January 8th, 2016
Sullivan Tech Services - University District
Safe Haven Harbor
xxxxxAgatha had selected this space to stash supplies and other sundries not long after the fall of civilization. While it didn't serve well as a "home", it was an excellent "fall back" position and secure storage place -- because it had been in its previous life an actual police station after the index of violent incidents on campus had mandated such. Unbeknownst to Agatha it had also served as a point by which the Mysterium's Atheneum was provided additional security by the Adamantine Arrow when an Arrow Mage member of the APD had been installed as the administrative sergeant.
xxxxxSo it wasn't really surprisingly it had survived the Apocalypse intact when one considered that the station had also served as that mage's sanctum, and that mage had been a Moros with a gift for things like strengthening walls and windows and such.
xxxxxThe Mage in question had been less lucky and had died during the implosion of the local Arrow Caucus, dying in the crossfire between the Arrows backing the Landace cause and those backing the Dunlins. The Police from the station had died when the Beanstalk had emerged from the Anthropology building and let loose monsters of horrific mythology... there had been no Police left to replace them a few days later. Agatha had found the keys when she had found an officer's body near the Computer Science lab and the rest had followed.
xxxxxNot that the place had emerged unscathed or that entropy had not taken its toll, and Agatha had added to that state of decay by gutting machines for or into parts, and creating a graveyard of appliances and electronics while she generated supply for trade and influence. That being the case, when the storms finally let up enough for her to feel comfortable asking her housemate to shovel the door clear from the snow that had built up over the last weeks of Christmas and she stepped inside the state of things was not what she expected.
xxxxxThe glass windows that had been reinforced with tape to keep the cracks from giving way and keep the wind out where all now tape and crack free. The ceiling tiles that had fallen were now back in place and the fans hung below the rectangular fluorescent lamps turned slowly overhead -- the apocalypse had hit during the summer after all. The linoleum gleamed brightly in reflection of that light, dappling the now untorn and unfaded posters on the wall and papers on the corkboard with little circles of light. And the few desks now were covered with working computers that showed the APD image on the screen that functioned as a screen saver. There was also no hint of animal urine lingering.
xxxxxAs she makes her way down the shoveled path to the door of the building, Agatha is bundled for work in the building that she expects to hold a chill between the drafts and the weather outside. There's a moment of confusion as she stares around the interior, then she stops and looks back outside before turning to look back within. She freezes in place a moment while she processes mentally the interior looking like it once looked, a couple of years ago, before the End of the World. "What the hell..." She starts, moving inside and letting the door close behind her as she looks for signs that all of this work might have been done by someone she knows. By some practical joker, perhaps, or someone making a thoughtful gesture to help her out. (Not that those things really happen to her, she mentally snarks to herself.)
xxxxxShe moves through the rooms, looking for her equipment, the things she was working on repairing, testing the lights and adjusting the heat. All these things to check just how thoroughly things have been improved and maybe some sign as to how.
xxxxx"Go Pods!" It chirrups in greetings, its oversized black in black eyes blinking cutely at her and its beak spreading impossibly in emulation of a human smile.
xxxxxAs Agatha cautiously makes her way about the antechamber that is curiously free of the organized clutter she had put there herself, she becomes aware of the sensation of being watched. It only takes a moment for her to pick up the origin though as her eyes catch the jawa-sized form of "Roar of the Crowd", her pack totem -- a cartoonishly adorable squid face wearing a mock campus security uniform from before the era the APD took over, twirling a baton in its thick fingers.
xxxxx"Go Pods!" It chirrups in greetings, its oversized black in black eyes blinking cutely at her and its beak spreading impossibly in emulation of a human smile.
xxxxx"Did you do all of this?" She eyeballs the spirit a moment, though it's hard to make a stern face at the adorable qualities of "Roar of the Crowd". "Are you moving in to star handling security? New sheriff in town?" Agatha asks speculatively as though she weren't really expecting this to be the case. "I know that I left a bunch of stuff in here and nothing's here now. So, where did my stuff go?"
xxxxxThe campus stadium's spirit that serves as Agatha's totem shakes its oversized mascot-ish head to the negative if asked if it cleaned up. It flicks its security badge with a broad wink at her next question, then eyes the badge when she asks about being the Sheriff as if to check if it says that. When she asks about her stuff, it digs out an oversized magnifying glass and a notepad with a giant foam pencil. That this requires it to hold the magnifying glass with its face tentacles is no issue for it.
xxxxxRoar of the Crowd cheers, "It's a mystery! They would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you darn kids!"
xxxxxIf she weren't paying such close attention to the detailed changes in the room, Agatha might find the antics of the spirit very entertaining and adorable. But while he preps for assisting with her investigation, she's walking to doors that would have led to maintenance, to a storage closet and to a temporary holding cell area. All possible spots where her equipment might be stashed away by whoever is responsible for the maintenance work done. "Don't get me wrong, the place looks better than it's looked in, we'll a couple years, I'll have to keep people out of here or someone will try to move in and I don't need that. But this is just weird."
xxxxxMoving further back into the relatively small accommodations of the satellite police station, Agatha passes the open door to the unisex bathroom accessed from the same uncarpeted space that continues past the central booking desk that blocks the foyer from the officer desks where the computers waited under the fans. The maintenance room, the door beyond which lead to the small armory in this station, is absent of her collected parts -- but has two complete looking Desk Top PCs, six departmental laptops stacked upon each other, the charging stations for the bricks and said radios on said charging ports and her tools, cleaned and new looking on a rubber cheese cloth upon the stainless steel table. While many of the little bins and drawers are now empty, they are all sparkling clean -- damaged plastic somehow repaired, and those that do have parts inside are full of working parts -- ram chips, light bulbs that aren't burnt out and the like. The armory door, which had been bent on its hinges in one of the ground quakes during the apocalypse, now seems flush with its frame and waiting to be pulled upon with the slightest of pressure.
xxxxxThe storage closet, likewise is mostly empty -- some of this by Agatha herself, but the frames of computer servers, radios, televisions and monitors that had been in there have been replaced... by what look to be factory new server towers, stereos, televisions and monitors -- not neatly stacked either, but haphazardly deposited in complete condition. The situation in the cell is not too different; collected parts missing replaced by working models as if brownies had come by in the night and repaired them all for a saucer of cream and some cookies.
xxxxxRoar of the Crowd toddles behind her as she goes, occasionally showing his appreciation for the collected loot -- which to his alien senses just seem like stacks of material tribute -- but hooting out the ARU fight song or sounding like a crowd oohing and cheering. As Agatha seems less enthused by comparison, he takes her slender human hand in his four fingered one so he can pat it with his other hand, transferring his notepad and pencil to his tentacles to accommodate this supportive gesture.
xxxxxWith her tour of the building finished and the changes assessed, Agatha does have a somewhat stunned look on her face. Each of the shiny and functioning laptops and desktops and all the bits and pieces that are in perfect functioning order, earn a close inspection and frequent scowls. She finishes the rounds to find Roar of the Crowd holding her hand in a comforting gesture and looks down at the spirit. "I'm missing stuff, and I don't know what I'm supposed to do with these things. I mean, I guess I can tear a few of these down, or just use them to fill orders. But John and Jimmy are expecting their specific tablets back, that's not what this stuff is, this is... well, this is all stuff that I have no idea where it came from. Most of it looks like the trash I drug out of here the first week I was in here. It's like that stuff was back in working order, and I scrapped that stuff for parts and trash a long time ago."
xxxxxThere is a buzzing sound from the front of the shop, it takes Agatha a moment to realize it’s the wall buzzing because the front door has been opened. "Yo, Agatha!" She recognizes Malcolm's voice carrying back to her. There is no sound of his feet padding as he makes the way back, Malcolm is many things and a werewolf ninja is one of those. Spying her and the spirit, Malcom throws up a "Devil's Horns" with his left hand in greeting and then he says, "Some people stopped at the K.E.G.," his way of saying the KEG house, "with payment for some work you did. Kool-Aid sent me over since he had to go to a meeting down town about the fire department. He also said he would back later since he needed to go hunting."
xxxxxMalcolm then widens his too blue eyes and bent down pulling a rolling desk chair out of the way. "Oooh!" Agatha could hear him say with some excitement, then a light sound of effort and he heaved a box atop the desk. One hand diving inside he extracted an IPAD, "You've been holding out on me Stretch... you got chargers in here too?"
xxxxx"People with payment?" Agatha frowns at that, mentally running through who might still owe her and coming up short. "Okay, thanks, I'll go see them." She starts towards the front door right as Malcolm is pulling out a desk chair and making himself at home. "Hey, don't mess with my stuff! I'm... in the middle of a project in here. Yeah, ah, there's some back there." She gestures towards where she saw some in the course of looking everywhere for her other stuff." Then she squeezes Roar of the Crowd's four-fingered hand and moves out to walk the short distance to the KEG house to see who is waiting on her there.
xxxxxSince Agatha hadn't been expecting anyone, that the crowd was more than a couple of unexpected guests was more than unexpected. She could see some across the grounds on the KEG porch even before she could no longer here Malcolm griping that the version of Cola Crisis on the IPAD he had picked up was way out of date. Perhaps perversely, Skip had cleared the sidewalks about the grounds with his tackling-dummy-cum-snowplow instead of straight paths across the grass between key locations, so Agatha has time to make observations as she has to take a right-angled trip instead of a straight shot. The Totem had stayed back with Malcolm "Baller" Reynolds... perhaps for company or to keep him from messing with Agatha's stuff, maybe because outsiders didn't respond well to seeing a walking cartoon squid man.
xxxxxAs she got closer, she could identify several of her clients - local in the neighborhood to not so local out into the Penobscot Bay islands, one of which that played host to the unofficial "Black Market" away from the eyes of City Councilor Tyler's security forces. Among the people were obvious signs of payment -- a couple of goats, a mesh wire coop with pigeons, a sheered sheep and several trussed up red tail deer. The animals were restless, as if the sensed predators nearby even if they could not see them; the dogs that accompanied a few of those waiting were more tense to the point of almost being twitchy.
xxxxxA ways down the campus, Agatha could pick out the procession of school children crossing onto the grounds from the crosswalk at the Public Library off campus and heading for the Social Sciences building that had become the "defacto" public school and community learning access since the elementary school had fallen into a sinkhole that erupted beneath it during the End of the World. The little faces were turned toward the KEG House, likely curious about the unusual crowd gathered there.
xxxxxThere was probably a good reason for the meandering turns of the path, but Agatha knows to pick her battles - besides she didn't want to do the snow shoveling herself - but it doesn't stop the muttering about the walk she needs to take instead of having a straight shot. She only briefly glances towards the school children, more focused on the need to see the people waiting to see her and then because she's curious and surprised to find so many people there.
xxxxxAs she crosses the final distance on the path to the house, slowing down, she greets everyone with practiced pleasant expression. "Hello everyone." Mentally noting to herself that some of these people hadn't received their stuff yet, and knowing that she's not usually paid in advance.
xxxxxA choir of greetings is offered in return, some terse, some non-verbal, a few formal. There is an outburst of people talking at once, but then the front door opens and Zoe Ann Matson, Malcolm's mate and another local wolfblooded like Agatha herself, ushers Agatha with a gesture to come in and holds up her hands to the others. "She'll be with you one at a time. Everyone's business is personal -- if y'all didn't want to wait outside in the cold, y'all should have made appointments first, you reckon?" Her voice is soft and almost little girl-like, but there is steel behind it of the sort that southern belles were taught to wield in a pre-apocalypse world.
xxxxxOnce Agatha is back inside Zoe gives her a quick, unsolicited hug, as usual and then she repeats most of what Malcolm had already related in her own breathy way. Only after giving Agatha a cup of steamy chicken bouillon broth does she pick up her clipboard and open the door. "She'll see number one now -- y'all best better leave that goat on the porch." Once "Number One" has entered, Zoe closes the door, tosses her hair over her shoulder with a single neck twist and the heads herself for the kitchen.
xxxxxNumber One, actually Maggie Husted who had talked to Agatha about repairing the heating regulator system in the apartment building she "managed" for the city council's housing commission after it broke in mid-December, bobbed her head in greeting, brushing at some snow on her brand new looking flannel coat -- a coat Agatha had seen before a few weeks earlier, that she could have sworn was patched on one sleeve and stitched up along one collar.
xxxxxThat Zoe seems to have a bit of a better grasp of things that are going on, and how to wrangle the crowd that was inclined to all talk at once, or at least want her attention at once, gets a look of appreciation from Agatha. She's even half-returned the hug that was given in greeting while she listens to the repeated information as well as the plan.
xxxxxAs Maggie comes inside, Agatha works to keep her own confusion out of her expression. Instead she listens to what the woman has to say, noticing the coat but perhaps not connecting it to the business that the woman might have with her. "Everything okay, Maggie?" Keeping her inquiry vague, letting the woman explain.
xxxxxMaggie only hesitates a moment before smiling and saying, "Honestly, Agatha - I need to apologize for doubting you. Fixing computer tablets and stuff -- that seemed like something a college student could do if she had the right tools and parts -- but that building system is supposed to be really complicated, special certification and training. At least that is what the manual and paperwork down in the furnace room said. I didn't even know you were coming in Christmas Eve to fix it, the door watch didn't see you -- got them in a little trouble to be honest, what if you had been some nightstalking monster? But everybody woke up warm and toasty Christmas morning -- and whatever you did got the central air working too.. and the heat must have defrosted whatever was wrong with the water heater because the hot water came on, the laundry room was working again... its like the building was brand new!" The near-middle aged woman is gushing at this point. "I know our original agreement was only for weekly share of the milk -- but the building committee agreed, and we all just wanted you to have two of the goats free and clear. We just can't thank you enough, we're telling everybody about what you managed to do. I guess from the turn out, you've been more busy than most this winter."
xxxxx"I, uh..." Agatha starts rather ineloquently and then gives a quick smile, "Ah, yeah. I've been very, very busy, actually..." She rubs the side of her neck with a hand, bobbing her head, "I'm glad it is all to your liking." If the thought crosses her mind that she should correct the misunderstanding that she was responsible for everything being suddenly perfect it doesn't linger long, quickly replaced by it having been (at least in part) contractual work she had signed on for and would expected to be paid for. "If there's anything else that I can do for you, you'll call I hope. And I appreciate you stopping by, I'm sorry that I can't talk long, I have quite the line after all out there."
xxxxxAfter Maggie is shown out and the next caller is shown in, the cycle repeats itself with some variation -- work completed, parts requested for an in-house fix obviously found and she fixed it -- several complaints about her just "letting herself in", but these mollified by the gratitude for the work done, and payment in various forms is left off. Then, the procession changed from "contracts concluded" to "suppliers". In some cases it was her suppliers apologizing for having lost items she had dealt with them to secure, in others it was some indirect accusation that *she* had liberated the items without paying. Indirect because most of her suppliers had met with Skip on at least one occasion and understood the risk of being *too* aggressive on the subject.
xxxxxOf course there was always going to be exception.
xxxxxAnd that exception today was "Captain" Jonah "Jack" Hood, formerly of Surry, ME back in the pre-cataclysm days, since then the leader of the equivalent of a Mad Maxian biker gang that used jet skis and an armor sailboat to prowl the bay area and liberate supplies from "abandoned" private island and coastal homestead ruins. Agatha had used to do business with Jack through a middle man, but that middle-man had lived outside the safe zone and had disappeared back in October forcing Agatha to do business with Jack via CB and eventually direct interaction on a boat outside the mysterious "sea wall" that had encircled the harbor out past the Eastern outlook. This typically done during the day, and while Skip was away, Agatha had a pretty confident feeling Skip meeting Captain Jack would be bad for business, and the truth was, Jack brought in pretty lucrative trade goods.
xxxxx"There was a reason," Jack had started, his tone oily with false cordiality, "That I never invited you out to Hood's Island, Sullivan." He spread his hands wide, "Not because I was afraid a young woman like yourself might have concerns about coming out to a "pirate island" and retaining her virtue and good name... which would have been a fair point on your part ... but so you wouldn't be in a position to *rob* me." His yellowing teeth were bared in a smile that was less friendly than a primate sign of aggression. "I've got my own informants, and I've heard about your sudden upturn in luck this past year with finding loot out in the badlands... unnaturally good luck, and somehow avoiding all the troubles out there from Bangor, or Darwin's Creek or the others. I'm not saying you made deals with the scavengers or sold out refugees or the like... just saying your luck turned enough to make a gentleman a mite bit nervous."
xxxxx"So then... imagine my consternation -- that the right word, college girl? Consternation? When I woke up one morning and found *all* of my parts salvage missing, and my nautical head quarters gone as well. It took us six months to put that together and now it’s gone. And then I get word that parts of it are moored at one of the marinas here in town -- the fucking name of my ship right there on the side in plain sight? And then I get here and talk to some people and find out to my surprise you're a "community leader" of an entire district of The Haven, and you're shacked up with the Fire Chief who does special ops missions with some big honcho LT in the City Watch and such?"
xxxxx"I imagine you have a pretty story to tell me, one that is going to improve my mood." The sea raider theorizes with another smile mixing faux manners and honest fury.
xxxxxThe false front of relaxed calm and friendliness was easier to maintain while meeting with all of the other one-on-one meetings but for the last of them she keeps the calm front with a more professional sort of demeanor and she cocks her head to one side while she listens to him explain his visit. There's a visible scowl at the implication that she would rob him, her lips pursed for a moment to stifle her immediate impulse to defend herself or protest the suggestion she would rob him. She knows where the lines are. But there's only so much implication she'll take before her hands fist on her hips and she lifts her chin a little.
xxxxx"Not sure what my position working for the community or my relationship status has to do with our business arrangement. I assure you, I've not set foot on your island. If you've had stuff go missing, it's not me who took it. The business on your island has nothing to do with my work here." This is says with an earnest tone of voice and diplomatic expression.
xxxxx"Some might say," Jack responds, "That when a girl plays the outlaw on one hand, but has deep ties to the establishment on the other, that she might think she can play fast and loose with other outlaws and be safe behind her walls and connections from retribution. Of course, there is no such thing as *safe* for a person who would do that, just an hourglass of time creeping toward just retribution." He spreads his hands again, "But sure. I'm willing to believe that you're innocent, and you can use your connections to find out who is was behind jacking Ol' Cap'n Jacks loot. I'm even willing to give you until the 1st of Spring... that should be plenty of time with most folks all bundled in for the winter and this being the best point of trade for food stuff and medical supplies."
xxxxxHe moves then, with a sudden quickness that surprises Agatha, who is known for her own swift reflexes and he slaps something hard down on the table. Releasing it with a flourish and backing a step away so she can get an eyeful. He backs toward the front door, gesturing toward the item, which she can easily make out is a 30.06 caliber rifle bullet. "Just to show you how serious I am, Sullivan. I expect to hear from you before March 21st." He taps two fingers to his eyebrow like a salute, and then exits through the front door.
xxxxxLooking at the bullet more carefully Agatha realizes something much more troubling about it.
xxxxxIt is very obviously made of silver.
xxxxxThat lifted chin lowers slightly and her expression grows more guarded with anger as she hears the obvious threat in Jack's words. "Find out who's robbed your or what?" She's just started to ask when he moves to give punctuation to his threats. Her eyes narrow as he moves and so quickly slaps down what was in his hand. She doesn't look at it initially, not while he is still a more immediate threat in the room.
xxxxxWhen he's backed out of the door she shudders, shaking her hands that were tightly clenched as the adrenaline courses through her and trying to disperse the feeling while she looks towards what was slapped onto the table. That it's a bullet registers first, that its silver is a jolt of cold water and electricity to her thought process. "Well, fuck." The word comes a little more harshly than she might have intended for it to come, the day was already confusing her and making her a little irritated, all of her own stores of stocked up electronics repair items and equipment she had has gone MIA - things are fixed all over for reasons she doesn't understand, which will also be bad for business. She was willing to take all the payments that were showing up on her doorstep, after all she intended to do the work and somehow it had been done, and then some in some cased. But this last meeting was not the icing on the cupcake that is her day. She reaches out and snatches up the bullet, considering for a moment what to do with it. To hide it would be stupid because of the implications of what this means that Captain Jack knows & the threat he is for the pack as well as everything going on over the mainland. She thinks and she looks in the direction of where Zoe had last gone, to see if the woman had wandered back into the room, somehow sensing the discomfort and danger of the conversation that had been going on not being pleasant like the others had been. "I'm going to have to tell the Pack." She tells the empty room.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-- Fin --