[Fury] Meeting of the Minds (Vignette 4.0)

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Vignette,

After agreeing to advise you and work with you on Pike, your father was interrupted by Buck, who whispered in his ear for a moment You heard something about the greenhouse. Admiral excused himself to continue talking with Buck and asked you to order “whatever you want” to eat.

While you’re eating, you get a flash of something, Vignette. A vision of the crimson shores. A look at Cujo, mounting up onto her h-bike, and riding out onto the water. Smoke. Fire behind her on the shore. Her face is determined, and she’s ready to hurt someone. She doesn’t look back.

Hope
”Vignette… Vignette?” Hope draws you out of your reverie, speaking in her languid tone once she’s sure you’re alone. ”Are you alright? Admiral’s been, well, concerned. About you, I think.

Hope looks around again, a little conspiratorial look in her eye as she obviously prepares to share something secret. “Did you know he’s doubled the number of Safecoins to pay for workers from the outskirts? To beef up the garage and... well it’s like they’re getting ready for... something.”

What do you do?

Comments

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    I am glad that the Admiral seems satisfied with how I am handling Pike and is willing to work with me. I absorb his words, all the while my consciousness washing over his.

    Using the holds from the Casual Brain Receptivity (rolled 13):


    1. What is the Admiral really feeling?

    2. What does the Admiral really intend to do?*

    3. How can I convince the Admiral to let me take Hope? (e.g., would he "give" me Hope in lieu of the jingle he owes me?)

    The Admiral is pulled away by Buck. This is probably good--I have seen more of his mind than he guesses, without his having a chance to grill me.

    I am eating, mulling over the Admiral's not-words, when suddenly, I flash on Cujo. She is riding out over the sea, looking like she is preparing to hurt someone--in other words, looking like Cujo. For several moments? seconds? minutes? I lose sight of my surroundings. I sit in one of the Yacht Club's rich leather chairs. Bloody surf rolls up the beach to stain the sand and lap at the legs of my chair. I pull my legs up and sit cross-legged, avoiding the bloody water. The stench of salt and blood assaults my nostrils, driving out the rich smell of the coffee sitting on the table next to me. As if grasping for normalcy amid this sudden shift, I find myself worrying that the front legs of the table might sink into the wet sand and dump my coffee into the red surf. I reach out to hold the cup, its white porcelain painted red by the fire lighting the beach behind me. I blink, and I'm looking into Cujo's eyes once again. I can see the mixture of fear, aggression, and exhilaration in her face--the clenched jaw, her lips splitting the difference between a smile and a snarl, the fire in her eyes surpassing the fires on shore in intensity.

    What could this vision mean? Is Cujo in some sort of danger? Or are the fire and bloody sea metaphors for her inner turmoil over...whatever we are...versus her allegiance to the Arrows? I am comforted by the thought that the vision is heavily steeped in metaphor either way. H-bikes are not water vehicles, and regardless, Cujo would not do something so foolhardy. That part rings false, and a sliver of fear enters my thoughts as I turn that idea over and over, watching the bloody surf and listening to the receding whine of h-bikes.

    Hope breaks me out of the vision. Sand and surf melt away. The whine of an h-bike overlaps the noise of the Yacht Club for a few seconds, and I shake my head a little, driving away the echoes. My chair is once again on the solid floor of the Yacht Club. Steam rises from my coffee, though it takes a moment for the rich smell of coffee to replace the sharp tang of blood and salt. I am surprised at Hope's speaking, even smiling. I had thought her close to catatonic lately. Has she changed or was she putting on an act for Harbormaster and the Admiral? Regardless, I am happy to see this change in her.

    I return her smile. "I am fine. Thank you. The Admiral is 'concerned' how? Concern is a many-faceted thing for my--the Admiral."

    I listen intently as Hope describes the Admiral's preparations. "The Admiral did not discuss his preparations with me. OOC: Though maybe his surface thoughts betrayed some of this--see above read of his intentions.

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    Vignette,

    Answers to the Admiral probing questions:

    1. What is the Admiral really feeling?

    2. He trusts your word about Pike. However, he thinks you're naive if you trust the Pikers. He trusts none of them, they're Millions' people in his mind.
    3. What does the Admiral really intend to do?*

    4. He has been beefing up his forces into a small army. He'd intended to come take Pike if you were in trouble. Now, he's content to wait some time to see if it comes to pass.
      He'll tell you he'll use them against the Tax Patrol, and he will if that benefits Safeco. But he really started it over Pike.
    5. How can I convince the Admiral to let me take Hope? (e.g., would he "give" me Hope in lieu of the jingle he owes me?)

    6. Admiral knows she's a spy, and he's happy to give her to you. He'll need to let HM approve it, or give Hope to you and give him a new spy. He doesn't want HM to think he's out of the loop, even though he is.
    Hope
    "Your... what, Vignette?" Hope asks with some curiosity. "You called Admiral your something."

    What do you do?
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    "My boss. Former boss, really. I used to work exclusively for the Admiral."

    I immediately feel bad, like I have lied to Hope--which I have not...not really. I want to trust Hope, but I do not understand what she is doing with the Harbormaster. Ace was always touchy on that subject. If anyone knows the Admiral is my father, it would be Hope, who seems to be a semi-confidant to the only two men who definitely do know. Maybe it would buy some trust to tell her...

    I move from my chair to sit on the bench next to Hope and lean in close to her. I am careful not to touch her, uncomfortably aware of the similarity between what I amd doing and the behavior of the Admiral and Harbormaster towards her. "It is more than that. But almost no one knows. Can you keep a secret, Hope?"

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    Casual brain receptivity: (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 5, 2. Total: 9)

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    Vignette,

    Hope
    Hope gives you a serious look, the fog of her normal demeanor nearly gone. "I want to tell you I can, Vignette. But HM's strings are tight, and if he asks, I'll tell." She swallows a little, looks away. "I'm sorry."

    What do you do?
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    “It is okay. I know what it is like to be under someone else’s influence.” I reach out hesitantly to touch her arm. “I will just tell you things he already knows,” I say with a smile. “That still leaves almost everything.” I am quiet for a bit, reluctant to actually say the words now that it comes to it. I have never told anyone. I do not even have a good reason to tell Hope, just a…kind of sense of a kindred spirit, sympathy for another young woman caught between these two ruthless, manipulative men. “Many people know I worked for the Admiral for many years, doing…frightening things…to extract information. What no one knows–except probably Harbormaster–is that the Admiral…is my father.”

    “Is there anything I can do to help you? To break the Harbormaster’s hold? I am not a stranger to…entering a person’s mind and…pulling.” Or breaking things.

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    Vignette,

    Hope
    Hope's eyes widen slightly when you reveal your parentage. She controls it, keeps from gawking, but she had no idea. She recovers when you offer help, looks away for a moment, answering in a far-off voice, "It's the Home he gives me. I have to have it. And... he fixed my leg. He can make you so much more, if you let him."
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    “What is Home like, Hope? Is it a good thing or is it a trap? And what do you mean ‘he fixed your leg’?”

  • edited September 2015
    Hope
    Hope reaches with her left hand to take yours. "My leg was soaked, Vignette. Don't you remember when it was run over?" It was a bad accident, one of the Arrow motorcyclists ran her over during a running battle with Tax Patrol. She licks her lips, speaks in this voice dipped with wonder. "He shaped my flesh. Reworked it. I didn't see, the pain was too much and I passed out. When I came back, it was..." She lifts her leg, turns her foot a little. There is so light scarring, but on her, it looks like rotting beauty marks.

    "And Home is heaven on earth, Vignette. Nothing bad that happens is as bad as the good that Home feels to me."
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    Harbormaster is a mass of contradictions… “Is he ever…unkind to you–Harbormaster? Or the Admiral?”

  • Hope
    "Your father has never even touched me, Vignette." Hope says quietly, eyes alert for eavesdroppers. "In public, he's near me. Possessive, even. But once we enter his quarters, he's distant. Aloof. As for HM, well yes, he's been unkind when I didn't do my, uhm, my job. In the past. But I learned how to keep him happy. When he's happy, I can have Home." A soft smile plays at her lips.
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    “The Home that Harbormaster offers destroys the people that depend on it. None of your friends or family want that for you. You have a real home with Ace and the rest of the Arrows. And the difference is that you can come and go as you like–there are no strings like with Harbormaster.”

  • Hope
    Hope withdraws her hand and slides back into her slightly vague expression. "Please don't lecture me, Vignette. I've had enough of that from Gates' people, and Ivar, and that old garden lady. And Ace. I've got a list a mile long of people who want to tell me what I should do and where I should go. I... I didn't think you were like that."
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    "I am sorry. I was concerned about you, and I overstepped. I will not do this again." I pause and look for acknowledgment in her eyes. "No more lectures. Just know that if the time ever comes that you want my help, you will have it. I am sure the same is true of Ace, Dog, Bon... You have friends you can call on."

    "How about a change of subject?" I say, trying to smile. "I want to find a golden ear while I am here at Safeco--as a surprise for Cujo, to replace her broken one." I try not to blush, but I feel my face get hot. "I had a lab, when I still worked for the Admiral, and it was full of all sorts of tech--not a golden ear, but all that tech came from somewhere. Have you seen anything like that?"

  • Hope
    Hope relaxes when you change subjects, you get the feeling she's well aware that she'd get help if she asked. You also know she won't ask.

    "I was still with the Arrows when Cujo got her ear. She was so happy to hear again." Hope shares with a hint of a smile in memory. "The guy who made it was named Norvell. Guy was a wiz with gadgets, like HM is with flesh. He rode on up north a couple summers ago, hasn't been back. Cujo went looking for him when her ear started dying, but she came back empty handed. It was so sad." She peers at you again, curious. "Why do you want to get Cujo something? Is she mad at you?"
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    “Norvell… I think I have heard the name. I cannot go north–not with Pike to look after. I could send someone, but if Cujo failed to find him…”

    When Hope asks why I want to find a golden ear and whether it is because Cujo is mad at me, I smile, remembering the very not-mad look on Cujo's face the last time I saw her. “Novell can do things with tech. Harbormaster can do things with flesh. I can do things with minds. I was in Cujo’s mind and felt the happiness she felt when she had the golden ear. I felt her grief when it no longer worked.”

    I shrug. “It is such a little thing to make her so happy. Have you seen how her eyes change when she is happy? And the way she runs the tip of her tongue across that chipped incisor? It is like a smile--but not the same as the one right before she hits someone.”

    I look away self-consciously, maybe reddening a little. “Anyway, I can get it for her–or thought I would have a better chance than some–so I think I should.”

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    Vignette,

    A hint of awareness colors Hope's face, but she lets it ride, saying nothing about your revelation, the second in this brief meeting. Admiral comes back over and you see Buck leaving quickly.

    Admiral
    "That took longer than expected." He takes his seat beside Hope, and you see the haze slide back onto her face as she looks out of the window to the outside. Your father asks, "What else did you want to work on, Vignette?"
  • edited September 2015

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    "Two things," I say, briskly. The Admiral likes his conversations brisk, I think to myself as I take on just enough of his manner to make him more comfortable with me. When you have lived your whole life reaching into another people's heads, social mirroring becomes an art form.

    First, I wanted to complete our deal regarding Auto Duel days. Pike goes quiet on Auto Duel days, and in return, you supply some additional security. As we have discussed, Pike is not defensible in any conventional sense. Your forces are not there to help repel an invading force. They are there so that anyone thinking to attack Pike knows that they will be attacking you as well. For this purpose, ten men should be sufficient."

    "Second, I need someone skilled with tech, someone like...oh...who was the guy who made some of the shinier bits of my lab? Norvell, right? Him or someone like him. Not looking to lure away any of your folks. I just need someone for a couple projects."

    "And third--" I smile and add, "--because when have you ever known me to really have just two points?" I pause and flick my eyes at Hope. "The third is something for just your ears."

  • Admiral
    Admiral listens to you tick off your points, and frowns slightly when you slip in a third. He looks over to Hope at the end, realizing you mean her, and says, "Hope, I want you to go for a walk. Head over the the Greenhouse and tell Tiffany I said you could walk in the garden."

    Hope looks over at you both, nods languidly, then excuses herself. As she rises from the table, she pulls a small vial from a pocket in her dress and quaffs the liquid. For a moment, she closes her eyes, savoring the sensation. Then she practically glides out of the Yacht Club.

    Your father turns back to you, "The first point, security and Motor Duels, we are agreed. If you required more security, I can provide it to you at a very reduced cost, The markets of Pike are as important to the stability of the region as Safeco's security. As for a fixit with Norvell's skill, you can work with Ephram. He and Runaround in Pike are two of the best mechanics around. I think Ephram is better suited for more personal objects like your tech. But you pay for the projects, and for his work, at cost."

    He pauses to take a drink of the coffee he brought over, arches a brow, showing interest (which he rarely does), and asks, "What is this third request, daughter?"

    What do you do?
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    "The third is not a request. Or maybe it is, but the request would be for you and I to think through something together." Incredibly, I think I am about to be completely honest and guileless with my father, maybe for the first time since...I am not sure I can remember another time.

    "It is about Hope, and Harbormaster. Harbormaster is...I do not know exactly what he is. I know he is a schemer. I know I do not trust him. He is ruthless. He can be kind, but I am not sure that he ever is without another agenda. I do not know what the deal is between you and him with respect to Hope, but I know he still has a hold on her. It is this drug he calls 'Home'. It is why she is loopy all the time. I hate seeing her that way. She was an Arrow, Ace's sister. She should not be a slave to Harbormaster. Or to you," I add, looking him in the eye with something more like resolve than defiance. "I came here hoping to get you to give her to me instead of payment for my intel on Harbormaster. I figured she is just a pretty trinket to you, and I could reunite her with the Arrows. But...she does not want to go back to them. I am afraid if I took her from you, she would just end up back with Harbormaster, which would be way worse--" I look up apologetically. "Not that--I mean... Ugh. You know what I mean. She is my age--maybe--and she is drugged out all the time... But you are not Harbormaster. This all sounded less insulting in my head... I do not mean it to be... I...I just want to help Hope. I do not know how. I wanted you to know about this drug 'Home', if you do not already. Harbormaster is a treacherous, scheming creature. Now, he is here, and I am sure he does not mean you well. I do not know how I can help, but I thought that maybe together, we could figure out what to do about him."

  • Admiral
    Your father listens. Nods in a few places. The revelation of "Home" is a bit of a surprise to him, you can tell. He takes a long drink of his coffee before answering, like he's collecting his thoughts. "Vignette, I'm well aware of Hope's age. I didn't know she was an Arrow until SeaTac told me, and she's never asked to be freed. If she did, I would let her go. Simple as that. Yes, HM gave her to me, but I've told her she was free to do as she wishes, and she chooses to stay here." He clears his throat, "I knew she was taking something, it's obvious she's an addict. I figured it was how HM kept her working for him. That's all I've learned so far." He meets your eyes for a moment, his voice dropping into something more earnest, less harsh in tone, "I haven't been with a woman since your mother, Vignette. You know that, right?
  • edited September 2015

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    I look at him, first with disbelief, then surprised puzzlement. “Hope said you had not…with her. But you are surrounded by beautiful women often. I had assumed…” Daddy hides things from me all the time, but he does not often bother to lie. I did not ask, and I do not know what he thinks to gain… “Daddy…” I say quietly. “That was so long ago…”

  • Admiral
    "HM doesn't need to know this, of course." Admiral says as if he's holding you in confidence, Vignette. "I may have to sleep with Hope if I keep her around much longer. I doubt HM understands why I don't.. take advantage of what she's offered. She's been trying, ah, more and more often. It's not easy, saying no."
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    “Ewww! I know I said I assumed, but…” I shake my head and mime plugging my ears, grinning at him.

    After a few moments, I turn serious. In a low voice I ask, “Daddy? How does Harbormaster know my mother? He…mentioned her to me, and it seemed like he actually knew her–knew she liked to sing…”

  • Admiral
    His jaw clenches, the hand on his coffee mug tightens until you see white knuckles. "Your mother cheated on me with him. She said I was too busy for her, for you both. He was this handsome young man, gave her all the attention she craved. It was... your mother almost broke me." He takes a drink from his mug, looking at the brown liquid instead of your eyes.
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    I stand abruptly, take a step to close the distance between us, and slap him across the face. "LIAR! You robbed me of her, made me grow up without a mother. But that is not enough for you--now, you want to ruin even my memories of her. Why? So you can gain some sort of psychological advantage? Daddy sees his chance to rule both holds, and all he has to do is break his daughter, take away the memories that have kept her sane all these years. I will not let you do that. I know you murdered her--I have always known!" My first couple sentences come out harsh and venomous, fueled by my sudden anger. As I go on, though, I can hear my voice becoming shrill and hysterical. He might kill me. He might--for striking him in public, for calling him "Daddy" where others could hear, for finally confronting him about the murder of my mother. The tears are coming now. At least if he kills me, I finally got to say what I have kept bottled up all these years.

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    Vignette,

    Everything around you, Vignette, becomes suddenly quiet. The clink of forks and spoons on bowls and plates. The low murmurs of conversation. People moving to and fro in the Yacht Club, a place you've been a hundred times or more. They all stop. Even Youdub STFU. And you can feel their eyes, you can sense their shock.

    That slap.

    And now Admiral's eyes. His rage-filled eyes.

    Admiral
    "Vignette," he says in that cold voice he uses when he's on the brink of screaming. "I have provided everything you'd need to survive and thrive in this world. I have built this place, secured it, created a garden, culture, everything you would need to become a better person." He stands, and people near the fringes of the Yacht Club, far enough from his gaze to chance an escape, quickly slip out the door, or into the kitchen. He glares at the crowd, willing them to shirk back.

    His eyes bore back on you, "Your unfaithful mother left me! She left you, but you cling onto this hateful memory like some soaking child! Did you take over Pike on some foolish desire to unseat me?!?"

    You hear a couple of the inside gang heading over, Vignette. They might be here to back up the Admiral. They might be here to hurt you.

    What do you do?
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    "Unseat you?! Absolutely not! What takes place between the Admiral and the Mistress of Pike has no bearing on the personal business between you and I. You made me this way--able to be cold, able to compartmentalize. Yes, you developed my talents, you made me successful, able to take and run a place like Pike, but you did it for your benefit."

    My voice drops low enough that the crowd, pulled back as they are, should hear snarls and hisses, but hopefully not content. Even in my emotional state, I recognized that there are limits to what I can shout in the Yacht Club. My voice is shaking, my hands are shaking. I speak through clenched teeth part of the time. "I have been your weapon for years--your secret weapon. You would not acknowledge me--no, having a daughter was not nearly so valuable as having a secret mind breaker. I have had instructors and resources, not a father...and not a mother." My eyes are tearing up, and I am trembling as I go on, trying to shore up my anger against a rising wave of desperation. "My mother would not have left me! She was going to take me with her! I remember! The suitcase she was packing, it had my stuff in it too. You stopped her. She would never have left me. You killed her." This last is a harsh whisper, equal parts accusation and plea.

    I look down, unable to meet his gaze anymore, but also sensing the approach of others and casting a glance around to get a sense for how to protect myself. Spider, usually full of irritating commentary, watches silently from the hollow between my neck and shoulder. My hand slides into my pocket and grasps the round, metallic pain wave projector. My finger finds the activation button.

    OOC: About to Read a Sitch

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    Read a Sitch: (Rolled: 2d6+0. Rolls: 1, 6. Total: 7)

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    What should I be on the lookout for?

  • edited September 2015
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    Vignette,

    Admiral won't violate the safety of Yacht Club because of a few harsh words. His men will either escort you out and hurt you, or follow you out. And hurt you. Nothing permanent, a message. You've seen them delivered. Now, you're going to be on the receiving end of one.

    Admiral
    "Where's your proof? Who's selling you this line, Vignette?" Admiral says harshly. "HM wants to scrog you, so he fills your head with this? I will crush him. I should have crushed him years ago. This is the last straw."

    One of the guards, Speed, he's coming up, about to take your arm and lead you away.

    What do you do?
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    "Proof? There will not be proof. It has been too long, you are too smart. Harbormaster is not involved in this. It is me. I remember."

    My voice takes on a haunted quality as I relive the experience of that stormy night. "I remember the fear in her eyes as she was rushing to pack our things. I was in the closet when you fought with my mother. And when I came out, the suitcase was still there and she was not. It took a long time for me to admit it to myself, but I have suspected since that day that you must have killed her."

    My voice takes on a sudden bitter edge as I say, "Do not worry, Daddy. You are above the law."

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    Vignette,

    You feel a grip, firm, but not painful. It's Speed, you don't even need to look back at him.

    Admiral
    "I will honor the agreements we made today, Vignette." Admiral says in a sharp tone, loud enough for all to hear. "I loved my wife, your mother. Your accusations are lies, and I will not discuss it further. Speed, please escort Vignette out of the Yacht Club. I am sorry things had to be this way, daughter."

    Speed starts to pull at your arm, quietly urging you to leave. Your father remains in his seat, glowering at you, sitting there like a tyrant.

    What do you do?
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    I let Speed lead me away. There is nothing else for me here. I have dreamt of confronting my father about my mother’s disappearance for years. It was always so much more satisfying in my imaginings. He would be shocked at the revelation that I knew, stammer out unconvincing lies about how he could not have done it, just to have me expose the inconsistencies in his tale. Then, he would give up and admit everything, sometimes defiantly, sometimes tearfully. Always, he would fear me. Sometimes I would let him live.

    But now I have finally confronted him, and it was not at all what I had imagined it would be. He was not afraid. Worse, he did not sound like he was lying. I was so caught up in the moment, I was unable to concentrate, unable to separate his thoughts from my own imaginings of him. I do not know whether he spoke the truth or not.

    Once we are out of the Yacht Club, all the adrenaline and anger and frustration hit me. I am mortified to find that hot tears are running down my face. I keep my head down, hoping my hood and hair will hide my tears. I want to get myself under control before Jax and Suquamish see me. If they are not here, I will head to my old haunt behind the left field scoreboard. I do not think the Mistress of Pike is supposed to cry...

  • edited September 2015
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    Vignette,

    Speed keeps hold of your arm as you stride out of the Yacht Club. The old man scowls at guards to let you through, and you notice he isn't watching your face like maybe he knows you wouldn't want him to do that. He waves off the other guard, walks with you towards the ramp down to the ground level, slows his pace once you're both out of sight.

    Speed
    "Vinny," Speed says in his low grumble, "Anyone who gives Admiral lip like that, who lays hands on him, in public... we gotta beat their ass. That's Admiral's rules. If we let someone disrespect him, for any reason, then it all crumbles down." He lets go of your arm. "What do you have to say about... about that, Vinny?" He looks at you now, waits for your response.
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    I take a moment to wipe my tears away, then turn to him red eyed. “Do not call me ‘Vinny’ and threaten me at the same time.” I say, angrily. “I think you should consider that this situation is unique,” I say more calmly. “Nothing is going to ‘crumble down’ as a result of this, because no one else is in the position to talk to the Admiral like that. No one else is the Witch of Pike, and no one else is…” I hesitate, not knowing how much was overheard. Speed was right there at the end, though. He must have heard enough. “No one else is his daughter–or if he still wants to keep that secret, no one else has the long-standing relationship that I do with him. That should get you off the hook with him, and it should satisfy the gawkers.”

    “If that is not good enough for you, I can only offer one other bit of information–and this one might really be the deal clencher–but it is a secret.” Smiling sweetly, I send my mind flooding into his. Barbed tendrils of my will coil around his consciousness as if around an unwary bird. I say inside his mind, “I will crush your rotting brain inside your head if you do not back the flood away, call off anyone you have hiding here, and let me walk away peacefully.”

  • edited September 2015

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    Direct-brain whisper projection: (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 6, 5. Total: 13)

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    Vignette,

    Speed
    Speed looks at you with horror growing on his old face. "Vin...Vignette. I wasn't. I wasn't gonna do it. I jus wanted you to know what I done, is all. How I... stuck my neck out for ya." Sweat drips off his nose and the side of his face. Slowly, cautiously, he takes a direct step back. The moment you loosen your grip on his mind, he's gone.

    What do you do?
  • Marking XP (2)
  • edited September 2015

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    I feel a little bad. Maybe Speed really was not trying to threaten me. Well, he should have chosen his words more carefully...and I only gave him a scare. I no longer feel the need to wallow in sadness in my old nest with the numbered windows. I have done what I came here to do. And a bit more, it seems. I should conclude my business and get back to Pike. Briefly, I think about stopping in at the Arrows' den. I would love to see Cujo...all the Arrows, really. Except...I am not ready to face Dog again yet. She may still be mad about Millions. I long to join the pile... It is ridiculous to think that this would be possible, but just the thought makes me want to visit the Arrows. But being chased away would be worse. I have to get back to Pike anyway, so the pile is out of the question. Showing up with Jax and Suquamish in tow would be asking for trouble, as would giving them the slip for too long.

    Speaking of Jax, he is probably freaking out a little by now. He probably also has Suquamish with him. There is one stop I would like to make without her, and it is near enough that it will not add so much to Jax's worries. Avoiding the main thoroughfares as best I can, I head for Bon's infirmary.

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    Vignette,

    You head down to the infirmary, which is full and manned by Mox and Shy, along with a man you recognize from HM's boats, the one called Decatur.

    Shy
    When you come in, Shy looks up from the floor. Looks like she's been scrubbing at something on the tile with an old toothbrush. "Hey Vignette." She peers at you curiously, doesn't get up, but her face is open."Are you okay?"
    How do you and Shy get along? You're nearly the same age, right?

    Decatur
    Decatur looks up now, too. He's been sitting on a stool beside a blonde woman who looks comatose. He seems intrigued by you, and you notice Spider scurries over towards him, starts crawling up his leg.
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    When Spider scuttles away to the man--one of Harbormaster's, I send a thread of will after him and watch for any signs of trouble from either party. People do not always like spiders, and Spider does not always like people. I do not want anyone smashed or bitten. If the man shows signs of fear or aggression, I will pull Spider back, but for now, I watch, interested.

    Shy's greeting captures some of my attention. "Hello Shy. I am fine." I think she sees that I am not, quite, and I quickly glance back to Spider, not wanting my eyes to say more.

    Shy and I have always gotten along well. I am a couple years older, but had been kept closer to home for longer, so Shy was the more worldly and experienced. Almost immediately, we had a bond based on our both having very stoic, somewhat rigid parental figures. I would never say it to Shy, but I think she is a little hard on Bon on that point. Bon is not the Admiral. Over the years, I have often been envious of Shy's relationship with Bon. I had, in fact, been pleased at the excuse to talk with her and am a little disappointed to find her absent.

    Hopefully, Bon just stepped out or something. "Is Bon around?" Aware of the Harbormaster's people and others I don't recognize, I make eye contact with Shy and incline my head, hoping to convey that there is something I cannot discuss in public. "If not, maybe you could take a look. I have a problem of a private nature."

  • edited September 2015
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    Vignette,

    Spider continues to Decatur, and he stoops down to offer her hand. Spider pauses, almost like it is considering this, then climbs up his hand, forearm, arm and then shoulder. He watches spider calmly, not touching or petting it.

    Shy
    "Bon went out with the Arrows earlier this morning." Shy answers, trying to sound calm, but there's tension in her voice. She walks with you deeper into the infirmary, what was a closet and is the only private space for examinations. She looks you over closely, "What's wrong, Vignette?"
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    What could Spider be doing? For that matter, what is the man doing? Few people invite spiders that size to crawl on them...

    I follow Shy, make sure no one is within earshot. Keeping my voice low, I say, "This conversation needs to be just between you, Bon, and myself. Is that okay?" Presuming she assents, I continue. "What have you heard about a drug called 'Home'?"

  • Shy
    "Before Decatur," Shy whispers back, "Nothing. He's mentioned it a few times. At first, I was confused, like he missed that boat of his or something. Eventually I figured out he was talking about a drug. HM makes it? Why?"
  • edited September 2015

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    I reach out to Shy’s mind. This is too important to not use everything at my disposal.
    *Casual thought receptivity*

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    *Casual thought receptivity: (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 1, 1. Total: 4)

    Marking XP(3)*

  • edited September 2015

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    “You have seen what it does to people? Bon has seen? It is addictive, I think. Have you and Bon talked about whether there is anything that can be done for these people?”
    I am reasonably sure that Shy–absolutely sure that Bon–would view the drug as something to be avoided at least, fought if possible. I want to feel Shy out about that before letting her know I have a sample.

  • Shy
    "Our patients are suffering from withdrawal, Vignette." Shy says simply, not sharp. She walks over to sit on a small desk. "We're working on a cure, of course. Bon tried to get some clearwater from the forest, but that went off the rails." She looks a little closer, "Are you.. on it now?"
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    "No, of course not," I answer swiftly. "But...would it help you and Bon to have a sample of the stuff?"

  • Shy
    "It would totally help, Vignette," Shy answers seriously, meeting your eyes. "But you shouldn't mess with HM. Decatur's told me stories. He's a bad dude."
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    "He is absolutely a bad dude." I take the vial out of my coat and it hold up for Shy to view. "He only let me have this on the condition that one of his addicts babysit me and watch me take it. I was hoping Bon could use it to help the people hooked on it--and that she could come up with something that looks like it, so my babysitter can watch me take that while you use this to find a cure or something." I look at her hopefully. "Is that something you can do? My babysitter will find me soon and get suspicious if I do not have the vial."

  • Shy
    Shy squints, leans forward and looks at the vial, "Yeah, Vignette, that's great!" She reaches for it, saying, "We don't have a vial like this, but we can pour this out and put in something that looks like it back in. I just need to check how thick the liquid is and take a look at the color. Alright?"
  • edited September 2015

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    I am reluctant to give the vial up, now that it comes to it, but ‘life is risk’, as I told the Admiral, though partly because I was mirroring him at the time. I have known Shy for years, she does not appear “Home-haunted”. If I cannot trust her

    “No one but you and Bon can know about this. Not your patients, not Hope, no one. I do not know what Harbormaster would do.” I hand the vial over carefully. “My babysitter needs to believe the replacement is real. I can sift through her thoughts to know how to react, but if you have anything you can add to make me a little glassy-eyed without incapacitating me, that would help.”

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    I am not reading Shy as well as I would like. Maybe I am still off balance from my fight with Daddy… I reach out to discern what Shy intends to do.

    OOC: This is my question from my snake-eyes roll.

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    Vignette,

    Shy is going to give some of it to Decatur, he talks about it so often. Plus, she can study how it works, and she feels awful for him. The rest will go to Bon for study.

    And she's going to lie to you about this, Vignette, tell you what you want to hear.
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    I leave the infirmary, having impressed upon Shy the importance of keeping that sample of Home secret from all but Bon. I am still distracted from my fight with Daddy, and Shy is distracted with worry for Bon and the Arrows--probably wants to be with them. It made her very hard to read--so much noise. But Shy knows how important it is that Bon have enough of the stuff, and she knows that keeping this secret could be literally life or death where I am concerned. I am sure I can count on her. I steal a look at the sample. I would not be able to tell the difference. With the narcotic Shy added to it and my ability to pick up surface thoughts, I should be able to convincingly portray a first-time Home user.

    With that out of the way, and a smile on my face, I take off in the direction of Ephram's shop, keeping an eye out for Jax. Maybe he has found something to keep him occupied--a nice girl or something. It is a strange thought. I do not believe I have ever seen Jax off-duty. Probably, he is fuming somewhere about my ditching him. I really only meant to ditch Suquamish... I will reunite with my surly retinue and visit Ephram to see if he can craft a new golden ear for Cujo.

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    Vignette,

    You find Suquamish and Jax looking for you near the greenhouse. Jax seems relaxed about it, but Suquamish is irritated.

    Suquamish
    "Vignette, you should not have left me." She says this directly. "Where is Home? Did you take it already?"

    Jax
    Jax interposes himself between Suquamish and you. He ignores Suquamish, just gets in her way. "Admiral's guards are less than helpful. They're watching us like hawks. We need to GTFO, Vignette."
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    “Then let the hawks escort us to Ephram’s shop. I have business to take care of there. Then, we will, as you say. ‘GTFO’.” I nod at Jax. Only after answering him do I turn my attention to Suquamish. “I have not had time to even think about Home,” I say curtly. “Recall that I explained to Harbormaster in your presence that I intended to conduct my business first. Also, I think you will recall that you are supposed to make sure I do not encounter problems. Even if I had wanted to try it, you got lost, apparently.”

    I hope that by being superior and abusive, I can drive out any thought that I was avoiding her or had any thoughts about Home.

  • edited September 2015
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    Vignette,

    Suquamish's mouth becomes a thin line, and you can feel her counting to keep her cool. Jax is more worried about the guards who seem to be around everywhere. You recognize them, you know most of them by name. They're your daddy's people, but they know you, Vignette.

    Jax
    "Ephram? Jax repeats the name, breaking Suquamish's stare. "He's the mechanic, yeah. I can get you there. Let's go before this place gets any more crowded."

    The three of you trek down into the basement of Safeco, where greasy men and women work on dozen of cars in various states of completion. There are large guns on these machines, Vignette. This is more than you've seen before, a serious commitment of armament and funds to create something powerful. Whatever took down HM's yacht might have caused this. Or it could've been your usurpation of Pike. Probably a combination of the two, other factors you haven't considered, maybe.

    Sparks fly from someone grinding down some metal to fit on the front of what used to be a school bus, like a train's cow-catcher, if you can imagine. You find Ephram there, looking it over.

    Ephram treats you different than most people here do. How does it feel to be around him? Why do you think he doesn't shirk from your approach?

    Ephram
    "Hey there, Vignette." Ephram says when eh sees you. He glances at Jax, his eyes linger on Suquamish, but he continues talking to you. "Admiral sent a runner. Said to help you with something about an ear?" He glances over at Suquamish again, back to you, "I know the savvyhead who made Cujo's. Only one I ever saw." He scratches his beard, "I think I could make it, but I'd need Cujo's ear. And I sure as soak don't wanna take it from her, capice?"
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    Ephram treats me differently because while most of these people are afraid of what I might do to them, Ephram has experienced it. He does not shrink away from me because he knows I never meant any of it to be the way it was.

    I was only about twelve years old. Ephram seemed like a grown man to me, but he was not much more than a kid himself–twenty-something I guess. Daddy was “developing me”. He would use me in interrogations, get me to force the truth from people…sometimes get me to force them to confess to his truth rather than the truth. I was not very good at it then. People died more often than not, or they ended up broken, whether or not they cracked. It was necessary, Daddy said, for me to develop my abilities. He said he only brought me people that deserved what they got. For awhile, I believed him. For awhile longer, I wanted to.

    Daddy brought me Ephram because he thought Ephram was stealing parts and selling them on the black market. This was ridiculous. Everyone who knew Ephram knew he would never. Except he had. It was right there in his head. I did not tell Daddy. I had to almost kill Ephram before Daddy was convinced. I learned everything about him, and in helping him back to his mind, I showed him everything about me.

    I frown as Ephram tells me about needing Cujo’s broken golden ear. “I wanted it to be a surprise… And I am not eager to try and take it by stealth.” I give Ephram a smile, partly in commiseration, partly visualizing Cujo’s scowl.

  • Ephram
    His stance shifts a bit, uncomfortable with the smile, with your very presence. He flicks a glance to Jax, which is no comfort, then back to you, down to your knees. "I don't know what's, ah, wrong with it, Vignette. It could be a battery problem, which would be a cinch. Could be some of the harmonics, you know? If you want me to make a new one, I can do that. But it'll be expensive. I'll need parts, mostly from Pike. Balls will have most of it. What you don't have, well, maybe you and yours can find? I can, ah, make you a list. But really, the golden ear would be the quickest, you know?"
  • edited September 2015

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    I look at Ephram for a long time. I do not reach out to his mind. I will not read his thoughts. He knows I will not, knows I do not have to, just as he knows I still wake each morning with my mother’s voice in my ears, just as I know he still fixes things for free for the elderly couple who live next door to him. This…awareness…of each other, it is a thing unspoken between us. It is maybe why we avoid each other. I am certain he knows why I want to fix Cujo’s golden ear--certain he knows in great detail. Maybe that is why he looks uncomfortable.

    “Could it be repaired in a few hours? While she sleeps? I could send it with a runner. Or…you need those parts for the neighbors' furnace from Pike anyway. You could come back with us, pick them out yourself, and stay as my guest for a couple days until Cujo is back.” I expect Cujo will visit again very soon. Especially if she has been out exercising the violent side of her nature, as Shy suggests, Cujo will feel like…um…visiting.

  • Ephram
    He shifts a bit, still uncomfortable. "I can't say for sure until I see it, Vignette. You want to send it here, I'll dedicate an entire night to it. Might take more then one night, though. I'd..." He rubs at the back of his neck, "I'd rather work here, you know? My work space, my tools. I'll work faster when I know where everything is."
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    “That will be fine. I will send a runner,” I say with a nod and a gentle smile. “Thank you for being willing to try.”

    That is really the best I can hope for until Cujo returns. Now…how am I going to keep her in bed, so she does not notice the ear has gone missing? I suppress a grin and shift my mind to the return trip. No need to make Ephram more uncomfortable than he already is. I can contemplate Cujo distraction tactics once I am not so near him.

    “Jax,” I say, pointedly ignoring Suquamish. “We may return to Pike whenever you see fit.”

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    Vignette,

    Suquamish keeps her face neutral. You get the feeling she's ready to leave Safeco as long as she's stuck watching you.

    Jax
    Jax gives a curt shake of his head, "Yes, bosslady. We should head out that way." He points out the garage, "I'll get the car around." You all head outside into the muggy afternoon, to head back to Pike.

    --END SCENE--
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