"This is where you two will be staying for now," Crusher said as she walked into her home. Most people in Fort Skip shared a living space due to a lack of cabins, but everyone respected Crusher enough to give her an entire floor all to herself.
"'For now'?" Edward quoted Crusher as he looked around and peered out of a window. He took note of how the buildings here were vastly different from the ones back at Middletown.
"Yeah, Admiral Barbarossa, for now. Sandy, our construction guru, is working his ass off with a bunch of volunteers to build new ones, but it's not fast since he needs to source the materials himself. The Lord has better things to spend his points on than houses that can be created by hand," Crusher shrugged.
The Titan then put her hammer down and got undressed before changing her clothes, all in the full view of Edward and Harriot.
The bespectacled women looked away in embarrassment while Edward chose not to react, he did, however, have something to say about her words. "Who the hell is 'Admiral Barbarossa'?"
"You, duh," Crusher replied as she tucked her new tank-top into her khaki pants and put a belt on. "Never heard of the famous Admiral Barbarossa who fought the Spaniards in Bougie, for a Turkish sultan in the early fifteen-hundreds? He had a silver arm. I think the name fits, and if it fits, it sticks."
Clearly, Crusher maintained her habit of nicknaming people after historical figures. She was still working on the perfect one for Daz and it was frustrating her that she couldn't think of one, but luckily enough, Edward came along and was able to take the name she'd been saving for Dorian if he ever got a robotic or metal-based arm, which helped relieve her peculiar form of stress.
"But my arm isn't made out of silver, it's made of enchanted clockwork metal from another planet," Edward pointed out calmly.
"Potato potahto." Evidently, much like with Dorian, Crusher didn't care if the nickname wasn't entirely accurate.
Crusher changed her travelling boots to more comfortable ones and cleaned her body with the help of the system. "Okay, I'm all done. You guys wanna look around the base, or would you rather sit in here for the rest of the evening? I don't really care either way."
"Is it okay for us to walk around the base?" Edward asked. he was under the assumption that he and Harriot were prisoners, not tourists.
"It doesn't matter. It's impossible for you to escape or cause trouble with me looking after you two, so you guys should just enjoy yourselves. Don't tell him I said this, but Daz probably won't actually kill you if you don't get enough loyalty. He'll probably just forbid you from fighting and keep trying to gain your respect and faith until he can trust you guys," Crusher claimed with a low sigh.
"He seemed pretty serious to me," Edward retorted.
Harriot silently nodded her head in agreement. She was very scared of Daz, especially after having watched him snap Joseph's neck so heartlessly, even if Joseph was Human scum.
"Well, from what I've seen, he only kills people with evil alignments or people that attack him, which by the way, has only ever happened twice so far, hahaha!" Crusher laughed a bit dismissively.
"And why does that make you confident that he won't deal with us like he said he would?" Edward fired back.
Crusher stood up and shrugged casually. "Well, you can believe me or not, I don't really care. I just know that the Lord values your combat abilities, so he won't kill you unless you royally fuck things up. He's just playing mind games with you. He does that a lot. You should see the shit he's pulling with this kid, Dorian, and his dad, the general, on the other side of town. Fun stuff, hahaha."
She then held her stomach and scratched her neck. "You two hungry? I haven't eaten since this morning."
Harriot blushed lightly and said, "Yeah..."
Edward looked cautious. 'What kind of trick is she trying to pull? Well, for now, I guess something to eat wouldn't be bad. Maybe it'd calm down my nerves a bit...'
Edward then called the system with his mind and was about to buy a snack from it when Crusher noticed his unfocused eyes and grabbed his hand to stop him. "Whatcha talking to the system for? We've got a chef here, y'know?"
"A chef?" Edward asked as he tugged his arm away from Crusher's grasp.
"Yeah. Great cook. This old guy called Bobby. It was his job in the old world, now it's his job in the new one. Kinda ironic how we're meant to adapt, but some us just stay the same, huh?" Crusher noted with a chuckle.
"I suppose so," Edward replied half-heartedly, clearly not taking Crusher's philosophical statement very seriously.
The three left Crusher's home and made their way to one of the three brand new buildings. It would seem that all of the otherworlders from the dungeon, the children included, had decided to help Sandy with his construction efforts after Mave had taught them the simplest of English words and phrases.
Two new houses had been erected and filled with the otherworlders. A third, slightly larger and different structure stood before Crusher, Hariot and Edward. It had a big open-entrance and the signboard above it read, 'Bobby's Trashy Cookhouse'.
"Not the most appealing name, is it?" Edward quipped sarcastically.
Crusher laughed. "I think it fits the theme of Fort Skip perfectly, hahaha! Let's go in. I'm excited to see what Bobby can do with some real cooking tools and facilities."
Edward and Harriot followed her in. 'Why are the people here so happy? Haven't they lost their loved ones? Don't they realise that death lays just around the corner? A bunch of carefree idiots.' Cynical thoughts clouded Edward's mind, but contrary to this, his loyalty stat was actually increasing.
Twenty minutes later, the three were served. Even if Bobby was a very skilled chef, it was currently dinner time, so the place was full and he could only do so much by himself and with the help of his two new employees that wished to learn how to cook professionally. It was very difficult doing a job whilst also training newbies. That was a lesson that Bobby had to learn the hard way.
Edward brought a forkful of spaghetti to his lips and he was immediately entranced by the tantalising smell. The second he put the food in his mouth, he felt like an explosion of flavour had gone off and all of his senses went numb. 'This... This is incredible!'
Edward and Harriot wolfed down their meals and left the building with Crusher after their second serving. Seeing their satisfied expressions, Crusher grinned and asked, "Pretty good, right?"
"More like impossibly good. Was that stuff drugged? I certainly feel like I can't go back to eating regular food after that..." Edward sighed in defeat. Food was, indeed, the way into a man's heart.
"Hahaha! There are skills for all kinds of stuff. Harriot should have identified Bobby, right? The Lord identifies almost everyone he meets," Crusher laughed as she walked towards the barracks.
Harriot looked a bit flustered at having been directly spoken too, but she promptly replied, "I didn't. I thought it'd be rude..."
"I guess you're right, huh?" Crusher said. "Anyway, Bobby has a bunch of skills that helps enhance the flavour of his dishes. He can even apparently give you stats from his food, though it's really rare and hasn't happened yet."
"Stats... from food?" Edward asked with a bit of shock in his tone.
"Yeah," Crusher nodded her head. "Why, did you think you could only get stats directly from the system?"
"No, but I assumed that non-fighting classes were mostly useless. Harriot and Ben were the only exceptions to that... I guess I was wrong," Edward responded self-deprecatively.
Crusher stopped just outside of the barracks' training area and looked right at Edward. "It's a test of adaptability, not of combat skills. Isn't it obvious that every class would have a use, even if they can't raise their weapons to defeat the monsters? After all, if it was meant just for fighting, the whole base system would be completely pointless."
"Yeah, I suppose you're right. I just wasn't focused on anything except for..." Edward trailed off.
"Except for?" Crusher asked curiously.
"Except for nothing," Edward replied after he had regained his cold demeanour. "Anyway, why'd you bring us here?"
"Ah, well, you're pretty tough, right, big guy? Wanna go at it a bit? I'll hold back, I promise, hahaha!" Crusher suggested as she pointed at the ring behind her.
Edward frowned. "No. I'd rather not. I'd like to go back and sleep, to be honest. Is that okay with you?" he asked with some fire in his voice.
"How boring. Fine, let's go back home then. Spoilsport," Crusher sighed and turned around before she began walking in the direction of the cabins.
Harriot breathed out in relief. 'Thank god she didn't ask me too... What would I have done if she forced me to fight her? Knowing my luck... I'd have probably died... ha... ha... ha...'
Edward, now sat on his bed in a small room that was a part of Crusher's home, took a small piece of paper out of his wallet. A warm smile took a hold of his lips as he read the words scribbled on the sheet in sloppy handwriting and with nonexistent grammar.
'i wuv yoo daddy wand i hop yoo com hom sun'
Even to this day, he could still clearly remember the happy look on Jenna's face when he returned home from the war in the Middle East. She was only four at the time and she meant everything to him.
He carefully put the small letter back into his wallet and he renewed his resolve. "I will see you again, sweetheart. I will... I swear, even If it means that I have to scrap up five-million points to do it, and not a single second of my being won't be poured into earning these damned points. If this is all a lie, an elaborate trick, then I'll return to Middletown and bring you back to me, one way or the other."
Harriot was lying down in her bed with a conflicted expression on her face. on one side, she was now free from Edward's control, on the other side, she had entered another man's grasp. "You really hate me, don't you, lady luck?" she mumbled under her breath as she held up her hand and grabbed at the air fruitlessly.
A knocking sound coming from the door woke her from her momentary melancholy. Harriot scrambled to her feet and put her glasses back on before she answered the door. "Crusher? C-Can I help you?" she asked timidly after realising exactly who it was. 'Of course it was Crusher, you silly girl! If it was Edward, he'd have just walked in without even knocking...'
The Titan grinned and handed over a medallion to her. "Here, your identification medal. You need it to leave or enter the base. Though you can't go out unless the Lord also gives you his permission, but it's one of these things that you need as well. Like a passport?"
She paused for a second before she continued. "Also, the Lord wants to talk to you. Go see him in his cabin in the inner fort. Ger's waiting outside to escort you there," Crusher added.
"He wants to talk... to me? Why? And who's Ger?" Harriot asked.
"Yeah. Who knows why? It's hard to get a read on that kid. Ger's the bald black guy. Can't miss him even if you tried. Nice guy. He's got two kids, y'know?" Crusher answered with a bit of a chuckle.
'This woman is so hard to talk to!' Harriot complained internally. "I see... We-Well then... I guess I'll go?"
"'Kay. I still need to look after Broody Barbarossa, so have fun and say 'hi' for me, hahaha," Crusher said as she walked down the small hallway and waved behind her, leaving Harriot standing there dumbly with her medallion in her hands.
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