Archive for category Lone Wolf Theater
I’ve been keeping very busy this week, Story-friends. That means that the Apocalypse World posts have been a bit slower (or non-existant as the case may be). Fear not though! I’ve still been working on them when I haven’t been applying to jobs or watching the Avengers. To prove it, here is the first part of the next chapter. Hope you enjoy!
Sunset hobbles to the nearest chair in the lobby. Millions causally sits down across from him. Dustwich stays behind the counter.
“Heard you got into some trouble with a customer this morning,” Millions says.
“I’ve had some trouble with just about everyone today, I’m hoping you won’t join the list.”
He looks past Millions. “Dustwich. Go get Aitch. Peppering was looking for her outside.”
She looks at Millions for a half second and then goes upstairs.
Millions folds his hands on the table. “Sunset, you’re really putting me in a bind here. First my son-in-law gets killed because of your negligence and now your patrons are coming to me to complain that you’re ripping them off.”
Sunset remains silent. He wonders how this conversation would go if Millions knew about Dice beating him up in front of the market and leaving his custody.
“Tell me,” says Millions, “what would you do to one of your girls in this situation?”
Sunset looks at Millions through the top of his eyes.
“You tell me, Mister Millions, what are you going to do about the attack at Lake Claire?”
The smug smile melts from Millions’s face and he sits up in his chair.
“You didn’t know about that, did you?” Sunset says. “While you’ve been worrying about the repercussions of your son-in-law’s sex partners and the proper price of child rape a man was murdered in the Green Forest.”
“How do you know?” Millions says.
[Read a person: 7+2=hit]
“Who do you think the city went to with this news? The person who could actually help them, they went to Dice.”
Millions stands up abruptly. “You let Dice escape?”
Sunset stays in his seat and looks up at the older man. “I didn’t let her do anything.” He gestures to his blood and fresh bruises. “She doesn’t care about you or me, she cares about the city.”
Millions starts toward the door.
“You used to care about the city too,” Sunset says. Millions stops.
“Maybe it’s time for you to pass the torch? We’re old men, Millions. Dealing with these things are the problems of the young.”
Millions turns around. “You know more than anyone what I had to give up to get my throne. I’ll be dead before I give it up.”
[How could I convince your character to abdicate?]
With that he leaves Sunset alone in the lobby of the library.
Sunset closes his eyes and puts his head in his hands. There is dry blood under his fingernails. He allows himself a minute to rest before sighing and opening his eyes again. He gets up and walks down to Aitch in the infirmary.
Aitch was the only one in the city that had any kind of medical knowledge. She took after her father like that. Her twin sister, Em, took more after their mother.
When Aitch sees Sunset enter the room, she quietly walks up to him. They share a look and she nods. They should be ok. Then she walks upstairs to give him some privacy.
On one cot, October is still sleeping. Sunset walks over to the other cot and looks down at Peppering.
“I’m sorry. You picked a bad time.”
She doesn’t say anything.
“How can I make it up to you?”
She looks up at him, like a child. Like when he first saw her.
“You can bring me Scrib.”
“Ok,” Sunset says as he turns around, “I’ll see what I can do.”
[Fingers in Every Pie: 9+2= Great hit]
[Here is the rest of chapter 4–the thrilling encounter with the Fixies and the mysterious figure in the woods. Dice’s and Mr. Sunset’s sections were kind of long this time around so I opted for a shorter section for October. I think that you’ll agree that that doesn’t mean it’s any less intense.
Hope you enjoy. Feel free to send me any feedback in the comment section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org]
The Fixies ride past the garage and off the sidewalk. The soil of the Green Fire Forest is sandy, less than ideal for bikes. Dice hops off hers and grabs everything she can carry from hers.
“Looks like we’re walking from here,” she says.
She hands the rifle she took from Mr. Sunset to the youngest Fixie, Bits.
[Custom move: 6+1=Hit]
Dice leads them around the forest. They start at Lake Clare and then spread out in widening circles favoring the north. There is little conversation. Dice can’t help but be excited on the hunt. The last few days locked away with Mr. Sunset conspiring against the man she pledged to protect wasn’t fun for her. She glances down at her gun. This is much more her style.
They continue along their spiral for hours. She can’t often see the sun directly in the forest, but Dice can tell that it’s getting late. Probably a couple hours before dark. She knows they should probably leave, but she can’t bring herself to end it.
Dice doesn’t try to hide her smile when Bowdy yells over to everyone.
A bunch of them, led by Dice, walk over to a mound of earth, about half her height. Bowdy is on top of it poking around with a stick.
“Looks like a camp. Definitely a fire pit. Something’s still in here.”
He flips over a metal mesh. His hand covers his mouth. “Oh fuck.”
He backs away from whatever is in the pit and trips in the sandy dirt. He tumbles down the far side of the mound. The Fixies that had gathered around burst into laughter, even Dice, but they stop in an instant as a tree above them shakes.
A large figure jumps out of the tree and lands by Bowdy on the other side of the mound. Dice runs around the hill and pulls out her shotgun. She’s just in time to see a huge … man like creature holding Bowdy off the ground. One of its massive clawed hands grip Bowdy’s leg, the other hand has his arm. All at once it looks at Dice with eyes that are far too human and it pulls Bowdy apart.
She gives herself exactly one second to react to this and then lifts the shotgun up and fires. The monster twists around with the force of the shot and then runs off on all fours.
Dice looks over her shoulder. Her Fixies are dumbfounded. “What’s everyone waiting for? Drop this fucker.”
Dice runs off after it.
[Seize by force: 7+2=Hit]
[Fixies deal 2h,+1 terrible, -1 armor]
[Fucker deals 3harm]
Some of the Fixies, led by Partridge, cut the fucker off and attack it. Before Dice’s group can catch up to flank it, it swats Partridge and knocks him off his feet. It slams its way through the other Fixies and continues into the forest.
The last group, this one led by Iv and Iii, ambush it again. This one doesn’t go as well.
It picks up a Fixie and throws it into a tree. Then it swats a couple more. It doesn’t look like they’ll be getting up. It claws Iii and she goes down. Iv stops to help her and Dice sees that there’s just one last Fixie left in the group. Bits.
He shoots it with his new rifle right in the leg. It lets out a roar that sounds much too human and grabs Bits by the collar of his shirt and runs off again.
Its leg is pretty fucked up and Dice and Partridge don’t have much trouble overtaking it. When it finally hits the dirt Partridge keeps running and shoots it a couple more times in the head.
“Stop it,” Dice says. “You’re wasting ammo.”
Dice pries the fucker’s fingers off of Bits. He’s unconscious but still alive. Somehow.
Dice stands up as a handful of other Fixies catch up to them. She looks down at the fucker. It’s probably double Bits’s height with arms about as thick as his whole body. Bulbous, scaly growths protrude from various parts of its body. Dice rolls it onto its back, which is a bit of a struggle.
Its face was supposed to be human, but something went wrong. A mutant.
She’d seen mutants born before, but it was a generally accepting practice to put them out of their misery. What kind of monster would let one grow up?
Her head turns to the southeast. This was the Towers’s backyard. They had to have something to do with it.
October wakes up on a cot. Her head hurts. She tries to remember who she slept with.
She’s startled by a voice next to her.
“You know I wasn’t born in Uni City?” Peppering says.
October looks to her left a little too fast. It feels like she was stabbed in her forehead. Then she remembers that Peppering hit her in the forest.
Peppering sits next to October’s bed. She’s not looking at October.
“We came from a city a few days to the southwest. Millennia. There was the little boy there. Could hunt or fight, scrawny, shy. But smart. Real smart. Unnaturally smart.”
Knightro, October’s scalecat, jumps up into Peppering’s lap and she starts to pet him.
“When he got older people started to notice he had a way of getting what he wanted. He could convince people to do pretty much anything. And he knew things. Things he shouldn’t, couldn’t, know.”
October was studying Peppering. She noticed that her knees were wrapped in bloody rags and two old crutches were leaning against the wall beside her.
“They killed him of course. Hung him from a tree. They cut him down when the birds refused to touch him. They cut him into pieces and buried them in secret places. Each family got a slice to hide.”
October’s heart was pounding now.
“These are dangerous times. It’s hard enough to deal with what we know, but this boy, well, no one knew what he was. Something not normal. Your instinct is to punish them, the others, to fear them. But I wasn’t afraid of this boy. He was my brother.”
Peppering looks into October’s eyes.
“You’re like him. You did something to Tum Tum.”
“Yeah,” October says. There’s not much point lying.
“Pretty much everyone you give a second look falls in love with you. I bet you’re ruined a lot of people that way.”
October nods. It’s not quite guilt that she feels. Closer to pity, but that might be giving her too much credit.
“It would just take one person to connect the dots for the people here, and then you’d be hanging from a tree.”
“You might be right,” October says.
Peppering gently pushes Knightro off her lap and stands up. “Stay away from Scrib.”
October stares at her blankly. “Ok.”
Peppering puts the crutches under her arms and hobbles to the doorway. “Aitch said you should take it easy for the next few days, but otherwise you should be fine.”
Then Peppering leaves October alone with her thoughts.
[Whew, I’ve been a bit distracted and/or busy this week. I apologize for the slow posting. Hopefully this action-packed tale of Mr. Sunset should make up for it a little. The next section will be up this weekend. Also, I made a photo picture thing.]
Mr. Sunset shuts the door to the metal door behind him. He’s in Rolfball’s private office at the top floor of the market. A life-sized lizard man statue stared at him. It was old and chipped. It was obviously from the Time Before. He wondered if all these lizard men were killed off and also why this one wore such dark glasses.
“Have a seat, Sunset.”
Sunset sits down and stows the oblong box he was carrying under his chair. Rolfball is about as old as Sunset, maybe older. He’s never accepted the title of Mr. like Sunset and Millions did, even though he had as much right to it as they did. Rolfball and his mother rebuilt the ruins of the old Student Union and the grounds around it into the market. His mom died mysteriously, and he almost went with her, but Rolfball was a survivor—the one key trait of success in Uni City.
“I need guns. I need it to be quiet.”
Rolfball sits down at his table and smiles. “What makes you think I have any guns? Or any notion of secrecy, for that matter?”
Mr. Sunset stares at him, then the corner of his mouth curls despite himself. Rolfball bursts into laughter.
“Ok, ok. I guess I still owe you one or two,” Rolfball says.
“Who’s keeping track?”
Rolfball gets up and starts peaking into various crates scattered around the office. “Oh, right. I forgot. You don’t keep tallies until you’re ready to call them in. What’s in the box?”
Sunset slides the box he brought out from under his chair and opens it. There are about 40 shirts and pants plus a few random clothes, vests, slings, underwear, and the like. They were all hand sewn by his girls from pretty much anything fabric-like they could find.
Rolfball stands on his toes to look into the box from across the room. He takes out two rifles and a tiny leather pouch on a string.
“I’m willing to part with these two. Got some ammo here too. A bit at least. Plus, I’m going to want a favor in the future.”
Sunset stands up and takes the rifles. “Excuse me?”
“Hey, this is the family discount I’m giving you here. These are prime rifles. You know how much these run for downstairs?”
“They would just be collecting rust until Millions comes to requisition them.”
“Millions knows better than that,” Rolfball says. But he hands him another pouch of ammo anyway.
The two men shake and Sunset tips his hat on his way out.
“You’ve always been fair with me any my girls. Don’t think that I’ll forget that in the coming weeks.”
As Sunset walks out the door, Rolfball mumbles something under his breath.
Sunset takes a canvas bag on his way out and hides the guns in it. The market is still pretty busy, but he’s getting more stares than he’d like since he’s walking around the market without any girls.
As soon as he steps outside he sees several Fixies speed by up ahead. He doesn’t think too much of it until he notices that Dice is riding behind them. He takes out a rifle and lets the other hit the ground behind him.
He shoots into the air.
Dice breaks and looks back at him. She circles back around and rides back to Sunset. He’d like to think it was because she was recognizing his temporary authority over her, but the more logical motive is to get an extra gun.
Dice hops off her bike and approaches Sunset. The other Fixies gather around them. On the other side, a crowd has gathered of marketers to see what’s going on.
“Why aren’t you in the office, Dice?”
“Something came up. The otter diver got attacked by Lake Claire. We’re going to make sure it wasn’t the Towers.”
“You’re not going anywhere until Millions decides to try you for Fuse’s death.”
Sunset grips the rifle.
“Roark took my place. I’ll be back.”
Sunset wasn’t having a good day. First Ba, then possibly getting cheated by Rolfball, now this?
“Tell you want,” Sunset says, “I’ll give this gun I just got to the Fixies for their ride if you go back into the library.”
“I think they need me a bit more than another gun. You know how it is. Why are we wasting time here? If we combined our gangs we could gut this invader and really show the city who has their best interests in mind,” Dice says.
Sunset notices without looking that several of the bystanders nod in agreement. This isn’t good. Sunset hasn’t solidified any plans yet. If they play their hands now, Millions could easily crush them before they even got started.
Maybe Dice reads this on his face. Maybe she’s just getting impatient.
“Give me that rifle, Mr. Sunset.”
She walks up to him and holds her hand out. She has a shotgun hanging from a belt strap over her shoulder. Sunset stands up completely and looks down at her. He has the rifle in one hand and his cane in the other. Dice is tough, but he doesn’t think she has it in her, not after the days they’ve spent planning together recently.
And that’s where Sunset is wrong.
(Sunset interferes: 9+2=great hit)
(Dice tries to seize by force: 8+2-2= hit)
She lunges for the rifle without even breaking her gaze.
Sunset throws it a few feet behind him and wracks her in the crotch with his cane. Looks like Dice underestimated Sunset a bit too.
She instinctually leans over in pain just as Sunset brings his cane up into her chin. He reverses the momentum and slams the cane into her ribs.
It’s obvious that Dice wasn’t expecting so much fight in Sunset. She loses her balance and drops to a knee.
[Harm: 9+2-1=terrible hit]
[It’s worse that it seemed= 2 harm]
“You stupid mother fucker,” one of the Fixies shouts. The Fixies are silently getting off their bikes and moving toward Sunset.
Dice stares at her toes then puts a hand up to stop them. “Stay there, Bowdy.”
She looks up at Sunset. No, she looks past him. Sunset realizes she must be eyeing the crowd of onlookers from the market. He was sure it had grown by now. He realizes that, while it’s pretty bad for him to show weakness in front of Uni Citizens, it must be outright dangerous for her.
Before he can think of a way for them to get out of this fight, Dice tackles him.
[Sunset interferes: 8+2=great hit]
[Dice tries to seize her freedom by force: 10+2-2]
[Terrible harm, Dismay, and Take hold]
He’s on the ground and pain is exploding behind his eyes. He’s already bee hit three or four times before he realizes that Dice is on his chest bashing in his face with the butt of her shotgun.
She holds it above him and looks down. She doesn’t seem angry at all. Sunset’s vision is blurred, but he’s pretty sure she looks scared.
“Do you yield, Mr. Sunset?”
She’s not even looking at him. He follows her eyes back to the crowd behind them. Then he glances at the Fixies. It also dawns on him that she’s carrying a fucking shotgun. If she wanted to kill him, he’d be dead. This was all posturing.
He puts his hand up. A yield.
She gets off him and grabs the rifle he threw. She either doesn’t notice or passes over the other rifle in the bag.
Sunset rolls to his side and spits stringy wads of bloody phlegm onto the cracked sidewalk as the Fixies take off and the crowd disperses.
Sunset leans on his cane and staggers to his feet. He takes the other rifle and limps back to the library.
On the way he tries to think of the positives. There weren’t a lot. It won’t be so bad as long as Mr. Millions doesn’t find out.
Sunset’s train of thought is interrupted by Peppering. She was waiting for him at the library’s main entrance. She stomps up to him and blocks his path.
“Where the fuck is Scrib?”
“I have no idea. Getting guns for me hopefully.”
“Cut the bullshit. If anyone knows where he is, it’s you.” She takes her bat from her back. “I’m not your girl anymore. When I need to know something, you tell me.”
“I don’t often get mad. I’ve built a reputation as an evenhanded and fair gentleman. I’ve never forced them to do something they didn’t want to do or used violence against them. I’ve tried not to even raise my voice if I can help it,” Sunset says.
He grips his cane and stares into her eyes.
“But I’ve had really shitty day and I don’t really have time to get mixed up in a lovers’ quarrel.”
[Going aggro 9+2=great hit]
He grabs the bottom of his cane and rips it off, revealing a thin blade at the end of it. In a fluid motion that Peppering might have called beautiful in different circumstances, Sunset slices a gash under both of her knees. She collapses at his feet.
Sunset takes the false bottom of his cane and slides it back over the blade. Then he continues walking to the library.
Without looking back he says, “And, you’re right. You’re not my girl anymore.”
He throws the door open so hard that it slams against the wall. “We’ve got a problem,” he says to whoever’s in the lobby.
His shoulder sink when he sees that there are only two people in the normally bustling lobby. Mr. Millions frowns and says, “You’re right about that.”
Behind him, Dustwich tries to contain a grin.
[Hoard 4+1=miss +4 hunger]
Scrib starts his search for guns for October. He leaves his room and goes to the lobby. Peppering stops him. She still has her bat.
“Where are you going?”
I don’t really know. The market, I guess, he wants to say. Instead he hears himself say, “I need to look for something downstairs.”
“Ok,” Peppering says, a bit confused. “Want me to help?”
“No, how about you keep an eye on October. Make sure she doesn’t do anything … rash.”
She might have protested but he turned around and walked back to the stairs before he finished the sentence. He feels the pull of his books.
He starts digging around behind the stacks of books and feels the voices. The whispers that have followed him since he read his first word. His mind drifts.
[Search hoard: 5+2=hit, +1 hunger]
Scrib stood outside Flavor’s door. This was last week. He had to tell her that her husband is dead. His first job as Mr. Million’s lackey.
She opened the door with a blank expression. Scrib realized that he had never actually spoken to her. She didn’t look much like the princesses he read about in the library. She was plain, small, birdlike.
“What is it?” she said.
“Can I come in for a minute?”
Flavor responded by walking away from the open door. Scrib wondered in. Scrib’s bedroom was more or less the entire library basement, but he had a good idea of how large most other people’s bedrooms were. Other people from the city might be shocked.
Flavor was already rummaging through a mini-refrigerator. It was the third time Scrib had ever seen one of these.
“Beer, water, or milk?”
Scrib sat down on large couch. He could only count three patches. “Better make it beer.”
She brought them both a jar of dark beer. It was the same kind Mr. Sunset’s girls brewed.
Once she sat down she looked at Scrib. “He’s dead, isn’t he?”
Scrib chewed on his tongue. He couldn’t bring himself to answer so he looked down at his beer.
“It’s ok. I knew it would happen sooner or later. It figures it would happen now.”
Scrib takes a long drink. “I’m sorry.”
“I guess my dad sent you here to be his replacement?”
Scrib mumbled what might be considered an answer.
“Well, you’re off the hook. I didn’t even want to get married the first time. There’s no way I’m going through that again.”
She tilted her jar of beer up and swallowed every drop of beer before she continued.
“And I’m pregnant anyway.”
She said it with such a deadpan that Scrib couldn’t tell if he should say sorry or congratulation. He took another drink instead.
Flavor looked at him. “So, tell me something about yourself.”
Scrib stared at her.
“Something you’ve never told anybody.”
“Uh, ok. Sometimes when I’m writing, it takes over. The words, it’s like they demand to be put down onto paper.”
“What do you write?”
Scrib looked down at his drink again. The last time he told someone about this he was exiled from his home. He glanced back at Flavor. He got the impression not much could disturb her.
“Sometimes gibberish. Sometimes things that happened a long time ago. Most of the time it’s things that will happen.”
Flavor stood up and went back into the food area. She returned with a long sheet of homemade paper.
Scrib slowly took out his pen. He closed his eyes and listened for the words.
[Open brain: 6+2=hit]
He felt his hand moving. After a few seconds he opened his eyes. He followed Flavor’s eyes down to the paper.
“You are the only one that can save this baby when her grandfather dies.”
Scrib slowly realizes that he is actually looking down at a device he is holding. He’s on his knees in the middle of his book hoard. He turns the device over in his hands.
“A pain wave transmitter.” This is Scrib’s voice, but the words aren’t his.
[Hoard 2+2=miss, +1 hunger]
The words tell him to find Nils to install it in Mr. Sunset’s makeshift cell.
He takes an old guidebook out of the hoard. He’s read it a hundred times. Nils had been asking for books like this since he moved to the city.
[Market 11+2-1=great hit]
There’s something else the words write down in his notebook, but Scrib forces himself not to think about it.
“Death waits in the forest.”
[Here’s the much awaited final part of chapter 3. This format worked out pretty well, so I’ll keep it up for next week. Worked well for me, at least. Feel free to send leave any feedback. Enjoy!]
October leaves Scrib while he’s stepping into his shorts. She almost runs into the new girl, Exit, as she leaves. Exit’s face turns red and she hustles up the stairs to the café. She must have been listening to them. October smiles. If anyone had seen it, they wouldn’t mistake it for a nice smile.
October went to the counter of the café. Em was there. One of the girls.
Peppering came up behind her. October looks her over. She’s made a harness made out of knotted straps that might have come from a dress. October leans over and notices that the harness holds Peppering’s metal bat on her back. “Can I help you?”
“I doubt it,” Peppering says. “Scrib said I need to watch over you today. Heard you got a wittle scared today.”
October glares at her. She’s ready to convince her to leave her alone, but then October thinks that having a bodyguard under her control might not be a bad idea.
She shrugs and faces Em behind the counter, who hasn’t even tried to hide the fact that she was eavesdropping on their conversation. “Can I have some otter eggs?”
Em shakes her head. “None left. Tum Tum was supposed to bring some by yesterday but he’s not back yet. We have some bread. Might be a good time to grab some of that since I doubt Ba will be bringing us more anytime soon.”
October frowns. Then she looks at Peppering. “Ok, let’s go find him.”
Peppering isn’t too excited, but they go to the market. Tum Tum isn’t at his usual spot, but his teenage son, Horseface, is tending his cart. There are a few otter skins, and some meat, but no eggs.
“C-can I help you or anything?” he says.
“Where’s you dad? He’s supposed to give us some eggs today.”
“Uh, he was supposed to be here, but I guess he’s still at Lake Claire.”
“It’s past noon. Has he ever been this late?” Peppering says.
Horseface shakes his head. October can see he’s scared. Even though she uses him pretty regularly, October likes Tum Tum. At least as much as October can like someone.
She looks at Peppering and glances at her bat. “Ok, let’s go find him. I was looking forward to my eggs this morning.”
Lake Claire is a couple hours north. Since it’s relatively close to the Towers, they were going to need to talk to a Fixie to get permission to walk past the Garage Dee. Roark is the one on duty when they get there.
It doesn’t take much for October to convince him not only to let them go, but to escort them to the lake.
(Seduce or manipulate: 8+3=great hit)
He shrugs and swings a broken table leg over his shoulder. “Sure.”
“That was easy,” Peppering says.
“Yeah well Partridge, was supposed to take over for me by now anyway,” he says, “Way I figure it, if anyone crosses the border, it’s on him.”
That’s good enough, October thought. She looked around at the strange group she had somehow assembled and led them off into the overgrown woods.
Horseface said his father’s diving spot was a couple hours’ walk from the city. Apparently the otters clustered around the northern shore. This was not a fun trek for October. If there was one thing she hated more than small talk it was nature. It was a strange blessing when they heard Tum Tum groaning ahead of them.
Horseface and Roark sprints ahead. October’s stomach tightens. In a flash of belated insight, she realizes how terrible this plan was. If Tum Tum was attacked by someone—someone from the Towers, a Lockheed soldier, or worst of all, a Wilder—she would very likely die. Or more likely get raped and then die.
Horseface drops to his knees ahead of them. October can’t see what he’s looking at. Unconsciously she grabs Peppering’s hand. Peppering takes her bat out and leads October toward the scene.
Roark’s already got his club out and has his back to Horseface. October looks down and sees Tum Tum lying on the grass, unconscious. It takes her mind a second to grasp what’s wrong, and then it hits her—Tum Tum’s left arm has been ripped off.
Everything goes silent for October. She stares at Tum Tum. Sandy dirt stuck to his face in a pattern that reminded her of how his sweat dripped from his brow when they had sex.
The other three hear something closer to the lake, but October can’t hear anything over the blood pulsing behind her ears. Peppering lets go over her hand. The three of them run off toward the sound, even Horseface. October walks to Tum Tum at looks at the russet pool of mud that has collected by what was left of Tum Tum’s arm.
She kneels down and feels a power around her and Tum Tum. She concentrates and brings it toward her. October cradles it like a baby and accepts it into her. Then she leans down and kisses Tum Tum. She feels the power rise in her chest, then rise into her throat and back down into Tum Tum.
(Healing touch: 5+1=miss!)
October falls down into darkness.
He opens his eyes. He is Tum Tum. He looks into the murky water of Lake Claire. Why did he open his eyes? He knows better than that. Now he’ll probably have pink eye for the next month. Hopefully that won’t keep October from seeing him again.
He feels around in the sand of the lake and feels a slick patch of slime that can only be a clutch of otter eggs. He scoops them into his satchel and swims for the surface. He does some quick math, he should have enough eggs and meat to give to October and her friends. It might be rough this month for him and Horseface, but they can make it. They’ve lived through worse. Maybe if he keeps up her supply long enough, October will be his new mom.
Tum Tum breaks the surface of the water, but keeps his eyes shut until he reaches the shore. Hopefully the pink eye will go away faster if he keeps them closed as long as possible. When he finally opens them he’s looking at a pair of boots. This is confusing. He’s much more confused when rough hands grab him by the armpits and rip him out of the water. He frantically looks for the thing’s face, but his head flies back into a scream when whatever it is bites into his bicep.
Tum Tum remembers one day in his childhood. It was his tenth birthday. His father brought him home a present. It was a tiny bag, not much bigger than his own hand, folded into thirds. His father tore off a thin layer of clear plastic; Tum Tum hadn’t even noticed it before.
He smiled at Tum Tum. “Go get the frying pan and start up the fire. We need to heat this.”
In a few minutes over the fire something jumped inside the bag. Then it jumped again. Then dozens, hundreds of tiny pops exploded inside the bag until it grew fat. His father opened it up and dark smoke poured out of it. It smelled like sweet lard and fire.
Tum Tum’s father cursed. Apparently he’d burned whatever was inside. He spend what seemed like forever cutting the black away from sparse chunks of pure white.
He handed the chunks to Tum Tum. “Popcorn,” he said.
He heard the quick popping again from, was it under his shirt? He put his chin to his chest just in time to watch his arm ripped out of the socket. Broken sinew and blood vessels hung from his body’s new opening.
Whatever had picked him up threw him to the ground and ran off into the woods. Tum Tum found that if he angled his stump he could just see the hint of what could be white. As he passed out he hoped it would be popcorn.
She’s back. Peppering is shaking October awake.
“Fucking hell, October.”
“I was Tum Tum. I was in his head. I mean I saw his memory,” October says.
Peppering tilts her head.
“What happened?” Horseface says from behind Peppering.
October is about to answer, but Tum Tum coughs. Everyone explodes into action and helps him to his feet. October sees that one of them has ripped up Roark’s shirt and tied it around Tum Tum’s stump.
Tum Tum looks into October’s eyes. He has to be in pain, but his eyes show more than she would have guessed.
“I was in your head,” he says. It’s more a croak than words.
“Shh, save your strength. We can talk when we get you back to Uni City,” Horseface says.
He ignores him. “You had sex with Scrib.”
October almost feels guilty for perhaps the first time she can remember. But then her sense of self-preservation kicks in and she glances at Peppering. October turns just in time to see Peppering’s bat smash into her face.
Dice is doing push ups in Mr. Sunset’s office, her “cell.” And why not? What else can she do? She stops and stares at the door. Voices on the other side.
Dice gets to her feet as Roark and one of Sunset’s girls barges into the office. The girl is trying to hold him back, but there’s no chance of her stopping Roark.
“Where’s your shirt, Roark?” Dice asks.
“You can’t be in here,” the girl says. That was one of the twins. What was her name again?
“Tum Tum, that fisherman, was attacked by someone up by Lake Claire,” Roark says.
Dice squints her eyes. “Is he dead?”
“No, but his arm was ripped off. It looks like it was bitten.”
The girl gasps. “Where is he now?” she says.
“We left him in Garage Dee. October got hurt too.”
Dice tries not to smile hearing about October.
“Oh gods. Go get my sister.”
“I don’t know if a medic can help him anymore,” Roark says.
Oh, she’s the non-medic twin.
Dice feels October for a second. She has no idea how, but Dice feels October pushing her to talk.
“Em, right? We’re going to need to end my stay here. Or at least put it on hold for a while. This sounds like an act of war. I doubt Mr. Millions, and especially not Mr. Sunset, would want me to stay in here while our citizens are being maimed.”
(Dice tries to seduce, October aids and calls in a hold:
October aid: 11+2=great hit
Dice seduce: 6+0+1+1=hit)
“Ugh, I don’t know,” Em says.
“Ok, Roark will stay in my place.”
“What?” Roark says.
“Shut up, Roark,” Dice says.
Em considers. “Uh, ok. I guess so.”
“Roark, help her bring the fisherman to Em’s sister, then come back here and stay till I tell you otherwise.”
Roark knows better than to argue at this point.
Em starts to leave, but Dice stops her and holds out her hand. “Give me that shotgun.”
Em hesitates for an appropriate amount of time before handing it over.
Dice leaves them and rushes out to the front of the library. She wonders how soon she can get the Fixies together.
When she opens the doors she stops abruptly.
The whole gang, minus Roark and Juck were facing her. Each was on their bike save Partridge. He walks Dice’s bike up to her. When she grabs it he returns to his own bike and flips on to it. “Ready, boss?”
Dice puts the shotgun over her handlebars and rides off with a huge smile.
(Hoard 6+1=Hold 1)
Scrib stares blankly at the wall in front of him. His left hand is furiously scribbling into a notebook.
(Open your mind to the psychic maelstrom: 11+2=great hit)
“The rage of the forest disarms the harvester.”
Scrib blinks and his hand slows. Someone had just spoken to him.
“What does that mean?”
He looks behind him. It’s Peppering reading over his shoulder. He quickly shuts the notebook. “Nothing. I don’t know. What’s wrong?”
Peppering almost answers, but she’s interrupted by the jingling of the beaded curtain that leads to his bedroom and workspace.
It’s October. Scrib’s heart skips a beat. A few beats. It’s possible he suffers cardiac arrest, but he stands up.
“Hey Pep, I need some alone time with Scrib.”
Peppering picks up her trusty metal baseball bat, but Scrib puts his hand on her arm. “It’s ok, Pepper.”
Peppering is not happy about this, but Scrib’s full attention is already back on October. He doesn’t notice when she stops at the curtain and looks back at him, hoping he might change his mind. He doesn’t.
When they’re alone October strolls around Scrib’s room. “Did you hear what happened upstairs?”
“Sounded like someone was getting rowdy.”
“Yeah, someone got rowdy enough to almost knock Mr. Sunset out,” she says. She picks up one of Scrib’s notebooks and flips through it. Scrib squirms in his seat.
“I’m worried, Scrib,” she says. He walks over to her and closes the notebook. She looks up at him and touches his hand on the notebook.
“Maybe you could ask Mr. Millions to give us some real weapons.”
Scrib focuses on October’s hand. It’s so warm it seems to burn him, but he doesn’t move it.
“I don’t think he’d go for that,” Scrib says.
She moves her hand up to his shoulder. It’s a practiced movement and gives him chills and hot flashes at the same time.
“Well, he put us in charge of guarding Uni’s best warrior. And you have so much influence over him now that what’s his name is dead.”
“I don’t know,” he says. He’s not paying much attention to what she’s saying.
Her hand glides under his shirt and then up his chest. She leans in and whispers into his ear. “I guess you’re going to make me convince you.”
(October Seduce or manipulate: 4+3=hit
He marks xp if he gets them guns.)
Then they fuck.
(October holds 3 on him.)
(Scrib asks some questions:
How can I make this mine?
Convince her it will help her position)
(Who will stand in my way?
Just about everyone. Most of all Sunset and Peppering.)
(What is it truly worth?
Not a whole lot. She might be more trouble than it’s worth. Although everyone would respect him pretty much instantly. )
Afterward Scrib stares at the ceiling and blinks. He’s wanted that for so long.
He’s only dimly aware that October is collecting his clothes that she threw around the room. He only looks at her when she drops them in front of him.
“Get a move on, Scrib. We need those weapons.”
[Hey story-friends. I’ve been hard at work on the next installment of Uni City this weekend. Perhaps a bit too hard at work though. I’m already up to 8 pages in Word and I’m not even on the fourth character yet. So to give everyone a more digestible story I’m going to break it up. After today’s expect a new character’s POV to be posted on Monday, another on Wednesday, and the exciting conclusion of this chapter on Friday. This isn’t an April Fools Day joke, I’m serious about trying this out, so please let me if it works better this way or if I should switch back to putting up chapters all at once. Hope you enjoy!]
Mr. Sunset makes his bed and looks at the far end of it. The empty and cold end. He frowns. Knocking at the door almost startles him. He straightens out his coat before telling them to come in.
It’s Missing, the youngest resident of the Library and everyone’s adoptive daughter. “What is it, child?” Mr. Sunset talks like a warm blanket.
“It’s Ba. He’s causing a ruckus in the café. He demands to see you.”
Mr. Sunset rolls his eyes. Ba is a roof farmer who spends all the barter he gets from his wares on Sunset’s girls. This isn’t the first time he’s caused Mr. Sunset and his girl’s trouble. Mr. Sunset grabs his walking stick and nods to Missing to lead the way.
The old café serves as the lobby of and point of purchase for the girls’ services. It’s about the worst place to cause a scene. When Missing and Mr. Sunset descend the stairs Ba is yelling and pointing his fingers while potential customers are shuffling out the door.
Dustwich is the one trying to calm him down. When she sees Mr. Sunset a wave of relief washes over her. “Is there a problem here?”
“A problem?” Ba says “Yeah, there’s a fucking problem. I paid in advance for three weekends with Peppering. That was three weeks ago, you know how many times I’ve seen Peppering?”
Mr. Sunset sighs. He looks at Missing, “Go get Peppering for me, please. She’ll be with Scrib downstairs.” Then he walks to Ba. “Peppering has been very busy. Scrib has employed her since he was promoted by Millions.”
“I don’t give two shits about Scrib. I want what I paid for.”
“Why don’t you have a seat,” Mr. Sunset pulls out an old chair and offers it to Ba. He hesitates for a second and then sits down. “I’ll settle this, Ba. I don’t go back on my word.”
Missing appears at the top of the staircase down to Scrib’s. She waves Mr. Sunset over.
“Fucking better. Thought this was an honest establishment.”
Missing whispers up to Mr. Sunset, “Peppering wants to talk to you.”
He looks over her shoulder and down the flight of stairs. He sees Peppering there looking up at him and frowns again. “I’ll be right back, Ba. Dustwich. Can you get Ba something to drink, please?”
“You’ve always treated me well, Mr. Sunset, but Scrib needs me now.”
“We need you too, baby.”
Peppering looks down. “I’m sorry. Maybe I’ll come back someday. Just not for awhile.”
Mr. Sunset wants to object but looks in her eyes and knows it won’t help.
(Seduce or manipulate: 7+2=hit)
“Fine, I’ll give you an extended … vacation from you main services. But now that you’re in the protection line of work, how about you take a regular shift on guard duty for me?”
Peppering holds her hand own to shake. “I can live with that.”
Mr. Sunset turns on his heels and walks back upstairs.
“Where are you going?” she says. Mr. Sunset ignores her.
“I’m truly sorry to say this Ba, but Peppering won’t be able to fulfill her contract. I can offer you the service of any of the other girls though.”
“You’re fucking shitting me.”
Ba puts his drink on the wooden cable spool table beside him. Mr. Sunset noted that he had ordered the most expensive drink on the menu. It looked like Ba might spit in Mr. Sunset’s face for a second or two, but then he brightened and a smiles spread over his face like an acid rainstorm.
“Ok Mr. Sunset. I can pick any other girl for my three weeks?”
“Right.” Mr. Sunset braced himself. He didn’t like that smile.
“Great. I think I’ll take … hm, how about Missing?”
(Sunset reads a person: 7+1=hit)
(What’s your character intending to do?
Beat the shit out of Missing to teach Sunset a lesson)
That’s all Mr. Sunset can handle. “Missing isn’t old enough.”
Ba stands up. He’s a half head taller than Mr. Sunset. “I don’t give a shit how old she is. We made a deal and you broke it. Then you made a counter offer and you’re going to break that too?”
“You’re going to pick someone else or you’re going to leave.”
“You’re going to honor your deal or I’m going to Mr. Millions and get this whole place shut down.”
(Sunset goes aggro: 5+1=miss)
Missing doesn’t have to comply
Sunset isn’t harmed
Ba doesn’t complain to Millions
He chooses option number 1)
Mr. Sunset swings his walking stick at Ba’s head. Through surprising skill or dumb luck Ba dodges out of the way and grabs the weapon. He wrestles it out of Mr. Sunset’s grip and slams it into his leg.
Mr. Sunset falls to the ground but several girls step out of the background with makeshift weapons. October is among them. Ba looks around and throws the stick across the room and backs toward the door.
“Fuck you Sunset. I’ll make sure Mr. Millions hears about this. You owe me three week’s of barter you little fuck.” He looks at Missing. “Unless you change your mind about that little whore of yours.”
He walks out and slams the door. The girls rush over to Mr. Sunset and help him up.
“I’m fine,” he says, “it’s not broken.”
Missing hands him his cane. She’s close to crying. He gives her chin a light squeeze. “Don’t worry about me, I’ve had much worse.”
He looks at his stick. “Maybe it’s time we took better precautions. Do we still have that shotgun?”
(Fingers in every pie: 10+2=great hit)
“Yeah, I think so. I’ll go grab it,” Franky says.
“We’re going to need more than that. October, come here.”
She walks up to him. It’s the first time they’ve spoken in almost a week.
“Go downstairs and see if you can convince Scrib to get more weapons for us from Millions’s armory. We’re supposed to be guarding Uni City’s best warrior and we don’t have enough weapons to defend against a farmer.”
October presses her thick lips together. She looks bored more than annoyed.
“Maybe if you let me guard this warrior of ours, like I’ve been asking to.”
Mr. Sunset almost goes off on her, but figures it’s not worth it. “Fine.”
(Sunset seduces and manipulates: 9+2=great hit)
(She marks xp if she goes down and acts under fire if she doesn’t.)
October rolls her eyes and goes down to the basement.
[Here’s the last half of the chapter as promised. Leave a comment if you like it. I’m having a blast. Check back at the end of next week for the next installment.]
The gunshots echo through the market. The handful of Uni City residents that actually have enough extra crap to sell to others start packing up; some of them pull out weapons of their own, just in case.
October looks back at Tum Tum and contorts her face into something between pitiful and desperate.
She grabs Tum Tum’s hand across the rusted shopping cart that held the goods he was willing to sell.
“Tum Tum. Come with me. I’m scared.”
Was she? She had gotten so good at making her face show the expressions she wanted that it was sometimes hard for her to tell if she was making them up or not.
Tum Tum lets go of her hand and gets to work arranging his stock to be mobile. October walks around his cart to pull at his arm.
She drenched her voice with need. Need to leave, need to fuck, need to feel again. Whatever it was, it made Tum Tum move that much faster.
They all but ran, with the cart in front of them, back to the library. Only when reinforced door slams behind them does October let herself smile. She embraces Tum Tum in the doorway, making an effort to push her breasts into him.
When she lets go several of Mr. Sunset’s girls surround them and eye the cart of food. October looks at Tum Tum. He hesitates for a moment, but then opens the makeshift lid of his cart for the girls. Tum Tum frowns at the swarm of hungry prostitutes grabbing the salted feather fish and clutches of otter eggs he had spent the better part of a week collecting.
October puts her hand on his arm again. “Don’t worry, I’m going to pay you, remember?” His frown melts into nervous excitement. He really should have known that October would cost him more than one barter.
October leads Tum Tum to her own room and starts lighting some old caramel colored candles and incense. Tum Tum rubs his nose as he sits down on her bed. More a pile of several soft objects covered with silk.
She turns around and flips off all her clothes in one motion as if a strong, yet smooth, breeze had blown them away.
Tum Tum stares at her and his mind goes blank.
He comes to after some grey, dizzy amount of time has passed. Maybe a few minutes, maybe a few years. He wonders if the sun is still up outside. Or if the sun will ever set again. Tum Tum realized that October is still laying next to him when she kisses him on his bulbous nose.
(Sex move. Hold 3.)
“Will you marry me?” he says.
October smiles and tosses her clothes back on. She doesn’t say no, but her face gently tells him how flattered she is by the gesture.
“You can sleep some if you’d like. Just make sure to blow out the flame before you leave. Thanks again, Tum Tum.”
As soon as she leaves she allows her smile to finally fade. A lesser person’s jaws would hurt from all the forces grinning, but if October was anything she wasn’t a lesser person.
October strolls out to the lobby. Missing, the girl-in-training is the only one there.
“Did Mr. Sunset ever come back, honey?”
Missing shakes her head. “Yeah, but he left again. We have Dice now. She’s a prisoner. Do you want some eggs?”
October bends down a bit to look Missing in the eyes and pluck a leathery egg that Missing offers her. “I’d love one, thank you.”
She casually walks back to Mr. Sunset’s office. A tall, muscular woman is in front of his door with a sawed off shotgun.
“Hi, Franky. Mind if I talk to the prisoner?”
“Don’t think Mr. S. would like that too much.”
“Come on, I’ll give you half of my share of the food I brought in.”
(Seduce of manipulate: 9+3=Great hit)
“Give it to Missing,” Franky says and moves aside.
October smiles her thanks and goes into the office. Dice sits on one of the old couches against the wall, reading one of Mr. Sunset’s old books. Dice looks up at October and frowns.
October sits down on the couch on the other side of the room. She crosses her legs and punctures the otter egg wit her nail. “What brings you here this sunny morning, Dice? You’re not looking for some service are you?”
“No. I put my crowbar through Fuse’s skull.”
October flinches despite herself picturing the violence. That’s why she hates Dice so much. She’s so course. Not the charming, sunbaked coarseness that everyone in Uni City falls prey to to some degree or another. A different, uglier coarseness that October didn’t understand, which made her want to tame it.
October peels the thick shell of the egg in a corkscrew and talks without looking up. “I guess Mr. Millions wasn’t too happy about that.”
“You could say that.”
October uses her nail to cut a round slit into the top of the egg’s membrane. She wraps her lips around the slit and squeezes the brown, thick protein out of the egg. She closes her eyes and savors it for a few seconds.
(Hypnotize: 10+3=Great hit.)
October opens her eyes and looks at Dice. She finds the unmistakable gaze of lust. October stands up and leaves the remnants of the shell on the end table next to Dice. She looks over her shoulder has she leaves.
“Be seeing you, Dice. Stay out of trouble.”
October leaves, knowing or imagining that as soon as she leaves Dice will find herself unable to do anything but lick the trash October left. Picturing this, she smiles genuinely for the first time that day.
Exit walks into Mr. Millions’s back office on the top story of Coulburn Hall. He looks at Peppering, still with her baseball bat. “You stay out here.” Then at Scrib, “Why don’t you follow us.” It wasn’t a question.
Mr. Millions walks to his desk and Scrib sat next to Exit on a bench. He noticeds that it had old stains in the wood that he hoped weren’t blood.
“So, Exit, is it? Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you?”
Exit swallows hard.
Mr. Millions glances at Scrib. “Shouldn’t you be writing this down?”
He should. And so he did.
“Well,” Exit says, “I want asylum. King Barbeque is going to get everyone in the Towers killed and I’d like to not be there when he does.”
Mr. Millions sits back and takes some pride in that. “You mean when we strike aback against them for stealing our weapons. I would be scared if I were you too.”
It looks like Exit will laugh for a second. Lucky for her she didn’t.
“No. That’s not what I’m scared of. I’ve only been her, what, an hour, and I can tell that the Towers could destroy you whenever they wanted.”
Mr. Millions stands up and looks like he might throw his desk at her. Exit continues without even blinking.
“No, Barbeque took those guns and such because he plans on attacking Lockheed.”
“They can’t attack Lockheed,” Mr. Millions says as he sits back down, “we’re in the middle of the Towers and Lockheed.”
“They’ve been cutting through the Green Fire Forest to attack us, I mean the Towers, for years.”
“That’s impossible, that would break the treaty we have with Lockheed.”
“Yeah, good luck with that. We had a treaty with Lockheed too.”
“They wouldn’t break our arrangement.”
Now Exit does laugh. Mr. Millions looks at her with scorn. Then considers for a moment. A long moment. Maybe two. Then he looks at Scrib, who has been scratching in his notebook the whole time.
“Scrib, I chose Fuse to be my second in command because he nothing escaped his notice.”
Scrib looked up from his notebook and pushed his glasses up. His stomach did a little flip. He didn’t like where this was going.
“You’ve made it your purpose to document our city’s history. When I met you, I didn’t trust you, but you’ve earned my good side. Hell, you’ve taught most of us how to read, including me.”
“That means a lot to me, Mr. Millions. I’m just—“
“Don’t interrupt me.” Scrib sees a wave of rage wash over Mr. Millions’s face. It’s gone before he starts talking again. “You’re going to take Fuse’s place at my side.”
That was a job Scrib did not at all want. He hated responsibility. It was bad enough he was a slave to the words, now he’d be some fat pretend king’s toady? But Mr. Millions was too dangerous to refuse.
If Mr. Millions expected a response he didn’t wait for one. “I grant the asylum Exit wants, but now she’s your responsibility, Scrib. If she makes a mess, you clean it up.”
“I’m also going to need you to tell Flavor that her husband is dead.”
“I, uh. I’m sure that it would be more appropriate coming from her father?”
“No, I have a lot to think about. And I only like to give my daughter good news.”
“Ok. Um, sir.”
(Read a person: 7+2=hit)
(What does Mr. Millions wish Scrib would do?
Marry his daughter.)
Scrib felt like he might throw up.
[Here’s the next chapter of my Apocalypse World game. I got a little behind, so this is only the first half. Expect Scrib and October’s section tomorrow night. Hope you enjoy!]
Dice and two of her Fixies pedal in circles around Scrib, Peppering, and their collective prisoner, Exit. Peppering pushes Exit with the end of her bat, “Keep it moving, Tower slut.”
Exit narrows her eyes over her shoulder at her. Dice wonders if anyone picks up on the irony of a prostitute calling someone a slut. Maybe Scrib does, since he fishes a worn leather note pad out of his pouches and starts jotting down something or other. Then he trots up to walk shoulder to shoulder with Exit.
He interviews her about crap Dice mostly doesn’t care about, mostly about living in the Towers. She was much more concerned about what Mr. Millions was going to say once she showed up with a prisoner.
She had to keep wondering when they got to Coulburn Hall. It was Dice and the Fixie’s job to protect Mr. Millions and Uni City, but the main entrance was suspiciously unguarded.
Dice takes her trusty crowbar out of its thong on her bike and stows her bike in the rack by the steps. Juck’s bike was still in the rack. She already had to maim Partridge today, looks like she’d have to teach another Fixie a lesson about following orders.
“Stay guard here,” Dice says to the other two Fixies that followed them. “Scrib, let’s take your bodyguard and our new buddy here up to Mr. Millions.”
The three of them climb the stone staircase but Dice silently stops them at the end of it. She hears something from the jail cell around the corner. It should be empty, but Dice can definitely hear Juck’s whimpers echoing from inside.
Dice pads to the doorway. It used to be a bathroom, but someone welded heavy bars over the door long before Dice was born. The padlock was open and she pushed the door open with the hook of her crowbar. Dice’s jaw about dropped off her head when she saw what was going on inside. Scrib, Peppering, and Exit leaned in behind her to peak inside.
Fuse, Mr. Million’s number two guy, the one that kept all lists of who owed what in Uni City, and who often kept Mr. Millions from losing his temper and killing anyone that said “no” to him. That guy that balanced the balances of power in the city had Juck bent over a cot and was going to town on him.
She couldn’t blame him, Juck was pretty hot, she would have wagered Juck more of a top though.
Dice might have just stepped back and let them finish up in private. Sure, she’d have to kick the shit out of Juck later for leaving his post, but she didn’t care who her gang fucked. Fuse’s wife might not feel the same way, but that wasn’t Dice’s business. Dice was prepared to back away and do just that, but Exit had to open her mouth.
“Which one is Mr. Millions?”
Fuse and Juck froze and looked up at them like a squirrel-fly right before you shot it. That fear in Fuse’s eye flipped to panic just as quick. Dice didn’t like panic, it often led to trouble. This was no exception.
Fuse pulled out of Juck and grabbed a handgun. Where’d that come from?
He shouted something incomprehensible, was it about his wife or maybe Mr. Millions?
(Read a charged situation: 4+1=miss)
Either way, Dice’s instincts take over. She leaps forward, covering almost half the distance between them and screams at him to lose the gun.
(Trade harm for harm)
He shoots, twice. One hits the brick wall past the swinging barred door, the other hits Dice in the shoulder.
The force of the bullet turns Dice’s entire body, but not before she expertly lobs her crowbar into the air.
Juck, having seen this move before, ducks under the cot. Fuse isn’t so lucky. The straight end of the crowbar spins through the air and finds something soft and squishy to bury itself in. Namely Fuse’s eyeball and the brains behind it.
After the thud of Fuse’s body hitting the concrete floor there is a silence that seems to last forever. Everyone is understandably shocked. ‘Cept Fuse, because he’s quite dead.
Dice and Juck blink out it the first. Their eyes look at the iron hook sticking out of Fuse’s face even as he bubbles out blood from his last breaths. Then their eyes roll toward the gun still smoking in his hand in unison. Then they look at each other.
(Seize the gun by force: 2+2=miss)
Dice dives for the gun and pries it, literally, out of Fuses cold, dead hand. Well, actually his hand was still pretty warm. She rolls over and points the gun at Juck, but he hasn’t moved from under the cot a few feet away from her.
Dice slowly gets up with the gun trained on Juck.
“What the hell just happened?” Scrib says from behind them.
“This was the one thing I loved. This was the one secret that kept me going,” Juck said. He said it with the cold, even tone of someone looking over a edge of a roof. Dice starts walking toward the door with the gun pointed at Juck, still nude on his stomach.
(Announce future badness)
“I’ve spent my life following orders and being kicked down. Fuse was the only one that gave a shit about what I felt. You took that from me. The one piece of light in this piece of shit life.”
“I hope you don’t think I’m going to start fucking you in the ass now, Juck,” Dice says before slamming the door shut and clicking the padlock closed.
“I’m going to kill everything you love,” Juck says from the now locked cell.
Dice puts the gun into a pouch that hangs from her hip and inspects her shoulder. There’s a tiny hole in her plastic body armor where she got hit. She’ll have a bruise, but nothing serious.
The two Fixies stare up at her with wide eyes from the ground. She nods slightly and they go back to their circuit around Coulburn Hall’s perimeter.
Then to Scrib, “Guess we’ll need to find somewhere else to store your friend.”
Millions and Mr. Sunset follow Bits to Coulburn Hall.
They hear the gunshots and start running. Millions sprints up the stairs despite his impressive bulk and is out of breath by the time he reaches Dice, Scrib, Peppering, and the stranger.
Mr. Sunset only briskly ascends the stairs. He calmly watches as Millions screams at Dice. With a few quick darts of his eyes, Sunset sees a naked Juck locked up with a dead Fuse, with Dice’s crowbar sticking out his head.
“I don’t give a shit if he shot you, you fucking killed the heir to the city and you’re going to get your ass in that cell,” Millions was screaming.
Sunset takes one look at Juck’s face within the cell and realizes what a bad idea that would be. He considers the situation for a moment and wonders what Uni City would be like if Dice was no longer in charge of its protection.
(Seduce or manipulate 6+2=hit)
“Millions. Your cell is full. I offer to take Dice into custody at the library in your stead, until you can determine what should be done with her.”
Millions takes a step closer to Sunset. “You think I can’t deal with my problems on my own?” Millions punctuates his statement with a finger in Sunset’s chest.
Sunset looks down at the intruding finger. His knuckles go white on his walking stick. He grits his teeth for a exactly three seconds before he takes a deep breath and relaxes.
“No, Millions. That’s not what I’m saying. You obviously have more important matters to consider,” Sunset gestures to Exit, “Consider it a personal favor. I’m asking your permission to aid you in dealing with Dice.”
Millions puts his arm down and considers this. Sunset knows that kowtowing is the easiest way to deal with Millions.
“Fine,” he says finally. “You deal with this and I’ll work on the actual important shit.”
“Fair enough.” Sunset takes Dice’s shoulder gently.
Millions points at Sunset again. “But don’t forget. I’m doing you a favor.”
Sunset turns his back and nods as he walks again. “I know. I won’t forget it.”
When Sunset gets back to the library with Dice Dustwich is behind the counter cooking some otter eggs. They must have gotten the food from the market already.
“Send someone out to the market, baby. We need some guns. We’re going to be guarding a prisoner for a while.”
(Finger in every pie move: 6+2=hit)
“Who?” Dustwich asks with her mouth full.
“Me,” Dice says.
Sunset takes Dice back to his office.
“You really fucked things up here,” Sunset says when they both sit down.
“You could say that,” Dice says without much emotion. She looks at the flood under Sunset’s desk.
“On the other hand, you might have saved all our lives.”
Dice looks up at Sunset. His face doesn’t convey any emotion.
“What if Mr. Millions were out of the picture? Maybe someone could convince the people that he wasn’t fit to lead us.”
“Maybe you’re right at that.”
(Dice reads a person: 8+1=hit)
(What does your character indent to do?
Replace Millions with someone that Sunset can better control.)
“Who do you think could replace him, should he have to step down?” Sunset asks.
The silence fills the room as both of their brains set into motion.
Outside, Dustwich takes her ear off the door and sneaks back to her room.
[This is the first “summary” of my Lone Wolf Theater session of Apocalypse World. I made four characters and ran through each one separately, as you’ll see below. I included all the rolls I made in parentheses. Scrib is a Hoarder, Dice is a Chopper, Mr. Sunset is a Mastro’D, and October is a Skinner. I’m still wondering if this will work, I only “played” for about an hour and I got nearly 2000 words out of it. A bit longer than I thought.
Feedback, negative or positive, is more than welcome.
Scrib blinks himself awake at his desk. In the orange morning light he can see that he has been writing in his sleep. In fact, he’s still writing. This isn’t anything new. Scrib had been writing before he could talk. As soon as his tiny hands could hold a pen words came out of him. Most of the time it was gibberish, but much too often his writing told him things, things he couldn’t possibly know. But he’d heard of stranger stories in the Apocalypse World.
(Open your mind to the psychic maelstrom: 5+2=hit)
Scrib folded up the sheet of paper he had been writing on and got dressed. He lived in stacks of books from the golden age. His collection. Scrib tied seven shoelaces around his forehead, it was the only thing that kept his writing under control, and put on his ancient wire glasses. Then he unfolded his paper.
“Exit from the tower approached the field with a hand on the past and an eye on the future.”
Scrib sighed and walked upstairs to Mr. Sunset’s.
The main level is pretty dead, but that’s normal for this early in the morning, not even noon. Scrib ties up his smock and looks around. Peppering is the only one there not otherwise occupied. Her dark features brighten up with Scrib’s attention.
“Is Mr. Sunset around?”
“No, he’s still asleep. I can help you if you want,” Peppering says with a bit too much enthusiasm.
Peppering wants Scrib bad. Scrib wants October worse. That’s the way things usually work out. Scrib grits his teeth. What the hell?
“Sure. I’m headed to Garage Dee. Need some back up. Have anything heavy you could swing if things get ugly?”
Peppering vaults over the broken counter and grabs a rusted metal baseball bat on her way. She trots after Scrib as he walks out the door. The other whores don’t even seem to notice as the door to the library slams shut behind Peppering.
Dice has been awake since dawn. She hates morning shifts, but whatever, it helps morale. Morning duty at Garage Dee is the worst though. She can’t even ride her bike. If the stupid fuckers in the Towers hadn’t snuck in and robbed their armory last month, they wouldn’t have to guard the border so … boringly.
When she sees Scrib and one of Sunset’s girls walking over looking all determined, Dice smiles and blows her sandy hair out of her eyes in one puff. Finally, some excitement.
She flips the kickstand on her fixed gear and pedals up to Scrib with her trusty crowbar over her shoulder. She calls out, “Ka-Kaw!” to the others assigned to morning duty with her. Five other Fixies.
“Notice anyone from the Towers, Dice?
“Morning Scrib. None of those fuckers have the balls to come back here after last time.” Dice looks at the bat the whore is leaning on like a cane. She can’t be older than 16. Is that supposed to be his bodyguard?
Scrib points over Dice’s shoulder as the other Fixies pedal behind her. “Who’s that then?”
Dice looks behind her. Fuck. A woman is walking down the mall toward them—from the Towers.
“Bits, go sound the alarm,” Dice says as the other four Fixies draw their weapons.
Scrib narrows his eyes. “Exit?”
(Scrib reads a charged situation: 9+1=hit)
(Three questions: Who’s in control here? Dice for sure.)
(What’s my enemy’s true position? Exit, the girl from the Towers, is here to bargain. She comes in peace.)
(Who’s the biggest threat? Partridge, one of the Fixies, woke up on the wrong side of the garage. He wants blood, doesn’t care whose.)
Exit stops walking and puts her palms up. Her expression doesn’t change.
Before the Fixies can ride off to beat the shit out of her, Scrib stops them. “Wait, I know her. Let’s hear what she has to say.”
Dice considers for a minute and looks at the would-be intruder. “Fine.”
Partridge’s jaw drops. “The fuck, Dice? They stole both of our rifles? We should cave this bitch’s head in.”
“Shut up, Partridge.”
(Dice uses Pack Alpha: 6+2=hit)
Partridge slams his PVC pipe against his handlebars. Under his breath he says, “What happens when a bitch is in charge.”
A couple of the Fixies, both male, near him laugh at the comment.
Dice casually holds her finder up to Exit, still 20 or so feet away and rides over to Partridge. He glares at her and tightens his grip on his handle bar and pipe. In a fluid movement, Dice slams the hook of her crowbar into Partridge’s shin. He screams and falls off his bike.
“Looks like you won’t be riding for a while.” Then she ride back toward Exit and starts circling her. The other three Fixies are quick to do the same, leaving Partridge groaning on the ground near Scrib.
Exit looks less sure of herself than she did before, but she surrenders to a search by the Fixies.
“I just want to see your leader. I seek asylum.”
“Don’t know what that means,” Dice says, “but you’re clean, so I’ll take you to Mr. Millions.”
Dice points toward the Coulburn Throne as the garage’s alarm goes off behind them. “Start walking.”
Mr. Sunset is startled awake by some quickly forgotten nightmare. His partner stirs beside him, but doesn’t wake up. He takes a few seconds to admire her nude form before covering it with his stained silk sheet.
Mr. Sunset puts on his long raincoat and does his tie in the mirror. He takes one last look at the girl in his bed, remembering some bits of last night with a smile, and then walks downstairs to the lobby.
He takes his sunglasses from the lobby and adjusts them in one of the many mirrors in the lobby. He frowns, noticing the counter is unattended. A little girl in a neon pink bikini runs up to him and tugs on his coat. He looks down at her and smiles, “Missed, my dear, can I help you?”
“Mr. Sunset, we don’t have enough food for breakfast again,” she said with quivering lip. He can tell she’s practiced this speech, but it’s still unsettling.
“Mr. Millions was supposed to resupply us last night.” He turns to two whores lounging about in the lobby, “Girls, go see if you can’t get something from the markets.”
“They should be able to bring back something for breakfast, but I need to talk to Mr. Millions. Did he visit Dustwich last night?”
(Looking for someone: 8+2=hit)
Missing nods and runs to get him.
Mr. Sunset takes the time to go to his back office and get comfortable. On his way he notices that Scrib’s door to the basement is opened. He must already be gone. Good.
Mr. Millions saunters into Mr. Sunset’s office shirtless and fighting to buckle his belt over his impressive hair gut.
“I trust you had a good night. I think it’s time you paid me so that I can feed my girls now.”
Mr. Millions doesn’t look up. “No, I don’t think so, Sunset.”
Mr. Sunset steeples his fingers and leans back in his chair. “And why is that?”
Mr. Millions finally looks at Mr. Sunset. “Last night pays for this month’s rent. I’m not in the business of giving my rivals my surplus.”
Mr. Sunset sighs and folds his hands on his desk.
(Seduce or manipulate: 2+2=miss)
“I’m not after your job. We’ve been over this, so, so many times. I just want to protect my girls and provide my services to Uni City.”
Mr. Millions puts his thumbs in his pockets and licks his lips. “Well, maybe we can work something out. I we could talk about some shipments from the food supply … if I could have Dustwich for another night.”
“With October. Both at once.”
Mr. Sunset crosses his arms over his chest and pivots his chair back and forth for a few seconds, never taking his eyes off of the rotund man across his desk.
“Fine,” Mr. Sunset says.
Mr. Millions smiles wide, showing the gaps in his teeth. Before he can say another word a young boy bursts into the office. Bits from the Fixies.
“Mr. Millions, sir. Dice has a prisoner from the Towers. She’s taking her to Coulburn.”
October slowly notices she’s awake on her stomach. It takes her a minute to remember where she is. She sits up and looks around with her bright orange eyes and smiles. She pulls the silk sheets up to her face and inhales deep. It still smells like Mr. Sunset.
She drops her dress over her head, she’s heard some older women call it a “slip,” which October feels is pretty appropriate, and descends into the lobby. Everyone seems to be in some kind of hubbub. October yawns and clicks her cheek.
“Knightro, here boy.”
In a few seconds her tiny scalecat canters up to her and jumps on the counter. October scratches the scales under his chin and he purrs, his forked tongue stabbing the air.
“Hey, Missing. Where’s Mr. Sunset?”
“He just left with Millions. The Fixies got into some kind of trouble.”
“Well, did they at least leave some breakfast?”
Missing frowns. “No. Mr. Sunset sent some girls to the market, but they didn’t come back yet.”
October combs her fingers through her thick black hair. “Guess we’re on our own, Knightro.”
October, with Knightro following close behind, walk up to Tum Tums booth at the edge of the market. His weathered eyes look at her with hunger up and down.
“October, you look so hot today. I hope I can help you with something.”
“If you have more of those otter eggs from Lake Claire, maybe enough for me and Knightro here, it would make my day.”
Tum Tum licks his lips and wrings his hands. “And what would you be offering?”
She winks at him and hits the front of the visor of Tum Tum’s straw hat. “You know what I’m offering. And I want a month’s worth of those eggs.”
Tum Tum starts giggling. “Yeah, oh yeah. I can certainly make that deal, October. No problem. Let me get you today’s catch.”
“That would be great, Tum Tum, I’m starving.”
He dives into the back of his rickshaw of supplies and pulls out a bucket dripping with slime.
Then they hear the echo of a gunshot.
Both of their smiles disappear and their heads snap toward the sound of the fire. It came from Coulburn.
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