Day 042: A Birthday Present
Summary: Discussion of the 23's strange culture, attitudes and talents are held by Mountain relatives, following occasion well-wishing with a rather peculiar gift.
Date: 10 July 2016
Related: Follows Station's Symphony
Salvador Truman 


Security Room — Mount Weather
This room is kept dark and still, the better to see the information on the banks of glowing monitors. Three walls are covered in screens, while rows of work-stations provide even more glowing data for the defenders of Mount Weather. Motion sensors sweep the nearby woods, video cameras cover major approaches, and feeds from Ground Units can be displayed. There is always at least one member of the security team on-duty in the room, and during crises, all of the stations are filled, as many of Mount Weather's weapons and defenses can be controlled from this very room.
42 Days After Landing

The difference between internal and external security duties and level of excitement is on both extremes. Though things have been more interesting lately with their guests, for the most part the mountain is very secure. Which means Truman does a lot of patrolling, double-checking locked doors and staring at security monitors. The most exciting (and disturbing) part of his week is his duty shift down in the cages.

Right now, he's sitting backwards in a chair, going back and forth between keeping his eyes on the monitor and working out duty shifts.

The sound of a humming baritone precedes Dr. Montgomery's entrance, as he comes strolling down the Level Four corridor to arrive outside the Security Room door. Knock knock, sounds his fist, and the shadow of his polished shoes outside would be more mysterious, were it not for the fact that only so many people in Mount Weather can effuse such inexplicable cheerfulness with their presence in day-to-day business.

A beaming smile greets Sergeant Cooper when he opens the door, and there stands Uncle Sally, holding up a hand-made paper card and a binder file. There's a child's sloppy crayon-drawing of a personified bumble-bee on the front of the card, with yellow and orange writing scrawled on top. Salvador reads it out even as it's displayed. "Happy Bee-lated Birthday, Trooper!" He grins, glancing towards the card and following the writing with a finger as he sees fit to explain, "Do you get it? Bee-lated? Regan came up with it, I thought it was very clever."

It's always a bit of neck strain for Truman when he talks to his uncle. He looks waa-aay up and smiles quite genuinely at the card. "Wow, what a little artist. Tell her I said thank you." He steps back to let Salvador in. "What can I do for you, Uncle?"

"Why, I brought you a birthday present!" says Salvador, who does indeed glance down to the top of Truman's head for a moment before stepping on in. He offers the card out to his nephew, which even contains a very bad poem written by Sarah — it rhymes 'birthday' with 'bestie' — before his expression grows a touch more serious. This is, apparently, a business call as well as a genial well-wishing. "I thought this might be of interest to you." The birthday present is handed over, unwrapped, in fact being the binder-file. It contains laminated photocopies of the pages in Tink's notebook, detailing musical musings, makeshift weapon designs, and far more interestingly, her efforts to translate Trigedasleng.

Truman's eyebrows go up as he reads the 'poem,' but he does crack a warm little smile. He sets the card along with a few others over a spot that serves as his desk. He turns back and blinks at the pages he's presented with. He flips through, then looks up at his uncle. "This… came from one of the guests. How did you get these?"

"Oh, she lent it to me. I told her I'd make some copies," Salvador replies, waving a hand to dismiss any notions of illicit activity, before bringing it to rest on his belt. "The twenty-three are all very interested in being of use to us. I'm sure they've expressed this to you." His clear blue eyes study Truman's acutely as he speaks.

"They have," says Truman. He's momentarily lost in the pages on Trigedasleng. "I don't know about her approach to decoding the language, but she's certainly had more firsthand experience with them than I have." Most of what he's managed to learn from their prisoners are various colourful curses.

"Yes. Talented child, isn't she?" the doctor muses. He turns away from Sergeant Cooper for a moment, allowing the linguist a reprieve to absorb the information from Tink's notebook. His hands are on his hips as he looks up towards the security cameras, curiously searching for signs of the 23's activity — in particular at the infirmary, where he is off duty for the moment. "How are you getting along with them, Trooper? Any particular concerns?"

"Hmm?" Truman's mind is elsewhere for a moment and it takes a second to click back to the present. He sets the notes aside and lifts a shoulder. "Well enough, I guess. I can't tell if they're really enthusiastic or just want us to think they're enthusiastic. I think it might be a bit of each. Some are genuinely happy to be here. Others I think are more wary, but don't want us to know that."

Rubbing his jaw, Salvador furrows his low-set brow, seeming put-out by this new information. "Like who?" he asks, sounding like a host whose cooking has been insulted.

Truman is a smart guy. He doesn't want to get anyone in trouble. He thinks for a moment, then lifts a shoulder. "No one in particular. And no one consistently. It might just be general wariness, which I can understand. They've had to deal with the betrayal of their people, and then being left to fend for themselves against the Outsiders. I'd be a little gun-shy, too."

"Yes, I suppose you're right," Salvador admits. It's a plausible explanation, after all, which makes perfect sense from his medical perspective. He sounds and looks dismayed, all the same, even as his eyes continue to roam the monitors. "Quite a life those kids have had. Still, you'd think being here, they'd start to cheer up a little bit, no?" Even as a doctor, not being a psychiatric specialist, Dr. Montgomery is of the camp that mental trauma is something to 'just get over'. He cannot fathom not being happy in Mount Weather. Finally turning back towards Truman, he asks, "How's your mother?"

"She's well. She uh… tried to cook me birthday dinner." Truman's mother is talented in lots of areas, but food prep is not one of them. "It was uh…edible?" He cracks a grin, then shakes his head. His mind clicks back to the matter of trauma. "I remember once when she got trapped outside for nearly a week after a scouting mission. A storm rolled in. Do you remember that?" He was about eight years old at the time. "When she came back… it took her a little while to actually accept she was safe and that she wasn't going to lose containment on her suit or be attacked by the Outsiders. Maybe it's like that, you know?"

Salvador chuckles at the mention of Gloria's cooking. He may not be the best of cooks himself, but that's no reason not to enjoy humour at the expense of hers. "Tell her I said hi. Been meaning to catch her." The two are not, unfortunately, terribly close. Despite being nearly six years older than him, his sister has always been something of a wild-child to his side of the family: he's the golden boy. (Or man, now that he's full grown.) "And yes. I remember that. Still, she's fine now, isn't she?" he posits, demonstrating how poorly he in fact understands his own sibling. "Make those kids feel as welcome as you can. I know you're good at that, Trooper."

Truman smiles a bit tightly, and then lifts his shoulder. He scratches his temple. "Am I? I think I seem non-threatening. I've been doing my best, but it's so strange. I never realized how none of us have ever had to talk to someone we didn't already know. I mean, everyone younger than me I talked to before they could talk. And the other way around for anyone older than me."

"It is, isn't it? Strange?" Though Salvador's voice remains jovial, his expression does draw into something of a puzzled line. "Not quite what we're used to. Their culture is fascinating, from an anthropological perspective. I'm sure that's something you're interested in." He indicates the binder-file birthday present with a wave of his hand, and by proxy, Truman's expertise.

"Yeah. It's really tragic what they lost. Did you know they didn't even know other languages existed?" Truman's eyes go wide and he shakes his head. "I mean, what was the point of preserving the human race up there in space if they didn't bother saving art, culture and languages? It was strictly what was useful."

"In many ways, they are a lot like the Outsiders," Salvador claims, raising a pale finger to tap at the side of his forehead. "But they are smart. Sharp, even. This is evidence of that." He nods again at the binder-file. "Scientifically astute, if a little presumptuous. The younger Loden was talking to me the other day about wanting to be of assistance to our engineers. I did say I would speak with our personnel at Philpott Dam, but it is… unorthodox. Security-wise."

"They are, yes," says Truman a bit quietly. "And it is. But we don't really have any security protocols for integrating people not born here into our community. So I suppose it's all going to be… unorthodox, security-wise." He looks over to the monitors, then back to Salvador. "I better get back to work. I've already got to rewind the chunks of tape I missed before I clock out. Thank you for the gift, uncle. I appreciate it."

"Mm," comes Salvador's discontent sound of agreement, when Truman enforces the oddity of their situation, with strangers integrating into their home. "I am hoping the situation will… resolve itself," he says ambiguously, albeit in a non-forceful tone. Such decisions are above his pay-grade.

He turns towards the door, laying a hand on the handle to see himself out. "My pleasure. I'll pass your thanks on to the kids," Sally replies with a grin.

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