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This Woman's Work Part 2

 
Lance Striker's picture
Faction:
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Striker, assuming you're still serious about this, your

first port of call should be to prevent further suffering.

There exists a man, an organisation, deep within the

blackened bosom of The Travellers that the higher-ups

refer to only as 'The Shepherd'. Little concrete

information exists about this Shepherd, though I've

heard of them before. Sex trafficking is a sordid

understatement for what I've been able to gleam on

the airwaves, even the worst of the Travellers regard

them as a monster. There is a slight problem, however.

I don't actually know where to find them, but don't

worry, I have a lead. Come see me in TF when you're ready.


-Echo.

 

The accelerator seemed unusually stiff the further he got from Hyle's house, he found himself slumping

in his chair and his fingers slack around the wheel. This would be the hardest part of the operation, he'd

been telling himself for a while, every moment spent with her made leaving harder. Still, he carried her

hope and confidence with him, and that was all the motivation he needed.

 

Hyle had wanted little and less to do with the finer details of his plans for Aunt Lucy and she'd been

dismissive, though accepting, of what he was about to do next. He rolled up to the garage as gently as his

motor would allow, wincing at the whining of his brakes. It was early, spring was creeping into the world

and with it, the sun rose earlier by the day. Reasoning Jess would still be sleeping, he crept out of the car

and made his way to the door. Shadow was not accustomed to feeling nervous, he didn't fear anyone or

any thing, but without the adrenaline kick he got from battle, human nature took control. He half expected

Jess to be waiting for him on the other side of the door with that obnoxiously loud shotgun, or to appear

behind him with one of her customary smacks to the back of his noggin. He allowed himself a cursory

glance over his shoulder to assuage his paranoia, then took out a note he'd had difficulty penning in the

kitchen that morning while Hyle was strutting around in very little. He gave it one last-minute check.

 

I'm going after Lucy. Don't know how long I'll be gone, but

I figured you might want in on it, in a way. I want to leave

her a parting gift, the kind of mess you can't clean up with

a mop and bucket. So...if you could hook me up with about

250lbs of ANFO and a remote detonator, that'd be lovely.

Don't worry about Hyle, she knows. Sort of.

 

Also, while I'm at it...I've noticed you spend a lot of time

alone at the garage. Catch up when I'm back?


-Shadow

 

He shook his head at the bottom of the note, the part he'd torn off after daring to put a little 'x' at the

end - too risky, he thought. After all, the last and only kiss he and Jess had shared came after a swift

kneecap to the bollocks, her dragging him a good 200 feet by his beard, being handed a pair of knickers

and told to pass it on to Reavy in some kind of lover's spat. As unexpected as that was, it was even more

surprising that he'd end up tacked onto the side of that situation a couple of years later.

 

He sighed, rubbed the phantom pain away between his legs and slipped the note under the door. He

paused for a moment, holding his ear against the door... Nothing. Dashing back to the car, he hopped

in the seat and made a quick getaway.

 

The road to New Flagstaff was as unpleasant as ever, he almost missed the half-arsed efforts of the

county council working on the potholes. Almost. The city itself wasn't much of an improvement as pothole

gave way to those annoying guards who plague the roads for reasons beyond all logic. He stopped off for

some food, Kaibab was a ways off and something for the road wouldn't go amiss. A hot sandwich for second

breakfast was an opportunity for him to take a walk; one that lead him straight to a building being reclaimed

by civilisation – Diamond Lil's.

 

He frowned, disgusted that such places are even tolerated and strode up to the entrance. Never again.

Never again would she be allowed to operate so long as Hope had the power to oppose her, and it did.

The wolves were at her door, it was only a matter of time...

 

 

Comments

Joe Spivey's picture

Going after the poor ole Cookie Lady. You're mean.

((Shut up Finny.))

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

Hyle Troy's picture

((  it was coffe, cheese and pastry...   its not wise to fry sausages wearing very little....

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Lance Striker's picture

Shadow was grateful for the sight of Trader's Flat, he hadn't been able to feel his arsecheeks

since Kristo's Rest. He slowly made his way into town, waved on by Outsiders, and found a

quiet place to park. The activities of The Outsiders down south had done little to dislodge them

from the city, much to the chagrin of Shadow who despised them for it.

 

The factions, too, were still well-represented. This benefited Shadow, who would otherwise stick

out like a sore thumb with his militarised appearance. He started walking, looking around too much

would still draw too much attention he thought, and made his way to the residential district. He

stopped at an unassuming house and gave it three firm knocks.

 

He took a few steps back from the door as it opened, a ghastly looking woman peering at him suspiciously.

 

   Whaddya want?” She croaked, getting a measure of him.

 

Shadow tried his hardest not to sneer at her.

 

   “Jonah home?”

 

   JONAH! There's an old man here to see you.”

 

He wasn't sure what offended him more, the insult or her lack of concern for her son. The woman offered

him one last look of disapproval then slithered off as she was replaced by a blonde-haired young man in

plain clothes. They both smiled at each other as Jonah spilled out of the door, closing it behind him.

 

   Striker, my dude! Fancy seeing you here, or should I call you Shadow now?” Jonah smirked at him

    as if privy to some well-hidden secret.

 

   Striker works, that name won't lead back home if things go south.”

 

   Right. You got my letters then?”

 

   Indeed I did, young master Jonah. Or should I call you Echo?”

 

Jonah rolled his eyes and pushed Shadow onwards to set a pace back into town.

 

   “Yeah, yeah. So you're really going through with this, huh? I mean...if anyone can do this, I'd put my chips

    on you, totally, but this is big, man.”

 

    Since you wrote your letters so eloquently, how could I say no?” Shadow laughed, mockingly.

 

   Just trying to make you feel comfortable, bro. You're always like 'verily I doth commit a slay on the evil

    doers, 'ware my pistol of truth, villainy!'”

 

Shadow was no longer amused.

 

   ...I don't talk like that.”

 

   You really do, man. You're like so hard up, y'know?”

 

   “I just come from a diff-”

 

   “Yeah, yeah. Back in your day the TV worked and everything was made of internets and win. Heard it a million

    times, man. Change the record, y'know?”

 

   Am I being chastised by a man who still lives with his mother?”

 

Jonah scoffed.

 

   “We both know that's the perfect cover. Who'd ever suspect the greatest information broker in The Province is

    some kid living in his mom's basement, y'know?”

 

   “Yeah...no one would ever entertain that thought, now keep it down you humble little shit.”

 

   “It's cool, man, ain't no one around. What time is it, anyway?”

 

   About 1 in the afternoon.”

 

   Dude, you're early. Let's go get a drink.”

 

   Oh, the big man likes a drink nowadays, eh?”

 

   What? Nah, man, they got the best lemonade in the sector right here.”

 

Shadow sighed, following Jonah reluctantly towards the lemonade stand.

 

Time rolled by as the pair sat on a bench, drinking and catching up. It was nice, mostly, except for the lengthy

enthusiasm about comic books he didn't give a shit about and the strain the lemonade was having on his

bladder and pocket. It was ridiculously good though. He got up to get another cup when Jonah stopped him.

 

   Yo, hold up. It's getting real close to 3pm, right?”

 

Shadow checked his watch – 14:56.

 

   “Yeah, why?”

 

Jonah quickly nodded in the distance.

 

   Check it out.”

 

A bus pulled up and stopped by the road. Three men in dark trench-coats got off and stood guard, peering

around. Travellers. Of all the things going through Shadow's mind right now, he wondered why they'd wear

something so hot in this weather. One of the men spoke into a radio transmitter out of earshot.

 

   Handover in progress, en route to farm...” Jonah said under his breath.

 

Shadow glanced at him.

 

   You can hear them from here?”

 

   “No, they do this every day at the same time. Wherever that bus is going is where you wanna go too.”

 

   “I can't just follow them...”

 

   Yeah...you not got a tag gun or a tracking device or something, man?”

 

   No. That's more your thing if anyone's.”

 

Three more men approached the bus, offering each other a nod before they got on board. Shadow examined

every detail he could, but he couldn't see any way to follow the bus without it leading to conflict. As it pulled

away he watched the road disappear under the bus and stroked his beard in thought. Jonah slapped him on

the shoulder.

 

   “On your own there, man, but you've got other things to do in town. Keep up.” He said, rising to his feet and

   walking off towards the commercial district.

 

Shadow followed, his thoughts gloomy. Jonah was walking at pace with his head down, they passed into a

street with various shops and street peddlers.

 

   “Remember part two? This is it, keep your head down and don't draw attention.”

 

Shadow just followed quietly.

 

   “Store on the left here, catering. Harmless enough, right? This one, too – alcohol.”

 

   “Mhm...”

 

Jonah continued on, casually strolling around a corner.

 

   Exotic clothing...if you know what I mean, bro.”

 

They rounded another corner and came into a more open space. Jonah stopped by another bench and sat

down casually.

 

   Notice anything strange, man?”

 

   “Aye...armed thugs parading around the fruit and veg.”

 

   Right you are, man. See...this part of town, it's owned turf, get me?”

 

Shadow nodded, remembering the vague explanations in the letters.

 

   A protection racket.”

 

   Right, right. See, these places are supplying that fucked up lady with everything she needs. Figured you'd

    wanna let 'em know that ain't such a good idea, you know?”

 

   Good idea. Your letter didn't mention Trader's Flat though...”

 

   “Yeah. See, this is Outsider territory, right? Running an operation here? Bad for business. In typical Trav fashion

    these guys are based out in a complex somewhere in the forest, those were the co-ordinates I gave you.”

 

   Any idea what to expect?”

 

Jonah just looked at him like he was as dense as granite.

 

   “Travs. I just told you.”

 

Shadow gave him an appropriately stony look of disdain.

 

   “Right.”

 

Not a big deal, he thought. He almost felt sorry for them, knowing this was work he was handing over to Reavy. Let

me know if I need a hammer or a scalpel, she'd said to him. It was definitely hammer time. Jonah got up, patted

Shadow on the back and grinned.

 

   That's enough hand-holding for you, man. Who knows what juicy info I'm missin' on the airwaves taking care of

    your old ass. Come see me if you need anything else or you have my pay, eh? Laters, Strikes.”

 

Shadow sighed, waited for a moment while he processed everything then set off to the bar to wait the day out. A few

hours of drinking later, he found himself doing the porch thing. Again. The sun was setting, his mind drifted back to

home and the part of his heart he'd left behind. Then, on cue, Hyle's voice came over the radio. He sighed happily

and let the day come to its proper end.

Lonely are the brave...

Joe Spivey's picture

Loving the way this is going. :)

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

Lance Striker's picture

(( Sorry it's taking so long, I've been struggling with health and I feel bad about essentially holding your character hostage.

Lonely are the brave...

Joe Spivey's picture

((What? Don't worry about it. There's no deadlines or anything and story/game time is mutable. At the moment I don't even have motivation to write a shopping list so Lucy can sit there doing whatever you want to have her doing and for as long as you want to have her doing it.

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

Lance Striker's picture

The next day, Shadow was making his way back to the centre of town after spending the night

in a tent at the Vista enclave by the south wall. Luckily, he knew the warden there and had

entrusted his car keys to their care. He'd spent most of the morning going over his plan with

Echo, and was en-route to meet up with him.

 

It was a little over 2:50pm and Jonah was sat on the self-same bench as yesterday, lemonade

in one hand. Shadow stopped in front of him, eyebrow cocked. He was decked out in an offensively

orange pair of shorts and sunglasses so large they covered his cheeks.

 

   What the fuck are you wearing?”

 

   “It's inconspicuous, man. Enjoying the hot weather, y'know?”

 

Shadow sighed, settling on the bench next to him. Jonah turned to him, slurping his lemonade.

 

   “Hope you had plenty to eat, my dude. Ain't no way of knowin' where this thing's gonna take you.”

 

   “I managed to piss off at least four people in the wafflehouse by using up the last of their batter.”

 

   “Man, you greedy.”

 

   “Bus will be here soon, you remember everyth-”

 

   “Yeah, yeah. Make a note of your bearing and the times in between. That still ain't gonna guarantee

    any kind of accuracy, y'know?”

 

   “It'll have to do, now piss off and get ready to do your bit.”

 

Jonah got up, and walked off, disappearing behind a building. Shadow waited, every second building

the tension and nerves in his gut. Right on time, the bus pulled into the city and stopped by the

roadside. The Travellers disembarked, spread out and Jonah came strolling round the corner drinking

his lemonade. Shadow leaned forward, ready to move, his heels lifted off the ground. One of the Travellers

began to move around the opposite side of the bus when Jonah bundled into him, spilling lemonade

everywhere. Shadow darted from the bench, not giving a thought to any of the townsfolk seeing him

as he sprinted towards the bus and rolled underneath.

 

   “Watch where you're going ya dumb fuck,” said the Traveller, gripping Jonah by the collar and lifting him up.

 

Shadow coiled his arms and legs quietly around the underside of the chassis and lifted himself up.

Better make myself comfortable, he thought, could be here a while.

 

   “Oh, man, I'm so sorry. It's these new shades, y'know? Can't see a fucking thing, what I wouldn't

   give for a pair like yours.”

 

The Traveller slammed Jonah up against the side of the bus.

 

   You think you're some kinda wiseguy, kid? Maybe we oughta open you up, see if you're so gutsy then.”

 

One of the other men placed a hand on his shoulder as the other three Travellers approached the bus.

 

   That's enough, we gotta go or the boss'll be real upset.”

 

He dropped a panicked Jonah, squeezed his jaw and pushed him away onto the floor. Shadow smirked

at him from under the bus and wondered how much of the darker orange patches on his shorts were from

the lemonade he'd spilled. the men all got on the bus, settled into their seats and started the engine.

Rust and dirt fell from the underside of the bus and Shadow barely managed to squeeze his eyes shut as

it pulled away. Hopefully the pipe he was wrapped around wasn't the kind to get really hot. 

 

He hung low for a moment, waiting to see when they'd left the city by the north entrance then pulled the

compass out he had strung around his neck. Each time his direction changed he radioed in the bearing

in Morse code back to Jonah, who'd hopefully be taking note. Shadow reasoned that, given the state of

the roads, the bus would maintain a fairly regular speed – a speed he was estimating at about 30mph

on average.

 

Hours went by before the bus came to a stop at the end of a series of dirt paths. All six men got off the

bus and walked off until he couldn't hear their footsteps anymore. It was still bright enough outside that

Shadow didn't dare move yet, he wasn't even sure he was where he needed to be. He mentally sighed

at his aching muscles and waited until nightfall.

 

The things I do for that woman...

Lonely are the brave...

Joe Spivey's picture

((She has that effect. Just count your lucky stars the bus didn't encounter any speed humps... that could have been messy.

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



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