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A Quiet Place to Be

 
Submission type:

 

Pyrok sat atop his dusty green buggy, idly watching a throwback chase a prairie chicken around a boulder - the only entertainment in the stretch of canyon he was in - the pieces of a disassembled helmet in his lap and a toolbox at his side. A particularly angry hammer-wielding raider had taken exception to Pyrok digging around in 'their scrap-yahd' and put a respectable dent in the sturdy steel dome.

I really should get an upgrade or something, he mused as he heated the plate up in his hands before working it back into place.
Or just continue to improve on the design. Might need to swap out the cap eventually, can't have any more hits like that anymore, the material is starting to get thin. 
Behind the boulder, a loud squawk followed by a triumphant yell signalled the end of the mutated chicken's life. The throwback had finally realised it could go the other way to surprise the nimble fowl. 
Wonder if it knew that all along, or if it suddenly had a flash of insight.

 

Pyrok stayed out of the limelight for years in the canyon, walking away from home, friends and 'family', returning to his simple life as a scavenger. Gone long enough that the memories of the 'old days' were faded and hazy, no longer plucking some deep chord in his chest. Last Stop held no interest to him anymore, the idea of settling into a place rubbed him wrong. Setting down roots meant permanence, and there was also the encroaching shadow of superficial comforts.

As he put the radio module back into his helmet, the red circled A of the Children painted on the back of his hand flashed briefly.  He'd fought against them for years, sometimes with them. Sometimes just to make them go away from some Traveler business they didn't want prying eyes on. Sometimes too keep rowdier members of the Blood Horde away from Vista encampments. For years he only thought of them as brutal violent tribals who wanted nothing more than the rule of might is right and for the most part, the Blood Horde does seemingly want that. Only that was not the world Pyrok had found, the Horde was by far the most infamous and notable sub-faction of the Children, but there were others.

Namely, the Quiet Ones.

Pyrok had heard /of/ them, but never actually encountered any. They were not the type to broadcast themselves, preferring to almost avoid other people it seemed like. Pyrok started his search in Fracture and was met with something a hair's trigger away from hostility. The green-haired clone was known to the Children, as he'd started there years ago. Never thought I'd be back in Fracture again... They didn't take kindly to his desertion to the Techs, then the Vistas, then briefly the Enforcers, and everywhere else on the map before finally returning here. There was no revelation that the Children were right, or in some way superior to the rest that brought him back to the rundown fairgrounds. Just simply that none of the others fit, though even the Children were not a great fit. The Vistas fit, but not quite. Like a shoe that's just a bit too narrow, or a hat just a bit too small. Uncomfortable, but not intolerably so. So back he came, to plumb the depths of the Children of the Apocalypse. 

One more hat to try.

Since Fracture was usually the first stop for fresh-spawned clones looking for a cause to spend immortality on, the information they had at hand wasn't great at answering Pyrok's questions, and any other information had to be earned by gaining favour.  Someone with a hole like Pyrok's, dug by years of carving away at raiding Blood Horde and burning the occasional same-aligned clone dug his hole deep. He had some repayments to make if he wanted to get anywhere with his searching.

Easier said than done.

Ordinarily, it'd be a simple effort, kill two Enforcer recruits for every one of the Children he killed so long ago. But Pyrok wasn't a scavenger playing the soldier of fortune anymore. He'd returned to his old ways, and this time planned to stay there. So he set about making the few improvements to Fracture that he could, not a lot of tech to work with, advanced or otherwise. Fracture was definitely a spartan affair and seemingly dominated by the Horde as well if any of the restitution jobs he was offered were any indication. "Go here, kill all who are there" sort of quests were quickly - respectfully - denied.

I'm not gonna kill my way to their good graces this time, this needs to be nuanced. I'm not signing on for the Horde, after all.

 

Slowly, over the course of a few months of tireless work, he finally got just enough of their begrudging respect to get some direction on where the Quiet Ones were prone to calling home. There were some members of the group in Fracture but they weren't exactly talkative, fittingly. It wasn't an exact location, but it'd be a start.

Could just track down Ardenn and ask him, but I'm not looking to get embroiled in another person's mysteries, not this time.
Stick to the comparatively normal people... safer that way. Anyone else I can remember yelling the CHOTA warcry would be also a bad idea. Maybe.

In the present, Pyrok slowly reassembled the rest of his modified helmet. Checking the plugs that ran to his collar radio, slotting the filters in the faceplate and running a worried hand over the spot the dent just was. I should use a gun or something. That was too close. 
His nose immediately wrinkled at the thought of carrying more unnecessary equipment.
No, then we start worrying if we have enough bullets or forgetting to bring more bullets. Stick to the sword, though I do wish it was a mite more useful. Pyrok looked through the rough roof of his buggy to the sword stashed beside the bucket seat.

Bladed crowbar? 

With his pocked and nicked helmet firmly back on his head, he did a quick radio check by slowly scanning through channels as he went. Most of it was silence or static. He heard 'oompah' music on one channel, Seems Hope still has a dance commander. Scattered chatter on some of the public channels - some of it the usual nonsensical shorthand of the combat-heavy clones and the occasional snippet of some deep conversation about Pre-Fall cartoons - and the old Spider Hill radio frequency was silent. Probably off air, or defunct.

A warning roar drew Pyrok's attention to his immediate reality, the throwback had finished eating the chicken it caught and was now coming for clone dessert. He pursed his lips in contemplation at the eight-foot towering mass of muscle and not-much-brains charging at him and his buggy. 
I should do something about him.

 A snap of his fingers was all it took, more of a mental mnemonic to focus the flow of thermal energy around him. It'd taken years for him to get a better grip of his powers, progressing past the need for touch after unearthing stories of mutants not needing direct line of sight to excite or stall the molecular motion of objects. A six-foot long and three-foot wide patch of canyon sand rapidly started to lose its heat despite the mid-day sun. Steam rose from it as the natural order of things fought his unnatural manipulation. The throwback slowed, its mismatched pig-like eyes squinting in something akin to disbelief as the strange man calmly watched his breakneck charge. The ground began to get extremely cold, rapidly condensing into ice. 

The slope towards Pyrok wasn't particularly steep, but when you're eight feet tall and somewhere around three hundred pounds of
suddenly uncoordinated mutated muscle, traction becomes an unreachable status. The throwback threw his arms back, pinwheeling them in a 
feeble attempt to keep the balance that was suddenly lost before slowly, inexorably sliding back to the bottom of the hill.

Pyrok cheerily waved as the towering mutant roared in anger and confusion, its tirade cut off by abruptly falling when the ice slide ended.

I should probably go before it figures out it can go around.

Comments

Joe Spivey's picture

Nice read :) *Still reports Pyrok for throwback baiting.*

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

JeassiahBlack's picture

Wow, had not seen you write so much in so long Pyrok. Very good. More?  :)

Can, just juggling time on the desktop with my brother. My FE memory/mental map/immersion(?) is fuzzy so I putz around on the server when he's not around, just getting my bearings and remembering wtf i was doing.

I can scavenge trash... but this? This is rubbish! - Post Fall scavenger problems.

JeassiahBlack's picture

Not get shot at or harrassed by jess is one of them...hehehe



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