Your attempt to meet with Metro was unsuccessful. The man is busy at work with the engineering core, a team of almost twenty workers who are busy putting the final touches on the first of the three water processing plants. This close to success, he was unable to meet with Parfait, but sent word through a runner that he would follow up with you in four days. Where did you tell him to find you?
Now, you're up on top of the Ascendant with a worn and weary Parfait as well as Ro. The chill in the air is even more pronounced here than it is on the ground, with nothing to break up the wind. Parfait seems soothed by the open space, albeit a bit cold. She moves closer to you for warmth.
There's a girl up here, sitting on the very edge of the garden, her legs hanging over while she scribbles into a small journal. There's an older man working in the garden here, he's fussing with some dirt as if it had a personality.
Why did you come up here, Jack? What do you do?
I give Parfait my jacket in an attempt to keep her warm, and find a spot to sit with the most beautiful view... I had heard a rumor that the gardens were quite beautiful, and I suspected that some fresh air, away from the cold steel walls of the Ascendant, might do her some good.
I stare up to the northern bay and feel my heart flutter a bit... I have never been to the bay before. I can see snow on the mountaintops to the far north... It must be quite cold there by now. A part of me wants to run down to the bikes and ride for those hills, to see who lives there, and how they live. The other part of me knows I cannot do that until Parfait is well. I want her to enjoy such travels as well.
I turn to Ro and ask, "how far north have you been, Ro?"
Ro's nearby when you ask about his travels. His chest puffs out a little. "I sailed on the bay, Jack. Found a little island there with blue sand. It was pretty amazing. Why?"
That girl is sketching you now, you can feel it, Jack.
What do you do?
I can feel my eyes being drawn to the woman sketching us... Something about her, and being sketched makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I need to speak to her...
The girl, her name is Faille (pronounced like "file"), looks like this:
She's sketched you, Jack. She wrote a couple words hovering on the periphery of your silhouette. One challenges you, the other comforts you. What are they?
The two words scrawled above my portrait surprise me — for one, neither of them are wanderer. Secondly, they are placed so candidly as if they were obvious to the artist. "Lover" is the word that brings me comfort. "Delusion" is the one that chills me to the bone. It is enough that I cannot contain myself anymore. I double take and find myself staring down at her sketch...
"Excuse me... Are you Faille?"
The bald girl looks up, as if you'd pulled her from a trance. She blinks herself clear and nods, "Yes, I'm Faille. You're..." she looks down at her pad. The look is odd, like she's seeing it for the first time. Then, like she's reading it off the paper, "Jack."
She likely overheard my name, but my eyes narrow skeptically and I slip a defensive arm around Parfait's waist. I use my free hand to point down at her sketchbook, "you're quite the talented artist... Care to explain the piece for me?"
"You desire love, you want to give the world love, Jack. It's rather beautiful. Better than my scribblings," she admits. "But you worry that your trust and faith in people are unfounded. Or shaky. Right?"
There's something about her, Jack. A kind of kinship between you. She sees things. Not exactly like you, but close.
What do you do?
I am worried that the faith people place in me would be lost when they find out my past. That they would up and abandon me as Aquafina did... I have found a few people who I trust implicitly — Parfait, Ro, and even Rinso to a certain extent — and until recently I didn't know people such as them existed in the world. They have stood with me through very difficult times, and I would not think to insult them to say I do not trust them.
"No," I answer quietly, "I am worried their faith in me is misplaced."
"Do you feel lost in a crowd, Jack?" she asks quietly, looking up at you with those big eyes of hers. She hangs there, then looks away before you answer, back to the horizon, to the northern bay.
I tilt my head curiously when she asks if I feel lost in a crowd — a curious choice of words... As if it's almost correct, but not quite. Like someone listening to a conversation through a wall. I nod slowly, "sort of... I feel out of place in crowds." Who is this woman?
(Rolled: 2d6+3. Rolls: 6, 6. Total: 15)
You know this because in some distant way, you two are related. As you are also related to Ziploc. As you were related to Branigans. There are five of you, Jack. Well, four, if you account for Branigans' recent becoming dead. The fifth is someone you haven't met. They're up north. You'll know them when you see them. If three of you could actually sit down and work together, you could do some awe inspiring stuff.
Oh and by the way, if you leave Faille be, she'll be the next Branigans. Her loneliness and lack of understanding will warp her into an unfeeling sociopath, she will twist and trick others into serving her, loving her.
But if you take her with you... she may kill you. She may not... but regardless, hers will be the last face you see.
You honestly expect me to stand here and pretend to be normal with this woman — who you insist I will either turn into a heartless monster, or a constant reminder of my mortality? I cannot. I cannot look upon her without seeing the scared young man who once feared his gifts for what they might do to people. I cannot let this girl alone... The strain of such gifts is enough to drive most men to madness. You said so yourself...
I look to Parfait and Ro... They will read the urgency on my face, even if they may not understand why. I am not delusional... In spite of what her paper may or may not say about me. This is not destiny that has brought me here, or some higher purpose... It is coincidence. Fortuitous for the people of the Ascendant, perhaps, but nothing more than coincidence.
I look back to Faille, and try to relax my posture. "Faille... Have you heard the whispers yet?"
I shake my head, "the way you drew me... Those words you wrote... You simply knew it? Didn't you? ... Like the way I know things about you."
(Rolled: 2d6+3. Rolls: 6, 4. Total: 13)
Q1: What has Faille experienced of the gifts?
Her brows crease with sudden worry, "What, uhm... what do you know about me?"
Her understanding of the gifts are limited, by choice through fear. The journal is her crutch. She reads emotions and hears inner voices. She also, without knowing it, sometimes makes people do the things she draws. She can't tell the difference between hearing and telling.
I take a deep breath and add, "I know because I once felt that way myself — that is no way for a person to live out their life — and I think you need to come with me."
Faille looks at her when she answers, "Only if you are all okay with it."
Parfait slumps, "I will not stand in your way, my husband. If she is one who needs your help..."
Ro answers, too. "I'm sure we can make room for one more."
Faille still looks like she might not accept, Jack. Like this feels forced, and she's not really wanted.
What do you do?
I kiss Parfait on the cheek supportively, and let my arm slide out from around her as I step forward to address Faille. "My dear... Surely you've felt the discord here. The abominations and evil that walks the halls in this place is enough that even my friends are sensitive to it. This place has been the play-thing of a man who twisted people to his will for pleasure. He destroyed the lives of people in love, and warped truths to suit his whim. If you stay here, this darkness will consume you, as it would eventually overwhelm and consume me."
This cannot be overstated, "I sense your fear of Branigans' work, and know you spend your time up here to escape it... You are right to do so. I met the man who did the horrible things you sense here. I strive to prevent myself from becoming him — to prevent myself from doing the horrible things he's done here. If you fear those things too, then I can help you avoid that dark path — the friendship and trust you seek will come in due time."
"I don't..." she says finally, "I don't want to do that. No way." She looks at Parfait again, silently asking permission. Parfait looks away, not saying no, just not saying anything.
"We should get some food." Ro interrupts brightly, hoping to bring people's attention to more pleasant things. "Star wants to grab a bite with us today, at a place called Chefs. A lady named Barilla runs it. Good food. And VB is cooking there, too. She's an old buddy of mine."
I look to Ro and smile, "that sounds excellent!" I offer Parfait my hand, and whisper, "I will hear whatever you wish to say when we are in private, my love — for now, know that I appreciate your support."
Then I turn back to Faille, "Shall we?"
Q3: How can I prevent Faille from harming me, Parfait or Ro?
Faille nods her acceptance of your offer. Ro leads the way to the ladders, then down to Barilla's.