The Living and the Dead
Alright ya'll, I've had this idea in my head for a good week now and I'd thought I'd actually try it. I know some of my other fan fics didn't end so well *cough*, but I think I'll remained devoted to this one. I plan on keeping it fairly short by making the chapters fairly long. You have been warned.
And without much blabbing from myself, here we go:
The Living and the Dead
City 02 was the last free city that was governed by Vydar. Built right into the side of a large canyon, the city stretched from the wide plateau of the plains beyond the canyon to the slums that lay down at the bottom by the river. Blocks were cut into the canyon wall and were connected with the other side by large catwalks that doubled as highways for the denizens and their cars. Vydar’s Winter Palace lay at the top with large pillars jutting out of the rock and holding it steady in its precarious position over edge of the canyon. A balcony the size of a street hung off the palace and overlooked the entire city, giving the Valkyrie an immense view over what he ruled.
Dirk’s Drives was a well-respected business run by Dirk Herring himself. A retired Airbourne Elite, Dirk resigned from service under Jandar to a make a living doing what he loved in the city that he loved. The company’s (for that is what he liked it to be known as) garage that contained its one car lied halfway to the bottom in a large industrial block, making it just high enough for rich people to bring in business and just cheap enough for the poor to afford. Dirk could give someone a ride from the mansions near the top to shacks that sat at the bottom if the need arose.
At this moment, Dirk sat outside his garage in his glorified taxi cab waiting for someone to call his glorified taxi service so he could give them a glorified ride. He drummed his wrinkled fingers on the dash while he buried his face in the local gazette. Stocks were nice, the war’s status quo remained the same, and two rich people that Dirk had recently given rides were getting married. They were a very rude couple who had to slobber on each other’s faces for like ten minutes before they gave Dirk directions to the nearest motel. It had just been recently that Dirk decided that doing what he loved was not something that he loved.
A car zoomed by on the street Dirk was parked on. Someone was in a hurry, which was quite unusual. This was the industrial quarter and the only traffic to be seen were trucks carrying various raw materials to factories and plants. The garage was cheap which made up for the annoyance of having to answer calls as opposed to just being hailed.
Screeching to a halt, the car buckled. It was an old rustic model, as were most on Valhalla. Car factories had been in short supply and those that knew how to make them were in shorter supply. Dirk’s car could easily win a car show considering the condition he kept it in. He’d had it for twenty years and it still sparkled like it did when he waxed it for the first time. When your business is based off of one car, you better keep it in scary condition, Dirk would tell friends down at the bar.
Dirk turned a page as a man stepped out of the car and slammed the door shut. There was no reason to give heed to this. Dirk noticed seedy and strange behavior go down in this sector of the city all the time. He’d always turn a blind eye. More people in the quarter meant more unpaid advertisement. He knew he hadn’t invested in the large neon sign for nothing.
The man, or kyrie, took a look around. All that could be seen for miles were factories, smoke stacks, and Dirk’s big neon sign. The kyrie wore a black suit and waistcoat with sunglasses. Long brown hair flowed down to his shoulders and his magnificent wings were a platinum white. Kyrie were kind of native to the place, so Dirk did not find this unusual at all. Though the suit was rather expensive looking for this place. Work clothes were the mainstay of the area. Maybe he owned one of the factories or something. Dirk didn’t care.
The kyrie shifted his eyes towards Dirk’s modest garage and the car sitting out front. Dirk recognized him from somewhere. Being in the people business, Dirk had a thing for faces, but it was hard for him to tell without seeing the eyes. Those sunglasses weren’t even practical since it was night time. Dirk thought that he could be blind, but soon dismissed that for his ability to drive, which he figured would be pretty hard if you couldn’t see.
Dirk sighed and folded up the gazette. Tossing it into the back seat, he returned the gaze to the intrusive kyrie while he wondered what his problem was. Now the kyrie grinned and Dirk scowled. That just caused the grin to get wider. His legs began to move, carrying his body towards the parked car. Dust kicked up as he walked and the smile became toothy.
Being smart, Dirk always kept a sidearm in the car. He reached over to the dash and took it out, sliding it under his right thigh, always keeping one hand on the trigger and another on the wheel. It was so fast and discreet that the stranger couldn’t possibly have seen him pull it out. If the kyrie tried anything, he’d get a cold .45 shoved in his face. Now Dirk just wondered if the gun was loaded or not.
The kyrie brushed the right flank of his coat away, revealing a revolver tucked in his pants. He must’ve seen, Dirk thought. He took the gun out from under his leg and pointed it out the window at the stranger.
“That’s far enough,” He ordered. Cocking the gun, Dirk hoped his message got across.
Expectedly, the kyrie stopped in his track but his smile did not falter. His teeth were a perfect white and Dirk swore he could see a sparkle. Dirk just wanted to walk up and smack the smile off the stranger’s face with the butt of his gun. It was starting to creep him out.
Amidst the tension in the air, something unexpected happened. The kyrie began to laugh at Dirk. Not just a minor chuckle. The stranger was in hysterics.
“Stop laughing!” Dirk shouted at him. “I’ll kill you, *****!”
The kyrie put a hand over his mouth and regained his composure. “You’re gun’s as empty as a poor man’s belly.”
Dirk shot a glance at his gun then moved his eyes back to the kyrie. “You’d like to take a gamble on that? Cause you’re playing a high stakes game, mister.”
“On the contrary,” The kyrie said, cocking his head to the side but keeping his eyes on Dirk. “If your gun is empty, then you’d be as dead as me if it was loaded. I can draw before you can duck, and if I miss, I can just sprint up to the car and fire in before you can do anything. Now, let’s put your club away before my shooting’s justified by annoyance.”
Dirk stared straight at the kyrie, taking in his words. He ran them through his mind and tried to pull a meaning from them. His hand gripped the steering wheel faster as he realized that one wrong move could cost him his life. He scanned his peripheral vision and saw nobody. He could shoot this smart-ass, but he might be right. The gun could be empty and the stranger could have his gun out in one minute and Dirk could be dead in the next minute.
“I hope this isn’t the way you treat every customer, Dirk,” The kyrie said. While Dirk was running through all the options in his head, he failed to remember that his problem was standing right in front of him.
“Customer?” Dirk was confused.
The kyrie took off his sunglasses and put them in his pocket. In the same movement, he drew a bag of coins out of said pocket and jingled them for Dirk to both see and understand. The smile on his lips began to fade as he grew bored with this.
Something connected in Dirk’s head when the stranger removed his sunglasses and showed his dark brown eyes. They showed age and decay around them. He knew he recognized this stranger from a time earlier in his life. “Concan?”
Concan sighed as he remembered that Dirk had a thing for noticing eyes. Removing his sunglasses was involuntary. He had brought them specifically so that Dirk wouldn’t recognize him. It wouldn’t compromise what he was doing, but it would certainly bring many unnecessary grievances.
“Yes, Dirk, it’s me.” Concan walked over to the car as Dirk tossed the gun back into the car. He grasped his former commanding officer’s hand and shook it. Dirk’s grin grew as Concan’s turned into a frown.
“What can I do for you?” Dirk asked as Concan handed him the bag of coins. “Need a lift somewhere? I thought those things on your back were good enough transportation. Getting them things are ten times easier to get here than a car this nice, that’s for sure.”
“Strictly business, Dirk.”
“Business? I thought you were still with Jandar, man. You know, swinging that sword and lobbing the heads off orcs. Those were fun times, but I just couldn’t keep up with it anymore.”
Concan rolled his eyes. This is exactly what he wanted to avoid. “It is army business, Dirk. I want you to do something for me. In a few minutes a man will come up to your car and ask for a ride anywhere. You are to drive him to the address that’s written a piece of paper inside the bag there. That’s it. Let him out and drive off. That money’s for your momentary return to the service. More than likely, that man will pay you as well. Don’t feel obligated to follow his instructions. Take him precisely to that address, alright?”
Nodding, Dirk opened the bag of coins and took out the slip of paper and read the contents. It was relatively close to here. It wouldn’t take him that long at all, but what he questioned was Concan’s motives. In his time in the service, Dirk knew that Concan was prone to taking some extreme measures to beat Utgar. He knew the address on this paper was an abandoned warehouse. He could only imagine what was going to happen to the poor soul that got into his car. Snapping back to reality, he remembered that Concan was insanely loyal to Jandar and would not do something unless he had the best intentions.
“This brings me back, Concan,” Dirk chuckled. “I’ll do it.”
“Good,” was all that Concan said before turning around and walking back to the car. Dirk wondered which direction he would be taking. Would he go forward towards the abandoned warehouse or would he turn around and go back to where he came from? He wished they could have caught up, but he knew that being a general in the army must be pretty busy.
Dirk watched as Concan drove off forwards. So he would be waiting when Dirk got there with whoever his cargo was going to be. Something definitely was afoot then. Dirk was curious. Who would be coming into his car? An undercover Utgar agent or a conspicuous bleeding orc wanting a ride to the edge of the city? This curiosity came with a rush he hadn’t felt since he left the army. Maybe he had made the wrong career choice.
The sound of heavy breathing came from behind Dirk. Someone was coming. This was the man he needed. He turned his head and saw a man running up the road towards his car, kicking up a strangely small amount of dust behind him. He was either really light or was purposely controlling it so his path wouldn’t be noticeable. The man wore a suit that looked more expensive than Concan’s and Dirk noticed an annoying pair of sunglasses on the man’s sweaty face. His brown hair was cut short yet was slightly parted to the side, bringing the word “spiffy” to Dirk’s mind.
“Need some help?” Dirk shouted at him while putting on a friendly smile and an even friendlier voice.
“More than you can comprehend, man,” He said while slowing to a halt next to Dirk’s door. He turned to look behind him, noticing that he had not a single track was there and not a single rock was out of place. It was like a man hadn’t been frantically running for his life on the road a few moments earlier. His hand rested on a holstered 9mm. Dirk noticed that the man wore a holster on his suspenders, as opposed to on his hip like he saw all the time. This man didn’t think he was some kind of cowboy. This man was a professional.
“You being chased?”
The man reached into his pocket and came back up with a handful of gold coins. He dumped them on Dirk’s lap through the window. He opened the door in the time it took Dirk to blink and he had the gun out and was seated in the next moment. “Go. Drive.”
“Anywhere. Get me out of here.”
Dirk coughed and didn’t move a muscle. He was going to milk this guy for however much he could. Customers didn’t come as often as they used to. This man had wronged his former officer and he probably deserved to get all his money taken. He didn’t look like an Utgar agent, though, but he knew that you never spot a master of disguise, because, well, they’re disguised. This man looked more like a Krav Maga Agent under the employ of Vydar, though Microcorp Agents dressed the same way when they were off duty. Either could be possible.
Another handful of coins was retrieved and tossed into the front seat. During it all, though, the man kept his eyes looking out the back window and his finger rested on the trigger of the gun. No one appeared to be running towards them, but if someone told that to him, he wouldn’t listen. Better to be alive and a paranoid yuppie than a dead schmuck.
Dirk knew that the man would have his attention out the window the whole time. Man, this would be easier than he thought. Utgar was summoning idiots now. Maybe it was time to get back in the service when your enemy thinks every stranger on the street is a Good Samaritan. He keyed the ignition and took off at a steady pace down the street. The man didn’t even bother to tell him to go faster.
Thoughts ran through Dirk’s head. What did this man do that got Concan so riled up? He had waited till he stopped to draw his gun which means that he hadn’t been shooting just yet. Would Concan kill him when he got out of the car? Had Dirk turned from a taxi driver to a ferryman? There were more than enough pennies here to pay his toll.
The man unexpectedly holstered his pistol after turning his head away from the window and staring at Dirk for a long time. Dirk was continuing his slow pace down the road. Had the man declared it safe? Why is he staring at me, Dirk thought. He wondered if he had taken a look into the passenger’s seat, where the bag of coins sat next to the folded up piece of paper given to him by Concan. Had that made him suspicious? What would the man see in it, though? It could easily just be a fare from earlier. The man didn’t stop staring at Dirk.
To lessen the tension, Dirk asked, “You have a name, pal?”
The man thought for a moment, like he had to decide if he was going to tell him. “Napalm,” he said at long last. “Like the weapon and yes, it’s not my real name.”
Admitting it wasn’t his real name? Who is this? Undercover agents don’t take obvious fake names like that. A name like that made it obvious he was some kind of agent. Was he undercover as one of Vydar’s agents, though? Plus, he responded to questions that Dirk hadn’t asked yet, like he’s had the response planned after answering the question so many times.
“You work for Vydar?” Dirk decided to throw caution to the wind. Candor was his new policy.
This time the man didn’t hesitate. “You could say that I do.”
“Wonderful,” Dirk tried to sound as enthusiastic as possible.
“You’ve always been a cab driver, or did you once aspire to do something better?” The man asked. Dirk never suspected this much friendliness.
“I used to fight in the war, but it got old around the time I got old.” It was utterly poignant. Dirk was ferrying this man to probably what would be his place of death and they were just having an ordinary conversation on the way there.
“You don’t look like an old fart. Hell, if I can last in this war at my age then I’m sure anyone else can.”
“Well, driving isn’t what I thought it would be.” Dirk wondered if he could see the gun sitting in his lap. Dirk didn’t dare try to move it as it would draw attention to it. Was the man just playing along or something? Did he know?
The man reached his hand into his jacket. Dirk couldn’t tell if it was the left side or the right. It made a huge difference, as the man’s gun was on the right. “Does seem very hard to over think. Isn’t driving just, you know, driving?”
“You’d think, wouldn’t you? I mean, sometimes it changes. Sometimes I’m cleaning out vomit and fixing windows and other times I’m getting invited into swanky houses for a drink of some fabulous wine. You gotta be friendly in this business, because your customers are very interesting people.”
“Well, I was under the impression that I was interesting, but I never imagined that other people were interesting as well.” What a cocky son of a *****.
“You’d be surprised. This city has some of the brightest life available. You’ll get a rich oil tycoon one day that needs a haircut so bad he’ll pay you ten times your usual wage to book it to the salon, and other days you get people that ask you to drive them to the ATM just so they can pay you.”
The man’s hand was coming out of his jacket. Did he have his gun? Dirk felt like he was about to break out in sweat he was so nervous. It seemed like a lifetime to look through the mirror and see the man take a carton of cigarettes out of the left flank of his jacket.
“Do you mind if I smoke?”
Dirk shook his head, trying not to press his luck.
The man registered this movement, still having his eyes locked on the driver. In almost slow motion, the man opened the pack and picked out a fresh stick. Holding it in his mouth, he put the pack back and sifted in his jacket for his lighter, which frightened Dirk even more, thinking once again that maybe the man was looking for his gun. The man took his hand out of his jacket with nothing, remembering his lighter was in his pocket. Taking in out, he flicked a flame to life and leaned in to ignite the cigarette. Time instantly sped up and the lighter was back in his pocket and the man was puffing away on his dirty habit.
If the man wasn’t someone that Dirk thought could end him for the wrong move, he would have told the man “AH HELL NO.” when asked if he could have smoked. He had just recently seen a buddy pass from lung cancer after having a lifelong career of smoking. Dirk, as a former member of the Airbourne Elite, had smoked his far share of cigarettes in his time, but had to stop after seeing his friend die. This man was killing himself, but something told Dirk that he wasn’t in the mood to get a lecture from a man driving a glorified taxi cab.
Breaking contact from the back of Dirk’s head, the man shouted, “Stop here!”
Dirk stopped the car and looked ahead. The address he had been given was still a little ways down the street. The man with the obviously fake name of Napalm couldn’t get out here. If he did, then Dirk would be failing Concan and Dirk could not fail his friend for no reason. Jandar and Concan both needed Dirk to get this man down the street.
As the man reached for the handle, Dirk slammed his finger on the automatic lock button, barring an exit from the car. The man heard the click and turned his head back to Dirk but before he could utter the question, “What the hell?” Dirk smashed his foot on the gas pedal and the car drove forwards at a tremendous speed. For the final step in his plan, Dirk ducked his head. If this man was going to kill him, he wouldn’t give him the target called Dirk’s head.
“What the hell, man?” The man repeated. “I wanted to get out there.”
Dirk didn’t respond, taking a risky glance out the window as he stepped on the brake. He had arrived at the destination, but he didn’t see any sign of Concan or any possible friends of Concan. Dirk guessed that the point was for them not to be noticed.
The man in the back just shook his head and sighed. Some people are just idiots. He unlocked the door and climbed out. “Well, thanks, I guess.” Napalm looked around him, looking for the neatest place to continue his escape. He saw an old, rusty dumpster next to the main building Dirk had dropped him off at. Speaking of the building, what was it anyway? It was about the size of a large warehouse with one large window on the front above the double doors. The lights were off, so it was probably an abandoned warehouse. How cliché.
The next thing the man noticed was that Dirk hadn’t left yet. He sat in the car, idling there, as if he was watching what Napalm was going to do. Didn’t he realize that the point of running away is so that no one knows where he went? Maybe he’d get the point if Napalm started walking away. Taking small steps away, Napalm looked down and noticed that he had made a foot print in the dirt. That wouldn’t do. Shifting his weight away from his feet, Napalm felt lighter. Instantly, no foot prints were made as he walked. It was a skill that took many years to perfect, but the ultimate Microcorp Agent is made with that technique.
The car still remained, idling. Napalm could kill Dirk. But that might give away his position.
The building’s doors swung open and Napalm instantly knew that he should have killed Dirk. He had been caught.
Walking out of the abandoned warehouse was the man Napalm hated more than anyone else in the world. It was Concan the kyrie warrior, decked out in the latest fashion. He was flanked by two other men, also dressed in the height of fashion. The only difference was that these men were actual men as opposed to kyrie. They had the look of fellow agents about them, but Napalm knew better. These men were nothing better than common Airbourne Elite wearing suits.
“Napalm!” Concan shouted while holding out his arms. The men stopped in their tracks, perfectly situated between Napalm and the building. “It proves you aren’t as elusive as you thought! My friend here, Douglas,” He motioned the man next on his right, “thought that we’d sooner see you dead than we’d catch up with you. Shows how he isn’t clairvoyant. Unlike some people we know.” Concan winked.
Napalm stood still, fuming. They’d caught him. He looked around, desperate for any path of escape. Ahead of him were his enemies and behind him was that ever annoying car, still remaining. The only way out he could see was to the side, but Napalm still didn’t know how serious Concan was. Would they try to kill him if he ran away? The men he ran away from earlier had drawn their guns, but they never shot.
“I’d leave your gun in your holster,” Concan smiled. “All we want you to do is hear our proposition again. Apparently you weren’t paying attention the first time.”
Next to Concan, Douglas had his hand right by the holster strapped to his hip. He had heard of Napalm’s reputation. Though doubt did run through his mind. If the man in front of them was going to draw quickly and murder all three of them, he would have done it without thinking. Concan had called him out on it, however, which meant that Napalm was thinking about it.
“I heard it the first time, Concan, you magnificent bastard,” Napalm replied while moving his hand down to his hip. He didn’t have his holster down there, but installing fear in Douglas would be important if he was going to escape. “And I told you what I thought of it.”
Concan laughed. His eyes never left Napalm’s. “And I told you we weren’t going to take your answer. Just reconsider, please, Nappy, before someone gets hurt.”
Dirk was through with thinking about it. He had made his decision.
“My answer still stands,” Napalm shouted back at Concan.
Dirk stepped out of the car and walked forward for Concan to see him. Trying to keep his distance from what appeared to be a dead man walking, Dirk said, “Hey, Concan! This may be a bad time, but I’d like to reenlist!” He drew his gun and pointed it at Napalm. “I can help right now if you want!”
Concan sighed. It was annoying when it was just Napalm, but now this idiot had to get involved. He wasn’t going to put up with it. In one fluid motion, Concan whipped the pistol out of his belt and put three bullets into Dirk’s chest. In a puff of blood, the driver fell to the ground, his last thought being one of shock and betrayal.
Napalm had reached his hand up to his holster, but Douglas and the other man had drawn their weapons and pointed them at Napalm. Oddly enough, Napalm wasn’t as quick on the draw as his reputation had said he was. If Concan had aimed the weapon at him, he would be dead on the ground instead of the driver over there. Napalm didn’t bat an eye when Dirk was shot. This is why he didn’t want to get mixed up with Concan’s unit.
“You killed him, Napalm,” Concan said bluntly while tucking his gun away. “I have a feeling that the military tribune won’t show much mercy on a man that’s been in their courts to often.”
Blackmail, was it now, Concan? He must’ve really wanted that job done. The psycho was right, though. Napalm couldn’t show his face in the Vydar court again. He had committed so many offences in the tundra, that they would just declare him a lost cause. A soldier that doesn’t follow the law isn’t a good soldier. They’d put him jail or exile him, or if they were in a really bad mood, execution.
“What do want, Concan?” Napalm was defeated. Concan had the higher hand.
“Same thing as I asked you last time. You have knowledge of the place and need your expertise to get in and retrieve something we’ve lost. Now, let’s give the man with influence the right answer, because he’s all that stands between you and being dead. You’re at a crossroads now, Napalm. You stand perfectly in balance between both worlds. You are among the living and the dead. What’s it gonna be then, eh?”
Surrendering, Napalm raised his arms and said that he would do what they wanted. With a metaphorical gun to his head, Napalm was herded to the dead man’s car and driven away.
The next chapter will be more hopefully be more eventful. I hope you enjoyed reading.
Last edited by dragonfire9788 : May 29th, 2011 at 08:14 PM.
Gotta Go to the Sig Bank.
Re: The Living and the Dead
I like it dragonfire, just like before it is long but interesting throughout. I really want to see where this is going to lead. I also can't wait to see how the title fits with the story because I haven't made that connection yet.
Re: The Living and the Dead
BAM! I apologize in advance for the typos, since there are probably many. I'm too lazy to proofread, again.
Richard straightened his green tie. He leaned back in his chair and looked out the window that stretched the entirety of the room. He could see the bleak, gray smoke stacks outside that were the size of mountains. They pumped the smoke from large fires down below in the factory. Tanks and other weapons of war were be made. The next shipment would be ready in two hours. Richard knew this because he ran the factories. It was what the Hivelord had trusted him to do. The factory and the practical city around it was called The Metallic Farm by allied soldiers. He was fourth in line to rule The Metallic Farm.
The sky actually looked whiter today. The smoke filling the sky and blocking the sun was purer than yesterday’s. That wouldn’t be very good for some of the prisoners in the facility. They wouldn’t be able to tell the sky from the snow-covered ground. He would order more plastic to be burned. The re-education of the prisoners wouldn’t go well if the only colored object they could see was the gray factory below them. If only the Hivelord knew how much he cared about Warren’s prisoners. Heck, if the Hivelord knew how much he cared about The Metallic Farm, he would immediately be promoted to second in line.
A loud sound turned Richard away from the window and towards the door to the conference room. One of his fellow directors had stumbled over his feet and crashed through the double doors. This one was new, so he could be forgiven. Richard remembered what it was like when the Hivelord had first promoted him and he had to start wearing clothes to distinguish his rank. He always wore a green suit with matching pants and shoes. This told all the drones that he was the Director of Production and Exports.
The newbie in front of Richard picked himself up and walked over to his seat two chairs down from Richard’s. He was wearing a magenta suit, except he added a personal touch. Instead of a jacket, he wore a snazzy waistcoat. That was odd. Marro aren’t exactly known for their personality. Richard concluded that this one had been bred to lead, unlike himself, who had to rise through the ranks of the warriors to reach his current position. It was a hard fought battle, but Richard felt the rewards were worth it.
As his magenta friend composed himself and got his chair in a comfortable position, Richard tried to remember the name that had been assigned to this bumbling newbie. The Hivelord had a tradition of giving all directors under him a human name. This was done to make reports easier to write, because it took a long time to write Ka-Bah-Ra as opposed to Richard, and the Hivelord, who wrote the reports to Master Utgar, did not like to waste time. The newbie had been given two days ago and this was his first board meeting. What was his name? Richard couldn’t put his finger on it. He could remember the name of the former Director of Storage and Imports well. His name was Josh and he was unfortunately killed in a forklift accident just a week ago. This newbie was truly a newbie, but what was his name?
Turning to the Magenta Director, Richard said, “Congratulations. Being a director, while requiring hard work, is a very rewarding position.”
The newbie smiled and spoke back without making eye contact. “Thanks, comrade. And what a glorious time to become a director, too? I have heard rumors from up top that Utgar is going to launch a full scale invasion of the tundra come summer time. Can you imagine that? A Metallic Farm on every street corner. It would be great.”
“Any victory for Lord Utgar would be great, young one,” Richard replied. This wasn’t getting him the answer he wanted, but he didn’t want to give off the impression that he wasn’t paying attention during the naming ceremony. “How does it feel to have a new name? What was your previous one? Since you worked in middle management at the stockyards, I never learned it.”
“You’ve been a director a long time haven’t you?” The newbie asked. “Like, a really long time? Longer than Josh, I think? When I first was born here, Jeremiah was the Magenta Director.”
Referring to the directors by their colors. That was a thing that the drones did, because they didn’t care what the directors did. They just aspired to be one. This newbie would have to learn the positions the colors referred to. The Hivelord likes nothing more than the utmost dedication to one’s duty.
“I remember Jeremiah. He was a hard working Director of Storage and Imports. And I remember Josh, who also worked hard but could have been a little more observant.”
The newbie snickered. That wasn’t a joke. And he had avoided the question that Richard had asked him. He wished one of the other directors would show up soon, because this new director was annoying. Maybe the Hivelord had made a mistake in promoting this obviously amateurish marro. He acted like a drone. Richard could see that this “Magenta Director” had his elbows on the table. How unprofessional.
“Well, I wouldn’t wish him more observant, because then I still would be counting boxes in Stockyard #3.” The newbie smiled at Richard, trying to connect with him by bringing up the menial jobs they all had to complete to get here.
“That was a long time ago,” Richard said. “Heck, you’re so young, I could probably still find your name active in the Worker’s File.”
“You could, but you would have to have my name first.”
So, the newbie had been paying attention to the question Richard had asked. How kind of him.
“Could I find your name in the files,” The newbie began, “Or would I have to look in one of the old filing cabinets? Or maybe even on a stone tablet!?”
Richard was just about to run over and kill the newbie, when the doors swung open and the purple director entered the room followed by the Hivelord. This made both Richard and the newbie stand up and salute their leader. He saluted back and all four marro took their seats. Luckily, the purple director, decked out in the same outfit as Richard except his was colored eponymously, was sitting between Richard and the newbie and any hostility directed at the newbie would have to go through the purple director. Richard saw the Hivelord seated at the traditional head of the table and he would clearly see Richard if he decided to strangle the newbie. He could see no options ending well if Richard sprang at the object of his hate. Thus, Richard decided to wait for another opportunity.
The Hivelord, if looked upon by a stranger, could be seen to be noticeably smaller than a regular marro. He was about a head shorter and this was further exacerbated by him being seated in a chair two sizes too large for him. It was comical almost but anybody with common sense knew better than to laugh at him. Many people knew that the Hivelord was partly responsible for the atrocities that went on in The Metallic Farm, though it could be interpreted that the Hivelord was merely turning a blind eye to the curiosities of the prison warden. The black suit certainly didn’t help the Hivelord look any less menacing.
He took a look around the conference table. Someone was missing. “Where’s Warren? Does anybody know where he is?” He shot glances towards all his directors, who subsequently shook their heads. The Hivelord sighed. “I guess we’ll have to start without him.” This wasn’t the first time Warren, the blue Director of Prisoner Detainment and Discipline, had been absent from a board meeting.
Sighing, the Hivelord pressed a button on the black panel built into the table. An old tape recorder under the table sputtered to life and the meeting commenced. “Today is Wednesday the 24th at 12:00 PM. Mark, Hivelord of The Metallic Farm, is present and heading the meeting. Richard, Director of Production and Exports, is present and leading this improvised meeting, which, the record should know, was called by him. The record should also know that since today is a Wednesday, this is not a regular ‘Status Report Meeting’ that we have on Fridays. Anyway, Alec, Director of Growth and Development, is also present as is James, Director of Storage and Imports. I now bequeath the meeting lead to Richard.”
James. That was the newbie’s name. No wonder that he had forgotten. James was such an unusual name. Richard shoved the thought from his mind. Now was not the time to think of James. He had a meeting to lead. “Thank you, Hivelord. The subject and reason of this sudden meeting is that, Valguard, a general of Einar, has come to The Metallic Farm to ask us if we could do him a metaphorical ‘solid.’ His appeal is not known to any board members and he will be delivering it himself. Let the record show that Valguard comes under the banner of peace and is being treated as a welcomed guest.”
With that said, the Hivelord reached over to the panel next to him yet again and pressed another button. Outside in the reception area, a button blinked on the receptionist’s identical panel built into her desk. Receiving her signal, she motioned to the guest that he was allowed to go inside now. He stood up, smiled, and thanked her for her kindness. The receptionist, being a marro woman, merely hissed at the thought of mating with a human, and returned to her work. Valguard didn’t understand what he did, but figured it was just a women thing. He stepped over to the door and opened it. However, he had underestimated the strength in his lizard arm (yet again) and he practically broke the door swinging it open like that. What a horrible second impression, Valguard thought to himself as he carefully stepped inside and shut the door behind him.
The Hivelord and Valguard regarded each other almost equally. Being enemies, it was almost a poignant moment when Valguard sat down at the table across from the marro directors and smiled, prepared to do business. Of course, none of them were being careless. The Purple Director had his hand rested on a revolver carefully tucked into his pocket. If this meeting went south, he knew that he wouldn’t be the one to go south with it. Valguard too was armed. A hammer, smaller than the one he wielded on the battlefield, was tucked beneath the wolf skin he wore as a cloak. He folded his hands.
“The Metallic Farm and Utgar welcome you,” The Hivelord spoke.
“It’s an honor,” Valguard said. His voice was surprisingly pure and calm for one whose war cry can be heard for miles.
“So,” Richard said. “What can we do for you, Valguard?”
“Well, as you are probably aware,” Valguard began, “a few weeks ago, you imprisoned a general who serves under the banner of Jandar. You are also probably aware that the prisoner is Finn the Viking Champion, who used to command Jandar’s 4th Army, which disbanded due to internal problems about two weeks after he came into your possession.”
“We are aware, Valguard,” James, the Magenta Director said. “Our warden, if he were present, would tell you that our prison filing system is top notch and well updated.”
This was a blatant lie.
“Your prison warden is not present?” Valguard hadn’t noticed the empty seat next to the Magenta Director.
“We are unaware of Warren’s location as this present time.” The Hivelord spoke with much candor.
Valguard nodded and decided to continue, “A few days ago, I heard about the circumstances of Finn’s capture. I heard that his troops, honorable knights of Weston and hearty Tarn Vikings, turned him over to you in exchange for nothing. Is this true?”
Nodding, the Magenta Director said, “This is true. Much like you did, the soldiers walked up to our gates and gave us the bound Viking.”
“Where is he now?”
“Warren would be the only one who could tell you.”
“Why isn’t Warren here, then?”
“We are as far in the dark as you are.”
Valguard sighed on the inside. “Does this happen often?”
“This is the first time,” The Hivelord assured their guest. “Usually Warren’s attendance record is impeccable.”
Wait a second here. Warren the Warden? Valguard wondered if that was intentional or he was named before he got the position. Why did these marro have human names instead of marro names like Ne-Gok-Sa anyway?
“But,” Valguard said, “You all do know that Finn is at least in this prison somewhere, correct?”
All three directors nodded their heads, eyes locked on the Hivelord to get the correct answer from him. However, the Hivelord was not nodding his head and the directors stopped immediately. The Hivelord, who was also planning on getting his answer from others, saw the answer in the director’s head movements, so he said, “Yes.” And the three directors began nodding their heads once again.
“Alright,” Valguard continued. In his head, he was questioning the efficiency of The Metallic Farm. “So the rumor is true. Finn’s own men turned him over to you.”
“We figured they were defecting or something,” The Hivelord said.
“They most certainly weren’t,” Valguard said. “Those men are some of the most honorable soldiers I know and would never switch sides. Therefore, the other rumor I heard must also be true.”
“What rumor?” James asked.
“Finn ordered his soldiers to commit genocide against the Eastern Dzu-Teh tribe. I heard that in the cover of night, Finn and a group of his soldiers would infiltrate a tribe and slaughter all the inhabitants indiscriminately.”
“We heard about the lack of natives in the Eastern Tundra,” Richard told the group. “But we figured it was a migration, not a slaughter.”
“That’s what they told me when I asked my superiors.” Valguard’s only superior was Einar himself. “It’s also what Jandar’s generals told me. So, either Finn did it on his own accord or it was ordered.” He paused. “I don’t want to believe the latter, but I fear that it’s the truth.”
Has Valguard come here to defect, the Hivelord thought.
“I figure Finn’s more honorable soldiers caught wind of the operation and declared their leader a villain. Why they turned him over to you instead of killing him, I don’t know. Respect, I guess. They didn’t like what he was doing, but they couldn’t kill him so they decided that you could. From what I can understand, Jandar had the 4th army disband for betraying their leader.”
The Hivelord was drawing conclusions in his head. “What exactly do you want, Valguard?”
“I want you to execute Finn the Viking champion on the grounds of genocide. Murdering innocents may win us the war, but it is a dirty way to win and I don’t want to stand by and watch it happen.”
The words that were just spoken sunk into the directors head. A soldier just asked for one of his allies to be executed in order to save neutral tribes. Why? Why not just give him a slap on the wrist? Richard looked at the Hivelord who was deep in thought. Executing prisoners was Warren’s department. Richard himself was trying to think himself, but couldn’t concentrate due to the loud chatter that just started in the reception area.
All the people situated at the table turned their heads to the door. Someone was talking rather loudly to the receptionist outside.
“What’s goin’ on babe?” Someone spoke.
“Doing the daily grind,” The receptionist said back, though quieter. Richard had to strain his ears to hear her.
“I know what I’d like to be doing right now,” The other voice said. You could just imagine the smirk that went along with it.
“Your boss would like you inside.” The receptionist was unfazed.
We need to get this room soundproofed, the Purple Director thought. He’d get on it as soon as he could.
“Babe, I’m a freaking director! I do what I want.”
“Well, maybe we can get something worked out when you’re done.”
“That would be Warren,” Richard sighed and told Valguard.
“He sounds pleasant,” Valguard said. More blatant lies.
“Fine then!” Warren shouted and stomped off towards the door. He swung it open and shouted, “Alright! Let’s get this meeting started!” His grin was as big as his ego, but it dropped like a lead weight when he saw that things were going on well without him. Someone coughed.
“How wonderful for you to join us, Director Warren,” The Hivelord said. He was incredibly amused that he brought the warden down a level. “Valguard was just talking to us about how wonderful it would be if you were here on time.”
“Was he?” Warren said while sitting down next to James. “I imagine that these meetings are incredibly boring without me here.”
“No,” Richard corrected. “Just quieter.”
“Actually,” Valguard decided to end the jokes. Business is more important now. “We were talking about one of your prisoners, Finn the Viking Champion. What his current status?”
Warren racked his brain for the answer. “Um, I think he won the lottery.”
All the directors sighed unanimously while Valguard asked, “Lottery?”
“It’s a weekly choice of what prisoner will be subjected to testing,” The Purple Director said.
“What kind of tests?”
“That’s classified,” Warren replied. “Though I can tell you that Finn is in the process of being reeducated. What do you want with him? He owe you money or something?”
“I want him executed,” Valguard said.
Warren was surprised at this answer. “Well, in my prison, we use execution as a disciplinary measure or a way to cut down on population. Or if the master orders the man to be killed. Why do you want him dead?”
“Valguard doesn’t approve of Finn’s genocidal methods,” James said.
“And if there were any way he got out, he could reform the 4th army and continue it,” Valguard added.
“There’s no way he’s getting out of this prison,” Warren said. “He’s being reeducated. The prisoners that get the honor of having that position are not allowed to be traded and will only be released if the reeducation works.”
“I’m not worried about either of those things,” Valguard said. “I’m worried about him escaping.”
“The Metallic Farm is nigh impregnable!” The Hivelord said to this ludicrous statement.
“One man did manage to escape before,” Richard muttered silently.
“He can’t escape,” Warren said with a smile. “This is my prison and it’s as tight as the word chastity.”
“I’ve heard another rumor,” Valguard said. “That someone’s coming to get him.”
“Then we’ll have him shot on sight!” The Hivelord shouted. “You have nothing to worry about, Valguard. Finn is locked up tight.”
“And if you are worried about it still,” Warren said. “Then why don’t you stick around awhile and watch the reeducation process. After glimpsing a few sessions, you’ll see that there is nothing to worry about with our genocidal friend.”
Valguard sat and thought it over. He didn’t have anywhere to be for a week. Why not? “Very well. I’ll stay and watch.”
“And we’ll go from there if you’re not convinced,” The Hivelord said. “But, for now, why don’t you take a tour of the facility? All the declassified areas, of course.”
And with that, the meeting ended.
End of Chapter 1.
Gotta Go to the Sig Bank.
Re: The Living and the Dead
Very nice writing! I am getting very interested in the Détente between the Valguard and the Marro. Keep up the great writing!
EDIT- Looking back at this post from half a year later, I realize how dumb it sounds when you try to show off a new word you just learned. We had just gone over detente in history then.
Last edited by Orcs Blade : November 24th, 2011 at 10:17 PM.
And We're Back!
Now, let me get this back up and running with a little prose experiment followed by a short section that advances the plot probably more than anything else I've written here so far.
The village had been built within and around the ruins of an old Spanish mission, standing in the desert with its bricks crumbling at the slightest gust of wind. The huts had been built with soil and adobe and the wooden remnants of wagons dragged across the sandy sea by the wandering pilgrims. The sun baked sand crunched underfoot as Johnny ‘Shotgun’ Sullivan came to a stop in front of the mission’s dried door. Its cast iron handle, a commodity in this type of the world, was near rust, like the great wonders of the ancient world. He turned to his left and stepped over the two foot wall. In its day it had stood near height of a man, but now with its last vestiges were about as mighty as a dead man. Their service to the safety of the priests that had once dwelled inside was no longer needed and God was the sole protector of whatever lied inside.
Johnny walked through the streets, past the small huts and old piles of rubbish that had once been a problem. He looked around him and covered his nose, finally noticing the smell of the place. God’s all-seeing eye had been blinded for a moment, just a moment, and the village had fallen to ruin. Its inhabitants were scattered about the dirt streets and alleys, their lifeless bodies lying in blood with their eyes looking up as if to ask their protector why this was happening to them. Their scalps were open and their brains poured onto the streets passed their rotting hair and stinking, raw flesh. Bloodied men, women, and children huddled in families in front of homes, all wounds pouring out the black pool of blood they lay in. Johnny stepped around the bodies, wondering if this was an appropriate time to cross himself. He peered inside an old sod home with its door wide open. Inside was an old man, slumped over in an old wooden chair with a pistol lying just a few feet away on the floor. Johnny pulled the door of the sod home shut and walked back into the street, leaving blood red footprints in his wake. At the end of the street stood a church with bell tower that stuck up into the sky like a minaret and Johnny walked towards it. Its right wall had caved in and Johnny could already see destruction inside. Blood was everywhere and bodies were strewn about the pews and clutching onto the wooden cross that stood at the center of the sanctuary.
It was a nightmare.
Johnny sat down next to the well in the middle of the village. It could have been a vibrant marketplace at one time. All the wooden buildings surrounded the middle, with the sod houses surrounding those and the adobe houses lying outside the ruined mission. He looked up into the sun and pulled down his hat. It was bright and warm and the smell rising up from the bodies was enough to make Johnny want to draw his pistol and put it in his mouth just like the man he had seen. A bead of sweat rolled down his face and his long trench coat was at fault, but it was a necessary evil for nighttime survival.
The vultures flew in circles overhead. Even they wouldn’t touch these bodies. The meal that attracted them was Johnny himself. It was the smell. Among the dead was a smell of flowers, lilies, almost, and citrus, but Johnny smelled like a normal dead body would smell like if he were dead. His flesh was still pure and he was the only one. Even with their brains falling out, the dead still carried signs of their curse. The green skin with the black blood. You scalp them and toss it away with the quickest flick of a wrist you can muster. The brains fall out and there is no longer any danger unless you planned on eating one of them.
A howl rose into the desert air and Johnny stood up and his eyes darted around the village. He hadn’t been followed by any man or beast and he knew that for sure. The last man he’d seen was just losing his pigment and begging of the salvation of a bullet to the skull. They loved the sound, and the ever merciful Johnny was forced the kill the man with his own Bouie knife that was as long as his arm. It was still on Johnny’s belt and the blood was still covering it, albeit a little drier than that moment. The howl had came from outside of the mission and Johnny turned to see that beyond the crumbling wall, one of them was hobbling between two adobe houses and inspecting the body of a dead woman. Johnny knelt down behind the well and reached his hand to touch his weapons on his belt. He naturally jumped towards his six shooter but that was a mistake.
They loved the sound and they would come frolicking towards it.
It finished its business with the dead woman and came over the wall’s ruins and walked past the sod houses and into square where Johnny knelt behind the well. He took out the Bouie knife and ignored the dead man’s blood caking it. He stood up and it looked at him with the same indifferent expression all of them had. Johnny crossed the short distance and sliced the knife through the air, severing its head from its shoulders. It fell down to the ground and Johnny leapt back. He knew these creatures were capable of endurance that would best even those with the God-given gift of endurance. It wiggled on the ground and its black blood pitched from its wood and stained the white sand around it. Its arms flailed and its legs kicked and Johnny walked over to its body and delivered on swift stomp to the back of its head and its existence ceased. Dead, if you could call these creatures dead.
The bright lights flickered all around and Johnny sheathed the Bouie knife, now covered with the blood of two dead men. He sat back down by the well, only to be interrupted by the howl once again. He thought its source had been silenced, but that didn’t appear to be the case. He drew the knife again and looked around again while standing up only to see a horde of the creatures barreling down the street arms outstretched. They ran with the speed to rival a horse and Johnny thought of how quickly he could down them all with his six shooter.
They loved the sound and they would come frolicking towards it.
The creatures came at him and Johnny slashed repeatedly with his knife. Gashes cut down the creatures’ faces but they kept coming, swinging their clawed hands at Johnny. One cut into his coat and he stabbed it in the head and it fell back onto one of its kind. They overwhelmed Johnny and he took over running with the creatures in pursuit. He ran back behind the well, leaving a trail of black blood dripping off the Bouie knife.
They were faster than him.
They came upon him and Johnny swung the knife and one of their heads fell to the ground and rolled away, but it was useless. One claw struck Johnny’s arm and the red blood became intertwined with the black blood. The knife stuck into one of the creature’s bodies but it bounced back with the knife in its belly. Johnny tried to free the knife, but the creatures struck him across the face and his cheek bloodied and his hat fell to the ground. Johnny stumbled back onto the ground and the creatures went with him, trying to bite at his body and consume his pure flesh. The vultures overhead seemed closer.
Involuntarily, Johnny drew his six shooter and shot all the creatures dead before they could sink their teeth into him.
Johnny had saved himself, but they loved the sound and they came frolicking towards it.
Johnny had saved himself but he had doomed himself.
As Johnny expected the black to overwhelm him, the creatures went running and an angel came down and addressed him from a whirlwind. “This is not your time, Jonathon Sullivan.” It wore a blue helmet and held a blue lance and its wings were the size of horses. He spoke in a voice that sounded like the lament of a harp and his hair flowed like the mighty banks of the Wishkah River. “You have no business dying.” And he beckoned Johnny to a greater purpose.
And now Johnny ‘Shotgun’ Sullivan sat across the table from Napalm of the Microcorp with Concan standing next to him. The tent was light and the night was dark. They had forced a drink into Johnny’s hands and two into the Microcorp’s. Concan had been Johnny’s superior since the dissolution of Jandar’s 4th army and this was to be his first assignment. His mission was to accompany Napalm on his mission.
“I don’t know how to put this any simpler,” Concan said. Nobody had responded after he had finished his briefing. “You infiltrate the Metallic Garden and bring us back Finn. Easy as pie. You know everything about the place, right?” Concan was addressing Napalm now. “So it should be easy. You get your weapons and a communicator to, uh, communicate with us.”
Napalm gave the kyrie a dirty look. It was an ‘I want to kill you’ look.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Concan said. “I can get you your sanctuary. After you get us back Finn, I have no further use for you.”
“What about him?” Napalm pointed across the table at Johnny.
“Keep him alive.” Concan said. “The Metallic Garden is a three days journey from here. You leave tomorrow.”
Gotta Go to the Sig Bank.
Re: The Living and the Dead
Well, I'm trying for shorter chapters. Can't say I'm too good at it.
Johnny Sullivan and Napalm set out in the early morning. Concan waved them out of the fort, a smile as fake as the desert rain on his face. They trekked across the permafrost all the day, keeping in mind that soon they would be approaching the northern latitude of the tundra where it turned from a chilly plain into a blizzard with the snow falling in piles every minute save for the sweatiest days of the summer. The day was carried on in silence, with Napalm focused on the ground ahead of them and Johnny squeezing the coat around him and pulling his hat low over his ears with his body hunched over to keep the cold at bay. Napalm wore a Microcorp battle suit, one he hadn’t seen in the longest time, and it’s built in heater kept the few distractions in this land at bay. Ahead of them was nothing but more flat land and gray skies and the massive Utgarian factory. Already they could see it as a black dot standing against the largest mountain in the range off in the distance.
They made camp by a small cliff overlooking a forest by a frozen creek. The sun had already descended below the horizon and yet it was barely late in the afternoon. Napalm’s experience in the tundra had taught him not to expect long days, but now he wondered if Concan’s time frame was an accurate summation. It was one that assumed they were going through the sewers, so maybe he shouldn’t put too much credence into it. Johnny found a few twigs and struck a fire so he could heat the cold jerky and bread he kept in a satchel slung around his shoulder next to his eponymous shotgun. Napalm watched him eat and didn’t say a word. After dinner, the former lawman took off his coat and satchel and shotgun and set all but coat aside by a large rock. He put the coat over his body and his hat over his head and went to sleep.
Napalm waited until he heard Johnny’s breath flatten and he stood up and walked over to the rock where his companion had set his things. He looked through the satchel and saw what he expected; extra bullets, some more food, an old photograph of a scantily clad woman, and a copy of Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Napalm figured he could have packed lighter, carrying only a sidearm and some food in small pouches on his battle suit, but it wasn’t much that would hinder their journey.
The biggest hindrance so far was Johnny himself. Dragging one man alive through The Metallic Farm was going to be tricky enough, not to mention two men. Especially one that carried a bumbling shotgun that could be heard from miles on end. There wasn’t much to hear in the tundra and when one sound was made all turned their heads to the disturbance. He knew why Johnny was here, though. Concan needed someone to make sure that Napalm didn’t run from the mission and make a home at the highest peak on Valhalla. For all he knew, Johnny was just as able to put a bullet in Napalm as Napalm was to put a bullet in Johnny. What Concan didn’t know, however, was that Napalm needed the sanctuary he offered more than Concan needed Finn. Maybe the kyrie didn’t expect Napalm to return and Finn wasn’t important to him at all. Finn was just a general who was captured by the enemy. Maybe he just wanted Napalm dead.
No. If Concan wanted you dead, Napalm thought, then he would have done it that day in City 02. No one would have missed him. Vydar or Utgar wouldn’t have shed a tear if they captured the unheard whisper that he had been shot dead.
Napalm climbed up on the rock. It had a sense of familiarity to it. He had camped here before, he was sure of it. He looked down at the sleeping Johnny and the image of nine sleeping men came into his mind. Their chests rose gently, unaware that they would be dead by their master’s hands in just a few days. Would Johnny share the same fate as them? Or would the tables turn and get Napalm this time? Concan’s had a basket full of times to kill him and yet Napalm still lived.
Concan wouldn’t be getting another chance. He would get him his Viking general and he would be done with this war forever. There were numerous islands in the sea that had yet to be touched by any Valkyrie. Their worlds were lost in the primitive time where people knew no war or hate or violence. They lived in peace, taking from nature only what they required and they retired happy in their homes where the wife had prepared a fantastic meal and the kids play on the floor dreaming of a day where they would grow up and be just like their parents.
Napalm’s eyelids weighed heavy. He turned away from his sleeping comrade and looked out towards the mountain range. The spiked peaks rose into the sky like they were trying to stab a hole in the sky. They glowed white in the faint moonlight that escaped through the dense cloud cover. At the base of the mountain a light that never went out kept on shining. Smoke rose up from it and up into the sky past the peaks of the mountains and past the clouds. That’s where they were heading, but Napalm was in no hurry to go back there. He had entered first as a helping hand and left as a departing friend. Now he was coming back as an enemy, a thief, and he felt as if he was betraying the people he had already betrayed.
“What’re you looking at?” Johnny said from the ground. He had taken his hat off and sat up, watching Napalm look off. “The Farm or whatever it’s called? Hope you aren’t so worked up with excitement that we’ll have to travel all through the night. I’ve done it on more than one occasion and I can’t say that I’ve preferred it to sleeping.”
Friendliness. “Are you watching the watchman?” Napalm said to him without taking his eyes of the mountains.
“What do you mean?”
“Are you only here to keep me from running off?”
Johnny thought about it. “Concan told me no such thing, friend. All I know is that I’m sitting in the south with the guerillas, taking shots at Khosument’s retreating army with Deadeye Dan and a few elves. See, the darklord himself got killed in the woods somewhere by forces unknown and the army attacks Ullar’s stronghold with no leaders. Obviously they fail, so we get called in to sweep up the mess.”
“I know what’s going on in the South.”
“It’s definitely the place to be right now. What’s your name?”
“Concan didn’t tell you?”
“He just told me you were one of those agents Vydar seems to love so much. He said you were just like all the others, cold, calculating, and humorless. A Microcorp agent I would say by the look of your suit there. I’ve always wanted one myself.”
“Napalm. I used to work for Microcorp before I got myself killed. Then I used to work for Vydar before I got myself killed. Now I’m working for Concan so I don’t get myself killed.”
“You’re name’s Napalm?” Johnny asking, commenting on its weirdness in his head. “I’m Johnny Sullivan. Shotgun to some, because I held off ten cattle rustlers for two hours all with my shotgun, though, where I come from, cattle rustlers are the least or our problems now. I come from the darkest days of the good book and I found myself in even darker days. Though the only difference is that here I still see hope. Why does Concan think you want to run away from that?”
“This world hasn’t treated me better than the last one, Sullivan. The only hope I have is that the next one will spare me. Anyone who has to be blackmailed into rescuing a general from hell has to look at their life and wonder what it thinks of them.”
“Blackmailed? Does Concan have your wife and kids or something?”
“He’s keeping me from a court that thinks I’m one upsetting incident away from telling Utgar everything I know. Concan killed some poor guy and if I don’t rescue his Viking for him he’ll say I did it and I wind up in Jandar’s Metallic Farm.”
“Can’t say that that would be fun. It’d be better than Utgar’s jails, though. I’ve heard rumors that he makes prisoners fight in gladiator battles. Like the Romans used to do back in the day.”
Napalm climbed off of the rock sat down on the ground. “We’d best get some sleep, Sullivan. We aren’t going directly towards the farm. It isn’t safe.”
“We’re not running off, Napalm.”
“We’re taking a back way in. One that Concan doesn’t even know about.”
End of Chapter 2
Gotta Go to the Sig Bank.
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