Appreciate the feedback (and the fact other people actually read this.) Right now editing is at a minimum, but if/when I pass the 50k word mark I'll slow down, go back, and start doing cleanup. Important thing is to actually get words down and this year's NaNo is complicated by the fact I'm moving this month. So why do it at all? Could say it's an addiction I guess.
Edited to fix a few rather glaring problems near the middle.
Nobody looked at me when I walked in. Even the bartender chose to look past me rather than directly at me. Given I was snatched up in the middle of the night by guards that had a habit of making men disappear I couldn’t really blame them. Instead I made sure my crossbow was pointed away from anything or anyone that would get hurt if it accidentally fired and rapped my fist on the bar.
“My name is Call.” The Bartender grunted but still wouldn’t look at me. “Where is Harris? Red tunic, face that looks like a weasle and a snake were his parents. Balding. know where-” The bartender pointed up the stairs then jerked jerked his thumb towards the wall. Taking this to mean the first door up the stairs I left my crossbow on the bar.
Sure enough when I pushed the door opened Harris was sitting there shuffling papers and apparently had just poured himself a drink.
“Get lost kid you’re botherin’ me.” Harris didn’t even bother looking up from what he was reading to wave me away. It was fortunate I’d left the crossbow at the bar because I wanted him to talk.
This... offhanded dismissal caused me to grab the scruff of his tunic and spin him around to face me. He would acknowledge me and answer. His wide eyed terrified expression was interesting. “Hey I know kinda looks like a setup. I’d never do that to such a brutal killer like yourself. Huh, all this fuss over a cup, weird.” I hadn’t even started explaining why I was back before he started babbling.
He pulled free of his grasp. “Got the fancy cup?” I nodded even though I had no such thing or intended on getting his stupid chalice. He didn’t ask for details so I had to assume he was just working off a pre-made routine and he was hoping to force me back into it. “Now get ready gold and glory like I promised. Just come with me to meet the Governor.”
“I’ll keep the chalice. Thanks.” The look on his face almost made up for the fact he’d tried putting me through the wringer.
“No second chances.” Harris looked smug even as he tried making this little me-shaped problem go away. “Oh Gua-URK!” My dagger made sure he could never double-cross anyone ever again. A quick search of the body turned up a nice little bundle he’d kept just under the counter and a couple keys that might’ve been useful.
Since Harris was a man that needed to have secrets as a part of his job I thought maybe there would be a hidden compartment or something of the sort in his desk. Tried fiddling with it for awhile and then started using keys when I found locked compartments. Sure I’d expected papers, or maybe a holdout pistol and another bundle of money but when the desk pulled away from the wall and a trap door unlocked. Wow. He had his own little bolt-hole to hide in. Slick.
Huh. Suit of armor and a helmet. I tried it on and even though it felt just a little tight I could make it work. Well fine the sleeves were too short so off they went, but not every day you got a little added something. Between the new leather and the helm I should be far less recognizable. Time to get somewhere before Mister Harris ended up getting found.
“Hello?” Combine the sudden voice in my ear with the burst of noise that preceded it and I whirled in surprise, almost knocking some random drunk over. “Command, A comm unit has just been activated... Am receiving audio and visual from... somebody.” Girlvoice. Hadn’t heard a woman’s voice since I’d left the creech.
“Not sure who had this thing before me.” I continued to walk, deciding a slightly staggered ‘drunk’ hobble appropriate given I was apparently talking to myself. “But I picked it up off somebody selling people out to Tarnhil’s governor. Might wanna make sure you haven’t been giving the Order directions to your little hidey hole around here.”
My drunken stumbling took me to the nearest food vendor. I didn’t care if it was Rat, Roach, or whatever since it smelled good. Money changed hands while the girl in my head kept talking. “Since this comm unit is working you’re still fully human.”
Interesting thought there. Maybe this was something Harris was sitting on but couldn’t have actually used. “Maybe we can try to trust eachother.” OK don’t think of it as a girl talking. Just... think of it like a really odd sounding guy. Good better, less weird. Consider this a test; there’s a flamethrower in the Governor’s mansion. We need it. Get it and maybe we can work out something more permanent. Oh, and you can call me Blackbird.”
I looked around and frowned at the big guard covered complex on ‘our’ side of the stream. Lots of guards. Imposing building carved into a cliff face. That had to be where the Governor was camped. “What can you tell me about this guy?”
The voice at the other end sounded apologetic and more than a little frustrated. “All I know about Governor Mourel is he likes playing both sides against the middle.” Well that actually worked in my favor. Maybe I could even convince the guy to hand the hardware over nice and easy like.
“Show me your ID. Now.” A pair of guards got in my way as I was nosing around. Not sure what to do I took a slow step back and raised my hands slowly so they could see I wasn’t going for anything. Then, just as slowly, I reached into my trouser pockets and felt around before fishing out a rectangular thing. It had no image of who it was supposed to belong to and I wasn’t sure if it would work.
The guard snatched it from my hand and the red dots that were it’s eyes narrowed and i saw a line of red trace along first one side of the card then, after the guard turned it over, the other side before handing it back to me. “You are cleared for this area. Have a nice day.” Mechanical voice that held no warmth or cheer, or even the resigned boredom you might get at humans stuck with a boring job.
Once past the guards I straightened my back and started walking with purpose. The best way to blend in was to act like you belonged there. Hopefully they wouldn’t find Harris til after I was out of here, but I couldn’t worry about that just yet. There was the small matter of this widget. “You said you were getting a visual off this bucket.” I continued looking. Stone walls dressed here and there with wood trim, paint. It looked like someone had taken the cave me and about forty other brats grew up in and tried to make it fancy.
“I’m recording everything.” Blackbird’s voice was professional. “It isn’t that we don’t trust you it’s-” She hissed. “This looks interesting. Check it out.” I paused and grumbled, trying to figure out what ‘this’ meant. “The Door on your left.” I started to move and she suddenly sounded annoyed. “Your other left!”
Stairs, grey and rougher cut than the halls I’d been bluffing my way through. I frowned and looked around, turning this way and that half expecting guards or hidden sentry guns or... something. Nothing though. Nothing at all. Ahead I saw the hallway widen into a room and I didn’t like what the room held; blood covered tools of torture, items probably belonging to former guests tossed carelessly in the corners. Only after i managed to get my stomach to settle I saw what had to be Blackbird’s flamer.
When I went into the room to retrieve it I heard alarms sound and only then did I Look. Green security strip. Well. Nothing for it then. I ran into the room, scooped up the flamethrower and started running for the stairs. Sure there were guards up there, but dying trapped in a personal torture room was not how I planned on going out.
“You idiot!” Blackbird practically screamed in my ear while I ran, shoving my way past minor functionaries, guards, and finally I was out. Strange. No mad rush from other guards to follow me. I saw a few from the Governor’s complex stand at the gate staring at me. Hm this smelled-
“Watch out, Crusaders!” What wait what? My only other warning was the roar as rockets sailed past me. I’ve heard, for rockets, they were small; only about as big as your palm, but when dealing with something that exploded on contact I didn’t care how ‘comparatively small’ they were I didn’t want to get hit by the bloody things.
Shops closed up, so did the dispensary. Had to make a mad rush for the tavern. “Get away from the the big robots and I'll guide you to us.” Blackbird hissed what I felt was a pretty obvious course of action in my ear. Yes Yes I’m going to stand around and get rockets shot at my head by the big stompy machines. Would have told her that too but I was too busy focusing on Not Dying.
“Head over to the old town hall.” My guide’s voice was pannicked. I doubted she was thinking straight. Town Hall, that still smoking ruin? “When the Order bombed it we had tunnels dug so we could get in and out unseen.” In and out of where?
Ooooh. I ran to the tavern anyway. Up the stairs, smash a window with the flamethrower then I looked down. Oh light this was gonna hurt, but better hurt than dead. I jumped, knees bent, curled most of my body around the flamethrower so it wouldn’t break. Pain. Lots and lots of pain, but I could walk and it wasn’t quite the blinding agony I was expected.
Inside the ruins I was met by a stocky man with scars running down his face. He looked mean. He looked angry and before I knew what was happening he had me against the wall gut punching me. I screamed. My legs were already hurt, possibly fractured, and this man was beating me. “Stop! Please!”
Another blow to the gut. “Boy. I saw you walk out of the Order’s torture pit.” He flung me to the ground then stepped on one of my shins. “You ain’t walking out of here.”
“Stop! Blackbird told me,” I caught his foot and shoved him back. To his credit the man managed to stay upright. “She told me to come here you shadow blinded fool!”
“Blackbird huh?” He scowled at me and snorted dismissively. “Well lemme shut off the alarms.” A callouced hand helped me up after a time. “Macil is one flight down.” He even helped me down a passage and it was kinda fuzzy but I ended up in a bed with a red headed man sticking needles in me that took the pain away.
I smiled, blissed out of my mind on whatever was pumping in my system. “You have earned our gratitude.” Blackbird’s voice was distaint. “That Flamethrower had building plans, documents, and micro-recordings hidden in the burnt out power cell. You saved lives today my friend. When you're healed go through the door and talk to Macil.” If she had anything else to say I couldn’t hear it because the doc took the helmet off.
Last edited by scaled on Nov 4 2012 at 20:01