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Fate: No Exit - [FATE Core] No Exit Episode 1: A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing...

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"Is there a problem?"

,,

At the sound of the voice, Angie and Lana felt silent. A man in a black sweater-vest and a black blazer was walking away from the oak door marked Management Offices. Clearly he'd emerged from there. Clearly.

,,

The door must have just been very quiet, was all. So quiet, no one saw it open or shut.

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The man - nondescript, with jet black hair slicked back with pomade - smiled thinly. "James Duncan. Uriel Arcadia. Doctor Charles Volcov. So good to see you. How do you do. Angie. Lana. Can any of you tell me what is going on?"

,,

Lana looked at the Management representative wildly, then back to James, deciding she preferred the author's gaze to the Management's. "Mine, mine, mine," she said softly, cradling the coffee cup. "Mine, mine, mine."

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The Manager was patient, waiting to see what James, Uriel or Charles would do.

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* * *

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In the midst of the commotion, Emanuel Francis found the Kiosk. Waving his hand over it caused the screen to warmly light up.

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Welcome To Your Kiosk

We Have Everything You Need™

Welcome Back, Emanuel Francis

What Would You Like To Purchase?

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  • Furnishings
  • Aesthetic Decorations
  • Physical Media
  • Storable Foodstuffs
  • Electronic Devices (Please Note Subsection 14.9.6 of the Tenant's Code for the Westmarch Living Complex)
  • Toiletries and Miscellaneous Supplies
  • Press (Here) to Access Your Order History
  • Press (Here) For Assistance
,,

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Charles turned to the manager, "Lana is having a minor breakdown tied to a fixation on personal property. Judging from her intense emotional display and palilalia I would guess she is suffering either from dementia or some kind of anxiety disorder." He added so coldly that the sarcasm barely managed to creep through, "I was not aware this facility catered to the needs of the mentally disturbed. Perhaps it would be prudent to page the therapist on duty."

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"Useless crap"

But, wait a minute, how did that thing know who he was? Face recognition? A conspiracy theorist would jump on the "they chipped me" bandwagon. The aging architect was relieved he found himself smirking at the proposal.

"Haven't gone completely over the edge then" he muttered to himself.

,,

He slowly walked in the general direction of the Management representative presumably come from: his office. When he went back in, Emanuel Francis would have a look inside through the opened door. Part of it was to get as good an idea of the floor plan as possible. Part of it was that he had the feeling that it might become vitally important to understand the inner workings of this place.

,,

While he strolled along he made sure to keep within ear shot of the brewing situation at the cafe, but not entering it.

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"WhatI think the good doctor means to say," James said, "Is that she's flipping out over giving the coffee cup back. And she's not talking about it, so...just give her the cup. If she buys coffee here every morning, you're still making money off of her."

,,

He turned a little to spy Emmanuel walking along and added quickly, "Anyway, that's my thought...and unlike him, I won't charge you a couple hundred bucks to hear it. S'cuse me. I've gotta go meet an old friend."

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James Duncan, AKA 'Damien Drake,' broke free and hurried after the old architect.

,,

He'd always said in interviews that the key to writing good fiction is to have a clear line about what's real, and what's not. Get caught up in it, let it get into you, and you lose that detached God's-Eye view that was so vital.

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But how could he see old faces filtering into the place he lived and not wonder if there was something else going on behind the scenes? What had he gotten himself into, moving here?

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"Mr. Francis," he said as he got closer. "Hey...Emmanuel. I'm James Duncan...a writer. I did a consult with you awhile back. Remember me?"

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"A very interesting diagnosis, Doctor Charles Volcov."

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The Manager smiled thinly at Lana. "Lana, may I hold it for just a moment?"

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"... no, no, no..."

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"Lana. I am a representative of the Westmarch Living Complex. I represent where you live. I know where you live. Give me the cup, Lana. Now."

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The Manager's voice never flared and his temper never showed, but Lana turned pale as snow as she meekly handed over the cup.

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The Manager turned it this way and that, scrutinizing it. He held it under his nose, inhaling deeply. He licked the exterior delicately, looking lost in thought. Then he smiled. "Angie, she can have it. Management will reimburse you. Just order a new one through the Kiosk." He looked towards the Kiosk, his gaze travelling over Emanuel Francis for just a second. "It'll be here before you even know it."

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"Mine, mine, mine." Lana cradled the cup to her chest.

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"Yes, of course it is, Lana. Now, how about I take you back to your apartment on the 3rd floor? You can relax and forget that this whole thing ever happened."

,,

Lana looked to Charles, and to Uriel, and to the departed James, and to Angie, seemingly unsure of how to respond.

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Uriel shrugged, intent on not giving away any sign he seemed out of the complacent sphere. "Go ahead, Angie. Relax, you could use it."

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Emanuel Francis didn't remember seeing Lana before. He didn't really mind never seeing her again. It just bugged him, that he had the feeling that she would fall prey to this place, if she disappeared with the manager. Of course that was an unsubstantiated figment of his reawakened imagination. More than anything else, a spur of interest in the managers reaction moved him to interfere.

"Yes, Mr. Duncan. Fancy seeing you here. I would be interested to sit down and talk. Will you be here in a couple of minutes. I won't take long. I promise!"

Without waiting for Duncan to respond, he approached Lana. "I forgot something in my apartment anyways."

With what he hoped to be chivalry he offered Lana his arm: "Why don't I drop you of at yours?"

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Now THAT was a classy escape artist move, James thought with a surly touch of admiration. Now he had to choose between chasing Emmanuel upstairs with the wacko...and leaving Volkov behind...or staying and maybe never seeing Emmanuel again.

,,

Normally leaving Volkov wouldn't be an issue; he'd buy a ticket to do that. But that weird breaking of complacency...that focus that the anger brought him...he wanted that. He wasn't ready to give it up.

,,

Still. A gamble. He remembered, at one point, he'd rather liked gambles.

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"Actually," James said, strolling up to Lana's other side, "I'll head back with both of you, if that's all right. I got what I came for." He favored Lana with a smile, then met Emmanuel's eyes.

,,

You're not getting away that easy, old-timer.

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"The more the merrier!" Emanuel Francis made sure not to miss any part of the managers reaction as the three walked towards the staircase.

"Lana, you have to know that Mr. Duncan here is real bestselling author. Are you here to get away from the publishing circus or is this part of research?"

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Dr. Volcov approached Angie and spoke in a firm but coaxing tone he had formerly reserved for addressing grad-students. "Angie, how long would you say Lana has been... out of sorts?" He looked over his shoulder as the others began to lead the disturbed woman upstairs and sighed. "We'll talk about it later." He turned quickly and followed the others without additional comment, keeping his eyes on Lana in particular.

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"Yeah, well, I write under my pen name," James admitted with a shrug. "But I'm here because I live here."

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He eyed Emmanuel across Lana, sizing him up. It didn't click. Volkov might put something like this on just to mess with him, but Emmanuel? What did he have to gain from it?

,,

"So...you too? How long have you been here? Seems like everyone I know is coming over here these days."

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"That book you contacted me about got you lots of great press I am sure. But after the catastrophe I think I just wanted to get away from it all. Guess I ended up here..."

He didn't like that he didn't quite recall how that went.

"How long have I been here? Years? Sure feels like it." He involuntarily slowed down. There should be more concrete facts and details for his mind to latch on to. Was his age catching up to him at long last?

"You must be new. Should thing I would have seen you around otherwise, right?"

He enjoyed talking. Being in a conversation. Being engaged with something. He felt a certain urgency to not let it go, or he might loose it forever.

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OOC
(Mike) 4:02 pm: Okay, going to assume that Francis is making a Rapport check, so that's a +1 skill. Rolling...
(Mike) 4:02 pm: /r 4d6
(Mike) 4:02 pm: Warning ! Only IRC subset can be used (Type /? or /help for list of IRC commands)
(Kamiko) 4:02 pm: Ah.
Mike *rolls* 4d6: 3+4+2+6: 15
(Mike) 4:03 pm: One plus, one minus, so 0. Plus skill is 1.
Spending a FATE point to invoke "People are complex tools" would bring it up to +3, OR let Emanuel reroll. I'm going to assume it's a +2 to bring it up to +3. That means that he succeeds - with a cost.
Emanuel, Charles and James
"Sure, sure, sure," muttered Lana. "Sure, sure, sure." It was her one response to learning that James was a best-selling author, and to all the inquiries of the quartet.
The Manager and Emanuel locked gazes for a long moment. His expression was inscrutable for long moments, and then he was smiling. One moment he was expressionless and the next he was smiling.
"We can all go to the third floor together."
He took Lana by the shoulder. "Lana, these nice men and I are going to take you home. Won't that be nice?"
"Sure, sure... sure."
"I promise," he added, as they all headed towards the stairwell. "You'll forget all about this in no time."
Uriel Arcadia
Charles asked his question. Angie looked lost in thought for long moments. Then Charles was gone, and she sighed... and turned to Uriel.
"You recognized each other. I guess you can tell him when you see him." She looked fretfully side to side. "Lana hasn't... been the same... since she lost her favorite coffee cup."

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"Looks like it's gonna be the stairs." Emanuel Francis said as he opened the door to the staircase for their little procession.

"Too bad the elevator is broken! Can't remember the last time it worked, come to think about it."

"But I am sure the management would not rest or let itself be distracted until that and the other problems in the building are fixed, right?", he added as the manager passed him.

Let's see how many building and fire code transgressions this old architect could enumerate on their little journey through the complex. This might actually be fun.

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Uriel raised an eyebrow on that seemingly bizarre statement. "Just since she lost it? How long ago was that?" And yes, the time question was a stab at probing... Uriel needed to decide if Angie was involved in the mysteries of Management.

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Emanuel, Charles and James

,,

"It's an older building," replied the Manager as he gently guided Lana up the stairs. "Sometimes things do break down. Thankfully, we have Earnest. He just gives it a little kick and it lives once more."

,,

The stairs seemed to have decided to behave. Emanuel didn't spot any egregious violations, apart from the number "3" missing from the entrance to the third floor, the impression still left behind - so it was supposed to be there, but someone had clearly taken it...

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The manager pushed the door open.

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OOC

Emanuel, Charles and James are now on the third floor. It has the following Aspects:

  • Never Sit Still
  • What's Yours Is Mine
,,

Uriel

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"I couldn't say... it's been a while. She didn't leave her apartment for a long stretch and then when she finally did it was like - " Angie looked towards the door leading to the Management's office. "... we're not supposed to gossip too much about the tenants. It's not against the Rules - " Angie put a particular emphasis on the word that let Uriel know it was capitalized. "But it's frowned on."

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"Yes, Earnest is quite versatile." Dr. Volcov muttered. The patina of sarcasm in his voice would likely be lost on those present.

,,

He accelerated slightly to walk beside Lana and spoke in a soft, comforting tone which would seem painfully disingenuous to anyone who actually knew him but friendly and reassuring to everyone else. "Lana, would you mind if I drop by for a chat later on? Or maybe over a mug of something in the cafe? It's so rare that I actually meet other people from the complex. I'd be interested to hear your story."

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Emanuel, James and Charles

,,

The 3rd floor felt barren, but barren wasn't the right word. It felt... incomplete.

,,

There were tables with vases with no flowers in them. There were missing patches on the walls where paintings used to be. The entire floor gave the impression that it had hastily been lightly burglarized.

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As Charles spoke to Lana, the Manager put his hand on her shoulder. "Now, Charles," he said, the picture of politeness. "Lana's had a very taxing day. I don't think it's very polite of you to make impositions on her like that, is it? Lana, Charles is a psychologist. He sometimes lets his curiosity get the better of him. Don't worry."

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Lana looked fretfully, from the Manager to Charles, from Charles to the Manager, back and forth, unsure...

,,

This is now a Contest. The goal of the contest is to persuade Lana to either allow Charles to visit later, or to not allow it.

,,

The main players are Charles and the Manager.

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The Manager will be using Intimidate and drawing from the FATE point pool for NPCs for this scene (four, one for each PC in the game.)

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How a Contest works: Opposed rolls between Charles and the Manager, using whatever persuasion skill Charles wishes to bring to bear. The victor marks down a victory - two victories if they succeed with style - and the first to three victories wins. On a tie, neither side gains an advantage and the contest gains an unexpected wrinkle (a new Aspect that can be compelled or invoked for the duration of the Contest.)

,,

Players can decide if they want to combine their skills with either Charles or the Manager, or use their skills to create an advantage. If you have the skill at Average (+1) or better, you may combine it with Charles' roll to give him a +1 for every PC who does this. Alternately, you can instead create an advantage as per the skill rules (see below.)

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The other PCs can, of course, stay neutral and not actively contribute to the contest. I would appreciate if you let Charles and I know what you intend to do as quickly as you can.

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This is my first test of the Contest rules as well as the Create an Advantage rules, so please bear with me and don't hesitate to ask me questions.

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And with that...

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The Manager's Roll
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(Mike) 12:51 am: Okay, rolling for the Manager's Intimidate...

Mike *rolls* 4d6: 2+1+6+3: 12
(Lobby): Malachite has left at 12:51 am
(Mike) 12:52 am: So a -1. He's going to pay a FATE point to invoke his Polite to a Fault aspect, adding a +2 to his roll. With his
skill of +3, that gives him a +4.
,,

Charles, you're up.

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How Created Advantages Work
,,
(reprinted from FATE Core for the sake of convenience)
Use the create an advantage action to make a situation aspect that gives you a benefit, or to claim a benefit from any aspect you have access to.
The create an advantage action covers a broad range of endeavors, unified around the theme of using your skills to take advantage (hence the name) of the environment or situation you’re in.
Sometimes, that means you’re doing something to actively change your circumstances (like throwing sand in an opponent’s eyes or setting something on fire), but it could also mean that you’re discovering new information that helps you (like learning the weakness of a monster through research), or taking advantage of something you’ve previously observed (like your opponent’s predisposition to a bad temper).
When you roll to create an advantage, you must specify whether you’re creating a new situation aspect or taking advantage of an aspect that’s already in place? If the former, are you attaching that situation aspect to a character or to the environment?
Opposition might be active or passive, depending on the circumstances.
If your target is another character, their roll always counts as a defend action.
If you’re using create an advantage to make a new aspect…
• When you fail, you either don’t create the aspect, or you create it but someone else gets the free invoke—whatever you end up doing works to someone else’s advantage instead. That could be your opponent in a conflict, or any character who could tangibly benefit to your detriment.
You may have to reword the aspect to show that the other character benefits instead—work it out with the recipient in whichever way makes the most sense.
• When you tie, you get a boost instead of the situation aspect you were going for. This might mean you have to rename the aspect a bit to reflect its temporary nature (Rough Terrain becomes Rocks on the Path).
• When you succeed, you create a situation aspect with a free invocation.
• When you succeed with style, you get a situation aspect with two free invocations instead of one.
If you’re using create an advantage on an existing aspect…
• When you fail, you give a free invoke on that aspect to someone else instead. That could be your opponent in a conflict, or any character who could tangibly benefit to your detriment.
• When you tie or succeed, you place a free invocation on the aspect.

• When you succeed with style, you place two free invocations on the aspect.
A free invocation means that it works as an invoked Aspect that you do not have to pay FATE points for. Free invocations can stack on the same roll - three free invocations can be cashed in at once to give a single massive +6 bonus, for example.
A boost is a one-use Aspect - once used, it's gone. A situation aspect can be invoked or compelled until the contest is over.
,,

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I'm not sure if it is acceptable to use Empathy for this effort (justified as 'attempting to read Lana and figure out the right thing to say'). If not I'll have to go with Rapport, where the good doctor has no skill points whatsoever. I do have +1 in deceit, but it doesn't seem right to invoke here since he really does want to talk to Lana and help her (though his primary motivation is figuring out what makes her tick, of course).

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Persuading Lana (1d6=4, 1d6=3, 1d6=6, 1d6=3)

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So that's a total of 1. If he's stuck using rapport there's not much he can do to win this round. If anyone is willing to help to give him at least another +1 he will invoke 'Trust me, I'm a Doctor' to bring his doctor-ly air of authority into play for +2 for a total of 4 or better depending on assistance. If he can use empathy that gives him a +5 without spending any fate points and he'll stick with that for this round.

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(OOC - Thinking of using James' It's Not Real stunt to offer an advantage. Technically he'd be giving Lana an advantage in seeing through the Manager's bluster, but since Charles is the one trying to persuade her to do that, it seems reasonable to give the bonus to his roll. Would this work in this situation, Mike?)

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"Yes, a psychologist. And it has been my experience that talking about these issues, when a friendly ear is available, helps." He nodded to Lana, not smiling but with sympathy. "Being the victim of theft can shake our sense of security, even our faith in the people around us. Possessions, even a coffee cup, can feel like extensions of ourselves. It hurts when they are taken. Keeping those feelings bottled up won't make them go away and can even make matters worse."

,,

OOC - Mike helped me work out a third Stunt, 'What You Really Want', which I'll use here to make my rapport roll with empathy. If I can add in a bonus from James's Advantage that'd be great.

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"Ah. Well, thank you, Angie." Uriel assured her with a nod and a practiced smile, before he retrieved his coffee and moved over distance in the area, leaning against a wall near the turn to the Manager's door. Next step, get into the Management office and begin investigating what the hell was going on around here.

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Which meant first, looking at the door, and the strength of security procedures and running through everything in his head that he could remember...

,,
OOC
Investigate roll to Create Advantage [Discover Existing]

Jeremy *rolls* 4d6: 3+6+5+3

Thus Investigate 3 + Roll 2 = +5 total.

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"So," James said casually, crossing behind Charles to flank the Manager on the other side, "Do you always get this involved with the problems of the tenants? I mean, don't you have secretaries for this kind of thing?"

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The Manager looked away from Charles and Lana to glower at James. It wasn't just his words, but his tone was so insinuating that it couldn't just be ignored. "I take my duties to this Complex completely seriously, and that includes maintaining the well-being of the tenants."

,,

"Yeah, but...look at this place, man. Half the pictures are missing...the walls on the seventh floor are paper thin because you can hear people right through them. The elevators never work. It's got issues. And you're spending what...twenty minutes or so?...to give someone a coffee mug, at the expense of the Complex, and then personally escort her up to her room even though not one but two other tenants are doing the same thing. Just saying...some people might get the wrong idea."

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Argh, Mike...I lost the rolls! I am very sorry! But it all came out to +8 on James roll to cheese off the Manager, and +6 on his resistance. This creates the Aspect "On the Defensive" on the Manager, and gives our friend Charles a free invoke on that Aspect for +2 to his roll.

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James, Charles and Emanuel

,,

A +5 with Empathy beats a +4 by three, that's a Success With Style. The current victory tally lies at:

,,
  • Charles: 2

  • The Manager: 0


,,

Caught off guard by the unexpected assertiveness of James and Charles, the Manager set his jaw, and redoubles his efforts.

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"James Duncan, I am aware of the tendencies towards petty theft on this floor, moreso than you could possibly know. I am also aware of the noise complaints from the seventh floor." The phrasing put James off, slightly... James wasn't sure if the Manager was aware OF the noises, or rather, what the noises WERE.

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"I spent the time to see Lana back to her room because she is a tenant just as you are. If you were emotionally troubled - for example, Charles, if you were drowning your sorrows in the Daily Java because you had lost something precious... I'd like to think you'd want me to take an interest in your well-being too, instead of leaving you in the hands of people who may or may not have your best interests at heart." He gave James the side-eye.

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"Lana. You know me. You know us. I've delivered parcels from the Kiosk myself, straight to your door. I ensured that any that were unfortunately stolen were replaced free of charge. You can trust me. Explicitly. You know that." It was not a question.

,,
Down by two, the Manager goes for the hard sell. Rapport: ,, ,,
Mike *rolls* 4d6: 6+3+6+3: 18
[Centimane] 11:24 pm: hey, Rev
[Revenant] 11:24 pm: S'up bitches.
[Mike] 11:24 pm: That's a +2. Nice.

With +2 to Rapport, that's a +4. In addition, the Manager invokes an Aspect: Polite to a Fault, once more. That's a +6 that Charles has to top.

,,

Uriel

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Uriel discovers an Aspect of the door: Nothing Is As It Appears.
,,

Uriel realizes something that can't really be: the door to the Management's office doesn't actually have a working hinge, or a working knob, or a working... anything, really. It can't open.

,,

Which then leads to the question: where tdid the Manager come from?

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,, Persuading Lana, Round 2 (1d6=4, 1d6=2, 1d6=3, 1d6=2)

Looks like a -2 on this roll. With +5 to empathy and +2 from James for off guard that's only a 5 to his six... So I am going to spend a fate point to invoke 'Trust me, I'm a Doctor'. for my final +2, to wrap this up with +7. If any of these don/t cant't apply then I'll need to reconsider...

EDIT: I may have been posting too late last night. I have +4 to Empathy.. so my total here is +6 for a tie, if I'm reading it all right.

"The human mind perceives authority figures and peers very differently, Mr. Administrator Sir." He emphasized the Administrator's title. "If I were having such difficulties I would most certainly appreciate the opportunity to discuss my troubles with a sympathetic party, or potential new friends." "Lana, I have no desire to impose. I'll admit, I am curious about what has happened to you and the effect it has had but I also want to help you. If you are willing to accept." The Doctor's voice remains as cold as the linoleum of a hospital floor, the look of concern on his face more suggestive of someone considering a challenging puzzle than another person, but for all of that he is absolutely sincere and thoroughly confident.

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Assuming you spend the FATE point, that's a success. You have three victories.
,,

Lana nodded, finally, at Charles' efforts at persuasion. "Sure, sure, sure."

,,

At that, the Manager stopped, and was smiling again. "It is your choice, Lana," he said, knowing that he'd been out-hustled. "Any time you wish to have Charles over, you may do so."

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"Now. Since she's safely escorted to her apartment, that's the end of that for today, no?" He waved towards the stairwell. "Please contact the switchboard if you have any more inquiries to make of us. We are at your disposal."

,,

He stopped to whisper something in Charles' ear, and then went on his way.

,,
What Charles Hears

"And let's skip the drugs for this patient, shall we, Doctor? Because we know exactly how the others turned out."

,,

Lana gently pushed open the door to her apartment. Inside was a spartan and clean living space that looked like it'd just been moved into... were it not for the dust covering everything except the easy chair. There wasn't a single decoration to be had. If Lana lived here, she did so barely.

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It took Uriel nearly half a minute to stop willing himself to keep looking for all those missing, important door parts, because it seemed impossible that the Manager could simply emerge casually from a door that didn't open in either direction. Who would make a door that lacked that very vital, innate, taken for granted purpose?

,,

Then again, he reasoned, in light of the mysterious texts, the inexplicable battery draining, the message out of nowhere, Uriel couldn't deny feeling a clearly paranormal edge to the Complex, whatever secrets were lurking around hazily. Maybe Volcov - no. Neither, he, nor Francis nor that other acquaintance of theirs, no.

,,

Not yet. It wasn't right to approach them yet. As always on that sixth floor, its inhabitants just knew. Which still left the question of his next move unanswered. Hmm. Maybe if he went over his floor again, Uriel might find more evidence of strangeness. Connect the dots, penetrate past the Complex's guard to the answers.

,,

Settled by his decision, Uriel went and tromped back up the stairs.

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Dr. Volcov's face tightened but he said nothing as the Manager departed. That order of passive aggression would benefit from more intensive treatment than he was willing to provide pro-bono. Maybe electroshock therapy.

,,

"Lana, I appreciate your willingness to talk. I can meet you here or at the cafe later this evening. Whatever you feel more comfortable with." It wasn't difficult, but he was surprised that it took any effort at all to keep the eagerness out of his voice. Indeed, he was tempted to abandon his newfound associates and begin the session immediately. It had been such a long time since he had really examined a mind, let alone helped one heal. He could already tell it would be very satisfying to make some progress with this one, like lancing a boil full of trauma.

,,

Instead he added "If there's nothing else we can assist with at the moment, I presume we should leave you to your privacy?" He looked over his shoulder to make sure there was no dissent.

,,

OOC - Assuming we're heading out shortly Dr. V. would like to take a good long look at Lana's chambers, just through the door. In particular, he's curious about any signs of forced entry or missing property. They might have to be pretty obvious for him to pick up on them though.

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James watched The Manager stalk away with a feeling of mixed satisfaction and foreboding. He had the distinct feeling he was going to pay for that somehow, somewhen. He hoped it was worth it.

,,

The foreboding didn't ease when he looked back at Lana. Had he just delivered her to Charles Volkov? It'd seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but...he couldn't just abandon her now.

,,

"Yeah, hey look. Lemme give you my number. In case you need anything. The building gets kind of wild sometimes...everyone needs a friend, right?" He grinned at her and took one of his old slightly-faded business cards out of his wallet. "Uh, that one's old...one sec..." after patting himself down, he discovered that he didn't have a pen. "Do you have something I can write it with?"

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Emanuel, Charles and James

,,

"Sure, sure, sure." Lana nodded.

,,

Charles had a quick look over her apartment. "Spartan" was the correct word. Stock Complex furnishings. Stock Complex dishes and foodstuffs. Charles (and James and Emanuel) had a brief pang of memory. Their apartments had looked like this when they'd first moved in, before they'd brought in all their things - all the pieces of their lives they could touch.

,,

Lana didn't seem to have any things. It was a house without memories.

,,

It was, however, a house with a pen - Complex-issued stationary and pen, sitting on the kitchen island.

,,

Uriel

,,
Uriel leaves the Lobby without a problem. He makes his way to the sixth floor, which has the following Aspects: ,,
  • You're Always Right

  • Someone's Behind It All


Uriel took to the stairs, stopping for breath on the fourth floor due to his knee, and then made it up to his own floor.

As he opened the door, he bore witness to a shouting match, as a young man - couldn't be more than early twenties - was backed out of a doorway by sheer forceful argument by a woman twice his age and with three times the muscle.

" - you listen to me! You ever knock on my door with that claptrap again and I'm going to take a bat to you! I know who you work for. I know who sent you. I have rights and your'e not going to intimidate me! You just thank God and country that I don't have my gun with me or so help me - " She made a shooting motion with her fingers. "Pow."

The door slammed in the man's face with a sound that was much like a gunshot. The young man looked around frantically, and then he looked straight at Uriel.

"You."

His face contorted in a mix of fear, elation and rage.

"I knew it! You're following me, aren't you? It was you!"

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Uriel had - when confronted with the upsurge of craziness on the youth's part, to fall back to a classic tactic. Initiate polite noises while trying to feel this person out and see what was going on. Not that his neighbor down the hall seemed pleased with his presence, but she demonstrated similar vibes of off-kilter attitude.

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"I beg your pardon?" Show polite but perplexed expression, while Uriel's seasoned eyes started reading him for the tells.

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OOC
[Jeremy] 12:56 pm: Empathy roll to Create Advantage [Discover Existing]
Chat was mean and futzed with my connection, but Mike saw the roll and so it counts as a +1.
Total: Empathy 2 + 1 = +3.

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With an unpleasant, lingering feeling from the interaction with the Manager, Emanuel Francis turns his attention on Lanas apartment. Stripped of any personal notes, the intention of whoever was responsible could hardly be disguised.

In thoughts and in his element, Emanuel brushed past Lana into the apartment. With every fiber of his being he soaked up the essence of what these housing units where intended for. Why they were just the way they where.

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To Lana the insensitivity and intrusion of Emanuel was simply too much. In front of her apartment she started sobbing.

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With a manic glimmer in his eyes Emanuel Francis turned around to the two men just outside, pointing at Lana and gesticulating at the barren flat with the other hand.

"Do you see what this place is turning people into? They planned this. From the get go. They are all part of this I tell you! Think of it: They made it this way!"

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OOC
I am angling for an self-compel for "Aspect: I know who is to blame and it certainly is not me." here.

Emanuel Francis has a bad feeling about the complex, triggered by his letter in the morning. He doesn't have any proof; he just is the personality who likes to point fingers.

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Emanuel, Charles and James

,, ,, ,,
I'm going to have to say no to that self-compel, since I don't actually see how Emanuel is inconvenienced by it in any significant way.
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"No, no, no," repeated Lana as she entered her apartment. "No, no, no." She shook her head at Emanuel. "No, no, no."

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Uriel

,, ,, ,,
That ties the young man's Deceive score, but it's used to discover an advantage, so you still get a free invoke. ,,

The advantage is called "Can You Prove It?" - using it gives him a momentary flicker of self-doubt in the midst of a paranoid episode.

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"Don't lie to me! I see the way you, you, that you look at things, Mister... whoever you are. Ariel? No. Whatever. You're just like the man with the envelope. I read it and, and, and everything just - out of my way! I have to get out of here." He shook his head, walking menacingly towards the stairwell.

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Dr. Volcov paused for a moment, examining Lana's response to Emanuel's outburst. Sometimes a mild behavioral shock would reveal a useful feature of a subject's trauma. It didn't seem likely in this case, but at least it would save him the trouble of taking that approach himself later. He gave Emanuel a flat stare and gestured meaningfully toward the stairwell.

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"Come along, Emanuel was it? This is not the time or the place. Lana has had a very hard day. But I am very interested in your thoughts on the complex. Tell me, who are 'they'?" He used the same clinical tone he had when talking with Lana before. Behind his sterile facade there was a predatory glint in his eye. Could it be that Emanuel was suffering from paranoid delusions? It was a technically challenging dysfunction and one of his favorites. It was almost too good to be true. He tried to ignore his suspicion that the wild eyed old man might be on to something.

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James was more direct, he firmly took hold of Emmanuel's arm and tugged him back towards the door.

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"Buddy," he said, in a not very 'buddy' tone of voice, "Not okay." He finished scribbling his phone number and put it on the nearly bare countertop.

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"Sorry about this, Lana. Really sorry. We're going to go now. Hope the rest of your day goes better."

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He sets down Lana's pen beside the card with his number, there on the counter. He'd almost forgotten it wasn't his. Just what the lady needed. People taking the few things she had left. No wonder she was such a nervous wreck.

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"It's Uriel, by the way." Uriel corrected, and moved a tad to give him a sideline view of the young man. "I'm sure you're mistaken about me, but I am curious about what happened to you, all the same. I mean, something convinced you I have ill-intentions towards you."

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Simple hallucinations or paranoia, but enough was going on for Uriel to take the risk and hedge his bets. He might not really be any better off than his acquaintance here, after all.

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OOC
[Jeremy] 10:40 am: Rapport roll... don't know which action applies, but whatever...
Jeremy *rolls* 4d3: 1+2+2+2: 7

Ok - not really good, so I'll use the free invoke to reroll. He's basically being led to go back through the chain of 'evidence' and 'reasoning' anyway.

Jeremy *rolls* 4d3: 3+2+3+1: 9

Meh. Alright, total result is +3 on the Rapport roll.

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Emanuel, Charles and James

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Lana calmed down quickly enough, though she still glared daggers at Emanuel and waited for him to leave. Oddly enough, she showed no attachment to the pen - or at least, not any of the attachment she showed to the coffee cup.

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Uriel

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You get him to open up slightly.
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"You - " The man stopped, circling around warily, looking to and from the stairwell, positioning himself between it and Uriel, as if conscious that he would run. "Someone's been in my apartment. I know they have. Stuff's being moved around. And..." He lowered his voice. "I think they're the Men in Black. Not the movie, that was a false-flag meant to make them look personable, I mean the people who, who cover up UFO attacks and they all look the same and they know everything about you, I think they run this place - "

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"That's enough, Samuel."

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Samuel froze, looking over Uriel's shoulder. Uriel stole a quick glance and saw them - two members of the Management. Neither of them looked exactly the same as the Manager that the others had gone with in the Lobby, but they both dressed exactly the same. And though they had different voices - from each other, and the first Manager he remembered - they had the same accent, the same pauses... as if they'd learnt to speak at the same school.

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They were standing in front of the elevator door, which was marked with an Out of Order sign. They must have come from one of the other apartments. Right?

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"You've been bothering the tenants, Samuel."

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"The Head Manager wants to speak with you, Samuel."

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"Come quietly, Samuel."

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Samuel didn't come quietly. He turned towards the stairwell, and ran.

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"That won't be necessary." Emanuel Francis said and removed the James' hand from his arm.

He stepped close to Dr. Volcovs and looked deep into his eyes. "Don't tell me you can't feel it. There is something very off here.", he said quietly.

He turned away. "Let's continue this conversation somewhere else, Gentlemen. Has one of you found a place nearby, that would lend itself for that?", he said while slowly walking towards the stairs.

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Since Francis was clearly leaving, James didn't push the issue. He did follow him out closely though.

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"Of course there's something off," he replied as Lana's door closed behind him. "That doesn't give us license to go romping around in some traumatized lady's room."

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He scrubbed his hands through his hair, suddenly feeling really tired. How the hell could that be though? He'd only been up and around for a couple of hours so far, tops. It felt huge though, like more than he'd ever had to do or deal with in one day than he'd ever had. Which was bullshit of course. He was a busy guy. Lots of things to do. Productive.

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"Alright, I think we should head back down, find a nice place outside the Complex. There's a very nice front door, it's a bright shiny day, lets go wallow in conspiracy theory and a few drinks."

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Charles, James and Emanuel

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At this time, you are free to move as you see fit within the Complex. Let me know where you decide to go and I will describe it when you get there.
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Agrippina Solas

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It wasn't meditation. Not really. Agri knew from meditation, and staring out the window didn't quite qualify as anything but that. But still, it relaxed her. She needed the relaxation.

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Her apartment was sparse and utilitarian and calming, a neutral place where passion seemed to drain away. She felt calm here, looking out her window as the fog rolled in off the rivers. She found herself needing to relax more, since the act of walking down the hallway to the elevator or stairs set her on edge.

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People walked a little faster than was comfortable, on the fifth floor of the Complex.

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After a time, Agri decided that she'd had enough of staring out the window, and she rose and grabbed herself a beer from the fridge. She popped the top off with her thumb and hunted around in her cupboards for a glass, and then she paused, smelling the air.

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It was a rich, wet, coppery smell. It brought back a flood of memories. It was the smell of an explosion of stars behind the eyes, of grunting and fumbling to get a grip on a struggling man or woman - it was the smell of blood.

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She looked down at the beer.

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Fizzing and foaming over the lip of the bottle, rich with the thick head she liked on her booze, was blood. The bottle was covered in blood. For a moment, she thought she'd cut herself, but - but no. The bottle was fully of blood. A second ago it had fizzy beer and now, fizzy blood.

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She looked back inside the fridge. The top popped off a bottle of beer, sending the beer cap flying and ricocheting off the fridge door. Blood foamed over the neck of the bottle. Then the bottle next to it popped open, and then the next one, and the next one. A six-pack of bottle beer, gushing blood like a geyser, and the smell of it, the smell of it...

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The bottle in her hand shattered, and she stared at it, and she swore - she could swear, it was the exact same jagged cut that had once dragged its way down her face, scarring her for life, and she felt her arm rise of its own accord, bringing the bottle closer to her face, closer and closer, and the memory wasn't far away any more, it was right there, it was right there in this room -

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She blinked. The bottle was still broken, but it was covered in beer, not blood. She looked back in her fridge, and the caps had all popped off and the booze had all foamed over, but booze was all it was.

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All that it was right now, at the least.

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Lien Binti Siva

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Lien quietly adjusted the lighting in the room. Now that the sun was starting to set, she didn't want it shining straight in and waking up her little angel. At this stage, she needed her baby to have all the rest she could manage.

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The apartment was mostly babyproofed. There were just a few things left to do. She needed to put a little padding on sharp edges. And make sure that the electrical sockets were plugged. And she needed to buy new soundproofing for the door, because she was starting to hear things from the hallway again. Things that made her would make the baby upset.

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People heard a lot of things that made them upset, on the seventh floor of the Complex.

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She went to wash the baby bottles, and then paused as she heard a buzzing noise coming from one of the kitchen drawers. She pulled the drawer open, and flipped open her phone.

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She had no bars and no data and no wireless, which was odd. The phone was making some noise, muffled through tiny speakers, that sounded like...

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Her thumb hesitated. Then she took a deep breath and swiped her thumb across the screen, unlocking it. Then she felt her blood run cold at the video.

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It was the video. The one that had led to her being drummed out of the military. Her and Eric, the latter gently undressing her, filmed in secret by Jerald's hidden camera phone.

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She hit pause. It continued to play. Eric slipped his hands under her bra.

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She hit pause again, a third time, a fourth. It continued to play. She reached into the waistband of his underwear.

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She hit the home button. It continued to play. Eric swore he'd love her forever, and the memory stabbed at her like a knife, how wrong he was, how quickly he'd walked away when she needed him, when both of them needed him.

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She popped the back open and ripped the battery out, throwing the battery across the room. It bounced crisply off the carpet. The video continued to play... for a few seconds. Just long enough for him to swear that there was nothing more important to him than her.

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It was playing on its last reserve of power from the battery. Of course it was.

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It had to be.

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Lien took a deep breath. It was foolish to throw the battery. What if she'd hit the... the...

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Lien looked around, at the crib, covered in dust. She looked all around the apartment.

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There was no baby.

,, ,, ,,
Agri, Lien, both of you have gained a realization that something isn't right. You may react to this how you choose. You have full recollection of your inviolate memory now, and you have Clarity at +1 (a normal Complex resident is at +0.) You may react to this realization as you choose.

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