CAST OF PLAYERS:
Jera Morrison……………….Alseyne Aulaudin…………………Sidhe Changeling
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
The street was dark. A nearby lamp post illuminated the corner where Casey, Tim and Tony stood. Just beyond and across the street from the warehouse an alleyway ran between two other garage-like buildings.
Casey wavered between the risks of being a visible, lamplit target and the equal hazards of sheltering in a tight, poorly-lit alley. “Maybe we should just hang out here by the door? We probably don’t want to get too far away in case they need help fast in there.”
Tim shook his head. “I think we should be across the street. We’ll draw less attention. There’s no one hanging out here. We’d be rather obvious.”
“I just got this ridiculous outfit so that I could hang around outside an S&M bar without drawing attention,” Casey grumbled, mildly exasperated. You’re telling me I still have to hide?” Sighing, she gestured to Pana. “Fine, we’ll go stand in a dark alley. What could possibly happen to us in a nice dark enclosed place like that?”
“No, no…” Tim was startled by her sudden change of mood, “I was just suggesting. We can do the other thing.”
She sighed. “Sorry, didn’t mean to snap. This isn’t really my scene, I guess I’m a little nervous.” She gave the alley a long, studying look, then turned back to examine the area in front of the bar. “You may have a point. If all three of us were dressed like Sanctuary customers we might blend in here, but as it is we look more like two guys being propositioned by a streetwalker.” She grimaced. “I still don’t really like the idea of bottling ourselves up in that alley, though. We can go stand across the street where it’s darker and we’re less likely to be seen, but let’s stay out of the the tight spaces. There are too many unfriendly sorts out and about tonight for us to go cornering ourselves and making things easy for them.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Tim nodded. The three of them, plus Pana, walked across the street as Pip and company entered Sanctuary.
Casey extended her perceptions into the nearby alley as they crossed the street, just to be sure there was nothing threatening lurking in there. Discerning no sentient intelligence within the alley she stepped onto the sidewalk with the others, looked around, then leaned comfortably against the wall of the building. Everything seemed quiet for the moment. She tuned her senses to a slightly more receptive level then normal, open to communication or the approach of danger, and kept a watchful eye on Pana.
Deepening her perceptions drew her attention back to the sentient presence in the leather bag at Tony’s belt. Scraps. So very strange. “So…Tony,” she smiled. “You have a great singing voice. We really enjoyed listening to you in the Tavern.”
“Thanks.” He smiled at the compliment. “Maybe you’d let me sing a song for you some time? I’m feeling inspired… I’ll write something for you!”
Casey blinked. “That’s…wow, no one’s ever written a song for me before.”
“That’s surprising.” He smiles in a disarmingly charming and earnest manner, “A girl as lovely as you? I would think that you’d have inspired aspiring bards all through high school and college.”
She laughed. “If I did, they didn’t share their efforts with me. I never went to college, though; my parents expected me to stay on the family ranch and continue in the family business. They weren’t crazy about me moving out to the big city and tending bar, I can tell you.”
“A tender of libations!” Tony smiled. “A noble calling!”
“I like it. It’s so different from where I grew up, and the people are interesting.”
“Easy, Tex.” Tim cautioned Tony.
Tony frowned, then focused his attention back on Casey. “Maybe when this is over we could have dinner. I know a place that serves an amazing fried pizza.”
“F-fried pizza?” He had to be making that up. “I think that’d be another first for me.”
“It’d be my honor to introduce you to the sublime wonder.”
She gave the Pooka a friendly but noncommittal smile, the one she’d mastered during her time tending bar. “If I’m still in one piece when all this is over, I might take you up on that.” Casting about for a change of subject, she settled quickly on the obvious one, and gestured curiously toward Tony’s leather bag. “So, tell me about your friend Scraps. That’s an interesting name. What’s he like?”
“He’s sad most of the time.” T-Ray explained. “He died rather suddenly. He was a werewolf. Rather soft spoken. He lived here in town, protecting the street people.”
“Protecting the street people?” The image of a soft-spoken, solicitous werewolf made Casey smile. “He sounds nice. What happened to him?”
“He went into the Umbra one day,” Tony answered. “His head is all that came out.”
“The Umbra? What’s that?”
“The Umbra is the spirit world. Or worlds, I should say. The umbral sphere comprises all the shadow worlds.”
“And he physically went into it? Is that a common ability?”
“For the wolves, yes.”
Casey nodded toward Scraps’ skull. “Sounds like a dangerous place to visit.” She glanced across the street; it was about time for her first spot-check on the situation in there. Her gaze took on a slightly unfocused look as she reached out to brush Alsyene’s mind and get a feel for how things were going.
Like Cake and Ale, her mind could not penetrate the walls of Sanctuary.
She frowned. “That’s not good. I can’t read through the walls of that place. They could be calling for help right now and I wouldn’t hear it.” She shifted indecisively. “Maybe we should go in and check on things.”
Tim sighed, nodding. “Let’s go.”
“Never been to a BDSM bar,” Tony offered. “This could be fun. I’ll write about it in my ‘zine.”
“You have a ‘zine?” Casey smiled as they cross the street.
“Yeah, it’s called THESE DREAMS OF MINE.”
“That sounds like fun! What kind of stuff do you usually write about?
“Crap I’m thinking about, poetry, movies I’ve seen, books I’ve read. I also get a lot of submissions both locally and from out of state.”
“Stay outside, Pana.” Casey took one last wary look around the dark street as the three of them move to the bar’s entrance.
:: Begging your pardon, ma’am, but what good am I to you outside? If this place is like the last one and you can’t use your telepathy through the walls, I won’t be able to render aid should you need it. ::
Casey paused, glanced back at the malamute. **Think they’ll let you in?**
:: Let ’em try and keep me out. :: The tone she communicated was confident and daring with a vague under-current of screw-’em.
**Well…I don’t want to cause a scene or anything…but okay, let’s give it a shot. Can’t hurt to try, I guess.**
Tim seemed ill at ease, becoming more pensive the closer they approach. Casey looked over at him. “Something wrong?”
“I… uh…” He swallowed hard. “‘m fine.”
Tony confided to her in a soft voice, “Agoraphobic.”
“Oh.” She looked uncertainly at Tim. “Are you going to be okay in there? Would you rather wait out here and just glance in every few minutes to see how things are going?”
“No… uh… No…” He palmed a pill and dry swallowed it. “I’ll be o-okay.”
“Okay.” She gave him a sympathetic smile. “I can help with that too, if you like. Share my calm, you know?”
“I’ll… uh… I’ll be fine.”
They reach the awning covered door. Casey tried to open it, but the door was closed, locked, and unmoving. She grimaced. “Anybody know the secret password?”
“Password?” Tim asked.
She knocked on the door. It opened and a *huge* man in a black suit answered, “Yes?”
“Have you seen her dog?” Tony asked at once.
Pana darted past the man, disappearing beyond the door.
Tony stepped into the gap between Casey and the man forming a clear path for her to enter. “I think that was her dog…”
“I’ll get her!” Casey sang out, slipping past the two men and vanishing into the crowd.
She darted into a large common room with dozens and dozens of people. All of them were scantily clad. Most of them were changelings. The overwhelming sexual heat in this building engulfed her from all directions, flooded into her opened perceptions like warm, potent brandy. She slowed and looked around, feeling an answering heat rising within herself.
“Damn girl.” A lean man in faded jeans and tight grey sweater admired her. “You smokin’! Wanna take in a scene?” Sexual desire emanated from him. She was awash in it. Her head swam, and for a brief moment she actually considered his unexpectedly appealing invitation.
But she hadn’t come for that…Aleysene and the others were around here somewhere…
“Thanks,” she replied in a rather husky voice. “But I’m meeting someone here tonight. Maybe next time.”
His disappointment was clear, but she could feel his hope that maybe there would be a next time.
“A’ight,” He nodded, taking a long appreciative look of her form as she walked away.
Her heart raced despite herself. The entire room was a flood of attraction. She could shut out the specific thoughts, but the emotional aspect was so intense….
With an effort she moved on, searching for Alseyne’s mind amongst the press. There was a…mental fog here…she could read THIS room well, but the rooms beyond were difficult to penetrate. She had a sense of Alseyne’s mind, a taste of it, from a different room. She knew that Alseyne felt wary, cautious, and more than a little annoyed.
Casey wondered distractedly whether she should try to find Alsyene, or perhaps seek out Pip or one of the others. The thought of the satyr was more enticing than ever in this seductively erotic place. Even the big tiger guy, Claws, took on a new allure in her desire-soaked mind.
:: Casey? :: A familiar voice called to her. Across the room she saw a flame burning within a hearth.
She turned without hesitation and moved toward it. **Mardmor?**
:: Yes. What are you doing here? I confess I would not expect to see you in such a place. ::
She slipped languidly through the crowd to stand before the balefire, too deeply in tune with the room’s general state of arousal to feel self-conscious about her presence here. **This is my first time. I came with Alseyne and the others; they’re looking for those lost fae I mentioned.** Deliberately imitating the formal tone of Mardmor’s mental voice she added with a touch of humor, **I confess I did not expect to see *you* in such a place.** She smiled bemusedly. **How are you here, anyway? Are you many fragments of the same fire?**
:: Flickers of the flame… ::
She attempted to refocus on her reasons for being here. This was important…. **You must see a lot of fae goings-on, then. Is there anything at all you can tell me about what’s been happening to the ones that disappear from this bar?**
:: No… I don’t know what I could tell you that would be of help. ::
**I’d better try to find the others. It was nice talking to you again, Mardmor.** She closed her eyes, seeking out the various locations of Claws, Wynne, Pip and Alseyne. She found a sense and direction on all four. Alseyne and Pip were together in one place. Wynne and Claws in another. It was foggy. She sensed their minds… but couldn’t communicate to them. She searched for Tim and Tony.
They were across the room. Tony was chatting up a Pooka with obvious doe-like features. Tim was at the bar. On a sudden impulse she searched for the vampire Murphy, but found no sign of him.
:: She’s here. :: Pana informed her.
Casey turned her attention to the dog’s mental voice. **Who?**
:: The one that the fairies are looking for. The girl. ::