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LSS: The Lifecycle of a Heist



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Sun May 08, 2022 1:48 pm
winterwolf0100 says...



\/Dwyn Souza\/


Dwyn walked calmly out of the building despite the buzzing of adrenaline through her body. She could feel the weight of the tablet settled snugly against her back under her shirt. She had what was almost like a harness specifically for this, and while the other two had been distracted, she'd made sure the dimensions were right and tucked it in. It was almost like the computer sleeve in a backpack, making sure the tablet was supported while out of sight. She wasn't sure if an ancient relic should really be touching bare skin-- she knew that damaged some things like paintings-- but they hadn't specified that they didn't want it touched, so she hadn't bothered brainstorming another way to get it out.

She'd also taken the time while the other two were distracted with the hallway conversation to look around the room they'd snuck into and steal a few other things. They were all small, and likely not worth nearly as much, but combined with the things she'd taken from a couple other rooms on their way out, she was feeling pretty good. She didn't really know why she'd stolen them, but her excitement spiked knowing she'd been able to without getting caught, even by her own teammates-- if she could even call them that.

She could've easily done this on her own, and it had been a far easier steal than most of the things she had done in the past, which made it all the more intriguing that the people who had hired them had hired all of them. Willingly. Luna had opened locks Dwyn had already gotten keycards to, and Conrad had pushed open the vault door. Dwyn could've gotten the code to the safe too, if she'd wanted it. She could've done all of this on her own-- well, mostly on her own. Derek would be tried as an accomplice if something ever went to court, but Derek was the middle man for dozens upon dozens of people, so that didn't really count.

Still... Dwyn looked at the barely concealed excitement and thrill on Conrad and Luna's faces, and knew that she could've done it on her own, but it would've been way less entertaining. Like the moment when, after walking out separately, they'd all finally rounded the corner and met in a back alley-- the look on their faces as Dwyn pulled out five different items from the museum, none of which were the tablet? Dwyn could never have gotten that level of entertainment on her own. Conrad just seemed to blink a few times, like his mind was trying to process what he was watching as Dwyn pulled out a shard of a clay pot, a thin shred of old paper in a ziplock bag, a piece of metal that must've once belonged to some form of armor, an old small statue of some ancient god, and some type of old pencil, all from different pockets, and began to place them into her purse one by one.

"What-- How--" Luna stammered, "when did you-- " She couldn't seem to hold onto one question in her head long enough to nail it into words. Conrad just kept blinking. It was like Dwyn could hear the gears trying to turn in both of their heads.

"We were with you the whole time, when did you..." Conrad drifted off, his mouth hanging open as he frowned in confusion.

"For people being paid millions of dollars to pay attention, you're surprisingly bad at it!" Dwyn exclaimed happily. "Don't worry, you'll learn with more experience."

"But why did you--" Luna fumbled for her words, seeming to lose them again.

Dwyn rolled her eyes good-naturedly. "Sometimes I forget you two are new at this. Wait, no I don't." She paused, then explained, as if it were obvious, "stealing extra things makes it harder for them to tell what you actually came there to steal. It can throw them off their tracks for a while and make it harder to hunt you down."

"Oh," Luna said meekly, like she was embarrassed she hadn't thought of that already. "That makes sense."

"It does, doesn't it?" Dwyn agreed. She really was good at making up complete lies and selling them as the truth. Maybe she should run for office. "Would you vote for me if I ran for mayor?" she pondered aloud, and Conrad, who seemed like he was still so confused on how she had managed to steal so many things without them seeing it, said in a daze, "Probably".

Dwyn nodded. "Good to know." She left the dialogue at that, which seemed to throw the other two off even more as she sorted through everything she had. "Alright, we're going to meet up at midnight at a twenty-four hour diner. I'll send you two the address. You're going to take the purse," Dwyn said, handing it over to Luna before reaching in and grabbing a few things, "and you're going to take these." She handed two of the stolen items to Conrad. "If one of us goes down, the other two will ditch the phones and we'll never see each other for the rest of our lives. Deal?"

Conrad and Luna both seemed uncomfortable with that idea, but Dwyn didn't give them time to answer. "Good! Then it's settled. Just one more thing." She reached into the purse and pulled out her two flip phones and slipped them into her own pockets, then nodded. "I'll keep the item until we meet up at the diner. When we've contacted Philly-boy, we'll swap who has what items. Everybody's sleeping in hotels tonight, got it? No going back near where you live for the next twenty-four hours until we're sure we weren't caught on any security cameras."

"What?!" Conrad yelped. "But my hockey gear rack is at home. I have to hang everything up or it gets stinky."

"Oh, don't whine, you've got two million in your bank account, I'm sure you can come up with something," she said cheerfully. "Oh, and no sleeping over at a friend's house either. You'd be surprised how easily they can track you down that way. Oh wait." Dwyn looked at Luna. "How old are you, middle schooler? Can you drink?"

"Umm..." Luna shifted uncomfortably on her feet. "I am physically able to drink."

"So no," Dwyn interpretted, sighing. "Fine. It's not ideal, but we'll get a hotel room together then. You have to be twenty one and up to rent a hotel room in Chicago on your own. That means Radical here is gonna be getting more goodies to hide away in his room so they're split evenly between us."

Conrad scratched at the back of his neck awkwardly but said, "alright."

"Great," Dwyn said, "then I'll text you two the address and we'll meet up. Everybody take different routes to get there, alright?"

The two nodded, and Dwyn nodded back. "Glad that's settled. See you at midnight!" She started to walk to the exit of the alley, then paused and said, "oh, and wait a bit between each person before leaving the alley. It's going to look really suspicious if we all walk out of here at once." And then she left.
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


~~~GENDERFLUID, ASEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC~~~

Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)
  





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Sun May 15, 2022 5:01 am
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HarryHardy says...



\/Luna Lee Taylor\/


Luna nodded in agreement before she could think too long about it. This was all coming together to end up being something half out of a nightmare but Luna as usual was having a lot of trouble trying to come up with any sort of reason why Dwyn could be wrong. Her suggestions all seemed to very much be spot on and so despite the fact that having to stay with her for the night was mildly terrifying, perhaps even more so terrifying than having to go someplace all on her own at midnight, she'd agreed to all of that without even stopping for a second thought.

Once Dwyn was out of sight, Conrad exchanged a look with her. Luna smiled at him, nodding for him to go ahead before her. He looked like he wanted to say something but probably decided against it and started walking, heading towards the same exit that Dwyn had taken. Luna watched him for a minute, holding her thoughts at bay until she could start walking out and towards someplace to spend the next couple of hours at. She'd though the excitement was going to die down a bit after the whole heist part of their plan was over but the way things were unfolding, it looked like maybe this part was going to end up being the most terrifying especially given they now had a whole bunch of items they'd stolen on them at the moment. Given the way Dwyn had been so confident in her move, Luna didn't doubt that those other items wouldn't get them into trouble and were probably part of this whole game too, but that didn't stop her from being more terrified by having to protect so many more things than Luna had initially planned.

After a few minutes, Luna could no longer make out Conrad in front of her. Taking a deep breath, she began to move, trying to quickly think up a place on the spot. There had to be something she could do that wasn't going to be suspicious for a few hours. Not being able to go back to the hotel was going to completely demolish her list of places to spend time in which admittedly had only contained said hotel and so she was going to have to think of something on the spot.

As she made it out to the alley, she caught a glimpse of the road that would lead them back to the museum. It felt incredibly weird thinking about this heist in the past tense given the amount of craziness that had been building up to it. Even more crazy was how smoothly the whole thing had gone down. They had basically just walked in, taken what they wanted and then walked right out. Luna was pretty sure that if the Richard Dedd who'd actually owned the piece had wanted to come in, be escorted to the artefact and take it home, it would have probably taken him longer to get access to it and then be shown out.

She thought back to the tiny hiccup they had in fact had. Something about the conversation there seemed like it should've made her suspicious somehow, but she couldn't bring herself to think about that at the moment, not when she realized with a start that she had nearly walked straight into a lamppost lost in her thoughts. She was going to have to figure out someplace to go and quick.

Rerouting her brain momentarily to shift away from unpacking the heist, her thoughts immediately shifted towards the library until she remember what time it was. It was almost guaranteed that it would probably be closed by now and even if it was in fact open, there was no way it was going to let her stay as long as she needed to if she was only going to make it to that restaurant by midnight. As she tried to think of something else, she kept coming up blank. Having to kill time by herself wasn't a new concept to Luna, she did that every single day if she was being honest, but having to do it out in the real world and not in her Minecraft world was proving to be so much harder than she'd initially anticipated. And her initial anticipation hadn't exactly been positive.

After a few more seconds of thinking, Luna decided that maybe she could look for some sort of 24 hour store. Those didn't seem like they would be too terribly suspicious and it was better than any other idea she could come up with on short notice. Maybe if she found something big enough with a bookstore or something attached to it she could actually find something to kill time easier than having to do laps around a random aisle.

With that thought idea in mind, Luna spent a second thinking about how she was going to find such a store before she remembered that phones were a thing and she could google this in about two minutes. Five minutes later, Luna had a direction to be heading in. Steeling herself for the next few hours to come, she began making her way towards the store.

The journey to the store was surprisingly fast and she got there a bit earlier than she was expecting to, despite walking slower on purpose. Glancing at her watch, she did a quick search on her phone to try and figure out how long it would take for her to reach the address that Dwyn had sent her not long after she'd started walking towards the store. She would have preferred scouting out the location of the place herself and getting an estimate of the time involved, but for one it was pretty dark outside and she didn't want to walk around alone more than she had to and two it was probably not a good idea to be seen at the restaurant more than once that day when she turned up at what would already be a pretty questionable time later that day.

With those reasons echoing in mind, Luna did her best to do some mental maths based on the time it had taken for her to reach her. Knowing that any sort of foot traffic was going to be decreased that late in the night and the fact that she'd be going there as fast as she possibly could without resorting to running, she concluded that it would take maybe twenty minutes for her to make it to the restaurant. That meant she had roughly two is hours to kill, given she was going to try and leave a few minutes early. If she felt like she was going to end up at the restaurant a bit too early, she could always figure something out. She had no idea what she could figure out, but she tried not to think on that point too far before she second guessed herself too much.

After she'd wandered through half the store, looking blankly out into space calculation all of this in her head, Luna brought herself semi back to reality and tried to blend in a bit more with the shoppers all around the store. She was going to have to get her act together now and maybe find a book like she had hoped earlier when searching up this store.

She walked around carefully, looking for any sign of any book. At this point she would read a book about gardening if it meant she could distract herself for a couple of hours. With that thought in mind, she began to scan the shelves a bit more carefully. For a second she wondered if she was being suspicious by looking for something then realized than in a store that was probably the perfect cover for wasting two hours inside and decided she might as well go all in.

It took a bit of searching that Luna happily noted ate up almost forty five minutes, but she did manage to find a nearly forgotten looking aisle of the store lined with a few random books. She didn't recognize most of the titles there, but she didn't mind, inspecting all of them to see which one sounded the most palatable was going to eat up quite a lot of time and that was exactly what she needed right now. With that happy thought, and the natural excitement that drummed up inside her at the prospect of books, she dived in, happy that she'd managed to somewhat pull this off after all.

It took her exactly forty five minutes to finish inspecting every single book there and decide that pretty much everything there was going to have too much angst for her to stomach at the moment. The only bit of good news from that deep dive was that Luna only had about half an hour left to kill. If she could maybe waste fifteen minutes on reading a couple of random pages of at least one of the books here, she could spend the next fifteen finding her way out of this massive store and then on to that restaurant she needed to be heading towards.

After skimming through the first page of ten different novels, Luna finally decided she'd spent enough time here that it was time to start heading back. Head swimming with the twenty characters she'd just been introduced to, she managed to find her way out of the store she was in and onto the street. At this hour, things looked so much more terrifying than they had earlier on. Despite that Luna, opened her phone, glancing once more at the route she had all but memorized earlier when trying to figure out timings. Putting the phone back in, she took a deep breath, heading out into the night and towards the diner.

Trying not to jump at every single shadow she noticed or every person she walked past, Luna maintained a pretty brisk pace, the route in her mind the only thing in her mind as she ignored every other red flag her brain was trying to show into her mind. She could not afford to have a mini panic attack of any sort just trying to reach this place. Luckily for her sanity, she managed to avoid any sort of panic and before she knew it, she was within sight of the diner that the address was supposed to be leading her to. There was no way for Luna to confirm the place given Dwyn hadn't described it or anything, but it was a 24 hour diner and Luna was going to get inside and think about any other move she was going to have to make later.

With that firmly in mind, Luna stepped into the diner with about five minutes left to midnight.
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

Words are powerful. Don't waste them like I just have.

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Sun May 15, 2022 1:03 pm
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Ventomology says...



\/ Conrad Selingren \/


Conrad was surprised Dwyn knew about this diner. It was technically one of the hockey team's haunts, though they had branched out since the early days of American-Junk-Food-only and didn't come around much these days. But still, the fry cook at the open kitchen window said hello when Conrad pushed the door open, and the tired waitress at the front looked vaguely familiar.

Well. If anyone asked why he was here without his team, he could use the same excuse he'd been using all day.

He stalked past the window seats to a booth way in the back of the restaurant and tried not to touch the grimy underside of the table as he slid in across from Dwyn. There was probably gum older than Conrad down there. And Conrad was no spring chicken now.

Luna joined them a few minutes later, after the waitress had delivered Dwyn's plate of large fries, which Dwyn immediately drizzled with ketchup. Conrad ordered a strawberry shake to be polite - he tried not to eat after games these days. His gut couldn't handle late-night oils like it used to. But still, he couldn't just swing by a restaurant where people knew him and not buy anything.

"If you're getting anything, you should order it now," Dwyn told Luna, as she slowly chowed down on a fry. Conrad could hear the crunch, and his mouth watered. He was such a weak man.

"Oh, yeah. Um. Let me just... go do that."

Conrad's shake arrived a minute later with Luna's plate of scrambled eggs, and then it was business time. Somehow, even though the diner had the same plastic booths and worn chrome finishes as it always had, the place felt different when Dwyn leaned across the table. The lights seemed dimmer, and the music faded into a strange, warbling background noise, out of time and melody.

"Well," Dwyn said. "Guess we'd better call Fields." She pulled out the burner their Red Shirt friend had given the group and punched a few buttons.

Conrad felt something hit his leg under the table as the dial tone rang out between them.

"Hello? Red speaking."

Dwyn rolled her eyes at Luna and spoke into the microphone. Her voice came out high and cheery and so fake even Conrad could tell. "Hi! We were hoping you could have a taxi ready at the Radisson Blu Aqua tomorrow?"

Conrad scrunched his nose. Were the girls really going to stay there? In that monstrosity of a building?

"Really, Dwyn?" Red replied. "Is this necessary?"

"We're in a diner," Conrad said, like that would explain the obfuscation.

"The scrambled eggs are really good," Luna added.

This time, when something hit Conrad's leg under the table, it was Dwyn's shoe. She sent him a look like he needed to shut up and pressed the phone closer to her own face. "Oh, yes," she said, continuing a conversation that had never happened, "it's been a lot of fun. But we're ready to leave. We've seen what we came to see."

"Ah, yes. I understand." There was a rustling on the other end of the line before Red spoke again. "The Aqua, correct? I'll be there at eleven."

Eleven? That was the worst time. Conrad was going to have to make even more excuses for a long lunch. Why couldn't they just do an early breakfast in Chinatown or something? There was supposed to be some really good street food there. He tried desperately to convey this to Dwyn, holding up his briefcase and gesturing at his watch. She kicked the bag under the table closer to him. Luna looked between them like she was observing a pair of aliens.

"Is that really the earliest you can have someone come by?" Dwyn asked. "Our flight from O'Hare is at eight."

There was a pause. A long one. "How did you- wait. Let me check the flight details."

Luna's eyes widened. She sent Dwyn and Conrad a panicked look and mouthed "the what now?" Dwyn frowned at her fries, hiding her confusion just a little better.

"No, no." Red's voice came back over the line. "I have it here you'll be departing from O'Hare at three in the afternoon. I suppose one could mistake that for an eight."

Brows furrowed, Dwyn squinted at the phone. So she was as in-the-dark as Conrad was. Slowly, he reached under the table for the bag and slipped it into his briefcase. This felt like as good a moment as any.

"Yeah," Dwyn said eventually. "Yeah. I must have read it wrong. O'Hare at three pm. To..."

"To San Franciso, of course. Where else would you meet your client?"

"SFO is literally the worst though," Conrad said, unable to think of anything else. He couldn't tell if meeting the client in person was a good thing or bad thing. It was like when he met with his boss - sometimes he got cool side gigs. Sometimes he had to stay late to fix a mistake or apologize for one of his underlings.

Red sighed, long and hard, and the breath turned to a static burst over the phone. "It's only bad for connecting flights. Just be ready to leave at eleven. I'll bring a car around to fetch you all."

Well. There went Conrad's one-night hotel stay. He'd have to swing by his apartment now to get clothes and leave his car somewhere safe. Hopefully Dwyn wouldn't find him out.

Ah, no. The second he made eye contact, Dwyn narrowed her eyes and made an 'I'm watching you' sign. He took a dejected sip of his milkshake and tried not to think about how much parking was going to cost him. Maybe if he picked a hotel near his office he could use the company floor of the parking garage. He could call one of his teammates to take the car later.

But he'd still need clothes.

"Yes, sounds good," Dwyn said as she hung up. As soon as the phone was in her pocket she jabbed a finger in Conrad's direction. "Don't even think about it. We can buy new clothes in San Francisco."

Slumping over, Conrad raised his hands in surrender. "Yes, ma'am." Then he looked at the girls. "You're not really staying at the Aqua, are you? It's so expensive. And so ugly."

Dwyn threw up her hands in frustration. "Oh my god."
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Sun May 15, 2022 1:23 pm
winterwolf0100 says...



\/Dwyn Souza\/


So apparently, they actually had a flight, which Dwyn had not been anticipating. Obviously she'd been speaking in code when she referenced a flight, and Red Shirt just didn't realize it. Or maybe he did, and he decided to act dumb anyway. Either way, practically every word she'd said to him had been a lie and she was feeling pretty good with herself because now he thought she had somehow accessed all his secure data and figured out they had a flight on her own.

The one thing she didn't feel great about right now was the fact that both her teammates had the same amount of perception as Red Shirt did when it came to these situations, and at the moment, that was zero. The fact that Conrad had actually believed they were staying at the Aqua was somehow both disheartening and lessened her faith in the future of sarcasm within humanity. It seemed to be dying out tragically, if Conrad was any representation. As for Luna, she'd just sat by for the whole conversation with increasingly large eyes until she'd looked like a cartoon owl with its head about to explode, which was not a comforting image or thought, though it was slightly amusing. If Dwyn didn't have better things to do tonight, she'd have spent the entire time teaching them what code talk was and trying not to fall asleep doing it.

As it was, it looked like she was going to spend her night finishing her fries-- amazing-- and watching Luna-- slightly less amazing. And now she had to deal with Conrad, who, for all his strength, seemed like he could not break through his confusion. And Luna. She had to deal with her too, though Luna's stunned silence seemed like it could be dealt with slightly more easily than Conrad's. The minute she'd seen that look cross his face, she'd known-- she'd known-- he was going to try to go to his apartment, which was exactly the one thing she told him not to do.

"Don't even think about it," she warned. "We can buy new clothes in San Francisco." She crunched on a fry with a vaguely threatening air as she stared at him until he slumped down in refeat and raised his hands in a placating gesture.

"Yes, ma'am," he muttered, then glanced back up at them, looking as if he were slightly queasy. "You're not really staying at the Aqua, are you? It's so expensive. And so ugly."

Dwyn couldn't help the small exclamation of exasperation as she threw her hands up. "Oh my god."

"What?" He asked, a mix of nervousness and defensiveness. "I'm just saying--"

"A pile of bricks," Dwyn murmured to herself as Luna's eyes went back and forth between both of them, unblinking. "I'm working with a pile of bricks."

Conrad turned pink. "I'm not--"

"You're a leaky boat," Dwyn whispered, "I try to patch all the cracks and the water just keeps. Slipping. In."

Luna tapped her fingers on the table nervously. "Umm, I don't--"

"When I say something," Dwyn said suddenly, looking up at both of them, "and I am on the phone, then I am never telling the truth. I am speaking in code. In. Code. Do you know what that's code for?"

Both of the other two were so startled that they didn't say anything. Finally, Conrad said weakly, "Is it code for... speaking in code?"

"Yes, yes it is," Dwyn said.

"But that's not code," Luna said timidly, frowning in confusion.

"I know," Dwyn reassured her. "Because if I spoke in code, you two would think I was going on a cruise to buy myself an umbrella and you'd ask when the boat was departing."

That time, they seemed to get the message. Both were so embarrassed that their cheeks flamed red. Dwyn knew she wasn't keeping up a friendly front as much as she usually would, but she was tired and had a lot to do, and she couldn't spend all of her valuable time babysitting the two of them. She took in a deep breath, closed her eyes for a second, then let it out and opened them again. "Now," she said slowly, "tomorrow, we are going to meet there. We will meet at ten thirty. This entire conversation will not have happened because I am too hyped up on my own adrenaline to be taken seriously right now. Conrad, your homework tonight is to come up with at least three different metaphors you could use to speak in code, and use them tomorrow. Luna, your homework is to not drive me insane. Got it?"

"Yeah, sure," Luna whispered. Conrad still seemed in shock that Dwyn had come as close as she did to blowing up at him, but he nodded slightly.

"I am not mad," Dwyn continued, pulling herself together into a more calm facade, "but while we are doing this together, we have got to get more on the same level. Which means you two being able to understand what I am saying." She gave a small, friendly smile, forcing it as she tried to lighten the atmosphere again slightly. "I know that some sports teams use things like sign language to tell their team what they're doing while keeping it a secret from the other team. Right now--" she emphasized the two words, stressing that it would not be permanent-- "we are a team. And trust me, the grass is definitely greener on the other side of this."

Everybody was silent for a moment, then Conrad said, "A lot of money. That's what you mean, right?"

Dwyn actually smiled slightly at that. Maybe she could make this work. "Yes, Radical-- that's what I mean."
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


~~~GENDERFLUID, ASEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC~~~

Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)
  





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Sun May 15, 2022 1:45 pm
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HarryHardy says...



Image
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

Words are powerful. Don't waste them like I just have.

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Tue May 17, 2022 9:32 pm
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winterwolf0100 says...



\/Dwyn Souza\/


After Dwyn blew up at the two of them about never understanding what she was actually saying, everybody finished their food in silence. The only noise was the noise of them eating and the buzzing of the diner lights trying their hardest to stay on. Conrad and Luna kept shooting each other a few looks, but neither said anything, either too nervous to in front of Dwyn or too embarrassed after her outburst. Luna finished her food and Conrad finished his shake. It wasn't until 12:45 that Dwyn finished her fries, and stood abruptly. "Alright, we'll see you in the morning."

Luna stood up clumpsily after her, already looking really worn out, confused, and overwhelmed. Conrad stayed sitting down, silent, which struck Dwyn as odd because he usually talked a lot. Or maybe he just talked a lot in comparison to Luna, who did not talk a lot. Dwyn got the feeling she might've actually embarrassed him somehow with her comments, and she couldn't say that she exactly felt bad about it, but it didn't bring her joy either, and she narrowed her eyes as she watched him and struggled with her own thoughts. She just couldn't keep trying to talk in code for both of them to blurt out what she actually meant for everyone to hear! It hadn't been about proving she was better or more experienced than them (she was), it had been about their genuine safety. At this rate, it might be easier to just teach them both Portuguese.

"Yeah, I'll see you then," Conrad said quietly, and Dwyn watched his foot pat absent-mindedly along the side of the bag she had slid to him across the table, as if double-checking that it was still there. Dwyn pushed aside all her thoughts about his out-of-character behavior and turned to Luna, forcing herself to smile and say cheerfuly, "Let's go!" Luna nodded, her eyes flicking back to Conrad, then followed Dwyn outside and onto the sidewalk.

"Wandering around in Chicago after midnight is not something I would usually recommend," Dwyn said nonchalantly as they started walking down the street, "but in our case, we're going to need to find two separate hotels, so we're going to have to walk a little."

"Two?" Luna asked. "I thought we were staying together." She tugged at the end of her shirt nervously.

"Oh, we are," Dwyn reassured, though she wasn't exactly sure why she was reassuring her. "The extra room isn't for us."

Luna frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Let's talk about that once we find the hotels, alright?" Dwyn said, turning a corner and continuing to walk to a more well-lit area. Dwyn wasn't exactly scared, but she was a woman, and she wasn't overly keen of hugging the shadows this late at night in a city like Chicago.

"What about our clothes?" Luna asked. "I don't have any, or anything to pack anything in. Not with me." Her hands fluttered over her clothes again.

Dwyn laughed. "Do you know a clothing store open this late?"

Luna blushed. "I kind of thought you would?"

"Oh, I do, but they're not exactly the type of places for a middle schooler to hang out at one in the morning."

Luna opened her mouth, then closed it. "I'm not--" She stopped and closed her mouth again, sighing. Luna fell silent as they continued to walk, Dwyn's eyes sticking towards the shadows. "Oh," Luna said suddenly, "what about that hotel?"

She pointed to a generic brand-name hotel, the bright lights in the lobby hurting Dwyn's eyes in contrast to the dim streetlights. Through the windows, Dwyn could vaguely make out the dreary-looking employee and an empty lounge area. One of the couches had flickers of light across it like it was near a tv, but she couldn't see the tv itself through the windows. Dwyn shrugged. "As good a place as any," She said, crossing the street as Luna followed behind her. The doors opened automatically as Dwyn walked into the lobby of the hotel and up to the front desk.

"What rooms do you have available?"

The employee had to blink a few times before coming out of her comatose state, then looked at Dwyn before looking at the computer and slowly typing a few things in. Her hair hung tangled in her face and her bangs were nearly completely covering her eyes-- Dwyn wasn't completely sure how she was able to see the computer screen in front of her, much less type.

"Uh..." her voice was gruff from very clearly sleeping on her shift. "We have a few Queens beds, a Kings suite. No doubles, but the Queen rooms have couches." She rubbed her eyes before resting her chin on her hand and blinking up at Dwyn through her curtains of hair.

"A room with a Queen-sized bed should be fine," Dwyn said, pulling out a wallet that wasn't hers from her purse and smiling slightly at the hundred-dollar bills inside. "Here," she slid it across the counter. "You take cash?" She asked it as a question, but it wasn't really.

The employee confusedly squinted at Dwyn, before shrugging slightly and grabbing the cash and sleepily pulling ot towards herself. "The state of Illinois requires someone to be twenty-one years or older to purchase a hotel room," the employee droned. "ID?"

Dwyn glanced at Luna, who was silently watching the whole situation looking increasingly tired, before pulling out a fake ID from inside the purse and sliding it across the counter. The employee glanced at it to make sure the picture was the same, then nodded to Dwyn and clicked a few things on the computer. She stopped typing, and there was a lag of several seconds as she seemed to be trying to wake her brain up enough to find the words she was looking for. "Alright," she murmured, picking up a miniature envelope and placing it on the counter. "You'll be in room 318. Here's your room keys. Complimentary breakfast from seven to ten each morning, pool opens at eight. Have a good stay."

Dwyn grabbed the room cards and took off in search of the elevators as the employee slumped back down to half-sleep the rest of her shift away, Luna following behind.

"Is it a problem she saw your ID?" Luna whispered as the elevator doors closed, leaving them alone inside it. "I mean, can they track the hotel room to you?"

Dwyn didn't answer her immediately, and Luna seemed to grow more worried. "Can they look you up like you did with Red Shirt? What if they find us?"

Dwyn glanced at Luna amusedly as the elevator voice chimed, "Third floor."

"That's cute," Dwyn said as the doors slid open with a ding.

"What is?"

Dwyn shook her head and walked out of the elevator. "You think I used my real ID."

"You didn't?" Luna asked. "How come she didn't see the picture was different?"

Dwyn rolled her eyes as she turned a corner, then pulled to a stop in front of their door. "I said it wasn't my real ID. I didn't say it wasn't mine."

That did not seem to clear up any confusion on Luna's part, but Dwyn ignored her as she opened the door and walked in. It clicked shut behind Luna. "I don't understand," Luna said. "If it's not a real ID, how can it be yours?" She walked around Dwyn towards the bed then sat down on it, looking up at her with a frown.

"It's a fake ID, Luna," Dwyn sighed. They really had a lot of basic knowledge they needed to cover. She began to unceremoniously pull off her jacket and shirt, and Luna went, "Whoa, I, what--", so flustered that she didn't form words as she shielded her face and looked away. Dwyn laughed at the absurdity of the action and tossed her shirt onto the nearby couch.

"Relax, I have a bra," she said. She started to loosen the straps of the harness that held the piece of tablet against her, then reached around to her back and pulled it out slowly and carefully.

"What-- what're you--" Luna peeked through her fingers then said, "wait, but I thought that... I thought you gave it to Conrad. In the bag." She genuinely seemed at a loss for words, still blinking at Dwyn from behind her fingers.

"That was the point," Dwyn said as she placed the tablet slowly down on the bed, then walked to the couch and pulled her shirt back on. "This way, if we were being watched, nobody would think to follow us." Dwyn picked up her jacket and slung it over her arm.

Luna frowned as she studied Dwyn. "I guess," she said nervously. "It's just... I mean, I don't know him that well, but I kind of get the feeling he'll see it isn't there and automatically assume he lost it somehow? And kind of freak out?"

Dwyn tilted her head. "Huh. Yeah, I guess so."

"So shouldn't we... I mean, shouldn't we tell him?" Luna asked.

"Nah, he'll figure it out eventually," Dwyn said.

"Yeah, yeah, I guess..." Luna fell silent. Then, she took a quick breath in and blurted out, "But like, knowing him, I don't think he will though."

Dwyn considered that. Unfortunately, the middle schooler was right. "Alright, you call him. But wait until we're at our hotel to do it."

"Until we're at..." Luna trailed off, then, after a few seconds, said, "huh?"

"Oh, we're not staying here. This bad boy gets the room all to itself." Dwyn grabbed a pillow, pulled it out of the pillowcase, and slid the tablet in instead, wrapping the extra pillowcase area around it several times before bending down and pushing it under the bed. "Put the sign on the door that says we don't want room service."

Luna stood from the bed and asked, "Where is it?"

"I don't know, my head is under a bed," Dwyn replied shortly, and it was almost like she could see Luna blush.

"Yeah, right, sorry. Found it." Dwyn heard the sound of the door opening, then after a second, it closed again. Dwyn stood up and glanced around the room, untucking the sheets slightly and moving the pillows around a bit, then nodded. "Alright, let's go."

"That's it?" Luna seemed to be tripping up over her own thoughts. Dwyn nodded.

"Yeah, that's it." She walked around Luna and out the door, hearing it shut behind them.

"We'll take the stairs out, they should lead to a back door somewhere," she put in, pausing to pull her jacket on inside-out. Luna hesitantly walked in front of her down the hallway, and Dwyn followed after her. As they made their way down the stairs, Dwyn pulled her curly hair out of its ponytail and let it fall around her face, then reached into her purse and pulled out a pair of glasses lens and put them on.

"So we're going--" Luna began to ask as she glanced back at Dwyn, then did a double-take at the change in look. "Uh..." she started, then faltered. "Uh, we're--" She blinked a few times, clearly so tired that her mind was taking longer to process than usual. "We're going out here?" She asked finally, blinking and looking away from Dwyn at the door. "Won't it set off the fire alarm?"

Dwyn shrugged. "It doesn't say it will."

Luna didn't argue back, just turned back to face the door and pushed it open, walking out onto the street. Despite her hair being pulled up, the bright blonde strands still stood out, swishing back and forth as she moved forward. She stopped and turned back to Dwyn, clearly not confident leading the way, and scratched her neck awkwardly. "So where do we go now?"

Dwyn smiled, tilting her head. "Now, we go to our hotel."
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


~~~GENDERFLUID, ASEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC~~~

Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)
  





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Ventomology says...



\/ Conrad Selingren \/


Even though he very much wanted to, Conrad did not go home. He parked in the office lot and nabbed his spare clothes from the office showering lockers, feeling strange and out-of-place, even though he spent a third of his time in this building. He nabbed a room in a business hotel across the street and just barely mustered the energy to smile at the hotel staff and make small talk about delays at the airport and not having enough rest time after his business trip.

He walked to his room on autopilot, barely noticing the color of the carpet and the abstract shapes of the souless corporate art on the walls. And when he made it inside and his bag was safely tucked into the room's safe, he collapsed on the bed and took a moment to breathe.

The hum of the window air-conditioning unit rattled around his brain, and he slowly brought a hand up to rub at his eyes and wipe down the bridge of his nose.

He didn't want to think about Dwyn. He didn't want to think about this stupid side gig. He wanted to go home and hang up his hockey gear and replay his sick pass to Zhang in his head. He wanted a hot shower with his own bar of soap and his own sheets and his weird cat, who would sit on his chest and watch him sleep all night.

"Ugh," Conrad groaned. He had to think about it though. "I gotta call the boss."

He rolled off the bed and sat, legs out in a big, wide V on the floor, and pulled his personal cell from his pocket. He dialed without thinking. He held the phone to his ear and waited for the service provider to patch him through. God, Conrad was tired.

His boss picked up on the fifth ring. "Selingren."

"Heya," he sighed. "Apparently I'm getting on a plane to SF tomorrow? Did you know about that?"

Conrad's boss huffed on the other end of the line. "Ugh. I hate it when clients think they can pull stuff like this. I'll put through your PTO and send someone else to UC."

"Thanks man." Conrad probably should have hung up, but he stayed on the line and stared up at the popcorn ceiling, letting it blur in and out of focus.

"Well?" his boss prompted. "Spit it out or I'm hanging up."

"I'm not stupid, right?" Conrad asked. He knew, of course, that he wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. He'd made it through college by being friendly and turning his homework in on time--no matter what state it was in--not by being a top student. And he had years of concussions under his belt. He would probably never be considered smart.

"Oh christ," his boss grumbled. "Not this again. You're a grown man, Selingren. Why are you whining about this to me?"

Because his self-worth was closely tied with others' perception of him? Because Conrad's boss might be gruff, but he had been the guy who supported and fast-tracked all his promotion applications.

"Write something in your weird little playbook and make yourself feel better. No one works perfectly with a new team on the first try. Blah blah blah, corporate teambuilding nonsense, blah blah blah, you can do it. I can't believe I have to be your cheerleader."

"Isn't that like the whole job of management?"

Conrad's boss scoffed. "My job is to get you tools, not give you pep talks. Now go to bed." Then he hung up before Conrad could say thank you.

That had gone better than he'd expected. He plugged all his phone chargers into the various outlets around room, went to rinse off the sweat and stink of hockey and heisting, and then pulled out his playbook.

So Dwyn was a liar. That was fine. At least now he knew. Luna was sweet, and also a kid, and seemed like she'd arrived assuming the best of everyone. That was how Conrad liked to approach things too, but maye he was going to need a little more caution going forward.

He tapped his pen against the diagram in his playbook, then got up to check if his inline skates were in his hockey bag.

Actually, now that Conrad was thinking about this team like a new project group at work, he did feel better. He understood that Dwyn took things very seriously. Luna seemed to be serious too, but in the way that interns are serious. And Dwyn acted like they were all doing something very bad, even though they were just getting something back to a client who rightfully owned...

Conrad paused in his scribbling. Did everyone in his team think they had the same goal? Goal alignment was the first priority in team-building. If they weren't all on the same page, then this team would never function.

Too bad Red Shirt would be with them tomorrow. The team-building chat would have to wait.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Sun May 22, 2022 2:43 am
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HarryHardy says...



\/Luna Lee Taylor\/


Luna nodded, trying to plaster a smile on her face in return. She didn't fully succeed, even her facial muscles screamed for a break somehow. It was ridiculous. Walking around a bit, even if it was at the darker hours of the night or rather the wee hours of the morning now (one had come and gone some time ago now) should not have made her this tired. She'd stayed up playing Minecraft through the night so many times now but she had never quite felt the need to collapse into a bed this strongly since that one time she'd stayed up for 50 hours straight because she'd forgotten to study for that one exam.

The fact that her mind was also having some serious trouble processing everything going on around her wasn't helping matters too much either. The more things that happened tonight, it seemed the world was more and more determined to ensure that Luna just collapsed on the floor out of exhaustion and confusion. She was definitely exaggerating on the last part, but the number of revelations and situations tonight were genuinely starting to stack up a bit for Luna. She really hoped that Dwyn either had a hotel in mind or would pick something soon.

The woman had started almost marching as soon as she'd declared they were in fact headed off to find another hotel. Luna almost wanted to ask if they were going to go to something nearby but managed to stop herself in time. If Dwyn was going to go to the extent of stashing that one tiny piece in its own hotel room she was almost definitely going to put some distance between it and wherever they were going to stay for the night. At least Luna was pretty sure. And as much as her curiosity demanded she ask the question, the part of her that did not want to get add on any more embarrassment for the night won out in keeping quiet about it. That situation at the diner had not gone particularly well.

Luna jogged a little to catch up as Dwyn started to get a bit of a lead, walking along with a lot more purpose than the half conscious following that Luna was currently doing. Even her paranoia at walking around the city late at night wasn't doing too much to keep her fully alert. Maybe it was also to do with the fact that she wasn't completely alone either. Sure, Dwyn was almost certainly going to offer Luna up as bait and run away if there was some sort of altercation, Luna was pretty sure Dwyn wouldn't even stop to think twice in a situation like that given how the woman had gone about things so far. Despite all that though, the fact that it was another person was enough for Luna's currently overloaded brain to take comfort from it.

As they walked further off from the other hotel, Luna did make an attempt to at least keep track of the path they were going on. They would have to come back for the piece the next morning, or at least Luna assumed they did. It was entirely possible Dwyn was going to contact some random person like she had done that other time and have it delivered to them or something. Or would that be too suspicious if the two of them didn't check out? Luna shook her head for not the first time that day, trying to stop herself from overthinking yet another thing that should probably be far simpler than she was making it.

It took about fifteen minutes of walking before Dwyn seemed to slow down finally and start looking around. Luna noticed they were in yet another area where there seemed to be a hotel everywhere she looked and this must have been far enough away from the previous hotel for Dwyn to consider staying at one of these. Luna looked about, trying to see if she could spot something like she'd done earlier. Nothing seemed to stand out in particular at the moment, either good or bad and Luna was starting to feel a tiny bit lost.

"We'll go there," Dwyn said decidedly.

Luna nodded in agreement. "That looks fine." She hadn't even glanced at the hotel that Dwyn was pointing out, but Luna was pretty sure Dwyn wouldn't try to pick something horrible. It wasn't like they had too many issues as far as paying for the hotels was concerned. She was pretty positive Dwyn wasn't paying for it with her own money anyway, given that she'd used two different wallets at the diner and then earlier at the hotel. Of course given how many phones Dwyn owned, it was entirely possible she had more than one wallet, but given how easily she'd done that thing with the wallet to Red Shirt, Luna couldn't be sure. Her brain was far too dead to look too far into it anyway.

They made their way into the hotel. It went pretty much exactly as it had gone not too long ago, only this time Dwyn seemed to adopt a slightly different persona. If Luna hadn't been there both times, she probably wouldn't have assumed it was the same woman at the two hotels. Given how the women at both desks hadn't been too much better off than Luna herself felt at the moment, there was no way either of them would link the two. At the realization Luna almost ducked sharply behind Dwyn, realizing that she was probably going to mess up Dwyn's disguise given she not only hadn't done anything to change her appearance but was wearing the kind of suit that probably stood out a tiny bit too much. Discreetly trying to mess up her hair a little to get some sort of difference happening and staying out of the receptionist's direct line of sight, Luna waited as Dwyn was handed the keys to a room. Luna couldn't hear what type of room it was and nearly had to slap a hand over her own mouth to stop herself from blurting out the question, resigning herself to finding out in what was hopefully going to be the near future.

They made their way into an elevator which dumped them out on the fourth floor. At the prospect of getting some sleep soon, Luna was already halfway asleep as she almost stumbled on the way out of the elevator. They made it into the room, Dwyn swiping the keycard as the lights flicked on automatically. Luna took a second to look around. After wandering around in half a daze for the past half an hour, she wanted to at least take in what the room they were going to spend the night in was like.

Her look yielded nothing out of the ordinary. It was just a boring old hotel room, it wasn't even suspiciously dirty or overly clean. There was just that normal amount of pure white sheets and slightly dusty air that was reminiscent of the average hotel room and Luna immediately focused on the beds, or rather lack of beds in the room. It appeared to be pretty similar to the previous one, with just the one bed in the center and a pretty large couch off to the side.

Luna looked down and nearly had a heart attack for the second time that day, okay possibly third time if she could count that tiny scare earlier in the middle of the heist. Keeping her eyes firmly shut, Luna turned back around with a barely stifled yelp.

"So...sorry...I did...didn't...notice, "she stammered out, before weakly adding, "Couch...me ...sleep."

On that note, Luna stumbled towards the aforementioned couch, not waiting for a response and jumping onto the pretty spotless and fairly soft looking couch off in the corner, collapsing onto it so fast you'd think she'd just been knocked out cold by something. She could vaguely hear Dwyn mutter something or maybe Luna imagined it, but she decided to ignore that for the moment as she quickly kicked off the ridiculous boots she'd decided were a good idea because of that book and snuggled into one of the cushions.

"Durma bem, flor," Dwyn said quietly, sounding for the first time like she might also be tired. There was a hint of something else in her voice, but Luna was too tired to try to figure it out.

Even though she hadn't even taken a second to arrange one of the cushions to work as a pillow, Luna was fast asleep in minutes. She wasn't a hundred percent sure that everything they needed to do for the day had been taken care of, but Luna was sure Dwyn would wake her up if there was more that needed to be done, or more likely just do it by herself. Either way it wasn't like Luna was in any condition to be doing too much until she'd caught a bit of rest.

The next morning came quickly and as Luna let out a humongous yawn, stirring awake due to her neck complaining quite strongly about her current head position. She blinked, trying to gather her bearings. The first thing she noticed was that she was lying somewhere cold. It also seemed like it wasn't nearly as soft as she remembered when she'd fallen asleep. Turning to the side, she came face to face with what looked like the bottom of the couch.

Luna blinked a few more times, trying to get her bearings. It only took her a couple of seconds to realize that somehow she had tumbled straight off the couch over the course of the night. On the somewhat bright side the cushion she'd been holding had come down with her and somewhat cushioned her fall. It looked like maybe that's what had woken her up. Then she remembered why she was even sleeping on a couch to begin with and sat bolt upright everything flooding back in. She really hoped she hadn't ended up sleeping for too long. It had been pretty late when she'd gone to sleep.

"I'm fairly certain you passed out as soon as you laid down," Dayn said casually, standing over her. "Come on, we gotta get food and new clothes before swinging by the hotel and heading for the airport. Do you still shop in the kids section, middle schooler?"

Luna flushed once again. The sad part was that she did still shop in the kids section, so she couldn't even argue against Dwyn's jab about her being a middle schooler. She quickly hauled herself to her feet and turned to Dwyn who gestured for her to come.

Luna hurried to put her boots back on, trying to smoothen down her rumpled clothes to make herself semi presentable. If they were going to be running to the clothing store, she had to look somewhat decent or they weren't going to let them buy anything. It took her a few seconds to make sure she didn't look like she'd just slept in yesterday's clothes but she flashed a thumbs up at Dwyn with a small smile.

Before Luna could even suggest they get going, Dwyn was already out the door. Luna noticed that she'd already changed her jacket back to what it had been at the previous hotel, although it seemed even Dwyn didn't have a supply of clothes just hanging out in a pocket to change out of yesterday's clothes. She assumed they'd probably sneak out the back of this hotel too before checking out later when they'd had a change of clothes.

Her theory proved to be correct for a change when Dwyn led them out of yet another fire escape. This time Luna was sentient enough that she realized asking Dwyn about why this was safe was a bad idea and soon they were walking down the road, going quite a bit faster than they had been yesterday. Maybe even Dwyn had been tired yesterday night after all, even though Luna couldn't make it out if she'd tried, not that she had given she was past the point of caring about it that night.

It didn't take them too long to duck into a clothing store. Luna wondered for a second if this was perhaps another one of Dwyn's secret spots like that weird shop she'd taken Luna to the other day to get those phones. But, no one seemed to wave at Dwyn or acknowledge them and it all felt pretty normal. It probably was a regular store. After all, from Dwyn's reaction yesterday to the idea of a 24 hour store, she assumed those were probably the places that Dwyn visited for that sort of thing.

"We'll get ten different outfits for ten different personalities then." She looked at Luna scrutinizing it, then nodded. "Weirdly enough, I actually think you could pull off goth. You look at clothes, I'll get the makeup. Ten sets, got it?"

Luna nodded. She didn't know how Dwyn had come to the conclusion of ten changes of clothes. They weren't going away for that long were they? Luna did know not to question it though. The woman definitely knew what she was doing and if for some reason ten changes of clothes were the amount they needed, it was probably the right one. Dwyn didn't seem the type to do what her friend sometimes did and prank her about this sort of thing.

With that in mind, Luna started to wonder about the shop, looking for anything that would work. Dwyn hadn't been too specific on what exactly to pick up, but Luna got the feeling that she was probably supposed to pick up clothes that looked as different to each other as possible. She definitely shouldn't be using her normal strategy of finding one that she really liked and then buying ten of those. Well she could do that, but she was probably going to end up on the receiving end of some sort of lecture, or possibly worse, just a look of quiet disapproval. She didn't know why that would bother her that much, but Luna decided to follow her instinct anyway and dove towards the nearest rack, just looking for her size without even bothering to glance at what the outfit itself was going to look like. It'd be better that way.

With that in mind it didn't take Luna too long to snatch an armful of clothes off of whatever she could see. She mentally grimaced at the thought of a couple of outfits, but didn't let that wander too far. At least she'd managed to get somewhat matching ones on most of them. There was no way that could possibly be something that Dwyn would fault, at least Luna sincerely hoped she wouldn't. She really wasn't very good at predicting what the woman was going to do or say and she was soon approaching the point where didn't think trying was completely worth it.

As she made her way to the counter, Luna saw that Dwyn was already there. As the woman gave the armful of clothes with her an onceover, her expression remained surprisingly neutral. Luna took that as a good sign. That most likely meant it wasn't bad enough to warrant an expression, it also meant it probably wasn't good, but for the moment she'd take not bad. She was very new to this sort of thing after all. Especially whatever this delivery part was supposed to be. Sadie had never mentioned this escape room escalating this quickly and talking them to another part of the country, but Luna wasn't complaining if it meant she got to have a bit more excitement for slightly longer. She wasn't supposed to be back for a few more days anyway.

It didn't take too long to get checked out. Dwyn paid for them with yet another wallet and Luna had to seriously wonder how Dwyn kept that many things with her with zero indication. Forget the woman's pickpocketing ability, she also seemed to be one of those endless backpacks you could find superheroes carrying in movies and Luna wasn't sure if she was supposed to be impressed at that or concerned at where all of this was being stored, or if maybe Dwyn had just nicked the wallet of one of the staff inside. It was probably not the third option, Dwyn wouldn't be crazy enough to steal someone's wallet and then pay them from said wallet. Or she would be, but she'd be far more careful about it than brandishing the wallet out in the open.

With that paid for, and Luna now carrying a bag full of clothes, Dwyn led the two of them back towards the hotel they'd stayed for the night in. Luna saw as Dwyn seemed to peak into the front desk for a moment before leading them around the back. Luna assumed the woman was probably checking to make sure the shift had in fact changed. It made sense given they'd have to lug these heavy bags with them which they definitely hadn't had on them the night before.

Soon enough, the two of them were changed and ready to head out.

"Alright, let's hop over to the next stop," Dwyn said. "Second hotel shouldn't take too long to reach in daylight. Then, we'll meet up with Conrad and go from there."

"Okay, I guess we will then go towards the other hotel you mentioned. Whatever transportation happens will come there right?" asked Luna, hating that she had to ask, but she really didn't want to confuse that.

Dwyn shrugged. "That's Red Shirt's problem, not mine. He wants us, he'll figure it out."

Luna nodded weakly at that and followed Dwyn down the stairs where she proceeded to efficiently check them out of the hotel and then turn towards a path that Luna remembered as the one that would take them back to the other hotel they'd left the shard in. It doesn't take as long to get there as it did the last night, the semi bright morning being a lot more conducive to walking with purpose not to mention they both know exactly where they are going at least Dwyn definitely looked like she did and Luna was about 85% sure from her groggy memories of the night before.

The memories seem to have worked well enough and they're soon sneaking back into the hotel through the door that they used the other night. Outside the door, Dwyn gestured for Luna to stay there and waltzed inside, swiping the keycard quickly. Luna shrugged. It was probably for the best. A blush returned to her cheek at the image from last night and she scrambled to permanently delete that image once again.

Dwyn walked out two minutes later and Luna saw her finish adjusting something into place.

"So we just have to get there now right?" said Luna, mustering up the courage to ask this one last thing. She could probably get away with being silent until they run into Conrad after this question. "We'd be early but I'm guessing that's maybe something you want to do anyway since we're meeting a random stranger's car."

Dwyn gave an amused smile. "You know me so well. Yes, we'll get there early."

Luna nodded and fell silent again as the two of them made their way down to yet another hotel reception to check out. This one passed by even faster and then they are headed out towards the other hotel that Dwyn had mentioned the other night. There wass no telling how long this particular walk was going to take so Luna settled into step behind Dwyn, who had also slowed down a bit. They really did have a pretty decent amount of time to make it to that particular point in this convoluted plan they'd been following the night.

As they walked along, Luna wondered if Conrad was also going to be on his way to the hotel or if possibly he was catching up on sleep completely forgetting about the fact that he should probably also have picked up a few clothes. It was also entirely possible that despite Dwyn's warning the earlier night, Conrad had snuck back to his apartment somehow and gotten his stuff. Surely despite Dwyn's threat, there was no way she could really prevent that from happening, not when she'd just been with Luna the whole time and done nothing besides look for hotels and sleep. Of course Dwyn could have done any number of things while Luna was asleep but the woman had to have been tired enough that the sight of a bed would have been enough temptation.

She didn't have too long to thing about that though, as soon enough the sign of the hotel they were supposedly staying at, at least according to everything the mysterious Red Shirt knew was coming into view and they were going to have to start to getting ready for whatever the next phase of this was going to end up being. As Luna had silently predicted to herself, Conrad wasn't here just yet, which made sense given the hour they still had until the car was supposed to arrive. Dwyn immediately seemed to be looking around, and set off, giving Luna a nod for her to stay. Or at least that's what Luna assumed it meant based on the context because Dwyn was already off before Luna could even think of working up the courage to actually ask.

Alone for the moment with a giant bag of clothes in hand, Luna decided she may as well take a small poke around herself. She was definitely not going to spot anything given how bad she was at this, but at least she'd feel a tiny bit better about standing out there waiting for both Dwyn and Conrad to arrive if she was doing something herself. She could maybe weed out the really bad potential ambushers. That excuse sounded horrible even to herself but Luna didn't care, it was going to keep her from feeling too horrible.
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

Words are powerful. Don't waste them like I just have.

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Ventomology says...



\/ Conrad Selingren \/


The Radisson Aqua was a monster of a building. Its curving towers undulated in the Chicago wind, and its white balconies grew like mold across its bright blue glass. And it looked worse from the ground. At street level, the blue glass vanished behind the already-greying concrete balconies, and a ribbed, white canopy stretched over the hotel entrance like the bottom of a snake.

Conrad arrived at ten-forty-five, hockey bag and stick in tow, his suit slightly rumpled. He kind of looked like an NHL player, except not as bulked up and not as cool and, well. Kind of fake.

He took a seat at the coffee shop in the hotel lobby and waited, wishing he looked and felt a little less inconspicous. Not that wearing a suit in a hotel like this was conspicuous, but Conrad always felt too big and strange outside of the hockey rink. And he had a hockey stick with him, which drew a few stares. One person even did a very obvious google search on their phone while looking directly at him.

The NHL players all stayed closer to United Arena though, so there was no way Conrad could be one of them, not all the way here in North Loop.

Dwyn and Luna arrived precisely at eleven, and not a minute sooner or later. Luna had a bagel, and was nibbling nervously at it as she trailed Dwyn. They had new clothes on - though how they had gotten anything when most department stores were closed at that hour, Conrad had no idea. And they each even had a suitcase. Maybe Dwyn would take Conrad shopping when they landed. That would count as team bonding, right?

When they strolled up to Conrad's table, Dwyn barely looked at him. She glanced at her watch impatiently, and then at the door, and then went off to stand in the line for coffee. Luna sat on the very edge of the seat across from Conrad and kept nibbling her bagel.

God, this was awkward.

"Did you sleep okay?" Conrad tried.

Luna set her bagel down and fidgeted in her seat. "Um. Yeah."

"Where did you guys go to get all the clothes? I didn't think anything would be open so late."

Instead of answering, Luna set her bagel down. "Look. Um. Do you have any idea why Dwyn got so mad yesterday? I mean, uh. She's been acting like we're kind of cool again today but. I don't know."

Conrad sighed, then hunched over the table and leveled Luna with his best Concerned-Coach face. "I'm not really sure either." He glanced around, just to make sure no one was paying attention, and hunched over further. "Look. It's cool if you don't want to say anything about it, but can you tell me exactly what your offer said? For this whole shindig?"

Luna blinked at him. "Um, sure? I mean, it's the same as yours right? This whole thing is like a test"-

"Hey." Dwyn had returned. She had a coffee in one hand and a new wallet Conrad had never seen in the other, and she nodded towards the hotel entrance with a cool stare. "Our friend is here."

Conrad could barely think. A test? That wasn't even mentioned in his own offer. But before he could keep ruminating, Red Shirt strode up to their table and folded his hands behind his back.

"Our ride is outside," he said, looking over Conrad's hockey things with a suspicious eye. "Hurry up."

Rolling her eyes, Dwyn picked up her suitcase and gave the man a friendly bump on the shoulder. "Oh please. You're the one who's late." Then she strolled past him and sailed out the automatic doors. Conrad and Luna scrambled to catch up.

They hopped into a cab - a real one, not an uber - and Red Shirt spoke with the driver to direct him to the airport. Hopefully Conrad wouldn't have to pitch in to the cost; that would be one expensive ride. Normally he just took the train.

Conrad felt an itch the entire time he sat in the car. With Red Shirt in front, Conrad was stuck behind the driver, and he didn't have quite enough leg room to be comfortable in a sedan this size. The girls were squeezed in tight next to him, scrolling on phones or staring out the window. No one talked. It was like, with Red Shirt and the driver right there, there was no way they could talk.

And to think they had at least 6 hours of travel like this still ahead of them.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Sun May 29, 2022 4:22 am
winterwolf0100 says...



\/Dwyn Souza\/


Security sucked. Everything took forever, and they looked through everything. Dwyn knew a lot of people got really nervous going through airport security-- which was evident enough in watching Luna go through it, picking and biting at her nails. Conrad let out a few bursts of energy as he nervously watched them handle his hockey equipment, which brought up several questions on its own, like what he thought he was going to be doing with it. As for Dwyn? She wasn't nervous, but airport security annoyed her to no end. Airports... the one place she couldn't steal whenever she wanted. Multiple wallets, pieces of jewelry, and watches, would all look pretty suspicious on a security scan. And sure, she could steal after getting through the security, but it was the principle of the whole thing. If she couldn't do it whenever she wanted no matter what, what was the point?

Red Shirt-- Philip Fields-- didn't seem to have any emotions at all as he went through security, likely because he didn't have anything to hide. Everything truly valuable that they were transporting was in their briefcases, but even the briefcases were packed in a way where the stolen goods looked like something else on a scanner. Dwyn had made sure of that.

By the time they got through security, they had thirty minutes to get to their gate, which was almost too much time. Red Shirt broke their collective silence abruptly by saying, "I will be going straight to the airplane. My seat is not near yours to avoid any assocation, so we should split from here."

"Don't worry Philly," Dwyn said casually, "your secret is safe with us."

He sighed, but he didn't look surprised. "I was wondering where that ID went."

"Funny, I was wondering here it came from," Dwyn said, a razor sharpness edging on her voice as she adjusted her suit cufflink and straightened her jacket. "Now shoo."

She could feel Conrad and Luna's gazes on her, one startled and one concerned. Red Shirt did not appear shaken though. "I'll see you when we land," he said, then turned and walked away. Dwyn glanced up as his footsteps moved farther away, the constant bustle and noise of the airport quickly covering his tracks. She didn't glance up at him though. She looked around at the nearest shops. "Come on," she said. "We'll kill ten minutes before we head towards the plane."

The other two followed her compliantly into one of the cheap small airport stores, filled with overpriced snacks and cheesy magazines. Dwyn let herself pretend to be interested in some of them, even as her bored mind wandered around aimlessly in her head. Luna looked ridiculous carrying a briefcase around-- both because she was too young to have graduated with a degree in anything that required a briefcase, and because Dwyn had walked away from her in the store and in return, Luna had bought exactly nothing that fit with a briefcase even remotely. Still, the outfits were drastically different and each seemed to hold a different personality, so Dwyn hadn't complained too much.

"Umm..." Luna piped up nervously beside her. "Are you sure we should be acting angry at him since he's, you know..."

"Our boss?" Dwyn put in. "We've got what he wants. He'll tolerate whatever he has to if he wants to get it."

Conrad frowned beside her like he had some strong thoughts on what she'd said as he stared intensely at the packaged trail mixes, but he didn't speak his thoughts so Dwyn ignored it. "Alright, it's been enough time, let's go," Dwyn said, turning to leave.

Before long, they had made their way to the terminal and boarded the plane. Dwyn had led the way in most of their interactions up until the present, and boarding the plane hadn't been any exception. However, as she stepped up to the seats that were supposed to be theirs, she paused. The irrationality of the thought that sitting beside the window made her more prone to dying if the plane crashed did not stop the thought from giving her a moment's pause, and she made sure to keep her face calculated and cool before she took a deep breath and said, "Luna, you in first."

Luna watched her, wide-eyed, but moved in anyway, and Dwyn followed suit. She'd rather be stuck in-between them than next to a constant reminder of how high in the air they were. And with Conrad's size, she'd rather have him as close to the center of the plane as possible. She didn't care how many engineers had dedicated hundreds of hours to designing this plane-- she didn't want the hockey-loving giant to tilt them off balance and send them spinning through the sky like a sideways-facing top.

Conrad squeezed himself into the seat beside her, his knees pushing against the seat in front of him, and Dwyn pulled her shoulders towards herself as much as possible. She realized by now that, given Conrad's extremely soft personality, blowing up at him probably hadn't been the best motivation tactic. She'd allowed her adrenaline to mix with her ever-building annoyance and break through her facade of emotion, but that didn't mean she enjoyed that she'd lost control, however small. In fact, it also annoyed her, and she tried to ignore the icy atmosphere it had created between the three of them. It had expanded past the normal slightly-on-edge atmosphere that Dwyn had thrived in dominating, and had instead moved into a place where Conrad seemed to have put up an emotional wall completely between them, which surprised Dwyn because it wasn't something she'd even considered him being capable of doing.

Dwyn glanced at Luna, who had pulled the window shield up and was staring out of it. It occurred to Dwyn that it might be her first time flying, but Dwyn didn't feel a strong enough impulse to act, so instead she stayed uncharacteristically completely silent. Neither Conrad nor Luna seemed comfortable breaking it, and while both messed around on their phones during the flight-- on airplane mode, of course-- neither said a word throughout the flight, besides to talk to the flight attendant when he asked what drinks they wanted.

By the time they landed, the silence had expanded beyond an icy air to a frozen lake, but Dwyn wasn't scared of the silence like she was unsettled by the flying she'd forced herself to ignore the whole flight. And as such, she didn't say a word. And neither did Conrad and Luna. And the silence stretched and stretched, and was only broken when the flight attendant said cheerfully over the speakers, "Thank you for flying with us, and welcome to San Francisco!"
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


~~~GENDERFLUID, ASEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC~~~

Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)
  





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HarryHardy says...



\/Luna Lee Taylor\/



Luna looked at the car waiting for them with no small amount of hesitation. Unlike the first time she'd gotten into a car that had been offered to her, where she'd hesitated because she had no idea what could possibly happen once they got in and put their fate in the hands of a mysterious driver, this time she was much more worried now that she had some sort of idea of what exactly was going to be happening in there. And that had to do with the two people in front of her currently also sizing up the car. They were meant to be travelling in to be getting to the drop off point where they'd apparently meet not Red Shirt but the man...or woman behind Red Shirt. Or at least that's what she'd been led to believe so far.

Despite that whole situation hanging over her head, what she was currently the most hesitant about was sitting through another ride in an enclosed space with Dwyn and Conrad who for some reason appear to be acting a little bit differently around each other. There was absolutely no telling why. It was probably something that had happened late last night when she was far too sleepy to remember much of note, but whatever it was, it was going to cause some sort of explosion sooner rather than later. Hopefully that was not going to happen at whatever this drop point turned out to be.

Putting aside the thoughts of that awkwardness, Luna tried to pay attention to the other more worrying matters she should be thinking about at the moment. Most notably how they hadn't even been properly told where this drop off was going to happen. With the car ride from earlier she knew it was towards the airport and even if she had no idea if they were going the right way, the other two almost certainly did and would know if they were instead going to be murdered in a alley. Here with no sense of where they were going, they wouldn't know about a murderous alley until they were actually inside it. And that was a situation maybe Conrad at best was going to survive. Luna was almost certainly that person who died first and spurred everyone else into action. The thought sent a slight shiver down her spine but she managed to mask that well enough as the other two finally got into the car leaving the door open for her.

She paused only for a second, taking a few calming breaths, before she ducked into the car, immediately grabbing the seatbelt then stopping with it halfway across her body. The pros of cons of how this could technically be safer in a crash but maybe if she kept the seatbelt she could run away in an emergency faster flashed through her mind. Before anyone could question why she was suddenly studying the seat belt like it was the most interesting thing in the world, Luna decided to throw those thoughts out the window for the moment and buckle up, just in time for the car to start speeding off.

Luna did her best to settle in as she tried to imagine how this was going to go down. The car ride to the airport and the flight over here had been far enough away from this actual moment that she'd mostly avoided thinking too much about it. Now, in this car Luna couldn't quite dance around that for too much longer. Not only was it going to be that she'd have to look into getting back home probably this afternoon, they were also going to complete this hand off or whatever it was supposed to be called. She had no inkling of how any of that could go down and how this whole trip even fitted into the reverse escape room situation this was meant to be.

Luna's thoughts then drifted towards all the extra things that Dwyn had stolen inside the museum. Every one of those wallets that the woman had nicked couldn't have been part of this could it? Was there some sort of achievement or something she wasn't aware of like those games where you had to pickpocket people in addition to just the main objective? Was she going to end up somehow failing if that was part of the requirements? Her thoughts were turning into a bigger and bigger mess as the time flew by and Conrad and Dwyn not even attempting to make conversation wasn't helping things. As much as Luna was not a big fan of talking, saying something out loud about something might've made this whole situation a tiny bit more bearable.

Eventually, Luna settled for staring out the window. Getting in last had meant she at least had that luxury and maybe she could find something interesting by studying the streets around them. Or maybe at least get some sort of early warning in case the murderous alley scenario was still a go. It wasn't like there'd been any evidence to suggest that one of those couldn't happen. There hadn't been too much in the form of evidence to suggest that sort of thing could happen either but Luna's brain was currently choosing to completely ignore that more rational side of her thinking. Making sure Luna was as uncomfortable as one could possible get in the backseat of the two rather comfortable rides they'd been given seemed to some sort of objective the universe was trying to achieve today.

Her observation of the roads didn't turn out to be too terribly fruitful. In a move that definitely didn't surprise her, staring out towards the road passing by did nothing to alleviate her thoughts and nothing even remotely interesting seemed to be happening to distract her. She was seriously considering pulling out her phone to try and scroll through something to stop herself from building up to a freak out. Maybe she could call Sadie. That might actually be a smart move.

Before she could talk herself out of it, Luna fished her phone out of one of her pockets, making sure to double check that it wasn't the one that Dwyn had given her for heist related functions. She dialed Sadie's number from memory, quickly pressing it to the ear away from the others and half covering her mouth. She wasn't exactly trying to hide what she was saying, but at this point it was pretty much instinct to not let the other two discover too much about here. Dwyn was very clear about not being too personal when it came to this sort of thing and Luna definitely didn't need a Dwyn lecture. Well, given her current situation, that would actually not be bad, but Luna had the feeling that sort of thing wouldn't reflect too well with whatever mood Conrad had gotten himself into at the moment.

Sadie picked up within seconds.

"Heyy, if it isn't our master lock picker," began the girl," took you long enough to remember I exist."

Luna was already beet red and she'd barely spoken for five seconds. This call was off to a wonderful start. Doing her best to catch her breath quickly, she mumbled out a sorry.

"I did..ddidn't mean to," she added," there was just..."

"Oh relax, I was just kidding," said Sadie," I'm not mad or anything. I figured you'd have been pretty busy. In fact I wasn't expecting a call for another day or so."

"Re..really?" asked Luna, "I thought..."

"Its nothing like that Lee, " said Sadie, "come on now."

"Oh..okay," said Luna, a smile now spreading across her face as her blush somehow seemed to deepen.

"So how are you doing? What are you doing?" said Sadie," And ohh...did you need anything? Is that what you called? I shouldn't have assumed it was just a random call? It isn't, is it?"

"Sadie, I'm the one whose supposed to ramble uncontrollably, remember?" said Luna, the smile on her face growing wider.

"Sorry. I just had a lot on my mind."

"That's fair," said Luna. "And...to answer you question, this is a bit of a random call. I had a bit of time to kill and I thought of you." Despite her initial thoughts, the decision to call Sadie in the midst of this was proving to be a great idea. She had completely forgotten about the awkwardness settled in this car and the possibilities that lay in wait at the end of said ride.

"Aww...you think of me," said Sadie, slipping back into her non rambly self.

"No...Yes...Yes..." managed Luna in response. She could feel the heat on her face at this point and she wondered if it was strong enough for even the other two to notice.

"Good to know," said Sadie. "Well then, so how are you doing?"

"Oh, well, that's a bit of a long story," said Luna, "I'll have to tell it to you in proper detail later, but for the moment I'm doing okay I think. Better than I thought I would be."

"Are you enjoying yourself out there?"

"Yes..." began Luna, when she felt the car come to a stop, probably having reached their destination. She hoped it was that at least. She really could not deal with a murder alley situation right now.

"Listen, I have to go for a bit actually, but I'm pretty sure I'll have time to give you a good long call in a bit, so I'll call you back?" she asked.

If Luna wasn't imagining it, Sadie almost seemed to let out a small sigh of disappointment. "Of course. Call me as soon as you can. Stay safe over there."

"You too," said Luna, waiting on the line for a few seconds for Sadie to hung up. It seemed Sadie had the same idea because they just stayed there for ten more seconds before Luna broke the silence.

"Are you going to..." she began.

"Yeah, sorry, I though you woul..." began Sadie at the same time.

"Well..." began the two of them together and this time they both burst into a fit of giggles.

"Bye Lee," managed Sadie finally, and the line went dead.

Luna stared at the photo on Sadie on the screen for a second before she quickly locked it, stuffing it back into the pocket it had come from.

She could see Dwyn was already getting out of the car, Conrad right behind her. Luna took another deep breath. If Dwyn was getting it was probably not a murder alley. It was time to do this thing.
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

Words are powerful. Don't waste them like I just have.

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Ventomology says...



\/ Conrad Selingren \/


The northern California coast was always foggy. Though the skies cleared up quickly once you travelled a bit inland, the shoreline stayed blanketed in almost eternal fog--white and dense and uncannily opaque.

When Conrad stepped out of the car, he balked. In front of them sat a decrepit-looking concrete bunker. It was mouldy and rain-stained- and salt streaks ran in the long, uneven lines that textured the walls. In steep contrast, the bunker door was a shiny, chrome metal. The card reader next to it glistened as fog condensed on its cold, smooth cover.

A valley covered in broad-leafed trees rose up around them, and Conrad tried to place where they were. He'd been to San Francisco on business before, and once took a few extra days to hike in the surrounding countryside. He knew they were close to the coast, and that the car had travelled north for some time, bypassing Oakland to cross the San Francisco Bridge. But at some point, the car had made a sudden left, and then a whole sickening sequence of other turns after that, and Conrad had gotten all kinds of turned around.

Luna had just been on her phone. Maybe there was service here? Could he use it to figure out where they all were?

As Conrad pulled everyone's luggage from the car, he reached into his pocket to pull out one of Dwyn's burners, only to stop when Red Shirt put a hand on his arm.

"None of that, Mr. Selingren. Just take your things and go up to the door."

Okay. That wasn't ominous at all.

Conrad stepped up to the door first, watching carefully as the reader next to it beeped. He saw Dwyn and Luna fall in behind him - Luna nervous and Dwyn neutral. She was probably debating whether or not to turn on the charm. The door slid open on a well-oiled track, and an automatic light clicked on, illuminating the steep stairwell beyond.

Conrad glanced back to Red, and then started down.

He was almost too big for the place. He could sense the concrete above his head, inches away from grazing his hair. When he stepped forward, in that split second before his foot dropped to the next stair tread, Conrad worried for the continued health of his forehead. But he soldiered on, down the zigzag of stairs and into the tight hallway beyond.

The hallway ended in a brightly lit room with metal trim and bland, IKEA furniture. A single door was inset on the opposite wall, and the table had five chairs, arranged precisely to match the thin, LED-lined cuts that carved a pentagon into the table surface.

The room was a pentagon too. And when Conrad looked closely, he noticed the wire-frame shapes around the lights were made of twelve pentagon-shaped faces.

Across from him, the door opened, and a woman stepped through. She eyed Conrad's hockey bag, and then surveyed Dwyn and Luna, and offered a dry smile. Her eyes were a warm shade of brown, but they felt ice cold.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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HarryHardy says...



\/Luna Lee Taylor\/



Luna gulped as she took in the woman that had just arrived from the depths of this place. Whatever person was in charge of making this drop point seem as legitimately creepy and terrifying as possible needed a raise, a big one. Luna hadn't been comfortable for one second of her stay in this place and she was seriously beginning to wonder if the people here were maybe a little too professional to be working in a place like this. Given they had basically won the whole thing, Luna was hoping for at the very least a hidden smile by someone breaking character from the "I could kill you if I wasn't this bored" looks that this woman was giving them at the moment.

The d├ęcor hadn't exactly helped out either. The whole place seemed almost dizzying in its design, as if it was made so that even someone who'd been hear a few dozen times would get momentarily creeped out and be confused about where to go. And for first time visitors, well this place didn't need much in the way of guards to protect it if people like Luna were going to be breaking in. The oddly symbolic shape of everything was enough to make Luna reconsider. Sure, the lighting was startlingly normal, if maybe a little brighter than Luna personally liked. That was much more due to how many hours she spent in the dark gaming than anything else so that wasn't that odd of a detail. Even the furniture unlike what she imagined was not intricately carved or decorated with gold and silver and all kinds of riches. Instead it seemed almost boring, although she couldn't quite bring herself to put that label to this place yet.

As her brain proceeded to catalogue those particular thoughts, she realized that maybe she wasn't nearly as afraid of this place as she'd first imagined. It was just the way everyone here seemed so cold that was making even the slightly oddly shaped but semi normal looking room appear unimaginably creepy. She couldn't help but credit whoever had designed this for that. It probably meant they needed a much lower budget to create a place like this but they'd perfectly achieved the kind of atmosphere that was warranted in a situation like this. Luna glanced towards Dwyn and Conrad. Dwyn, as usual didn't look in the least bit bothered by any of what was going on. Luna had no history to judge from to say if Dwyn hadn't been here before, but she didn't seem to be taken in by anything that was going on around them. Conrad was a slightly different story.

He didn't look nearly as creeped out as Luna herself was feeling, but Luna knew enough about emotions to sense that the man wasn't completely comfortable here either. Maybe it had something to do with the strange sense of claustrophobia this placed seemed to command. It wasn't like there was no space but something about the way everything was arranged as if it all had a space that it filled made it seem like the three of them didn't really have any space to belong in. Or maybe Luna was just being crazy right now. She really needed to stop thinking like this and focus on what was going to be happening pretty soon.

It wouldn't take a genius to figure out that the table in the center of the room was going to be whatever final meeting place they had. The woman was already moving to sit down at it, and their very own Mr. Red Shirt or Philip Fields according to whatever Dwyn had pulled up made himself home not a second later. It wasn't like Luna had doubted that Dwyn had found the correct name for the man, but seeing him basically acknowledge it earlier on had made sure there was no doubt whatsoever should it have ever existed in the first place. Not for the last time Luna wondered if this was some sort of side objective she'd never been warned about and had never been able to finish.

The woman didn't even really invite them to sit, just made a gesture that seemed to vaguely hint at it. It was almost as if the woman didn't want them sitting down for whatever conversation was about to be had, but had vaguely gestured about it out of some sort of inbuilt politeness. Luna didn't know what to make of it. She was seriously considering just remaining standing when Dwyn, as usual, made the first move. She waltzed over to the table, making a show of pulling out one of the uncomfortable looking chairs out. She seemed to have put on some sort of false cheer as she addressed the two that were seated at the table.

"So I suppose we aren't getting any refreshments?" asked Dwyn, echoing a laugh that sounded fake even to Luna's ears.

Red Shirt and the woman didn't seem particularly impressed but they didn't move to reply. Taking Dwyn's lead, Conrad moved next, taking the one seat that was still somewhat away from Dwyn. It took him a second to position himself at the table with the heavy bag he was caring bumping into things and breaking the otherwise pin drop in the silence more times in those few seconds than it probably had been in the past year. Even Luna felt like she had to cringe ever so slightly at all the banging noises and she couldn't fathom how neutral the expressions remained on the three that were currently sitting at the table although Luna could detect the slightest hint of disapproval in the mysterious woman's eyes.

A few seconds later once the sounds had stopped, Luna was the only one still standing and she scrambled into the seat next to Dwyn. As awkward as it felt at the moment, it would not do to be the one person that was still remaining standing. With that in mind, and taking what was probably deep breath number five hundred for the day, Luna pulled the seat out as quietly as she could and sat down, marveling at how surprisingly comfortable it was. That was quite an accomplishment. Not a lot of chairs that looked uncomfortable could actually be comfortable. The opposite happened all the time, but this. Well, these people certainly were professionals at this.

Luna looked up. There was a couple more minutes of silence as if everyone on the table was trying to decide who they should kill first and in Luna's case, was trying to remember which door to run screaming out of if things did end up going horribly wrong somehow. Logically, she knew that couldn't be the case, this was all some sort of game, but Luna couldn't help the cold hands of fear that were slowly working away on her mind.

"I suppose we came here to do more than simply observe the table. It is an interesting one, but surely there's more to do," said Dwyn.

"It appears you three did in fact obtain what we requested," began the woman, not giving any sort of reaction to Dwyn. "At least that is what I am led to believe by my colleague here. I have no reason to doubt that our choices were less than adequate, but I must confess upon actually meeting the three of you I did wonder if our team had made its first mistake in some time in choosing the right personnel for the right job.

Luna was just about to response, her nervousness momentarily forgotten because she couldn't believe this woman was going to treat them like this. If this was somehow part of whatever script they had, they'd gone way too hard on this last part. Before she could make a fool of herself like that however, Dwyn spoke up, cutting off even Conrad who also seemed to have found his voice at the woman's statement.

"We," began Dwyn before pausing as if she was seriously reconsidering if Luna and Conrad had even been involved before continuing, " we did acquire the package."

"Very well then," said the woman, still not showing any sign of any reaction. "if you say so, I would like to see proof of this, in fact why don't we conduct this matter as quickly as possible. There are a few slightly more important matters I need to be tending to and I'm afraid I can only spare so much time for something like this."

At this point, Luna had resigned herself to do any of the talking, since the whole thing seemed to be far more in character than Luna had at first imagined, and Dwyn was infinitely better at this than she was ever going to be. Conrad seemed to have come to the same realizing because he kept his mouth shut as well, when Dwyn, rather predictable asked about the money. Her tone remained that sugary sweet one that she seemed to reserve for most strangers she interacted with, but there was the faintest of edges to that tone that Luna surprised herself in being able to detect.

"That will be handled once I have proof. Now if you will, show the package. Perhaps I could be persuaded to send you the money once I have a visual and before you hand it over," said the woman. If Luna didn't know better, she detected the tiniest hint of desperation in the woman's voice.

"That seems like a fair deal," said Dwyn.

Luna felt ever so slightly vindicated when she detected Dwyn's smile star to trend towards being a tiny bit less false as she pulled out something from the bags they'd been carrying. it was pretty clear Dwyn was sensing she had some sort of advantage. Luna was still horrible at reading emotions, but she'd seen this particular woman's emotions more than a few times now. Without too much fanfare, Dwyn produced the item they'd so carefully stolen from the museum earlier and she held it up in the light. It was no less impressive in this bright light than it had been earlier in the dimness of the museum. It seemed almost magical. Whoever was in charge of the props for this game was also really good at their job.

The woman clapped her hands and someone ran out from another door, clutching a tablet in their hands. She whispered something to the man that dutifully leaned down to listen. The man jabbed at the tablet at lightning speed, bringing something up then producing a smart pen for the woman who proceeded to sign something and then place her finger down for some sort of fingerprint scan.

"That's all dealt with," said the woman. She didn't say it, but Dwyn clearly got the hint as she gingerly handed the item off to Red Shirt who presented it to his boss/ colleague, Luna had no idea. All she knew was that, things were just about to come to an end here.

"Well, I must confess that I am surprised that this particular collection managed to pull this off with such minimum reaction. I don't know if they museum is even aware at the moment that this artefact has been st...returned to its rightful owners. I suppose you deserve something of a thank you, although I'm sure your compensation will be more than enough of a thank you. My colleague and I have plenty of work to be getting to, so I hope you know to find your way out."

The woman didn't even give them time to react to that before she was already getting up and disappearing back into one of the doors she'd come through. If it was the same one from earlier, Luna couldn't be completely sure, although she was about 60% sure it was.

Red Shirt waited a moment longer before giving them some sort of half nod and then following the woman through the same door. He didn't spare them a second glance. Luna immediately turned to Dwyn.

"What now?" she questioned. Dwyn had surprisingly refrained from giving the two any sort of send off despite what Luna had been expecting to see and now she seemed to be back to her usual expressionless self.

"We find out way out," replied Dwyn," I think they made that perfectly clear didn't they. Although we might get lost along the way. We are after all here for the first time."

"I think I remember the way.." began Luna, before it suddenly struck her that Dwyn had put a bit more emphasis on lost than was strictly normal. Her eyes widened. "Ohh..yeah, getting lost...that's poss...possible."

Conrad seemed confused. "I thought you..."

"Just follow me," began Dwyn, stalking off in the direction of one of the doors.
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

Words are powerful. Don't waste them like I just have.

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winterwolf0100 says...



\/Dwyn Souza\/


Dwyn didn't wait for the others as she opened a door and quickly walked into the corresponding hallway, away from Red Shirt and who was clearly the boss, or at least a step above Red Shirt on the ladder. Conrad and Luna followed, Conrad hesitant and Luna surprisingly seeming almost thrilled by it. Though she didn't show it, Luna's excitement when she'd been terrified about nearly everything else they'd done was slightly thrilling for Dwyn too, and she wasted no time in examining different doors as they walked down the hallway, stopping in front of one with a keypad.

"Open this one, will you middle schooler?" Dwyn asked as Conrad and Luna finally caught up. Though Dwyn was certainly shorter than Conrad, she tended to walk extremely fast when she was feeling motivated, so she had managed to speed ahead of both of them.

"Umm..." Luna said, glancing behind them like she was nervous, even as a trace of a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. "Alright, let me just--" She studied the lock for several seconds, then touched a few things and a click sounded.

Dwyn gave a rare, genuine smile-- albeit a crazed one-- and moved past Luna, swinging the door open and walking into the room. It was empty, and motion-sensored lights turned on as they entered the room. Dwyn's eyes scanned everywhere around the room, taking everything in.

"What exactly are we doing?" Conrad finally spoke up.

"Oh, just looking around!" Dwyn said cheerfully. "No harm in that, is there?"

Conrad's conflicted face seemed like he begged to differ, but as he was opening his mouth to say it, Dwyn cut him off. "Aren't you curious about who hired us? Not many people can cough up millions of dollars for a fraction of a stone tablet, and they definitely can't transfer the money instantly like she just did out there. You have to be rich rich to do that."

Conrad's eyes trailed to the door, like he was recalling the woman and the tablet. Luna glanced between them, then surprised both of them by speaking up. "I think... I think we should look around. Since we're here anyway."

Dwyn looked at her, slightly impressed. Conrad, at Luna's words, seemed defeated, and said, "I... I guess there's no harm in just looking."

"That's the spirit," Dwyn exclaimed, moving away from the pair to look around the room. She just needed to put a little distance between them before she stole whatever she was going to steal. That woman had been terrified enough of Dwyn not giving her the artifact when they'd been only a few feet away-- if Dwyn could get some type of leverage, she knew the woman would easily cave in and send millions more her way.

Maps hung everywhere on the walls, most fairly recent but still tattered and fragile. They'd been written on in marker and pencil and pen and highlighter, everything imaginable, with various scrawled lines connecting different locations, circles around dots with question marks next to them, sticky notes with bits of information next to arrows drawn to point at a pin in the map. Dwyn couldn't exactly decipher what was going on just by looking at them, and wondered if the people who had put all this together were half crazy.

"Wow," Luna whispered a few feet away, her fingertips brushing against one of the maps. "I wonder what all this is for."

"Most of these maps are just... filled with circles and question marks," Conrad pointed out, frowning a bit like he was confused. His hockey equipment made clanging noises in its bag. "It's like they still can't find whatever they're looking for or something."

"Yep," Dwyn agreed absent-mindedly, her eyes more focused on the tables pushed against all the walls, holding various writing utensils and random assortments of objects. Her eyes landed on an old and worn book against one of the back walls, opened randomly to some large chunks of text. She moved closer, frowning and tilting her head slightly as she neared the book. When she squinted her eyes to see it more clearly, she blinked. It was in Portuguese.

"Meu Deus," she mumbled to herself in disbelief, her fingers gently touching the pages. She turned a page, then another, and then another still. Unbelievable. All in Portuguese. What were these people doing with a book in Portuguese?

"What's that?" Conrad asked, appearing at her shoulder seemingly out of nowhere.

"A book," Dwyn said breezily, shutting the book and moving away from it. Conrad didn't try to carry on the conversation.

Finally, Dwyn's eyes landed on something she could use-- a set of three keys, ancient-looking and each encased in a velvet box, likely for protection. She kept a calm expression even as her energy spiked. This was it. Making sure Conrad and Luna were busy looking at other things, she quickly slipped the keys out of their boxes and into her pocket, then closed the glass-top boxes and continued to walk like she was studying the maps. She turned suddenly.

"Alright, we should go before they notice we haven't left. Luna, lead the way?"

Luna watched her with her eyebrows raised, either in shock that Dwyn had asked her to do something or that Dwyn had said her actual name. Then, she stuttered out an, "Uh, yeah, okay," and turned to walk out the door. Conrad seemed to hesitate a moment longer, watching Dwyn like he no longer completely trusted her, then turned to follow Luna. Dwyn began to follow too, then paused, turning back around to look at the book. A book in portuguese in the United States was not something you saw every day, especially not when it was owned by rich white people. Well... she was taking the keys for leverage. It wouldn't hurt to take something for herself.

Without hesitation, she grabbed the book, slipped it into her bag, and followed Conrad and Luna, closing the door decisively on her way out.
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


~~~GENDERFLUID, ASEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC~~~

Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)
  





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Sat Jun 18, 2022 7:11 am
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