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Synapse

"It's all in your head. And so am I."

0 · 256 views · located in Las Flores

a character in “Blurry Lines: Establishing Them”, originally authored by Kurokiku, as played by RolePlayGateway

Description

Image
Image
Cling to your pain; it is proof that you’re alive.

Name
September Cecelia Sylvan

Age
Visual Age: 16
Factual Age: 20

Appearance
  • Hair: Blue-black
  • Eyes: Tiffany Blue
  • Build: Thin. Dangerously so.
  • Skin Tone: Sunless
  • Height: 5’2”
  • Weight: 93
  • Voice: Mezzo-soprano
  • Handed: Left
  • Body Markings: None
  • Scar Tissue: None
  • Unique Body Features: Light calluses on her fingertips only.

[It’s the eyes you notice first. She has the eyes of an old man in a little girl’s color. Big, bright, tiffany blue, and truth be told, they’re probably some of the most beautiful eyes there could be, even if she doesn’t think so. They are a riot of color, but steady with some weight that is seldom understood. It’s only natural, and she won’t blame anyone for that much, for she is not as other people are, for better or worse. They gleam with no light of innocence, no casual warmth or mirth and mischief—for her soul is burdened, and it shines right out her oculars. A world-weariness dulls them into a tone of resignation, and what could be is spoiled. She looks so very sad, even when her face betrays nothing, and perhaps she is.

Her body is spindly, frail; she has very little of the feminine curvature she should have developed by now, and indeed she looks much like a boy. It’s hard to tell what she is—for though her features have the delicacy of blown glass, they do not quite belong to a girl. They are certainly not a woman’s, and it cannot be said that they are boyish, either. They simply… are, in the way that the features of paintings or sculptures are. They don’t look quite human, as though she were so wispy that a gust might carry her away in pieces, fragments of herself.

Her paper-thin androgynies are compounded by the meager height at which she greets the world—the porcelain doll of a person cannot be more than five and two, and seems to always be looking up through shaggy-cropped blue-black hair at everything and everyone else around her. She takes up little space, with a frame devoid of any but the leanest muscles and not a hint of baby-fat remaining. She doesn’t exist to most, as an ant doesn’t exist, but she’s used to it. She accepts it. It simply is, much like everything else about her. She’s nobody’s darling, nobody’s child, and her sad-eyed woe is so perfectly-wrought you might actually think it artificial.

As if to spite it all, her usual expression is hard, brittle, defiant. She’s more likely to scowl than to smile, if she even remembers how. She’s a little ice shard, fragile and cold, breakable, so breakable, and she knows it like she knows everything else. She wears the clothing of an ordinary teenaged boy; shirts with logos, jeans with chains, shoes with laces. And a newsboy hat, always atop her mop of hair. On someone who actually looked the part, it might be cute, or even a little bit pretty. On September, it just is.]

Sexuality
Indeterminate—she is not inclined to contemplate it overmuch, and cannot immediately produce a certain answer if asked. Perhaps asexual, perhaps demisexual, certainly too logical to bother with entanglement.


Image Personality
  • Motivation: Bare and unadorned as it is, she cannot shake her desire to survive. Not even when she would prefer to be able to do so. Beyond this, her motives are inscrutable, including, sometimes, to herself.
  • Fears: She fears death, but more than that, she fears the inside of her own mind. It is not an unfounded fear, for someone with a mind like hers. She doesn’t know it, but she also fears that her solitude is permanent and incurable.
  • Goals: Rid herself, once and for all, of all that plagues her. Redeem the terrible thing she did, when she was too young and new to her powers to know better. Live. Learn. Discover who she really is and what she really wants.
  • Positive Traits: Genius + Honest + Perceptive
  • Negative Traits: Misanthropic – Distant – Proud

[ You know all those things that people are supposed to care about? Love, family, money, power, themselves, what have you?

September doesn’t care about any of them. She can’t bring herself to. Her life is dictated upon the principles of logic and probability exclusively. Numbers and reason have never betrayed her, and she does not intend to betray them by allowing her heart to win the day. She does not attempt to form connections with people, nor even to speak with them. This is not to say she is shy. Far from it. She is simply a misanthropist and would sooner see most people dead. Because people are illogical. People are disgusting. People hurt you.

She lives every day in constant physical agony because of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that robs a person’s muscles of their normal function. In advanced stages, it can cause seizures and other neurological symptoms, and always leads to death, usually at or before the age of twenty. Her powers have allowed her to overcome this part of it, at least as far as she is aware, but she’s still in continuous pain, and most of the time confines herself to a wheelchair. She can get out of it, but to do so causes even more pain, and it’s possible that she’ll lose consciousness if she exerts herself too much.

The girl is, certifiably and without a doubt, smarter than you are. Not in the social sense of being able to understand people or empathize with them, but in the sense of having managed to test at the highest IQ in recorded history—at the age of twelve. Her capacity for learning and memorization is extraordinary, but it hasn’t done her much good, if she’s being honest, and she always is. September doesn’t like lying, and she doesn’t do it if she can avoid it. She is easily the least sensual person she’s ever known; she can’t stand touching or being touched, and the very idea of intimacy scares her on a level she doesn’t really like to think about. This is in some ways connected to the pain in her frail body, but is not explained by it alone.

September is riddled with complexes. In addition to having serious abandonment issues that send her in melancholic (and occasionally manic-depressive) fits, she had acquired something of a God-complex due to her superior logic and reasoning capabilities, to say nothing of her enormous intellect. She believes others who allow their petty feelings and little self-centered problems to control them are little better than marionettes on strings, and this is one of the reasons she refuses to classify herself as either hero or villain- she will not be controlled by those who are not themselves as free as she is. It seems, however, that the internal rationale for this is often shattered and replaced with a rather contrary worldview in which September recasts her qualities as failures to grasp that which is truly most important in life, and during these times, she feels as small and weak as she is.

On an average day, she strives to project an air of apathy and detached objectivity, but her temper has been known to get the better of her now and then, especially when she is pushed to discuss matters she would rather leave alone. The nature of her abilities means her retribution is swift and unrelenting; she’s killed several people this way, all accidentally and all before she had full grasp of her powers.

She's sworn never to kill another person, but fears an accident more than anything else. ]

Likes
  • Seclusion
  • Classical music
  • Spicy foods, especially Chinese and Thai
  • Old martial arts movies
  • Cooking and the Cooking Channel

Dislikes
  • Criminals
  • Heroes
  • People generally
  • Her condition
  • Her powers
  • Herself
  • Dogs
  • Being touched

Relationships
There is no one. There will never be anyone.


Power
September’s powers spawn solely from the extraordinary mass of cognitive functions that is her brain. Her mental capacity is, quite literally, greater than that of any being, human or otherwise, in existence. In terms of superpowers, this allows her to process information at an astounding rate. Sense-data, logistics, probabilities; all of it is available in less than the blink of an eye. She is capable of learning something by seeing it done only once, or hearing it, as the case may be. She can reproduce it unerringly, and without hesitation.

On the more conventional hero/villain side of the application, she thinks much faster than anyone can move, and as such, she can analyze movement and trajectory to determine where someone is most likely going to strike, and take psychic control of her own body to move out of the way. She would be incapable of this physically because of the MD, but she can force mind to work over matter. Telekinesis is also possible, though not with anything heavier a large person, as is strong telepathy, which she uses as an assist in any sort of combat situation.

It all sounds very useful but the drawbacks are many and agonizing. While her mind can fortify her body for short periods of time, she cannot keep up such an exertion indefinitely, and is likely to seize or fall unconscious if she exercises more than one of her capabilities (telekinesis, telepathy, manipulating her own body) at a time for more than a few minutes, maximum. When this happens, she becomes completely helpless for extended periods of time, and may actually need medical treatment and be at risk of death.

Because of the sheer amount of brain activity happening in her head at any one time, Synapse needs much more of both sleep and food than the average person, which prevents her from holding an ordinary job and also makes her vulnerable to a decrease in her powers if she does not get these things with regularity. If she does not sleep for at least a third of the day, she will start having vivid hallucinations, and she’d probably starve to death in less than five days, rather than the two weeks it might take the average healthy adult. Unfortunately, she's also an insomniac.

She packs a hell of a punch, but at a hell of a price.

Equipment
September carries a heavily-modified smartphone that she built herself, as well as a small pistol. Most of the time, she’s also in a manual wheelchair, sometimes with a violin case slung across the back.

Strengths
  • Widely-applicable powers
  • Musical talent, especially for stringed instruments
  • Analysis and information collection/interpretation
  • Aim
  • Pain tolerance

Weaknesses
  • Physical frailty/disease
  • Increased metabolic needs
  • Hallucinations
  • Very bad at interpersonal interaction/communication
  • Poor, unable to hold conventional employment


Image


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Home
A small, handicap-accessible apartment in a city slum. The screams and gunshots she hears out her window at night are as familiar as breathing.

History
Her parents named her September Cecelia. What a ridiculous name. Who names their child after a month that isn’t April, May, or June? Maybe August if you have a boy, but September? It’s like they were asking for her to be strange.

Which is ironic, because they were anything but. Thomas and Elaine Sylvan were an upper-middle-class, pretty-as-you-please sort of couple. They held barbeques with the neighbors and attended church every Sunday. Wholesome, pristine; the stuff of white picket fences and happily-ever-afters. Their first two daughters were the same—lovely, demure things with beautiful faces and beautiful dresses and beautiful personalities.

None of them had MD. None of them saw things that weren’t there. Worst of all, none of them ever disagreed with her and turned out to be correct. September was supposed to be a boy; it was funny, how she’d already failed them once before she was even cognizant of anything at all. It wasn’t so funny that she continued to fail them. She was a strange flower, an iris among roses, perhaps. Irises aren’t particularly pretty; they aren’t anyone’s favorite flower, and they don’t grow well with too much sunlight. An iris needs something different, rain and cloudy skies. Only then does it bloom. It's too bad her family knew not the virtues of these things, of gentle patience and understanding.

She remembers clearly the cassock of the priest, and how the hem was dusty. It was all she saw when the members of the church prayed over her, begging God to save her from the demons inside her. September hadn’t thought there were any demons, but what else could they be? She saw things that other people did not see. Her body was broken and useless before it had ever had the chance to be healthy, she knew things that children shouldn’t, spoke like a college-educated adult by the age of nine. She was a mess of problems, and the devout Sylvans wanted her fixed. They wanted her better.

Oh, how hard she tried. She wanted to be better, she really did. After seeing a violinist in concert, she asked her father and mother for lessons, and she had her very first child’s violin the next day. She pretended not to see the bad things anymore. She pretended that it didn’t hurt too badly most days. She tried so very hard to be everything she was not. She wore dresses like her sisters’ even when she felt silly in them and she was always polite to her parents, even when she knew that they were wrong.

But her grasp of music theory came too quickly. She couldn’t help but sometimes look out the corners of her eyes at the unreal conjurations of her psyche. They were real enough to her. So was the pain, and she couldn’t stop the seizures and spasms no matter how she tried.

Synapse really isn’t sure, even today, which one of these things drove her father into his work and her mother into the bottom of a bottle. She no longer cares. All she knew was that one night, she overheard her mother telling her oldest sister that the family would be better off if September was dead. Dead, and gone forever from their lives. They could all go back to their happy ending. No more expensive medicines for the hurt, no more failed exorcisms, no more any of it.

Her father entered her room with a gun the same night. The funny thing was, September had kind of been expecting it, logically, and couldn’t summon a single speck of fear. What she did feel was anger. What had she ever done to them? Was her mere presence really such an affliction that she deserved to die for daring to exist? How could they do this to her? She was angry, so very angry, and for the first time in her life, she allowed the rage to consume her.

When she woke next, it was on the floor of her living room. She’d had a massive seizure and fallen unconscious, but it seemed that even without a doctor, she had not died. The house was eerily quiet, and she realized that she’d somehow gotten out of her wheelchair. Pulling herself back into the thing, she wheeled into the kitchen, and that was where she discovered the first of the bodies. Her mother lay strewn out on the ground, several bones cracked and broken, a carving knife lodged squarely in her chest. The other three were much the same, all dead, all brutally murdered.

It wasn’t until she was away, long gone and set up in a new city, that the full memory of the event would come back to her.

To this day, she tries to repent by doing right by the innocent, whatever side of the law that puts her on. Most of the time, she succeeds. Sometimes, she ends up close enough. Other times… she wonders if she’ll ever get it right. She’s all but unknown as a super, more a ghost in the wind than anything. Perhaps those with a penchant for noticing patterns or collecting information might have a clue that she exists, but very few indeed have named her. And when they do, they always name her Synapse. She doesn’t do mush of this sort of work, and has never been contracted or encouraged to increase her scale, and perhaps she would not even if they did. Who knows?

So begins...

Synapse's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Synapse Character Portrait: Reaper Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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The West End || Glades Park || Late Afternoon




A small, dilapidated wheelchair rolled down the battered city sidewalk, silent save for the occasional squeak of a wheel. Inside it sat an equally small, dilapidated person; a youth wearing long pants, a coat, and an old-fashioned cabbie’s hat. The delicate figure moved its arms in swift, smooth strokes, propelling the chair forward with a determined expression. Slung across the back of the chair was a scuffed, beaten instrument case. Someone who knew anything about music would recognize it as a violin, but then, who knew much about such old music anymore?

A man, tall and lean and beautiful, walked along behind the chair and slightly to one side, but he did not offer to push it, nor assist the seated figure in carrying their burden. This was not unexpected; he never had done her much good, she supposed. For indeed, though it may take more than one glance to tell, the seated adolescent with the paper-thin physique and porcelain-doll skin was in fact female.

September ceased in her motions abruptly, pulling her hands to her lap. They were shaking again, like leaves in the wind, and she was beginning to feel it more than she did most of the time. It wasn’t so bad as it had once been; with greater degrees of control over the power in her mind, she had discovered, came greater degrees of both pain tolerance and a certain kind of ability to trick her own physiology into doing what she wanted. Still, she was pushing her luck venturing so far away from her home, and she well knew it. She well knew just about everything she cared to, and many things that she did not. Doubling over in the seat, September clasped her hands together tightly, focusing and trying to suppress the neural pain-signals that shot up her sore arms from the repetitive motions. Her breaths were thin and ragged, but she did not grimace. Neural control on that level was far beyond her, yet, but she refused to believe that it always would be. That she would always be a slave to the cage she lived in.

After about thirty seconds, the pain eased to manageable levels, and she sat back up again, shooting the man behind her a look. He returned it to her in a way that might have conveyed sympathy, and this did cause her to frown. She hated it when he acted like he cared, like she meant something to anyone but herself. Then again… “Stop it.” It was less a command than a mumble, and he nodded almost imperceptibly.

“As you wish, my dear. Shall I smile for you instead?” A telltale twitch appeared at the corners of his mouth, and she shook her head.

“Do what you want.” September leveled her eyes once again ahead of her. It hurt, sometimes, to watch him smile. He was all warm Mediterranean sunshine and life, and if she wasn’t careful, such things may well melt the ice off her heart. Or, well… they would if not for one small consideration that she disliked thinking about. Setting her jaw, she started again, this time veering off the main sidewalk and onto a path that would take her into Glades Park, one of the few well-kept spaces left in the city. Or rather, the parts of the city that she could bring herself to go.

Parking her chair near a fountain, September managed to transfer herself from the damned thing and onto the lip of the water feature without too much difficulty. She refused to play from a wheelchair; she always had. Maybe it was just that the one thing left in life that she enjoyed without reserve should not be tainted by the same poisonous frailty that touched everything else. Maybe she was simply stubborn. Each possibility was as likely as the other. Sighing softly, she glanced up at the sky. The dusk was just beginning to paint the sky with rosy fingertips, and she surmised it must be dinnertime for most people by now. How long had it been since she’d last slept? Last eaten?

…Three hours, five minutes since she’d eaten, twenty-seven hours, thirty-two minutes since she’d woken last. A mind like hers didn’t leave room for idle speculation. It knew, and it answered. Daydreams were for people without enough thoughts to fill the requisite space-time. September Sylvan did not deal in such nonsense as daydreams.

“Are you going to play for me now?” The man’s light tenor drew her attention, and she amended her last thought slightly. He was sitting beside her now, smiling that heart-melting smile, and she nodded sagely. Grasping the case from the back of her chair, she brought it to her lap with some effort and flipped the clasps open, withdrawing the smooth, reddish friend she’d had for years. Strings never failed her, wood did not sting. And even when she failed them, left them idle for too long in lieu of nursing the pain of aching hands and a wounded soul, they did not abandon her.

Tucking the instrument beneath her chin, September ran a few test notes, adjusting a bit when she heard that one of them was a trifle off-key. It was so slight that most people would not have noticed it, but, as she was constantly reminded, she was not most people. Taking a deep breath, September slowly sank into herself, and the first note fell from the slender violin effortlessly, followed by a rather melancholic tune that she had always enjoyed.

She had chosen the park not only because of its cleanliness, but because she was not allowed to play in her apartment building without fear of a noise violation. Of course, the landlord’s son had loud parties every weekend, but the one time she’d brought that up, she’d nearly been evicted, and so she now played in public places from which none could remove her. When she’d first come to this city, she’d played on street corners, case open to receive donations, and some days she still did—she had to survive on something, after all—but she didn’t really expect an audience today.

“No audience?” he questioned teasingly. “What about me, love?”

But he wasn’t real, and she knew it.




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East Las Flores || The Adamantium Arena || Late Afternoon




“Ladies and gentlemen!” booms a magnified voice over a PA system. “Are you ready to see… the man who will not die?”

The amphitheater explodes with righteous noise, the crowd bellowing and shrieking and stomping its enthusiasm. Half of the people in it are high, passing around the drugs like candy, and the other half are just fuckin’ sadistic. They gather to watch a man escape the certainty of death—again and again and again. To watch blood gout out of fatal wounds, only for those wounds to disappear a second later as though they were never there. The self-immolation of long-ago Buddhist priests is turned into a mockery of the one certainty in the universe.

He is their God, and he hates them all.

Nevertheless, he continues this sick little charade, because deep inside himself rests that futile little hope that one day, something really will keep him down. Calculated smirk resting upon his lips—three parts danger, one part arrogance, two parts ladykiller—he swaggers onto the stage, thrusting his hands at the sky and soaking in the twisted adoration. And why not? He earns it every damn time. He walks through what has effectively become a minefield of accidents waiting to happen—chainsaws and blades and guns lay strewn about the floor that is his precipice. A large motorcycle ramp has been set up further down, just in case.

But today, there is something different on his mind. Today these sick little fucks were going to be forced to confront their own disgusting natures, because he hadn’t done anything like that before, and novelty was his mistress for as long as death refused to bestow him her charms. Oh yes; they could watch him maim himself for days, enjoy his pain with that disgusting piece of schadenfreude that resided in every dirty soul. No souls were clean anymore; all carried the taint of what they were. It was unavoidable, irrepressible, but it was also usually ignorable, forgivable, even.

Not anymore.

Motioning for silence, he was rewarded with instantaneous quiet. Lacing his hands behind his back, he spoke, the microphone attached to his ear ensuring that he was heard in every corner of the arena. “I’m not going to call you ladies and gentlemen, because you aren’t,” he quipped, and there was a ripple of laughter. So funny, that they thought his implications harmless, his wicked demeanor a part of the show. It was calculated, of course, because he rarely did anything without a reason anymore. He wasn’t sure he remembered how. “Many of you have been to my shows before, and this is a gift for you. You’ve watched me fail to kill myself countless times, but some part of you still doubts, still thinks it was all some kind of stunt. The guns were props, the fire was an illusion. It’s a damn good show, say you, but none of it’s real.”

Oh, he had them now. Even the users were listening in with rapt attention. What’s he going to do this time? Why’s he talking like this? This is gonna be awesome. “So, people of the herd, slimy little festering maggots of humanity, disgusting pustules of inelegant depravity, I offer you a chance: kill me. I know more than one of you is carrying some form of weapon, and I invite you to seize the opportunity to use it. No repercussions, no… consequences. Visit upon me and only me your worst, filth, and see if you can’t watch the life vanish from my eyes, hm?” He fixed his audience with unerring stare, and did not move. Of course they would hesitate at first. They were weighing their options, trying to figure out if there was some kind of trick to it. Would they be arrested if they tried? What would their friends think? Would he really die?

Which was precisely why he’d planted his staff in the audience. The first volunteer was a teenaged roadie named Finn, as he’d directed. “I’ll do it!” the lad called, pulling a switchblade from his pocket and descending the stairs to the pit of the amphitheater. He approached the unmoving performer, asking the silent question that all of his staff had been pestering him with ever since he’d decided to do this. Are you sure? Most of them had been with him long enough to suspect that he really was unkillable, but it didn’t stop the hesitation. At the still man’s near-imperceptible nod, Finn gave a yell and shoved the switchblade right into his gut. He grunted softly, suppressing the urge to roll his eyes when the kid apologized.

“Is that… all there is?” he asked, straightening from where the initial shot had doubled him over, flashing a hand slick with his own blood. The wound itself had closed the instant the knife was withdrawn, and he felt no lingering pain, either. “Surely, someone here is capable of better than that. Come on, maggots! Which one of you thinks you can do it? Who here can actually kill me?

The rest of the evening show passed in a haze of pain for him, as not even one more staffer had been necessary. Pretty soon, the audience was descending in groups, some using their own weapons, some picking up those that had been strewn about the floor. He was shot and stabbed several times, a few of them even going right for his eyes or face. And he let them, just took all the hits, pain, and moments of blindness with perfect stoicism, save for when he shouted at them to try harder or get more creative. The mob mentality was in full force now, and like a riot, the reserves just melted away. He knew the feeling well enough—the way adrenaline could heat the blood, make everything but the thrill itself seem inconsequential. Besides, the people who came here were self-selected anyway, of a particularly fucked-up kind. Who else would watch the man who couldn’t die torture himself and call it entertainment?

They were only too happy to oblige. One man grabbed the gas can lying on the floor and threw it over him, dousing the immortal in highly-flammable, highly-toxic material. To the cheers of the crowd he struck a match, not noticing when his target smiled fiendishly. The match was tossed poorly, and though the gasoline-covered daredevil did in fact light, so did the fool’s arm. The idiot’s screams filled the arena, but this seemed to go ignored by the majority of the crowd, who watched their entertainer’s skin repeatedly blacken and revert for a good thirty seconds before one of his assistants doused him.

Looking to the screaming man, who had also been doused, and much sooner, he raised a singular eyebrow. “Looks like none of you can do it, but you’re welcome to keep it coming.” The chainsaws followed, even though his limbs simply reattached themselves, like a film loop resetting, much to the increasing frustration of the crowd. The exquisite bite of pain, the sudden absence of a limb, and the gore of his own person splattering floor and faces, clothes and countenances, all for naught. All to be cancelled before their very eyes as his cursed body wrought its twisted magic. Screams of short-temper, jeers to the ineffectual. The whole thing became a mess, a chaotic pit that his limited staff could not hope to contain, and so they did what he told them to do and just got themselves out of the way. It was only after the first errant gunshot rang out, hitting an audience member, that he called for a halt to all of it. Eyes narrowed, bloody visage dripping with malice and contempt, he enunciated softly, sharply. “The rules specified that you were only to hit me. I, after all, cannot die. I leave you to your thoughts.”

Sparing the unmoving body on the ground a glance, he nodded to Finn, who called in the police. Let them sort through it. Let each and every one of these shit-eaters recall their deeds and try to convince themselves that they had done nothing wrong. Let them stew in it. It was only what they deserved. They had been driven by nothing more than a challenge, an example, and the inexorable, disgusting herd instinct. He had merely given them opportunity to discover what monsters they were, what they were truly capable of.

He finally exited the building after giving his own statement—a little grandiose, he’d admit, and perhaps even a bit gauche, but subtlety was lost on people—and changing. After all, his suit had holes in it from all the bullets and such. Actually… how his powers affected things really close to his person seemed to be a bit unpredictable. When he’d started this whole thing, he’d completely obliterated his clothes almost all the time, but now they seemed to escape at least some of the damage. He didn’t bother thinking about it too much. What he did choose to speculate about was how he’d spend the rest of his evening. One could only live so long before everything became boring, after all. Excitement was difficult to find.

Setting

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#, as written by Perfidy
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Central Downtown Las Flores || Eastyard Boarding School || Late Afternoon




Droplets covered a a leaf curled a inches from Aranza. A leaf among many others that was only just settling from the unnatural gale that had made a storm of the private gardens only moments earlier. Aranza suppressed a small shudder of pleasure as she allowed the camera to fall against her stomach, tugging at the strap that secured it to her neck. Seven! I got seven this time.

The girl, young and heavyset, sporting overly large glasses and a busted lip, stood in the middle of the foliage as opposed to the path. Her eyes alternated between the camera screen and the spot in the air that Owen had just vacated. Without meaning to, she muttered a couple awed expletives in Spanish. She really had to tune out her mother's tirades.

Aranza flipped through the images on the digital camera, stills of a young man she went to school with. Standing in the garden, suddenly amidst a prismatic maelstrom, floating dozens of feet above the ground, and finally being consumed by a swarm of small bits of folded paper before taking off. When first being assigned to the task, Aranza was not particularly pleased. The school was a horrible place to seek out any non-expendable personnel. Students with any interest in crime were brash at best and completely unusable sociopaths at worst. The few metahumans that did turn up were usually caught misusing their powers and reported to the authorities immediately. Those that actually came back to school were placed under heavy watch, and had a beaten cast to their eyes that Aranza did not think would be of use to her. Owen was the exception.

“Owen.” she whispered. The look in the eyes of the young woman could only be described as enchanted. His habits, while not particularly noteworthy at first, were noticeable. It was sheer luck that Aranza was held back after classes one day by her peers for some “tough love” that she found herself leaving shortly after Owen. Out of sheer curiosity, Aranza followed the boy only to lose him in the garden. Her curiosity piqued, Aranza spent the next several weeks waiting for him to leave late again. This time she followed more closely. The reward for her diligence was seeing Owen take off into the sky. Aranza took to trying to catch him on film.

In the following months Aranza had compiled over two-hundred photos of Owen in various states of flight. Although she had already reported his existence to Monty, the mental clone felt a certain peace while watching him. As she dusted the dirt and flowers from herself, courtesy of her hiding spot amid the taller plants, a delicious though struck Aranza:

Will I be there to capture the moment he finally falls to the ground?



Uptown Las Flores || Amaranthine Base || Early Morning




“You know the drill, Ledger: no phones.” Monty fixed the guard with a sour look.

“I am well aware, thank you.” with the petulance of someone that thought they were deserving of far better than the lot they were dealt in life, Monty handed over her phone. Both guards stepped forward with a metal detector and magnetic scanner respectively. After a few annoyingly slow passes, the all clear was given and Monty was allowed to pass in to a hundred-foot corridor that led in to the next room.

A large desk of lacquered black wood dominated the center of the otherwise featureless room. An assortment of hardcopy files were stacked on both sides of the desk, some already sorted and the others awaiting inspection. Hands folded and masked face staring ahead, Gabriel sat patiently in anticipation of Monty's latest information. An empty gesture, given the nature of their bond. It was still necessary to maintain the appearance of “lowly bookkeeper” reporting to the “paranoid enigmatic mafia lord”.

Monty took a few steps forward and leaned her backside against the edge of the desk, turning to regard the masked man with a smile.

So, Gabriel, how are things? Her mental voice was dripping with sarcasm.

The mask is itchy. Gabriel's response was curt without being rude. Monty frowned. This particular clone had assumed the role of Gabriel over a year ago and had grown increasingly taciturn with the relative isolation the role entailed. Knowing that he was in essence herself in the same position, Monty could not help but feel the faintest pang of sympathy. Very faint.

Well, I have news that you should bring to the next gathering. Monty began counting off the most recent developments on her fingers. We have located seven new metahumans who are interested in joining the Amaranthine. They shall remain nameless until properly inducted. Greystar has yet to find a counteragent to the two latest drugs on the market, meaning we can keep a few of our remaining non-compliant backers under our thumb for the moment before those bastards buy their way free of us.

The raised fingers slowly curled in to a fist as Monty had to take a brief moment to collect herself after that one. Greystar was becoming an increasingly difficult to dislodge thorn in her side. A substantial chunk of the Amaranthine's legal profit was the donated funding of a couple dozen of the wealthiest business families in Las Flores. The Amaranthine secured these payments by keeping the stupid children of the families doped up on the most dangerous drugs that could be secured, drugs that required constant dosage lest serious health risks pop up. Greystar had already provided “cures” to three of these families, and Monty would bet her left arm that they were working on others.

As I was saying. The last order of business for you to go over next meeting would be that of the MYTHIC. They have been stepping on our toes as of late, and somehow got their suppliers to to get them access to chrace a week before our own was ready for distribution.

Gabriel twitched slightly at the mention of the newest psychoactive drug to hit Las Flores, chrace. Monty felt his longing. None of the mental clones had yet tasted of chrace, so the sensation could not be shared by their neural network. A new pleasure, a new sensation. Pushing away the intrusive impulse, Gabriel nodded. If that is all...?

“I'll see myself out.”

As Monty strode through the corridor and exited the subterranean office to retrieve her things from the guards, she stiffened. One of her older clones, a bankteller, was staring down an extremely familiar power-user that had just finished disintegrating a glass panel and was now facing a Greystar operative. Monty clenched her fists so hard that she thought she would draw blood. The guards simply thought she was annoyed by the leisurely pace at which they returned her belongings.

Keep observing. I would like to know if I lose a potential asset.



The West End || Glades Park || Late Afternoon




Things are not going well for the Amaranthine, Monty reflected. Accompanied by a lanky man of afghan descent–Ismail, another mental clone–she went about the rest of her day knocking off appointments from her list. Potential recruits, payments, shipments, and loans were all handled by Monty. She had to keep up the appearance of a busy little bee for the Amaranthine. Liking the micromanagement that the disguise entailed was a perk that the dark woman had not foreseen.

Near the end of her list, Monty found that she was supposed to pay Sandra Liland today. A frown tugged at the corners of her mouth as Monty crossed the task off of the list. Sandra proved to be a far shorter lived experiment than Monty would have liked. Even if she did survive the encounter with Greystar, Sandra would be incarcerated or put under surveillance for the rest of her days. In any case, Monty would not be visiting her any more unless some miracle made the girl worth running the risk.

The last of her appointments for the day was looking into a potential recruit. Spotted a few weeks ago by one of the other gang members, the lanky little boy could purportedly create electromagnetic disturbances over a wide area. Perfect for knocking out cameras, lights, and electronic grids for quick raids. The boy, Kyle Gregson, was contacted shortly after his discovery and offered a job. Today they were to meet in a park in the lower side of town.

As she and Ismail entered the park, Monty fell back into her thoughts. Her power was crumbling as surely and inexorably as the sea wears away at the face of a cliff. The Amaranthine was growing, surely, even richer than it had ever been before. Not quickly enough, though.

The most obvious threat was of course, Greystar. If they could do here what they had done already in Europe, then this was all for naught. The only thing keeping them from overrunning the country with metahuman restrictions were a few flimsy civil-rights laws. In the meantime, the organization was making examples out of power-abusers and criminal organizations. That would be fine if they were not succeeding. Slowly, very slowly, Greystar was earning the approval of the people.

Then there was the matter of those three. The mental clones who were too smart for their own good, and in possession of bodies belonging to people influential enough to abuse their power. One had started a gang of his own, and the other two were threatening to reveal Monty for what she was unless they were afforded new positions of power.

Melrose and the Gridghost were the least of her major concerns. The new kid on the block, Melrose and her MYTHIC were causing problems all across the board. Monty felt in her bones that a demonstration would be needed to put them in their place. The Gridghost was another matter entirely. The only thing she knew of them was that they were watching almost everything in the city, courtesy of what glimpses of the strange program the ghost used that her people could catch. Which is to say, mere wisps of a presence. The only reason Gridghost was not higher on her list of concerns was the method in which Monty preferred to keep her real information to herself: Telepathy. Everything that needed to be said was being communicated in a way that the ghost would not catch anyway. Unless they could read minds. In that case, Monty was doomed anyway and would roll with the punches as they came.

“Ledger,” Ismail's thickly accented English broke Monty from her stupor. He was pointing at a wispy young man in a wheelchair up ahead. He was playing a morose tune on the violin. Ledger perked up in interest almost instantly. “Is that him?”

“I believe so. Thank you, Ismail. Go wait by the gate.” Ismail nodded once and gave the boy ahead one last glance before returning to the entrance. Short dark hair, white, skinny, and small. He matched the description to a tee. Monty strode up to September, her heels clacking on the pavement and golden bangles clinking with every step. She stood in front of the open violin case, taking in the scene with unhidden curiosity.

“Hello. I believe you desired to meet me.” Monty fixed September with a warm smile, glancing to the sides to make sure that no one was near enough to hear them. “We have been observing you for a while. So is that how you do it? The violin transmits your abilities? An odd way to use a power, but I've seen less convenient methods.”

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Character Portrait: Synapse Character Portrait: Ledger Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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The West End || Glades Park || Late Afternoon




September gently removed the violin from its place beneath her chin, laying it across her lap and studiously ignoring the fact that her fingers were shaking. Suck a light object, and yet it was still almost too much to lift for any length of time unaided. How she despised her own body. It was worse than any cage she could be locked into, because there was no hope of escape. Not unless she wanted to die—and for all of her flaws, she was not suicidal. Not yet.

It came to her attention that she was not alone. A woman approached—tall, well-built, coiled muscle and a healthy, vital strength evident in her every movement. Her body was no prison, and that was evident enough just from watching her move. The predatory grace leaked out of her as though there were simply too much of it to be entirely contained in civil manner, despite the suit and the smile. September wondered how many people this powerful person met who missed that. She also wondered why such a person was apparently intent on speaking to her. The expression on the woman’s face was oddly readable—September more often ran into people like she was; people who wore their implacable masks like some kind of armor. But some people did not need the protection.

The words were certainly unexpected, but September did not immediately trap herself by answering. Part of it was perhaps alarming at first pass—the being watched, the open question about her power. Synapse was nothing more than a persona on the internet, a debunking force on the occasional forum, who wielded logic as her only weapon. Beyond that, she was nothing, nobody, and her abilities did not see public display. Even if she were watched, there should be no way to know she had any—and to assume that she needed an instrument to transmit them was to make a category mistake. No… her secret wasn’t out just yet, she thought. Perhaps, however, it would serve her well to make sure…

The lightest of telepathic fingers brushed over the surface of Monty’s mind, and the result was instantaneous. September was flooded with more information than she’d ever received in such a manner, largely dominated by the impression of a web, something vast and interconnected, though where each of the strands terminated, she could not say. It was like looking into many minds instead of one, but there was interference, like static or telescopic distance. It was hard to pin anything down, however, because of much more present import were the figures—ghostly, greying, faintly-hostile, that flanked the woman on either side. They seemed to be intently focused on her, orbiting her like planets orbit a star, drawn in by some strange gravatic force that September did not yet understand. She refused on principle to believe that she could not, but without more information, it was as mysterious to her as whatever else she’d seen.

She had little doubt that were she nothing but a telepath, her mind would have been overloaded by contact with this… network, this… interface. But like one supercomputer receiving raw data from another, she processed, and though she could give no meaning to the figures, draw no line of best fit between data points, the information was present all the same.

And it happened in the blink of an eye. Quite literally, for September blinked her childlike eyes up at the enigma in front of her and tilted her head to the side. “I believe,” she said slowly, her voice less ambiguously feminine than her appearance, “that you must have mistaken me for someone else. I was expecting no company in particular today.” Her eyes flickered just briefly over one of the woman’s shoulders, because something had changed there. The grey-ghost that lingered still was no longer solely focused on his star.

He was looking right at September.

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Character Portrait: Mako Senshin Character Portrait: Afterglow Character Portrait: Miasma Character Portrait: Synapse Character Portrait: Sandra Liland Character Portrait: Ledger
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The West End || Glades Park || Late Afternoon




Well that was interesting. It was a rare occurrence indeed when they made themselves any more noticeable than a peripheral blur. Whatever this boy was, the indistinct apparitions that clouded the edges of Maatika's mind were interested to know. So much so that for a few moments they held off on their eternal quest to drive Monty to insanity and revealed themselves, crowding the young man in an eerily silent semicircle of static figures.

Monty was careful to maintain eye contact, but allowed her smile to dim somewhat as if a little disappointed; she was, but it was good to let others know too. The phantoms slunk back in to the recesses of Monty's mind just as quickly as they had come. All except one. Monty could feel the pinpoints that served as its eyes boring into the her back like hot pokers. His name rushed to the fore of her mind unbidden: Nathaniel Nelson. An office worker. Two kids, although they spend most of the time with his ex-wife. Recreational drug user.

In the following seconds she realized why his attention stood out so vividly among the dozens that held her in constant regard: it was fading.

It took a great amount of effort not to spin around and stare the phantom dead in the eye. Monty instead rubbed her arm uncomfortably, as if the situation was suddenly awkward beyond belief. Reasonable enough, considering September's clarification. Reasonable enough, considering the last glimpse she caught of the shade that was Nathaniel was that of him stepping past her to stand in front of September. The link binding the phantom to her psyche snapped with a sensation akin to having a thread yanked from one's garment.

“Oh.” her voice came out more subdued than Monty intended, bleeding more emotion than she would like. She affected a half-hearted smirk. “I see, my apologies. I must have been mistaken.”

Monty took a quick step toward September but was sure to keep an amount of space between them that one would consider polite. A blue and black business card was withdrawn from her obviously expensive handbag, and gently placed it on September's knee. Her hands shook ever so slightly from a sudden rush of adrenaline, a crude mirror of September's infirmity. Monty nodded once and smiled again. “If you ever have some free time, I would enjoy hearing about you regardless. Collecting stories is something of a hobby of mine, and you look like you have a tale to tell. Call me any time.”

The card was fairly minimalist in design. Ledger's Bookkeeping, Accounting Services and Job Placement.

Another curt nod. The clicking of heels against pavement retreated as Monty made her way out of the park. At the gate, she found Ismail waiting by the gate with a scrawny youth sporting a mop of unruly black hair. Ledger scowled and held up a hand as Ismail opened his mouth and silenced the apology she knew was coming. This time she was more direct.

“Kyle Gregson?” she asked.

“Yep.”

“Walk with me.” as they began moving towards the black car in the parking lot, Ledger could not suppress the urge to scratch at her wrist. The leather glove made the effort clumsy at best, and she had to slide it down a little to attack the offending itch. What she saw set her heart to racing. One of the minute names inked into her flesh squirmed and dug at Monty's skin as it slowly burned away, leaving the smallest of gaps in the list.

She did not need to guess which name had been erased. Or where it had gone, either.



Cafe Mystigue || Central Town || Early Evening




The one bright spot of her day was completely overshadowed by the torrent of news Ledger was receiving via calls and messages from her clones across the city. The bank debacle had gone critical. Something, presumably the Greystar, had completely wrecked several square miles of electrical equipment, wiring, and telecom signals in the Commercial District. Ledger resisted the urge to call Sandra. In all likelihood, the girl was dead or subdued if a Greystar could pull that kind of power out for a single bust.

As it was, Monty rode quietly in the back of a sparkling polished black Ford Fusion driven by Ismail. Ismail had a particular love of vehicles, a trait presumably inherited by the original occupant of the clone's body. They had dropped off Kyle a few minutes ago and were on their way to secure one of Monty's investments.

The car pulled to a stop in front of an unremarkable squat building with a too-bright sign. Monty signaled for Ismail to keep the engine running as she stepped out of the car and into the cafe. Mystigue. Monty had to keep herself from sneering at the pretentious name. It was a glorified coffee shop, not a bloody art show.

Cheap coffee and artificial sugar assaulted her nostrils as soon as she entered. Thankfully, the reason for her arrival was in plain sight. Monty caught the tail end of some explanation of offering first aid as she strode up to the booth Mako was seated at.

“That will not be necessary...” Monty appeared to consider the right word to use to address Selene before offering a wan smile, “Miss. I will be escorting my charge here to receive proper treatment.”

One quick look was all Monty needed to see that Mako's latest hunt had gone awry. What little skin she could see between the fabric of the girl's clothing was an angry red and even inflamed in some places. Monty scowled and unbuttoned her jacket to drape it over Mako; the blood loss would be making her cold about now, and it would help keep her inconspicuous. She proceeded and place a gentle hand on Mako's cheek and bring her in for a warm embrace.

“Mako, I'm so sorry. I've received so many calls and texts today you were almost lost amid the din.” Monty pulled back and smiled in a self-depricating manner. “Almost. Come, Ismail has the car waiting outside. Let's go get you cleaned up.”

Monty shot Selene a quick nod of gratitude before leading Mako off toward the exit. Internally, she sighed. Kids.

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Character Portrait: Sarin Character Portrait: Synapse Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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The West End || Glades Park || Late Afternoon



Everytime she and hers took to the roads to get from place to place, Sarah remembered why she never bothered updating her driver's license before her corporate imprisonment. Twenty minutes she had been stuck in this inconspicuously cheap-looking and uncomfortable car behind this same red truck with that same bumper sticker about honor students. There were only so many things to look at as the car crawled along the busy street, and she had already looked at each of them several times. Now she was occupying her time bouncing her leg up and down, pounding her heel into the dirtied carpeting and tapping her finger vigorously against her metallic mask just so that dull ping could drown out the jumble of bad music, beeping, and people talking too loudly on their cell phones. Her driver for the day who had earned no favors abandoning her apartment with an excuse she didn't even care to listen to, duly noted his passanger's irritation, but had no way to dissipate it. She had already switched off the radio and ended most of his attempts at conversation well before they had entered their current, hobbled mobility. Fortunately, something else would distract her better than anything he could have tried.

In an instant, everything stopped. The engines slept. The radios hushed. And the cell phones died. Most importantly, though, the blue LED lights in Sarah's mask flickered off, stunning her with the suddenless. Then her eyes went wide in fear and a layer of sweat started to form over her body. They were in the middle of the damn city, with no real openness between here and any possible destination she could go to. She was deciding on how the keep the bodycount to an unnoticed minimum when enough time passed for the absense of the alarmist red light that is meant to appear with a leak to become curious. While Nick was trying to understand what had happened to everything else, Sarah worked her hands around her mask trying to see if anything was wrong. Eventually she came to stop fearing that she had sprung a leak, mostly because Nick hadn't started convulsing.

When this emergency had been resolved, there still laid before her the issue that her car wasn't moving, and neither was anyone else'. Aware of what an EMP does due to the frequent use of such a thing in media, she decided it was either that or some superhuman who thought it was funny to stop an entire city's traffic. Either way, she still had a meeting to get to, and, with her current means crippled, she opened her door and stepped out amongst all the others who had done the same. She bent over and peered in after Nick's "Where are you going?" to answer. "You stay with the car to make sure no one searches it. It'll be faster for me to walk."

Not one to argue with the face of his boss, Nick nodded and glanced around to get a better feel for the people he would now be surrounded by for an unknowable amount of time. Sarah, pulling the hood on her dark blue sweatshirt down as far as she could and keeping her head slouched, closed the door and began to slither her way out of the mess of cars and people. She walked her way down the sidewalk, bypassing person after person more concerned with what had happened than inspecting everyone who went by, which eventually resulted in her raising her head more and more. It wasn't long before she had left the affected area, though, and had to return her chin to her chest, just before she had entered Glades Park. It was here that she got distracted. Walking had opened up a good amount of freetime for her, and the sound of strings was more than enough reason to stop for a few minutes.

Sarah peered around for the source and quickly found it near one of the fountains. It looked like it had stepped—maybe rolled would be better, if potentially offensive—out of an ad for a charity; crippled, impoverished, and sickly-looking. On her approach to hear better and stand out less while next to the wheelchair-bound musician, she noticed the open case for the instrument and sighed. She reached into her pocket as she got closer and pulled out whatever loose assortment of currency she had at the time: a few coins and several crumpled bills. When she arrived, she leaned over the case and dropped the assortment into the case before taking a step back to listen for a bit. There wasn't much of a reason to worry about some sick kid she'd just given money to.





The business card had been placed up one of September’s long sleeves, his primarily because that person, the odd apparition, had never left, and now stood more or less beside the one she had made for herself, the latter of which was looking rather put-out by the whole thing. She was tempted not to try getting rid of the new one for that reason alone. Maybe if she slept at some point soon, they would both go away, but she was not in the business of quite so much optimism as that. In the end, there wasn’t really much she could do about it at this point, and with the consummate practicality that can belong only to someone who is entirely out of impractical dreams, September shifted slightly in her position on the rim of the fountain and went back to playing.

At one point, she could have sworn she heard something, like a clamor, but from further away. There were no sirens, however, though when she pulled her hacked-together cellular device from her pocket, it seemed to be missing a signal, suggesting that the tower nearest here had bee knocked out somehow. Well, given the amount of catastrophe that seemed to pass for normal in this city, that wasn’t exactly unusual. There were always metahumans and who knew what else getting into it over things that September couldn’t bother to get worked up about. She was a little busy trying not to die, most days.

Shoving the phone back in her pocket, she went back to playing for a while. A few people wandered by here and there—there was an older couple who she was pretty sure walked the same route through the park every day. They were just about as dirt poor as she was, though, so excepting the occasional food item from the bakery down the street, she neither expected nor received anything from them. They seemed to think she was in greater need of food than money, and she really couldn’t say they were wrong, all things considered. Alas, food was not really the answer to her obvious afflictions, but then, money couldn’t fix them either. Perhaps if it had been capable, she wouldn’t be here now, trying to make enough of it to scrape by on.

The card seemed like a sudden lead weight in her sleeve, but she ignored the way it burned against her paper-thin skin, because that too was only in her head. No less real, to someone like her, but something she could put aside, for the moment.

Her attention was eventually drawn by someone new, and the clatter of coins into the violin case. Drawing out the last note of the tune, September looked up, blinking slowly at the dark-colored gas mask the woman was wearing. That was admittedly not something she saw every day. Still, be it simple paranoia or something more complicated, she assumed there was some kind of reason for it, and she was hardly the kind of person who got to assume that someone else was crazy. The two invisible men to her left were proof enough of that. Lowering the instrument from her chin, she cocked an eyebrow. “Any requests?”

Not particularly familiar with most music, let alone the classical kind, Sarah wasn't sure whether the song being played coincidentally ended with the dropping of her coins or if had ended prematurely for her. Either way, the question wasn't really one she was prepared to answer, and she shuffled her weight a bit while thinking of what to say. Thankfully, whether out of courtesy for a patron or just a desensitization towards the weird things in this city, nothing of the usual sort involving her mask came up. A raspy "Umm" filtered into the air as she scratched her head and peered into the air. When she gave up pretending to actually think of a song she didn't know, her eyes leveled out with the musician and she halfheartedly shrugged her shoulders. "Not really. Anything's fine."

Anything was a bit broad for someone like September, who had memorized literally hundreds of pieces, and she thus faced something of an incommensurability problem, having really very little preference for any of them at the moment. “Fair enough. So pick a color, or a mood or something.” She did consider just reaching into the woman’s head and picking out some detail to go from, but given what had happened the last time, she wasn’t really in the frame of mind to risk it. It had never been a risk, before; she had thought herself undetectable. Just one more oddity to mull over. Considering that, a gas mask and a hood were hardly much of note, really.

Apparently musicians had songs for every color, mood, and thing to be picky about, fascinating little freaks that they are. Sarah never had much of an ear for music and, short of the actual lyrics, rarely had any grasp on any musical nuance more subtle than the most upbeat or somber tones that a child could understand. As such, trying to figure out what, say, a "green" or "sad" song would ctually sound like racked the mind and she crossed her arms and hung her head back to stare up at the sky for a moment to consider it. Blue seemed fine. The sky was blue. The little musician's eyes were blue. Blue it was. "Blue... And happy." To punctuate what she considered a tricky addition to her answer, she swung her head back into place to look straight at the musician and pointed towards September as if she had already caught her. She might be the least musically inclined person in the park, but Sarah knew the nuances of color, and she felt little (immediate) shame for wearing a smirk under her mask and feeling superior about it.

The girl on the fountain snorted slightly, tipping her own head back to take in the sky. “I don’t usually do happy.” Both as a point of fact about her own life and because nobody ever seemed to ask for it. Maybe there was something to that—could a geographic location be so miserable that people forgot what happiness even was? Still—there was perhaps a way to incorporate both elements of a seemingly paradoxical request, and she was the slightest bit amused by the challenge. “You’ll have to let me know how it goes.” No point of reference, really, but that was neither here nor there.

The piece was one that took a lot of turns, but then, she hadn’t been told it had to be happy and blue simultaneously, only that both elements had to appear. So perhaps that was a bit of creative interpretation of the mandate, but, well, that was simply the way of it. “It’s Vivialdi—Summer.” She gestured with a truncated sweep of her violin bow up at he sky. “Blue sky, blue ocean if you can afford it. But happy for some, I suppose.”

Considering the music she'd listened to in the past, Sarah wasn't wholly surprised by the lack of happy in classical music; happiness seemed to be something you gave up before creating something like that. She simply shrugged at the responsibility of critique and stood idle as the bow found itself against the strings and played. She could see the blue in it, low and slow, and guessed the other parts were meant to be the happy. Seemed more excited than happy, but the two were close enough. It wasn't until the musician bothered to explain it that it became more overt. "Clever." She reached a hand into her pocket and withdrew her worn leather wallet. "How much does clever go for nowadays?" Opening up the single fold, she began picking at the edges of the bills and eyed the musician.

September considered it for a moment, then shook her head. “You tell me. I’ve been clever all my life, and yet here I am, playing for the whimsy and benevolence of strangers.” Honestly, they didn’t often have a lot of either. She’d learned not to expect it—she wasn’t exactly whimsical or benevolent herself. There wasn’t much logical reason to have such traits, anymore. Whimsy was a waste of time, and benevolence was a good way to get oneself walked all over. If she played for the money itself, she would have been sorely disappointed by her yield, and likely would have stopped quite some time ago.

"You just have to be the right kind of clever at the right time." Three bills slid from their leather binding and casually floated down into the violin shaped depository below. 300 dollars to spend on whatever clever thing they wanted, though Sarah did have a suggestion. "And right now, someone who's the right kind of clever would take the money they have and not go near the slums tonight." She tapped a nail against her mask. "Clever people can tell when something bad's going to happen and know to stay away." She looked towards a distant clock to see her extra time had almost been expended on the performance and turned to leave, taking a few steps towards her meeting.

“You don’t say,” September murmured, watching the bills float down into the case, then flicking her eyes to the woman in the gas mask and inclining her head slightly. She lived in the slums, as it happened, but she could stay away for a night. In fact, there was probably someone she could impose upon for the required shelter, or she could simply spend it wandering around. She didn’t fear much, in truth, at least not anymore. Whatever the case, the woman left, and September figured she might as well follow suit, looking around to make sure nobody could see before she lifted the violin case with her mind and set it down beside her on the fountain. Pocketing the coins, she left the bills where they were and set the instrument down.

Well. She supposed she had to find something to do with herself for the night, then.