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Sean Cassidy

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

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August 16th, Morning

Indianapolis, Indiana

"Come on, Kev! Get your tits in gear! Just 'cause you're a girl now, you take forever to get ready? Bet you Vy and Amy are waiting on your pretty ass, too. Aren't you?"

Taeli scowled at her reflection in the bathroom mirror as she deftly twisted her purple hair into intricate braids, binding them to the back of her head with a pair of jeweled hair clips. Long, pointy ears weren't just form, they had function too - through the bathroom door and the door to her and Amaranth's hotel room at the JW Marriott, she could clearly hear the rumbling baritone that belonged to the biokinetically-enhanced-to-near-seven-feet Alan.

"Keep your skirt on, Alan, I'm almost ready," she said, opening the bathroom door for a second and pitching her voice to carry, before closing it again. And here I am a stupid, sexy, soprano... It was a tired, resigned thought as she reached down to adjust her breasts inside her bustier, then tugged up at the cups, but it was only a delaying tactic. No amount of fiddling would make her bustier cover more than the little it did.

With several months of living as a woman under her belt, Taeli was mostly used to her body now, if still having trouble with all and the type of attention it received. And she certainly wasn't accustomed to dressing like this, regardless of how incongruously comfortable it was - she still preferred loose, unisex clothing that downplayed her taut, stunning curves.

Letting her sister talk her into going out to a club in London for her seventeenth birthday at the beginning of August had been a big mistake. But she had been allowed off the Ramillies compound for one of the rare times without a minder and had spent a great weekend with her family, so was in high-spirits and had let herself get lost in the music... Well, suffice to say, at least as far as she was concerned, it definitely was possible to be too sexy for your own good.

Really, Kathy hadn't needed to laugh, she might have been used to having some guy grind his hard-on against her ass, but Taeli wasn't! Nor was she used to being propositioned and proposed to so often and so blatantly.

Sighing, she studied herself in mirror as she pulled out a small jewelry box out of her invisible Bag of Holding - what her friends annoyingly called her invisible purse. She picked through it, skipping the earrings - which she already wore - adorning fingers with tastefully elegant rings of gold, silver, and mithril, gemmed and not. According to the scientists, it was actually a unique alloy of platinum, osmium, and titanium they couldn't believe was naturally occuring, but to her, it was mithril, the same as the combs studded with sapphires binding her hair. She didn't even consider the circlet - yes, she had a damned tiara! among other things - seeing that as too much.

She had to admit, she looked fantastic, if anything, even more attractive than when she had first erupted to her consternation - she could readily believe she had a nymphly heritage. The backless bustier and shoulder-length, fingerless gloves of deep blue leather embossed with arcane patterns of gold contrasted flatteringly with her pale, perfect complexion. Taeli perched easily in the four-inch heels of the matching thigh-high boots, which highlighted her firm, shapely legs and pert behind - at least it gave her something closer to her old, male height.

The length of her elegant ears were bedecked with a number of earrings, studs and small hoops and cuffs, and her Luckstone rested snug in the hollow of her throat. In addition to the rings, she had also added a fine gold chain, the gold pendant of a stylized heart - the symbol of Hanali Celanil, the Elven Goddess of love and beauty - resting between her full breasts. She topped it off with a cloak of cloth-of-silver that reached her ankles, trimmed in dark fur and backed with lavender silk.

She pulled the final piece of her costume from her bag of holding and clipped it to one of the two belts hanging from her hips. A scabbard of gleaming black shadowtop wood, capped and mounted in mithril, the intricate crossguard and pointed pommel in clear display. She and Vyserian had gotten a special dispensation to wear their moonblades from WotC.

She looked sensual without being slutty, fey and exotic, and even a little dangerous, like she could kick-ass and look hot doing it, then would be ready for a ball. She was nervous showing so much skin while not wearing a bathing suit, and had never worn so much jewelry in her life - even if she could picture her PC doing so - but she did look like her character down to virtually the last detail. That had been part of the deal with WotC, that they would all dress in-character while attending GenCon, while they provided the plane tickets and accommodations.

She wondered if Liam and Connor were just claiming that to see her strutting around in her fantasy gear. At least they were dressed up too. Then again, she had seen pictures from past cons, they might hardly stand out at all. Okay, that was probably asking too much...

Nervous she might be, Taeli was equally, if not more, excited to be here. The compound in Ramillies was beginning to chafe and the gaming group had been talking about attending GenCon since last year. Their eruptions and awakenings had completely disrupted those plans of course.

Then Liam and Connor revealed they had gotten in contact with Wizards of the Coast, who, along with their corporate masters at Hasbro, were certainly interested in five young adults who in some ways had become their Dungeon & Dragons characters, especially the two Nova-Elves. There couldn't be better publicity than that, and it would certainly give them a boost to a demographic they were losing to MMOs, as well as attract new gamers to the industry.

More importantly - and surprisingly - EuroNet had allowed them to attend, contingent on them being accompanied by minders to keep an eye on their potential assets, one for each nova, and one for the three psiads. Teali blushed, recalling giggling in glee at the news. In her extra-dimensional satchel, she had copies of The Gathering Storm and The Towers of Midnight for the Author Guest of Honor to sign, Brandon Sanderson, as well as a book of artwork for the Artist Guest of Honor, Todd Lockwood, who had been of the artists responsible for the look of third edition of D&D. He had been an influence on her own art style and she had a portfolio of her own artwork too, to show him and some of the other artists attending, as well as the reps at Wizards.

She had been interested in being a commercial artist and still was. She had sold a few commissions through her DeviantArt page, but had to close that down after being inundated by requests once it was known she was a nova.

This trip was full of firsts for her. Her first convention, her first trip overseas, her first time on a plane. She had been anxious on the plane at first - Thank God that Amaranth's status as a princess meant they had had a charted diplomatic flight all to themselves - enough that she had seriously debated pulling on her boots, since they allowed her to fly, just in case, but refrained the urge. It was silly, she could picture herself flying on the back of a dragon, on giant eagles and griffons, and those had all been exhilarating, yet the plane unnerved her. She'd gotten over it during the last half of the flight though. Mostly.

But now she was here and she didn't intend hiding in her hotel room the entire time. Not the least because it was slightly awkward sharing it with Amaranth and Vyserian, even if a few months had made it somewhat easier to deal with her and his predicament. And she was only sharing with them because it would have been even more awkward sharing it with either her minder, or Alan, Connor, or Liam, though all three had been more than eager to do so.

Humming lightly, she checked herself in the mirror once more, made sure her cloak was draping properly and leaving her swordhilt clear, then sauntered out of the bathroom and struck a playful pose for Amaranth, that fell somewhere between fashion model and heroic Bladesinger.

"So, Ames, think this will do for dressing up as a Moon-elf Bladesinger?" Taeli asked, her exotically accented soprano tinted with hesitant playfulness.

Only then did she notice that is wasn't only Amaranth - and Vyserian - in the room. Their minders were there, Kristoff Wyst and Vitalia Rosellini, eyes hidden behind mirrorshades turning in her direction.

Alan, Connor, and Liam were there too. Alan McAvoy was seven feet of red-headed barbarian, dressed in a kilt, furred boots, heavy gauntlets, his broad chest criss-crossed with a pair of wide leather bandoleers and an absurdly large - and fake - greataxe on his back. Connor Donovan was dressed in leather armor dyed green, with latex ears giving him mild points and a bow. Liam had dyed his hair white, as well as his sparse, trimmed beard, and was dressed in a white suit, claiming his was the Architect from some movie from about ten years ago.

And they were staring at her unabashedly.

Taeli's string of vehement curses was in Elven, but was as emphatic as the blush staining her cheeks a pale purple.

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Vysarian, dressed in his own spider-silk robes that shimmered when moved but no longer provided the same protection to him as metal plate mail, rose from the bed and stepped behind Taeli. She felt his hands tug at the bustier in several places, making minuscule adjustments that somehow settled her perfectly into the skin-tight half-of-an-outfit, relieving tensions and a slight pinch under her arms that she hadn't noticed yet but that would have made her miserable in a few hours. "There," her murmured, his hands resting gently on her hips for a moment before he remembers himself and stepped back.

"Amaranth says that you're hardly dressed," there was a tint of amusement in his tenor and the ornate earring looped through his left ear several times made bell-like chimes as he shook his head, "but definitely dressed up."

The rest of the boys snorted and pretended to try not to laugh; Rosellini frowned at the awkward interplay between the two novas and any reaction from Wyst was hidden behind the mirrorshades. Vysarian stepped back around her, picking up his own sword and belting it comfortably around his robes, cinching the fabric fetchingly around his own slim hips. The two of them together truly were a beautiful sight, if almost intimidating because of their otherworldly appeal. The group rustled through the room for another moment or two, then with minders in tow, set off for the main floor of the convention. There would be a panel interview later, and time spent at the WotC booth for photos and a dinner with some executives, but for right now they were free to roam the convention hall as they pleased.

Vysarian smiled at Taeli as they left the hotel, something in the curve of his lips and the tilt of his head that sent shivers through Taeli as memories of Amaranth smiling that same way while snuggled against him watching movies in the living room at home on Saturday nights flashed through her mind. He held out a hand to her, not an arm like the noble-born elf would have, but the way the incognito princess would when they were walking down the halls of their school to their next class. It was the first real flash Taeli had seen of his...her? girlfriend since this whole mess had begun.

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= 24 Hours Before GenCon =

"Director... If anything my talents are better served in the field, I can't afford to take time away from my duties as Sea Eagle."

"I'm sorry Kei, but you have accumulated over 3 years of time about 2 full months of vacation time. You have refused to take that time off and by regulation you are supposed to use that time. If not I will have to answer to my superiors in Congress and the President himself!"

Kei sighed. "Is this an order?"

Director Horst looked at her. "I'd rather it not. The last thing I feel I should do is order somoene to take a vacation."

"How's May feeling about this?"

"She's sitting on a beach in Florida as we speak."

Kei sighed. "Very well... I got public appearances and private affairs I have to attend to... Just three things..."

"...One, I get to wear my suit to public engagements."

"Of course, that's part of your image, Kei. Go to town."

"...Two, I am guaranteed that this is vacation time with pay?"

Director Horst sighed. "Yes... you will get that." Even though on recent missions and requisitions she's stressed the budget. Then again she has achieved equal or greater results across the board.

"...Three, I get to fly Dragon 1."

"Negatory on that. You're still grounded after what took place during Operation: Valiant Shield. You took too many unnecessary risks."

"They paid off, Director."

"Yes, and until the Defense Department sees fit to allow you to fly their military-grade weapons, you won't even see a simulator."

"What about the private jet?"

"No."

Kei sighed. "I guess two out of three ain't bad. Alright, see you in two months."

= Day 1 =

Kei streaked across the skies of Indiana, moving at Mach 12, she wasted no time, a blue streak of light behind her. As she arrived at the venue, she made a few calls as she slowed to a more pedestrian 50 miles an hour for her final approach.

"Yeah, it's Miss Nakano. I've arrived at the Marriott, Is the presentation ready for the game? Excellent. I look foreward to putting my face to the product... Yeah it was fun playtesting it over online.... Right, thanks, Mr. Kenson."

She smiled as she approached the White River from the west, and does a quick arc upward, kicking water into the air before landing right at the front of the massive hotel and convention center complex. Her navy blue cloak moving dramatically as she walked in, fully armored and geared. She had her re-enforced metal suitcases with her belongings in both hands.

She withdrew the armor plating to let her hair once again flow free. She's let it grow longer, and she straightened it out.

She immediately headed to registration. She had pre-registered and she was going to attend this year, extra vacation time or not. Putting her face on a roleplay product being produced by one of her favorite companies was a coup.

As soon as she had her badge, she de-armored, and clipped her badge to her orange vest and started looking around at the various vendors and exhibits. And most importantly the gaming schedule. In her tactical pouches she had several Magic decks, and one last pocket full of various die types. One of her cases was loaded with D&D and Mutants and Masterminds books, in fact she was going to get Steve Kenson to sign her "Agents of the DSA" book she helped playtest.

She happily hummed as people stared at the 4'11, even for this crowd oddly dressed girl as she strutted along, looking for swag and for a good duel. She heard there might be other novas here. Something from the BBC about real-life Nova Elves or something, then there were rumbles of Karrie and Connor stopping in. She looked foreward to seeing them. But she wished that Nate would have gave her a solid Yes or No that he would be here.

She sighed, knowing that he always seems to make time when he can anyways.

She was disappointed that no one from Department Zero could show from what she heard from conversation from the new Tiger-Man Ryu or Naomi.

Smiling though, she realized she's got connections almost with every major nova on the planet. "Not bad for the living jet" She thinks as she moves in the crowds. Of course these crowds thickened like cholesterol when she was about as people wanted photos or autographs.

She almost wished her whole suit could inflate, just to increase the area considered her "personal space".

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It was a beautiful day in Northern California. The sun was streaming in the windows of the giant airship hanger making an impossibly intricate dance of the dust motes floating in the air. For at least the fifth time since getting dressed, Nate considered blowing off the convention. It was so nice this morning, he hated to ruin it, but there was no guarantee that it would be ruined by the convention. Hell, it was possible that no one would even recognize him even wearing the jedi robes. He had changed so much in the five years since the last time he had been at a con, he was taller, leaner, more muscled, and his face was no longer the pizza face of a hopeless virgin geek he had been back then. Truth to be told he looked like a movie star now, all chiseled features, strong jawline, and perfect complexion.

Still, he was smart enough to know that there would be those who did remember, or recognized him, and not all of the attention would be pleasant. He had killed a boy at the last convention he had attended, and the news had replayed the event caught on film endlessly with his rage-filled face full of hatred and anger. He had had to watch that clip over and over during the trial and it had been like a dagger to the heart every single time. Five years and hundreds of hours of meditation had past and he felt like he had his inner demons dealt with, but going back, and facing that atmosphere again, and knowing that some would revile him for what he had done... it was daunting.

Looking up at the sunbeams again one last time and drinking in the peaceful solitude of the hanger, he took a deep calming breath and let it out slowly. When he felt centered he reached over and pressed the button on his teleporter and in less than a heartbeat he was standing outside of the convention near the front doors. He put his hood up and made sure his lightsabers were securely clipped to his belt then walked toward the doors. Inside he found a sign-in table. There was a badge for him that simply said "NATE COLLINS", they had wanted to put Jedi on the badge, but he had refused. Locust Arts was out to get him, and he wasn't about to give them the ammunition to sue him. It was fine if the press called him Jedi, or Sith for that matter, as long as he didn't claim the title himself. They couldn't sue for what someone else said about him as much as they might want to. He smiled at the thought, they would no doubt have representatives here thanks to the launch of their latest MMO a few months ago.

He was a little envious of the way Kei was able to represent that game company, and then there were rumors that the Elves would be at the con too. Wizard's had no problem with them being literal characters right out of their game... but not Locust Arts, they had to be a bunch of a-holes about it and threaten lawsuits instead of embracing the guy with all the powers of their fictional characters. But he wasn't bitter about that. Of course he wasn't.

He did his best to keep a pleasant smile on his face as he moved through the crowd of convention goers. As awkward as it was, it did feel good to be back. With his hood up few people noticed him among the sea of costumed patrons. There were Jedi and barbarians, sailor moons and monsters, in fact a good percentage of the people were wearing costumes so one more jedi didn't stand out much especially with his hood up, only his participant badge made him different than the other costumed people.

He was actually starting to feel pretty good about attending, when someone stopped him. "Hey, your the real Jedi!" The girl looked to her friends, and continued, "Someone take a picture." She looked back at Nate and asked, "Sorry, would you mind if we got a picture with you real quick?"

"Sure. No problem." He smiled and stood there looking as impressive as he could while they stood at his sides and one of them knelt in front. Then the camera holder switched out for one of the people in the picture and another was taken. Afterwards they gathered around him asking questions about what it was like to be a real Jedi and was it true he had spent the last five years in prison and other more personal questions. He answered the ones he felt comfortable with but ignored some of the others.

That, unfortunately, was the end of his anonymity. For the next couple of hours he was kept busy with pictures and questions. He wanted to see the sights of the show himself and in particular see Kei and meet the Elves, but he was starting to feel he might not see much.

He was sad to be right in regards to the reaction of some people to his presence. While most were polite and respectful of what he had been through, some were just jerks, asking what it was like to use his sith lightening to fry someone, or just being outright hostile to him. He even had one kid spit at him. He side stepped it easily enough, but it had an effect on his mood. Luckily, he didn't have to do anything to the kid, the people around him came to his defense and shoved the teen away and told him to get lost and then apologized for the behavior.

Nate smiled sadly, "It was expected. With the way the news played that clip of me over and over people tend to have strong opinions about what happened."

Just then he was relieved to hear "NATE!" called out over the crowd in a familiar voice. Looking over he saw Kei standing next to a game developer's booth. He excused himself from the people around him and made his way to the jet girl.

"I'm glad you could make it. I wasn't sure if you were going to come." Kei gave him a hug that helped restore his good mood.

He smile and returned the hug, "I wasn't sure if I was going to or not. I am glad I did though, there have been some bad moments, but over all it's been good so far." He gestured to the images of the 'jet girl' on the big posters around the game booth, "How's the game launch going?"

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Kei grinned. "Oh, Green Ronin is definately appreciating having me as their covergirl. Should be interesting what gamers do in making characters. They're adding alot of online support expecting a craze behind this. Primarily either play-by-post or character submissions. Secretly though... I fear the fan-fiction."

She playfully nudges Nate's shoulder. "So, Nate, Here to see the sights and poorly done cosplay?" She grinned saying that, she's seen so much better at the local cons.

"The big release is later in the evening so I got some free time. Want to hang out and see what the lay of the con is?"

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Karrie hadn’t been to a GenCon before. She preferred to spend her con-time and money at one of the big anime cons, but two things had convinced her. First, Kei had invited her. Second, Mech was going to be there, and he’d asked if she was coming. So of course she was going, she assured him, then she went online to be sure that there were actually things she’d be interested in doing there. Thankfully, GenCon had long ago made anime a major part of their convention, so Karrie hadn’t set herself up for four days of boredom.

Next had been a costume – now that Karrie had on hand. Actually, she had a number, but since she liked to start a con off on the right foot, she went with her crowning glory. First the wig: bright red hair rose in insane spikes over her head before a purple scarf caught them and pulled them back to fall behind her head. Her outfit was simple and even demure: a straight black skirt fell to her knees with a white blouse tucked into it. She had a red vest over the blouse and a lab jacket on over that. She had other variations on this costume, other clothing to wear, but she liked to start with this one.

But best of all were her contacts. Karrie had paid a hefty chunk of change to have specialty ones made. They had some sparkle in the iris and larger irises, so they made her eyes look bigger. With the right makeup, which Karrie had long since perfected, they made her look like she had huge eyes. She always got compliments on them.

Now, she just needed to find Connor. He’d promised her that he’d make time for another date with her and she wanted to hunt him down, pin him to the wall and find out the exact time that would be. All in the sexiest and non-pushiest way ever, of course.

She wished Rob had come. He’d talked about it, then dithered when she started to tell him about her special Connor time. It’d be fun to do this with him, but he had work or something. He hadn’t been really clear on that, not that she’d noticed at the time. She was too excited about Connor being there.

Speaking of… he was around here somewhere

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At the hint of her girlfriend residing inside the gorgeous man-elf, rather than hearing her words and thoughts second-hand through Vyserian, Taeli shivered, fair skin prickling with gooseflesh. Her mouth dropped open in pleased shock then spread into a slow, unselfconscious smile. Kevin had been a shy and somewhat reserved boy, yet despite the full, feminine lips, Amaranth saw the rare smile Kevin showed only her.

Taeli was at the other end of the spectrum from Vyserian and Amaranth. A curvaceous elf-maiden of rare beauty, Taeli might look like the princess Vyserian had sworn to serve and moved with a great deal of her sensual grace, but her mannerisms and expressions were still mainly those of the boy Amaranth knew, with some adjustments simply due to her new physique. Admittedly, formerly an introvert, since her eruption, Taeli was slowly growing more social and extroverted, perhaps in response to all the attention she garnered, or maybe because of the growing vividness of scenes for a vivacious elven princess and bladesinger's life.

Taeli laced her fingers with her girlfriend's (?) and strutted proudly across the Skywalk and into the Convention Center, for once not caring that the smaller, more delicate hand belonged to her, or that she was the one who had to look up to meet Amaranth's eyes, if not by much thanks to the heels, or that she was showcasing half her boobs to the world. She'd do nearly anything to see more signs of Amaranth - the cute way she tucked her hair behind her ear, how she pursed her lips when she was thinking deeply about something, more.

Maybe, someday, Amaranth will be the one 'in control' and Vyserian will be the voice in her head. That - I think I could handle that, even if I have to be the girl. We'd still be Kevin and Amaranth, still be us and we'd be together.

Taeli was in such a great mood, she took all the attention the pair of nova-elves drew as soon as they hit the convention floor in stride. She willingly posed for photos, tentatively, then with growing confidence, making a show of it, though she did insist on Vyserian/Amaranth being in them, and made sure Connor, Liam, and Alan were involved too when the focus fell too much on the glamorous and sexy elves.

Her good mood did begin to subside a bit after the sixth guy tried to cop a feel - they found out her slim fingers were surprisingly strong and she caught them every time. It was simply amazing - and not a little disturbing - what people thought they could say to a beautiful girl when she was only half-clothed. She had found that out before, but it was worse at the Con. She was more or less resigned to most people spending eighty percent of the time talking to her tits.

And it was kind of annoying that on this side of the pond, the issue of their genders wasn't really well-known. Sure, she didn't get the odd looks when people considered the stacked elf-babe used to be a man, on the other hand, the ones who actually knew they names though she was Amaranth and Vyserian was Kevin.

Vyserian did get his own flash of Taehlyri'salatria Duirsar when she told off one particularly obnoxious and crass fellow. Her presence grew imperious and fierce, her high voice cold and scathing as she tore him down one side and up the other, the very image of a fiery inhuman princess and warrior - the crystalline sword in her hand certainly added to the image. For a while, Taeli and company walked in a clear circle through the thick crowd, more admirers.

Yet despite the annoyances, Taeli was enjoying herself at her first Convention. There was so much to see! And after short while, she hardly felt like she was barely half-dressed considering what some of the other women - and men! - were wearing, or almost wearing. Even those wearing more fell into a wide range, from the sublime to the bizarre.

The fantasy and medieval-style costumes caught Taeli's eye, some of them very impressive, nearly as authentic as her own - really, in some ways, more authentic, considering as armor, hers should have been worse then useless with the amount of flesh on display. The was the standard plethora of Star Wars outfits - even with Amaranth right there (sort of), one girl in a Golden Bikini caught her eye, and to be fair, Amaranth wasn't a girl at the moment - and a whole host of video game characters. Lots of steampunk too, which she found intriguing. Taeli almost tripped when she realized when she had seen another woman in a Mileena costume, her first thought had been she'd have filled it out ten times better.

It was a little disconcerting meeting what appeared to her and Vyserian's unofficial fan-club. About a dozen of so people dressed up like them, with long, pointed ears and hair coloured either silver or white or various shades of purple and blue. And it seemed gender didn't matter for who they dressed up like. One girl did a very nice Vyserian, standing taller than him with her heels, where as one guy did a shudder-inducing her - she had to admit he had more security in his masculinity to wear something like that in public than she did in her own. Pleasant folk, she signed autographs for them - feeling odd doing so, sure she was a Nova, but she hadn't really done anything yet - but did find their fan-worship cloying.

More than half the costumes had to be anime-influenced. That wasn't really her thing - she had watched some, and had focused more on the artwork and style, while getting ideas for designs for other characters - but Connor and Alan were in heaven. They made a game of naming every character they saw and from which show, and debated the accuracy of the their costumes. From what she caught, Taeli didn't think they had missed one yet.

The group split for a time, Connor, Liam, and Alan wanting to peruse the Game Publisher Booths while Taeli wanted to look at the artists and their work. Unsurprisingly, Vyserian and Amaranth both decided to go with Taeli. Their respective minders followed along unobtrusively. Talking with the artists was Teali's highlight of the day so far. Once they got talking about styles and technique, most of the artists hardly cared she was a freakish elf woman... or at least were able to see her as something more than that. Brom was the one who pointed out the clear refinement of her skills after she erupted - she hadn't noticed at it herself, and it was still subtle, but now she could see it. Probably missed it since I haven't drawn a pic of Teali or Vyserian since we erupted...

Several of the artists even offered to sketch her and Vyserian if they'd take the time to pose for them. She asked Amaranth (and Vyserian) with an arch of her brows, and he readily agreed. Only one sketch was done quickly enough, by Meredith Dillman - she was quite taken by the elves, and blushed every time she glanced at Vyserian - but all the others promised to get them to later that day or tomorrow.

Meeting up with the guys again, and after talking to a few of the artists that did Magic Cards considering seeing if they could find a game or two of Magic going that didn't require preregisteration for tournament play, Taeli found Connor and Alan exclaiming over the latest Anime character.

"Wow! You make an amazing Washu!" Connor said. "Hey! Kev, take my phone and get a pic of us, will you? Doesn't she make a great Washu? Her eyes are as big as yours, maybe bigger. You don't mind do you?"

Not waiting for an answer, the guy looking like a stockier, more manly Link, moved to her side, sliding a hand around her waist as he tossed Taeli his phone. Taeli rolled her eyes and grinned as she lined up the shot. "I'm sure you make a very fine Washu, whoever that - agarinin mandu*!" Taeli cursed, laughing in pleasant surprise. "Karrie? Is that you under the wig and eyes?"

Translation*
Agarinin Mandu - Bloody Hell; direct translation is Bloodiest Abyss

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“Yep! Though now you all know my secret and I have to kill you.” The native woman spoke with such good cheer it was hard to tell if she was in character, having fun or just giving them fair warning. “This is my favorite cosplay outfits, though not my favorite of the outfits I have for it.”

The girl fell silent and her green eyes assessed them critically. “You guys didn’t try very hard, did you? You look just like yourselves!” She tsked, shaking her head. “Or did no one tell you to come in costume?”

“No, this is part of an agreement with WoTC.” Taeli said with a hint of chagrin.

“So… you’re costumed, as your characters, which you erupted into?” Karrie’s made-up red eyebrow had risen higher on her face.

“Well, uh… Sod off, Karrie! Stop making us lame!” Taeli snarled with mock anger before giggling.

“Making you lame? I suppose you could decide that you weren’t lame until I actually said something, rather like a bizarre kind of Schrödinger’s cat, if you must.” Karrie’s grin had become sharp. “I mean, it is conceivable that you weren’t actually seen as lame by the universe until I happened to work it out verbally. Then I guess that’s possible the universe realized that you’d been lame all the time.”

Leaning forward, she stage-whispered, “That’s the Coyote’s job, you know.”

“Karrie… Dineh?” Connor blinked at the woman he had his arm around. “Wait, you’re the Coyote! Wow, this is cool! You like anime?! That is awesome! Kev, why didn’t you tell me you knew a DSA agent?”

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Kei hovered up three feet for a moment, and spotted the familiar sight of one of Karrie's favorite starting costumes and both of the new Nova Elves that had made the Nova scene. She saw the dossier on them, and was quite curious as to how their existance came about. She wasn't too suprised about Catkind, but Elves? What's next? Wizards?

She laughed in a familiar way, a girlish, almost impish giggle that carried over the crowd as she hovered back down to Nate. She grabs his hand. There was a look on her face that made her seem more school-girl than the DSA's finest. "So, hun, let's catch up with Karrie! I spotted her with one of the elves. She's not too far."

Smiling she pulled him along.

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"Oooh, the elves! I've been wanting to see them." He hurried along after Kei and pretty soon they were entering the circle of patrons that was surrounding the group of novas.

They arrived just in time to hear Karrie's explanation about how showing up as what you are is lame. He laughed and said, "Well, I guess that makes me lame too, but then you've pointed that out to me once or twice."

It was said in good humor, and it was also quite true, there wasn't a week that went by at the DSA that Karrie didn't comment about how lame it was that he wore his jedi clothes all the time. He knew she was right, but that didn't matter. Locust Arts had threatened him with a lawsuit and he wasn't about to back down first, besides, it was what people expected of him and it was who he was. He had spent five years meditating and working on coming to grips with his eruption and what had happened and the truth was he was happy being the "jedi".

"How about introducing us to your friends?"

The crowd had parted and made an opening for Nate and Kei as they moved into the circle of conversation surprisingly still keeping a respectful distance from the celebrities.

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Connor had of course been to GenCon, and had six different outfits prepared. He would be judging the costume contest this year. His big focus in years past were the Battletech Firestorm Pods on exhibit there, a relic from bygone days of gaming, something he was almost too young to remember well. Still he supported them across the States, and he would do so again here. Still this was also a date for him and Karrie, a real chance to get to know each other. He couldn't coordinate his costume with hers, as she'd not told him, and they weren't sharing a room.

He went with something simple today, honoring an old favorite of his, Conan the Barbarian. His entire costume was leather, what their was of it, and ripped straight from the description of classic Conan. He was actually a little taller, his skin bronzed as though he spent decades under the harsh sun, with long squarecut black hair. Smoldering Blue Grey eyes beheld the world as opposed to his natural yellow. He wore no shirt, though he wore what looked like a leather kilt with silver worked into it for modesty. Thick leather boots garbed his feet,not looking anything like modern boots, with large bronze shin guards protecting his lower legs and a large sword sheathed through his belt at his hip. Alot of work had gone into forging the blade, and he wore it peacebound, as his other weapons were similarly covered. Only for the official photo shoot would he draw them, having agreed to those terms beforehand.

An old hand at conventions, This was the first time he'd worn this outfit, and it had some impressive reactions. What was best for him was that no one knew who he was, and he simply allowed it to build. He played the gruff attitude to a hilt, pausing for pictures but maintaining the role perfectly.

He stalked through the convention as a leopard through his native jungle, searching out Karrie, wondering exactly what he would find, yet following the steady ping of other quantum users present.

It didn't take him all that long to find some others he recognized from their files. The two Gendershifted Elves, Vyserian and Taeli were talking with a knot of other people. Nearby he felt three other distinct nodes, all of which familiar. It seemed all the novas instinctively gathered together, something he'd discuss with Karrie later. That was when he noticed her, dressed as Wasshu, one his favorites, and EXTREMELY fitting for Karrie. He looked as though he would pass behind them by only a couple meters when he called out in his normal voice and volume "You know Karrie, if you would have told me ahead of time, I would have brought a Tenchi cosplay."

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There was a faint vibration in the air, best characterised as a metallic hum, the molecules of every metallic object in their vicinity singing as a voice boomed out from above them, resonating from every speaker in the vicinity.

"Attention, homo sapiens. Pray do not panic, do not scream and run, and above all do not attempt to resist the awesome power of the Master of Magnetism himself!"

Fingers pointed from the crowd, people gasped and oohed and ahhed and cheered and called out as they beheld the floating, scarlet-cloaked figure straight from the pages of the X-Men. Rob was quite proud of his costume (it had certainly taken him some time to whip up), and was gratified at the reception. Of course, it didn't hurt to have a bunch of cold soda cans orbiting him as he slowly descended, a fold of the cape held loosely in one hand as he adopted an attitude of lordly menace.

422314-415875-Magneto_Ultimate_03_superpng_super.jpg

"I say unto you, my brother mutants... and elves... and hobbits... that now is the time!"

"The time for what?" Karrie grinned up at him as he hovered over their heads.

"Damned if I know." Rob's brown eyes crinkled behind the ominous helmet's cheekguards. "Anyone know where the nearest nukes are? Here, sodas all round." Ice-cold cans drifted to each hand in the medium-sized gathering, and the spares drifted to nearby gawkers. Rob grinned as he looked down at them. "Taeli, nice to see the three of you again. And Vyserian too. These must be the rest of the gang I've read about."

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Kei saw the arrivals of her other colleagues in the DSA and grinned, but seeing Telluris playing to his moniker was... a bit chilling. She kept her cloak over her shoulders as she looked up. "Such a drama queen."

"Well you are familiar with Connor, Karrie, and Rob. Not sure I can say the names right of the two Elves... I tried, I really tried to memorize them, I got them in my head but I still trip on the pronounciation." She says with a blush.

Seeing Karrie she gasps. "Now that costume is soooo cool! I do have a spare costume but I'm saving it for Saturday night. Bit of a tradition for me from my Convergence days."

"By the way... spoilers... you'll have to wait, everyone!" She says with a grin.

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“Hey, Kei, Jedi!” Karrie grinned and waved at them. Since stupid Horst still wouldn’t let her do field work with Rob, she’d been mostly teamed with Kei and was quite fond of the sometimes-strange woman. Of course, Karrie couldn’t throw stones when it came to “sometimes strange”. She was the poster child for “often-strange”.

Then she saw Connor and nearly swallowed her tongue. He looked… “Delicious.” Karrie realized that was her first word to her date and blushed. “I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. I worked really hard on this costume. I guess I need to coordinate with you in the future. You look… incredible, Connor.”

“Thank you.” His voice warmed her down to her toes. I’m going to have his barbarian, half-breed baby.

Rob’s entrance caught her attention and Karrie turned to see her best friend arrive. Laughing, she accepted the soda he’d brought for her, noting that her drink was a glass bottle of birch beer, unlike everyone else’s. It was her favorite convention drink – Karrie had a long list of preferred drinks for each kind of encounter in her life. It had taken Rob a bit, but she’d trained him for each one of those. Now it was paying off.

Then Kei made her remark and Karrie’s protective instincts were aroused. There weren’t many cases where Karrie went “momma bear” but most things involving Rob were sure to invoke that status in her. As Kei finished promising them a hell of a show Saturday night, Karrie sidled up to her and said, “I can’t wait to see what you have for us! And thanks, I work hard on my Washu.” Leaning in, Karrie murmured in a soft but hard voice, “Kei, I like you, but you don’t get to insult Rob. I’m the only one who gets that honor. Rob’s having fun, not being a drama queen. So lay off or I’ll build a machine to delicately and painfully remove your face and feed it to him. Not that I expect he’ll actually eat it, which is worse, because then it just rots and goes to waste. And I know that it’s standard to force-feed it to you, but like I said, worse if it gets wasted. I mean, if someone removed your face, you’d want them to get some use out of it, right? You wouldn’t want it to just be rotting on a plate somewhere. I mean, I understand why Rob wouldn’t want to eat it, faces are so fatty. I’ve heard.” The last was added with just a bit of a pause and a shade too quickly for comfort. “So, lay off my Rob and enjoy the convention. We’ll have to compare costuming stuff later, all right?”

It was amazing; Karrie had somehow dressed down Kei yet left it clear that Karrie still considered her a friend. “So,” she said in a more normal voice, “who’s up exploring the vendor’s room?”

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Nate ignored the interplay between Kei and Karrie, he worked with the two at the DSA and knew that they were friends. Instead he opened the soda and took a drink tasting before swallowing just to make sure there was no practical joke invovled. Rob was nothing if not a joker. When he was reasonably sure he didn't taste anything unusual he swallowed. Of course, being Rob, if he did spike the drink it would probably be undetectable anyway... oh well.

He was impressed with the Magneto costume, Rob was such a scientist and uber-geek at work that he tended to forget that he was as buff of a nova as any other. He was a little jealous, truth be told. Nate's own physique was plenty buff, but he tended toward a lean muscle mass rather than big obvious muscles. It was ironic he thought, he topped out the scale on physical strength, but he didn't look like he packed that kind of power. He knew it was his subconscious trying to emulate the Luke Skywalker thing, but he still had to sigh when seeing how girls reacted to guys like Connor and Rob.

"Thanks for the drink Rob."

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Connor's eyes narrowed at Karrie's words, even as he moved beside her and nodded. "Of course. What would a convention be if I didn't spend money in a dealer's room?" he heard someone in the crowd answer "Cheap!" and chuckled. "Amen to that. I always end up buying stuff I don't really need here, even before I was a voice Actor." He took Karrie's arm in his and smiled. "Come on, I'm sure we can find something there we cannot live without."

He looked to the others, waiting a moment to see if any would join them.

Karrie's words gave him pause. He'd heard the stories before, and dismissed them mostly. It seemed though that there was more than a kernel of truth to them though.

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Kei's eyes glowed. Something in Karrie's response disturbed her... behavior such as what Karrie produced when Kei was at least in her POV somewhat joking around was almost... sociopathic. Kei honestly thought Telluris... Rob... was trying to live down his rep, then he pulls this and Karrie is enabling this behavior? But then she rubbed her forehead. She wasn't exactly a angel herself. She believed in the image she wanted to protray as the heroine of the DSA, the one who could be depended upon when the chips were down and America needed her. She chose her persona, her methods, even her appearance. Probably we all make our own beds.

She mumbled in a very low whisper "Awkward turtle is awkward..." before speaking up. A blush redder than even Karrie has seen with Kei around Nate. "Karrie... Sorry about that... and Yeah let's check out the Vendor area. I need a new d20... the one I've been using for 10 years has worn down enough where I put any character I play in danger of lowballing." She says, scratching her head and trying to defuse the situation. She did care for everyone in her group but... juggling personalities is... sometimes a risky play.

Remembering she was still a few months from being of age she sighed. "I'll have to rain-check on the drinks until after January 8th though." Her 18+ but not 21+ badge was a glaring scarlet letter of her still not legal to drink status. She's fought pirates and dealt with terrorists... this... was all the reason she felt she deserved a drink or two... thousand... but nope... gotta play by the rules.

Looking over to Connor she smiled. "Hey... What's buggin' ya? We're at a con!" Kei said, once again grinning.

Looking over everyone she was still happy to be there. Particularly to see the Elves first hand. She nods respectfully to them both. "I'm Kei, Kei Nakano, by the way. I still have a hard time pronouncing your names, so... could you suffer me hearing them? I'm... sorry that I sound ignorant." She says to the two Elves, honestly wanting to make a good impression for once today.

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Vysarian had taken the proffered drink from Rob when it had floated down to him, tucking in away in some mysterious pocket of his robes for later. The interplay between Kei and Karrie had been interesting, especially the possessive statement by Karrie. Her desire for the barbarian-dressed face of the DSA was as equally transparent and nearly drew a chuckle from the usually reserved elf. The mention of alcohol had left him shaking his head as Amaranth and he commiserated over the strange American obsession with making a simple drink something so taboo. His own badge lacked a colored stripe despite Amaranth's under-age status; instead there was a small logo of the Swedish flag and next it the symbol of the EuroNet, marking him - and Taeli - as novas and as under the diplomatic protections of Sweden. They could drink - if they wanted to deal with the possibility of tabloid pictures the next day and if their EuroNet babysitters didn't step in to avoid a possible scandal.

He bowed to Kei after she introduced herself, a move of elegance and practice that both occupant of the body had been trained for. "I am Vysarian of House Arasael," he said smoothly, careful to enunciate the names for Kei. "I share this body with Amaranth Helena Silvia Marie, Royal Duchess of Uppland and Princess of Sweden." He smiled, relenting at her blank look as she tried to take all that in. "You may call me simply Vy, if that is easier, and the princess often goes by Amy when not acting in an official capacity." His eyes flicked past her and into the dealer room. "I admit, I have never been to such an event, nor has Amaranth. A guide by the more experienced would be quite welcome."

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Kei does a slow, western-type courtsey. "I am honored, Vy. Pleased to have made your acquaintance. How are you handling life here so far?"

Kei and her training at the DSA made careful arrangements in their "Metahuman Sensitivity Courses" to note that due to some paradigm changes in some people that they may believe... and perhaps... perhaps they are... different than they were. Kei was aware of the Naomi Minami/Dai Neko Keji case, and this Kei handled no differently. Vy and her friend weren't crazy... they have been transformed. It was better to adapt than to force them to adhere to old ways that were long gone by now, probably.

"I am known as Sea Eagle on DSA missions... but I guess that's more of a call-sign thing."

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Nate bowed gracefully, "I'm Nathaniel Chatham, Nate to my friends, although the press and most people usually call me Jedi." He wasn't sure what else to say. On one level they had something in common, being transformed into having the abilities they admired from a story or game, but that was where it ended. While Nate's family had been pretty wealthy and occasionally had dealings with royalty, actually meeting a real life princess was something new for him, especially considering she was in the body of a male elf. That had to be awkward. At least in his own case all he had done was develop a jedi's powers and not turned into a real live Jedi.

"Pleasure to meet you all."

Looking to Karrie, "I'm ready for the vendor's room any time, I've got five years of comics and collectibles to catch up on!"

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Kei checks her wallet... She knew one of the vendors here had fully live steel broadswords, finely forged Damascus steel. Also... it was 5000 dollars... for the training blades. She saw in the company's web page that they had a broad-sword with a re-enforced sheath made out of carbon fibre, trimmed with titanium re-enforcement. The carbon fibre hat the proper grey to it to match her usual armor color. It would be the perfect ceremonial sword to wear with what she was starting to whip up for herself... There were better techniques, but the weight of the reputation of the steel spoke for itself.

"Agreed, Nate... Sooo agreed."

Turning to Vy's companion she smiled. "How about you... didn't get a name just yet..."

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"Oh, terribly sorry," Taeli apologized with a soft smile as she stretched out an arm to shake hands with Kei, Nate, and Connor. Her hand was slim and delicate, but her grip and shake was firm, more like a man's... though with heels on and the way she was leaning forward slightly to shake hands, Taeli was probably unaware that she looked in real danger of having her full breasts pop right out of the top of her bustier.

"I'm Taeli Cooper, formerly Kevin," she said with a wry scowl at friends. Being called by her old name was still a bit of an annoyance, but she'd known Connor and Alan for ten years or more - allowances could be made for them. Her grinning friends made Taeli roll her eyes and while nothing changed in Vyserian's expression,something in his/her posture made her add in mellifluous tones like pure music, "I'm some... circles, you could say I'm known as Princess Taehlyri'salatria Duirsar of Evereska. Nice to meet you."

She open the can of Pepsi and took a big sip - the fizzy drink tickling the roof of her mouth - before nodding at Rob and gesturing at the stocky Link, towering barbarian, and guy dressed in white standing around her. "Thanks Rob. Nice costume, but as Karrie revealed coming as yourself may or may not be lame, doesn't it hit too close to mark?" She laughed melodiously. "These louts are Connor Donovan, Alan McAvoy, and Liam Meath."

"You know Telluris too?" Connor exclaimed, for once passing up the sight of Taeli's cleavage in his disappointment with her keeping this to herself. Besides, he'd seen more of her than nearly anyone else, though Taeli would kill him if she knew.

Taeli sighed, glancing heavenward for a moment, and crossed her arms under her breasts. "Link, I spoke with them for all of thirty minutes maybe before Karrie got arrested for not getting the proper clearances-"

"She was arrested?!" Connor turned back to Karrie, the brightness in his eyes clearly stating his estimation of her was just rising. "You were arrested?" He essayed a roguish grin. "With cuffs and everything? I've been arrested once too, you know?"

The stunning elf woman snorted, lacing her fingers once more with Vyserian's. "Now, think a moment Connor, before tell a woman why you were arrested, hmm?" she murmured with a smirk - it had been funny at the time, but being female now, she wasn't as impressed. She shook her head and agreed with the others, even if she didn't have much money - just the leftover of what she had managed to save from her allowance before erupting. "Yes, let's go browse the vendor tables. We should be probably heading towards the Wizards booth soon anyway."

The group headed into the Vendors Hall, many of the people manning the tables vying for the attention of novas. Though she kept her face composed with mild bemusement, inside, Taeli was bewildered. She had been surprised to find Karrie at GenCon - though on reflection, shouldn't have been - and then the next thing she knew, she was at the center of an entire flock of Novas.

There was the tiny, excitable woman Taeli could hardly believe was supposed to be a hardcore DSA agent - even without her heels, she'd had half a foot on Kei. She was a bit wary meeting Nate; they had heard of the killer Jedi across the Pond too. He was pleasant and by all accounts had paid his debt to society, but it was hard to forget he'd killed someone just because he'd been mocked. She wasn't a big Star Wars fan, but it seemed like there were too many whiny bitches in it to her and when Jedis turned whiny, they apparently turned Dark Side too. Her own eruption had led to all sorts of mockery and teasing - she had felt the urge to slash some people, but had never acted upon it.

It was nice finding Karrie and Rob here, people she knew, however briefly. And with them and the others, it helped relieve having all the attention focused on the three of her, as Rob would say. She might have been the most attractive girl at the Con by far, but the others were famous, and that held an attraction all of its own.

Thinking of attraction, she might have the most attractive girl in attendance, but she wasn't the most attractive person. That honour went to Mech and it was very disconcerting. Her head said she was still firmly and only attracted to girls, but her body was trying to claim otherwise. She had felt the same to a limited degree sometimes when looking at Vyserian and her thoughts were wondering, but she had brushed it aside - he was pretty as a girl and her girlfriend lived inside.

She couldn't make the same claim when covertly glancing at Connor Fortenot. He was so ridiculously handsome and overwhelmingly masculine in his savage Conan garb it was easy to forget Alan was there too as a seven-foot barbarian, and he seemed downright blah in comparison, and her body was letting her know in no uncertain terms that is found Connor hot, even if he was human - the tips of her ears were even tingling.

Taeli sighed regretfully, staying close to Amy's side and tried avoiding looking at Connor as much as possible without being rude. When she had first made Taeli, the character had been bisexual... because he had been an immature fifteen year old boy and thought of a hot elf babe making out with other hot babes had been awesome. When Amy had joined the group, and the character of Taeli grew more in-depth, she had stayed bisexual, but had a much stronger preference for men. It seemed a tiny bit of that preference had carried over with her eruption.

Just another of the oh so fun surprises and regrets that come with being a busty elf babe. I must say, if guys feel like this when they look at me, even when they don't want to, I'm grateful nobody has tried to rape me yet. God, if anyone finds out just how many pairs of high-heeled boots, shoes, and sandals I have in my Bag of Holding, I'd never live it down. I knew I shouldn't have kept that joke about women and their shoes running.. at least I don't have the urge to by more...well, other than modern shoes that'll fit me to replace my old ones....

"Miss Cooper, have you ever considered a hat to finish your very fetching ensemble? I love your boots, by the way," the woman at the Blonde Swan Fine Hand Made Hats table asked, waving at her display. "We have all sorts, I'm sure we can find..."

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Kei smiled. Before she could return the introduction, Taeli had already moved foreward the group into the Dealer's hall.

She decides that it would be best to keep up with Nate for the time being. Not knowing what would happen with thsoe around the two Europeans was worrying. She decides to look about the different stalls as the group moved foreward. She had her ideas as to what she would go after after getting to that sword dealer, then she would start going crazy afterward.

"So, Nate... what's on your agenda on this shopping spree?" She says, smiling. "The first thing I'm looking into is a sword... a proper fencing blade."

She sighed. "Actually, what sort of sword technique comes close to what your light sabers in combat style?" She said in curiosity. "I am trying to expand my combat capability."

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Connor was angling her away from the others and Karrie let him. This was the point of this weekend, after all. The other Connor was hanging back, chatting with her. Karrie could tell he was trying to impress her and get with her. He finally realized that Connor wasn’t offering her his arm to be polite, the impossibly beautiful man was trying to sequester Karrie from the group. Finally, as the others moved on to weapons, she and Connor were alone, or as alone as you could get in a massive room in the middle of the biggest gaming convention in the world.

“Hi,” she murmured, gazing up at him like he was the totality of her universe. Which… he was. “How have you been? It’s been too long since we talked.”

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He smiled at her and nodded. "Far too long, I agree." He leaned down and kissed her lightly, and withdrew to his full height. "You've been extremely busy, as I have been."

"You about gave Horst a total of three coronaries, and I was there for the phonecall on one of them. His face was priceless." He chuckled. "So aside from that, how have things been with you Karrie? How was your trip to See our visiting European counterparts?"

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Vysarian found himself falling back on familiar patterns in the bustling marketplace, letting Taeli lead the way and keeping close enough to her ward off the more predatory-looking admirers that she attracted. Several times he was caught completely by surprise when he found himself the focus of the same such attention, with both women and men (several quickly mortified when he firmly pointed out that he was male) vying for his attention. Some merely wanted an autograph or picture, situations that Amy was easily able to navigate, much to Vysarian's gratitude. Others wanted a more "personal" contact with him or Taeli and he nearly drew steel twice to convince the lustful lechers to place their attentions elsewhere. Amaranth murmured quietly the second time that perhaps knowing how to use a sword was more useful than she'd thought.

It was an odd time for them, less awkward than it had been at the Facility, but more awkward because of that. They both tried to set the paradox aside, Vysarian to devote his attention to Taeli's safety and Amy to try to enjoy her first visit to the United States and to a gaming convention, elf-status notwithstanding. Connor, Liam, and Alan were obviously in their element, tugging them along from booth to booth, teasing Taeli with bikini chainmail and explaining what half the merchandise of display was to the mystified Vys and Amy.

Tucked away in a corner far from the common footpaths was a curious table filled with glass and wooden rods, stones of various colors and sizes, an assortment of knives and chalices, blank books, empty pouches, and a dozen other knicknacks that left Vysarian's heart in his throat as he approached. The woman sitting behind the table, dressed in a crushed velvet corseted dress and oddly wearing a light cloak while inside, came to her feet with wide eyes as she realized that one of the elves was making her-his? way to her booth.

Vysarian bowed politely, "Goodwoman."

She almost hopped, caught between a curtsy, a bow, and far too many nerves. "M'la-lord?" she swallowed and hope she hadn't run the elf off with such a silly gaffe.

"Lord Asareal, if being formal," he offered with a smile, then blinked at a mental jab. "Or your Highness, as I am of two persons in one body," he amended, "but this does not seem to be a world of formality. Please call me Vysarian and my other self is Amaranth."

She blinked, trying to take that in, then just chucked it up to not mattering so long as he bought something or even was just seen holding something of hers. She could clear out her entire inventory if word go out!

"Vysarian, then, and thank you. I am Athena." She smiled and motioned to the table. "Is there something that caught your eye?"

He waved at the entirety of the table. "All of it. These seem to be the tools of a profession not practiced in this world. I am curious." That's because magic isn't real, Amy groused silently. They're just props. "Are they merely props for games?" Vysarian conceded the possibility.

"Some...use them as such," Athena answered carefully, gauging his reaction. "I make them for use in the Craft, though, and everything is purified each night just before a convention and every night of a convention to keep it free of unwanted energies."

The elf nodded thoughtfully and clasped his hands behind his back, having learned long ago that idly handling magical items could have uncomfortable side effects. The woman waited tensely while he looked, not sure if she should jump in with more information when his eyes lingered on an amethyst cluster or the obsidian mirror or one of the collection of Futhark pendants hanging from a velvet hand-stand like a miniature Yggdrasil. Finally she ventured a, "You practice the Craft, then?"

"I am a wizard, not a craftsman," he replied, shaking his head and making his earrings chime.

Athena smiled indulgently, "Magick is the Craft, Vysarian."

He blinked, but got nothing more than an annoyed huff from Amaranth, so he ventured into the conversation alone. "You are wizard then, Athena? I was led to believe that magic did not function in world, without a Goddess or Weave to bring it forth."

It was Athena's turn to blink, but she sallied gamely. "Well, the Goddess is everywhere, and everywhere she is, so it magick."

"Which Goddess is this? Amaranth knows only of the Christian god and what she has learned from me of the gods of Faerûn."

Her eyes narrowed a little and she crossed her arms. "Faerûn?" her voice had dropped the flirtatious tone and now laced with equal parts derision and anger. "Seriously? Look, I don't begrudge anyone their games or their fantasies, but my Goddess isn't some D&D fictional character-"

Vysarian held up a hand, keeping his own irritation - both at Athena and at the quietly smug princess in his head - as close to a simmer as possible. "My apologies for your offense, Athena. I am aware of how my origins are perceived in this world and I was....careless." He bowed again, his motions swift and sharp. "I think I shall rejoin my companions. May you always walk in the sight and grace of your goddess."

She watched him go, mouth agape and certain she's missed something important. After a moment, she kicked herself for running him off, but only a moment. Curious con-goers were already beginning to drift over, wondering what was so interesting that a nova had lingered in the 'too poor for a good booth' section so long. Vysarian, on the other hand, made his way back to the group, waving off Liam's curiosity about where he'd disappeared to.

Wyst gave a snort at the question and muttered, "Chasing witches." His accent was smooth but still held the rough edges of his native Dutch. That earned a glare from the already aggravated elf and a return to the EuroNet agent's patented blank stare.

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Kei looked about for Nate, but he was distracted from noticing some Star Wars related merchandise. Kei nodded. "That's what we're all here for I wager..."

She smiled and started to walk down one of the isles when a familiar... and not wanting to hear voice seemed to boom from the area set up for casual play.

"Kei... Ratshit... Nakano... Too good to play with us human scrubs?"

Kei shook a little as she turned around, forgetting she was fully capable of brinigng the building down around them... this man... this mountain of digested cheetos and a neckbeard to match stared her down.

"Ralph? Wa... What are you doing..."

"Don't act like you've forgot getting me banned from Cosmos Games a few years back."

Kei smirked, her swagger starting to be recaptured. "Oh yeah... you stole my Eight and a Half Tails and got caught. Not my problem Ralph."

The mountain of blubber moved... more like shifted over to her. He was suprisingly clean, but not pleasant to be around with his sheer ego and attitude. "So, Ralph..."

"You never took me up on the match, Kei..."

Kei brought her cloak over her shoulders and over her body, as if to provide osme semblance of where her personal space was in a defensive gesture. "I've been busy."

"Bull... there's online."

"Man... online just doesn't cut it for me."

"Then shut up and put a deck down!"

"Around you? Psh..."

Kei rolled her eyes in disgust. "Not worth my time." She says starting to walk away.

"I still got that card I won."

Kei hissed a bit of displeasure... "That black lotus..."

The man-bear-pig pulls out a practically hermetically sealed alpha black lotus in a plexiglass case. "How about you put up something... and we'll have one more go, sailor girl."

Kei twitched a little. That little fat windbag scammed her in a match, did everything in the book to get her disqualified. Even though she was playing legit. In the process she ended up getting DQ'd and not getting anything, and he got first place, the lotus, and her prize.

"Sailor girl?" She walks back, facing him down. "Standard rounds, Standard, No proxies excapt for that card right there." She says, pointing to the lotus. "Be prepared to pony up."

She opens a larger pocket on her belt strap, pulling out a mint Mox Pearl in a similar case. "Ready to sing, fat boy?"

Ralph sneered. Although he had broke the insult barrier to Kei. "Okay... let's do this."

"One sec, Ralph... See that guy over there?"

She points to Nate. "That's my boyfriend over there and if he even so much as hears that you're cheating me..."

Ralph's eyes widen as he sits down. He waves off his friends. "Alright... you and me... like it's supposed to be."

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Nate had been distracted by some Star Wars memorabilia that he hadn't seen before, until he noticed that Kei was gone. He looked around in time to see and hear the final bit of the confrontation and challenge.

When the fat man looked at him he just smiled menacingly until the other man looked away and back at Kei. Then he moved to take up position near the table so that he could see clearly that Ralph couldn't sneak any cards into his deck or cheat in any other way.

Conversationally he said to Kei, "You know I used to have a collection... I even had a black lotus and a mox pearl, I started collecting right after the second set came out and had quite a few rare cards. Sadly, I had to sell my collection when went I to prison, I sent the money to the family of the victim to help cover their expenses. I figured it was the least I could do."

Let Ralph mull that over as he challenged Kei and tried to take her hard earned card away.

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"Need someone watching?" Ralph said, leaning back in his chair as he shuffled.

Kei read his every shuffle. "Hey... let me cut that after you're done."

"As long as I can cut yours, sailor girl."

Kei grinned. That's fine. Nate just provides a different angle. I already caught you stacking your deck.

"What?" He said after setting his deck down in front of her. She immediately used her speed to completely randomize his deck blindly.

"Son of a..." He took her deck and did a blocky cut, hoping he would send her lands to the bottom.

"Alright, game on."

"I'll let you go first."

The first match was even. Kei had no real draw advantage she could set up with Ralph's control. Kei was a hybrid mill that lived and died off of it's enchantments and creatures.

Kei looked over to Nate. "Any shenanigans?"

Nate shook his head to the negative. "Nope."

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Watching the game made Nate a little sad. His own collection had been built up lovingly over several years, as each new series came out he would rush to the comic store and buy up two or three boxes of cards and then spend an afternoon or evening going through, opening pack after pack and figuring out which cards he had gotten. Whatever he didn't get out of the packs he would play for and win the hard way and he had eventually collected every card they had made and had multiples of many rare and uncommon cards. And then he had had to sell the collection to pay legal fees from his trial, and now he had none.

He had money starting to roll in from the patents he had been working on so he could buy up the cards he had lost, but it just wouldn't be the same, they wouldn't be 'his' cards.

He gave a sigh and looked around seeing the others still mingling and shopping and hoped that Kei buried this chump.

As he stood there he felt a tug on his sleeve and looked to see a wide eyed kid who was probably around 10 or 11. "Hey, those are really cool lightsabers! Where did you get them? Do they come with light tubes to glow and look real? Do they have sound effects?"

Activating his ability to see in every direction in order to keep an eye on Kei's opponent he turned his head to face the boy. "Hello, I'm Nate."

The boy blushed then answered, "I'm Jason."

Nate smiled and unclipped one of the lightsabers from his belt and let the boy hold it. "I made these, and no they don't have light tubes, they are what I use to create my lightsaber effect, and yes they do make a sound just like a real lightsaber would, if lightsabers were real."

Jason frowned as he looked over the lightsaber, "It doesn't have a button, how do you turn it on?"

"It doesn't turn on, I just activate it when I want the lightsaber to be on. It's one of my abilities." Nate answered.

The boy's eyes got very wide, "You're that nova, the Jedi! Can I see the lightsaber... I mean, can you make it work and show me?"

Nate smiled, but shook his head, "No, sorry, there are too many people in here and it works just like a real lightsaber, so if someone accidentally touched it they would lose a hand, or worse."

"Oh!" He looked sad for a second then said, "Can I get your autograph?" He fumbled in his pockets for something to write on and a pen.

Just then Nate saw Ralph sneak a glance at him and then dip his hand below the table's surface casually. Nate pinned it in place with telekinesis. Turning back to face the game he said in a friendly, but serious voice. "Hands above the table Ralph. I wouldn't want Kei to think you might be reaching for a hidden card to cheat. She might get upset and that could be unfortunate." He released the man's hand which was slowly raised back above the table empty of cards, but he was blushing so furiously that Nate was sure he had been reaching for a card.

Ralph just 'hrumphed' loudly and continued with the game.

Turning back to the kid Nate pulled out a pen and a business card from inside his pouch and signed it "To Jason, May the Force be with you! -Nate".

Jason took the card with a big grin on his face and said "Thanks", then ran off through the crowd to find his friends and display his trophy.

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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.

For Nate
When Ralph collected his cards, you noticed he had what looked like an odd watch strapped to his wrist under his long-sleeved shirt.

"Ready for round three, Ralph?"

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

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Taeli riveted cool, cyan eyes on her opponent, appraising his intentions; he in turn riveted brown eyes on the pale, full curves of her breasts, displayed prominently by her corset. She sighed - it had been a somewhat perversely exhilarating thrill to dress up as her character in public, but it was quickly growing old and wearying.

"I declare my attack. Doing anything in response?" Taeli asked with narrowed eyes and pursed lips. Her opponent, Andrew - a man just a bit older than her - managed to shake his head negatively without taking his eyes of her bosoms.

"Very well," she said melodically with a tight smile, graceful hands flowing across the array of cards before her as she tapped the majority of her White-Green elven army, including the token creatures. "I attack. Stop that, my friend."

Andrew's Blue-Red Magic deck just didn't have enough to forestall this latest attack. Two creatures were forced not to attack, several others got pinged to death, more broke against his defenders, but the rest swept over him in a tide of White and Green elves. Taeli smiled in satisfaction as she reduced Andrew to -131 Life. Andrew didn't seem to mind.

Luck hand been with Taeli today, the cards coming up her way in the friendly Magic games she had played as part of their agreement with WotC. She had mostly been using her Elf Deck - a quick deck that overwhelmed swiftly if not contained - but she had used her Boros Deck and Angel Deck also. She had a fondness for creature decks, since they tended to have better art.

With luck on her side and the distraction of her mainly male opponents, she had won every match. But instead of playing to win, Andrew had played to stall - which Taeli had only realized after a while - to lengthen the time he spent facing her (or rather, facing her boobs). She tried not to blame him.

Liam was the only other in the group to have a winning record, using a Blue-Black cycling deck. Alan had broken even with his Red Barbarian deck and poor Connor had had no luck at all with his pure Green deck.

Taeli stood up and gave Andrew's hand a shake. "Good match, Andrew."

"Tha-thank-you for this honour, Ms. Cooper," he stammered, straining for a weakly flirtatious grin. "I've never played a game of Magic versus a woman so beautiful before, especially one with such leet skills."

"Yes, well..." Taeli ducked her head, accepting the compliment while trying to avoid anything that might encourage his attentions.

Taeli was gathering up her cards and token markers when she glanced over her shoulder with a long-suffering look in her eyes and gave Vyserian a soft grin. Elves in Faerun could sense the presence of other elves to a degree through an innate sense of communion and community. Funny enough, Novas could do something similar, detecting the quantum energy emitted from their nodes, from what she understood.

"Hey, Ames," Taeli greeted her girlfriend/boyfriend (if she could really call the Elf man such still). She rolled her shoulders as she stretched, slipping her Magic decks into her invisible purse satchel, and picked the up rakish, tricorn hat that had been pressed upon her and straightened her sword belt hanging off her round hips.

"You're fortunate you don't play Magic. Don't get me wrong - It's fun and all, but..." Her lips twisted wryly as she shrugged self-deprecatingly. "Anyway, I guess it's time we head over to the Wizards booth for our panel. Come on guys, finish up your games, we got to go."

Taeli stood next to Vyserian, still shorter than him despite her elevated heels, trying not to make a production of it, but surreptitiously slipped her hand in his. It curtailed some of the more blatant propositions and come-ons and felt... reassuring. She ignored Wyst's muted snort.

In short order, the group of gamers-turned-fantasy-characters, their minders at their backs, met up with the Rep from WotC, William 'Call me Bill' Tipton. Bill was an enthusiastic man in his thirties, stocky but friendly, with twinkling grey eyes.

After the Introductions were made, they sat down for a panel, discussing their influences, how their lives had changed with their respective eruptions and awakenings, and what they hoped to accomplish in the future on their own and with WotC. Bill made no secret of hoping to grow the popularity of D&D with their aid and gain new players, from both the ramifications of what they were, and for the infusion of new ideas.

Some things they couldn't get into specifics with, mostly concerning EuroNet. But Liam had some very cogent thoughts on the gaming industry and the direction D&D was heading, and surprisingly Connor had some good insights too, though flavoured with his Anime interests.

Taeli had to deal with being obvious fanservice, and some intrusive questions concerning her eruption, but though inside she was embarrassed, on the outside, she chuckled at her circumstances and answered as truthfully as she could. Her comments on artwork and how it enhanced the feel and interest of RPGs started some people seeing her as something more than T&A.

Amarath/Vyserian had the most difficult time during the panel - not only did she have a gender and racial change like Taeli, it had deeper ramifications due to her being Swedish Royalty, which also seemed odd in gaming culture. Plus, there was effectively two of them answering.

Finally, the two-hour panel came to a close, after several more audience questions - Taeli shot Rob and Karen a scathing glare for their mockingly innocent questions - and a period of signing autographs and posing for pictures. This time, Liam, Alan, and Connor got a lot more attention, if still less than Taeli and Vyserian.

"That was fantastic!" Bill said brightly, shaking everyone's hand. "I hope y'all be joining me at Osteria Pronto at the JW Marriot for dinner, for casual conversation and perhaps some talk on this growing business relationship, hey?" He glanced over at the other Novas who were approaching from the crowd. "Of course, the rest of you Novas are more than welcome to join us. You seem to be fans of RPGs and gaming - perhaps you'd like take part in the industry too, hey? Reservations are at seven. See ya there."

As the group started heading away, Taeli released a long breath. "Thank God that's over," Hanali preserve me! Taeli plucked at one of the cups of her bustier. "It was... interesting strutting around in this, but I'm well and ready to take if off-"

"So are we!" Rob and Connor said at the same time, whistling crassly.

Taeli favoured them with a flat look. "- and put on something less... fantastical. Seriously, guys? Couldn't help yourselves?"

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He smiled at her and nodded. "Far too long, I agree." He leaned down and kissed her lightly, and withdrew to his full height. "You've been extremely busy, as I have been."

"You about gave Horst a total of three coronaries, and I was there for the phonecall on one of them. His face was priceless." He chuckled. "So aside from that, how have things been with you Karrie? How was your trip to see our visiting European counterparts?"

Karrie rolled her eyes. “They have no sense of humor. I used some of my best wit on them and they were completely unappreciative of it. Such a waste of my time and effort.” She grinned cutely at him, unaware of how much she looked like a tanned Washu. “But I got to talk to everyone’s favorite cross-gendered princess, so it’s all good.”

“Why’d you want to talk to him?” Connor didn’t even hesitate over the pronoun.

“I made up something so I could see how pretty his eyes really are.” Karrie grinned at Connor unrepentantly, “And in case you were wondering, the answer is: very pretty.”

“I don’t think I’d notice,” Connor chuckled

“Well, I notice eyes.” Karrie’s smile softened. “Like yours. You have beautiful eyes.”

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Connor gave her one of his heart-melting award winning smiles, one that was just for her, and he nodded. "Look who's talking. Yours are pretty too." The towering barbarian warrior at the moment looked like a perfect match for her, his topaz eyes enchanting, promising more than words, at least from her perspective.

"I notice alot more, too." He reached out to put an arm around her, to pull to her, or push away as she chose. "Why don't we get about seeing more of this convention, just the two of us?" Surrounded as they were by others, still the promise that she'd occupy centerstage in his eyes at this convention, it was an irresistible invitation for closeness, past his defenses, that few would and could resist.

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It took Karrie a moment to talk. “I’d be happy to see more of this place with you,” she all-but-purred. I’d be happy to see the world with you. Karrie took the offered arm, gazing up at Connor with adoration. “They’re showing some of your movies tomorrow evening. Are you supposed to go to that?”

“I’ve been invited.” Connor told her. Truth be told, he’d been invited to everything, and he couldn’t possible fit it all into his weekend.

“I’d like to see at least one of your movies… with you.” Karrie actually looked shy and vaguely demure. She was living her dream at the moment, and Connor was only getting tiny glimpses of who she really was. “But I’d like to spend some time alone with you, too.” In her mind, she was already planning the wedding. Everything was going perfectly.

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He nodded. "Okay, you pick the one you want to go to, and we'll go to it, together."

He led her through the convention, showing her around, posing for pictures, always of the two of them, and he made a game of taking different poses. When night came, he smiled. "Time for the first costume change." He smiled "You want to come up to the room, or wait here?"

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Everything was going well. People were having fun and his friends and workmates were getting along. The novas and psiads were the center of attention. Karrie was so happy she was practically glowing. Kei, Nate and Taeli were in nerd-vana and Vysarian was looking around with interest. Karrie was really happy, too, a fact that Rob would be really, really glad to be oblivious to as he caught another look at the blissful lovestruck expression on her face.

Well, shit. You best friend finally gets the man of her dreams and all you can do is bitch, Lehnsherr. Telluris scolded himself silently within the face-shrouding shadows of Magneto's helmet. At least I'm bitching quietly he told himself sourly, trying to outsnark the ache somewhere in the center-left of his chest as he turned away from the sight (and tried to ignore the sound, which is hard when you have hearing like his) of Karrie and Connor whispering sweet nothings to each other. It was somewhat fortunate that his helmet did mostly obscure Rob's face, because the expression in the normally-genial earthmover's eyes would have disturbed the others, being of a darker bent that his usual affable nature. He moved away from his friends, struggling for some equilibrium as he let his eyes roam unseeing over the various stalls.

I shouldn't have come.

"Hey, hero." A female voice, coy with a hint of giggle, and some other female giggles accompanying it made Rob realise that his unseeing eyes had been blindly staring at a bevy of booth-babes - or more correctly, at their babe-like attributes in teeny-weeny chain bikinis. As he blinked the blonde who'd spoken, who had the look of a co-ed being paid easy money to stand around and look hot in so-called armor, winked at him, her two friends torn between laughing and staring at the DSA agent.

"Oh wow... I mean, I'm sorry." Rob said smoothly, one corner of his mouth twitching in a self-deprecating smile. "I totally spaced."

"Thinking deep thoughts?" the blonde asked, taking a pronounced breath as she said 'deep', causing Rob's eyes to flicker downwards for a nanosecond, so fast that the human probably missed it, but it was definitely a downwards look. She grinned at him, part-flirt and part genuine interest.

"Not especially." Rob countered, his smile now less hesitant. "I was just wondering if they actually expect you ladies to fight in that 'armor'." He mock-leered, and the girls laughed. "If so, I wanna watch."

"We're not fighting." the Asian-looking member of the trio said with a blush, tugging the edges of her purple cloak a little around her mostly-revealed figure.

"Unless you want a private exhibition." the brunette followed-up quickly, her own eyes bold.

"Hmmm... Well, I'm definitely a private exhibitionist." Rob said, pretending to think about it. The girls laughed, and he flashed them a grin. "Rob Lehnsherr." he offered a hand to them.

"Oh, we know." the blonde said with a playful smile as she grabbed his hand first. "I'm Holly, this is Lucille and Jean." she motioned the Asian girl and the brunette, respectively.

"Nice to meet you." Rob said with a smile for each of them as he took their hands in turn. "You ladies go to Indiana U.?"

"How'd you guess?" Jean smiled.

"I don't guess, I deduct." Rob declared with a flourish of his red cape.

"Deduce." Lucille said with a laugh.

"That too." Rob shrugged, then grinned. "Okay, I guessed. I partied at I.U. couple years ago."

"They still tell stories about it." Holly said with a laugh. "And show the pictures."

"Before our time, sadly." Jean added with a cute pout.

"Well, maybe it's time to do a return tour." Rob grinned.

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“Done.” Karrie whipped out the program, her eyes scanning over the movies. There were so many of his that were her favorites—all of them really. Choosing one was nearly impossible. In truth, she mostly wanted to sit with him in the dark and so some first-class making out. Karrie had very carefully researched for this day; she’d looked up all kinds of information on the various bases, how to kiss properly and the things she had to do to herself to get ready. That last list had made her blush more than the descriptions of how to deliver a proper hand job.

He nodded. "Okay, you pick the one you want to go to, and we'll go to it, together."

He led her through the convention, showing her around, posing for pictures, always of the two of them, and he made a game of taking different poses. When night came, he smiled. "Time for the first costume change." He smiled "You want to come up to the room, or wait here?"

And with that little question, Karrie instantly forgot all of her preparation. Her brain emptied of all thoughts save one: his room. It was the shrine of all shrines, the chance to see things she’d only dreamed about before tonight. It was her chance to see Conner without his clothing.

Oh, god, she so wanted to go. Now if only she could say that. “Neh. Urh. Uh…..” Karrie closed her mouth and just nodded her head. Eagerly.

If only love didn’t turn her into a bumbling idiot around him.

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Connor smiled and led her to the private elevator used for the penthouse, producing a tiny card identifying him, and his room, and nodded. The trip up was a quick one, and he smiled. "Enjoying day one So far?"

She could only nod in response. A tip later they were at the door to the penthouse suite, and he smiled, and opened it, revealing a room the size of most houses. There was a jacuzzi, a number of rooms, and a huge television in the den. "A simple vice. I love having the best room available, lets me spread out abit, and I feel less constrained."

He smiled, shifting to his normal form freely, his skin lightening up and hair going brown, as his eyes returned to their brilliant yellow color. He nodded. "I can undo the harness myself, but it's easier if I have someone do it for me, do you mind?" He knelt down so she could reach them all easily, and hoped she'd agree to help him.

This of course was a precursor. "Make yourself at home it may be abit to get changed and all. I'm gonna shower before changing, there's drinks in the fridge and all." the way he spoke was totally innocent, yet it could have been something else.

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“Nergh.” God damn it! What the hell is wrong with me!? Karrie had to just nod again, reaching for the harness. Oh, god, I’m undressing him! Her fingers shook as she clasped the first buckle and unclasped it. Her face burned with a flush as she wrapped her fingers round the next. That one loosened as well and this time Karrie felt secure enough to rest her hand against his back. Her palm flattened against his tight muscles and she felt her body clench in interesting ways.

The next buckle was on his side and she undid that for him as well. The leather straps were hanging looser with each strap she opened. Now she was around the front facing him; even kneeling, he was still so tall. With that beautiful expression of besotted adoration on her face, she unhooked the last buckle, then leaned forward and kissed him.

It was by far their most involved kiss to date. The sensations that slammed into Karrie’s body were mindboggling. This was a toe-curling kiss; she could actually feel her toes curling! It was blissful, orgasmic—heaven on earth. And it was all right here, where their lips touched and their souls connected as one.

Karrie was flushed and breathless when she stopped; even with the contacts, her eyes were still glazed with desire. In the height of the most passionate moment she’d ever shared with anyone, Karrie blurted, “I love you, Connor!”

There was no other suitable response.

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