Terra Magica

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    The world had ended and a new one had taken its place. Magic, that thing we refused to believe in is suddenly real as the rain on our face in a storm. This power to defy the laws of nature, to change the way the world worked was all of the sudden at our doorstep. The world had ended and we had survived. Mind you, Ambrosia was no sprawling metropolis, the city was only a fraction of what San Francisco had been. But it made do with what it had and it was growing at a rapid pace. The inner walls stood as testiment to the early days when they had battled and just barely survived. Now there was a city there, houses with electricity and plumbing. There were market places and some people had begun to repurpose old ruins into new homesteads as well. It was a bustling town, the hub of the West coast. And it was home.

    Home to the hustlers, the scoundrels and the thugs. Home to the honest, the hard working and the resilient. It was a home carved out in a world that want humanity dead. But it had risen, it had beaten back beasts and looters and it shone like a beacon. A dirty beacon to be sure, but a beacon none the less. Its gates were open for all people of all sizes, provided they would put themselves to work or otherwise contribute in some small way. Shanty towns would pop up outside the outer walls and grow into a proper neigbourhood once wate was routed their way. Then people would begin to bouild barricades that grew in palisades that grew in to walls and suddenly you would have another part of the ever growing city. Real estate for the post Fall economy as it were. This is where our story begins, and fatefull group of people are about to start a journey of their own.

    The air was humid, the massive forest that had grown up around San Fransisco since the Fall is as dense as the ancient redwood forests of ages past and what lurked there now is as ferocius as any dinosaur of the earths infancy. The San Fransisco bay lay shimmering to the west, and if you looked over the treeline you could see the water plant that had been built there. A giant white dome with half it's foundation in the water. Humanity was a ingenious and hardy race to be certain, they had managed to rocover and now they were doing their best to fight back. And right now, the people of Ambrosia was looking to open a new path towards the future. Ambrosia arbiters were out in force by the south gate, as a few stalls had been set up by the different corporations that were participating in the journey south. They were hiring, and in some ways competing among themselves as to whom they hired. great undertaking that would take months to establish, and this was the first foray into the wild.This was a venture that might propel humanity forward again, establishing a route to one of the biggest local sources for crystal. And everyone with money or power wanted a bite of the fortune that could be made.

    This is where you all find yourselves, albeit for different reasons and in different capacity. Your reasons for joining or taking interest are your own. The South Gate plaze is crowded with people of all shapes and sizes. Some of them are wearing body armor and toting great guns and blades, others are surveyors and engineers. There is a sense of concern over the whole thing, a edge to the way people carried themselves.

    SIGN UP;
    How you go about signing up is up to you. I have Some names for companies set up but you can make one up that you talk to about joining the trip south. I will note them down and look into what they might have for interests. Your companies and missiongivers will be directly involved in the story as thing progresses. I will use it best I can to give you dynamic tasks and missions along the way.

    Trip Sponsors;

    • J-Mob's Workshops;
    Engineering and building firm, known for their work with the infrastructure of the city. Rich as creasote due to being here from the start. Reputation; Respected. Rich.
    Possible goals; Securing builing contracts for the Crystal site and the different outposts that needs to be built on the way.

    • Harleys Armaments;
    Weapon Maker. Specified in non mage-tech, old school weaponry and conventional firearms. Harley is known as shrewd businessman and have employed more then a few thugs to get her way in the past. But Harley is a local patriot, and see Ambrosia as her home nad its citizens as her brothers and sisters.
    Reputation; Trustworthy. Fearsome.
    Possible goals; Supplying the expedition with conventional means of defending itself aswell as first choice on any cashes or old ruined weaponry found.

    • Ambrosian Crystal Foundation;
    Crystal Miners. Large company that specializise in mining crystal clusters and cutting shards for Magitech use. They are one of the biggest investors. They employ a odd 400 hundred people across the town, and run most of the raw crystal trade by legal means. They are pretty much vital to the exsitence of Ambrosia.
    Reputation; Respected. Powerfull. Rich. Lenient.
    Possible goals; Mining Rights.

    • Jorgens Engineering and Innovation.
    Weapon Maker, Jorgen is a old timer who knew opportunity when he saw it. He employs a bunch of engineers that all make and maintain magi-tech armaments for the city aswell as private clients.
    Reputation; Well Respected.
    Possible goals; Supplying the expedition with means of defending itself aswell as engineering contracts for whatever is needed along the way.


    Notable Locations:

    • South Gate; The largest entrence to town by far, South Gate is a massive punched into the ever expanding walls of Ambrosia. Its walls tower over you and is rightfully imposing. The gate itself is guarded by a set of old pre-Fall era battleshipcannons salvaged from the Sanfransico Bay. The old anti-air guns have been fixed up with magi tech and are able deliver some serius damage to the toughest of beasts.

    • Rock Plaza; The site of the Thunder Birds dramatic defeat years ago, the Rock plaza is the hub for information and trade in the southern part of town. Ambrosias many hunters can usually be seen here between jobs, peddling felts and other trophys from their kills. This is also the place where the Hunter HQ is located.

    • Calamity Towers; These two massive spirals where once towering scyscrapers in the ages past. But the ruins were made into a monument of sorts aswell as the seat of Ambrosias goverment. The half restored building stands like a reminder of the losses aswell as the inherent strenght of Ambrosias citizens.
  2. Alfonso had waited in the long winding line in front of the table for Harley's Armaments for nearly two hours. It was crowded, the humidity hung heavy in the air and the hot swarm of bodies did nothing to lessen the effect. Many people were obviously quite uncomfortable, but Alfonso was not bothered. He was used to being close with others, and saw the crowd as potential for a bit of quick theft, but the great density of Arbiters was able to persuade him differently. He sat there in is patchwork suit, hands in pocket, slowly walking in line to the booth.

    When he finally got there the woman working the sign up booth looked up at him and chuckled, "You aren't much like the other guys lining up here. What's your pitch?"

    He smiled back and leaned on the table, "Well, I was thinking you would have plenty of big burly men with big burly guns, but I don't think that will entirely suit your interests. Ya see, I heard from a friend of mine that you lot are pushing hard for loot rights for any old world weapons staches we run into on our little expedition. If so, you'll need someone to get you inside, and well, old military security is tough, and you can't usually blow your way in. I can open those golden eggs wide open for you. And all I ask for is a share of the loot, well and a couple of meals every day."

    The woman thought for a moment to consider. She wrote a bit on a piece of paper.s "All right. You'll get a standard share of any loot you help find and three meals a day." She pushed the document towards him, "Please, just sign here."

    Alfonso read the document briefly seeing that it listed out the terms of his employment, he signed and then looked up and asked, "Now then, when do I start?"
  3. Tenacious, communal and clever. Yet ridden with greed. Perhaps the closest animal relative to people was the rat, or so Simone Freeman surmised. The south gate was littered with applicants to join the expedition to the so-called Red Summit. It was rare in once-San Fransisco to see a man without a gun, but the gathering of weapons and magitech today was something else. It riddled Simone how people who hadn't tampered the crystals with their bodies could show the same glimpse in their eyes as shard-heads. Greed and lust took many forms.

    Simone had to mind her step with all the magitech running around, lest something spontaneously combust. lthough she had been determined to sign up, she felt little for being at the mercy of the masses. Crystals bound to mages had an aversion to other types of magic. It was hard to maintain control in a crowd, and simply standing near such a large body of unchecked magic had her back riddled with goosebumps. Mages were often referred to as ticking time-bombs, and at a place like the south gate plaza today, Simone could see herself ending up as exactly that. She needed to find some kind of back door...

    “Excuse me.” Simone stopped one of people heading to sign up. “Are you joining the expedition? I too am looking to join. I am proficient as a medic and am well learned about crystal theory, but I am not comfortable in crowds... And as you can see;” Simone swept her arm across the crown in a wide gesture. “Would you please help me?”
  4. Alfonso had begun making his way out of the massive crowd of bodies, swerving in and out of the dense group as if it were not there. He had always been around the cramped areas of the new world city and as thus had acquired quite the skill for navigating them. That is when he found the young black woman asking for help. She seemed attractive, somewhat scared, and well endowed with equipment. A ripe target for Alfonso's self-proclaimed dastardly charm.

    He approached her with a certain swagger about him which dwindled slightly when she stopped him and he saw she was the same height as he. "Hello Miss. I am indeed, and the name is Alfonso Luiggi. How may I be of service?" He said with a light twirl of the wrist and a subtle bow. "I've perused the various companies that are hiring, and it seems that with your knowledge of crystal theory you should no doubt enlist with the Ambrosian Crystal Foundation. Now, I can lead you to their booth, which is right over there." He said with a fairly vague sweeping arm gesture in the direction of the booth before holding his right arm out for her to hold, "Now what, if I may ask, is your name?"
  5. Rock Plaza - Midday - Standing by The Bronco​

    For a trader like Jaina, it didn't really pay to spend your time a wastin' by the Southern gate. She was blessed with a number of contacts inside a few of the organisations, and she'd called on one of them to get her signed up with Jorgen’s Engineering and Innovation as well as The Ambrosian Crystal Foundation. The two had complimenting goals, so they didn't seem to mind her double dipping. After all, it was mostly the Ambrosian Crystal that went into Jorgen's Magi-tech innovations.

    Plus, it helped that she hadn't specifically told either contact that she was double dipping. After all, she was hoping to walk out with two pay checks from this little shindig. Telling the two that she was doubling up might prompt them to undercut her. That would suck, for sure.

    Still, she was confident she could do both jobs. She wouldn't sign up for something she didn't think she could do.

    So that left her in Rock Plaza, peddling her wares. She'd been on a few hunts recently: striking out from Ambrosia city and going out to the nearby homesteads to pick out some of the nastiness. Her stall had been set up surrounding her major selling point: The Bronco. A couple companies had done diagnostics on the home-made machine and she'd of course let them. It wasn't exactly like she had a secret to keep: She hadn't even designed the thing! It helped to have a few of the engineers in the now-how about it, although there were still a few mysteries regarding the design. Clara had always kept the blueprints in her head, after all.

    She chewed a bit harder at the memory of Clara: A mixture of annoyance and sadness shaking up in her gut. She didn't like the thought of being some love sick puppy, but even close to a year on, she still felt the hole in her heart where something lacked. Hell, she'd tried filling it with various things: Men, women, a pet cat even. Nothing came close to distracting her, except her work hunting and trading.

    She eventually finished setting up shop, when she started to pull out her wares from the last two hunts. She unbuckled the first of Clara's 'Saddlebags' from the side of her bike: another invention that Jorgens' engineers had been interested in and had managed to nearly replicate. She hauled the big box over to the rented stall, and she started to haul out the various items.

    She started off with the Spring Bucks. They were big deer-like creatures with a lot of crystal in their horns. The crystal was apparently used for dazzling the bigger beasts with Mirage magic or some crap. It didn't much matter to Jennifer. A spear through the head from half a mile away didn't get dazzled. She'd managed to recover both antlers, and she'd harvested a lot of meat. The pelt was something she didn't much value though. Every hunter in the Plaza would be peddling Spring Buck pelt.

    Next, she reached into the box and pulled out something a bit more interesting: She pulled out the remains of a couple Razor Wolves she'd managed to pick off. Stragglers, really but she'd never admit it to the people she was selling to. The creatures were pretty similar to the old-day wolves, except they were a bit bigger and they had these nasty spines on their back: made of hard bone. It was these she was going to peddle mostly. Razor wolf meat didn't sell well, but the pelt would probably fetch a bit of profit. You needed a lot to make anything though, and she'd not managed to bag more than three wolves.

    Most looking at the haul would think that the two hunt had been mostly unsuccessful. While the materials from the monsters were useful, they weren't exactly anything special. Most hunters could bag Razor wolves, after all. They were not that scary unless they were in a pack.

    Jennifer looked up to see a crowd had started to gather. A couple of them were regulars, and she even spotted a couple of Hunter's association members lurking near the back of the group. She offered a little cocky smile at that. Seeing the Hunter's association lurking around her stall meant they expected something good. Time to show 'em what she had.

    She picked up the now empty saddlebag and strolled over to 'The Bronco.' She didn't want to admit it, but the Bronco had been a bit unwell the last couple of hunts. It was dropping speed and had nearly cut out on the return journey. She had put out an ad for an engineer to come take a look, but most engineers were put off by the machine. It was 'too much of an unknown factor' they'd say. Thinking she'd have to leave it behind this time was a little...unsettling.

    She ignored thoughts of the Bronco, though, as she uncoupled the second saddlebag from the Hover point. Hauling it to the Stand, she un-clipped it, and looked up at the crowd with a big, broad smile. "Ladies and gentlemen. I'm sure you're looking at my wares and thinking 'This is awfully mediocre.' You'd be right, o'course. This isn't the sort of haul I'd settle for." She reached into the large container, and pulled out something unusual. Instantly, the members of the Hunter's guild seemed interested, as she pulled out a fang the size of her forearm. "This, my lovely customers, is the fang of the beasty that took all my time and effort to track and kill." She placed the fang on the counter, near the center. "It is the fang of a Silver Serpent: nasty bastards that they are. Bigger than a man, with fangs as big as my forearm; they could kill you in a single bite. What's worse though..." She reached into the bag to pull out something else: a large strip of silver, scaly flesh and a bunch of separate scales, as large as a child's face . "Is their hide and their scale. You'd struggle to pierce through the scales with anything less than an Anti-tank round or some damn powerful crystal." To emphasise the point, she places a scale on the ground and grabs a Razor wolf spine, slamming it into the scale and watching as the spine shatters against the scale, without so much as marking the scale.

    "The hide under the scales makes really good leather, too: although they don't exactly hand the stuff over. O'course, when the beast is dead, it is pretty easy to harvest the stuff with a good skinning knife. However, there is one thing more valuable than even the hide and the scales of these monsters up for grabs, when you hunt a Silver serpent." She grins broadly, as she lays the leather on the table. Finally, she reaches both hands into the Saddlebag and withdraws two fist sized shards of blue. They seemed to glow with a wet iridescence, like some strange liquid flowed inside. "These right here, are the Silver Serpent's spitting glands. Each one of these contains a Freezing toxin so potent, it could freeze a man in seconds flat. So potent is this stuff, that I'll only sell these particular items to...specialists." She glances over at the two members of the hunting guild, a smile on her face. "So then, customers. Feel free to browse the goods I've got on stall. We'll open up bidding in a few minutes." She popped the glands of the Silver Serpent back into the Saddlebag, waiting for the Hunter's guild members to make a move. She had a good chunk of the Silver serpent haul still in the saddle bag, and she wanted to see if they'd make an offer.

    "You did it. Good to see our information on a silver serpent sighting wasn't horseshit" A man, rather stout looking fellow, said as he made his way over. He had a beard that made him look akin to some strange post-fall breed with the way things stuck in it. Herbert Lawson, a now retired hunter who dealt with a lot of the local Hunter Association purchases.

    "You know the deal. We gave you a good set up and called off any other hunters per requested. We get a reduced price on the gland." He grinned, a friendly and knowing grin. "That's a little larger then I had expected, so I guess the prize will be a bit higher than expected." He chuckled.

    Jennifer smiled at the man, a big honest grin that brightened up her entire face. "You know me, Herb. I can't do much with a Serpent gland, and I can't exactly go handing anything this dangerous to the public. I'll be sure to skin you less than I skinned the Serpent. It's only fair." She chuckled a bit, as she reached into the Saddlebag and retrieved the Gland, offering it to him carefully so that he could examine it.

    "Y'know, I've got some Leather, a bunch of scales and a fang if you want first dibs. After all, I couldn't have done it without y'all, so I better offer a good incentive." In truth, she had a bit of ulterior motive when it came to being so buddy-buddy. She liked Herb and most of the hunters, but she also wanted them on her side for a number of reasons. "Don't suppose you got any news about this expedition, have ya? Just between professionals, o'course."

    "There’s a bunch of hunters vying for the slots of representatives. That grizzly fellah, you know with the hat? What's his name again?" He paused, stroking his beard as he handed the gland to a second man who carefully put in a crate and sealed it. Herbs face lit up. "Oh yeah: we’re sending Lombard. That's the name." He leaned in. "Heard there are basilisk sightings down that road, we'd pay top dollar for a basilisk hide."

    Jaina nods, a little smirk on her face. She was glad to already have her spot in hand: but being sent directly by the Hunter's association would probably get her name a bit more recognition. Seemed like a goal to work for. "I'll see what I can get ya. No promises o'course. I gotta represent the companies paying my bills before I represent the Hunter's association."

    She hands him the second venom gland, and then stretches her hand out. "I'm feelin' generous, so we'll stick with the price we agreed on: even if I should really be slappin' an extra Twenty percent for the size of 'em." Sometimes, having good will paid more than mere cash.

    "Mighty nice of you. We'll take half the scales at your full prize too-“

    She nodded, reaching into the box and gathering up the scales he wanted. “Say, I got one more favour to ask you. Don’t suppose you know of any decent freelance Engineers? If you do, could you send ‘em my way? Bronco is acting up, a bit.”

    "I know that engineer that generally maintains Lombard’s weapons and gear is coming on the journey: you’re looking for a surly looking black woman with tattoos all over."

    "I'd consider it a personal favour if you sent her a message. Say that a huntress is looking for some repairs on some unusual tech. Say that she pays well, too." She smiled at the man, before outstretching her hand for the money that the group owed her. By her counts, most of it was going to be spent on the Bronco, both the fuel and the repairs were important, after all.

    "Will do. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to get the major to sign on for a particularly pricey purchase of new gear for the walls."

    She smiled, nodding to the burly man. "Thanks Herb. I'll keep an eye out for the basilisk...figuratively speaking, o'course."

    Watching Herb leave, Jaina smiled as she turned to the large crowd who'd all evaluated the product. "Now, hows about we get this bidding under way?"
  6. Thandie struggled to pull each step from the sucking mud, leaving a footprint that was quickly pooled, murky and warm. She knew it was blood without even checking. Her movement towards the center was sluggish. She could feel tears running down her cheeks but the fog about confused her emotions. A siren started off in the distance, a warning, sharp and demanding. She struggled harder against the blood soaked ground, being consumed feet first by the earth until reality shifted. She shot up in bed, fingers subconsciously clicking at her alarm until the warning sound subsided. She never made it to the center, not once in the last 18 years.

    She rubbed her fingers across her temples taking some of the beads of sweat with her as they moved to push back the messy array of dreadlocks, shifting the hair out of her view. The crystal stem hub screen flickered with the time in red in front of her and she huffed a curse below her breath. The realization she was late was treated the same as most of her realizations; filed away in an apathetic tray of overdue notices. Lashes, still heavy with sleep, fell across her eyes once more as she allowed her fluttering heart to settle. It was all part of the morning routine, some people made love, some people clicked into crystals, but Thandie, well, Thandie spent her first few moments each morning begging forgiveness from ghosts. And by the Gods of Chryst mayhap we shall find another again. She half believed, and it made her afraid, but the fear was stagnant now and had lost its original potency.

    Her eyes flickered open once again, the sleep and remorse slipping off her with trained practice. She pushed aside some blankets and slipped from the bed. Outside her door she could hear the cooing chirps from her roommate’s Figro; a testament that humans may have lost their entire structure, but had not lost their desire for designer pets. Sock covered feet padded towards the door and pushed it outward into the main room. The mess of black fuzzy feathers jumped into the room pouncing upon her with minimal effect. There was little it could do with its 9kg, but she reached down and pet between its oversized perky ears to provide Beast with some satisfaction.

    “Your mama already leave? Didn’t even wake me up.” The little Beast canted its head at her, a purplish tongue sagging out the right of her mouth.

    “I HEARD THAT,” came a shouted response from the front room. “I didn’t leave you, Jesus, hurry the fuck up.” Thandie poked her head around the corner with her toothbrush sticking halfway out of her mouth while her free hand pulled at a pair of cargo pants. She narrowed her eyes at the tiny statured and plump Latino woman. Her glare was answered with a flying flak jacket that she barely caught, abandoning her pants that sagged on her hips without the provided assistance of a yet placed belt.

    “Jah, jah, jah. No echo de menos a mis padres por tu culpa. Bitch.” Thandie’s response accompanied lips curled into a smile that mimicked her playful tone; she had always lacked a vocal respect for civil topics. The Latino woman, Maria Elena, did not share the sordid humor of her bunk mate and her face resigned itself to a serious and slightly sad expression. Thandie committed to nothing more than a shrug before hurrying through her routine. A sports bra and tank top were thrown on under the flak jacket and a belt was added to her pants. Maria Elena handed the other woman a cup of coffee, it resembled a sludge tea more than the mochachino lattes of old, but neither of the women had ever had a latte of any sort so they were content in their ignorance. Each grabbed a tool belt that hung by the door, littered with expensive loaned equipment, and stepped out into the hall.

    “I hate being late during recruitment,” Maria Elena stated as they made their way through the *refurbished* Littoral Combat Ship. The massive ship had once been a part of the US Navy, christened USS Independence. The massive ship nestled itself into the heart of the bay during the turmoil. None of that mattered really, except that Jorgens took tentative claim of Independence and started using it for housing and research, making it relevant once again in the blossoming Ambrosia. The two women stopped at a keypad and Thandie shifted her gear to enter the appropriate digits. The door slid open as the conversation continued.

    “When has recruitment ever affected you?” Thandie chided.

    “You never know Thandie. They are losing people out there and need to replace them.” Thandie rolled her eyes. Maria Elena had never left the walls of Ambrosia, but she was convinced that beyond the walls was a great gaping demon that the city state was hiding from them all. Thandie didn’t entirely disagree. She had a good amount of hours logged on missions outside of the city, but Maria Elena’s personal fear was completely unfounded. The woman was dynamite with gravity crystals and their application in weaponry and she had absolutely no combat training. Thandie was no corporate genius, but sending Maria Elena out seemed lose lose. No matter how much she attempted to convince the girl she always seemed nervous on recruitment.

    “Do you know how many people WANT to leave the gates?” Thandie knew all too well the enticement of riches and glory, but Maria Elena sighed unconvinced. They both knew plenty of people who didn’t want to leave the gates. This conversation was customary though. Maria worried, Thandie tried to convince her there was nothing to worry about and then there were so many amateur volunteers and skilled upper levels that nothing really changed. It had been this way for the past year they’d been bunking together. Their conversation ceased as they stepped through the double doors into the recruitment meeting.

    “Ms. Holt, Ms. Castillo. Please take your seats.” The hairs on the back of her neck prickled. The battle room turned conference hall seemed uncomfortable all of a sudden, cramped. The mood in the room was somber while the ladies took their seats. Most of the people present had known each other for a few years and usually these meetings were chatty and, well, unprofessional. The occupants were struggling with the forced compliance, some fidgeting while others looked slightly pale.

    “As some of you may have heard we have suffered a great tragedy.” Thandie took on their puzzled expression as her mind tried to think of specifically what Guy was talking about… a tragedy on top of a calamity nuzzled into an earth shattering reckoning. She didn’t have to mentally debate it for long. “The head field researcher for your department has left us to change professions.” Annnnnnnd somehow that is still called a tragedy? The only tragedy there is in this is missing the retirement cake. Thandie had never had retirement cake. Unaware of Thandie’s inner dialogue Guy continued on. “He was expecting to see out this trip as his last, but his wife is 7 months pregnant and we all know the sentimentality involved in that.” Thandie did not know the sentimentality involved in that but she watched as a few people around her nodded in agreement, even Maria Elena, who Thandie was sure was thinking of her little Beast at home. Most of the people seemed calmer than they had in the silence and she realized they had not caught on yet. She lowered her head into her palms and practiced calming breaths.

    It’s just an announcement for cake, she lied to herself.

    “As you all know there are a multitude of weapons that require field testing and refinement before we can begin to successfully market them and while there are plenty of recruits…” a collective breath was taken in. Yep. They just figured it out. Her mind was reeling and she missed the rest of what he said; something complimentary about their intelligence. She had heard the speech before actually. People around her started whispering amongst themselves. “So, do we have any volunteers?” Her head had begun to shake back and forth in her palms as if by its own volition. When she finally raised her eyes and let them glance around the room there was nothing left to do but laugh. Engineers at this level had a pretty cushy life, considering, and out of the 20 or so people here only 4 of them had ever been outside of the walls. Jonas and Cruise must be almost 70, so that wasn’t happening. Claire had kids now and she was doing everything she could not to make eye contact with Thandie or Guy.

    The loudest thing in the room was the slap when Thandie’s palms stopped cradling her head and hit against her knees as she pushed herself up to stand. “Welp, I guess we know who is going on this little trip.” If this was a game of who doesn’t not match she would get picked 9 out of 10 times. There was no damsel in her tone, just a resolute acceptance. She wasn’t scared or mad. Those emotions might come later. It was weird that this didn’t seem weird. She’d sworn off the outer areas. More than once. Three times. Okay, multiple times, but who else would go?

    “Okay t…” Guy started only to be interrupted by one of the younger kids. He must have been 20 or so, smart kid. Thandie had once let him tinker with the X-Ray scope she’d been developing. He stood, a little unsure of himself. “I’ll go.” Guy looked at the kid, back at Thandie, back at the kid: he seemed to be trying not to laugh, which Thandie thought was nice of Guy.

    “No, you won’t. You have no field training and this isn’t just a jaunt over the wall. I’m going. Guy knew I was going before he even started the speech. I bet half the damn city already knows I’m going.” She had the sort of tone that took guts to question. Guy blushed and the kid sat down. “Okay then,” Thandie stated. Her hands fell to her hips and she nodded at the rest of them. This was happening.

    And that is how Thandie found herself walking towards the booths, but of course there was a quick detour to find a woman in Rock Plaza, near the Bronco. They needed to hurry. If she was going to do this she was at least going to help stock the team. She slipped her way through the lines getting a few HEY!’s from people. She puffed on a cigar (Hell, as a field agent she could afford the finer things) while nudging a few people determined to be stand in her way. A random person spoke out, “Watch out!” and finally she turned to the crowd and her eyes flashed something fierce right before they lit up into something cruel and laughed. “Dead woman walking!” Her eyes narrowed again, then a smile. “You’re welcome to attend.” She turned back towards her goal and pressed on. She knew how to make friends.

    There were a few wrong turns and a few questions asked, but soon she found her way and slid right up to Jaina’s booth. She flicked a finger across a piece of the wares and once she caught the woman’s eye she spoke. “We should be going, don’t you think? Company told me you were already signed on and that you were legit. You should come to the booth with me. We need to help pick the crew. I have some pull,” she looked the woman over, “And I think you do too.” She flashed one of her nicer smiles towards the trader. “Hmm?”
  7. In the new world that existed after the Fall, there were few constants. There were few sure things you could rely on. Ambrosia was in this regard a bastion for the lost and mournfull. Its walls had lent Lombard stability for all his life, yet the hunter found himself staying longer and longer on the outsides of the city for each hunt. A part of him told him he was being foolish, that he should try and settle now that his skin looked it been trough a shredder. Yet he continues. Rob Lombard wasn't a man you considered for job due to his precision, no you hired him for the man eating, tenacious beasts that stalked villages outside the walls.

    Because Rob was a resilient bugger, the stories about him were always the same, telling about how he had strolled into ambrosia covered with blood, hauling some big beast behind him. He had survived things he had no business even getting into and today was no different. He rolled into town sitting on the back of a pickup. Or rather, he sat on top a massive lion like beast, puffing his cigar as the car rolled up to the north gate. The guards, who were both young men, stared at it. Their eyes wide as saucers as the hunter who by now stood on top of his kill, waved at them. Looking like he wasn't sitting on a massive corpse.

    ”That's...” One of the guards started.

    ”The man eater from Bronzewoods, yes.” He said as he jumped off. Man eaters had been a problem even before the fall someone had once told Rob. They were the big cats that gotten the taste for human flesh. Usually they had been unhealthy, unable to kill their normal prey. So they started hunting humans in remote Indian and African villages. But they had been somewhat rare at least. Rob felt that man eaters were dime a dozen these days. Magical beasts existed so why shouldn't there be man eating monsters to spice things up as well? Rob patted the side of the pickup and it drove on, into the city.

    ”How?” The youngest of the guards whom Rob knew as 'Cal' spoke in awe. He was barely 17, but built like a brick shit house and Rob had seen him floor one of the veteran guards during a drunken brawl before. Just one punch. If the world didn't break, he'd be a boxing champ. Instead the boy held a modified assault rifle and wore kevlar and a flak helmet to protect himself.

    ”It's just a lion boys.” Rob smiled and took a puff of his cigar. ”Hardly my worst kill. Hell I hardly scratched me.” That last part was not entirely true. While he had killed far worse things, the lion had been close to biting his head off. Thank god for flash bangs, he had showed one its face as he barely dodged its jaws. And climbed a tree so he could reload his damn rifle. The thing had been a rather slow climber. So he had gotten the perfect position to place a bullet between its eyes.

    ”Its five time the size of a normal lion.” Hank, the other guard said, tilting his head in thought. Rob simply chuckled and patted his shoulder.

    ”...Is it? I wouldn't know. I never met a 'normal' lion” Rob simply chuckled and patted his shoulder the guard on the shoulder before stepped past the two young men. The streets were full of people, vending stalls and machinery. The overgrown asphalt felt comforting underneath his soles, the streets had yet to change. The liveliness and noise of Ambrosia filled his ears as there seemed to be quite the commotion going on. Rob, unaware of what was happening at south gate, instead visited the Hunters Association first. As he was fixing the cashin on his massive catch, he was approached by Herbert. The stocky man grinned at him like a shark would.

    ”Rob, old pal” Herberts voice was all honey, but there were cyanide and arsenic in that honey. Rob and Herb had started out the same time with hunting. But Rob had always been a step behind untill Herb got terribly injured due to his own carelessness. Herb wasn't a bad person, but Rob and him got along like a house on fire. Herb had moved up the ladder trough administrative effort and politics. Rob was still just a hunter.

    ”I ain't your pal, Herb.” Rob shot the man a glance as he counted his prize money. Herb seemed to be in a good mood. That was usually good for business, bad for Robs health.

    ”Don't be like that. I heard you took care of the Eater?” Herb said and there was just the slightest hint of genuine suprise.

    ”I did.” Rob raised eyebrow, stubbing his cigarr on the wall next ot him. ”What of it?”

    ”Just that I thought we put a offical notice about it being a two man job, not a solo.” Herb produced a handkerchief and blew his nose. Rob wanted to point out that if he had waited for a second, or let someone else take their time with the job more people would have been killed. But Herb wasn't finished.”Are you aware of the expedition?” He asked, finally getting to the reason he had made a beeline for the ragged looking hunter.

    ”..Is that today?” Rob asked, suddenly aware that he had been briefed on it before. But the hunt had taken precedence. ”Don't tell me. I have been put forth by the board as our representive.” Rob rubbed his temples. Babysitting a expedition and hunting for some scientist no doubt. Meanwhile he would miss all the big game that was bound to show up around Ambrosia.

    ”Indeed. You have been earmarked for it I'm afraid.” Herbs voice was full of ill contained amusement at his fellow hunters response.

    ”..Who else?” Rob scowl was solidifying itself as the single most overpowering feature of his face at this point. His eyebrows bunched up, his teeth gritted.

    ”Jeane approached me about it.” Herb shrugged.

    ”The one with the spear? Hm. What do you need me for then. She is as much of a heavy hitter as they come.” Rob tried, knowing it to be hopeless.

    ”Don't be stupid.” Herb shot back, and Robs left eye twitched. He was about to pull his gun at the fat man, a very unwise move , when Herbert spoke.”You are one of our most senior hunters. And you are tough as nails and then some. The board wants you for your veterancy. ” Herb said, and Rob could only grumble.

    ”I better get moving then.” Rob nodded and left without another word. Herb relaxed the minute Rob was out of the way. The man always made him nervous.

    Robs steps brough him to the South gate just in time to see Jeane and Thundie. He strolled up towards them. ”Thundie. Should have known they'd send you.” He spoke with a grin. ”At least now I don't have to worry if my gun breaks again.” He then turned towards Jeane. ”Heard you brought in a Silver snake.” He said, not hiding how impressed he was. ”I tried it once myself. Didn't fare to well. I don't really pack the firepower for such a thing.”
    #7 Hellis, Nov 19, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014
  8. Collaboration with Potatocat

    “I am not comfortable in crowds, with or without your hand, mister Luiggi.” Simone replied, each tone of her words carefully articulated, as if teaching the English language to the man in front of her. She put her fingers on Alfonso his arm, gently pushing it down. For a second, her eyes seemed to flicker into a blur, but quickly after Simone picked back up her conversation.

    “You may call me Simone. The Ambrosian Crystal Foundation certainly seems to have mutual benefits. Now if only I could avoid the crowd.”

    "Well Simone," Alfonso began, the fast rhythm of his speak in great contrast to her slow methodical words, "I doubt we can entirely avoid these crowds you are so un-fond of, the Foundation may have all the employees they plan to gather." He looked around thinking for a moment, looking into the crowds as if it would give him some sort of answer. "You know what?" He asked rhetorically, "I'll go see if I can't just get them to hand over the papers so I can bring them to you for you to sign. That way you can avoid close contact with all these wonderful people around here, and get yourself a job in the process. I'll be back with what you need. Hopefully." He started to make his way towards the Ambrosian Crystal Foundation's booth.

    "Most gallant, mister Luiggi.” Simone smiled. This was perfect, she thought, as she saw Alfonso head off, although she sure hoped that if he was successful in retrieving papers or a representative and if she would be taken in, the caravan itself would not nearly be so... Dense, as the body of people that had gathered here.

    Alfonso made his way to the booth and in his usual quick talking way began chatting up one of the representatives. This got him many angry looks from those who had been standing in line waiting to be seen, but he willfully ignored them. A few minutes later he returned to where he had left Simone with a slightly confused, yet willing man holding a clipboard with a pen and small stack of papers.

    "Well, you two do as you need." He said with a wide smile. "Hopefully we may find ourselves meeting once again Simone. We are both heading in the same direction, so it may not be entirely unlikely." He gave the man with the papers a light smack relatively uncomfortably low on his back, gave a quick wink to Simone and briskly walked away. After a few steps he pulled the small purse of currency he had lifted from the man out from under his suit's jacket and began counting it.

    A strange man, that Alfonso Luiggi, Simone thought to herself, but smiled at his leave. She could ponder how he had pulled it off almost as much as why, but that would be unappreciative of the gift Alfonso had left her. "Thank you. I believe we might." She responded, before turning to the man with the clipboard. "Now, as for my application..."
  9. One Day Earlier

    He was at the end of his rope with magi-tech firms, and the fresh, angry burn along his cheek served as a badge of that growing resentment. Noah was used to fruitless marches across scorching segments of desert and he had lost more money than he cared to admit on jobs with unforeseen runarounds, but he had also been much stupider back then, just barely an adult and convinced beyond a doubt that magi-tech was the business to be in. They’d pay you anything to steal back even a dummy skeleton of a gun. It lined his pockets and it kept him moving.

    But today had been the final prod of his bruised ego that he’d allow. He had been working with some of the smaller companies for the past year, Greymere offering him a steady stream of offers whenever Louge choked under the weight of his bills and during those moments when InduTech finally hired a staff capable of keeping their gear from wandering out the back doors of their warehouses. Jorgen always paid the best wages for his transport jobs, but the old man was a stickler for rules. He was well-respected. Rules were imposed on every aspect of his work orders. It was a stifling pain in the ass, but Noah found that playing within those boundaries only made the payoff sweeter. That’s why it came as a huge shock when he heard from his contact within Jorgen’s ranks, telling him to hurry out after a thief who had made off with a hugely expensive and exceptionally dangerous prototype. It was a fully loaded, crackling time bomb, and apparently headed into the hands of some homicidal madman out in the wastes. The only thing written in the way of instructions for the job was a simple, “Do not allow firearm to be discharged”. Simple enough. Noah had shaken Raleigh’s hand, thanking the engineer and promising a sliver of the payout for old time’s sake, and headed out.

    It had taken a full day to track this burglar down to a hideout nestled among some precariously perched rocks that made something of an arch off of the dusty fork of road leading away from the South Gate. When he got there around sunset, he noticed a petite figure dashing into the den of sorts. She’d obviously gotten as far as she could over the course of a day and was debating between holing up and sprinting to some other form of primitive shelter, but even the pettiest of crooks realized what gigantic beasts shambled along just off the beaten roads. Being ripped limb from limb would be the optimist’s fear. Any seasoned traveler knew that there were much worse ways to go. Hell, Noah still clearly remembered the moment when Raleigh’s leg was run through by that charging brute of a boar. It took nearly the entire troupe to find a vulnerability in its seemingly plated hide, and all the while the poor kid screamed out, teeth gnashing as his bone cracked with each jarring motion the animal made. Blood and shards of glistening bone and horn fell together in a puddle, mixing with the dirt below, as his leg was bandaged up. Poor bastard would have to live with that agony for the rest of his life. He could barely use it now, and it was a good thing his hands were better suited to engineering than trade, anyway. Noah shuddered at the thought, and rubbed a palm instinctively against his own thigh, as he approached the cave, offering a mocking prayer that if that weapon was truly an apocalypse-in-a-box, it would at least spare him his legs.

    Keeping an ear out as he rounded the lip of the cave, he cocked his Browning, his back running as smoothly as was humanly possible against the coarse walls. Each step seemed to take him nowhere, but the sheer silence suggested that something was wrong much faster than the lack of a clear end to the presumably shallow cave. He whirred around to once again face the mouth of the cave and noticed a shadow moving just out of his line of sight.

    You’re shitting me, he scoffed at his own stupidity more than at the bait and switch. He should’ve seen it coming, he reprimanded himself as he picked up the pace, clambering over the loose rocks littering the floor of the formation, following the long shadow cast by a pair of athlete’s legs. Probably a street rat, someone desperate enough to try stealing from Jorgen and cocky enough to think they had a chance to make it out alive. No smarts, but tons of stamina. The similarity was striking. He noticed his target flip open a pouch holstered on her hip, and he quickly grabbed for his spear, aiming the tip right at her back. A bolt of lightning, not given the time to properly charge, arced out and sent her limbs shaking as she fell face first to the ground. With some annoyance, he observed that the oddly-shaped device was still firmly clutched in her fingers. Having no idea where the trigger was on the damn thing, he stood a little bit back, watching the target writhe back into control of her own body.

    “Asshole,” she sputtered against the dirt, a thin line of saliva trickling out of her mouth with her blunt statement. The shock must’ve been more accurate than he dared hope. His pride would have to wait a few moments longer as the device suddenly dropped out of the hand she was taking great pains to raise, and it rolled a few inches away.

    Noah leapt at the opportunity to seize it, but he noticed a look of panic in the girl’s deep set eyes that made him reconsider, but not before his gloved hand snatched up the piece of machinery and felt it radiating heat like a workman’s boiler. He fumbled with the flap of his pocket in order to shove it away, out of sight and out of mind, hoping it wouldn’t catch on fire or worse if he didn’t do anything to provoke it, but he proved too slow and frankly uncoordinated. An errant whip of flame lashed out and the dark haired man could barely flinch out of the way fast enough, and he felt the searing sting of heat across his cheek before the dropping the prototype. He slapped one hand to his face to apply some pressure to the wound, hoping the leather would cool it down somewhat. Reluctantly scooping up the singed metal, he shoved it into the now-loosened pocket and looked down at the girl, who was just now picking himself back up.

    “You don’t look like any of the bounty posters,” he muttered, perhaps more to himself than to her, before he cleared his throat and spoke up, “You wanna tell me what you were doing with this thing?” And what it’s supposed to be would be nice, too, but he knew better than to ask the middleman.

    “I was told somebody would pay me if I brought it out here for him. Order said to wait a few days, don’t get too nosy, and don’t trigger the thing,” she gestured angrily in its direction and paused, “Figured it was a bomb of sorts, and that’s why I got a taste of my reward before I got any clear signals. But you’re not a bloody smear and neither am I, so I can’t imagine what anyone’d want with it.”

    He shifted for a moment. Whoever wanted it must not have known it was flawed. But, then again, why would Jorgen care so much about retrieving a dud? Sure, they were bad for business, but they were hardly a fat slab of a paycheck worth of a headache for the old man. All signs pointed to someone on the outside knowing about the failure and still wanting it… perhaps to retool it to their own design without having to rework the structure? He shook the thought from his mind. It wasn’t his problem. He was already going to have to fight for his pay since the only rule set out before him was shattered into two separate, sparking halves. Plus, he’d need some salve for the burn, as he rubbed the skin beneath the prickly bed of stubble.

    The bandit seemed surprised when Noah revealed that there would be nothing it in for him to bring her back to the city, as the little shit honestly seemed like she expected there to be a bounty out for her. After delivering the hard truth, the black-haired man still felt a stirring of a moral obligation to keep her from dying by the claws of some beast, and the pair marched the day’s journey back in silence, a perfect match in sullenness for the time being. Knowing his luck, he’d probably be chasing this wannabe courier out of Ambrosia again soon, assuming she didn’t lose that entrepreneurial glint in her eye, but for now, it was best to return to Raleigh and fess up. He could probably pinch some profit so long as he didn’t say anything stupid.

    Parting ways with the girl immediately after passing through the South Gate, Noah made a brisk pace towards his apartment. He could have sworn he made out a figure skulking outside of his door, and his suspicions were confirmed once the man made an exaggerated motion with his arm before ducking into the shadowy alley between the two complexes. Noah rolled his eyes. Only one guy would be stupid enough to try for subtly with that sort of bumbling ineptitude.

    “I got the damn device, Raleigh, and you’ve got a hell of a lot of explaining to do,” Noah barked as he met his old acquaintance between the shanty buildings. The redhead gestured to indicate a desire for a quieter conversation, his just-barely-receding hairline accentuating the worried wrinkles set deep into his forehead. Sighing, Noah continued, “Why did your boss send me after this thing if it’s got as much bite as a baby on a tantrum?” He shoved the bits of the bomb into the engineer’s expectant hands.

    “You know as well as I do that it’s bad business to let the world know that we messed up on a new product… especially one that’s going to find a home among the highest bidder by the end of the quarter, we hope,” Raleigh’s tone was smug, “We’d have preferred that that information stayed between us, but at least you were able to do damage control. You want to kill that girl, or should we trust that all will be well with her and we’ll just dock your pay for screwing the whole operation up?”

    “If you weren’t so damn useful, I’d bash your brain in with that thing,” Noah maintained a gruff tone. It was becoming plain that intimidation wouldn’t actually do anything to help him as he watched the scientist drop the singed remnant into a professional-looking box that he had touted out from the lab. Without another word, the engineer walked off, leg still quaking under the pressure of the steps he took, even after all of this time.

    It was then that he decided he’d need another job. He threw his bag and coat haphazardly upon entering the spacious, yet almost comically bare room he kept to himself. Unwilling to drag himself to the bed, he passed out on the long sofa, wracking his brain in hopes to remember where exactly he’d heard those companies had set up and were hiring.

    The Day Of

    The wind stung against his burn, but he’d shaved to look like less of a lumbering bum and was doing everything in his power to make the best first impression on this new client, pain be damned. Ambrosian Crystal Foundation… the name on its own was enough to make him turn and run, but he had heard good things about how they did business. First and foremost, they were loaded. Crystals, even a flimsy shard, would fetch a tremendous price. He had a bit of firsthand experience in the trade, but he’d been hesitant to ever take up with the merchants he used to associate with. Too familiar. Jobs tended to be easy, too. They made their employees into Labradors. Secondly, the Foundation was said to be lenient. This had pricked his ear in just the right way and he soon found himself standing among a sea of bodies, scribbling furiously on a carved up clipboard. He recognized a few familiar faces, longtime rivals for the plump jobs and rookies he’d worked with who had never managed to make a favorable impression on their clients. Overall, the crowd seemed like it would be good competition, and it was also an indicator of the company’s wealth and reach, which reassured him that these dense contracts were actually worth a read-through.

    He stood off to the side, squinting at the details of the job, waiting for someone to come over and begin the actual interviewing process. He’d been told to rest on his heels, sign a thick pile of mainly arbitrary pages that he hoped would be directly proportional to his paycheck, and then recite his application and work ethic verbatim to a well-dressed professional. After catching sight of a man who bore a strong resemblance to those old world drawings of crooks and swindlers, the ones that survived in burnt up pages and remnants of billboards all along the wasteland. Noah could’ve sworn he was pocketing something, but he chalked that up to a keen imagination rather than any sort of sharp eye.

    Trying his best to be inconspicuous, he leaned and shuffled closer to an ongoing interview, one being conducted by a representative of the company and a rather tall woman, one who seemed like she would catch on at any moment to his not-so-sneaky eavesdropping if he didn’t busy himself entirely with rifling through pages and forming his mouth into deliberately nervous shapes to play off his calculated interest.
  10. It was early morning. The sun had just began to peak over the horizon and its faint rays had just made its way into a bleak, metal room Luke called his own. There wasn’t much in the way of decoration. It was suited for practicality over aesthetics. A simple metal workbench adorned the room’s corner opposite to the window. The bench was littered with shotgun parts, none of the new-age magitech stuff. Luke was still one of those people that used old world relics like his 12 gauge. His father had insisted on using it, refusing to use any of the new magitech weapons that were supposedly more effective against the monsters of the new world. “Doesn’t matter how strong their hide is. No one is immune to bullets,” is what his old man used to say when pressed to use magitech. Luke felt as if it had more to do with not being able to afford one or get a hold of the parts. Still, his father’s shotgun was reliable. It had survived this long, but it’s getting old. Some of the parts are becoming worn out, dangerously so. Luke found that he’s had to maintain more frequently than before. The parts themselves are also getting pretty scarce. Fortunately, Harley’s Armaments have enough spare parts for routine maintenance and repairs. He’s been to their shops more times than he cares to count.

    He can’t keep going back to repair his beat up shotgun. Eventually, he’ll have to trade up for a better weapon, probably a magitech. Just because his old man insisted on using a shotgun from the old world, doesn’t mean he has to. He had thought about getting a magitech gun, but could never pull himself to replace the old shotgun. Too much sentimental value. It was always “After the next trade run.” Sadly, he never brought himself to do it.

    Luke was an early riser. By the time the sun had peaked into his room, he was already up maintaining his gear. He had to make sure it wouldn’t break before the expedition. He was hoping that he could find some valuables down south. He had heard a lot of people couldn’t make it in the southern regions. A little more untamed, if that was possible, than the regions around Ambrosia. Hopefully the risk is worth the reward.

    The sun rose up above the horizon and the noise of the township slowly formed. People began to rise out of their homes and go about their business. Hunters began setting up their stalls, caravans began to head out of the gates, and the workshops began to hammer away at their armaments. In a few short minutes, the township came to life with industrial sound. Luke preferred the surreal and dangerous quiet of the wild. The sheer feel of wandering is quite relaxing. Another reason why he constantly signs on with caravans.

    Luke gathers his things and heads downstairs. The house had become a hollow shell since his mom passed. The barren walls had been made even drearier with the constant silence that echoes in the halls. There wasn’t much to do here anymore.

    Luke head out towards the south gate, passing the marketplace near his residence. The streets were alive with the business that he knew so well; hunters were trading pelts and other resources of the monsters, engineers selling their parts and services, and merchants peddling trade goods. There was never a dull moment in a marketplace. Haggling and appraising were fun in its own right.

    There were few big names out there in the morning trying to get the latest of their goods out. Some of them he knew, namely the hunter claiming to have killed a Silver Serpent. He should probably check that out. He didn’t exactly need the pelts or hides, but they could fetch a good price to some of the neighboring townships. Materials like this are few and far between.

    He decided to at least take a look at the stall. And he arrived just in time to listen to part of her sales pitch, boasting about the strongest materials and the toughness of the hides. Luke wasn’t the most knowledgeable, but the stuff she was peddling didn’t look to be of bad quality, at least at a glance.

    “So, Jaina, that’s a real nice set of hides you have there. It’s from a silver serpent if I heard you right. While I’m not in the business of hides and scales, I am deeply interested in what you have to sell.” He glanced down at the silver serpents’ remains. “So when do you plan to start the bidding?”
  11. Max stretched with the morning, enjoying the view of the city from the roof she had made home on last night. Homeless, that's what most people refereed to her situation. However, it was only her third day in town and to be quite frank she didn't want to have a place just yet. Also she didn't have the money yet. Mostly it was that but as she packed up her belongings she wasn't worried. She was smart, she was young, and she was eager to learn and work. Who didn't want a fit 20-something on their team?

    Unfortunately she hadn't found anyone who did. Her gloves had intrigued a man in the market, but he had only been interested in purchasing them, something that was not an option. She had overheard some people talking about some sort of expedition, from what she understood it was some sort of hunting trip. No, she wasn't real big into hunting, but from what she could tell engineers were going. Besides, it wouldn't be a bad thing to know some people.

    "Who knows," She muttered to herself, quoting her father as she packed up her belongings. "Maybe you'll make a friend, fall in love."

    Something about his daughter never having any friends made her father perpetually sad. No matter, she climbed down a ladder and hoped no one saw her. She didn't know about here, but being caught sleeping on someone's roof would get you hurt real bad back home. Thankfully, it appeared no-one saw her, though it was really early. She happened to catch a glance of herself in a puddle of water, her right arm scar clear as ever. Maybe that was why no-one talked to her... She smiled, awesome.
    On her walk to the south gate Max walked at a leisurely pace. Back home no-one did that, it wasn't a safe place and being out and about- walking alone, it wasn't something you wanted to be caught doing. Here though, she felt safer. She knew the dangers were still there, but something about the music playing and the smiling faces made her feel okay. There were children just running around. No parent, just kid. Racing along with their friends one little boy accidentally hit her.

    She didn't smile, she just raised her eyebrows. She wasn't going to attack him, but it was best to keep him away. The men in charge had a habit of using children to get people off their guard. She wasn't making that mistake, besides, it was a habit of her personality that wasn't changing with location.
    "Sorry Miss," He said, a toothy grin before he skipped to follow her. "What's with the scar, lady?" He asked, nosy and getting on her bad side fast. She continued to ignore the boy, not interested in his childish questions. He was healthy, something she noticed as he kept up with her brisk pace. He eventually gave up, running off when his friend called his name. For that she was grateful, and she happily notice that she had somehow made her way to the market. This was not where she intended to go.

    Never the less, as her stomach growled she realized that maybe it was. She went to the vendor and purchased an apple, a delicacy that he was practically giving away. She enjoyed the delicious fruit, purple in color, as she watched a woman vendor shatter some sort of horn against a scale. It was a hard scale, or a pathetic horn.

    She spent a while walking around, trying to find the south gate. She reached into her pack as she walked, grabbing her water bottle and taking a swig. She knew she'd be walking for a while and rather than frustration at her inability to find a large gate she simply used the time to observe and plan. She wasn't sure what exactly she'd say to get on a hunting trip. She couldn't hunt, it simply wasn't something she had ever done. Her gloves were made for fighting humans, not waked out animals. She had always bought meat, when she bought the expensive item, already dead. She knew how to clean it though, and her cooking was okay, she guessed. Nothing like what she smelled as she walked around. Some sort of large bear on a stick with, you guessed it, apples made her mouth water. She wasn't accustomed to this much food- only eating a tiny breakfast and a dinner a day. She couldn't help herself as she walked extra slow past the cooking stalls or the homes with food being made, the smell was too good to pass up.

    She knew that her first aid skills were good- she had patched up Rudey more times than she could count, and done the same for herself. She was good at preventing scars, something a lot of the people here didn't bother with. Why they would want to show off that something was able to hurt them she did not know or want to know, it was a trait she was mildly disgusted at. Other than that.... she could sew, but that was a common skill. Maybe she would dazzle them with her personality? She scoffed at the idea, why would they care what she was like to be around? She needed to prove she could be useful.

    Okay, she thought to herself, you're free, you're helpful, and you're eager to do anything they need. She realized that she'd need food for the journey and decided to go buy some.

    Some sort of vendor was selling dried meat, and fruits, perfect.

    "Can I get three packs of the dried meat and a dried apple and...." She had earned a lot of money on her last trip, making clothes for the mayor or whatever's family. He had been a generous man, she'd almost stayed there. Not as a free-loader, but as an engineer. They also didn't have a lot of them, and she knew she wasn't going to learn there as much as here in the big city. "A pack of raisins."

    "That'll be 45," The woman said, a child behind the counter getting it all together as Max pulled out the money. "What're you here for?"

    Max handed her the money, "Food." She didn't want a conversation and the lady didn't appreciate it, handing her the food and glaring.

    "You're not above talking to us just because you go outside the city." She said gruffly.

    Max rolled her eyes, extra sensitive much? Why did everyone here need to have a conversation. She would have asked her how to get to the south gate but she didn't figure the woman would give her good directions. She packed her food in her backpack and kept going.

    Finally, she reached the gate. She saw a group of people together, one of them saying something about how it was obvious the other, a woman with braided hair, would be going. Biased on his phrasing and her outfit, she guessed she was an engineer. She didn't have and air of friendly, and Max liked her already.

    She walked right up to them and spoke, "Hi, I'd like to join you on your trip." She said, "I'm Dove Maxine Holt and I want to learn to be an engineer. I can provide for myself, don't want pay, and I can do a lot of useful things such as first aid and sewing." She looked at them, most of them littered with scars and the women with tattoo's, which Max loved. She didn't have any herself, but who knew, time would change that, she was sure.

    EDIT(12/2 @ 3:02P): I added in a line of space in between the paragraphs because it was this monstrous block of text.
    #11 HelloBeautifulChild, Dec 2, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014
  12. With everyone starting to find their places and starting to discuss the immediate future, there was a sense of pioneering and exploration in the air. People were noticeable excited about this undertaking, soldiers checked their guns and engineers began to examine the machines and vehicles for the trip. Hunters were conversing in pairs, most of them small fry themselves who had set out to prove themselves. Others were like , seasoned veterans who had a in with some of the companies. But only a few hunters were officially sent on the buisness of the Hunters Association. Lombard was on of these few 'chosen', but nobody dared to give him any trouble about it. He had earned it, and the grizzly looking man was a scary person to deal with no matter what mood he was in. Lombards eyes wandered, taking in the many shapes and forms of their motley crew. This was big, he could feel it. So many people about, so many different motivations; Greed, Glory, Altruism, Adventure. He knew what his motivation was, he wanted to take down something huge. Not for the glory, but to confirm that man was once more on the way to ruling this planet. Like they had done in the history books. As Lombard pondered this, he saw a young woman approach them. She seemed to have mistaken them for officials of all people.

    ”Appears they are about set to go girl, you are a tad to late, but you look like the handy type. I'd follow Thandie here and talk to one of the Crystal Foundation people. ” The hunter said as he noted how people began to throw their baggage onto the caravan where they could. People loading up their cars were making sure they had atleast one gun on their person at all times. Nobody was taking any chances. The different companies began to leave their booths and call specific people over to take a place on their transports. Others linked up with the cargo carrying vans with their own cars, often people with mounted weapons ontop. No doubt hired to protect the VIP's. The caravan was a small convoy, packing enough firepower to turn back most bandits. Lombard spotted someone familiar admist all the guns and posturing. A man who once decked him out cold. He grinned.

    ”I'll see you lot around.” The hunter spoke before he steered his feet towards a person in question; Noah. Lombard respected Noah more then most. He was man of grit and logic. He was also one of the few people who had punched Lombard and gotten away with it. He reached out and offered one giant, calloused hand to the other man. ”It seems we have many a talented man and women on this journey. Let me guess, you gonna take a paycheck to protect the Crystal Foundations stuff?”

    Lombard, a monolith of a man even when next to someone like Noah, could always be counted on for a handshake that would wake you up. Noah reached out and accepted the gesture, ready to be slightly dwarfed by the hunter and grinned, “I’d be a damn fool not to. It’s good money and I won’t need to do much… keep a few rubberneckers away, maybe break a couple of fingers. Child’s play.” He raised an eyebrow at him, “What about you? Run out of beasties to chase down?”

    "Something like that." Lombard grinned. "Look sharp now, seems we got the Mayor incoming."

    There was a rumbling noise from the south gate as the Mayors motorcade arrived at where people where gathered.. He lumbered out of his car and up on a wooden platform. The man was built like a fridge, square and heavy. He had a beard that would make a lumberjack proud and deep set green eyes almost hidden behind the giant caterpillars that were his eyebrows. Clearing his throat he brought a megaphone to his lips.

    ”EVERYONE! CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE.” He bellowed with a voice that would give a truck horn a run for its money. ”For those of you who do not know me. I am Jebbidah Hayes, Elected Mayor of Ambrosia. I wanted to take the time to personally thank each and every one of you brave souls who have decided. This journey won' be easy. He won't be over anytime soon. Each of you hav your own reasons to leave and search fortune. Know that Ambrosia is with you, and that if we succeed in this, Ambrosia will never forget you!” At this there was a cheer from the crowd. Men and women hollering like only would be frontiersmen could. ”Now. Allow me to introduce the head of the expedition; Jezebel Horn. A woman who was the very opposite of the old, large mayor stepped onto the platform. She was tall, slender and had a air of calm, collected confidence. The Mayor offered her his megaphone but she declined. She wore some sort of a collar withe a large accustic crystal fixed in the middle. When she spoke, it was like she you were right next to her. There was no distortion or discomfort.

    ”Hello Brave pioneers. I am Jezebel Horn, Head of the Red Summit expedition. I know all of you have signed up with different companies. And that is all fine and well. But I am the authority in the end. It is my job we get there, that we achieve what we came to do. There will be sacrifices, this is not a safe journey. The second we leave the outer borders, we are basicly traversing uncharted land. We do not know if there are beasts we never seen, if there is bandits or just hostile and isolated settlements out there. You all carry guns for a reason. Be careful.” She leaned back and held up a small red box. ”By now, your company liaisons have set up their departure protocols. I expect all of you to do your best.” And with that she left, stepping off the platform and stepping inside what looks like a APC of some kind. No doubt a old machine outfitted with the magi-tech of post fall technology. And with that, the last calls for people to gather before roll out was called. The caravan began to move.

    Some Caravan Logistic details.

    Harleys Armaments; Alfonse, Simone
    Harley have seen it fit to provide the convoy with most of its mounted guns. Alfonse will find himself asked to ride with one of the more agile and less heavily armed cars of HA's part of the convoy. Expect burly men and women with guns. Also, minimal contact with Magitech, no doubt to Simones relief.

    Ambrosian Crystal Foundation; Thandie, Jaina, Noah
    The Crystal foundation have their stuff in the middle of the caravan. Their trailers are holding some of the most delicate and valuable stuff, and there are plenty of gunmen at hand aswell as other insurence polices. The Contracted engineers will find themselves in one of said trailers, overseeing a lot of crystals. Step lightly! Meanwhile, Noah and Jaina will find that they are both ONTOP of said trailer, special railings fitted for them to hold onto. A mounted gun is on the front and back, both manned. The Foundation taking no chances.
  13. Ambrosian Crystal Foundation- Atop the Caravan Trailer

    Noah rubbed his chin, keeping noticeably close to the railing, a hand on it at nearly all times. It wasn’t the case that he got motion sickness, nor was he exactly skittish on such a big vehicle it was simply that he preferred to travel by foot or personal vehicle. He had bit down a touch of bile earlier and had completely surpassed the strangely nauseous feeling that came along with being perched atop the caravan. Smooth sailing ahead, he imagined, as he began to stand up straighter and venture away from the rail to pace back and forth, watching the bleak scenery pass, occasionally glancing at the woman who was stationed with him.

    The mounted guns continued to be a source of fascination for him as he let his eyes roam over the surroundings and the rest of the caravan. They seemed like they must have cost more than he ever made in a single year and the steely figures that manned them appeared to be the unblinking, hard-assed kind of people who got paid by the hour of unbroken concentration. He didn’t pride himself on being the most observant of men, so he figured that perhaps he’d better leave the surveys to the likes of them.

    As he let his mind wander over the vast expanse, he suddenly remembered the blonde’s name was Jaina, as they’d been thrown together and hastily half-introduced before boarding. She stood just a bit taller than him, looked to be the athletic sort, and he wracked his brain, trying to figure out why she was ringing a mental bell. Looking at the cars ahead of them, he noticed them jostling and he realized they were about to hit a large rut or something, and he moved innocuously towards the rail Jaina was holding, standing a reasonable distance away, gripping it tightly as the vehicle bumped and rattled, the sound of concerned engineers shuffling and cargo scraping along below them continuing for a moment after the skeleton-rattling dip. He seized the moment to clear his throat and recover from his faux pas by attempting to strike up some conversation.

    “Are you a monster hunter? I seem to recall hearing about a Jaina from several satisfied customers of yours. News of your work travels fast,” he stood up a little straighter and turned so that the still singed side of his face wouldn’t be the first thing she saw. He offered a hand in greeting, shoving the other in his pocket.
  14. Alfonso had missed the mayor man's speech, but returned with a large duffle style bag that he had kept to one side of the massive crowd. He slithered his way through the mess of vehicles and guns, narrowly avoiding running into several large burly men with equally large and burly rifles. The sort of people that signed on with Harley didn't seem to be his sort, but he probably knew that before he signed up. Most of these men were just here for the paycheck and to maybe see something new while they watched the massive convoy. Alfonso was here for more.

    He found his way to the vehicle that he had been assigned to. It was a pick-up truck that had been modified to fit a very large machine gun to it. It also seemed to come with the biggest and burliest of the big burly men under Harley's employ. "Well then," Alfonso began to speak as he tossed his bag into the back of the truck, "We should get a move on, right?" He climbed into the back of the truck and sat on his bag. It provided a good cushion as it was just filled with clothes and tools for working with locks of various sorts. He gave the city one last look before the truck moved out and began its journey into a new world. All Alfonso could think while he gazed into the endless wasteland in front of him was that he was glad to be rid of the city. He had no plans of ever returning.
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