Rocked Music

It all started down the subway in Holborn. A woman dressed with far too much class to be a busker, but taking the spot so many street performers take up on a day to day basis, accompanied by a Rottweiler dog curled up against her side. She drew bow against string to send out soft sombre tones through the hustle and bustle of rush hour Empire. Every note striking a little spot in the back of minds, enough to draw eyes which soon leads to a crowd. A gather of every day people around the modern day pied piper, and as the song draws to a close they demand more. And more they would get in exchange for doing her just a little favour... to march with the woman in black. So to the streets this crowd took, headed up by the demonic musician...

Et Cetera had eyes and ears everywhere. Nearly a hundred Etties lived separately in Empire City these days, spread all around town and able to get information. Always more information. When the closest one saw the woman in black, leading what looked to be a mob, the others all knew within minutes. And those that could, those that weren't occupied, began working their way over for what they expected was going to be a riot. "Was there something in the news we missed?" One Ettie asked another as they came closer to the growing crowd. "Nothing that would cause a crowd like this. Maybe some internet prank?" "I doubt it..." The talked amongst themselves quietly, still keeping out of sight in alleyways or off to the side as their numbers grew.

Red Hornette followed along with the crowd, her new costume, a skin-tight red bodysuit, still wet from earlier, feeling a little perplexed as to why she didn't just go to the dojo to change.

Threnody had amassed thirty...forty... maybe even fifty people in the crowd. People who weren’t too sure why they were following this woman, but the music she played was far too enchanting to miss. Along side her the big dog padded along, keeping head high to look out for trouble, to protect his mistress as they continued the walk. And soon the destination came into view, The Empire Times Radio station. "Rush hour... a million people must be listening to their radios right now Dirge..." she whispers to the dog, and as they walk she begins to play once more, people coming out to view the crowd gradually joining it.

Red Hornette listened to the music, trying to figure out just what was so addictive about it... maybe that was just it... the sense that the melody always had something more to come.

Et Cetera circled as dozens now. Thirty Etties had arrived to the summons, each dressed differently save for the fedora and trenchcoat they wore to have 'unification' and help confuse their enemies when actual fighting began. They could hear her music, but to their ears there was a dissonant, terrible strain behind the music. Like the violinist had an extra string that was not meant to be played and it irritated the duplicator. Finally, one of them stepped out from the crowds, moving into the path of Threnody and her horde. Wearing her uniform from the flower shop, she pointed down the street and shouted, "What are you up to?"

Red Hornette blinked at the interloper and realized there were more of them. Her first thought was to ask the person in the trenchcoat who they thought they were, but then she found herself pondering the person's question and agreeing with it.

Threnody came to a halt not far at all from the radio station, the single Ettie in the way of her goal. The large dog padded its way in front of her, growling low as it stared down the woman, but Threnody smiled a cruel little smile "Giving my fans exactly what they want... won't you listen?" she whispered and drew her string to bow in a tight flurry of movements, an unbeat and fast Capriccio, a sudden renewal of her spell... the crowd behind her seemed to change, to get angry, that this person was stopping Threnody in her path, and soon surge passed the woman towards the Ettie.

Red Hornette felt suddenly compelled to push the person in the trenchcoat out of the way and surged forward with the crowd, still confused by her own actions even as she shoved the interloper.

Et Cetera winced at the sound of it. The infernal whispers of the music were opposed to the nature of the Etties, leaving them essentially immune, but very irritated by the music. As the crowd surged forward, so did they, coming in from all sides towards the crowd. Outnumbered, perhaps, but ready for a scrap. "Get the musician!" The one in the front shouted, drawing her knife and flicking it open. "I'd never have thought of that!" Another Ettie yelled in reply, pulling her own knife free. The flickering of dozens of butterfly knives works as a little musical whisper under the violin notes.

Red Hornette’s eyes widened at the sight of knives being drawn, stepping into a sidekick aimed at the nearest bearer of a weapon. "Oh no you don't!"

Threnody stood her ground, the centre of crowd of innocent passersby, and one stray Danger Doll. The faster the woman played, the more sudden those notes came, the more enthralled the people under the pied pipers spell became. The notes whispering words of anger and hate into their ears, a tone of utter disaster, ruin them.

Red Hornette spun away from her kick and aimed an open palm strike at the next person with a knife, activating the taser in the striking glove.

Et Cetera started to flow together, their minds synchronizing to the dance of combat so each Ettie was now part of a single, inhuman mind dictating their side of the battle. The Etties were not strong, but they were agile, and they had fought lifetimes of battles already. Hornette's kick sent one flying backwards, but she rolled back over her shoulder and sprang to her feet without much stress shown. "You're better than many," she chirped, and the other Ettie finished the sentence as she bent back under the palm strike. "But there are many many of us."

Threnody played faster and faster, the bow building up so much friction it seemed to spark flames, a lick of fire that ignites the air around her in a demonic blaze "Darlin... this is just the overture..." she whispers out over the music, but it seems to carry across the crowd. And the fire that burns invigorated the crowd under her spell, it hyped them up, and pushed them to their limits and beyond. From businessmen in suits, to a certain cheerleader in the crowd, they would feel like they could accomplish anything. Threnody had large meat shields on her side to protect her, and the crowd moved with her in the centre, pushing their way closer to the radio station as briefcases and skateboards were swiped and smacked at the heroine(s) direction.

Red Hornette narrowed her eyes in a look of frustration for an instant before her jaw set and she clenched her fists, opening her pursed lips suddenly wide to let out a piercingly shrill squeal of anger, shattering glass in a parked car and capable of temporarily deafening those around her, perhaps even making them collapse in pain.

Et Cetera was everywhere. Trenchcoats and fedoras and the flashing edge of knives. They were outnumbered, not a condition they were used to, and their only advantage was their single mind. Etties dodged attacks, tricking followers into hitting each other, yanked neckties off of men's throats and used them to tie wrists, ankles, and bind struggling, music-beckoned men and women to cut back on their numbers. They spread back at Hornette's howl, clutching their ears and whimpering as they realized there was another meta in the group. Shifting into the crowd of similarly deafened followers, the Etties got a new plan of attack for dealing with Hornette: fall back.

Arik Cabral watched things happen in quiet surprise.

Red Hornette blinked as her own squeal reverberated in her ears, overriding the music that had so enthralled her. She shook her head and suddenly looked back over her shoulder for the source.

Threnody winced at the loud scream from the so far ordinary teen cheerleader in the crowd, and for just a second the music faltered, though it still rung in the ears of all those enthralled by her spell. There was a loud howl from the musician’s dog as they pushed finally to the doors of the radio station, and with a push glass shattered and the remaining crowd gathered around the entrance. The last guard. "All we need is a minute, a minute to sow the song into the minds of millions..." she monologues as body guards who come to stop her soon end up assisting her in the right direction.

Red Hornette began a tumbling run at the door, cartwheeling into an attempted flip over the ring of people protecting it, hoping to give pursuit of the person who was the source of the music.

Et Cetera forced through the crowd on several angles at once, powerful takedowns sending people face first into the street. Whenever one Ettie drug someone to the ground, another was already leap-frogging over her to hit the next one, all of the Etties focused on driving these four lines towards the heart where the musician was. Several had snatched up weapons of a less dangerous variety, smashing people across the head or back with a skateboard or umbrella. "Ready on plan B?" One of them shouted. "Ready on plan B!" Another dozen answered.

The inside of the large towers were a maze, but Threnody had a handy guide of several enchanted security guards helping her along. It only took a few minutes of brisk walking (honestly these heels were far too expensive) too reach the studio, and in the musician slipped. When Red Hornette reached the door the "On Air" sign was still shut down, but two rather large security guards stood outside with batons in hand "Oi you, this place is out of bounds, ain’t no public allowed in here. Ms Threnody is about to perform!"

Napalm Jenny, half the city away, tosses a cardboard box at her radio when whatever was playing previous was stopped. "The crap's up with this piece of junk."

Red Hornette made a face at the guards, realizing they had been enthralled, but not wanting to hurt them if she could help it. "I mean you don't understand... she's done something to you... snap out of it... and let me in!"

The two approached the woman, pretty much taking up the length of the corridor when they worked in unison. A distant look in their eyes as one batted his nightstick against his own hand. "Girl unless you want a face for the radio you better leg it outta here." one snarls, before the other wastes no time in pushing forward, a fire in his eyes as he raises up the nightstick and sweeps it down at the Danger Deb.

Red Hornette ducked under the sweep of the nightstick and somersaulted away, clenching her fists as she came to her feet. "I mean I didn't want to do this, but I'm going to have to taze you now!" She pointed with a gloved hand and prepared to pop into a tumbling run.

The guard was a bit off balanced from the missing, he didn’t quite expect it as the stick flowed through and hit nothing at all, a stagger to the right made him an easy target for the nimble Danger Deb. However just as she began her run any music was cut off by loud bang and a smell of smoke as the other guard discharged his gun in the direction of Red. "Nobody must stop her..."

Red Hornette was mid-step into beginning her run when she appeared to be punched in the midsection by invisible fists. "Ungh... ooph... nngh..." The shots echoed in the hall as the leaden punches drove the little body in the red bodysuit back against the wall behind, her limbs jerking about like a ragdoll puppet with tangled strings.

Shots were fired one after the next, unloading the remainder of the bullets at the girl until all the gun could make were several loud clicks, the enchanted guard still firing long after all the rounds were finished off. The pair breathed for a second as Red was shoved hard from every shot against the wall, surely that would take down just a cheerleader.

Red Hornette lurched violently about as the rapid fire of the bullets pounded into to her, pinning her up against the wall. There was a look of disbelief on her face as the gun began to click instead of fire. She blinked as if trying to register what had happened and then crumpled to the floor in a heap, sprawling awkwardly with one hip thrust up against the wall.

The mind-controlled guard was content, and before this day he had probably never fired off a round, but today trained shots were to kill, to eliminate anyone who would get in the way of Threnody. And like trained pets they resumed their position on either side of the door to the radio studio, believing that the Danger Deb wouldn’t be getting back to her feet any time soon. And as they did this the "On Air" sign flicks from off to on, a dull glow of red lighting up the corridor.

Red Hornette lay on the floor gurgling for several seconds as if dying though in their current state this apparently mattered not to the enthralled security guards, but then a gloved hand reached out and she forced herself up, chest beneath the hornet emblem on the bulletproof red bodysuit heaving as she got to hands and knees. She was going to have some nasty purples splotches across her front in the morning. She sputtered. "I mean... lucky for me... I got... this new costume today..."

Et Cetera enacted Plan B. "I'm gonna lose my job for this..." The Ettie at the power station whined, still looking at the message on her cell phone as if expected a follow up message to say 'lol jk.' None had come, though, and no other Ettie would send this message if it was important. With a sigh at her 'employee of the month' mug, she yanked down on the switch that controlled the circuit for the radio station. Halfway across town, the radio tower shut down, along with a city block around it.... and a moment later, came right back up, the grid switching automatically to a different circuit to 'maintain critical infrastructure.' "W-what the hell!?"

Red Hornette gasped as the lights went out, but clenched her teeth and forced herself to take advantage of the darkness, stumbling forward with the intent of macing the two guards before they could realize she was alive and find her in the darkness. "I mean I can't let her enthrall half the city..."

Threnody took position by the microphone and begun to play that sombre song once again. Bow pulled back and forth over strings as flicks of demonic flames slowly lit up the dim studio. Airwaves began to fill with her enchanting song, a million radios spread across Empire are interrupted with their daily listening to instead be treated to a Threnody by a pied piper. For a brief moment there was a break in the transmission, a disruption as power went down, but only able to skip a few notes as back up power was restored. Outside the very room the guards drew their eyes back to the Danger Deb on the floor "You should have stayed like us..." and once more moved to loom over the lass.

Napalm Jenny muttered half way across town, tapping her earbuds and fiddling with cables at the constant disruptions in the music today. "The hell is going on down there... can't they get any of their crap to work right..." she grumbled, "And since when did this station play this kinda stuff... whatever."

Red Hornette no longer lay where the guards expected her when the lights came on and a second later they could see little for the mace being sprayed in their faces. "I'm sorry guys, but you're going down! I've got to stop that woman!"

Et Cetera continued with the near-end of plan B. If the power couldn't be cut remotely, they'd cut it locally. The Etties surged not up towards where the musician was, but instead fought their way through the building's engineering side, where far fewer individuals had been entranced by the song. Most of them held back the followers that were trying to get in after them, but five who really new what they were doing dashed down hallways, picked locks, and checked rooms in their search for the circuit breakers. "Gotta hurry!" "I KNOW!" "I know you know!" "Then why the hell did you say it?!"

Threnody let her tune carry over the radio waves, the mind warping sombre tones soon caused cars on once busy streets, rush hour traffic to stall, people in the streets to just forget what they were doing. For a brief moment the City was still to take in the beauty of music. The power to influence and move. However outside there was a large thud, as the two security guards who were so enthralled screamed out like school girls at mace in the face, dropping with a bang and leaving the Danger Deb just a door away from the villainess who had her under control just a few minutes ago.

Red Hornette dashed to the door of the studio, ignoring the pain in her midsection, planning to burst in and stop the demonic playing of the fiddler inside. "Stop that music now! I mean unless you're ready for a duet?" she demanded in her shrill voice.

Et Cetera found what they're after, having broken into smaller groups to cover more ground. As the last two defenders separating Threnody from Hornette went down, the lights went off again. And this time, they stayed off. Emergency lights turned on, washing the inside of the building in red light so people could try and escape. But the tower was dead, and radios across the city got only static as the Etties concluded their plan B. "I hope she finds a way to keep her job..." one of them mutters as they stand in the near darkness.

Threnody twisted her hair to one side as the door was burst on down, and then just as the woman was about to speak the lights cut off as the power went out, but the dim glow of red was offset by the flames in the eyes of the musician, something which didn’t quite belong. "No.... no..." she growled as the radios all around cut to static, the transmission dropped and one by one across the city those who had fallen under her spell gradually wake up in a moment of confusion. "NO... NO... they're MY fans... you cant stop me...." she snarled to the cheerleader heroine and sliced at her with razor sharp bow.

Napalm Jenny snapped out of her dazed state as her earbuds blast her ears with static. "Uugh... What the hell. Screw this, I'm listening to a station that can work their damn machines."

Red Hornette just stood there, a girl in red bathed in red light, faced off with the fiddler and her dog. She pointed a gloved finger. "Okay! Put down the weapon... I mean fid... yikes!" She staggered back as the bow opened up the front of her costume across her chest just below the hornet emblem over the left breast. The tips of her pert breasts pushed out through the opening. "Okay, you're going down!"

Et Cetera starts regrouping, restraining the last of the still entranced followers from the initial song and starting to move their way up the building. They secured room after room with clockwork precision, closing on the broadcast chambers they hoped would still have the unknown musician secured inside.

Threnody twisted her bow to the side, and followed the first slash with a quick sweep to the right, but the woman was no physical fighter, this was rage spilling over as a plan crumbled apart. The pristine woman was now a mess, with a flare of hair as emotions got the better of her. "You're not gonna stop me! You're... You're... just a cheerleader!" she snarled out as the dog stood by her side snarling in unison.

Red Hornette was worried by the growling dog even as she faced off with the angry woman. She whipped off her belt as she took measure of the second slash of the bow, attempting to step inside behind the swipe, wrap her belt around the wrist and twist it behind the Threnody. "Okay! I mean we'll just see about that!"

Threnody was spun around by the woman, she wasn’t nimble nor was she quick, she relied on the masses doing her bidding for her. And here alone in the studio she only had one, the Rottweiler leaped at Red, snarling to protect its mistress, diving to bite at the woman’s hand. "Dirge! Sic her! Kill this... nnngh... wannabee!"

Et Cetera had zipcuffs. Lord did they have zipcuffs. Dozens of men and women were restrained in their wake as they closed on the sound booth. "Massed mind-control..." one mutters. "Did you hear that off-key note?" "How could I NOT have heard it if you heard it?" "Shush, it was rhetorical. The song is supernatural. Has to be. That's why it didn't work on us." Another laughs as they slow their approach. "You and your theories. How do you know we're not aliens? Or some government project?" "Come off it, we've gotta be supernaturals..."

Red Hornette squealed in terror as the dog attacked her, taking her to the floor, teeth biting into the black glove that covered her wrist. The sound of her voice caused even the dormant speakers in the room to feedback and blow as she writhed on the floor with the large dog on top of her. "AiyeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"

Threnody staggered free from the tight grip as Dirge sunk his teeth in against the cheer leader, the woman stumbling forward only to swiftly bring her hands around to the violin once more "Well then.. if I cant have the City... I'll settle for youuuuuuUUuu...." she is cut off as that piercing sonic scream once more squeals out over the sound proof studio, no where else for the notes to go, and as such causes Threnody to fall to her knees, hands over ears. The poor dog experiencing a much worse effect as it yelps and howls loudly.

Red Hornette rolled over and struggled quickly to her feet, shaking the mangled and bloody glove, the fluid from the punctured mace sack in the glove setting her hand on fire with blinding pain. Her eyes watering too much to see she thrust her other hand toward the sound of the dog howling and activated the taser in the glove there.

Threnody was still on her knees, hands over ears, but the loud yelp of her dog cut through the ringing pain as she blinked open eyes to stare to her pet. "Oh Dirge... you poor thing..." she whispered out as she ran over to the knocked out dog, sprawled on the floor and faintly kicking one leg. "Look at you..." she says, looking tired and worn down, a slow hand strokes the length of the beautiful Rottweiler as for a brief moment Threnody was preoccupied with a much greater concern.

Red Hornette fought through the pain and moved quickly to bind the woman's arms behind her back with the belt as she had started to do before. "I mean don't worry... I'm sure the authorities will take good care of your doggie... 'cause that's who I'm turning you over to!"

Threnody was jerked forward, leaning down low against her dog, looking as sombre as the tunes she were playing naught but a moment ago, a bit of fight diminished as she seemed almost docile as hands were restrained behind her back. But for a moment the lights dimmed, a flicker of that red glow vanishing, and a flame aura around Threnody the only light in the room, and as she spoke her lips did not move, an out of body voice which echoed and sent shivers down spines "You pinned your hopes, you pinned your dreams. Because I cannot stop for Death, she will kindly come for me. And she is coming." and then with those words goes limp.

Red Hornette was still trying to catch her breath as she turned the woman over to the authorities in the lobby and explained to them that the dog was locked in the studio down the hall. The policeman she was talking to just kept staring at her chest, eventually reminding her that a couple of sweaty bits were exposed. She quickly covered them with a glove and excused herself to get medical attention.

Et Cetera makes sure, as Hornette is leaving the studio, to give her a solid punch in the face, before being told by another Ettie 'she was being mind-controlled.'

Red Hornette adds a bloody nose to her list of injuries.

Et Cetera scattered in the aftermath, returning to their various jobs. The one at the power plant managed to keep her job, as her manager had been listening to the radio when the song came on and thus was very confused and disoriented and accepted her nonsense explanation about the power just 'going out for no reason.'

(May 2011)