Firestone met with The Machinist, the father of Fuse and Chin, the kids he had taken under his wing. The Machinist believes in self-sufficiency, and doesn’t want his children given a free ride, but Firestone convinced the old man that he would not only look after the kids, but also challenge them. The Machinist agreed to help Firestone and the two kids upgrade Firestone’s tank with new, improved armored windshield-slats to help keep the driver from being constantly shot up.
Silver invited Absinthe up to the Supper Club. While there, Absinthe saw Rhyme perform a song that captivated all present. Absinthe decided then and there to accept Silver’s offer of employment, and departed to make her decision known to Team Badass. Quitting the Team apparently involved a similar process to joining it: running the gauntlet. The motorcycle gang formerly allied with the King’s Gang has a strongly held “survival of the strongest” ethos, and to join, you have to prove you’re a true badass… and to be allowed to leave with your life requires the same. Absinthe was beaten, broken and bruised, but emerged with a bloody grin. She sought out Cass at her clinic before returning to Silver for some training. She ran into Farley, the former leader of Team Badass, who was being kicked out of the clinic. Farley decided the time had come to formally challenge Firestone once more, this time in Mount Safeco’s arena.
Farley entered the garage and made a big production out of his challenge, which Firestone accepted. By the time they reached the arena, word was spreading throughout the hold. Team Badass was there in force, but also the Have Rats, and the Rocket Men. Mizz Stockton herself, along with many Regents, as well as Silver and Rhyme were there to watch. Cass was on hand to tend to the loser.
The Ringmistress began the fight with her usual showmanship, bringing a gleam of maternal pride to Mizz Stockton’s eye. Farley came out swinging, dealing a brutal blow to the already-injured Firestone. Suddenly, Firestone’s usual bluster drained away, and with a strange, uncharacteristic silence, he smoothly executed a series of blows that not only laid out Farley, but severely damaged his spine. He was stopped before he could execute the former biker, and the strange, liquid silence faded, leaving him bloody and panting.
Cass desperately, once again, tried to save Farley, but on transportation to the clinic, the old biker died. Cass handed the corpse over to The Reclaimer, and hoped that nobody would inquire into Farley’s fate, for the arena is not supposed to be fatal.
Cass was consulted by Mizz Stockton on the strange red-flowing plant that seemed to have taken the lives, or at least the motor-control, of the two kids Dog-Face and Enough. They theorized about whether the plant killed its prey and animated the corpses or somehow controlled living bodies to fetch it more sustenance. Either way, Mizz Stockton added it to the general warning signs scattered about Mount Safeco. As she departed Cass’ clinic, Mizz Stockton caught a glimpse of the mysterious Shazzy, who had apparently been coming to the clinic. Shazzy ducked out of sight, but not before Mizz Stockton saw him. She gave pursuit, which led eventually to one of the stairwells. She chose to go down and ran into a gang of a dozen heavily-armed individuals, none of whom she recognized. It was clear she had interrupted them prior to some violent endeavor. She and the two Have Rats with her, Jackson and Jeanette, realized they were severely outgunned, but the thugs also did not apparently consider that Mizz Stockton would run in on them without backup lurking nearby. Mizz Stockton attempted to talk her way out of the impasse, but ultimately relied on buying off the thugs, who were apparently mercenaries hired to cause trouble for someone in the tower. She got the name of the leader, Balls, and a location where she could contact him in the next few days if she wished.
Rhyme, remembering the infatuation that the young Chin had for her, invited the lad off to a private chat. Since her epiphany, her strange charisma has manifested itself in new and more alluring ways. It was no time at all before Chin was thoroughly in love with Rhyme, willing to do anything she wished. What Rhyme wished the lad to do was find Firestone’s hidden stash of Silence-fruit and destroy it. Rhyme convinced Chin in no uncertain terms that Firestone was addicted, and killing himself with these strange fruit. This Chin promised to do.
Firestone, for his part, sought medical attention after his fight. He was treated, and slept off the worst of the bruising, but the dreams that plagued him were far worse than the usual bouts of vivid madness that afflicted him before he started taking the Silence-fruit. Once he was released from the clinic, he rushed to his garage to take another berry only to find his secret stash gone. He freaked out, demanding that everyone in Team Badass open up their saddlebags, furious that someone had “stolen his shit.” Ultimately he determined that Chin was the culprit, and although Chin never betrayed his love, Firestone put two and two together from previous conversations and left to confront his oldest friend in the Supper Club.
Meanwhile, Silver was training a bruised up but happy Absinthe in her new duties as back-up bouncer for Mice. Absinthe was clearly a rough work in progress, not really understanding the notion of restrained violence necessary to be an effective bouncer, but she seemed willing to learn. Silver was informed that a new woman had arrived at the tower asking for her. A scantily-clad girl with a very big gun and a stone-cold attitude handed Silver a bag full of intact Butterfinger candy bars and was invited up to the Supper Club. Her name was Sunny, and she had come into Seattle from the north.
After Firestone and Rhyme had an inconclusive disagreement in a back room, Firestone began hitting “the good stuff” to drown his withdrawal while the Have-Rat Quick started chatting up Rhyme. Rhyme referenced the “piano-man,” a figure in one of her songs, and Quick spoke of a building full of broken and rotting pianos, and the possibility that maybe a full, working instrument could be salvaged with enough effort. The problem was, the building was at the edge of the Ravine. Another expedition was formulated, as Cass also needed to visit that vicinity to pick up a stash of useful supplies revealed to her by Mac. And, of course, to haul back a whole piano would require Firestone’s tank and a trailer. Firestone had an avid gleam in his eye about this expedition, remembering that the berries came from a Ravine savage. Quick left to start working on putting together a full group, and the rest spread out to consider what to bring.