Log Title: One of the Family
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Date: 1 February 2017
As logged by Major Bludd
Carmen "Raya" Alonso is in Mexico City, visiting her aunt Margarita and her uncle Jose. It was supposed to be a short, week-long visit, but with LA falling to Cobra, Raya elected to stay. Now, she divides her time between pacing the streets and holed up in the apartment of her extended family, banging out her worry and frustrations on a set of drums covered with fabric to muffle the sound. Today her pink hair is pulled back into a ponytail and she hasn't even bothered getting out of her pajamas.
As he rides in a taxi toward the address Kimber gave him, Bludd ponders what he's going to say to her bandmate. Raya was among the Holograms kidnapped by Cobra several years ago, at his behest. Just because Kimber forgives him doesn't mean the others will be half as understanding.
The cab pulls up half a block from the house. Bludd pays the driver and stands watching the vehicle drive away for a few moments. With a sigh, he stuffs the paper with the address into his pocket and heads off down the sidewalk toward Raya's family's house.
Raya huffs in frustration. No news, nothing productive to do -- it's driving her crazy. She has to get out of the house. She quickly pulls on some outside clothes -- floral tights, a matching shirt, and a dark jacket and skirt. Her family isn't home, so she grabs her keys as she prepares to head out. Opening the door, she steps out onto the porch and doesn't even look around before closing the door behind her and turning around to lock it.
Bludd spots Raya as she's locking the door to the house. Why do all these performers have pink or purple hair? In dark grey slacks, a midnight blue dress shirt and a nondescript leather bomber-style jacket, he's not as easy to spot as she is, but he doesn't look a particular threat... unless of course Raya recognises him. He knows he's got his work cut out for him. He only hopes she won't immediately run for the police.
He pauses when he reaches the house and calls out to Raya. "Beg pardon. Wondered if I might have a word."
GAME: Raya PASSES an INTELLIGENCE roll of Average difficulty.
Raya jumps! She recognizes that voice -- it can't be! She turns, and backs up against the door. She doesn't quite recognize him at first - he looks a lot different in mufti -- but she remembers that voice, and suddenly wishes she had mace or something on her -- or at least a good pair of drumsticks. "You -- you stay away!" she warns. "I'll scream!" she threatens lamely, glancing to her right and left to see if there's anyone else around.
- Ah, shit.* Bludd immediately holds up his hands, palms out, to show he's not holding a weapon. "I'm not here to hurt you, Ms Alonso," he says calmly. "You've got no reason to believe me, I know, but it's very important I speak to you." He gives a quiet sigh. "You won't believe this either, but Kimber sent me."
Raya scowls. "What? Kimber? What have you done with her, you monster?" Raya adjusts the keys in her hand, making them into a bit of a spiked-gauntlet should she have to punch at Bludd's good eye to get out of this situation. "You'd better get out of here! My uncle Jose will be home any minute, and he's big and scary!" she lies lies lies. Again she glances around, her breath coming in frantic gasps and gulps.
Bludd keeps his voice low and his tone calm, though with each word it's getting to sound more like resigned than merely calm. "Nothing, love, nothing." Bludd sits down on the pavement and rests his hands on his knees. "Kimber's fine, the girls at the mansion are fine." He glances around a moment, as if concerned of the wisdom of speaking further out in the open. "But Synergy isn't. You're good with electronics, right? I kept her memory module from burning up, but she needs ... a body, so to speak. I came to ask for your help."
Raya opens her mouth, closes it, and opens it again. "You know about Synergy?" she finally asks, looking confused. "You know what happened to her? What do you mean, 'burning up'?" Although obviously conflicted, curiosity and concern seems to be winning out over fear. Cautiously she approaches Bludd, stopping just out of arm's reach. "What's going on?" she asks at last. "Why do you need my help? Aja would be more help than I."
"Supposin' you know Cobra's taken over L.A.," Bludd replies, relaxing a bit but not moving from his seat on the pavement. "Somebody keeps setting buildings on fire downtown, and, well, Starlight Music was one of 'em. Synergy asked Kimber for help, and I went out to try and help." He tugs back the cuff of his left sleeve and runs his thumb over the necklace wrapped around his wrist. "The whole machine was massive. No way one man could get that out from up on the whatever floor it was on, even if the place weren't on fire. But Synergy told me how to get the memory module out. That's safe. Kimber has it." He shrugs a bit as she mentions Aja. "Could be I mixed up who's the electronics whiz and who's not," he admits. "But I also wanted to let you know how Kimber and the girls are, and ask if you know of a way to get in contact with Rio or the other Holograms."
"It's... I appreciate you seeking me out, but why would Kimber trust you, of all people?" She turns to look at her family's house, and then back at Bludd, clearly torn. Her eyes are drawn to necklace wrapped around Bludd's wrist. "Did... Kimber give you that?" she asks tremulously. There are two possible narratives here -- one, Kimber trusts him, and everything will be OK. The other, Bludd killed Kimber and took the necklace, and Raya is next. Raya hopes against hope she's right about which option is true. "Do you wanna --- come inside and talk?" she finally offers, screwing up her courage and swallowing her breath.
Bludd nods slowly, getting cautiously to his feet. "She did. And it is a rather odd thing that's happened, between me and her. And yes, I think inside the house is a safer and more comfortable place to talk." He dusts the back of his slacks off with his hands, smiling a bit sheepishly as he does so.
Raya somewhat uncomfortably invites Major Bludd into her aunt and uncle's home. She unlocks the door and lets him inside, glancing around briefly before closing the door. Once inside, she moves as far away from him as she can in the living room, and leans against a chair. "OK," she says softly. "Tell me what exactly is going on, and why Kimber gave you that necklace." Raya sticks out her chin slightly, and tries to look tough.
Bludd remains standing near the door and clasps his hands in front of him. He takes a deep breath before he begins to speak. "Dunno if you heard about Kimber being kidnapped by aliens," he says, inwardly cringing at the insanity of the statement. "If she didn't tell you: she was kidnapped by aliens. Well, one alien. Floaty guy with tentacles everyplace. I was kidnapped by him too. That's how we came to meet again after..." He pauses and gives Raya an earnest, apologetic look. "For what it's worth, I'm very sorry about the kidnapping thing," he says quietly, ducking his head ever-so-slightly. "I hope you'll find it to forgive me one day. Anyway, long story short, we worked together against the alien, who eventually let us go. But he didn't send Kimber back to L.A. We both wound up in the middle of Australia. We... we became friends." He pauses, leaving out for the moment the fact the relationship is a bit more than just friends, and continues, "On the way to the airport she gave the necklace to me."
"Why?" Raya asks. "Why would she give that to you? Besides Starr's earrings, those are the only Holoemitters we have... why would she give that to you?" she repeats. "And what does that have to do with Cobra in LA, and Starlight Studios? And Synergy?" Raya asks question after question breathlessly, her forced calm quickly starting to crack. At least she's not screaming, however, and seems to actually be listening to Bludd's answers.
"The only thing it has to do with Cobra in L.A. is the fact that that's where Kimber's at right now. I'm not working with Cobra right now. I didn't know they were planning to grab so many cities all at once like that. If I'd known I'd have advised against it. Spread themselves way too thin that way. But as for why..." Bludd takes another slow, deliberate breath. "You're not going to like the answer to that. You've got every reason to hate and distrust me, just like she did. But we got to know each other. Got to like each other." A bit of colour touches his cheeks briefly. "Kind of a lot." He studies his shoes. "Kimber wanted to be sure I'd be safe, so she gave me the necklace so I'd have the holograms as a defence, should I ever need it." He looks up again. "I told her what the legal ramifications were. She didn't care. Wouldn't listen. So I dropped it, and I accepted the necklace." He sighs. "I talked to Synergy a few times before L.A. was taken. I didn't set Starlight Studios on fire. I ran into a burning building to rescue a computer. A very important computer."
Raya's pretty eyes widen. "What?" she gasps. "Really?" Raya moves to drop into a chair, rubbing her forehead as she takes all this in at once. "You and Kimber? Really? What about Stormer?" She then shakes her head and waves her hand in a 'never mind -- I don't want to know' gesture. "So, you saved Synergy, but need someone to rebuild her? Like I said, that's more of a job for Aja or Rio, but I'd stay away from Rio if I were you... but I might be able to talk to Aja on your behalf." She frowns, pondering logistics as she tries to get her head around this dizzying turn of events.
Bludd's all too glad to drop the subject of his relationship with Kimber. "Yes, as I said, I saved the memory module, but without the rest of the machine to allow her to communicate or create holograms, she's unable to help any of us." He smirks at the mention of Rio. "I wasn't anticipating any of these meetings being easy," he says. "I had planned to try to contact all the Holograms and Rio as well."
Raya grins. "Well, I'll start off at least, and help you get an in." She picks up her phone, and calls Aja. The phone rings a moment, and then Aja picks up. "Hello! Aja!" She listens a moment, and then says, "Yeah, and you'll never guess who I have here -- but first -- Kimber is OK, and Synergy is down, but will be OK, as long as you can help. Have you heard from Jerrica?" Raya smiles at Bludd as she listens on the phone to her friend.
Bludd smiles back, pondering the local time where Aja is if she's really in Paris, as Kimber said. He glances at his wristwatch, then moves to sit in a chair opposite Raya.
Raya nods to Aja, even though of course Aja can't see her. "Well, hopefully we can find her next. I'm sure she'll be happy to know that Kimber is OK." While Aja talks, the star necklace around Bludd's wrist begins to glow. There is a flash in the room, and suddenly there is a tall purple woman in the room, with long, ankle-length blue and violet hair. "Raya! Sebastian!" the familiar voice says. "I'm so glad to see you're both OK. I believe I owe you a world of thanks, and my life, Sebastian."
Bludd glances to the necklace, his eye widening in surprise as it begins to glow, and he springs to his feet as Synergy appears in the room. "Wha... what? How're you-- " He stops himself and shakes his head for a moment. "I was glad to help, Synergy. And I'm glad to see you, too. Did Kimber manage to work you up something so you could project while we're trying to get a new, er, body, built?"
Raya gasps, "iDios mío! Aja, Synergy is here! Kimber must have gotten her working somehow!"
Synergy smiles to Raya and Sebastian. "Yes. Taria apparently was able to gain the assistance of an Autobot to help assemble me a temporary backup system out of old spare parts until a new me can be built. The feat is pretty remarkable! Kimber sends her warmest regards, by the way." Synergy gives the Raya and Bludd another gentle, almost maternal smile.
"An Autobot? Amazing." Bludd beams at the mention of Kimber's name. "Please give Kimber my best," he implores, uncharacteristically allowing his affection for the keytarist to show in his expression. "Does that mean you'll be able to use your holograms if I should have need of 'em while I'm trampin' around lookin' for... Holograms?" He chuckles at his own inadvertent joke.
"Yes, Sebastian," Synergy answers, "Although my connection is spotty so I'd avoid dangerous situations until I can be sure I won't disappear again. In the meantime, I'll pass along your regards."
"I'm so glad you're back, Synergy, and Aja is as well! I could just hug you!"
"That seems to be the consensus," Synergy replies with an amused smile. "I wish I could hug you all as well. What has happened since I saw you last?"
"I'll be sure to make my requests sparingly," Bludd promises. "Only news I've got is that I found Raya here in Mexico City. Managed to sneak out of L.A., which is still occupied by Cobra, sad to say."
"Aja is in Las Vegas, and Shana is in Paris. Both should be safe from Cobra, for now. We don't know where Jerrica is," Raya admits worriedly. She turns to Bludd. "She wasn't at Starlight Studios when it burned down, was she?" she asks with growing panic.
"I was at Starlight when it caught fire, Raya. She wasn't there. Wherever she is, I'm sure she's OK. Jerrica is very resourceful," she assures Raya soothingly. Synergy then looks at Bludd. "Taria is asking for my help in LA, but I have the same concerns regarding my help with her. They have an Autobot helping them, but he is rather small, and I fear might not be much protection."
"I'll head back to L.A. if they're feeling like they need somebody to look out for 'em," Bludd says. "Kimber was worried about the other Holograms, but if we know where they all are and that they're okay, and you've got at least a temporary solution for your new... you... I want to help out however I can. If being in L.A. is where I can do the most, that's where I'll go." He frowns. "A small Autobot, you say?" His expression grows distant for a moment.
"Let me go with you," Raya says suddenly. "If you're going to look after Kimber and Taria, I want to do, too! I'll leave my aunt and uncle a note!" She says to Aja, "I'll call you back," and hangs up, jumping off the couch and heading back to her room to throw some floral-print clothes into a bag.
"As much as I hate for you to have to retrace your steps and head back into enemy territory, I would feel better if you were there to protect them, Sebastian," Synergy admits, sounding a bit guilty. "At least until this Cobra thing blows over."
"You're not going to be able to call out from L.A. once we get there," Bludd advises Raya as she dashes off. "They've got the whole city in a commo blackout, last I heard." He glances to Synergy, then to the necklace around his wrist. "I imagine this transmitter is helpin' you appear to us right now. And I don't mind at all. Though I don't know that Cobra's gonna just 'blow over'. Their occupation strategy has got a few holes in it, but nothing we could exploit on our own. Probably going to have to depend on the U.S. military to pull the States' bacon out of the fire this time." His expression sours. "Can't say I have a lot of confidence on that score. But I'll keep the ladies safe," he tells Synergy gravely, "or I'll die trying. There's nothing I wouldn't do for Kimber. Nothing."
"OK!" Raya calls from the back room. "I'll text everyone and let them know the plan before we leave!" she says.
Syngery, meanwhile, frowns slightly, taken aback by Bludd's grim resolve, but appreciating his dedication nonetheless. "Well, if there's anything I can do, please, let me know. Security seems to be more your expertise than mine -- I'm really just a glorified music synthesizer," she says modestly.
Bludd smiles at the purple holographic woman. "You're a lot more than that to the ladies. Of that I'm quite sure. And you've been more accepting of me than I could have hoped for. Don't think I haven't taken note of that." The smile grows sheepish for a moment. "Kimber told me, back in Australia, that I'm part of her family now," he adds quietly. "I'm not taking it for granted. If security is what's needed most, I'm the man for the job. I did these ladies a world of harm not so long ago. I'll be making up for that for the rest of my life. But I'm glad to have the opportunity to do so."
"Kimber accepts you, and I love her like a daughter," Synergy smiles. "If she accepts you as one of our family, I do as well, no matter your past."
Raya comes back with an expensive-looking floral-print bag. "I wouldn't go THAT far," she disagrees. "But I'm at least willing to give you a chance. You're right -- you OWE us!" she insists, although she softens the assertion with a slight smile. "Are you ready to go?" Raya asks Bludd. "I've texted the rest of the Holograms and I'm ready to move out."
Bludd looks at Synergy with an expression of unmasked gratitude. "Thank you," he says sincerely. He sobers as Raya returns, nodding in agreement with her. "I'm ready whenever you are. Let's get back to L.A."