Queen Euphoria Part 2

GM: TRISTA
Players: GRETCHEN, KRAFT, TWO LEFT EYES.
Synopsis: After taking Euphoria, the simstar, from her luxury condo in Pacific Towers, the team take her to the safehouse to keep her under wraps for the weekend. When she awakens, Euphoria is told she has a cortex bomb installed, a jackstopper only making that seem more real, so she freaks out for a while, but when she comes to understand what's really going on she relaxes and actually starts to enjoy the experience. The team may be killers, but they don't have her in their target, plus it helps that they didn't kill her bodyguard. In between spending time with the simstar, a bumbling fool arrives to deliver their first payment, Gretchen finds something is seriously wrong with the new stuffer, Amber Gel, and a ritual tracking is discovered before the apartment can be assaulted. Racing out of the apartment, they find their way past an investigating Lone Star squad car, then escape off into the country to hold Euphoria for the last few hours. When all is done, the simstar is released and payment is collected, and Gretchen even manages to be a little bit nice.
Date: April 20th 2078.


HOLDING EUPHORIA: FRIDAY

The night is quiet and still as the vehicles pass through the city streets, little more than a few late night drivers returning home from a club, a late trip to the Stuffer Shack, or those working the night shift. Neon-bright advertisement boards hawk their wares as the vehicles head close to the Warrens border to the Royal Meadows Apartments.

The security guard near the elevators sits on a chair, snoozing the night away, completely oblivious to the fact that a major simstar is passing him by. Upwards to apartment 812 and the door opens to the complete opposite of where you came from. One moment you're wandering the dizzy heights of a luxury lifestyle, albeit with a few bullets flying in your direction, the next you come crashing back down to an apartment with bugs, faulty faucets, dirty water and stale air. The insects scurry back into hiding as someone invades their premises.

"Smells like a trog's nursery in here."

Grumbles the old borg as he enters, likely having been given 'carry' duty again. At least he's not leaking anymore, thanks to Gretchen's work, although that cold, static 'wash' down his spine is still in place. It's hard to describe, with the pain editor active; Like you're no longer quite in sync with your own body. Guess you'd have to be a metal man to know.
Either way, with a grimace, Kraft tries to find somewhere to put the girl down. "Any of you think to bring a scarf to tie 'bout the dame's eyes?"

«OOC» Floorplan: https://www.mipui.net/app/index.html?mid=m4cd4lkodv1

Gretchen has her poncho slung over her shoulder like little more than a crimson towel, and upon entering she sets her luggage case on the counter in the kitchen and drops the poncho with it, as well as the stolen KE helmet. She rakes fingers through her hair after removing her breather and turns to Kraft as she lights up a cigarette with a chem-match, then waves out the little flame and drops the plastic stick in the sink.

She gestures toward the bedroom. "Spare clothes for her were already in there. Just cut a blindfold from something."

Following into the safe house, Two slams the stolen liquor bottles down on the kitchen counter. The magical mask he was wearing has faded and he's back to his usual self. "There's clothes hanging around here somewhere. Going to guess everyone wants a drink?" He's already pouring whiskey for the other two, making a dangerous assumption before they respond. Vodka goes into his glass, which he drinks in a smooth gulp. He unslings his deck from behind his back and leans it on the wall, happy to relax.

Gretchen gulps down a generous shot of whiskey with a shiver and a satisfied, "Aaaaahhh… Thank you, Two." She chases it with a drag of her smoke and pours another finger of whiskey which she now simply holds onto for small sips, or a cheers should one be proposed, but she doesn't seem to be in a very celebratory mood judging by her scowl. She certainly doesn't raise a glass in celebration of her own volition.

Kraft's movements are slow; Hesitant, almost, as he straightens up after tucking Euphoria into the bedroom. A grumbling moment later as he considers this particular pickle, before finally just undoing his tie; He'd have to check the hole anyways. This tied about the woman's eyes, although he has to be careful not to get it too tight.
His sense of touch is shot to crap right now, after all. And then it's time to shed the lined coat as he moves back to the living room, hanging it over the kitchen counter so he can see the silver dollar hole through his side. Tugging just a little at the bandage, his upper torso twisted so he can crane his neck.

"Well. Guess I don't have to worry about ventilation now." A sardonic smirk, the wound not seeming to bother him at all beyond seeming a bit drunk. Settling down onto the couch, man-spread, false hands resting on his thighs. "Damn. I liked this shirt too." A glance up at Two, before he holds out a hand. "Yeah, alright. Guess it's time for a lube up anyways. So - who wants the first damn watch?"

Having been awoken from sleep, Euphoria still wears her PJ's, real silk, soft pink bottoms and button-up top, barefoot, hair messy after being drenched by sprinklers; and yet, even unconscious from an intake of neurostun, she still manages to look beautiful. Carried helplessly, the woman doesn't make a sound, arms and legs flopping lazily around with the motion of movement.

The bedroom has two double beds squeezed together into one, the dresser and closet contain a variety of clothing for the woman, though nothing to the quality she's usually seen wearing. Thrown onto the bed, Euphoria bounces to a gentle stop, she even falls perfectly, like some puppeteer is constantly ensuring she looks good. It's just not fair.

"No problem." Two says as he passes one drink to Gretchen. Kraft receives his drink shortly afterwards. "Jesus…" The young man says, looking down to see the cyborg's damage. "That looks brutal. I'll take first watch, you look like you need a nap. And a welder."

"Yeah? You should've seen me when I got zipped up in this suit, pal. I didn't become the tin man for giggles."

Grouses the old borg, but tosses back the whiskey with only a faint grimace. ".. Drek. Damn editor's keeping the burn off. What the hell's the point of getting drunk if you don't suffer for it first?" Shaking his head warily, the old man looks back towards the bedroom, briefly clasping his hands about the shotglass.

".. Fragile as a damn flower. That one's trouble, mark my words, Spooky. Twitch, you alright over there? I think I might just take that nap."

The German mutters to herself in her native tongue, setting her cup down to begin inspecting the stolen helmet, still-gloved hands starting to dig at the comm hardware to see if she can extract it without tools. "Yeah, get some rest, Tin Man. I'll take first watch. I don't sleep much in the first place, and I certainly won't be able to pass out here without at least half of that bottle first." On that note, she takes a warming sip of her whiskey and emits yet another self-satisfied exhale as she feels the the welcome burn.

"Fair enough. Remind the skirt when she comes around that she doesn't -want- to see our faces. Especially if she wants to get back home after the weekend. That should keep the blindfold on, if she's got a brain between those pretty ears."

States Kraft, blocking a yawn with his fist. "Oh. Right pocket, bottom rear of my jacket's a scanner. Might just turn that on and let it roll, savvy? It'll let you know if anyone's stupid enough to come wandering. Right side, bottom rear. Don't go to the bottom front, you might lose a finger."
Another grin, before Kraft finds someplace comfortable to lean his head back. Then turns off the pain editor; The old borg's body suddenly shaking and jerking like a minor seizure before it goes still. False eyes droop but don't quite close, yellow irises dimming and dying.

Diving head first into unconsciousness like a man leaping into cold water.

"Yeah, not a lot of people do it on purpose." Two's expression darkens a little after the cyborg reminds him of the past. He scuffs his foot on the floor and starts collecting empty shot glasses. Leaving them refilled and on the kitchen counter, the young man finds Kraft's scanner and sets it active.

The apartment isn't the safest place in the sprawl to hold a simstar; it's cramped, there are few areas you can use as cover should an assault happen, and the one door into the room would likely shatter if a troll gave it a good kick. The maglock isn't much better, for those less dramatic.

Judging by Euphoria's responses, her sleepy muttering and her lifeless state, there's a good nights sleep to be had before she decides to make an appearance.

The scanner reveals nothing but static, even the security downstairs doesn't have an active comm channel; a shout across the hallways is the managers way of communicating with him. At least there's the trid, no doubt there's something worth watching on at this time of night. Late night wrestling, urban brawl reruns, music channels, news channels.

Time ticks by as Gretchen distracts herself with little projects like the stolen helmet, stealthily checking Kraft's wounds for fear of waking him, perching up on the dresser in the bedroom to observe Euphoria, frowning, with whiskey in hand, and setting up a little 'security station' in the kitchen where she places her little pump shotgun. She hangs its shoulder strap from an old nail in the wall and allows it to hang there, though she keeps her derringer on her, still tucked up her sleeve.

Settling in for the long haul, Two disappears into the bathroom. While Kraft sleeps and Gretchen sets up security, he applies himself to getting things pristine. No sense in not having a clean bathroom. He stares at himself in the mirror and wrinkles his nose in thought. Is that age or is this mirror just awful? He resumes scrubbing.

Gretchen slips over to the bathroom door after a while and listens in, hearing lots of scrubbing going on… "The fuck are you -doing-? Hurry up, I need to piss." She smacks the door with the side of a balled fist.

"Like you'd want to piss in a shithole like thi.." Two doesn't stop his cleaning, shouting back through the door until he realises the absurdity of his statement. He opens the bathroom door and walks out. "Yeah, fine. You'll thank me later."

Click.

Click click. Flicker. VRRrrrrrr…

Three hours gone by, and fake eyes finally begin to stirr, lights coming live like the buzzing neon signs of some rain soaked and troubled bar. Kraft's hands lifting next, drawn slowly down his face. ".. Stick me sideways, feels like a damn ficker's crapped in my mouth." Groans the old man, before shuffling himself into something approaching a sit up. Glancing to the bathroom as the two argue over cleaning vs pissing, before quietly shoving himself up to gather up his coat. Although he does take a moment to pull that bandage back from the shattered metal and plastic hole in his guts to mutter.

"Well, now I know where to stash my lucky coin. The hell are you two arguing about anyways?" Focus, now. Left arm into coat, roll to swing, catch and slide the right arm in. It's harder when you're tilting like three sheets to the wind, and you can't keep the shakes out of your wrist. The old man already hunting down his mythical pack of smokes..

"How's sleeping beauty anyways?"

Gretchen takes over the restroom for a quick moment, then steps out after an audible flush and the rush of water in the sink. She makes a sarcastic flourish with her hands to offer the filthy facilities back to 2Josh. "…it's aaaaaall yours…"

To Kraft she squints her black-ringed eyes, having slid her glasses up to the top of her head quite some time ago. "She's fine, still out like a light. I restrained her, so if she wakes up and tries to bolt, we'll hear her fall."

The hours tick by, eight a.m. and the city is starting to rise, voices heard passing the room as people leave their own apartments to go about their daily business. Inside the bedroom there's a feminine pained whine, a sharp intake of breath in surprise, then the squeaking of old mattress springs followed by a thud and a soft, "Ow.", a little more shuffling and silence.

The old borg grumbles, catching a not-quite-beat up cig tube between lips as he looks between the two. Then turns his head towards the room, patting down his pockets for the lighter he stole from T.H. all those days ago. Flick, flick. Flame. Draw slowly, cough at the sting in the guts.

But he doesn't argue the point, settling himself back on the couch to rest. At least, until the thud. A glance up at the others. "Alright, bubs. Who wants to do introductions for the misses?"

Two Left Eyes stares into the bathroom with a slightly distressed expression. He can't go in there so soon after Gretchen's defiled it! Time passes and eventually those thoughts leave his head. Josh does indeed clean the bathroom to his standards, then spends an extended time doing god knows what in there. When their honoured guest awakens, he steps out of the bathroom with a tired expression. "Well. We have to be nice to her, so I guess all of us?"

Gretchen frowns and folds her arms, the leather of her jacket softly whispering. Not wanting to volunteer her accent to the captive, she looks between the two men then lets her arms fall, and steps to the bedroom door and orders Euphoria in a quiet voice to, "Turn away from the door — I'm not going to harm you if you play by the rules."

There's no response from inside, though there is a slight shuffling before silence returns.

The last couple of hours before the fall were quiet, at least. Kraft's still got a throbbing headache - that may just be the company - but his hand's gone steady and the whiskey's burning again. That's always a plus. Settling himself forward and leaning on his thighs, the old borg quiely draws his Deputy and turns the chamber. Watching for any empties. Click-click-click-click-click-click-CLANK.
Otherwise, with a grim and thin lipped expression, he watches their female handle the other female.

Two Left Eyes looks between the other two runners. He picks his suit jacket up and slips it on, then straightens it up. Why is he trying to look presentable for a kidnapping victim? Self-doubt and introspection scramble across Two's forebrain. He takes up a spot beside Gretchen, waiting for the door to be opened.

Gretchen steps to her belongings in the 'security station' she's made in the kitchen, which is really just a scattering of her belongings, and she quickly seals her self-adhering breather back over nose and mouth, then lowers her shades before returning to the bedroom door. She listens for a quick second, then cracks the door. "Stay still. I'll cut your bonds. There are clothes and water for you…" She enters, snapping out the blade of her jackknife.

Inside the bedroom, Euphoria has managed to slip her blindfold up just enough to be able to see through one eye. Instead of trying to make a break for one of the doors, she's instead wriggled off the bed and nudged herself into the corner of the room. Having been instructed to do so, the woman has turned away from the doors and has her head lowered, long wavy brown hair keeping most of her features hidden.

Hearing the snap of a knife blade, she visibly cringes, curls tighter into herself, turns away from whoever is approaching. "Don't kill me..", she whimpers pitifully.

Gretchen murmurs quietly to Euphoria, stepping slowly and deliberately to her and announcing her every action, though her voice is distorted by the mask's vents. The zip ties are cut carefully, and Gretchen continues to speak quietly, directing Euphoria not to look at her, but directs her to the water and the packs of food she placed here, on the dresser. "…feel free to dress but understand that you've had a cortex bomb implanted while you were asleep. Don't fuck around…"

"If you leave this room without my direct authorization…" Gretchen leaves the rest unspoken as she pockets her blade.

There's a moment where Gretchen reaches through, plucks Euphoria from her darkest thoughts of death at the hands of kidnappers - or worse. The woman even raises her head, peers through the strands of wavy brown to look at her, until instructed to look away. That's fine.

Then the darkness comes crashing back down with a vengeance at the thought of a bomb being inside her head; she can't reach it, she can't get at it, can't stop it, is helpless, can be blown to pieces at any moment. Her breathing comes quicker, the woman goes into a state of panic, almost on the verge of hyperventilating, hands grasping at her head as if she might be able to find an on/off switch.

Fake hands reach up to pinch the bridge of his nose, as Kraft pushes himself off the couch. Glancing towards Spooky with a 'did you hear that' glance of disbelief. Still gripping the bridge of his nose as if he could pinch off a headache like you pinch off a nosebleed, he'll lean against the door frame to watch Twitchy work. Fake eyes roving up towards the white haired bomb maker. «THAT's our story?» He asks, in emotiveless text-to-comm transduced flavor. Before sighing heavily and speaking up.

"Keep it together, sister, you're doing fine. You're not gonna die, or get hurt, or anything. Hell, you'll probably be wishing for something to happen once the boredom sits in. Get past the weekend, that thing'll be out in a blink, and you'll be on with life. Savvy?"

Two Left Eyes shares a glance with Kraft, the sentiment echoed before the radio transmission even reaches him. He shifts his weight from foot to foot nervously, hanging back as the other two members of the team try to talk to the abducted woman.

What is this? Good cop, bad cop? Having to pick a side, Euphoria decides Gretchen is the most convincing, especially when she finds something capping her datajack. Her fingers swiftly pull away, as if she might trigger it; that's all the evidence she needs to realise that there's actually something really bad happening, she does start to completely freak out, then.. it's back to sleep.

Euphoria, the rich simstar with bodyguards and a luxury lifestyle, slumps onto the dirty floor of a low lifestyle apartment, a bomb in her head and bugs scurrying away from her collapsing body, while her captors look on.

".. Well.."

Kraft pauses, at a loss for words for once. Glancing between Twitch and Spook before he finally shrugs. "Guess that'll settle that. I'll go pop an eye out in the hallway, if you two want to get her off the stains before she smells worse than a trog in summer."

Two Left Eyes glances to Gretchen. Sighing, he heads into the room to lift the poor unconscious lady back up to the bed. "She'll be back in a few minutes. Right? I didn't think people actually fainted like that." He comments, grunting as he hauls her onto the old mattress.

Having succumbed to fainting spells of her own in the past, Gretchen firmly refuses to comment on the matter to Two, but after she assists him in getting the diva back onto the bed, she rasps through her mask, "… it used to be due to corsets being tied too tight. Blood flow issues… But it still happens for other reasons…" Her mask and glasses conceal a concerned expression as she checks the other woman's vital signs and double checks the jackstopper to make sure it's seated snugly. She sighs then and begins to make her way out of the room, hoping she didn't damn the job with her lie. Having been kidnapped is psychological torture enough to last a lifetime, after all.

An excess intake of oxygen from hyperventilating, the fear of imminent death inside the skull, captured and held inside a dirty bedroom for who knows what reason, no escape, no way out; Euphoria's mind was trying to cope with it all and simply decided to give up, a panic attack ending in a few moments of sleep.

Long lashes flutter, part, reveal lovely brown eyes that look around to find it wasn't all some messed up dream. Rolling onto her side on the bed, Euphoria curls up into a little ball and lays there silently, her mind trying to make sense of it all.

Two Left Eyes breathes heavily. All the excitement is catching up to him too. After glancing at Euphoria, he says to the exiting Gretchen, "I'll chill out here for a bit and watch for when she wakes up." The young man makes the best of the moment. He takes his jacket off and lays back on the bed a respectful distance from the simstar, then yawns slowly. How long has he been awake? It's beginning to add up.

Gretchen steps away to lean against the wall, crossing her arms and ankles, chewing her lip behind her mask. After a moment's thought she speaks, low voice hissing out, "Your bodyguards were unharmed. They'll certainly be looking for you, and you'll be free to return to them in three days' time. We have no intent to harm you, we're not going to blackmail you, nothing like that. The cortex bomb will be removed once your three days are up. Just don't tamper with it. Until then-" and at that she gestures to the closet and the food and water even though Euphoria is facing away. "-I suggest you refrain from causing any trouble." She turns then and retreats to the living room to collapse on the couch, head in her hands, vexed by the scenario, clearly.

Gretchen turns on the trid…

With Two sharing the same bed with the simstar, Euphoria shifts from her position, shuffles upwards and away from him until she can sit with her back against the wall, thighs pressed to her chest, arms around her legs. Still wobbly from the neurostun and the recent fainting, she rests her head on her knees, half closes her eyes and tries to stop the world from spinning.

The trid currently has nothing about Euphoria's disappearance, though it does mention her upcoming appearances at various hotspots around the Denver area, the first which is later today. The fans might be disappointed about that.

Gretchen wasn't expecting to see anything about the disappearance quite yet (hoping not to, anyway, but news travels fast). She frustratedly flips through channels in the hopes of finding a distraction from the situation. Empathy is a real bitch sometimes.

Chances for Two to catch a nap seem slim. He thought she'd take a while to awaken. There's a period of awkward silence as she huddles on the bed and he wonders if he should be saying something. What's the thing you say to a kidnapping victim? Is it much too late to wonder about being friends with someone after you kidnap them? He yawns and listens to the trid from the other room, thinking the situation over.

"… Lazy bum."

Mutters the old borg to himself; He'd had time to shake off a gut shot and a lung full of neurostun, and this gook couldn't be bothered to make his rounds? There was some professional outrage here, a mild chaff in the chasis, but at least it let Kraft get that thin and slim micro-camcorder set up. Plugging the vidlink in, and checking his pocsec to catch the tiny recording as it transmitted half the entrance from a blind corner.
Better than being caught unawares.

And then its back to the room proper, to catch wind of a moody Twitch and the silent Spooky. Not to mention the faint whimper.
".. It's five pee em somewhere." He grouses, finally moving for the door proper. "Spooky, that dame had anything to eat yet?" Yes, he's talking outloud. Yes, he's doing it on purpose.

The simstar remains silent and still, her heavy eyelids close the rest of the way, the woman slowing her breathing as if trying to meditate her way into calm. There she stays, her wavy brown hair still a little messy, her silk PJ's showing scuffs of dirt from the time spent on the floor.

The trid moves from channel to channel; cartoons, morning programs, chat shows, the general tedium that keep the wageslaves happy.

Gretchen mutes the trid and leaves it on News62 to perhaps catch any newsflash banners should they pop up, and digs out a length of red yarn from a pocket to begin a single-player game of cat's cradle, interweaving the tied loop between her fingers in an ever-changing pattern.

"Not yet." Two calls back to Kraft, stifling another yawn afterwards. "She's just sitting there." The young man develops a thoughtful expression as he glances at the slightly disheveled star. What would he do in a situation like this? Freaking out doesn't seem all that unwarranted. She hasn't tried to escape yet, which is a little worrying. Does that mean she's got some kind of rescue plan already?

Gretchen fumbles a particularly awkward shift from one pattern to another in her little yarn game and growls, frustrated, rising from the couch to storm over to the kitchen where she rummages through her luggage case which is now stashed in a lower cupboard. A few items go into the pockets of her leather jacket and she begins to make her way out of the apartment now that Kraft is back. She whispers to him in passing as she pulls up the grey and white splotched hood that sticks out of the collar of her jacket. "Will you get him the -fuck- off of the bed?!" That's all she says until the door is just about closed behind her, but she turns back and offers, "My comm is open if you need me. I'm just going around the block." Her tone is tired and exasperated, and she finds the perfect balance between slamming the apartment door and closing it quiet enough not to rouse suspicion from the hallway neighbors.

The old borg slips past Gretchen while she heads out. Although he does flip the pocsec around, letting her see the camera. See? That part's covered. And then leaving it next to the television, screen out, while he moves into the bedroom proper. Dame on the bed, PJs and disheveled. Spooky being another lazy bums. What is it about stake outs and being lazy bums?

"Alright, Spooks. See what you can throw together that tastes better than a damn trog's foot, savvy? And you.." False eyes towards Euphoria, the old man shifting his jaw a moment. ".. Get the hell up and get dressed, would you? You're not gonna -die-, you're just gonna be bored. The damn.. -bomb- is to keep your birdman away. Yeah, he's alive, so is his damn mage. So's every damn person in that damn joint, even though your boy poked a hole in my guts. So wake the hell up before you stop breathing and cost me nuyen, savvy?"

It's not exactly comforting, but who said the old borg could be? Some people needed the hat, some people needed the boot.

"What else am I supposed to do?", Euphoria asks of Two at his comment about 'sitting there'. "You put a bomb in my head. A /bomb/.". Lifting her head from her knees, her soft brown eyes open up to look straight at him, but she doesn't say anything, her feelings conveyed by look alone; fear, disbelief, sadness.

Hearing Kraft, the woman shakes her head, lays it back down upon her knees. "If that's all you want, then you don't need me up and dressed. I'm fine here.".

"I was kind of expecting an escape attempt?" Two sits up with a tired grunt when Euphoria finally talks. "Some kind of desperate move. Not sitting there like it's the end of the world. It's three days in a shitty apartment with three weirdos. This is about as good a kidnapping as anyone could ask for." He sighs as he stands up and grabs his jacket. "Anyway. You hungry?"

«Mind grabbing something a bit stouter than the piece of paper we've got as a door right now? Hell, even a couple of screws and a bit of plastiboard'll do.»

Comes Kraft's comm for Gretchen as she heads out. The old borg moving out of the room to settle back on the couch, taking over Trideo Commando. Minding the news and the pocsec with the tiny screen of the front, arms crossed in front of him.

"Might as well fry something, Spooky, if you're in the mood to cook. The kid'll come around when she realizes when her last meal was."

It was disturbing and depressing; An assassination would have almost been easier. You don't have to deal with the fallout after, you just leave a pretty looking body behind. But this? Watching some young girl collapse in? That's just painful. Still, thinking hard on it, the old man has to admit the bomb bit was a good idea. There wasn't anything about this situation that was going to wind up 'normal'.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « Definitely, I'll see what I can come up with. »

Looking up at Two, Euphoria points a finger toward her head, "Bomb. Where do I run?", a shake of her head in sad frustration. Moving off the bed when Two has moved, she returns to the corner of the bedroom, curls herself up again with thighs to chest; she seems to feel a bit more secure with solid wall behind her back.

The question of food is given a shake of her head, the woman almost allowing him to the door before she speaks again. "You're going to kill me, aren't you? After the three days? Do you need me to speak to someone before you do it? Is that it?", Two suddenly getting a barrage of questions out of the woman, "Why a bomb? You have guns, you might have magic, and knives and..", her mind going over possibilities, "A bomb, it's a big thing, it's.. it's what you put in someone when you want them /gone/ gone. You don't just put them in people to scare them, right? You don't just put them in and pull them out like a simchip.". Her words keep falling, trying to make some sense of the situation, perhaps find answers, all her inner thoughts becoming outer ones.

Gretchen indulges in a bit of zen while away from the apartment, a little something to help ease frazzled nerves since drinking the amount of whiskey she'd like to wouldn't exactly be appropriate. With her hood up and shoulders slouched, she patrols the area in an expanding spiral to get the lay of the land and keep her mind on things like a door reinforcement project rather than dwell on Euphoria's unfortunate state.

Two Left Eyes listens to Euphoria's blast of questions. The ice has broken, at least. "Yeah, one minute." He calls out to Kraft, then responds to the frightened lady. "Well, you can't run. That's the bad part. It's… well, look. Killing you is the last thing we want to do. We just need you here for three days - out of the way, no cameras, no attention. By next week this'll be an entry on your matrix site and your pr crew will have spun it into something great for your career."

"You haven't been out on the skids for a while, have you, round heel?"
Grouses the old borg from the living room, turning his head, working himself up in order to bite down on pity. "It's right in the datajack, like Twitchy said. Now, personally? I don't much care for the micro-poppers. But Twitch has got a fondness for them, so don't screw around with her work. In and out with the proper tools, easy as pulling lead out. Speaking of which, you want your boyfriend's calibre? I think it's still rattling around my damn belly button." He leans his head back, thinking on how to do this. Get her attached to the Spooky kid? That'd be a hell of alot easier on him and Twitchy.
"Best damn thing about a bomb is I don't even have to be in the same damn room. So sit tight and you'll be back to sucking down hoity toities before Tuesday morning. If I wanted you dead I would've set fire to the top floor and blocked off the damn elevator. Or used something heavier than rebounds and blue gas on 'Osprey the Wonder kid'. Savvy?"

MORNING NEWS

The trid comes alive with a news flash, a beautiful blond haired blue eyed presenter in a corporate suit explaining, "Amanda Lockhart, otherwise known as the simsense star Euphoria, disappeared from her penthouse home last night. Her disappearance comes shortly before Euphoria was scheduled to make several weekend appearances around the Denver area. A spokesman for Lone Star tells us an investigation is underway. The only official information at this point is that the star was definitely kidnapped, but no suspects were mentioned.

"Vincent Burroughs, a Strice Foods spokesman, blames rival corporations for the star's disappearance. Euphoria's scheduled weekend appearances were to be promotions for Strice Foods' new Amber Gel product. In an interview Burroughs stated that rival companies "were jealous of the success of our new product. They had to prevent Euphoria's promotions and kidnapping Euphoria is the kind of underhanded techniques you can expect from our competitors.".

Overhearing the news report, Euphoria speaks up again, tilting her head to the side to try and get a look in at the trid through the open door. "Is it something to do with that?", she asks.

The news report continues: "Lone Star would not confirm or deny the possibility that a corporate extraction team was responsible for the kidnapping. One Lone Star source did admit that evidence on the scene suggests that the kidnapping did not appear to have been a professsional job. He cited that 'the type of weapons apparently used and the sloppiness of execution suggests the likelihood that a fan cult gang was responsible rather than a team of professionals'.".

"That's not our job. We're the kidnappers." The young man steps aside as the captive tries to peek at the trid. Hearing the report, he looks like his ego is wounded. "Fan cult? Oh come on." Forgetting the situation for a moment, he looks to Euphoria. "You were there. On a scale of crazy fans to professional, where would you rank that?"

"You want to watch the trid, get dressed first. I'm not spending all day avoiding your neck line because you can't be bothered to get decent."

Grumbles the old borg as he leans forward, watching the news. Then lets his lips drift sideways as he eyes Spooky.
"Hey. Payday, not play date. She's not your pal, mac." Yeah, he's really rolling that bad cop thing. Settling back again as he keeps flipping the channel. "Don't know, don't care, sweetheart. Job was to keep you here for three days then turn you loose like a damn gazelle to the wild. Up to you how quickly those three days go."

".. Wait, where the hell did the blindfold go? Dammit, Spooky."

Lowering her head just enough to give her eyes 'that' angle, Euphoria gives Two a look that screams, 'Really?!'. Looking away, she considers her options, listens in to Kraft's comment, then pushes herself to her feet. "Well..", she starts, fingers playing with the button on her PJ's top, ".. if you're being honest and you're not going to kill me then..", a sudden change of heart, an almost cheerful shrug of her shoulders, tinged with previous sadness and still a little despair, ".. that's great. I /hate/ public appearances.".

Raising a hand, Euphoria pushes some of her wavy brown hair behind an ear, "Do you have any of that Amber Gel?", she asks, going back to the food question. "That would be good for breakfast.". Her voice is soft, meek, she doesn't want to push her position but if this is what she thinks it is, it could turn out to be an okay weekend.

Two relaxes now that their unwilling guest has lightened up. It might be too early to be happy, but being tired makes him more willing to accept things at face value. "Works for me. Let's go see what's in the fridge, there was a bunch of pre-wrapped stuff ready for us." The young man heads for the kitchen and finally gets to Kraft's request - let's see what can be fried. Or at least reheated.

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Round heels is finally up again; And not thinking about cutting her wrists anymore. The kid's asking for 'Amber Gel' too - we ever figure out what that crap was? »

There's no getting out of it, not with a brain popper in her datajack, so she might as well see what she can make out of this situation. Euphoria clambers over the beds that have been pushed together, stands up on the other side near the closet. "I should change..", she tells Two as he wanders off to the kitchen, a glance at Kraft as he's the one demanding it. Looking through the closet, her nose wrinkles up at the sight of some of the choices on offer, deciding to settle on something simple to rest up in the apartment with.

"Can I use the bathroom?", she asks, her voice still soft and nervous, but she's a lot better than she was. Her choice of clothing rests over an arm and she turns to look into the main apartment, through the open door, awaiting confirmation that she's allowed.

A vague wave of the gloved hand. "Sure, kid, knock yourself out. There's only one door in this rat trap anyways." Grumbles old man Kraft, sounding - well - like an old man. Tired and worn out, but part of that's probably the migraine and the stinging hole in his gut that's still sending red alerts shooting up his spinal cord like lightning. He shifts with a grimace, glancing back again.
"Close the door too, will ya?"

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « You might ask Two. I'm not entirely sure, myself. I'll call Juan's number and see if there's a 'no Amber Gel' clause in the contract though… It seems a little conspicuous that they wouldn't have provided the guest of honor's favorite stuffer. » With that, Gretchen continues skulking down the street in search of a hardware store, or any particularly shady characters who seem inclined to hunt bounties. « Oh, and if she asks to use the restroom… Pretend to press a button on something to extend her boundary… Ham it up. »

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Damn. Missed that part, sister, sorry. I'm no actor. Still, there's only one damn door and I got my ears open. She's not going anywhere fast. »

With the old cyborg doing all the directing, Two is free to rummage through the kitchen. « No Amber Gel in the kitchen. I had some earlier. It's crazily tasty and I'm not made of tumours yet. So I guess it's better than half the other foods you can get at StufferShack. I still don't trust it. Their matrix host is ghosted. » He emerges from the fridge with four pre-prepared meals and gets to work on heating them up.

With a nod, Euphoria pushes the door closed then opens the other inside the bedroom, leading into the bathroom. Kraft can hear her inside, she turns on the shower and lets it run, but other than that she does nothing for a good few minutes. Perhaps testing to see if anyone was going to peep, she finally gives in and there's the shifting of clothing through the cyberears, then she steps into the shower.

Making it a quick clean up, nervous of being naked around a group of unknown kidnappers, she scrubs herself dry and starts dressing in the new change of clothes.

Outside, a hardware store can be found a block over, there's actually a row of small stores offering various items from clothing in one, various foodstuffs in another, a hairdresser, a chinese take-away and the hardware store.

Juan takes Gretchen's call, he's heard about the successful kidnapping and the first payment should be arriving very soon. He doesn't seem to care less about Amber Gel, but then he's just the hired muscle, he's more interested in seeing Euphoria is kept happy and well.

Gretchen looks sour and puzzled as she talks to Juan, holding her phone up under the overhang of her camouflage hood. She walks briskly, and hangs up dissatisfied with the lack of info on the gel, but the little stretch of stores distracts her from more serious matters quite perfectly.

« I'm going to be out for like… an hour… I'll be back with some supplies. Found a hardware store… » She give the intersection to her teammates, craning her neck to read an acid rain-scouring street sign, then heads into the first shop of the lot to begin browsing. It's early enough in the day that there aren't too many people about, so she lowers her guard enough to pull her mask from her face, revealing her black-lipped frown once she begins her spree, though she keeps her glasses on and hood up the whole time.

Two Left Eyes does his best with the food. Reheating already edible things is his specialty, but it's not particularly glamorous. « Seems pretty quiet around here. » The food steams on the plates - rubbery eggs and dry breakfast sausage, accompanied by a fairly depressing amount of hash browns. He passes one plate and a fork over to Kraft, then takes a seat at the counter to eat his.

".. I'll put a call out about the amber gel, kid, but no promises. Stuff's harder to get a hold of than a trog that owes you money."

Grouses the old borg, head tilted as he listens. Honestly, that's a bit dirty, but at least he's not using his peepers. Still feels slimey, but he's an investigator; He'll have to get used to seeing (or hearing) people at their most vulnerable. He glances down at the plate that Two hands him in surprise, lips thinning briefly.

"Eh? Oh.. thanks, mac, but.. uh.. my hardware's not compatible. No offense, it smells.." A pause. ".. well. It smells. We'll let the kid gnaw on it."

Best to just keep calling her 'the kid'. Focus on how young and vulnerable she is, not that she's a porn star made good and he's listening to her scrub down just a few feet away.

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « When you get done, sister, I'll need to turn my ankles a few times as well. It gets crowded in here, and I don't mean elbow room. »

Two Left Eyes looks a little exasperated, but the expression passes as he realises this means more for him. Even this is a step up from what he'd been eating last month. "All that talk of me making breakfast and then you can't eat it?" The younger man laughs as he takes Kraft's plate back and scrapes half of it onto his own. « This isn't bad. There's no drum here. After a while we'll be like one big family. » He glances towards the door of the bathroom before digging in to the food.

Taking a moment out to brush her wavy brown hair, Euphoria finally leaves the bathroom and back to the bedroom, picks out something to put on her feet to keep the bugs and grime away, then heads for the living area of the apartment. The woman has dressed down for the occasion, trying to fit in perhaps, wearing a black t-shirt with an image on the front of a male face in deep shadow, a word above, 'Jet Black', a famous but now dead singer; tight black jeans and running shoes complete her new appearance.

Not really knowing what to say, she steps into the room and just hovers, not sure what to do with herself. "So..", she decides on, but doesn't know what more to say. The smell of food, however, causes an internal grumble and she simply makes herself at home, crossing to the counter so she can stab a hash brown and nibble it for herself. "Not bad!", she says to Two, happy to get some food inside her at last.

Over the course of her proposed hour (and then some), Gretch passes from store to store on this little stretch of rundown urban backstreet, exiting one to enter the next in sequence, each time with another bag of loot. Stopping into the Chinese restaurant results in a very angry-sounding English-as-a-second-language argument from multiple parties that can be heard from the street, but she leaves the Iron Wok with yet another bag in hand.

The hardware store is the final stop on this journey, and upon exiting, she has a plastic-wrapped bundle over her shoulder - a collection of items all about a meter long enclosed in a blue tarp, and this bundle appears to have some decent heft to it.

« On my way back. » She checks in, comm earpiece still worn throughout her trip. She sets her items down at a public transit stop to replace her mask, then begins lugging everything back. « Everything hunky dory? »

PAYDAY

Through Kraft's little trid screen, a curious individual enters the building, looking this way and that as if he's on some supersecret clandestine adventure. A long overcoat, a hat that's a bit too large and floppy, he stops at the sight of the security guard who has decided to wake up at last. Trying his best to look like he's supposed to be there, but creating the opposite effect, he steps past the security guard who almost growls at him, before finding his way into the elevator.

Over in the kitchen, Two is working his way through his plate. He smiles at Euphoria when she comments on the food and starts to nibble at it. "Thanks! I was pleasantly surprised. If we can get the other two to lighten up a bit, this should be a pretty tolerable few days." He tries to make light conversation over the meal, cleaning his plate at a respectable pace.

The individual in the oversized hat rides the elevator to the eighth floor and heads for room eight-one-two. A knock, a double knock, double knock, single knock. Is he knocking in code? Hearing the tap at the door, however, Euphoria looks over, looks back to Two, back to the door. A surprised little squeak and she starts moving quickly back to the bedroom, which is strange in itself, she's not even trying to search for help from outsiders.

The woman gets little more than three feet, however, before she spins again and grabs up her plate of food, "Hungry!", she whispers, then she's off and into the bedroom, closing the door quietly behind her.

Commlink-2> Two Left Eyes sends, « We expecting a visitor? »

Blissfully ignorant, Gretchen continues on her way, still scouting alleys and dumpsters from the sidewalk for potential goodies even though her hands are overfull with a clump of crinkling plastic bags and the bundle over her shoulder. She hums a little song to herself, murmuring the chorus through her mask, ~And when de place get crowded den dey freak out and dey play de techno loooouderrrr~

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « Tranqs in the cabinet! » Gretchen hisses and picks up her pace reflexively, bootheels clomping and plastic bags rustling as she begins to jog, panicked. She tries to direct Two and Kraft to her store of sleepy time goodies in the luggage case below where she hung her little shorty shotgun from its strap upon a nail found in the cracked drywall. « Dart pistol and patches! »

"I said -you- need to eat. And unless you've got something pureed, high in protein and saltier than a ficker on a losing streak, it'll grind my damn gears." Grumbles the old borg to Two, leaning back in the seat and tilting his fedora down a bit. Guess that explains part of why he's always so damn grouchy. False eyes swing aside as Euphoria joins - but he neither invites nor declines the young woman's hunger. Eyes drifting aside as the two eat, idly dragging that beaten carton of smokes out. No food - just cancer.

And then he pauses, blinking at the screen. Lips turn to a hard frown, picking up that heavy deputy and rolling it along his wrist in simple habit; Clinka-clinka-click.

"Company." He states simply, as Euphoria moves to the back. A lifted eyebrow, and a shrug. "Just keep your head down, sister, and munch Spooky's eats. Might be the delivery boy." A pause as Gretchen's comm, before he holsters the heavy deputy - and nabs the tranq pistol instead. It's lighter than he's used too, forcing him to bounce it a few times to get his wrist on the feel for it.

"Yeah? I'm busy with my soaps, whatta want?" He calls through the door, as he stands off to the side of it.

Outside the apartment, the man in the oversized hat looks around, a wide sweep of the area, either paranoid or over-enthusiastic. "I'm here about the plumbing!", he says a little too loudly. Nobody is watching, great, he leans against the door, hat falling off as he forgets it's there. "I was sent by a..", hold there, dramatic pause for effect, "Mister Johnson.".

Another quick look around, then he's crouching to gather up his oversize hat, placing it back on his head, going undercover once again.

Two Left Eyes misses the clearly disguised person at the entrance. He had his back to the trid while eating in the kitchen and keeping his eyes on Euphoria. At the knock, he's just as startled as she is. As she heads to the bedroom, he turns to Kraft and mutters that quick message over the comm. He takes cover beside the counter, gathering focus to expend on a spell should he need to.

"Great. Think you can wear a neon sign next time, mac? Maybe use an air horn? Hell, I don't know, I've heard tap shoes are all the rage with kids these days."

Growls Kraft, before his hand drifts down. Checking Two and the Maiden Impure one last time before he'll let the door drift open just a crack. His foot planted to keep it from going further than that. Oversized coat, hat, and jittery as a damn trog on a golf course. Damn youth.

"Alright, brother, let's get a look at your palms. Nice and easy, savvy?" He murmurs, voice lower now that it's exposed to the hall. His own false eyes drifting just a little, while that tranq gun remains hidden behind the wall. Just in case he has to slam that door closed and find something solid(er) to hide behind.

Looking completely lost as to the reason behind having to show his palms, the man in the overcoat holds them out for Kraft to see. "My name is Vernon Gruder, I have a..", another dramatic pause, a quick sweep of the area, ensuring nobody is listening in, ".. delivery.". Not quite so dramatic on the delivery, but Vernon seems to think he's doing it all right.

Lowering his hands back down, he shifts uncomfortably from foot to foot. "Are you going to let me in?", he asks, "There could be anyone out here.".

For her role in all this confusion, Gretchen simply slips into a vidphone booth with a line of sight toward the tenement building's main entrance, drops her burdens in a pile and pulls her camouflage hood down urgently. One gloved hand lifts the receiver of the public telecom unit and she presses a shoulder against the interior wall of the graffiti-decorated plexiglass box in such a way as to hide most of herself, but she flicks through vision settings on her shades as she peers out through the letter 'o' which belongs to a tag that reads, 'Dungeon Masters Rule!'

"Yeah. For example - -I'm- out here."

Growls the old borg, opening the door wide enough for at least half of his tin-can self to step through. Blood stained shirt and all, and just a hint of the tranq-guns' barrel sitting nice and pretty in a grip by his hip. "So cut the chit-chat, bub, and make your - " And now he even mocks the dramatic pause, because no one does bitter like a noir cyborg.
"Delivery." Out goes the hand, palm up. The Bouncer of Casa Euphoria, at your service.

Two Left Eyes doesn't relax. He stays crouched at the kitchen counter, staring at the door. He mumbles, "The frag kind of delivery we expecting?" and clenches his teeth. He thought waiting downstairs at the hotel was nerve wracking. Crouching and hiding for days is turning out to be even worse. No wonder the cyborg's grumpy all the time.

Vernon, the delivery guy, panics as Kraft goes from man at the door to full on Terminator. "Yeah, yeah!", he replies, hands going so quickly to his pockets to pull out the credsticks that one goes flying out of his grasp and clatters to the ground. "Fuck fuck fuck..", he mutters, crouching to quickly gather it up, leaving Kraft staring at a bumbling panicking fool.

"Got it, got it..", he says when he grabs the dropped credstick, standing upright to place all three credsticks into the borgs open hand. His oversized hat has fallen sideways on his head during the panic, set at an uncomfortable angle, but he's not worried about that, he's more worried about the cyber-killer in front of him.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « —the hell is going on?! » Gretchen whispers through her breather into the phone handset, dead dialtone whining into one ear while her comm channel feeds into the other. « Payday or no?! »

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Looks like payday, sister, but they sent someone greener than a damn dwarf turd. »

Gretchen makes a puzzled expression and skritches at the back of her head through her urban camo patterned hood, musing to herself, but it carries over the live channel. « Really? Knife-ears maybe… » She -is- a little stoned…

False fingers close slowly about the credsticks, fake eyes with yellow glowing irises glancing down at them. «Fair point, sister.» Of course, the silent twitch of his jaw doesn't reveal the conversation, before all three sticks disappear into a pocket. And then the borged up murder machine steps out of the room for just a moment - reaching up to patiently take the boy's hat. Straighten it out. Tuck it at a proper angle, brush the young man's shoulders free of imaginary dust. That tranq gun held in his pinky and ring finger as he works, meticulously adjusting the absurd 'costume'. He even takes a moment to frown.

".. Wear a tie next time, bub. Now make like a tree and leave." A 'skit' noise from the back of his throat, his head jerking sideways. Get going!

Two Left Eyes groans. He stands up and leans against the counter. « It's pretty embarrassing. You should see this guy. » The young man frowns as he watches the fumbling by the apartment door. If this is a setup, it's by someone who doesn't mind looking like a complete idiot. That should be a good sign, right?

Nervous eyes squint as Vernon is patted down, as the hands go toward his head to adjust his hat, as if expecting a painful blow at any moment. With a shaky step back, he nods in understanding to Kraft's statement, "Wear a tie.", a knowing wink, "They don't let us carry guns.. I mean.. ties..", he explains, but likely seeing something from Kraft at that, he turns and paces quickly away to the elevator.

Press. Press. Press-press. "Come onnn!", the elevator doesn't come fast enough, but when it finally arrives Vernon certainly vanishes fast enough.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « I'm outside. I'll get a good look, alright… » Gretch continues to peer through the overlapping scrawls of spraypaint and band stickers on the booth's wall as her right hand twitches, anticipating the moment when she may need to snap out her derringer. « Once he's gone I'm coming up. »

Door closes, Kraft stepping to the side again and crouching down. That tranq gun once more held upwards, muzzle to the ceiling, waiting for someone to come rushing at the flimsy door. He's not expecting it, of course - but they do have a simstar in their midst who's got her face splashed on more things than things have been splashed on her face. Ha, porn joke.
Urgh.

His false eyes occasionally drift to the pocsec, watching the tiny camera feed. «Should be on his way down now, sister.»

A pretty face peeks out from the bedroom, soft brown eyes checking everything is safe and secure, before Euphoria pushes the door open further so she can return to the living room. "Was he for real?", she asks, amusement in her voice. She still carries her plate, scoops up the last of the eggs, the final piece remaining, and pops it into her mouth for a good chewing.

Downstairs, Vernon leaves the elevator and runs outside, around the corner, into an alleyway, where he proceeds to relieve himself of his breakfast. His hat falls off as he's bent over, landing straight into the mess. A desperate sigh and he gives up on it, leaves it where it fell, starts to move off after wiping his mouth.

Two shrugs at Euphoria when she exits the bedroom. "Apparently." He looks over to Kraft, then to the camera feed that displays the entrance. "Oh well. He's gone now. Did you want any more food?" The young man makes the offer as he begins to gather dirty eating utensils. « That is the worst delivery I've ever witnessed. »

In the vidphone booth, Gretchen finds herself succumbing to the phenomenon known as 'sympathy puking,' having failed to stave off the physical discomfort of that… sensation tingling at the back of her mind, and seeing Vernon lose his lunch causes her to do the same. She's quick enough to tear her self-adhering mask from her face in time to stagger out, and make it the few paces to a street drain. Any wibbly wobbliness she may have been subjected to from powers unknown are released before she can wipe her mouth with a napkin pulled from a pocket. « Ugh, fucking gross… » She's quick about it at least. She spits into the drain, tosses the napkin in, then collects her bags, replaces the mask yet again and hustles up to the room. « I'm here. » She announces her arrival with a croak before reaching the door, though she knows she's on Kraft's spycam feed.

The old borg walks back towards the kitchen counter as Two and his play date come out of the bedroom, putting Twitchy's smaller needle tosser back where he got it from. False eyes glance briefly to Euphoria, and - for just a moment - something approaching a wry grin crosses the sour borgs features. "Everyone's gotta start somewhere, kid."
And then he remembers he's supposed to be the bad cop, and his features immediatly drop back into a frown. A glance towards the door - and, perhaps, simply to show off - he'll move back over to it, opening it just as Gretchen arrives. Since she was handy enough to announce herself.

"Hey, Twitchy. Half the pay day's here; And, frankly, it's probably time to shift. That kid's about as steady as a trog ballerina. Two to one he's running as fast as he can to brag, though I did my best to put a damn scare in him."

Moving through the living room, Euphoria joins Two in the small kitchen area, carefully takes the dirty utensils from him so she can take over. Taking everything to the sink, she runs some water and starts cleaning up, as if she were at home. "I'm full.", she replies to Two while busying herself.

Hearing the door open again, she glances over her shoulder to find Gretchen entering the apartment with a selection of goodies from the local stores. As she was the one with the threats of exploding skulls, Euphoria just watches for a second or two, before returning to cleaning up.

Two Left Eyes mills around in slight confusion. He wasn't expecting any help with the cleaning and certainly not from the person they'd kidnapped. He stands dumbly in the kitchen for a while before simply taking a seat at the counter. "You alright?" He asks Gretchen.

Gretchen's shoulders roll slightly in a momentary, silent laugh to herself and she reveals, "He puked his guts out in the alley and -ran-…" She sets down the tarp-wrapped bundle with a heavy thud and uses the now-free hand to gesture with a quick motion, pantomiming the speed with which Vernon beat feet. She neglects to share her own sympathetic reaction, then turns her eyes to the actress with a vicious, suspicious glare, though that and her grim frown are concealed. She's dwarfed by Kraft, and begins to offer her bundle of crinkling bags up toward him as she kicks a foot behind her to slam the door shut.

"Hm?" She turns from her death-stare at Euphoria from behind black circle-lenses to look to 2Josh. "Oh, ja." She shakes her head and waves a dismissive hand. "Fine. Fine… Some stuff here you might want to look at, both of you."

The crinkling bags are taken, and placed aside on the wobbling table as well. "Well. Now that we're all home and gardens, time to talk about the next move." Begins the old borg, idly plucking the three credsticks from the pocket he put them in. And offering them to Spooky and Twitchy. A glance to Euphoria; A frown, and a grunt. "Don't worry about those, kid. I'll get them."

"Back to business, though. We're gonna have to keep on the move if we don't want the kid - " A nod towards the lovely Euphoria, though he doesn't let his gaze linger. Too many damn dames. "-to get bumped when some mook gets trigger happy and comes kicking the door down."

".. Also, hey, kid; If you hate live appearances, why the hell do you keep going through with them?" That's been bugging him for a while.

Within the German's various shopping bags are enough clothes to dress each of the runners — some light jackets, one a green and orange windbreaker with FLASH printed across the back in electric yellow with a lighting bolt underline, the other an equally rad/gaudy pink and black bomber style jacket that has a flying sportscar patch on the left breast. The colors are split in a diagonal line, with pink piping on the black side, and black piping on the pink side. Jeans to fit Two and Gretchen, a couple of t-shirts as well. At the bottom of the pile of clothes is a simple men's dress shirt, slacks and a trenchcoat.

Further items include screws, metal hardware to mount the door barricades, a small tool kit, and some DIY hair dye — brown and black.

"Alright, let's see…" Two joins Gretchen and Kraft, growing more comfortable with the idea of leaving Euphoria to take care of herself. Would someone happily do the dishes if they planned on cutting your throat and escaping? He helps unpack the shopping bags, expressing amazement with a low whistle. "Wow. You really went all out. How much do I owe you?"

But perhaps most importantly…

From the final shopping bag Gretchen draws forth a clear bag just filled with nothing but fortune cookies - dozens of them.

The dishes all clean and ready for the next meal, Euphoria dries her hands and moves back into the living room. Instead of taking a seat, there is a severe lack of them in the apartment, she sits down on the floor with her back to the trid, so she can watch everyone.

"It's in my contract.", the softly spoken woman replies, pushing some wavy brown hair from her eyes. "I have to help sell the sims, make appearances, interviews, that sort of thing. My fans find out and..", a pause, ".. it can be crazy sometimes. If it was up to me, I'd make the recordings and be done.", the woman giving a light shrug, clearly not a fan of public lifestyle. "I've never done a public appearance before, there would probably be riots or..", leaving the words drift off, becoming fascinated on what's happening around her.

"Did you get any Amber Gel?", she asks hopefully, her warm brown eyes showing a twinkle of hope.

Gretchen turns a dark, masked glare upon Euphoria at the inquiry…

…but her only response is a slow, overly long shake of her head, completely silent.

Following that, Gretchen turns to Two and waves a hand to dismiss the question of payment. "Forget about it. We'll discuss it another time."

From a pocket, Gretchen finally withdraws a few packaged toothbrushes and drops them on the table. She claims a red one for herself and moves to the bathroom, hackles clearly up as she maintains an angle of her head toward the captive, then slams the door closed behind herself. No, wait, she comes /back/ out, storms across the room to fetch a bottle of water from the kitchen, /then/ locks herself back in the bathroom. Furious toothbrushing ensues.

"Huh. Outside of the popper, then, this could be a damn vacation."

Sarcasm comes easy to the old borg, even as Twitchy goes about acting like the acid dripping crazy cop we all know her to be. Kraft, for all that, just looks - dryly amused. Then digs through the bag to pull out the fresh pair of slacks, a new shirt and a trenchcoat. "Huh. Guess that'll cover the hole your boy put in me, kid." He states, turning it this way and that before tugging the corners of his lips down to nod. Not bad. And then he jerks his head at Two.

"Mind keeping an eye on the camera, Two? I gotta go see how much of a paint job Val's got later on." He's nodding towards the bedroom - the only bit of privacy left - before he finally speaks to Euphoria directly once again.

"Still sold flat out, seems like. The hell is that stuff made of anyways, liquid kamikaze? I've seen rapid wolverines more patient about getting their fix than some of those mooks in the reports."

"Oh.". Euphoria seems a little disappointed about the lack of Gel, but it's not going to break her heart. "I heard it was hard to find now.", she says, explaining that away. Watching Gretchen stomp away, she looks up at Kraft, then to Two, "I don't think she likes me much.".

Hearing Kraft talk about being shot by Osprey, she offers a thin smile, apologetic, "I'm sorry.", her voice sounding sincere. "He's paid to protect me, he was just doing his job. Thank you for not doing the same to him.", she adds, clearly not in any rush to lose the bodyguard who has been at her side for so many years.

A vague wave of the hand. "The mook was just doing his job. So were they all. No reason to go plugging some joe just earning his eats. Besides, I look like a blood thirsty psychopath, sister?" He pauses, glancing down at his crimson stained shirt with a grimace. "Don't answer that."
And then he's off to the bedroom to change.

Gretchen's delayed exit from the restroom reveals her to still be masked, still wearing her shades and with her hood still up, gripping the red plastic toothbrush in a tight fist. The whole head of it has been melted and cooled back into a formless lump that now bears no bristles, and she discards this into one of the plastic shopping bags which she ties shut, then places into the kitchen trash.

As the hours tick on for Euphoria, so she becomes more calm and relaxed, opening up somewhat. The woman is happy to talk as much as she's allowed, or as little as you allow her to; she actually seems quite lovely, whatever rumors there were about her obviously weren't the honest truth, but that can be the case when you're talking about simstars. Some love them, some hate them, some want to be them, some want to kill them.

To pass the time, she can talk about her work, about previous sim's, about your favorite stars that she might have met, give insider information about upcoming releases, or.. she'd also like to hear about you. What other exciting jobs you might have taken, what sort of encounters, the most exciting ones she's especially interested in, the more it sounds like a sim she could star in, the more she enjoys it.

As times rolls on, Gretchen never once reveals her face to Euphoria, even taking short naps with her features concealed. For these brief hour or two stints of shuteye, she pulls a cushion from the couch, drops it to the linoleum in the kitchenette and huddles, leaning mostly upright, arms around her shins, head pressed to a cabinet door, out of sight from anyone who might enter the apartment unbidden, right below her shotgun, still hanging from a stray nail sticking out of the wall. Between these moments, she either patrols the block to get fresh air, or installs the simple door barricades by mounting brackets that anything could be placed in to prevent the doors from opening, though she happened to bring some lengths of aluminum pipe to serve that purpose. Gretchen says not one single solitary word to Euphoria throughout this whole period.

"Yeah, send me the bill." Two says to Gretchen as she vanishes into the bathroom. He smiles to himself as he lifts up a shirt and holds it to his torso. Oh sure, people complain about him spending time in the bathroom, but nobody complains about how clean it is. One day someone will appreciate that.

Through the day, Two's home personality shows through. He's clearly far too used to being in tight quarters with people, and he seems to find most silences uncomfortable. The young man cleans, paces, and occasionally toys with his deck. When Euphoria opens up he latches on to the conversation. He's careful to avoid personally identifiable information, but is more than happy to talk about the realities of work for both of them - and he takes plenty of joy in gossiping about famous people.

Kraft, for his part, keeps most of his questions pointed at the woman's personal life rather than her professional; That he can just watch a sim for. That is, when the old borg isn't grousing about the air, the lack of smokes, the general state of Denver or playing slow, dark saxophone jazz on his pocsec. When Two takes over the bulk of conversation with the young lady, the older man is happy to let him do so;
His own patrols out and about, switching with Gretchen during her stays, keeping an eye on the surroundings or otherwise just enjoying a good, hard smoke on a shitty, badly grained cig. Letting it ribbon up around his fedora while the night lights pour down like flourescent rain. Being in the apartment seems to wind the old man up - getting his feet to pavement brings it back down again. Eventually, in one of his forrays out, he brings his own bag. Of .. what's basically baby food. Purreed, salty proteins in soy base. It tastes like puke, it smells like junk, and he makes a face while he eats. But down it goes, followed by a shot of something burning.

Later into the evening, another news report hits the airwaves regarding Euphoria. Despite her absence, the first scheduled promotional event went ahead without her. Attendance was meager and the crowd grew restless and angry, starting up a small riot that Lone Star quickly quelled. Strice Foods announced that it was not planning to cancel either of the succeeding two promotional events, either, but one city government spokesman announced it might have to cancel the shows to prevent further and, potentially, larger riots from breaking out among the crowds should Euphoria not appear.

As the evening turns to night and people start to take shifts, who sleeps where and when, while Gretchen is curled up in the kitchenette, she feels an itching inside her pocket, a strange sensation.

HOLDING EUPHORIA: SATURDAY

Waking from one of her periodic naps in the kitchen, curled up, leaning against the cabinet doors, Gretchen rubs her eyes by slipping fingers up beneath the lenses of her glasses then begins to rifle through her belongings in the luggage case stowed inside an empty cupboard. She rises, dons her red, western-style poncho and takes two of the pre-packaged meals and a bottle of water, stating to the others, "I'm heading up, see if I can get roof access. Stakeout spot…" She's groggy, croaking through her vents and her accent is especially thick at the moment. With her intentions stated, she begins to make her way out of the apartment and upward to the roof.

Two has taken to living in the safehouse with ease. It's barely even a change for him. He rises early and occupies the bathroom for an extended period, then hits the kitchen. Access to proper food is a novelty that still hasn't worn off. It's dehydrated, sure, but it's a princely meal compared to last month. He'll make happy conversation with anyone who'll listen - and even some that don't - and be even happier when the target is Euphoria. "Alright. I'll keep my eyes on the monitor." He responds to Gretchen when she heads out.

Having taken to sitting on the torn up carpet in front of the trid, watching a trid movie with lots of explosions, car chases and gunfire, Euphoria looks up as Gretchen wanders past her on the way out of the apartment. Still unsure how to approach this one, the woman decides to give a thin little smile as a farewell, before continuing to watch the movie. "He is /so/ nice in person.", she says to whoever is listening, pointing out one of the actors, obviously having met him. He appears to be a psychopath in the movie, so he must be a good actor.

AMBER GEL

The opposite end of the hallway to the elevator is a stairwell that leads up and down. There's an alarm on the door that can't be seen from this side of the hallway, but it doesn't matter as it doesn't trigger, Gretchen noticing the wiring is all frayed and torn when she passes it. The stairwell, a fire escape, leads up to the roof and down to the ground floor. Another closed door at the top of the steps leads to the roof, no alarms on this one, just a push bar so it can only open from the inside.

Reaching the roof door, Gretchen very carefully eases it open, just peeking before she lets herself out to begin exploring. She cautiously checks the edges, not wanting to lean too far over which could reveal her presence to those just below, but she finds what she considers to be probably the best location to stash a few items that include her climbing harness, rope and grapples. If hell breaks loose, a rooftop escape route could come in handy.

On top of the roof is a small shack for storing various items, as well as the housing for the elevator. From out of the night sky a magpie flutters across and lands on top, squawking loudly before tapping its beak against the shacks rooftop. Tilting its head this way then that, it peers a beady black eye at Gretchen as she moves around.

Apartment life continues for Two and Euphoria. "Is he? I had the feeling he'd be a little weird in real life. Maybe it's the moustache making me jump to a conclusion." The young man has his deck out and is lounging on the floor, similarly watching the trid while he idly touches some keys on the complex device. "Is it the other way around? Are the people who play super nice characters the weird ones?"

Gretchen stoops to grab a small piece of debris from the rooftop and chucks it at the bird with a quiet command to the bird in German along the lines of 'Bah, get out of here,' not with any real intent to strike it, just to make it retreat, but in doing so she spots a little slotted vent cover on the wall of the shack that she can pry off of its fittings with the blade of her knife. And so, she begins stowing some just in case items within, including the two meal packages and the water she brought with her. She lastly digs through her pockets in search of a few personal items like smokes and a lighter to add to the stash. Her hands are moving incredibly quickly, just trying to unload everything before anyone might intrude on her covert activity, but a thought strikes her as she pocket-searches and she pauses, heart racing, and swallows nervously.

That gives Euphoria pause for thought, curling some wavy brown hair back behind an ear. "I think it is!", she decides after some thought, seeming surprised at the revelation. Looking back to the trid, a large explosion blows out an entire building, but the good guy walks straight through it unphased. "I wonder what that says about me.", she wonders.

A perfect shot, the loose piece of junk impacts with the magpie and passes straight through it, as if it were just an illusion. The bird makes a strange sound, as if it were laughing, before it takes to the air again; rather than fly into the darkness, it steadily disappears as it moves away.

Gretchen shivers and tucks her chin to one shoulder, averting her eyes and clenching them shut as she recovers from the hallucination.

« To Gretchen »
Reaching into the pocket holding the Amber Gel, you find a gooey substance inside; it seems the container has leaked. An instant later, something crawls up across your fingers, then another something, then suddenly dozens quickly joined by more, scurrying up across your fingers and wrapping around your hand in a constant state of motion.

"Don't look at me for that," Two hefts his deck and presses a few more keys, as if judging their weight. "You seem fine to me, but my job includes blowing people up with my mind. My moral compass probably has something weird going on." The young man sways on the spot thoughtfully as another explosion blows past the trid star. "What I really want to know is what he puts in his hair to make it impervious to that kind of heat. I know it's special effects… but an explosion like that would fry your hair. There's got to be a product for it."

".. with your mind?". Euphoria caught that part of the statement, the woman now turning away from the trid to focus solely on Two. She's still seated on the floor, legs crossed into an indian style seating, hands in her lap. "You're a magician? Michael's friend is one too, but we didn't speak much. What can you do?", she asks curiously, soft brown eyes twinkling with interest. "Can you shoot lightning?", she asks, pointing out a finger as if she were firing a bolt from her fingertip, "Pshew!".

The part about hair and heat, the woman glances at the trid and back again. "Fire-B-Gone! It's created by Aztechnology in their super secret magic labs to protect against um.. magic fire special effects.. stuff.", her lie failing quickly, trying to hide it by looking away and back to the trid, long lashes fluttering innocently.

Step. Step. Step. Clink. Rattle rattle. Creaaaak.

".. Alright, which one of you stole the damn puke-in-a-jar?" Comes a voice from the bedroom, before there's a pause. "Ah, nevermind, it rolled under."
New shirt pulled tight; Trench coat over the top. Tie about neck, over, under, over, around and through to a perfect winston, tugged up to an imaginary adam's apple. And then backed off into a hangman's loose. Then the crack of a plastic jar opening up, the first 'urrgh' of taste.

And finally the old tin man comes wandering out, small plastic package of cheap and salty purree in one hand, staw in the other, and a look like he'd just licked the bottom of a trog's boot.

« Gretchen to Trista »
Gretchen flings her poncho and jacket to the rooftop surface, scrambling, grunting in a panic to rid herself of what she can only compare to some sort of creepy-crawly infestation of… She doesn't even want to know. She rids herself of layers as quickly as possible.

« Trista to Gretchen »
As soon as the hand comes out of the pocket, the creepy-crawly infestation can be seen. More tiny feet scurry over the glove, climbing upwards until they find bare skin, thousands of rolling, crawling, tiny red ants crawling upwards. A few bite into the bare skin, stinging bites that immediately start to irritate.

The jacket is thrown to the ground and a look back finds the ants gone, replaced by a gooey blue substance, the Amber Gel, sticking to the glove and upwards to beneath the sleeve and onto bare skin.

Two Left Eyes looks suddenly embarrassed. Having the full attention of a beautiful simstar is not something he's very used to, and the topic of magic is a touchy one. "Well. Um. Er." He fumbles for words while putting his deck aside, then eventually protests, "I am poor! Information costs money. Figuring out how to do lightning takes information and look at this place. My budget isn't that big." As he finishes, Kraft emerges from the bedroom, looking every bit like how one would imagine the cyborg waking up. "Good nap?"

« Gretchen to Trista »
The German's nature of being a packrat means that she tends to carry some Kleen-Wipez on her at all times, especially due to the tendency for her work to send her into less than ideal hiding places often enough, and once her tattooed arms are exposed, visible, she urgently dumps out everything else from the pockets of her leather jacket and hurls it some distance away, along with the glove that came into contact with the gel, then cowers behind the rooftop shack and scrubs furiously at her skin. A quick hand to close the vent with its hidden contents, then more scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing, panic levels bubbling up ever higher.

"Well, I woke up sober. That's already a strike against today."

Grumbles the cyborg, pausing to settle into his place on the couch with a thump. Then actually lifting a bald eyebrow as he looks to the trideo. "… Huh. Death in the House of Blood III?" He asks, looking between the two. Idly drawing a pack of smokes out of his pocket, spoon flexed under his middle finger to keep it in place, thumping the carton on his wrist; And giving it a couple of squeezes to really crush it up. Finally a dogear is popped out, tucked into a lip.

"Second day, sister. You're almost in the clear." He mentions quite calmly while patting down for his lighter. "Twitchy around?"

A look around at the apartment at Two's request, then Euphoria has her soft brown eyes back on him, the beautiful simstar so close her perfume tickles his senses. "No lightning then. What about..", a nibble on her lowerlip as she thinks up some possibilites, ".. moving things with your mind!".

Hearing Kraft approaching, she looks back over her shoulder, gives an inner wince at how he looks, but still gives him a little smile regardless. "It's great, another missed appearance. Next time I have a public engagement, you can come kidnap me again.", she's in good enough spirits on day two that she even manages a chuckle. Back to Two, she points out the deck he's cradling, "That doesn't look cheap. You must have been rich once.".

« Trista to Gretchen »
After scrubbing and scrubbing, the gel is completely gone, but the bite still remains. A small red mark, slightly swollen, like an insect bite, just above where the glove was covering. Upon the rooftop, normality slowly returns, there's a beautiful view from up here of the sun rising behind the distant snow-peaked mountains; it looks like it'll be another lovely day.

"Yeah, they did all three. We missed most of it but three really is the best one. She's up on the roof. Said something about a stakeout spot." He jabs a finger at the ceiling to indicate where the missing member of the criminal trio is. Two is clearly making the best of the kidnapping. He's right at home. In fact, this is better than home. Sliding the deck across to Euphoria so she can look at it, he continues talking, "Yeah. Anything I can do with my hands. Flipping cars. Can't lift a car yet or anything. This isn't expensive in pieces… most people who can make the hardware will trade favours. And if you own one you can write the software. See, here's what I'm working on…"

« Gretchen to Trista »
Gretchen slowly recovers, the scrubbing comes to a stop and she frowns openmouthed behind her breather at the sore visible in all her ink - a small pink bump right on the face of a pocketwatch interwoven into the black linework designs that cover both arms. Her chest rises and falls with the fear and adrenaline, and she rises, hands scrabbling for purchase against the exterior of the shack to get herself back to her feet. Cautious steps bring her to where she tossed the Chouyatou biker jacket, Chinese couture, and with her left hand, still gloved, she picks it up with a pinch, unwilling to grip it any more securely. Without any fanfare, she sends it tumbling through the air toward a dumpster down at ground level by leaning over the edge, then she gathers the poncho, slips it over her head…

With the deck handed to her, Euphoria slides it into her lap and searches around for the cord. Out it comes, zzzzzip! up to her datajack and.. bump. "Oh. I almost forgot about that.", she says, the jackstopper keeping her from testing it for real. The cord drops from her fingers and whirls back into the deck.

Not having any idea about computers or decking, the simstar still remains pleasant, happy to listen as Two goes into details about his current programming projects. "When you get /really/ good though, you have to promise not to deck into my bank account.", a playful warning gaze given to Two.

'Papa Kraft' goes back to being the grouchy old cop for the young an enthusiastic Two and his young and his vigorous befriending of their victim. "Mac. She ain't your pal. Day after tomorrow she won't even know your name."

Yep. RIGHT in front of the woman too. And then he's settling back, click'ing the lighter in place and drawing the heat into the cigarette before puffing slowly. Finally letting it rest between his knuckles as he shakes his head. "Sister's got a paranoid streak wider than two fat ficker's dancing the tango. Between the bomb and the stakeout, I don't know what goes on in that skull sometimes." A pause, eyes narrowed. "Does good work, though. When she's not.. twitchy."

Finally, he addresses Euphoria directly, having likely popped that neat little happy day streak. "Sorry, hon, I prefer my dames with a bit more hardware. Say about twenty two tons of armor chasis with a sweet leather interior." Ah, Val. Contemplative and wistful for a moment, there's -almost- a crack in the grouchy facade.

"I'll make that promise now! When I'm good enough to do that, I won't need money like that." Two laughs at the warning. He spools the jack cable and resettles it behind the deck. "The goal is retiring. You can't retire on a pile of money if you've got a pissed off bank chasing you." Then the cyborg decides to rain on parade. And any parade the younger man might be imagining. He deflates slowly. "Yeah, yeah. We're stuck here for a while! There's no reason why we can't be friends."

Moving the deck from her lap, Euphoria places it back onto Two's, a parting compliment of, "It's nice.", not really sure if it is or not, but she's too nice to say otherwise. Looking, then, to Kraft, she tells him, "I don't know your names /now/.", a playful roll of the eyes, a teasing grin, she really has lightened up since she was first carried unconscious through the door.

"You can tell me though. I'm not going to tell anyone about you after I'm gone, I'll say you kept me hidden and I never saw anyone.", she turns her attention to Two, continues on with him, "If you knew what it was like, you'd understand. People just..", wondering how to word it, ".. they're crazy. They'll tear at my clothes and try to grab my hair, scream and shout at me, some want to kill me or be me. Michael has had to defend me from crazies /so/ many times. If I didn't love my work so much I think I would have given up years ago.", and she's only twenty one.

"Don't know why you didn't just grab a rubber, lady. Seems an easy fix."

Grouses the old borg as he sits on the couch, man-splayed and man-splaining. He then reaches up, pinches the skin below those false eyes - and pulls it just enough to illilstrate the fake, rubbery nature of the polymask under stress. "Then wander where-ever the hell you want. Guess that comes with getting the dough, though. All the fame and fortune you could ever learn to hate."
False eyes turn back to the screen again, Kraft's head tilted as he keeps an ear on the hallway and the occasional explosive monologue from other 'patrons'.

Two unconsciously taps a few buttons on his deck, then sets it off to the side. "I kind of figured you liked being rich and famous. In places like this people want the circus that comes with it. Crazed fans mean you're not starving." He waves at the windows, indicating the poor neighbourhood. He grimaces as the cyborg tugs at his rubbery facemask, then changes the topic. "How did they rope you in for the Amber Gel appearance, anyway? If you hate doing that stuff."

Gretchen continues to mutter over the comm channel as she descends the stairs to make her way back to the apartment. « …either of you know much about… ants..? »

HOLDING EUPHORIA: SATURDAY CONTINUED

Pushing up to her feet, Euphoria rises, briefly brushing her hands over her behind to dust away any grime from sitting on the floor. "I like the rich part and making sims, but I didn't expect fame to be so..", pausing to find a word for it, shaking her head when she can't find one. "It was my agent.", she tells Two, the woman moving to the kitchen area so she can push herself up onto the counter, a place for her to sit in this cramped apartment. "He's trusted to make all the important decisions.", she says, her legs swaying lazily side to side, "He was offered almost two million so I guess that was more important than how I'd feel about it.".

Looking to Kraft, she studies the plastic face for a second, a light nibble on her lower lip. "I could, but then I'd lose the fame. I don't ever want to go back to making.. my early sims.", the woman looking down toward the floor, as if ashamed of the decisions she made in her youth.

«They're what you get when you don't use a plate.»

States Kraft over the comms, his lips twisted only faintly. As if he'd gotten a prompt from beyond, and couldn't resist the joke. Then the sardonic smirk turns downwards into a frown as he asks the next bit. «.. Why?»

And then back to Euphoria, a darker frown for a moment. ".. Lady, you're talking to a couple of two bit killers. Blood for a day's kill. Trust me, I've seen people do a hell of a lot worse than spread leg to make ends meet." He grouses, seeming a bit more bitter about that confession than he'd care too. Resting his chin on his fist now as he glances to nothing. Don't look her in the eye, don't get sympathetic. She's rich and neavou, and she's bitching about the fame that goes with it. That's not sympathy he's feeling, that's .. that's.. indigestion.

".. Hey, Twitchy. My turn to get a leg out?"

Gretchen Kramer-staggers in, flings the door shut behind her, latches it, puts her door bar in place on the brackets she mounted, then moves to the bags of clothes and begins rummaging hastily, plastic crinkling, not looking to anyone.

With gloved hands peeking out from her poncho, Gretchen finds what she seeks, the black varsity jacket with pink satin sleeves and gold, embroidered scorpions each side of the zipper. She lifts this out and slips it on under the cover of her outer garment, and when it's on, she dips her head and slips out of the glorified red blanket, rolling it into a wad as she makes her way toward the kitchenette, toward Euphoria, face hidden, but white hair shocked out to one side in a big swoop of bangs.

Two Left Eyes looks between Kraft and Euphoria as they talk, rolling his head backwards dramatically when the cyborg goes predictably dark. "Come on, man. You don't have to—" He cuts off as Gretchen barges into the room. Is this how she normally enters? Nervously grabbing at locks, flying through doors? Actually, it kind of does. "How are things out there?"

To Kraft, Gretchen tosses out, "Feel free," as an afterthought, clearly distracted, focused on her beeline toward the simstar. She continues with a reply to Two, also an off-hand sort of comment. "Fine. Another beautiful day in the neighborhood…"

"Is it sad that this is the most real conversation I've had in months?", Euphoria asks, looking at Kraft with chin on hand, "And it's with my kidnappers.". There's a few moments of thought about that, then a smile breaks across her face, then a little eruption of giggles, a hand placed over her mouth to muffle them, the situation she's in amusing her.

Noticing Gretchen has finished her thing and is heading in her direction, that brief bout of giggles disperses into the air, leaving silence as her soft brown eyes watch the woman approaching. A slightly nervous hand brushes some wavy brown hair from her vision, allowing a clearer view. Her mouth opens as if to say soemthing, but she comes up empty so just closes it again.

Gretchen growls very faintly through her mask as she passes Euphoria but says nothing, briskly storming to her stash in the cupboard closest to the wall. Before she begins rummaging through her possessions though, she rises, glances at the other woman and pulls her small pump shotgun from the wall and slings it over her head.

/Then/ she kneels once more and begins to root through her items, deciding not to take any one item, but the whole carry-on luggage case, which she then takes to the bathroom in order to lock herself within.

When Gretchen is in the bathroom, Euphoria realises she'd been holding her breath the entire time, puffing out the held in air with a sigh. "Is she alright?", she asks whoever wants to answer.

Enhanced hearing can detect the sound of panicked breathing, running water, the luggage zipper and crinkling plastic in the bathroom.

"Whoa now. Uh." Two starts looking concerned as Gretchen storms past. He holds up his hands. "Everything's cool! Everything's fine. Um." Then, as quickly as the German arrived, she's gone. He touches his comm and frowns. « You okay in there? Guns are not traditional toiletries. » The young man looks to Euphoria and turns his hands palm-up in the universal gesture of 'I have no idea.'

…and scrubbing. A prolonged duration of scrubbing sort of sounds.

Kraft watches Twitchy - well - act appropriate for her name. False eyes glance back to Euphoria, and for the answer? He lifts his hand horizontal - and wobbles it side to side. "Sister'll be fine, dame. This ain't the first time she's gone.." A glance back to the bathroom. ".. sideways. Just let Twitchy do her thing; You'd be surprised how often it works out." The lips turn back down to a frown, Kraft finally straightening up and twisting his arms back. Servos whine softly.

"Yeah? Just mind when you step outside the penthouse, sweetheart, 'real' can get painful fast. A lotta people pay good money to get the hell away from real." Hand subconsciously presses against his gut, through the shirt; The divet where the bullet had gone through his plastic-and-metal torso, before grumbling. "Alright, my turn for fresh air. Spooky? Keep your damn head on straight, alright?"

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « F-fine! » Gretchen sounds alarmed by the sudden incoming comm but replies quickly, which can also be heard through the door. « … stepped in bird shit on the roof— cleaning my boots. »

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « You fuckers let her put herself between you and a weapon! » Gretchen hisses angrily through her mask. « Jesus… »

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « … Fair enough, sister, but I'm not exactly swinging with just my knuckles this time. Worse to worse we might've lost Spooky. »

Now on his feet and a little on edge, Two wanders into the kitchen to find the remains of the liquor bottles. "I'll stay on it. Keep in touch." His face is a lot more serious as he talks with Kraft. A dark stare is directed at the bathroom door as he wonders what on earth is going on in there. « She wouldn't have done it! We're cool. »

"You know what you should do while you're out?", Euphoria says to Kraft, hopping down from her place on the counter, landing with the grace of a dancer. "Take away.", she nods, a little smile to the 'borg. "Take away and alcohol.". Her gaze shifts from Kraft to Two, as if looking to him for backup, her eyes even widen in signal for him to do so. "Chinese? Thai? Pizza..?"

These are her kidnappers, so she doesn't expect much, just waves it off and moves to grab the remote to see what might be happening on the trid at this time of the day. *click* .. and in other news.. *click* .. screams, gunfire.. *click*

".. And then what, put it in a blender? I've got less meat left in me than the beef sticks on the corner, dame."

Grumbles Kraft, pausing on his way out to glance over his shoulder. Then reaches up to tug his fedora low before pointing a finger at Two. "Sister's onto something here, Spooky. Head? Keep it screwed on tight. We're almost out of this." False eyes flick between the two again, before he frowns and closes the door after him. Taking a moment to adjust his jacket - the old borg's frame seen briefly in the pocsec's screen through the hidden micro-cam as he heads out the front.

Time to find someplace nice and quiet to sit down and chat with someone other than a gorgeous pornstar, a puppy lovestruck spook and .. well, Twitchy's paranoia. Three days of this and he was ready to pull his non-existent hair out. Time to add 'kidnapping' to his no-gos.

He then pats his pockets down. Maybe he can call up Val, someone with a little class and hell of a lot of armor, talk shop for a -.. oh. Right. Pocsec's back there with the lovebirds.

" .. Damn."

After a long time spent in the dingy bathroom (though Two's efforts have made it much more pleasant than when they arrived), Gretchen steps out, but not until a moment has passed where the cyborg's advanced audio sensors detect the unmistakeable sound of a forehead bumping into the door and a heavy sigh. She carries her case in one hand, and in the other, a pistol-grip style remote detonator, all black plastic with a short radio antenna and a bold red trigger.

Glasses clink in the kitchen as Two makes use of the last of the liquor. This is the sort of situation where a drink is needed, so it'll probably work on Gretchen. He glances at the trid as Euphoria flicks through it and waves to Kraft as he exits. "We've got a bunch of fortune cookies. That's kind of close to takeout." When Gretchen re-emerges, he nods to her and wordlessly points to the kitchen counter. Last of the whiskey, all poured into a glass. The best medicine for whatever makes you take a shotgun into the bathroom.

With Gretchen returning from the bathroom, Euphoria clicks off the trid and places the controller on top, her hands shifting nervously together before she tries to relax by swaying her arms at her side. The woman remains silent, just watches to see what might be learnt after the bathroom visit. Finding Kraft's previous seat empty, she settles herself down, but perched on the edge.

Gretchen shakes her head at the offer of the liquor, glaring toward the simstar behind her glasses, frowning behind her breather. She does hop herself up onto the counter by the wall though, and drops her case to the linoleum floor by reaching down so it only falls an inch. Following that she settles in, cradling one arm in the other, one leg on the countertop, bent at an angle like half of an Indian style position while the other hangs in front of a column of drawers. She continues to hold her remote trigger and simply perches silently here, back against the wall with a view of the whole apartment.

Being a simsense star, Euphoria has a good understanding of feelings, detects a wave coming from Gretchen. With a nod to herself, a hint of a smile at the woman and Two, she rises from her perch on the seat and walks back to the bedroom, closing the door quietly behind her, a light creak inside as she crawls onto the bed and settles herself down.

"So…" As ever, Two doesn't like silences. He smiles back at Euphoria as she makes her exit, then sips his drink - the last of the vodka. "Something's bugging you. Do you just want to blow up and curse at us or something? You'll feel better if you let it out."

At Euphoria's departure, Gretchen's tension visibly lessens, her arms going slack into her lap, and her head dips forward as she lets herself clench her eyes shut in worry, willing herself to not freak out. Her left hand grips her right forearm as tightly as she can — enough to make the little remote's antenna bounce ever so slightly.

"No!" Gretchen's tension returns in an instant as she leans forward and explodes briefly at Two in an effort to express that she doesn't in fact want to explode. She continues to clench her arm but clears her throat momentarily and settles back again to elaborate in a calmer voice. "No… I just… don't deal well with being cooped up." She hisses a quiet, masked whisper. "I /do not/ trust her. She's recording us, this is all staged, and I absolutely will not indulge her in whatever the fuck she wants from us!"

"Nobody wants to buy three days of simsense where you eat rehydrated food and get your ears talked off by a guy with a deck. Look, even if it's an act, it's the lamest thing she'll ever star in." Two tries to sound reassuring as he leans on the counter near Gretchen. "This does seem too easy, but that doesn't mean we have to make it hard for ourselves."

Gretchen extends two tense fingers from her left hand, pointer and middle, and jabs them toward the black reflective lenses of her circle shades. "She records with her /eyesssss/," she rasps, leaning foward and stressing this point that she finds extremely significant.

"And then what? We get famous for being the kidnappers with weird bathroom habits? Nobody benefits from that. Freaking out about it is only going to harm us. We're babysitting. Nobody hires the babysitter again if they go nuts. All we have to do is hang tight and we'll get paid." Two tries his best to make a reasonable case for staying calm, even though he knows it's likely a losing battle. This conversation could go on for some time…

"Who has weird bathroom habits?!" Gretchen sounds perplexed and indignant. "I don't have weird bathroom habits…" She huffs and folds her arms.

And so a lovely Saturday was had by all; arguments echoed around the apartment, claims of healthy bathroom habits, talk of simstars recording three uptight individuals stressed out in an enclosed room, while in the bedroom the simstar in question lays on the bed and to ensure comfort for all, has even fastened the blindfold back around her head. A little late for some, perhaps, but for others it might help. Not that it matters as by the time it's noticed that she's been awfully quiet in that bedroom, she's fallen asleep.

In the kitchen, a couple of tiny ants scurry across the kitchen top, nibbling at the barely visible remains of the mornings breakfast. Time ticks onwards, Saturday ticks over into Sunday, an argument from the floor above causing a restless night as troll sized footsteps stomp around and the neighbours bang on the walls for them to shut up.

From the wee hours onward, Gretchen has been systematically snuffing out the lives of every last ant she finds in the kitchen, as it is her chosen resting place during this extended weekend. Though they may be holding Euphoria captive, Gretchen seems to be taking it harder than the simstar, and is expressing her stir-craziness by distracting herself with the task of extermination. She continues to take very regular stops into the bathroom when she isn't taking turns outside to scope out the block, or linger on the roof.

Being crammed in a box with a paranoid bent on insecticide isn't Two's idea of a good time, but it's not too far from home. He lounges about the safehouse, watching the trid and helping himself to the kitchen's prestocked food. There's no point in looking this gift horse in the mouth - Euphoria has turned out to be great company. There's probably some friction when he and Gretchen both want to occupy the bathroom for far too long, but it's nothing that shouting through the door can't fix.

And then there's Papa Kraft; Finally the old borg's form is seen walking back through the front door hours after he left, having said naught a word on the comms. Where he'd gone, who he'd seen, what he'd done - all blanks, like the fake face he keeps around for polite company. Although he does have a plastic bag clutched in his fist as he passes the hidden camcorder. Pausing as he approaches the door before finally breaking comm silence.

«At the door, sister. Don't shoot me.»

She was pacing worse than a bad sitcom in the brief time he'd seen her, and earning that nickname more and more. This is why they couldn't hang out between missions. Distanct, fondness, heart, all that jazz. What's in the bag, you ask?
Thai takeout.

Gretchen happens to be eating a cold meal straight from the plastic packet when Kraft enters, hunched forward facing a corner to prevent Euphoria from potentially getting a glance at her face. The packet is only inches from her lips as she makes quick work of it with a disposable spoon. She seems not to care much about prepping food the others will surely have learned over the course of this adventure in babysitting, but she eats fiendishly once per day, extremely rapidly with zero grace. "What's in the bag," she asks, indeed. She chews with her mouth open, peering over her shoulder and pulling up the collar of her scorpion jacket to cover nose and mouth should the captive step out from her quarters.

If anything is going to wake Euphoria from her nap, it's the smell of Thai food. With a grumble from the deep, her tummy reminds her she needs to eat, so she's up and eager straight away. Deciding to keep the blindfold on, she steps out of the bedroom, using a hand to guide her. "Is that takeaway?", she asks, smiling despite the blindness. With Kraft being the heavier of the group, she tries her best to look in his direction from the sound of footsteps alone, offering a polite and sweet sounding, "Thanks.".

Some good eating to be had, a little conversation perhaps, the woman trying to lighten the mood with comments of, "You must be a good team.", "You must have saved each other from all sorts of trouble.", and similar, as if trying to remind everyone that nobody here is an enemy. After food, she makes her way back to the bedroom, gliding a hand across the wall to find her way, and this time doesn't return for the night, sleeping straight through until morning.

"Food to keep the meat bags happy until my robot brethern can begin the uprising and enslave the rest of you."

States Kraft, doing his best to keep a nuetral expression on his face while he sits the ponderous bags upon the kitchen counter. Dusting off his gloves and glancing aside - just as 'the kid' comes wandering out. Eyes blind folded to eat. Those fake, faint glowing irises turning back to Gretchen for a moment, bald eyebrows lifting.

".. What, we playing pin the tail now? Between you and Spooky, this kid's got enough whiplash to make any ambulance chaser smile."

And then - apparently - it's dinner time. Albeit, Kraft is once more back on the couch, having lit up his cancer stick rather than join them in chowing down. His own slurry's got enough of a stink to put anyone off their game.

Two opens the door for Kraft. The locks rattle as he sets them back into place. "We've got to find a way to get you real food. Watching you with that stuff is painful, especially after you brought us this," Two comments to Kraft over the food. He makes light conversation with Euphoria before she returns to the room, then settles himself down for the night. Last day. How bad could this go? Doors are barred. Everything's safe.

When Euphie slips out to get her Thai takeout, Gretchen hastily fills her mouth with one too many spoonfuls of cold rice mush and shoves her breather back into place. But when she turns, she notices that the woman at least had the courtesy to play along with the captor/captive dynamic, at least to some extent by wearing the blindfold. So that's progress at least.

At some point in the night, between paranoid rooftop patrol, ant squishing duty, a two hour nap on a couch cushion on the floor of the kitchenette, and visits to the restroom that more often than not don't result in the sound of any running water or flushing, Gretchen ends up perched on the dresser in the bedroom watching Euhporia in the dark, thinking grim thoughts, surely. Or simply trying to ensure she doesn't try anything clever in the privacy of her room while only pretending to sleep…

I'VE GOT PRIDE

It's during the middle of the night, while Gretchen is on Euphoria-watch, that the simstar awakens very suddenly; from deep sleep to awake almost in an instance. "Oh my..", she says to herself, not realising she's sharing the room with someone, ".. what is that?".

Her arms wrap around herself, as if she were cold, and despite the blindfold she looks up and around, as if sensing something uncomfortable nearby, something that isn't Gretchen for a change.

Gretchen remains silent and stares at Euphoria for an overly long moment before slipping her feet down to the carpet to let herself out of the bedroom…

Laying back down, Euphoria tries to settle again for a few moments; tries rolling to one side, then to another, before giving up entirely and getting out of bed. Another look around her, a pointless idea considering the blindfold, then she starts feeling her way along the bed and toward the door, not far behind Gretchen.

Two doesn't really snore. He's flat on his back beside the couch, limbs in all directions. His breathing is slow and relaxed, unchanging as people begin to creep about the apartment.

Sneaking into the room, Euphoria runs her hand against the wall again, not removing the blindfold just in case it's Gretchen she finds. "Is anyone awake?", she asks quietly, the silence of night increasing the volume naturally. Her footsteps take her along the wall toward the middle of the room.

Gretchen isn't… unsympathetic to the woman's plight — Euphoria's scenario would be sheer psychological torture to some, herself included — but at the same time she just wants this all to go as smoothly and as quickly as possible. She growls low and slow and hushed through her mask, "Go back to sleep… This will all be over soon…" She sets down the pocsec whose screen is the only real source of illumination in the apartment right now, and it shines up, casting strange, distorted shadows.

Hearing a voice, Euphoria turns toward it; it's not the voice she hoped to hear, but it's someone to talk to. "There's something weird happening.", she says, "I'm getting this /really/ bad feeling.", another look up and around her, as if she can see it despite the blindfold.

Not wanting to bother the woman, however, Euphoria turns and makes her way back to the bedroom, slow, nervous steps leading her onwards and into the darkness of the room.

"Wait…"

Gretchen takes a step toward Euphoria, glances at Two, still passed out, then closes the distance to the simstar.

The simstar remains at the doorway to the bedroom, doesn't turn around, just stands there as if expecting more to follow the 'wait'.

Blissfully unaware of any impending doom, Two remains sprawled on the floor. Why is it that thin people occupy the most space when they sleep?

Soft footsteps and the quiet 'shushing' of Gretchen's super-rad pink scorpion jacket reveal her proximity to Euphoria before she whispers through her mask from only arm's length away. "…What are you talking about? You're having a nightmare. Go back to sleep." These lines sound rehearsed in a way, as though Gretchen speaks them on a very regular basis. So much so that her accent is so subtle when saying them as to not even exist at the moment.

Unlike Spooky or Twitch, Kraft's flesh is .. well, mostly plastics. All he really needs is a corner to lean against. Like a puppet with cut strings, the old cyborg is piled up in the kitchen, all limbs and knees, jaw loose enough to show machine perfect white teeth. It's not like he does anything but suck down spirits, smoke bad cigarettes and slurp up purree anyways. False eyes stare emptily at the ground, not bothing to close as the meat inside that tincan is fast asleep. At the noise, though - the treacherous noise that winds through hearing amps like a bugel - there's a click. A flicker. Limbs shift and wriggle slowly, the yellow lights of his iris flickering to a soft glow as he 'wakes up'. Servoes whine, teeth clack together as his jaw tightens.

"…time is it anyways…"

"If it's a nightmare, why can I still feel it?", Euphoria asks, not glancing back; there's no reason to, she can't see anyway. With a quiet sigh she continues her path into the bedroom, "I don't think I can sleep.", she says, a creak as she finds the bed and the mattress groans under the pressure.

Gretch quickly turns toward Kraft as he comes online, but she's just on edge, spooked by Euphoria's being spooked but trying not to show it. "Late," she hisses, adding, "…early." She neglected to check the time when looking at the spycam link on the borg's pocket secretary. Begrudgingly, Gretchen follows into the chambers, pulling a short plastic object about the size of a credstick from her pocket which she grips before her in both hands. With a gentle <crack> she bends it to a threshold which disrupts an internal reservoir and the room is bathed in a sudden neon green glow.

Crawling her way back up the bed, Euphoria lays herself down on top of the sheets, she's still dressed in her day clothes after all; no PJ's in an apartment full of kidnappers, please. The woman lays her head down, curls up a little, tries to relax and send herself back off to the land of dreams.

Late to the party, Two takes a sudden breath. His eyes fly open as glowstick cracks. There's people! "The fuck…" His torso rises to vertical like a vampire in a silent movie coffin. He reaches for his glasses and stares about somewhat blearily. "What's going on? If we're not doing drugs I don't want to be awake."

In the bedroom, Gretchen is quietly stepping from corner to corner, glowstick upraised. Soft green light and dark shadows struggle to occupy the same space, shifting constantly as she moves about, looking cautiously into the corners, the space behind the dresser, then under the bed…

The old man shoves himself back to his feet, staggering; It takes a bit for that DNI to integrate between metal limbs and meat brain. His hand quests out blindly for a moment, finding his fedora at last. And then tucking it atop his head, pulling it sharply down until the edge levels with his fake eyes. There. Now he's dressed.

Arms dip; Find the clip-on suspenders, pull them up to keep pants in place. The coat next, an awkward backwards flex to get it situated, a jerk of shoulders to pull it closed. Hands brush it down, tighten the collar against the back of his neck. And, finally? He glances to the bedroom. Where.. Twitchy is playing with a glowstick.

"Rave party, bub." He answers Two, grumbling. Then? A tap on the side of his skull. Eyes flicker, click - brighten up..
"What're you doing, Twitchy?"

Unable to see what's happening, but catching the green glow beneath the cover of the blindfold, Euphoria asks, "What are you doing?", her voice but a whisper in the darkness of night. Nothing moves inside the bedroom; nothing but the scurrying of tiny bugs frightened off by the bright glowstick.

"She's freaking out about something," Gretchen whispers openly, for some reason compelled to try to remain hushed and with minimal light rather than speaking aloud and hitting the light switch. Her intense curiosity compels her to investigate in her strange way, kneeling and lowering head and light source below the bed frame for a good look at the skittering insects.

Two Left Eyes takes more time to get his body and brain in gear than Kraft. He shakily rises to his feet and follows the way to the action. Being tired has robbed him of many filters. "If she's the one freaking out, why is everyone asking you what you're doing?" The young man asks the question bluntly, then yawns.

Hearing Two, someone close enough to trust in here, Euphoria tells him from her spot on the bed, "I have a bad feeling, like something bad is coming.", she says softly, a shiver to herself. "It's nothing. I'm sorry I woke you.", she adds, twisting on the bed to try and find some comfort.

Gretchen does a 'normal' thing and frustratedly rises, steps to the entrance and just hits the light switch.

"Check her for insect bites…" Its light now inconsequential, Gretchen gestures with the glowstick and urges Two to, "Check her arms…"

"Twitchy.."

Begins Kraft, as an answer to both Spooky and as a questioning sound for Gretchen herself. Especially when she flips on the light and starts asking about insect bites. Rubbing his face with both hands, Kraft sighs and speaks up for Euphoria benefit. "Never ignore your gut, kid. Just hang tight for a second." A glance aside to Gretchen again. ".. A little late for the blindfold too, innit?"

Like it wasn't -his- idea in the first place. Although, placatingly enough, the old borg flips off his eyelights and goes to watch the pocsec. Keeping his ears peeled.

"Ominous feeling, huh? Sounds like magic. I should give the area a look about." Two says. At the suggestion, he takes a few steps towards the bed and leans towards Euphoria. "Going to take a quick look at your arms. Don't worry, it's just me." He reaches for the simstar's arm to give it a quick inspection. Gretchen didn't even say what he should be looking for. Track marks?

With a sigh, Euphoria flips onto her back so she's face up, her arms out for the others to see. "What have my arms got to do with it?", she asks, confusion in her voice. "And insect bites?", the confusion growing. "I'd be surprised if I /didn't/ in here.".

With 2Josh inspecting and threatening to do some genuinely spooktacular somethings, Gretchen eagerly takes the opportunity to take exaggeratedly long backward steps out of the room, past the threshold to where Kraft stands by the trid with his spycam monitor.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « I don't like this… » Gretchen uses her glowstick to search the corners of the apartment that the light from Euphoria's room doesn't illuminate. She pokes her head in the bathroom, then waves her green light around as she turns about near the door, and finally makes her way to the kitchenette. She shivers unconsciously, susceptible to the power of suggestion and still deeply in the thrall of her mixed paranoia and curiosity. To the point that she starts going through each cabinet and drawer, yanking them open one at a time as if to get the jump on whatever might be hiding within.

Spooktacular events seem in season. Two gives Euphoria's arms an inexpert look over. He's no doctor. "It's easier to not ask where she gets her ideas. The other two are right. Sometimes you've got to go with your gut." Should he find nothing, he goes with his gut and peers into the astral - first examining Euphoria's aura, then the room.

The old man tilts his head, glancing once back to Gretchen when she BTFOs of the bedroom where Spooky is looking over 'The Kid' like someone checking for plague marks. A slow sigh emerges from Kraft - but dutifully, false eyes go back to their tiny 'security blanket' of pocsec. Honestly, there's all sorts of ways to enter. Hell, Kraft is pretty sure he could just walk through the wall if he wanted too. But it at least makes people -feel- better, and anyone stupid - like their original courier - could get caught before they get too much in.

"Anything?" He asks in the air in general, listening to the distant thump somewhere in another apartment. Too rythmic to be fighting. Grimace.

When Two has finished with her arms, Euphoria crosses them over her chest, but they don't last long as a hand pops to her mouth to cover up a yawn; it sure is late and waking up mid-sleep didn't help.

Inside the astral, Two finds a significant build up of mana around Euphoria, a sparkling thread of energy extending up from her body and stretching through the roof and away. He recognizes it instantly as ritual targeting.

"Huhhh-HAH!" Gretchen does a little audible lead-up to a cry of surprise as she grips the handle of a drawer, then -yanks- it open all of a sudden and brandishes her glowstick before her to surprise whatever beastie might be lurking within.

"Shit! Get packed." Two's eyes widen in shock as examining the astral reveals the nature of the ominous sensation. "She's being targeted by ritual magic. They'll have a lock on her soon, spell's not cast yet."

Hearing this, Euphoria sits up with a hint of panic, "They're going to shoot magic at me?!", her voice shaking, "Who's doing that?!". She reaches up to remove her blindfold, but stops, still considerate of her apartment companion.

When Two glances back to warn his companions, standing in the doorway to the bedroom is a large man, obviously awakened, the outline of a lion around his astral form. He smiles when he's spotted, looks around the room and back into the other section of the apartment, faster than a blink inside the astral. "I will be seein' you soon.", mental communication to Two, sounding deep in tone and with a strong african accent.

Two freezes in place when he sees the large man in the doorway. Magic in the shadows so far has been him doing it to other people - this is a new experience. This must be how everyone else feels. Panic surges through the young man. "Shit. Shit. A… half-lion man knows where we are. It's not the guy from the hotel. He's on his way."

"Get the damn blindfold off."
Snaps Kraft, trusting Spooky's sense on the spookiness. Leaving the pocsec where it is - watching the entrance - while he drags out his heavy deputy. Out goes the rebounds, tucked into a pocket - in come the heavier ordinance. This time, it's not a bunch of mooks that don't know what's coming. This time? This time, it's someone who knows precisely what they're sticking their hands into, and want to do it anyways.

That's a mac about to get his fingers snapped off. "Doesn't matter what the spook looks like, Spooky. Time to go. Twitchy, got a back door in here? Two cars or one?"

The man moves with a stream of light announcing his departure, flashing upwards through the ceiling and into the great unknown. The tracking ritual also slowly twirls away, sparkles of energy twinkling into the ether to leave Euphoria unaffected.

Shuffling her way to the end of the bed, the woman hops to her feet and follows Kraft's instruction, but first calls out, "I'm sorry.. Twitchy.", the only name she's heard for Gretchen so far, the blindfold pulled off and thrown aside. "Should I grab anything?", she asks of whoever is listening, not sure what she's supposed to do; her bodyguard usually takes over in situations like this.

Gretchen breaks into a panicked frenzy, still using her glowstick to navigate even though it's wholly unnecessary. She first pulls out her little luggage case, zips it half open to pull out her shotgun and poncho and slips the weapon strap around her neck, then the poncho goes over her head. She has two helmets stacked together in the case as well, her riding helmet and the stolen KE one, and yanks her own out to plant it on her head, straps hanging down past her chin, flailing about with every hasty motion she makes. "Fuck, fuck! I thought you were supposed to—" She stammers, hands held out before her clenched like claws as she calls her response to 2Josh in the other room. "Raaaagh, let's go, let's go!" To Kraft, "I'm riding!" She slams the palm of one hand against her helmet and stares at him, wide-eyed and mouth hung open in despair, though this isn't visible past her face gear, but the body language is clear enough as she shoulders the luggage case with the rifle strap clipped to it.

Two moves quickly. His advice to Euphoria is utilitarian. "Proper shoes. This might suck for you. You'll want to be able to run." The grumpy sleepiness of before has vanished underneath a tidal wave of adrenaline. He rushes out of the room and into the main apartment, then begins focusing on a spell.

"Toss your spare helmet to the kid, Twitchy."

States Kraft, rubbing his face to get the shakes off. Now was no time to go rushing about like a trog at a picnic with his bait and tackle hanging. "We lose pay if she comes off this with a bruise. Spooky..?" A glance over, but Two's doing something. A frown, but Kraft lets it go for now.
"Out the front door. If I was them, they'd be expecting us to panic and head out the back. Nice and easy, one then two then one. I'll take the front, who wants the rear? The kid's part of Lucky Pierre's duo in the middle."

Taking to action, her bodyguard has run her through drills enough times to get her thoughts into action, Euphoria darts over to the closet and reaches in for a pair of running shoes. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she quickly wriggles her feet into them and has them fastened, ready to go in record time. "Ready!", she hops up, the excitement of the moment raising her adrenaline.

Always think of the weather! Reaching back into the closet, she pulls out a comfortable long coat and pulls it on, fastens it up securely, then she heads for the living room to wait for advice.

Gretchen unshoulders her case and extracts the stolen helmet with a wordless grumble, her whole being just trying to get out of here ASAP. "Here," she urges, passing the headgear to Euphie and shouldering her bag once again.

"I'll take final exit," she offers. "Two, you keep her covered." She snaps her wrist and out slides her little Firepower-packing Wildcard.

A simstar this close to the Warrens? Unlikely, but Lone Star might check it out if given a tip. Nothing more than a single squad car at first, just to check on the situation, the heavy guns will come out if they actually find her.

Adrenaline powering his spell, Two barely notices the drain of casting. The whole motion might as well have been a short, sharp breath. He opens his eyes and looks about the apartment while putting his own shoes on. "Got it. If they roll up in a car, you guys know what I'll do." The young man is in a rush, but quite polite as he touches the hostage's back to get her moving. "Let's go. You'll be in my car."

"Eyes up and ears up, mooks. If they're doing this legit, they'll get the flat foots involved; That means one squaddie wandering the area. You let me slip out first and give the go ahead. As long as we slip this noose, they'll call it a night and move on."
Begins Kraft, holstering his heavy gun. "When it's time to move, you move fast. No screwing around either, kid.." He begins, addressing Euphoria for the first time. "You don't want to get caught in a firefight when both sides are using something heavier than a poke and a bit of blue gas. Move with Spooky here, right on his hip. Savvy?"
Who voted this old butthole the leader? Still, he's going. "Twitchy, you mind the top in case they -aren't- doing things legit. Waiting on the roof or arond the corner for something female and accompanied. Alright.."

"Let's book." And then it's time to go! Although he does crack the door first, keeping ears and eyes peeled before he'll start his way to the front. Making sure to nab the camera as he goes, if all looks safe.

Taking the helmet to the chest, Euphoria grunts out a breath but takes the helmet with a quiet, "Thanks.". Fingers run back through her wavy brown hair, pushing it into a comfortable place so the helmet can be pulled on and patted down.

Outside in the corridor, all is quiet, snoring coming from an apartment a few doors down, but otherwise all is peaceful. "I'll be right behind you.", Euphoria replies in a whisper to Kraft, moving closer but not wanting to put herself in harms way. "Spooky.", she confirms, a glance to Two and a quick nod. She's done this before with her bodyguard; follow orders, don't be stupid and you'll be fine.

Gretchen takes a deep breath, holds it for a moment before the door opens, and nods to Kraft, then when the group splits she breaks off from the group once they hit the stairs. « I'll let you know what I see up top. And get her on the channel! » Gretchen urges Two to tune Euphoria's helmet's comm to the shared frequency should it be necessary, and without any further ado, whips around and starts to charge her way back up to the roof access door.

That old butthole makes a great leader. When things get tough and ugly, it's nice to know you've got something tougher and uglier on your side. Two's heart pounds as he hustles with Euphoria. "Comm check." He says, thumbing his commlink. « Comm check. Alright, let me know when we can go for the car. I'll stay on the move. Twelve hours. When we regroup we need to be ready - that lion guy's not going to fuck around. »

With quiet footsteps, Euphoria follows alongside Two, keeping silent except for a few words over the comm, « Wiz! This thing reminds me of my role in.. », but realises now isn't really an appropriate time, « Sorry. », and leaves the comm clear.

Only a short way to the roof from the eighth floor, Gretchen hits the rooftop to find it as empty as previous. A look around from the edge can see what Kraft sees as he exits the building; a Lone Star squad car rounding the corner and approaching the apartment building, lights flashing but no sirens.

That old butthole -does- make for a pretty good leader when the drek hits the fan. Gretchen embraces her role in the proceedings, dashing as rapidly as she can up the flights to the rooftop while slipping a small device from her pocket, not unlike a flashlight, and before she reaches the exit she slips a slim cable through the collar hole of her poncho that connects the handheld device to the earpiece of her shades. Just prior to passing out the door she flicks between vision settings then comms down to the others in a hushed whisper. « I'm set. Heading out to the roof now… » She eases the door open ever so quietly, locking her hands together at the wrists, keeping her eyes, ultrasound emitter and derringer always aimed in the same direction.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « Squad car, incoming! »

Kraft steps out first; He's not running or even hunched forward. Rather, he pauses outside the door, taking in a deep breath of that disgusting poison riddled toxin they dare call Denver Air before patting down his pockets. Cigarette pack? Check. Rattle rattle - hm.

«Got 'em, Twitchy. I see the flatfoots. Spooky, hold tight for a second. Twitchy, anyone coming around from the rear of the building?»

Open carton. Dogear out, in the lips. Flame lit. Ah, cancer - better than denver's toxins. And then the old borg pauses, stepping a few away from the door as he watches the LS with the usual tactic behavior of rubber neckers everywhere.

Gretchen crouch-dashes to the far side of the building and risks a glance over the edge…

Two fiddles with Euphoria's helmet, dialing in the frequency somewhat awkwardly as they move down the stairs. At the mention of the incoming squad car he pauses and begins concentrating one more time - eyes closing, teeth clenched. A sharp exhalation marks the end of his casting and the beginning of sustaining it. « Magic. You're disguised. » He mutters to Euphoria, placing a hand on her arm to indicate that he's talking to her.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « *coughbullshitcough* »

Flashing red and blues light up the street as the Lone Star vehicle draws closer, rolling to a gentle stop outside the apartment building. The lights go out and the doors open, two officers leaving the vehicle, a female elf and a well built human male. They both start to approach the entrance, heading toward Kraft, though seem casual, even joking, ".. if she's here you owe me big.", the female chuckles; they obviously don't expect to find what they came for.

The other side of the building, the street below is quiet, nothing but a homeless man across the street grumbling about lack of alcohol and the damn cold. At the magic act, Euphoria looks down at herself, finds a different, almost loses her footing on the stairs at that. "You /are/ a magician!", a sparkle of wonderment in her soft brown eyes.

"Late night?"

States the old borg as the two coppers move on by. Nothing but a blank face, an old coat and a cherry glowing in the darkness below his fedora. A sardonic smirk twisting up his lips as he does what he can to delay the inevitable.

«Coming in the front door. One keeb and one gook. Hope you got something up your sleeve, Spooky, or that you're going around back.»

«Twitch, what's the word up top?»

Through clenched teeth, Two starts trying to mutter something angrily into the comm. Indignance from all the doubt in his ability is evident - from all angles, no less! Concentrating on the spell is what keeps him silent. He waits tensely with Euphoria, staring down the stairs and waiting for an all clear over the comm.

On the street, the elf moves away from the human, approaches Kraft, "Excuse me, sir.", she says, looking the borg up and down, unsure what to make of that for a moment. "Have you heard of a simstar being in the neighbourhood?". About as subtle as a hammer. The male officer chuckles at the question, shakes his head as he moves into the apartment building, leaving his elven partner to ask a few questions.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « Rear side of the building is Star-free! » Gretchen sounds like she's punching a metal panel or something, then the sound of line being fed out in steady <zzzzp-zzzzzzzp-zzzzzzzp> measurements as she eyeballs out the length she'll need to make the descent. She cuts off a length of rope, slings the rest over her head and secures a knot that she thinks should hold… This is followed by a curious reach to one earlobe and a gentle squeeze. Down the block a motorcycle engine revs to life. « I'll meet you on the ground, or if we have to split, I'll be on your tail. »

"What, you don't recognize me? Cogs McWheel, from 'All My Vets'."
Grumbles the borg good naturedly enough; One heading in is better than two. The old man cups his cigarette for a moment, tugging it out of his lips as he gestures with a hand. "The hell would a simstar be doing in this drekhole, sister? The walls are basically wet paper tissue. -I- wouldn't be here, except it's cheap enough I can still eat every other day. Someone's pulling your leg harder than a trog after your sneakers."

The Elf rolls her eyes at that, "I'm sure someone is.", she replies. "But with Euphoria missing, we need to respond.". The woman starts to head toward the apartment behind her partner, but asks briefly, "Are you staying on the 8th floor? You may have overheard something and not realised it."

In the stairwell, Euphoria motions down the stairs, whispers, "Shouldn't we move?" to the man at her side, "This feels /really/ dangerous.".

"Nah. Nothing but a bunch of mooks bumping uglies and some thicker upstairs what like to slap his old woman."

Grunts the borg, with a shrug. Then pauses. ".. Come to think of it, there was something. Now, mind you, sister, it's not that rare to get a few gunshots here and there. But there -was- a ruckus about two days ago. Buncha mooks hollering at each other, had someone else with a hood on. Dragged them down the block a few streets."
A shrug and a gesture. "I mean, we called it in, but.. you seen this place. Most of us just figured it's another gang jump, you know? You get so many jumps in this neighborhood you'd figure we were a bouncy house."

Gretchen ties off her line and looses the length down the side of the building, catching sight of… Well, her heart leaps up into her throat and she has to swallow it back down before she's able to comm to the others.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « …Two va— » She croaks out a pair of quick syllables as she hoists one leg over the low wall that surrounds the rooftop. She hisses out after a second, bracing herself to drop to the vertical surface while securing her grip on the line. « Two unmarked vans incoming. We have time, but I don't like the look of them… »

The Elf turns her attention back to Kraft, interested in what he's got to say, she even takes out an electronic notepad and creates a new data entry. "Thank you, sir. If this is as useless a lead as I'm expecting, we'll look into that.". Turning away, she makes her way to the apartment building, "Have a good morning.", she says pleasantly.

Inside the stairwell, Euphoria gives Two's arm a pull, "Come /on/!", then starts walking off ahead of him.

"You know how you don't like people recognising you? I'm stopping that from happening. Right now you're as anonymous as you've always wanted. Just don't let them hear you." Two talks through his clenched teeth to Euphoria, frowning at the news of the incoming vans. "Hurry."

"Hey, there a reward for finding this guy or..?"

Begins Kraft, lifting a hand in fairwell to the officer. Before he turns his head towards the street, catching his cig again. «Both are heading in now, Spooky. Mook first, keeb second. You've got a little space between them.»

And then he's walking nonchalantly towards the parking lot. Well, maybe just a bit more of a quick toe than that, considering what's coming down the line.

«Cutting it close. Twitchy, you said you've got a ride?»

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « Wheels inbound, Tin Man. I'm heading out of here in five. » Gretchen exhales a breath through pursed lips which creates a staticky hiss over the comm channel after passing through her mask vents. She mutters to herself as she commits to either the integrity of her knot-tying skills or to gravity… « Sprung des Glaubens! »

Taking to running, Euphoria starts taking steps two at a time, though ensures Two is close behind her; she's not eager to be running into trouble. Reaching the ground floor she pulls open the fire door and peers through at the officers moving through the entrance hall. The male officer has already called the elevator and waits for his elven partner to arrive, holding the door from closing. They both disappear into the elevator and the doors ping behind them.

"They're gone.", the woman tells her kidnapper; what sort of kidnapping is this exactly? And then she opens the door for him to go ahead of her, he can take any bullets if there's anyone around.

Two hurtles down the stairs as quickly as he can. He takes steps unevenly and with nowhere near as much grace as the simstar. He's breathing a little heavily by the time they're watching the officers get into the elevator. Once the command is given the action resumes. He walks briskly for the exit and then his Westwind. « We're coming out now. »

Quick to follow along, Euphoria joins Two as he heads for the car, running around to the passenger side. « We made it to Spooky's car! » The simstar sounds excited, perhaps she has a future in 'running when she gets tired of creating sims.

Gretchen zips down the back wall of the building, crimson poncho fluttering around her until her boots hit the pavement. She breathes a sigh of relief, applies REAL magic to make her stealth line disappear with a wave of her magic wand, and just as she does so, a Triumph RK30 with a dark cherry teardrop gas tank guides itself into the alley to rumble to a stop just beside her.

And who's standing by Spooky's car but the old borg himself, his point lit up by the small glowing cherry between his lips. Fake eyes glow faintly in the dark as he looks between the NEW 'Kid' and the mumbo jumbo man. "Huh. Fancy footwork, bub." He compliments for Two, before cracking the door open for Euphoria. He might be prone to getting refrigerator magnets stuck on his chasis and needing a lube job here and there, but the old butthole's still got some manners. Sometimes.

"Alright, alright. Come on, we've got just enough time for jack and spit."

«Guess I'll leave the ol' Zipper here for now. You going to be our tail, sister?»

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « I'm right behind you. » The sound of a bike engine burbles, revs. « Let's get moving and decide where we're heading on the way. »

The Westwind beeps as Euphoria and Two approach it. The doors unlock as the pair hurry closer to it. « We're out. » The car's engine rumbles into life, echoing off the nearby buildings as Two helps the cyborg and simstar cram themselves inside. He buckles his seatbelt and locks the doors. As always there's the momentary urge to do something stupid - a burnout, fly away because there's no way the vans can catch them - but he resists. As the car begins to move, the young mage releases the spell on Euphoria. His jaw relaxes and he breathes freely.

Finding herself in competition for the passenger seat, Euphoria slips into the back seat and lets the old borg rest his weary metallic frame in the front. Turning on her seat until she's almost kneeling, she looks out the rear window to see if anyone is giving chase, until the car has pulled away when she settles back down and buckles up securely.

« You people are /so/ good. » the simstar compliments over the comm, before slipping the helmet off and giving a shake of her head so her wavy brown hair falls naturally; it would be in slow motion if anyone was watching, some music would spark up, but alas, people are too busy rushing away.

HOLDING EUPHORIA: SUNDAY

Gretchen weaves an urban slalom, darting between buildings, down alleys, through slower traffic, poncho whipping in her wake as she cruises with all headlights and running lights off, never letting the Westwind out of her sight for more than a few seconds at any stretch.

The Westwind glides through the maze of roads. Two drives with the certainty that can only come from practice. He guides the car along a pattern that could almost be an eldritch sigil, glancing at the mirrors for any sign of lions, tigers, or aggressively driving vans. Eventually he relaxes. « Need a new place to lie low for a few hours. Who's got a friend who can hook us up? »

Kraft, for his part, is keeping his eyes off to the side. Squinting on occasion as he watches Spooky's flank, glancing over his shoulder as the Kid settles in to stare out the back of the vehicle like .. well.. a teen on a field trip.
".. Kid, you need a reconsider life if you're giddy about running from the your rescue team." A frown. ".. If they are your rescue team." There's a troubling thought, as he turns his attention back out the side of the car, watching the scenario move past.

"I'll shake a few trees, mac, but we might consider slipping out of the city limits for a bit. There's a place down south called Coyote Junction. Or the mountain parks. Someplace with long lines of sight, savvy?"

Gretchen tries to come up with an 'in the heat of the moment' safehouse to recommend but isn't up to speed on the best spots to lie low at the moment. « We could try some independent battered women's shelters, throw a cover story at them and hope they buy it, but… » Then at Kraft's suggestion she commits to the proposal without a second thought. « Coyote Junction. If nothing else, we can gas up and keep moving. »

"I'm thinking about it..", Euphoria admits, wriggling forward so she can peer between the two seats and the two can see her in return. "I'll join your team. You can show me the ropes.", she suggests playfully, giving Kraft's arm a little nudge.

Watching the streets rush by for a few moments, the woman eventually flops back into her seat again, crossing her legs comfortably, closing her eyes to relax; she did wake up at 4am after an already restless night.

« Coyote. Fair enough. » Two transmits, turning a corner in the car. That's the other direction. Shouldn't be a problem. Once the westwind is hurtling down the road, he glances at the simstar in the back seat and says to Kraft, "Cut her some slack, man. She's been famous for ages. This is probably a holiday."

A gloved hand comes up - sweeps off the fedora. The old borg leaning back for a moment, an awkward twist of the torso, to plant said battered, dark and dusty hat atop the young woman's head. And pull the brim down low.
"Keep your head down." He grouses. But there's easier ways to do that than giving away his -hat- as he turns back around, bald head pressed to the seat back.
"Ropes, huh? Alright. Watch your back. Shoot straight. Conserve ammo."

"And never, ever cut a deal with a dragon."

With a smile to herself, Euphoria reaches up, adjusts the hat so it angles down across her face, "Thanks Tin Man.", she replies, having not heard his real name either. With a little wriggle in the seat, she settles in for a quiet nap while driving to the next location.
With the early hour, the streets are fairly quiet; people are starting to rise, those with longer travel times to their work, but mostly the traffic is thin. Finding a smuggling route around the checkpoints, the car avoids being searched for simstars or large weapons, the journey to Coyote Station a quiet one.

An uneventful drive is somehow worse than a terrifying one. Two keeps his eyes open, glancing at mirrors and the vehicle's sensor displays. The old, crumbling buildings grow lower in height and give way to vacant lots as they head away from the city. City lights now behind them, the drive becomes quiet and dark. "We're going to be there in about five minutes. And we need to fill up on gas as well." The minutes pass slowly, roaring highway noise from sport tires filling the car's cabin. The car's stiff suspension shakes as it turns into the driveway, definitely not suited to being in areas like this. "We're here."

Gretchen indulges in her autonav and gyro systems after the coast seems clear, and at least to all appearances, it's smooth sailing for the forty minute drive to Fort Lupton. The engine rumble does numb her legs, that's just part and parcel of riding a bike, but it's nothing new, and when she finally dismounts near Coyote Station, she paces, stretches and kicks her legs to get the blood flowing once again.

"Mm?"
Snapping out of his daze, the old borg frowns at the highway as they close in on Fort Lupton - and then Coyote Station. Grumbling, he holds out his hand to shake the kid awake - and to fetch his hat back as he speaks.. Doubling up on the transducer so Gretchen can stay in the conversation as well, not being in the same vehicle.

"It's a good a place as any to stretch our legs and catch a breather, but sure as ficker loves horn wax they'll be after her. What's our stop after this?"

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « There might be some hippies out in the sticks that would welcome new arrivals with open arms or something… » Gretchen keeps her peepers peeled and wracks her brain for any place that might serve as a bolthole to keep Euphoria secure for the rest of their tenure as her temporary guardians. Should they opt for a place where security is handled by machine gun turrets, or should they hide in plain sight? Should they head to a pacifist, tree-hugger camp in the wildlands? Cram into a pay-by-the-hour motel and just wait it out? — So many questions. In the meantime she fires up her bike once more after stretching and loops around the compound to the Coyote Station Gas & Go. « If worse comes to worst, we may just need to keep moving… »

With the hat gone from her head, and the shake awake of course, Euphoria stirs and opens her eyes to take in the new location. "Now this is nice.", she says, looking around at the cleaner than city surroundings, the woman wriggling to the edge of the seat so she can peek out the window and be in sight of her 'captors'.

Though she's eager to be nosy and catch everything that's going on, Euphoria also dips back out of sight if anyone is likely to spot her through the windscreen, not wanting to alert anyone to her very noticable presence. Hearing Gretchen's comments over the comm, she replies, « Somewhere in nature would be nice. A camp site? »

Two groans quietly, kicking his knees as he steps out of the car. The adrenaline of the chase is long gone, now only late night driving pains remain. He looks into the darkness, wondering how soon dawn is. He opens the westwind's gas cap and slots his credstick into the pump, then turns to Kraft, "Not sure. We've got, what, ten more hours? I need to see if they're still trying to get a lock on her." He turns to Euphoria and squints at her thoughtfully. « Hippies sound good, they're basically my people. We can probably get a meal and a little time to think. » Numbers on the gas pump rise quickly. « Astral looks pretty clean out here. Camp site might be good too. »

Grumbling to himself, the old man in the tin can steps out of the car, putting knuckles to back and stretching. Servoes whine as they get pulled out of their usual rotation and have to adjust, before he sighs.
"Damn. It's always hippies with you two, isn't it?"

And a glance aside to the Kid, before he throws up his hands and shakes his head. "Fine. Three to one. But they better have some damn good scotch or I'm knifing the first tree that tries to hug me back. Got any idea where we can find the goose lickers, sister?"

"Always hippies? With me?!" Gretchen stands by her Triumph, kickstand down, pulling back a certified credstick from the fuel pump as she turns to the borg. "Since when have I been all about peace and love?!"

"You and your joints, that's when."

Counters the old man, with a sardonic smirk. Just as a quick response.

As for where to find any of the aforementioned hippies, Gretchen mulls it over, gloved hand to breather-masked chin…

"Hey! Hey. Those are medicinal. They're like an asthma inhaler, but for dealing with bullshit." Two shoots his defense of joints over the roof of the car.

Before she comes up with anything, she jabs a finger at Kraft, smirking to herself behind her mask. "Getting stoned does not a hippie make, Tin Man."

"Yeah? You must have it on tap, then, Spooky."
Grouses Kraft to 2Josh, before Gretchen comes at him from the side. "Sure as hell doesn't make you a roller either, sister." Knowing when he's beat, the old borg retreats back to the car, resting his hand atop it as he glances inside.

".. How 'bout you, Kid?"

Something does finally occur to Gretchen, seeing as she travels south of Denver to the state once known as Arizona on a fairly regular basis. "Adams County Regional Park?" She shares some details and directions on how to get there, not a long drive from here at all, and loads up on convenience store stuffers before she leads the Westwind out to a place just off a local fairground for overnight camping. Decent plot of forest, secluded, but most importantly, it's not on anyone's radar.

The gas pump clicks off. Two closes the gas cap and turns his attentions towards where the team's going to hide out for the next few hours. "Sounds good. Hope you guys are okay with a bumpy ride, my suspension is not going to make this pleasant." The ride is most definitely not pleasant once the road surface stops being paved and maintained, but it makes its way out to the park.

Two leans against the car. It's eerily quiet out here. City noises and nature noises are so different. The only audible technology is what they brought with them - the whirr of servos from Kraft. The quiet 'tink tink tink' of the car's cooling exhaust. "Holiday's almost ever. You ready to go back home?" He says to Euphoria.

An unusued, secluded camping area is the perfect escape for Euphoria; she does like nature, her balcony at Pacific Towers was designed exactly like a tropical forest complete with rain and animal sounds, and a screen adjusting to a variety of views.

Deciding to enjoy her last few hours of freedom, she finds herself a large tree and sits herself down beneath it, resting her back against the trunk. Assuming her captors allow it of course. Even the day looks to be a nice one, a clear sky overhead that starts to light up with warmth as the sun slowly rises. "Except for the blindfold, this has been like a holiday.", she replies to Two, crossing her legs at the ankle, pondering her statement before correcting herself. "An escape."

The campsite is little more than a series of small clearings with simple outdoor grills on iron posts anchored into the ground in a patch of forest with simple paths linking them all. A questionable structure at one end of the campground offers restroom facilities, but it appears to have been without maintenance for some time.

Burn laws be damned, Gretchen's first act after another session of stretching is to wander the perimeter of the chosen campsite in search of kindling to begin making a small fire. Yes, she grabbed marshmallows and soydogs.

"Brother.."
Begins Kraft, addressing Spooky for the first time with a new nickname. "It's been a bumpy ride since I woke up with more moving parts than a crystler." Deadpan, the cigarette once more lit between lips. That's right, -smoking at the gas station-. Living on the edge! When it's time to go, he'll snub it out by pinching the tip. Pain editor on, pain editor off, never noticed. The burn mark gets scuffed on his jacket, and he's climbing back in again for another long ass drive.

And long ass nails it when they finally arrive. While the Kid's under a tree, Kraft's leaning against the Westwind, staring up at the clouds above. Lazily he lifts a hand, makes a gun-finger and points it up.
".. Hey, Cleo." Then back to the others, frowning. "Soydogs and marshmellows, eh? .. Anyone got a blender?"

Once the sun has begun its ascent and a little fire is crackling warmly, Gretchen makes her way to Euphoria and stares at her silently for a moment, deciding how to approach the prospect of removing the jackstopper. She stands with hands on hips, which, with the poncho taken into account, makes her look like a crimson diamond with a platinum top-point.

"Hold still. Pull your hair back…" She pulls out a small tube of solvent bought at the Gas & Go, along with a multitool from which a small set of pliers is snapped out.

Looking up as Gretchen approaches, Euphoria becomes instantly nervous again, the woman hasn't been the most accomodating since the very first day. Not wanting to be on the ground when the kicks start to land, Euphoria clambers to her feet, takes a wary step back until she bumps into the tree behind her.

"Oh.". The simstar relaxes slightly, very slightly, it could be a trigger substance knowing the person she's dealing with. Pulling her wavy brown hair aside, she reveals her datajack with the stopper firmly in place, breathes in and seems to hold it there while Gretchen goes digging.

"Yeah. Uh. Sorry about all that. I guess no matter what business you're in, it's pretty cutthroat." Two responds to Euphoria. The sun and clouds overhead seem completely unaware of the night's stresses. He yawns tiredly and applies himself to tending the soydogs on the fire while Gretchen performs 'surgery' on the simstar.

"Stop… Squirming..!" Gretchen wrestles with the 'cortex bomb' as a growl rises up in her throat. She accuses Euphoria of being at fault for the failed extraction, regardless of her cooperation and this goes on, and on, and on…

For over an hour…

But there's a silver lining to this cloud, and it goes by the name Marshmallows and Soydogs.

Two doesn't quite know what to do with himself in the wilderness. It's not his place. There's no sixty hertz hum to keep him company. The birds overhead aren't fat from feasting on garbage. Working the fire and handing everyone food is all he's got to occupy himself while Gretchen applies solvent to Euphoria's jack. It probably gets irritating after a while.

All throughout the process, Gretchen declines to admit that it's a mere hunk of plastic she's laboring away at. Once the grueling extraction is /finally/ over and done with, she frustratedly retires to the fire. As consolation for the awkward and potentially painful work performed on Euphie, she sharpens a stick with a few quick strokes from her pocket knife and holds it out to her — a silent offer to roast marshmallows with the woman.

Kraft, for his part, has taken to sitting back against the Westwind while the others sharpen sticks, munch on food, or - in the case of Euphoria - get the back of their heads messed with by a woman named Twitchy with a love of bombs and shotguns. Especially in the bathroom?
Keeping an eye on the neighborhood, as it is, about as far out of his element as a pile of turds on a clean white carpet.

Euphoria's one and only protest is, "I'm not squirming.", but then she stays silent as Gretchen continues her work. The personification of fan hate she receives from across the globe, the woman at her side is this time inescapable, unavoidable and even worse, required.

It's a painful procedure for the simstar, that much is obvious, and only a tiny margin of that is physical pain. When it's finally over, Euphoria drops onto the floor and leans against the tree, staying there for a while to let the anxiety escape.

The offer of marshmallows is refused with a faint shake of the head, but the woman does rise to her feet and come to join the others near the fire. "How much longer?", she asks, crossing her arms over her chest.

Gretchen frowns behind her mask but doesn't comment on the refusal of her begrudging, meager form of apology, and simply tosses Euphoria's sharpened stick into the flames.

"I've got an excuse, sweetheart. What's yours?"

Calls the old borg over to the fire, when he notes the kid refusing marshmellows. That wry, sardonic smirk crossing his features. "Watching your weight? Just tell your trainer we had a gun on you."

Gretchen barks out a quick laugh at that, snerking and smirking to herself.

Two Left Eyes delicately roasts a marshmallow with a stick. As smoke begins to rise from it, he lifts it free of the heat and blows any fire on it out. "Not much longer. Few hours." Even though the star turned away the stick, he offers his marshmallow to her. "Sorry about all this."

Watching her stick burn for a moment, Euphoria finally raises the courage to confront the haters. Turning to face Gretchen directly, she asks, "Why do you hate me? Is hating your thing, or something? I've tried to do everything you asked me. I never tried to escape, I never called for help, I even put that stupid blindfold back on for you and..", she puffs out a breath, throws her hands in the air, looks back to the fire. "I don't know. People are just weird.", the woman watching the flames, another shake of her head at Two's offer of a marshmallow.

Two deflates. Exhaustion is taking its toll and once again he's not feeling too great about discovering what he'll do for large sums of money. He takes his marshmallow and chews on it quietly. It seems guilt does a great job of shutting him up.

The German doesn't actually even eat her marshmallow, she just turns it over slowly, rotating the stick with small motions of her fingers as she watches it shrivel and burn. After a long moment, the sugary treat is no more than a charred lump, and she pulls out her knife and cuts a fresh point below where the previous marshmallow was, to let the sticky, burnt tip of the stick fall fully into the coals.

"Trust is a rare commodity," she murmurs through her breather as she snaps her knife shut and pockets it, then pierces a soydog and begins to heat it with the actual intent to eat it. "Not to be given away freely. You were… Less trouble than I initially assumed you would be…" Is that— Is Gretchen trying to be nice?!

Figuring at this point it'd take an air strike to get close to them in time - and there's no real defense against that except to get under cover - the old man in the tin can finally starts moving back towards the fire. It's not like he could help but overhear the conversation; Amplified hearing.

"We're not friends of yours, sweetheart." States Kraft, shooting right for the heart as usual. He doesn't look upset as he settles in, merely his usual bitter noir self. "Don't take it personal. You've got glim and glammer to go back too, riches and fame. For all you hate parts of it, sister, you're still wanting to go back. Us? Folks like us, that limelight'll get us strung up by our guts and left to shrivel. It's better for you and better for us if, once you get home, all you know is that you got to sit in a bad motel and eat cheap food for a few days with Spooky, Twitchy and.." A smirk. ".. Tin can. Besides, this is about as friendly as Twitchy gets.

As if expecting an attack in return, Euphoria seems tensed and ready to throw something back, but that drops the moment she hears Gretchen's reply. "Well..", knocked a bit off balance, she tries to find where to go from there, "That's good then.", the words coming slowly, still unsure what to say.

Looking up at Kraft, the simstar nods in understanding. "Maybe when all this is over and forgotten, we can meet up and I can take you somewhere nice, and you can take me somewhere awful.", the woman suggests with a little smile, "It'd make good research for my sims.". Taking her stick from the fire before it burns up, she gives Gretchen a little side smile and stabs the end into one of the marshmallows, before holding it out toward the flames. "I think it's going to be a nice day..", she says softly, looking up as the sun rises higher.

Gretchen finally raises a hand to unseal her mask, making a little hiss as the hermetic seal is broken. She lowers it to her lap, to reveal black lips and sharp white teeth, and in this quiet moment, she idly chews on her slightly blackened soydog sans bun and watches the slow passage of the sun through the treetops.

RELEASE

The hours tick onwards; there isn't a whole lot to do except talk and waste time. A call is made to Juan to inform him of the change of location, the incoming attack on the safehouse, and he arranges another location for the payment to be made; once Euphoria is released and they'd have word of her condition. Using the car radio, news of more riots are heard in Downtown Denver, when fans of Euphoria appeared and never saw their idol. Lone Star and Knight Errant break them up, most aren't there for violence, just angry and disappointed at being let down.

The time for the final appearance arrives and with it, the return to the CAS to release Euphoria and collect payment; when the vehicle reaches the city, the slot will have come and gone and the simstar will have missed her appointment, meaning the run is complete. Juan has decided to meet the team at a bar in the CAS district, low key and quiet, likely with very little patronage at this time of the day. Euphoria? Where she's dropped off is up to the team.

Mid-drive, on the way back into the city, Gretchen comms to the others. « There's a decent motel coming up in two exits. Should be a safe enough place to set her up with a room. She can call for a ride from there. I'll stay nearby and keep an eye out if you two want to go meet Juan? No telling how long it might take for her people to show. »

«Fair enough, sister. I'll handle the grinning mook and payday; Just try not to get mobbed when the fans start trying to .. what's the word? Ship you two?»

Despite the emotionless text-to-speech, one can -feel- the wicked smile of the old borg. For himself? It's time to pick up the Zephyr. It's only been parked for a day and some change at this point, but in that neighborhood it's more than enough to get problems if he's not lucky.
Then time for the meetup.

Two is staring at the road quietly, doing his best to ignore the talk of riots being dispersed on the radio. How much violence is he responsible for now? Even indirectly, it's a lot to have on your conscience. « That'll work. » Two murmurs into the comm. He turns his head and looks to the beautiful passenger in the back of his car, "This is going to be your stop. You can call your bodyguard. We'll make sure nobody does anything until they arrive." The westwind pulls into the motel parking lot.

Her phone having been left at the Towers, Euphoria has to use another, a burner phone from Gretchen's collection no doubt. She makes the call to her bodyguard, then bids her farewells to the team; wriggling forward on the seat so she can get close enough, she plants a kiss on Two's cheek, then, once out of the car and in front of Kraft, adjusts the 'Tin Man's' tie and nods to herself, "Much better.". A playful smile, then she waits for the team to leave before heading into the motel. The motel manager is especially surprised to see a simstar in his motel and immediately starts fawning over her, but keeps her out of the public eye by allowing her to use his private office to wait in, rather than a dirty old motel room.

It doesn't take long, the bodyguard and the simstars protection company, Knight Errant, go all out and use a VTOL to collect Euphoria, little more than a few minutes flight time. The VTOL lands in the parking lot and a squad of Knight Errant flood out, covering in all directions, while her bodyguard makes his way to the motel and the manager inside. Leading the simstar back out, with a little hearing enhancement she can be heard telling him, "I didn't see them, they kept me blindfolded…", covering for the team even after they've left.

The squad of Knight Errant return to the VTOL once Euphoria is safely inside, and with a heavy whine the aircraft lifts off, spins and heads back in the direction of the Pacific Tower building.

"Um. Uh. Mm." Two's struck with a different kind of speechlessness. His face turns red. He stares at the steering wheel, unable to say goodbye with any real words. When Kraft is back in the passenger seat, the westwind's engine revs and the vehicle pulls out of the parking lot. Time to collect the cyborg's Zephyr, then collect the group's pay.

A sardonic smirk crosses the old man's fake face when his tie is straightened, a single hand brought up slowly to knuckle Euphoria's jaw. "Don't let us keep you, kid." For all that she might've been a source of stress, she did her best considering. And then it's time to get back in and join Two on the way to pick up his ride.

"Hell of a weekend, Spooks?"

Following the grand procession, a small figure draped in crimson slips out of hiding in an alley with a clear line of sight on the motel. As the VTOL takes to the air, Gretchen uncovers her motorcycle by casting aside the cardboard boxes leaned up against it, and sets out to meet with her cohorts.

FINAL PAYMENT

The bar, The Holdout, is a small local business, nothing more than a single room that is twice as long as it is wide, a bar running the length. In one of the booths sits Juan, no longer waiting for confirmation on Euphoria's condition as it's already all across the news by the time you reach the bar. Euphoria has returned, her kidnappers released her this afternoon, Knight Errant picked her up at a motel outside of town. No further news is available but reports tell that the star is in good health. There is no report of why she was released, though there are currently unsubstantiated rumors of a large ransom fee.

Not wanting to stay any longer than necessary, Juan congratulates you on a job well done and hands over the final payment on three uncertified credsticks. "Enjoy.", he tells you, before leaving you at the bar, which does stock a good supply of whiskey.

Paycheck, meet Whiskey. Whiskey? Paycheck. Gretchen hits the bar…

"Hell of a weekend. I'm tired as shit. I need a drink, a shower, a change of clothes, and then another drink." Two tries his hand at grousing. It's amateur hour, but maybe in thirty years he'll be as good as the cyborg in his passenger seat.

At the meet, Two stays fairly quiet. He sits in the booth, eager to get that drink under his belt and pocket a credstick. A job well done. Or close enough to well done.

"It doesn't get better, Spooks. It really doesn't. All you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other until you're home or you're dead. If you're real lucky, those two are different spots."

Nothing grumbles like the bitter black heart of a noir riddled cyborg. "Cheer up. AT least you didn't catch lead in the spine. I've still got the wind playing dixie when it blows just right."

Money in the fist, bullets in the gun, and drinks on the bar. Twitchy's not drinking alone tonight when Kraft rolls in, hopefully with a heartbroken Spooky at his side.

With the job completed, Gretch is more inclined to revert to an actual personality, chatting more openly than over the course of the weekend, and due to the easy-to-ID nature of her poncho, she's tucked it away in that damn carry-on luggage case she's been packing around for three days now. She wears her new thrift store jacket with the embroidered golden scorpions, circle shades, Carpenter Brut t-shirt cut into a tank top, black skinny jeans and ankle boots, and comments on "Amanda" to the others as she raises a shot of neat whiskey. "She was a good sport, I'll give her that. I could sympathize with her, but… I guess I felt the need to not fuck around, right?" She exhales a sharp breath through her nostrils, nods to herself, then knocks her shot back.

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