2020-12-26: Why is this Duck Following Us?

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Why is this Duck Following Us?
Fowl play
IC Date December 26, 2020
IC Time Evening
Players Bobbi, Phil, Thorn
Location The Nexus
Prp/Tp N/A
Spheres Traditions
Theme Song The Duck Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtN1YnoL46Q
       It's the day after Christmas and Bobbi is just getting ready to head off to The Nexus. The weather is once more warm, so a simple black t-shirt, blue jeans, and a pair of chucks is all that's required. Gathering the four tiny kittens, she draws a large chalk circle around them on the floor of her loft. Various sigils and symbols are added to the outside to prevent them from straying. Humming quietly to herself, she heads to the window to water her plants, her mind elsewhere, as per usual. As she finishes up this final errand and starts to head to the door, she pauses, turns around, and looks out the floor-to-ceiling windows once more. No duck, but she could have sworn she saw one a moment before, must have been a trick of the light or one of those mythical acid flashbacks.
       Finished with her errands, she locks up and heads to the BRAT. About to get in, she pauses, looking around the lot, the strange sensation of being watched, but no one is there. A little shrug is given as she hops back in the BRAT and zooms off towards The Nexus.
       In the wake of the BRAT's speedy exit, a single feather slowly descends in the lot of Angel Restorations.

The Troubleshooters office is open today. And it was open yesterday. And the day before that. Offering extra pairs of hands during someone else's crunch time is their main thing, after all, and the fee hikes are passed along to the staff willing to take some time out of their own holidays.

Normally Phil might have taken the train out to the place, but does it still have cell phone reception? He'll have to check on that later. The Acura is fast enough anyway that it doesn't make all that much difference. "Sounds good, Sally," he says on speakerphone as he pulls off onto a side road. "Call me back if you need to, if I got my hands full with anything then it'll just go to voicemail."

One thing the car lacks is a sun roof or convertible top. If it had the latter, then it might have occurred to him to look up at some point. Or maybe not.

        After gift giving and spending time with the people in the tent city, Thorn really, really needed to pick up some fresh clothes from her place and re-freshen some others so, bidding her friend adieu, she headed home that morning after their mutual workout to put on a load of laundry and to change into something else. A trip to the Nexus was a special thing and she wanted to be sure that she was looking nice. After all, you never knew who you might see when you're out there, so you might as well look presentable. 

        Dressed in long pants and comfortable shoes with a long-sleeved turtleneck over it all, Thorn was sitting on her front porch, killing time working on something while waiting for Bobbi to squeal to a halt for the ride out when, suddenly... 


        Thorn blinks and looks up and around, searching for the source of the noise, tucking her laptop inside the front door when the high-strung exhaust of Bobbi's BRAT can be heard coming around the corner. Locking the door, she skips down the steps of the porch to the street where she waits, thumb out, hips cocked at a jaunty angle, as Bobbi squeals around the corner. 

        Leaning down when Bobbi stops, Thorn gives her a grin. "Lookin' for a good time, beautiful?" She grins, dimples appearing as she slips into the car, sunglasses going on and seatbelt getting fastened immediately. "Let's go." she says with a grin. 

        And in the distance, on her porch's roof, a duck watches ominously.
       Hitting triple digits, the BRAT zooms through the Cobre, making it's way to The Nexus. Blasting the stereo, Bobbi taps on her steering wheel, singing along with Thorn. On the dash, the Bobbie the Wonderdog Bobble-head bobbles along, and as fascinating as it is, Bobbi has learned her lesson and keeps her eye on the road. The road and something curious in her rearview mirror ...
       "Oh shit!" Bobbi exclaims, quickly turning the steering wheel and just avoiding plowing into the rear of a semi-truck. A big toothy grin is flashed to Thorn before Bobbi grips the steering wheel and keeps her eyes on the road this time fo real. No matter how curious she is about what she thinks she just saw.
       "sorry about that," she says quietly as she pulls into The Nexus's garage. Hopping out of the BRAT, she stretches her arms way over her head, rocks up on the balls of her feet, and closes her eyes just a moment before she would have seen it.

No doubt Phil /could/ hit triple digits if he really felt the need, which he doesn't, particularly. Late at night, with some of the weirdoes rumored to haunt the rural areas? That might be a different story. It also keeps the fuzz from bothering you if you only break the limit by 10 or so.

Waiting it out for an opportunity to pass up that lumbering blockade of a semi, Phil glances out the window, waving a hand vaguely in the direction of what looks like a flock of pigeons. "Capistrano is /that/ way," he yells up at them, gesturing to the northwest.

        The second time in as many days that Bobbi has nearly sent them careening into the back of something stationary. That normally might make Thorn a little wary about riding with the woman but honestly, she's seen worse drivers. Hell, she's been with worse drivers so, isntead of the panicked yelling, Thorn simply gives Bobbi a smack on the shoulder as she dodges the semi and laughs, belting along to whatever 80's hit managed to worm its way into the BRAT's radio for the trip out to the Cobre. 

        "You're going to have to give me lessons some time, you know." she says with a smirk as they pull into the garage, getting out with a smile, scrubbing fingers through her hair as she stretches. "I may never need to drive like that, but it'd be nice to know how, you know?" 

        From around the corner of the garage, a white-feathered shape waddles out of sight, another *quack* echoing through the structure.
       "Of course," Bobbi responds happily as she drops her arms letting them swing at her sides a moment. "excuse me," Bobbi says in response to the quack, looking slightly embarased. "To the Library!" she announces a moment later, her index finger pointing out the direction she begins their march.
       "Everyone really should know how to drive stick," Bobbi explains as she walks along with Thorn, "you never know when it might come in handy in -- " Bobbi looks behind her, furrowing her brow and lightly scratching her head. "As I was saying," Bobbi continues as she starts up back to the library, "everyone really -- " Bobbi whips around and excited expression on her face as if she was about to catch someone in some act. With nothing to be seen, Bobbi's head slowly tilts up to look at Thorn as she explains, "I think I'm losing it."

Phil has had occasion to drive stick once in a while. Does he specifically seek it out? Not so much. Choose your battles, and all that, especially when the laws of physics have a place on your enemies list. He eases off the accelerator as he gets close enough to the Nexus to actually see the building, though it'll be a few more twists and turns before he catches up with the duo.

        "I know how to drive stick...just....badly. Like...I can get into first, then jump into second and third with lots of squealing of wheels and the like..." Someone needs practice, it seems, and Thorn is one of those. In fact, a stick is now considered an anti-theft device in some places. Thorn closes the door of the car with a thump, looking towards the quack and then perking up. "To the library!" she cheers, bowing and gesturing towards the place with all the books and scrolls and cuniform tablets and the like. 

        She leans over to look in the direction that Bobbi is springing, kind of expecting to see something cool but, alas, just the corner of the building. "So what are we researching here, anyway? I mean, there's /always stuff to learn,/ which is good, but having a direction to go is good."
       "Welllllll," Bobbi drones as she shields her eyes with her hand and begins to look around. "You were asking me about ... " she begins to slowly say, obviously distracted by just whatever it is she is searching for, "... uh ... something?" Attention now on Thorn, Bobbi furrows her brow as she tries to remember just what it is she was supposed to help Thorn with. Reaching an arm back and down the neck of her shirt, she begins to scratch, her mind fumbling with the words, but only coming up with, "... something ..." There's a look of relief on Bobbi's face as she finishes her scratching and slowly pulls her arm out of her shirt. "Oh yeah, enchanting," she finally realizes, but her mind is already on the next topic. There in her her hand is a single feather. Confused, but realizing something might be going on, she looks both ways.

        "The blanket, right." Thorn says with a nod, quirking her head to the side at something poking out of Bobbi's collar, reaching back to pull a white feather from Bobbi's collar. That's strange. She shrugs, shows it to Bobbi, then lets it flutter to the ground, out of the way, to be taken care of by the Mouse Guard later.

It'll be a feather in one of their caps, all right. Probably literally. Meanwhile, Bobbi spends enough time standing around and second-guessing herself for Phil to pull up and start walking over. "I /told/ you you were gonna run into some bad weed sooner than later," he calls out to Bobbi, by way of introduction.

       "I don't smoke weed?" Bobbi says hesitantly as she examines the feather in her hand. "oh!" Bobbi exclaims as she looks to Thorn, slightly dissapointed, "we forgot about taking acid this weekend." Bending down to pick up the feather that Thorn dropped, Bobbi looks up at the other woman, shaking her head and tsking lightly. Standing, she holds out both feathers so Phil can see them. "Do you know of anyone that does magick with feathers?" she wonders.

        "She doesn't smoke weed." Thorn answers, almost at the same time as Bobbi, glancing to the other woman with a smirk as she goes about questioning feathers and mentioning acid. That does get a giggle. "You think that weekend needed to be more intense with a hit of acid going through our systems? It would explain a lot, but..." she shakes her head. "New years, okay? We'll start the new year with eyes wide open. All of them." 

        Suitably cowed, Thorn nods and steps back a little, staying on the path, one hand dipping into her pocket to leave a few treats for the Mouse Guard. Little swatches of fine cotton and flannel to be made into uniforms, as well as sturdy nails of iron and a few bits of brass that can be hammered into swords without too much effort. Phil gets a smile as she straightens. "Hey there, Phil. Nice to see you when the lights are on. How'd you and your crew end up making out?" 


"Sure you don't," Phil replies. "Feathers? That Dawson guy's probably got a few shoved up his ass, but I think I'd know if /he/ was stinkin' up the joint. You sure you didn't just hit one on the road?" He reaches out to take one of the feathers and hold it up to the light. Looks ordinary enough. As for Thorn's question, he nods absently as he searches for a good place to sit down for a minute. "Not bad. Everyone kept busy, but they're used to that, wouldn't be doin' the gig in the first place if they weren't."

       "Did you know he collect ceramic unicorns?" Bobbi notes of Dawson a little snicker as she sells out his secret. Looking over the feather, Bobbi notes, "looks like a duck." The echoing *quack* has her adding, "and that sounds like a duck." Turning in a circle to look around The Nexus, she wonders, "So what the hell is going on?" Looking back to Thorn, slightly worried, Bobbi asks, "Do you think we're still on the mothership?"

        "Oh god, I hope not. I've got my house almost done and if I have to re-do those light fixtures, I'm going to be /so/ cross." Thorn frowns a little, hopping up on her tip toes to see if she can see where the quack came from. "Conversely, is there a little-known aquatic god that has a duck as an avatar, and their holy day is December 26th, and someone sacrificed a goat and gave the god like forty-five minutes of power? Because..." 


        "What the hell is up with the duck?"

Phil doesn't answer the other two right away, considering the sound, then the question. Finally, he sets the feather down and speaks up again. "Maybe, hear me out here, somebody's got a duck pond somewhere around here? Is the place supposed to be warded against plain old ordinary birds?" A pause. "Or, what have you two been up to lately? Maybe this is just Paradox trying to get your attention for something."

       "I don't think it's warded against birds," Bobbi notes as she looks around trying to figure out where the noise is coming from, "so someone could be testing or defenses and finally found a way in. Or maybe just a stray duck got on the Umbral train ... " Crouching lightly, Bobbi begins to stalk the area. "Haven't been doing anything hinky lately," Bobbi assures Phil, "we just got back from Oregon. /Something/ happened there, but it /totally/ wasnt our fault. I think." Bobbi pauses, and then says quietly, "Thorn, don't move." After saying those words, Bobbi lunges right at Thorn ...

        Suicide Assault Ducks. That's a perfect explanation. Thorn turns and looks around to see if there's any motion. Yep, Mouse Guard doing Mouse Guard things, a few fluttering leaves and the like, but nothing that indicates a duck. Then, Bobbi shouts for her to hold still and, somehow, thorn /does/ so, squeaking as Bobbi leaps at her, remaining stock still!

"I half hope you're right," Phil muses. "If we do have an infestation, I'd rather be dealing with ducks than mosquitos. Even with an assist, that'd be a /lot/ to track d--" He leaves off when Bobbi suddenly jumps, though. The hell? Okay, he'd better have a look around the place himself, just in case. Fishing through his pockets, he pulls out a cigarette lighter and flips it open, peering at the flame out of his peripheral vision.

       Diving right past Thorn, Bobbi flops to the ground, but somehow her hands manage to grasp a duck. "Got it!" she exclaims as she pulls the struggling duck towards her. Standing up, she looks at the madly flapping duck cradled by her chest and wonders, "think there's more? I mean, what's that old saying -- " Just then the duck shoots out of her grasp like a greased up football. The duck begins flying around The Nexus at eye level.

        Holy crap, is that a duck? Thorn twirls on the ball of her foot to watch Bobbi execute a textbook-perfect tackle on the suspecting waterfowl but, unfortunately, can't keep the beast in her numbers and loses it for a fumble. Sort of. "You had it." she points out, the duck orbiting the Nexus just out of reach of anything but a mighty lunge. "What's a duck doing out here? There aren't any lakes, ponds, or water features that they'd want to hang in for miles! Have....have the mouse guard gotten ducks to help patrol?"

"Have you asked them?" Phil replies, dryly. Not that he has, either, but then he wasn't the first one to notice them in the first place. Okay, never mind the lighter; he switches it out for a deck of cards, leafing through it and picking out a couple to hold out toward the birb. "Hey, what /are/ you doing out here, pal? There's probably a sandwich in the fridge if that's all it is."

       Bobbi ... ducks ... out of the way of the ferociously flying fowl, swiping her hands rapidly in front of her face to block should it try to take out an eye. "Do ducks eat mice?" Bobbi wonders as she looks around to see where the mouse patrol might be. Bobbi gasps as she notices and misinterprets the fabric and metal Thorn left on the ground. "It's eating the mousepatrol!" Bobbi exclaims in horror as she looks from Thorn and then to Phil. "You're gambling now?" Bobbi asks Phil, her tone to incredulous to indicate she's joking. "Oh wait!" Bobbi exclaims a moment later as she begins patting her jeans, "magick!"

        "If you pull a wand out of your non-existent bra, you are definitely going to have to show me that trick. And no, ducks do not eat mice. Bread, vegetation, little fish probably. Mice are too big." Aren't they? Thorn obviously does not know and, as the duck slings around all crazy-like, she keeps her hands up and jogs towards the library and its attached kitchen to see if there might be a crust of bread or some fruit she can distract the duck with. Bobbi leaping on it wasn't very helpful for keeping it calm, but you do what you'veg got to do, don't you?

Phil shakes his head a little. "Still, you let the ducks in, soon enough the owls show up, and then it's all over for the union." Mouse union, not the other one. As Thorn takes off, he sticks the deck of cards back in his pocket, eyeing the duck afresh. "Well, ain't /you/ got some dirty fuckin' language? And I would know, too."

       "Hopefully we don't have a Bata War on her hands," Bobbi notes as she digs in her pockets, her tongue sticking out ever-so-slightly in order to better search. "Ah-Ha!" she exclaims as she shows off a piece of chalk, "good thing we found those kittens." Crouching down, Bobbi begins to walk backwards while drawing a large chalk circle on the ground.

        Thorn returns a few moments later with the closest thing to bread she could find - donuts. Yes, they're stale, yes, they're a couple of days old, even, but they at least carbs and bread-like, which means they're like crack for a duck. Returning just in time for Bobbi to start drawing her circle, she holds the donuts in one hand. "Okay, so...inside the circle? Trap the duck and delve into it's brain for mysteries?"

"Yeah, good luck with that," Phil muses, grabbing the feather again while he's thinking about it. "I get the feeling this one's gonna be like mud-wrestling a pig. I /did/ get a heads up that something worth checkin' out was gonna be out here, but that could just as well have been you two."

       "Well, it's possible we have alien implants now," Bobbi notes casually as she continues to draw a decently large circle on the floor, the question of whether or not it's around the duck hasn't seemed to fully enter into the equation here. Either she has a plan or she's only focussing on the one thing, with Bobbi it could go either way. "or it's possible the aliens took something from us to implant in themselves," Bobbi adds as she continues on with the circle.

        Somewhere, on a different planet, Bobbi and Thorn's eggs are being used to breed a superior race of womyn that will crush the patriarchy and bring forth a generation of peace and love that has never been seen before. Or not. Whatever the case, the donuts are broken into chunks and tossed into the circle, hoping that the duck will a) land and b) not realize that it can take off once it's landed inside the circle. A she can see happening, but B? Not so much. "What's the story? Don't mud wrestle a pig, because you'll both get muddy and the pig will enjoy it? Either way, I can see that happening."

Phil pauses, standing up and holding a hand out toward Bobbi. "Wait, hold the fuck up. It's possible you have alien implants now, and the first thing that came to mind was to /bring them here/? Without scanning anything /or/ giving the rest of us a heads up?"

       "Well, they were sorta egyptians," Bobbi notes as she stands up and admires her circle. Unfortunately the duck is not in the circle, "Damn it!" Looking to Phil, Bobbi explains, "We're not sure exactly what happened. It might have been a dream, it might have been some bad mushrooms, or it might have been an alien abduction. If it's the latter, and something was actually done to us -- and I don't know that it was -- it's more sorta a form of alchemy, nothing technological. It was kinda Hermetic, to be honest."

Phil pantomimes drinking a bottle of beer, which is what he /should/ be doing while listening to this story. "Yeah, Vegas'll do that to you. Way your luck's rollin', next week it'll turn out you both married the same showgirl." Where /is/ the duck, anyway, is it still in line of sight? He takes a quick look around, considering. "Anyway, we might wanna talk quarantine protocols, I mean we don't gotta panic or anything but it'd be good to have people on the same page about this sort of thing."

       "Oh, we did eat a lot of duck fat ... " Bobbi says with a nod to Thorn as she thinks about this. "Let's see," Bobbi saays as she starts to think about this, "we did a ton of physical excercise hiking miles up switchbacks, almost got hypothermia because of the temperature difference, ate a bunch of wild mushrooms and root vegetables fried in duck fat. This was on the Solstice during a meteor shower and the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction in an area where the term 'flying saucer' was coined, which is on top of one of the world's oldest and largest living organism, a several thousand year old and several thousand acre mushroom. Things got a little weird. Honestly, I just chalked it up to being an Oregon thing." Bobbi's gaze momentarily tracks the duck as walks between the three and right into the circle and starts to pick at the donut. "Oh! And we saw Bobbie the WonderDog." A beat as she adds sheepishly, "we go shirts and a bobble-head."

        "Don't forget the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn for the first time in eight hundred years...oh...wait...you said that. Nevermind." Thorn adds, turning to Phil. "In all honesty? Aside from the potential alien abduction and memory loss, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Was a lot of fun." Thorn nods solemnly, like she really means what she's saying - and she does. All signs point to her being truthful. She lets out a little cheer as the duck waddles into Bobbie's trap and claps as the donut is started to be consumed.

Phil nods, gesturing toward the warding-in circle. "Remember to close the door if you're gonna. So was Nevada before or after Portland? You did say Portland, right?" Easiest assumption is that it was just that long of a road trip.

       "Nah, not Portland," Bobbi notes as she crouches down and begins to make various markings around the circle. With her voice lowered so as not to disturb the duck she explains, "We went to the Strawberry Mountains in Eastern Oregon, it's actually kinda close to Boise. Well, closer to Lime, Oregon, but that place is small so not really useful as a landmark unless you're already familiar with it. Getting there was pretty much a straight shot north. Then on the way back we took the scenic route and went through Nevada. That ride was a bit weird and when we started to realize we lost a day, day and a half if you count most of the ride. We stopped in Rachel, Nevada which is also pretty small, but the best landmark near that is Area 51, but if we ran into aliens, isn't wasn't /those/ aliens. Oh, well, maybe one, but that was just one of the theories of who paid for our meal at The Little Ale-E-Inn, other theory is just some trucker that thought we were cute. It was a magical time and I'd do it again in a heartbeat." Bobbi looks to Thorn with a twinkle in her eye as she stands away and observes the warding circle. "Now we wait."

Thorn crouches down at the edge of the circle, watching the duck eat, leaving her donut right there, not breaking the plane at all. "Now we wait? Is this circle going to make the duck magically talk, or do you somehow speak Waterfowl too?" Phil rolls his eyes. "Yeah, the aliens are here and they just happen to be packing US dollars. You'll forgive me for bettin' on the horny trucker here." Picking up the feather one last time, he tosses it into the circle after its possible owner, but otherwise leaves it alone. "You can talk to it if you want, I've heard as much of it already as I care to."

        "I don't know." Thorn says, scooting back a little and standing. "It's kind of a strange thing going on, you know, all of this? Unexplained ducks don't just magically appear...unless they're just ducks, you know?"

"In which case they still don't /magically/ appear," Phil points out. "Probably just some neighbor with a big enough spread to have a duck pond, and this one got a little off course." It'd take a big place, but the desert /is/ a big place.

       "So you think ... " Bobbi starts to say as she looks to Phil, seemingly a bit confused by this. Looking back to the duck, Bobbi then looks to Thorn and says, "It does look like a duck ... "

        "Walks like a duck. Talks like a duck. Just..."> She looks to Phil. "Plain old duck?"

"I dunno, you two sound like you need to fuck for a couple more hours and figure it out. I'm gonna grab a sandwich myself." With that, Phil turns and wanders inside the building.

       "Oh no, we're not ... " Bobbi starts to explain as she glances to Thorn, then quickly back to the duck, eyes on the duck, always on the duck.