January 7, 2019 at 4:31 pm #13638
“Weren’t we all in Greece at one time or the other? I had some fun with the cult of Lycantes… Anyway, that still leaves the question if we want to subsist on multiplied rations or raid a supermarket and get a civilian car to bring us faster to our target.
I’m open to either option, although I would favor driving while gorging on some fast food.”
I replied after regaining my composure.January 7, 2019 at 5:34 pm #13639
“Hell yes ta both o’ that,” Al offered. “Y’all got some tricks up yer sleeves, can’t deny it,” he said, looking with a nod of recognition at Alessandra. “But while expedience has indeed led ol’ Al ta bend the rules on Satanism from time ta time, reckon I’d prefer ta draw the line at my daily bread. So food, that’s easy – take by night or pay by day. Car – same choices, but gon’ take some o’ yer matrix magic ta make us legal. Do that, an’ we save half our walk, or the whole thing if you can figure away ta git wheels past the military cordon around the Refuge.”January 8, 2019 at 1:10 pm #13674
I looked around to Illario and Allessandra but got only shrugs. “Well then, according to the old motto: “Qui tacet, consentire videtur” I take the absense of any counter-arguments to mean we’ll do this. According to the maps, we aren’t far from Grey Bear Lodge. Large parking lot and some small shops, but likely not many tourists. We can make it there by night fall.”January 8, 2019 at 4:50 pm #13690
Sian nods. “Sounds good to me. I have funds to share if anyone is in need. Oh, Al, I have a special something for you. Hang on a minute.”
She unzips the top of her pack and reaches inside, pulling out a cold can and holding it out to Al. “I was told by a friend that you might want this. I only have room for one six pack, but I will give them to you as you want. Perhaps we can restock at this lodge we are going to.”
270January 8, 2019 at 6:02 pm #13703
Al accepted the beer gratefully.
He was touched. All the way down in some South American jungle, she was reaching out to him. It was just the sort of thing that often rankled, but this time it stirred something in his heart. Something comfortingly warm and yet equally tragic.
“Much obliged, Vampira baby. But y’all ain’t gotta shlep that around up an’ down an’ aroud these mountains. Reckon ol’ Al can take the whole lot off yer hands.”
He turned to Shrike.
“So if we’s gittin’ there by nightfall, we may be able ta pay an’ not take. Leastways fer the provisions an’ gear….that place don’t look like they got much inna way o’ used car lots….an’ if’n we’s boostin’ a ride anyhoo, may be best to simply help ourselves after lights out, rather’n be seen at all….”
It was an interesting question, and Al doubted they’d make a final decision until they saw the place. In any case, they had a good half day’s hike to debate their best course of action.January 8, 2019 at 11:14 pm #13719
Ilario nodded in agreement to the suggestion of heading to town. ”A visit to town sounds like a splendid idea! And besides, I could use a good, hot meal. Field rations are just so…unsatisfying.”
Haydee smirked and gave a snort. ”Of course it would be the food that you’d complain about. It’s not like they can carry a five-star restaurant in their back pocket to satisfy your needs.”
The man gave a helpless shrug, taking the comment as the playful barb he knew it was and decided to go along with it, turning his performance up to “over-acting.” ”I’m not exactly expecting aspic-preserved duck a l’orange, here, Haydee. But I don’t see any reason why chicken Marengo couldn’t be supplied. The thing was developed as a field ration for pity’s sake!” He wailed in feigned desperation, even including the back-of-the-hand-to-the-forehead swoon.
#31-15January 9, 2019 at 3:23 am #13725
Al’s eyebrows shot up and his cigarette fell out of his mouth (he caught it without looking in the hand not holding his freshly opened beer).
Here he had thought this Ilario was simply a demon-molesting fop, but now he saw so much more. He knew nothing of the curious viands the elf described, but he did know emotional submersion, nuanced expression, and honesty in performance – the finest instruments in the toolbox of what he now saw was their shared trade. He rushed up to shake his coworker’s hand.
“Sheee-it, kemo sabe,” he rasped through yellow teeth, tobacco breath washing over the Immortal. “All these years doin’ this, an’ I ain’t never met a Brother of the Boards. Shazam, amigo, but that were one hell of a show. It is a real honor ta meet a fellow Thespian.”
Was that a tear in the corner of his eye?January 9, 2019 at 3:33 pm #13739
“Paying, bribing, stealing, robbing, whatever will be most convenient and least likely to hinder our mission.”
I thought a moment about Illario’s comment on food:
“It’s probably for the best that I don’t share my rations then with you. I assume Puck found it funny to have mine be packed with those made from fishoil, soypulp and old cardboard.”January 10, 2019 at 7:29 am #13778
The rest of the day was arduous, but hardly beyond the capacity of any of their elite number, though the time did not pass without a few wheezes and coughs from Al’s disease- and tobacco-ravaged lungs.
And though the terrain was harsh, it was also beautiful. To the north of the high ridges they traversed, Hebgen Lake sat still as glass, a vast expanse of mirrored cloudwork surrounded by tall stands of old-growth fir.
At last they stood on a bluff overlooking Gray Bear Lodge. They had made good time, with the day’s light receding just enough that lights were starting to come on in the tiny community below.January 10, 2019 at 4:44 pm #13808
“Ok, so who among you can do a good glamor to accompany Al to the store? He looks the most like someone native to this region. The others can accompany me to the parking lot and we can have a look which car to boost.”
I said while watching the Lodge below. There were people around the old hotel, but not many.January 10, 2019 at 7:58 pm #13833
Following Shrike’s gaze, Alessandra considered for a moment. While she didn’t look like some eldritch abomination, her figure and her hair would be easily remembered, and her mode of speaking would mark her as an outsider, by her accent if not her elocution. After several seconds, she spoke up. “I can make a reasonable illusion.” She offered. “However, if someone else is also skilled, I might be of more use stealing a car, as in a backwater like this, it might require knowledge of older automobiles.” She looked at Haydee appraisingly. “Haydee, darling, do you have the usual facility with sorcery that most spirits possess?”January 11, 2019 at 3:12 pm #13871
I lifted an eyebrow and listened carefully for the answer. A spirit with sorcery reduced the type two only a handful of options in regard to its type.January 11, 2019 at 4:03 pm #13872
Ilario blinked in surprise at the sudden attention from Al as his hand was vigorously shaken, but quickly recovered with a beaming grin. ”Ah! Why thank you, my good man! I was lucky enough to receive some of my training from The Bard himself!”
When the topic of who should go into the town proper came up, the elf frowned in thought. His eyes then traveled up to Haydee, as well, his expression and movement eerily mirroring that of Alessandra. The woman, however, was quicker on the draw to speak than he, and he allowed his young charge to speak for herself.
Haydee, on the other hand, stiffened when Alessandra called her out for what she was, giving her a half-hearted glaring pout before giving a haughty huff and averting her eyes. ”I suppose I could alter myself to fit in better, yes.”
The pouty expression lasted for a moment longer, then vanished as a thought came to her, and a truly wicked smile tugged at her plump lips, blue eyes sliding over to Ilario before she minced her way over to Al. ”Guess it’s you and me, honey!” She piped gleefully, popping up onto the point of her toes in order to lean against Al’s back and throw her arms around his shoulders, that wicked smile directed at Ilario all the while.
The elf narrowed his eyes at the girl, his expression momentarily showing a darkness that had yet to be seen by most of the party. It was gone in a flash, however, as he returned to his usual joviality, albeit with a slight edge to it. ”Well! I wish the both of you the best of luck! I shall most likely be in one of the pubs, should you need me.”
#32-16January 11, 2019 at 6:11 pm #13882
“Not dressed like that, I hope,” Al said. “Ya may be a great actor, but the whole point o’ this discussion is how not ta be memorable. If’n you’ll recall from this mornin’, we’s fugitives. Rapiers an’ so forth tend ta raise eyebrows in these parts. Bad enough we’s a bunch o’ damned palefaces.”
He directed his attention to the living doll hanging on him. As it happened, Al was possibly the most enlightened, progressive, and open-minded person on earth, and he often congratulated himself for it. But his tastes drew a line at demons, even nigh irresistably charming creatures such as this one. “Same goes fer you, sweetness. But I’m reckonin’ that there maid-lookin’ thing ain’t the only git-up in yer boudoir. What say ya change into somethin’ a mite more woodsy, an’ then if’n you can dial them features an’ that form down from eleven ta say five an’ a half or so, we might jist pass as locals up from a few towns south.”January 14, 2019 at 2:22 pm #13931
“Alright, Al, since you’ll be the quarter master: Beside beer: Buy enough beef jerky, Twinkys, self-heating soyritos and one of those massive blocks of chocolat. I get easily cranky when I’m hungry.”
I nodded to Alessandra and led us down the slope – mostly screened by greenery towards the parking lot. The selection wasn’t huge, so the first thing I did was take a look into the matrix which vehicle had wireless enabled. Of those only the Percheron and the Hotspur would fit us all. I silently cursed as I scanned the Icons.
“So, we have two choises: We can take that wireless off Tata Hotspur, which would make it necessary to sneak up on and risk being seen since it’s wireless off, or the Ford Percheron which happens to have a really strong pilot system, possibly able to raise the alarm if I don’t hack it on my first try.”January 15, 2019 at 5:29 pm #13953
Sian nods. ”Without my specialty armor, I could pass as a normal human, so I could accompany Al into the town if someone else could carry my armor.”
271January 18, 2019 at 2:14 pm #14066
“Well alrighty then. Decide amongst yerselves. None, some, or all, ya git yerself lookin’ normal, yer welcome ta follow ol’ Al ta wrangle some victuals.” Picking his way down the steep incline, Al silently congratulated himself on the inclusiveness of his invitation. It was all the same to him – while he much preferred the beautiful but batty vampire he trusted to the cheeky and anime-hot demon he knew nothing about, they were both easy enough on the eyes to make his thoughts wander a bit from the straight and narrow.
Hell, maybe they’d both come.
Arrival at the edge of the small community coincided with the falling of darkness. There wasn’t much in the way of a residential area, just a handful of small homes and trailers likely housing a few service staff. There was the lodge though. More of a hotel/casino, really. It had its own drinking establishment, and there was another watering hole of a decidedly more derelict character across the street. A general store had charging stations and gasoline/diesel pumps in a greasy forecourt. An attempt at a main street extended from there for maybe half a block, basically a few simple eateries, but most of the establishments were dark if not boarded up.
The place was far from a ghost town, however. Clearly a nightlife hub for denizens of the surrounding area, there was a steady trickle of cars starting to accumulate – possibly more choices for Shrike (Al regretted not being on the carjack detail, but by turns was happy to be able to confirm the beer supply). People were walking around, choosing their place to dine and drink, though it was early enough that no one was visibly intoxicated. The usual meta mix, mostly Amerind, a few whites. And a couple of heavily armed ork cops leaning on a big white four-wheeler.
Al made for the store.January 20, 2019 at 1:26 pm #14445
No one having jumped up to volunteer to carry her armor, Sian watches Al and Hardee walk off towards the town. Turning to Shrike, she shrugs her shoulders. ”I guess you are stuck with me on taking the vehicle. What do you want me to do?”
272January 20, 2019 at 4:25 pm #14447
“Keep an eye open for trouble, while I go over and convince the car to let me in…”
I stopped as a bunch of other cars came to the lot to park. Normally, the extended selection would have been welcome, but it meant, I had to delay the carjacking part until all of those people had left their cars – or I had to risk being spotted in my armor and cape combo, which was great for a dangerous mission against Horrors but far from inconspicous.
An agonizing eight minutes ticked past until finally the last of the new comers had left their vehicle and gone far enough from the parking lot that I thought it realistic to leave the cover without being spotted.January 21, 2019 at 5:35 pm #15069
How many times had Al been here before? Sure he’d experienced what had to be the most upside-down nonsense this crazy new line of work had to offer, only to be shown, yet again, that there was something still more aberrant in store….
And here he was, crossing the street of a peaceful little mountain town, a demon his companion.
The number of ways this was wrong was inexpressible by mortal mathematics.
He paused outside the store, and a big stainless steel Zippo appeared in his hand. He used it to light the Lucky Strike that had somehow found its way between his lips. Inhaling deeply to calm the frantic sense of incorrectness about his current situation, he gave his partner for this little mission a careful once over, toes to temples. He kept his voice its usual even rasp. “So what’s the deal with you? Pretty thing such as yerself git made? Or summoned? No judgement, mind. Reckon I jist like ta know what’s got my back,” he lied.
But he was grinning by the time he’d half finished his question. Despite his knowledge that she was a Servant of Satan, she was pretty hard not to like.
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