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[CoD] Chronicles of Darkness: Surrender
Topic Started: Jan 23 2018, 03:22 PM (440 Views)
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Sorcerer Seizing Sorcerer

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The world is not what you think.

Beneath skyscrapers' leering gargoyles, factories belching smoke and streets packed with the human throng lurk things we are not meant to see.

Creatures dwell in the shadows and hidden places.

They watch you, stalk you and prey upon your body and soul.

The life you lead is a lie.

Your darkest fears aren't make believe.

They're real.

And now that you have glimpsed this world of darkness...

...there's no place left to hide...


Moment by moment the sound slowly twisted into a wet squelching tone as the knife in his hand repeated its motion again and again. Her shrieking grew to a fever pitch drowning out her earlier pleas for him to just stop so they could talk things over and figure everything out. Her hysteria died out alongside the final draw of the blade as the body it had made into a pincushion slumped to the ground unceremoniously.

"MIKE!" she cried even as the assailant turned to face her.

Instinctively, she turned and fled from the room her feet padding heavily on the central staircase as she rushed upstairs. The knife was dropped and clattered on the floor beside what remained. Carefully, he worked off his letterman jacket and threw it over the thing on the floor.

Reaching behind his back, he drew forth the revolver he had stolen from his father's gun case. Lumbering in cold detachment, he began to follow the direction the young woman had went.

Maybe there was more she could have done.

If it were a horror film, she had broken every rule in the book. But this was really happening. It's easy to judge the situation when everything is laid out on a screen. In the heat of the moment, she had just reacted. Mistakes were made. She knew if it was her now up on that screen, that is what the audience would be thinking. Berating her every decision from the second the whole world fell out from under her.

But she had reacted first and here she was. Thus, she was not surprised at all when the door to the closet in Mike's bedroom opened. She stared up from her hiding place to the gun leveled squarely between her eyes. It all seemed so surreal; like a movie. The credits would roll soon and then the three of them would stand up and rush outside to talk things over. But her reason, knawing at the back of her mind, reminded her she would not be there for the credits.

"Ben," she sobbed with an air of defeat, "Please... you don't have to do this..." She started to raise her arms to put them before her face and do... what? The slight motion stopped and her hands dropped back down to her side.

"Yes, I do," Ben replied as if he understood the situation perfectly, "I'm sorry, Sarah. It's just... it's... what IT said. This is all I have now..."


At that mention, everything made sense, she opened her mouth with a gasp starting to speak. A loud blast sounded out as her body rocked back against the far wall of Mike's closet.

Ben started laughing softly as he raised the still smoking gun and pressed the side of the barrel against his forehead.

Gritting his teeth, he growled in a sort of wild anger and then began to scream at the top of his lungs. The screaming that had started the entire altercation had prompted neighbors to call the cops about a disturbance, but they were already too late. Lowering the gun, Ben fell back into a soft awkward laugh as he looked at what he had done.

"Sarah..." he whispered in a defeated, but loving tone. Hands shaking, he raised the revolver and turned it to press against his chest roughly where he thought his heart was. He began to cry, but he knew deep down that he couldn't turn back anymore.

It was what IT had said.

What else could he do after that?

This was how it had to be now.

Another loud blast sounded out...

Another loud blast sounded out as the engine continued roaring uncontrollably. The dingy brown van was clearly long overdue for a bit of maintenance, but it was all they had and it would have to do.

They were southbound, screaming down the center lane of I-25. It was a clear mid-Spring day, but there were ominous clouds far ahead on the horizon suggesting they were heading directly into the path of a storm system.

Spoiler: click to toggle

The road itself was unusually sparse from other travelers, giving the van free reign for its current antics being pushed far harder than such a junk heap had any right to be. A haunting guitar riff echoed out beyond the van's cracked windows sure to poison the general space of any other vehicles they happened to pass for that split second moment.

It was a somber song, of sorts, but only those riding within could ever hear enough to make sense of it beyond the emotion carried by the tune.

What the hell were they doing?

How had this happened?

Cramped in a stuffy van heading to some little town in the literal middle of nowhere, beholden to the musical selections of a driver who ostensibly was still a complete stranger to all of them.

How had this happened...


[One Week Earlier]

Spoiler: click to toggle

The 16th Street Mall was a location of no small importance within Denver.

Located in the heart of the city, the pedestrian mall was home to over 300 unique stores and 50 or so restaurants. Much beloved, it happened to be not only popular with the locals but a key place to consider visiting for tourists as well.

Of course, within those 300 businesses there were always those that closed out; only to be quickly replaced by a new endeavor. Any number of hopeful entrepreneurs had found their dreams dashed amid the chain stores and buskers that worked the pavilion.

Cosmic Ray Productions was one such place. A local business that had moved into the center suite of a small building wedged between a pawn shop and computer repair place.

It was the sort of place everyone was just waiting to see close out and the FOR SALE sign to go up for the next sucker to come along. Yet, somehow, for roughly a year it had managed to struggle on. A media company of sorts, it offered video editing, photography and similar services. Supposedly, it was merely just the public arm of an endeavor that hoped to look into making web content and perhaps even films one day.

Primarily, it seemed to prey on the tourists that wandered through selling them on overpriced photos taken at scenic spots around the mall.

It was the middle of Spring and it happened to be unusually hot for that time of year. It was the sort of oppressive heat that made you want to get out and do things if for no other reason than to forget just how miserable you were. As such, the 16th Street Mall happened to be a bit more crowded than usual as well. Lost in the crowd, several individuals just happened to be seeking out Cosmic Ray Productions.

For a few weeks now they had been running the same ad all over the place: local papers, craigslist and even flyers distributed here and there.


Unfortunately, those preferences didn't mean too much when almost no one responds. With the days ticking away, the company had responded to the few who had actually got in touch for more information and scheduled a group interview of sorts for today. For the eager individual, there was little to learn about what they were walking into.

It seemed they were backing several up and coming web stars, but nobody even close to being considered worth mentioning. A review channel for pop culture, some jackass shooting videos of himself doing crazy things for no real reason and another with the expected churn of Top 10 lists covering every topic imaginable. Somehow, reflecting the poor condition of their physical location, their efforts just didn't seem to stand out at all.

Just beyond the front door, which triggered a small ding with each opening, was a waiting room of sorts. A large front desk was occupied by what appeared to be a rather bored college student. Empty chairs lined the walls and two different doors stood just behind either side of the desk. It seemed this lack of business was more the norm than anything.

The girl at the desk kept her eyes glued to the computer screen before her clicking here and there at random; pausing only to adjust the headphones she was wearing or sigh in boredom. If someone had wanted, they could have easily walked in and had their way with the place. Most likely, she would have never noticed. But this was also the sort of business so sad that even those with ill intent felt sorry to consider something like vandalism or robbery.

The owner had a meeting scheduled.

It was the first time in awhile that she had ever been told to expect people. Of course, even that fact had drifted from her mind as she became lost in her own concerns to fight the overwhelming boredom the place exuded.

In other words, just another Saturday...
Edited by HiroTsukasa, Jan 23 2018, 04:12 PM.
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Xander: And who do I give this big tip to? This money isn't anything... What's that? Free huh? Well if you insist.

Xander talked over the bus driver with a quick but humble look to the passengers before she could answer. He stuffed his five dollar bill back in his pocket (his only cash for the day). He had put on this show more than a few times in the past couple of years but unfortunately for Xander, the driver had seen all the reruns. Once his feet touched the sidewalk, he turned gesturing with his hand for a final line. Before he could open his mouth to finish the concluding act, the door squeaked shut and the bus was on it's way.

He approached the door, adjusting his cloths. About to enter, he reached his hand for the handle, then abruptly sidestepped to look at himself in the reflection of the glass. What reflected was a tan, finely groomed man in his late 20's. He wore an imitation men's fashion outfit complete with a leather-ish jacket, Harem Pants as they were called (Baggy at the thighs, tight at the ankles), and white horn-rimmed sunglasses. His gauged ears and thin chin beard were the icing on what Xander considered a "presentable" cake.

Xander licked his thumb and pointer finger, spread them across his eyebrows, and walked in. In a flash his phone was up to his ear. He spoke nice an loud for the receptionist to hear.


Xander: Okaay Okay! I'll give you an interview as soon as I get back. I can't talk now. I'm starting at this AMAZING new company so I'll talk to you later. And tell the others at people magazine I said hello. Yep. Bye.

He "hung up" checking to see if the receptionist reacted. He approached.

Xander: Pheeeww... The life of fame right? People assume it's a blast, which it is!... but man. Work work work, you know how it goes ama'right??

He finished with his arms slumped across the desk.

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Self motivated and interesting, huh? She hoped they didn't verify that.

Her eyes drifted over there shabbily edited sign, not that she herself had any skills when it came to that sort of thing. Still, for a professional organization it did seem a bit haphazard...

"Interest in all things strange..." That was unsettling on several levels. In the first place, she was hardly interested in things like that. Secondly, it made it sound incredibly shady. Still, as long as their checks didn't bounce she really had no room to complain, right?

Grace's death grip on her purse tightened and she took a hesitant step towards the door in her worn out camo cowboy boots. Adjusting the plain, black beanie on her head and straightening her pastel pink skater coat, she stepped inside.

Much to her chagrin, someone was making a scene.

Grace huddled by the entrance, the man making the ruckus too close to the door for her to get any further away herself. She fight the urge to simply walk back out, knowing that would likely look just as, if not more, awkward. Worse, if anyone walked in right now, she'd be conspicuously blocking the doorway. Grace felt the anxiety rising in her chest. As it was, she merely shuffled awkwardly in the entrance, avoiding eye contact with the loud stranger. What a first impression...
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She could half hear the ding of the door sensor as Xander entered in seemingly busy with a phone call. The blaring music through her headphones drowned out whatever he was saying; not that it mattered. There was something about him. From the moment she had set her eyes upon him, the idea of looking away seemed difficult. There was something striking, like a model or film star. She almost thought she recognized him, but could never quite place that sense of familiarity.

The only thing she truly did know, was that he couldn't have meant to come into their shoddy little business. The only people that walked through their doors were wandering tourists or the sort of desperate people the owner usually roped into his scheme of the week. As he approached the front desk, she gave a wide smile as she slowly pulled down the headphones letting them rest around her slender neck. A droning yet rhythmic bass seemed to buzz quickly from them.

"S-sure," she replied with an air of interest despite not really following what Xander was trying to say as she leaned in closer, "A guy like you is always busy, right? But you must have the wrong place. You don't really look like the type-" Whatever she was beginning to explain, her words were cut short as the door's sensor let out another ding. Leaning to the other side of the computer monitor, she took notice of Grace shuffling awkwardly just beyond the doorway.

"But she does," the receptionist tacked on to her earlier thought with an air of annoyance as if whatever haze she had been in was lifted, "Hey, you, by the door. If you're here for a meeting give me your name so I can check you in... or whatever..." That seemed like a guess on her part, but she had been working at this place for about a year now. In her own mind, she had the whole place figured out. Tourists and newcomers to the city or the particular kinds of people that seemed to get roped into business opportunities for the company.

She herself, of course, was neither. She was just the receptionist, and for such a job, all that was needed was a pretty face. Cosmic Ray Productions wasn't anything special, but it paid better than waiting tables and they had been willing to work around her college schedule. Most days passed by slow and boring, but that was better than having to deal with angry impatient customers.

She didn't bother to re-address Xander after shifting focus towards Grace. A good looking guy like that had no real business with them. Had she seen him before? She almost wanted to say he was a model, but whoever paid attention to the name of a model in a magazine? He'd realize he was in the wrong place soon enough...
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He never really liked traveling too far from home. Especially in this kind of weather, far too hot for his taste for the season they're in. Too sweaty, too stifling.

At least, his car helped stifle the discomfort somewhat. A home away from home, as well as his main transportation method around the city. Considering he never really allowed anyone to ride with him, the passenger seat was a good deal messier than it should ever be allowed to.

If it was the law to keep one's car clean, he'd be in for at least a dozen year in jail. From charging cables for his phone and laptop, to extensions and broken earphones, worn-out engineering textbooks and paper scrap with a lot of complicated looking equations scrawled all over, a two year-old backpack he got for free when he bought his laptop, as well as paid bills and food wrappings.

There might also be a mice living there somewhere. Or a dead one.

The rear seat was a tad bit neater, but it was hardly any more comfortable to look at. A half-open bag full of a mix of clean and dirty laundry, socks and underwear scattered all over the seat and the floor, a couple of neckties tied on the headrest that seemed like they haven't been touched in years, a few bottles of half-empty and empty energy drinks, and... a pair of slippers.

Look, shoes are nice and all, but they can be annoyingly inconvenient when he needs to be barefooted fast.

Ten minutes to the scheduled meeting.

That should be enough time, he thought, as he stowed away his phone into his pocket, snagged his backpack from the passenger seat, and got out of his car.


Cosmic Ray Production.

This place looks like a dump, even by his standards.

Not in the sense that it was haunted by hooligans or anything. It just felt like a place that no one in their right mind would think of glancing at it twice, or even once, for that matter.

Nothing but the name sign outside to give a hint on what kind of business this place runs. Even if people did have the misfortune to have to seek out this place, they would wonder if they had gotten lost instead.

Which was honestly one of many Seth Roman's thoughts.

Another one, seeing as he was kind of stuck outside the store at the doorway, was on the woman in front of him standing in the doorway and blocking the path in.

...Isn't she hot wearing that kind of clothing in this kind of weather? Amidst repressed annoyance.

He had half a mind to give her a little poke on the shoulder. Or a kick on the backside.

Thankfully the receptionist from inside had called out on her first, leaving his thoughts to stay as thoughts as he did neither, simply giving a feigned cough as his response.

Not that he's in any hurry, but get in already, it's hot outside.
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Xander: Hah! I know right? I'm a little out of my element I'll admit...

Xander turned away as if in deep reflection. He sighed absently when he saw the girl standing there, and the guy outside trying to get in. Judging by their look at first glance he thought "Probably the cleaning crew... This place could use it". He resumed right where he left off as if the girl had only been talking to him. With his back still turned, he sighed loudly to get her attention. "Remember big guy... if you're gonna shoot... shoot to kill"

Xander: Still, I know I'm in right place... I can feel it. It's like some supernatural force led me here beyond reason... Weirdest part is, I feel it the strongest...

He then turned slowly and dramatically back to the receptionist whilst taking his white horn-rimmed glass off in one smooth motion.

Xander: ...when I look in your eyes.

His face showed an almost saddened pleading gesture mixed with confused questioning as he slid his hands back onto the desk and spoke.

Xander: Don't tell me I'm the only one...
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Keep Calm and Cheeki Breeki
"So this is Cosmic Ray Productions huh?" A revving engines was heard as Tommy Sandler - better known among his associates by the moniker "Vegas" mused to himself as a Harley Davidson pulled up at the roadside, glancing at the sign of the business that was wedged between a pawn shop and computer repair store. Lowering the kickstand of his bike, Vegas would park his Harley at the roadside before fishing out a flask of whiskey from his duster, taking a swig of booze before straightening the brim of his cowboy hat.

He'd better be there. That Xander guy. After all, that was what the guy at his bar said - that Xander could pay for the damages. "I'm looking for Xander Sebastian Strong," Vegas remarked as he stepped through the entrance of the place, scanning his surroundings; his blue eyes burning clearly beneath the shade of the brim of his hat, as his square-jawed face bore a no-nonsense expression, taking purposeful, measured strides towards the receptionist's desk as he put his hand down on the surface to make an audible thump.

"Is this Cosmic Ray Productions? I'm looking for Xander Sebastian Strong," the veteran remarked gruffly as he affixed a steely gaze at the receptionist.
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Sorcerer Seizing Sorcerer
It was the type of cheesy line that would make anyone roll their eyes. However, for some inexplicable reason, the receptionist for Cosmic Ray Productions seemed to hang on Xander's every word. She smirked at his question and would have begun to form an answer, but things suddenly got a lot more chaotic. The woman she addressed hadn't yet replied, not that she cared in the first place, but then another newcomer had arrived followed by a fourth that was direct enough to inquire about looking for someone.

She was about to speak up to try and start making some order to the situation, a rare instance of actually doing her job, but the need for that vanished as the door located to the left side of the receptionist desk opened slowly. Stepping through was an odd sort of person. He was unusually tall and equally so rotund. He wore glasses, but they were offset by his partially balding hair. Dressed rather plainly, the dingy black shirt he was wearing happened to be emblazoned with the same logo for Cosmic Ray Productions that was on the storefront window.

Noticing the group, he gave an unusually opportunistic smile. It was hard to tell, but he seemed to be the type of person to have a look like they were always up to something whether they really were or not. "W-Well," he stuttered just slightly before continuing, "Looksh like everyone is here." His nasal-y toned voice seemed to have a slight lisp, but like the stutter, it seemed oddly inconsistent as if he had some sort of obscure speech impediment.

"This is Ronald Fleitcher," the Receptionist explained as she slyly began turning down the volume so the slight whine from her headphones vanished, "Like, the Owner and stuff..."

"Please," the owner carried on from this introduction with the same suspicious grin on his face, "You can jusht c-c-c-call me Ron. I'm very excited t-t-to meet with all of you. I think we are on the cushp of a really good opportunity."

"But," he concluded as he looked from person to person quickly, "I was expecting t-t-t-to meet with three people. Maybe everyone can introduce themshelths and we can help whoever i-i-is just a customer. Okay?" Despite all the strangeness, he had an unusually matter of fact air about him. It was clear that to some degree he was all about the business.

However, the noise that had drawn him out from his personal office was still a matter of unresolved chaos. Most notably for one Xander Sebastian Strong, who now had the occurrence of a complete and total stranger joining the scene and inquiring about him directly. Try as he might, Xander wouldn't be able to place Tommy as any familiar face; even in passing.

It would all be sorted out in short order, undoubtedly, but it was certainly a rather odd start to an already strange scenario.
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Xander knew he had her, like so many that had come before her... or so few lately. She wasn't hot by his standards... cute maybe? She definitely didn't have most of the things on his checklist, but she seemed to go for his Bullshit. In the end, that was the hottest thing about her. After several dry and lonely months, she might as well be Tomi Lauren. All he needed to do was seal the deal with-

Xander: Did someone say they were looking for Xander Sebastian Strong?

Xander enthusiastically turned around with that shit-eating-grin that quickly contorted to a shocked grimace. What he saw standing in the doorway frightened him. This guy was bad news... Xander didn't know what he wanted, but he didn't wanna find out.

Xander: Because heeee'ss... uummmm...

Xander had never been known to think on his feet. Cowardice outweighs the potential harm he'd receive from this guy. A memory of his childhood flashed into his mind at that moment, of the Gunslinger from Stephen King's Book. Xander didn't understand why, but he now realized "THIS is what he looked like! The Gunslinger from the book. This dangerous looking son of a bitch is fucking Roland Deschain of Gilead! He popped out of some portal-door from a western themed paralell dimension hellbent on kicking my ass or something!"

Xander: Right there! The dude with the backpack. Hey Xander! I love your show.

Just then, this man came in named Ron. After the "i-i-i-introduction", he ask for people to introduce themselves... Oh shit. "Why does this shit always happen to me? Just when I think I'm getting my big break..."In normal everyday circumstances, Xander was ready to spit every word in his body out to anyone, but now he froze, shut his mouth, looked around the room. "Please please please please, anyone else,anyone else"

Edited by TheBigBeast, Feb 2 2018, 09:03 PM.
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Grace felt her mouth open and close like a trout as she tried to process everything going on around her at once. The intimidating stranger hitting on the receptionist made it difficult for her to make eye contact with her, let alone answer any questions she might've asked.

Questions she forgot as, exactly as she'd feared, someone moved in behind her, forcing her to awkwardly shuffle out of the way, her brain caught halfway between parsing out an apology and trying to reconnect to her lost purpose. However, much to Grace's chagrin, that battle was all but lost the moment Clint Eastwood rolled past each of them and tried to interrogate that poor woman behind the desk. She prayed silently for her composure, it seemed like really stressful work...

She handled it well though, and Grace felt the peace starting to return to the room as the owner came out and introduced himself. If nothing else, she was now at least certain she was in the right place and could put that fear to bed.

He seemed pleasant, reserved. She found herself wanting to reassure him as he seemed perpetually ill at ease, the complete opposite of her detached indifference method of coping. With no one else apparently wanting to speak up, Grace decided to take the uncharacteristic step of speaking up.

"Um... Grace, er Grace Wells, sir. I'm here for the, uh, casting call." She said quietly and with a nervous smile, raising her hand before realizing it made her seem like a grade schooler. The offending hand quickly returned to tensely clutching her hand-knit bag.
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Wait, he's the only one with a backpack.

Seth held back a pained groan and a palm to the face, inwardly cursing whatever unexpected situation that might have just been forced onto him. He couldn't even muster the energy to step into the studio when the way was open.


"Yooo. I'm Xander... Sander? Zander Strong. Call me Sebastian," Seth 'introduced' himself with an air of obvious sarcasm, lazily waving his hand at Mr. Fleitcher, Grace, likely the real Sander himself, and the big guy looking for him.

"...Not," He got bored of the play pretty quickly, grumpily stepping into the building with an exasperated huff. His steps were oddly silent, his movements stiff like a robot, seeming as though he simply glided right through the small crowd, even with the heavy-looking backpack on him.

He took off and set the bag down on an empty chair by the wall, seating himself next to it. "...I'm also here for the casting call," Seth explained his purpose.

...He couldn't even wait for a minute before taking out his phone to browse internet forums and message boards.
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Keep Calm and Cheeki Breeki
"Wh... what in the blazes?" An expression of bewilderment momentarily crossed Tommy's face as the man identified as Xander Strong made some out of the blue remark about Roland the Gunslinger from the Dark Tower novels, although the self-styled gunslinger would quickly recompose himself and the show host would be met with another steely glare. "Cut the horseplay, Xander - I'm here for business," Tommy remarked gruffly, placing a foot forward as he leaned in slightly to adopt a more threatening stance.

"Name's Thomas Sandler but my friends call me Tommy Vegas..." and with that the older man would reach into a pocket on his duster to retrieve his phone to show him a series of photos showing a bar fight in a western-themed bar and grill. "This bloke claimed to be an associate of yours," he continued as he pointed to a man on the photo who had a chair in his hands clearly looking to swing it at another person who was brandishing a beer bottle in his hands.

"Got drunk off his ass and got into a fight with the patrons of my establishment, the Longhorn Corral - broke three chairs, dozens of glasses, a table and the jukebox in the brawl," he growled as he showed another photo depicting the trashed-up interior of the Longhorn Corral in the aftermath of the fight. "Said to look for you to settle compensation," he concluded, putting his phone back into his pocket before adjusting the brim of his hat, his eyes meeting Xander's in an icy gaze.
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All at once, Xander's skin went pale and clammy. Obviously, this was all a misunderstanding but... he did know the man in the picture. Xander couldn't help but let that little bit of recognition show on him face. It was that same asshole that showed up to that conspiracy-con a few weeks back.

"Is there ever a time when bullshit doesn't fly out of your mouth?" the man had asked him. If he remembered right, the guy had some serious booze breath. After that, Xander got troll calls from him during his live podcast shows. When things died down, Xander assumed he was finally rid of him. Guess not.

Xander: Listen pal... I think there's been a little mix up. Obviously this man is just some asshole that heard my podcast and used me as a scapegoat. Anyone with a computer or radio could have used my name.

He then turned back to the girl, attempting to reign things back in.

Xander: I told you fame has it's negatives. I swear man...

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The receptionist could only laugh with seeming interest at Xander's remark. Ron seemed to take the situation a bit more seriously, however. "Isn't it jusht a little odd to passss the buck like that on someone elshe?" he questioned Vegas' story pointedly before becoming unusually more assertive about the situation than one might have expected from him, "You s-s-should have called the copss right then."

"I'm sorry about y-y-your situation," he apologized before opening the door he had entered through and holding it open while motioning to the other three, "I'm trying to run a-a-a business here. I have meetingsh with these three. I-If you're going to cause trouble then I will call the copsss." The threat was serious and evident. It was clear even through the heavy lisp that he meant what he said.

"But if you're l-looking to get some casshh," he concluded spiraling the entire situation into a pitch, "A-And you think you could handle working o-o-on a film crew then come inside." It seemed like the easiest solution to him. Either he had another person on board and perhaps their financial situation got solved, or he simply wouldn't have to deal with the issue any longer.

Whatever the outcome of the situation, the owner escorted the three (or perhaps four) down a short hallway and into a room on the right that appeared to be a sort of conference room. There was a large oval table in the center with numerous chairs. At the back of the room rested a projector screen on the wall. Walking past them to the laptop at the head of the table, Ron tapped a few things on the keyboard and the projector screen came to life. The surface of its space was divided into several sections each one running clips from various paranormal tv shows.

"Theshe showsh are a dime a dozen," he began to explain while motioning for them to take a seat wherever at the table, "But they still bring in the r-r-ratings. I've done lotsh of research. I'm in s-s-several discussion groupsh with other content producers. They've a-a-all said the same thingsh."

"I-I-I don't care if you believe this crap or not," he added dismissively, "I just need one of you t-t-that seems like you do. Thatsh where you come in, Xander. You're t-t-the talent. Other than that I j-j-just need people that seem and react natural and can hold a camera straight." He was talking as if they were already hired. As if he had never intended to interview anyone in the first place and was content to just take the first and apparently only people that had applied.

"You don't h-h-have to worry about anything elshe. I g-g-got a guy for editing and all that ssstuff," Ron concluded with an unusually eager tone before shouting loudly, "HEY! JOHNNY!" In response to the yell a slam could be heard from further down the hall. The sound of heavy footsteps trudged slowly in their direction. It wasn't so clear, but to some, it sounded as if somebody were mumbling curses under their breath. Without warning the conference room door swung open as a person appeared wtih reckless abandon.

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"WHAT!?" he shouted back with disdain having intentionally waited until he was already there to reply.

"L-L-Ladies and gentleman," the owner began with an obviously teasing tone to his voice, "M-Mister Johnny Graves."

"Hey go fuck yourself," the one apparently named Johnny shot back without missing a beat before looking to those at the table and frowning a little apologetically, "Ehhhh... sorry... look, name's Johnathan Drake."

"Thish is the t-t-talent behind Cosmic Rays Productionsh," Ron explained seemingly paying no mind to the man's crass attitude, "He w-w-was gonna be a rock star, but h-h-he's talented at a lot of thingsh. He'll t-t-take good care of you." Saying this, the owner rose and excused himself. He exited the room leaving the group and his apparent underling confused by the sudden shift in the situation. Wasn't there supposed to be an interview?

"Man," Johnny sighed as he shut the conference room door shaking his head, "I guess he barely told you anything? He usually pawns all that off on somebody else." Walking forward, he approached the laptop and paused the multiple-video stream.

"Look I'll be honest with you guys. I shoot video for most of the other shows they're trying to get off the ground. I do all the editing, the mixing, all the back end stuff. I'll just tell you straight," Johnny explained with some degree of sincerity as he looked from person to person, "This place sucks. Nobody wants to work here or work for a guy like that, but sometimes you don't have a lot of options." He sounded unusually more caring which made a sort of stark contrast to how he had entered the room initially. If anything, it created a greater sense of mystery about the whole place, its operation and how it seemed to be keeping the lights on.

"So if you don't want to put up with all that I won't waste any more of your time," he concluded waving a hand towards the door, "If anybody's crazy enough to stay start asking questions... I guess I'll need to catch you up on all the shit you should have already been told."
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Xander sighed with relief as a Ron took over the conversation. Anything to get him away from Scary McMurderer over here. He turned to Ron with a renewed shit eating grin.

Xander: I'm always game to earn a little more bread on the side, that is if I'm not busy enlightening my listeners with truth! Haaa... but seriously... I'm good for some cash.

He said this last part under his breath so only Ron could hear, then let him go on.

"I-I-I don't care if you believe this crap or not, just need one of you t-t-that seems like you do. Thatsh where you come in, Xander. You're t-t-the talent."

As Ron said this, Xander felt his whole world slip back into control once again. He thought "Music to my ears... even if it's a shitty film gig, who knows. It could be the big break you need Xander... Just don't fuck it up. You're the star now so act like it"

Xander: Much appreciated Ronny. I have been called talented... among other titles throughout my career. The title of Host, though not flashy, will be fine I suppose..

He pantomimed a yawn and looked absently away at his fingernails as he said this. He secretly was very excited for this opportunity, but he knew how the game was play. You have to make them clamor for you, like your the last video game in stock before they sell out.

Xander took a look at johnny and saw what looked like the remnants of himself. It felt to Xander like looking into a mirror that shows yourself 10 years in the future. An over the hill rock star who ended up with nothing. "Just like you pal, minus the rock star, if your not careful." he thought to himself.

Xander: Yea Hi... I've got a question. Where is my dressing room, and can I get a coffee? Iced with cream and sugar.
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B-Rank in H
...Oh lord.

This is actually happening. Seth gave a silent, but clearly dejected sigh, as he tried to come to terms with the fact that he'd actually be a part of those phony paranormal shows.

Though it was a bit jarring to see the studio itself admitting it's all for the ratings, whether they believe in it or not. He kind of figured it's like that, but still.

People really do love their share of weekly spooks, apparently.

Right, now. Let's see.

Seth took a small time video production gig which he saw an ad for online. By small, he really does mean small. Like it's a place where none with even a hint of pride would ever want to find themselves stuck at, according to Mister Johnny here.

That's... pretty much all that they got. These three or four people gathered here are apparently the only ones who answered the job posting, and one way or another they're already group together to immediately get ready for shooting some amateur video of some paranormal stuff... somewhere.

Best to just get it over with, he supposed. If money's all that everyone here really cares about anyway.

At the corner of his mind, Seth honestly was glad they didn't have to do any kind of interview.

"...Right, guess we got the job," The late college student muttered under his breath, reluctantly stowing away his phone. "Where are we shooting these stuff?" It's probably not somewhere where they can just point a phone camera and pretend there's a ghost there. Definitely not the coffee shop nearby at least. "...And do you even believe in these kinds of thing?"

He asked, with a slight glance towards Johnny.
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Keep Calm and Cheeki Breeki
"Ah, what a bother," Vegas remarked with a sigh of exasperation, as it became apparent that he wasn't going to be able to get any compensation from Xander; who asserts that the guy who got into a fight at the Longhorn Corral was a troublemaker who'd been using his name as a scapegoat. So not only is he not getting any sort of recompense - he'd even spent money considering how he rode from one state to another, which racked up quite a bit in terms of fuel costs.

"Well, I'd hate to have come all the way here for nothing and leave empty-handed... so you guys are filming a show or something?" he wondered, trying to keep up with the exchange between Xander Strong and the newcomer on the scene who introduced himself as Johnny Graves. At least from the sounds of it, seemed to be some sort of paranormal-themed reality show.

"What the heck, it's not as if I don't take up... odd jobs as a sideline," the cowboy-dressed veteran mused - though as to what form of 'odd jobs' he was referring to was anyone's guess. "So, consider me interested - so, do we need to go through uh, auditions or something of the sort?"
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Xander: Heh, that won't be necessary for me...

Xander turned to look at the man from another western theme world, regarding him for only a moment. "Those eyes freak me the fuck out man..." he thought to himself and looked away immediately. He still couldn't shake his fear.

Xander: Or you either I'm sure heh. I think we are all just anxious to get a move on... right?

He turned to survey the room as if asking everyone, and realized he had not noticed a certain girl standing silently amongst the others. This girl seemed a little out of place, but I guess they all did in their own way.

Xander: What do you think sweetie? Are you a part of this rag tag team?

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I lurk because I care
Grace had been happy to sidle quietly at the back of the group, the strange banter being shared between the eccentric owner, the sleezy wannabe and the cowboy like something out of one of those single-camera setup comedy shows she binged endlessly on Netflix to stave off the encroaching urge to die. The deadline for her subscription coming up soon being one more reason to take this job. Ultimately, she wasn't sure what she really wanted to do, or if she could even do something like this.

Just the thought of being on camera made her queasy, imagining others looking at her, judging her appearance, standing out at all. She was the only woman here, so that made it that much worse. Every show needed a token female, who, qualifications aside, was ultimately there to give the show it's sex appeal. The very idea filled her with dread mixed with dizzying memories of her mother's desire to force her into small town pageantry. An endeavor which ultimately resulted in a lot of screaming, tears, and a new phobia for Grace to add her to her catalogue of trauma.

Suddenly, her trip down memory lane was interrupted by a more pressing sense of exposure as Grace only just realized she'd been spoken to. The unflinching eye-contact of that person was enough to make her throat stop up for more than a moment as she scrambled to recall what he might've said to her. Without sufficient time to parse together that information, Grace defaulted to a randomly chosen response from a poorly articulated list created somewhere in the underdeveloped social skills portion of her anterior cortex.

Probably the Broca area.

"Y-Yeah... Ok..." She said with a stilted nod.
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