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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Building Homes [Complete]


Courier

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This takes place on May 4th.

When James did paper work he took over a meeting room in the headquarters. Before the breakup he would have used a table at V's, now he wanted to work and hang out somewhere else. James looked at the drawings he'd spread out all over the table and decided the problem wasn't in the tools.

He had a section of land to build on. He had someone to give him advise on how to avoid the obvious screw ups. Drawing up what to build was much harder. It was like looking for new antiques. He was finding fault with his large family fortress because it wasn't a little cottage for Jo and himself and vise versa. He had conflicting desires.

Jo knocked on the door and then walked in carrying a folder. She asked, "Have a minute?"

James replied, "Always for you love. What's up?"

Jo said, "I thought I'd check up on your progress, then I thought we could talk about this. This is the current results of the Raffle. Even though the deadline isn't yet I think people have mostly entered their requests."

James said, "Right. I was blind so I didn't read them. What's the verdict?"

Jo said, "There's three groups. Heartbreaking, Pathetic, and Misc."

James said, "Misc gets entered into the drawing. Define 'heartbreaking'?"

Jo sighed and said, "Heartbreaking is 6 year old who wants his mother back. It's also the Donovans being desperately short on diapers and other baby things and having little to trade for it."

James said, "The 6 year old I can't help. As for the rest," James shrugged and said, "Sounds like we have a pre-contest winner. Let me guess, pathetic is requests for things I'm not going to give? Drugs? Or maybe a date with you?"

Jo nodded and said, "No one wanted drugs. Several wanted a 'date' with me or Jill." Jo didn't mention Violet. Jo added with ironic amusement, "Far more popular than either of us was a generic 'prison babe'. It seems some people are under the impression you're going to be handing them out."

James shook his head and rubbed his forehead, "Oh the power of wishful thinking. How did we phrase it, 'Don't bother asking for things you know I'm going to refuse?' ban" Irritated at the request and what it said about how he was thought of, James smiled and predicted, "Even after the prison raid fixes the imbalance, whoever wrote those notes will still find themselves without."

Jo nodded and added, "You were on the list as well. I have two requests 'to join the harem'."

Jo waited a heartbeat then added with perfect timing, "They're both men."

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Fox stuck his head in the door just after Jo entered. He had lots to do, but it paid to keep and eye on James, and besides, what James did for himself in terms of building a home might well benefit the entire community. He smiled and looked the two over along with the table full of blueprints and ideas.

"Just checking on how things are going, and I thought I might offer some help as well." Seeing the surprise on James' face he added, "With my new ability to open gateways, I can drop you off pretty much anywhere I've been before and if you can fit it through a 9 foot by 9 foot opening you can bring back supplies instantly instead of having to truck them in. I was figuring I'd send you through in the morning when you are ready to go and open a gateway again in the same location that afternoon. That would give you time to gather up whatever you need in a central location ready for transport."

He grinned, "The catch is while you're out I'd like you to take a team of guys with you to gather supplies for the refuge at the same time. Not asking you to do the gathering, just be in radio contact to help out the team if they get into any trouble. What do you say?"

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James choked when Jo dropped her bomb, and he was still struggling not to laugh when Fox made his proposal.

James said to Fox, "That's big enough to walk through holding a cement wall. I was planning on bringing it through in sections but this is much better. I think that's a great idea."

James then added, "I've seen this before. Bodybuilders attracted homosexuals. That doesn't put me in the closet though."

Jo raised an eyebrow in mock disbelief at James' protest and clearly invited Fox to comment.

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Clearly using Fox as a straight man, Jo said, "James put out that raffle offering his services for a day."

James added dead pan, "And clearly being a bodybuilder means I'm a latent homosexual. Pumping iron lets me hang out in men's gyms and the like."

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Still not completely understanding, but feeling like he had the basic gist of the response Fox chuckled. "I see." With a glint of amusement in his eyes he added, "Well, just keep that out of the public eye, we don't need the Reverend preaching about how you are leading god fearing men down a dark path or the like."

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James' deadpan failed and he started laughing. Jo's expression didn't break but the twinkle in her eye said she wanted to. After a moment James said, "That won't be a problem. I'll let them down gently, a simple 'no' should work. Maybe I'll give them each other's names."

Still trying to keep from laughing, Jo added, "Bad idea. From the looks they give me, one's gay, but the other isn't."

James looked at Jo and said, "He isn't? Then why? Oh! He's sneaking in and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice?" James shrugged and said, "Clever bastard. 'A' for effort, but the answer is still 'no'."

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Fox couldn't help it but bust out laughing as well. "That's funny. If it wouldn't likely cause bloodshed it would be pretty funny to play a practical joke on him. Make him think he was going to get his chance at the girls but then have them say no, only James wants you..." He chuckled more at the thought then sobered up a little. "Don't do it though, chances are too good that it would turn ugly."

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Originally Posted By: Mr Fox
...Make him think he was going to get his chance at the girls but...
James frowned. Fox had put his foot in his mouth by reminding James that Jill & Violet weren't with him anymore. Mentally James shrugged. He'd meant well.

James shrugged and said, "I couldn't carry it off anyway, but yeah, it'd be cruel."

James added, "And on that note, Fox, I'd like to talk with Jo alone for a bit."
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Fox could sense that he'd said something wrong, but he hadn't meant to bring up Violet and hadn't been thinking of her when he'd made the comment. Ah well, he'd only stopped in to make the proposal of keeping watch on the scavenging teams anyway.

"No problem. Just stopped in to mention the scavenging arrangement, you kids have fun."

He waved and shut the door on his way out.

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James watched Fox leave then turned back to JoAnna. James gave a handwave to indicate the table with drawings and said, "Jo, I keep running in circles on this design. I start designing a house for the two of us, then I start adding rooms. Rooms for storage, a Dojo, Jill, and numerous children."

James sighed and said, "Then I realize I don't know what I'm doing and I start over. Today I figured out the design's problems are our unsettled questions. I don't know what I'm planning for. I guess the big question is... children."

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"I told you," Jo said softly, and with a hint of sympathy, "I don't feel it's right to bring kids into his fucked up world. I know that you're planning for the long haul, but if something happens to you, like it already almost did, I and any kids would be fucked."

She sat down and took his hand. "James, I know you want kids," she said. "Part of me does too, but that's the same part that can't handle the thought of getting and loving some precious, helpless children, and then losing them. I see woman out there all the time that have lost their kids, and it kills something in them." She shook her head. "I'm keeping that door shut, at least until the zombies are gone." She looked him in the eye. "That's my only requirement for children, James. No more zombies."

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James pulled Jo's hand up and kissed it while keeping eye contact. Iron in her eye. She's not going to change her mind. James broke eye contact first by glancing back at his drawings, his plans but didn't find any support there. James stared into the past and mumbled, "Nothing is worse than losing a child. It's something that changes you."

James refocussed and said cautiously, "I can't promise not to die, but some of the bigger house plans try to provide for the future. Massive cache rooms. No zombies... is years away. Maybe decades." Two seriously weak arguments. This is what we call irreconcilable differences.

James hugged Jo and tried to see away out of this. Losing Violet and Jill means losing Jo too? Damn... wait.

James asked slowly, "Jo, were you really good with Jill and... someone else having kids with me?"

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"Yeah," Jo said simply, smiling at him. "First, I've always liked having a 'sister' around to share the house and the work. I mean, these plans, are way more house than I want to take care of, and I know you won't want to do housework. Second, if someone else is willing to give you the kids you want, then I'm happy to let them."

She moved and sat on his lap, curling arms around his neck. "I just want a couple of things. No more crazy girls who are going to steal any bisexuals away from us, and I want to be the pretty one." She laughed, but James could tell she wasn't really joking about that last point.

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James put his arms around Jo and said wonderingly, "Now what did I ever do to deserve you", then he kissed her deeply. No lock on that door. It's real thin too. We'd be very public and Fox will step in. :Sigh:

James broke the kiss with a glance promising much more later and said seriously, "You are the pretty one and I've had too much of crazy too. Jill would be welcome back."

"Hmm... who would make a good sister..." James stroked Jo's leg while thinking, it didn't help him concentrate but it was fun. "Maybe I'll trip over someone in the prison raid. I haven't been actively looking... although... right before the break up I met someone who might be willing. Nashwa. I'd like to introduce you and see what you think."

James added, "She's Wiccan too. I made a strong first impression, she might go for it. Of course I broke her leg too so maybe not." 20 minutes of prep and Fox could send us.

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  • 4 weeks later...

"Wait, what?" she asked, leaning back to look at him. She stared at him as she asked, "You broke her leg?"

James told her the story, an abridged version of it. When he was done, she was silent before asking, "Do you think she was interested in you?"

Maybe he had been too abridged.

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James replied, "I thought so at the time. And that was after Fox mentioned you and Jill. She said something about pagan's inventing open relationships."

James swept his papers into a folder and added, "That's as far as it went. I saw interest and felt some chemistry, but we haven't even kissed. So... maybe."

"I'd like to introduce you two. 15 minutes of prep and we could ask Fox to open one of those warps. Someone should check up on that community anyway. Ah... unless you have someone else in mind?"

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"Not really," JoAnna said. She hadn't been thinking about it, really. She watched James gather his things and thought. "Sure," she finally said, "let's go see her. I'd like to meet her.

"Besides," she added with a smile, "once you do that prison run, no one's going to be bitching that you have too many women. Everyone will have a shot at too many women when that happens. I mean, I know some will be badly damaged, but we can heal them, and help them, and some of them are bound to feel good enough to move on, in time. Then all this bitchiness will stop."

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James raised an eyebrow at JoAnna saying with his eyes he didn't expect others to forgive him for monopolizing her no matter how many other women were around.

James replied, "Agreed. Those women are in hell, they're going to need a lot of help. We as a community and individuals are going to have to... I don't know. Reach out to them. Give them time. And also agreed, some, most, or all of them won't want a man for a while." Some never will. And the ones who do... if you've gone through hell, is the rabbit catching guy really the man you pick? I doubt 'everyone' has a serious shot at multiple women. But Jo's right, it should help a lot.

James gave Jo a wink and added, "Maybe I'll find you a sister in hell, stranger things have happened."

Willing to continue the conversation with Jo while he worked, James rounded up trade goods, 'gift' goods, and gear... and then went to look for Fox.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Fox was out inspecting the wall when James found him. The progress was quite good and he was happy with it, but he wouldn't rest easy until the thing was finish which would still be quite a while yet. He looked up from the man he was talking to when he saw James arrive. "What's up?"

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"Yeah, I'd like to understand that better myself. See what you can find out, but report back to me what you find please." Fox stepped a few paces away from the wall and concentrated. It wasn't difficult since he had jumped there more than once. After the disconcerting rip in the fabric of reality appeared and James was stepping through, Fox put a hand on James' arm. "Watch your back. Those people might be alright, but we've seen too many mutants out that way."

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James walked through the gate with Jo just a few steps behind. Fox had dropped them off a few blocks away from where they'd shown up before. James looked around but didn't see anyone, living or dead. James put his arm around Jo's waist and started walking towards where he thought the other group had holed up.

James said, "It was here. Pat cast a spell and all the zoms moved out. For a while it looked like no more zoms. I'd be out of a job but it was a trade well worth making."

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"A spell?" Jo snorted. "She's starting to sound like Violet." She looked around, lightly bumping against him as they moved. After a moment, she said, "I hate to say it James, but this place looks like a ghost town."

"Yeah," James said, looking around and frowning, "I think you're right."

At the main building, James found a note. It said that the group had moved ten miles south of Norman to a safer location.

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James said, "Pat's spells worked, for a brief time things were great, and then her gift proved amazingly self-destructive." James smiled mirthlessly, "So she was far too much like Violet."

James read the note carefully and plotted the location in his head then said, "They're in Slaughterville."

Jo replied in a You have got to be kidding me tone of voice, "That sounds bad."

James said, "Nope. Slaughterville. Just past Noble on 77, a few miles East of 35. Population not much, no industry to speak of but they have a gun store. Think generic rural village."

JoAnna knew a magic trick when she heard one. She arched an eyebrow, not so much asking a question as promising for an answer.

James explained, "No, I've never been there. South is the way home and Norman is a prime scavenging target. I like to research ahead of time where I might end up. They're about one hop down, we'll be there in just a bit."

James put the note back where he found it and walked outside with Jo. James took a compass reading, picked Jo up, and launched himself into the air.

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He landed outside the town, but on his descent, he found what he was looking for - an awkwardly fenced area. It surrounded what looked to be an old winery, but the buildings were now used to store people instead of grapes. People could be seen, including an armed man on each roof.

James took another short leap and landed near the fence, setting Jo down. As his lover attempted to straighten her wind-blown hair and clothing, James watched the people. They were cautiously approaching them; James recognized a number of them. Despite that familiarity, this was a very different bunch of people than he'd met not so long ago.

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James waved in greeting and to show he didn't have a gun in hand. He also let them walk towards him, he'd made enough quick movements.

James surveyed the new set up with approval. No lazy guards not paying attention because they know nothing can happen. No idiots walking around wearing 'Eat Me' signs. I'll bet the insides of those houses have the stairs from the lower level torn out. Good for them, before it was like peace had been declared. That house Nashwa wanted to claim had -no- defenses.

As the people came within earshot James said, "We're here in peace, no one is looking for trouble." Jo's presence might clue them in on that... although the flip side of her being here is someone could do something stupid over her.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The man who approached wasn't pointing his gun at him, but the three with him were. "What can I do for you, stranger?" the man asked, eying James before giving JoAnna a once-over. "What brings you two to these parts?"

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James replied in a friendly tone of voice, "Not exactly a stranger, we met not too long ago. I'm glad to see you moved and are on the ball."

"This is mostly a social call although I've brought some trade goods. I'd like to introduce JoAnna to Nashwa and have them talk about what happened during that whole Pat incident."

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James replied with relief, "Which means Pat isn't here either. Not a shock, it'd be like keeping a live nuke around."

I've though a lot about Pat and her powers. Powerful. World changing. Scary. Dangerous. Studying real magic would be like being one of the early nuclear scientists... who all died of radiation poisoning. 'Nuke' is the right word.

James added pleasantly, "Well then, thank you, I'll look for them at Fox's. Thank you. Can you tell me what they were driving and long ago they started out?"

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"They were on foot," the man said. "None of them had a working vehicle. Even if they did, we need gas for the generators. They didn't have anything to trade for gas, so they would have had to find their own.

"Took off two days ago."

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James blinked. I keep forgetting how poor everyone is and how far away things are without super powers, or even power. Not everyone is wearing 7 league boots. If phones were working I'd have come get her... them... but if wishes were horses... focus.

James thought out loud and watched the man's expression to see how much was correct, "Fox's is like 80, maybe 100 miles South of here. Even on foot, the obvious thing to do is to follow 35 South." Doubly obvious since that's what our instructions were. How quick could they travel? 20 miles a day? 30?

"Something less than a two day head start since today isn't over. They're probably 20 or 40 miles away right now."

Call it two hops. Or they could have tried to cut through one of the towns around here and thus be one hop away. Either I follow on foot and try to catch up to them or I hop to the Highway and follow it to where they might be.

First priority is... protect Jo. That's always the first priority. Go to the highway, follow it South, hope you see them. If you don't see them, then keep going South and drop Jo off at Fox's.

James said, "Thank you again, if you have any advise on how to catch up on them I'd love to hear it, and then I must be off."

If nothing expected happens James will pick up Jo and leap West towards US 35, then he'll start following the road South, explaining his reasoning to Jo as he goes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The man had nothing to add, and James wasn't sure he would have confessed to having something to add even if he had. There seemed to be no love for Pay or her followers anymore.

James took his first leap and spent it explaining to Jo what was going on. "Damn!" she shouted over the whistling wind. "We should have brought binoculars!"

James nodded in grim agreement. Another leap, and he settled on top of a farmhouse to look for them. But the horizon remained empty.

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James yelled, "Hello!!" then closed his eyes and listened and smelled for people.

How long would it take for me to drop Jo off at Fox's and get back here? 2 hours? 3? Am I a good enough tracker to follow... how many people? Shoot, we didn't ask. At least three, they're probably not trying to cover their tracks, I could move lots faster than them... but with this much of a head start I don't think I could find them before tomorrow.

Is this even going to help? I might not catch up to them before they get to the base... which would be fine. If they're dead there's nothing I can do, but if they're stuck on a roof somewhere then I could help a lot.

James waited a full 30 seconds for some sign then made another leap.

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Silence met his cries. There was nothing there in the wilderness; nothing that was replying to his cries. Feeling concern twist his gut, he leapt again, and again, until he landed just inside the fence at the Refuge.

Jo frowned. "I hope she's ok," she said softly. She looked up at James. "Now what?"

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James had been mulling over what to do on the way back and had an immediate answer.

James said, "Now we go with plan 'B'. You stay here. I get some more appropriate gear, including food and binoculars, and go back to where she started. If we're lucky I'll run into them on the way back. If not, I'll pick up their trail and follow them until I catch up. Odds are good I'll sleep out tonight."

James tried to hide how worried he was by saying, "Me going after them makes it a sure thing they'll make it back here, safe, sound, and wondering what the problem is... six hours before I show up half naked and covered with mud." wink

Three possibilities. They don't need any help and will get here on their own. They do need help. They don't need any help because they're dead. I can live with the first one, and can't do anything about the last. Let's just try to see the second doesn't become the third.

James gave Jo a quick kiss and lied, "I'm sure she's fine." Then he did a fast jog over to the SUV exchanged gear. In a few minutes he was done and off again.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Good luck!" Jo called after him, her words torn away by the wind as he bore himself away. Several leaps later, he was back where they should be, assuming a average rate of walking. Since they had a good idea where Fox's was, they should be somewhere around here. However, it was easy for people to get lost, without maps and devices designed to guide people.

James tried not to think about how easily it would be to get swallowed up out here; she could be lying somewhere, and he might pass within feet of her and never know. He tried not to think such self-defeating thoughts.

He began to hop back and forth in a pattern search, resting when needed. His first clue to her situation was the mangled body he found, half-eaten. But he recognized her from the groupies that had hung around Pat. He was on the right track and they had run into trouble. He went faster, hoping to find her before the trouble did.

It was dark before he got a break. It was only because of the full moon overhead that he saw the trailer; a silver vehicle shaped like a twinkie. The moon flashed off of it, and he set down to explore.

Inside, he found Nashwa and Pat, both unconscious and bleeding from poorly-bandaged wounds.

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James smelled the blood before he saw them. Seeing them he hesitated for a moment then old reflexes kicked in and he rushed to stabilize them. With an effort of will he focused on treating Nashwa without letting his worries distract him. {OOC: Spend a willpower point on medical roll}

James thought forlornly, Pat might survive, but Nashwa won't. She'll convert in a day or two. Myf failed to cure the plague with, was her name Autumn? Nashwa is younger, stronger, and not as advanced... and I doubt it will make a difference. Bad odds, but still the only game in town.

James looked at Pat as he worked at making sure she didn't worse and thought, Interesting that Nashwa and Pat are together here. Nashwa probably knew where Pat had gotten off to, one of them owns this trailer. Also interesting that there's no zombies banging on the door. Maybe all the zoms stayed behind to eat that other gal, and maybe I'm in a dead zone. sick

I have mixed feelings about our non-super looking Necromancer here. While I'd love for her to put me out of business, she could destroy the Foxhole. Might be better to kill her now. I might regret letting her live, much less saving her... and who do I think I'm kidding? She's not a monster and neither am I. If we're going to start killing people because of what they might do, then that's basically all the supers with me at the top of the list.

After James was done making sure they wouldn't die in the next few minutes, he wrapped each of them up in a blanket, picked them both up, and headed back full speed to the base.

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At the infirmary, Dr. Singh was waiting. "Oh, my," he said in his thick Hindi accent, waving them to beds. "What has happened?" he asked anxiously. Even as he asked, he was snapping on gloves and beginning to peer at their wounds.

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