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 Inception - DeCosta Job

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Fri May 04, 2018 8:32 pm

"My subconscious?" Tess asked as she slipped her lipstick back into her bag. "Oh." As if suddenly realizing what Hunter was referring to, Tess chuckled to herself. "We're not in my subconscious, at least not on any real level. This is

just my repository of dream structures."

Still smiling, she pushed past him and through the bathroom door. "C'mon. I'll show you a few of my tricks."

Once in the hallway, Tess made her way past several doors before stepping into the library. She waited until Hunter followed her through the door before turning towards a paiting on the wall. "Have you ever heard of the Torggler door?"

Tess asked as she dipped her fingers behind the edge of the painting and pulled. The edge pulled out at an angle, folding and twisting at the same time to rotate out of the way, revealing a new doorway.

"It's subtle. So, you don't have to worry about the projections finding it by accident." She gestured for Hunter to step through the doorway, pulling the opposite flap afterwards and squeezing past before it closed behind her. "You can

also lock it from this side with a latch and chain." Tess grabbed the small chain hanging from the roof and attached it to the hook on the back of the door. "So, even if they find it, they can't open it."

"And the best part?" Tess tapped her knuckles on the door now covering the wall. "It's bulletproof, since the door is made from kevlar. You'd need armor piercing rounds to get through that."

---------------------------------------------------------------------

John held Sofie's gaze all the way through her explanation, but her apparent amusement didn't carry over. No, if anything, his expression was even more serious than before, and while her offering might have felt like a step in the right direction to any other man, to John, it only felt like more bravado.

Still not letting his eyes shift away, John took her outstretched arm by the wrist and stood, grabbing her shoulder with his other hand to gently maneuver her into a laying position on the couch. "You know, there's a funny side effect to losing yourself at some point in your life." John spoke softly as he reached for the PASIV port on the table beside them. "The only place for your self to get lost is under the layers you build around her. So, regardless of how far she's strayed, she's still there. Trapped inside and looking for the surface."

"You may believe every word you just told me, but that's only because you've lied to yourself for so long that you don't know the difference." He deftly slipped the needle beneath her skin. "But now I understand at least."

"For the briefest of moments, she found an outlet, the tiniest bit of hope that she might get to see the light of day again, and she took that chance." John pressed a whisper of a kiss to Sofie's wrist before laying her arm down on the couch.

"When she's actually ready to talk, we'll finish this conversation. Until then," John hit the button on the machine, "we have work to do."

He stood in silence as Sofie's eyes drifted closed, then let out a long sigh. "Maybe we won't kill each other in the process..." John muttered as he dropped into the recliner beside her and reached for the second needle.
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Mon May 07, 2018 12:07 am

Hunter mouthed an "oh," feeling a little stupid. When she'd said "factory level," he'd just made the assumption.

Tess didn't seem to mind though. She smiled and led him out of the bathroom, promising him some tricks. They traveled back through the hall and into a library, stopping in front of a painting.

"Have you ever heard of the Torggler door?" she asked, pulling out the painting and twisting at the same time to rotate out of the way, revealing a new doorway.

"It sounds familiar," Hunter mused, impressed by her work. He followed her through the doorway, which closed behind them. Tess explained all the benefits, which were numerous, while he nodded.

"Pretty cool," he said, rapping the back of it. "Where did you learn this?"

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Tingles traveled up Sofie's hand and shoulder as John took hold of her and led her over to the sofa. Was he taking her up on her offer then? Fear clawed suddenly at her insides, but she kept calm as he laid her down and reached for the PASIV.

"You know, there's a funny side effect to losing yourself at some point in your life," John said, his expression painfully serious. "The only place for your self to get lost is under the layers you build around her. So, regardless of how far she's strayed, she's still there. Trapped inside and looking for the surface."

Her eyes widened. She wanted to snap at him, deny everything he said, but the words were lodged somewhere in her throat.

"You may believe every word you just told me, but that's only because you've lied to yourself for so long that you don't know the difference. But now I understand at least."

Sofie barely felt the needle as she stared into John's eyes. No. No no no. He didn't understand. He didn't understand anything.

"For the briefest of moments, she found an outlet, the tiniest bit of hope that she might get to see the light of day again, and she took that chance."

John pressed a whisper of a kiss to Sofie's wrist, and she stared at her pale skin in stunned silence as her protests fluttered into the wind.

"When she's actually ready to talk, we'll finish this conversation. Until then."

Sofie looked up as John hit the button on the PASIV.

"John..."

The words died on her lips as her eyelids fell shut.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Sofie brought down the sun visor in her car and applied a fresh layer of pink lipstick as John slipped into the seat next to her. She took a moment longer than needed to gather her composure before putting the lipstick away.

"So, your initial role will be a police officer," she said, glancing at the police station across the street. "Would you like to practice that? Maybe book me for tearing up a parking ticket?"

She turned to John and raised her eyebrows, a faint but playful smile on her lips.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Tue May 08, 2018 10:22 pm

"It's a holdover from some of my earlier stage magic, actually." Tess responded as Hunter inspected the door. "Several of the escapism performances involve similar contraptions that allow the victim," She gestured to herself, "to escape her fate."

"So, it wasn't overly difficult for me to translate the concept into something usable in the dream." Leaning around Hunter, she poked the hinge in the door, causing it to swing back open.

"While this is a nifty trick, it's not quite devious enough for the particularly stubborn projections though."

Tess slipped past him and motioned for him to follow her back in the direction they'd come from. "There are a few other methods I've used, several of them similar to yours." She paused for a moment, tapping a finger to her lower lip. "Although I don't think I've ever setup a maze inside of a frat party. That could be fun."

Waving her hand theatrically, Tess walked back into the bathroom and opened the closet, revealing the stark, white room again. She waited for Hunter to join her before closing it and moving several doors down the hallway.

This time, they emerged from a pantry door into a kitchen that could only be found in a mansion. The entire setup looked like it was made to feed an army, but the decorations were too nice for it to be any type of public environment.

"Now this... This was a stroke of true genius." Tess exited the kitchen and took a left, putting her into a small hallway. Beside her, a staircase rose upwards, but rather than taking it, she walked to the closet built beneath it and opened the door.

"Mind that first step." She gestured to the floor of the closet, which was just empty blackness. "It's a one way ticket to getting nowhere fast. Or at all, for that matter."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

"Does that involve giving you a pat down, doll?" The female officer sitting in John's seat responded. She looked to be in her mid-thirties with frizzy, blone hair. The southern drawl in her voice was unmistakable. "Although there's not much place to hide anything on you."

She gently pinched Sofie's arm, which had practically no fat on it. "Why, if my moma had a hold of you for a week, she'd stuff you so full of peaches and biscuits. We could definitely put some meat on these bones."

"I'll have to recommend not tearing up any parking tickets though." The woman continued with a syrupy sweet smile. "The prices on those have a tendency to multiply when the offender is unable to produce the original receipt."

"You know how that goes, right, doll?"
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Tue May 08, 2018 11:50 pm

"Stage magic, huh?" Hunter raised his eyebrow. "You'll have to give me a demonstration sometime. The best I can do are a few card tricks."

Maybe it was a little silly, but he'd been impressed by professional stage magicians since he was a kid. In this day of technology and science, being able to pull off a performance so skillfully that it appeared like modern magic was something special.

Tess slipped past him out the passage, and Hunter followed. She commented on setting up a maze in a frat party being fun, but Hunter just shrugged.

"Eh, it did its job. But frat parties aren't really my thing, I guess." Honestly, hanging out with John and the others in the warehouse planning for a job was more fun to him.

Oh, god, hanging with John was fun.

Shaking off that thought as quickly as it'd come, Hunter trailed after Tess through the bathroom and back into the white room they'd started in. Another door deposited them in a luxurious kitchen the likes of which he'd never been in. Whistling under his breath, Hunter wavered in the kitchen for a moment, taking in the impressive amenities before continuing after Tess.

"Now this... This was a stroke of true genius."

At first, Hunter thought she was referring to the stairs, which didn't appear to be anything unique. But the she led him to a closet in the back of the stairs. When she opened the door, Hunter found himself staring into a black void.

"Mind that first step." She gestured to the floor of the closet. "It's a one way ticket to getting nowhere fast. Or at all, for that matter."

Hunter nodded and took a safe step back. "Actually, I used something just like this on that same job as the frat maze. The second layer was a business office with a looping first and third floor. Some of the doors led into void space like this."

A memory flashed, unbidden, of his ex staring at him before opening one of the doors and plunging into the blackness. Hunter closed his eyes and pushed that memory back where it came from. He was over that now.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Sofie blinked at the unfamiliar voice - distinctly southern and female at that - and turned to where John should have been sitting. A female police officer with frizzy, blonde hair stared at her through sunglasses. Oh, were they starting already then?

"Does that involve giving you a pat down, doll? Although there's not much place to hide anything on you."

Pat down? Doll? Sofie raised an eyebrow. Was John playing out some kind of fetish here?

The officer pinched Sofie's arm abruptly, and she let out an "oww" as the rubbed her arm.

"Why, if my moma had a hold of you for a week, she'd stuff you so full of peaches and biscuits. We could definitely put some meat on these bones."

Now Sofie's other eyebrow went up and joined the first. Peaches and biscuits? God, where was he getting this material? It was so... corny. But so authentic. The woman continued on talking about tearing up parking tickets with that same sweet smile as Sofie goggled at her.

"You know how that goes, right, doll?"

"Right... Of course, Officer," Sofie replied, pressing her lips together to stifle a smile. "Damn it, Sofie. You're supposed to be mad as hell at this guy."

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Wed May 09, 2018 11:40 pm

"The void space is a necessary portion of the puzzle, but that's not what made it so innovative." Tess responded with a grin.

She leaned over the emptyness, gripping the coat rack on the far wall with both hands. "This is the cool part."

Tess stepped off of the edge, but instead of falling, she suddenly turned upside down. Still grinning, she planted her feet on the underside of the staircase, which was also carved into stairs, disappearing into the darkness below (or above, from her new perspective).

"No hands!" She giggled as she pulled her fingers from the coat rack, leaving her standing on the ceiling with nothing holding her up.

"The dreamspace along the roof of the closet has been folded over. So, gravity is reversed, but only once you've made contact with the portion of the dream that's out of sync."

She took a few steps down (up from her perspective), leaving room for Hunter behind her. "If you grip the bar and fall, gravity will pull you up, not down."

"To make it more difficult for the projections to follow us, we can remove the coat rack, which makes it far more difficult to get into contact with the desyncronized space. Additionally, several of the stairs on this side are actually pillars that the upper layer has been folded into. So, stepping on them re-syncs you with the original dream's gravity and..." She gestured to the darkness below her. "Bye bye projections."

---------------------------------------------------------

"Well, now that you've seen the error of your ways, I guess we can just be on our way. No need for that pat down after all." She leaned back in her seat, pushing her sun glasses up into the hair over her eyes.

After a moment of silence, the woman looked expectantly at Sofie. "If you want your license reinstated, I'm afraid the car does actually need to move. That's sort of how this works, sugar."

"Not that I'm trying to rush your or anything." The woman sounded different now, more concerned than flippant. "I understand the emotional toll it can take on a body to sit behind that wheel for the first time after a DUI. Especially considering that crash they pulled you out of, but the good news is you didn't hurt anybody."

"Always best to look on the bright side, my mama always told me. So, you sit there for a few minutes if you need to, and we'll get going whenever you're good and ready."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Thu May 10, 2018 1:16 am

Hunter, distracted by Tess' grin, took a moment to realize what she was doing as she leaned over the void and gripped the coat rack.

"Isn't that-"

He had no time to say "dangerous" when Tess stepped off the edge. Hunter's eyes flew open, and he lunged forward to grab for her.

"Tess!"

His yell died out in a sudden strangle of surprise. Instead of falling, Tess was now grinning at him upside down.

"How... but..." Hunter shook his head, looking from her to the void space in confusion.

Tess seemed to enjoy his surprise, as she continued her antics and showed off the workings of this space. He couldn't help but laugh and shake his head as she pulled a "no hands!" and waved her arms from where she stood as though nailed to the ceiling.

Tess continued to explain the workings of her trick, but Hunter was more focused on trying not to die as he followed Tess' example. Muttering a mixture of prayers and swears under his breath, he leaned out to grip the bar and stepped out.

The sudden transition was dizzying. He staggered a bit, trying to get his bearings, and bumped against Tess. He grabbed her on instinct to steady them both, then realized what he'd done.

"S-sorry," he said, retracting his hands like he'd touched a hot stove. "This is... pretty wild. How'd you come up with it?"

---------------------------------------------------------

No need for a pat down? Sofie was half-tempted to press that point further and ask if she/he was sure, but then the woman continued on about getting her license reinstated. The sudden transition into matronly concern left Sofie bemused and staring.

"What?" A DUI and a crash? Wow, John was really trying to push the bounds on this.

Well, two could play at that.

"Yes... thank you, officer," she said, smiling. "It is hard. I was five years sober, but I went back to the bottle. I think that was the hardest part, knowing I caved and threw away all that progress. But my boyfriend John - John Lattimer - has just been so distant lately."

Sofie wiped away tears and shook her head. "Ever since he found out I'd been faking all my orgasms with him. I just didn't have the heart to tell him how bad he was in bed, but he accused me of deceiving him. And when I tried to show him there were pills that could help him, he stormed out."

Sofie ran a hand through her hair and shook her head, scattering crocodile tears. "What do I do?

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Thu May 10, 2018 9:39 pm

Tess shook her head at Hunter's reaction, but she didn't comment on how quickly he'd backed away after suddenly grabbing her. Considering the disorientation of switching perspectives, she couldn't blame him for needing something solid to hold onto. The fact that he'd let go almost immediately stung a little, but she understood the reason for that as well.

"Well, it started as a similar concept to what you mentioned earlier." Tess said as she took a few steps up the staircase. "Skip the fourth and seventh step." She dropped into the conversation as she did just that.

"I needed a way to keep the projections away from the dreamer, but I also wanted to create a situation where they couldn't simply ignore the rules I created. So, I decided to break a few of those rules for myself."

"The projections learn, but they are inherently only as intelligent as the subconscious that created them. Rather than trying to redirect them with terrain they understood, I created a situation where they had to completely ignore the rules to progress."

"Steps fourteen and twenty are also reversed." Tess said as she hopped over the first of those.

"Or was it nineteen?" She asked as she took the nineteenth step, throwing an unnecessary hop after the step to make it look like she'd begun to drop.

"Kidding." Tess said as her feet hit the ground again, and she jumped over step twenty.

----------------------------------------------------

The officer blinked a few times at Sofie's words, but then shook her head slowly. "Honey, I'm a patrol officer, not a therapist. They don't pay me enough for that." She grinned and dropped her sunglasses back into place.

"But if you're asking me, there's no man in the world worth faking an orgasm for. Ditch the guy, skip the alcohol, and go buy a battery operated boyfriend. The Duracell twins will get you further, trust me."

"Now, if you don't mind." She gestured to the road through the windshield. "How about we do what we came here to do. Otherwise, I think we're going to need a red sofa and a pint of Ben and Jerry's."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Mon May 14, 2018 1:32 am

Hunter followed Tess up the stairs, skipping the steps she indicated as he listened to her explanation.

"You're..." He shook his head. "Really something."

While he considered himself pretty creative, he had to admit that he worked within the box of techniques and logic that he understood in both real-life architecture and dreamspace architecture. But Tess was just willing to mess with rules and boundaries just because they didn't suit her, and she made it work.

Hunter hopped step fourteen just as Tess suddenly seemed to drop after forgetting the right step. He lunged forward, only for her to flash a teasing smile and jump the correct step.

"Not funny," he sighed, shaking his head and following suit.

Now that he thought about it, he was supposed to be the Pointman on this case. He should probably be fishing for more information on her. But what to ask.

"Hey, you mind if I ask you something?" he asked, trying to decide on the best course of conversation. Unfortunately the first thing that came to mind was- "Why didn't you tell me about your son on out da- dinner... outing."

----------------------------------------------------

Sofie raised her eyebrows at the officer's advice, and at the mention of the "Duracell twins" she burst out laughing.

"I think that's the most sage advice I've heard in a long time," she said, smiling.

Sofie put the car into drive and started off down the road. Personally, a red sofa and a pint of Ben and Jerry's sounded good to her. Even though she knew this was a dream and John doing a very convincing forging, it was almost easy to forget. Honestly, she didn't have many female friends. Okay, she didn't have any friends of either gender, if she were really being honest. But this sort of thing might be nice every once in a while.

Sofie glanced in the rearview mirror and sobered up. Might be. But what-if's weren't really her thing. Thinking about what-if's and might be's never led anywhere good as far as she was concerned.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Tue May 15, 2018 10:53 pm

Tess remained silent for a moment as she climbed over the last stair and opened the door at the top, putting them in a small study. "You always take things seriously, don't you?" She asked, rather than answering his question right away.

At least that's how it probably seemed until she continued. "That's why I didn't tell you. It would have changed the way you acted around me, and I didn't want that."

"Don't get me wrong." She said, sinking into a comfy chair. "I love my son, and he's a big part of my world, but it changes a person's perspective of you when they know you're a single mother."

Tess leaned back in her seat, but she didn't take her eyes away from Hunter's. "Unlike you, I do enjoy playing the game, but I haven't told you any outright lies. That just isn't my style."

"If John was any good at his job, and we both know that he is, despite his flaws, you were going to hear about my son anyway. So, for one night, I let you think what you wanted so that you'd act naturally around me."

"Now that you know, you're second guessing yourself, acting more careful with me, even if you don't consciously realize it."

--------------------------------------------------------------

"Maybe you just need a therapist." John joked, rolling his eyes with a grin on his face.

"You really should do that more often though." He continued, pulling loose his tie and leaning the seat back one click.

When Sofie shot him a questioning glance, he clarified. "Laugh. It softens your whole expression."

Changing subjects, he shifted the conversation back to business. "So, how about it? Think I can acceptably pass for an officer of the law?"
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Wed May 16, 2018 12:01 am

Did he always take things seriously? Hunter bit his lip. He assumed she was taking about her joke with the stairs, but he couldn't help it. He didn't want to see her- to see people get hurt.

"That's why I didn't tell you. It would have changed the way you acted around me, and I didn't want that."

Hunter stopped short, staring at Tess as she into an armchair in the study they'd walked into. Had he really started viewing her differently knowing she was a single mother instead of just single? Sinking into the chair across from her, Hunter furrowed his brow. In truth, he couldn't deny that on some level it did matter, even if it shouldn't. And realizing that this was something Tess had dealt with so often that she'd come to expect it made him feel like crap.

"I'm sorry," he said, looking up. "If I made things weird. I didn't meant to. But honestly, it doesn't make me think any less of you."

He scratched his cheek, averting his gaze slightly. "I mean, if anything, I'm even more impressed. Being able to do all you have and raise a kid is pretty amazing."

--------------------------------------------------------------

Sofie turned at the sound of John's real voice and raised her eyebrows. "Don't we all?"

Some more than others. A morbid thought, but better than thinking about how much she appreciated having John smiling at her again instead of giving his perpetual stare of clinical judgment.

"You really should do that more often though."

"Hmm?" Sofie turned to John with a questioning glance and watched him loosen his tie and lean back in his seat.

"Laugh. It softens your whole expression."

Her eyes widened, and she quickly turned back to watch the road. It was fortunate that John got the conversation back on track, as she somehow found herself at a loss for words.

"Oh, there's no doubt you can pass as a police officer," she mused. "The only thing in question is the kind of tone you're trying to set. I don't think Officer Duracell Twins is going to instill the kind of high stakes we're going for."

Sofie shot him a sidelong glance and smirked. "Unless you're hoping Tess will gift you her password over Ben & Jerry's."

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Thu May 17, 2018 9:37 pm

"You didn't make things weird." Tess responded with a chuckle. "If anything, this is the response I expected, and the problem isn't about how you think of me. It's about how that affects your actions."

It was the unfortunate truth of the situation. A person's perception of others affects how they deal with them in the day to day. Obviously, they would find a new 'normal', but it would never be what it was before. Of that, Tess could be certain.

"It's admirable that you're trying, really." Tess reached out to pat the top of Hunter's knee before pulling her hand back. "But it's better if you don't force yourself to be anything other than yourself."

"Take that from someone who knows what it looks like when you try and fail."

------------------------------------------------------

John chuckled at Sofie's response. Obviously, she wasn't ready for that real discussion yet, since she'd easily taken the "out" he'd offered. Not that he'd expected any differently.

"I happen to know Tess is a fan of Ben & Jerry's." He responded with a grin. "But I have serious doubts about her sharing anything over it. Secrets or the ice cream itself."

Now that his tie had been removed, he popped the top button of his shirt open and leaned back, running a hand through his hair. "I can pull off serious. Trust me on that."

"You're in charge here though. How do you really want to play this? The basic setup should be reasonable as we defined it in the meeting, but I don't expect Tess' subconscious to play nice. We'll need a few extra things to trip her up along the way."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Yesterday at 5:15 pm

Hunter nodded, unsure what else to do. Whatever Tess might say, it sure felt like he made things weird.

"Right. Well..." Hunter looked around the room. "Anything left to show me?"

Man, he really shouldn't have brought this conversation up.

------------------------------------------------------

Sofie watched John pop the top button of his shirt open and run a hand through his hair. Why? He made that look more attractive than it had any right to be.

"You're in charge here though. How do you really want to play this?"

He turned to look at her, and she averted her eyes to the road.

"The basic setup should be reasonable as we defined it in the meeting, but I don't expect Tess' subconscious to play nice. We'll need a few extra things to trip her up along the way."

Sofie contemplated this and tapped her nails on the steering wheel. If the plan was to forge an officer and create a kidnapping scenario, it might be a good idea to actually create kidnappers to draw the attention of Tess' subconscious. Under the scenario, they would naturally be seen as the greater threat than anyone in their team.

Sofie related this information to John, then bit her lip. "The question is the second layer. As police officer, you'll have the greatest ease of access to getting Tess under for the next later. But as to what we create on the next level, we need to direct he paranoia we've built up in the previous later. Perhaps a bank robbery scenario? Her subconscious will automatically seek to fill such an environment. Our Architect can easily manipulate the vaults to trap projections inside and keep them from us."

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