The Spirit Of Mercy. Part Three

The party begins with a little rock n' roll Disney.

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Mercy had expected a swell of sound, followed by the cheers of the crowd and the euphoric force of musical melody. What she hadn't expected was for the first song played to actually end up being Under The Sea' from The Little Mermaid. Utterly bewildered by this the moment that the guitarist started playing the signature riff, her index finger moved ahead of her mind to take picture after picture after picture. She took pictures of the happily singing crowd, pictures of the happily singing drummer and even picture of the happily singing singer. The band seemed so smug in their expressions. The momentary shock and surprise caused by their choice in opener must have been the reason.

Though not a long song, the band on stage filled it with evenly spread solo sections. The deceptive intro showed only in those sections and proved itself to be the establishment of key only. Mercy enjoyed it. It was a bit metal, a bit rock and a bit pop. This was the Desperadoes sound.

They ended with a rather intense Bass solo, which seemed like the ideal time for Mercy to focus on the bassist himself. Many shots were spent on his moving fingers, some on his animated face and still more were full body shots, occasionally taken in black and white. By the end of the song, she had already managed to grab forty-seven photographs.

As much of a surprise as the track had been, the crowd loved every second of it, and proved this with their incredibly loud cheers. During the momentary break, Mercy heard the sound of her stalker security guard speaking with Roy. It's a security issue, he was saying, clearing hiding behind the mask of pretending to do his job. I'm sure you understand, Roy. We can't just have anybody wandering around the stage taking pictures and getting in the way. These musicians don't want to see that, and they're going to be pissed off at us if it's the case.

Leave er alone, Roy was countering. She's the Fire Brand photographer and this is the Fire Brand event. I don't get a choice in it, you don't get a choice in it and they don't get a choice in it. sides, she's a damned sight more welcome up ere than you are. She gives em reason to gloat and show off. You just make people nervous. What are you doin' up ere anyway?

She didn't want to turn around, so Mercy missed the expressions given, but the sound of the security guard's voice was enough to show his aggravation at being spoken to in such a way. Security is my number one concern, Roy. It's important to me to make sure that every where's safe.

Not ere it isn't. The James Frapman stage is my domain, so you can bugger off.

The Desperadoes started playing again before Mercy could hear any more, but she could guess what would have happened next. A passing glance while shifting position confirmed it: Roy's instructions had been followed. Looking back at the action, Mercy caught the bassist sticking his tongue right out for the camera. The next selection of pictures were similar in style. The band were loving the attention, and a quick lean out to take pictures of the crowd confirmed that they too were thoroughly enjoying her presence.

Happy with the task that she'd done so far, Mercy headed down from the stage, almost skipping past Roy like some sort of girl. She paused at the stairway and caught Roy on camera, dancing to the music. He didn't notice. She slipped away before he had the chance to spot her there. As she did so, Mercy realised that the Desperadoes were now playing the White Stripes behind her.

The job now would be the other tents and stages up and ready for performers. The Dance stage held little interest for her, but Mercy would have to wander in at some point. The acoustic stage seemed much more exciting, so she drifted in that direction. Moving farther and farther from the main stage meant that the volume died as well, which was a shame. Mercy quite enjoyed the White Stripes.

Sticking her head into the Dance tent, where the stage was situated, it became clear that they were having technical difficulties. The enormous collection of speakers, stacked three high and six wide, were releasing no sound at all. Mercy was okay with this, but the people in charge were already hard at work messing with the wiring and the mixing deck in the hope of fixing the problem. This was worth a few pictures, so she collected a few of the emergency set-up and the people waiting patiently for some music to start.

While doing this, she found herself being tapped on the shoulder. She regretted turning immediately; her nose became her worst enemy because of the all-consuming smell of weed. The man who sought her attention was a thin, but tall man, with long, blonde hair, a sideways cap and a somewhat vacant expression.

Are you the girl taking pictures? he asked in an exceptionally long and drawn our drawl.

That's what the camera's here for, and the Fire Brand job and all, responded Mercy. She was getting quite sick of people completely blanking out the fact that she was holding a camera now. It's my primary vocation in life, in fact.

The man smiled and slowly extended a muddy hand in Mercy's direction. I'm Jay, he said as he did so. I'm in charge of this stage. Sorry, we don't look so great right now, but you should have seen us when the speakers started falling over. They're a bit of a bitch to pick it again.

Mercy was happy that she wouldn't have to ask about the mud. They were all on a grassy floor after all. She took Jay's hand with only a few negligible reservations. It's alright, Jay, she told him, it can't all go brilliant and smooth, as I'm sure you know. It's better for everybody if we have problems here instead of over at the main stage.

Yeah, totally right, listen, Jay started monotonously, we've got some really good guys coming up on stage real soon. I think they'd really appreciate it if you were around to take their picture and shit. People keep saying that Fire Brand's only into rock and metal and stuff, but Matty told me we're all going to get equal exposure. So, I hope you're around and stuff, you know?

Oh, I'll make sure to give your stage equal attention with the rest of the entertainment here, said Mercy, lying through her teeth. She would be avoiding this place as much as possible, and Cooper had outright told her to do just that. Fire Brand was in no way just rock and metal, but most of its fan base was, and appealing to them was first and foremost in the Fire Brand mission statement. Differing genres was a perfect excuse. By reputation alone, it was indisputable. I was coming in now to see if I could take a few of your first performers, Mercy lied again. I wanted to make sure the starters didn't get forgotten in the mass, since we know that everything's going to be working towards the headliners near midnight. I suppose I'll have to move on to the acoustic stage, and that's a shame. I'll be back as soon as I can though, you can count on it.

Jay's face lit up and he smiled widely, though his eyes made no motion of movement whatsoever due to their current state of glazing. That's really good to know. It's the late start today, so it'll be quiet. I know a few of my guys wanted to make sure they got a bit of spotlight, but I'll talk to them and tell them what you said. I'm sure you'll make everybody feel better.

I do hope so, replied Mercy. Well, I'd better get myself back to work, or Matty will be after me. Goodbye.

Mercy backed out of the dance tent fairly quickly. Jay seemed like a nice enough person, though not somebody that she was ever likely to be honest with. He seemed like the sort of person that she could get along with brilliantly, but only until the end of the festival. Most of these people were ones that she would never see again, but this was hardly a problem. Mercy wasn't the sort to get attached to anybody.

There was already a crowd gathering outside of the tent that housed the acoustic stage. Dozens of people had congregated, drinking calmly in little knots and just listening to the sounds coming from inside. Acoustic performers didn't need to be seen; just heard. Mercy could hear the music before she even arrived nearby. There was no rise and fall of sound, no tricky but comical riffs and no fast paced roar of noise. Instead, the sounds were elegant, conceptualised and patient. Mercy had been looking forward to this.

She took a few pictures of the waiting crowd, some with their eyes closed, as they waited and listened. After that, she moved inside, and saw that everybody there was simply sitting on the floor, calmly admiring the bearded man in the black shirt who was entertaining them. This begged for images to be taken, but so did the musician himself. The chords were the verse and chorus, but as he swept into an interlude he surprised everybody by shifting his plectrum in between his teeth and starting to lightly tap and slap his guitar. The hollow instrument resounded in all the right ways, adding percussion from his flicks and prods and showing utter perfection in the execution. Here was a master of a talent that Mercy hadn't even considered before. Just as smoothly, when the verse came in again, he opened his teeth a little and his plectrum dropped back into his waiting hand to return to chords.

Vocal expressions of delight from his spectators were limited to gasps and some small disbelieving laughter, but the artist performing continued with his song, reaching back to the microphone to sing about a small house in the country, where his wife waited for him. It was like the blues, but not quite. There was optimism, hope and promise. These things would never be captured on camera, but Mercy tried her best anyway. At the very least, the memory would stay with her. This would be hard to beat.

Mercy could have gladly spent the rest of the festival sitting on the cold ground in the acoustic tent, but work and her stomach would not allow it. The reminder that she hadn't eaten all day came when her stomach made a loud and telling growl that actually made somebody in front of her turn around to see what had managed to be louder than the guitar for him. This, Mercy decided, was the right time to duck out.

The beauty of being a Fire Brand employee was that everything here was free for her. This was absolutely fantastic news. Near the back of the compound, she found a trailer selling burgers and hot dogs. Being capable of waving her lanyard and getting whatever she wanted, Mercy knew for a fact that she would indulge her taste buds and get one of each, despite her slight frame and the fact that she was short enough to need heels in her boots. While sitting and consuming these, a thought came to her. It was also within the capabilities of her lanyard to get alcohol.

Though told that she looked older, Mercy was still only seventeen, which meant that getting hold of alcohol was a little difficult for her. Not only were her friends bringing a case of the stuff for her, but the beer tent was also in reach, free and licensed to offer her a range of options. Put simply, a tent full of awesome was within her reach, and that was decision enough to make it her next destination. Beer itself was enough of a plan, as long as Cooper didn't end up looking over her shoulder. She would have to be careful of him.

Leaving her napkins and her remnants on the table she had been sitting at, Mercy went in search of a drink to really get things moving.

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