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Ash Holloway

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

As soon as the man indicated that he should have a seat, Ash complied. He would be lying to say that there wasn't a hint of calculation involved with the move. Part of it was a ploy designed to show that he was a military man who did not forget who he was, and that his background marked him as a person who could be trusted by these people, ergo also serveing to show that he was not too proud to understand and accept the authority of those present. He had at least demonstrated, or tried to, that he might become a beta male in the grander pack of Mexico Beach. So long as his group deferred to him and didn't do anything patently stupid, it might work in their favor. Chain of command, and all that. He didn't actually think that there would be an issue that required such deferment. Still, a respectable step in the right direction nonetheless.

If there was any piece of irregularity that could be applied to this situation, it was that Ash, formerly a Captain in the United States Army and once the leader of his own settlement in recent years, would now have to refer to a noncommissioned officer as "Sir". If he were an overly prideful man, he might be inclined to refer to him as a "lowercase s sir", owing to the fact that Gunny was a senior man and commander who deserved respect purely on those points, and the spoken inflection was identical. As it turned out, Ash wasn't a particularly prideful man. Just enough briefly to have the thought, but not enough to act upon it. It was a silly distinction in these times anyway.

Mentally shifting gears, Ash listened intently to this community's version of the Welcome Speech. He remembered Newnan's; it was very similar to Mexico Beach. It was a variation of the same one that he had heard Leann give when they were first getting established. Upon her passing, it (and everything else) fell to Ash to continue. It had changed a bit over the years following, though the intent behind it remained the same: We will help you. Even if we don't want you here, we will still help you. If you fuck with us, we will kill you. Don't make us regret letting you in. The biggest difference, so far as he could tell, was that they were willing to provide more to their newest visitors. The must have decent and renewable resources to allow for it, Ash reasoned.

All of this came through and during the next couple of minutes, during which time Ash was highly content to (now that he was given permission to be seated) quietly but quickly demolish contents of the plate before him. Another interesting holdover from is days in the service of his country, he could throw back food like a frontline soldier when given proper motivation. It was not a skill that he utilized very often anymore, but he was already a step behind everyone else with lunch and there was apparently a time limit involved. He continued to savor the coffee, however. He wasn't a savage.

When Ash's name was called, he stood dutifully and approached the cart full of temporary goods. He grabbed a pack, opened it instinctively to look for just a second, and spoke a soft but clear, "Thank you, ma'am." He was ever so slightly inflecting his Virginian accent, having recognized it in "Auntie" Claire as well. "It's a pleasure to hear a lady from the Old Dominion. Appreciate." He kept it simple. While he did appreciate what the lady was distributing she was not the person that he most eagerly wished to speak with. It was an attempt at camaraderie. Familiarity. Nothing more than manners, which tended to be more important now than they used to, sometimes.

It was possibly a risk, attempting conversation with the guy in charge without permission. Potentially unprofessional, whatever that really meant. Ash had been waiting patiently for word on a particular topic for a little while now. They knew why he was there, specifically, why he led his people toward Mexico Beach and what, aside for safety for his people, he was searching for on a personal level. They had polished and returned her dog tags, for Christ's sake. At this point in time he didn't even expect her to be alive. Too many small indicators were pinging on his internal alarms. Her own group arrived without her. It was confusing as all hell and he wanted some sort of an answer, even if it was to confirm what he suspected in the first place. Ash stepped in the direction of the Master Gunnery Sergeant. He did not approach fully as he did not with to push the boundaries of their trust in strangers. Moreover, he wished to remain respectful. "Sir? Ashton Holloway." He cleared his throat, "Thank you for the hospitality of Mexico Beach. I would like you to know, sir, that I take responsibility for the actions of my group, should issue or miscommunication arise. These are good people. I've trusted them with my life for years now. They're family, sir." Ash hesitated for a second, unsure of how to proceed. At the end of that second, blunt and straight seemed the only way to go. "If you'll pardon me, sir? Better to ask forgiveness than permission." It was a sentiment shared with him over a year ago by this man's daughter, and he hoped that he wasn't screwing himself over just now. "The only reason that we knew to come here is because of Lieutenant Commander Thana Martin. I care... She is important to us. We got separated. Thana made me promise to return her tags to her personally. Do you have any news, sir? Is Thana here?" Emotion threatened to color his voice. He kept it in check.

Thalia Carmichael

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

Retreat wasn't in Thalia's vocabulary. Withdrawal was. As was the phrase "advance to the rear". Whatever you wanted to call it, she removed herself from the situation with Tatiana and Jack, and their baby boy. Recent years had made her a little awkward socially anyway. Even back in the day, she was a highly independent, somewhat cynical young woman who gave very little thought toward the feelings of others, so long as her job got done and whatever contract her uncle's company had her on was fulfilled. She was considered striking as far as physical looks were concerned, though the drawing effect of that was largely blunted when she began to speak, or act, or parts of her history were made known. Or if anyone saw her work. Or when people understood the extent to which she would go when armed and motivated. Her experience in Eden was a prime example of the ruthless efficiency she could pour into a task without raising a moral qualm. These were not exactly friend-making qualities, however.

In ways, the apocalypse actually mellowed her out and forced her to be more of a team player. Score there, she supposed. Though her life out in the wilderness away from people didn't do a whole lot for her already strained ability to socialize effectively as of late. Especially as the strongest social influences in her life since this all began were Bridgette, Astrid, Lola, Thana, and Beatrice. These were the people who taught her to survive and function in a group. When that realization struck her, Thalia began to question how anyone around her was still alive. Anyone.

While that uncomfortable thought danced in her mind, Manny made a similar but much more tranquil comment about himself. Thalia let out a single breathy laugh, quietly commenting, "You're talking to the wrong girl for advice, Manny. I'm about two steps away from being raised by wolves at this point." Her actions did support the claim, instinctively looking to shield her back as she ate while squatting on the floor, after recoiling from air conditioning and starting to feel tense behind the safety of walls. "Anymorah, every day takes figuring out all over again how to fucking live. Gotta keep moving forward."

At about that time, Thalia became very popular. Maybe it was all that wishful thinking. She smiled at Tatiana when the petite Russian mom walked up to her and agreed to teach her ballet. It was possible that she didn't know that Thalia had a slightly ulterior motive for wanting to learn it, or maybe she suspected something and didn't care. Whatever worked, the young Mestiza was going to get expert instruction in coordination, balance, and a different kind of movement based dexterity than she had been previously exposed. Thalia had certain limitations now. It was time to work around them and get back to kicking wholesale ass. This was a step toward that. "Thank you. Talk tomorrow?"

From the corner of her eye, Thalia saw movement that she came to notice was the army guy, Ash, shoveling back food in such a manner as to make her cease coherent thought and stare for a moment. She didn't know much about the man, just what little she observed of him and any errant details that Thana may have dropped, but that one ability of his was impressive enough to want to start up a conversation. He was almost as good as she was at that. Even had this fork technique that she might be able to emulate for her own uses. Before she could start that conversation, one of the locals requested that she stick her stump in a bucket of some slimy purple substance. This raised an eyebrow on the woman, until the explanation was fully together in her brain what it was for. "Yeah! Yeah... sorry, gaht no idea where my head was. Okay." Thalia quickly switched chairs and delicately pushed what remained of her forearm into the strange stuff, down to a depth indicated by the "Tesla" guy. No sense in half-assing this. Not if this meant getting some of her ability back. "Hey, um, stupid question? Am I going to be able to hold a blade again? Or a shield, katar, something? I was righthanded, and that was... well, how I contributed. Ya know what, nevermind. Thank you." Beggars and choosers, she supposed. Thalia would work with what she had and figure it out. She would survive as best she could.

Then her name was called. Damnit. "Right here! Um, hold on. Heya Bea?" she called, "Can you grab my gift bag theah, girly girl? I've got a half hour stuck in Barney Jizz ovah heah. Pretty please?"

Hank Wright

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

Oh, Hank was coming to the end of the best damn meal that he had consumed in a long, long time. It was a bittersweet ending, as many relationships can be, wiping the last chunk of roll across a plate to get whatever remaining gravy he could from off the thing. He might even have attempted to eat the plate, so long as that blessed gravy was involved. Oh yes, this was the life. The the promise of actual clothing, laundered daily, and regular meals? Well holy shit, shinola, and whatever else he could pair with either shit and/or shinola. His mood darkened momentarily as he wondered exactly what the catch was. Were they going to fatten the lot of them up and shove them in an oven for a potential food source? A little Hansel and Gretel action? Hank shook that thought away from his forethoughts. It sounded a little too much like something you tipped a prostitute for; Hansel and Gretel action.

Hank kept this to himself, instead responding to Wayne with his nigh trademarkable sarcastic crankiness, "Yeah, ya got me there, Wayne. I wish I looked like you. Good pose though, gotta admit. When Madonna shambles her dead ass up to the gate, we can ask her to put you in the next Vogue video." He noted the first of them to be called, Tatiana, and while he didn't respond verbally to his comment, he did give him a slow nod. A nervous, frail woman with a baby out in the world? Something didn't seem right. That must have been a very lucky girl. Well, he'd do the Getting To Know You bit later on. Right now he had good food, good company, and...

"Hank Wright."

And his name was called. With a sigh, Hank stood. "Yeah, on the way." he stopped to set his plate where it needed to go. "Oh, that's one heck of a Southern there, lady. Thanks." It was commentary on her accent and an expression of gratitude for the pack of clothes and sundries. He turned to express a similar piece of gratitude to Gunny, only to see that the younger Army officer had initiated a conversation with him. Or was trying like hell to. Deciding that this was painfully awkward, or rather would be if he put his two cents in, Hank backed away slowly with his newly gotten stuff. He considered himself lucky that he hadn't accidentally stuck his nose into their business without realizing, and poured himself a big, refreshing glass of NOPE to go cap off his meal and parting gifts.

Returning to his seat, Hank looked to his buddy Wayne and asked him a pointed question. "You told him about the unicorn, didn't you?" There was no trace of sarcasm. "Eh, fuck it. All good." Still none. Things were as they were, and there was no hiding nor being ashamed, no matter who thought otherwise. He had his own demons to fight and wasn't in a position to judge anybody. Hank set his hands behind his head and prepared himself for a truly epic sit. He was a fan of a good sitting.
Hey. I accidentally hit enter on a heavily premature post. Could you please delete/hide this for me?

Thanks in advance. Link is below.


Dr. Swamp
Location: Shadowell Manor: Music Room -> Breakfast Room
Skills: Intelligence
Hit Points: 2

"Sewing room," mused Dr. Swamp with a grunt, receiving assistance from Amaranthine. He was not accustomed to accepting the aid of another; that much was certain as he somewhat uncomfortably raised his arm to allow for the smaller musician. In fairness to the situation, it was not everyday that he got shot, either. That detail tended to change his outlook on the situation as a whole. In another example of things which did not happen everyday, the Doctor enunciated a simple but well meant "Thank you."

Considering that the large houseman, Quinton, pointed up as he made his room suggestion, Swamp assumed that this was a jaunt that would require the use of stairs. Supporting this assumption, he pointed toward the breakfast room, taking them in the direction of the Central Hall, the only place he recalled seeing a staircase. Impromptu surgery aside, it might be a positive, curiosity-quenching moment to see more of the manor. Dr. Swamp might even try not to bleed all over its expected opluence. No promises. Shifting his walking stick into his other hand to accommodate Amaranthine, Swamp began to make his way in the direction indicated. "I don't suppose that you sew, do you?" he inquired of the Chanteuse. It suddenly occurred to him that his wound was not optimally located for him to treat himself.

Gilbert Summers

Location: Ville au Camp (Carnival)
Skills: N/A

Gilbert was not a follower. Even back in his mortal life, which is what he assumed he had once upon a time, he had proven himself a more than capable leader. Bloodthirsty, brutal perhaps, but a progressive leader of men with equal application of the laws that he established for his kingdom. He was first to charge into a battle, first to take risks on behalf of Uruk, and the establisher of the great walls that surrounded his beloved Sumerian city that served to make it a living stronghold against those who would attack it openly. Perhaps then, it was a concession on his part to submit to the situation that lay before him; walking along very familiar ground after a stranger, who was bringing him to an unknown being of obvious power.

He was okay with others like himself. People who shared the same type of history, if not exact span of eras and regions. His fellow Emendators. They might understand what it was like to be him. A couple of the older Paradoxes might fall into this category as well, such as Belladonna Crypt, who had existed longer than probably any other non-Emendator in the history of humanity. He did enjoy her visits. Truth be told, he was even okay with bending to the experience of The Dice. Evelina had a sense of responsibility about her that he didn't mind so much, and knew that attempting to condescend to him was futile and counterproductive. Even then, he considered her an equal whose judgement he trusted, ergo Gilbert was inclined to do as she asked. This mystery woman who gave no accounting of herself, who acted through intermediaries and did as she pleased? It was definitely a concession on his part to just go along with it all. But the "up side" of it all was that they were indeed about to receive answers.

Or something horrible would happen. Gilbert shrugged at the idea. It seemed obvious that he was going to be powerless to affect whatever was going to happen next, so there was no sense getting worked up about it. Time to flip that coin and see which side came up.

Gil followed Ben and stood outside of Management's trailer. He made sure to give a healthy amount of space. It occurred to him that this was tactically a poor idea, being in the middle of the Carnival where they could be cut off or surrounded by the people who very much outnumbered them. Being the Eternal Warrior that he was, Gilbert stood a great chance at survival if it came down to that, all things being equal. But the others? No, this was more than just him. Gilbert remained expressionless and serene as Management's entourage flanked the open space and she made her assisted egress. He took in as much of the scene and surrounding area as he could while still paying due attention to the woman before him. He raised an arm to about waist level with his hand outstretched, signalling for the Paradoxes present to stop. If something was about to happen, he wanted to be able to stand between it and them. Or to another point, he didn't want them in his way if actions turned to the violent.

Then she spoke. Gilbert's eyes went wide and his mouth started to fall open. He quickly righted himself, but the initial response was impossible not to note. She was obviously using the long, long dead language to make a point with him. Well congratulations, the point was well received. And that voice. When he heard it in his mind earlier, he knew that it was familiar. He just could not place it, which was massively uncommon for someone like him, who was a living record of history. His memory was, as the other Emendators, a living reference to the true and accurate accounting of history. It suddenly clicked.

"Siduri." From a time and place before surnames, before many of the credited accomplishments of human history, before titles were even common, the one word summation of a person, as spoken by another in its most condensed form. From before he knew he was what he was, before he even understood the concept of it all. The name took him back to when he was a disheveled warrior questing for greatness in what he now knew as a young time for civilization.

Gilbert removed the hat from his head and cocked his head to the side, letting his longer hair hang in the gentle breeze of the premature evening. A lazy but broad smile etched itself into his features. Was this genuine, or a socially disarming technique? Not even his words gave it away as he spoke. "You..." He gave a tiny, breathy laugh and shook his head casually. This look is different, though your voice does bring memories. It has been... forever, Siduri. If you would please, let us stay with English." He motioned to the others around him. "I believe it is the only language we have in common." He cleared his throat, continuing, "Now, what hospitalities do you wish of us younger entities?"

James Grady

Location: Ville au Camp (Carnival)
Skills: N/A

Well, whatever shit that was going to happen was going to happen now, apparently. It was on. And as much as James wanted to meet this new challenge with bravado in his heart and a bow on his back, neither of these things were so. The best that he could do was to follow along behind those that had been doing their thing for the past few... well, since the dawn of civilized man, with a half-eaten sandwich and a look of outer confidence that felt completely dishonest. The time was upon them, whether he wanted it or not.

James did get just a touch of a distraction, noting the hint of color on Andromeda's face. It was flattering, really. He made a mental note to attempt more well-meaning things for her. The look he might get was reward enough. Provided, of course, that they survived the next hour. That was probably an important caveat to the entire situation. Otherwise, he'd have the mild blush on his mind while whatever force separated each of his atoms from the ones around them, telekinetically eviscerated them all, or just bashed him to death with a piece of random debris. Oddly, The Ballad of Sir Robin began to play in his head, and for the first time he truly believed that he understood the lyrics and the intent behind them.

Sophia had no problems whatsoever following after Gil. Neither did Andromeda. There was no way in hell that he was going to hestitate any longer than it took to hastily throw together two more sandwiches, one of which was deposited into the front pocket of his overalls, and jog to catch up with his group. In the back of his mind, James began to have an existential line of inquiry: If combat against these people was a foregone conclusion and he had to shift into his Peccary Form, was the sandwich in his pocket going to shift with him? And if it did, would it be held in a sort of stasis until he changed back? What if he was a boar for a long time, like, days or longer? Would it still be fresh then? Could he eat it? I mean, as a boar he definitely could, but as a human his digestive system was a bit more delicate. Could he store other things indefinitely that way? Could he roast a turkey, stick the individual pieces into pockets, and have it still hot and juicy when he shifted back a week later? This demanded more thought. A lot more, and experimentation besides.

Before he got an internal line of thought that satisfied his curiosity, or a plan to make it happen, they were already there. Damn. Here it comes...

And then Management started talking. Gilbert responded. And the conversation became pleasant. This he was not expecting. Tentatively, James took a bite of the sandwich in his hand that, for whatever reason, he had brought with him. He chewed thoughtfully, took another bite, and involuntarily let out a quiet, "Hmm." When Gil referred to himself and those around him as "younger entities", James stopped his thought short. Still chewing on his ham and cheese, he gave Sophia a little nudge, quietly saying, "Oh, this here's some soap opera shit." Looking to Andromeda for support on his opinion, "Right? Wish I brought me some popcorn..."

Vladimir Alexandrov

Location: Port Annan (Inn)
Skills: Fal'shbort (Passive), Tretiy Glaz (Passive), English

It was a curious looking man that approached The Great Bazhooli, a man of middle class bearing and most assuredly of local color. The type of man who worked for a living but did not labor, persay, unburdened by the trappings of anything resembling nobility and yet elevated beyond the drudgery of the most common of men, plying social skills and financial knowhow to provide for himself and his people. Vladimir could respect this. It was not as dramatic a living as he would have preferred, but obviously had benefits. If only he wasn't so godawful butt-ugly, Vlad might be able to continue looking him directly in the face for more than a minute or so without having to adjust his focus to something else, anything else in the background before going for another round of polite eye contact and garrulous conversation.

Seriously, he didn't know what was so offputting about the man's appearance, it just was. Maybe it was the dental status of the man. Maybe it was the mutton chop sideburns that looked like they could be weaponized. (Possibly something to look into?) Maybe it was the man's comparative height to weight that, combined with the eye bags and lack of neck made him think quite unfondly of a great, BRARPing toad. Far be it for him to be as rude as to say so aloud, however. He would just have to get used to it. After all, their acquaintance was lasted for all of one sentence that included an initial greeting. Vlad wasn't really giving the guy a chance. He shook off such thoughts that were obviously rooted in negativity and entered into an exchange that spoke to the mans business and his own need of said business.

"Nigel Ownerand!" he began, taking the man's hand into his with friendly gusto, simultaneously pressing a coin into his palm. It was good to meet the man; Nigel Ownerand, Operator of this Tavern. It was also very good that he learned from the man's opening the proper pronunciation of the word "tavern", which had recently been a bothersome mystery for him. That little piece of knowledge was more than enough to allow for The Great Bazhooli to overcome his psychological aversion to Mr. Ownerand's appearance. And good on Vlad, too - growing as a person. "I am Master Vladimir Dmitrievich Alexandrov, and is very pleasing to make the meeting of you." He swept off his tall hat and gave the man a grandiose bow, stepping back to do so. "Myself and my peoples are on a trek of importance, and require the foodthings before next part on the road. Vhatever is plentiful, vhatever is ready. If for please? No fishes. My friend has no tolerance for the fishes today." With an eyebrow raise, he confided, "For me, I am liking your country's Fishes & Chips. But is not for him. Eh." Vlad gave a shrug and waved away the thought. Having two more vith me. Thank you very much."

Vladimir gave a look around the tavern, curious as to who may be nearby. Partially out of curiosity and partially out of caution. There was no telling who might be sizing them up as he spoke so openly.

Reginald Keystone

Location: The Ferry (Sun Deck) -> Benha (Docks)
Skills: N/A

To hear the Captain, it sounded very much like there was an investigation proper about to get underway. Moreover, the more clearer the boat was of nonessential personnel during this period, the better. Naturally, nonessential personnel meant guests, paying or no. The thoughts here had to go toward possible pitfalls of this plan. For Reginald, that came in the form of wondering if it was members of the staff perpetrating these acts of theft and not a guest. It was a difficult time for many people in Egypt; country in transition and whatnot. There was no telling if the motivations of those responsible were simple survival, simple profit, or something more sinister.

In better composure since the incident with the Corporal, Reginald addressed the Captain with optimism in his voice, if not completely in his head. "Ah excellent, my good sir. I wish to thank you once again for looking into our dilemma, and for your continued hospitality this morning. I've no doubt this shall be handled readily." He gave a curt bob of his head and rose from the table, intent on meeting the day head on. Of course, he really wasn't sure what that would entail, so perhaps it was best to simply go with the flow of the day and react accordingly, until such time as they could get back underway.

Part of this philosophy of taking things as they came was to keep primarily out of the conversations around the breakfast table that did not directly involve himself. Oh, the Lord Major listened. He liked to listen. Maybe not so much concerning the vomiting habits of Vera that morning, but the rest was an interesting collection of observations and such. Most especially, he took note when the Captain described a place just outside of town were persons interested in Egyptian tiles might take a look. Of the persons in his Fellowship, the only person that Reginald knew of with knowledge of ancient tiles and other items of that nature was Vera, unless someone eluded him. Possibly her new assistant, that Mr. Zalil? Hmm... he may have to bring something up when they were ready to disembark for their day spent locally.

He did finally reenter the discussion when Josephine reported another theft, and wished to speak to Vera. "With regrets, the Lady Munn is quite indisposed. If Miss Benaszewski is to be believed, it is an illness most violent in nature that keeps her bedridden for the day at least. Perhaps our fortune in the matter lay elsewhere this day." The last bit was spoken with a hair of derision. But he could not deny the fact that some force or another seemed to be channeling them in a specific direction.

- Benha (Docks) -

Necessary paperwork was tucked away; meal vouchers, ticket, identification, etc., and Reginald was feeling the coming curiosity of the town of Benha. Being as he was in the area for a good, long while in comparison to most people not native to the area, he had been to many ports of call along the Nile on business, though strangely he could not recall if he had been specifically here before. Or if he had, perhaps he just sent off underlings to handle his affairs while he sat back and made the big decisions. He waited near the gangplank for a little bit, eager to speak with whomever of the Fellowship was going to be joining them in town that day. One such person was the American lady, Lauren, with a highly valid question. He responded, "Oh, Miss Ridgeway, I've no doubt that we shall be arranged as the fates would have us, be it together or separate. Perhaps a happy medium to planning against destiny would be to agree to meet at one of these local eateries for the midday meal, wot wot? We do as we shall, within reasonable expectations of making safe decisions, and reassemble for luncheon. Tell our tales then, hmm?"

Haring Reddish

Location: The Ferry (Sun Deck)
Skills: N/A

Reddish was animated as he ate. Improper in action, certainly, but nothing in and of itself impolite in nature. He responded to the eyebrow raise of the Captain with a friendly smile and warm expression, made around a mouthful of food that was never meant to be a sandwich, yet here was given that very form. The monosyllabic mentions that he was making concerning the quality of his breakfast were like wise quieted for the sake of conversation, eager as Reddish was to understand what the Captain was saying. One point grabbed his attention in particular - the one about him finding his own passport in the town's bazaar once. Yes, this was an avenue of investigation that he was going to have to look into.

"Ah... Lord Major?" he spoke slyly, after having swallowed the last bit of his poached egg & hummus breakfastwich, "Is this to mean that you shall not be requiring my services, nor do I have any standing orders in the interim Sir?" He placed one hand atop another and leaned forward, an expectant look on his face.

In a dry voice; ever so dry of intonation, Reginald responded, "No. That will be all for the foreseeable, Corporal. You are dismissed." And then he braced.

Reddish rapidly stood to attention, snapped a salute so crisply that his hand seemed to ruffle the very air around his brow, and replied, "Yes, Lord MAJOR!!!" and moved to bound off of the Sun Deck, doggedly in pursuit of his own ends (which were to involve the acquisition of developed photography and delivery of articles of laundered clothing, in the extreme brief). The arrival of Josephine paused his hurried egress in its tracks, as did her emotional report concerning the theft. Reddish took the initiative to reply to the young starlet, his words coming as a realization to himself even as he was saying them aloud. "Madame? Miss Clarke, if I may be allowed, please?" He gestured toward her and gave an eager, hopeful nod, "It occurs to me that they shall be postponing services on this vessel because the staff will likely be tearing the place apart, looking for the missing items. Likewise, it occurs to me that as soon as we dock, the items may very well leave the boat. There is a bazaar just in town, Miss Clarke. The ne'er-do-well responsible might consider it quite the cunning move to rid himself of it there for fast profit, if you take my meaning, ma'am. Whist the riverboat's dutiful men handle things here, p'raps we might ...hmm... yes! Broaden our chances, if you will, of locating your grandfather's watch on shore."

Reddish moved to stand beside Josephine, motioning out toward the city docks growing steadily in the view from the side of the boat. "Let us most certainly see the little shops. Let us taste the local cuisine as well. And while we do precisely that, we shall be doing something about the situation that the lads on the boat cannot. Otherwise, I will just have to go ashore and beg, borrow, or pilfer every pocketwatch that comes into the bazaar this morning and hope one of them is yours. I should much rather have your help."

He flashed a smile the he assumed might be disarming and began to make his way off of the Sun Deck. "Do please join me, if you would be as understanding of my social shortcomings, Miss Clarke. I've a task ahead of me." The Corporal continued on his way down to the gangplank, awaiting the push of the crowd departing the riverboat. He could handle the delivery of clothes and developed pictures later on that day. For now, it was clear: The fates had their group pointed toward Benha. Far be it for him to tempt fate. Except for the times that he did, anyway.

Caesar Gonzalez

Location: Chicago (Church)
Skills: N/A

Caesar grunted a monosyllabic affirmation and reached across the desk. He took the notepad and pencil, carefully mulling over what he was to put down on the paper for his brother to read and interpret. Granted he would have the final say in the message that went back to California. This was, essentially, keeping him in the loop and asking him to handle some of the communication in the meantime. This meant that he would have to trust a little of the verbal coding, both in English and Spanish, that they had been employing. More importantly, he would have to write some of it down and give it to the Church. But if you can't trust servants of God, who can you trust, right?

Yeah, Caesar's mild paranoia had served to keep him alive this far. But when every means of communication was believed compromised, how does one shut out those who might get a message across quietly? He came here for a reason. So he started to write. It was a slower affair as he tried to summarize the situation and keep it simple, while expressing urgency. Moreover, there was one concept that he, Benicio, Maria, and his niece would know. Keystone too, as it came from the first meal that he had prepared for Caesar upon arriving in Justice. It didn't appear in any of his previously used correspondence and was an already established series of phrases, though it had not been utilized yet. It implied trust, and the knowledge that shit might be going down. Combined with some basic Security Procedure phrasing and the unknown element of the Church as a go-between, Caesar had the makings of a secure communication that directly informed his people to vacate and wait for instructions. It felt good to be going Old School with this.

"The Irish..." mumbled Caesar as he wrote. He hadn't dealt with them a whole lot in his history, though there was a bit of fun when the East Coast offices, especially the Boston office, was being established. "They celebrate Cinco de Mayo like it's their holiday. Don't even do it right. Any excuse to get hammered." The accusation wasn't entirely fair, seeing as most of the Irish he did have the pleasure of meeting were merely bloodlined from the island but American born. "Eh, I guess it's as bad as Mexicans pinching each other on St. Patrick's for not wearing green. People are stupid." Seemingly satisfied with what he had written down, Caesar placed the notepad on the desk and slid it back across to the Father. "But the Irish hold up the Church in their part of the world. And they're not afraid to fight for their families. Could do worse." He tapped once where he had written, continuing, "As much secrecy as you can. Nothing that leaves a trail. Gracias, Father Pearson. Tell me how I can repay the Church for its help."

Caesar had a feeling that he would have to fund a new wing for his chapel soon. If this worked, he was actually fine with that.

J. Keystone

Chicago (MSS Chicago, parking deck)
Skills: N/A

The casual discussion about Adele was serving to put Keystone at ease. When he realized this, he mentally instructed himself to get back on the clock. They were there for deathly serious reasons. Emphasis on deathly. People had died and more would before all this was over. This was not a business trip for the purpose of making friends and contacts, though if Keystone thought about it, it certainly wouldn't hurt to do just that. He wasn't a Gonzalez with their deep pockets and far reaching family. He was essentially alone in the world, except for a son that he didn't know he had until recently. So yeah, he was going to stay vigilant. But he was going to engage in pleasant conversation with people as he was able to. "Karaoke? Bloody 'ell, I've got to get snookered pissed to sing karaoke, Miss. Still ain't pretty, neither. I'd 'ave a go, long as no one minds being seen with he afters. Heh..."

The part that got him was the bit about how Claire had met Alicia. It was very possible that she was trying to get the illustrious Ms. Adkins to sign something for him. It fit with the time period and the fact that she knew how much of a fan he was. The thought of it even put a smile on his face, sad though it was. Keystone didn't know if he truly loved the woman, but she was a damn good friend and teacher, and a lot of fun besides. They hadn't gotten to the part where they discussed what they were to each other, which to his mind right then explained why she never told him that she was pregnant. Whatever they were, the gargantuan Brit missed the hell out of her. End story.

The next part threw him for an utter loop. Natasha Brinne. Dead. He had read the dailies on security tasks and was present for a lot of what went down in Justice while Caesar was in Mexico. The old man had asked them to background check that exact name, and they had done so very quickly and thoroughly, considering the time allotted to the task. There were a couple of suspect things in her background, mostly by association with a member of Juno. Maybe there was something to it and maybe there wasn't; she was a doctor after all and had a decent enough reason to be acquainted with a respected medical professional in Justice, Juno or not. All the same, Caesar might want to know about this.

Keystone got an excuse to send something from his phone, as apparently it chose that moment to let him know he had a message waiting. "Ah. 'xcuse, gotta take this." It was from Cecily. He honestly didn't think that he made that big of an impression, though he did mention something about reaching out if he was needed. This was probably the latter more than the former. He hurriedly cut a message back to her:

Not alone now. Emergency, or can text?

And then another immediately afterward to Caesar:

Natasha Brinne dead. Friend of Claire. Funeral she's going to. Advise.

Jogging up behind Claire, he casually thanked her. "I 'preciate the 'ell out of this, really. Um, I think Boss was saying something about a surveillance pack? Binocs, shotgun mike, etc? If it's a difficulty, we can throw it in on my expenses." He was looking at the lady like he wanted to say something else, but was debating the prudence of doing so.

Ash Holloway

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

The words of the doctor were taken with altruistic intent. To paraphrase the scripture on the matter, "Man shall not live on coffee alone." No matter how much he may try sometimes, as was habit from time to time when coffee was available. Ash nodded a quiet affirmation in Doc's direction. It was kind of him, but unnecessary. He had full intention of taking a meal with everyone else, he merely wished to make sure that the rest of his group got something before he did; a tiny and possibly ceremonial action designed to ensure that those for whom he took responsibility had what they needed, even if he had to go without. The moment that Riley and Amelia acquired plates and began to fill them (and then actually Hank, not that he owed the man anything but he did let them go before him and there was still plenty), Ash did the same.

The erstwhile Captain had been involved in multiple relief efforts during his time overseas; various assignments to places that most Americans hadn't heard of across three continents where the unifying factor among many of the indigenous peoples was hardship. He had seen what was given to these people to eat at first, and he was fully aware of why. He and his group were better off than many of the people he had met in his career. Better - not exactly at their best. Nor was he. His repast consisted of mashed potatoes, gravy, and a fair amount of that chowder that he saw the older gentleman ponder over the pronunciation thereof. Soft, readily digestible, filling. And as it turned out, really goddamned tasty. He would have preferred to supplement the meal with liquid nutrients or a multivitamin (as was standard for possible malnutrition), but that was simply a matter of habit and military protocol. He was immensely grateful for the meal. And if all he was lacking in a apocalypse was a bottle of One-A-Days, he was still living a blessed existence.

Unfortunately, he was only a few bites into it when he heard the telltale rustlings of a commander on the approach. As the trio entered, Ash immediately recognized the gait and posture of a seasoned military man. He rose, stepping out from behind the space of table he had chosen to dine upon so as to see and be seen by these people. He kept his own posture level and stance straight, not quite snapping to attention but assuming a ready position, as if waiting to be called upon. So much as his stomach raged against the interruption of its filling, Ash's rational mind and military training held a plentiful reserve of personal resolve. That resolve was rewarded, if one can call it that, by the older man noting his presence and seeming to bore a hole through him with his eyes, followed by an introduction. Macsen Martin. As in Master Gunnery Sergeant Macsen Martin, United States Marine Corps. The man who he was here to see, and the man mentioned first and foremost when he met with the welcoming committee north of there just that morning. And it seemed like the man knew who he was. The Captain returned his gaze respectfully, letting the man see him without adopting defensive thought nor action.

Until he was given the nod to return to his space at the table or take other action, Ash was going to abide by stoic protocol concerning a commanding officer entering the room.

Thalia Carmichael

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

Thalia didn't want a kid of her own. That was a pretty cut and dry standard for her. Maybe one day she might - there were a number of years left for that - but another little Carmichael/Gonzalez running around? No ma'am. Still, the sight of that baby brought something almost positive to her face. A sort of glow, really. Ever since she was ten or so, Thalia was raised in an environment where family was the most important thing in her life. La Familia looked out for each other, because in the end that's all they could really count on. It made her clannish and ever-so-slightly distrustful of outsiders for a while, until circumstances forced her to reevaluate what she considered "family". Habits died hard when picked up that young. Seeing a baby, though? One that survived the world out there? It threatened to bring out warm and fuzzy instincts to accompany her newfound glow. Such a thing might be detrimental to her reputation.

The glow dimmed just a little as Manny approached. Thalia had not meant for this to be a group meeting, rather just a quick and informal "hello". Tatiana seemed like she could break down at any moment, and after seeing the scarring on her skin while in the shower room, she thought the young Russian mother could use a friend. She was about to attempt light conversation or offer to feed the little one for her when she began to exhibit signs of further stress and spoke to her husband (?) in Russian, a sign to Thalia that they were making her nervous. It was the opposite of what she was going for. But she did hear something that unexpectedly made her a little more upbeat. "Ballerina?" she repeated quietly. That... gave her an idea.

The response from the man with her also gave Thalia a sort of lifting feeling. She extended her hand to Jack and said in direct notes, "Hey, it's killah to meet a fellow Masshole. From ahh... Downtown/Beacon Hill area, I guess. Just outside of wheah they had money." It was true, mostly. That's where her mother was from, that's where she was raised until she was in double digits, and that's where she returned to go to school, then later work. "That and Monterrey. It's complicated."

She was obviously making Tatiana nervous. Her bring nervous put Thalia on guard. Her face got a little more serious, and she stood straighter. Maybe it was time to back off. Maybe it was time to back off two minutes before she decided to walk over there. The last thing she wanted to do was break into a fistfight with a couple carrying a baby because she unintentionally spooked them. New people getting too close, and all that. Baby aside, she still hadn't regained her full sense of balance yet and only had one fist to scrap with. Of course, her mind would go there first. "Hey, Manny? We should find someplace else to be right now." She looked back to Tatiana, "Can you teach me? Ballet, I mean. Could you... Um, we can talk lateh, I guess." Thalia began to back away from the couple and their shared tiny human, looking for a seat elsewhere. "Good to meet ya." she managed to say, just prior to the doors opening and admitting a very clean cut looking older man, claiming to be the Executive Officer of Camp Mexico Beach.

Thalia clammed up and tried to take in as much detail about the people who had just entered and the stuff they brought along with them. Nope, nothing to do but find a spot to sit and listen to the man speak. Who knows? She might even learn something.

Hank Wright

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

It would almost be accurate to describe Hank's action as a "saunter", as if it were possible for the man to move in any manner that appeared slow or relaxed. Especially carrying a plate of food. It had become a sort of curiosity in years recent; eating food from a plate. A rarity, really. At least since he and Wayne were politely asked to leave Amish country at the end of a shotgun. It was amazing how easily one fell back into the habits of civilized society. Just about as amazing as how quickly one could fall out of them. Nevertheless, Hank was moving at mid-saunter, carrying an actual plate of very yummy things over in Wayne's direction.

He did note a certain lack of solidarity among the other people that he came into this latest chapter of the epic adventure that was his life. Maybe it was something he said. Hank pondered the implications of it all for a second or two before realizing he was wasting moderate brainpower on something for which he gave nary a shit. Besides, food. Hello? Remember food? Yeah, he was being silly. The others were fine, he was fine, everything was fine, food. They could use a break from the general (but well-meaning) assholery of he and Wayne, anyway.

But the comment about his appearance simply would not stand. Oh it could, but he just wasn't going to let it. "This is gonna grow out, Maldonado. I'm afraid, ah, that your fugly is permanent. Sorry, pal." A little jab back, but he did take a moment to judge his buddy's assessment of the gravy. It was the crude method of poking his pinky into the stuff on his plate while still sauntering over to the chair that Wayne had pointed out for him, and then jamming it into his mouth. Hank stopped for a second, nodded approvingly, and agreed, "Well holy shit - this gravy." It invoked a sense of gnawing hunger in the man, whose pace quickened until he found himself in a comfortable chair, horking back the first truly good meal he'd had in ages. "Hmm. Forget the beer I said earlier. Bottle the gravy. They'll make a fortune."

Then of course, the capitalist in him wondered in the back of his head, "How might someone get ahead financially in the apocalypse?" It was a head scratcher. Leaning over to his steely cohort, he murmured, "Mental note, Maldonado: Reinvent toilet paper. It's a good idea." He flashed a quick thumbs-up and made a clicking sound with his tongue, then resumed his meal.

Hank slowed his intake of yummy things when Gunny arrived, but did not stop. Just because someone was in charge, that was no reason to abbreviate meal time for refugees. Thinking about it, that was pretty much what they were. No shame, just a statement to their situation. He did note the actions of the younger military man from the other group tbat they vame in with, though. There was something else going on there. Lucky for Hank, it didn't involve him. He kept to eating quietly and listened respectfully to what the man had to say. Don't screw them over? Awesome. He could do that. Next?
Dr. Swamp
Location: Shadowell Manor: Music Room
Skills: Intelligence
Hit Points: 2

The sound of the Chanteuse's voice in the room caused Swamp's head to perk up. She was supposed to be performing as accompaniment with the four creepy musicians somewhere across the building. Her being here was unexpected. The Doctor narrowed his eyes, contemplating what it could mean. It was perhaps a dangerous position for her to be in. Then again, a half second of consideration cemented the undeniable truth that being anywhere near this manor was indeed a dangerous position to be in. Still, another had demanded response from him first. He would hate to disappoint. "Perhaps, Professor." he conceded, stepping gingerly away from the wall upon which he had been leaning, readying himself to submit to a search from the much larger man in the room. "But you haven't met me yet." The capacity for smiling sarcasm was much reduced thanks to the seeping injury upon is side; reduced but not altogether gone.

Nevertheless, Walnut was correct, as was revealed for all to see (as well as his face) with the removal of his mask. He was a very dead man. Was that how they were all to be identified? In death-by-intentional-misadventure? It seemed such a waste, at face value and for other, more edifying reasons to the good Doctor. "This was all quite unnecessary." he spoke with audible lament, wincing from his injury all the while.

After being manhandled by the much larger Quinton and given a clear verdict, he addressed Amaranthine more directly. "The Professor is a dangerous woman, Chanteuse. Some of her ammunition decorates my ribcage as I stand. You should stay clear of that one." He kept his voice cool and nodded knowingly in the direction of Walnut. A sudden sense of clarity sparkled in his eyes, as if puzzle pieces formed of icy fact suddenly clicked together in the recesses of his mind for form a more cohesive image of possibility. "I would be wary where you are seated in her presence, as well." There was no accusatory look on what little showed of his face. If anything, his voice actually sounded a little impressed. "Perhaps we should go, Amaranthine."
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