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Trinity RPG - Lessons

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<H1>Lessons</H1><H3><A HREF="mailto:lordschmit@aol.com">by Chris Schmidt</A></H3>
<HR>Fernando Silva sipped some red wine as he watched the countryside go by outside the window. The limo drove casually along the back country road, in no real hurry. Silva himself was rarely in a hurry for anything.

Tall and thinnish, the Brazilian man wore a fine cut suit of his nationality's design. His hair was short-cropped, his face clean shaven, his nails manicured. Everything about Fernando spoke of a carefully kept appearance. Fop was an accurate, if rude, word when describing him.

In the seat across from Silva sat a young red-haired woman. Pretty without being beautiful, she had a freckled Irish face and she kept her long hair pulled back into a ponytail. She dressed smartly, but looked as though she was unused to wearing anything more expensive than farm clothes. Her demeanor was part nervous, part curious.

"So where are we goin', again, Mr. Silva?" Her accent betrayed her Irish heritage as much as her face did.

"All in due time, Francesca. We are going to take care of some business. You will see more when we arrive at our destination." he spoke quietly. Silva had a theatricality about him, as though he were always on stage. His every gesture and spoken word appeared measured for maximum dramatic effect. He relished the role of a Norça, and seemed to do everything possible to exaggerate his allegiance to the SudAmerican Psi Order. He wanted people to look at him and think "Norça". Why he wanted that was a mystery to Frankie. She thought he was the oddest man she'd ever met. And the most dangerous.

"Business? In the woods?" she asked as she watched the forest growth increase as the road they were on entered the woods.

Silva sighed at the young woman's curiosity. "If you must know, we are going to meet someone. He has some information he wishes to sell to us. One of our people is his contact, who has brought him to this place to meet with me."

"Oh, ah see. What kind of infermation?"

"Francesca, my dear, you really must stop asking so many questions. Have some patience."

Chagrined, Frankie O'Brien sat back in her seat and quietly watched the trees roll by. "Aye, Mr. Silva."

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"How much longer?" Felix Garrison demanded of the man standing next to him. Sunset would come soon, and he had no desire to be in the woods after dark. The small, wiry man had spent too much time the last couple weeks jumping at shadows already.

"Relax, Garrison. He'll be here. He's always been the type to make a showy entrance." Jackson said. The balding black man smiled pleasantly, obviously not bothered about their darkening surroundings. He leaned against his hovercar, arms crossed casually across his chest. He wore loose-fitting street clothes, which belied his muscular physique.

Garrison scowled. "It's not your boss I'm worried about. It's my old employers. It's bad enough I ran out on them. If they found out I also stole from them, I'm a dead man." He swallowed nervously.

"We've kept this all very discreet, Garrison. No one knows you stole those plans but us, and no one knows you're here to sell those plans to us. You're perfectly safe." Jackson waved off the other man's fears.

Garrison shook his head confusedly. "I don't understand this. Why the woods? Why don't we go into the--" Jackson cut him off.

"Because, lab rat. They'll be watching to see if you go there. Hasn't that occurred to you?" The NordAmerican chuckled as Garrison absorbed the thought and realized the truth of it. "Man, no wonder they kept you in the lab. Wouldn't survive a day in the real world."

Felix Garrison could only grumble and wait as his eyes continued flicking from shadow to shadow.

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Francesca idly twiddled her thumbs as they rode, the limousine moving along the curving dirt road through the forest. She was doing her best not to inquire any further into the business her mentor said they were going out here to conduct, but her innate curiosity was eating away at her. She had never quite pictured her life as a psion like this. As a girl growing up in Dublin, she'd had a quite different picture in her head.

Silva smiled at her, seeing her emotions playing over her face. "Ms. O'Brien, you really must learn to have some sort of 'poker face'. I can read you like a book."

Frankie blushed, which caused Silva's smile to widen. "Fret not, my dear. If you truly wish to know what we will be doing, I will tell you. I was simply seeing how well you held back your curiosity. You still have a ways to go.

"We are going to see a man. He wishes to join us, and has some very interesting information to give us as well. His way of buying his place in our family."

"He's a psyq?"

"Yes, but a minor one. He was dissatisfied with his former Order, something about not enough money. So he took some biotechnology research he had been working on and fled. He plans to give us that research in exchange for a place within our family. He believes, quite rightly, that his former group is now after him, and he fears for his safety."

"What Psi Order was he wi-"

"That is enough for now. Need to know basis, and all that." Fernando smiled off the young woman's questions. He seemed to enjoy curbing her questions. "You have great potential, Francesca. That is why we went out of our way to recruit you. We do not usually go latent-hunting in the moors of Ireland. I know you joined us as an environmentalist. And yes, the work we do in the Amazon is very important. But it is not all we are about. I wish for you to see more of what the Norça do. Focusing on a single aspect of our family is not always a good thing."

"How so?" Frankie inquired.

Silva chuckled. "Coincidentally, there is a very good example of what I mean. You will see it soon. But, let me say this," He paused, dramatically, to gather his thoughts.

"The face the public sees, the face they want to see, is that of the SudAmerican gangsters. The psionic drug cartel. It is a stereotype. A stereotype the public buys into because they believe it gives them a way to handle us, a way to know what to expect. Human beings are panicky creatures, and are quick to attack what they do not understand. So we let them believe this of us, so they will think they understand us. Doing so allows us to pursue our true purposes without interference.

"We do many things. We engage in medical and biotech research that helps many people. We work to save the environment, such as the newly restored Amazon. We train elite combat troops to fight the Aberrants and various alien threats. We search for evidence of alien life on other worlds to expand out knowledge of life. Now, would we be able to do so much if they did not believe the stereotype? If they had insisted on involving themselves in our affairs like they do with the other Orders?

"We can do what we wish, do what we need to do, in secret and unmolested, because the public thinks we do nothing more than sell cocaine and bribe officials of the Brazilian government. They think they have a bead on our activities and that gives them a sense of security. They do not like us, but they do not need to.

"That is why you are here with me today, Francesca. To learn how to keep up that stereotypical ideal of the Norça. At least around outsiders." Finishing his monologue, Silva almost seemed to wait for some applause from an unseen audience before sipping some more wine.

Frankie cocked her head to one side. "But why not simply let everyone know what we do? Wouldn't they embrace us more like they do...say....the Æsculapians?"

"Even the Æsculapians have things to hide, my dear. As do we. And besides, that would not be any fun." He grinned coldly.

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The sun was setting over the forest as the limo finally pulled into the small clearing where Garrison and Jackson were waiting. Garrison seemed to breath a sigh of relief that they had arrived, after what had seemed, to him, to be a nerve-wracking eternity. The long black hovercar came to a stop and turned off its engine. The windows were tinted, so it was impossible to see inside.

Jackson heaved himself up off the red sports hovercar he been leaning on, the car in which he and Garrison had driven up here. "C'mon, time to meet the man. It'll be over in a few minutes." He gave Garrison a friendly slap on the shoulder to reassure him and started towards the limo. Felix only nodded nervously and moved towards the limo. He moved faster than Jackson, the black luxury car appearing to him to be a symbol of potential safety, and quickly passed the black man. He walked up to the passenger door at the back of the car, which opened as he came close.

The first to step out was a pretty young redhead, freckles decorating her checks. She looked at Felix Garrison with an expression of curiosity. She seemed harmless enough. He had never been certain what sort of people Orgotek regularly employed, but she looked American enough. He could also sense she was at least a latent, if not a full psion. He wondered if she was an Electrokinetic like most Orgotek psions, like Jackson was.

The girl was followed by a well-dressed man in his mid-thirties, who also registered as psionically capable. Stylish and immaculate, he took a moment to straighten his jacket and run his fingers through his hair before even looking up at Felix. When he did, Garrison could see the man's Brazilian features. The man smiled a smile that seemed to say 'Gotcha!'.

And Felix Garrison suddenly knew he'd been had.

His instincts told him to flee, but before he could follow those primal feelings, he felt a sharp prick in his back coupled with the snap of a needle gun firing. It took only a few seconds for the paralytic drug on the dart to spread through his system, freezing his body. He could only manage to peer behind him at Jackson, who was holding the needle gun, before he collapsed to the grassy earth.

"What the bloody hell did ye do that for?!!" Frankie asked, shocked, terrified, but mostly angry by the betrayal of Garrison. The little man himself could only see her feet, near those of the Brazilian.

"In a moment, my dear." Silva ignored her flaring temper as he turned to the American. "Mr. Jackson, will you be so kind as to help me with Mr. Garrison?"

"No problem, boss." The Electrokinetic Norça stepped forward, holstering the pistol under his jacket. He reached down and lifted Felix, hooking his hands under the armpits, and dragged the paralyzed man to the back of the limo. After loading him into the back seat, Jackson turned back to Silva.

"Thank you, Mr. Jackson," Fernando said, "your help in this situation has proven most invaluable. The family will not forget this." He smiled and nodded.

"Hey, what the Pai wants, the Pai gets." Jackson grinned, and sparks of electricity arced between his fingers as he gave Frankie a small wave. Frankie was still steaming. He walked to the hovercar he and Felix had driven here in, entered, and rode off. Silva and O'Brien watched the vehicle disappear into the woodlands before returning to their own car. Frankie shivered over what had transpired. She was not used to this sort of thing.

Frankie saw it was obvious that Garrison, though a biokinetic, was still victim to the paralytic drug that felled him. He hadn't learned the adaptation mode. Frankie had. Metabolic efficiency was vastly useful in her environmental work in the rain forests, where poisonous snakes and malaria-carrying mosquitoes were rampant.

Silva had returned to sipping his wine, making himself comfortable once again. Frankie sat next to him, hands folded in her lap, her anger subsided now, replaced by confusion. Felix Garrison sat limply in the opposite seat, looking helplessly at his captors with wide eyes, the only part of himself he could move.

"So, Mr. Garrison, you may be wondering about all this." Silva said politely, as though they were all gathered around a dinner table in a fine restaurant. "Let me say this first. You were not set up, nor baited into trying to leave us. We would never do such a thing, so get those sort of thoughts out of you head right now."

Garrison's eyes narrowed. He was barely able to wiggle a few fingertips.

"We were aware of your greedy dissatisfaction from the beginning. While we never tricked you into leaving, we were prepared for the chance that you would do so." Silva stopped to sip some more wine, emptying the glass. He paused to examine it, then set it aside and continued his oration.

"Pai de Norça does not take kindly to any of his family that tries to leave without his permission. Your permission to do so was denied, yet you left anyway. Not smart, Mr. Garrison. The Pai wishes to see you about this breach of manners..." he let the sentence drift off, allowing Garrison's imagination go to the worst possible conclusions about his fate. Then he added,

"Of course, you only made things worse by stealing from us."

Frankie's comprehension of what was going on finally became clear. Garrison was a Norça, who had left the family without the Proxy's consent and had apparently stolen something when he left. She was quite afraid for what was going to happen to the man now.

Silva leaned forward, peering closely into Garrison's eyes. "Your work at BioSystems was admirable. Your research into biotechnology was of great help to the family. But you took all that research and tried to defect to Orgotek. I am afraid you have only made your situation worse for that crime. The Pai is not happy with you."

He sat back and ran his fingers through his hair. "If you had been a field agent instead of a laboratory researcher, you might have made it to the NordAmerican Order. But you simply never had the skills to cut it out here in the real world. You were not paranoid enough. We would have taken you a lot sooner, but we had to be sure you would have the stolen biotech data on you."

Silva reached forward and dug into Garrison's coat pockets, eventually coming up with a datadisk. He examined it for a moment, then looked at Garrison and shook his head. Garrison could only slump in his seat, unmoving and sweating profusely as Silva refilled his wineglass.

"That is your lesson, Mr. Garrison." Silva said as he placed the datadisk into a pocket, "Never cross the Norça."

As the limo left the woods and headed towards the airport, where a private jet was waiting to head back to SudAmerica, Francesa O'Brien stared at her mentor.

As he filled his wineglass again, Silva caught the look out of the corner of his eye. He sighed and set the bottle down. "Yes, Francesca?"

"I thought ye said the Norça as a 'vengeful drug cartel' was a stereotype."

"It is, my dear." Fernando Silva chuckled, a smile creeping across his face. "I never said it was undeserved."

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