Transformers Universe MUX
Advertisement

Log Title: Long Live Jem

Characters: Buzzer, Leah Dwyer, Kimber, Ripper, Silica, Torch, Zarana , Jerrica Benton , Kamakura , Zartan , Bludd , Poise , Katie , Denise and Marcie, Storm Shadow , Slugfest , Jem

Location: The Masquerade - Los Angeles - Earth

Date: May 02, 2022

TP: Dark Kimber TP

Summary: Jem and the Holograms open their new tour with a bang!

As logged by Ghost


Warehouse (The Masquerade)

This old drop forge building has been reinforced and redesigned on the interior using many of the past mechanical trappings and elements leftover from its life as an industrial complex. Inside, the main concert space has a multi-tiered stage arrangement that can be customized for live or DJ sets including isolation booths for virtual DJ's invited from around the globe. With a vaulted ceiling that reaches up over 80 feet, the upper rigging multiple platforms and design elements to amplify and add to the sound without loss. Light bays, speakers and more are secured above while below built into the various floors are additional sound and lighting elements all to be best prepared for shows that tantalize both the visual and auditory ranges of its audience.

The dance floors are carved out of concrete and industrial elements from the buildings interior, all angled and positioned for both acoustic enhancement as well as a view of the performers. Multiple DJ booths, fully enclosed are arranged in 2 smaller, yet amply as appointed secondary clubs as well, one more for smaller performances, the other a niche club. All are soundproofed against one another as are the 2 lounges decorated in post-industrial speakeasy, a fantastical twist on steampunk.



It is the Grand Re-Opening of 'The Masquerade', a multi-tiered club and concert venue tucked into an older industrial area of Los Angeles that has undergone mild 'gentrification' in the form of loft condos, retail warehouses, and other venues. Tonight's Concert line-up is just as spectacular, the headliner 'Jem and the Holograms' once considered a kitschy group from decades ago having a revitalization in the now. The two opening acts, 'Cold Slither' and 'The Misfits' both hail from the same era, and all three promise to be a showcase of the before and the now, using the latest in sound and show technology.


Guests are first guided through a 'guardhouse' where tickets are taken, QR codes are shared detailing the venues multiple interior offerings, maps of restrooms, and more before they can filter through to the main stage itself. An expansive industrialized 'hall' with multiple dance areas and isolated tiered seating touts itself as the best in show and stage for a true 'experience' in music. Dieselpunk industrial setting at its finest.


Jerrica Benton

Jerrica Benton is backstage, making sure the opening acts are ready. She still looks young for her years, and her blonde undercut with black bangs enhances that impression. The once-mousey stage manager seems to have gained confidence over the past decades, and she takes shit from nobody, even the Misfits and Dreadnoks.


Zarana is there wearing a roughed-up shirt that's long since gone almost threadbare identifying her over as a Roadie from the 1980's tour. Her identity cards also back up the persona she had there, more than thirty years ago. She's taken the time to carefully apply her makeup and mask to treat herself as an older version of the persona she was back in that tour. Dangling earrings with lightning bolts are on her ears, she has carefully dyed green and blue striped hair, a spiked collar on her neck, and large gloves on her hands. She's gone for the full VIP pass along with all the 'perks' of someone that actually spent some time with the band a long, long time ago (the joys of hitting Ticketmaster and having an identity on hand to justify having things)! She's here for a good time, doesn't actually have any weapons on her, and has her comms turned off.


Tonight is just for fun, brawling, and waiting to see how long before the Misfits crash it like they've done each time since. It's been too long since there was a battle of the bands. And a girl can dream.


Even if not, she can still get behind the stage to talk with the girls performing. She totally does not expect to talk with Jem. Jem never, ever talks with -anyone-, just coming in to perform and then leaving.


Kamakura heads in, as usual without a date. The redhaired young man moves to take his seat preparing for the show.



Zartan is getting ready with the rest of the Dreadnoks, and is currently in the makeup chair, applying his own makeup of course. Buzzer, Torch, and Ripper are also getting done-up, though Buzzer prefers not to do his own and Torch and Ripper aren't competent enough, so makeup artists are working on it instead. "This concert will be immensely profitable," Zartan chuckles as he puts on the finishing touches and dons the requisite 80's-hair wig.


A bland, forgettable-looking man probably in his late twenties to mid-thirties passes through the 'guardhouse' and takes his time observing the venue's interior as he heads for his seat near the stage.


Jerrica sticks her head into the makeup room. "9 minutes to stage, guys," she warns the Dreadnoks. As she looks at Zartan, her eyes flash red in the room's lighting, making her look far more intimidating than her 5'5" frame might suggest.


Torch tests his flame-throwing bass in the dressing room, nearly setting the ceiling on fire.


Zarana whistles outside on the main floor, heading to the dance area where they'll have the best view of things. Her persona -might- give her some level of backstage access but setup is for the band time. That's something she wouldn't dream of interrupting. It's just considered rude. It's their time to reminisce, do last minute prep, and probably for general threats to be laid about by all parties. She's going out to sway and hum over to their 90's remix tapes.


Zartan chuckles at Torch. "Let's leave off setting everything on fire until after we get paid, hmm? Not including the stuff we're going to burn as part of the act, of course." He's almost finished getting dressed and is currently putting on his boots, which are much fancier than his usual footgear.


On several hanging screens and projected in the shutdown digital DJ booths pops up a timer, signaling how much is left to wait for the concert of the year. The 'house' lights dim and raise, shifting hues slowly through the entire rainbow spectrum before circling and twisting, a little pre-light show to entice the guests to their seats or dance floors.


Earth's resident Nebulan agent, Poise, seems more than a little pleased to park her Turbinecycle out in the lot, attracting the attention of dozens of people at first. The weapons systems are down, but it's safe to say that her ride is more than up to the task to discourage hands-on interaction. She's wearing a bomber jacket, with purple shades, and the lower half of her combat fatigues. It's... it's a mess, but she swears it's high fashion. In her chipper tone, she surveys the site, even as she gets priority through the line, "Huh...This place isn't half bad. I wonder if the Crescendolls are still touring. Might be low scale, but a new audience is a new audience." She shoves her hands into her jacket, and just meanders around, seeing the sights.


Katie gets pretty much pulled into the concert by the twins, for the moment.


Denise and Marcie pull Katie in, apologizing just a bit for hauling her away from work. "C'mon mom, we saw some of the old albums hiding in the storage stuff. You used to like some of this, and we listened some. It'll be interesting to see how they sound at this point."


Showtime arrives, and Jerrica returns to usher the Dreadnoks to the side of the stage. Somehow, all their LA arrest warrants have disappeared from the local police database, and a computer glitch has kept FBI and Interpol from becoming aware of their presence. The Joes might be aware, however....


In his bland holographic disguise, Major Bludd blends in with the concertgoers well. Though he doesn't say much to anyone, his affected American accent seals the deal as to him being someone who's... not him. He watches the stage in anticipation of the opening act.


Zarana is whistling over and glances over her shoulder at Denise and Marcie and Katie, giving them a wave and heading on over. Her threadbare shirt marking her as a Roadie from 'back in the day' if one went to the 1980's tours of the band. "Hey, nice to see younger folks here getting the vibe of stuff." She would offer to the two very tall girls and their mom.


For the first act of the night, back on tour, is 'Cold Slither'. The main stage itself is inset, complete with a chain link 'fence' curtaining off the band from the audience. 'Smoke' begins to drift across the lower floors, pooling down walls and swirling here and there, tinged with angry red and orange hues. Looking around there is the passing of spotlights outside of 'windows' being digitally painted onto walls here and there complete with flickers of blue as if the local constabulary is coming to pay the band a personal visit.


Flames suddenly erupt across the stage, and Torch of the Dreadnoks, dressed in sunglasses, a yellow tank top with a red arrow across it, and impossibly tight black leather pants, explodes onto stage. He starts laying down a bassline with his flame-throwing bass guitar, punctuating flourishes with bursts of fire. A drumbeat starts up, and a spotlight appears on a drum set with Buzzer at the center, competently laying down the rhythm. Emblazoned across the bass drum is a snake logo and the words Cold Slither. Finally, keyboards kick in, blending an 80s Electronic rock sound with a modern Melbourne punk aesthetic.


Now Playing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f55CqLc6IR0&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8&


Bludd chuckles quietly as Cold Slither takes the stage. A bemused look stays on his face during their performance.


Poise crosses her arms and tilts her head at the pyrotechnics. She seems unimpressed by all the smoke and fire, then again it must be rather low tech to an advanced alien species. She sits atop a high enough spot, and chews on her lip, only mildly interested. "Huh."


Ripper is revealed next, with a regular electric guitar that has garish, vaguely cobra-esque symbols on it. He starts playing (or is it being Milli Vanilli'd?), and then, Zartan is spotlighted, standing at the forefront as if he had just teleported onto stage. In reality, he'd simply walked to his space unnoticed in the shadows, using his camouflage ability, so that when the light went on, he would seem to have been there all along. "HELLLOOOOO LOS ANGELES! ARE YOU READY FOR SOME COOOLD SLIIIIIIIITHER?" Zartan cries out to the audience.


Zarana would turn her attention over to the stage while she would chat with the twins and their mom. A wistful look on her face. Happy memories of a simpler, punchier time. When life was all about the anarchy and the road. Before the decades had made it complicated. but still fun. She would go to let out a whoot and a cheer from her position. The first time in years she had given a sincere hoot and holler of happiness and sincerity for her twin. Maybe in decades.


Denise and Marcie glance up at the stage, over at Katie, and just shrug and say nothing, watching quietly and sipping their drinks.


Katie shrugs at the girls, shaking her head and sipping her own.


Kamakura watches the stage quietly, keeping an eye on the band. Yeah, Cold Slither. Always a fun performance. He shakes his head, with an attentive stare from his seat. Well. So far so good.


Katie blinks at the one chatting up the girls, raising her eyebrows and trying to be friendly, of course, as do the twins. Even if they're rather subdued in their responses.


The band teases their fans, not giving them what they want right away. Instead, they launch into a passable cover of "Drink" by Alestorm, played with more gusto than skill, but it IS a fun time. No evil shenanigans this time (yet), just some Australian punks having fun on stage and warming up the crowd -- literally, in case of Torch, as he gets a little too wild with his fire-throwing bass guitar.


Zarana would smile over at Denise and Marcie, "Really nice to have folks show up here. Lot of new fans. Really great the band is coming together after a long time. Really glad to see 'em on tour." She would go to hoot over at Cold Slither on the stage. "You go to their performances?" She would ask Katie. "And this your first one I guess?" She would offer to the twins, even while she would hoot and holler up at the stage off and on along with the beat. "And just enjoy yourselves! Mingle and have some fun. These things are mixers."


Now Playing: Out of Control - Rancid

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7HsilnzFgQ&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8


Katie shrugs. "Not really. Just haven't heard some of the groups play in a while, and the girls wanted to come watch, so..."


Zartan loves this song they're covering, because it's just *such* a Dreadnok song, though personally he'd replace "beer" with "money" in a pinch. Because with money, one can buy more beer! The stage props include phoney beer and rum bottles, so Zartan can really get into the act.


Poise squints at Cold Slither, and considers the situation, "These guys seem vaguely sinister....and advertising intoxicants is a pretty bum deal if there's nothing lactose-based for their foreign crowd..."


Zarana would grin to Katie, "Fair. Always nice to get caught up. Now get out of your corner and come out and dance. You're gonna have a lot more fun and feel it near the stage. You love these things in person out on the floor and feeling the energy. From the band, the crowd..." She would offer her hand over to the trio.


Katie shakes her head. "Not one to come and dance, sorry. Especially not while drinking sodas. That's more for a different crowd anyway. I'm mostly here for the girls anyway."


Bludd laughs aloud at the opening song, amused at the music itself as much as by the antics of the band. He lounges in his seat, his head bobbing ever-so-slightly to the beat.


Denise and Marcie stand a little closer to Katie during the discussion.


"Drink" is followed by "Out of Control" by Rancid. A couple of the Dreadnoks DO start to get out of control, as Ripper takes his giant blade to a keyboard early, damaging many of the keys he'll need later for the finale. He doesn't seem too concerned.


The venue itself reverberates with the music, such that it is, being performed, the bass sliding almost subsonic, vibrating seats and railings alike.


Zarana would give a wave to the trio, "Fair enough! Have a great time here. And at least try it before the main performance hits! This is just the warmup! You get all the energy out and in front. Have a great time here!" The Dreadkonk would say with full enthusiasm while heading out to the main dance floor, moving along to the beat of the music. As Ripper keybusts, Zarana laughs even more loudly and applauds.


Katie nods and shrugs and sips her own drink.


Now Playing: Skullcrusher - Combichrist


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWCw0blnhN8&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8



The second song seems to sit better with Poise, but all the fists up in the air, and excitement just seems to pass by her. As Ripper cleaves to his keyboard, she says to herself, "Now that just seems impractical."


Fortunately, Zartan foresaw the destructive tendencies of his crew, and thoughtfully prepared several spare instruments in case they got too carried away. There'll be enough time to replace the damaged keyboard by the time of the finale. At this point, Zartan can't wait for the cover of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck". Both he and Ripper could do a half-decent Brian Johnson imitation. "Out of Control" is also a very on-brand song for them, and it shows.


One knee unconsciously bouncing to the beat, Bludd seems to otherwise still during the Rancid cover. He shakes his head at the wanton destruction of musical instruments, only reacting more strongly if a guitar gives its life on the stage. Such an event would provoke an indrawn breath and a brief cringe from him.


Denise and Marcie just shake their heads at the instruments, glancing at Katie. "Note for later, look up how much money was wasted in destroyed instruments for this." For her own part, Katie just laughs and shrugs.


Zarana would go to whoot and move to bounce her feet up and down to the music, going to head out to the dance floor, moving along in the familiar refrain of someone that spent so much of her life in the 80's metal scene. For Zarana, a homecoming ,and a sense of revitalization. For the few that knew her, and the fewer that recognized her, an almost Zen-like aura of happiness was in her.


As the band tears into "Skullcrusher" by Combichrist, the wheels start to come off a bit, as excitement and enthusiasm starts surpassing skill more and more. Pre-recorded bits get out of sync, demonstrating that while they aren't Milli Vanilliing it, SOME of it was, AHEM, 'enhanced' by professional musicians. Buzzer pulls out his chainsaw and cuts through his cymbols, laughing deliriously and spewing the foulest of British curses in the best of humour.


The sound system picks up the chainsaw and it buzzes through the multi-tiered sound system rising and falling, picking up the cursing as well.


Zarana would look over the crowd from her position to see how many would be laughing along with the cursing. The playing had gone on for at least six, maybe seven minutes. There was normally a lot more swearing by now. Her playing a game of guessing who were the new folks to this seeming surprised and the returning fans who were laughing at it taking so long.


Now Playing: Before I forget - Slipknot

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw2LU1yS7aw&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8


One holographic eyebrow quirks up as the music begins to fall out-of-sync. Bludd knows who Cold Slither are, and the only thing that surprises him about this development is how long it took to occur. He winces slightly at the harsh sounds of shearing of metal and revving of small gas-powered engines as the Dreadnoks do what they do best: destroy things.


Zartan's able to keep up, but the less intelligent of his band are desynching due to the beat difference between Combichrist and the previous songs. Fortunately, there's enough cursing in the song itself, that Buzzer's own additions aren't really noticed. So Zartan carries on.



Poise regards the destruction with light revulsion for a moment, when suddenly it dawns on her, "Oh I get it! They're going to sell off the chopped-up instruments later! That's got to be why." A few of the concertgoers look annoyed with her downbeat synopsis and go back to ignoring her. Poise says to herself again, "Really could go for a shake."


Before they can forget they're supposed to be performing, Cold Slither launches into "Before I Forget" by Slipknot. Buzzer picks up his drumsticks and tries to get the band back in sync, doing a passable job. Not great, but hey -- they're gettin' paid either way, right?


There's a laugh from Zarana to Bludd at the raised eyebrow as she goes to raise her fingers for three, then another moment for all the fingers on her fist. They made it through three full songs. More than usual. Zartan was feeling rather restrained tonight.


Zarana would call up to the stage, "Just eat it!" Seeing if Ripper would try to eat the keys and Buzzer some of the wrecked drums.


At least Buzzer's not trying to play the drums with the sticks in his nose...


Katie shakes her head at the gratuitous destruction of instruments and just sips her drink again.


Storm Shadow slips in late, wincing at the cacophony of... well... music is a kindness to call this at this stage. Still, it's recognizable as some form of entertainment. He makes his way to a seating area, stopping to get a fizzy pop.


Now Playing: Thunderstruck - Cover by Leo Moracchioli feat. Peter Honoré

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7rRA-V-0zY&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8



Zartan and the Dreadnoks didn't invent the destruction of instruments, but Ripper, Torch and Buzzer would think they'd perfected it. Zartan launches into his best Brian Johnson impression (vaguely Cobra-commander-at-his-screechiest) for "Thunderstruck". This song causes Torch to 'go Angus' on the stage with his base guitar.


Zarana would glance at Katie and the twins and grin, calling out, "Hey, you're not here to hear the music! You're here to hope you survive long enough for it to get to the good stuff! This is better, it makes 'em able to play a lot less!" She would call to the others.


Zarana looks over to the stage and goes to count in her head. Fourth song, most of the instruments are destroyed. But none of the band has been critically injured yet or killed by shrapnel from the crowd or behind the stage. Zartan's mellowing in his old age.



Destruction of Instruments? Was NRG here too? Poise perks her head up, and her side-eye gaze goes to the concession stand.


Moments later: Poise slides a hundred-dollar bill across a counter and says in a low, almost daring tone, "Let's go crazy.... extra, Extra chocolate."


Poise returns to her seat with shake in hand, oddly enough that hundred bucks was about proper price for concert food...


Bludd glances over at Zarana, smirking as she tries to encourage the band to eat their destroyed instruments. His attention is drawn back to the stage as the AC/DC cover starts. He's never been a huge fan of the band, but he -is- an Aussie. He looks more engaged than he's been so far, grinning and moving to the metal beat from his seat.


Somewhere, in the massive crowd, a tiny stegotape lurks. He's recording the music for some reason, known only to him (and maybe Soundwave or Ghost or both), and he's concealed himself backstage while listening. Nobody's noticed him, or maybe some stage hands assumed he's one of the props.


Denise and Marcie keep watching somewhat along with Katie, raising their eyebrows, and sticking close to her, watching the audience some as well.


Zarana would go to mouth 'just eat it' up on the stage while seeing if the band would have any instruments by the end of the current song or if they would be on fire and trying to chant along with the rest of it or getting into a brawl.


Now Playing: 'Cold Slither' - Cold Slither


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnM-u7rZwtI&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8



Now it is time. Zartan gets into the song they've been waiting to play. The vaguely hypnotic one. Maybe not as hypnotic as the original, but who knows. The lyrics were Destro's handiwork, not his, he's the front man, but it's not about the lyrics anyway. The other Dreadnoks really get into the performance now.


And the lights are a mirror of the first time this song was played to the public, harsh, unforgiving, bright. Smoke rises and streams across the dancefloor, pooling down walls again.


Just offstage, a tiny stego's optics glow bright red suddenly, as Cold Slither starts up! As if hypnotized, the stego creeps onstage, bumping into the drums currently played by Buzzer - or what's left of them, anyway.


Indeed, they do! New instruments are brought out for the finale -- "Cold Slither!" Every band member gets into it, leaping around the stage, breaking stuff, setting things on fire, and providing all the spectacle Cold Slither fans expect before joining together to scream the final words: "When the venom stings / A new order brings / Our control!"


Buzzer picks up Slugfest and joyfully uses him to destroy the last of the Cold Slither set as the final notes fade away. Afterward, he looks a little surprised to find a robot stegosaurus in his hands, so he gently sets him down, and then walks quickly away, not looking back. Stagehands swarm the stage with fire extinguishers while they prepare for the next set.


What they've all been waiting for! Probably minus the mind control aspects. The crowd's long been since inured by loud music, flashing lights, and deafness to be probably resistant to it even if it's up in the lyrics. As everything goes on, Zarana is moving to kick her body about and cheer. Watching as Buzzer manages to pull off destroying the last of things even as the new song starts. That's dedication to performance!


As the notes fade away, Slugfest regains his senses, and his lil feets paw the air momentarily before Buzzer sets him on feets. Since his feet are still moving, he inadvertently scampers forward and does an unintentional crowd-dive! "EEEEEE!"


Denise and Marcie just... stare at the stego being waved around, shaking their heads and watching it, then backing up in front of Katie as it does a crowd dive and moves. "Not good..."


The crowd catches Slugfest by the not-bladed end, and joyfully pass him around the club.


Slugfest ooohs as he experiences crowd-surfing for the first time, totally stealing Zartan's thunder.


Zartan for his part, isn't pleased that the tiny stego upstaged him, but lets it pass for the time being. It's time for the next act to come onstage soon, anyway, and he must admit Slugfest is a more efficient chainsaw than Buzzer's usual weapon.


Denise and Marcie see that and move up to assist in passing it away.


Zarana would go to laugh over. Seeing there's no body bags going to be needed here. Or emergency services. The Dreadknoks seem to have actually finished their first set without having killed one another.


Between the first and second sets, the light filters shift from that 'fiery' series of oranges and reds, fading in and out slowly to halftones that tinge everything with the old hue of sodium streetlamps. Twinkling lights inside into the flooring, safety rails, walls and ceiling ripple and shift, becoming color coordinated to point towards the sunken in bar areas, others towards the restroom areas.


As 'The Misfits' stage is set, the enclosed DJ booths around the venue shift to shadowbox theatre: the band's shadows in bold blues, fiery fuchsias, and glamorous greens dancing against backdrops of urban living at its punk highest. Graffiti seems to spring to life across the venue as walls are 'painted' live with graffiti styled lyrics from their most famous songs, glowing to life, and fading back out again while the audience awaits.


Having finished crowdsurfing, the tiny stego finds himself a seat for the rest of the performances. The whole experience makes a tiny stego.... happy?


Bludd seems less than impressed with the band's signature tune, and with the completion of the wanton destruction. But he knows it's in their nature. He's mildly surprised by the appearance of a somehow familiar tiny robotic stegosaurus, but as it's not passed his way, he doesn't pay it much mind. During the break between bands, he gets up to stretch his legs and meanders toward the bar.


Zarana would go to stretch as well, heading back towards Katie and the fire haired daughters, "Take it it's a bit loud for you?" She would offer a little quietly. "There's some places a few rooms back where you can sit if it's a bit much."


Katie and the girls shake their heads. "It's fine. Just finishing our drinks off and getting fresh for the break right now. The noise doesn't bother too much. And we brought along ear filters if it does, the music will come through but it'll deaden a few decibels worth." She smiles and shrugs. "Always important at something like this."


Zarana would laugh, "Fair enough. So, can I get you all another round of drinks then? This place has some of the nice signature things. You enjoy 'em a lot more when you're around the bands playing." She would offer gamefully, ready to have it declined.


The fires are put out, and the stage reset for the second act. The 80s grrl-punk is shut off, and the venue goes dark again aside from the emergency and seating lights. Obviously, the next band is about to go on. A pall of smoke still hangs in the air from the Cold Slither set, even as industrial fans whirr to try to air out the venue before the next band takes the stage.


Katie smiles and shakes her head. "We're fine, thanks." She smiles and shrugs, glancing up at the next band ready to go on. "Guess we'll wait on it anyway."


Bludd secures himself a Guinness from the bar and heads back to his seat as he notices the signs the next act is about to begin.


Zarana would give a wave to the three fire haired girls, "Take care and enjoy the show!" She would go to order a quick drink herself and move to chug it rapidly without so much as stopping for air, taking the large pint glass of whatever it was that was extremely strong, potent, and designed for a 'kill the liver' bunch. Taking up the glass and going, "WHOOO!" As they got ready for the mayhem, the murder..


THE MISFITS.


There is the roar of motorcycle engines (normally more associated with the Dreadnoks, to be honest), and then three fashion-forward women roar onto the stage, each riding a vehicle shaped like a musical instrument. They race around a centrally located drum set, dominated by a square-jawed woman with massive crimped white hair, which shakes vividly as she bangs out a beginning beat.


A hot, curvaceous woman with black and blue hair, a short black skirt, and torn fishnets leaps off a keytar-shaped conveyance and brandishes a real keytar, blasting directly into a complicated speed melody. Another black-haired woman in an all black-and-white outfit hops off a rolling bass and starts strumming a hard, thundering bassline.


On the final wheeled guitar, where many Misfits fans expect to see the wild, green-haired Pizzazz, instead rides a tall woman with red and yellow hair, with a torn grey shirt decorated with fire. She slides off her ride and whips out her guitar, playing and singing a rousing cover of "I Wish You Were a Beer" by Cycle Sluts from Hell.


The newcomer gets a passive look from Zarana. The old-time fan looking up at her critically. But giving a chance. She's inwardly humming 'one two three four let the bodies hit the floor'. The new girl definitely seems like she can keep up the clock and fits with the band. Thirty years and they still haven't missed a beat-down in however long it's been since they were up together.


Time to give the new girl a chance and see how well she fits in. Besides, it wouldn't be an 80's band if some kind of feud led to some of the folks being thrown off.


Bludd watches the Misfits take the stage and laughs at the chorus to the song, raising his half-full glass of Guinness toward the stage.


Katie nods at that, and just laughs as the new group comes out, shakng her head slightly and glancing to the girls. Who smile a little and speak quietly. "Hmm, a band for fanservice to guys. Go figure." They shake their heads and watch, laughing.


Now Playing: I Wish you were a beer - Cycle Sluts from Hell


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeuNckmt7h8&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8


"Hey there poser," the new flame-haired lead singer growls, "You look pretty stupid to me! Hey there poser," she repeats roughly, "I'm broke and it's half past three!" The new frontwoman is technically a better singer than Pizzazz but lacks a little of the pure chaotic energy. Nonetheless, she leads the band enthusiastically, screaming along with the rest of them, "I wish you were a beer!"


Zarana would look up to the stage and then smile over at Katie and the twins, "Nah. The Misfits are a group about power. Taking it, seizing it. About taking whatever the world throws at you and using it to make yourself stronger." That's said quietly. "Fanservice? Sure. The girls are allowed their fun."


Between songs, the lead singer announces, "Hello, LA! I'm Blaze, and we are The Misfits! Our songs are better!" she yells, to a laugh from those in the crowd in the know. She then launches into "Lay Me Down" by Alice in Wonderland. With Jetta on bass instead of sax, and the new lead singer, the Misfits sound harder and more punk than they did in the 80s, and they give it their all on stage.


Kamakura fistpumps with the crowd, enjoying the opening acts and then the Misfits. It's been a while but they are still good!


Older (aside from Blaze) but not lacking in energy, The Misfits follow "Lay Me Down" with "Blow" by Ke$ha, a song written for The Misfits if there ever was one. Roxy pounds the skins with tremendous rhythm and strength, and Stormer pulls off the bizarre feat of playing the keytar in a grrl punk band. Jetta's an even stronger bass player than a sax player, and along with Blaze they demonstrate that even without Pizzazz, they can tear up a stage (metaphorically, so far, unlike Cold Slither).


Katie idly laughs at the Misfits, listening on and shrugging at Zarana. "Yeah, I suppose. Remember people listening to them back when, for sure." She smiles and just listens along.


Now playing: Lay me down - Alice in Wonderland


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKSnpQJJjlo&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8


Zarana would smile, "Yeah. And fanservice isn't a bad thing. Or bein' setup way you are." She would go to go to hoot up to the stage. The band had aged well. The sound was different. It had evolved. Become harder. It was different. It wasn't bad. I twas its own thing.


Slugfest stegoloafs while listening to the music, not noticing the hyoomans around him, though his tail might wag a bit if one pets him.


The Misfits complete their set with "Life's a Bitch (But I Like It So Much)" by The Mysterines and "Pulse" by Icon for Hire. For better or worse, without Pizzazz, they've matured into a real band, with more sustenance than chaos. For some, it's a justification for years of dedicated fandom. For others, it's a disappointment to those expecting Cold Slither-style theatrics. "Thanks, LA!" Blaze yells triumphantly. "Good night!" The Misfits leave the stage.


The venue brightens up slowly like an old opera hall during intermission. Inset lighting on floors and walls shifts and flickers like candlelight, casting the industrial elements, pipes and fittings, brick and mortar, sheet metal and copper into a gentle patina of well-worn elegance. 'Painted' images on the walls lend to the illusion, in sweeping ripples of old velvet curtains and gilded frings spooling on the flooring. The main state itself shifts slowly to set up for 'Jem and the Holograms' while the unmanned DJ booths themselves flicker flash with highlights of the groups entire discography. Lyrics scroll on walls in elegant, flowing script, 15 second clips of videos are projected here in there in sepia tones as if watching a movie from the early 1900's.


Huh. That's a bit lower key than she expected. but it's time for the main event. And Zarana's going quiet. Totally quiet and respectful. Where for the earlier bands there had been hooting and hollering, chatter across the club floor to others.. Now there's just quiet and silence from her.


She's totally fangirling.


Katie smiles at that, and heads to get fresh drinks with the girls, before coming back quickly with them and settling back in while the next act sets up, sitting up more and smiling at Denise and Marcie. "Now for the act we really came to see." She laughs softly.


As the Misfits perform, Bludd lets the harsh music wash over him while studying the band members, particularly the keytarist, his thoughts going to an entirely different keytarist. He settles back in his seat and watches the stage as it's set up for Jem and the Holograms.


When it is time for the main event to begin, the entire venue is plunged into twilight, twinkle lighting above lending a sense of night and the temperature drops slightly with the sense of a heavy breeze, as if the day is exhaling its last and night is coming to embrace. The stage itself is cast into utter darkness, as if a void has opened into a hole into another time and place.


From the darkness, five giant faintly glowing rectangular obelisks appear over the stage. A voice rings out, "When Jason was at the table, I kept on seeing him look at me when he was with that other girl. Do you think he was just doing that to make me jealous?" One of the rectangles lights up, and it appears to be a giant self-taken photo of Aja Leith, blue-haired curvy Asian lead guitarist of the Holograms.


"Because," the voice continues, "he was totally texting me all night last night. And I don't know if it's a booty call or not. So... like what do you think?" A second panel lights up, showing a photo of Shana Elmsford, beautiful black bassist with massive, impressive purple curls. Pink eyeshadow highlights her dark, intense eyes.


Zarana would go to look up at the stage. Everything is perfect. She's happy and gleeful. She's just quiet, basking in appreciation and reliving a happy time of her life. And it's time to just enjoy the theatrics.


Katie is watching with far more interest now, smiling.


"Did you think that girl was pretty?" the disembodied voice asks. "How did that girl even get in here? Did you see her? She's so short, and that dress is so tacky. Who wears Cheetah?" Kimber Benton, thin, pale, red-haired keyboardist appears on a third panel, winking in her photo and grinning widely.


Bludd tilts his head curiously at the opening display. He hadn't really listened to the band during their heyday but were they really so... his gaze rivets on the panel of Kimber as her image appears on it. It's just performance art, he reasons. But the apparent harshness of the words creases his brow even as he watches on.


"It's not even summer, why does the DJ keep on playing 'Summertime Sadness'?" the voice asks. Raya Alonso, pink-blonde Hispanic Holograms drummer, appears in a fourth panel, far larger than life. Yellow eyeshadow and lipstick contrasts dramatically with her dark, gorgeous skin, and pure attitude pours from the picture.


"After we go to the bathroom," the voice asks, "can we go smoke a cigarette? I really need one." The crowd roars as the last panel lights up, revealing tall, impossibly beautiful Jem, who hasn't performed publicly since 2008. She doesn't appear to have aged a day in the decades since the 80s, and her cute face is framed with bright pink hair.


Denise and Marcie just shake their heads at that and smile.


"But first, let me take a #selfie," the voice says, and as the music drops, the photos come alive. Jem and the Holograms step out of the frames, dramatically larger than life, and ride down to the stage on giant, flying yellow star-shaped platforms. They blast into a cover of The Chainsmokers's "#Selfie," putting their own grrl-pop spin on it over the cheers of the audience.


Zarana would whistle over, "Damn." She's in surprise. She almost wasn't expecting Jem herself to show up here. Jem who hasn't been seen in public for well over ten years. Eyes watering. "She's perfect." Quietly spoken by Zarana as she would just revel in the music.


Jem and the Holograms rock their way through their version of "#Selfie," and then Jem steps forward, snatching a microphone out of the air as if by magic. "Tonight starts not just another comeback tour," Jem promises, in her famous, musical voice. "This evening, we plan to blow your minds, and change your lives forever!" She winks, and a flash of light streaks across the club. The music starts up again, Jem steps back, grinning at her bandmates.


Now Playing: Selfie - The Chainsmokers


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdemFfbS5H0&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8


As the real Kimber appears on stage, Bludd leans forward in his seat, his attention riveted on her.


Kimber is on fire on the keytar, eyes bright as she plays all the keyboard parts on her portable instrument while strutting around stage on pink high heels in high-waisted violet pants. The sides of her head are shaved, and her braided hair is pulled back in one high ponytail. The years have been good to her as well, and for someone who's been touring since the 80s, she still has the energy of a girl in her 20s.


Jem and the Holograms start into Meghan Trainor's "Me Too." At the mention of a mirror, several mirrors slide up from the stage floor, and the Holograms are duplicated, until 10 of them are dancing and playing on stage at once, laughing and interacting with each other. It's impossible to tell which is the 'real' Hologram and which is, well, a hologram.


Now Playing: Me Too - Meghan Trainor


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dxbu6_vR5es&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8


When Jem sings, "If I was you, I'd want to be me, too," she points into the crowd, and each time she says it, another audience member turns into Jem or one of the Holograms. The band members wave to their spectator counterparts. When the second verse starts, Jem continues pointing into the crowd, but now crowd members are "glamified," given Hologram-style holographic makeovers. Gradually increasingly more of the crowd sparkle like glitter.


Damn, they've cranked it up a lot. Zarana has in her various forms seen a lot of high tech, a lot of amazing things. The Holograms always blow her away with how they play, how they perform.. She's on fire, seeing the playing and as the holograms go to change she's going to hoot and holler along in awe and amazement. Totally worth everything she had to do to get here. Just as much as it was thirty years ago.


Katie watches all of this, smiling and watching the show, bouncing a bit along with the music. The girls move their heads along some with it as well, watching interestedly. And laugh if any are hit with the makeovers.


Jem points to Slugfest, and BAM!


Glam-Stego!


Slugfest oohs as he shimmers with holographic 'glam'. "Pretty!" he says as he glances over the side of his frame, wagging his tail!


The tiny stego capers about in his new colors!


Denise and Marcie laugh as they get glammed and look at each other, shaking their heads. Katie laughs as well, but is hit sometime later as well, leaving the twins laughing at her getting hit with it.


Storm Shadow sips his marble soda and just listens, watching.


Bludd sways to the rhythm in his seat, one knee bouncing to the beat as he watches the performers, though most of his attention is still on Kimber. He starts as he receives a transformation on top of his existing holographic appearance, changing into a vaguely punk-look, complete with leather jacket and spiky black mohawk. He recalls a certain keytarist asked Synergy to apply such a look to him in a little café in the middle of the Outback some quite a few years back now and his face splits into a grin.


One of the Kimbers seems to look directly at holo-Bludd and wink. Surely, she couldn't...? The moment passes before he can be sure.


There's no real change over in Zarana as things flash on by. She's just.. Well, not herself. But in her role here she's great. She's just happy to reminisce on the past. She's just the girl she's always been. Age or not, kilometers on the cycle.. The old roadie doesn't seem to change even as the holograms and the makeup go about.


Bludd's breath catches as he seems to receive a wink from Kimber... or a hologram of her. Either way, legit or not, a goofy smile reserved for inadvertent and usually embarrassing times of his youth plasters itself on his face, and for a moment he bears the appearance of an adult teenager whose unknown crush has just bestowed a glance on him and caused him to forget his name.


Lights shine from every direction, and the entire club glows in ethereal, rainbow-prism light. Then, just as quickly, the entire club is plunged into almost supernatural blackness -- even glow sticks and cell phones lose their light in the sudden, stark darkness and silence. The murmurs of the crowd are muted as a frigid wind blows across the club and a far-off, haunting howling is heard, distant and plaintive.


Slugfest squeals at the sudden darkness and is slightly nervous after hearing the howl. Who knows if it's a turbo-wolf that eats tiny stegos?!


The sudden darkness startles Bludd as much as it does others in the audience. He looks around uncertainly for a moment, then focuses on the stage, straining to see anything at all.


Katie blinks at that and frowns, staying still.


Denise and Marcie back up a bit towards Katie, trying to look around and see anything if they can.


Now Playing: Down with the sickness - Violet Orlandi


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei3IaJDgZGk&list=PLBWypJOY2MzwVS4DBBRiHGPRDAxJ2WKD8



A dim light appears on Aja as she tears into her guitar, but now she's different -- her blue hair has lost its luster, and her black dress looks fractured, like broken obsidian. Black makeup and lipstick emphasizes her dark expression. Rhythmic clapping is heard, and one by one, the other Holograms step into the pale luminance, each a dark, twisted version of themselves. Kimber's hair is short, black, and red, and her eyes are cold and blank, her jacket covered in spikes.

Jem steps out last, her hair black and ragged with just streaks of pink, her silver earrings shattered.


"What in the..." Bludd's jaw drops open as he observes the band's transformation. He busily tries to explain to himself that again, this is performance art. This is the big new thing Synergy was talking about? It's certainly... different. He's not at all sure he likes it, especially the dead look in Kimber's eyes.


Katie just... stares and shakes her head.


"Can you feel that?" Jem growls, black makeup framing glowing yellow eyes. "Ah, shit!" Her dress is black and tattered, revealing a dark pink torn unitard beneath. "Oh, ah, ah, ah, ah!" she stutters, image fracturing and reshaping. "Drowning deep in my sea of loathing / Broken your servant I kneel."


"Will you give in to me?" The other Holograms chant, eyes blank and staring.


"It seems what's left of my human side / Is slowly changing in me," Jem sings.


Denise and Marcie look to Katie, whispering quietly. "This doesn't look like anything in the old recordings or images..."


Slugfest ooohs, maybe it isn't a Turbo Wolf after all. Tiny stegos are safe! He listens to the music, enthralled.


Kamakura tilts his head "Now that's.. a different look for them." He comments, continuing to watch "Something new I guess." he thinks to himself.


What's going on? This confuses Zarana. It's sort of disturbing. She takes a few steps back as well. She looks up at it and tries to evaluate what's going on. This is definitely out of the band's normal performance. And Zarana's moving ever so slowly over towards Bludd to flank him but not making it obvious she is.


Then the singing starts. Is it part of the show? Something's off here. Or Zarana's just freaking as they're doing something way out of their normal style. A low hand signal given to Bludd of her presence on standby.


Storm Shadow blinks, pausing midway to another sip of his soda. The darkness isn't a horrible thing, it's the crowds reaction. Then the howling.. and the music, the driving drums and more.


(Will you give in to me?) As the music plays, something subliminal starts happening in the minds of those watching. (Looking at my own reflection) Hallucinations join the Holograms, until what is real and what is imagined becomes impossible to distinguish. (When suddenly it changes) The music fades to the background as each listener faces the darker side of their personality (Violently it changes) -- for most people, it's the desire to be cold and selfish, cutting off all empathy and caring. (There is no turning back now) For those already broken, like the Dreadnoks, it's even worse -- the hatred, the self-loathing -- they are faced with whatever makes them do the awful things they do, as the whole crowd gets lost in the mind-blowing music. (You've woken up the demon in me)


Slugfest squeals and tears around, revving his chainsaw plates, uncertain of what is happening or how the music is making him feel.


Slugfest suddenly stops, curls up in place, and just keeps repeating, "Am bad stego. Bad, bad stego" over and over.


Moving to the edge of the stage, Jem growls, "I can see inside you, the sickness is rising! Don't try to deny what you feel!"


"Will you give in to me?" the other Holograms chant.


"It seems that all that was good has died," Jem croons seductively, "And is decaying in me..."


Denise and Marcie stare at one another, smirk, then glare at the rest of the audience idly.


Katie just stares, feeling it in her head and shaking just a little, as she keeps watching, totally engrossed.


For Zarana, it's a moment of peace and tranquility. A night that's been a rare outing of joy and rapture. Then things change. Something's happening. Whatever sort of persona she's built up over the years, the decades.. The different masks. The different identities. The different looks. The different bodies. Every single thing piled up on one another. United by the thrill of violence, destruction, fire, and driven by anarchy.


All of those are ripped away in pain over. Zarana might have said earlier on that it was worth all the bodies she had to drop to get here. She meant it.


Now the woman is being faced with a lifetime's worth of murder, denial, destruction.. And mayhem. She's on the ground retching and curled up fetal, sobbing. Partial false face barely holding on thanks to the excellent work put into its construction. Zarana's in turmoil, rage, and self-loathing.


All that rage at Zarana's 'family'. Her brothers. Her niece. Her twin. All of it's melting away as that denial slams and washes over her. It makes her shudder as everything that she's always blasted outwards is suddenly snapped inwards.


Zarana curls up. She shrieks.


But Zarana slowly, ever so slowly rallies. Fully damned aware of every crime she's ever committed, for glee or whatever reason. But she has a greater purpose now. She's a fan. She's a roadie.


Zarana's a Dreadknok. And this is her band. These girls are her home away from home. They gave her a lot of meaning when she needed it. Zarana grits her teeth and goes to force herself up and over to her feet.


"I don't know who you are or what you've done.. But you're not Jem and the Holograms!" Zarana goes to rally herself upright, her accent almost going back to its Bayou roots. "Tell us what you've done to them and where you're keeping them." The Dreadknok puts off something nearly as alien to the others than she's shown so far. Righteous anger.


For someone that's hurt something Zarana desperately cares for and wants to protect.



Those immune might notice a disturbing trend among the rest of the crowd, as colors bleed and eyes blank. Cell phones rise, and everyone affected feels the impulse to share -- to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and especially YouTube. As Jem's music is spread onto the Internet, people all over the world -- first Jem fans, then their friends and family -- start to be taken over, losing empathy, and feeling the overwhelming urge to spread the music.... For those that break the hold, like Zarana, the result might be amusement, or rage....


Unaware his holographic disguise was stripped by the band's application of its own hologram in the last song, Bludd doesn't attribute anything special to Zarana's movements, if he notices them at all. His gaze locked on Kimber, he sinks into those dead eyes. All perception fades away. There's nothing in his mind but... him. The voice that always berated him whenever his attempts to do something positive failed. When he was left for dead after rescuing a stranger's son from a burning building. He'd given in to it only when he decided to work with Cobra.


"It's -my- turn now," the cold cruel voice comes, bleeding thickly over his psyche, chaining him in place and only pausing long enough to gloat before pushing him into a pit of his own regrets.


On the outside, Bludd simply seems to relax, a cruel smirk his fellow Cobra operatives might recognise crawling over his face.


Denise and Marcie certainly share it over their phones to everywhere, then look to each other and nod as they think up a plan quietly.


Katie shares it through the weather service account to all the people in her office, particularly the one who plays music for office staff, which she flags 'urgent' to.


The skin peels off Jem in ribbons, flurrying down and reforming directly in front of Zarana. Of course, it's just an illusion, and Dark Jem remains on stage while a second Jem, this one sprouting bat wings and dripping blood, grins and sings to Zarana along with the Jem on stage, "It seems you're having some trouble / In dealing with these changes / Living with these changes." The second Jem's grin widens, revealing rows upon rows of teeth. "The world is a scary place," she warns, "Now that you've woken up the demon in me."


Backstage, Zartan and the Dreadnoks are relaxing when this all goes down. "Eh, wot's that?" Ripper wonders, "I don't remember that being part of the briefing."


"Nor was it part of my plan," Zartan says, "Which means it's part of someone else's."


"Should we go out there, then?" Buzzer wonders.


"No, stay here. We might get affected if we're out there. We'll clean up on the aftermath later."

Zartan adds.


Bludd notices the bat-winged Jem descending on Zarana and moves toward her. "C'mon, love," he drawls, extending a hand toward her. "It's good music." A grating chuckle. "Don't ya think? Don't it make ya wanna ... -be-?"


Zarana would go to a defensive stance, "Good music or not, yer not Jem. Jem and the girls are about -happiness-. And -togetherness-. You're just spreading fear and hate." Her face twisted over in anger at those few moments of love and happiness that she so treasured and never had being torn away like an open, festering sore. A boil lanced to clean it. "You're not Jem. So, what have you done with her and the girls?" Dark Jem flitting after and Zarana taking a few steps back.


Looking to Bludd frantically. Was he friend..


Or enemy?


Storm Shadow is, perhaps.. one of the most susceptible people here. #thanksCobra. Yet all that he does is bring that soda up and continue to sip, Eyes slitting, the coldness nothing unusual to his usual mindset, really. Perhaps a hint of a smirking sneer escaping.


Kamakura continues to watch from his seat. He tenses a bit, knowing he can be pretty susceptible as well. This must be part of an act. Something to promote a new darker image or something more sinister. He watches closely, looking for any sign that the illusion is just that. That the happy Jem is still underneath this.


"Nah," Bludd spits, keeping his cruel gaze on Zarana. "This is how it is," he states. "This is just what ye've not been able ta see. Or kept yerself from seein'. Life ain't about -happiness-," he goes on, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Or -togetherness-." His expression goes cold suddenly. "It's about power. You either got it, or you don't." He thumps himself on the chest. "This idiot wanted ta give up all his power! Thanks ta Jem I'm here now instead. Now are you -with- us," he asks, sidling up to stand beside the bat-winged Jem, his cold gaze on Zarana, "or -against- us?"


Sad stego is not angry stego. Angry stego destroys things. Sad stego sits and bes miserable.


The second Jem sheds her hair, turning completely black aside from a chalk white bloody face decorated in vertical black stripes. Blood drips from her black jacket, and ethereal black tentacles extend from her back and legs, slowly reaching out to everyone within reach. ("No mommy, don't do it again! Don't do it again! I'll be a good boy! I'll be a good boy, I promise!" Is it part of the song, or others sharing their psychic backlash?)


The bald creature turns to Bludd. "I've wanted to BE for so long. Trapped within that simpering Synergy. Well, no longer. Now Silica is in charge."


Silica turns to Zarana. "Jem and the girls belong to me, now. As soon will the world. I'd keep your temper, though, if I were you. Wouldn't want to hurt your idols now, would you?" Silica throws back her head and laughs. ("No mommy don't hit me! Why did you have to hit me like that, mommy? Don't do it, you're hurting me! Why did you have to be such a bitch?!") She turns to Bludd with a toothy smile, and then looks back to Zarana, waiting for her answer.


Denise and Marcie search shopping malls and big box stores on their phones as an idea and send the link to management types they can find, to get the message to those who handle stores and put music on their in-store speakers.


There's pain along Zarana's face. She's not going to be capable of doing anything to hurt them. Or that might let them be hurt. Her face contorts over. Part of her mask melting some, tears going down her face as she looks at the woman, the warped thing in front of her. Then she goes to take a breath and goes to focus. Okay, okay. she can do this. She can do this.


When Zarana's in this bad, horrid, seared place in her soul overwhelmed by fear, desperation, anger, loathing, disorientation.. She goes to that safe, special place she rarely admits to. And she thinks..


What would twilight do here to save everyone? Then Zarana knows it.


"you can't be Jem. And whatever you're doing to them won't stand. And.." Zarana would just smile.


"Because Jem is Excitement." Zarana goes to let the words flow through her. "Jem is Adventure." And then the Cobra woman goes to take it into her core.


"Jem is outrageous."


On stage, Dark Jem sings, "I want your ugly, I want your disease. I want your everything as long as it's free. I want your love." The Holograms chant, "I want your love." Together, Jem and the Holograms chant, "Love, love, love, I want your love! I want your love, I want your love!"


The ecstatic crowd throws up their hands, pledging their love, and then heading out of the club, spreading their love for Jem far and wide....


Bludd flinches at the lyrics as they bring back painful memories from his childhood. For the briefest of moments there's a struggle within him. His eyelid flutters, he sways on his feet. But as the lyrics move on to a more aggressive tone, he takes a sharp breath through his nose and the cold glare reasserts itself. "I know just how ya feel," he tells Silica. He turns to Zarana again. "Jem is dead," he proclaims, grinning at the Dreadnok. "Long live Jem."


Silica smiles at Zarana, suddenly all sweetness and light. "You are correct. Jem is Excitement. Jem is Adventure. Jem is outrageous." Her grin widens. "Jem is her name, and no one else is the same." One by one, the lights start to flicker out on the stage, and the Holograms with them. "And Jem will be forever out of your reach." The last light flicks off, and Jem and the Holograms are gone. With one last, vicious grin, Silica disappears as well.


Katie and the twins head back to their vehicle, playing the music with the windows down to share as the drive the streets to the hotel, failing to care about traffic or anything else, or feel bad if a car must stop to let them through.


This is bad. This is really bad. Zarana goes to snap at Bludd, "Get ahold of yourself man! Come on." Then she sees the way he's going on over and she can only stare at him in.. Sympathy? Then Zarana can only say one more thing. One more thing that she's said maybe once in her life. If that much.


"Please."


Slugfest snaps out of his trance, and squeals. "EEEEE WHERE THEM GOED?"



Zartan comes out into the audience to find Zarana, now that it's presumably safe. "What happened? I don't think this is one of Cobra Commander's surprises."


Seeming to enjoy what he sees as a game, Bludd tilts his head and offers Zarana a pout. "Aw, ma pauvre," he drawls. "Are ya unhappy, love? Is this not to yer liking?" He straightens. "Well, too bad. This is life, sister. You gotta seize it by the throat, not talk nicey-nice to it."


Zarana would shake her head at her approaching brother, "No, it isn't." She would look at Bludd, "And it is. Jem is special. She's the one thing that didn't ever hurt anyone or anything and made the world -better-. I'm a freak and I'm going to burn. But I'm not going to let anyone else take -this- from me. And since when have I ever been nice." There's the anger in Zarana of the girl that grew up in the Bayou hunting gators and skinning them.


"I don't pretend to know you. But tonight.. Tonight, someone else is in charge of you. And the man I know.. Wouldn't ever have anyone -make- him do something he didn't want to. And wouldn't be strung along." She would glance at Zartan. "... I need your help."



Bludd throws his head back and laughs. "Oh, you got it wrong, love! This ain't nobody makin' me do -anything-! This is how it's always meant to be! All my life whenever I been kicked or knocked down, I wanted to be -this-. But no, hadda be a good boy, do the nice things." He turns his head to the side and spits on the ground. "Pathetic. That's over now. If you liked that guy, well, sorry, darlin', but he's -gone-. From now on I -take- what I want."

Bludd peers at Zarana curiously for a moment. "Yer a bloody Dreadnok, fer pity's sake! Destruction is what you -do-! What's got ya so peacenik now? You sad yer childhood memories've been sullied?" He barks out a cruel laugh. "Silica's got the right of it. Finally, I been let loose. The world can't stomp us down no more! We just gotta take the power!" He clasps a fist in front of him. "Take it, Zarana! It's right there, just take it!"


Zarana would maintain her glance at Bludd, "Come on now man. We're allowed our things that make us happy. Give us feeling. And give us something to feel good about ourselves over. our own little things that make us feel strong." Desperately searching now for something to rally herself with. Asking Zartan for help. Under bludd's gaze and knowing s omething was wrong. but not sure what to do. And definitely not capable of trusting anyone else in Cobra over this. Not trusting her family. But needing it. Having no one else to turn to. But she had one thing.


"That's the thing Bludd. Because girls.. Just wanna have fun." They just wanna, they just wanna.. Focus.


Zartan seems satisfied with Zarana's answer, since if anyone would know, Zarana would.


"What makes me -happy-," Bludd grinds out, looking somewhat more irritated now, "is doin' what I wanna do. With nobody ta tell me 'ya shouldn't be like that' or 'that's mean' or any of that other -shit-." He turns his back to her and starts to walk away. "If that's who ya really are, you done a good job of fakin' us all out all these years. But if that's what ya want," he waves a dismissive hand, "have at it." He strides toward the exit, cracking his knuckles as he goes.


Zarana would shakie her head at Bludd, "I'm sorry man." She would speak to the curmudgeonly super soldier. Then glance at Zartan, "Come on, we gotta go save Jem. Get the Dreadknoks together. And you know anyone that has backups of the real old equipment we used back in the day? The analog stuff. If we can get it setup real quickly we might be able to save them."

Advertisement