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Sean Cassidy

Aberrant: Infinite Earth - Cosmos Nova - [CN] Convention Crawl

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Everything was fine.. WAS. He hadn't mind the kiss, had enjoyed it in fact, and then those four words, the ones he heard from the mouths of thousands of fans, said with far greater intensity...

He' kissed her deeply, allowing her to savor that moment, and filing it away as a great memory. But her words haunted him. He'd heard disturbing things, and his own checking, well, some of it was actually true.

He rose up, and his arms encircled her. " I care about you, Karrie very much, but I'm not where you are in this relationship yet."

It was something he knew would be crushing to most people. Still not a rejection, just a plea for patience. He nodded. "I want to get to know you more, as we've not had the chance for that, with work and schedules. I want more memories like that Kiss we shared."

He shook his head. "But you need to know, here and now, I'm not ready to say those words to you yet."

As he rose up the armor slid away from his chest, giving her a look at his perfect upper body, something she'd not seen since the boat.

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For once, Connor’s chest couldn’t distract her. Karrie was too busy dealing with the emotional gut-punch she’d just been dealt. His response was not right. He was supposed to say that he loved her back. “I’m not there yet” was not an acceptable response. Connor had gone off script with that statement, shattering the picture-perfect life that Karrie had planned for them. She’d seen it all: the dazzling romance followed by a big outdoor wedding, after which they’d go on a honeymoon to Japan. The rest of it was scripted, too—the three children (a set of twins, boy and girl, and a third ‘surprise’ son later), the long happy life and then retirement. They’d ended up as that sweet old couple that shuffled down the street together, holding hands.

But he was changing that on her and Karrie was at a loss. Thankfully, that released her tongue and she stammered, “W-w-what?”

“I’m not ready to say those words to you.” His voice was gentle though his eyes were worried. “I want to get to know you more.”

“O-o-okay.” Karrie still sounded like a moron. Why couldn’t she be more like herself around him? Why was it so hard to be Karrie around Connor yet easy to be Karrie around anyone else? “Then maybe we should make plans for that. If you want to get to know me more, we should make that happen.” She wasn’t talking about getting to know him, he noted quietly. She was casting about for an idea for something they could do. “I like bowling. Well, not so much the game as the wonderful commentary I can come up with while there. I can’t go with Rob; he’s too famous.” Karrie hadn’t caught onto the fact that now, so was she. “Though… damn, I guess you’d be too famous, too. “What do the famous do that’s fun so they won’t get mugged by fans?”

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He smiled. "We can go bowling. I don't mind."

he disengaged from her, to go and change. "I love to fish, personally, and hunt. Season's right around the corner too." She could hear the armor falling to the floor as he began changing. He smiled, donning a uniform he'd only tried on once, morphing his form to fit as he went, so that it fit perfectly.

He stepped out, dressed as Ozma Lee, the leader of Skull Squadron in Macross Frontier. "Not just about me though. If there's going to be something more between us Karrie, I want you to know me too. It's not all about me. It's a mutual relationship, all the way, or not at all." He stood there in his uniform, with a far more cavalier presence than as Conan, representing the new cosplay perfectly.

"What do you think?"

ozma_lee_12615.jpg

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Karrie was terribly conflicted as she sat on the edge of the bed. This was so far off script she had no idea what to do. Part of her wanted to jump into the room he was in and… her mind kinda trailed off there. Karrie knew what she wanted to do with him: it was getting from want to do that was the hard part. She wanted to seduce him and finally have that moment she’d been dreaming about since she was fat twelve-year-old Rez girl. The other part really wanted to hide in shame; to find Rob and drag him into a dark hole so that she could cry on his shoulder and beg him to help her fix it.

What had she done wrong? She thought she’d been doing it all right, and then Connor didn’t love her even after her declaration. Karrie blinked back a hint of tears as she tried to figure out what to do next. The problem was she had no clue.

“What do you think?” Karrie smiled at his voice—it was Connor after all and he’d always get a smile from her. Always.

“You look very handsome. Very Omza Lee.” Uncertainly, she took a stab in the dark. “I’m sorry about the thing earlier. I’ve just admired you for a while. I guess it was easier for me to get to that point… in my feelings for you.” She wasn’t sorry; she didn’t understand what she’d done wrong. But he’d never know the difference, not when it was the Coyote deceiving him.

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He looked at her, and nodded. He reached out putting his arm around her shoulder. "Thanks. I was hoping I captured the character well." He looked to her, searching for something in her eyes, but he didn't find it.

"I'm very flattered Karrie, don't misunderstand that. I care for you a great deal. I'm just not where you are, yet." The idea of giving her hope never occured to him, he was simply being honest."

"Tell you what. You can pick where we go here at the con, the rest of the night, even where we go eat."

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previously...

Kei had the honor of starting the second match after she arranged her sideboard a little. She knew about decks like she was facing... pure aggro. But she knew of a few control cards to toss in. Half-way through match two and at least 6 or seven counters followed by her removing one of the keys to his deck...

"Dammit! I scoop... wasn't for me getting choked on land I would have wiped you out."

He was of course reaching for excuses, he was dropping a land every turn and even fetched three more. She just lobotomized his hand. She didn't even get her "Jace, the Memory Adept" out yet that she side-boarded in.

"Ready for round three, Ralph?"

"Oh yes... I got you now, Kei."


Kei's reflexes were as quick as her spotting something was amiss. Namely as to why he had a watch on all wrong under his sleeve. Her eyes could pick out the details of an aircraft miles away... or see the fact that the "watch" just didn't seem like it was being worn right.

"Nice watch, Ralphie-boy..."

"Huh?"

"The watch. Is it Rolex? what? Didn't think you had the cash for such bling..." She moves her hand to his wrist faster than he can react and she triggers it... it quietly deploys a card that spits out to the table.

"This match is over." She says, pulling back his sleeve, revealing he had a cheater's rig. "Come on... all this broadway production for a simple card game, bro?"

She takes her card and the card he anted.

"Hey! Stop thief!" Ralph shouted, a smirk on his face as he scampers to remove the cheating device from his arm.

"You lost the match, Ralph. You cheated."

"I got witnesses that say otherwise... this isn't DCI. No judge... just me you, and my buddies over here."

"Yeah? I got a agent of the DSA with me... and I my own trump card." She smiled as she reaches into a pocket of her cloak sitting on her chair and pulls out a tablet computer. After a couple taps the video starts playing of the incident.

"I have a small camera on the front of my vest that is usually meant for recording my performance during a mission... since I am in a public place and I am aware of the legalities of this, I decided before we began to start recording this whole match. Now, I wanted to post this vid on youtube... but I think I might need this as evidence to present to the security guys... speaking of security..."

Two gentlemen dressed in uniforms of the local security firm charged with guarding the hotel during the convention start checking as to why there was a commotion. After Kei showed the video and her story was confirmed by Nate, Ralph was told to leave the premises.

But before he left... under escort... "Dammit Kei, you never win straight! you always gotta have people backing you up! You damn Novas are all alike!"

After a moment of holding herself back, she glared at Ralph. He was out of earshot though before she could respond.

"What the fuck man... Did I just hear that, Nate?"

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"Yeah, you heard that. The guy is a chicken-shit creep. He's one of those bullies that use your strength of character to beat you up. They throw accusations like that knowing you are too good of person to actually lash out the way a lesser person would." He wanted to put an arm around her shoulder but knew she was angry so he just squeezed the arm instead.

"And by lesser person I don't mean Non-nova, I mean someone whose sense of fairness would not be bothered by hitting a creep like that."

He helped her gather the rest of her cards, "I had a feeling he was a low-life, but I didn't suspect he had a cheater's rig like that up his sleeve that way otherwise I would have been recording the game as well." He tapped the micro super computer at his belt and smiled.

"Hey, if you don't have any more contractual commitments to fulfill today, why don't we go see one of Connor's movies? They are showing a whole slew of them at the con. Either that or some more shopping which ever you prefer."

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"No obligations. I'm not needed at the unveil, so I'm open to anything. Although I think I might change outfits first... and maybe catch a swim at some point during the convention."

She smiled as Nate helped get organized again. "These big cons though, I get uncomfortable at them. I'm used to smaller ones."

"I think actually finding some bad-for-you but oh so filling junk food would be nice."

She looked at the black lotus she won in it's case, then noticed a oddity. "Wait a sec... Nate... This is fake! That fat pirate anted a fake!!!"

She almost looked like she was going to faint as she slumped into the chair she was using. Some of the other players nearby heard the commotion and started to commiserate with her at this point.

"Ugh... I'm sticking to Warhammer 40k... Let's find some junk food and a bathroom where I can switch outfits."

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That rat was going to pay, he just wasn't going to talk about it with all these witnesses around. Ratboy was just the type to be lawsuit happy and Nate wouldn't give him any evidence of what would be coming, or ammunition to use in court.

What he said aloud was, "Hang on to that card and let's show it to the Magic folks. Once they see that and your video I'm sure they will ban him from any future sanctioned tournaments." He'd be banned from more than that once Nate was through with him...

"After that lets go change. We can pop back to the hanger real quick to do it then come back for some fast food. There are several burger places near here, and a pizza joint. You can pick."

"Are you changing costumes, or into casual clothes?" He was hoping they might take a break for a bit while they were at the hanger... maybe get her mind off the card game.

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"We don't need to head back to the hangar." Kei said, smiling that Nate had her back. "I got a actual costume, Nate... been keeping it secret. Didn't want anyone to know. Keeps the photographers off their pace." She said, giggling. She picks up her suitcases. "And I got a room here at the hotel too, if need be."

"You know what I've not had a proper Pizza in a while."

Spotting a bathroom she holds up her hand. "One moment... time to change."

She dashes in quickly, hoping the milling crowds would provide some cover.

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Karrie smiled and wrapped her hands around the lapels of his jacket. “You’re so sweet, but I want to share this with you. We can work together to figure out things we want to do. This is the first chance we’ve really had to just hang out. No one should get to pick the things we do. Okay?”

“Sure.” He smiled down at her and made her feel like a million bucks. She would have felt like a billion, had she not screwed up earlier and overplayed her hand. At least, she guessed that was what she’d done wrong. Karrie still had no idea why he hadn’t responded to her the right way.

“Time for me to change. Come to my room and you can be the first to see it. It’s a new costume, something I picked out just for this.” For you. She took his hand and they went to her room; it was a far cry from his. She’d gotten a corner suite so that she had a bedroom and a front room, but it wasn’t the mini-Taj Mahal that Conner’s room was.

“Wait here,” Karrie told him, then hurried into the bedroom. Thankfully, her costume was a one-person job; it just took some time. She’d practiced at home, but the wiggling into the bathing-suit like stop was an art. Then she secured the new wig and switched out contacts. Once she’d added the gun to the holster on her hip, she made a very nice Major Motoko Kusanagi.

“What do you think?” she asked Conner as she theatrically threw open the door. “Am I ready to take on the Laughing Man?”

standalone.jpg

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"Oh hell yeah." Connor's Cajun accent softened the edges of the words, and he smiled. "Decidedly a good look for you."

He gave her an openly appraising look, and nodded. "You've got a real chance of winning many competitions with that one Karrie, especially with how good you look in it."

He had to admit She seemed to take his words better now, and understand more.

"I admit, there's a part of me that just wants to strip and shift into either Batou or the Laughing Man, just to complement you."

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There’s a part of me that just wants you to strip. Karrie was smart enough to not tell him that. He was turning out to be… skittish. No, she realized a moment later, he was a gentleman. He was a perfect gentleman, just as he should be. She sighed to herself, even as she wished that he was a little less of a gentleman. Karrie had been doing her research on sex, and she was ready to try a few things out now. Since Conner was her partner, she knew she wouldn’t have to worry about the first time being bad. He’d make her body sing. That’s how they described it in romance novels and that was the way she knew he’d be in her bed. Or his bed. She wasn’t picky on that count.

“If you want,” she said with a laugh, “only the Major wouldn’t hang all over Batou, and if you were the Laughing Man, I’ll have to arrest you.” She was joking of course, and her good humor was apparent. “Are you changing or are we heading down for the show?”

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"We'lle head down for the show, let the cross show couple appeal work for us. Besides nobody really suspects that it's me. I haven't used my natural form in public yet. Only you have gotten to see it."

He smiled his movie star level smile, and offered her an arm. "Let's go then. Did you decide what show you wanted to see?"

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When Kei stepped back out from the bathroom, she was indeed changed. What at once was while a strong-looking, semi-heroic woman stood something far more dimunitive.

What she looks like now.
sakuraihinokicosplayingnagato.jpg

She did look cute in glasses, and with her height, she fit the character to a T.

"Hello again!" Kei said with a smile. "Didn't think I'd go this way?"

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Nate put on a mock serious face and said, "You just might get me arrested dressed like that." He broke into a grin to let her know he was kidding.

"Seriously, though, it's a good costume, and you really look the part!" He motioned for her to turn around so he could get a good look at it from all angles and looked on admiringly as she did. "Nice!"

He leaned in an whispered, "You've got really great legs." While at the same time holding out his arm to escort her. "So, shall we get out of here and get that pizza? I'm pretty starved."

He added in a whisper, "I would pretend to leer and ogle you and make a crass comment about taking you back to the room for a different kind of dinner, but I'm afraid with all these paparazzi someone would catch it on video or camera and it would be all over the headlines and I'd end up with an entirely different kind of reputation." He smiled ruefully but squeezed her arm affectionately.

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Kei adjusts her prop glasses and brushes off the skirt of her costume. "Well... lately I've started to take a liking to Anime... again..." She said, patting Nate on the shoulder. "No worries though, I hate looking like an authority figure. Not my style."

She takes Nate's arm. "So, there's a couple different places nearby, although I would skip the restaurant here... Hotel food isn't known to be the greatest, Master Jedi." She says with a smile. She almost seemed like she enjoyed herself more now. "Your call."

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With the rest of the novas going their own way - Karrie and Connor, Kei and Nate, Rob and the Booth Babes - Taeli felt suddenly tired strutting around in heels with more than half her tits and ass exposed. She needed to change and change now, and couldn't bare walking the length of the convention once more,

"Yeah, mates, I'll see you back at the rooms before heading out for dinner," the she-elf murmured in her sultry soprano, flashing her friends and their handlers a tight-lipped smile. "I'm taking the Sorceress Express."

She slipped her hand in Vyserian's, looking a shy question up at him. Though Taeli wasn't aware of the question her huge cyan eyes were asking, Vyserian recognized the look and nodded. A moment later, he felt the familiar tingle of Princess Taehlyri'salatria Duirsar's aura of arcane power flow over him.

"Annon tuulo' sinome a'eller!" Taeli chanted, her mellifluous tones taking on an uncanny resonance. In a twinkle of incandescent starlight, the two elves disappeared, with a final glimpse of Taeli's full lips curving up in a grin at hearing Kristof Wyste's curse.

The two incredible gorgeous and sensual elves coalesced in another hall twelve-hundred feet away. There were gasps of surprise and delight from the witnessing convention goers and Taeli waved impishly before chanting again. Two more hops got them to their hotel - Gen Con covered a huge footprint of the Indianapolis Convention Center - and one more popped them into their room.

Taeli released a big sigh of relief as she plopped down on her bed and immediately began tugging off her thigh-highs. Brushing a loose tress of vibrant purple hair from her face, Teali gave Vyserian and Amy a rueful grin.

"Whew! Well, that was fun, but I'm glad to finally dress normal now," she said with a rueful smile as she stood up and refrained from stretching in front of Vyserian. "I hope both of you, Amy and you Vyserian enjoyed yourselves as well?"

"It was a... unique experience," Vyserian said, his own smile wry, noting the modesty of the boy's soul wearing the flesh of his beloved Princess. The vivacious Taeli he knew had been far more relaxed with the attention she garnered, though he had to admit, if anything, this Taeli was even more stunning and graceful. He knew Amy's private thoughts on the appearance of her former 'boy'-friend, too. "Princess Amaranth found it a very interesting time as well."

"Good, that's good," Taeli agreed, nodding as she picked up her small suitcase - she carried most of her things in her Bag of Holding, but not everything. "I must say, I never thought I would be attending my first big Convention like this. As... this. I'm going to change in the loo."

"Princess - Taeli, that is not necessary." Vyserian chivalrously countered. "I shall avert my gaze, on my honour."

Taeli's fine jaw tightened. She wasn't sure why, but the gallantry thrown her way was one of the things - of the many things - that irritated her the most since her gender and race change. Even if she looked it, she was hardly a delicate flower. "Thank-you, but no, Vyserian. It's fine, I'll change in the bathroom. I'll call out when I'm done in case you want to change as well, so I don't catch a glimpse of what I shouldn't."

Vyserian tilted his head slightly in the way Taeli had come to recognize as Amy communicating with him, his lips twisting in faint disgruntlement tinged with melancholy. Even as it became obvious this Taeli was reluctant to strip in his presence, Vyserian recalled racier memories in another time, another world.

There was Hanali Celanil's Secrets of the Heart revel that had fallen on Midsummer's Day, celebrated at the grand Fountainheart of Shimmering Gold in Taeli's home city of Evereska. She had been the only woman who could approach the stunning beauty of the high priestess Hamalitia Everlove and they had made passionate love amidst the rose-entwined boxwood garden maze, before the coy statue of the goddess carved of rare white stone.

Then there had been the High Hunt among the good drow followers of Eilistraee, Drow Goddess of Song, Dance, Beauty, Swordwork, and Moonlight. Taeli had developed a private fondness of for the dark elf goddess that night at the Promenade. Small and delicate next to the tall and battle-hardened dark elves, Taeli had proven herself every bit as fierce as they as they hunted monsters through Undermountain, naked and blades in hand. And she had proven herself every bit as inspired a dancer at the wild and exuberant celebration following the Hunt. The drow priestesses had been very... ardent that night.

More memories of a kind flowed before his mind's eye and Vyserian mused sadly that no news ones would likely join them. But still, he would never abandon his Princess.

"I... understand. It seems my current attire isn't sufficient for Amaranth's tastes as well."

"Okay, then." Taeli glided into the bathroom with her instinctive, impossible grace, closing the door behind her with barely a whisper.

She took off her silver cloak and slung it over one of the towel racks then, watching herself in the mirror over the sink, began plucking the rings from her slender fingers and the jewelled combs from her hair, along with the Luckstone snug against her throat, but left the golden Hanali pendant, privately liking the feel of body warmed metal between her breasts. She unwove the intricate braids, shook out the ass-length of purple hair, then deftly twusted them into a simple, elegant French-braid.

Taking a deep breath then releasing it, she stripped out of her bustier-teddy outfit thing, having to stare at herself in the mirror. She was still by far the most attractive woman she had ever seen in real life, let alone naked. It felt very odd being entirely nude save for a gold heart pendant bouncing in her cleavage after taking off a single piece of clothing.

Reaching into her personal extra-dimensional space, Taeli removed the various pieces of her new suit. She had wanted to get a man's suit (or closer to a boy's, considering her size), hoping it would downplay her curves, but the saleswoman demonstrated how it would just highlight them due to the poor fit. With her help, Taeli had gotten a pantsuit tailored to minimize her figure, a gift from her mother and sister.

Taeli had still gasped at the cost. Why do girl clothes cost so much more than boy clothes? Before, she had been fine with a plain shirt and a pair of jeans, day in and day out. But somehow ever since being girled, she seemed to be wearing a far wider variety.

First came the boy-cut briefs and bra of lacy black. Despite its sensual appearance, the bra was as tight as a sportsbra, helping to minimize her breasts. Snapping it on, Taeli breathed a resigned sigh of comfort. Despite their fullness, her buoyant breasts hardly needed the support, but Taeli already felt more comfortable wearing one than not. It helped reduce excess jiggle and excessive staring - it felt like everyone could tell instantly if she wasn't wearing a bra.

Next came the mauve, satin, scoop-necked shell and white silk, v-neck blouse, followed by the navy pants and matching, high collared jacket. The looseness of the pants hid the shape of her long, toned legs, the length and refined minimalist style of the jacket obscuring the taut behind and reducing the thrust of her breasts. And despite the layers, the suit breathed very nicely.

Taeli's Suit
taelisuit.jpg

Taeli couldn't help but smile at her image in the mirror. It wasn't the same as a man in a new suit or a tux, but she looked sharp. And more importantly, she looked like a sleekly curvaceous professional instead of a stacked, cosplaying Page 3 Girl.

She slipped on her Skecher's Nightfall Mary Janes - a compromise between a comfortable athletic shoe and something feminine, since the saleswoman was almost apopletic when Taeli adamantly refused to wear heels - then knocked on the bathroom door.

"Amy and Vy, are you decent? I'm done getting dressed," Taeli asked, pitching her voice to carry through the door.

"Yes, we are... decent," came Vyserian's cool reply.

Taeli glided out of the bathroom... and stopped, mouth opening in a small 'o' of surprise, a faint blush rising to her cheeks. Though she was coming to understand how arousal made her female body react, she told herself what she was feeling was envy, though she wasn't sure if that was any better.

If she looked sharp and striking in her suit, Vyserian's suit made him look amazing and smolderingly sexy despite the noncommittal light in his eyes, his silver hair contrasting with the deep, muted colours. And without heels on, he looked bloody tall. And she couldn't help but notice it! She'd never look that good - and that male - in a suit, ever again. No, ever. She had only worn a suit twice before and didn't even come close to playing the in the same league.

Vyserian's Suit

vyseriansuit.jpg

"Uh... You look... nice," Taeli stammered, wincing in embarrassment. "Amy's doing?"

"It is." Vyserian glanced down, fixing his cuffs, hiding a faint smile upon noting Taeli being flustered. He personally the style to stark for his tastes, but Amy and Taeli seemed impressed. "If you don't mind me saying, Prin - Taeli, you are looking very fine tonight as well. Amaranth is surprised you left your earrings on, but it adds perfectly to the minimalist style."

"Oh!" Taeli reached up unconsciously to her ears before pulling her fingers back done, feeling like an idiot. She had actually completely forgotten about them, but she wasn't going to take them off now, now that Amy had mentioned them. "Erm, thank-you." She glanced at her watch. "Guess we still have some time yet. Did Kristoff and Vitalia make it back yet?"

"They have, and they are not too impressed," Vyserian said, frowning at their manner. "They are in their room. We are not to leave without informing them. It is the rest of our company we are waiting on."

"Okay," Taeli sank down into one of the plush armchairs in the room, and pulling out her copy of the WotC contract and opening it on her lap. "Guess I'll go over the contract again so I can ask some questions without people thinking I'm blonde too."

But Taeli hadn't been reviewing it for long before Alan - now just a brawny six-footer - Liam, and Connor knocked on the door, saying they were ready to go. They were dressed in slacks and blazers too, giving them a thin veneer of professionalism, but somehow still came across as far more casual than the two elves. Great, we still going to get all the attention, Taeli moped, though really, she and Vyserian would have regardless of the circumstances.

The dinner being for potential employees, their handlers hadn't been invited and hadn't had time to make a reservation at the restaurant. Still, Osteria Pronto was in the hotel, so their handlers weren't too concerned - the one assigned to the three psiads far less than the two assigned to the two novas - though making it clear they were to be informed if they went anywhere else afterwards.

With that, the D&D Adventuring Company come to life trooped down to the fine Italian Restaurant, drawing attention anew, though it was of a more subdued kind than that found on the Convention floor. The hostess led them to the long table reserved by Bill Tipton, who stood up with a beaming grin at their arrival.

"Ah, Ms. Cooper, a pleasure to see you again so soon, and hell, you looking stunning and sophisticated tonight. Mr. Arasael and Your Royal Highness Amaranth Helena Silvia Marie, you two as well. Even a million dollar suit wouldn't make me look half as good." He turned to the other three with a jovial grin. "Hard to compete with glamourous elves, eh? That's partly why Wizards wants them. Welcome, Misters, McAvoy, Meath, and Donovan. Everyone, please take a seat and order some drinks to start. I've a bottle of good red coming if anyone wants to share, and I'm hoping some of your fellow novas will join us. I sent out e-invitations to the ones I could reach."

Bill went to pull out Taeli's chair for her, then stepped back when Vyserian beat him to it, which she reluctantly accepted. It really made her feel conspicuous as the only woman there and idly, Teali mused she might even be willing to deal with Karrie's teasing or the manic Kei, if only it would spread the male attention directed at her.

"Please, feel free to ask anything and just about everything is negotiable." The grin on Bill's round face was honest and eager. "With the coming of Novas and Psiads, business is changing and changing quick, and there are many wanting to see it spread beyond the confines of military, security, and science. There is Connor Fontenot and Kitty Price in show business of course, but there is growth in more directions than that. And we at Wizards are hoping you'll be part of that."

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Bill's casual attitude warred with the formal nature and setting of the meal and not for the first time, Vyserian felt himself relying heavily on Amaranth's experience to act appropriately. To the others Vyserian seemed to slow down, his movements a graceful glide while Amaranth directed him and Vyserian responded like a life-sized marionette. He held out Taeli's chair, giving her an unrepentant smile when she moued at him for acting chivalrous again. He remained standing until the other women at their table had also taken their seats, then took his own - next to his princess, of course.

He still felt a bit out of place in the formal wear of this new world and without either sword or spellbook, but it was a discomfort he was coming to terms with.

Why would you need a sword or spells at dinner?

You...played....my life, Amaranth. How many times do you remember a meal or repast interrupted by some danger or another?

.......okay, but that's just because it-

Was a game?

Yeah. I mean, stuff like that doesn't happen in real life.

Not here. At least not often, Vyserian conceded. Old habits and all...

Amaranth was silent in their mind for a moment, then ventured, You're really upset, aren't you? About Taeli, I mean. In the room.

Aloud, the settling table heard only a small sigh from the elf as he picked up the wine list and ran his fingers down the pages. I love her, Amaranth, as you were coming to love Kevin. She is now neither of our loves. She has the face of my a'mael, but the soul of yours. Even with her name and memories, she is not truly Taelhyri'salatria Duirsar, but she has also lost being Kevin Cooper entirely as well. So, yes, I am sad. I am beginning to understand that I should mourn, even though I do not want to let go.

I...I didn't....

What kind of wine do you like, Amaranth?

What.....?

Wine. There is a long list and I do not know these vintages. You have been raised as royalty in this world; surely you know some of the selections?

Um, yeah, go with the Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres, 1er Cru, 2008. It's Mother's favorite wine right now and we had it at her birthday dinner two years ago. It's very nice - but, Vyser-

Later, Amaranth. Not at dinner.

Are you sure-

Yes.

Vyserian smiled at the table and ordered the wine quietly from a waitress already flustered by the overwhelming beauty of both elves. She nodded and scurried off, only to realize once she was in the kitchen that they didn't stock that wine. A few panicked moments later and the manager was on the phone to a private contact, desperate to get his hands on a bottle before the slip-up was noticed by the novas, Wizards, or his boss.

While they waited for the wine, Vyserian retreated mentally and for the first time since the eruption, Amaranth was effectively left on her own. She still couldn't directly control their body, but Vyserian's brooding afforded her a chance to be the decision-maker and conversationalist. "Amaranth would like to know how to write into the contract a clause for her to be able to take personal time or refuse a promotional activity even when Vyserian does not object."

Vyserian's voice rumbled out thoughtfully, but Taeli could hear the difference in the inflections and even the accent. For the first time in months, she could hear Amaranth.

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Kei gets a message on her comlink. She at first smiles, then frowns, but then smiles again. "Hey... Nate... scratch the pizza dinner... We just got invited by WotC to enjoy some quality Italian!"

"We'll neet to dress business-ish or formal. I got my business outfit upstairs... hopefully you got your best robes somewhere."

She grabs her suitcase that has her flight suit in it. "Meet you at the Osteria Pronto!"

"At the very least we can enjoy their hospitality... and maybe score some betas or demos!" Kei said with a grin before she runs off as best she could in the crowd to the elevator leading to her room."

= Right before the dinner =

Kei walks into the room, wearing her best business outfit for the dinner. It bothered her that she couldn't wear her flight suit, that was practically her uniform with the DSA...

note
1 willpower spent due to costume fetish

She smiled when she sees Mr. Tipton with the elves and a few others. The 4 foot and 11 inch Kei seemed almost like a young teenager when she stepped into the room. The man at the front stops her. "I'm sorry, but no one under 18 is allowed in from the convention..."

Kei holds up her DSA id and her Minnesota Driver's Licence and her Pilot's Liscence. "I'm 20... Yes, I know... no alcohol. I'm here to see Mr. Tipton."

She hated this part every time... she couldn't wait to turn 21 in January.

The man at the desk that stopped her nods after some very careful examination of her id and licences before letting her past.

Kei sighed once she reached the table. "Mr. Tipton? I'm Kei Nakano, DSA. Codename Sea Eagle. Pleased to meet you."

She smiled, and she seemed so... like a kid.

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Prying his eyes off the elves with an effort, Bill stood up to greet Kei and pull her chair out for her. Even just sitting down for dinner, the elves were more glamorous than the entire golden age of Hollywood while possessing more sex appeal than the whole AVN awards show.

And while he prided himself with being able to interact with anybody, even Novas, with a jovial equanimity, the elves had a visceral presence that was quite overwhelming, which their own... issues didn't distract from. In fact, in some ways, it exacerbated it.

"Ms. Nakano - can I call you Kei? Kei, please, call me Bill and the pleasure is entirely mine," he said, sliding Kei's slight weight in the chair easily before sitting back down and giving her a rueful, yet intrigued grin. "I gotta say, I was surprised, in a good, to find out an honest-to-god DSA agent interested in gaming, let alone more than one."

He gave a small, self-deprecating chuckle. "I'm not sure if Wizards can offer the same amount of excitement, but we would be very interested if you thinking of a change of vocation. Or even if you'd like to be involved in a more limited fashion, so as to not conflict with your duties, for which the rest of the nation thanks you, I'm sure."

Sitting quietly, Taeli's long, elegant ears occasionally twitched and flicked, her earrings and studs winking under the low light of the restaurant. She could make out nearly every conversation, and while it wasn't as blatant as on the Convention floor, most of the conversations turned to the elves at least some of the time. But unlike on the convention floor, it seemed the attention was less on them being elves and more on them being an unnaturally attractive man and woman. The conversations ran the gamut of sexual interest to vicious envy - despite her suit trying to subdue her curves - but at least few in the classy restaurant were willing to be obvious with their interest.

And then Taeli froze into an eerie, inhuman stillness. Over the river-like burbling of multiple conversations, rumbled Vyserian's silken baritone. A tingle raced down Taeli's spine. It was Vyserian's voice, but everything in it was Amy. Taeli had caught ephemeral glances of her girlfriend earlier, but now she could indisputably hear her.

Taeli distractedly reintroduced herself along with everyone else as Kei Nakano joined - unconsciously sitting up as straight as she could so she'd be taller than at least someone at the table - almost afraid to look in Vyserian's direction. Afraid as if like a delicate soap bubble, reaching out for this sign of her girlfriend would make it pop and disappear.

She felt herself growing warm as she listened intently to Amy/Vyserian and Bill going back and forth, the rep figuring out the details so he could address Amy's concerns, basking in the other's elf's tone, if not his voice. Vyserian's voice, but it was all Amy. Taeli brushed the smooth fabric of her slacks, needing to do something with her hands, even as the tingles spread to the tips of other extremities.

"... you are two completely independent people in one body." Bill rubbed his chin, mulling the issue. "Well, I don't think we could grant you the same number of exemptions as two other people. There is still only one - excuse the language - body attending and it wouldn't be fair to the others. But I'm sure we can work out an arrangement, were both Amaranth and Vyserian have an equal amount, which would be more than is granted in a typical contract. Would that be amendable? These are... unique circumstances, to say the least, and nothing says the both of you wouldn't be able to come up with private terms among yourselves."

Just then, the waitress came back, a bright and expect smile on her lips bearing the bottle of wine as if it was the crown jewels of England. Vyserian glanced at the label and nodded, giving the waitress a brief smile, which made the poor woman flush scarlet and grow flustered. The waitress began opening the bottle, her fingers clumsy under the eyes of the gorgeous elf.

Amaranth/Vyserian stood up with fluid grace, gently urging the bottle from the waitress' hands. "Please, allow me," they murmured together. "I am grateful enough that you had this vintage in stock."

Almost using Vyserian's long and strong fingers on her own, Amaranth marveled at deftly opening the bottle of wine and turned to Taeli first. "... Taeli, would like a glass?"

Taeli looked up at Vyserian, and saw Amaranth in the set of his lips and the slight questioning tilt of his head. Wordlessly, she held out her glass and nodded. It would give her hands something to do, and something to hide behind, if needed.

"Mmm, thanks, Am... Thank-you," she murmured shyly in velvety soprano.

As Amaranth/Vyserian offered the wine next to Kei, then the rest of the table - the maitre d' might have been a hardass, but none of the rest of the staff would begrudge the table of novas and psiads a bit of alcohol - Taeli took a tentative sip of the wine.

A panoply of flavours and savours exploded on her tongue. She had never been much of a drinker as a boy, and this was the first taste of wine she had had as a woman - It was far richer and expansive than any she remembered. A small part of her compared it to the subtle complexities of Elven vintages she only vaguely recalled.

Then again, since she erupted, her senses had drastically sharped and grown broader. She wasn't sure if it was an elf thing or a woman thing, but her sweet tooth had become far more insistent too. As stereotyped as it was, the first time she had chocolate after erupting had been very... heady.

Taeli was feeling very conflicted at the moment, seeing and hearing her girlfriend in the very male elf sitting at her side, an enticing warmth spreading through her. I'm in so much trouble...

Bill stifled a groan, hoping he wasn't sweating. He couldn't help find Vyserian somewhat attractive despite being male and Taeli... Taeli looked elegantly and sensually sophisticated sitting there, wine in hand, her full lips molding to the glass as she took a sip...

I'm happily married and am nearly old enough to be her father. And she was a boy not too long ago, though I'm not sure if I can keep believing that. Get a grip, Bill!

"So, Taeli, you have any concerns or requests?" Bill asked, hoping to get his mind on business, instead of something that could get him arrested.

"Um, well, I would like to be involved in more ways than just as eye-candy," Taeli mentioned with a wry curve to her lips.

"Well, I do have to admit, your appearance - all of yours, as a real-life adventuring group - is a large part of the reason be are interested in you," Bill admitted with a sigh. "That said, as fetching as you were this afternoon, I was surprised at - forgive me - 'cheesecake' the outfit was. It'll certainly attract younger men to our product, but we already have a large hold on the male demographic, though we're losing some to MMOs. But you appeal to women as well - mostly in a different way - and that is a demographic we see a lot of growth potential in. Let me share some of our ideas..."

Bill began detailing some of WotC's ideas in broad strokes, pulling in Alan and Liam with his enthusiasm: Con appearances, a live broadcast of a weekly gaming session, perhaps a revamp of a live-action movie, if the group of them showed any inclination and skill in acting. The had an interest in Taeli's artwork for the look of their new edition, and some of Liam's ideas resonated with the two directions they were looking at for the edition. Forgotten Realms was going to be the base setting, and they were hoping to incorporate their characters, as well as potentially some of Alan's and Liam's work, who had written more about the setting beyond their characters.

As they talked about more details, Taeli began to relax, no longer afraid she'd be nothing more than a pair of tits and legs in skimpy leather. She was even able to push aside her mounting anxiety over her feelings for Amy and Vyserian, whatever they were.

Connor leaned towards Kei, dark eyes dancing mischievously. If he was no where near as good looking as the other, famous Connor, his was still attractive in a completely natural way. Dark hair, slightly below average height, with a stocky, well-muscled build. His Irish accent added to his playful charm.

"So, I remember seeing you at the Con. I'm Connor. You a big Anime fan too?" He nodded at Taeli, his grin wide, his voice low. "I've tried to get these guys into it, but they don't appreciate as much as I do. I'm partially responsible for the design of her outfit and her looks, y'know? What are some of your favourites?"

Note
Connor is very knowledgeable about Anime. I am not. He does have a preference for fan service and fantasy type anime, but watched all kinds and isn't a Hentei freak. He can talk very easily and knowingly about the subject.

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Kei smiled. "Seen Yukikaze? Being a aircraft nerd like I am I naturally gravitated towards it. I prefer more modern/near-future fare. Ghost in the Shell, Durarara, Read or Die, Haruhi when I want a oddball plot... I barely... barely stomach Evangelion... great designs but poor plot execution, although there is hope for the rebuild movies but... again... bad feeling about this."

"So, Connor... odd I know another Connor, but you're interesting too... you designed their "costumes"? Is fantasy your specialty?"

She straightens her business suit as Bill temporarily interrupts the conversation. "You know... we are planning on expanding our roleplaying line to include modern settings, and I was thinking your military contact could provide some source material... national security sensitive stuff removed, of course, for some games we are designing."

Kei made sure her atache case containing her DSA gear was close. "See this case, Bill. This is my gear in case I get called away. At any moment I may be needed for anything. Natural Disasters, Military Affairs, Searcn and Rescue... I am bound to my oath that I took when I joined the DSA to serve to the best of my ability."

She sighed. "Although recently my star has faded in the DSA constellation lately. I'm sure once the hot-heads at the DoD decide to cool off and let me off the chain again things will be... interesting."

"I don't mind writing material and sending it off from time to time, and perhaps putting together some system input to make whatever you use is actually liked by your potential customers."

She sits back, smiling. "That... and I am so tired of Fantasy..."

She looks over to her Elven table-mates. "Although Shadowrun is one hell of a good time. I need to get back into that... The guy with Catalyst was real nice..."

She was being shrewd... seeing what she can negotiate. She made it clear her duty does in fact come first, but she has some wiggle... or perhaps if they can make the deal sweeter...

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“Wearing this? There is only one choice.” Karrie held up her phone with a flourish, displaying the con’s schedule. One calloused finger pointed to the next showing of The Ghost in the Shell. Connor grinned at her as the slim phone disappeared into her clothing. “I know, a bit predictable.” She lightly squeezed his arm. “I hope you can forgive me for that.”

“I think I can manage.” Together, they headed for the main floor, where the viewing room could be found. The two glided through the massive con, drawing attention for their costumes instead of who they were. Karrie, who was just starting to feel the pain of having a white-hot spotlight of public attention focused on her, appreciated the anonymity.

Across the room, Rob was walking around with one of the booth babes. Karrie rolled her eyes as she uncharitably thought, I thought they weren’t pieces of meat to be gawked over. She’s acting like a whore, not like she deserves respect. The sight of the woman hanging all over Rob was pissing her off, so Karrie turned her attention back to Connor. But the image of Rob and the bimbo was burned into her mind; she had trouble shaking it.

“You okay?” Connor’s voice jarred her out of her thoughts.

Karrie looked up and quickly smiled. “Yeah, I’m fine, just got my brain caught on something else. I’m good now.” She squeezed his arm again. “Don’t worry, you have my full attention.”

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Connor paid only slight attention to passersby, posing for only a few pictures, and chuckled at the movie. It fit of course, and they took their seats in the crowd with little fanfare.

Here, among other fans, he felt most at home at a convention, and he looked to Karrie. "Do I now?"

He rubbed her hand. "Normally when people say that I get abit nervous. With you, well that's not really the case. I like having your attention."

Even Incognito as he was, and not looking like his normal self, he was roguishly handsome. "He smiled as they went largely u recognized, though many did comment on the costumes.

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Karrie could barely focus on the movie. Connor filled her perception, particularly in the dark room. Halfway through the movie, she settled a little and leaned more heavily on him. When he allowed her to cuddle against his side, she took full advantage and settled against him, enjoying the contact. With things going according to her script, she felt a lot better. Connor was being gentle and cuddly. Karrie soaked it up, living one of the many fanfictions she’d written over the years.

The movie seemed to fly by; when it was over, the two of them went to a panel manned by producers of several upcoming anime projects. It was interesting and informative, enough to engage Karrie’s interest and draw her attention for Connor for seconds at a time. After that, they didn’t have anything planned, so they wandered the convention hall, talking and enjoying each other’s company.

After a point, Karrie started to get a little anxious. The vendor’s room was shutting down soon. The rest of the night was looming before them; as if to prove the point of her thoughts, she saw Rob and the hussy slip out of the hall together. Choking back irritability in Rob’s choice in women, she glanced up at Connor. “Any thoughts for what we’re doing next?” Her voice was so innocent that the Pope wouldn’t have perceived the naughty ideas tumbling in her head.

“Everything’s shutting down for a few hours-,” Connor began, but he wasn’t fast enough to finish his thought before Karrie interrupted him.

“Wanna come up to my room for those few hours, then?” Whereas before her intentions were clear, now they were obvious.

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Connor looked at her, and somewhere, warnings went off and were ignored. He smiled to her and nodded. This is exactly what she wanted all along flashed through his mind, and he shunt it away. They were grown adults after all, she probably just wanted to be alone with him awhile since she'd had to share him all day with everyone else.

"That sounds like fun Karrie." His smile was the stuff of legend, that could make women melt and their hearts skip a beat.

He allowed her to lead him back upstairs to her room, noting no one was around, either they were asleep, or still at other events. He smiled, happy to have had such a good time with her, and that obviously she had a good time with him.

He smiled as she opened the door, and bid him enter. He headed in and sat on the bed, her room didn't have a couch, and the chair was fairly small and uncomfortable, so unless she insist, he'd remain where he was.

"That was one heck of a day."

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“Yeah, it was awesome.” Karrie was kicking herself, she should have suggested that they go back to his room. It was much more spacious and there would be more room for… shenanigans. Just the thought of the ‘shenanigans’ left her face growing warm. For a second, she wasn’t sure what to do, then she thought, what would you do in your fictions?

Her favorite fanfiction had been Journey Through the Endless Night. She’d tried a slightly more aggressive approach in that story, and it’d worked pretty well. Suddenly even more nervous than she had been a moment ago, Karrie stripped off the jacket of the costume. The motion revealed her shoulders and back to the room, as well as emphasizing the obscenely high cut over her hips. Connor’s eyes gratifyingly settled on her bared skin a moment before he asked, “What do you want to do tomorrow?”

“I hadn’t thought that far.” Karrie feigned nonchalance as she unbuckled her belt and dropped it and the mocked-up gun into the uncomfortable chair. “I actually hadn’t thought about anything beyond tonight.” As he looked up at her, comprehension crossed his features, Karrie slipped into his lap, grabbed his jacket, and pulled him in for an intense kiss.

She was gonna rock his world, Coyote-style.

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Connor kissed her back enthusiastically. The warnings grew louder, and still he didn't seem to want to listen. His hands moved gently to stroke her exposed back and he smiled. "Something tells me that this is what you've wanted all day, Karrie."

He silently wondered how far she was willing to go, and for that matter, how far HE was willing to go...

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With an elbow on the table as he gestured animatedly, Bill kept his face smooth, but his eyes twinkled as he talked with Kei. The girl was quick witted, it was true, but he had a Rep in the gaming industry since she was in elementary school.

Also, she may not been aware, but Catalyst Game Labs had made a deal with Connor 'Mech' Fortenot, encouraging them to focus on their BattleTech line. But Bill's eyes followed Kei's toward the pair of unconsciously sexy elves. He was privately relieved that they were more interested in Fantasy than Cyberpunk, otherwise their Shadowrun department would have been panting after them harder than WotC was.

"Wizards understands. While fantasy will always be the flagship genre for the D&D brand, we are hoping to bring in more contemporary and futuristic settings with the advent of the latest edition," Bill said, enthusiasm making his voice warm and quick. "D20 Modern was a step in the right direction, but we want our newer rules to be more consistent between Fantasy, Modern, and Future settings and we're hoping you can help us find the balance between epic gameplay and a realism that isn't strangling. Our eventual goal being a system that is seamlessly modular, able to model any setting, with rules that are simple, but with options to add depth and complexity others prefer. Urban Fantasy is our natural follow-up to having Forgotten Realms being our base setting and to that end, we're working on licensing Jim Butcher's Dresden property, but there are already ideas for gritty, military-based games too, with and without fantastic powers."

"About that," Liam interjected, "I've had some ideas on that front. I had the party thrown in a modern setting once, just for a light-hearted change of pace..."

Despite being a PR Rep and Recruiter for WotC, Bill was also obviously a fan of RPGs as well, relishing the back-and-forth. He, and the rest of the group, involved Kei in the discussion as well, the accents of the group from England giving their talk an international air.

Though he wasn't bending over backward to give her all the goodies, he wasn't contemptuous of what she could offer either. He simply focused on her as a fan with some insight on the industry and an expert in her own field with the DSA, rather than as a nova. They were courting the glamorous pair of elves for that.

"So, Connor... odd I know another Connor, but you're interesting too... you designed their "costumes"? Is fantasy your specialty?"

"Gee, thanks, lass. You know how to make a man feel wanted," Connor commented with amused wryness. "Yeah, I watch it all - love Outlaw Star myself - but favour the magical fantasy genres. And I didn't actually design the costumes," he admitted, with a nod a Taeli.

"But I did - strenuously - influence it. You know, originally, Kev dressed his character in chainmail and was flat as a boy. Told him, if he was going to play a girl, she should have some curves. Didn't she look so much better in leather and thigh-highs, Kei?"

Finishing her glass of wine, Taeli shot Connor a cute scowl across the table. "I still ended up with more than just some curves, Connor," Taeli countered. "Kei, do you know what his first suggestion was? A half-giant Elven Amazon with an overcompensatingly large two-handed sword, knockers out to here," Taeli held out her hands in front of her chest, pantomiming a ridiculously large bustline, "and wearing a chainmail bikini that was made with less metal than... than this fork! Oh, and the spike-heeled thigh-highs!"

Despite her diatribe, Taeli didn't sound affronted or contemptuous, exactly. More, mocking and exasperated. Connor for his part, was completely unapologetic."

"Would have been totally hot, Kev!" Connor confided. "And you wouldn't be complaining about being short. You would've been even taller than Barbarian Alan." Connor glanced down at Kei beside him, his grey eyes twinkling. "Don't mind her, Kevin - Taeli - is just regretting what could've been instead of what is. Hey, after dinner, you want to head back to Con with me, Kei? They're showing some Anime in one of the halls."

Taeli sighed, certainly not regretting being an over-muscled, eight-foot elf with boobs big as beach-balls. Holding out her glass for a refill, she was surprised to find the bottle empty. She wasn't reeling a buzz, but the strength of the sweetness on her tongue suggested she had had more than one glass. No buzz, but she wasn't as concerned about the whispers about her she could still hear.

When the waitress came around to take their meal orders, Amaranth/Vyserian smoothly ordered another bottle - which management had already prepared for, just in case. The frown that bloomed on Taeli's face when the waitress began describing the vegetarian plates they had did fill her with dismay. It always irritated Taeli when it was assumed she was a vegetarian, just because she looked like an elf. She wasn't, and her character hadn't been either. She ordered the Filetto Di Manzo.

And all the while dinner was served and eaten, the talk continued. Taeli even pulled out a sketch pad from her invisible pocket to make some quick drawing when she got annoyed sketching on a napkin.

Working on another glass of wine, Taeli was feeling more relaxed and less concerned about the attention she was drawing, just for looking the way she did. And seeing Ames in Vyserian was a gratefying thrill she didn't want to end.

She had no intention of slinking back to her hotel room after dinner, unless it was just to change her bra. The one she was wearing really helped subdue her bust, but it was starting to feel mildly tight and restrictive.

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As Kei enjoyed her meal, she sighed, looking around for Nate who was still no where to be found... even after dropping the dime on the get-together. "Actually... I think I'm going to go back to my room after this. I might leave the con early, even..."

There was a sense of dissapointment in her voice, and not just from Nate not being there.

"After considerations... " She pats her mouth clean. "...I think I will politely decline." Something about Connor's hard-driving need to get together with Kei put her off. "And not just on getting together after tonight. That was always no."

She started to look a little perturbed.

"In fact, I think I will be going..."

She picks up her case when she rises. "I'm sorry. But I don't see anything that WotC can provide I already got."

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Karrie broke the kiss to murmur, “All my life. I’ve wanted you all my life, Connor.”

The vague alarms became more strident, but she was kissing him again, driving away the worries with ardent affection. Her hands were toying with his hair, her nails brushing lightly over his scalp. Then they slipped lower, playing over his shoulder and down to his covered chest. Her hands were shaking as she flattened her palms against his shirt. That shiver of motion reminded him that she was not experienced, at all.

Whatever doubts he was feeling didn’t touch her at all. When their kiss ended, she smiled at him and reached for his jacket, gently pushing it off his shoulders and down his arms. “All your life?” Connor gently probed.

Karrie laughed. “Well… maybe not before your eruption. But definitely since I saw your first movie. And when I realized you were the robot, too… well, what anime nut could resist you then?”

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DAMN

He looked at her and his eyes narrowed. "Why? I know a good number who could have easily resisted on those grounds."

He shook his head, "But not on others." Alot of gears were turning now, and he seemed to move slower, not responding as ardently as one would think.

"Is that the only reason you wish to be with me so ardently?" His tone wasn't accusatory, mostly curious, and his eyes seemed somewhat hopeful still.

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“No.” Karrie sounded faintly offended. “I was wanted you from the first moment I saw you. But it was everything else about you: your life philosophy, your charitable works and just you that made that want more than a passing fancy. You’re incredible, Connor, the most incredible man in the world. I’ve never met your equal and I’ve never wanted another man other than you.”

The young woman gazed at him with that besotted look on her face—and with her words, he could clearly see that it went somewhere beyond besotted into obsessive. Suddenly, Director Horst’s subtle, veiled comments over the last few months made sense—way too much sense.

Still smiling, Karrie leaned in for a kiss.

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"I;m nothing special Karrie. I've been very fortunate, that's all."

He kissed her lightly, then pulled away. She wanted him, and offered all of herself in return, freely. Her desire was deep, deeper than any he knew, and that honestly scared him abit.

"What about Rob? You two were so close, Everyone thought you two were a happy couple when we all met." It was true that he did as well.

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“Rob?” Karrie pulled back sharply, her smile gone. Her voice was sharp as she demanded, “What does he have to do with this?”

“You’re close to him. Why wouldn’t you date him?” Mech asked.

Real fear crossed the young woman’s face—fear and confusion. “I couldn’t date Rob. He’s my best friend. Why are you asking me this?”

“Because it’s natural for a man to ask a woman about this, especially about the guy he thought she was dating when they met. You two are close, I wanted to make sure you’re not actually together.” Mech found her reaction a bit over the top, and that was telling in itself. “You clearly care about him, and him about you.”

“I can’t date him. If we broke up, I’d lose my best friend just when I need him.” Karrie was getting more and more agitated; this conversation was all wrong. “And you’re wrong—you are special. Perfect, even.”

“Karrie, I’m just a guy.” Connor shook his head. “No one’s perfect, certainly not me.”

“Damnit, Connor, yes you are!” She was getting angry and frustrated, and Karrie never operated well under those kinds of pressures. For those who knew her, like her family or Rob, these shortcomings were expected and easily managed. “Fuck, why can’t you just do what you’re supposed to? This was supposed to be perfect!”

Connor’s eyes narrowed. “What I’m supposed to?”

“Not like… a puppet. Just… I’ve dreamed about being with you since I fell in love with you.” Karrie’s expression was turning desperate as she realized this was spiraling out of control. All of her nova-fueled abilities to manipulate and shift people her direction floundered in the face of her lack of experience with men. Had she known how to handle a man, she probably could have salvaged the moment. But she didn’t, and so she kept talking. “I’ve planning this out over and over in my head, and in the fics, and it’s supposed to be perfect and magical. I’ve waited and saved myself for you so it would be only you. I want my dream guy, Connor. I want you. I love you.”

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"The concern," Vyserian was still talking like Amaranth, his light eyes a bit distant as he spoke, "is primarily one of royal obligations and perception." He grimaced and bit his lip, and entirely un-Vyserian reaction. "The desire is not for an increased number of exemptions, merely the understanding that in a conflict between royal duties and obligations and those to WotC, the royal ones will take precedent."

Not that Mother and Father are really pushing for those, right now, Amaranth sighed in their mind.

They are confused, Vyserian responded softly. Give them time.

It's been months! she whined.

That's not very long, your highness. They feel like they've lost a daughter and we've been more focused on learning to cope ourselves than in reaching out to your family.

Amaranth groused unhappily and retreated a bit from 'driving' them to pout. The shift was subtle, but for Taeli and the three psiads there, it was enough for them to know that something had changed.

Bill had been rubbing his chin and thinking again, images for the new movie floating through his head alongside the legalease he would have to thread carefully if he was going to nab the princess-turned-wizard elf. "Well, that may need to be worked out with the Swedish royal palace, then, but I'm sure a schedule that leaves time for both could be arranged. We could put it in the contract that each year before the contract renews, WotC and the palace would work out a schedule together for you." Things you'd never thought you'd say in job....

Vyserian nodded, "That would most likely work, then."

Kei's odd departure a few minutes later left the table quiet for several moments. Bill frowned but stood and offered Kei a friendly parting handshake. "Well, I hope we see you again at the booth, at least. Have a good evening and thanks for joining us." The others waved goodbye as well, looking disappointed but allowing the nova woman to go as she wished.

Food, all of it expensive and most of it quite delicious, was served not long after; silence descended again as nova and gamer appetites made short work of the mountain of dishes. More wine was poured and after-dinner conversation turned back to the details of the live gaming sessions and the proposed movie remake. Vyserian was quiet throughout, the elf only minimally interested in the conversation and the princess still sulking from the reality that not all love was unconditional or immediately accepting.

At a little before ten, Bill stood up. "The Dance in the Dark event is about to begin, if you would all like to go. There are glow sticks and glow-in-the-dark goodies in the gift bags we sent you, and this is a good time to get to unwind without being the center of attention for a while."

Dance in the Dark was a dance in the largest ballroom of the convention, a lights-off, blacklights and glow sticks -on event that was new to the convention this year. As an evening event - and in the dark - it was also an adults-only event. Vyserian caught Taeli's eye and arched a brow, silently asking if she wanted to attend or do something else for the evening.

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Kei stopped in her walk and turned around.

"Actually, you want to know why I am turned off with working with your company, Bill?"

She points an accusatory finger at Connor. "That damn pervert right there. I had it up to here with this... weasel... bordering on sexual harassment trying to get under my damn panties."

"That's why I am saying Thanks... but nope."

She crossed her arms after setting her case on the floor, with many of the workers staring at Kei's sudden outburst. "I believe I am owed an apology."

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His yellow eyes narrowed. Inwardly he raged. Ahe was the same as all the other fangirls. They wanted some perfect scripted romance, he was supposed to act like the heroes he portrayed, dashing, gallant, and be the penultimate lover for them. That's all they wanted from him, Only a handful wished for more than some caricature of a character he portrayed. He had hoped to find Karrie among those. She wasn't she was a fangirl, and one with the same level of power he possessed which could be dangerous.

"I can't say the same, Karrie." He looked away mostly, knowing his words would cut her deeper than any blade. "I care for you, I really do, but I'm not in love with you."

He stood up, picking up his Jacket, using how she'd pulled back to wiggle out from under her and leave her sitting on the bed. "To go any further in this wouldn't be fair to you. It's just not going to work out."

He pulled on his jacket, knowing his words hit with the full force of finality he meant, perhaps abit more harshly than intended. "Goodnight." He shut the door behind him and simply vanished, reappearing through a gate in his own room.

There he screamed, giving vent to the rage he'd kept masked. "Goddammit." was all he could say once the moment of rage passed. The phone rang, as there'd been a report of screaming, he cleared it up and sighed. "Well, I guess, beyond my obligations, I'm done here. Nothing left save to hit the pods for a round or two, and go home."

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Never in her life would Karrie have thought events would move too fast for her. But the mood in the room went from romantic to disastrous in seconds, and Karrie had no idea how to respond anymore. Things were so far gone that she could only stare in wide-eyed shock as Connor left in a cold rage.

The girl sat on her bed where he’d left her, staring at the door. “Con-” Her voice cracked on his name, and she was horrified by how ragged it sounded. Her lips shivered as she looked up, her eyes catching their own reflection in the mirror. She looked pale, her copper skin washed out. Her eyes roamed over her wig and costume, and sudden disgust rose in her. “Stupid!” she hissed, yanking her wig off without releasing the hairpins. Her dark hair tumbled around her shoulders, even as she grabbed at the purple bodysuit. Frantically, she pulled it off of her, heedless of whether she tore it.

Even just being in her underwear was too much, the undergarment a reminder of the humiliation and pain she’d just endured. And yet when she stood in her own skin even that was painful. The young woman found herself in her shower, the water turned as hot as she could stand, scrubbing. Only when all the makeup and styling gel and perfume from the night was gone could she shut off the water. That’s when she realized she was crying.

Washing away the signs of the night’s debacle had released her to feel the pain of the moment, and tears rolled down her face. She couldn’t stop crying, and Karrie realized that she’d never stop. Words tried to flow, to express her feelings, but in the lonely hotel room they were stuck in her throat. Karrie was choking on her pain, driven mute by the agony in her heart.

The young woman grabbed her robe, drawing on its comfort. Then she shoved her room key in the pocket and left the room. There was only one place she could go, one way she could excise the wound in her mind. She darted through the halls of the hotel, her head down with her dark hair hiding her still-weeping eyes. People noticed her, but a young woman in the halls in a robe was not that unusual.

At the right door, she stopped and knocked, a hesitant, cringing rhythm. There was no answer and Karrie pressed her ear to the door, listening. She could hear a voice, a female voice. She didn’t have time for this. She snagged a wire from a passing fairy’s wing and a piece of foil from the back of someone’s cape.

Within two minutes, she had the door open. The woman standing in her bra and underwear at the foot of the bed blinked in surprised as Karrie entered the room. Rob, sitting against the headboard with a sheet over him and his arms over his head, looked surprised for two seconds. Then that became annoyance, which shifted almost instantly to concern when he actually saw his friend’s face.

“Rob?” The woman took her eyes off Karrie, which was always a mistake. By the time she looked back at the strange brown-skinned intruder, Karrie had grabbed her clothing in one hand and her arm in another. “Rob!” the booth-bunny squawked as she was hauled out of the room and shoved into the hall.

Rob was still debating how to get from under the sheet without flashing Karrie when she returned to the bed and climbed into his lab. Her arms pressed around his neck, completely unaware that he was naked under the sheets, or that his arms were over his head because they were handcuffed to the light fixture. Only when she was safe with her best friend could the words come: “Con-con-connor dumped me!”

That’s when the tears really started.

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Taeli glanced up at Amy through her long lashes, lips curving in a smile. It was slow and sensual in way that Amy would never have expected to see from the usually introverted and reserved Kevin, yet there was a tentative hesitancy didn't belong to the Princess Vyserian knew.

Maybe it was all the wine she had drunk - thinking back, it seemed like she had drunk the majority of it at dinner - but moping back in her room was about the last thing Taeli felt like doing. And she wanted to move. She had never danced as Kevin, but Taehlyri'salatria could dance up a storm, and if she was being truthful, Taeli could admit to herself at least, that she enjoyed it.

She normally kept it to herself, but with Amy showing more and more in Vyserian, Taeli wanted to show off a bit. Plus, it would be dark save for the glowsticks and lightshow - enough for her and Amy/Vyserian to see clearly, but not anyone else.

Bill swallowed and made an effort to picture his wife when Taeli turned her smile on him as she stood up, along with the others. "I think the Dance in the Dark is just the thing to end out the night. Thank-you, Mr. Tip - Bill."

It was at this point Kei made her return and confronted Connor. Connor hunched his shoulders under the glare from the tiny woman as his friends all shifted uncomfortably, wry grins flickering around their lips. They had known Connor for years, in some cases for a decade - they had grown accustomed to his antics and knew the real him. Sure he was a bit of a perv, but he was a friend too.

"Quite right. You are indeed owed an apology," Taeli said in her velvety soprano, smirking at Connor, swinging her hips as she made a pair of graceful dance steps, then linking her arm with Amy's. "Connor, why don't you get on that, why we go get changed for dancing, hmm?"

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Connor managed to pull his eyes off Taeli's ass and return them to meet Kei's, a faint redness suffusing his cheeks. Sometimes, it was hard to remember his best mate Kevin was ever a man. She looked like a woman, sounded like a woman, and walked like a woman, and one Hell of a woman at that.

"Look, all that rubbish? It's me just running my mouth," Connor admitted, his tone softened by his Irish brogue. "I like anime a lot, I'll admit. My friends, not nearly as much. So it was nice to talk with a lass who is as interested in it as I am. And who I find interesting too."

He tried a roguish grin, then hurried on when Kei just kept staring at him firmly. "I didn't know you had a boyfriend. I was just trying to flirt a little - I wasn't expecting it to go any longer than the Con. I guess I came off a little too... erm, strong and boyish. For that, I am truly sorry and I apologize, Kei."

Connor sighed, then looked down at his feet, then ran a hand through his hair before meeting Kei's gaze again. "There's still a few days left of the Con. If you like, I'd still like to take a gander through it with you - nothing else, just as chaps with mutual interests. What do you say?"

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Kristof Wyste wasn't to keen on his charge being out and about without him, but Taeli had told him in no uncertain terms that they were going to the Dance in the Dark, with or without him, and since he didn't have a ticket, it looked like it was without him. When she wanted to, Taeli could exert a tremendously forceful presence - one she hadn't possessed in her boobless days, and would rarely have dared in any case - and Kristof decided not to make an issue of it.

Humming sweetly to herself, Taeli juggled the gift basket from Wizards and her suitcase as she began slipping out of her pantsuit even before she was fully in the bathroom, and didn't even bother closing the door all the way. For the briefest moment, Taeli had considered changing right in front of Amy, but she hadn't even done so as a boy, and though she was in a great mood, she didn't want to feel like a stripper.

I've never even been in a stripclub, and now, I could be the headliner, Taeli mused regretfully as she glanced down at herself, stripped to her underwear. With a great breath of relief, she yanked off the minimizer-bra and tossed it in the garbage. Slim down her bust or not, after wearing it for over an hour, it was feeling too constrictive and breathing took more of an effort.

Slipping on one of her regular bras, frowning faintly at how her breasts filled and stretched the cups - she wasn't sure it was supposed to fit like that, but it was a 34DD, which were the measurements she'd written down once for her PC - Taeli realized she didn't have a clue what one wore to a dance like the Dance in the Dark. So she decided on black, figuring she couldn't go far wrong with that.

Unfortunately, she only pair of black jeans she had was a pair her sister had picked out for her. They sat lower on the hips than she was used to and were a great deal more snug. She pulled out a black, short-sleeved shirt with the high neck and pulled it on, glad to find that it wasn't too tight across her front, though the comparatively loose waist kept pulling after she tucked in. It was probably just as well she didn't notice the white writing on the shirt across the fullest part of her bust: Vitamin DD.

Digging through the gift-basket, Taeli pulled out all the glowsticks. It took only a moment to see how they could be hooked together and they were very flexible. Pondering for a moment, she picked out all the blue and purple glowsticks - they had been her character's colours and she liked them herself.

She twisted some of them into bracelets that went up half her forearms. Others she bent into rings and hung them from her belt-loops. She also made herself a kind of woven circlet and finally used a pair of glowsticks and twisted them into a tight clasp for the end of her French-braid. If she was going to go out and dance, she might as well go all out, right? The contrast between her creamy pale skin, dark clothing, and the glowsticks was quite striking.

She pulled on the same pair of shoes she had worn for dinner - they were sporty and comfy enough for dancing - and sauntered back into the main-room, this time not even pausing to give warning. She was so graceful and light on her feet, she was almost dancing already.

"Ready for a night of dancing, Ames?" Taeli queried with a small, self-deprecating chuckle. "I wager you never thought you'd hear me say that, hmm..."

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