Fourth Rock

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by J_"Kraken", Sep 3, 2014.

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  1. The Last Memento

    Garret Warrens
    July 22nd, 2166
    20:30 Standard Time

    Warrens was, arguably, one of the most recognizable figures in Brown's Folly. Most knew him as a burned out veteran or the local mechanic, depending on who you asked, when, and why. He didn't believe why such a credit had been given to him as the natural know-how with machines, but it kept the SC coming in, so he found himself out of position to complain too much. His shop, known unofficially as the Quarry, took up for its namesake in all facets. It was, in essence, a dugout with a roof and a ramp crammed with tools of the trade.

    It'd been a long day, too long. Hours spent hunched over, around, and beneath an old-Earth automobile that he only serviced because of the man who owned it. He hated working with old-Earth tech, more than he hated the tedious labor that had been general maintenance on MagLevs. Not that it mattered. The job was done, and now he waited for Geth, patiently sipping at a glass of 'sludge' - a drink of recycled water infused with a few flavorings and spices to avoid the generally unfavorable taste. Alcohol was too expensive for most to afford more than a shot a week of without going artificial, and that was a slick road to roll down.

    Dim in the background a man played at the piano, a copy of what it might have looked like nearly three hundred years previous made to look more worn then it actually had a right to be. The barkeep stood towards the back of the bar, polishing a glass. It was quiet, unusually so for a Saturday evening. Uneasy, Garrett turned his head to glance over the near-empty bar, attempting to point a cause to it.

    Listening to the creaking of the ceiling fan and the din of an actual electrically-powered air unit, Garrett found himself lost in the moment. His thoughts did not dwell on any subject; it merely worked in a state he could not alter. The lights and signs, all written in an old-Earth Chinese and English mix, flashed off and on towards the balcony seats of the saloon. Faint chattering could be heard upstairs as well over this, but he could not make out the words. Lost in his trance, he had failed to hear the dual doors swing open and shut.

    "Shipments came in." The sudden voice caused him to jump and turn to the source, a young girl.

    Zona Harris, an underling to one of the growing arms dealers that had taken advantage of the Folly's central location. Most knew her by extension of Blackheart, though few enough spoke to his gutter rat. Taking another swig of the sludge, Garrett turned to girl and grunted.

    "Oh? And what do we have this time?" He questioned, beckoning for another round, coming to the conclusion that shipments usually meant focus on the train yard. "Nothing too conspicuous, I hope."

    "Bitter of you to word it like that." Was the girl's only response, agitating as usual.

    "Care to elaborate on my question? Or did you come to be an annoying shit?" Garrett retorted in his thick drawl of a voice, taking a swig of the refilled glass.

    "The usual works. Your typical underground job. Nils said I'd be able to head off with him on the next sale." Zona allowed herself a brief smirk. "A few rumors and bounties as well. Got a big hit marked for some ex-mercenary, and a few for some mass breakout with a payout of eight-hundred SC each."

    Garrett nodded in reply and downed the rest of the sludge in two long gulps, grimacing at the aftertaste. It wasn't an ideal replacement to anything, but it was better then the water. No doubt the local hunters would be out and about at the news of fresh work, but that was beyond his time. Though what she'd said had confirmed the scatterings that had reached Folly.

    "Care for a drink?" He asked, breaking the silence.

    Zona shrugged, flipping out a single credit bill and handing it to him. Without too much reluctance, he took it and called over the bartender; he'd need to stop wasting his credit after this one. With a clatter, the tin - glass was generally too expensive - cups slammed down to the table and he slid one over to the girl. Without a word, Garrett offered his cup to her in a toast of sorts. Nodding in return, she knocked the two together with a resounding clink of metal on metal. This brief moment of mutual respect over, the two settled to drinking in silence.

    #1 J_"Kraken", Sep 3, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
  2. The Last Momento
    If Garret was the most recognized figure in Browns Folly, then Nidalee Forthtail was the second. If being the owner of the biggest brothel in town didn't earn her right, her reputation for being a hard sell would. News traveled her bar just as much as her Orderlies, meaning usually at night and carrying a drink or two, which was exactly the way she wanted things. The more people talked the more secrets come out, the more power she had over the town. It wouldn't be long now until everyone knew her name. But those are future plans there was something more interesting playing at her mind today.

    Stepping away from the couple attempting to keep their drinks down, she shot one of the only other living people in the room a quick nod. Borris her thickheaded employee, as dim witted as he might be, understood immediately. He was to hold down the fort, figuratively of course, until she returned. Save a outright gun fight with some bandits she knew her bar was in safe hands. Though she hated to leave her bar in anyone's hands at all, she knew there was more business to be done elsewhere. That in mind she made a bee line to the stairs, taking them two at a time , and heading to the room whose occupant is the only man who stays over night on the second floor.

    Pausing at the threshold for just a moment she collect herself. Even on the best of days it was hard know whats going to happen and even harder to to tell what was going on behind his eyes. She threw a smile on like a mask and turned the weathered handle. The door swung open with ease opening the entrance to a well furnished room, her favorite red haired lap dog siting at the desk. His eyes turned up from the book in his hands to greet her, his lips turning up into a polite smiled. "Why Nidalee what an honor. What do I owe this visit too?"

    She strode across the room taking a seat on the desk he has just used, her leg crossing before she made any attempt to answer. "Business unfortunately, I don't have all the details yet but I know a job you might want to take."

    "Oh do you, care telling me what you do know?" he asked rising his seat to look down on her, a glint in his eye.

    With a tilt of her head she continued, "A high bounty on ex-mercenary seems interesting enough."

    "Yes it does," he spoke taking a step back his brows furrowing in concentration. "I'll have to look into it."

    As he stepped back she stepped forward, wrapping her arms around his waist looking up with a seductive grin. "We will have to look into it. I want to come with you to collect the bounty. Its been ages since you have been around, this will be a perfect chance to catch up."

    "Well as much as I think it might be dangerous.. Why not?" Would be his response, a wide grin across his face.

    "Good!" she replied satisfied, she jumped off the desk, pecking Vladamir on the cheek before stalking back out of the room. Pausing at the entrance she looked back, her grin mirroring his. " Ill get the details from Blackheart, you get ready, I want to leave by dawn." With that she was out and back into the hallway, planning her next moves.

  3. Daken Narmer
    July 22nd, 2166
    20:35 Standard Time

    Perhaps many in the building were recognizable. Some even famous planet-wide. But who knew Daken? Nobody. And that's just who he was. A mask holding a gun. Anyone could be behind it, but it didn't matter who unless you survived the bullet. But it was always good to be safe. So he'd grabbed a black, ragged old blanket out from a homeless man outside and covered himself, concealing his two revolvers and the rifle on his back, as well as his already masked face (people weren't usually comfortable around a masked man. Better to see a shadow of anything than a skull of nothing). Daken casually eyed the contents of the room from his dark corner, taking a swig of a mysterious liquid he didn't quite remember making out of his own flask (simply a rule of his own: Never drink anything someone else gives you. Or something you don't remember making). He noticed a gruff looking man that looked like someone he didn't want to mess with. Strolling in through the front door was a memorable-looking woman who strutted with an aura of authority. No idea who she is. The other hobo sitting next to him was eying his drink with an envious glare, which Daken responded to by lifting his cloak slightly to reveal the shadowy barrel of a revolver.

    A static voice crackled out of his mask asking "Want something, pal?" The man didn't. Letting himself fall into the sway of the music, Daken grew drowsy. And sleep meant dreams. And dreams meant memories.

    "50,000 after completion. Final offer." That was an instant surprise. These kinds of hits usually rake in less than 20,000 credits standard, 10,000 paper. So it was no surprise when Daken coughed up his brown drink trying to say "Fi-fi *cough* fifty thousand?" He coughed heavily for another minute. The man opposite of him patted him on the back. Probably one of the lower servants for one of the houses. Hecate? No, too well dressed. Maybe Venus. Didn't matter really. Daken batted away his hand. "50,000? Who am I hunting, God?"

    "I'm sure some people would like you too." He said with a good-natured chuckle. "No, this man is far less important. But no less dangerous. Take caution in hunting him."

    "I'll need a description and name. And a vehicle." Daken received a photo and a set of keys (which he later learned were for a personal motorcycle maintained since 2115) and the following word: "Geth."

    Snapping back into full consciousness, Daken flipped out the picture he had been handed and scanned the room again. Not here yet. Oh well. He rose, dusting off his irreparably dirty blanket as he walked off towards the bar. He casually tossed his flask over his shoulder to the other man in the corner. "Help yourself." The hobo grinned and greedily chugged the mysterious liquid, not showing any discomfort at the strange tastes. He was still grinning as he collapsed. It was a minute or so before the breathing stopped.

    Company cycle
  4. 20:50 Standard Time
    July 22nd, 2166

    Vladimir smiled, rubbing his cheek with a wild grin. "My, my, Nidalee.." Vladimir had a suitcase by his side, which he opened up cautiously on the desk after N had left. Unfolding a small piece of paper, he read the orders in his head.

    "To Vladimir 'Timarov' Hayette,
    From, Sector Security Manager Igor Kalikov

    Vladimir Hayette, I am sending you this formal letter addressing the posting of 100 Venus Legionaries near Brown's Folley. While I understand your concern about it being Jackal territory and not in our guiding control, I wish to inform you that the only reason we've allowed you to keep your residency at the Last Memento Saloon is due to your relationship locally. If not for that, my friend, you'd be out in God knows where, guarding one of our Compounds in Hibernation. We both know how bad that can be... A five year posting, no contact to the outside world.. Yeah, it'd suck. So for now here's what I can do for you, old friend. I can give you information on a bounty, one the local... Blackheart, has more information on. All we know is that it is one man, and that though we do not know where he is currently, this man is allegedly planning to stage something at our banquet. While we are not entirely sure when, as the banquet itself is up in the air, we are sure he is armed and dangerous. Within your briefcase are the standard issue Three Stage bombs, all three sets acceptable for this mission given it's unknown potential divergent courses. You're to kill this man when and if you see him.

    Your reward? A trip to our Grand Compound, and you may bring along your lover... if you like. You'll be transported in a private hovercar, equipped with only the finestamenities money can buy in this day and age. You may actually be allowed to recieve permanent lodging at the Grand Compound, if you preform well enough. Do remember- House Venus is watching, Patron. You may be a terrorist, but the only reason you've never been to jail is because of us."

    Vladimir sighed, the banquet itself was hopefully going to happen, however the Grand Compound... Huh... That was intriguing. He smiled however at the sight of his bombs, and shut the briefcase, walking downstairs in stride. Igor likes to drink, and though they were friends the two men had jobs to do, Vlad's was killing, Igor's was handling the paperwork and making sure Vlad never got in trouble with the Lawmen for doing House contracts. Private terrorist assignments? Vlad would be on his own.
  5. The Quarry

    March 3rd, 2166

    It had been abnormally warm that day. A week previous, the first winter dust storms roared through Folly, leaving the air drier and heavier than usual. Still, if the temp readers were anything to go off of, it stood at forty-four degrees centigrade. Sitting, sweat beading down his oil-slicked face, Garrett pondered the MOLE unit before him. The shop around him, the Quarry, burrowed two meters into the dirt with retractable walls leading from a plain, tin ceiling riddled with holes and scrapes from years of neglect. In most places there was no flooring, with a red-orange claylike material forming the majority of the ground he sat upon. Pavement ran from the ramp leading to the outside world and into a rough ‘driveway’ where the majority of his clients parked vehicles, drones, and other large objects. The MOLE was no exception.

    Deciding the engine was at fault for the internal collapse of the drill’s motor, Garrett stood up and hobbled to his terribly butchered and empty toolbox. A few bolts, nails, and other necessities lined with a simple multipurpose wrench and a power drill. He doubted these would suffice for long, but he kept the ‘hardware’ under a loose floorboard that marked where his office started and the workshop ended.

    Taking a grease-stained hand and smearing it across his overalls, Garrett grabbed drill and wrench in one hand each and settled himself beneath the elevated MOLE. It was an ugly thing, pitch black metal lined with external wires and exposed internals roughly in the shape of the creature it was named after. Several drills lined its front, with a semi-sentient camera allowing it to function independently for some time. A pity it wasn’t one of its larger cousins, those he knew how to work with.

    “Be damned if I’ll let the little ‘un do me in…” He grunted under his breath, beginning the process of taking the access hatch off its hinges.

    The bell on The Quarry's door rang as Synthia entered, wearing the best clothes she owned, a slightly worn gray pantsuit. There was little need to dress up in her line of work, and by the time she had needed the clothes again, she had been lacking the money to buy something particularly fancy. Her short black hair was (for once) neatly cut and brushed, and her blue eyes only revealed a slight bit of her trepidation. It didn't matter what century it was, a job interview was always nerve-wracking, especially when the interviewee had been living out of her car for the last three months.

    She looked around the shop with curiosity as she stepped towards what passed for the front desk. The place was a little more beat up than she was accustomed to, as the ship repair shops down at the Vinkar Shipyards catered to a more wealthy clientèle. By definition, anyone who could afford even a small spaceship to fly off-world was richer than most of the people that came in here, most likely.

    Steeling herself, she marched up to the front desk and called out.

    “Hello, I'm Synthia? We messaged a bit over the Net. I'm here for that interview?” She spoke with a polite tentativeness, but without fear.

    The bell had caused Garrett to jolt upwards out of instinct, his head catching against an exposed scrap of metal. Pausing only to employ a few choice swear words, he stood and rushed over to his toolkit. One hand staunching the now-bleeding cut, the other bumbled through the contents of the box, finding a relatively clean rag. A moment later, the rag had been haphazardly wrapped around his head and he had made his way to the front counter.

    Garrett’s back stood hunched, grease-stained salt and pepper hair falling in tattered clumps around his face and down his back matched by an unruly beard. A stained set of overalls rested above a shirt that must have been white at one point. Pausing a moment, Garrett removed a glove slick with oil and blood and offered a hand to Synthia.

    “We don’t get many astroboys ‘round here.” Was his greeting, using the slang term for mechanics that specialized in spacecraft.

    “An engine is an engine,” Synthia pointed out, taking his hand without hesitation, and ignoring the familiar, if slightly sexist, term for her former profession. It was true that there had been a time when rocketry and airplanes had been vastly different and more complex than other machines. But over the past hundred and fifty years, spaceships had become more simplified, and the more efficient parts that had been developed for airborne craft had also been adapted for automobiles, due to their advantages in fuel consumption and such. The real differences were that the ships were often lighter (obviously) and more complex, and they often relied much more on software regulation and controls. The newer land vehicles did as well, but this was less true in the older models that often came through Garett’s shop. Still, internally, the parts were truly not so different, and Synthia was almost entirely correct in deciding that her skills were quite transferable.

    “I can do the work, no problem. My clothes and gear are in my car, if you want me to prove it to you.” Secretly, she hoped that he would choose this option. She'd have to work soon enough anyway, and she enjoyed repairs, far more than she enjoyed explaining her recent history.

    “Was more a general statement. Surprised is all, heard you lot make bank out in the richer parts.” Garrett responded, running a hand through his hair, causing the majority of it to slick back with it. “As it so happens, I’ve got an internally compromised mole in the shop. Right up your alley, one of those puny mining units used for the asteroids.”

    He felt the description was necessary before realizing who he was talking to, abruptly changing subject. “What sort of gear you have, anyways?”

    “Sounds easy enough,” the mechanic replied. She smirked slightly at the explanation, but otherwise ignored it.

    “I have the basics, mostly: my laptop that I've set up to interface with most anything, some wrenches and screwdrivers, stuff of that sort. I used to have some of the heavy duty tools in my garage, but I had to sell all of them when I moved out. Only so much will fit in my gorram car,” she replied with obvious chagrin.

    Without explaining herself, the mechanic turned and walked out the door, returning a few minutes later in her “usual” outfit, permanently stained khaki coveralls over a somewhat loose t-shirt. Her hair was already up into a hat, and her safety goggles were around her neck. “From the sound of it, I won't need any of that to fix your problem, though.”

    “Odds are you won’t need to interface with anything in these parts. Most difficult we get is a spliced recycling plant, that happens ‘bout three or four times a year. ‘Course, that’s more lawman’s issue than it is ours.” He shrugged nonchalantly, walking to the rickety automatic door.

    With a groan and a creak, the door clamored open and the clay-stained back room was exposed to the pair. The MOLE stood, rather sprawled, over the majority of the interior space, its innards spilled outward in a mess of oil, wires, and external plating. Tools stood scattered across the floor around the breach in its center with blood dripping from a rather sharp spike of metal, the result of some damage in removing the access port.

    “Had to disassemble it to get it in here..I intend to avoid that on the way out, but no promises.” Garrett stated dryly.

    How the hell am I supposed to tell what's wrong with it without a dynamic test?! she thought exasperatedly as she pulled up the manual on her datapad and began to painstakingly put the parts back together, visually inspecting each part and each wire for a problem. About halfway through, she had diagnosed at least part of the problem.

    “Well, for one thing, its compression coil is shot. Can you hand me another CB-245?” she asked, looking back at Garrett briefly before continuing her work.

    Garrett nodded, shuffling around the back room, if it warranted the term ‘room’, before returning with the requested part. It was a fairly common model; this was part of the MOLE’s ubiquitous nature. A minute or so later he returned with the compression coil, handing it to Synthia and returning gratefully to his chair, pausing only to light an e-cig from inside his overalls. He took a few puffs before shutting it off, cramming it into the same pocket.

    “It’s a fairly common issue.” He commented, smoke still trailing from the corner of his mouth. “A wonder anything’s still flyin’ out there.”

    With a glance around the room, Garrett stood and walked to an old, worn radio set nestled in the corner of the garage. Next to it stood several other, albeit more worn, models all scraped into one functioning unit. His hands deftly ran over the control panel, clicking out a CD with a rickety groan of parts. A moment later, another CD slid into the drive with another resounding click. As the radio spurred into life, faint music began to sound.

    “Hobby of mine.” He explained as an afterthought, settling back in the chair. “Local smuggler gets me the radios and the disks, I fix ‘em up.”

    “Interesting,” Synthia muttered, distracted by her work. “Antiquated technology, these days, but there’s nothin’ wrong with that.” She continued working for another hour, occasionally calling out for another part or two. The compression coil had been the biggest problem, but the clogged cooling system and cracked drillbit had done nothing to help matters. “Whoever gave you this job had better be willing to pay for that gorram diamond bit,” she commented, standing up and staring down at a MOLE that looked almost as good as new. “Though, I suppose they don’ cost as much as they used to, with synthetic options and lunar mining and such.”

    “Parts I didn’t have already were paid for in full, real clean type. Speakin’ of pay...” Garrett paused, standing up and looking over the MOLE unit. “I see no reason it shouldn’t be a fifty-fifty split on profits. Dong ma?”

    As he spoke, Garrett began his way to the garage door leading directly from the room into the town via a poorly paved road. A firm hand gripped the pulley, tugging once and letting the barely intelligent automated system work the rest. The wide door swung upward with a clatter and a loud bang, revealing the dust-strewn wasteland behind it; the shop was on the fringes of Brown’s Folly. Pausing only to take a duster from a peg on the wall, Garrett pulled a ragged scrap of cloth over his mouth. Now it was a matter of moving the MOLE back into town.

    Synthia raised an eyebrow in surprise. She hadn’t expected to be paid for this job, and she was pleasantly surprised at the idea of a 50/50 split. She followed along and assisted with lifting the machine onto the system.

    “I’m fine with that. But more importantly, did I get the job?” she asked as they walked towards town, smirking ever so slightly. As a former “astroboy,” some would argue that she was actually overqualified for a shop like this, but in this economy, you had to take whatever you could find.

    “Why the hell wouldn’t you?”

    Credit to @T'Shara
    #5 J_"Kraken", Sep 6, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Nils Blackheart
    March 3rd, 2166
    20:50 Standard Time

    On the other side of town a man stumbled out of a slightly decrepit compound, he stmbled down the street before collapsing and frothing at the mouth. A man leaned against the doorway of the compound and breathed out a trail of smoke. "And that is what happens when you screw with a jackal.." He muttered to himself as he walked back into the dimly lit interior and closed the door behind him. Walking down a hallway he put out his cigarrete on the adobe wall.

    "Now back to business, where did I leave that crate of grenades?" Searching through various boxes he finally opened a crate and cackled, "ah there you are my explosive lovelies." Picking up a grenade and juggling it like a ball, he walked down another hallway he peered out a barred window. "Wonder when those bounty hunter fuckwits are gonna come around..."
  7. July 22nd; 2166
    Around 11pm

    Therus Geth finally got off the tiny cheap bunk in a small hotel inBrown's Folly after some days of waiting for his beloved ride to be ready and out of The Quarry. The car was surprisingly intact considering what it went through in the past but it sadly wasn't impervious so Geth had taken it to Garrett due to engine problems that even Geth could not fix. His father had owned the car and devoted so much time in refurbishing the old camaro that friends and family had made jokes about the car being his lover. Therus took over that job after his old man became too ill and had spent a tremendous amount of cash on the car, going so far as to overhaul it with armored windows, plates and a descent compatible engine. The other half of that cash had been spent on the cybernetic right arm he possessed, needed due to a grenade explosion. The arm was close to military grade and had burned his saving quite a bit but it had saved his life on many other occasions and had earned some of the cash that he had spent on it.

    After a quick wash which mostly consisted of a 5 minute cold shower he got dressed in his favorite jacket and gear. With his .50 revolver on display at his hip, securely holstered so no one could just grab it out of the holster, and his 10mm hidden under his jacket he took one last look at himself in the mirror. His blonde hair and beard were as clean as it was gonna get with the establishment's features and the tanned face had not quite faded yet, a small outline around his eyes from his goggles.

    He had spent most of his time in Brown's Folly hunting easy chump change, small time gangsters and crooks that had gotten some cash on their heads for their esqapades. The money at least added up and one in his line of work would be an idiot to be too picky. He walked out of the tiny hotel room and hesitantly took a deep breath of the bustling atmosphere of Brown's Folly.

    As he made his way through the filthy streets he debated whether to go straight to the Quarry or get food and/or a drink in him first. The latter one after an audible complaint from his stomach. He knew of a joint not too far from the Quarry and made his way there, managing to catch a pickpocket in the act before reaching the place. He hadn't hurt the thief too bad, just giving the teen's forearm a hard enough twist to pull a muscle and a hard flick to the forehead.

    After entering the joint he only gave the patrons a casual glance before heading straight to the bar and ordering a caffinated drink and a small meal. He hadn't noticed Garrett from his previous angle though had noticed the man hidden in rags but paid him no mind. Fellas that dressed all mysterious and took a seat way in the back were nit uncommon. There was almost always someone who did that in any bar in such a town.
    #7 Thieving Goblin, Sep 10, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
  8. The Casual Pint

    Garrett Warrens
    December 3rd, 2141
    18:00 Standard Time

    He'd heard the rumors. The man, come alone on a worn gravbike. Why he had chosen to come to a newly formed hamlet in the middle of hostile territory had been left a mystery until they saw the thing strewn across his back. A bag, not any plain traveling sack or case, no, this was a thick, canvas sack in a hideous pattern of blue and green. There was no doubt what this man was, what with his cocky stride and well groomed visage.


    Back in those days, the carpetbaggers were quite a popular movement among the cities. Few openly wanted to live in the wastes if they could help it, but so many easy ways to make a profit existed when the colony was taking its first teetering steps into civilization. Every month or so, one would come to Folly in order to recruit what he could to the railroad or the vast amounts of company stores that dotted the outskirts of the cities. Other times they'd come with the intention of purchasing swaths of lands before realizing most of it was Jackel territory, or else come with some bogus miracle invention from the titans of civilization.

    The doors of the Casual Pint swung open with a clamor and a low hiss or releasing pressure. The dying sun shining behind him, his back hunched over a large slab of cloth and clasps, stood the man himself. A chorus of swears and groans beheld him as he walked into the bar. A smug, all knowing gaze peered around the bar which had quieted at his approach. One footfall followed another until the man grabbed a chair and hoisted himself atop it, clearing his throat and slamming his sack to the ground next to him; anyone who hadn't paid him attention now did.

    "People of this poor, neglected town! Hear me now! You have been abused, forgotten, shunned! But no longer! No longer will you spend your days in the mud, scrambling for a profession in this careless, cruel red wasteland!" He had worked himself into a stupor by this point, fists slamming into the air now. "What has changed since we left Earth? Nothing. NOTHING! If nothing else, this great migration has only benefited the rich and left those without anything left worthless in the eyes of these tyrants. Why should you toil for barely a living when you could be living in comfort and security?

    "At Greenwheat, you will be cherished as the valuable gears and cogs that produce the world's food supply! You will live in mansions compared to your current standards. You will never go hungry. You will never have to keep a weapon under your bed. All past misgivings will by left behind. The slate will be purged! We ask not what walk of life you come from, nor your position. Nay! We ask for your service to your planet. To. Your. SPECIES!"

    By now most of the bar had ignored the man; he was an inconvenience to their enjoyment of the evening. Garrett, having had enough of this talk, had made the mistake of standing and beginning to walk towards the door.

    "And you there!" The carpetbagger's beady black eyes met Garrett's stone cold ones. "You are a veteran, are you not? Your uniform is from the standing army, is it not? You were with us in the jackel wars of '32, weren't you? Might I ask your current profession?"

    Garrett turned, slow and deliberate, the door already grinding open as he attempted to speak over the noise. "And yet you aren't a Faithful, a shame for such a charming persona."

    The door thundered close behind him, leaving the man stammering with his mouth wide open.

    Garrett Warrens
    July 22nd, 2166
    23:30 Standard Time

    Not long after Geth's arrival, Garrett had handed the keys back over and stated the vehicle would be waiting for him inside the Quarry the following morning - Geth had the passcode into the shop should he need something after hours. Without much to add to the conversation, he had left the bar and decided to give the train yards a passing by. While not necessarily on speaking terms with Nils or his underlings, the two did have a solid business history as he and Geth had formed over the years. As he walked down the empty, dust strewn roads, Garrett stopped before the place the Casual Pint had been so many years previous. Now it was a gunsmith's shop devoid of the rustic charm the bar had held until Forthtail had put all of them to shame. He enjoyed the Memento well enough, but he supposed nostalgia would play its part.

    Further down the road behind him, he could see 'ole Brown's statue standing in its decrepit glory, if such a word came close to describing it. A haggard man with a gaunt face, narrow frame, and frail arms stood above a mound of dead jackals bearing a flag. His eyes stared outward to the sky, and an outcropping of now oxidizing bronze formed a crude green 'S' across the banner, which with the rail tracks going down the middle gave it the appearance of an old-Earth currency symbol. Graffiti lined the base of the statue, scribbling over what had been 'Beacon to the Wastes' with several instances of profanity and other symbols that had been left to grace the monument to one man's own bull-headed stubbornness.

    Beyond that, at the very edge of his dying vision, he glanced a light from the Quarry spilling out around it, either a forgotten light or Synthia working late. Taking his thoughts out of their wayward drift, Garrett snapped back into reality and began to make his way to the train yards once more. Once there, he glanced several new wanted posters on the message board. There were other notices, several of which he took a mental note of (request repairs unfulfilled), though by far the board was dominated the space. Prison outbreak, massive gathering of fugitives under one warlord, said to be on the run with Sitting Bull.

    "Can't they leave Earth behind?" He muttered under his breath, vaguely understanding the reference; no doubt this jackal sympathized with the natives of America and felt his struggles were easily related.

    If only he'd been younger; the tantalizing offer of nearly 120,000 SC per head was nearly enough to make him pack up shop, say his final peace with Synthia, pass the torch. But that had been before he'd been stripped of his rank, before he'd done his shifts up in the void, before he'd found himself trapped in Folly. Before you became an old man, face it, you're done with this life.

    Oh, but if only.

  9. What I have so far:
    July 22nd, 2156
    Time Unknown

    "We've brought you here, you 100 who've decided to join our ranks... To be tested!" There was much applause around them. All 100 were in shackles, not slaves in the traditional sense, though all would be killers. "You all have your talents, your wits... Many of you are actually good people. Despite this... Our House is very selective in whom we allow to share our bounty. In order to become a Patron you cannot simply walk in and sign a form, oh no. You need to prove yourselves." The youths all looked up, around them were golden arches, high ceilings... walls made of stone. Was this some kind of arena? It surely didn't feel like it. Ten by ten, they were led out, and ten by ten they were taken back in until only one remained. Vladimir was among these 100, lured on false pretenses though now, this seemed like the end of the road. He wasn't much of a fighter, but he was allowed a choice of weapon. Having been accustomed to violence, and having had his Halo pistol taken upon his initial capture, Vladimir asked for it returned. When he entered the arena, the other 9 combatants were chilled to the bone. The bodies of the previous 89 slaves were still littered on the grounds, their bodies literally being put into burning piles upon one another for the sake of saving space. The smell would make even the hardiest of men vomit, not to mention a boy of 16. He was not forcibly taken, he wanted to become a Patron, though all of this was not mentioned to him. 3 died of shock, Vladimir killed 2, and the other 4 killed one another off. The three that died of shock were shot in the face, just to give the audience reassurance that there wouldn't need to be another go around. Vladimir, in the end, won, though to this day these memories haunt him.

    "Congratulations, Patron Hayette." Those words are the only thing he really remembers about the ordeal before he was taken to a lavish banquet, given a contract to sign on his terms, thankfully, and a promise of protection. Despite this, Igor, also being one of the 10 that survived, berates Vladimir for not getting stuck with a management job.

    July 22nd, 2166
    23:35 Standard Time

    Vladimir walked along the old dusty road of Folly without much care. He was a known face by many, a charitable soul even more so than a killer. Despite this many knew that when he donned the white coat, of course camouflaged with some sand, and put on his white hat he meant business. Carrying with him a briefcase containing the Halo pistol as well as the first set of 3-Stage-Bombs, Vladimir looked like a stockbroker of the old world to most. Looking out at the empty expanse before him, Vladimir saw little in the way of comfort and much in the way of bloodshed. Despite his line of work, Vlad hated killing. The night air was cooler than he'd expected, and the coat did him some good. "Hey, old man... Why are you out here so late?" Vlad asked, with a calm smile. He had seen the posters all before, warlords, bandits... thieves, all of them. He pitied them, not being under House protection, but then again, why wouldn’t anyone?

    Garrett paused for a moment, turning around slowly and squinting at the figure standing before him: the voice had been vaguely familiar, but he had to be sure before he spoke. A long silence passed before his face lightened with comprehension; comprehension that quickly became a furrowed brow. Without bothering to ask the man’s intentions, Garrett flipped his duster aside, the butt of his revolver gleaming against the light of a dim street lamp.

    “Come to spare an old man a few years of existence, have you?” He asked calmly, hand coming to rest on the end of the pistol stowed in its holster. “I’m afraid you’d have to let me drop the keys off at the Quarry first; it’d be quite the annoyance to gather them up for Synthia, and I’d like to avoid that if’n I can.”

    Vladimir chuckled heartily .“No, no, old man... You’re fine. I merely came out here to look at the wanted poster, as well as ask a few questions- mainly about the rail line here.” Vladimir smiled, one that might’ve looked like Gatsby should he have really existed. Though, unlike Gatsby, Vladimir wasn’t by any means rich. “You see my friend I am looking for information on which trains run through here at what times, if you wouldn’t mind. I am also looking for something to be made for me. You own the Quarry don’t you? Name’s Vladimir- Vladimir Hayette.” That name alone may have struck fear into the eyes of the average Wastelander. A lot of people know that should a Patron from House Venus show up in your town, there’s probably ‘work; involved.

    The Patrons are like dogs, as Vladimir found out only a handful live to tell how it all happened, yet most are so shocked they’d rather not recall. Once initiated as Patrons, they’re given a stipend, their weapon of choice, and a handler. Five become handlers, Five become Huntsmen, and all are considered Patrons. Handlers give out special contracts to the Huntsmen, mostly from the upper echelon who want specific people killed, or women grabbed, or towns burned. If a town burning is in order, the Handler goes in ahead and announces some sort of event- like a raffle, and proceeds to gather everyone in the square. One by one, their numbers are called and in the end only the women and small children are spared- that is if they don’t refuse. The Huntsmen then burns the town, or blows it up, then gets payment. The Patrons are of course allowed to do their own thing, but when the House calls, it calls.

    “That depends on what you need fixed, don’t it?” Garrett retorted, relaxing his grip on the revolver marginally. “Get a lot of requests for shit that can’t be made by a lone scrapper such as myself.”

    Though he let nothing surface, he found the prospect of working for a patron of Venus distasteful. They were low on his list of unsavory types, and he knew them all. Robber barons, carpetbaggers, hired guns, none of them quite held the grace in destruction like a patron did. It took a unique mind to take from the poor, an even more unusual one to rent out skills as a gun hand. But a patron? They revelled in it. It made him shiver involuntarily just thinking of it, a gesture he passed as throwing the duster back over the revolver.

    “I’ll take you back to the shop, let you see the height of my gear.” He grunted, consenting that it was best to not be on a patron’s blacklist.

    Vladimir smiled with a curt nod, taking note of the revolver and smiling. Fear works wonders. “Sounds good, old man... Now I know that this town it’s the best of places... though I wish to.. shall we say.. revitalize it.” Revitalization meant, to a Patron, a big bonus. Revitalization, in a nutshell, meant that a town would be cleaned of ‘degenerates’, and then made anew. A Patron would be required to make a list of changes, the people who seemed to show signs of degeneracy, and then submit it for approval. Vladimir was now merely taking notes. There was a separate list, a list of buildings and persons who should be spared. Vladimir had instinctively noted the Hecate Brothel to be left intact, given that a Patron’s relatives and their property, no matter the affiliation, would be spared.
    As they walked, Vladimir looked at the sun. “Old man... How did you come upon this town? Were you like one of the other degenerates that call this place home?” To House Venus, almost everyone outside their ranks might be considered a degenerate in some form- uncivilized. Then again, Vlad’s seen a lot worse than this town.

    “It’s a long tale, clouded in mistakes and opportunities lost. Nothing worth retelling from an old asteroid miner.” Garrett added a nonchalant shrug to the statement, feeling best not to mention his previous military involvement.

    “Why do you not answer my question, old man?” Vladimir was being as polite as he could, tapping on the briefcase to hear the clicking of his Bombs- the first set being made nonlethal.

    “I see no reason to, you activate one of your gratified dart guns or pull your pistol on me and you’ll be gunned down before you get out of the town. If you must know how I came to be here, you better be prepared to speak over a rather long dinner or you best be damned satisfied with my previous answer.”

    Vladimir could see that this was getting nowhere, though he knew that this... old man would probably not be a hard sell. “Well... I’ve not eaten in a while so, why not?” Vladimir took out a small mobile phone, only four contacts on it from an outsider’s view- though under a locked file you’d find countless more numbers. The four of note were: Igor, Nil, Sector Security, Sector Services. “Mind if I make a call, first?” Vladimir asked, holding the phone out and having his finger on ‘Sector Services.’

    Garrett had to stifle a laugh. “You’re pretty literal, ain’t’ya?”

    They were at the front doors of the Quarry now, warm yellow light spilling from the viewports nearly three feet above their heads. Garrett produced a worn security card and pressed its magnetic strip to the door, which promptly opened with a creaking of rusted gears. He told himself it was intentional, that it alerted him if someone was breaking and entering. Though, in truth, it was laziness mingled with a desire to keep more of his payments. In the front room was little more than a desk cluttered with paper leading to a manual door so old it still boasted wooden frames.

    Shutting the door behind him, Garrett turned back to Vladimir, all business. “Now, what do you need my rusty expertise for?”

    Vladimir smiled hesitantly, he had just gotten off the phone, tailing slightly behind Garrett until they reached the Quarry. “Deliver... to this location... tonight... ten minutes? Good... very good. Thank you Alice.” Vladimir now looked at Garrett’s room with a hint of disgust, though it was not shown on his face, rather in the way he spoke. “My friend... I wish for you to tinker with these, for a moment.” Vladimir, obviously not an idiot, took from his pocket three defective- though not disarmed, Stage Bombs. One was a gas bomb, from the first set, the second a ‘control’ bomb, looking to hopefully seize any data from this old man. The third, the third was the ‘Execute’ bomb, from the Second Set- designed to release an acidic gas. Luckily Vladimir had a mask with him, though it probably wouldn’t do much good.

    “Tinker with these... See if you can make them work. They don’t look like much but these are as far as I’m aware standard issue.” In fact they weren’t. At all. Vladimir had to beg for them to be made, yet now for him it’s all-purpose, every time he’d like a new set, or modifications to a set, he could just ask Igor to fill out the paperwork with a design or effects in mind.

    “I’ll see what I can do.” Garrett’s eyes began to scan the weapons. “What’s the time frame on having these said ‘n done?”

    He was loathe to work with weapons, particularly ones of these caliber. Still, he didn’t have much else (or better, he admitted that played a part in it) to do. No doubt he’d have an easy time with them after asking around for a manual or ordering one from Nils, but that all depended on whether or not this patron needed them in a decent amount of time.

    “You have... Ten minutes. They aren’t that hard for me to activate, so they shouldn’t be too hard for you to turn back on. Try opening the one labeled 1G. Try to open it.” Vladimir smiled instinctively, knowing full well should Garrett breathe in the gas he might be knocked out. Despite this the chance would be unlikely, though still possible.

    “I’m afraid you’ll have to tell me what I’m workin’ with first, common courtesy to tell your worker what he’s dealing with.” Garrett responded, turning the device over gingerly. “Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve gotten something illegal or fuckin’ dangerous.”

    Vladimir chuckled with a nod, understanding. “You’re working with high-grade bombs, my friend. Non-lethal, as far as you’re aware.” Vlad made a point of stressing the non-lethality of his weaponry.

    “You’ll have ten minutes, then I’ll activate them if you can’t at least figure out how they work. For now, I think my order has arrived.” Outside, the sounds of a heli-truck landed outside the place, with three workers taking out small boxes of real, steamed food. Vegetables, a small cut of meat, even a bottle of wine made in this new world. They even brought out a velvet-embroidered chair made primarily out of mahogany for him to sit on, with Vladimir taking great pride in using it. “Go on, old man. Try to do what I’ve done for years. Arm. The. Bomb.”

    “You don’t need me to arm this. And you know what I don’t deal with? Fuckers who walk into my shop who say the shit they give me is dangerous as far as I know. Is there any reason for me to have anything to do with these?” Garrett stood from the desk, drawing and clicking his revolver in little more than a second. “Get out.”

    Vladimir smiled with content, nodding calmly and getting up from his chair, taking the gas bomb in his hand and twisting it in the dim light. “You know... these things arne’t meant to be lethal, but they can be.” Of course Vlad knew about the revolver, about how he might be dead in a minute. “Yet at the time same time you know that killing a patron is not only a capital offense and the crime will be logged. You also know that if I am found dead that you’ll soon have this town razed. I’m one of a thousand.” Vlad took the bombs off the table, and tapped on the top to release a small amount of the gas into the air.

    “This gas dissipates in a matter of seconds, though it can very bad for the lungs.” Vladimir, already exposed to it for years, was immune by this point. He calmly stepped backwards, ‘accidentally’ dropping the bomb on the ground as the three people in the truck, formerly waiting outside, opened the door as Vladimir tapped on it and had their guns drawn. “How do you want this to end? I’m willing to leave- just know this provocation won’t go unnoticed, old man.”

    “No doubt. Make sure you bring someone to kill for you, wouldn’t want to spoil the white.” Garrett called after him, slinging the revolver back in its holster with a flourish and locking the door behind Vladimir.

    Vladimir had left two remaining bombs- the lethal ones, on the desk. On the surface, completely docile, yet they could be set off at any time. Garrett, feeling the bombs were best left out of potential idiotic mistakes, hefted the two outside a fair distance from the Quarry after checking to see Vladimir had left. He’d need to break the old .37 rifle out again, but first he needed a drink: a real drink.

    Maybe going after the bounty won’t be such a bad choice. Get Synthia out of here, give her the savings..Leave, just leave…

    Vladimir sat in the auto and sighed. “Seems this... Folly, might be true to it’s name for a fourth time.”
  10. The Quarry
    July 25th, 2166
    06:00 Standard Time

    Zona hadn’t truly realized how much effort it would take to work her first job for Blackheart. There were so many things he had provided that, now looking back, she had taken for granted. The contacts, the preparation time, the planning. It had crossed her mind, more than she’d been willing to admit, that this was a fairly basic deal. Something they’d call a two-stepper, or some other nonsense; she hadn’t truthfully paid much attention to the terminology Nils had been so quick to replace commonplace speech with.

    Time, though, had been far more inclined to slip away from her grasping hands. She’d considered asking Garrett, but had been unable to find him in the past few days. The Quarry’s door had been answered by that girl that sometimes went around with him, and so Zona had assumed he was off and about. Unfortunately their contact wanted someone to scrape a new power cell together, the parts having been smuggled all the way from New Shanghai by Nils. Why they needed it, or what they were using it for, had been left out of list of things she needed to be aware of, though she had no doubt they didn’t have the best interests of the law to them.

    Now, the fourth time she had been to the Quarry in three days, Zona had decided she would demand to enter the premise. The notion would fall apart at the slightest resistance, but she’d seen Nils pull it enough on their runs through the sector. Of course, they’d all been - more or less - in his pocket already, so it wasn’t a fair comparison. Gathering up what composure she could, Zona rang the call button on the front door. If things went south, she’d ask the woman, Synthia, if she was good enough.

    “Hold on a gorram minute!” a voice called out, as Synthia got out from under a small hovercraft she was fixing for some wealthy idiot or another. She didn't terribly care who she did the work for, so long as they treated her with a modicum of respect and they gave her an interesting machine to work with. Unfortunately, she had no idea that that rather lenient policy was about to be tested.

    The grease-covered woman answered the door., wiping her face with a rag and pushing strands of hair out of her face.

    “Hey, what's flyin’?” she asked, “Garrett's out right now, so I'm kinda supposed to keep this place on lockdown. But I can take whatever you want me to look at and get to it before tomorrow.”

    “Oh, alright.” Zona replied, a hint of disappointment curbing off her enthusiasm. “Hey, you’re a decent breetva aren’t you?”

    She gritted her teeth at the awkward question, quickly hiding the expression of discomfort behind a mask of indifference. It hadn’t been the best of approaches, that she was sure of, but it sort of...fell out. Zona’s hands quickly darted into her pockets as she stared up at the woman, feet shuffling inward and her shoulders slouching into a closed posture.
    “Yeah, I'm decent. Let me put it this way, it's been about four years since I met a mechanical problem that I couldn't figure out how to solve, ” Synthia replied proudly, recognizing the local slang for “mechanic.”

    “Willing to work for some easy money then, neh?” Zona questioned, using the Japanese interrogative emphasis out of habit.

    “If the job’s not too shady, sure. I’ve been asked to do certain jobs that I refused in the past, but trust me, those weren’t actually machine work.”

    “That mean you’re willing to do some shady things with mechanic work?” Her fingers gently rapped against her own arm in a nervous twitch; it was meant as a joke, but her voice had failed to change in tone to compensate.
    Synthia hesitated for a long moment, considering the question, having completely failed to recognize that it was a supposed to be a joke. Crime was one thing that had certainly been transported into the human colonies, and Synthia was no stranger to it. Even some customers she had seen back in her time in the relatively high class shipyards had very likely had criminal connections. But she liked her life and her freedom, and found the idea of being arrested rather distasteful. So she had worked very hard to stay out of that scene, even when the temptation to get in had been strong. The closest she had come was those mundane jobs for characters who might not have been quite on the right side of the law.

    “Depends on if I'll have the Lawmen on my ass about it, for one. Ain't got time for that, not for any amount o’ creds. And I won't fix weaponry, regardless o’ the money or the rap trail. Fuck that shit. The history of technological advancement has been far too focused on riddling each other with holes. Besides that, yeah, I’ll admit that I've done some mechanical work for less scrupulous folk before. Can't live on this gorram planet without running into it at some point,” she finally replied.

    “Fuck, fuck.” Zona murmured before clearing her throat and continuing. “No, no. Nothing illegal, just you and a couple of scrap-built power cells. Think you can do that? They aren’t some oo’zhas nuclear shit. Nobody wants that built no more, whose genius idea was that anyways?”

    “Actually, at the time nuclear power plants was relatively efficient for power generation when handled with proper safety protocols,” Synthia pointed out. “It’s just that when things fucked up they majorly fucked up. Not to mention, nuclear power had a pretty horrid start with that whole bomb thing.” The young woman stopped herself. Now was not the time to tutor the teen on the history of nuclear energy.

    “But yeah, I suppose that sounds reasonable enough. Except, if you want me to leave this nanosecond, you're going to be shit out of luck. I’d rather not lose my job, and I have shit to finish here. What's this going to actually pay, anyways?” Her tone was still indifferent, even mildly arrogant regarding her abilities, but she was unable to hide a slight twinkle in her eye. She loved working with hacked together stuff, and would probably do a job like that for free, were it not already known to be connected to something unsavory. Still, money was always preferable, and she was not going to give up her negotiating position by letting too much of her own passion be known.

    Zona paused, running through some quick arithmetic in her head before speaking again. “If the buyer’s as generous as he says he is, it’ll end up running out at a total of six thousand creds. You’ll get most ‘o that, I’ve got no use for the cash. ‘Suming he doesn’t flake, might be as much as eight, but I wouldn’t count on it.”

    Truth be told, it was illegal, but she need not know that. At least, Zona thought it was illegal, otherwise Nils wouldn’t be telling her to do it. Her hands left the furrows of her pockets and an arm extended into a gesture to shake hands, palm outstretched. She hadn’t really believed it would have been this easy, particularly on someone who had no reason to lend her a hand.

    Truth be told, Synthia was quite shocked. Her eyes widened, and for a moment she just sort of stared at the strange teen. Why did I swear off crime again? she wondered with a hint of sarcasm. Seems like the criminals are the only ones who pay very well on this damn rock, only ones who can afford it. Though, Garrett is extremely fair.Still, she was not ready to shake the younger woman’s hand just yet. One would have to be a complete moonbrain to take an offer that sounded so unbelievable without at least asking a few more questions.

    “Maglev leaves this Saturday, dong ma?” Using a preferred phrase of Garrett’s and later Nils’ she’d picked up.

    “Where from?” the mechanic asked, quickly regaining her composure, and starting to, quite wisely, doubt the sincerity of the girl’s intentions. What kind of crazy kid has the authority to offer that kind of money, along with the stupidity to ask just whoever the fuck to do the job? For all she knows I can barely turn a damn wrench.

    “Right here from Folly to Leford, you’ll be back by Tuesday at the latest.” Zona responded after a pause; Leford was a relatively well-known townstead on the outermost edge of the western city little more than a day’s journey by train, weeks by other means.

    “Do I even want to know who in the System this is for? Or why you decided to offer this choice deal to me, for that matter? I’m just a mechanic’s assistant, after all,” Synthia questioned. Actually, she was probably one of the best breetva in the Folly, but she was curious as to how this young girl knew that.

    Garrett Warrens hired you, no doubt you’re at least some use with metal things.” Zona retorted, with a hint of defiance to her voice, placing an unnecessary amount of belief in Garrett’s skill. The young mechanic choked down the urge to crack up at the term “metal things,” and given the girl's age, even resisted saying, Yes, I'm awesome with tin cups too, at least out loud. After all, it was not this kid's fault if she was a tad undereducated.

    “Well, yeah. I suppose that's a point,” she agreed. “You still didn't tell me who this generous employer is.”

    “A local trader, Nils Blackheart. He’s my employer, and his employer is one of the execs trying to hack it in the real world without the notion of guaranteed wealth.”
    Synthia allowed herself a sharp intake of breath. She was only tangentially aware of Nils' reputation, but that was enough. He was not someone you wanted to get mixed up with. But frankly, she needed the extra money. Who didn't? Surely, fixing a simple power cell would not land her in too much trouble, right?

    Her hand still awkwardly outstretched, Zona’s timid gaze met Synthia’s still rather questioning one. “So, deal?”

    Synthia looked away for a moment. She still had a strange gut feeling about this, despite the openness with which the young woman explained the job. But what was the harm? Morally, it was just fixing a power cell for a criminal, nothing too far from what she’d had to do in her old job at times. Sure, it was a lot of travel, but for over three thousand credits, she’d go just about anywhere. The promise of three months of pay in one weekend was more than enough to dissuade any negative thoughts she might have on the job.

    Turning her head back to meet Zona’s eyes, she shook her outstretched hand.
    #10 T'Shara, Sep 14, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2014
  11. Thursday, July 27th, 2166
    18:00 Standard Time

    Synthia had been employed at the Quarry for around four months, and she had been given two days off a week; Sunday, when the shop was always closed, and another day of her choosing. Often, she had come in even when she was supposed to be home because she had been stir crazy or her help had been requested. In four months, she had never asked for another day off, and she really despised doing so now. It was the end of the day on Thursday, and just a few minutes after closing.

    “I got some work this weekend, out in Leford. Mind if I take off for a few days? Leaving Saturday morn’, should be back by Tuesday night,” she asked, an unusual trepidation lining her voice. She and Garrett had become much more comfortable with each other over the past few months, but in this moment she sounded just as nervous as she had during her interview, if a bit less formal.

    Garrett looked up from the discarded hydro pump from the local recycling center, split straight down the middle.

    “Right, need creds for the ticket?” His voice was flat, almost as if he’d expected the question.

    “Nah, it’s really just a favor, more a personal thing than related to the shop. Thanks for the offer though,” came the response, after only a slight hesitation. Her supervisor really was far too kind to her. She had expected the time off, not the offer of a ticket.

    Garrett remained silent for a moment, running a careful hand over the breach in the pump. It would be one hell of a day to fix this mess, almost enough of a break that he’d had half a mind to return it and state it was beyond repair. But, stubborn as he was when it came to this, he’d agreed to see what could be done. Cheap adhesives wouldn’t do the trick, and he was beginning to dread he would have to go through the hassle of welding the pipe shut.

    That’s what you get for claiming you’ll keep the thing runnin’ on fumes if you have to.

    “Still expect that hovercraft o’ yours done by then. I ain’t touchin’ the damned thing, that’s up to you and your fèi wù interface.” He finally replied, rolling his chair over to the now expanded toolbox, more due to Synthia’s tools than anything else.

    He hadn’t mentioned that, odds were, he’d be heading out to the station as well. That bastard in the white suit had seen to that sad ending. While he’d been out, Garrett had seen to it that his .38, his ‘Garand’, be checked for any gross mechanical faults. Besides the terrible rust that had accumulated in the barrel, an easy clean-up, everything had been in working order. Of course, Zona had been the one to see to it; he didn’t even think about going to the local, perfectly law-abiding gunsmith to fix the rifle that should have been turned in when he left service.

    “Oh, the hovercraft? I finished that before lunch. It just needed a new ZX-66 engine and a reinstall of its primary control software,” Synthia replied with a cheeky grin. “Honestly, the worst part was just getting around the company’s proprietary gou pi. I just said it would take three times as long to give myself wiggle room. If I overestimate the repair time, then I look like a miracle worker.”

    “Missed your calling as a con artist, I think.” Garrett rolled his eyes, attempting to pass the movement as returning his gaze to the pump before adding sarcastically. “Granted, you’re no good at anything but mechanics, but I’m sure you’d make it work somehow.” The younger breetva just raised an eyebrow and smirked.

    “I am a woman of many talents, only some of which do I reveal to you,” she answered, still grinning. Winking an eye at him, she continued. “Want me to take a look at that pump you've been hitting your head against since dawn?”

    “One cannot rush perfection.” Garrett responded with a slight smirk. “It’s a fairly common break. Well, no. It isn’t. But it’s happened more than I’m willing to admit. This thing is damned old, older than you are probably.”

    “I’m 26,” Synthia responded, kneeling down to look at the device anyway. “Really, you should just weld the break this time, if you’re going to keep insisting on using that piece of gosa instead of scrapping it and getting a new one. You’ll save us both a lot of headache in the long run.” Generally, Synthia was loathe to waste technology herself, but she had learned the hard way that there were many times that replacing something was cheaper than the time and material cost of repairing it.

    “Oh, in that case, this is a newborn babe compared to you.” Garrett mused, gaze meeting hers. “You know what? I think I will, since clearly my profession means nothing to one as oh so skilled as you.” His tone was still light-hearted as he went to the loose floorboard that held the heavier-duty tools.
    Despite his light-hearted tone, Synthia still looked away apologetically, having no desire to even accidentally offend her friend.

    “Sorry, Garrett. I didn't mean to be such a gorram know-it-all,” came the embarrassed reply as she helped him set up the welder. “I just get idiotically carried away sometimes.”

    “Oh come now.” He replied, grabbing under the work table for a pair of goggles. “Dishin’ it out and for once you can’t take it?” His assistant just rolled her eyes again. For all her “tough girl” airs, she was far too afraid of genuinely hurting someone, and with good reason. Her mouth had often run away with her, and she’d nearly lost more than one friend over it.

    With the goggles fit firmly around his head and hair pushed out of his face, Garrett knelt before the pump and activated the welder. It wasn’t a graceful machine, but it was a focused pattern and that was what mattered at the end of the day. A few years earlier, when using this specific torch, he had used gloves and a protective mask. As experience gathered, and a certain dismissal for safety, he had been less and less timid around the thing; worst he’d gotten was a few second degree burns from over exposure.

    July 29th, 2166
    07:00 Standard Time

    The train was never on time. Didn’t matter what company, what cargo, what purpose. It was never on time. Not only that, but it never ran late on a predictable schedule. Still, that didn’t mean it was best to be late, for one in every fifty always ran in as planned, leaving just enough trepidation with it to keep people studious of their time management.

    If all things were in a perfect world, it should have arrived thirty minutes previously. Already a crowd of passengers - crowd really was a generous term, as it was only fifteen individuals - had gathered around the worn and plain outcropping of concrete that had been intended for civilian craft; the town made its fortune off trade, not chauffeuring people from one point to another.

    Already Zona was beginning to feel a bit of agitation, having stubbornly kept her pack slung across her shoulders all morning and insisting for once the Maglev would be on time. As was the case, she had been wrong and now waited for Synthia to help break some of the tedium that waiting offered. There’d been a few others huddled around that proved to be mildly interesting, though they had no business talking to a mudder kid like her. From what she’d gathered, though, all of them had come in the hopes of making a fortune off the bounty.

    Good luck. That had been all she could offer, though they paid her no heed.

    The one time Synthia was on time for anything besides work, she deeply regretted it, as it was hot out and she could not help but feel rather tense over this job. At this point, she just wanted to get it over with and take the money, rather than worrying and dwelling on it like she had for the past few days. The mechanic’s assistant had a heavy set of tools and her laptop with her, and had early on taken a seat down on the rickety bench in the back of the station. She had also brought her .38 Denar pistol, a decent gun that she kept in good condition, but that she rarely carried and had never fired outside the range. On her old solar powered datapad, she was reading a technical text about common power cells and some of the various common models. It was only when she looked up realized that it was thirty minutes past and the train still had not arrived, that she noticed Zona. Gathering her moderately heavy equipment, she walked over to the teen and stood next to her, for a minute saying nothing.

    “Well, I’m here,” she muttered, unable to think of much else to say. Many questions had arisen in her head about the girl and the job, but none seemed like a good idea to start spouting off here in public.

    Zona turned on her heels to face Synthia, offering a shrewd grin in greeting. “And the train isn’t.”

    Slung across the girl’s chest sat a plain leather holster from which the handle of a .22 rimfire ‘stub gun’ shown in dull grey and black. It also went by ‘lady’s pistol’ as it was often the weapon of choice for assassins or other operatives. Across the holster’s strap lined a dozen of the pistol’s rounds, each having to be manually loaded and primed, making it a weapon prone to misfires and spectacular bursts of powder.

    Beneath the straps of the holster was a plain buttoned-up white shirt above a pair of faded, dull jeans torn at the knees. Her tan orange-brown skin was matted in dust and dirt and her face only held a margin of the white stripes it had earlier in the week, gone from layers of filth or wear and tear. From beneath a brow lined with the most intricate of the paint, plain brown eyes stared up at Synthia with a mix of exhaustion and appreciation. Naturally, catching sight of the gun only raised more questions for Synthia.

    “So, how in the ‘Verse does a kid your age have a weapon better than mine?” she muttered under her breath, leaning in so that only Zona could hear her.

    "Better? No, no. This thing is a piece of junk compared to anything else. Thing has burned my hand on more than one occasion!" Zona replied, showing a hand with pale scars across the palm. "See?"

    “That’s actually… kind of worse. Shouldn’t be using something that’s not safe for you,” Synthia pointed out, looking down at her own scarred and calloused hands. None of the scars were from her pistol, however, just from small slips in the shop.

    "Only thing I could slip under the radar. It's a fine weapon, just, it's...temperamental? Yeah, temperamental." She responded, struggling with the word.

    “How long before you turn 16 and can actually register your own?” the mechanic’s assistant asked, pulling out her own weapon for the girl to look at.

    "One and a half standard years. Not that I'll be registering one then, makes it too easy on the law to find me." A smirk followed, to which Synth merely rolled her eyes.

    “Don’t matter if the law finds you so long’s you don’t do nothin’ the Lawmen care about,” she pointed out.

    "To each their own."

    It was just then that the maglev train finally actually arrived, and the group stepped forward to board the train. Zona and Synthia took two seats in the second to last car, where no one else was present. Displaying a healthy bit of paranoia, Synthia looked around for security cameras, but found none. The devices were dirt cheap, but the old company who ran the public ground transports across the planet still did not bother.

    “So, you gonna tell me how a 14 year old came to work for a man like Nils Blackheart?” the mechanic asked, just as the train was beginning to glide away from the station.

    “Start young. It’s a pretty common trend in any respectable criminal organization.” Zona explained, staring out the window at the rolling red wastes.

    “Respectable criminal organization? Isn’t that a contradiction?” Synthia responded with a smirk, looking at the window herself. “Shouldn’t you be in school or something? Or actually enjoying being a kid?”

    “It isn’t a contradiction in the slightest. Crime’s as white collar a job as you can find without bein’ in the cities, dong ma? It’s got training, connections, and an identity. ‘Least I’m with the pro-criminal, because be damned if a jackal can do shit in the world. You get that, right? You get we don’t get a shot out there?” Her gaze never left the window as she spoke.
    Synthia looked away. Her companion was right. She did not know a single person of jackal descent in the city, at least no one who dared advertise the fact. And she'd lived and worked all over.

    “I guess you have a point. The anti-discrimination laws mean nuthin' out here, and enough employers discriminate that... yeah. I just... I never liked the idea of killin'. And I don't like seeing someone your age exposed to it instead of schoolin' and havin' a life.”

    “Oh, I don’t kill.” A pause. “I’ve shot at and hit people, but I never hit them in too vital a spot. It’s just for show.”

    “Aren’t you afraid o’ the lawmen arrestin’ you at some point? Main thing that’s kept me out of crime is that I get bored too easily to deal with having nothing to do in yono.”

    “‘Course that’s always a risk, it’s why you don’t get caught.” There was an obvious over-cocky air around the statement. “Nils is the best in business.”

    “What kind of stuff do you actually do?”

    “Up ‘til now it’s been pretty basic. A few easy cons, some pickpocketing, the usual thief stuff. He’s been keeping jobs and the real stuff out of my reach ‘til I turn sixteen; this was an easy mark he figured anyone could handle, so he left me in charge of it.”

    “What is involved besides my fixin’ the cell?” the mechanic asked curiously.

    “For you or for me?” Zona questioned, turning as if just realizing Synthia was there.

    “For you. I figure if there was anything else I had to do, you would have already told me, right?”

    “Oh, ‘course. Most people don’t take what I say at face value, figures ‘neh?” She paused, considering her next phrasing. “It’s a boring series of assurances and empty words that say Nils still has their best intentions in mind and blah blah.” The girl stuck her tongue out, rolling her eyes in one moment of childishness. “Load of hùnzhàng.”

    “Gee, I can’t imagine how anyone could not take you at face value,” Synth pointed out sarcastically. “No one likes hùnzhàng. Simple as that. If you can’t be straight with people, then they will never take you seriously. Besides, who you’re working for doesn’t help. Though, I guess I can’t criticize, now. It didn’t take that much for you to get me to agree to work for you.”

    “Oh, I’m hurt.” Zona held a hand to her forehead and feigned passing out. “Honesty. It’s what makes the real grifters from the two-cred newsies. Tell them a lie and they’ll never work in your favor. The workers, anyway.”

    “Sounds about right. I nearly slammed the door in your face the other day when I thought that you were bein’ untruthful. Are you ever afraid you’ll get yourself shot?”

    “Afraid of the act? Probably.” Zona lifted her shirt to reveal a reflective surface beneath, slightly flexible and segmented. “It isn’t great, but it’s done the trick to whatever people hold in their pockets. I hate rejection.”

    “You still never answered my question about what else this job entailed for you,” Synth pointed out, staring out the window again.

    “It involved finding a decent breetva and bringing that breetva to fix some power cell. What it’s used for I don’t know, but it’s something that’s just some favor or another. Nothin’ too big, but still important enough for Nils to see to it on his own time.”

    “Fair ‘nough. I guess I was still afraid there was more to it than that. I don’t want to get wrapped into something I can’t handle. Spent my whole life trying to stay out of this crowd. Watched a couple of friends get themselves in deep trouble over this stuff. Though, most of what I saw in Desert Bottom was drug dealing and using.”

    “Two-cred newsies.”

    “Maybe so, but they made bank. ‘Least compared to what I was makin’ at the jobs I did. Used to really damage my calm too.”

    “Everything has a way of doin’ that sometimes, ‘least they were paying for their means to an end, ‘neh?”

    “Yono’s a pretty shitty end, though. They wouldn’t let me fix spaceships in lockup.”

    “It’s why you don’t act the idiot and get caught, ain’t it?” Zona questioned with a tone that implied she believed this to be understood.

    “Not always easy for most people. I was always mostly afraid I wouldn’t be good enough. ‘Sides, I don’t like hurtin’ people for my own personal gain. And all that shootin’ would get cut into my time of doin’ what I actually like doin’.”

    “I believe that natural selection applies to criminals just like it does anything else. The fuckers who get caught or killed, well, they clearly weren’t good ‘nuff for the job they signed up for. The real criminals don’t need to kill nobody, see? Nils isn’t the greatest ‘cuz you still heard of him, haven’t ‘ya? There was a’ old flick, some nineteen-nineties contrived shit. ‘The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was making people believe he didn’t exist.’”

    “Makes sense. After all, the best criminals would be invisible. Some people are just too gorram prideful about their work. But hell, I can understand that too, on some level.”

    “I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it for the satisfaction of being the cleverest o’ the lot.” Zona state dryly.

    “Why does it matter if you’re the cleverest o’ the lot? Especially since, you don’t really seem to be.”

    “Yet look who is on the train, out of reach of their weapon, and following my orders. Who knows? This train might not be heading to Leford, you bother to check where it was heading to? Who’s to say I don’t have someone waiting to abduct you at the drop off point? ‘Plenty go missing ‘round Leford, really, it’s the brilliant stage to make someone go poof.”

    “Yeah, and look who told me just about everything about herself. You showed me your unregistered weapon as soon as we met, and you’ve admitted to several minor crimes since we’ve been on this train. All I had to do was ask you. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if you were using your real name. If I were an undercover lawman, you’d be humped. Also, of course I checked where it was going. I’m not a complete backbirth.”

    Zona smirked with false bravado. “Glad to see you aren’t a backbirth either, you’ll live longer. No, not from me or Nils, but from the hundreds of not-so respectable persons of business.”

    “The only thing I do with those not-so-respectable persons of business is fix their equipment. They got no reason to draw my ace.”

    "Everybody has every reason to draw anyone's ace. Just a matter of who, when, and where." Zona remarked snidely.

    “I respectfully disagree. I got no reason to kill anyone,” the relatively innocent mechanic replied, rolling her eyes.

    “Didn’t say you did, but other people do. More than they’re willin’ to admit out here.”

    Synthia could think of nothing to say to that one, so she fell into silence, and began reading her tablet again.

    “I’m going to guess that you don’t have much information on the actual make and model of this power cell, or its parts, hmm?” she asked after a few minutes, hoping to do some more effective research.

    Zona paused for a moment, considering the question before responding. “DE series, if that helps at all. I don’t know the specific model.”

    “That’s mildly helpful, thanks,” Synth muttered as she went back to reading, focusing on the information about the DE series. The rest of the ride passed in silence, and they arrived in Leford, which was around 2600 kilometers away, in four and a half hours. The mechanic’s assistant stepped off at the station and turned back to her employer.

    “So, where to?” she asked, smiling slightly.

    “There’s a bar we’ll drop our things at. The deal isn’t ‘til tomorrow, but it’s best to get a lay of the land out first; I haven’t been here much, you?”

    “Once or twice, when I was roaming the gorram planet looking for work. For a while there, I were putting my car on the maglev and checking out any city with a decent spaceport nearby. Actually, I was in Leford when I noticed Garrett’s advert on the Cortex.”

    Synthia followed the teenage mobster to to bar, an unsurprisingly shady dive named “Gypsy’s Rest,” and Zona paid for a room for the two of them. At that point, there was nothing to do but relax, tour the area, and most annoyingly, wait.
  12. July 29th 2166; 11:30

    Killian Geth had managed to make a deal with some of the trainworkers and get his car in a storage space to Leford for a job advert concerning some big bounties. Never one to skip a good deal when he saw it, Killian made arrangements to get to Leford which had not been easy nor cheap if he were to get his car and all his gear in with too. It had involved some bribe which was a hefty drain on his own wallet but he was going to get this deal as it promised enough reward that the bribes didn't seem that big of a drain on him.

    The previous days before going onto the train however had been pretty uneventful. He had talked with Garrett only for a bit, enough to know that his car was ready and to pay for the work Garrett had put into it. Geth knew how difficult such old tech was and he fully appreciated the work Garrett put into his ride and was not one to even haggle the price due to his respect for the mechanic. After getting the car back and leaving a tip behind he drove off to a rented garage near where he stayed and began to search for bounties on local computer consoles. That had been more or less how he stumbled on the job about 3 days later and began preparations to purchase necessary supplies for it, mostly ammunition. During the time where he had been waiting for an answer concerning getting his car and his weaponry onto the maglev he had honestly spend most of his time cleaning his guns to the point that any more cleaning would be more than redundant.

    During the train ride Geth was utterly bored out of his mind and mostly stayed asleep through most of it. He had been wearing his usual outfit but had added an addition to it, a scarf and hat which he kept covering his face as he napped except for those occasions where he had to go. Other than that, that is what he spent his time on the fast train, sleeping.

    He was there however, in Leford with his ride in tow. If it hadn't been so far away he honestly would've just driven but some nice things are not possible and Geth would have to suck it up. He watched as his ride was being taken off the maglev and once that was done he immediately got in to drive to the bar known as "Gypsy's Rest" for a night's stay until the moment of the deal. As usual, he made a point to find a place where he could store his blue camaro safely and rented another garage for 2 days to keep safe. During the transaction he honestly wondered how much cash he actually dropped on renting garages. But he dismissed the thought as he got some of his gear, placing his combat shotgun in a bag similar to that for golf clubs and usual pistols on his person. Once that was done he locked up his car and headed to the bar and the first thing he wanted after hours of napping was a drink so he got himself a seat at the bar counter and ordered himself a bottle of beer and a shot of whiskey. He thought about renting a room but he decided that sleeping in the car would be cheaper. He wasn't made of money after all.
  13. Folly

    Garrett Warrens
    February 12th, 2133
    05:00 Standard Time

    Thud. Shove. Thud. Shove. Thud. Shove. The movement had long since become clockwork. Judging that the sun was now bearing down and light had filled the valley, he supposed he had been working all through the night. Dust storms would be coming in a few hours, as they had been all week now. This winter had been harsher than others, though clouds had formed overhead if only for a brief moment. Some trick of the eyes, more like, Garrett thought as he stretched his back and looked over the corpse-strewn earth. Fifty two dead in total. Forty nine graves. Three more to go. Thud. Shove. Thud. Shove. Thud....

    July 30th, 2166
    09:30 Standard Time

    Now, three decades later, Garrett sat knelt over a hole all too familiar to him as he tore at the ground with his shovel and hands. That day, after one of the largest skirmishes Folly had seen, he'd decided to bury all remnants of Garrett the soldier. Unable to return without some feeling of shame, that had been his last deed to the town before leaving. After twenty minutes of work, hacking through clay and dirt, the old trunk had begun to appear as a red-stained mass of plascrete and iron fittings. It took him another ten to drag the box out and onto the wind-strewn land. Panting, laying on his back, Garrett merely stared at the faded cavalry symbol embossed on the trunk's latch.

    Things always resurface in the end. You can't bury your troubles, old man.

    Standing with a grunt of exertion, Garrett hobbled over and undid the latches to the box, shoving the lid open with an equally-deserved grumble. Out of instinct, he glanced left and right, seeing Folly at the very edge of his vision: anyone who wanted to follow him certainly would have seen him by now, no need to trouble himself with useless what-ifs. It took a long moment for him to gather the courage to peel back the field roll that was cast over all of his other equipment. With an ill-humored smirk, Garrett threw the roll back, ruefully thinking on the caution of his youth; no one would have found it save him.

    There it was. A meager store of wages, faded blue uniform lined with bullet-proof fibers, and countless other relics he'd deemed worth saving. Tossing the uniform into the lid, Garrett fumbled around the field orders, maps, and other tidbits before his hands brushed a familiar surface. Moving forward, with a bit of renewed vigor, he latched onto the hilt - for hilt it was - and drew the saber from where it lay at the bottom of the trunk. With a shudder of mixed emotions, Garrett drew the blade from its sheath. Perfect as the day he had left it so many years ago, impractical as it was. An officer's toy, and one that did not even belong to him, something ever the more evident by the name he had scratched out of its base.

    Then the realization had come that he hadn't exactly thought why it was necessary for him to go through all the effort of digging the damned trunk back up. It held nothing for him; his rifle, pistol, and anything worth bringing along were already in the shop. With a grimace, Garrett shoved the sword back into its sheath and hurled it into the trunk. With renewed vigor, he tossed the rest of the scattered memories and began to cast the trunk back into its grave with a hell-bent determination. Once the last scatterings of dirt had been shoved over the gaping wound in the earth and the trunk back to its hollow, Garrett turned his back on the spot that, so many years ago, he had uprooted inch by inch.

    You needed to see it before you left for good. He finally told himself as he gathered all his belongings worth keeping in the shop. It had been a stroke of luck that Synthia had left this particular week, for it removed the need for a goodbye. Feeling he couldn't leave without some explanation, Garrett had held back a choked sob as he left the keys tucked in her working uniform and turned to the door, undoing the latches slowly, savoring the moment for the last time. Flip the switch, not too fast, force the bolt to the side, and shove with just the right force to avoid the door collapsing on itself. Once outside the Quarry, he offered it one last loving glance before steeling himself and trudging to the MagLev station.

    Things always resurface. Face it, you couldn't stay in Folly forever. You knew that.

    The thought was no less comforting as he waited at the empty platform - Sunday was a poor traveling day - and passed the time fidgeting with the strap that held his rifle slung across his back. Faintly in the distance he could see the MagLev casting up a swirl of dust as it sped towards the station, for once on time. Even fate seemed to want him out of the town as fast as possible, he thought as the train screeched to a delayed halt at the station. Garrett offered his Ident card as payment, the conductor taking it snidely and processing the transaction before offering it back with a look of disdain.

    "Enjoy your trip."

    #13 J_"Kraken", Sep 26, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
  14. The Last Momento

    Nils Blackheart
    July 24th, 2166
    23:00 Standard Time

    Nils had a personal distaste for the Last Momento. It was a fine establishment for where it was located, though nothing compared to the clubs offered even a four hour ride from the hamlet Folly was. He supposed the master suites upstairs did compete with their city-held counterparts, though only barely. Preemptively, Nils was torn from his thoughts when a knock came on the door. When no answer came, the door swung inward and the figure behind it stepped in to Nils’ pistol aimed square at his chest.

    Unalarmed, the man spoke directly to him in a dry monotone. “Vladimir Hayette has early.”

    That made him think twice of putting away his pistol just quite yet. “What shall I tell him?”

    Nils paused for a moment, turning to the man before him. He did not enjoy being in the company of a Gentled, but he couldn’t help but admire the skill at which the cities had managed to make even the brightest nothing but pawns for the might. No doubt this man had been somebody before he’d gone down the wrong path, before he’d become a meat puppet.

    “Bring him up here and get the wine ready. No doubt he’s come a long way and would enjoy a respite.” Nils spoke dryly, taking a swig of his own flask as the Gentled left the room.

    While he waited, Nils let out a sharp intake of breath. Worse than the Gentled, he hated Vladimir Heyette. But, like a Gentled, he was good at what he did. Whenever Nils needed a message delivered, he chose Vladimir Heyette. Whenever Nils needed a mess made of anybody, he chose Vladimir Heyette. This mad dog was nothing more than a weapon for hire that did the work Nils considered himself too clean to do.

    No more than a minute later, Vladimir Hayette strode into the room with a bound and gagged man held tightly in his grip. Nils looked over the killer’s shoulder but saw no sign of the Gentled. Making a note to see to it that he would be removed from his service, he cleared his throat and stood, ignoring the writhing figure attempting to flee Vladimir’s iron grip. His skin was deathly pale, more white than any other shade. Long hair stood straight down to his shoulders, one side red, the other stark white. Yellow eyes, cosmetically altered, peered with a sheltered merriment and borderline insanity into Nils’ own dull brown ones. Of a more hideous man, there surely was none.

    “You never disappoint, do you?” Nils asked, offering the dog a hand.

    Vladimir took it and shook with a wide grin, revealing teeth he had filed to points. “The best for the best, my friend.”

    Nils needed to suppress the need to shiver. Vladimir Hayette had the oily charm and grace to his voice that the Devil could only dream of mustering. It was, no doubt, the only reason people believed him to have an ounce of charm. That was before they knew him. Give a man a mask and he will show all the more of himself…. Nils thought, allowing his glance to shift to the bound woman. “Oh, and who is this?”

    “The target, who else?” Vladimir chuckled cooly, his eyes filled with something more than mirth. “You could imagine my surprise. You hear tale of the Ronin, and you imagine that it’d be a man seven feet tall and half as wide. But no, it’s this scrawny gutter rat. A wonderful chase. But, in the end, futile.”

    Nils had to hold back his blatant unease at the relish in Vladimir’s voice. “I wanted the Ronin dead. You felt obliged to drag him-”

    “Her.” Vladimir corrected, running a gentle hand over the woman’s neck. “Let us be correct, shall we?”

    “Her through a populated space into a well-known inn? Let’s just tell everyone who and what I am, shall we? I wanted a message. Is this your idea at a good message to her gang? Killing her out of sight and in an unrelated area?” Fucking idiot.


    “I don’t care what you thought was best. I am the employer, not you. This is worse than that inn you blew to Shanghai! Now you’ve left me with this gomi to clean up. Giri, Vladimir, giri.”

    “I highly doubt a giri is in order.” He retorted, looking as taken aback as he could. A drig and an overdramatic.

    “Oh, I believe it is. It is that, or,” Nils cocked the hammer of his pistol back with a thumb to the sound of a low-pitched thrum of electricity, “I crease you here and now.”

    Vladimir consented to the debt of honor, giri, and tore the hood from the woman’s head in a fluid motion. She was a chink, pureblood by the looks of it. Well muscled shoulders and a broad chest tensed as eyes struggling with the sudden light glared at Vladimir and Nils in turn. She gave one last attempt to break free before allowing herself to go limp. Without hesitation, Vladimir produced a short, stout stiletto from his sleeve and made for the woman’s neck.

    Nils made no movement to stop the madman as the blade slashed across the woman’s neck, trailing ruby drops of blood onto the floor. While he made the cut, Vladimir tore the gag from her mouth as well, all the better to hear her choke on her own blood as she fell to the ground with a soft thud. With a bow, Vladimir knelt to heft the corpse over his shoulders, cringing as blood sloshed over his nose. Producing a handkerchief to wipe the three red stains, he glanced at Nils.

    “I believe this concludes our business, for the present.”

    “Yes.” Nils replied, sinking into his chair with a grunt.

    #14 J_"Kraken", Sep 29, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  15. Camila Esperon, Killian Geth, Lyra R. Hamilton, and Newton Bancroft. Four otherwise nameless individuals. One notably meaningless job. Time had been loathe to slow pace, and within but a short night of relaxation and preparation the day to set out had creeped in and left the door wide open. By technicality, they were not a cohesive team. Four otherwise nameless individuals. One notably meaningless job. Four separate payrolls.

    Lyra R. Hamilton had arrived with the train the night before, with a single duffel bag and a travel briefcase that held her weapons in a protected sheath. None of them were registered, none of them really needed to be. Some of her jobs were rather unsavory, and she had no desire to make herself easy to find. There as a .22 rimfire stub gun, same model as Zona owned, for more clandestine missions, as well as a more practical .38 Russet pistol. Lastly, she owned a WE-74 MPW model assault rifle for “emergencies” that she rarely had to actually use. It was her pride and joy, stolen from a famous gunrunner, fair and square. To this day, he still did not even know that she was the culprit. But that was a story for another time. He'd named it "Vera" and she liked the name so much that she kept it.

    The bounty hunter had already rented her room, and had stored her belongings there. So it was time to meet up with her usual partner for jobs this big. There were few people on these rocks that she actually trusted... and Killian Geth was not one of them. But he was one of the closest. He had insisted on sleeping in that damn car of his, a practice which she was in no mood to follow, the damn cheapskate.

    "And so, we meet again," she announced dryly, smirking at her own cliched phrase and sitting down beside him at the bar. "Barkeep, an orange juice please. Unfortunately, it's far too early for a real drink."

    "Lyra" Killian said and held up his shot to her in a gesture of salut to his associate and downed it in a single swallow. "I see you also got into this bounty job. Quite the coincidence. How have you been of late?" Killian asked her as he turned to face her, taking a small sip of the beer.
    He wouldn't consider Lyra a hardset friend or someone he would actively take a bullet for but he respected her as a fellow bounty hunter and wouldn't pull the rug from under her. He had twisted his body slightly as he had turned to face her, the straps of his shoulder holster revealed to her.

    "Naturally. After all, they only invite the best for these kinds of jobs. I'm kind of surprised they put you on the case," she replied with a wink and a smirk. "I've been alright. Still flyin', as they say. And you?"

    "Still cruisin" He started, unable to keep a smile on his face from the jab. "I am rather surprised you are here as well. I didn't think we would require a peashooter for the job. But I guess you are perfect for it" He said with a snicker, jabbing at her .22 though he knew that a bullet was a bullet. A BB could even shoot someone's eye out. He took a swig of beer and then turned on his seat and leaned his elbows against the counter. "Still though. This is no small job. Quite a bit of deneros in it" He said as he casually looked around the bar. "Any idea how powerful this employer is?"

    "Hahaha, you're cute. You really think this is the only piece I got with me? I just don't generally bring my arsenal into a bar without good reason. It's a little crass, no?" Lyra responded with a slightly disturbing twinkle in her eye. Finishing her orange juice, she whispered back, "I hear it was the Lawmen themselves. Officials want these guys taken down, and figure they can't do it themselves I s'pose. Amateurs, I say. But if they pay, then who cares? I'm just worried the Feds might try to get the drop on the Hunter who turns these bastards in, just to avoid paying out."

    "Well, who ever they are, as long as the pay is good and we won't step on too big of toes that it will bite us in the ass, I am quite alright with the job. Should get me enough cash to overhaul my car with tougher armor and more powerful engine." Geth said as he placed the bottle of beer on the counter and strethced, the long bag with his concealed shotgun right at his side. "Here's to a good payday and a hitchless job" he said, taking the beer again and raised it to her in a bit of a cheer.

    "You and that gorram car, still can't believe you're driving that thing. Coulda bought a spaceship with the amount of money you've sunk into it. But whatever. Here's to not dyin'," she responded, raising her own empty glass. "We leave in an hour, alright?"

    "I believe that we are" He said and finished his drink. "Guess we'll wait until then"
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Daken Narmer
    Garret Warrens
    July 30th, 2166
    09:45 Standard Time

    Daken maneuvered his way through the the train cars, their rickety structure bumping and trashing as they rolled along the tracks. It was miracle enough there was a train connecting to the ramshackle of a community which was Brown's Folly, so it made no surprise when the piece of junk haphazardly rolled into the station, but all things considered Daken had rather enjoyed his time spent with the makeshift community. The sludge was plentiful and the women easy, a paradise compared to other places he had worked, which lacked both. Maybe he enjoyed himself too much. His entire reason to be at Brown's Folly was to collect a head, the head of a Killian Geth, yet somehow the man had slipped away right under his nose. How in the hell in a place as small as Brown's Folly did he slip away.

    I'm fuckin' up, Daken scolded himself.

    However, all was not lost. He had heard rumors a man resembling Killian had employed the local mechanic, Garrett Warren's for one reason or another. Other then that, there were other curiosities which drew Daken to seek the mechanic out. Then there he was, sitting by his lonesome.

    "Seat taken?"

    Garrett turned his head to the oncoming figured and shook his head, hair flapping similar to a dog's in grace and poise. In response to the man's request, he took his travelling case that had sat across him and stood to stow it away in the overhead compartment. Sitting back down with an outward take of air, his gaze wandered back to Daken.

    "Figure you're here for a reason. Most don't get 'board an empty train and walk past rows and rows to sit by an old man. If you're here to kill me, I'd wait 'til we get to Leford. Here's a bit too public."

    "No," Daken began as he took the seat offered, adjusting his duster coat, "I ain't here to kill you, but I reckon the getup ain't making that none too believable. Truth be told I'm 'lookin for my associate 'n I heard you done business with him prior. It's urgency 'bein the reason I followed you on this train."

    Daken shifted to make himself more comfortable and opened his duster to reveal his waterskin. Mindful to keep his hand visible he withdrew it and took a swig, finishing with a grunt to clear his throat, "You don't happen to know where Killian Geth's gotten himself off to, do you?"

    "Askin' 'bout people is equally suspicious." Garrett retorted dryly, noting the nearest object he could use to incapacitate the man should it come to that. None in reach. "So you aren't here to draw my ace, but you're here for Geth."

    "You've been plenty suspicious yourself," Daken replied plainly, "but yes I'm here for Geth."

    "If you expect it to come so easily, you're quite naive. Hoppin' 'boad a train and targeting a random man means you figure he's got some connection to your target, neh? Why go through all this arbitrary bullshit in 'tween?"

    "Alright," Daken said, raising a hand in defeat before resting them both on his thighs," I'll speak it to you plainly."

    "Geth came to you for a job or another, you do it for him and he goes on his merry way. The thing is, Killian got money on his head. Shortly after he's gone you close shop and hop on a train."

    Daken leaned forward, folding his forearms across the table and gave Garrett a cross look, "But that ain't what's most peculiar. When I heard you done business with my man I followed you. That's why I saw you diggin' outside Brown's. Pulled somin' up and buried it near as fast lookin' paranoid as hell while you're doing so. So after you take your leave I go out and see what you're after."

    Daken leaned back, taping one of his hands on the table, "Some mighty interesting memorabilia you've got buried back home. When I see something like that I come to one conclusion. You're saying your goodbyes, you're thinking of killing a man, and I'm thinking you found out about the bounty and you're giving a crack at it."

    Garrett attempted his best face of indifference, furrowing his eyebrows in a mix of concentration and agitation as he did so. Letting out a sharp intake of breath, he turned to look out the window and mouthed something under his breath. Without giving the man a moment to question what had been said, he spoke out, slow and deliberate.

    "Doubtless you won't believe me when I say I left for reasons beyond killing a man worth more to me alive than dead. For pretendin' to be all slick, you sure do look over the obvious. You threaten an old vet' over a bounty when you overlook the fortune of a fugitive. Now, if you still don't believe me, wait 'til we reach Leford. I have every intention of keeping Geth and myself very much kickin'. Might prove profitable if you can get your ass out of the mud and look."

    Daken ignored the comment about a larger bounty, brushing it off as a quick lie. Still, the ex-soldier was a hard read and a puzzled look crossed Daken's face. He leaned forward and rested his chin in one of his hands, tapping a finger against his mask methodically. He was silent and simply sat studying the man across from him. Usually he was good at picking up on lies, it came with the job, and while the mechanic had the cool of telling the truth he wasn't any ordinary small town scrapper. He had been military at one point and so the simple threat of the gun wouldn't scare him into the truth.

    Daken couldn't come to any conclusion or another, so he sat back and said, "You could be lyin' or you couldn't be."

    "Here's what I figure. A man who gets haunted don't return to the blood unless he's desperate or pushed. If the price on Geth ain't nothin' to you, then you ain't desperate. So what's pushin' you?"

    "There's a mad dog on the loose in Folly. Sick bastard, red and white hair, called himself a warrior of progress. I cleared shop to get out of his way 'fore he comes and makes quick work of the few things I value. Got an assistant 'an a little girl I'd very much like to see live to my age. Talkin' about it more here isn't doin' anyone any favors, since I don't trust you and you don't believe me."

    "I wouldn't go that far cowboy. We may not trust another but I ain't unreasonable."

    Truth be told Daken was starting to believe there was truth to what the soldier was saying. If he truly was after the money on Geth, he wouldn't admit to knowing the man, he would've kept that card close to his chest. His story sounded plausible, cleaning a town wasn't too uncommon and more then once Daken had been on the shooting side.

    "This mad dog got anything to do with that bounty you talked earlier?"

    "No. He's just out for blood. Way I see it, you could get paid to kill him, probably twice as much as you would anybody else out there. That bein' said, I wouldn't go for him. Man knows what he's 'bout." At last Garrett turned back to Daken. "You done?"

    "Aye we're done," Daken said, rising to his feet. As cheerful as the mechanic was Daken doubted it would be a comfortable ride having to stand the company of each other the entire time. When the train came to a halt he may be able to tail the man to Geth but honestly he was losing interest. The soldier would be watching for him, and one maybe two people may be a kill able amount but there wasn't any telling if Geth had totted more people, and frankly Daken didn't want to find out. He had lost his chance at Geth back at Brown's Folly, he already knew it but now it was time to accept it.

    "You're either headhuntin' or runnin' cowboy. If it's the first you better hope you're the side with more guns," Daken gave a firm shaking on his duster coat and left the soldier be. He moved himself in another train car, towards the rear and claimed a seat, sprawling out across its length and making himself comfortable. He pulled out a collection of crumbled up paper from his jacket. Names, numbers and pictures printed all across them, it was a collection of wanted posters he had gathered over the days. Most of them were small time, barely passing five digits. Others he had forgotten he even had and were old as all hell, even more still were contracts he had actually done, there was no order to his madness.

    One poster in particular always caught his fancy, it was one of the older ones and probably useless to him now. The numbers on it weren't high, dismal in fact. The picture however was of a real beauty, curly red hair, fair skin, tattooed to all hell and with the look of about to kill a man, but it was a nice picture to look at. He tapped his fingers across the wrinkled, yellowed paper as his eyes skimmed over it. He recognized some names in the writing, towns and cities. The description under her picture was long as all hell and Daken spent some time looking over it; he wished he could read.

    He would have to find new work in Leford.
  17. Leford

    July 30th, 2166
    Gypsy’s Rest

    Synthia had awoken by a prod to the cheek from Zona, who, when she had managed to open her eyes more than a fraction, sat at the foot of the bed, lacing a pair of hiking boots. Her black hair sat tied back in a long flat tucked into a baggy overshirt and the usual paint markings that adorned her face had been either covered or washed off. The only detail that made her more than any other mudder kid out there was the pistol hanging from her belt, hammer cocked back.

    “My datapad alarm was going to wake me up you know,” Synthia complained, crawling out of bed with clearly evident annoyance at the rather unorthodox method of awakening. Still stretching and removing the knots from her body, she jumped into the shower for five minutes and changed her clothes in the restroom in another five, emerging as clean and neat as she ever was, with her dark brown hair pulled back into a tight knot. Without another word, she pulled her own Denar pistol out of her bag and holstered it, rather unsure of why either of them would need weapons for a simple repair job, but unwilling to leave it behind. Gathering up the bag with her laptop and tools, she nodded to Zona.

    “It’s no rush.” Zona commented with a cheeky smile. “I woke you up an hour early anyways.”

    Without giving Synthia reprieve long enough for a snide remark, Zona slid out the doorway and rushed downstairs for the prepaid meal. It hardly ranked the term, though it was considerably better than most off-the-shelf forms of kibble and other nutrient supplements. Fifteen minutes later, fed and ready, the two left for the meeting location - a worn and disheveled shop in the center of town. At one point it had been a grocer, if the faded sign in Japanese characters was anything to go on.

    Pausing to stare at Synthia, the rusted and hole-filled door swung half of the way open, Zona nodded. “Ready?”

    “I s’pose, but if we get shot at for this ‘simple repair job’, I’m hiding behind you, kid,” the breetva joked sarcastically, following her child employer through the door.

    “Don’t worry. If they pull guns, we’ll both die at the same time.” Zona said in a manner that made it difficult to pinpoint her exact intent.

    At the end of the first floor, through rows of long-since empty and dusted shelves, shone a staircase in the flickering light of a failing bulb. Taking a cautious first step onto the stained and molded plascrete stairs, Zona began her ascent to the second floor. The landing of the second story was just as blasted as the previous had been, with the only difference being several, fully functional bulbs lighting the fairly open chamber in soft yellow light.

    Towards the back of the bare room stood six figures, four holding weapons in plain sight, the last two sitting on foldable chairs behind their peons. The one to the left stood and approached the pair upon their arrival, beckoning with an arm for them to follow. Gentled. Zona grimaced, finding the other sitting man in her ill favor.

    What in the System did I get myself into here?! You didn’t tell me I would have to meet other people on this job. First of all, I might have actually dressed better. This looks a little more serious than just fixing a gorram power cell, kid., Synthia thought angrily, managing for once to stay silent and hold her head high. Seeing as she was completely out of her element, however, she let Zona do the talking.

    “You said there wouldn’t be any guns.” Zona commented at the bodyguards once they had reached the man sitting in the chair.

    He ignored the girl, his attention focused in on Synthia. Beckoning for the gentled, the still-sitting man spoke into the thing’s ear and it duly spoke out.

    “Downstairs. Cashier’s desk, generator is there.” It’s voice was flat, lifeless, monotone. “The girl stays here until you are finished.”


    “Do I even want to know what happens if I don’t know how to fix it?” the mechanic asked with a boldness she did not feel.

    Again he whispered into the gentled’s ear, and it promptly spoke. “Then we will find someone who can.”

    “Why all the muscle and shiny heaters over a gorram power cell?”

    “We did not trust Nils’ good fortune on this.” The gentled spoke after another pause. “We could not accept him at face value, as I’m sure you understand.”

    Rolling her eyes slightly, Synthia turned away and walked as directed down the hall and down the other set of stairs, finding the cell exactly where they set it was. As annoying, arrogant, and childish as the, well - child- was, the mechanic hated the idea of leaving her alone in there with the crime boss and his lackeys. Something was clearly not right about this job, but you did not grow up on the Fourth Rock without learning to obey the people with the guns.

    The generator itself was pretty advanced, which was pretty logical, given what Synthia was supposedly being paid to work on it. It was a half-million credit piece of technology, retail value at least, sitting in this random abandoned shop. The device ran on a complex set of solar power cells. Synthia recognized the model as one that converted the received energy with roughly 75% efficiency.

    The device was beat up, almost as if it had been through a warzone. It was really more than a one woman job, but she knew better than to complain. She started by cleaning and testing the photovoltaic cells, one of which needed to be replaced. Then she tried turning the machine on to diagnose the problem. The small LCD screen on it displayed an “overheating” message within minutes, and she could already smell something burning. Quickly shutting the thing off, she began checking the fans and liquid cooling system.

    Without getting into the technical details, every time Synthia managed to fix something on the stubborn machine, she seemed to find another bug in it. Furthermore, her concentration was not helped by the fact that she was worrying about Zona and the mercenaries upstairs. Overall, it took her five hours to get the power cell running and working at over 70% efficiency again. With sweat and dust streaks all over her face and arms, she jogged up the stairs, where everyone seemed to still be waiting, as if nothing had changed.

    “Finished. You can test it for yourself. But you still haven’t mentioned why the thing is so damn important.”

    At last, the leader of the group spoke, voice well polished if not exactly the most energetic. “Like the old gangs of New York and Chicago, I too look out for more than my own interests.”

    With that, he stood, with him the mercenaries snapping to attention and forming a cluster around their employer. The gentled unbound Zona’s wrists, presumably done while Synthia was away, and escorted her back to the mechanic before bowing rigidly and following after its master. Once the footsteps ceased, Zona shivered.

    It touched me!” She groaned, rubbing at her wrists to restart circulation.

    “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me they would be here?!” Synthia exclaimed, with an apparent lack of sympathy for the younger woman’s discomfort. “You could have gotten both of us killed!”

    “I didn’t know, ok?” Zona replied, cowering from Synthia. “Nils didn’t tell me anything about this other than to find a mechanic at get them over here! No mention that it would be fucking Herring. Bastard’s nearly as good as Nils is…”

    “Probably better,” Synthia muttered. “Except why would a big important crime boss care about a power cell? Even an expensive one. Equipment in there is worth, at best, half a million credits. Thing’s so beat up though, that I would knock it down to quarter-mill at best, even after my fixing it up.”

    “Wǒ bù zhīdào.” Zona repeated her earlier statement, allowing the Mandarin to slip in near to the point of incoherence. “Just a chòu biǎozi job no bái mù specifics...bàoqiàn, Synthia, bàoqiàn….”

    “Um.. yeah, you’re gonna need to translate for the dummy breetva over here,” the older woman replied, sounding more than a little impatient.

    “Sorry.” Zona replied finally. “I’m sorry.”

    Synthia was, for a moment, taken aback by the young girl’s apology, and she did not quite know what to say to it.

    “Alright. Well, you didn’t get hurt. I’m alright. No harm done, really. Though, I don’t like the idea of those guys knowing who I am, but they didn’t ask for our names, so I guess it should be okay. Let’s just drop it and go out and do something enjoyable. Explore the town or something. Maybe find a place to eat a light lunch. Did we at least get paid?”

    Placing a hand in her rear pocket, Zona pulled out a credit stick and grimaced. “Electronic...Damn it. Well, like I said….”

    Zona outstretched her arm, palm open to allow Synthia to grab the cred-stick. It was a small, rectangular device not too far-gone from 21st century flash drives. Through means best left unquestioned, it essentially counted as a form of illegal currency that then hid the predetermined amount of credits transferred as a legal transfer payment. A pain in the ass to work through, but worth it for the conscious criminal.

    Synthia took the stick gingerly, looking back at the young woman.

    “Just two questions. How much is actually on this? And did you take off your cut? I might have done the work, but you were tied up for five hours. Sorry I took so long, by the way. There was a lot wrong with that thing, and the nerves didn’t help.”

    “I don’t have any need for credits. I made sure Nils got his cut, but you’ve got most of it.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Quite sure, but you’re buyin’ lunch.” Zona replied with a smirk.

    “Believe it or not, I was already going to. I figure after being tied up that long you deserve a free meal just this once.”

    Credit to @T'Shara
  18. Leford

    July 29th, 2166
    ‘Old Faithful’

    They called her ‘Rat’. She was the smallest of the lot, barely a meter and a half tall. As far as they were concerned, her tongue had been cut to the point where the only audible noise she was capable of producing was a high-pitched, sharp squeak. Next to her sat her translator who they only called ‘Bull’. They hated him worse than Rat. Bull would often ‘translate’ by smashing anything that threatened Rat, for he could muster language at the level of a five year old child. Small, pale, and reedy. Fat, tan, and barbaric. A fitting pair, for one could not speak, and the other spoke too much, even if it was only loose fragments of single-syllable words.

    No one knew why Rat had been in that jailhouse. Bull had boasted proudly of taking a man and kicking him in the groin near upon his death, though of Rat’s sentence there was no trace. The guards had been terrified to see her out of her cell on that fateful day nearly two weeks past, and she was in no state to explain. There had been muttered speculation on what had driven her to snap and wander into tyur'ma, but few dared to bring it up to her.

    Across from the dynamic duo sat Woodrow Lloyd, who had been filed for several criminal offenses of the white-collar type. Ponzi schemes, embezzlement, and discrimination were but a few of his claimed work-time atrocities. Even having spent an entire six months in a dark room with no means of maintaining himself, he held a rugged charm that could only be mustered by the slimiest of con artists. He’d been the brains in the operation, the one who had planned the miraculous waste of time escaping had been.

    The others, the faceless criminals who had, as Lloyd had put it, ‘tagged along for the ride’ were out scouting for a way out of the area they had been mired in for too long. Some had pointed out that it was in their best interests to hop a MagLev before it took off from Leford, but Lloyd would have none of such nonsensical notions.

    “Why, when a platform moves near the speed of an aeroplane and is more heavily guarded than your grandmother’s purse, it would be the easiest of plans to simply board one given our standing.” He had said, and no debate had followed. They trusted the man, monster as he was, for he had been the one to break them out in the first place. A few had their doubts as to how useful that had been, for despite the support from the jackals, they had only been able to weasel their way to a firearm each and one meal a day. Water had to be fetched from Leford’s recycle unit in the dead of night, a task everyone despised wholeheartedly.

    Still, only two had been killed, and that had been in the initial escape, and while conditions were certainly not ideal, they were still breathing and they were still flying. The fire was a nice touch, too.

    July 30th, 2166
    Leford Outskirts

    Newton Bancroft was many things. Newton Bancroft was a gunslinger. Newton Bancroft was a mechanic. He was a medic, a university graduate, and once a lawman. What Newton Bancroft was not was a personal chauffeur for people who only sought to take away from his paycheck. The woman, Esperon, had been one grudging allowance, but then she had brought others. A man with a car, who seemed perfectly capable of transporting himself and his companion, an old-timer, and another woman whom he did not quite trust.

    No doubt his ZE-series could transport all of them, though he was unwilling to push the limit. The interior had room for two only, and so the others would need to grab on to whatever they could. It had been called the tank of this day and age, but he had decided that was only in appearance. A round, domed ‘turret’ allowed the passenger to fire a small, worn PTRD rifle. Not the newer model Russia had released in the days before the fall, no, the 1943 issue that had been duplicated on Mars due to its cheap design. Easy to load and with enough stopping power to down even a man in scales, it was a reliable enough platform.

    Below the turret, the craft stretched outward in both directions, the rear designed to hold the grav-repulsion system and generator, the front the pilot. In what Newton had called a backwards design, the engine compartment had received less armor than the pilot’s section had. At short range, nearly anything could pierce the paper-thin armor of the ZE-122 even with the hatches furrowed down. Those hatches would need to be open to allow anyone to clamber on the vehicle and keep from falling. Wonderful.

    They would be here any moment now, the other hunters. All around, trying to find the best spot to hold on, fighting over who would man the turret - only for the room, he wagered. Taking the last few moments of personal enjoyment to look over his gear, Newton discovered that he had come up a clip short for ammunition. No matter, he had the .30 in the 122 if he needed a backup and if he had gotten himself deep in the shit, thirty bullets would make no difference.

    “Need some help?” The voice came, a harsh remark lined with a hint of true concern.

    Newton wheeled around, seeing the old-timer standing before him with his rifle slung across his back. Stifling a groan of agitation, Newton returned with a tone that perhaps had been too rough for the legitimate offer.

    “Doubt you can help with anything.”

    The old man’s brow broke out of its furrows as he chuckled. “I can fix up your access port before we start off. Your engine’s ‘bout to fail as’well, might want that checked out after this. I can jerryrig it for now, but I can’t promise indefinite results.”

    “And you know this how?” Newton retorted, raising a curious eyebrow.

    “The exhaust port’ll bend like this ‘fore it goes. Always got a habit of doin’ that, that they do.” He replied, more focused on the machine than the man. “There are a few other faults, but no machine’s perfect. ‘spicially not this hunk of scrap metal.”

    Newton stood and simply scanned the man over as he began the process of working this bit or that in an attempt to fix the 122. He hadn’t even given consent for the offer of help, but then, he’d better get used to having no one wait for what he wanted. There’d be plenty of that to come.

    “And be damned otherwise….” He muttered, casually sliding against the hull of the 122 in defeat.


  19. People travelling through the wastes themselves either have something to hide or are on a mission. Unfortunately for one poor soul both was true. Sabrine had seen better days, those though were a very long time ago, in fact it has been several years since she had a nice day. With the harsh mars sun beating down on her back and the straps of her heavy pack digging into her shoulders it was safe to say that today would be another in a long string of bad days.

    At least some thing was looking up, as she puased in the desert sand, to take a sip from a filthy canteen, she shaded her eyes and looked out to her destination. It had grown in the last hour of walking, from a mark on the horizon no bigger then her fist to the sprawling small town that it was. She still had a a mile to go but she could now make out individual buildings from her vantage point in the wastes.

    God I wish I could of taken a train.

    She couldn't help that thought from running through her brain, it wasn't a new one either, that thought has been haunting her for the good 7 hours she has been in the dust. Another unfortunate circumstance, she was under strict orders not to leave any trail, which means for her no buying a train ticket. They had given Sabrine some paper but it was in no way the amount she needed to be smuggled into the town. Besides Grifters talk and you can never know which ones are under a houses pay roll. If Venus knew House Aphrodite was taking a hit out on one of their own, they would send forces to portect their asset they don't realize they have yet.

    As she began walking again, following the tracks of the train she had jumped off of so many hours ago. She couldn't arrive around the same time as the train she had snuck upon. If someone from House Venus was here and saw a mudder arrive at the same time as a train from an Aphrodite town, even if they where stupid, it would raise major flags. Rearranging her "scarf", which was nothing more then a long peice a dirty sand colored cloth, she thought of her orders. A picture of him the day he escaped and the orders to kill him or die in the wastes was all she had received in a letter that was signed, a friend.

    Some friend they where, the last 6 months they had been "training her to survive and to kill without being caught. she learned all right, like everything else it was either do this or die, or worse go back to prison. One test run and they sent her into the wastes. No back up, no reward, just orders and the expectation that they will be preformed.

    Minutes past and with an audible sigh, a habit she retains even with no one around, she finally closed the distance between her and the city proper. Passing between two dust caked building on the outskirts of Folly was like entering another world. Yes the cruel sun still baked the earth, but the streets where filled with other figures going on about their business, not looking toward the new arrival. New faces are the norm on the outskirts of the waste.

    Sabrine began wandering, following a dirt path between buidlings that seemed to be the most crowded. searching for some sort of inn. She had past several groups of people before some men did take an interest, though not her face. They eyed her body up and down like hungry predators. The way the small group of men, four in all, put their heads together talking in freverant whispers sent a chill down her skin. She hated men like these, hated them with such a dark passion, it had been a year since she had met someone who ignited this boiling flame in her. It was all she could do to keep walking as they nominated one of their own to walk up and talk to her. It only took Sabrine to pull back her jacket, revealing the large Long Colt strapped to her hip, to send the man back from where he came from.

    It was several minutes after did she finally find some sort of inn, a brothel in fact. She detested places like these, but unfortunately it was the best she probably would be able to find in the small town this was, by the absence of markings on the Last Momento, it was safe to say it belonged to neither Venus of Aphrodite. Perfect for the young lady.

    As the sun slowly falling out of the sky would sugest, it was early in the afternoon, still the bar area had several filled tables, some of the women of the place moving from one table to the next, most of the others probably waiting for the bar to really fill up before looking for work. Sabrine kept her eyes on the bar itself and the women standing behind it cleaning a dish with an actual clean rag. She made her way to the front of the bar, taking a seat on a barstool right in front of the other women, letting the straps of her pack slip into her hand before setting it at her feet. She did however pull the canteen from beneath her jacket and slid it closer to the women pulling down her "scarf' and faking a smile in her direction before she finaly spoke out to the figure, her light rhythmic voice filling the air between them.

    "I was hoping you could fill my canteen, and hopefully find me a bed to sleep in without paying for someones company?"

    One of the women, able to stifle her giggles for but a moment, pointed to the barkeep in the corner. Another, tossing her companion's hand down, called for him by name before beckoning to the newcomer. With a grumble, he trudged to where the customer sat and rose an eyebrow inquisitively at her.

    His was not a homely face. The barkeep was overweight, leaving his face to hang in jowls beneath an outcropping of stubble and blotchy skin. Brown eyes sat beneath a sagging brow creased with wrinkles that led into a patch of thin, reedy black hair. A great layer of bubbled scaring - the testament to a las-weapon shot - covered the left side of his face, leaving the skin around it white and taut.

    Taking a glass from beneath the table, he shoved the canteen aside and said in a voice with an unfitting charm to it. "What do you want?"

    Sabrine let out a soft sigh as she stared at the man. She could already see why someone might want to shoot this man in the face, already he was pushing the short womens buttons. Suppressing a glare, she smiled brightly. knowing how fake it was, as she moved the glass from in front of her and replacing it once again with her canteen.

    "I want my canteen filled with the cheapest water you have and a room to sleep in." She cocked her head slightly to the left and smiled more before adding, "Think you can do that?"

    "Cheapest water? Cheap and water don't go in the same sentence out here, you a Cityfolk?" The barkeep asked, taking and canteen and filling it to the brim with chlorine-pumped water.

    Sliding it back to the woman, he merely chuckled, clearly not wanting a response as he beckoned for her ident card.

    "That'll be ten SC, dong ma?" He asked, tallying the cost of the room in his head while he waited for the card.

    Her smile slid into a more serious look. Instead of going for the ID in her jacket she fished a wallet from the first opening of her pack. Counting it out away from his veiw just beneath the lip of the bar, she pulled 30 sc and handed it to him.

    "Just one more thing sweetie, do you know if their is a band of hunters going for the mass breakout in town?"

    "Out in Leford? 'Course, a few left a day or so 'go. If you leave today you might catch up to them." He took the money and handed back five of the bills. "Room's only twenty five with the water, sweetie."

    She stood up abruptly, the stool she sat on falling teeterng on two legs, before clattering to a halt. She lifted her pack off the ground lifting it an inch above the counter before letting it drop. Even for such a short distance the pack thudded loudly, evidence that something metal and heavy was inside. The sweet look fell off, a dark glare replacing it. The look somehow seemed more fitting on the women then any smile could be.

    "Don't need the room, and you can keep the change."

    She turned back to the door, returning the pack to her shoulders she left to the door. Adding over her shoulder without a look in his direction. "And if you call me sweetie again you will be surprised how much uglier your face can get."

    With that she was out the saloon doors of the Last Memento and headed in the direction of Leford.

    Yupp it's going to be one of those days
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