RE: Swamped
It sure seemed to be squirming a lot!
RE: Swamped
The funny thing is, you almost missed it. You were so focused on searching for something in the kitchen that you didn't think to look at the sailor himself. But you're glancing at him now, as he's shutting the door, and you notice that he's keeping one arm behind his back.

He's holding something there, and he seems to be struggling to keep his arm still. Perhaps it's something unwieldy.

Could it be a weapon? That might be why he'd be unwilling to drop it.

Maybe you can stall him and try to get a better look.

"Hold on. There's just one more thing," you say. You aren't sure what that "one more thing is" yet, but it'll hopefully keep him talking just a little longer.

He looks really annoyed when you say that.

"I don't care what your 'one more thing' is. I wasn't even supposed to do this much."

He looks about ready to slam the door on you. But you still haven't figured out what he's hiding. You've got to think of a way to keep the conversation going until you can.
RE: Swamped
His shoe is unbuttoned, maybe you can slowly point that out to him.
RE: Swamped
"Be careful, your shoe's unbuckled," you blurt out. It might well be for all you know, you haven't actually looked. It's just the first thing you can think of that might make him pause.

And he does stop, briefly, to look down.

"So it is. Damn thing's always coming undone. I don't really have time to deal with it right now, though."

It's enough of a break, and a shift in his position, that you're able to get a brief glimpse of what he's holding behind him. It looks like a sack... a sack with something moving in it. He recovers too quickly for you to really get a sense of the size or anything else, though.

"I could take care of it for you. Won't take more than a minute."

"Don't have a minute. Especially if you're going to keep blabbing at me. Goodbye!"

With that, he slams the door shut. But you hear a strange muffled noise a moment later. Could it be from whatever was in the sack?

Colleen seems just as curious as you about it. She knocks again.

"Everything okay in there? What was that noise?"

"I tripped because of the damn shoe!" comes the reply.

"Well, he can't blame me for that," you say calmly. You doubt that's what really happened.

Colleen laughs.

"Yeah, serves the jerk right."

""Well, I suppose we're stuck here until we get an answer from the cook," you say with a shrug. "So why don't you tell me how you ended up on guard duty out here? I doubt you're on official orders to stand watch for a birthday party."

She looks a bit unsettled. So there's something going on. But it takes a while for her to reply.

"I owe Lou a little favor," she says carefully. "It'd be nice to have the free shift, but I also don't like to leave favors lingering, you know? Better to get 'em over with as soon as you can."

Hmm, she definitely knows something, but she seems wary of talking about it. How should you handle this?
RE: Swamped
Ask if all those people in the galley also owe Lou favors. (Lou must be a really generous fellow!)
RE: Swamped
"There's a lot of folks in the galley," you muse. "Do they all owe Lou favors like you do?"

"I wouldn't know," she says. "I can only tell you why I'm here."

"So what did Lou do for you, then?"

She pauses a bit before answering.

"Nothing too big, just did laundry for me one day when I was too sick to handle it myself. I really appreciated that."

She's not very good at bluffing. But you're also not sure that directly confronting her would be helpful. Maybe a change of subject would be good.

"So why are there so many people at this party? I heard Lou didn't have many friends."

She's hesitating again.

"Well, Lou's not too talkative, but he's kind, from what I've seen anyways," she seems to settle on. "Maybe he asked people who helped him out, in order to thank them. Seems like the sort of thing he'd do."

"I wouldn't know, I've barely seen him. I think we mostly work different shifts."

And if he's so kind, why does he need someone to push away people without invitations? Not that you're ready to say that out loud.

"Really? Well, if you ever do see him, don't be afraid to ask him for help, that's all I can say."

Hmm. You get the impression Colleen has some idea what this so-called party is really about, but she's not willing to talk about it. Maybe your rapport with her isn't as strong as you thought.

Then again, it's not like you're alone. Lex here might be making her nervous. Maybe you could come up with an excuse to let him wander off for a while and see if you get any better results.
RE: Swamped
Send him back to the doc
RE: Swamped
Suddenly, it strikes you.

"Hey, Lex. It might be good if the medic could write us a note confirming there's glaxin, so if the cook brushes us off we've got some proof. I'm not feeling too good about our chances right now."

"I'll head over there," Lex agrees. "Be back as soon as I can."

Colleen visibly relaxes as he leaves. Maybe you can get somewhere now.

"So what sort of things does Lou help with? Is it just laundry, or what?"

"Oh, he's always doing little things. He does usually ask for the favor to be returned, but he's pretty reasonable about it. More than fair, considering..." She pauses. "Oh, never mind. I think I got mixed up with something else."

Hmm. Sounds like Lou is doing more than collecting favors. But Colleen's still on her guard, if less so. You'll need a new approach to get any more out of her...

Maybe what you've got to do is sound interested in whatever Lou is offering. But how best to do that?
RE: Swamped
Maybe you ought to ask how to get an invitation?
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RE: Swamped
"So you don't know why all these people are at the party?" you ask. "It seems to be invitation only."

"Well, I didn't get an invitation, so I wouldn't know," Colleen says with a shrug. "Then again, I'm not actually attending, just watching this door."

"Nobody's shown you their invitations?"

"Well, this isn't the door they're entering through, is it? If anyone did, I guess I'd just tell 'em to go to the main galley entrance. Like I already said, I don't have a key, I'm just watching."


"I wonder how you get an invitation, if Lou doesn't know that many people." You pause. "What did he say when he asked you to stand guard?"

"Oh, he just reminded me of the favor and said he was having a birthday party, it had ended up bigger than he planned and he wanted to keep it private. So he asked me to make sure nobody tried to sneak in through this door. The cook said that was fine, since nobody else is supposed to go through here anyways."

"Bigger than he planned? Did he mention how that happened?"

She's getting nervous.

"I don't think he did... well, maybe he mentioned something about how a couple of his friends wanted to bring their friends and then that started getting out of hand. But he was too shy to actually rescind any invitations, so he just tried to stop more from going out. Think it might have been something like that?"

His friends wanted to bring their friends. Hmm.

What if this whole thing wasn't Lou's idea? What if someone talked him into it as cover for whatever they were scheming, and then Lou would get blamed if anything went wrong?

Well, whether that's right or not, Colleen seems to know something about what's going on. Enough to be evasive with her answers. Maybe you could get her to slip up and reveal something about whoever's involved.

But what can you ask to try and lead her that way, without being too obvious about it?
RE: Swamped
It can't just be people from the off-shift there, from the sounds of it... You wonder how those in attendance managed to ensure their duties would be taken care of while they party.
RE: Swamped
"Kind of surprising he's having a party right now, honestly," you muse. "That's a lot of people who could be helping us out. We just had to deal with a storm and some sea beasts, after all. There's plenty to clean up. What, did they all have a free shift?"

"I wondered about that, too. But it turns out the second mate's at the party and signed off on a bunch of shift changes to accommodate it."

The second mate? An officer that high up is involved in this? Not to mention he's hardly anyone's idea of a party animal.

"I'm surprised. I can't imagine him at a party."

"Neither can I, do be honest," Colleen agrees. "He's probably just there to make sure nothing gets out of hand. Can't imagine why else he'd be there..."

Once again, she sounds like she knows more than she's letting on. But she did let something big slip.

Whatever's going on in there must be real serious if an officer is involved, and it's clearly not just a party if Colleen's being this evasive. But it's proving hard to get any more information out of her.

What should you ask about next?
RE: Swamped
I don't think you're getting any more out of her. Not here anyway. Ask if she can bring you a piece of cake after the party. You'll owe her.
RE: Swamped
You think you might be pushing things a little too hard. If you probe harder she may think it's more than idle curiosity.

"Well, if they have any cake left over, see if you can secure a piece for me, all right?"

"Ha! I already asked if I had a shot at the leftovers. But it turns out that they're just having the usual stew. Not even because the cook insisted, but get this, Lou says it's his favorite."

How about that, turns out you got some more info after all. Not that you're sure about what it means.

Well... one thing it means is they're eating before everyone else does. Which would leave the lot of them free at dinnertime without raising any suspicion. And, for that matter, if the cook were in on the scheme, it would be easy to put something in everyone else's food...

The door suddenly opens. The cook comes out, looking particularly surly.

Damn, and Lex isn't here. Well, you'll say what you remember.

"Hey! Are you here about our message?"

"Don't have time," the cook growls. "Navigator just called me for some reason. When I'm already busy. Hells, what a pain."

The navigator? Did Lex take your suggestion as a cue to ring the bell? Or did someone else do it? Either way, that plan's shot now, since there's no way you can slip in unseen with both Colleen and the cook here.

Well, hold on. You might not be able to sneak in, but maybe you can talk the chef into letting you in. But you'll have to make your pitch quick.
RE: Swamped
Need help with any party favors in the meantime?
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RE: Swamped
"Hold on, I could try to take care of whatever you're busy with here. I've helped you in the kitchen before, haven't I?"

The cook glares at you for a moment.

"It's not cooking I'm busy with. They've already been served and dinner's not for a while yet. So I've been stuck making..." He pauses. "Party favors," he concludes. "And I can't leave that in just anyone's hands."

"What sort of party favors?"

"I don't have time to discuss that. I have to go see the navigator."

"Oh, come on, Bruce," Colleen interjects. "Sally's a hard worker, I think we can let her help out a bit. If not with the favors, then maybe with peeling potatoes or something? Then you can work on the favors when you'd normally be peeling potatoes."

The cook mulls this over.

"Potatoes don't take so long. Carrots are another matter," he says. "Should still be about half a sack left out there, I'll be needing all of 'em for stew tonight. Don't touch anything else."

"Got it," you reply. "I'm happy to help out."

"Good. Now I really need to get moving."

He lets you through the door and runs off. You made it in.

But there's no telling when he'll be back, especially once he finds out the navigator's not there. So you'd better make this quick, and preferably get started on the carrots before he returns.

You don't see anybody in the kitchen right now. So what should you start investigating?
RE: Swamped
That smoky smell!
RE: Swamped
You think you smell just a hint of smoke. Did the chef leave the stove on too long? You take a quick look.

The stove is off. There's a pot on it, but all you can see in there is about two bowls' worth of stew. And it doesn't seem to fit the smell.

So where is that coming from? You try your best to follow the scent, but you can't seem to pin it down. You keep getting a whiff of a stronger stench from the trash bin.

Hold on. What if it's in there?

You shove aside the various peelings in it and find a small sack. A tiny bit of smoke is coming out. But what's making it?

You open up the sack and find about a dozen onions burnt to a crisp. Still smoking. This must have been done recently if they haven't fully cooled off.

But why? Was it just a mistake in cooking them, or does it have something to do with the glaxin gas?

You quickly put the sack back and wipe your hands. You don't think you're going to get any more out of that. You'd best look elsewhere if you want some answers... and the best way you can think of would be to listen in on the galley.

But you also don't want to be caught snooping, and you don't want to take too much time before you get to peeling those carrots. So how can you eavesdrop safely?
RE: Swamped
Well. Whatever you're going to do, it will be easier if you look around the area first. As long as you're in the kitchen, you can always claim you're having trouble finding the paring knife. It's if you go poking around in the galley that you'll have problems.

The kitchen is fairly large. It's effectively two rooms, with a wall partitioning them from each other. The side you're on has the stove and the dishes, as well as the cleaning station. The other side leads to the galley and the pantry and has some tables. It's mainly used for just laying ingredients out to make sure there's enough before starting on the cooking.

Actually, now that you think about it, you usually do the peeling at those tables. Odd that the carrots are over here. Unless that's where the chef was handling the "favors?"

You take a quick glance. One of the tables has something on it, but a cloth's been hastily thrown over it. If you were to sneak a peek under the cloth, that might tell you a lot.

But you also see a sailor sitting down at the other table. His back is turned, so he hasn't noticed you. You also notice that the door to the galley is closed - when you've helped out in here before, it's always been open.

How should you handle this?
RE: Swamped
Pocket a burnt onion.

Look under the cloth, ostensibly for a cutting board.
RE: Swamped
Well. You shouldn't worry too much about being spotted - you've got permission to be here, so better to act like it rather than act like you're snooping around.

"Excuse me," you say, startling the sailor. He turns around slowly to face you. "Have you seen the cutting board?"

It's a gamble, since it's actually right at the cleaning station. But if he hasn't been over there, he won't know that, and you can always say you just overlooked it.

"Uh, no," he says. Looks like it paid off.

"Any idea where it is, then? I'm supposed to be peeling carrots."

He just shrugs.

"I ain't been in this kitchen before, sorry. No idea where anythin' is."

You glance at the cloth.

"Could it have ended up under there, perhaps?"

He starts looking nervous.

"You really oughtn't look there. The cook's workin' on something for the end of the party, and if you peek you'll spoil the surprise."

"It's fine, I'm not here for the party," you reply, briskly walking over. "Just helping out by peeling carrots. I'll just do a quick check and I won't say a word about what I see."

He seems thrown off, but manages to shout "No, don't!" just as you've lifted up a corner.

You put it down right away, acting as though he startled you. But the truth is, you've already seen enough. Just have to bluff that you didn't.

"Okay, fair enough. I'll give the back one more sweep in case I missed something. But if I don't find the cutting board over there, I'm coming back."

"Uh, yeah. Really don't think it's under the cloth, though."

"Well, I've got a pretty good view of everything else over here and I don't see it," you say calmly. "Under there seems more likely than it ending up in the pantry or the galley proper."

"I suppose," he mutters.

Well, luckily for you he's much more subdued than the other sailor you saw here. You head back without incident.

You figure that in a couple of minutes, you'll 'find' the cutting board and tell him about it as an excuse to go back over there. Maybe you can even think up some way to get a peek into the galley out of that.

But first things first. You grab the sack from the trash again, and this time you grab one of the onions. You aim for one that isn't giving off much smoke, and stick it in your pocket.

Now you can wipe your hands again and "discover" the board. But you're also thinking about what you saw under that cloth.

Why in the hells would the cook have a printing press? And what does it have to do with this supposed party?

Well. You suppose you should think about how to find that out.
RE: Swamped
You don't have a plan yet, but maybe you can stir things up and get an idea out of that. You head back over.

"Sorry for the trouble," you say, sounding as embarrassed as possible. "Turns out it was right at the cleaning station, in plain sight. I just didn't catch it."

"Told you it wasn't here," the sailor grumbles. "Now can you just leave me be? Or did you lose something else?"

"Well, if you could help me bring the carrots over here, it'll be easier to peel them..."

"Ain't my problem," he mumbles. "And I'm busy right now."

"You don't look very busy," you note.

"If you must know, I'm proofreading," he shoots back. Then, suddenly, it dawns on him what he said. "Ah, that is, a friend of mine is trying to write a book and wants me to look over it. She's hoping to get it printed off when we get back. So I'm just glancing over one of the chapters while I keep an eye on things in here."

"Oh, really? Well, I wish her the best then," you reply, turning around.

So if you could catch a glimpse of whatever he's reading, that might tell you what you need to know. For the moment, though, you get to peeling carrots. Maybe something will occur to you while you're working.
RE: Swamped
Go wash up some of the most reflective cutlery so you can spy on them while looking the opposite direction. How good are you at reading reversed letters?
RE: Swamped
You happen to glance down at your paring knife and catch a glimpse of your reflection. Not a very clear one, due to the shape of it, but it's enough to give you an idea.

Maybe a spoon would work better. You grab one and wander for a bit so the sailor is within sight. Then you try to angle the spoon to catch the paper he's holding up.

It's not easy to read like this. You can only catch a little bit of it.

In the name of Goan...

Goan? Who's Goan? With the fancy way it's phrased, you'd think they were some kind of god or monarch or the like. But not one you've ever heard of.

Maybe it's just a codeword. Still, something about it makes you feel uneasy about this whole mess, even more than you did before you knew anything.

If it is some obscure piece of history, though, Wiz is the most likely one to know what it means. So you've got enough info to do something now. Question is, do you go back to peeling carrots and just leave when you get the chance, or do you try to find out more?
RE: Swamped
This is more than enough, best not to lose your cover now.
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