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marina lands on rescue
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She has no idea what it is, and thinks that it's some sort of bakery selling small loaves, until she realizes that it's actually flatbread wrapped around ingredients. That makes more sense.

Sadly she can't tell what's happening in the office, and can't divine its purpose from the signage either.

She wants to stop and examine it but she will not delay on her quest to Obtain Food to do it. The tragedy.

A situation similar to the office.

She cannot tell what this one is either! But if it's cold, maybe it's serving chilled things? Kosofo does import ice that people keep in cellars – though it's expensive.

Ooh! She has to resist the temptation to try the clothes because she does prefer more form-fitting things than loose things, mostly. She has no idea what kind of fabric they're made of that they can stick so close to the skin like that. Does it have stays or something? It doesn't look like corsetry...

She has no idea what this is, though she realizes later that it's a gymnasium with unfamiliar equipment.

Sandwiches! She is also familiar with this, though bread isn't so common in Kosofo.

Hm. She's thinking that the rectangles are computers like the one in the library – they kind of have similar image layouts, she thinks.

Sadly she cannot stop. She realizes later that it's most likely some sort of salon for getting your nails painted – she is familiar with the concept. She doesn't like painting her nails, though.

Another office!

She cannot stop to try to examine the differences between this sandwich shop and the other one.

She is familiar with the concept of beds, though she doesn't know what the mattresses here are made out of.

She is also familiar with hair salons. She likes to keep her hair tied up, especially when she's doing ritual work and dancing all over the place.

Empty storefront!

That's too bad. The food smells delicious, but, well, it's not like she could buy any, anyway. She really doesn't think the food bank, which is a charity, would give out expensive spices to people, but once she has her own money she can buy her own.


She's nearly there, by this point; once she gets to the end of the strip mall she just has to turn onto the next road and walk a little ways up it, past what looks like a house with a sign out front like a business. The food pantry just past it has a slightly larger footprint but only one story, and has a small group of vaguely-bedraggled people waiting at picnic tables out front. There's room to sit with them, if she'd like to, or she can try the door.


She won't sit with the people at the table – she's not sure if she'd be welcome – but she'll stay here for about five minutes or so to observe. Are other people going into the place? Are other people exiting? What are they carrying inside, and what are they carrying outside? Are there guards? Does anyone look armed? Does anyone have rifles or swords, at least where she can see? Does anyone have threatening body language – she's gotten much better at reading that ever since she awakened to Flowers.


Nobody seems to be armed at all, and the people at the tables are mostly talking to each other genially and not particularly on guard; one is instead reading a book and taking notes in a notebook. After a few minutes a slender woman in her late 20s comes out carrying a box of food, followed by an older man in blue jeans and a flannel shirt who calls a name out to the people waiting at the tables before noticing Marina. "Oh, hey, are you here for food? You can come in and sign up if you are."


That's good. 

"Yes! Thank you," she says, smiling. She's practiced those three words enough that she's sure she said them correctly. She has no idea what 'sign up' means, but she said that she could come in. So she will. What does the inside look like? What are the other people who were previously sitting now doing? Presumably she'll be able to glean what 'sign up' means based on what they do...actually what's she's going to do is walk slowly so that the others pass her, and then she can observe. 


Only one of the people from the benches goes in, an older man carrying a padded cloth bag. Inside, she finds herself in a wide hallway made of cinder blocks painted a cheerful pale yellow; there's a set of double doors in front of her, and another one off to her left. The man in the flannel shirt greets the old man and leads him over to where a row of tables holds boxes of food; they ignore her, and it's a young man seated at a flimsy table by the door who greets her next. "Hi, welcome to the food bank, have you signed up with us before?"


Oh wow, this is already taxing her knowledge of English. She really just walked in here with day's worth of English practice, didn't she.

She did learn 'before', it was in the children's books. 

She thinks. An awkward several long second pause passes where she just kind of looks at the flannel shirt man.

"No. How do you do it?" She hopes she got the interrogative tone correct. Towan has grammatical tone, so she was on the lookout for tone contours.


"You just fill out this form," he takes one from a bunch sticking up out of a holder on the side of the table and puts it on a clipboard to give her, "and we'll get you all set up."

There are pens available in a cup on the table, but no chair for her. The form asks for her name, the date, her address including the city, state, and zip code, the number of people in her household and how many of them are adults or children, and whether she's receiving assistance from the government, and has a place for her to sign and date it. Of course she's only going to understand a fraction of those words at best.


"Thank you," she says, and receives the clipboard with the paper and takes a pen. 




Yep. She indeed only knows a fraction of those words. She knows 'name', and 'city' and 'adult' and 'children' and 'government' and the function words, but she doesn't know the rest. She does understand how forms work, though. She's filled out many a grant application in her lifetime. Everyone in the Federation can be expected to be literate, so a lot of bureaucracy is based on forms.

She guesses that it needs her name, where she lives, and...maybe whether she's an adult or a child? That's not enough to fill out the form, though, and she's kind of like, homeless, so.

Planning time. The easiest solution would be to simply reach out with Telepathy and ask for help. But that would also expose her as a cape, and thus Someone You Should Pay Attention To, and so that solution is out. She supposes she could try to ask one of the people outside, who are unrelated to the organization that runs the food bank, but that still carries risk.


Instead, what she's going to do is write down all the parts that contain words she doesn't know on her forearm – can the pen write on skin?


It can!

"You can bring that with you and come back with it later, if you want," the man says, when he notices what she's doing.


"Thank you!" she says again, brightly. She's really getting a lot of mileage out of that phrase. She does so!

She'll take the paper but leave behind the pen, and then backtrack, going away from the food bank and trying to look for a place that doesn't have many people in it. Can she find one? A dumpster similar to the one she found Denice in would work, or some sort of park. Or an empty building.


It's pretty deserted behind the stores from earlier, if she looks there.


She will go there.

Denice said that Marina could yell her name, and she would come to her. But...she doesn't want Denice to come here, but she does want to get her attention. Sigh.

If she focuses on her ward, is it still there? What can she see? Provided there's still a connection and it hasn't been destroyed, she'll say 'Denice' out loud in a normal conversational volume. She'll do that until she sees movement through the ward, or a minute passes.


Denice doesn't react right away to Marina saying her name, but after the third try she stops reading and looks at the acorn.



...she realizes that she can't cast Telepathy through this distance. The English oral practical exam continues.

"I am Marina. Is safe. You hear me? I see you. You write, I see."


It's a good thing Marina needs Denice's writing to be large, because that's what she's getting; Denice has real trouble even holding a pen, never mind making tiny motions with it. But after a minute, she holds up to the acorn:

I hear you.


It works! She realizes again that Denice will only be able to communicate back to her in English. So she'll have to receive explanations via English too. Or drawings.

"Food bank safe. I go in and they give food. But. They want me write paper. Paper ask for," and she takes away her focus on the ward and looks at the paper, "name, da-te, add-reese, city, suh-ta-te, zip ko-de, number of people in how-se-hol-duh, how ma-ni adults and children, 'are you re-kei-vin-guh a-si-suh-tan-ke from the government', sig-na-tu-re. What write?"

She hopes English is phonetic enough that Denice will be able to divine what the words actually are from her guesses at their pronunciation. But if worst comes to worst, she'll spell them out.




name - Marina

date - May 28th

address - none

city state zip -

people - 2

adults - 1

children - 1

government - no

and for the signature she draws a squiggle with no particular resemblance to any of the letters Marina has seen so far. She props the sheets of paper she's written on up against her leg for Marina to refer to.


She waits for Denice to give her the answers, and she will faithfully reproduce everything that Denice wrote with exactitude. Including the signature squiggle! She practices a few times, lifting her shirt and trying to make it on her stomach – she remembers that the person noticed her writing on her forearm – and then finally puts it on the paper.

She's surprised, but also not surprised, that you can just elect not to write down your address. She doesn't know what the specific word 'none' means, but the fact that Denice didn't give her answers to the other addresses clues her in as it meaning 'not applicable' or similar. If this is a charitable organization, then of course they're going to have to work with the homeless.

"Okay. I writed. I go back and give paper. If they don't like paper, I go here again and ask you help."

She will wait for a minute. If Denice doesn't give any reply, then she'll take that as her giving the go-ahead for her to return to the food bank.


Back at the food bank, the young man takes her form and begins transcribing the information to a different sheet. "Do you have somewhere to cook?"


She is so thankful that one of the occupations and professions children's books she read had chefs in it. She latches on to the word 'cook' and makes a noise and expression of understanding, but it still actually takes her several seconds to go word-by-word in her head and figure out what the man is trying to say to her.

"Sorry, no." She looks very sad about it, because she is.

She supposes she could start a fire, but there aren't any utensils or pots that she can use to actually cook with. And starting a fire might make the neighbors Very Concerned. So the answer will be no.


"It's okay, we can give you food that doesn't need it. How old is your child?"


Wait she doesn't know numbers. Or, well, she does, she knows that this language has a base-10 numbering scheme rather than base-12, and she knows the symbols for the numbers. It's just that she doesn't know the pronunciation of 'fifteen'. In Towan you just concatenate them, but she knows Topona has a different scheme. Okay, she's kind of spent too long staring...

"One five," she says, though she tries gesturing with her hands too. She puts up both fists, then opens them, closes them, and opens one fully. Does the other person understand her?


He seems a little startled, but only a little. "Okay. Do you have ID?" He's talking more slowly now. "It's fine if you don't, we can make you one."

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