You head out of High Rent onto the street. Almost everyone's outside now. Some are dancing, drinking and fuggin. Others are rushing to collect the water, in cups, jugs and big barrels. You see a trio of young kids splashing and dancing in puddles.
There's no joy in Mudville for you, though, right?
You walk, through the mud and rain, hair clinging wetly to your scalp, the cool air of the night bringing a chill to your bone that matches your mood. Down the lane that runs parallel to the Palace wall, over the broken and ruined gate, and onto the palace grounds. There are no lights on in the palace this night. An occasional lightning flash lights the place, and you see the huge hole where the double doors once stood. Windows broken out all along the first floor. You even spot where the chopper landed, where Gigg fell, just off to your right, where he made his last stand to buy you time to escape.
What do you do?
I walk through the rain, helmet in my hand so I can feel the rain on my head and my face. It is a rare delicious feelings, but it doesn't bring joy.
I smile softly, though, at the kids enjoying themselves. Give them a wave if any of them bother to look up from their play.
Then into the ruin, eyes alert, there may be people here looking for scavenge, though by now everything that can easily be grabbed has already been, and anything the Fat Man wants safe has been taken to his warehouse, or wherever he's gone to hide.
I go to the spot where Gigg fell. Looking for a trace, a sign, something of his to tell me his fate. He died for us, in part for me... and I won't forget that. I can't ever forget his poor wrecked face and the rage I've so often seen in his heart... but there was more than that to this man. I regret not knowing how much more.
"Gigg... the fugg happened to you?" I quietly ask... answered only by the sound of the rain.
He's dead, of course... right? He must be after charging headlong and unarmored into an FPS gunship... there's nothing that makes sense otherwise.
But I just gotta know.
You trudged through the wet grass as rain continues to pour down, thunder rolling. You find one of his fire engine red boots lying on its side half in a small gully that one of the landing struts of the copter must have put in the field.
There so many shell casings, Cinch. Fifty? More? Left like popcorn in a theater without any usher to come clean it up.
I crouch down among the shell casings, drop my helmet among them and pick up the boot. Turn it in my hands.
I close my eyes and remember what I witnessed. Gigg just facing down the gunship, telling us to get out... the sound of the chainguns firing as we make it to the gate... there's no way...
"Gigg, whevere you are..." I say quietly, my throat chokes a little, "its'a better fuggin' place'n here..." I look up at the rain and feel it on my face. I nod, that slow, knowing nod when you realize a truth. "Thank you... Gigg... For what'cha did and for what'cha were tryin' to do... even though... some things are right impossible... never stopped you tryin'. Wish I could tell you to your face."
His face... poor, glorious man. Only now that he's gone I can start to see past it...
I stay there a good long while.
These streets all know me the shadows whisper • Tonight keeps looking back at me with neon eyes • And if they've seen you they're not talking • You think by now maybe they'd sympathize • Out in the rain I keep on walking • Out in the rain like the brokenhearted do • I could be wrong but that's where you'll find me • Out in the rain just looking for you • The sky is cryin' the wind's against me • Blows like some fugitive with nowhere left to hide • I'm down to nothing but just this heartache • That I keep carrying around inside • Out in the rain I keep on walking • Out in the rain like the brokenhearted do • I could be wrong but that's where you'll find me • Out in the rain just looking for you • I take no comfort in my companion • The rain is coming down now wild and uncontrolled • Don't try to stop me you best take shelter • Tonight the sky will not be consoled
I'll ask the question I already know the answer to, just to see if she knows. Calling out from the darkness, the silhouette of a mask being removed and held out to the side by a hand, "Who's that pokin' around lookin' for the livin' in the thick of the dead?" I stand slowly, and there's a quick silent twinkle of lightning reflecting off the motorcycle forks that are bracing and framing my knees. "Depot is full of revelin' tonight, all except for one who won't be consoled. Ain't that right?"
There he is, through the rain. Unmistakable.
He finds me there, down on one knee talkin' to a dead man that happens to be him.
At first, I just look up, eyes narrow like I'm seeing a ghost. Hell... that's what I am seein' right? My keen sense for such things doesn't scream danger, it feels, actually, remarkably serene.
I slowly stand... scoop up my helmet in my hand to hang there against my thigh.
"How the fugg are you up round walkin, Gigg? I saw you tilt-on with that gunship..." I have to speak up against the sound of the rain.
Almost disbelieving I walk slowly towards him until I'm quite close. . My voice falls shallow and foll o'cracks, "tell me I ain't dreamin' you up..." I reach out and touch him on the chest... if he allows.
Part of me expects him to disappear like memory.
I could mask and spare her the burden of my shame, but she came out tonight, hunting, searching, and she deserves to know everything.
She freezes mid-touch, and I speak softly to help break the spell, the curse, "After you escaped, you know, they played this guessin' game to see to got dibs on my gear, laughin' and cursin'. They shot me a few more times long after I was dead, just to make sure there wasn't any empty spaces." I inch closer to make it easier for her to touch, "Go ahead, Driver, touch me, put your finger in the holes, if you don't believe I am real."
OOC: I don't think Cinch has seen Gigg unmasked yet. If you want to look, go straight to +3 Hx with Gigg and take s-harm.
Yeah. I look. He's a man, a complex, tortured man, but kept hidden behind that mask all this time is a good man. I'm sure o'that.
I touch him, palm on his chest, fingers touchin' too... I don't go so far as to go pokin' around those bullet holes. Don't need to.
"How is this possible?" ain't no such thing as a ghost, he's alive... how the fugg is he alive? "You got torn up enough to put ten men down permanent... Gigg... I been followin' you for days... accidental-like... but I can't shake the feelin' that our roads are somehow crossed... where's this miracle takin' you next?"
My hand runs slowly down his chest a couple inches, not sexually, but just feelin' him. Then I pull it back.
"I reckon, I might at well give you ride..." more than an offer, there's a breathless wonder in my voice. I want to know more.
And I look at his face... Gigg, what do I see?
Who is this person that looks me in the face and doesn't flinch or look away? No one ever does that. No one, except this one..
"I grew up here, long time ago when I was a little teeter. I 'member walking around all this soft grass hand-in-hand with him. He's my daddy, my pops..." I trail off for a moment lost in returning memories. "I don't 'member when, either he threw us out, or mamma took me an' left, but ever since then he's been talkin' to me, tellin' me what to do, gettin' me to do stuff for him. Usually bad stuff that he couldn't use his cowboys for. And all these years I didn't 'member none of it. Had to die to free of 'im, I suppose."
I slip the mask back over my face, "That little girl... her name was Li... we found out she was Foster's little girl, and he's been holdin' her, using her like a bit an' bridle on Foster. Gettin' her to do whatever he wanted, needed. Like he was doin' with me. I was pretty sure she was my sister. An' I know what happens when he gets done with you. Who he gives you away to. What he makes ya into. Me an' Last tried bustin' her out, an' we almost did it, but he'd rather kill her than let us get away with her and so because of me, that little girl is dead. She didn't do nothin' to nobody, ya know? Just one day, hell shows up."
"So, I came back to set things right. Somehow. Some way. But, your part in all this has been a puzzler. Unlike the rest of us blazebrains, you don't do nothing outta vengeance, madness, or stockpilin' jingle. So, why are you here, Stazie? Not just standing here in front of me, but here. You were them, but now you're one of us. How far you wanna go? We're just toys and games for folks like him. The sky is cryin' tonight for her and nothin' can bring it peace, and while the rest of Depot dances and drinks and scrogs, you, Driver, you are standing here offerin' a dead man a ride. But where? Just to the next stop, or for the long haul? You're as pure as I'm black, but are you gonna take on my sin, Stazie, and make it yours? Tell me, why are you here, tonight?"
It's not like it doesn't affect me... I feel that pit in my stomach as I see for the first time, up close, what's happened to this man. But I don't let it show, not so much, and I still see the man... I'm guessin' a lot of people only see what they see.
I listen as he tells his story. Quiet. Nod when noddin's called for. And there's one relief... he knows. I don't have to be the one to tell him the little girl didn't make it. How I'd hate to add to this man's torture even now... at least he knows.
And he calls me by name, he can tell that hits me. Some folks know my name... not so many but it's out there. I'm surprised to hear it from him.
"It ain't... like I don't feel those things," he talks of vengeance, of madness, I clutch my wet shirt around the heart, "but I ain't gonna let 'em rule me..."
He's pourin' out his heart to me, without thinkin' I pour a bit back, "I didn't put so much thought into it... comin' here... more like every day doin' what I was doing was eatin' at me... bite by bite... every day sittin' on the edge'o this place and pushin' people over..." I shake my head and take a deep, difficult breath. "I just had enough... just took me a couple'a days to set a stash... leave a few notes... simple as that. Here I am... I learned that it ain't so simple."
A long nod, telling a truth, "but I wake up every day and it's fuggin' gift bein' alive and knowin' I earned it... I think... I hope I done more good than harm. Maybe my bein' here means something... to someone."
"And my hands ain't fuggin' pure..." I wipe the rain from my cheek, "I spend every day tryin' to wash away what I was doin' five days a week... but I don't have no plans... road led me to you so here I am. Long as you need me."
I work the courage to ask the question I probably don't wanna know the answer to, "Hey? Tum-Tum said the Irons is gone. So, where'd you take Krin? Did she make it?"
It wasn't spoken but it's not quite true... "long as you need me" not quite. Long as you ain't making things worse.
So I nod and breath a silent sigh of relief when his first suggestion is goin' to get some folks outta harms way. I can get behind that.
"Krin's fine, just over yonder gettin' drunk..." I gesture towards high-rent. "if you wanna get to the junkyard by night. No faster way."
My default is confidence... even if I don't mean it. This time, I do.