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Vox Mentis
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
#76
 

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(03-24-2015, 01:11 AM)Whimbrel Wrote: Nnnnnn I think this guy meant what he said. So, like. Total creeper. I mean, come on. He's probably in human trafficking or something shady like that.

You have a bad feeling about him, trust your gut. I would take off once you're done eating.

You swallow the last of your hash browns. "Well, thanks for thinking of me, but you know, I'm pretty happy with what I've got going on now. Thanks, though." You gulp coffee dregs. "Thanks for the breakfast." You reach for your bag.

"It pays."

You hesitate. "How much?" You catch yourself. What are you thinking? He's wearing a plastic watch. He's going to take you to some dingy apartment and lock the door. There is no job. "Look, you know what, I'm just gonna pass."

He reaches into a pocket and opens his wallet. When you grabbed it, you'd noted no more than twenty dollars in there. "How much do you want?" He unzipped a section and tossed notes on the table. You stare. There's a lot of them. "We wear cheap clothing because it would look odd if we stood around on street corners in ten thousand dollar suits."

"I see," you say, not really listening.

"Let go of your bag."

You look at him. Apparently it's obvious that you've been thinking of snatching that cash and running like hell. You release the bag.

(03-24-2015, 12:52 AM)Schazer Wrote: Ask what penalty there is for failing, because this guy seems like the kind of sadistic asshole who'd make sure there is one, no matter how innocuous-sounding the test.

(03-24-2015, 01:58 AM)Crowstone Wrote: oh wait, you know what this is, this is like that movie where they found the magicians to induct into the secret magician society. This is fine then, just make sure you know what will happen if you fail the test.

"And what if I fail this test of yours? What's the penalty?"

"No penalty. You get a first-class air ticket to our head office in DC. You spend one week there, doing a round of tests. If you pass, you become a trainee on a starting salary of sixty thousand dollars. Fail, and we fly you home again with five thousand in an envelope for your trouble. How's that sound?"

"Like a scam."

He laughs. "I know. It does sound like a scam. I thought the same thing when they approached me."

You keep looking at the cash on the table. You don't want to. It's irresistible.

"You went to school," Lee says. "I mean, at some point. They wanted to teach you things you didn't care about. Dates and math and trivia about dead presidents. They didn't teach you persuasion. Your ability to persuade is the single most important determinant of your quality of life, and they didn't cover that at all. Well, we do. And we're looking for students with natural aptitude."

(03-24-2015, 10:21 AM)AgentBlue Wrote: Fuck it. What have you got to lose?

"Okay," you say. "I'm interested; I'll take a ticket."

He smiles. You wonder if there really is a job. He's kind of believable.

"Show me something," you say. "Something official."

He slides a business card across the table. His full name is Lee Child. You tuck this into your bag, feeling better.

"Now you know who I am," says Lee. "Who are you?"

"Elise."

"Okay, Elise. Are you a cat person or a dog person?"
03-24-2015, 12:59 PM
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Mirdini
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Neither? The only pet you've ever had was your Grandma's old African Grey when you were a kid.
03-24-2015, 02:42 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-24-2015, 02:42 PM)Mirdini Wrote: Neither? The only pet you've ever had was your Grandma's old African Grey when you were a kid.

"What? Why?"

Lee shrugs. "Just making conversation."

"Weird. Anyway, neither. I've only ever had an old African Grey when I was a kid. Inherited it from my grandmother."

"What's your favorite color?"
03-24-2015, 02:49 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Yellow. And gosh golly, we KNEW you were a pro at giving questionaires.

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03-24-2015, 02:59 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-24-2015, 02:59 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: Yellow. And gosh golly, we KNEW you were a pro at giving questionaires.

"Wow, you are, like, sooo good a giving questionnaires," you deadpan. "I can see why they hired you."

"Just answer the question."

"I'm just saying, as someone who's supposed to know about banter, you're really terrible at it," you say. "Yellow."

"Close your eyes and pick a number between one and a hundred."
03-24-2015, 03:14 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
#81
 

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50 (dollars)

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03-24-2015, 03:15 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-24-2015, 03:15 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: 50 (dollars)

"Fifty."

"Do you love your family?"
03-24-2015, 03:17 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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What do you think, Lee? Do I look like I had a great home life?

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03-24-2015, 03:22 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-24-2015, 03:22 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: What do you think, Lee? Do I look like I had a great home life?

You don't move. "Are you serious? You think I'd be here with my piss-stained pants if I had a good family?" You almost get up. But you don't. "No."

"Okay, then," says Lee. "Last question. Why did you do it?"

You stare.

"Don't manufacture an answer," says Lee. "I'll be able to tell, and it will invalidate the test."
03-24-2015, 03:27 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Because I wasn't going to let it happen again.

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03-24-2015, 03:30 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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PG-13 WARNING:
Spoiler :
There might be some unsettling sexual content in this particular entry. If sketchy sex situations bother you, maybe skip this one. Trust me, I wouldn't include it if it wasn't important.

(03-24-2015, 03:30 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: Because I wasn't going to let it happen again.

"This doesn't sound like a questionnaire."

"It's a personality test."

"Is this Scientology?"

"No."

"Amway?"

"I promise it's not Amway. It's no one you've heard of. You're very close, Elise. What's your answer?"

"To your bullshit question?"

"You don't have to agree with it. You just have to answer honestly."

"Fine," you say. "I did it because I wasn't going to let it happen again."

Lee nods. "One disappointing thing about this job. People always turn out to be less interesting than you hope." Before you can decide whether he insulted you, he speaks a jumble of words. They slide by you and are gone. You feel dazed. "Go to the restroom," he says. "Wait there for me."

~

You walk to the counter. You're leaving your bag behind, but that's okay. Lee will look after it. You ask a boy behind the register for a restroom key and he gives you a look but hands it over. There's a single stall. You close the toilet lid and sit on it.

After a minute, the door opens and Lee comes in, talking on a cell phone. "Yeah. But hey, we're here, let's give it one more pass." He stops in front of you. "I'm actually with her now. Thought there was something there, for a minute." He fumbles with his pants zipper.

You're in an interesting place. You're present, but remote. Detached. Somewhere deep inside you, something is screaming.

What do you do?
03-24-2015, 03:40 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Kill him.

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03-24-2015, 03:46 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Backup plan: Cut out his tongue and steal his wallet. GTFO

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03-24-2015, 04:00 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Third idea: Persuade him to zip up, shut up, give you his wallet, and leave. Maybe if you ask those questions??

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03-24-2015, 04:31 PM
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Schazer
 RE: Vox Mentis
#90
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Tuck knees up to your chest to display closed body language, also so you kick him in either the kneecap, groin, or stomach region (depending on height) with the strongest muscles in your body.

Then yeah maybe kill him
03-24-2015, 05:17 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-24-2015, 03:46 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: Kill him.

(03-24-2015, 05:17 PM)Schazer Wrote: Tuck knees up to your chest to display closed body language, also so you kick him in either the kneecap, groin, or stomach region (depending on height) with the strongest muscles in your body.

Then yeah maybe kill him

The screaming deep inside you gets stronger, taking control of your legs, which you draw up to your chest. You shake as you fight against the cage your body seems to have become, pounding against invisible walls, and then suddenly you're free, and your leg shoots out and you kick Lee in the balls as hard as you fucking can.

(03-24-2015, 04:00 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: Backup plan: Cut out his tongue and steal his wallet. GTFO

He howls. You try and kick him again as he's doubling over, and you catch his face with your heel. You grab for his wallet pocket, but apparently he didn't bring it in here with him. You pound him in the face with your boot again as he lies on the ground, ready to kill this fucker, stomp his face into oblivion, but the door opens and a terrified McDonald's grunt worker pokes his head in. You run past him, banging the door open. "Pervert!" you yell to the turning faces. "There's a pervert in there!" You scoop up your bag. Not one person moves. "Pervert!" you shout, and run.

~

In the alley, boys in baseball caps are dealing drugs or freestyling lyrics or whatever they do and one steps towards you, his hands out. You blast past him. Your bag bounces. It's three blocks before you feel safe enough to stop and check whether Lee is following. No. You drop your bag for a second and put your hands on your knees to suck air. People flow around you. What just happened? You remember the details but none of it makes sense. You don't know what you were thinking.

You look up. Lee is shambling towards you, one hand clutched over his groin, the other over his bleeding face. You jerk upright. On the other side of the street, a girl with long brown hair and a cheap suit steps onto the road, backs away from a car, then runs at you through traffic. The way she's angling, she's not going to cut you off so much as corral you, force you eastward, and this sets off all kinds of alarm bells, because when someone does that, they have friends. You crane your neck and spot two clipboard-carrying boys in suits heading straight at you. "Help!" you say, but to no one in particular, and of course there is no help. You spy an alley and run for it. The bag slips and you panic and let it drop, which is unthinkably terrible because without your bag you have nothing; you'll have to rely on people. You pass an office building, a beautiful business couple emerging from its glass revolving doors like an advertisement, and you think about running in there, to whatever clean, safe, corporate-warmed world they've come from. But that will never work; that'll end in you being tossed out the same door by a security guard in charge of protecting that world from people like you. You keep running. The alley turns and dips and becomes a driveway. Not good, not good. It terminates at a locked roller door painted KEEP CLEAR LOADING AREA. You start back the way you came, but they're already here. One of the boys holds your Pikachu bag. You back up until you hit the roller door. All those office windows: Surely someone will be looking down. Maybe if you scream. Maybe if there are angels.

"Take a moment," says the girl. "Get your breath back." Beside her, Lee bends and spits blood.

"Stay away from me."

"Sorry about the chase. We just really, really didn't want you to get away."

"I will fuck you up," you say.

"It's okay." The girl smiles quizzically. "It's okay, Elise; you passed."

~

The van's tires slip on the freeway merge and the interior fills with the light from an approaching eighteen-wheeler. "Fuck!" says the tall man. A horn bellows. You feel a looseness, a surrender of the vehicle to natural forces, then the wheels bite and straighten the vehicle up between the lanes. The truck's horn blows endlessly.

You wonder how much damage you'd do to yourself if you kick open the door and fling yourself out at this speed. Probably a lot. Your hands are bound.

"Fuck," says the man. He's silent a moment. "Fuck."

You say nothing.

"What's your name?"

"Nick Parsons."

"Not now! Before!"

"I don't know what you mean."

"When you lived in Broken Hill, Australia. What was your name?"

"I've never lived in-"

"I can hear your accent!"

"I grew up in Australia. In Melbourne. But I've never been to Broken Hill."

The man hauls the wheel. The van slides across three lanes and skids to a stop in the emergency lane. He pulls on the hand brake, takes the shotgun, and tries to drag you out of the van. You resist and the man hits you twice with the shotgun butt and you tumble out into the snow. When you get to your feet, you're looking into a gun barrel.

"You're thinking if you're not who I want, I'll let you go," says the man. "When in fact, if you're not the Exception, I'm going to shoot you and leave your body in the snow."

You're going to have to attempt to talk your way out of this.
03-24-2015, 07:42 PM
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Mirdini
 RE: Vox Mentis
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The Exception? What the hell are you talking about?

Spoiler :
nothing like antagonizing someone holding a shotgun to our face
(This post was last modified: 03-24-2015, 07:52 PM by Mirdini.)
03-24-2015, 07:51 PM
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☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆
 RE: Vox Mentis
#93
i'm rad as hell, and i'm not gonna take it anymore

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You're not drugged up, so now you can get cheeky. Tell him that you may or may not be the exception, but you're certainly exceptional, then flash a shit-eating grin.
03-24-2015, 07:56 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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I mean, we said we weren't the guy; his friend said we weren't the guy. Tall man's the one who was so sure we were the guy he decided to fuck up our life and get at least three people killed. And now he's going to shoot us for not being the guy. So thanks for nothing, asshole.

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03-24-2015, 08:37 PM
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Crowstone
 RE: Vox Mentis
#95
squee~

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usa
well, if you're not the Exception, then you're gonna die.
You aren't the Exception though, at least you don't think so. So you'll just have to pretend to be the Exception (until you can get somewhere safe)!

Tell him your name in Broken Hill was "Geoffrey Brown"

[Image: egg005.png?raw=1][Image: egg005.png?raw=1]
(This post was last modified: 03-24-2015, 08:53 PM by Crowstone.)
03-24-2015, 08:53 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-24-2015, 08:53 PM)Crowstone Wrote: well, if you're not the Exception, then you're gonna die.
You aren't the Exception though, at least you don't think so. So you'll just have to pretend to be the Exception (until you can get somewhere safe)!

"I'm the Exception."

"Eighteen months ago, where did you live?"

"Broken Hill."

"Where in Broken Hill?"

A car blows by. "...Main Street."

"Oh for fuck's sake," says the tall man.

(03-24-2015, 08:37 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: I mean, we said we weren't the guy; his friend said we weren't the guy. Tall man's the one who was so sure we were the guy he decided to fuck up our life and get at least three people killed. And now he's going to shoot us for not being the guy. So thanks for nothing, asshole.

(03-24-2015, 07:51 PM)Mirdini Wrote: The Exception? What the hell are you talking about?

"Look, nobody else thought I was the Exception either. I don't even know what the hell an Exception is. Tell me what you want. I don't know what you want."

The man sinks to his haunches. "You drive a Taurus. You've been in the States eight months. A year before that, you lived in Broken Hill. You had a dog."

You shiver.

A truck passes, wheels spitting road ice. "Not the Exception," says the man. He shakes his head. "Well, fuck."

(03-24-2015, 07:56 PM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: You're not drugged up, so now you can get cheeky. Tell him that you may or may not be the exception, but you're certainly exceptional, then flash a shit-eating grin.

"I mean, I might not be the Exception, but my girlfriend always said I was exceptional. Before she fucking killed herself to stop you." You attempt a shit-eating grin, but it's hard.

The man stands. "Get up. Turn around."

"What?"

"You heard me."

You rise, cautiously.

"Turn."

You turn.

"Walk."

"Where?"

"It doesn't matter. Away from the road."

"Okay, let's think about this."

"You don't walk, I'll shoot you here."

"I'm not walking into the woods so you can shoot me there!"

"Fine," says the man, and there's a rustling, and you start walking. Your shoes sink into the snow. It's not more than ankle deep, but you make it look like it is. "Faster."

"I'm trying."

"I'm trying not to shoot you," says the man. "But it's getting fucking difficult."

You forge through deepening snow. Your mind is a great white expanse. A snowscape, devoid of plans that end with you alive.

"Veer right. You're trying to angle back to the road."

You veer. There are trees ahead, a thin stick forest. You're going to be shot in the woods. Your body will disappear beneath the snowfall. In the spring, you will be gnawed by foxes. You will be discovered by Boy Scouts and poked with sticks.

"Stop. This will do."

"Don't shoot me in the back!" You turn, fighting snow. The man is ten feet away, unreachable in drifts this deep. "Leave me here. I can't make it anywhere in a hurry. You can get away."

The man raises the shotgun butt to his shoulder.

"Don't shoot me in the face!"

The man exhales. "Fine. Turn around."

"Okay! Okay! Just let me..." You pull one foot out of the snow, put it down again. Your nose runs. "Motherfucker!"

"I'm shooting you in five seconds," the man says. "Arrange yourself however you like, pay your respects, whatever, between now and then."
03-25-2015, 01:29 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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"Guess it's a good thing you can't do that magic fucking word nonsense and make me do it myself. It'd be a lot quieter."

Gallows humor!

Maybe those Wolf people will hear the shots and get him after he shoots you. You can hope, right?

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03-25-2015, 02:14 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-25-2015, 02:14 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: "Guess it's a good thing you can't do that magic fucking word nonsense and make me do it myself. It'd be a lot quieter."

Gallows humor!

Maybe those Wolf people will hear the shots and get him after he shoots you. You can hope, right?

You sink to the ground, because it doesn't matter anymore. You give up. You stop thinking, even as your brain screams in fear. "Guess it's a good thing you can't do that magic fucking bare word nonsense and make me do it myself. It'd be a lot quieter." You're going to pass out. The man will shoot your unconscious body in the snow. That's probably for the best.

Time passes. You raise your head. The tall man is still there. "What did you say?"

"The... I... too bad you can't do that magic fucking word nonsense and make me do it myself?"

"You said magic fucking bare words."

"I did?" The silence stretches. "Are you going to shoot me?"

"I'm thinking about it."

Your bowels shiver.

The man lowers his shotgun. "She made you forget," says the man. "You really don't know who you are."

You sit in the snow, teeth chattering.

"New plan," says the man. "Get in the van."

~

The world slides by in exit-ramps and yellow-lit gas stations and trees dressed in snow. The van's wipers thump. Your eye throbs. The driver's window is half-cranked, letting in furious air.

The man glances at you. "You feel okay? You look washed out." He gestures. "Your face."

Theoretically, the snow banked up alongside the freeway is a couple of feet deep. You could possibly survive a leap. Then: flailing through snow. Hearing the van brake behind you. The door pop open. Not so good.

The man waggles a dash control. "Heater doesn't work. I need the window open to keep from fogging up."

Practically, it's hugely unlikely you can get the door open with your feet. Practically, you aren't going anywhere until the man decides to pull over.

"You actually look a little hypoglycemic," says the man.

You could kick. You could try and force a crash. A problem here is the man is wearing a seatbelt and you're not. A crash is therefore likely to hurt you a lot more. It's a last-resort kind of plan.

"Stop it," says the man. "You're not going anywhere so stop fucking thinking about it."

You look out the side window.

"Next gas station, I'll pull over," says the man. "Get you some jelly beans."

~

You turn in to a glowing gas station and stop at the farthest pump from the store. "Okay," says the man. "Before we proceed, some ground rules." He snaps his fingers, because you're staring at the store. "No running. No screaming for help. No mouthing secret messages to the cashier, looking directly into security cameras, saying you need the bathroom then locking yourself in, et cetera, et cetera. Doing any of those things will cause me" - he raps the shotgun, the nose of which pokes out from the footwell - "to use this. Understand? Not on you. You, I need. I count three people in there. Do you want me to shoot three people? Because I don't. So don't make me shoot three people. Any questions?"
03-25-2015, 04:08 PM
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Mirdini
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Can I have a soda with those jelly beans?
03-25-2015, 04:15 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
 

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I mean, this whole situation is questionable as hell. But while escape is definitely not off the ideas table, he makes a compelling argument for not trying it right this minute.

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03-25-2015, 05:14 PM
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