A plot bunny bit me. Don't worry I haven't given up on Never say Goodbye, but Jazz wont stop hounding me till I write this chapter. That's right this is AU with Jazz and lots of OC's, Jazzy lives and the sparks of Mission city are lost sparklings. So remember to read and review!
Nicole's day started out like any other. It sucked for various reasons. She had woken up early that morning from a call on her cell, the club that had booked her was cancelling last minute and were also refusing to pay the cancellation fee she had in place. Which really didn't help the sore neck she had that quickly evolved into the mother of all migraines. She forced herself to leave her cheap hotel room, braving the sun and noise of Mission City armed with nothing but her purse and jacket. To top it all off she was hit on (again) by the ugly sleaze hanging around on the second floor before she could escape out the front door.
That gig was the whole reason she had traveled to Mission-freaking-City in the first place. Spending precious time and money to get herself and her DJ equipment from San Francisco, on a bus she might add, to get a chance at mixing in Mission Cities hottest club, The Nova. It could be the one gig to make her mark as a DJ, and now they were cancelling on her. All this before her expensive morning crap coffee she bought from the vendor down the street. Nicole choked down the bitter sludge, if only because she knew she would need her energy to argue her case to the manager of Nova.
"Stupid stinking upstart just waltzes in and thinks he can sweep this opportunity from me, just because he has better equipment? First, I'm gunna rip the manager a new one and then I'll use the head of that DJ wannabe for a soccer ball." Nicole muttered angrily under her breath.
She tossed her styrofoam cup into a nearby trash can, pushed up her glasses, sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. She stopped when her reflection caught her eye in a nearby store window. Her shoulder length, bright blue hair was growing out, revealing the black it naturally was. She didn't have the money to pay her rent let alone have it touched up. Her natural waves and curls were limp with neglect and her face was pale from lack of sleep, making her freckles standout. All-in-all she looked like a punk in a worn-out bomber jacket and ripped jeans. Despite her drained appearance and exhaustion she gave her reflection a tired smile and continued down the street.
As hard and as different as this kind of living was from the way she grew up, Nicole wouldn't sacrifice it for anything. She had moved out the moment she had turned eighteen and had been making a living as a DJ for hire for just over a year now. Now if she could just make enough money so she could pay her rent she'd be set, because there was no way she was ever setting foot in her parent's house ever again. The Nova was a long way away from where Nicole's dumpy hotel was, the quickest way there was through the downtown area. She didn't have the money for cab fare so the only option was to make the arduous walk through the crowded streets.
It was almost noon when she finally made it to Nova and from the looks from the outside the darkly colored building seemed deserted. Nicole knew there was likely to be someone around, and she was more then willing to wait all day if necessary to speak to the manager. She pounded on the door with a fist, not even pausing long enough to listen for a response. It took a minute or two but the door was at last unlocked and opened by who looked like a janitor.
"Is the manager in?" She said politely. Might as well be nice to the guy letting her in.
"Ya, Dave's in the back finishin' some paper work. What'd ya need?" He asked gruffly while scratching his unshaven chin.
Nicole could tell by the older man's tone and body language that he wasn't feeling very inclined to let her in. Time to pour on the charm. If there was one thing she had learned from her parents it was how to influence people's perceptions and control their reactions. It was as easy as faking a smile and twisting your words, as simple as putting on a mask. So she tucked her chin and peeped at him over the rim of her glasses, being sure to give him an eyeful of her own innocent green orbs. This routine was so well rehearsed she hardly even had to try.
"Would you be kind enough to let me see him, sir?"
Her guiltless impression and pretty smile seemed to throw the man off balance for a second. He obviously was caught off guard, but the look succeeded in softening him up enough to let her in.
"Thanks." She beamed at him as she side-stepped through the doorway.
Unlike when the club was open the space was brightly lit, showing the small flaws that were normally hidden in the darkness. The black floors were heavily scuffed and dirty from numerous high heels, the mirrors that lined the walls were covered in handprints and had small cracks around the edges. There was still trash and alcohol spills all over the floor and the elevated bar, but over all it still looked pretty fancy. The bar had a large display of fancy glasses and expensive spirits in colorful bottles. There was also an elevated VIP section and small stage for the DJ. Speaking of which…
"Dave's in the office in the back behind the bar. Did ya need me to show you where it is?"
"No thank you. I can find my way from here." Nicole gave a false but bright smile and the man shrugged and got back to his work.
Nicole made her way across the dance floor and behind the bar to the afore-mentioned door. She dropped her smile and steeled her will, switching masks. Then she knocked twice and entered without waiting for an answer. In contrast to the dance floor the small office was fairly spartan in it's decor. Simple pale walls and functional furniture, there wasn't even a spare chair for visitors or a picture frame on the walls. The manager looked up from the piles of paper on his desk and opened his mouth to comment on her entrance, but then shut his mouth and looked her over once again. Nicole returned the favor and visually weighed the tall, thin man sitting in front of her.
He wasn't very young, but wasn't so old he didn't know how to keep a club fresh and successful for several years. He looked to be around his early to late thirties and dressed in a crisp gray suit with a red clip-on tie. He had a thin face with dark combed back hair and shrewd calculating eyes. Nicole fought off the urge to fidget under the man's heavy gaze and stood straight and tall, glaring back at him over his desk. She knew better then to assume she was going to get anywhere by batting her eyelashes at this guy. This man was in the business for the money, so the best way to deal with him was to not show any weakness and let him know she was not to be trifled with. Yet another necessary mask that was well used and rehearsed.
"You must be , owner and manager of this establishment?"
It was an unnecessary question, she knew who he was, but he was also the man who had called her this morning and told her that her gig was cancelled. He was already in the negatives area in her good book. The man straightened and half rose out of his chair with his arm extended to shake hands with her.
"Please call me David, or Dave if you prefer. You must be Nicole Shultz, or do you prefer your stage name? The 'Bluejay' I believe you're called, yes?" Even his voice sounded leery but Nicole wasn't about to let him get any kind of upper hand on her. She ignored his offered hand, folded her arms over her chest and schooled her glare to be distant and cold.
"Nicole is just fine, thank you. I believe you know why I'm here." She said tersely.
The man dropped his arm and friendly pretenses before sitting tall in his chair once again. Nicole, by both refusing to shake his hand and making sure he called her by her name, was making a statement. She was saying in a subtle way that they were here on her terms, not his. A subconscious social dominance that she was so far winning despite the fact she was on his turf, and it made him uncomfortable. Yet another lesson she had been taught from her parents.
"I believe I know why you are here Miss Nicole, but as I told you on the phone this morning there is nothing I can do. My club is the most popular in Mission City and we only hire the best of the best here at The Nova."
"And I am one of the best!" Nicole declared heatedly before molding her expression back into one of cool detachment, only her eyes expressed her anger. However the slip in her mask had cost her. David was feeling a little more in control now and gave off a sigh.
"You are good, I'll give you that much. However a DJ we know to be successful stepped forward after we contacted you. This DJ is promising and has already shown good work at a number of other clubs here in Mission City."
"What about my cancellation fee? I didn't spend so much money just to walk away with nothing but a 'sorry maybe next time'. We had a contract-" She was interrupted by a dismissive wave of Dave's hand.
"We had no contract, we had a verbal agreement over the phone because sending any papers would have taken too long. Something you would be hard pressed to provide any evidence of ever having taken place. Besides, a young business woman like yourself should have been better prepared for any fallout from an endeavor like this. Or did you not fully calculate the risks of this little venture of yours?" He asked with a cold glitter in his dark eyes and a tilt of his head.
Her silence condemned her more then any words would have, and worse any defense she raised would only seem like an excuse. She had taken a risk to come here, now she was even further away from paying her rent which was due in two weeks time. Nicole was frustrated. He had her painted into a corner and they both knew it, it was seeming less and less likely she was going back home with her rent money. Despite her mounting irritation she remained neutral with her arms loosely crossed and hands relaxed.
"Who is this supposed 'promising' DJ? Some jock with a second-hand turn table and an ego trip? Who are you to say that his music is any better then mine?" Nicole scoffed.
"He is actually a she, and I can assure you all my turn tables are new and of top quality." A bright voice said as the door to the office opened.
The door swung fully open to reveal a blue-eyed, tall and willowy blonde about the same as Nicole. Her hair was long and elaborately curled, her high heels making her already tall figure tower over Nicole's height of five foot nothing. Her clothes were an expensive brand name, highlighted with expensive accessories and jewellery. seemed pleased to see the blonde.
"Ah, right on time. Miss Nicole this is Madison Wood. Miss Wood is the DJ we have presently booked, she comes highly recommended by several clubs. And her father is a good friend of mine. Miss Wood this is Miss Nicole. The DJ was had been considering until you came along."
"Please Dave, call me by my stage name Phoenix." Madison gave a tinkling laugh before turning her attention to Nicole.
"You must be Bluejay. I can't say I've had the pleasure of hearing any of your music, perhaps next time you're in Mission City we can get together." Madison said with just a suggestion of insincerity.
"Call me Nicole." Nicole said curtly. An idea came suddenly to Nicole's mind, it was risky but if it worked she would have a gig in the Nova and enough rent for a few months.
"Why wait until next time to hear my music? The Nova only hires the best of the best, so why don't we see just who that is?"
Madison narrowed her eyes suspiciously, while seemed to straighten and focus his attention more on the conversation and less on his paperwork.
"What are you suggesting?" David asked with hands steepled in front of his face.
"I'm suggesting a DJ battle. Three rounds, two minutes each and the crowd decides who the best is. The winner is the one who gets paid. Just think of the publicity, the Nova's first DJ battle and it's Mission Cities Phoenix vs. The Bluejay. Of course you need some time to get the word out and generate peoples interest so why don't we have it in say, a week from now?"
Madison seem stunned at the sudden turn of events, she stood there with her mouth hanging slightly open. Meanwhile David wasn't disguising the fact he was highly interested in the offer, he was after all getting both publicity and two DJ's for the price of one. He half stood again and extended his hand for Nicole to shake. Nicole quickly grasped and then released his palm resisting the urge to get the hand sanitizer out of her purse.
"Deal. One week from now The Phoenix and The Bluejay will determine who is the better DJ." David seemed pleased with the outcome of this meeting.
Madison stepped forward, her brows furrowed and her mouth open to protest. Nicole quickly cut her off before she could say a word.
"Of course if 'The Phoenix' is too afraid to crash and burn then I would be more then happy to take her place." Nicole implied innocently.
If looks could kill Nicole would have found herself six feet under, but even so Madison's mouth closed with a snap. Madison flipped her hair and ignored Nicole while meeting David's gaze and nodding stiffly. David gave a sleazy grin and clapped his hands, producing the necessary paperwork seemingly from thin air. Once she had signed Nicole quickly excused herself and exited the office, getting away from the poisonous glares she could feel in her back.
The second she closed the office behind her Nicole could hear Madison begin raging to for putting her on the spot like that. David sounded like he really didn't much care what she thought, he was making money no matter what happened. Nicole saw herself out of the building and back into the busy Mission City streets feeling very pleased with herself. All she had to do now was make some winning mixes before next week. Nicole couldn't afford to lose, or she would find herself out of money and on the street.
Nicole did some calculations in her head for her savings and expenses. Going back home to San Francisco until the DJ battle was out of the question. Getting her equipment back and forth would drain her remaining savings to almost zero, it was cheaper to stay in her dumpy hotel room and wait a week. Nicole's attention was suddenly grabbed when she heard a plane pass by close over head. She stopped in her tracks and craned her neck to see a military jet flying low between the buildings.
'What's a jet doing in the city?' Nicole wondered to herself as she brought her attention to back to the street around her.
Just down the road seemed to be some kind of disturbance, a line of military vehicles and some fancy looking custom cars were blocking the road. They were about fifty yards away up the street and as she watched the soldiers popped green smoke flares. The crowd seemed unsure what to think of what was going on. Was it a movie scene, or some kind of demonstration?
Nicole was to far away to see what initially started the panic in the crowd because she was quickly shoved aside by the screaming and running crowd. Her brain couldn't seem to make sense of what was going on, all she saw was a Ferbie truck inexplicably standing before she was shoved to the ground by an explosion. Time seemed to speed up and slow down at the same time as stone, fire and shrapnel flew through the air. Nicole's head met the concrete with a resounding crack and for several moments all she could do was lay still. She could hardly hear the sound of people screaming over the ringing in her ears. All thoughts of how important it was she pay for her rent seemed very small and silly now.
Stunned and surprised Nicole slowly propped herself up and tried to make sense of what was going on around her. At first she thought that perhaps she had hit her head too hard or that she was dreaming, because those couldn't really be giant robots could they? The closest robot was a yellow bot that seemed to have been injured in the blast. It was still a ways away but it was easy to see that the robot's legs were missing, and though it made no recognizable words the sounds it was making were obviously ones of pain. Nicole's brain swam with random and disconnected thoughts. A part of her was yelling to get up and run, while another part was wondering why a robot could feel pain.
Her thoughts were quickly interrupted by another booming sound behind her and another explosion nearby destroying even more architecture. Nicole painfully got to her feet staying close to the nearby wall and looked around for the new danger, which came in the form of some kind of tank rolling down the street. It was a massive piece of machinery that lurched forward, crushing cars and anyone foolish enough to get in its way. Nicole wasn't sure which way to go, there were giant robots behind her and a killer tank in front of her. She spotted a side ally and limped her way to it while keeping an eye on what was happening behind her.
The soldiers and three fancy custom cars; a GMC topkick, a search-and-rescue ambulance, and a Solstice all charged the tank. Nicole ducked around a street corner when she saw the cars change into robots and proceed to flip and fire massive guns at the tank. The sound of gunfire and screams in the street behind her were deafening. Nicole only managed to go about several feet down the side street before she had to stop. Even with the massive amount of adrenaline in her system her injuries wouldn't let her go too far. The worst pain was coming from her head, while her ribs and right leg came at a close second. Nicole clutched her skull, only feeling the warm wetness that coated her bright hair and now her hands.
'Why are robots fighting in Mission City?' Nicole wondered. It was a very good question but one that can be answered after she found somewhere safe.
Something massive and silver flew over her head and brought down a nearby fire escape, she instinctively hit the dirt. Her injuries screamed at her but her attention was more focused on the silver robot that had just flown down from the sky. Nicole froze as she looked up and saw the metal giant in front of her. The monster was at least forty feet tall and seemed to be made of sharp, jagged, metal. Her breath caught in her chest and she felt like her heart might burst from fear as it turned around with a growl.
Nicole could feel the menace and see the desire to kill in it's bright red eyes and cruelly clawed hands. Though it paid her less attention she would an ant, and despite the pain she felt in her leg she ran from that ally as fast as she could. The street was destroyed and some of the robots from before were still there but Nicole simply put her head down and ran faster. Screams rang out as the monster emerged from the ally behind her.
"It's Megatron! Retreat! Fall back!" A loud voice called out.
Nicole ran for her life, heedless of the pain in her leg and head she blindly dashed through the city. She didn't look back so she didn't see how her life and many others were saved by a smaller silver robot with a blue visor, who stood his ground to give others time to retreat. She didn't see that same smaller robot get picked up by the monster and carried away. How much time passed that she ran in a sightless panic she couldn't say. Later, Nicole would only remember the smell of smoke and the feeling of blinding terror as she ran through the city. She would have run for hours until she was out of the city, but when she rounded a corner and saw the monster her fear paralyzed her once more.
The monster stood atop a building, surveying the chaos and destruction around it with what looked like the body of another robot in its hands. The monster suddenly shouted and tossed the body before changing and flying off into the air, where it flew off to Nicole didn't know. Nicole screamed and ducked as the upper half of the robots body crashed into the wall behind her and nearly crushed her. She scrambled to get away but froze when her eyes met with a flickering blue visor.
Strange pink and blue liquid pooled around the silver robots missing lower half while sparks fired from torn wires. The visor flickered again and the robots arms twitched, as if trying to get up and move. Static and a small cry of pain escaped from where she thought its 'mouth' might be, before its visor went dark and it went limp once more. For a minute she hardly breathed, but the robot didn't move again. Nicole shakily got to her feet and began to stumble away when a sliver of light in the robots chest caught her eye. It may have been the concussion talking, but for some reason Nicole felt compelled to see where that light was coming from.
Cautiously, Nicole inched toward the robot ready to jump back at ant time should it suddenly move again. The bright light in its chest wavered and dimmed but didn't quite go out. She circumnavigated around the strange blue fluids and approached the robots chest. The damage ran deep into the robots chest, torn wires, dripping tubes and twisted metal making a macabre sight. The glow seemed to be coming from the deepest part of its chest, from a round chamber-like part approximately where a heart on a human would be.
'What is that?' Nicole wondered.
The chamber had a large crack, which let the light leak out. Though she could only see a small sliver of the blue-white light what she could see was beautiful. The light wavered and dimmed once more, almost going out before flaring weakly. For some unknown reason the thought of that light forever extinguishing struck something within her and she reached a tentative hand out, as if to keep it from going out. What she didn't expect was for the light to reach back.
The moment Nicole came within reach a tendril lashed out and latched onto her right arm. Nicole tried to pull away, to scream, to do something but it was as if a current of powerful electricity was coursing through her body. Every muscle in her body clenched at once jerking her body on invisible strings, the current traveled up her arm and gathered in her head. For a moment she thought she felt a presence of something 'other' in her mind, but it was quickly overshadowed by pain. Nicole's sight went black as the pain became to much for her to handle, stars popped in her vision as the tendril finally released her.
Completely boneless she dropped to the ground, cracking her skull once more on the unforgiving pavement and succumbing to unconsciousness. In the black of nothingness Nicole didn't see many of the important things happening around her. She didn't see that the light in the robots chest was now gone, or the battle between the silver monster and a blue eyed giant. She didn't see a boy running for his life with a cube in his arms, a cube that accidentally brought life to the machines around it.
And no one saw the newly sparked SUV open its doors letting out three screaming girls and drive away, weaving between the piles of rubble and disappearing. No one noticed the girls drop their now alive phones in their panic. No one saw those three phones huddle together under a collapsed concrete pillar, confused and scared of the gunfire and screams, they didn't know where to go. No one spotted three phones scurrying away from the fighting as fast as their tiny metal legs would carry them. And no one noticed when those three phones took refuge in Nicole's purse.
So after the boy had pushed the cube into the monsters chest and watched them both burn, the battle was finished. Nicole, still unconscious, never noticed the three phones keen as they felt the loss of the artifact that gave them life. Or when the body of the silver robot was taken away by a black giant. Leaving her to be taken to the hospital hours later by rescue workers, purse still slung over her torso and three strange new phones nestled in the bottom.
Ahh! Glad I got that out of my system. So let me know if it's junk or not by reviewing!