[ISS] Lockdown (All 2.0)

edited April 2016 in ISS Tsiolkovsky
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Class did not resume after Lockdown.
Navis were locked out of the feed after all children returned to dorms.
Doors to the hallway locked fifteen minutes later.

Supper hour came and the doors didn't open. It's been an hour since that period, and it looks like you may be stuck in Lockdown for an "indeterminate" period.

Ashlee,
You've been stuck in your room, your old room, with Nadja, who has spent the last half hour talking about Mark while fiddling with the lock. Your sheets are still filthy, stuff thrown around. What have you been doing?

Tabitha,
You ended up in Zola and Pax's room. Zola's been polite, but she hasn't touched you once. Pax is getting antsy, but she refuses to say why when Zola asks. You notice Pax keeps checking the time, and she's making a half-hearted fuss about being hungry and wanting out, but that isn't why she wants out. What have you been doing here?
What's the most surprisingly thing on Pax's side of the room?

Ourania,
Tabitha never came to your room. You've been stewing, thoughts about Mark and Jace and Pris bouncing around in your head. Shut down, shut out, this is the worst. While there's a note that all Navis in your pod have been disconnected from the feed, you know how to get access, right? What have you been doing?

Mark,
Rys told you to return to your room, but he was busy getting everyone out of the classroom and to their rooms and left you to you own. Where did you go?
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  • image
    I went to my room, where else?

    OK, so before I got there I slowed right down outside Nadja's door, but Ashlee was there so I scratched that idea. Not so much an idea. More like an urge. Whatever.

    And before that, I had a quick look around the med bay for... well, I don't know what. Something relating to Pris. I don't know what I expected to find. A scribbled note detailing the TOPP SEKRIT PROCEDUR FOR PRIS or something?

    Regardless, I ended up back in my room.
    Aiden and I have been playng Botticelli pretty intensively for the last hour or so. Our lack of overlap in interests makes it challenging. Aiden has never heard of my answers, and he keeps picking mathematical people. His last one was some guy called Wiles. No idea.

    Still, it passes the time.
  • edited March 2016
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    Mark? Ugh... he stops outside the door just before lockdown for a second then moves on. For a second I thought he would get locked in here with us. Wouldn't that be great?

    Nadja is a fool, fiddling with the lock like a caged test monkey. She must wish i weren't here... finally we agree on something! I almost laugh, but I don't want to spark some kind of rage so I keep it inside. She keeps going on about what happened in class and I just make the occasional sarcastic remark.

    "Wow, Nadja, that's so crazy.... wish I coulda seen that.... you're so lucky..."

    My bed is disgusting, I totally forgot to bring my sheets to the auto-clean and now I'm stuck here. The sheets stay on the floor, I'm on my bare mattress, sitting largely cross-legged. Every now and then I remember that knock-knocking sound and glance up at the pipes. Weird.

    I wish I could watch the speedball news...

    Instead I just close my eyes and put myself on the court. Visualize, imagine... it's a good distraction from the lab... I mean the room. But I'm anxious about Rys, about what I've done... I swore that I wouldn't. Way too risky, I wanted to just be one of the kids, even if I'm one of the unpopular ones. Better than being what I was.

    Sigh.

    Maybe lockdown is a good thing. Maybe he'll forget the whole thing.
  • edited March 2016
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    I’m glad Tabitha didn’t come back. She didn’t need to see this. I cried hard for about a half an hour then sat and brooded in that raw, stretched feeling you have afterward, punctuated by sniffs. I hate that feeling.

    I realize I want something of Pris’. Something to keep. Hell I will get things from the whole pod. Let’s see them screw with me then.

    When it became clear that they weren’t lifting lockdown I decided to get in and see what I could see. Like I’ve said this place really wasn’t designed to be any kind of secure area. The security measures are a little slipshod for that reason. Sure they cut off the data feed to teh Navis but they haven’t cut off the feed to the cameras. Even though my camera doesn’t work, it does have a live data line and… you guessed, a maintnence port.

    I access the cable, pull it down and hook it up, then hack my way into the data feed. It isn’t hard, really. At it’s root, the navi is a computer terminal, and data security protocols are not always that robust depending on the system. Navis will even do video. It’s not great, and they certainly don’t tell you it can, but it can.

  • image

    Zola's side of the room is what I expected - decorative, comfortable, full of effort put into not being boring. Little tchotchkes everywhere. Her wall and ceiling spaces are covered with posters and fun, trashy little pieces of art.

    Zola and Pax have one of the rooms where their personal storage is stacked one over the other, Pax's drawers over Zola's.

    Pax's side of the room has their bath module in it, which is rotten luck. She's also got an access panel on the side of her wall space, looks like it goes through to the Ready Room. I wouldn't have noticed because she has a picture half-heartedly hung over it, but she keeps looking at it. So I looked at it, and I saw what there was to see.

    I've been assessing Zola's little collection, feeling hunger gnaw at me. For the first hour or so it'll be kind of fun. I like feeling a little hungry. Then it will get uncomfortable, maybe I'll get angry and dizzy. Also kind of fun, but kind of frightening, too.

    I'm just trying to conserve my energy as I pass time with Pax and Zola. I'm slouched on Zola's bed. "Play some music maybe?" I'd prod Pax about how whoever she's waiting for is either on lockdown or well aware of her being on lockdown, but that seems hasty.
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    Ashlee,
    image Evidently she's in a weird mood, Ashlee, because she turns to look back at you, "Hey... so what did Rys do to you? I saw your cheek, I mean, it's still kinda red. Did he smack you around like he did Ollie? Mark said he's got a thing for you, but obviously he's wrong. That sucks, you know. I mean, if he were into you, Corporal Rys, I mean. If he were, we could get some primo stomm. So yeah, what happened?"
  • edited March 2016
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    Drokking Nadja, does she think I want to talk to her?

    But not like I have many choices, and this lockdown is lasting way long... though I like how suddenly it's 'we' when there's privileges involved. But sure, I'm desperate enough for something to pass the time. She'll have to do... I try to ignore Mark's name when it comes up. Last person I want to think about right now, sitting here at the scene of the crime.

    I look up with my eyes, face still kinda down, "maybe Rys likes it rough, huh?" I smirk and let the implications tease her a little. And with her reminder my cheek aches a bit, I rub it gingerly with my fingertips.
  • image

    Tabitha,
    Zola looks over at you, and you catch her eyes lingering over you for a moment, sort of dreamy. She's turned away from Pax.

    image "Yeah, that's good. I have some local files here." She brings up her Navi, cues up this song, but moves over to her bed, drops to her knees and pulls out a small box, fishes out a pair of wireless speakers and pumps the music through them. She places one on the floor, and you hear a magnetic click. Then she steps onto her bed and reaches up to put the other on the ceiling. When she reaches up, you see the bare skin under her arm because she was wearing a tank. If she wasn't reaching high like that, you'd miss it, but there are small red dots on her side, you see at least five of them.

    When she steps down, the speakers hum to life and the place fills with music, probably too loud. It's dance-able, and Pax moves to it, a simple hip sway. Zola bobs her head, and grins.

    Ourania,
    Who do you look in on first?
  • image

    Ashlee,
    image She falls for it, or maybe she just wants to believe it enough to distract herself, "No stomm!" She moves over to stand in front of you while you sit there, and she bends down a little, her right hand up on the frame of her bed, "Rys and you? C'mon, for serious? And rough? Did he... take you? Or did you turn the tables on him?" She's egging you on, surely. She doesn't believe it, she wants to hear a pretty lie.

    What do you do?
  • image
    Closer than I ever wanted to get to Nadja, when I look at her face like this all I can imagine is her snogging on Mark... It's like I can smell it on her breath... just nasty.

    I'll play along, "yeah, the corporal isn't some ordinary guy," I shift slightly as I sit here cross-legged. Lean ever so slightly forward, "You think a little girl like me could tell him what to do? Big strong guy like that?" Hard not to lose it, the guy seemed anything but dominant last time I looked at him. "If it weren't for the stupid lock down we'd probably be doing it in his room right now!"

    I lean back, shoulders against the wall in my little cramped space. Smug little look on my face.
  • edited March 2016
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    Mark,

    There were no notes on Pris, sadly. Nno sign of her, either. She simply wasn't there. Perhaps she was moved? Not like Doc Haladay would tell you.

    image "Alright, that was a good round," Aiden says after he guesses your semi-famous person Who was it? "Hey, let's try indirect mode this time, okay?" He pauses, then announces, "I'm a fictional character starting with the letter M."


  • image

    Ashlee,
    image Nadja leans down closer, her eyes on you in a way you've never seen from her before, she's really into this. "Oh... wow. That's hot, Ashlee." She slips onto the bed near you, still looking closely at your face, "Was it, you know, fun? Rys looks like he's packing. Tell me the gory details, don't hold back."


  • image

    The red dots. Are those IV sites? Injections? Just a rash? "This is good. The music." I tap a foot in time and drift off a little bit.

    I haven't been bothered by Zola not touching me - I mean, Pax is here and I don't want to be the next Jace/Olivar problem. Catching her looking at me like that, though..I'd just like to hold her. Listen to this music, maybe drift off.

    Pax's problem..whatever it is, it will shake out in Speedball. Stomm.
  • edited March 2016
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    It starts to get a little uncomfortable. After all I'm totally making this up and she's not exactly my friend... she sits on my bed and that's just... kinda uncomfortable.

    Nadya gets too close to my face and I'm forced to glance away, "he.. uh... yeah!" I crow out, obviously searching for something to say and not exactly being experienced with guys. "It was great... but..." I giggle to myself. Trying desperately to have some fun with this, "but... you know? He doesn't have a lot to brag about... if you know what I mean."

    I glance at her face again, wonder if she's buying this... and why am I even blushing? I'm totally pulling this out of nowhere? I hope nobody hears about this.

    I have to change the subject, this has gone too far.

    Abruptly I blurt out, "what... what was it like with Mark?"
  • edited March 2016
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    I click through looking for Mark, the arrogant prick. On the side I'm looking through the adult message feeds to see what the buzz is.

  • edited March 2016
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    Hm, okay. I'm still kind of surprised Aiden got Modest Mussorgsky. When did he start listening to... anything?

    My mind goes blank and for a little while I can't think of a single fictional character beginning with M.

    Time passes.

    Mickey Mouse. Don't be ridiculous.
    Maigret...?

    Wait. Yeah, this might force him into direct mode.

    "Are you an Italian detective?"
  • image

    Tabitha,

    image "It is good! Even better when you get up and move to it, Tabitha!" Pax says this brightly as she dances over to pull on your hand to get you up. She dances right beside you, smiles and looks and she doesn't let go of your hand for some reason. She's really close, not caring that Zola's here.
    Zola's watching without trying to look like she's watching. She's not super happy about it, you think.

    What do you do?

  • image

    Ashlee,
    image Nadja squeals with laughter, slapping the bed and playfully pushing your shoulder, "Stomm! Rys has a gerkin? Oh drokk me. I'm lucky then! Wow... I super had a thing for him. She shakes her head, "Not now, I'd be trading down. So, you think Pris is gonna die for real? I mean, she's just a little sick, right?" Nadja's in denial, surely. Wanting you to make her feel better for how she's talked about Pris, probably.

    What do you do?

    Mark,

    image A wide grin splits Aiden's face and he laughs a little. After a moment, he clears his throat and says, "No, I'm not Inspector Montalbano." He chuckles again, adding, "My mom loved old TV. We watched two episodes of it, it ran over three hundred years ago. Still good, though." He sits there for a long moment, basking in his big reveal. "Next question?

    Ourania,

    You watch Mark and Aiden playing some boring as hell word game, sitting there staring at each other like nothing's going wrong. Aiden laughs at something, then chats for a bit. It's like watching paint dry.

    Over ont he adult feed, what isn't encrypted is some public posting about replacing Instructor Malcolm. There is a third of the adults who are discussing this openly. They want to bring in a real ballbuster to replace him. Who is it and what do they have against your mother, Ourania?
  • image

    I scowl and flip through the video to find my roomie instead, though I'll stop on anything that looks interesting.

    They're talking about Rafael Flores who indeed has a vendetta against the Commandant. That's not that surprising though, since a lot of people probably have one, really. He blames the Commandant for his husband's death, which is foolish. He was responsible for his own death, being an unrepentant dissident, she was merely the hand of the law.
  • edited March 2016
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    "Well look at the big brain on Aiden. OK, smartypants. Are you a... uh..."

    Think, Mark. Think! Wipe the smirk off the front of that tousle-haired head.

    Uh...

    Wait. Aha. Old movies.

    "Have you ever accidentally gone on vacation? And, ah, while you're struggling with that one... what do you know about what happened to Pris? I didn't know it was so bad. And now... "
  • image

    "Uh?!" I rise up to stand with Pax's pulling, if only to keep from falling onto the floor. I move like a puppet at first, uncomfortable, but the more I imitate Pax the easier it gets. I'm good at imitation.

    It feels good, the dancing. I breathe out a smile, then catch Zola's look. I reach out to her, offering to make a funny little human chain out of the three of us.
  • image

    Mark,

    image Aiden scowls a little, shakes his head. He holds up a finger like "give me a minute". Then he switches to answer your second question first, "I don't know, Mark. She was really sick, it came on out of nowhere... maybe a month ago? Yeah, she started going to the infirmary almost every day during un-school. But like, you knew that already. I was in there during one visit, cut myself putting up some railing," He shows the little scar on his left palm. "I overheard Haladay mention it was pre-plague symptoms, but he's always messing with students, so I just ignored it. I... I should've said something, man."
    He swallows, looks away, then finally says, "No, and I don't know who you're thinking of." Which leads to direct questioning.
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    That squeal annoys the stomm outta me, when she's talking with her friends and I'm cloistered in my little space unable to come out or be included... just grates on me. I don't laugh with her, just sorta sit and take it with a slightly pained smile.

    How the hell did I end up chatting with you like this again?

    But she sure brings it down fast, "uh... you know Pris looked pretty sick..." I can picture her so clearly asking me to hang out with her. Why did I say no? "but... she probably wouldn't want us to worry, right? She probably... uh... probably they're still working on the cure... they just don't tell us about it. They don't tell us anything important..."

    I just stare down at my toes now, unpainted and clipped short. Plain just like the rest of me. I quietly wish Nadja would just leave me alone.

    A long sigh, "She'll probably be fine..."
  • edited April 2016
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    "The 'and I' guy in Withnail & I was called Marwood. That was totally in the study notes. Okay. Let me think."

    I'd have been in recovery a lot of that time. I wonder if she came to see me. I mean to look at me. What I remember from then is nothing but blackness, nothing but strange dreams. Figures from the past.

    "It doesn't make sense. When I woke up, I wanted... I thought I'd pick up where I left off. But then, this. And, like, what symptoms? No one else ever got that, in here. That's the whole reason for the quarantine, isn't it?"

    And just when I'd decided it was over, I got cold feet, I wanted to take it all back. But that door had closed.

    "Are you a character from a book?"
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    Tabitha,

    Zola flicks a glance over at Pax, then back to you. She waves your hand away and lays down on her bed, right in the spot you just vacated, which is probably still warm. Zola lays on her back and stares at the ceiling, though you're probably in her peripheral vision.

    Pax ignores Zola's change in demeanor and tries to keep your attention, Tabitha. She starts trying to teach you a few moves, putting her hands on your hips and standing behind you, laughing and swaying to the music. She's very lithe, and has perfect rhythm. She might make a good speedballer, after all.

    If you want to keep things relaxed here, just fun, nothing for Zola to worry about, you need to give Pax a string. Otherwise, you need to Hold Steady here.
  • image

    Ourania,

    You find Tabitha dancing with Pax in Pax and Zola's room. Pax and Tabitha are smiling, laughing and having fun. Zola's watching them at times, staring at the ceiling others.

    In Ashlee's room, Nadja's sitting on Ash's bed, which has been stripped bare, and they're chatting, real close. Like, intimately close, except Ashlee looks super uncomfortable.

    Oh, and Bea's cutting again. Her left thigh this time.
  • image

    If Zola's going to pout when I gave her a chance to be involved, that's her own stomm to deal with. This is fun, plus I mean...I've never danced before. I think.

    Holding Steady: (Rolled: 2d6-1. Rolls: 1, 4. Total: 4)

    Marking 5th XP
  • image

    Mark,

    image "Weakness, productive cough. First mucus, then blood. Dizzy spells, vomiting, high fevers. I found her passed out in the Ready Room at the end of un-school and helped her get up, walked her to the infirmary." Aiden rattles this off, there's a pain in his voice. He looks down at his hands, "My grandma got it. Had the same.... symptoms. That's how I know, Mark.
    He swallows a couple times, then "Yes, I'm a character in a book. Several."
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    Tabitha,

    Have you ever danced before? Pax's smiling face slips and shifts to another face, smiling and pleasant but altogether different. Dark eyes, dark skin, the glint of metal on her shoulders. You've pulled her onto her feet, forcing her to dance though she wears the weight of the ship on her shoulders. If only. If only she wasn't the Commandant, perhaps she'd have time for you. For now, you have a dance.

    The song is still playing when the cadet rushes in to report three more deaths from this strange contagion.

    When you see Pax again, you're looking up at her. And the ceiling. Zola's looming over you, too, they're both wearing eyes of concern. There's a coppery taste in your mouth, Tabitha. A finger touch to your lips and you see blood. They're both asking if you're okay, voices seeming far away. You're lying on the spare floor between their beds.

    What do you do?
  • image

    Ashlee,
    image Nadja's face relaxes a little, you gave her permission not to care anymore. That flicker of conscience dims and she wears her smirk again. "I wouldn't say they don't tell us anything. I know Ourania has special connections." She peers at you like you're prey, "And Rys knows all the stomm, Ashlee. You've got some real power now. You could know things, get special favors. Hey, you could get us the drokk out of her right now!" She hops up from the bed, "You want some clean sheets? Your stuff's a mess, and that was Mark's fault... he just had to have me on your bed. I've got some extra." She heads for her wall panel, opening it to get some clean bedsheets.

    What do you do?
  • edited April 2016
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    "Come on, I know what the symptoms are. I mean Pris is too young to show them. We all are. Are your stories set on Earth?"

    First we're carriers, then we can be tested for the plague, then we can die from it. That's how it was until now.
    So maybe the plague is changing.

    I remember a line from that book on the un-school reading list a couple of cycles back.

    "Mais qu'est-ce que ça veut dire, la peste? C'est la vie, voilà tout. "

    I think putting it on the list was one of Malcolm's little rebellions.
    Aiden looks at me weirdly. I think I said that out loud.
  • image

    I stare at the blood. Swallow away some of the copper taste. When did it get so bright in here? Where is the Commandant?

    "What did I do? Where's.." Don't be an idiot, Tabitha. I try to get my feet back under me, shaking the ghosts out of my head. When I'm standing, I can't help but look for another cadet, another disapproving glare from..from.. who?

    "I'm sorry." Close my eyes. Breathe. "I'm fine."

    I want to be alone right now. But I can't be. I have to push forward the effort it takes to hide how I feel.
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    Mark,

    image Aiden shifts, uncomfortable with your retort, "I know we're supposed to be immune, only carriers. Her symptoms could be something different altogether, Mark. I don't know. Maybe she's got something new. Maybe it's changing.... maybe we're doomed." His jaw clenches and he stews on that for a few moments.
    "Yes, Earth. England."
    When you do say that out loud, he blinks, "You speak French? What... what did you say?"
  • edited April 2016
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    Tabitha,

    image Pax drops down to a knee when you sit up, puts her hand on your back, rubs it lightly. Sort of a comforting thing more than anything. "Are you weak from hunger or... or something? I think I have a protein bar in my stuff." She doesn't move to get it or anything, just offers, seems curious, testing, wondering.


    image "You're so full of stomm, Pax!" Zola accuses as she stands up, crossing her arms under her breasts, pacing a little. "You've got a whole stash. I've seen all the stuff you've got. A protein bar... my ass. Why do you have to play games?" She paces back and forth, anger flashing across her pretty face. She looks at the door, "I'm going stir crazy in here! Drokk you! We didn't do anything wrong!"
  • edited April 2016
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    I flip through the vid feeds twice... three times. I hesitate on Bea. Jeez. I'll have to make sure she doesn't room alone anymore. Nadja getting chummy with Ashlee? I frown at the sense of annoyance that crops up. I flip to Zola, Pax and Tab again... and see Tab go down. I stand up immediately.

    I head to the door and hook up to hack the lock. Doors on a spaceship can't stay closed on an evac order.
  • image
    Gross, and does she really want me to believe that? It was all Mark's idea?
    When she's on my bed it's uncomfortable... and Nadja's sudden change of heart about me now that she thinks I can get her perks? hHow drokking fake it feels. But... but why should I have to hide out in my little cave all the time and be the butt of her little (not so little) jokes? Can't I just roll with this a little?

    I stare across the room at her, "seriously, you had clean sheets all this time? And you tell me now?" I'm actually kind of pissed, but I try to play it off as a joke... like. Ha, ha... you got me.

    But I stand up and open my hands for her to toss them to me, "whatever, Nadja... do you really think Rys can do all that? How did he get picked to be Corporal in the first place?"
  • edited April 2016
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    OK, so it's not Philip Marlowe. I gotta stop thinking about detectives.

    "It's nothing. Just a thing from a book. You think they'll take her, you know, upstairs? For treatment. Are you female?"

    I guess speedball is off, for today. Pity, I wanted to get started with Pax as soon as possible. I hope Jace can get back soon. But he'll be on the bench at best, to begin with.
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    Mark,

    image Aiden shifts a bit, uncomfortable with the topic of where Pris is headed, probably. "If she does have the plague... I doubt they'd take her in, you know? Sort of defeats the purpose of keeping us all... here." He huffs a breath, still not making eye contact, "She isn't here, though... so they did move her somewhere."
    Clears his throat, "No, I'm a guy. A mean one. Clever, too. A bad, bad man."
  • image
    A guy. So it's not Miss Marple (stop thinking about detectives). A mean man. So it's not Adrian Mole. In several books, but set in England. So it's not Moriarty.

    Morrissey? No, he was real. I think.

    "Right, I mean they have containment facilities and stuff. And if she's not here, she has to be somewhere. Which, yeah, is kind of an obvious thing to say. But you know. Decks we don't know about. Sealed off. It's a big ship. Are you a wizard?"
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    Mark,

    image Aiden finally meets your eyes, "Mark... I don't think they really put her in a coma. I think they did what they do when we fail our finals. When we test positive for the plague. They knocked her out... then they spaced her." His voice is unsteady, this isn't a casual admission for him, what he thinks is the truth.
    "I'm... I'm not a wizard. I'm the Napoleon of crime."
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    "That guy whose most famous story happens in Switzerland?" I roll off my bed and, on an impulse, kick my chair across the room. "Drokkin Switzerland!"

    As the chair clatters to a standstill in the corner, I take several breaths, fast and shallow. I feel like breaking something.

    "Why... would they spa--" I can't say it. There's a hitch in my voice when I continue."That's not even what they do with us, that's just... just gossip! I mean, what do you know? What have you heard?"

    I cross to where Aiden is sitting and get down next to him on one knee, like really kind of in his face, and I put a hand on his shoulder.

    "If you heard anything, you should tell me."
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    Mark,

    image The chair kick causes Aiden to flinch, and he lowers his head for a moment, still sitting there. You move up to him, get in his face, and he stiffens nervously, like prey. Your hand on his shoulder, you feel the tension, like he wants to bolt or something.

    That power, Mark, feeling his fear, the bubbling unsettling sensation of the unknown, the unspoken parts of your relationship, the pair of you. It gives you a little chill of pleasure, right now. Why don't you Hold Steady to avoid escalating this?
  • Hold Steady
    Worst thing: whether or not I lash out, I make Aiden afraid of me.

    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 2. Total: 6)

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    I shake my head. I could eat, but food is not my problem. I try to relax, feel present. Pax's hand on my back does bring me more into this space, so does feeling my weight on my legs, floor pushing up at me.

    "A whole stash? Smart." I want to stand but I'm going to wait. "Let's not yet."
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    Ourania,

    When you try to circumvent the ship's systems, roll with Dark. On a hit, you get past them. On a 7-9, choose one:
    - You attract unwanted attention
    - Take a Condition for your hard work
    - You take 1-Harm in the effort
    - You're so thrilled or guilty by the success, you have to tell the first kid you see about it
  • image

    Ashlee,
    image Nadja chuckles as she tosses the sheets to you. They're silky, more comfortable than your original ones. "Yeah, all the time. You never asked, Ash." She moves over to her desk and sits on it, watching to see if you put the sheets on or not. "They ran tests on all of us, evals. Remember when they first set this stomm up? Said it was to find our aptitudes for un-school work and training. Well, Rys, like the other Corporals, he came up with the strongest sense of loyalty and a moral flexibility. He's their little lapdog. But... if he wants to drokk you, well, you've got something. We have something good, yeah?"
  • edited April 2016
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    What she... why the hell does she have better sheets than i do? How have I never noticed? Isn't everything the same around here?

    I just scoff at that quip about never asking, like if I had asked she would have coughed them up. And holding these in my hands I realize that I'm kind of stuck now... if I accept this... feeding from the hand that bites me?

    "Uh... yeah. Thanks..." that doesn't feel good to say. But you know, I've been alone like forever.

    I lay the sheets down and get all my stuff out of the way to put them on, as I do I ask without looking, "so... um... are you and M... Mark? A couple now?"
  • image

    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 6, 3. Total: 10)
  • image

    It takes me a moment, feeling out the ships systems, but it works as I thought it would. I head for Zola and Pax's room... getting in one is never as hard as getting out.
  • image

    Ourania,

    Sure, you can get into that room. Work the lock and open it right up.

    Tabitha,

    The door to Zola and Pax's room opens up. Ourania's standing there.

    image "Whoah, Ourania..."" Pax says with surprise, looking past you, like Rys must be with you. "How did you.... hey, is curfew over?" She seems like she's about to go, like right past you, Ourania, if Rys isn't there, if the coast is clear.


    What do you do?
  • image

    My shoulders rise up before I finally get to my feet. Ourania's here? Her face right now is..haunting. She's not the Commandant. I don't know the Commandant. I know Ourania.

    Ourania did something earlier, and I don't know what it was. I'm not as spooked as before, but I'm not comfortable yet.

    I wipe at my mouth again. Still bloody. "We would get Navi messages."

    I try to look directly at Ourania, see her as herself. "Ourania? What happened?"
  • image

    I glance at Pax, then past her to Zola. I step up to Tabitha looking her over, seeing the blood on her mouth.

    “You fell.” I say, frowning. Why won’t she look at me? “Just wanted to… y’know, check.”. I look at Pax, though I don’t make any move to block or anything. “And the stupid lockdown is still on. But if you’re feeling all anti-authoritarian, be my guest.”

  • image

    Ashlee,
    image "Drokk yeah we are!" Nadja brags. "He's going to need someone now. You know, because of..." She doesn't finish it, her tone a mock bit of sympathy. She pulls her Navi up, swipes it awake, "Stomm. We're still down. I'm famished. You hungry, Ash? Maybe you could message Corporal Rys for an emergency and he could grab us some food or something?"
  • image

    Mark,

    image "I... I..." Aiden stammers, then suddenly gets up to move to his side of the room or something. Something in you snaps and takes it as a threat, he's prey and he didn't keep cowering. Before you register the movement, you've crossed the spare distance between you and pushed him to the ground. Aiden throws an arm up, "Stomm!" There's fear in his voice, he looks to the door, which he knows is locked. He's stuck in here with you and you're much bigger than him.
    "I'm sorry, Mark! Please, there's nothing you can do, man! I didn't.... I didn't do anything?" He starts trying to pitifully scoot back, towards his bed, hand up. He might be going for his Navi, to call security.

    What do you do?
  • edited April 2016
    image

    Ourania and Tabitha,

    image "Thanks, Ourania. Don't hafta tell me twice. Drokk this." Zola walks over to offer you a hand up, Tabitha, "C'mon, Tabs. Let's go mess around. We can miss Rys and maybe head to the gym or something? It'll be fun, yeah?" She wiggles her fingers in an invitation.



    image "Yeah, I got a place to be. I'm going." Pax says as she stands up. She walks over to her desk and grabs a small metal box from a middle drawer, then heads for the door, tucking it under her arm. She doesn't even hesitate before heading for the corridor, looking both ways and leaving you.

    What do you do?
  • image

    I stay focused on Ourania for a moment. She came to check on me..I'm still too rattled to think about that critically.

    "I fell? And that's all I did?" I nod, "Thank you. Ourania." Now I can look at her. This is the Ourania I know.

    With Zola's help, I'll stand up fully. "I don't feel like I'll fall down again. Let's practice. Maybe I can be..second worst striker." I try to give a gameful smile.

    "What about you?" I ask Ourania.
  • image
    I watch him slither away. Feeble.

    In a moment the lizard-brain recedes beneath my surface thoughts. I see Aiden again, the person, not the animal.

    "Aiden, I'm... I'm sorry. I just--" I grit my teeth and I go over to the shower unit and I slam the heel of my palm hard against its door, three times. The door rattles loud like it might fall off.

    I rest my forehead against the cool metal of the bulkhead.

    "I know you wouldn't do anything to... hurt... anyone. I know you didn't. I just, I don't-- Deep breath. I turn round, crossing back to my bunk."I used to know what was going to happen. Now it's all getting away from me and there's nothing I can do."

    There's a long silence where Aiden and I just look at each other. It feels long anyway.

    "I never used to be afraid of anything, you know?"

    I sit down on my bed. Resting my elbows on my knees, I look down at my hands.

    "Now I'm afraid of the future."
  • image
    She tries to unlock her navi and I crane my neck to see if we've got the feed back. I missed half of what I wanted to do with all the excitement. And we've missed lunch, haven't we?

    "Yeah, I am hungry, but..." I inhale through my teeth and shake my head a little, "what, use an emergency link? Cause we want a snack?" That doesn't sound like a good idea. And does she even know who else will see that message "I don't know... that sounds like a bad idea."

    She's probably disappointed, which I would normally savor, now it feels kind of threatening.

    I pull my legs up to my chest and stare at my toes, "this is a long one, isnt it?" Meaning the lockout. They're usually short.
  • edited April 2016
    image

    I note the box Pax grabs and wonder at it. Junkie maybe? Zola makes her proposition and I narrow my eyes, annoyed. What's the deal between Zola and Tabitha? I don't trust Zola any further than I can throw her.

    In response to Tabitha I shrug, my usual cool mask slipping into place. Back away a little. Why did I do this? It makes me look...

    "Don't know." In for a penny... "Maybe let the rest of the animals out of their cages I guess."
  • image

    Mark,

    image There's a few moments of silence after your admission. Aiden sits up again, stands, moves over to his bed. More silence.
    "You, uh..." Aiden starts after he's collected himself. "You should be afraid. There's a reason why they won't train any of us to be medics, Mark. They don't want us to know how many of us are carriers. How many they have to, ah... euthanize. They're dangling the carrot of freedom in front of us and keeping us here for as long as they can while they look for a cure. And there might not be one."
  • image

    Ourania and Tabitha,

    image Zola looks over at you, Ourania, suddenly curious. "Hey.. not that I'm not happy to be one of the un-caged animals, but how did you know Tabitha fell? Were you watching us this whole time? You were, weren't you?" She looks to you, Tabitha, then back to you, Ourania.



  • image

    I arch a challenging eyebrow at Zola and cross my arms. "Check out the big brain on you." I say.
  • edited April 2016
    image
    I need a moment to take this in.

    It sounds like one of the less lurid rumours that have done the rounds. In fact, it is one of those rumours. But Aiden isn't the kind of kid who mixes himself up in that stuff.

    He is the kind of kid who comes up with theories based on his "brilliant" deductions. But, again, this sounds like something that he actually knows.

    "How do you know this? And how long have you known?"
  • image

    I catch Zola's look, then turn back to Ourania. "Oh. Well..I feel watched over. Come on, Zola. Let's go howl."
  • image

    Ourania and Tabitha,

    Zola snorts derisively, then heads out with you, Tabitha. That leaves you alone here, Ourania.

    What do you do?
  • edited April 2016
    image

    I watch them go a moment, something cold coiling inside me. I turn back to the room, look at Zola's 'side.' Time to find something... useful.

    I move around the room, gently touching things, waiting for that sense of something connected.
  • image

    Mark,

    image Aiden exhales through his nose, reaching up to brushing his hair back with his left hand. "Since the quarantine started, fourteen kids have reached the age of eighteen, been tested, and... and went through. They don't tell us what happens to them." He looks at you, reluctantly, "I've been monitoring the chat feeds. Found a backdoor to the unsecured channels on their side. Do you know how many I've seen post, even once?" He swallows. "Two. Arissa Lancome. Tigg Barr."

  • image
    I think of a few objections. That doesn't mean they're being spaced. Maybe you just didn't see the right feeds. Stuff like that. All pretty weak.

    "You probably shouldn't tell me that on camera. Although. Maybe it doesn't matter."

    Quarantine is like that prison we read about in class. The panopticon. The idea is that because we might be watched at any time, we'll behave like we're being watched all the time. That we'll be our own watchmen. But it doesn't work like that.

    It took us all maybe a year or so to figure out that most of the time, there's no one watching. If you're going to break the rules, so long as Rys and Ourania don't know about it, your chances are good.

    Most of us follow the path of least resistance. Me included. But I guess that's just who I am. Me, Bea, Aiden, we toe the line. Pax and Lucas, Zola, they do whatever, and they take their bruises the ten percent of the time they get caught. Not so much the path of least of resistance as the path of what I was going to do anyway, for each of us.

    I look up at Aiden. "So. Now I know this, what do I do?"
  • image

    Mark,

    image Aiden shrugs helplessly, "I don't know, Mark. Freak the hell out quietly? I've been checking the feed more and more, just hoping that maybe there are more out there, you know? Not everyone posts on the feed, I think." He stands up, moves over to his bed to lay down, look at the ceiling. "Moriarty was mentioned in like five stories, always in England."
  • image

    Ashlee,
    image Nadja makes a "tsk tsk" sound, "It's not just about being hungry, Ash. You have the perfect, totally legit, excuse to test the bounds of his love for you. Or horndoggedness, whatever. Same diff. Seriously, ping him on your Navi, see if he comes running. If he does, ask for some food. Claim you're having some, I dunno, stomach issues or whatever if you have to." She moves over near you, looking you over, "You aren't a coward... are you? After earlier, I thought you'd grown a spine. Finally."

    What do you do?
  • image
    This is turning into a nightmare. My face in my hands I shake my head. First, I drokk up and alter Rys, then I brag about it to Nadja, and now she's pushing me into this? I'd rather forget the whole thing happened at this point and just hope Rys is back to normal... and I get off easy in all the confusion.

    But... as much as I resent Nadja... no, hate her... it feels good to have someone even talk to me. Pretend to have a normal room mate, even a friend. Pretend... yeah I know it is.

    I power up my Navi and swipe the emergency link to activate it. Punch in Rys's name and enter:
    Rys, we missed lunch. Nadja and I could use something to eat.
    I look up at Nadja with a little nod. But my heart is going way too fast and I know...

    This is such a bad idea.
  • image
    I lie down too, with my hands behind my head.

    "I will grant you 'mentions' rather than actual appearances, on account of being such an incredibly generous guy. But I think we both know where the Reichenbach Falls are. Were."

    I think about the deliberate silence we've been left in.

    I haven't heard from my parents in like a week. Two weeks between calls isn't unusual. I put it down to being busy before. Or indifference. But maybe it's a policy. Like if we talk too often, they'll let something slip.

    "Hey Aiden, would you show me how to read that stuff too? I wanna see."
  • image

    Ashlee,

    After a moment, you get a message back on your Navi
    Ashlee Rai
    I'm on my way.
    - Corporal Rys


    image Nadja sees the message come in, the flicker of light indicating its arrival. She moves over quickly to try and read over your shoulder, "I drokking told you! See? Do you see, Ash! This is your ticket, you've got to punch it and punch it hard." She looks you over, "Stomm, girl, you're a mess." She tousles your hair a bit, licking her fingers to get it to stay out of your eyes, moving some off the bruise on your face, "Leave the reminder for him. So he sees it."

    A moment later, there's a tone at the door. What do you do?
  • image

    Mark,

    I think you're trying to Manipulate Aiden to give you access, right? Let's see you roll for it now. Nothing free, of course.
  • Manipulate an NPC:
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 2, 2. Total: 5)

    (+1 xp for rolling with Hot)
  • image
    My instinct is to shrink away from her, just avoid her touching me like that. But I hold my breath as she arranges my hair. I watch her fingers touch her tongue and... just eew. Nadja's nasty spit in my hair? I think about what's been in that mouth... ugh... well, I try to just smile.

    The tone at the door is actually kind of a relief, draws her attention from me. The door is never for me, so I glance at her, then realize I should probably be the one to answer.

    I spring awkwardly to my feet and go to get the door. Glance back at Nadja and punch the door unlock to slide it open. I try to put on a smile, and remember to sort of favor the side with what must be a growing bruise.
  • edited April 2016
    image

    Ashlee,

    image The door slides open and you see Corporal Rys. He looks at you, ignoring Nadja even though she comes over to stand near you. His eyes scan your face, see the bruise, then move to your mouth. "Ashlee, ah, Rai. You requested some food. I can escort one of you to the cafeteria." He closes his mouth, looks up at Nadja, his eyes a warning. "Are you ready to go now, or should I wait? You can... bring food back for Nadja." The last bit sounds like an offering.

    Nadja doesn't respond to him, she wasn't meant to respond. Rys looks in your eyes for a moment, a glimmer of hope, or something, in there. What do you do?
  • image

    Tabitha, please go here.

  • image
    Not sure where to look as he comes in and looks at me like that. Nearly makes me giggle when he stumbles over whether to call my by my full name. I feel Nadja come up next to me and he ignores her. Which feels kind of nice, actually.

    He asks if I'm ready to go and in my nervous excitement I just chirp out, "yeah! Totally ready." And spare a glance for Nadja as I take a step. My hands clench tight as I try to contain all of the conflicted feelings rushing through me.

    "I'll... uh... bring you something back... ok?" I expect her to be angry at me.

    Totally forget I'm not even wearing socks.
  • image

    Ourania,

    You let your feelings search the place, looking for something that Zola is attached to. There's something she's hidden in a book, an actual, physical book she keeps in her footlocker.

    When you open it up, you see speedball equipment, an old trophy from before the plague, probably, and a leather-bound journal. The pages are hand written, a diary perhaps, but the script is heavy, the strokes curt. You'd guess it was a man's writing. There, stuck between the forty first and forty second pages is a small white page. Scribbled in charcoal, perhaps something stolen from the supply closet, is a rather good picture of Tabitha. She's smiling, has a light in her eyes that you rarely see.

    What do you do?
  • image

    Ashlee,

    Nadja nods, like she's some mafia capo, giving you clear directions. She walks back over to sit on her desk and watch you leave, and she doesn't look upset at all. She looks thrilled to be right about this.

    The floor outside your room is not effectively temp controlled, or if it is, it's several degrees cooler. The deck is cold, but you're sort of half-in, half-out and push on, right?

    image As you walk towards the cafeteria, Corporal Rys slows his normal pace to walk beside you. "Hey, you alright? Your... you face bruised up. I'm..." He spares a glance up to a corner of the ceiling, waits a couple steps, then, "I'm sorry about that. I won't hit you again, Ashlee."
    He takes a breath, a calming breath like "glad to have that off my shoulders", then asks, "What are you hungry for? The autochef menu today is meat substitute and that gray stomm they call oatmeal, but there's some food bars in the supply freezer, too."
  • image

    The drawing is beautiful, one of those where you can really sense the person it's of. Did Zola do it? I'm jealous. I don't have any skill in drawing. I can't tell if it's new or old. Does Zola really like Tabitha this much?

    I pluck it from between the pages carefully, then glance more closely at the journal pages it was between. What is the book, exactly? Are the pages just random, or are there more clues?



  • image
    Yeah. It's cold as I pad along next to Rys. I keep glancing back expecting Nadja to be shooting evil eyes my way but she seems weirdly satisfied. I end up just watching the floor ahead of as we go, not wanting to add fuel to whatever fire I've lit inside Rys.

    He apologizes, which is kind of a joke, but it still feels good. I almost say "It's ok" but catch myself and swallow the words instead. He doesn't deserve them.

    "Uh... bars sound good. Yeah..." easiest to take back and I won't have to wait around with Rys to heat anything complicated.

    "I was thinking..." I keep thinking back to how Nadja's actually speaking to me for once. Like an actual person... maybe this can last a while. "Maybe my room's ok. You know... where I am."

    I look up at him and smile a little hopeful smile. A little nod.
  • image

    Mark,

    image Aiden makes a little face, like this is the last thing he wants to do. "Well... it's pretty tricky because the algorithms are constantly shifting. I..." He sighs. "I can... I can let you work off mine. Just, you know, tell me what you're after and we'l figure it out."
    Please give Aiden a string.

    What do you do?

    Ashlee,

    image You enter the modest cafeteria with Corporal Rys and he heads to one of the food drawers, swiping it and keying it for some food bars. He gets three, then hands them to you. "Want anything... else? I can get... things not on the menu." His tone is gentle, eager to tempt you to stay here, with him. "Intoxicants. Hallucinogens. I mean, if that's something you're into."

    What do you do?
  • image
    I tilt my head over to look at Aiden. Not impressed.
    Like a lot of people who are only smart one way, he thinks his is the only way to be smart.

    "I wouldn't know until I saw it. Don't worry about it."

    He doesn't want to help, fine. I'll do it myself.

    I look back up at the ceiling. And my eye is drawn to a discoloured patch on the wall next to me, perhaps a metre or so above my bed. There used to be a printed photo there. Ever since we got into quarantine, pretty much. If I close my eyes, I can imagine that it's still up there. So I do.
  • edited April 2016
    image
    "What?" That's seriously the last thing I expected Corporal Rys to say. Offering me contraband? Drugs? Why does he think I want drugs?

    I suddenly wonder if he knows about the other night before curfew. Was he monitoring us? Why would Lucas and I even be worth the trouble... unless... That sends a chill through me. Who would even care about monitoring me? The experiment is over. Long over. Everyone who knew me as subject A011 is dead or long ago reassigned. Aren't they?

    It just can't be.

    I falter for words for a second. But I'm in his brain... why am I afraid?

    "Uh... yeah. Sure... It's not really my thing but..." I'm not a great actor but I try, "what do you suggest, Corporal Rys?"

    Wonder what he thinks I can handle.
  • image

    Mark,

    Aiden doesn't push the issue. Perhaps he's confident that you can't get there without him. He might be worried that you'll get him in trouble, but he doesn't say anything about it.

    It grows quiet again. Your game over. Lockdown continues.
  • image

    Ourania,

    The journal is consistently written in the same penmanship. Contains a daily log of activities, brief thoughts on the work involved. The author is a biochemist, working on various daily upkeep for the ship's processes and work with chemical experiments to maximize yields in the food growth and to aide in inoculations and treatments.

    While he doesn't sign his name at each entry, you quickly deduce this is the journal of Demmis, Zola's father. There are entries about Zola, back five years, at the beginning of this journal when she turned eleven on the first entry. Near the last month, the writing changes, listing symptoms, becoming more personal, less about the work. He describes plague symptoms evident in himself, his eldest daughter Tiga, and his wife, Tarsin. Zola had no evidence of symptoms.

    After twenty-five entries of plague symptoms, attempts at finding a cure, and then desperation during the rioting, it stops.
  • image

    Ashlee,

    image Corporal Rys backs off immediately, "Oh, stomm, I don't know. I have regular testing. Dr. Haladay would love to bust me, you know? Plus speedball. Can't do any of that. I wouldn't know. I just figured, it's not like we have access to good food or... or even nice clothes. You've already got good music, I... I guess. So, what's left?" He licks his lips, then moves a little closer, "Is there... anything you want?"
    And yes, he'd gladly be physical, you can tell.
  • image

    I wonder at the penmanship. It isn't really a skill we have, usually, with most people using some form of computer entry, commonly voice ditation. Reading the journal reminds me of my own parents. I think about Dad and how much fun he was when I was little. I remember looking at his body in the isolation tube... how thin and pale and sort of plastic he looked. The Commandant said nothing, just stared for a moment, standing with her back straight and her shoulders squared before turning and leaving the medbay. I remember stepping forward and putting my fingers on the glass, as if I could touch his face. As if he would suddenly open his eyes and give that big smile he always had for me.

    I probably would have stayed there all night, but the Commandant called my name.

    I sigh, closing the journal and set it carefully back in its place inside the footlocker.

    I carefully but tightly roll the drawing into a narrow tube and tuck it in the inner pocket of my jacket. Then I leave the room. I'm staring down the hall shifting my gaze both directions for a moment before I decide that I'm really going to do exactly what I said.

    I cross the hall and open Bea's door first.

  • image
    Last thing I want to happen, "oh... no no... Rys you don't have to do so much for me. Really. This is plenty."

    I hold the food bars in both hands, making a bit more of an armful of them than necessary and looking like I need to go or risk dropping something. I suddenly just want to get back to my room. Never thought I'd really find hanging around with Nadja more inviting than anything... but yeah.

    "But..." I fidget a bit, glance at down and up at him again..."if you wanted to get something really good. Like stuff we just don't get down here. You know... like... uh... Drencrom or maybe some Blisstabs."

    I cringe a bit. Trying to act like I don't use, then rattling off the names of two drugs I could only hope to score down here. Well... nothing ventured... and yeah, they tested both of them on me, or is it me on them?
  • image

    Mark,

    After a few minutes of staring at the ceiling thinking about your impending doom, the door to your room opens up suddenly. When you look up, you see Nadja standing in the hall, looking in.

    image She stands with an arm propped against the frame of the door, a cocky little smile on her face. "Hey Mark, long time, no see. I was just..." She motions two fingers walking in the air, "Walking about, thought I'd drop by. See how you're doing. Wanna go somewhere?" Then, as an afterthought, she adds, "Oh, hey Aiden. Tell anyone and I'll gut you."

    What do you do?
  • image

    Ourania,

    imageYou key open the door and see Bea sitting on her bed. She quickly flips the covers over her lap and scrambles back to her pillow, still sitting up, peering out at you. She slips her left hand (the one that she uses to cut herself) under her covers. She blinks a couple times, then registers it's just you. "Whoah, Ourania. That was... are you alright? You look... uhm, are you okay?"

    What do you do?
  • image
    That smile is infectious. And here was I trying to be all glum and brooding.

    "How did you--? Never mind, tell me later." I sit up. "Don't worry, he's cool." I mean Aiden. I don't mean cool cool, obviously.

    I stand up and cross over the door and return Nadja's smile. I look over her shoulder into the empty corridor - there's not many places to go. I feel kind of empty.

    "Yeah, we should... talk. In private."
    Better grab my sweatshirt. The blue one.

    I go to my wardrobe and spend what feels like an age not finding it, aware of Nadja and Aiden both watching me.

    "I think I left it in the locker room."

    Well, that's as private a place as any. I guess.
    I cross back over to the door. I'm ready to go. Still got that hollow feeling.
  • image

    Mark,

    Aiden sits up and watches the interplay, curious about this development, but he's not about to do anything to risk your anger again.

    image Nadja watches you head to your wardrobe and keeps the little smirk as she crosses her arms and leans her shoulder against the door frame. When you fail to find whatever it is that you were looking for, she agrees, "Well... we should go look in the locker room then. Lead the way."
    As soon as you come to the door, she steps back into the hall and waits for you. The door closes and she wraps her arms around your neck, looking up at you with that same little smile. "Missed you." She presses her lips to yours.
    What do you do?
  • edited April 2016
    image
    I return the kiss, for a moment. Then I pull away and quietly say "Cameras."

    I stuff my hands in my pockets and turn so that we can walk to the speedball court, side by side. Better to play it safe for now.

    In the metal cool of the hallway I can almost feel the warmth of her body from here. That's just my imagination.
    I switch off the part of me that thinks stuff like that. Keep walking.

    "So did you and Ashlee bust out of your room or what?"
  • image

    Mark,

    Please go here.
  • image

    Ashlee,

    image Corporal Rys's brows knit for a moment. He seems unsure, looks past you instead of at you, "Drencom and Blisstabs are in the infirmary. I'll, ah, see what I can do. Are they, you know, fun to take? I don't know. Never had them before." He reaches a hand up to rub the back of his neck. "I should probably get you back. You can go ahead and move in with Bea now."

    What do you do?
  • image
    Fun?

    "I... uh... wouldn't call it fun. No... but it helps you deal, you know? With stuff..." But it's not bad... of course I was forced to take all this stomm, but it wasn't all awful.

    But it's not for me idiot... I have to smile on the inside. Is he really this clueless?

    I nod when he suggests we get back but... Bea? I forgot all about that.

    "Maybe... ok maybe I just want to stay put. Give Nadja another chance," I smile a little pained smile and find it hard to imagine these words coming out of my mouth.

    I take a couple steps and pause to ask, "ok?"

    Am I really this clueless?
  • image

    Ashlee,

    image Rys's mouth tightens. He peers down at you, then starts walking out of the cafeteria, assuming you'll follow. "Are you serious? Does she deserve another chance? She calls you Nerd Girl all the time, and I sit near her. You wouldn't believe all the stories, the lies, she tells me about you. It's really awful. You need to get away from her."


  • image
    Just great. The guy who likes me because I drokked with his mind is giving me advice about the girl who I know hates me, and is only nice cause of him. Fantastic. It's all fake, and I know it can't last.

    But it still doesn't feel good for him to say that nickname out loud.

    "Look at... at how we live? How can any of us get away from anything?" I sigh and slump slightly. "I'd rather just stay where I am, ok?"

    At least there's no surprises. And I can play pretend as long as it lasts.
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