Teksqp Jail House

After jacking in to the coordinates given, CourseMan might be surprised to find himself inside the jail house where he'd been asked to meet Jailbird. The overall appearance of the jail was, therefore, entirely unknown to him; he could only discern details about the interior. He may also be alarmed to find that his first sight would be that of a long row of thinly spaced iron bars, but upon looking around a bit more, he'd realize he was on the right side of them. The room he'd jacked into was rather small, with several other small cages around it in a square of five. The front three were all filled, while the two on the sides were empty. At the back of the room was a small door with a glass window, perhaps leading to the main section of the complex.

Also beside the door was a woman of just above average height, with a lean but well-toned figure and clad, bizarrely, in a black-and-white striped prisoner's jumpsuit, open at the neck but not enough for anyone to view cleavage. Her hair was black, on the short side, and slightly spiked, as though cut sloppily and then slept on. Her eyes were similarly black; they were now turning away from lazily monitoring the cells and would catch the new arrival when he appeared. She would allow him to be the first to introduce himself. Seeing as she was on this side of the bars and also dressed as a "jail bird," he could likely assume she was Jailbird, the one who'd posted his mission.

The occupied cages all held strange inhabitants, but thankfully, some force appeared to be holding them all in and passive, despite their lack of shackles and the relative ease of a navi ordinarily busting his way out from iron bars... or, for that matter, simply jacking out. The first cell was so dark that it would be difficult for him to make out whoever was inside. The shadow of a woman was lying in a featureless hammock bed, but otherwise, the room appeared to be very plain, with only a toilet, small sink, mirror, and no windows or privacy from those looking in. Reflective glass on one of the walls appeared to indicate she had either a monitor for communication or a TV, but it was powered off. It was hard to tell why her lights were off, though, unless it was so that she could sleep. Heavy breathing from inside, however, indicated that she was quite awake.

The second cell was coated in gold wallpaper and red carpets, bright even before the lights shining from the ceiling. Inside, a woman wearing a semi-transparent red evening gown was busily applying make-up in a mirror, lifting a small, red eye-mask atop her head to do so. Her streaming, orange-red hair was neatly arranged into curls, framing her face so that her expression could not be seen, and falling to just below her shoulder-blades. Her skin was quite pale and also mostly visible, due to the transparency of her gown; beneath the gown, she wore fancy, red-and-gold laced underwear that would be fairly gaudy in normal circumstances, but seemed more so as it was seen through her night-wear. Her body was otherwise attractive and shapely, although not hard from exercise or labor, not befitting someone who had spent a lot of time in prison. Rather than a hammock bed chained to the wall, she had a small, single bed, which took up a fair bit of her cell but looked quite comfortable, complete with red, satin sheets and an array of gold-colored pillows. Even her toilet was ritzy, with a red, woven cover sheathing the top folding portion of the seat. An unlit monitor could also be found on the side of one of her walls, but nothing was special about it.

The third cell down was also quite barren, with only the aforementioned basic utilities; it was, at least, lit. A woman was inside... seemingly, the woman was Jailbird's twin sister, as she looked exactly the same as her host, seemingly in every way. She was even going as far as to imitate the bored lean, resting her shoulders against the cell's back wall and turning her eyes lazily and silently towards CourseMan once he appeared.

((Courser, Jacking in From -> Jenny's Home))

Eager to have something else important to focus on, Courser wasted no time following the link provided to him, and it wasn't long at all after he accepted the mission that the shadows in the room darkened slightly. Without a proper body of shadow on the outside of any cells for Courser to arise from, a small puddle of darkness formed of its own accord about his entry point and the water navi rose from it, stretching and flexing once he was in.

His first impression was of being uncomfortably close to a set of prison bars, but a step back as he glanced around proved more reassuring. A cell compound, ok that was somewhat expected at least. A few inmates, and one on the outside who looked like she was on the wrong side of the bars. Still, judging by the name of his contact, she fit the bill. Courser turned towards the only other navi on his side of things and offered her a wry grin. Dealing with a pretty girl was territory he felt much more comfortable in, and he cut a smooth figure as he stepped across to her.

"Jailbird, I take it? I heard you were needing some relief..." He tilted his head and raised one eyebrow, just a little bit flirty. "I'm here to give you a helping hand... or whatever else you're needing." He extended said hand to her. "CourseMan, but call me Courser."

Unfortunately, his attention still managed to waver across the other details of the room, and as he turned towards Jailbird, he also turned towards the cells, a neat body double sliding away in the opposite direction. While the real Courser part flirted, part introduced himself, the clone inspected each of the occupied cells in turn, fingerless gloves held neatly behind his back, underneath his coat as he paced. He only peered into the darkened cell briefly; it conjured mental images of someone crazed and violent who needed the darkness to stay calm, at least in his own imagination, and he wasn't about to disturb that equilibrium, just in case. Moving on though, the next one was an inmate who was apparently highly privileged in some way. It made him wonder why she'd still be down in a generic cell, if she had the benefits she did, so that one made for a more interesting puzzle. He strolled on.

The decoy stopped at the third cell, looking in. He blinked a few times, and back by... the external Jailbird... Courser put a hand to his head, just for a moment. He look up at his employer again, then glanced back over his shoulder, looking past his twin... to hers. As he did, his decoy turned as well, looking back towards the first Jailbird with an equally confused expression. The overlay of his split awareness wasn't playing up or anything, there just were two identical looking girls, one outside, one inside. Shaking his head briefly, Courser turned back towards his employer while his decoy returned to look at the inmate version of her.

"So then, Jailbird... before we get to the fun bit... Fancy telling me about your charges? Anything I ought to know?" He was grinning again and stretched to put his hands behind his head. While he asked, his clone leaned on the other Jailbird's bars and said something very similar, but with a slightly different meaning, given the context.

"So then, jail-bird... before we get to the fun bit, fancy telling me about your charges? Anything I ought to know?" They spoke more or less in unison, though being on opposite side of the chamber and without raising their voices, it was easy to miss the fact that they were both speaking.
The black-haired navi turned her head upon hearing her name spoken, then raised both eyebrows. "Wow, you'd think I'd ordered a stripper or something," she commented brazenly, taking a moment to look CourseMan up and down. "Sorry. No offense. You just kind of give off that vibe, with the way you dress, flashing the pecs and all," the woman explained, although that didn't seem any more comforting. "Anyways, Courser, thanks for showing up. I'm Jailbird, though you already understand that, I think. You can call me Jail, if you like. It's better than calling me Bird."

Her look of surprise returned once another CourseMan revealed itself. "Oh damn, I've got enough trouble with body doubles as it is," she sighed, looking over to the jail cell, where her other self was still mimicking her every action... or perhaps she was the one mimicking? Their actions looked to be completely simultaneous. The one on the outside chuckled a bit, in a snarky way, when he requested information from her. "If you can have fun doing this, more power to you. All three of these girls are crazy, dangerous, and uh... not great to talk to," she murmured. "Fine to look at, I guess. That might be fun for you." In a bizarre, fun-house way, both both CourseMan and Jailbird's body doubles conversed with each other, each exactly mimicking the other's speech... although, if CourseMan focused, he'd notice no actual voice was coming from the Jailbird inside the cell.

"But yeah, you need a briefing," she continued, crossing her hands behind her head and leaning against the wall. "So I'll tell you what we have here. This is a new special containment section, where I'm supposed to watch over some of the mafia's worst threats from the inside. In the dark cell over there is Shok; she's a traitor who deleted her own kind in science experiments, including a bunch of names that probably wouldn't mean anything to you. Another navi, named Mime, was blamed for those killings for a long time. More on that later. She's extremely, super powerful, but she can't do anything while she's in that cage... we're lucky that her operator is also in Mafia custody. That prevents her from doing anything too extreme, though as I said, the cage also restricts her. Anyways, she's nuts, so don't talk to her." The shadowed woman seemed to roll over in her bed, but stayed otherwise silent.

"Speaking of crazies, the next here is Gala. Unassuming name, compared to Shok, but don't let that fool you: she's as wacko as they come, and she's shown a surprising talent for killing off her own allies. It's all a game to her, literally. She throws fancy parties and kills off as many of the attendants as she can, just to get her kicks. I had the misfortune of ending up at one, but I made it out alive, with some help. Anyway, she'll talk your ear off if you let her... and uh, there's really no stopping her. So good luck with that. I mean, there's really no danger in talking to her, since she's not going to try to trick you or anything. She seems perfectly happy inside that stupid cell they made up for her."

"Finally," Jailbird murmured, breathing in deeply, "there's Mime, who annoyingly, happens to look a lot like me and requested clothes just like mine. She's an expert in imitation and also has the power to use invisible objects, so uh, she's pretty dangerous too. For a long time, she was wrongly persecuted as a suspect in a case involving killings inside the mafia... but then, it turned out she was innocent of those. Unfortunately, she injured and killed other mafioso in her quest for vengeance against those who framed her, so here she remains. We don't actually know if she's still violent, but we can't take chances," Jailbird explained, while the mime consistently mimicked her. "She has no actual voice, although I've seen her hide tech on her person that can make it seem like she does. She should be clean right now, though. If you're having a conversation with her, then we're really in trouble."

"On that note," she continued, raising one finger and then turning towards the wall she was leaning on. As it turned out, right behind her, having been dangerously nestled at the curve of her lower back, a panel was embedded into the wall. The panel had several buttons, levers, and knobs. "Hopefully you're not one of those kid in a candy store types, because I'm going to tell you what just the relevant buttons do and none of the others. And don't try the others, okay? Like... just don't... cause it'd be a huge pain for me and I'd have to kick your ass or throw you in prison. Alright? Alright," the lazy girl sighed, then placed her pinched fingers around one of the knobs. "Here, you've got the ability to apply voltage to all surfaces inside the rooms. Do this if the prisoners start to get unruly or threatening. I don't do it real often though... like, almost never. The middle one almost seems to like it and Shok's elec element so I'd be surprised if she cares, which makes it real stupid that they decided to keep her in this type of cell. Still, remember it's there. Each cell has a knob for that. Next, this lever here controls all other power to the cell, which is really just lights. Also, this lever here on each panel controls the door for that room, matching the numbers on the diagram below. How about just don't touch those at all, okay? There is nooo reason to let these girls out of their cells."

At this point it might occur to CourseMan that he was being given far more power than some stranger from the GNA ought to be, but he might do better not to say that, for the sake of his opportunity to earn pay. "Lastly, and this one's important: the maximum security button. If anything seems fishy... or you see any of them somehow making a break for it... push that button. It'll activate all of the defenses of the jail and ensure that nobody escapes. Only the person who pushed the button is safe, or someone with the over-ride key, and I have the only one. Once it's activated, you'll have to wait till I get back and turn it off, cause you won't be able to jack out... although, if you're injured and have to jack out, you won't be deleted. You just, uh... get redirected somewhere. I don't know where. Just don't let it happen, okay?" she encouraged him. "Anyway, try not to hit that if you don't need to. Deactivating the maximum security system will just be a huge pain for me, you know? When we first started this I activated it a couple of times, cause I thought Mime was tricking me and trying to get out... well, a few lockdowns and headaches later, I learned not to be so jumpy on the button. I guess I'm saying use it if you have to, but try not to, okay?" The other buttons on the console would remain unexplained, but there were many, corresponding to each jail cell. It was uncertain whether they were just unimportant or whether Jailbird actually even knew what they did.

Jailbird had been talking for a good while now, so she relaxed and kicked her foot back against the wall, staring at Mime absently. "My errand's only going to take about an hour. After that time, I'll come back, pay you, and then you can leave. If everything works out right, you'll get paid for doing nothing at all... like I usually am. And hey, even in the worst case scenario, you can just watch Gala in her underwear. Not bad to get paid for that, huh? Right," she smirked, hoping she'd convinced him. "Anyways, I gotta go, pronto. You have any questions for me before I get out of here?"

"Oh, a visitor!" Gala finally spoke up. Now that her face was turned towards CourseMan, with her mask placed down over her eyes, the navi would discover several upsetting factors he hadn't seen earlier. First, her eyes were pure white; gleefully upturned and slit, but otherwise, like glass marbles behind the mask. Her painted lips were turned into what might have been a pleasant grin, were it not for the grotesque gash running from her forehead, down the bridge of her nose, and to her slightly protruding chin, as though someone had partially submerged an axe blade into her face. The wound seemed fresh, as it was still glowing, like data was threatening to spill out at any moment. Now that her front was turned towards him, he could see similarly glowing wounds on her knee and across her chest. "I hope you're more conversational than the others here! A good party lives and dies on conversation, you know? And I do so hate to see a party die!"

"Pfft," Jailbird scoffed, blowing air out of her cheeks. "Don't engage. You'll be happier if you don't talk to her."
In split awareness surround sound, Courser began getting the quick once-over from both Jailbirds at the same time. His decoy could also hear what the real Jailbird was saying, and the relaying of sensory input had the unfortunate side effect of causing Courser to miss utterly that the one in the cell wasn't really making any sound. It was a fact that Jailbird herself would clue him in on shortly, but for now he grinned and tilted his head slightly as she looked him over. On the whole, he didn't mind the initial compliments. He took it as a compliment anyway, and buffed his knuckles against the centre of his chest casually as he listened.

"Two for one is usually a deal worth jumping on... you sure I'm not what you need, Songbird?" He smirked at her, showing a flash of white teeth. "I don't just strip, you know..." He winked, but didn't push it any further, and let her explain the more serious side of the situation. Over near the cells, his decoy had stopped copying him and instead leaned back to watch the incarcerated versions of his client with its arms folded, looking thoughtful.

The details were interesting, and Courser nodded at the appropriate places while she detailed each inmate. As he listened, though, his clone turned around, pointing at him.

"It's a house'a nuts, boss! You'll fit right in, won't you... sure you're not on the wrong side of the bars?" It chuckled with mirth, before promptly dissolving into shadows as Courser dismissed it. He tried to focus, instead, on Jailbird's briefing, but irritation at his own... problem... gnawed at him, and he missed the occasional snatch of what she was saying. Three prisoners, all crazy in their own ways. all dangerous in their own ways. Electric one was being kept in the dark, had she said why? He didn't know. Middle one liked to murder her allies. And was being kept in a jewelled cage, for some reason. Had she mentioned why she was getting such finery? He didn't think so... Last one was a mimic. Ok that was simple. Should be silent at all times, normally. He nodded to her again, keeping his features smooth and attentively serious still.

The prison systems came next, and he did a better job of listening to these, though a portion of his thoughts wandered again, this time causing a new clone to spring up leaning casually on the bars of Gala's cell. This close it was able to get a pretty decent look, both at the woman, and at her wounds in equal measure. Perhaps her last 'party' went a bit rougher than she'd expected? Back at the buttons, Courser thought he had a fairly good idea about what he needed to press... which amounted to 'not a damn thing, if he cold help it'. Although... the amount she left unexplained, with their corresponding line up to the cells; that was a little bit... candy-store.

"No questions," he began when she asked, "If you're certain you want to leave me here..." A second decoy draped one arm around the real Courser's shoulder and gave her a playful grin. "After all. I could always keep watch and stay with this lot, and keep a lady company too, if she wanted..." Really, he was just playing the flirt; Jailbird seemed quite adamant about the importance of her errand, and he was going to wager that she wasn't sneaking off for a quickie at all.

By the cell, his first clone did it's best to make sure Gala's more lively attention was directed mostly at him; it teased fingers across the bars for a moment, watching her face.

"So why're you staying with this lot, hmm? Do I need to keep a lady company here, hmm?" Similar turns of phrase and shared words marked the question as it often did when Courser tried to have two separate conversations at once, but the decoy winked at the woman who, purportedly, gave parties to die for, and grinned at her. He was curious to see what Mime did after Jailbird left, but there was probably going to be plenty of time for that.

"Nah, I mean... to be honest, that'd be kind of fun... but there's this guy I like and I'm not one-hundred percent sure whether he'd be cool with me seeing another guy," Jailbird refused, shaking her head slowly as if weighing the option of having sex with the random, unknown guy she'd just hired from the GNA. The jailer watched CourseMan converse with CourseMan, thanking her luck that at least she rarely had to deal with Mime talking to her. "Oh, yeah, and besides, I really have to leave while I've still got the chance."

Gala's eyes watched the second CourseMan's fingers trail across the bars of her cell, reaching out to lay palms against two of the rods and running them up slowly, so that her body pushed closer towards the surface but did not quite touch. "Oh, well, one of the Head Family hotshots got a little bit miffed with my latest party and decided to have me thrown in here so that it wouldn't happen again. No sense of fun, that one! You, however, seem like one who would be very good at showing a girl a fun time," she chuckled, her scarred face bearing a grin that managed to be seductive despite the unsettling features. "If you ever come across a little girl called Kismet on the net, why don't you teach her to loosen up?"

"If you ever come across Kismet, you'd do best not to mention Gala to her at all. Kissie's the one that put those scars in Gala's face. Oh, and don't call her that either. Or Leprachaun. Or Lucky. None of those," Jailbird murmured, watching Gala and the CourseMan clone converse. "But yeah, do keep her company. Seriously, if you talk to her, you're just digging your own grave, Courser. Remember: that girl kills the people she likes."

"I do nothing of the sort! I play games with them! Now, if they don't perform up to snuff, sometimes they suffer a boo-boo or two, but what's a game without risks?" Gala pouted, squinting her eyes and sticking out her tongue playfully, then giving a secretive giggle to CourseMan, as thought hey were best friends already.

"Okay, okay. Well, I'm going to go crazy myself if I don't take this opportunity to run my errand. You keep things under control here, alright?" Jailbird finished, patting the nearest CourseMan on the shoulder. "Be back in an hour." Rather than walking out of the jail house, she chose to jack out of the network.

CourseMan would find himself in luck: once the jailer had left, he was neither struck by a lightning bolt, destroyed by a murderous trap, nor killed by any sort of murderous mime weapon. The girls seemed to be stuck in their cases after all. He could hear the sound of the one in the dark stirring, and of course Gala was going on and on, but the mime remained silent. She did, however, revert to her own costume, which included a similarly black-and-white striped shirt over a black undersuit that stretched the length of her body, which, like Jailbird's, looked lithe and thin, but still with fine womanly assets, based on the snug suit she wore. Her hair remained about the same color and length, but in a limp emo style, and a black beret topped her head. Her eyes had taken on a look a bit like Gala's, white and with no pupils, and black lipstick and eyeliner became pronounced on her very pale face. Placing a hand on each of her knees, she squatted down to sit in the corner by the sink, then moved her fists up to her head to rest her chin on them. Her expressive movements seemed almost comical and definitely befitting a mime, but he would have to remember that she was, in fact, a killer.

The orange-haired girl in the middle cell became even more animated once Jailbird had taken her leave. "Oh, now that she's gone, I can't wait any longer! See the panels over there? Let's play Russian roulette! I want you to try every little button that's on those panels! Ah, the suspense is killing me!" Gala sang, grabbing one of the pillows off of her bed and squeezing it to her chest. Her legs were squeezing together like she was about to pee herself.

There were about six buttons on each panel that Jailbird had not mentioned a use for, including four circular red ones and two triangular blue ones, facing in opposite left and right directions. CourseMan had been instructed not to press them, but then, CourseMan had heard a recommendation not to talk to Gala too, and that hadn't come back to bite him yet.
Courser could only grin and shrug his shoulders as Jailbird knocked him back; it was just flirting, after all, and nothing serious. He took her warnings about Gala with a nod, even though his decoy continued to appraise and flirt with miss 'Party to die for' behind their backs, then another as she took her final leave. He managed a wryly amused parting wish as her jack-out beam claimed her.
"Have fun..."

Once they were alone, the original Courser turned back to lean against the wall, in more or less the same position Jailbird had first occupied, casting his eyes over three three cells. The eyes were intriguing; one one navi, it would have just been an unusual effect, and not worth raising comment about, but to see the same effect on two different, yet equally imprisoned navis, made him wonder. It seemed unlikely that they'd both have such a similar visual affectation, and be unrelated, so maybe it was an effect linked to their restraints? Or else a Mafia thing, he supposed, maybe.

Closer to the cell bars, his clone was dealing with Gala in a more direct sense, grinning while she described her fondness of 'games'. She didn't seem to mind his appraising eyes, though another thought occurred to him as well: she hadn't spoken up until his own and Jailbird's voices had been raised; again he found himself wondering if they were all blinded by their imprisonment. The decoy leaned on the bars, tilting his head to the side.

"That'd be too easy, wouldn't it party-girl? How about we play a little game, hmm?" He reached one hand through the bars and made a delicate come-hither gesture with two fingers. It was as good a test as any, for now. "You want me to push your buttons... I might be convinced, but you'll have to work for it... what's in it for me, hmm?"

Back by the wall panel, and one step removed from the creepy murder games, the real Courser stood straight again and glided quietly over to Mime's cell. As part of the testing, he was sure not to make any sound while he did, and simply sat down, legs crossed and with his hands on his knees in front of Mime's cell. For now, that was all he did; just sat and watched the mimic lady carefully. A lot of people had the habit of assuming that a mime's head was frequently as empty as their performances implied, but courser was curious as to what was actually going on inside the woman's head. He had been mimicking Jailbird, initially, seemingly just for the amusement of it, but now seemed bored again. 'Seemed' being the operative word, so he watched her, his own gaze steady while his decoy continued to play.

While he was occupied with both of these tasks, a third image of his handsome and charming self slipped out of the floor in front of the darkened cell, rising to stand with his hands behind his back, looking in. This decoy stood close enough to the bars that he might get a better view of the occupant, if such was possible, but the clone only took a handful of seconds to look and watch, before dissipating again without a word.

Left alone with the girls (although he was also always his own company), CourseMan began chatting with Gala, ignoring the jailer's advice in the spirit of self-amusement. "A game! I love games," the sometimes-hostess responded, pressing her hands together fondly and sighing. "What game are we going to play?" She moved in closer at his request, beaming as she brushed her hair over the back of her ear as a gesture of listening. "Oh, you're teasing me! A good party is it's own reward, isn't it? Fun is fun!" she pouted, crossing her arms childishly. "Although, I am a woman of means... What is it you want? Money?" she inquired, implying that she still had access to her wealth despite her imprisonment. That could be true, or it could just be a delusion of hers... it was hard to tell. "Status? I could refer you on up the Teksqp family ladder, if you wish!" It was hard to imagine that Gala had that kind of pull at the moment, but then, she had been given an awfully nice cell. "Or... is it sex?" she asked, lifting the slip of her semi-transparent gown slowly and coquettishly using two pinched fingers, to reveal her vibrantly red panties more clearly.

If the mime recognized that CourseMan was outside her cell, she didn't show it at first, continuing to sit bowlegged and stare into space. Her expression was so vacant, her skin so pale, that she could easily be mistaken for a mannequin if one didn't know otherwise. Once Jailbird had been gone for a bit, however, she stood back up. The long-legged mime walked up to the front of her cell, now staring right at CourseMan... and put one finger to her lips, indicating a call for silence. If he allowed her to play out her pantomime, she would turn sideways and hold her hands outward from her front, keeping the fingers turned downward. At first it looked like she was trying to act the part of a zombie, but soon, she began to look more as if she was operating a keyboard. Once that was done, she turned her head to see if he acknowledged. Once she was sure that he did, she made a show of pressing the space where one particular key would be, then turned to him and pointed to her right (his left). She then changed her hands, holding up just the index finger on her left hand and all fingers on her right. It would take some detective work to figure out what she was getting at. The only thing harder than a game of charades was charades with a potentially insane mime.

Yet another CourseMan occupied himself with the final cell to his left, observing the occupant inside and intending only a brief survey. He found, perhaps alarmingly, that the person inside the cell was no longer asleep, if they ever had been. Instead, a pair of crazed, wide eyes shined in the dark, looking at him from where the cell's occupant had bundled up in the thin sheets of their hammock bed. They hadn't been visible until he got closer. The navi inside noticed him watching, then suddenly shot to her feet, nearly stumbling into the wall on the other side of the room before correcting her. Her form was massive, both in the sense of tallness and of womanly assets, but with intimidatingly strong physique. Perhaps more notably, their blond hair was sticking out all around their head, making it look as though they'd been freshly electrocuted for an inhumanely long time. Their body was clad only in a series of brown, square-buckled leather belts, which looked vaguely as though they were intended to restrain her, but were attached in ways that looked more painful than functional, restricting only her hands behind her back and otherwise serving as clothing, leaving a lot of holes through which her skins showed through. On further inspection, one more area was restricted: her mouth, which had one large belt strapped across it. Her teeth were biting down hard on the belt in a frozen look of agony that again offset her otherwise attractive features, showing the whites of her teeth. No saliva seemed to be escaping from the sides of her mouth, however, perhaps due to practice wearing the harness.

The woman threw herself against the cell's bars, then looked back and forth wildly as CourseMan vanished from her sight. She couldn't see outside of the cell, so for all she knew, he had left... except, she still heard his voice. "Hrp mree!" she groaned around the belt in her mouth, sounding desperate. Considering she was apparently among the most dangerous of the bunch, it might be wise for CourseMan to ignore her plea. Regardless, it seemed he was going to have to really try if he wanted to go the "do not engage" route, as all three girls were now vying for his attention, albeit with different levels of urgency. Thanks to his unique abilities he would have the option to either split up and handle all three or prioritize based on his curiosity towards human suffering, masochism, or the art of mimicry.
Courser's clone continued to lean casually on Gala's bars while the original worked to process what he'd seen of Shok with his other eyes. The decoy took an appraising eye and grinned, but shook his head while the mad hostess teased him back.

"If a game is its own reward, then perhaps you'd rather play than get me to run my hands over your buttons... Oh but it doesn't much sound like that, does it? How about you play my game, and if you play well, maybe I'll do something naughty for you. How does that sound?" Back where he was still seated, the real Courser was pondering several strings of thoughts at once and trying not to stumble. It was mainly for that reason that he hadn't said anything else yet; one conversation on top of that was hard enough.

Gala had apparently seen his clone's hand gesture just fine, and the third inmate didn't seem to share the strange eye effect, which really just made the fact that two of them shared the odd trait more curious, to him. Alongside that he had to remind himself that all three women could be largely innocent, or they could not be; all three could be honest, or manipulative masterminds; they could all be worth helping, or none of them could be, and anything in between... and he was an outsider without enough information to really make that call. Still...

"Tell you what, Gala..." His clone hummed softly to itself. "I'll ask you some questions. You're going to tell me things, and if I believe you, then I'll push a button for you..." he held up a finger. "But not right away. We've got to let the anticipation build, right? We'll play, and I'll keep score on how many mystery presses you've earned. You can cut and cash in whenever you want, but if you do, the game is over. You can keep it going for as long as you want, earning more surprises, but if we play too long, then my shift might end before you get your reward. Are you game, Gala?" Grinning, the decoy raked his eyes over her form again, lacing his hands through the bars and interlocking the fingers on the other side in a casual gesture.

While his decoy was making this proposition, Courser watched Mime get a bit more animated. He followed along enough to guess that she was asking him, just as Gala had, to press something. He could understand the gestures, but there was a bit too much uncertainty for him to be exactly sure which she was aiming for. Even so, he stood. He didn't give any particular sign in the affirmative or the negative but instead walked back to where the control panel was. Assuming she was wanting him to press a button the related to her own cell, Courser leaned against the wall beside the panels and draped one hand down over it, pointing with a single finger. It seemed like she wanted one of the triangle arrow buttons, but six from either side would just be the opposite side, so he had to just play a bit of hot and cold, for now. He pointed deliberately with one finger to the button on the extreme left side of the panel for Mime's cell, being his left as well, since he was leaning on the wall, and Mime's right, if she was still facing him. He raised one eyebrow at her and tilted his head.

There was still more to be found out, however, and with a little extra focus, Courser brought out his second clone again. His initial attempt was to summon it from the shadows on the inside of Shok's cell, leaning against the far wall if he could. If, however, something was preventing him from calling in a clone like that, inside the cell, he'd have to settle for summoning it on the outside of the bars again, as before. Either way, the clone spoke quietly, barely above a whisper, and he had waited until he was done talking to Gala for a bit, so that he could keep his words clear.

"Easy there, cool it off if you can manage, miss Shok. I'll listen, but only if you can play nice." If she responded as violently as she had the first time, and Courser had been able to make use of the cell's interior shadows, then there was every possibility she'd flatten the decoy before he could say much more, but for the sake of curiosity, it was a risk he was willing to take. There was also the issue of her... attire, making it hard for her to communicate properly, but if she was capable of calming down, then it seemed she was at least able to achieve some level of dialogue. He was sure enough that her sounds before had been a request for help, after all.

"I'm used to being on the "host" side of the equation, but if I have to be the player this time, I won't object," Gala answered, returning a challenging smile. She waited patiently for CourseMan's clone to explain his game, nodding along slowly to show that she understood. "Very well! I'm an open book. Ask me whatever you want!" she claimed, looking just as giddy for the chance to spill secrets as for the chance to win the game and receive... whatever the results of CourseMan's button presses would be. Even he didn't know, at the moment.

Mime gave a quick, single nod as the real CourseMan took to her instructions, first taking up position next to the console. Once she saw him fingering the triangular buttons, however, she shook her head twice, seemingly denying that was what she wanted. She held up one finger again for his attention, then pointed again to her right (CourseMan's left). Once she had done that, she pulled her arm far into her shirt sleeve so that one hung empty, then placed the loose sleeve into her mouth and bit down hard upon it. Her eyes widened, showing off the perfectly featureless white orbs inside their sockets, as she made a gruesome, clenched-teeth face. Once she was done, she returned her face to its passive frown and again made the hand gesture with five fingers on one hand and one on the other. Once she felt satisfied, she mimicked pressing the a button on the keyboard, then watched his reaction.

CourseMan would find that his clone was summoned inside the cell easily enough; some other mechanism must have been preventing the girls inside from using their powers to escape. He did notice a certain shift in the air. If he were to think about it harder, he would realize that a barrier against navis jacking in or out encased each of the cells, as could be expected. That did nothing to stop his clone, though. The navi seemed at first startled when CourseMan's clone reappeared inside of her own cell. Like the other girls, she nodded in response to his entreaty to converse further. Unfortunately for her, she wasn't capable of speaking intelligibly with the strap in her mouth, and having to whisper would make it even worse. She twisted herself urgently, then oriented her back towards him and rested her head against the wall of the cell. Under certain circumstances he might interpret a woman thrusting her ass out at him as meaning she wanted something lewd, but CourseMan would probably notice that the restraints for her hands were locked behind her back by the belts, and similarly, the buckle for her gag rested upon the back of her neck. She wouldn't be able to speak with him in any meaningful way until she was free of that, unless she practiced her miming skills... but even then, she'd need hands.
Within the darkness of Shok's cell, CourseMan's second clone nodded softly and kept a calming hand raised. So, not just simple rabid violence after all. When it spoke, it was in a quiet tone; unless Gala, in the next cell over, had unusually exceptional hearing, she would be able to hear that there was a voice, but nothing more.
"So you can be calm then. Good. You know I can't free you just like that, but I do want a word if I can get it. Did you do what they said you did?" Aside from the fact that the decoy might not have enough tangibility to actually affect her bindings, he also couldn't hold onto it forever. The clone reached out to touch Shok on the shoulder lightly and indicate she could turn back to him, then put two fingers to the top of the strap gagging her mouth; if possible he tried to pull it away just a little bit, to see if he could let her get a clean word or two out, but the firmer he tried to tug the more chance that his decoy's fingers would simply clip through the strap ineffectively. He'd have that trouble soon enough either way, as the clone extenuated, but before it vanished completely, it leaned in closer to her ear to whisper.

"Back in a bit, Sparky. Good to know you aren't just a rabid mad thing, like they're saying. Just between you and me, I'm not sure there's anyone sane here, on either side of the bars. Boss-man sure doesn't count. Sit tight for now, ok?" The decoy evaporated into the darkened shadows of the room after that, leaving the bound woman alone again.

Meanwhile, the primary decoy was enjoying the benefits of being CourseMan's full-time copy, and some better lit eye candy as well, even if the creepy woman was all scarred up at the moment. It seemed like Gala was willing to play the game, so he grinned back at her, flashing teeth. Still holding his hands laced through the bars casually, he rolled his shoulders.

"Alright then, here we go. Tell me the story of the song-bird: What's the nature of her errand that has thrown us together like this today? Tell me the story of the sparky one: Why is she here and what did she do? Tell me the story of the silent one: would you call her malicious? Would she want to harm you, or Sparky? Tell me the story of Gala: Treated well but still in a cell, unravel that mystery for me." He opened his hands outwards leaning on the cross bar of the cell door with his forearms while giving a palms-out gesture to Gala.

"Remember, beautiful; each answer I believe is one button press, but you don't get any until you cash out. Cash out, though, and the game's over: no more from me, but we can keep playing for as long as you dare."

While this was going on, the real Courser was keeping his mouth shut, leaning casually against the wall by the control panel. He watched Mime shake off his first guess and paid attention to her next signals. So, not her own cell, and not the triangles. Alright... The next mime, he had to assume was supposed to represent Shok, since Gala certainly wasn't gagged, but her eagerness to ahve him press a button related to one of the others was what spurred the pretty boy to ask gala his question about Mime. Even so, he lifted his hand from the console and moved it along, letting his fingers point downwards over the panel for Shok's cell instead. He paused here, tilting his head questioningly again, and provided that this was what she was aiming for, proceeded to point to the red button furthest on his left. Whether she was meaning one and five, the sixth button, or even maybe the first button for Gala and the fifth for Shok, he simply couldn't be sure, so it was still going to be a certain amount of guess work. With any luck though, Mime wasn't going to get frustrated at him; after all, she could hardly get agitated at someone for attempting to communicate without words, could she? Beside him, his second clone slipped into sight, leaning on the wall with its hands behind its head.

"Unless she's just plain batty, right? Like you, hey boss?" With a small growl, courser dismissed the image, though not before he caught sight of it smirking at him.

Shok turned around to face CourseMan's clone, then answered his question once the gag was partially removed from her mouth. "No," she said simply, but went back to being unable to speak after the binding was released back into its normal position. She cast her eyes downward and writhed in frustration as she waited for the clone to return.

"Jailbird? She's a painfully common one, if you ask me. All she's spoken of her errand is that she wants to meet up with some friends and go shopping. Droll, droll!" Gala complained, pressing her fists to her hips. "A girl who lives so plainly is certainly a bore. As for 'the sparky one,' well, I wasn't there, so I can't say if it's true or not, but word is she deleted a lot of navis earlier who thought they were her friends during experiments. Namely: a mafia therapist named TherapyMan, a Techari family professional named TaxidermyMan... the first, there's another now, and another goof of a navi named TriangleMan, who was also the first of a lineage of two. Supposedly, Mime was framed for the killing by Shok. TherapyMan was actually the former navi of Shok's operator, though! Intriguing, is it not?" Gala laughed. "Whether she's the victim or criminal, either way, it's an interesting story! Word has it that after she retired from the Mafia, she actually went to work for the Blessers for a while, though obviously, that engagement's over. Do you know them? They're navis with super powers... That's all I know, though. Sort of eerie to think we're keeping that sort of navi in our prison here, isn't it? I can only imagine the kind of devastation she could cause if her operator wasn't being held as well!"

Gala grinned for a moment and let that mystery fester, before continuing her answers. "Whether Mime is or is not the one who killed the original three, no one can deny that she's since become an enemy of the Mafia. She was one of the first navis imprisoned in this jail for attacking her own kind and was its most important occupant before Shok- and perhaps myself- came along. She targeted Jailbird for a long time, since I suppose she reasoned that would keep her out of jail? Or maybe because she suspected Jailbird in the conspiracy that framed her? Whatever the case, that went on for years; there was even an incident where Jailbird was attacked by Mime at one of my parties, which, I assure you, was delightfully sordid and bloody even without that sideshow! At any rate, she is often imprisoned, but breaks out just as often. Only a fool would think she isn't dangerous," the party host grinned. "As for moi? The reports you've heard are true! I find it so thrilling to test my fellow mafioso in games of sport, to accompany my lavish parties! The mafia is composed of so many unique individuals with diverse stories and backgrounds, all kinds of powers and skill sets! Can there be any more fun had than putting them through their paces and seeing what cream rises to the top when you shake the container? Ah, it's splendid!" Gala continued, shivering with pleasure. "As for why I have this fancy set-up... Boss Oni and some of the other Teksqp fellows were kind enough to insist that, as a valuable patron of the Teksqp family, I was treated with the utmost respect here. You see? They were rather against my being imprisoned at all, but, well, when you target as many of your own people as I have! Kind of gives you no leg to stand on! Hm hm hm..."

She moved forward again and attempted to grab onto his hands, if he let her; chances were, he'd pull back. "So that means four buttons, right? You'll push four?" she asked, almost salivating. "Oh... I love buttons..."

Mime nodded slowly as the CourseMan in her view pointed towards the console responding to Shok's cell. When his hand pointed to a specific button, however, she shook her head again. Here, she pressed a hand to her face; it seemed as though something personally embarrassing had just occurred to her, as her face became a bit uncharacteristically red, but it wasn't sure if she was embarrassed for herself or for CourseMan. First off, she put her stoic face close to the bars, so that she could get a better look at the console. She nodded again, then held up four fingers on one hand. She counted down each finger until the only one left was the pinky, which was right-most on the hand she was holding up. It was possible she'd actually forgotten some details of the console up to this point and had just revised her charade, since she probably couldn't get a good look at the consoles, even from the closest distance she could manage.
So, Shok seemed at least more rational that appearances, though few would answer yes to that question whether they were innocent or not. Well, Gala, apparently was happy to admit it, but she seemed like an odd case. While he listened to the mad party-thrower giving her details with wanton abandon, the real Courser nodded softly to towards Mime, then lifted his hand and extended three fingers instead. She had shaken her head at his pointing to the one far button, though her signs seemed still to point to the row of red buttons on Shok's cage. He held his three extended fingers neatly downwards, over the other three buttons instead, then twitched them in imitation of the order Mime had indicated, maybe: one, then two, then three. He arched an eyebrow at her, questioning again to see if he'd gotten her request right this time.

Gala was busy spilling the beans as eagerly as she could get them out of her mouth, but CourseMan's clone only nodded slowly and calmly as she went on. One one hand, he had no real reason to believe anything she was telling him, but on the other, as deranged and masochistic as she seemed, it also didn't look like Gala had any real reason to lie to him, either, and she did desperately seem to want him to push some buttons. He weighted the information:

Jailbird was just plain boring, so she said. If it were true, that would be refreshing change from most advanced navis that existed these days, but he wasn't entirely convinced on that score. the gossip about the deleted navis and their like-named replacements was interesting; tough it didn't seem overly likely that she had deleted a navi and then promptly been adopted by that very navi's own operator afterwards. He wasn't completely sold on gala's own story either, but the counter to that was that particular mafia family's reputation for, well, insanity. Hmm. That Mime was the first one put here, for attacking her own kind, when Gala herself had a reputation for doing exactly that.. that didn't really feel right either. Gala didn't give him too much time to think about it but the decoy still let her take hold of his hands as she came forward; as the primary clone it was easily tactile enough to meet her grip, though if she clung too hard and risked clipping through, the clone would pull its hands down and away from her; it would probably just feel to her like him sliding his hands out swiftly, even if it did end up passing through her grip at some point.

"Well, let's see... I believe some of what you say, Gala, but not all. For that, I'll give you... Two. Two presses. You may decide for yourself which things I believe of you, and which things I don't." He tilted his head. "Shall we play on? I will ask more, if you want to earn more mystery buttons. You can cash out any time, but after you do, I won't play any more." He waited to see if the mad-woman wanted to keep playing his question game, or whether she was going to cut and run with what she'd earned so far.

To his own mind, though, the more interesting matter was now Shok, and courser refocused his mind before reforming his second clone inside her cell. As before he kept his voice low when he spoke.

"I'll keep it simple, and you can keep it to yes, no, names or numbers, ok? You know I can't actually help you right now, and it'll only make things worse if I try, but if you give me reason to believe and something to work with, I can look into some other channels for you elsewhere. We good? Ok... So, to the best of your knowledge:" The decoy reached for Shok's gag, and for each question he pulled it out enough to clear her for a brief, short answer.

"Does Mime want to harm you?" He paused for her answer, then let the gag settle back in between, so as not to tax the decoy too hard. "Who do you think killed the navis you're in here for?" Each question was asked low and quiet; at most Gala, next door, would only be able to hear a murmur. "Can anyone vouch for your innocence; a name." He tried to pick the words with care even though he was speaking quickly. "Your operator previously operated one of the murdered navis: this true?" If that was an affirmative he could follow by asking: "Does anyone think it strange that they would take under operation the navi that is believed to have killed their original navi? A name." He was running out of strength for the clone but there was time for one or two more cross checks. "Is it true you once worked for the Blessers?" He'd heard of them, but little more than that, still it was a fact to check answers on. One more. "If I were to kill one navi in this room, including the songbird, when she gets back, but I left who up to you, would you give me a name, or tell me not to?" After her final answer, Courser grinned, but didn't give any other proper response.

"Don't go anywhere, Tingles. I'll be back." The decoy faded away again with a wink in the darkness, and left Courser himself with several things to think on.

Mime shook her head again very briefly, then made a motion of swiping one finger across a flat surface to the right, then pushing down her finger. She lifted one hand again with each of her fingers but the thumb extended, and pointed again. There may have been some earlier miscommunication, but she seemed insistent on trying again.

It seemed as though the middle cell inhabitant was indeed clutching quite hard, thus, the clone was forced to withdraw before she could expose it as such. Gala looked surprised that she hadn't been rewarded full points, but her look of shock soon changed to one of mirth. "Ha ha ha! Playing hard ball against me, are you? I like it! I wouldn't have it any other way! After all, only I am obligated to be gracious!" she giggled, clutching her shoulders with her bare fingers. "Yes, please! More questions!" she begged, holding out her hands now as though she expected him to give her something. If he took them, however, she'd just try to squeeze them in the same uncomfortable, not terribly civil way once again.

Shok nodded her head again in response to CourseMan's question, although less enthusiastically, now that he'd said he couldn't be her savior so specifically. Once her lips were free, keeping her teeth clenched, she answered through their brace. "Yes..." she began, grunting as the gag slid back into place. Once he pulled it back again, she continued. "Mime." Another pause. "No." "Yes." She screwed up one eye at the next question, as though it was tasking her too much to think about it. "Everyone," she answered, presumably meaning that any one would find that story strange. "Yes." At the last question, she squinted her eyes again, this time with something like anger; her already strained grin became more so, tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Mime," she answered, showing no hesitation. When he left, she gave another long moan from beneath her gag, sounding as though the encounter had left her in despair.
From where he was leaning against the wall of the prison, CourseMan could feel his mind getting taxed and his brain growing tired. Maybe Jailbird had been right about not trying to wrap his head around the story, but even without the entertaining game of intrigue, he was having a hard time keeping his layered awareness in order. Speaking from only one location at a time helped, as did keeping each clone's individual focus, as well as his own eyes, on different things, so that there was as little direct overlap as possible... but even so, it was starting to get to him. He shut his eyes briefly, after watching Mime's latest attempt at communicating.

So... Shok thought Mime wanted to harm her, and still believed Mime was the murderer, or claimed to. No-one to vouch for her, though, nor even any name he could keep in mind regarding the oddity of her situation. It seemed that Gala was mostly interested in telling the truth, which was a relief, so he could probably believe most of what she said. It did seem likely that Mime wanted to harm Shok, since the only other reason she'd be trying to get him to push buttons for the other woman's cell would be if they were secretly in league, which seemed... far fetched at this point. time was passing, though and he needed to respond. Gala first.

Though the original Courser still had his eyes closed for a moment, the decoy hadn't wavered from appraising Gala's enthusiasm. Now it put its hands back to the bars, though high up, well above both of their heads as he leaned in, showing off the open top of his shirt more clearly.

"What'll I ask you then... Let's see... Tell me a Tale of Time: Do any of the chains upon you three expire, or is it indefinite holding... when do you think you'll be free, miss Gala?" He turned his head to the side slightly, watching her from the corner of one eye. "Muse to me about Murder: If I were to consider just outright offing one navi in this room, but leave the choice of it to you... Would you tell me a name, or tell me not to do it?" That question... well, he was pretty darn sure Gala wouldn't tell him not to, and he probably couldn't use her answer very much either way, all told, but it might still be interesting. "Help me help some havoc: If I wanted to harm or kill Sparky over there, how should I do it? Is there a reason her lights are off, or anything else I can fiddle with that you know would be bad for her?" He looked Gala straight on again and brought his arms down, folding them over his chest instead. "Last question for this round: Sell me on the skin-side; Sparky's operator is being held by some other mafia on the fleshy side of things, right... so, what's that situation like, if you know anything."

The main decoy waited for its answer and Courser himself tried again with Mime's charades. Her action put him more in mind of pressing one of the levers than of pushing a button, this time, but it was hard to reconcile that with her other gesture. If it wasn't right this time, he'd probably just need to bite the bullet and question her more directly about what she wanted. For now, he shifted his arm and moved to indicate the set of levers on Shock's panel. These ones, at least, he had been told the function for, so it would be easier to judge the woman's motive if it was what she was after. Maybe. His first gesture was simply to the levers in general, to see if that was what she was after. If it was, he moved his hands to indicate the switches one each in turn, to see if any got a positive reaction. Even if it was the switches she was getting at, there was still the question of whether she wanted each of them pressed, or one of them done multiple times, but with a little luck a simple series of nods or shakes should clear the matter up.

Back in the dark, Courser's second clone reformed, but the thoughts were still somewhat scattered. He reached for the gag.
"Last round of questions, I think, then I'll see if I can't work out what needs doing, ok? Here we go..." visibly, the clone took a deep breath, and some part of courser's awareness, scattered somewhere between his varied sets of perception, wondered where he'd had the time or focus to add the extra affectation. The thought darted away before he could notice it.
"Is there a serious reason why your lights and power are off, more important than 'you want to sleep' or anything like that? If so, is it helpful or harmful to you for it all to be on, good or bad?" With luck, she could keep it to two words for him. He moved on quickly after giving her enough of a chance to answer.
"Do you really think I should help someone who would condone the murder of another?" That one was more curiosity while he ordered his thoughts, but he still did his best to pull back the gag enough for her answer anyway.
"Does anyone here know more about what each of the control buttons do that the songbird told me. If so, who?" He wasn't sure what kind of answer he was expecting from that, but even if Shok claimed to know them all herself, he only intended to nod and move on.
"Do you know why Mime wants you dead?" If that one was actually a yes, then he'd have to ask her why, as well, and try to give the lady more time to talk. Hopefully she could keep it concise, if so; if she did, and he had to ask the why of it, the decoy was going to have to hold back the gag for a longer stretch of time, and it was going to take most of whatever time he could spare her.

Out of time and tangibility, the clone began to give out again. He didn't really have the time or energy to offer Shok any extra reassurance this time, but he had said he'd see what he could do after this round, to being with. The question was, what was he going to do with the information he gleaned?

Gala swiped outward as CourseMan drew his arms back, missing wildly, then clasped them instead to the metal of the cage and laughed. "More questions! Oh, I haven't heard anything about us being let out any time soon. This is sort of a last stop for us girls, you know? I might get out eventually if my friends pull the strings just right, but, as far as I know, Mime has no friends and Shok sort of lost hers when the NetMafia internal investigator determined that she was the one that killed those other navis," Gala chuckled, seeming confident. The possibility of a future release might explain why she was in such good spirits, but then, her insanity could just as well. "Musing about murder, my favorite pastime! I would deeefinitely choose Shok. Don't you think she's a little too full of herself? The Blessers are a group that claim to be gods or something, aren't they? Anyone who would join a group like that deserves their comeuppance! On the other hand, Mime is so clever when it comes to her murder attempts, I can't hate her. And killing Jailbird would just lack any impact... She's just so dreadfully dull."

CourseMan had more questions to give and Gala had more answers to eagerly spill. She ran her hand through her hair idly, combing it over one shoulder with her fingers. "Oh, I'm glad you've asked! I thought about it a lot. You see, one of the buttons on that panel... I don't know which one, isn't that thrilling? But one of those buttons will transport the navi in the cell directly into a one-on-one discipline session with KevlarMan, a high ranked Teksqp member known for being even battier and more likely to act homicidal towards his comrades than me! Think of it as the max discipline level. I can't imagine whoever's sent there will live~" Grinning from ear to ear, she did a giddy little dance, pressing her fists to her chin and wiggling from side to side, while more questions came. "Her lights are definitely off for a reason! They've been off ever since she came in. If I had to guess, maybe she could gain some power from them? I'd be careful turning them on, at least... well, I wouldn't, but someone more rational than me would be," she joked. "As for what else might be bad, I'd say either the max discipline... or you could turn the heat in her cell up suuuuper high or suuuuper low using those triangle buttons! I know that, at least, because I asked Jail to make it a little cooler in my cell!"

Her eyebrows raised at the final question; she tentatively fingered the hem of her nightie again before CourseMan clarified. "Oooh, that skin side! Well, unfortunately, I wasn't there when Shok and Electra Blatchley, her operator, were taken in. From what I hear, Fergus, Kissie's operator, is the one who took her in. Sounds like he's just as tough with his captives as Kissie is with hers, hm? That's how I got these lovely souvenirs!" she giggled, running one finger down the grotesque scar lining her face. CourseMan didn't know who Kissie was, but it didn't seem like Gala was going to explain that one further; she continued rambling on. "I believe the impression was that Electra was acting very guilty at the time. I would not be surprised at all if she aided Shok in eliminating TherapyMan herself! I hear she's a bit wonderfully screwy herself."

Mime seemed to finally catch on to the easiest way to instruct CourseMan; this time, she would continue shaking her heads until he hovered his finger over the fourth button on what was presumably Shok's panel. Once he put it there, she started nodding enthusiastically, clenching her black lips tight and grasping onto the bars of her cell as hard as Gala had a moment ago. It was safe to say that was her affirmation.

Another Q&A session went on in Shok's cell, with her barking quick answers out of a dry throat each time the gag left her mouth. "No, they want to blind me," she answered regarding the lights, keeping her teeth clenched. "Yes," she continued the question of her judgment of his character, though perhaps because it was the only way she could keep the conversation going the way she needed it to. "Not sure..." she murmured at the third question. It was one of the first she hadn't been snappy or decisive on. "Yes," she concluded, looking angry as she was reminded of Mime, who she held a deep grudge against. "Loose ends."

If CourseMan was conscious of time, he'd realize he'd spent somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes interrogating the women by now. There was no telling when Jailbird would come back; she'd estimated an hour max, but it could be less or more.
Finally, Courser found himself making something close to progress with Mime's request as she eventually shook her head all the way through the console until he arrived at the inner-most red button on Shok's panel. Gala was spilling the beans as fast and eagerly as she could pour them, to sate her own need for double-blind masochism, and Courser was getting some idea of what some of the unknowns were, though that still left a lot that he had no idea about. One of the reds was the 'maximum discipline,' according to Gala, which sounded like it might be more of a warrant to execute. The arrows were just environment control and... Gala and Shok's account of the lights disagreed. Another thought sifted through his mind, darting between the different fragments of his awareness. Mime's motive for harming Shok didn't seem to add up altogether either. More little pieces that didn't quite make sense with each other, and more and more it felt like things weren't adding up the way they were made to look like.

The decoy in front of Gala's cell stretched a little against the bars, arms still high, then dropped one of them to buff at his chest for a brief moment, then casually undo three more buttons on his shirt front, revealing a well defined and tight-looking mid section that one could probably break a board on, if so inclined, yet without being over-defined or bulging. He sighed softly.

"I'll give you three for those, Gala. That gives you five presses if you cash in now. What do you want me to do...? Cut and run, or play for more?" If Gala was drawing the parallel with him, she'd need to earn two more 'buttons' before his shirt was completely open... though it was anyone's guess where things went from there.

Shok said they just wanted to keep her blind and in the dark, but at the very least that meant that her not being so was more dangerous. Galas thought it might actually help her in some more tangible way, but didn't know. Shok wanted him to kill mime, Gala wanted him to kill Shok. They both didn't do it, they both thought the other did. Mime seemed to know what the buttons did, at least he one she wanted pressed, but the one she knew wasn't the same as the ones Gala did. Shok didn't know any of them. Thoughts piled on top of each other in his mind as he tried to keep it in order while still holding a conversation and maintaining the split in his awareness. The decoy by Gala turned around, and briefly, Courser felt dizzy as he caught himself looking at himself again.

"Hey, don't blow a fuse there, boss. It's not that complicated you know." It turned back to the bars and grinned for Gala, and Courser fought off the urge to banish it. He was right, he just needed to sort it all out one piece at a time. Mime was the key for now. He locked gaze with the silent navi, finger still hovering above the button she wanted him to press, then called in his second clone. It appeared, fading in swiftly directly behind the seated woman, leaning over her shoulder with its lips just by her ear.

"I'll think about it." After that quick phrase, whispered at a volume only Mime herself was likely to hear, the decoy dispersed again. Courser himself walked back over to Mime's cell and sat down directly in front of her, crossing his legs.

"Now that I know what you want, you're going to tell me why. If you play nice, I might just do what you want; it's no business of mine, after all." He paused, seeming to think, then leaned forward a little closer to the bars, putting his hands on his knees. "Let me rephrase that..." This was quieter. "Give me the answers I want, and I will do what you want in return. I'll keep it simple, don't worry. Do we have a deal?" He was really hoping that Mime would play ball as well; it wouldn't be too hard to ask the questions in a way she could communicate easily, and he didn't even really need to keep it to yes or no questions, provided he gave choices she could indicate, but they still needed to be quick, by his guess. Hopefully the promise of having someone outside pressing the buttons she wanted would be enough leverage.

The play on words seemed to amuse Gala as much as anything did, causing her to grasp hold of the bars again while giggling wildly. "Oh, teasing me, are you? I'm not the type to cut and run, my friend! We'll play to the bitter end, just the way I like it," she encouraged him. It was hard to say where she was looking, given that she had no pupils to follow, but safe bets were that she was staring at his abs right now. He might be surprised that she was willing to cut it so close and run out of button presses, but on the other hand, she's already shown that, to her, the game mattered just as much as the reward. "More questions, please!" she begged again, thrashing her head back and forth briefly like a child who's had too much chocolate.

Mime continued to be quite the opposite of Gala, except for the part where they clearly wanted to murder people. While pulling an expressive reaction from the lady in the center cell was as easy as pulling up a blade of grass, getting one from Mime was closer to pulling teeth. She turned her head briefly to look over her shoulder at the CourseMan that appeared behind her, but was too slow, saw nothing, and instead turned back to the cell bars, resting her cheek upon one fist and looking like a sad clown from a painting. She nodded slowly as he presented his terms, which were much the same as he'd given the others.

Shok continued to writhe in her cell, seeming more frustrated than ever now that CourseMan had left her. She seemed very desperate for his help, although it was hard to tell which was her top priority: his killing off her tormentor, Mime, or his letting her free.
Galas wanted to keep playing and that suited Courser just fine. It wasn't his fault if she kept answering questions right up until JailBird got back, after all. Although... Now the question became, what could he ask her that would still seem useful? He'd gotten as much relevant information out of her as he thought he could, really... Beside him, the decoy drew a long breath and reached a hand inside its shirt to rub one hand distractedly over a side of his chest and down, casually pulling the tails of his shirt out as he did, as though by accident.

"Just you leave sexy over here to me boss. She and I got something of an understanding going on. Don't you worry your pretty head about it." It turned back and winked to Gala with a smirk.

"So... Let's see... Three inmates, three cells, three buttons I just don't know... We suppose one might kill of someone here... But you each want me to do for someone else. How is a man to choose. Should it be Shok then Gala then Jailbird... should it be Silence then Songbird then Sparky. you know what one of these buttons do... maybe I should just press them all? Oh but that would be cheating, wouldn't it?" Some of his words and phrases were getting mixed up between Courser and his clone, overlaying their phrases in odd ways, but he tried to keep it together. He held up a finger to indicate his first game question.

"When you cash in, and I press all of your mystery button presses... would you prefer it is I pressed them utterly at random, with my eyes closed, so I might hit any button on any panel, or would you prefer me to put a limit of some sort; say, do them all on Shok, or Mime's panel, or your own?"

"Next... I wonder if you're the sort to do something nice for a guy who sprung your cage and let you out of there..." As the decoy spoke, one hand rubbed the centre of his chest briefly, then flattened out and pointed the fingers down, sliding until his palm crossed his navel and his finger tips brushed his belt. With his other holding the bars high above his head, and stretching his torso out nicely, there was little chance that Gala would miss the implication of the question.

"If I was to flip a switch and let a lady go... who would you say I should free, Gala? Excluding your fine self for the question." He grinned at her, flashing a set of white teeth and a twinkle in his illusory eye. "Or maybe I should let them both out, and watch them kill each other... what do you think?" He'd leaned in a little closer there, but was still making sure to keep himself out of Gala's clutches if she made any other moves to grab at him.

Sitting in front of Mime, the real CourseMan was doing his best to ignore his clone, for now. He had serious questions to ask, after all. He nodded in return to the other woman's agreement, then held out both of his hands to the either side in front of him.

"Suppose I killed off someone here. Just indicate:" He waved the fingers on one his left hand first. "Shok," Then the right. "Or Gala." Provided she indicated a hand for him, he turned his palms over once then back again. "Same question, Shok," left again, "or JailBird," right. He flipped his hands over and back again. "Gala," left, "or JailBird," right. That asked, he kept his voice low and flat as he continued. his hands dropped, since the next thing was more of a yes and and no set.

"You know what some of these buttons do. Do you know what the one you told me to press does?" He had to assume that was a yes, since she'd asked for it specifically and continued with his next question.
"Is it the maximum punishment one that murder party over there was talking talking?" His hands lifted up again as he continued the fast-paced interrogation. Indicating his left hand, then his right for the first of the next options.

"What about the other three red ones. Each in turn from the one you pointed at, to the other side. Positive or helpful effect," his left hand, "Harmful or negative effect," his right. Then he put both hands crossed over on his breast. "Neutral or indifferent effect." Finally, he raised two fingers to a point just above one eyebrow and tapped twice. "You don't know." With the communication defined, he put his hands out flat again ready for Mime to give her indications.

"Let's start with the red button just next to the one you showed me." After waiting for her indication he went on. "And the third one. And the last one." A slightly mischievous thread in his mind made him ask one more question. As he did, his hands came together in front of him, clear in sight. To begin with they laced together casually.

"I wonder if you're the sort to do something nice for a guy who sprung your cage and let you out of there..." As he spoke, his right hand made a curled fist, with the fingers horizontal and the thumb curled around, while his other hand cupped over the top of it, palm over the fist with the fingers spread out as he tapped it a few times. It was a subtle check to see if they could switch to a more reliable form of communication; Rachel had equipped him with a variety of databases to help communication, it had been an extra credit thing, mostly, but now he was glad of it for including a few of the more common dialects of sign language. If Mime recognised the sign, it would almost certainly get a reaction, he hoped, and then the could just switch over and question her properly. As an added bonus, talking with his hands for one of them would stop him from messing up and over-lapping his words with the other. Probably. He knew he'd need to get back to Shok soon, but he wanted one more set of information from the others before he dropped in on the bound woman again.

"Ooo, all of the buttons! Or at random! Or... or left to right! Yes, do left to right. I want it drawn out, nice and slow, a nice order of progression!" Gala finally decided, biting the length of one of her index fingers as she tried to contain her excitement. "That's the only logical way to do it, darling! After all, my games wouldn't be that much fun if I just turned on every trap in my house at once," she explained, though one had to question how much logic factored into anything she said. "I will tell you one thing: don't press the fourth button on every panel at once. If you do, you'll throw all three of us in with KevlarMan, and then we'd outnumber him three to one! I don't know how great he is, but I doubt he could take all three of us at once, could he? They say Shok and Mime are both rather powerful, when unrestrained, though the time in here and being cut off from their operators ought to have weakened them."

His next question caused her to return a confused stare for a moment, before breaking into some terse, scoffing laughter. "You're asking me if I'll, ah, blow the old trumpet for you, is that it? We're friends, aren't we? You don't even need to ask, do you?" she giggled shamelessly, flapping one hand. "I'd be perfectly happy to do that without being let out of my cage, you silly man! Just point me in the right direction~" There was another question to go, though; she pressed one finger to her serrated lip thoughtfully. "Hm... Oooh! That's a wonderful idea you had. It definitely sounds best," she agreed, nodding enthusiastically and placing her hands back onto the bars. "Mime's creative offense against Shok's storied electric powers! That would be something to see, for certain!" the middle prisoner exclaimed.

Mime used the left hand to respond to the real CourseMan's first inquiry, implying Shok is the one she'd want to see dead. The answer followed again for the second question. She lowered her thin eyebrows for a bit at the third question, then indicated left, implying Gala. She nodded in response that, yes, she did know what the fourth-over button on Shok's console does. She rolled her head a bit, then nodded it, confirming that it was indeed the maximum punishment button. The next group of questions were all answered with a tap of the eyebrow, as she seemingly indicated she didn't know on all of them. Before the next question, she gave him another charade, but it would be a bit difficult to interpret. She held up her left hand, as he'd been asking her to do to indicate positive, then pointed to herself. She then pointed to the wall of the middle cell with one thumb. Finally, she tilted her head and made the left hand motion again. Her face remained inexpressive, offering little help.

She raised her eyebrow at the last question; it became clear she probably wasn't familiar with sign language, despite her nature as a mute. That, perhaps, raised the question of whether she just really liked charades and saw no reason to abandon them for sign language, or whether the game was part of her gimmick, or perhaps it was just a makeshift solution, implying that she hadn't always been mute and hadn't had the opportunity to correct her lack of knowledge on sign language. Regardless, his eyes and his voice had said the same thing in a way she could understand, and her face reddened a bit uncharacteristically as she realized what he meant. She shrugged, which seemed like a noncommittal answer; either she was reluctantly agreeing, hadn't made up her mind yet, or, likely, thought that if the cage was open, she wouldn't have to worry about that when the time came. Whatever the case, she didn't look hot and ready like Gala did.

Shok was clearly becoming antsy with the lack of contact; he heard a sound coming from inside her cell, a persistent thudding that he would eventually come to recognize as her repeatedly smacking the side of her head against the wall.
Despite getting something of a blush out of Mime, Courser was left to conclude that she hadn't understood the sign itself, and just gleaned the implication from his words; if she's understood the hand sign, the the reaction would have come when her eyes crossed it, right away, and he felt sure it would have been a stronger reaction, given that he'd used the cruder way of making his suggestion. Jenny would probably scold him for using the knowledge that was intended to help people communicate, to say things like that... but then, the signs existed because they were needed. Disabled people liked to do certain things just as much as anyone else, after all.

The blush put him in mind that her shrug was probably more related to not really wanting to address a question like that, though he also found himself thinking that if she were truly a dishonest person, she would probably have bitten the bullet and make an assurance or promise. Food for thought. While he was thinking this, something that Gala had said broken through his thoughts from his decoy's perspective. Gala had warned him about pushing all three punishment buttons at once. That meant she'd lied before. No, wait. Maybe not. He blinked once or twice, his thoughts racing to keep up without giving any of his new friends too much down time. It meant either that she'd lied... or that she was somehow privy to the information exchange happening between himself and Mime. That was a worrying thought.

While Courser's mind tried to catch up, his clone grinned and stretched a little more, deliberately showing off his goods for Gala, then casually flicked open the last two buttons on his shirt. He rubbed his middle for a moment, then tapped a few fingers on his belt buckle, tracing the wave pattern on his navi symbol, before reaching underneath the belt to pluck the outer button on his pants open as well. The belt was still there, of cours,e and besides that one button, there was still the metal catch, and the inside button, but if if he was trying to play innuendo chicken with Gala's questions... he was running out of things to undo.

"Three for three, sexy... that makes eight, but what comes next?" The decoy let his voice get a little bit deeper, and just a touch more husky as he spoke. "You're going to really need to make these next ones count, if you want to keep playing... unless you want to cash up and take your reward now, hmm?"

Next cell over, Courser nodded slowly to Mime, setting his other concerns aside while he tried to put together her latest charade. With his head already toying the concept of Gala and Mime being connected in some way, this new set of actions made him immediately think of solutions along those lines, to the point that he couldn't think of anything else. She might be saying that, if Gala was happy, then she was too.. or that whatever was good for her was also good for Gala... or maybe that She and Gala were the good ones?

"Well, she might be saying that they're both positively loopy, huh boss?" Slipping into site against the back of Mime's cell, the second clone was leaning on the wall with its arms folded, looking directly back at Courser over the woman's head, and the real navi struggled to break to gaze while his feedback looped. "How do we look behind bars, hey? Suits us, don't you think? Think you might have to get used to it sooner or later, mate..." The decoy faded away leaving Courser himself to consciously unclench his teeth. He leaned in, trying to force his thoughts back to something that he could press the mute woman on.

"Your eyes are the same as Gala's. What connection is there, and if you want me to help you before the songbird gets back, you'll be honest." His voice was as quiet as it had been before, but there was an extra element of severity to it now. "Connection that favours you somehow." That was his left hand. "Connection that favours Gala somehow." Right. "Complete coincidence, and no connection you know of." That was putting hands over his breast again. "Something imposed on you both from from a third party." His hands moved into holding his own shoulders for a moment, forming a cross over his chest.

He'd put off talking to Shok for long enough, but CourseMan was still trying to work out what else he could engage her with, when she didn't seem to have as much useful information. Even so, he drew a breath and let it out slowly while he waited for Mime to respond, and summoned his second clone back into Shok's cell.

In the darkness, the clone appeared on the opposite side to where Shok was growing agitated and immediately called to her in a soft voice.

"Hey, easy there, easy... calm down sparky. Can't rush these things you know." With any luck, the larger woman would get herself under control again, though courser caught himself thinking that if she could, then, restraints and bindings aside, he seemed like the sanest person amongst the three of them. Or maybe that just made her the most dangerous? Crazy people weren't a problem; the danger was when you had an insane person who was also brilliant, because then you never knew. An errant thought drifted through his mind, in a way that he was sure would have wormed it's way into snarking at him through on of his clones, if he wasn't already stretched to his limit; He was clever enough to keep it hidden and act normal, wasn't he? wasn't that just more proof? He pushed the thought away.

"Now then... Let's get to the business end, ok? Say I want to help you... what do you need me to do? And if I let you out of here, before songbird gets back, what're you going to do?" Provided she was calm enough to let him, Courser's decoy lifted both hands to ease her gag belt away enough to get some words out. He tried to hold it long enough for her to answer fully, but after a while the decoy phased through and the belt slipped back. He ducked his head, then wiggled his hand at her apologetically.
"Sorry. Clone fingers." After shaking both hands out, he tried again, giving her long enough to finish whatever else she was saying, then nodded, but that was about all he had time for this round. He'd need a few moments before he could call the decoy into service again, as long as he was still busy keeping is primary occupied with Gala.