Did You Set Us Up?

Log Info

Title: Did You Set Us Up?
Emitter: None
Characters: Amber Liv
NPCs: None
Place: Prieto residence, New York City
Time: 6/10/2010, early morning
Summary: The morning after the Prieto houseguests learn they are being held for ransom, Amber and Liv discuss the situation.

Surrounded by a high stone wall, the Prieto residence is an island to itself. Willows shroud much of the view, while a hedge-maze dominates the west side. Amongst the white marble and the massive windows - some span the length of a room, others multiple stories - the architecture evokes an old-world castle through Hollywood's eyes: balconies, turrets and baroque arches. Inside, that old-world style translates into furniture and filigree, pale, bright and ornate. Everything is hard and polished, every surface showing a faint reflection. And everywhere, there is glasswork, from the immense art-sculpture chandelier to tiny paperweight orbs.

The morning following the dramatic dinner at the Prieto residence, everything remains pale, wan and quiet. Footsteps are muffled, shouts deadened even in the most acoustic spaces. No wildlife made the transition into shadow, which means no chirping birds, no rustling. That said, there's definitely some movement that shouldn't be there, a weird quiver-twitch of the darkness gone as soon as one looks at it directly.
Still dressed in her outfit from the night before - and it doesn't look rumpled - Liv has dropped down at the bottom of the main steps with a cup of hot chocolate. The surface still steams.

Maybe because it's quiet, the sound not carrying the same way, that Liv doesn't at first notice the sound, but rather feels the vibration of an angry superhero. The wall gives with the hole blown out, and through it walks a very bored looking Amber. "Oh yeah!" she shouts, doing her Kool Aid impression. She obviously amusing herself, when she looks around and grumbling. She'd smash the stairs with a heavy footstep if other people didn't need it. But that's when she spies Liv and says, "Oh. Hey."

Liv's head snaps up, blinking rapidly. "Uh …" she comments, glancing up as the chandelier sways precariously with the shuddering of the remaining walls. She breathes out a sigh of relief when it doesn't come crashing down … only to start coughing with the dust. "Hey, Amber," she says, her smile taut and thin. "Listen, I …" About to pelt out words at full speed, she runs out of them. "You okay?" is what she comes up with instead.

Amber looks around and studies the walls and says, "Yeah…" she says softly. "I'm ok, just frustrated, you know? I don't like this whole being trapped of course. But I really don't like the idea of someone thinking just cause I'm a kid they can get away with this." She shakes her head, and says, "The two other guests. They're guards, aren't they?" She looks at Liv and studies her as she is about to answer.

Liv lets out a long breath. "Yeah, I totally … frustrated, I understand. I guess you're not used to being dismissed because of your age, hmm? Because you've been proving yourself so long." By her tone, she's used to being waved off as 'the kid,' both in this house and in general. She bites her lip and nods. "They are. They're Soul Shadows, too."
After a pause, she rushes on, "I am so sorry about this. I had absolutely no idea that Evelyn would ever … that she would even think of this, and that she'd go for my friends of all things."

Amber looks at Liv a moment more, as she watches her, a long pause lingering between them. "Liv…I think of you as a friend. I mean it. You've been someone that comes from a completely different world than I do and I can't even begin to imagine what you must go through in your head sometimes, knowing what your purpose is, your reason for existence." She looks almost sad to say that. "So I have to know. Did you set us up?" She changes position, hands on hips, not heroic, more matter of fact.

Liv flinches and looks down, eyes fixed on the cup. She knocks back a swallow of the hot chocolate as if it's something alcoholic. She looks up with a slight quiver in her jaw, but the words are steady. "No," she says. "I didn't set you up. My motives were exactly what I told you: to make the best of the vacation for all of us -" a grimace "- and so I wasn't alone here. Evelyn has a very strong personality, and I was worried the right word or the right pressure and it just would get away from me … but that hasn't happened." Her lips twist in a thinner expression. "Though I realize you have no reason to believe me, really. I mean, I know what she is, but I didn't think kidnapping was in her playbook."

"No…I don't have any reason to believe you." Amber sounds very firm on the matter. "But, like I said, Liv, I think of you as a friend. So I believe you." She reaches over and puts her hand on Liv's shoulder, reassuringly, and offering a small smile. "I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at your mom. And it appears it is, so you're gonna help us, and get into her head for us. Let us know exactly what she IS capable of, and how we combat it." She sits next to Liv and says, "And then you can tell me what Soul Shadows are, so I know how to hit them. Hey, no matter where I hit a shadow, it'll be where the sun don't shine!" She offers a small smile, trying to just relax Liv.

Liv starts at the contact, then offers a wan smile. "Thanks. That means a lot to me. Bad enough she's convinced that on some subliminal level, I wanted to help …" She shudders. "I mean, maybe I should have figured something was off when I saw the other two were here, but Kerry is sort of family."
She leans back on the stair. "You already know about her knack for illusions. She's always been deep into arcane studies, rituals, high sorcery … long-term workings. Beyond that, I mean, she delegated my combat training - Kerry taught me how to shoot, for instance - so I've honestly never seen her trot out a fireball or … what have you."
She chuckles then. "But that means you can hit *me*." At least she's relaxed enough to quip. "Soul Shadow … looks human, but is actually shaped from a specific person's shadow. So we get to look like them - or anyone - and I've never met one who can't diffuse at will, though not every Shadow can affect the physical world while diffuse. I can. So can Kerry."
She makes a face, then. "Light-based attacks hit me regardless, but I can't swear to that for anyone else. It's not like I've gone around aiming spotlights at people."

Amber hmms and says, "S'ok. So…well, nice. Magic and shadows." She looks at Liv and says, "You know I'm only good with my fists, right?" She laughs a little and says, "So while they're solid I can punch one if I have to? I usually don't go all out with a hit when I'm angry at something. I break things." She looks back at the wall behind her and says, "But I guess you know that." Almost blushing, Amber shyly smiles a moment. "So light might hurt the shadows. And you. Sorry I know that." Then she frowns as she tries to think, poorly, "Does your mom have to be here to use her magic, or can she be in the real world?"

Liv spreads her hands helplessly. "Most rituals are sensitive, as far as I can see," she says. "Smash a component hard at the right time and hours of work go like this." She snaps her fingers. "But yeah. No problems hitting a Shadow when they're not phased out. And feel free to break Hunter." A little snarl slips into her voice before she relaxes again. "Well, I never liked that wall, anyhow. But no worries. I'm still not totally discounting you might have to shoot at me, some day." It's disturbingly hard to be sure that's a joke. She frowns. "Pretty sure it works in the real world, unfortunately."

Amber smiles reassuringly, "If I do have to hunt you down, I'll make sure it's the most gentle unconsciousness you've ever had. Like a memory foam punch to the noggin." She thinks a moment…which takes a while, "So, she's probably not around here then, just the dynamic duo of dregs. I'll see if we can't get the two taken out, and find our way out of here." She looks at Liv and pauses again. "How are you, Liv? I mean with all this…what do you do after this is over?"

"Err, thank you, I think," Liv says, obviously not sure if she should laugh or not. "Be careful. They definitely know how to handle themselves, and Hunter, he's … off." She shakes her head. "So you think you can find and bash your way out?" She brightens at the prospect. "Though … your parents would come for you, surely?" Her expression flattens again at the question. "Do? Is there something different I should be doing? I haven't … exactly thought ahead.

Amber nods and says, "If we can't find our way out of here, then yeah, my mom and dad are gonna definitely put the hurting on your mom…I'm sorry to say." She frowns a little at that. "Wow. That's so not something I ever thought I'd tell someone." She sighs and laughs just a little nervously. "Well, ahem, what I mean is…your mom…she's the bad guy. How do you deal with that? I mean…she's the bad guy!" As if that explains it all.

Liv snorts. "That's not exactly something you should apologize for," she says. "Isn't that what your parents do? I'm just concerned that Evelyn's intentions here are to pick up an imprint from their shadows, or Alia's family …" she trails off, regarding Amber with a hint of puzzlement. Then her lips twitch with laughter - not totally healthy laughter, but she can't help it. "Amber, she raised me to kill someone and take their place. And I knew she'd done the same thing. It's not like I … well, yeah, there was a time when I thought that it was justified, or at least permissible, but I've been at school for months now and … it's not like this is new information, it's just different levels of it." She's trying to be flip. Succeeding, largely.

Amber frowns a moment and says, "She does anything to my mom and dad, I will not be as nice." She's pretty firm on that. And as Liv explains, Amber looks at her sadly, with a hint of pity. "So…then you know what she is, what she's capable of…and I'm guessing at this point you don't feel the same way. Or at the very least you don't want to." She looks at Liv with curiosity. "I guess it's the big question for you, isn't it? Whether you end up like her or not."

"Can't blame you there." Liv sets the cup down deliberately on the steps, looking out across the foyer. Still very elegant, except for the … gaping hole in the wall and the plaster dust. "You know, it feels damn good to say it, straight out. I've been telling half-truths for so long because she did raise and protect me, and I thought I owed her at least the loyalty of not selling her out …" She glances up with a grimace. "Yeah, look where what that got us. And I don't want to be like her. I'm not a hundred percent convinced I get a choice, in the end, but I'm going to try." She chuckles, then. "You know, when I first met you, I sort of … felt bad for you, a little. I thought, shit, to be pressured into this hero thing by overbearing parents … took me a bit to believe you really *were* into it."

Amber gives Liv a confident look and says, "If there is any way I can help you…when you get to a point where you think you might /have/ to do something, I'll help you, Liv. It's what I do." She smiles a little more at that, but to Liv's last words she says, "You know, I guess we come from something similar, in having a parent that really is deeply rooted in our lives and what we're doing in the future. But it's more than them for me. I guess I was always taught to be a hero, and I really do love it."

Liv nods once, the gesture tentative - but after a few seconds of silence she says, "Thanks. That helps. Still hope it isn't any time soon, though." She leans back on the stairs. "Yeah, we do … and you have your community and I have mine. Had mine," she amends absently. "I guess that's the thing that nags at me. How you know that something is right for you, and not just because you've been raised for it." She grins wryly. "Not that I'm saying I doubt that you love it. I get it."

Amber smiles, "I think there's an easy answer for that. When you start to doubt it, and question it…it's not right for you anymore." She laughs a little, "I know I'm not a great student or the smartest kid in the school. But you know if what you want to do isn't what you were taught, you have to go someplace else to learn. Me? Yeah, I was taught it…but I believe it. I was taught that I was given a gift to help others. Have you tried doing the heroing thing since you got to school?"

"Except I doubt and question everything," Liv objects with a half smile. "Which is useful in some arenas, maybe, but in others …" She leans forward, planting her elbows on her knees. "When you come down to it, there's no reason most people have powers, though. It's just chance. Genetics. Someone else's ambitions." Ah, the clash of mindsets. She bobs her head. "Yeah, I've been in some scraps. You know she -" a headnod up the stairs, not that there's much doubt who 'she' would be in this case "- tried to get me to commit a crime for her before she'd pay for the costume? I said hell-no and worked it out, though." Back to the original topic, "It's a rush. And it feels good. Except the part where half the time I don't know what the hell I'm doing and I'm sort of anxious I'm going to shoot off a bystander's foot." Her tone is wry.

Amber laughs, "You'll figure that part out. It's not that hard, find bad guy and punch. Rinse, repeat." She grins at Liv with a tilt of her head and moment of quiet. "I don't think I was a result of any ambitions. Just my parents, and I share their gifts. There's no reason some people do and some people don't, sure. And I remember my dad telling me, it's not powers that make you a hero, it's the things you do that makes you special. Good special or bad special…but definitely more than just an average person. I'm sure there are people out there that can use telepathy or super speed, but they're just ding whatever they want, or nothing useful, helping or hurting no one." She offers a brighter smile. "And you got your costume."

Liv snickers. "I think if I punched a guy I might actually make him feel better," she says. "Standing back and blasting from afar for me, thanks. I just have to work on my aim." She nods once. "Oh, I didn't mean to say that it was ambition with your parents, but it is with some people. Then you hear about the crazy scientific experiments and …" she trails off, waving a hand. "Your dad's a wise man. Sure, there might be teleporters who use their powers to pick up their morning coffee fast, but what do they really do?" She grins. "I get to hide under a hood now. It's very me."

Amber grins and says, "I think my Dad knows the business better than I do." She looks around and says, "So…what are we gonna do in here? There's gotta be more than breaking stuff and ruining the furnishings. By the way, you don't have a bed anymore," she says with a teasing wink.

"Hey, give you a couple of decades, and you'll catch up," Liv says. She blinks once, then laughs. "I never liked that thing, anyhow. But yeah, and I imagine if you keep it up, someone's going to object …" She slides off the step. "I want a good look at the perimeter. This place was never meant to function as a prison … keep your eyes peeled, though. Hiding things in plain sight would be just like her." A wave. "Do you mind if I … ?"

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