2019-09-25 - Fabulux Creations


Priscilla investigates one of Rivera's business contacts.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Sep 25 00:22:00 2019
Location: Fabulux Creations, Financial District

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Most of Rivera's arcane contracts were with hellish spirits, but some of them were with other humans, other fashion companies. She promises wealth and fame, in exchange for obedience and adulation. Several different contracts have been made with Fabulux Creation, a small studio on White Street, just north of the Financial District. With such thorough dealings, the people at Fabulux must know something of value about Rivera.

Hence, investigation. Asking a few questions and probing a few minds can't hurt. The studio is set in a space just above a small but chic cafe, which has already started on the pumpkin spice lattes. It's a symbiotic relationship: people who come to the cafe see advertising for the studio; people who come to the studio have to pass through the cafe.

What's Priscilla's plan for getting in?

Research, such as it is, is no strength of Priscilla's. She is not comfortable with most computers, or with reading in general given her difficulties. Nevertheless, she can usually muddle painfully through some level of this, enough to figure out what this 'Fabulux Creation' is and what it purports to do. Publicly, at least.

What she is absolutely no good at is things like 'who owns the company, who founded it, how much did it make last year' and those sorts of questions unless they are answered forthrightly and openly on the corporate website (and assuming Friday is smart enough to read it to her coherently.)

What Pris is better at is gaining information from other people. She decides going as herself might not be the best option, so she assumes a very differentiated appearance that is equally visually striking: that of a towering (for a woman) six-foot three-inch short white-haired blonde with piercing blue eyes and a well-rounded but visibly athletic build. Thankfully, she has more than a few of Lucy's outfits handy at the safehouse in one of the storage closets. Pris is betting that if these people are serious about pretending to be a good photography studio they will leap at the chance to interface with so strikingly beautiful and unusual a model.

Pris' hope is that her own warmth, charisma, empathy and telepathy might be enough with that opening to get her more. She can at least try. But she does make sure to leave a message with Jimmy, Sarah and Mari that she is 'going in' to check this out, offering a date and time and requesting if they have not heard back from her in forty-eight hours that it might be time to follow up.

Priscilla doesn't need a mask the way most do; with a little shapeshifting, her face itself is the mask, and nobody suspects. They just try to take their jaws off the floor. The hole-in-the-wall cafe does moderate business around her — perhaps a bit better than usual, with people glimpsing her through the front windows, coming to get a better look, and staying for the coffee.

For a while, nobody approaches her directly. It gives her time to watch people coming and going from the fashion studio above. The workers from Fabulux come down here for their breaks, naturally: there's decent food as well as good coffee. It's easy to recognise them, from the vibrant colours of their clothing.

Eventually, one such man — a tall and skinny man with brown hair flowing to his shoulders and tiny glasses — comes to her table. "Pardon?" A slight French accent; he's been in America awhile, but still holds onto that identity. "I have been building my courage for some time; I would never forgive myself if I let a vision of such beauty pass me by. I am Fabian de la Croix, a photographer for Fabulux Studios, just upstairs. May I put a face to your name?"

With her talent for spoken language, accents are contemptuously easy for Voodoo. Instead of using her own accent, or the accentless chill of Lucy's own, she affects a rolling German accent. "Ja? I think, yes, you mean name for face?" There is a tiny, pale echo of humor in her eyes, but very little in her expression, proving that she can feel a thing and choose whether or not to express it. "Lucie Brenneka." she offers as she uncoils lazily to her feet with a supple, easy athletic grace that only accentuates her display, then offers her hand to the Frenchman. "Photographer, yes?" she questions.

Meanwhile, Priscilla is using this closer contact to delve a bit more deeply. This man does seem to believe in and think of himself in keeping with the cover identity of the studio. What are his other surface thoughts? Is there any sign of something that doesn't fit the visible pattern of expectations?

"Ah!" Fabian says, laughing goodnaturedly as his slipup is caught. "I apologise; the sight of you makes it hard to think. A pleasure to meet you, Lucie." And, of course, he takes her hand not for a shake, but for a kiss. That's not something that all Frenchmen do, but it's certainly an affectation that suits the rest of his demeanour. And since she hasn't pushed him away, he slips into a seat at her table. "Oui, oui. I make the designs and the models shine together, each bringing out the other's best. And you, madame…" He makes a show of looking her up and down. "You would bring a lot of best. Could I interest you in seeing the studio upstairs?"

Many of Fabian's surface thoughts are mixed up in adoration. Yes, there's the obvious responses which Priscilla always inspires, but it's not just aimed at her. There's a touch of idol worship to it, and it feels… unnatural. Like it's a fuchsia overlay on his mind, rose-tinted lenses covering his eyes. A focused admiration for one woman. That had been some of the contract's terms: adulation for Molly Rivera.

'Lucie' remains standing for a bit, almost as if she's grown tired of sitting for the moment. But she does not begrudge Fabian his taking one of the other seats at her table; it's not her table, merely the one she has been using while here. "Nothing I do, any better than this. Yes, I will see your 'upstairs.'" The affectation of the accent requires her to be careful of her thoughts, as it is not her natural pattern.

Sensing the magical affectation of adulation for Molly Rivera in his mind, Priscilla is careful to inspect for anything connecting to that, especially anything hungry; that kind of powerful binding is most often used - in her limited experience - to enthrall a hunting companion to winnow out new targets.

Fabian sweeps back up to his feet, tucking the chair back under the table. "Ah yes, wonderful, wonderful! Please, it's right this way."

The walk up the stairs to Fabulux's door gives her a little more time to probe. The 'tone' of the emotions is much like what she's seen from Rivera's other victims. It's the same kind of artificially-implanted feeling as the anger or protectiveness she's seen. But it doesn't seem connected to any hunting drive; the adulation, it seems, is the entire point. Vanity expressed through emotion-binding magic.

The door opens and he ushers her in. Fabulux does much with just a little bit of space. Here, a computer-assisted-design workstation acting as their 'drawing board'; there, a sewing workbench; over there, a rack of different clothing, each item as colourful as the last; over there, a small space with a backdrop and cameras, clearly designed for Fabian's work; at the back, a doorway into a single office room.

Other people mill about at their own work, designing and sewing and modifying. All dressed in bright, striking colours. And all with that overlay on their emotions, driving them towards Rivera.

And there is one more thing, one more dedicated bit of space in the crowded studio. A pedestal with a few framed photographs gathered on it — some of Molly by herself, though not modelling; some of her shaking hands with the people of Fabulux. It's like a little shrine.

'Lucie' climbs the stairs with a loose-limbed and easy grace and sensuality that is, honestly, wholly different than Priscilla's, simply because the very construction of her body is different. So too, her attitude. There is definitely a disdainful, cool edge to her demeanor that is almost non-existent in Pris' makeup.

And Pris does not hesitate to rifle through the rest of Fabian's thoughts along the way. Her telepathy is powerful, but it is not exactly deft or a light touch; if he were a more aware sort, it's likely Fabian would notice a pressure building in his skull, odd slippages of his conscious thoughts, a sense of miasmic confusion. But it only lasts a minute, and then it fades away.

Up in the studio, 'Lucie' nods to this or that person if they make actual contact, but otherwise completely ignores them. Her only real focus seems to be Fabian … though she misses nothing. Not one iota. And the shrine sickens her, to be sure. These poor fools are only Rivera's puppets!

Perhaps because of the manipulation already weighing on Fabian's mind, or perhaps because he's just not so aware of psychic interferences, he just doesn't seem to notice the way Priscilla probes him. Here, surrounded by others under the same influence and with the shrine in front of him, thoughts of Rivera come to the forefront of his mind.

Priscilla sees them as memories playing out behind his eyes. Molly Rivera, here to meet with the company's owner, visible through a frosted window and into that office space at the back. She wears that garish, salmon skirt suit, and has a silver chain around her neck that hides something under her shirt. It's the same look as in the shrine's photos.

And it highlights something in the present. All these little bits of emotional manipulation come, per Rivera's modus operandi, from one single spirit. Those threads spread outwards from the office. From the owner.

Fabian is totally oblivious, and just sees how 'Lucie' looks at the pictures. "Ah, Molly Rivera. She's the future of fashion. Things have been on the rise around here ever since we partnered with her."

"Really?" 'Lucie' responds drolly, as bored and unimpressed as her persona seems to be about anything and everything. "I've not heard of her. What has she done, yes?" Priscilla, meanwhile, probes enough to determine whether or not said owner is present now, today, back in that office while continuing the tour.

The owner — she pulls the name 'Maximillian de Luxe', which is probably false — is in, presently in that office and on the phone.

At least when talking about Rivera, Fabian seems impervious to Lucie's show of boredom. "She created all these designs! Everything you see in this office, everything we're all wearing. And she got us connected with more manufacturers, more retailers, to get the product out there! She's the future of fashion!" There's something… programmed about that sentence, like hitting a button on a sound board.

"Well then, if she is soooo amazing, why isn't she running the show 'round here?" 'Lucie' asks with droll dispassion and light humor. If the real Lucie saw Pris right now, she'd punch her ticket in two seconds flat for playing her so vapidly airheaded, but it's all part of what she feels is the best 'image' to project to these people to get better intel.

"Who is the boss here? How did they get started, yes?" 'Lucie' questions.

Fabian scoffs. "Why, because she has so many other shows to run! A woman like her can't afford to only make her mark in one place at a time." He smiles at the question and gestures towards the back office door. "Why, that would be Mr. de Luxe, of course. As for how he got his start… ahh, I'll let him tell you his story yourself. If, that is, you'd like an introduction as our newest model?"

"Newest potential, perhaps? Good impressions, and that?" 'Lucie' offers to Fabian. Priscilla is rather amazed these poor folks can get anything at all done this deep into their haze of unreality, but the fashion - while nothing outstanding - isn't terrible. And some of it definitely shows inspirations from McCabe, she would argue. What Emma would say, she hazards no guess, as right now this has more to do with a very different spectrum of involvement.

They may be lost in unreality, but they still are working. The CAD desk is still refining designs; the seamstress is still adjusting the end products; the models still are getting ready for photoshoots — and looking at Priscilla with a touch of envy.

Fabian laughs warmly. "Ah, I'll win you over yet, Lucie!" He steps up to the door, looking through the frosted window, and nods. "The chef" Not 'chief'. "is off the phone. Shall we?" Rather than wait for a response, he raps musically on the door and opens it.

Within, Maximillian de Luxe is a heavyset man with black hair and sharp, grey eyes… and a spirit perched on his head. A lavender thing with a woman's upper body and the legs of a spider. As soon as Priscilla's in sight, she starts weaving another 'thread'; she thinks she's invisible, and Priscilla's just another target for that false adoration.

'Lucie' gives the other models a cool shoulder reception, but does not show them nearly the disdain she probably should for her cover; it's just not in her to be quite that cattily bitchy for no good reason.

Thankfully, Pris had enough warning to suspect she might see something; otherwise, she would never have been able to keep from reacting to the visible presence so thickly, cloyingly miasmic in this room, perched on Luxe's shoulders. 'Lucie' pretends not to notice, but it's not impossible to catch that her eyes track movements that shouldn't be 'there' for her, at least a tiny bit.

"Luxe, yes? Maxmimillian?" 'Lucie' inquires, offering an otherwise disdainful nod towards the man. She's watching. She's aware. And damn … this is going to suck. She lets Fabian draw her closer, closer to Luxe. At the last moment, as she reaches this side of the desk she reaches out with almost blurring speed and seizes Luxe's arms.

At the same moment, 'Lcuie's piercing blue eyes melt away to blazing purple strobes of light and power, as the force of Voodoo's will is unleashed. Here goes nothing. Or everything.

The black-haired man is already looking up at the door from the knocking, but now his eyes are captured by 'Lucie'. "Maximillian /de/ Luxe, please." He rises to his feet. "And you are?"

"Lucie Brenneka," Fabian provides. "A new prospective model, if we can catch her." With a hand on her back, he ushers her into the room. de Luxe offers his hand…

…and instead gets grabbed by the arms. He gasps, frozen in shock for a split-second, before he starts fighting back. Fabian shrieks, stumbling back out of the office. "Police!" he shouts. "Someone call the police!" That sends the shock outwards, everyone frozen like a deer in headlights. It gives Priscilla a little bit of time before the police will even be called, let alone arrive.

Good thing too, because this will not be an easy battle. The spider-thing is all but cemented in de Luxe's mind; with the layers of hero-worship she enforces, it's like she has coccooned de Luxe's real self in silk. Only faintly can Priscilla hear his desire to be free… but there is that desire, and enough of it that she can start warring through. The spider, for her part, skitters onto Priscilla, to attack with sharp jabs of her pedipalps.

Unlike some, Priscilla is not immune to the spider's physical attacks; each strike does actual damage, creates wounds, like stabbing with actual knives. And f**k that HURTS! But Pris expected this was going to hurt. 'Lucie' remains latched onto Luxe, as her power reaches out and starts peeling away layers of taffeta falsehood and lies. The pain this causes Luxe himself is mirrored in her own psyche, with the oh-so-delicious spice of the pain of the wounds being delivered.

And through it all, she has to pretty much stay rooted, right where she is, every iota of her concentration focused on the task at hand as she tries to seize the spider and tear free its anchor to this realm.

Please pardon the blood.

Agony comes from all angles. Severing the spirit from de Luxe is like taking a scalpel to his mind, and there is no anaesthetic that can dull that kind of psychological pain. And for this kind of 'touch' to be possible, she has to open up her senses to the point that the resulting pain from both de Luxe and the spider can flood her. The cuts opening up on her actual body are barely a drop in the ocean in comparison. Seeing the sudden blood appearing at Priscilla's arms — as mysterious as stigmata — roots Fabian to the spot.

But there are others in the office. One of the models comes to see the commotion, and a second later, fumbles her phone into her hand. It's hard to focus enough on the 'real world' to hear it, but she's definitely doing just as Fabian had said. Jeez, why couldn't this have been out in Mutant Town, or somewhere else the police barely venture?

And this is one of several reasons why Priscilla made the decision not to do this in her own shape; so photographs taken of this event won't show the headlining stripper from the Obsidian Club spouting blood from stigmata while wrestling with some jerk in the heart of the Financial District. Also so if Rivera was anywhere around, she wouldn't likely recognize Pris right away.

But Pris us somewhat used to this kind of agony. The others of this type have not taken this long or required this level of work, but she has dealt with some exceedingly nasty possessions in the years since she began with her powers. These imps can be vicious, but none can hold a candle to a true demon. She made it through that, she can make it through this.

Maybe. If she doesn't pass out too soon. But Pris is going to need some serious hamburgers after this. And she can't even do more than passive fast-healing, because all of her concentration is on shredding the possession.

And with that degree of focus, she can't do much to fight back physically, either. So the spider climbs along Priscilla's arm, slashing her up as she goes, trying to force that grip off of de Luxe. As she reaches the sleeve, the effect grows even stranger: she cuts Priscilla's /flesh/ but not her /clothing/, red spots suddenly appearing under the white blouse. The front four legs grip her shoulder while the rear four pull with harsh strength.

But even if that's enough to dislodge one hand, Priscilla still has the link from the other. The spider shrieks shrilly as the connection severs. She stumbles down Priscilla's back, ectoplasm leaking from the trunk that had previously bound her to de Luxe, while thinner threads still connect her to the rest of the office.

Bleeding profusely - though that is slowing, now, starting to staunch once Pris has a braincell or two to spend on considering her physical form - 'Lucie' turns, her right wrist and hand dangling from a thread of skin, very nearly, perhaps more attached by her jacket's sleeve than anything else. Priscilla's power pours out through the latticework of webs, ripping and tearing, shredding the ties that bind the spider to any and all of the rest of the office, purple light still blazing from now-purple eyes.

Those other connections were fragile things, enhanced by — reliant on, really — the seat of authority she'd held from inside de Luxe's mind. It just takes one good blast from Priscilla, and the spider is sent flying, trailing loose ends as she skitters into, and then through the wall. She has decided that discretion is the better part of valour, apparently.

de Luxe groans, beginning to stir. "What happened?" He looks up, and he's immediately shocked. "Fabian, what are you wearing?!" Beat. "And who is this bloody woman?!" Priorities.

Thankfully, once the spider has been banished, Priscilla has enough wherewithall to start shapeshifting herself into some better, less sliced-open semblance of 'Lucie'. But that'll do nothing for all of the blood.

"Lucie Brenneka." the white-haired, blood-splattered woman offers as she turns to face Luxe. "I could not help myself. One look at the horrors that have been inflicted here … even I was affected too strongly." She waves her bloodied arms about.

Wait. Wasn't that one barely hanging on a moment ago?

"I do not think I shall be working here, Fabian. So sorry." 'Lucie' offers. With their minds already confused, Priscilla takes now to dive deeply into Luxe's, looking for the truths only he would know: how did he know Rivera in the first place? What did she offer him to get him to agree? What actually did he end up with as a result? And what else does he know of Rivera now?

In their befuddlement, they aren't going to notice something like 'she's less injured than she seems like she should have been'. Fabian is still blinking over his clothing. Since when does he dress so garishly? Those murmurs spread throughout the office; in this state, they may not even notice if she walks right out, though the police are already on their way.

de Luxe's mind is still open like a gaping wound, making it easier for her to probe through and find what she's looking for. Rivera had approached him; he hadn't known how she'd found this company, but she had, along with others. She offered him success, wealth, power… and somehow, all her words had seemed so much more believable, like she was doing him a favour rather than trying to sell him on something. And truth be told, the business has been doing better since the partnership began, its efforts improved by Rivera's influx of capital and a little supernatural luck.

One thing sticks out as she reviews these memories. Throughout the meeting, Rivera kept playing with that silver chain around her neck. Hanging from it is a key, engraved with the symbol and name of Chase Bank.

Having gained about all she thinks she can, Priscilla decides it is time for 'Lucie' to depart. "I cannot deal with this anymore. I am sorry, Fabian. I must go." And with that, 'Lucie' weaves around those in the way and makes for the stairs. The only thing is, she doesn't go out that way. No one sees her. No one spots a blood-splattered woman. Because Priscilla steps out onto the stairs, door closing behind her, and she strips naked in seconds flat, shapeshifting into another person entirely, all the blood on the inside and an outfit made of her. The clothes, balled up, are carried along in a bundle under her arm until she can reach somewhere to burn them. Best to leave no evidence with a mystic in the mix.

They're befuddled by their minds' recently being freed, and they're not exactly top-notch warriors to start with; though one model tries to grab for her and keep her there, she's gone in seconds, and out the fire escape doors. A quick change, and nobody will suspect a thing.

That's another group of people freed from Rivera's influence… and a little more information. She carries a key, seemingly to a safe-deposit box in a bank. That's good to know.

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