Sorry about the no-show on those excerpts from Ava's wall, but things have been a little hectic here and I haven't had time to prepare them properly. Take, for example, what happened when I took a short break from watching over Ava to get a bite to eat;
Me: -I am on my way to the kitchen to get something to eat-
Thage: -she waves me into a study of some sort-
Me: -I tiredly shamble in- What's up?
Thage: Well, once I finish updating these plans, I'll be prepared for you-know-what. There's a lot of things I'm not going to be outright stating for a while, because I need time to set this up in such a way that it'll blindside Them.
Me: I'm still not 100% sure about this. Maybe the wood will stop him just waltzing in, but how long before Eulogy sends someone in to get us? Concrete couldn't stop a determined Revenant, let alone wood.
Thage: Actually, that's where you come in if you feel like playing bait, once Ava's awake. But we'll be discussing that off-the-record.
Me: I don't mind playing bait but I'm not putting Ava right back in the crossfire after she wakes up. Besideswhich, she hasn't shown any signs of waking up. What if she's in a coma?
Thage: She'll come with me, if that's the case.
Me: And what if they don't take the bait?
Thage: I've accounted for that in several scenarios.
Me: I'll take your word for it, I don't want the tiny details to be included if I post this.
Thage: -she slides a small black notebook over to me- Behold the fruits of a childhood spent playing chess and Risk. And reading lots of texts by historic strategists.
Me: -I flip though a few pages- Impressive. I dare say even Eulogy would be jealous.
Thage: Hence why I'm not going to show any activity on Blogger until Friday. There's setting up to be done.
Me: Probably for the best. If Ava doesn't wake up, is there someone else who could take her and split it three ways?
Thage: -she rubs her chin and starts sketching in one of her journals- No, but you could ask around. As it stands, though, if I can get Ava to the car we've got an eighty-nine percent chance of a clean getaway. Seventy-two on foot though I'll need more frequent breaks. I'm not exactly built to carry someone her size for too long.
Me: Well, who of the Runners is near us? Who could I trust to potentially take Ava for a week or two?
Thage: Celeste's in the same state but she has her own problems going on. Any news on that mercenary and her mother?
Me: Mercenary and her mother?
Thage: Never mind, then, that answers that. -she rubs her chin- I was simply going to drive to the new house I told you about and say she's asleep if anyone presses matters.
Me: Not to sound too heartless or anything, but I wanted to split it three ways so that if they decide to chase you instead of me, we only lose you and not Ava too.
Thage: If you want to do it that way then the burden is on you to find someone to take her.
Me: Fair enough. -awkward silence- Sorry if I offended you. I'm just trying to be pragmatic.
Thage: So am I, which is the entire purpose behind how I'm approaching matters. -she shows me a rough map showing plans for escaping the city- Now imagine if I were able to get to the player's seat and move the pieces. This is a game where we need to think twenty steps ahead of the enemy, I'm bordering on forty.
Me: -I examine the map and try to find a flaw, but fail- Okay, I trust you. In the worst case scenario, where they send a team after each party, how long will it take us to rendezvouz?
Thage: Three weeks, four if they're persistent. If it takes longer than that, emails sent from a web cafe through multiple proxy servers--use a proxy server, log into another, and another, to kill any potential paper trail--will help you find us.
Me: That puts a bit of a dent in my plans but I can work with those figures.
Thage: Are you familiar with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms?
Me: I've heard of it. Japanese literature, right?
Thage: Chinese. China had the Three Kingdoms, Japan had the Sengoku era. Regardless, if you're passingly familiar with it, you know how Zhuge Liang propped Liu Bei up as a beacon of virtue with one hand, and trailed his other hand through the dirt to get what Shu needed done done, yes?
Me: I have no idea what you just said.
Thage: Zhuge Liang was Shu's strategist, a famous one at that for his ability to plan for almost every situation--or his ability to make his enemies belive so. Liu Bei was the first ruler of Shu, a man who believed in justice and virtue. So Zhuge Liang would intentionally keep Liu Bei in the dark about some of the things he did, things that were disreputable and underhanded, instead taking the heat for them while Liu Bei remained untarnished in the eyes of his people. He intentionally acted cold and callous to sell this act, depending on who you ask.
Me: Is this going back to your "doing dirty work for the champion" thing from yesterday?
Thage: -she nods-
Me: Any ideas on who our champion is? -I snort- Is there anyone who hasn't already been tarnished?
Thage: Right now, no, but that's part of why I'll be avoiding from making any posts--looking for someone to put the crown on, so to speak.
Me: Once you find the White King, who'll be his Queen?
Thage: Who the King turns out to be and who the eligible Queens are
Me: Honestly, getting answers out of you is like getting blood out of a turnip sometimes.
Thage: Today, it has to be hard to do that for a reason
Me: Point taken. -another awkward silence- Thage, what if Ava's condition worsens? She's still a suspect in the destruction of her street. If we take her to a hospital, she could end up getting arrested. Especially since the UK is the US's bitch these days. Extradition would take all of ten minutes.
Thage: -she flips through a third journal and points to a hastily-sketched US map- Unless they've been shut down in the last year, there's a map of every under-the-table hospital in the nation.
Me: -I scan the map- How reliable are these places?
Thage: Hit or miss, but they don't ask questions and they don't squeal.
Me: I don't like the idea of putting Ava in the care of less-than-scrupulous individuals. -I sigh- But I may not have a choice. I'm trusting you to take care of her.
Thage: I'll work on potential alternatives tonight.
Me: Thank you. -yet another awkward silence- I want to go back to Ireland when this is done. I have some unfinished business to settle. I'll probably bring Ava back to Egypt then. She seemed to be getting somewhere before she got sidetracked by me.
Me: Tell me, did any of your studies turn up signs of Slender Man in pre-Egyptian times, or am I pushing it?
Thage: Nothing solid, but that's mainly due to oral tradition.
Thage: There was one in Norway that might have been him, or just another unfounded superstition.
Me: Or a perfectly well-founded superstition. Mustn't forget those, few though they may be.
Thage: True. Though I think I'll take my superstitions from a culture that didn't regularly have sex with cattle. -she smirks-
Me: Might be a good call. Though, personally, I prefer not to judge based on sexual deviancies. Especially since I was born in 1953 and my girlfriend was born in 1993.
Thage: That's not quite the same as intruding upon a cow's business.
Me: Hey, for all you know, the cow could have made the first move.
Thage: -she gives me a questioning look-
Me: There have been stranger things.
Thage: "I like long walks under the moooooooooon and smelly blonde men in chainmail?"
Me: You say that like they had chainmail in Babylonian-era Norway.
Thage: -she grins- Well, okay, smelly blonde men in animal hides.
Me: Smelly with hide? Sounds like a dream date for the average bullock.
Thage: -she wrinkles her nose- I don't want to check my browser history now, thanks.
Me: Oh, hardy har har. For your information, I am a gentleman and would never watch porn while in a relationship.
Thage: ...you did not at any point discount the possibility that you would otherwise watch bestiality porn.
Me: ...I probably should have done that first, right?
Thage: It would avoid raising new and unsettling questions about why you eye those hamburgers so longingly.
Me: You should have been an Irishwoman, Thage, you have their sense of humour.
Thage: Most of me's Irish anyway.
Thage: The rest is Scottish and general Mediterranean.
Me: "General Mediterranean" is a rather vague term coming from such a learned historian.
Thage: That's because I have something from every country surrounding it.
Me: I applaud the extent of your forays into your own ancestry.
Thage: -she laughs- That was actually my dad's hobby. I should look into the specifics, though.
Me: It could serve as an amusing distraction from learning about humanity's long, sad history with "The Wicked Gentleman".
Thage: Well, regardless, I've planning to do.
Me: Shall I leave you to it?
Thage: For now.
Me: Okay, I'm gonna grab some food and head back up to Ava. Can I get you anything before I go?
Thage: Nope, have a nice night.
Me: -I grab a microwaveable burger from the fridge, heat it up and return to my silent vigil by Ava's side-