[ShadowFate] Repeat Defender (5.0)

edited April 2015 in PnR

Repeat Defender

Jubilex, it seems like you've successfully navigated the rather bloody climax of Act I of this barrio drama, and people from all over the neighborhood seek you out to congratulate or thank you. Over the next week, though, it becomes clear that it is, in fact, only the first act. Vince reports that he's received a rather generous anonymous offer to purchase the Second Chance, and Mac's Market remains closed—apparently Diego's cousin received an offer of employment elsewhere, and is considering selling it.

On the upside, no sign of the Samhain Crew, even back at their hidey hole. They've trickled away like water down the gutters after a summer thunderstorm.

Malin and Mat arrive a few days after the fight, still speaking to each other. Seems like they actually had a good trip. Mr. Johnson is very pleased with your recovery of the artifact. Apparently her employer is, as well, because she contacts you.

image"Mr. Haroutunian would like to meet with you in person, Jubilex. Can you get to the Motown Building this afternoon?"



  • imageJubilex

    I ask Vince to keep me in touch on the offer and where he's leaning. I'll also check in with Diego's cousin on what is a good price for Diego's store. Maybe I can find a small investment team and buy it.

    I'm down at the arcade when Mr. Johnson contacts me. I step into a VR sim room for quiet, "Of course. Marcus Wellby will be there. Should we dress for a meet and greet, or will there be work immediately afterwards?"
  • image"Meet and greet is fine. And Mr. Haroutunian would like to see you alone, for now. I believe he has a matter of some sensitivity he wants to discuss, although I don't know what it might be."

  • imageJubilex

    "Understood. Zip me the deets, I'll be there, Mr. Johnson." I answer briskly. Once we're done, I'll tap out a message to my team:

    We may have a job coming. Stay frosty. -J

    I'll head out to chat with SPR1TL33.
  • imageYou've got an hour or so to kill before your training session with Malin. What's on the agenda for that today, anyway? When you get to the arcade, SPR1TL33 is at her usual spot, chatting with a young kid. "Yeah, I get it, but just remember, don't shoot food! It was true 87 years ago, and it's still true today. I'll comp you a few games, you can practice." She turns to you and gives you a big smile. "Well, hero, how's it going today?"

  • imageJubilex

    I lean on the counter and give her a winning smirk, "Much better now that I'm looking at you, cutie pie. How's tricks?"

    Today's training with Malin is VR sims of infiltrations. I've got some hot mods from my corp days.
  • Just as you throw out your line to SPR1TL33, an alert icon pops up in your AR, from Mr. Johnson. The meet is arranged for 5:30 this afternoon, she says he'll meet you in the lobby of the Motown Building, wants to have the actual conversation elsewhere.

    imageSprite waits for your distraction to fade, then leans in for a peck on the cheek. "You did a good thing, J. A real good thing. What brings you in today?"

  • imageJubilex

    Her peck's sweet. "Thanks. I really came in to hang out and flirt shamelessly with you for a bit. How's your love life, chica?"
  • imageSprite dimples at that. "Why, are you making an offer, Juju?" She slaps you on the shoulder. "But seriously? Going through a bit of a dry spell. I spend all my time here, with gamers or addicts, you know?"

  • imageJubilex

    I arch a brow when she asks if I'm making an offer, but we both know I'm just playing around. I pooch out my lower lip in disappointment that she has a dry spell, "Hey, Sprite. I'm going to host a party soon. Lots of folks from the barrio. You should come. I'll introduce you to some... guys? Or should I introduce you to some girls? All the above?" I grin playfully.
  • imageShe shakes her head. "Just throw the party, and we'll see what happens. I'm not socially retarded, just have a limited scope." She glances over at the pimply teenager she was just counselling. "Oh... I can totally swing a light show, and a custom AR overlay, if you want."

  • imageJubilex

    That gets a slightly hurt look. "Sprite, I think you're an adorable lady. I was offering to introduce you. That's all it would take, if they're smart. And... you didn't answer my question, chica."
  • imageSprite punches you on the shoulder. "I like men, Jubilex. Want me to show you how much?"

  • imageJubilex

    I give her a polite dodge on that, "I thought you were busy, Sprite?" I put a hand on her forearm, lightly touching, playful. "So you're coming to the party, then? And I'll pay for the overlay and AR, of course."
  • imageSprite gives you a look. "Nope. My contribution. You provide the food and drink, I'll provide the ATT-MOH-SPHERE. Just let me know when."

  • imageJubilex

    "Thank you for your contributions. I'm confident out atmosphere will be vastly improved by your expertise."I step in close enough to kiss her forehead, then touch her shoulder lightly as I move away. I'll head out, finish a couple errands and head to the flat to begin Malin's VR training session.
  • imageSprite accepts the kiss with a slight blush and wishes you a good day. After you finish your errands, you get back to the apartment in time to relax for a few minutes before Malin pops in, carrying several shopping bags.


    Malin sets down the bags a flops into a chair with a contented grin. "That was fun, shopping with my own money! Jessi was so sweet to take me. Oh!" She stretches out of the chair to rummage in one of the bags. "I got you a present. Sort of a thank you." She pulls out a matte-black case, like a briefcase but much smaller. She clicks the latches and opens it to reveal 8 cigars and a lighter and ashtray made from the same black metal. "Jessi mentioned that cigar bar you went to, over lunch." She holds the case out to you.

  • imageJubilex

    I take the case reverently. "This... this is beautiful, Malin." I'm taken aback, really. It's a wonderful gift, something I can use and display, something with a personal touch. Amazing.

    Holding the case with one hand, I reach to pull her into a hug, and kiss the top of her head, "Thank you so much, Malin. This is splendid. We'll smoke one after I kick your ass."
  • imageMalin

    Malin soaks up your thanks and the hug, both, but as soon as you bring up training, she snaps to. "You may kick my ass, but I'll do my best not to make it easy, big man."

    Tell me, Jubilex, how does this training look? Set the scene for me.

  • imageJubilex

    As I said, I've purchased a VR set, with AR overlay, bump mapping, the works. We're going to pair up against a set of bogeys in a hostile infiltration. Physical exercise, so there's a mix of real-world and haptic feedback. It's a trip, but feels real and does not let her cheat with technomancy to move fast or anything like that.

    I would guess we'll fail seven out of ten times. Then, we'll talk about where we failed, work through it a few times together, hopefully that will help unlock for her how cover formation, checking corners, go-no go actions and all the CQC training I have works in a sim-fire exercise.

    Or, she gets her VR head blown off, gives up, and I yell at her for being a quitter. I don't expect the latter.
  • Have you ever painted a wall, Jubilex? You know that feeling of satisfaction you get when you stand back to put more paint on the brush and you see the section you've already covered, in the color you chose, with your own effort? This is sort of like that.

    The first time you run through the scenario, you crash and burn ninety seconds in. Malin jumps ahead in her excitement and takes a bullet to the brainpan.

    The second time, you make it about three minutes. She starts to learn to respond to your verbal and nonverbal cues.

    The fifth time is the first you'd call a (limited) success. You get in, grab the macguffin, and Malin makes it out because you sacrifice yourself, virtually of course.

    By the tenth run, she's learned a lot. It's maybe some innate ability to predict the way the algorithms that drive the procedural generation of the scenario works, but it's also clearly real learning. In the last stage of the exfil, Malin actually manages to save your hide by shooting (not hacking) a maglock to close the door behind you.


    The young dwarf is panting and covered with sweat, but her face is glowing. "That was TOTALLY WICKED!"

    I would say Malin is Totally Jazzed to Become a Real Runner, wouldn't you?

  • imageJubilex

    I've worked up a lather myself. I muss her hair playfully, "You catch on quick, my young padawan." I let my breathing return to normal by relaxing, take some time to stretch. "You're going to be one hell of a Runner."
  • imageMalin

    Malin throws a punch at your midriff. It's no contest, you catch it in your open hand with no problem, but you note with a bit of pride that she didn't telegraph the punch, you're just that much faster than she is. She gives a little giggle, then goes to the shower.

    Anything to do before you head out for your meeting?

  • edited April 2015

    I watch her go, excited to see her coming along, her energy channeling into something powerful and wonderful. I'm really glad Mat brought her in. Now, I hope the next shaman is half as good. Maybe a little less raw.

    I'll grab a shower myself, dress up in a slick suit, then head to my meeting after telling Malin I'm out.

    Oh, this is what I'm wearing.
    Jubilex Suit
    And yes, I'm letting my hair grow out a bit.
  • edited April 2015

    You make it to the Motown building just in time and walk into the lobby as the executive elevator opens with a classic "ding" sound.

    imageA man exits the elevator wearing a suit that could probably finance a small brush war. He walks directly toward you and holds his hand out for a shake. "Arman Haroutunian."

  • imageJubilex

    I give him a firm handshake. "Mr. Haroutunian, it's good to meet you." I pause, not sure if I'm heading up with him or if we're headed out of the building.
  • edited April 2015

    imageHe nods and says, "Walk with me, if you will. There's a little place around the corner where we can have a drink and a chat." He leads you outside and to a place with a sign over the door that reads "Arakadz." Inside, it's quite unassuming, just a few tables and a bar that runs the length of the space. The bartender calls out a greeting in a language you don't understand, and Haroutunian responds in kind, then leads you to the single booth in the back.

    "This place reminds me of my great-grandfather. I gave the owner seed money, so I could have an Armenian restaurant to go to."

    The sole waitress comes over with a tray laden with cheeses, various pickled vegetables, cracker-like flat breads, and a few different dips, as well as a bottle, a small pitcher of water, and two glasses of ice. The mogul pours the clear alcohol in both glasses and follows it with water, which turns the whole thing milky. He raises his glass and says, "Genatz!"

  • imageJubilex

    I follow him, of course. My eyes scan everywhere, trying to get clues on this man, other than what he's showing. Do the people in here look like normal, everyday people, or are they part of his staff? Do I see security cams, white noise gens, black boxes, snoops? I'm not on edge, I'm observing. I'm curious, if anything.

    I take my glass and join Mr. Haroutunian in his toast, "Genatz." Then I down it.
  • Why don't you give me a Notice roll here, Jubilex, against a difficulty of Fair (+2).

  • imageJubilex

    Noticing what's up:
    (Rolled: 4df+3. Total: 2. Rolls: 0, -, +, -)
  • The staff is certainly respectful of Mr. Haroutunian, but it's more the way you might treat a rich uncle than as if they are working for him. The space itself is unusual in that there are no cameras. There are no AR or network nodes exposed, the only obvious electronic device is the credstick reader.

    One thing puzzles you: there's a consistent pattern of very thin metallic-colored stripes running through the wallpaper, the ceiling, the floor, even the windows and the glass of the door.

    imageAfter you return his toast (the milky liquid has an intense licorice flavor, and it's quite strong), Haroutunian nibbles a pickle and regards you for a second.

    "We're having a launch party for a new label this weekend, and I believe that there may be an attempt to... acquire some talent by one of my competitors. Several recent events have led me to believe that Motown's internal security division may be compromised. I'd like for you and your team to go in 'undercover' as guests and keep an eye on things. Can you do that?"

  • imageJubilex

    I nod once, "You have been an excellent employer and we would not like for you to lose any assets. Do you have any particular concerns or weak spots? What talent will be there?"
  • imageHaroutunian says, "I will send you the complete guest and staff list, as well as the invitations. My primary concern is that I have something of an inkling that Lucas Rycer, my head of security, may be, ah, shopping around for a new position, and there's something of a tradition in this industry of, shall we say, bringing one's new employer a present or two. His team will not know you're there, of course."

  • imageJubilex

    "What is the level of, ah, reaction you would like if I'm forced to act?"
  • edited April 2015

    image"I trust you to respond appropriately. It's possible that I'm wrong about the whole thing. Regardless, I wouldn't think that heavy violence would be in anyone's interests, so I doubt it will come to gunplay, in any case."

  • imageJubilex

    I appreciate his answer. I like reasonable people who have realistic expectations from a group of Runners. I take him at his word. "I assume you want me to intervene immediately when I see a need. I will use appropriate force, and avoid any unnecessary violence. If you will provide me with passes or invitations for five individuals plus myself, I will handle their entrance and timed arrival at the party. I would like to have a code word in case your SecOps team does capture one of mine, something that will let you know to make sure they aren't arrested. Is that acceptable?"
  • imageHaroutunian nods. "That will be fine. I'll have Dixie get all the appropriate information and the invitations to you later this evening." After a moment, he nods toward the platter on the table. "Do try the za'atar dip... it's amazing."

  • imageJubilex

    I put some cheese into the dip, pause before I take a bite. "Who is Dixie?" Is that Mr. Johnson's real name?
  • imageHe gives you a slightly quizzical look. "The young lady who has been your contact with Motown."

  • imageJubilex

    Oh my, Dixie. Mr. Dixie Johnson. That's rather unexpected. I munch on the cheese and the dip quietly for a moment, finding amusement. "How did you come to, ah, hire Dixie? I've enjoyed working with her, she'd very professional. My favorite Mr. Johnson."
  • imageHaroutunian smiles. "In all honesty, I'm not sure I actually did hire her. She just showed up in my office one day. Before I arrived. When it was locked." He snaps off a piece of the crackery lavosh and dips it in the spicy za'atar, eats it. "She scares me a little."

  • imageJubilex

    I chuckle, "Sounds like my infiltration expert. She spooks me, too. They should hang out."
  • imageHe gives you a look that is unreadable for a moment, then responds. "Please don't let that happen. I suspect it would not be good for either of us." He... chortles? Yeah, it seems like a chortle. Deep and rich and fully amused. He looks at his glass. "Are you the sort of man that can enjoy the actual good things in life, Jubilex?"

  • imageJubilex

    I give him a grin, "I do my best to enjoy life along the way." I take another drink. I'm liking this guy.
  • edited April 2015

    imageHe turns to give the bartender a look. "Bedros, can I have the special bottle?" The bartender nods and moves to a cabinet, pulls out a bottle with no label, filled about a quarter with an amber liquid, and grabs three glasses. One he fills with ice. Bedros brings them to your table.

    Haroutunian gives you a look. "Balvenie single-malt scotch, we think. A hundred-plus years old, pulled up from a wreck at the bottom of Lake St. Claire. Are you up for it?"

  • imageJubilex

    I look at the bottle, listen to the story. How could I not be up for this? I nod, "Yes. Most definitely."
  • edited April 2015

    imageHaroutunian nods his thanks to the bartender and fishes out a single, perfectly square cube of ice from the third glass, drops it into his tumbler, then pours a finger-and-a-half of the liquor in. He does the same for you, then hands you the glass. "Hold the glass in your hand for a few seconds, let the warmth melt the ice a little. A bit of water opens up the important molecules." He takes the glass and holds it for a moment. Tell me, Jubilex, is this NEW information to you, drinking fine Scotch? How do you react to the advice?

  • edited April 2015

    I play a good game, acting like I belong in high society when it's needed. But I'm just a barrio boy who's had some big world experiences. I've had scotch, sure. Expensive scotch. But nothing like this. I follow his instructions, trying to play it cool. I nod, leave the tumbler there for a moment to let the ice melt. I have no idea what molecules he's talking about, but I doubt he's trying to poke fun.

    I'm pretty excited for what this alcohol will taste like.
  • imageAfter ten seconds or so, the sharp edges of the cube of ice start to soften. Haroutunian raises his glass with the look of a man about to experience one of life's great pleasures. He first raises it to his nose and takes a sniff, watching you as you follow suit.

    The "nose," as they say? Maybe a hint of peach? Just the tiniest suggestion of smoke?

    You take a sip, hold the liquid in your mouth. Raisins? Honey? Again that touch of smokiness.

    As you swallow, the flavor remains on your tongue, gradually tailing off, becoming something like the ghost of bitter chocolate.

    Haroutunian's eyes are on you, watching for your reaction.

  • imageJubilex

    It's almost a shame to drink the stuff, so many flavors mixed together. What's the phrase? A bouquet?

    Circe would fraggin' love this.

    I give him an appreciative nod. "That's amazing." After a moment of quiet, I ask casually, "I'm curious about this place, Mr. Haroutunian." I point out the pattern of stripes, "What are those? They cover this whole place."
  • imageHaroutunian thinks a second before answering. "No reason not to tell you. Don't advertise it, but it's not exactly hidden." He pops an olive in his mouth, chews, swallows, and then continues speaking. "Even in the entertainment business, hell, especially in the entertainment business, it's sometimes good to have a place that's secure for meetings, but not 'official.' What you noticed is a Faraday cage, essentially. Bartender flips a switch and the whole building essentially goes off the grid. No wireless in or out. There are similar protections in place for the astral."

  • imageJubilex

    Wow. That's some expensive tech. "Pretty zeng. I bet this place would give my hacker fits." I look around with fresh eyes. "This is not the kind of place you'd expect important meetings to happen. That's pretty clever." I'll take another long, slow, savoring drink of the scotch.
  • image"Maybe someday I'll show you the back room." He seems in no hurry to leave, or for you to. He's very much in his element here. How long do you stay? Anything topics of conversation appeal, in particular?

  • imageJubilex

    I stay for a couple drinks, enjoy the relaxed company. This guy is different. Normally execs are hustle, bustle and BS. He's laid back, prepared and decisive. I like Mr. Haroutunian. We chat about our youth. I want to know how he got to such a lofty position.
  • imageAfter a few more bites of food and a couple stories swapped, Haroutunian gives you a bit of his story. "My great-grandfather manufactured and sold cymbals, first in Armenia, then in the United States. Ever since, there has been music somewhere in my family. I was hired at Motown as an assistant to an assistant to an assistant to the head of Artist Development when I was 22, right out of college, and worked my way up. Of course, I did have to assassinate my predecessor to get the top spot." He gives you an avuncular wink after that last bit. "How did you wind up doing what you do, Jubilex?"

  • imageJubilex

    I can't tell if he's kidding about the assassination. Wouldn't surprise me if that was a requirement. Not sure if he's the type. Probably is.

    On the subject of my particular type of employment, I ease back in my chair a bit. "To be honest? I wanted out of Del Ray. Signed up for corporate security, did that for... a while. Then somehow, I ended up back here, back in the barrio. This time around it felt like home. I picked up Running because my best friend talked me into it, and I wanted to keep him from getting his ass shot off." I take a drink at that, look at the glass when I admit, "That didn't work out, unfortunately. We'd built a great team, so I'm keeping at it."
  • imageHaroutunian clears his throat and says, "I'm sorry for your loss, Jubilex, but cannot deny that your team has done fine work for us. I hope you'll continue doing so." He looks at his watch. An ACTUAL watch, with hands that sweep across the dial. "I have another engagement... well, another obligation, soon. My grand-daughter has a dance recital I promised to attend." He waggles his hand in a 'meh' gesture. "Seven years old, and truthfully not very coordinated, but she tries."

  • imageJubilex

    His evaluation of his grand-daughter's dancing is hilarious. He's an unlikely grandpa. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Mr. Haroutunian. Thank you for complimenting my team's work. Motown has been an excellent employer and I hope we can continue working together." I finish my drink and stand, offering him a hand.
  • image"As do I, Jubilex. And if you ever find yourself wishing for Armenian cuisine or a touch of scotch, feel free to stop in here. Dixie will be in touch shortly with the details. You have a few days, you can coordinate with her if you need anything from Motown. She may scare me, but I trust her."

  • edited April 2015

    I give him a firm, friendly and respectful handshake, which is a thing that exists. I'll head out to my car and drive my way back to do a walkabout in the barrio. I need to check on people, make sure things are alright.
  • On your way back to park the car, you drive past Mac's, with a closed and locked gate protecting the darkened window. There's still plenty of activity otherwise, though, early on a summer evening. The sun's still up for a bit longer, and kids are out playing like they have for hundreds of years, throwing balls and chasing each other around the streets. Mamas and papas and tios and tias and abuelas and abuelos look on fondly, many sitting on stoops and chatting with each other over a smoke, a beer, or a cup of coffee. You know that, once it gets dark, there will be less savory stuff going on in a lot of these blocks, but for now, it's just a summer night.

    Anyone in particular you'd like to look in on? Just gonna park and amble about?

  • imageJubilex

    I'm heading by to check on Abuela Conchita. I want to make sure Trip is still doing what I told him to do, see if he needs anything to keep up the place.
  • edited April 2015

    As you walk down the street toward Conchita's building, people call out greetings. One little girl, whose name is either Ximena or Jimena, comes running over. In her high voice, she asks, "Where you been in that faaancy suit, Jubilito?" Then, she giggles and hides her face, amazed by her own boldness.

  • imageJubilex

    I stop, bend down so I'm eye level with her, "I went downtown to meet someone, Jimena. They had a job they need me to do. You look very nice today." I reach up to pat her shoulder. If she wants to talk some more, I'll listen. If not, that's perfectly fine, I'll continue on.
  • Jimena accepts your compliment with a blush, then apparently loses her courage to continue. She runs back to her Tia, up on the stoop, then turns to wave.

    imageWhen you get to Conchita's building, she and several of her cronies are outside, sitting on much-patched lawn furniture on the sidewalk, playing cards on a crate set up between them, and cheerfully abusing each other in about three different accents of Spanish.

    She looks up at you and grins. "Hola, nieto. How is it with you today?"

  • imageJubilex

    This is wonderful. I like seeing her out and smiling. So good. "Bien, y tu?" I hang back to watch them play. This makes me so happy.

    After a bit, I'll lean down and whisper ask her, "Apartment fixed up? Everything peaceful?"
  • imageConchita waves a hand. "Ai, chico, the building's old, things fall apart. But the young man, he does what he can, now. I heard what you did for the people, when those diablos..." She turns her head and spits. "...were taking their things. It was a good thing." She pats your hand. "You're a good boy. If I was sixty-five years younger, I would give your little gangster girl a run for her pesos."

  • imageJubilex

    "Hehehehe, I'm sure you would, Abuela Conchita. I'm sure you would." I pat her shoulder gently, stand back up. I'll stand around for a bit, don't want to seem like I'm in a rush.

    She knows about Jessi? Wow, I didn't know it was all over the barrio. I should be more discreet around Sprite. Don't want anyone to give her trouble.

    After a bit, I'll head into her apartment building, check on Trip the ork.
  • edited April 2015

    Trip pulls open his door about thirty seconds after you knock. He's clearly not happy to see you, and also a little drunk, but he manages not to be outright nasty. The ork blinks a few times. "Yo. 'Sup, chummer? Someone complainin' again? I swear 'm doin' what I can."

  • imageJubilex

    I give him a nod, hold a hand up, "Hoi chummer. I came by to check in. I hear things are running better." I wait for him to catch up, then I tell him, "I am glad we sorted things out. Is there anything you need to keep working?"
  • Trip blinks again. "Owners have been leaving me alone, but the money you gave me's almost gone. If they come knocking, want to know why I'm fixing drek instead of letting the place rot, what'm I s'posed t'say?" He holds up a hand. "An' like I already said, I don't know who they are. Just know they send they'd be sending someone around."

  • imageJubilex

    "Tell them this building's under the protection of Marcus Wellby." I slip him some nuyen, not enough to do much, probably. If he has specific projects, I'd be more likely to front him more.
  • The ork blinks yet again. "Oh... you should know. I saw the guy, the one guy that gave me the job here? Forgot. He was talkin' to that Sam-Hane elf. The one you took out. Couple weeks ago."

  • imageJubilex

    I purse my lips in thought for a moment, pondering his little nugget of info. "Could you draw him maybe? Or, I dunno, describe him for one of my friends?"
  • He looks at you for a second, unsure of his focus. "I don't draw. I can maybe describe him to somean. Maybe. Warn me, an' I'll keep sober."

  • imageJubilex

    "Trip, why don't you come by Second Chance tomorrow afternoon? If you're sober when you arrive, and help us get a picture of this guy, then you won't leave sober, and that's my treat." If he's amenable, I'm happy to let him go.
  • "Okay. Second Chance. Tmarow. 'll be there. I only drink the good drek, by the way, chummer. Aristocrat." (Aristocrat is rotgut. Not just bottom shelf, Vince doesn't even stock the drek.)

  • imageJubilex

    Note to self, buy some Aristocrat to let Vince stock it.

    "Alright, Trip. See you tomorrow." I say as I head out.
  • it's almost dark when you head back out to the street, and the abuelas are wrapping up their game. All four insist on getting a peck on the cheek from you before you can move on. When you're a block away, the first street light comes on. Heading anywhere in particular?

  • imageJubilex

    It's been a while since I frequented 4Play. That was mostly Loo's thing, but he drug Circe and I there. Seeing Jingzhen reminded me I haven't spoken with her in forever. I'll stroll on over, pay the cover and check it out.
  • edited April 2015

    imageAfter you pay the cover and pass into the club, 4Play is the usual riot of lights, bass-driven music, and flesh. Jingzhen stands near the door, barely dressed as usual but looking dangerous in her unique way. More like a perfectly-crafted sword out of its sheath than a nearly-naked woman. She gives you a nod.

  • imageJubilex

    I'll head over to stand near her, making sure I don't block her view of the clientele. "Hoi chummer." I wait a beat, then ask, "How's tricks?"
  • imageEyes constantly moving across the crowd, Jingzhen shrugs. "Things have been okay here. That gang wasn't going to mess with us, since the place is connected. Cee-Cee got pregnant and decided to keep it. One of the bartenders was skimming from the till, but his broken leg will heal soon enough. I haven't had to break any fingers in a while, which is something."

  • imageJubilex

    Cee-Cee. Haven't heard her name in a while. She's a damn good dancer. "Gotta ask. If the gang wasn't going to mess with the club, why'd you come down?"
  • imageAnother elegant shrug, which makes the dragon tattoo ripple in a very intriguing way. "Why did you?"

  • imageJubilex

    "The barrio's my home. They were making me look bad. They were moving on places I happen to like, people I don't want messed with." I answer it quickly, it isn't a hard list to build. I look at her, "Same for you?"
  • image"Basically. I live here, they were assholes. I don't like assholes, and like I said, it's been slow. Needed the workout."

  • imageJubilex

    That gets a chuckle. "A workout". I damn near died, she probably broke a sweat. "I wanted to say thanks. If you ever need anything and Marcus Wellby can help, you let me know. Alright?"
  • image"Of course." She gives you a rather wicked sidelong grin. "You sticking around for a dance? Aoife's here tonight." You remember Aoife, don't you? The elf with the tattoos? Did you have a thing, once upon a time, or was it just a fling?

  • imageJubilex

    Aoife's here tonight? A shudder runs through me at that, all sense memory and a gut-twisting hunger I'd told myself I'd forgotten. I don't even tell my mouth to answer, "Sure, I can stick around for a bit."

    Aoife was a goddess. Is a goddess, I'm sure. We were an item when I only came back to the barrio to show off all the money I was making as a CorpSec goon. I rolled into 4Play to throw nuyen around and get trashed, but she was dancing. I saw her grace that stage, and she became my religion.

    More and more trips home happened, as many as I could afford. I recorded her and watched her performances on my simsense gear, and I felt like I knew her. It fell into pieces when I found out she was cheating on me. It broke me for a while.

    It took me a couple years to finally erase all the chips I'd made of her dancing. I should go. I should just leave.

    I don't. I look for a seat near the front.
  • edited April 2015

    You score a seat right up by the stage, and a waitress, likely sent by Jingzhen, brings you a whiskey sour, like you used to drink. The AR overlay hasn't changed, all flash and neon. The smells haven't either. Perfume, baby powder, liquor, your fellow patrons. It's early still, so the crowd's not too heavy.

    You wait through a few dancers, both of whom are certainly not shabby, and then the throbbing music stops. A shiver runs up your spine when you hear a sultry female voice through the speakers start to croon, You had plenty money in nineteen... twenty-two. You let other women make a... fool of you, why don't you do right? Like some other men do. Just as the bass joins the singer, Aoife walks out to the stage, slow and confident and just simply dripping with sex. Her glowing eyes widen a bit when she sees you, and a slow, predatory smile smolders across her face.

    She makes her slow way down the stage, giving attention to everyone but you as she does.

  • imageJubilex

    I watch her. The fact that she's avoiding me means something. Time hasn't touched her, she's as beautiful now as then, maybe more.

    I fish out my credstick.
  • edited April 2015

    Finally, after she's teased every other man sitting around the stage, Aoife turns her attention to you. She walks up to stand right in front of you, with her hips swaying to the slow backbeat and the bass line. Keeping her eyes on yours, she reaches up to unsnap the neck of her tight-fitting, slinky red dress and lets it fall in a crimson puddle around her feet. The bra and panties are black, and without pausing to step out of her dress, she slips first one and then the other strap off her shoulders, then pulls the fabric down to release her full breasts.

    Once the bra is off, she does take a step back out of the dress and kisks it into your face with the tip of her high-heeled pump. Then, squatting down, she grabs your tie just under the knot and straightens, pulling you up to a standing position. She leans down to whisper in your ear. "Hope you're sticking around for a lap dance or three, Bennie. We've got a lot of catching up to do." She releases you with a slight push.

  • imageJubilex

    Seeing her body, smelling her, it's like a bucket of water hitting me. I watch her move, see her come closer, the sway of her hips, the weight her her breasts, so perfectly formed. My whole body tingles when she grabs my tie, I'm puddy in her hands. I nod when she mentions lap dances, my head calculating my walking around money. How much am I going to give her?

    I numbly realize she doesn't know I'm a Runner. That's probably good. I should try to stay guarded, somehow.
  • After the fourth song, Aoife grabs the dress from you and puts it back on, carrying her bra and panties. She struts back off the stage to applause and wolf whistles, looking over her shoulder at the last second to mouth "Room Three" at you, then blow a kiss to the crowd as a whole.

    The setup here is that there's an area with couches for lap dances, but also a VIP area, with smallish rooms that have padded chairs, privacy, and, shall we say, more options on the menu for customers. It is traditional to bring a (very) overpriced bottle of champagne with you when you arrive.

    What do you do?

  • imageJubilex

    I stand up from my table and head to the bar, order two overpriced bottles of champagne. I give Jingzhen a head nod of greeting, a bit of a "what are ya gonna do" shrug, Once I've got the bottles and two nice flutes, I head for room three.
  • The troll at the door to the VIP area gives you a nod as you walk past him. You know he'll be wanting a tip on the way out for "turning a blind eye," and it's likely to end in a conflict if you don't have sufficient NuYen to pay it, but he waves you through with no hassle.

    When you get to room three, the door's closed, but you can hear music playing behind it. Another of Aoife's favorites. What's the song, Jubilex, and do you knock?

  • imageJubilex

    This song is playing. It's one of the first songs I heard while she stripped.

    I don't knock, she invited me. I slip a bottle in my arm to free a hand, open it to walk in.
  • Aoife is waiting in one of the two padded faux-leather chairs (easier to clean), completely naked. Of course, you've seen her naked, what, dozens of times? More than that, probably, the most recent being about five minutes ago. But relaxed, on display for you and you alone, it's a real punch in the... let's say groin. She stands when she sees you enter, moves up to you, and wraps you in a perfumed embrace, kicking the door closed with her bare foot behind you.

    Lips brushing your ear, she whispers, "Been too long, Bennie. What, were you still mad about Jax? That was just a thing... you know me." Her tongue flicks inside your ear and you feel her hard nipples through the fabric of your suit, all promise and regret.

  • imageJubilex

    I do know her. This is an old song, an old dance. But such a good dance.

    "I'm not mad anymore." I answer when my breathe returns. My hand's on her back. "Not that you ever tried to find me and apologize." I can't take my eyes off her. Lust and hurt and anger wells up in me. I hate her. I want her.
  • Aoife gives you a look. "I don't apologize. You know that, Bennie." She moves against you to the beat of the song, grinding her pelvis against yours. "So, what are you in for? You're not my boyfriend anymore, so I have to charge. One song, three songs?" She leans back in to flick your ear again, then whispers, "All night?"

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