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21
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 12:03:51 pm »
Henry stared daggers into Xander, as if to skewer him. ”Are you kidding me?  Fine! Stay with the ragging ****!” Henry began walking up the earthen embankment of the ridge, his feet sinking into the loose topsoil.

”Com’mon laddie, at least ye have more sense than the dumbarse sootie. Let’s go sit in the van, eh?” Atvulf spoke to Xander, as he stood up, and began to walk backwards to the relative safety of the tree line. As Xander stood up, carefully brushing a loose, dry leaf from his shoulder, Tsubaki followed suit with him, looking wildly between the two opposing men, uncertain, her eyes wide open, a light tremble shaking through her body. 

A slight, continuous rumble vibrated the air, erupting from center of the depression, growing exponentially. All turned to look onwards.

The transport was leaving. Rapidly.

”Dumb idiots,” Atvulf mumbled to himself, before raising his voice, It’s f*cking leaving, you’re too late! Just get back here!”

A pause.

A still moment.

Quiet. Too quiet. As if the wind had stopped. No, not just the wind. Sound, any movement, everything paused for a moment.

No.

Not everything.

A metal machine, no, a behemoth, had appeared suddenly, as if formed from light itself in an instant by some otherworldly god. Towering, not quite over the mountains beyond, but far above the slowly rising dinky transport as it attempted to ascend to the heavens above, it raised its enormous hand skyward, pointing to some far off distant star. Word caught deep inside Xanders throat, a scream, a cry, deadened. And then the massive, metallic hand fell back, downwards towards the terrain.

Another moment passed, nothing changing, frozen. As if the world had nothing better but to savor the moment. 

A gust of wind, no, a shockwave of pure invisible energy, erupted at Xander and the others from a skyward point. Trees buckled, stripped of leaves, grasses strained to not be uprooted. Xander was knocked off his feet as if gravity held no sway upon him, tumbling backward, landing painfully into the ground, agony erupting through his body. Tsubaki fell back into him, a high pitched yelp forced from her lungs. Through the corner of his eye, he watched as a somewhat distant figure disappeared under a massive sheet of metal hull, a fine red mist sprinkling outward, painting the dull white lettering of some word on the debris a crimson red. Grabbing the fallen Tsubaki above him with one arm, Xander threw himself violently sideward, another piece of loose metal debris occupying the location where they had been milliseconds prior. Xander’s version dimmed for a moment, as soil, stone, and unidentifiable material assaulted his face. Something rough scraped him above his eye, a searing fluid left in its wake.

Xander rose to his feet pulling Tsubaki upwards with him, unsteadily, a buzzing in his head louder than a thousand irate hornets bellowing into his ears and into his soul. He looked around, the dizziness invading him hindering his observations.

”COME ON! BACK TO THE VAN! NOW!” Someone shouted mutedly behind him. Atvulf, pehaps.

”BUT THE PEOPLE… SURVIVORS!” This, ahead of Xander. Henry?

”THERE’S NO TIME!”

”DAVID?!”

”HE’S DEAD, SOOTIE. DO YOU WANT TO F*CKING JOIN HIM YOU GOD DAMN IDIOT?!”

Xander limped backwards-his leg felt a bit warm, numb-, Tsubaki helping to hold him up. The pair reached the van quickly, Tsubaki helping to lift him into the passenger’s seat. The opposing door opened, and then closed with a distant click. A rumbling, the engine lit, and Xander felt the vehicle move, turning, and quickly gaining speed, to where, he could not discern.

”Oh f*ck, you think?”

”Think what?”

”Ye think the bastard saw us?”

A pause.

”I don’t see anything in the mirror.”

”F*ck. That good.”

”Oh no, Xander! You’re bleeding! Stay awake man! “ Someone shook Xander by the shoulder. ”Atvulf, get the med kit in the back! It’s under the drivers seat!”

”Dude, da f*ck do I know about fixing head wounds! I can stick a bandage on him, thats about it.”

”I took a few courses at the academy. I think I can repair it when we’ve gotten enough distance from...  from that thing. Xander, stay awake, come on!”

A coldness spread across Xander however, beckoning to him, like a warm home on a cool winter’s night. Quiet. Still. Xander closed his eyes, the blackness consuming him.

F*ck.

End of Chapter 1
22
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 12:03:24 pm »
Xander cursed the weather silently. He sat up and put a hand on Henry's shoulder "He's right. If they do destroy transport and we get on it, we're dead. But, if they survive that smaller ship most likely has a comm device, we could always ask them to wait for us. Plus, youve seen how David can be a coward, he wanted to leave behind our young friend. Waiting a bit wont hurt, but if we go now, we may not survive." He prayed to the gods that watched over everything, hoping he made the right choice.
23
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 12:01:19 pm »
”Oh sure you pinhead, side with the fracking sooty. Yall gonna get us killed…” Atvulf murmured under his breath, before returning to the rear of the vehicle in a rage.

Henry sighed heavily, as if trying to exhume some toxic fume from his lungs. ”Why did we let him and his buddy come with us?”. Another deep breath, significantly longer in length. ”Sorry, Xander, I shouldn’t have said that.”

Henry turned to look at Xander, as if examining his eyes for some lost truth, some decaying ideal, before returning his vision to the road.

”My father,… my father, sure he was strict. He knew what needed to be done, what was best for my brother and I. When I was younger, I kind of hated him for it. I think all kids have some sort of resentment to authority. But I understood now what he knew then. That we needed to understand that some people in the world can’t be changed. They’re too fixed in their ways. We just have to be the better person, be stronger, and hold our tongues before we say something we will always regret.”

Henry once again glanced slightly at Xander, a simple turn of his head towards him. ”You get it, don’t you?....  Sorry, that was too much,.. I shouldn’t have gone on like that.”

The road forked a head, a single, wooden signpost denoting the exchange. Towards one lane, the distant ridgeline of ominous peaks grew out from behind the overhead tree line, like the spinney back of some devilish alligator, lurking behind the swaying fronds of a murky swamp in wait for its coming prey. Towards the other lane, the trees began to thin, supplanted by thick, vibrant grasses that swayed calmly in the fresh, light breeze, without a care for existence and its troubles.
 
”Right it is then, I suppose.” Henry grinned at Xander, a smile drawn across his face from ear to ear. ”We’re going to get away from here, somewhere safe. Never been into space before though.”

A light chuckle erupted from him.  ”Space,.. can you believe that. See dad, becoming an officer will take me to higher places, literally”

---

”Xander, psst, wake up!” A light murmur pierced the veil of oblivion that had shrouded him. Xander stood up abruptly, and had he risen any more, his head would have firmly planted itself into the van ceiling above him. He sat down once more. Naps can be quite sudden.

”Get out, you’ve got to see this.” Henry whispered into his ear beside him, before his vague presence ceased to exist once more.

Groggily, Xander removed himself from the vehicle, a heavy weight upon his limbs as he made his way to the cluster of people ahead of him.

”Git’ down you frakkin’ idiot!” A deeper voice whispered angrily at him.

Xander obliged, crawling on all fours towards the group, moist dirt clinging to his arms and legs, leeching the morning moisture into his every orifice, leaving the tree line in which the armored van had been stashed, hidden. Ahead of him, Atvulf, Henry, and a few others he could not define from his vantage point had lain down, watching something in the distance over a grassy embankment. He saddled up next to a silent, still Tsubaki.

”Here, you’re going to need these,” Henry whispered, awkwardly handing him a pair of green, metallic binoculars. ”They’re Atvulf’s”

”Well, not exactly mine. Liberated dem’ from a dead guy in Yonkers. He wasn’t needing them no more…,” Atvulf whispered back as Xander began to peer over the grassy knoll at whatever spectacle lay beyond.

Towering, fresh grasses, sprinkled daintily with morning drew, infiltrated sporadically by crisp white flowers, waved gently in the morning breeze as if saluting the hidden party. They carpeted a small valley-more a light indent in the earth rather than a full-blown basin-that leveled out nicely to form a straight surface, blemished only by a mixed patch of upturned dirt, gravel, and bio-matter. Strewn about, a handful of steel, roughed-up crates lay around the perimeter of the landing site, in which several space-bound transports, as equally dinged as the crates, lay waiting. One was a smoldering wreck, as if lanced by some devastating energy that had slagged it from prow to core to stern, another was far too small for interstellar flight, more fit for yacht than a transport and remained abandoned, but the third, that third ship. A handful of minuscule black dots, ants, no people, scurried around the transport in a hurry, and the low hum of online impulse engines permeated the morning air. They were leaving.

 ”Well then, looks like they’re leaving now. Let’s get going then,” Henry whispered.

”Sooty, we all gotta stay here and watch,” Atvulf spoke, muffled by the bodies to the left of Xander.

”Are you-look, we decide, we’re leaving on that ship Atvulf.”

”Shut your yapper man, we don’t need to get up in there with them.”

”Are you crazy?! They’re leaving now!”
”I can see dem’, I ain’t blind. What I’m sayin’ is we wait. Look, if I’m right and dem’ metal heads be ready to pop anythin’ that makes it off, then we get to live unlike them poor sods. If I wrong, then we just need get that smaller transport yonder, and we meet up with them before they leave the planets sphere of influence. Simple. Just airing on the fracking side of caution man.”

”Oh f*ck this sh*t, stop fracking arguing, I’m getting to that transport, even if you idiots want to keep arguing about it. Die on this fracking planet if you want!,” David appeared to Xander’s right, having stood up. He crested the knoll, and began a light jog down the far side as he made his way to the landing site some lengths away.

”We’ve already decide, David is already walking, Atvulf, we’re leaving, that’s final. Let’s get going!,” Henry whispered angrily, as he sat up and began brushing the debris from his clothes to which they now clung.

Choice 4 (Strength: ???)

A: Stay silent, and get ready to run for the transports. The group needs to leave now, unless we want to be stranded. This is not the time for caution.

B: Side with Atvulf and speak up. It won’t hurt if we wait, and a little caution never hurt anyone. We’ll probably be able to catch them with the smaller transport even if we do wait.
24
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 12:00:54 pm »
Xander kept looking through the channels looking for something else "Henry is right. We need to get out of here, and maybe get some more help. There has to be more out there than just us and the metalheads, right? Any chance to escape we should take. We don't know when we'll get another one, even if they know about it."
25
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 12:00:26 pm »
The war drums of the gods beat with their full might as Xander awoke in the morning, each pound upon their mythical instruments louder than the last. Not the light tap of tiny feet as they scurried around, frantic to supplement their needs, or the rush and din of energy only capable after a solid night of slumber, could overcome the sensation of an atmosphere filled with anguish and terror of an individual forced from their livelihood, nonetheless a cluster of them.

A shower. A hot one. That might help.

Xander remembered rigorous rush of water that had resounded distantly last night, a loving embrace he sorely needed and had missed out from as a result of the nights activities. He stumbled down the hall, one hand braced upon an ugly, rose patterned wall, slowly inching closer to the nearest bathroom, each step a herculean labor within itself.

One step up. Both legs in. Turn the knob.

Water, freezing icy water, as if chilled by a hyperborean, beat down upon Xander’s flesh like a roaring waterfall. One hand reached out, turning the shower’s handle. Nothing. No hot water. Crud. But it would have to do, and the powerful cascade served to awaken Xander further.

”Xander, are you up?”

Henry, probably.

A quick shower unfortunately, but not an unwelcome one.  Xander wiped the loose water from his worn body with a rough, peach towel, re-clothed himself, and quickly left the bathroom.

Henry stood at the bottom of the stairs, looking up towards the above floor, his dark eyes still enraptured underneath by thick, veiny bags. A restful sleep was not for all last night, as it would seem.

”We’ve loaded up all the gear. The new guy, the big one…. er…. Atvulf I think? scavenged the rest of the house this morning. We’re good to go; just you and a few others need to finish getting ready. Don’t bother eating, we’ve taken all the food, and I’ve got a ration bar sitting out on the dashboard of the van for you.”

Xander rushed back to his room, far faster than his first flight. His belongings were limited to only a handful of items, and beyond the black, chipped flashlight that he had taken from the van, none were of any note, except perhaps the thick padded jacket he had found in the closet of his room. It was a mature piece, with its edges frayed from wear, and a suspicious stain adorning the right breast pocket, but where the survivors were going, any such protection from the elements might remain useful.

Xander turned back and rushed down the rickety stairs, his feet raising minuscule amounts of dust and loud creaks with each heavy step downward, his hands gliding down the worn, smooth wooden banister, each groove and notch a fairytale. The doorway lay open to the elements, blocking nothing but one’s own imagination. As he exited their temporary abode, he quietly closed the heavy door behind him. No reason not to close the door, perhaps some other travelers might find use for the house in the future.

The van had been moved out to sit quietly in front of the house, with only the din of noisy occupants filling the brisk, morning air. A light breeze flew through the air, not so strong as to cause alarm, but enough to kick up loose topsoil and dust that had begun to coat the windshield of the armored van. Tsubaki stood solemnly in front of Xander, staring upward toward the skies, her eyes never wavering from some imaginary point in the domain above as her newly acquired bright summer dress swam loosely around her stockinged legs.

”COME ON YE TWO, WE LEAVIN’! GET IN THE VAN!”, Atvulf shouted loudly, startlingly, enough to awaken a sleeping hen that had been resting on a weathered wooden post by the barn, and send it squawking away.

A few steps forward and Xander jumped up into the passenger’s side of the armored van, Henry alongside, hands already on the wheel. A quick flick of his wrist as he turned the metal key in the ignition, a sudden jolt, and they were once more driving towards their destination. For a moment just off the farmhouse land, and back on the uneven road, Xander turned his head back towards the temporary abode that had suited them well the previous night. A shame, to leave the house. Futures are rather uncertain.

The group drove mostly in silence as they inched towards the distant evacuation point, Xander occasionally catching snippets of speech from the other survivors whose names escaped him as he quietly consumed his dry, coarse breakfast. It was not until Atvulf began to speak did Xander snap awake from his light, weary nap.

”So, we all headin’ to this evacuation point in the mountains right? What be makin’ this location important for us anyhow?”

Henry responded somewhat mutely. “My commander, Captain Bruse, received orders to pull out of the city and relocate any survivors we had picked up to Lattimer Valley. There’s supposed to be a fully functional DERA camp being built up there.”

”Yea, but that was ages ago dude,” Atvulf began, ”what makes ye think the camp is still functioning?”

Henry took a moment respond. …”I have faith in our government agencies. If they say they’re going to do something, they’re going to do it. We have survivors under our responsibility, and we need to get them there safely as instructed.”

”Hhhhhh”, Atulf snorted quietly, blowing enough air to raise the hairs on Xanders neck. The van lapsed back into peaceful silence, except for the low hum of the engine and the crunch of debris underneath.


”Anyone mind if I turn on the radio?” Henry began to speak a short while later. When no one spoke up, he turned to Xander, and continued. ”Xander, just keep going through the channels. There has to be something on, maybe some information we could use. This silence is getting to me a bit.”

Xander turned the radio on, and began to test the airwaves, looking for a sound, a peep, a whisper. The only thing that the metal box returned was static, lonely, empty, noisy static. It was if a great void had encompassed the world, silencing all the voices that had once graced the invisible waves. No quiet starlet on a moonlight serenade to impress the stars themselves, no traffic announcer warning cars off some infamous highway like it was the forbidden land, no sports analyst listing off stats as he would his own families birthday’s no, no, no.

No sound.

No people.

Nothing.

”Wow… this is depressing, there has to be-wait, what was that?” Henry spoke.

Xander had heard it to, a barely audible word, such that had he not been paying attention, he would have missed it to the wind. He began to hone in on the frequency, a light twist of the nodes until-

”-escape. If you’re in the vicinity of Medona, make your way to east to the clearing, just 30 miles outside of town. We’ll be leaving in an hour. If you want off Hiroikku, now’s your chance.”

Henry stared at Xander. ”Off Hiroikku? They have a ship or something?”

Atvulf had made his way back to the front of the van, and had stuck his head between Henry and Xander obtrusively. ”The f*** did I just hear? Off Hiroikku?”

”Xander was going through the radio channels, and there was a broadcast going on…”

”What dumb*rse is on the radio blatherin’ bout’ some stupid escape? Dem metal heads probs heard that, idiot is super screwed.”

”What?”

”Dem metal heads are probably able to hear that kind of sh*t. They hit us hard, and they hit us fast. They had to have known where. Stands to reason they got sum’ kind of way to get that info. If they heard that, you can bet they’ll stop anyone from leaving the planet. They easily have the firepower.”

”That’s conspiracy talk, and you know it Atvulf. If there’s a ship out there with room, we might be able to use it to get away from Hiroikku. Sure, we might be able to make it out here for longer than most, but the other survivors? They’re not built for this. Getting them to safety is our top priority. Space seems like the safest place to me. Besides, if they do get attacked, then at least we’ll be there to help them.”

Choice 3 (Strength: ???)
A. Atvulf is right. It’s not worth the risk to go and see what is going on with the mysterious broadcast. It’s too bad if they get hurt, but it’s not our fault.

B. Henry is right. It’s a valid evacuation method, and we need to get the survivors to safety as soon as possible. If they get attacked we can help them to.
26
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 11:59:53 am »
He quickly walked back inside thinking "I really hope they have a bed I can use. I have the awful crick in my neck." He kept looking around on his way back thinking over what had just happened "I really don't trust those two new ones. The way they laughed talking about the girl... It just didn't seem right. I'll think about it tomorrow. I'm tired." He quickly went upstairs and went to find a bed. If he found one or not, he quickly lied down and went to sleep.
27
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 11:59:17 am »
”Yeah, sure you do cupcake. Ah ah ah-, keep those hands up unless you like a few rounds through the noggin.”

In the dim light of the blanketing night, the figure, no, figures, features were far too obscured for Xander to extrapolate any useful information, save for the manly figure they cut against the moon’s light. The glint of a long rod, a barrel, pointed ominously, directly at the brow of Xanders forehead.

”How bout’ you pretty boy get movin’ to the house there. No sudden movements cupcake, don’t want a little accident on our hands, now do we?”

Xander turned slowly towards the house and began to walk forward, his feet’s noise combining with his captors, raising a din upon the rough gravel such that he was sure the others would hear them, to come rescue him. But none such help arrived. Slowly, he opened the screen door of the rickety house, a roaring creek alighting the night, turned the door knob of the thick, inner door, and walked inside into the embracing warmth of the abode.

”Xander, hey, never mind, David found fire wood stacked up in the kitchen, just leave the new stuff by the-“ Henry spoke, before his eyes fell upon the new arrives. His eyes flicked towards his service weapon, nestled snuggly on an opposing recliner, but an invisible movement behind Xander warded him from his future action.

”Best you get sittin’ there cupcake, you to Officer Boogie. Nothin’ too swift, ya hear?” one of the men behind Xander spoke, his voice gruff and low.

Xander obliged, promptly sitting next to a now seated Henry on one of the coarse, dirty sofas. In the sepia house light, he could now clearly observe the details of the opposing men. Both were young and light skinned, perhaps somewhere just beyond twenty years old.  One was stocky, thick muscles on all appendages, his nose bent at a barely observant odd angle, as if he had been lightly punched many moons ago. The other was far less meaty than his cohort, his skin pocket-marked with light grooves from a clear lack of skin care, one eye, a hare off from alignment with its partner. Both wore thick, flannel shirts, with long, ragged jeans caked in dust, mud, and other unknown afflictions. The broader of the two began to speak.

Names’ Atvulf, Atvulf Lasserson. This here be Mikey, dearest cousin of mine. “[/i] The scrawnier of the two waved a evident, if awkward hello. ”Now, before we get on with the pleasantries, might you tell us bout’ your dealings n’ such.”

Henry began to explain to the duo, though hesitantly, about how they had fled Saruleah Bay City in the initial wave of the invasion, and how they had met Xander in the rice fields, and their current destination of the rally point.  The pair seemed to relax as Henry continued further into their tale, until he finished, and the larger of the two began to speak.

”Bout’ the same with us. We were goin’ into to town today, needin’ more foodstuffs, when the metal heads began attacking. Popped a cap in a few of them suckers, but didn’t quite have the ammo to shoot all them, so we high-tailed it out of there. Saw your lights a few hours back, and we’ve been trying to get to ye since.”

Atvulf paused for a few moments to scratch his forehead, before he continued.

”Err… sorry bout’ sticking this here to yer’ head. Didn’t mean to be all aggressive and such. Don’t even have a round chambered.” A quick flick by the man opened up the rifle, and indeed, it lay empty inside. ” Didn’ really know who the hell you were though, just saw ur’ lights and though we should pay yall a visit, and didn’t think no dinkly little knife was goin’ to convince yall we weren’t going to hurt you. Though I guess us stabbing ye would hurt bout’ the same. Eh, can’t be too careful with them metal heads, don’t know who we can trust ye know? Atvulf shrugged indifferently.

He paused for a few moments to rest the rifle alongside the chair in which he sat. ”Look, we don’t exactly have means of transportation at the moment… and well, a destination… you mind if we be adding ourselves to your group?”

Henry looked worriedly at Xander. ”Well,.. we could do with a few more people to help take on those monsters. With what we’ve seen, I don’t fancy our chances defending the whole group with just David, you, and I.”

Turning back to the duo, Henry continued to speak. ”Okay, you two can join the group. Just,.. please don’t start waving your guns in everyone’s faces anymore. Everyone’s already on edge.”

A noise sounded from the stairwell, a heavy creak of an individual descending. The group turned to look, a clear weariness but preparedness evident. However, it was only Tsubaki quickly descending the stairs. She had donned a worn, long shirt, adorned with some archaic academy logo, which rested but a few lengths above her knees. She had shed her earlier work attire, and had clearly taken some effort to make herself more presentable. If this had been any other day, Xander might have even called her cute.

”Hey there sugar, why don’t you come sit here by me?”, Atvulf hooted, as his cousin, Mikey, chuckled along. Tsubaki’s eyes widened, clearly frightened, and she quickly scurried back up the stairs in much the same speed as her arrival.

”Shoot, er…” Henry looked at Xander again, worry written clearly upon his face. ”I’ll… I’ll go calm her down. Might as well tell the others of our new members to.”. Soon, he to disappeared up the stairs, his feet heavy upon the wooden floor until even that sound to faded into oblivion.

”Aww, shoot, we didn’ mean it like that, now did we Mikey?”, Advulf spoke, the comedic flare embedded in his tone. ”No, nope, we didn’ nah mean it like that, certainly note”, Mikey replied in an equally wry manner. The pair chuckled together heartily, before removing themselves from their seats and evacuating to the kitchen alongside.

Xander walked outside quietly. Given the nights commotion, he resolved to give the farmland a once over, to forestall any new unwanted intrusions. The night’s brisk air entered lightly into Xander’s nostrils, invigorating him much like the kick of a hearty stimulant. To the gate, maybe a few moments, then back. Nothing more, nothing less. The crunch of the gravel was melodious, a pleasant deviation from the new norm of the ancient, rickety house. As he looked back towards the abode, he could barely make out two figures atop the porch roof, sitting quietly, stilly, and could hear hushed whispers broken solely by a random chuckle. One last, deep, filling breath, and Xander began walking back towards the house. Tomorrow was another day, another adventure, more time for unfortunate events, and pounding in his head was not going to get any better with him standing outside.
28
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 11:58:44 am »
As he heard the man he quickly dropped the wood that he was trying to pick up and raised his hands. "I don't mean any harm!" He then started to slowly turn around thinking to himself that maybe he could manage to hit the man hard, but he wasn't too sure in his hand to hand combat skills. He also thought that maybe Henry or David should have come with him, so that maybe this wouldn't have happened.
29
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 11:58:14 am »
David sighed wearily, exasperation alight upon his breath. ”Sh*t, I ain’t no copper. You do your thing dude, Imma stay here up on the 50 Cal, where’s frackin safe…”.

Henry adjusted his belt, his shiny black service weapon flashing in the fading light. ”Come on Xander, let’s go help her. Light is wasting!”, he said cheerfully. Grabbing the handle of the armored van, he jumped out to the broken paved road below, a resounding thud audible enough to lightly vibrate the van. Xander followed suit, boots slipping ever so slightly atop the gravel that coated the dusty black road. Both continued ahead, ever weary of their surroundings, boots crunching over loose debris as they made their way towards the figure. Behind them, Xander could sense David moving about, possible anxious about the threat of immanent attack.

As they drew closer, the figure grew more defined, shadows repelled only by their sharpening eyes, highlighting her deep Asiatic features. Her dark, silky hair, stained by dust and decay, draped over her figure like a rotten mop-head atop a figure-glass pedestal. Her clothes spoke to her menial work, a frilly white apron atop a light pink frock, ripped, shredded, stained with blood but not her own, caked in grime and shoot. A chipped white nametag, clearly inked in neat black letters was pinned upon her lapel. “Hello! My names is Tsubaki”, they read, obscured only by a solitary line of dried blood that ran from her shoulder down her chest.  Her face and hands were soft, perhaps silky smooth if one were to spend the time to wash away the filth, but beneath the thick layer of dirt, her eyes shone brightly, glassy, but alive.

”Er… miss…?”, Henry began to speak, his voice warry but full of the light hearted compassion he exuded, far too trusting he was. ”My name is Henry, Henry Johnson, this here is Xander. We’re both officers of the law, in a sense I suppose. You,.. er, need any assistance?”

”Channel… 1… 3… unknown units spotted…. over… Arcaida… Kyoko… Saruleah Bay… New Daschan… São Paulo…”

”Er… what miss?”

”All flights are… are routed to return to airports. If return is impossible… evasive action and head to nearest available airport…”

”Miss,.. er.. can you tell me what happened here?”

The youthful, battered woman turned to the pair, her eyes widening, striking invisible holes into them. ”THEY COME! THEY COME! THEY COME!”, she shouts, before collapsing to the pavement below, as heavily as a felled tree slamming into the rocky crag below a cliff. She lay there, motionless.

Henry turned Xander, his face colored by a mix of confusion and sympathy, eyebrows raised but a hair, shoulders enthralled in the early stages of a shrug. ”Shoot man, what kind of stuff do you have to go through to make you like that? Shoot, I mean, I don’t mean to be rude, you jettisoned out of a starship in a warzone,.. but at least you’re not babbling… come on, I don’t want to stay out here any longer than we have to”

Gingerly, Henry picked up the now comatose woman, Tsubaki, bracing her against his chest as if she were an infant, and began to walk back towards the armored van. Opening the rear, he laid her down upon one of the rear benches.

”Your name’s Shawis, right? Make sure she’s alright, just call us back if there’s a problem,” Henry spoke to one of the passengers in the rear, who looked none too pleased with the added burden, and eyes her warily. Henry returned to the side of the van, stretched his arms towards the stars for a few moments, as if worshiping some unknown deity, before climbing once more into the driver side of the armored vehicle.

”I don’t want to be out here longer than we have to, and we’ve got maybe an hour of usable daylight left. Keep a lookout for any farmhouses that we can stay in at the fringe of the town.”


Outside the town, some half-hour away, the van slowed to a stop. Here, the path had devolved, no longer the smooth, but rugged paved terrain they had grown accustomed to along the road, no here, dirt was pervasive and king, deeply entrenched in the formally black tires of the van, coating anything exposed, from front grill to rear bumper. A short distance away, a rickety old farmhouse, peeling paint and rough wood, a behemoth whose glory days were long since passed. Farm tools lay scattered, some rusting, others sleeker, haphazardly stored around the farm, a clear lack of organization. However, with the exception of a handful of field mice that played a mesmerizing game of tag in and out of the stalks of rich, yellow wheat, not a single being stirred. An ample hovel for the night.

”We’ll have to shack up here, I don’t think we’ll find a better spot by tonight. And I really don’t fancy being stuck out in the van with everyone,” Henry spoke to Xander. Re-engaging the vehicle, Henry turned right, into the farm.

Parking inside an abandoned barn, long since vacated by its last inhabitants except for the rare spider, the survivors shuffled groggily towards the dilapidated, Xander leading at the front, with Henry bringing up the rear. ”Xander,” Henry shouted, ”You go first. Make sure the house is clear for everyone!”

Xander obliged, leaping up several steps up to the porch. A wooden rocking chair, perhaps once painted a vibrant green, lay propped up against the side. A few wooden crates filled with nothing but the sweetest air stacked to the other side. The wide porch was relatively clear, an oddity given the uncleanliness of the farm in its totality.

First opening the outer screen door, Xander knocked gingerly, a light tap, then a heavier rap against the hardy front door. Thick, sturdy wood rough against Xander’s hand, the door was in dire need of a good sanding. Nothing. Xander tried once more. Still nothing. Carefully, Xander turned the brass knob, and entered the home, watching keenly for the slightest movement.

Xander stepped inside, the arcane floor boards creaking under his weight. Sh*t, too dark. Xander fumbled in his pants, shoot he had put it there earlier,… there. From his pants, he pulled the ancient, chipped flashlight that he had stashed there from the van’s glove box. A quick shake, a flip of a switch, and a shaft of bright, yellow-tinged light shot forth, barely illuminating the dusty hallway ahead of Xander. Still too dark to firmly define the muddled shapes, but enough to seek out the light switch.

A few more steps, a single flick. Click. The old house was suddenly thrust into a sea of murky yellow lighting from dim overhead lights, somewhat illuminating the ancient home. Xander looked around, observing the house for any peculiarities that might be lurking.

Where he stood, Xander could see a good portion of the rooms of the first floor, should he turn his head. To his left, a living room, furnished with rough, plush, antique chairs and a sofa, surrounding a long, scratched, oak wood table and a red brick fireplace filled with long dead cold charcoal, protected by an iron grate, the wooden floor beneath plastered with dirty brown rugs, in need of a good thorough wash. To his right, a sketchy kitchen, appliances as old as the house, and as worn to, countertops decked in once egg-white linoleum, chipped from years of use, rough, wooden cupboards with unknown goods and mystery filling available space along the walls. In front of him, brown, wooden stairs, perhaps leading up to the second floor, ending in void, undefinable by Xander’s eyes. Everywhere, a light layer of dust and grime coated each surface, barely so as if someone had seasoned the entire house in fine dirt, shook loose from the ceiling rather recently.

Henry poked his head into the house tentatively. ”You alright? Don’t see anything out of the ordinary? Good.” Henry disappeared outside once more. ”It’s okay, everyone let’s get inside,” Henry’s parched, muffled voice could be heard even through the thick oak door. A brief second past, then the weary civilians stumbled in, a rag-tag assortment from all walks of life. For the first time, Xander could see them all clearly in the broken yellow-ish light, their grime encrusted clothes from suits to casual atire, some with dried, ****, crimson blood, others with dark, painful bruises as if their bodies had been tattooed by an inexperienced artist consumed by Lou Gehrig’s disease, just under a dozen, each individual more fatigued and more battered than the preceding.

Tsubaki came in second to last, a new, white cotton shawl draped over her like a obscuring hood-good, she was walking-, her eyes warily avoiding Xander as he watched her move into the home quietly.  Henry followed shortly after, closing the thick, wooden door behind him with a solid, resounding thud. He turned to the ragged survivors as they huddled in the atrium nervously.

”Alright everyone, this place looks sufficient for the night. Xander checked it out-right Xander?-and he didn’t find anything out of the ordinary. I don’t know how much food there is in the kitchen, but there’s probably clothes for everyone to change into upstairs. Try and group up in groups of 2-3, and pick a bedroom for the night. If there’s any water still running through the plumbing, try and take a shower and find any buckets to fill with water. We don’t know how long we will have to wait until another shower, or when the plumbing is going to go out.”

Henry turned abruptly to Xander as the others dispersed in a rather unorganized fashion, some heading upstairs to the promise of a sweltering, relaxing shower, others foraging like timid rodents for food in the various wooden cupboards of the antique kitchen. Henry was exhausted, his eyes deeply sunken, above thick, swollen bags. He wavered slightly, a light tremble barely visible through his limbs, a consequence of his inopportune escape and subsequent rush of life-giving adrenaline. He began to speak.

”Um… sorry, I don’t want to hedge our bets on there being a functional heater in this house, and with fall coming around, it’s going to get cold fast. We need to build up a fire as soon as possible, but there’s no wood to burn in here… I think there was some wood propped up outside the barn. Since you have the only flashlight,… you know… could you?”

Xander obliged, was only a short walk outside to the barn and he was probably the most fit member standing, even as pained and tired he felt, bones roaring, akin to the flames of the depths of the deepest pit. He trudged relatively silently forward, boots crunching on the thick dirt and gravel, guided by his single beam of yellow light bursting from his flashlight, the night obscuring everything ahead, and his rear solely illuminated by the dim fluorescent lights of the house behind him.

The red, wood barn rose like a ferocious, lunging bear out of a deep cave as Xander neared.  The wooden, front barn doors lay open a hair, so that Xander could scarcely see the van parked neatly inside, but that was not his prize tonight. Around the side, Henry had said. Xander walked right, feeling the rough barn ahead to guide him. There, a thick stack some ten logs high and thirty logs wide, illuminated by his emanating light. Should only need one or two for the night to keep everyone warm. Xander bent down, back creaking under the stress of the day, feeling the rough bark of the wood as he attempted to gain purchase upon-

”You there, hands up! Turn around slowly! No sudden f*ckin movements!,” a man’s thick, deep voice ringing through the quiet night.

Choice 2 (Strength Mild)
A: Oh, this is trouble. Try and bash whoever that is with your flashlight like a club.

B: Comply, nothing good can come from startling someone who sounds ready to hurt you.
30
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by Drodinger on March 15, 2018, 11:57:46 am »
After thinking for a few moments Xander looked up at Henry "We need to help whoever that is. If we leave now, someone may die. Even if it is a trap, we will know that next time. Just remember David, if we can save them, they can help us save others or ourselves. It's our duty as officers." He looked around at both of them hoping they wouldn't break out into arguing again, or David just leaves them. He also thought about the fact that they may not get out alive.
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