Dreamchipper Part 4 - Cleopatra

Synopsis: This is Part 4 of the Dreamchipper Plot. In this section, the 'runners head off to a Hollywood Simsense Entertainment party in Downtown, where Cleopatra / Val is rumored to be attending. They hire in a new person, Two Left Eyes, then dress for the occasion and head in. They wander around the ground level first, before heading up to the main party which is in full swing when they arrive. Becoming a part of the party, Two gets lost in the dancing and gets hit on by a cute geek girl, while Kraft finds Cleopatra and becomes intoxicated by her presence. Pengrave, the man behind the run that stole the chips, makes an appearance and the pair decide to leave, but with an incredible charm roll Kraft manages to lead Cleopatra back to her vehicle. In the elevator he removes her chip and assumes her comatose. Instead, Val comes back to life and they now have to deal with her while staying true to her previous role. Leading her to Pengraves car, the team follow behind until finding a suitable spot to take Pengrave's car off the road and release Val. A complicated thread of revenge; Jack killed Candy, Junior and Pengrave released Jack into the streets - Gretchen gets her revenge for Candy's death and puts a bullet into Pengrave.
Date: 24th March 2078.

Dreamchipper - Part 4


Gretchen's rest after the evening spent hunting Griffin, aka Jack the Ripper (RIP) was fitful, but a cocktail of pills and booze put her under for a decent stretch. Around noon she manages to pull herself from her hiding place at the Crank to stagger hungover through the bliss market in Mission Hills to collect a few items. With her white hair swooped wildly to one side as though it were windblown even when perfectly still, she snags a pair of leggings emblazoned with realistic-resolution galactic gas clouds and twinkling stars, as well as a fairly trendy neo-Gaelic shawl. The suits at the HSE party will flip over her mad street fashion, she's sure of it.

The German wolfs down a quick meal at a small food truck with a portable grill and reaches out to Kraft to get an update on his whereabouts, and following that, she makes a call to a strange guy who lives with cultists. She hopes he hasn't drank the kool-aid quite yet…

And where do old cyborgs go to hang their hats? Great question, because Kraft never took his off. Rather he found some nice corner in his crappy, ratty little box of an apartment, and watched the fog melt into the morning until false eyes had flickered to an offstate. Dreaming of electric sheep and femme fatales, no doubt.

The chime down the line of his transduced comm snaps him back away, yellow irises flickering back to life like a low watt bulb. A few clicks and soft whines from servos as he straightens up out of his slump, rolling his shoulders with a grimace.

«Aren't we up bright eyed and bushy tailed, Twitch? .. What's the scoop, sister?»

And then it's time to go about his usual routine. A cup of joe, black as the Queen City's heart and thicker than her veins; He could keep track by how many pieces were missing from the flavored brew. A bent dogear, to add flavor to the purree baby food that was the only sort of semi-solid his hole riddled meat could handle anymore. And then a glance in the mirror, at his pockmarked porcelain face.

«You said you had a poly-mask laying around? I'm gonna have to swing by and pick up some threads as well. Your boy Jack played merry hell with my dubs, bub.»

Two Left Eyes isn't part of a cult at all. At least, that's not how he looks at it. Understanding the self is an important part of living to your potential. Demonstrating just how hard he's living up to his potential, he's currently naked and laying on his bed - a mattress on a bare floor - with a cold cup of coffee and a book. A set of trodes is carefully placed next to the coffee. The phone call brings him alert more than the coffee seems to be. "A party? Hm. Uh-huh. Yeah. Cool." But still not quite alert enough to use multiple syllables, it seems. He stands up and stretches his back, then starts getting dressed. Time to head out.

Perhaps Jack was a summoner of the weather, as with his death, the following night is surprisingly light of fog. It's still there, but more a haze than the thick sheets you were walking through only a few hours before. The tickets detail the party address, a high rise building in the middle of Downtown where nuyen flows like water; the vehicles that line the streets around the area are like a car showroom showing the best of the best, the buildings range from white picket fence houses to extravagant businesses and clubs.

Approaching the address a drive-way leads up to a large parking area, more expensive vehicles parked outside including limousines and sports cars. A row of stairs lead upwards from the parking to the building itself, flanked by twin searchlights that pierce through the fog haze, illuminating the sky above. Some of the revelers are already lounging about outside, a waiter serving drinks to those enjoying the chill night air, while from inside the building comes the sound of music, faint from here, laser lights making brief appearances through the windows of the sixteenth floor.

In her simple-yet-elegant neo-Gaelic shawl (a glorified poncho, really — near-black, with three heathered grey diagonal lines for visual interest) and galaxy leggings, wild white hair, circle shades and short ankle boots, Gretchen disembarks from a Johnnycab D-Lux she arranged to deliver her to the gala. Mood stabilizers running strong, she slips from the car and takes up a position outside the party to await the arrival of the borg and the new-ager.

A grey Westwind rolls along the road, completely at home in downtown Denver. Its aerodynamic curves slice through the remains of the fog, carrying the now properly cleaned up Two Left Eyes. His slim suit pressed, his shirt is immaculate, and his tie is shockingly tasteful. A perceptive eye would only notice a few breaks in the suit's lines - a poscsec and credstick, a miniaturised toolkit, and a decent quantity of novacoke. It is a party after all. Two parks his car and steps out, looking to and fro for the one who called him. As soon as he spots Gretchen he heads her way.

The stairs has plenty of room for quiet conversation, only a few mostly junior execs are in the area, most seem to be taking time out to chat with corporate bigwigs on the way to the party before they get sucked into the crowd and lost for good. One man, however, dressed in a yellow suit, wearing a bright orange scarf, moves down the steps at the sight of Gretchen.

"Ah! Oui oui! This is perfect!", he raises his hands as if they were a camera viewfinder, capturing Gretchen in his imaginary movie, "Please madame, tell me you are an actress! I have the perfect part, an action heroine, searching the globe for the lost treasure of the ancient Aztecs. Undead! Bandits! It has it all!". All the while he's moving around her, trying to find the perfect angle.

Gretchen pulls her 'simple-chic' shawl around herself subconsciously and peers up to this eccentric trid producer over her shoulders, and above the frames of her flip-up sunglasses with the dark lenses down. Her eyes are deeply cloaked in black shadow and heavy liner, and perhaps this disguises some measure of her perpetual exhaustion. Or perhaps she's fooling herself and it only serves to emphasize it. Either way, she reluctantly offers a fine, driving-gloved hand to the character and states her name as being, "Sally Amsel…" She neither agrees to being an actress, nor does she deny it — she just peers shyly, all galaxies and black & whiteness.

Moving to take the offered hand, the man raises it to kiss the back, then allows it to slip away. "Charmed, madame Amsel. I am Marin Dupre.", as if that would be enough. A hand disappears into his jacket and out pops a card, offered to Gretchen with a flourish, "If you will. We must talk more, but for now!..", a twirl like a trained dancer, "The party calls.", and off he goes, climbing the stairs to be met by another man in equally garish clothing, the pair continuing on up to the party.

And dropping like a turd into a crystal bowl of punch comes Kraft; The cheap little Zephyr parked somewhere out of the way, that dusty lined coat swaying with each of his flat-soled steps - and a glowing cherry in the corner of his mouth, with the fedora pulled low. Oh, he's dressed up a little, at least; He's gotten a new suit and pants, and his winston knot is actually up near the neck instead of making friends with his sternum. And that damn polymask is back to squeezing his skull, making his face all pretty and fleshy. Mostly. Better than the pockmarked polymers that are his normal features; A face for radio, they'd call it. He'd have to remember to hand it back to Twitchy afterwards.

'Course, as he's rolling up on the meetup, there's Twitchy herself. And two new faces; New faces in Queen City were like the rain. You didn't want it, you did what you could to avoid it, but you'd always hit it someday.

When one of them wanders off, leaving the second new face - Two Left Eyes - and Gretchen, Kraft finally approaches.

"Funnily enough, I didn't get poked once for a modeling gig."

"This is a good change of pace from my usual party. I love these. There's going to be so much shrimp." Two finishes talking when the third member of the team approaches. "Maybe it's because you don't have headshots?" He asks.

"Watch it, wise guy, or I'll show you my headshot."

Grouses the old borg at Lefty, shifting that dogear to the other side of his mouth as the smoke coils in fat ribbons along the brim of his fedora. He palms it for a moment, glancing up the stairs with distaste; The polymask solution was good at a distance. Up close, he was about as realistic as meat-on-a-stick sold by some horned ficker in the rens. He even had one in mind, letting his mind wander for a second before drawing back to the hear and now. And then false eyes fall to Twitch;

«Your show, sister. Where's the curtain? .. Also, who's the mook?»

Eyes shift to Two Left Eyes again, narrow faintly, even as his lips don't move a bit. Transducer doing the silent two-step tango from his datajack down the taccomm line.

"Ahhrrrrm-hrrm," Gretchen crackles, clearing her throat at Marin Dupre's grand introduction, but she accepts his card and gives him a black pursed-lipped stare with her dark-ringed eyes over her glasses frames. He departs with pizzazz, and as the members of her group approach, she stands there looking over the talent scout's literal calling card in puzzlement.

Two Left Eyes draws a narrow-eyed look but she knuckles her glasses up to conceal her eyes finally. "Headshots have a different meaning where I'm from…" She flashes back to Griffin/Jack's final moment.

The card from Dupre is pocketed and she shrugs self-consciously to Kraft. She murmurs, "Headhunter. Talent scout or something…" She wracks her brain trying to come up with the name Dupre linked to any recent sims or trid series, but draws a blank for the time being and begins searching around, one arm snuck out from her draping shawl to tug at her hair. It's messy, just how she likes it, and everchanging due to nervously messing with it.

Gretchen belatedly does a quick intro to the two men, consisting of a finger very hastily waved from one to the other and a quick statement of, "Kraft, Josh2."

Two Left Eyes looks briefly hurt, eyebrows and corners of his mouth wiggling as he tries to conceal the fact. The young man seems to reason everything out pretty quickly. He nods, smile slightly dampened as he looks between the other two people. "Nice to meet you." He says to Kraft before looking to the stairs. "So. Shall we find our lady?"

Two highly expensive and speedy drones come circling around the base of the tower, one in cherry red, all sleek lines and contours, the other royal blue in the shape of an attack aircraft. Both are leaving a trail of coloured smoke behind them, matching the colours of the drones themselves, as they dart around tree cover and dodge lighting and the nearby revelers. This seems to be common, however, as a few of the people on the stairs raise a cheer and applaud as they rush past.

"Yeah, mac. Yeah. Dandy day for hullos. Jack too, eh? Anyone ever give you grief about your John Hancock?"

Begins Kraft, a wry grin twisting up the side of his face before he pops the dogear back in. And offers a gloved hand, subtly enough kept down near his waist. The noir robo-detective turning his gaze up as drones whip by, and grumping as he pats down his pockets. After a moment, his other hand disappears inside..

The only rumor you can think of regarding Dupre is from quite a few months ago when there was talk that he was creating a sim based on the lives of 'runners, using 'runners to play the roles. It never saw the light of day, however, too many legalities to make it worth the risk. Not to mention the lack of actors willing to take the roles.

The scanner picks up some nearby transmitters, two are just a binary mess linking up to the passing drones, which zip away at speed around the other side of the building. Another is clear, silent for a while until words come from a member of the security staff, "All clear, sector three. Pool still peaceful.", then back to silence.

The drones draw a reflexive reaction from Gretchen who cringes a bit out of habit and pulls a loop of her white infinity scarf up overhead. "I think that's her right there," she mutters grimly, sidestepping toward the proper entrance to the event. Under other circumstances she might appreciate the more artistic application of drone usage, but tonight not so much. All they represent to her is a show of force dressed up in colorful ribbons of smoke, and with that, she leads the trio into the chaos of mingling with Hollywood Simsense employees, fans and investors…

The steps upwards lead into the main building, massive glass doors that are locked open wide to allow for the free flow of party-goers. The foyer of the building appears to be a standard check-in area for hotel guests, but tonight nobody is on duty, the desk empty. Gathered around, instead, are business suited men and women, talking between themselves quietly, obvious bodyguards standing guard nearby to ensure their privacy.

Across the foyer are another set of glass doors that look out onto a pool area, heat haze from the water mixing with the chill light fog as party-goers splash about and others simply relax with a cocktail and their drug of choice.

Two elevators are side by side along one wall of the foyer, one currently open, the other closed, a smartly dressed uniformed doorman standing nearby.

When the taccom channel comes live with the sound of security checking off that the pool area is clear, one may be forgiven for thinking there's been a horrible mistake. At least, until Kraft's transduced, emotionless text-to-speech voice comes over the line as well.

«Got a bead on security at least. So now we'll know how long until our goose is cooked, sister.» Despite the lack of emotion, one can -feel- the grouch. Especially when false lips turn down. «Sounds like they're worried more about the pool than anything else. Who wants to lay odds that's where our lady in waiting is wading? Eh?… It'd sound better if I typed it out.»

Gretchen takes the opportunity of pulling her scarf up to nod to herself at the comm from Kraft while looking to Two. Josh. 2Josh/Josh2. Lefty. She does another 'over the frames of her shades' look to silently inquire whether he got the transmission, then she bites her black lower lip and turns toward the pool with some purpose. The three runners are something of a strange island amid all the flamboyant people here, and it seems as though a course of action is in high demand.

To the hors d'ouevres!!!

Two Left Eyes shakes Kraft's hand fairly professionally. He looks at the drones a few moments after Kraft and Gretchen do, not even registering them as a threat or anything but entertainment. He accepts his role as hanger-on to Gretchen and follows her lead. « Test.. test.. hah. » He gets his comm tuned at just the right time to catch a bad joke. And he thought the other man wasn't going to appreciate humour. Turns out he just got a bad first impression. As the food table comes into view, Two's smile widens. He was so right about one thing. There's a lot of shrimp.

Moving to intercept before they get anywhere near a pool, the well dressed doorman idles up as the 'runners approach. "Good evening gentlemen. Lady.", a faint bow of the head, "If I could see your invitations.". Up close, the doorman is sporting a heavy pistol under the cover of his smart coat. Having moved closer, the thumping of music seems to travel down the elevator to the foyer, not loud enough to catch lyrics but it certainly does have a good beat.

Another sound clicks over the comms, a sudden blast of music from a microphone, "All clear sector one. Small argument inside, now dispersed.", and then the silence returns across the comms.

Gretchen slips a hand out from below her full-torso shawl, and clutched in one gloved hand are three tickets to the event, fanned — the very ones bought from Ms. Hallston in preparation for tonight's grand ceremony.

Pulling a scanner from his belt, the doorman scans the tickets, his scanner bleeping a cheerful sound as it finds a suitable target. Once all three are scanned, the doorman steps aside. "Enjoy the party. The main celebrations are on the sixteenth floor, but please, feel free to mingle.". He offers a friendly smile then returns to his location near the elevators.

Gretchen does her best to carouse and make small talk (though it's largely monosyllabic), periodically pulling her snow white scarf down, sometimes pulling it back overhead — particularly if any drones are spotted doing aerial acrobatic stunts in the lobby like some sort of art in motion display or the like. All signs point to the elevator, but maybe there's something to be discovered down here first. « Sounds like a plan… » Gretchen murmurs a reply to Kraft while looking to Two, then flicks her eyes to the guarded lifts. Under her shawl, she nervously flexes her hands, when they aren't slinking out for nibbles from passing trays or shaking the hands of strangers very begrudgingly as the facade of being at least somewhat social carries on.

With her mouth full she transmits, « Heading to the pool now, » and urges the young man with glasses along with her. She also urges him to, « just let me know if you spot anything, but I think we probably need to head /up/ if we want to see anything worth seeing. »

« Sounds good. » Two adjusts his suit's jacket as he looks around. Where was the food again? Maybe that's not the immediate plan. He follows Gretchen's lead, ambling beside her with the easy confidence that comes from not fully recognising danger. "So, there we were, right? Dave was in the with seat and the owl - which we later found out was some kind of endangered species, right? Well, we were…" The young man babbles all the way to the pool, obtaining a tall glass of champagne in either hand along the way.

The heat from the pool seems to be having a warming effect on the environment too, stepping out into the pool area the chill air is pushed back by the rising steam that's keeping people inside the water despite the current weather. People are gathered in groups out here, though there's a definite common theme from group to group; they're all tightly muscled, men and women alike, have that 'seen it all' look in their eyes, distrusting gazes passed to new arrivals.

There are some sections where 'outsiders' have been accepted, a group of three sitting on deck chairs around a wooden circular table, sipping multi-coloured drinks with curly straws and umbrellas sticking out of them. A few other groups gathered around that look more like the previous guests; business men and women, but overall, this place has a very unwelcoming feel to those on the outside.

What /is/ worth staying for is the buffet and drinks selection, a large curved bar manned by beautiful people in bikini's and shorts, tossing cocktails, a large table with real food of all kinds; chicken, turkey, smoked sausages and so many snacks of various varieties.

If anyone is getting the accepting glance, it's Kraft; the noticable cyborg instantly becomes a part of the community. These are obvious military or security personnel on a night out, no doubt paid for by their employers too, so they're making the most of it. They still don't like strangers on their patch, however. The area is just another part of the hotel, a place for guests to enjoy themselves, there doesn't seem to be anyone immediately noticable out here; perhaps most have been moved on by the unwelcome atmosphere. Despite the warmth, there's a coldness when the people look at Gretchen and Two. One large man in the pool, arms resting on the edge, especially takes to staring, as if waiting for them to turn around and walk right back out again.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « Pool is a bust. Upstairs? »

Two Left Eyes, oblivious as he was being, can read a room's signal when it's coming across that strongly. He's at the bar dropping off his first empty glass when he hears his comm. The young man glances at the assorted cliques arranged about the area and responds, « Yeah. »

«Not my kind of scene anyways, sister; Too many lights.»

The old borg gives an appreciable nod here and there, doing what any good tincan would - utterly ignoring the haters. And somehow, it works, with a few words here and there, always with that ancient slang and Denver twang.

Someone must be a method actor.

Finally, with the old dogear palmed to down another bit of addiction - hard liquor's just liquid, right? - he'll start making his way back out towards the elevator, keeping hold of the shotglass as he goes.

Gretchen mutters to Two as she turns and snags a couple of deviled eggs from another passing tray. She rapidly consumes them as she muses, "I figured the pool would be all decked out like a shrine to Cleopatra or something…"

Filling his free hand with a small piece of pastry, Two offers Gretchen a small shrug. "Maybe upstairs." He murmurs, walking towards the elevator with her.

The man in the pool watches the newcomers become newleavers, then goes back to his previous conversation with a few equally tough looking men and women gathered around him. With the approach of the foyer, the music starts to rise in volume again, a comfortable level at the moment but considering the distance to the sixteenth floor, it's likely going to be loud up there.

The silence over the comm is broken again, "Sector two, all clear. Red is still leading, blue is close behind.". Another voice replaces the first, "Keep the comm channel clear.. until the result. I have fifty k on blue.". The first voice returns, "Roger, boss.", then silence returns.

Without thinking about it, the German girl slips a nibble of food from her bundle, from below the draping fabric of her shawl right in front of the security guard for the elevator and places it in her mouth, chewing visibly while staring at him.

She seems to be waiting for someone else to hit the call button. Like the attendant. Is this that sort of situation or is she making an ass of herself? Only time will tell.

Two Left Eyes hits the call button, nudging it with a knuckle so as not to disturb the contents of either hand - there's pastry and champagne, after all. "Anyway, so the owl was freaking out… I mean, wouldn't you?" He babbles to her.

With a quiet and long suffering sigh, some old tin jackass moves up behind the two bubbling youth waiting at the elevator. Eye contact with the attendant; Upward twist of the side of his lip. Noveau rich, right? And then Kraft goes back to waiting for Twitch and Lefty - utterly unrelated to himself, of course! - enter the elevator so he can move to the otherside.

The doorman looks back at Gretchen as if she were the greatest woman he had ever seen, pure respect; give him five minutes and he'll have a change of heart, no doubt, but for now he's working. "Ma'am.", he nods, taps the call button before Two can get to it, and the door instantly slides open. It must have been on this level already. A bow of his head to the two men accompanying her and he steps aside to allow them all through. "Have a good evening.", he tells them as they pass.

"Wait, what?" Gretchen — or Sally, rather, for the time being — turns back to Two. "Who had an endangered owl?" She tries to keep herself talking a bit to not focus on what kind of pure hell could be awaiting the group on the sixteenth floor…

"I told you! Dave. Dave had the owl. I was driving because the autonav was fucked after William's fucking robo-dog…" Two's words blend together after a while, one massive rambling story where everybody's rich and stupid. He mercifully stops once they're inside the elevator.

The ride upwards is smooth and steady, the motion from the elevator can barely be felt, but from up above the music steadily increases in volume. Finally, the elevator pings softly as it reaches the sixteenth floor, the doors open and a wave of sound welcomes you to the party.

The elevator opens into a large entryway, mirrors installed into the floors, ceiling and walls, laser lights bouncing off them and flashing in all directions, strobe lights only adding to the dizzying effect. Across the entryway is the double door entrance into the main apartment, more lights flashing inside to the beat of the driving music; thumping bass, electronic keyboards, drums beating, the main living area noticable with a mass of people all grindng and dancing together to the beat.

While some people are out in the entryway, taking a breather from the excitement, it's only a handful. A single woman sits on the glass floor next to the elevator, leaning against the wall, trying to stay upright while attempting to do the same with her drink that threatens to spill over the side of her glass. A man crouches next to her, trying to keep her conscious, while she slurs out, "I'm tellin' youuu, I'm nooot drunk.", a nod.

Floorplan: https://www.mipui.net/app/index.html?mid=m747ckcd3p5

With the elevator going up, Kraft takes a moment to wiggle his pinky into his fake ear and frown at 2John4U. "What, you practice that in front of a mirror? I wasn't even the target and I swore my brain was going to fall out of my ear listening to that mess."
He does take a moment to draw again on his dogear, the cherry glowing bright. And then it's showtime. Although he does take time to pass advice over to the man with the woman on the wall.

"Stick a finger down her throat, bub, at the next stall. Lots of bread. Trust me, no one'll notice the smell."

"Who's going to look at someone they don't want to listen to?" Joshua 'Left Eye' Lopez murmurs to the cyborg as the elevator rides upwards. Stepping out of the elevator, he looks brightly up and down the hall. The mixture of heavy beat and the drink he's already finished have him bobbing his head already. "Awesome. I knew this was going to be nice." He finishes his pastry and chases it with the last of his second drink.

Inside the apartment the decor is beautiful, a soft cream colour to the entire area, from the plush thick carpeting to the clean walls, decorated with extravagent art pieces. To the right, the kitchen is filled with food of every description, from simple pizza to expensive caviar, real fish and ripe fruit and salads. Across the dance floor you spot a girl handing out simsense disks to the guests, while to the left is a huge picture window offering a breathtaking view of Downtown Denver; bright lights, big city. The doorway opposite the entrance is left open, showing a bedroom area inside which people are wandering in and out of while trying to dodge the dancers.

The lights, the music, the overstimulus and debauchery… It's perfect. Gretchen couldn't have chosen a better place to spend an evening. She lets her consciousness drift away from the current situation and lights up a cigarette of her own with a small chemical match that she bends until an internal reservoir breaks, not unlike a tiny glowstick, except that a small flame flashes into existence from the upper end instead of it emitting an ethereal glow. The lights are distracting, and beautifully so, but her indoor sunglasses keep them from being blinding. To Two she yells to be heard over the cacophony of BASS. "Thanks for coming on short notice. Just remember!" She taps a finger to her head to indicate the chip they're after. Once inside though, she begins trying to eagle-eye Cleopatra in the chaos, bobbing on tiptoes and angling around everyone's shoulders.

Leaving Twitch to meander and duck and weave, Kraft goes for the opposite side; Towards the view of Denver proper, his dogear slowly burning in a fist clutched around a shot of amber liquid. One hand remains in his pocket, keeping connection with the scanner, while he slips slowly and watches the weather. Occasionally glancing over his shoulder at the grinding and.. well, not dancing. Dancing was a foxtrot. This? This was more like a seizure that didn't fall down yet. That, or the sideways tango that someone forgot to tell these kids happens in the bedroom.
«I've got the vista, sister. And a migraine. Think anyone'll notice if we pull the plug and stop the lasers?»

"Yeah! Yeah…" Two shouts to Gretchen, giving her an upnod. He glances back at the elevator, checking on the barely conscious girl before moving to fun and food. Lights set to 'seizure' and bass that makes his internal organs vibrate. This is exactly how it should be. He detours into the kitchen, picking up another drink and handful of food on his way to the dance floor to participate in the song of his people.

It's hard to keep track of people in a crowd like this, people are in a constant state of motion; even standing in one place they're jostled and bumped until they're forced to move to a better spot. It's constant sound, music, lights, strobes, one second a person is there, another a strobe hits and they're somewhere else, but the energy is incredible. So many people in one place having a great time.

A crackle comes over the comm again, "Hey boss, red got it by a nose.", the second voice, "Fuck! That's.. argh! Silence on the comms!", and the comms fall quiet again.

Keeping an ear to the various conversations, next to Kraft he hears two women talking, "I swear it was Elvis! I mean, you've seen all the old movies, right? He looked /identical/, I /swear/ it was him. Maybe they froze him until..", and then the pair are moving again, dancers bumping against them and sending them off in a twirl.

As Gretchen stops to take in the chaos, she hears voices nearby, "So /that's/ Pengraves new girl?", "Mmmhmm.", two men talking to each other nearby, "And her name is Cleo?", "Mmm..", "Last I heard it was Val, but.. well, she certainly is regal, but what does she see in him? She's /way/ above his pay grade.". Looking from man to who they're looking at and back again, Gretchen manages to pinpoint Cleo in the crowd, not far over from where Kraft is standing, she's even looking out of the window at the night sky.

Val, or Cleo, holds herself with such class and dignity that regal would be correct. Shoulder length, dark black hair frames a beautiful face, a long black dress with a plunging neckline reveals enough cleavage to be enticing without overdoing it, and a slit along the length of her dress reveal her best feature to be long, smooth legs. It seems criminal that the woman should be standing alone, but judging from the men in the nearby area, it's only a lack of courage that is keeping them at bay.

Now immersed in the crowd on the dance floor, Two is getting his groove on. He's not that bad a dancer - while there's clearly no training, he's been in enough clubs to be able to dance and not spill a drink at the same time. The young man works through the crowd. The space isn't so large - if Cleo's here it's probably just a matter of getting close enough.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « She's by the window, it has to be her! » Gretchen ducks her head as she calls this out loud enough for her comm unit to pick up, but facing down she hopes to disguise the speech in the chaos and prevent her lips being read. Her arms are held slightly up to form bumpers as you do in a crowd when everyone's movin' and shakin', and due to the poncho/shawl she has a little black & white parasol sort of situation going on, with her leggings flashing and gleaming in the light like photorealistic galaxies and stars below. She tries to maneuver in a dancing pinball sort of manner, whipping her hair in some dance-y moves, but mainly trying to make progress to a better position to keep eyes on the VIP. « I'm… I'm heading that way… »

Where there's a dancer, there's another dancer, and in moments Two is swallowed up by the sea of motion. Attractive women swoop around him, grind against him, spin away again to find another partner but is quickly replaced by someone else. It's almost dizzying, which way you're facing, faces appearing and disappearing, strobes and laser lights, music shaking the core.

A flip of the wrist to down a little more liquid courage, and a flick of the fingers sends the dogear spinning off somewhere else. It'll get stomped on, in this cage, he's not too worried about it. But Cleo? Well.. there's a classy lady. Dark haired, long legged, and -alone-. Just like he likes 'em.
That sounded less creepy in his skull. A brief frown crosses the old borg's features as false eyes track for the other two - no dice. It's like trying to spot a tuna in a storm, with all these people crammed together. What, no one heard of BO? Still, since he's already elbows his way to the window for a breather, it doesn't take much to make his way towards Cleopatra and her ring of cowardly men.

Which he steps neatly across. What? He's old, he's probably cancer ridden and he's got less meat than a two pound bucket at Stuffers.

"Of all the places in all the world, doll, I find you here." He opens with, a light grin twisting up the side of his false lips.

In between dance moves, Two catches the edge of a conversation as he sweeps back and fore with the movement, ".. hear Junior finally caught a bullet..", and he's gone again for a moment, before he can catch the voice once more, ".. hope he's rotting in his grave.".

At the window, Cleopatra continues to study the bright lights of the big city, even as Kraft makes his introductions, though it does cause an amused smile, brightening her beautiful features ever more so. "I couldn't hide forever.", she replies, a turn away from the window to face the man before her, a step closer, a hand to his arm, "And now you've found me. What happens next?", a tilt of her head, pretty green eyes looking up at him.

Letting herself drift with the motion of everyone around her, Gretchen finds herself nearer to the bathroom/bedroom corner so takes the opportunity to glance into them expecting the standard fare of lines of nova being shared in one or both. She continues to feign dancing for the sake of blending, and does a fair amount of pogoing to keep lines of sight. Her shock of white hair stays very active, caught in explosive freezeframes and slashed with neon in the lightshow.

A whirling blur of flesh and noise envelopes Two. It's not all that far from his home life, except now someone else cleans the mess in the bathroom. And someone else pays for the liquor. His drink is soon empty and he's looking for a way out - people are coming and going too quickly and he can barely hear his comm. He starts trying to edge his way out of the crowd towards the bathroom. It's probably a lot easier to see what Gretchen was going on about from there.

The bathroom is closed, then open, then closed, as people flow back and fore to use.. well.. the bathroom. There's no doubt some drug use going on in there, but it's mostly used for its intended purpose. The bedroom is decked out with simsense players, which a few people are currently hooked up to. An advertisement banner sits on the wall above the decks, announcing HSE's new release, Blood Feud, which is apparantly more about the blood than the feud. It's a gory one.

«Got her attention. Now I-… »

The line in Kraft's head goes static the moment his arm is touched, and those pretty green eyes go hunting his own false ones. He might be about as smooth as a ken doll these days, but inside that metal chassis whirrs the mechanically assisted core of a man. Boom, heartshot. The sardonic grin fades for a moment in a slight bit of confusion across the old borg's features, before his own false eyes turn towards Denver as well. Rather than shaking her hand off his arm - he merely proffers it instead. "Guess we make the best of the last night on earth. Unless one of these boys.." A nod aside to the ring of admirable cowards. ".. already has your dance card?"

If his heart was still beating and not just whirring along, he could probably feel it in his throat. But like any old man, he's got a pretty firm grip on himself. Sort of.

"This really your scene? Look more like a down tempo classic to me; Someone who doesn't much care about music made by monkeys holding down the space bar."

Gretchen takes the opportunity to cup her hands to her lips and state, "Blood Feud!" to whoever happens to be dancing directly beside her, hoping that they might elaborate on the featured sim. While making glances to the other dancer to catch a potential response, she shifts to continue peering in. Maybe there's a simplayer available. But knowing how sim chips have been malfunctioning lately, it might be for the best to avoid Blood Feud altogether.

The delicate hand, moving at the perfect speed to cause even a metal heart to beat a little faster, moves along Kraft's arm, upwards to his bicep. Cleo's eyes haven't left his the entire time, drawing him in to her gaze, a cobra keeping it's eyes one the prize. "It's so enticing, but alas..". The hand leaves his side, joined by a sinking feeling, no doubt, as she steps back in time for a man to join her.

Above her pay grade is an understatement, he's twenty years her senior, has very plain looks and curly blond hair, but he does seem to have a lot of nuyen judging by the clothes he wears and his raised posture. "Cleo. A friend of yours?", he asks, his hand moving to rest at the small of her back, claiming his prize. "We just met. Isn't that so, mister…?", the question held there, waiting for a response from Kraft.

While dancing and shouting about Blood Feud, Gretchen catches a passerby, another swept up in the chaos of the party, "It's /awesome!/", comes the shouted response from a young lady, "It scared the.. beejezus out of me, though!", she laughs. "You gotta sense it! It's /so/ good!"

It's been a long time since Denver's Dirty Angel felt that sting of jealousy. Hell, he'd dated Effie for a while, and she was just a higher class of prostitute. But the hard frown that crashes across Kraft's features is damn hard to miss, his hand briefly twitching. Old instincts; Pull and pull, and this jackass laying claim to the green eyed Cleo would be joining the local room temperature.

Still, with a visible start, the old man takes a moment to pull those dogeared cartons out of his pocket. Tap it on his wrist. And pluck out a bent cancer stick. Nothing calms the nerves like a bit of cancer - it'll also buy him time to compose himself.

"Noonie, doll." He answers, slightly muffled as he grips the cig and tucks it to the corner of his mouth. Offering a gloved hand towards Pengrave, with a false toothed smile. "That's for friends. Most just call me 'Nunya'. How's kicks, mac?"

All the nuyen in the world won't buy you out from under this, sucker!

"Wiz! Yeah, I will, I totally will!" Her 'w's all sound like 'v's. And this is when Twitch decided to try to figure out how to get a bootleg copy of Blood Feud… She turns back to the room, wedging herself into a spot along the wall just at the doorway, trying to spy an opportunity to get a crack at one of the sim-decks.

Two Left Eyes pants for breath as he busts out of the crowd of dancing people. He wipes a sweaty hand over his sweatier forehead and tries to collect his senses. Where is he again? He pulls his tasteful tie off and ties it around his forehead like a kamikaze after dropping his drink off in the kitchen. Thoughts race through his head. There's got to be a better angle here. Chips are trying to be recovered. Why the party? So many questions.

".. Noonie.", Cleo repeats for her partner, Pengrave. Her attention now moves to him, "And where have you been all this time? It's not polite to keep a lady standing alone.", she teases, an arm slipping around his waist, enhancing the teasing. "You are right though Mister Noonie.", the woman turning her gaze back to Kraft, "This isn't my scene. Not so much.", then back to Pengrave, "Why don't you show me some more of the city.", she suggests, a sweep of her hand toward the large window; the city is her plaything for tonight, tomorrow it may well belong to her.

Pengrave nods his head, "Of course. I'll have the car brought around. Why don't you meet me outside?". Not wanting to leave her, but doing so all the same, the man places a kiss upon her cheek then moves off, instantly swallowed up by the crowd of dancers and partygoers, only brief glimpses of him as the strobe lights illuminate the area. That leaves Kraft and Cleo alone again. "I have a feeling we may meet again. I look forward to it, you are so unique.".

Stealing copies of Blood Feud? Why would you do that when a woman is handing them out like candy, everyone at the party gets a free copy. Though, stealing one is no doubt more fun. With most tied into the sim and unaware of their surroundings, it's quite an easy feat to empty a simsense deck of its chip.

When Two pops out of the crowd, there's someone standing there with a pair of drinks, one for him, one for her, "Hey! You dance real well!", she offers him one of the drinks, it's the same one he'd been drinking already. Aww, she picked up what he might like too.

The woman seems genuinely interested, though she's not used to doing this but.. when at a party and you've had a couple of nerve breakers, then why not?! She does seem a little shy about it though, awkwardness in her actions.

Taking the drink without a pause, Two smiles at the woman handing it to me. "Thanks! I'm…" He pauses, looking down at the drink she handed him and noticing it matches his last one. "Super impressed right now. Also Josh. Who are you?"

After committing not-larceny but feeling like she just got away with something, Gretchen slips out of the bedroom with a copy of Blood Feud tucked away, shoulders turned to slide between milling partiers back in the living room. She makes another attempt to lay eyes on Cleo, catching sight of Kraft and her, so bobs her way through in seach of 2Josh. And maybe a shot of something from the kitchen while she's at it.

The woman is in her early to mid twenties and has a cute sort of geeky look about her, her clothing is highest quality but isn't exactly party material. Lifting her own glass so both her hands are around it, she carries it as if it gives her comfort more than as something she's going to drink. "Elisa.", she replies to Two, a slightly nervous smile that's quickly fought off by the buzz in her head from the earlier drinks, smile becoming genuine. "Have you tried the sim yet? It's real bloody but it's kinda fun, like, scary fun.", she nods, smiling. Even as she tries to stand there, talking to a newfound someone, she's jostled around by the crowd, forced to circle and move around to let people through, constantly in motion.

When Pengrave moves out into the entry hall, he's spotted by Gretchen who is near the kitchen area. He stands at the elevator for a few seconds before it pings and the doors slide open, the blast of laser lights and strobes lighting up the inside as he moves into the elevator.

Two Left Eyes is jostled by the crowd the same way as his new friend is. "Not yet. I just got here! It seems pretty bloody, is it, like real or just overdone?" He tries tomake friendly conversation with the girl, but has to shout over the loud music. He sips his drink, only to have his elbow nudged by someone pushing towards the bathroom. "Hey, want to go out by the elevators where it's quiet?"

Gretch moves into the hall before the elevators, forsaking her place in the mob waiting for drinks. « He's heading downstairs! » She comms to the others, and though she feels an immediate sense of urgency she lingers, waiting for the next elevator trip instead of joining Pengrave — she's too identifiable in this outfit to be willing to be so bold as to hop in a box with someone who will probably try to kill her over what she plans to do to his Cleopatra doll. She's been carrying her cigarette around this entire time, sneaking idle drags here and there, but now she searches out an ashtray and grinds the cherry into oblivion before burning the filter with another of her chemical matches, just a paranoid 'destroy the DNA' precaution that may or may not even work. Nonetheless, she lets Pengrave disappear as she does her cigarette disposal ritual in a little corner of the hall, then moves to take up a position for the next flight down to ground level.

"Funny thing about a man running off.."

Begins Kraft, false eyes briefly watching Pengrave as he disappears. ".. you'd figure he'd be running towards." Back to Cleo, his green eyed school crush. Damned if he knew why he was snuffing like a dog in heat; Cleo wasn't that much to look at. If he really screwed down on his sardonic side, she didn't have anything he hadn't seen again and again over the years. But it was the glance, the color of green, the touch, the cock of hip or the rise of chin. It was playing some cromagnum notes in his skull he hadn't quite got around to hammering flat again. In a moment of vindictiveness, his silent transducer goes off.

«Found Pengrave, sister. He's heading downstairs. You want a piece of the man responsible for all this, now's your chance.»

"You sure you want to walk out with a duster like that, doll? Hell, seems fair to me that if he made you wait - maybe, you oughtta make -him- wait a while?" That grin's back up again. "Come on. Denver's fine and dandy from up high, but if you want to -feel- it you gotta get out on the pavement a little. Find something more interesting than toupee and the dollar store dream peddler there."

With a tilt back of her head, Cleo let's loose a delightful laugh, it could be enough to even warm the heart of the old machine to see her happy like that. "You /are/ the charmer, aren't you?", she chuckles. And though she's charmed, she's also nothing more than a machine in a human body, perhaps the opposite of the man she's with. "He's a means to an end.", she lets slip, "But..". With graceful movements, she moves alongside Kraft, raises her arm, "I'll allow you to escort me to the car, if it please you.", green eyes gazing up at the old robot, inviting him along as if he had a choice in the matter.

Across the room, another budding love affair grows, the cute geek woman nodding eagerly to Two, "That sounds neat!", she admits, glancing at the elevators that are now a target of freedom from the crush around her. "It's not /real/ real, but it's real good. If it was real that would be like totally illegal.", the woman tells him, waiting for him to move before walking alongside with him, drink still cradled in hands.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « Get the digits already! »

Gretchen is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next elevator, smooshed up near the wall panel now, jamming the button repeatedly. She comms to, well, both of the men, really, but her intent is to catch an elevator /without/ them to split up the group in terms of who was with who at what times in case there's a murder investigation here later tonight.

Y'know… Just in case…

It's mere seconds and the elevator pings for Gretchen, it's only a few seconds behind Pengrave. If it moves fast enough, she may even catch him on the way out of the building.

The crush of bodies around Two has been replaced with a different kind of crush. Everybody's crushing tonight. He breathes more freely as they leave the main party, embraced by the cool air of the hallway. "Okay, yeah, you're right." He says at a more comfortable volume, "Maybe realistic is the word I was looking for? The opposite of cartoony. Like in that one sim…" He fades off, looking away as if trying to remember. He's more glancing at Gretchen by the elevator doors, seeing if she sees him here too. "Mousetrap?" He snaps back to the conversation at hand.

«Go on and get your man, sister. I've got this.»

There's something just a touch sad in the old borg at the laughter; Light as a bell, darling as a ball. Cleo - she was charming. Delightful. She didn't recoil from his metal touch or keep ducking his false eyed gaze. She was.. well.. damn near the perfect woman. Could he really let his team murder this green eyed bewitcher? And it would be murder. She'd be gone, locked off in a chip while the meat was left behind.

The decision hardens in Kraft's heart, his smile brightening just a touch as he offers an arm to the woman of his dreams. "Yeah, why not? Better than listening to another kudush kudush buzz sound. So yeah.. I think that'd please me a lot." A nod of his head towards the elevators, and Kraft is leading the way - like he was strolling through the park with the loveliest on his arm, rather than some rickety old borg escorting a ghost in the machine.

"By the way.. Noonie isn't my name. Figured if this is the last day on earth, might as well be honest about things. How about you? Honest now; I know toupee's -useful- but.. what is it you -want- out of all this, tonight?"

In a flash, Gretchen is inside the elevator; the doors open, the doors slide closed, the elevator starts to descend with a soft hiss from the machinery, mostly blurred out by the slowly decreasing volume of the music from above.

The geek with Two finds a spot against the wall outside the apartment, leans against it in a failed but eager attempt at looking seductive, so instead falls back on just being cute. "It's like, you're there but your brain is like, don't worry too much cos it's not really real, but it feels real.. it's /so/ weird.", she smiles, "I'm told it's even weirder if you have a 'jack. I need to get one though, I'm like a total computer nut. That's bad, right? I'm such a geek.", she grins.

In the apartment, Cleo accepts Kraft's arm then starts moving through the room with him, though for her it's as if she were gliding on air, her long dress trailing slightly behind her. Despite the crush, there doesn't seem to be one for her, the crowd part at her approach, Kraft too becomes a focus of attention. Who /is/ that man with Cleopatra? Across to the elevator and she waits at the mans side, happy to stay close to this charming old borg. "Tonight? We escape. What the future holds is something else entirely. You could be there, at my side, as we shape a new world. A better one.", a look up, green eyes taking in the man at her side, "It could be so much better with you there.". There's even truth in her words, or she's just /really/ good at influencing people.

"Not even." Two laughs, although his focus on that is tested as he sees one of the team move so urgently into the elevator. Not good. He stamps his left foot on the hallway floor and smiles at the geek. "Jacks are the most common implant. I want one too as soon as I can afford it." The young man leans on the wall comfortably and sips his drink before continuing. "Do you work with HSE? They might hook you up."

In the elevator, a faint glimmer of claustrophobia sets in as Gretchen's adrenaline kicks her worst-case-scenario-focused mind into overdrive. There's also a glimmer of dikote as she snaps her knife open and shut once or twice, but she closes it and slips it into a little utility pocket on the inside of her heavy shawl. Most would use these pockets for phones and the like, but Gretchen has always kept unconventional pocket-stuff.

The doors part and she speedwalks out past the guard stationed there in search of Pengrave.

"A better world? Sounds like a dream."

Grins the old borg, an honest to goodness moment of happiness as he hits the button with a casual twist of his thumb. While Gretchen's going down, his is coming up, the borg turning to face Cleo. His arm still in hers, his gloved hand briefly resting on her forearm. ".. Listen, doll.. this might be a bit sudden, but looking at you? I think that's a dream I can believe in. So yeah.. yeah, I'm with you." That hand reaches up, back of the knuckles brushing along the smaller woman's jawline as the elevator doors open up.

Leave the team? Dump the nuyen? Run away and never look back? Wouldn't be the first time. ".. The name's Kraft, sweetheart. Got a kiss for the last night?" His voice is filled with black humor, but there's something almost vulnerable in the way he's watching her. She was a dream, after all - built just for him. A machine in the flesh, where he was a flesh in the machine.

The geek woman doesn't seem to have any visible cyberware, a shake of her head to his question about HSE. "My father works in their design department, it's like, he'd show me all these different things, then he bought me a desktop and like..", a shrug, as if that explains her entire life in one brief sentence. "What do you do? Are you with them? I bet you're like a security guard or something."

Downstairs, the elevator opens and Gretchen finds herself back in the foyer. Across to the left, heading down the steps toward the parking lot, Pengrave can be spotted. He pulls his coat around him to keep out the chill of the mist, while to his ear he holds his cellphone. He stops at the bottom of the steps and waits, cellphone clipped shut and returned to a pocket.

"The world is full of such nightmares.", Cleo responds to Kraft, "I know you could keep me safe.", her voice almost a whisper over the thumping sound of music coming from the apartment. When the doors to the elevator open, the woman steps inside, this time she's the one doing the leading, bringing Kraft into the elevator with her, though there is no persuasion there, it's expected that he follow. "Perhaps, just the one.", she says, as the doors to the elevator close and it slowly descends.

"Just the one."

Agrees Kraft. He doesn't rush this one - no, not this one. Arm slides out from around her own, finding its way around the small, green eyed seductresses waist. Where THE OTHER MAN's hand was a moment ago, Kraft now claims. The lights from the elevator above cast a sharp, hard shadow across the false planes of his face as he leans forward, old enough to know never to rush. Lips part briefly, false eyes flickering up to hers; - his other arm finding its way around her shoulder, easing her into a lean, like something right out of a trideo flick.

Like hands pressing together in prayer, lips press as well - and for the same reason. A little bit of faith. A little bit of that golden dream that if you just hold on tight, everything'll turn out okay. Fingers squeeze briefly as he lets the kiss linger, hand sliding up to cup the back of her neck, to support the love of his life-

To slip that chip from her hidden datajack. The body in his gentle grip shudders once, eyes widen. Then close as the woman relaxes. The lights go out.

".. Life's but a dream. Sorry, sweetheart.." He murmurs, breaking the kiss at last. Only to press his lips again, firmly to her forehead. Holding her limp body tight to his own as his shoulders shake. A silent series of sobs; But fake eyes don't cry. Robots don't get that release.

By the time the elevator opens, what was once Cleo has been carefully placed in the corner, legs crooked so as to be as comfortable as possible. She was gone, and Kraft is left staring up at the ceiling. It was the right choice, he tells himself over and over. But deep down? Deep down, he knows there was nothing right at all about this. Nothing.

«.. Deed's done. I got the chip.»

Everybody's leaving faster than Two would like. The person who's clearly the mark is on her way out with the cyborg. "Not even. If I were, I'd get all the violence in real life and wouldn't need a sim!" He glances at the elevator doors as they close. "You want to get out of here?"

The geek girl nods eagerly at that, "Can we?", pushing herself away from the wall and almost straight into Two's arms. "This place is /so/ loud.". Her drink is placed on the floor before she considers something, considers again, three times before giving in to her inner demons to reach out and take him by the hand.

Inside the elevator down, Cleo gives one final twitch during the kiss, as if feeling her own demise, arm tightening around Kraft before it too relaxes and drops to her side, lifelessly swinging until she's placed gently down onto the ground.


The elevator reaches the ground floor, the soft ping, the hiss as the doors slide open to the foyer beyond. There's a soft moan from behind Kraft, then, "What..? Where am I?", Cleo's voice.. almost. It doesn't have that seductive tone anymore, it's more harsh, more 'city'. "What the fuck am I wearing?!", a lot more city, "You! Hey!", looking up at Kraft from her corner of the elevator, "What's happening? Have you abducted me? Are you my guard or..", she notices the doors are open, notes the people looking in, realises she's in an elevator. Rising to her feet, she straightens out her dress, tries to pull the front across to conceal some of her cleavage, suddenly very self conscious, "Where am I?", her voice for a moment sounding a little scared.

Outside, in the parking area, a Mistubishi Nightsky leaves its parking spot, glides across the tarmac and drifts lazily to a stop alongside Pengrave. He reaches out, pulls open the rear passenger door and steps inside, closing it quietly behind him. The vehicle doesn't move, the engine rumbling quietly as it waits for the next passenger.

Gretchen seethes, speedwalking out of the elevator and into the lobby, making sure to keep Pengrave in sight, but with obstacles or passersby between she and him in the event that he looks her direction. « How?! » She mutters in total surprise, tucking her face into one of her shoulders to block sight of her speech. « Nevermind… Good… » Chip number two, acquired. « Fucker's in his limo… I… » She flexes her hand on the closed jackknife in her palm, wishing she could risk diving into the limo to do the deed — get some actual closure here. Instead, she pulls out a small tube of candy and pops one into her mouth, chewing furiously as she stares daggers at the Nightsky idling outside the doors.

Torn between politeness and backing up the team as quickly as he can, Two smiles at the geeky girl. "It really is." He says, taking her hand and heading for the elevator. His jaw clenches slightly as he listens to the comm chatter. « Where's he going? » He murmurs into his comm while touching the 'down' button, knowing all too well which floor both elevators are already on.

«Not today, sister. Just tell me you've got Pengrave in sight? The guy will be hanging around until Cleo comes over.. and she's gone further than he can find.»

Comes the response to Gretchen's query, as the old borg's head finally bows when he hears movement behind him. Lips tug down into a hard grimace; That made things complicated. He'd said his goodbyes already, after all. There's two smart ways to play this, and both of them involve walking off and leaving the lady to swing in the wind. One of them involves a little method acting, the other just walking.

So of course, Denver's Dirty Angel has to do the stupid thing instead, turning slightly and offering out a gloved hand. "Val.." He begins, voice pitced low, ".. Tonight, I'm damned guardian angel. You want to live through the next few minutes? Take my arm, walk out of this hotel with a smile and go find some deep hole to hide in."

Soft spots aside, the last thing he needed was this broad following him down the hall shouting and screaming. Someone with the same green eyes, the same smile, the same body; But all the class got replaced with crass.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « He's idling, waiting on… Val. »

The free elevator that Gretchen had left starts to rise swiftly when Two touches the button, it's only a few seconds and the doors are sliding open on his floor. The girl at his side takes a parting glance at the party, taking in the view of the dancers moving through the strobe lights, the lasers flashing and reflecting off the mirrors, a wistful smile rising at the sight; she had fun.

In the next elevator, Val stands with arms crossed over her overly exposed chest. It's not that bad, but to her it obviously is. Her mouth opens as if to protest, takes a look at the situation she's in, the people outside, the well dressed individuals; whatever trouble she's found herself in this time, it might be best to just go with the flow until she finds somewhere more private. Moving over to Kraft, she takes his arm, but mutters quietly to him, "If this goes bad, you are so going to regret it. Even more so if you put me in this damn dress.".

The Nightsky continues to purr as the vehicle awaits Cleo's arrival, headlights illuminating their way through the late night mist. Nothing can be seen through the darkened windows.

Gretchen tries to remain unassuming, just a wallflower from the party, that's all, nothing to see here… Perhaps she's waiting on her own ride..? Meanwhile though, she cycles visual filters on her glasses to try to get a look through those impenetrable windows, but to no avail.

"Lady, we passsed 'bad' about half a mile ago. Welcome to 'desperate'."

Grouses the old borg as Val takes his arm. Whatever enchantment, whatever dream he walked in with Cleo is long gone; In its place? The hard, blood soaked reality of the Queen City. Now he's got some crass mouthed woman on is hands, and the target of Gretchen's ire - and this whole mess - idling away in a spook proofed car. "Besides, you aren't my type, savvy?" A pause, and false eyes squint under his fedora as they make their way towards the garage. His voice pitched low. ".. What're your thoughts on your last boss, Pengrave? Depending on your answer, doll, we're either heading for the streets and you can be free as a damn dove for all I care.. or to the garage, and get a little dish I like to call 'revenge'."

«I think I gotta way to pop that door open, sister; Either of you in a good place for a shot?»

The sounds of the party are still loud. Two glances at his new companion and squeezes her hand reassuringly, spotting her looking back at it. He takes the opportunity to touch his commlink. « I'm in the elevator. Can track him astrally. But someone'll need to watch me here. » He watches the elevator's floor display - each change in number seeming to take forever in his mind.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « Fuck that — » Gretchen replies to 2Josh, chin still tucked low to one shoulder, « — that's asking to get arrested or worse. » She still holds Mentos in one hand, knife in the other under her shawl, and she stares out over the frames of her round-lensed glasses, watching the limo and chewing fiercely to just have something to occupy herself with. To Kraft she offers, « … I can be … » And at that she begins to let herself drift closer to the main doors. Closer to Pengrave's limo. « Just say when… »

The parking area is down the steps, directly toward Pengrave's vehicle. Noticing the incoming pair, the door to the Nightsky opens and Pengrave steps out, moving to one side to keep the door open for who he thinks is still Cleo.

"Pengrave? I must have been out a while, I don't know a Pengrave.", Val replies to Kraft as she walks at his side, though calling it walking is like comparing a ducks waddle to ballet; she really can't walk in heels. "I suppose I should if he's my last boss..? How long have I been out, exactly?", her voice still low to avoid being overheard by the various groups of businessmen around the foyer area.

The geek girl follows Two into the elevator and waits alongside him, staying silent but with a nervously excited tingle, the woman glancing up at the man beside her every few seconds, smiling at him if he catches her looking.

"That man right up ahead. He put a ghost in your head, sister; A woman named 'Cleo'."

There's a small tone of sadness to Kraft's voice, covered by the grousing old borg clearing his throat. "He was in cahoots with Marcelloni; Junior. Also working behind Coop, Griff, and the rest of your sorry lot that got roped into the last job." He'll have to talk quick, keeping his voice low as he can. "That man's been using your meat like a damn puppet on a string." A pause as they reach the stairs, Kraft keeping his fedora tilted head low, false eyes minding the stairs as he walks first - to better offer support to the wobbling Val. So she can -try- to pull off something more graceful that a ficker on a tightrope.

"So, same question; You want revenge or freedom, dollface? Because Penny there's expecting you to walk happy as can be into his limo as a gal named Cleo."

Two Left Eyes sways on his feet unsteadily. The second time they catch each other looking, he turns to face her. His slender hand squeezes hers as he leans forward, body drawing closer to hers with all the signs of a hot elevator kiss. If she approves of this idea, the kiss is long and slow. If not, the final part happens so much sooner. "I… I.. feel…" He sways on his feet. Pale eyes roll up in his head and his legs lose their strength. The young man's mind departs his body, dropping faster than the elevator can follow.

Gretchen ever so slowly begins to descend the stairs from the entrance of the hotel, one bootheel at a time grinding on concrete. Her intent is sinister indeed, every muscle tensed, though she tries to play it off as simply taking her time reaching the sidewalk due to her own vehicle not having arrived yet. Wisps of white hair drift gently in front of her face in the night air, her hands are concealed beneath her thick Irish synthwool and kevlar blend and her leggings flick galaxies with every step.

Trying her best to keep her balance, Val uses Kraft for support, which makes it look all the more believable as they seem a lot closer. "I hate heels.", she comments quietly, before listening to the story of her past few days. There is no anger in her demeanor, she doesn't remember what happened so she hasn't really got anything to be angry about except that she wasn't herself for a while, but she doesn't remember that either. "I don't know a Junior either..", she tells him, ".. Cooper and Griffin, those are two people I hope not to see again.", a shake of her head in distaste.

"The last I remember..", Val continues, ".. I'd dropped off Cooper and Griffin at his warehouse, was handed one of the chips we stole instead of the real payment, then headed for a private airfield. I guess I was curious, the last thing I remember is popping it into my 'jack. That turned me into this 'Cleo'?". Stairs. The devil in disguise when you can't walk in heels. "If this Pengrave means something to you, he's all yours. If he's been doing anything with my 'meat' while I've been out, I'll put a round or two in him too.".

The kiss from Two is returned nervously at first, then with some excitement; they are alone after all, despite it being for only a short time in an elevator. But then the man is passing out, the last thing Two catches before his astral form has moved away is her scream of panic, a look of worry.

Leaving the elevator and then outside of the building, Two finds the astral to be uncomfortably busy tonight with the party. Multiple spirits circle the building, keeping approaching wizkid mages away from peeking in, additional magical security also patrol the astral, guide the spirits to do their bidding if need be. It's a little busy out here. They haven't noticed right now as they're watching astral forms that are incoming, rather than leaving the building.

Pengrave takes note of the approaching Gretchen, but doesn't seem to consider her a threat, just another party-goer who maybe had a few too many. "I hope you've been enjoying the party.", he comments with a polite smile, though he looks away and back to Cleo, obviously not interested in having any discussions.

Gretchen grunts. "Mm." Her black lips are pursed tightly and she glares from behind her shades but quickly averts her eyes, turning to scan the parking lot in an effort to continue her ruse…

«Got a stabber on you, Twitch? Val here's on our side - for the most part. John Too, where the hell are you?»

The borg has one last bit of advice, cast undertone, for 'Val' as they approach both Penny and Twitch, false eyes flicking up to watch the white haired woman. Before that sardonic smile slips across his face, and he lifts his free hand in greeting - to Gretch.

"Don't say anything, Val. Just smile or look disappointed. Pennywise the dancing clown'll think you're playing hard to get. Lady on your left is a .. mm, friend?" What -is- Twitch to Kraft besides an annoying way to get himself neck deep? Also a blood thirsty psychopath, and then sometimes the salvation he'd been hunting. Women. If they weren't being complicated, they were cooling on a slab. Finally unwinding his arm from about Val's own, so he can draw a card out of his pocket. Scratching down a number - right in sight of 'Cleo's boyfriend. Because jealousy's a three sided sword.

As the borg scrawls out his digits, Gretchen bites her lower lip and maneuvers to put 'Cleo' between herself and Pengrave in order to extend her hands, both held together with her small, folded knife between her palms. In an attempt to disguise the transfer as a fangirling handshake, she presses Val's palm to the small blade's handle and gives the glamorous rigger a dire look over her glasses where strands of her white bangs cling to the frames.

While Pengrave is an unknown for Two, Kraft and Gretchen have no doubt been glanced over and there they are, near the parking area, a male and female aura alongside them. Those are going to be Pengrave and Cleo/Val, but other than a cursory look over, Two doesn't really have long. Like a bolt of light, one of the security mages spots the ethereal mage hovering nearby and is in front of him at the speed of thought, "Return to your body, sir. This area is off limits during the party.". One of the fire elementals starts moving closer as added protection and enforcement.

Uncertain how to act, Val stays silent while Kraft writes down his number, waiting patiently but perhaps a hint of nervousness at the thought of sharing a car with someone who might have seen more than just her charming personality while she was Cleo. Not being the greatest actress, she feigns being tired, not being herself because sleep is calling.

When Gretchen approaches, Pengrave becomes mildly curious at the handshake, but Val maneuvers herself so the exchange is out of sight long enough for her to conceal it in hand. There's nowhere else for her to hide it.

It's impossible to hear his commlink from the astral. Two trails faint shades of regret as he cuts through the magical atmosphere. Did he really have to scare her like that? Probably. Business is more important. She's owed an apology at least. He's floating near the entrance and trying to focus when the fierce glow of a high power mage shows up. "Oh. Um. Sorry." This should be enough. He makes his way back to his body in a quick and orderly fashion.

Two's awakens with a sudden gasp and violent clutching of his fingers. He looks around quickly. "I'm so sorry." Are his immediate words.

Moving closer, Pengrave sets himself between the admirers and motions Val toward the vehicle, "Shall we?", he asks, and she nods. It's an awkward few steps to the car, those damn heels, which he considers curiously, but then she's climbing into the vehicle and seating herself comfortably. The heels are the first thing to be kicked off as she settles.

Pengrave gives a final glance at the curious admirers, then follows the woman into the car, closing the door behind them both, though Kraft and his high powered hearing can pick up a message to the driver, "To the airport..", before the clunk of the door seals out further sound.

Inside the elevator, the cute geek has given up trying to wake Two and is pacing back and fore, having a minor panic attack, a hand waving in front of her face as she pants nervously for air. "Ohmygod-ohmygod..", then he's awake again and she's quickly moving to his side. "You scared me! Are you alright? Ohmygod, don't do that! Like, I was /so/ freaked out!", a hand resting on her heart, trying to calm the rapid beating.

For a moment, Kraft looks about as bitter as he feels; That flat line of lips drawn into a hard frown as he watches Pengrave click the door closed. Time to drag out the beaten carton, and tap it on his wrist a few times - get the dogears settled. He'd been going through them like a lawnmower of late. False eyes detaching one in particular, tucking it into his lips, refusing to look anywhere but the ground for a moment. Tagging it with a flame from the lighter stolen from Tee Hee, before he finally sucks in deep.


A terse and single word, before false eyes finally look up from the ground to Twitch herself. Narrowing fainly.
«How badly you want this man, Twitch? … Also, anyone heard from John lately?»

Two Left Eyes sits up. He clambers to his feet with an unsteady waver. "Elisa, I am so, so sorry. Maybe this is a bad night." The young man wraps one arm around the scared girl and breathes a long breath. "Let's trade numbers and meet later." He pulls his pocsec out of his pocket and offers it to her as he tries to touch his commlink. « I read his aura. Can find him. »

The German girl sneers and quickly tilts her head as though to spit onto the pavement but prevents herself from following through on the reflexive action. DNA evidence is a bitch. Once Kraft has his cig lit, she turns to him looking utterly disgusted by the situation, but turns away to follow the departure of the limo. "…damn it!" She swears a bit more elaborately under her breath in German, then offers this in response to how badly she wants Pengrave to bite the dust, "…let's just get the job handled…" Her body language and attitude both scream bloody murder though.

Then at 2Josh's comm message she squints and looks away from anything really, one of those long-distance stares that focuses on a thought rather than a physical object.

It takes a few moments for the girl to calm down, but she eventually just nods once or twice, her disappointment obvious. The number is entered into the pocsec, then she stands up and presses the control panel of the elevator, aiming to head back to the sixteenth floor and the party above. "Don't lose it.", she says with a little smile, though it's the kind of smile that follows rejection. Her finger stays on the door control, allowing the man to leave now they're on the ground level.

The Nightsky pulls out and starts heading for the street, pauses at the intersection then turns and starts moving until it's out of sight due to the surrounding buildings. A few seconds later, Kraft's phone rings, a tickle inside his skull alerting him to an incoming call from an unknown number.

"I won't." There's no duplicity Two's voice as he takes his pocsec back. "You'll hear from me." He smiles at her with a little sadness at what could have happened tonight. He really needs to crash more parties like this - spending all this time at home trying to work is hell on his social life. He backs out of the elevator and then starts moving quickly towards the entrance, grabbing his car keys.

Gretchen barely reins in the overwhelming urge to raise her hands to the sky and wail a wordless cry, but she manages, barely, and diverts her attention to GTFO-ing. "Look, we need to get the fuck out of here." She growls this to Kraft who seems to be stewing in his own psychological situation, but there will be time for dwelling on things later. "It's out of our hands now… We need to get Cooper and finish this."

The old borg's hand reaches back down into his pocket, gripping the pocsec and letting his induction jacks do the work of answering; This time routing it through the transducer again, to make sure everyone's got a good ear on what's coming next while he nods absently to Gretchen's statement. He hadn't been holding the scanner for a while, anyways.

«You're live.» Comes his acknowledgement of the quiet ringing.

Gretchen turns in place, nervously awaiting movement in order to get her mind off things, but she listens in eagerly on the incoming call, glancing to Kraft with some concern, mid-pace, wringing her hands beneath the shawl.

The voice on the other end of the call is that of Val. "Tell me you're following? If this guy touches my leg once more this knife is going in his throat.". The woman sounds irritated, but is very quiet. "I'm doing my best sleeping beauty impression right now, but I can see through the window without alerting him. He told the driver to head for the airport, if you want to come and rescue me any time. Any time. No rush. Whenever you're ready.", there's a hint of teasing in her tone, trying to make light of a difficult situation. "But, uh.. don't hang up. I just woke up in the middle of nowhere after acting like someone I could never be. A friendly voice on the end of a phone might help, you know..?"

Two Left Eyes pulls his tie off. It dangles from his hand as he strides through the lobby, reaching the entrance in short order with keys in hand. When he reaches Gretchen's side, he wordlessly holds the keys up in her field of view and hits the unlock button. The lights on the grey Westwind he arrived in turn on. He then continues walking.

The German strikes a stern stance, hands on hips below the draping charcoal shawl. She stares at Kraft as Val makes an admission of… not fear necessarily, but… concern for her own well-being. Two remotes his sedan and she makes a snap decision to accompany him simply due to there being a signal to follow in the form of the headlights flashing to life. "Let's go, let's go!" She starts with two long strides, galaxies gleaming, and that becomes a sideways gallop, just on the verge of breaking into a jog, but she has turned to check Kraft's reaction.

Val keeps talking, perhaps just so she has something to take her mind off the situation. "I'm no idiot, I'm guessing this is about the chips. I'm a rigger, by trade, I own an Airstar, remind me to take you up in it sometime. I dropped the team off at Global and circled the area, picked them up again when they came out, then we went back for the payout at Coopers warehouse in the Warrens. His biker gang were all over the area, you know, so he double crossed us. Kept the payment for himself and gave us those chips instead."

There's a break in the chat and she tells Kraft, "We just turned north on Main..", then she continues on, "He kept one for himself. He was ranting something about Khan, but he's always been into that old history..".

No need to check Kraft's reaction at all - he's already running as soon as the lights flash, that lined coat flaring out behind him. Cyborg on the move here! Although he does keep a hand on his fedora as his other hand pumps, still gripping that pocsec.

It'd have been easy to simply drop the call and let it all go. Denver was full of bad choices, what was one more life busted? One more broad disappearing into a life she didn't ask for or was too stupid to stop? 'Course, like before, the difference was this: The flatfoot would have to let it happen first.

«… We're coming, doll. Just keep yacking. Might even see if you can get the limo to pull over if you start getting near the highway. J? Meet me around back. I gotta pickup my piece. Rolling stop, savvy?»

Hearing the voice on the other end of the line seems to cheer Val up a little, even if it's just to tell her to keep talking. "I can do that, I get the feeling this Pengrave will do anything I ask. He's a creep, I hate him and I've only just met him."

"Headware, if you were wondering..", the woman continues, ".. he hasn't got a clue we're talking. Where was I with the..? Oh. Griffin had a chip too, but he looked /real/ angry about that. He came out of his meeting with Cooper like he was going to stick his razors into the next person he saw. I don't know him too well, we've done a few jobs, but I've never seen him like that.".

Gretchen spots the borg sprinting at full tilt and proceeds to aim herself directly at 2Josh's car. With quick motions she flings the passenger door open, slides the seat forward and dives into the back to land on shoulder and hip, ankle boots still poking out the door.

«I can slow the limo down as soon as we see it. Maybe crash it. Shouldn't be a problem.» As sad as he is to leave Elisa behind, Two is glad to be able to get to work. Things are a lot clearer and easier now. With a glance to make sure Gretchen is with him, he slings into the driver's seat and starts the car with practiced ease. He gives it a quick rev, blowing a cloud of vapor out the exhaust pipe to mix with the night's fog. «We're on our way.»

Working with one hand's a pain, but no worse than Kraft's usually got. The side of the Zephyr yanked open with a hard whine of servos, the big hand cannon nabbed; No time to get the holster and no time to get more ammo. Not with 2John's Windstar zipping around with smoking tires. Pushing the Zephyr's doors down with his elbow and kicking it the rest of the way closed, the old borg's sprinting to the road - trying to angle himself so there's not so much a stop as a slow down to get in.

The German scrambles upright as the vehicle swerves, pulling her feet below her just before the momentum of the car causes the door to swing shut and the passenger seat to snap back into its default position. She has the presence of mind to buckle in as well, while rattling off exclamations in German.

«Griffin's not one you've got to worry about anymore, Val.»
States the old borg in his head, grimly. Unfortunately, text-to-speech kind of ruins the grouse, so take that as you will. False eyes glance to Twitch in the mirror, before he gives a hard nod to 2John4U. Still busy chatting to really talk out loud. He might be mostly machine, but that's still human meat in his skull. «.. He didn't wake up after the chip got pulled. I get the feeling he never will.»

Better to leave the fine details out of it.

With the speed of the Westwind and the casual pace of the Nightsky, it's easy to catch up to it, especially with the guidance from the passenger up ahead. Turning north onto Main, you spot the limousine in the distance, paused at some red lights that soon change as you drive closer, the vehicle driving onwards again.

From the car, Val continues to talk, "Too bad for Griffin. He might have been an arsehole at times, but he was good at his job. I feel worse about Freya, they shouldn't have left her like that. I never would have. Cooper was calling the shots, told us to pull out fast. Do you know if she survived it?"

«Yeah. I found her holed up at a doc's place. Got her the word to get out of town, the cleaners were coming. She made it fine except for a few earned scars, pointed me at you three. So will you, dollface, just keep talking. We're right behind you.»

Casual conversation was never Kraft's thing. Usually sullen stares and cancer sticks, or maybe just a few sardonic witty words here and there while watching the streets clog up. That heavy piece kept low between his knees for the moment, false eyes focusing up ahead on the limo. Finally speaking out loud.

"… Alright, so you're a spook, Johnnie. What've you got that Twitch and I don't? Outside of jumping on top of the limo from a handy roof. Which we ain't got."

Two Left Eyes may not have practiced babbling like an idiot in front of the mirror but he's clearly driven like an asshole at multiple points in his life. He's almost disappointed at how the limo comes into view so quickly. He slows down as Kraft talks. "I can put up a wall in front of the limo. I'm not that strong so it'll probably plough through. I can handle one without passing out, two might put me down. Just let me know where you want it put down."

Up ahead, the Nightsky slows at a junction, turns eastwards; for anyone with city knowledge, the path seems to be taking them to the highway, for those without, the large sign that they drive past might give it away. Still in the heart of Downtown, however, this is no place to be staging a vehicle attack. The airport is a lot further east so there's plenty of time, assuming the woman in the target vehicle can hold tight.

"That's good news. I hope she forgives me, if we meet up again.", Val replies over the open line. "What about Cooper? Did you find him yet? I'd love to put this knife into him if you need some help. I could fly you straight over his warehouse and drop you on the roof, or at least a few blocks of C4..".

This is definitely no place to stage a crash. There's probably somewhere good along the way, the airport is still some distance. Two drives sedately, making sure he has an eye on the Nightsky but not getting too close. He just has to wait for the right moment.

"Nothing local I can think of, but we've got a long ways to go. Keep your eyes peeled and watch the speed, Johnnie."

Grumbles the old borg to the younger runners. Younger physically, but at least one of them's got him pegged in terms of running experience. Still, he's got his tricks here and there.

«Got a good bead on him; He's got a ghost in his meat too, just like you did, doll. Trying to pull a Conan and rally the barbarians like he was playing for the Red Sox. Heli-dropping a few gifts might be just the ticket. .. Got eyes on you too, now. Keep it icey.»


"Traffic needs to thin out before we can try anything…" Gretch is white-knuckle gripping the seat back and poking her head up into the front, cycling vision filters and zoom-scanning up ahead for potentially promising limo-jacking locations. "If you can do something with…" She speaks to Two while darting her eyes around the landscape and makes a very awkward hand gesture, an admission of being clueless about whatever he might be intending. "…have a ball." To Kraft, "I don't have…" She feigns a pocket-check. "…shit. Maybe worst-case you can pop a tire…"

"How's your aim, sister?"

Asks Kraft, head turning back to look at Gretch - as he offers up his hand cannon. He's got fists, after all! .. Although, technically speaking, she's probably better with her hands than he is. Still, it's her revenge and his -. Well. The lady he'd put in danger to get them here.

The Nightsky up ahead draws ever closer to the onramp onto the highway, a few more blocks of straight road and then it's a simple turn and the speeds will increase for almost the entire remaining run to the airport. "If you can get me out of here sooner rather than later..", Val says over the line, "I have the knife ready and an open neck to plunge it into. Just give me the go ahead.".

Gretchen steels herself with a deep breath snorted quietly through flared nostrils and declares, "Good enough," with regard to her aim. She solemnly accepts the revolver and gives it a quick once-over with all due respect — she's seen what this thing is capable of, and its weight alone is intimidating.

Seven shells, all with the neat little yellow warning for high ex-ex explosive, like the developer had a stutter. The heavy spring matches a fat lever action to make it -extra- feathery; You could darn near set the thing off by sneezing at it wrong. It's a dangerous, dangerous thing, the Deputy. The only revolver that can fire at semi-auto rates.

Kraft nods ahead, pointing. "On ramp's our best shot, Johnnie. You ready?"

«On ramp's our best shot. Get buckled.»

"I'm safe. You do your thing.", Val replies. The Nightsky starts its turn onto the highway onramp, having to angle out slightly due to the length of the limousine. "I'll see you again soon..", and the line clicks off.

Gretchen holds onto seat back and Deputy equally, both measures of desperation, though for very different reasons. "Take the wheel," she barks at Kraft out of anxiety. "Whatever the hell he's doing, someone has to fucking steer!" Her accent is thicker than usual as tends to happen in moments of high tension, and she squints her eyes as though trying to shut them but forcing herself to watch, torn between two courses of action.

«Here we go-!»

At the bark, Kraft leans over to grip the wheel while Spooky John does his Spooky Stuff, false eyes wide as he tries to keep them neatly to the center of their lane.

"Right." Two straightens in his seat. Casting under pressure. He's got this. Shouldn't be too hard. He looks down at his hands as someone else grabs the wheel. He lifts them up and touches each finger to its matching thumb, murmuring a few quick numbers. From the back seat it's easy to see the tension building in his muscles as he builds concentration.

The young man narrows his eyes and grunts quietly, the kind of quick exhalation that comes from a strong physical movement. Glittering light condenses on the road in front of the Nightsky, a wall of ethereal beauty that is angled -just so-.

Oblivious to danger, as the Nightsky turns the corner it starts to accelerate, straight into the angled wall. The vehicle starts to tilt to the side with the rise of the physical barrier, the driver trying hard to compensate for the sudden change in direction, but he only ends up making it worse; the vehicle continues to tilt at speed onto its side until it hits the floor, the side of the vehicle scraping noisily along the road before it drops over the edge of the onramp onto the dirt covered floor beneath. There's a creaking noise once the vehicle lands, teetering on its edge as if undecided which way to land, but slowly it gives up the fight and rolls the rest of the way onto the roof.

Gretchen preemptively braces for impact, literally and figuratively, with her grip on one of the seats as well as the revolver, and the Deputy-holding hand rises. She presses the back of the hand under her nose in preparation for an impending nosebleed while the weapon dangles for the moment. At the first glance of the coalescing light in the road ahead, she focuses on the surge of tainted power she refuses to admit that she feels emanating from the not-driving driver. Her whole being is fixated on preventing droplets of blood from decorating the cushions of the back seat.

Her nose doesn't actually begin to trickle, but it's a common enough reaction to that which shall remain unnamed, that it provides the kind of distraction/focus that she feels the need for in times like these.

Slamming the brakes, Two grabs the wheel. His hands tremble with mental backlash as the Nightsky grinds its way up along the glittering wall. The Westwind's tires squeal as he concentrates, only releasing the spell when the limo has finished tipping. The hard light sublimates, vanishing as quickly as it formed. The young man grips the wheel with white knuckles, motionless. Is he being ice cold or is he recovering from the stress? Someone watching his mouth would notice his lips moving quietly as he works his way through a checklist.

"Alright, shake 'n bake time."

Grouses the borg, throwing open his door as the Westwind squeal to a halt. He has -just- the frame of mind to release the back seat - letting it snap forward for Twitchy's exit. And then he's moving to hop over the curve of that onramp and stumble down the incline towards where the limo is rocking on its back like an upturned turtle. That, or some trogg griping about a tummy ache.

The rear door of the Nightsky is pushed open and Val clambers out, appearing unharmed but a little more disheveled than the last time you saw her. Looking around for the team who released her, she spots the Westwind screeching to a stop and breaks into a run towards it.

Not moving as fast, the other side opens and Pengrave drops out onto the floor, blood trickling from his head and staining his previously pristine suit. "Cleo?! Come back!", he calls after her.

Following suit, Gretchen lurches out of the back, one galaxy leg at first, then frazzled white hair, then she's out and crouch-running in quick steps to keep right behind Kraft, both hands held tight to the grip of the Deputy which is held low so the barrel glints in the light.

Two Left Eyes reaches a point in his checklist that he now realises should be moved up. Are you breathing properly? He takes a full breath, shivering as full normality asserts itself. Or about as normal as you can feel with this much adrenaline coursing through you. Slender fingers relax on the wheel and he checks the mirrors. No worries, this should be fast.

Kraft's false eyes briefly light on Pennywise the Dancing Clown - but that's Gretchen's business. And business is -good- today. Rather, the old borg pauses mid-way down to see Cleo running back up towards him. And - for just a moment - that grin dares to flicker across his features.
At least, before memory plays it's damned dirty trick. The grin dies, curling into something wry and miserable, but his hands out none the less.
"You did good, kid. Head on up - Twitch has it from here."

The woman is fast, there's more than rigger gear installed in Val and she's using it to full effect to move away from the wreckage as fast as she can. Moving to Kraft, she reaches up and playfully unseats his fedora, knocks it off tilt, "Thanks for the rescue.", she tells him. Perhaps there's a little of Cleo left in her after all, an acquired affection for the old borg. Perhaps. Not waiting around, Val dives into the Westwind, taking a back seat so she's out of the way.

The drivers side of the vehicle remains closed, the driver makes no attempt to escape, if he even can. It's impossible to see his situation with the darkened windows. Pengrave stumbles awkwardly to his feet, a little dazed after the crash, grabs the edge of the upturned Nightsky for balance. "You.", he says, spotting Kraft, then Gretchen. "You must be Urlan's team..", a wry smile creasing his middle aged features, as if he knows his time on this planet is now drawing to an end. "Well done. Well done..", he nods.

Gretchen continues on, activating the laser sight and drawing a bead on Pengrave's forehead for a moment as she takes aim. But the dot continues moving, as does she, taking up a place at the back of the toppled limousine itself where she sights in on the driver's door. Both thumbs work together to cock the hammer before she aims in with intense focus where she expects a driver to crawl from in short order…

When this doesn't occur, she adapts her plan back to Penny, creeping along the back bumper to peek the weapon out, laserdot bobbing back onto the one remaining target of her ill-will. For now.

"Danke," she growls at the archvillainous final words of Mr. Pengrave before her finger tightens on the Deputy's hair trigger.

Kraft hasn't got time to spout out anything witty when that woman -knocks his damn hat askew-! By the time he's got it reseated on his bald head, she's already past him and into the back of the seat. Grousing under his breath - something along the lines of 'flighty damn women' - he turns his attention back to the drama unfolding before him. Twitchy with his hand cannon, and Pennywise doing the villainous thing. He knows that look; The look of a man resigned.

"Say hello to Junior when you see him.. ya rat fink."

As though it were never there to begin with, Pengrave's skull is disintegrated in the blink of an eye, accompanied with the reverberating echo of the cannon and the subsequent moist explosion of brain matter that showers the gravel of sub-highway access road in a grim precipitation that brings Gretchen's compulsion for revenge to a messy end.

"… Come on, Twitchy. We gotta scram before the flatfoots get on our case."

States the borg into the dying echo of the Deputy's thunderous boom and flash. One gloved hand held out again, his features harder to read than Aztechnology's non-disclosure agreements.

Hanging tight in the driver's seat of the car, Two looks at the new arrival to the back seat. "Sup." A curt greeting is all he offers as he waits with constrained anxiety for the gunshot that's going to punctuate the evening. It arrives and he barely even fliches at the loud noise. He looks out the still open door to check on how the rest of the team is doing.

—and this is when reality begins to creep back in and Gretchen promptly darts back to the car. If there is a driver in the front, they're cowering or incapacitated, and she doesn't see the need for further collateral damage now that Pengrave has been incapacitated permanently.

With the impact of the explosive round, Pengraves body is thrown back into the dirt, throwing up dust trails as he lands. There's a few seconds of silence, only the echo of the hand cannon reverberating around the underpass, then from a distance there's the sound of a siren. No doubt, the 'shots fired' message has reached the local security forces. It's time to go.

As Val settles into the back seat, she gives a nod toward Two at his greeting. "I've had better days.", she replies, a glance given to the explosive shot outside the vehicle. It doesn't bother her either. Hearing the siren she adds, "I hope you know how to drive this thing.".

And it's back up the hill they go, Kraft keeping his hand atop the fedora as he powers the incline. Good thing about being mostly a tin man at this point; It takes a bit to get him tired, between the jacks hissing and the servos creaking. Kraft intending to take his hand cannon back at the first opportunity - piling into the back seat to let Twitchy take the front this time, the shocks humming as they take his weight. Hey, what do you want? He's not meat and bone anymore.

"Alright, Johnnie; Lay us some tracks."

"Kinda." Two responds to Val's question. He looks to the front passenger seat expectantly, waiting for the door to close so he can pull away. There's no burnout - just a smooth acceleration to a high speed, followed by some smooth turns to try and get the vehicle out of what is likely to be a search perimeter in the very near future.

A thankful pat is given to Kraft's leg as he sits next to Val, a nod of thanks, then she's leaning forward between the two seats so she can point Two in the direction of the on-ramp. "Take the I-70, take the I-225 before you reach the airport.", then she's leaning back into the seat again, adjusting her dress as it's far too revealing for her tastes. She's a mechanic, not a model.

Gretch throws herself into the shotgun seat and slams the door, buckling with one hand as she passes the revolver back to Kraft. With a serious look once she's settled, she offers the borg a genuine yet grim nod of appreciation as she repeats her brief line to Pengrave, but in a wholly different context now. "Danke…"

It's out of Kraft's hands now as he leans back as well, glancing over with a lifted eye at the pat on the leg. Something of a sad little smile before he's tugging that bent carton out; And frowns down at it. One cancer stick left. Jostled too and fro as he accepts the Deputy back, letting it dangle between his knees. Tucking the dogear behind his own while false eyes find their way looking out the window at the passing scenery.

".. Hey, Val. You remember anything at all from.. ?" He states, keeping his gaze firmly out the window to watch the gloom and grey of the Queen City pass by. Sirens or no.
Inside the westwind's cabin, the engine is a low growl that joins with the sound of tires on road. The young man driving stays quiet but seems happy to accept the directions he's given - 70 and then 225. He focuses on the road as the others talk.

In the meantime, Gretchen contemplatively pulls out her phone. There's a particular number in there that will never see use ever again, and she stares at it as though a flight from the cops isn't even taking place. Through any jostling of the vehicle, and oblivious to her surroundings she types in a message to Candy. « It's done. »

Looking out the window at the passing traffic, the steady beat of the overhead lights as the vehicle passes them by, Val seems to noticably relax; there's something about being in a vehicle that has always appealed to her. Hearing Kraft's question, she doesn't answer it immediately but ponders over it, tries her best to think over the past few days where she was a completely different person.

While she's thinking, her arm snakes around Krafts, exactly the same way it did when she were Cleo, she doesn't even seem aware that she's doing it. Eventually, still staring out of the window, she simply shakes her head and replies, "Not a single damn thing.".

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