PHD #305: EVENT - Who is Robert Warner?
Who is Robert Warner?
Summary: Be very, very quiet: Rose is on the hunt.
Date: 28 Dec 2041 AE
Related Logs: None.
Rose NPC Polaris 
Hydroponics — MV Elpis
Encompassing most of the port cargo pod, this area has been reconfigured to host a massive hydroponics operation. A latticework of catwalks and narrow ladders, pipes and transparent plastic enclosures, and grow-lighting surrounds rows upon rows of vegetables at varying stages of growth. Evenly-distributed pump machinery rumbles and clatters along, pumping nutrition-enriched water throughout the quietly moving system. A small portion of the hydroponics area deals with the cultivation of seedlings, providing a plastic membrane for the young plants until they have larger root systems. Rows of tanks line the outside wall, apparently some sort of algae growing facility - greens, ambers, and reds all cast a colorful tint. And at the fore area of the pod, many bins and tables and several refrigeration and packaging stations have been set up to handle the processing of vegetables harvested from this constant process.
There are workers here at seemingly all hours, monitoring the machines and the flow of life-giving water to the thousands of plants, transplanting new seedlings, or harvesting and packaging vegetables that have grown to maturity. At all hours, the facility is guarded.
A small set of rooms at the fore of the hydroponics bay houses a triage and first aid treatment center. The freighter's sickbay is a minimal affair, containing a few beds and some basic equipment. A front desk is staffed by a corpsman at all times, and there's a small waiting area consisting of plastic chairs and some old magazines. A small office, shared by the doctors and nurses who work here, stands privately off to the side, where patient files are kept under lock and key.
Post-Holocaust Day: #305

There's nothing outwardly remarkable about Plot B5-6, one of several hundred collections of pipes and enclosures distributed evenly across the center of the Elpis' port cargo pod. From the outside, it looks just like the others, covered as it is with all sorts of tangled vines bearing those precious fruits and vegetables so valued by members of the Fleet. This afternoon, however, the contrast between all this lush vegetation and the mechanical processes that give them life can't be clearer: for today is harvest day, when Plot B5-6's bounty of tomatoes, blueberries, beets, and carrots are plucked from the growing tubes for packaging and distribution. Indeed, a steady stream of red, blue, and orange is now flowing forth from this otherwise unremarkable section of the hydroponics facility, carried toward the the packaging area by ten-odd workers in various states of undress. Beside the head of this river stands a quartet of trash cans nearly as tall as a full-grown man, half of which have already been filled with discarded leaves and fruits from those plants that didn't make the cut.

And so walks Rose along the catwalk of B5-6, ever-present white labcoat and clipboard. She's manually inspecting the B5-6 harvest, making notations of approximate quantity of waste versus acceptable produce to be sent to the end of the cargo pod for processing. "Something doesn't add up," she murmurs to herself, chewing on the end of her pen. She pauses to examine records that are posted at every plot, protected by plastic sheets against the inherent moisture in the hydroponics bay. She begins jotting down numbers, and starting to do figures.

"Shore is somethin', innit." A slightly nasal voice makes itself known in Rose's left ear. She might know the speaker; she might not: a ginger-haired, be-freckled boy who can't be more than eighteen years old, but whose gangly frame allows him to tower over the Head Lady in Charge. "Think we haven't met. Name's Greg. How do, marm." His bright blue eyes shine with unconcealed pleasure as he observes the harvest from six-odd feet in the air, though he's paying enough attention to wipe his leaf-covered hands on his work coveralls before offering one up in greeting.

"Hmm? Oh!" Rose turns suddenly to see the tall young man. She sticks out a comparatively small hand to be shaken. "Greg, a pleasure," she says with a cheery smile. "Rose Ibbhanas, although I'm sure you knew that already. I don't like all the publicity, and all, but they keep attaching my name to things, and all." And she blushes, at that. Blinking a few times as a possibility crosses her thoughts, she asks, "May I ask, do you work in this plot, usually?"

"Shore do." The word is spoken with unaccustomed pride as he raises the lady's hand to his lips. The resulting kiss is a fair degree more gentle than Rose might expect. "Figgured I warn't cut out for that science business right early when I was schooled, iffen you what I mean." The boy's easy drawl places him as one of the refugees picked up on Aerilon; his ruddy skin shows him to be in the full bloom of health, though his farmboy's tan has faded after all these months locked in a cold metal tube. "Old Missus Dunlap done near wore me out learnin' me the hydrogens and heliums and yeah." Pronounced hye-DRAW-gins and HEE-lye-ums, respectively. "I just retch up and pick them'uns that's good. Doin' my part and all."

Rose smiles broadly for the young man. "Excellent! Chemistry isn't exactly an easy science to appreciate, but I'm glad you at least gave it a try." She taps at the sheaf of plastic-covered records with her pen. "These log entries don't seem to match up with the numbers coming off of the plot. Do you by chance know whose initials these are?" And she points to a short column of initials, presumably a picker, or even the foreman in charge of the entire B5 row.

"Readin'? Now that's easy. Thar — that's a … R." Greg squints as he bends down to examine the small black scrawl. "And that thar … looks t'be a U, or double-U, or summat." And Rose's smile is matched by a wide and toothy grin. "Tryin' ta make me look readed, Missus Rose? Awful kind. Shore I know. That thar's Bobby Warner. Short towheaded feller. Pick them'uns that's good slower than a turpin'd do, he does." The boy thrusts his hands into his pockets as he stands up to his full height, narrowed eyes scanning the single-file line of workers making their way from B5-6 to the packaging stations in the distance. "Don't see him. Must've gotten hisself plumb tuckered loadin' an ungyun or summat and went for a smoke." Which means, if Rose is following, that Greg has a very low opinion of this Robert Warner's commitment to the job.

Rose spent some time on Aerilon and picked up some of the local slang, so she's not too far behind. "I see. Well, thank you, Greg. Please do keep up the good work. And if you're interested in any sort of schooling, something that you're interested in? Please let me know. Anything at all. Now that things aren't nearly as bad as they were, Mrs. Koios and I are looking to expand the school." And with that, Rose continues down the line, taking more numbers, and then leaving the row altogether, searching for this 'Robert Warner'.

<FS3> Rose rolls Alertness: Failure.

"Talk at ya soon, Missus Rose." Greg gives the woman a bright little wave and goes back to whatever he's doing — 'retchin' for them'uns that's good,' probably. As for this mysterious Robert Warner, it'll take Rose a while to make the rounds: there's nothing like navigating a busy place like the hydroponics bay to make difficult a search for one specific individual, to say nothing of one specific individual whose description is as generic as the one Greg offered.

And so it'll take a full fifteen minutes of interrogation before she manages to get a hit — this from a surly supervisor called Sheila, whose flat face lights up in recognition when she hears the name. "Robert Warner, yeah? Sure I've heard of him." Clearly it's not the good kind of recognition. "He's got the libido of a hound dog. Have you ever seen a horny pug hump a poor girl's leg? Now imagine the pug was six-foot-four. Stay a-way, lady."

Owlish blink. "Well, um, I appreciate the warning, but I do need to speak with him," Rose insists. "It's a matter of efficiency. Do you know where I might be able to find him at this hour?"

Sheila gives Rose a look. "He's six-foot-four with hair redder than a sunset on a postcard. Shouldn't be hard to find him yourself. Me? Last time he met me he tried to lick my pinky." The woman shudders at the memory. "If you still want to pop along and say 'Hey,' you're on your own."

Rose nods quickly. "Thank you." And she heads on her way, becoming increasingly peturbed, although the perpetually cheerful woman named Glykeria (in secret, anyway) will not be swayed! "How many tall red-headed men can there be? Oh, I don't know, a third of the crew? We only dragged up a bunch of survivors from Aerilon," she says to herself, mumbling under her breath as she continues to search.

"Whatever, lady." Sheila snorts under her breath as she gets back to the boring task of reading pressure gauges.

<FS3> Rose rolls Alertness: Success.

Stopping short, she murmurs. "Towheaded. Short. Red-headed. Tall. Wait, what?" Rose turns to face the woman again, crossing back to stand beside her. "I've been told Robert Warner is short and blonde. Are you sure you're familiar with the man I'm speaking? Or, perhaps I misheard?"

Sheila allows herself an exasperated sigh as she turns around once more. She's a firecracker, this one. Arms akimbo, the woman pitches her voice as if talking to a very slow five-year-old. "You're saying Robert Warner, right? And I'm saying he's six-foot-four with red hair and the biggest blue balls you'll ever see. He's the reason it's only guys working row B-something. The other ladies wised up to him pretty quickly. I don't think I can get much clearer than that."

Rose nods slowly. "I see. I'm sorry for questioning your word, ma'am. Robert, or Bobby, Warner. Yes?" She frowns lightly, looking down at her clipboard, as if the numbers and the science could provide the answers that she was looking for. "Maybe I misheard at my original source. I apologize, again." And she turns to head… right back where she started.

By the time Rose winds her way right back to Plot B5-6, someone's taken over for Greg: a chubby, dark-skinned fellow who looks manifestly uncomfortable around plants of any sort, judging from the massive gloves he's wearing and the fact that nearly every inch of his skin is covered in cloth of some variety. "Uh-huh?" he says by way of greeting, shucking off some leaves from a plum tomato.

"Excuse me, but did you relieve a tall young man, red hair?" Rose asks of the man, affecting a kind and polite smile that doesn't reach her eyes. No, Rose is starting to put two and two together, and she's displeased that she was deceived.

"Uh-huh." The man holds the tomato as far away from him as humanly possible, as if afraid it's going to sprout eight legs and start attacking his face. Communicative, he is not.

Rose begins tapping her foot. "Could you tell me where he went? Which way, I mean? Did he say anything on his way off?" Rose peers at the tomato, only because the man is going out of his way to hold it out with the absurd emphasis that he is.

"Said he had to take a shit, that's all." Tomato Man jerks his head somewhere in the direction of the starboard berths. "Son of a bitch hasn't been back and it's been, like, twenty minutes. Must be some shit." Gingerly, he peels the last of the leaves off the stem before breaking the fruit off entirely, chucking it into a nearby box without regard for its delicate skin.

"You should be more careful with tomatoes, they bruise easily," Rose offers as way of advice, before she turns to head off. "Thank you," she calls over her shoulder, making her way in the direction of wherever the privvy is located on this deck. Now she's losing any vestige of cheerfulness or calm; she's becoming increasingly frustrated; "This man is going to get a talking-to, that's for sure!"

But of course Greg — if indeed that is his name — isn't anywhere near the single-sex restrooms, nor is he anywhere else on the hydroponics floor, though one gets the feeling that his absence won't stop Rose from looking. Yet an hour later, when Rose hasn't come up with anything despite several PA announcements and two circumlocutions, the woman must come to a certain unpleasant conclusion: it's anyone's guess where the tall and gangly redhead with that absurd Aerilonian accent has ended up.

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