Thu Jun 20, 2019 2:56 pm
Sukava pauses behind the doorframe and motions for Vynkor to hold still. Vynkor does so, and together they listen to the noises in the hallway outside. It sounds like there are people out there - aliens, apparently, given the sound of it - it doesn't sound quite human - and they seem to be talking about something in a low voice. Opening the big door might have been an unusual thing for them to do.
Cleverly, Sukava makes several hand motions at Vynkor, trying to indicate how many people she thinks are in the hallway, and what they should do about it. Vynkor has no idea what the fukc she's on about, but doesn't want that to be obvious, so she motions back a bit more dramatically. Sukava nods wisely - trying to pretend she knew exactly what Vynkor meant - and then motions for Vynkor to follow, weapons holstered.
The two women step out into the corridor - a dim, evenly-lit area, and note the assorted alien employees over on the left-hand side, standing among a lot of various open cargo crates and spilled equipment. They immediately stare at the two "mercenaries" as they exit the little hangar, and watch as Sukava closes the door back. Their eyes follow her and Vynkor through every step they take, seeming both inquisitive and suspicious.
"Inspection," Sukava growls. "Keep working."
Seeming thoroughly puzzled, they haltingly resume their tasks, bewildered as to the whole course of events. Before Sukava and Vynkor are quite in the clear, though, one of them addresses Vynkor directly, pointing at her suit: "Is that blood?"
Vynkor shakes her head. "Warpaint," she answers, and keeps on walking.
The poor alien is left wondering what the hell the word "warpaint" even means, as the two inmates exit the hallway.
Thanks to their excellent skills of walking-on-top-of-stations, they seem to have found themselves in a dark corner of the markets - a busy bazaar-like area - and are mostly out of the way. Having kept track of the structure, they're able to make out a large opening on the lefthand side, through which they could enter a tunnel that would lead to the Palaces as they'd originally desired - or, if they preferred, they could enter the Market proper and take a good look around. Maybe there's something here they'd be interested in. From this perspective, though, most of the Market is hidden from view. There's not that much to see - not yet, anyway. Not unless they wanted to leave this little maintenance-like area and wander out into the open. It sounds quite loud out there - and quite crowded.
The renowned underworld bar, "The Last Ponderance", was neither loud nor crowded until Buck and Brom happened to arrive.
"Ahoy, Buck, Broom!" Ishmael calls loudly to the two standing in the doorway, over near the left wall. "Finally you got here, ye Goddless, filthy landlubbers!" He slams his empty mug down on the bar counter deliberately, making sure Buck notices. He remembers quite well Buck's fondness for alcohol and wants to taunt him a little.
If the taunting worked, Buck doesn't show it, instead walking over to the bar. "This one had a little too much, didn't he?" he laughs to the four-armed bartender, hiding his confusion at seeing Ishmael here. "Fukcin' rookie. Three of the best whiskeys y'all got!" he shouts. "Or just somethin' good, I dun' give a shit!"
Everyone in the room is staring at them. Apparently, this "quiet, secluded bar" isn't used to loud, obnoxious visitors. The girl next to Ishmael is no exception to this rule. "So, uh... friends of yours?"
With a bewildered sigh, Ishmael replies, "Yes, these are my mateys. Not the kind of mateys I'd wish to have, but the kind our Lord, in his infinite wisdom, decided to bestow upon me."
The alien turns away from the priest to get another look at Buck, who is trying to call someone over the comms: "You done takin' yer fuckin' piss already? C'mon, we're up at the bar, get yer ass over here!" The girl turns back with a sardonic smile. "Great company."
Ishmael smiles bitterly. "These ninja types never improve. Short one is Buck, other one is Broom. I am not exactly sure what kind of stupid game they are playing now, but they look as inconspicuous as a murderer who returns to the crime scene still wearing his victim's skin. They are good at being decoys, though," he adds loudly, making sure Buck hears.
The man spins around. "Hey, will you shut the hell up?!" then, realizing his comms are still on - "No, not you Gene - I mean - Hammerhead! GOD FUCKIN' DAMN IT!" Angrily, the man shuts off the comm device and stomps over. "Look what ya did now, you asshole! YOU BLEW MY FUCKIN' COVER! Who the hell even invited you here?!"
Though they don't notice, the other bar patrons are starting to look downright antagonistic. A ruckus in this bar is not something they take kindly to.
"Excuse me, Sir, but I was here first," Ishmael retorts acridly. "So how about ye take a walk instead?"
The bartender sets three mugs down on the counter - each in its own hand - and Buck distractedly slips him 30 plat as he spits back, "Don't fuckin' call me that! This place was my idea first, you just ripped me off 'cause you're a lazy, good for nothin' mooch! Now YOU go take a hike!"
The girl next to Ishmael is starting to look particularly uncomfortable, and as though she feels more than a little out of place. "Are... Are you sure you're friends?" she asks awkwardly.
But Ishmael doesn't even hear her; he's too focused on Buck. "Your idea first? I highly doubt 'dat. I've already emptied two mugs o' finest booze before ye brought yer unworthy arse in here. Now, take yer booze and leave me alone, ye landlubber."
The barkeep has had enough. He stands up straight, to his full height, points a tree-trunk of an arm toward a sign on the wall, and pulls out a weapon. "You do not fight here," he warns. The sign, plainly stated in a number of languages, reads: "BRAWLERS WILL BE SHOT." The wall itself is pockmarked with the telltale holes and patches that could only come from the occasional gunfight - or someone getting shot. Indeed, upon closer inspection, there do indeed seem to be bloodstains in a few places. Seems the sign doesn't do its job quite as well as the bartender would probably like.
On hearing the threat, Ishmael settles down immediately. Buck, on the other hand, is just about to start in again, when Brom grabs him by the shoulder and pulls him back. "I'm going to deal with our friend and try to talk some sense into him," he says in a quiet tone. "This won't take long. Take the drinks and go sit down."
Buck, torn for a moment (especially given the fact that Ishmael is now telepathically injecting insults into his mind), finally decides to let Brom handle it, and takes the drinks to go sit at the table at the back-left corner. It's thoroughly in the shadows - for better or for worse.
After Buck leaves, Brom gets very close to Ishmael, not looking at him directly, and says in a voice that sounds far too soft for the great Brom Keegan: "Listen, bub. Being that we've done some jobs together in the past, I'm going to let this incident slide. That said, you can't go using our past aliases so carelessly. I go by Connley McKale now. Buck goes by Billy Butcher, and Gene goes by Ellis McCormick. You don't have to like me, but if you make any attempt to break our cover like that again, I'll shoot you dead myself." He raises his eyes for a brief glare at the old priest and then turns, headed for his table.
Ishmael stares incredulously at Brom's back as the man walks away, but quickly recovers and turns back to the alien girl beside him with a smile, as though nothing had even happened. "So, ye were talkin' about a job?"
Unfortunately for him, she's just finished paying for her drink and is getting up to leave. "I feel like you already have more company than you know what to do with," she explains with a pleasant smile. Regardless of how she may feel, she's acting considerably less awkward than the preceding "conversation" between the three inmates. "I'll leave you to it. I have other things I could be attending to." With that, she quickly exits the bar, not looking back. She clearly feels something nasty is about to happen and doesn't want to be a part of it.
Sighing again, Ishmael turns back to his empty mug and tips it towards him, staring into its depths. He got a contract so soon, and then lost it just as quickly. The good FSM giveth, and the FSM taketh away. It's all the fault of those miserable ninja-types, though. If they'd just behaved like proper pirates, there wouldn't have been an issue. And after all, how was he to know they were using aliases?"
Suddenly, a heavy hand clamps down on Ishmael's shoulder. Upon examination, Ishmael sees three thick fingers, each near the thickness of his wrist. The old priest turns around and sees a massive, crimson-eyed alien standing above him, and three others next to him - an alien with dark jowls and two with hideous bug-like eyes. They look to be a particularly nasty group. The jowled, sag-skinned alien approaches and speaks quietly, in a sinister tone. "Looks like you're alone now, matey. Nice weapons you got there, though. You want a job? Step outside the bar - we'll be waiting for you." He gives a nasty glare and then motions for the big guy to follow; the four thugs exit through the door. Ishmael takes note of the large guns slung behind their backs, as well as those on their hips.
Buck and Brom slide into the high-backed metal benches at their table and begin discussing how they couldn't get ahold of Gene. They're a bit worried about him, really. It's not like him to be silent... well, no. Actually, it's very much like him to be silent, they're forced to admit. It's not like him to ignore messages, though.
Buck is greatly enjoying his whiskey - it's not the best, but it's decent - when Brom spies a pair of dark, shifty-looking humans entering the bar. They sit down at the table opposite the two inmates, and begin eyeing them intently. Brom opens his mouth to say something to them, but the shorter of the two figures gets swiftly to his feet and signals for him to shut up, speaking quietly. "Hey, sh-sh-sh, keep it low-key, alright? I know staying inconspicuous isn't your strong suit, but this is important. There's enough eyes on you already." He speaks with an Earther accent and is wearing a tweed jacket over an undershirt and wrinkled tie, with a dried alien flower in the lapel. "Nah, look, we ain't against you here. We know you from Tartarus, you got a big beef with the squids, yeah? You the ones that fukced up Nanyej?" He fiddles with the rather techy-looking pistol at his waist in an almost absentminded fashion, seeming a bit jittery.
The two inmates look at each other apprehensively, and their hands creeping towards their weapons.
The guy holds up his hands. "Whoa there now, cool it! No shooting in here," he whispers, sliding into the bench next to Buck. Then, in a more normal voice, "Look, I'll buy you guys another round of drinks, on me. Hey, Nekyoch!" When he has the attention of the barkeep, he adds, "Gimme four orders of Marconian cheese and Skahilla meat, and some Arachine ale, gotcha?"
The barkeep gives a grunt and a nod and begins assembling the meal - a rapid task given the multidexterity of his four arms. In just a moment there are four more drinks sitting in front of the two inmates and their newly-found host - something unidentifiable and green.
"There now, see?" the man says, taking a sip. "Name's Etch Squiligan, but I go by Squigg. Ain't maybe the prettiest fella," here he grins, showing off a few missing teeth, "but if you got the muscle, I'll get you hype." He means, of course, hi-plat. The two inmates quickly get the message.
Suddenly, something seems to cross Squigg's mind. He begins to look a little disturbed and starts searching around the room. "...Hey now, where's your third? I picked another one of you up earlier, but I know I saw three of you down by the docks." When Brom and Buck give him a querying look about the phrase "another one", Squigg motions to the table across the aisle. The person sitting there gets up and sits down next to Brom. "Picked this fella up outta the Hangar by the by," Squigg explains. "Yuuji, his name was. Claims he's from your ship, fresh outta cryo. Ain't heard of nobody had that tech. Might be worth a fat price in itself, eh? But that ain't what I here about." The little man takes another sip of his drink.
"BOB NO WANT FIGHT!" the big man shouts in desperation, his minigun revved to fire. Why are they attacking him? It doesn't make sense. "BOB NO WANT HURT YOU! NOW YOU LEAVE, OR BOB HURT YOU!" He lifts up his weapon to show them.
On seeing the gun, the mercs shout something to each other in some alien language and duck into cover, while the civilians in the boulevard behind them seem to grow more frantic.
Plasma begins to fly through the air - bright seagreen bolts that seem to move through the room in slow-motion, tearing clothing displays with tiny licking flames. Shouting, Bob fires back, sending a sweeping stream of bullets across the front of the store. The racks splinter and crack, shards of material flying into the air. Bob wavers slightly as the plasma rounds begin to find their mark, but for the most part, they're absorbed harmlessly by his armor. He continues firing until he's used up a belt of ammunition; the bullets cut across the room, nailing one - no, two - of his aggressors... and a few of the people in the boulevard outside. He hears screaming close by: a scared alien girl is crouched behind the counter near him, shaking and sobbing. She's a little too small to be an adult, and Bob feels bad for her. Upset, he turns back to the soldiers. "BOB NO WANT HURT YOU!" he shouts again, starting to sob as well. "LEAVE BOB ALONE!"
Dropping the now-empty minigun, Bob looks quickly around for an exit. The bolts of plasma continue to fly, hitting him in the shoulders and chest. Near the back of the room, in the corner, there's something that looks like it might be a door, but it's mostly concealed by racks of little alien dolls. When he finally turns back around, two of the mercs - squids, like back on Nanyej - are darting towards him between the racks. Hastily, Bob pulls out his pistol, firing once (a squid crumbles), twice, thrice - but the second squid dodges out of the way of each round, leaps onto the counter and uses it as a springboard to dive on him from above. Bob drops his pistol, trying to switch to his plasma baton, but there's not enough time; the merc is already upon him. The impact knocks him backwards, knocking his head into the shelving behind the counter - the merc trips him, and Bob slips, falling onto his back.
"BOB NO WANT FIGHT!" Bob shouts again, shaken and crying profusely. "PLEASE LEAVE BOB ALONE!" In the nick of time, he manages to pull out his plasma baton and light it up. Bright plasma arcs along its surface in bright golden waves as Bob tries to lift himself up on one arm and take a solid swing at his foe, but the merc easily dodges, twisting around it and knocking it out of his hand. "BOB NO WANT - "
- But the words catch in Bob's throat as a blade plunges through his chest.
In intense pain, Bob struggles, trying to free himself and wrench the blade away; it only makes it harder to breathe. Seeming satisfied, the merc retrieves his weapon - a swift, deliberate gesture, as though part of a well-practiced ceremony. Bob gasps and chokes. Why is it so hard to breathe?
A face leans into view - a face with a visor - the mercenary that stabbed him. "It's not about you," he says, in a voice without emotion. "This is bigger than you know." And the face disappears as the alien stands and walks away, its tentacles flicking across the floor. Bob lets his head roll to the side, watching him leave, and tries to get up - but moving his arms already feels an impossible feat. Everything is growing dark...
Bob closes his eyes. A tear trickles down his cheek.
Bob only wanted ice cream. Is that such a crime?
He feels movement; something stirring in his hand. He opens his eyes, just a little, and sees the scared alien girl crouched next to him, shaking, pressing his teddy bear, Jimmy, into his palm. The faintest hint of a smile flickers across the corner of Bob's lips, and his fingers tighten - barely, almost imperceptibly - around his little friend.
But he moves no more.
Bob Karther's journey has come to an end.
Deep beneath the commotion on the Downtown boulevard, a trio of inmates sit up, aching, among the shattered barrier's debris. As they take stock of their wounds, Saoirse is the first to speak. "Now... maybe we've right to call Shebnii and make a dash for the nearest airlock, and get the iffreann out of -" Suddenly, she notices Caleb's wound: from atop his stomach he pulls a hand dark with blood, and gazes at the stains upon his fingertips. "F-Frank!" she stammers urgently. "Come quick, C-Caleb got shot!"
Caleb is already pulling out two syringes, injecting them into the ports in his suit. One syringe is a painkiller, the other is a coagulant - and they'll take a few minutes to take effect. "I- ugh...I'll be fine, guys, just gotta let this stuff kick in." He certainly doesn't sound like he'll be fine, he notes with some grim amusement. He doesn't feel like it either, given how badly it's hurting - any movement feels agonizing.
Frank looks at his two comrades and lifts a finger to his lips. "Someone's there!" he hisses insistently, pointing in the distance.
The other two inmates look in that direction, and gradually, as their eyes adjust to the dark, they make out the shape of an alien sitting one shelf up on a stack of cargo shelving. The figure seems to notice they're there and waves a spindly arm at the three reprobates. Given the appearance (four thin arms, a mess of tentacles for legs) it appears to be hiltorel.
"He's already seen us," Saoirse whispers. "We should find a way out of here quickly." And she strains her eyes through the darkness, searching for exits - but from where she stands, she can only make out two large, truck-sized doorways at the far side of the massive room - far enough away that they might make it there before the mercs show up... if they run. She points it out to the others.
Unfortunately, Caleb doesn't like this idea. His wound would probably get even worse if he tried to run that fast, and with the amount of pain he's in, he'd rather leave it as a last resort. Instead, he whispers, "I'm gonna go talk to the alien. Don't mention that we're fugitives, okay?" And he begins to limp toward the figure with some difficulty, his teammates following behind.
The alien is sitting with her tentacles dangling off the edge of the shelving, swinging them slowly to and fro as though she's enjoying herself. Saoirse prepares her amps, ready to stasis the girl should she as much as twitch a muscle in their direction. The New Dublin lass is extremely suspicious, for reasons she can't quite pinpoint, but she's trying to work it over in her mind. No one else seems to share her apprehension, though.
As they draw near, Caleb calls out: "Hey! You, uh, wouldn't know of a way out of here, would you? We're... a bit lost."
In response to his question, she breathes out a puff of smoke that lingers in the light, and laughs pleasantly - a short, tinkling sound, full of mirth. It seems somewhat out of place in the warehouse's vast, empty aisles. "Lost? The way you're limping, that doesn't seem to be the worst of your problems right now."
Caleb looks down at his chest. "Yeah, we're in a bit of a mess," he admits.
The hiltorel girl leans forward slightly, as though to get a closer look. "So, who's after you?"
The question as posed is lighthearted and curious, but Caleb is careful with his response. "I think a few people up there didn't really like humans being around. We were just minding our own business when we got attacked. Bastards are still after us, too... you might want to clear out of here before too much longer."
The girl seems taken aback by this suggestion. "Clear out? Me?" she laughs. "I think I'll be all right. Besides, I paid nchii for this smoke - I'm not getting rid of it." She puts her fingers to her lips and breathes deeply, and then laughs again, puffing out a series of little clouds that rapidly dissipate in the lamplight.
Frank speaks up, somewhat shakily. "Could you perhaps tell us where we actually are right now?"
"Underground," she answers simply, as though it closes the matter. She puffs again and relaxes her shoulders, swaying her tentacles back and forth in enjoyment of whatever drugs she's taking. Then, as an afterthought, she adds, "Underneath the downtown area. The old warehouse district. They used to keep goods down here so the up-there could be used for shops. More shops, more chips!" Suddenly she pauses and tilts her head, listening thoughtfully. "Oh, I hear them - they really are close behind, aren't they?"
Caleb nods, and asks, "Know a good place we could get out of here from, or at least lay low so they don't see us?"
The alien blinks. "You could hide back here," she says, gesturing backwards with one of her longer arms. "There are some empty crates up here you could hide behind. I mean, if you trusted me. Not like any human ever trusted hsilkhroael, mmh?" She appraises the three inmates with a cautious, but curious, eye, a little smile playing at her lips.
Finally, at long last, it dawns on Saoirse why she's so unnerved by the girl. They're all armed - all three of them - and plainly so - and yet she doesn't seem the slightest bit afraid, or even nervous. "I gotta say, you d-do seem oddly relaxed for someone who's right a-after seeing some well armed people b-barging in to her hidey hole, to be sure..."
The girl leans back, grinning, as though pleased with Saoirse for making a joke. "Oh, come on, drop the act. You know who I am," she says playfully, with a little wave of her hand. "I can see it on your faces." Then something seems to occur to her, and she pauses. "...Or do I," she muses, sniffing the device in her fingers thoughtfully. Suddenly, she straightens, her dangling tentacles swinging to and fro. "I'm Almina Dheda, the niece of Big Daneelo. You've heard of him, ahega? Nobody messes with Danee." She giggles again, softly.
The fireteam collectively curses internally at this revelation. "One moment," Caleb says to Almina, and then turns around to get close to Frank and Caleb.
"I don't like this," Caleb whispers. "This mission keeps going from bad to worse. It sounds like Almina's uncle is some kind of bigshot mob boss."
"And she's high as a kite," Frank adds nervously. "Our chase led us into potentially bigger trouble."
"Exactly," Caleb agrees. "She might be able to get the mercs off our backs, but I doubt she'll do it for free."
"If she doesn't turn on us," Saoirse mutters. She's still more than a little suspicious of the girl.
Frank and Caleb nod in return - they're not entirely convinced she won't rat them out, either intentionally or otherwise. "If this goes south," Caleb orders in a strange, determined voice, "head for the exits. Don't even look back. We won't have time."
Saoirse gives him a long, calculating look. "You sound like you're planning on staying behind, but that would be a fierce stupid thing to do, to be sure."
Agreeing, Frank adds, "And if we find ourselves in a corner, our chances are better when you're still around with us..."
Caleb shakes his head. They just don't understand, do they? "If we don't scrape these guys off our backs, they'll hunt us down and kill all of us. I can at least buy you time."
The others find it a ridiculous idea. Frank points out that the warehouse is huge, and they'd walk right around him, and Saoirse agrees, saying he'll buy them maybe two seconds at most. "I swear on me mum," she threatens, "either you run with us if things go bad, or I will throw you through the door myself. And I have better things to do with my concentration."
Beginning to feel a bit frantic and desperate, Caleb bursts out, "Dammit, guys! Just fukcing run if that happens! I - I've already had to see my squad all die, before I came here... I couldn't save any of my friends, they all died in front of me and I couldn't do anything! I'm not going to let that happen again... I couldn't save my squad back on Anba, but i might be able to save you guys. I have to! Please, just run if it comes to that!"
"So you want us to experience the same thing by getting yourself killed in an eejit way?" Saoirse shoots back, beginning to feel a bit offended herself.
"It'd be a senseless death," Frank adds, nodding.
And Caleb snaps.
"What the hell do you know about this?!" he spits out, louder than he realizes. "You know what a 'senseless death' would be? You getting killed, just for me! Neither of you have any clue about how serious this is! Saoirse, you can barely bring yourself to fight, and Frank - you're a fukcing janitor! You're not soldiers! You've never even seen battle except in sims and on that pisshole planet Nanyej! That was nothing! Sometimes you can't save everyone! If those bastards see us, don't be an idiot! You have to fukcing run!"
The other two inmates stare at their friend without saying a word, shocked that he'd act like this, and hurt that he'd say those things to them.
In the silence, Caleb realizes his mistake. His breathing slows back down as he wonders where the hell his outburst had even come from. "I - I'm sorry, guys, I -"
Saoirse shakes her head, glaring. "No, no, you're not. You think I haven't seen battle? Is that it?" She's very offended.
"Saoirse, I -"
"Who covered your geadán when you were trapped behind your ship? Who killed the guy who kept teleporting?" She gets right up in his face as she goes on, spitting out one sentence after another. "Who came to fight off those lads while you were knocked out? Who got you meds?"
"But Saoirse -"
Her words come too fast; there's no interrupting her now. "Who gave you a ship to fly back when yours got shot down, hmm? Answer me that. Who went to help the others when they got in shit as well? Who just fecking got us down here in the first place?"
And Caleb is silent, regretting he'd said anything - regretting he'd let them see his intentions. "Saoirse, I -... Yes. Yes, you've seen combat. But don't pretend you have as much combat experience as I do."
She folds her arms and glares at him piercingly. "If experience tells me I need to let friends die because they're being muppets, I don't want no diabhalta experience."
Sighing, Caleb nods, accepting defeat - for now. He may not agree with what she's saying - but he's starting to realize that he can't out-argue her. Instead, he opts to pacify. "Fine," he says, as convincingly as he can manage. "Fine, if we have to run, I'll go with you. I just wanted to make sure we get out of this."
"All of us," Saoirse agrees. "Including you."
And the three inmates climb up the shelving posts, with Frank and Saoirse working together to help Caleb up, and take cover behind the old steel-gray crates. Almina has promised she'd try to get their pursuers off their backs, although her motives remain unclear. In the meantime, Frank tries to patch up Caleb, utilizing the advanced medical kit he brought from the Nemesis.
It's hardly any time at all before the inmates hear the approach of footsteps, and they hunker down, ready to attack if need be. They hear the mercs talking to Almina in some alien language, and they hear her respond in kind. Their conversation goes back and forth for a minute or two - Almina still sounds high as a kite - and finally, they hear the mercs jog away, seemingly satisfied. It looks like Almina was successful.
Frank, on the other hand, was not. "I can't patch it," he finally admits in a whisper. Caleb's wound is too much from him. It's not just a simple plasma burn - something else happened to it - something Frank doesn't quite understand. It's more than he can handle. He can stop the bleeding with the help of the coagulants, sure, but any sudden movement is just going to cause it to open again.
And at that moment, Almina appears from between the crates. "They're gone, you assholes," she hisses. "You should've told me you were from the Nemesis! That was risky - too risky! Dia he a hso, Danee would quarhe akiheha if he knew about this," she groans, half to herself. She seems quite pissed off, actually.
Thoroughly puzzled by his surroundings, Gene continues to wander, when someone taps him on the shoulder. "Hey, it's you!" a voice says. He turns around - an alien is looking at him with a big, happy smile. "You're the human my brother was telling me to look for, right? Abram?"
Hiding his bewilderment, Gene slowly nods. Abram? He can be Abram for a while.
"Great!" the alien laughs. "Fiko said you were a great sharpshooter. You'll love the job we have for you - full pay, of course -"
And the alien goes on to discuss the terms of a long-term job, while Gene just goes with the flow, nodding and pretending.
Meanwhile, the real Abram is still wandering about the square behind them, looking for a contact that never shows.
((Gene will be inactive for a while, or permanently, depending on whether TotallyNotHuman decides to reactivate him later or start a new character.))