sure to send my thanks to the Queen for her generosity in giving me this fine room."

"Of course, Ms. Cindel. Tell me." He leans in close now, invading the girls physical personal space with a stride…" His hand idly pulls at the back edge of the glove on the other hand, ensuring its still perfectly in place… "Why is this woman so important to you? She left you more than a decade ago, child…"

Aladriel takes one quick step backwards and puts her hand on the hilt of her katana, pulling it just enough to flash a glint of blade at the Marquess. Her expression hardens a little bit, but she doesn't ramp up the hostilities any further. "She is my mother. I don't know…if you ever had a family. But she's mine. And she would not have left me without a good reason. She wouldn't have wanted me to come here… and that is because she loves me. And that's why I'm here, because I love her."

The grin comes back, revealing those teeth. His eyes flicker to the sword, a red, almost bloody seeming tounge coming to flick out over his teeth. "What if I told you that the Queen is lying to you, Ms. Cindel?" He asks then, his hands moving behind his back as he closes the door. "What if I told you she knows the -true- fate of your mother?"

Aladriel tilts her head a little bit at the Marquess. "You've just told me," she says quietly, not changing her stance in the slightest bit, even as the man closes the door. "Are you going to go on?"

"As of yet." His tone returns to a light one, almost amused. "I've told you nothing. I asked, what if I did. I have yet said little. But if I had a tale such as that to tell, which I do not confirm nor deny, as Viktor is so fond of saying, would you wish to hear it… and if so, what would it be worth to you to hear it?"

Ally looks tired as she takes a hand off of her sword, rubs her head and starts to filter out the background count in the room as best she can. "I would want to hear what you have to say, and also wonder why you're saying it," she murmurs. "As for…what I'd offer. I do not know you, Mr. Marquess. I don't know what you may want."

"Well then. You think on that, young lady… You think on that. I will return Two hours, then again in four hours. At Midnight, the Queen will see you in her chambers for further discussion. If at any time you wish to… discuss things further, why, the Marquess is always at your disposal."

"Just speak my name, if you wish to speak to me…" He starts to move for the door then, his hands folded over each other behind his back.

"You feel that in two hours I will suddenly know what it is that you want?" Ally asks confusedly as the Marquess makes his offer and then makes to leave. It's a very curious thing, to be certain. "I…you're very unique to me, sir. So I can't honestly say I'm certain what types of things you may desire."

"Isn't that always the challenge." He looks back to her, then, one eye peering from under the white hair that falls over his features. "I will wait. Soon… you will want what I have. And when that comes… you will know what I want. What sacrifice is needed, young lady." The Marquess then turns to leave.

Ah. A riddle. And one she can't solve at the moment. So Aladriel looks after the man and nods her head. Very well. "Goodbye, Mr. Marquess," she bids him and waits for him to leave so she can so, sit, think. Maybe clean up like she was supposed to.

"Just Marquess. Mister is a lower ranked title, my lady. De S'comparsa if you are to be overly familiar…"

"Ah. French, of course," Ally says with a sigh. "I didn't mean any disrespect," she sighs after the man. wariness everywhere from her tone to her body language at this point. Finding out that your mother has become a ghoul will do that to you.

With that, the man-thing-spirit-dude is gone, the door closed, then bolted (From the outside), behind him.

The moment the fellow is gone, Aladriel tries her comms to see if she can raise Sam. "Sam?" she calls as she goes about the room, looking for…suspicious things.

The comms don't connect. Just scratchy static. The room itself is a remarkably untechnological thing. Some electrical outlets are present, but nothing seems like it is electronically powered or controlled. The chandelier above that provides light looks like candles. If someone made an intelligence check, they might see more.

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
1 1 2 3 4 4 4 5 9 11

The room does not appear to contain anything of an evil nature, or even the sort of nature that would be slightly naughty. The books are all Disney titles or young womens adventures, the sort one might have read at the age of 9-13 and found engrossing, but would today look at with slight distaste for the clear tropes involved. There are clothes in the closet, a full walk in closet with mirrors from every angle, a variety of gowns and less formal wear.

Aladriel blinks at the books that she finds inside, running her hands through them curiously as though to verify that they are really real. And they certainly seem to be. Sighing as she looks all about, Ally goes to the bed and sprawls out on it. And she does the first thing that she needs to do at this point: she curls up and cries. Time flies by as she does so. A good fifteen minutes at the very least. And then, slowly, she'll get herself together…and investigate taking a shower. Cleaning herself up physically to pave the way for mentally.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 9 + 9 (ally) + 4 (Tower) + 6 (Power Foci) vs TN 6 for "Willpower":
1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 7 7 7 10 10 17 19 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 vs TN 9:
1 1 2 2 3 3 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 vs TN 9 for "KP 1":
2 4 4 4 5 14 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 vs TN 9 for "KP 2":
2 2 3 4 11 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 - 1 vs TN 9 for "KP 2":
1 1 2 5 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 - 2 vs TN 9 for "KP 3(6)":
3 3 5 9 = 1 Success
«OOC» Johny files that away for reference.

The books are real. While spellwork and illusions are here and there, embedded in to the building (Providing light and other aspects of building maintenance), this room seems to be fairly devoid of them. The lights turn down slowly, almost naturally, to match the womans mood. Ally will be left alone long enough to do what comes naturally.

Mean while, Sam is seated at the desk in his little, smaller, less princessy room when the Queen enters, almost silently.

"Been expecting you."

"I know. You're a good man, Sam."

No further touching commentary is made, as the spell slams in to Sam's body, flinging him in to the desk as consciousness flees.

Ally's shower does nothing to improve her spirits. Not the slightest thing. But it does make her feel the slightest bit better physically. Which seeps into her mood just the tiniest bit. The moment she's dry she redresses in her armor immediately. Hell she took a gun with spiritbusters into the shower with her!

Only once she's re-dressed and re-armed does she emerge back from the shower and into the room proper.

Nothing has changed. Much The lighting is a bit higher, matching her slightly better mood. The room is warm, a fire in the fireplace now burns brightly, casting a warm, friendly glow throughout the room.

Not finding anyone obviously in the room, Aladriel looks about for a moment and then tries to filter, to get a taste of what the mana is like in the room. She'll need to know that. As she's devoting part of herself to that endeavor, the rest of her goes to the desk and sits down at it, sliding the pistol out of the holster on her thigh and placing it straight onto the desk before her. The safety gets clicked off. "Cleanse. Mental focus. Okay," she mumbles.

The mana of this room is cleaner, slightly, than the surrounding areas. Maybe its the higher elevation, maybe it's been cleansed before, or maybe it's just the nature of the warp and weft of magic. If anything, the room feels calmer than the rest of the tower, with its subtle underlying feeling of mania and desperation.

Ally hmms a little bit and stretches herself out further than she had before, tapping into another part of her magical essence to see if she can clean the room's mana of the foul taint that has infected it. Set up a room where she can do magic quite well. Might catch someone off guard. It'd be the kind of clever thing that Kassandra would do. The thought of Kass makes her smile.

The astral space inside the tower is such that it's simply beyond the power of Aladriel to cleanse. An palatable evil that lurks just beyond the veil, the sort of thing that once you start interacting with.. draws you in.

Ally hmmmms as she pokes and prods at the astral and finds it a tough, unwavering glob of disgusting mana that she can't budge. Augh. Slamming her hand down in frustration, that is the only physical sign of her displeasure. From there she settles down and retreats into herself. To get her mental armor fortified. To get herself ready for the trials that she expects will be coming at her. To find her mother, if the Queen's word is true.

Questions and Answer

The door opens, as if on cue, 119 minutes later. He does not bother knocking, the faceless one, as he enters. "Well. Is everything to your desire, young Ms. Cindel?" Asks the Marquess, his hair floating on a breeze that does not exist, his cane tucked underneath his arm. "Anything I can get for you?"

Ally was expecting it, but still she starts a little bit as the Marquess returns. She smiles at him faintly once she sees that it's just him. "Yes. The answers to questions," she says, smiling sweetly.

The lips spread in to a smile, the sort of smile that a jewish banker gets just when the gentile who has abused him comes with his hand out. "Oh -really-. And what would the Mighty Sorceress Aladriel Cindel, Daughter of the Swordswoman-Magi Anya Cindel, called Byrn by some, and Marc Sydney Snowdown, called Similar by some… wish to know?"

The first one is always free.

Ally catches herself before she jumps across the table to shake more information out of the man-spirit-thing. She manages to keep her reaction to a few, quick blinks. "What do you want in exchange for the information you may or may not have about my mother that the Queen is keeping from me? How long has the Queen been Queen? What was she previously known by? And why are you so unique that I've seen none like you before?" Boom-boom-boom. "Those are them."

Ally catches herself before she jumps across the table to shake more information out of the man-spirit-thing. She manages to keep her reaction to a few, quick blinks. "What do you want in exchange for the information you may or may not have about my mother that the Queen is keeping from me? How long has the Queen been Queen? What was she previously known by? And why are you so unique that I've seen none like you before?" Boom-boom-boom. "Those are them."

The Marquess holds up a gloved hand, counting off her questions. One, Two, Three, four… "Four different questions! My my my. Before I can answer what I want for them…" He paces the room now, the fire tinging wiht lines of black, purple and blue as he wanders closer to it… "I would need you to rank them in order of importance, to you."

"The order that I gave them to you," Ally says quietly, watching the Marquess pace, an eyebrow raising up very slightly at noticing the way the fire behaves around him. She watches every motion, shifting in her chair now and then to keep him right in front of her.

He pauses then, turning on his heel, to eye Aladriel. "Now this is an odd question. I must, by my nature, charge you for your answers, but the question itself is a question about my rates! This is very queer. I will strike that question from your list and simply ignore it, least I -dissapear- in a cloud of mana-laced logic."

Ally's inner self goes from intrigued by the Marquess to *intensely* intrigued by him. She fights to keep it internal, even as she presses him on. "But how can you ignore my question? You've just admitted you have rates. And I don't know what you are or what they are. So however can you get paid if you must charge me for the question, and yet the question is what you'll charge me? You can't ignore it, it's very important."

The Marquess sighs, looking to the girl. "You are -insufferable-. Your good cheer, your wit, your love for those around you. It's positively -dreadful-." He rolls his eyes, leaving the only feature on his upper face, for the moment, simple milky white eye-shaped areas… He turns away then, striking one hand with the round top of the cane. "As you wish. To tell you how much I would charge, I will charge you this. A secret of equal value. Equal value to me, for this, would be something trivial, something minor."

Ally catches herself grinning as she wraps the Marquess in a loop of logic and persistence. This is good, she thinks, though she starts slightly at the momentary disappearance of his eyes. Ah, there they are again. "Something trivial. Something minor. Ah ha. "I'm just months away from being able to start my residency, to be a doctor, but I've kinda been neglecting it and I haven't told anyone cause they'll yell at me and make me finish."

An invisible eyebrow arches at her secret. "Well, splendid. Congratulations on your effluence of -slack-, Ms. Cindel." He continues to pace, his boots squeaking quietly and his saber-scabbard rattling occasionally. "The second… How long has the Queen been the Queen. Now that, is an interesting question. It's a question to setting chronology and setting chronology is to order time and the flow of events; granting personal perception, granting improved problem solving and other such measures. So. The question becomes, what is this question worth? I would say it is worth quite a bit of worth. Something very wondrous. Why…" He eyes her sword. "What a -fetching- blade…."

"I disagree," Ally says firmly and she gives a quick head-shake to bet it off. "You assume too much. It's simply a matter of time, and wondering if she's an old queen or a new queen. That doesn't seem to be a very hard question. And if you have to put so much effort into remembering something so simple, I'm afraid I'd be afraid of the answer's accuracy."

"Bully for you, dear girl. Bully for you. Unfortunately, I disagree with you, and thusly, your options are limited in terms of defining reality. Either you can agree to my -requested- price, offer a -new- price, or withdraw your question."

Hm. Ally thinks about this and then she shakes her head a little bit. "I'll withdraw the question for now. I've an idea as to how long, a certain timespan already. I'll find out some other way."

He bows his head then, a smile ghosting across his lips, a faint quirk. "As is the ladies perogotive. I am never needlessly rude, nor would I ever bind you to a price not of your choosing. Tell me, for the previous names of the Queen… do you know what you ask for? Would you ask for the previous names of your so -aptly- named Tinman? If you were to ask such a question, what would -he- charge of you?"

"I do not ask all of her previous names, just something," Ally points out, her voice very even, even smooth to an extent. This is bargaining, and while she's no Silk, at least its something she can more easily wrap her head around. She keeps her answers as simple as possible, doing her best to not let on the greater purposes she may or may not have. "I find it strange to meet someone who does not offer a name. She is the Queen…and the Queen of the White Tower. But that is no name. It's a title. I merely want to know something more suitable to call her by. My 'tinman' would freely give me a name."

"Your Tinman would freely give you a -label-. A name is something all together different, something he has not… an identity and soul."

"I think that you're wrong, on all accounts," Ally replies slowly, slow to keep the annoyance out of her voice. "He has identity, and a soul. The name is not a label. He's had many identities, but I'd say there's only one true one, deep, down. But the names were identities that he had, persons he created and lived as. I want to know one of the Queen's."

The Marquess seems to think this very amusing. "Semantics. Amusing, but all the same, irrelevant. A price for a name shall be something quite valuable. A memory, perhaps… an emotion… Will you love me, Aladriel Cindel… but for a moment?"

Ally tilts her head a little bit at that and she breathes slowly, as she puts the question before her. She turns it around in her head, thinking of problems, thinking of choices. Her eyes seem to come into sharper focus on the Marquess when she is done. "You said a memory, an emotion. I will not love you, because I don't. I will share with you a memory of love's emotion, if it is a memory of my choosing."

The Marquess holds out one gloved and lace-cuffed hand to Ally, fingers outstretched to her… "All I ask is the momentary play of it. Dance with me a moment, kiss me, chaste though it may be… and let me feel love… and I will give you a name for the Queen…"

"I want a question, free of charge, if I agree to your request," Ally says, not even looking as though she'll acknowledge that hand. "Are there any ill effects that you are aware of physical or mental effects of touching you?"

The man-thing looks to her, his hand withdrawing, recoiling. "My lady. Do not presume to use logic as to my own ways and means against me to force me to answer a question for a trivial price, then -expect me to answer- for you, freely then, a question of your own devisement." He whirls his cane then, slamming it forcefully underneath his armpit, as he snaps to a rigid posture, turning for the door. "I am rather insulted. On many levels, Ms. Cindel."

Ally blinks at the creature as he turns away from her and starts to storm away. "I did not mean any disrespect, Marquess. I am…this place is strange and you are not a friend. You are very careful with your words and have strange requests. I am no fool and I do not wish to get myself into something I do not understand. That is why I ask."

The Marquess pauses, but only a moment. "I come in here, offering you information in return for -Reasonable trade-, Ms. Cindel, and you insult, inpunge, that I might harm you in some fashion when you are in the care of my Queen. You insult not only me, but that lady whom hosts you entirely." He looks back to her, one eye cocked in an almost angry stance. "But my offer stands. Love me for a moment, and I will give you a name. Refuse me, and I leave."

"I withdraw my question, then," Ally says with a small shake of her head, sighing inwardly. "It is unfortunate that you would leave, now. You have two more questions you were supposed to tell me the price for, though…"

"Actually…" Says the Marquess. "Just one. Why I am so unique." He says simply. "You forced me to answer one when I tried to be kind, you refused to pay the price for two of them, arguing with me as to their value… and now you wish to know what I would charge for information on -me-?" He holds one hand to his chest then, over his cravat covered chest. "You will simply balk at the price. You have curiosity, but no willingness to risk."

"No, two," Ally counters. "You did not tell me what you would want to find out the information about the Queen and my mother," she says softly, furrowing her brows a tiny little bit as she eyes the Marquess. "You are a strange man in a strange place, trust is hard to come by, Marquess."

The Marquess eyes her, turning back to her. "What I want, is something I do not have. Something I cannot have. Not while I am a resident of this tower." He admits, turning slowly to look over the room. "I do not know your fifth question, nor whence it came, but the only question I recall is of a decidedly more personal nature than the name of the Queen, but rather, more about myself. That, would cost something more than a kiss, I would say. Perhaps a backrub, even."

"A backrub," Ally says with a grin. "I'd give you that, because that's on clothes," she smirks. "The…my question was, what do you want in payment for the secret you taunted me with. What the Queen knows of my mother."

Sliding his great-coat off, the Marquess moves for a chair to have himself a sit-down. "I will answer that question to the satisfaction of the backrub I am about to receive. Don't spare the deep tissue massage, no no…"

Ally makes sure her hardliner gloves are securely on so not the slightest bit of skin is showing. And she's very aware of not touching any skin. A mage can't be too careful, after all. And then, carefully she gives a timid touch as though expecting to be grabbed in by something strange. Should she not be….she'll start with the massage, with skills that have been honed these last few months on her dear love, Kassandra.

"So…." she starts, wincing a little bit. "Um. This is awkward. Normally I'd….ask questions."

For a man with no facial features, he has the solidity of form of a rock. "I see. Well. How about… you tell me a story. Tell me… of when you first met your wife. It will keep your mouth and mind busy."

"I don't recall saying I had a wife," Ally says suspicously as she looks down at the man as she massages him carefully, very mindful of what she's doing. "But….I met her through my Tinman," she says with a smile. "She was very pretty…and so professional that I was pretty much terrified of her. Thought she wouldn't like me for not being all tough and professional, so I kindof just tried to stay out of her way."

If you look down the line of his neck, in to his clothing, you will see all the way down to the next layer of clothing. In this case, his ass. "And how did you come to love her? Wife is such a simple term. You namegivers. You have a million names for things, labels to give, and yet, for our closest relations, you have but a handful. Go on. Tell me more."

Ally lets out a breath as she thinks about Kassandra, the happiness that comes over her almost a tangible thing. "We worked together. Through a terrible time. And then…well, all of a sudden I got jealous about something. People giving her attention. And it was such a strange thing. And then… we kind of just started flirting. Sending each other just…nice things. I was so embarrassed at first, thinking she was going to think I was crazy. But it was wonderful. We were both so shy…and then, one night, we just talked. And…that was it."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 3 for "Mystery":
4 5 11
«OOC» Johny says, "Give me a.. perception check."
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence:
1 2 2 4 5 5 5 7 10 11
«OOC» Johny says, "Do you wish to KArma>?"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "No. 11 good."
«OOC» Johny ndos.

AS the story comes out of Ally, an odd thing starts to happen, harder still to describe. It is as though reading from a script in which the words come easily to be read, to be remembered, but fade from the page once given off. The path behind removed, leaving the path forward only. The flame in the fireplace burns brightly now, providing a warmth in the room that seems to make the situation all the cozier.

Slowly, slowly, the page returns to view.. only Kassandra is no longer in the script; Those little moments, those little pleasures, those tender touches and embarrassed smiles, the flirtations… they were instead with the man-thing in the chair sitting there in front of you. It's a subtle, but distinct shift, the way in which the change is made, nothing obvious, nothing that would show, nor trip alarms…

"How singular…" intones the Marquess…. "Do go on."

Ally sighs a little bit and rolls her eyes. "Go on?" she asks. "You sound completely disinterested. Everything mocking and making fun. How singular? Of course it would be singular. Its love. Love of just one person, and with you making fun…I don't want to say all more. Why don't you tell me something. Not of the Queen or of you yourself since you're so….weird about questions. So just tell me something. Its not a question."

It's a small memory, and in the next few weeks, it will return to the woman in its original form, the longer out of the Marquess' presence she is. "I do not mock. I simply do not understand. I wish to understand, to appreciate, but love? This is simply not an emotion my kind can appreciate." He says, rolling his neck to let her have greater 'access' to it. "I do not know what I could tell you however, that would not be an answer to some question you have…"

Ally considers this as the Marquess goes on, hearing his need to learn and understand. "What about….your earliest memory. You're not human, I know….so tell me about that. That's no question and it won't help me. So tell me something like that. Or life before here. Something?"

"The first time I was ever summoned to this plain of existence, Aladriel Cindel, was in the last age of Magic, in the city of Sereatha… Bloody fine mages, that city had."

Ally's hands slow as she continues her massage and she furrows her brows a little bit at hearing that, putting things together. "Wow. You've been in existence for a very long time. Whats it like traveling between ages? Do you just…see the passage? Or do you stop existing and then return anew in this age?"

"Are you willing to -pay- for those answers?" Oh, like mother like daughter.

A flash of annoyance in Ally and she stops her massage all together as she looks down at the Marquess. "I'm guessing 'friends' isn't a concept thats very familiar to you, is it? Cause…you charge for questions. And friends question each other to learn about each other. It's tough without them."

"My lady." He says simply. "I am a sentient creature bound for, at the least, the lifetime of my binder. Do not, for one moment, seek to -lecture- me on the fine moral and social nuances of power and currency. By your ability to leave this tower, you far outstrip what I am capable of."

Return of the queen

"Is the Queen your…sorry," Ally says with a sigh. "I don't mean to. You just have to understand it is a little frustrating for me, trying to talk to you is all," she says softly.

"You stopped massaging. It was just getting -good-. He complains then. "Come come. Back to it!" He snaps his gloved fingers. "As to my dominatrix, yes, Queen Nika Vuranich of the White Tower, would be she."

"And that… would be speaking far to candidly about that which is not yours, S'comparsa." The Queen's tone is hard, but not aggressive, standing in the doorway as left open by the entrance of the good Marquess. "Return to your chambers and do not come forth until called."

The Marquess stands, straightening his shirt and reaching for his great-coat. "It was a lovely massage, my lady." he nods to Aladriel.. "And the story of the meeting… shall warm me for days to come."

For some reason, this angers the Queen. "NOW!"

The illusions and little magical effects in the tower waver for a half moment, flickering once in sympatico with her annoyance.

Aladriel starts at the sudden arrival of the Queen, looking to the door with such eyes that it is clear that she was very much surprised. She starts to say something, but then stops, letting the interaction between master and servant play out. She nods to the Marquess as he thanks for both a memory and a massage.

"Hello again, Queen," she murmurs softly, seeming unsure for a moment.

The Marquess slides out of existence, fading from view slowly until only his eyes and lips remain, and then they too are gone.

"Ms. Cindel. I trust he was not to overly familiar or onerous? He has a way to him that can be… troubling… to those uninitiated in dealing with him."

Ally watches the Marquess disappear and then her attention is fully upon the Queen. She faces her fully, but is relaxed in her posture, at least as much as she can be. "He was interesting, and difficult to talk to. Very big on payment for questions. It's…difficult to talk to someone you don't know if you can't ask them things."

"Did you.. pay him.. for anything, Aladriel Cindel?" ASks the Queen, her features turning to examine the girl (Thats you) more closely as she comes fully in to the room. "If you paid him, what did you pay him -with-?"

Ally thinks about that for a moment, thinking of lying and almost immediately deciding not to. "I did. I asked him a name you used to be called…as you might've heard," Ally says softly. "It felt wrong to not call you by a name. Though…I don't know if you want me to use it. But he asked for a massage, and to tell me about love."

The Queen shakes her head. "You named me Aries, and to you I shall be Aries. Do not call me by the name he gave you, for that is not who I am. Who I am is who you see me to be, who you have observed me to be. I cannot be who I was before, and I am not yet who I am to be. Aries, for good or ill, is who I shall be."

She closes the door then, one hand pressing it closed with a quiet latch. "I have brought you something." She says quietly, stepping further in to the room. One of the chairs stands, flexing its legs to move to where she wishes to sit before resuming its solid form as she settles down on it. "Something left for you."

Nodding her head, "Queen Aries it will be," Ally tells the Queen, seeming to agree with her logic pretty much. "Something?" she asks then, eyes as interested as her tone, the movement of the chair drawing her attention momentarily. "My mother left me something?" she asks, hopefully.

She holds out her hand, a silver pendant hanging between them then. It's a slender thing, with two silver wings that sweep down to cover the face of the necklace. "Yes. I would hope, that if I cannot locate your mother, this small.. reminder… may sooth your need for closure."

Allypendantcopy.jpg

Ally looks at the pendant being held out to her and approaches slowly, cautiously as though afraid if she tries to take it it will break. But then she does, and whereas she'd been able to keep in the tears earlier, now, suddenly, in the face of this, she's not able to fully stop herself. "Thank you," she says softly, squeezing the pendant in her hand. "But…you said you could locate her. You will, then."

The woman doesn't quiet slump back in her chair, but watches Aladriel carefully. Slowly. She draws in a ragged breath, the lights of the room dimming slightly as she does so… "Every moment you are here, Aladriel Cindel, its an eternity for me. I sit here, trapped in my role, watching you, the pain you are in, and it is real to me. Your pain is a sea I swim in, Aladriel Cindel, and I fear if you remain long, I will drown in it. Nothing I have done in the last 14 years have been nearly so painful, Aladriel, as the lies I have told you."

Ally looks up from the locket, with her eyes full of tears that only serve to make the blue held within shine the brighter, ever more brilliantly. "I don't understand," she says slowly, trying to look at the Queen and see a truth somewhere. "Why? What lies have you told me? I don't understand," she repeats.

"When I told you your mother died… I did not lie. When I told you she was claimed and made a ghoul, I did not lie. But when I did not immediately take you in to my arms and hold you close, I told a lie. When I did not reveal to you my true form, hidious though it is, I told a lie. When I wore a face not one you knew, I told a lie… at first, it was to protect you… better, far better to let you think Anya had died and was gone… so much better than to drag you in to my torment."

She sits forward, moving her hands to her face, covering it as she lets the physical Mask fall away. The dress is still as pretty, the hair still as clean; But gone is it's luster, it's shine and its unearthly beauty. Patches of skin show along the scalp, mottled and bruised, unevenly pigminted. Her fingernails, long and hooked, black in color. Fastidious in grooming, yet pitiful in appearance. Being a ghoul sucks. A lot.

Allysmom2copy.jpg
Anya Cindel, Queen of the White Tower

Aladriel doesn't react at first. It's connections being made, lightning fast, and her brain trying not to overload as those connections are processed. Truths are revealed. Emotions well up like an unstoppable tidal wave. Hope is an amazing thing, and yet…hope can only go so far. It was a dream, a fantasy that Aladriel would find her mother alive. Somewhere. Anywhere. She had been willing to try and force herself to accept that her mother was dead. And yet, right now, before her, it's all disproven. All proven untrue.

Her mother, seated before her.

Aladriel lets out a sound like a cry, a choked sob, a gasp, so much emotion all at once does not come out in a pretty way. It simply cannot. She looks at that face…and another sob, and it is..could it be happy? Or just… unable to fully emote what is needed. She seems…not the beauty she remembered, but what is unmistakably her mother's visage…twisted and ravaged by life.

"Mom?" she finally forces out a word, a word so full of hope. Not a 24 year old woman's voice, but a girl's voice, looking for truth, and hope, to believe that the hope is not for lost, that the dream is not in reality a nightmare, but that this is indeed real. And her mother is truly before her.

She doesn't quiet look up, still holding her face in her hands, her features, twisted parodies of humanities own, still hidden from aladriel. "Y.. You have to understand, ally…" She cries now, a sob breaking up her voice, the smooth tones of the Queen gone and replaced with a rasping, jerking sound… "I thought this was best… I knew Viktor would find you… I knew you'd be taken care of. It was for the best! To keep you away!"

Putting the locket in her pocket so she will not lose it, Aladriel reaches, hesistating for just a moment before she reaches out to take the woman's hands gently in her own to try to take them from her face. She's crying openly now too, most of her words punctuated by those tears as her emotions spill over and her body is forced to compensate for what her mind can't.

"Don't hide, you don't have to! It was…maybe it was, but it wasn't now. You're my mother and…it doesn't matter! This…it doesn't matter. You're my mother and it's all that matters to me. All!"

The woman doesn't turn away, doesn't shy, letting her hands drop away. One of the most disturbing aspects to the Ghoul is the fully black eyes, pupil-less and without humanity in them. Alien, almost insectoid. "I can't be your mother, not like this! I can't be a -grandmother-, not like this! I cant see my daughter, married, not like this!" She bemoans, looking down at her hands. Claw like, raptor talon-like things, not fingers as one might think of fingers, fingers that wipe away tears, give a cookie or otherwise comfort.

"Sick." She murmurs, looking at ally then, her features contorting in anger, unlikely to be directed at Ally herself. "SICK! I'm BLIND and I EAT people, Ally! This isn't a sickness! It's a curse! It's a burdern! It's a sick joke! A cruel jest! The flu is sick, Ally… I consume souls! I don't want this! I don't want to be -seen- like this! I can't be alive, because no one can -live- like this! Every day, the hunger, the need, the animal just behind my skin, Ally…" She shakes her head now, standing up.

"I can't see, I can't live, I can't even eat a normal meal. It has been 15 years since I ate anything that wasn't meat, Ally… and far too long since I could eat that meat without reviling myself every moment of every day."

Ally recoils from the anger, just like most children would at seeing an angry parent. While Anya talks, yells, rages at the situation and condition of her life, Ally cries softly, wrapping her arms about herself as she listens to the horror of what has been Anya's life. It is emotion that threatens to unravel her and in the crisis Ally forces herself to switch over to logic. To problem solving. This is a problem she can somehow solve. If not fix…to patch.

"But you are *alive*. It's..it's not your fault. You didn't choose this… you..it happened. It's not your fault and it's… you're not alone. And you are my mother and I can't even… you don't have to be alone here, anymore. We can do something, don't you see? You…you took that girl in? You didn't have to. That's… that is living. You can live, it doesn't have to be just what this has made you do. It's not all that you are."

She paces the room, one hand coming to her features again, carefully moving a lock of stringy hair back behind a ragged ear. "I was just going to send you away with a story how I had died… how everyone had died… closure… but.." SHe looks back, forlornly, to Ally… "I couldn't. I don't know why, by the gods I should have just sent you away! I'm cursed to spend the rest of my years, some hundreds of them, like this, Ally. And only the most… impossible of ways -out-."

Wiping her eyes, she can't cry more, now, she can't. She has to solve this. To fix this. Because she can, if she wraps her head around it enough. If she can convince it. She'll be able to figure it out. "What do you mean?" she asks softly, picking up on the woman's last words. An impossible way out? "You've…you've lived years like this alone. Cursed…, trapped. But you don't. Don't you see? You have me. You didn't send me away and thank the heavens you didn't. I can *help* you.

Do you…do you listen to news, here? You aren't alone. There are those like you who live in cities. There are people like you who live in Denver! There are ways…I..I've even attended lectures and read case studies about people with Krieger-strain getting treatment. It could make you look like you did… but you don't even need to. It doesn't matter to me how you look.

You didn't lie to me, you didn't send me away, and now we can do something. And you're not alone…not now, not any more."

Vanity, thy name is Anya Cindel. "Denver. I am bound to this tower, Ally… I can't leave here. I can't abandon what the Council was doing here… Only I know how to maintain the enchantments that keep the Graves from expanding, that keeps the Roach hives from awakening. The only hope I have for the future, is to be -human again-, but that requires an act of willing sacrifice and I cannot ask that of you, and it cannot come from anyone else.."

Aladriel wrings her hands together and she shakes her head, "Fine…fine. I…I want you to be able to leave, but you can't. Okay. You don't have to. I can get here! You don't have to be all alone! I got here once and I can again. And I have friends…we can find a way to help you, to not have you do this alone. I can learn what you know so you don't have to do it alone. We can find others to learn too…it…" she shakes her head, mind racing to figure it out.
Words catch up to her and she stops. "Human again," she repeats softly. "What sacrifice?" she asks, softly, body starting to go still.

She waves it off. "No, it's not right. It's my burden, not yours." She says, moving to walk out of the room. She knows Ally will follow as she moves for the stairs. "And HAH! I've never met a man who knew less about magic than Viktor Rodinko." She says, waving one clawed hand in the air.

Ally blinks rapidly as Anya doesn't answer and then sweeps from the room. It takes her a second or two to follow her, and then she's right on the woman's heels. "I didn't say *he'd* be the one to help. He could help. He WILL help. But I'd find other people for the magic. And…you have to eat and I could help with that…I've already got ideas and…" hurrying to keep up, "Why did you know he would find me? Did you ask him to? I… you don't know how many questions I have!"

"Your father, Marc did." She explains. "He died when you were still a small girl, too small to remember. He worked with Viktor in the Government." She sighs, looking back to Ally then. "Marc and he were… very good friends. I knew when I went missing, If he was still alive… he'd watch over you. Keep you out of too much trouble." She looks down… "I thought it was best."

Just like that, Anya's doomed Sam to an intense session of questioning by Aladriel. When she's gotten the rest of everything else sorted out. Which… god only knows when that will happen. "Well, he has," she says immediately, a little laugh, an almost giddy sound escaping her lips. It's strange, too. Ally is functioning. Talking. Walking. Competent. But it is a very shaky thing and it shows now and then, with strange little things like that laugh.
"You were right to do that. He did.. and see? You are caring, you cared then and now… you are still you!"

She turns now, headed back down stairs. The staircase she uses is different than the one you came up. A spiral stone work that leads down, down, down in to the bowels of the tower below. "I'm glad for that. I really am, Ally…" She says, coming to a stop, turning to look up to Ally. One hand rises to brush a bit of hair back from Ally's face. "You are so pretty. You look just like your grandmother, you know. So strong."

Ally's attention is torn towards looking around at where they are headed and looking at her mom. Her mom, walking right there, alive. Real. Whole. Just different. But whole and alive. She'd pinch herself if she thought it would help. Stopping when Anya does, Ally doesn't blink or flinch when her mother fusses with her hair, and it makes her smile.
"I like your dress, a whole lot," she compliments in kind, swaying just a small bit as she seems to almost lose her balance for a moment. It is quickly remedied. "There's so much I want to tell you…I, we need to tell Sam…Viktor. He's got to know and then…call home and let them know and we can talk and…figure it all out."

She smiles then, turning to head down stairs again… "Sam? Is that what he goes by these days?" She asks curiously, bringing them on to a landing now that overlooks a vaulted basement… You can almost feel the mana flowing through the room. Black, brackish, angry and malevolent. "He's already left, Ally. He knew who I was… that you'd be safe here… and left about 3 hours ago."

Ally slows as they approach a landing and she gets a creepy-crawling feeling along her body. It takes her a minute to realize what it is. And she frowns. Feeling the pulse and flow of mana when not perceiving is not a good thing. And neither is what Anya said. Looking from Anya to the basement revealed and back to Anya, Ally frowns more. "He wouldn't have left. I *know* that," she says in a soft, yet firm voice. Then her eyes flick to the basement again. "Why are we down here? It…feels terrible."

Anya stops on the landing looking down in to the mist filled, vaulted basement. She gestures outward… "This… Aladriel.. Ally…" She exhales… "Is why I can't leave. This is both my blessing and my curse, Aladriel. This mana flow.." She waves her hand and the mist starts to retreat. Below, in the ground, a mosaic tile floor is revealed, with channels of water that flow across it, rippling and showing the lines of mana that converge here. "Is what keeps me, preserves my mind… but keeps me."

Ally looks down at the basement, eyes widening as a floor is revealed, mist cleared, a vision unlike any that she's ever seen before. The look about her is of someone amazed at what she is seeing, and truly that is the case. "But…aren't you doing it alone?" she asks in a quiet voice. "How lonely. Especially with that….thing, for company. That Marquess."

She shrugs then, a slight smile. "He's not bad when you get to know him. Quite the opposite. Charming, caring even." She makes her way down the last flights of stairs, in to the manawell itself, orichalcum runes are pressed in to the walls surrounding the manaflow.

Ally follows after a moment's hesitation, but it is more wary now, unsettled by the manalines. The manawell. Everything that she's seeing here, all of it unlike anything she's ever seen before. "I don't think I'll believe any of that myself, but…I'll take your word for it," she murmurs.

She steps off the stairs now, exhaling. "If I leave this building, I become as mindless as any other ghoul, a crazed predator, feeding on humanity in an uncontrolled way…"

That stops Ally cold and she stands on the last stair looking down at Anya with an intent, if not horrified look. "How is that even possible? I…I've never heard of anything like that before. I've heard of different stages of the infection….read about different reactions and outcomes. But nothing like this, ever."

"A gift of Jimmy Three-bird." She admits. "Part of the enchantments of the tower is my mental facilities are returned to me… I leave it, I regress."

"So you have to stay here," Ally realizes, a profound sadness in her voice as, laid out like that, there does not seem to be any alternative. "So I'll have to visit you here, then. But I can. I got here without any help from you and I'm just fine. And…the people here, they know you. So if they know I'm in your favor…won't I have an easier time?"

"Yes." Says she. "To a degree." She steps over to where the water flows. Two shoes, flats, are kicked off and she sits down. Her feet are then placed in the water, a hiss elicited from her lips. "But… could you live in this tower, yourself? Knowing what it was, a prison?"

Ally watches Anya with great interest as her flats are removed and she steps into the pool, mindful of how the woman reacts to it. "I do not know," she calls after her mother, stepping down from the stairs so she doesn't have to remain so far away and talk quite as loud. "If I was doing a good thing, as you are. If I wasn't alone. If I had a reason to live, I might be able to. Without it…I do not know."

"I want to go to Denver, Ally. I want see my daughters 'business empire' as Viktor terms it… I want to see my grand daughter, my daughters wife." She says quietly, one hand rubbing at her calves in the water. "I want to feel the sun again. To see the world beyond this tower, these -graves-, Ally… And I want to do those things with my family. I can't.. do this anymore. When you thought me dead, and I thought you had moved on with life? I could endure this. Became numbed to it, but now… it's not enough

Black eyes turn to Ally, peering from under sickly blonde hair… "I.." She looks back to the water, dipping her hands in to it where she sits at the side. "I… it… Jimmy told me it required… you to give.. willingly… no." She turns back to the water, sliding out of her dress, sluffing it off over-head to set it aside. "No."

"Tell me!" Ally demands, stomping forward but not in anger, but frustration. The need to know is so strong within her and she can not stand to be at the verge of finding a solution and having it denied her. "It required that you give willingly what? I have to know, to know if it is something I can do. You can't not tell me this."

She slides under the water, before coming back up to brush the hair back from her features. SHe's got the body of a 30 year old. Zombie, but a 30 year old. "I… Ally. There is a rite, a ritual, that could restore me to humanity. Eradicate the HMHVV from my body."

"I know rituals," Ally says proudly with a thin smile spreading across her lips. "Please go on. I'm not stupid and I know magic. To do something like that would require….immense magic, I'm certain. And there's nothing terrible about what you've told me, mother. Please…please just say the rest."

She settles in to the water then, letting it lap at the line of her neck. She closes her eyes, giving her in that moment, with the water dappled across her face and eyes closed, a semblance of humanity. She inhales, then looks to Ally, dark, pupilless eyes fixing (One might think) on Ally… "It requires you to… sacrifice… some of your magical energy, some of your aura, Ally…. to equalize my own."

Ally pales a little bit at hearing that. And she's already so pale. Though now, standing in the presence of her mother, trapped in her current state, that paleness really does not compare. A slow, persistent buildup of pain in her chest and starting to see stars reminds her that she's been holding her breath. With a great sigh Ally lets it out, taking in a deep breath soon after.

"Do you know it would work? How…how much? I don't even…how to quantify it."

"I… I don't know. The differences between the Baseline Aural profile and that of a HMHVV sufferer are slight, but… I don't know. I've been studying what I can, trading with people like Hector to get medical books and research equipment. I can't tell you that it will be easy, or painless, or that it won't be a substantial change to the way you perform magic… I just cant. Because I don't know."

Ally takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, running a hand through her hair. She closes her eyes for a moment, thinking hard. She tries to take another deep breath and it simply doesn't come. She can't get that deep breath. It stays shallow and she can't change it.
"I.. I need to look at what you have. The ritual. The equipment. Everything you have. And… and I need to, I want to consult with some people about it. I know a lot about magic, but I'm not an expert. And…I have access to experts. Let me work with them, and…if we think it'll work…"

"In the morning, Ally.. you and I will go over the notes Jimmy left… I promise. For now, I think you should get some rest… Lets go back upstairs." She rises from the water, the mana-laced water sheeting from her body and looking, for the moment, vaguely human. Her dress comes to her, standing up and walking over to her. "Let us go get some rest…"

"How can I sleep after all this?" Ally asks with a tone laced in wariness and frustration. "I don't think I even can. Can you just.." she sighs, running a hand through her hair. "Just give me the notes so I can look over them? I don't know."

The woman slides in to her dress again… "Permit me my vanity." She murmurs, letting the physical mask settle back over her, restoring her to her Gladriel-qualities and features. "I will send up the books. But I -demand-." A moment of parental tone coming in to her voice. "That you get some sleep tonight. You simply must."

Aladriel nods her head quickly, not about to deny her mother that. She watches the facade of the Queen return and it makes her seem sad, now. Now that she knows what lies beneath. "Thank you," she says immediately. "I'll read some and try to get some sleep afterwards."

Evening Constitutionals

The books will walk themselves up to Ally's room. Mostly medical texts as relate to HMHVV, Kreiger Strain and related maladies. When we say 'walk themselves up', they literately arrive Disney style. Dinner, consisting of undercooked meat (!!) and a salad will also be delivered, but to the girls rooms.

Upon returning to her room, there's no time for Ally to throw herself down on the bed and be sad and all that nonsense. She has to pace at length to keep herself from just going insane. The moments the book arrives she starts going over them, searching for…goddess she doesn't even know what she is looking for…anything that she can use. Frustration will eventually set in. Notes…thats what she'll need later, for certain.
Thankfully the food will arrive…and just the amusement from the manner of said arrival helps Ally to lighten her spirit a bit. The meat is summarily ignored. The salad is paid a bit more attention to…in that she doesn't go hide it out of sight. It occurs to her to go see Sam, to see if the Queen was true about his leaving.

The girl is given the run of the castle now, at least within reason. If ally does visit Sam's south-facing room… she will find it empty. Sam's bags, sams clothing, all gone. The towels are folded nicely and stacked. He's jut not there, nor is there any indication he ever was.

Ally furrows her brows at finding Sam really gone. That…does not sit well with her. But as she's given the run of the castle, she pokes around for a little while. If she's to try to tire herself out to get some sleep… a little wandering will help with that. Eventually she'll head back to her room and as she looks around her room, she hmms a bit and goes to tuck a chair against the door before she'll try to settle down for a semblance of rest.

Ally will not be disturbed tonight, not in the least. The books are comprehensive, featuring notes written in the margins, both in a female hand and a male hand, sometimes communicating with each other in that format. The notes move from professional, to more personal, then finally seem to just end.

Ally dozes off while trying to read more. She'll awake several times and try to get back to reading, but it's a losing endeavor. She finally just gives it up and manages to get a few hours sleep. Not many. She could've used more, but it wasn't to be. The first noticable glimmer of the sun rising in the city will wake her up for the day.

«OOC» Johny says, "Okay. A few things during the night. :)"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "oOooh Oh"
«OOC» Johny says, "If you like, we can roll it out, or we can narrate it, but in your sleep, when you can't use your magical shielding to defend yourself, when you're at rest, Mommmy dearest will be playing with your mind, via Mind probe, dream, influence and control thought."
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Oh boy"
«OOC» Johny says, "Nothing glass-throw worthy, but making you more predisposed to going along with the patently quasi suicidal thing your mother wants you to do."
«OOC» Kassandra isnt gonna live this down.
«OOC» Johny won't ever mention it again.
«OOC» Kassandra laughs and hugs. No biggie.
«OOC» Aladriel lol
«OOC» Aladriel thinks on what to do. Hrm.
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Prolly some narration will suit fine."
«OOC» Johny says, "ARe you sure?"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Damn."
«OOC» Johny says, "Talk it over with Kass while I get dressed."
«OOC» Johny says, "Theres an element of chance on the rolling."
«OOC» Johny says, "Theres what I might think to be 'better' story in the narration."
«OOC» Johny says, "Theres six of one, half dozen of another"
«OOC» Aladriel orders each, then!
«OOC» Kassandra nods. I figure that Anya will keep trying until she succeeds, in the end. She has all the time while you are out.
«OOC» Johny waits for a firm decision. I will not force this either way.
«OOC» Aladriel goes in service of story.
«OOC» Johny says, "Clarify? I am not meaning to seem dense or obtuse, I just want a clear, direct answer."
«OOC» Johny pokes.
«OOC» Kassandra checks time. May have been pulled away for a moment to help with dinner.
«OOC» Johny nods. I'm gonna run to popeyes then.
«OOC» Kassandra says, "Aye aye"
«OOC» Johny says, "I'm glad you know her shcedual, otherwise this would be -fantastically- annoying."
«OOC» Kassandra says, "That's my job, to know things. :)"
«OOC» Johny says, "Back in 20-40"
«OOC» Kassandra says, "Ok"
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Sorry! Kass is v.wise."
«OOC» Aladriel is willing to go with the narration as means of continuing as opposed to rollin.!
«OOC» Kassandra grins.

The night passes without overt, obvious incident. One way mirrors are wonderful things, really. The large mirror that looks over the bed chamber is just like the others, giving Anya a chance to observe, in quiet detail, the goings on of her daughters room. The way she lies under the covers, occasionally shifting. In the half-light, poor vision curse of the Ghouls, Anya smiles slightly… there's not much difference between the vision before her, and the vision of Aladriel as a pre-teen, sleeping fitfully in her bed at 'home'. Back when Marc was alive. Before the Saint Petersburg Job. Before the Truman job.

She leans on the wall, looking to the Marquess… "Is there no other way? Is this really… it?"

"I assure you my lady, my price to release you from this prison, is the core of who your daughter is. Come. It's not like you really know her. She would never bind herself to me willingly.. and to release you, I must have another, better."

"Better?"

"Oh yes… Ravishing you are in your way, but this flower blooms so much sweeter. So much more potently, than you."

Anya eyes the man-thing then. "Well." She huffs indignantly. "She may bloom sweeter, but I will bloom -longer-."

"Always the optimist, Anya. It is what I cherish about you."

Ally dreams. Sort of. Nightmares isn't really a proper word for it. Flashes of things she's seen in just the time coming to Chicago prevent her from having the most restful's night sleep the world's known. She'd had every good intention of waking up frequently, to not fall all the way asleep, all of that nonsense. But once her head hit the pillow, the full, mental exhaustion really hit her.

"Better." She mutters, raising her hands then to gesture to her daughter's sleeping form now. Her vision shows the girls somnolent aura, and then the coalescing streams of mana that form and wrap around in the ether, hooking and curling around her arms… A dream to start the process. Deep sleep and a dream…

Dreamscapes shift, and in the space of a moment, the girls dream, which had been some vaguely unpleasant dream to something downright unpleasant. Ally finds herself on the deck of a ship at sea, perhaps in the lakes, heavy swells throwing the ship down in to troughs, canyons of water, before rocketing the ship impossibly fast, to the crest, before plummeting back down again. The wooden ship creaks precariously, seams splitting and allowing water, freezing and stinging, to spray in to the hold.

The icy splash of freezing water upon her wakes Ally up to the dreamscape she's been drawn into. Her mind a jumble, swaying to and fro as much as the ship itself is as instincts tell her to grab hold of something and try to hang on, and realization floods her, much like the water, not knowing where she is, nor why. Only to be able to hang on and not drown.

Lightening flashes and a massive wave rolls over the ship. Freezing, frigid water spills down the staircase like a torrent, making it a waterfall for a moment. The Captain of the ship, a grizzled old man with a Russian accent and eyes like Sam's, comes stumbling out of the captains quarters.. "Abandon ship! Every man for himself!" He starts to scramble up the staircase.

Ally moves to follow, but he turns, putting a boot to her head and pushing back down. "Back, ye harlot, Ye not be worth the locker this night!" Another wave shudders the craft, rolling it nearly fully on its side, the captain visible only for an instant as the wave takes him.

Ally screams as she gets kicked, not so much from the outright pain of the boot but the fact that she's being kept there, trapped there, when all others are told to leave. She gets just a flash of the Captain being taken by the water before she's thrown as her world rotates right along with the ship.

The ship rolls fully, the roof becoming the floor and vice versa, before it rotates further to settle at a cant in the water, hull up, superstructure down. The water is cold, but a blue life jacket floats in the water, visible by emergency lights that snap on. "Please Proceed to the Emergency Exits. Emergency Services Personnel have been alerted to the problem. Thank you for Sailing with Hariyrin Lines. Please Proceed to the Emergency Exits. Hariyrin would like to apologize for the inconvenience."

The dream so far is a black and white affair; the life jacket though, is blue. The captains eyes were green; the lightening flashes illuminate only in shadow…

Ally gets knocked around, no way not to be as the ship thrashes in the water and she focuses on just trying to keep from being knocked senseless. Dizzy, disoriented, sick, and cold…she sees the life jacket and grabs for it, to take it, hold onto it, get into it, just not let go off it. Emergency exits? Inconvenience? Where….where!?

Another wave strikes the ship, a massive rending sound as it rolls again and again and again, a never ending tumble it seems. But the life jacket, now firmly around your torso, keeps your head above water; keeps you oriented to the top. Holding you. The ship cracks now, the hull splitting open and falling away, leaving Ally alone in the water, light fading in to the deep recesses of the water. The waves batter, but you are able to rise with them, leaving the cold and stinging wind as your threats.

Lightening strikes, illuminating the water for a split second; but that strobe shows a leviathan in the water, black in form, with brilliant -red- lips and fangs, even as all else is dark and shade.

Ally's legs egg-beat in the water to try and keep herself afloat and stationary, not necessary with the lifevest but it is instinct that she is riding on. The ship cracks and Ally screams, covering her head instinctively as the roar of the water, the storm, and it all takes her. She's out? But…she looks around, using the lightning to see. Oh, if she hadn't see. The sight that she sees…she's seen something like it, she knows, but not nearly as horrific as this, and yet still the same…and in that moment she knows she has to get as far away from it as she can.

"Thats a nice touch, the monster."

"She already fears you…"

"I thought you were supposed to be putting her at ease?"

"Still your tongue, this is not easy. Even without sheilding, she is uncommonly willful."

"She has learned the art of quickening."

"I know."

Back in the dream, the leviathan slides closer now, it's bulk creating a pressure wave in the water that can be felt by Ally as it buffets past her. Once, Twice, then on the third, striking close enough to actually bump her with a flank as it moves past, experimenting, exploratory. Probing. Like a shark.

Ally screams as the thing goes by her and she scrambles through the water, kicking, thrashing, to find something hard and solid to put between her and this creature. There are no weapons so she has to, if not hide, not be easy to get too.

In the water, there is nothing solid, no purchase to be had. Only the insubstantial nature of being lost at sea, blind, cold and helpless. Lightening strikes again, illuminating the beast as it leaps in to the air to strike at Ally now. The light glints off teeth easily a foot long, dripping water. Thousands upon thousands, impossibly tightly packed and offering no escape.

On to Ally it seems to leap, and yet, at the very last moment, light comes, an intensely powerful spot light from a helicopter over head. The beast recoils, an inhuman shriek coming from it as it dives down in to the water to escape that hated illumination. The chopper comes in low, and a diver plunges in to the water, feet down and hand held to its face.

Ally screams, covering her face as the monsterous creature leaps for her and then, like that, it's driven up. She looks, not being mauled…and then hears and sees the helicopter. The diver coming for her. She screams and thrashes, screaming to show where she is, and then realizes she can move…and swims for the diver.

The Diver is on her in a moment, but for some reason, the divers wetsuit doesn't cover her face, no mask to be seen. Anya Cindel, holding her daughter in the water. "It's alright baby… I got you.. it's okay…" She coos, over and over as the helicopter lifts the pair out of the frigid water; Mother holding daughter, safety and stability restored.

Ally sees that it's her mother and grabs onto her for dear life, as though she would be the life preserver rather than the one she's actually wearing. "We have to get out of here, that thing is going to come back! Get us out!"

The pair are hoisted in to the air, the UCAS CoastGuard dragon helicopter, it's blue striping (as opposed to the more common red/orange) not seeming strange in the least, nor the Arabic numerals along the tail. The dream fades as mother and daughter wing away, in to the darkness, holding each other.

Dreams such as this will replay in the night, different themes, more subtle variation, more hidden nuance; But uncertainty, rescue, the color blue and Anya 'being there'… these are themes that replay.

Well that is one way to manipulate Aladriel, that is for certain. It is definitely a theme that will resonate with her.

«OOC» Johny says, "Yeah, it's a bit like a hammer, but Anya's short on time ;)"
«OOC» Kassandra chuckles.
«OOC» Johny says, "In the dreams, Sam abandons you; Anya is there. The color blue. Occasional bits of Arabica."
«OOC» Johny says, "On the OOC level, the blue and the bits of arabica, represent your subconscious as it tries to insert Kassandra in the role of protector, of stability. Like the blue life jacket. But it gets subsumed in to the greater theme."
«OOC» Johny says, "If that makes sense?"
«OOC» Johny kerpokes?
«OOC» Aladriel here? =) Oh
«OOC» Kassandra pulls the blankets up.
«OOC» Aladriel didn't realize she missed a response part. "I do get it. I like it =)
«Game» Backup to offline storage commencing. Game may freeze for a bit…
«OOC» Johny nods. Okay. The other stuff is off-the-scope, things that can't really be RPed through, but I like to at least do a dream sequence if we can :)
«OOC» Aladriel nodnodnodnods

When Ally wakes up the next day, its about noon. She's slept so long! But, the sleep was strangely restful. The books piled around her bed made sense. They really did. The ritual makes sense, a massive infusion, one time, of magical and aural energy to over feed and destroy the virus. Sure, the fine details need a little work, and theres some doubt as to the this or that, but upon waking, the entire affair -seems to make sense-. You'd like to tell Sam about it, but that asshole… Oh, that abandoner! He left yesterday! Left you alone, but you know… its okay. YOu have your mother now. Maybe thats why he left; knowing you'd be -safe- with your mother and she'd never ever hurt you…

The ritual seems like a great way of handling things. After all, you can get -more- magic; you can never get another mother. You've some so far, you can't turn back now, can you?

«Plot» Johny says, " GAME TIMES ARE NOW SYNCHED"
«OOC» Aladriel GASP!
«OOC» Kassandra says, "Hallefuckingluyah"
«OOC» Johny says, "I usually dislike fastforwards, I need to remember they are a useful tool"
«OOC» Kassandra hugs Johny.
«OOC» Johny says, "In short, you have influence operating and control thought operating."
«OOC» Johny says, "You can roll as per 'normal' to break them, if asked to do something that is totally against your nature, like, say, shooting Kassandra."
«OOC» Johny says, "But otherwise, the overall effect is to make it seem natural; Like this was your intention."
«OOC» Johny says, "Any questions before we move foreard?"
«OOC» Aladriel thinks!
«OOC» Aladriel nope, is good!
«OOC» Kassandra is fine.
«OOC» Johny nods. Okay. Ally?
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Yessum?"
«OOC» Johny says, "Now you get to watch. Cause we move back to Kassandra."
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Cool! =D"
«OOC» Kassandra crawls out of the blankets and puts on her hat.

Part Two: Love Conquers All

3:00AM local time, Thistlewood Canyon, Ute Nation, Denver FRFZ, the day after Sam and Ally left.

gleannfia1a.jpg

It's probably about 3 AM when the house's sleep mode decides that the car in the driveway does not qualify as a waking-up-the-mistress of the house event. AS such, the black Corvette that Sam usually drives rolls up the driveway, sliding to a halt on the asphalt and leaving a trail of rubber marks, not to mention a highly audiable sound. Probably not the best thing to do to a sleeping fixer.

«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Intelligence for "Kill?":
3 3 3 4 4 4 5 11

A veritable mountain of pillows and blankets fly off the bed as Kass rolls over and onto the floor, a pistol coming to her hand. She looks around wide-eyed, her brain trying to register whatever it was that just woke her. It wasn't the baby, it was louder….

There's the slam of a car door outside, near the front of the house.

"House, identify most recent vehicle arriving at house." Kass moves quietly to a window, peeking out for ninja and other lifeforms.

"Chevrolet-Nissan Corvette ZX SRS, UCAS License Plate Number F-C-K-O-P-H." Responds the house's smart-home memory core.

Chevrolet-Corvette-Z03-Concept.jpg
2069 Chevrolet-Nissan Corvette ZX SRS

Kass blinks. "Sam?" Heart singing, the elf snags a robe and spins into it, heading out and towards the stairs at a rapid pace, her pulserate accelerating rapidly.

Outside, a humanoid figure is moving twords the front door.

"There is a humanoid male at the front door."

The house is very helpful now.

Ding dong! Knock knock knock knock. Ding Dong, ding dong, ding dong.

"There is a very insistent humanoid male at the front door."

Racing the last few feet, Kass flings the door open with her offhand, the other still holding a real god damned big pistol. "Sam what on earth are you beating on the door for!"

Marcus eyes Kass for a moment, her bedraggled state, the flush to her skin. He can almost see what Sam sees in her. Oh, yeah, but the boobs have to go. The cigarette dangles from his lips as he talks… "I'm not Sam."

Blink. Blink. Kass blinks a moment at Marcus, gaze flicking past him to the car and then back. "Marcus? What is going on, it's .." a quick check of the internal clock, "0302 in the morning." She steps aside to let him in, of course, absently tucking the pistol into the pocket of her robe.

Johny eyes Kassandra levelly. "Yeah. It's 3 in the fucking morning." He says, taking the cigarette and crushing it out under his foot on the front step. He bends to pick up the butt, as it's rude to litter. "Got some coffee? May be a bit of a long night." He says, moving then inside, a manilla folder under one arm.

Kass nods, closing the door after Marcus comes in, heading for the kitchen herself. She knows he knows the way, the house dutifully illuminating their rooms as walk. She yawns, shaking her head, "What is going on?"

Marcus comments simply… "Sam has a standard policy. He's got the fucking matrix wired to his head, so every five hours he pings an agent that lives in a system somewhere. It's got his current mission profile on it. If he goes missing, or doesn't ping for at least 10 hours, t sends that mission profile to his dead drop point. Thats me. If I hadn't responded, it would have rolled over to his next drop point." A pause. "Thats you."

A surge of dread hits Kassandra as Marcus relays what is going on. She takes two deep breaths and buries it, starting the pot for the coffee. She stares at the counter for perhaps 10 seconds before speaking again, her voice losing a lot of what makes her 'Kass' and moving more into 'Silk.' "Alright. What does it say?"

He doesn't pause, moving through the house. He knows the house well. He used to live in the bedroom upstairs. It was awkward, but the purple grew on him after a while. He makes his way in to the kitchen as he puts the file down. "Precious little." he says, offering her the chance to look the data over.

"Successful landing in Chicago, they met their vehicle drop, went to a market, saw the contact Sam had located, made their way out. There was some combat, but they are fine, made a clean getaway. Got a nights rest at a no-tell-motel, then in the morning, went in to the Shattergraves to visit this Queen of the White Tower."

Silk methodically looks over the scant information, automatically memorizing the salient details, any location markers, any directions given. "Queen of the White Tower. That sounds .. interesting." She taps her nails on the countertop, although they are much shorter than they have been in recent months; having babies will do that to you.

"Alright. I have to assume if he hasn't made contact that he isn't going to, either due to location, distress, or death. Does he have a standard procedure for these events?"

"Well." Says Marcus, looking at the satellite topography of the shatter graves… (its scant, really, given the constant fog that seems to plague the area) "These buildings are nothing but steel and soft-rock now. No repeating towers to get in to the canyons, no LOS to a transmitter. It's reasonable that he's still there and operational…" The way he says Operational. It's almost like he's not talking about his friend. "And just unable to climb to a higher elevation. Thats… uh… a little odd, given he and Ally can both fly."

Silk nods quietly. "I need twenty to thirty minutes to pack and scream at people on a phone. Do you have transportation or should I arrange it?" The elven woman moves to pour the coffee, giving her hands something to do and freeing her mind to work, pushing all the other thoughts out of her head.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 for "White Tower Data":
2 2 2 2 5 5

He looks at Silk then. "It's only been ten hours since he checked in, Kassandra, maybe another hour until I got the data dump. Half a day. Maybe 4PM he made his last transmission. We don't… -know- yet, anything." He exhales, looking down at the details on the 'White Tower'.

"This, concerns me though. I called some of Sam's friends, and no one knew shit about it, but a woman in Undertown. Goes by the name of Mother. She knew about it and she said it was -bad- juju… She says it looks like an Oasis of stability in the Shattergraves, run by a queen, right?" A pause. "But the place is smack in the middle of one of the worst sites of human tragedy… ever. It's warped. Twisted. Started with good ideals, she says, but twisted back on itself until its running counter to its genesis."

"Half a day. That's a long, long time." Silk nods, listening to the information about the Queen, the Tower, considering what she knows about magic, about Chicago. "And this is where they went, it seems, according to the files. It is scant, but it is a starting point."

Silk moves over the coffee carefully, laying out sugar and cream, her words quiet. "At best, they somehow got distracted and had to go to ground and couldn't risk finding higher ground to send a transmission. Pretty unlikely, but not impossible." She glances to Marcus, not bothering to state the worst case scenario. "If we sit here and wait on the possibility that he makes contact, that pushes our window wider and skews whatever information we already have. They could have moved on or be Goddess knows where."

She moves back to the other side of the kitchen, pacing and thinking, "It is better to be yelled at than not to act. If we are wrong, he can chide is for being paranoid, for being worriers. An ass-chewing doesn't hurt." She seems to be more talking to herself than Marcus at the moment, looking to the ceiling.

Marcus prepares his coffee. "I'm actually worried less about the Queen or the Shattergraves than I am about Sam's ability to handle what he's walking in to. He holds his cards very close to the chest. He hasn't been back to Chicago in nearly a decade and a half." he glances to Kassandra. "He plays a good game, but uh… Ever since you and Ally popped up, he's been dangerously prone to ennui and sappy songs. Fucker rented Titanic the other day."

HE tries to slide humor in to offset the actual worry infused in to the concepts he's talking about.

"You think he might have had a psychotic break from reality and is wandering around Chicago trying to find his family?" Silk asks quietly, moving to her own coffee and pouring in enough sugar to kill a third world nation. Apparently Aladriel has infected her. She pours in a scant amount of cream, stirring, "Even more reason to go."

"Its…" he admits… "A distinct possibility." He clanks his spoon now as he stirs the coffee. "How familiar are you with Chicago and it's unique history?" he asks, turning to look at Kassandra. "Or… with Sam's history, for that matter."

"I've seen the trids. And Sam .. told me some of it, not too long ago. I was concerned with him going back there, but .. I think he put Ally's need for answers above any worry for himself." She sighs, rubbing at her eyes. "And that makes this even worse, but doesn't explain why Ally wouldn't have made contact either."

He grunts inarticulately. "Mustang Alpha's fueling at McCarron." He admits quietly. "There's two dangers, if Sam has gone off the reservation and gone looking for his family." He says, looking to Kassandra. "First, some background. Why the -fuck- hasn't Sam gone in to Chicago in -15 fucking years-, Kassandra? He's not a man prone to leaving.. ah… loose ends."

Kass opens a drawer, then another, finding a length of red ribbon. She pulls out the ribbon, cutting one and then another length. She starts quickly braiding her hair to get it out of the way, mentioning, "I don't know. It doesn't make sense unless he had some sort of trauma that provoked some sort of .. post-tramatic stress. It seems fairly unlikely after this much time that he just went for a walk."

She starts on the second braid, fingers moving with rapid precision, "None of this makes any sense. Sam is too professional just to not contact us, and Aladriel is too .." She breaks off, shaking her head, "It is out of character. I don't buy it."

Marcus nods, sipping his coffee. "I see two viable options. Either his family is manufactured and he's compelled to stay away… because there's nothing -there-… and that makes his underlying personality matrix corrupt, or his family was real… and then I don't know why he would stay away so long. Maybe some massive guilt complex, but it can't be good. But it's very much unlike him and it speaks to an X factor in this affair."

"I still don't much like the effect you women have on him." He says simply, waiting for her to finish getting ready. "But." He then adds. "I don't think he was going to CHicago for himself, as you said. He went for Aladriel. Which draws us to the Shattergraves. Only the worst place for the magically awakened in north america."

She just sighs at the comment regarding the effect they have on him, looking unhappy but having no real answer. "I think it was for Ally as well, and that means we are going to see a Queen." She glances to him, saying softly, "You don't have to go, Marcus. I can go myself .. I am going myself. I completely understand if you want to run ops from here instead of going into that. There are places that are bad, no matter who you are."

Marcus smiles quietly, the sort of smile thats almost patronizing. "I survived Chicago the first time around. I can do it again, and you're going to need me. Sam wouldn't let Ally go alone. You're no Sam, and I'm no Ally… but I'm going with you all the same."

"Oh thank goodness. I didn't really want to go alone." Silk almost smiles at that, then makes a be right back gesture and dashes up the stairs to change clothes and collect the baby. She'll be back in roughly six minutes, and is talking on the phone.

Kass walks past, handing Marcus Maya for a moment as she heads into the basement, still talking. She'll come back up with a satchel, a backpack, and a horde of gun gear.


«OOC» Kassandra says, "Ok. Gonna hit Ocean for information and send a message to SexyGuy069 as well, same datapull: The Queen and the Tower."
«OOC» Johny says, "Roll some dice"
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Etiquette + 2 for "Ocean":
1 1 2 3 3 3 4 8 10
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Etiquette + 1 for "SG069":
3 3 3 3 9 9 14 14
«OOC» Kassandra says, "daym"
«OOC» Johny says, "Well now."

Oceans Legwork

Yeah. Uh. The tower. I know a team that used it as a safe haven during a blizzard for an object recovery a while back. Truman Tower came through fairly intact until Truman blew its pilings rather than let runners keep hitting it. BReaking point for them was some Deckers doing an on-site tap of their PLTG from the darkfiber at the building core. Really, really fucked them up, and I mean hardcore. Anyway, they took shelter there, and they said it was the crazest thing. One of their runners just went shitcock crazy and actually carved out his own eyes, then painted a picture of one of the magi who ran the place on the wall in his own blood.

Needless to say, the group left, right then, right there. It was still dark outside, but they figured it was only a few blocks to the edge of the Graves, and they could walk across the Chicago river, right? No. They made it 2 blocks and the ghouls were on them. Only one of my girls made it out alive, and she's missing an arm. That place made them so fucking crazy, she cut off her own arm and threw it at the goddamn ghouls to distract them. She's been useless ever since.


Sexyguy069's Legwork

Okay. I had to hit several sources to compile the data, hitting a lot of personal blogs, and such. I even called in a personal favor Silk, and got a backup copy of some files from the Shadowland Node that was still operating in Chicago until a team of UCAS Spec-Ops stormed the place and put fire to the whole node. Here ya go.

The White Tower: Prior to the containment zone, The White Tower was a well respected local landmark, known for its architecture and beauty. Maintained by group of magi from Loyola University just across the road, it was an astral beacon that stood out brightly. A few ley lines were thought to follow, of all things, the water mains, and feed in to the tower. These Hermetic Magi kept the mana flowing fairly purely, for a dense urban core.

After the Shattergraves incident, the mana started to sicken, especially the lines coming from the south west. The magi boosted their numbers, bringing in outsiders to assist in the rituals they used to keep the place clean. It seemed to work for a long while. The Bug Spirit Infestation, the nuke and the goddamn war that broke out afterwards.. well.. it changed the place bad.

Some say that the Magi were in the middle of a ritual of clensing when the nuke went off and the bugs roared out. Tainted, toxic mana flooded the tower through the lay lines and killed some of the magi out right. Least, thats the story. The shattergravs grew, just outright grew to encompass the tower as fires got lit off that no one could fight. Towers burned, then fell, or fell over on their own as the ground shifted. Now, they say the Nuke was small, and it was. But thats because they don't link, offically, the shifting ground in Downtown to the fucking nuke. They don't link it to the laylines. Hold on, I gotta hit the jon.

"Okay. Back. Just had to take a leak. So, the fucking city is falling apart around them, and the White Tower is suddenly in the middle of the dark heart of the city. But the tower takes no damage. None at all. Like the eye of the storm, it is. So the surviving Magi set up a council there. And the AStral world around them goes bad. They set up rules, they set up order and shelter. They take those that need it, sheltering anyone in the graves over night until they can get out.

So, looks like, around 57.. spring, before the walls came down, there were some new additions to the group. A few runners from out of town got trapped, and one was pretty badly wounded. Kreiger Strain, says my contact. Not expected to make it, but the magi watch over her because she was one of their own, a hermetic, right? Only the bitch pulls through. Pulls through with her mind and most of her magic intact. Instead of leaving with whats left of her runner group, she stays with the White Tower.

Yeah. That doesn't go so well, because over the next few months, shit goes wrong in the tower. SOmeone cracked the wards around the place and let the astral outside, inside. When I tell you the astral in that place is evil, Silk… I mean, its the personification of every horrible thing man has ever done to itself, crossed wiht everything that could be out there in the astral. I don't have words for some of the shit my contact said to me.

But when the dust settled, the council of Magi are gone, and it's just the queen of the White Tower.
You scannin me?


«OOC» Kassandra says, "fuck."
«OOC» Johny made it up on the spot, but it fits my mental-notes.
«OOC» Kassandra nodnod.
«OOC» Kassandra says, "Ok. Two other calls are made, or rather message drops set up. If Aladriel or I do not come back within X time (Speed of plot) a call is placed to Skye, asking her to get little Maya to big Maya."
«OOC» Johny nods.
«OOC» Kassandra says, "Set up 2 is for Minos and the DF"
«OOC» Kassandra says, "If Sam, Ally, Marcus, or Silk do not contact at X time (plot blahy blah) they are sent a message that there is an Extinction level event in Chicago at the coordinates (as close as I can get) of the white tower. My recommendation is that if it ate the 4 of us do not attempt rescue. Sanitize the area."
«OOC» Johny nods.


On The Road Again

Marcus is waiting out by the car, his fifth cigarette of the night currently burning brightly in the night, a brilliant cherry in the darkness as he leans on the car. He's looking a his watch, a soft LCD green counterpointing the red.

Silk seems to have been prepared for something, although she is a runner, a certain level of preparation is considered standard in this field. "We need to drop the baby at the Apple. Lil and the girls will watch her until we return or Skye comes for her, whichever comes first. And I got a ton of data on where we are going." She drops a chip on the dash with a recording of her conversations, "It's not good."

The elven woman glances to Marcus as she straps in for the ride, "I've set up a kill order for the whole area if the four of us don't come back. Dunno if anyone will listen."

Marcus eyes the chip warily, then the woman. "I uh… there's a car-seat… in the garage. I'll go get it." He says, trotting off in that direction.

Kass talks softly to Maya, explaining to her where she is going, making sure all her things are in her bag. She slides an envelope in with the belongings, taking what time she can to bond with the little girl before Marcus comes back.

Marcus comes back with one of Viviana's old car seats. "Sam is a hoarder on such a foundational level, I think he still has his baby teeth, somewhere, if he can remember where he put them…"

Kass considers, then dismisses it, "Too much interference to track him that way, I bet. Right Maya?" Kass quickly and carefully secures the baby after Marcus gets the chair set, "Just a ride, Maya, and then Kassie goes to get Mommy and Uncle Sam. Yes, that's Uncle Johny. I told you about that, remember?"

Marcus eyes the child jut as warily as Kassandra. "You are so… very weird." he says, sliding in to the very small back seat to install the child-seat. "Redbird says Mustang's ready for take off when we arrive. It will be a little while in to Chicago. How do you want to go in? Live, hot, or stealthy? Sam went in stealthy, and he's out of communication."

"We are not weird, are we Maya? No, he is just jealous that you have that seat and he has to be up here." Kass shrugs, "How well do you fly? Personally I'd land in their friggin' backyard if I though it would help. I'd prefer not to have to cross the whole city to get there, tho."

"I'm as adept a pilot as Sam. And, don't tell him I told you… the choppers a better pilot than either one of us." He says, gesturing to Maya, then the back seat. "HE likes ot keep his mystique, but eh. I've got about a thousand hours, between sim and air, but the choppers quite capable. Rating 3 robotic brain."

Kass checks her clock, considering. "I want to be there as fast as we can, and as near as we can get to the place without looking to suspicious. If you need travel plans rigged, or whatever, tell me and we'll make it happen. I think we can ill afford to take another day wandering Chicago to get there. After hearing the debriefing, I have a *bad* feeling."

He grunts, putting himself in the drivers seat. "You're going to have to clue me in. I got out of Chicago in early 57, so I don't know much of whats happened since then. You find something particularly bad?"

Kass glances to Marcus, "You are really not going to like it. In short, as near as my people can tell, this Tower was on a number of ley lines, right? And about the time the nuke hit and all the war? They were in the middle of some big ritual of cleansing or whatever, and .. um…I think it made things *bad*. It used to be a good place and used to be clean, right, and now it is the exact opposite of that, except worse. My decker tells me that his people couldn't even make up the words to tell him how bad it was."

"To top that off, a team of runners went in there with a mage, and she apparently was Kreiger strain, but kept her intelligence and most of her powers and THAT is the Queen. OH! And the astral is horrible bad there and drives people to cut out their eyes and scream and cut off their arms."

Kass rambles a bit when she is nervous. Guess who has rubbed off on her.

Johny drives, no cigarette, as there is a child in the car, but by the way he reaches twice for the pack on the dash, he wants one. "That sounds nine flavors of fucked the hell up, Kassandra." He says simply, sliding through traffic in a way eerilly similar to Sam. Probably because Sam taught the man to drive. "For what its worth, I'm sorry I woke you."

"I'm glad you woke me." Kass shakes her head, "Plenty of time for sleep after this is all over." She flashes a smile to the man, "And yes, it sounds bad. What they said was worse, but I think you get the jist. We .. will need to be careful. They probably didn't know all this stuff and got caught flatfooted."

"I'm glad you woke me." Kass shakes her head, "Plenty of time for sleep after this is all over." She flashes a smile to the man, "And yes, it sounds bad. What they said was worse, but I think you get the jist. We .. will need to be careful. They probably didn't know all this stuff and got caught flatfooted."

"Actually, he knows almost none of it. Chicago's a fucking blindspot on his radar. No contacts in the area, no direct knowledge of the cities current lay out and politics. He's flying blind."

Kass sighs, rubbing her face, "Welp. You wanted to be in the middle of what we do? Here is our big chance to impress the Old Man and let him know you are more than ready." She considers, tapping her finger on her thigh, "We go into things like this and we make it right. One way or another, we make it right."

Marcus slides the car between two others. The car's built in cell rings, with Marcus reaching out to take the call on speakers. Flight plan in to Chicago is filed, with airspace allowances made for a direct flight in to downtown on Mana-mapping mission for the DIMR.

Kass toys with a small click button detonator, rolling it around in her hand. She watches traffic a moment, considering any number of ideas. "We need to think outside of the box. I don't suppose you are any good at blocking magical forces?"

Marcus eyes the detonator. "Uh. Kassandra?" He reaches one hand over to place over the detonator. "Stop that." He then exhales. "I can put some shielding over one of us strong enough to stop most attacks, but it leaves me somewhat limited in offensive capability and its.. only one of us."

She stops playing with the detonator, chuckling. "Sorry. Alright, that is useful to know." She gestures at the Apple as the get closer, "After we hit here, I need a Stuffer Shack or Radio Shack or someplace that sells stuff." She chuckles a bit, "Unless Lili has something .. hrm. I'll look."

"What is it you need? I have access to Sam's locker… he may have something."

"A small blinking light. A countdown clock would be too cheesy, but a small blinking light, that would be golden. Red is always better, but any colour would do." Kass nods to herself, then to Marcus, "Just setting up tricks, Marcus, just a few tricks and maybe we can all come home and have a drink."

"Sam has an electronics workshop in the storage unit. I'm sure we'll find something there that will suit your needs. After we drop off the kiddo, we can scoot right on over."

"Neat. Shouldn't take long to rig up. Should take me like five minutes to rig up, and then we are done with that. That gives us the rest of the trip to think up how to pull this off. If we get very very lucky, we'll run across them eating a soydog on a corner somewhere." Kass shakes her head, "I somehow doubt it very much, but hope is all we have."

"That might be nice. There used to be a diner out on Cermak, near Midway… but last I saw, it was a crater. Look, we really COULD be just overreacting. I mean, honestly… Who's to say?"

Kass glances to Marcus. "My Ally gets ahold of me virtually every twenty-four hours. If she is at work, she calls. If she is on a run, if she is doing whatever. A watcher appears to me, her spirit Sally appears to me, she manifests herself, she calls, she sends a text, something."

"Sam .. is a fucking clockwork machine. He knows what would have happened if he didn't ping his agent. He knows what we'd do." She looks at her cell, "No calls. No messages, from either. If we're overreacting, then we've had a really cool training op that we can laugh about another day. I pray that is what happens."

Rambo 'Getten Stuff' Montage

The next few minutes are silent as Marcus drives on, an eerie enough simulacrum of Sam's driving style. All form and function, very little in terms of style, but possessing a style of its own. The child is dropped off, then the car starts the loop in to the FTZ, headed for the Draco Tower.

For her part, Kass is quiet during the drive, dropping off Maya with little fanfare and a brief kiss. With the little girl gone, she leaves behind a great deal of other baggage as well, as much as she can, focusing on what needs to happen, who she has to be right now. She watches Marcus drive for a moment, remarking, "This is not the way to the storage buildings."

"No." He says, downshifting for more power to slingshot around a bus. "It's the way to Draco Tower. Seemed more expedious." He says then, shifting back up in to fourth gear. The car's tires dance over the road as he does so. "Some things are not allowed out of the vaults there unless there is a cause for them. So far, there hasn't been a cause. I think this counts. And I have Sam's passcodes."

"I see." Silk glances to Marcus, nodding quietly. She has stopped fidgetting, working to rid herself of distractions. A mindblink sets up a diagnostic routine, running the various programs through their warm-up cycles, checking for any weaknesses. "You have something in mind, or are we going to wheel a few boxes out?"

"I want to grab a few expendable foci… The powerful anchoring foci are somewhat more guarded and Sam himself, or Mr. Michaels, would have to show up to get them.. but I can get the expendables. I just need to be able to reference a case number."

Silk nods, "Makes sense. They don't want someone wandering off with Excalibur or whatnot." She kills the diagnostics, satisfied with the results now, a single clock scrolling in her visual range now that shows the time since they got the information. She doesn't chide Marcus for his preparations, she simply rides along, watching the route and paying attention to the little things, possibly her last view of the city.

The Corvette bounces over the curb, launching itself in to the Draco's underground parking garage. The car comes to a stop with a slight squeal of tires near the elevator. "Lets go." He says, pulling a card key from his pocket to scan on the reader.

She is out as the door opens, following Marcus towards the entrance. Silk flicks a glance around, keeping her motions slow and careful. The is 'friendly ground' for them, in as much as anything. No need to get into trouble out of the gate.

Theres no one watching, save the old man they hire to watch over the cars. It's a AAA area, he really exists for comfort and conversation.

"Hello, Mr. Williamsburg. Nice night, idn't it?"

"Sure is, Roger. Them cars staying put?"

"Sure are. You have a good night now with your lady friend. I won't put her on the roster."

"THats nice of you. I'm sure Wulfson will appreciate it."

"I ain't sure that man appreciates not much of nothen. I liked Old Clemens better."

"Didn't we all."

Kass spares the man a smile and a wave, following Marcus with wide eyes at all the interesting things he must be showing her this fine evening. She grins wide, looking back to all the pretty cars in the garage.

The elevator arrives, and Marcus steps inside. After the doors close (Presumably with Kass on the inside), the elevator goes down two more floors, in to the sub basements. A keycode is punched in (If you tried, really hard, you may catch it) and the door slides open, revealing a simple plain hallway with a palm scanner, retinal scanner and other such normal high security devices.

«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Intelligence for "Code?":
1 3 4 4 4 5 5 9

Kass of course gets in the elevator, keeping up the facade without overdoing it. She watches Marcus input the code with half an eye, not really exerting herself to find out what he is doing at this moment. She oooohs appropriately when the doors slide open, 'whispering' "Oh wiz, this is like that show, you know the one with Chad Stevens?"

33-04-26-01-32

"No, I don't." He says dryly. "All those spy shoes are totally unreal. I mean, Palm scanners?" He asks, putting his palm on the scanner. It lights up, then recognizes…

"Williamsburg, Marcus Quintus. Access Authorized."

"Totally unreal."

"I guess, but I just like the way they manage to do all the stuff. I mean, it is so wiz the way they can just, you know, go from place to place and be all suave and eat at nice place and then there is the shoot outs. They are SO real." Kass keeps up the patter, enough to be real (probably stolen from the girls at the Apple) but not so much that it is annoyingly fake.

The man leads her through a series of checks, the palm, then the retinal, then a signature scan. "Maybe in Sam's imagination. Or maybe in mine. But I don't know. Just seems like it hits only the high points of the job. THe low points involve sitting in a car for 29 hours pissing in a bottle and eating ration-bars, praying the fiber works." He looks then to a selection of glass cases.

"Okay. I'm going to want 5 of those." He gestures.. "Those are power foci, you can tell because of the emblems on them, red dots are power. They work for just about everything. Then, over there, some anchored expendable foci. Look at it this way. If we are forced to use them, it better be to rescue Ally and Sam. If we do, big damn heroes. If we don't, we don't use them and we put them back. Quiet little thieves. Now, Grab some of the armor spells… A few of the combat spells. Grab the higher power stuff…"

Kass nods, moving to do as she is bid. Gear? Equipment? Much easier to process, no matter what the type is. She will collect the units of each that Marcus indicates, eyes scanning over any designations in case there is something that just leaps out at her. Otherwise, she does what she is bid quietly, offering a few comments here and there. "Yeah, they gloss over the part about sitting around and falling asleep and the like. Trid has to do that, otherwise people get bored and move on. There ain' no fast forward in real life."

There are plenty of spell designations to be seen. Some, with Kass's new understanding of the way magic works, she may recognize. There's a 50/50 chance any particular non-custom spell will have a foci here for it, but at what force is somewhat unclear. "We need debuffs… yeah… Gotta take away the bitches ability to see…" He spins, looking for smoke, blindness, shadow…

Kass starts picking up foci out of the bins, murmuring, "Might need some tech versions of that as well. IR Smoke fucks with everyone, no matter your affinity for magic." She will reach in and pick up foci for the spells she *knows* Ally has, on the chance she hooks up with the girl, snagging armour, improved invisibility, stunbolt, and heal. Other than that, she will check with Marcus to see what she needs before grabbing blindly.

«OOC» Johny is gonna work it like this. Even, the spell is present. Odd, it's not. Roll 1 die, +2, thats the force its available up to.
«OOC» Kassandra nods
«OOC» Johny says, "A few core spells are always available; Like heal, armor, imp invis."
«OOC» Johny says, "Shit that it pays to stockpile. Cause it will get used. The more esoteric stuff, one rolls ofr."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "Slaughter Ghoul? Even yes.":
5
«OOC» Johny says, "Bah"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "Spirit Blast?":
1
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "SpiritBolt? Pretty please?":
3
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls 1 for "Shattershield":
11
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "spellshield PLEASE?":
1
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "spell Wall PLEASE?":
5
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls 1 for "Spirit Barrier":
7
«OOC» Johny says, "Okay. That was a 6."
«OOC» Johny says, "And actually, the shattershield?"
«OOC» Johny says, "ALSO a 6."
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls 1 for "Increased Willpower":
5
«OOC» Kassandra shoots the dice
«OOC» Johny says, "They seriously hate us"
«Watcher» No admins are presently watching your location.
«OOC» Kassandra says, "And God Says, "Thou not need tricks. go kick her ass!""
«OOC» Johny says, "Something like that."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "+2 force for shattershield":
5
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "+2 force for spirit barrier":
5
«OOC» Johny says, "both available at force 7"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "Mindlink?":
1
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "Mindnet":
2
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1:
1
«OOC» Johny says, "Fine by me. Only needed a 2 ;)"
«Plot» Johny says, " Staff note: These are only for use IN THIS PLOT and are ICly returned if unused. Or we die. Or something like that."

THe man nods, picking carefully the foci he will need. "Thats in the storage unit. I know he's not a big grenades man, but he has a crate of them. I've been pushing him to expand his weapons profile, and he's gotten a lot better with his swords recently." He pauses then, looking over his shoulder. "Kassandra. Go in to that case there. Look for the ones marked with Green Shields… Those are expendable shielding foci. I feel we are going to need them."

Marcus will take:

8 Rating 4 Expendable Shielding Foci,
5 Rating 7 Expendable Power Foci,
2 Rating 6 Armor foci,
2 Rating 6 Heal Foci,
2 Rating 4 Improved Invisibility Foci,
1 Rating 7 Shattershield
1 Rating 7 Spirit Barrier
1 Rating 3 Mindlink

Kass nods, moving to collect the Green Shield Foci, "I have a few splash grenades in the car, but nothing that blinds. Hopefully with can pick that up and that will help even the odds .. if there is a fight." She considers the foci, scooping them into a bag quickly.

Marcus glances in to the next room. "The really powerful shit's in there… but I don't have access." He admits, an annoyed look on his features for the moment. "Damn you Clemens and your Op-Sec!" He growls that, almost mockingly. "Where is your god now?"

Kass glances to the door for a long moment, running the scenarios through our head. She finally says, "I don't think we can pull it off, not and get to where we need to be as well. This .. will be enough. It will have to be."

"No. Rating 10 Biomet-Mags with all the bells and whistles. Sam designed the security here. He taught me tricks, but not all of them." He admits animatedly.. "Lets get out of here. I want to be there by the time the sun rises and the mana-void fades. It lessens when the sun is up. Only gets -really- nasty when the sun is down.."

"Aye aye. Plus, the big stuff, they will see it coming. This stuff? We may have a chance of slipping under the radar." Kass gives one last look at the vault, then turns to go, making sure everything she has is under wraps.

"Possibly. It depends, honestly, on how internally focused the The Queen is. If she has Aladriel and Sam.." Well, he looks over his shoulder and smiles to her. "THey can be -decidedly- distracting."

"Very much so." Kass nods to that, following Marcus, "I'd give a lot to have a floorplan for the place, some better intel. But I doubt that trying to infil through the sewers would be a great idea, and things likely have changed over the years. Gotta play it by ear." She muses, "I hate that."

"After the sizmic shifts in Chicago, downtowns changed a lot. The river has carved out a few streets as new minor channels, making it kind of like… a really really crappy Venice, I guess. I havn't been to the core in years, but I was in Chicago about 3 years back, and saw some of it from afar at a gallery opening for a disaster photog."

Nodding, Kass shakes her head, "No help for it now. We have at least an idea of where to go, and that's better than how it could be." Another look at the clock, and she remarks, "Let's get going. Like you said, daytime is probably going to be a hell of a lot better for us than night."

Marcus nods, hefting his backpack now. "Indeed. We chopper in to CHicago and figure out how to make a suitable entrance from there." He says, turning for the door. He pauses a moment, looking back to Kassandra, appraising her in some unknown fashion (He's not looking at her tits, to be sure..) before turning back to the door.

Kass seems to be keeping it together, or at least pushed it all aside, running on autopilot at the moment. She nods, "We have His notes, and that should help give us a path there." She schools her expression, putting back on the happy face she showed the old guard as they entered.

"The path, yes. But how much of it do we need to rewalk. Hard to say. Lets head up to the car, hit the Storage Units and then head to McCarron." He says, moving past the Old Man. "Night Bill!"

"Night Mr. Williamsburg. I hope you cleaned up after yourself!"

"Course I did, Bill. Don't tell Wulfson! He'd skin me!"

"I won't tell!" Bill waits until he thinks Kass isn't looking, then gives an enthusiastic thumbs up.

"Poor old man doesn't think I'm gay."

Kass giggles and primps her hair, fixing any 'mussing' that may have occurred. Once they are free of the guard's attention, she remarks, "People see what they want to see, Marcus. People look at me and see hair and tits and ass and very little ever beyond it." She shrugs a bit, seeming to dismiss it some.

Marcus puts the car in gear, launching them down the ramp and back to city streets. The drive from the draco to the Storage Facility is a fast one, consisting of lots of neon lights rebounding off the car's fender, montages of hookers on the street and 'action shots' of spinning tires.

"Thats one of the reasons I like Sam. He never looks at you for your skin, race or creed. He looks at me for what I do."

"Always the best course of action to take, I think. I .. like that about Sam. He hasn't judged me on my past, on whatever has happened." Kass nods quietly, "But judging people off face value is what gets people killed."

The car pulls in to the storage unit, the door rolling away on command. "Sam's not in a position to really complain about your past, Kassandra." he glances over at her then. "I mean. You survived. You did what you had to. He didn't uncover any genocide or mass murder. Even what happened to the unit you were with, is due to the stupidity of that Colonel. First year cadet knows not to walk his unit in to a geographic formation like that, then stick to standard battle plans for a clearly guerrilla battle."

She is quiet a moment, considering. Kass murmurs, "I survived. That counts for something, anyway." She glances to Marcus, smiling a bit, "The Colonel was a bad man. Not everyone who served with him was, but .." The elf shakes her head, "Best to leave it for another day. I'm .. holding together as best I can right now, let's not pile anymore atop what we have going." She gives another sketchy smile and slides out of the vet, heading into the storage facility.

«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls 5 (Electronics.BR) for "Rigging light to detonator":
2 2 3 3 13

Kass moves quickly now, shutting down the past, shutting down everything other than getting ready. She can't think about anything else right now or she will completely lose it. She does what she has to, shifting her perceptions to activate one of the pieces of cyberware in her head, her skillsoft switching programs. She mutters in a faint Jewish accent with tinges of Brooklyn to it, moving with the faintest limp. She digs into Sam's supplies, finding what she needs, the lights, the tools.

Silk's hands move nimbly to attach the light to the clicker. That done, she pockets the detonator and replaces the tools where they go before moving to the newly labled stores. She loses the limp as she switches back to her main combat profiles, her movements gaining a crispness as she sorts through the boxes, snagging smoke and IR smoke grenades, flashpacks, rappelling gear for two, and extra ammunition. She kicks a box over, scooping what they need into it as she quickly sorts out what is needed from what isn't.

"Marcus. You have enough ammo?" Kass frowns, dumping SLAP, Shotgun, a few miscellaneous offensive and defensive grenades as well.

Marcus is over at the Ammunition locker, pulling a few clips out. "I have what I need… Looks like Sam got the armor order in…" He says, pulling out a suit of matte black security armor out of a locker. "Oh yes. Now I just need a cape. Maybe some bat-ears."
Kass spares a look at the armour, "Ah, good. Glad to see that it came through, I was thinking I was getting sloppy and out of practice. A bit obvious, but it's Chi-town. I doubt if we showed up in a main battle tank we'd draw too much attention."

"If got the street lights running and maybe a bus or two on line, Kassandra, they'd let us have our way with their mothers. Simple civilizations are wondrous when you've lacked them." He says simply, pulling a Spas-22 Combat shotgun out of the next locker. "I'm good to go."

Dragging the box to the car, Kass says "I'll load on the drive. We are good to go, let's do this." She grabs a pair of backpacks on the way, shoving everything into the backseat.

Marcus glances over, a hand whipping out to lift the box on the wind. "Let me get that for you." He says, the trunk opening as he reaches in to his pocket for the alarm fob. "You'll have plenty of time and space to work. Choppers just us."

"Ah? Good, and thank you." She helps hoist the box and then heads back to climb into the car. "Where did you want to set down at? Or are we getting dropped off?" Kass considers, "Sam would have had a RV spot picked out, vehicles set up .. don't have access to that. I'll make some calls, maybe get something set for an extraction point…"

"We don't have Sam." He says simply, moving in to the drivers seat. He glances behind himself, eyeing the lack of cargo space. "I need a bigger car." He mutters, before putting the car in gear to head back in to the UCAS sector for McCarron field.

Kass glances over her shoulder at all the gear, "That's gonna be heavy." She shakes her head, drawing out a phone and starting to make some calls.

«OOC» Kassandra says, "Contacting Xenon and Slot N Go. I need multiple avenues out of Chicago, cars set up or waiting for us. Big enough for 4."
«Game» Backup to offline storage commencing. Game may freeze for a bit…
«OOC» Johny says, "Pick one, roll it."
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Etiquette + 2 for "Slot N Go, gimme de cash!":
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«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Etiquette + 1 for "Xenon, gimme de cash!":
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Slot n Go: You want -what-? I'm sorry babe, I like ya and all, but Chi-town? You're fucking kidding me, right? I can maybe call some people, but on the time scale you have going down, I can't do much. I mean, shit, 6 hours? Baby… really. Come on.


Xenon: SILK! Holy fraggen shit, if it ain't the stylish bitch of the rich! The maven of mystique! What? Chicago? You want to go there? Oh. Wait, no, you want to get OUT of there. Oh. YEah, I Can do that. I got a bro up around gary who runs a chop shop that basically you know, goes shopping in Chicago. I Can hook you up.


Slon N Go: "Not a problem, I understand, I was just checking for a client. You know how people get. You stay cool, omae, and we'll chat in a few days, neh?"

Xenon: "Ah, glad to be remembered! That would be great if your chummer can set me up. I'll front those funds to you in about .. five minutes to clear everything? Thanks for everything, and see you at the next race!"

«Plot» Johny says, " Xenon will set up Silk with a Dodge Rockslide Heavy Pickup Truck at the Floating Market. Look for a girl by name of Rachell. She sells trinkets near the Rat-on-A-stick chick."

Marcus drives on, sliding through traffic out past Buckly Airfield.

Continued in my-kind-of-town-part-three
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