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Zack Walker

Rumble-man of Sturm.

0 · 389 views · located in Baltimore, Maryland

a character in “Win Hands Down”, as played by iCakez

Description

Full Name: Zachary Walker

Age: 27

Birthday: Juli 27, 19-you-do-the-fucking-math

Appearance: The first thing you'll notice about this man is his height, and his glorious fucking beard. He is very proud of it too, and makes sure it is well trimmed and looks nice. If you decide to grow a beard, you make a commitment. His hair is a little over shoulder length, thick and blonde. Zack usually has it tied up behind his head. He stands at 6'6 and has long arms, a long upper body and a relatively average length lower body. The length of his arms makes this look less awkward, though.
Zack likes to take care of himself, too. Don't get me wrong, he likes beer and alcohol in general. Steaks too. He follows a workout schedule and therefore has to eat a lot to have something to build muscle from. As a result he is rather muscular and fit. He is not a fitness fanatic though, thank the fucking lord, but is content with following his schedule as a routine. His usual attire consists of a pair of black jeans and a hoodie. He wears a pair of Converse that look a little like clown shoes because his feet are so large. On stage he wears black jeans and a shirt. Sometimes a vest. You should dress up for these things! Look respectable, anyway.

Role: iCakez' side character. Teeth-grinding bassist of Sturm.

Musical Style: Zack plays like he's studied his instrument intensely for years. That isn't so strange, really, since he's studied his fucking instrument intensely. For years. In contrast to what you might expect, though, his playing is rather simply. Down-tuned and with a very full and powerful sound image. He likes it when the bass follows the drums. "Every bassist should team up with the drummer. If you can't then..." But Zack always loved a strong powerful bass that backed the guitar and vocals. He studied jazz for a while and learned many techniques and theory through that. He hated it, but is very happy that he did it. He's always had an ear for matching his playing with every other instrument in a song, which makes him a very creative and reliable bassist to play with. This is kind of where his musical ability ends. He can strum a few chords on a guitar and as a result of his affair with jazz and musical theory, play piano.

Instruments: Zack has a few basses he is very proud of. He loves the Iceman bass he has because of the shape and playability. He also has a Dean and a Sandberg, both 5-stringed. he switches between these, as he picks a bass for each song so it fits the music the best. His to-go amp is an Aguilar Tone Hammer 500. He desperately tries to save money for an Orange AD200 MKIII head, though.

Personality: A calming presence and pretty great to be around. His emotional range fits a quite normal spectrum; he can get mad and angry and sad. Zack is mostly happy and easy-going, though. He's calm to talk to, but also up for fun. He likes hanging out and socializing and drinking a beer after rehearsals. And food. Holy fuckballs he loves food. He's a classic musician, though. Classic bassist for a couple of years too. You know, lived on girlfriend's couch and didn't pay rent and couldn't find a job or a band. Yeah, not so proud of that. Now, however, he's in a band, he's got money, he doesn't have to work a fucking job like everyone else and he can pretty much get out of bed when he wants to. If there's one flaw that makes it difficult to live in this world, that Zack has, it's the fact that he generally hates society. It's also a conflict within him, though. He hates school, jobs, rules in general. And when other people tell him what to do. Society, in his opinion is... Well it's shit. Don't get him started. This is one of the few subjects about which he can really go on a rant. So, unless you've got time, beware.

He's the type of person who wants to be in the know about everything, when it's something he cares about. So he'll ask you how you are, how you've been, if you wanna jam or have drinks after. That sort of stuff. Out there, in the great big world he couldn't give a shit about anyone else. Society, isn't worth the trouble.

Biography: He couldn't be happier in life, than he is right now. He has no other gift in this world than music. Sure he has a lot of knowledge about history and science, but he's not very smart if you asked a college professor. In short, he was a shit student. So naturally his first years in school were shit. Most years were, they just got more tolerable with time. Or maybe he just eventually stopped letting it bother him. Zack grew up in Maine and attended school there. As stated, he was a shit student and didn't care very much for that. So imagine what a fucking epiphany he had when he discovered the world of music. Especially heavy metal. he started out with the same stuff as any other youngster did. Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, all that. It soon turned heavier and darker. Zack liked the energy and outlet of emotion he found characteristic of heavy music.

So from the age of thirteen he locked himself in his room and played the bass. When he got a little older, all that could lure him out of said room was drinks with his buddies. Even though they were under age. Parents weren't fond of that, but hey... His upbringing was pretty great. His parents were reasonable and cared very much about the raising of their kids. They always taught him to consider things, to be curious, to ask and to be open minded. He did, and asked so many things and learned so many things about the world that he decided that he didn't like it. So he decided that music was the way to go. As soon as he could he travelled around the country and played in different bands, making enough to live. He was kind of bumming it around for some years there, until he found Sturm. God it sounds so simple when you say it like that... But no major life-changing things (aside from the discovery and importance of music) happened in his life. He's been happy ever since he made the decision to play music in stead of having a job, though, and he feels that is most important. To stay happy.

So begins...

Zack Walker's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
Whatever that fucking noise was, it had damn well stop it’s jammering right now. Ada was convinced that the sound her phone made on her nightstand was only meant to annoy her and not wake her up. Without looking she managed to grab hold of the damned thing and turn off the alarm, whereafter she with squinting eyes seized the glass next to it. She was parched. She brought the glass up to her lips and leaned her head back, savoring the liquid hitting her - “Fuck!” The glass was rolling on the wooden floor and her face was covered with the drink she had initially thought to be coca cola. Ada tasted the remnants still lingering on her tongue and frowned. “Rum and coke…” She muttered and sighed. “What a way to fucking start the fucking day. Fuck.” Well, at least now she was awake. Ada longed for a toothbrush, a couple of painkillers and a glass of water. So that was exactly what she did. For once in her life she wasn’t late when she finished her morning routine. A routine consisting of showering, fuzzing over clothes for half and hour to an hour and maybe eating a little bit and finally brushing her teeth. Now came the fuzzing. Ada settled on a crop top, a pair of ripped black jeans and her leather jacket. She didn’t exactly look like a metalhead. Much less a drummer. She looked herself over in the mirror and discovered - to her horror - that she hadn’t fixed her make-up. She couldn’t be bothered with foundation in general because she was blessed with beautiful skin. She rushed into the bathroom of her small, messy but very cozy apartment and fixed her eyeliner and mascara and eyeshadow. Time was running out for her. “This is making me late!” She screamed with frustration. Ada had been pleased with her make-up but had discovered her hair was a mess.

“Fucking…” Her swearing could be heard all the way down the stairs. “Cuntnugget, fuckshit.” Swearing had never been her strong suit. Ada hurried out the door and hailed the first cab she saw, throwing her stick-bag in and informed the driver of her destination rapidly. “Step on it.” She wondered if people actually said that or if it was just in the movies. She thought it sounded cool. Despite the driver’s best efforts, it felt incredibly slow as the went along. It wasn’t that she expected her bandmates to scold her when she was late. This wouldn’t be the first time, mind you. But it was what they didn’t say. The looks they gave her. Izzie could be verbal enough. Val was different. Sometimes Ada was sure that Val was punishing her with all manner of torture methods in her head. Not a gentle tap with a whip or a spanking, but serious medieval shit. Ada stopped that train of thought and returned to reality. Thinking always shortened a trip, she found. The cab pulled over on the road that went past the studio and Ada paid him. She pulled her things out behind her and started down the short path to the studio, shielding her eyes with a pair of aviators. Someone had already arrived and parked their cars in the lot, but she hurried straight for the door.

Following the guides to which way she should take in her fork in the road, Ada started smiling as she approached the room Psychosis would be in. The door was open and she could hear people inside, but there was someone standing, peeking in. Ada marched in and stopped behind him. He wasn’t in her band.

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Zack’s morning had been very relaxed. He’d had time to make himself a protein rich breakfast and a good cup of coffee, catching his morning cartoon before he left his flat. All in all a pretty great morning, that suited him just fine. He hated stress with a passion as it was destructive to any creative process. When he had gathered his things into his car, he got in himself and started the car. It rumbled to life and carried nim through traffic toward his destination. He had left his apartment just in time. Had he left a few moments later, he would have been cursing from being so stuck in slow moving traffic. He took a sip of his coffee and sighed contently.

The Studio With No Name didn’t look like much from the outside, he thought. There were other cars there already, so Zack wondered who might be there. Thinking no more about it, he parked his car and slowly got out. He carried two of his instruments into the studio and looked at the sign that pointed him toward Sturm’s side of the establishment. Zack followed the instruction and set his things down in their room. He couldn’t see anyone else though, but heard some jamming going on in the opposite side of the building. He decided to go have a look. He reached the hall and saw Lionel standing outside what he assumed was Psychosis’ room, looking in. There was also a woman beside him, and Zack slowly approached.

“What are you standing around lurking for?” He called before he reached Lionel and whoever the woman was. She was probably with Psychosis. “Where’s Ted?” Zack added and smiled, patting Lionel on the back and nodding to the other woman before peeking into the room. Two bands in one studio… Wouldn’t have been his first choice but they would have to make it work.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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When Val interrupted Izzie's admittedly fun jaunt through "Gilles de Rais", Rick dropped his volume and took the opportunity to adjust his fuzz settings. Briefly he considered gluing the knobs in place like Peter Steele (shit, was he really gone?), but as quickly as the idea came he dismissed it. So absorbed was he in getting the tone that he didn't notice the audience, at least not until Izzie addressed them.

And apparently she knew one member of Sturm, too. Not too unusual, he supposed; Baltimore was only so large of a city. No doubt they had met somewhere. No doubt he would never, ever hear how they had met. Izzie just wasn't that sort of person, which was fine. Just another layer of mystery in that enigma, wrapped in a riddle, encased in a titan.

Heh.

Oh, right, the visitors. The first two looked like salt and pepper. "Pepper" looked younger for his lack of a beard and height, and seemed like a guitarist, if only because the bag slung over his shoulder looked far too short for a bass. Besides, "Salt" looked much more suited to bass, or possibly bodyguard. Jesus he was big, right about Izzie's size.

"Saludos," he said, waving with a free hand. "Rick Silva."

-----

"Lionel," the guitarist responded, trying not to feel intimidated. Psychosis clearly had years of experience on Sturm, and though Lionel wasn't the biggest fan of the brutal-tech sound, he had to admit they had honed it to a fine art.

Patience, he reminded himself. This wasn't a competition. Music never was.

Although to the newly-arrived Christina, maybe it was in one respect. "Yeah, he got lost," Lionel said, almost embarrassed on his fellow guitarist's behalf. "He should be here soon, though. I gotta watch for him." He sidled past Christina, Zack, and an unfamiliar third person, a woman who didn't look like she belonged anywhere near two partial death metal bands. He ignored her and headed back outside, guitar-bag still on his shoulder.

And just in time, for as he walked out, a green Sentra came barrelling down the road. Lionel waved, and the car slowed dramatically, put on its turn signal in time to swing into the lot. It parked next to Christina's Accord, and out came Ted, tall and lean, rumpled sport-shirt buttoned one shy of the collar. He didn't wave to Lionel until after he'd retrieved his guitar case from the back of his car and locked it back up.

"You can stop smirking now," he growled, more annoyed than malicious. "That's Christina's car, isn't it."

Lionel tried to answer, but could only laugh and gesture for Ted to follow him into the studio.

Ted sighed, then asked, "What's with all the other cars?"

"I was aboutta say," Lionel began, quickly sobering. "Short version, we got company. Long version, we got company, and one'a them knows you."

When he got no response, Lionel glanced back. Ted hadn't stopped short like some stereotype of shock, but his face had frozen in confusion. Lionel decided to put off the ride question for later on.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Christina Kjær Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
Zack looked into the room and gazed at their gear, noting what they used. When the setting was right and the people eager to talk, he would readily engage in gear talk. A gear freak when he was allowed to be. He nodded and smirked behind his beard, fixing his eyes on the members of the band that occupied the room. He was quite impressed by the sudden flash of skill from the guitarist of Psychosis. He had no time to comment on it though, before a giant of a woman directed words at them. Zack nodded in reply and looked behind him as Christina arrived.

"You're going to tease aren't you?" He said and smirked. They knew that none of them could tease Ted with that. He wouldn't like it. At all. But maybe Christina could get away with it. If she smiled prettily while she teased it.
Zack pushed those thoughts away and returned to the situation he was currently in. []iShe's so going to tease him...[/i]

He nodded to the man who introduced himself as Rick Silva. Actually, he was the only one to properly introduce himself. Zack figured that he should just go ahead and get it over with himself, then. "I'm Zack." He started. "I play the bass for Ted." Zack fixed his eyes on the giant woman who'd mentioned the frontman of Sturm by name earlier, prior to any introduction. "I take it you know Ted?" He added and smiled.


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Introductions were a little slow for her, but they got it overwith. Well, almost. The huge man from Sturm deigned to state his name and role. She watched as Rick did the same, aside from stating his role since that was evident. Ada knew that meeting Psychosis could be a little intimidating. Mainly because of Izzie, but still.

She decided to stretch out her hand and take Zack's. "Hi!" She greeted happily. "I'm Ada." His rather large hand took hers and her small one almost disappeared. Zack smiled and shook her hand. Compared to Zack, Ada was tiny. She felt more normal when looking at the newest arrival, another woman. She repeated her gesture and stretched out her hand. "Hi, Ada." She took a step towards her as she spoke. "You look lovely. Welcome to the studio!" Ada smirked. She could be very open, from time to time. And she hadn't even had her first drink yet! Haha. Hmm.

"Well..." She said as she turned away and walked into the room. "What's up?" Ada called to her bandmates, hoping that the distraction of these new people would make Izzie forget that she'd been a little late. "You all good, Rick?" her small frame approached him and she put a hand on his shoulder, leaning down. "Izzie hasn't promised to disembowel me yet, right? Did she notice I was late?" Val wasn't as approachable as Rick was, Ada felt. She was working hard on that, though. Soon they would be getting drunk together and hugging and all that. That was her goal. She wasn't going to ask Izzie for obvious reasons, so that left Rick.

Ada turned and looked at the members of Sturm again and smirked. She wanted to see how Izzie was going to interact with these guys. That was always fascinating. One of the traits Ada found fascinating and truly liked her for.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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In response to Ada's query, Rick craned his neck to face her and put his finger to his lips with an exaggerated "Shhhhhh." He didn't think it would be that big a deal, since they were still setting up and warming up. So long as she didn't delay that part of the process, it'd barely even affect their rehearsal. Honestly, it was hard to be mad at Ada anyhow, though after what happened to Patrick, Rick would put nothing past Izzie.

At some point Sturm's mid-sized member (Lionel, he reminded himself) had left, leaving only the big man (Zack) and the newest arrival, a petite chica somehow smaller than Ada. Given that Ada was the drummer for Psychosis, Rick had to second-guess whether Christina (for so she called herself) was the drummer for Sturm. Time would tell.

For now, back to finding the perfect fuzz tone. Again.

-----

Ted took only a glance at the sign indicating where Sturm ought to go, and set his eyes there. Studiously he avoided a pair of eyes, but he could feel them on the back of his head. He was late, of course. Couldn't be helped now, except by getting started. He'd already warmed up some while eating his late breakfast; the easier to get started now.

Of course, if Christina would stop staring at him like that...

"Okay, I'm late," he admitted.

Whatever Christina said next, he didn't hear, as a fuzzed bass cut through from across the studio. Clearly whoever was playing it was merely testing and adjusting settings, but Ted had to admit it sounded interesting. Was that fretless? What sort of band was this "Psychosis" that would have a fretless bass and fuzz? Seemed like an odd combination.

Intriguing...oh, right, they were there to record. Ted broke back to reality just long enough to hear Christina's jibes, and promptly tried to force them out. Key word being tried.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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"Not exactly," Ted said. "The bassist was the one behind that stunt, actually. He had some, uh...interesting ideas about recording. Mostly involving lunchbox amps on full volume." His expression turned a little dour at the memory.

Lionel shook his head, still confused about the epithet of "Jazzhole." It appeared he wasn't the only one. He made a note to ask Ted about it before they settled into rehearsing. Nice place, he mused, glancing around at the spartan engineering booth. He gave a small wave to the bassist in the recording room. Poor guy looked a little bored.

As soon as he turned to respond to Zack, the bassist had retreated to the hallway to call Christina. There was still time before Christina had to be here, about twenty-five minutes or so. Still, couldn't be too careful. Ted seemed in an alright mood, though, so maybe it wouldn't matter so much.

"So can you record multiple people at once in there?"

Lionel glanced over to his fellow guitarist. His expression was serious, but neutral. Suddenly coming by a half-hour early made sense. They'd discussed recording practices a few times, but Lionel hadn't been much help. Blasphemme had recorded into Jo's computer with some arcane process involving GarageBand, simulated amps, and input-output settings that Lionel had never bothered to learn. Neither had Evan Caul, so when Trap came about, they set a voice recorder on a music stand in front of their rehearsal setup and played.

Sturm had done the same thing for their demo, but this was different. This was professional. Well, more professional. They had to sound good, however that happened. Presumably it involved actual amps and microphones and shit.

-----

Rick, meanwhile, noticed that Izzie had removed her headphones, started practicing the next song, alternating with a few random ideas of his own. He wasn't sure what to make of the other band. He'd found their demo online after a bit of googling ("Sturm Baltimore" did the trick). The recording was pretty messy-sounding, but that seemed more bad production than bad playing. The two guitarists certainly seemed serious.

How Ted/Edward was related to Izzie intrigued him, but he knew better than to ask her. On the other hand, nothing prevented him from asking him. And if Ada had her way, there would be quite a lot of hanging out. And a not-inconsiderable amount of beer.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
"You have that power." Zack said dramatically and smirked. He was quite a bit bigger than Christina. The kitchen blended perfectly with the rest of the studio. Not overly modern, but it had all the necessities. Fridge, small freezer, oven etc. Zack began making Christina and himself a cup of coffee. "So.." He started, but Ted and Lionel appeared in the doorway and greeted Christina. he smirked to himself. Ted was a good guy. So was Lionel. He always made sure to look people in the eye and greet them. It was good for the four way relationship that was this band.

Zack was rarely rushed or hurried upon, so he calmly and quietly handed Christina her cup of coffee and took a sip of his own. Ted and Lionel went to their room and warmed up. Since Christina had almost just landed at the studio, he figured it was fair that she was given some coffeine to get going. "So, did you go out last night or what?" He asked curiously, looking at the drummer over the mug.

Silently he reminded himself that they shouldn't let Ted and Lionel wait for too long. They did pay for their time here.

---------------

That resolved itself pretty nicely. . Ada thought to herself, giving the other band a smile before they left. Valentina had spoken up - which had surprised Ada a little bit - and reminded them all that they hadn't recorded the drums. The pressure suddenly came flooding back into her mind, and the small drummer shuddered a little bit. This was going to take another drink. While she'd enjoyed getting to know the other band, she also knew that Valentina was right. They did pay for their time here, and it wasn't exactly cheap. Actually, Ada didn't know what it cost, she could hardly remember what she had been asked to pay, but she knew recording studios were never cheap.

"I'll be right back, guys." She excused herself and quickly exited the room, hoping that her bandmates didn't notice anything odd. Silently, she cursed her insecurities as well as her face for betraying her.

In the kitchen she found the burly guy and the drummer from the other band. "Hi," she beamed, slightly more composed now. She lingered for a moment and then fished a beer out of the fridge.

"Hello," Zack mumbled in his beard. "Sorry if we occupied precious time back there. We realize that studio work isn't free, we just like to make new friends." His smile was slightly apologetic.

"Oh, don't worry. So do we." Ada thought for a moment. Technically she was pretty sure she and Rick were the only actual social people in the band. Izzie was hard to place. She decided not to say anything though. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I better get back to my guys." Ada said sincerely, before she hurried back.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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By the time Sturm's rhythm section joined the band's twin guitarists, Lionel had gone from Judas Priest and Kreator to Sturm songs. He perched on the stool with his guitar in a pseudo-classical position, running through their opening number. He hit a sour note and stopped with a grimace, but the riff continued. For a half-second he couldn't quite grasp the obvious, but when he glanced over to Ted, he realized his co-guitarist had joined in.

"Ah, nuts," Ted muttered, trailing off. "That wasn't too bad. It's a lot easier to concentrate without the screaming."

"That's why you wear the earplugs," Lionel deadpanned back.

Ted briefly glared at Lionel in response, but quickly returned his attention to the guitar, turning the volume down to run an alt-picking exercise up and across the neck. Lionel glanced over at Christina, who was clearly still a little tired as she settled in behind the drums. Then again, she always seemed a little tired before she got going. A quick jam would take care of that nicely.

Zack, meanwhile, always looked ready to go.

"Right, then."

Lionel turned his attention back to Ted.

"Now that we're all here, and we can't use the recording area...what's the warmup?"

The question itself was one of the trademarks of how Ted led Sturm (Lionel supposed he was the leader, in a loose sense). From the beginning Ted had mandated they never start rehearsal with a Sturm song, only a cover. However, he always solicited ideas for that cover, and they'd built up a small repertoire of those warmup songs.

"Pull the Plug," Lionel nominated.

~~~~~

Meanwhile, across the studio, Rick nodded to Izzie's suggestion, fluttering his fingers to make sure they were still limber. He ran through the previously-flubbed bass break one more time, sliding up into the pseudo-sweep perfectly, then trailing off from the written solo into a slow slide back down. "Listo!"

In that brief moment between that word and the start of the metronome, he did, indeed, feel totally ready. The silence reminded him a bit of the moment before the end of the intro tape and the beginning of Ada's count-in, when the only sound was the crowd, ready to become a riff-driven storm of bodies.

Five-six-sev'neight--

Characters Present

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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#, as written by iCakez
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.

Characters Present

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.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
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.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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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.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
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.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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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!"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
"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.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
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.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
BZZZZZ BZZZZZZ

"Mmph."

Strands of brown hair flew through the air but eventually settled around a face that expressed complete confusion. Make-up from the night before now looked more like tribal warpaint, only adding to the possibility of mistaking Ada for a witch out of a horror movie. Something hit the floor. A bag of chips from a few hours ago when she had crawled into bed. Ada moved her tongue around in her mouth and grimaced. So that was what that taste was. She put her hand down beside her, wanting to lean on it but found that it never hit the bed beneath her. Instead it kept going, and shortly after Ada tumbled out of her bed. Her hand eventually made contact with the floor, quickly followed by her head and the rest of her. Greatly annoyed with the fact that this was the start of her morning, when she could hardly open her eyes yet, Ada growled. Though struggling to figure out what was up and what was down, she eventually got up into a sitting position. "Every fucking time." Her voice was hoarse. Daring to open her eyes more, a giggle escaped her. In her miserable, hungover state she was able to find some amusement in her situation. It quickly disappeared, however, as her stomach turned and promptly threatened to make her throw up. She covered her mouth and waited, focusing with every fiber of her being on keeping it down. A few seconds passed and the hand left her mouth. "I'm okay." She mumbled and pulled herself back onto the bed, the nauseous sensation gone as her stomach had settled somewhat. Ada thought of Valentina and how sick she'd been and felt a pang of guilt. But mostly, she smiled at the thought. "I'm okay."

Racing the clock, it didn't take her long to disrobe and shower, apply a fresh face of make up, dry her hair, find a new set of clothes and eat a few pieces of toast and a banana. In fact, Ada was pretty sure she had set a new personal best. The shower and the little bit of food helped. Showers always made her feel so much better when she was hungover. Ada looked at her apartment and realized how much she needed to clean the place. Not now, though. Later.

The trip to the studio didn't take long, traffic was smooth and the taxi driver made good time. Still, Ada found the Chevy parked out front waiting for her. She paid the driver and got out, took a moment to breathe in the air and balance herself. Then she made her way into the studio and headed straight for the kitchen, going for a cup of liquid cocaine. If the strength of the coffee for the past few days were any indicator, that wasn't a half bad description, she thought. "Good morning!" She called from the hallway, chipper and upbeat as usual.




Zack brushed a strand of blonde hair back and switched the turn signal. For once, his hair was not tied up behind his head. He kept it loose, much like his general feeling for the day. He was relaxed, fresh and very much looking forward to a productive day at work. Whether or not it would be, he couldn't know, but one could hope. Zack would like to get some work done.

The drive with Lionel had been pleasant. He always found that he could talk easily with him. It came naturally and they always seemed to find something to chat about. Lionel was a good guy, Zack thought. He got on well with all his bandmates, but personalities were different and thus relationships differed accordingly. He couldn't be in a band were he didn't get along or had some sort of chemistry with his fellow musicians. Some people could play in bands and see it as just work, but that had never been possible for Zack. Music was a deeply personal thing to him and he needed to be able to work on a somewhat personal level with the people around him.

"Alright man." The car halted to a stop and he turned the key in the ignition and pulled the handbrake. He got out and stretched. They were not the first ones to arrive, but that was not a surprise. Neither were they late, however. Zack fished his bass out of the backseat of his car and leaned it against the vehicle as he locked it. "Let's get some coffee?" He smiled at Lionel and nodded toward the studio, turning around to go inside.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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The phrase thank God she can be serious ran through Ted's mind for a full second before he checked it and reminded himself of her year's tenure. She had proven herself much more than a hired gun with a blast-beat fetish. She had a way of knowing when a song needed Joe Morello and when it needed Buddy Rich. Moreover, her intuition seemed so basic it was second-nature to her. By the time he'd learned a similar sense of when to be, say, Eddie McFadden instead of John McLaughlin, he'd already built a reputation that took five years as a sideman to Maurice Anderson to quell.

Christina, meanwhile, was helping Ted, despite all the ribbing she gave him. It was a weird feeling for Ted, but he had to roll with it. "Thanks," he said. "I'll explain when Lionel and Zack get here." He poured the cream-cup into the coffee, watching it go from black to merely dark brown. For a half second he considered asking Christina to help him get another, but he wasn't gonna push it, especially since she needed her coffee too. Though he was starting to doubt whether this qualified as coffee, if he needed twice to thrice as much cream as his usual brew. Guess whoever brewed it was going to milk those beans for all they were worth.

...

Milk!

"I wonder," he murmured to himself, going to the kitchenette fridge. Sure enough, there was a half-gallon jug of milk, still three-quarters full. Whole milk too, which was basically a few degrees off cream, right? That was fortunately easy to open and pour until the cup was full. "Maybe that'll help," he said. He stirred the concoction, then took a sip.

The milk had cooled it enough to make it easily drinkable on grounds of heat, at least. But drinks were not drinkable on temperature alone. Mere milliseconds passed before he began to regret the decision. No doubt Christina would garner considerable amusement in the face he was making as he swallowed both his regret and the cause of his regret, leaving behind the bitter aftertaste of betrayal. Milk was supposed to blunt both the heat and the taste of coffee; why had it done but one?

Naturally, Zack and Lionel entered around that time. Ted was starting to get convinced the universe had it in for him at this moment. "Hi guys," he rasped, coughing to clear out the residue in this throat. "Hi," he repeated, clearer this time. "This drink might be illegal in California."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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Numerous words coursed through Rick's mind as he pulled in at the studio. About two-thirds of them were in Spanish. None of them were suitable for print or primetime television. He still brought his bass and the "efectos" bag with him, just in case Izzie wanted to re-track any parts, but that was unlikely. The contrapositive of her infamous perfectionism was that perfection needed no re-takes. Once she had the perfect take, whether her own or her bandmate's, she never asked for more. It was a fair tradeoff.

One whiff from the kitchenette was enough to make him glad he'd decided to grab a cup from elsewhere. That was the real reason he had been late, in a sense. The side-trip to Abaddon's had forced him to take a route notorious for traffic hangups, and this morning had been no different.

"Saludos," he said upon entering. "Sorry I'm late. Did you already soundcheck?"

-------

It took a moment for Ted to acknowledge Zack's question. Lionel supposed he hadn't gotten much sleep. Perhaps that was why he was risking such memetically strong coffee, even if he wasn't playing. That much was obvious from the splint, all the way from mid-forearm to thumbtip.

"Oh, this," Ted said, indicating it. "Yeah, about that. I had an accident last night. Overextended the tendon or something like that. Hurts like hell. I gotta ice it every day, then I'm seeing a doctor next Tuesday to get a better prognosis. They..." He faltered, took a sip of coffee, then continued: "They didn't say I'm not going to play again, but...they didn't seem to be able to say a lot. I'm gonna have to wait until I talk to the doctor. Maybe then I'll know. For now...I can't play on the record. We'd have to push everything back by a couple months, and we already have the studio time, so..." Shrug. "Say hi to the new producer?"

"Hi," Lionel said, feeling pressure settle in over him like never before. He'd expected some of this since Steph's telephone call last night, but only now was it all falling on him. All of the guitar work on this record would fall to him. The riffs weren't a problem; he might even enjoy the chance to play both his parts and Ted's elaborations, but what about the leads? Ted played a solid majority of those, and they were always so different. How could he equal that?

"Fuck," he muttered to himself. Not having much else to say, he picked his guitar case back up from where he'd left it and headed for the rehearsal room. If he was going to have to play for two guitarists, he had best start warming up.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
"Would Doom count as jamming? That has a pretty badass soundtrack, although a little more mainstream than our little shop of horrors here." Ada shot in, taking a sip and looked from one Martinez to the other over the rim of her mug, expression non-revealing. It was one of the very few video games she knew of. Not because she had played it, but because she had been recommended its soundtrack by a friend. Ada enjoyed the idea of video games but she had never had the ability to sit down for long enough to play them. Apparently, it was possible, for a few people, to make a living playing video games nowadays. That had come as a surprise to her.

While entertaining the thought of purchasing a system to play video games on, thus giving her a little hobby aside from playing music and drinking, Rick walked in. Ada looked up and smiled at him. "Speak of the devil." She murmured, sipping doom sludge again. She leaned forward in her seat and sighed. "Anyway, I think this might actually be altering my brain, so run me through what we're doing today again?" As she was quite a distracted person, it was hard for Ada to keep track of what they were doing from day to day, if she wasn't directly involved. She knew that Rick had been tracking, but she was not sure he was done. That was sort of up to Izzie, and Ada was not particularly interested in challenging her authority. The frontwoman was not opposed to any input, but it had been made clear from the moment Ada had joined the band that she was in charge. Which was fair enough, it was easy for Ada that way, though perhaps harder for Izzie as she was so distracted and had such a hard time sitting still for extended periods of time.




"Huh." Was all that escaped through thick beard. Zack was not enjoying the solution to their problem, but he realized that it was their only option. If Ted was so injured that he couldn't play, he shouldn't. But Zack wanted Ted on the record. He wanted to have him play the parts. On the other hand, he was pretty sure Ted would guide Lionel well enough through playing his parts that it would work out fine in the end. "Shit man." The bassist's shoulders slumped, disappointment clear.

Clearing his throat, Zack leaned against the wall next to the door and watched Ted. "Not digging it, but I think you're right. We already have the studio so let's work with what we've got." He said, pursing his lips and nodding. Zack gulped down some of the ridiculously strong coffee. "That stuff aside though, how are you? Can you manage the pain?" He didn't want to dwell on how it was going to go, recording their remaining work. But Lionel didn't seem to be able to help himself. It was hard to blame him, though, as it would probably be him that'd record Ted's material. Zack would have felt pressured as well.

He watched the guitarist head out the door and toward their rehearsal room. "Go easy on him, yeah?" Zack said with a smirk that became a chuckle, now kind of looking forward to see the two of them work together so closely.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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"Claro, claro," Rick said, both to Izzie's implied request he get set at the console and heading off the little interaction between Ada and Val. Maybe Ada had drummed herself a little too hard the other day, or maybe something else had happened. Izzie wasn't making a problem of it, so neither would he. "What kind of tone we going for on the guitars, jefe?" Psychosis was certainly—and intentionally—not on the sonic cutting edge. Izzie's stubborn insistence on using her old SG for pretty much everything lent their riffs a sludgier quality than most other bands of similar technicality, and sometimes they didn't saturate the tone as much. Last album had been pretty heavily distorted, but not wholly devoid of dynamics.

Izzie had the idea of where she wanted to go with this, what would work best with the clean-but-growling tone Rick had already recorded. He was less an assistant producer than he was an extension of her producer's brain, more ears to listen and more hands to work the desk while her own hands worked the guitar.

Before Izzie could respond to his query, the door opened quietly. Rick turned around, wondering who on Earth could be coming in, and recognized the guitarist from the other band. Both the band's name and the man's name escaped him for the moment, but he could tell the man wasn't in great condition. His right hand was wrapped up in some kind of splint, and he had the distinctive dark-eyed pallor of someone who hadn't gotten much sleep.

"I won't be a bother," the man said quietly. "I just wanted to, uh, watch." His lips quirked in a half-smile as he took the situation in. "Not much changes, eh Izzie?"

-------

Some time later, Ted had explained the situation to his own band, just in time for them to be finishing up the scratch tracks before tracking for real. It was some stupendous timing, if by stupendous one meant horrendous and aggravating. Half of what made Sturm unique (at least in his mind) was the harmonic play between the two guitarists, or more accurately the ornamentation Ted added to Lionel's bedrock. Since Lionel had to sing live, it only made sense that Ted played more complicated parts, but now Lionel would have to play both. And sing. At least it wasn't at the same time.

Christina came to the rescue from that morose tangent with one of her typical quips. It worked for Ted, eliciting a chuckle. His semi-formal style had started in his emigration from jazz clubs, but now he supposed it was as much part of Sturm's image as Zack's mountain-man look on the opposite side of the stage. Under the funny part of the quip, he could tell she was feeling for his pain—hard to miss how she reached across to pat him on the shoulder farthest from his injured hand.

Zack was more conventionally reassuring. "He'll do fine. We'll get through this. It won't sound totally live like I'd hoped, but we'll do what we can." What else could they do?

"Anyway," he said, now addressing the band at large as he took up his coffee and followed Christina following Lionel to the rehearsal room. "If I remember right—and I'm running on maybe two hours of sleep, so maybe I'm wrong—but I think we just had to make a scratch track for Under the Lash with the new instrumental, then we'll be ready to start actually recording. Maybe we can get Christina's drums set up; Psychosis finished up their drum stuff a while ago so there's at least one room free." He smiled to himself. "I've got an idea there, too, but one thing at a time."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
At Valentina's reply, Ada's eyes widened. She was in quite the mood, the drummer thought but couldn't help smirking to herself. She was hungover and understandably so. Added to that, it was probably a feeling she was not used to. Their little night out had been a mixed experience. It was both very enjoyable and amusing, but at the same time extremely frustrating. Valentina was the most anti-social person she had ever met, but it was fascinating to watch her in social engagements. Ada sat and wondered these things and thought of how she fared when men came up to her. If that ever happened. Firstly, it required that Valentina went out which was already unlikely. Ada was pretty sure she was either here or back home playing Halo or something. Secondly, the guitarist was the inventor of the resting bitch face. Valentina would also have to speak to whoever dared come up to her. Ada realized that most men would probably be much too intimidated to make a pass at her bandmate. She pitied the poor guy who'd asked her to go to prom. Ada stifled a laugh.

It was always good fun to listen to Izzie - or any of her bandmates - track her stuff. Ada could listen along and in her mind she would always think of drum-parts, fills, blasts and other little things that she thought would add to the song. She rarely added any of them to the finished version, but saved them for their live shows. In the studio, she usually did what Izzie asked her to do. Their supreme leader was not impervious to suggestions, but Ada knew not to launch too many at her all at once. She'd only suggest something if it was thought through and something she really wanted to try out. When they played live, she didn't ask permission so much. It hadn't been a problem so far. If Izzie didn't like it, Ada had no doubt she would let her know.

Her head turned as the door opened. She remembered meeting him and the rest of his band when they arrived at the studio, but his name failed her. Ada's eyes followed him as he entered, a curious and intrigued smile on her face. She picked up a drumstick from the table to her left and began twirling it through her fingers. She didn't feel like trying her luck anymore with Valentina, so this new arrival was a fresh opportunity to engage in conversation. Rick and Izzie would be busy enough and she knew better than to disturb. "You know each other?" The question was obvious, though perhaps Ada was the only one inclined to ask. If she had been informed of how the two of them were acquainted, she couldn’t remember. But then again, she had issues remembering what they were tracking today as well, so perhaps that didn’t really say much.




Despite the gravity of his situation, Ted didn’t seem completely thrown off. It was a big problem and it was worrying to think what the doctors would tell him next Tuesday, but for now they would manage. There was nothing else to do. Zack followed his friends into their rehearsal room and leaned against an amp. He ran a hand over his beard and took a sip of coffee and listened to what Ted had to say.

He nodded along, agreeing with what he said. “Sounds right.” He said, voice coarse. He cleared his throat and sipped the coffee again, unsure if that would help or make it better. It was good to know that Psychosis were done, so that Sturm could get to work. Being able to lay down some drums meant that they have plenty of work to do, but most importantly it meant progress. So far it had worked out, sharing the studio with the other band. Initially, he had been worried if they would get in the way of each other, but it had gone pretty smoothly. But since that was not an issue, fate decided to maim Ted and cause them trouble on that front instead.

“Come on.” Zack said, shaking his head in mock disappointment. “You can’t tease stuff like that.” It was always interesting whenever Ted had ideas, especially when they came to him after the original framework of the song had been hammered out. Zack himself often had ideas, but was very critical in choosing which ones to present. But that was part of the whole creative process in the studio. Everyone had ideas for songs and so it was their job to figure out which to implement. And they wouldn't know if they had chosen wisely until the record was done.