Jan 28, 2020 11:32 AM
Rescue gets lost in the library
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...The stairs aren't behaving like they should.

It's subtle.

But either the rest of the world is on a very silent elevator, or this staircase is spatially warped.

She seems to be getting farther than she'd expect, just from the number of steps she's taken.

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Fine, that's fine, this is fine. Maybe it explains how the kids got so far down there. She keeps going.

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The effect grows more pronounced the further down she gets.

Also, by the time she's level with the children, the very bottom of her sensory range is increasingly bizarre. There's spaces that are bigger than they should be. There's books that seem to be rustling on their own. There's shelves that curl and move about.

The children have wandered a bit farther away from the central cylinder, but not by too much.

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She doesn't like that very much, but it doesn't matter, there's nothing she can do about it. She pauses at the base of the stairs to prepare a few sentences in her phone's text-to-speech app, and then heads for the kids.

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The kids seem to have stopped moving, at least, huddling together in a little nook, talking in hushed whispers about whether it's safe to settle down for the night. They think they're not too far down...

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She stops when she gets close enough to talk to them, staying out of sight until the last moment purely out of habit. "Hey," she has the phone say.

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They startle!

The oldest one steps between the others and her, peering suspiciously at her.

"Hey," he says, cautiously.

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"I'm a cape," the phone says when she taps it. "I have super hearing. I can guide you up, if you want."

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"What's a cape? How'd you get magic hearing?"

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She seems a little surprised at the question, and spends a minute tapping at her phone. "Cape means I have superpowers." More tapping: "Sometimes people get superpowers when bad things happen to them."

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"Haven't heard of that. You must be from a pretty far off part of the library."

"How'd you know we were here?"

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Tap tap tap tap tap: "I heard you saying you were lost."

Tap: "I'll leave you alone if you want."

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"...No. We're - really lost."

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She nods. "The stairs are this way." "Tell me if you want to stop."

She sets an easy pace; it doesn't hurt that she's already pretty tired herself.

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They follow, though they've been wandering for a long while by now, and a few quickly flag.

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She stops when they ask, or when they seem to be struggling even if they don't ask, and listens for anyone who seems to be about to do a reading.

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There's some reading or another, usually minor, happening somewhere at pretty frequent intervals. Some people seem to be practicing, their voices often faltering. The large, cinematic readings seems to be a thing of the villages, and they're not near any, but there's a few small groups who're making fresh food, or warm drinks, or cold sodas...

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She can't really tell what she's going to get from listening to a reading before she starts, but random supplies are better than nothing; she takes the opportunity to listen while they rest.

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The kids are a bit surprised the first time something appears in front of her, until one makes the connection that her super hearing means she can listen in to readings. They're apparently pretty hungry and thirsty; they brought some supplies, but nothing to read for more, and they're not super good at reading stuff out anyways...

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She keeps listening, then, and doesn't take anything for herself until something goes unclaimed by the rest of the group.

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These are pretty well fed kids normally, with a lot of picky eaters, so there's a couple of things less appealing to children that're left. (They don't seem concerned with 'what about waste', either.)

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That's fine, really.

She doesn't stop until they seem satisfied, and lets them rest for a while afterward.

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They're pretty hungry!

And pretty tired. One's clearly trying to stay awake, though she has a stubborn set to her jaw.

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"We're not going to make it back tonight," she has the phone say when she stops listening for food. "And this place seems okay to sleep in, I think."

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There's some uncertain shuffling and then some reluctant nodding.

"We didn't pack sleeping bags..." one kid says. "And people don't tend to read that stuff out too much. Guess we could try to find an adventure book, or write something..."

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