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R. Bluefish

A Performance to Die For

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Friday

February 19, 2016

Riverside, Freedom City

The Black Box

 

"Can't believe I let you drag me along to this thing," Sam grumbled. "I should be getting overtime for this."

 

It wasn't as though Sam had never gone out to a nightclub for a night of alcohol and bad music before. She'd been a teenager. She'd snuck out to party with her quote-unquote friends at least...hell, more times than she could clearly remember. The alcohol probably had sometime to do with that. But she was an adult now, with real responsibilities, and alcohol now affected her no more than orange juice did. She'd generally found that bad music was even worse when you had to listen to it sober. Now when she looked around at her surroundings, at the pulsing lights, the gyrating dancers, the deafening noise, all she saw was a bunch of drunken college students sexing each other up and acting like hormonal idiots. Christ, when did I get so old.

 

She leaned over to shout in Gretchen's ear, the only way to make herself heard above the din. "Are we sure this isn't a prank? Some Internet jackass just thought it would be a kick to post on your site about a bunch people disappearing from this 'Black Box' club, and watch us waste our time?" She took a sip of her fruit juice, hardly tasting it due to her irritation. "You'd think that if people really were getting snatched from here, the cops would have noticed by now." Assuming the cops aren't a gaggle of incompetent glorified security guards, which, since I'm being all positive-outlook these days, they aren't. "I wouldn't mind getting out of here before the band comes on and blows my eardrums out."

 

A tall, muscular man in a tight T-shirt sauntered cockily up and leaned against the bar next to Sam, glancing her up and down in a none-too-subtle fashion. Without so much as looking, Sam dissuaded him with a raised middle finger before he could even open his mouth. Taking the hint, he pushed away from the bar and sauntered cockily away back the way he'd come. Sam continued as though nothing had happened. "You'd think they could at least include a little more info. For chrissakes, at least the names of whoever's missing. 'People disappearing from Black Box, watch out for the band' isn't a whole lot to go on."

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Gretchen wasn't having too great a time, either; though a bit more comfortable in this sort of crowd due to her relative youth, the club and DJ still sucked royally. She also had to raise her voice over the din. "Yeah, it could be a prank, but you start to develop a kind of sixth sense for those. Ironically, those tend to have more specific language. They want it sound legit, or they want you to show up at a specific time so they can record it on their cellphone. Or both. Vagueness can also indicate fear, because they're afraid if they're too specific, it can be traced back to them."

 

Of course, she'd had to learn all this empirically by showing up for a lot of bad tips; many of the pranksters were disappointed when the Shrike showed up instead of Grim, who was 'way hotter', and less likely to use her powers to leave their precious smartphones up on a roof.

 

"Tell you what. If this turns out to be a bum tip and the band sucks half as much as I think it will, we go all Pete Townsend and trash the place. Deal?"

Edited by Heritage

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Sam let out a snort of amusement. "Deal. I'll take out the support beams and collapse the joint, you're on crowd control." She turned her back to lean against the bar, elbows on the smooth painted surface. "We'll take out the band too, just to be on the safe side." She took another irritated sip of her juice and looked towards the empty stage. "Assuming they actually come on at some point, that is."

 

As if they had been waiting for her cue, the lights in the club ceased their seizure-inducing pulsing, instead dimming until everything but the short stage was in shadow. "And now," the annoying DJ crowed into a microphone, "what you've all been waiting for..." he threw a hand dramatically towards the stage, "...Black Fang!"

 

The electronic whine of the microphone hadn't even begun to die away when the stage was suddenly hidden behind a rolling wall of white smoke that had no apparent source. An anticipatory hush seemed to come over the previously rowdy crowd - there wasn't a single head in the whole joint that wasn't fixed on the stage, and that included the wait staff.

 

As quickly as it had come, the smoke was vanishing, slithering away in thin tendrils to dissipate into thin air. But, standing on a previously empty stage, there was now a band. Taken aback, Sam stopped chewing on her toothpick to stare. Good special effects for a dump like this. There were five of them, three men and two women, dressed identically in matching Black Fang T-shirts, jeans, and red scarves, the ensemble topped off with the little round sunglasses that Sam always wound up associating with complete douchebags.

 

One of them - a man - approached the microphone that had been set up on stage, an electric guitar slung casually around his shoulders, and Sam's breath caught in her throat. She wasn't the most amorous person in the world, to say the least - she never quite saw the appeal. But even she, disinterested as she usually was, could tell that this guy was gorgeous. If asked after the fact, she couldn't have said what it was about his face, or his body, or even his voice. He simply had some intangible, magnetic quality that drew every eye, quieted every voice, and dropped every jaw. He wore the same circular sunglasses as the rest of the band, dark against his milk-pale skin. His hair was long and jet-black, drawn back in a ponytail, and he sported a neat, close-cropped goatee.

 

"Hello, friends and neighbors!" he shouted into the microphone. "I'm Alec Card, and this is Black Fang! Are you ready to rock?" Instantly, the club exploded into wild cheering. In that moment, Sam found herself rising enthusiastically to her feet to join them before she caught herself. Puzzled and slightly unsettled, she shook herself, then forced herself to sit back down. "Okay," she muttered in Gretchen's ear, fighting to control herself, "maybe it wasn't a bogus tip after all."

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When the stage show began in earnest and the smoke did its freaky, freaky thing, a single thought echoed in Gretchen's head.

 

Magic.

 

Oh sure, it could have been some amazing tech, or elemental control or psychokinesis, but if there was one thing the Shrike had learned from people like her boss or Presto the Preposterous, it was that people who worked with magic were always theatrical. There were props and costumes and rituals, and they always go for the big entrance.

 

And what an entrance it was! So much do that the cynical young musician found herself on her feet, whooping and applauding for a band she hadn't even heard of until two seconds ago. It took all her willpower to return to her seat, which was more than a little unsettling. 

 

"This is bad. I'd go so far as to say 'very bad'. This smells like mind control of some kind." She jerked her chin in the apparent lead singer's direction. "If this ###hole snapped his fingers, how many of these kids do you think would do whatever he asked?" She snorted with little humor. "I might even take him up on it, and I despise guys with goatees."

Edited by Heritage

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"Everyone despises guys with goatees," Sam said, working the toothpick from one side of her mouth to the other. She was doing her best to maintain her calm, but masking her emotions had never been her strong suit, and her agitation was showing clearly. She felt like her mind was being tampered with, and she didn't like it. Nothing ordinarily excited emotion in her this strongly except visits to her son and reading depressing novels from the early 20th century. "Maybe we should-"

 

The words dried up in her mouth the moment Alec Card lowered one pale hand and struck a chord on his guitar. The sound reverberated throughout the entire club, seeming to cause the very floor beneath their feet to vibrate. Instantly every voice fell silent, and the two heroes could practically hear the hearts beating in furious anticipation.

 

Then Black Fang began to play, an earsplitting explosion of pure sound that Sam was sure would bring the whole club down around their ears - or at the very least deafen everyone there. The crowd was roaring again, but now that they were aware of what was happening, Sam and Gretchen were able to resist joining them. Trying to separate her true emotions from whatever it was that was influencing her feelings, Sam cocked her head, listening carefully, then was struck by a sudden thought.

 

Turning to Gretchen, she said, "Is it just me, or are they..." she searched for the phrase, "...complete crap?"

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Gretchen slowly shook her head, unable to pull her eyes away from the magnetic yet technically terrible performance. "No, it's not just you. These guys are complete and utter s###." She indicated the front man with a nod of her head. "I would be surprised if Alec here knew more than three chords, four tops. Plus he's using way too many effects pedals, and they're in the wrong sequence. You should never have your chorus after your reverb, otherwise you're just making noise." Then she pointed at the bass and drum players. "The rhythm section is completely out of sync. They take turns coming in late on the beat." And then she sighed and shook her head. "And don't get me started on Keyboard Girl."

 

Looking around at the rest of the club's reactions, she felt like she'd just stepped in from an alternate universe where people actually knew what good music sounded like, kind of like how she felt watching the MTV Music Awards every freaking year; seriously, why was she still torturing herself year after year?

 

"On the plus side, we now have concrete proof there's something wrong with this band, because we haven't killed ourselves yet. Clearly sinister forces are at play."

Edited by Heritage

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The only consolation the two unfortunate heroes had was that the song was, although terrible, mercifully brief, as though even the band was eager to get out of there. Not that it seemed to matter to the crowd, who were roaring themselves hoarse as enthusiastically as ever. With the two of them being the only ones present who weren't cheering like morons, Sam felt even more out of place than usual. And was it her imagination, or had the lead singer kept glancing their way during the song?

 

"All right, we're Black Fang, and that was 'Pierce me Through!'" Alec Card shouted into the microphone. "We'll be back in a minute - if you still want us, that is!" The crowd bellowed its assent sycophantically.

 

Instead of retreating into some kind of fancy VIP area, like Sam had been expecting, the band descended into the wild crowd, giving high-fives and letting the adulation wash over them. "Well, you can't accuse them of being too humble," Sam muttered to Gretchen. "How you want to play this?"

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"I think they may be onto us. I also have a bad feeling I know what their shtick is, and you're not going to like it." She shook her head. "Pale skin, sunglasses, mesmerizing performance, Black Fang, 'Pierce Me Through'?" She gave Sam a meaningful look. "'Alec. Card.'" She sighed in irritation; the girl still wasn't picking up on it. "Alucard, from Castlevania?" Nope, still nothing. "Dracula spelled backwards? They're vampires." Then she turned back to look at the band working its way through the crowd. "And we didn't like their s###y music."

 

After a few seconds, she leaned over to murmur to Sam, her eyes not leaving Black Fang. "We play this straight, march right up to them. We're a pair of bitchy hot girls who didn't like their music. They might be intrigued, see us as a challenge. We don't have to fake finding them attractive, because we have eyes. Bottom line, if they're focused on us, they're not targeting two girls who don't have superpowers to defend themselves." She turned to give Sam a quick look. "Sound like a plan?"

Edited by Heritage

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"Sure, sounds like a plan," Sam said, furrowing her brow as she tried to remember what part of Europe Castlevania was in. Does that border Romania? "We go chum the water and draw their attention." She cricked her neck. "And if they feel like picking a fight, then we'll give them one."

 

The two women had a surprisingly easy time fighting their way to the front of the crowd - despite the rabid adulation with which the assembled masses were hailing the band, they took being shouldered aside fairly calmly. Whether it was a consequence of whatever Card was using to make them crazy about him, or a consequence of the two of them looking like they were ready to kick someone's ass, Sam wasn't certain, but the two of them swiftly made themselves a path through the crowd towards the (vampire?) band.

 

Sam shoved aside two last groupies, and suddenly they stood directly before Black Fang. Alec Card was front and center, guitar still hanging casually off his neck, eying them cooly through his douchebag sunglasses. The corners of his lips quirked upwards, baring a sliver of too-white teeth. "Hello, girls."

 

Sam took an instinctive step backward and immediately hated herself for it - and also discovered that the crowd had receded, leaving Gretch, Sam, and the band enclosed in a circle of people. Alec Card strolled towards them with languid grace. "Did you like the show?" he drawled.

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Damn, this guy is hot! Be strong, Gretch. Think about his crappy music and stupid goatee.

 

With great effort, the barista forced herself to stop devouring him with her eyes and focused her disdain into a white-hot ingot of loathing.

 

"Not really." She shrugged and shook her head. "You guys suck. You rely upon your intoxicating stage presence to hide that fact that you have no idea what you're doing, which judging by the sea of groupies around you has obviously worked so far." She held out her hand and smirked. "Give me your guitar. I want to show you how it's done."

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Card's smile remained, but it flickered, just slightly, as though it was briefly on the verge of turning into a snarl. "Is that so?" He shifted forward, moving to the very edge of their personal space. "They seem to appreciate us," he said, waving a hand at the assembled crowd, who were obviously hanging on his every word. "They seem to appreciate me." His smile vanished in an instant as he fixed his gaze on Gretchen, his eyes invisible behind the featureless black lenses of his sunglasses. Was it her imagination, or had the temperature in the room dropped? "Why don't you, I wonder?"

 

The pause dragged on, moments turning into seconds, until he laughed, sharp and sudden. "Fine. I'll bite." Unslinging his guitar from his shoulder, he held it out to Gretchen neck-first. "Let's see what you've got, honey."

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She accepted the guitar with confidence, slinging it over her shoulder and giving the strings an experimental strum. "It's in tune. Your guitar tech at least knows what he's doing." Gretch fished a pick out of the back pocket of her jeans; yes, she always carried one, because you never know. Of course, the axe was no longer plugged into an amp out here in the crowd, but fingering could still be demonstrated.

 

"Watch closely. You might want to take some notes." And with that, she began to put the guitar through its paces, easily shifting between genres and artists; Stevie Ray Vaughn bled into Joe Satriani, which flowed smoothly into a little Hendrix, Angus Young and Strummer. Without the juice, it was not a mind-blowing experience, and Gretchen was still young and developing her technique, but her technical skills were undeniably impressive; right now, she was very good, but someday she'd be amazing.

 

"There you go, a little taste." She handed it back and shrugged. "Not my best, but it's tough to play right-handed when you're a lefty."

 

Bam.

Edited by Heritage

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Card's eyebrows had been steadily rising throughout the entire display, and his mouth opened a little wider with each note. When she spoke, he seemed to remember himself and snapped his faintly smug expression back into place. "Well now," he said, taking his guitar back and slinging it once more over his shoulder. "Seems the bird knows how to sing."

 

Glancing at the rest of his band, they exchanged almost imperceptible nods. His smile seemed to be taking on a faintly...hungry edge. "You've got some skills there," he said, moving closer still to Gretchen. "Do some practicing, and you could be almost as good as me. With a little help from us, of course." He was standing close enough that she could feel his breath. "Maybe you could come into the back with us, and we can talk about...signing you up?"

Edited by R. Bluefish

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'Signing you up' was no doubt a euphemism for something terrible, like being killed, vampirized or getting a major label deal, all of which were equally undesirable to Gretchen; that being said, feeling his breath on her face did make her pulse race, and she could see her glasses fogging up. It would be so easy to just let his magnetic pull draw her in, surrender herself to the power of his-

 

Lord. Douchebag.

 

She was stronger than this, better than this, and she would not give this a-hole the satisfaction of taking her. So she leaned into him and murmered, "Sure. Is there any kind of...signing bonus?" And then she put her hands on his belt and gave it a playful tug.

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Card's eyes seemed to widen just slightly behind his douche-shades, his expression of surprise surpassed by the look of incredulity Sam was giving her. "Well now," he breathed. "I'm sure we can...discuss it." He reached out and laid one possessive, languorous hand on Gretchen's shoulder. "Come around back with us? We can work out the details, talk about a signing bonus, get you all...sorted out." He was already half-turning, steering her with his body, the rest of the band moving with him.

 

"Oh," he said, stopping suddenly as if he'd almost forgotten. "Your...friend will have to wait out here." He glanced at Sam over his shoulder, not bothering to look her in the eye, only sliding his gaze over her with undisguised distaste. "You're going to be a rock star, little bird," he crooned to Gretchen. "You'll have to be careful of the company you keep from now on. People like that," he jerked a thumb at Sam, "they're no good. No sense of...adventure. They just drag you down."

 

Breaking her silence, Sam snapped her fingers, the sound as sharp as a gunshot. "Hey. I'm standing right here, &%#@stain. I can hear you." She looked at Gretch, concern showing visibly through her usually indifferent features. "Gretch? You...okay? What do you want me to do?" What every cell of her body was telling her to do was power up and turn Card into a pile of trendy ashes, but Gretch seemed to be working some kind of angle here. Subtlety wasn't Sam's specialty, and experience had taught her when it was time to follow someone else's lead.

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If you asked Gretchen, or even most people who knew her, they would all agree she wasn't really a 'people person', but at her core she had self-confidence, a sharp wit,  and she knew how she was built. This meant she actually had some charm to turn if she really wanted to; she just normally couldn't be bothered, especially with pinheads like Alec Card. But she knew he couldn't resist the challenge of winning her over, and wouldn't question his ability to do so.

 

However, it was dangerous to leave Sam out of loop, as well as unfair; she was probably scared ####less that Gretch was under his thrall. But how to bring her on board without showing her hand? Then an idea hit her, and she opened a mental channel to her partner, Lynn.

 

-Hey.-

 

-Hey! How's the case going?-

 

-It's definitely going. I need you to do me a favor.-

 

-Of course, whaddya need?-

 

She trusted the changeling in a way she did few people, which was one of the reasons she loved her. Wow; when was the last time she could say that? But right now, there was work to do, and that meant keeping up the act, so she rolled her eyes and shook her head, the way Sam had seen her do countless times at work.

 

"You literally won't let me have a good time. Thanks for that. It must suck to have all the joy sucked out of your life."

 

Just then, Sam's cellphone vibrated, prompting Gretch to sneer with disgust.

 

"Let me guess, it's Lynn texting again. Please tell your ex to kindly go #### herself."

 

And then she turned to join Alec and the rest of the band. Meanwhile, a text from Lynn actually had shown up on her phone, but its contents were surprising; it was rapidly followed by a few others.

 

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Hi Sam its Lynn. Gretch is *not* being mind controlled! Shes just yanking this dudes chain and using herself as bait. I hate when she does that :/

 

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You can text me back and i can get the message to her mentally. Yes magic is kinda scary but it can be damn useful too!

 

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Shes says maybe go invisible but if they really are vampires (?!) they might be able to smell you or something. 

 

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#### i hate vampires. Except one or two ive met. Dont let them make her vampire or your fired. This is not a joke >:(

 

Edited by Heritage

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Sam was startled by the sudden vibration of her phone - hardly anyone ever contacted her, let alone when she was right in the middle of trying to deal with a gaggle of Twilight-overdosed hipsters. That seemed to have hypnotized her friend. Even as she dug her phone out of her jacket pocket, she was concocting a plan in her head. Follow them back under a cloak, wait for them to settle in, hit the fire alarm to get the civvies out, 'port Gretch somewhere safe where I can beat the mind control out of her...She glanced at her phone - an incoming text from Lynn. She read it, then felt slightly stupid. Oh. Well, that's a relief. She took a moment to consider her response, then hastily typed back...

 

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she needs to give me some warning next time she does that

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ill stay here in case they can smell my blood or whatever

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will suit up, can port in fast if she needs me

 

Turning on her heel, she made for the exit, pushing her way roughly through the crowd. Outside, in the alley behind the club, she began stripping off her civilian clothes, revealing the uniform black bodysuit beneath.

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Alec Card and the band half-led, half-steered Gretchen into the band's area, which proved to be a fairly spacious rectangular room in the back of the building. Furnished with battered and obviously secondhand furniture, it was exactly what you might expect from a local indie band. A large, squashy leather sofa dominated one wall, with mismatching stools and chairs dotted around haphazardly. There were no visible coffins, but Gretchen noticed that the only window in the room had been blocked by heavy black curtains.

 

Card pushed Gretchen towards the sofa, with a casual gentleness that implied unspoken strength. "Have a seat, baby." He threw himself into a worn armchair across from the sofa, sitting with languid obnoxiousness, one leg thrown over the armrest. "We'll talk business in a second."

 

One of the band members - a heavily pierced and tattooed girl with pink-and-black dyed hair, who was no less gorgeous than Card himself - leaned over to whisper in Gretchen's ear. "Anything to drink?"

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Yeah she said shes sorry about that but she didnt know if she could signal you in a way they couldnt figure out

 

Backstage, Gretchen let her eyes wander about the room as she took a seat on the sofa, trying to take in everything.

 

Blacked-out window probably means sunlight's a problem. Too bad sunrise is several hours away.

 

Any drink they offered her would almost certainly be drugged or worse; even bottled war could be tampered with in undetectable ways, especially if these guys were using magic. A certain amount of caution on young women's part involving drinks was normal these days, and didn't necessarily mean you suspected your hosts were vampires, but she was trying to sell the idea that she'd already drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid, so too much caution might make them suspicious. Time to make a compromise and pray to the God she didn't believe in.

 

She turned to the girl (the damn fine girl) and smiled. "I'll take a bottled water." 

 

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She says theres one window covered with black curtains, some old furniture and thats it. All five members of the band are back there

 

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Shes pretty sure they want to drug her so she asked for bottled water, still not sure if thats safe tho

 

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#### im scared right now! Dont let them take her! Shes brave and smart but its just her and thst ring vs all of them! :(

Edited by Heritage

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A look of faint annoyance seemed to flicker across the girl's face, so quickly that it might have been Gretchen's imagination. Her smile was back in an instant, as though it had never left. "You got it," she said, and left the room.

 

Two of the other band members sat down on the couch, on either side of Gretchen, while the final one perched on a stool. Between the three of them and Card, they effectively had Gretchen subtly hemmed in, and they all seemed to be leaning towards her ever so slightly.

 

Card's sunglasses made his eyes look like featureless dark circles. His trendy chin-goatee stood out sharply black against his ghost-pale skin. "So...Gretch, is it?" he said. "Let's get down to it, shall we? What is it you're hoping to get out of this deal?" His lips were peeling back, bit by bit, as he spoke, baring too-white teeth. "Money? Fame? Adulation? Boys? Girls? More liquor than you could drink in a thousand lifetimes?" He spread his arms wide, in a "right here" sort of way. "You can have it." He grinned, wide and fierce. "You can have all of it."

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Outside and above them, the now properly-garbed Starlight crouched on the roof of the Black Box, her phone casting pale light across her masked face as she stared down at it. Frustration was growing in her chest. Gretchen was in there with an entire five-man-band of hipster-punk-poet vampires - she felt pretty confident calling them vampires now - and here she was, cooling her heels and texting with her boss. Maybe if I had impressed them more, they would have invited me back too, and I could watch her back. She snorted. Fat chance of that. There were many things that weren't her strong suit, and making good first impressions was near the top.


She wanted to blast something. She contented herself instead with texting a reply to Lynn.

 

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tell her to watch her ass in there

 

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tell her not to get vampired or ill be out of a job

 

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if i even think shes been drugged im going in there to get my van helsing on

 

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It was starting to feel like Shark Week backstage; even with the power of the Three Gifts at her disposal, Gretch didn't think she stood a very good chance against these homicidal nimrods, at least not without her backup. It was time to hit them while they're guard was still down.

 

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She says keyboard girl left the room to get her water so its time to move.

 

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Take a position outside the window and be ready to bust in on her signal, which will be her making a major scene.

 

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She'll be really *really* loud.

 

It was times like this, when she was surrounded by a pack of undead predators, that Gretchen took comfort in one of Lynn's favorite maxims: when in doubt, freak 'em out.

 

At first, she smiled liked a kid in a candy store. "Oh, I want it all! I want to party 'til my legs buckle. I want to-" But then she stopped abruptly like she'd been shot, her head snapping back violently. Then she began twist and contort her body like she was having some sort of seizure. And then her eyes rolled back and she began to float towards the f###ing ceiling as she howled like a banshee!

 

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NOW NOW NOW

 

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Gretchen's...display certainly had the desired effect. As one, the vampires exploded from their seats, backing away from the apparently-possessed young woman. The one who had left to fetch her water appeared in the doorway - the bottle fell from her hand and burst open on the floor. "What is this?" she spat - not at Gretchen, but at Card. "Look at it! It's tainted! You were going to feed us tainted blood, you fool!"

 

Card opened his mouth as if to protest, but whatever he said was drowned out by the sound of the wall suddenly exploding.

 

A six-foot hole was been blasted in the side of the building, a brilliant light shining through, so bright it cast the entire scene in unearthly shades of white. Before the rubble had even hit the floor, Starlight was inside, landing in a crouch. "Okay, fun's over," she snapped, rising to stand erect, both hands curled into fists. "Now get the #$@& away from my friend."

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Normally, Gretchen wasn't one to laugh out loud; she was more of a smirking girl, or even just going for the full-on deadpan approach. But the s### that was going on below her now? That was f###ing hilarious! 

 

At first, it was hard to tell if it was just more 'possessed twitching', seeing as she was still facing the ceiling, but then something between hysterical and maniacal laughter clearly began to shake her body as she slowly rolled over in midair to face her would-be assailants. The fact of the matter was, a large part of whst made all this so damned fun was the release of adrenaline, because part of Gretch knew she was that close to bring Vampire Chow mere seconds ago.

 

"You frickin' idiots,she finally managed snort as she reached over and gave the Ring a twist; there was a weird, shuttery flashing of silver light that washed over her, like a projector breaking down, and then she was gloriously transformed into the Shrike, all black leather and silver topped with her black cloak and silver bird mask. 

 

And then her left fist shot out and crimson blast of energy streaked at Lord Douchebag with a deafening 'kra-KOW!'

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As fast as vampires supposedly were, they weren't fast enough to react to the one-two punch of Gretchen's trick and Starlight's entrance. All Card managed was a "Wha-" before the crimson blast of magic struck him square in the chest. He staggered, smoke rising from his shirt, but gritted his too-sharp teeth and didn't fall. If anything, he looked more pissed off than injured.

 

In no mood to give up the offensive, Starlight shouted "Shrike, move!" Clapping her fists together, she unleashed a beam of brilliant white light, which swept across the room with savage speed, striking the entire band and carving a jagged gash in the drywall. Three of the bandmembers struck by the beam were instantly blasted apart into dust - the one who had gone to get Gretchen's drink only hissed as it singed her skin. Card himself didn't fare as well - the beam sent him reeling back into to slam hard into the wall. "What is this?!" he roared, his teeth now fully extended into bone-white fangs. "Did you trick me, little bird?!"

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