Freeze Burn IC/Closed
[[OOC thread here (http://forums.jolt.co.uk/showthread.php?p=14430696#post14430696)]]
The skies were abnormally clear for this time of year, with hardly a cloud in sight. It would be a day for many to take a trip on down to the beaches, or to the mountains, or perhaps just the backyard for their entertainment. It was not so for the grizzled man whose whole presence spoke of a hard life for the honest income necessary to scrape by with. Once a deep sea fisherman, and now a deep space transporter, he had seen the coming changes in the wake of the implosion of Imitora. He could hardly grasp the very notion that an entire nation, save for a small handful, had perished…no, disappeared. Still, he rolled with the waves of change in much the same way that he rolled with the furious whitecaps of offshore squalls. Steady he kept the wheel, and now he was safe again. He was the kind of man that would stare down the storms at sea and taunt the gods of the earth with a sneer and a raised tribute of the solitary finger.
Walking up the boarding ramp of the bay of his space cruiser, Deep Blue it was noticeable that he kept a strict regimen regarding the ship’s cleanliness, a habit from his seafaring days no doubt. It kept accidents at minimum, and he liked it that way. In space, accidents could mean instantaneous death.
Before the man, a cylindrical shape bound in reinforced steel and bulletproof glass, encased a cobalt blue cryo-prison. Inside this frozen prison, there was a single woman, stripped of her clothing, the expression on her face holding a slight grimace in stasis. She was attractive no doubt with her flowing raven hair, hazel eyes, fair skin and exquisite figure, but she was also a criminal of the worst sort. A homicidal prostitute, they had said she was, with a fairly long line of grisly murders in her wake. She had operated in the controlled outer territories of Tarlachian domain, but fate had caught up to her. The inside of each elbow showed the scars of illegal drug use, hardly perceptible amidst the tattoos of twin cobras that encircled her arms, with the splayed hoods gracing the backs of her hands. The “fangs” were obviously meant to be her fingers. Yes, she was a woman who relished in the dark arts.
“Welcome to my ship.” The grizzled man spoke to the cryotube, though he knew she couldn’t hear him. “I’m Bayman, captain of this fine ship. Make yourself comfortable.” He snorted a moment in self-amusement as he secured the prisoner’s tube in place, stepping back as a three inch thick titanium shell locked into place around the tube. A small window allowed a view of the prisoner’s face. “Pleasant dreams miss.” Bayman spoke as he turned away and watched as the next prisoner was brought in and settled into place.
“Soon, I’ll have this run’s catch delivered to paradise…and…I’m another three hundred thousand richer.”
He glanced to the embellished logo on the outside of the prostitute’s shell which represented the company he worked for now, Ember Corporation. Ember Corporation’s business was prisoner allocation and confinement. A welcome alternative to keeping prisoners deemed too dangerous to be kept in prisons at the expense of taxpayers. So, governments contracted their condemned to the Corporation. Problem solved, and the prisoners would never be heard or seen from again.
A short while later, he was settling into the cockpit and immediately launched into pre-flight safety and system checks. As per his contract, he would make scheduled stops in various nations, pick up their unwanted cargo, and begin the long trip to the distant prison world of Paradise.
The name Paradise is a cruel joke derived by a bunch of asshole executives at the Ember Corporation. Of course this planet is far from a paradise as one can get. The planet looks dead from outer space, the only signs that life has been anywhere near it is the armament platforms and satellites that orbit the desolate rock. The atmosphere is a thin composition of oxygen and nitrogen, not the right composition for a lot of life forms but certainly breathable to some. Unfortunately the surface temperatures frequently plunge below zero, further reinforcing the fact that nothing can live on the surface. Once you pass through the constant and violent storm clouds of the Paradise sky you are met with an endless supply of dull, hard rock. It appears as if there used to be significant seismic activity here as there are plenty of imposing looking mountains and jagged cliff lines, making Paradise a truly ugly planet.
Built into side of Mount Joy (another cruel joke) is the Paradise operational centre. This includes an obvious landing pad for whatever craft would wish to visit such an awful planet and is connected to the mountain base via a reinforced tunnel. The base consists of quarters and supplies for prison staff, the medical ward and the control room that oversees the daily operation of Paradise Prison. Despite the sterile look of the structure, the other aspect worth of note is the ridiculous amount of automated and human security. Paradise is a prison with the reputation of being inescapable and the staff work diligently to ensure it stays that way.
Underneath the surface is where Paradise truly gets interesting. Several kilometers into the crust of Paradise, the earth gives way to a series of vast and deep caverns that spread far in every conceivable direction. The Ember Corporation has mapped the tunnels but such information is closely guarded and not privy to the prisoners. An important fact to note is that there is only one exit from these caverns and that is through the command centre. Due to this natural prison, cells are unnecessary and prisoners are simply dumped into the cavern and left to their own devices.
Directly under the command post is a giant underground lake that provides the inmates with all the fresh water they need to survive and this is one of the few areas of the prison that is lit electrically. There is no natural light in the caverns and thus no way to climb out. Due to such the air is recycled through atmospheric processing machines that return air that is somewhat stale but still breathable into the caverns. Whilst there are some large ‘rooms’ throughout the caverns that are electrically lit, most of the tunnels and other areas are completely unlit and thus the inmates must rely on lamps and fire to find their way. Besides the natural water supply, Paradise also produces natural gas that emerges through vents within the caverns. These vents have been outfitted with equipment to contain the gas and allow those with gas canisters to freely retrieve the valuable substance in order for use in rudimentary gas lamps and stoves.
Besides the prisoners, the caverns of Paradise are littered with ‘junk’. This may vary from functional items such as gas lamps or medical kits to simple scrap such as a broken wooden table or a steel pipe. The more resourceful members of Paradise may be able to use such items to construct all sorts of useful implements or simply ensure they always have fuel for their fires.
The temperature inside the caverns usually hovers around 20C (68F) and this is comfortable enough for most to live, although a fire is recommended for most inmates to maintain warmth. Of course, certain areas differ in temperature, such as the lake and the natural gas deposits. These caverns are also home to a number of strange creatures. None have been documented properly but many are regarded as dangerous and have cost a number of prisoners their lives. Due to the fact these are cave dwelling creatures, they are wary of light and are easily blinded so fire and torches are an effective way of keeping them away and even hunting them.
Paradise is not designed to be comfortable or even hospitable. There is enough provided by the staff for most prisoners to survive but it is not guaranteed and even if one managed to avoid falling down a vent or being eaten by a cave beast, they must still survive other inmates and the other perils of survival. It truly is survival of the fittest down here in Paradise.
The Golden Simatar
“Well in summation, it was a simple job. To put it all in layman’s terms a backdoor into the security network opened the doors as it were for near unrestricted access to the company’s financial holdings. Insert a few lines of code into those programs and then tada! Money could be siphoned to anywhere in the world to any account. Or simply, erased. I’m surprised it wasn’t found sooner. I guess that about sums it up.”
“Mr. Whitney, let me ask you something. You may answer if you feel inclined.”
“Certainly your Honor.”
“You are aware that you are the defendant in a criminal trial that if you are found guilty it may result in you spending a number of years behind bars?”
“Yes. However being caught in an international airport with a laptop that contained the pass codes and information needed to continue with the operation or reverse it…its kinda hard to defend against that. And as you know your Honor I’ve signed a plea bargain and entered guilty plea and all that would forgo a trial. But the dolts at Lander Mining Consolidated wanted their trial. I mean for two weeks…”
“Objection your Honor! The defendant is holding this court in contempt and is lobbing slurs against his former employer.”
Judge Kollwitz, an aged man, removed the glasses from his face and looked over at the red faced, middle aged man standing at the Prosecution’s table. The Judge didn’t seem to notice the packed courtroom, the numerous news cameras lining the walls nor the menagerie of high priced Prosecutors.
Kollwitz turned his eyes to the young man sitting calmly in the witness booth below and to his left. The man looked in his late twenties, his light brown hair combed straight and he was dressed smartly in a navy blue suit and tie. During the past two days Russell Whitney had been overtly blunt, borderline casual sarcastic-arrogance in his detailing of his crime.
Kollwitz turned back to the Prosecutor. “Overruled. Would defense like to question their client?”
The defense table had four public defense lawyers, however Kollwitz had to wonder what use they were as their defendant said he did the crime. But, it was a trial, so the defendant had to have a legal team. One of the lawyers stood. “No your Honor.”
“Very well. We’ll hear closing statements, then the jury is dismissed to find their verdict.”
Three hours later, the jury brought in the not-so surprising guilty verdict; a closed-door session would be in four days for sentencing.
A man dressed in a relaxed pair of khakis and a blue polo shirt removed the phone from his golf cart. He slammed the club in his hand into the hood, leaving a large dent, as he heard the other man on the line.
“I don’t want that little fucker off the hook. Life imprisonment with parole is letting him off. He can get parole in fifteen years or sooner with good behavior. That cocky bitch probably will. Yes you idiot, go for life imprisonment without parole. I know that might not happen, but find a way damnit! Get the Judge a lifetime membership to a golf club, give him the best hooker you can get…the budget is limitless on this one. Everyone has a price. I want that shit made an example of. I don’t care how you do it, just make sure that little shitter never steps foot outside of prison walls ever again!”
Gregory Lander closed the phone and broke it on the steering wheel. He wasn’t to be made a fool of.
Russell Whitney lay patiently in his cell at Clarence City Jail to be transferred to Brimstone Federal Prison, an island penitentiary off the coast of the nation’s capital. Two days ago when he stood before the Judge and was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, he knew something was wrong. The Judge seemed different; something was just, off about him.
Russell twisted and pulled on the tight fighting, turquoise jumpsuit he wore. Whoever designed it had the smart notion of tight fitting prison clothes lessened the chance of weapons being smuggled. To hell with prisoner comfort.
“Get up, your time!” A guard bellowed at the door, a second guard stood off to the man’s left. Russell obliged and threw on the white, prison issued sneakers. He held out his hands through an opening and the handcuffs were thrown on before the door was opened. “You’re getting a medical checkup before you’re outta here. Move.”
In the medical bay, he stripped and turned his clothing over to the guards who disappeared through a backdoor. After receiving a clean bill of health, he was instructed he would receive his clothes in the transport bay. Shrugging his shoulders, Russell walked through the door. Barely a second in, he knew something was wrong.
Sitting in the middle of the transport bay was a large truck and attached to the back was a pod like object with an open, glass top, dials and readouts all along the side. Ember Corporation was stamped near the top of the device. He didn’t have time to fully register what it was before someone hit him in the back of the head. Falling to the ground, Russell was scooped up and dragged to the pod; a woman’s voice was barely audible.
“You pissed off the wrong man with the right connections and the right amount of money Mr. Whitney. You’re now property of the Ember Corporation.”
Russell moaned something before he was dumped into the pod. His vision cleared just enough to see the same two guards who got him from the cell, now dressed in different uniforms, roughly situating him inside of it. Lying in the pod, Russell’s mind was coming back online as he watched the glass ceiling hissed close. A brief spout of terror was hampered by sudden exhaustion. Russell Whitney’s world went black.
The guard shut off the gas that had knocked Russell out prior to freezing. Making sure the man was deep in sleep; the guard worked the gauges and looked inside at the man in the pod. Russell’s body shivered briefly before being still. The guard looked at the screen on the side of the pod, a yellow line blipped in regular intervals.
He turned to the woman standing behind him. “He’s stable.”
“Alright, load him up and get him to the airport. He doesn’t want to be late getting to his new home.” She said with a grin.
The group climbed inside the truck. An electric whirling sounded a claw like device lifting up the pod and bringing it into the back of the truck, the doors shutting behind.
The truck left the jail, bound for it’s rendezvous.
Three Golden Kingdoms
Garak sat in the comfortable and devilish cold 6x6 room that they called his cell. The bastards had heard him complaining to himself the first day during his waiting that the room felt more like a meat freezer than a cell. Despite it being just a mumble under his breath, the guards decided to make the conditions all the more miserable for Garak by installing two pair of high end air conditioners, one directly underneath his bed and the other directly above it, with the temperature set on a fridgid thirty eight degrees farenhiet. Coupled with the fact that the only clothes he had been given were a light tee and tightfitting pair of shorts, it would have been enough to have even the most terrible men huddled up in the corner shivering.
"Dammit Jokowscki, he's doing it again." The middle aged guard was screaming off to the other guard who was doing the routine patrols, making sure everyone was still locked away in their cells. As his partner rolled up behind him, riot baton in hand, an exaberated sigh came from the both of them when they flashed their flashlight into the dim room. Placed upright against the back wall of the room was the so called bed that the jail had in each and every cell. More like a piece of brick attached to a few springs and a frame in Garak's opinion, but he had found a use for it. Using the topsheet of the mattress, he had been able to tie it to the bars on the window, tight enough to hold it steady as he used the frame to do pull ups and other various excerises.
"Dammit Garak, why can't you just be like all the other inmates and read or draw on the freaking walls. All you're going to do is incur the wrath of those members of the Ember Corporation some more. Your lawyer is topside right now trying to negotiate a deal to get your sentance reduced, but like hell are they going to accept it if you don't even show an ounce of remorse."
Garak's mind flashed back to the trial and the disturbing video. That god damned video that was the only piece of evidence that they could throw against it. The worst part about it was that it was a complete and utter fake just used to do it's dirty deed. The video of him and his crew supposedly exucuting captured Ember Corporation employees. In truth, it was his twelve officers who were being exucuted by some mercanary army the corporation had hired in a clever trap for Garak and his fleet. How the hell was he supposed to show remorse for acts that he didn't do, nor would have ever had the mind to do before? Negotiate a deal? What a false pretense, for the judge had order him codemned to Paradise, where hell had effectively frozen over, all he was waiting for now was the ride. That's when the tell tale banging of a couple of gas grenades brought him right back to the present, and he collapsed to the floor coughing.
His vision was blurred as they had used some new form of gas, and he could feel the arms of the guards pulling him up and escorting him somewhere out of the cell. They were taking him to the medical wing he figured, probably to get some sedative or some other drug to facilitate his behavior more to their liking. Yet when they escorted him into some small tube and he heard the sudden "whoosh" of an airlock being set around him, he knew his journey had come. His nose didn't do him wrong as he smelt the first hints of the freezing gas being pumped into the chamber and his mind slowly numbed until the gas had done its' job. He knew where he was headed, to that lonely rock in the middle of Space.
Space, the cold and ugly frontier that no one wants to explore. A single mistake causes all sorts of havoc, and can easily put you in your grave. It's the only place where if you scream, no one will hear you calling out. It's the home to monsters and nightmares.
The fools think I am asleep, let them have their fun for now. I'll feel right at home.
The smallish clear plastic cell with only the two slots, one for air and the other for food and drink held only one other item. The prisoner that was about to be taken to the court-room for sentencing. 'It was an efficient set-up for holding military prisoners as they always got the lunatics that thought it was better to try and break-out than await their sentencing.' Greig thought as he hooked the chain to the top of the cage. 'If'n they have no way out, thanks to the three by eight inch hole then the worst they can do is to try and splash a guard with the refuse of the chamberpot.'
"Private Nivitz Mascalli. You stand accused of multiple crimes, including four class A, twenty-two counts of class C, and innumerable counts of insubordination. By your actions you have entered a plea of guilty. Do you have anything to say for yourself?" The head of the tribunal asked, looking down at the G.I. that had done so much PR damage to the military, half a dozen well known politicians, and a mega corp's reputation, all of which were screaming for blood, balls and Nivitz's head on a pike.
"That RFM deserved it, as did those asswipes, and for that matter so do you and your idiot intel puke." He replied with a sneer. He already knew that they'd decided what to do with him when he'd been carted in there, so getting the last digs in wouldn't do any harm.
"As you show no signs of repentance, acceptance or remorse, I hearby sentence you to permenant incarceration of the planet Paradise. May god have fun kicking the crap out of you."
With the sentencing done and over with. Nivitz's cell was carted to the 'port's prison where he was to wait for the ship to signal it's arrival.
A couple days later when the Deep Blue, with it's Ember Corporation's ID, Nivitz was sleeping relatively peacefully, or at least as much as was possible on a hard plastic floor when the hose was hooked to the air hole and the plug shoved in the slot. A few minutes later when it was certain that he'd stay out, the wall of the cell was sliced open, he was dragged out, hosed off, stripped down and shoved into the cryo tube and left to await pick-up.
I smiled at the memories as the cyrosleep over took me.
The surgery had healed near instantaneously. The defrocked...or is that the correct word for a doctor kicked out of his profession for sheerest butchery? Never mind, it matters not...
The small - less than two inches long - incision lay along next to the bottom edge of my second to last rib, right side - vanishing back into the camouflage of the tattoo as my nonhuman biology asserted itself. The tattoo hadn't been easy to come by either. Only the silver content of the special ink had kept it from being expunged...But then again the tattoo artist had known what I am, being one of the changing kind himself.
The money, an absurdly large sum when all was totaled up, was well spent though. What would look, to all examination, to be one of the larger implanted cardio stimulators was nothing of the sort. It was the highest tech audio player my not inconsiderable wealth could buy. A rechargeable microbattery with a nearly unlimited lifespan, wireless earbuds and over four terabytes of memory. Audio books and music in nearly unlimited quantity.
What?! I should have had a weapon implanted? Non, that I had already, no my music and books are more important.
I had sat through the farce of a trial with unshakeable composure. What else could I do? The country was backwards, corrupt, and it's judicial system an even worse joke. And I had slaughtered, killed and eaten, several of it's citizens... though not the victim I was being framed for. No, those I had killed - and eaten - we must make that sensational fact perfectly clear - were no innocent victims but villains of the direst sort and their deaths fully justified. And I will gladly admit they tasted pretty good to boot.
I made sure that dinner that night was a bloody rare steak with all the traditional trimmings. I tipped the jailer well as was my custom, and retired to the king-sized, silk sheeted bed I had paid them well to import for me. I had thought to read, but found my solitude disrupted by the arrival of the architect of my current situation.
I had to stifle a growl, but did manage what might be misconstrued as a smile. "Larry it's good to see you again. Have any more of your murders to pin on me?"
"It's Laurence! Laurence! You insolent..."
I rolled my eyes and quit listening to his rant until ...
"I am going to have the last laugh, since you stubbornly refuse to grant my request. Ember Corporation will be seeing to your imprisonment." Larry giggled in that annoying way he had.
The mental replay of his sneering of who, or rather what - the infamous Ember Corporation -would see to my incarceration had me stiffening. That I had not planned on, and it knifed through me despite my discipline.
"Ha! I thought that might get a reaction from you. Yes, back in the back of beyond on an inescapable prison planet. You'll never come back!”
No I might not, but then again, what I was about to give him would make it so very worthwhile….and besides I was getting bored with Earth…Or so I lied to myself.
“No! Not that!” I made myself wail and seem to cringe. And Larry, sorry I should say Laurence, accepted it without questioning. Proving himself one of the larger fools I’d ever come across. “Vult! Vult!” I called out for my rather porcine gaoler and the sweaty man made quick to hustle himself over to the cell. “Fetch me my bag the one I entrusted to you earlier”
He nodded and trotted off to his office, though it was no more than another cell with the door removed. Shortly he was back with the battered physicians black bag I had paid him well to safeguard. As impoverished as this wreck of a nation was the dollars I had given him went a long way, and I had paid well for every luxury he provided me. He had been pleased to accommodate any wish I had.
I was no physician but I had picked up a few of their skills over the centuries. I brought out a syringe from the depths of the bag. “You must sit the injection will burn and your head will reel, even if I inject it slowly.” I warned in quivering tones.
Laurence nodded and sat in the cells solitary chair – it wasn’t big enough to hold much other than the luxurious bed. I swiftly tied a tourniquet about my left arm just above the elbow and drew half a syringe’s worth of blood, swirling the vial gently so as to prevent quick clotting. Then I turned to him and had him clench his fist as I found as thick vein, and with practiced ease slid the needle in. He gasped, then cursed as my blood entered his, I could see the vein reacting, swelling red and angry. Beads of sweat, oily and peculiar smelling, began to form on his narrow forehead, trickling slowly down his face. Tears mingled with the sweat in a most disgusting fashion, but I kept my attention on his arm, pressing the plunger with careful slowness. Then the tube was empty and I withdrew it from his shaking arm.
He sat limp and panting for a moment then throw his head back and howled with laughter. “No, No one will be able to kill me! No one.”
I didn’t bother to listen to his blustering, but went about placing the equipment back into the bag and giving it back to Vult. Thought I’d taken care to break the syringe's needle and vial. In this wretched hive such was invaluable to the junkies and he protested his potential loss of additional income. One couldn't blame him, he hadn't been paid in over two years I had learned when I ws first incarcerated here. So I handed him more from the remaining pile and closed the lock on the case. I had no desire for any innocent – relatively speaking – to end up as Larry was going to shortly. The specially prepared syringe hadn’t been empty when I had drawn blood from me.
Even werewolves can get rabies…
Alcona and Hubris
*cough* *cough* *phlem* *cough* *wheeze*
The pair of cold, blue eyes looked up from the workbench where he was working.
Girl is not getting better..she has the deeper crop...f***
He stood and walked over to the doorway.
Damn Deeper...going down into the bowels of this place and brining up that damned crap. F**k...I'm just glad that Deeper F**k is going to be dead soon too...
He leaned on the wall and looked down. One more quicky...Nah, I don't need the coop
A moment later the coughing stopped and Ben reentered his small cavern. He walked over to a stone ledge and a motor. The turn of a valve led to the sound of gas flowing from somewhere below him. He took up a large peice of steel and threw the engine. The small Dyellian motor began to putter to life. The connected, cobbled together grinder began to spin.
Damn, I wish Cannibal Jack were still alive...he'd pay good grub for the Girl...
Ben placed a long piece of metal against the spinning wheel. Sparks flew into the air as he began to make a new weapon, with the newbie's arriving soon someone was going to want a better weapon. Especially those few newbies left from the last batch.
"Miss Scott, I find it a shame and unfortunate that you must appear before this court."
Standard judge bullshit. I've heard it a million times. Twenty bucks says in the next five minutes he's gonna spout off on social concerns and being an upstanding citizen. Fuck it. I zone out for a minute or two, just trying to get comfortable in the orange jumpsuit. These things are never designed for anyone with something bigger than an A cup, and the color just isn't that fucking flattering.
"I honestly must ask myself at these times…"
Oh for fuck's sake, now he's getting introspective. What is it about these god damned pansy assed intellectuals that make them always think about the state of society in response to a crime? I wasn't forced to sell shit, I did it because it was better money and faster money than sitting around pushing paper all day. Fuck, it was more fun too.
"It saddens me to see such a lovely young lady risk life and limb, putting herself out in a dangerous situation in order to make ends meet, selling narcotics and firearms illegally on a black market…"
Damn I'm tired of this shit. Forty eight hours ago this fat ass Harvard grad wanted me to show up in his chambers topless wearing a cheerleader skirt, and he'd reduce the charges. I may be a coke snorting, rock slinging, weapons trader, but shit, I have morals and dignity too. My tail swishes behind me, finally coming to a rest as the judge finishes his tirade about the evils of modern society and the downfall of civilization thanks to that damned Gangster Rap. The tip of my left ear twitches, catching some heavy breathing in the back of the court room. Someone is angry, excited, or rubbing one out. I'm really afraid that it isn't the last one.
"Yeah, your honor, can we just step this shit up. I'm missing my stories."
"Miss Scott, your attitude has been less than agreeable over the course of this trial."
He was right. I had made sure to make a bitch out of myself since the start of the trial. They had caught me with enough firepower to stop a company sized outfit, almost twenty five kilos of blow, several crates of US government issue steel core penetrating rounds for the aforementioned M16A4s, some fifty cal rifles, and plenty of chemicals to make a big explosion. One of the ones that even the US government didn't want to unleash in Iran. There was also that little black book that I had carried with me that detailed every sale I had made that year, from something as small as a dime bag to some punk ass wannabe in Socal to the ten crates of AKs that I sold to some nut job supremacists. Johnny Fucking Cochran wouldn't be able to get me outa this mess, and Denny Crane was busy. So I figured I might as well have fun.
"Your honor, really, I know what I did," I decide to go out with a bang. "But really, last year you let off some CEO who was getting a bit of a pickle tickle from fourteen year old boys in Thailand, and you wanna fuck me over for selling him the trailer park meth that kept him up for his pedathons? Gave him a slap on the wrist, and now your own son probably thumbs his prostate while pretending to give him legal advice. So how's abouts we cut this shit right now and you just tell me how long I'm gonna have to chill in some women's correctional facility learning how to do what I do better?"
My tail swished once, aggressively, as punctuation to my comment. I rolled my eyes, visibly I could see him shaking with anger. As I expected he motioned me over to the bench. I shrugged back my lawyer, if you wanted to call him that, and made my way up to the bench with an irresistibly innocent smile. "Yes, your honor?"
He leaned over the edge of his bench, coming close to my face. I could smell the scent of cheap mouthwash covering the odor of even cheaper cigars and five dollar a gallon Vodka. I could damn near taste it in my mouth, my senses picking up every little thing. Externally, the only way anyone could tell I was a "cat girl" was the tail and ears. Other than that, completely normal, and quiet attractive if I do say so myself. Internally is where I have all the makings of a more feline femme fatal. I can smell things ninety nine percent of humans can't, my night vision is better than perfect, and I can react faster than a normal human would. I can also smell things that don't normally have an external smell, like the pheromones that the judge's body was pumping out by the boat load. Someone was looking for some ass.
"Listen, young lady. I've had it up to hear with your antics." His voice was now loud enough to be heard by a bailiff who looked like a serial killer. "You have peddled drugs and guns to people who should have neither. You have armed enemies of the State, and passed on various forms of narcotics to members of this society of all ages. You tampered with federal evidence, and sold security protocol of the BATFE and DEA to the people who they specifically try to fight. Your very existence is a stain on this nation."
He leaned in closer, and lowered his voice to a level that, despite the intense quiet only I could hear. "However, as we discussed, previously, I'm sure we could work out a way for you to, pay off your debt, as it were. I have a thing for you girls that cover yourselves with tattoos, and a dirty little girl like you would be very fun. Think about it, Miss Scott, what I can do for you. We can dismiss these federal charges, get rid of the international crime, make all the narcotics cases disappear, and the worst you'd get is a slap on the wrist and ninety days for possession with intent. Think about it. All you have to do is take that dirty little mouth and…"
Fuck it. I had enough of his douchbaggery, and you'd be surprised how much flexibility you have when the high school dropout bailiff hand cuffs your hands in front of you. My hands shot up, spread apart as far as they could go, and flew up either side of the judge's head. The chain slammed into his throat, and I reached around the back of his head, gaining leverage over him. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the gun hand of the bailiff drop, going towards the plastic fantastic on his hip. I twisted at the trunk, pulling my falling weight to the right as I hauled the judge over the bench, turning him into the bailiff. I side stepped the falling weight, my tail swinging as a counter balance. I didn't lose as much as a footstep, and saw the bailiff's gun scatter across the floor.
"Dirty mouth this, bitch," I shouted, throwing a hard kick into his abs. I bent over; snatching up the S&W M&P the bailiff had just lost, and rolled the judge over. That fucker had a hard on. I shook my head, leveled the gun, and squeezed once, putting a nine mill hollow point right into his crotch.
At this point, my plan included a bunch of bad asses kicking in the door, pissed off they hadn't been paid in about four months after I was nabbed, and raining fire and brimstone down on the court room. Instead, another bailiff came through the door. He had a shot gun, but I had the element of surprise. Two rounds center mass dropped him. I could smell the overwhelming scent of fear of worry in the court room, and I'm pretty sure someone emptied their stomach into their pants. I looked over at my attorney, and shrugged.
"Thanks for nothing. I'm sure you'll want your standard fee?"
Before he could respond, I took off in a forward sprint, and vaulted off a heavy oak table over the small gate to the seating area. As I turned to leave the court room, there was one man looking up at me with one of the most fucked up smirks I could think of. Shoulda paid more attention to that little voice that said Hey, Katrina, this is way to fucking easy. I rounded another corner, moving towards where I thought there would be a back way out of the building. I was on overdrive, I could smell and hear and see everything. I could feel people watching me, and the heat as stray rounds fired by mall security level bailiffs singed past me.
What I felt most, though, was the hand that shot out from a side room, catching me square in the throat, lifting me clean off the ground, and slamming me down hard on my back. My head bounced of the tile, and things started to spin. Somehow, I was on my stomach, the metal hand cuffs being discarded for the more popular flex variety. There was some shouting, some yelling, a few threats, and claims of jurisdiction shit. Then someone lifted me again, and I felt the needle push into my arm.
I never gained a grip on the real world through the medical check, the poking and prodding feeling alien. Blood samples, some hair, checking my pulse and all that other stuff they do. They were oddly gentle as I managed to stumble my way behind a curtain, and surprisingly, whomever they were left a female nurse to strip me and search me. I think I heard a comment about my ink. She helped me into some sort of half reclined stand in a tube of some sort, and things started coming back.
"Woah, hold on," I managed to groggily get out, trying to take a step forward. She gently pushed me back. I stepped out again and she pushed me back in, more forcefully this time. The sound of metal restraints fastening around me brought me further back to life, and this time I actively tried to push around her. The restrains, across ankles and waist and arms, held me back again.
"Please Miss Scott, just relax." She closed the front of the container, and through a small window I could just make out the logo for the Ember Corporation. There was a slight chill as I tried, futilely, one last time to break free. Then, a shudder, and my world went black.
“We sit here in judgement of the man who brought about the deaths of nine civilians and caused multiple cases of injury...”
The words swam passed the ears of Kent Guffryn, who was sat behind one of two tables that faced a panel of five. Beside him was his counsel, an older man who looked like he had been in the same position many times. But for Major Gruffryn of the Tartarian Army, it was a new and strange situation for him.
The Officer, who joined the army at the age of eighteen, had spent the last sixteen years working hard, giving and following orders, and earning a good share of commendations and medals. He had been well liked and respected by all the people he had worked with. He was very conscientious of those around him and had given his life to defending the people of the Empire.
“Major Guffryn was an upstanding member of the Military and the Community. His record was exemplary...”
His eyes scanned around the room, but he could not focus. His body still ached following the battering it had taken when his former colleagues, men that he had stood shoulder to shoulder with, had released a shower of bullets at him. Several tore into his flesh, knocking him to the floor, he could still feel the stinging sensations when he closed his eyes. But now, his body was numb, his head was foggy, his thoughts no longer clear.
He had been sitting for days, or weeks, or months, he could no longer tell. It was all a blur, a mass of sights and sounds that continued to swim around him. He relaxed back into his seat, giving up the battle with his senses.
“But even with taking his former career into consideration, we have to ensure that this never happens again. It is with this in mind that we sentence Major Kent Guffryn...”
His mind once more fought to follow what was being said. He shook his head, fighting the strange feeling that he had heard something important, while at the same time not hearing it properly. Was be being sentenced to death? Was that what his punishment was to be? Yet, there was something wrong with the wording, wrong with the way it was said.
‘Paradise’ the General had said. He was being sent to Paradise. He was not a religious man, but he was sure that was how those that were had described the place that followed death. But this was wrong. Very wrong.
Before he could give it further thought, he felt two strong hands on his arms, as he was almost yanked out of his chair. His feet barely moved against the floor as the two soldiers dragged him from the court room, the eyes of everyone present following him, their look of disgust boring into his body.
He did not notice. He would not notice, as the drugs he had been given continued to keep him calm and mindless. Of course, they would wear off by the time he arrived in Paradise. By then, he would be someone else’s problem.
To sleep. Perchance to dream, ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
What dreams may come...
Honey golden memory, slices of time encased in memory's perserving amber
My slightly younger relative, Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, often called simply Turenne, was born in the great fortified castle in Sedan (http://www.bookings.net/images/hotel/org/252/252026.jpg), bordering the River Meuse. I was born in a much smaller castle slightly to the north and while our mothers were step cousins, mine branch was much more minor a noble family. My fathers name was Marrok de la Ingolf and we had as many relations in Flanders as we did in France. I had been told that he was tall and blonde with very fair skin, and most noticeable eyebrows. His teeth were remarked on for their gleaming whiteness, and his cheerful good humor had him smiling often. I think I would have enjoyed having his as a father, but his father, mine Gran’Pere who helped raise me, was an equally remarkable man.
My mother, daughter of an equally minor English noble, had met my father at the first siege of La Rochelle.. He was one of Gabriel, Comte de Montgomery, the Seigneur de Lorges’s minor Scottish knights, once part of the Garde Écossaise which had been recreated to aide in the ending of the siege of La Rochelle. Sir Hemming MacKenyon was a widower with no living family, and he had brought his daughter, Brionnè, with him.
She was, as my memory divines, a tall slender woman whose eyes were the same flashing grey green hazel as mine. And my hair was remarked to be that of my maternal grandfather, a dark woody brown, which gained some golden highlights after a summer running through the fields.
They met, married, and she was widowed less than a year later. She bore me in her husband's ancestral home six months after his death. Alone in the world, her father having perished in the same action, she came to live amid the lsuh forrest of the Ardennes. She and my father’s parents raised me properly, with a better education than many of my estate - honourable lineage, but impoverished - and had just enough wherewithal to gain me an appointment to Garde du Corps. Between their solid foundation and my most excellent native abilities, I did well for myself. I managed to send enough of the weighty –one might say golden - evidence of my success home that when I had recuperated from my near fatal silver poisoning I was able to begin my wanderings in fine style.
No descendants of the more famous branches of my family tree are extant today, and while once I hoped to use their placement to better mine, I have not thought of them in many generations. Save though for my mother and grandparents. On their birthdays I light a candle.
And dreaming of those candles their flickering warn light leads my dreams down other paths, to more deductions than actual memories...
I have come to believe from what I have learned during my travels is that my mother's father might well have been a lost kin of the Fianna, those native Kin clans which hold enclaves in the northern parts of the British Isles. My grandparents, I am certain now, knew of their Kin, but never spoke of it openly. There had been visitors some moon full nights, where shadows moved in ways not of man, but children keep secrets well, or at least I did. I believe them to have been both pure Garou but also Metis – that is offspring from mating between two Garou which is held to be taboo, passing along the Gift but unable to shift themselves. I have met few others of my kind in among the Kin that I have met. That is born and changeable, not bitten and infected. But I have been ever hungry for knowing, in this as in so many other fields, and thus persevered in my hunt for knowledge about my uncommon race. I once haunted the great and supposedly secure libraries of the Vatican for nearly a decade, sussing out all the scraps of lore concerningthe Kin that they possessed. Though it was easy as I was masquerading as a Jesuit and could move about mostly unquestioned. He had left a sour taste in my mouth though...
With the unreasonable fluidity of dreams, the sun is golden bees sing and the tree speak in tongues...
My dreams morph to a much more pleasant time. My childhood, spent in the tall grass medowns, loan brown fields and vast forests - towering cathedrals where the Divines presence is so manifestly felt - of the Ardennes. Therer amid the infinite peace, where centuries later enough blood would be shed amid the winter’s snowy drifts to make a blood pudding worthy of inclusion in the Guinnes Book of Records.
I never objected to the hours spent with the local Pere, a priest banished from Rome for the broadness of his views. He saw to my excellent education and yet gave me hours to roam free or at his side as he patiently answered all my questions – of which I was a never ending fountain.
Gran’pere, my esteemed grandsire, taught me much, how to ride, how wield a sword as a gentleman should, how to administer the small estates and towns under his minor sway. We lived only a step or so above those he governed, though I always had warm clothes and never went hungry. And my lovely sad mother was an excellent cook, and spent long hours searching the woods for wild growing delicacies for us. It was her favorite pastime, as she had no social equals – the greater nobles, few that they were in the region, felt she was below them and the common folk treated her as an outsider. But she kept up a cheerful façade – it was only later that I came to sense and understand the darkness, the ever sadness, in her eyes.
And all too soon after that I was required to make my way to distant Paris and make my name in the gleaming palaces of the royal court.
I miss those carefree days and know that I did not, as all children are incapable of, appreciate those brief years enough.
Deep Blue was a large enough space faring ship that it was necessary to land a safe enough distance from nearby buildings; more for the safety of those within the buildings from the powerful thrusters that made this ship quite fast in the mostly empty space of intergalactic travel. The airport that the cruiser had come into was centralized in the domain of The Golden Simitar, where it now sat with its bay doors open and the boarding ramp extended. Standing on the upper edge of the ramp stood Bayman, appearing by all respect, normal in his jeans and flannelled shirt. His piercing eyes kept in contract with the lift that effortlessly carried the human sized cryo-tank up the ramp. A Simitaran officer handed him the prisoner’s profile, of which he accepted and opened to glance through its contents.
Shrugging at the rather mundane crimes this man was convicted of, he closed the file and followed the lift as it settled the cryo-tank down into an extended slot. Once clear, the Bayman palmed a button nearby, flipped the safety lid over that shut, and watched as the cryo-lock slid the tank back and locked it into place with a three inch thick steel panel. Embedded into the center of the lock and at face level of the prisoner entombed within, was a small window that gave a view of the frozen man’s discomfort. Leaning forward at the window, the Bayman smiled, “Welcome aboard Mr. Whitney. A pillow perhaps?...No? Very well…enjoy your rest, my boy.”
Settling into the cockpit a short while later, the Bayman went through his usual pre-flight safety check, ensured his navigation was working properly, and soon was airborne and making rapid time toward the Three Golden Kingdoms, where he would be picking up a Garak Scharyn, a known cambion, and thusly he had been gagged by a small dog toy of a tennis ball with rope extending off from each side, all of which was taped securely with duct tape to his face. The Bayman raised an eyebrow at this, but understood the need for its use. It wouldn’t do to have this one trying to manipulate him to his own purposes.
In Oraeta, the Bayman had picked up the convict, a former Private Nivitz Mascalli, convicted for the murder of surrendering prisoners and subsequently a fellow officer. Peering into the window for this man, the Bayman let loose a sort of chilling laughter. “Oh, when the Warden hears of your crimes…you’re going to wish you had been shot instead.”
Picking up the muscular man was certainly a moment of slight discomfort for the Bayman. A gut feeling, akin to knowing when an ocean predator was near, gave him the thought that this man was more than he appeared. Still, with no evidence and nothing on his rap sheet to indicate otherwise, he was human as humans go. “Mr. Remmington…you’re certainly going to be a shark in foreign waters…” Bayman commented quietly as he secured the lock around the cryotank and departed for the ‘pilothouse’ as he liked to call the cockpit. It was likely the decades of being a seaman would never wear off for him. No, the years of mastering the seas and storms had taken their toll on him, but this new sea, the great vastness of space only begged to be explored.
Arriving in the nation of Modern Outlaws was where the Bayman became appreciative to a certain degree the raw yet creative violence of the slender feline-woman. She truly was a remarkable specimen, her physique pleasing to look upon, and yet the feral look in her eyes anything but pleasing. She seemed, even in cryostasis, certainly well pissed off. The handwritten note of her recent murder and castration of the judge at the bottom of her data sheet certainly reflected such. “Whoo little lady…quite a fire you’ve got in yourself. But, even your nine lives won’t save you ultimately from Paradise…”
Last but not least according to his itinerary for he had to visit Catawaba; the Deep Blue was on its way to Gehenna Tartarus, where convict ex-Major Guffyrn was to be delivered to Paradise. Guffyrn had been convicted of first degree murder of nine civilians, and a number of other lesser yet related charges. It seemed that the Tartaran government was testing this new option given to them, the relocation of unwanted Condemned to the prison world of Paradise.
Settling into the cockpit, the Bayman leaned his chair back and made one last check to ensure the ship was sealed up tight as it sat in port in Tartarus, The pelting rain of a bad storm was slamming against the ship, and so, with time to spare, he chose to take the time to steal a short nap. Soon, when the storm had cleared up a little and the skies a little less dangerous, he’d shuttle Deep Blue on over to Catawaba, and then after picking up any last packages, he would be sailing the endless black with Paradise in his distant sights.
I did not breathe, but sleep I did, and did dream yet more...
The scent of elephant dung lies heavy on the breeze as near waist high grass, coarse and as golden as the dry late noon sun, brushes against the heavy twill of my trousers. My eyes catch a flicker of movement as a cobra slides away from the encroaching footfalls of two legged hunters.
My companions think we are stalking lions, but they are only half right. While I don't appreciate my distant kin causing such a local ruckus with such a spate intemperate hunting I would make use of it. Some times as brazen as to be done in the light of day they have let loose their reins of sensible inhibition. My current 'incarnation' needs to die, and change. Too many have noted an overly long lack of ageing. I do not appear as weathered as twenty years in the Dark Continent should have impressed on me, considering what my age was given as during the War of Northern Aggression. Particularly since I lost the whole of family in that bloody sprawl,( 1865 ) then ventured west and witnessed there the abominations perpetrated upon the unfortunate and noble savages of the American west. All of those tragedies, and time itself, would have aged well a human. My scars are on the inside, so this persona must die a bloodily savage death at the hands of locally hallowed demons.( 1899)
Then I will return to the Japans for a time, it has been almost a century since I roamed that most intriguing of cultures. I had first arrived in the Land of the Gods in late sixteen seventy, having spent some years in Macau learning all I could at that remove. My interest had been peeked by multiple comments on my close facial appearance to the Ainu of the northern islands of that nation. I had grown some luxurious facial hair and it was the custom of the Ainu for males to never barber themselves.
It was cold and damp and completely cramped aboard the smugglers tiny, worm infested smugglers ship, but no worse than most of the period. Oh how I have come to love modern comforts but at that time the vessel was one of the most modern available, and had an enviable reputation in the frigid waters of the Sea of Okhotsk. The landing was accomplished in tiny row boats, shoved upon bare and rock-strewn shores. The locals that awaited us looked upon me with much curiosity, and some friendliness, though that was as much due to the gold I pressed upon them as to any native bonhomme. Money speaks every where. Shortly I was made part of the local headman’s family by the virtue of having married his daughter. Kiku died only five years later and as the village had already begun to mutter about me, I decamped to wander through the Divine Islands. I had learned the language idiomatically, my ears were keen and my tongue fluid and thus there was no hardship taking on the persona of a Kawata. A upper class with a caste one might say, one who was technically eta and yet above the true eta. Becoming one of these all but invisible, yet not - for we were useful- people allowed me to see Japanese life from a most unique perspective. The Kawata not only disposed of dead livestock, working as tanners and leather crafters, but more importantly the Kawata were also employed by villages and the Bafuku to catch criminals, guard and execute prisoners. I nourished a reputation as a thief taker, a fearless tracker and capturer of even the most dangerous criminals. The few that officially eluded me? Most left sour notes on my breath, but not my person, for the Nipponese are the most cleanly of people and I had quickly come to relish their notions of soaking regularly in hot water.
The amber light of dreams enshrine those memories - the hallowed with the mundane, the starkly bloody noon day executions and the sensuous nights in a woman's arms, the peace in the deepening shadows in the twilights gloaming and the rousing chill of a misty morning's dawn...
"What tempest driven curse is this?!" the Bayman demanded as he eyed the cart holding several large crates marked,'FOOD'.
"Food, sir for the guards and prisoners of Paradise." the Catawaban official replied, "Where do you want them?"
"Food? Where the hell is the prisoner?" Bayman snapped, "I'm here to pick up a..." He fumbled through the clipboard collection of dossiers and read aloud the name, "Anne Revenge. Convicted of multiple crimes and yada yada yada." His eyes pierced the official once again, "So, where's the misb'havin' bitch?"
The Catawaban withdrew a document and handed it over while maintaining a cordial tone. "My boss said you might get upset. So, you're to have this. It's a report of that prisoner having filed an appeal in court, and as a result, she's being held here for a little while longer until the case is settled. The government wants you to take this food as a measure of apology to the Warden."
"What of the burnt fuel and waste of my time?" Bayman retorted, crossing his arms in front of his chest. He was obviously not going to let the Catawabans off the hook that easily.
"That's been taken care of. You're to receive a payment for your troubles." the official replied, pulling out an envelope. Inside were bills of large denominations. He watched the Bayman take it and nod approvingly, his scowl turned to a small smile.
"Well then, business here is done. Get the hell off my ship you bottom feedin' scallop!" He concluded with a dismissal wave of the hand. He did not care for the small scowl on the Catawaban's face for his brusqueness. The cart wheeled down the ramp and out of sight, one wheel squeaking intermittently the whole time. That noise was drowned out by the mechanical whirring of the ramp closing and the locks hissing shut.
Minutes later, Deep Blue was rumbling to life and shortly took off into the skies. In the cockpit, Bayman held the wheel steady as he had held the wheel of his ship steady in calm seas and tempest-fouled seas. Ahead, he could see the skies darkening as the ship rapidly gained speed and burst out of the atmosphere into the deep black of space.
Once free of the planet's gravity, he relaxed a little and set the navigational system as active, then switched to autopilot. Cracking his neck, he rose and stretched his back a moment before heading toward the door that eventually led to the bay where the prisoners all were being held.
"Ladies and gents...It'll be a while till we get to Paradise, so please feel free to take a nap or hell, talk to your imaginary friends for all I bloody well care. And I swear to God if I hear a single question asking how long it'll take, I'll chuck the offending passenger into the black sea out there. You'll never be found again, I promise you that."
The Golden Simatar
The light tinted the cloud of smoke a dull blue before it was sucked away through the ventilation ducts. A stereo softly beat out a mixed disc that had gotten a bit too scratched up from mishandling. The room was somewhat spacious, in the center there was a table, off to the side there was a beaten up couch and some other pieces of furniture. Some of the staff watched recorded programs on the television, some played ping-pong. Six others were clustered around the table.
On the center of the green tabletop were a small pile of four cigarette packs, two packs of bubblegum, a few loose cigarillos and cigars, some minor personal effects, and a mix of money. A leather wristband watch with a silver face was dropped on top of the pile.
Four had already backed out of the game; all attention was on the final two, the new girl and Bill. The new girl, a Simatarian who'd been there for five months, wore a white sleeveless shirt, revealing a well-toned body, and a pair of standard gray pants and black boots. A half finished cigarillo was clamped in her teeth. Bill dropped his watch on the pile, confident in his straight. He smiled. “Call.”
Bill lay out his cards, chuckling with confidence. The Simatarian puffed a small cloud from her cigarillo and shrugged. She rolled out her cards, the Bill went quiet; straight flush, Ace high. She reached across the table to rake in her winnings. Bill snarled and grabbed one of her wrist. “Not so fast.”
Tarja looked at him through some loose strands of black hair, she’d been here five months and most people had been nice, but Bill was an ass. She smiled back. As Bill reached with his free hand to grab the pile, Tarja lashed out grabbing his wrist, she yanked the man onto the table. The others around the table jumped back as the woman dragged him to her. She let go of him and slammed her elbow onto the lower back of his neck. Grabbing him by the hair, she put her fist into his face five quick times before pushing him off the table.
Lying on the ground, Bill looked up to see the Simatarian leaning close, the ash at the end of her cigarillo dropped onto his face. She spoke in a calm, almost soothing voice. “Don’t try to take someone’s winnings, its very unsportsmanlike. Try again after you get outta medical Bill.”
Standing up, she stopped once on his face, his nose’s crack clearly heard and once on his groin. She half-turned, thought again, turned back and slammed her boot into his groin twice more. With a smile to everyone in the room, she collected her winnings off the floor and on the table.
Tarja looked at her newly won watch as she put it on her wrist next to her own watch. She sighed as she walked out of the room, her arms full. She had duty in twenty.
Derrick Davies, or as those in Paradise called him, Destroyer, idly sat upon the what used to be a stalagmite but had gradually been carved into a chair for his own use. It had taken over a year to carve the chair due to the limited tools that could be found down in the caverns of Paradise but that didn't bother Destroyer, he was a patient man and knew full well he would be locked away in this rock for the rest of his life. It was morning now, or at least in cavern time it was. Since they had no contact with the surface there was no telling what time of day it really was but that wasn't important.
Destroyer had stopped bothering to count how long he'd been in Paradise, it hardly made any difference anyway. The here and now was what mattered and these days Destroyer was the leader of one of the largest gangs in Paradise. After careful thought he'd chosen the name 'Immortals' for his gang, named after the elite soldiers of the Persian army thousands of years ago. Whilst no one in this gang was actually immortal, that wasn't the point. His people were elite, the most vicious, the smartest and most resourceful. That and there were always plenty of them to do his bidding. If one died there were always eager prisoners to recruit and accept, once they proved themselves.
Life in Paradise was different from other prisons. Firstly the caverns were far larger. Latest estimates had stated there were somewhere between ten to fifteen thousand prisoners in Paradise but one could go their entire life in the caverns and not even meet a thousand of them if they were lucky. Despite the vast area of Paradise, there were certain 'main areas' of the prison that were lit electronically and central to the survival of everyone. Firstly there was the lake, where everyone could gather water and where the guards frequently dumped crates of food into the caverns. Of course, prisoners could also hunt the creatures that lurked about in the caverns. The Immortals frequently did such and whilst they didn't taste great, it was fresh meat. Then there were the junk yards, certain areas used as dumping grounds for scrap and other various bits and pieces. Finally there were the natural gas stations, vents that had been outfitted with harvesting machinery, thus allowing prisoners to fill up gas canisters for their lamps and cook stoves, if they were lucky enough to be in possession of one.
These main areas were generally agreed upon to be areas of non-combat or generally neutral. Rival gangs refrained from violence and lone prisoners were safe from attacks. Outside these areas, the gangs controlled their own territories, whether they are grottos, large caves or wherever they had decided to settle themselves. Due to the abundance of space there was rarely issues regarding turf ownership but it is generally considered unsafe for a prisoner to cross into the territory of a gang that he or she is not a member of unless they are invited.
Guards frequently patrol the main areas by gaining access to the caverns via a stairway built into the stone of a cavern wall, not far from the lake. The stairway is protected by a number of security doors and other measures that ensure only guards can use it whilst prisoners must be granted special access which must be initiated from the computers in the main control room. Destroyer had made a point of not causing trouble with the guards. Paradise guards were free to treat prisoners however they wished and little fuss was made if they decided to kill one.
Most gangs used their numbers for protection and mutual benefit. Many prisoners had some form of craftsman skills and could use scrap and various items to construct weapons and other useful tools. Most gangs had their own workshops but the Prison had also established one near the largest scrap yard in order for prisoners to perform designated tasks that could earn them benefits ranging from extra food to pieces of working technology. Another important commodity for the people of Paradise is fire. The Immortals possessed one of the largest gas lamp stocks in Paradise and thus weren't as reliant on fire but others weren't lucky enough to own such a useful tool and thus they employed the old fashioned fire on a stick, which was necessary for their lighting, cooking and heating. The thirst for fire frequently resulted in violence and thus most prisoners protected their stash and means viciously.
Destroyer's thoughts wandered forward to his meeting today. He was meeting with the leader of a reasonably neutral gang as they wished to consider trade. Trading in Paradise was purely bartering. Fire was a common item for small gangs or individuals but the large gangs traded mostly in food and items their workshops had fashioned. He had plenty of food but this gang was meant to possess some very talented craftsmen so he was interested to see what they might have to offer him. Despite the gangs, some prisoners had formed groups solely based on their craftsmanship skills, forming a sort of guild for their trade. They dealt with everyone equally and spent most of their time rummaging around and trying out new ideas with their tools and basic machines.
Besides the scheduled trading session, Destroyer had also instructed his followers to prepare for a hunt. Whilst food was certainly provided it was usually the same basics, staple foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and rarely much meat. Therefore it was necessary to hunt the creatures of the cavern, despite them being dangerous enough in their own right. The Immortals had proved to possess some of the best hunters in Paradise and many prisoners sought to purchase the meat of creatures they frequently ran or hid from.
Pulling a cigarette from his stained denim jacket, Destroyer produced a small gas fuelled lighter and promptly lit the stick sitting between his lips. Looking around his small kingdom, Destroyer couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction at what he saw. People moved about with quiet purpose, many of them making a point to avoid eye contact with Destroyer. They feared him, but that’s not what he enjoyed. He controlled the people here, they did what he said. He’d demonstrated on several occasions what disobedience warranted and now that everyone understood he could be content, he didn’t even feel the urge to kill as often knowing that the mighty Immortals were submissive to him.
"Oh for the love of Poseidon, you've got to be bloody kidding me!" Bayman raged at no one in particular. However, the piece of paper held in his grasp took the full brunt of his momentary fury and without complaint. Cursing in two languages, the Bayman slammed his fist on the autopilot button and keyed several others milliseconds later. His gnarled, calloused fingers gripped the wheel and turned the ship around as the thrusters provided the necessary boost.
The paper was forgotten now, having fallen to the ground. It was a burst transmission, sent to inform him of a new prisoner being held up to be bagged for delivery to Paradise. From the nation of Rollinuff, the prisoner had been charged and convicted for crimes of a grand murder of a highly public and important government figure. Bayman didn't care for the details to it, but the added promise at the bottom of the transmission of a sizable bonus and a cottage by a sea was good enough for him.
"Better be on a cliff facing the west..." he muttered as he thought about that cottage.
Some time later, the newest passenger of Deep Blue was aboard and secured. Finally, with no more interruptions or changes in plan, Deep Blue was set back on course again and steamed the inky black seas of space for Paradise. When it arrived, the Bayman would simply need to activate the pod jettison assembly, and the pods would fire from their slots, follow a preprogrammed flight plan to the prison's receiver room, and open upon manual input from a DNA encoded access marker from the staff's top medical personnel and each prisoner carefully inspected and eventually released into the bowels of the planet to live out the remainder of their lives.
The Bayman would simply await the return of the then airless, depressurized pods and make his casually paced return to Earth to collect the remainder of his payments.
Ben Paterson stood idly within the medical examination room of Paradise, awaiting the newly delivered prisoners. Several minutes ago he'd been alerted to a handful of new deliveries and he couldn't be more excited. It wasn't that there were more ruthless scum for him to examine that excited him but the news that he'd received approval from the warden to go ahead with the next stage, open trials on humans. Everyone thought that Ben had been fired from LifeChange Industries but that was hardly the truth, they still paid him a ludicrous salary for his brilliance and the vast amounts of money that he would make them. Today was a step closer to all that money.
The security door opposite Ben hissed open and four armed guards entered, a full cryo-tube being wheeled along between them. Ben simply nodded at the stainless steel bench in the centre of the room and the men promptly moved the tank nearby and began the process of opening it. One of them handed him a clipboard with details on and he nodded in thanks. The first prisoner was a young man by the name of Russell Whitney, a completely normal human. Ben couldn't help but grin. The room cooled as the tank was opened and Russell was promptly laid upon the bench, still unconscious. He would wake up soon and be quite disorientated afterwards but by the time he was dropped into the prison proper he'd be fine.
The first order of business was to activate the machine hovering above Russell and allow it to perform a range of scans and tests, including sampling DNA and taking dental records. Whilst waiting for the test results to be displayed, Ben had the guards flip Russell over onto his stomach before he retrieved an imposing looking drill/gun hybrid from a draw. One of the younger guards was obviously new and he visibly paled at the sight of the medical tool. Ben simply smiled reassuringly.
"It's to implant the inhibitor directly into the skull. It will make your job a hell of a lot easier."
The guard nodded in understanding but even so he turned around when Ben placed the tool at the back of Russell's skull and pulled the trigger, unleashing a 'thunk' around the room. Despite how the tool appeared, the inhibitor itself was quite small and implanting it left no permanent damage on the prisoner. Of course, if a prisoner tried his or her luck and defied the guards then all bets were off as far as what damage the inhibitor would do.
A high pitched buzz signalled the results were ready and Ben quickly scanned over them on a monitor, satisfied that Russell was a normal healthy human male. Knowing that, he pressed his thumb up against another draw and waited for it to flash green and open, revealing a number of syringes filled with liquids of differing colours. Looking back at Russell, Ben retrieved a syringe with a light blue liquid inside and returned to his patient, quickly injecting the substance into Russell's neck. The man was now starting to stir as his consciousness returned so Ben promptly batched up the small hole in Russell's head and indicated to the guards he was ready to move on.
Ben followed the same procedure with the rest of the human patients, Anne Revenge, Kent Guffryn and Nivitz Mascalli, although Anne received a yellow substance injection, Kent got a green one and Nivitz received an orange injection. Otherwise their medical examinations were no different to Russell's and they were promptly moved along.
The next patient was a man named Remmington, apparently the last human on the list. Once placed upon the slab, Ben initiated the scans and noticed Remmington was far more aware than he should be. Although it wasn't of any major concern as everyone dealt with being frozen differently, Ben motioned to the guards to keep an eye on Remmington whilst he retrieved his implanting tool and went through the usual process. Even if Remmington was awake, he wouldn't feel any pain as the implanting device delivered a quick shot of local anaesthetic before implanting the inhibitor, just in case of such situations. When the results came back, Ben arched an eyebrow. It appeared this Remmington character wasn't quite human after all. Of course it didn't really matter, Ben simply amended the medical file. Besides that, the sensors had noticed a device implanted within Remmington. A more thorough analysis had determined it to be a media playing device. It was the first Ben had seen of such things but it wasn't a weapon so he wouldn't remove it. Indicating to the guards that Remmington was ready to go, one asked about the injection and Ben simply shook his head.
Three more patients passed through medical before Ben was finished, a Katrina Scott, Garak Scharyn and Revelin Sloane. Their personnel files indicated none of them were human and the tests confirmed such. After implanting all of them with inhibitors, Ben sent them on their way without an injection. They were not eligible candidates for the trials and thus would be left alone. Besides, there were plenty of other humans in Paradise to trial the effects on.
Whilst most of the prisoners were at least somewhat conscious by the time they left medical, the active inhibitors in their heads kept them drowsy and cooperative. Any attempt to do otherwise resulted in an increased level of weariness and even a migraine for some. This allowed the guards to easily lead the prisoners through the various security passes stationed on the downward spiralling staircase that led from the administrative portion of the prison to the containment portion.
When the final security door open in front of the massive underground lake that acted as the water supply for the prisoners, twenty armoured and heavily armed guards led all the new prisoners out onto the bank of the lake. Since they were in one of the heavily monitored safe zones, none of the other prisoners would dare attempt any action against the guards or the newcomers. The still groggy prisoners were sat down and a bag of basic equipment was given to them within a plastic bag. A metal spoon, some bread, two apples a small blanket and any of their personal effects that weren't deemed weapons, including their clothing. Prisoners didn't always receive such generosity but prison had received some extra supplies upon the last delivery and thus they were passed on.
With that done, the guards returned to the stairway that was built into the cavern wall and the security door sealed behind them. Once they disappeared the inhibitors were deactivated and the newcomers would find their minds clearing once again. They would be somewhat stiff after the freezing but all were given a clean bill of health and not expected to die in the immediate future, at least not of natural causes. As the prisoners became more away, a voice interrupted their confused silence thanks to the speakers mounted around the lake area.
"Welcome to Paradise."
The Golden Simatar
Russell dreams were normal to a point. Lying in a hammock under the shade of palm trees on a warm, white sandy beach sipping cold beers, yes that was the life he imagined. His money safely tucked away in several accounts, living on the interest; just living the good life. However thats where the normality ended, they seemed to swish chaotically from color to black and white, then periods of his white, sandy beach turning cold. Then, his visions faded to black.
He felt like he was coming out of surgery, his body was fairly numb and the sounds around him were heavily muted. Russell's fingers twitched and he felt his toes confined in shoes as he tried to wiggle them. His first, blurred vision was of the floor, his shadow being unceremoniously dragged/carried down flights of stairs. As feeling returned to his body, he was more capable of moving by himself, though he still felt zombified.
The zombie state lasted until he felt himself being shoved to the ground. Russell took the bag that was shoved into his hands, not really registering what it was. He looked around, his vision clearing, yet his mind not registering what exactly was happening. He tugged on his turquoise jumpsuit, prison. Yes, that registered, but the rest was simple visual images that didn't sink in.
Sitting on a rock, Russell watched as more people were dropped off and as the last person was, the armored people that had been standing there departed. As he watched the other people regain their bearings like he was, the announcement over the unseen loudspeaker sparked his brain. Prison, Tube, Ember, Unconscious, cold...
The images that he had been collecting were starting to collect and form. Russell looked around him. "Fuck."
I was more awake and cognizant of my surroundings than any of the others I think. They stumbled and nearly tripped many a time, and one was even being carried - but I had no reason to cause trouble and make the armored guards aware of the state of my mental facilities. Besides being quiet and heavy eyed gave me a chance to observe unhindered. Though I was aware of an unnatural state of lassitude which vanished as soon as the guards did - as well as the fact that something had been implanted in my skull - just as I was aware that my media player was still within me. But those two would be taken care of later.
Nor did my naked state bother me, the chill cave temperature meaning little to me in the way of discomfort physically - but psychologically I have never enjoyed being cold. Fortunately my body temperature has always run a couple of degrees above human norm - and that is not that unusual across the spectrum of the human race.
Once the guards had left my unknown compatriots and I on the shores of the lake I stood and stretched broadly, looking about with open curiosity and survival instinct wariness as I did so. I noticed the longer term residents about observed us with much the same attitude. I hoped we would not be rushed, assaulted, before we had a chance to gather our wits
"Welcome to Paradise"
That announcement - tinny voiced from the speakers I noted here and there about the immense cavern - brought a snort as my luxurious stretch turned into a short series of exercises to get my blood flowing even more quickly. Once reasonable limberness had returned to me, I began dressing. Mansilk boxerbriefs, Terramar silk thermals, an heavy angora silk blend knit pullover, boiled wool pants, money belt, double sided leather vest, two pair of angora silk blend socks, Oakley SI 8 assault boots, then second to last - my ankle length buffalo leather flannel lined duster. And I was pleased to see they had even left me my hat.
The clothes were custom tailored and expensive - I had spent liberally to make sure that I would have long lasting clothes. Once I had learned of where I would be imprisoned I was certain that the regular availability of clothes was highly doubtful
The money belt was empty of paper money - I had deliberately left all such monies behind. I knew that it most likely wouldn't be useful here, but three silver and a penny jangled in my pants pocket, as well as a book of matches. My dusters outer pockets yeilded a few other items. A dozen or so toothpicks and a folding travel toothbrush in a small tin- my habit to carry such. One never wanted dinner caught in one's teeth, it could become evidence. A comb - which I promptly used to bring some semblance of order to my mane. Tidiness was a long engrained habit. My Oakley assault gloves were still rolled in the main pocket of the duster, and tucked in one is my lucky rabbits foot and in the other a small tube of chapstick. Four pieces of of individually wrapped hard candy - clove flavored - and a half used max-pack of stale gum, which I promptly unwrapped a stick of and began masticating, ignoring it's brittleness. That I had forgotten I had, but was pleased to find.
I looked around at the others about me, most still very groggy, counted how many sticks were left and sighed inwardly.
“Here mes ami’s, this will get your juices flowing, clear out the foulness in your mouth” My accent was as I was - based in sixteenth century French with much added on and over laying. I offered the pack around . It would leave me three pieces, but it would accrue me greater benefit to share rather than to hoard the gum.
And tucked in the breast pocket of the duster, a treat for later, in private, Davidoff cigarillos, the tin still sealed.
It was a strange feeling, not knowing whether he was still asleep and dreaming or whether he had come back to reality and was facing his final destiny. Not that he cared either way, his head was not exactly as clear as it had been when he was part of the army, or a part of the normal world for that matter. Inside he hoped that his head would remain as it was, he did not want to look at what he had become. He was sure that he would not like what he found.
A distant memory played through his head. Had that been a dream? He remember being dragged out of court, the eyes of all those present watching him go. Each set filled with hated. He had faced that before but never so intently. Never in such a confined space, and never all focused only on him.
The cloud that filled his head seemed to clear for a moment. Around him he saw people he had never seen before. Some were armed and one seemed to be doing something to a body that was propped in front of him. He blinked, trying to fathom whether this was still a part of the dream. It was so hard to tell anymore.
Before he could take it all in, Kent felt a hand around his arm and he was being dragged out of the room. Once again everything became a bit of a blur as he walked - at least he was sure he was moving by his own steam – downward through what felt like a never ending series of security passes. Obviously those in charge wanted to make sure whoever entered never came out again. He was surprised not to see the warning ‘All Hope Abandon, Ye Who Enter In’ hanging on the wall as they finally reached the end of the stairs.
Sitting down where he had been dropped, he clutched at the plastic bag that had been thrust at him. Its weight was oddly comforting. He could not explain why, but it was. Maybe it was the feel of something normal in a strange place. Maybe it was having something that belonged to him. Or maybe it just illustrated that even the most ordinary thing could looked good when you had finally hit rock bottom.
His thoughts were interrupted by a voice speaking in a very normal way. The thought of being offered a piece of gum made him smile. He nodded his head and accepted one of the pieces. He did not normally chew, but he guessed this was the start of a new life, so what the hell.
“Thanks,” he mumbled, palming the stick for a moment. “Much appreciated.”
A kind act in Hell, he thought, as his fingers worked on the wrapping. He popped the gum into his mouth and began chewing slowly. He had never realised just how good it was until now. He guessed there would be a lot of stuff he used to take for granted that a person would give their right arm for.
A blast of vomit spewed from Nivitz's mouth as he awoke with a start. The gas that had been used to knock him out prior to cryo-freezing always caused that particular reaction in him. Fortunately for all involved, he'd been dumped at the outer edge and his waste went all over the floor with a bit of the most violently hurled goo splattering the safety door. Staggering to his feet, he looked around as he spit out a bit of the bile still in his mouth and throat.
Feeling a little stiff, he looked about the cave and felt the back of his head to see if there was a lump or anything. It was a little sore, more so than he thought could be accounted for being dropped by the guards. Rubbing his stubble covered head before wiping his mouth, he began stretching his lanky body to work out what could only be the cryo-stiffness. He noticed a small bag that held what he'd been wearing as well as a few other odds and sods. Beginning to pull out his clothes, a man dressed like a refuge from a old western romance novel cover, minus scantily clad female lead, offered a stick of gum to everyone as they began waking.
"Sure, I'll take a piece." He said as he finished tying his shoes. They felt somewhat funny, like everything else on this silly planet felt, like it was much too light. Patting down the various pouches and mini-pockets of his outfit and began filling it with bits and stuff. He accepted a piece of gum and popped it into his mouth.
"Name's Nivitz." Was his introduction, at least for the moment, as he cleaned the taste out of his mouth. The place was slightly on the cool side but nothing more than that. He hefted the smallish bag, noting it had some food, a blanket, spoon and some of the general survival crap that they issued in boot. "What're yours?"
"Name's Remmington" I replied in response to Nivitz's introduction as I moved on through the slowly recovering group.
I kept the finger tips of my left hand slightly curled under. The fingertips of the fore and middle finger that I'd run through the small cache of coins were blistered - the pain was worse than the actual damage. I am an Alpha, a Master Werewolf, but against even me silver is an effective weapon. Some of the weakest of my kind would be discomfited even by carrying silver on their person.
I usually went nowhere near that pocket ungloved, but I had forgotten to stash some of the ever so useful disposable medical gloves away. I had long made a practice to store silver coins there. I had once defeated another Were by shoving a few down his throat. They had been getting harder to come by though as the world raced past such niceties as coinage tied to actual precious metals.
Three Golden Kingdoms
It is always an odd sensation to sever the connection between the mental sphere and the physical sphere of being. It has it's uses, allows people to think you are sufficiently subdued by the zombie like appearance of your motions, but all the while your mind as sharp as a fresh blade from the smithy. I could tell just how far we went down into the depths, and the extensive measures they were using to disoriente the lots of us. Still, I allowed myself to play the part, I need not to cause undue and unwanted attention at this time. Only the implantation of that wicked device do I have any quarells with, but I imagine that given enough time, even that will be dealt with appriopately. I have lived in the deep, dark corners of space for years, using only my skills to survive, and survive I had. My talent for conscripting people into my service served me well in the deep black, and I suspect that it will serve me quite well here as well.
When the scent of fresh water fills up my nostrils, I brought myself from my mental shell and allowed the transition to slowly take hold. A few coughs and sneezes later, and the drowziness and white shade over my eyes dissapated, letting me to get up and take in a proper view of my sourroundings. I noted the hidden cameras and the microphones, and even that railing, but most of all, I noted the space of the place. Vast as the deep black herself, and nearly as dark apart from where strategic lights had been placed. It is my sort of place, a place where I could carve out a sector of my own and rebuild The Brotherhood. I could thrive here, in this dark and secluded place among the horribles that no society wanted back. I suspect I'm probably the only innocent person here in this hellhole, but then again, the actions of the universe are not mine to be meddling with. Yes, I will thrive, if only because of my true parents, the fiends of the Hellfire that they were. My gifts are far more than just these looks and the ability to talk a person into selling their souls, but I shant display them soo willingly, to give those here an edge if ever we meet on a field of battle.
As I dug through the meager bag of supplies, I was disgusted, but not surprised at the lack of materials for survivabity. Yet a smile did come when I found my jacket, and clothes, even my belt with the two holsters. Yet that smile was crushed when I noticed that the two beautiful and personalized weapons that were supposed to be in the holsters where missing. The two of them had cost me over 10,000 Rikos and to have not even a clue where they were just about tipped me over the edge.
"Classless bastard." was all I managed to mumble as I vainly looked one more time to see if the beautiful weapons had somehow slipped down into the bag. Satisified that my babys were not anywhere near this floating ball of rock, I took a deep breath and starting to throw off the ugly piece of crap uniform that the jail had provided me. Stripped down to my navy boxor-briefs, I kicked the wadded clothing away and began to pull on my own garments. First it was the loose brown pants that my mother had given me on the day I departed, which were quickly tightened up a tad by the belt with the empty holsters. My dusty brown scavenger boots slid on over some white cotton socks and I tied them as tightly as I could. The old things had been a sort of good luck charm for me in my years out in the void, and I was not about to let some punk try to take them off of me when I took my much needed rest. Next was the gold undershirt that merely served the purpose being a layer between my chizzled chest and the comfort of the my jacket before sliding on a new pair of gloves that I had purchased during the trial. It wasn't much, but it provided me with enough sense of my old pride that I turned my attention back to the rest of the group who were on the edge of this lake.
To be perfectly honest, none of them scared me in the least, but I guess that is a side effect of being a child of fiends. I highly doubted I would run across them too often in this vast place and was not feeling particularly gracious or friendly. Yet when the Frenchmen offered the gum, a precious treat down here I'm sure, I couldn't refuse. So I took the stick and slipped it down into the pockets of my jacket, knowing it would be of better use later.
"Thank, I guess." I said with a half hearted smile that anyone with an ounce of perceptiveness would have been able to see through. I took one more look around the complex that would now serve as my home. It was time to start carving out my dominion, and see what exactly a life sentance in Hell was going to be.
From the very edges of the great lake one figure remained completely enshrouded in the shadows. His clothing; black canvas pants, a grey sweater with a collar with a glimpse of yellow fabric on the inside, a medium rust-brown shirt underneath that, and dark brown steel toed wolverine boots. Over the sweater, he wore a worn, but quite comfortable black leather jacket. His eyes were dark brown, nearly black, matching well with his dark brown hair. His face remained still as his eyes took in the details of the newest arrivals with interest.
"And so the story begins..." he whispered quietly, before flicking his hand in a forward motion. From the shadows, dozens of other prisoners stepped forward silently. Per a universal unwritten rule amongst prisoners, each gang was allowed to show up and essentially do what they could to convince those newcomers to join their ranks. However, distance was maintained, and no threats were to be given in this rare absolute "cease-fire" locale. All knew the Warden and the guards would be watching anyway and it better to wait until the darkness swallowed the prisoners again.
Stepping quietly along the shores of the lake, he halted at the designated location marked by a pile of rocks, with the uppermost rock etched with the Black Order's insignia. Here, he crossed his arms, spread his legs and awaited the arrival of the other gangs, all of whom no doubt were quite near. Many of them were noisy in their movements.
"Paradise my ass." he spoke aloud to the new arrivals, his piercing gaze chilling to behold in the dim lighting emanating from the bottom of the light fixture at the base of the pillar next to him. "You best get your wits about you lot, or you're bound to find yourself having dinner...on someone else's plate before the night is through."
By now the prisoners were looking at him, wariness in some of their eyes, as expected. "Ary Rollins, former pirate of the grand seas of Earth, with many a ship at my keel!" he introduced himself with a simple wave of his hand. "And if you know what's good for ya, you best stick with me and my crew."
From behind him, the movements of his subordinates drew the attention of the newcomers. It was clear his "crew" were vastly numbered.
Rollins grinned broadly at last, revealing the vampiric fangs he sported. "If not...well...it's open season on your hearts."
The Golden Simatar
Ember Corporation, thats not Simatarian. Okay, start backwards from the source. Medical exam, several days holding, the sentencing...sentencing. Yeah, the judge was different, okay how long between that and trial? Five days or so? Further back, trial ended, Lander em...Lander. Pieces began to form in Russell's mind. Lander must know the head of Ember or someone close, paid them off, paid off the judge for life sentence, paid off the police to let Ember goons get me...now, where am I?
He had been pacing in a calm manner at the edge of the lake, his mouth moving with his words in his head. He hadn't noticed the man offering gum till he came to him. Russell looked at the man and then at the offering. He smiled politely. "No thanks mate, don't care much for gum."
Turning back to his own, thoughts Russell looked over at the group he had been deposited with. Probably all rapist and murderers, so this prison didn't sector prisoners by crime classification. He could hold his own in a fist-fight, but this was above a regular bar fight.
The man turned around as he heard voices and movement behind him. At first Russell thought the masses would attack, but none came. One however did step forward. Russell looked at the man...bloody pirate, knew it, this place is oh Christ fucking shit. His thought process turned inherently vulgar as he saw the fangs of a vampire. Simatarians were infamous back on Earth for their intolerance of vampiric species, now he was stuck here with one, probably dozens more, and no silver to be seen.
Russell looked over at the Ary Rollins character. "If I may ask, where exactly is...here?"
Alcona and Hubris
The Wright was moving near the Lake. Recently there had been word that one of the lesser gangs had gotten their mits on some scrap valadium. Really they had been trying to use standard methods on the stuff and it had gone rather badly. Not unexpected the wright mused. It was one thing for the gangs to construct their own metal shops, but quite another to have the knowledge to properly deal with various metals and alloys that might show up.
There were a few others about who knew enough to deal with the stuff, but most of them had long been recruited rather lavishly by the larger gangs. That left the small fry rather lacking in knowledge. Of course the wright was semi-master of the piece shop run by the corporation, and independent of the gangs.
As Cartwright entered the area by the lake he paused, there was a crowd of newbies here. It looked like Rollins was making a pitch about joining his crew. Bloody pissant Pirate
He stopped and considered Rollins and the newbie asking questions.
'Oh he has to show his fangs to be threatening' My internal chuff is entirely unamused and it's all I can do not to roll my eyes. The Dread Pirate Rollins been here so long he's forgotten how to be a vampire. My internal amusement cracks my surface slightly - but the baring of teeth I give him in return is purely that of an apex predator, nothing amused much less friendly about it. Though a human might mistake it for such.
He may have a gang of barcaroons behind him, but how long has it been that he's had to fight an equal? I've never bowed down to the vamps, and some have become good friends once they realized that I am their equal. I have no intention of starting now. I am here, in Hell, for a reason and it's not to become part of his little cave running condotterie.
But despite my brief flash of canines, I am not going to say anything at the moment - a wise man once said to me "to save face, keep lower half shut." I will listen for now, and ask questions that need answering only if the others do not.
The non human - no his smell was not human, though there were some similar undertones - the overly handsome mano who'd tucked the gum prudently away for later need - it would be interesting to see his reaction to this. All of theirs would, and would tell me much. I have no opposition to forming a small, select pack, survival actually dictated this, but I am a picky sort and I'll take only those I can trust into my pack. For yes it would be My pack.
Three Golden Kingdoms
As the vampire made his presence known, I couldn't help but snort just a little. Only a few minutes into this sentence and already I am being accosted to join someone's little army. Underestimated already, and with my life threatened, perhaps it would be time to show off the spunk that so often got me scolded by my mother as a child. I dug through the pack and picked up the bread. I dug through my pockets one more time and gave a grin when I found the tiny crumbs that I had been looking for and carefully sprinkled them on the bread before turning to the vampire.
"Ah, quite the welcoming party you've brought us new little children in the playground. A bunch of lapdogs to a bag of dead weight who wields some fangs that look more like a child's toy than the real thing. If you are so in need of food, here have some of this."
As the last word fell out of my mouth, I tore the bread in half, and kicked the half with the garlic sprinkled on it right at the vampire. Hell, I didn't care if the legends were true or not, but I am not going to be anyone's servant in the deep black. So let him choke on that bit of stale, brick hard bread, it's not my cup of tea anyway. I'd rather have fruits and meat, or a good piece of garlic toast if bread must be had.
"Piss off you dead weight." I said in the most defiant tone I could muster as I picked up the bag, throwing it around my shoulder and began following one of the streams running off from the lake into what looked to be the deeper caves. The perfect place to start a new kingdom, but every kingdom needs heroes and heroes need trophies...
A deep rumble of laughter echoed around the lake soon after Garak made his bold statement to Mamba. The vampire had an ego on him and no doubt would not take well to the blatant insults. Highly amused with the little scenario, Destroyer stepped out of the darkness, completely alone. He had plenty of men waiting just out of sight but this was a neutral zone so he didn't feel the need to have a squad of soldiers guarding him.
"Well Mamba, it appears you have not made the best impression... as usual."
Destroyer took a moment to gaze over the newcomers. A mismatched pair certainly, some looked like hardened criminals but others looked like they belonged teaching behind a desk in some faceless office building. Noting that the prison had been kind enough to give these newcomers their belongings back, Destroyer couldn't help but shake his head. He hadn't received any such treatment. Regardless of such, he looked reasonably well kept. His hair was cropped quite shortly, as if it had been shaven and just regrown. He didn't wear a shirt but his body was clean, although scars were not scarce. Faded jeans and solid military style boots completed the outfit.
"Don't mind Mamba there, he thinks because he has sharp teeth he's somehow important around here. For those of you familiar with the penal system, you should know well enough that it is difficult to survive on your own. There are a range of... congregations that you may join, some better equipped than others."
Destroyer eyed Mamba and his men once again, giving them a somewhat mocking grin. Despite Mamba being physically stronger, Destroyer wasn't afraid of him. The Immortals controlled almost all of the scarce silver in Paradise and thus were equipped well enough to deal with a few vampires.
"I won't bother you with threats, I'm sure you've already gathered this is a dangerous place. If you are interested in being with people that can protect you, supply you and generally make existence in this 'paradise' somewhat bearable, follow the passage behind me and we will see you. The Immortals will not hunt you if you do not join us but it would be ill advised to cross us."
Giving another antagonising grin to Mamba, Destroyer spun around and immediately the passage behind him lit up, as far as the eye could see, with individual lamps, indicating a good number of the Immortals were guarding Destroyer's back. Pleased with the effect, Destroyer began a casual stroll down the tunnel, heading back towards Immortals territory.
Ben Paterson sat at his desk, within the privacy of his secure office. Many prisoners had been gathered at random before the arrival of the newcomers, awaiting their own injections. This would continue until nearly fifty percent of the human population in Paradise became participants in the trial. As Ben always said, the larger the sample size the more are likely to be left alive. He wasn't really expecting to see many deaths due to the injection but it was possible, these things just happened sometimes.
If the trial was successful, Ben would be one step closer to a release on the market, where billions of dollars were waiting to be claimed by himself and LifeChange Industries. At the moment the substance wasn't particularly precise, the side effects could not be guaranteed completely but there was a seventy percent chance that there would be a side effect. These things took time but eventually Ben would perfect the substance and people would be able to pick and choose. Once he achieved that he would have enough money to buy his own damn planet and get away from this rock forever.
Smiling to himself, Ben rose to his feet and pulled out a phone, promptly activating a speed dial number.
"Warden... we're ready to begin injecting the others. Good, I'll see to it myself."
The first thing Revelin was aware of when he came around fully was that his head ached. For a moment he thought it was a migraine, but those usually focused around his eyes, and this was at the base of his skull. He shook his head and the pain disappeared. Shrugging he assumed it was just a side effect of the cryo mixture. He'd never been frozen before, so he hadn't known what to expect.
He looked at the two bags he'd been tossed. One was a plastic bag with some food and other supplies in it. The other was a hiking pack. He opened the back and examined the contents. No weapons. He had expected that. However, he hadn't expected the cornucopia of supplies. He dragged out a pair of boots, soft leather with kevlar soles and toes. There were about three sets of clothes in the bag. He pulled out jeans, boxers, socks, and strong warm jacket. He pulled them on quickly and returned to his examination. His lip quirked on the right side as he examined the other supplies. He would be fine. He then found an envelope with his name on it sealed with the royal crest.
He opened the letter and read. The letter opened by telling Revelin the cost of getting him transported. A low whistle escaped his lips. A cottage on the West Cliff, he thought, They really wanted me on that transport. He thought back on his last meal before the transport he...
It was then that the pack of gum reached him. He took a piece. "Merci." He smiled pleasantly at the Alpha. "You all can call me Sloane, for now."
He tossed the bag of guard given supplies into his pack, along with the letter. He was just about to speak when the vampire had arrived.
Sitting on the ground with one leg tucked behind the other, he watched the whole scene unfold. It was interesting, to say the least. His brown eyes flashed from person to person, and his smile grew.
"The welcome wagon is rather intense, aren't they?"
He popped the stick of gum in his mouth, enjoying that too cool sensation one gets from consuming mint. He shut his eyes for a moment and sighed.
Welcome to the rest of your life.
I hate coming out of a low. Highs are ok, slowly letting the world come back to reality, watching the dancing cartoon unicorns and talking four headed squirrels slowly disappear, or slowing down from the speed rush from the blow. But lows, lows suck. I hate being groggy, I hate being slow. I shake my head a few more times, letting my dark brown, almost black hair fall down my back as I try to grasp what exactly is going on.
I can feel my hair down my neck, which means one thing: I’m naked. And surrounded by men. Well, mostly men. If there is one thing I’ve learned, this is not a good place to be naked and surrounded by men. And fucking a’, its god damned cold. I scramble to grab my clothes. My clothes, the same I was wearing the night they snagged me. Well, that was kind of who the fuck ever I pissed off. And it seems that they decided to toss me a bag of food, too.
I dressed quickly, forgoing any underwear as I pulled on a pair of worn yet sturdy cargo pants, and then a thermal long sleeve shirt. Over this came a black wife beater style tank top, and my hand went instinctively to my side. The usual Galco Miami classic was gone, as was the Czech made wonder nine that usually resided there. It had been my brother’s CZ-75. The first thing to do once I get outa here is get that gun back. But then again, to get there, I gotta fucking get out, first. Last came a medium brown zip up jacket that hugged my frame, then a pair of Army Navy surplus boots.
I shoved the lacy black thong (sometimes you wanna feel pretty) and plain jog bra into an inside pocket in the jacket, I’d handle that later. I also checked the inner pocket of the jacket, the Benchmade folder I had taken to carrying was gone as well. Logic would say that my Microtec OTF in the back pocket of my jeans would be gone as well. At least they were kind enough to leave some small tokens of that past life. A washed and gutted chapstick tube held two ounces of everyone’s favorite narcotic, and it was half way decent. It’s not an addiction, but it passes the time. My Surefire light was also there, but with its low battery life how much longer it would hold out was questionable. My back pocket had some cash in it, well, kindling now I guess, and a get out of jail free card. The name of some big wig military guy who paid me to get guns for his private wars. A lot of good that did me. My ride side pocket was still empty, as it had been on the I got snagged, and my left had a casing for a nine mil round and a single Trojan (hey, you never know, right?).
I ran my hand over my face and though my hair once more as I started to stretch out and get everything untangled. My ears twitched, I could hear large groups of people moving in the darkness around us. Closing in, but not threateningly. Not yet at least. My tail was still swaying so that meant everything was still working for me. But the hairs were standing on end. I didn’t need to blink to adjust to the darkness of the cave, but I did anyway, to keep up appearances and all.
Then there was another person in front of me.
Here mes ami’s, this will get your juices flowing, clear out the foulness in your mouth
French, nice accent, half way cute, dressed the part. I can dig it. I smiled, accepting the stick, and quickly unwrapped it.
“Thanks much. Name’s Katrina.”
I popped the stick into my mouth and started chewing. The piece was brittle and dry, as gum usually is, but I worked it into a chewable mass, making sure to keep it off my sharper teeth. It tended to stick. I was about to ask him why he was in here, when voices belonging to the footsteps I picked up started talking.
My ears twitched, unconvinced, as I was offered a few shpeals on who the top dogs were. My tail just hung there, which only happened when I was half way asleep or just didn’t care. In this case, it was both. Warnings about join or die, don’t cross us, blah blah blah. Shank a fool on the layup and all that prison shit.
I chuckled as the pirate grinned, and smiled right back. “Nice fangs, I got some too,” I muttered, running my tongue over razor sharp carnassials teeth.
“So we have a bullshit artist, because if it was open season on anyone who didn’t join him, then those guys,” I pointed over to the group of Immortals, “wouldn’t be around now, would they? And then we have the tall dark and mysterious type leading a group of Immortals. What fun.”
My tail started swaying again, this could become interesting. Fuck it. I looked back at the French man with the gum. Well, he looked like a man, but I could sense he was something a bit different. Still, he had the leader type branded all over him, and I really didn’t feel like hanging out with the Dread Pirate Roberts. Captain Sparrow I could deal with.
“What’s up with all the join to survive types. Where is the join to get the hell out of here, or join because we have the best parties? Or is there no viable third party candidate?”
Revelin slowly opened his eyes and smiled up at Katrina. The grin was wide and pleasant. His eyes half-closed. It was one of those smiles you couldn't tell if it was genuine or not. It looked nice, though.
"Considering where we are, escape plans seem like a waste. Though a team with the best parties would certainly be fun. Though I can't really imagine what kind of entertainment we could make here."
He stood up and stretched again. Rolling his shoulders to get more of the stiffness out. He rolled his neck, wincing at pain that had nothing to do with stiff muscles.
"Does anyone else have a pain in their neck?"
Alcona and Hubris
Cartwright actually almost clapped at the Destroyer's presentation, far more effective.
Cartwright's eyes focused on one of the attractive girls in the party...Attractive, she'd make some pull for whoever tricks her out... Then he noticed her canine fangs. Of course she'd likely suck the poor bastard out dry...
Cartwright leaned on a stalagtie. He could leave that twit Mordok hanging for a bit, this group seemed rather less 'lost' that some of the newbie's he'd seen about the place.
I ignored the other’s naked discomfort and hurry to dress as I had learned to in over five centuries of life - and if living in Nippon hadn't taught me, then being a werewolf had certainly cured any innate discomfort. As well the religious teaching of Pere in my long ago youth had not emphasized the utter silliness of the au natural state of the human body being “sinful, or if he had I forgot it at the Court of Louie, where all manner of wanton and most pleasant behavior abounded.
“Thanks much. Name’s Katrina.”
I nodded and tipped my hat to the young lady cat– women were special creatures, most far deadlier than most men, and deserved thusly my utmost respect. And I had been properly raised. “It is my pleasure to meet you Katrina.” Returning her smile with one of my own and a respectfully appreciative look, but nothing beyond that – for me not to note her beauty, would be held by many, as sign of disrespect.
"Piss off you dead weight."
The nonhuman had never mentioned his name, but if he had bothered to introduce himself I would perhaps have called after him as he took his meager belongings and left vanishing into the darkness. Throwing the garliced bread at the Dread Pirate had been silly, stupid even, but the young were full of such. I gave a classically Gallic shrug, while keeping a very close eye on the vampire, not trusting him to ignore the provocation. If he made any move against me, or those who had arrived with me, he would find himself surprised.
"Does anyone else have a pain in their neck?"
I stepped closer to the younger werewolf and kept my voice to level that would give us privacy even with the vampire about. “No it’s a pain in your head and we’ll have to discuss it later” My eyes flicked to the Dread Pirate Rawlins for the barest instant then back. I hoped this would remind Sloan of the undead ones keenness of hearing. What ever they had implanted in us would come out later so to speak.
“Plans are always good to have, as are parties. But first we should see more of this place.” I glanced dismissively over at the vampire, and then looked to where the Immortals were disappearing “I am not inclined to join any of these groups. I would rather have a group of friends than a gang of cringing subordinates.”
To the Group as a whole...
I considered for a moment and spoke slowly to the small group “Perhaps we should leave together, at least for the time being. There is truth to the old adage of safety in numbers. Finding a place to begin should be a priority. We are going to be here a long time, no matter what we are able to effect eventually.”
He looked up as the various groups began congregating at the edges of the pool of light that was this cavern. There were a couple possible reasons for them, some more annoying than others, but all unwelcome, or so he thought. Their actual reason surprised him as one of them introduced himself as a pirate, of all things, with a recruitment ad. On top of that he had the aura of a wanna-be. Only the wanna-bes ever felt the need to make the threats known. The bats and rats were excellent examples, always bragging, always engaging in rep-building, but he'd yet to meet more that a few that could toe a ghost.
"Actually yes." He replied to the man asking about the pain in the neck, "Thought does anyone notice that this planet feels light, or is it just me?"
As he spoke, he noticed a tail, a cat tail flicking into his sight-line. Looking over, his eyes widened in surprise. A bast was present and calling herself Katrina, a very disturbing thing indeed. They were quite rare, always resulted in chaos, many times for the better, and attractive as well. Moving over so that he caught her attention he asked, "Miss Bast, what brings you here?"
"If I may ask, where exactly is...here?"
Rollins let his gaze take in Russell with a keen eye. He caught the none too subtle changes of emotion flittering across the man's face like waves upon the sea. A virgin in these waters really. If he didn't learn to be a survivor quickly, he'd die even more quickly.
"Here is no longer a question you should worry about. Here is home. Here is where you'll breathe the last air, feel the last beat of your heart, and ultimately die, likely in a forgotten cave somewhere, where no funeral would be held in your memory. Though, if you prefer, the crackshots up there," he thumbed toward the ceiling though it wasn't directed in any particular location, "like to call this place Paradise. I call it home. You might as well do the same because no one has ever escaped Paradise and with their overly laid security protocols in place, no one EVER will escape. You'll be dead long before you even get to the surface and should you by luck and chance get to the surface, you'll freeze to death within five minutes."
He would have continued speaking but the hostile tirade from the one whom threw bread at him, littered with garlic across its meager surface, and then stalked off following one of the streams. The fool was an idiot, he could see. The stream he followed would momentarily lead him beyond the "safe zone". Even if he did nothing against the idiot, that one had put his life solely into his own hands, and perhaps if he was lucky, he'd die a painless death. "Run straight into the maw of the croquint, and you won't even live long enough to scream..." he muttered in the man's wake, his voice barely spoken at a whisper. Next to Mamba, one of his crew was quick to scoop up the fallen bread and stuff it into a pocket somewhere on his person.
"Well Mamba, it appears you have not made the best impression... as usual."
The pirate merely shrugged, "At least I don't lie to them. It's not all tea and crumpets down here, and you know that most of all, Destroyer." He let Destroyer speak his piece, then watched as he turned and left down his corridor, his own men emanating from the numerous cracks and shadows along the route.
"An associate...if you will." Rollins announced to the newcomers with a wave of his hand, "At least one I can respect enough." His grin was feral. "But, my advice to the lot of ya, find yourself a clan to join or form your own if you so wish...just know, it's better that way. On this world, the rules are simple. Only the strong survive. The definition of "strong" is up for reinterpretation from time to time however."
Shortly thereafter, the feline girl spoke up, and her demeanor was attractive to say the least. Mamba allowed a grin to cross his face, an honest grin at that. "Parties are a'plenty amongst me crew if you must know. Why, Ol' Buur over here holds the standin' record for the pissant drunkard. You'd be welcome to challenge him up on that." The man in question, a large burly man well over six feet in height let out a raucous laughter, as did a number of the others with them.
The invitation by Remington to the fellow newcomers to form their own group was admirable, but Rollins would let them be. "If a party of your own you wish, then so be it. Just know, this lake and the short surrounding area is completely neutral land for all here. Violators of this agreed upon peace will be punished by either the guards or any one else here until the law here is reaffirmed. Saavy?"
With a flamboyant display of a deep bow, he narrowed his eyes and faded backwards. "Each major clan has their own nooks...be careful where thy feet tread if ye are ill willed!"
The Golden Simatar
Russell had been observing quietly, trying to figure out his best course of action. He looked at the group he had been deposited with, the tall man in the finer clothes was offering to lead them in their own group. A new venture in a hostile territory, a high risk endeavor and there was a good chance the gang led by the pirate vampire and the other man who had appeared earlier would try to annihilate them in order to shave off the competition.
So, its either a pact with the Devil already here, the Devil standing two feet away, the Vampire or going off on my own.
As Rollins broadcast his final words, Russell made up his mind. Collecting his bag, he gave a look at the group, might as well depart on semi-decent terms. "Good luck to you lot."
Russell walked calmly towards the tunnel that the man called Destroyer had disappeared down. He walked carefully, more so from the unevenness of the terrain than fear, though there was some of that. Into the den of the lion.
Russell disappeared from view of those at the lake as he moved into the tunnel.
"Bill's watch and two packs of smokes says the Simatarian is dead within two hours." Tarja said as she watched the monitors. The room had about a dozen guards inside of it, some still dressed in the armor they had worn when they had deposited the prisoners. Tarja looked around as she gently lit a fresh cigarillo with a match. "Any takers?"
"Fuck that Tarja, its a losing bet. Destroyer's gonna laugh his ass off when he sees him, boot him out and Rollins will probably torture then eat him." The man at the weapons control said. There was a laughter in the room from his comment.
Tarja smiled, gently puffing on the cigarillo. "Okay, Bill's watch and two pack says the guy who threw the bread at Rollins is dead in two hours."
That bet, there were takers.
“No it’s a pain in your head and we’ll have to discuss it later”
Sloane nodded and softly murmured. "Alright."
He sat back down where he'd been resting a moment before. If there was one thing Revelin Sloane knew, it was that you never took an offer too quickly. One needed to weigh their options. Make sure the benefits outweighed the costs. However, he couldn't see any of his options as good long term choices.
He could go with Remmington. Who seemed like a helpful, strong, and intelligent bloke. He didn't, however, know the planet as well as the other two gang leaders. On the other hand, Revelin was somewhat drawn the the Alpha, though following werewolf instincts might not be the best idea.
He could join up with Rollins. Sloane shook his head to that. He didn't like pirates that much, something about the whole buccaneer thing set him on edge. Plus, he really didn't like vampires. So that option was out.
Which left him with Destroyer.
Sloane tried to weigh the pro and cons of that choice. Unfortunately, the bloody jerk hadn't stayed around long enough for Rev to get a feel of him.
He huffed out a breath, and crossed his arms. Well Rev ol'chum, you've got yourself in a fine mess this time don't you.
He watched as the Simitarian left to follow the Destroyer. He couldn't say he was upset. The kid smelled like greed and fear. It turned his stomach a little.
He pondered the case for moment. He knew he couldn't stay by the lake forever. He'd just give himself a bit more time to decide his plan. If push came to shove, he'd shove off alone for the time being. Though, that sounded the least appealing.
Alcona and Hubris
Cartwright nodded sagely and then turned to the assembled group. "You know he is right...down here you need weapons...though I suppose some of you here are used to being weapons. Normally I don't give a rats ass about newbies. They have zero value to me, but if your going to form your own little tribe down here, well then you need to trade for some and quick" The smile that shown on his face was slightly predatory.
"Of course I do happen to have a rather piss poor selection I might be willing to trade with you on...if your interested that is...Or don't...no skin off my nose...but they can be useful..."
Cartwright pulled off of a rope sling from across his back to reveal a quite odd weapon. It was approximately five feet long with a slightly curved blade attached along its back to a wooden handle with ornately 'woven' metal straps of a grey silverish metal. One end of the blade ended in a rather nasty looking tapered spike while the 'bottom' end formed more of a rounded blunt bottom that had several small spikes sticking out.
The real facet of it all was it was so worked over that one couldn't really tell from what it had been manufactured...as though the whole thing had been wrought from some form of steel rather than peiced together.
"I can't offer you this kind of quality for the meager stuff you guys have since this is obviously more an advertisement than anything else...but I've accumulated a pile of semi-decent weapons that you might find useful til you can afford someth'n better."
Cartwright didn't really know why he had decided to try and trade with this lot...but hell arming them with some cast off weapons for fresh bread seemed like a rather low risk endeavor. Well actually they weren't his weapons, they had been the trade items of some poor sop known as Lund. But Lund had pissed off the Destroyer somehow and now Lund was no more, though his weapon stash hadn't been discovered until recently by the Wright himself.
So there Cartwright stood looking like the broad shouldered man he was with a decided calm look. His clothing that looked to be some odd blue uniform but patched here and their with a grey material and a jacket of similar grey material with a bit of fur fuzz to it. Not excactly inspiring confidence, but his rather easy going nature...leaning against a stalagmite and ornate weapon made him a contrast to the more dramatic entrances and exits of the other residents of this hell had made...gave him more the air of someone who wasn't working any complex angle. Which of course ment he was likely trying to work an angle.
It is my pleasure to meet you Katrina.
I kept looking around at the basic surroundings, watching for anything that would go bump big enough to mess up this little landing party. Or, if nothing more, waiting for the fangster on the cliff edge or one of the Immortals to do something. I could feel another set of eyes on me, off in the distance. They were the types of eyes that belonged to someone who I was unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your view point, used to dealing with on a regular basis. I’m sure I’ll have to deal with more of that shit later, which could always be a good thing.
Considering where we are, escape plans seem like a waste. Though a team with the best parties would certainly be fun. Though I can't really imagine what kind of entertainment we could make here.
Another looker. This place might not be half bad at all. Though he’d have to kill the stoner smile. I liked a good hit as much as the next gal, but hated the stoner look. A bunch of wanna be hard asses who think wearing your pants around your ankles makes you a bad ass, or a bunch of weak sauce hippies. All the other stoners in between generally shunned my kind. Not for the whole half woman half cat thing, but the fact that I also tended to move more of the more volatile stuff. It was were the money was at.
“Well,” I shrugged, “if there is a way in, there is a way out. Has to be. Otherwise, the guards that kept us half drunk wouldn’t be able to take leave on shifts, or go home for the weekend, or get their lad mags. And as for partying?” I turned and gave him a wickedly mischievous grin, “I make my own fun.”
Perhaps we should leave together, at least for the time being. There is truth to the old adage of safety in numbers. Finding a place to begin should be a priority. We are going to be here a long time, no matter what we are able to effect eventually
I could get used to that accent. The Frog was right, of course. It was better to deal with a company of likeminded individuals on an equal footing. None of this blood in blood out master and follower shit. If I wanted that, I could just find the local Crips or Bloods, and listen to angry rap while lifting weights all day. Don’t think the white priders would want me around, on account of, well, ya know.
And safety in numbers had only failed me once. Though one last cursory look told me exactly how shitty that failing could be.
“He’s right, at least for now. If I know anything about gangs, they can blood us in later. I don’t feel like subjecting my ass,” and I meant that in many ways, “to the established status quo. Of course, if I did, then I wouldn’t be here, would I?”
I started off towards a lake that one of the others in our group had grabbed a few mouthfuls from when I noticed another prisoner moving into my sight line. He walked in that sort of purposeful way that was meant to grab your look.
Miss Bast, what brings you here?
Bast…Bast…I know the word, but I couldn’t place it. Shoulda paid more attention in class. Egyptian, I think it was. Someone in Cairo buying a crate of FAMAS rifles had called me the same, but with slightly more negative connotations.
“Well, they say it had something to do with buying, selling, and moving guns, narcotics, and other little nasties that most proper and righteous governments tend to not like in the hands of everyone else, as they put it.” I started walking down towards the lake, my throat overly dry and the back of my neck burning and itching. Should have packed some lotion.
“Sold a few pounds of government hush hush explosives to the wrong rebel group, or a few tons of guns to the wrong freedom fighters. Coulda pissed off the wrong CEO by upping the prices on the blow I got him, or ticked off some Cubans by cutting back on the x I was moving down in Miami.”
I dipped cupped hands into the water, splashed some on my face, rubbing it along the back of my neck, and taking a few long gulps. It was slightly metallic in taste, with hints of a non lethal amount of heavy metals. Run off. They also bathed in it up stream, but not often, and were otherwise smart to keep human waste out of it. The coppery tinge of blood, too, but not human. The fun of cat like senses, I could taste things that most other humans would never know existed.
I stood and turned back towards the group, slinging my sack over my shoulder as I returned to the group. “Then again, there was also that time I was trying to cook the perfect cheeseburger and accidently set the Van Allen belts on fire.”
No need to lose my sense of humor.
“I make my own fun.”
Revelin chuckled. "Considering that rap sheet you just listed, Trina. I'm sure you can and do."
Sloane offered his first real smile to the cat woman. It wasn't as broad and silly as the fake one from before. There was a tiny flash of fang, two dimples appeared on his cheeks. His eyes flashed impishly.
"Though you escape point is true. I had heard a rumor that the guards are here for life, like us. But that might be just a rumor. On the other hand, I'm sure they do need their skin mags and candy bars. So you may have something there."
He winked. "No fun without a little sex and candy."
His smile slipped off after a pensive moment. "I hope my teasing doesn't offend. Sometimes humors don't match."
Three Golden Kingdoms
As he followed the trickling water away from the lake, the lights began to become few and far between, until finally there was darkness. If there had been light, or anyone around to notice, Garak was wearing a ridiculous looking grin upon his face. He knew that sooner or later that the dead weight was going to strike back at him, if he survived long enough. He also knew the amount of peril he put himself in by striking it out on his own, knowing full well the safety of group mechanics in a hostile environment. That was the only reason he had ever assembled his fleet of pirates in the first place, the subtle protection that numbers carried. True enough he had become somewhat of friends with a handful of those he had brought into his service, but in the end, all of them were merely tools of his own protection. He could have easily done so with the group he had been dumped out with, yet he could sense the passive aggressiveness that the Frenchman had. It was a subtle undertone on an otherwise friendly demeanor, but it gave all the impressions of one who desires to be a leader, and Garak had vowed never to bow down to anyone or anything.
With his vision now completely useless, he let his hearing guide him along his way. The soft rushing of the stream was enough to guide him adequately here in the dark alone, but he would need to find some other measure to assist later, once he carved out his own niche. A sudden whoosh from in the distance brought Garak back from his planning and reminded him of total lack of weapons and that vulnerability. He had seen stalagmites dotting all over the caves when by the lake, and decided to check along the walls for any that would be long enough to fashion into a spear. The cool and wet touch gave away the rocks' true nature before Garak even began to feel it up and down to make out its' shape and size. This one was too small, but he had come upon a small cluster of them and began to feel each one up to see if any of them could be used. Finally reaching one that he had deemed right, he put his foot on the base of the form and then pushed with all his might, straining against the earth to break it free. The first droplets of sweat were beginning to form on his brow when the CRACK! came and he stumbled over, along with the broken piece of rock.
He could feel the base of the now broken rock to be mostly flat, knowing he had made a clean break with his maneuver. He picked up what would be his makeshift spear and slowly began to grind it against its' broken base, with a few excess pieces falling to the ground. It would probably take an hour or so, but Garak planned to be armed and dangerous, doing so would only make his little antics back by the lake seem like sanity compared to the foolishness of roaming this complex weaponless.
As Russell moved deeper into the tunnel following the Immortals he found himself being watched by men holding torches, the fire reflected in their eyes as they gazed upon the newcomer. None of them said anything, they simply indicated Russell should continue. Whilst they provided the light necessary to make Russell's brief journey somewhat easier, the men were armed with a multitude of crude weapons and wouldn't hesitate to use them if Russell displayed any hostility.
After approximately ten minutes Russell found himself in another large cavern, not unlike the one he was originally deposited in. This cavern stretched high enough to escape the reach of light but the walls were littered with pock marks which upon closer inspection appeared to be natural and man made doorways. As Russell was motioned further towards the centre he would notice stairways and paths leading around the perimeter of the cavern and several people using them. The floor beneath Russell's feet began to rise as he moved forwards, having to weave in between stalagmites and more armed men and women.
Destroyer watched in silence as one of the newcomers approached him. Sitting in his stalagmite throne, Destroyer was somewhat disappointed with his guest, a man that certainly didn't appear as resourceful as some of the others that had joined Paradise with him. Nevertheless he would give the man a chance to prove his use. Anyone was welcome in the Immortals as long as the could contribute to the well being and prosperity of the gang. Destroyer wasn't interested in people that simply leached off the work of others, that type never survived long down here.
"Welcome stranger. I'm glad to see that at least one of you newcomers has a head between your ears. This is the general cavern of the Immortals. As you can see it leads off in many directions to a range of shelters and other territories under our control. Would I be correct in assuming you wish to join us?"
The Golden Simatar
As Russell proceeded through the cavern, his eyes continued to roam over the tunnels and caverns that he passed through. He was suitably impressed, this group was highly organized and the man who controlled them certainly was either highly respected or highly feared; Russell was inclined to believe in a mix of the two.
He couldn't help but let out a low whistle as he entered the main chamber, this group indeed was highly organized. As Russell continued, he finally saw his destination rising above the rest of the floor, the man who had made himself known when they arrived sitting upon a throne cut into the rock. Ego maniac anybody?
"Welcome stranger. I'm glad to see that at least one of you newcomers has a head between your ears. This is the general cavern of the Immortals. As you can see it leads off in many directions to a range of shelters and other territories under our control. Would I be correct in assuming you wish to join us?"
Russell didn't take his eyes off the man on the throne as he spoke, Immortals, Persian elite guards, guy has a good education. Would that make the vamps gang the Spartans? The Simatarian smiled politely at the man.
"Yes I would like to join you."
It seemed that the charges against the Bast were more on the nature of a political annoyance than that of an actual offense, however it was unlikely that those crimes were done otherwise inside the law. Her claim of setting fire to the Van Allen belts in the quest of a cheeseburger made him smile.
"So nothing major." He said as he began looking for a smallish stone with a couple special properties. Ideally it'd have a fairly smooth side and a rougher side. Padding down toward the water he began looking about on the side of the lake and in the shallows. As he looked, he turned his head a bit to examine the others and asked, "So what are the rest of you here for, and what are your plans for the moment?"
but I've accumulated a pile of semi-decent weapons that you might find useful til you can afford someth'n better."
I looked the weapon he held up over. Not a specific weapon but a combination that looked useful. I stepped closer to get a better look. It looked well made, but how it handled would be more telling than appearance.
"Might I see it? I querried. He smelled of smoke and iron and sickness - though it was not his own, it riddled his clothes not his person.
Alcona and Hubris
"Might I see it?"
Cartwell narrowed his eyes. "None of us is here cau'se were just misunderstood boyscouts." He held the weapon out even. "I'll let you look but keep your hands behind your back..."
It was obvious at closer inspection where the hammered welds occurred that brought the pieces together formed...The blade was one piece and obviously a less typical form of steel, the wooden handle looked like it was a reworked ax handle with the straps between them out of another form of steel but formed a braded strap with welded fans holding it to the blade.
"Yes I would like to join you."
Destroyer produced a somewhat mischievous grin and nodded. This man's fate was in his hands and he couldn't help but love it. Despite being a notorious murderer, Destroyer hadn't actually killed that many people since arriving at Paradise. After establishing himself with the Immortals he'd found his desires met simply by being in control, by being able to influence the world around him. Of course, the murders he had committed had been brutal and very public, it was an effective manner to spread fear with.
"Firstly we must establish a few things and ensure you understand how we operate. The Immortals is not open to just anyone, we are a somewhat exclusive operation. You cannot become a member unless you can contribute to the prosperity of the Immortals. If you have nothing to offer us, we have nothing to offer you. So let's hear your story. What did you do before you came to Paradise, how did you end up here, do you have any specific skills or talents that may be useful down here?"
Destroyer and his men waited patiently for the newcomer to spill his story. Their first impression was that this man wouldn't be of any real use but there was always the possibility he could do something worthy of the Immortals. By restricting membership in such a manner, Destroyer had ensured the Immortals were one of the most productive and resourceful gangs in Paradise and he would never sacrifice that just to gain a few more members.
Ben Paterson watched calmly as his medical staff went about injecting more prisoners. The medical ward possessed a number of cells to keep prisoners over long periods of time if they needed prolonged treatment and thus it was possible to have twenty-five prisoners injected in a single session. The inhibitors kept them harmless and so the process was quite easy.
So far there had been a few deaths due to adverse reactions to the injection and he would personally oversee the autopsies to determine what exactly happened but otherwise everything was going according to plan. Some subjects experienced a little nausea and headaches but it was nothing severe. Ben knew the first group would begin displaying symptoms soon and the inhibitors would record their vitals and brain activity as this occurred, sending the data up into the prison computer network.
Eventually Ben would be able to perfect the formula down to the point of achieving specifically intended side effects but at the moment there were a number of possible results depending upon the variant of injection. Smiling to himself, Ben kept in mind that it wasn't over yet, this was only the beginning of trials. And yet it still felt great to be moving into human experiments after years of painstakingly slow research.
Turning his back on the current session, Ben decided it was time to deliver a personal status update to the warden.
The Golden Simatar
Russell nodded understandably to what Destroyer had to say. He did feel his gut tighten slightly as he wondered if this man told him to bugger off, if he would be instantly killed by one of the men surrounding him. My story, well this is going to be interesting.
"I'm Russell Whitney, Simatarian. I worked as Head Security System Network for Lander Mining Consolidated. I created and programmed everything from pass-code and door locks to the security camera and sentry guns." Russell shrugged, knowing that he probably lost the attentions of most surrounding him. "Well rather obviously with such power literally at my fingertips I got a bit greedy with all that. I had installed some backdoor accesses into the financing security software, slipped right in....and stole seven hundred million dollars."
Russell stopped, letting that sink in for a few seconds. "Well needless to say I pissed off the wrong billionaire. I almost got away, the airplane door was just about to shut when the government agents arrived. I filed a plea bargain with the prosecution, but Lander greased the wheels, got me on trial, it wasn't going well. So he probably greased the wheels some more and got me sent here.
"If you have access to a computer of slightly decent quality with enough power, I could possibly give you access to their security network. But since you don't seem to have computer access, that's not very useful. If you have anything electric that needs to be fixed, I can take care of that."
Russell shrugged and stood quiet. He wasn't a fighter, his only physical claim to fame was middle school soccer team. But in high school his computer addiction got the best of him. The Simatarian waited quietly, he blinked and rubbed his head, a slight twang in his skull.
"Lads, gather 'round, gather 'round."
Hardly any sound was made as those closest to Mamba did so, taking up seats or standing however they wished. Here, in their den, they were safe enough. They had guards aplenty at each of the passages.
"Cap'n...no one joined this time?"
"Nay lad. Not yet at least. Destroyer is a crafty fellow, but he does not see what I see. He does not smell what I smell. He does not know what I know..."
"What's that boss?"
"Patience. You'll see soon enough that the Dread Pirate Mamba scuttlin' and heavin' to and merriments will draw the right ones to him! Yes, they'll come to me when the time is ripe, and yet again, Destroyer will lose those he values most!"
At this, Rollins turned and glanced upon those to his right. Many of them there were former Destroyer clansmen-turned-Black Order, all cast out for some ridiculous reason or another, all come crawling for absolution from Mamba...and receiving it.
"What is it that hold us together?" he asked as he turned, a goblet of crude wine handed off to him. He held an unsheathed blade of metal, the finest they could scavenge or plunder and smithied to perfection...at least with the limited tools offered in the depths of Paradise. "I'll tell you....fire."
His finger jabbed into the nearest man's chest, lifted another man's chin to the light of a nearby torch, a wicked smile given to yet another. "If someone pushes you, prods you, angers you...what do you have? Fire! Fire in your hearts! You love what you are condemned to, yes?"
His men replied with cheers and laughter.
"And it is here...in this darkness we claim the riches yes?!"
Again the growing applause and responses.
"And the souls and bones of our foes beneath our toes, ground to ash, beaten and worn beneath their superiors!"
The cry was deafening now, but soon it silenced as he waved his hands about.
"So...you see...The Immortals are fools. They know not what we know. Have not what we have...We don't need cheap parlor tricks and shiny rocks to commandeer the minnows thrust upon the shores of the lake! Our allure is there, and it has been planted into the minds of those who have come this time, just like every time..."
His rallying words were cut short by the sound of screaming echoing through the caverns, frantic screaming at that. Instantly, everyone was on the move, some to shelter, others to secret hideaways to strike out in the dark silence. Torches were extinguished and the eyes of the Black Order rapidly adjusted to the eternal darkness, seeing perfectly fine.
"Oh dear. A worm has found a meal already!"
More screams emanated from the screens as different cameras placed in high unnoticeable locations tracked the movements of the natural predators of Paradise. Suddenly, the sensors picked up a half dozen more worm like creatures appearing and moving stunningly fast through the cavernous tunnels. Prisoners of all sorts were running for safety, though those by the lake still would find themselves confused, unsure of what to do.
Turning slightly to Doctor Patterson, whose attention was fixed on the screens as well that lined the walls, the Warden spoke.
"They'll get at least one new prisoner. They always do."
The audio was muted for a moment, "Now, you said you've some updates on your research? Any results yet?"
Ben's gaze lingered on the screens for a moment longer before turning to face the warden. He knew quite well that he was one of the few people allowed to see the warden's face, mainly because he was the head doctor at Paradise.
"Yes sir. The first group should start feeling symptoms around now. In fact, this may be a good opportunity to test whether they are ready."
Ben turned his attention back to the display screens and turned a dial located directly beneath one of them. The lighting around the main lake of Paradise began to dim, making the area somewhat more inviting for the worm-like creatures on the hunt. If they were desperate enough they would go near light as they had learned that their meals congregated near such but their vision was severely hindered by bright illumination.
"So far we have had a few prisoners die from adverse reactions to the injection but so far the amount has not been concerning. At this point we have injected approximately one hundred prisoners and will continue to do so until we break over a thousand. The sensors in the inhibitors should also inform us when and if a prisoner comes down with any symptoms."
Ben didn't really know if the warden cared about his research but LifeChange Industries was paying him a substantial amount of money to allow these trials on the condemned prisoners so it didn't really matter as long as Ben's work could continue unhindered.
"We should know within the next twenty-four hours whether the first group trial has been successful."
Destroyer listened carefully as Russell told his story and even gave the man an appreciative whistle upon hearing how much money he had stolen. In his opinion rich people were usually the worst criminals, they simply had the means to get away with whatever they wanted, even if they were caught. Russell obviously didn't belong here but there wasn't much that could be done about that now. No one had ever left Paradise alive.
Russell's skill set was not exactly what Destroyer had been hoping for but he wasn't a complete lost cause. Destroyer could see many faces unimpressed with the story and listed skills, there weren't exactly any computers down in this cave. Despite such, Destroyer pondered Russell for a few moments before speaking.
"How are you with electronics? Hardware and the sort. We have a few items in disrepair that aren't operational at the moment. A pair of night vision goggles, a few digital watches. If you are able to repair some of these items I would be willing to accept you into the Immortals."
Some of the men around Destroyer grumbled a bit as they were hoping to deny this man but they wouldn't speak against his decisions. Before Russell could speak, the screams of other prisoners came echoing down the tunnels and the eerie screeches of the worm-like creatures followed them. Not letting any concern show on his face, Destroyer simply nodded to a group of men to his left and they went about their tasks, splashing a clear liquid at the entrance of all major tunnels and promptly lighting it on fire, then adding various bits and pieces to keep the blazes going. The fire would ward off any of the cave dwelling animals that roamed Paradise and since the base of the cavern in this area of Paradise was solid rock they would not be able to burrow from underneath. Satisfied that everything was under control, Destroyer returned his attention back to Russell.
"So do you think you could do what we require?"
"So what are the rest of you here for, and what are your plans for the moment?"
I gave a friendly wave to Nivitz, and a nod, letting him know I'd answer in a moment.
But for the momet I was dealing with the arms dealer. If he was the crafter as well, that would make him an important man, at least for the moment.
"I'll let you look but keep your hands behind your back..."
That brought a contemptuous snort from me. Though I had been a scout leader more than once.
Ostentatiously tucking my hands behind my back I examined the weapon with as close an eye as possible. It looked well made even on close inspection, and I told the man so.
"Well crafted yes. However it's handling capabilities matter just as much. If the balance is flawed, or the grip misplaced to make it comfortable..." I let my voice trail off and gave my most gallic shrug. "Then it is worth much less. One never buys a sword from the armory wall, one takes it to the sands and tests it."
Before anything else the screams began and the lights around the vast lake cavern dimmed. I looket up at the man and gave him a toothy smile. "And it looks as if you are about to be able to give me a personal demonstration...unless you care to loan that piece out?"
Alcona and Hubris
Cartwright nodded at the compliements but narrowed his eyes as the screams could be heard. "Damn, crawlers..." He turned towards the sound. "I'm not about to try and put up a defense here on open ground..." Then the lights dimmed around the lake. "Especially when the screws just gave them an invite for your a**es..." He looked down at his customer and said in a low tone. "You want a weapon? Then follow me cause I need an extra pair a' hands right now." He turned and began to run off at a clip towards a wide doorway, his weapon in his hand and a rigged pack across his back.
He said nothing to the group as a whole. Just left them to decide what to do as he obviously made his escape down a passage where the water was running towards.
The tunnel dropped steeply downwards with a small river of water following over the rockstrewen floor. It was damp and cold and very little light. The rocks were slippery with a layer of water, and deep pools existed amongst the rocks. The sound of a distant, significant drop in the water could be heard ahead. A few meters down the passage, Cartwright jumped over to a space in the rock wall. It wasn't a cavern so much as a wide gap with a sloping wall of jumbled rocks forming a ramp to the ceiling above. It had once been a connecting tunnel but the roof had collapsed ages ago leaving a rubble spill across this end.
Cartwright turned and stood in the narrow opening. It was the one defensible place near the lake that wasn't 'owned' by anyone so Cartwright wouldn't have to get into a pissing match with a gang about using it. Still it was over six and a-half feet wide and almost 18 feet high. Which was why he wouldn't have been unhappy with anyone tagging along to help fill in the gap.
Three Golden Kingdoms
As Garak continued to slowly shape the stalagmite into his weapon, he slowly began to notice that the darkness was starting to lighten up a little. Upon this realization, he immediately looked up and behind him to see if he had been followed by any of the dead weights' lackeys. He was very surprised to find that no one had followed him down this cavern along the stream. He looked back down again at the crude spear like object he was working on, and he could now see it clear as day itself.
"What in the hell is this? I can see in the dark now?"
As he began to ponder the implications of this new found ability, and the sudden advantage he now enjoyed over the others, his thoughts were disturbed by the clear, loud screams of a human being killed. He was not about to stick around to find out what was the source of those screams as he grabbed his mostly finished spear, and began high tailing it back along the stream, towards the lake where he and the others had been dumped.
"You want a weapon? Then follow me cause I need an extra pair a' hands right now.
I whistled loudly - it certainly wasn't a wolf whistle, but three sharp, clear notes that were probably the three most known notes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nhtr5J00ntA) on Earth. Taps...
Not that every one was about to bed down for the night, or that every thing was safe and secure. Not by a long shot. No the notes were simply easy to remember and struck a cord with most...and I had been around Butterfield when he first heard his rearrangement of the call that he'd modified into taps. And no don't ask what a true dyed southerner - at least for that 'lifetime' - was doing around a much loathed Union general. He was Hooker's chief of staff, 'nuff said...
I swung a hand in a follow me gesture, as I grabbed up my bag of supplies generously handed out by the prison system, and took off after the armswright at an easy but ground covering lope. I didn't look back, I just hoped that the others would have the sense to follow me, at least for the time being. I never had demanded that any follow my lead.
When the weaponer stopped and took up a blocking position I looked aboiut and nodded, understanding why he was willing to ask for aid. Defensible by one, better with two, or more.
"I'll help against what they've sent against us, but I'm going to need a weapon to be of best use, mon" Some times a touch of the Carib islands flavored my language. "I'm better than half descent with a halberd or naginata type weapons." Hoepfully my knowing the proper names will clue him in that I have, shall we say, extensive training with such.
Alcona and Hubris
Cartwright shook his head, "Nah...the screws just made it easier back at the lake for the crawlers, they don't like the light." Cartwright dropped the pack to the ground and pulled out what at first looked like a rope but on closer exception it was more of a cat-o-nine tails with long razor sharp blades on the end. The 'rope' appeared to be made out of an odd form of leather...tanned human flesh actually.
"Sorry, but this is all I have in extra weapons...something with some range..." He stood up and handed the weapon to the other man.
He paused for a second and considered the man next to him.
"Nor'mly I don't cat to newbies...most die too soon to be worth much or just become a hanger on in a gang...but see'n...hell what's your name? "
Considering that rap sheet you just listed, Trina. I'm sure you can and do. Though you escape point is true. I had heard a rumor that the guards are here for life, like us. But that might be just a rumor. On the other hand, I'm sure they do need their skin mags and candy bars. So you may have something there. No fun without a little sex and candy. I hope my teasing doesn't offend. Sometimes humors don't match.
Trina? Well, at least he didn't call me cat girl, kitty, kitty cat, or anything along those lines. And I'm always open to a new alias.
"Well," I said, "if the gaurds are here for life I'm pretty sure we can find a few that see themselves as no more than slightly better prisoners. Work them over to our side."
I never really got any special degree in psychology or anything, but it seemed like a smart enough idea. At least till I could get a real boom stick, or at least something better than a rock tool.
"Yeah, your right. Partying of all sorts make the world go 'round," I chuckled. Fuck it, might as well have fun while I rot is the shit hole.
"I got just enough of the good stuff for me to have some fun, but can't be that hard to synthysize, or at least find something on its lever," I patted my jacket."
He was, cute, in that innocent but not really that inocent sort of way. Appologizing for the teasing and all. I was about to retort with one of my more vulgar sayings or catch phrases when the lights started to flicker and I heared an ear piercing screech, the kind you only really heard when something was dieing, or about to die. The end of something's life tneded to be an interesting thing to witness. My pupils widened as I peared into the darkness. Something was out there, something that could take at least one or two of us if we weren't ready for it. Even if it didn't like light, it dind't matter much. Hunger was a greater discomfort than bright light.
"Don't worry none bout the teasing hon, I've heared worse. When they picked me up, I was hanging out with a couple of ex SAS shooters and a Marine who could cuss up something fucking fierce. Worse than even I can do."
I turned in the direction of the Frenchy and the guy with the hand tools. "Yeah, um, I'll see ya'll later. I'm following the sharp pointy things."
Angry Iranians, Colombians, and DEA agents were one thing. Something that could make someone, or something else, make a noise like that, was another thing all together. Besides, the weapons were going the other way.
I took off in a light sprint, nothing much in the way of a hard run, but easy for me to maintain. I took off after the French man and his new friend, running on cat's feet, if you have to. It was one of the few things I did well, running fast on boots without making a sound.
The Golden Simatar
Russell nodded confidently to Destroyer's request. Yeah he could take care of that, foundational studies for computer programs heavily involved being able to repair hardware and electric currents. Course the degree of his success depended on what kind of a workshop existed and what kind of spare parts or tools were available. He wouldn't be at all surprised if the simple answer was that the batteries had simply run out, in that case there was little he could do.
Russell literally jumped as he heard the screams rattling through the cavern. He turned around, expecting some monstrous form to appear at one of the entrances, but all he could hear was more screaming. The prisoners moved with purpose, obviously what was happening beyond his sight was nothing new. With fires now burning, Russell turned back to Destroyer, the Simatarian's face noticeably pale.
"Yeah, I can do that. I'd like to see what facilities and gear you have though for repairs...but...." The man closed his eyes for a few seconds, he felt slight pressure in his head, a damn headache was forming. He reopened his eyes again once he got himself under control "But....what...what is that screaming about?"
A few moments after finding a stone that was as close to an ideal as he could imagine without access to the tools to bore one out of a proper face, and a proper quarry, he heard a rather loud and anguished scream. It seemed that people weren't the only preds down here, and there were somethings that were higher chained as well. Looking about Nivitz's noticed that most people were scattering including the guy trying to sell his weird weapon, thought he'd mentioned what was undoubtably the local name for the critters that were doing the killing.
Making sure his stuff was in the pockets or sack, he followed after the rest of the ones chasing the weapon dealer. After a few minutes he noticed the guy had stopped in what was likely one of his hidey-holes and seemed to have roped in one of his fellow prisoners to help guard it.
"So what're we running from, what are their hunting strategies, and what kind of weaknesses and defenses do they have?" He asked as he fished out the spoon and his rock and began gently honing the tip of the handle.
"But....what...what is that screaming about?"
Destroyer could see the sounds of death had unsettled Russell to a degree and he could understand that, he hadn't been particularly fond of them either when he arrived in Paradise. There wasn't really any official name for the beasts that lurked around Paradise and no one was really sure how many there were. The most common were the worm-like and bat-like creatures but there were others out there as well.
"We are not the only creatures down here in Paradise. There are a number of cave dwelling creatures that will happily eat you if given the chance. Their sight isn't particularly great so they hunt with their keen senses of smell and hearing. Fortunately they aren't fond of bright light and heat, so we're safe here."
Whilst it was possible that the monsters out and about might try breaching the fire if they were desperate, Destroyer's men were armed and prepared for that scenario. Destroyer was interrupted from his thoughts when one of his men approached, holding a pair of night vision goggles. Taking them in his hands, Destroyer looked over the goggles before throwing them to Russell.
"We have a workable power source for them but something isn't right. Tell us what kind of tools you may need and I'll have them brought to you."
If Russell could prove his technical ability, Destroyer would be happy to take the man on board. Technology wasn't exactly advanced down in Paradise and even something that operated on electricity, even if it was battery powered, was a rare item and certainly valuable in some capacity.
As the group of newcomers retreated from the lake, they screeches of the prey and predators drew closer. Whilst the creatures of Paradise did not hunt in packs they did tend to hunt at the same time so it wasn't uncommon for many of them to pursue their prey together. There was no doubt that something was following them as the sound of movement began to fill the areas surrounding the lake.
"Nor'mly I don't cat to newbies...most die too soon to be worth much or just become a hanger on in a gang...but see'n...hell what's your name? "
"Remmington" I said as I took the nine from him and studied the place the man had chosen as the choke point.
I moved aside to let the lady and Nivitz past me.
"So what're we running from, what are their hunting strategies, and what kind of weaknesses and defenses do they have?"
I nodded at Nivitz's querry, it had been what I was going to ask. "Yes, do tell us about what is coming."
Three Golden Kingdoms
As Garak started his trek/run back towards the lake, he began to try to settle down his nerves again. He had only been in this place for about an hour, and was duly jumpy and not on his best form. When another screech went out from something being sent into its' death throws, Garak finally hit the knob on the head. The screams were coming from the direction in which he was running, and not from behind him, in the earthy and rocky area where the stalagmites had formed. Putting two and two together, he retreated back up the cavern and towards the stalagmite cluster where he was forming his spear.
"Garak, you got to pull yourself together man if you're going to survive this hell hole. None of this jumping and running at the first sign of trouble, or going all berserk when something new happens with your body. Just take a couple of deep breaths and think about the situation." Taking his own advice, he took a few deep breaths from the stale and old air that filled up the caverns. While it did little more for his respiration rate, it allowed him the moments he needed to process not only the screeches, but the sudden ability of infravision.
"Okay, let's think about this. If I am the child of fiends, then obviously I would have some sort of abilities that most people would not. I always thought it was just the silver tongueness and these alluring looks of me, but it should have been obvious that there were more. Perhaps there is more than just the ability to see in the dark, perhaps I might have some sort of abilities to fend off whatever is tearing through the other prisoners. I noticed the lights were dimmed, I wonder if they dislike light. They were also going towards the lake, and not into the more narrow caverns. Obviously they are smart, they know fresh and easy meat would be there. In that case, I better make myself scarce."
Garak looked around and noticed very little in the way of cover, apart from the stalagmites and stalactites. Sighing at his lack of cover, he put on a grimace and began to scale one of the stalagmites that came within just a foot of a stalactites. Using his finely tuned upper body strength, he pulled himself up onto the stalactite and began ascending towards the ceiling, into the darkness, hoping to either be avoided altogether or take whatever was coming by surprise.
Alcona and Hubris
"Well Remmington the names Cartwright..."
Cartwright watched the cat women with his eyes as she passed but then turned his attention to Remmington when the question was asked.
"So what're we running from, what are their hunting strategies, and what kind of weaknesses and defenses do they have?"
"I call 'm crawlers but other's call 'm moles or uber moles or doom worms. A'bout two to three meters long, two meters high. with three sets of short stubby legs. But they articulate at the hip so their damn fast. Don't try to out run them, cause in these caverns they likely got a better purchase on the ground then you do."
He paused, "Usually show up in packs of two to six depending 'on their size. The big problem's the mouth...built like a god damn grinder, can cut up thick dirt or a man without much trouble. Although if you get below them their claws will do good damage. Their weak point is the damn eyes, their nose, and their wiskers...the skin's tough...but you can peirce it....most of the front is just heavy skin and mouth muscle....the heart is at the midsection up high. I usually go for a shot up through the mouth and into the forward nerve center between the eyes. Damn brain is too far back to get except from above, but hit that nerve center then cut between the leg and the torso...the bastard will bleed to death then."
Cartwright turned and looked at the other's now standing in the space.
"Get up a bit higher in the rocks and throw things at their eyes or nose. Try to keep them bastards from attacking him..."
He pointed to Remington.
"Your job is keep um' working around to below me. Focus on the eyes and nose with that thing and the wisker's too...but keep them lines outa the mouth...." Cartwright paused for a moment and listend quietly. The sound of a distant scream could be heard but then a short sniffing sound almost muffled by the water running.
"The're fast, but they don't do so good on really water covered rock like this, claws can't get purchase and their feet usually finds purchase on mossy or slimy ground but this much water works against them. If 'm above um I can go for a strait kill shot...or a mouth shot...and the'll be slower."
Cartwright wasn't sure why he explained this all to Remmington, but then the man was on the front line with a poor weapon. It was more useful against the bats than the crawlers.
"So a meat grinder on legs, well enough. You wouldn't happen to have a short spear or knife handy would you? Actually a couple knives would be better." Nivitz commented as he set his improvised whetstone and spoon back in a pocket. These things sounded somewhat like a snake-ish creature from back home. With a few knives, he was pretty sure he'd be able to gut one or two, but if the guy was short on short ranged stabby tools, he'd always be willing to follow Cartwright's suggestion, even if they didn't seem all that efficient. They had to have been effective thought so maybe it would be better, maybe.
While he waited for the worms to show, he realized that it didn't seem to be all that dark and asked, "Is there some sort of bio-lumi fungi or something that grows down here?"
Alcona and Hubris
"So a meat grinder on legs, well enough. You wouldn't happen to have a short spear or knife handy would you? Actually a couple knives would be better."
"More like a mining machine with a taste for human flesh..." Cartwright replied quietly. He said nothing about any additional weapons.
"Is there some sort of bio-lumi fungi or something that grows down here?"
"Huh? It's almost as dark as the devil's soul here...we don't want any light on cause the crawlers will come towards it....they might just pass us by..."
He pulled out a long loose rod and poked it between two rocks right in front of himself and Remington.
"Then either you're just about blind, I'm hallucinating or this planet's doing something funky to my system as it's as clear as an overcast day down here." Nivitz commented as he watched Cartwright put something that might, with a bit of work, be turned into a decent spear in front of him and Remington.
"And if it's dark like you say, how are we," He gestures at the others who got rock duty, "Suppose to hit the buggers without wailing on you as well?"
Alcona and Hubris
"Then either you're just about blind, I'm hallucinating or this planet's doing something funky to my system as it's as clear as an overcast day down here."
Cartwright looked back to make sure it wasn't the cat girl talking. "You must be part kitty sure your mother wasn't one of her kind" He pointed to the cat girl.
"And if it's dark like you say, how are we," He gestures at the others who got rock duty, "Suppose to hit the buggers without wailing on you as well?"
"Flare..." He pointed at the stick. "Now shut the hell up..." There was a scraping sound and a splash from somewhere in the tunnel.
Sloane had been about to make a retort to Katrina when the screams had started. He cringed a little, the sound hurting his ears. His imagination rushing to what could be making that noise.
He watched Katrina ran off. He debated whether to follow her or not. At least until Cartwright started to explain about the Death Worm. With an oath Sloane ran off in the direction of Katrina. He followed her scent, hoping the same creatures didn't find either of them first.
OOC: Sorry that I've been gone I was at a con.
Mamba's movements in the shadows were delicate, soft as a feather and carefully timed. He moved with unnatural silence, quieter than even cats could manage, but not much more so. Those felines were quite talented after all. Rumbling through the maze of various rock formations only several feet from him, was one of the worms, a croquint, as some like to call these hardy predators. He kept pace with its movements while remaining on higher ground, pausing when it did as well to snuffle around and seek its prey.
In this particular corridor, it had slowed considerably, having smelled the prisoners nearby, but having difficulty finding them. Such were the tactics of the constantly moving Black Order members. Then, as the creature was about to resume its momentum, it shrieked as it felt a dozen sharp objects driven with force into its thick hide. Above the creature's head, Mamba was perched, driving his blade deep into the creature, twisting and otherwise causing great pain.
The croquint bucked violently, throwing a few of the others, crushing one beneath its tremendous weight and snapped in futile fury at the pirate dangling by one arm with his hand grasped on the hilt of his blade. He was calm as possible under the circumstances, reacting only when necessary to push off nearby rocks, dodging the maw that snapped at him incessantly. It's movements slowed after some time, and atop the worm, Rollins at last withdrew his blade and stalked its backside to where he knew the slowly beating heart was. It was silenced with a single thrust a moment later and silence filled the caverns.
As Garek climbed upward, he paused, his attention downward and searching everywhere. As he clung for safety, a low warbling sounded above him, responded by dozens of others nearby. In the darkness, the shadows began to move along the ceiling and the sound of beating leathery wings filled the air.
Garek would see that a number of "stacilites" were in fact, bat-like creatures that appeared to be like stone when completely immobile, but now they were stirring.
Garek was violently thrust to the earth below by the weight of the one bat like creature, its talons ripping furiously at him. Others came near, drawn to the commotion and the promise of fresh meat...
Blackthorne gave a hoot as he watched one of the worms slipping and sliding alongside the lake, only to loose its footing and plunge into the waters. It soon crawled out, snuffling for the scent of the newcomers, following it.
Those newcomers congregating together were about to have company in a matter of seconds...
The Golden Simatar
Oh...oh thats just great, just grand. Russell was now feeling a sense of helplessness as Destroyer told him of other creatures living inside the caves. He made a note to get his hands on some kind of weapon. But, that was for later.
Russell's catching of the night vision goggles brought harsh chuckling from those around as at first he fumbled, but quickly held onto them. Tucking the bag he was given when he arrived under his armpit, he brought the googles close to his face. They had some age and some wear and tear on them, but externally they seemed to be holding.
Without looking up, Russell began talking. "For starters, screwdrivers, philips and flathead, small size set. A magnifying instrument of some kind, one that I can use and still have both my hands to work on this is preferable. Maybe goggles if you have them. Pliers, small kind as well. May need a soldering iron, its nots preferable, but here I don't think there is anything more advanced. I also need light of course to work by, good light. Clean cloth as well."
Turning the googles over in his hands, he kept looking at them before turning his attention to Destroyer. The Simatarian shrugged. "Should do for the moment."
Three Golden Kingdoms
Garak had to lurch to his side as he fell back towards the earth to avoid being impaled by the very stalagmite he had crawled up from. He crashed against the rocky terrain and rolled to his left to just avoid having his face ripped by a pair of razor sharp talons. His spear had crashed just next to him letting him grab it and bring it around just in time time to deflect another set of talons trying to get at his face. He could feel the blood begin to drip from both kneecaps, but the pain was minimal as he took a low and defensive position as the creatures swarmed around him. As far as he could tell, he was outnumbered at least six to one, more likely ten to one. One thing he knew about wild animals is that they like to hunt in groups, but if they were dealt a blow, more often than not they would retreat back. He assumed that these creatures would be much the same way and tried to lurch out with his spear, but the creature that was his target managed to pull back at the last second while one of its' comrades took a chunk out of his shoulder. Shuffling his feet, he felt the back of his heel come up against the flat base of the broken stalagmite that his spear was made from. He smiled and shifted his back and loaded his knees before thrusting forward with his entire body, impaling one of the creatures in the wing. Still able to fly, Garak used all his strength and ran it into the wall, pinning it with his spear.
Another one of the creatures came up behind him, trying to get another chunk of his bleeding shoulder, but he ducked down, allowing the talon meant for him cut across the neck of the impaled creature. The result was it's lifeblood starting squirting at regular intervals, the creature having one of its' arteries cut, covering Garak in the disgusting juice. As one of the creature was dying against the wall, the others were continuing their assault on Garak. Now without his spear, Garak was reduced to ducking and diving away from the talons that meant to tear him apart. His quick feet were the only thing keeping him alive at the moment, but his eyes were carefully watching the last throws from the pinned creature. After several minutes of avoiding the talons, Garak saw the head of the creature fall limp and he knew he had his chance.
He dove underneath a diving talon and rolled past another before jumping up and yanking his spear clear out of the wall and creature. He turned around quickly and caught another creature in the jaw with the bunt end of his spear before flipping it to his left hand and slapping it in the face of another assaulting creature. He ducked right to avoid another racing talon before bringing his spear square and cutting through the belly of another creature, causing it crash into a heap into the earth. One more creature tried to bring down the blood soaked cambion, but it was met with the blade of the spear through its' eye, a third kill in the matter of seconds for Garak, four in total, and the creatures began to scatter. Covered head to toe in their blood and looking nothing like human, Garak collapsed near that broken stalagmite and tried to catch his breath.
I looked at the cat of nine tails, it would be little more than a distraction and was without enough reach to effectively keep the creature back. With an internal sigh, I began stripping off my clothes - a skill set I had long ago acquired - yes, speed stripping without destroying your clothes - one every well prepared Were should master.
Then I was thrusting the bundle back at Katrina "Tuck these away some place safe."
And I began shifting as I tossed the short whip back to Cartwright "Let Nivits use it. These are better" came my growl
It is an easy flow, my shifting - muscles and bones reshaping as if living clay. My glossy wolf grey and black pelt covers me in a plush fur, and my tail is now flagging behind me. I shiver once and then shake, settling everything in place. It is the worlds most liberating sensation. Though I am given to understand that some find it painful - I never have.
In Crinos form I stand over ten foot tall and weigh in at nearly half a ton of pure muscle and lightening reflexes -supernal agility and inhuman strength. My claws would make a Cave bear envious and I can slice through substances they never had to deal with. And my regenerative powers are at their height in this form - I will heal any wounds taken in mere seconds as long as they are not made by silver or fire - and I do not mean the puny burns offered by candles or torches, non it must be the greater heats to seer me significantly.
My mouth structure and muzzle make human speech hard, but not impossible. I flash fangs far more imposing than any vampires as I flehm, taking in the scents carried by the cool dank air to the fullest.
There is a reason the Crinos form is called, very unjokingly "Walking Destruction" It also tends to send many humans, and more animals, into utter panic, but hopefully not my new companions.
Then, with an eerie, bone chilling howl, I spun and dive, going for the underside of the approaching worm – it had gotten close as the young Were following Nivitz and Katrina had eeled past Cartwright and I to safety.
The cave worm was no Wyrm, but it would get the same treatment one would. It would die this day it’s hunger unsated.
I didn't notice the small inhibitor that dropped to the cave floor, thrust out by the changes in my form.
He took the whip, but rather than do anything with it, Nivitz simply put it into a pouch. It might come in handy later, especially if he could find a couple shards of sharp metal or even as a garrote. Meanwhile Remmington had begun undergoing he's transformation and he smiled with a mildly manic grin. "Finally, someone to pass the time with, someone who can shift into a Wythe." He thought as while there were a few superficial difference, the shapeshifter looked remarkably like a native predator, and one of the more dangerous at that.
As he lunged for the worm, a small piece of metal fell to the ground, and seeing how no-one seemed to be able to see entirely clearly in the dark but him, he bent over and nabbed it as well as a smallish egg shaped rock, all the while keeping an eye on the fight before him as well as watching for any more of the little beasties. If another showed up, it'd be getting the stone right between the eyes and delivered with enough force to implode a man's face.
"For starters, screwdrivers, philips and flathead, small size set. A magnifying instrument of some kind, one that I can use and still have both my hands to work on this is preferable. Maybe goggles if you have them. Pliers, small kind as well. May need a soldering iron, its nots preferable, but here I don't think there is anything more advanced. I also need light of course to work by, good light. Clean cloth as well."
Destroyer nodded to a man standing off to his right and he quickly scurried away, obviously off to fetch the listed gear. Whilst he didn't maintain a personal knowledge of every item in the Immortal's inventory he generally knew what his gang did and did not possess. The soldering iron was the only item that was in question. The equipment in Paradise was either fashioned by those that called the prison home or it was discarded by outsiders as junk and ended up in the caverns of some distant, desolate planet. And thus it was difficult to come across tools and other gear that was actually functional.
"I'd imagine some of the other newcomers are likely encountering the other occupants of Paradise at the moment, unless they managed to find shelter that wasn't fiercely guarded. You should consider yourself lucky, Russell."
After a few minutes several men approached the space between Destroyer and Russell, one of them the man that had disappeared in search of the tools. Two men set up a collapsible table on reasonably flat ground and began laying out the tools. A mismatched range of screw drivers and plies, some of them appearing to be professionally manufactured whilst others had evidently been carved by hand with whatever was handy. Two gas lamps were also placed on the table, providing ample light. Finally, a small pair of magnifying glasses were placed amongst the tools. Destroyer looked to the man that had been in charge of retrieving the gear and was met with a somewhat apologetic tone.
"We are still looking for a soldering iron..."
Destroyer watched the man for a moment before nodding in acceptance. After gazing over the equipment for a moment he indicated that Russell should step forward.
"Alright, it's time to see whether you can earn your keep."
Alcona and Hubris
Cartwright blinked for a moment then smacked off the top of the shaft he had placed into the rocks. For a moment there was a bright, blinding flash of light which died to an almost eeire blue glow as the hot flame illuminated the cavern.
His eyes locked on the shape of a second worm moving around behind side of the first now engaged with the wolf man, obviously attempting to strke at the attacker. "Damn..." The wolf had left a bit of a whole in the defensive line...and was apparently trying to kill the worm with his claws. But that left him open to a flanking attack by the second worm.
Cartwright stepped forward a moment and made a throwing arc with his weapon over the struggling worm and into the upper part of the body of the second worm.
There was a horrific squeel and the second creature turned it's focus from the wolf to Cartwright and actually jumped up on the back of the first worm. Cartwright snarled at this and crouched down into the water, letting the sharp end of his weapon point upwards while digging the spikes on the far end into the floor of the cavern.
The Golden Simatar
Russell sat down at the table and started looking over the goggles' exterior without the magnifier. The black metal was scrapped, slightly dented and had some other cosmetic damages, but otherwise sound. So, placing his eyes to the magnifier and the goggles under, Russell started to unscrew one of the panels around the main body of the set.
The Simatarian worked slowly, diligently, as he studied the circuit boards that were tightly packed inside. Much to his dismay, everything seemed to be in place and none of it seemed loose. He gently removed one of the top boards and looked at the smaller panels underneath, same story.
"If the problem is with the circuit boards, well would need a fully equipped workshop proper to fix this. None of them are showing any outwards signs of damage or shorting out."
Locking the board back into place, Russell turned his attention to the lenses and their assemblies. He carefully removed the housing around the back of the lenses, a grin growing on his face. Breaking his eye contact quickly to find the smallest pair of pliers he had been given and went back to work, given a running commentary.
"Here we go mateo. Soldering iron not needed. Problem looks to be that the rear screen seem to be misaligned, probably knocked around when this puppies took a blow. So the key is to gently put it back into place and getting it secure." Russell paused in his talking as he carefully worked the first screen back into its housing, he had never imagined himself doing this kind of work. Fixing and replacing circuit boards and wiring in offices and controlled areas were more to his practice. First time for everything.
He let out a massive sigh as the screen was back in place. Screwing the housing tighter, he gently shaked it, the screen failed to move, but the other screen did. Russell went to work again, carefully working again to get the screen back into place. As he screwed it into place he took another sigh.
Russell slowly reassembled the goggles, double checking his work, if it wasn't the screens that caused the problems, it was probably the circuits. In that case he was powerless to do anything.
Cracking his neck, Russell handed them to one of Destroyer's men, the man delivered the goggles to the Immortal leader.
"Should work now."
The worm things hide would make a tough leather, almost as durable as the much vautned leather obtained from elephants - but my claws would shear though the side of a bus.
I sent them tearing into it, backed by all my muscle and mass, opening great gaping wounds that cost it hide, muscle and much blood. Some of the blood not only pumped freely but spurted with each energetic beat of it's heart.
It tried to attack me, but my dive had taken me beneath, then past it's head and shredding jaws. I was coming up from beneath, where almost every creature living had it's weakness.
For a moment the weight of the second worm atop the first staggered me, but I straightened, toppleing the top most worm off of the one I had attacked.
I took the bag that the French convict handed to me. I looked at it a second, wondering exactly what he was thinking when I heard the sound of the worms coming down the cave. I could somewhat see the outline, but I could put them within an inch or two of where they were by sound alone.
And then Frenchy started to change.
I took a step back as the human changed into some half wolf, half man thing as the worms came closer. Maybe this was gonna be a bit more weird than I expected. Hell, three weeks ago I didn't even know there was a off world prison planet. The worm lunged out of the shadows towards the now half wolf half man thing, and I did the only thing natural instincts would allow me to do. I jumped back and hissed.
My boots didn't have the best traction, but I had enough to push myself up the cave wall a good two or three feet, and was able to dig my hands into the rock, holding myself up. I still had both bags under my control, but no real weapons, nothing to use. I didn't have the claws o' doom that the wolf man had, and the creepy ass weapon maker had chosen to leave me with, well, nothing. Fuck it, we could use him for bait later.
I kept hissing, watching the two worms lunge in, figuring out exactly what to do.
Destroyer and the Immortals waited in silence whilst Russell did his work. Plenty of men had certainly tried to fix the goggles but none really possessed the technical knowledge or confidence to try as they hadn't wished to risk breaking them and earn the scorn of their leader. Everyone in the Immortals had some kind of skill or ability that was useful but Destroyer had certainly noticed that those with any form of advanced technical knowledge generally didn't end up in Paradise.
"Should work now."
Taking the goggles from his man, Destroyer strapped them on and shifted his gaze to the darkness above, where the light of the flames didn't quite stretch. Switching on the goggles, a broad grin crossed destroyer's face as the cavern ceiling was lit up by the soft green glow of night vision goggles. Switching them off and removing the goggles, Destroyed handed them back to his man before returning his gaze to Russell.
"Welcome to the Immortals. It will take you some time to adapt to life down here but there are certain rules that you must abide by if are to remain with us. We'll deal with that later though. Once the critters out there are done hunting we'll go for a tour. Any questions?"
Some of the other Immortals were somewhat disgruntled that someone like Russell would be admitted into the Immortals but they weren't willing to challenge Destroyer over it and thus resolved to simply give Russell filthy looks.
Ben sat before one of the various computer terminals in the Paradise control room, the place where all camera footage was recorded and the security was controlled. The reason he found himself down here at this hour in the morning was one of the technicians had alerted him to a first time event for Paradise. One of the inmates had managed to remove their inhibitor without dying. Otherwise Ben would be sleeping as he didn't particularly care for watching the inmates being hunted by the various creatures of the caverns.
The inhibitor was programmed to cause massive amounts of pain if anyone attempted to remove it without the device being deactivated first. Most people that attempted to remove their own inhibitors were rendered unconscious during the act and thus were unsuccessful. Those that had convinced others to perform the procedure found that they never woke up as the device did irreparable damage upon removal.
At first Ben had been quite amazed at the news but the issue soon began to clear up once he realised which inmate had managed to remove their implant. Remmington was a lycanthrope and one characteristic of the species was rapid healing. Remmington's own body very likely forced the inhibitor out, whether he wished to remove it or not. Making a note of such on Remmy's file, Ben closed down the program and turned back to the warden.
"Nothing to worry about really. The inhibitor is only one of many measures taken to ensure no one escapes Paradise."
Mamba watched as the last of the batty creatures flapped away into the darkness before he turned his attention to Garek. Standing in shadows of the area they were in, Garek would see another reason why the bats had flown the coop. A number of other bodies lay dead as well as those that Garek had killed.
"Not bad. Clearly you're something of a survivor as well. Bit foolish to walk off on your own though and get yourself all up in this mess here." Mamba spoke at last as he strode forward and held his hand out to the cambion. "I'm willing to forgive your little...charade earlier, and offer you a second chance to join my crew. You'll find you'll prefer company in situations like this. Odds of survival increase in your favor."
Another of the Mamba's men came from the entryway, his voice quiet, yet easily heard. "The worms...They're leaving. Seems they've had their fill for today."
Mamba nodded in response as he kept his attention on Garek. The hand twitched a little to bring attention back to it's offering to help the cambion back to his feet. "At the very least, think about it eh?"
Nearby Garek, another of the vampire's crew swung a crude blade and severed the two clawed feet of the bat creature that had been pinned to the wall. He picked up the feet, kicked the remaining carcass away, and bagged the claws. Others did the same with the other carcasses as well, and it didn't take much of an imagination to figure out why they'd be taking them.
Blackthorne frowned, "I'm not so sure I like the idea of one prisoner being completely free of the inhibitor...but you're right. He's not going anywhere." His fingers tapped in silent beat to an unsung melody, one that seemed militaristic in its patterns.
"Doctor, keep an eye on those patients of yours. I'm quite curious to see what happens with them. I might have another project for you, a very special one if results are favorable..." He rose to his feet, "However, right now, I'm going to my quarters and clean up a little." A nod of the head and he turned away.
"Frank!" he called to a guard posted outside the room, whom entered a second later, "Tell your teams they have alternating shifts tonight. I want that lake watched at all times for tonight. And...break out a keg for them as well. After all, it's a housewarming party for those new inmates!"
The Golden Simatar
Russell waited with butterflies in his chest as Destroyer took the goggles and put them on. The last thing the Simatarian wanted was not only to be told that they were broken, but being removed and being tossed out with the monstrous worms still out there. He let out a small smile of relief as Destroyer said they worked.
The Simatarian looked around at the others around him, obviously they were not happy with the decision of their leader, but Destroyer seemed to have enough control over them to keep them in line.
Russell looked around the massive cavern, thinking about what put them there. "Who actually runs this place? I guess I should rephrase, do the guards have any control over this place?"
Tarja looked at her watch, then back at the bank of monitors. She sent out a puff of blue smoke from her cigarillo as she flipped through the cameras, trying to find the man who had pissed off Mamba, his corpse hopefully. She had a lot riding on this bet, she wasn't about to loose it.
Three Golden Kingdoms
"No thanks dead weight. I bow to one person and one person only, and that's myself."
Seeing his spoils of war defiled, Garak swat Mamba's hand away and quickly rushed to the two carcasses that still had their talons and severed them and throwing them in the bag. He would find a use for them later, but for now he was merely satisfied in making sure that the vampire would not get his greedy hands upon them. The thought of empowering that already over confident piece of scum was sickening to Garak.
Still, he wasn't about to make another scene, not now when he was surrounded by the dead weight's army of lackeys. Not with him covered head to toe in the fresh spilled blood of the batlike creatures. He knew better than to keep himself in that situation and his mind went straight to the stream that he had followed to enter this cavern. He needn't worry about defiling the water, as the stream had been flowing away from the cavern.
As he turned to walk away, he spoke softly, but loud enough for Mamba to hear, "A token gesture from an unwelcome hand doth not make harmonial sequences. Stiring the pot and the brew to come forth it does. Apocalypse nears like the dead screams of child, and your world will be torn."
I hurt a little as the worm I had turned to julian fries twitched it's last. They forgot to mention it had some formidible claws, but I heal even as I notice I bleed.
Not every Were can assume the Crinos form, and that might be for the best, as far as human kind is concerned. There is a reason they call us walking, talking instruments of destruction. Though as I have mentioned before the talking is not so easy, muzzels are not designed for human converse.
I throw my head back and howl, releasing the last of the blood lust as I see that the weapons smith seems to have finished - if perhaps a bit more tidily than I have - with his.
Hunger strikes hard and I turn to eating what the fates have provided. The meat is hot, steaming even and if not tasty it is filling. But before I do I pause and seek some less shredded, more appealing and carve it off with the casual flick of a claw.
I look at the others - I know I must be a sight, smeared and splattered with blood and other of the worm's bodily substances. I give my best gallic shrug, indicating my filth and let my ears droop in apology as I hold the fresh met out to them.
"Eat, we need our strength" I know my words will be hard to understand but tis the best I can do
Alcona and Hubris
The second worm fell forward and smashed down onto the hard, cold metal smashing the tip of the weapon deep into it's forward body and blinding it.
Cartwright did not move, just let the falling weight of the animal actually rotate on the blade above him and dropped down to one side.
Cartwright wrenched his blade from the body of the animal and slammed down the long blade below the forward leg. Blood splurted as the worm bellowed out it's death call.
Cartwright walked back out of the blood and turned his attention back to Remington.
"Eat'h, weee need'ee ur strength"
Cartwright eyed the wolf-man for a second. "I've seen people eat these things raw and get a rather nasty local bug. Maybe you've got the immune system to kill those bugs but I ain't risk'n it. We need to cut this beast up and cook it somewhere a little more amenable to a fire.
"I've seen people eat these things raw and get a rather nasty local bug. Maybe you've got the immune system to kill those bugs but I ain't risk'n it. We need to cut this beast up and cook it somewhere a little more amenable to a fire"
I did have the immune system to deal with it but he had a very valid point. I finished the mouthful I had and nodded. I'd let him deal with the butchering. Despite the sharpness of my claws they were less effective than a knife for that particular application.
I moved away from the bodies and found a deeper pool of water amid the rocks and quickly submerged myself, scrubbing my blood stained filthy fur briskly. The shock of the cold water had it all standing on end, making it easier to clean, though I'd have far preferred a long soak in a scalding hot tub. My time in the Japans had been heavenly in that regard.
Once I was done I hopped out and shook vigorously - what can I say, it was all but instinctual. As I did so I let the form shift, easing back into full human appearance. The cold made my skin prickle and goosebumps run over my broad chest, but that, like my nudity, I was oblivious to as I strode back to where the young cat lady guarded my bags.
"Thank you so kindly for that. I have a feeling that clothes are not something easily acquired here." I thanked her for her kindness. Taking the pile of clothes I unhurriedly proceeded to dress. I knew I had a physique deserving of a second, perhaps even a third look. I had never found the looks from a lovely lady distasteful.
Sloane had grown up learning two things from his father. The first was, of course, the evil of the human loving monarchy and government. The second was you should never enter a fight if you don't know the odds.
As Sloane watched Remington shift into Crinos form, he became very sure that it was best if he stayed out of this fight. He had heard stories of the Crinos wolf, but never seen one. Then again, Remington was a very old alpha male. Something that Revelin had also never really seen.
The younger lycan shook his head at the offer of eating the worm.
"No thank you. I was fed quite heavily before I was carted off here. I'm still quite full."
Even as he said it his mind flashed back to what felt like only hours ago.
"It really is a pity Revelin."
Revelin eyed the current ,and technically the first, king of Rollinulf. The kind was handsome. Black hair combed back form his face, grey-green eyes that looked right through you, and a well-cut suit. But it was more than that. The kid really did exude that Ultimate Ruler feel. Sloane was sure that the younger man would slap down unrest as smoothly as he smiled.
Sloane didn't like it. In the past few years he'd watched the King gain respect and power. It was vile. After all Sloane had done to rid Thrope of the royals, only to have the nation to be reborn at this man's hand. The worst thing was that Sloane found he, too, respected the man. There was something undeniably charming about the boy.
"Oh, did your cook forget the caviar?" Sloane's biting words seemed impotent. Mostly likely because he was chained two the lush chair he was sitting in. Though arms were unbound so he could eat and drink.
To Sloane's surprise, the King laughed.
"Something caught your fancy, Majesty?"
Leavitt nodded. "It truly is a pity. If circumstance weren't as they were you and I could have been great companions. Sadly, your father's life was ended by officials of the government. So you took your revenge on the whole of the royal family. Understandable, I suppose."
"I don't suppose this is my pardon?" While he was being sarcastic, part of Revelin really hoped it was true.
"You killed my mother by your own hand." A fierceness flashed in the King's eyes that didn't mesh with his cool tone. "You will not get a pardon. But as I said, it's a pity. You are quite smart, and very tactical. In a different world you could have been a great man. So you and I will feast to that. Then tomorrow you'll be gone. The last dark mark on Thrope's history." Leavitt smiled. "To Rollinulf, may we learn from past sins."
"Long live the King," murmured Sloane to himself as he took a drink of water from his canteen. He focused himself on the moment, trying to forget all the other worlds. The other choices.
He laughed in Revelin's direction. "You know between saving us, and taking your time getting dressed I've come to two conclusions. Either you are trying to impress the lady, or you are trying to impress us. I had a third theory, but it's too unlikely to be true."
He smiled genuinely for the second time that day. It was not quite as open as the one he'd given Katrina, but it was true. The expression saying he really was grateful, though subtly.
"Who actually runs this place? I guess I should rephrase, do the guards have any control over this place?"
Destroyer turned his attention back Russell after briefly nodding to a few other man and flashing a few hand signals. Considering that silence was sometimes required in Paradise, the Immortals were all taught a number of basic hand signals in order to communicate orders and such things if the need did arise.
"Generally, the guards do not interfere. Occasionally they do venture down here but even with their weapons and armour, there are far more of us and we don't exactly get along great. Of course... there is the issue of the inhibitor."
Destroyer tapped the back of his skull, knowing full well that Russell would have received the same implant a few hours earlier.
"When you first arrive on Paradise you undergo a medical check up and they implant a device into the back of your head. As far as we've been able to tell from examining these things, they can track inmates, observe, record and transmit medical data and they can induce crippling pain or death. And of course, the guards have the controls."
To this day Destroyer had not been able to conceive a method of removing the inhibitor without causing permanent mental damage or the usual death. Whilst it didn't really affect his daily life in Paradise, he didn't like the idea of something or someone sitting in the back of his head.
At that point the sounds of men coming down the entrance echoed into the cavern. A few more signals from men standing guard near the tunnel informed Destroyer that one of the hunting parties had returned with game. Additionally, two men had died in the process. Whilst it was definitely possible to hunt the creatures of Paradise, they did tend to object to being treated as dinner.
"Come, I'd imagine you are somewhat hungry by now."
Destroyer jumped down from his throne and indicated Russell should follow him towards the entrance tunnel, where they could observe the returning Immortals and their meal.
Eventually the screams died down and the worms returned to wherever it was they resided whilst not terrorising the inmates of Paradise. Most people waited a little longer before deciding it was safe to emerge once again but once a few did so others began to pour out of their refuges. Soon enough the tunnels and caverns filled with the noise of people going about their business, whether that be congratulating each other on surviving or finding a meal.
Additionally, there were small gangs of inmates that roamed the tunnels in search of anyone that may have been injured by the worms and were thus easy pickings. Whilst people generally steered clear of cannibalism, possessions were still a strong motivation for violence and theft in Paradise and so these gangs were keen to take advantage of those caught unaware.
One such gang of eight or so men was slowly making their way down a tunnel when they heard the soft echo of voices, some male and female. Whilst they would not leap to any conclusions, they could almost sniff opportunity and readily handled their lead pipes and other various implements of blunt force or stabbing.
Another group consisting of four men had refreshed themselves at the lake after evading the worms and were now intent on a similar purpose as the eight man gang. This smaller group followed one of the streams that bled off from the lake, leaving light behind. One man carried a lit torch whilst the others also handled crude weapons, ready to do violence upon anyone that looked like an easy enough target.
Dr Paterson sat before a computer terminal in the control room once again, the warden silently standing behind him. They watched as the latest batch of test inmates were deposited back in Paradise proper once again. Some of them had even shown early signs of their injection symptoms so everyone was keen to have them back in the caverns. The group that received the first batch of injections would likely be enduring noticeable symptoms by now but it was too early in the trials to say anything for sure. The inhibitors would monitor everything though. With all of them delivered and the guards returning to their posts, Ben finally spoke.
"We should be seeing some real signs soon, whether we catch it on film or the inhibitors pick up the changes. It should simply mix things up down there. I have emailed you a report of all the expected symptoms so far. Also, whilst you're here I have a request for a special subject... I'd like to inject Destroyer. There's no real medical purpose to this, it's more of an interest to see how one of his character would react to the symptoms. Certainly worthy of note, wouldn't you agree?"
Three Golden Kingdoms
Garak continued to move away from the vampire and his group of lackey bastards. He knew eventually he would have a conflict to resolve the growing list of grievances the dead weight would have against him, but they both knew that this was not the time. Still, he continued walking along the stream, back towards the lake and the rest of the recently deposited prisoners. He was still adjusting to being able to see in the dark as clearly, if not better, than he was capable in the light. Suddenly, a unique odor crept into his nostrils and he nearly gagged at the new smell. He looked all around the cave, trying to discern the source of the odor, when he finally looked down at himself and the massive amount of blood that had been splashed upon his person. It was the first time he had had a chance to look over himself since the brief but bloody conflict with the creatures and he sighed as he clothes, and his entire body, was soaked and covered from head to toe in the disgusting scarlet liquid.
"I highly doubt they have anything sophisticated to wash these in as well, much less any shampoo or soap. Dammit, can this day possibly start off any worse, really?"
With a resigned sigh, he looked over to the stream and how it was flowing away from the lake, and the water source. He knew that if he were to bathe here, it would not pollute the lake, but he still did not like the idea of bathing without soo much as a lookout. Yet the sophisticated side of Garak won out and he placed his bag of belongings against the cave wall and began to strip down to his undershirt and boxors, placing his blood soaked jacket and pants next his bag. Cautiously he approached the water and first dipped a single toe into the running water to test the temperature.
"Hrmm, warmer than I thought possible for an underground water source. I wonder if it is somehow heated by something from the prison..."
As he immersed himself into the water, going completely under the glossy surface, he thoughts his thoughts wander. He needed a group, didn't matter what kind of group, but he needed a group for protection. He thought about maybe and going to see if the Immortals needed a killing hand, or perhaps try to compete with the other alpha male in the new group of prisoners. Regardless of which one he choose, he needed something that would provide him some sense of security and allow him to slowly build up his power base. As he came up for air and began to try and scrub the bits of pieces from the creatures and their innards out of his hair and off his body, he heard the saw the tell tale signs of someone approaching, as the bends in the cavern were becoming lit, as someone or someones were approaching and with a flame. Quickly he made a dash out of the stream and to the wall of the cave, grabbing his spear and covering up his bag with his clothes, knowing he hadn't the time to slip them back on.
After Remington and Cartwright took down the two worms, without needing any help, and Rem had shifted back into his normal form, Nivitz asked, "So how did you ended up as a Wythe? I've never heard of them being found anywhere but back home. And they're damn rare there."
With the question in the air, he tossed the rock he'd picked up in case the two had needed aid off to the side and pulled out the cat'o nine. Examining the strands, he yanked four of them out and sat down to braid them into a garrote. Killing without drawing blood and in a manner that made sounding an alarm nigh impossible was a very good thing. Especially in a warren like this.
"Also, does it seem to be getting brighter around here or is it just me?"
"You know between saving us, and taking your time getting dressed I've come to two conclusions. Either you are trying to impress the lady, or you are trying to impress us. I had a third theory, but it's too unlikely to be true
"The killing I did as it was necessary. Killing to impress is...lacking in wisdom, intelligence and ethics." My tone made it clear what I thought of such, which was very damned little. "I will admit to being a man who enjoys the company of a fine Lady, but it will always be the Ladies choice to partake of my company, or not as she chooses."
"So how did you ended up as a Wythe? I've never heard of them being found anywhere but back home. And they're damn rare there."
"Wythe? I have never heard that name for my kind. I was born some ..." I stopped and reckoned time for a moment "Close to five hundred and ten years ago; carrying the abilities my blood line granted me. And yes we are an uncommon breed, though less rare than many assume."
I held up a hand for silence, tilting my head slightly to better catch the soft echoes that chased along the ragged tunnel. "More possible danger comes, though this time on two legs...Eight of them I think"
I looked at Nivits, Katrina, Sloane and Cartwright "I think some seek opportunity in the aftermath of the worms." I kept my voice very low, so that even with the caverns acoustics it would carry only to our group. "We should be ready for trouble."
"Five hundred years, then whatever you are, it's no Wythe. Of course I've never heard of a Wythe that could turn into a humanoid, but Wythe only live about forty year in captivity or wild." Nivitz commented as he studied Remington.
"People coming for a fight?" He asked with a sparkle in his eyes. Fighting was an enjoyable past time and valuable survival skill, especially when just about every bit of fauna and a fair amount of the flora would eat you.
"Any interest in a bit of human predation?" He added with a dark chuckle that promised fear, terror and death for the target. Those who didn't believe in Ghosts, tended not to live long enough to change that assumption.
The Golden Simatar
Russell scratched the back of his head, he felt the scar where he had gotten the implant. Something like this would require electricity...pet project maybe? As he stood to follow Destroyer, his whole body felt stiff, his joints and muscles felt tight. The first few steps stung and proceeding steps ached as well, but he'd have to spend some time getting them loose again. I've never been athletic, but this is a new one for me.
The Simatarian followed Destroyer, staying respectfully behind and to the side of his new leader. Still carrying the bag he had been given, Russell looked into it and saw the apples alongside the blanket. Kicking ground that was loose, he noticed with some dissatisfaction that it was rocky gravel. Well...from whatever creatures inhabit these caves....there's...no...it's too nasty. Ground ain't even soil....desperation breeds ingenuity...but... Russell decided to hold off on his question, he'd experiment by himself when he had the time.
"That vampire by the lake, you called him Mamba. Where's his territory and is the rest of his group vampires as well?"
Sloane listened closely to Remington's opinion of his theory. He was comforted to know the older man felt a distaste to those who killed for attention. Bit by bit he was beginning to respect the man.
"Well, I suppose I was only partially right on theory one." He shrugged softly.
"So how did you ended up as a Wythe? I've never heard of them being found anywhere but back home. And they're damn rare there."
Sloane's head tilted slightly in question. "Does Whythe mean lycanthrope? Because if you are talking about werewolves being rare..."
Revelin laughed. It was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard. However, in his defense, telling a Thropist or Rollinulifian that werewolves were rare was telling a Japanese person that the Japanese were rare. On a global scale it might be true, but it's not the way that person would see the world. Growing up in a nation of lycanthrope, you lose the novelty of the situation.
However, Nivitz next comment erased Sloane's estimation that the man had been talking about werewolves. Assuming the other hadn't heard his comment Sloane opened his mouth to ask a question about these Wythe things. Sadly, he didn't get a chance.
A split second before Remington spoke, he heard the footsteps. He shook his head. His reaction time wasn't quite as good as Remington's, but that wasn't the issue. He'd let his guard down following the death of the worm. 'Stupid!'
"I think some seek opportunity in the aftermath of the worms."
"Yes, why go kill one of the beasts themselves. They can just go scavenge for carcasses. Maybe if they are lucky, they can pickpocket the dead."
Sloane sneered at his own comment. He stood up and prepared himself for who might be arriving. His positioning was defensive for the moment. As much as he disliked scavengers of any form, if the men coming to meet them didn't want a fight he wouldn't be offering one. On the other hand....
Sloane smiled a little darkly and cracked his neck.
"That vampire by the lake, you called him Mamba. Where's his territory and is the rest of his group vampires as well?"
Destroyer chuckled at the thought of Mamba. Whilst his gang was certainly large and he had the obvious physical strength of being a vampire, something about Mamba just didn't convey a serious nature to Destroyer. Whether it was the fact that Mamba was a 'pirate' or simply his delusions of grandeur.
"Mamba's gang is about as big as the Immortals but their territory is quite some distance from here. I know some of his men are vampires but I don't think he turns them all. It's not important though, his men, like himself, are deluded with notions of glory. There is no glory to be found in Paradise. Your success is measured by how long you survive, not how many people follow you or what you can make them do. Mamba does not understand that."
As the pair spoke, ten or so men emerged from the entrance tunnel, dragging the corpse of a worm creature along with them. A few cheers erupted from the other men as they saw the food. Within minutes the ten men had begun dissecting the worm, separating the meat from other various body parts. It certainly didn't look appetising and the odour was enough to make most people gag but it was one of the only plentiful sources of food in Paradise.
Back towards the centre of the Immortals main cavern, fires had been lit in preparation for the meal. The flames were small and most of the cooking would be done on hot coals as the cave didn't exactly possess proper ventilation for the smoke to be removed.
"Soon you will get a taste for the staple meat of Paradise. I suggest never eating it raw as these creatures carry an assortment of bugs."
The four men approaching Garak were sure someone was nearby as they had distinctly heard someone splashing about in the stream. Weapons at the ready, they rounded a corner and cast light towards the now calm stream. At first the group was confused but then they noticed the bloody clothes and moved closer. Initially none of them spotted Garak until the light reflecting off his night able eyes caught their attention. One of them, evidently the leader, stepped forward with his lead pipe, a smug grin on his face as he gazed at the partially clothed Garak.
"You might as well stay where you are... we'll take those clothes and whatever else ye have... unless you want to get hurt?"
It was quite obvious the men were prepared to do violence upon Garak if he didn't comply with their wishes.
As the group of eight moved closer to the newcomers, further voices confirmed their were people about. Feeling somewhat reckless, a number of the men began to bang their implements along the cave wall and call out taunts. If they could intimidate their victims a little before meeting them then it was simply more fun.
The gang finally emerged out of the darkness to come across the group composed of one face that was obviously used to Paradise and others that were not familiar with the hardships life in such a place presented. The torches carried by the men cast an eerie glow over their faces as they gazed upon the newcomers. They noted some were armed and some were not, whereas they all carried at least one weapon.
Sloane's predatory grin darkened a little more at the sounds of taunts and banging. This would be a fight he knew that. His eyes flicked around the group he was with, trying to decide who might need extra help. He looked quickly at his pack on the ground. He couldn't lose it. It was the last kind gesture he'd ever receive, and he knew that. Kindness was a luxury that would probably only be afforded for alliances to keep yourself protected. He thought of the King's letter in the bag. He nodded to himself, the bag was not leaving his possession, ever.
He offered a soft whisper of luck to Remington, knowing the older lycan probably didn't need it. It was just a good faith gesture.
He watched the men enter the tunnel with their weapons. A few looked like they might sting, but no silver, no problem. He waited silently, knowing that Remington would make the first volley. Verbal or physical, Rev wasn't so sure on.
As the eight approached, Nivitz smiled a little to himself. The prey had come to him and that meant he could play a fun game with them, if a couple of the others could catch on. Remington certainly seemed like to would and if the others did or at least followed then it would be quite enjoyable, unless of course the man was a ham. That would just be annoyingly embarressing.
Turning to the group, he took a few steps forward before turning to look over his shoulder and comment, "Perfect, I was just getting hungry too. It looks like this prison world ain't half-bad. Don't know of many places that have meal delivery, and even fewer where the meals deliver themselves and provide you with the means to heat it to satisfaction. Unfortunately I don't think there'll be any leftovers."
With that said, he licks his lips in a decidedly hungry fashion as he surveys the eight people as if he were at a resturant and they were the menu.
Three Golden Kingdoms
Garak struggled to hold back a fit of laughter.
Bloody freaking typical aint it? Freaking having to fight off sure death one minute, only to find some low lifes around the next bend, looking to finish the job. Still, let's see if they are worth their lot in this life Garak, you might need and could use the company.
Garak suddenly lowered his spear and looked the four men over. It was clear that they were not a well supplied groups, as none of them particularly had much meat on their bones. Their weapons were crude, effective no doubt, but very crude creations much luck his own spear to a lesser degree. Ragrid were there clothes, with holes here and there showing dirty skin and the lack of a chiseled physique that Garak had.
"You don't want the clothes." Garak said politely.
The one with lead pipe grinned and said once again, "Move aside and we'll be taking ye clothes and ye goods."
"I'm telling you, you don't want the clothes." Garak said once more, raising his voice just a little.
Frustrated that the newcomer didn't concede nor openly engage the group, the leader of the gang pulled the lead pipe out of his mouth and screamed at Garak, "I'll be saying what we do and do not want, and I be saying we want your clothes!"
"You don't want the clothes, you want what the clothes represent." was Garak's calm reply.
The four men all looked at Garak a little bewildered and unnerved, not sure what to make of the man. The bloodied clothes obviously showed that he had had some sort of conflict, and survived relatively unhindered. Yet they outnumbered him, so they could easily take him they thought, if they needed to. Still, the leader was somewhat intrigued about the newcomer, and decided to play his game. "And what do these clothes be representing that we be wanting then?"
"They represent power, which in turn commands respect. Respect then establishes you as someone of importance, which then means you have worth. By creating a worth for yourself, you create a purpose for your life here in this miserable place and fill a need of self-esteem, which would be sorely lacking after significant time spent in this hellhole. So you see, you don't want the clothes, you want a meaning to your life here."
"If what ye being saying is true, then we must have the clothes then, to be fillin in the holes insides us, innit?"
Garak shook his head no and took a deep breath. He had them baited now, he just needed to reel them in.
"What you need more than a self created sense of worth, is a true sense of worth. In the grander scale of time, relativity, truth, and inevitability, we all die, it's the sad truth. Some can escape physical death, this is true, as you have witnessed with the vampires here, yet they will die a mental or spiritual along the way, and whatever remains of their lives will be a facade. So what you need instead to fill in those sense of worth is instead a sense of belonging, of purpose. I can give you that purpose."
"And how you be doing that? Forming a gang of ye own? Look at us, we aint nothing but a batch of scavengers. We know what we ares, we knows where we stands, and there aint not changin it. Mamba, Destroyer, and the other gang leaders wouldn't be letting ye."
"How many people do you know to have openly insulted Mamba twice and lived to tell the tale eh? Not many I would suspect, until now, because you are looking at one. Mamba fears what he doesn't possess and tries to make up for it by intimidating everyone into thinking he is something more than he is. Don't be fooled, Mamba is just like everyone else here, an inmate trapped within the confines of a literal frozen hell. He lacks a devotion, a belonging, something that Destroyer has created in the Immortals from my reckonings. Pragmatic and intelligent that one is, and wary of him you should be, but fear him not. I can provide you, and everyone who wishes to follow me, those things, and more. I can give you purpose, worth, belonging, and safety, all you and yours friends have to do is follow my lead. What say you, care to create a new power within this hell and give it a little chaos while filling your needs, or would you lot rather stick to your current status in the totem pole, only taking what scrapes you can find or take off your fellow man?" and at this point, Garak kicked off the clothes from his bag, revealing the talons he had severed and taken.
Combined with his innate abilities, the sight of the razor sharp objects that could be fashioned into formidable weapons was all the extra "oomph" the group needed and they all got down onto a knee, with the leader looking up at Garak and speaking, "What must we do milord?"
"Stand my brother, we are equals in this struggle to survive, to thrive. There is much to be done, the first of which is finding food and then a place to call our own here. The chaos that is to come must first be planted, and to do that, we will need our strength and security. Then, we shall stir the pot indeed..."
The Golden Simatar
Russell followed Destroyer closely, making a mental list of everything he was told. Knowledge was equally or more important tool to survive this place. At first he had thought that vampires inside the prison population would be the worst of his troubles, baring any werewolves, however when his eyes fell on the carcass of the worm; two emotions hit his body. Dread and sickness.
His throat burned as he gulped back down the glob of bile that had worked it's way up his esophagus. God was...Russell hadn't smelled anything like it in his life. A roadkill skunk smelled pleasant compared to the emissions rising from the sliced body of the worm.
Russell stepped closer to the creature, gawking at the immense size and even more at the vicious mouth lined with serrated teeth, many twice the size of his fist. He smiled a little bit. Well, I'm in the need of a weapon.
The Simatarian smiled at Destroyer as he watched the Immortals start their prison barbeque. His voice was understandably, a little nervous. "I can hardly wait to try it."
"I can hardly wait to try it."
Destroyer bellowed a hearty laugh, genuinely amused at Russell's attempt to maintain some form of manners. He he could see quite clearly that Russell obviously didn't want to feast on the cooked worm meat, of course he didn't really have any options though. Occassionally the prison provided some food for the inmates but it was never much and certainly wasn't a well cooked steak with a generous serving of salad. They made do with what they could find and the worms were a consistent source of food.
"Haha, bullshit. It smells like shit and I can tell you from years of experience that it doesn't taste too great either. Unfortunately there isn't much else on offer so you can learn to live with it or wither away."
Before he could say another word, Destroyer fell to his knees, clutching his temple. It was obvious he was in quite an amount of pain and several of the other Immortals rushed to his side. Despite their genuine intentions there was nothing they could really do, they'd all seen this before in others. After a few moments the pain subsided and Destroyer was left panting on his hands and knees as he recovered from the blinding agony. At that point, the caves echoed with a voice being transmitted over strategically placed speakers.
"Destroyer... you are required at the lake. Now."
A low murmur spread through the Immortals but was quickly silenced as their leader rose to his feet. Whilst Destroyer was an important man down in the caverns the prison staff certainly liked to remind everyone that they were in charge. Still somewhat dazed, Destroyer glanced around the cavern before turning to a man at his side.
"Doc, you watch over things while I sort this out. Allow Russell here to enjoy some of the fine dining we provide then get his accommodation sorted out."
Doc nodded in understanding, quite used to the sarcastic manner in which Destroyer spoke of their resources in Paradise. The accommodation would be little more than a corner in a cave somewhere padded down with a few relatively soft materials.
Satisfied that everything would be in order without his presence, Destroyer began his trek down the entry tunnel, three men trailing behind him as part of his usual escort.
"Yes, why go kill one of the beasts themselves. They can just go scavenge for carcasses. Maybe if they are lucky, they can pickpocket the dead."
"Scavenging is sometimes a necessity, but only if there are no other options" I replied as I settled my coat about my shoulders.
Don't know of many places that have meal delivery, and even fewer where the meals deliver themselves and provide you with the means to heat it to satisfaction. Unfortunately I don't think there'll be any leftovers."
"They'll probably taste just as sour as that worm" I snorted at Nivitz's comment.
"Now lady, gentlemen, please remember not to damaged their gear too badly. This is one of the times when scavening is needful" I moved toawrds the eight about to meet their doom and my hands changed, fur rippling over them as my fingers became talon tipped throat shredders.
Sloane took his lead from Remington. He kicked his pack into a small indentation of the rock wall. The brown bag blending well with the dirt and shadows. He shrugged his shoulders a little and concentrated to only bring out fangs and claws. His hands somewhere between wolf and man. Stepping forward he flanked Remington to the left and moved toward the eight men.
can they be?...sheesh folks!
The first one lunged at me and lost his head over the whole thing - or close enough for the proverbial government work truism. His throat tore out beneath the lash of my claws as the metal club he carried thudded home on my shoulder. The ache was a distant thing however as I let the blood spurting, skull attached only by the spinal column body drop at my feet. Light as a feather I leapt over the corpse going for the one that had been edging in nearly as eager as the front man.
But that left plenty for every one else, and since these were anywhere near as massive as the worm thing, that left a decent amount of fighting room.
"I suppose, they've been likely eating the worms, and you are what you eat." Nivitz commented with a nasty grin at the men.
Remington and another of the group, who seemed to be taking his lead from the not-Wythe and having a mildly submissive bearing, both sprouted claws.
"Nice trick, how about see..." As he was speaking, Remington lunged forward, disembowled the front most of the men while getting smacked with a club in return, an overall fair trade-off, before going after a second.
Looking over at the other man, he raised his eyebrow as if to offer a challenge, a killing challenge.
Lunging forward, he slammed his fist into one of the men's chest while the man swung his pipe in counter-attack only to find that Nivitz was already within the arc of his attack. He was aiming for a location along the third rib, and just to the left of the sternum. It was a blow that had an over eighty percent death rate within a quite short time period due to commotio cordis, and even if he got lucky it would typically drive the rib into the lung and fatal regardless.
With the second man falling and twitching, he launched a leg sweep at his second target while grabbing the shredded man's club as he went.
Destroyer had left his men behind long ago as a number of heavily armed guards had promptly taken over as his escort. Once he'd spotted them Destroyer could feel the effects of his active inhibitor, his senses dulling and his mind attempting to fend off a headache that seemed to roll in waves over his brain, distracting any prolonged coherent thought. Whilst still able to walk and follow directions, Destroyer found himself unable to grasp the details of his surroundings or even speculate what was really going on.
After several minutes of being directed through a number of corridors Destroyer found himself standing in the primary medical bay, the doc standing on the other side of the room with his back facing Destroyer. Still unable to fathom what this was all about, Destroyer simply complied when the guards instructed him to get onto the medical chair before him, the reclining furnishing eerily reminiscent of being in a dental surgery. Lying still, Destroyer didn't react as the guards secured his large frame with various metallic shackles and chains, ensuring that his movement was quite restricted.
Doctor Paterson spun around with an unsettlingly large syringe in his right hand, filled with an equally unsettling bright orange liquid. Destroyer was seriously concerned about the smug expression on the doctor's face but at this point he was barely able to speak, his inhibitor ensuring that the guards and doc were free to do whatever they wished. Ben didn't say anything as he promptly delivered the injection into Destroyer's arm without any fuss. Destroyer barely noticed the sting but he could feel the cold of the liquid as it passed up his arm and spread throughout his system. Ben merely smiled at the docile gang leader.
"Don't worry Derek, you'll be back with your minions soon enough. This little shot is just to ensure you stay healthy, you might feel a little woozy for a while afterwards but you should be ok... and if not, no one really cares anyway."
Destroyer knew he should be angry at the doc's smug smile and patronising words but he couldn't bring himself to respond, let alone remember everything he'd just been told. As he lay there attempting to process everything, the doc pulled out another syringe, this one smaller and full of some clear substance.
"This one will let you sleep through most of the... transition."
Unable to avoid the injection, Destroyer's head began to spin as the second injection spread throughout his body and eventually dragged him down into the depths of unconsciousness. After ensuring the prisoner was out cold, Ben returned to the other side of the medical bay to dispose of his used syringes whilst the guards simply stood at the ready, awaiting orders.
"Take him back to the lake in about twenty minutes, he should be waking up by then."
The first test group after the newcomers had been kept behind the protection of the security doors whilst the worms hunted and had only recently been released next to the lake. The majority of these inmates belonged to a single small gang that made a point of keeping out of the path of all the others. Most of them continued to advocate their innocence but had realised long ago that guilty or not, no one leaves Paradise.
Most had recovered from their nausea and returned to their gang territory but fifteen or so had remained behind due to the sounds of combat echoing up from a side passage. Whilst the group certainly didn't want to intervene with anything not involving them, it wouldn't be the first time that some of their people were caught off guards by opportunists looking to take advantage of those injured after the hunters. With that in mind, the group made their way towards the scuffle, unarmed, save for their lit torches, but hoping their numbers would be enough to ward off any wrong doers from what sounded like a reasonably small fight.
The Golden Simatar
Russell stared down at the piece of cooked meat that rested in his hands. His stomach was already churning at the thought of that he was about to eat part of a worm. He took in a deep breath and bit down and after some extra bites and rips, he was able to get a little piece off the chunk.
The man nearly vomited it back up as he tried to chew. Eating a rubber boot would be easier than eating what he had in his hands. He quickly swallowed, but even then the taste appeared to smear itself along the inside of his throat. Russell closed his eyes and took a few moments to catch his breath, he thought calamari was the most disgusting thing he had ever eaten in his life; now he was willing to eat all the calamari in the world if it meant never touching this worm meat ever again.
But, chances of a prayer like that coming true were nil. Russell shut his eyes, braced his body and braved another bite.
Another body falling at my feet...shit now I'll have to keep track of heaps of corpses as well as remember the worm's remains behind me. I far prefer fighting in a much more open area, but new comers can't be choosers.
Two I've dropped, the four that the others have taken care of and the two left? Oh they are leaving at a run. But I don't feel like chasing them so I let them go to carry the tale of death and destruction.
Shifting my hands back...I've got only a few wounds - on my hands and forearms, but they are closeing as I shrug and watch the last two run off. The bruises - which I have far more of than actual open wounds, will be gone in just hours.
I look over what can be scavenged from, or about, the bodies. Half burned and some still burning torches, clothes that are not new, none to clean, but still useful for something, and weapons. Improvised and mostly naught but clubs and staves, but still. I chose a staff, it seems to be the best of the lot, and nod as I check the balance.
"Strip the bodies, and I'll butcher them in a moment." I turn to swish my hands free of the blood clotting thier tips. I am not human. Eating humans is not, for me cannibalism, and will probably taste better than the worm monster.
"Hold him down!" Mamba ordered as he watched six of his men hold down another man thrashing beneath them. Well, at this point, he couldn't be sure it was still a man anymore, but nevertheless, he wanted to find out what the hell was happening. Snarling at last, he shoved one of the men aside and lifted the offensive man off his feet by the throat and pinned it against a wall. The man's face however was no longer human, bearing now eight eyes and a number of smaller mouths.
"You're one ugly little fucker, that's for sure." Mamba murmured as he studied the creature before turning to the others whom were holding the creature's limbs firmly against the wall, even as the creature slowly changed before their eyes into something...else. "What bloody varmint is this man?"
"A new guy, cap'n. Came in with the last batch." one tough looking female responded, tapping a club in her hand, ready to use it if necessary. "I don't know...he was human earlier, but now...I think he may be something else. Something...wait...I've heard rumors. Something about some secret experiments up top, something about creating better farming opportunities...but..." she shrugged at last, clearly at a loss for words.
"And the others? Any signs of stuff like this?" Mamba questioned as he looked around at the others.
A gutteral croaking came from the man pinned in his grasp, and a choking voice responded, "They... got us all............. I think."
"Well jolly damn! It still speaks!" Mamba retorted, giving a disgusted look as he saw some weird mucus pop out in bubbles from the man's nose, about the only human feature left on his face anymore.
"...I.....I'm hungry sir..." the creature replied, seemingly ignoring his remark. He gasped as he felt the vampire's grip loosen and he was released, though not without the vampire keeping a wary eye on him. Mamba clearly didn't like surprises in this sense.
"Food's in your sack. Eat that." Mamba ordered.
"No...not that..." the creature replied as he knelt down, his hands running across the dirt and rock beneath them. Slowly at first then growing more frantic as he sniffed the ground, he settled at last in a secluded area, his hands scraping the wall of something, pulling it to one of his several mouths and munching on it.
Mamba could see clearly the man was enjoying eating some sort of fungus or moss. He raised an eyebrow. "O...k..."
"Strip the bodies, and I'll butcher them in a moment."
The group of fifteen rounded the corner and lay their eyes on the recently concluded slaughter as Remmington spoke. For a moment all were speechless as they took in the scene before them. Bill, the leader of those that had come to investigate, did not recognise anyone present and by the looks of some of them figured they might be newcomers. Some of the dead were vaguely familiar though, known thugs, the type to attempt an attack out of the shadows whilst one was distracted. After a brief moment of starring at the corpses and at the survivors of the conflict, Bill spoke.
"What happened here? We heard noises and came to investigate..."
It would be reasonably clear to Remmington and the others that Bill and his companions were not there to cause trouble. None of them were armed and none appeared to be aggressive in the slightest. If anything, some of Bill's group were afraid considering what had just happened to the last group of men to approach these newcomers. Whilst most of the gangs were somewhat aggressive, Bill and his people wanted nothing in Paradise but to be left out of the gang politics. They didn't want control or domination over the others, just to get by as best they could.
Destroyer awoke with a thud as he was dropped by the shore of the lake, his face somewhat wet from splashing into the side of the water supply. His head still ached a little but he could tell the inhibitor was not active and eventually his head would be alright. Returning to his feet, Destroyer took in his surroundings for a moment. His head swam slightly and he felt nauseous, whatever the doc had given him was having some sort of effect and he didn't like it.
Taking a few steps forward, Destroyer stopped and leaned over, promptly emptying his stomach contents. He didn't feel quite right and he got the feeling the nausea was not related to his headache. Whatever had been in that injection wasn't right, wasn't natural. Knowing full well there was nothing he could do about it, Destroyer stood upright once more and began walking around the edge of the lake until he arrived at the tunnel leading towards Immortal territory. No doubt there would be men waiting for him further along to ensure no one attempted to give him any trouble.
As he progressed down the tunnel, Destroyer could feel a fever coming on. The cave was naturally a cool environment but he felt as though he was walking directly under the sun, something he had not done in many years. For some reason the heat seemed to be most intense in his hands, almost to the point where he could burn other parts of his body simply by touching them. Cursing the doc under his breath, Destroyer continued down the tunnel, back towards the Immortals camp.
The Golden Simatar
Russell's breathing was labored, the worm was getting harder to eat with every bite. After the initial amusement of the other Immortals to his near choking of attempting to eat it, they had gone off in little groups to talk and take a brief breather from their labor. Russell ate alone, he only received an occasional glance of contempt from the rest of the gang. They made no attempt to hide their disdain for the latest addition to their ranks and it was unlikely it was going to go away.
Russell tried to keep his mind occupied with other things, he looked around the chamber, looking at the rock formations, both man made and natural and the little holes that the Immortals had carved out for themselves. As his eyes scanned, they landed upon the main entry tunnel, a figure was coming through the darkness. The Simatarian rose from his seated position as the figure of Destroyer returned.
"Oy! Destroyer's back!" He called out. Russell stared his new leader he noted that the man looked sick. He didn't get a chance to move forward and ask as other Immortals knocked him away as they went to Destroyer's side.
"What happened here? We heard noises and came to investigate..."
I looked up from drying my hands on a realatively clean bit of shirt freshly stripped from one of the bodies. "They attacked us without provication, and payed the price." My manner was direct and matter of fact, without an ounce of threat to it. I didn't need to make threats, the evidence spoke volumes.
"All we want to to be left alone, figure out how to make a life here." I turned and began collecting the so callerd 'weapons' that were now ours.
Destroyer shook off all the assistance, he was starting to feel somewhat better although he couldn't shake the fever. It was good to actually see genuine concern on the faces of his Immortals, they were actually loyal and that was worth quite a bit down here in the depths of Paradise. Now walking straight, Destroyer managed to keep himself steady although he imagined he looked like he'd just emptied his guts but that would pass. At least his innards were being more agreeable now and perhaps after some time to settle down he would attempt the task of digesting some worm meat.
Despite the fact that those running Paradise were cruel and usual bastards, Destroyer couldn't shake the feeling that something outside the norm of Paradise was going on. The medical staff didn't usually care about the health of the prisoners and were there more for the guards health. The shot evidently wasn't meant to make him feel better but that still left a big question mark regarding its purpose.
Informing everyone that he was fine, he told them all to get back to their usual tasks and leave him be. This injection was certainly worth some form of investigation, although there wouldn't be a whole lot he could find out from down here in the caves. Moving over towards Russell, Destroyer indicated the newcomer should follow him. Once they were out of earshot from the others, Destroyer spoke.
"Tell me Russell, do you remember much about what happened before they brought you down here? Did you go through medical?"
"All we want to to be left alone, figure out how to make a life here."
Bill could empathise with such, he'd been in a very similar situation he'd first come to Paradise and had only survived thus far thanks to the kindness of strangers, something he had not expected to find in a place like this. Taking one last look at the corpses, Bill decided he had to help these strangers.
"Paradise can be a tough place for newcomers. If you are willing, I would be happy to guide you to a safer area. We also possess some gas lamps that you may have and I can show you where one of the natural gas stations is located."
The Golden Simatar
"Well I went through a physical examination back home before I got shoved into a cryo tube. But that was done by a Simatarian doctor"
Russell tried to think beyond that however. He scratched his head and felt a healed bruising around the back of his skull. "I got an inhibitor put in to me...so yeah I think I was in medical."
He was straining to think, trying to recall any sights and sound he might have picked up. The last conscious memory he had was seeing the cryo tub lid shut above him, the horrible terror of being closed in and then, nothingness for a long time. The next conscious thing he remembered was a blurry image of stairs as he was lead down into the prisoner area. Russell shook his head.
"Can't remember anything but that boss. I did go through medical, got the little bump on the back of my head where the inhibitor went in. Don't recall anything that might have happened during that time, I was out rather good. First thing I remember being here was seeing the floor as I was dragged down here."
Sloane was still a bit hyper from the fight, when the group of fifteen showed up. Noticing they weren't a threat he decided to go back to stripping the body that lay before him. There wasn't much on this one. His clothes were shredded now, and rather bloody. 'Cloth could be useful, though.' He decided to put the rags to the side once he stripped the body.. Waste not want not and all.
He was examining pockets to look for anything good, when Bill spoke.
His head shot up and he nodded with appreciation. "That's awfully good of you, mate. I'm sure we all appreciate it. It's nice to know that it's not all assholes." He laughed a little. He was about to say something else, but thinking better of it. He just stood.
"I'm Revelin Sloane. Pity about your timing. Not really a sight you want to walk in on. Then again, you could have arrived five minutes ago."
He offered another little laugh.
As Sloane spoke up, Bill noted the corpse he was searching in a casual manner, obviously not bothered too much by the fact he had just killed another man. Bill had a growing feeling that these newcomers were just as dangerous if not more so than many of the other prisoners in Paradise and yet they did not appear to be overly aggressive or hostile, unlike many of the others.
"My name is Bill. I was once in your position so I know how difficult it can be starting off here. Once you are done with these... bodies, I will be happy to lead everyone to a place where we won't have to worry about their kind."
Besides the lake, the natural gas stations were generally considered a 'no conflict' zone as the equipment there was for everyone's benefit and use, regardless of affiliations or grudges. It was quite clear that Bill's people wanted to be away from the corpses as soon as possible and whilst Bill could not claim to enjoy the sight it was something he had become used to over his years in Paradise.
Destroyer listened to Russell's brief recollection, it was as he suspected. Paradise rarely brought in prisoners that were conscious, less risk to the guards and other staff that way. It also gave them the opportunity to do whatever they wanted whilst the prisoners were out of it. Contemplating this for a moment, Destroyer looked down at his own hands. They were still burning up to the point where they felt as if someone had lit them on fire.
"Do you feel... different now, compared to before you came here? Ignore the headache from the implant, is there anything else that seems strange to you?"
Destroyer realised it might be a long shot but he didn't believe that he was the only one to receive the strange injection. If Russell proved to be a dead end he would have his people ask around Paradise, surely something was bound to cross their ears eventually.
Generally the prison staff did not interfere with the inmates of Paradise and Destroyer liked it that way. The unspoken agreement allowed them to do their own thing with little interference. If the game had changed, Destroyer wanted to know why.
The Golden Simatar
"Well, now that you mention it..." Russell said, wiping some beads of sweat from his brow. The man twisted his body, his face conveying a look of discomfort. His muscles were still stiff, as he moved his legs became looser and he felt better, but his arms and torso were still giving him hell. He stretched out his arms, the brief feeling of relief was wonderful, once he stopped, the aching resumed, slightly subdued now.
"My joints and muscles have been feeling strained and stretched beyond belief. I was totally fine until just before you left. I've had a bit of a sickish feeling that came along with it, but I don't think its anything major. But, my muscles are being a complete bitch to me."
Russell rubbed his arm to try and soothe it but to no avail. As he rubbed, he felt something move under his skin. The Simatarian frantically rolled up his sleeve, revealing a well toned lower arm. Russell looked at it, yeah it was his arm, but he felt something move under it. The man pulled back in brief surprise as he saw the flesh shift slightly under the skin.
"Holy hell, ya see that?"
Whilst the others had been talking with the new arrivals, Nivitz had finished stripping the corpses of the two men he'd killed. Finding a few weapon-like objects, as he couldn't bring himself to call the shard of metal a knife, he stashed them away as well as the other useful bits and pieces. At hearing the claim of a place where he wouldn't have to 'worry' about the bandits that had attempted to raid them earlier set of great big alarm bells ringing in his head.
"So what kind of place is this 'safe-zone'?" He asked with not a great deal of sarcasm dripping from his tone. To him it seemed more like the lotophagi trap, in which raiders came, ate of the sleeping inducing narcotic believing it to be nothing more than a harmless food stuff with the intent to sell the natives to slavery, only to be met that self-same fate. After all, why do work when you can lead the victims willingly into a trap.
While waiting for an answer he stuck his hand in his pocket and felt the do-hickey that had appeared when Remmington went into his not-Wythe form. Pulling it out he asked, "Hey, Rem, does this belong to you?"
"Hey, Rem, does this belong to you?"
Remmy looked it over while he thought about Bill's offer. He understood Nivitz's suspicion, but one was trapped only if one let's one care down.
"And, yes, why would we be safe there, Bill. I am Remmy, by the way."
He looked back down at the device and glanced at Nivitz "Yes It is something they tried to implant into me." He snorted and tucked in to an inner pocket. "Luckily such toys do not stick."
He looked back at Bill, though continuing his work of stripping the bodies.
"Holy hell, ya see that?"
It took most of Destroyer's self discipline not to leap back from the twitching Russell. It appeared as if his muscles had a mind of their own under his skin, although he couldn't imagine what they were doing. He hadn't seen any signs of muscle spasms amongst his own symptoms but the heat in his hands and forearms seemed to be getting worse, to the point where he almost couldn't ignore it.
"Strange... really strange."
Destroyer pondered this a moment as he guided Russell down a tunnel leading to more living quarters. The tunnel was lit by a number of torches mounted on the wall, allowing the pair to see well enough to spot the various rocks and other rubbish lying about the tunnel. After a few minutes of silence Destroyer stopped and picked up a sturdy looking rock. It was solid and appeared to have fallen off the wall. After examining it a moment, he handed the rock to Russell.
"Try and break this."
Destroyer didn't really expect Russell to be able to break the stone, it was thick and sturdy, he doubted even he could break himself. Nevertheless, with all that strange muscle activity, Destroyer had an inkling.
"So what kind of place is this 'safe-zone'?"
"A lot of Paradise is divided into gang territories, it's hard to find areas that someone has not laid a claim to. Most gangs pick a certain area they are comfortable with and out of the way to call their own. Some of the more spiteful inmates will attempt to claim common thoroughfares, if you could call it that. Areas that would be considered 'public space' anywhere else, such as tunnels leading to water or other areas of importance."
Bill took a moment to gather his thoughts before continuing.
"Firstly, my people possess some territory that is not contested and so no one will randomly attack you there. You are welcome to come there and even stay on if you are interested in joining us. Otherwise you may have to go deeper into the caverns to find unclaimed areas. Besides that though, the Paradise guards have established designated neutral zones. The lake is one of them, so are the natural gas stations and a few other minor locations where food or other supplies may be found. You can usually tell these areas are neutral because they are electronically lit and monitored to ensure activity remains neutral. I would be happy to take you to a neutral zone if you do not wish to come back to our territory. No one breaks the neutrality or they suffer the guard's wrath."
Bill and his people gawked at the sight of the inhibitor being passed to Remmy. They knew all too well the consequences of attempting to or removing the inhibitor. Ignoring the burning sensation in his hands, Bill managed to squeeze out the surprised question.
"Is that an inhibitor? From the back of your head?"
The Golden Simatar
Russell placed his fingertips on his arms, it felt like he had a small army of worms swimming about underneath his skin. He followed Destroyer, looking up only enough to see where he was going, the man was more preoccupied with trying to figure out what was going on with him. He opened the jumpsuit, his chest was still fairly flat with a slight roundness, but Russell noticed the shifting was starting to occur there as well.
"Try and break this."
Russell closed his suit and looked down at the rock in Destroyer's hands. He took it, it had some weight, probably a good five or ten pounds. Russell looked up at Destroyer with a 'You must be joking' expression on his face, but the gaze he got back was complete seriousness. Russell sighed and grasped the rock tightly with his hands.
For a couple of minutes, it looked fairly pathetic. Russell was twisting and pushing and trying to break the rock like one would break a loaf of bread. His face was turning cherry red and sweat beaded down his face. The man stopped and took a breath, it was ridiculous, he couldn't break a rock simply by twisting it around in his hands. He looked up to Destroyer, the Immortal leader still watching him. Taking a few more gulps of air, Russell started again.
Several seconds later, a loud crack echoed through the cavern. Russell blinked, at first unsure of what it was. Looking down he moved his hands apart, the rock had a rough split down the center. Dropping one of the halves, Russell took the other in both of his hands and within just a few seconds, it broke.
Russell looked up to Destroyer, the Simatarian at a loss for words.
Sloane listened carefully to Bill's words. He really had no intention of joining up with the man. He still wanted to test his options. For now he would prefer to stay with Remmy, but he might go off in the future. He didn't want to bind himself to anymore alliances just yet. Though he appreciated the offer to show the group where the natural gas stations could be found.
"Is that an inhibitor? From the back of your head?"
Rev had been too focused on stripping bodies to notice the piece of tech being handed to Remington. It was Bill's words that caught his attention. He tilted his head to get a better look at the device.
"Did you take that out? Or did you body just reject it?"
If it was the second option, maybe Sloane could be that lucky.
No one breaks the neutrality or they suffer the guard's wrath."
I listened quietly to Bill's explanation "Thank you yes, I would like to see one of these natural gas stations, and the information about safe ground is very helpful. However" My shrug was very Gallic "I am not ready to 'join up' just yet, though I can only speak for myself. The others here may choose differently "
I gestured toward the Katrina, Revelin, and Nivitz.
"Is that an inhibitor? From the back of your head?"
"Did you take that out? Or did you body just reject it?"
Sighing inwardly - as I had not wanted any big conversation about what I am - some secrets are useful. "Yes it fell out" was my simple reply.
I gave Sloane a meaningful look, hoping that he would understand how it camed to be out. We of the changing kind do not like things that intrude in our bodies...well I should say that our bodies do not, and reject them when we Shift.
"I am not ready to 'join up' just yet, though I can only speak for myself. The others here may choose differently "
Bill nodded in understanding. He hadn't expected this group of newcomers to join his people, they seemed far too strong willed and dangerous to really fit in and he was somewhat glad they had declined. Regardless of such he was determined to at least help them get to safety, it never hurt to have too many friends in Paradise.
"Fair enough, if you'd care to follow me then we shall get out of here before any more trouble comes this way."
"Yes it fell out"
Bill refrained from saying anything but his people began to whisper amongst themselves. People tended to be apprehensive of such strange occurrences, especially down in the caverns. Bill just noted that anyone capable of removing their inhibitor was obviously not one to be trifled with.
Destroyer was also silent as he gazed upon the cracked rock. His hunch may have been right but that didn't answer the 'why' any of this was happening. Picking up the dropped half, Destroyer attempted to break the rock but after a few moments it was quite clear that he wasn't strong enough, despite obviously being physically larger and more heavily muscled than Russell.
As Destroyer attempted to crack the rock he felt the heat flowing from his hands into the stone. At this point he was essentially ignoring the warmth but this proved to be difficult when his hands burst into flames, promptly further illuminating the tunnel. Grunting in surprise, Destroyer was about to begin flailing his hands around in an attempt to extinguish them when he noticed that his hands weren't burning. He could feel the heat but the flames were doing no damage to his hands or arms. The rock on the other hand was beginning to glow and crack from the heat of the fire and after a minute or so it also fell apart.
Also completely lost for words, Destroyer stood completely still for a moment, gazing at his flaming hands until they decided to extinguish themselves, leaving his hands a little red from the heat but otherwise completely unmarked or harmed. Several more minutes passed before Destroyer spoke.
"Ok.... that was strange."
The Golden Simatar
Russell let out a screech in shock as Destroyer's hands seemly caught fire on their own. He jumped back and slammed himself against the wall as the man initially flailed his hands to get it off of him. The man stood pressed against the wall, his eyes firmly on Destroyer's hands, the flesh wasn't peeling, it didn't even seem affected by the fire. As it died away, Russell stumbled forward and stared at his own hands, then at Destroyer's, there was something defiantly wrong, something terribly wrong.
Russell only nodded silently to Destroyer's comment, it was more than strange, it was damn scary. He looked up at his leader.
"This ain't natural...at least for a regular human..." Russell bent down and picked up the remaining half of the stone and snapped it like it was a stick. He tossed the pieces away, his eyes staring at Destroyer. "Ya think they are experimenting on us? I mean we get picked and probed before we're dumped. What if...what if they did the same to the rest of the group I was thrown in with? Imagine what they got in them. It must be experimenting...I mean shit look at me...this ain't natural."
"By the stars...I'm so...tired..." groaned one man as he slumped to a seated position against a rock wall, his weapon simply deposited across his knees. "I can't remember the last time I...slept..."
Nearby, the creature that had been devouring moss earlier replied in between a few small bites of some fungus. "Just get some sleep...I'll keep watch."
The sleepy man shook his head, "No, no..........Mamba said I had to......" his voice trailed off, the last words turning into incoherent mumbling. He opened his eyes a moment later, "A few minutes..." He coughed a moment, sneezing a second later, and then let his chin droop to his chest.
Moss-man simply kept eating, burping a few times as he did so. He absently scratched at some slightly slimy substance on the back of one hand. Then, his attention shifted to some funky looking flora that spawn from his right shoulder, and he let a finger reach up to turn it into the light for better viewing. He could see bits of pollen gathered at its center, and watched as his warm breath blew a small mass of it away.
"Test results are starting to come in, sir." reported a calm voice, though it held a slight air of excitement in it.
The warden looked up from a burst transmission sheet of some news on a distant planet detailing a high profile case in the cesspool of the judicial system. He had already dispatched the Bayman to the planet, knowing the trial would be fixed to a desired result. People paid good money to see results, and they often knew just whose ears to whisper 'suggestions' into, as if giving advice on the interplanetary stock market.
"Excellent doctor." the warden expressed as he laid the sheet down and followed the doctor into the surveillance room. There, all the guards were watching with fascination at the various screens depicting all the prisoners in the caves below them. A loop had been set into place on certain individuals exhibiting unusual behavior apart from their norm. At the moment, a single screen focused on Destroyer and Russell. A recording of Russell's voice stating his speculations made the Warden smile.
"And so the rumors begin...switch to Mamba's territory, if you would."
Moments passed before a smaller screen expanded to the full size of the observation screen. It took a few moments to adjust to the lighting, then zoomed in on the man they had observed earlier with the strange growth. At the moment, he was picking at something on his shoulder.
"A strange anomaly."
"Sir, I'm still picking up some traces of some type of carcinogen coming from the prisoner on the right, but also something else is present. Computer scans are showing it to be some sort of airborne pollen...biological breakdown identifies it as both a depressant and spasmolytic." a technician reported. The doctor leaned in over his shoulder, his brow clearly indicating some sort of concern.
"That's certainly unexpected..." he muttered as he studied the video feed.
The warden spoke up, "Uh...doc, care to tell me what's going on. In English, if you please?"
The doctor's finger pointed at the other man on the screen, the one whom was sleeping peacefully. "See how he's sleeping? That pollen I wager is causing that to happen. His limbs are limp too, indicating his muscles are just not holding up their usual tension."
The warden raised an eyebrow, "Are you telling me that other prisoner is drugging him?"
"Yes, and incapacitating him...I think so, but I'm not sure why. Possibly a defense mechanism, a useful one at that."
The warden studied the moss-eating man on the screen. "Keep an eye on him, will you?"
The doctor let out a half-snorting chuckle. "Of course. He's not supposed to be doing what he's doing now..."
Sloane was very happy with Remmy's statement, but he kept the emotion internal. He didn't want to tip off the other group to anything. He trusted them enough to get them to the natural gas, but he wasn't sure how many people he wanted to know he was a lycan. He would have to wait until they had parted ways to shift. It made him feel a bit impatient, but he wouldn't risk doing it now.
Though he thought it would be best to switch forms soon. He didn't like the idea of a chip in his head, and he got the feeling that whoever put it there wouldn't like the idea of him being able to remove it.
He shifted from one foot to the other. He was starting to get a bad feeling.
"It must be experimenting...I mean shit look at me...this ain't natural."
Destroyer nodded but remained silent for a few moments as he considered this. His hands were still burning somewhat but if he concentrated he thought the flames would stay out. He certainly hadn't been able to do this before the injection and Russell seemed genuinely surprised by his new found strength. It was certainly logical to assume this was the result of the Paradise staff. Destroyer couldn't figure out why they would though. More power to the prisoners certainly didn't seem to comply with the usual habits of poverty and oppression.
"Definitely not normal. You should keep this quiet for the moment and I'll try to find out a bit more about what's going on."
Resuming his walk, Destroyer guided Russell for a few more moments until he reached a much smaller circular cavern with smaller caves branching off from them. There was a central fire pit illuminating the small chamber whilst some of the caves had gas lamps illuminating them. Destroyer guided Russell to a cave entrance just to the left of the chamber entrance.
The cave reached about ten meters back and curved slightly to create a corner of privacy. There was a little fabric lying about the cave floor resembling a blanket and chunk of bubble wrap that could be interpreted as a pillow. Otherwise the cave was unfurnished.
"This is what you have to begin with. It's not much but it is yours. As far as accumulating other items. Some will be loaned to you from our general supplies, others will be given if you earn them. And you are entitled to keep what you find outside our territory."
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