Residents: Evil?

RESIDENTS: EVIL?

GM: Simone
Players: Seraphim, Simone
Synopsis: Seraphim and Simone encounter each other (as Adelaie and Gretchen, respectively) at a diner where Simone's magical nature surfaces against her will, making her physically ill. They both leave at the same time and Seraphim offers to accompany the German girl to her destination since she appears unwell. Along the way, the duo are accosted by a subterranean group whose turf tags Simone unwittingly defaced some time ago, but a strange elf and his faithful hound provide assistance in escaping their foul clutches.
Date: January, 2075


LIBBY'S DINER

«Plot» Simone says, "Going with Denver +time and +weather (2am, overcast, just below freezing, light breeze) and UCAS district."

Everywhere the world is incandescent, an evening which seems brighter for the lights that shine from every window and building. There is no cessation of daylight to be had until the business day ends. At the moment Adelaie Richards has just emerged from the office of an Universal Omnitech building, her footsteps ringing softly against the ground at her feet as she walks. Long blonde hair floats across the girl's shoulders emphasizing every step. Crystalline blue eyes scan those surrounding her. Subtly she flexes the fingers of her gloved left hand. In, out. In, out. Testing those nerves and grimacing faintly at the response she gains. They assured her that she would be seen as soon as an appointment became available. Hopefully that would be before next week.

Adelaie passes through the crowd quietly, a young, beautiful elf shrouded in a long coat and wearing the usual designer clothing appropriate to B and higher security areas full of corporate life. Out of habit she listens to every conversation surrounding her as she passes. Any keywords or details that connect to things she is interested in will automatically be filed away. There's no way to avoid it, not with the way her brain has been expanded and modified. It would be harder to forget. This idle eavesdropping is done without looking and compounded by the fact Adelaie has, at present, nowhere in particular she needs to be.

«Plot» Simone says, "You find yourself in need of a meal, badly, and it's about time to take your anticoagulants as well, judging by the time on the countless holodisplays on the shopfronts in the area."

Grimacing faintly Adelaie slowly shakes her head, turning to cast her gaze across each of the nearby shops in turn. Her glasses darken in response to the neon brilliance striking them, for once the transition lenses not being used as a cover for computer activity. A thoughtful frown is working its way across the pale elf's lips. This is no time for her to be grabbing something from one of the nearby soydog vendors. Another flicker of a grimace confirms this, her fingers twitching involuntarily for a split second. She needs to sit down. Adelaie picks her way out onto the street to seek out the nearest cafe and find herself a nice table with a window. Right now she is completely legitimate and there is no reason to hide.

Traffic is light, and the dedicated drones direct the flow with ease from their positions in and around the area intersections. The corped-out pedestrians keep largely to themselves but seem to be in constant communication with remote social or business contacts, almost exclusively talking to people not actually present on the street through implanted or handheld devices. Few metas roam the area, and those that do are immaculately groomed to make up for preconceived notions in the minds of the predominant human population.

header_diner.jpg

A corner cafe/diner presents itself to the elf, Adelaie, as she searches out her desired destination in earnest — Libby's, its slowly rotating holo-signpost claims, and highly stylized footage of scientifically-proven hunger-inducing food preparation plays on the display along with an interactive menu which allows one to order before even setting foot inside.

Adelaie orders quickly at the cafe kiosk while standing outside the doors. Anything which sounds marginally less processed than the rest of the items on hand is selected, even if it is a bit pricey. Real vegetables are simple enough; meat might be pounded within an inch of its life, but she will manage. For once, out of all the people gathered in the area, she seems to enjoy a moment alone with her own thoughts and an entirely nonsentient interface. After the order is placed but just before she confirms Adelaie pauses, turns her head slightly toward the door. The young woman wavers slightly, akin to a shiver on a passing breeze. What it is is a memory, one induced by the scent of someone passing. She was on her way to work on a day much like this. She herself was one of those corp drones. There were too many people…

It is another ten or fifteen seconds before Adelaie snaps out of it. The kiosk is beeping at her, a final confirmation requested. She quickly jams her hands against the button to accept her order and then shuffles inside to take stock of her surroundings. "It isn't like me to daydream…" It is more subvocalized than muttered, but accompanied with the appropriate mild vexation. Adelaie heads right for a window table now, making quick strides. The food will catch up to her there.

The cafe's SmartServ system captures the elf's likeness from her interaction with the kiosk and tracks her movement through the interior to her chosen table to ensure that she is the correct recipient of the streetside order. This is commonplace in today's food service industry, and is integrated with offsite security, understandably.

From Adelaie's position, she can watch the night traffic slink past uneventfully, the streets well-lit by the corner businesses. The Rockies would be visible rising above the Denver skyline in the distance if not for the overcast weather and the late hour, but otherwise, the UCAS street corner is lit nearly as bright as day from all the building-mounted ads, streetlights and safety drones.

for+Peet%2527s+sake_red+hair_black+coat.jpg

Before the woman's food arrives, another curious passerby begins to inspect the exterior holo-kiosk, a small female figure in a slim-fitting olive parka and leather leggings. She appears quite chilled and punches a few hasty buttons before easing her way inside.

Adelaie would not even have noticed the newcomer if not for the way she stopped before the kiosk. obviously this person is not hiding their presence and so they are unlikely to notice that a girl in transitions is observing them quietly past her sandwich and soykaf from a corner booth not too far from the door. Adelaie slowly stretches her long legs beneath the table in front of her and takes a deep breath, one which causes her chest to rise and fall, bouncing slightly. The jacket slides down her shoulders slowly. Just another young woman enjoying her evening on her way home. Her newest subject of inquiry is tracked across the floor with moderate interest. An elf needs hobbies, after all.

The new arrival is quite well-concealed in her coat — hood up, bunched scarf nestled up nearly to her nose — but she moves with some amount of grace, at least enough to demonstrate that she is likely in her twenties. Beneath the ring of faux fur around the hood's edge, a small sweep of blood red-dyed bangs is visible over a pair of fogged black-rimmed glasses, and her cheeks are flushed with color from the cold.

The girl enters the glass doors, lightly stamping her ankle boots to rid them of slush. She removes the glasses, swipes them dry with the cuff of a sleeve then slides them back into place. A moment passes as she stands still while seeking out a destination with shoulders hunched deep into the coat and arms wrapped tight around herself. Window seats are always a plus, so she makes her way to a table near Adelaie, a nice booth with a view.

Redheaded, thin. Early or middle twenties judging by manner movement, mode of dress and alacrity. Glasses, possibly as a fashion statement given the availability and efficacy of both surgery and contact lenses combined with the girl's location. Dyed hair of an as yet indeterminate colour… Caucasian? Without even thinking of doing so Adelaie finds herself thoroughly profiling the young woman moving to sit so close to her. No words are spoken, of course. She takes a bite of her sandwich as she looks, letting the hot steam waft over her for now. She takes a deep breath and does her best to relax, leaning back into the seat she has taken. Another glance over the cafe shows there is nothing- and no one- else of note here. This being the case she settles in, trying to shake that nagging in the back of her mind. It isn't necessarily the girl. Whenever a Mnemonic Enhancer goes buggy things like this start to occur… She grimaces, struggling to put her newest headache out of her mind. Again, her hand flexes involuntarily. It almost seems weird that it is whole.

The girl's glasses are still chilled from the exterior air, and fog up once again after she seats herself. She removes them and pulls her hood down, then squints down at the eyewear as she gives the condensation another wipe, then holds them up to the light, still squinting. They're hastily placed back on and she settles in, unzipping the parka which is shrugged out of to reveal a thin, black, short-cut motorcycle jacket underneath. She then shakes her head to let her hair drape a bit over her face while her body makes a last, shivering protest against the night's chill. Now settled, she begins rooting through her parka pockets which clack with the muffled yet telltale sound of a can of spraypaint. Nothing else on earth makes that particular noise. She comes up with a small 6" by 8" hardback book and sets it before her.

Libby's may rely on tech for taking orders, but they do employ real people for the actual delivery of food. The section server drops off two plates for the red-haired girl along with a steaming mug and a glass of water before checking on the elf. "Everything satisfactory?"

The red-haired girl starts clinking the table-standard condiment bottles together in search of something but seems to come up empty.

"Absolutely. Thank you." Adelaie takes a split second longer than might be expected to respond, but when she does so the elf offers a polite smile and nods once. "If I need to order anything else I will send it via drone." Of course. Once the server has stepped away she takes a deep breath and then slowly tilts her head to the left. Another scan of Simone follows, details carefully noted and then dismissed in a manner that states clearly, 'within ordinary parameters'. This ends when blue eyes land on a hardcover book.

There's a low noise made deep in Seraphim's throat as she considers this development, her attention starting to be drawn to the young woman in earnest now. She takes another bite of her sandwich, chewing and swallowing as if to find a way to refocus her mind and failing. Too many memories, jumbled and juxtaposed with the rest of her thoughts. A habit that is too familiar…

Glasses girl hunkers as deep into her booth seat as physically possible and rests an elbow on her table, the side that faces the rest of the cafe. The hand of this arm is placed in such a way as to cover her face while allowing it to support her head by resting her cheek against it, and she alternates eating and page-flipping with the free hand. She occasionally peeks at the street or at the other cafe patrons when she sips from her mug, taking discreet glances with dark, sunken eyes surrounded by black rings of smudged eyeliner — although her attempts at discretion might perhaps be extremely obvious. She's just about as nervous as a person can be without acting out.

Adelaie finally shakes her head and slowly comes to her feet. A careful breath is taken inward and then exhaled. She does not try to conceal her approach toward the red haired girl nor does she make any threatening moves. There is a faint flush on Adelaie's cheeks. In any ordinary person it would not be visible, but with her lack of melanin even the slightest rush of blood to the skin has a visible effect. It accentuates her eyes rather than drawing undue attention, much like applying makeup might do. "Excuse me, miss. I apologize for being so forward but I couldn't help but notice your book. You see those so rarely I think I forgot my manners." All of this is true enough. When all else fails sometimes being genuine is the only fallback. Adelaie has no intention of being remotely dangerous right now. Far from it.

The reader inhales a sharp breath and freezes in place at the elf's approach, not seeming to exhale. Just one of her eyes is visible past the upheld hand and the draping bangs, and it darts from side to side as she racks her brain for some response, any response…

«Plot» Simone says, "The book appears to have a great deal of illustrated occult symbology and accompanying text."

"Ah… I see." Adelaie catches sight of what is on the pages there before shifting those blue eyes back to Simone. She pauses, steadying herself for a second and then taking a deep breath. "You would prefer I left you alone. Please forgive me. My name is Al-" A pause, just for the briefest second. "Adelaie Richards," she finishes, that beat hardly registering as a pause for most ears. "I'll leave you be. I apologize for intruding." With that she moves to turn away, though not too quickly.

With a hasty move (although poorly timed, since the elf has already seen the contents), the red-haired girl flips the book closed and makes an effort to distract and conceal by fiddling with her glasses, repositioning them before lowering her hand. She then ventures a cautious glance as the woman turns away, and against her better judgment, continues to watch from the narrow field of view beneath her eyebrows and above the rim of her glasses, scrutinizing through the narrow part that her bangs don't conceal. "Gretchen," she offers in exchange. A simple response, nearly whispered, and in a slight German accent (the pronunciation of the 'r' gives it away), but enough to at least feign social grace to a limited extent.

Adelaie looks back toward Gretchen and begins to offer the girl a brilliant smile. it lights up her features, helping to tear away some of the shadows and the thoughtful contrition which had been offered only seconds before. "It is a pleasure, Gretchen. I didn't mean to interrupt your reading, truly. Just… Curiosity got the better of me, I suppose." The girl is given another look, this one unabashedly obvious. There is comfort to be had in knowing that someone who is looking at you does not do so surreptitiously, that they do not consider their observation to be clandestine. In this case it is only a moment and then she seems to consider turning away once more. "I will be a table away." Adelaie too speaks in near whispers, wide blue eyes studying Simone with a quiet intensity before finally breaking their grasp as she steps away toward her seat once more.

GM Note: Simone is occasionally unable to repress her magical ability, and due to a failed WIL vs MAG roll, she unwillingly assensed Adelaie/Seraphim, and the astral perception made her sick to her stomach.

Gretchen is suddenly afflicted with spasms that cause her back to arch, and her hands clutch at the edge of her table with enough force to upset the objects laid out; her plates clink together, the silverware rattles, the condiment bottles make a dissonant chiming. The girl heaves forward, nearly planting her face on the surface before bolting for the restroom.

The graveyard shift server, a 30-something human woman takes a few cautious steps toward the German girl as she stumbles and lurches for the restroom a hunched-over blur of black and red with a hand over her mouth. "Excuse me—" The server hesitates, turns to Adelaie. "Is she alright?"

While Gretchen takes off toward the restroom Adelaie slowly takes a deep breath and then shakes her head. She moves over to the table, considering where Gretchen had been sitting for a few seconds. Then her hands move to rest on the edge of the table and she leans forward very slightly. Gloves are worn at all times and these are no exception, even as her right hand delves inside of a pocket in order to search through them and come up with a small pouch of medicines. Pills are selected, two of them, and set beside the German girl's cup. To the server Adelaie states clearly, "She is feeling unwell, but I think she will be fine." Quietly severe, without being unkind. She knows how this must look to serving staff. It is, after all, a restaurant.

Gretchen bursts through the swinging door into the women's room and takes some time to sort herself out, effectively disappearing for enough time to relieve her stomach and try to suppress the flurry of paranoia, shame and acute self-consciousness, not to mention the banishing of the otherworldly sense that forcibly interjected itself into her perception like a dam bursting.

The server seems to accept Adelaie's explanation but her cheeks redden and she goes about trying to tend to the other customers in an effort to ensure that she won't lose tips for the unseemly actions of the red-haired bitch puking in the bathroom at 2am.

Adelaie quietly returns to her seat without another word, slipping into it and taking up the task of breathing slowly and evenly to ensure that she herself remains calm. She watches Gretchen's spot at the table discretely, taking up her soykaf once more. It is gently nursed, almost all warmth having left it. The sandwich is quickly finished. This leaves nothing for her to do but wait. In an effort to appear to be less of a dead weight Adelaie does order a small pastry, which she nibbles on as she considers everything that is occurring with some intensity. There are no movements made, no words spoken as the young woman sits and allows her thoughts to percolate. The name of the girl she nearly ran into in that alley was Gretchen…? Was that the correct alias for the young runner she'd heard of? As for the hints of Adelaie past continuously trying to merge with her current surroundings… She is well aware that none of that is real, current. When she is entirely lucid, at least.

The girl reluctantly returns from the restroom after rinsing her mouth, first cracking the door to peer through, then steeling herself to make a walk of shame back to her seat. She hastily begins to gather her coat and book, but the pills are of particular interest and she turns to the elf, giving a sidelong glance with knitted eyebrows and shame branded across her cheeks nearly as red as her hair color. She can't make eye contact, but she's obviously looking that direction as she slips into her coat hurriedly.

"They help," Adelaie murmurs in response to that look, in a voice designed not to be overheard by anyone further away. "Unless you are afflicted with a severe form of cancer. But only when you feel it oncoming…" She was waiting for that look, felt it on her almost before she herself looked up. There is no judgment in those blue eyes, little other than a calm, clear statement of fact. her eyes follow the girl's movements carefully, considering the colour of her features in tandem with other attributes. Those who might be staring for that walk of shame are eventually fixed with a glare, though discretely done so as to help keep Gretchen unaware.

Unbeknownst to Simone, any inquisitive onlookers are deterred from staring by the elven woman's stern look, returning to their own plates, though some may whisper among themselves about the 'drunk girl' or the 'junkie' or any other sort of preconceived notions they may have. Simone would be thankful for the gesture on Adelaie's behalf if she had the courage to actually look up and take note of the polite ignorance being granted by the other customers.

The server approaches, sidestepping gingerly into Simone's field of view with her head angled out to the side. "Everything okay," she asks cautiously, with lips pressed into a thin line, but some concern in her eyes. "Just… bad cramps…" That's all Simone can force out as she zips her parka up and twists her infinity scarf into a double loop and tugs it over her head. She curtly jabs a credstick at the woman, eager to be gone from this place. The server gets the hint and moves to the counter where she runs the payment. Simone looks back toward Adelaie's general direction, hoping her excuse is accepted, then reaches forward to take the pills in the palm of one hand to be considered.

Adelaie doesn't interrupt Simone further as the girl is making her way through the motions of paying for her food. She looks up as eyes come to rest on her, however, taking a deep breath as she does so. It is obvious she is looking at the same time as the other girl despite the fact they are not quite orienting on one another. Just to see what is being thought as Simone makes to pass her. It is about this time that Adelaie rises and begins to move, quietly disposing of her sandwich wrapping and cup. 'Gretchen' will decide what happens next, largely through her reaction.

Gretchen pockets the loose pills with a bit of a hesitant nod in the elf's direction. This seems to be her way of offering thanks, but due to the nature of her poor state the girl knows they won't likely help. The gesture is appreciated though, and she tries to express that in her minimal way. The server returns the credstick on a small plastic tray that is just large enough to not get lost in an apron pocket. A little touch pad is built in for signing and adding gratuity, so the German girl uses the credstick as a stylus, signs and offers a generous tip for her embarrassing actions and begins to move toward the door.

Though Adelaie is not overtly following Gretchen it would soon become obvious, should the girl's gaze happen backward to see who might be about, that the blonde elf is also headed in that direction. This is hardly an unusual choice of destination following a visit to a diner after a long day's work in the corporate sector of the city, however, and movement would soon take Adelaie into the crowd and very possibly out of sight. Adelaie takes those steps easily, passing through the doors not long after her newfound acquaintance and then letting her mind wander as steps carry her through the thinning crowds. The world is a place that is stark and unforgiving, the brilliance of the lights searing the eyes and bringing not warmth but a sense of sterility. It harkens back to an earlier time in the girl's life…

The lights overhead are fluorescent, a glow nearly halogen in brightness which helps to add to the brilliance of the room. White… Everything is white. Including the girl's hair and her skin. Violet eyes consider the doctor in front of her as she listens to her name being spoken. She is supposed to respond…

The person actually speaking Adelaie's name is a concerned passersby. He might be more concerned for the fact that her brief reverie interrupted his usual routine walk to his vehicle but he still offers her those words. "Are you alright?" She nods once without quite responding and then continues her walk more quickly. Her coat is gathered around her to ward off the chill of the evening.


Ares Macrotechnology Campus Monorail Station, UCAS Sector

8324435211_d973bd47ff_h.jpg

This done, Adelaie heads quickly for the monorail station, her steps bearing her forward with a surprising grace given the sudden sense of vertigo, headache and faint nausea associated with her dissociative states. Somehow she still manages to make excellent time on her way to the station.

Simone walks the route to the monorail station with her hood pulled up and hands thrust deep into the pockets of her coat. She turns her head from side to side, but with no peripheral vision to speak of she fails to notice the other woman until she reaches an intersection that requires a turn to the left and the mounting of a small footbridge to cross over traffic which deposits pedestrians in a full block-sized corporate tower's brickwork entry plaza. Creatively sculpted statues are placed near elaborate planters and seating areas, but the space is wide open and visibility is clear. The monorail station is across the clearing, but the girl halts partway into the pedestrian-only zone and watches the elf. She seems nervous, but is obviously waiting the other's approach, and is not trying to hide that fact.

Big Brother is most definitely watching this area, and the German has chosen this exposed location to make a confrontation in the hopes that it may dissuade any potential danger from occurring, either from predators in the shadows or from the elf herself.

Among the other pedestrians, some of whose faces jump out at her as those of people she knows. She greets some politely and others she banishes from her mind as if trying to blink off the last vestiges of a nightmare. Nearly a third of the people Adelaie does greet look pleasantly puzzled but return the greeting. Business is fickle, after all, and some people may remember you from meetings you hardly recall going to the year before. Eventually, however, those blue eyes find the girl watching her. Adelaie shifts herself to walk in that direction, moving with careful, purposeful strides. It is not long before she reaches the one watching her. "Hello, Gretchen." The words are not quite whispered, spoken coolly and yet with more warmth than Adelaie has shown others. It is her way. She'll wait to see what the other has to say.

The German's first words as Adelaie approaches are in the form of a question. She had initially intended to accuse the elf of following her, but she looks puzzled and instead says, "…Who were you talking to?" She peers at the elf over her glasses, black-rimmed eyes staring hard out of the darkness of the parka hood's depths, illuminated by a reflected glimmer of safety lighting from the plaza.

"Who was I talking to?" There is a pause as Adelaie considers this question and then she shakes her head slowly. "Back there? In the crowd? I…" She licks her pale lips lightly, frowns faintly as her answer goes through the rigors of one being thought out so as to be true and correct. Those black rimmed eyes are met squarely and without fear. "I thought I might have been speaking to Herr Doktor Owen Marius Marston. I was incorrect." The way she states the name in a German pretense is not quite disdainful, but affected. Adelaie does not speak German. Owen obviously took a stab at it, however.

The girl's face is sternly set, with an uncharacteristic piercing, narrowed glare and a hard-set jaw with lips pursed. She is most definitely skeptical of the explanation. Her hands remain in her pockets and she seems tensed for fight or flight. "Why are you following me?"

"I'm not following you," Adelaie responds slowly, her expression shifting from a thoughtful stoicism to a faint frown. "I had dinner and then I came to the monorail station to catch a train home. I suspect the last twenty people to leave that diner did something similar." She might seem vaguely put out by this suggestion, but is more puzzled than annoyed. The woman's voice remains largely calm and even. "What would you imagine I'd have done that is less suspicious?"

Simone's expression shifts into that final stage of skepticism before one has to accept someone's explanation, which is to say, the critical look is exaggerated before it settles begrudgingly into cautious reluctance. She slowly turns to orient herself back toward the station entrance and takes slow steps, the dull clicking of her low heels on the brick blending into the ambient sounds of the other foot traffic and the droning of passing engines just outside the plaza. She seems to be wordlessly offering to walk with the curious woman judging by her slowed pace, but time is a factor of course, thus the abrupt turn.

Adelaie walks with Simone when the offer is made, moving smoothly to come into step with the red haired girl. There is silence for a few seconds as she travels, letting the surprisingly quiet footsteps she seems to take so naturally become lost in the din surrounding the pair. She states in her carefully pitched, sotto voce voice, "Were you expecting to be followed?" A question that, while similar to poking the bear, is one likely to cross someone's mind at this point in time. All things considered as they are. Taking a deep breath Adelaie watches others pass quietly, doing her best to not quite crowd the other woman. "I apologize for making things so awkward tonight."

Simone/Gretchen makes a very faint start at the question about expecting to be followed but refrains from responding; she simply keeps walking after her head nearly turns to angle her narrow field of view up to the elf. She stops mid-motion though and faces forward once more to continue walking apace. At the apology, she actually does turn, for the sake of making momentary eye contact over the top of her glasses. Her eyebrows are raised in slight disbelief and she responds with, "No, I should apologize for making a scene at Libby's." She removes one of her hands from a pocket and gestures a thumb back over her shoulder vaguely. The extraction causes her pocket to rattle with the telltale clack of a spray can once again. "…I don't know what happened…" She frowns and her nostrils flare for a brief second before she re-pockets the hand.

"Which is why you shouldn't have to apologize," Adelaie responds in a frank, sincere tone. "I have made my own share of scenes involuntarily. The worst you did was feel a bit ill, which was no business of anyone's except the staff. I was considering filing a formal complaint at their treatment of customers who might well have become sick on their food. UCAS still takes the treatment of citizens seriously." This is stated quite simply and without pretense. "I wouldn't worry about it if I were you." A pause before Adelaie continues. "In any case… It is done now. Where are you headed?" She adds a beat later in a faintly amused tone, "Though perhaps it would be too many coincidences if our destinations are too similar."

The women approach the elevated mag-lev station at the far end of the UCAS sector's Ares corporate campus, coming to a wide set of stairs done in the same brickwork style as the rest of the plaza. The lighting is thorough, and many late-night pedestrians pass them on their way to and from the train, the majority of whom have the Ares Macrotechnology logo emblazoned on their corporate-wear.

At the base of the stairs Simone pauses to address the elven woman. "It wasn't the food." She shakes her head and takes a sidelong glance at Adelaie, suspicious that the elf may actually know what happened to her but is covering it remarkably well. When asked where she's headed, Simone hesitates, then points along the elevated tracks to the west. "…Ah, toward the FTZ." She narrows her eyes to see if the woman's destination is 'coincidentally' along the same route. "CAS Sector…"

The top of the stairway opens onto an expansive train platform with covered benches, small kiosks and a guard station at each end. Multiple tracks allow for both eastbound and westbound traffic, and among the Ares-centric crowd are a small smattering of corp-security guards keeping the peace simply by being present.

Adelaie presses through the crowd alongside Simone to reach the base of the stairs heading up to the mag-lev. She takes a deep breath as she leans her head back, staring up toward the station positioned overhead. There's a soft sigh from the elf as she considers this. A pause follows and then Adelaie states clearly, "Not quite the same destination, but close. You seem worried. Would you like me to accompany you a short way?" The offer is given without any real malice or attachment. Adelaie is either friendly or faking it well.

Once boots slap against the ground at the edge of the platform Adelaie turns her gaze on the security guards. They get a greeting smile, as one might do with something familiar and safe. This alias, at least, has nothing to fear from corporate security.

The trains are no louder than a rumbling vehicle engine, and they run like clockwork, arriving and departing every few minutes to load and offload a seemingly endless flood of bodies. The station itself is kept immaculately clean, due in large part to the proximity to the triple-A campus, but other stations are not so well-maintained, often covered with graffiti, litter, and filled with miscreants, junkies and other ne'er-do-wells.

Simone looks from side to side and takes up a position with her back to a low brick planter at the top of the stairs so as not to be sneaked up on. "Well, if you're heading west, we'll need to share a train anyway." She shrugs and nods slightly to accept the elf's offer to travel together, but her parka hood stays on a swivel, peering at the passersby. She seems tense, like an animal ready to flee a predator.

"Yes, we will." That is stated flatly and Adelaie accompanies it with a gentle nod. She starts toward the platform, though she slows as Simone first starts to lag behind her.

"Gretchen?" Now Adelaie calls out softly, as if to ensure the woman will be sure to come with her to the train.

A train labeled West Line creeps into the station from a location to the east, likely the small suburb of Bennett, and spews forth its middle-class pedestrian cargo. Simone gestures to the train and waves Adelaie along toward the turnstiles — advanced archways equipped with an array of various sensors to deter the homicidally-inclined from bringing dangerous chemicals, implants and weaponry onto the trains. They require the slotting of a SIN-bearing credstick, extract the fee, then allow passage through. The German girl readies her stick and takes up a place in line at one of the archways before a sliding door into a train car.

The station is huge. More than one train arriving and going… And arriving again. Several rails in all directions. For a moment the noise is overwhelming. The raw series of stimuli seem to have the young elven woman frozen in place. The gesture is not immediately responded to.

Adelaie steps into motion and quickly presses through the turnstiles, passes the scanners and slots her credstick for the payment to be made. Somehow the blonde ends up directly beside Simone on the train. She effortlessly moves between the other people in the crowd to reach her desired place.

The women find themselves shouldered into a place near the center of their chosen car, and with all surrounding seats occupied, must hold onto the vertical poles or those that run the length of the car at various heights to account for the different metatypes.


Denver City Center, Neglected Pedestrian Tunnels

The trip itself is a short one with only a few brief stops before the automated voice chimes out with, "Now approaching - Denver City Center - Free Trade Zone - Exit to the right." This stop will deposit the women just a short distance north of where Simone's ultimate destination lies, but as anyone who rides the public transit system knows, this particular stop has stairways that descend beneath the streets into a catacomb of old pathways. The proper street level was built up in order to provide more pedestrian space, and the tunnels here have developed quite a bad reputation.

Adelaie exits at the City Center stop alongside Simone without any hesitation. She adjusts the coat she is wearing, carefully tucking the buttons shut as she orients herself toward the city. Wide blue eyes survey the city skyline for a long moment before the blonde elf takes a deep breath. It goes without saying that Simone is in the lead at the moment.

Long careful strides are taken, Adelaie manipulating her height to make the trip as smooth and relaxed as possible. A few inches of length in the legs lowers the number of required strides by quite a bit. Adelaie practices what might be termed 'economy of motion'. No muscle movements are wasted, as if she is used to conserving her energy.

STATION-superJumbo.jpg

Simone does a rapid trot down the stairs into the sub-street walkways; large, cavernous paths that were once the normal street level but were repurposed to account for the sprawl's 3-dimensional expansion, then abandoned by the city. "Have you been here before?" the girl asks Adelaie. "It can be a bit shady…" The tunnels are less packed than the streets near the Ares complex, and anyone who looks at all reputable seems to speed up on their way through, either due to the reputation of the place or the hour, or a combination of both. Numerous electronic kiosks can be found lining walkways or grouped into small clusters, offering anything from food to disposable electronics and clothing for the corper on the go. Lastly, there are various groups of loiterers scattered all about, ranging from street punks with bottles of booze in their hands, to homeless people sleeping in corners, to breakdancers gathered around portable stereos.

"I know my way around," Adelaie responds simply, matching Simone's pace without hesitation. She does not seem to be perturbed by her surroundings, surveying those around them with a stern expression clouding her countenance. "Shady, but not as bad as some areas." Just that and then Adelaie is silent. The kiosks are considered and summarily dismissed. Similarly for certain groups of punks and homeless denizens. People who pay the young, well dressed elf little mind and so merit little in return.

Many of the ever-present cameras that one would expect in the city center have been vandalized, and although there is supposed to be a strong security presence in the area, it's not nearly as secure as the city might claim. Graffiti becomes rampant the further the women travel, and Simone guides Adelaie into a branch off of the main path that seems to have been forgotten by the city itself. This area seems to have even developed its own mini-economy judging by the lack of electronic kiosks which have been replaced by properly metahuman-owned-and-operated ones. There are even small shanty-type 'neighborhoods' tucked away in some of the distant off-shoot tunnels, where many of the tunnel-dwellers reside to avoid the constant electronic surveillance found topside. Nearly everyone in this area is wearing thick clothing that is obviously a giveaway for ballistic protective-wear, and there seem to be a proliferation of personal defense weapons worn visibly to dissuade thieves.

"Are you hungry?" Simone tries to guide the elf toward a food stand, one of many, but this one in particular offers doner kebabs, a variant of gyros. It's probably best not to inquire about the massive, rotating meat-product cone which the worker shaves with a large blade to load each sandwich before applying sauces and garnish.

A fellow elf in a leather outfit consisting of loose pants and a vest is staring Adelaie up and down from across the aisle in this little cart zone. The light level is low, but elves are known for their ability to see in such conditions quite well, and the woman spots the man straight away, as well as the knife and pistol at his belt. He doesn't turn away.

"Yes," Adelaie responds quietly to the question. She cocks her head slightly to the left afterward, watching as the rotisserie continues to spin. She steps forward and reaches out with gloved hands, placing an order for one of the sandwiches alongside Simone. For a second afterward Adelaie purses her lips faintly, as if looking for something specific. The elf approaching may well be unaware that she caught sight of him in a reflection off the grungy kiosk in front of her.

Adelaie doesn't dress like the people here. Her clothing is less obviously armoured to those who are not looking for it and her weapon isn't visible. The elf's confidence might easily be attributed to arrogance and naivete. Without reacting overtly Adelaie keeps her attention oriented somewhat on the well armed elf now approaching. "Do you come here often?" If the conversation suddenly ends the elf might sense something is off.

The cart-server slices up the 'meat' for the women's sandwiches, dresses them and wraps them in thin foil before sliding them over. Simone pays for hers and tears into it, responding while chewing. "Sometimes, yes. I think of it like going to the airport to imagine I'm on my way somewhere else." Whether or not this makes any sense, the girl busies herself with her doner, actually having to insert the wrapped sandwich within the faux fur-lined hood to take each bite. Her lack of peripheral sight prevents her from noticing that the elf has begun to approach, but the food has provided her some comfort, lessening her tension, though she does eat rather rapidly.


An Elf's Offer

air-norman-reedus-103725.jpg

"Ladies~" The elf saunters up to the pair, offering his greeting along with a sneering mock-bow. He looks fairly attractive and is perhaps in his early thirties, but his features are marred by a scar that crosses one cheek to end at a notch in his upper lip and his bare arms show an implanted thickness to the skin beneath a slew of faded tattoos. "Welcome to my home. Would you like the grand tour?"

Perhaps surprisingly for a smaller figure, Simone is able to pack away the doner in record time. Seeing as she was unable to keep her meal down at the diner, she must be making up for it here. She turns to face the elf with the last third of the doner still held inside the rim of her hood.

Adelaie receives her doner not long after Simone does, regarding it with one of those thoughtful looks. She pays before starting to turn. Just a quarter turn, enough to face the red haired girl standing beside her in the hooded coat. The slender elf begins to eat, her accelerated metabolism taking over and kicking her into motion in much the same way as Simone's does for her.

When the elf speaks Adelaie orients herself on him. She takes a deep breath, cool blue eyes surveying the man. His tattoos, his eye colour, his choice of armament. "Thank you, but I think we've seen quite a bit. We were on our way home." Adelaie doesn't betray any sense that anything is wrong. Or that she can't care for herself if she has to do so.

"Ah, home," says the elf, looking from Adelaie to Simone. "Home is a wonderful thing. And again, welcome." He waves a hand to take in the surroundings. "The thing is, ladies…" He is nearly a full foot taller than Simone so he leans forward, setting his hands on his knees to look deep into her parka from quite close, little more than a foot away. "My home is a dangerous place and you look like you could use some protection." He smirks mischievously, then is struck with a surprised glimmer of recognition and Simone begins to back up slowly.

"No, I really think that won't be necessary." Adelaie notices as Simone starts to backpedal. The elven man is taller than the blonde as well, but she nevertheless interposes herself gently between them. Just a foot, a bit of her side and the general presence that would say to most that this is territory which is not to be crossed. Blue eyes seek out the elf's now and she takes a deep breath, now even closer to him thanks to blocking his path. Less than a foot between, and tiny in comparison. "I am sure we're completely safe."

The elf disregards Adelaie's protective posture, simply leaning to the side to point at Simone past the elf. "You're in deep shit you know." His smirk has returned and Simone stops reversing near the edge of the doner cart to reply, "I don't know what you're talking about, asshole." The elf shakes his accusatory finger and sidesteps to have a clear view of the German. He makes a slight move forward in order to speak a bit quieter, conspiratorially — he may come across as a creep but it doesn't seem as though he's moving to harm either of the runners; he's either over-confident or willing to call Adelaie's defensive bluff, but he doesn't attack, he shares. "The Residents," the capitalization is indicated in his tone, "they know some girl was tagging on their turf. That was you, wasn't it?" He stands back to his full height with his grin in full effect.

"I think that is irrelevant," Adelaie responds rather coldly. She actually shifts herself again, following the sidestep in a simple motion. Again, the economy of movement. She barely has to shift her weight to keep herself interposed. "Unless you have a reason for it to matter to you." She apparently isn't bluffing because she doesn't let him outmaneuver her. In fact, she finally steps fully into place between them. Now reaching Simone will require conflict. They are all close enough to hear one another's words, of course.

The elf stays close-in but raises his hands to show he's not holding anything. "Yo, lady, relax…" He's still grinning his charming yet scarred sneer-smirk as he looks Adelaie up and down once more. Almost to himself he asks, "Are you sweating..?" He stares directly into her eyes and minutely shifts his head as he makes his intent assessment.

Simone on the other hand looks quite guilty as she slowly chows down on the last bite of her sandwich and pulls the empty wrapper away from her face. She looks curious but won't be able to speak (intelligibly anyway) until she finishes her mouthful. She cautiously steps closer, to within arm's reach of the man, though Seraphim is between the two.

"Sweating? Over you? I'm sure." Adelaie's coolly dismissive tone might be misconstrued as the arrogance of a corper if the elf has sufficiently typecast her, but she wears it easily. She is not the least bit concerned about the presence of the elf save where it is in relation with Simone. She stares back into his eyes coldly, tilting her head very slightly as she waits. "If you two have business to discuss I can step aside." She glances back toward Simone for an answer to this. "Otherwise we should be going."

Simone swallows and pockets the crumpled wrapper without thinking about it, finally interjecting into the conversation. "I just —" She steps out from Adelaie's protective cover to come up side by side with her. "What do you mean, 'they know?'" She pushes her glasses up out of habit and then folds her arms, doing her best to look stern while staring up at the towering six-foot-six elf with her kohl-smeared eyes. The fur of the hood doesn't really help her intimidation factor but she tries.

"There's a bounty for info on whoever fucked up their tags in the southeast tunnels." He leans in toward her, practically daring a wink of an eye but not quite. "I know it was you, chica…" He cocks his head to the side and raises an eyebrow. "But I'll tell you what… For a nominal service charge I can help you get where you're going without any trouble. What do you say?" He steps back and spreads his arms, like, 'there's my offer on the table.'

"I don't think that's happening. I will make a counter offer." Adelaie keeps her eyes fixed firmly to the left in front of her. She is staring at him with her frown slowly deepening as each instant passes. "You can move out of my way." The offer is apparently on the table from her end as well, but the slender blonde does not bother with the posturing. "Three seconds." She glances back at Simone at that point, just for a split second. The implication is obvious. The male elf might disbelieve, but Simone at least might pick up on the fact she is serious.

The elf bows his head and takes a step back, still the showman. "Hey, I may be a shameless opportunist, but some small part of me thought I'd try to help you out." He pinches two fingers together then points exaggeratedly at Simone as he speaks, taking yet another step away. "But hey, looks like you got it all under control." He reaches his previous perch and leans his shoulder against the edge of the other kiosk, crossing his legs and folding his arms. His eyebrows rise as he juts out his lower lip and he shrugs. "Best of luck, ladies…"

Simone peers over her shoulders, nervous at the spectacle the elf is making of himself, hoping it won't draw attention.

"I should have punched him," Adelaie mutters to Simone as she is moving away toward the rest of the tunnels, putting distance between herself and the elf. Simone is assumed to be following, since doing otherwise would be unwise. "Two choices. Head back toward the station or hurry up." Now the blonde is speaking in something akin to a whisper. She shakes her head once slowly, her expression betraying a small measure of disbelief. She takes a deep breath. "But you need to choose now. And then tell me where you are holing up."

Simone follows, but takes a last look back toward the elf. She turns around and trots the few steps to catch back up. "Well, I -was- going to head through the southeast tunnels, but I don't know if I should now." The girl's paranoia is high. "I'm staying at a friend's place right now but I could just stay at a coffin until morning I guess."

"Mmm. Depends on if you believe him, I suppose. Whichever way you go there are risks." Adelaie states this frankly without being unkind. There's another very quiet sigh to follow, with the elf burying her hands into the pockets of her jacket. "Well, I will take you wherever you need to be. Somewhere safe, at least. I have time… I'm glad you caught me after work."

"Well…" Simone seems unsure of herself, but makes a split-second decision, stating, "You know what? Fuck that guy. He was just after money. He probably just scopes out the kiosks and waits for strangers to show." She still has nervous body language but she begins to move down the main tunnel toward the deeper branches.

Many of the emergency lights in the tunnel are smashed out or painted over, but there is enough to see by, and entrepreneurial residents have set up enough neon signs and electronic displays to see where the backup lighting has failed or been destroyed entirely. It's dim, but still easily navigable, even for those without cyber or genetically gifted sight.

"Alright," Adelaie responds simply. She allows Simone to lead the way now. The elf is surveying their surroundings calmly. She doesn't betray any anxiety as she walks, staying close to the red haired girl she has offered to protect. "You seem very familiar with this place."


The Southeast Tunnels

Simone makes false starts down some paths which require backtracking, but seems to generally know her way. She appears to be navigating by graffiti, which is a method the locals seem to use quite heavily. Among the 'road signs' scrawled upon the arched walls of the tunnels, there are advertisements and gang symbols all layered together into a mishmash of blurred color and strangely angled lettering that can be difficult to decipher even up close. "I just come here some times… It's a decent place if you keep your head down." Her gauge of decency is obviously somewhat different than the general population of Denver, as she seems more comfortable in these rejected catacombs than on the clean streets of the UCAS, surrounded by SINless who seem to have found a home outside the Aurora Warrens.

Adelaie simply continues to follow Simone patiently through the tunnels, nodding slowly in response to the words. There is a faraway cast to her gaze as she stares down the way, past their surroundings and into the dimly lit areas beyond. Careful footing takes her over refuse without stepping in it wherever possible. Somehow the woman's boots are still immaculate. "It probably is," she agrees in a murmur. "Nice to have a place to keep your head down?"

Simone's reply to the question is a reluctant one, with little explanation: "Sometimes..?" As the pair makes their way along, Simone eventually pulls up to a marking in a curving tunnel just past an intersection overrun with multi-tiered shacks made of tarps and scrounged building materials which have been built up the walls and connected with a series of ladders and precarious walkways. This tunnel curves out to the left, leaving visibility at a minimum due to lighting and field of view. All that can be seen are a few of the shack-dwellers who watch from the corner of their eyes, and the swaths of graffiti before the women where a great white R in a circle has been encroached on by some strange runic lettering. Simone peers at it critically like an artist checking their own work.

"Mmm." Adelaie nods at that, acknowledging the implication and then falling into silence. She is taking more time to watch the people surrounding her now, adjusting to the lowered visibility with a greater level of scrutiny. Often the blonde will cock her head slightly, listening for anything her vision might fail to reveal. A brief pause, the cant of her head and then she returns to moving. Eventually Simone pauses in front of the defaced R. It doesn't take a genius (which Adelaie is) to guess what this might be. Rather than comment Adelaie continues to look.

Among the general sounds of the tunnel-dwellers in their small upwardly-built ramshackle village, there is also the distant thrumming of traffic on the streets above which adds a layer of subtly shifting and echoing white noise to the environment. Above that though, and much nearer, Seraphim is able to discern the scuffing of what are presumably footsteps attempting stealth, but at something of a rapid pace and coming from the unexplored direction, not the homeless village. Nothing can be seen beyond the curve of the tunnel aside from the faint, faint glow of more emergency lighting — no shadows shifting or visible figures.

Simone crosses her left arm under her breasts, tucks her hand into her armpit and sets her right elbow on top, placing the right hand over her mouth as she ponders the potentially grievous error of her ways.

Adelaie orients herself firmly on the tags in front of her in a manner that is more puzzled than Simone's, though intentionally so. In the manner of those who discretely watch for something behind them she has taken up a position which might seem to place her gaze away from those approaching and yet isn't. Watching out of the corner of an eye. It is easy enough to do when one is expecting company. The girl's hands remain near to her hip, close to the knife she keeps carefully concealed there.

"We should keep moving, I think," Adelaie states after about a second's pause. "Trouble or not it is already going to be late when we hit the street and this isn't the financial district…"

Simone drops her hands to her sides and goes through a series of shifting expressions in a mere moment, from grimacing in disappointment to sucking her teeth in thought to end up with her hands on her hips. She then throws those hands up in the air with a shrug and nods to the elf before starting to walk deeper into the dim tunnel, away from the village. "Good idea…" She is reminded to keep up her paranoid alertness and begins to swivel her head while pulling her hood back for greater visibility.

Simone holds up a hand in alarm and scuttles to the side of the tunnel to press her back against the wall…

"Just keep moving," Adelaie repeats. She is reaching out her right hand toward Simone for now, stiffening slightly in response to the woman's alarm. "It isn't too much further, I bet. Come on. I know, this place gives me the creeps too." She indicates with her eyes and the way she shifts her head- concealed at least in part by blonde hair- that she understands what Simone is signaling. No point in saying such things aloud.

Simone hesitantly continues with Adelaie, hands buried deep in her pockets. Once the curve is behind the women, the tunnel straightens out and features small breaks in the wall periodically, where doorways to old maintenance rooms are set back out of sight. Nothing is immediately visible aside from the dimly lit refuse that lines the edges where the arched concrete walls contact the time-blackened walkway.

"If we're surrounded we're surrounded. Otherwise moving is best," Adelaie murmurs to Simone when the two of them are close enough that overhearing through any means would be next to impossible. Her breath is warm against the other woman's skin. She continues to walk. Wide blue eyes survey each opening, each break as a potential spot for something to jump out her or her redheaded companion. The intent is simply not to be taken by surprise if something does happen. There is little else to do, after all. Adelaie's footsteps are carefully silent, steps placed easily without disturbing the rubbish surrounding her boots.

«Plot» Simone says, "You smell the characteristic scent of wet dog a second before a great, hulking animal lunges out toward you from concealment in one of the doorway depressions in the wall. Luckily, a chain seems to halt its forward motion before it reaches you, but it snarls and unleashes deep, guttural growl-barks as it clicks and gnashes its slobbery jaws while its clawed paws tear at the layered grime of the floor, seeking purchase to propel it further forward."

«Plot» Seraphim says, "I take it I can't see who is holding the leash?"

«Plot» Simone says, "No, no way to tell what it is connected to."

Simone's reaction is to lurch away from the first hint of the dog's approach in an attempt to put distance between herself and the animal. By the time it reaches the end of its chain with a jolt, she's crossed the tunnel to the other side. It's not enough distance to be of any use in escaping if the beast were loose though.

Adelaie draws her knife now, though she does so in a way that allows her to hold the cold steel blade against her arm and perhaps even out of sight. She follows after Simone as the woman is lurching away from the dog, though now walking with her back more toward her companion. There is no pretense of being oblivious now. Adelaie is simply waiting to see what will come next, those wide blue eyes surveying the darkness intently for some sort of sign as to what will surely occur.

The elf from the food kiosks sidesteps to lean a shoulder against the wall of the door alcove behind the dog, a bulky pit bull. He sends a wave down the length of chain with a flick of a wrist and speaks a low phrase in Sperethiel which causes the animal to halt its attempts to lunge forward. "Sorry for the surprise, ladies, but I wanted to see how you were holding up." He smirks and fully settles into his lean, crossing one ankle over the other and folding his arms. "Residents are on their way, so I figured I'd offer you my services as a tunnel sherpa one more time." He whispers another phrase to the dog, which causes it to sit, though it still stares intently at the women. "And I brought a friend."

Simone has pulled her hands from her pockets, clutching a can of spraypaint in one and a lighter in the other.

"I am pretty sure I can hold up as well as any one of you. Unless you're under the protection of one of the big gangs and are going to hold them off that way?" Adelaie asks this question seriously now, keeping her expression thoughtful as she considers the elf. The knife remains out of sight, the blade against her arm still. There is little risk of cutting herself past her jacket and bodysuit. "Why are you so concerned? Good samaritans are few and far between." Nevermind Adelaie herself, given the situation. "You've followed us quite a way."

The elf shrugs, looking between the women who are obviously ready to defend themselves. "I know this place well…" He sounds dismayed at having spent more time down here than he would have liked as he leans his head against the wall lazily and looks up to the ceiling. "Let's just say I've had enough of this place, and helping those in need seems like such a fitting way to say farewell. Plus," He flashes a credstick for a brief moment, waving it in a small arc before pocketing it once again. "They already paid me to find you," he says as he spreads his arms to indicate Seraphim and Simone, "which I did, so I consider my verbal contract with them complete." He steps forward from the doorway and makes an easy approach, but remains a few meters back still. The dog eagerly rises and stays just ahead, keeping the chain taut.

«OOC» Seraphim says, "Does the dog appear enhanced in any way?"

«Plot» Simone says, "It's quite massive. Biology skill makes it clear that it's larger than a standard turn of the century breed. But then, most of the large canines have been significantly increased in size over the past few decades for a number of reasons. Otherwise, no visible chrome on the pup."

"Not quite double dealing, but not exactly noble. I can respect that," Adelaie responds slowly. Her eyes go between the elf, the dog and Simone in a slow, appraising motion. "How much are you asking for exactly?" Adelaie then turns, reaching toward Simone. "Let's just keep walking. Unless you've decided you want to do something else…?" She does not seem inclined to stay here much longer. The elf hasn't convinced her of anything, clearly.

The elven man stands upright, clutching the lapels of his vest and grinning when Adelaie offers her respect for his actions, then with a wave of his hand he dismisses the money question. "Bah, we can talk money later. Besides, can't spend it until I get the hell out of here anyway." He smirks his scarred smile then raises his eyebrows inquisitively and looks between the women. "What are your names? I'm—"


Surrounded

A drawn-out bellow echoes down the tunnel from the direction the women have come from: "KELLEN!"

The elf flicks his eyebrows upward in excitement and his nostrils flare momentarily. He takes the last second before the voice's owner becomes visible to whisper to Adelaie in Sperethiel, "Follow my lead…" He then commands the dog to 'speak' in elvish and the animal tenses, once again hurling its guttural barks at the women, and simultaneously alerting the other voice of his presence in the area. He calls out over the pit bull, "Told you I'd find 'em!" He winks at Adelaie while Simone seems flustered, unsure of what transpired between the elves, only aware of the dog's renewed aggression and yet another double-cross by the elf who goes by Kellen apparently.

While following and encouraging the other to do the same Adelaie relates to the flustered Simone, "He's trying to dodge people who are looking for him and hoping to tag along with us rather than strike out alone because moving in groups offers options he doesn't have by himself. They're right behind us now. I suspect they do have business with you as well or else he'd be banking really hard on us not stopping right here and just spilling our guts." She looks to Kellen as she speaks, perhaps confirming statements with simple words. "Did I miss anything, 'Kellen'?" She might not be taking him entirely seriously.

Simone's eyes are wide behind her glasses and she hastily nods to the other woman's explanation as she looks frantically from one end of the tunnel to the other. The pit's barking remains constant, masking Adelaie's whispers from any potentially enhanced hearing, but it also masks the sounds of footsteps, and before Kellen can respond to her, a bulky bearded man in layered clothing has rounded the curve in the tunnel with a group following in his footsteps — clearly a lynch mob.

Kellen yells out to Adelaie and Simone even though they are only a couple meters apart, "I told you it was useless to run…" With his own considerable strength he keeps the massive dog held in check as it thrashes on its chain at the women, gnashing and roaring.

More figures come into view at the other end of the tunnel, drawn by the yelling and barking. They remain hidden in the shadows, but are silhouetted by sporadically placed wall-mounted LEDs.

"You're right, I should have left you unconscious back where we met and shouted something about being molested so no one would look twice," Adelaie mutters. She seems to be incredibly good at keeping her pace, breathing well and speaking clearly even while under duress. "Faster now." Adelaie doesn't run flat out, per se. She actually paces Simone, for now. There's a manner to her stride suggesting that if she put on the jets she could move much faster at any moment.

Lucky13.jpg

"What is your plan?" Adelaie seems to be more than ready to let her pace carry her through the people blocking their way if need be, but she looks over toward Kellen. "If you have one. Otherwise this is going to get bloody. Fast." She does look off to the sides in case any of those openings offer an opportunity to get out of the way or around. Adelaie isn't the least bit winded. She's perspiring freely, but not winded. Yet, at least.

The group of three are taking slow steps toward the women but not seeming to be in any hurry, and a call comes from the previous man who yelled out for Kellen behind, "Nowhere to run, bitch!"

Regardless of that promise, Simone does her best to run straight forward through the trash-littered tunnel, and Kellen replies to Adelaie in an elvish whisper. "Stop after I yell…" He stresses this then raises his voice and calls out in English, "You heard the man, you're cornered! A for effort though." He comes to a stop and kneels down to the dog's collar and yells over his shoulder, want me to sic the dog on 'em?"

Adelaie stops, pauses, watches for the mob coming from the other direction. A gloved hand reaches out toward Simone. She is still keeping her knife concealed against her arm, using that trick of wrist and armour to hold it in place. The mob might see it if they come up behind her, of course. "I didn't do anything," she calls out in what might sound like a pleading tone.

Every member of the lynch mob, those ahead and behind cheer and laugh raucously, seeming to approve of Kellen's suggestion so he kneels down and reaches for the collar, putting his head near to the pit's.

Simone stays near Adelaie, nervously clutching her spray can and lighter to her chest as she stares at the dog who continues snapping at the women and scraping its claws at the scum-covered floor.

Kellen's eyes widen and he takes a look at Adelaie, then Simone, then the nearest of the approaching tunnel-thugs. He whispers in the animal's ear then disconnects the leash and stands in the same motion.

The giant dog charges toward the women like a cannon ball…

For now Adelaie is focusing on shielding Simone. She's shifted her weight, brought the knife to bear as the dog is preparing to leap. The tall blonde is prepared to fend off the animal with her arms if she has to, the forearm guards reinforced to help parry teeth and claws. If he actually goes for her she will use her blade. Right now, however, with blood rushing through her ears and her heart pumping so fast it sounds more like a percussive instrument than an organ she is just hoping not to have to borrow trouble. Trusting Kellen isn't easy. It isn't possible, even. But any opportunity for narrowing the amount of conflict needed is good. On a side note- however odd that might seem in a situation like this- if she can get herself and Simone into one of those narrow side passages she might be able to defend herself against a large group…

The dog charges past Seraphim, so close that its haunches rub against her knee, but it carries onward, closing the gap with the group of three men ahead. It leaps with a growl at the lead man with the electrically-arcing club.

The man is surprised, but swings his stun baton in a wide arc and sidesteps, just narrowly glancing the beast as it launches toward where his throat once was. A small flash of electricity bursts from the point of impact, and the animal lands with a squeal, skidding to a halt on the other side of the group of three where it turns and lowers its head, ready to continue its assault.

When the dog leaps past Adelaie she is already launching herself to her feet. She literally lunges, moving with an unerring precision and alacrity as the dog leaps toward her foes. She'd been watching for something like this. The knife she'd kept concealed against her arm is brought to bear and she shifts her weight so that she is juxtaposed to the assaulting canid. Dodging slavering jaws brings the armoured man right into a vicious slash, one which would have been lethal if not for his armour. No hesitation, no wasted effort. Regardless of what else Adelaie may be she is obviously an accomplished knife fighter. Even in the dark.

Kellen rises from his crouch shortly after setting the dog free and takes a hasty look over his shoulder at the more distant group of approaching tunnel-dwellers. He apparently decides it would be best to eliminate the small group to clear a path for escape, loops the end of the leash around his hand twice and begins spinning the chain in a buzzing circle as he too charges into the fray shortly after Seraphim. He's thrown in his lot with the women, and the men further down the tunnel begin to call out curses at the double-crossing leaf-eater.

The tattooed elf with the scarred face closes in just behind Seraphim, and as her blade bites deeply into the stun baton-wielding man's flesh between the plates of his armor, the heavy clasp of the dog leash flashes out in a blur, striking the man across his cheekbone and temple. A light spray of blood bursts out from the point of impact and the man's limp form spins in a tight circle as he slumps to the ground, unconscious.

Simone hesitates, but moves along after the deadly pair of elves, still grasping her spray can and lighter. She doesn't enter the fight, but she keeps close and watches her surroundings with a sense of desperation.

Now that the party has closed with the trio of Residents, the weapons of the two that remain standing are obviously a baseball bat and a machete, and as the man wielding the stun baton is sent to the ground by Kellen's chain, his weapon is sent skittering right to the bat-man's feet. He sees the value in upgrading, and twists his torso back then forward to hurl his less-electrically-charged weapon directly toward the dog to free up his hands in the hopes of buying enough time to pick up the stunner.

The bat spins across the intervening space between the man and the dog, striking it on the shoulder before tumbling over its body and clattering to the ground. The dog grunts but hardly seems to notice the impact as it zeroes in on the man, lowering its head to the ground and growling, ready for another charge. The thug practically throws himself down onto the stun baton, hoping to be able to ready it before the beast dives at his throat.

The machete-wielding man unleashes his weapon and makes a vigorous two-handed swing at Seraphim with a wordless battlecry. With machete overhead, he jumps at her, bringing the blade down with all his weight.

When the machete wielder comes at Adelaie she turns from her current opponent, stepping back from him and to the left. It helps that the dog is flanking her, forcing the oncoming attacker to change his path slightly so that by the time he is swinging she has already brought her blade against his arm. A long gash along the machete wielding arm and then the point driven downward against his side. It grazes along his ribs, barely slipping away from what would otherwise have been a clean kill. Just as quickly Adelaie uses the opportunity to step back and ready her weapon once more.

The leaping tunnel-thug's machete strikes nothing but the filthy ground as he makes a strangled scream. His breath seems to catch in his throat and he falls to one knee after Seraphim's counter-attack.

Further down the tunnel, the other group of men begin to pick up their pace to prevent Simone and the elves from getting away.

The dog leaps, sending the kneeling bat thrower/stun baton grabber sprawling onto his back. He misses the dog with the hastily-grabbed weapon upgrade but manages to jam an armored forearm into the dog's mouth which prevents it from harming him, but he's down, and the dog isn't likely to let him back up…

Crouched low to overcome the machete wielder's next charge Adelaie slashes the hand of the bat thrower to keep him from properly bringing the baton to bear on the dog. She reverses her grip when the machete wielder is close. As he comes toward her Adelaie comes upward, lunging forward into his gut and drawing her knife through his intestines and other vital organs before shoving him back. "Let's run," she calls then, looking back toward Simone. "Call off your dog and let's get out of here while we can." Adelaie isn't even breathing heavily. Viscera and gore decorate her knife but her sleeves prove resistant to staining. Corp wear. The foul smell of a pierced colon begins to pervade the air instantly, mixing with the thick, cloying scent of copper.

The dog continues to thrash the fallen man's arm with powerful jerks of its stocky neck until Kellen hails it in Sperethiel. The armor has nearly been shredded clean through and the man doesn't try to keep up the fight, he merely groans and cowers.

Simone pulls up close to Kellen and Sera once the men have been dispatched, and she seems to agree wholeheartedly with the other woman's plan, nodding wide-eyed before her face distorts as the reek of the dead reaches her nostrils. Kellen moves quickly, doing a sideways trot for a few meters while he looks back to the incoming Residents until he's past the two bodies and the injured man who gave up the fight. He waves the women on, "Yeah, let's go, let's go." He seems to be enjoying this, while the German seems mortified, but they run as fast as their legs will carry them, while the pit easily lopes alongside its master.

It's hard to read Adelaie's expression as she runs alongside the pair, keeping pace easily and without appearing to exert herself heavily. She is palpably warm if one stands close to her, but her sweating is fairly minimal and she shows none of the signs of exhaustion. There's no heavy breathing, hitched strides or slowing. She is actually continuing to rein herself in as the others run alongside of her, making sure to keep them close. The blonde's knife continues to gleam dully in red where she carries it, point downward to keep the blood from her hands.

One of the men behind can be heard yelling, "Nooo," and the red dot of a laser sight begins to dance on the floor and walls near the escaping runners. Before the unseen man can complete his objection, however, a gunshot rings out in the tunnel, so loud as to be deafening. The effect on the elves, the dog and the German girl is shocking, but the group where the shot comes from is practically stunned by the blast. They lose their bearings and cry out in pain.

Kellen nearly loses his footing, stumbling a shoulder into the wall while his dog whimpers. Simone slips, falling onto her hands and begins to scramble back to her feet, but her senses are reeling.

Grimacing, Adelaie is shaking her head and groaning to herself. "Amateurs." The echo of a hand cannon is enough to deafen anyone standing near you and while running through a stone tunnel… There's no real wonder why it missed. Adelaie reaches out to steady herself by catching onto Simone, pulling the girl back up at the same time. "He won't fire that twice," she states. Moderately confidently. "Unless he's already deaf."

Simone is grateful for the assistance but disoriented, turning her head this way and that, looking like she's just woken from a frightening dream. The ringing in her ears subsides quickly though, and without delay she offers a hasty thanks and gets back into the rhythm of running. Kellen's dog on the other hand seems to have been more negatively affected, pausing in shock, but the man stops with it and reattaches the leash to be able to prod the animal into moving once again.

After a couple blocks worth of distance have been covered, and a few twists and turns have been taken at Kellen's suggestion in an attempt to disguise their trail, he slows down and comes to a stop as the group rounds a corner. The elf is panting lightly, and he gestures for the women to hold up as well. He points a thumb at a nearby door, one among countless others that they've already passed in their flight from the subterranean gang. "Through here is a passage that'll take you up to street level."

Simone nods, seeming to recognize where they might be. She offers thanks once again to both of the elves, and Kellen reaches into a pocket, pulling out a couple things; one is an old photo of himself with his dog as a mere puppy judging by its current size, and the other looks to be the size of an old-style business card, but it gleams in the meager light which gives away the fact that it is plastic. The photo is swiftly put back away and the card is handed over. Simone takes it, reading the front which has nothing but a trixmail address embossed on it. Kellen smiles his scarred, asshole-ish, yet still somehow fairly charming smile and bids the women farewell with, "Feel free to stay in touch. I'm… Kellen… as you surely already know, and I'd love to carry on with you, but I need to find a place to crash and see if my dog is alright."

Adelaie slows down and finally takes a deep breath as she is pacing down to a light walk. She looks over at the business card and nods slowly. Blue eyes go between Simone and Kellen a few times, a frown forming on her lips as she does so. Perspiration beads on the elf's brow and rolls downward, decorating her features. She exhales heavily to finish her breath and quickly moves to clean her blade. a couple wipes of a cloth and then it is sheathed along her thigh once more. Kellen is allowed to walk away without a response other than a nod, but then Adelaie speaks to Simone. "So… Where are we headed next? After all that I am definitely walking you home."

Kellen hunches over his pit bull, petting the top of its head as he leads it down a side tunnel, and they disappear from sight.


Fresh Air

"I guess Sal's…" Simone carefully opens the door and makes her way to a looming stairway that leads up to the street. Simone/Gretchen finishes her response with, "…the coffin motel." She says this like it should be common knowledge, but people come to Denver from all over. What would be the exit if these more remote underground tunnels were actually used is blocked, but a side door cuts through an old guard station and allows street access into a small alley just south of the FTZ. Ahhh, fresh air!

Simone takes a deep breath, then coughs and pulls a breather mask from a coat pocket, placing it over her nose and mouth. NOW, fresh air.

Adelaie grimaces when the breather mask emerges and sticks to taking shallow breaths for the moment. She nods to Simone's statement, walking close to her as she picks her way through the refuse in the alley way. A fat, old cat is watching from one of the shadows not too far from the alley's end. "A calico, huh…?" Adelaie pauses at this, looking back over her shoulder toward the animal in question. "He's good luck. Then to Simone she continues with, "I suppose we can both be thankful our day wasn't dull, Gretchen. Were you injured back there…?" Unlikely, given Adelaie was shielding the smaller woman with her body during the most dangerous moments.

"No," Simone shakes her head and looks to Seraphim with a serious yet puzzled look in her eyes over the mask, "I'm alright. Thank you…" Her voice is faintly muffled, but still quite clear — these masks are made to not inhibit communication, after all. She looks to the cat, then out to the street to get her bearings. "Sal's is just a few blocks this way." She points. "You don't need to walk me there. I think the shitstorm is most likely over for today."

"If you were the victim of a random mugging tonight after everything we just went through…" Adelaie shakes her head at this. She is meeting the girl's eyes past the mask and then looking off down the road in the direction of Sal's. "You will be rid of me soon enough in any case."

Simone nods and gives the elf a kind look. With some care, she closes the alleyway door behind them, raises her hood, then tucks her hands into her pockets to make the trek through the slushy (and relatively safer) streets of Denver toward the rundown motel. She makes some smalltalk, but seems preoccupied with the night's events.

"Well, this is it," Adelaie is stating as the pair are approaching Sal's. She seems to know the area well enough on her own. "I think it's safe to say you should probably stay out of the tunnels for a little while. Other than that just try to stay healthy…" Adelaie fidgets slightly, perhaps slightly discomfited by the situation.

The masked girl nods to the elf and shyly waves. "Thanks again, and yes, I don't think I'll be using the tunnels again any time soon. Night." She makes a humorless smile behind her mask which shows in her eyes, and makes her way to the motel, the door sensors causing the grimy plate glass to slide aside with a faint hiss. The clerk lazily greets her by name, "'Ey, Gretchen…" Then the doors close behind her, and she can be seen making her way toward the racks of compartments, to lock herself away from the world for another night.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License