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Old 03-05-2017, 02:07 PM   #81
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Default Re: Project Jade Serenity [Supers/Technothriller]

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That has been quite clear.
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Old 03-05-2017, 11:05 PM   #82
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Default Sad Songs Say So Much

Taylor picks up his dropped duty belt and makes a hopeless attempt to compose himself enough to pass as functional before entering the armoury. Cherry Bell abandons putting her vest back on as a bad job, following him in her current disheveled state, wearing only an unbuttoned white shirt and hospital issue bra on her upper body. Dr. Anderson does not bat an eye when they enter, but just asks what their next move is. Taylor is flushed, shamefaced and awkward, but he obviously takes comfort in being able to address practical issues.

Taylor: "Do you know if'n the others's alive? Or if there was anyone following here?"
Dr. Anderson: "Burr was wounded. Then the guards stopped shooting and demanded we turn over Ms. Bell here. I followed Ms. Bell when she pulled me away while they were still negotiating, but from what I heard, a bomb of some sort went off while they were still talking. Then there was..."
[Taylor holds up a hand to stop him, waits in silence for two breaths]
Taylor: "Somebody jes' fired two shots in the tunnels. Probabl' two men, firing at the same time. Rifles, not pistols."

Taylor goes into the small office where he left his captured M16A2 rifle on a table when he walked out to the guards earlier. It is still lying there and Taylor picks it up, shaking off the water from the sprinklers, then clearing the chamber and removing the magazine to shake off more water. Then he reloads, chambering a new round from his pocket. After this, Taylor rushes to the stairs and peeks down into the cellars until he can see that the blast door is still closed down there. Then he runs to the lobby and turns off the sprinklers and fire alarm. He scans quickly through the windows, listens carefully and concludes that there are no threats outside the barracks at the moment. After this, Taylor moves back to the other two.

Taylor: "Awright, new plan. We're fixin' to put on full guard gear."
Dr. Anderson: "Do you know what has happened to the others."
Taylor: "Naw. I'm hoping them guards ain't killed them yet."
Dr. Anderson: "What were those shots?"
Taylor: "Cain't have been executions of all of them. It don't matter now. If'n they alive, they'll probably be put close to Banks, if they ain't killed him. If they dead, we cain't help them. Dress, now."

Taylor collected a guard uniform with all the fixings rapidly while he talked and walks out to dress in the smoke-filled kitchen. Dr. Anderson leaves the armoury as soon as he sees that Cherry Bell has started stripping off her remaining clothing. Her apparent unconcern with anyone watching is a transparent act, as even at a glance, Dr. Anderson can tell her little striptease is performed with studied calculation, and, at least at the moment, zero affect. The evidence supports either pathological narcissism or sexually manipulative behaviour as a learned coping mechanism. Of course, the two diagnoses are not mutually exclusive.

Dr. Anderson goes to change in the kitchen too. Taylor is putting on a guard shirt over his filthy tank top and turns away with a blush when Dr. Anderson comes in. As Taylor puts on his multi-threat vest, he asks Dr. Anderson to tell him about the layout of the main building and the location of the major offices back in Dr. Anderson's time. As they dress, Dr. Anderson gives Taylor a quick thumnail scetch of how the main building is laid out and where the offices were located before the year 2000.

Dr. Anderson: "Are we going to the Deputy Warden's office because Ms. Bell wants you to fetch her something from there?"
Taylor [looking away]: "We been going there all evenin' and I reckon it's still our best bet. It's where we is most likely to find our jammer an' I figure any hostages might could be there too. Why, doc? You got a better idea?"
Dr. Anderson: "I cannot say that I have."
Taylor: "Don't you worry none, doc. Happens I been improvising too. I figure we ain't done too bad. Still breathing an' all. An' ever' minute brings the Coast Guard closer."
Dr. Anderson: "Do you want to go through the tunnels again?"
Taylor: "I'd sure love to, but I reckon we cain't. I expect them boys down there is fixin' to burst in here any moment now."
Dr. Anderson: "There are guards at the door in the cellar?"
Taylor: "Naw, which I cain't really figure. They oughta, but they ain't. Been tryin' to hear them, but far as I can figure, they's still a few tunnels off."

Sherilyn Bell sashays into the kitchen dressed in a guard uniform, which she still manages to make look indecent, pulling a disgusted face at the smell and the mess in there. Dr. Anderson notes that her scatterbrained sex kitten act is brittle and artificial, as if she's trying to conceal genuine upset.

Bell: "Chasie-dear, are we ready to fetch my stuff?"
Taylor: "Please fix your uniform, Sherilyn, and try an' walk, eh... sorta more like a man. We need to pass as real guards from a distance. Use my cap to hide your hair."
Bell [starts to adjust her outfit]: "Oooh, dress up!"
Dr. Anderson: "What is it you mean to do?"
Taylor: "Depends what's going on outside. If'n there's still nobody fixin' ter move near the main entrance and I ain't see any ambush, we reckon nobody figured out Randall and company were tricked in here. Then we take the golf cart outside of here and pretend to be good lil' guards an' take a drive over to the main compound."
Bell: "What if there is some movement?"
Taylor: "How far canya reach with yer hoodoo trick?"
Bell: "Uh... like one of the corridors in J Wing?"
Taylor: "Would that happen to be the furthest you tried?"
Bell: "Yeah."
Taylor: "Think ya might could reach a thousand feet, from here to the main building? Or even to them towers?"
Bell: "Oh, I dunno. I guess I could try. It seems pretty far, though."
Taylor: "Wouldya be willin' to try if failing ain't an option?"
Bell [hesitates]: "Noooo."
Taylor: "Well, then, I guess we gotta find another plan if'n I see someone moving or fixin' to shoot at us here."

Taylor checks Dr. Anderson first and adjusts his gear to make him presentable as a guard. Then he helps Bell with her uniform, trying to adjust it without actually touching Bell, which proves difficult. Surprisingly, Bell does not make his task any more difficult by flirting outrageously, seeming fairly subdued. Taylor takes the opportunity to speak with Bell in a low, worried voice.

Taylor: "Lynnie, the guards who were here earlier said you'd taken a little girl hostage. An' some other folk. Said you'd hurt them if'n they didn't do what you said. Now, I know you were held here against your will... but they were wrong, weren't they?"
Bell [looking down]: "I... I didn't take any hostages. But I said did. Made... made them believe it."
[moves closer, looks deep into Taylor's eyes with her shining tear-wet big blue eyes]
Bell: "It wasn't my idea, I swear. They made me do it. I... I couldn't do anything else. I was all alone."

Taylor nods grimly and hugs Bell briefly before heading to the lobby to perform surveillance of the main buildings and evaluate threats to their current position. Dr. Anderson hands Bell a tissue to wipe her eyes and pats her reassuringly on the shoulder. After she seems sufficiently recovered, Dr. Anderson looks curiously at Bell.

Dr. Anderson: "What does he mean, hoodoo trick?"
Cherry Bell [still uncharacteristically demure]: "Uh, I can sorta make people see things that aren't there. Or not see things that are. Something like what I did downstairs, though that's simpler and I don't really have to know who I'm trying to fool, just think real hard about nobody noticing me."
Anderson: "Fascinating."
Bell: "Oh, I dunno. I guess it's pretty cool, 'specially if you can play with anyone you like."
[Bell gives Anderson a brief, but bright and flirtatious smile through her sad face and eyes shiny with unshed tears]
Bell: "Not much fun in here, though. Just petty little minds with nasty wants and repetative fears. 'King' Tyrrell and [stops herself]... the others, kept making me convince anyone who objected to what they did."
Anderson: "Was it very bad? Your confinement in Manhanock?"
[Bell looks down, teary eyed, sniffling]
Bell: "Yes. I never want to be trapped ever again. I'd die first."
Anderson: "I am sorry about what they did to you. More than I can say. And though I may not be as ardent or expressive as young Taylor, I am ready to do my small part to see that these guards do not get their hands on you again."
[Bell puts her head on Anderson's shoulder]
Bell: "Thanks, Mr. M. You were always so kind to me. And... I'm sorry about the needle, way back then. I was startled and didn't think. It... was an accident."

Dr. Anderson doesn't answer, but he doesn't move away either. An injection of experimental chemical into the spine is a hell of an accident, especially when it leads to a year long coma, but seventeen years is a long time to forgive and forget. And everyone did something in their youth they regret. Granted, for most people, that's a regrettable tattoo, sexual experimentation or recreational drug use, not serious felonies, but given the somewhat permissive atmosphere and loose ethical standards of Dr. Anderson's early research, maybe he feels it would be hypocritical to condemn others. Or maybe sad and vulnerable Cherry Bell appeals more to Dr. Anderson than her sex kitten act. Maybe she reminds him of someone he cares about.
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Old 03-06-2017, 09:03 AM   #83
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Default I'm aware that this is a disappointing post

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
There is a room full of meat like right there.


Whether she is one of the cannibals or was next on the menu, I'm not sure. It sounds like she was next on the menu... but ...
The two are not mutually exclusive. It's not like Terry Amiti chose to become the Minotard. I've been assuming that this holds true for most of the 'rejects' in the tunnels. And it's amazing what people will do if there seems to be no alternative.

There's no monsters. Just ordinary humans killing and eating each other to eke out a slightly longer span of miserable existence.

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
That has been quite clear.
Even Big JC got a little riled up once in a while, I suppose. Though as things go in the whole worldy sin department, I've always felt that commercial activity in the temple was maybe not the place to draw the ultimate, Thou Shalt Not Pass line. You know, reserve a little righteous wrath for mimes and people who make puns.

---

I meant to write the next post, I swear, but I've been sitting at a computer for 23 hours straight and written 26 pages of an agonisingly boring legal brief. I figure that if I tried to get anything down it would just be even flatter than the stuff I wrote last night (while procrastinating from the terrible brief).

I don't promise anything until tomorrow. Though I might always have trouble falling asleep and try for one post. Stranger things have happened.
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Old 03-06-2017, 10:21 PM   #84
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Default What's That in the Shadows?

Taylor carefully scans out the windows before sliding the ajar front door open enough to crawl out. Once there, he spends about half a minute slowly evaluating the terrain, noting potential hiding places. On top of the main asylum building, Taylor spots a glint of metal. A few seconds confirm for him that someone is lying there, looking toward the barracks, and that he's got a rifle.

There are several men exiting the main building. The distance is around 250 yards and they are talking in low voices, so Taylor can't hear every word, but notes the words 'Warden', 'barracks' and 'traitors'. They start moving toward him, in what appears to be a fairly loose and sloppy patrol formation. All of them are carrying M16A2 rifles with optics and mounted flashlights and wearing full tactical gear.

Only years of training and painful experience enables Taylor to lie still as a burst of thundering fire splits the night. It's heavy machine gun fire, from the lower observation tower, firing a line of tracers out to sea. Following the first burst are two others before the gun falls silent. The guards on the lawn freeze. In a few seconds, someone shouts at them from inside the building. "We found them in G Wing!" After what looks like a short argument, three of the SRT guards split off to run toward the G Wing. The other three run toward the barracks.

Taylor crawls back in, rising fast once he's in cover, running inside the dining hall and motions the other two toward him while scrounging duct tape and cord from a closet.

Taylor: "We ain't going nowhere, we's havin' some company instead. Doc, couldya find a fuze box for the lobby? Stay by it and cut the lights once you hear any noise?"
Dr. Anderson: "I could. Should I?"
Taylor: "Yeah, doc, I reckon you oughta. If'n you can find cover, stay behind it."
Dr. Anderson: "If you say so."
Taylor: "Sherilyn... couldya do something for me?"
Bell: "Don't you dream I'll..."
Taylor: "I weren't gonna ask you to stay behind. You recall yer basic training? I sure could use somebody I c'n trust by my side in the lobby."
Bell: "Really?"
Taylor: "If you reckon you can use your hoodoo so them guards ain't see nor hear us."
Bell: "I can maybe reach a few..."
Taylor: "Just need the first one, really. I'd love more, but I figure one will do. Start at the front and move backwards. Don't go hog wild, jes' try for simple. Sure you up for it?"
Bell: "I'll be fine. You won't let nothing bad happen to me, right, sweetie?"
Taylor: "Naw, Lynnie, I cain't do that. Thing is, I really need your help. I might could kill them guards, but I cain't mind trick them so we take them without a racket. You can. I'ma asking you to have my back, Lynnie. Will you?"

Sherilyn looks at Taylor with a surprised and pleased expression and nods enthusiastically. Taylor hands her the assault rifle and takes out his baton instead. They rush to the lobby and Taylor peeks out a window to calculate how long they have until the SRT guards reach the barracks. Sucking in a breath, Taylor climbs on top of the door in a nimble motion and starts to rig the cord he brought to make handholds and legholds in a shadowed part of the ceiling.

Bell grasps what he's doing and hands him duct tape before climbing up and assuming a ridiculous position where she's hanging perpendicular to the ceiling supported only with one arm and one leg. Taylor pulls himself up over the door, assuming a less acrobatic position where he's ready to drop down once someone enters.

After less than a minute, the barrel of an assault rifle peaks through the half-open door. A guard dressed in full tactical gear enters, followed by two others. Taylor looks at Sherilyn Bell, who is staring intently at the last guard to enter. As far as Taylor can tell, she focused on each guard only a heartbeat or two, but she gives him a thumb up using her rifle hand without looking away from the last guard.

The barracks lobby is dimly lit with a series of LED fixtures in the ceiling. The brighter fluourescent lights are turned off and Taylor has positioned himself and Bell to maximise the concealing effects of shadows between the lights, but the lighting is still good enough so that anyone looking up would probably see them immediately. Reflected light shining silver from his eyes, Taylor is yet again amazed at how even trained men will ignore the possibility of a threat just because it comes from an unusual angle. Nobody ever looks up when clearing a room unless it's been drilled into him by harsh teachers or harsh experience.

Letting himself drop down, Taylor swings his baton in the air. As he lands beside the rearmost guard, Taylor rakes his right foot down the side of the SRT member's knee. Taylor's baton hits the right arm of the guard in front of him, loosening his grasp on his assault rifle. Turning his landing into a move forward, Taylor punches his baton into the small of the guard's back, hard enough to bruise his kidneys and knock the baton out of Taylor's hand. In the same motion, Taylor grabs the guard's assault rifle in both hands and his left leg sweeps low to strike the knee of the third guard, the one in front, collapsing his leg under him and causing him to emit a surprised roar of pain.

All three guards start falling. Before they reach the ground, Taylor has hammered the stock of his captured rifle into the jaw of the one closest to the door and kicked the middle guard in the face while stepping past him, aiming his rifle at the guard in front, who is falling forward, as his left leg will no longer support him. The strikes to the face cause the guards to flop like boneless fish on landing, completely out of it. Hearing the last guard's cry of pain, Dr. Anderson flips the fuze for the lobby off and the dimly lit area becomes as dark as the night outside.

Taylor: "Lynnie, drop your hoodoo so he can hear me."
Sherilyn [disappointed]: "But I... awww."
Taylor: "Keep your hands where I can see 'em, sir. Ain't nobody else need to be hurtin'."
[pause, guard holds up his hands in a prone position]
Guard Hayden Avery: "Where the hell did you come from? Just tell me, before you kill me... How did you do that?"
Taylor: "I had good training..."
[looks up at Sherilyn Bell, giving her a radiant, boyish smile of pleasure]
Taylor: "...not to mention great help."

Sherilyn Bell probably can't see the smile in the dark lobby, but it's audible in Taylor's voice. She gives an answering smile and blows a fluttering finger kiss back, which requires her to stabilise herself in the air using just her legs to grip the cords for a moment. This does not seem to cause her any major discomfort.

Taylor: "Doc, couldya flip the fuze again? And maybe come in here?"

As the dim LED lights turn back on, Sherilyn Bell dismounts from the ceiling, landing in a showy gymnastic pose. Taylor kicks away the rifle from the prone Avery and bends down next to him, scanning him for weapons and securing him. Taking some disposable restraints from Avery's duty belt, Taylor uses them to handcuff the SRT guard behind his back. Taking care to keep Avery in his line of sight and slipping his rifle sling on, Taylor starts to repeats the process with the unconscious guards, also checking their vital signs.

Taylor: "Sherilyn, you done great."
Sherilyn [bows]: "Thank you, sweetie-pie. You weren't entirely uncool yourself."
Taylor: "We's upgrading our costume. Now we gonna be SRT guards. Be careful not to hurt them when taking their gear."
Dr. Anderson: "Do I need to carry a rifle?"
Taylor: "Seems kinda useful to me, considerin' the circumstances. An' I guess it would look sorta funny to anybody watching from a distance, full tactical gear an' no weapon."
Dr. Anderson: "If it is necessary for our disguise, I suppose I can carry the rifle. But I warn you that in the event we are attacked, I doubt that I could be of much use with it."
Taylor: "Jes' carry enough spare magazines and stay in cover if'n there's shooting. Sherilyn and me a-gonna handle security."

Working together, Anderson, Bell and Taylor drag-carry the three guards into the dining hall, where Dr. Anderson takes a look at them. Dr. Anderson is pleasantly surprised to find no obviously broken bones. Avery's knee seems relatively undamaged, his fall being caused by the pain of a jarred nerve. There will be inflammation for a few days and he should try to stay off it for a day or two, but should recover fully.

Anderson checks the other two guards, according to their name tags called Mondale and Hart. Mondale will have a swollen knee for a week or two and his jaw will probably feel sore for at least that long, but there is no evidence of serious injury. Hart's forearm is starting to swell up and he might have shooting pains in his kidneys when he wakes up, but the blow to his lower back doesn't seem to have been hard enough for there to be any major risk of organ damage. The kick that knocked him out actually did remarkable little in terms of bruising, having hit fairly precisely in a spot on the chin that transmitted sudden motion to the brain, which led to unconsciousness through briefly disconnecting synapses in the brain.

Of course, both Mondale and Hart probably have concussions, but while concussions are never to be taken lightly, it is a fact that boxers and many other athletes often suffer multiple concussions over their careers and usually manage to wake up disoriented with splitting headaches, not with life-threathening cranial bleeding. The odds are on the side of Mondale and Hart surviving with nothing more than an unpleasant period of pain and nausea, especially as both seem fairly fit young men.

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Old 03-07-2017, 05:59 PM   #85
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Default Teasers

Well, there was a session tonight. Before it, any spoilers I could have provided, accidentally or otherwise, would have been limited. Let's say that this is no longer the case.

None of these teasers ought to be of a nature to ruin all suspense, but very spoiler-sensitive people ought to avoid highlighting the spoiler text.
  • First of all, anyone hoping for a resolution without
    Spoiler:  
    might want to prepare for disappointment. I know, not a huge surprise, given the situation.
  • Anyone calling flashbangs and riot ammunition
    Spoiler:  
    is trying to sell you something.
  • Also, it's all fun and games until
    Spoiler:  
    .
  • Terry Amiti ('the Minotard') and the lizard-people are probably not the strangest things living in the tunnels under Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
  • What do you do if you have
    Spoiler:  
    Anyone who did not answer
    Spoiler:  
    is saner than at least one person residing in Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
  • On an unrelated note, I might be looking for stats for superpowered bull terriers or a similar breed. Just, you know, in case.
  • High skill is no guarantee of not suffering a series of embarrassing
    Spoiler:  
    critical failures.
  • Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane has, well, criminally insane patients. Shockingly, some of them are unfriendly.
  • In general, a long career and successful one as a mad slasher demands the ability to know when not to slash. Of course, there is an infinite supply of NPCs, crazy or otherwise, but
    Spoiler:  
  • If possible, avoid angering patients of asylums for the criminally insane.
  • Manhanock Asylum is a place where profoundly disturbed and/or dangerous federal prisoners are kept if they are unfit to stand trial. Not just every prisoner of the federal government who is found mentally incapable is transfered to Manhanock, however. No, most of the patients there used to have a Top Secret clearance or higher and/or otherwise acquired extremely sensitive information in some manner. Significantly, this includes
    Spoiler:  
  • Some of the most important combat-related traits of an unnamed NPC:
    Spoiler:  
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Old 03-07-2017, 11:45 PM   #86
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Default Re: Teasers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
  • What do you do if you have
    Spoiler:  
    Anyone who did not answer
    Spoiler:  
    is saner than at least one person residing in Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
  • On an unrelated note, I might be looking for stats for superpowered bull terriers or a similar breed. Just, you know, in case.
Let me guess the little old asylum swallowed the Minotard to get the bull terror to get the supercat to get the giant NIMH rat to get the mutant spider?
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Old 03-08-2017, 02:20 AM   #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Let me guess the little old asylum swallowed the Minotard to get the bull terror to get the supercat to get the giant NIMH rat to get the mutant spider?
I doubt that the process was ever that neat and rational.
Spoiler:  


We've already learned in our story that Terry Amiti was actually subjected to various experimental 'treatments' in 1998.
Spoiler:  
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:59 AM   #88
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Quote:
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I doubt that the process was ever that neat and rational.
When you're describing a Mother Gooseian rhyme as being "neat and rational" in comparison to the situation you find yourself... you know you've stepped into some serious craziness.
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Old 03-09-2017, 04:32 AM   #89
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Default Alterations to last two posts

I've rewritten post #82 (formerly 'Pretty ----ing Ninja!', now Sad Songs Say So Much) and #84 (formerly 'Tell Me Not, Sweet, I am Unkind', now What's That in the Shadows?).

This was done because I realised that, typical self-centered player that I am, I had forgotten a scene which my character was not a part of and written the story as if the other two characters simply ceased to exist once he left the room. This, of course, is not true and Dr. Anderson and Cherry Bell had a talky scene while Taylor played scout-sniper. The fact that I forgot their scene also caused me to misinterpret other events and put some comments in the wrong order or have the characters be located in slightly different areas when they were said. It all ought to be fixed now.

As a result of post length limits, I cut some text which was already posted and it will instead appear in the next post, which will carry the title which was cut now: 'Tell Me Not, Sweet, I am Unkind'. This way, I should be able to fit the entire Conversation between Chase Taylor and Cherry Bell there.

Not actual spoilers, more inviting speculation and commenting on background information that the players had from the start, but may or may not have been apparent to all readers. Readers are invited to think about
Spoiler:  
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Old 03-09-2017, 07:41 PM   #90
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Default Tell Me Not, Sweet, I am Unkind

While Dr. Anderson plays doctor, Taylor goes to listen in the cellars, checking if anyone is coming through there. He can hear distant voices several tunnels away, too far to hear individual words, and something that might be distant screams, but might also be rats fighting deep in the tunnels. Taylor spends maybe half a minute listening, but is unable to discern any sounds which he can certainly identify as human within a range that he considers an immediate threat.

Once Taylor has determined that there are no guards preparing dynamic entry through the cellar, he comes back to the dining hall. He looks at Dr. Anderon and notes that the good doctor has not yet put on his riot suit and tactical gear. Taylor is about to go over to him and help him dress when Dr. Anderson gives him a telling glare, which Taylor translates as a signal that treating the injured men is real work and that Dr. Anderson will be available for playing dress-up only after he has finished. Looking at the awake and responsive guard, Avery, Taylor grins ruefully.

Taylor: "I'm mighty sorry I hurt y'all. It weren't by choice."
[guard is silent]
Dr. Anderson: "I admit that this sort of thing is new to me, but should not someone interrogate our prisoner? After all, he might know something that could help us resolve the situation without further harm to us or these guards."
Taylor: "That sure would be fine, doc. I guess he oughta be interrogated, yeah. But I ain't gonna. Never could find no stomach for it."
Dr. Anderson: "There is such a thing as non-coercive interview technique."
Taylor: "I'm gonna have to take yer word on that one, doc. Jes' see that you don't hurt him none, dropping all them syllables aroun'."
Dr. Anderson [snorts]: "If you two could please give me us some privacy. I will call you back once I conclude my interview or if I estimate that communication is fruitless."

Taylor turns to Sherilyn Bell and gives her new SRT gear a once over. Then Taylor asks Bell to come with him to the lobby, taking her new M16A2 rifle. Once there, he shows her how to use the night vision optics to scan for threats. Sherilyn seems to have recovered from her funk and snuggles up to Taylor as he stands behind her, showing her the use of the optics. Taylor explains the function of the tactical flashlight and the IR setting on it, but does not turn it on, as that might be visible to guards watching the barracks. Unfortunately, the optics aren't good enough for Bell to be able to make out much detail and in any case, she seems to regard the instruction as an opportunity for outrageous flirting more than a serious activity.

After Taylor confirms that the guard he saw earlier, lying in a hide like a sniper, is still positioned on the roof of the main building and looking right at the barracks, he decides against exposing Bell to potential fire by having her try to spot him and try her power on that guard at range. Instead, Taylor insists that they sit down and stay far enough from the windows to make them invisible from outside. Taylor then relies on his hearing to determine if anyone else is coming. A few seconds of silence suffice for him to determine that nobody is anywhere near the barracks. Turning to face Sherilyn Bell, Taylor clears his throat hesitantly.

Taylor: "Lynnie, uh, you know that I care for you, doncha?."
Bell: "And I absolutely adore you, Chasie, sweetie-pie."
Taylor: "No, Lynnie, I mean... you don't have to pretend something you don't feel with me."
Bell: "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Taylor: "I jes' want you to know that I ain't gonna leave you behind, no matter what. I'm helping you 'cause you worth helping. Worth it 'cause who you are, not... how you make me feel. I ain't the kind who thinks saving the princess oughta get me a doll to play with."
Bell: "You better not be implying..."
Taylor: "Lynnie, I seen your room. An' the pictures in it. All of him. I reckon maybe I ain't the one you want to kiss, Lynnie. I'm jes' somebody you used to know an' happen to be close at a time when you's emotional an' need somebody t' hold you. An' there's nothing wrong with that... I's jes' saying you don't hafta pretend it's nuthin' else."
Bell [looking hurt and angry]: "I wasn't pretending anything!"
Taylor: "I'm sorry, Lynnie, that wasn't what I meant. I ain't sayin' I know what you feel or why you done anything. Still an' all, considerin' all you been through... it's maybe not a good time. Anybody would be lonely and afraid, all tore up an' not knowing who to trust an' lookin' for reassurance. You weren't doin' anything wrong, Lynnie. I was. I never shoulda kissed you, not now, not like this."
Bell [furious]: "Don't you dare try to cloak a mealymouthed rejection in your noble bull----! You don't think I oughta have a say in who I'm allowed to kiss, considering my feelings and all?"
Taylor [raising his hands apologetically]: "I ain't saying that, Lynnie. No matter who you kiss or don't kiss, I ain't gonna judge you. An' the last thing you need to be worried about is rejection, darlin'. Heck, me reject you? Any time I's aroun' you, girl, I ain't got the sense God gave a goose and I know you's smart enough to figure that."
[Taylor shakes his head ruefully]
Taylor: "I never was any darn good at fibbing you, so I ain't fixin' to try. I'ma pretty sure I still got feelings for ya. I never woulda kissed you if'n I didn't. An' I don't jes' mean thinking you's as cute as a toe sack full of puppies, though you sure is that. Lynnie, you always done could make me feel those corny things they sing about in them silly love songs an' I reckon you still might could if'n you put yer mind to it. Me not wanting you ain't never been our problem."
[Cherry Bell starts to speak, but Taylor interrupts her gently by placing a finger on her lips]
Taylor [voice breaking]: "Please, let me... please don't hate me, Lynnie. It... it ain't that I don't want to. It's just... you's all tore up, there's folks tryin' to kill us an' I said I'd help. Some girls'd feel obligated. Or some might could think sayin' no would make me walk away, leavin' them here. It don't matter what I said I'd do, 'cause who'd blame ya if you didna trust me? You ain't seen me in half a lifetime. An' I know you's scared, 'cause I'm scared, an' there's ever' reason to be. It ain't a situation either o' us kin think straight. If anything happened between us... a man who'd do that couldn't care much 'bout you. I... I cain't be the kind o' man who'd take advantage like that. Even if'n I'ma being stupid an' wrong 'bout everything here, can you please understan' why I jes' cain't? An' let me jes' be your frien'? For now? I figure you might could use a friend."

Bell again starts to speak, but this time, she stops herself and stares for a long time into Taylor's eyes. She seems to be trying to find answers to something, but in the dimly lit lobby, his eyes appear inhuman, with almost no whites and the usually blue irises reflecting silvery light. For all the alien structure of Taylor's eyes, though, he's never been very good at hiding his emotions from those he cares about and maybe that hasn't changed just because his eyes have. And it's true that he never could lie to her worth a damn.

Bell [small voice]: "Would you really be content with just being friends?"
Taylor: "Happier than I been in a long time, Lynnie."

Cherry Bell sighs deeply, strongly emotional. She may have been consciously letting go of anger. Or it could have been relief. Then she hugs Taylor tightly and affectionately, without any of her usual flirtatious overtones. Taylor puts his arms around her comfortingly, whereupon she snuggles closer on the lobby floor and does her best to disappear into his sheltering hold.

Bell: "I... I do need a friend."
Taylor: "An' you got me. No matter what."

They sit there for quite a while, with Taylor listening closely to the night around them and looking out over Bell's head, scanning the darkness for threats with his inhuman eyes. With the threat of the towers and the thermal-sighted heavy weapons in them, a capable commander ought to be able to make it impossible to survive outside by stationing two or three shooters in blind spots from the tower. On top of the main building was one and the second and third might have better hides or ones further away.

The obvious move for Warden Tyrrell's men is to rush the barracks from below, knowing that fleeing outside would be suicide, but with every passing moment, the more likely Taylor found that the guards weren't going to do that. From raised voices inside the main complex, Taylor guesses they might be gathering for a surface assault, but there seems little purpose or organisation to the movement. As Dr. Anderson is still conversing with Avery, the guard, Taylor is quite content to remain where he is for the moment.
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Last edited by Icelander; 05-05-2017 at 05:24 AM.
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