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Win Hands Down

Win Hands Down

Heavy metal's not the job to make your fortune, but if you have the passion and a bit of guts, there's no better way to go. [Full]

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Topics: bass, drums, guitar, metal, music, original, and rock (Add Tags »)
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Introduction

With boots on ground
Win hands down!
A giant sound,
Win hands down!
Just maintain
Then drop the reins
And place my crown,
Win hands down!


-Armored Saint, "Win Hands Down"

Summer 2010. Baltimore, Maryland. In the midst of this hot and smelly city, you and your band head into the Studio With No Name. You've been paying your dues for a while already, whether in this band or others. You're ready for evolution, you're ready for the breakthrough. The Good News: It's within your grasp. The Bad News: You gotta work for it. But you're young, scrappy, and hungry...and not alone.

Call it luck, call it fate, call it shitty booking practices, but there's another band in the Studio With No Name. They're like you, unproven, but ready to prove. Do you know them? Do you hate them? Do you care?

One thing's for sure. All of you have your shot. Are you going to throw it away or take it?

~~~~~~

So, out of character. This is a band RP, obviously. It's gonna be pretty small. We'll be having two quartets for the bands, and four players playing two characters each, one main and one side. The two bands are Sturm and Psychosis. Sturm is my group and Psychosis is Lonesome Matsuzaka's group, so PM us respectively if you're interested in discussing the band dynamic and genre for those bands.

Though this is based off previous RP's, we own all of the characters that we are reusing here. That is all. Look forward to seeing your profiles!

....

....

What are you still doing here?

Oh, you need the character skeleton. Right.

Code: Select all
[b]Full Name:[/b] (Character's full name including embarrassing names. Informal name should be in the "name" slot)

[b]Stage Name:[/b] (If any)

[b]Age:[/b] (22-42, approximately)

[b]Birthday:[/b] (Why not?)

[b]Appearance:[/b] (Would prefer description rather than simply slapping a faceclaim down here, though you can use an actor or drawing in the thumbnail, as I do. No animesque faceclaims. Please include some description of your character's outfit on and off-stage)

[b]Role:[/b] (This is two-fold. Firstly, is this character your main or your side? Secondly, what is this character's instrumental role in which band?)

[b]Musical Style:[/b] (Describe how your character plays here. Include their influences and level of instruction. Please keep this realistic; these characters are not virtuosos. Diversity is possible, but inversely proportional to skill level on any one instrument)

[b]Instruments:[/b] (Include the instruments the character plays primarily in the studio. Limit this to three instruments. Please use real instruments. Pictures are preferred for reference. For drums, describing the kit will work fine unless you happen to have a model kit. [b]If you need help with instruments, PM me or Lonesome Matsuzaka[/b])

[b]Personality:[/b] (The importance of this part cannot be overstated. This dictates how the character interacts. At least a good paragraph, please. Include character tics like an accent, a stammer, etc.)

[b]Biography:[/b] (This is also very important. Your character may have been a session musician before, or have been in bands previously. Describe all of that here and more: Their childhood, their adolescence, etc, leading up to when the RP starts. Try to be specific unless the character would not reveal a given piece of information. About a paragraph or two.)

Rules

1. Conduct yourselves in a civil manner when OOC. No slapfights. Personal conflict is to be resolved in PM. Conflict over characters' actions shall be arbited by Lonesome Matsuzaka or me, if that is necessary.

2. This is a literate RP. Please use proper rules of English grammar in narration and framing dialogue (dialogue may be ungrammatical as suits the character).

3. Overall I would prefer posts to be longer than 300 words. For dialogue with repeated short lines, I recommend collaborating to make a megapost, while sticking with one character's perspective, for ease of reading. If you take this route, please note so in OOC. If you prefer to have a post for each line of dialogue, I can relax the 300-word minimum, but don't overuse this.

4. The GM's shall act as GM's primarily to settle disputes. Primarily, we want to RP with y'all, so just be civil and we'll do likewise. By and large the plot will be character-driven.

5. For the sake of evenness, each player will have two characters. One of these will be your main, the other will be your side. Please play them accordingly.

6. Please have at least some familiarity with your character's main instrument and how music works in general. If you don't know theory that's OK, your character may not have to either.

7. This RP is rated PG-13 in terms of sexual content. Romance is permitted (and all but encouraged for plot's sake), but anything beyond "making out" should be taken to PM. As for language, no words are off-limits so long as they are fitting for the character and situation.

8. Work out all relationships with other members in the OOC topics provided or via PM. Please do not try to force any in-character relationships or statuses. The same applies to the bandmembers' intra-band roles; don't try to force (for example) that your character does all the writing unless you've discussed it previously.

9. As if it needs to be said, PLEASE HAVE FUN. The rules should be simple enough to follow and still have lots of fun! If you've read all of these rules, please put "Rock of Ages" somewhere in your character's profile.

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Add New »Show All »Characters

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Enigmatic founder of Psychosis
Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Miniature Dane and supremely laidback drummer of Sturm
Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson The snarling axeman and co-founder of Sturm
Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Axeman of Sturm by way of jazz
Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Somewhat misanthropic lead guitarist of Psychosis
Character Portrait: Rick Silva
Rick Silva played by Erik7622
Zenlike bassist of Psychosis
Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Drinks!
Character Portrait: Zack Walker
Zack Walker played by iCakez
Rumble-man of Sturm.

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These poor, unfortunate souls were once a part of this great world, but have been abandoned. Why don't you consider viewing their profiles and making a decision on whether or not you can roleplay them accurately?


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Events

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Setting

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Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva
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A NEW DAY

The moment Lionel opened the rear door of Ted's car to place his guitar, he noticed the case wedged between the backseat and the seatbacks was different—one of those smaller semi-rigid cases, not the beat-up hard case. He didn't say anything, though. Perhaps Ted had gotten a new case for "Blue Fire" at the shop; he'd mentioned needing new strings. A new case wouldn't be amiss for a guitar that Ted prized so highly.

They departed from Lionel's apartment to the strains of Traced in Air. Lionel asked if he could put something else on. To his surprise, Ted obliged. After searching the center console to find only some assorted jazz records and something hand-labelled "SP new band" (what), Lionel understood why. This was the most metallic they were gonna get until they reached the Studio.

"Next time, I'm bringin' some fuckin' Accept," he muttered.

Unseen by him, Ted smirked. They continued with only Cynic filling the air for a while.

At length, Lionel ventured, "I dig the new case."

"Hm?"

Lionel pointed his thumb backwards. "The Gator. Bet it's lighter."

"Oh, it is," Ted said. "The guitar's not much lighter, but the case is worlds better. It's even got a padded strap—"

"Wait wait wait," Lionel held up a hand. "You went out to buy strings."

"Yeah, and I bought strings."

"And a case."

"Yeah."

"...And?"

Ted sighed theatrically. "I was hoping the reveal would be when we got there, but...yeah. I bought a guitar. Case came with it."

"You. Ted Marubini. Bought and are using a guitar that ain't Blue Fire."

"I'm not BB King," Ted retorted.

"Hey, I ain't judgin'," Lionel said with a chuckle. "It's just weird. Like Accept doing a schmaltzy ballad."

"They didn't?"

"No?"

"I thought they had a couple. Wind of—"

"That was Scorpions," Lionel cut him off with a hint of irritation, then continued, "And we're getting off-topic. What kinda guitar?"

Ted hesitated, then got a smug look. "You'll see when we get there."

"Damn."

Fortunately, they were almost there. And indeed, once they got situated in their rehearsing room, Lionel saw the new guitar.

"Hot damn!" Psychosis may have heard it.

-----

Rick certainly did. Fortunately, he heard it from the kitchenette between halves of the studio, not from the recording room or the Psychosis rehearsal room. He didn't pay it much mind. The bass tracking was almost done; only "Brutalised and Skinned Alive" remained. Izzie was listening to his last take while he grabbed a cup of water. He thought it was fine, but it was Izzie's song, Izzie's band. He was the most senior bandmember, but he never held illusions about being more than that.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker
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He reached over the bass and seized his coffee mug, taking a sip. He’d been up early and had gotten a lot done today. It had left him with plenty of time to fiddle around, and now he was stringing up and adjusting his bass. Zack enjoyed a well-adjusted, newly-stringed bass more than most other things in the world. Some people found that weird – even other musicians. He grumbled in his beard and set the coffee down, tightening the last leg to around where he figured was the right note. He fished out the tuner and plugged it in and began tuning his bass.

A few moments later he was done. Of course, Zack knew that he’d be tuning several times today, but new strings never hurt a recording. He took the bass of the table he’d made specifically for the purpose of working on his instrument, and put it back in its case. Then, just to be sure, he got out his phone and shot Christina a text.

‘Hey. Just checking. You live?’

Zack smirked and turned, grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.

When he reached the studio, he got his things out and went inside – coffee and bass in tow. He walked into their room and offered a couple of nods in greeting, then set his bass down and sat down on an amp. It took a second and another sip of coffee to figure out that Lionel and Ted were staring at something. Or admiring? What were they doing.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Zack asked, a growing excitement spreading in his stomach.

They were staring at something in a guitar case. That had to mean either new guitar or that some improvement had been made. Either way, Zack was curious.


In her less-than-expectedly messy apartment, Ada was still fast asleep. There was a glass of rum & coke next to her bed and her clothes were sprawled everywhere. She had initially decided to go home and have a quiet night in, but as that got boring rather quickly, she had decided to go out on the town. Ada had considered asking her bandmates, but she’d remembered that she didn’t want to die. Izzy might kill her just by having her keep up with her, and Val might just kill her. Ada was even less shy when she was drunk.

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Christina was not in a good way.

She woke up that morning-- or was it afternoon?-- to two lovely wake-up gifts. One of them was the vibration of her phone, which had inexplicably ended up on her forehead at some point before she'd fallen asleep. This had the effect of exacerbating the second wake-up gift, which happened to be a pounding, pounding headache.

With a wretched groan, she dragged herself up to a sitting position, leaning back against the wall of her bedroom and letting her phone tumble into her lap in the process. "Mistakes," she declared laboriously to nobody at all. "Have been made." Well, at least she had nothing planned for the rest of the day; she was entirely at liberty to bury herself under the blankets, shove her head under a pillow, and go right back to--

Her phone buzzed again-- the text message from earlier. The moment she glanced at the name of the sender, she nearly groaned again: Operation Stay In Bed and Ignore the World was a no-go. She was due at the studio in... She blinked, trying to figure out just what time was flashing across the top of her phone's display, before giving up and rubbing at her eyes. If she wasn't currently late, she certainly would be very soon, unless she summoned up the will to get out of bed. And right now, the odds of that weren't looking too good.

To her credit, it only took Christina about two minutes to part ways with the enticing prospect of giving Sturm the metaphorical finger and going back to bed. With a Herculean groan that implied she was bearing the burdens of Atlas himself, Christina lifted herself off the bed, and began to get dressed, muttering all the while that this was definitely the last time she got that drunk.

Also to her credit, by the time she arrived at the studio, Christina was doing what she personally considered a stellar job at pretending she wasn't hungover to hell and back. She made for the little kitchenette between the two recording rooms, intent on snagging herself a cup of coffee, and stopped short when she found it occupied by a tall, dark, and potentially handsome (she wasn't a great judge of such things when she felt like she was being treated to the lyrical content of Demolition Hammer's Skull Fracturing Nightmare) fellow. She blinked, and tried to figure out which of her bandmates this guy was, employing once again her trusty process of elimination. No beard, so it clearly wasn't Zack. He had a shirt on, so it clearly wasn't Lionel. He wasn't currently excoriating Christina for being late, so it clearly wasn't Ted.

Oh, wait-- this guy must be from that other band, Psoriasis. Having spent about ten seconds staring at him trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, Christina flashed him a genial smile. "Howdy, neighbour," she said. "I don't suppose there's any coffee to be had here?"

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Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker
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Some musicians get an offshoot of stage fright that turned more into a fear of being looked at, an intense awareness of when any eyes were on them, whether those eyes numbered two or two hundred. Rick did not have this, so it took him a bit to realize someone was staring at him. It did not take him nearly as long to remember she was the small chica from the other band (Storm?), somehow Ada's counterpart in gender, size, and instrument.

Fortunately, she was not Ada's counterpart for inexplicable flirtatiousness. Her smile was merely professional friendliness, a necessity when two bands shared space. The smile was also a prelude to an important question. Unfortunately for her, Val had beaten Rick to the studio (again), and had thereby claimed the right to Don Cafedor (again).

"Coffee, no," Rick said, glancing at the half-full pot across the room, behind the new arrival. "Black sludge from the devil's armpit, yes," he added, loud enough to be heard in the control room, if the door were open. He never put anything in coffee, unless Val brewed it—as she had today. Maybe it helped her get those lightning sweeps, maybe it helped her keep up with Ada, but it was still too strong.

Abruptly, a weird discordant noise came from elsewhere in the studio. That had better not be Izzie's thoughts on the last take...

-----

Meanwhile, in the rehearsal room, Ted had finally gotten over looking at the new guitar and slung it over his shoulder. It felt reasonably similar to Blue Fire, but a tiny bit sharper where the upper line met his ribcage.

He flipped on the practice amp, turned the knobs to a position that sounded good, gave an experimental thumb-pluck on the low string. Sounded good. Now, all that remained was to baptize it with the chord to end all chords. F#m, add 4, flat 7. He strummed it to produce a distorted mess of dissonant notes and fret noise, because some jackass at the store had detuned it before putting it in the case.

After muting the horrible mess, Ted glared at the headstock. "Hang on a sec," he sighed, stomping the tuning pedal.

"Mother of fuck," Lionel groaned. "Warn me before you do that shit, God!" He then turned to Zack. "Sup, Zack. Please tell me you tuned your bass already."

"Bite me," Ted muttered, before giving a quick glimpse to make sure Lionel wasn't about to take him at his word.

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In his beard, he grinned at the exchange of words between Lionel and Ted. He'd just finished tuning his instrument as Lionel spoke to him. In return, Zack nodded and countered with a series of notes that descended into something eerie and finally chest-rumbling deep. The past few days, Zack had been really into extremely heavy and slow riffs. The sort of teeth-grinding churning of distorted noise that made you want to scream along. As if it was some slow build up of energy, waiting to be released. Zack nodded to himself with approval, suddenly all the more eager to get on with practice.

"Now, you two play nice." The bearded brute (who was not so much an actual brute) mumbled and looked serious at them for a moment. "We're one short drummer down. Did she go for some of that black gold?" He asked, partly to himself and partly to his friends.

She does function best after a pot or two of coffee.. Zack thought to himself. Then he reminded himself that if he were to play drums at that speed, he'd need a lot of coffee as well. Or cocaine... The thought occurred to him, but he quickly shook his head and was rid of it.

No one wanted to experience Zack on cocaine.




"Fuck off."

"Fuck. Off."

"FUCK OFF!"

In a hurricane of bed sheets, bra's, hair, charger wires and comics did she awaken from her slumber. Equal to that of a rodeo bull was the wrath and rage in her eyes as she sat, looking like she'd stepped out of a horror movie. Hair tangled, dressed in naught but a t-shirt and underwear. Ada was awake.

"Oh fuck me."

She was also late.

The source of the incessant vibrating was her phone. It lay on the floor and moved as it vibrated. She turned the alarm off and was made all too aware of how hungover she was, now that her head was so close to the floor.
"Oh my god." She sat up abruptly and tried not to vomit. So far so good. A morning could not be spent worse in her opinion. She was hungover, tired, unclean and late. And pretty sure that at least two of her band mates might actually murder her.

Frantically, she gathered her things, washed herself quickly, brushed her teeth, dressed herself, brushed her hair and stormed out the door, managing to grab a banana on the way. Fortunately, her instrument was already there.

"Fucking hell I hope Val made coffee today."

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If the broad grin Christina flashed was any indication, the prospect of black sludge from the Devil’s armpit (wasn’t that one of Deicide’s albums?) was not an altogether unwelcome one. “Nice to know I’m not the only person in this studio who fancies their coffee on the stronger side,” she hummed pleasantly, and she went about pouring herself a cup.

“So how long have you been with Psychosis?” she piped up as she poured, glancing at Rick with an expression that was quintessentially Christina’s—a friendly smile, easygoing, with the faintest shade of something like badinage hanging over it like wisps of cloud in a sunny blue sky. She’d been told by any number of people that they sometimes couldn’t tell if she was poking fun at them for something they weren’t aware of, and her statements to the contrary were not helped by that accompanying smile. Still, the words were amiable enough, spoken in such a manner as implied she didn’t intend them as empty small talk any more than she expected the bassist (Ron?) to commit himself to anything more than just that.

.

.

.

The door to Psychosis’s nook of the studio had indeed been open, and Valentina had indeed heard Rick’s little crack about her preferred coffee preparation methods. Unsurprisingly, she chose not to dignify it with a response.

Instead, she peered surreptitiously over at Izzie, sitting next to her with her chin resting on her palm, headphones still nestled in the greying mane of her hair, wearing an expression of practised dispassion. It wasn’t a look that betrayed much to the incognisant observer, not even to most people who at varying points had called themselves Izzie’s bandmates, but Valentina knew better. She knew that when Izzie snapped on those headphones and started listening to a bandmate’s take, she was scrupulously comparing it to the version in her head and weeding out the slightest discrepancy between the two. Izzie had worn much the same expression back when she’d been Valentina’s guitar tutor, listening to her then-student play through an exercise.

It was an expression that would perhaps have filled Valentina with anxiety if not for the fact that it pretty much always immediately preceded Izzie’s frank and unadulterated opinion on whatever she’d just been listening to. Case in point, she plucked the headphones off her head, set them down, and said, moderating her voice so it wouldn’t be heard in the coffee cranny, “I think he can do a smoother job with the sweeps leading into that final slam.”

“You’re going to make him retrack the whole thing over ten seconds of sweeping,” Valentina shot back.

It wasn’t a question, but Izzie answered nonetheless. “If I didn’t think he could do better, I wouldn’t. But I know he can, so I will.” When she caught Mini-Martinez sporting a dubious expression, she arched an eyebrow, and added, “It’s a compliment.”

“Right,” Valentina deadpanned. “I know I sure felt super complimented when you made me do like twenty takes for the solo on Angstloch.”

“To be honest, the second take was perfectly fine. The subsequent eighteen were just to mess with you.” Izzie offered a crooked smile. Valentina rolled her eyes.

If she had some appropriately sardonic volley lined up in response, however, it was pre-empted by the sound of somebody entering the studio—hurriedly, by the sound of it. “That had better be our erstwhile drummer,” Izzie said; that rare levity had vanished from her gruff voice. She was all professionalism again now, as usual, and lateness was a professional infraction. “I respect your time and expect you to show the band the same courtesy” was the standard refrain where that was concerned.

“I’ll go administer the cigarette and blindfold,” Valentina mumbled, standing up and making for the hall. Sure enough, there Ada was, looking… “Are you hungover?” Valentina all but whispered, glancing at the open door to Psychosis’s area. Izzie wasn’t going to be amused by this at all. Izzie was no teetotaller, certainly not, but Valentina had heard her recount enough scathingly-narrated tales of booze screwing up band mates’ performances or behaviour to suspect that, of the many things Izzie did not tolerate in her band, lateness incurred by drink was probably up there.

Valentina looked back at the open door, and then back at Ada, gnawing at her lip for a moment. “You better tell Izzie you were sick or something this morning,” she finally said, looking nothing if not conflicted about the whole affair. “She’s gonna be pissed if you say you were late ‘cause you were drinking.”

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Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva
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The rumbly bass lick improved Lionel's mood immensely. Being reminded that they were still down one member, on the other hand, did not.

"Haven't seen her," he replied. "But if she ain't here yet, she'll be here..." He lost track of his train of thought. "Lemme check," he said, abandoning his guitar midway through setup. As he started out, he began calculating the odds that Christina might get Ted's somewhat infamous Ray—allegedly borrowed from Benny Goodman—upon her arrival. The lead axe-slinger was still tuning his new guitar, so he might not care as much about minor delays. On the other hand, minor delays were starting to add up, so he might be more annoyed about this delay, simply because Christina could have been on time. Wait, was she—yeah, it was noon; Sturm was officially entering Late Territory.

Before he could reach the front door to check for the old Accord, he heard her voice from the mid-studio kitchenette. Much to his surprise, it sounded quite chipper. Maybe she could jump in fast enough that Ted wouldn't notice.

He peeked in to see her in the middle of conversation with someone he vaguely remembered as being one of Psychosis's members. Not the drummer; he had no trouble remembering the disparity of their drummer being the one he least expected. Bassist, maybe? He seemed generic enough for that part.


-----


Rick, for his part, thought the question reasonable, though he couldn't remember the answer offhand. "Longer than anyone else," he said, almost on reflex. "Except Izzie," he added, subsiding to thought. He hadn't counted his years in the tech-death machine of Psychosis. Fin de Días had started in 2001 (easy to remember because Ramón had insisted on writing a song about 9/11 because...reasons), and ended almost three years to the day after that. Then he bounced for a bit and woodshedded like mad before joining Psychosis, back when they still had a bit of a punkish edge. That would mean...

"Five years," he concluded. "What about you?" The little that his curious searches had turned up about the other band (Sturm, he remembered now) seemed to indicate they were a new band, so she couldn't have been with them that long. On that note, he absently noticed one of Sturm's guitarists had joined them, but had not said anything yet.

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Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker
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Zack chuckled and nodded as he was looking down at his fingers working on the strings. He played a series of notes that harmonized with something in his head. Something Zack had difficulty getting out through his hands. It was something he’d worked on but not told any of the others about yet – he wasn’t sure if it was stillborn or if it was a riff in the making. It was an ordinary chord progression that dropped and slammed, for the bass at least, into a deep note that’d be countered by the higher octave from the guitar. But there was something missing. Something about the state of this idea dissatisfied Zack.

He stood for a second, letting the note fade and then made a thoughtful noise. He stroked his beard with his right hand and sighed deeply. He was lost in thought and had spaced out for the moment. He registered that Ted was in the room still but couldn’t bring himself out of his own mind just yet.

He eventually decided that he would just wait and when the time was right, present it to the others and progress by their help. He had the feeling that Ted, in all his vast knowledge, could come up with something that fit both the bass and the style of the band. Zack stroked his beard one more time and discovered that he had lost his pick in there a few seconds ago. It made him chuckle as he fished it out. He threw it on top of his amplifier.

“What’s on the schedule today, Ted?” Zack asked without looking up.

He took off the bass and sat on another smaller amplifier that he wasn’t using, and opened a bottle of water.

“I think we may have to add the cost of coffee to the budget, you know.” He added before Ted could answer his first question. They were a lot of people occupying the place and they drank a lot of coffee – Zack knew for sure he held a fair share of the blame for that.




She froze in her tracks. Val had come out the door and into the hall. Ada had hoped that she would have had time to down a couple of sips of coffee before she hit the studio. As fast as she could, she threw on her usual smirk and looked as bright as possible at Val.

The way her bandmate spoke made her nervous. All of a sudden, all her fears came crashing down and plummeted somewhere in her stomach. It also made her acutely aware of just how hungry she was. She’d had a banana. She needed food. The way Val spoke made her afraid of losing her spot in the band. She knew Izzie was pretty decisive about these things. The worst part of it all? It would be entirely Ada’s own fault. None other. In the middle of all this, she realized that she had not answered Val. She had been trapped in her own head by her worries, but at the same time she was taken aback by the apparent worry Val showed. Ada wasn’t used to that. She seemed to be actually sticking her neck out for her. Somewhat, at least.

“N… A little bit.” A blatant lie. She wasn’t on the verge of throwing up, but by no means was she tip-top shape. Ada shook her head and gave her best impression that everything was fine.

She caught the way Val bit her lip in worry. She assumed it was for her and not because she was solely worried that Izzie would be mad.

“Come on, Val. I’m not a nun. We’re allowed to live a little…” Was Ada’s go-to excuse. She was frustrated with her own inability to make out what was going on in Val’s mind, and also with her own weakness and stupidity. Ada reminded herself that having this sort of crisis right now, in the middle of the hall, was not beneficial nor did it put her in a good light or either of them in a good mood.

“Sorry.. I..” She paused and then looked at Val again, smirk returned to her lips. “I’ll just tell her I’m afraid I might be pregnant.” The thought made her chuckle.

Rather than waiting for an answer (partially out of fear of what it might be), she ran a hand through her hair and passed Val and went through the door.

“Hey Izzie! I’m so sorry.” She started and refrained from running over. “I’ve been really sick all morning.” Ada threw on the most convincing queasy face she could. A moment passed as she clutched her stomach. “I fucking hope I’m not preggers.” And for a moment she considered the reality of that thought, and the worry on her face was entirely genuine. “Anyway, I’m really sorry. I know you value being on time and respect and all that..” Ada trailed off, hoping to death that Izzie believed some of it.

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Five years-- that seemed like a mighty long while to spend in one band, but Christina supposed not everybody was into spending ten minutes in a band before hopscotching over to the next one. She wasn't even sure just how five years stacked up to his group as a whole; she hadn't researched the band, had no clue how long they'd been around. Presumably if they'd been kicking around long enough to really establish themselves in the local scene, she'd have heard of them before, though their brand of death metal-- blissfully blasty though it may have been-- wasn't exactly up her alley. Maybe they'd simply flown under her radar.

"As for me," she began, taking a quick sip of coffee and then pausing. She blinked, looked down into her cup, and said, "For fanden, you weren't kidding. This stuff is bitter. Anyway, I've been with Sturm for... nearly a year now." She seemed of a mind to continue, but Rick wasn't the only one who caught Lionel peeking in on the conversation in the kitchen.

"Oh, have you guys been introduced?" she added idly. "This is Lionel, he does guitar and vocals. Doesn't do shirts so much, though." She flashed a broad smile at him, and asked, "I'm guessing Ted's waiting on me. Or did I arrive before him yet again?" She glanced at the bassist from Symbiosis, and put in devilishly, "Ted's always late, it's really the worst. A little punctuality's really not too much to ask."

.

.

.

"I'll just tell her I'm afraid I might be pregnant."

And with that, Ada skipped right on past Valentina. Didn't even have the decency to give Valentina a second to pop off a quick zinger or two. Maybe something about Izzie being Catholic and buying into the whole 'virgin birth' thing (that was Catholics, right?). Maybe something to the effect of 'that's a horrible excuse, say literally anything except that'.

She had no chance. She scurried to follow Ada into the recording room, and saw Izzie look up from the sound board to regard them both with an impassive stare. And the expression remained all but motionless as Ada belted out her explanation with admirable confidence, except for the faint raising of one eyebrow.

"... she, uh, did tell me she was feeling kind of sick yesterday, too," Valentina put in, with what she hoped was nonchalance and not visible nervousness. "I mean, she might be pregnant. She's all, you know..." She made a vague gesture towards Ada, glanced at her, made an odd face, and then left it at that.

Izzie's brow furrowed. "Uh, okay," she said shortly, in the sort of tone one generally reserves for the severely mentally handicapped. "Well, try not to do this anymore. Being late, that is, not getting pregnant. Rick's been doing some tracking for Brutalised and Skinned Alive, we're hoping to have it finished up today so we can start laying down some guitars."

"I can't wait to spend the rest of my twenties rerecording takes of the solo on Mourning at Tyburn," Valentina grumbled. Izzie ignored her.

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A wry half-grin cracked Rick's face at the reaction Val's infamous coffee provoked. He had long ago tried and failed to make it palatable. Izzie had seen the four empty packs of cream and sugar and looked at him weird for the rest of that week. Thereafter Rick simply tried to beat Val to Don Cafedor, which was easier said than done considering her penchant for bumming a ride off the bandleader who had fired Ada's predecessor for being five minutes late to a rehearsal. To be fair, he had also reeked of tequila and tried to cop a feel on Rick while somehow mistaking him for Izzie. Maybe that had been the real reason.

He remembered that the guitarist's name had begun with an L, but would have probably guessed Leon before Lionel. He nodded politely and extended his free hand. "Rick Silva."

The guitarist took his hand in a firm handshake, simultaneously aiming a playful glare at the drummer. "Ain't my fault the venues are always so hot," he deadpanned in response. "Ted's back there," he added, jabbing his thumb backwards in the vague direction of Sturm's rehearsal room. "Still tuning his guitar, so you might not be technically late if you get in there soon..."

Something outside the room drew his attention. Rick listened carefully, hearing two hushed voices. Izzie rarely raised or lowered her voice from its typical volume, Psychosis shows being the obvious exception. That left Val, Ada, and perhaps Ted or Barbagrande (What? Rick only met the guy once). Those two seemed unlikely. Ada must have arrived. Which meant another pair of ears to hear the latest take on B&SA. Which he would probably have to redo.

He gulped down the rest of his water and started for the exit, before remembering an important question. He froze a couple feet from the door, ignored Lionel's confusion, and turned on the balls of both feet to face the baterista.

"What's your name?"

-----

The other bassist's question nearly went unanswered. Ted plucked the third string, satisfied to hear a good solid C, then remembered. "Oh! Right, schedule. We're gonna run through the songs, first off. We only have four right now, and I'd like to see how long they are. If they're too short, we might have to come up with something new." He grinned. "That little lick there sounded promising. I'd play along, but...yeah."

A pause, as he digested Zack's other comment and resumed tuning. "We might need to get another coffee maker. Did you smell today's batch?" He made a face, then turned his attention back to the tuner, seeing string four approaching its destined F.

The last two strings followed into tune quickly. Satisfied, he tapped the tuner off, then prepared again. F#—well, technically, Em, add 4, flat 7. And strum. Strum. Strum-strummmmm.

"Solid," he said. It didn't sound quite as full as Blue Fire, but it could work. He would know by the end of the day.

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He sat on the amplifier and took a long sip of his water bottle. Zack sighed contentedly and set it down next to him when he was done. Vaguely, conversation could be heard from the hallway. His eyes followed Ted's to the tuner, where he watched how his bandmate precisely and meticulously ensured that the guitar was perfectly in tune, the display of the device showing the note of each string. Eventually, Ted answered Zack.

Zack was satisfied with the plan for the day. But then again, he usually was. He nodded at what he heard and stroked his beard - a trademark gesture. The idea of coming up with something new sat well with him. They might as well get as much out of their time here as possible. If the opportunity to create more songs and music arose, he would take it for one.

"Sounds good." He replied flatly, nodding. When Ted commented on what he had just been playing, Zack shrugged. "Yeah, it's a funny little bit I've been doodling. But let's save that for another time, hm?" His expression indicated that he was focusing on what they had at hand instead of coming up with new stuff. Zack had been in plenty of rehearsal rooms where jamming out killed practice and progress more than anything else, really. It simply smothered what was being worked on, because people started jamming new stuff they had been writing.

As Ted began commenting on the coffee they were drinking, he couldn't help chuckling. Zack liked strong coffee, personally, but even this was too much. He took another sip of water, as if to wash the imaginary taste out of his mouth.

"I was surprised it could even run out of the machine." He said. "And I do believe 'sludge' is the correct term?" A wide grin. He looked at Ted's guitar but made no comment. He would refrain from saying anything until he himself had made up his mind. Despite how silly it could sound to some, finding out whether or not you liked an instrument was a rather personal thing. Like picking your favourite pick.




The sound of her scurrying behind her had given Ada the impression that Val wasn't going to say anything. The morning had been strange enough already, as she had not expected Val to react the way she had. Alas, Val was not going to stay quiet. In fact, what she said made Ada turn slightly and give her a look that was part offended disbelief and part amusement.

Fortunately, Izzie bought the explanation. Which in this case was a word that meant 'lie'. Had she not been so nervous and hungover, Ada would have been offended at Izzie's tone. But she had neither the energy or the right, in the situation. She felt lucky to be let off the hook.

"Oh. Rick's tracking and guitars. Nice." Ada said, her usual smile back on her face. She turned on her heel but paused. She looked back at Izzie and cocked her head to the side. "Does that mean I can get pregnant?" A moment passed in silence, Ada wondering if she had been too brave with this joke. "Kidding! Not planning on that to happen. Yikes."

Ada sighed and headed toward the same chair she had occupied the day before. In the corner. In darkness. Where she would be trying to relax and not think about food. She stepped past Val. "... All what?" She asked, indicating Val's comment from before and flashing her a smirk. Ada was interested in what exactly she had meant by that. Well, she was pretty sure she knew, but she was still curious.

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“Ted’s back there,” Lionel pointed out, gesturing generally towards Sturm’s nook of the studio. “Still tuning his guitar, so you might not be technically late if you get in there soon..."

Christina nodded, and then tossed back another gulp of the blackened sludge. From somewhere else in the studio, the faint murmur of voices snaked their way into the kitchenette—maybe Ted and ol’ Sasquatch, maybe the folks from that other band. It was impossible to tell from here and Christina certainly wasn’t going to make an effort to listen more closely. She glanced down into the cup, as if weighing just how much more of this Satanic swill she could stomach. Quite a bit, if the way she promptly downed the remainder of the stuff was any indication.

“Sounds like we’d better get down to business, then,” she said, setting aside the cup. She waited a sec to see if anybody would tack on the obligatory Mulan reference (because who said an avowed metalhead couldn’t have a soft spot for Disney?) and then made to exit stage left, along with Lionel and their new compadre—at least until he stopped short at the doorway and turned to face her. Did it count as facing somebody when that person’s face was about level with the other person’s chest?

“What’s your name?” he asked.

Christina blinked, and then smiled. “Christina Kjær, at your service,” she said, taking it upon herself to punctuate the words with a deep bow. She straightened up, added an affable little “be seeing you”, and then made to follow Lionel back to their part of the studio.

.

.

.

Sometimes Izzie forgot how much younger Ada and Valentina were than she—and to a lesser extent Rick. The musicians she encountered whenever Psychosis had a vacancy that needed filling—before Psychosis, the ones she’d encountered on her hunt for new bands to play with—seemed to be getting younger and younger, presumably because older musicians had either found bands to stick with or had set aside the music to focus on steadier, more lucrative fare. Ada and Valentina, twenty two years apiece, were the youngest musicians to lend their talents to the Psychosis brand.

So sometimes Izzie forgot. And invariably, it didn’t take long for either of them to do or say something that reminded her.

At the moment, that happened to be Valentina standing with her arms crossed, facing the wall, stubbornly ignoring Ada’s demands for an explanation for her earlier words. It was like a damn vaudeville routine, one which Izzie was spared the effort to break up by a newly arrived Rick.

“The prodigal son returns,” she said, pleased to shift things back to music. “We just took a listen to your last take for Brutalised, and I think you’ve got better in you. What do you think?” Another old trick of Izzie’s that Valentina recognized—it meant the other person had to acquiesce to recording another take, lest their refusal be a tacit admission that they didn’t have better in them, that their best was not quite up to Izzie’s standards. She supposed it was supposed to make you feel good—Izzie’s way of saying she had faith in your talent—but Valentina didn’t think it generally did that for people.

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"Yeah, sure, another time," Ted said. "But get thinking about what song you want for today's warm-up. I want to get right into it today. If we need to write more, best to start early." And perhaps his new guitar would help with that. Guitarists always talked about guitars holding songs or inspiring certain riffs, which had admittedly made him leery of the idea. The last thing he wanted to be was a guitar collector chasing an illusory perfect guitar. The metaphorical jury was still out on whether it was any better for him to become a guitar customizer, chasing illusory perfection in modification. Then again, he had settled on the guitar's current setup fairly quickly. But what if he needed similar pickups in this new guitar? What was the point in getting a new guitar anyway?

But he was getting ahead of himself. More important now was playability: could he play on this as well as on Blue Fire? Only time would tell.

"Let's defeat some fucking Huns."

Ted blinked and looked up. Lionel was walking in right behind Christina, with no expression on his face to complement, counterpoint, or otherwise explain his desire to murder Old Germanic barbarians. He offered no further explanation—though Ted noticed Christina give a wry grin to the guitarist. Inside joke? Inside joke.

"Right then," Ted said. "While we settle in, anybody got a warmup idea? Lionel, you don't get to pick."

Lionel shrugged and shouldered his Stratocaster.

-----

Was that...? Rick let the unexpected reference go and headed back to his band. That little break had been plenty of time for Izzie to make a judgement call on his last take. He made a mental guess of a...62.5% chance that it would pass. As he took sight of the band, all silent and staring at each other, he revised his guess to 37.5%.

Prodigal son? 12.5%.

"Yeah, I can give it another shot," Rick said. "I had some dry mouth, I bet that was affecting it." A blatant lie, like most of his excuses for insufficiently good takes. It was more his own joke for the bandleader than an actual excuse.

In the booth, he settled the headphones on, making sure the cord was running behind him (a mistake every guitarist made once—once), and fluttered his fingers to make sure they still worked. "Listo!"

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"Huns?" Zack looked up so fast his beard had to settle. Confusion was plain on his face. He was not following at all. He had no idea what that was supposed to mean, but was wracking his brain trying to remember. Then he spotted the grin on Christina's face. He looked at Ted for help, but realized that his bandmate had seemingly shrugged it off.

Ah. Inside joke. At least they arrived at the same conclusion. He wasn't meant to understand what that meant.

"Ouch. Shoot through the heart." He said, as Lionel had quickly been dealt with. He was not allowed to vote. It dawned on him that he had started the chorus of a certain Bon Jovi song, whereafter his face froze as if he had been stricken with fear. As if someone had poured icy water down his shirt. He had never liked that band. Ever. When he was a young child, he had enjoyed the usual bands that every aspiring metal head listen to. Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth to name the 3 most obvious ones. As with most other people he knew who shared his taste in music, it had spiraled from there. There was a few really quite strange bands out there, that he had come across in his life. Those bands that really stick out because the music is just plain weird.

"To clarify, that is not my suggestion!" He said. He really didn't want to play that. "Uh... I don't know, Descent of the Fallen?"

[hr][hr]

She wasn't getting anything out of Val. But Ada was still curious. She sat in the chair in the corner, watching her from behind her phone. She was checking her socials. A few random people who had seen her play were commenting on various photos and Tweets. It was rarely interesting, but she was caught in the trap that was social media, so she scrolled on.

Looking away from Val, she watched as Izzie had cornered Rick. She winced, remembering the few times she had been on the receiving end of that, and realizing that she was going to be so again, later. She sighed, stomach growling. Ada shifted in her seat.

"Am I allowed to smoke in here or do I have to go out?" She asked while Rick got ready. She didn't want to leave the room as she figured that would be disrespectful - especially since she had already been late. Ada smiled brightly. An attempt to ward off any anger or annoyance.

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The recording studio was a place where risks were taken-- Izzie had shared this maxim before, though Valentina had often found cause to question it. This was, after all, the same woman who had no qualms with insisting on a tenth take for a riff in the interests of ensuring what came out on the recording aligned perfectly with what was in her head. Nevertheless, she'd heard it from Izzie a dozen times: the recording studio was a place where risks were taken. It was a place for new ideas, for improvisation, for experimentation... just so long as she had the last word on how much of that experimentation made it to the recording.

That being said, few risks were more dangerous than extending an open request for warm up suggestions with Christina in the room. Sure enough, from her vantage point behind the kit, she called out, "Carcass, dudes. Vomited Anal Tract." She punctuated the words with a winning smile, as if to say, I know I probably won't get my way, but come on, you knew what to expect.

.

.

.

Another thing that had proven to be a gamble time and time again? Counting on Izzie for a ride—which Valentina, without a car (or a driver’s license, for that matter) and intensely contemptuous of public transportation and the people who used it, did quite a lot. It wasn’t that Izzie wasn’t reliable. Far from it: in all the time Valentina had been acquainted with Izzie, she had never known the elder Martinez to be late, not once, and she could pretty much rest assured that if she was relying on Izzie to drive her somewhere, she was going to get there at exactly the time she needed to. And it wasn’t that Izzie was a bad driver, either.

No, it was mainly that Izzie’s car was never silent; she always, always had music playing. And sometimes that music was music Valentina could enjoy. And sometimes that music was… Well, for the past few days, Valentina had gotten to hear a whole lot more NWA than she was comfortable with.

That factored, as a matter of fact, very little in Izzie’s decision to put on a Nadja album instead, though she did smirk a little when Valentina met the slow wash of ambient noise with “Oh, thank God. I swear, if I’d had to hear Ice Cube’s voice one more time today I’d have walked home.”

“You would not have walked home,” Izzie snorted. “You are hands down the laziest person I know and you’d sooner listen to Ice Cube’s entire discography than walk a couple of blocks, much less to your house.”

“Hmph.” Valentina fell silent, arms across her chest, looking out the window. Izzie let her stew for a minute as she pulled out of the studio parking lot and into the street.

“It’s Friday tomorrow,” she spoke up after a moment—Valentina didn’t look at her, kept her eyes out on the street. “You got any plans for after we’re done at the studio?”

The younger guitarist bit her lip for a moment. “Well,” she said in her usual monotone. “I was gonna walk to Safeway, get a bunch of donuts, and then spend the night on my couch eating them and playing Dead Space.”

Izzie raised an eyebrow. “Okay, well… Far be it for me to try and drag you away from what is clearly the night of a lifetime. But the club’s got a jazz show tomorrow night Rick and I were planning to go to, if you feel like doing something less, you know, depressing.”

“Who’s playing?” Valentina asked, still without looking at the other Martinez.

“No clue. I like to just go in blind and enjoy the local talent.”

“Yeah, well, maybe,” Valentina mumbled. She gnawed at her lip again, staring out the window, and Izzie glanced at her. “Something wrong?” she ventured.

The words seemed to finally drag Valentina from the view of the streets she’d been deeply invested in. The younger Martinez looked at Izzie, still biting her lip, as if she was afraid to answer. Finally, in a quiet voice, she said, “I lied to you.”

“Lied to me?” Izzie tried to think about anything Valentina had told her in the past week or so, anything that might have been important had it been a lie. She came up dry, and when Valentina didn’t elabourate, Izzie added, “I appreciate some well-executed suspense, but let’s have it.”

“When I told you Ada had said she was feeling sick yesterday,” Valentina said in a voice that implied she was being led to the guillotine. “She didn’t. She wasn’t sick today either. She was late because she was hungover.”

“… okay,” Izzie said, trailing off as if she expected more. It took another moment of silence from Valentina for Izzie to put two and two together, and when she did, her expression took on shades of something between amusement and confusion. “Wait a minute. Valentina, did you—okay, first of all, did you lie to me because you actually thought I’d be pissed at Ada for being hungover? And second of all, do you actually think I’m pissed at you for lying about such a dumb thing?” When Valentina merely stared at her, like a deer caught in headlights, Izzie snorted. “You did, didn’t you? Valentina, I don’t care if people get drunk on their own time—and Ada’s never been late before, so it wasn’t really a big deal that she was today.”

Valentina blinked, and then scowled, looking away from her again. “Yeah, well,” she grumbled. “I don’t like lying to you. So that’s what it is.”

Izzie shook her head, still chortling a little. “You’re one weird kid. This was actually bugging you?” Valentina didn't answer, didn't turn to look at her, and Izzie merely rolled her eyes. "We're almost at your place. Let me know if you want to go to that show tomorrow."

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Why did I expect otherwise, Lionel mused. Descent of the Fallen sounded like a good one, but anything from Carcass's 'gross-out collage' period would be...funnier? That was most likely the reason why he, upon starting up his amp and securing his earplugs, immediately turned the bass all the way up, switched to his neck pickup, and started on his best rendition of the only riff he remembered from that album...the first one. Probably not the right song, but it seemed funny to him. Admittedly, it would have been difficult to recognize as coming from that album, being approximately 40% cleaner even with his best efforts at mud.

He only played until he saw Ted roll his eyes into a low-intensity Ray directed at him. It wasn't exactly disapproval, just the general feeling of 'really dude?' Which was all he wanted, anyway. With a chuckle, he fixed his settings back to his usual saltine-cracker-crisp tone and waited for Ted's tiebreaker vote.

A NEW DAY

An oldish man stepped out of Caton Castle. He pointedly held his breath passing by the two smokers just outside. With measured steps he reached a spot of no importance other than his own whim and waited there, bright eyes twinkling in his plump dark face.

He did not wait long before spotting the mint-green car pulling in halfway across the parking lot. With a benign glare he watched its occupant struggle out, beat-up and decal-strewn black guitar case in hand, shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbows, waistcoat not yet buttoned. He gave no reaction as the younger man approached and passed him.

"Maurice," the youngster said, nodding but not stopping.

"Ted," the oldish man replied, his voice twangy but firm. Without missing a beat, he left his post to escort the guitarist past the smokers and hold open the doors into what some called the last traditional jazz club in Charm City.

-------

Thirty minutes of setup later, the Maurice Anderson Quartet gathered around a hearty meal of fried food, beer, and water. After a quick prayer led by Maurice, they tucked in.

"So, Ted," Maurice said between bites, "How's my nephew doing?"

"You should know," Ted deadpanned back.

"I want an alternate perspective," Maurice chuckled. "Last time we called he said you were goin' into the studio."

"That's right."

"Well?"

"Well what? We're still...recording. We got some demos down. Drums are going down tomorrow, I think."

"Just the drums?"

Ted rolled his eyes. "Yes, just the drums. We have to record them separately for the right sound."

The drummer cut in, "But how're you gonna get the bass and drums to lock in?"

"Clicks," the bassist said disdainfully before taking a sip of beer.

"Len," the drummer retorted, his question to Ted half-forgotten. "Why on God's green Earth do you think Ted would use a click?"

"Because he will," Ted murmured. "Look, Jack, Jack, Jack." The triple invocation silenced the drummer's ire. "Riddle me this. What's our fastest number?"

"Cherokee," Len piped in.

"Nobody asked you," Ted retorted.

"Cherokee," Jack repeated.

"Yep. How fast is that?"

"Hundred thirty-three," Jack replied, pointedly glancing at Len to ensure he didn't interrupt.

"Right. That's most of our songs."

Jack and Len shared a glance, then returned to their food.

Maurice smirked. "You guys still have to play live, though."

"There's more wiggle room there," Ted said with a shrug. "Studio's gotta be exact. We're sharing with another band, and they've done ten takes for some solos."

"Ten takes for the solos?" Now it was Maurice's turn to be surprised. "Kinda defeats the point of a solo, if you ask me."

"Maybe," Ted shrugged. "It's a different world."

"Doesn't mean there can't be crossover," Maurice said with a smile.

Now it was Ted's turn to return to his food pensively.

-------

The show was at 6 PM, which made sense at a place with food. Rick and Izzie agreed on a pickup 30 minutes before showtime, to allow for plenty of time to arrive and get settled before the music started. Cool jazz wasn't exactly something Rick pegged Izzie as enjoying, but he wouldn't complain. He always enjoyed watching a good contrabajista at work. Ray Brown had given him some ideas for Psychosis slams before—not that he ever told Izzie that.

He arrived at Izzie's home with a minimum of fanfare—and parking spaces. He put on his hazard flashers and shot a quick text.

"Waiting out front. No parking."

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She had been reading the same page over and over again. She was too distracted to keep up with what was going on. Ada felt silly because it was a comic books she was reading. With an annoyed sigh she threw the comic onto the other side of her bed. The first thing she had done after they were done at the studio and she came home, was to make a cup of coffee and sit down on her bed with a comic book. She loved playing music more than anything, but it was nice with a little time off. She didn't really know what her bandmates were doing this evening, and had been wondering if she should contact them. Ada of course had shenanigans on her mind and she had silently been wondering how to pitch an idea of a night out.

Looking over the edge of her mug, the lips that were resting on the rim pulled into a smirk. She took a sip and then set the mug down, rolling onto her stomach and reaching for her phone that was on her nightstand. Her thumbs easily found way to her contacts and found Valentina's name.

'Hey you
Watcha doing tonight? you're not sitting at home that's for sure
xx'


She pressed send right away. Ada smiled at the idea of having drinks with Val. Silently, she wondered if she was going to have drinks at all. If she didn't, it would not be Ada's fault. She didn't strike her as a woman that took ages to get ready either.

A couple of minutes later, a reply appeared: well i was gonna make a voodoo doll of you and then stick pins in it for the rest of the night A minute later, that was joined by, but thats about it hbu

With a giggle that was more girly than she liked, she replied.
Wouldn’t you need some of my hair or something?
I’m just sitting around reading. I was thinking we should go out
xx


About forty-five minutes passed in silence. And then, finally, came the word, what.

While before she had giggled now she was laughing out loud. She could picture Val’s face as she said that.

oh come ooon!
It’ll be fun. Don’t tell me you have anything better to do


It took Valentina another half an hour to rustle up a response to that.
well maybe i do. like donuts and dead space
And then, a minute later, whatever where do you even want to go

“Yes!”
Do you know the Anchor? I was thinking there...

Another half an hour. And then... fine okay. but only if you pick me up.

sure
i knew you’d warm up
when?


She spent the time between messages cleaning her apartment and laying out clothes to wear for the night. She was excited.




Zack had spent most of his time at home noodling on his bass and watching tv. The large man was considering the time they had spent at the studio so far, and whether or not he was personally satisfied with the results so far. A low rumble emitted from somewhere in the beard, giving voice to thoughts. It wasn’t an annoyed noise. It wasn’t overly pleased either, but it was somewhere in the middle. But most importantly, it was as expected. What they had managed to get done so far was what he had expected they would do. These studio things never blazed a trail of productivity within the first week, in his experience.

He set the bass down and walked into his kitchen, reached into the fridge and took out a beer. Zack was contemplating whether he should stay in or go in this evening, but couldn’t reach a decision so he would push it for now.
“Used to be a time, Zack, where this would be an easy decision.” He took a sip of his beer and sighed, pleased. At that moment, he felt older than his years. And he did not like it.

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Izzie’s home was in the quiet waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point, nestled in between a row of quaint townhouses with slanted wood shingle roofs and, indeed, very little parking. Izzie’s Impala occupied a reserved space on the street in front of her house, looking—rather a lot like its owner—big and conspicuous in between the other, smaller cars lined up along the street. The Patapsco River was just a stone’s throw away, and from time to time you could hear bells ringing or the sound of a water taxi or a barge’s horn in the distance. All in all, a charming place.

But of course, Rick wasn’t there to take in the charms of the waterfront, and Izzie didn’t keep him waiting long. Just a couple of minutes after he fired off the text message letting her know he’d arrived, she emerged, shutting the door behind her without locking it. “Thanks for picking me up,” she grunted in Spanish as she slid into the passenger’s seat and buckled up.

The venue wasn't too long a drive from Izzie's place-- not that they were in any rush to get there. They had plenty of time and as far as Izzie was aware neither of them had any intention of grabbing a bite to eat at the place before the show anyway. And anyway, it was a cool jazz show-- wasn't being in a hurry to listen to cool jazz kind of like listening to Cephalotripsy to go to sleep at night?

Actually, that might be a bad analogy, Izzie amended. She was pretty sure Mini-Martinez did exactly that every night before bed.

Speaking of which...

.

.

.

Valentina, for her part, didn’t live in quite so charming a part of town.

Nor, for that matter, did she live in quite so charming a house. Instead, when Ada arrived at Valentina’s address, she was met with an enormous, blandly grey tenement that resembled something right out of some third world post-Soviet republic. On the steps leading up to the entrance to this monument to brutalist architecture sat Mini-Martinez herself, decked out in a navy blue sweater and an ankle length skirt. Just the right attire for a night out on the town, if that night was in 1962.

But she was going, wasn’t she? She may not have seemed delighted at the prospect—the way she got up from her stoop when she saw Ada approach and walked over to her car implied she felt she was walking to her own funeral—but she was going. Presumably she’d decided that was concession enough without dressing the part, too.

If the familiarity of her clothing was any comfort, though, it didn’t show. If anything, she seemed nervous from the moment she wordlessly sat in Ada’s car, fingering the collar of her sweater and fidgeting in her seat.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Rick Silva
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"Pendejo," Rick growled under his breath, slamming the brakes mid-intersection for only the second time since picking Izzie up to avoid a costly rear-end on whoever decided it'd be a good idea to zoom around a right turn on red. This guy hadn't even done the dubious courtesy of a rolling stop to gauge the wisdom of his decision. Rick never regretted moving up to Baltimore, even with the mierda loca that had once seemed to follow Psychosis like a bad penny, but often he wished other people would learn how to drive.

Driving improved markedly after exiting Route 40, in part because there was very little left. Parking was nearly full, but only nearly, and soon Rick and Izzie were entering Caton Castle. A double bass and drumkit dominated the stage, but a blue Les Paul and Fender Twin could still be noticed off to the side of both. A trio? No, a quartet, Rick noted on the chalkboard. Ah, there was a music stand between guitar and bass, no doubt for the bandleader. Trumpet? Saxophone? No me importa, he decided. This would be a good night regardless, a nice break from 8-10 hours of playing or listening to fragments of the same 9 songs.

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Meanwhile, on another side of Baltimore, a quite different scene took place.

"JL, my man!"

"Dannyboy!"

Bartender and customer exchanged a frantically embellished handshake over the bar. "Here for the game?" Dannyboy said.

"And a Cuba libre," JL answered. "Open up a tab."

"Right on," Dannyboy replied.

Lionel handed over his debit card for the tab, and received the lime-crowned concoction a minute later. He took a stool near the end of the bar and situated himself to watch the talking heads talk pre-game shop. There was reason for hope after trouncing the Rangers, especially since today was at home, but still Lionel declined to wear any Orioles merch. Twasn't the season to celebrate the team. Twasn't the decade, really.

Win Hands Down: Out Of Character (OOC)

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Re: Win Hands Down

All looks well. We should be getting this going over the next couple of days.


Re: Win Hands Down

Done did it. Let me know if I messed something up. :D


Re: Win Hands Down

Looking forward to seeing them!


Re: Win Hands Down

- second character is up tonight! Tonight means within 6 hours.


Re: Win Hands Down

Heeeeey

Finished up on the side character! Just to let you guys know how far I am :D


Win Hands Down

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