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Reginald Keystone

Location: Athribis
Skills: N/A

"Yes, of course," agreed Reginald, speaking to Bella. "The sun in Egypt can be unforgiving, quite. Especially on fair, aristocratic skin, don't you know?" He went so far as to remove his very dignified officer's cap and use it to shield the worst of the sun from Bella's face as they walked along. "Sadly, I do not have present access to a parasol, madame. This shall have to suffice for the meantime." While Reginald could not see the physical reaction (if any) that affected Gene, he did see discomfort in Bella. Quietly, he spoke to her about just that. "Miss Bella, is there something which troubles you? Something for which I may provide assistance?" On the one hand, if they had to continue without their guide, then that was simply that. On the other hand, allowing a lady in obvious distress to continue without appropriate action was positively ungentlemanly. Reginald had many character flaws. That was not one of them.

In an attempt to lighten the mood, and while steering in the direction of shade for the betterment of their guide, Reginald spoke aloud, "Lad has quite the gift for distraction, that J.C.; though I daresay I do find it ever so slightly tedious to continually refer to the man by his initials. Ah well, it is a thing to which I must adjust if I wish to maintain his friendly acquaintance, I imagine. But I digress. Yes, gift for distraction! I do wonder how the boy managed to initiate a goat rampage, you see. We might have used that bit of tactic against the Boers back in Eighteen and Ninety-Nine! Goat Rampage..." He chuckled softly, "Credit due to you Americans and your outside-the-canister thinking, indeed." Funny bit of casual conversation aside, they needed to move, and preferably out of the sun for their guide. With these thoughts in mind, the Lord Major continued deeper into the site. "I do wonder how the remainder of our Fellowship fares back in Benha proper."

Haring Reddish

Location: Benha (Infirmary -> Elite Deck)
Skills: Stealth, Investigation/Espionage

A slow smile spread across the Corporal's face. It was accompanied by a knowing look that he aimed in the direction of Josephine. He had to give the starlet this: She was handling everything that was being thrown at her remarkably well. A cool head in the face of uncertainty. Not to mention observational skills and a vindictive streak that, if well placed, made her an asset that only appeared to be a liability. There was a twinkle in his eyes as he whispered to her, "Miss Clarke, you simply must remind me not to cross you later on, hmm?"

It occurred to Reddish that this was the first actual miraculous event that he had witnessed since imposing himself onto the Fellowship. In truth, he didn't know what to expect from these people. The Corporal had his own reasons for being there. Seeing something like this for himself? It changed things a little bit for him. Definitely not something to put in the report later on. Curiously, it also made him feel like more of an outsider. Or a fraud. These people might actually be part of something much bigger then themselves. Meanwhile, he was just tagging along. Well, he still had his reasons. Just because magic existed, it didn't change that aspect of his presence. So to hell with it. If he was an uninvited guest to all this, he was at least going to help the ones chosen accomplish what they were supposed to. While serving as the right hand of the Lord Major, of course.

The Corporal ducked back into the Infirmary and closed the door quietly. "Capital idea, Miss Clarke," he said, traversing the Infirmary with purpose. He quickly slipped out of the back door and, holding his hand out for Josephine, surreptitiously made his way down the stairs. "If we are spotted by the staff," he reminded, "wave them over. The physician needs help, remember?" One of the basic rules about being someplace you shouldn't: Always have an excuse for your presence. It even helps if it's believable. The "sick doctor" routine, even if it worked, would nix this chance to investigate, but it would at least keep them in the game overall. Now, the trick was to not get caught.

Caesar & Keystone

Location: Road To Grimm I (Indiana, Amish Country)
Skills: N/A
Skills: N/A

To quote the immortal words of David Mustaine, "Hundreds of miles, rolled off today. Roadsigns lose their meaning, minutes tick away." Maybe not hundreds of miles, persay, but when you're staring down the multitudes of square miles of corn and abandoned buildings that just seem to scream "Meth Lab", it begins to get tedious. Massively tedious. The sweet and salty popcorn does wonders to increase morale, such as these two man have morale that can be measured by the yardstick and/or litmus test of the common man. It gets to a point that, despite Keystone's hesitation to put on the musical stylings of his favorite performer (and fellow East Ender) in front of El Jefe, the big guy found his hand inexorably drawn in the direction of his playlist. Resistance growing fainter and fainter with the more rows of corn that they passed, it was only a matter of seconds.

The mixed blessing of a tire blow prevents this from happening. It gave Keystone something else to concentrate upon. A distraction, if you will, from the undeniable pull of Adele Adkins. He would have to come clean eventually about it, as if it was not something made clear by previous actions. But he could suspend his disbelief for a little while longer - at least as long as it would take to flip out a tire. It came standard with the vehicle, as most things did; MSS was not known for sinking a lot of money into extra perks in vehicles unless specifically requested for certain members of their fold, nor did they want to go cheap, either. A spare tire and the means to repair such a circumstance were positively within the realm of probability.

Both men hopped out of the SUV, glad to have the opportunity to stretch their legs for a bit. They ambled to the back of the vehicle, appropriating the spare and giving each other odd looks as if trying to use psychic powers to get the other one to actually change the damned thing. In the end, Keystone relented. He justified his willingness to do so with the explanation of, "Yuh huh there, Boss. You're a crack shot as compared to m'self. I'll do the heavy, you make sure none o' these buggers from Cousinfuck, IN sneaks up on the car, right?" He proceeded to set the jack and begin a'cranking.

Meanwhile, Caesar gave a quiet chuckle and did as asked. He gave the car a once-around, pulled a weapon but kept it hidden. A place in the middle of nowhere (though he did like the way in which Keystone put it, using the compound word "cousinfuck" as the proper name of a place followed by the state in question) with a blown tire is exactly a decent spot for an ambush. Perhaps it was unnecessary overkill, given the mundane nature of the obstacle upon which they tested their mettle, but 'safe' and 'sorry' rarely met in a descriptive without the promise of something quite negative otherwise.

Several minutes later, back on the road, the urge to play music returned.

Ash Holloway

Location: Quarantine (Conference Room)
Skills: N/A

Air went in, air came out. Again. The again. Keep them deep and easy. Don't force it. It was a simple breathing exercise. Ash knew that he was going to have to deal with his feelings about losing someone. He just hated that it was so public here. The concept of privacy was a forgotten thing in this place, though he understood the reason why. They were quarantined, pure and simple. What that meant specifically could vary from organization to organization, but at its heart it meant isolation from a larger group and observation. As a side effect, Ash didn't have a spot he could go to and deal with his emotions away from everyone else. Well, what else was new? For the time being, just keep pushing air in and out. It was times like this that he hoped whomever was taking notes on them would slip on a stray crayon and clip their head on a table end on the way down. He didn't wish anything permanent, mind you, just a blunt reminder that they were still people who had been through a lot. Plus, it might be funny in a dark sort of way.

Being the center of attention was never his thing. This was doubled by the nature of why he was drawing to many stares. Tati actually was of amazing benefit in this matter; who wanted to stare at him when there was a giant, screeching bookcase to draw one's attention? The fact that it was headed in his direction notwithstanding, it seemed quite effective in breaking the overwhelming tension in the air. By the time the ballerina was done, Ash was sitting next to her on the floor, behind a bookcase, discussing the potential merits of building a pillow fort. There was a tense moment as Ash stared up as the bookcase, apparently someone had decided that then was he best time for a reading selection - but otherwise it was a touching moment that drew a polite nod from Ash and a thankful nudge on his part. "Thanks, Tati," he said quietly. "This ain't something I'm getting over immediately. Even though I braced for it." He even managed a dry chuckle, even if it sounded a little forced, "Wouldn't mind that fort, though."

Thalia Carmichael

Location: Quarantine (Conference Room)
Skills: N/A

Thalia's eyes got a little wider with Tatiana's response about Ash and her cousin. She craned her neck over to give the Captain a glance, the glance turning into a nigh bug-eyed look of consideration. Before anyone noticed (she hoped), Thalia turned her eyes downward, processing the new information. She remembered that, in her agitation with the man's hesitation to speak with her, she made an offhand comment in Spanish about Ash being the kind of guy that her cousin would have "fucked for sport". The fact that he readily understood notwithstanding, Thalia finally realized why the man gave him a very reserved look that still managed to get across the basic message of "Go to Hell". Maybe she owed him an apology. Or maybe he needed to stop being a dick about the whole thing and answer a few basic questions, seeing as he obviously knew Alicia well.

Well, like with most of the conversations that she wanted to have these days, she was just going to have to wait for it. How long could be anyone's guess this time, though. No problem. They had time. And she had a way or two to spend that time, which sure as hell wasn't waiting around. Tatiana had asked if she wanted to practice more or play cards, and she had made her decision. Spoiler alert: It wasn't cards. Getting in as much physical therapy and brutal training was going to be paramount in her getting her shit together and walking out of this place stronger than when she came in.

There was just one tiny hitch - Tati had decided to postpone their training to help out Ash. Oookay... Well, the guy looked like he needed it. Unfortunately, part of that "help" involved a metallic screech that seemed to never end, setting her teeth on edge and causing her to cringe despite a valiant attempt to hang tough. Thalia always did hate loud noises. Until she figured out what she was going to do next, Thalia just kept looking at the home movie featuring the Martin Clan, including her lost friend Thana. It really sucked. Thalia had a hard enough time trusting people, let alone making actual friends. Good friends had a nasty habit of dying. It was not a great thought to get stuck on. Stuff like that might crack you. At that thought, Thalia glanced back at Ash once more before moving out of his line-of-sight. Remove the temptation to stare.

Luck was with her, in more ways than one. Atticus's appearance removed the video from the equation, gave her something to do, promised her a replacement limb, and got her out into the open air. Well, you go Preacher-Boy. She walked optimistically over to Atticus, though did raise an eyebrow at the man packing heat. A shrug and a mental "Yahwhatevah" later, Thalia called over to Alexander, "Hells yeah, Mugsy. Let's do this." She was more than ready to get an arm of some kind back. It meant that she could start getting some additional exercise in.

Hank Wright

Location: Quarantine (Conference Room)
Skills: N/A

Hank kept a sharp eye on what was going on in the room, even if he was dead certain that he didn't give too much of an outward appearance of giving a rat's ass about it. There was an interesting sense of camaraderie with a lot of these people; some of it seemed like the ebb and flow of goodwill birthed of familial unity, while at other times a strange, trauma based reaction that looked like it had more in common with PTSD or Stockholm Syndrome, maybe. It was funny what brought people together in times of crisis. Even funnier what odd selection of people that otherwise would ever have looked at each other twice were suddenly all buddy-buddy in the face of common adversity.

Not that he really showed anything to the people around him aside from a derisive grin, especially when the legos made appearance. So it wasn't betting in the traditional sense. "Yeahp, maybe when we're done, we can build a tower for height, see who won that way, huh?" Well, it was better than nothing. A few people trickled over to the table, including two more of his shaven head buddies from the other group. "Hey hey, well there ladies... We get a few more of us baldies going over here, we won't have to spring for team shirts. So, what's the game? Five card, Hold'em, Blackjack? We going to pair off and get a Bridge tournament going? Hmm..." He leaned across the table a little, a mildly sarcastic smile playing on his face, "Any of you ladies ever play '52 Pickup'?" He nodded boyishly, as if to intentionally telegraph a bad joke. "Real character builder."

Vladimir Alexandrov

Location: Road to Gretna Green From Port Annan (1 Mile Out, Ludwig's Path)
Skills: Fal'shbort (Passive), Tretiy Glaz (Passive), English

The coming wisp of dark cloud took Vladimir completely by surprise. Such was not one of the things that he was expecting to find, apparently, as he had committed a high portion of his concentration toward his more travel-based skillset. Sadly, before any of that could come to fruition, the unimaginable happened. Instinct had Vladimir placing control of his horse with his heels and knees, settling the rearing yet noble beast as best he could. His hands were kept quite occupied, quickdrawing two of his larger knives underhand grips. Vladimir's teeth were bared and he let out a wordless roar of challenge, restrained only by the clenching of his teeth as he scanned his surroundings for potential threats. This "ill wind" could just be the vanguard of a fresh, new brand of Hell, and no one would catch The Great Bazhooli unawares - not this close to their destination.

It was at this point that Vlad noticed the fallen Ludwig. "AH!" he cried aloud, his hands rising to either side of his head though they still carried blades, framing his face with sharpened steel. "For vhy? For vhy does the fortunes take such beatings to our qvest? Vhy does silly German man, our most noble and loyal of allies, have to go on this adventure before ve?" Vlad shook his head vigorously. "NO! This I cannot accept!"

The Great Bazhooli kicked one of his feet from its stirrup ad sifted his weight to one side, rolling off the horse with gusto and landing promptly. The second his feet touched the earth beneath him, he walked with purposeful stride to the prostrated and prone form of Master Ludwig Zimmer. "I refuse accepting of this!" He sheathed his knives in one gallant flourish and dashed to he knees, sliding the remaining foot to the crumpled Ludwig. Vladimir flexed his hands and cracked his knuckles, followed by his neck, followed by his shoulders, each in rapid succession of each other. The man looked like he meant business. "I vill give you such the Krasnoye-ing, Master Zimmer..." he started, laying his hands roughly upon the man. His face was anger, frustration, and grim determination beyond the capacity of less dramatic men to summon.

Then it all fell away from his face. Looking quite surprised, even a little embarrassed, Vladimir quickly retracted his hands. "Ах, Π΄Π΅Ρ€ΡŒΠΌΠΎ."1 He gave a very matter-of-factly nod, "Da, is dead. Okays! Town is that vay." He hoisted the man onto the flank of his horse, Tolstoy(!) and remounted, glad that they were traveling lightly. "Ve go!" The best arrangements were to be made in town one mile off, and the mission was supposed to be in there anyway.

Dr. Swamp
Location: Shadowell Manor: Sewing Room (2F)
Skills: N/A
Hit Points: 2

"Yes," said the Doctor coolly, in agreement with Rhoda. "This should suffice nicely. The hospitality of the household is noteworthy." Whether this was by the insistence of the Lord of the Manor or the basic duty of the staff, it was appreciated. It wasn't everyday that Swamp had gotten shot. Point of fact, this was a very new experience for him. He had seen many a body mangled by ammunition though, enough to know that he had gotten off very lucky, all things considered. At that thought, he craned his neck to examine his stitching. Satisfied, he gave Amaranthine a polite smile. "Superior work."

As the shirt was held out, Swamp slipped his hands into the sleeves and carefully pushed them through. It was a decent enough article of clothing, if not the level of quality of the one destroyed by gunfire and blood. It would, as he mentioned earlier, suffice nicely. And he did like the color, even if it was the attire of the servants of the house. His bearing would undoubtedly distinguish himself, of course. "Thank you, Amaranthine," he breathed, looking to his vest next. The mottled crimson brocade of the garment was appropriate accompaniment, and besides that he still had some personal effects in the pockets. The next thing he did was ensure that they were still present.

Gilbert Summers

Location: Ville au Camp (Main House, Room 101 (Sitting Room))
Skills: Emendator Knowledge/Perception

A heavy sigh issued from Gilbert as, and very sadly, he began to realize some of what Siduri was communicating. The cryptic, deity-esque woman never liked to come straight with her news nor her advice, like it was a game somehow. Or a test of character. Or intelligence. Come to think of it, he didn't really have a clue as to what she was thinking at any given moment. It was a little unsettling. Even his ability to access things about human history had little to say on the woman. But, riddles or not, she had to have come here for a reason. When part of that reason clicked, Gilbert began to grow very concerned.

"Time is growing short. For us. We might not even have the time to properly train our people anymore. What if Siduri did not utilize a power to arrive here? That is to say, if she just knew that there would be a vulnerability that manifested on this cycle?" Gilbert, like the other Emendators and the older Paradoxes who had lived through the sundering of a Loop knew full well what happened when one broke. "Triage. As much as it pains me, and it does, it will take time to get Faith ready to find Evelina. She expressly said that she does not wish to be followed, and time is again a finite resource. But I believe that we all should be ready to depart at a moment's notice, at all times."

"Giosue, how long do you think this Loop has left?" He had other questions, such as, "Can it be repaired?", or "Have we a spot established for a new one?", or even "Might this have to do with 'Nibiri', as we know it?", yet the first question required answering before the others were priority in the slightest. Even provided that time remained, that talk with Babylon might not be a bad idea anyway. A creature such as her whose existence was tied to ancient lore, not unlike himself, might know something they did not. If they had the time yet.

James Grady

Location: Ville au Camp (Main House, East Hallway -> Room 209)
Skills: N/A

Just as he promised he would, James began to make his way up the stairs and across the upper deck, above the main porch in the front of the building. He was barely cognizant of himself, mostly running on autopilot, let alone the grander strokes of his environment. He knew that something huge was about to change with his living circumstances, but considering the massive swings in the conversation downstairs he had no earthly idea what it could be. He just knew that he had made a promise to have a tiny ritual in the memory of a dear friend who ...ascended... just that morning. The bravado and smiles associated with the day really reflected an ebb and flow of processing how he felt about that. More importantly, who he wanted to be to reflect the positive influence that she had on him.

Just for a moment, just a single space of time, the Emendators and Goddesses could all do their own thing, separate from him. He wold rejoin and help as best he could, even if that just meant sitting in a corner and making fun of people who needed it. He was okay at that. But right now he needed to ponder things for himself and give honor where he said he would. Slowly, James opened the door to his room and stepped inside. There was, among the few items of his allowed from his previous life, a picture of a newborn baby and a mostly full bottle of tequila. He picked up both, weighting the importance of either for a healthy few seconds. Which one caused his friend to slip away into the Great What-Came-After? Surely not directly, but which one gave her the feeling of completeness or finality or whatever that led to her passing onward and upward?

James popped the cork out of the bottle and turned it up, taking a respectable swig. Looking at the picture, he repeated the name told to him: "James Sally." He coughed once, unaccustomed to taking straight spirits like that with the same familiarity as he once did. "Mmm. Ha-cha-cha... Always with the hard shit, huh?" he said to no one in particular.

Reginald Keystone

Location: Athribis
Skills: General Observation

Taking to step at the direction of Bella, the unseasonably keen eyes of the Lord Major did not detect anything amiss in regards of persons from the train, boat, or crowd around them earlier attempting to follow this detachment of the Fellowship. It was for the best for a few reasons, the safety of all parties at the top of said list. Recent events had proven that unnatural fate spared neither the nefarious nor the merely curious. Besides, if more blood was needed to secure the success of their adventure, it could come from Reginald.

It seemed that, no sooner had he mentally checked off the lack of people following them, that Mahendra came to him with he observations. "Indeed?" He mulled over the new information. "Oh no, please do speak boldly, Mr. Zalil. Fortune favors the brave, and whatnot. Lord knows it has been painfully favorable to me... hmm..." Reginald appeared lost in thought for a second or two before returning to the present. "Given the improbable yet undeniable truths of our situation, dear boy, educated suspicions bear credibility. And if I am to recall, you are lettered in related pursuits? This should be related to our guide, I believe."

Reginald looked to Bella, who had chosen that moment to ask him for formal escort. "Upon my honor as a gentleman, madame!" he exclaimed, swooping off his cap and taking her arm. The moment he replaced his cap upon his silvery pate, a random goat began to cause havoc. The Lord Major had a pithy comment awaiting it's moment; sadly it was not to be as Bella identified that as the grand diversion for which they had waited. "Yes, well... with a mad goat about, I shall certainly escort you until your man J.C. returns. Let us be off, then."

With the horned, livestocky terror behind them distracting the locals as only a berserk farm animal could, Reginald did as asked and accompanied their sultry guide away to parts roped off and forbidden to the general populace. "Ah, Miss Ridgeway and Mr. Zalil both make compelling points," he commented, still making tracks onward, "What shall we look for first, and might it have anything to do with those untended areas?" He kept his speaking points brief as they escaped the area - partly for stealth and partly because he wasn't the young man he once was. Conservation of energy, and the like.

Haring Reddish

Location: Benha (Boat, Infirmary)
Skills: Investigation/Espionage

Today had already shaped up to be an interesting and potentially noteworthy day. Reddish was certain that his portion in the mission at hand had reached its zenith the previous evening, but no, the hits just kept on coming. The bare moment that he figured this would be like any other assignment, escort, or information gathering expedition, something else happened that altered his perception of things in general. Not that the good Corporal needed a reason to have his perception altered from societal norms, seeing as he appeared to live in a constant state of ...whatever it was that afflicted him.

Case in point. While Reddish was using the opportunity of Josephine's injury to nose about and take in detail in hopes of furthering their investigation, he happened across a piece of highly pertinent information. It came in the form of paperwork inside of the Infirmary, as apparently the corridors and decks were mostly clear of personnel or clues at that time. But to point, the Corporal's inquisitive nature revealed to him the top section of a piece of paperwork - notes on another, very recent patient. He was just in the onset of committing the details to memory for later use when he heard a sound like a sack of hams collapsing onto the floor. Wide-eyed and potentially alarmed, Reddish turned around to see the ship's physician prone and unconscious.

He then got the most devious expression. Reaching back, he snatched up the paperwork and gave it a more thorough read, speaking to Josephine about his find. "Bloody fortuitous, this is. Miss Clarke, your antics, as you phrased them, just got us SWEET MERCIFUL BANGERS 'N' BLOODY MASH YOU'RE A WITCH one brilliant pip of a lead." Reddish had apparently just noticed Josephine's minor miracle and processed it within the span of his sentence. "We should be off smartly, before this bloke comes to, Miss Clarke."

Reddish carefully replaced the paper and cracked open the door to the infirmary. He peered out, gauging the best opportunity for moving with stealth and/or nonchalance. "Right then. Miss Clarke - I've a mind to speak with that man. Perhaps you might be as kind as to join?" Just before setting out, the Corporal asked with some humor in his tone, "Care to borrow a weapon just in case, Miss Clarke? Or would you prefer to use your witchy-powers on possible opposition?" The tiniest of chortles later, Reddish made his move. If caught, he could always use the excuse that he was going for help for the doctor.

Caesar & Keystone

Location: Road To Grimm I (Indiana, Amish Country)
Skills: N/A
Skills: N/A

A gnarled Mexican in a leather vest and secure trench coat wasn't exactly commonplace in this part of the country. Nonetheless, Caesar stood there, fueling up the company SUV with a look to his face that warned disharmonious, bodily injury to anyone who might want to interrupt or make pithy comment about the rarity of the situation. Ignoring the obvious, he did cut the very dashing if autumnal figure, stabbing the gas pump into the fuel port in a highly masculine fashion as the wind cut across the flat, open land around him, cascading his hair behind him and ruffling his coat in the manner of a Roman general's cape. Oh yes, no one could perform mundane tasks with as much epic flair as Caesar Gonzalez.

The occasional pickup truck or (God forbid) horse and buggy might pull in, gassing up or just purchasing day to day items, respectively. At first, Caesar was curious as to why a horse drawn carriage might be doing at a place that sells gas, let alone where one would cram the pump nozzle, but he eventually worked out that Amish people might like Oreos and jerky snacks like everyone else. Still, he felt the need to growl at one heavily bearded man whose eyes seemed to linger on him for longer than he was comfortable. "Keep moving, Straw Hat," he said under his breath. When the tank topped out, Caesar retracted the pump and hung it back up, then waited with measured impatience for his junior associate to return.

Meanwhile, Keystone was inside among a knot of younger Amish women. Chiefly the ones that did the shopping when it was called for, it was still a little offputting for the burly Londoner as he was more accustomed to assessing potential threats in a new location, not from which angle someone might try to sell him a doll without a face or unpasteurized milk. The goal was to pop in, grab snacks, pay for gas, leave. But somehow, soaking up the culture of the area made him realize that, in the vast and diverse world, sometimes a man just wanted to run back home and grab a curry in the East End. Or if not a curry, just to run home. Away from homespun woolen socks and wearing aprons out in public, and he had only just arrived in Amish country.

Parting the way through the mix of rural oddities and more modern roadside sales items, Keystone was rather taken aback to note a distinct lack of a microwave oven. The verbal urging of "Popcorn?" to the shopkeeper was met with a point in the direction of a kettle corn apparatus, oddly referred to as a Corn Kettle among polite society. He gave it a shrug. He was the outsider, it wouldn't do any good to complain or ask to change things just to suit his proclivities. Besides, he wanted to get in and out as fast as possible seeing as his one-word inquiry just alerted everyone in the establishment that he was, in fact, one of those foreigners that they'd read about in periodicals and/or immigration protests. The rampant sea of eyes birthed of questionable genetics focused on him was annoying, certainly, but as long as he was there Keystone figured that he'd give them a show.

Looking at the nearest Amish lady, he gave her a suggestive wink and began making his gargantuan pecs dance underneath his shirt. Bump-bump, bump-bump-bump. "Yeah, that's the crumpets 'n' tea right there, oi?" he rolled out in one of the more pronounced Cockney brogues of his adult life. Turning over to the proprietor, he set back to business. "Right. Bottles of water, a sackful of that - wait, you're sellin' the popcorn in bloody sacks? Wha'ever... Two of them sacks o' poppin' corn, and gas on pump fongin' three. Got me?"

Back outside, Caesar had the hatch open waiting for the imminent return of Keystone. The larger man returned, bearing the fruits of his purchases which he subsequently loaded into the vehicle. Caesar tipped his head to the man, asking, "Problems with the locals?"

"Nah, Boss. Little culture shock, is all. We good?"

"We're in Indiana now. Go ahead and gear back up."

"Yeah, Boss. On that."

The pair of them, likely to moderate concern of any locals out and about who cared to continue staring too hard, passed their working gear to each other from the back of the SUV. Keystone's heavier caliber firearms and massive knuckle dusters, some basic investigation equipment, and a secure coat; Caesar's collection of sharp things and pistols. They each had their way. Fresh batteries were flipped out for their personal electronics while older ones went into chargers, and the pair of them engaged standard protocol by logging their location and times with the head office. Ready to either wage war or participate in reality TV, it was a difficult call to anyone who did not know them personally.


"As I'll ever be. Grimm?"


The pair returned to their positions in the company vehicle and bid the gas station a dusty farewell. Next stop, hopefully, was a city they had been hearing a lot about lately: Grimm, Indiana.



"Is that a sack, full of popcorn?"

"Uhh, yeah."

There was an audible sigh. "...fine. Hand it here."

"Yeah, Boss."

Ash Holloway

Location: Quarantine (Conference Room)
Skills: N/A

"Twenty-two... twenty-three... twenty-four..." The numbers rattled off in Ash's mind. The rigors of the road behind him and the understanding that meals would be significantly more regular, at least for a while, gave way to the thought that he didn't want to get soft. Neglect of personal upkeep was not something that Ash wanted to make habit. With the regular calories, a thing to which he was not fully acclimated yet, he had regained reserves of energy that begged to be utilized. In this case, pushups. Hence, the counting. Sometimes spoken and sometimes not, sporadically. Maybe he was vocalizing to distract himself from the thoughts that kept pinging around inside of his head. Thoughts of the day that Newnan fell and almost all of the days since then.

"Thirty... thirty-one... thirty-two..." He still had it. Hell, the last chunk of time living in pure survival mode, hunting, foraging, and traveling almost non-stop had made him leaner and tougher. Now that he had the caloric means to support it, he might as well take the opportunity to hone himself. Also, it gave him something to do to keep him mind busy. He was feeling pretty dark right then. Having been down that path, it was not a thing he wished to repeat. He was given a daily task, though to be honest it didn't take very long for him to do. Gather dirty clothes and distribute fresh ones. Not a difficult nor time-consuming task. When he was done, all he had was himself and the others in Quarantine. His partner in this was a lady from another group - the group with the highly irregular older men in it. Sadly, Ash was not the best of conversation during his work. Or at any time, really. Ash felt that it was a shame that he couldn't help out someone else with their jobs, but the rules about this were pretty straightforward. More time to think. More time to dwell.

"Forty-four... forty-five... forty-six..." The only person he was really opening up to was Tatiana. The face was knitting back together quite nicely, thanks for asking, from where she had decked him four days earlier. As far as he was concerned, it was over and forgotten. Not the first time he'd taken a hit, wouldn't be the last either. His people were fairly rural, Irish and English stock, mostly, from the foothills of Appalachia. Drinking and fighting was part of that, or it used to be. A well-meant love tap from his adoptive sis was just par for the course.

"Fifty." First set was down. Time to switch to crunches for a while. Every time he flexed his abdominals and brought himself up fully, he accented the rep with two fast, articulated punches. It was an exercise first shown to him by his boxing trainer, a particularly vulgar woman who stood a few inches taller than himself and was a complete taskmaster. It was a shame about her. Taken from the world a while ago. "One (one-two)... two (one-two)... three (one-two)..."

The only person who sought him out for conversation, aside from Tati, was the curious young woman with one hand. She wanted answers about four people who were close to her. When the realization as to why finally clicked, Ash didn't know whether to pull away from the woman or open up. But opening up might lead to him sharing more than he wanted to, and publicly. Those eyes, though. Ash finally knew why her eyes looked so familiar. They belonged to a grizzled old Mexican who gave his life to help someone else. It was turning into a very small apocalypse. Ash skipped a lot of the part were he and her cousin had a relationship, by either refusing to answer or just referring her elsewhere. "You should ask Tati," is really all he would comment. One could tell he might want to say more, but something stopped him.

"Seventeen (one-two)... eighteen (one-two)... nineteen (one-two)..." One breath of fresh air came in the form of a haircut. It was amazing how something that was considered utterly mundane, even a chore at times, was amazingly centering. Ash got something that was more regulation, or what used to be regulation for the Army. He wasn't the buzzcut kind of soldier, ever. Though getting the extra trimmed away was a blessing. Ash thanked Shears and went back to his routine.

"Thirty-seven (one-two)... thirty-eight (one-two) thirty-nine (one-two)..." His morning workouts were beginning to feel less like drudgery. Maybe he was healthier, more relaxed. Or perhaps there was a lot of emotion he was hurling into physical activity. He could see the ballet instruction going on with Tati at the helm. She was, like the Scandinavian lady from Illinois, a taskmaster. But artists seemed to be that way. Offhandedly, Ash wondered what his excuse was. Well, Tatiana was making some new friends and could take good care of herself. As for himself and his workouts, Ash knew the extent to which he could push his body before damage. Oh, he pushed, but not hard enough to make it impossible to maintain on the longer term.

Day Four arrived. Breakfast, coffee, and his very simple task of ferrying clothes from Point A to Point B and back again. Everything looked like it was settling into the routine until the tall guy who talked to something invisible in the air around him slid in a VHS and hit PLAY. Even then, it just looked like a normal home video to start. That is, until he began to pick out specific voices from the recording. Ash's heart sank.

He knew that Thana and Gavin had a relationship a while back; he had made that abundantly clear when they met. So when he heard the Texan's voice and saw him on screen where another Martin was, he knew what was coming next. Or he thought that he did. Ash's eyes misted over and a sad smile tugged at his face. It was bittersweet for the man. He was sure that he would never see or hear her again, but there she was. The image of her, anyway. Ash was glad to see her happy, even if it was just a memory. He was still standing there watching the video when he heard a voice to his side with a masculine, Massachusetts accent ask how he was.

The answer would have been self-explanatory. He wasn't doing well. Instead of addressing it directly, Ash looked to Jack and responded, "She could sing. I didn't know that. She could sing." It was at this moment that Ash felt a series of eyes on him from around the room. Hastily, he wiped his eyes. "Sorry Jack. Excuse me." Stepping up to Wayne, who had made a comment about buying her a drink, Ash commented, "She liked peach moonshine," and then took his leave. He found a quiet corner outside of the direct view of the television, leaned against a wall and forced himself to breathe. Just breathe. This was going to take more than a couple of days to work through.

Thalia Carmichael

Location: Quarantine (Conference Room)
Skills: N/A

Thalia was another person who was keeping pretty much to herself. In defense of her actions, it wasn't like she was giving herself a whole lot of free time to socialize. That was likely for the best. In her previous life, she was a lot more willing to go out and engage other people in conversation, or go dancing, or get absolutely hammered in a pub and do what people did in Boston during their extensive and highly inclusive Drinking Season. She even dated. Well the recent years had brought about many changes in people, Thalia being no exception. If anything, she could be listed among the people who had exhibited some massive changes, even becoming the polar opposite in some ways.

Her work, or her assigned task, was to clean the Conference Room in the evening. She shared this job with the French guy. Latest addition to Club Quarantine. He seemed like an okay guy and Tatiana was close to him, but she didn't know the guy and wouldn't until she could observe him for a while. Tidying up in the evenings would be an acceptable way to start.

Otherwise, she trained with Tati. Ballet. Stretching. Getting her girlish figure pounded into a new form of deadly. Thalia used to be all about stealth, speed, and manual dexterity in a pinch. Well, in addition to her company training and college, but those hadn't been big topics lately. If the Russian ballerina could give her a leg up, so to speak, on her flexibility and footwork, all the better. Her workouts were definitely welcome. The little lady knew how to make her sweat, that was for damn sure. And Wayne? That guy was a trip. Still, she wasn't feeling all buddy-buddy yet.

She was feeling damn good so far as her stomach went, though. Looking at how much stuff she piled on her plate that first night, one might expect for her to be laid-up for a good long while. The superior metabolism and brutal survival instincts of Miss Thalia Angelica Carmichael would not be silenced by a small mountain of mashed potatoes and gravy, fishcakes, and various nuggets of yummy (including chowdah!) that she attacked with such vigor. Thalia hit the ground running.

Now, one thing that did give her an honest smile was getting a shiny new haircut. She was almost giddy about that. Her hair had gotten a little unruly as of late, and decent stylists were damn hard to come by recently. It had been a while since someone perfectly crafted her once-ubiquitous bobbed pixie hairstyle. It felt really good. A little of her old self. Not to be mistaken for a woman who had fallen onto something that mihgt make her soft, that new haircut got plastered down with sweat very shortly after getting it. Keeping at her physical best and staying mentally alert was more important than anything else.

Thalia had even gotten a chance to speak with Ash about the four people she they knew in common; her cousin Alicia, uncle Caesar, and friends Astrid and Bridgette, the latter two being part of the reason she was the way she was today. He was forthcoming with hard facts and dates, how they died, what they did for him, etc., but the big questions - the ones that would have required an essay answer if it was on a test - Ash tended to avoid. Especially about Alicia Gonzalez. Those were the ones that she had the most curiosity about. Hell, she saw the man's eyes glaze over and him shut down, talking about her. Referred her to Tatiana about it. Something had to have happened.

Thalia even asked Tatiana about it finally, sick of the the runaround. It was right after Tati asked her whether she wanted to train or play cards. "Nah girl. Cards aren't my thing." She had nothing against a hand or five of cards, and had been known to on occasion herself. Not then, however. There was sweat that needed to drip and muscles to tone, yet. No matter how much they were willing to exercise or drill, Thalia was the girl that was up for it. As soon as that prosthetic got fitted to her, the young woman was giving serious consideration toward adding Ash's exercise routine in with Tatiana's. Now if she could only get some weapons to practice with, that and her shield, life would be such bliss. "Hey, tell me something..." Her voice dropped to something far quieter, as the answer to the question might not be something she wanted broadcasted across the room, "What happened between your Captain and my Prima? He ain't talking about it himself. Says ask you. Something go down that shouldn't?" Her tone implied a suggestion of possible violence or impropriety.

Before that could be answered, Thalia finally noticed what was on the television. She noted the reaction of the Captain, and saw a lot of eyes looking in his direction. It looked like she wasn't getting her answer right then and there, that was for damn sure. She even found herself getting a little choked up over the video. Thana had been a good friend to her for about a year. They bonded over the death of a man who really, really deserved it, and up until a few months ago they were all a pretty kickass group of apocalypse survivors. Then things fell apart. Thalia kept her eyes on the screen, watching a younger version of Thana with her mouth slightly open.

Hank Wright

Location: Quarantine (Conference Room)
Skills: N/A

The life of Hank was a fairly uncomplicated affair. Especially at this juncture in the Apocalypse. Personal connections could be counted on one hand and all of them were under the roof with him. Okay, so that was just Wayne, but still - keep things simple and life goes so much smoother. It's just how things worked out. Take for instance his work assignment. Very straightforward. The bedrooms needed to be tended to each day. Not all of them, either. Well yes, they all needed to be cleaned, but his responsibility was to only handle the men's ones. And he had help. It was the kid, Hunter. So long as no difficulty existed between the two of them, Hank had zero issues taking an hour out of his busy day of napping and regular meals to clean a couple of rooms with the guy.

It wasn't all fun and games, though. The variable diet to which he had become accustomed (read: whatever he could scavenge and/or hunt over the past few years) had left him with a bit of a reaction after sampling the cuisine of the region, that being anything prepared in a sophisticated manner with out the benefit of either buckshot or a crapton of preserving agents. It was still well, well worth the cost of camping out in his bedroom's crapper, making the occasional exclamation like, "Ah jeez, canya find another bathroom there, Sportacus? I'm making my own gravy in here! ...lumps and all, buddy. Lumps and all." The issue was knocked out the next day, when Doc showed up. One pill and down. Hell of a guy, that Doc. Still a more pleasant experience than waking up in the middle of the night after Wayne fired off salvo from his own personal ass-cannon. Just because he had an iron stomach it didn't make it fair that everyone else had to suffer. Or did it? "Cross we all must bear," he supposed, shrugging with an noncommittal "Eh."

When Shears showed up, asking after people about haircuts, Hank ran his hand across the stubble that uniformly covered the top of his head and his face. "Nah, I'm all good for a while here." Always an unnecessary bit of sarcasm from the man.

As Hank looked back over the first few days in Mexico Beach, he could honestly say that the only thing that bothered him was a lack of industrious work to keep himself occupied. He was the kind of guy to liked to accomplish something for the sake of getting a job done. Now, cleaning rooms was okay and all, but it did lack a sort of "job well done" sort of satisfaction that one might get in having a hobby or an occupation. Fishing might be nice. Maybe flipping out an alternator on a car. That'd be something he could get his hands around. Well, quarantine wasn't supposed to be a picnic, he supposed. He checked - no checkered tablecloth or anything.

He had noticed that Wayne had taken up with the Russian girl. Learning ballet. Okay, that was worth a laugh or two at first, but it quickly became tiresome. Hell, if he wanted to learn ballet and call himself a princess, then more power to him. It was probably good exercise. Now that Army Captain was doing more of an actual exercise regimen that he could get behind, if he were of the opinion to do so. His philosophy on the matter, if anyone asked him was simple: "I don't want to work out. I want to work." Something about being productive, even if it was as repetitive as chopping wood or digging a hole. Otherwise he was just wasting his time.

Then again, all of this lack of doing something to keep himself occupied was beginning to grow boring, too. Taking it easy was awesome and all, but out there in the world he had a lot to do just surviving that took his time and kept him busy. While he enjoyed relaxing (and he really did), maybe he should find something else to do as well. Perhaps that was why, when Panama materialized a deck of cards, Hank was all about it. "Hey, hey! Deal me in there, Mutton Chops," he said, making a beeline for the small group gathering to play.

Now, he did notice the video being played, and he also was able to pick out what else was going on in the room. Being as he had no dog in this particular fight, he decided to stay far away from the building situation. Well, except to mention to his fellow card players, "Yeah, I feel like I walked into a movie that's already halfway over. I'll wait for a commercial to ask questions, thanks. So! How do we bet? I left my 'walking around cash' back in New Hampshire."

Vladimir Alexandrov

Location: Road to Gretna Green From Port Annan (Ludwig's Path)
Skills: Fal'shbort (Passive), Tretiy Glaz (Passive), English

It was a decent, satisfying feeling when Ludwig announced that he had regained his tenuous grasp upon the topic of study. Big, black, flying tentacle-monster with more than one head. It seemed like this kind of a thing might stand out, being that the description of it sounded like a massively tall tale, even for a world that contained the various types of Soulless. Odder and more dangerous than anything he had encountered previously, yet no one seemed to know anything about it. Maybe they weren't asking the right questions. For that matter, the more scholarly Ludwig would probably be the guy to ask the right ones. In truth, most of what Vladimir wanted to know could boil down to the simple inquiry as to how one might kill it. There were other supporting questions, true, but how to kill it was by far the biggest and most important one. Vlad would be insanely happy if, among the ways it could be slain outright, hurling a knife did the trick. But that was a naive, "fingers crossed" moment. A very many problems could be solved by throwing sharp things. He wouldn't have that kind of insanely positive luck with this one, too.

Meanwhile, the thundering hooves of an ebon Brivaldi horse kept sounding rhythmically upon the ground, acting as the hyperactive second hand of a clock ticking down their time until they reached their destination. How long it would be escaped the reckoning of The Great Bazhooli, but from what he had heard from his German associate, it would not be extremely long by this point. Compared to what, he could not say. But the fact remained that they were closing in on their destination. Ever forward. In fact, the thought of it began to give a tiny bit of concern to The Great Bazhooli; it was often a given that, were something disruptive to be planned by opposition, it would be a higher probability that it would be revealed the closer one came to them. He had no idea if anyone this far north even knew who they were or which path they might take, but the way things had been going lately he didn't want to take any chances he didn't have to.

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