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Late Spring 2076?, Early Evening; Somewhere

Aria ducked spritely into the treeline away from the group clustered on the rocks below. Pine needles crackled underfoot, bone dry and smelling of dust. The absence of insects or birdsong was eerie, only the wind providing a counterpoint to the complaining voices below her. She wiped the sweat off her forehead, it was hot, even in the shade of the trees…but that was probably just as well, assuming the night time temperature didn’t plummet too much perhaps they might not die from exposure given that all they were wearing were cheap flats.

The sky was full of odd striations of colour, as if the overly large sun peered down at them through a mantle of metallic dust…

Looking back she could see that the group of kids had already begun to divide themselves into cliques…it was an inevitable part of teenage life she supposed, grouping yourself with like-minded peers, getting tribal…she wasn’t sure how long it would be until they devolved into a Lord of the Flies mob but already she could see that the crate of rations had been broken open and there was squabbling over the contents.

The divisions were more or less along social rather than racial lines...they may all be wearing identical flats but haircuts, posture and voice all betrayed who came from wealth and plenty and who had had to struggle for every breath. That wasn't to say there weren't any other tensions, the whole group looked ready to go to war with each other and they'd only apparently been here a day...

A noise ahead of her made her pause and she ducked down beside a rough sandstone boulder. Voices floated down to her, one plaintive, verging on panic and another full of rough malicious laughter. Peering round she could see that two boys had cornered one of the girls and a quiet chat wasn't what they had in mind. Her flats were ripped and she was desperately trying to cover her scrawny chest whilst fending them off...

Another boy, a burly orc with gang tats swooped down on the group and before they could react delivered a sickening blow to the side of one of their heads and almost wrenched the other boy's arm out of its socket as he dragged him off the girl

"Show some fragging respect you ignorant fucks!"

Aria ducked away before she could be seen and dragged into their confrontation...she had a feeling that scenes like this might become all too common unless someone could step forward and unite them in some way...
"Nice one!" Vincent said aloud as the orc took down the two boys. The orc looked at him and shrugged and went to the girl. "Hey miss are you alright?" She covered up and stared Vincent down. He didn't seem to care. Vincent was the only one smiling. "Man this is a weird dream." He looked around and saw all the different people. He heard the Dragonslayer... grated for some reason but clear enough. "Kid... this isn't a dream." Vincent immedately looked around wide eyed. "Uh oh..." He ran around the campsite generally ignored by the others except for a few who were sizing him up.
Maya takes a good look around, not particularly concerned by the terrain, but it was, after all, different from where she had been a few minutes ago. The crates with food were already broken into and there seemed to be some disagreement over who should get what. Fully aware of her own social shortcomings, she goes to stand near one of the boys that seems to at least have some of the others listening to him and tries to talk to him, but is shunted away after one look at her horribly disfigured face. Three more tries with different small groups netted the same rather unsurprising and completely expected result, as being completely unable to get others to listen to her suggestions is a common occurrence for Maya. Undaunted, she goes to the first crate and looks about for anything useful, smiling when she sees the bundles of twine that had held the packets of rations together. She kneels to gather as much as she can then pulls free one of the slats forming the crate that has a sharp edge from where it was smashed in. Standing, she looks about again and takes stock of the people around her. Most seem to range in age from the middle teens, but a few are younger and a few older, like herself. She can hear several languages being spoken and recognizes all of them, so far. Several of the younger kids, three girls and two boys, have somewhat isolated themselves off to one side, just waiting for some miracle to happen. Girding her resolve to try again, Maya walks over to this group and, speaking in English, says, "Hello. My name is Maya. Something strange has happened. I think we might be here for a bit and am going to build a shelter. Would you like to help? I will let you stay in it and keep warm tonight if you help."

Three of the children nod and stand but the other two look at her like she is the monster she sometimes looks like. One replies in French that he and the other girl do not speak English. Maya smiles and repeats her statement in French and the pair smiles and stand to join her. Maya takes them a short distance from the large clearing and into the woods towards where she can hear a small stream. Homing in on the noise, Maya and the rest find the source of fresh water and race to it before Maya brings all of them up short. She warns them that the forest might not be friendly and that predators might be near. She shows the small group what she is looking for splits them into a group of three and another of two. Soon the kids are bringing her sticks and wood from the ground and vines that they cut with the sharp board. Using the vines and the twine from the crates, Maya and the others fashion a small but sturdy shelter in the treeline. It is her hope that others will see her doing this and want to have shelters as well and she will try to show them what to look for. Her tactic is successful as soon several other kids show up and want to make shelters. Some have some outdoor skill , but many do not and the quality of work is evidence of this. Unfortunately, a few of the older kids would rather just take a shelter than make one and Maya sees four larger boys oust some people from a shelter and just sit about laughing at the rest. Maya goes to them and says, "Please, these people worked hard to build this and it is not right for you to just take it."

The four toughs laugh and one, obviously the leader, says, "Ooh, so the crybabies seem to have a friend. Why don't you just go of and hide that ugly lo................"

He does not finish the sentence as Maya interrupts him by tossing the handful of pebbles in her hand into his face. The boy's hands rise in reflex and are completely out of position to prevent her kick from connecting with his sternum. He gives a strangled cry and falls back, only to have Maya follow up by straddling him and grabbing his balls through the thin fabric. She squeezes none too gently and the boy screams in pain. "Now, let's try this again, shall we? Ah ah, You three stay where you are if you want your pal to keep his rocks in their sack. And you will be a good boy and move on. I can show you what I need from the surrounding area and we can work together on building a shelter for you, but there will be no more just being lazy and taking what you want. It is going to get cool, maybe even cold, here at night and we will need to be able to make a fire and find food. Some of the lazy bastards among us have gone and made sure that they were fed without thinking that we might need the food for a while. So, which is it to be? Are you going to tell your lot to be the helpers rr are you going to scream in agony as I squeeze harder?

The almost panicked boy does not waste any time thinking and nods. "Yeah. OK. Anything you say, just don't squeeze again."

Maya gets off the boy and stands up, looking warily at him and his friends. The boy stands and rubs his groin as he says, "You don't fight very fair. Guess I had you wrong. OK, show us what you need and we will go look for some of it."

Maya looks out over the clearing and shakes her head. There are far more people doing nothing or arguing than have joined her little band. She walks about the small group of shelters, helping where she needs to, but her mind is already on thinking of a way to answer the next needs: water, food, clothing, and fire. Water is not too far away but they have nothing to carry it in at the moment. She has seen some berries in the woods and sent the original five kids out to gather them and there is a growing pile guarded by her new best friend, the former bully. Surprisingly, he and his friends are proving to be an asset by watching over the small band. Maya is already considering that perhaps there is a better place to set up something more permanent, but that will need to wait until tomorrow. For now, at least some of the people are working productively on surviving.
At first Addie thinks there must have been an accident, and she was knocked out and lost some memories. Then she realizes there is no bus, no plane, no signs of injuries.

Then she thinks that her mother's worries were right, that getting implants of vaFeerious sorts so young might have messed with her brain, and she's had some kind of black out. Did she re-join scouting, is this some sort of trip? But where is their gear? Where are the leaders?

Feeling a rising tide of panic, she asks her commlink for their location, but it indicates that there is no matrix connections available to provide that data. She knows she should be asking it to look for any other devices around, maybe there is a computer with more info or something, but she isn't sure that she wants to know the answer just yet.

There are more immediate concerns. A lot of the kids are scooping up and devouring rations. Food is important, but water more-so, she knows that much, so she goes looking for something to drink, scanning the group for any familiar faces, and with some dread finally asking her commlink for the current time and date.

“Oi!” it’s the girl from the trees… she’s tied the sleeves of the shapeless jumpsuit up behind her as a crude halter neck leaving her skinny arms bare “You didn’t see anything, right? Say anything and I’ll fragging kill you, got it?” and without waiting for a response she has swept off, holding her head high, to join the gaggle forming around one of the older boys who is sitting listening wryly to one of the others spouting on about getting organised…


The shelters are coming along, despite the sparse building materials and the even worse tools at your disposal. You’ve never had much luck with people before, they just don’t seem to warm to you, but clearly the exceptional conditions you find yourself in are countering that, and possibly because most of the kids here are younger than yourself and willingly looking for some guidance.

You feel a presence behind you and turning, and looking up, and then up again, you see an imposing orc with gang tats looking impassively down at you

“I saw what you did to that boy…it was stupid! I can see you know what you are doing and you can handle yourself, but be careful who you pick a fight with. Things are going to get worse around here before they get better, don’t draw attention you don’t want!”

@ Addie

As you search out some water you are drawn away from the larger group off towards the trees. You hear it before you see it and are gratified to find the small stream bubbling away through the rocks, it certainly looks cleaner than most open water you are used to seeing…

A whoop comes from ahead of you and two kids splash back towards the main group carrying another crate…from the brief glimpse you get it seems this one might have tools in it, possibly even weapons…
Maya takes the full measure of the large Ork. She nods and vaguely waves a hand at her face. "Yes. You are, of course, quite correct. A face like yours inspires people to obey you, while I have found out many times that a face like mine only really inspires derision. At this stage in what we are doing, I felt it necessary that we not allow them to run roughshod over us and that we would stand up for ourselves." She looks at the Ork's tats, not really understanding what they mean and puts out a hand. "Thank you for your kind words. My name is Maya and we could sure use all the help we can get. I do not understand what is happening, but I feel we are part of some experiment and wish to survive it. You could help and we could help you." While she is waiting for an answer, there is a commotion in the clearing as two boys bring another crate from the woods. Maya turns to the Ork. "I would like to secure some of the food in that crate for those camping here. Would you come with me and help?"
Waking quickly, Lindsey immediatly realizes something is very wrong. The eggcrate foam she was used to sleeping on was gone and replaced by something somewhat harder, but definitly not 'crete. Cracking her eyes open she has to surpress a gasp at the openness around her. Jumping to her feet, she looks around deperatly, unsure of what she's searching for, but certainly not finding it in the rocky surrounds or the oddly colored sky. Eventually latching on to the scant shadows of the treeline, she jerks that way but then is pulled up short by the voice of Eris in her head, "Calm down. There's opportunity here..."

Taking a deep breath, she forces herself to relax and take in her new surroundings. Surrounded by numerous other children of various ages she sees she's obviously not alone in her confusion. Kids are sitting on the rocks staring around but not seeing anything, some seem to be wandering aimlessly kicking at the dirt. Of the ones that seemed to be coping best, about half were talking in various groups while the others were crowded around some crates further down the stony slope. Squinting her eyes in that certain way Eris taught her it seems harder for some reason and she is almost startled back to her normal vision by the twisting of the colors around her, similar to the oddness with the sky. Looking around she see the expected range of emotions, from terror to excitement and sadness to elation, although they're definitely trending towards the negative end. Somewhat heartened by the familiar 'landscape', even if it seems subtly off, she unfurrows her brow and tries to decide what to do.

With a low growl, her stomach informs her of where her priorities should be and she starts off for the kids milling around the crates. Not ready to interact with anyone until she has a better idea of what's going on, she gives the others between her and her target wide berths. Approaching the group she starts to hear the babble of conversation that she didn't realize she'd been feeling the absence of. Taking advantage of her relatively small size, she ducks into gaps in the crowd, grabbing what she can. Shoving anything that's already been opened into her mouth while pocketing items that remain sealed, she listens to the common threads of confusion and puzzlement going on around her.

Pockets and belly full, she starts stepping away just as one of the older children starts speaking loudly about saving food and supplies for later and sharing it out as needed. As others in the group start to stop and listen, she smiles to herself that she was able to take care of herself before it became an issue. Not everyone is paying heed though and a trio of what appear to be natural born orks are continuing to eat. As the rest of the group becomes increasingly obviously agitated at the orks, Lindsey can hear from their confused talk amongst themselves that they barely speak any English at all and aren't sure what the problem is. Seizing the opportunity to start establishing her status, she says loudly in Or'zet, "Oi, chummers! They want to save some of this for later in case there isn't anymore. Better hungry now than dead later, no?" Suddenly, everyone is staring at her...
"...What did I see?" Vincent thought to himself perplexed. "Magic feels weird here kid. Maybe its just me. Best be careful. First we need to figure out who is in charge. Most likely gonna be factioned quickly. Maybe investigate a bit. In the meantime try to keep your damn blood from boiling! I know this is adventure but this is serious!" Vincent nodded. "Yosh! Be serious... serious... uh..." Vincent picked out Aria in the crowd and stood beside her. "This kid seems like a good person to team up with for now. We both had the same idea about staying outside the major crowds... I think..." Vincent thought to himself. He tapped her shoulder.
Addie could hear her Grandmother in full, dry, lawyer voice “You say you spent a couple of weeks doing wilderness camping with your scout group, but it never occurred to you that a stream would not come pre-stocked with water bottles for carrying away the water?” Cringing, she kneels down and scoops up what water she can in one hand, when she is distracted by a couple of kids splashing upstream “Dre – Dingleberries! I didn’t think to check up-stream for contamination, either.

Then she notices what the kids are carrying just as she feels the water trickling through her fingers, and somehow it all seems to trigger something. For a moment it feels like the world is rushing in on her from all sides. When she catches her balance again, the whole situation finally feels real.

C’mon, I may be ‘Addison the least,’ but at least I’m an Addison,” she coaches herself quietly, not without substantial wryness in her voice. “There are people you can help, a situation you can make better, and most of all – there are standards to be met.

She switches to thinking, so as not to attract attention while she gets herself pulled together. “Food – I can probably eat whatever others have dropped, at worst—that can wait. Water, I should drink my fill while I’m hear so that I don’t have to worry about it for a while. The group, well, I’m sure stuff is happening, but hopefully things won’t get too serious just yet, although whatever those kids found might start bringing about ‘might makes right’ pretty quickly. Too bad I didn’t take fencing instead of Judo – but nah, then I would never have met Eric. If they found something, there could be more – kids that age are probably too excited by having found a prize to think to search more, I could go do that before everyone else comes clomping around.

She quickly finishes drinking, splashes some water on her face, hair, and arms to keep herself cooler, then heads off in the direction that the kids seemed to have come from. She has no idea of how she would track them, but she slows down and looks around, including behind rocks and trees. “Give it half an hour – my link should be good for setting an alarm, at least, then I’d best head back. And pay attention to where I’m going, no good getting separated from the group!

[ Spoiler ]
Raf had spent the whole day concealed high up in a tree. The scraggly pine needles smelled wonderful, but stabbed at him relentlessly through the vending-machine flats in which he'd awakened here.

He'd been one of the first to open their eyes, there on the rocky ground surrounded by other youth in the same disposable attire. He'd seen the crate and stuffed his pockets with a few packets of rations, doing a quick headcount and inventory to ensure he didn't take more than his fair share. Then he'd retreated to the hide he now occupied. Personality evaluations, a SWOT assessment, there had been a lot to think about. He'd been thinking all day. And watching.

Once he was settled with an immediate supply of food and a modicum and concealment and shelter - and only then - did he allow his mind to contemplate the surreal enormity of his current situation. He quickly noticed the first signs of panic and defused them as he'd been taught - through rigorous logical analysis.

Dichotomies - his favorite reductive tool.

He was either dreaming or he wasn't.

If he was dreaming, then the best course was to use the unprecedented realism of the night-vision as an opportunity to role-play an outstanding performance. And if he was dreaming, the outcome was irrelevant to his reality. As such, his focus must be on the other possibility.

For if he was not dreaming, then his very survival depended on each decision made and action taken. Unable to empirically determine which it was, and with one option consequence-free and the other a mortal crisis, logic dictated he treat the current situation as real.

That determination took him about five seconds, and after that he remained very calm.

He observed the others. There was a wide gamut of social and cultural backgrounds, a fairly wide age range - all appeared to be post-pubescent but pre-adult, but given the pace of human development in the teen years, that meant a broad range of physical and mental capacities. He noted under Weaknesses on his mental SWOT diagram that he was among the youngest and smallest. He then added the high likelihood of being underestimated under Strengths.

He knew he could not stay in the tree forever. While prudent for now, the right choice superseded the most efficient (although he was still young enough to believe the two were always one and the same). As such, there would be others that needed his assistance. Indeed, there were not a few instances when he was about to jump down from his perch to intercede on behalf of some hapless girl or another, but so far someone of honor and manners had always been closer, and he noted them carefully, though mindful their motives might not be pure.

For now, however, he could be of little help to anyone without a more thorough understanding of the imperatives at hand. And so he watched and considered.

He checked the azimuth of the sun as best he could without a true north-south reference. The moon was not presently visible. The flora and terrain most suggested North America or Central Asia, and he wished his botany was good enough to determine which. He would investigate more carefully as he created opportunity.

He tried to find some commonality among the other youth, but aside from the limited age range, he found nothing but a predominance of individuals with at least a working knowledge of English. But that meant little given the language's global predominance.

Most of all, still operating under the assumption that this was a real experience, he considered what had happened.

Per his training, he dismissed no thought no matter how unlikely without thorough examination.

He decided that this was something that was done to them. It was no accident. There was design in it, as evidenced by the commonality of the attire, and the provision of supplies. The means of accomplishing it may have been mundane or magical, but this was no spontaneous Sixth World phenomenon.

Based on that premise, he realized that whoever had done this was possessed of Triple A-level resources. Even if their number were comprised of homeless and forgotten unfortunates, as many seemed to be, the logistics of transporting them from so many different locations (as evidenced by the polyglot) to this one remote spot, and all with no knowledge of how they came to be here (easily observed through the amalgam of reactions and interchanges), was staggering. Add to that the fact that they were not, in fact, all forgotten street urchins, but clearly included a good proportion of apparently well nourished and educated young people certain to be at least reasonably well protected, if not blanketed in layers of personal security as he himself had been, and the undertaking was truly mammoth.

As such, whatever had been done was not only carried out by a party of tremendous resources, but also was of some comparable value to said party. Unfortunately, both corporate and individual motivations were myriad, and the fact of value to one party was not always recognizable as such to another. Determination of motive, therefore, would have to await further data.

But whoever had done this wanted them here, and wanted them alive, at least for a while.

But almost certainly not indefinitely. This was an inescapable conclusion. Whatever they were here for, it was either intended that some eventually survive, and thus inevitably return to their normal lives, or not. As any return of any of the non-indigent youth would be a legal and/or reputational threat to the perpetrators of this event, it should be assumed that none were intended to ultimately survive.

And on the topic of surviving, the sun was finally weakening but had left him hot through the day. He needed water. The stream he'd spied nearby was - of course - where many had congregated. It would now be necessary to interact.

An older Japanese girl with scar tissue on her face had demonstrated both leadership, personal skill, and, most important, a concern for the weak. She had just had a conversation with one of the gentlemen - a tattooed ork of some stature - who had earlier saved him a trip down from his tree. Not wanting any wasteful conflict with those that might mistake his small stature for weakness, he thought the vicinity of their camp would be the best place to approach the stream, and he made his way to the water, head up, stride purposeful, but making eye contact with no one yet.
Maya heads off to where the new crate is being pawed over, hoping to get some food for the small band of people that she is helping. The large Ork follows, but she is not sure if he is coming for himself or because she asked. She pretty much assumes the former since she has never really been a whiz at getting people to do as she asks. It is quite likely that those in her camp are doing what she asks because they are still in shock and no one else has raised his or hand to be the leader. She expects that to change within a couple of days as things settle down.

As Maya and the Ork move through the crowd, she begins to hear the usual comments about her face. In some cultures, being scarred by a huge tiger and living to tell about it would be considered heroic, and she has found that to be the case when she is among indigenous peoples in some jungle or desert, but in civilization, such scars only mean that she is coyote ugly. And yes, she knows what the term of the very few boys to bed her told her exactly what it means in the morning as he was dressing. Actually, it had been the last boy to bed her. as she was not willing to go through that humiliation again just for someone else's amusement.

She rather imagines that she would still be standing on the outside of the crowd looking at everyone's back except for the Ork, whose mere presence seems to open a passage for them. Once at the crate she looks about, hoping that some bit of the foodstuffs could be parceled out to her for her band.
Digital Heroin
Day Zero - Evening - Unable to Establish Location
Personality: Blank

Where he is is a secondary concern. His first priority upon regaining consciousness is to conduct a self-analysis for injury. He remains still for two whole minutes without the aid of his bio-engineered tremor reducer. To trigger the flood of glycene and gamma-aminobutyric acid to his metabotropic and ionotropic nerve receptors could cause an adverse reaction should he be as damaged physically as his last moments of consciousness lead him to suspect. By the same token he does not want to trigger the chemicals that will allow nocioception as relaxing his pain editor may do the same. It also might lead him to go into shock, should he be hurt to the point where the pain overwhelms him. While pain can be educational in the immediate moment, he has been conditioned to first assess based on other factors. Factors like the sound of his own heartbeat, or of various other fluid transfer functions. Thanks to his enhanced hearing and a good deal of time spent in sensory deprivation being conditioned to understand his own body, he is able to deduce that things seem to be functioning well. This is an anomaly that takes a few moments to process. He is in unfamiliar territory, has been stripped of his clothing and various elements of high school life, and he has been given time to heal. Without intervention weeks will have passed. A medically induced coma would explain the loss of memory.

Directives swim up from the depths of his mind when he has established that he is not in immediate physical harm. He eases off on the pain editor in order to better take in his surroundings, and as he processes his directives he stands.

Survive. Establish communications. Report his failure.

Three edicts drilled into him by his handler should he find himself off mission, and in unknown territory. This has never happened to Blank before. He has always had his cover personalities removed in a de-briefing room. In two years of field operations he has never failed on such a level before. He remains calm, however. He has not been left without training for such a moment as this. He conducts a field analysis of the area, and only then does he take conscious notice of the fact he is not alone. Vague memories of the men who trained him explaining life in prison come to mind. Rules to be followed when in such a situation. The men who trained him had a code. They spoke of the return to old blood ties. He did not fully understand. The rules he does understand, however, he does not think apply so much here. There are no thieves in law here. Simply children. Scared children. The fact they show fear betrays them. He will show no emotion.

He does not mingle with the other kids at first. The fact that he is larger than even most of the orcs around is enough that they give him a large wake. He simply walks a perimeter around the site where they seem to have all been deposited. His pace his measured and tireless. He knows well that he can survive without water for days and weeks without food. Shelter will become more pressing should the night grow cooler than it is now. In such a case as this he will seek a natural cavern. He walks the perimeter and he studies, both his surroundings and his fellow displaced souls. For the first few hours he simply watches the groups form, and the industrious among them scramble to build a new society. To remain static is to resign oneself to the situation. It serves the institution that brought them here. He will serve no master save the organization.

After several hours he sees what appears to be a large gathering forming. A bounty has been found. Resources no doubt to be squandered by children.

Blank moves with purpose. Not rapidly, but directly toward the gathering. He runs a target analysis as he approaches, and maximizes his vectors to keep the bulk of the group handling the crate between himself and scarred girl and her ork associate who have yet to descend upon the scene. Blank knows well that he looks older than his years. He knows it is the product of his maker doing something to age him rapidly. This is no doubt lost on the others. He approaches the boys with the crate, and waits for them to spot his looming shadow. He takes a moment to lean down and pick up a rather large rock before he issues a command in a deadpan calm.


One simple word. A warning. He is not here to harm the weak, but they will broker no remorse from him either.

[ Spoiler ]

The sudden silence is a little uncomfortable until a laughing voice cuts through the group…another orc, but this one is smaller than some of his kin…he has wild hair and dark intense eyes and you realise he has made himself the centre of this particular group…probably the largest that has formed so far. Difficult to peg his upbringing but you suspect it wasn’t in a comfortable corp existence

“So, ken, you talk well! Cummere, I’ll let you talk for me!”


The young girl, and that’s saying something, looks up at you and smiles…it’s almost radiant and you congratulate on your good sense to team up with her…nobody would want to hurt anyone this innocent, right?

“Hi, I’m Aria, what’s your name?”


@Maya & Raf

The kids with the crate are exulting in their find, especially once they discover that there are indeed tools inside, although no foodstuffs… the hulking figure that looms over them threateningly causes them to drop the crate, its contents spilling across the rocky ground… a couple of utility knives, a saw, mallet…


As anticipated the pair drop the crate and back away, dismayed to see their booty spread across the ground but clearly not ready to confront someone like yourself…


@ Addie

There! You knew if you persevered you’d find something! The crate is small, more of a box, and judging by the markings on the side it contains medical supplies! Before you can lunge for it however you hear a sound that chills you to the core… the distinctive rattle and hiss of some sort of rock viper…!
"Hey... wanna team up? I need to get back home. I have an idea how but its a bit complicated and I need a partner to help sort it out." Vincent boldly said. One older kid looked at him. "What? Do you even know where you are?" Vincent sighed. "I didn't say it was a perfect plan but if attempts aren't made we lose."
Raf was thirsty. And he was two steps from the stream. But it would have to wait.

Practical considerations - and there were many - aside, this could not stand.

The offender was quite large, easily the largest of their number. His presentation was deliberately menacing.

A confrontation could mean death. Or injury, which in the current circumstance was merely a slower version of the former.

But that could not be allowed to matter. Someone had to step up first, and immediately.

He jogged up toward the big boy's flank. The fellow was head and shoulders taller.

"Hullo!" He presented himself, pausing to make sure he was seen, that he had the big one's attention. His hands hung unthreateningly at his sides, free. His weight looked evenly distributed, casual. But while it was indeed centered, the distribution to his thin legs was a good five-to-one in favor of the left. He then offered conversationally, "Not sure precisely what you're after, my friend, but whatever it is, you'll get more of it by winning allies than making enemies."
QUOTE (Aria @ Jun 14 2016, 04:16 PM) *
@ Addie
Before you can lunge for it however you hear a sound that chills you to the core… the distinctive rattle and hiss of some sort of rock viper…!

Addie starts the thought about how rattlers don't really want to bite you and how snakes are more afraid of being hurt by humans than wanting to hurt them and how she just needs to locate it, then slowly move away, making sure not to startle it. She can almost see the whole train of thought, and its calm, rational, outcome.

She has time to start the thought -- but no more than that before her boosted reflexes have her leaping toward the nearest bare rock, some primal part of her screaming at her not to let it sneak up on her through the grass or bushes.

Mid-leap she realizes that the snake is on the rock. Some detached part of her realizes that of course it is - it is sunning itself there. But most of her focus is on grabbing the snake by the throat before its massive, venom dripping, fangs can sink deep into her throat, leaving her to perish all alone in this blasted wilderness.
Digital Heroin
As the two boys make a wise a make a wise retreat, Blank takes a moment to soak in the situation. With the simple demonstration of intent most of the kids seem wary to approach him. More so than they were before. The crate is dropped and its contents have been strewn about. He takes a moment to assess the contents of the box, with priority for anything that can be used as a weapon. Armament is key to survival. Anything else he can obtain after. He does not need the armament, in truth, but it cannot hurt.

With his assessment made, Blank kneels down to retrieve whatever is worth taking from the crate. As he starts to salvage items he hears the footfalls of a small form jogging his way. When the kid who approaches comes close, Blank lifts a hand without looking and points at him. A sign to stop while he is still not considered a threat.

If the words register, Blank does not show it. Instead, he finished his salvage, and stands slowly. He turns to regard the smaller boy, taking an assessment of him. Only then does he speak with measured words.

As the two boys make a wise a make a wise retreat, Blank takes a moment to soak in the situation. With the simple demonstration of intent most of the kids seem wary to approach him. More so than they were before. The crate is dropped and its contents have been strewn about. He takes a moment to assess the contents of the box, with priority for anything that can be used as a weapon. Armament is key to survival. Anything else he can obtain after. He does not need the armament, in truth, but it cannot hurt.

With his assessment made, Blank kneels down to retrieve whatever is worth taking from the crate. As he starts to salvage items he hears the footfalls of a small form jogging his way. When the kid who approaches comes close, Blank lifts a hand without looking and points at him. A sign to stop while he is still not considered a threat.

If the words register, Blank does not show it. Instead, he finished his salvage, and stands slowly. He turns to regard the smaller boy, taking an assessment of him. Only then does he speak with measured words.

`You are no threat.`

He turns to clear some distance from the crate, and to let the others pick at the bones of it.
Dana awakes in a strange unfamiliar world, her modest clothes turn into rugs.

"Someone undressed me... where am I?"

Primal fear takes over as she understands that she is out doors, Alone, surrounded by SINless scum. Looking around her she spots a bunch of crates, but then her attention is taken by two jerks that try to get their way with a girl. She is looking with curiosity as some dumb ork plays the knight on a shining armor. Some people look for food or shelter but Maya is looking for a book.

"My Sidur... I always carry it with me... where is it?"

Dana is too shy to speak in a crowd especially in front of boys...

" I am lucky I was not triggered, I could have killed them all. You should not do these things to a person like me."
She looks at some of the boys pathetically trying to build a shelter... "I'll just manipulate the earth to shelter me, why waste hours struggling." She thinks.

Seeking a remote location by the stream Dana begins praying in fluent Hebrew.
שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל: ה' אֱלוהֵינוּ, ה' אֶחָד.

Shma Israel seemed like the appropriate prayer for this hour. Although, Dana knows it by heart but still feels bad for not having her Sidur with her.
At the emergence of the ork that seemed to be asserting leadership of the group, Lindsey quickly averts her eyes deferentially. As she crosses the open space around the crates to stand in front of him she can feel the eyes of everyone following her. "Well, no hiding in anonymity this time..."

(Or'zet) "Not much to talk. Only so much food here and not much else," she motions at the scree extending into the distance. Nodding her head at the older boy that brought up the idea, "the ujnort wants to make like yerz'eth from what's left. Be good to go along, for now. You already ate more than most."

"Yeah, sure, we're good for now. Tell the kart we're done here." No sooner had he spoken than he turned and strode away, the other orcs trailing behind him. Lindsey turns back to the other group of kids and shrugs her shoulders, "So yeah, they're okay with the plan now, they just didn't know what the plan was. You guys should give *people* the benefit of the doubt. We're all in the same mess here, right?" Meeting eyes with a few of the kids who seemed to be most belligerent a few moments ago, she waited till they all nodded before turning and hurrying after the orks. "Yay me, hero of the day. Keeping the peace and all that. Blah, blah, blah. Wonder how long it takes the angry ones to decide the orks aren't actually 'people'? That should be fun." Smiling to herself as she catches back up with the ork group, she plays tail-end-Charlie as the lead one strides purposefully towards the trees. Scrunching up her face as they walk, she peers around purposefully to see if any of her 'friends' from back home had made the trip with her. She knows, now, that they aren't really people, but for so many of her formative years they were her only companions, so she still has trouble thinking of them as anything else. Shortly she does catch sight of one she knows as a wave of tiredness sweeps over her. And speaking of, he seems to look tired as well, or maybe washed out? After acknowledging him she unscrews her face and excitedly thinks to him, "Hoi, so glad I'm not alone here! Do you have any idea what's going on? Where are we?!"

[ Spoiler ]
Maya waits for the large man to leave before stepping up to look at what he has left behind. Most of the others had left when told there was no food or weapons in the crate, but Maya can barely believe her luck to find a small saw, a utility knife, a small folding shovel, and a mallet. These tools will prove invaluable to making the best of a bad situation. For some reason, the vary large Ork is still standing over her, even after the rest of his fellow had left. Surprised a bit, she stands and moves a short distance away so as to let others pick through the crate. She again holds out her hand. "We were interrupted earlier. My name is Maya. What is yours? You speak English, but would you prefer a different language?"
QUOTE (Betx @ Jun 14 2016, 10:44 PM) *
.... But most of her focus is on grabbing the snake by the throat before its massive, venom dripping, fangs can sink deep into her throat, leaving her to perish all alone in this blasted wilderness.

The snake is slower than she expects -- or maybe she is faster than she expects, since she's still getting used to the effect of the Boosted Reflexes--but she catches it before it strikes.

A moment of triumph is followed by a wave of horror as she realizes that she has basically trapped herself into holding a thrashing SNAKE until one them falls unconscious. Which makes what follows not so much of a decision as a reflex. She already has her hands wrapped around the snake, so it takes only an odd mental effort -- a little bit like trying to twitch just your little finger -- to trigger her electro-accumulators. She unleashes a full strength blast into the captive reptile.

The resulting jerk loosens her grip on the snake, but terror lends her the speed to re-grab the scaly horror before it can move away. She turns her lunge to recapture the snake into a roll, and does two complete revolutions as she rolls down a slope before her hip slams into a rock and stops her. Fortunately she is above the snake and she promptly pins it hard against the ground. The snake is still twitching, but weakly enough that she manages to think -- "it is still an animal, it still has to breath, keep constricting its 'neck' eventually the thing has to fall unconscious." She presses down with all her weight -- "and take THAT Mom for all the snide comments that maybe I should diet harder" -- until eventually the snake stops moving. She holds on for a while longer in case it is playing possum, then finally lets it go, scrambles for a nearby rock, and slams the stone repeatedly onto the thing's skull until it is clearly dead.

Even then she tosses it up onto the rocks where it will be easy to see if it moves, before she grabs the box of medicines.

Only then does she give in to her desire to curl up in a ball--around the box-- and sob as shock and terror have their way.

[ Spoiler ]


It only takes her a few minutes to compose herself. She is an Addison after all, and 'can't let feelings run rampant over her life.'

She makes her way back to the stream, where she cleans the dirt from her face and hands, then takes another long drink, after which she feels at least somewhat composed. Her very basic first aid training takes hold, and she inspects herself for any actual injuries beyond the bruises she somehow picked up in the whole affair. She seems to be intact, but her clothing less so. Most of it is dirty, and she's ripped out both knees of the cheap clothing, along with a seam coming apart on her right shoulder and an abraded area on her left hip that looks like it might give away soon.

She fingers the fabric, except it almost feels more like paper. She's had gowns that felt like this on some of her many hospital visits growing up, but she didn't know anybody made clothes out of stuff this cheap. It has no stretch to it, and it isn't well shaped to her figure -- no wonder it started to fall apart as soon as soon as she was active in it. If she'd had any doubt that this was real, the clothing settles it -- she can't imagine dreaming up something so shoddy.

Well, nothing much to be done about the state of her clothing, and she realizes that the sun is soon to go behind the hills. Mountains? Whatever they are, it will soon be terrifyingly dark, and no doubt there is still no organization happening at the main camp area. She hoists the box of medicine, then hesitates. She really doesn't want to go near that snake again, but it was a rattler, and she had killed it, and that has to be worth some points with those impressed by such things. And most of it should be edible.

Those rations aren't going to last forever.

Not without a shudder she backtracks and gingerly picks up the snake by its tail, rather shocked by how small it seems now, not the monster that it had seemed when she was fighting it. She carefully drapes it on the box, and the box awkwardly held so that the snake doesn't touch her, she makes her way back toward the 'camp.'


She hadn't managed to take a straight route back to the camp, and might have wandered longer if not for the the noise from the other kids. By the time she is walking through the fringes of the group her bruises are making themselves known and her back is feeling the strain of the awkward way she is holding the box.

Which is to say that her patience was about done for. Realizing that a lot of eyes have started following her, she thinks "Why not -- I'm making a bit of a spectacle, and no doubt everyone could use a distraction. Might as well make the most of it."

She places the box of medicine on the ground, puts one foot on it, and announces "I found some medicine. If anyone has decent first aid or medical training, come impress me and I'll hand it over to your care. Until then I'll hold on to it. This stuff could mean life or death for anyone of you --" She stares around defiantly at the other kids before continuing " -- so no messing around with it. We've got no Doc Wagon, no run to Stuffer Shack for more supplies, no Mommy and Daddy to kiss it all better. This little box is what we've got. If we are ALL getting out of here, we can't afford to waste vital supplies."

Noticing a trio of orcs who had watched her walk in, but whose attention started wandering when she started speaking in english, she ransacks her memory and manages to come up with the Orzet word for bandages "Liktit!" she calls out to them them, gesturing at the box. She thinks "Not all that coherent, but sometimes making an effort is half the battle."

Feeling the attention of the rest of the kids starting to slip away, she looks around again, and uses her best public speaking voice to announce "Also -- I killed a rattlesnake. So be careful if you are roaming around out there -- no doubt there are more, and there may not be a lot we can do if anyone gets bit. Aside from that, has anyone got a fire started yet -- if anyone is brave enough to eat some rattlesnake, I'm willing to try cooking it up and sharing it out. Frag it, if we don't have a fire and you are brave enough to take a bite of raw snake, come and get it."

She felt proud of that last twist. It was a cheap trick, but it could help some of the kids feel braver, which was probably needed. It gave her something of 'value' to share beside the medicine, which should make her look less greedy. And it would help ensure that the snake was crisped up and devoured so that hopefully she could stop feeling like it was about to spring back to life and get her.

"And finally, while I have your attention -- the sun is almost down. If you've never been out in the country at night it is about to get really dark. You need to void yourself? Go do it now--just not in the creek, that is our drinking water right now. Got anything else to do? Go do it now. Once it gets dark, if you hear someone in trouble but you can't see your hand in front of your face, don't go running off and get yourself hurt too."

"Once the sun IS down, any other girls want to join me over there --" pointing as a spot that at least is somewhat flat and not too rocky "--that might be a good idea. Sorry boys, you can make your own clump tonight."
Feeling the attention of the rest of the kids starting to slip away, she looks around again, and uses her best public speaking voice to announce "Also -- I killed a rattlesnake. So be careful if you are roaming around out there -- no doubt there are more, and there may not be a lot we can do if anyone gets bit. Aside from that, has anyone got a fire started yet -- if anyone is brave enough to eat some rattlesnake, I'm willing to try cooking it up and sharing it out. Frag it, if we don't have a fire and you are brave enough to take a bite of raw snake, come and get it."

Dana finishes praying and then looks around her, she notice a lady holding a rattle snake, she seems indifferent about snake but impressed about the reflexes. Starting a conversation is difficult for her, and Dana could feel her hair reddens - but she wants to at least try and find someone. She can relate too, at least know someone that has a potential to keep alive for a few days. The girl holding the snake and endlessly speaking seems like she is going to survive long enough so that it worth remembering her name. Dana approaches her and say:

"Nice reflexes, can you fight? I'd need someone to train with if we are to stay here. I am Dana by the way."
As the scarred girl helped herself to most of the rest of the tools, Rafferty watched the larger individual walk away. His face turned red. He had never been ignored like that before. By anyone. As the indignation welled up, he quickly composed himself. The stakes - his honor and his survival - were far too high to let pride be a factor.

In practical terms, discretion might indeed be the better part of valor. He'd already made the correct decision to assume everything happening was real. And that meant broken bones were real. The thief had height, weight, and reach. Moreover, he carried himself as someone accustomed to violence. Rafferty, on the other hand, had never struck a blow in anger. Never in his life. As his elevated heartbeat was reminding him now. For goodness sake, the nearness of real confrontation had sent his adrenal glands into overdrive.

But no, it wasn't pride, and it wasn't adrenaline. The fellow had taken both cutting tools, the most important in their situation, and the hardest to fabricate from scratch. He'd thus injured them all. And if they continued that descent into anarchy, now on the first day of whatever ordeal this was, then they were all dead anyway. The fellow was hopelessly outnumbered by those whom he'd injured. But it would take someone to step up first, even if that meant being killed first. It had to be done now, and it had to be done openly.

He spoke to no one in particular, but loudly enough for those around to hear him in the still mountain air. "That fellow's made off with both the blades. We'll all need those. I'm going to have another go at reasoning with him, and then I suppose take whatever other steps prove necessary. Anyone that cares to come along would be most welcome."

And with that he set off at a trot after the big fellow, not looking back to see if anyone followed him.

"Hold up there now, friend. You've got both blades, you see. I'll have one, if you don't mind. In fact I insist."
Digital Heroin
When he departs the immediate area of the discarded tool crate, Blank expects to be pursued. He has identified among the population gathered several potential aggressors, chief among them several orks. They are the ones he maintains tracking on as he moves to parallel the flow of water and to head upstream. Some distance between himself and the others will serve him well until such time as he can assess his needs. The water upstream will be untainted by the actions of those less accustomed to maintaining a clean supply. As he continues his path, however, the words of the boy who he had dismissed alights the genetically re-calibrated ossicles of his inner ear. Blank slows his pace and considers that he may have underestimated the smaller young man. He hears the attempt to rally a mob against him, which is valiant, but ultimately foolish. By the time Raf approaches, Blank has stopped at the edge of a small bend in the creek and is contemplating his reflection in the water.

When he is addressed, Blank remains quiet for a few lingering moments. He weighs the words against his directives. Survival does not have to be a solo affair, but ultimately he cannot be responsible for others. To weigh himself down will impede his ability to make contact and ultimately report his failure to execute his last mark.

`Some of them will die, despite your efforts. If the two I scared off had taken the blades, bloodshed would have happened sooner. They are safe with me.`

His voice is dispassionate. Emotion is not a factor. A thief must not show his emotions. For Blank this is easy. He has none.
Maya looks at the girl with the dead snake and walks to her. "Hello, my name is Maya. I have some decent skills in first aid and could certainly make use of those supplies. I agree that they are important to all of us and would not want to see them fought over. I am with several others just over there and we have some crude shelters set up already. Would you like to bring the crate and stay with us? And the snake, I can probably cook it up and see how many can share from it. May I have it?"

She returns to the camp, hopefully with the large Ork and the new girl still with her. She greets the people of her small band in several languages as some speak English, some French, two are German, and another two are Chinese. She hands the shovel to the young French kids and points to a place a number of feet from the lean-tos. "Please dig a trench there. It will need to be about a foot deep and several feet long." She turns to the rest and says, "They are going to dig us a place to use as a bathroom. It will be important that you use this trench and not just anywhere you want. We need to keep as sanitary as possible. Now who wants to watch as I start a fire? We will need that as well if we are to survive long."

Maya takes two sticks she has found earlier and set aside for the purpose. Taking some of the twine she has saved, she makes a small bow and sets it to the side. Gathering some moss and dried twigs that she had some of the group gather, she makes a small mound in the center of a ring of stones. Using the small bow and the second stick, she soon has a small fire going in the moss and twigs and feeds it with larger twigs and then sticks and a couple of logs. Soon the fire is going well and she starts skinning the snake with the utility knife, cutting it up into small strips which she spears with sticks and has people hold over the fire to cook, showing them how and letting them feel empowered. The fire draws attention, as it was meant to do, and soon there are others milling about. Maya stands and calls out, "Welcome, but beware. These people worked hard to get this set up and we will have nothing to do with those who would just sit back and use it without contributing. I ask that everyone who wants to join us to share the bounty of what you might have found or have with you. There are many mouths to feed and hoarding is not the way to survive." She notices several tough looking humans and a couple of Orks standing off to one side muttering to themselves. "I know that all of you have seen the scars on my face. Well, a few years ago, I was almost lunch for a very large tiger. Sure he marked me, and good. The face scars are just the beginning. But before anyone jumps up and tries to take advantage of us, please ask yourself this, what happened to the fragging tiger? I just hope no one here wants to be the tiger and end up as my lunch, like he did."

"Now, on a happier note, I do have some first aid training and some medical supplies. If anyone is injured, please come see me and I will try to treat you. Please realize that there is only so much medicine and I have to reserve most of it for serious injuries, so do not be too disappointed if I treat you without the meds." As hoped, the size of her small band almost doubles as others want to share the warmth and seem willing to contribute to the limited food stores. Maya is already planning on what to do for some snares, but that will take a small walkabout in the light of day to find the small game trails. Several kids show up with scrapes and cuts, but nothing more serious, and she passes out a few Band-Aids and some advice. She notes with pleasure that it does not take many reminders to get the people using the latrine and she sends some off in groups of three or four to get something to drink at the stream nearby, making sure that they are warned of the possible presence of snakes. Soon she is telling stories around the fire of some of the places she has been, entertaining as best she can before asking if others know stories and letting them help.
Dana looks at all the commotion add thinks - "Mundanes have odd ways of starting a fire..." She thinks at the noble attempt to get a fire started, and of the hint of actually doing a physical labor just to move some earth around. Everything seems so hard when you actually have to do it with muscle power. Should she instantly start a fire or build us some decent shelter with a spell - she'll be outed as a mage, and marked as a threat.
She tells Maya "What is this obsession about survival? We were brought here randomly, and whomever brought us here could have just killed us and the logistics would have been a lot simpler. They brought medical supplies food and a fresh water source. They clearly intended us to survive at least the first days. I'd be more concerned as to why we are here - who benefits from it and how are we monitored. Perhaps we were recruited to some reality tv?"

Then Dana closed her eyes and focused on her magical senses trying to figure out if there are spirits, active spells or foci nearby:
[ Spoiler ]
Maya looks at the girl who spoke to her. "Hello. My name is Maya, what is yours? I do not agree with you in your thought that whoever put us here will swoop in soon and save us. Think of it this way; if I am right then this is a means of allowing more of us to survive from day to day, and if you are right then I have at least found something to occupy people with instead of arguing and fighting. Either way, this is a win win so why not join us? You are welcome here as long as you are willing to contribute something...............skills, muscles, willing hands, anything that will help the rest of us to survive as a unit, a sort of community. What do you think?"
@Maya, Addie & Raf

The large orc scrutinises Maya and your efforts to make camp and then growls low in his chest
“I’m not interested in being friends…I’m worried about the you and them that is going on…” and he gestures back towards the larger group of kids still out on the bluff where you all appeared.

There is a distinct polarisation happening, with two principal groups forming. The larger, probably mostly SINless or urban poor, is around forty now, gathered round their own fire that is being whipped by an increasingly strong wind. The focus is on the orc with the wild hair and burning gaze who you have discovered by now goes by Rick

Your group by contrast is around fifteen strong now, corpers and more well to do individuals, huddled in your makeshift shelters around the considerably smaller fire. That still leaves a few stragglers who don’t seem to want to commit to either of the establishing faction.

“We don’t know shit about what we are doing here, what’s going on…we need to work together…and they aren’t going to work for you…can you swallow pride and follow him?”


As you stretch your senses out you realise that your normal clarity is missing, hampered by the miasma that fills this place, never the less, you do detect a couple of manifest spirits and hints at magic in the area, but nothing that really explains what is happening…



The spirit is unusually slow in responding to you, something about this place that is sapping you is also clearly having an effect on it. The amorphous being shrugs, and shakes its head but then settles in for a ride on your shoulder, snuggling in against you…

Around the fire a raucous and colourful song breaks out as the kids begin to both relax and also become increasingly wary of the dark that is beginning to press in on you. Not far off another fire flickers in the wind with a smaller group of children silouhetted against it…


Aria looks up at you and smiles again “Team up? I guess so, but we should all be one big team shouldn’t we? Brrrr, it’s getting cold, I’m going to get by the fire, you coming?”



A careful distance separates you from the others…assessing the situation hasn’t revealed any more information about the whys and wherefores of your current situation, but perhaps a new assessment in the morning will reveal more…

Concerned by her friends unusual reticence, Lindsey scans the area again as they walk, still no wiser about the situation. Reaching the trees, the 'smaller' ork, who Lindsey gathered from conversation was named Rick, orders the others to gather twigs and branches in order to make a fire. Her stature, or lack thereof, not being of much help, she wanders a bit through the treeline, watching the interactions of the other kids. Seeing another girl emerge from the trees and return to the main camp with what looks like a smaller crate than the others, she stops to watch. Laughing as the girl postures on top of the crate, she starts to pay more attention when she reveals that it contains medical supplies.

Once the little speech is done, Lindsey wanders back to the group of orks who are clustered back around Rick, excitedly telling him about the snake and the new box of supplies. They seem to have gotten the gist of what the girl was saying as they're complaining about the odd looking hummie taking off with the snake. Rick seems unconcerned and frowns at the others, "There's boxes of food down there and you're worried about a snake?! Go kill one yourself!" He thrusts out his arm to point deeper into the trees. Lindsey chimes in, "If they're happy with a dead snake and leave our food alone, that's good!" The other orcs stop talking and look at her while Rick appears to be thinking about something. Suddenly he shows a big toothy grin, "Yeah! There's plenty of *our* food still." He looks pointedly at Lindsey, her use of 'our' obviously not lost on him. "Get this wood back to camp before the ujnort do anything stupid." The rest of the orks quickly pick up the wood they'd gathered and set off to the larger camp where they get to work building a fire.
"Well yeah. But what happens at first is faction wars and I don't wanna be here for that." Vincent followed her to the fire. "The atmosphere here is... pretty erratic. I imagine the first step would be to identify the people of interest. We need 3 things. Someone with survival skills, makeshift weapons, and a shelter. Oh 4 things. We need a stealthy guy but I am pretty good at that stuff." He told Aria in a low whisper.
QUOTE (Mercy @ Jun 16 2016, 02:28 PM) *
Maya looks at the girl who spoke to her. "Hello. My name is Maya, what is yours? I do not agree with you in your thought that whoever put us here will swoop in soon and save us. Think of it this way; if I am right then this is a means of allowing more of us to survive from day to day, and if you are right then I have at least found something to occupy people with instead of arguing and fighting. Either way, this is a win win so why not join us? You are welcome here as long as you are willing to contribute something...............skills, muscles, willing hands, anything that will help the rest of us to survive as a unit, a sort of community. What do you think?"

Dana looks at Maya, as if memorizing her face. "My name is Dana, what happened to your face?" She bluntly ask. It probably takes Maya a moment to respond and in that moment Dana senses not one but two spirits in their vicinity. Surprised, Dana cuts Maya short and whispers "come Maya we need some answers." She grabs the girl's hand and carries her into the darkness, until she stops after about 20 meters, there is nothing physically present there but Dana can clearly sense a spirit. Addressing the darkness she says "Hello there, care to show yourself friend? I wanted to ask you a few questions - this place seems bad for your kind, why did you come here? "
"Hello, my name is Maya. I have some decent skills in first aid and could certainly make use of those supplies. I agree that they are important to all of us and would not want to see them fought over. I am with several others just over there and we have some crude shelters set up already. Would you like to bring the crate and stay with us? And the snake, I can probably cook it up and see how many can share from it. May I have it?"

Addie carefully keeps a straight face, while thinking "They would eat her alive in my high-school, being that earnest and straight-forward. Still, out here those might be good traits. I could do worse than to work with this one. And she's willing to take the snake away, I'll owe her for that!"

What she actually responds with is "Hi Maya, you can call me Addie. Sure, take a crack at snake cooking if you've got a fire. I don't want to hand these medical supplies over until I've had a chance to check out your first aid skills a bit more, but here and now may not be the place. You say your set-up is just over there? Why don't I pop over a while later for pizza, soda-pop and pedicures -- or maybe just snake, stream-water and some first-aid assessment." She gives a friendly smile to make it clear that she is joking with Maya, not at her.

Separating from Maya and her band, she starts circulating through the grouped up kids. One thing she has learned from helping teach newcomers at the dojo -- there is still a lot of power in exchanging names and a few words.
Seperating from Maya and her band, she starts circulating through the group. One thing she has learned from helping teach newcomers at the dojo -- there is stil a lot of power in exchanging names and a few words.

For the most part, the kids seem happy to have someone come up to them and act fairly normal. Perhaps it helps that she is still carting around the box of medicine, emphasizing that she has done something useful - part of the reason she hadn't given it up too easily. But mostly she thinks it is just that everyone is getting tired of being freaked out and confused, and is pretty happy to have someone come by and joke about how they are missing the urban brawl match/Horizon's Next Top Model/Agent Caine (depending on her guess at their interests), then check that they got some food and found the stream to get a drink.

Some seem to struggle with English, which is just aggravating. It is way harder to win friends and influence people when you can't communicate well. She keeps an eye out for whoever seems to be mostly translating for those ones, since it seems key to her to win over the translators, since they'll be putting their own spin on things.

A few groups give her unfriendly glares as she approaches, which she returns with patient smiles, a quick "How's it Going?" and plenty of personal space-- she's learned from babysitting that it is easier to win people to you than to force yourself on them.

Most importantly, she tries to make contact with the loners. She figures that they are most at risk -- of deprivation, of abuse, of whatever dangers there may be out here. She takes a little more time with them, trying to remember names and where they are from although she knows she won't keep all of it that together -- too bad she hadn't gotten that 'ware for that yet!

She tries to point the loners towards one group or another for the night, mostly nudging them toward Maya's fire since she's pretty sure the scar-faced girl won't take advantage of people in the near future, while she's less sure about the tough looking Orc who manages to organize a bonfire. If they won't go to a group, she tries to pair them up with other loners at least -- two are a lot better off than one.

As she circulates, she keeps an eye out for dropped food. She'd not gotten involved earlier on, and hunger is really getting to her. She knows that with her 'ware she can handle a little dirt, so picking up pieces of ration bars, dusting them off, and eating them doesn't really bother her. Nothing like when she was little and most food made her sick!

Two encounters really stood out. She almost missed the troll girl lying on her back in a dip in the ground. She thinks that was kind of the point, actually. Dot, for that was her name, assured her that nobody had tried to stop her from getting food, and she'd found the water, but that mostly she'd been watching the sky. Dot commented "I've never seen clouds like these, have you? They make me think of scarves doing a complicated dance. But they must be lonely clouds because there are no birds or bees to keep them company. Although the sun looks closer, so maybe that keeps the clouds company?"

It takes all Addie's hard won social skills to field that without looking shocked. That anyone could be in this situation and be so abstract was one shock, but that she herself hadn't really paid attention to any of that was another. She takes the time to see if the troll has any more observations, but doesn't get any that she can make a lot of sense out of. She does get the troll to agree that if anyone wants to spend the night next to her, they can. As Dot puts it "I like feeling more like a protector than a scary monster, and I tell great bedtime stories."

The other encounter is with an elf girl who approaches her. Addie's first assesment is that the other girl would be a heartbreaker if she didn't look so above the crowd. "Actually," Addie revised "I know a lot of boys who would be more smitten with her because she seemed so unreachable."
"Nice reflexes, can you fight? I'd need someone to train with if we are to stay here. I am Dana by the way."

"I'm Addie -- and I'm also totally jealous of your hair!" Compliments never hurt, Addie figured. "Well, I have some training in Jujitsu. I'm not a black belt or anything, but I'm getting pretty decent. I guess that probably helped me grab the snake --not totally different than grabbing a hand. Training together could be good -- I probably practice too much with other people at my dojo, good to get some other experience -- but once we get some time. Lot of work to be done to get this group to pull together for mutual support and all of that. The problem with a mob like this is getting it all to agree doing one thing not five different thing, but personally I think we can be stronger together than all split up."

Since Dana looked a bit skeptical, Addie changed topics "Do you know what happened to the tools? I saw some kids taking a box toward camp, but I wasn't here to see how they got divided up." Upon hearing how the one hulking boy had taken both blades, Addie's face hardened, and she muttered "Did he just. THAT doesn't seem like a very smart plan. I may need to talk to that one. And who was the smaller boy you said who tried to stand up to him?"
Dana mumbles "Thanks... it has a life of its own."She instantly jumps Addie in sub-dual without asking for permission. Her lighting reflexes means that it only takes a brief second before the ginger elf is lunging her body on top of Addie's. Life of training means that her movements are precise and are filled with grace. There are no second chances to make a first impression and appearing 'badass' might save Dana the need to actually use violence later, especially from the larger orcs.
[ Spoiler ]
QUOTE (Digital Heroin @ Jun 16 2016, 05:18 AM) *
`Some of them will die, despite your efforts. If the two I scared off had taken the blades, bloodshed would have happened sooner. They are safe with me.`

By the time Raf caught up with the big fellow he was well aware that no one had followed him. Well, he thought with grim humor, no one to witness me taking a beating.

But when the reptilian - why did he think of that word? - when his cold nemesis resorted to logical reasoning, Raf's heart took courage. Perhaps this could be handled in a civilized manner after all.

He quickly gleaned what he could from the fellow's words. Fatalism and pragmatism came through most clearly.

He must change his approach to fit those qualities.

"You're absolutely right about one thing. Whatever is happening here, I have also concluded that most if not all will likely perish. This did not just happen, it was done to us. If it was anything benign, we wouldn't have all been taken against our will, as seems to be the case. So whatever we are here for, whoever did it has no intention of letting us all just go home when it is over."

He paused to let his analysis sink in, and then took the huge risk of sitting on a nearby rock - this little chat could still go south quite easily, and sitting only enhanced his existing disadvantages. But no use hedging his bets - the only real win here would lie in establishing some sort of rapport with this fellow, so he was all in for that.

"I, however, do not have it in me to surrender. If survival is possible, I will do it. And the same seems clear about you. So you can understand that I need one of those knives. You can't possibly use both at the same time. You said yourself I am no threat. And I wouldn't like us to be enemies. I do understand your keeping to yourself for now - that's what I've been doing myself. Watch first, join later. But you're smart enough to know you'll eventually have to form some associations to optimize your chances of making it out of here. I'm a good place to start."

One last pause.

"And I'm not leaving without one of those knives."
Digital Heroin
While the little man who follows Blank does not present a physical threat, he seems determined not to leave until personally satisfied. This shows some form of mettle. It also presents itself with a possibility. This is someone with mettle, someone who does not fear possible reprisal when his course is set. Such a person can be a valuable asset. Blank has learned to cultivate such assets, both in his more formal training, and from stories told to him by the more criminal element among his handlers and instructors. The code he has been taught to follow pertains mostly to assassins, but it came from an elevated class of criminal, and they held prisoners among those under their care.

Teach the lifestyle to youth with potential. Cultivate contacts among the rank and file. These are tenants those men lived by. This is the opportunity presented to him.

`If I give you a blade, you owe me. Information. When I ask of it. No lies. Complete truth.`

This is the condition he presents, and the only chance Raf has of receiving the blade. No deception. Obedience in that realm. Of course it does not go two ways, as giving the blade as if it is one of only two that were in the crate will be a deception. Trust is not handed over as easily as a blade.
QUOTE (Gilga @ Jun 16 2016, 10:36 PM) *
She instantly jumps Addie in sub-dual without asking for permission. Her lighting reflexes means that it only takes a brief second before the ginger elf is lunging her body on top of Addie's.

Addie was not expecting that! She is slow to react , and suddenly finds herself in a nasty arm-lock. She goes for a reversal, but the hold isn't quite like anything she's met in class and the move she tries to break out ends up being singularly useless
After which it is easy enough for the elf to pin her to the dirt, but to Addie's immense relief she does nothing to cause additional pain.

Not that her pride, and any reputation she'd gained for toughness from the snake, didn't hurt badly enough. She has to bite down hard on a desire to cuss out the elf, but she manages to hold her tongue, and by the time Dana lets her up she manages something loosely resembling a smile and a bow.

Glancing down at the increasing disarray of the cheap clothing she mutters "One thing to keep in mind, this crappy clothing doesn't hold up well to a lot of action." Glancing around she adds "Can you make sure nobody else jumps me while I gather the medical supplies back into the box?"

As she walks towards Maya's camp, doing her best not to limp, she knows she should have done more to recruit that talented fighter to her side, but she just hadn't been ready to be that much of a good sport, at least not yet.


At the smaller camp she's happy enough to have a chewy bite of snake, and to hand over the medical supplies to let Maya show what she can do. Addie is impressed enough -- both at her obvious expertise and at had conservative usage of them that she affirms "You are the real deal all right. I'm glad to hand these over to you, Maya -- I just hope that people are willing to leave them in your capable hands."

When the orc shows up and makes his speech, ending
“We don’t know shit about what we are doing here, what’s going on…we need to work together…and they aren’t going to work for you…can you swallow pride and follow him?”

Addie finds herself nodding, and adds "Splitting up makes both groups weaker, and makes it likely that one attacks the other after a while. But I think decisions about that can wait until tomorrow."

After standing up, a little stiffly, she adds "Thank you for cooking up the snake, and all you've done to make survival more likely, Maya. I respect all of that a LOT. I'm going off to make sure nobody is completely on their own for tonight, but I'm sure we'll talk again tomorrow."

Although it has indeed been getting rapidly darker, there is still enough light in the sky that Addie's tetrachromatic vision picks details out well for her as she does a last walk-around. She manages to herd one sullen looking boy towards Maya's group, and when she surprises one boy and girl getting cuddly, their surprise at her sudden appearance helps persuade them to return to the group around Rick's fire.

Finally, as even her vision is failing in the growing dark, so finds the troll girl, Dot, quietly telling a story to two of the loner's, both boys, one human, one dwarf. Addie never quite made sense of the story, something to do with a land where everyone seemed to be some kind of adept or something like that, but the troll gives her a nod and Addie is happy enough to settle down with the small group. "So much for my plan of separate boy-girl sleeping areas" she thinks, but for now she is happy enough just to sit down and be near some other body warmth.

Once the story is done, Addie tells the other three "I don't sleep much. I hope not much will happen tonight, but I'll keep an ear out for trouble for now. Dot, Pierre" she addresses the two meta-humans "if I get worried about stuff, I might wake one of you up to take a look at the situation."
"If only I was designed a trog rather than a delicate elf - I would not need to establish my turf'" It is difficult to describe the emotion she is feeling - it has some pride and some frustration. Pride for how she pushed her body and embraced the way of a warrior and frustration for never being quite as strong as warrior orks or trolls. Being big and intimidating could mean that non of the boys tries to rape her like that poor girl.

Alas, Addie was clinched and if she regained her calmness - she could notice that Dana's hair color changed into a deeper shade of red. Dana felt satisfied with her skills and grateful for the opportunity to use them. She can hear the beast within, her internal sensei that whispers "Just kill her... " Dana ignores, the shark wants to hunt but he is just a voice. He does not have to live with himself otherwise. Dana has to be careful not to harm Addie - as she was genetically engineered to be lethal. A punch or a kick may be lethal but Dana is not after Blood, not now. Shortly after Addie notices that she is stuck and unable to break out Dana let her go with a smile.
"Don't worry Addie - I have your back... let me know if you find anything more modest to wear."

She nods back at Addie and watches her as she gather supplies with curiosity - as Dana feels the heal spell makes first aid uninteresting. "If I have no physical possessions there is nothing worth stealing from me. I could go light until I actually need something."

Dana finds herself alone as the night progresses and the darkness deepens, Dana ends up practicing her art by the stream. Her practicing seemed to catch the interest of a small group of children, but Dana did not speak to them and they did not approach her. About an hour or two later, Dana finished her training, she took a moment to admire the beautiful night sky before she stripped and entered the cold water. She was sweating due to practice and needed to clean. The water were very cold and felt like countless needles were simultaneously poking her skin. Yet Dana forced herself to remain inside and cleaned herself as much as she could. Including washing her hair. She did not seem to mind the lack of privacy - being clean seemed more urgent than being modest.

Wet and cold she decided to make her way to one of the fires - but where? The orcs were probably more survivable but how could they possibly accept her, they were SINless and she grew in wealth. Dana has never lacked a thing in her life, she was never worried about food or a place to sleep - just about training.
The other camp was smaller and the people there seemed less likely to hold their own in a fight. Still, they seemed more civilized. Their company felt more secure for her. Conflicted, Dana chose the little fire - where she felt she'd be more accepted. She went to the food crate and took a nutrition bar. Then she sat by the fire and attempted to figure out how to eat the darn thing. Needless to say she never ate any processed food before. Shivering a bit she watched the odd nutrition bar with curiosity and dred.
Maya nods at the large Ork. "I am not against forming one large group, but I would rather not be led by incompetence and stupidity and greed, all of which I have seen there. The leader, Rick, is hoarding some of the rations from the first crates and pretending to keep them for the use of everyone in his group. Sadly, there are not enough rations to go around among all of them there and soon he will be keeping them for an elite few and there will be a competition among the others to be in that group. This usually means the others become second class then third class citizens of the larger group and they are forced to do the majority of the work just for the crumbs provided them. The girls will be offered a chance to better their lot by having sex with Rick and his chosen few and there will be some who do that, while others will refuse for a time and be lumped as lower than the other third class citizens. That is his greed. His incompetence is reflected in his not being prepared for the cold night except for the large fire, which he cannot maintain with the wood he had gathered. It will burn out and leave the people with less warmth than they should have. The fire is far too large and dissipates its heat in too broad a circle. He could achieve the same effect with a smaller fire and conserve his wood supply. The fire is actually a sharing of his incompetence and his stupidity, in my opinion. The wind is blowing harder and there is a chance that it will push his fire away and into the underbrush, creating trouble for all of us. The shelters here are set up to divert the wind and hopefully prevent such an occurrence. The pile of dirt just there is meant to be used to put the fire out if it looks like it will become dangerous. I will go try to speak with them, although I think it will do no good. You say that you are not interested in being friends, but I think that you should be my friend. I think I will need you and that you will need me."

To Dana she says, "Four years ago a very large tiger tried to eat me. He left his marks on my face and much of the rest of my body, but it was I who prevailed. I think it was sheer determination on my part to not give up and die that made the difference."

To Addie she shows her skill with first aid and thanks her greatly when the other girl leaves the first aid kit with her.

Maya observes the activity at the other fire and shakes her head. She walks about her smaller camp and gives words of encouragement in as many languages as it takes to get the point across. She reminds everyone to use the latrine if they need to during the night then calls everyone closer to the small fire. "Please remember that we need each other to survive. That other fire is as loud and undisciplined as the leader of that camp is. I caution all of you that going over there to live is a mistake. That boy does not care for anyone else but himself and a small group of bullies he has granted some status to. I will not stop anyone from going there and I will take anyone back if you return. There is a place here for all of us, even Rick, but we will need cooperation, not tyranny, if we are to survive. I am going to go to that camp to try to get some of his people to join us, even though I do not expect much success." She motions to the boy that has been helping guard the camp and he comes over. "Roger here has agreed to act as temporary bailiff here, which means he is in charge of organizing a camp watch for the night. He will do so fairly, but all of us are eligible to pull watch, after all, it is for the good of all of us. I do not really expect trouble from Rick's camp as they still have enough food to not want what they think we might have. But I am worried about his fire getting out of control. And we do not know what sort of wildlife there may be out here. Rattlesnakes have been seen and there may be other creatures as well. Any questions?"

After answering the few that arise, Maya and the large Ork that refuses to be called her friend go up the small hill to where Rick is camped. The presence of her guardian is enough to get her close to where Rick is holding court. He derides her, saying, "Ahhh. The girl with the scars. Have you come to join our band? Not much use for you in the sack, though. Your face is too horrible to want to wake up next to. Perhaps a bag would help, though."

Maya waits for the laughter to die down, although much of it was forced and several of the kids present looked uncomfortable as he talked. She smiles, but the scars on her face turn it into a grimace. "No, Rick, I have come to ask for a few things. First, I am concerned that your fire is too big and will get away from you in the growing wind. My small shelters are out of the wind's path, but some of your group may be seriously injured if this fire gets free. Also, I am hoping that you might wish to join our groups? I am willing to share leadership, or indeed even give it up, as long as you agree to treat everyone fairly and with dignity and honor." While waiting for Rick to form an answer, Maya notices that several of the other kids are looking at her as if they did not understand a word. She calls out in several languages, hitting on French and Chinese as the most common other languages and repeats what she has said in those languages as well. Rick seems to get flustered and a bit angry. "Hey, don't be talking about me behind my back in that foreigner drek. What I have to say and how I say it is good enough for all of us." He gets a few "Right, Boss" and "You tell the ugly slot" from some of his crew, but most of the people just remain silent. Rick nods and motions to the ground in front of him. "I might, and I say might, consider such a thing if you were to get naked right now and let me and my friends slot you until we get tired of it."

Maya nods. "I do not trust you to keep your word or I might just do that, Rick." She addresses the rest of the group as she turns, "All of you are welcome to join our smaller group if you are willing to help and share and look out for the weaker among us. Please have a safe night." She and the Ork turn to leave, and she ignores Rick's catcalls as they make their way down the hill to the other camp. The Ork says, "My name is Grok. You have either been brave or foolish and I do not know which yet. Still, I think that your concerns about Rick and his followers are well founded. I will stay to help you if you like."

Maya smiles in the darkness. "Thank you very much, Grok. I do like."

They arrive back in the camp to find that Roger has organized a good watch and that people are getting settled in for the night. Maya shows others how to take the hot rocks from the edge of the fire to use to safely give some heat to the shelters and has new rocks placed around the small blaze. She notes with satisfaction that several people go off to use the slit trench before going to bed curled up next to others. It is only then that she can allow herself to wonder at what has happened. The odd sky and lack of animal sounds, even birds, is confusing and disconcerting. She does not know where she is and cannot see enough of the stars to get a fix on her location. She suspects sorcery of some kind but such things are completely beyond her knowledge. She might ask that Dana girl in the morning as she seemed to be able to see spirits near and so must have some access to the astral. Her short funk is disturbed by the arrival of six people, two from out in the wilds and four from Rick's camp who come seeking shelter. They are all tired and cold and she settles them into the shelters, thinking that more shelters can be built tomorrow. So many things to do, but she has already delegated authority to Roger for security and the two French kids for providing sanitary facilities, which will soon be a real necessity. She takes another look at Rick's flaring fire and shudders at what might happen if it gets out of control. Her camp is protected by the hill and the wind is blowing away from her, but being right does not help those kids who might be hurt if she is. With a troubled heart, Maya settles down into her shelter and tries to get some sleep.
@Smaller Camp

It is dark and chilly but could not really be said to be cold. When others are beginning to sleep fitfully, as best they can given the frightening surroundings and the hardness of the ground, two more figures approach the camp from Rick’s. Grok steps up but a harshly whispered “get the frag out of my way…I need to talk to tiger girl…” and he backs off to let Rick and a smaller boy through to your fire…

His voice when he speaks to Maya has lost the gruff orc tones…it is subtler, more menacing “So, you liked the little circus I put on for you back there? Dum trog act works a treat but make no mistake I’m not some stupid frag for you to look down your nose at, if you try to undermine me again I will have to do something about it and a confrontation isn’t going to benefit anyone at the moment! I can see you know what you are doing, so come and do that for me and we can all get along! As for the fire thing, I brought you a little present…Sim, do your thing” and the younger boy scrunches up his face and your camp fire flares just a little brighter and warmer, without apparently consuming the fuel any faster

“Like I said, I’m not stupid…the big fire is a symbol, and maybe, just maybe it will keep whatever predators are out there away for tonight at least! We’ve landed a banquet in their midst, I don’t plan on being in the first course, do you?”

@Larger Camp

The heat of the fire lulls you and it is just about possible to ignore the uncomfortable ground underneath you. It feels good to be huddled together against the winds blowing across the bluff and those that can hold a tune get a prime spot by the fire. At some point during the night one of the boys cries out and his neighbours wearily tell him to shut it, until his cries become a screech…when someone checks on him there is consternation…he is no longer breathing, a large bruise is spreading across his temple from a powerful blow to the head…first casualty!


It’s lonely out her, for those that feel such things…the night is spectacularly dark, the wind having blown in clouds that hide whatever stars might otherwise have been visible. You are pretty sure there are eyes out there, watching you…


For those that can estimate such things it is the early hours when the atmosphere changes and the first rumbles of thunder are heard across the mountains…the lightening that strikes, a considerable distance off, nevertheless rocks the air with its power. What is most frightening is the deep purple colour of the strike…
"SON OF A BITCH!" Vincent exclaimed nearly falling out of the tree. "Aria... Aria!?" Vincent couldn't remember whether or not she came with him. He looked at the sky and cursed his inabillity to assent. "I got nothing kid. Purple lightning is a bit much. Maybe find someone who can assent?" Vincent climbed down and went toward the camps. He had decided to shack up on his own for now. Biding his time until the opportunity presented itself. Also he didn't get along with normal kids to begin with... he ran out and went towards the smaller campfire. "Hey! Can anyone assent?"
Spirit incident:
As Dana approached the spirit it was gone... "I must appear crazy but there was something here - it does not want to talk to us or be observed by us tough.'" She appologize to Maya and then continue alone toward the other spirit, she follows it deep into the other camp, but Dana wants some answers.

"Hello spirit, would you be kind and answer a question for me ? Were you here when we arrived? Do you know how did it happen?"
She said with excitement as the second spirit did not flee as she approached.
(clearly this one is Lindsey's spirit)

Present by the fire:
Reluctantly, Dana places the nutrition bar in her mouth and starts chewing. The taste is 'not terrible' and she needs the calories. The feast is over soon enough and the beautiful elf with her now wet auburn hair looks around the fireplace for someone to snuggle with. Dana is pissed as the Orc king arrives and her hair turns ginger, she struggles with the temptation to just throw that arrogant prick into the fire. As he speaks to Maya tough Dana is uncertain whom of the two is the more reasonable one. She is grateful for the warmer fire tough.

There was little sleep that night, Dana did fell a sleep a little bit but in general adrenaline level were way to high for a good night sleep. She barely noticed the purple lighting, and is violently awoken as Vincent runs towards the camp asking for someone who can assense - Dana stiffens and moves uneasily, she hopes that Maya would keep her secret - as Dana can already picture. A crowd of trident holding orcs crying 'geek the mage' and blaming Dana for their every misfortune. While the tough of fighting so many of them excites her - she is still terrified of being publicly outed as a (sort of) mage .
"Lets see if I can trust you Tiger girl" she thinks.
Not really able to sleep, Maya is still awake when Rick and the other boy visit. She listens to him talk then calmly responds. "Hello and good evening to you, too, Rick. My name is Maya, by the way, in case you would like to use it in the future. And no, I did not enjoy your little circus. I do not know why you feel it is necessary to use your act like that. In the first place I would never use an insulting word like trog to describe anyone. In the second place, I do not look down my nose at you or feel particularly superior to you. We have different styles and I do not agree with yours. It is my personal opinion that you do not need to resort to sorcery, trickery, or threats to keep people in line. Treating them with dignity and respect will do the same and do it better, because people will want to follow you. I feel that you are used to using your size and your attitude to get by and get others to do your bidding. Do not get me wrong, I want to help you and am willing to work with you to help everyone here. I will not help a tyrant increase his power base or make it easier for one to rule more effectively, but I will help you if you can compromise a bit." She points to her face, where the partial light emphasizes her scars. "The tiger that scarred my face and body and took my eyes was not the largest, scariest, or most threatening animal I have faced, and neither are you. I did not go to see you to try to undermine your authority, you are doing well enough in that area by yourself, and threats do not sway me, but kindness does. I will certainly help you and the rest of the people out, and I will continue to offer a harbor to anyone who wants to be treated as equals and as partners in our survival. If you can see your way to working with me then maybe we can make this work. It is your choice, just as it is everyone else's choice." Maya point to the boy Rick had brought. "Sim, right? Well, if Sim can do that trick, he may have better ways to use his talents, and there are probably many of us here that can use their skills to help us survive."

"If you are willing, I propose a meeting tomorrow for all us. We can agree to work together and ask people to list their strengths and what they can do for us. We can organize instead of just being individuals. I am sure that there must be some that are good at setting snares for what game there is, others can weave grasses for shelters or sleeping mats, someone might be a carpenter and can show us the best way to use the wood and nails from the crates left for us. Others might have skills to explore the area and tell us if there is a better place to camp. We need to work together, Rick, not against each other. Is that something we can agree to? Will you work with me so we can combine our forces to make the best use of the talents we all have? I do not consider myself better than you or anyone else, I am just willing to let others buy into our survival and help us succeed."
Addie decided that while Dot may be strange, she wasn't foolish. The dip in the ground kept most of the wind off of them. Even so, sitting up and watching the goings on was leaving Addie pretty cold. It was frustrating to see figures leaving one camp or the other without being close enough to know what was going on -- her instincts were to get involved, to get people negotiating collective solutions, maybe to chastise the foolish and support the wise but mostly to help the overall group.

But it just wasn't the right time. Maya gave the impression that she knew everything better than everyone else, and Addie was pretty sure that while some kids would be attracted to that confidence that others would be repulsed by. Whether or not Maya was actually right barely entered into the equation. On the other hand Rick definitely had a sort of charisma to him, despite his rough exterior. But Addie suspected that he might be a bit too fond of being the leader.

Hunh -- suspected. She'd not actually talked to him. Why not? It was easy to say 'Because obviously he wasn't one of the ones who might need help' but she felt there was more to it than that. She let her mind wander as she huddled against the night's chill, to Rick, to her parents and her grandmother -- did they know she was gone? Were they looking for her? Would Eric ask why she wasn't at the Dojo? Surely her teacher wouldn't just accept her disappearance without looking, and he was very capable.

She thought she could finally sleep, even her sleep regulator could only hold off fatigue for so long. She lay down, snuggled closer to the dwarf, Pierre, than was entirely decent but right now warmth trumped decency. As sleep began to wrap her mind she imagined Eric coming striding up these hills to the rescue brought a smile to her lips, she could imagine running down the hill to greet him, jumping into his arms, kissing him ... no, of course she wouldn't do that, she had a crush on him but she knew it could never run its course, he was too old, her family would never accept it. Although out here, why should she care what her family thought? They wouldn't be here to see if she kissed Rick.

Rick? She meant Eric, right? Rick was, was .... she was falling asleep too quickly and deeply to formulate the thought in words, but the tingling in her body let her know exactly what she thought Rick was.

Rick's words drip with scorn "Dignity? Respect? ...Kindness? I do not know what fragged up world you come from princess but it is not the one I inhabit! Call your meeting tomorrow and we will see which way the wind is blowing, but I promise you this, I will strip you of these people that are sheltering behind your skirts and I guarantee that they will want to come to me! I will be a tyrant if I must but we will survive this! I do not make threats, it is merely an observation, a study of human nature that is a little less sentimental than your own idealistic views. We do not need to work together, you need to work for is simply the natural order of things. I don't want your body but your mind can be useful...why waste it opposing me? Sim, come..." and the two of them turn to leave...
When Addie wakes up the sky is still pretty thoroughly dark. Her internal ‘link tells her that it is about 8 hours since she thought to have it mark the time, about the time the sun was going down. It had been Summer back home, was it Summer here, too? She couldn’t remember for sure, but she thought the sun had been setting back home around 8 pm, so that would make it four in the morning? Wait, day-light savings time, so maybe sunset was really around 7pm, so it would be something like 3am?

Either way, by her link she’d slept for about four hours – that it had been that long told her how exhausted she had been. At least the sleep regulator had helped make sure that it was good sleep, and thankfully nothing seemed to have happened to her while she was so deeply passed out.

“This could be a double-edged sword out here” she thought. “Being able to stay awake longer, get more done, keep guard, that is all good. But when I do sleep I’m really vulnerable. I really better figure out how to guard my sleep for those three or four hours each night.”

She shifted a bit to try and take the pressure off her hip, but her movement seemed to disturb Pierre who moaned and twisted, letting a knife of cold air slide in between them. “Still too dark to do much anyway, might as well stay here and stay warm until the sky starts brightening. Back home I’d just flick on a light and start my stretches, or simply jump into the matrix for some entertainment. I never thought before how boring it might be not to sleep much.”

But one thought connects to another, and she eventually wonders that nobody else seems to have an internal commlink? Or maybe their transmission abilities were broken somehow? Or maybe wherever they are, wireless doesn’t work? She isn’t sure that they aren’t on earth, but the things that Dot had pointed out seemed to have taken a solid hold of her mind while she slept, and she strongly suspects that they are in some incredible matrix simulation, or sucked into a magic world, or something. Or the implants had driven her insane and she was hallucinating, she still didn’t think that was the case but she still wasn’t entirely positive. Everything had seemed so real during the day, but lying here in the darkness it is much easier to believe that maybe it isn’t.

Still, she hadn’t really worked hard with her ‘link yesterday. There had been so much going on that once she hadn’t connected to the matrix, she’d kind of given up. She spent some time with the user settings, looking anything about range, sensitivity, telling her about other devices nearby – she’d never really used it for more than the obvious functions before, but she knew that all of those settings were in there. Maybe there really were no other links around, maybe her link was broken, but maybe she just hadn’t tried hard enough, and she could improve her ability to communicate, and to coordinate at a distance.

Since she really wasn’t sure how she should be adjusting the thing, she resolved to try a setting, let it run for a while, try another, and so on. It didn’t really cost her anything, and eventually it might let her connect.

When the sky did start to brighten enough for her enhance vision to see well enough, she tried to quietly slide away from Pierre, but he woke up. To his sleepy mumble she replied “Sorry, morning is coming, was just going to take a look around while things are quiet.” She didn't add out loud "And before any snakes wake up!" but she certainly thought it.

The boy woke up enough to mutter “At least that fragging strange purple lightning stopped.” But then he pushed himself more thoroughly against Dot’s side and seemed to fall back asleep.

Purple lighting? Had he been having a weird dream, or had she slept through more weirdness?

As she quietly made her way through the pre-dawn hush towards the stream -- might as well get clean while most were still sleeping -- she started cataloging all the weirdness. Strange clouds, no birds or insects around, maybe purple lightning, no matrix. Hadn't there been something else odd as she'd been falling asleep?

Thoughts of kissing Rick.

She paused mid-stride at that memory. That had clearly been the natural confusion of the names Rick and Eric, with both being orcs, after a long and strange day. Certainly not something that she actually wanted. And the sudden goosebumps on her arms were obviously a result to the cold air, not to that thought! But as she approached the stream, unbidden a thought occurred to her "If I was with him, I could sleep safely."
"What the hell is Assenting?" One of the kids asked Vincent. "Its when you look at something with magic to tell if it has a magical touch basically. I can't do it but someone else might. Anyone got any magic power?" The kids looked at him blankly but then started to whisper amongst themselves. One of the older kids asked point blank: "Do YOU have any magic power?" Vincent nodded. "I'm an adept yeah." A few laughed at that which spread amongst the group. "Oh yeah and I am Lowfyr the dragon." He retorted. Vincent looked at them blankly. "Meh. I'll go ask the other group." Vincent walked away. They sent some jeering calls after him then went on their way. But a few of the other kids began discussing at length about magic. "But if there were magic users here that could be useful. They can like grow food and water right?" "Yeah and he but adepts are supposed to be killing machines right? You ever watch Ninja Run?" Ninja Run was a trid about a secret order of adepts(based on real adepts the disclaimer said) that had some unrealstic adept powers and martial arts. "Yeah but I doubt any adepts here would be like that..." "I dunno... what if the kid was telling the truth?" "That scrawny nerd doesn't look like the type..." "Well lets forget about it now. Im beat. Adept boy can go magic hunting all he wants. Who knows? Maybe he finds an actual mage. If they don't burn him alive Im sure they can help." "Thats sick man." The three lay down.
QUOTE (Digital Heroin @ Jun 17 2016, 01:36 AM) *
`If I give you a blade, you owe me. Information. When I ask of it. No lies. Complete truth.`

Raf's mind raced. Here was an opening. Could he accept it?

In a perfect world, the scoundrel would relinquish his booty and be roundly admonished in the doing.

In this world, he was offering one part of the assets in question, and for a price.

Would it therefore be immoral to accept?

The aim - several minutes and a million years ago - had been to prevent a damaging material loss to the group at large. Now, here, he and this fellow were alone. No one had even seemed bothered by his predation. And the honest truth was, if Raf by whatever means obtained the knife right now, he would keep it for himself. Because he knew it would in fact be most useful to the group in his own hands.

Morever, he had no use for a hammer, and less for a second knife, as he'd pointed out to this fellow.

Conclusion, getting just the knife would constitute a win on his part.

Was the condition imposed unethical? Not on the strict reading, and he was definitely prepared to read it strictly.

So toss principle aside?

His father was a strict idealist. Except that Raf knew he made hard choices in his boardroom decisions. And what had his management tutor - hired and vetted by his father - taught him? Win-win or no deal, those were the options. A win-lose, even when the winner was oneself, was an unproductive and unethical outcome.

The choice seemed clear. But he wanted no disagreements down the line, nothing to uproot any small seeds of trust, or sour a mutually face-saving accord...

"I'll happily tell you anything you want to know anytime you care to ask. And I never lie anyway. But while I do plan to forge contacts among the others, it will be when I am good and ready to do so. I won't be an errand boy sent to ferret out secrets for you. Neither will I ever knowingly help you harm or exploit the weak. Within those parameters, any knowledge I gain will be yours for the asking. It's a good deal, because I always keep my word and always pay my debts."

He watched the fellow's face for a reaction, but there was none. Just a wall. His code had left him with no choice but to be crystal clear about his conditions, but sensing they might not be what the fellow had had in mind, he attempted to sweeten the pot, though he wasn't sure if it would be at all useful with this one.

"And I'll offer you something much better than a set of eyes and ears. I'll be an ally to you."
Rick is such an asshole - but every garbage heap has some garbage king. There were real problems something was not right with magic, either nearby pollution or something a lot worse, if only Dana had some privacy she could scout the surroundings and have a look, Too many people in there. She watches with curiosity the power play and pissing contest between Rick and Maya and as Rick leaves she say.

"Tiger girl, pretty boy is bad news for you - he is not here for 24 hours and is already obsessed with power. That person would not tolerate you, and if this is what he does after so little time - it will not be long before he make his move. Are you willing to spill blood for your goal? Because that guy seems like he would.
Frankly I do not really care who is in charge of this garbage heap, there is something very wrong in here and we have no future here. I cannot explain what is wrong but I can feel it in my bones - we should leave while we still can while we have enough medical supplies and enough food. There is no future to this camp. These crates came from somewhere... we should attempt to find that place it should be more survivable, or at least offer us some answers."
Wandering in a bit behind the orks, Lindsey comes into a camp divided into clumps around the crates in the center. The boy who'd spoken out before seemed to be running herd over most of the younger kids and appeared to have been successful in stopping the wholesale looting of the crates. Further around the circle there was a group of older kids that were holding themselves apart but with no readily apparently leader. Then there was the group of orks she was already familiar with, and finally a section where the loners were all together, but obviously not together. Unsurprisingly, it looked like there had already been at least one fight as a girl with clothes more tattered than most was leaving camp for the treeline.

Circling the outside of camp, she catches Rick's eye and nods with a smile then finally enters and sits on the edge of the group of loners with the spirit still on her shoulder. She mentally asks the spirit, "I know you have to go soon, but before you do, can you run uphill and see if you can get a view of the area or find anything that seems out of place and let me know?" As the spirit nods and hops off her shoulder, the orcs finally get the fire going with another loud cheer. All eyes are on Rick as he laughs and jokes with the others.

Not much later the spirit reports back that it's reached the highest point in the area but the landscape looks essentially the same in all directions. Frowning, Lindsey thanks the spirit as it returns to wherever it is they stay when not with her. As the sun sets below the horizon, she watches the fire dance and jump as the kids around it try to keep themselves warm and entertained. "So we've got food, for now, clothes, till they fall apart, and a bunch of kids... not great. No idea how we got here, or even where here is, but someone obviously put us here; what are they expecting from us? Other than the environment, everyone is acting fairly reasonably..." Of course, mere moments after thinking that, the scarred girl walks purposefully into the camp and steps right up to Rick with her protector. "Oh, this should be good!" As expected, the 'discussion' does not go well for her and she eventually retreats with the ork. Once they're gone she looks over to Rick's group and says in Or'zet, "Why is that kid hanging with the ones up the hill? He too good for us here?" Her words have the desired effect as the rank and file grumble. Shortly after, Rick takes one of the others and stalks out of camp, heading towards the other group.

With the sun fully down and not trusting anyone else in this new place, she concentrates and looks around for one of her friends, eventually finding one on the other side of the fire, a fire that was glowing way more brightly than it should! As the spirit walks past the fire and to her side, she studies the fire trying to figure out what's going on. While the colors are in flux, there seems to be a certain pattern to it and, when Rick and the boy return to camp, she suddenly realizes that the boy has the same pattern around him! "He must have done something to the fire somehow..." Looking in her direction, the boy's eyes widen and he nudges Rick, whispering something to him after which Rick locks eyes with her with a raised eyebrow before continuing back to his normal spot. Shrugging, she gets ready to try and sleep, asking her friend to please watch over her and wake her if anyone gets too close or when he has to leave. Having slept in much worse conditions before, she falls asleep quickly.

A sudden screech in the night wakes her and she's almost instantly awake. Looking around in the firelight she sees a commotion in the group of older kids but can't make out what it is. Scruntching up her face, she uses her other vision to look and sees that one of the boys on the ground is obviously dead now, particular look that she's seen many times before. There doesn't seem to be any immediate threat and everyone seems to be either asleep or concerned with the boy, so she lays back down and falls asleep. Sleeping right through the lightning strikes, she is woken right before dawn by her friend who then runs off towards the trees.
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