Alana glared up at the man in front of her, her hands handcuffed behind her back. Although she wasn’t quite sure whether she could break out on her own, she was positive that Devan, and the rest of the squad could.
But they all just sat silently, looking at her. Sighing inwardly, she kept a stern face to hide her indecision.
“Let me ask again.” The blonde man asked, stepped back away from them. “Where did you come from? How did you survive out there, with the monsters?”
“Like I said, we came from a town to the North. We’ve already established a Newbie Village, and so we have classes-”
The man made a disgusted face. “Bah. Don’t play dumb with me. You sound like the Freedom Fighters. Guns, where are your guns! The only way to beat back these monsters is with bullets. If you survived, it was due to guns. Did you hide them before you came close, looking to fool me?!?! As if, ahhahahaha!”
Alana rolled her eyes, and the man leapt forward and slapped her.
It felt like a child’s slap to her enhanced body, but still her eyes narrowed.
The man stood, straightening his jacket. Then he said, “Fine, keep lying. We will let you starve a bit in your cells, see if you change your tune. If by the end of the week, you still refuse…”
The man’s smile turned sinister. “Well then, don’t blame me for being impolite. Men, take them away.”
Randidly, to his own amusement, was sewing. Apparently there was a big event tomorrow night, and they needed costumes. Lots of costumes. Sam had whined about Randidly learning more basic skills recently, for PP, but Randidly had been so frustrated these past few weeks with the tribulation, and Lyra… He just was disgusted by the thought.
But strangely, after leaving the village, traveling around, seeing so many people, running into Tessa, feeling close to finding clues about Sydney and Ace… Randidly relaxed. So Randidly sat hunched over in a dimly lit warehouse, stitching clothing together.
It was oddly soothing. He also activated Root Manipulation, making the small plants in the area dance. It wasn’t quite as efficient as he normally would want to be, but Randidly supposed that this was something of a break anyway.
He had initially asked if anyone had known if anyone knew someone named Sydney, or Ace, from Rawlands University, but he had just received blank stares. Shrugging, he focused on the knitting. Randidly supposed it wasn’t surprising that they didn’t know anything. There were a lot of people in the city, and only a few dozen people here sewing. This would take time.
Mostly, he listened to the people around him talked, as they stood, walked around and stretched their sore hands, and then sat back down to continue to work.
Randidly continued to stitch, his moves becoming more natural, his loops tighter.
“I heard they are leaving tomorrow morning,” One woman said, but another sighed in response.
“They always say that. The Senator can’t work up enough balls to actually do it, and the fire department isn’t going to volunteer to do it on their own.”
Another woman chimed in. “The Freedom Fighters would do it, if they got enough volunteers.”
The second woman fixed the first with a long stare. “And do you know what volunteering means? Being a meat shield for the gunners. The mortality rate for which… is very, very high. No amount of food is going to make people leap to their deaths. Not when easy work like this is available.”
The woman gestured to the piles of finished clothes next to them all. Her own pile was rather large. Every other nearby person had about 70% of her pile. Except for one.
Randidly’s was about double the size of the woman’s.
They glanced at him, but then ignored him. He was just one of those weird, shut in types who would come out at night to work, and then return to their room to eat. It was disgusting, to the second woman. People like that were exactly the reason why the city stayed bottled up, while monsters ran rampant around them.
Randidly ignored their stares and waited for the talk to continue, intent on his stitching. A notification popped up, and he smiled. His Sewing skill was already Lvl 5. It seemed his increased stats let him grind these finesse tasks relatively quickly.
Time passed, and Randidly stack of clothes continued to grow. After a while, a portly man and a taller woman walked around, picking people. About 1 out of every dozen were chosen. The 2nd woman was chosen and also Randidly, to his own surprise.
“Those that were picked,” The man announced, “Follow this woman. The rest of you, come collect your pay.”
The woman took them back, and introduce herself as Cassie. “This needlework requires a bit more finesse, but the pay is better. If you are interested, I want you to try learning this stitching method.”
Randidly mastered it the quickest, within about 15 minutes, and after an hour of impeccable work using that method, Cassie was shocked that he had been an amateur. The 2nd gossiping woman, her competitive spirit rising, sewed furiously, attempting to keep up.
After another hour, they asked if anyone needed a break. Randidly continued to stitch, heedless, working on an elaborate hoop skirt. The gossipy woman, her eyes bloodshot, looked at him, helpless. Then she bit her tongue and shook her head, returning to the sewing.
Another hour passed, Randidly humming softly to himself. Truly, it was a good thing to relax the body. Over training only strained the body; having hobbies was very important to your mental and physical health.
The woman’s chest heaved, her eyes bulging. But still she kept herself razor focused, never wavering with her needlework.
By this time, Cassie returned, and asked them both if they would like to stay on for another 4 hours, doing embroidery. She cautioned them that if they started, they would need to finish, or they wouldn’t get paid.
Randidly simply nodded, standing and following after her. His Sewing skill had reached 9 anyway, it didn’t seem like grinding like this would have any more effect. The gossiping woman collapsed.
Alana looked curiously at Devan. “You don’t want to escape?”
He simply shrugged,and the rest of them seemed similarly relaxed. Even Clarissa had frozen and shattered her handcuffs after the guards locked them in the room, pulling a pallet out of her spatial ring and taking a nap.
“It is not that I don’t want to escape, but… I want to efficiently accomplish our objective. Their leader is paranoid and stressed beyond what he can handle. He’s worried about everyone taking his power, and thinks guns are his only salvation. I have no doubt that such a desperate, worried man will want a display of power. So we wait, and try to recruit there.”
Blinking, Alana asked. “...display of power…? What do you mean?”
“He means,” One of the squad members interjected, “That the idiot might publicly torture us or some shit, maybe execute us. And he will bring a big crowd together to do it. Better to let them do the gathering, and then cash in on it.”
Clarissa rolled over on her pallet, snoring loudly.
“Thank you so much for the work,” Cassie said, handing Randidly several tokens. He looked at them rather nonplussed. He supposed they were for food, but its not like he needed it, with his satchel space full of it…
“Uh, thank you, it was… enlightening.” Randidly said, and meaning it. His Sewing had reached 11 by the end of the night. Cassie was more than willing to teach such a studious pupil more and more complicated needlework, which had hastened the rise of his skill level.
“No, thank you. If you hadn’t shown up, I would have probably needed to work alone by myself for the rest of the day.” She said beaming. Then she had a sudden thought. “Oh, actually, take these too.”
She offered two slips of paper. Randidly took them, uncomprehendingly.
“Don’t look so confused,” Cassie said, laughing. “You must have noticed the costumes were for- oh god, you really didn’t, haha. It’s for the concert tonight! Those are backstage passes; feel free to come and visit. It’s supposed to be a good show.”
Cassie waved as he left, and Randidly wandered away bemused. A concert, huh….
He supposed live music was a fine way to relax. But for now….he walked briskly back to a job cryer, looking for something to do until the time he had to meet Tessa.
Hopefully there would be more knowledgeable people at this new job.