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  #1  
Unread 18th of January, 2013, 22:32
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On the first morning of the siege

On the first morning of the siege of Slammer Keep, a lone shot called out from the distant eastern hills, sands a shimmering reflection of that glorious golden dawn, when the thin purple glow of night clashes with the brilliant red of day, the sun bursting over the horizon in terrible splendor, bathing the land in ringing echoes of fire, baking it dry like clay, thick trees and squat cacti and parched grass suffering bravely to break up the smoothly rolling horizon with little tufts and jags of blackened green.
A watcher on the north tower grunted, wiped his brow, hissed dryly at the accursed sun, and shielded his eyes to peer over at the east, at the shot, and then focus on the eastern watchtower. It was unmanned.

Parson was rudely awoken, earlier than he'd like. It was BeeBee. Shit, trouble. Culler'd been shot, once cleanly through the head, then nothing more, no follow-up. They'd heard it far off from the eastern hills, but neither Liverbitch nor Borv had seen the shooter. Which wasn't saying much, the bastard had used the cover of dawn.

Nero heard the shot. A hunter, probably. He was just in the market, the day crew setting up, transients packing, Gristle trying to catch them with their mind on something else. A few glanced over, at the walls, at the clearly distant shot, as if they could somehow glean anything further, but ignored it otherwise. Nothing serious, nothing new.

Burroughs slept fitfully, dreaming of fire and hateful glee. The dreams had lasted a week at the least, becoming more and more focused, more clear. Eyes, brilliant and familiar and featureless, pure round trembling orbs mirroring the ever-watching vengeful sky. Formless bodies dancing naked around the pit, throats acrid and raw, soundless chanting spewing joyful smoke up and up into blackness, deeper and darker than any night, buoying up rage and malice to rain down like ash.

Some stuff:
Parson, the hold's autonomic response is up to you. Is a scout already out in the hills, or are you going to have to order it yourself?
Nero, what are you planning? Any further gigs? Stiletto hasn't been heard from in a while, she doesn't have anything for you right now.
Burroughs, something's wrong. Your dreams, even the weird ones, are normally much different. You can try to go deeper, or put it off and wake up. Either way, tell me about some weird shit that's been going on that only you seem to notice or care about.
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Unread 19th of January, 2013, 01:02
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"Any word from Jager's group?" Parson asked, rubbing the dirt out of his eyes and fumbling for his first cigarette of the day. It wasn't that crap that most of the rest of the hold smoked either, but actual tobacco. The smoke was harsh on his lungs, and he had this eprsistent cough that he knew couldn't be good, but he'd be damned if he'd give the things up.
Jager should have been out with his team in the eastern hills, watching for just this kind of trouble.

"Make the announcement that we've got an opening. See if anyone wants it."
That was standard. A body falls, got to find someone to fill the space. Culler wouldn't be missed by many, but a few might.
"Culler was seeing what's her name. Tall skinny bitch. Stem, I think. Waive this month's rent for her. Least I could do." Truth was Parson could do a lot less, and often did, but it sent a good message to the rest of the hold. It said, "I care," even if he really didn't.

He got up, stretched. "Any other trouble?" he asked, pulling on his shirt and pants, followed by his jacket, the one lined with kevlar.
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Unread 19th of January, 2013, 01:30
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"No, nothing. Bastard must've slipped by."
BeeBee frowned, wrinkling her nose. "Recently they keep getting gear broke or misplaced, but they've said they couldn't spot anyone. I'd chalk it up to the weed, except they're clean, so then I figured it was just shit breaking and bad luck, but with this... seems like maybe someone's hassling us. Except I can't imagine how someone could manage that for days and days, Jager isn't stupid or blind."

She frowned, glancing off to the side.
"His team's fanning out right now. Nothing else new, and yeah I've already got someone filling in on east tower. I'll have it settled."
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Unread 19th of January, 2013, 01:35
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"Fine, fine, you eat yet?" Parson asked. "Send whoever's on door duty to get me some food. And not from Gristle this time. It wasn't funny then, and I won't be laughing now."

He took a long slow drag on the cig. "Post a reward. Two in jingle or trade for the person that brings back the rifle that did this. No questions asked. I don't think it will net us much, but who knows."
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Unread 19th of January, 2013, 02:02
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BeeBee grinned briefly at the mention of Gristle, but headed out without comment.
She paused at the doorframe, looking back. "I'll get on that, but I really suggest you think up some other plans too. Yeah?"
She smiled for a moment again, then left Parson to his office.

Easier said than done. Hmmph.
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Unread 19th of January, 2013, 03:50
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Nero shrugged and returned to his own thoughts. It had been a good couple of days. He'd gotten paid for a job, paid off some of his debt to Parson, and still had enough to play a bit of dice last night (though he ended the night down a bit).

With what bit of jingle he had left, he was looking for some basics to store away, more bullets for his 9mm and some travel grub in case he finds a scavenging gig.
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Unread 19th of January, 2013, 06:00
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Burroughs plunged deeper into the dreams, the bullet's crack forgotten almost immediately after hir ears registered it. The chaos of the Maelstrom had been particularly active for longer than usual, and with it came an increase in the clarity of the nightmares. The usual strange images had given way to an almost demonic presence of evil. Even more evil that usually existed in the wastes. Zie opened hir brain even wider, trying to capture all of the diabolic glee before it could be torn away from hir with a knock on the door.


Burroughs has noticed, although others don't seem to have, that there has been an increase in both static electricity and weak magnetic attraction. It's barely noticeable, especially for people who don't deal a lot with metals and electronics.

Last edited by Mercutio; 19th of January, 2013 at 06:04.
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  #8  
Unread 19th of January, 2013, 08:34
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Nero trudged past merchants, keeping an eye out for anything worthwhile. They were still setting up shop. He swung out near the edge, by the farms. Maybe he could catch some harvest while it was fresh?
There was a brief scuffle in his peripheral vision. Probably just two hagglers.


Burroughs let hirself slip into the dream, and the cohesive images dissolved into what would be to anyone else psychedelic garble. The taste of red, the sound of ash, the color of hate, shimmering back and forth and around and around. Burroughs could interpret it all; hate had festered for years upon years, becoming honed and hardened like a blade, simmering into a thick paste before finally now getting smeared all over the hold, on its focus. It whipped around like a maelstrom, the sound and touch and smell of hate like trillions upon trillions of grains of sand, overwhelming.

And then, for a moment, it all faded away, and zie was left with the vision of a woman, dark and shadowed in the glow of night, sitting on a rock by a campfire, speaking quietly, too quietly for Burroughs to hear. Scattered around were men and women, her thralls. And on her left was the devil, faceless, with horns arching up, nodding at her unheard words.
Her eyes, red, glanced up at where Burroughs was looking from, and wrinkled a little when she saw hir, and for a terrible moment all that wrath and horror came crashing down on Burroughs, threatening to annihilate hir, utterly, and zie fled, up and out and away, waking with a word on hir lips.
"Witch."


Nero looked up. Someone was running, in the gardens, someone dressed in rags, holding up something... flaming, he could tell, a thin flame coming up from it. The person was laughing, he realized, that was why he'd looked up, laughing terribly. They threw the object at the corn, the precious, fine, high-selling corn that had been cultivated and nurtured over years, and it burst, and the corn was on fire.

Parson was just getting into some papers, when he heard a commotion outside. For a moment he waited, but no out-of-breath messenger came to his doorway.
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Unread 19th of January, 2013, 14:54
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Parson made sure that his sleeve gun was in place, stuck another cigarette between his lips, shuffled his papers and stood up and went outside.

"Sometimes you just have to do a thing yourself," he muttered.
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Unread 20th of January, 2013, 10:31
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"Jesus, fuck!" Nero couldn't understand what the hell he'd just seen. It ... made no sense to him. He knew two things, though. First, he needed to get people's attention to try and fight the blaze. On that front, he began screaming "FIRE! In the Cornfields! Help!" as lous as he possibly could, over and over.

Second thing he knew, he wanted to grab the fucker who set the blaze. On that front, he ran towards the guy in rags with the intent to beat him down and drag his sorry carcass to Parson.

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Unread 20th of January, 2013, 12:41
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Nero clambered over the fence, screaming bloody murder about the fire. A few other people were too, and it was clear that if there was anything that could be done about it, it would.
He landed on the other side, and looked up at the madman. He was just laughing, arms raised, staring up at the thinning gold of morning, laughing and laughing. Nero moved forward, with some caution--was this it?

And then he saw a farmer, running full tilt at the madman, shovel raised, and blind rage plain on his face. That was probably going to end bad.

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Unread 21st of January, 2013, 01:11
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Nero really didn't think it would be a good idea to let the farmer smash the lunatic's head in, even if Nero wanted to do it himself. Better if Nero could somehow interrupt that conflict. It was gonna come down to who was faster, Nero or the farmer.

"Well, fuck me ten ways to Sunday." Nero made his choice and began running head-on towards the madman, looking to tackle him out of the path of the raging farmer.

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Unread 21st of January, 2013, 08:02
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Nero barreled into the madman, knocking him to the ground. The farmer slowed, confused. It was enough for him to suddenly remember the corn was still on fire, and he yelled, dropping the shovel and running back towards the corn, towards the group that had formed trying to put it out.
Nero looked down at the madman. He'd fallen unconscious. Still breathing, at least, with that wild grin still plastered on his face, even in sleep.


Parson walked out of his office, grumbling, confused and irritated. Some people were running back and forth, panicking. One even had a bucket of water out, just sloshing around.
He was about to grab someone and demand an explanation when he overheard 'fire,' like 'put out the fire,' and there was BeeBee, hurrying towards him, out of breath, looking uncharacteristically nervous.
"Boss, there's a fire in the cornfield."
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Unread 21st of January, 2013, 12:13
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Burroughs awoke with a start and briefly looked around, half expecting to see that woman, that--witch--sitting in the small chair across Burroughs' room. But it was empty, just like the open pit in hir stomach. Then zie heard the commotion outside and the shouted word of "Fire!" There wasn't much Burroughs could do about that, but Parson had to know of the coming threat. It'd been awhile since zie had tangled with another adherent of the Maelstrom, but whatever this witch was, Burroughs knew it was nothing good for Slammer Keep. Zie hated going out into the Keep proper, but this was something zie had to do. Burroughs quickly dressed hir feet in the heavy boots zie always wore, and squinted as zie walked out into the morning air.

Burroughs saw BeeBee in Parson's presence. Zie didn't like the girl, but she apparently did her job well enough that Parson kept her around. Burroughs stopped. It was probably better to hang back a bit, until after BeeBee was out of earshot.
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Unread 21st of January, 2013, 12:55
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"Get the sand buckets! The fucking sand buckets!" Parson yelled. If there was one thing the desert had a lot of it was sand, a lot more than it had of water, that was fucking sure. It wasn't as if fires hadn't happened before, but for it to be the corn, and right now.

"Hurry up! BeeBee starting putting a relay together. Do not pull anyone off the towers, make sure they're watching out there and not in here. I don't want anyone deciding that now's a perfect chance to shove their boot up our collective ass? Understand me?"

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Unread 21st of January, 2013, 14:12
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"Yeah we're getting it going already, just like that, Borv's crew is still on the towers, but... boss, someone used a molotov, spread it wide at the start. I think it's already too big for the sand to work, and the corn's up high. We're going to have to use water. I mean, the irrigation system's still set up, you'd just have to raise it and pump some extra through."
She frowned, anxious. "If you think it's too important, we can stick with the sand, it'll at least save some of the beans and the gourds, but otherwise we need to act fast on getting the pipes raised."

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Unread 22nd of January, 2013, 01:39
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"Fine, fine, use the water," Parson all but spat.

He looked around, eyes cold and hard. "They catch the bastard that did this? I want him alive."
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Unread 22nd of January, 2013, 03:02
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Nero looked down at the crazy fucker at his feet. He'd run him down hard, but he didn't think it should have been hard enough to knock the bastard out.

"What a fuckin' mess!" Nero reached down and lifted the body up, throwing it over his shoulder roughly. Thus burdened, he set off to see if he could find Parson.

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Unread 22nd of January, 2013, 03:14
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BeeBee glanced back.
"I don't... I hadn't heard. I need to get going."
She hurried off, leaving Parson in the hallway, alone.


Nero hefted the madman up. Strange, he was pretty light, rail-thin, and... familiar? Yeah, Nero had seen him before, in the hold, a while back. Months even. Guy was a native. He couldn't place where, though, or the guy's name.

BeeBee came running, yelling something at the people that had been getting in a line, just as they were starting to throw sand on the fire. They started milling around, and she got to deflecting arguments and issuing more orders. Distracted, he stopped to watch.
After a little bit, Nero realized they were doing something with the irrigation system. Getting ready to use it? But the water that would take... shit, wow.

BeeBee walked by, still throwing out orders, when she noticed Nero and stopped, pointing at the drooling lump thrown over his shoulder.
"Wait. Nero, yeah. Who's that?"
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Unread 22nd of January, 2013, 03:37
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Nero gave a start when BeeBee spoke. "This here's the fucker that started this mess. Where's Parson?"
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Unread 22nd of January, 2013, 07:40
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As soon as BeeBee was out of ear-shot, Burroughs walked up to Parson. The face-mask seemed to muffle a lot of words, which might have been why Burroughs spoke in short, almost breathless, bursts. But maybe zie just found it hard to put hir thoughts into words. Hir staccato method of speaking was awkward, halting, but zie was able to get hir point across.

"Maelstrom's touchy. Had an experience. Witch. Hatred. Something with devil horns, too. Gunning for us?" Burroughs didn't seem sure. Zie knew that there was a plan at work, but was simply guessing at the witch's goal. Zie continued. "Has followers. Bad news. Scary. Probably hocus. Coincidence?" Here Burroughs paused and pointed out towards the smoking cornfield and then shrugged. "Not much else. Will try later. Need anything?"
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Unread 22nd of January, 2013, 08:11
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"What? Why do you have him? What happened? Has he said anything?"
BeeBee was dismayed, trying to get a good look at the madman.
"Parson's still outside his office, I think Burroughs, the weird guy in the breath mask, wanted to say something to him."
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Unread 23rd of January, 2013, 01:18
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"I saw the fucker laughing, crazy-like. He ran by and tossed a Molotov at the field. Fuckin' hell!"

Nero paused and took a breath. "Farmer was gonna brain him. I tackled him instead. Shouldn't have been enough to knock him out though. I'm gonna bring him to Parson, he can figure out what to do with this lunatic."

With that, Nero turned away and headed for Parson's office.
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Unread 23rd of January, 2013, 01:37
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Parson nodded at Burroughs. Trying to decipher the brainer was touchy at the best of times, but Parson knew from past experience that you ignored hir at your own risk.

"Any idea as to where we can find this witch?" he asked. He thought about offering Burroughs a cigarette, then remembered the mask. He didn't think he'd ever seen hir take it off.

"And stick around. If we find the person that started the fire, I want you to take a look see into what made them do it. Understand?"
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Unread 23rd of January, 2013, 05:42
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Burroughs thought about Parson's question for a few seconds, but nothing from the image really called out a location. "No idea. Close by? Powerful image. Can't travel far. Maybe."

When Parson mentioned interrogation, even if he didn't use those words, Burroughs unconsciously stuck hir right hand in hir pocket, where zie kept hir violation glove when zie wasn't wearing it. Burroughs nodded.

Last edited by Mercutio; 23rd of January, 2013 at 05:50.
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