This is the complete Acid Chamber arc. Just a head’s up it is long compared to a normal Puddles and Whiskers post of mine, consisting of seven parts. Enjoy. 🙂
Not So Much Work
Looking over Acid Chamber’s itinerary and ever expanding list of roadies, hanger-ons, and media people Whiskers suppressed a shudder. Ding. Another update to the list of people. Two button pushes later, Chuck acknowledged receipt of the updated list. Sitting on her side of the shared desk, Puddles tossed her earphones onto her pile of “work.”
“You call that music?”
“Better get used to that music, we are expected to attend the concert,” Whiskers flipped the tablet to show her the concert passes.
“That is not enough time to get the noise canceling ear pieces,” Puddles sarcastically replied.
Taking a long drink from his Acid Chamber concert cup, “We should head over there to plan security.”
“Security for what? A bunch of drunks and…look at her,” pulling a half-nude image of a korogin woman flashing more than smile, “and this one,” another more exposed view of a human woman, “or this one,” three cymean males wearing questionable winter gear but willing smiles. “Seriously, these are the crazed fans?”
“Acid Chamber concerts get crazy,” Whiskers mumbled.
“Yeah, I bet.”
More Work Than Expected
“Duck Chuck!” Puddles shouted, dodging a poorly thrown punch from an Acid Chamber fan in the bar.
Chuck ducked, fell on his rear, and began to back pedal away from the fight as a chair thrown from somewhere sailed overhead. Back against a wall, Chuck kneeled and took in the scene. Puddles fighting against at three different fans, all wearing Acid Chamber faux leather jackets with concert dates on the back. She kicked one in the knee, then slammed his head against the bar and took a punch to the chest from another fan for her efforts.
She was fine, Chuck thought. Looking for the clients, a large fan fell onto him causing both of them to stumble. A third fan jumped onto both of them swinging wildly, clipping Chuck across his left ear. A bottle or glass shattered near his head splashing all of them in drink and glass. Everyone rolled off Chuck. Taking a breath, he stood up and began kicking both of them in the ribs.
“What is wrong with you people!”
Puddles rolled with the punch to her face, snapping a quick chop to the punchers neck, following quickly with a knee to the ribs to another fan. How many fans were in this bar, she wondered for a second, before dodging down the bar? Where was Whiskers?
“I see what you mean,” Whiskers replied to Onhomgha or Blaster, lead singer of Acid Chamber.
“Just another night out with Acid Chamber,” he shouted.
Glancing at his watch, Whisker said, “Perhaps we should get you out of here. Your car has arrived.”
“No way! I want to see what you guys can do for me,” Onhomgha replied eyes on Puddles and Chuck.
“I see. Stay here,” Whisker commanded.
“Get ‘em Chuck!” Puddles yelled.
Leaping off a table, Chuck landed on top of two fans dropping both them to the floor. Rolling off them, Chuck snapped off a sharp kick to the face of one fan, knocking him out. The other fan stood up at the same time Chuck stood. Flexing his arms the fan took a well-known gromathi fighting stance.
“Had some training?” Chuck asked sarcastically, “Don’t throw the ni-ghar and follow with a spinning sutohat.”
A brief flash of confusion on the fan’s face, Chuck struck, punching the fan square in the nose. The fan’s nose exploded in a crunch of bone and splatter of blood. Instead of falling over the fan looked down Chuck’s extended arm with pure rage; with a single step, the fan picked Chuck over his head.
Leaning against the bar, the last of her fans out cold under her feet, wiping blood off her fur with a towel, Puddles shouted with a laugh, “What are you doing Chuck?”
Stepping up to the fan’s back, Whiskers jammed the stun rod into the fan’s ribs and held the button down. As expected, the fan fell down, Chuck landing on top of him. Rolling off the fan, Chuck gave him two kicks to the ribs before looking around.
“That is how we handle things,” Whiskers said to Blaster.
“Not bad. Night is still young, let’s go.”
Pointing with the neon orange chopsticks over his bowl of noodles, Chuck said, “How do you know?”
“Pointing with chopsticks is bad luck,” Susan Arco, Acid Chamber’s manager said.
Shrugging, “Given my luck I’ll take bad.”
“Be careful what you wish for,” she said with a dazzling smile. “These are the individuals we have had issues with before,” she said sliding her tablet across the yellow and pink neon table.
A rotating holo of a korogin woman appeared. Pulling the tablet closer with one paw and taking another long slurp of noodles, Chuck read the data. Tsal-or, wageslave for Brookshine Legal, self-professed number one fan of Acid Chamber especially the lead singer. Legally Tsal-or was their number one crazed fan, several break-ins, typically found in some state of undress in someone’s room and when confronted tended towards breaking things.
Chuck tapped the screen, the holo changed to two identical faces. Making an appreciative noise, “Orin fans?”
“We get all kinds, these two are trouble.”
“Read on,” she said.
“Ebon and Ivory, seriously?”
“Read,” Susan said deadpan.
Orin, twins like all Orin, children from a wealthy family they paid to have their skin altered to match Acid Chamber’s number one hit, Ebon and Ivory, from several years ago. Chuck watched a short vid of the twins “dancing,” which consisted of them punching and kicking people nearby while their skin flickered and flashed to the beat of the music. Lyrics from Acid Chamber songs randomly appeared on their skin as well. Kicked out of numerous concerts for violence and inciting violence and arrested three times for fighting members of Acid Chamber or individuals working for Acid Chamber.
“Okay, so they are uber-fans. We can handle them.”
Tapping the screen again, the angry, screaming face, of a korogin woman greeted him. Knowing the answer, Chuck read. Aka-hallar, mother to recently deceased Ka-hallar, daughter who died during a recent concert. Chuck watched another vid of Aka-hallar screaming in rage blaming Acid Chamber for her daughter’s death and vowing to make them pay. Chuck looked up.
“Still think you can handle this.”
Another Night Out…
“Why are we doing this again?” Puddles whispered to Whiskers.
Sitting across from Whiskers in the limousine, Chuck made his “what” face; good ear cocked to the side and eyes wide open complete with “what” gesture with his paws. Puddles waved him off and returned her attention to Whiskers sitting next to Blaster their heads bobbing along with the extremely loud. When Whiskers did not respond, Puddles grabbed his arm and shook.
“What is that about?” She hissed, inching closer to angry.
“I heard you the first time. I was ignoring your question because the answer is obvious. We were hired…”
“To watch them. Watch!” Puddles shouted over the music.
“And we are,” Whiskers replied with a wink.
“I don’t call bar fights night after night watching!”
Whiskers ignored her resuming bobbing his head to the music. Frustrated and furious, Puddles slammed back into her seat and pulled out her phone. Chuck, looked concerned, again she waved him off. A few swipes and a click, new frying pan ordered. That made her feel a tiny bit better…still, looking around the limousine she only saw trouble. Paying trouble, but trouble that they could handle in a different manner. She hopped over to sit next to Chuck.
“Everything okay?” He asked.
“Fine,” she replied shooting a glare at an oblivious Whisker, “Are we set?”
“Is security in place? I don’t want another bar scene.”
“No, we are not set. I haven’t had time to set up security. We are always out with these two.” Concern and irritation written across Chuck’s face.
“I know,” Puddles sighed. “Can you do that tonight?”
“When? I’m in here,” Chuck gestured at everyone.
“Next stop, get out, and get security established. I saw the same files you did…”
“Trouble,” Chuck finished.
A short time later the flying limousine came to a stop, passenger doors opened automatically, neon light flooded the darkened passenger space, followed closely by music even louder than inside the car. Whiskers exited valet parking lane side, standing near the limousine door looking for trouble. Puddles and Chuck exited curbside finding themselves surrounded by dozens of nude dancing holos welcoming all inside to the garish front door of the Glassland Exotic Club. Chuck stared, all around him flying exotic hover vehicles, shining lights, neon, and best of all no Cloud, for a brief moment Chuck was happy to be among the elites. Puddles sighed and shook her head.
“This is the place!” Blaster shouted as he exited.
The rest of the band and their hanger-ons exited the limousine on both sides forming a loose group outside the front door. Some of them continued to drink, most of them made lewd comments to or about the nude holos, and all of them waited for some direction.
“Lets go tear this place up!” someone shouted.
As one mob the group entered Glassland Exotic Club.
After the last hanger-on entered, Puddles turned to Chuck, “Get to work. Contact me when you have security in place and make sure a team arrives here within the hour.”
For a second Chuck looked surprised at Puddles.
“This is a new you is all,” Chuck began, “I like it.”
“Don’t get used to it,” Puddles replied grabbing Whiskers as he walked past, “This is still HIS job.”
“Get your head out of your inshall,” Puddles hissed at Whiskers, “We have work to do. Chuck is leaving to speak with security. I am NOT going in there. I will be around.”
“Everything is under control,” Whisker replied.
“No, not at all,” Puddles responded irritatedly. “You go in there and watch. We will work out here.”
Whisker stared at both of them. Chuck broke eye contact first, summoning a taxi back to the concert venue making a call to Acid Chamber’s security. Puddles gave Whiskers a last look before crossing the elevated street to the other side, “Go on watch.”
Puddles watched Chuck’s taxi fly off. Upper Stroud was too rich, too much for her tastes. Everything shiny, new, brightly lit, and the people too well dressed, behaved, except for Acid Chamber’s mob, for her. Being above the Cloud was interesting, but not something she aspired too and given how expensive a cup of coffee was she would never be here. By the time Puddles sat down at a window seat in the mostly empty all night coffee bar Whiskers had entered Glassland.
Despite the loud music that caused him to fold his ears. Despite the drinks. Despite the nude and semi-nude dancers of all species all around him, Whiskers fumed. He never relaxed, always on the job, and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to protect his favorite band. No, he mentally corrected himself, not protect watch for danger. Puddles accusation that he was not on the job got under his fur more than he wanted to admit. Being near Acid Chamber was a bonus, not his goal, he thought angrily. How many times had Puddles caused trouble on a job?
Seductively walking towards his table, her tail waving in come-hither manner, her yellow and brown fur sparkling from glitter, a cat dancer approached him, interrupting his fuming. Gently he pushed the dancer away from the table, he sat at alone; see, he thought, I am on the job. He did take a moment to watch her walk away, sometimes the job sucked, he thought.
From his seat at the back of Glassland, he watched Blaster and his entourage behave like animals. Most of the wealthy patrons left after Trukk, a “friend” of Blasters’, hopped on stage and announced the “take over by Acid Chamber.” Sensing an opportunity, Glassland’s manager closed the doors and made tonight all about Acid Chamber. Whiskers laughed at the memory of the first dancer trying to dance to Acid Chamber, she gave up and threw her tiny costume at the band in exchange for an influx of isstas. Another crash, more breaking glass, more laughter, more Acid Chamber at bone rattling levels, and the shine of being around them wore thin.
From her seat at Golden Caffine, Puddles watched the front door of the club, the holos continued to dance, their formerly smooth motions jerky, almost spastic, as they attempted to move to Acid Chamber blaring from the external speakers. The open sign changed to closed for private party. Picking at her muffin and sipping her coffee, Puddles waited to hear from Chuck or for trouble.
In the cacophony of noise, Whiskers missed the first sign of trouble and the second and third. To him, everyone looked like they were drinking, dancing, singing, and fighting. Fighting? Standing to get a better view of the club, Whiskers could not tell if they were dancing to Acid Chamber or fighting, the difference between the two more subtle than expected. When two bouncers jumping off the stage and more bouncers rushed towards the confrontation Whiskers knew the problem was a fight.
Pushing through the cluster of dancers and drunk hanger-ons, Whiskers came face to face with a very angry and very large human bouncer. One chromed hand held the bassist off the floor and the bouncer’s other chrome hand jackhammered the bassist’s face. Without thinking, Whisker snapped a kick at the back of the bouncer’s knee. Whiskers instantly regretted not thinking when his foot struck hard against what probably was a chromed leg. The bouncer unmoved by the kick continued to pummel the bassist. One last punch snapped the bassist’s head back and the bouncer dropped him to the floor.
When the security team arrived outside Glassland Puddles was waiting outside sipping the last of her coffee. Glancing at her watch, she mentally noted to give Chuck a bonus for the fast work. A six-man security team exited the truck and waited for direction.
Inside the club, Whiskers shoved another table into the bouncer’s path, while ducking another powerful punch. Whiskers backed into a knot of people fighting and took a powerful punch to the ribs when he glanced away. Fumbling for his stun stick, Whisker took another punch that knocked him to his knees, the stun stick out of his hand, and then down to the ground when the knot of people fighting fell on top of him.
Another glance at her watch surprised Puddles, all this time and no trouble, maybe this would be a quiet assignment after all. Glassland’s front doors crashed open, an Acid Chamber song blasting from inside, the jerky holos instantly vanished, as the first of Acid Chamber’s entourage landed on the ground. The security team looked at Puddles for direction she waved them off; in ones and twos bouncers forcefully ejected members of the band and their entourage from the club. Landing simultaneously on top of the pile, Whiskers and Blaster.
Concertgoers packed together, no room to move, breathing as one just to breathe. The noise level deafening and the concert had not started, just the noise of that many people in one enclosed space. Whiskers, standing on the right side of the stage wearing sound dampening earplugs folder his ears down to muffle the noise more. Excited to witness one of his favorite bands, Whiskers strained to keep from bouncing up and down with excitement and to pay attention to the sea of faces in front of the stage.
A week of listening to practice and borrowing a few of Whiskers’ Acid Chamber favorites and Puddles still did not get his obsession with this band or their music. If the noise they made could be called music. From his vantage point backstage Puddles watched the last few roadies on their watch list. Titanic and his crew worked feverishly to get the final details ready for the show; unlikely to cause trouble, but Puddles job was to ensure they did not, so he continued to watch.
Crushed against a barrier in front of the stage, elbowing to overly enthusiastic fans in the ribs, Chuck wondered if he really did get the best part of the job. He brought in the data on everyone working for Acid Chamber, assisted in tracking down the few trouble spots, set-up security for the concerts, and all he wanted was the best part of the job; work from the concert floor. Another elbow to clear some breathing room.
A low thrum, felt more than heard, seconds before the lights in the hall went out, the crowd silenced. In the silence, the low thrum heard and felt, slowly ramping up in volume and intensity. Backstage roadies and stagehands moved to ready positions, Acid Chamber assembled, and Whiskers nearly bounced out of his fur with excitement. Puddles moved to another, quieter vantage point backstage, able to see the roadies and stage. Chuck stomped on a foot, elbowed a rib for breathing room, while keeping his eyes on where the stage was in the dark.
Backstage, Acid Chamber in all black, moved onstage.
On stage, Acid Chamber silently took their positions and began the opening notes to their number one quadstomp song, Anthem for the Dying.
To the right of the stage, Whiskers swayed with the opening notes, hoping nothing ruined the concert.
In front of the stage, the crowd surged forward, Chuck eyes still on stage, made room as best he could. Two pin-prinks of green light bobbed and flowed in the dark across the stage, appearing and disappearing to the beat. The opening notes reached the high point and crashed down creating a wave of sound, stage lights illuminated the Acid Chamber playing their instruments, the holo-green flames on each of their outfits dancing in rhythm. The lead singer, green augmented eyes blazing roared out the lyrics over the roar of the crowd.
Two hours of non-stop music and Puddles had reached her limit, even with noise canceling ear plugs, her ears folded flat, and in a quieter vantage point, the noise reached her and irritated her. Titanic and his crew did their job without any incident. Whiskers spent the entire time enjoying himself, feeling the music move his fur and feet. Chuck, stopped fighting the crowd and moved with the crowd, exhausted he found a place to sit and drink water after most of the crowd exited the concert.
“Does the ringing ever stop?” Whiskers head in paws mumbled to the table.
Chuck slid further down in his chair, pulling his sweat soaked shirt off his chest, “The cool breeze feels great.”
“What?” Whiskers asked.
Puddles flicked one of the earplugs across the room, smiling when the plug bounced off one of the hanger-ons and into a can of alcohol. Fighting exhaustion and a deep desire to be anywhere else but at the after party, Puddles satisfied herself with the knowledge that Acid Chamber was leaving soon.
Nudging Whiskers, “How much longer do we have to stay?”
“How MUCH LONGER DO WE…”
“My ears are ringing, I’m not deaf,” Whiskers shot back.
Rubbing his stomach, “Anyone else starving?” Chuck asked.
“Great job tonight!” Blaster shouted.
Whiskers sat straight, Chuck stopped fanning his shirt, and Puddles glared at Blaster and his lead bassist holding large bottles of beer standing next to the table. A korogin woman grabbed the bassist by the arm and pulling him back to the party. Blaster sat down.
Shoving Whiskers, “Have a good time? I know you did. This was our best time here.”
“Concert was awesome,” Whiskers replied.
“I know. Next time we are in town you are our first call.”
“Thanks,” Puddles sarcastically replied.
Two korogin women approached Blaster, one of them whispering in his ear. Pushing back from the table, “Enjoy the after party,” gesturing at the women, “I have fans to…you know.”
“NiHo’s?” Chuck asked.
Standing up, “We should let Blaster know we are leaving,” Whiskers said.
“Go ahead, I’m with Chuck, food is a necessary thing.”
“I’ll get us a cab,” Chuck said heading to the door.
Half an hour later, comfortably seated at their table, hot bowls of noodles in front of them, one by one each of them let out a sigh.
“After a long night, nothing better than a bowl of NiHo’s,” Chuck announced around a mouthful of noodles.
“What?” Whiskers said hoping the ringing would stop.