No Fate But What We Make

Tech Infantry - Season 10

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Lorpius Prime
Administrator
Posts: 184

A man meets some interesting characters working night shifts on Wilke's Star.  Any mortal that values his blood knows to keep his head down and step quickly on that dim, foggy world even in daylight.  But when the horizon comes around to swallow up the little silver speck of a sun, that's when things get interesting.  That's when the crazies and the creepy crawlies go out wandering the streets looking for good times and wholesome helping chaos.  A nightly pageant of flesh put on by creatures who know that in the darkness there are no rules but the ones they make themselves.


Take the Ghoul standing in front of Archie Silvester Molloy right now.  Most Leeches like their retainers young and pretty or else bulky and intimidating.  Here on Wilke's, where the Vamps had their pick of most any mortal they pleased, each Ghoul was as much a statement about its master's fashion and status as it was a practical tool.


The Ghoul flapping its lips at Archie was fat.  Great greasy folds poured down from his torso.  If you stuck a burning wick atop his bald scalp he'd look like a runny candle.  He was so fat it would be easier to turn him on his side and roll him down the street than to fit him into a car.  He had no shirt, no taste in tattoos and piercings, and--unfortunately for him--no knowledge of the Rules.


"Turn around and plod along to somewhere else, doughboy," Archie told the Ghoul.  Archie was a head taller than other man, but probably massed less than a quarter as much.


"You wanna say that to my face, meat?" the Ghoul shot back, spraying a fine mist of saliva at Archie's neck.


"I am saying it to your face.  Get lost.  Now."  Archie wrinkled his nose for the third time at the man's stench.


"Step back and let me in, or I'm gonna extract your bones so I can give 'em out to whores for toys."


Archie sighed.  "Listen, blubber boy, do you really think someone would pay me to do this job if I got scared by the threats of every freak passing by?"


"You don't have a clue what kind of power you're messing with," the Ghoul snarled.  "Now you let me in or--"


"No.  Find another shore to beach that carcass."


The Ghoul's face darkened with rage.  "Fine.  Enjoy your future as a fuckstick."


His eyes started to change color, and he opened his mouth to let a long tongue roll out and snake towards Archie's throat.


Archie sped up the time around himself to a comfortably faster rate.  Then he walked easily around the Ghoul, pulled a heavy collapsible baton out of his jacket, extended it, and proceeded to smash in the back of the fat man's skull.  He took seven or so solid whacks before the Ghoul's head looked like a bloody sponge.  Archie released his spell and shuddered as he felt a twinge of Paradox working its way down his limbs.  The Ghoul slumped and fell to one side, splashing brains across the sidewalk and allowing Archie to discover that he had not been wearing pants, either.


Archie kicked the corpse a few times, rolling it off the sidewalk and into the street.  After wiping the flecks of blood off his right hand, he stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled.


A wispy Leech walking an enormous, red-eyed dog glanced over from down the road.  She cocked her head for a moment, then led the beast towards the dead Ghoul.  Archie nodded respectfully to the Vampire as her dog sniffed and then began tearing into its greasy newfound meal.  The Vampire didn't acknowledge Archie's gesture, but it was good policy to show respect to any passing Leech, as long as they weren't shovelhead punks trying to give you a hard time.  And this one was doing Archie a tremendous courtesy by helping to clean up a mess.


Archie walked back to stand in front of the door to his club, and tried not to listen too closely to the dog crunching bones in front of him.


He waited and kept his eyes peeled for the next problem customer.  There was sure to be more, the night was just getting started.

July 3, 2012 at 2:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Xinjao
Moderator
Posts: 164

I like it!  Of course, I tend to like any variation of the "antedeluvian to lawn chair" Vamps vs. Mages joke.


Is this a possible new character of yours for season 10?  Or just a quick vignette for fun?

--

=^_^=

July 3, 2012 at 9:15 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Lorpius Prime
Administrator
Posts: 184

Not an idea for a game character.  Just thought of a few scenes on Wilke's Star that looked cool in my head, and managed to turn this one into a story.  Might reuse Archie to relate the other ones at some point later.


Glad you liked it. :)

July 4, 2012 at 3:39 AM Flag Quote & Reply

MJ, the Original Gangsta
Site Owner
Posts: 143

Awesome job, Lorpy! I like the taste you throw onto Wilke's Star.

July 4, 2012 at 4:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Lorpius Prime
Administrator
Posts: 184

There were three kinds of humans on Wilke's Star. The classes were only semi-official, consistency and the rule of law being low priorities even to the most bureaucratic-minded enforcers of House Mallorea. The informality did not make them any less real, however, and forgetting your place was a good way to get yourself dead in a hurry.

 

At the top of the ladder were humans with vampire sponsors. Most were servants with critical skills or abilities and their families, ghouls in all but blood. A very few answered not to an individual sponsor, but to the House itself, usually individuals whose talents were so valuable that no Leech was willing to allow them to be the property of a rival. Such people were often viewed by the public as a lucky elite. In truth, they existed in an unenviably dangerous state of political limbo which few managed to survive for more than a few years.

 

Below the sponsored upper class were the found the free majority of Wilke's human population. Freebloods. The meat. Invaluable as a collective for their labor, consumer market, and their blood; but hopelessly insignificant and powerless as individuals. Most sought safety in close-knit communities. They kept their heads down during the day, barred their doors at night, and mistrusted anyone they didn't know personally. Alas, this strategy provided more psychological comfort than genuine protection. Vampires hunted freely among the freebloods' neighborhoods at night, sometimes wiping out entire blocks and cultural groups at a time. The meat lived in constant terror, too cowed or powerless to defend themselves. And as long as the Leeches kept control of their own numbers, there would always be plenty of fresh meat to go around.

 

Everything else got lumped together at the bottom of the pile as tertiaries. Delinquents and subversives cast out from the freeblood communities to fend for themselves. Fighters in open rebellion against the Mallorean lords. Slaves kept as amusement or simple cattle by some of the more ostentatious and sadistic vampires. Oppression of the freebloods was a matter of sport and convenience for the Leeches. Oppression of the tertiaries was an active policy, though still one pursued with all the relish of a predator offered limitless prey.

 

Technically, Archie Silvester Molloy was a freeblood. He lived and worked as he pleased, answering to no particular master. As a practical matter, however, Leeches who knew him gave him the sort of respect usually reserved for a sponsored human (which was very little, but any respect at all for a mere human was a tremendous gesture coming from a vampire). This was because Archie was at that sweet spot of being just dangerous enough to be useful to certain Leeches at certain times, but not so dangerous or so willful as to attract the attention of any elder fiend that could kill him with a glance.

 

That was his reputation, anyway. Archie had little interest in altering it.

 

Archie's high-wheeled buggy bounced and rocked over the rough road leading from the city outskirts to his cabin. Black ground rose and fell all around him in broad, subtle rolls that never quite rose to the level of being proper hills. Archie's plantation covered almost a hundred square kilometers. The black moss was the only worthwhile crop on Wilke's Star. Some megacorp out of Van Diemen had engineered it on contract to House Mallorea once the Emperor started to squeeze the trade routes and the starships which fed Wilke's Star became ever more scarce. More nanotech than natural organism, the stuff was madly efficient at extracting materials from the thin soil and gravel of Wilke's surface. It could grow in starlight alone, and manufactured every vital nutrient a human needed grow and thrive as blood factories. The feed corporations scraped the stuff up with bulldozers and blended it into a ubiquitous paste which formed the base of nearly every freeblood's meals.

 

Archie's plantation hadn't been scraped in some time. The moss only grew to a certain thickness, a fluffy five centimeters or so, after which it just oozed fluids and recycled itself, awaiting final harvest. Archie didn't keep the place for the money, though. He had no notion to be a farmer, but merely valued his privacy and isolation.

 

So he was annoyed when he rolled up in his buggy to find two young terts leaning against the fungicrete walls of his cabin. They were taking turns firing flimsy gauss rifles at clumps of moss they had plucked and rolled into little targets.

 

"Morning, old man!" they hollered towards Archie. They took a few more shots to disintegrate the last of their targets, then propped the peashooters up against the wall before shuffling over to the buggy.

 

"Scram!" Archie snapped at them.

 

"No way, old man," the kids laughed him off. "We're here for the power cells."

 

Archie, who was barely past forty, demonstrated his favorite single-handed gesture. "You picked a bad day. Beat it. Come back never."

 

"Like hell!" one of the terts returned his gesture. "Dad says we gotta have them tonight. Just hand them over."

 

"Think I care what any of you punks want?" Archie took his little plasma revolver out of the holster in his waistband and waved it around a little. "Get the hell off my farm and tell him later."

 

"Can't do it!" the same tert chuckled. "Give us the power cells and then we'll leave."

 

"Are you blind or just stupid?" Archie pointed the gun right at the kid's forehead. "Do you really want to screw with me when I've got this?"

 

"You couldn't hit your own house from two meters, old man!"

 

Archie frowned, lowered his aim, and fired. The plasma bolt hit just in front of the tert's right foot, close enough to singe his toes. The punk hissed and started hopping on one leg.

 

"Funny," the other one said in an unconcerned drawl. "Come on, just give us the goods and we'll stop bothering you, M. Molloy."

 

Archie muttered a spew of curses, but reholstered the plasma revolver and trudged up to his front porch. The heavy steel and fungicrete door took a moment to unlock, then slid away.

 

"Stay here," he ordered the terts in as commanding a tone as he could muster.

 

The smell of home greeted him as he descended the steps into his front hall. He took a moment to check his memory, then turned and walked into his parlor.

 

A few dozen power cells for plasma revolvers and a couple of heavier weapons were scattered among some empty food packets and crushed plastic beer cans. They were all fully charged, however; Archie had spent a couple days last week seeing to that. He found a gray fabric sack stuffed halfway between the cushions of a sofa, and shoveled all of the power cells into it.

 

He walked the sack back up to his door and shoved it towards the two terts, who were whistling and trying to peer deeper into the cabin.

 

They grabbed it eagerly.

 

"Thanks," one of them said, and offered a sloppy salute in the style of no military Archie knew about.

 

"You should hire a maid or something, old man," the other said with a wrinkled nose, "your place smells awful!"

 

Archie shoved that one by the shoulder so that he fell off the porch and onto his ass.

 

"Happy to help. Now do me a favor and go get yourselves killed!"

 

The one with the bag shuffled off with a grin. His companion stood to brush off his pants, and said, "Not us, old man! It's the Leeches who'll be frying tomorrow! See you!"

 

They both took off around the corner to recover their rifles, and presumably to run back from whence they'd come.

 

Archie slammed the door after them. Actually, he slammed his fist against the door control, and the door slid shut with its usual heavy groan. The sentiment was the same, though.

 

Dimness, silence, and the musty air enveloped him. Archie just stood there for a few moments, appreciating the atmosphere.

 

"Honey, I'm home!" he growled after a while.

 

He might have gotten a distant grunt as an answer, or he might have just imagined it. Either way, Archie shrugged and started plodding down the hall.

 

"I think I'm going to take the next few nights off from the club," he called, taking off his coat and throwing it in the vague direction of a chair as he passed the dining room. "Those punk rebel kids came back for their power cells, probably going to try to cause some trouble tomorrow."

 

Archie opened the bedroom door. Liselle was inside, as she always was. She twitched a little at his presence, but otherwise gave no indication that she'd even noticed him.

 

Archie smiled and shook his head. "They flat out told me that's what they were going to do, actually," he said. "I should just comm the hunters and report the idiots. Not like they're actually helping anyone."

 

He stepped over a couple of broken flowerpots to enter the bedroom. "How've you been doing?"

 

Liselle groaned softly. Archie walked over and checked her IV. It was getting low, but she was good for another few hours, at least. Archie stood up on his toes to stretch his limbs and back, listening to the popping of tired bones.

 

"Listen," he yawned, "I think I'm going to take a nap for a little while, make dinner later. It's been one of those nights."

 

The bed was shoved up into one corner of the bedroom. Archie sluffed off his shoes, then plopped down without changing out of his work attire. He curled up at the edge of the mattress, next to Liselle.

 

"Wake me up if you need anything", he whispered, and gently stroked her face.

 

All around the bedroom walls and ceiling, Liselle's smooth, stretched skin shivered at his touch. Her lips wobbled in a melancholy moan barely audible without lungs to power it. A single eye rolled listlessly around before settling back on Archie's peaceful smile.

 

Satisfied, Archie closed his own eyes and went to sleep.

July 8, 2012 at 4:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Xinjao
Moderator
Posts: 164

...and so begins the most bizzare and disturbing romance in the history of TI.

--

=^_^=

July 9, 2012 at 1:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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