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Aoiroo

Bazaar Investigations (IC)

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The shop was very appropriately named, Cross' Roads, a place of passing when someone had to make a choice. Entering the shop itself would be a rather interesting choice, even if she couldn't see very much from the outside the painted windows, she could already tell that it was a rather eclectic store in general. The ad for it in the phone book certianly was, she was quite tempted to call and ask if it was real or not, but given the city she lived in and her own unique qualities she figured she at least owed the owner of this shop the benefit of the doubt. Besides, it probably won't be the strangest place she's been to in her many years of living in Freedom.

Well she was right that it wasn't the strangest, in fact hearing the bells overhead that jingled as she went in made it seem for a split second like a normal store, that feeling quickly passed however. The store had a large collection of, well things, books for one thing, of course she expected books, the other things were things that she might of seen or expected in other places, or in different various stores but not all in one place. There were rat tails in a bin, books set in different sections on various subjects, and just random things on display which she guess might of been ingredients for some ritual or something. The thing that caught her interest was a glass casing that held a few items. In it there were things like the skull of a bird, a particularly nasty looking dried scorpian, a hand held mirror with glass of the deepest black and a coil of rope that was coiled and braided with a silverly thread were among a couple of them. The walls were also very well decorated with things, but they didn't catche her interest as much as the things behind the glass. Looking down into it, she seemed to always move towards the mirror which wouldn't reflect an image back at her even if it shined back light just fine. In of itself, it caught her attention so much so that she didn't notice the approach of the store's only other inhabitant.

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Robin Cross glanced up when she heard the silver bells strung through her shop ring, announcing the sudden presence of a customer. She had been arranging a display of newt eyes ("1 oz @ $0.25, 6 oz @ $1) and watched the slim woman approach the front counter. There were several curiosities under glass there, and it was apparent that a certain one had caught the woman's eye, to to speak. The sorceress quickly stepped up and passed her hand between the customer's eyes and the mirror, breaking contact between them. She smiled and spoke, her tone gentle. "It's not a good idea to look into Beham's Mirror too deeply," she advised. "Beham had image issues, and the mirror tries to pass them along, so to speak. And what can I help you with, hm? Magic coffee beans, perhaps," she ventured, eying the bags under the woman's eyes.

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Following the hands with her eyes she looked up from the mirror to the woman who was maybe just a little shorter then herself. She took into account a few things as she looked at her, the hair color, eye color, mostly though she noted that talking about the mirror she was probably Robin Cross, the store owner.

"No, I don't like coffee, and I've read once that magic coffee has some side effects after."

Letting out a breath, she reached into her bag before glancing around the store. There was no one else there, but she was also looking for cameras since she did actually have an illegal substance, even if she wasn't exactly sure about it.

"I'm actually looking for some consulting on something I happened to come across."

Reaching into her purse she let out a breath as she felt the plastic under the skin. Pulling it out, she held the rolled up and sealed zip lock bag within a larger zip bag of Zombie Powder in her grasp out to the woman,

"I was able to research about the standard effects and uses of this, but I've heard, well that there are some deeper dangers associated with this."

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Robin crooked her fingers, and obvious gesture for the other woman to hand over the bag of powder, and when she was holding it the mystic spilled a small pile of it onto the glass counter. She pulled out a small brush from under the counter and started spreading the dust out farther, careful not to breath on the powder and sending it flying. "I take it this isn't confectioner's sugar," she said, her tone obviously distracted. "Where did you get this from, exactly?"

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Glancing down at the powder she let out a sigh,

"A few days ago I did some dog walking for a friend who had hurt their leg. When I came back in, I found them unconcious with a pile of this stuff on the table. I called an ambulence of course, and they took him away. I got a call, he died on the way to the hospital, and spent the night in the morgue. At least he should of, his corpse disappeared over night. That's not where I got that however."

She started to rub her arm like she was nervous,

"When I went back to his appartment the next day the police had already sweep it, but I found that hidden in the large bin where he kept the dog food. The police already had a sample from what was left on the table, and given the circumstances, I sort of wanted to seek a more specialized opinion on the matter."

Letting out a breath that could of been a worried sigh she glanced at the side of the womans face. The story had several alterations to it, but some of the facts in it was the same, the powder was found not bought, she was there when the person did go into the original coma, that person had died, was talken to a hospital morgue and their corpse had disappeared. All of this Carrie had confirmed over the last two days before coming to this establishment.

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Robin looked up at the other woman through her eyelashes, consciously deciding not to examine her story too closely. Instead she touched the powder and closed her eyes; she could feel the cold energy pulsing up from the powder, stilling the vibrations in the air, and deadening and twisting the energies of life. She frowned and forced her way in, pouring her awareness past gates of bone. She shivered as a cold wind passed over her soul, flushed as fierce energy invaded her frame.

When she pulled her hand away, Robin was trembling with the stored energy. She straightened and breathed out slowly, letting the heat drain out of her and dissipate into the room. She backed up and leaned against the wall, running at her temple. "This isn't just a drug," she said. "This is something much worse."

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Carrie wasn't exactly sure what was happening, but it was an interesting sight. The woman very visibly felt something from that power, Carrie wasn't exactly sure how it worked but it was the only way she could explain the display. In fact, she could feel it too, probably not in the same way, but in the heat that came through the air, it was warm, but somehow she still felt a light chill about it. Maybe she was just standing too close. Either way, when the Ms. Cross backed away from the pile Carrie reached into her purse and walked to her side pulling out an off brand bottled water which she had yet to open and took a second to twist open before handing it to the very warm looking woman.

She waited a few moments, maybe for the woman to catch her breath after what she had said, maybe for the strange heat to pass before saying,

"Can you elaborate?"

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Robin accepted the water gratefully and took a long pull from it, feeling her body temperature decrease as the energy she'd absorbed from the powder leak out of her and be absorbed by the shop's wards. She looked the other woman up and down, trying to decide how much she would understand. After a minute she spoke, her voice rapid and almost monotone. "The powder has some sort of necromantic matrix in it, taking energy from living things and storing them, like a sort of battery. There seems to be some kind of trigger for when all the energies are absorbed, but I can't see what it would do. There's all sorts of cut connections in there, and the powder itself is contaminated somehow."

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"Well some of them were using them to cut the...."

She stopped herself short as she realized she wasn't just thinking it. Looking at the woman, and cursing internally, she let out another breath. Maybe she should of come in her mask because playing civilian with this sort of thing was harder then usual,

"There was some other stuff I saw some people making this with somewhere."

She let out a light sigh, as she looked at the stuff,

"It doesn't sound like a battery as it does a polarized conductor, this is something that people consume, if it's absorbing energy it's probably absorbing energy from the."

Looking at the powder for a second her eyes widened,

"Holy sh**, it's absorbing the bodie's energy, that's why they went comatose after they took this stuff."

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Robin nodded slowly. She didn't know what a polarized conductor was, exactly, but the final conclusion seemed solid. "It wouldn't be surprising to me. Street drugs usually aren't helpful things," she added dryly. "Still, I'm no chemist. I'm not sure what else I can figure out about this stuff without more direct experimentation."

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"Well yeah, drugs do mess you up, but even druggies don't deserve to die after one hit."

She looked down at the powder then reached into her pocket for her notebook, flipping through a few pages, she went to the notes about the conversation she had with her sister the night before,

"Plus it's not like the usual designer drugs like Max and Zoom, they invoke extreme rushes of adrenaline and overclock the body so that the physical stress causes heart failure. This stuff is almost the exact opposite, it's a relaxant, a pain killer, while pain killers can cause black outs and comas, they shouldn't be able to store energy, it's chemically impossible."

Looking at the woman she let out a breath,

"Which is sort of why I came here."

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Robin suppressed the urge to roll her eyes at something being 'impossible.' The proof was right in front of this woman, but she refused to believe it. "It's not chemical," she explained. "Or at least, not entirely. It's magical. Like I said, there's a kind of construct within the powder, drawing the energy off and storing it somewhere." She shrugged, tucking her chin into her chest and staring at the floor as she thought. "I doubt it's for something good, but the spell's been modified and contaminated to such a point that it's almost impossible to see what it's actually supposed to do."

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Well that's a pain. I can't get a fesibly know where to get a purer sample, I wouldn't even know if it's pure when I got it.

"It's definitely not for anything good, and we can't test it on someone, that's homicide."

Looking down at the woman, she let out a sigh,

"Well thanks for the help anyway, I don't know many people who do this sort of thing, well actually I know people who are into it, but most of them don't really know what their doing."

Well at least none of them ever seemed like they knew what they were doing. Maybe she should take some pictures and make sure her more out there friends aren't pulling themselves into some real trouble with this stuff. She glanced at the powder again,

"It makes me uncomfortable, not knowing."

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Robin have a brief, thin smile, showing just a sliver of white teeth. "I wasn't exactly planning on dropping it in the water supply," she replied dryly. "But we could give it to a rat and observe the effects. Scientists and doctors do that all the time, give something to an animal to see what'll happen." She lifted her head to stare at the tiny pile of powder on the counter. "If that doesn't appeal to you there are some... processes that I can put it through that might produce results. Not chemical, exactly -- alchemical, actually. But it should be interesting either way."

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She looked at the powder,

"I'm fine with alchemy, well the concept doesn't make much sense to me, but it isn't exactly my field so I have no data or room to complain about processes and results. Obviously this stuff is way over my head in terms of standard sciences anyway."

Looking at the woman she let out a sigh,

"I can't pay you though, and it sort of feels like I should if you go through all the trouble. I assume such things, they use materials, though I'm sure not all of them are these weird exotic things, it'd probably cost money all the same even if it's all stuff you already have, if you use them you still lose money because you could of sold them instead."

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Robin dithered. As a business woman, she knew that it was foolish to provide a service without charging for it. On the other hand, as a mystic it was in her nature to desire more information, and the powder had piqued her interest. There was something in there that she had never seen before, and the sorceress wanted dearly to tease its parts apart and learn everything about it. She shifted on her feet for a bit, trying to resolve those two conflicts, and then she finally spoke. "I'll cut you a deal," she said. "Lunch, for what I find out."

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She smiled as she reached into her purse,

"That, I can do."

Taking out her zip up rolodex she flipped past the section promptly labelled Free Meals. It mostly contained little punch out cards for various ice cream and coffee places, as well as one or two pizza coupons. She stopped when she got near the middle,

"Let's see, I think I have a Madden's lunch special coupon in here, also, huh."

Skimming past the rest of them, the last thing was a piece of paper with the name Robert Warden,

"Robby, I think he still owes me a meal, what was that place called, Corleone's, that's not to far from here. You like Italian?"

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Robin grinned as the woman started flipping through coupons. She'd had months like that, before she got established and started turning a regular profit. "Italian will be fine," she said. The sorceress glanced at the clock above the door and did some quick math. "Shall I meet you for an early dinner? Say, five o'clock or so?" She moved forward and fished an open envelope and a mortar bowl from beneath the front counter, very carefully sweeping up the white powder into the bowl.


It was a few hours later. Robin sat in a booth at the little eatery, her red longcoat hanging from a convenient coathook. Her face was drawn and tired; there was a glass of red wine in front of her on the table, and she swirled it listlessly before she took a sip. The investigation into the powder had left her feeling drained of energy, and the dim lighting in the restaurant wasn't making it any easier to stay awake.

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Carrie was a few minutes behind, but only because she had called Robby about her friend she was bringing for the month meal he had promised her years ago that she hadn't taken advantage of for a few months now. He had come out of the kitchen and pointed Robin out before they exchanged any pleasantries they had missed with their phone conversations. She took a few minutes of this before she reminded him that he was still on duty and made her way over to Robin who had already helped herself to something from the wine menu,

"I'm not paying for that."

She smiled lightly as she slid across from the woman in the booth. It took half a glance to tell her that she was definitely not going to be energetic,

"Just kidding."

The waitress that had accompany her set down the menus in front of the two of them before asking for drink. Carrie ordered but waited until the waitress had gone before saying anything,

"You look like you've had to out run a great dane."

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Robin hadn't been planning on ordering any food, but after a moment's thought she ordered a garden salad. She didn't feel hungry, but she was experienced enough to know that her body really did need fuel after what she did. Hopefully the salad would perk up her body's reaction, while still being bland enough not to make her vomit. Besides, it was a bad idea to drink on an empty stomach.

She toyed with the stem of her wine glass for a moment. "I finished investigating the powder. I had to isolate it first -- it was mixed up with all sorts of other junk. Whoever made this stuff... Well, I don't know if they wanted the stuff to be hard to figure out or what, but it's cleverly made." She put the wine glass aside and started shaping the air with her hands. "I told you there's a battery in there, right? Feeding off the user's life force? Well, when the battery's full it waits for an hour or so and then lets the energy back out, into the body. By that time the brain's dead, and so what appears is, well, a zombie. But here's the weird part," she added. "The powder is supposed to have some, well, ties to something else. It's hard to explain, but it looks like the zombies were supposed to be under someone's control, but the control's been severed."

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Pulling out her notebook Carrie started to write down some of htis stuff as Robin said it. It was mostly abreviated but mostly it had the words, battery, life force, zombie, wait zombie? She stopped writing and started to tap her pen as she heard the rest before she scribbled down the rest, looking at the page she let out a sigh as she put the book on the table and looked at Robin again. Even while describing it she looked rather sickly.

"So, this powder, it's suppose to make zombies."

She left the word hanging up in the air before letting out a sigh,

"Right, so, the powder effectively kills someone, or at least makes them brain dead then reboots them as like a minion. Except, that's not what this powder does, that means."

She looked at the pad for a second,

"If no one's in control when they come around on this stuff, do they stop, or do they stay dead. But then they're still zombies, I can't suppose they'd all be like Dead Head or something. They wouldn't have memories, nor real concious, not if they're brains really dead. No soul either, does that mean that they'd just sit there and do nothing?"

She started tapping her pen again, the whole thing was immensely troubling, and she couldn't help picturing the whole zombie apacolipse thing.

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Robin sipped at her drink and shrugged, mildly surprised that a civilian would know of Dead Head. "It's impossible to say," she said. "If they were still under the control of whoever formulated this stuff, I'd wager their first move would be to head towards him. Or her. But with that control broken, it's a toss up. They might lay there any not react, basically dead but for the fact that they wouldn't decay. Or they might go on a rampage, faster and tougher than when they were alive. Or they might stand around and follow whatever orders they are given." She turned her head as their waiter appeared from the kitchen, their food balanced on a platter. "I'll tell you this, though. That powder wasn't made with happy fun-time necromancy. I wouldn't be surprised if these zombies, bereft of any other instruction, turned violent."

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Tapping her pen at a more rapid pace as the waiter put down a basket of garlic bread with the salad Robin had ordered, Carrie only stopped to order some beef marsola. She mostly waited for the waiter to leave before she continued,

"Something's not right though, why was the connection servered in the first place? The connect was there to make cheap minions, what does someone gain by breaking it then increasing circulation."

Reaching for a bread stick she nibbled at it impatiently before letting out a sigh,

"This will require further investigation."

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Robin smiled and speared a radish. "That's for you to find out," she said, gesturing with her fork before she dipped it in some ranch sauce. "I'm going to eat my light dinner and try to get a nap. Grappling with the forces of death and decay takes it out of you." With that statement she settled in to eat her soup, responding to the other woman's inquiries with short, to the point answers or even monosyllables. Roughly a quarter of an hour later she crossed her fork and knife over the remainder of her salad and pushed the plate away, wiping her mouth with her napkin. She stood and shrugged on her longcoat, then dug out her business card and left it on the table. "If you find anything else," she said to Carrie, before turning around and walking out of the bistro.

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