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Dec 16, 2018 1:44 PM
A Val and a Mica.
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Everyone seems stumped by this.

"They...buy land to farm on?" someone finally ventures.

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"I know they're not doing that, the ag zone has some absentee landlords but I'd know if any of them were lurker sharks. - I do know of a babak that owns a farm, though."

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"That's allowed?" asks the original misinformed recruit.

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"Yeah, you've gotta have something to offer the well-behaved ones or they all figure they've got nothing to lose. They're smart animals, they know when you're planning to cheat them."

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"Ew," someone else says. "My dad says that they're cheats and liars and they'll ruin the city if we don't keep them in their place."

"Your dad would think that lurker sharks get around by flying if someone told him that."

"But he's right! They're conspiracying with the metal heads!"

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"Well, you don't see them recruiting lurkers for the Guard or letting them tour the palace, do you? They're under control, it's fine, if it wasn't safe to let the well-behaved ones be free then we wouldn't do it that way."

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"Just because," he starts, and the light goes off again. "Ugh, I think that's me. This conversation is not over, you hear me?"

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"Thanks, but keep it. You're gonna need it more than me."

The door clicks shut behind him.

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Well, maybe someone else will feel like talking.

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"That was dumb. Lurkers are too stupid to conspire about anything. It's a safety hazard to let one be in charge of something as important as a farm; they can't keep to the standard unless someone's checking their work."

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"You know food gets inspected, right?"

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She puts a hand on her chest in blatantly-mock shame. "Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot that all farmers are dumb and need to be kept in line."

One of the recruits behind her buries their head in their hands.

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"What? No, I know lots of farmers who aren't dumb, but why would you have anyone do anything as important as farming and then never check their work?"

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"Smart people make more dumb mistakes than stupid people," Erol says from the corner, not looking up from his reports. "Like thinking they don't need anyone to check their work, or claiming untrue things they can't possibly know anything about because they've never left the street they live on before."

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Val likes to think he's a stupid person but he reviews that conversation to be sure he wasn't just repeating hearsay. But he lives in the yellow zone, he's met that farmer, absentee landlords are the kind of thing he hears about at lunch most days...

He doesn't say anything, though.

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"The light's on again." Which probably means that conspiracy guy passed out; there's one in every batch.

A couple recruits' heads snap up and after a moment one of them walks through the door, looking almost relieved.

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"...Do we get an orientation or anything before we have to patrol sectors we've never been to?"

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"Yes."

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"Good, I bet I believe some really stupid things about the red zone or something."

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"Most likely." He does seem more reasonable and cautious than the other recruits in his batch; Erol wouldn't be surprised if he didn't believe anything without first seeing it. Not very observant, though, and too clever for his own good.

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He reads the walls some more. They're very inspiring and helpful if you take everything the Baron says at face value.

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And rather incongruously cheerful, too.

No one seems much for conversation now. Time passes at a crawl. The light goes on every eternity or so.

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Eventually it's Val's turn.

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An idle desire to be able to watch passes over Erol, but he shrugs it off. Just knowing he'll scream will have to be enough.

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