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Cowboy Cameras

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Two moons shine bright against the cloudy night sky, like stage lights, gazing down on the performance bellow.

An elegant troll stands cloaked amidst a dark sidestreet. Her hair is a luxurious sheen against the flickering streetlights, which seem to have been 'repaired' multiple times. Everything, matching tonight, has a cold metallic glow to it which she supposes makes sense given the neighbourhood. They tend to mass produce the lowblood areas for convenience sake, so if a hive was burned down, or a troll went missing it wouldn't be too much off a poor architect's mind. Course the reason this young lady was here fell specifically on that fact.

Ardata leans an eye out of the alleyway, removing the curtain of darkness from her body just enough to see the state of this street...

It's such a mess. Bags of rubbish and discarded cans litter the floors while rusty stains coat several walls, if there was any verb more wretched or deplorable to use than filthy she would have used it to describe the scene. And those lowbloods are ment to clean up as a job? She smiles slightly to herself, they would probably get culled on the spot if they were ever seen in this area. Perfect. Only the desperate ones would have the globes to be here, and the desperate ones were always in need of a helping hand.

It's not that she loves the hunt per say, but the thrill of cutting corners is rather useful when you need to keep a steadily increasing view count stable. Knowing where and when the best content can be found is imperative, her viewers deserve only the best after all.

Speaking of...

Ardata clicks the topmost button of her lapel, a faint blue light shining into place. She grimaces. So much for hidden... This is the last time she buys anything from an Indigo, always needing to put their colour on everything, did those lumbering oathes even know the word discrete!? Never mind, never mind, she can improvise! Just like always. She's great at it, the best even!

Ardata calms herself for a moment with a few deep breaths letting her persona pour in with utmost clarity. The audio feed will most likely be streaming it out as a dull whisper. A good mood setter with genuine atmosphere and it also helps with her prep. Corners cut. Absolute genius. She does this for a few more seconds before holding mid breath at just the right point in time that it feels jarring and off kilter. She knows exactly how to build a scene and with one more second of silence she speaks.

"Are you watchiiing my dearest friiiends?
Enjoyiiing the viiiew?
Keepiiing an eye out for your precious Ardata
Of course you are. Only the cruelest wretched beiiings would keep leave a lady waiiitiiing
And we both know you aren't eiiither of those

She lifts her hand over her mouth in a practiced motion, it feels rather silly for her to do this in such a public place sometimes, but only when she's truly alone. It's a good thing, she thinks, that her fan base suggested this method of filming. The increased coverage and different angle of her projects will most certainly bring in new viewers. Most likely the indigo or violets who think themselves above dirtying their hands. They weren't wrong, in fairness she never did any murdering herself.

No, her guests were all too kind to offer.

What new blood shall iii acquiiire today
iiit has been awfully lonely wiiithout our dear bronze and burgundy
They diiidn't even apologiiise to me for leaving
You would thiiink one or the other would know how to properly prepare a meal for my lusus
Imbeciiiles couldn't tell poiiison from salt
Though iii suppose that's what iii get for being so trustiiing of lowbloods
iiit's a good thing iii had them test iiit beforehand otherwise iiit could have been such a diiisaster for them
Oh how embarrassiiing

She smiles a deeper unseen grin against the rhythm of her voice. Good, she's shown her brand, an example of her previous work and she given out a relatable message of class which will endear any highbloods to her brand. They are eating it up. She's on a role. She keeps going.

" I beliiieve you are now aware of thiiis new upgrade
Many of my kiiind donors asked for a behiiind the scenes of my process
And who am iii not to obliiige a few more eyes iiin my escapades
So I shall allow iiit this tiiime and tiiime alone
iii hope you're watchiiing closely"

She continues like this in a light whisper slowly letting her voice fade into the background, she hopes to any imaginary force that the camera is in focus of the street. It is possible to fix some things post production but this is not one of them, and it would be such an embarrassment to her career if she made her whole audience watch this in a blurry haze. Still she keeps it going, letting the anticipation set in. No one has crossed this street for roughly an hour but she knows it's coming. She breathes, she pauses, she waits.

And then, in the low light of a far lamp, a shadow flickers. Ardata turns her body with as much careful grace as she can surmise, her three eyes locking in on her target.

They are rather lanky and brightly coloured, she might have mistaken them for a lamp post if not for the four cylindrical horns or the large amount of yellow leaking from them. Legs fumbling for solid ground they stumble around several waste bags. It would seem that they are attempting to run, but failing rather miserably. Ardata thinks of an aquatic lusus flailing out of water.

She lets them stumble just a little closer before revealing herself to her poor patron. Their one visible eye light up dramatically, hope and desperation mixing together in a visceral blend. They lift their one good arm up to her and she smiles the warmest smile she can muster as she speaks.

" my my What a piiitiiiful thiiing you are
Reachiiing from the foul depths of fiiilth to the heiiights of the heavenly Ardata
Are you askiiing for somethiiing from me?"

The troll begins to open their mouth.

" iii did not give you permiiissiiion to speak!!!
How very rude of you to iiinterrupt someone who's talkiiing
iii should have you culled on the spot just to save others from the horror of your etiiiquette
But iii wiiill forgiiive you for now as iii am a very graciiious troll
iiin fact iii am so graciiious iii shall even offer you a place iiin my hiiive
As long as you do something for me that iiis
Do you understand? "

There is a brief pause. Possibly for the troll to wonder, what the fuck.

"You can try thiiinkiiing of another optiiion all you want but iiit's clear to both of us what you'll choose
iii saiiid do you understand.
iii cannot be kept waiiitiiing liiike thiiis"

They silently nod.


The troll recoils a little in surprise, but complies without even the slightest bit of hesitation. A little unusual that she didn't need her powers to carry out this action but willing participants weren't completely out of the ordinary. Though the lack of conflict might make for a boring drama, it would certainly be interesting to find out what their breaking point is. She'll keep that in mind.

They stumble half wheezing to their feet with reckless energy, every action overextended and clumsy. Eventually they meet Ardata at chest level, which appears to be several inches from their usual posture, given the sloutch.

" come "

They do.

It's a little too fast.

It doesn't matter, Ardata knows already the haste associated with running away. They probably know they're safe but their life or death response hasn't turned off yet. All too common around this alleyway, or neighbourhood, or basically this whole planet. It's left them squeamish, vulnerable and a little skittish. It's mildly irritating, so she puts a stop to that.

Without batting an eye she extends her mind, concentrating specifically on their left ankle, she imagines The action as if it were her own. The tired feeling of her foot as it moves at too far an angle, her weight shifting in just the right direction needed, the slowed down reaction time. How careless.

They fall to ground with a wet thud, a slight moan trickling out of them, or was that a growl? If it were, she should be rather offended. So she will be, after all, they didn't even apologise.

"What arrogance makes you thiiink you can act so uncouth around the great ardata
And then proceed to blame anyone but yourself.
What a piiitiiiful creature you are
iii hope no other conveniiiences occur otherwiiise iii may cut my losses short riiight now"

They stare at her for a few seconds, somewhat hopeful at that last remark, but before she can make a comment they nod. Without breaking eye contact they slowly stand up, this time it feels more robotic, methodical. Hmm this is not good.

She feels that perhaps those weren't her best lines, there wasn't enough build up or goading or tension. God she wishes she could make another take. Nevermind that trolls reaction... Perhaps she should let them speak.

" now apologiiise"

The yellow's focus hasn't left her, they blink dryly as a few seconds pass. It's as if they are weighing the command as an option they could consider making to a troll so high on the hemospectrum. It would seem their decision is silence and insubordination as all they do is smirk.
Well, that is certainly not what she expected. But God, the drama!!!

"Have iii said a joke?
or have you finally realiiised your exiiistence encapsulates one
But pleasantriiies asiiide
You better fuckiiing apologiiise"

A quiet standoff takes place in the dingy alley, the tension thickens and the atmosphere builds to a crescendo. Ardata's fingers twitch with the anticipation, she'll make them choke themselves while saying some witty phrase like 'if you don't wish to waste your breath I will help you' it will be a perfect break point for the stream, though admittedly she will have to lug an unconscious body back to her hive. But such are the sacrifices needed for art.

All these plans line up perfectly in her mind, but a sudden break in the silence upends it in an instant. The familiar whir of a drone trickles into earshot from an unknown position. The troll doesn't so much as flinch. Something is wrong.

But what.

Ardata has done this song and dance for sweeps now, everything about this situation should be correct. She turns her head lightly careful not to show panic, just a normal proportion of disgust. There must be something she missed, some discernable quality which separates this one from the rest. A hint of teal? perhaps some highblood sheltered them since grubhood just for today?.

And then she sees it.

Like a wip, Ardata mentally cracks into them, snapping their jaw wide open. No no no.

No no no no no no no no no

They don't have a tongue. She's so fucking screwed.

A familiar honk echos across the street, somehow surrounding her at every angle. A corny clown voice shortly follows.

"£yyy yo people what's popin
€imes up and u know what that means?
¥t's time to get SAVAG£!!!!"

Oh no. Oh god. Oh fuck.

She has become legally dead. That obnoxious air horn reverberating around her, confirms every sinking suspicion in her gut. Where is it coming from!! Ardata needs to know so she can run, but the second she's visible it'll be too late. How can she escape this troll catch 22 in one piece!!

Funnily enough, It reminds her of one of her death traps. No. It doesn't remind her, it IS one of her death traps. That lazy hack!!! God, if she wasn't about to die right now she would be all levels of pissed, alll of them.

Ok ok she needed to think. These traps always had a loophole attached, after running so many she'd found multitudes. It's pretty incredible really, how a slow painful death can motivate trolls beyond the boundaries of her games. And if they could get out of it she most certainly can. After all she is the Great Ardata.

First things first, she needed a meat shield, not too hard to find. Though golds don't always work with 100% compliance (it was more 50%) the weak state they were in gave her a reassuring window. Still it's a lot simpler than she expected, they do nothing to stop her grasp as she takes over their body. Why is it so easy with this thing!!!? Good God it's like chewing cotton candy, this is the weakest mind she has ever met!!

Second thing a weapon. Well, she had a gold blood so, check! Though given their strange domeanor and single functioning eye, she wouldn't place all her bets on this cluckbeast. But that was fine, they had colour which ment they had power, even a firecracker would do in this situation. If nothing else but for the distraction.

Carefully, she slowed her breathing, and began moving them at a controlled pace to match her breaths. Her mind still latched onto her compatriots she begins to guide them over into one of the exits. She uses their eyes, ears, nose, anything for information. She smells and tastes no fago in the air, she heard no more hollering or airhorns in the distance, she sees nothing. The alleyway before her seems empty of all clowns stimuli. But is it safe?

There is one sense Ardata never liked connecting with, it always left her feeling vulnerable, raw and ragged. But against a purple's chuckle vodos she needed to sense it. The fear.

She opens herself to it and like a dam, emotion bursts on to her. Her body quakes as if it's been plunged into a freezing lake, every image from her eye is bloody and dripping. Honks echo in the background ringing her ears in a symphony of pain. Her body goes rigid, or is it their body? Everything is blending together her feelings and actions tied up in this bow of utter terror. And good fucking God her head hurts!!

He's not visible there, but her improvised metal detector doesn't lie. She channels her headache into a static burst, making energy and dust fly everywhere. Their lasers are far below average but they get the job done as half of the adjacent walls are struck around them. It would almost be exhilarating, if not for the fact she's feeling more and more terrified with every waking moment.

She doesn't let herself make the rookie mistake of checking whether she hit him. She knows she didn't. What she needed was a distraction, and as she commands them to run forwards she severs the mental link. The fear doesn't leave her, but her vision suddenly returns to a vague flavour of blurred normality.

And then she runs.

The rhythmic clacking of her heels against the pavement and the gentle swishing of her clothes reminds her She is alive, She is vulnerable. But that doesn't matter too much, she already knew, everybody knew. She's rushing down a main street now, packed with lowbloods of varying shades, it slows her speed but she needs the cover.

Her plan was to reach a cooler district and simmer her content down for a few wipes. Loagen pauwll hadn't even seen her face, so it was unlikely he could continue his hunt. God she hated how she'd taken the bait like some half-witted rusty. Good thing no one-oh shit.

Right right right. Soooo she had brought a camera, which was currently streaming, to this specific event. Just, great. Outcome 1, some of her viewers recognises that clown's handiwork and puts together she nearly died back there thereby breaking the aristocratic and domineering persona she has so expertly crafted. Turning her into a laughing stock and likely driving her offline. Otherwise known as the lucky outcome. Outcome 2, one of her fans happens to enjoy her competitor more and decides to rat her out as the one who got away. And when she gets home or anywhere publicly visible she will be at the mercy of one of the most menacing torturers in the film industry.

Damn it, damn iiiiit. What was she going to do? She was a failure. They would never let her live this down, she's ruined!!! How can she get out of...

Why has She stopped moving?


Oh… right... fear...paralysis...


He's behind her.


The wind screams as a colourful club tears through the air above her. She can't move, every inch of her body is fixed in place. Even her eyes feel stuck as they watch it come down.

Almost reflexively she reaches out her mind to the nearest red, pulling them into the line of attack. It's not enough. The club collides with her head in a sharp crack, it sends her flying far further than physically possible. Maybe her head travelled separately, maybe her body is lighter than she expected or maybe she has now received permanent brain damage. Only time can tell, and she has not got a lot of it.

She hits the ground with a cold thud, ears ringing, eyes bleary and unfocused. All she can see is the crude outline of a scuttle buggy in front of her. Desperately she grabs onto the sides, and tests the door for any give.

To her surprise... It opens...

There is nothing safe about this situation but all warning lights are drowned out by the honking in the distance. It doesn't even cross her mind, that a scuttle buggy won't protect her, as she pulls her limp body into the vehicle. She's seen purples survive collisions before, on top 10 reasons you can't outrun a purpleblood. Heh. Maybe she should have taken that video's advise. Its hopeless, she might as well curl up into a miserable heap and let it happen, she's so tired. The noise outside is so muffled she has no idea how close he is. Any minuite now...