You follow after Sierra and find that she's in the bathroom. One of your male workers, Wisher, has eyes still full of the fear from earlier, but he's not gone yet, hasn't run or given up. He's loitering in the hall by the bathroom. Oh, and Sasha is following you. She looks like she has something to say.Sierra
The thrumming pulse of all that happened before slows and you find a sense of calm amid all the pressure. This bathroom's a whole lot nicer than the common one for the people who live on your floor. What's one amenity in here that reminds you of the outside?
You hear the whisper-soft whir of a motor, something hidden in the walls, probably.
What do you do?
I take a deep breath, and knock at the bathroom door.
When the shaking stops I start to actually notice Esco's bathroom. It isn't nice but it's a palace in comparison to what I and the rest of the Irons have - as far as I know. The toilet is actually porcelain and the tile floor is real, glass and terracotta in a pattern that would be real pretty if it was cleaner.
I don't want to stand, standing means facing... myself and well... everyone. I'd rather stay in here for as long as I can.
I sigh heavily when I hear Esco. Fate never cared what I wanted.
Sasha looks like she wants to say something, but you warn her off. She leaves in a huff.
I lean against the wall next to her, and look down at her. I pull out a toothpick from my jacket pocket, and stick it in my mouth — my replacement cig, I quit a few years back.
I bite my lip hard, but it doesn't help, the sob rips through me. There is so much, so much, I can't put my thoughts in order. My walls fall and for the first time since I found myself in the DVFP I cry.
As Sierra breaks down, the light whirring sound in the wall happens again.
It's a crime she's hurting — maybe an even bigger one I can't get her to stop.
My eyes are wide with fear, true and sudden fear.
"Do you have a death wish?" I hiss, "You can't touch me. She's watching."
I look around and try to calm down. There are cameras her too. They are all probably watching right now. Fear was useful in one thing at least, my eyes may be wet, but I'm not crying anymore.
I walk back over to Esco and as quietly as I can say, "I know I sound crazy. People don't believe in the feed, but I remember everything from the outside and it's real Esco. Reese was only ever nice to me and look at what she did to him."
I step back. "Frack, I don't even know if he's alive or dead. I never meant to bring this down on you or Diamond. Esco, I'm so sorry, if you want me to leave I'll understand."
Whether there's some fat cooker on the "outside" she's fixin' to hide from, or someone's conspirin' to hurt her, and the folks around her... The only thing I know is I don't want her to leave. The defiant part in me, especially... But another part, too.
I shake my head.
"I wish you understood." I say, "I'm dangerous." I blanch, remembering, "I don't know if I can face them, down there.
If it makes me a coward, it makes me a coward, but I nod and walk into Esco's bedroom. It's at least four times the size of mine, but mine is mine , I think fiercely. Which reminds me of the "new" bed - that's mine too. I'm building something here, that's another reason to stay.
I sit on the chair in the corner, it looks nice, but the cushion sinks even under my slight weight. Still, the only other place to sit is the bed and I am not inviting that trouble.
"Thanks, Esco. I'm just gonna calm myself down. Let me know if you hear about, Reese?" I meet his eyes full on since the first time he came in, I know they're wet, but I want to see him. "I mean it, thank you."
(Rolled: 2d6+3 . Rolls: 6, 4. Total: 13)
I realize that if I was probably anyone else, this would have gone so differently. I wonder if Esco is disappointed.
I wish I knew how to touch people. I wish I knew how to be open, but I don't know how to keep Gloriana from invading everything I do.
I wish he was still touching me.
"No, I'll...I'll go home. I just need a moment. And I need to know what happened to Reese. " I can't stay. He doesn't even know what that means. But, what if, I look towards the whirling in the walls... "Do you hear that sound?"
I lick my lips, temptation settling low in my stomach.
"And I already told you. I'm dangerous, Esco. I won't be the gal who puts a target on your back." I step back later, breathing harder than I should be. "But thank you, you're a good man."
(Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 4. Total: 8)
(Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 1, 1. Total: 3)
What do you do?
Maybe, that I'm not alone. It's the most seductive thing I've experienced in my life. More seductive than any of the drugs, drinks, or entertainment Gloriana ever lauded on me.
There are feed-believers here, but they are mostly religious fanatics and paranoid shut-ins. No one with actual knowledge of the outside. No one with real ideas of what to do about it.
If Esco is willing to put his neck out on the line with Gloriana, whether he even knows what that means or not, what sort of... friend?... ally?... person would I be if I didn't help him with his problems.
Though I do seem to cause more than I should. And Reese...
I shut that line of thinking down. If Ziggy isn't giving up the cargo, even after whatever deal Esco gave her, then who knows if any report she gave can be trusted.
Part of me knows it's better not to hope, but I can't help it. I just can't accept anything as truth right now. So, I have to hope. Hope I didn't Frack everything up, hope Gloriana doesn't send something worse after me, hope Reese is ok, and hope that Esco believes me.
I nod at Esco, "I'll do what I can."
Sasha leads you out of Diamond and into the main shaft.
Norvell's waiting outside Diamond with three of his fellow miners, all waiting for you, Esco. This is Norvell:
"Esco. Ma'am." He ducks his head to each of you, his form of greeting. "Esco, Ziggy's thugs stole our cargo. You and I both know they don't give a whit about borax and the stuff we trade. She's here because of Diamond. I heard about what you did to her gang, and you know she's gonna answer that. It's only gonna get worse. How are you going to resolve this?"
"Sir, my name is Sierra, pleasure to make your acquaintance. I sincerely wish it was under better circstances."
I smile at him. "I'm a friend of Reese's." I let my smile fade, You haven't heard anything have you?"
"Reese defended the bus from attackers. He was up on the turret when it rolled over. Twice. I'm sorry, but he didn't make it. He was a good man. I'm sure he counted himself lucky to have a friend who asked after him."
"That's, he was a good man."
My hand hurts, when I think to pay attention to it, I realize it's because I'm digging my own nails into my palm. I force my fist open and breathe.
"Mr. Norvell, I am not from the Diamond, but I am a resident of the Irons like you. And I promise, we won't let anyone stick us with a bad deal." I lick my lips and glance at Esco. I wonder if he'll recognize my next words as his own, "We founded The Irons to get away from all them blazin' rocksuckers, excuse my language. If they think they can hurt our own, then we'll aim to make them regret it."
Esco and Sierra,
Norvell chuckles at Sierra's saucy language and seems much more open to a conversation. Esco, those barbs that were at the tip of your tongue might not be needed after all.
As you're looking for a way to walk back to Norvell's opening salvo, you see several people coming up the main shaft. They're carrying something. No, check that. As they come closer in the dim light of naked bulbs strung overhead, you see they're carrying someone in their arms. Someone calls for Fleece, the closest thing The Irons has to a doctor. Esco, how did you find Fleece, and what did you do to convince them to come work here?
Not far behind the group carrying that body up to the doc is none other than Cinch, who has a woman and a little kid walking with her.
What do you do?
You find Esco in the mine shaft, not in Diamond, but he's just outside of it. Sierra's there, too. They're chatting with Norvell and a few miners. You've noticed everyone seems on edge in here, worried and carrying weapons openly, which is unusual.
What do you do?
It's pretty hard not to notice the atmosphere. Everyone's edgy and weapons... yeah more than usual. Wonder if the bus has something to do with it.
I must look a sight, helmet low on my head, little bloody up to the elbows and escorting, as best I can, these two, mother worse for wear then her son.
Sierra's here? Always good to catch up... sometimes we don't have too much to say to each other but that hardly seems to matter. I tip my head to her, as usual.
"Esco!" I call out when I see him, "Got a question for ya," I smile softly at Rufe and Winkle, hoping for patience as I wait for him to finish his current conversation.
"Looks like a hell of day all 'round..."
Secretly, though? Fleece totally had the hots for me... Don't know if that's still true or not, given that we've had some time to get to know each other, but there was a time (back before I had the cash-flow the Diamond has now) where I paid out for her services in bed. That's been over for a while, though. She needed the jingle more than she needed a hot piece of arse.
I straighten up when Cinch comes over, askin' for me by name. I nod, and hold up a finger without uncrossin' my arms. I look to Norvell.
Then I remember who Fleece is...
I look around towards the call, hope painfully filling my chest, moving the broken bits around, hoping to see who came in.
Cinch would, "Cinch, who needs Fleece?"
I give Esco a bit of side-eye, but let him play hardball if he wants. It's his place after all.
Sasha takes off towards "the clinic", not running, but moving quickly.
I stand there in what should be the delightful cool of the mines, clothing damp from the burn starting to feel chill down my back.
Does Sierra know Reese? Pretty sure I've seem them together now and again. I step over nearer Sierra and give her the news straight, "Reese... the bus crashed, some sorta chase and... and the crew got the worst of it. Reese... his leg's busted up bad... real bad..."
Delivering news like this I try to keep it cool. Keep it neutral. As a courier often I bring not just goods and folks, but news... and sometimes I have to tell people some foul kinds of stuff. Part of the job. But this is more personal and my voice cracks as I watch Sierra's face.
"I reckon he'll live. Sierra he'll make it... only one I found alive but I got'im," I fight back tears as I nod and look slightly down to hide my eyes. Looking at her any more right now would be too much.
"Cinch..." I look towards Reese. "I got to... thank you Cinch. Will you meet me later, sunset, at our place?"
I turn to Esco, "I'll be back soon, we can finish our talk, but I have to..." I look towards Reese, hoping he understands.
"Yeah... I got a lot goin' on today but... yeah. Go," a quick nod to Sierra, she needs to see her friend. Let him know she's there. I get that. I'm thankful for that.Took me a moment to realize where she means. But I get it, I'll be there.
I take a second to get myself together, do not want to talk to Esco of all people on a day like this, while looking vulnerable.
I wait my turn... impatient as hell but it shouldn't show.
I reach out my hand.
Sierra, please go here.
Esco, it sounds like you're trying to Manipulate Norvell into paying you to pay Ziggy, right? Let's see some dice.
(Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 3, 5. Total: 10)
He pulls a gold watch out of his pocket. It's his gold watch, Esco. He's used that thing in the mines for as long as you've known him. And he's handing it over to you to keep his friends and family safe.
Don't look like i'm listening to that conversation, but I am. I'm pretty good at looking disinterested... part of the courier thing. Take good and bad, weird and disturbing all in stride. Just do the job. But I take it all in.
I had taken a moment to comfort Winkle as I was waiting, crouch down to offer him a brief face-to-face. When Esco calls, though, I'm immediately up and walk over to him, a moment of silence before I speak, just a little flicker of the eyes as I can tell, heck, I know first hand there's more going on than just someone needing work... but I'm going to stick to my promises.
"Esco, I picked up a couple'a strays got their ride taken out by 'snakes," I turn my head towards Rufe and Winkle, I introduce her but not the boy. Pretty sure Esco wouldn't care if I did, "this is Rufe... she's banged up a bit but looking for work and I think she's capable. Thought you could do well for each other."
I tip my head asking her to come closer, introduce herself.
Winkle, the kid, moves up and hugs her side, protective of her. She smooths his hair and looks at you for a moment.
Cinch, while Rufe is talking, Winkle shifts around so he can look back at you. His eyes are full of worry, he can sense the tension in his mother's voice, and he doesn't know Esco at all.
All I can do is meet his eye give him a confident nod, I silently mouth the words, "it's ok," and listen.
Finally though, I have a second of peace... what the hell actually happened? Borax bus got nuked by raiders... who? I should have asked Reese for more info. He mentioned Zig... yeah ok. There's another someone we gotta watch out for.
Snakes... ok they're just being snakes... but the bus. That's been a fixture 'reound the Irons for just about forever. Now it's wasted... I wonder if it can be fixed. Would anyone want to crew it even if it can? Reese could still handle a gun.
Keep my ears discreetly open and wait for Esco to make his call.
I sigh, and rub my stubble.
She rubs Winkle's head, then quirks her mouth as she considers lodging. "Can I have a look around at options for where we can lay our head?"
Assuming you don't object to that, she'll head in with Sasha, who just came back from Fleece's.
A Esco looks over I straighten, but his offer of a drink lets me relax, and he can see my shoulders slouch slightly and my "on the job" expression melts into a near-smile.
"That... is the best idea ever," I wave to Winkle and Rufe as they go with Sasha, good to know I'll probably be seeing them again. "You got five to join me?"
I smile back with a genuine smile, "at least," I answer and gently tap-tap a balled up hand on his chest to return the gesture. I know I'm not the only one had a taxing day... can't wait to hear the story.
"Well come on!" I hustle past him and into the Diamond.