By Logan Darklighter and Mathieu Roy

"I dunno," said Raven, examining the look of the blue skirt, matching blouse and jacket she was trying on. "It looks a little, uh, conservative? I feel like going on the wild side today." She turned to look at how her profile looked. "And I'm not sure it does the best job on my figure, you know?"

"Hmmm, you're right," said the attendant, a petite, red-haired woman who was about Raven's age. No telling if she really agreed with Raven or if she was just applying the principle that the client was always right. Given that this was the third outfit that Raven had rejected so far, her calm was admirable.

"Let's find something a bit bolder," said Raven. She started towards the dressing room, bumping into Lora on the way. "Found anything you like yet?" she asked.

Lora was carrying in a bundle of clothes herself, "Maybe. I think I've found a couple of really interesting combinations. Let you know in just a sec!" She said as she scooted into a stall and closed the door behind her.

Raven shrugged and accepted a new outfit from the attendant. She looked at it a bit doubtfully, but she nonetheless headed into the stall next to Lora's to try it out. She came out at almost exactly the same time as Lora.

They both stared incredulously at each other's outfits.

Lora was dressed in a short bolero styled dark blue jacket with the sleeves rolled up to her mid forearm. The top of the jacket had pads that accentuated the width of her shoulders and the narrowness of her waist. Low cuffed boots of a color that matched the jacket adorned her feet. The rest of the outfit consisted of a black leather bodysuit that hugged her like a second skin and ended in a bustier styled top that left her dˇcolletage prominently framed between the open sides of the jacket. A zipper ran from the top of the suit between her breasts all the way down to the crotch. A two-inch wide ribbon choker topped off the outfit. She looked like a mild bondage wet dream.

She put her hands on her waist and cocked her hips in a pose and said, "You think this is too much?"

Raven looked her up and down, flushing a bit. "Uh, um... maybe..." Recovering her composure, she grinned and elaborated, "It really depends. How many slobbering guys do we have to pry off you in an hour before it becomes 'too much'?"

Lora laughed and said, "I don't know. Isn't it the point to find that out?" She grinned wolfishly. "Besides, you're one to talk. Yow."

Raven twirled around to let Lora see more of her own outfit. It consisted of a sheer, see-through blouse that bared her mid-riff and left Raven's black bra visible through the fabric, a thigh-length black miniskirt, black leg-hugging stockings, and a pair of low, white leather shoes. "What do you think? Went too far in the other direction, don't you think?"

"And which direction would that be? That blouse and bra makes it look like you're showing off more than you really are. It's sort of cute and sexy at the same time. Suits you. It's missing something though. Hmm." She tapped her chin thoughtfully as they both looked at each other in the full-length mirrors.

"Well, I do have my locket." She pulled the silvery, raven-shaped pendant out from under her blouse and laid it out over her chest, where it would attract the eye to her breasts. "But that's really not enough, is it? Maybe an earring or two... You know, a bit of jewelry might soften up your outfit, too."

"Good idea. A bracelet or two and earrings will do it."

"What do you think? Should we go for the discrete stuff?" She looked at the pair in the mirror and shook her head. "Naah. We need to be a bit outrageous or it won't get noticed."

Lora nodded, "True, true." Then looked at Raven. "Well that's one outfit! Now to see about some others!" And she went back into the changing room.

Raven laughed and turned to the attendant. "I think I'm going to keep this one." The redhead brightened considerably at that. "Let's see if I can find something else interesting. Something more colorful?" The pair went to rummage through the store, picking clothes, the redheaded attendant commenting on how well this or that tone would set off Raven's complexion or match with her hair. By the time she had a few complete outfits to try on, Lora was coming out of the changing room.

Raven's eyes grew wide again. Lora was wearing a dark red spaghetti-strap dress that only came down to her upper thighs, stockings, and high heeled black shoes with straps wound around her upper ankles. She had kept the jacket from the previous outfit on and it went surprisingly well with the dress.

Lora said, "What do you think? This one I definitely need some jewelry to go with, right? Assuming I've got that, how do I look?"

Raven grinned. At times it was hard to remember that Lora's body was entirely artificial. The technical precision of her skin was awesome, too, but more than that, Lora inhabited it like Raven inhabited her own body. Lora's conversion wasn't just an extension of herself—it WAS herself. "Cruel. Very, very cruel, to all the poor guys you're going to encounter. I don't think there's any part of your figure that isn't flattered."

Lora laughed and put her hand to the back of her neck in embarrassment, "Well, thanks. Gee. Guess I'm laying it on a little thick, eh?"

"Hey, if it's fun..." Raven chuckled. "Besides, guys like it thick."

Lora's grin turned from embarrassed to gleefully conspiratorial, "I thought we were the ones who were supposed to like it thick..."

Then she turned so innocent looking, she could have been wearing a halo. She held that pose long enough for Raven to completely break to the point where she had to grab onto a rack of clothes next to her to keep from falling over.

"Lora, you're killing me! That was soooo... so bad!" She laughed some more, uncontrollably. Settling down a bit, she added, "Ooh, good one. And it matches your outfit so well, too."

Lora had kept admirable control of herself until Raven had started laughing, but was now giggling herself. "Well, I guess I look like a 'good little bad girl', right?"

"With lots of bad and very little good, yeah. Okay, my turn." She headed into the dressing room. When she emerged, she had a snug, sleeveless red turtleneck top, the locket gleaming brightly over it, and a dark blue skirt that went down to the knees, but was slit along the sides, and matching heels. "Well, it's more colorful," she noted.

Lora nodded, "Simple, almost elegant. But you can move in it and it looks comfortable."

"I like it. I think I'll take it, it's something I can wear nearly everyday. But it's not nearly outrageous enough for our purposes here." She looked at Lora. "You're good at this. Any ideas?"

"Outrageous, huh? Hmmm... you know... with that hair, you could really go for a "Goth" look if you want. Heavy eyelashes and a painted on little design starting from the eye like one of those Egyptian goddesses, you know? Make yourself really pale everywhere else and add a whole bunch of black leather and chains. Maybe an Ankh necklace or something.

"Goth?" Raven looked at herself in the mirror. "You think? Isn't that going to be a little creepy?" She grinned. "Well, I guess I'll just have to try it."

"Sure! I could be wrong, but I don't think so. Give it a try and see what you think."

The pair went to scour the store in search of new clothes. Soon enough, Raven was in front of the mirror again, modeling a pair of tight, black leather pants, a tank top of same fit and material, a chain that served as a belt, and a large ankh pendant on a thick chain about her neck. "Hmm, Lora, even without any makeup that's kind of nice," she said. She turned to the cyborg. "What do you think?"

"Looks great! You know," Lora squinted, imagining something, "I bet I could modify that earlier outfit—the one with the bodysuit—and I could do the same thing. We'd sort of be counterparts to each other. How's that? Color my hair to match yours, or maybe a dark red, like a henna color. Two Goth chicks out at a club. That'd be fun!"

Raven only smiled mischievously in reply.

Whoever had said that the Jinsei Kage was a babe magnet had obviously never driven in one. There were very few women who paid any sort of attention to Lora's car as it drove down Neo York's Strip. On the other hand, there were plenty of males whose heads turned when the sleek, low-slung Kage passed, and their interest only grew when they saw two gorgeous girls inside. If she was looking for a date, a girl could find bait a lot worse than a fast, expensive sports car.

Lora looked out the windshield and laughed, "Oh look! Did you see that?"

Raven looked over where Lora was indicating and saw a sarari-man sitting on the pavement.

Lora giggled, "He walked right smack into the light pole there! Ooh... his date's giving him hell right now."

"Ouch!" Raven laughed delightedly. "Oh boy, she really doesn't look happy..." She watched as the girl practically yanked the sarariman inside a bar and away from their car, then turned to Lora. "We're probably breaking a few hearts out there you know. Think we should feel guilty about that?"

In unison, the two giggled and went, "Naaaaaaaah...."

Still giggling, Lora pulled off the street and into a parking garage. She savored the moment as she got out of the car to hand the keys to the attendant for them to park it. He nearly set the car into the wrong gear trying to drive off and keep an eye on Lora and Raven at the same time.

"If he actually manages to get it back without scratching it or hurting himself, I think I'll give him a bigger tip." Lora joked.

"He'll deserve it if he pulls it off," Raven said with amusement, thinking of all the trouble they had gone through to come up with these outfits. The pair really weren't being nice to the poor boys they'd encounter today. "I wonder though, if he's actually going to park it," Raven noted, "or if he's going to take a break and go on a joyride." She grinned. "Did you note the count on the odometer?"

"45,678. If he brings it back with anything more than 5 miles added on to it, bye bye tip. Now let's go. We have some clubbing to do."

"Oh yes we do." Raven headed towards the garage exit with a bounce in her step. "I get the feeling that this is going to be fun..."

Raven had gotten a lot better at dancing over time. Which meant that she could do some simple movements and roughly follow the beat without risking a fall. Of course, she didn't look so ridiculous when compared to the dancers around her, because in the outfit she had, she tended to make the males miss their steps even worse. Laughing at one guy's transparent attempt to bump into her by faking a misstep, she edged away and headed back to the booth she shared with Lora. "Well," she said when she arrived, "I told you I wasn't very good."

Lora was giggling, "Oh, you were good enough. I think you've got a few new admirers."

Raven laughed. "That's right. Wonder if any of them will work up the courage to come talk to us." She looked over the table. "Drinks arrived yet?"

"Oh yeah," Lora reached over and handed Raven a glass of clear liquid, "there you go!"

Raven picked it up and took a sip. "Hmm, that's pretty good. Is it very strong?"

Lora looked thoughtful for a moment, "I guess that depends on your definition of strong. I understand it's supposed to be sort of mild as far as that sort of thing goes. I only get as drunk as I want to with my filters."

"I'm going to have to go slowly then. I've got a weird sensitivity to all kinds of chemicals, including alcohol. I get drunk really fast." She chuckled. "Of course, some people might think that was funny."

Lora grinned, "I'll look out for you if you get too hammered."

"Thanks. I'll try to avoid it but it doesn't take much." She sipped at the drink again, then added, "so, have you been breaking hearts too?"

"I've been dancing out on the floor a bit and having fun. Had to turn down more intimate offers though. I already have a boyfriend, you know."

"Very true." She tilted her glass and watched the light dance in the liquid within. "I wish I had a boyfriend," she said wistfully. "Ever since Adam left I haven't had one. And I'm not sure he counts."

"Why wouldn't he?" Lora actually had a fair idea of what Raven meant, but she wanted to draw the answer from her in her own words.

"Don't get me wrong, the sex was awesome," Raven giggled. "But, you know, I don't think we really were in love. I liked him, of course, but for me it was a whole lot of hormones, plus a little pity and that sense of, you know, having this gorgeous hunk wait on you hand and foot, like it was a fantasy come true. And him... He was programmed to do whatever he could to make me happy. Can you call that love?"

"I guess not. Although I have to tell you, some replicants are capable of having feelings for people entirely separate from their programming. That takes time, though. How long were you with Adam?"

"Six months maybe? Not a very long time. But it was a really good time. He was so attentive, and tender... and so natural about everything. He made me feel at home, you know?" Raven sighed wistfully. "I miss him a lot." She sipped at her drink and chuckled. "Wow, this is good stuff."

"Yeah, it's pretty mild, actually, but watch yourself with that stuff, it barely tastes like alcohol at all."

"Geez Raven..." Lora said. She had just gotten back from a nearly twenty minute marathon on the dance floor. They had played several of her favorites, so she had stayed to dance through all of them. When she got back to the table she could tell already that Raven plastered from the silly grin on her face and the exaggerated care with which she lifted her latest glass to drink. Lora counted, but there were surprisingly few glasses on the table. "How can you be that drunk already?! You only had... one... two... three glasses of that stuff!"

Raven looked to Lora and raised her glass to her a little shakily. "Sho I had a liiitle too mushh," she slurred. "Sho what? It'sh not I'm driving." She set the glass on the table, some of its contents sloshing out of the glass and onto the table. "Ooopsh," she said.

Lora shook her head, "Boy, you really are sensitive to alcohol, aren't you?

"Jusssht a liddle..." She brought the glass to her lips and sipped again. "'Kay, it'sh a lot... 'S'funny though."

"What? You getting hammered on three wine coolers?"

"Nah nah! Shee dat guy over there?" Raven indicated someone behind Lora. "I thinksh he likesh me. He'sh cute, too..." Lora turned to see. There was a guy eyeing their table over there, tall and skinny and dressed in a slick suit. He saw Lora looking back and gave her a wink that tried very hard to be roguish without being lascivious.

Lora laughed to herself and turned back to face Raven, thinking for a moment about mentioning that her taste in men seemed to decline when she was drunk, but decided against it, Raven wasn't going to remember the advice in the morning anyway. They'd been at the club for a little over two hours and had had a great time. Lora could have gone longer, but Raven needed to go to bed and sleep off the booze before she did something she regretted.

She moved to get up, "Let's call it a night Raven, shall we?"

"Aw, shucksh..." she grumbled. "You're no fun at all... okay, ssshure...." She tried to get up, but wobbled and tumbled back into her seat. "Eeeek! I thinksh I'm thrunk." She laughed uncontrollably. "I ssshouldn't drink sssho musssh.... Guesssh you're rightsh... Let'ssh head home."

As a night guard at the Shiroko-Tsuhi North Gate, Teddy Bunlow had seen his share of beautiful women coming in late from a night of revelry. That didn't mean he didn't enjoy the sight any less. Never too much of a good thing after all. He didn't get women quite like that often enough though. He walked outside the security station to look the pair over. Goth girls, by the looks of them, both of them with black-dyed hair and pale complexions. And both were dressed to kill.

The taller one had a black bustier-top bodysuit that nicely emphasized her curves, with a black leather jacket overtop that was wide-open to show all the nice things underneath. She had a few chains and an ankh pendant, plus a few bracelets on each wrist, above the biker-style gloves she wore. She'd made some sort of an Egyptian-style curl at the edge of her left eye.

The other girl was shorter, but she was just as leggy, and her black leather skirt showed off every inch. Her top was a sleeveless number that bared her pale shoulders and hugged to every curve. She had a silver circlet around her forehead, a golden ankh pendant on a thin chain, several metal bracelets, and curly eye-makeup just like the first one, but on the right eye. From the way she was giggling and leaning on her friend, she was also roaring drunk.

Teddy had never been big on the goth thing, but this was something else. Try as he might, though Teddy couldn't remember ever seeing either of them. Maybe they were new. He approached with a slight smile. "ID, please," he requested, in a crisp, professional voice.

The short one giggled drunkenly and playfully punched her friend. "Sssshay, Lora, thinksh he'sssh cute?"

Teddy just gave an amused smile. The tall one, Lora, looked embarrassed, "Sorry, she's..."

Raven said, in a suddenly loud voice, "DRUNK!!" Then giggled uncontrollably again.

Lora said, grinning helplessly, "I'm not gonna argue with her? Are you?"

Teddy almost laughed himself, "Nope. The lady is 100% correct, there."

"Sssshee? Sssshee? I'm rightsh! I'm DRUNK!" Her voice then fell to a conspirational whisper that could be heard from ten yards away. "Ssssho, Lora, thinksh he'ssh cute?"

Lora rolled her eyes, "If I say yes, will you get out your ID card and give it to the poor man? Or do I have to go hunting for it myself?"

"Ooooh, maybe I sssshould let him looksssh for it in all my pocketsssh?" Raven offered. "Dont'ssha think he'd like dat?"

The guard made an explosive sound somewhere between a choke, a cough, and a laugh, while the tips of his ears reddened. Lora dropped her face into her hand with a smack and muttered, "I set myself up for that. I really did. I think I'll have some sauce to go with that foot..."

Teddy recovered first, saying, "Ahem... Er.. I can't do that, really. Sexual harassment policy and all that. But if I can't see a card, I can't let you in. Either." There, that ought to cover his ass.

"Bah, ssh'no fun..." She produced a small purse from somewhere and began rummaging through it. "Sssshould be around here sssshomewhere... Thisssh isssh a messsh..." She held the purse open and the contents slowly wobbled upwards, to hover uncertainly in front of her face.

"Theeeeere it ish!" she announced, plucking the card from the mass of objects. As she did her skirt lifted itself up her legs by itself. "Ooooooooopssssh!" she said, pushing it back down with both her hands. As she did so, the purse and its contents fell to the floor in a clatter. "Ooooppshie," she repeated, finishing to adjust her skirt.

Several thoughts chased themselves around Teddy's skull in quick succession as he stood there, blinking. Ohmigod she's an esper... one of S-T's esper weapons... oh my, she's cute when she's drunk and holy SHIT what a set of legs!! Oh my.. oh my, yes... And if I do anything I am so dead... life is just not fair, Lord...

Lora cleared her throat, and Teddy took her ID card absently while still looking at Raven bent over retrieving her things from her purse. His body on autopilot, he swiped her card through the machine that goes ping and looked at the screen.

"Lora Doubet... covert operations combat cyborg..." Teddy read the rest of the screen and realized that his instinct for politeness was dead on correct tonight. I look wrong at either of them and I can get broken like a twig... Lord, you are just not being fair to me tonight...

"He isssh kinda cute, Lora," said Raven in a low voice. "And he'sssh sssssho resh-pon-shi-ble..." She giggled, then spoke up. "Here, Mr. Sssshecurity man, here'sssh my card..." She offered her ID with a shaky hand.

Teddy swiped the card through the machine that goes ping and read, Yup. Raven Clark, one of the company teeks... He handed both cards back, saying, "There you go Miss Clark, Miss Doubet. And have a nice night."

"No worriesssh... Had it already..." Raven made as if to take her companion's arm, but tripped and caught herself on Lora, draping herself over the cyborg in the process. "Ooopsh!" Lora caught Raven easily and kept her from falling back down. But in the process of trying to disentangle themselves, one of Raven's bracelets somehow got caught on the zipper at the top of Lora's bodysuit. In the confusion, Lora got unzipped down to her navel and she was in danger of completely falling out of the suit.

"ACK! Raven, stand still! Don't move!" Lora shouted.

Raven tried her best to stay still, but in her wobbly state the best she got was a slight tremble. "Sssshomething wrong?" she asked, oblivious to what had just occured.

Teddy couldn't tear his eyes away as Lora gently removed the bracelet from the zipper and then got herself fully back into her suit. Oh, so close...

"Ooopsh," Raven slurred as she realized what happened. "I'm sssho ssshorry.... Lucky they didn't sssshpill out!"

After she got herself situated, Lora took Raven by the arm and led her briskly away from the security station, "Oh yes, very lucky. God that was so embarrassing! I knew there was a disadvantage to an outfit like this..."

Raven giggled. "Sssshtill, think of all thossshe boysssh trying to sssshtare down it...."

"Eeergh.... Raven!"

As soon as they were out of sight, Teddy slowly dropped back into his chair in the guard station and looked up at the ceiling. A silly grin on his face.

"Check please!"

"You're ssssho nisshe to me, Lora," Raven said as the cyborg tried to get her to put her thumb on the reader to open her apartment door. "I dunno whash I would have done wishout you..."

Lora smiled, "Well, getting home might have been a problem. If you're too drunk to drive, don't even think about teleporting!"

Raven giggled, "Oh gooood point. "Coulda' gone nowhere...anywhere... uhm... don'think you 'kin get here from there... no wait... thass wrong..."

"Okay, upsie daisy..." Lora held Raven's hand up to the reader and pushed her thumb to it. The door opened and Lora dragged Raven in, the door closed behind them automatically.

Lora called out, "Lights, dim please!" and the apartment lights came on slowly and brightened up to a warm glow that didn't hurt the eyes. Lora guided Raven into her bedroom and sat her down on the bed. Then bent down to remove her heels.

Raven let herself fall flat on her back. "That wassh a fun nightsh, Lora.... Lotsssh of cute boysh and danssshing... Wheee!" She yawned abruptly. "I'm sssshleepy...."

Lora chuckled, "Yeah, that was fun. We have to do that again sometime." She placed Raven's shoes next to the bed, then stood up, "Well, since you're sleepy, lets get you to..."

Raven was softly snoring.

"...ah, never mind."

Lora deftly finished getting the rest of Raven's clothes off without waking her and turned her gently around on the bed so she could pull the covers over her.

Just as Lora was tucking her in, Raven's eyes half-opened. She looked at Lora for a moment, then slurred, "I'm ssshorry for being ssssho musssh trouble..."

Lora leaned down and hugged her friend close and whispered, "No problem at all, Raven. I enjoyed every minute. Now sleep." She stayed where she was until she heard Raven's breathing slow down. Then she released Raven and sat up slowly so as not to disturb her and pulled the covers up, brushing the white forelock of hair out of Raven's face as she did. Sweet dreams, Raven.

Getting up, she moved quietly to the door and manually shut the lights off. Then did the same for the rest of the apartment at the main door, letting it self lock on her way out.

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