THE FAERIE GLEN NIGHTCLUB
Excitement hung in the air, an electric tension that vibrated through the speakers, stage, and patrons alike. The Faerie Glen was reopened, its previously-hospitalized employees were ready to work, and after weeks of being gone, the Damselfly was coming back to perform again!
The lobby bar was nearly empty, but the dance hall was not; there was enough space to travel the room as needed, but the crowd got very thick at the edges of the stage. The Damselfly wasn’t mingling yet, but eir friends Alex and Adam were winding through the crowd, serving drinks and flirting with their relieved regulars.
((roll call! Once you’ve chosen a color, please feel free to write your character’s entrance below.
Narration is, as always, black. The Damselfly is fuchsia!
Chrys is a sad, wilty moss green.
Kay Washington is a classy hunter green.
Kay strolled into the club, full of excitement. Boulder’s famous para strip club, finally open, and she had finally managed to carve out the time to visit. She surveyed the crowd and chose a seat at the bar. When did the show start?
[appearance notes: Kay’s a young white woman wearing pressed black slacks, a flattering blue blouse, and snappy glasses. Her light brown hair is in a pixie cut.]
Chrys, and her ever-present, unfitting Not-Victorian Dress sauntered into the club, peering around. After a moment of contemplation, she figured that the people sitting near the stage surely knew something she did not, and headed that way, settling in at an empty table.
Shouldn’t- Shouldn’t there be like, menus and stuff? This is confusing. Wait. Should she have waited for someone to seat her ughh society. Fortunately, Chrys being Chrys manages to forget all of that in about the space of thirty seconds, and settles for staring off into space, rocking a bit to music that surely was not coming from the speakers.
(Chrys wears a black* dress that looks vaguely victorian in design, but hasn’t got nearly enough ruffles or ribbing. She always looks vaguely pleased about something, too. Just because. Said dress being nearly floor-length means the rest of her outfit is a mystery, and she has reddish hair tied back into a braid ‘roundabouts halfway down her back.)
As Kay gets settled, a baby-faced young man dressed in a revealing tuxedo-themed leotard and fishnets sweeps by. She notes a transgender symbol tattoo on his collarbone, and a fading bruise on his cheek. “Have you been seen to, honored guest?”
Around the same time, a Greek Statue of a boy with black curly hair appears near Chrys. “Oh my goodness, I just love your outfit!” He gushes.
Kay smiles at the server. “No, I haven’t, and I’d love to be. Does this place have a cocktail menu?”
“Absolutely. While our bartenders are amazing, and can whip up just about anything you can ask for, here are our themed drinks this season.” The young man hands Kay a laminated card, then beams. “I’m partial to the Firecracker, but that’s cuz it’s named after me.” Wink.
“Cuuute. Tell me what you’re made of, Firecracker.”
“Snips and spice, and some tails are nice. But the drink is cinnamon whiskey, sour apple schnapps, and cranberry mist soda… with a garnish of pop rocks.”
“Ha! Pop rocks in a drink? Okay, I’ll try it. Can you open me a tab?” She fiddles with her wallet and hands him a card. “Also … do you know when the Damselfly’ll be dancing tonight? I’m a huge fan of eirs.”
“Yeah, ey’s getting ready now. Should only be a few minutes. I’ll put in your order!”
She stops her constant rocking, smiling. “Why, thank you,” she chirps. “I find myself fond of it as well … maybe I should-” And she just trails off. Right there.
“You really should!” He agrees. “May I get you anything? Food or drink, or if there’s a dancer you’d like some private time with, the champagne room is open.”
“Oooh. Well! I’ve never been here before. Maybe you could suggest something?” She glances about once more, then shrugs. “I’m er. Not particularly familiar with most things I suspect are served here.”
“We love introducing people to new things.” His smile was just so darn genuine. As genuine as his pectorals were shiny. “Come right this way! Do you have any dietary restrictions?”
He leads Chrys toward a seat at the bar, only a couple of seats away from where Kay sat.
“I only have dietary restrictions if I eat too much,” is her simple reply. “Oh. And silver. But I don’t think that there’s some sort of liquor with silver in it. That seems a waste.”
“Silver!” He exclaimed, showing her to a seat two away from Kay. “Are you a real fairy, then?”
Chrys grins bright. “Usually I’m asked if I’m a werewolf.” She does not actually answer the question. And of course, she takes the offered seat.
“Fairy or werewolf alike, you’re certainly welcome here. After all, one of our performers is a predatory insect!” He grins. “I’m going to start you off with the Zygoptera cocktail. It’s named after the Damselfly emself. Elderflower liqueur, berry-infused vodka, and a touch of limoncello. I’ll also put in an order for our hand-cut potato chips. Does that sound all right, mythical guest?”
“Perhaps not so mythical! Mostly. I think.” She trails off, then nods. “But yes! All of that sounds quite lovely.”
“Great! The chips will be a bit, but I’ll try to make sure you have your drink before the Damselfly goes onstage.” He slips behind the bar, whispers to someone, and continues on his route, leaving the two new guests alone for the moment under the club lights and gently pulsing music.
Chrys waves cheerily and resumes swaying to whatever it is that she hears – it’s certainly not to the same beat as the music.
Kay turns in her seat to greet the newcomer. “Hey there. Come here often?” Her ever-so-slightly-smirk-like smile says “yeah, I know it’s an old line, but it’s a good one”.
She glances at Kay – this time, the not-quite-synchronous movement does not stop. “Oh. No. Unless something happened I am unaware of, I have never been here before. It seems nice. I may make it a habit.”
“Oh hey, it’s my first time too. I’m Kay.”
“Chrys. Or Chrysanthemum. I do not particularly care. A pleasure to meet you, Kay.” Another brilliant smile. It’s a bit hard to imagine her doing anything else, really.
“Nice to meet you, Chrys. So … you got the flirty treatment from your server too, didn’t you.”
“Oh, yes. Or.. I think so? He asked if I was the sort of person who lives under hills. Quite the compliment, I suppose. Fairies are supposed to be quite fetching.”
“Hmmm. Well, are you?” She leans a little closer, propping one elbow on the bar.
“One Firecracker and a Damselfly,” the Greek Statue beamed, setting cocktail glasses in front of the two. “The Damselfly is about to perform, but we’ll have those chips out for you soon, and if you need anything, ask for Adam. That’s me. Or Alex, who is the other fellow serving this area. Anything more I can do for you two before the stage lights darken?”
“Ooh, thank you!” Kay takes her drink, watching the pop rocks sputter in the liquid. “You’re a sweetheart, Adam, I think I’m all set. D’you need anything, Chrys?”
A shake of her head. “No, no thank you. This looks lovely.”
“Wonderful. Then—oh, there go the lights. See you soon, dear guests!”
Sure enough, the lights were going down on the room, and the crowd got a bit more hushed. A minute later, the lights focused on a point in midair and the Damselfly emself descended from the ceiling into that focus, lit on all sides and in a costume that appeared to be made of rope, with weights dangling from the sleeves.
To a thrumming electro beat, Nat danced. It was a fairly new routine, and very complicated; the weights spun, ropes coiling and uncoiling around different parts of eir body. Each new trick elicited cheers from the audience, and when ey finally cast the weights up into the ceiling, barely clad in anything at all now, the crowd roared its appreciation to the Damselfly’s bow.
Kay had been about to say something to Chrys when the lights went. As soon as the Damselfly made eir appearance, her mouth fell open and whatever she’d been thinking was completely gone.
She was transfixed, barely even aware enough to clap or cheer, but when the last moment came and the Damselfly made eir last flourish, she clambered onto her barstool and screamed as one with the room.
Chrys makes an odd little noise and becomes incredibly interested in her drink, until about halfway through the performance. Her clapping is much more subdued than most, inaudible above the cheers, whistles and considerably more enthusiastic applause.
Occasionally she cants her head this way or that, seeming to make a note of something the Damselfly just did, but for the most part, she goes between looking at her drink and looking at the performance.
At the end, the most audible thing from her – that is still probably lost in the crowd – is a loud “Well done!”
Once ey’s taken eir bows, Adam walks up to the front of the stage and beckons Nat over. Ey zips down and listens to him, then perks up, smiles, and grabs an appetizer basket from the young man.
Three seconds later, Nat is hovering just over the bar, setting the basket in front of Chrys, mere feet from Kay. “You came!” Ey exclaims.
Kay’s dropped jaw closes, just enough for her to let slip a high-pitched “fuck”. She takes a slurp of her drink
Chrys nods quickly. “Yes. I said I would.” Beat. “At least, I believe I did. Gia was attempting to learn whether or not Assmaster – our bird. Her bird? – wanted us to help wizards, or wanted us to help with problems caused by wizards.” Chrys sounds absolutely, utterly serious.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Nat says, smiling broadly, “but I’m happy you came to see me! Who’s your friend?” Indicating Kay.
“The bird – it only says “Help wizards.” She starts to introduce Kay, but–
Kay grins and extends a hand to the Damselfly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Damselfly. I’m a huge fan. Kay Washington. I absolutely loved your performance.”
“I love huge fans!” Nat hovers a little closer and shakes her hand. Eir hand is small and delicate, just like she imagined, but has a rigid strength behind it too. God, ey smells good. What the fuck, is that eir sweat? Fuck! “Lovely to meet you, Kay! Thank you for coming to my welcome-back performance!”
hhhhHHHH, get it together, Kay, you’re not a teenager anymore. She grips eir hand firmly and then returns her hand to the Firecracker. “I’m a bit of a…” – don’t say collector don’t say connoisseur FUCK – “… fan of paras, in general. So. You caught my attention.”
“I can see how that could happen. Yes.” Chrys nods. “You are very…” And then she just trails off again. But actually picks it up this time, wonder of wonders. “…Impressive. Grace and control.”
“Aw, thanks Chrys. It’s my calling, honestly. I feel more comfortable up there than anywhere else. And Kay, you’re a para fan? That’s great, you’re in the right place. Paras from every faction come here! In fact—Chrys, you’re a Paranormal too, right? I know you’re a Legionnaire.”
Chrys inclines her head slightly. “That is correct. Perhaps not the most notable or interesting, but certainly … mh. Unusual.”
“Aw, c’mon. You’re noteworthy and I don’t even know what you do.“
“Does that work that way?” Sounds like an honest question.
“Yes, I’ve been enjoying myself a lot. The…” She swallows. “The service is incredible here. Y-you’re incredible. Nat. Can I call you Nat?”
“Aw~ Kay, sugar, please do. You’re too sweet. I wish more of my friends were here so I could introduce you.”
She shakes her head. “Hah, not a problem – I’ll be back. Soon. For sure.” She’s … focusing very directly on Nat, making eye contact with em.
Chrys does not seem especially inclined to interrupt the little chat, resuming her little swaying-dancing once more, now that she’s not being jarred out of it by confusing thoughts like “Do I look at the Damselfly?”
Nat returns the gaze for a moment, then something weird happens. Ey seems to… see something in Kay’s expression, something behind her eyes, and the flirtatious expression pulls back, the sincerity pulls back, replaced by a… a caution. Eir face is still openly friendly, but ey noticed something that gave em pause, and when ey speaks again, it’s to Chrys.
“Didn’t you say you might bring your girlfriend, Chrys?”
“Oh, yes. That would be Gia. She was arguing with our – her – .. the bird again.” Her voice lowers a bit. “I personally suspect the bird is mocking her because of the name she gave it.” She takes a drink from her cocktail. “That, and she was feeling under the weather.”
Kay takes a long sip, then stands up, pushing back from the bar. “I think … I should get some air, for a second. But don’t go anywhere.” She grins and walks off.
“That makes sense! Lovely talking to you!” It was genuine, just… reserved. As Kay walked away, Nat continued speaking to Chrys. “I guess I would be pretty irritated if somebody named me Assmaster…”
“Assmaster Nine Thousand, in full. No. I do not know why. … It seems nice enough, and I’ve never seen it command a mule.”
“Um, ‘ass’ also means butt, Chrys.”
“Can one truly be a master of posteriors?”
“I do my best, but no. Not really. Gia seems like an interesting person.”
She clasps her hands a bit. “You would probably enjoy meeting the rest of me. I like to think most people do.”
Nat opens eir mouth, closes it, squints, then drifts down to the barstool. “So tell me more about how you’re more than one person.”
Chrys blinks. “Gia does all of the other things. The things I don’t do.” It’s not a very good explanation, but it seems perfectly sensible to the theoretical half-a-person. She eyes her cocktail, drains it. “Well. We do some of the same things. Gia is very good at video games.”
Someone pokes his head out into the room. “Yoooo.”
“Chad!” Nat grins and waves him over. “Chrys, have you met the Brozerker?”
“Not as such.” She inclines her head at Chad “Good evening.”
((Tag)) [hey all it might be time to merge the streams? – tili]((yeah let’s all skip to the bottom. -inu))
[THIS SCENE MERGES WITH THE OTHER AFTER THE NEXT SECTION]
On the street outside the club, Kay leans against the wall and hugs her arms to herself. What in the fuck is this?
She pulls out her phone and starts googling:
“Damselfly secret powers”
The results are… inconclusive, but suspicious. Lots of creepy men’s rights rhetoric, a trail of arrests, weird stalkers, and a truly stunning number of very, very obsessed people. It wouldn’t be hard to extrapolate that there is something… paranormal about the Damselfly’s ability to draw people in, but there’s just no proof.
A woman strides down the sidewalk, sizing up the Faerie Glen’s entrance like it’s the entrance to something truly terrifying. She takes a few steps forwards, then back. She’s a slender blonde, and at first you hardly notice her, but her third rotation finally draws your eye.
Wait, that face. The hair is wrong, but…
Kay looks up. Oh, my god. This is her lucky night. She pockets her phone and strides up to her. “Hi there. Are you looking for something?”
“Uh, haha, me? Well, y’know, I got a friend who works here, as a… dancer? I think that’s the right term. And I was thinking about, y’know… saying hi… as a friend, just dropping in to see my friend.”
“Oh sure! Uh … please don’t take this the wrong way, but I follow the news, and … are you Alice McGowan?” She smiles in what she hopes is a disarming fashion.
“…I am. Please tell me you’re not taping this.”
“Oh, jeez, no, I’m sorry.” She holds out a hand. “Kay Washington. I’m not press, don’t worry, just a fan.”
Alice shakes it. Her grip is firm. “Nice to meet you, Kay. Always great to meet a fan. Um, is there anything I can do, like, sign something or…?”
She laughs. “No, thanks. Ah, if you were hoping to catch Damselfly’s performance, I’m afraid you’re a little late … though ey might dance again tonight, I guess? I’m not sure what the schedule’s like.”
“Oh, that’s perfect, it’ll mean ey have clothes on.” (editor’s note: no it won’t) Alice breathes a sigh of relief. “I’m going to head in. Are you on your way out for the night?”
“No, no, just getting some air. It’s a little … close in there. But I was just talking to Nat when I left – I can show you right to em.”
“Fantastic! Thank you so much.”
((tag -transition?)) [yes I think so -Tili]
((MEANWHILE BACK IN THE FAERIE GLEN))
“Well, okay! Chad, this is Chrys. Chrys, Chad. Chad is a Legionnaire too, goes by Brozerker. He’s a great party guy, and he’s dating Jess, I think, and me too. We’re kind of like this… polycule thing.”
“Fascinating.” And Chrys seems to mean that.”I’ve not heard of such things. Well. Outside of fiction.” She throws another smile at Nat.
“Hey Chrys!” he grinned. “That’s a word Nat made up but I like it cause it don’t mean nothing.” Chad said, very confidently, and grabbed Nat up for massive makeouts.
“Mmf!” Nat is swept up and kissed before ey has time to react, but leans into it pretty quickly.
“A pleas-ohmy.” Chrys sort-of-sputters. Oh no. Her drink is empty. What to do what to do. Uh. Back to sort-of-swaying-and dancing. Just do that more intently. Safe plan. Grand plan.al
That boyish guy that was serving Kay earlier sweeps by and murmurs, “Another?” At Chrys’s nod, he sweeps away to comply.
Kay walks back into the club with a new friend in tow, and quickly rejoins Nat and Chrys at the bar. She waves hello to Chrys and … blinks, seeing that Nat is now … busy.
Alice looked at Nat and Chad, looked at the stage, and turned to the nearest employee. “Do you have wine?”
Chrys pretty much falls out of her seat, then turns it into a rather impressively intentional leap to her feet. She curtseys. “Ah. Good evening!”
Nat squeaks, then wriggles out of Chad’s grasp. “Okay so first of all, I didn’t make the word up, it’s totally a thing. Second: Alice!!”
Ey swoops over to the off-duty Oathkeeper and gives her a big hug.
Oh god, ey smells like emself and Chad. It’s like if Axe Body Spray actually did have pheromones in it.
Alice makes a face over Nat’s shoulder, but pats the Damselfly on the back, before realizing how few clothes ey is wearing. “Yes. Um, hello, I… wanted to thank you for come seeing me in the hospital, and…” She makes eye contact with the server and mouths: Bring the bottle.
The oiled-up greek statue of a boy winks and moves to obey.
Kay is breathing. Breathing. She looks at one of those drink-menu cards and realizes what she must do. Beckoning over the bartender, she orders a Zygoptera.
“Of course I came to see you in the hospital, you– you’re like–” Nat huffs, finally releasing Alice and folding eir arms. “I care about you, okay?”
“I care about you too, bug, and that’s why I’m… here.” Alice gladly accepts her first glass of red wine.
“Oh my gosh, you’re even using the Boss’s nickname for me. Um. Are you and Tabs okay yet? That was like. Awkward for a while.”
“Don’t worry. We made out. UP. We made up.” Alice finishes her glass of wine and pours another.
Nat gaped, then covered eir mouth with both hands, eyes glittering with poorly-suppressed glee. Fannish excitement and the desire to keep her eyes on Nat are as one in this moment filling Kay with joy.
“Those are very different words,” Chrys says in a tone that suggests this is useful information, and then she goes back to her delicious drink, and her not-quite-dancing.
“It’s the wine. Ha ha! Chad, how are you?”
His eyes went wide. SO wide. “Sexy…boss….ladies.” his brain is just a mess of mice running about very excited.
Alice poured herself some more wine and shook her head, lips pursed.
Kay takes a deep breath – wait, god dammit, that doesn’t help, stop doing that – and says, “So, Nat, who’s the boy?” Did that sound nonchalant? It sounded nonchalant, and not infuriated, right?
Chrys. Sort of scoots over a few chairs. Just in case people feel like they gotta get their makeouts on again.
“Oh, uh. Kay, hi.” Nat squints, like he didn’t expect her to… look the way she looks now? It’s not clear what ey was expecting but it wasn’t the Kay of right now. “Well, um, this is Chad. He’s one of my partners, and he’s also seeing my primary’s girlfriend. Oh shit, sorry, do these terms make any sense to you?”
Alice listens in, and it’s clear she’s mentally taking notes.
“Man Nat is so cute talkin like that.” Chad says, all starry eyed. It’s not really clear if he understands it all.
A man in black full body armor, along with an adorable german shepherd with a fabulously shiny coat walk in. He seems kind of awkward. “Uh. Don’t panic anybody. The big guy is new here and comes in peace.”
“Markus mah MANNNN SUP BRAH!?”
“Uh, yeah, no, you’re … poly? I guess? Cool, good for you.” “…thanks?” She’s definitely still staring at Nat, but at least it’s a little less intense now. “Nice to meet you, Chad. I’m Kay.”
“Yo, sup.” he offers his massive hand. His handshake has hints of being practiced so as not to accidentally crush anyone.
Through the doors, a gigantic snake thing slithers through the door. There are muscles that seem to be without skin on the upper torso, a wide bone structure around the head. Its upper and lower jaws are so full of teeth that it looks like a great white’s wet dream. Eight eyes cover the massive skull, tilting this way and that as a number of humans, staring at it, and its staring right back at them with the cats eyes. Two gigantic forelimbspikes made of alien steel help it slither along. Tiny little millipede like legs help the slithering, sinous movements of its tail as it rears up to its full height 8 feet, looking around.
Mentally, it broadcasts. “This is the breeding ground? So many lights.”
Nat stares at the creature, then at Markus. “I hope this doesn’t violate our fire code,” ey murmurs.
Kay frowns, staring at the monster in the door. To the group of people nearby, she asks, “Did you all just hear that? About … lights?”
Markus waves at his friends. “Nat! BRO! How’s it hanging!” And then his friend slithers in. He hears it’s call and just turns to him, tilting his head. You could only imagine the look on his face. “That’s so rude Ten. “Ten that asshole kid from twitter?” You need to study earth culture more. So rude.” He shook his head. “This is a….uhhhh….Nat. Can you help me educate. Pretty please?”
“Nah he’s the space ambassador man.”
Chrys brightens – yes, brightens. Her swaying continues apace, but she waves. “Oh! Hello hypothetical predator. It’s a pleasure to properly meet you!” Even the Ambassador gets a brilliant smile.
“Um,” Nat stammers, mind racing. Explaining weird stuff to people who didn’t understand it was kind of eir thing, though, and so it only took a few seconds: “Well… Ten? This is a multi-purpose entertainment venue. It’s not used as a mating ground, but sapients seeking mates may find suitable candidates here and then take them elsewhere for actual mating. In addition, controlled ingestion of psychotropic and mood-altering toxins, consumption of indulgent sustenance, and bright and loud stimuli can create a heightened emotional state that many people find exciting. I guess that’s sort of… a start?”
“Yeah we come here to PARTY!” Chad whooped with a fist pump!
Markus clapped his hands together and then pointed at the two of them. “Yes! That and that! You guys do have like….concepts of fun where you come from right? I’m happy to explain earth customs but sometimes I need some insight on how…the whole. Hive mind thing works. Yeah.” Markus scratched the back of his helmet.
The Ambassador lowers itself to its normal height of about six feet, the snakelike lower body coiling slightly. The eyes focus on Nat, and then one to the side focuses on Markus as they speak. After a moment, it broadcasts what can be translated into words, something like “We do not understand the concept of party. And it is a type of Earth Plumage. Interesting. To attract mates, and ingest artistic design enhancements. Our *untranslateable* design and commune with unique designs, sharing their visual and sensual experiences with the One Mind.” It slithers closer to Nat and the rest of the group, lower mandibles clacking and separating.
“That is our fun. New creations to be shared and sensed. As well as the Hunt.”
“Whoa, that’s…deep, man.”
As Ten approaches, Kay looks more and more agitated, fidgeting with the swizzle stick in her drink and tapping her fingers on the bar. When it finishes … speaking? She stands up, looking more than a little unsteady. “God, I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling well – where’s the restroom?”
“I gotta get out of here myself,” Alice confines in a low voice to Markus. “I’m drunk, and this is an alien race I haven’t met – this is a major diplomatic incident waiting to happen. Where’s the back door?”
The Faerie Glen staff appears from nearly out of nowhere to assist.
“Right this way,” Alex coos to Kay, leading her about toward the back of the club.
“A discreet exit for the discreet hero,” Adam smiles, guiding Alice in a similar but slightly different direction.
Chad shoots Nat a concerned look and an unspoken message, and stands quickly to escort Alice. “Oh, um. Hi,” the Greek Statue of a boy also escorting her looks up at Chad appreciatively. “Hey. Aaaa…..dam right?” he tries and winces a bit anticipating a fuckup. “I got this, you prob’ly wanna…keep a eye on things.” he almost runs into a pole. “Lookin’ good bro!” he blurts. Dammit!
Kay makes it into a stall and locks the door. There’s a horrible squelching, ripping noise from inside it. Alex, waiting outside the restroom, feels a cold shiver and doesn’t know why.
“Oh uh…right.” Markus says as Alice and Kay flee. He had gotten kind of used to this reaction when touring the big snake shark around town. “Huh. Well if you want to learn the concept of the party….I bet Chad can help us out with that sometime.” He frowned a little anyways though. He doubted the big alien dude would get it even if they tried. Worth a shot though.
Chrys is an excellent metronome. She keeps watching Ten and Markus, occasionally taking a long drink from her cocktail. And then it’s gone and oh no so are the servers oh noooo. She makes a small noise of sheer despair.
Chris to the rescue! Another employee, not quite as cut as Adam but still quite fit, swoops in and asks, “What are you drinking, honored guest?”
“One Zygoptera, coming up.”
“Alice!” Nat hisses after eir boss, then makes a ‘call me!’ gesture. Ey casts a concerned look over at the bathroom and receives a helpless shrug from Alex in response. After a moment of discombobulation, ey turns to the Tenebrian Ambassador. “Please don’t hesitate to ask about anything you want to know. I’ll be dancing again in a bit.”
The Ambassador clicks its mandibles together once, and there is a general feeling of agreement broadcasted towards Nat. One eye looks towards the exiting Alice. “That one smelled of one of your champions. And alcohol.” Another eye notices Chrys, whining about the alcohol. “Have we caused another incident?” “No. I am just not the best at crowds.” The ambassador sways like a snake, eyeing the humans. The massive forearm spikes help draw the ambassador over towards Markus. “We would appreciate seeing Earth artistry. The color mix is pleasing to the senses.” It settles a little in a coil near one of the bars, shaking its head.
“It’s impolite to talk about people’s smells.”That is how we identify your species. You all look the same.” Especially when they are in earshot.” Markus scolded, a tone of voice the ambassador was no doubt at this point used to. “And I don’t think that was a general, I mean sure they look a little like alice but….I don’t think she’s ever had her hair that short.” He shrugged. “Let’s find a table with chairs we can move out of the way, and I will buy you a drink my friend.” As he walks by he quietly thanks every server dearly for being so cool about him possibly scaring their customers away.
Chrys and her swaying halt – rather abruptly. She seems almost alarmed by her own stop. She blinks, noticing Alex. Waiiiit. Wait. Hang on. Kay went that way. Now that fellow looks concerned. She slides out of her seat and strides over to Alex. “….Is ah. Is there a problem? You look–” She gestures. Vaguely. Surely Alex will be able to interpret her hand-waving.
“Just, ah, keeping track of the nice lady who’d been sitting with you. I think she might be sick?”
There’s a noise from the stall like claws on the tile, or scraping against the door.
“..That is the most impressive bout of sickness I have ever head,” Chrys says somewhat flatly. “..I. Believe I ought to check on her, yes?”
“You’re both– Nat’s friends, right? Yeah maybe you should. Yes.”
“Yes.” It is completely impossible to tell if she’s agreeing that they’re Nat’s friends or that she should be checking. If the door’s not locked though, she’s gonna head straight in. Nothing bad could ever come of busting into a (rest)room unannounced.
The Tenebrian slithers after Markus, hissing quietly to itself. “These drinks are your mind altering substances?” It questioned mentally as it curled itself around the table, forearms clacking into the floor to guide it. “And our senses are usually not wrong. We were made to be able to identify and adapt to your species.” The ambassador sounds almost huffy.
Nat fidgets nervously, eyes flickering between Markus and the Ambassador. Ey doesn’t seem to know whether ey should clarify or keep quiet about the ‘champion’ comment.
The door to Kay’s stall is locked, but shortly after Chrys knocks [or walks up to it, if she doesn’t knock], she hears a horrible squelching, ripping sound and then, Kay’s voice:
“Chrys? What’s up?”
“That. … is what I was going to ask. Are you feeling well?” She seems surprisingly unshaken by the horrid noises, voice as even and chipper as can be. “That is – We were thinking you were, perhaps sick? And there were” What do you even define the stuff you just heard as, Chrys? “…Noises.”
“… oh, god. I’m so sorry. Hang on, I’m just getting dressed, I’ll be right out.” There’s the sound of someone pulling on clothes. “It … uh … I’m actually a Para too, and something about the … atmosphere in here just -” She opens the door. She looks completely fine, though her hair’s a bit mussed. “Didn’t agree with me,” she finishes. “But I should be totally all right now.”
“Ah. Very good, then.” She hmmms. “If the atmosphere continues to trouble you, perhaps we could step outside? Proper fresh air – … well. As fresh as one can get in the city – may do you good?” There is the distinct feeling you just became her ward for the evening, Kay.
Kay sighs, and moves past to adjust her hair in the bathroom mirror. “Yeah, you may be right … it’s a shame, I was really having a good time! I just …” She shivers. “Eh. I wanna go back out for a bit at least, anyway. But don’t worry, I won’t overdo it.”
“Oh, yes, yes. Absolutely. Let us see how it goes!” Chrys seems content the suggestion. “Er. Would you prefer I wait for you outside?” Yes. Good question. Good job, self.
“No, no, let’s just head back to the bar. I’m all set.”
A brilliant grin, and she holds the door open for Kay.
“Yeah yeah adapt to our species sure.” Markus chuckles and takes his seat next to the strange beast. “Let’s get something easy on the alcohol percentage to start off with. Don’t want the guy thinking i’m trying to poison him. Or girl. Or. Uh.” He scratched his helmet again. This job was really weird. He kind of missed escorting Summer around. At least she was….sort of human. Ish. He shook his head a bit. “Shouldn’t think that way!” He silently reminded himself.
The Tenebrian Ambassador looks at Markus with all eight eyes. It gives off the unnerving impression that it knows what Markus is thinking. Plus, it looks like it might eat him. But it looks like it might eat everyone. One eye turns towards Nat. It brodcasts to Nat, “Our people indulge in artistry of sense of eyes, smell, taste, touch, and share them with each other. Your people do the same with your…. Internet, is this not true? But it is limited. How does one share an experience over long distances?”
Kay and Chrys emerge and return to the bar, where Kay orders a beer.
Alex scurries after the two of them, making sure that they’re all right and have all the drinks and food they need.
“We use the tools we have,” Nat shrugs a little, “language to describe our feelings and sensations, art to summarize it. It’s imperfect, but in some ways that communication becomes its own entity in our culture. The imprecision of our communication informs the art we create. Welcome back, ladies!”
Kay smiles and waves. “Hey, Nat. Ah … hello again, Ten. Hi Markus.”
Chrys waves, too. “Hello! Again, I imagine.” She slowly seems to come to a realization, and turns to Alex. “Do. … Are milkshakes a choice?”
“Absolutely,” Alex confirms, then places a hand gently on Kay’s shoulder. “Are you feeling all right, now? I realize that the Damselfly can sometimes have an, um. Effect on some folks.”
Chad pops back in, seeming pensive.
Markus doesn’t really seem to be afraid of the ambassador despite that look. He just seemed tired from the long hours his job demands. Hell, that was why he brought them here. “Yeah…honestly I couldn’t imagine living in a perfect world. It’d be….boring.” He shrugged.
The Ambassador clicked its lower jaw mandibles twice. It seems to be some kind of recognition, or greeting, Markus might realize. Then it broadcasted back to Markus, as its eyes focused on the man. “We have never claimed to live in a perfect world. These new experiences bring more information into our Mind, and we adapt and change. Perfection is a goal, that can never be achieved.” It thinks at everyone… diplomatically. A few eyes focused on Kay, and it rose up a little in its ‘coil’. The jaws moved a little wider, and the forearm spikes moved solidly in position against the floor.
Markus poked a finger into the folds of the ambassadors snake skin. “Hey. Staring is rude. Stop that.” With each sentence he added another firm, but unthreatening poke.
Over her shoulder to Alex, Kay says “… ah. That’s a known bug? I… I guess … is it all right, though, if I stay in the bar? I really think I’m feeling better now. You don’t have to worry about me.”
Her brows furrow as she sees the Ambassador … squaring up at her? She takes a pull on her beer.
“Kind of,” Alex says, uncertain of how much he should say. “You should probably ask em yourself.”
Chad throws looks between the two, moving subtly into a space almost between them, but he doesn’t say anything.
Chrys shifts very subtly in her seat, after spotting what’s caught Chad’s attention. Better safe than sorry. “…So- So. You said something about yes milkshakes, right?” She hesitates, then with far too much enthusiasm blurts, “is there mint chocolate chip?”
“What is a Milkshake?” The thought broadcast of the Ambassador is unperturbed.
“Do you want the earth definition or the kind of definition you are probably going to look up on the internet later?” “sacrilege.”
The Ambassador turns back to Markus, then with definite defiance, looks at Chrys. “We, too, would like a Mint Chocolate Chip Milkshake.” Arrogantly defiant and mildly curious in its thought broadcast.
“Yes. This is a correct choice. At all times.”
“Alex, why don’t you just bring a whole bunch of shakes. Malted vanilla too, okay?”
Chrys may never live down that “eee” and clap. “Make mine malted chocolate, and thank you so much!”
Alex smiled and… blushed a little? “Happy to!”
“Oh sure, ignore the guy who is paying.” Luckily the mask kept anyone from seeing Markus roll his eyes. Meanwhile Frank walked in, munching a hotdog. “How’s it going boss?” Markus rolled his head in his hands. “Frank aren’t you supposed to be doing weapons training right now?”
Kay smiles at Nat. “That was a good call. When you’re finished being a stripper, clearly you’ve gotta start a new life as an alien negotiator, Nat.” She rests her elbows on the bar and her chin on her hands, looking at em.
“Uhm,” ey scratches the back of eir head. “You’d be surprised how useful it is in this job.”
“Ha … yeah …” She swallows. “I’m … I should ask … Alex mentioned you sometimes, well, have an effect on people, and …” She trails off, then re-boards her train of thought. “God, my point is, I’m sorry, and if you’d like me to leave I will.”
Nat blinks. “That’s…” ey knits eir brow. “No, you don’t have to– you’re kind of different, aren’t you?”
The Ambassador nods politely to Frank, picking that up from humans. It appreciates the human who always is eating.
“Uh … different how?”
Frank shrugs off Markus’s question. “Want a bite? It’s meat?” The ambassadors past experiences with frank have been most pleasant.
“We would consume this.” The Ambassador’s thought process is humorlaced. Everything is meat, clearly. Silly human.
Nat lowered eir voice, so it was only audible to Chrys and Kay. “I can tell that my Lure hooked you, but you’re… walking away, and shaking it off on purpose. And then coming back.”
“…yeah, I mean …” Kay tries to … breathe normally? Shallowly? It is incredibly inconvenient that normal relaxation breaths don’t work here. “I don’t … want to eat you, or something, that would be awful. But I’m really enjoying hanging out. So.”
“Do you typically want to eat people?” Chrys sounds genuinely curious, as opposed to mocking or joking. “I suppose you probably don’t. You did say awful.”
“Not normally, no.” Very emphatic and flat. “I’m not some kind of … predatory monster. Jesus.”
“I get that that’s probably a given for you,” Nat says, “but it kind of isn’t for me. I’ve been targeted by some… real predatory monsters who looked a lot like people. But I believe you when you say that.”
Chad’s arm slipped casually around Nat’s waist and snugged her close; he didn’t’ seem to be paying much attention.
Frank hands him a piece of his hotdog. He plops it in the shake. “Tastes better that way.” He assures. He is completely earnest and sincere. Markus just looks in shock. He is being Frank.
The Ambassador’s eating habits leave something to … be desired. In that it consumes the shake, the paper cup it was in, the straw, and the hotdog piece in two large, lightning quick bites. There’s a loud gulp and one can see the powerful throat muscles roll down towards the stomach area.
Chrys hasn’t said anything, completely engrossed in now having a milkshake. Life is complete. She peers around at everyone else with her wide, permanently surprised-seeming brown eyes. Slurp.
“God, yeah, I get that.” Kay sits back and rubs her temples. “Sorry. I know you can’t tell the difference by looking between a safe person and a creep. I mean, I work in tech, there’s a fuckload of monsters in suits.” She sighs. “But – I mean, is there an … antidote?”
Nat averted eir gaze. “No idea.”
“… well, would it be all right if I came to your next dance night?” She can’t hide the desperate hope in her words, alas.
Frank watched as the shake was devoured, almost with a chunk of the table. “Maybe now you can help me with something. You had two bites. One with hotdog, one without. Which one was better?” Markus just stared with his mouth open inside his helmet. So this was Franks plan all along. To prove to Markus once and for all that hotdog in milkshake was a good thing. Classic Frank.
“I think that’d be okay, yeah,” Nat replied, then thought about it, then asked: “what if we, like. Went out for coffee or something, and I brought some friends, and they sat kinda close but not super close. I feel like we should talk about this more.”
“Oh. Wow, yes! Honestly, I’d love to meet more of your friends regardless – Chad seems like a ton of fun – yes, please!” The words come out in a rush.
“Huh what?” he’d been distracting gnawing on Nat’s shoulder. “Yeah let’s party! We should…should totally party.” a pause. “Right?” He totally knew what they were talking about. Yep.
The Tenebrian Ambassador stiffens suddenly, spines rippling along its back. Which promptly garners Chrys’ attention It’s thought tone, once laced with humor, is deadly serious, as it turns to Markus. “There is an issue. We must return to orbit.”
A vague, muffled sound. Chrys waves slowly. “ave-un-n-sps”
“He’s very dear,” Nat pats Chad’s shoulder, “though you should probably meet our other two partners at some point. They have… other strengths. Oh!” Nat noticed the Ambassador’s change in demeanor late. “You’re leaving! Um, thanks for coming by! Hope it was a good time!”
Politely, the thought broadcast is to Nat and the general area. “It was enjoyable to experience and share this with the Mind. We may return for more perspective.” The mandibles click three times loudly, before it begins slithering out towards the exit, not minding its handlers.
“Kinda weird guy. Cool, though.” is Chad’s verdict now that the Ambasador was not longer steppin’ up.
Kay decides to start alternating drinks of beer and milkshake. It’s a good combo. She smiles at Chad. “I’d so love to go on, I guess, a … double date? Or something? I’ve got poly friends but I haven’t really done it myself.” “Haha poly’s a weird kinda word isn’t it what does that even mean.”
“This sounds much more like Jess’s jam than Fi’s,” Nat nods thoughtfully. “How bout it, Chad? You, Jess, Kay, and me. Double date. I’ll talk to Fi, but I’m learning that I can only drag her out of the apartment so many times a week.”
“Yeah, our Bee is kinda a homebunny.” he nodded. “Man I useta have the worst time tryin’ to get her out dancin.” he took another sip of beer and then blinked. “Yeah yeah totally! Let’s do it! We can go to that place with the huge stuffed pizzas.”
Faintly: “Did- Did someone say pizza?” “You’re not even in this scene, c’mon.”
“Where is that? I live in Rock City, and I work a lot, so I might not be able to make it out to Boulder all the time.” It’s as though some connection has slotted into place, and the vague pauses and awkwardness are gone. She takes out her phone and opens a calendar app; it’s jam-packed.
His business being done, Frank left. Markus now approached the others, taking off his helmet to reveal a somewhat sweaty and tired face. “Hey guys how’s it going?”
“I can get to Rock City pretty easy, though I should check with my– other job. About what my legal status is there, and teleporter licenses and stuff. Oh hey, Markus. Your friend is… interesting.”
“He’s…..kind of more of a job than a friend?” Markus grimaced. “Rock city though…I hear that place is like. Really fancy or something? Got a cool rock monster man who has an awesome voice.”
“It’s a great place to live, but it’s expensive as hell. My apartment is, like, big enough to fit me and a fridge and nothing else,” she jokes.
“You should come hang at me and Markus’ place! It’s TOTALLY SWEET.”
…SLuuuuuurp. “How sweet is totally sweet,” inquires the milkshake addict
“Not everybody has unlimited teleporter access, gang,” Nat chides. “It’d be a lot easier for us to get to Rock City than vice versa.”
“I was only asking. I am not so presumptuous to assume the invitation extended to me.” …That god-awful sound a straw makes when there’s not that much liquid left. Chrys looks heartbroken.
“Like SUPER sweet! I got a big hookah and a huge bed I built in college and a huge plasma tv and Markus just got us a 3-bit 20K VR setup, it’s tight!”
Nat swiveled in midair and, with the placid air of someone who was used to cracking jokes like this, said, “Chrys, if you wanted to date me too, you only had to ask.”
“Oh, heavens, darling. I’m married on the astral plane.”
Kay smiles. “Teleporter’s pretty doable for me, actually. The real issue is work – speaking of which, I should head out. I’ve got a meeting tomorrow morning.” She hails down a bartender or server to settle her tab.
“Oh no, don’t even,” Nat shook eir head. “Leave a tip if you’d like, but this is my treat. For all of you.”
She whistles quietly. “Damn, Nat, thank you. I’ll just get my card back and make sure to tip well, then. Like I said before – great service.”
Chrys fishes in her pocket and deposits a tip on the counter that’s probably about twice as much as what she would’ve paid.
Yes. She just went around your rule.
Nat smiles, not seeming bothered by the exorbitant tip; it’d go straight into eir friends’ pockets, which suited the Damselfly just fine.
She hesitates. Peers at the bartender. “..do. Can I- Get milkshakes to go?” The woman has priorities.
The bartender looks down at the tip, then up at Chrys. “Yes. How many and what kind, we’re on it.”
“Two? And mint chocolate chip again. Ohh! Do you think some of that mint stuff you have would be good in them?”
“Creme de Menthe? Absolutely. We have an alcoholic milkshake, actually, we call it the frozen grasshopper. Creme de Menthe, Creme de Cacao, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. You want it?”
“I’ll have the horchata spice boozeshake, actually,” Nat piped up. “Me too.”
Kay gets her card back and scribbles on the receipt, then stands to leave. “Thanks for a lovely evening, Nat. And it was really great meeting you all.” She takes off.
“Bye! Talk soon!” And then Chad scooped up Nat and tossed them over his shoulder and hauled off this most excellent prize!