Career Day

A deathly hush awaited Jacky upon her arrival to the area where she'd been assigned to meet her employer through the GNA (assuming Hyde managed to convince her to go in the first place). The setting was an auditorium, partially dimmed while some general news about meteorology played to a room full of wholly uninterested college students. A large curtain covered the back of the room, where Jacky would find she'd been instructed to go via the address Hyde received with her mission request. A few eyes would turn to her as she entered the room, as, unremarkable though she may appear, she was infinitely more interesting than the day to day work of a meteorologist, not mentioning a documentary about the topic.

Backstage, Jacky would find a misfit bunch of characters. The closest to the entrance was a man in a blue suit wearing thick, white-framed glasses. His black hair was a little thin and possibly getting thinner; sweat was apparent on his forehead and he seemed very focused on his PET, averting his eyes from the two women (?) in the room, who seemed to be glaring straight at him.

One, the more feminine of the two... against all odds... was a skinny girl in a black biker jacket with spiked shoulders, a rare novelty that Jacky had likely never seen before. Her jeans were black, intentionally ripped and faded, and her hair was bright blond, probably dyed, poofing all around her head. in a "styled-not-styled" way. She wore heavy, black eye-make up with darkened lips, giving her a sourer expression even than she otherwise would have had. She held a hot red PET in one hand that clashed with the rest of her outfit a bit; it was making a lot of noise, but she was ignoring it.

The third was just as heavily made up, but to different effect. The third, presumably a woman, had long, purple hair and long eyelashes, with purple lipstick and heavy makeup. Her facial features and dress were both a little masculine, including a purple over-coat and black scarf with black gloves and closed-toed shoes. The auditorium was a bit cool, but nothing necessary to warrant such an ensemble, and thus, she was sweating a bit herself. Her smile was pleasant, but there was no mistaking the irritated look in her eyes as she watched the man in the suit murmur quietly to his navi. No one would see Jacky enter through the darkness, so she'd have the floor to introduce herself, ask what was happening, or perhaps join the crowd and just start silently glaring at the mumbling guy.
Jacky had no trouble finding her way to the auditorium: after all, as a student in the university's medical program, she'd attended events here many times before. She'd gotten some rest and arrived dressed in her usual coat with her hair done up in a ponytail. Beneath her coat, however, she'd worn the slightly baggy, short-sleeved mint green scrubs that formed her usual uniform outside of the lab. She'd brought a clipboard for her own use and a stethoscope, since she was aware physical tools and demonstrations were good tools for keeping attention in speeches. Hyde had filled her in on the basic premise of what the mission entailed... or, at least, a version of it. According to the Navi's description, the event would mostly consist of the Navi and operator helping to demonstrate a doctor's work to a classroom of students.

So far, things were going how Jacky had pictured it.

As she entered the classroom, however, and felt a classroom of eyes on her that ranged from extreme boredom to desperate curiosity, Jacky began to feel as though she was finally reaching the surreal portion of a dream that revealed it to be a nightmare. Only now, when it was too late to really do anything about it, did Jacky consider she'd simply taken the Navi's word about the mission when she'd woken up. In order to avoid delaying things, she'd readied herself quickly and not spared a thought for the details.

But now, there really was no turning back. In spite of eminent danger that hung in the air like a scent, she was compelled by duty to continue forward. "And, after all, you're a responsible operator, in a room with adults and peers. There's no situation Hyde can put into place that you can't defend yourself from, or at least, escape. If you have to, set some ground rules with the others..." Gulping, the operator realized she'd been standing just past the doorway for too long, and finally made her way behind the curtain.

Hyde had done her the courtesy of listing names and occupations beforehand, but, in a rush as she'd been, Jacky wasn't remembering much of it. She could at least place the one man here as the meteorologist, Watershed, and even that was only because his appearance was so plain it could only match the droning monologue playing out around her. That was enough to start an introduction, though...

... And it looked as though she needed to break the ice quickly, because the situation looked far more dire than she'd expected for something as simple as a career day presentation to university students. Was it just because they had to fill the vacancy? Was she late...? "No point in asking questions internally when I can just pose them directly," she told herself, finally stepping forward. "Dr. Watershed, is it? I was filled in on the mission from your Navi, Parka. I'm Jacky, and my Navi is Hyde, a doctor..." She paused to accept any introductions, if they were offered. "If I might ask, what's the current situation? Is there some difficulty? Also... do I need to jack in my Navi?" she asked, hoping she'd get a negative on the final question. Seeing as the Navi was an important part of this mission, she made a point to share the PET with anyone who wanted to take a look (after first taking a look herself, verifying that Hyde had her cloak drawn about her and wasn't performing any rude gestures). With Jacky's slight nervousness and typical dead-serious outlook, she probably wouldn't be bringing any lightheartedness to the apparently frustrated gathering.
The man in the suit looked at first alarmed to hear Jacky's voice, then immensely grateful, once he realized that she wasn't greeting him with cold disdain, as everyone else in the university seemed to be. "Hyde's operator! I'm so glad you came... I feel like I'm dying over here," he began, finally allowing one hand to leave his PET to dab at his forehead with a handkerchief. His voice was very well spoken, but utterly uninteresting; he was definitely the kind of person who'd put on a snoozer of a class. That much had been evident already by the number of people sleeping in the auditorium. "This is nothing short of a crisis that you've walked into..."

"Yeah, the Snorepocalypse," the black-haired woman, presumably Molly, sniffed. "Doc over here put half our audience to sleep and already used one half of our time doin' it. I don't have time for my guitar solo any more and I have no idea what photo-girl was going to demonstrate in the first place, but now, we gotta skud it all. You look like a nurse, so maybe you've saved lives before, but we're on life support NOW, sweetie. If you don't resuscitate this crowd, we're all dead."

The purple haired lady chuckled, moving behind Jacky, almost as if to cut off her path of escape, while placing one hand on her shoulder in a gentle but overly familiar way. The gesture seemed reminiscent of someone else Jacky had met a short time ago. "It's not so dramatic as all that... We'd better fill you in on what's happening, though. You see, our dear Dr. Watershed here is afflicted with running of the mouth, it seems, when it comes to the... acquired taste... of meteorology and its study. He also came armed with the unfortunate misconception that he'd be speaking to a bunch of elementary school kids like he regular teaches... then, furthermore, stuck to his guns once he realized he'd been picturing the wrong age group. What resulted was a thoroughly- excuse my harsh language here- pedestrian run down of a topic that few people care for at all. That's no way to win a crowd. The only reason they're still here, not that all of them are, is because they're bound to attend this seminar if they wish to get a passing grade today. There may not be any stakes here, but you know, as a professional with a stake in presentation, well... I'm a little miffed to be a part of this at all," she giggled, although Jacky got the sense that she was glaring at the doctor over her shoulder. "It's as Molly says, though. There's not time enough for all four of us to make a presentation any more."

"Never seen a bigger waste of a stage in all my years! And I've given my bass guitarist the chance to do a solo before," Molly scoffed. "Listen, Jack-o! You're our only way out of this now. While Dr. Watershed over there was crying into his navi's big, fluffy pillows, Nids and I have come up with a good plan."

"... Nids?" Nidalee repeated incredulously, perhaps now glaring daggers at the guitarist. Jacky probably wouldn't want to risk looking over her shoulder to check.

"Yeah, Nids. Anywho, here's the plan," the dark-clothed girl continued, now moving over to Jacky to cut off her other side and placing a hand on her other free shoulder, so she was now flanked on either side, able to look only at Dr. Watershed's miserable face unless she struggled free. "So, Doc over there gave a presentation that was sooooo boring and sooooo lame that there is a distinct possibility that we can spin it so that everyone thinks it was... y'know, setup. Like, they'll think that we did that on purpose as a joke, cause the latter half will be so exciting! It's gonna be kinda, meta, y'get it?" she offered, perhaps not knowing what that word meant. "I'm thinkin' we pool all our resources to make this next performance really pop. And... dear glorious god of hair-metal, don't you dare go out there and just talk about what your nurse navi does for a living. If you do that, then I think our professional careers are actually going to be in jeapordy, with how much that audience is gonna hate us. We have to make it look like we're in on the joke! Show them that we understand how stupid this whole career day thing was and that it's a launch pad for something, y'know, halfway entertaining."

"Harsh words! But accurate," Nidalee agreed, still not releasing Jacky's shoulder. "But the good news is that you've got every resource at your disposal. We have half the time of the presentation left... Well, it will be a little less than that... And you have the services of the three of us. I would highly, highly advise against letting Dr. Watershed show his face again, of course, and I'm not really sure what he brings to the table, so... maybe just let him talk to his navi a while longer. But I can offer you a full array of costumes as well as cinematographic help, if you need it. They're a little further inside, if you're interested, not that nurse's fatigues don't suit you," she chuckled. "But you might want to wear something a little more like your navi wears, perhaps? Or maybe you have another idea? Whatever the case, I'm here for you," she offered. For a moment, the photographer's hand gently rubbed Jacky's shoulder in a work-inappropriate fashion.

The hand on the other side followed suite, almost as if the two of them were trying to butter her up. "Me, I'm a natural performer! I'll go out there with you if y'want, or I can play music, or whatever else you need. Need some audio? I can help you with vocal projection, or FX, whatever you like! Lighting and all that crap too. I bring my set with me wherever I go," Molly offered; to her credit, it did sound like she was genuinely equipped to help. "Of course, there's one more important piece of the puzzle: your navi! At the very least, we ought to hear what she normally does for a living outta her own mouth. We were thinking that you and our navis might have a lil' pow-wow, figure out whatever you can with all four of your heads buttin' together. Hopefully your navi is a little more creative than Doc's is, though."

"There's no need to jack in," Nidalee offered. "Well, unless your navi thinks of one. We have the technology, if she wants to, and it's connected to all of the auditorium's systems: lights, cameras, projectors, even alarms and sprinklers! I welcome all thoughts. I'm against censorship in all forms, dearie," she chuckled in her overly deep voice. "Let's introduce you to the field... First, here's my navi, PhotoMan. He's a consumate professional, even if he gets a little... carried away in his work some times."

She turned on her projector to reveal a window, containing the face of a male navi clad in gray armor. The armor was fitted with periscoping lenses here and there, which seemed to twist in and out as his lazy-looking eye moved about. His expression seemed a bit sour, matching the one that Jacky had seen on the faces of the others earlier. "Pleased to meet you," he announced, but his mood showed on his face: that mood was certainly not stirred to enthusiasm.

Another came on with Molly's navi, who she introduced as Strum. "Listen, Jack-o: Strum's a hot head and has terrible taste in music. I'm always tellin' her to change things and she never listens to me. Still... she's the one who's the main guitarist n' vocals for the all-girl rock group, Lit Fusion, so apparently somebody likes her songs. They're red hot right now," she suggested.

The navi who appeared was in a window, like PhotoMan, but just from her shoulders, it appeared she wasn't wearing much more than a black, low-hung tube top. Her shocking red hair was styled with some spikes in the back, with the rest hanging over her eyes in thick bangs. Unlike her operator, she didn't seem to be one for make-up, at least not at present. She looked sort of sexy... but also sort of dirty. In the unwashed way. "Oi there, cutie! You got a nurse, Molly? Meow!" the girl taunted. "Name's Strum! If you're going to be a nurse, though, you ought'a wear a cuter outfit than that. How do you think you look in pink, doll?"

"Now, now," Nidalee chuckled again. "Finally, yours, Dr. Watershed," she continued, almost for the sake of politeness, as evidenced by her suddenly flat voice.

The man looked aside, adjusting his white glasses, then cast an image of his navi. She was very pleasant looking, with wavy brown hair, evidenced by the ringlets that escaped her blue rain-slicker and her bangs. Her eyes were a pretty shade of blue, with long lashes, but a look of hurt, as though she was getting fed up with being picked on (or otherwise was fed up with her operator being picked on). "Hello... I'm Parka," she introduced herself, putting on a smile. When she straightened up, her large breasts became evident as well; the parka couldn't really hide them. "Wonderful to meet you! I'm sorry that we meet under these circumstances, though..."

"Indeed," Nidalee murmured, finally circling back towards Dr. Watershed. "What do you say, Jacky? Nurses are supposed to help people, aren't they? Well... we could really use your help now, if you're willing to agree," she finished, still smiling, but with her eyebrows lowered into a no-nonsense, horizontal set.

"Oh, and remember!" Parka added, as if something else had suddenly occurred to her. "You have to do what your navi says today! That's the essence of this Career Day," she squeaked. That might lead one to wonder why she hadn't ordered Dr. Watershed to stop his awful presentation at the halfway point.
Seeing most peoples' hands occupied with PETs, Jacky didn't hold herself to the usual courtesy of shaking hands as she made acquaintances. She listened to the basic explanation with her trademarked furrowed brow. Personally, she wasn't sure how much educational value a "Career Day" that wasn't geared towards a particular specialization could have for students at an educational level. That said, while she acknowledged that hooking the audience was part and parcel with effective presentation, she had the funny impression that Molly and Nidalee were hoping to paint the picture of a spectacle or stage show.

"Well, I suppose I understand the gist," she confirmed, putting a hand to her chin thoughtfully. "Not all topics are easy to condense into a digestible format for a layman audience, and I'm sure Dr. Watershed isn't proficient in public speaking to that age level. Chances are, none of us have that particular proficiency..."

"Now, now, Jacky, I'm sure we can manage!" Hyde interrupted in a chipper mood, long ago having had a sip of her water to put herself in her preferred mood for this mission. She'd smelt blood in the water from the moment she'd received this opportunity, and followed the trail all the way to her prey and potential mischief. If Jacky kept up the way she was going now, she thought the other two women were going to kick her and the dinky doctor out on their butts before she got a chance to have any fun. "Chin up! Please, continue."

Jacky frowned, partially at Hyde's unsubtle interruption and partially at getting a new nickname in place of her existing short form at Molly's hands. Her frown deepened as Molly revealed their brilliant plan. "I'm... not sure I understand. Although... these students are our peers. The status of your professional careers not withstanding, I suppose it would be better to avoid sowing ill will by putting them to sleep."

The Navi and operator listened on in growing states of mirth and unease as the women went further into what they had in mind. "Cinematography? Audio? Just what are these people expecting of me, showing up at the eleventh hour...?" Jacky thought, zoning out slightly in her state of concern.

"Oh, an outfit like mine?" Hyde replied chipperly, grinning widely and still hiding the more interesting aspects of her outfit beneath her cloak. "Oh ho, now there's an idea! I'm sure it would look just darling on you, don't you think, Jacky?"

The operator kept deathly silent, listening to the other two continue. At this point she had a woman on either side, seemingly vicing her in place, with only Dr. Watershed ahead. She made a point not to look directly at him, feeling that staring into his expression would be uncannily like looking into a mirror. She gave the two Navis little more than polite nods and, involuntarily, a slight flush at Strum's comments.

Jacky made a point to hold up her PET as the others were introduced, allowing them to see Hyde in a similar way. For her part, Hyde observed the other Navis with interest, still hiding the secrets of her vibrant personality and colorful costuming while smiling cordially at each.

The moment of decision finally came for Jacky. Of course, easily pressured as she was and surrounded by two points of motivated pressure, there wasn't much of a way she could reject them. "... Very well, but, I feel a responsibility to tell you. Yes, Hyde is a skilled doctor, but she is on temporary leave because of a defect. She gets... up to some mischief, so... while I'm, er, willing to help you with what it is you feel you must do... I'm going to rely on your judgment not to participate in anything that goes against your scruples. She can get carried away..."

"Now, now, Jacky!" Hyde chided her good-naturedly, but with an edge. "Didn't we just decide that this whole mess came about because of people being too straight-laced? I'd say if we want to fix this, we have to take a bold new direction! Anyone who doesn't think they'd be comfortable with a bold new direction should leave now," she added, confident that none of them would leave based on that statement and hoping to use that statement to say "I warned you" if anyone tried to back out later. "But seriously, you can rest easy leaving creativity in my capable hands! I'm positively giddy to help out, and I'm so entertaining, I get thrown out of shoe stores!" Hyde giggled at her own apparent exaggeration, which was actually somewhat based-in-fact. "So, I will lay out some principles. Jacky, do you feel confident in your ability to come up with an entertaining presentation that will serve as a sharp hook from the current mediocre state of performance?"

The operator sighed a long, weary sigh. "No. I confess, creativity isn't my strong point..."

"Very well! Let it be acknowledged that we Navis live in a creative universe, and among us, we have teachers and artists (and exhibitionists)!" the Navi chirped, keeping that final point to herself. "Who better to deliver an entertaining and educational presentation? As such, I hope to get input from all of the other Navis and work together on the finest delivery. And, as such, I hope that you operators will understand: I intend to communicate with your Navis, and I would like for our thought process to be uninterrupted. As such, please allow me to communicate with your Navis privately. If you would permit us, I would like to communicate with your Navis by private messages that you will not read. I would like for the Navis not to share these messages."

"Come, now!" Jacky objected. "What could possibly be the point of such secrecy among professionals who are expected to work together on short notice?"

Hyde simply ignored the operator, continuing. "Next! I assure you my idea will be sufficiently entertaining for the audience, and you are doing the right thing relying on my expertise, both as a doctor and an entertainer. However, as with a doctor, you are putting your lives into my hands. Not just Jacky! All of you, Hyde emphasized, the orange in her eyes flashing. "So, if you we are to continue, I expect each of you to give your commitment to follow my instructions. Molly. Nidalee. Doctor Wonderpot," she finished, acknowledging each in turn and making a point to rush past Watershed's incorrect name.

Jacky didn't respond to this. She trusted nobody would bind themselves to that promise if things got too hairy, so if these people felt comfortable putting their lives and reputations in Hyde's hands, she'd have to let them.

Anticipating compliance, Hyde began composing messages to each of the three Navis, which she'd send to each of the three if she received the addresses and cooperation she expected.

To PhotoMan.EXE

It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Please let me know if you'd like to meet in person. I'm interested in obtaining the input of all three of you, as I believe it's hardly fair that you lose your time and input due to Watershed's mistake.

Please, give me any tips you'd like to be incorporated, or even just a wishlist of things you'd like to see! Let me know if you have any questions.

And please, don't hold back. Trust that you'll have a doctor's vow of confidence.

All the best,

(Attached is a picture of Hyde from the front, her cloak open and thrown behind her to reveal her body, jacket, and suspenders. Other than that, she is making a neutral and personable expression with her arms crossed beneath her sizable chest.)

To Strum.EXE

It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Please let me know if you'd like to meet in person. I'm interested in obtaining the input of all three of you, as I believe it's hardly fair that you lose your time and input due to Watershed's mistake.

Please, give me any tips you'd like to be incorporated, or even just a wishlist of things you'd like to see! Let me know if you have any questions.

And please, don't hold back. Trust that you'll have a doctor's vow of confidence.

All the best,

(Attached is a picture of Hyde from the front, her cloak open and thrown behind her to reveal her body, jacket, and suspenders. Other than that, she is making a neutral and personable expression with her arms crossed beneath her sizable chest.)

To Parka.EXE

Please arrange to have Dr. Wonderblot allow you to jack into the Net here and allow us to meet in person. I'd like to meet privately, without your operator's observation. I'm interested in finding out more about your part in this and any ideas you might have to improve the performance. Trust that you will have a doctor's vow of confidence and TLC.

All the best,

(No picture attached.)
Nidalee smiled sympathetically as Jacky began, but Molly shook her head, tensing her eyebrows and obviously wanting to counter that Dr. Watershed's misunderstanding of this age group went far beyond what could be excused. "Oi, o' course! If you're on a stage and you're puttin' people to sleep, you damn well better be a hypnotist or somethin'," the latter of the two grumbled. "So keep that 'amnesia' or whatever you medical types use out of this. If they start fallin' asleep... or stayin' asleep... you're doing your job wrong." It didn't seem like Molly had any intention of easing up the pressure. Introductions continued and Jacky gave her customary warning to look out for HYDE and her machinations. This seemed to spark Molly's interest. "Oh, that sounds like just what the doctor ordered! A little misbehavior, huh?" she said with a grin. "I like it!"

Even Dr. Watershed, who Jacky might have hoped would be the voice of reason here, seemed highly approving of giving Hyde whatever she needed... perhaps because pulling through this would be the only way to get out of being lynched after the performance. "The doctor is right... a bold performance! That's what the four of us need now!" he agreed loudly, trying to show that he could be a fun guy after all.

"Why do I find myself feeling a bit on edge?" Nidalee remarked quietly, playing with a strand of her unnaturally purple hair. "PhotoMan keeping secrets from people has a tendency to get a little... stupid." Still, the three agreed that their navis would keep the silence and the navis had no motivation to disagree either, it seemed.

Dr. Watershed was so thoroughly in agreement that he didn't even notice that his name was being joked about. When he received a quiet remark from his navi that she ought to be jacked into the net, he still showed no signs of suspicion, eagerly jacking his navi in to a nearby wall terminal without informing the others. He smiled over his shoulder at Jacky, though she might not notice what he was doing at the moment and certainly wasn't intended to get the full gist of it. "I think this navi could be just what we need to turn this around!" he exclaimed cheerfully. "She's certainly got a unique look about her."

Strum laughed, as if something about that struck her as funny. "Ain't no arguing with that!" she cackled. "That one looks like somethin' straight out of Washie's playbook!" Dr. Watershed's face showed only enthusiasm and no sign that he'd understood what that meant. The other navis began to send their messages back to Hyde...

From PhotoMan
I believe that the key to this presentation will be to catch the eyes of our audience. To that end, I believe I can be helpful in planning. College students these days are not only critical, but also educated... they won't be satisfied with an amateur effort. Let's meet in person so that we can discuss this further.

From Strum
Not bad! I can think of some things I'd like you to not incorporate, like maybe your top or those shorts? Send me another pic!

(Attached is a pic of Strum, dressed in her black tube top, which has straps connecting diagonally to her own glossy, red miniskirt, along with tall, black boots with red soles. Her gloves are bright yellow with red tips to the fingers. Her figure is a bit thin but leggy in a good way. She's carrying her guitar, red with a yellow tip, and licking the tip suggestively while hugging it between her modest breasts. Nothing about this picture or the comment has much to do with the mission.)

From Parka
I'm not quite sure I understand your message, but I will be happy to meet and let you know anything that will help you. Dr. Watershed and I may have dropped the ball with our performance, but I'm going to do everything I can to make sure this next performance is a success! I've instructed Dr. Watershed to jack me into the auditorium's network and will meet you there.

"Now we'll just have to wait for those navis to use their inter-brains to devise a good plan to all of this. Hopefully you kept that Parka out've it, though... she's got more under that coat than she does under her hat, less' just leave it at that," Molly laughed, causing Dr. Watershed to look offended, the first look other than 'miserable wimp' or 'mildly excited wimp' he'd given since Jacky had known him.

"That was my fault, Molly, not my navi's. It's rude to judge people like that," he warned her, raising one finger.

"And it's rude to be as ***-damn boring as you," Molly responded, raising a different finger and stomping forward at a clip Dr. Watershed hadn't been prepared for. "I know what'd excite this crowd! Me beatin' the water out of Doc's water shed!" she spat, rolling up one sleeve of her jacket as she approached. Thankfully, Jacky wasn't going to have to serve as peacemaker in addition to planner and last hope. Nidalee ran over and grabbed the other girl's arm, keeping her from pummeling the meteorologist. "Don't be stupid! This guy deserves to be pounded!" One could question if this conversation was actually private from those seated on the other side of the curtain, given Molly's yelling.

"Please, don't be violent! It's unbecoming," Nidalee sighed heavily, spinning the girl away and behind her with surprising ease. "I think we can all agree that violence ought not to be a part of this..."

((Net topic opening soon))
Jacky gave Nidalee a meaningfully intense stare at the notion that she might have an uncomfortable feeling, but said nothing, and soon returned to staring at her surroundings instead. She wanted her mind to work fast, but this situation felt so out of her depth that it was hard to concentrate...

"Earth to Jacky!" Hyde spoke up, not from Earth so much as cyberspace. "I need you to jack me into the Net, okay?"

Jacky sighed, looking miserable. "You really need access to the auditorium's electronic systems for this?"

"That's for me to know... and you to find out..." Hyde whispered in a low, sing-song tone that only her operator would hear. Truth be told, she wasn't exactly sure if she would use them or not, but she did have a hot date waiting there, so the topic wasn't up for debate. "Come along now, Jacky! You don't want to ruin the performance, do you?"

The operator batted that question around in her head briefly before conceding and preparing to jack Hyde in.

"All right, Molly!" Hyde spoke up so the others could hear. "Speaking of sound equipment, do you have any of those sort of discrete earpieces? Since we obviously lack time for any kind of rehearsal, I'd like to be able to issue directions to all of the crew personally and on private channels. At least three would be preferred," she added, hoping she didn't need to specify who the left-out fourth human would be.

Jacky's brow knit furiously as she put her hand to her lips while simultaneously raising her voice, making her speech something like a loud mutter. "And why exactly do these need to be private channels...?"

"So that everyone doesn't get their directions mixed up, obviously!" Hyde responded with a shrug.

"And why not just use our personal PETs for the communication...?" Jacky muttered, now rubbing her mouth.

"Because we Navis are in those PETs, and our business is going to be no humans allowed! I think I already said that, didn't I?" Hyde chided, examining her nails with calculated indifference from the PET. "Yes, everyone, assuming Molly has those devices, I would appreciate it if you would all leave your PETs here in this nice little circle! I'll let you know if you need to jack in, but for now, just leave them there."

Jacky finished jacking Hyde in, giving her one last humorless stare, threatening with an authority she knew she'd long since relinquished.

Hyde grinned back, her cloak folded around her and her eyes shining beneath the rim of her hat. "Oh! Assuming we're going private in a moment, this will be my last public order. Nidalee! Why don't you help Jacky into something more like my outfit, hm? Like mine, but more her size?"

Jacky kept her pensive stare on the PET a moment longer, trying to figure what Hyde meant. The others had only seen her cape and hat, so... unless... maybe there was some way...?

The operator's eyes grew wide behind her thick frames. But this was her chance! Surely, this was where she could set the ground rules for the night, that only just so much nonsense would be tolerated? That things wouldn't be allowed to get out of hand?

She looked back to Nidalee, a wide-eyed deer-in-the-headlights look on her face, her lip just barely trembling. To her further chagrin, it appeared a fight had nearly broken out while she was preoccupied, but that seemed like a distant concern at the moment. "Hyde... means... her hat... and her cape... I'm s-"

"I mean my entire doctor's outfit, Jacky," Hyde clarified, smiling from her entire body, and voice as well. "I sent a picture! Nidalee, before you set your PET down, have PhotoMan show you that picture. And naturally, I expect to see a very good representation here! I'm putting a lot of faith in your ability, Nidalee. Remember: strong start! Bold statement! Oh, and Molly, one last last directive! If you do have the aforementioned technology, I'm assuming it has some component that needs to be installed and left in this netspace with me. Perhaps you could have Strum deliver it? I'll communicate with someone to jack her out when it's ready."

Jacky stood frozen in horror, suddenly feeling her stomach knot up. This was like realizing you were in a nightmare, trying to wake up, and finding it was real life after all. She looked at Nidalee with pleading eyes, trying to decide if she needed to gulp down her fear for the sake of appearances or let it remain and show how she actually felt... if that would accomplish anything. "Nidalee, please... I'm... not the right size... for that outfit, wouldn't you say...? Maybe something like, er, an adaptation? Would be more appropriate?" She tried to send the message to Nidalee with her eyes, knowing it was more terrible and complex than she possibly could: "Your reputation is at stake, but not in the way you think! If you do this now, there's no turning back, and there's no end to it! You still have a chance to stop this!"
"Oh sure, I got those," Molly responded to Hyde, seeming to calm down now that there was a possibility they could make some ground on redeeming this stage show. She ran moved to a previously unseen door in the back, rummaged around for a bit, then returned with three earpiece sets. "They're kinda discrete, but they still clip over your ear. I'm in the music business, not the spy business, so hopefully you're not too disappointed."

"I'm sure they'll be fine. We're not shooting a movie here," Nidalee chuckled, in defiance of the earlier talk about audio and visual effects. The operators continued by placing their PETs down, just like Hyde had asked them to, all too easily giving in to Hyde's demands. To that end, Nidalee enthusiastically agreed that to help Jacky with her costuming, although she hadn't actually gotten the image from her own navi yet. There was clearly some reluctance on PhotoMan's part to surrender that information, but when he did, Nidalee at least had the decency to look surprised by it. "This is a doctor?" she murmured in a confused whisper, raising one eyebrow. "Well, we did say the navis ran the show for the day..."

While Molly was making arrangements to have Strum show up and deliver the navi-side half of the audio tech, Jacky pleaded with Nidalee to realize that an immodest top and suspender shorts weren't typical nurse-wear and were inappropriate dress for this sort of presentation. She smiled sympathetically to Jacky, but it was still a smile of encouragement, not one of reassurance that they weren't going to follow Hyde's orders. "Well... an outfit that looks specifically like that one would indeed be hard to come by," she chuckled, resting one gloved hand on her cleft chin. "But I think most of the details will be easy enough to replicate. Please, step into the back with me," the overdressed woman encouraged Jacky, with a gentlemanly sweep of one arm.

Assuming Jacky didn't chicken out, she'd found that Nidalee had brought a wide array of outfits indeed. Quite a few of them looked like they were intended to be sexy outfits, so it wouldn't overall be that surprising if she was able to find something mimicking Hyde's clothes. "I could take your measurements, but we don't really have the time... it would be easiest if I just showed you to the right set of outfits and you simply pick the right size. You know your sizes well enough, I'm sure," she continued, gesturing to a rack of clothes filled with Victorian era costumes. "A top hat and cloak will be easy enough, of course, as will gloves and boots. A black tee is simple... the trick will be the suspenders and shorts. I'm pretty sure that's where everyone will be looking, so we want to get it just right! Here's a few options," she murmured, shifting through racks while Jacky was invited to grab up those pieces she'd already indicated. "Let's see... I have a skirt that's pretty similar materials and size-wise, but your navi wears shorts. They don't have suspenders... I do have some suspender shorts, but they're only in red and yellow." Alarmingly, she was now gesturing towards a rack of fireman fetish outfits. "I also have some black, glossy shorts, but those won't have suspenders either and... well, let's just say that calling them 'shorts' is a bit of a stretch. Wearing those will be taking one for the team!" she giggled, holding up a pair of shorts to show Jacky. It was more like a bikini than shorts, really. "Which tickles your fancy? I can leave the room, if you're ready to get dressed..."

It was pretty unlikely, in reality, that Jacky was tickled by any of her options. There was also quite an array of underwear to pick from, but Jacky probably didn't know what type Hyde wore, nor would she have any desire to imitate it to begin with. She had to be holding out hope that she'd get through this without showing off her underwear. She might also think that while the two were alone might be a good time to try to talk some sense into Nidalee, seeing as she'd be free of peer pressure from the others.
Jacky sighed, upset at the fact that Nidalee seemed to failing to follow through on any of her totally justified concerns. "... Very well, then. I won't hold it against you if you don't have a perfect match. Hyde has some creative taste, and her impression of a doctor's garb is certainly far from the usual..."

The operator had been hoping that Nidalee's collection of outfits were going to be something more along the lines of a typical assortment of archetypal professional costumes. To her dismay, it appeared Nidalee was going to have better luck than she'd anticipated. The top hat and the cloak were mortifying enough for Jacky to appear on stage in, and she was about to begin her protests there when more articles were presented to her. She didn't think the tee was very close to Hyde's costume, but she wasn't complaining about not having to wear that jacket. She continued to survey the collection in varying states of distress before finally stopping at the realization Nidalee intended for her to dress into one of these and appear before an audience.

Her eyes traveled between the options Nidalee had indicated while her mind tried to weigh the risks and benefits of each. She thought she could survive in either the skirt or the colorful shorts if she had to, but neither of them went with the rest of the outfit that well, or looked much like Hyde's costume... Then again, Hyde would be asking a lot for an accurate replication in this case.

"But she will, won't she...?" Jacky thought to herself, her lip tightening. "If I walk back out in a poor imitation, Hyde will press Nidalee until she presses me to dress into something even worse... or comes up with some other horrible task for me. Uuugh..."

Her eyes locked onto the slick black "shorts..." "Shorts. They're shorts. If I wear them... I'll be... wearing shorts..." Jacky thought to herself, her hand clenched over her mouth in a gesture halfway between rubbing her chin and suppressing the scream. Finally, she buried her face in her hands and let out a small groan. "Um... I think... the last one. The... shorts. Rest assured, this will not be the only one taken for the team before this event concludes," Jacky muttered ominously through her fingers. "Ah... that's not a threat."

"... I'm not going to be able to recognize myself when this is through," Jacky thought to herself, feeling her knees shaking as she tried to summon her courage. Instead of courage, however, inspiration struck her. "That's it! Nidalee," she suddenly shouted, turning to the other woman and grabbing her shoulders in her strongest grip... about the strength of a friendly pat on the back. "Makeup! Wigs. A disguise. How are you with that aspect of costuming? Could you provide costuming and makeup so that I might appear to be another person? As long as I'm not... myself, and nobody recognizes me... I think... maybe I can do this. Please!"
Nidalee smiled with glee as Jacky made her selection. "Good choice! That would have been my pick too," she concurred, holding the short-short-short-shorts up for another look. "We're all going to work hard to pick up for Dr. Watershed's slack, dear. You're not in this alone," she reassured the young medical student, stopping short of going out there onto the stage with Jacky. Surprisingly, Jacky responded with enthusiasm of her own, posing another new idea. "Of course, darling! Do I look like somebody who doesn't know how to apply makeup?" she guffawed, batting her long, convincing-yet-fake eyelashes. "When I'm done, you'll be her spitting image! Well, except for the teeth... I do have false teeth if you want them, of course, but I do wonder how that would go over with the audience?"

Jacky had asked for makeup and a wig; Nidalee was quick to provide both features, pointing Jacky to a small, folding chair in front of a standing mirror in one corner of the room. A starlett's backstage chair and a fancy vanity might have helped Jacky's confidence, but those weren't the kinds of things Nidalee could haul from venue to venue. "Now, I won't say this will make you 'glamorous' exactly, but it does have a certain chiq to it," Jacky's costumer informed her, handing over a wig that looked very convincingly like Hyde's hair, albeit a bit longer and fuller, as it needed to be to fully cover Jacky's own. "Luckily your shades aren't too different, so blending won't be an issue. Just don't toss your head too much, m'kay? It's nothing fancy... I've fitted the scalp onto your head nice and neat and clipped the inside where I can," she murmured, adjusting it delicately to fit the head, "but if you're not careful, it will fall off just the same. As for the make-up... hold still, this will take a bit longer."

After preparing a makeup brush, other tools, and a tube of fancy, designer-brand lipstick in a sultry ebony color, Nidalee set to work. "Don't talk... or you may end up teaching the kids how to be a clown rather than a doctor..." she whispered, holding one hand to Jacky's chin to keep her head steady. Her body leaned in to overly close proximity, over one of Jacky's shoulders, as she touched up Jacky's eyelashes and eyeshadow to a darker shade. "Purse your lips," she instructed, then set to work applying the lipstick. "Forgive me for saying so, but you don't look like you're the type to deal with dark-tone lipstick or gloss too often. It's probably best if I handle this as well," she cooed, gliding the oil over Jacky's lips with extra, awkward care. "There! Aren't you looking kissable?" the stylist giggled, although the new semi-gothic image would probably take Jacky some getting used to.

"Best of all, I spotted this out of the corner of my eye to complete the outfit!" she offered, handing another garment over to Jacky to complete the outfit. While folded, it looked like a jacket, but it soon became clear that there were a good many folds too few. It was a pretty close approximation of Hyde's one-button coat, taken from a sexy magician's outfit. The gloss looked like it matched the shorts. "How about it? Want to go with the shiny top hat too to complete the look?" she joked, passing Jacky-Hyde the article she'd mentioned. "I'll leave that up to you. Speaking of which, I've toyed around with you long enough now! You ought to get dressed for work!" she finished, heading towards the exit. "Ta ta, dear," she finished, waving with a mischievous gesture that looked a little like squeezing. Jacky would now be tasked with completing her transformation into Hyde by changing into her new costume, unless she fled the back room.
"Yes, um... I think I can get away with losing the teeth," Jacky murmured. On one hand, that'd probably be a great way to mask her identity, but on the other... having those kind of teeth was an experience she really thought she could live without. She stared at the wig, gathering her determination and trying to bury her apprehension. "I think that will do fine, thank you." She stared at herself in the mirror... she couldn't recall dressing up like this in her life, even as a little girl, so the face staring back at her felt immediately unfamiliar.

That face continued to transform as Nidalee applied makeup. Jacky's expression here, her brow tensed and eyes open in nervous energy with her lips pulled into a convenient pout, was probably one few, if any, would ever see again. She continued to stare, face flushed, as she turned her head to the sides and examined her finished look. "I do makeup myself, sometimes..." she said, mostly just to be saying anything. At this point, nearly all that was familiar to her was her huge square frames... she'd really like to do away with those and make herself completely unidentifiable, but she highly doubted she was going to be able to pull off whatever Hyde had in mind while blinded.

Jacky looked between the top hat and coat and sighed, giving it a shrug. "Why not." Honestly, she felt liberated by having agreed to the shorts: with that nail in the coffin, there wasn't really anything heaping more sensually shiny clothing on top could do to her. She gave Nidalee a small, dispassionate wave in response, bidding her leave and allowing herself to begin the process of changing. Figuring she'd head Hyde off at the pass, she quickly moved in and fastened the lock on the door, if there was such a thing. Failing that, she'd simply realize she had to act that much faster, and make an effort to do so.

The medical student quickly removed her white coat, hanging it on a free hanger and vowing she wouldn't forget to reclaim it later, no matter what the circumstances. She took a seat in the chair that had been provided for her, removing first her shoes, then her socks. She felt another wave of nerves take her over when her bare feet touched the floor, but she fought it off.

Taking a breath, she then quickly set about pulling off her scrubs. The shirt went over her head first, revealing the plain white tee beneath. She then quickly pulled the pants down around her ankles, revealing an equally plain pair of white panties and her skinny legs. If she was in the privacy of her own house, this would be the part where she would neatly fold up her things and store them away, assuming she wasn't planning to wash them before wearing them again. Looking down at her half-naked body, however, she felt a shift in priorities was called for. With a quick motion, she cast off her tee shirt as well.

Her plain white bra would be on display for the briefest moment before she swiped up the black tee that had been selected for her. She found it fit her quite well... she supposed Nidalee must be good with sizes. The next part was the shorts: she grimaced, stepping one slender leg through the holes of the garment after the other. Even though her body type was surely one of the thinnest that would be changing into Nidalee's outfits, she found that the piece was teasingly snug. "That means... there are really people into this look on someone like me...?" That thought was a bit too much for Jacky in her current state of distress, and she chased it off so she could finish her task.

She pulled the jacket on, remarking that without the overly long sleeves, it was technically a less conservative piece than Hyde's own jacket... if a bit less nonsensical, as a result. She picked up the shoes, then thought for a moment, putting them down. "I wonder..." she spoke softly to herself, rummaging through the racks briefly. "Ah... yes, I suppose that's the one." She removed a pair of white and black striped stockings, wincing as she realized it seemed to belong to some sort of "sexy prisoner" ensemble. Putting her distaste aside, Jacky returned to the chair, quickly pulling them all the way on and getting herself into her boots. Luckily, she did have some experience walking in heels.

She took the gloves and snapped them on mid-walk as she approached the cloak. Figuring out how this one fastened was a bit more challenging, but she eventually did. She tried pulling around herself, then took a look at herself in the mirror. Ironically, this cloak was a bit shorter than Hyde's, so the stockings wouldn't be a surprise to anyone even if she folded it.

The doctor-in-training stood staring at herself in the mirror for a while, in awe of her own appearance. Indeed, with the glasses as the only familiar feature, it was almost like looking at herself standing inside a face-cut-out cardboard standup at a carnival. Her lip trembled as she pulled the cloak open. Even the belly being slightly on display was outside of her comfort zone, but along with the shorts, it was hard to imagine...

She looked back at her face, her eyes wide behind her glasses. "No good... people saw me come in with these glasses on. They're the only thing familiar, but... plenty of people saw me walk in. If they contrast me now with my appearance when I walked in, my actual appearance will stand out even more...! I need to look like a completely different person."

Jacky walked closer to the mirror, staring at her own face point-blank. "Preparation is everything. With focus, I can do it. I just need to..."

Psyching herself, up, Jacky stared at her nervous, watery face in the mirror until it was a mask of determination. "Good. That's the first step. Eliminate doubt. The second step... confidence..." The operator practiced carefully, gradually turning her expression of tense concentration to one of public-speaking ease.

"N-now... just a bit..." she said to herself, pausing. She took a brief moment to glance over her shoulders in the mirror... then experimented with a couple of expressions, flashing her teeth and testing pouts. She gulped, then winked one eye, and even blew herself a kiss...

... Before scrambling away from the mirror, shaking her head nearly hard enough to put her wig work in jeopardy. "Just confidence! I think confidence is enough!" she called to herself, as she was presumably the only one in the room. "Yes, g-good work, me... on the confidence!"

Jacky took a moment, gathering her confidence again after her earlier misstep, then put her things neatly away, as calmly as she could manage. Taking a deep breath, she straightened her hat, mustered her courage, and opened the door, unlocking it first if she'd managed to lock it in the first place. She stepped out among those gathered again, making a concentrated effort to walk up to Molly and take her ear piece, trying to keep her mask-like confidence plastered across her face and gliding in a business-like manner. She didn't ask for anyone's opinions, and would be just fine if nobody offered them.

At about that time, if the three had put in their ear pieces, Molly would most likely hear the first instructions Hyde had to give...
Once Jacky went back outside, she'd find the others much as she'd left them: a cryptically smiling Nidalee, a grumpy Molly who looked like she wanted to beat up Dr. Watershed, and a worried Dr. Watershed desperately hoping that Hyde's plan was going to get Molly and potentially the student body off his back. The meteorologist raised one finger and smiled as she approached. "Great costume! So you're a doctor? That's funny... I thought I doctor would have looked a bit more like myself," he murmured, examining her closed cloak.

"If she looked like you then we'd have a major problem, Waterboy," Molly pointed out. "The goal's to make this good instead of terrible like your part was, remember?"

"Right," Dr. Watershed agreed meekly.

"Anyways, here's your earpiece, Jack-o. Let's see if yer buddy on the net's saying anything yet," the made-up girl continued, handing Jacky the discreet earpiece before readjusting her own. "Good, there she is... She wants me to... Huh. Well, I guess if I understood this whole plan right off the bat, there wouldn't'a been any need to call her in, right? I'll just go out and do it. Does it matter that I'm not in a costume?" she asked Jacky. Presumably, Jacky would have no idea, so Molly just shrugged and walked out anyway. For what it was worth, Molly looked like she was wearing a costume all the time, so it might not make a difference.

As soon as Molly went out, she silenced the projector; neither she nor the students had any interest in "achieving acceptable percentage accuracy in precipitation forecasting" or anything else the recording had to say. The crowd perked up a bit, seeing her strange appearance. Molly smirked at them for a moment, placing one hand on her hip and leaning a bit, before starting. "Hey guys, the name's Molly Crews," she began, awkward not out of stage fright, but just by extension of the direction (or lack thereof) she'd been given. "I'm a song-writer and a musician myself! You might remember when my hair-metal band, Attack from Bellow, was touring Netopia and rockin' number one on the charts for a few weeks, huh?" she started, looking around with a toothy grin. When nobody responded or showed any recognition, her face regained its usual dark frown. "Uh, I'm also the song-writer for Lit Fusion, you guys know them?" she asked in unenthusiastic mono-tone. At this, many of the crowd livened up and nodded or answered. "Okay, great," Molly spat (literally, onto the floor of the stage). "Well, I'm gonna tell you about their lead singer, Strum, my navi, and what she does to become such a successful..." The word artist was the obvious word to follow with. "Person," the operator finished with a distasteful sideways glance.

Backstage, Nidalee and Dr. Watershed were watching eagerly. "This is it... this will be much more interesting than my talk was!" Dr. Watershed muttered to the others with a hopeful smile.

"That wouldn't be hard to achieve by any performer, my dear," Nidalee sighed. "Certainly I'm not the only one thinking that this is still a little dry?" The man who'd just spoken looked as though that thought hadn't crossed his mind.

"So what kind of great stuff does she do to be such a super great, awesome, popular, mainstream performer like she obviously is? Well, first off, she picks a music genre that a toddler beating on a trash can imitate if he wants: alternative rock geared towards hipsters who think they know what rock is. Never hair metal; that requires too much talent and respect for real rockers in the past. Next, she leaves every bit of the work to me and her band-mates, while she just hangs around in her trailer and screws whoever happened to want to screw around with her for a while, then she comes out and practices her song for like one take, then says 'that's the stuff' before going off to screw some more, then right once the thing's starting, she goes out and does guitar and vocals for whatever terrible music she's playing," Molly ranted. "Hey, you guys recognize that, right? You all know that Lit Fusion is terrible, don't you?"

Most of the crowd started booing, amazingly an even worse reaction than Dr. Watershed had gotten. "Oh, you little piss-stains, look at all'a'ya with you preppy guys and the girls, with your short hair and your pink sneakers and your ****ing keychains! You're just the type she appeals to! Ain't none of you the kind of person who knows what real rock is like I do!" she announced, giving the crowd a pair of expressive hand gestures. She was now getting booed out of the building... perhaps she'd been a bit too honest with her feelings towards her navi's job. "Those are my lyrics, you ****heads! Listen to em again, 'at's hair metal lyrics you've been listenin' to! Feel pretty stupid now, don't ya? You all have been eating up all ya' hipster, rebel-culture bull**** without realizing it's my lyrics! Oh, you in the front there, you're lookin' reeeal stupid with that stupid look on your face, why don't you come up here and I'll beat your ass, you stupid jerk-off!"

Dr. Watershed watched on, utterly aghast, while Nidalee continued smiling... albeit clearly in pain. "Well... I think we should intervene," she informed Jacky with a sympathetic glance. "If we're lucky, we can still spin this into something self-aware... as, after all, we are fully conscious of the fact that this is still a very bad performance, aren't we?"
Jacky let out an internal sigh of relief, although she knew that was a false comfort. Still, she was surprised to see such mild reactions to her new getup. The makeup alone had felt like a gigantic leap to her. She gave Watershed a small, polite nod to his comment. She then took her earpiece from Molly, raising an eyebrow as she appeared to be receiving instructions. She gave a helpless shrug at the question of whether a costume was necessary... truth be told, she'd fully expected Hyde to immediately have the three of them prancing around in their birthday suits, so she wasn't going to look an oddly sane gift-horse in the mouth.

She watched Molly curiously from backstage. Of course, if the other two were taking up all the space to conveniently peer through, she wouldn't muscle her way in. "Please, don't get too comfortable. I'll eat this hat if this is all Hyde has planned..." Of course, Jacky's imagination wasn't the best, and so when Molly started getting major rise out of an audience response she'd set herself up for, she held her breath. "Here it is! This is Hyde's plan. She's just going to have us all deliver ruinous speeches... and she'll save me for last, when the audience is ready to hang!"

As though listening in on her operator, Hyde's voice suddenly piped up in Jacky's ear. "Jacky! I'm so tickled with the outfit you've put together... to be honest, I'd had my heart set on a sexy nurse, but I'm flattered! Now, the next instruction is yours, so listen closely..."

Jacky listened to her Navi's directions, frowning deeply. Her eyebrows and frown tensed as if pulled by gravity. "... Hyde. What do you want these people to think a doctor is...?"

"Chop chop, now, Jacky! The cue is the lights dimming. Step into the spotlight, and move quietly. I think Molly here is too caught up in her firespitting to notice you, but I don't want her to see you coming."

"Well, it's just a short distance," Jacky admitted, looking for any strain of sense in Hyde's plans and seizing on that logic. "Very well." The operator waited for the signal she'd been told. Assuming the lights did dim, she would leave the curtains and move forward. The audience would clearly see her highlighted form gliding towards Molly. Sound-wise, Jacky's approach would actually be rather stealthy: after all, she'd only recently practiced her impromptu ninja movement, and her footfalls weren't naturally heavy. They'd be countered by the clack of her heels, but, as Jacky had mentioned, it was just a skip and a hop to Molly's position.

Upon reaching Molly, Jacky would attempt to fold the cape out across her body from the front, then make a motion like jabbing into the side with her other hand. Jacky's form would still be mostly hidden by the cape as she stood with her back to the audience. As for the jab, there was pretty much no way Molly could be hurt by Jacky's harmless gesture unless she struggled and did it to herself.

In cue with Jacky's arrival, Hyde's voice shouted in Molly's ear piece. "Shut the bloody hell up, you've been drugged! Act like you've gotten sleepy and fall asleep on the stage! Fake a big snore!"

If Molly actually calmed down enough to go along with that, Jacky would do what she could to help lower Molly's body carefully to the floor. There were two other troublesome outcomes to consider, however, and both were due to her physical weakness. If Molly struggled, there would be pretty much no way for Jacky to restrain her or keep her from lashing out at the sudden action. On the other hand, if Molly did her job a little too well and fell limp, putting basically any weight on Jacky, she'd find the twig-like girl less than supportive.

Jacky didn't respond to Nidalee, keeping her attention on Hyde instead; Nidalee took that as a sign that Jacky had faith in her navi's plan (probably the wrong conclusion to draw) and allowed her to go out. "Break a leg," she whispered encouragingly.

"... Say the lyrics, Lard Ass! Say em out loud! See how they talk about hair and all that? Wut, you think Strum's got enough hair to flick it around? It only goes down to her damn shoulders! How's she gonna do anything with it?! It's about hair metal, they all are!" Molly testified, in the middle of laying bare all of the conspiracies of her navi's musical career (as she had before in other venues, to little fanfare). She barely felt Jacky chop her, but when she did, her reaction was to turn around with both fists raised above her head and an ogre-like, wide-eyed grimace, ready to club Jacky over the head and lay her out. Hyde intervened with something about being drugged. "I'm not drugged, I just gotta bone to pick with-" Molly started, before realizing she'd misunderstood Hyde's stage instructions. She fell to the floor of the stage in anticlimactic fashion, stiff as a board, with her face turned away from the crowd. Jacky could see a dark look with knit brows, recognizable as the closest look to flustered that Molly would get. She gave a realistic snore, complete with a hearty snort. Jacky missed Molly's body entirely, as the motion was so sudden and quick. Molly might experience some soreness in the arm she'd fallen on later.

Backstage, Watershed and Nidalee watched on in silence with nervous looks on their faces (Watershed's more blatant than Nidalee's), wondering what would come of this inexplicable swerve.
Jacky gasped in spite of herself as Molly hit the floor, glancing self-consciously over her shoulder at the audience for just a second before taking a second glance down at Molly, making sure she was all right. Seeing as she seemed to be (more or less), Hyde took a moment to compose her confidence again, then turned to face the students. At this point, pretty much everything she would say and do would be directly from Hyde's mouth. She gulped down the last of her anxiety, unintentionally replacing her confidence with a grin that was all nerves and incredulity.

"H-hey there, um... kids," Jacky started, addressing her peers who were, in many cases, probably about her age. "My name is... Jacky Newman," Jacky Newman continued, her eyebrows tensing as she realized the opening Hyde had in mind. "I attend classes here as as medical student... in fact, some of you might recognize me as... last year's winner... of the school's Brenda Trusdale Science Award and Scholarship... Again, that's Jacqueline Newman, or, ahem, 'Jacky' for short." Already burning red, Jacky would have loved to have muttered some of those lines instead of projecting them, but since she was still determined to do her part to complete this mission at all odds, she knew she couldn't afford to kill this so quickly. She held her chin up slightly so the light would catch her glasses, casting a reflective sheen and hiding her eyes.

"Anyway, um... as you can see, I'm here representing my Navi, Hyde, who is a doctor... what? You can't see? Oh no," Jacky rushed, simultaneously projecting and completely failing to get out of deadpan delivery. "You probably just don't recognize it with the... cape on..." Flushing even harder, the "doctor" threw her cape open and held it there with both hands like an exhibitionist opening her coat. Watershed would probably be the only one still in the dark, as he would be the only one unable to see Jacky's outfit from the back. "S-s-see? N-normal doctor clothes..." Jacky spoke to nobody at her left, having lost most of her composure quite quickly. She stood like that for a while, holding her cape open and trying to make herself keep going.

Finally responding to Hyde's next direction in her earpiece, she turned and shouted to the audience. "So! Y-you're probably wondering, um, the elephant in the room... what just happened to Ms. Molly Crews, who is now so, uh, gracefully slumbering. On the floor next to me. W-well, Molly was suffering, so I simply administered, some, uh, special... m-medicine. Yes, a hypo of a special wonderdrug my Navi Hyde helped synthesize! Allow me to... explain..."

Jacky's face fell rather humorlessly again, which would probably strike the audience as odd, considering her fantastical exposition. "You see, our dear Molly currently suffers from two terrible symptoms: truly... dreadful... flatulence." That wasn't supposed to be the end of the sentence, of course, but it came out that way as Jacky let out an internal groan at what she was being made to do. If Hyde had had any luck with her coercion on the other end, a loud raspberry noise would probably be emanating from the speakers around the auditorium. Depending on how much success Hyde was having, it might go on for quite a while. If that was the case, Jacky would just begin talking over it. "As you can hear, she's... working that out of her system. Just be glad you guys... don't have to be up here... to smell it..." The operator had figured she was going to die of embarrassment, but she was now being forced to consider the possibility of Molly simply beating her to death.

The next set of lines probably wouldn't help matters. "Her other problem, you bunch are already aware of... Molly has a distinctly underdeveloped... What? No, not those, I'm not talking about those," she droned, failing to enunciate in a way that conveyed she was delivering a punch line at all. "N-no, I'm talking about her taste buds! She has, uh... no... taste," the operator said carefully, barely restraining a flinch reflex and casting her eye just to the side, trying to think about how she could possibly dodge if Molly rose from the ground to dive at her. "A-as we all know, uh, Lit Fusion is a hot act! Something's clearly... broken in Molly's, um. Molly's brain. If she doesn't agree," the operator continued, wishing there was some way to secretly convey to Molly that she couldn't care less about the nuances of the metal genre.

If she was still conscious and with no broken bones at this point, Jacky would take a moment to catch her breath. She was sure there was still a lot more to come, but if the audience wasn't showing a remarkable shift in attention, she was going to go ahead and use that as an excuse to give up early. She also needed to confirm that Molly was, in fact, going along with all of this.
The audience had gone dead silent now, as everyone, including the students, those backstage, and even Molly on the floor of the stage itself, all tried to understand what Jacky was trying to say or what had gotten into her. The deafening quiet continued even as Jacky opened up her coat; nobody seemed to know what the right reaction was. Finally, a few whispers started up, laughs other places; laughter seemed to be the safest reaction from those who wanted to react in some way, to show they were "in on the joke." In reality, Hyde was the only one in the entire gathering who understood the joke, besides maybe Jacky, to some extent. That same awkward reaction continued, like the world's most unfortunate laugh track, as the medical student persisted through the lines Hyde had given her. Molly, for her part, held a stony frown, staring straight towards the curtain behind them as she lay upon the ground with her face hidden from the crowd. It was clear she didn't like what was being said, but had decided that maybe uncomfortable, squirming chuckles were better than the reaction she'd been getting. She remained this way even as Hyde through Jacky went on to talk about her horrible gaseous releases and her lackluster set of knockers.

The video that killed the radio star, so to speak, was when Jacky's monotone monologue reached the part about her taste and how great Lit Fusion was. A few of the crowd got behind her, those especially devoted to the group, giving her the first favorable reaction she'd managed to garner so far. That really didn't seem to sit well with Molly and Molly, for her part, didn't really seem to sit either. She slowly rose back to her feet, turning her statue-like, painted face towards her tormentor, her eyebrows raised in a questioning expression. It wasn't an expression of hurt, but more of an expression of "who the **** does this girl think she is?" Molly proceeded to voice much of the same sentiment. "Oh... Whoops. Looks like I was immune to your drug after all. Or maybe I just can't stand hearing some Science Award bitch act like she knows half a crap about music," she droned, stepping closer to invade Jacky's personal space, heedless of whatever Hyde might be requesting. "Maybe the sound of your sad little vocal cords, twanging out some trite nonsense about what sounds good, just awoke me from a deep slumber, and maybe you aren't going to like me now that I'm woke up. Surely you're not the Science Award bitch that I heard running her mouth, are ya?" the hair-metal enthusiast questioned, narrowing her eyes and adopting perhaps the tightest frown Jacky had ever seen. A few of the especially dedicated were cheering Jacky on to continue standing up to the oppressor of great music, but they were tone-deaf to the rest of the atmosphere; the rest of the auditorium all had their mouth shut and their PETs ready, waiting to record the moment if Jacky got knocked on her bottom by Molly.

"Oh dear..." Nidalee and Dr. Watershed murmured at once, looking at one another with nervous expressions, the former still smiling and the latter decidedly not.
Jacky gulped and subconsciously took a few steps back as Molly rose to her feet, clearly in a deservedly poor mood. She was receiving some instructions to do otherwise almost immediately from Hyde, but there wasn't much she could do to help it. Still, she realized her performance and her very life might be on the line depending on what she did next... She gulped and tried to focus on her performance. "After all, perilous though it may be, I have a much better chance of making her see reason than actually dodging an attack..."

Jacky cleared her throat, trying not to back off any more, and instead give an air of confidence (or, at the very least, the impression this had been her intended reaction). "Ah, now, you see... this is the true ailment! Molly is a woman of impeccable taste. Indeed, there is none among us that could reasonably defend Lit Fusion on any basis other than its lyrical mastery, and the delightful self-satire hidden within. And, needless to say, the flatulence was a simple joke to get a rise. However, the fact that a woman of Molly's character and intelligence would rise to such insults is a sign of her actual ailment: an intense buildup of stress, no doubt due to the... pre-teens who appreciate her Navi's music," Jacky sighed. Even if she could temporarily save her skin here, that wouldn't do her any good if the audience rushed the stage or started throwing things.

It had seemed easy to swing Molly's temperament to the foul, so she was hoping it would be just as easy to swing it back by quickly shedding those offensive pretenses. Assuming she'd managed to do so (indeed, if she hadn't, she'd probably be laid out by this point), Jacky continued. "For such a serious condition, there are a number of measures we can take... but I'd advise they be taken immediately. Molly, I think I have an idea. Why don't you proceed backstage and have Nidalee help you get ready? I can continue the presentation until you return, at which point I can give a practical demonstration of my medical technique..." Or whatever it was Hyde had in mind.

Again, assuming everything was going right, Jacky would wait while Molly disappeared backstage, then move towards the front of the stage herself. Her face was reddening based on her next instruction. She didn't know what Hyde was planning three moves ahead, but she knew the next two, and would pray for Molly's expedient return. "A-all right, so... as you all have, um, probably noticed... my doctor's uniform is a bit of an eye-catching get-up. As a medical professional, it's normal to have to deal with a large number of... cat-calls... in the workplace. Flirting, innuendos, dirty jokes... even... a little bit of friendly touching, if the patient is particularly frisky," she spoke, sounding morose. She was still doing her best to try and keep her character up, but she was falling a bit more into the funeral director line. Hyde chastised her for this on the microphone, so she tried to brighten up while choking on her pride.

She stepped out closer to the audience now, attempting to walk in the aisles among the students. Meanwhile, Hyde was watching the students like a hawk, waiting for chance.

"As a doctor, it's my job to tolerate a certain... amount of this... if I deem it makes the patient more comfortable," Jacky struggled, trying to keep up a professional tone while saying the least professional thing she'd said since announcing a colleague was fake-farting on stage moments earlier. "Therefore, my Navi and I have worked up thick skins towards the resistance of such. Are there any volunteers who would like to... um... demonstrate such harassment? I will, in turn... demonstrate my countermeasures," she told them, keeping an eye on the other students.

For her part, Hyde would be watching the audience for anyone particularly concerning she could force Jacky to call on... likely candidates would include anyone seeming uncomfortably enthusiastic about the prospect, anyone who was still visibly peeved at Jacky calling them pre-teens, or anyone with eccentric or disconcerting traits that Jacky probably wouldn't want to interact with, period. If she found a good variety of such people, she might need to take a minute to choose between them, but she didn't expect this sort of audience to be popping with viable volunteers.

Of course, there was always the possibility that Molly hadn't listened to "reason" earlier or that the audience was booing Jacky so loudly that she couldn't present, which would mean she and her Navi would have to handle this differently.
Calming Molly down didn't appear to be nearly as easy as riling her up; even once Jacky started to butter her up and disavow herself of any love for Lit Fusion's music, her face remained stormy. Still, enough nay-saying at her navi's group's expense eventually won her over. Molly smirked and gave a brief, snorting laugh. "Heh. Preteens! Yeah, you're right; those kids are the source of all of my grief. Always have been!" she agreed, thumbing her nose at the crowd. This lit up a new chorus of boos that Jacky would have to talk over to begin her next pitch. "Backstage? Ugh... Fine," she groaned, throwing her hands up and leaving Jacky alone with her hostile crowd. The crowd's distaste seemed to die back down to a dull stupor as they tried to comprehend Jacky's train of thought... truth be told, few of them could believe she was doing this in front of her peers, let alone wanted to participate in it themselves. Not only that, but they also weren't exactly enamored by her, given that she already only had niche aesthetic appeal and had just insulted a good portion of them.

After an awkward period of silence where it began to seem that Hyde was going to have to call on someone who hadn't even volunteered, a student finally spoke up. "Over here! I'll do it!" the a breathy, male voice encouraged her, as the owner of the voice stood up from his seat, about three seats into his row, causing discomfort for those around him. The boy was probably a freshman, definitely obese, with blond hair done into the wispy part of someone who can't really see what they're doing when they handle combing. His outfit consisted of khakis, a blue button up, and a dark brown sweatervest, with a white diamond pattern across both the upper part near the chest and another near his expansive waist. His jowl-heavy face was good-natured but again, smiling with the look of someone who's not aware of how he looks when he smiles; a curled one, showing too much of the teeth. All of this could likely be connected to the device he wore on his face: a heavy-looking dark gray device, almost like VR goggles, with two small, green, circular lenses, strapped onto his head by two bands. He was holding his PET out and maneuvering it with slight, subtle motions as if seeing around him with it. "I'm always willing to help!" he reiterated, as he began to squeeze his way through the crowd slightly. Everyone went back to hushed whispers, unsure what to make of the strange-looking student.

Whether Jacky indicated to him that she was good with his volunteering or not, she wouldn't deter his movement. "Oh, I'm happy to help!" he said again. "Folks who can't get help elsewhere can always turn to me, at least!" She might be hoping for a name at some point, but none was given. He continued lumbering down the aisle towards her, waving his big, meaty arms with no self-consciousness and pointing the PET towards her like a metal-finder. "Alright, I'll try it out! Uh... Hey!" he started, seeming unembarrassed, but still awkward, as he chewed his lip and waggled one finger at her. "Your bum looks awfully spiffy in those shorts!" he tested, clicking his fingers like he'd found something good. "Hey! Uh... Back it up! Baby doll!" he continued, pointing his finger out again and smiling as the crowd began to voice its approval in the form of raucous laughter. "Back that thang up, Jacky! You look good enough to... uh... smooch!" The crowd began cracking up even harder, causing him to smile ear-to-ear. She'd have to seriously consider whether he was actually trying to help her out or not.


Backstage, Nidalee had received some difficult instructions from Hyde, but was doing her best to enact them. "We don't have a lot of time, Molly! I've placed an outfit in there for you... I think it's the best we can do right now. Can you put it on and put the towel on over it?" she requested, urging her ally on to the backstage area.

"Wait just a bloomin' minute, sister! What do you mean 'put the towel on over it?!'" Molly asked in outrage, either bashful or just incredulous, perhaps both.

Nidalee, dropping a bit of her own professionalism, shoved Molly into the back and shut the curtain. "I'm rough with you because I know you can take it, dear!" she sighed loudly, using her go-to for tough guys or girls who were difficult to get into risque modeling propositions. She would never say out loud that she'd ever pressured a model into anything, but, well, she figured that 33% of genius would never leave the mind and enter the public arena if it wasn't for the prodding of certain visionaries such as herself. Art is suffering, as they say. She never stopped to consider that a college career day probably shouldn't be treated as the sculpting of art.

At any rate, it would take Molly a while to get dressed, or undressed, as the case may be. Jacky would have to survive on her wits and Hyde's instruction (and possibly using her wits to decide whether to follow Hyde's instructions) until someone came out from the back.
Jacky tried to keep calm in front of the burning eyes and deafening silence of the crowd. Half of her was praying for someone to answer and save her from the awkwardness, while the other half was begging everyone to keep their hands down so this thing could go ahead and fail and she could retreat. Jacky had just come to the decision to cut her losses and retreat when an unlikely savior came to the rescue. She raised her eyebrows as he moved forward, noting his gear with some interest. Jacky's working theory, based on his movements, was that he was using it as some sort of optical correction or stand-in...

... Her curiosity kept her from moving from that position until he'd already made his way into the aisle, and he began giving her much more interesting material to take notice of. From his first comment, Jacky's face had already gone beet red, her glasses fogging up and her lips tightening as she seemed to be trying to think up an appropriate response. Hyde seemed to be busy with something at the moment, so Jacky was stuck in this uncomfortable situation for some time, trying to figure out what her strange volunteer even intended her to do when directing her to "back it up." She stood fidgeting with her fingers a moment longer. "Uuuh... thanks?" she finally responded, after a tentative pause.

Although she could hardly think of it as "merciful," Hyde finally came online with some further directions. Jacky listened for a while, frowning tightly, but keeping her expression even. She was beginning to think that, mortifying as this was... maybe this was as bad as it would get? It certainly wasn't painless, but she was beginning to think she could weather it if she just put the future consequences out of her mind. With that mindset, she turned her attention back to audience and her subject. "Very good. Um, as you can see, I'm not affected at all," the red-faced student fibbed. "Now, there are two methods I normally use to address patients who treat me in such a manner. I generally assume that, when someone brings such an attitude into my office, they're doing so... in order to make themselves more comfortable. When I'm presented with a... strapping, dominant type like yourself," she spoke directly to the goggle-wearing student now, "I generally like to provide some encouragement... just a little something to keep them occupied while I'm preparing, working, or taking care of the fine details."

Jacky produced the clipboard she'd had earlier, which had been tucked away in one of the hidden pockets of her outfit (she'd gotten lucky that a lot of this outfit was sexy magician). She turned her back to the young man again, frowning and blushing deeply as she took a deep breath. "... Well! As much as I'd love some leisure time with you, mister... I'm not sure I... caught your name? Um, anyway... as much as I'd love some leisure time with you, I'm going to be busy with the paperwork for a moment longer, but... feel free to take a seat. Um... I think you'll find the seats here have weak legs, but... comfortable cushions." Jacky bent over a bit more to bring her bottom closer to the student as she said this in deadpan. Truth be told, she'd probably have objected if she'd understood exactly what Hyde was making her say... she could understand it was supposed to be some kind of sexual innuendo or dirty joke, but her mind was not used to this particular exercise and was rather stressed, besides.
As Jacky reacted semi-bashfully to the boy's advances, he smiled warmly and stuck his PET out towards her, almost invading her space, before retracting it a bit and biting his lip. "Whoops! Sorry, didn't mean to embarrass you," he murmured, rubbing his heavy chin with his one hand that wasn't occupied. "I was just trying to be helpful..." He was nervous for a bit longer before she continued with her monologue, which implied that she wasn't upset at all. "Strapping? Me?" he asked, pointing at himself with a dopey grin that made the audience laugh again. He scanned his face over with his PET, as if trying to detect whether he was looking especially handsome right now. "My name's Dillan! Dillan O'Doibhilin! Good to meet you," the big fellow introduced himself, upon Jacky's mention that she hadn't heard his name yet. The rest of the audience was cracking up even as he gave his name, seeing as they'd all gotten the innuendo of Jacky's words. He didn't seem to understand them and, unbeknownst to the audience, neither did Jacky herself. Seeming to realize she'd changed to another position, he adjusted the goggles on his face with one hand, while scanning in front of him with the PET using the other hand...

Once he figured out what was going on, he looked surprised, a smile creeping onto his face briefly, before turning into a confused frown, then back into a smile. His ears seemed to wiggle a bit as his expression changed. "Oh, darn, Jacky! Nobody's ever backed it up for me before. Gee..." he muttered to himself, rubbing his chin again, this time with a grin. "I mean, gee, I uh... I don't know what to actually do now! That's awfully sweet of you, though," he continued, looking around to the audience as a couple of the bawdier ones gave him some encouragement of what to do next, which mostly was hushed by the people around them, except for the few spots where such people were clumped together. "Huh... Um... Lemme ask my navi," he grunted, before bringing his PET very close to his eye-mask. "Hey HoundMan! What should I do if a girl backs it up for me, huh?" he asked, before moving the PET to his ear like a phone. "Oh... Oh gee, that's a little rude, isn't it?" he inquired. "But you say that's what they want if they back it up? Or it's just what you want? Or, no, it's what both of you want? Okay..."

Without hesitating, he stepped forward a bit more, reaching one hand out in front of himself blindly while also pointing the PET in the same direction, for as much visibility as he could get. He invaded Jackie's personal space after about three steps, then continued invading it more, placing one hand onto her shoulder with a few gentle pats, then bringing the PET near to her face so he could try to gauge her reaction... as he cradled the front of his pants into the central point of her shorts. Thankfully, his large gut seemed to provide a pretty good cushion against whatever erection he might be sporting, so mostly, his belly was all she felt pressed over her butt. "How's that?" he asked, smiling like he believed he was doing just right, while the audience, even the ones who'd been hushing others, started howling with laughter and encouragement. "Hey, I like your eyes, Jacky!" he remarked, as an afterthought, perhaps only now taking stock of them, since he hadn't gotten his PET so close to her face before this point.
Jacky continued to wordlessly examine the clipboard she was holding, trying her best not to think of what this pose was supposed to be for, and wondering whether it was safe to pray for the next part of the show to come soon. She had an idea that Molly was supposed to be doing something, but she didn't know if she was waiting for a cue from Hyde, or...

She jumped and let out a small yelp as Dillan's hand fell on her shoulder and his body pressed against her, dropping the clipboard completely. She realized she'd just made a mistake if she was supposed to be act unaffected, so she stood frozen, her eyes wide as she tried to decide what to do next. "D-Dillan!" she squeaked, before coughing and trying to fix her voice. "Dillan, I-" she started again, before finding his PET next to her and gasping again. If such a thing was possible, she blushed even harder as her eyes were complimented, doing everything she could to avoid just scrambling off. "Dillan, I seem to have, um, dropped by clipboard. I'm going to just... get it, so can you, um... please, just..."

Assuming that was enough explanation (it was all she could manage at the moment), Jacky bent over to pick over the clipboard, hoping that Dillan would understand the bounds of personal space and back up as appropriate. Her hands were still shaking, so even as she leaned over for it, it kept falling from her grasp. Hyde wasn't giving her any more directions (in fact, she wasn't communicating with anyone in the real world, presently).