The Ashlanders - Chapter 6: The Blind Man's Last Gambit (Closed, Started)

Evrant-Knight

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"I may know a few things... for the right price. I'll tell you straight up I don't know where the Maiden's at, but I do know where some of her crew's gonna be. For my standard rate I may be able to divulge who and where." Dante said with a huge grin. Viola meanwhile was busy digging out a handful of carbon to pay the man with from her coat pocket before placing it on the table in a neat little pile.

"Well, I guess it pays to take whatever I can get Dante; as Lord Basilio was rather light with the details. He simply told us to bring his betrothed safely back to him, and to deal with Pixie. I believe that amount on the table should serve as payment; so whenever your ready Dante." Viola said as she leaned back in her chair a little.
 

Ruedyn

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Elizabeth seemed to like this Dio guy. Warren supposed the Nobility should like each other, but he heard that that guy was a head assholier than the assholes he worked with. Almost impressive, in a way, but there must've been a soft side to win over this lady so much. She was on a ship filled with legitimately armed guards, though luckily Warren both allowed and encouraged random acts of violence.

'I'd make a shit captain.'

Smiles grinned, and shook his head, though not really out of mocking for the girl. He understood love. Then Ruffles came in, with food! Apparently they didn't just make Sprout do it... for whatever reason. The kid could handle food delivery... hopefully.

"Hope I'm not interrupting a double date here, guys. I always said Genty n' Warren would make a cute couple."

"A bit too fancy for my blood. All of em, really." Warren responded, allowing sarcasm to drip into his voice, throwing the sword between his hands. Just as a reminder he had it, though he had the courtesy to keep it in it's sheath. Didn't want to scare them after all.

"... remember, an apple a day keeps the me away."

"Too bad a case of the Smiles is till death. Except maybe fire. Nobodies tried that yet."

"What happened to the boy? He said he'd return with bread for us."

"Ah, now I'm glad I didn't go fetch for for em. They'd be over stuffed. Mix that with Genty's vernacular and we'd be worrying about comas."
 

NinjaDeathSlap

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The Gentleman took little notice of Warren and Ruffles' dialogue, preferring to address Lady Elizabeth.

"What do I know of Dio Basilio? Rather more than you do, I fear. Though, I'll admit, not near so much as Meredith." he answered solemnly. "Oh I'm sure he can be perfectly charming when he stands to gain something. It comes with the territory after all. However, I am something of an authority when it comes to false charm, and I can assure you that I can spot it in anyone. You may see your betrothed again, in good time, and when you do, I pray that you observe how he treats his inferiors, rather than his equals, for that is how you'll get the true measure of the man."

The Gentleman reached into his inside pocket, slowly, so as not to cause alarm. When he withdrew, he held in his hand a black plastic tape recorder.

"Meredith would be content to tell you that Lord Basilio is an awful man, and to spare you the details. I am not so kind. The truth can be such a terrible thing, it's no small wonder why I lie so much. However, sometimes a little honesty can be refreshing, the sharp taste that cuts through a cloying sweetness, wouldn't you agree? The truth is that Dio Basilio is such a tortured soul. A life managing a Empire as large has his is one full of strife. Deals fall though, land is contested, workers lay down their tools in protest, and scavengers are forever stealing scraps of meat from his table. These problems plague him grievously, day by day. I am a problem solver at heart, and more than once has your beloved come to me for respite from his woes."
 

roushutsu

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When Ruffles arrived with their food, Elizabeth returned to her seat beside Josephine. The woman kept her eyes on the Gentleman the whole time, waiting for any sudden movements. Fortunately he made none, this time anyway.

"What happened to the boy? He said he'd return with bread for us."

"It matters not. Please, Lady Maribel, eat. Save your strength." She motioned for the young lady to take first pickings of the food, while she focused her attention back at the Gentleman as he spoke further about Dio.

"The truth is that Dio Basilio is such a tortured soul. A life managing a Empire as large has his is one full of strife. Deals fall though, land is contested, workers lay down their tools in protest, and scavengers are forever stealing scraps of meat from his table. These problems plague him grievously, day by day. I am a problem solver at heart, and more than once has your beloved come to me for respite from his woes."

"I can speak for the Basilios' generosity and support. They hath been our allies for many years. We provide for each other when needed, lest we all fall. If they verily are a foe, wherefore would they have wrought sympathy and council to us in our time of need? Answer me that!"
 

The Funslinger

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"What happened to the boy? He said he'd return with bread for us."

Ruffles shrugged. "At this moment in time? He's probably changing his pants."

"I can speak for the Basilios' generosity and support. They hath been our allies for many years. We provide for each other when needed, lest we all fall. If they verily are a foe, wherefore would they have wrought sympathy and council to us in our time of need? Answer me that!"

Ruffles doubled over laughing. After what must have been several minutes, he regained some self control, and said, "it's easy to be generous when you'll never run out." Wiping tears of mirth from his eyes, he headed back out the door. "Remember kids, don't make eye contact with Warren for more than five seconds, or he'll bite."
 

Fappy

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"That was s'posed to be far more impressive."

Sprout smiled, "No need ta' impressed me, ma'am. Between yer shootn' and yer... uh... 'pertiness, I'd say yer already a mighty fine woman." At this point his hands were beginning to cramp up. "Wan' me to fetch a warm towel er somethin' fer yer shoulders?"

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"... He simply told us to bring his betrothed safely back to him, and to deal with Pixie. I believe that amount on the table should serve as payment; so whenever your ready Dante."

Dante shot a glance at the money and nodded in satisfaction while leaning back in his seat, "That's what I like 'bout you, Viola. Always straight to business. No bullshit. If only every one of my business partners were as professional as you. Now..."

Leaning forward in his seat, he planted his elbows on the table and held his hands together in front of his face, "From what I hear, Pixie's got a lot on her plate. Why'll I don't have a bead on where she'll be at in the near future I can tell where her son'll be. Bartholomew, one of the nobles that was captured by the Maiden... turns out Pixie's lookn' to get rid of him quick and is sending Sprout and her right-hand ma'am Lilith here, Feroxi City, to pawn him off to his family."

"I reckon you can intercept them when they arrive. Make bank on rescuing Bart while also capturing and interrogating one of the Maidens. How does that sound to you?" His bright white grin flashed once more.

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Elizabeth sat in silence as the Maidens shot insults at them and their ilk. Josephine tried in vein to defend her betrothed, but these uncultured men would not let up.

Ignoring the rabble, she turned her attention towards the Gentleman and reiterated Josephine's inquiry, "What proof do you have that Lord Basilio is not the men we believe him to be. Please, show us and then be on your way. We are quite tired of you all."
 
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"No need ta' impressed me, ma'am. Between yer shootn' and yer... uh... 'pertiness, I'd say yer already a mighty fine woman."

Lilith closed here eyes sighing through her nostrils. "You're such a kiss arse, and not a very good one." She knew the boy meant well, but it only made her feel awkward. She never really liked being complimented, not by anyone.

"Wan' me to fetch a warm towel er somethin' fer yer shoulders?"


"No, I'm fine" She got to her feet, and rotated her shoulders. "I'm gonna go on watch, that's where I'll be if anyone needs me." She turned to leave, pausing for a moment, before she turned back around and looked at the boy.


She stepped towards him, placing a hand on his shoulder, "Thank you for the lovely chat and massage." She removed the cigarette from her mouth with her other hand and leaned in towards the boy's face, gently brushing her cheek against his just before kicking his legs from underneath him, slamming him to to the ground. Lilith smirked silently as she turned swiftly on her heels, placing the cigarette back in her mouth and putting her hands behind her head.

"See ya later sausage jockey!"

She headed towards the watch tower.
 

Evrant-Knight

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Dante examined the money for a moment, making sure it was genuine before nodding in satisfaction and leaning back in his seat. "That's what I like 'bout you, Viola. Always straight to business. No bullshit. If only every one of my business partners were as professional as you. Now..." He then leaned forward and planted both elbows on the table and held his hands in front of his face.

"From what I hear, Pixie's got a lot on her plate. Why'll I don't have a bead on where she'll be at in the near future I can tell where her son'll be. Bartholomew, one of the nobles that was captured by the Maiden... turns out Pixie's lookn' to get rid of him quick and is sending Sprout and her right-hand ma'am Lilith here, Feroxi City, to pawn him off to his family."

"I reckon you can intercept them when they arrive. Make bank on rescuing Bart while also capturing and interrogating one of the Maidens. How does that sound to you?" Dante then asked, flashing his bright white grin once more. Meanwhile, Viola ordered another drink and began to think over the information she had just been given; she had to admit, it sounded like good intel.

"It sounds like you certainly have done your job well Dante, and this information is certainly worth the weight in carbon. Hmm, interesting, so the Pixie has a child, and a Bandit one at that; I guess the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. The child could be useful as leverage in a hostage negotiation; though I dare not hurt a child.

In the event Plan A fails, I could always resort to Plan B, though that does require the co-operation of the Noble involved in the trade; given that he has been in their care, he might just know something. Speaking of the trade, did your sources happen to tell you where it was going to take place? I'd happily cough up a little extra." Viola said with a smirk. It was then that her drink arrived.
 

Terratina.

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"Ya got greedy, Mick! Christ, you were one of the good 'uns... But ya had to pinch a li'l more, and more, and more. Y'know there are people starvin' out there?! Without any shelter?! Greedy sonovabitches like you make me sick, takin' advantage of our kind family like that. Well, you'll know what's it's like to have nuthin' soon enough. Hahahahahahahahahaha."

A loud clang ended that sentence and Mickey found himself alone with just the sky, the sun and an itch for company. He replayed that moment over and over again, trying to find some retort that would shut the old man up. But it was far too late for that. He looked down and all he could was ash and sand, though he was far too close to the ground for his liking. Mick gradually became aware of the situation; first came the dull ache from the blow, second up was the heat - he felt like he was melting, and third was some sort of pressure on the rest of his body. Needless to say, Mick joined the dots together very quickly: the old bastard had knocked him out, had him buried up to the chin in the ground and had left poor Mick to die.

'Heh, so this is how it ends, just a lone head in the sand. Wait... what is that?'

He squinted, a vehicle of some kind was kicking up dust out in the horizon. A vehicle meant people, right? Maybe there was hope for him yet. However, something caused Mick to gasp. Whoever the rider was, they had some sort of tool or weapon on their back. No... it couldn't be, right? Stuff like that only existed in stories, right? Stuff like faceless riders with scythes on their back, beings of death, that was superstition, right? Nevertheless, it was coming for him. Sweat ran down his face in streams and Mick suddenly realised how much he liked living and being alive. Funny how people only realised that when Death itself is coming for you. He shut his eyes, he couldn't bear waiting. However, Mick quickly stole a peek. At least it seemed human...

'A medic armband? Is that some kinda sick joke!?'

Before Mick could get his answer, a loud thud interrupted his thoughts. His eyes widened as he realised the scythe had been planted just centimeters away from his face. It was dragged away from him, taking some of the sand with it. With a few repetitions of that, Mick could free the pressure being lifted away and gradually was freed. The figure - it looked like a woman - then folded up the scythe-like implement and held out a hand. He took it. Whoever was doing the pulling was quite strong, but as soon as Mick was out of the hole, the woman or whatever she was, collapsed. Mick snorted, maybe this was a chance to outrun Death? Regardless, she quickly got back up and approached Mick. He began the conversation with a hoarse, "Are... you...?"

The reply was a muffled sigh, "Christ, I am not the Grim Reaper or Santa Muerte or anything like that. If I was a reaper of any sort, it would be a reaper of idiots like you who get themselves buried in the sand just because some bandito or something got pissed off with you. Yeah, I use that thing to dig you all up like turnips. Oh! Name's Maria. Now, shall we get going before you die of exposure?"

Name: Maria ?The Undertaker? Machado
Age: 26
Sex: Female
Profession: Wandering Physician

Appearance: The first thing people notice about Maria is her choice of breathing mask. It?s more of an antique than anything else, but it still functions regardless. The mask is a big, black thing that covers the entirety of her head - well, except for the back, where her brown hair can be seen clearly among the various belts that fasten it to her head. The hair itself is wavy and usually worn loose. The next notable piece of attire she wears is, of course, her lab coat. With the dust and all, the white has faded into a dirty grey - not to mention the fact that Maria has modified it a bit.

The modification is a simple one: the addition of a black hood and a medic armhood, the former there in case of nasty weather and the latter?s purpose is just to notify others of her expertise, lest they need it. However, there is one thing she carries on her person that scares others away and is probably the source of her epithet: a large hoedad with a blade so long it is often mistaken for a scythe. While the tool is retractable for easy carrying, Maria displays it openly and secretly enjoys the effect it - among with her whole getup - has on people, though she?d be first to correct on the assumption that she is a Grim Reaper of sorts.

Apart from the gas mask that covers her face, the lab coat, or the hoedad, Maria is a rather ordinary person of Hispanic descent. Underneath the mask is a kind face with big, brown eyes, a button nose and a cheeky smile - if she?s in a good mood, that is. Always on her person, around her neck, is a simple necklace with a cross pendant. It?s more a memento or a good luck charm than a declaration of faith. The piece of jewellery belonged to her mother, after all. Underneath the coat, she wears rather drab clothing, just shirts and vests and trousers of muted blacks and greys, her brown walking boots are nothing special either.

Personality: Maria?s a cheerful sort with a smile stuck on her face and is always willing to help people, no matter who they are. Though, she can be quite snarky at times, especially around overly negative people, or whenever she feels like people are treating her unfairly. Many just see her as some sort of nut, a happy, amiable and kind nut, but still a little touched in the head. However, Maria is not stupid. She can school anyone in the basics of first aid and relies on her quick wits and quick thinking in order to save her patients? lives. In truth, the cheery facade is just there to distract herself from the harsh aspects of living on The Rock.

Regardless, there is one aspect of her personality that is definitely isn?t a fabrication: her obsession with tidiness. It is impossible for her to leave a mess untidied, whether it be a spilled glass of milk, an oozing wound, or a dead body. That?s right, she buries every corpse she comes across. The logic behind that impulse is not scientific at all: Maria just believes that with burying the dead, she is bringing a little bit of civilisation to the wild wastes. The Rock may be home to all sorts of crazy, but only in of case of when the majority of the populace stop burying their dead will Maria call it a lost cause. Also, she is a pacifist.

Biography: She was born to a pair of scientist-types, with a doctor for a father and a mechanic for a mother. They travelled across the land in a battered van, just doing odd-jobs and favours to get what they needed. Of course, their way of living was quite dangerous, and they chose to settle in one of the dome settlements as soon as they could, about when Maria turned four. Nevertheless, their day jobs were still the same, the family?s position was a little permanent and stable than before. Maria couldn?t say that she missed it; after all, she has little memory of that time.

However, her mother grew bored. She wanted to continue exploring The Rock, she wanted to hear the cough of that ol? rust bucket again and she wanted to delve into the scrap yards that littered the planet?s surface. So, she left - simple as that. Her father wasn?t able to persuade her to stay with her child, perhaps because Maria had always been a daddy?s girl right from the start, and as a result, mother dearest packed up all of her things - the van included - and departed, leaving only a necklace behind. It took awhile for it to sink for young Maria, but at least she had her daddy. Her mum was always messy and oily anyway.

The rest of Maria?s childhood was uneventful, and her adolescence was even more so, apart from her infrequent bursts of rebellion. She wasted time like she had always done, and just watched her dad work as an apprentice of sorts. Sometimes he even delegated work to her. That was particularly the case when he was appointed Sheriff (as a calm and gentle man who looked after the community?s heath and an avid gardener, he was the obvious choice). He became too busy for minor coughs and colds and he became too busy to read the signs. The settlement of Manzana would regret its choice of Sheriff.

Bandits crashed Maria?s twenty-first birthday party, well not literally. They did what bandits did best and raided the settlement. As just a minor town in the middle of nowhere, the townsfolk didn?t have much in terms of firepower. As their dear, Noble leaders, no-one knew where they went. Almost like they knew about the raid before that. But that?s an entirely different story. Anyways, her father - where other Sheriffs would welcome bandits with a bullet to the head - welcomed them with words. He tried to reason with them, tried to convince them the little town wasn?t worth the trouble...

It worked just as well as that time when his wife decided she wanted out, the bandits were dead set on reducing the town to rubble and the man everyone looked up to was pistol-whipped for his trouble. Not to mention the kneecapping. Thankfully, after that, his death was quick. His last act? An appeal to Maria to run somewhere safe, and she did exactly that. She hid herself away in a ruined husk that used to be her home, and just waited until the bandits were done with their grisly work. Afterwards, she crawled out with what remained of her belongings - the gas mask, the garrucha and a doctor?s bag.

Maria stumbled on the hoedad a little later, as well as the grim sight of what remained of the townsfolk, her father included. She just wanted it to go away, all of it. With a heavy heart, Maria buried them and the finality of that act was a small comfort. Ever since then, she has been wandering and doing odd jobs to survive. Unfortunately, Maria seems have gotten a reputation for someone good at cleanup operations, because of that, she has buried more people than she has saved - a lamentable fact. Nevertheless, it?s how she gets by. Maria even received a rusty old moped from a client for her services.

Notes: In terms of equipment, in addition to the what was mentioned above in the Appearance section, she has a moped, it is similar in appearance to ZiD-50 "Pilot". The doctor?s bag usually just hangs on the handlebars. The garrucha is a small gun similar to a derringer and is carried in the deep pockets of her lab coat. She has never fired it before.
 
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Lilith decided to visit her room before going on watch. She stripped the vest she was wearing, tossing it aside. She strapped on a clean bra, and threw on a fresh linen shirt with long sleeves. Still wearing the shorts from the previous night, she strapped on her holster. She wasn't expecting to use her gun, but she felt a lot better having it at hand, especially now the Gentleman was on board. Lilith loosely wrapped her favourite scarf around her shoulders, a scarlet thing, a bit tatty around the edges. It was the one thing she still owned from her time at the orphanage. She still found comfort in nuzzling it, like she did when she was a child.

Casino pulled on her boots and left her room, heading down the hall to the watch tower. She relieved the Maiden on duty, who looked a little worse for wear. He thanked her appreciatively, Lilith nodded silently, a small smile on her face. It was nice and quiet up there, and quiet was what she needed. She sat down and immediately noticed the distinct lack of smoke in the tower, Lilith quickly resolved the issue as she lit up a cigarette, blowing smoke from her nostrils. She pulled up a leg to her chest, resting an arm on her knee. She scanned the horizon, the air waving intensely from the heat of the morning sun.

Lilith smiled to herself.

Poor kid.
 

NinjaDeathSlap

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"it's easy to be generous when you'll never run out."

"I cannot help but agree." The Gentleman said, addressing Josephine. "You are a Tigereye, I take it? Yes, you have the traits." his lips curled in to a smile. "Why, I'm sure you're right. Lord Basilio would have nothing at all to gain in entering the good graces of such a wealthy and influential house, particularly at such a vulnerable juncture. What possible use could the information he hears when admitted into your families private affairs be to him? Even, if their were gains to be made in the privy matters of a house such as yours, then it would be such a terrible waste of time to wait around for an unfortunate tragedy to occur, offering him a pretext. Dio is nothing if not forward-thinking."

"Please, show us and then be on your way. We are quite tired of you all."

"Of course." he replied, turning his attention to Elizabeth. "I will only intrude upon your relative comfort a few moments longer."

Without further ado, The Gentleman played the recording.

The audio was only slightly distorted by the the hiss and crackle of the tape, and the muffling effect of The Gentleman's clothing. Dio Basilio's voice was indistinguishable as greetings were exchanged. Dio sounded measured and stiff, The Gentleman reserved in his courtesy. Although only sound was available, it was clear that this was a first meeting between the two, and that behind the pleasantries, they were silently sizing each-other up. Both men sounded younger than they did at present It wasn't long before the conversation began in earnest.

"You are a difficult man to find."

"Oh, I should hope not. For someone with your resources." The Gentleman replied.

"Is that so?" Dio returned. "I would have thought anonymity was something to be prized for a man of your talents."

"Only if I wished for an early retirement. Infamy has its uses. The trick I've found is to always be available to the right people. Doubtless, you'll get the hang of finding me."

"Yes, well..." Dio's tone suggested that he did not wish finding The Gentleman to become a habit. "You appear to come well recommended, by the right people. You have heard about my difficulty, I trust?"

"Naturally." The Gentlman's tone would convince any man who did not know him of his thoroughly sombre nature. "Every noble family in the region prays for your brother's swift and safe return."

"Half-brother." Dio cut in, his voice bitter. "Fifteen years my junior, the dregs of my addled old father's seed, quickened inside his embarrassing slattern of a second wife. Sad to say, Reginald has not a third of their wits combined."

"I take it you are not close with him."

"Close enough to know that he has nothing but cabbage between his ears, and even that wilts whenever a pretty face crosses his path! Kidnapped by a whore, honestly! I have half a mind to leave him with the *****. Unfortunately, the only thing I share with my sibling is my last name. The Basilio name would not survive until the end of the week if I allowed some pox-ridden tart to hold my blood with impunity. This insult must be answered, without giving in to the demands."

There was a momentary pause, before The Gentleman replied. "I see."

"Do you?" was Dio's response.

"Oh yes. My rates are certainly expensive for nothing more than a hostage rescue. Some would look at such an anomaly and say that you paid to ensure no mistakes, but we both know that's only true in a certain sense. Reginald is not only a Basilio, but your own heir, while you remain childless. To ignore the kidnapping would be a sign of weakness, to bow to the ransom an embarrassment; but to see Reginald safely home, and risk him one day coming to the head of the entire Basilio Empire... that could be ruinous. A rescue attempt will be made, those who dared to try and extort your family will pay with their lives, and Reginald will be brutally killed as their final heinous act, once their plan is failed and only spite remains to them. Your strength will be assured, you will be rid of further embarrassments, for someone who has proved vulnerable to capture once, will surely be at risk again, and you will have the condolences and sympathy of all the noble families to boot."

Another pause, longer this time. For the first time in their conversation, Dio sounded at ease when he spoke, even satisfied.

"I'm glad we understand each-other. You will receive half you carbon now, the other half when the job is done. I've arranged for you to leave tonight."

"I never received that second instalment." The Gentleman told her as he stopped the tape. "Your betrothed was worried I might prove a loose end. However, once we both came to truly understand the capabilities of the other, I saw no reason to let that sour a healthy business relationship. Now, if you'll excuse me, I sense that your appetite in this matter is quite sated for now, but don't hesitate to come and find me if you want to hear more."

With that, The Gentleman doffed his hat, turned tail, and left without another word.
 

Ruedyn

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"Remember kids, don't make eye contact with Warren for more than five seconds, or he'll bite."

Warren flashed his teeth, an invisible gesture under his scarf he realized. He still didn't want to take it off when he heard the Gentleman's rebuttals, Warren was smirking too much. Didn't want to look rude after all... he wondered if he recorded ALL his conversations like that, or just had a third sense for when he needed to, to make them look like assholes further down the line.

-"Now, if you'll excuse me, I sense that your appetite in this matter is quite sated for now, but don't hesitate to come and find me if you want to hear more."

"People who don't pay are scum of the earth." Warren said to no one, before focusing on the Noble women. A bit naive, but good people at the very least. Dio was certainly an asshole, but his tape didn't exactly prove anything else about him. Perhaps that was just the romantic in him, love brings out the best in people usually. Sometimes. He'd never seen it outside a mirror.

"Well, bit of a dick move, wasn't it...? Understatement?" Warren shrugged.
 

Fappy

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"Thank you for the lovely chat and massage."

Sprout's heart felt like it was going to burst open with butterflies as Lilith came in for what he mistook for a kiss. His face beat-red, Sprout closed his eyes in preparation for the moment he'd been dreaming of for years... a moment that would never come. Before he knew it his face was planted firmly on the deck of the Maiden. The entire room roared in laughter as the hungover onlookers pointed and laughed at the young bandit's misfortune.

"See ya later sausage jockey!"

Utterly stunned, Sprout laid on the ground for awhile, watching Lilith as she pranced off. He remained lying there for a few minutes, long enough for the laughter to die down and for the rest crew to go about their business. He snapped out of his trance when the bitter taste of copper reached his tongue. Had he hit the ground that hard? Just then he realized he'd been nervously biting down on his lip.

He sat up, holding the back of his neck, staring down the corridor she'd disappeared into.

Fuck. Her.

Misty-eyed, Sprout got to his feet and left the common room with no clear destination in mind. He just wanted to get away.

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"... Speaking of the trade, did your sources happen to tell you where it was going to take place? I'd happily cough up a little extra."

Dante shook his head with a genuine frown on his face, "Sorry Sister, but that info's not out in tha' open yet. Don't think it's been decided on yet. However..." Dante reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a business card. After checking to make sure it was the right one he flashed a smile and tossed it onto the table so Viola could see. "Her name's Whiskey Fifer. You may have heard of her. She pays the bills by workin' as a hired gun for nobles. Word is she's been contracted to oversee the exchange." Just as soon as he'd finished speaking his ears shot to her wallet expectantly.

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"I will only intrude upon your relative comfort a few moments longer."

Elizabeth had been eating her meal up until the first moment Dio's voice could be heard. She sat motionless, taking in every syllable spoken in the exchange. This couldn't be real! It was impossible! How could he say such things?

After the recording ended Elizabeth was left speechless. Her eyes had been glued to the Gentleman's recorder until its withdrawal broke her out of her trance.

"... Now, if you'll excuse me, I sense that your appetite in this matter is quite sated for now, but don't hesitate to come and find me if you want to hear more."

The daggers she'd stared into the Gentleman's eyes earlier were nowhere to be found. What remained was a look of complete and utter defeat. She said nothing as he left.

It had to be a lie! A fabrication!

He's not like that... it's a lie...

"Well, bit of a dick move, wasn't it...? Understatement?"

Elizabeth's despair quickly turned to rage as she shot him a cold glance, "Get. Out."

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Pixie woke to find a large pool of drool gluing her face to her pillow.

Awesome.

After taking a moment to rouse herself from her all-too-short nap she wiped the saliva off her face. She was a mess. The sad part is that she didn't even need to look at herself in the mirror. She felt dirty all over. Still wearing some of the same cloths from the day before, dirt and ash had built up in various places underneath her cloths.

It was not a pleasant feeling.

After cracking her back in more places than was likely healthy, she threw off her ash-covered cloths, including her eye-patch, and hobbled into the shower. Gracefulness was the least of her concerns at this point. Leaning against the wall, her hands firmly planted against the old tile and her arms outstretched, Pixie let the cold, sulfur-filled water run threw her thick, matted hair and down every inch of her body. The water went in clear and turned brown as it tickled down her face, between her breasts and across her abs. The shower water often traced the contours of her various scars offering a constant reminder of battles passed.

This had become a sort of ritual for Pixie. She'd opted not to clean herself as often as a proper woman should in order to keep up appearances. She wanted her crew to not think her any different from the lot of them. However, when the time came she'd wash out the filth that comes with the work she did. The filth that came with all the violence, debauchery and... suffering.

She spent this time meditating on her past mistakes and how she'd correct them in the future. Nothing concerning the Maiden per say. These issues concerned her personal life. Friends long dead, the family she never knew, her son and now...

Elizabeth...

Pixie gritted her teeth and slammed her fists against the wall as memories of her previous life flashed before her eyes. No. No, she would not let herself get lost in those memories. In an attempt to banish her memories she chose to focus on the real pain. Physical pain. The wounds from yesterday's battle were still fresh.

Though treated (in a somewhat barbaric fashion), they still stung as the cold water ran through them. She spent half of her time in the shower carefully examining her wounds, ensuring none would develop into an infection and the other half working all the dirt and ash out of her hair.

Still soaking wet, she turned off the shower and sat down in front of her mirror. After having worked all the grit out of it, her hair sat atop her head like a soaked mop. It looked about as pathetic as a wet cat, too. She sighed heavily, having seemingly given up on trying to do anything in particular with it. That was until she spotted the cherry tattoo on her shoulder (amongst the various other tattoos covering the length of her arms) in the mirror.

"I like that look on you."

"I should start calling you 'Pixie'!"


A weak smile appeared on her face. Having Elizabeth on-board was making her feel... nostalgic. A girl had the right to give in to such emotions every now and then. With that justification in mind, Pixie grabbed a pair of scissors and went to work.

After about twenty minutes of cutting and trimming she heard a knock on her door.

"It's me." A raspy voice announced.

"Perfect timin'," Pixie exclaimed as she got up to grab a bath towel. After making herself mostly decent she answered the door and ushered Cranston inside, closing the door behind him. She grabbed a hand-mirror off her dresser and handed it to Cranston. "Hold this up fer me while I cut the back."

Cranston did as was told and smiled, "Going for the old pixie cut I see. It's been awhile since you've given a damn about your appearance."

"I'm feelin' nostalgic." Pixie answered with a chuckle.

"Odd time for that, don't you think?"

Her smile faded as she began cutting her hair once more. It was time to talk business, "Lay it on me'h."

"Sent out the orders to our support network like you asked. Word is there's already been a number of leaks since this morning."

"What's been compromised?"

Cranston grimaced, "Most of it. Chief among them is that they know you're sending Sprout to handle the ransom."

"Fuck."

"From what I gather the leak originated in Boomhower, just like you thought. Too many holes to plug to figure out who it was though. I figure that's why you're sending a team over there in the first place."

"We're stickn' with ar' original plan."

"What about Sprout? You and I both know Lilith won't be enough to keep the boy safe if there are going to be hunters waiting for him."

Pixie smiled, "That's why you'll be join'n them. I reckon you can be my ace in tha' hole. Most our contacts know'I keep you close by. If you trail Sprout n' Casino no'one'll be the wiser." Satisfied with her new look she placed the scissors on the table and turned to face Cranston. "Whadda ya' say? It's been awhile since The Cook's left tha' kitchen. It'll do ya' good ta' get some fresh air out there, dontcha think?"

"They'll never see me coming."

"That's what'I like ta' hear," Pixie said as she turned to double-check her work. "Whadda ya' think?"

"Reminds me of when we first met," He said patting her on the shoulder.

With that, Cranston left Pixie alone in her room once more. After examining her new look awhile longer she got up and put on her eye-patch, a clean pair of jeans, her black scarf and a grey tank-top.

It was about time she paid her guests a visit.
 

The Funslinger

Corporate Splooge
Sep 12, 2010
6,150
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0
Ruffles was wandering along, debating whether to head to the common room, or his workshop, or to the engine room when he turned a corner and all but walked into Sprout. The boy seemed distressed, and there was a small dribble of blood on his lip.

"Jesus, man. You okay?"

============================================

The two men reigned in their quads at what looked to be yet another featureless cave in an endless smattering of featureless caves on the baron landscape. Wheeling the vehicles inside manually, they headed to the very back, and Eddie pawed the wall. A patch that would otherwise blend perfectly in pressed. When the plate was pressed, a section of rock wall lifted, revealing a metal framed entrance, and the two bounty hunters walked in with their bikes, with room to spare. Once inside, Duke pressed a more ordinary button and the door resealed. There was a hiss, and the black dust hanging in the air cleared after several seconds, and a more mundane door opposite opened, and they filed through.

The Cave, as far as Eddie could tell, must have been the bunker of some tech handy and paranoid Noble way back when. Far enough back that it likely predated the fall of the other planet colonies that were now myth. Back when the sort of technology that ran the domes was still understood. He had found the bunker by accident, while on stake out, gathering information on a mark. He'd taken cover in this cave with a set of binoculars and found the activation plate quite by accident. The entire place had been cleared out, but it was breathable, and relatively warm. So he'd stashed things here over the years. Weapons, and even vehicles lifted from various criminals. There wasn't much one or two men could do with all this, but it came in handy on occasion.

"So how the hell do you propose we get on that ship? Even if it ain't going anywhere, it's gonna be hanging in the air."

Eddie thought on it, as he walked, and eventually came to an open topped crawler. "This'll do."

"Unless it can fly, how will it do?"

Eddie didn't answer immediately, but made his way to a mound of odds and ends, and began moving things off it to reveal a large implement, around five feet high, with a large metal drum on the side. "We'll bolt this onto the crawler so it doesn't fall off, and we'll be good to go."

"What the fuck is that?" asked Duke, bemusedly.
 

Evrant-Knight

An Interloper
Apr 20, 2020
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Bristol
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"Sorry Sister, but that info's not out in tha' open yet. Don't think it's been decided on yet. However..." Dante said with a genuine looking frown on his face; he then searched through his pockets, and soon smiled as he pulled out a business card that he soon tossed over to Viola, who set about examining it as he continued to speak.

"Her name's Whiskey Fifer. You may have heard of her. She pays the bills by workin' as a hired gun for nobles. Word is she's been contracted to oversee the exchange." After Dante spoke, Viola's second drink arrived, and she payed the waiter. She took a small sip before drinking.

"Whiskey Fifer, yeah I've heard of her, rumor has it that she's worked for both Bandits and Nobles, a real jack of all trades. Well, whilst it might not be the extra information I was looking for; it still deserves a bit of money for your troubles. Here you go..." Viola said as she dug around in her coat for a bit a pulled out a few more bits of Carbon and put it on the table amongst the rest.

"...have a drink on me. Well, I best be off tracking down Miss Fifer, find out what she knows, or follow her to the deal. It was a pleasure doing business with you Dante, may you find good health and good fortune. Hope you don't mind if I keep this?" Viola said with a smile as she held up the business card Fifer; before downing the rest of her drink in one go, and soon stood up from the table. She then left the cafe and started to begin her search.
 

Dogmatic99

New member
Jun 24, 2012
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His usual haunts on the ship weren't giving up much in the way of entertainment or stimulation. For now all Florian could do was go back to his room and go over it again, making sure that everything was spick and span. Of course it was, it always was (Warren not withstanding).

It was during his latest cleaning scan that he came over his scarf again, folded neatly under his pillow at the moment. It at least reminded him that there was one thing that needed checking over. Florian pulled the worn old box that he kept his gun in, he hadn't looked over it since their poorly fated train job. It didn't need much maintenance, he poor thing hadn't seen any real action in a few years. Really it was just keeping up space now.

But I might need it some day.

That was what he told himself anyway. That there might be an emergency he couldn't talk his way out of. That was what he told himself anyway. Of course Florian knew that he passed up on plenty of moments that he could have used it before, that he SHOULD have used it before. If he'd been thinking like a real bandit he would have shot The Gentleman dead the moment he'd threatened any of the crew. But instead he panicked and waved it at a group of unarmed fops.

A shameful display... have I been out of the game that long?

Of course he hadn't. He'd never left. If he really wanted to get out he'd have ditched the gun, burned the scarf and stayed at the abbey. It was kind of fun to think about how things could have been, to imagine the lives he might have lead. It also sent the wheels in Florian's brain going, forcing him to face a fact that he hadn't quite noticed yet.

Oh god Lilith saw my gun! That was serious, so serious he couldn't even think about how Lilith would have laughed if she'd heard that. he'd never let the others know he carried a weapon. Maybe it wouldn't be a big thing, maybe they would have just taken it as read...

Well moping wouldn't help. Florian had to go clear his head, he'd go to the lookout that always helped.

And Lilith was there. Damn.

"Mind if I take a seat?" Florian asked, trying not to sound awkward.
 
Dec 14, 2009
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Lilith raised an eyebrow as she heard someone climbing the ladder to the watch tower, smiling slightly as Florian's head popped up through the hatch.

"Mind if I take a seat?"

She nodded her head gently, using the hand draped over her knee to remove the cigarette from her mouth. "Do you want me to put this out?"

Smoking out the joint was one thing, but doing it with someone else in there with her? Why, that was just bad manners.
 

Dogmatic99

New member
Jun 24, 2012
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"Do you want me to put this out?"

"No, no it's fine." Florian grunted as he pulled himself up and crunched into the confined space. For a moment he just tried to take a seat and enjoy the view and enjoy some second hand smoke. "I can see why you like it here. The plains are much calmer down south."
 
Dec 14, 2009
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"I can see why you like it here. The plains are much calmer down south."

Lilith put the cigarette in her mouth and ran the hand through her hair, "It's quiet, and after a day like yesterday, I could do with some quiet." After a few moments she jerked her head up slightly "Err, not to mean that I don't want you here." She rested her forehead on her arm. "Forgive me, I'm all over the place today." she chuckled pathetically.

After a few moments, she asked the question she wanted to ask since yesterday.

"So... a gun huh?"
 

Dogmatic99

New member
Jun 24, 2012
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"Forgive me, I'm all over the place today."

Florian gave a single weary chuckle, it was always far less funny seeing hardened fighters and rogues let down their guard then it should have been. Such was life he supposed.

"Makes sense, we were all all over lots of places yesterday. We usually are." yeeaaah, that made sense.

Then came the question he was dreading. "So... a gun huh?"

Florian didn't turn around to look at her. He didn't fidget uncomfortably, he just sat still, looking out the window.

"Is it so strange? Everyone on this ship caries one weapon or another." It was true, even if it was a bad excuse.