[ISS] Just Visiting (Ash 2.7, Mar, 2.6, Our 2.4)

edited May 2016 in ISS Tsiolkovsky
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Ourania,

Moving with all the fury you've earned, you exit the gym and cross the ship to the med bay. Once you enter, the low volume hum of the ship falls away. The audio dampeners in place in the med bay make things more serene here. The main monitor sparks to life and you see a new doctor, a very young woman who looks familiar, appears on the screen. She intones the ritual Med Bay greeting, "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

You see that one of the "tubes" is occupied, the same one you slipped Pris into a few days ago. Otherwise, the Med Bay is empty.

What do you do?
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  • image

    I'm a little better now. My insides are still feeling strange. And I feel... not quite so righteous about what I said to Bea. I take in the bay, the tube, the new doctor.

    "Hi. Um... No Emergency, thanks. I was messaged about Priscilla was asking for me?"
  • edited May 2016
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    Ourania,

    image She nods, listening, then answers, "Ah, yes, Ourania Fabre." Her tone's crisp, alert. "I'm Doctor Lancome, but you can call me Doc Arissa." She scans a monitor off screen for a moment, "Yes, Priscilla Pendleton did ask for you when she woke. She's doing better, but she's not out of the woods. I needed to put her back under." She looks at you to see you reaction, then adds, "You can still talk to her. Her body's inert, but her mind's alert." She pauses, realizing what she'd said, "Hah, a little rhyme, this time? Oh, I mean, you can communicate with her, if you like."

    There is a medical device to allow communication with comatose patients. It's also useful for communication with passengers in iso, of course, and is the basis for the iso-education process. What do you hate most about this device, Ourania?
  • image

    I hesitate a moment. The thing I don’t like about the device is how hard it is to lie. That and there is always some emotional bleed.

    But she was awake! And doing better. And of all the pod, she asked for me.

    I bite my lip considering and finally nod.

    “Very well, Doctor. I will speak with her.”

    I cross the bay to the tube and sit down next to it, then put the the device on.

  • image

    Ourania,

    You put the immersion helmet on, and after that disorienting moment where your own sense of your body fades, you see that you're in the med bay. It's brighter, cleaner, and Priscilla's sitting on the examination table.

    image She's nude, her body as flawless as you remember from the time you saw her in the communal shower. She smiles brightly, reaches a hand up to you. Priscilla doesn't seem fazed by her nudity, or maybe she isn't aware. "Ourania. Oh great, you came." She tilts her head slightly, her red hair falling off her shoulder as she does. Her brows arch slightly with concern, "Is something wrong? Are you alright?"

    What do you do?
  • edited May 2016

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    I’m caught for a moment, just like before in the shower, looking at her body. I can't tell whether she’s naked because she wants to be or because I want to see it. Like before, I tear my eyes away and up to focus on her face.

    At first, when she reaches out I stay rooted to my spot but then I think she might think that’s weird, so after an unfortunately obvious pause I move forward and take her hand, keeping my eyes on hers.

    I shrug. “I’m okay. It’s nothing. Just people being stupid.” I smile. “Look at you though! Doc says you’re doing better. Everyone will be happy to hear it. We all miss you.”

  • image Priscilla still seems concerned when you brush off her question, she doesn't believe it's people being stupid. She smiles when you turn it back to her and rolls with your change of subject, for now. "I was pretty scared that night, when I couldn't stop coughing. I remember how you took care of me, Ourania." She squeezes your hand. "I am so lucky to have a friend like you." She scans your eyes for a moment, comfortable with the silence between you, happy to be here. "Oh, how is the speedball team? Is, ah, everyone okay? Tabitha working out?"

    Somewhere in here, Ourania, whispers from another voice, not Pris. She doesn't seem to hear it, the words aren't audible, spoken quick and desperate/
  • edited May 2016

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    So yeah... squeezing my hand and all. Then the thanks. I work to control this enormous wave of guilt, then an angry flare. I don't think she would be in here except for what they made me give her. I just nod in response and I decide to sit down next to her. On the one hand there's a beautiful naked her next to me. On the other hand I don't have to keep looking into her face.

    "Um... yeah I guess. You know I never did get speedball, but they seem to be working out all right as far as I can tell. They just won a game actually. Tabitha's doing really well. She was in some trouble, she kind of threw a fit with Haliday giving her his usual stomm, got her thrown in iso but she's out now, and Haliday isn't our Doc anymore."

    I frown slightly at the hint of the voice. The suspension interface is always a little strange. I try to concentrate, see if I can make the voice a little more clear.

  • image

    Ourania,

    As you concentrate, you feel a pull from Pris, her excitement at seeing you, her fear that she's not better, that this is just a plateau. Her loneliness, how much you quench it.

    image She takes in each detail, watching your face even if you don't look directly at her. "That's all great. I bet Mark's proud to have pulled that off. Is... uhm, is he happy with Nadja, Ourania?" She doesn't sound jealous, you feel her concern for his happiness. There's a twinge of hurt, of betrayal that she's put aside because it isn't helpful, confusion over what she did wrong.

    "Ourania," you hear the voice now, clearer. It seems familiar, female. "Can you hear me, Ourania?"
  • image

    I can’t help wave of fury that rises up in me when she asks about Nadja, even as the voice distracts me. I bite back the feeling.

    “No.” I say, then softer. “I mean…I don’t think so. It seems like just her using… just for the attention, you know? But I think something happened to him a while ago.” I shake my head. “Something is… really off with him.” I shrug, give her a weak grin. “He totally traded down. Maybe it’s a boy thing.”

    I know the whole nature of the interface is communicating mind to mind. Pris doesn’t seem to hear the voice but I do, like on a different channel. So I try to connect with that channel mentally. It’s not easy, but despite my reservations, I’m pretty good with this thing.

    I hear you. Who are you?

  • image

    Ourania,

    image Pris says gently, "Nadja's not that bad, Ourania. And there's no trading. Something did happen with the airlock, thing. He became a little distant, and Mark and I broke up. " You feel the white lie, Mark never officially broke up with her.
    Pris gently runs her thumb over your knuckles, "You're guilty about something. What's wrong? You want to talk about it? I don't think they record stuff here."
    Do they?

    "It's me." The voice whispers. "Gwen. Tabitha heard me, too. She even saw me! Can you see me? Where did Tabitha go? She disappeared."
  • image

    Gwen?

    A strange stab of hope and fear. If I thought I felt confused before…

    It’s hard, splitting your attention in this thing. It creates this strange dissonant feeling. And a headache. I glance around the illusory med bay to see if I actually do see Gwen. Maybe it’s just some kind of interface ghost… a projection. Or maybe…

    Tabitha is out of iso. I’m visiting Pris in med bay, but I’m in the interface. I… I don’t see you.

    I look at Pris. Look away.

    The whole thing is linked to computers. I don’t think they monitor every little thing, there just aren’t enough people for that, but record, certainly.

    “Yes, they do.” I say, watching her thumb. “But it… it’s no big deal I just…” infected you, put you here, could have killed you, still might have, “haven’t been as good a friend to you as you deserve, okay?” The words feel a lot heavier than they should. I stand again, agitated, pulling my focus to thinking about how he treated her. How angry I am for her, since she won’t be angry herself.

    “And she is that bad. What the drokk is he thinking breaking up with the… the best, most beautiful girl in the pod for… for that drokking bitch? I mean… you really loved him. It’s not right.”

  • image

    Ourania,

    "I'll find you." Gwen's voice says. "Everything is so different now, like echoes. Hard to find my way. Tabitha was easy, she's doubled. You're not. I'll... I'll find you."

    image Priscilla shakes her head, standing up lightly on her feet, still holding your hand fondly. "No, Ourania, that's not fair. You're never fair to yourself, always pushing. I know you have the whole pod under your watch, and I see how much you care about all of us. You live under a huge shadow. Your burden is like... I just couldn't imagine bearing it. You're a great friend." She seems to notice your distraction now, but lets it pass. There's a hint of disappointment, she doesn't understand why even here she isn't worth your full attention. She's wondering what she did wrong, how to fix it.

    "I still love Mark, Ourania. I'll always love Mark. But it doesn't mean I own him, you know? He doesn't owe me anything. If Nadja makes him happy, well, then I'm happy. Please don't be mad for me." Her hand comes up to cup your cheek, the touch is light, like a feather. "And seriously, Ourania. You are the most beautiful girl in the pod. I would crawl across broken glass to have eyes like yours." The words, her emotion, it's pure, she means it, you don't feel the hook in that compliment, the set-up for something more. There's no ask.

    What do you do?
  • edited May 2016

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    My ‘burden’ is drokknig pointless if I can’t protect someone like Pris.

    The sense of her disappointment at my split focus compunds my guilt. For drokk’s sake. She’s lonley and I’m not treating her any better than Mr. My-dick-is-happy-so-I-think-I-am. Then she says that.

    I freeze, not breathing a moment, because I don’t really know what to do with that. Well… actually I’m only breathing in the virutal environment because my residual self image demands it, and I’m stopping for the same reason and… Stop, Ourania, focus.

    “Th-thanks. You’re really sweet.” I smile, taking the hand that touched my cheek in my other one. “You’re also either delusional or well-medicated, because by that logic, Mark would be going for me, but still… sweet.”

    I glance down. I start fiddling with the Dad’s ring on my first finger with my thumb, rotating it. I sigh. “I’m sorry for being distracted. I saw my Mom earlier and then… you know, people being stupid.” I pause. “A great friend would keep their attention on you because you deserve that, you really do, Priscilla. You need to get better, quickly, okay? I’ll come see you as often as they’ll let me. Every day if they’ll let me. A-and I’ll tell the others to come too, they’ll be happy that you’re better. They all miss you.”

  • image

    Ourania,

    image Priscilla clasps both of your hands in hers, the feeling of warmth bleeding through your connection. "Thank you so much for coming to see me. I know this connection is a little weird, and emotional. If I said anything, you know, too forward, I'm sorry. I don't want to make you uncomfortable. I wouldn't mind a visit from Ashlee. And Tabitha, too. I worry about them both, for different reasons."

    She licks her lips, you feel a hint of emotional pain that she pushes down as she says, "Ourania, if Mark ever decides to go for you, it's zeng with me. Two of my favorite people together. Who wouldn't be happy?"
  • edited May 2016
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    Mark,

    You enter the Med Bay to find Ourania sitting by one of the "tubes", which is occupied. Ourania is wearing headgear and she doesn't respond when you enter with Nadja.

    image The main monitor sparks to life and you see a new doctor, a very young woman appears on the screen. She intones the ritual Med Bay greeting, "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."
    She looks to you, then Nadja, awaiting a response.

    What do you do?
  • image
    I help Nadja over to the couch so she can sit down.

    "Sprained ankle, I think."

    I look over at Ourania, try to figure out what she's doing here.
    Nothing good, I presume.
  • image

    “I was, uh, I was joking, Pris.” I sigh. “Or trying to. S-sorry. Mark and me… we’re like a billion kliks from compatible and he…” I squeeze her hands, almost by reflex, “he’s the very last person on this ship I’d want to be with.”

    I shuffle a bit, uncertain, then give in and hug her. One hand lands on the smooth skin of her lower back and the other is behind her neck as I tuck my nose into that beautiful hair and against the side of her head. I still don’t know if she knows she’s appearing naked. For all I know that might be me, that’s doing that. Hell maybe she’s seeing me naked.

    “I loved seeing you, Priscilla. I mean… it’s… it’s beyond wonderful that you’re recovering. It really helps, you know? I just hope you can come home soon. I’ll tell Tabitha and Ashlee to come.”

  • image

    Ourania,

    image Priscilla hugs you back, warmly. You feel the warmth of her body, the contact of skin on skin. Whether you imagined it alone or she imagined it, it feels real. She pulls back, smiling. "I hope to see you IRL," she says with a wink. "Thank you for coming. Remember what I said about taking too much on, okay?""

    Your connection ends. As you remove the helmet, you see Mark. And Nadja.

    What do you do?

    Mark,

    Arissa starts working with Nadja and you're near Ourania, and overhear her last statement to Pris in the tube. Then Ourania finishes up, takes off the helmet, and looks right at you.

    What do you do?
  • image
    What. The. Dee.
    I don't know what to do. I just kind of gape dumbly at Ourania.

    Did she say Priscilla?
  • image

    The visit with Pris fades like a lovely dream. And when I take the helmet off I'm looking right at Larsen. How's that for a drokking wake-up?I see Nadja seeing the doc somewhere behind him. I raise an eyebrow and puff an impatient breath through my nose.

    I cross my arms.

    "Pris is getting better, if you care." I say to him, voice chilly once again, my eyes glancing towards Nadja. "She was awake but they had to put her under again. But you can see her in the interface. She's probably like a visit, if you can spare the time."
  • edited May 2016
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    She's lying. She has to be.

    "What are you talking about? Pris is..." Dead. "Gone."

    I start to back away. Maybe this is her idea of revenge for calling her out in class. She wants me to be hopeful so she can take it away again. I can't believe her.
  • image

    Mark and Ourania,

    Nadja is involved with Doc Arissa. She's moved into the workstation area so the robotic arm can manipulate her ankle. She hasn't heard your conversation yet.
  • image
    On an impulse, I push past Ourania and go over to the tube. I try to peer inside. You can't really see into these things. The panels are all frosted.

    It could... I guess it could be Pris. But it could be another lie.

    "I find it hard to believe you'd visit Pris," I tell Ourania. "Considering what you did. It'd be strange. But then there has been something weird about you recently."


    Granting a string to the Connoisseur to activate Uncanny Voices.

  • edited May 2016

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    I look at him sharply. A frisson of fear at what he claims to know. “Weird? About me? You need to look in the mirror Captain Speedbutt. Something happened to you. Something in that airlock. Something weird. And what the drokk do you mean ‘what I did?’”

  • image

    Ourania,

    Your Navi beeps with an incoming message. It's from Tabitha.
  • edited May 2016

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    Mark... Up until just recently, my favorite fantasies by far were about being with Pris... and you... both.

    I pull my Navi to look at the message.

    Ourania, are you alright?
    I expected you back at the dorm sooner.
    Let me know if you need me.

    Something softens in me in reaction to her being concerned. I quickly type back.

    I'm fine. Visiting Pris in med. Back soon.

    I pause a moment, bite my lip.

    Thanks for checking.

  • image
    Really? Navi messaging? In the middle of an argument? I snort in frustration.

    I turn away and pick up the tube headset, and think about putting it on. I don't, though.

    "I'll tell you what happened," I say once Ourania seems to have finished typing. "I was in the infirmary and when I woke up, you'd twined yourself around Pris and I was nobody to her. That's what happened. Nothing happened to me." There's a piercing, ringing sound. "I stayed the same. Holy drokk that hurts."

    There are shooting pains in my temples. I drop the headset and lean against the tube for support.

  • image

    "Lies do that." My smirk is grim, but satisfied. I continue. "Pris loved you. She still loves you, poor girl. I'm just a friend, she never saw me that way, so you can stop with the stomm."
  • image
    I look up. Ourania's all blurry. My eyes are streaming.
    "That's what you wanted though, isn't it? Her. And me. And when you couldn't get it, you... what."

    I blink the tears from my eyes and things become clearer. I stand up straight.
    And another thing.

    "And while we're on the subject. Let's make something clear: she dumped me. OK?"

    There. I've said it out loud.

    All this time I've been letting people think it was the other way around because, well, if you're the one doing the breaking up, that's... cooler. Colder, maybe. But it means you were the one in control.
  • image

    I blanch at his accusation and a spike of mortification runs though me. My face gets hot. A guess... It has to be a guess. Which stokes my fury again, which is coming back to me, an old comfortable friend, and I mostly recover.

    I'm so disoriented by his first salvo that I almost miss that the second statement doesn't hurt him.

    "Oh, she probably said the words first, sure." I spit."But you checked out long before that, didn't you? She just did what she thought you wanted. Because that's who she is. She just wants you to be happy. Whether it's with her or not."

    I glare.

    "And drokk your little narcissistic conspiracy theory, I didn't do squat. Not all of us think with our drokking genitals, Larsen. You think everybody wants you because of how you look and because of who your drokking parents are. Well I'm not an idiot, no one wants the d..." I bite my lip, looking away and angrily exhaling through my nose.

    No one wants the daughter of the Commandant of the ship.
    Everyone admires his parents. Everyone fears mine.

    "Drokk you. Just go see her. It would make her happy. She deserves that. "

    I'll turn to leave.
  • image
    I wait for Ourania to leave, then go over to see how Nadja is doing.

  • image

    Ourania,

    You head out of the Med Bay and through the halls back to your form room. The door opens in response to you. Please go here.
  • edited May 2016
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    Mark,

    image Nadja's got a brace on her ankle, and she's slowly standing up. Doc Arissa is watching and you see several displays showing the scans of her ankle, sprained, not broken. Nadja looks up, "Everything okay with you and the bitch, Mark?" She nods towards Ourania as she leaves.


  • image
    I look at the scans, then at the doctor. I wonder where on the ship she is.

    "Okay as they'll ever be. How do you feel?"
  • image

    Mark,

    image ""Pretty good, Nadja answers as she glances over at Doc Arissa. "She's got the hook-up. Pain meds." Nadja finishes standing up, puts a hand on your arm. "Hey, thanks for bringing me over here. I have my rehab regimen. You want to get something to eat?"
    It's obvious she wants out of here for some reason.

    What do you do?
  • image
    "Yeah. Yeah, okay." I start to lead Nadja out. "Can you put your weight on it yet?"

    I look over at the headset on the floor. I'd like to stay a little longer, by myself. Just to find out.
    But if Nadja needs me I'm not going to leave her.
  • image

    Mark,

    image Nadja notes your glance to the headset, intuits something and does this little limp, putting more weight on your arm. "Uhm, I dunno. I could use some help." She gives you some pitiful eyes, then turns for the door, pulling at your arm a little. "Come on, I'm hungry. Okay?"



    What do you do?
  • image
    I pat Nadja's hand kind of lamely, and follow her out into the corridor, supporting her weight.

    "What do you want to eat? I hear the refectory has the blue paste today."
  • image

    Mark,

    Nadja limps along with you, eager for blue paste. When you reach the cafeteria, you see several people from other pods. Ezekiel is sitting with Gams and Gen Yu, chatting and eating. Nadja makes a face like "oh great".

    What do you do?
  • image
    "What's the matter?" I ask. "You don't have to worry about them. We beat them, fair and-- well, we beat them."

    I scan the room looking for the best empty seats.
  • image

    Mark,

    image Nadja limps with you to a table by the wall. "I know. You were amazing. Even Pax was pretty good, which was a shocker." She sits, sighing with the action. "It's just, you know, sore losers and stomm. Can you get me some blue paste? Pretty please?" She pulls her Navi out and scans it, expecting you'll comply.

    On your way to the dispenser, you get a nod from Ezekiel, a "good game" from Gams, and a hateful glare from Gen Yu.
  • image
    I meet Ezekiel and Gams' greetings with a respectful nod. Gen Yu gets an up-and-down flick of the eyes as if I'm picturing her naked. Which, OK, I wasn't at first but now I am.

    At the dispenser I hit the button for the blue set meal twice. Only one tray out of two has the blue paste when they emerge, though. I guess they ran out.
  • image

    Mark,

    It's a nice picture, the one in your head. Gen Yu continues to stare at you openly now, so much that Gams notices it and looks at her oddly, leaning in to whisper a question which she answers without looking away.

    image You get back to your table and Nadja looks up. "What is Gen Yu's problem?" she asks in a low whisper. "I told you they would make trouble. Want me to message Rys or something?"


    Which paste do you give Nadja?
  • image
    I give Nadja the tray with the blue paste, naturally.

    "Don't worry about it. What are they going to do, anyway?"I say as I sit down.

    The mention of Rys reminds me about that whole corp thing. I pull out my Navi and press my thumb over the little square on the form. It does a little animation of, I dunno, something ancient, like inscribing the message in hieroglyphics on a wax cylinder or something, and sends. I put the Navi back in my pocket and steal a glance at where Gen Yu is sitting.

    (Spending my string on Gen Yu to give her the condition Hot For Mark.)
  • image

    Mark,

    After the form closes, you see a new message. It's from Gen Yu.

    Mark,
    Good scrimmage. I'd like to train with you later.
    Name the place and time.
    -Gen Yu


    image "No, I guess nothing." Nadja answers simple. She fiddles with her Navi for a bit. "Hey, did you know Rys is heads over heels into Nerd Girl? It's pitiful really." She taps away at her Navi like it's just a thing she's sharing.


    What do you do?
  • image
    I send a quick reply.
    To: Gen Yu
    Thanks, OK. Will let u know. Think our court is booked up.
    - Mark


    "Yeah, I know. I thought I told you that. But I think she has, you know, feelings for someone else. You should let her down gently." I look at her and wait for her to look up.
  • edited May 2016
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    Mark,

    A quick reply.
    Mark,
    I have full access to our court. Any time.
    Even after hours.
    -Gen Yu


    Ashlee and Mi Sun come walking into the cafeteria, laughing (well, Mi Sun is) and talking together.
  • image

    Ashlee,

    You and Mi Sun come into the cafeteria and see Mark sitting with Nadja, and most of Team Power sitting across the way from them. There are a couple other students from another pod sitting in a corner, talking quietly.

    What do you do?
  • image
    We walk in together, laughin? Well.. maybe. I've got the problem of Jace on my mind, and the team... and of course what happened with the corporals... and that means Ourania...

    But I see Mark and my lovely roomie together and smile a little ironic smile at them. It feels weird walking in here with someone like this, it's usually just me, alone.

    I glance at team Power, wish I hadn't been interrupted like that at the game. I missed some of the best plays... but... stomm I just remembered I have the whole thing on my Navi! My face brightens a bit and I suddenly feel... at least a little better about the whole match.

    I can't look at Nadja, though... and seeing her together with Mark is honestly kind of gross.

    "Good game," I say quietly to Mark as we walk past to get our blue.
  • image
    I smile and nod back to Ashlee as she goes past.
    I'd like to talk more about the game but I get that it would be awkward for her to sit down here now. Me trying to talk to her when the girl she has a crush on is right there at the table too.

    "Uh, sorry, I have to do a quick message," I say to Nadja.

    I tap out a Navi message:
    To: Gen Yu
    OK, let's do it at your court.
    Any time later is fine, no plans.
    - Mark


    I put my Navi away and tuck into my blue paste combo meal without blue paste. At least it has those floppy circular things with the spirals on them.
  • image

    Mark,

    Gen Yu gives a slight nod, then goes back to eating her blue paste.

    image Nadja seems slightly irritated that the Navi is taking precedence, even though she's done the exact same thing to you before. She munches away on the spirals and looks over at Team Power, then back to you. "I don't like Gen Yu. She's a real bitch." She looks over at Ashlee, face neutral.
    Then, an abrupt subject change, she lowers her voice, asking, "Hey, did you ever figure out what Pax was doing on that terminal? It looked like some wiz hacking, like Ashlee-level stomm."
  • image
    "I didn't. But I think I might be able to find out pretty soon. She doesn't know that we saw her but she knows I know something about her."

    There's a long pause because my next spoonful of NutriMash is slightly too big.

    I swallow it all eventually, and say "I dunno about Gen Yu. She seems like she might be kind of interesting, if you get to know her. Did you know her outside quarantine?"
  • image

    Mark,

    image On Pax, Nadja seems interested, "Are you going to push her for more information? It could be really valuable. A coup for a corp, an immediate bust." She moves to the blue paste when you talk about Gen Yu. Nadja huffs a derisive laugh about your opinion of her, "I didn't know her, but I have friends in Eight, and they say she's a poser, a real waste. And, she's got c-down."

    c-down: an STD that occasionally runs through the ship, more prevalent in the student sector. Used as a boogeyman for prevention of copulation.
  • edited May 2016
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    I nod and shrug over the rumours about Gen Yu, drinking through a straw from my cup of B3 Lemon'n'Lime.

    "I'd hate to hear what they say about me. I'm trying not to expect too much from the whole Pax situation. A coup would be nice, but I may not get much out of her." I smile a bit like I'm not sure, not worried either. "Anyway I may not even get accepted as a corp. Depends what they've seen on camera."
  • image

    Mark,

    image Nadja quirks a small frown of disappointment at thought of getting nothing out of Pax. Seems like she thought it was a coup. When you move on to your acceptance into the corporals, her expression turns even more sour. "What would they have on you? Nothing. Your nose is clean, Mark. Why are you acting this way? You just stomped Power, in front of everyone, you've got me, you're turning corp, it's all working out!"
  • image
    Maybe she's right. Well. She is right about all that stuff.

    I can't shake a nagging doubt, though. That there's something I've missed.

    "Yeah... yeah, I guess you're right."

    Pretty much anything that happened over the last few weeks could have been caught on camera. If anyone was watching.

    And I don't know how much the voice in my head can see. Presumably it knows where I am all the time. What it actually wants from me, that's the question.
  • image

    Mark,

    Your Navi beeps with an incoming message. The glow is blue, for administration.

    Mark Larsen,

    Congratulations on being accepted into the Corporal program.
    Your excellent citizenship and service to ISS Tsiolkovsky has
    made you into the perfect candidate to begin training as a
    part of the ship's administration.

    Tomorrow, you will begin training with Corporal Rys Cole.
    He has been informed of your new status. Your commanding
    officer will be Corporal Tek. If you have any questions or
    concerns that your training corporal cannot answer to your
    satisfaction, please bring them to Corporal Tek.

    Well done,
    Your Administration
  • image
    I archive the message and put my Navi away.

    "Well, you were right about that. I start corp training tomorrow. Whatever that is."

    Armlocks 101, probably. Cool, level stare practice. And so on.

    I waggle my eyebrows at Nadja and say, "If you're really good, I'll let you have a go with my stun-stick."
  • image

    Mark,

    Your Navi beeps with more incoming messages. The glow is blue, for administration. They're all from Corps: Eff, Tek and Kul, congratulating you. Neutral tone, professional.

    Rys sends you a handbook. Nothing in the Table of Contents about stares or armlocks that you see.

    Nadja makes a sly remark about your "stun stick", and finishes her paste. Once you're done, you've got quite a bit to read. Nadja suggests you go study, she actually seems interested in you doing well.

    What do you do?
  • image

    Ashlee,

    Mark seems busy with Nadja and doesn't respond much, he's also staring at his Navi quite a bit, getting lots of blue messages.

    image "Stomm!" Mi sun curses as you stand by the food dispenser. "They're out of blue paste. Damn, time for B3 Lemon'n'Lime and some stupid taupe paste. Want noodles?" Mi Sun's getting two bowls of food. She glances over at Team Power, "Let's head back to the room, Pod Eighters are always so much drama. Zeng?" She looks up to make sure you're okay with to-go food.

    Your Navi flashes. It's a message from Nadja.
  • image
    I don't really care that much about blue, or yellow, or whatever. The stomm I had to eat in the lab wasn't... good. This at least tastes like something.

    "Yeah... uh... zeng. I don't wanna buzz around here anyway... too many corps" My navi buzzes while she's getting the bowls of food. I glance over at Nadja, bad taste in my mouth every time I see them together, and pull it out to check her message.

    "Might as well get it over with," i quietly mutter to myself.
  • edited May 2016
    image

    Ashlee,

    Ashlee,
    Mark thinks you're hot for me.
    I told him he's crazy and I should
    let you down easy.
    This is me making it official.
    I'm super not into you. Sorry.
    We're still roomies, though, so
    don't start boiling rabbits on me.
    - Nadja
  • image
    "What the drokk?" I actually say a little too loud as I stare at the screen. I look up and over at Nadja, a slightly disgusted wtd look on my face. Where the hell does that come from?

    Nadja,
    mark is drokking crazy. totally not a thing
    why would you even believe that???


    I sigh loudly, feeling jumpy and like people must be watching. Is this some kind of joke they're playing on me again?

    I suddenly wish I hadn't replied.

    "Let's uh... let's get out of here ok?" I urge Mi Sun to hurry with the food.
  • image

    Ashlee,

    Ashlee
    Who wouldn't want to get with me? jk jk
    No idea why he thinks that. I told him Rys is
    into you. He thinks it's great!
    Why are you hanging around "flipswitch"?
    You should be working the corp angle.
    - Nadja


    image
    "What? Sure, yeah, sounds zeng." Mi Sun says as she looks over at Team Power, then Nadja and Mark. "We can, yeah, go now." She takes her large bowls and drinks and a tray to head for the exit from the cafeteria.
    She doesn't notice that Ezekiel's watching you.

    Ezekiel scoots his chair out, looks up at you, Ashlee, waves you over. What do you do?
  • image
    I start to read Nadja's message as we start to walk. When I follow Mi Sun's look to Team Power's table I see Ezekiel watching.

    "Hey uh... gimme two seconds, ok?" I quietly ask Mi Sun. Nod to her and head quickly over to Ezekiel, almost on tiptoe. Sometimes it would be nice to actually be invisible.

    I slow in the last few steps, nervous to be so close to them. I approach Ezekiel... not too close. But close enough to speak kinda quietly.

    "Uhh.... yeah?" A hopeful little look on my face. Does he look angry?
  • image

    Ashlee,

    Mi sun nods, heads to the edge of the cafeteria to wait.

    image
    Ezekiel doesn't look angry, and he rises from his table to step a bit away from his team to talk to you a little more privately. "Hey," he says low. "I'm curious what you picked out from watching us practice. Obviously you figure out some weak spots, and I missed them. So... what did you see?" It's obvious he's not super happy that he missed it, but he doesn't seem angry that you scouted his team so well.

    What do you do?
  • edited May 2016
    image
    I fidget (as I do) and shift my weight nervously from foot to foot. But inside I'm kind of celebrating and it's hard not to smile. Of course they know I figured them out... I wasn't exactly subtle about watching practice. But I'm surprised he just comes out and asks like this... at least he's kind of actually... cute.

    I play it coy, "weak spots?" He's not one of the taller guys on the team, and he's still a head taller than me. I stare at his chest, glancing up to his face from time to time. "You know I'm not exactly in your pod... uh... let's say I did figure something out. Why would I want to tell you about it?"

    In my head I'm looking kind of cool and mysterious. Well... I'm not that good an actor but hopefully I pull it off.
  • image

    Ashlee,

    image Ezekiel steps a little closer, just enough to be in your personal bubble, but it isn't aggressive, it's sort of playful maybe? Intimate, surely. He tilts his head and gives this little smile, "Maybe because I asked... nicely?"



    When Zeke turns on the Charm to get something he wants, roll to Hold Steady to resist his charms. On a 10+, you're a wily thing! You resist him, and get a +1 Forward on him from the exchange. On a 7-9, you give him something, but you intrigue him a little, so take a String on him. On a failure, well, you blurt it out, and he gets a String on you, too.
  • image
    He's close enough that I smell him. Not the thrilling metal and sweat smell of the speedball court, but something more subtle.

    "Uhh..." I stare at that little spot at the nape of his neck and stick my hands in my pockets to keep from letting him see me fidget.
  • Ashlee
    Resist Zeke's charms: (Cold-1)
    (Rolled: 2d6-1. Rolls: 2, 2. Total: 3)
  • image
    I feel hot and my mouth feels dry. Without thinking I lick my lips and then that feels weird that I did that. He saw me do that, didn't he?

    "I... uh..." he did ask nicely, didn't he? "Well... um... you know. Gams... is always in the exact. Same. Spot.... on the court. And uh... Pellit? Yeah..." is he at the table, I nervously glance at him and lean a bit close to Ezekiel so we won't be overheard. Ezekiel smells so nice, "Pellit totally telegraphs his shots... I can't believe you didn't notice..." truth is. I'm a drokking genius, right? Nobody else noticed, "and..." I can hear him breathing, "um... you know they rely on you way too much on transition... you gotta let them think for themselves more... seriously... you're not the only one that can call a play."

    My face feels hot, my throat is dry and I'm digging my nails into my thigh through my pocket...

    "I mean..." is he gonna be pissed at me? "You can call a play but... um... you don't have to... always..."

    My eyes drift down from his neck to his chest... and... and I sound like a drokking idiot don't I? What's wrong with me? My heart is racing. Am I having a psychotic episode? If so I need... uh... I need to close my eyes and count...

    But he's looking right at me...
  • image
    I help Nadja back to her room, though she doesn't seem to need to lean on me quite so much now. Fast recovery, I guess. Maybe that's her mutant power.

    I say goodbye and then go next door to my room, sit down and start reading.
    After a few minutes I remember something, and send a message.

    To: Gen Yu
    I have a bunch of reading to do for a while.
    Meet at yr court in a couple of hrs ok?
    - Mark


    Then I get back to the handbook. There's a lot of words in there, most of them not saying much. This was for sure put together by like a year of committee meetings.
  • image

    Ashlee,

    image Ezekiel listens to you, like you're a coach, really. Ashlee, it's a pretty good feeling, especially when he meets your eyes. He's taking mental notes, engaged. It feels personal, you know? "Gams switching positions, yeah, true. Pellit has a tell? Stomm, I need to check the vids." He huffs a little laugh, "Could you imagine Gen Yu calling a play? Other than, let me take it to the hole again?" His eyes crinkle a little when he grins at you. "I can work with this. Thanks, Ashlee. I owe you one."

    What do you do?
  • image

    Mark,

    Mark,
    I'll code you a pass into Pod Eight. See you in
    two hours. Be ready to sweat!

    - Gen Yu


    Aiden watches you studying for a while, makes a couple cracks about your sudden interest in tomorrow's homework. Do you let him in on what you're reading?
  • image
    Yeah, I'll let Aiden know. It's not a secret.

    "I'm moving up in the world, Aiden. Or at least sideways. But I'm moving, and that's the main thing. Anyway, how was your day? What was all that with the corps over in Eight?"
  • image

    Mark,

    image Aiden quirks a little frown. He's never said anything about corporals that would get him in trouble, but you're aware he's not a fan of the structure. "Two corporals in one pod? Who's going?" He swipes off his Navi, which was in tablet mode, sits up to look at you. "Oh, the post-game frenzy was something I've never seen before. Bea flipped out after some argument with Ourania, I mean seriously lost her stomm. Then Tabitha tried to help her out... and they both just disappeared. I don't know what light show they pulled off, but it was perfect. Corps were probably too embarrassed to do anything about it, because I haven't seen anything on their feed. So, ah, do your parents know about your new status?"
  • image
    That information about Tabitha and Bea is maybe less surprising that you would think. There is some weird stomm going on around here. Has been for a while.

    "That's a good question. I guess they do. I should tell them anyway, I guess. What were Bea and Ourania arguing about?"
  • image
    I have an excited smile as I get into the details, at the same time I know I'm sharing secrets I probably shouldn't be... but the match is done. Well... the scrimmage. And if Mark can't drokking win on his own well maybe he doesn't deserve my help, right?

    But...'I owe you one' is not what my imagination was imagining.

    And I'm sort of caught there feeling foolish and embarrased after all. He's so... charming... but.

    "I... yeah... yeah ok..." why did I just tell him all this? "It's all stars and lasers, right?" something I heard on an old timey speedball rebroadcast... or maybe I made it up cause the audio was muted in my cell, "I should... uh..."

    I glance over my shoulder to find Mi Sun, if she's still waiting for me... well ok it's only been about a minute. My body language reads that I have to be going.

    But yeah, something in me wells up and burst out with some words I'm surprised to hear myself saying, "I'll... if it's ok with you... ah... I'll come to practice again... sometime... ok?"
  • image

    Mark,

    image Aiden seems a little uncomfortable discussing Bea, like they have some kind of "nerd solidarity" or something. He never says anything bad about her, really. Still, it's a simple question and you weren't asking for stomm on her, so he answers, "Well, Ourania was pissed at her, called her weak, told her to cut herself up and basically to kill herself. It was the most out-of-control I've ever seen Ourania. I hope it wasn't on the feed. Oh, drokk, I should check..." He pulls up his Navi and starts poking around.
  • image
    I find it hard to believe now, but I used to like Ourania. She was always a little bossy, but how could she not be, given who her mother is.

    When I got out of the infirmary, when Pris got so distant, I could see Ourania had been a friend to her while I was... away. There was a genuine love there. Ourania wanted Pris to be happy. If I'm honest with myself, and I seem to get a headache now when I'm not, it was jealousy that soured me on Ourania. While I was kicked to one side, Ourania was there. A positive role model, if I felt like trying harder.

    So I get no credit for disliking her now she's turned evil. I wonder who got her to turn on Pris. Her mother, I guess.

    "Ourania used to be OK," I say to Aiden. "I dunno what happened to her. But I hate bullies. People say people do it because of personal trauma... I find it hard to be sympathetic, even so."
  • image

    Mark,

    image Aiden, your roommate, who you stood over just days ago, berating him, physically intimidating him, has a moment where you can see his reaction to your hatred of bullies, and maybe he doesn't think you're so different from Ourania even now. He says none of that, but you sense it. Maybe you heard it? Through that subvocal comm link.
    Then, Aiden says, "Ourania went a bit far. Bea's not perfect, sure. But she's had a hard time since Gwen died, and she was never completely stable before. I hope she doesn't do anything drastic."
  • image
    I frown and sit forward.
    "You don't think she would... do you?"

    I don't think she would. But what do I know.
  • image

    Mark,

    image "Probably not..." Aiden answers, but he doesn't sound completely sure. He keeps playing with his Navi. "Oh, looks like Ourania's tantrum isn't available anywhere on the feeds. Some recently redacted stuff, though. Aligns with the timeline. someone hid it. I just... can't find where." He fidgets for a bit. "If you're worried about Bea, you could use your new-found corporal powers to go check on her. For, you know, the common good."
  • image
    "I don't think my corp powers kick in until I've at least completed the handbook," I reply.

    I go back to reading and there's a long moment where I know Aiden is just looking at me. I lower my Navi.

    "Having said that. I could go check on her anyway. You coming with?"

    I stand up and get ready to go. Once I find my shoes. I kicked one under the bed when I came in, so now I have to almost lie on the floor to reach it.
  • image

    Mark,

    image Aiden sighs like "yeah, of course you'll drag me into this", and swings his legs around to hang them off his bunk, then puts his shoes on, too. "I guess so. It was my idea, I should be subjected to the bloody, horrid mess of finding her carcass, right?" He shakes his head, then walks over to his closet-wall and pulls a thin jacket out, slips it on. "Lead on, Corporal... Mar? Mak? Maybe your corporal name will be something wholly new, like Corporal.... three letters. Corp Boo?" He heads for the door.

    Anything you do on the way to Bea's room?
  • image
    On the way? Nothing really. Just brainstorm cool and/or stupid corp names with Aiden.
    Bun. Fog. Dat. Fnr. Adn. Exo. Zef. Who.

    We do a brief riff on "I'm looking for Corporal Who." "Who?" "That's right." "What?"
    And then we're at Bea's door.

    I press the chime thing.
  • image

    Mark,

    There's no answer.
  • image
    I chime the door again and knock on it a bit, and shout. The doors are pretty thick but you can hear loud noises through them.

    "Bea! It's Mark and Aiden! Just want to see if you're OK."

    I look back at Aiden and frown, like, where else would she go.

    "Does she have somewhere she goes? By herself?" I ask him. Not that they're great friends or anything. But he might know. Might have seen her one bad day.
  • image

    Mark,

    Still no answer.

    image Aiden blinks, sort of a "am I her keeper?" "She... pretty much never leaves her room. I was shocked when she started hanging out with Ourania." He pulls up his Navi, tries to message her. "Stomm, she's away. Wait...." he taps and opens up a red-letter program, does a search on her device. "Drokk, her Navi's in her room. Don't know where she is. Rys could ping her, she's tagged."
  • image
    I think of a few reasons Bea might be tagged. Most seem out of character.

    "Yeah. Yeah, I'll ask Rys."

    Navi out.
    To: Rys
    Hey man can you chek where Bea is?
    Not in her room. Might do sth stupid.
    thx
    Mark

  • image

    Mark,

    A few moments later, you get this reply.

    To: Mark
    Bea the mouse? She never does sth stupid.
    Checked tags, she is in her room.

    Rys
  • image
    "Rys says she's in there," I say to Aiden.

    I send Rys a reply.
    To: Rys
    OK, that's weird. thanks.

    Mark


    I try to open the door. Maybe Bea just left it unlocked.

    "I wish this door would just ... be open," I say.

    (Turning on Strings Attached.)
  • edited June 2016
    image

    Mark,

    The price is a string to the Dark Power.

    And then, it just slides open. Aiden does a double take, looks at you like you just unlocked the secrets of the universe for a moment, then looks inside.

    The lights are off. When you enter, they don't come on. Aiden turns up the brightness on his Navi, and that's when you see it. Lying in the floor, a small puddle of blood surrounding it. A small microchip, slightly larger than a single grain of rice.
    microchip

    The bluish-white light of the Navi makes the blood look purple. Aiden sucks in a breath, muttering, "That had to hurt."

    What do you do?
  • image
    I turn to Aiden.
    "Where did Gwen die?"

    Bea has a thing for the tragically poetic, so.
  • image

    Ashlee,

    image Ezekiel grins, shows an adorable little dimple that you'd never seen before. "I'd love to have you come watch again, Ashlee. You really know your speedball." He sucks his teeth and the grin turns a bit, to a sideways one, and he chuckles once. "Thing is, I can't have you scouting us anymore, since you're on the Hawks roster now. That... would be against the rules. You know?" He gently pats you on the shoulder.
    "But," he leans in, dropping his voice, "If you came to see me, there's nothing against the rules there."

    What do you do?
  • edited June 2016
    image

    Mark,

    image Aiden swallows, muttering, "That microchip is deep in, Mark. Usually surgically implanted in the leg. She's got to be limping, bleeding bad." He thinks for a moment at your question, "She fell over a railing at the recycling plant bay. Come on." He turns to huff it out of the dorms, calling, "Should you call Rys?"

    What do you do?
  • image
    Adorable? Yeah...
    My cheeks feel pleasantly warm as his demeanor shifts to be a little more... personal. I didn't tell him all these secrets just to be nice... did I?

    Then he drops that little bombshell on me and I catch myself staring dumbly up at him, "uhhh... wait. No... I'm not on the roster." I glance over to where the others were sitting, but they're gone by now. "Do I even... look like I play? There's no way... right?" Little doubtful laugh as I pull my hands from my pockets and kind of rub one wrist with the other hand and stare at my hands.

    But he's said something else, too... and I feel his warmth as he leans closer and when he pats my shoulder that shocks me back into the moment.

    "Uh... well. Yeah... maybe..." I finally look him in the face. His eyes are kind of amazing. I mean... I know he's kind of a ball hog and sort of an enemy... sort of... and way too pretty to be actually nice... but...

    "Maybe I could... um..." I suddenly feel nervous again and take a half-step back. "Yeah so... when's next practice?"
  • image

    Ashlee,

    image He shrugs, "I just checked, after the game. You were added to the roster. That's when I figured out you were more than a fan." He chuckles again, shaking his head in a good-natured way like "no, you don't get it", "I'm not exactly asking you to practice with me, Ashlee. I'm asking you to come chat about speedball with me. Alone." His hand's still on your shoulder.

    What do you do?
  • image
    "This is deed up, Aiden. Yeah let's go. I'll call Rys."
    I leave the microchip where it is. In fact, I don't touch anything in the room.

    I follow Aiden, he knows the way, and dial up Rys as we go.

    "Rys, it's Mark." Why did I even say that, he knows it's me. "Bea dug her tag out. She's not in her room. Heading to the resyk bay."
  • image

    Mark,

    image "Wait, what? She dug it out?" Rys asks, his tone shocked. "I've read about folks doing that, but Bea? Did Lucas drokking take her or something?!?" His mind's racing. "I'm on my way, man, I'll call Eff, see if she can head Bea off."

    Mark, why don't you give me a "Running Away" roll to catch up to Bea before something bad happens?
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