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Sometime in the Summer of 2017...


...The office of Amanda St. Croix, Freedom City


It was a hot day, and the air con buzzed furiously. Amanda St. Croix was high on coffee, her blonde hair was its predictable mess and the roots were showing. She was a tall, thin, hyperactive woman full of restless energy and inventiveness but still learning the ropes as the manager of Valerie Cain. 


"Coffee?" she asked Valerie, holding two cups of coffee. Both were for her. 


Without waiting for an answer, she pressed on, alive with jitters. 


"Look, I got something pretty mad, but you may like it. But risky, but will make the nudes, I mean the news, big time...." she said, caffeine inspiring her characteristic rambling and Freudian slips. 


"Got some artistic savante guy, thinks he is breaking new paradigms or something. Totally dick, really. Cranio-rectal fistula. But I gotta hand it to him, he has some skills. Anyway, he wants to film a rock concert at the top of the Burj Khalifa. You know, that mad tall tower in the middle of the desert? If you don't mind a five star holiday, some sand up your backside, and the fact they live in the goddamn middle ages there when it comes to girls and boobs, I mean dudes, then you have a media frenzy that will go down in the history books...." she said, dribbling every word out through coffee and nerves. 

Edited by Supercape
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Val waves her hand at the coffee as she kicks back in a chair, looking out the window to the city below.  "No, thank you; I swore off rocket fuel after the last time.  You're a stronger woman than I am."  Last time Val tried Amanda's idea of coffee, she was sure the crash after would kill her.  Then again, Amanda's probably still alive because she drinks so much of the stuff she never comes back down.


She turns her gaze up to the clouds as she considers.  "Yeah, I think we can do some good, there, and I've never been one to say no to the camera, but let's have our own security solution on this one, okay?  I'd rather have a crew we trust if you're not a hundred percent on Mr. Savant, hm?"  She doesn't recall a 'Burj Khalifa,' but she can figure out enough.  "I'm guessing we ain't gonna fit a crowd up there.  What's this, a playing all to the camera thing, wind blowing, panning city shots, that sort of thing?"


A live audience is always better.  Get that energy going, revel in it, but she can do the business well enough without.

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"Pretty much" answered Amanda, forcing herself to sit down. 


She stood up again. 


"A Camera and a few select guests. Some Saudi Prince wants to go, your biggest fan, I understand. A few other millionaires and their boobies, I mean floozies" she babbled. "You can pick your backing band. As long as it isn't the Cesspit Worms. You remember them, right? God, I wish I didn't. Even my therapist refuses to discuss them anymore" she complained. 


"The artiste is some idiot called Zyte Guyst. Got his finger on the pulse of multi media, or so he says. He is seriously annoying. It is even more annoying that he is actually very good at what he does" she said, irritated. 


"He can get your face around the world and on the cloud. Whatever the damn hell the cloud is. Jeesh, the world was simpler when a cloud was a white fluffy thing in the sky" she said, rolling her eyes. 


"Lots of money, lots of exposure, risky, contravertial and rock and roll. Right up your street, I thought..."

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Not her preferred kind of crowd, but whatever.  Sounds like a good gig anyways.


"Aw, but you and Slug made such a cute couple," Val teases, but doesn't press the subject.


"I've got someone in mind for this one.  New group called Kitty Riot!  This... well, let's just seem like it's their idea of a good time.  And I like their style; I think they'll bring a lot to the set."  She was always one to take a chance with an up and comer, and give them more freedom than they'd normally get in their situation.  Sometimes it backfires, but she remembers when she was first starting out.  It's good to pay it forward.


But there's something she just can't drop.  "He really changed his name to Zyte.  Guyste."  She spaces the two words out, not liking the taste.  "I hate this guy already.  I'm guessing no middle name to ruin the stupid?"

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At the mention of Slug, Amanda's left eye had a massive spasm. 


"Gluth...Gluth..." she whispered, trying to process the memory and failing (As always) to do so. 


But she would not speak further on the matter. 'Twas ever the mystery. 


"Kitty Riot, eh? Good choice! I approve of any feeling, I mean feline pussy" she said, brightening at their name and outrageous history. "I'll have a helicopter on standby in case of emergency extraction then. And let the embassy know. They will be spitting blood. Which is another good reason to have them!" she said, pondering the matter. 


"And yes, he did chance his name to Z.G" she sighed, frowning. She finished both coffees and started pouring another. "He says it is a representative nomenclature statement on current social cybernetics. Or something equally vapid and pretentious...here..."


She pulled up his profile on the computer. It was a website that was predictably vapid and pretentious, but, as Amanda had noted, also extremely well done. His face was there too, smiles, dyed punk red hair, jet black goatee, a few piercings, a smile that made you want to punch out his teeth if it was not for the nagging sensation that he would probably just replace them with a false teeth rainbow of metals, woods, and bodily fluids in resin. 


"Annoyingly, he is actual good at what he does" she said. ""Electrical and computer wizard, degree in art and media studies, top honours, and so on. He should at least have had the decency to be an idiot"


"I can set up a meet before the gig, if you want. Which you probably don't..." she sighed. 

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Val raises an eyebrow as Amanda's slips get worse, but elects not to comment.  Her thoughts on pussy are a matter of public record.


"He's gonna want a meet and greet after.  No getting out of that, and probably some public appearance or another to bump elbows and show the world what great friends we are.  So, I'd like to avoid the meeting I can get out of until then.  Keeps things a little more straightforward."


She heads over to the computer to get a look at the guy.  "Mm... y'know, that really doesn't work for him.  Not even if the beard matched... maybe if he bleached the eyebrows, and dyed the beard blue?  Maybe then it'd look like a fashion statement, at least, instead of just wanting attention.  But the beard just makes anything other than classic black hard to work with.  Even bleach blond would need him to lose the beard for it to work."

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And so...on December 15th, at the very toppiest top of the Burj Khalifa....


Late morning...


Zyte Guyst looked exactly like he did on the website, but was no animated. He kept holding up his hands to frame a shot, speaking into his earpiece / mobile, and clicking his fingers into a mime gun. 


"Awesome! Two words! AWE...SOME!" he greeted Val. 


To his side was a larger surfer dude bouncer type, called "Zane!", an ex-extreme sports star, and a professional woman in a suit, full of youthful intelligence and unpretentious beauty, called Alice. Zyte had tried for months to get her to change her second name to Inwonderland, but she had resisted with a tirade of sides. Alice seemed to do all the actual work of organising things and handling logistics. 


"So, this is going to be a show, huh?" said Zyte to Val. He actually had a certain charm. For a buzzing fly rotating from animal dung to animal dung. 


"Have any plans? I know Kitty are coming in by plane any moment. Got a set list? Costume? We gotta get your make up and hair done, Missy! If ya got it, flaunt it, yah?" he said, full of smiles. 


"I know I do! Cos' I am three words! AWE...SOME....SAUCE!" he yelled to the universe, whilst Alice just sighed. 

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'Missy?'  'Awesomesauce?'  'Flaunt it?'  What is this guy?


Whatever.  Just roll with it.


"Zyte!  Glad to be here.  We're almost ready on our end; makeup and costume are still unpacking," she assures him.  "As to the set...?" she raises a finger, forestalling any questions.  "Show's no fun without some surprises, hm?" she smirks.  Now stop insulting my professionalism, you ass.


"But please; do introduce me to your friends.  I didn't know you kept such lovely company."

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"Sure thing, Rockette" replied Zyte, almost professional for one fleeting picosecond. 


"This here is Zane! My bodyguard. Used to be an extreme sports stunt kinda guy. My maaaain man!". Zane! who was pleasant enough but not the shaprest tool in the box gave a big smile and wave towards Wayward. 


"And this here is Alice my wonddeeerrrrr woman!" she said, as Alice rolled her eyes and sigh. "Don't let her fool ya! She loves me, don't ya, peanuts?" he continued, undefeated. 


"Sure, Zyte. I love you" sighed Alice, and mouthed dick-head to Val with her eyes indicated just who that label belonged to. 


"Well, its gonna be one hell of a show! Always happy to have some suprises! Keeps it fresh and sparklesnappy!" said Zyte, considering the matter and stroking his goatee. "Sure, sure, I can dig it, Like rock-jazz fusion. On the edge, man. On the funkin funked EDGE!" he said, growing more excited with every moment of contemplation. 


He got a call to the ear piece. "Oh man, Kitty Riot are here! You wanta meet them or freshen  up, Rockette?" he asked Val. 

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Val's eye twitches at, 'Rockette,' but says nothing.  Stay professional.


"It's nice to meet you, Zane," Val smiles and waves, but doesn't offer her hand.  That would be rude to a bodyguard.


Alice, on the other hand, does get a handshake, "A pleasure, Alice," but her eyes say, I'm so sorry., then quickly returns her attention to Zyte.


"I should greet them, but we need to get to makeup soon if we're going to stay on schedule."  Ah, schedule.  Savior from so many unwanted conversations.

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"Sure thing! I have some awesome make up artists, hey girls!" answered Zyte, giving a freaky wave to a pair of disinterested zoned out young girls wearing more make up than clothes. They waved back and giggled. 


"Awesome girls. Awesome talent" said Zyte, cracking his knuckles. 


And so, at the top of the tower, same Zyte-time, same Zyte-channel...


A helicopter emblazoned with "KR!" came pounding down to the helipad. Zyte was all thumbs up signs and filming the view and arrival. And pretty much anything he could film. 


It was a tall tower, that was for sure. Anyone who fell off would be a pavement pizza at the bottom. If one was scared of heights, best not too look down. 


When the Helicopter landed, the three members of Kitty Riot! came out. Licky Spit, the bald headed tattoo'd beanpole, lead guitar, Fish Soup, the tiny dark skinned drummer with dread locks down to her ankles, and Milk Tray (Real name, Tracy Milk), the muscular bass player and backing vocalist complete with "RIOT" tattoo'd over and over again on her outstandingly ugly face. 


Licky Spit lead the group, and spat in Zytes face as she marched up to Wayward. Zyte seemed overjoyed and the phlegm covering his face, and smeared it on the camera lens for added authenticity. 


"Got the set list, baby" drawled Licky spit. "What ya wanna start with, what ya wanna finish with?"



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Again, Val assures Zyte that she has her own makeup artists getting ready, and doesn't need the help, as they make their way to the pad.


Val taps knuckles with the Kitty Riot! crew, keeping things mellow.  Tracy, though... she gets a lingering look.  The face is unfortunate, but that body... Mm...


But, time for business.  "Welcome to the sand box," she turns her gaze out to the brown haze obscuring the horizon.  "Always good to start things freeform.  You three jam for a bit, then I come out for a solo on Marianne.  Get the juices pumping, get the crowd worked up.  From there, we start at My First Angel, and go down the list to Forever."  A list tailored to the occasion.  A good balance of her classics, with some of the new stuff in the middle.  Zyte surely wouldn't settle for not having the latest in there somewhere.

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"That sounds..." started Licky Spit, as Milk gave Wayward a lustful look with her pig eyes. 


"Dynawesome!" yelled Zyte, punching his fist in the air. "And you hit em out with your own make up, Wayward! I suggest half your face in green, half your face in purple, and a yellow fist on your forehead! What a clash! A juxtaposition just like this movie! I mean...just like your concert!" he added. 


He slinked up to Wayward, moving on greased trainers. "Now then. You are obviously an artiste! am I right or am I not wrong? Don't answer that---I'm both!" he smiled at her. "So what do you think about the filming arrangements? You got your drones, yah? I got mine own, too. Top of the techno-geek range!" he said, pointing out a distant flying insect that was filming perfectly, despite the blustering winds at this height. 


"You ok for me to use them? Hey, Ill give you them after the show! Like an awesome gift for an awesome LADY!" he said, thumb up with one hand, camera in the other. "Or I can upgrade your own!"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wayward shoots back a smile that tells Milk they can continue this 'exchange' later, but for now, gotta get back to business.


Like trying very hard not to glare at Zyte over 'dynawesome.'  But... he is actually good at tech-teching the tech-tech...


Letting the nonsensical makeup suggestion slide, "Between our drones, I know we'll get enough good footage for post, and my buddy Max is giving the audio setup the once over twice.  But the drones aren't mine; they're Max's babies.  I'd get my throat slit if I let anyone touch them without permission.  But for this shoot, I say the more up there, the merrier, as long as they don't get in each other's way."  That's how drones work, right?

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"Max eh? I like him already!" said Zyte, stroking his goatee. "Who is he?" he asked, full of jealous impertinence. 


In a picosecond, his mercurial mind was on the move again. "Anyway, lets start setting up the shots!"


And so...just 10 minutes before the gig was due to start...


"I am your biggest fan!" smiled Prince Abdul Badawi, a tall fat man with a rather handsome face, well dressed in traditional Saudi cloth. He was a very minor member of the royalty, based on third cousins twice removed or something equally obscure. Many doubted he was a prince at all, but he seemed to just about get away with it somehow. 


"Don't tell, of course! You are a bit unconventional for traditional Saudi!" he spluttered a laugh. "I have all your recordings! Even the Bootleg one from you know where..." he said, with a conspiratorial wink. 


Beside him every one was furiously getting the set ready and the sound sorted. Not easy on the top of the worlds tallest building, outdoors. At least the wind was down.


"It would be my honour to host your at my home after the performance!" he smiled graciously, dribbling at the thought of getting so close to his idol. He seemed warm enough, but just rather fanatical his idolisation. 


"What do to you think of this building, eh? The top floors are amazing, are they not? All computer controlled, state of the art, six star luxury! Why, I have a little room here, myself!" he commented, invitingly.

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Val considers speaking up, but says nothing.  Correcting Zyte's more trouble than it's worth.  Maxine's too shy to correct anyone, and he's probably not going to notice the difference.


She gets into makeup, but proceeds to mingle before the show, instead of some of her usual preps.


The entire crew is sporting rainbow war paint, rainbow band painted around the arm, even her nails are done with it.  Enough that you can't miss it.  Not enough to break her usual themes of black and spikes and big buttkicking boots.


"It's an honor, Prince Abdul," she bows, not... entirely sure if that whole, 'commoners aren't supposed to touch royalty,' thing applies with middle eastern royalty.  Not that she's a hundred percent compliant with that anyways.


At the invitation, "That's a very gener-" she trails off, feigning distraction by some technical detail before the topic of conversation moves on.  To his little private room.


...and is he drooling?


She presses her hand up against her earpiece.  "I'm sorry; they're having a problem with the audio setup, and they need me.  It's been a pleasure, Your Highness," she lies, and slips away to find Max.


"Hey, Max; I just used you as an excuse to get out of an awkward conversation.  Pretend we're talking about a problem with the audio."

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"Yeah, the RD-D2 Socket has blown...we need to recalibrate the C3P0 modulators. Really important and engineering and stuff..." said Max in an uncharacteristically loud voice for everyone to hear. Prince Badawi looked really impressed, licking his lips at the prospect of really top quality sound, whilst the actual engineers smirked. 


Maxine was a short thin woman, only a coupla inches over five, with the worst hairstyle that one could conceive. Not that it was the same hairstyle, no no. She has ascended past that mere shadow of bad hair, for her hair seemed to morph every moment, always landing in the most precisely wrong style one could conceive of. Its mundane brown tint did not help. 


She was neither ugly nor pretty, just goofy, wearing random clothes that jarred a little. Like today, a totally bland jumper and trousers but with studded fingerless leather gloves to look a bit rock. 


"That guy over this is dribbling, you know" she said, moving her eyes to indicate the Prince. 


"In any case, actually, its all set. And good thing too, we are rolling in two minutes" she explained excitedly. "I got the drones running! Have to say, the top of this building is pretty awesome. Everything computer run, swishing doors, lights, martini's...well cool!" she said, scratching her earholes at the same time to play with the wax that always congealed in them. 


She pointed at the drones, all six of them, buzzing away at various distances and angles. Between the drones and Zytes irritating skill at art, it was all looking good. 


"Ready when you are!" she added, giving the thumbs up. Zyte followed suit and pointed at the stage, where Kitty Riot were already waiting. 

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"You're the best, Max," Val smiles, bumping fists before she's called away.  She sends a smile to the crowd, then turns back to Max with an exaggerated look of concern over the prince before heading to the back.


She takes one of her padlocks in hand.  A silver-plated, V-engraved number.  Always funny to feel; she still remembers the first lock.  Just a ninety-nine cent number from a hardware store.  She can remember when a day she pulled in enough money as this one lock cost would make her week.


She taps her headset, "Whenever you're ready."  A moment later, Kitty Riot! starts to jam.  Val locks her choker, slips the key in her bracelet, and takes Marianne in hand.


Good to go.


She gives the rest of the girls a moment to shine, then charges out, hand held high.  One moment, and...


...she shreds that guitar like few this world has ever seen.  This ain't her kind of crowd, but she rides their energy anyways, uses it, and when her solo's gone on long enough, the key comes out.  The lock comes off.  A quick scan of the crowd, and she already knows where it's going; a long lob, and she throws it out to the side, where Alice is watching.  Today probably won't be her normal routine, sadly, but Val would love the chance to see that one cut loose a bit.


But this ain't the time for that!  The set goes on into Val's most iconic song, kept fresh all these years by the constantly rotating bands that share the stage with her.  My First Angel, a heartbreaking song about doomed first love that teaches what it even means to make that connection, and the pace does not quit until the final note of the final song, each piece flowing one to the other.


And as that final note hangs in the air, she takes the physical mike in hand and raises the horn, "THANK YOU DUBAI!"  Not that the mike is hooked up to anything.  It'd just get in the way of the real audio setup.

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There was one of those silent seconds that indicated something was going to come, but quite what it was could not be determined. 


Then, it became clear. It was a stunned applause. This was the best thing anyone had seen in their life, with the possible exception of Zyte who had seen plenty of amazing things. But even Zyte was silent, caught in a trance of making sure he captured the moment - the moments - as fully as he could. 


"That was absolutely A. MAY. ZEE. FU---"


"Attention! " came the interruption. It was the six drones, blasting out through tinny speakers simultaneously. 


"This so-called-performance is being interrupted. My name is Captain Dove, formally of the United States Airforce. I am in control of this building. I will list my demands in fifteen minutes..."


The voice could not be recognised. It had some distortion effect on. This was professional. 


Zyte was in a panic, twisting knobs and pulling plugs. Mainly  pulling his hair out, however. "No...no...no....!" he muttered, sweating profusely. 


"In the mean time, I will be broadcasting classified Drone Surveillance intelligence gathered by NATO on Saudi involvement in financing global terrorism..."*


The drones went quiet, then started broadcasting the very same, detailed intelligence conversations. It was hard to understand with just the audio files, but it sounded pretty high level spook stuff. Not the kind of stuff one would want broadcast...



OOC Note: This is not intended to be actual proof of Saudi involvement or delving into politics (at least, over and above the misinformed public opinion! ;), but it is clearly very sensitive stuff of intelligence operations. Without context, it is highly suggestive - but of course not definitive - towards the Saudi government. The broadcasts are just beginning but designed to make unpalatable spook stuff seem like major conspiracies to the public, who will exaggerate every little suggestion...


i.e. This is not a discussion of global politics other than - sensitive stuff that will appeal to consipracy theorists is being released!!![/ooc]

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...the Hell?


Val scans the group.  Zyte?  Panicking.  Max?  Completely confused.


Okay, so this is a hijacking.  Great.  But you know what you can't hack?  A friggin' cable.


She pulls a cable from Marianne and gives a look to Kitty Riot! to tell 'em to do the same as she says Hell with wireless and just plugs 'er into the amp.  Nobody's gonna turn her show into a PR nightmare.  Not on her watch.


She steps back, going back-to-back with Milk.  "GET LOUD, GIRLS!"  But before she begins playing, she grabs Milk and pulls her down for one long, deep kiss.  If this show's gonna make a splash, it ain't gonna be for some conspiracy theory bull.  It's gonna be for this.


Then, she begins to jam, blasting over the broadcast.  At least, until the eggheads can figure out what the Hell just happened.

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"No! Stop playing! Listen to me! LISTEN TO ME!" screamed the voices of the speakers, but they were drowned out by the sheer volume of Kitty Riot and the wailing shredding guitar of Wayward. Up, down, spiralling melodies and riffs, the machines went. 


"PULL THE PLUG! PULL THE DAMN PLUG!" screamed Zyte, trying to shut down the recording equipment. To no avail. 


Eventually Zane! His surfer dude bodyguard, picked up the malfunctioning media system, all speakers and tubes and glistening computer screens, and with muscle and extreme, effort, he hurled it off the side of the building. 


"No...No...YES!" shouted Zyte, not sure if this was a good thing, or a bad thing. He concluded, quickly, that it was both. 


"Lets get out of here!" he added, indicating by the power of mime, to Kitty Riot and Wayward that the transmission had concluded. 

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Really hope no one's down there.


The jam session grinds to a rather unceremonious halt.  "Well," Val says as the crashing of the recording equipment echoes.  "You certainly throw interesting parties, Zyte."


Val heads back behind the stage, where she puts Marianne back in her case, and grabs her collapsible staff from atop a crate.  She has a creeping suspicion she's gonna need it.


"So I hear everything in this place is controlled by computers," she points out as she looks to the door heading down.  "And we're dealing with some crazy hacker.  Anyone know just how scary the security system is?"

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Zyte looked nervous, wringing his hands. Not that he wouldn't swim in a sea of anxiety in order to get ART!!!!


But still, this was not how he wanted it to go down. "We are....in trouble...." he explained, slowly as the audience (the dozen of them), Kitty Riot, and the techs wandered around checking the equipment. 


"This is state of the art, you know...the entire top floors are one hertz short of an AI system. Everything controlled from humidity to lighting to the forth on your bar of soap" he explained. "I know my way round computers, sure, but whoever managed to hack this system is beyond good. They are great" he said, bluntly. 


"Guys...guys...I can't open the lift door..." shouted Zane!, pressing on the lift button and trying to get his fingernails in between the sliding doors. He wasn't a bright spark, was Zane! but he was in good shape. The door was slammed tight. 



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Val nods at the explanation, and looks around.


"We don't want the elevator.  Our hacker friend probably has them under control already.  Are there stairs?  'Cuz if not, we're down to waiting for a helicopter or... something you're not gonna like."


Rappelling down and busting out a window is... not the best idea.


She looks for a door down, and prays it isn't a magnetic lock.

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"Right! Right! Emergency stairs...fire escape! Got to be something like that....!" relied Zyte, snapping his fingers and looking around. 


And so there was, of course. Hubris that nothing could go wrong was, in this case, not sufficient to bypass required architectural safety measures. At the side of the roof, slightly nearer the side that one might want, was an old fashioned door and handle, leading to a fire escape. 


And, lo! the door was open, leading to some glass and chrome stairs, down to the lower levels of the top of the building. 


"Careful!" cautioned Zyte, "this is still computer territory..." he explained, pointing to a camera just inside the door that glared at them, unblinking. 


A buzzing could be heard in the air. 


"Heads up, guys....Drones! Not ours, this time...." called out Zane! Pointing at the horizon, which, at this height, was an unfamiliar sight. Ten drones, still some way away but closing fast, were approaching the tower. Each one was small, probably a foot or two wide, and quiet. Hard to spot...but with a military flavour....

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