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Dec 16, 2018 1:07 PM
A Val and a Mica.
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"Yeah, you too."

Off he goes. He acts like everything's normal. He's good at it, given a second to catch his breath before he has to face anyone.

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He knows the schedules. He could navigate the palace blindfolded. If he's careful and fast, even if someone notices he's taking weapons, they won't have any idea where he's taking them. Weapons, ammo. He should find out when the next eco handover is, plan an ambush. Start bringing the Guard to his side over Praxis'. No reason not to mutiny. Few people will take it well when they find out what's been going on behind their backs. If he has proof. He needs proof. He needs to look busy. He needs help.

He was isolated on purpose. No one to turn to when he's finally had enough.

Fine. Okay. Val understands people better than he does, clearly, and can take care of that end of things. The rest is more than enough on its own.

He's Commander Erol Kamis. He eats between tasks. He sleeps only as much as necessary. He does what he needs to in order to keep up appearances and spends the rest of his time moving supplies.

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Val is less busy, but not not busy. And he has to hide all the stuff he's getting out of there. Erol's speed isn't the limiting factor.

He lets the Guard teach him what he'll need to know. How to find his way around the less... civilized zones, at the moment.

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It might just be his pre-existing expectations, but these Guards seem more wary and ready for physical altercation than the ones he's shadowed before. Not that they weren't wary and ready to fight, but these ones are...more so.

They greet the recruits by number, not as quickly and smoothly as Erol can do it, but as naturally as if they were using names.

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The new recruits salute.

Val feels sort of weird not using names, even though he can just find them out later and even though the numbers are just as identifying and even though he's met people and not gotten their names before. It's probably just because it's suddenly conspicuous.

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He should get used to it.

Here is the red zone. Here are half a dozen potential hiding places a fleeing criminal might use, pointed out within the first several minutes of their entrance. Here are a lot of people, citizens, shying away from them, halting their conversations and watching through the corners of their eyes.

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Very useful to get those hiding places pointed out to him! Very concerning how bad their relationship with the locals is.

And Val... doesn't ask what he wants to, doesn't even put words to it, realizes instead that he can't risk being memorable. He looks around. He learns the layout of the place. He learns where the power station is, where the elevator leading down into the sewer is.

He looks for off-duty KGs hanging around out of armor. There are always a couple in the yellow zone, so probably there are some here, too, right?

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There's one having a conversation with a couple of civilians, their exact number illegible at this distance.

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Val pays attention to how that one is acting. Might need to be able to show up here inconspicuously out of uniform. Though, if the information that the Underground does dead drops wasn't useful enough to act on, that probably means everyone else around here does too. Yup, he's starting to see how that information might be totally useless.

Repairing relations with this community goes on his mental to-do list right after eliminating the metal heads.

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They don't seem to be willing to do dead drops around KGs, anyway, even if they still do them. Or maybe it's just that this is a common route or a common time for a patrol, and therefore not worth risking.

The distant KG looks comfortable, relaxed. They're probably native to the zone. Who else would go to the red zone out of uniform, after all those warnings?

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Or maybe they're good enough at it that Val just doesn't see, it's not really possible for him to tell.

He's quiet the whole time. It's a vaguely depressing patrol.

When he has time later he check's Mar's tryst room.

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There are a lot of weapons here. And an Erol, stacking them in an attempt to free up more space.

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"Wow. Hi. I'm guessing that's as much as we can use right now."

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Erol turns with an uncharacteristically unguarded grin. "Val!"

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Val is taken aback. He blinks, then grins back. "Erol!"

He holds his arms out slightly. If Erol wants a hug there's one free for the taking.

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Erol very much wants a hug. "I missed you."

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Hug!

"I'm glad to see you too. Does anyone know these are missing?"

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"No, no one should notice anytime soon. Are you sure we don't need more? Should I do something else?"

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"You've got more leeway to go around carrying mystery things than I do, I'll be slow getting them where they need to go. And that isn't even the bottleneck, the bottleneck now is recruiting people. I'm not sure what else you could do, I don't know enough about... anything, what you do, what supplies no one would notice missing, who knows about the deal with the metal heads..."

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"Me. The Baron. A handful of Guards involved in the hand-offs. Val, I don't...I don't really know anything. I've been following the Baron for almost half my life. I believed what he told me. I didn't even think. I don't know how to do anything but what he made me to do."

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"And you realized making deals with metal heads was a bad idea because I'm so hot I fucked some sense into you?"

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"Because if you were right then I'd been lied to. Because, yes, you're hot and you fucked me and no one's ever...been so kind to me..."

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"If I was right that... metal heads are bad?"

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"If you were right about anything."

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"If I had time I'd ask you more about that but I really don't. Anyway, do you know anything about the baron's plans for when the wall is breached?"

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