2019-07-18 - Fashion Show Turns Violent


A brawl breaks out on the catwalk.

Log Info:

Storyteller: jimmy-baxter
Date: Wed Jul 18 16:00:00 2019
Location: Midtown

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Theme Song



|It's at that ambiguous period between late afternoon and early evening, and McCabe Industries is putting on a special runway show. The rented venue is built to put the catwalk front and centre with spotlights shining down, putting the models literally above the audience — a mix of paparazzi and rivals in the industry, here for a sneak peek.

They're early for Fashion Week, but McCabe's lines are a mix of fashion and technology. Case in point: the male models strutting in colourful three-piece suits, demonstrating the suits' shielding as well as their style. Babyfaced Carlos holds an elbow in a brazier, but doesn't burn; lantern-jawed Grayden draws a knife over his suit, even along the seams, and the fabric doesn't even fray. They're not going to do literal 'bullet proof' demonstrations during a show like this, but there are still gasps of surprise and wonder — especially when a staff member brings the brazier down to show that, yes, it's every bit as hot as it looks.

These are the first models of the day. Backstage, beyond curtains at one end of the catwalk, others — male and female alike, though more of the latter — wait their turn, or maybe double-check a few last details.

While the paparazzi may be impressed, there are more than a few grumpy, jealous frowns among the rivals in attendance, irritation beginning to rise.

It's a typical event for McCabe Industries. High quality, low key. The focus is on the fashion - everything designed to draw the viewers attention to that, putting all else in the background.

Including the Founder and current CEO of the company - Mari McCabe. The dark skinned woman is there, lingering in the background, watching the reactions to the new line. It's all she could hope and then some.

When Pris checked into the 'McCabe Industries' lead garnered from the businessman saved from the aggression imp, what she found was … well, this. But she found it a week ago, and that offered her an opportunity. She chose not to pass up that opportunity, and contacted the modeling agency busily assembling a multiracial, multiethnic gabble of models for this event … and managed to get herself hired. Yes, yes, the semi-literate multi-species alien-hunting stripper managed to get herself hired on as a runway model.

This couldn't possibly go wrong. Right?

Thanks to Priscilla's shapeshifting talents, she has been able to tone down her normal curves to something a bit less astounding or improbable. Even so, as she follows her cues and stands still while the crew flutter their hands all over her outfit, it's pretty clear she is the most curvaceous of the female models for today's event. She stands, scanning the area as much with her empathic perceptions as her eyes and ears, and waits for her next cue to strut out onto the catwalk.

At least the chances of Pris tripping or wobbling on her heels is next to nil given her experiences, right?

Both empathic senses and good, old-fashioned face-reading can pick up on the divide between excited paparazzi and annoyed rivals. A blond Frenchman furrows his brow as he mentally picks apart the style, to figure out how he could counter it in his own fashion lines; a designer with red hair and big glasses just scowls; and an olive-skinned, black-eyed woman looks like she's trying to cast the evil eye on the models.

Except, it's much more effective than the usual 'if looks could kill' glare. No, nobody actually drops dead. But something shifts in Carlos and Grayden's stance: the artful, casual stride becomes more like a hunter's stalking. Carlos strikes a pose, inspiring a chorus of camera flashes. In that moment, Grayden flashes with unprofessional, envious anger, a spike of emotion sudden enough to give Priscilla a moment of vertigo.

And he strikes, swinging that knife for Carlos. Thankfully, it just scores across the armoured jacket, but he's not letting up. Gasping shock spreads through the room, but the more ambitious paparazzi make sure the cameras keep shooting.

With a good look, Priscilla would see a familiar sight: an imp-like creature, clutched around Grayden's head.

"Are you enjoying the show, Amaury?" Mari moves to stand next to the Frenchman, smiling pleasantly as she does. Amaury Brodeur has been a long term rival and she's sure he's thinking she can eat her heart out. Among other things.

The others responses are all noted but Mari isn't worried, why should she be? There's security here to deal with that.

When it comes from the stage, she's momentarily taken aback. Not that she would act immediately anyway.

The security team swings into action, one of the uniformed men moving professionally to get hold of Grayden and restrain him.

Mari watches, noticing the camera's flashing and quips loudly enough. "All part of the show. What use is clothing that has protection built in, if you don't get to see how effective it is?"

Pris definitely does wobble when the aggression imp so suddenly manifests and takes effect. Thankfully keeping her balance is instinctual for her, and she does not lose her footing. Instead, she inches closer despite not getting her cue yet, preparing herself to take action. But security swoops in, and she hangs back to see how things go. If this works like the event at the club, that isn't going to help. She's assuming the security staff will be affected next … so she's trying to decide how she should take action.

Oh, wait. That was her cue. Pris nods, and then struts towards the opening in the curtains. Here goes nothing.

Amaury scoffs at Mari's question. "I enjoy seeing how pedestrian your colour palettes are, yes. My Fall line will leave you in the dust."

Mari's claim does get many of the attendees to calm, fears easing… but for something that's all part of the show, Grayden definitely struggles hard against the security. And their outfits aren't quite as armoured: a shaven-headed guard gets a bad cut across his hand before they get the knife off him. The pain blends almost seamlessly with similarly-spiking anger, and he comes in with a few hard, gratuitous punches into Grayden's gut.

The blood and violence definitely don't look fake, especially not with how Carlos takes a few stunned steps backwards. Another guard tries to pull the bald one away, gets a punch for his trouble, and the catwalk devolves into an outright free-for-all. The emotions around the catwalk are split between escalating rage and deer-in-headlights, frozen fear.

Except for one glimmer of smug satisfaction, laced with a colder kind of anger. A group of the rivals start to back away from the stage.

Unlike Priscilla's usual experience on stage, only a very few eyes turn to take in the outfit she's displaying; the fight's just too attention-grabbing.

"Really Amaury, not everyone wants to be peacocks. And this is just my business line." Mari taunts the business man a little. She's a terrible flirt and tease and Amaury is getting some of that right now.

The ongoing fight gets a displeased look from Mari and she looks for her head of security - her own man. He's not around and this is going to get dangerous. "Well it seems someone hasn't had his snickers today. Why don't we all back up a bit."

Her competitors are assessed though. The fashion industry is cut throat - sometimes literally. In a moment, a small glowing shape of a moth appears on her shoulder, the ex-model breathing in deeply through her nose. Who smells of satisfaction versus shock and surprise.

So very trusting, the CEO is.

As Priscilla appears, Mari shakes her head to the woman gesturing her back. "Thank you, but we've had to change the order. Why don't you wait in the wings for a moment?"

Priscilla meets Mari's gaze and a momentary frown crosses her lips, but she nods and then sighs, jumping forward - in heels and a skirt! - and landing nea the ee that is unfolding. "Pardon me." she offers as she extends a hand, gripping one of the men's shoulders, unleashing her psychic force to knock the man out and then continuing forward. She doesn't want to KO everyone, but she's trying to get to Grayden the best she can.

Amaury sniffs, shaking his head. "Of course everyone wants to be a peacock. That's the entire point of fashion: to do with artifice what nature does for other animals. To create beauty, to declare 'I am here, and you cannot ignore me.'"

The head of security is elsewhere, perhaps checking part of the venue's perimeter. But with how that anger spreads, it may be better if he's /not/ around for this. The retreating competitors all reek of fear hormones… except for one, a woman with black hair coming down to her elbows and a many-coloured skirt suit. She moves with the group, and if someone had only looked with normal sight, she would surely have blended in.

As Priscilla arrives on the scene, that first guard readily goes beddy-bye. She's got quite a Vulcan nerve pinch, doesn't she? The originally-aimless rage has settled in, each man in one or two specific brawls, and not lashing out against Priscilla. Yet, Grayden himself is /in/ one of those brawls — he's long since knocked unconscious, but that imp still clings to his battered head while the bald guard continues his metronome-steady punching.

"Keep thinking that, Amaury. It's good for my business." Mari smirks, watching as Priscilla decides to ignore them. "Well alright then. Ladies and Gentlemen, you're about to see my clothing in my action. Buckle up, put your tray tables up and enjoy the inflight show."

There's a reason that Mari has been as successful as she is. She knows how to 'spin' a lot of things.

The skirt Pris is wearing splits up the seams, displaying her legs even more but gives the woman room to move. Even better, the 'split' appears natural - and a seamstress will say it's easy to repair.

Always thinking ahead, Mari is. (The skirt has pockets as well!)

Catching that scent though, Mari's eyes narrow and focus on that hideous multicolour number. "Madam. The 1990's called and want their outfit back." She makes her way to the dark haired beauty. The silhouette of the moth on her shoulder disappearing to be replaced by the silhouette of a rhinocerous behind her.

She's not taking any chances to get hurt. Her Board would have a fit.

Pris is shameless enough if the skirt just shredded she wouldn't care. But it's good for Mari that it doesn't do that, so bonus! Pris moves to interpose herself between the guard and Grayden. "That will be enough. No more kicking a man when he's down." This is followed by laying a gentle hand on the guard … another flare of sparkle in those purple eyes … and another psychic whammy. Then Pris kneels down, taking Grayden's bloodied head in her hands as she dives into his psyche, mentally and spiritually, and grabs for the imp. "That will be enough out of you …" she growls …

The shaven-headed guard glares at Priscilla as she interposes herself. His aggression pushes hard against her whammy, a clash more from the imp than from the man himself… but it's not quite enough. Though he starts to swing a punch, he's unconscious before it lands. The imp snarls at Priscilla as she starts her severing work, and defends itself the best a creature of rage can. All those brawling guards find a new direction for their emotions. One grabs the discarded knife and comes up to stab her in the back — though between Priscilla's own toughness and the armoured dress, that may not be too effective.

The woman pauses in her stride; she's the only one dressed 90s enough to match that call-out. She turns with a scowl, and Mari might recognise her: something Rivera, a seamstress as well as designer. "Oh? Then come and get it." She whispers something else under her breath while making a gesture. If Priscilla looked her way, she'd see a similar, blue imp perched on her shoulder; but anyone can see how the previously-panicking designers step between Mari and Rivera.

"I don't want it." Mari smirks again, narrowing her eyes as she finally gets a good look at Rivera. "You're the one who came to me a couple of years. You didn't work out." Yes, she recognises her. "Decided to try again and failed, I see."

"Really? Couldn't stand on your own two feet then and you can't now." As the other participants start to block her way, Mari concentrates again.

"Stop her." Mari calls out as her head of security enters the area, behind Rivera. She's not going to go through her guests to get to the designer. She'll go around them and trust her people to help out there.

The mocha-skinned model grunts and sags as she is stabbed in the back, blood flowing. The armored dress is great, except where it's not covering, and that seems to have been where the knife went, and it went deep. Deep enough that, even concentrating as she is, Priscilla coughs blood from a punctured lung, wheezing as she struggles. Sure, she heals fast, but she suffers until it's done, and she has no mental bandwidth left right now for trying to direct her shapeshifting to work around the problem. Still, Pris clings to the bloodied head of Grayden and delves deeper, striving after the imp and trying to seize it and start peeling its grip from the man's soul.

Now if only she can keep breathing long enough to win!

Rivera snorts at Mari, tossing her hair. "Humankind aren't /meant/ to stand alone. Human strength is in society. No, I don't stand on my own two feet. I stand atop others, raising me higher." In particular, those who have been semi-possessed into that protective human shield. As the security captain steps out, he finds himself caught between warring impulses — Mari calling out his duty, and that same overwhelming shout into his heart. In the end, neither wins: he freezes up in the doorway instead of going to either's aid.

Priscilla takes that stab, above the dress' backline, and just keeps on going. Pure shock at that response stuns the red imp, leaving it gaping for long enough that her pressure starts ripping it free, peeling both hands from Grayden's head… but then it digs in its heels, literally, and shrieks with rage that infects the men around her. More blows land, hard and heavy and bruising; the guard tugs the knife out and goes for several more slashes. Where the dress covers, it shields her, but she'll still come out with a distressing number of cuts across her shoulders and the back of her neck.

Mari swears under her breath, the glowing silhouette of the rhino being joined / overlaid with one of a silver backed ape. "Let her go and see the guests safe." She says to her security team. There's security footage and Mari knows her prey now. She'll go hunting, later.

For now. She's a responsibility to those who are her guests.

Turning on her heel, she joins the model on the catwalk, grabbing the guard from behind and trying to throw him to the ground. "I don't know what you're doing…" she says to Priscilla "… but do it quickly. You can explain later, when this is done."

The bald headed guard should be kept busy and this is all so very, very public.

The model is slashed, stabbed, cut, bruised, even cracks a rib or two. It's agony, and Pris is wheezing, literally drowning slowly in her own blood. It's unpleasant. But she grimaces, gritting her teeth, and pushes harder; the effort is agony even without the injuries, to herself and the imp and Grayden. It's bloody torturous, frankly. And she keeps pushing, which tortures the empath even more severely as she suffers not just her own pain both both of theirs' as well.

Rivera smirks at Mari relenting. "Au revoir then, Ms. McCabe." She turns and struts away — and for good measure, gives the frozen captain a kiss on the cheek, just before she slips out the door. Once she's gone, the blue imp's effect leaves the other rivals, and they drop from that ready stance, left to murmur to themselves while they try to process what just happened to them.

On her own, Priscilla might have been beaten down, taken out of the fight before she could finish tearing the imp from the model's psyche. Though she can heal from it, right now she just doesn't have the spare concentration to force her body into putting itself back together again. But then Mari is there, with the combined strength of an ape and a rhinoceros. The bald guard goes flying, left sprawling across the ground several yars away, knife falling from his hand to clatter to the floor below the catwalk. The new challenger catches attention from the rest of the enraged team; though it doesn't take away all of them, it does give Priscilla a little respite, a little chance to focus. Thread by thread, she severs the imp, with the creature's extremities already starting to dissipate. Just a little more…

"Seriously." Mari puts herself at Priscilla's back, protecting the woman as she … works. Mari assumes that's what she's doing. "This isn't how I expected things to go today. I guess excitement is the spice of life. Stand down, or there'll be no bonuses for any of you."

Maybe her head of security and any of the other unaffected detail will be able to help her out.

Either way, she'll take on anyone that comes at her - taking the blows and the bruises that are part and parcel of a superheroes life.

And given that brief respite, Priscilla is finally able to sever the last connections, and the imp dissipates, and with it the aggression effect being projected around the stage. Then the mocha-skinned woman slumps, coughing up more blood on her pretty dress. But now she can concentrate on shapeshifting, turning her torn lung inside out to drain the blood, then sealing it up so it can re-inflate. Another little cough, and finally she can inhale deeply again. The purple-eyed woman glances up at the world-famous model taking on all comers above her, and can't help an amused grin. "Cool." she murmurs.

Timing is a curious thing, between Mari's declaration and Priscilla's victory against the now-vanishing imp. It means the guards all stop fighting very soon after Mari said they wouldn't get any pay bonuses otherwise. It's coincidence, though, right? The main thing is that the accursed compulsion is beaten.

But as Mari had observed, this is all very very public. A superhero may only have to take on those who come at her with fists and weapons, but a would-be reporter grabs her flamboyantly-dressed cameraman by the arm and drags him to the catwalk's side. "Lisa Kelly, CW. Ms. McCabe, was this violence an intended part of the new line's demonstration? And you—" She holds the microphone out to Priscilla. "What's your name?" Priscilla wouldn't be as recognisable as Mari, even without having shapeshifted herself for this gig.

"Much better …" The ex-model murmurs, letting out a breath as things de-escalate. "Bonuses all round, I believe." Her board is likely to have a fit about all this. However, it's not unsalvageable - Mari built her business on being able to use publicity, let's see what she can do with this.

"Thank you for asking, Ms Kelly. The level of violence is certainly not something that McCabe Industries condones however it is a good demonstration, don't you agree of the effectiveness of our line and what a young woman might be able to do should she find herself in … trying circumstances."

It's not an answer, is it?

Looking down at the lavender eyed woman, Mari offers a hand to help her up. She'll let her introduce herself. Just 'smile' for the camera's. "And you'll see that the fabrics are also able to cleaned so very easily too."

Priscilla takes Mari's hand and rises up to her feet nimbly; she makes wearing heels look so easy it's not fair. She turns to regard Lisa, deeply thankful for her shapeshifting plan. Now if only she can remember the cover name she gave the modeling agency? "Hello, Lisa." she offers. She should be dying from her wounds, but instead other than the blood she's covered in she is unharmed by this point. "I'm Karen Sage." She glances at Mari somewhat meaningfully, hoping the other woman can guess the lie despite how well Pris can sell it to the reporter.

Priscilla bends her knees and crouches, gathering Grayden's hands and helping him up to his feet. "This is Grayden." she offers. "Thanks again, Ms. McCabe for the help. And the job." Winning smile!

Lisa Kelly, now they've had more time to look at her, is a tiny kind of woman with black hair, pale skin, and an overwhelming amount of makeup in an attempt to look her age. She purses her lips, one arm folded across herself while the other holds her microphone. She sees the amount of damage which 'Karen' looks like she's taken, but… "Did you use fake blood for this, Ms. McCabe? Would one of those dresses really protect from such an assault?"

Grayden's a bit out of it, just now coming back to consciousness. He groans, leaning against Priscilla's side, letting her take the majority of his weight.

"We only employ the best, of course." Mari answers 'Karen'. There's not a flicker that anything is out of the ordinary. "Let's just say it's a synthetic, Ms Kelly. Real blood is rather precious, don't you think? But you saw the evidence of what these outfits will protect you from." Mari gestures a little grandly.

"I invite you all to partake of the refreshments, as we get things cleared up. I'll be around to answer questions shortly. And thank you Graydon, for such a convincing demonstration."

"Come along, Karen. Let's get you cleaned up."

Mari sweeps from the room with the group following. Her PR person, stepping in to start answering questions.

The police will arrive anytime soon, to be met by Mari's security people with a request to keep the collateral damage to a minimum.

'Karen' nods. "Yes, Ma'am." she offers, and continues to support and guide Grayden as they make their way through the curtains to the backstage area right behind Mari. "Sorry for the mess." she murmurs to the woman. She doesn't try to explain things just yet. But she is open to explaining some of it; after all, the woman responsible for this got away and is likely to target Mari again.

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