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Sigil Warden

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  1. Red Eyes It almost hit her. Almost, because the lack of immediate follow-through made her reaction a confused mess of backward scrambling instead of a coolly executed riposte. The strange machine amalgam's subsequent clumsiness had been so at odds with the speed at which it had approached that it genuinely confused the artificial neural pathways they'd installed in her specifically to circumvent the relative molasses speed of her biological responses. Unity began hucking when she should have been pausing and then jiving, and for her trouble watched the indistinct, grainy blades of nanomachines flit past her face in ultra HD from millimeters away. The upper spade missed the tip of her slightly upturned nose by nanometers. She allowed herself an entire quarter of a second for disbelief, bending backwards at the waist almost double as the natural extension of her flinch. To a baseliner, this sort of flexibility was nigh impossible. The Unity from scarcely four years prior would never have managed this, and she had been a gymnast of legendary stature. Nor would she have found such a vulnerable position desireable. But this new Unity... well. She was a work of art. Spine crackling as her collagen-rich connective cartilage tested its improved tensile and compressive strength, the thief's back arched to the floor, her balance resting back on a tripod of three slender fingers of her left hand - whilst her right arm pulled in defensively her broad hips torqued leftward, sending her right heel rocketing up into the unbalanced simulacrum's 'chin' on the exact rear edge of her riser, delivering a pinpoint wallop not unlike being struck with a jackhammer. Her foe still airborne by this upward jolt, and momentum unwasted, the turn of her body flipped her horizontal, landing on the offending foot only to deliver a second, even more devastating spinning heel kick with her left across the side of the head, a spiderwebbing crack at the point of impact lancing out across the entirety of the hostile machine's screen-like face to send it sprawling away before it might recover. Liquid fire burned in the girl's hips as she straightened, resettling onto the balls of her feet. Her daggers were back up, eyes narrowed and wary. Her breath steamed from her heaving chest. Damn. That felt... good. @Spooky Mittens
  2. The Machine Spirit Within "Oh what the fuck." The expletive was a loaded shell, carrying incredulity, frustration, and horror in a singular, explosive outburst that rang out in the chamber. If only Unity could have formed its ire into physical harm against the golem-like machine mass posed ominously before her. Her vision was still drifting, the fleshy bits of her brain still only now comprehending parts of her whirling assault. Rapid, deep breaths lent her frame an exaggerated, almost comical fervor, like the idling animation of some video game heroine. She couldn't feel her hands, and the thief's brow was frozen into a concerning crease. Overly dense bundles of muscle fibers seemed to tense at random throughout her body, responding to parallel impulses that had only just arrived. An entire subroutine devoted itself to suppressing them, inundating her right eye in a blaring stream of orange warning messages. Time was not of the essence in a state of hyper-acuity. The sense of rush, of the immediate need to move, to act, refused to leave, confronted with the danger of the amorphous machine beast across the room - but it was moving so slowly. Or was it even moving at all? Unity couldn't tell. Instead, she thought about how she ought to be moving, but her spasms still needed at least another thousand milliseconds to cease ravaging her limbs. Whereas lucidly she might have despaired at the inability to act, the surreal awareness of every minute detail instead lent itself to daydreams while the digital hardware did the focused work of sorting out the confused return signaling of her nerves. So instead, she saw herself back out on the promenades of Absalom, far away from this pit of technological horrors... among flesh and blood. Kin through the shared experience of human needs, wants, and failures - and yet they too recoiled in horror just as she had from the deathless drones. Perplexed, the thief looked down at herself, her figment realizing in shock that her hands had contorted back on themselves, reacting to some unknown stimuli. They felt fine, but jerked and bucked grotesquely, broken in appearance but still functional. With sick curiosity, she carefully curled the joints of her fingers over the back of her right hand, balling it into a reverse fist. The crackling of her joints faded as a distant scream floated by, and she fought the urge to weep. Had they truly taken away the semblance of humanity? She wasn't even sure of every change that had been wrought. What good was having the body of a model and the mind of a supercomputer if beneath the surface it was threaded with inhuman lies? Contrast clattered to the ground, and the noise jolted Unity back into reality. Her left eye snapped down to look at the nerveless fingers of her right - she'd been mashing them open-palmed into her thigh, trying to bend them back on themselves. One of the orange warnings had changed to red. Grimacing, she carefully withdrew the hand, experimentally flexing each digit to make sure it still functioned correctly. It did. Instantly her dagger was back in her hand, the episode passing as quickly as it had come, and she coolly tossed the hair out of her face as she returned her gaze to the vaguely humanoid machine amalgam. "Well, are you going to attack me or what? I don't have all day." @Spooky Mittens
  3. Speed Machine Surrounded. Isolated. Outnumbered. Adrenaline vied with the sedatives in the thief's veins, that self-assurance that she had once so easily relied on increasingly absent with every passing day. From terrible ghast to frozen doe in an instant, and back, vacillating in uncertainty as the entire room came to life around her. Her eyes darted about, Unity turning this way and that with half-steps, realizing that she had placed herself squarely in the middle of a horde of hostile, mechanized corpses. She was but one... facing over two dozen of these... things. And so she laughed. She laughed because the hysteria creeping up her throat and seizing at her heart had nowhere to go. She laughed because it was grossly cliche that every dead man in the room was possessed, waiting only for her unfortunate self to stumble into their midst. She laughed at the absurdity of sending her down here alone, with nothing but a pair of knives. Unity laughed at herself, because her consciousness had started to detach the same way the robo-zombie's limbs now tore themselves from their stumps. The crossbow in her hand folded back in on itself, stowed back into its hip holster, and daggers replaced it, Contrast forward in the right and Blur reversed in her left. Then, with a satisfied nod, her mind departed. In amazement, Unity watched herself through her own eyes, over her shoulder, from above and in front all at once, as if every frame of reference had become available to her simultaneously. Time trickled by, not like a leaky faucet but as a molasses haze that dragged everything along reluctantly - all but her own curvaceous form. From the first rush and contact of blade, she carved and spun and cut and slid and diced and slashed and whipped about, every cut like a reenacted kata on a dewy morning. It didn't matter that not every strike found a mark - the flesh-husks might as well have been stationary compared to the storm of steel that perforated them. Decapitated, disemboweled, shredded, mutilated - each shambling cadever bore its own unique injuries in her wake, the rhythm of her cuts punctuated by devastating, whirling kicks that sent them clattering across the floor, spilling wires and machinery instead of viscera. The light in the room was gone, because noone had need of it. Only the dozens of dimmed blue optics in the midst of a streaking pair of red, like taillights caught on long exposure through a lingering alpine fog. @Spooky Mittens
  4. Depths The rogue tensed up in the duct, immediately understanding on an intuitive level what was happening. Whatever malevolent force animated the alien devices down here, it was both pervasive and inevitable, consuming and re-appropriating flesh and tech alike into some hideous amalgam. A writhing, slithering, uncanny approximation of life. Were Unity of a more philosophical bent, she might have pondered if this was the same road she was headed down. Instead, she only felt the crushing grip of despair. How does one fight that which will not stay dead? A corpse had no business moving of its own accord. Her hands clenched and unclenched, torn between proceeding with the mission at her own peril, or the equally terrifying thought of facing her 'handlers' empty-handed. The scrambling cadaver had almost reached her by the time the drip of calming fire raced through her veins. Eyes widening once again, this time in hyper-acuity, the thief leapt into action. She darted into the room headfirst, her powerful legs uncoiling like a spring. Hardly feeling the impact onto the floor as she tucked over her own shoulder, she rolled and was already up on her feet once more, taking center stage in the midst of the room. Before the technozombie even managed to fully haul itself around, the whine of an electric motor signaled the cocking of Premiere - its tiny, pinpoint lenses in empty sockets likely to only comprehend an instant of a single red eye framed in black and white behind the laser sight - before a steel penetrator a foot long nailed its head to the wall in a burst of sparks and a sick crunch. @Spooky Mittens
  5. The Camera Eye Crouched in the shadow of the grate with the poise of a feline predator, Unity calmly surveyed the room before her. Well, calmly was the wrong word. Dispassionately, perhaps, was more apt - once upon a time she'd have been mortified at the death toll heaped about the edges of the room. Now, it was just a reminder of the price of failure. Judging from the proliferation of weapon impacts scarring the walls and floor, a very nasty firefight had gone down here. Corp mercs, probably, or maybe even exploration teams from before the arcology was built. Whoever it was whose corpses littered this nondescript mausoleum though, they had certainly been carrying some serious ordinance to manage to not only scratch but gouge out parts of the futuristic ceramic. She couldn't tell from where she was, but Unity could well imagine the kind of hole such a round would have left in a living being. None of the weapons seemed to be left, however - likely the work of previous scavengers. Once again, not surprising. She wasn't so far in yet that signs of previous explorations wouldn't be commonplace, nor did Unity have any intention to be going that far. She was here to get data about her capabilities, and then leave as expediently as possible. The thief considered her options. Visually or even audibly, there wasn't much to the room, besides the obvious signs of battle. The strobes did make it somewhat difficult to properly get an idea of the gallery's proper dimensions though, and gave the entire place an eerie dance of macabre shadows every time they flashed over the heaped fallen. But Unity did not have her name for naught. Instinctively, she reached out and dulled the pulsing lights, draining away their potency until they were barely luminescent at all, their strobes like small flutters of ineffectual breath, failing to illuminate anything but themselves. The camera eye did the rest, shuttering through a variety of filters as her digitized pupils refocused on the room's contents. Ultraviolet, infrared, x-ray - these would reveal what visible light could not. @Spooky Mittens
  6. Into the Depths She was already committed to the maneuver. Unity could tell the subtle difference in pitch underfoot a split second before she reached it - and decided she'd embrace the dive. Twisting to the side, she pulled in her left leg and proceeded to ride the duct like a slide as she vaulted over the edge into the descent. Her gloved fingertips scraped the smooth surface behind her as she rocketed down, providing a third point of balance and directing her like a rudder. Unity, pro skater. Incredibly brief though the halfpipe grind may have been, it was exhilarating all the same, and for the first time since awakening, something close to an actual smile passed across the thief's painted lips. Feet first and skidding out onto her back, she shot around the outer curve of the leftward turn like a bobsled, using her momentum to propel her down the cramped passage as far as it would take her. It certainly gave her an appreciation for the laminated bodysuit hugging her - right now it was the only thing making the difference between her ass being a cushion or an ablative friction shield. It still burned though, the heat off the non-conductive ceramic positively stinging along her rear, elbows and shoulderblades. Unity found herself quickly hoping she'd slow down soon. The idea of having to pretzel herself in the tiny space in order to stop did not seem very appealing. @Spooky Mittens
  7. On The Fringes Unity unfolded out of the cramped space like a flower in bloom, somehow managing to wrest natural grace out of the maneuver. By pulling her knees to her chest and rolling onto her side, she was able to land feet-first as she dropped out into the duct gallery. There was just barely enough room to stand - she could feel strands of her deliberately mussed hair raising slightly in response to latent static along the surface that functioned as a 'ceiling' in the enclosed space. Her quarry returned her stare from the opposite side of a chute that dropped straight down, and made it difficult to outright rush it down like she had the first time. Knowing this, it mocked her, the poorly modulated approximation of child-like laughter somehow more stinging to the thief's pride than if had actually laughed. Brevity was the soul of wit, but to spend the effort to emulate a sound clearly not natural to it made the insult sting. It was luring her onward, of course, but she wasn't going to simply indulge jumping in that pit just yet. Instead, Unity deliberately ignored the drone, sweeping her eyes around the ductwork. It was pitch dark, with the only sound coming from the drone's chatter and the ever-present hum of the Sarcophagus. Occasionally, she heard the metal groan as a joint somewhere expanded or compressed from a heat gradient, but this was all just... noise. It told her nothing about where to go, what to do, or what she might find if she continued to chase the irritating gremlin. Maybe it was time to make it chase her, instead. The darkness recoiled as a burst of brilliant, yellowish-white light blossomed from her hands and flashed across the distance separating them, blinding in its intensity. Miraculously, her powers still continued to function, even as more and more of her was turning artificial with every turning of the moon, it seemed. The dart of hardlight was accurate and strobed with overpowering brilliance in nearly every spectrum of light, functioning as EMP and flash all in one. It also was a glorified rock, if nothing else, delivering a wallop with the stunning power of the aug's throwing arm. She didn't wait to see the result, and pivoted, charging down the passage to her right like a linebacker with her head down and shoulder forward in case another grate happened to interject itself between Unity and her getaway. @Spooky Mittens
  8. The thief watched in disbelief as the drone reformed itself, as if nothing had happened to it at all. Perplexed, she glanced down at the dagger in her hand, then back to the drone-gremlin, actively playing back the recorded frames of her stabbing the thing over her right retina to verify she wasn't hallucinating. By the time her vision refocused, it was already crawling into the ventilation system, squeezing its minimal bulk easily past the grate covering it, which seemed almost superfluous if the denizens of the vessel could just restructure themselves at will. Unity had been briefed on the subject in very vague terms - that while the derelict complex contained complex and advanced technologies, they had already been exploited and reverse-engineered. She could add that to the list of blatant lies they had told her. She'd never seen anything of the sort anywhere in the arcology - even the plasticizing nano-surgeons in her bloodstream (which was terrifying in its own right) needed some manner of central direction, and wouldn't knit tissues back together if her brain were to suffer catastrophic damage. They certainly wouldn't be resurrecting her like the undead into Zombie Gremlin Scissorhands. Nonetheless, known or unknown, she was down here to test her capabilities. Even if that meant carving up alien machines that were apparently immune to conventional destruction. With a frustrated huff, she sprinted after the little bastard, sizing up the duct as she went. It was nearly head-height off the ground, so simply pulling the grate free was out of the question. Still, at a glance, it seemed flimsy enough. Or at least, flimsy compared to the reinforced musculo-skeletal system Unity now boasted. Like an Olympic high jumper she launched herself up off the balustrade, crashing through the metal grate shoulder first, bearing the brunt of the impact on the padded epaulette of her bodysuit. She immediately regretted this decision. While her form had been impeccable on the way in, she was now wedged head-first and on her back into a tube scarcely wider than her own body. Unity swore loudly, kicking her legs about as she wriggled about onto her belly. This way she could at least see what the hell was happening. The zombie gremlin had already slunk further in, prancing about in what seemed like mockery. Why hadn't the fuckers in that boardroom given her a gun?! @Spooky Mittens
  9. Slay Together Unity skid to a halt, momentarily frozen as she sized up the drone. As it perked up to examine her, she too slowly straightened out, hands dropping tensed to her sides, fingers trembling ever so slightly. Her heart rate accelerated, unbidden, as the soft hairs at the back of her neck prickled. The looming mass of the alien superstructure bled away into the background, her eyes focusing intently on this unexpected denizen of the depths. Its piercing tone, as brief as it had been, seemed to carry on echoing in the back of her mind, held on until she wasn't even sure if the mental echo was real or not. Breath seemed... difficult. There was no obstruction, and yet she held it in anyway. Motion was dangerous - the standoff had to continue. Mankind's greatest enemy lurked in this woman of the future as it had in the hearts of the earliest hominids. Fear. Fear rules all. Fear of what might happen. Of what could happen. Of what would happen. Unity could feel each individual hair on her head shift in the unseen air currents that swirled past. She acutely felt what seemed like every single clasp and attachment point on her suit, digging into her skin - the way the holster bands cut into her thighs, the tension of practically every high-tech fibre straining across the curve of her chest. The persistent millimeter adjustments in her hip alignment to maintain balance on her heels and keep her gravity centered. None of this was relevant, but she could feel it all the same. Every single damn tendon and muscle in her body, individually tensing and relaxing, the map of them passively known to her now by some device she didn't understand. Her frontal cortex found the time to experimentally run a hundred contractions of a bundle of muscle fibers in her right cheek. Unity smirked a hundred times, and one second had passed. Her fingers twitched again. This time, they closed on polymer grips that felt strangely familiar, and certainty replaced fear in the surety of purpose. These were her daggers... her knives. Her closest friends. She loved them. If the calm of the kill had not settled upon her, her pulse would have quickened even more just to hold them once again. The shapes were different, the materials different - augmented, changed, reforged - but the soul of them remained, and she felt their resonance fill her palms. Blur and Contrast. The drone cracked and sparked, nailed to the impact point on the wall where her kick had launched it. Contrast sat buried to the hilt through the strange amalgam that composed its body, its sensor array drooping to uselessness even as Unity's own diagnostics scrolled past with glowing reports of performance over expected benchmarks. It felt like she had been stabbing paper mache. She thought of how easy it might be to shred through flesh with those same hands, twisting and ripping it like pulled pork. The thought made her breath catch. She even felt the blush on her cheeks burning red as the capillaries dilated. Why? Why would she think that? Two seconds had elapsed. @Spooky Mittens
  10. The Sarcophagus was convenient. Conveniently located for a myriad of purposes: be that as picking ground for valuables, a place to prove one's mettle to a syndicate, or as a seemingly endless maw that swallowed runoff, sewage, and undesireables without a trace. Unity was beginning to suspect that were it not for the absolute mint that her new body had cost, she was solidly in that last category of waste disposal. Terms like 'aptitude testing' and 'operational benchmarks' had been bandied about in the stiff boardroom the day before, where the shapely thief had felt, for once in her life, woefully underdressed. Not one to shy away from indulging in her natural gifts, the severity of those suits, and the growing realization that she owed them a debt that could never be repaid in this life or the next, had made it such that she'd felt each executive's gaze bore into her like a chiseling laser. Each callous look stripped away her defenses until it felt like they could even see right through the minidress they'd laminated onto her for the occasion. A shiver bristled along her arms at the memory, despite the dense weave of the bodysuit gripping her like a glove. Insulated and resistant to a myriad of incidental hazards, her 'handler' had deemed the suit sufficient defense for her first foray, trusting that a laundry list of augmentations and subtle improvements would handle any further dangers. The very idea of the whole operation was a gnawing pit in her stomach; who could have imagined that being cuffed for a relatively petty theft would end in what amounted to slavery? Besides, she didn't feel any more prepared to handle whatever awaited her down in this god-forsaken pit - the speed of her assistant processor only made the time spent here seem to dilate. She could let her mind race through a thousand what-ifs at double the rate. Amazing. Unity grimaced as a particularly viscous drop of what had to be raw sewage fell a mere inch away from her face to splash to the crumbled concrete underfoot. Twenty minutes she'd been carefully descending into this glorified sinkhole, and all she'd found were abandoned hovels and piles of trash mixed with rubble. The first ring or so near the outer edge had been decently populated with homeless vagrants, as it was more or less the only place in Absalom where they'd not immediately be arrested and flogged, or worse. As she'd climbed and slid further in, however, only the scuttling of vermin seemed to indicate life of any kind. That was until she noticed the vague hum resonating the ground. Augmented ears had assumed it to be the background noise of the arcology towering above on all sides, but this was... not that. Machinery, yes, but while Absalom was a garbled mess of interference in the background, the sound from below was ordered and regular. Not quite a pulse, but distinct enough to be the heartbeat of some hibernating giant. She only saw it a moment before she tipped bodily forward, a cavernous, jagged hole that was no longer a crater, but simply a pit. In the eerie silence that pervaded outside of the low hum, Unity could actually hear the components of her ocular implants whirr like a whisper as they automatically adjusted to the near-total darkness. They stared down into the chasm, two pinpricks of red in a sea of black. Infrared showed the bottom a very dim red. Warmth, in a spot where the cold air ought to be collecting. A filter confirmed the convection of the air above, and Unity's exhalation became the loudest sound to meet this depth for some time. Without a word, she pitched forward, and tossed herself unceremoniously into the drop. A tiny HUD on her right retina ticked off a box on a list of tests she was instructed to run. She'd successfully managed to not shatter both legs on impact. The tracker did not need to know that she'd deployed a hardlight 'chute to turn the landing into a twinge in the ankles instead of ramming two polymer risers directly up into her heels. Pathfinding was already offline - one would think that for such a ruthlessly exploited resource the entrance to the Sarcophagus would be better defined. As it was, only the abandoned bulk of excavating machines, long rusted into uselessness, greeted her from the cylindrical gallery she now found herself in. Great bay doors to either direction, front and behind, lay askew and open. Some faint glow of light could be seen filtering from somewhere further along to the northwest. A good a place as any to start looking for something worthwhile. Unity sprinted after it, rubberized soles hardly making a sound on the odd, ceramic-like paneling that constituted a 'floor'. @Spooky Mittens
  11. "You won't find my face in that pile of 'product', hun." It was a quiet reprimand, barely heard over the trap beats, delivered in a tone Unity still wasn't quite used to using. She'd let herself in without knocking, an act that by anyone else would have likely ended in murder. Instead, the shapely thief was facing the dangerously high crime boss with her bravest smile, her eyelashes fluttering at him from the doorway. Pushing the door closed with her heel, she cocked out her hip, and pointedly swirled the rum cocktail in her hand around idly, batting away imaginary dust from her vinyl miniskirt with the other. "I thought... heh. I thought I might um... apologize for laughing at you earlier." Her thighs crossed closely in front of one another, stalking a hip-swaying stroll past the front of his desk, setting the glass down on the corner as she leaned up over it, hiking one leg over the side to show off exactly how much she wasn't wearing. Her fingers, usually supernaturally dextrous, fumbled a bit with her jacket zipper, letting her chest out for some air in the stuffy enclosure. "It... it took me off-guard, you know? But I'll make it up to you, boss-man." She blew him a kiss, and hopped back off the furniture, making her way up to the neon underlit pole that beckoned from the center of the lounge-office. The part of her that still wondered how she had let herself into this mess had been replaced by a much more easygoing Unity, loosened by enough liquor to drop a horse. Carefully, deliberately, she wrapped each hand around the cool aluminum, palm-first, then curling each finger in individually grasped the sturdy metal, testing it despite knowing it could easily support her weight. There was no part two of her show to be had, though. Instead, after a few experimental, brief twirls about the pole, she simply widened her stance as she faced away, and bent over at the waist as her grip ran palm-open down the pole, presenting herself in a way that made no mystery of its intention. Her sultry, painted gaze caught Ryker's eye just over the curve of her shoulder, the red stare peeking out from among the strands of crisp white. "I've needs that have gone unfilled... have I come to the right place to ask for... help?" @Better Than Gore
  12. People unused to not getting their way could be some of the most explosive and dangerous - combined with the prestige and power of Ryker's position, this made him genuinely terrifying. Unity had read it in his expression, the way his shoulders and stiffened and his fists balled, in the strangulated tone of the man's voice. A barely restrained anger, that could as easily have lashed out at her as any other of the crime boss' employees. In one moment she felt both relieved that he had left abruptly but simultaneously dreaded having to confront him about it later. Doubtlessly his infatuation with her could be used against him, and she cursed the fact that she'd not had the presence of mind to immediately capitalize it. It had taken her so off-guard she'd not been able to fake flattery. As much as she tried to avoid leveraging her looks beyond a mere selfish indulgence in passing stares, she'd had to weasel her way out of danger by giving in to carnal demands on more than one ignoble occasion. And yet, those instances did not compare to her current predicament - where sex had been a means to defuse a situation or to escape it, now she was likely going to have to use it to place herself even further into the den of lions. A soft sigh ruffled the dangling tip of her single black bang that always hung in her eye, disturbing the almost statuesque stillness with which she reclined on the performing couch. Resigning herself to the fact that bailing on the mission was at least as bad as getting closer to the mark, she cut the recording clip from her iris cameras, transferring the data to her unfolding phone that she had tugged from the tiny pocket on her skirt. A minute or two of emotionless tiptapping of her fingers on the holopad left no doubt in the investigative body's decision. She was to make use of the man's vulnerability. Unity didn't even try to argue it - she knew better than to put her on more of a shitlist. She ought to have been appalled - essentially forced into whoring herself out for her own freedom. Second-degree rape via blackmail. The alternative was incarceration for life... or another decade on the run across the planes of existence, never able to just settle down. Even with the 'upgrades', she wasn't going to stay young forever. It was yet another layer of insurance, on top of the debt owed for her cybernetics. The real surprise had been that they'd not stripped the thief of her extraordinary powers... though it had been threatened once already. Lost in thought about her predicament, it was only when another girl sidled into the room awkwardly with a john that Unity stirred out of her mind fog, absently grabbing her cash from the table and tucking it in her purse. She was going to need alcohol for this. A LOT of fucking alcohol. ~ It took nearly an hour of shower time to get that damn glow paint off herself. Thank the gods for industrial water heaters - hot showers were a luxury that despite her rapid adoption of the post-modern, futurist world, Unity still found absurdly indulgent. More than once she'd had to consciously stop herself heading out the door to go to a non-existent bathing spot in a river. Another half-hour to fix her hair product and makeup that had run a bit in the billowing steam, and she was ready to go. Knowing exactly what she had in mind as her end goal tonight, she'd ditched the pasties under the mesh shirt, instead hiding herself only in the tight embrace of her over-cropped leather jacket. Undergarments likewise had been eschewed, leaving her vinyl pleated skirt as the only barrier between her and the world. Slightly torn stockings clung to her thighs as her refreshed self mingled back into the crowd of the club. Almost immediately, former patrons began to congregate around her, but her beeline for the bar left them staggered behind Unity, letting them filter in one at a time. Not one failed to offer to buy her a drink or two to slake her declared thirst - in return, she offered them some polite conversation and heart-stopping bats of her eyelashes. She'd already had more than any girl of her size had a right to imbibe without becoming stupid drunk, a result that certainly every single one of her admirers were waiting eagerly for. They knew she had nothing on under that skirt. She knew that they knew, and crossed and re-crossed her thighs often for their benefit. But those cerebral and endocrine enhancements were good at their job, and she was still only just getting a bit giggly. Realizing disappointedly after almost two hours that the money sink was not producing favors beyond teasing, the less wealthy finally departed, leaving her with a brief bit of solitude. The barkeep looked at the thief with plainly obvious jealousy, if a bit sympathetic. "The boss really likes you, Unity." Unity looked over the rim of her fourth mixed rum, and snorted into the glass. "I know. He told me." The barkeeper looked positively excited. "That's really good you know, he almost never pays that much attention to his girls.... did he... you know... have you private sesh with him?" A blank stare was followed by a wan smile. "He asked for one, yeah." Incredulously, it was the keeper's turn to stare. "You say that like you said 'no'...?" "Yeah, I blew him off." "Girl, are you stupid? Do you know who you just turned down?!" "... I get it, he's the boss, I'm supposed to keep him happy, et cetera." "Not just keep him happy, Unity, his expectations of you must be super high, you just failed a basic test." "I... don't think so. He sounded more like a flustered schoolboy than head honcho in there." "Shh! Shut up! Just... agh, I don't want to see you disappear two nights after your debut. You'd better go in there and apologize to him." Unity gestured vaguely to the row of empty glasses in front of her. "Heh. Don't worry... I plan to." @Better Than Gore
  13. An intermission of what passed for silence in the small lounge intervened, the rogue cautiously straightening to standing in the dark. She couldn't find words to reply to the man's outrageous confession - it brought absolutely no balm to the mortal terror that had been gripping her a moment prior, and it washed over her so quickly she was still trying to process just what exactly had just happened. So instead she feigned a fumbling in the darkness to reach the fader switch on the nearby wall, even though she could see it perfectly well, and gradually restored the recessed lighting to the small room, a look of incredulity still frozen on her face. Then, as if a ton of bricks weighed on her shoulders toppled and slid off all at once, her neck slumped in relief, and laughter chimed from her chest. Her hand rose questioningly to her cheek, as she looked up at him, still laughing with an expression that read mostly as "Are you serious?!". Trying to stifle it with her fist did nothing - the chuckling continued to rise unbidden at the absurdity of it all. The famed crime boss Ryker Albrecht confessing his infatuation with her like some breathless schoolboy at a dance. She had to take a seat - it was all she could do to keep the tone from rolling into outright mockery as she gripped the leather armrest and let the giggling fits pass. Only when she had taken a deep breath did she look back up at him, her mouth still twisted into a grin she couldn't suppress, constantly threatening to break back into hiccuping laughter. "O-okay, Mister Albrecht. Ryker. I guess that puts us first name ba... basis. Ahem." The thief had to stop to prevent herself from giggling again. "It's really uh... sweet of you to say that, but you really scared the hell out of me. I don't know how I feel about my boss... crushing on me." Her smile drooped a bit, the coping mechanism of mirth finally starting to slip away, as she realized that she couldn't simply let him down easy and take her leave like he had suggested. Her mission required her to stay, and record episodes just like the one that was currently transpiring. While there was nothing overtly criminal about this particular action, it did paint the man as extremely brash... and also, judging from his face, quite high. This could be manipulated... as could, she realized, his fancy of her. That part made her heart sink a little. Increased favor was a double-edged sword that brought more confidence, but also more scrutiny. She'd almost outed herself just now with her acrobatics - how might she slip up later if he was always watching her? So naturally, she said something entirely the opposite of her feelings. "Maybe I'm in the wrong position then if you're going to steal me away from your customers, Mi - Ryker. I don't want to be the employee that makes you drive away the people paying the rent. I'm not petty, I will stay - I just want to feel safe, and right now..." She fixed him with a strangely distant and yet vulnerable look with her smoky eyes. "...I don't feel safe at all." @Better Than Gore
  14. The near-absolute dark and pounding bass line made the sudden intrusion absolutely and terrifyingly surprising. The resulting reactions were equally violent, but couldn't have differed more between client and girl. A high-pitched scream rent the air, peaking over the music for a brief moment as Unity vaulted off the customer reflexively, her powerful legs throwing her into a tumbling cartwheel that landed her in a poised crouch in the corner. Her lenses immediately auto-corrected for the contrast in lighting pouring in from the doorway, recognizing the silhouette of Ryker instantly... and also the growing dark spot seeping across the customer's pants as his shriek died in his throat. Adrenaline surged in her veins, and her muscles tensed, not knowing if the drugged up bastard was here to visit violence on her... but certain that her impulsive movement was... not typical of any kind of exotic dancer, no matter how flexible or gymnastic they might be. If the jig was up this goddamn quickly, there would be blood, and lots of it. Black polished nails twitched silently in the air, ready to fight the moment the fucker so much as flinched in her direction. She cursed herself now for having smeared herself in glow-in-the-dark paint... he'd have no issue seeing exactly where she was - all he had to due was follow the bobbing trails of her pasties. Instead, the boss, whom to the customer must still have looked just like the spectre of death looming in from the bright light of the hallway, directed his ire entirely at the poor fucker frozen on the couch. Stammering and swearing, the guy realized Ryker wasn't kidding, and at this point was more than willing to hand over the rest of his cash just to be allowed to leave. A vibrant array of colorful epithets streamed from his mouth the whole way out, leaving Unity still crouched and tensed in the corner by the end of the couch. Her characteristically soft voice could barely strain over the unemotional track that continued to fill the room. "What the hell?!" @Better Than Gore
  15. At first, the slender thief was barely cognizant of the voices around her - a thick auditory fog seemed to separate her from the thronging adoration surrounding her. Still flushed with the thrill of her performance, she straightened, 'collapsing' away her batons so that she could sweep her tips together quickly with the sole of her platforms. Halfway through this process, she remembered she wasn't wearing pants anymore, and stiffened, her cheeks reddening even more as she realized she'd been bending over multiple times to pull the money together. Covering herself with her discarded jacket, she spared the sizeable pile a sad glance - it was a shame it would be added to a mutual pool. Although she barely recognized some of the denominations present, it was a hefty amount. What finally brought her back into the present was a particularly brash young fellow stuffing a fistfull of bills directly down the front of her mesh shirt, giving her a third boob comprised entirely of... money. Unity looked down at the offering between her breasts with a sort of puzzled bemusement, then up at the sweaty dude, and realized the guy had about 5 guys getting ready to dogpile him if she took his offer. Pre-empting a massive brawl over something she'd not even been paying attention to, she hopped down off the stage gracefully, interposing her pretty self between the posse and the client, giving a brief wink. "Sorry lads, I'm taking his offer. I'll be around later for more, don't worry your handsome heads." She gave the youth that had stretched her mesh shirt a swat on the rear, taking care to keep her legs closed as much as possible as she navigated the club behind him. "Find a booth you like, love, I'm going to go pull on my spare skirt real quick." She let him wander off towards the private studios, before flitting off to retrieve her bag from behind the DJ's setup. Unity gave him a shy, apologetic smile as she shimmied quickly into the tiny garment that barely restored her modesty, and shrugged. "Normally I'd find a room but I figure it goes on and off easily enough, heh. Thank you for nailing the timings, I... actually had fun up there. I think. I think that's the sensation I am feeling." She giggled, and was off again, chasing down this generous tipster. The thief couldn't back down now, maintaining her cover would require her to demonstrate willingness to work without being told. Not to mention... her heart was still beating out of her chest with the audacity of what she had just done a few minutes ago, and she wasn't entirely sure she could say she hadn't genuinely liked it. Unity found the man already settled in to a partitioned lounge, his fist down the front of his trousers. She suppressed the urge to laugh - did he even need her there if that's how revved up the dude was? Besides, it wasn't like she was going to help him with that - if anything, quite the opposite. Exotic dancers were purveyors of flustering, not satisfaction. Keeping her eyes on him, she blew aside her single black bang that always hung into her face, and fished up the wad of cash he'd given her, depositing it on a side table, 'ere she sauntered over to him seductively, crossing her legs at the ankle in a catwalk that far outdid her usual streetside strut. It was, of course, all about indulging his fantasy. She cocked her hip out, stopping in front of him, gracing him with a brief smile. "Shall I get a bit more hands-on then, sir?" The question was largely rhetorical - the customer managed only a mute nod. Unity met it with one of her own, and sidled forward, pinning him to the leather couch as her knees hemmed him in at the waist and she settled into the man's lap just a hair away from full contact. The lounge music here was languid, easy, not really any particular track but some looped mix, but Unity didn't care to change it. Instead, she dimmed the lights down to near-darkness, letting the outline of her glow-painted skin trace the suggestion of her shape in the air as she undulated just out of reach. @Better Than Gore
  16. Shit. Thrown right into the maw of the shark tank, Unity froze up again as she felt what must have been every pair of eyes in the establishment swivel to face her like a turret, their curious gazes boring into her side and back like a powered auger. Her hands balled into fists, eyes growing wide as the place spun around her, suddenly overcome with vertigo and nausea. In that moment, she realized she really, really didn't want to be here... especially not dressed like this. With a lost, dilated look, she stared blankly at the stage and strobing lights, a few seconds stretching into multiple eternities of anxiety, the urge to cry and the need to flee vying with each other for dominance - until a gentle hand ran down her back, stilling her tensed muscles, loosening them and slackening her brow. A potent cocktail of mood stabilizers deployed directly into her nervous system, lifting her from the icy grip of fear into an aetherial far dimension, where she felt what might have been close to joy. Or maybe that was just her confusing relief with happiness. A practiced ease released her from her stage-fright, her tall heels rolling her hips into time with her song as she ascended the few stairs to the dais. Already, the dimmed lights and brief strobes shrouded her body in mystery, the silhouette broken only by the taut stretch of mesh over a perky chest and thick, fit rear. She'd ran blackglow through her frosty tips, lending her cropped hair an almost angel like halo under the UV backlights. I guess its time... to dance. An easy toss of the hair... a lean back onto the pole to bob her head easily to the thrum of the beat that both lit the senses and evoked primal emotions, letting the slow buildup move her body the ways that felt right. The rational part of her practice forgotten, she began to shift side to side with one hand back up against the metal, widening her stance with each rock of her hips to show off her toned legs. Strapped into 8 inch platforms, under normal circumstances the agile thief would have been hard pressed to do more than a basic strut in them, but this music had crawled into her ear and it moved her with a sensuality she'd only dreamed of sober. Her cropped little jacket, whose hem had barely cleared the base of her bust, came off almost immediately, revealing two glow in the dark circles under the black mesh of her shirt, bouncing along with her every move. The bright pasties winked at her audience, jiggling on each breast, as she spun abruptly on the ball of her foot and embraced the pole between them, dragging herself suggestively over the cool aluminum, sighing loudly with the kind of need that made every man in the room stiffen instantly. But the music was picking up, and she stalked out in front of the rotating pole now, her shoes drumming the podium in time to the bass, and waited for the brief voice sample that was the only warning to the drop. With abandon, in double time, she moved both erratically and yet with definite purpose, her legs always posing just right after a kick for a pigeon toed, suggestive forward lean or toss of the head, her arms lancing out only to run her fingers indulgently over her body a moment later, throwing out small beads of sweat as she did so. Intense heat radiated from her, as if with fever - a perfect euphoria that soaked her through. Yellow hardlight batons blossomed in her hands, though in the dark it seemed like she had pulled them from the tiny pockets of her booty shorts, and in a blur of neon they carved arcs of light around her writhing form. Some melody beyond the blasting, echoing bass overlaid itself, only in Unity's imagination, timing her erotic contortions into superposition over this simplistic baseline. Like a master ravebunny, she wove a tapestry of light around her in trails of white and yellow, her teasing flesh only visible in the briefest flash of a strobe above. But they wanted to see more than silhouette. She'd cut the little black jeans ahead of time - with a single wrench they tore off, baring her properly... allowing the shapely thief to release an ampoule of UV sensitive paint with a clench of her pelvic floor. Like an exclamation of climactic finality, it splattered out over the stage in a staggered dribble , licking across her thighs on its way down. Fingers trembling with exertion, she slumped back against the pole, dragging the glowing liquid up over the curve of her hips and up her sides, smearing it up over her bust and streaking it out in fading trails into the hollow of her neck with suggestive moans and splayed hands that pawed at her own body. When the music faded out and the lights slowly raised back to normal, all that was left was the sweat-drenched, slightly disheveled girl squatting at the base of the pole, the batons crossed between her legs, breasts heaving with labored breaths. However... she was smiling... a smile that quickly broadened into a shudder and a broad grin. She'd done it.... she'd actually done it. @Better Than Gore
  17. What little practice Unity had managed to get in between the interview and the call had been... mediocre at best. Her employers had been surprisingly unhelpful in this regard - though perhaps she should not have been, given that this was not only a task of ill-repute but also what surely could be seen as a redemption arc. She would have to figure this one out on her own. So she'd posed questions to actual dancers, trying to word them in a manner that made her look like an eager newbie and not, in fact, a clandestine agent. They'd given a lot of conflicting advice, and no small number of anecdotes about guys being grabby which Unity had assumed came with the territory and really wasn't factoring into the whole matter. She had meds to deal with groping hands, but she did not have meds to make her better at working a pole. Finally, one girl gave her an idea she could work with. Eschew the pole almost entirely - and do a dance routine closer to a rave. With sufficiently insufficient clothing and no small amount of glow-in-the-dark paint, the brief flashes of flesh in the strobe lights would be as good a tease as any sensual pole-work... and she didn't quite feel crass enough to go straight to talentless booty-shaking either. Unity had a nice behind but... clapping it like a seal was just abhorrent even to her sensibilities. Besides, it would let her use some of her actual talents in a way that wouldn't arouse suspicion. Thus, armed with an upbeat track on vinyl that had cost a hefty dime, and an outfit heavy on the mesh and zippers and little else, the thief found herself once again greeting the bouncer at the door. This time though, they let her straight in... the boss was expecting her. Fantastic. She was on time, but Unity hoped she'd have time to steel herself... maybe rehearse a bit beforehand? First things first though... she needed to hand this disc off to the DJ and AV guy so they'd know what was up. Fleeting around the edge of the place behind the bar island, she bee-lined to the head-bopping dude in sunglasses next to the turntable, hoping to avoid talking to anyone before she managed to tell him what she had in mind. @Better Than Gore
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