Shopping Day Blues

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The Mitchell sisters are helping out a new arrival to the city by giving her an easy job to do.  Do some shopping and keep Kay out of trouble.  That should be easy enough, right?

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Kei's sister, Naomi Mitchell, was weaving through the traffic, following updates from a display in her dash about the latest changes in the layout of the buildings.  It was a clean vehicle, seemigly modern, and painted like a bright green taxi-cab.  A meter display and payment terminal, though neither were running.   No suggested courses were give by the display, only general directions and distances.  Still, Naomi seemed to make sense of it and suss out a path to follow to a destination.

Finally, she pulled over to the side of the street in Swift Canton to let the two passengers out.  "You two have a nice day out, okay?  I'll see you both after work.  Call if you need anything!"   Upon departure, she would would zip off, disappearing back into the flow of confused traffic, many drivers discombobulated by the fact that they didn't always know where they were going.

Kei looked up to study the building they were left off in front of.  A clothing exchange, or second-hand shop currently named 'Off The Back Rack,' where the trendy and fast paced Swift Canton residents got rid of clothes to make room for new fashions without cluttering up their living space. 

Edited by: Shush on 03/08/2015 - 18:00

"Okay, so... um, Kay? Is your sister a cabbie? She looks the part, you know?" She watches the bigger sister depart, blinking at the confusing nature of the traffic. "This traffic is worse than metro Chicago. On speed."

With a shrug she turns back to Kei, adjusting her denim jacket. "Hmmm, second hand clothing? Should be pretty cheap then, and this place looks trendy. Should be easy, pop in, get you some new stuff that'll make your sister happy, then we can just chill out and chat, totally low key you know?" 

"That's right.  They're called road guides in the City.  Instead of memorizing each and every, street, avenue, road, and transverible alleyway like a traditional cabbie in an ordinary city, a road guide has to be flexible and highly adaptable, because the City is always changing."  

"And Swift Canton is the worst."  She gestured up at the second hand shop.  "In the other cantons, large buildings like this will stay put, or at least above ground, somewhat permenately.  This buildings has only be open for two week, and back then it was two blocks hubward.  In another two weeks, it'll probably disappear.  Only the best road guides operate in Swift Canton for long."

"But enough about my sister, let us see what they have for sale."  She headed for the door and pushed her way in. 

"Oh, now you're all eager to be shopping, are you?" Mari teases the girl, trotting after her as she pushes her way inside. "So this whole city, you're saying, is always changing? It's not just a temporary thing?"

She considers for half a second, then blinks, eyes going wide. "Wait, Swift Canton. This section is where I came through! Somewhere here is my door home, that's great! Whee!" 

Before Kei can get too far away from her she grabs the girl's hands, prancing around with her in an absolutely embarrassing public spectacle. "Good to know, now let's go get you some clothes, Kay."

When attempting to pull her along in an effort to cavort about, Kei weighs Mari down like an anchor. Kei was alarmingly heavy for such a petite person.  With some effort she could be dragged about, but only after pulling her off balance.  Tiring of the display, Kei would patiently extract her hand.  "Please refrain from grabbing onto my person.  I am not accustomed to being grabbed so frivolously."

"Oof! Someone had their milk growing up..." Kei is eyed with momentary suspicion, as Mari tries on the notion that the girl is part bridge troll before dismissing that as preposterous. She's too, well, cute to be any part troll. 

"Okay, okay, fine. I'll try not to grab you, but you," she points to the smaller woman, putting on her 'serious face' for the act "have to try to open up a little. Tell me what things you like. Give me things to work with, so I can satisfy you and your sister at the same time. That's for your good too, so she'll lay off you a little."

"I like things that keep me covered.  A nun's habit or a burka would suit me just fine.  I also like tutus."  Which was true, as evidenced by the fact Kei was wearing one right now over some other ruffled dressed.  "Stripped stockings are a must."  Kei thought for a moment longer.  "Pockets and pouches are a plus." 

She held open the door.  Inside was a maze of racks hanging clothes of all styles, most of them feasibly trendy.  Long tables were islands in this sea of fabric upon which stood robot mannequins projecting stylish holographic ensembles onto themselves that were generated from garments surrounding them. 

Every now and again, a shopper would ask one of the robotic models about their outfit and they would point out it's location.  Once an article of clothing was grabbed up, it disappeared from the holographic projection and the display whirled in colors as it generated another ensemble to show off.

"Oh, and gold lame is nice.  Maybe I can find a gold lame burka to wear?"  She must be joking.

Once there was Mari's brain. Now, we have Mari's brain on Kei: broken. She gawks at the girl more than the impressive displays of clothing and technology (yeah, definitely not in Canada, though Japan would have still been an option on the table). She couldn't be serious. A burka, tutus, gold lamé? A gold lamé burka?!

"Whoa, hold on there Kay. You don't have to go medieval to be covered up. I get it, sometimes you don't want to show off everything, but... look, I'm all covered, right?" And she is, though she is showing some arm since a bomber jacket doesn't go with track pants and she's wearing a t-shirt. "What's wrong with what I'm wearing? I can guarantee we can find stuff like this in bright colors a whole lot easier than we could find you a gold habit."

Kei gives her a blythely critical once over.  "Your outfit looks no fun.  We should probably buy you something while we're here.  You at least need proper under garments, don't you?" 

"No... no fun?! From a girl who wants to wear a habit?" That sound you hear is more astonished brain breaking. Just what does Kei consider fun, if scratchy wool and canvas beat stretchy comfy synthetics on that scale? 

"Parachute pants are also a possibility, but I haven't seen any that weren't plaid.  I already have a plaid pair.  I was kinda hoping for polka dots." 

She stops to do a little twirl.  "Seriously.  Of the two of us, which of us looks more ready to have a dance off.  I mean, I'm killing it, rocking with my tutu here, but you, well... You'll probably have some difficulty with, um, 'bouncing around' and just get served." 

Kei leads further into the store where women's underwear is sold.  "We really need to get you a sports bra, at least. I don't think I can continue being seen with you as it stands now.  You'll just get all of the attention."

That's the first thing Kei has said all trip that she's agreed with. "Okay, I'll give you the parachute pants, I have a soft spot for the 80s, but did you really just say you expect a dance-off at any moment? Come on, Kay, that only happens in movies and really bad television." 

She jogs to catch up, confirming her bouncy state, shaking her head all the while. "Now you want attention? Why cover up, if that's what you're worried about? You're a good looking girl, you'd get lots of attention just dressing like me, or in a killer pair of jeans and a button up. You could even get a polka dot and gold shirt, like that one," She points to a shirt just like she said, hanging out on a nearby model. Not content to be cream with gold dots, it also glows at random points as it's modeled. 


"I like attention on my terms.  And just because my opponents don't expect it just serves me better when I break out my moves and intiate dance battle."

She was eyeing the shirt in question speculatively when she spots it on the table.  "You know, I think maybe I will!"  Kei had just put a hand on the glowing polka dot shirt when it was snatched by another woman in hip-waders and flannel; a crazed look in her eye. 

Kei and the woman in flannel lock eyes and start tugging on the shirt, pulling it between them.  "It's mine," cried the woman, "I got it first!" 

"Oh no, you didn't!"

"But I need it!  I'm tired of flannel and rubber boots that go all the way up! It'll be the center piece of my new outfit.  I neeeed iiiit!"

"Then there is only one recourse.  Dance Off!"

At her words, the lights in the store suddenly dimmed and all the robo-mannequins turned in their direction and started chanting 'dance dance dance'.  The other customers looked around in confusion until a spotlight suddenly illuminated the two dance combatants and their arena was set.  

The customers started coming closer, taking over the dance chant as the robo-mannequins started blaring music instead.

It was then that Kei started to bust a move.

She started simply with a Cabbage Patch Dance and added a hop variant on the second go around.  Her opponent countered with a Butterfly, which went over well with growing crowd. But Kei upped the ante with a Running Man, Moonwalk, Robot combo. 

The lady in the flannel, getting the feeling that she was trying to punch above her weight class, danced valiantly on.  She did the arm wave wiggle, popped some locks, and bounced a worm wiggle off the floor.

It continued like this for two more round before Kei's opponent gave up the ghost and slumped in defeat.  Kei was rewarded with the shirt as a trophy and there was much cheering for the victor as the lights came back on in the store.   The shoppers, seeing that the show was over, got back to their business.   

"Woo.  That was pretty good."  She was admiring her prize when her face fell.  "Aww, man... it's not my size."  She tossed the shirt to the flannel dancer who, in shocked surprise, thanked her and scurried off with the spoils.

"Oh, one of those things. Well, if you want someone to not expect a dance off, maybe you shouldn't wear a tutu all the time?" 

Kei's interest in the shirt is welcomed; it's loud and obnoxious and Mari privately loves it, though she'd never wear it herself. She hustles over to intervene at the first sign of trouble, only to be stopped dead in her tracks as the lights go dim and the spotlights flare. "Oh hell... is this really happening? Am I dreaming?"

A sharp pinch tells her quite certainly that no, she is not dreaming, and Kei really is out there doing the Running Man and the Robot at once. She's actually really good... okay, new plan. I bet she'd look great dressed like an extra for Grease

She offers Kei a high five for her victory, then blinks in surprise when she tosses the shirt to the other woman. "What? That was totally your size, it's supposed to be worn tight, didn't you see it on the model?" 

With a sigh she watches the flannel dancer scurry off, hip waders squeaking, then turns back to Kei with a head shake and a shrug. "Okay, so... what in the name of all the Old Ones and their little minions of insanity was that, Kay? I thought you were joking!"

Kei had to forumlate her thoughts before answering, shifting through various shirts and blouses on the table before her, holding them up to herself or in front of Mari.  "Never mind that... our little tug of war stretched it out -too much to fit on petite little me, anyway- but..."  She put the shirts down and moved along.  "It was the compassionate thing to do."

"Why would I joke about the dance offs?"  Kei just looked at Marianas like she was being deliberately obtuse.  "What?  Do they use brass knuckles where you're from?  I mean, sure, not all stores use dance combat, it's just a bit of extra fun that's a current fad in Swift Canton, but it's super-effective!"

"Compassionate for her, or the shirt? That woman was a walking crime against sensibility, or a hipster castaway." Mari chuckles, following in Kei's wake as she paws at shirts. What about that one, the black with neon green squiggles instead of vertical stripes? It looks like it's in Kei's size! 

"Kay, back home we usually just went to the next item on the rack... except on Black Friday, but sensible people don't mess with that nonsense, they just order things online and stay home to watch movies with popcorn. But Dance Combat?" She Capitalized The Words, just like that, when she spoke. "It's like I've been sucked into a movie. Speaking of movies..."

She reaches out to snag what looks for all the world like a poodle skirt, with light up stitching on the applique. "Ever thought of dressing up like you just stepped off the stage of Grease? If you're into dance-offs, might as well sucker them in with a sweet demeanour, eh?"

"I don't know.  She might have been a new arrival like yourself, or lost her wardrobe in a fire or something.  Could be anything.  Could have some sort of anxiety disorder.  I don't know.  I do know she wanted it more than me.  She kept dancing even though she knew she couldn't keep up, seeing how I'm lightning on my feet.  I don't know why, but it moved me.  Especially since I though her flannel and hip-waders looked great."  Of course Kei would think that.

She glances at the poodle skirt and keeps browsing the nearby racks.  "I've never seen Grease.  Now, if it were a corgi, I'd think about it."

"And don't knock the dance-offs.  It all started a couple weeks ago when someone tried to mug my sister.  We danced, it all ended peaceably.  Everybody won.  Compassion saw through the day and now here we are shopping to get some new duds.  Sport tops are behind you, by the by, next to the ball gowns."  She blinks.  "Oh, ha ha, I get it."

"The fire should have taken those waders, that's the ridiculous part." She shakes her head. "Oh well, not my clothes, not my problem. Now let's get hunting."

Of course the poodle skirt wouldn't be met with approval, though Mari frowns a little. "You do know these are really easy to make, and it doesn't have to be a poodle right? There's one in lime green with diamonds over there, but I think it's too big for you. And how do you love dance-offs but you've never seen the classic musicals?"

She shakes her head again, flipping her ponytail around. "I'd think those would be right up your alley. Grease, West Side Story, all those great old shows with gangs and men in tight jeans jumping around and leather jackets, dancing their way through conflicts. It's like the most perfect genre I can think of for you, right now."

"But a dance off isn't always going to work. I mean, no offense, but if you had challenged me out of the blue like that I'd probably have just punched you in the nose." She doesn't have to worry about head bones being harder than her finger bones, her finger bones grow back in the right places in a hurry. 

"Get wha-oh. Oh. Hah, I guess that is funny. Sports balls. I suppose you're right I should be looking... but then we are getting you out of that tutu and into some nice trendy neon parachute pants! Do they have a top in blue, I like blue..." 

Poor Naomi. She doesn't know quite what she got herself into, putting the pair of them together. 

"Ooh, if we can switch the poodle for a corgi, that might work.  I don't want Rex to get jealous.  But let's do the parachute pants instead."  She dropped what she was holding to go see these parachute pants.

Rubbing the material between her gloved fingers, Kei replied absently about her supposed ignorance about the musical genre.  "Sorry, but I was born in 22xx.  I probably haven't seen the majority of the movies you have.  I'm guessing you thought we were contemporaries?"  She shook her head while tucking the pants under her arm to try on in a little bit.  "That's okay, it's a common mistake.  Most people from universes with Earth as there home originate from around the turn of the 21st century.  You know, the late 20th, early 21st.  Couple decades on either side of the year 2000. "

Kei peered over at Mari suspiciously.  "Hey.... Wait a minute... You're not underestimating the power of my dancing, are you?"

"Who's Rex, do you have a dog? Do you have pictures, I love dogs!" Cats she has as little to do with as possible, and they usually return the feeling. She's been known to cause cats to flee just by walking into the room.

"Twenty two hundred and something? Good to know that we haven't nuked each other off the face of the planet by then, at least. But how did you- oh. Clearly, portals, but still... wow. Okay, I think I'm going to have to find a classic movie store or something, you'll probably love those movies." 

Kei will never know if Mari is underestimating her dance, as in that moment shiny object syndrome kicked in, and her blonde companion is swanning off to look at a literally neon top that looks like it would fit her just right. While offering absolutely no support at all. She just can't stay on task, now can she Kei?

"Yep.  He's my sweet little corgi."  Kei actually smiles when talking about her dog.  "Of course he's the best dog in the world, so naturally I have pictures of him!   I'll send them to your phone."  Within a moment, Mari's phone would announce that it as recieved new information!

"Oh, don't worry about the movies.  I've already earmarked them to watch later.  Probably some time when Naomi is home.  Unless you want to make a day out of it.  Though... hum, we'll have to get you some proper specs.  I'm going on a limb here, but I'm going to assume you don't have anything to see augmented reality with."  Kei looked around the store, but it was a clothes shop, not an electronics shop.  "We could do with just a projector, come to think of it.  Never had guests at home..."  She was sad at that realization, because she knew the reason why, and the reason was her.

She mutely accepts Mari getting distracted by something new as her tacit acknowledgement of her dance supremecy whether or not this is actually the case.  "Oh, that looks nice.  You should get it.  Along with something supportive."  She pointed to a walled off area in the middle of the back half of the store.  "Changing rooms are over there."

"Augmented reality? Wait, I think I have an app for that on my phone, shows you directions and stuff if you look through the camera function." She pauses, top in hand. "That's probably not what you're thinking though, is it? Ooh! Do you mean like, super futuristic goggles and stuff, that follow my eyes and let me look at things without anyone else being able to see it?"

She grabs a second top, this one dark blue with silver slashes, and hands it to Kei. "Don't read the tag, just trust me, this is your size. You go try that one on, I'll try this one. Now go."

She waves her hands at Kei, shooing her off in the direction of the same dressing room while she moves to look at a rack of sport tops between her and the same direction. The top she handed Kei will stretch a bit, but clearly it's supposed to. It straddles that line between garish and fashionable very nicely, and there's enough length to it that if Kei were much shorter it would qualify as a short dress.

Grumbling, Kei goes over to the changing room.  As she saw it, the shopping trip was a cover.  She didn't need any new clothes that she'd probably have to abandon at some point.  Though her sister had been sincere enough...  Well, there was no harm in indulging in light shopping and it'd help in the cover story, so Kei went in to change.

Hidden away inside the changing room, she had to first remove her denim jacket with all the buttons and after that her hidden weapon harness, holding her knife and laser blaster near her back.   Briefly revealed to the changing mirror were the long scar-like seams in her skin along her upper arms and shoulders. 

The new top didn't have long sleeves, so she kept on her long opera gloves.  Both together didn't cover all of herself, leaving a couple of inches of upper arm bare, which was not to be allowed for Kei's peace of mind.  She replaced the straps holding the weapons over her shoulders, readjusted them, and testing her ability to reach them quickly, before putting back on her jacket.

Satisfied, she left the changing room to await Mari's opinion.  She herself thought it went rather nice with her tutu.

Somehow the sneaky blonde managed  to get the drop on Kei, appearing behind her while the other woman waits. "Oh Kay, come on, did you have to put the denim back on over it?" 

Mari apparently picked up a skirt at some point, as she's now in glowing neon top (currently green), the faint outline of a dark sports bra beneath, and a long grey skirt with subtle water patterns woven in blue metallic thread. She does a little turn, just enough to flare out the hem a little, and gestured to herself. "Doesn't this look smashing? I'm eye-grabbing and classy at the same time. Come on, pop off the jacket and do a turn so I can see how the shirt fits on you."

Kei took a step back, distancing herself once again.  "You look fine, but my jacket is non-negotiable.  The shirt doesn't have any sleeves!"  She rolled her shoulders and clings the jacket closed, as if afraid Mari might try to snatch it from her.  "If you want me to change, I'm going to need another jacket."

Mari blinks, not expecting such resistance, and takes a step back herself, hands out in the classic "nonconfrontational" pose. "Okay, okay... so, what, you have super embarrassing tattoos on your arms you have to keep covered? Okay, I can understand that."

She can't, really; it's a struggle just to keep her ears pierced when she shifts, she gets by with clip on earrings when she wants to go out. She is at least trying. "Alright, so go ahead and wiggle back out of that shirt and we'll find you one with sleeves. You're far too cute to stay stuffed up in a jacket all the time." 

"I don't like to give away my secrets."  Kei pouted as she turned back towards the changing room.  "It undermines my mysterious allure."  Kei wasn't really being honest about why she kept herself hidden away.  She didn't like the truth of the matter and avoided it. 

Thinking things through, she stopped.  "I should get something to change into, before I go through all the trouble of changing again."  She says this like changing clothes was an ordeal.  "What else did you have in mind for me.  And anyway, what about you?  Are you going to choose anything else to try on, or are you just going to get that?"  She doesn't comment anymore about undergarments, merely satisfied that Mari was now wearing something

"Kay, honey, you're a little strange but I think I like you. Okay, let's look at long sleeve options, oh woman of mystery. I'm sure we can find something low key, stylish, and sure to give you an edge."

She considers her own outfit for a long moment, rocking her hips as she thinks. "You know... no. It's a cute look, but I need something more durable and utilitarian right now. Maybe if I went with leggings under a shorter skirt, decent but still skateable..." She muses, looking around the store. "Nah, go ahead and change, it's just a shirt and the long sleeve stuff looks like it's clear across the store, I'm sure they don't want us wandering in unpaid for stuff."

With that she turns to go back to her own changing room. "Oh. I think I will go ahead and pay for the sports bra, fits and I did need one. Did you see a cashier around?"

"They're over by the far wall, left from the entrances."  From a modern perspective of store layouts, it was inefficient to have the registers not in front of the exits, but the store wasn't always a second hand clothing boutique and citizens of the city did not dare to make changes to the actual structure of the buildings.  

Still clinging the jacket close, Kei went back to change again.  

Once more concealed by the walls of the changing room, Kei stripped off the jacket and looked herself in the mirror.  The shirt did cling to her figure and it certainly made her seem more mature.  Though short, her body was modelled after an adult.  Kei wasn't certain she liked that.  It was much more freeing to be seen as and act childish.  For her self-image than anything anyone else thought.

Sighing to herself, she went through the process of removing her weapon rig once again and stripped off the shirt.

"What a weird place to put them..." She shakes her head at the inefficient, strange design decisions; she has yet to actually witness a Reconfiguration, so she isn't so sure that they aren't just a joke people are using to pull on her tail. Nevermind that nobody here knows she has a tail...

She ducks back into her changing room, slipping back into her previous clothes and folding the items she isn't planning to keep over her arm to put back on the racks. Mentally calculates how long it would take her to jog over, pay for the undergarment, then get back here... Kei did take an awfully long time to change her shirt. She can make it. 

She knocks on the door to her companion's room. "Kay? I'm going to go run pay for this top, so they don't think I'm stealing it, then I'll meet you back here. Maybe five minutes?"

With that, she's off with a purpose! Woman on a mission here, don't get in her way! 

"Okay.  Just use the card Naomi gave you."  She probably had not needed to raise her voice to speak through the flimsy door that didn't even go all the way to the floor. 

Already being shirtless, it only took her a minute to redress in her old garb, but another minute and a half on top of that to rearrange her gear.  She gave a passing thought to strapping the weapons to her legs if she had to change tops in an extended montage.

Over at the registers, the lines moved quickly and there always seemed to be a clerk open and ready to help with varying degrees of enthusiasm.  Some people were selling or dropping off.  If Marianas listened in, she would overhear sales going on.  Prices seemed to vary a bit depending on the quality, brand, and/or fashion of the items, but most the sellers ended up with about a dollar per item. 

Checkout was similarly easy.  The clerks seemed to just separate clothing into a few different piles and the multiple the garments by 2 or 3 dollars and then add up all the piles to come up with a price.  The only exceptions were dress gowns, full business suits, and footwear.  Fancy clothes  would go up to 30 dollars.  A pair of shoes went for 5, dress shoes for 10. 

Mari's sports top was 2.