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  • Texas Hold'em 2078 [IP]

     gilga updated 2 years, 7 months ago 7 Members · 1,109 Post
  • jack_spade

    October 13, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Act 1: El Mariachi plays

    San Angelo, Arms’ Saloon, February 2nd 2078

    The sun was at it’s highest point – just as the attendance in the cheap watering hole Arms’ Saloon. The food tasted like the foodprocessor soy drek it was and the alcohol like someone had tried to distill hand disinfectant and had given up half way through. That theory was strengthened by the fact that both soap dispenser and disinfecter in the small single toilet were as empty as the whole little room was filthy.
    People didn’t come here for the food, the drink or the service – that much was clear. Instead a lively game of poker was going on around the big, from dozens of bar fights scarred oak table in the middle of the room.

    Your contact didn’t ask you to come mere to enjoy the game either. It was rather a matter of you being in the CAS anyway and a Johnson being either desperate, dumb or whily enough to offer an extraordinary large sum of Nuyen to both you and your fixer to meet you here.

    You’ve been keeping an eye open for him – a man in black with a big guitar, black, long hair and a mustache.
    But for now you only have spotted a bunch of criminals and potential future co-workers in the mainroom of the saloon…

  • adamu

    October 13, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    At least it wasn’t hot. Al knew from experience that the Lone Star State could scorch. And come May it probably would. But the bright cold winter sun had been busy melting this year’s thin winter snow cover when he’d arrived last month, and with January having given way to February, the bunkhouse was tolerable even without the A/C.

    Sitting on the edge of his cot, he laid out his kit and cut away the bandages on his left hand. The camp medic had done a fair job, but the wrapping chafed, and even one-handed, Al figured he could do better. Looking at the hundred or so fresh stitches criss-crossing his burn-mottled hand and the surrounding bruising, he chuckled at the thought that a month going toe-to-toe with a Koshari circle out of Dallas/Ft. Worth had left him unscathed, but a week on this rig here south of Waco and a wet-behind-the-ears roustabout had nearly cost him his hand.

    Three months ago he’d been tinkering away on his Gaz at his place in Orting. Peaceful. Hippies around, sure. But in the garage he’d made his own it was just him and his snakes and plenty of soothing psychobilly. Half a year or so helping Silky rebuild her secret treehouse fort and then rounding up digital soothsayers loco enough to buy into her weird fortunetelling visions had been honest enough work, but even with the nearby cabin he’d bought as a bolthole, quarters had started feeling close. So he’d given Silky his walking papers and hopped back over the Metroplex border for the wider-opener spaces of Hell’s Kitchen.

    He’d been upgrading the filtration systems on all of his truck’s intakes, trying to compensate for the way the fine particulates of the Puyallup ash wastes were clogging up not only his beloved ride’s respiratory system but climbing up her figurative ass into her guts as well, when Croc had called. His old friend had tried to put a brave face on, but the fear ringing under the gruff baritone of the dwarf’s voice had been as hard to ignore as tinnitus at the symphony.

    Not that Al had ever been to a symphony.

    Nor had he been to Texas, at least not for close to a quarter of a century, but he and Croc had stayed in touch on message boards over the years. The halfer had known Al was full of shit on that day in Galveston when he’d first signed on as a chopper pilot, but hadn’t said anything to management. But he’d found ways to casually mention piloting and maintenance points that somehow just managed to fill in the gaps in what Al thought maybe he guessed about handling the small but sophisticated birds. They were fast friends by the time Al had finally been fired, and when they had finally let him go, it sure as hell hadn’t been for any problem with his flying.

    So whatever Croc wanted, well, they’d shared smokes. Al hadn’t even let him explain the situation. Just said something along the lines of “Sounds like we’s overdue fer some quality time, amigo. Put a few longnecks on ice.” Then he’d strapped his Growler into the bed of the Gaz and packed for a long trip. Even though his licenses were up to date in triplicate, he’d stowed his grenades in the shielded smuggling compartment he’d recently installed, and dispensed with his boom-bag altogether. Injun border cops didn’t care for such deliciously pyrotechnic compounds as Al tended to carry. And a paleface such as himself would have precious little legal recourse, licenses or no.

    Packed, he’d left within an hour, and driven non-stop for two days, crossing the Salish lands and the PCC in good time. Got to Waco and got in touch. Croc and his whole family were holed up in the back of a burned out Nukit Burger. Seemed his old friend had managed to really piss off the above-mentioned Koshari thugs—something to do with protection money unpaid and a whole lot of racial-historical references that would best have been left unsaid—and the local Blue Crew was about as useful as assholes on elbows. Lone Star just wasn’t what it used to be. it was a hard thing for Croc, him apparently having been busily breeding as fast as he could for the past decade, and the Koshari eager to inflict all the collateral familial damage they could. Example-setting or some shit. Evil ass-licking gangsters were all the same whatever ethnic victimhood they tried to justify their shit with.

    Fortunately, Al was possessed of no small amount of personal experience in these matters. For good measure, he’d studied relevant episodes of Tales of the Red Samurai for any useful pointers. But in the end he’d had to admit that Captain Hiroshi and his elite operators were way out of his league. He’d never be able to pull off the complex stings that they did, crushing would-be syndicates and upstart gangs with elaborate schemes that led unfailingly to the quiet implosion/self-annihilation of the entire gang. Then the noble warriors quietly slipped into the neon night, the world a better place for their selfless, unheralded actions. (Much, Al often reflected, like the altruistic activities of Renraku Computer Systems itself.)

    No, instructional as the Red Samurai’s exploits had been, they were too complex for a one-man job against a whole circle of Koshari hard men. So he’d decided to just kill them all.

    The work had gone pretty fast at first – he got their attention with a couple of sufficiently gruesome executions, pretended to go into hiding, and killed most their number by ambushing the ones that came for him. Eventually, however, the survivors realized they were no longer the hunters, and went into hiding themselves, and it took a good two weeks to root out the last of the circle.

    Sure, the group’s Outer Limits or whatever they called themselves would hate him forever now, but all the commotion had provided plenty of smoke to screen Croc getting his family clean the hell out of Dodge. And by the time it was over, the dwarf was forgotten as Al managed to put all the attention on himself.

    The plan at that point had been to high-tail it back to Seattle and take the Snakehandler back to England. He hadn’t seen Spike for a while anyway. But he’d gotten pretty comfy in the little hidey-hole he’d set up on the outskirts of Waco. And Texans were his kind of people. He could always leave if things got hot. And, to be uncharacteristically safe, he moved out for a while and took a job as a derrickhand in a field about ten miles south of the city. Which was fine because he’d somehow run through most of the silly amounts of money he’d been making with Silky.

    Things had gone pretty smoothly. The driller was a solid old guy about Al’s age and they got along well. Most of the roustabouts were reliable as well. Only two were a problem. The first was Gayleen. Hair cropped short. Lots of tats. And dressed to show them off like it was already summer. That alone he could have handled. The second was Zeke. Young and just experienced enough to think he was no longer inexperienced, he had a tendency to move way too fast with the drilling string, tripping at a pace out of the rhythm Al set for the crew. That alone Al could have handled as well.
It was the combination of the two that got him. Looking at Gayleen when he should have been watching Zeke’s erratic loading on the string, he’d gotten his left hand caught between two sections of drill pipe. Hurt like a bitch – his hand and his pride.

    The hand was a mangled mess. Al didn’t tell them it didn’t hurt half as much as it might have. Just waved them off as he made his way to the infirmary, conjectures trailing after him in the wind about whether the outfit’s plan would pay for a replacement hand.

    But mixed-rigidity smart materials don’t break, nor register pain, and by the time he pushed through the sick-bay door his hand was back to its normal shape, albeit covered in torn and chewed skin and flesh. The sawbones and his autodoc had spent the rest of the day and run through half their store of surgical thread, staples, and adhesives getting the hand to the point where it would eventually heal.

    So now here he was in a half-empty bunkhouse. Most of the B-shift snoring, and Al was facing at least two weeks of downtime. He’d insisted he could work, but insurance and liability and blah blah blah. He knew it would be a good idea to leave his place in Waco empty and under drone surveillance for a while longer to gauge the Koshari response to having their local little circle wiped out. But then, he didn’t actually have it under drone surveillance. So he was only doing half the good idea anyway. Ergo, he was tempted to go back there, where at least he could play his trid as loud as he liked. Or he could head for the north-of-the-border side of Austin and go on a bender, blow through what little stake he’d built up. Or stay here in the bunkhouse for the duration, work on his card tricks. In that moment it was a toss-up between all three, so he lit a Lucky and lay back to contemplate the universe and his irreplaceable place in same.

    After about five minutes, he was pretty sure he was on the verge of a metaphysical breakthrough, the explanation for God’s seeming abandonment of this heartless sphere to the abominations and devilry of the Sixth World, something that tied it all together in a way that made sense….when some anonymous idiot pinged his ‘link with a text.

    A job.

    True, he was without income for the coming weeks anyway. But he was also a little irked at his epiphany being ruined by the uninvited solicitation. The impasse was broken by the realization that if some local J knew he was here, the Koshari would be able to learn as much as well, and more likely sooner than later. Which would put all of his co-workers here in jeopardy. So he texted the office to say vaya con dios and get his pay transferred, tossed his personals into a duffel that went into the back seat of the Gaz’s extended cab, and made the two-hour drive to San Angelo in one.

    The address looked about as seedy as they came – just Al’s speed.

    And at least it wasn’t hot.

  • Tecumseh

    October 15, 2018 at 1:23 am

    Ichante stares distastefully at Arms’ Saloon, wondering if she made the right decision to come. The nature of the establishment called into question the “extraordinary large sum of Nuyen” that had been promised. Plus, what was up with that apostrophe in the saloon’s name? Was “Arms” now a proper name, some chummer’s name now in the possessive? Did the locals really call it “Arms-s Saloon”?

    Under normal circumstances, Ichante would never consider venturing into the CAS for a job. She made an exception this time because she was literally halfway here already when she heard about it. She had made a trip from her home in Seattle to Denver to pick up her brand new foci from her talismonger in the Sioux sector. The talismonger in question, Longshadow, is a Shark shaman and a real piece of work who can smell metaphorical blood in the water. Ichante, having just dropped almost ¥40,000 on a power focus and a qi focus, was obviously in need of gainful employment, so Longshadow pointed her toward an associate in the CAS sector of Denver, who in turn pointed her here.

    Unfortunately, Ichante had not come to Denver expecting to work. She thought she was going for a shopping trip, to drop a ton of money that she had spent years saving, not get her hands dirty. In addition to the new foci, she was picking up a fancy new SIN from her ID manufacturer in the PCC sector. She could already hear her financial adviser back in Seattle sobbing to himself. He begged and pleaded with her for just ¥500k or ¥600k and he would do the rest; she’d never have to work again if she didn’t want to. She believed him, but money just slipped through her fingers like water. She knew it, which is why she got into shadowrunning in the first place.

    So, Ichante was in Denver wearing a Synergist Business suit with Second Skin underneath (because, damn, Denver in February is cold), which probably wasn’t going to work well in San Angelo-whatsit. She used the occasion to go buy a new gun, figuring that Texas was the type of place where you were more likely to get shot if you didn’t have a gun than if you did. A moment of “when in Rome” inspiration led her to the Cavalier Evanator, knowing that the CAS locals would look more favorably on a local weapon then something foreign like a Steyr. She then bought a new Wild Hunt jacket, hoping that would blend in wherever she was going. If it didn’t, she would magically alter it until it did.

    That’s how Ichante finds herself staring at a cheap saloon that’s so far beneath her standards that she has to hold her breath. She didn’t know what the local biases might be around nationality so she set her skin tone to something ambiguous, somewhere between Latina and tanned Anglo. She mentally commanded her hair to get puffy and big, as Texan women didn’t seem content unless their wingspan of their hair stretched for 50cm or more. The effect is comical on Ichante’s dwarven frame, but at least she can change it when it’s time to move on and be forgotten.

    For now, she’s on the lookout for a man in black with a guitar case. She hopes that there’s an actual guitar in it, and not – say – an assload of guns and explosives. Fine for a coworker, but undesirable for a Johnson. Unless, of course, he’s one of those tall, strapping mariachis full of music and muscles. In that case he could play her strings and she’d sing for him all he wanted…

    She breaks her momentary reverie to summon a guardian spirit to watch over her before she steps inside. She kicks herself for not learning the spell which sterilizes everything, and resolves to pick it up on the way back to Seattle. She’s not particularly worried about bullets, but the local botulism might be the end of her, dwarven constitution be damned.

  • aria

    October 15, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    [Lunchtime, Wednesday February 2nd, 2078; Arms’ Saloon, San Angelo, CAS]

    Jazz was tired, she’d spent the last two weeks dodging Azzie border patrols and she needed a rest…but the toll on her mechanical friends had also been expensive and if she wanted to get back to Seattle with anything like a credit balance then this potential job had to at least be investigated. The location didn’t bode particularly well, not that she was particularly fussed by a bit of grime, but if she was passing up on getting back home to see her brother then it had damn well better be worth the trouble!

    The scruffy street urchin look barely drew a glance as she entered, and allowed herself a moment for the electronics in her glasses to adjust to the perpetual gloom. The microdrones nestled in her hair and clothing gave her another perspective fed to AR windows hovering on the edges of her vision. Scanning the room she saw no sign of the J but she had to do a double take when she did see a familiar figure in one of the booths. There was no mistaking that ugly visage and sense of personal hygiene (or its lack)…not that he would recognise her but his exploits were legendary with the tribe. The coincidence seemed highly unlikely which suggested he might just be here for the same reason she was…either way, she’d buy him a drink and finally get to meet one of their saviours in person.

    Careful to approach him from in front rather than his periphery she set the soy beer pitcher down on his table

    “Mr Guthrie? My name’s Jazz, this is from our friends back up north…”


  • gilga

    October 15, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Becky arrived at the location early. Her striking appearance made it difficult not to attract unwanted attention. Though, while beautiful was an understatement, she was also strong. Very physically active, and armed, she wore tight leggings, boots that on closer inspection are combat boots, and was discreetly armed with a smartsteel blade disguised as a belt. She carried a small bag on her back. She took a seat by the bar and took off her jacket, remaining with a plain white shirt that revealed a large tattooed tree on her back. She felt relatively mundane until she opened her mouth to ask for a menu and a glass of water, perhaps in the most beautiful and elegant manner anyone has ever asked for these things. Or so her glamour has made it look. Becky was actually frustrated with her genetics, too little muscles too much grace. However hard she tried to push her body, she felt as if she was born the worst for a brawler, but she liked it close and personal… and she liked kicking things. She was calm, perfectly in her element and her eyes were shamelessly looking scouting for people of interest.

  • jack_spade

    October 15, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    A rumble goes through the table in the middle. Some guy just just has played an unlikely hand and taken in the whole pot. And while the atmosphere has just heated up a few degrees, no-one seems willing to escalate just yet. The more experienced among you are already eyeing the nearest exits, though. There seem to be two of those: One the door you came in, two the little door leading to the back and into the back alley.
    Ok, maybe three if you count the heavy transpex window. At least you assume it’s a window. The grime makes it a bit hard to tell.

    The game continues and yet there is no sign of the Johnson. By now he is about five minutes late.
    The murmur and clinking of glasses gains another nuiance as slowly the sounds of a [url=]guitar got louder[/url].

    Becky looked into the rather puzzled eyes of a ork, working the bar. Reaching under the bar he produced a small plastic bottle of water, that – at least judging by the dust on it – had to have come with the inventory of the bar. With a grunt and his thumb he indicated at a somewhat muted AR display. Somehow this etablisment managed to have less of a selection than a typical Texas gas station.

    Ichante’s Guardian Spirit informed her that at least four people inside where awakened and that two lesser spirits resided within.

  • gilga

    October 15, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    She frowns at the water and asks the bartender… “Who is playing, which one would you look out for?” Clearly, she lost interest in eating.

  • beta

    October 15, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Preston took his time driving through San Angelo, soaking in what passed for the sights. Not that he hadn’t scanned the area from the matrix first, but Fisher had always pounded into him that you looked things over with your own eyeballs whenever you could.

    * Gamma: I don’t follow all of Fisher’s methods, so it isn’t entirely sensible to do anything ‘just because Fisher did it’
    * Coleman: Fisher was excellent on tactics, it was the big picture strategy where he had issues
    * Eliza: Becoming so disliked that someone would sell you out to a mind-rapist would count as bad strategy, I guess.
    * Coleman: Of course it does!
    * Monkey: AND being disliked that much means you have to pay for women. So much better when women like me!
    * Oleg: At lease with a working woman you know where she stands, even if she is a moral-less harlot.
    * Monkey: it is better when she lies down. Standing can be good too if we have a sturdy wall. Or harnesses, the harnesses were fun …
    * Gamma: I should be paying attention to this town, not to memories of Tanya.

    The place was making him vaguely melancholic and nostalgic, and after a while he realized why: it reminded him of home. Not that San Angelo was even a sixth of the size of Edmonton, and it was certainly hotter and dustier here. But running their histories side by side it made sense: they’d been founded and grown at similar times, they’d both served farmers, ranchers, and the oil business. Edmonton had had its time as a provincial capital back before the awakening, but much of the city had felt a lot like San Angelo did.

    * Coleman: Having a reference point is good, but don’t trust it too much. From the pitch of the blocks to the length of the day, a lot of things are different enough that relying on Edmonton memories would be tactically unsound.

    As a test, without running an AR search he drove until he found the right sort of street, and sure enough he found just the sort of gently run-down motel that would serve people who’d driven in far enough from the country that they needed to stay a night or a week. Having just spent a week at the only dude ranch he’d been able to find that promised no dogs, he figured he looked and smelled the part well enough. He took a minute in the car to adjust his hair to be straight and black then went in and paid in advance for a couple of days, using one of his burner SINs. He hauled in a couple of duffel bags and a tote box, and out of the latter he pulled out his soycaff unit and set it to brew him something potable while he got ready for the meet.

    A trickle of tepid water calling itself a shower was enough to help him finish removing the face he’d used at the ranch, but didn’t encourage him to dawdle. Soon he was setting up his face for this meet. He took the stubble down to ‘two-days’ level but decided to leave himself a weedy bit of a mustache that would likely be all that most people would remember about him. After a moment he gave himself an unidentified lump on one eyelid that gave his eyes an uneven appearance.

    * Monkey: I hate when I wear ugly faces! The hotties don’t pay me any attention.
    * Gamma: except the working women who know that a face like that is more likely to have to pay for it. And the dealers.
    * Monkey: Ooooooh, think they sell the Jazz in this town?
    * Oleg: no more Jazz
    * Coleman: Jazz limits options too much. It led me to some very stupid decisions because I was going to fast to think things through.
    * Monkey: I DO miss Sonya …

    Putting on his armored vest, and his sap, and derringer in their hidden carriers made himself feel more like himself again, after forgoing such hidden protections for the past week. He pulled on his coveralls and set them to a faded navy, with a darker spot suggesting a name tag had been removed more recently. He left off the gas mask but left the straps for securing it place loose, to suggest that he normally did do work that required chemical protection. He’d leave it to the observer to guess if that was working the remains of oil fields, applying pesticides, or just shoveling manure from genetically optimized and chemically boosted pigs. He made sure his hold out was in its arm slide, but openly strapped on his taser and Predator. As the final stage of preparations he enjoyed his Soychinno then re-packed up the precious machine.

    He loaded everything back into the car, in various degrees of obvious and hidden, not trusting the motel room to protect any of his kit. He randomized the car ID and license plate, decided that the five year old Americar was dusty enough already to not stand, other than for not being a truck that is, and finally finished up heading to the meet.

    The place was at least as awful as its name suggested, and Preston shifted the coveralls to look a bit more faded, and he rummaged around in his kit for a bit before pulling out a dirty Chicago Massacre cap and couple of empty beer cans. The cap went onto his head a bit off-kilter, and the empties went into a satchel along with a couple of empty clips, to help disguise the lines of his deck.

    It was probably more of an effort than this place deserved, but he’d never regretted being too unmemorable.

    * Monkey: YES I HAVE! That girl at the ranch this past week couldn’t even remember from day to day that she’d met me, and she looked Tasty-with-a-capital-T
    * Oleg: TROUBLE-with-a-capital-T, I mean.
    * Monkey: The GOOD sort of trouble!
    * Oleg: She was the manager’s daughter, and was looking for drama. I don’t regret not drawing her eye.
    * Monkey: YES I DO!

    After all the preparation, walking into The Arm’s was anti-climatic. As it was supposed to be. Preston grabbed two important props: a can of something that might have been distant cousins with beer and a wobbly table with a view of the one mostly working trid unit, and settled in to wait.

    * Monkey: this beer is awful! Maybe the whiskey would be better?
    * Coleman: Bad beer is good. Less temptation to drink too much while I check out the matrix.
    * Monkey: HOT-SIM!
    * Coleman: Although looking passed out on the table may provide a degree of realism to my appearance, it would not be safe in a location such as this.
    * Monkey: Can I at least crack everyone’s links and copy their porn?
    * Oleg: Link only, pulling out a deck would be inappropriate in a place like this.
    * Coleman: Hiding my decking abilities until they are needed is good strategy.
    * Eliza: I could try talking to someone
    * Monkey: Ugh, nobody interesting to talk to in a place like this.

    The SHE walked in. Preston watched slack-jawed as she crossed the room to the bar.

    * Monkey: No! This is why I should put on nicer faces! I should go talk to her, now!
    * Gamma: Likely no need to rush, she is almost certainly here for the same reason that I am.

    [spoiler]edited, as I’d confused who approached Al. Just dropped a few lines at the end. [/spoiler]

  • jack_spade

    October 15, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    The bartender grunts to Becky’s question: “Just some of the locals trying to fleece a gringo and getting a bit anxious that he doesn’t seem to do them the favor of being bad at this game. Mind you, I wouldn’t step closer. Nikolo can get a bit testy if he loses too much in one game.”
    The bartender had spoken quietly and inidcated almost imperceptibly towards a big man with a platin blond buzz cut and a pair of shovel sized hands, clutching his cards with a mixture of grim determination and barely contained fury.
    The “gringo” was a small man with elfish features and a black t-shirt, forming neat stacks from the dozen or so credsticks on his pile – only to push them all into the middle of the table, eliciting a round of groans as one after the other four people folded, leaving Nicolo and him in the game.

    The large man put his last credstick into the middle and called the other’s bluff – only to be presented with yet another full house.
    Suddenly, the table had gone quiet and the unspoken word “cheater” hung in the air like a thunderstorm brewing on a particularly humid summer afternoon.
    Nicolo got up and pulled a knife from his back pocket that in his hands looked comically small but was in fact a full sized combat knife:
    “You think you can pull a fast one on us? You know what we do with cheaters in these parts? Now, be a good boy and give back what you stole and I might let you keep your favorite testicle.”
    “Before you do anything drastic, let me just say two things:
    First, I’m just a naturally lucky fellow – no cheating necessary.
    Second… no can do, I need that money to pay the bunch of mercenaries I invited to this place…”

  • beta

    October 15, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    * Gamma: It turns out that I didn’t even have the best camouflage in the room.
    * Oleg: can I trust him as a Johnson?
    * Eliza: I’d better decide quickly, because this feels like an interview
    * Coleman: Obviously runners can handle this situation; better to be part of the solution than a bystander.
    * Gamma: Acting now burns this face, will have to move to another one.
    * Monkey: BURN THE UGLY FACE!

    When the confrontation had started, Preston had automatically loosened his weapons and switched on his smart link, ready to defend himself if a general brawl broke out.

    It was a surprise when he found himself laughing instead of fighting. After a few seconds he controlled himself and offered “You got to admit the guy has balls the size of an semi-trailer, pulling a stunt like this.” Standing up, he adds “I admire that; I vote he buys a round then walks out of here.”

  • adamu

    October 15, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Watching for a bit from behind the tinted windows of the Gaz, the first person Al had seen enter was a female that reminded Al of Lt. Francesca Esposito back in Seattle. Granted, Esposito was tall and obese, while this one here was short and slender. But they shared a metatypical ambiguity – while he’d never been fully satisfied as to whether Esposito was a human-looking ork or a fat elf, this one tickled his brain as to whether she was a short elf or a skinny dwarf. Either way, the mini-Spock’s ears gave her away as something less desirable than just a petite sapiens sapiens. It was the sort of puzzle that irked Al to no end – he liked to know what sorts he was dealing with, and judging by the rugged but very expensive-looking field jacket she was wearing into this shithole of a meet spot, he might indeed be dealing with her soon enough.

    Still, he found himself pleased at the prospect. There was something about her. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he felt a palpable desire to get to know her better. He felt he could trust her. Probably some sort of thumbs-up from the voodoo gods.

    He waited a respectable few minutes. Leaving his long guns in their rack in the cab, he got out and locked the truck before following her in. The interior lived up to all that was without had promised. The sort of place Al preferred. No one putting on airs. Just working men relaxing after a day’s work. Honest or dishonest he couldn’t say. Some guys playing cards, a working guy at table with a Massacre cap, a tusker behind the bar. Some other wasted-looking bar flies. And of course the dwelf. Al grabbed a beer and a booth, choosing the seat with the best view of the room even though the foam was spilling out of the red synthleather cover on that side.

    No sign of anyone with a guitar. Though the one on the crappy sound system was all right.

    A ratty-looking homeless kid approached him. He was reaching into a pocket for any stray bills to give her when he saw the fresh pitcher of beer and then heard her say his name. She gave a moniker he might have heard mentioned and he raised his eyebrows at her cryptic reference to friends up north. Made no move to stop her sitting down. Helped himself to the beer, since of course his own was already empty. Was trying to think of something suitably insouciant to say when Becky walked in.

    He hadn’t seen her in close to seven years. She wasn’t someone any heterosexual man (redundancy in terms) forgot. Nor did he ever forget anyone who’d had his back. She didn’t acknowledge him, but of course there was no way she hadn’t noticed. She probably figured there was no percentage in giving the money guy any info for free, and she was right. It must have been hard for her, though, she being a woman and he being himself, but she’d fancied herself a pro back then, and the fact that she was still alive suggested she’d been right.

    So if it was her and the dwelf and apparently young Jazz across the table from him….typical. What was it about these cockamamie jobs – with all the violence and danger – that attracted so many squaws? Or maybe it was just jobs that he was on. Yeah, that made a certain sense.

    Becky talked to the barkeep and Jazz talked about something and Al watched the card game, thinking this was a chance to ease his current poverty. Then the game got a lot less friendly, and the little keeb in black used the confrontation as a cute way to announce himself. No guitar, though.

    And then the guy with the Massacre cap tipped his hand as a player as well, at least by Al’s reckoning.

    He sighed inwardly in relief at the prospect of at least one more Y chromosome on the team – yeah, these were crazy jobs, but they usually required at least a modicum of cool reason over raw emotionalism.

    Of course, there’d be no team if their cash-short Johnson got his ass kicked. But Al wasn’t on the payroll yet, so he lit a Lucky and sat back to see what would happen next.

  • Tecumseh

    October 15, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Before she steps inside, Ichante decides to take the precaution of summoning a spirit to watch over her. She lifts her eyes to the sky, studying the patterns in the clouds for clues about the Earth’s magic.

    [i]Wakan Tanka, if it suits you, send me an ally,[/i] she asks. [i]One faster than thunder, and steadier than the ocean wind. One strong as the rain that erodes the mountain, and clever as the raven in flight. And not too ugly, please.[/i]

    The pattern of the clouds above her begins to sway and shift, although Ichante is never sure if others can see the changes that she causes or if those effects are just for her. A figure begins to form in front of her, as if an invisible person were stepping through a heavy mist. The air ripples and curls around the figure until it emerges as a bare-chested Native male with lightning in his eyes, pecs like slabs of granite, and lats like wings. Ichante claps with delight.

    Her mood lifted, Ichante decides to doll herself up with a spell to improve her charm and personality. The spell works, but the effort leaves her coughing, as if the wind had been knocked out of her. She rights herself after a moment, annoyed to be tripped up by so simple of a spell, then heads inside with her spirit in tow on the astral.

    Inside, there’s a poker game in progress. There’s a supermodel sitting at the bar, which seems notable. A supermodel in combat boots, no less. Ichante is impressed that the bartender can keep his wits about him in the face of such beauty. Or maybe he’s gay, which would make it considerably easier. Ichante isn’t gay, but the lady at the bar might make you consider switching teams.

    Ichante switches to the astral for a moment to survey the scene. The poker game is tense, but that’s to be expected of any contest involving money. She keeps her distance from the table and is hardly surprised when the chummer with hands of shovels gets up, his fury boiling over as he draws a knife. Ichante edges toward the wall in response, not intending to get involved. She’s quite pathetic in a bar fight, but if need be she can call her spirit from the astral to throw some fists on her behalf.

  • gilga

    October 16, 2018 at 1:25 am

    Becky was irritated that the Jhonson guy was such a douche, she stood up flexing her muscles.

    “Yo Niko, everyone knows you can’t take a loss… So back off, man up and learn how to lose. If you make troubles I will cut out your dong, keep it in a jar and bring it to bachelorettes parties… “ she paused and added “I might need some image magnification… Because this violence is compensating for something.”

    OOC: I am not sure how it reads, Becky’s goal is to diffuse the tension by making them laugh (at Niko’s expense).

  • Tecumseh

    October 16, 2018 at 1:48 am

    Ichante’s eyes bulge at the mouth on the supermodel. On the astral, Ichante can tell that the woman is a formidable opponent, but naturally Niko wouldn’t know that. Ichante figures that the woman is spoiling for a fight, as questioning a man’s manhood generally does not end well. Of course, it is also true pretty women get away with things that Ichante never could.

    [i]But this is Texas, right? They wouldn’t hit a woman in Texas, would they?[/i]

    Ichante adjusts her chest to make it more prominent, just in case it gives someone a moment of pause before they punch her in the face.

    She backs toward the wall, gravitating toward the man in the cigarette who seems to have the same “this doesn’t concern me” attitude that Ichante does. She grabs a table top, judging how thick it is in case bottles or bullets start flying. She gives it a little nudge to see if she can tip it over. If not, she’ll just crawl underneath.

  • jack_spade

    October 16, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    yeah, if that was meant to calm him down, it will likely fail spectacularly, unless you manage to do an especially charming CON+CHA test at -6


    The tall beauty has managed to get ahold of everyone’s attention with her barbed comment.
    Nikolo – just a moment ago pretty pissed off – turns around to seize her up. The gringo in the black shirt uses this moment to extricate himself and his winnings from the table by unceremoneously pulling a large guitar case out from under the table and dumping the credsticks hastily inside.
    A little plinging tells you that there is in fact a guitar inside.
    Now that he stands up, you can see that the elf is about 1.90m tall with a long black ponytail and very gracefull movements.

  • beta

    October 16, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    * Coleman: Nicolo isn’t charging anyone yet, he may be confused. Perhaps we can get out of this with cunning.
    * Eliza: Communication is his week area, best to hit him there.
    * Gamma: Communication isn’t exactly my strength either.
    * Monkey: Play tricks in the trix, make him mad at his link, it will be hilarious!
    * Coleman: going for my deck would be too obvious right now, but even without hacking I may be able to do something. Might still have to taser him, depends on how long it takes him to make a move.

    Identifying Nicolo’s link wasn’t hard — the big man didn’t seem shy about his identity. Sadly verifying his full name would take seconds, time that Preston likely didn’t have. Well, the forgery was so basic that any calm thought would see through it anyway, the entire point was to trigger an unthinking reaction.

    Preston spared a moment to order his car to drive itself down the side street nearest the back door, then pulled up his “Repo Man” ARO template and quickly filled in the two blanks. Sparring only a beat to make sure that his internal link was indeed running silently and that every possible high urgency flag was set on the ARO, he sent it to Nicolo’s link.

    [center][size=6](name)[/size] [u]Nicolo[/u], we have been authorized to repossess the following item due to non-payment of bills:

    [size=6] (item description)[/size] [u][b] Truck [/b][/u].

    Repossession will occur [i]immediately[/i]. Interfering with this activity may result in criminal charges against you.

    Sincerely, Carson & Daily Financial Recovery Services[/center]

  • adamu

    October 16, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Al smoked. It was one of his favorite things to do.

    The maybe-Johnson’s play to get a freebie from his maybe-recruits had only worked on one. But that one was Becky.

    Al had hoped to just sit and watch, see what happened, see what the other candidates were made of.

    Probably he still could. Becky was more than a match for the neanderthal at the card table. But if things went south, well, with any of the others he’d have been able to smile and be grateful for natural selection. But since it was Becky…..

    Again, though, she was more than a match for the guy.

    And the Johnson was taking full advantage of the distraction she’d provided.

    In the meantime, Jazz hadn’t moved, and the dwelf’s move for the sidelines was making her neutrality clear – with her femininity-emphasizing posture making him like the way she was doing it, pointy ears or not.

    Massacre-cap was a wild card.

    Or, sad truth be told, they all were…for all Al knew, any one of them could be up to something, appearances notwithstanding. He lived in a benighted world of Unseen Forces, both demonic and technological, and you no longer had to face a man to fuck him up good. It was enough, at times, to make Al wish he’d taken Her up on Her offer of witchsight, but it wouldn’t have been worth his soul – the voodoo gods wouldn’t have liked it, and the Good Lord would have like it a hell of a lot less. ‘Hell’ being the key word.

    So, knowing he couldn’t watch everyone, he ended up focusing on his cigarette and beer and watching no one. If Becky needed a hand it’d be apparent enough.

  • gilga

    October 16, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Becky kept silent and allowed the men to appreciate her for a moment. Then when she was sure she had their attention she said “Give me a call, if you [b]dare[/b] to play against a serious player. Perhaps you can win your money back but I need to work now.”. She shared her contacts details with the man and kept her stance trying to determine how likely he was to give her a physical exercise.

    I am not sure if seduction speciality applies so I rolled without it…
    [url=]con + charisma -6[/url]: 9d6t5 2

  • jack_spade

    October 17, 2018 at 1:04 am

    Nikolo [url=]Con+CHA[/url]: 4d6t5 2


    Nikolo is clearly confused – and angry – and maybe now a little horny, because his reply contains more than a little hint that he wants to violate Becky in more than one way in the immediate future. To add to his confusion his link beginns to chime and without thinking he picks it up, pressing it against his ear – if anything this confirms your suspicions about him being a left over from a few 10.000 years ago.
    Into his mix of anger, confusion and hornyness the new emotion of panic finds its way.
    “This isn’t over!” he screams while running for the door. The other players are now utterly confused, not understanding what just happened.

    The guy in black meanwhile has discreetly moved towards the back door and winks towards Becky while making a motioning gesture in the general direction towards the rest of you.

  • Tecumseh

    October 17, 2018 at 2:22 am

    Ichante looks back and forth between Shovel Hands and The Supermodel like a spectator on the sideline of a tennis match. What the frag is going on?

    Ichante isn’t terrible logical nor analytical and she knows it, but she can’t quite follow the reasoning of baiting the losing player to play against a “serious” player. If the loser couldn’t beat a non-serious player, what would he do against a serious one?

    And what’s with the barb about the size of Niko’s package, but then this strange “call me maybe!” invitation? The Supermodel has some or push-pull routine going on, but it seems to work as Niko runs out, angry, confused, and half-erect. Spirit, that’s one weird aura to assense.

    Ichante shrugs. As a magician, she knows that not everyone nor everything plays by the same rules. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” and all that. (Hamlet, Act I, Scene V. Thank you, Eidetic Sense Memory and Ms. Newman’s senior year English literature class.) She’s a prime example of that, so she dismisses the peculiarities of the exchange and follows the Man in Black out back with his guitar.

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