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Aberrant: 200X - Song is the best medicine


Mr Fox

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The last three weeks had been a blur for Daniel. The studying had been much more of a challenge than he'd expected. It wasn't that the concepts were hard to digest, not once had he run into anything that presented any real difficulty. No, it was the sheer volume of information that made the task hard. Added to that, the gunshot wound in his shoulder took a surprisingly long time to heal and was pretty uncomfortable and distracting.

He snapped back to the present and looked down at his test booklet. Calculating the volume of a sphere... he multiplied the radius by three then multiplied that by pi, and went through the rest of the steps until he had the answer. Luckily this was the last question of the last exam he'd ever take in high school. It had been nine straight hours of testing for the last three days in a row and his brain felt like mush. He had to read the questions and answers two or three times on the English exam to figure out what was being asked he was so tired. Genius or not this was grueling. But with the final answer written on the page there was a great sense of relief. Nothing he would do in college would touch what he'd been through these last three weeks of study; at least he certainly hoped not.

The bell rang and as one the class got up and turned in their tests and made their way from the class and out of the building. On the front steps a handful of students waited, Alice and Jimmy and Derrick, and his other actual friends. They all looked a little sad that Daniel was done and would not be coming back next year, and a little proud, and maybe even a little envious, but they all crowded around and shook his hand and hugged him. Alice kissed him in a way that was not even remotely appropriate for school and he could sense that she was doing it as much for his benefit as for her own. No doubt it wouldn't hurt her reputation and would make her all the more talked about now that Daniel would be gone. It would have been nice to walk across the stage with the other graduates, but the counselor had made it one of the conditions of graduating early that he wouldn't be allowed to walk the stage with the Seniors. Something about parent complaints... some cheerleaders parents had been worried that he would be too distracting and would 'make a mockery of a solemn ceremony'. Bullshit, their daughter wouldn't get enough of the spotlight and they just happened to be members of the Church of Michael or whatever those goons were called. I don't care anyway, I've got a concert to perform and barely enough time to get there.

Turning to Jimmy and Derrick, "I was serious about the offer. If I get that record contract, I will always keep a spot open in my band for you both for when you graduate. Just keep up those skills and you'll be touring with me soon enough." They both smiled and Daniel sensed that Jimmy would do it, but Derrick was feeling sad and nostalgic. He knew him well enough to know that Derrick was all talk about big dreams and grand plans, but even though he had talent, he wouldn't follow through. Some girl would capture his attention and he'd be married and settled before he ever had the chance to get out on the road. He smiled at them both again and there was time for one more round of hugs and then it was time to go. With a final wave he lifted off and flew home to pick up his gear and head to the airport. Carrying clothes and luggage and a guitar case was no way to fly to New York under his own power. First class was the way to go, he could use some sleep anyway.

The concert at the hospital would be tomorrow afternoon but Daniel wasn't too nervous about it. He'd spent almost as much time over the last three weeks on the music he would preform as he had studying for his exams, more if truth were to be told. He was still singing the Teddy Bear's Picnic in his head as he settled into his seat on the plane and fell asleep.

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Alexis rubbed her forehead, feeling like she should have a headache but suffering from no pain. Finishing her finals and preparing for this 'concert' had been draining, but incredibly satisfying. She liked bringing them all together and making all the pieces fit. This was why she enjoyed interior design, but this was far more enjoyable.

The largest room in the hospital had been converted to a large ward. Some of the children couldn't leave their beds, and they were wheeled in and being set by the wall. Other children were in wheelchairs, while more were being set up in chairs. But they were all sick, weak and frail; seeing them made Alexis' skin crawl. Sickness had always creeped her out; eruption had not changed that.

"It looks good," she said to Mona, whose sigh of relief Alexis could hear, even over the phone. Mona had been hired to work this job, and knew that it could make or break her. "I assume that the rooms have been readied for the artists?"

"Yes, they have," Mona said, and Alexis could hear her shuffling through papers. "I've gone through their requests, and we have everything covered, as far as I can see."

"The electronics?"

"There are two technicians here already," Mona said. "There shouldn't be any problems that can't be fixed."

"Good," Alexis said, shutting off the video feed, cutting off the images of those children. She settled back into the comfort of her dorm room chair. "Would you please give Daniel and Praxis my apologies? I'm afraid that I'm absolutely bogged down here."

"Of course, Ms. Layton," Mona said instantly. "I'll handle everything from here out."

"Thank you, Mona," Alexis said and hung up, letting her head fall back against the rest. She felt a twinge of guilt for not being there, but there was no way she could have handled that. Sighing, she stood up and continued packing her bags.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Daniel was impressed. He knew Alexis would do this thing right, but damn. The hospital's atrium was bigger than the auditorium at his high school and it was damn near full. Of course it wasn't nearly as packed with people as an auditorium would be given the space that beds and wheelchairs took up, but it was still a pretty big crowd. Biggest one he'd ever played to and it made Choir competition feel like minor butterflies. Still he was a nova now and had been working very hard on the music, at least as hard as for the time he made it to the Regionals, and that was more effort than he liked putting in.

He looked through the small window in the door to the room they'd set aside for he and Praxis to warm up in. Mostly kids. He sighed with relief. They will like the songs, he thought to himself. Most of the music he'd borrowed form Trout Fishing in America, they were a small time pair that his mother had taken him to see a few years before, but their music was a lot of fun and mostly original. He also had a few classics ready to go as well that everyone would know and be able to sing along with if they wanted. He glanced at the clock and then around the room. Praxis still hadn't arrived. He grumbled to himself, Note to self, don't be late to everything if you become a big star, it's annoying to the little guys that have to set everything up for you. Daniel shrugged, Praxis or no, he would perform and make these kid's day just a little brighter. He just hoped the bigshot would not turn around and dash their hopes by not showing up. He didn't have any illusions about who people really wanted to see, but with luck, maybe next time they'd be lining up for him instead.

The clock struck the hour and Daniel heard Alexis' assistant Mona address the crowd and announce him. Daniel grabbed his guitar and headed out onto the small platform that had been set up. There was just a stool, a mic and a cord to plug his guitar into, but he was confident that it was all good, he'd done the sound check an hour ago before the patients were wheeled in and it was decent acoustics even if there was a bit of an echo.

Without preamble he took a seat on the stool and grabbed the mic, "Good afternoon everyone, I'm Daniel Fox, and I'll be singing a few songs for you." He smiled his best most charismatic smile and addressed one of the kid in a bed near the stage, "Hi, what's your name?"

The boy smiled back and seemed to be in good humor, "Tom. Tom Bradford."

Daniel grinned, "That's a heck of a hairdo you've got there."

The boy laughed and those around him chuckled along, his hair was going every which way and obviously hadn't been combed today.

"I think you'll be able to relate to this first song, so I'm going to dedicate it to you, Tom. It's by Trout Fishing in America and it's called 'My hair had a party last night'.

Daniel struck the first notes on his guitar and started to sing...

"My hair had a party last night,

It musta got into a terrible fight,

Cause when my head hit the pillow it was lookin' all right,

My hair had a party last night..."

He followed that with Teddy-bears picnic, then The Cat Came Back, and so on. he sang for 45 minutes, and got the crowd ramped up and excited and ended his own set with a trio of classic sing-alongs, working the crowd the whole time. One thing he did not do was stick to the stage. He took his guitar and the portable mic and walked through the room singing and using his new found ability to manipulate others emotions. There was no thought in his mind about morality of over-ridding other's wills or any of that. In Daniel's mind, he was here to make some sick kids happy and that's exactly what he did. He tweaked the emotional state of the crowd until the room was full of happy children. Of course children weren't the only ones present and he desperately wanted to make a good impression on the record industry types. He didn't know who they were, but Alexis and Praxis had both assured him that they would be there. He still didn't understand much about how nova powers worked and had no idea how to go about developing specific ones, but he knew he needed to capture their attentions so he took a shot in the dark and tried to do something similar to what he already knew how to do and 'pushed' some energy and tried to focus it on his face and voice. He had no idea if that worked or not, but the crowd did seem to respond well and his voice seemed more resonating than usual, but then maybe it was the acoustics of the atrium. It didn't really matter, he had enough talent to impress even without tricks; at least he did compared to some of the crap that were popular today. When he was done, he was relieved when the crowd gave him a standing, or sitting or even lying down ovation depending on the circumstance. At the very least he was sure he'd surprised the crowd since they were expecting a nobody and got a great performance instead. He was sure Praxis would one up him, but he'd done both of the things he'd come here for. Now it was time to relax and see what would happen next.

When he headed 'back stage' he was relieved to see Praxis had arrived and was lounging on a couch and chatting with a rather cute nurse that seemed to be completely enraptured. He put his guitar down and grabbed a water bottle, "You're on."

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Praxis politely excused himself from the conversation that he was in as Fox came in. It was showtime. Coming to his feet he nodded to him. He stepped over to a bag he had brought with him for such an occasion and the larger case next to it. Opening the bag, he withdrew a mic of his own. It was wireless, but had been of such quality(and expense) that it had just as much value as a slightly less expensive(but considerably more inconvenient) wired microphone. The case beside it held his own guitar. He had not brought concert guitar, but rather one that were it not for the knobs on the side would be easily mistaken for a rather high-class acoustic. Clipping the mini-mic to his jacket and plugging its wireless jack into the port, he walked out the back entrance to the staging area. He probably scared the crap out of Daniel, thinking he had bailed on them for a while. However, that wasn't his style, at all. He had a show to do.

A mere second before people probably started to think he had really left, the first few notes of Cops or Criminals could be heard through door. He was coming in from the other side of the atrium, walking through the audience toward the stage as he played.

For the next hour, Praxis was on fire. He didn't play any of his songs, but instead he did a good number of covers. Most of which he did by request, as being in the music business you generally had a good idea of what other people were playing. Every time he got a request he would then ask if the requester wanted to sing. It didn't matter if the kid had the voice of a bulldozer, Praxis was an undisputed master of the guitar and through a combination of playing the song in its own key and throwing in his own modifications, he made them sound like experts.

At the end of the set, as he did the last ranting verses of A Boy Named Sue (it never ceased to amaze how many people knew that song) he returned to the stage and raised his guitar to an ovation that was just as impressive if not moreso than Daniel's. The kid had obviously "warmed the crowd" for him so he didn't have to nudge anyone. It was rather nice to be able to conserve his efforts. He made his way from the stage toward the back area, when he stopped, turned his microphone back on, and stated rather nonchalantly "You know what, you beautiful people, I think we have time for one more." He walked back on stage and slid the stool to the side, looking rather contemplative for a moment. "Yes, we definitely have time. Daniel, I'm going to need a hand with this one."

He allowed for a short pause and then, regardless of whether or not Daniel would respond or not, he rolled into the song, instantly recognizable from its first few notes. One more cover to finish out the day. He could handle it on his own, he just figured it would be better this way. Walking through the onlooking kids, who apparently also recognized the song, at least some of the older ones did. "This is the greatest and best song in the world...." He smiled and looked back towards the stage. "Tribute."

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Daniel wasn't expecting to be called out on stage and rushed to get his guitar back out of it's case. He hit the stage just as Praxis started playing, and it was all he could do not to bust out laughing. Leave it to Praxis to encore to a song like this. Daniel hadn't ever played it before, but it wasn't difficult to strum a few cords and sing along. When it was all done Daniel was pretty impressed, the room seemed to be electric with the joy that they'd brought and despite this being a hospital he thought for a minute that the audience would storm the stage in their wheelchairs and walkers, but they didn't. This was the first taste of the rush you could get from a crowd showing their appreciation for your music. Yep, this is definitely what I want to do with my life!

Once back stage again he put away his guitar and waited hoping at least one of the record industry folks would come find him. That's what he'd been advised to do, wait and let them approach him. Earlier that day Alexis had said it over the phone, "Stick around afterwards for a bit, but don't go out into the crowd. Let the industry agents come to you, it gives you more bargaining power."

Daniel didn't have to wait long, he was still gathering up his things and throwing away the empty water bottles when the first man in a suit came through the door. He presented his card and was about to give his name when the door opened nearly hitting him, this time it was a woman in a business suit, and right behind her was another man in clothes that were far too fashionable for his age. The three glared at each other for a moment then tried their best to ignore the fact that the others were there. Daniel cleared his throat and the first one to walk in spoke, "I represent Capitol records and we would like to discuss a record deal with you." The other two followed suit making their own offers and Daniel did his best to work the situation.

"I would be happy to speak with each of you in a more relaxed setting. I am staying in New York for the week, perhaps we could discuss this over a meal?" Daniel didn't have much money and even though he technically didn't need to eat thanks to his powers, the hunger was not very pleasant and nova sized meals were expensive especially in NY. If he didn't get a contract out of one of these three companies he was going to be out of money before the end of the week, then he'd have to fly home or try to find some other kind of work, and it would be one hungry lonely flight back to Texas. On the other hand they said that if you could make it in NY you could make it anywhere.

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It was a hungry week. Alexis had been good to him, by hooking him up with a place to stay while in the city. In fact he wouldn't have been able to afford more than a single night in the place on his own resources, but she'd made a phone call and suddenly the freakin manager was fawning all over him and he ended up only paying $400 for the entire week. She'd also helped out by asking one of her father's many lawyers to sit in on his luncheons with the record company execs. Still, that was only three meals out of the entire week and food in this city was way more expensive than back home in Dallas. He'd walked into the Burger Shoppe on Wall street and nearly choked at the $175 dollars they wanted for a simple freakin burger. He'd walked quickly out of there and headed for a regular fast food restaurant and still ended up paying more than $15 dollars for dinner. All in all he was pretty hungry.

On the bright side, the three meetings had gone well with each of the execs trying to outbid each other for his services. Mark, the Layton Corp lawyer, had been very helpful in the deal. He supposed he really owed Alexis big time for this. He'd signed with Atlantic Records finally after a second meeting with each company earlier this morning at his hotel. Each had tried to WOW him with their deal, and baffle him with bullshit, but thanks to Mark he'd gotten a nice lesson in cutting through all the bullshit and getting down to the meat of the deals. In the end retained complete creative control of his music which was the most important issue of all as far as he was concerned, but Mark had also managed to get him a much bigger percentage than the companies would normally give thanks to his being a nova and having talents that would quote, "Enhance" his performance.

Daniel smiled to himself. Not that he'd ever admit it, but he'd used one of those 'talents' during the negotiations to increase his value. He was sure that was not ethical, and was pretty sure it wasn't strictly legal either, but it was something no one could ever prove and that ability to work people or crowds was one of the reasons they were willing to pay him a nice fat check, so why shouldn't he use that very same ability to get what he wanted. A little voice in the back of his mind was saying that wasn't right or fair, but Daniel just ignored that voice and looked at the extra digit in front of the decimal point on the check and just smiled as he walked up to the front door of the Well's Fargo bank. Inside he walked over to the desk and signed in. It was nearly an hour wait to see one of the account managers, and by the time it was his turn it was almost closing time and the middle aged woman who announced his name looked tired and ready to go home.

He followed her into the office and she didn't even bother to look at him as she sat down behind her desk and asked in a flat voice, "How can I help you today?" Given his age she probably expected a school loan request, but what she didn't expect was the check Daniel placed on the desk and his statement, "I'd like to open an account, what is the best deal you can offer me?" Daniel pumped quantum into his voice and face the way he'd done at the concert and like he'd done at the meetings with the record company execs. He knew she wouldn't be able to do much, but even 1% interest could end up being a lot of money over time.

Her first reaction was a drop of her jaw as she saw the seven figure number on the check, then she looked up at this boy sitting across from her desk and almost fell out of her chair. She suddenly seemed very energetic and solicitous. "Would you like a bottle of water, Mr. Fox?... Is that chair comfortable enough?" It took a few moments before Daniel could get her back on track. Note to self: take it easy with the powers when dealing with middle aged women who have never met a nova face to face before. The record guys didn't react this way, they must be more used to people like me. After an hour and a consultation with several of her superiors she finally offered Daniel a complete package that included their premium free Checking, a high interest rate Savings account and a visa platinum card with 0% introductory interest rate with a fifty thousand dollar line of credit. Daniel felt rich, and it felt good. His family wasn't poor, but they'd always made him work for his money and he'd never had more than a couple thousand dollars to his name in his life, and now he had over a million dollars that he could spend any way he wanted. It felt damn good!

He wore a shit eating grin on his face all the way back to the hotel, right up to the moment he asked the Doorman at the hotel where a good restaurant was so that he could celebrate. The dignified man smiled and answered in a friendly way, "I suppose Starlords would be excellent, and they serve free food to Nova's just for eating there so doubly good for you eh, sir?" The grin slid right off Daniel's face and he stood there dumbfounded for a moment. All those hours of hunger this week, and going to bed every night with his stomach growling loud enough to be heard had anyone been in the next room and he could have been eating free all this time instead of McDonald's value menu. "Damn it, I'm an idiot!" The doorman looked quizzically at the young nova wondering what was wrong. Daniel just laughed and asked for directions.

(OOC: accidentally posted the above in the wrong spot. Adding it in here to be chronological.)

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A month passed and Daniel got used to his new circumstances. It was nice having a big fat bank account, even if he hadn't actually earned the money yet. He had been doing his part though. The record company had set him up in a small studio in the Village and provided him with an 'assistant' to help him get his band going. Daniel knew better, the man was a watchdog there to make sure he was actually working and not just spending the money on drugs or whatever. Maybe it was his work ethic or just that he wanted to succeed, but Daniel did work. His days were full, he spent hours every morning writing lyrics and music and the afternoons auditioning band members.

The first one he found that he decided to hire was a 22 year old lesbian with a lot of piercings and tats, but she handled the drums better than anyone he'd ever met and she had an attitude that he liked. She was jaded and cynical but somehow she didn't have that brittle hardness that the angry ones normally had. Somewhere beneath that surface he could tell she actually cared about people. She was damned cute and her name was Ginger and she had the red hair to go with the name, but all the ends were died black in patches. He was sure it must be very emo-fashionable, but he didn't care how she looked with skillz like those. In the end he settled on two more guys, one on bass, and one on lead guitar. That left him free to do vocals and guitar or keyboard depending on the song. He wasn't entirely happy with the two guys, but he needed to get started and they had the talent. With those two he made sure their contracts spelled out the temporary nature of their employment. They weren't real happy about that, but work was work. He caught a hint of approval from Ginger over that decision. They'd been practicing for a week now learning the songs he'd written and it was sounding pretty good. Maybe it was his nova nature, but the more he seemed to focus on something the better he seemed to get at it, and he'd been decently talented even before eruption.

Rover, as Daniel had been thinking of him, reported daily back to the company about the progress that was being made and they seemed pleased with their investment. As the month came to a close and the music progressed two men in expensive suits arrived one afternoon during practice. Rover introduced them as the VP of sales, and the VP of events. Daniel was sure they were big shots at the company from the way they carried themselves and the smug sense of self importance he could feel radiating off of them. He shrugged and told the band to take a break and turned to the two men pumping a little energy into his appearance and voice trying to make them see him as an equal rather than an underling. It seemed to work as the suddenly found themselves out of their element, but the recovered quickly.

Clearing his throat one of the men announced, "We just stopped by to listen to a song or two and let you know that we have a spot for you as the opening band for Kid Rock's new tour." Daniel blinked, and he could hear the band members getting excited behind him. He did his best to appear professional, "That's great, we'll be ready." It wasn't much to say, but he didn't know how else to respond. He didn't want to appear too eager or juvenile in front of these men, he was afraid that weakness would be seen as opportunity on their part.

They didn't seem very pleased with his reaction, but started in, "There is just one thing, the arrangement we made may need to be adjusted a little, Kid Rock is a big star, one of the biggest we handle, and I'm not sure we can give you as good of a deal as Rodger agreed to in your initial meeting. He was envisioning that you would start a bit smaller touring with a lesser artist. We..."

Daniel interrupted, "I'm really sorry to hear that. If you are voiding out contract, I'll just have to work out a deal with one of the other companies who were bidding for my services. Of course the songs I've created in the last month will go with me since I have full rights to my work." He smiled at their expressions and tweaked their anxiety just a small amount. "It's a shame, but I'm sure you can find another nova artist of my caliber to replace me on the tour with Kid Rock. Doesn't he kick off the tour in three weeks?" He grinned evilly, "That gives you plenty of time for other arrangements right?" He tweaked ratcheted up their anxiety just a hair more with the last statement.

The two men looked at each other and Karl, the VP of events, made a placating gesture, "No, no, you misunderstand, we certainly don't want to lose you after we've made such an investment in you, it's just some of the minor details of the arrangement. Kid Rock insists on a certain percentage of the ticket sales and that doesn't work with the arrangement Rodger made with you. Kid gets 25%, but you are supposed to be getting 20% and that's more than the margin allows. We were wanting to discuss that, surely 5% isn't worth voiding a contract over?" Karl was oozing slime with every word, and was implying that Daniel was being unreasonable.

Daniel did a quick mental calculation, $65 per ticket, average venue size of 15 thousand people, that was $975000 in ticket sales per event times 30 dates, was just over 29 million dollars, times 5% was just under 1.5 million, which was just about what they'd paid him as a signing bonus. He smiled a cold smile, "Tell you what. For this tour, and this tour alone I'll waive that 5%, on condition that you make a concession of your own. I'd like for you to cancel my need to pay back the signing bonus. That should be just about equal in terms of money."

The two men thought about that for a moment and looked at each other with identical pained expressions. "We'll have to discuss that with our superiors."

Daniel put a confused look on his face, "Hmm... I guess I don't understand the industry as well as I thought, because I thought you both were Vice Presidents and were the ones that had final say."

Karl coughed, "Yes, well that is technically true, we do make the decision, but we need to discuss it amongst ourselves and check the figures before we can really make that call."

Inside he was laughing, but he maintained his cool facade, "Oh, I see, that's fine, just let me know by the end of the afternoon then what you decide. I'll need to make some phone calls if we are going to void the contract." One last time he tweaked their anxiety to bring it back to the level it was at before.

Karl nodded stiffly, and both men reached out to shake Daniel's hand promising to be in touch later in the afternoon. As they were leaving he could hear Karl say to Rodger and the other VP, "Jeez he's a cold blooded bastard, I was expecting some snot nosed kid. I hate dealing with fucking novas." Rodger agreed with his boss, but added, "But they are worth it. That kid's done more work in a month than the average artist does in six. They're ready to tour now."

When Daniel was sure they were out of earshot he bust out laughing. It was so easy now to manipulate people. All it took was a little quantum and some leverage. Meanwhile his band was just staring at him in a mixture of awe and new respect.

They would make the deal. It was the easy choice for them. Daniel had a contract in writing and their choice was to cut him loose and risk legal action and give him to one of their competitors, or abide by their written word. It was a no brainer.

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It was a hungry week. Alexis had been good to him, by hooking him up with a place to stay while in the city. In fact he wouldn't have been able to afford more than a single night in the place on his own resources, but she'd made a phone call and suddenly the freakin manager was fawning all over him and he ended up only paying $400 for the entire week. She'd also helped out by asking one of her father's many lawyers to sit in on his luncheons with the record company execs. Still, that was only three meals out of the entire week and food in this city was way more expensive than back home in Dallas. He'd walked into the Burger Shoppe on Wall street and nearly choked at the $175 dollars they wanted for a simple freakin burger. He'd walked quickly out of there and headed for a regular fast food restaurant and still ended up paying more than $15 dollars for dinner. All in all he was pretty hungry.

On the bright side, the three meetings had gone well with each of the execs trying to outbid each other for his services. Mark, the Layton Corp lawyer, had been very helpful in the deal. He supposed he really owed Alexis big time for this. He'd signed with Atlantic Records finally after a second meeting with each company earlier this morning at his hotel. Each had tried to WOW him with their deal, and baffle him with bullshit, but thanks to Mark he'd gotten a nice lesson in cutting through all the bullshit and getting down to the meat of the deals. In the end retained complete creative control of his music which was the most important issue of all as far as he was concerned, but Mark had also managed to get him a much bigger percentage than the companies would normally give thanks to his being a nova and having talents that would quote, "Enhance" his performance.

Daniel smiled to himself. Not that he'd ever admit it, but he'd used one of those 'talents' during the negotiations to increase his value. He was sure that was not ethical, and was pretty sure it wasn't strictly legal either, but it was something no one could ever prove and that ability to work people or crowds was one of the reasons they were willing to pay him a nice fat check, so why shouldn't he use that very same ability to get what he wanted. A little voice in the back of his mind was saying that wasn't right or fair, but Daniel just ignored that voice and looked at the extra digit in front of the decimal point on the check and just smiled as he walked up to the front door of the Well's Fargo bank. Inside he walked over to the desk and signed in. It was nearly an hour wait to see one of the account managers, and by the time it was his turn it was almost closing time and the middle aged woman who announced his name looked tired and ready to go home.

He followed her into the office and she didn't even bother to look at him as she sat down behind her desk and asked in a flat voice, "How can I help you today?" Given his age she probably expected a school loan request, but what she didn't expect was the check Daniel placed on the desk and his statement, "I'd like to open an account, what is the best deal you can offer me?" Daniel pumped quantum into his voice and face the way he'd done at the concert and like he'd done at the meetings with the record company execs. He knew she wouldn't be able to do much, but even 1% interest could end up being a lot of money over time.

Her first reaction was a drop of her jaw as she saw the seven figure number on the check, then she looked up at this boy sitting across from her desk and almost fell out of her chair. She suddenly seemed very energetic and solicitous. "Would you like a bottle of water, Mr. Fox?... Is that chair comfortable enough?" It took a few moments before Daniel could get her back on track. Note to self: take it easy with the powers when dealing with middle aged women who have never met a nova face to face before. The record guys didn't react this way, they must be more used to people like me. After an hour and a consultation with several of her superiors she finally offered Daniel a complete package that included their premium free Checking, a high interest rate Savings account and a visa platinum card with 0% introductory interest rate with a fifty thousand dollar line of credit. Daniel felt rich, and it felt good. His family wasn't poor, but they'd always made him work for his money and he'd never had more than a couple thousand dollars to his name in his life, and now he had over a million dollars that he could spend any way he wanted. It felt damn good!

He wore a shit eating grin on his face all the way back to the hotel, right up to the moment he asked the Doorman at the hotel where a good restaurant was so that he could celebrate. The dignified man smiled and answered in a friendly way, "I suppose Starlords would be excellent, and they serve free food to Nova's just for eating there so doubly good for you eh, sir?" The grin slid right off Daniel's face and he stood there dumbfounded for a moment. All those hours of hunger this week, and going to bed every night with his stomach growling loud enough to be heard had anyone been in the next room and he could have been eating free all this time instead of McDonald's value menu. "Damn it, I'm an idiot!" The doorman looked quizzically at the young nova wondering what was wrong. Daniel just laughed and asked for directions.

(OOC: accidentally posted the above in the wrong spot. Adding it in here to be chronological.)

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A month passed and Daniel got used to his new circumstances. It was nice having a big fat bank account, even if he hadn't actually earned the money yet. He had been doing his part though. The record company had set him up in a small studio in the Village and provided him with an 'assistant' to help him get his band going. Daniel knew better, the man was a watchdog there to make sure he was actually working and not just spending the money on drugs or whatever. Maybe it was his work ethic or just that he wanted to succeed, but Daniel did work. His days were full, he spent hours every morning writing lyrics and music and the afternoons auditioning band members.

The first one he found that he decided to hire was a 22 year old lesbian with a lot of piercings and tats, but she handled the drums better than anyone he'd ever met and she had an attitude that he liked. She was jaded and cynical but somehow she didn't have that brittle hardness that the angry ones normally had. Somewhere beneath that surface he could tell she actually cared about people. She was damned cute and her name was Ginger and she had the red hair to go with the name, but all the ends were died black in patches. He was sure it must be very emo-fashionable, but he didn't care how she looked with skillz like those. In the end he settled on two more guys, one on bass, and one on lead guitar. That left him free to do vocals and guitar or keyboard depending on the song. He wasn't entirely happy with the two guys, but he needed to get started and they had the talent. With those two he made sure their contracts spelled out the temporary nature of their employment. They weren't real happy about that, but work was work. He caught a hint of approval from Ginger over that decision. They'd been practicing for a week now learning the songs he'd written and it was sounding pretty good. Maybe it was his nova nature, but the more he seemed to focus on something the better he seemed to get at it, and he'd been decently talented even before eruption.

Rover, as Daniel had been thinking of him, reported daily back to the company about the progress that was being made and they seemed pleased with their investment. As the month came to a close and the music progressed two men in expensive suits arrived one afternoon during practice. Rover introduced them as the VP of sales, and the VP of events. Daniel was sure they were big shots at the company from the way they carried themselves and the smug sense of self importance he could feel radiating off of them. He shrugged and told the band to take a break and turned to the two men pumping a little energy into his appearance and voice trying to make them see him as an equal rather than an underling. It seemed to work as the suddenly found themselves out of their element, but the recovered quickly.

Clearing his throat one of the men announced, "We just stopped by to listen to a song or two and let you know that we have a spot for you as the opening band for Kid Rock's new tour." Daniel blinked, and he could hear the band members getting excited behind him. He did his best to appear professional, "That's great, we'll be ready." It wasn't much to say, but he didn't know how else to respond. He didn't want to appear too eager or juvenile in front of these men, he was afraid that weakness would be seen as opportunity on their part.

They didn't seem very pleased with his reaction, but started in, "There is just one thing, the arrangement we made may need to be adjusted a little, Kid Rock is a big star, one of the biggest we handle, and I'm not sure we can give you as good of a deal as Rodger agreed to in your initial meeting. He was envisioning that you would start a bit smaller touring with a lesser artist. We..."

Daniel interrupted, "I'm really sorry to hear that. If you are voiding out contract, I'll just have to work out a deal with one of the other companies who were bidding for my services. Of course the songs I've created in the last month will go with me since I have full rights to my work." He smiled at their expressions and tweaked their anxiety just a small amount. "It's a shame, but I'm sure you can find another nova artist of my caliber to replace me on the tour with Kid Rock. Doesn't he kick off the tour in three weeks?" He grinned evilly, "That gives you plenty of time for other arrangements right?" He tweaked ratcheted up their anxiety just a hair more with the last statement.

The two men looked at each other and Karl, the VP of events, made a placating gesture, "No, no, you misunderstand, we certainly don't want to lose you after we've made such an investment in you, it's just some of the minor details of the arrangement. Kid Rock insists on a certain percentage of the ticket sales and that doesn't work with the arrangement Rodger made with you. Kid gets 25%, but you are supposed to be getting 20% and that's more than the margin allows. We were wanting to discuss that, surely 5% isn't worth voiding a contract over?" Karl was oozing slime with every word, and was implying that Daniel was being unreasonable.

Daniel did a quick mental calculation, $65 per ticket, average venue size of 15 thousand people, that was $975000 in ticket sales per event times 30 dates, was just over 29 million dollars, times 5% was just under 1.5 million, which was just about what they'd paid him as a signing bonus. He smiled a cold smile, "Tell you what. For this tour, and this tour alone I'll waive that 5%, on condition that you make a concession of your own. I'd like for you to cancel my need to pay back the signing bonus. That should be just about equal in terms of money."

The two men thought about that for a moment and looked at each other with identical pained expressions. "We'll have to discuss that with our superiors."

Daniel put a confused look on his face, "Hmm... I guess I don't understand the industry as well as I thought, because I thought you both were Vice Presidents and were the ones that had final say."

Karl coughed, "Yes, well that is technically true, we do make the decision, but we need to discuss it amongst ourselves and check the figures before we can really make that call."

Inside he was laughing, but he maintained his cool facade, "Oh, I see, that's fine, just let me know by the end of the afternoon then what you decide. I'll need to make some phone calls if we are going to void the contract." One last time he tweaked their anxiety to bring it back to the level it was at before.

Karl nodded stiffly, and both men reached out to shake Daniel's hand promising to be in touch later in the afternoon. As they were leaving he could hear Karl say to Rodger and the other VP, "Jeez he's a cold blooded bastard, I was expecting some snot nosed kid. I hate dealing with fucking novas." Rodger agreed with his boss, but added, "But they are worth it. That kid's done more work in a month than the average artist does in six. They're ready to tour now."

When Daniel was sure they were out of earshot he bust out laughing. It was so easy now to manipulate people. All it took was a little quantum and some leverage. Meanwhile his band was just staring at him in a mixture of awe and new respect.

They would make the deal. It was the easy choice for them. Daniel had a contract in writing and their choice was to cut him loose and risk legal action and give him to one of their competitors, or abide by their written word. It was a no brainer.

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