((Welcome! It's about time for another one of these again. This isn't your typical forum journal post--consider this more along the lines of a "choose your own adventure" type of story. The character that you will be playing in this story is my own-- Frankie Mercer. I've decided to retire her temporarily, and rather than post a large body of text explaining what has happened while she was away, I figured that a community game would be far more fun. After every update to the post, a poll will be made for everyone to vote on one of the next possible actions that can be taken. The poll will be replaced with a fresh one once the next section of the story is posted. Keep in mind that you can only vote one option, and you cannot change your vote once it's in! Good luck!)) . . . “… .. .. ke?” With a short groan, you begin to open your eyes. Darkness immediately floods the corners of your vision as you do so, but you furiously blink to try and break through. Eventually, your surroundings start to come into focus—as does the relentless throbbing plaguing the back of your skull. “About time you woke up. Was almost beginning to think they beat you to death back there.” Beat you to death? What was he talking about? All you wanted to do was get back to sleep, and all his constant badgering was doing was giving you quite the headache. Besides, you had already promised that you would assist in finishing out some of the other factory rooms in the morning. “Whatever it was you did, they really didn’t like it, though. Never seen them get so worked up like that. Not over some random girl, at least.” Hold on—things were beginning to come back to you now. You had been trailing the coast, having just finished up meeting with a close friend. It was the later hours of the evening, and you were hoping to make it back to base before it got too dark. That was when— “Shit!” You suddenly exclaim, shooting into an upright position. Your body screams back in protest of the action, but you could care less at this point. Struggling to bring your arms around to your front, you come to the distinct conclusion that the attempts are futile. Rope, you note to yourself. You’ve been restrained. “Easy now,” the man sitting across from you mutters. As you've returned to a more lucid state, you start taking in your surroundings a bit better. From the looks of things, you're seated in the back of a van of some sort—as if the occasional bumps and the low growl of the engine weren’t enough to give that away. Any possible views to the outside have been sealed up tight. “May not look like it, but you’re safe. Well, safe in the sense that nothing’s going to happen to you at this very moment.” The person speaking to you looks to be a grizzled man in perhaps his mid-thirties or so. While he doesn’t look particularly threatening—what with his crossed arms and mildly irritated expression—you’re certainly not one to take any chances. Especially when you’re the one lacking the use of your arms. “Name is Daniel, by the way,” he continues. “Not that you’re necessarily feeling up to any sort of conversation, but it’s only common courtesy to introduce yourself.” Daniel takes a moment to scratch idly at his chin, eventually peering back with a bit more curiosity. “You do have a name, don’t you?” . . . Tell Daniel your name. (8) Give Daniel a false name. (4) Refuse to respond. (2) You give Daniel a long, hard look. He, on the other hand, stares back with an expression that clearly indicates a longing to be anywhere else. Eventually, after contemplating the various risks that come with disclosing your name, you decide that there couldn’t be that much harm in it. It wasn’t as if your name carried any sort of notoriety to it. “Frankie,” you finally respond. You decide to stick to single word answers for now. “Alrighty then, Frankie. Looks like we’re off to a good start already—no use in going around lying to strangers or anything like that anyways.” Daniel takes your follow-up look of confusion with a roll of his eyes. “C’mon now, it’s right there. On your vest.” Your confusion melts away into alarm as you look down. Sure enough, there it is—front and center on your Mongol MC uniform—the name Frankie. You gulp. Not only did you narrowly avoid a stupid mistake, but you’ve also just come to the realization that you’re still in your Mongol attire. You desperately hope that these people have good relations with your group. Daniel seems to have read the change in your composure as clear as day, judging by the amused expression he now eyes you with. You immediately decide to take your conversation with this ‘Daniel’ a bit more seriously now—he’s obviously no fool. “How long was I out?” You croak, still very much feeling the effects of whatever it was that happened. “Oh, couldn’t have been longer than a good minute or so. It’s not like I was counting. We’re not too far from where we picked you up, actually.” Daniel’s answer is disheartening. Evidently, whatever it was that these people wanted you for, they wanted you alive. It wasn’t as if they had lacked an abundance of opportunities to kill you while you had been unconscious. “… Is it too much to ask what all this is for?” You tug on the ropes binding your arms together for emphasis. Daniel offers an incredulous look. “You kidding? You’re a member of the Mongols—there are so many groups out there that would pay a good price to get some sweet, sweet revenge that it isn’t funny.” Daniel shrugs apathetically. “I’d be the one lying if I said that were the only reason, though.” “What d’you mean?” “Well, it’s clear from the boss-man’s attitude that he’s got some kind of personal beef with you. I highly doubt it just has to do with the whole Mongol issue that you’ve got going on, either. Either he’s got some kind of third eye that can see more than I can, or he knows you personally somehow. Looks like we’re going to be figuring that one out together.” Despite your best efforts, you genuinely can’t tell if he’s being truthful about any of this or not. Your shoulders sag as you turn your eyes downward in discouragement. This wasn’t a ‘small situation’, this was potentially the most dangerous situation you’ve found yourself in since what occurred in the Deadzone. You wearily wonder if you’ll ever get to see your friends again. The sound of the vehicle pulling to a stop tears you away from your depressing thoughts. You glance back up at Daniel in curiosity, but he seems a step ahead of you. “Don’t get too excited now, we’re not at our final destination just yet. Just a small pit stop to wait out the rest of the night—can’t drive too far with how many marathon runners there are out there.” Laughing at his own joke, Daniel boots the back doors to the van open. “C’mon, might as well introduce yourself to the others.” . . . Play along, at least for now. (6) Flee the moment you're outside, this may be your only chance. (1) Sit right where you are. If he wants you to move, he'll have to do it himself. (3) Daniel grunts as he hops down from the back of the van. He swings his arms back and forth in a stretch, dusts his hands off on his pants, and with a motion of his head, he indicates for you to follow. You briefly contemplate your chances if you were to take off the moment you step outside, but ultimately decide against an idea as risky as that. Instead, you resolve to cause as little trouble for yourself as possible. As you exit the vehicle, you start to take note of your surroundings. A small fire pit has been constructed not far from where the van has been parked. Three other men besides Daniel have arranged themselves around the flames, and besides maybe a few brief looks of disdain, they hardly acknowledge you. “Can’t have the flames too high, now,” Daniel remarks to you. “Wouldn’t want to give ourselves away in case a few of your friends are lurking around. Why don’t you go ahead and take a seat with the others? Might be hard to believe from your position, but they’re nice enough.” Right, you think to yourself. That’s why they picked me up. To make friends. The relentless pounding in the back of your head seemed to agree with your sentiment. Nevertheless, despite your less than enthused feelings on the matter, your feet begin to carry you over towards the rest of the group. You’re not met with any warm greetings as you approach, not that you expected otherwise. Instead, the three lower their conversation to a more hushed tone, apparently determined to keep you out of things. That suited you just fine. After all, you were far more concerned with attempting to understand the course of events that managed to land you here. You close your eyes, allowing the mumbled voices to fade into the background. Suddenly, like the twinge of a barely remembered dream, you start to recall exactly what had happened. You had been walking along the lakeside, with only the chirping of insects for companions and the dim light of the stars as your guide. You hadn’t meant to return at such a late hour—and was certain that you would never hear the end of it from Hammerhead—but there was little you could do about it now. All that mattered was getting back safely. So, you walked. And you continued walking. The journey to get here was fairly uneventful, so you were confident that the return trip would prove just as routine. You vaguely begin to wonder how the others were doing after that car crash back on the road. It was probably extremely odd for you to duck out that the way you did, but you couldn’t risk Hammerhead accompanying you. Stubborn as he was, he likely would’ve insisted to stick with you until well after the meeting window had closed. Leaves crunching beneath your shoes, you continued on your way, until suddenly… People! As you rounded a bend in the path, you were met with the sight of a large van, and several individuals milling about the area. Three, by your count. Now… what did you do again? . . . Immediately dive for cover. (4) Keep extremely still, and slowly try to retreat. (6) Withdraw your gun. If they were competent at all, they must have seen you already. (2) You immediately freeze in place. With your heart threatening to beat out of your chest, you fight for dominance over your nerves. Think! Your mind screams at you. Make a plan! Your instant judgement was that you needed to back off. If it had been a single person—perhaps even two—you might have been able to get the jump on them. When the enemy count starts reaching beyond that though, it instantly places you in a position of helplessness. There was no way you’d be able to confidently cover every single one of them. So, lacking any better options, you decide to retreat and hope to God that none of them have noticed you. You slowly begin to back up, one foot behind the other, keeping your attention squarely on the figures surrounding the vehicle. Then, something occurs that makes your heart stop. Did they just point at me? You ponder, as one of the figures gestures oddly in your direction. Again, you freeze. There wasn’t taking chances anymore, you had to get out of here. Without bothering to waste time any further, you immediately turn on a heel and start sprinting for the road that you had arrived from. If I can just make it back to him—your thoughts are cut off as another person seems to stumble across you. You remember him as one of the men sitting by the fire now, a tall and fit figure that looked just as shocked to see you as you were to see him. “What—“ is all he manages before you’ve brought a fist up, sending it crashing for his stomach. The man only barely manages to bring his arms up in time before you connect, causing him to take a half step back with a grunt. “Bitch,” he rasps as he readies a blow of his own, but you’re ready. The awkward strike is easily ducked, and this time you’re able to make the next hit count. He groans in surprise at the sudden blow, gripping his midsection in pain—but to your dismay, he doesn’t drop. Instead, his eyes glare furiously at you, and before you know it he hurls a kick powerful enough to send you to the ground twice over. Your head strikes the dirt path hard, and the world seems to spin. You manage to scramble to your feet. Should you try to keep fighting? Should you run? Your legs felt weak. You turn, noticing that the three from the vehicle have caught up to you. Just as you’re about to try and speak to them however, the ground seems to drop out from under you. You fall… You open your eyes. Everything has come back to you at this point, and you decide that beginning to study the others a bit more carefully wouldn't be a bad idea. There were four, obviously, considering that one had been missing when you had initially approached their vehicle. The one sitting closest to you by the fire was a giant of a man when compared to the other three in the camp. You easily recognize him as the man you had run into in the woods. He sat hunched over in his seat, clad in a grease-stained, white tank-top and a pair of loose fitting jeans. The stranger appears to be ignoring your presence altogether, seemingly far more interested with his quiet rumblings to the other two. You move down the line. The next man is a much more scraggly figure, and lays back in a fairly relaxed posture. Contrasting with the far larger man beside him, he wears both a grey pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt that appear far too big for his body frame. You note that he couldn’t be much older than yourself, if not younger. Finally, your eyes land on the man sitting directly across from you. You’re quickly surprised to find that unlike the other two, he passes the occasional glance your way. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t seem to want to make friends at all, and from the furious look he passes your way you figure that he isn’t entirely okay with having you there. Perhaps it’s the Mongol logo that he hates. Regardless, you make sure to remember him—he sits in place in a simple navy t-shirt, brown cargo pants, and a pair of hefty looking boots. Lastly, you start checking for their weapons. As expected, each person is as prepared as the next, with the standard kit appearing to be a simple dagger alongside a firearm of supposedly their choice. You wonder if— “Yo,” a new voice breaks you from your thoughts. It’s the man sitting across from you. The one giving you the looks. His eyes are narrowed in a dangerous calm. “How long are you going to sit there staring?” The other two turn to look your way now as well. “Well? How about it?” “Got something you wanna say?” . . . Talk back to him. You're allowed to look at whoever you damn well please. (2) Apologize. (3) Silently hold his gaze--you refuse to back down from him. (4) "Well?" The man repeats himself. The three by the campfire all eye you now, but you refuse to balk from the pressure. Instead, you tilt your head back, meeting the confrontational man’s challenging gaze with a defiant one of your own. It’s clear that he’s expecting a response of some sort, but you continue to allow the uncomfortable silence to stretch on. You were curious to see what he would do next. Eventually, you almost think you can spot the slightest of smirks appear on his face, but it’s unclear—he has a formidable poker face, it seems. An irritated exhale escapes the man. “Fine,” he says. “We’ll just save the talking for later.” Pushing up from his seat, he starts shifting dirt into the fire. “Best to start wrapping things up here and getting some sleep. Long day tomorrow.” With one final pointed look your way, he heads for one of the few tents Daniel has been occupied with setting up. Now alone with the two other strangers—who are looking more than a little bit awkward—you decide to start gathering some information. If you were ever going to get away from these guys, you were going to need to know what you were working with. “Hell was up with that guy?” You ask the pair. They look like people who respect confidence—the helpless prisoner act would likely do you more harm than good here. “What, Blake?” The scrawnier man speaks up. So that was his name. Blake, you repeat again in your mind. The name sounded familiar to you, but you find yourself unable to place why. Do I know a Blake? “He’s always going around like that. Always acting like someone shit in his cereal or—” “Seth,” the far larger man beside him growls. “That’s enough.” Seth crosses his arms. “Do not speak poorly of Blake in front of her.” Blake and Seth, you note. One more to go. “How ‘bout you?” You ask the guy in question. “Y’look like a ‘Hugo’ to me.” The guess earns an amused rumble. “Clay,” he says. “Your punch is fast, but you have nothing behind it. Do you train?” “Train?” You echo. “Like what, goin’ ‘round kicking trees?” Another laugh is earned from Clay. So far so good, you think to yourself. “No—do you not train to fight? You should. Combat is the most useful skill to learn.” It’s your turn to laugh now. “Probably, yeah, but where I’m from we tend to place a lot more value in idle conversation and easily bruised egos.” Clay scoffs, glancing at you with a bit more interest. “Sounds different from the Mongols we know. Foolish, maybe, but just as brutal and ruthless. You are a Mongol, right?” The question results in a nod of your head. “Hmph,” he leans back, crossing his arms over his chest. “Not really a full member like you’re probably thinkin’, though,” you decide to elaborate on your answer some. “Was only in outta necessity—and wasn’t more than a week or two at most.” Seth gives Clay a look, an eyebrow raised. Clay, in turn, closes his eyes, appearing to think for a moment. “If this is the case, I will speak to Blake about your situation. Blake is under the impression that you are a full-fledged member—if he hears about this, it will reduce the amount that you are worth to him greatly.” This news elates you, and you find yourself struggling not to show it, despite everything. “But,” he continues, causing you to place your nerves on hold. “He will still want something in return.” Clay’s eyes bore into your own. “I will make a deal with you. Tell him everything that you know about the Mongol presence in Port Falmouth, and I will make sure that he lets you off the hook. Unharmed.” You run the thought over again a few times. “Names. The number of members present. Their location. How many are suitable for combat—Blake will want to know all of it.” Despite how amazingly good the deal sounded on your part, it didn’t come without a fair share of apprehension. Could you sell out the Mongols? You did still have a few people you considered friends there. If you did as Clay asked, there was the chance that you could be set free without ever having to set eyes on Port Falmouth again. You could head straight for the line and get back to whatever remaining shell of civilization was still standing. You could make it back to him. Clay and Seth continue to look to you expectantly. It’s obvious that they are waiting on an answer. What will you say? . . . Promise to tell Blake everything. (2) Refuse to talk. (2) Agree to talk to Blake, at least for now. Promises are just words. (7) “Alright,” you nod your head in agreement. Even if you didn’t plan on saying a word, it wouldn’t do you any favors to make that clear so early on. Just like earlier, you’re willing to play along for now if it means opening up a chance to escape later. These people were not your friends, and you were determined to show them that regardless if you were a Mongol or not, you are dangerous in your own right. Clay seems to relax a bit, glancing to Seth in a satisfactory fashion. “Good,” he then says. “I hope to get this wrapped up sooner rather than later. If we can get this handled now, it’s less trouble for us.” Seth nods. “Yeah, this whole business really rubs me off the wrong way—besides, you’re kinda cute, and I hate holding cute people prisoner. Makes me feel all creepy-like.” The statement earns a stern glare from Clay, but Seth merely shrugs his shoulders. “What, it’s true! Holding people up is a *Mongol* kind of thing. I don’t dig it.” “Do not forget where she comes from. Even if she’s a new member—which may not even be true—that does not make her ignorant to their operations. She knew what she signed up for.” The whole conversation tempts you to speak up and defend yourself, but you manage to bite your tongue for now. If you go on about how you have kept prisoners and have had to attack people even before joining the Mongols, they may consider you a monster. You don’t know how these people fully think just yet, nor what their experiences are. You decide to ask them. “So… have y’guys never had to do stuff like this in the past, then? I don’t mean to come off as rude or nothin’, but the quarantine ain’t exactly been the friendliest place. ‘Least not where I come from.” Clay and Seth exchange a glance, but it’s Clay that clears his throat. “It’s more than obvious that you’re not exactly from around Port Falmouth, but things are different here than wherever it is that you’re from. People here got along through it. Helped each other out. Isn’t that the way it should be in a situation like this?” Clay’s answer almost causes you to think twice about yourself for a moment. Almost. You shake the thought away. “I must have just gotten unlucky. People are quicker to take everything you own and leave you naked in the street than they are to lend a hand, in my experience. Whole reason I didn’t just strut on up to y’guys in the dead of night and wave you down. Figured I’d just get shot up—or worse.” “Probably wasn’t entirely wrong of you to be cautious. Even if you’d approached us willingly, we would likely have taken you just the same, given your uniform.” At this point, you’re genuinely wondering to yourself just how much conflict these people have had in their lives to be so against a cutthroat approach to survival. You decide that there’s no way they’re that ignorant—they must be testing you in some way. Trying to snag some info out of you. You weren’t going to let them. “Well, regardless if I’m a new member or not, do I look messed up to you? I don’t want to come off as prideful or nothin’ like that, but I figure I’ve been nothin’ but polite so far here, all things considered.” Clay remains still for a moment. “You’re not wrong, you’re different from our expectations. Either way, what Blake says goes. If you want your freedom, you will have to speak to him about what he wants. As I said before, I will ensure that you are released if you give him the info he is looking for.” Without another word, Clay rises from his seat, lifting his arms upwards in a long stretch. He eyes both you and Seth for a moment. “It would be best not to stay up any longer. There’s going to be a lot happening tomorrow for all of us, so I suggest you rest up for it.” After a short nod of dismissal, Clay moves for an unoccupied tent. Seth looks to you and awkwardly shrugs. Standing up, he starts moving as if to lead you to your tent, but you start off on your own before he makes it to you. You’re perfectly capable of finding your tent on your own, after all. Once there, Seth idles by awkwardly. “Alright then uh, guess I’ll see you tomorrow? I mean yeah, obviously I will, but uh, you know how it is.” He rubs his face, beginning to shuffle off. “See ya. Uh… sleep well?” “Hopefully,” you answer, and climb into the tent. It appeared cozy, for all intents and purposes. Way better than what a ‘prisoner’ might expect to get, that much was certain. As you began to settle down and drift off to sleep, you gently thought about your situation again. You can’t help but feel that ultimately the whole thing was avoidable, and if you had only been just a bit more prepared, you would be getting ready to sleep in your room back at the Mongol headquarters instead… . . . Rodney watches you as you enter the bar, his expression the combined level of patient calm yet anticipation that you’ve come to know well. He offers a curt nod that you return as well, and it’s him that is the first one to speak. “You wanted to meet?” He asks. Despite your often impromptu requests to meet together at occasionally odd locations, Rodney always managed to be there before you. It was nice, you felt, to feel respected enough that you warranted that level of consideration. “Yeah,” you say in response. “I’ve asked a few people this, actually, but if there’s anyone that it’s worth coming from, it’s you.” If Rodney appreciates the flattery, he doesn’t show it. “I wanted to ask how you feel about preparing for bad situations. Or being ready for them, at the very least." You sigh. “I remind myself to stay prepared all the time it feels like, but somehow I still manage to get caught off guard almost every day. I’m worried that eventually I’m going to pay for it big time—or maybe even somebody that I care about." Rodney watches you intently as you speak, finally speaking up once the break in your speech becomes clear. “So, what would you like to know?” “How do you do it?” “Do what?” “Always stay prepared,” you say. “Nobody wants to touch you. I mean—hell—you walk around your own home armed to the teeth half the time.” “Frankie,” Rodney suddenly holds up a hand, his tone hushed. “Excuse me for a moment.” Hoisting the firearm in his hands a bit higher, he abruptly moves for the door and practically kicks the thing open, silently scanning the immediate surroundings for anything out of the ordinary. Once satisfied, he returns to his spot, shutting the door behind himself. You blink. “… did you hear something?” “No,” he shrugs. “But what I did is exactly what you are asking about, I believe. It’s simple Frankie—simple enough that frankly I’m surprised you haven’t had it all solved already.” You stare in confusion. It’s his turn to sigh. “All it comes down to is this. The longer you survive, the more enemies you are bound to make, whether you want them or not. That’s just the nature of the game. The key is to remember who poses you the most threat—who has the greatest chance of really doing you in—and preparing around them. Everybody is a risk, of course, but at the end of it all, the people that are the most dangerous will be the ones who kill you.” You nod slowly as he continues. “Sometimes things happen. You can’t predict the future—and if you can let me know—but you can prepare for what you do know. As for everything else, you just have to make sure you’re better. You’re going to get placed in positions out of your control. So, for those, just make sure you’re ready. Be prepared to gun down the next stranger you meet. You can train physically every day all day, but if you aren’t prepared mentally, that hesitation will get you killed.” “How do I get rid of that hesitation then?” Rodney offers a brief smile. “You have two options. You could either stop caring for people altogether, or every time you meet that stranger, you could remember the people that you already care about. Ask yourself the question—is this stranger worth the risk?” His words rattle around in your mind for several minutes. It wasn’t that Rodney wasn’t making sense, it was just that neither of his answers were the solution that you were hoping for. You quietly wondered if you would ever have it in you to make that kind of decision. “Which one have you picked?” A light chuckle escapes Rodney. “Frankie, you should know the answer to that by now. … I have you to keep safe, remember?” *dialogue for characters other than my own were written by that player and included with their permission. . . . You yawn as the early morning rays peek through the lines of your tent. Today was the day that you were moving to the main camp of Blake’s group—as well as when you would get your conversation with the man in question. With any luck, your freedom too. “Rise and shine, Frankie,” Daniel’s voice rings out from the tent’s exterior, as if on cue. “Big day today. Time to get moving.” “I got it,” you say, rolling out of your sleeping bag. You exit the tent with a sigh, taking in the brightened daytime scenery. Things looked so much nicer during the morning. Blake stands nearby the driver’s door as you approach the van—the other three were already well on their way to climbing into the vehicle. He motions towards the rear with his head. “You can stay untied for the trip as long as you don’t do anything stupid, but you’re still going to stay in the back. If you need something for whatever reason, bang on the wall. We’ll hear it.” Allowing him a short moment to untie you, you promptly climb into a suitable seat. Blake shuts the door behind you, and once again you’re alone to your thoughts. . . . The rest of the car ride was entirely uneventful. Few stops were made along the way, and before long you found yourself standing outside the location that Blake and the others considered ‘main camp’. It was a smaller compound of several wooden structures, surrounded by a similar wooden fence that appeared designed to keep infected at bay. You note that the majority of the buildings here appeared hand-crafted. It was a bit intimidating—you often considered yourself handy with a few tools, but this may be beyond even your own abilities. A watchtower of sorts stands near the center of the camp, with a lone figure at the top keeping an eye over the surroundings. A few other strangers seem to mill about on their own time, some performing various duties, but aside from the occasional glance of curiosity they largely seem uninterested. Blake and Clay immediately head off towards a building in the center of the camp—likely to discuss your case. Seth lingers for a moment or two, but after a bit of prompting from Daniel, likewise moves along. For now, it seemed you would be dealing with Daniel on your own. “Welcome to Fort Frankenstein, Frankie.” A short chuckle follows the name, and you send an incredulous look his way. “I’m just joking,” he then continues. “Place hasn’t ever really been given a name, that’s just what I’ve taken to calling it myself. Has to do with how ‘thrown together’ everything looks.” You grunt your acknowledgement, but otherwise stay silent. “Anyways, I’ve been told that things are going to be functioning a bit differently for you here, mostly because of some recent understandings about your position and everything. Since you’re looking to work with Blake on stuff, he’s made sure that you’re given freedom to roam around camp as you please—just don’t try and make a break for it or anything. Guy in the watchtower over there is one of the sharpest shots we have, and I don’t recommend you test that reputation out for yourself.” You nod your head along as you listen, taking special note on the watchtower—and its inhabitant. “Building in the center next to the tower there is Blake’s place. He does most of his stuff there. Over to the right of that is the doctor’s place—he’s a fairly nice guy—and on the opposite of that to the left is the mess hall. Finally, behind Blake’s place is the bunks, where everyone takes a load off. Place is kind of designed in a circle, so as long as you stay within the surrounding barricades, you won’t end up missing your midsection.” Daniel’s explanation made sense, and you were pleasantly surprised to find that you were allowed to investigate on your own time. It’s probably a good thing that you didn’t fight every step of the way here. The only question now is… …where will you go first? . . . Head to the infirmary. (3) Head to the mess hall. (2) Head to Blake's building. (2) Head to the barracks. (0) “Welp, I’ll be around. Probably in the bunks, if nowhere else.” David waves behind himself as he trudges off, leaving you to your decision-making. You’re surprised to find yourself a bit apprehensive at the thought of poking around at other people’s business, but with a deep breath, you make your choice. The infirmary, you think. The best way to judge both the integrity and the preparedness of a group is by checking how well-off their doctors are. You made it a point to keep your head low as you moved for your target. You still wore your Mongol uniform, and judging by the occasional glare and off-handed whispering between the various other strangers in the camp, word must have circulated quickly about your position. Nevertheless, you were uninterrupted, and it wasn’t long before you were pushing your way into the infirmary. The door hinges squealed as you entered the building—the interior was… fairly comfy in appearance, actually. It was furnished in the style that a traditional log cabin home would be, save for the actual medical equipment. A fluffy red rug was sprawled out beneath the various beds and operating tables, which in turn were positioned neatly throughout the center of the room. Several couches were positioned along the edges of the room, and in the farthest corner from the door, an elderly looking man works diligently at a desk, sorting papers. His back is turned to you. Your voice catches in your throat. “Bob?” You manage to croak. The man shifts around to spot his guest, eyes bright with surprise. “Goodness!” He suddenly says, and your heart sinks. It wasn’t Bob, that much was certain. “I’m sorry, but I hadn’t heard anyone enter. How may I help you?” You were ashamed at how shaken up you found yourself over the mistake. Besides the fact that it didn’t even make sense for Bob to be here, you hadn’t exactly given much thought into what you would do or say if you did happen to run into him again. The idea that your instinctual reaction was an emotion that strong was unsettling to you. You were stronger than that. Right? “Hello?” The man calls over again, snapping you out of your thoughts. “Uh, no big deal,” you quickly answer. “Just… just snooping around, I s’pose.” “I see,” the man nods several times over, a hand rising to his chin. “Well, you’re welcome to take a seat, or continue to stand there with that starstruck gaze of yours,” with a humorous glint in his eyes, he turns back to his desk. Feeling rather humiliated, you slide into a nearby couch. “I must say, I wasn’t quite expecting a member of the Mongols to step into my office today. Not without a weapon raised, that is.” The statement earns an amused exhale from you, but you stay silent. He says little more as he continues with his work. Eventually though, he seems finished with the state of it, at least temporarily, and moves to sit on one of the medical beds across from you. His hands fold together in his lap. “My name is Arthur,” he adds. “I’m correct in guessing that you didn’t come here to sit silently by yourself?” You take a moment before responding, your reluctance undoubtedly clear to him. “Just came to check the place out,” you mutter. “Wasn’t really lookin’ for a talk.” “Yet you’ve taken a seat,” Arthur points out. “I won’t coerce you, but if you’re searching for an ear, I’ll be here.” Your ears were burning. This wasn’t exactly the sort of exchange that you were looking to have—a quick look around and then a hasty exit would have been fine with you. Besides, speaking with Arthur would just be a waste of time. You were a prisoner here, no matter how well you were treated, and you intended to find a way out. The infirmary was well prepared, and the camp actually had someone working inside. That was enough for you. Should you move along? . . .