Gull Island is a tiny island nearer to Canada on Lake Michigan and it is here that a houseparty will be raging for the weekend. A houseparty that Liam has been invited to by Ms Malika, as her … guest. Her escort. And possibly something he’s looking forward to.
The boat ride across was uneventful, although the chill in the air had Malika ‘cuddling’ up to him as they stood on the deck and watched Chicago proper fall away and the silhouette of a house appear.
That had been yesterday and the most of the afternoon / early evening had been taken up with security. True to Malika’s word, Liam had been scanned heavily to make sure he wasn’t carrying any comms device. This was a comms black zone – the reason for which became clear when he saw who was there. A CEO of a one of the smaller, but still influential Corps – not one of the SF’s competitors, of course. An artist of some reknown (or so Malika said) who goes by the name of Meoancy and other successful business men.
It’s been a fairly relaxing day all in all, some boating out on the lake in the morning and now everyone is gathered in the ‘parlour’ with warm drinks, a fire crackling in the fireplace (a holographic one) and music being piped through the sound system. “So Liam, how’s retirement treating you?” That’s Hogan the corpulent CEO who has a large brandy snifter in hand. “You, girl, top this up for me!”
A slight, redheaded woman in a maids uniform jumps slightly at the bellow but brings the decanter over and pours two measures into the glass before seemingly melting back into obscurity.
“It goes well enough.” Liam hasn’t drank much but he has been encouraged to drink. Malika has gotten to see his ‘charming’ face up close, paying attention to the CEO’s and the artists and sundry other people of some importance. It’s easy to see how despite his foibles SF could consider him an asset both in the security and PR departments.
“Working my present job affords me quite a bit of excitement and I still get to enjoy the benefits of having been one of the best.” Like meeting Malika though everything that followed from that he thinks was just the two of them hitting it off.
Malika is there too, sitting next to Liam all but draped over his shoulder as she sips from her glass of sparkling white. Of course Liams been encouraged to drink, everyone is and it’s just part of the fun, isn’t it? And there’s been a lot of alcohol.
“You don’t miss the hustle and bustle of the rift?” Asks Uhlster one of the business men. “I didn’t take you for the do anything quietly type. I’ve seen your League record.” There’s a teasing quality to his question. “Malika, how is he on the dance floor?”
“More than adequate, Ully darling…” the dancer replies. She’s been very attentive to Liam since they’ve been here.
“Might I ask about your node, Liam or is that verbotten?” That’s Meoancy asking that. Liam would have seen the looks its got since he’s been here.
Liam has to his credit been rather attentive back. Of course it’s not hard to be attentive to Malika. She’s pretty for a start, engaging, rather intelligent and that would be more than enough without the ‘feels oh so good’ part whenever he does so. He can’t put his finger on it, chalking it up to ‘he really likes her’. Which he does, it’s true.
“I do, of course, but working in corporate security gives me plenty of hustle as well. The thrill of victory, the sting of defeat, you know. All that.”
The ex-carry flashes Malika a smile as she answers that. He’s of course almost certainly not as good as professional partners she’s had but he’s a much faster learner than pretty much anyone she’s worked with, more than likely.
“Mmmm? You can ask, Meoancy. I might not be able to answer but you can ask.”
Malika’s fingers play in the hair at the back of Liams neck as she lounges there. The ex-Carry is right in that it feels so good when he’s with her. And it feels good when he flashes that smile at her. “More than adequate. And not just at dancing if the look of you is anything to go by…” Uhlster chortles, giving Liam a wink and downing the brandy again. He gestures and the pale redhead fills his glass – she’s been there, in the shadows, serving the guests. Almost anticipating their needs.
That’s not unusual though – the firm that provides the staff prides itself on its quality.
“I suppose you’re right Liam. Do you keep up the same training regime? Or is it an easier gig?” Uhlster continues his questioning. He’s been like that since they met, asking seemingly inconsequential questions of the ex-hypercarry.
Meoancy nods and flourishes what looks like a quill. He’s been sketching … on a device with that. “We’ve heard rumours of course and read the press releases but I’m curious. How reliant are you on its operation?”
Liam Whelan has partially disconnected.
It’s not unusual for Liam to be asked a lot about it so he hasn’t really thought much of it and if he had well… the dark skinned beauty on his arm is very, very distracting. “Training isn’t just about the body, Uhlster. You have to keep the reactions sharp too. So no, not quite the same but every bit as tough.”
Malika knows first hand that Liam seems to be able to anticipate movements. What might a training regimen look like for someone who can fly and predict the future at least a few moments in advance.
One of the things that hasn’t been asked about and that Malika might not know about is Liam’s ability to actually see electro magnetic energy. Like, oh, radio waves or power lines. It’s one of the things that makes him good at knowing when someone is out of place.
“I’d survive but it wouldn’t be pretty. Healing an injury like the one I took is a long process even for miracle medical tech.”
There’s actually a lot that Malika doesn’t know about Liam and that node. “Honestly Uhlly …” Malika breathes. She seems a little more artsy when she’s with this group. Maybe that’s just more her, though from what Liams seen – that’s likely more of a facade. “… look at the man, does it look like he’s shirking in the exercise department?”
Her fingers still toy with his hair as he talks, distracting him with the touch and that light push against his mind. He won’t think any of the questions, she’s sure.
As Liam observes the room, there’s nothing out of place. The small redhead appears to be just what she seems, a maid here to service the party.
“Sorry for all the questions, but I’m thinking of writing a book. Well drawing one, actually and I’m trying to make sure my information is solid. So damaging it, or losing it, you’d been less able but still functional?”
Liam might be wondering what type of book this is!
Hogan stretches and looks over to pool table in the corner. The table is real but the balls are holographic. “Do you play pool, Liam?” He asks as he rises and heads in that direction. “Girl, fill everyones glass, they’re getting empty…”
Lian doesn’t especially like the ‘overly upper class’ Hogan but he hasn’t said anything. He can socialize and it’s not like Hogan is especially abusing the staff. Just being loud and drunk and kind of boorish. He almost doesn’t answer the man’s question about pool. It’s too… nice to sit here with Malika brushing the back of his neck. Too nice by half. Though how could anything that good be bad?
“I do sometimes. Been a little while.” He looks over at the artist and chuckles. “I’d be alive. I could move. Well, assuming whomever got it out of my chest didn’t mess that up. I wouldn’t be a very happy person though.” What kind of book is this indeed?
“Then join me.” Hogan gestures to the table “It’s been a while since I had someone decent to play and something tells me you’re not one to do things by halves.” Loud and boorish and entirely involved in himself. Liams assessement isn’t wrong.
“Shall I come and be your good luck charm, Liam?” Malika murmurs. “Or shall I sit here and pine for you?”
Hogan’s already setting up the table, racking the holographic balls and checking the cues as the redheaded maid tops the glasses up. When that’s done, the corpulent CEO waves to the door “Leave us. We don’t wish to be disturbed for a while …”
The red head pauses for just a fraction before leaving and closing the door behind her.
“Well Liam?” A cue is held out towards him as the others move to get a better view of the table. Except Meoancy who seems to be rummaging in his bag…
“To anyone else I might say I don’t need the luck.” Liam murmurs back. “But I think I’d like it if you came over.” She might just sit there of course and that would be okay but Liam will take any chance to have Malika nearby. In any case the carry himself stands up to head on over to the prepared table. The node lets him start making calculations on what he’s likely to need to do. This is all just… force and angle, right? Just a game of geometry and physics…
“Then I shall.” Malika uncurls and follows Liam over, letting her fingers brush his arm as she positions herself near him. Not too close – he needs to be able to use the cue and move, after all. The node and RIAN will certainly be of assistance.
“Guest breaks … ” Hogan says waiting for Liam to make the first move. The CEO then takes his time to line up the shots. He sinks two ‘big’ balls and smiles. “Guess you’ve got smalls …” The node will calculate that Liam can sink two or three on the next shot.
Meoancy draws near as they play and Liam feels really good – that’s the booze and Malika, isn’t it? But is he starting to feel light headed?
One of RIAN’s functions is to help regulate Liam’s biology and she’s very helpful in that regard. Even as he lines up the calculation he querries the AI. ‘Am I high?’ He hasn’t done any drugs but there might be something around. This is that kind of party. The kind of party where people might do embarassing things. So it’s possible that he’s got a contact buzz of some kind. It feels really good but the light headed isn’t good for playing a game and he’s very competitive.
Still he manages to even up the score on the next two shots and grins toward Malika. Good luck indeed.
//Not high, no. But your definitely being affected by something.// Rian responds, trying to adjust his biological functions to cater for it.
Hogan grins sharply as the next two shots are landed but the third one missed. He takes his time and sinks the next one but misses his second.
“Told you I would be a good luck charm…” Malika smiles brushing Liams arm again, making him feel great all over again.
“Very impressive. I wouldn’t have thought anyone could have made thoses shots without some mutant power … ” That’s Meoancy who is really quite close. Liam feels a slight sting on his neck and now his head swims …
//Liam. Something is wrong …//
“It’s all just math and angles. I may not look smart but there are a few things I can do.” Liam smiles. When something stings the back of his neck though he blinks and places his hand there. “Ow… one moment…”
‘RIAN, isolate the substance. It feels like someone just stuck me.’ There’s a lot of reasons that might not be what happened but the sudden alteration of his senses has him rather suddenly hyper alert. Weirdly he still feels wonderful so his sense that something is wrong is clashing with that. Malika if she’s listening to his head will likely sense a sudden surge of suspicion and the triggering of the biological fight or flight response. Something as old as, well, humanity. Instinctive responses can be very difficult to suppress or alter.
“Relax Liam ….” Malika rubs his shoulders, drawing him back towards the wall. Well, there was a wall there, now it’s an opening and they’re headed into it. “… you’re doing so well…” She can sense his panic, the suspicion, the deliberation on what to do.
And she’s trying to counter it. Encouraging him to go with it and it feels so good and warm when she does.
The air around them is cooler now, chilly even, and the light is lower and it seems like Malika is starting down stairs. Liam can hear the others behind them.
//I’m trying to, Liam. But it keeps reinfecting you.// Why? How?
There’s enough cognitive dissonance for Liam to NOT relax. His mind is still a bit fogged but he wraps an arm around Malika’s waist and tugs her back in the other direction. “Something is wrong.” He murmurs to her. Reinfecting. That word resounds in his head. He started to experience this when the artist got close. If he can put some distance between them that might be…
He reaches the conclusion rather quickly that this might be something related to Malika’s ex despite the utter lack of evidence for that. It couldn’t be something Malika’s involved in. Couldn’t be. Which means he’s got to get her some place… more public. She won’t want to just leave the party.
Well, not unless they’re attacked.
//Analyze and report, RIAN. And clear my head, if you can. Engage threat assessment mode and track all movement within thirty feet of me.//
Malika’s quiet for a moment as Liam responds that way, letting him draw her near. He can almost feel the others back off, giving them space. “There is?” the dancer finally says, sounding a little worried herself. “We should get to safety, then. It’s safe down here …” She draws him onwards to the bottom of the stairs.
She brushes his arm again and the lightheaded feeling seems to swirl.
//Opiate based substance is through your system. You need to detox and I’ll need to get you amped up.// He can feel as she pushes his heart rate faster, which probably doesn’t really help his sense of concentration, not until the opiate is burned out. //Not tracking anything near you. Just Ms Malika. Her friends have fallen back.//
“Been drugged…” Liam whispers to Malika. “Might be to put you in danger… not sure.” That Liam does not think it might be HIM in danger speaks to the effectiveness of Malika’s calming of him. Or at least diverting of the tension.
He glances downstars. “Are you sure? We might need…” He looks up. He can fly. She knows that. What would she do if he just hugged her tight and took to the skies?
“Drugged? Are you sure?” Give Malika her dues, she’s doing a great job at keeping the act up. “Then we will definitely be safe down here. Just a few steps further and we can see to you.” There’s a door at the bottom of the stairs, it’s open and there’s a soft light filtering out. “See, we can barricade ourselves in until we can sort this out.”
//Liam, I can’t clear your system.// Is he able to pay attention to RIAN at the moment? Or is he too far gone?
Above them, there’s a crash as the door splinters and the sound of lightning of crackling. That Liam might be able to see … if he is indeed looking that way.
“Quickly, they’re nearly on us…” Malika urges.
Liam does look up and lightning should be welcome but Malika’s urging has him thinking perhaps that’s more trouble. RIAN’s warning is noted but not responded to. Instead he turns to go downstairs with Malika. If the door can be scured… wait. How exactly are they going to sort this out? It’s not like they can call out for help.
This is the question he asks himself as he follows the dusky skinned dancer. Asks but doesn’t answer.
“We need to find some place for you Malika. I’ll deal with whatever I need to.” It might be sweet that he’s so concerned for her safety if she weren’t planning something fairly… nefarious.
There’s yelling as Malika leads Liam into the room, letting him hold her for the moment “I’m safe here, I’m with you …” she murmurs. He probably doesn’t notice the way she furtively looks out the door, he’s assaulted by another wave of lightheadness as she strokes his shoulder this time.
//Liam. Malika’s friends are joining you.//
RIANs warning probably comes too late as Meoancy, Hogan and Uhlster pile into the room. “You got him here, good.” Hogan rumbles. “Now shut the door and bolt it. We’ve got com
A blast of air fills the room, forming a little a tornado or … twister. Holding the door open long enough for a blue skinned woman with dark hair and yellow eyes to appear as she approaches. And she looks pissed.
Hogan pulls a pulse pistol and fires it, the sound cracking through the air. Meanwhile, Meoancy is trying to drag Liam back into the room – that the ex-carry is now getting a good look at. It looks … like an operating room.
Liam might not have argued too much if Malika had tried to drag him in there. When Meoancy tries to drag him though he shakes the hand off. He’s in little condition to fight. He’s light headed and it’s hard to focus. That opiate no doubt. Someone might be trying to kill him. He could overdose at this rate.
What he does when flailing proves ineffective is light up his flight boosters and fly right toward the nearest wall.
“You messed up …” Liam will recognise that voice as the blue skinned woman floats nearer. A crack of lightning arcs at out the pulse pistol causing Hogan to yell. More wind and lightning starts to arc around.
Liams jetting knocks Meoancy over, though a gout of fire follows the carry. He can feel his back heat. As he gets towards the wall, he can make out where the electrical circuits run – that might be a little messed up by the lightning that’s being generated.
Strange thing, too. Now that he’s away from Malika, RIAN seems to be stabilising his system.
Liam slams Meoancy into the wall a second time and shakes his head to clear it. No one here is especially a very good fighter and Liam, well, is when he’s not drugged up. With RIAN isolating the drug he’s recovering at a staggering rate. Enough to take off Meoancy’s belt and use it indana jones style to trip up Uhlster. “Alright. Someone’s going on Santa’s Naughty List now…”
“Liam!” Malika cries out as the Carry starts to recover. She tries to push against his mind again, to calm him. It probably won’t have an effect. “Help me… ”
//I wouldn’t recommend it, Liam. There’s a 99.89% that she was the cause of your intoxication.// RIAN responds.
Uhlster stumbles as Meoancy melts to the floor. There’s no more fire blasts at least.
That leaves Hogan who’s pulse weapon just disintegrated as a blast of lightning hit it. That doesn’t stop him – he launches himself at Liam as Kami appears in the door. “I don’t think these are True Believers, Liam. Do you have him …”
“I’ve got him…” Hogan is big but Liam sees his lunge coming half a second before it happens and that’s plenty of time to slide out of the way and kick him. While still in the air. Liam loves being able to fly.
RIAN’s warning has Liam pulling up a bit short but still sort of drifting toward Malika. “Are… you okay?”
He shouldn’t be asking that but she did a good job of inlfuencing him. It’s probably a good thing Kami is here.
“That was a bit sloppy …” Kami quips to Liam as he impacts with a crack. That’s not just going to leave a bruise on the bruiser – he’s going to be drinking through a straw for a bit unless he can convince someone to spend the credits on good medical care.
//Liam. Stop where you are…// RIAN tries to arrest the Carry’s motion but he’s clearly not listening.
Malika looks up and reaches to take Liams hand. “I …. I …” she’s still playing it up. Kami doesn’t hesitate and grabs the womans arms, twisting them up behind her, careful not touch her flesh.
“Enough of that …” she mutters, looking at Liam. “RIAN, how is he?” That’s not directed at the carry but he can see the question in the sneak-thiefs eyes. What he might also recognise is the uniform the small redheaded maid was wearing.
Liam blinks as Kami twists up Malika’s arms behind her back. He’s a bit addled at the moment. There’s a lot going through his mind but he doesn’t really know what to say or ask right now. Call this one of the few times that he’s just… dumbstruck.
Kami has rather nicely broken up the party, though.
//In shock.// RIAN responds. //And still a bit drugged. He’s not going to be very useful for a bit. He’s in a state where he’ll do most anything he’s told. Don’t let him get told anything dangerous.//
Liam gets invited to a house party with Ms Malika.... what could possibly go wrong? Except for everything?
November 24, 2051
Gull Island - Chicago
Ms Malika, Hogan, Uhlster, Meoancy