[Snowpocalypse] Pierways (L 4.3)

edited April 2014 in Snowpocalypse
To Lemma:

You and Marmot hop on your skis and head out towards Navy Pier. It's late afternoon and bright, a little warm, after-effects of that damned volcano.

On the way, Marmot says to you, "You know... we could've capped Butter when it was just us three. Maybe should've. Her family would be pissed, but we could pay a bloodguild for it, be done with the whole thing."

The Navy Pier looms overhead. A bit of a line to get in, but before long, you and Marmot are walking up to see Poke. The place smells different, you notice that as soon as you walk close. The formaldehyde-bleach smell is gone, and you smell, just faintly, dried blood, puss, probably even urine. It's not pleasant.

There are a couple guards near the entrance. Would they know you, Lemma?


  • "Hmm. I wanted to deal fair with her, but she definitely crossed a line. Once I saw a way to clear it up without anyone dying, I took it, but... How much is a bloodguild? Might need to keep that option on the table."

    I doubt the guards know me. I'm not over here that much, and definitely haven't had run-ins with guards.

    I'm on business, though, so I'll just walk like I belong there and see what happens.

  • edited April 2014
    To Lemma:

    Marmot nods, "Two jingle for most. Butter might be three. Thing is, she owes everyone now, so she's actually more valuable. Kinda upside down. As long as she's good for it, the family will rpotect her until she pays up. If she's ever even stevens, she's worthless."

    The guard, a big chubster named, of all things, Slob, puts a hand up, blocking your path, "Get in line, sweetie. Nobody jumps. You sick? You wait."

    What do you do?
  • I shrug. "Perfect health, thanks. Got business with Poke-- some gear to sell her."

    I sniff. "Stuff she must be running short of, by the smell. I think she'll squeeze me in."
  • Lemma, let's see you Manipulate these two to get in.
  • (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 6, 6. Total: 13)
  • Slob narrows his eyes, then, like a light bulb comes on, he says, "Fucken Lemma!" He waves you in.

    You pass by a couple who are walking out slowly. The guy, some merchant in jeans and a big shiny coat, he's got his arm protectively over his girl, who looks sick as Hell. They did not get good news, it feels like. Marmot follows you quietly.

    (by the by, did you try and hide any weapons at the check-in at the gate?)

    Poke is sitting in a swivel chair, in a daze, not looking up when you walk in. She looks like she lives in the clothes she's wearing, eyes sunken, no make-up. "What's wrong?" She asks the question like it was beaten into her. This is the level of customer service and doctor compassion she offers.

    What do you do?
  • Do they take knives? I wasn't hiding it, so if so, they've got it and the rifle.

    "Nothing wrong with me, Poke. I came across some stuff I thought you could use, was hoping we could come up with a swap."

    This is the first time I've seen her since he died. This is... bad. How bad, I wonder?
  • Reading Poke:

    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 1, 6. Total: 9)
  • Poke stirs from her stupor, looking up when she hears your voice. She peers for a second, fog lifting a few inches from her brain. "Lemma?" She looks past you, at Marmot, then back to you.

    Poke straightens up a little, "Stuff to trade? Yeah... that's good. We can trade out. Council wants more supplies, and Underlake's running low on shit. What do you have? What do you, uh, do you need?"
  • I dig out my bag, start laying things on the table: little vials of drugs, a fistful of syringes, coils of tubing, rolls of gauze, a couple of fat, sloshing IV bags.

    "For trade, I'd take pretty much anything-- or just credit for treatment." A thought. "Unless you can get your hands on some fans, about this big across? Sent some people out looking a while ago, but they must have come up empty."

    I shrug.

    "Figured you were the only person around who could make good use of all this. Better you than me, or that butcher Nedd."

    That definitely use to be true, anyway. And they were proud of it. Hope it still is.
  • edited April 2014
    Poke rises, walking a bit closer to look at the trade. She licks her lips as she sees the gear on the table, nodding slowly, picking through some pieces, especially the gauze and the IV bags. "This looks good." She looks at you, "Where did you find it? Any more?"

    As she comes closer, she smells unwashed, Lemma. She has track marks on her left arm.

    Yes, she ignored the barb to Nedd.
  • A little half-laugh at the question about where I got it. That's a story I can't tell.

    "Unfortunately, it's all I have, and it made its way to me through a... complicated series of trades."

    I frown, thinking it over.

    "I think the trail ends at Kemper. No idea what kind of stocks he has, though."

    Jesus. This kid is important-- the best doctor in five hundred frozen miles, probably-- and she's working hard on slow motion suicide.

    So far, just treating her like the artist she used to be seems to have made a little difference, but...

    "Poke, no one should expect you to be okay after what happened, but... have you considered a vacation? Maybe a change of venue? It can't be easy still working in the same room."
  • Poke keeps fiddling with the IV bags, reading the information on them carefully, practiced motions, she knows this stuff. The mention of Kemper makes her nod, agreeing with the idea that it would, or could, come from him.

    You broach the idea of a vacation, and she stops moving, stops cataloguing, sort of stops interacting. She stands there, still for long moments.

    "Not gonna happen," she says with finality. Then, in a leaden voice, "I'm working in his tomb, Lemma. My tomb." She looks up at you, meets your eyes with her dead ones.

    Poke licks her lips to speak, "I don't make deals anymore, Lemma. That's the Council's deal. I can write up what you brought, what it's worth. But it's up to them now." She glances towards the guards, on the edge of your vision, probably listening in, too.
  • "The Council. Sure."

    I've gone a little flat, too, which happens when I get mad. I was worried she wouldn't be able to recover, but they haven't even let her try.

    Plus, I'm a little sensitive about working under guard. No way to live.

    My hold: What does she wish I'd do?
  • "Yup." Poke answers like it's a fact, nothing to argue.

    Get her the fuck out of here. Or kill her. Depends on the moment which one she would want more.
  • "Okay, write me up and I'll talk to them." I glance at the guard, more to let Poke know I know than to get any real read.

    She's got some paper out for writing the receipt, right? I'll pull out my marker. (Keep one in my pockets, of course.) I lean over it, like I'm examining it, marking it up.

    You don't belong to them.
    I'm getting you out.
    Don't give up.

    I flip it around to her like I'm asking approval. Once she's seen it, I stack it with the receipt and put them both in a pocket.

    Going to need a plan. The rest of the time I'm here, I'm observing. Her shop, the guards, the layout of the walkways outside. Mental images. I'll sketch it out, later, if I have time.

    "Great. Where am I taking this?"
  • Poke reads it, looks up at you. She takes a breath, holds it, then lets it out slow, nodding once. She writes back:

    I'm not worth dying for.
    Be careful.

    "Council's for an official at the radio station, just a floor down." Poke answers, same tone.
  • I nod. No intention of dying.

    "Thanks, Poke. Take care of yourself."

    Let's go get paid, and get a look around.
  • edited April 2014
    You head out of Poke's, get a nod from the guard, then down a set of concrete stairs with rotting industrial carpet, past some people just sitting there.

    Just outside, you see the marker for the Council's office, looks like this:

    Then inside the next building, which is cleaner, with a couple more guards with rifles standing around.

    Here's the door to the offices:

    Inside is a big counter, and a gruff-looking man you've dealt with. The gatekeeper for the Council, who all live behind that counter. It's Ninety Roll. He eyes you and Marmot. When was the last time you dealt with him?

    He looks over the note from Poke, licks his lips and asks, "Credit or trade? And if trade, what do ya want?"
  • Pier's one of the places with, you know, public infrastructure. They've got their own people, but they do need me in for bigger stuff sometimes, tinkering with the generators or radios. Ninety Roll handles the payouts for those, too.

    "Well, I'm looking for some particular chunks of scrap-- fans, about so big across, if you've got 'em. I'll take the rest in beer and groceries."
  • Ninety Roll licks his lips again, "Fans? Yeah, we got that. Beer and groceries, too. That's no problems, Lemma." He pauses, peers at you, "You know, you should consider opening up a shop here. I heard you did some great work lately, putting shit together with what little you got. We got lots more here. Lots more you could do."

    He'll set you up with a palette of beer and foodstuffs, add in four industrial fan blades and the actual blades from a small chopper, not too much rust. The whole thing is on a bigass wooden palette, though. Too much to easily move.

    You could rent a crawler or just buy a few folks work to haul it back to the shop.
  • Hmm.

    "Appreciate the thought, 90. What's the usual arrangement for someone with skills, setting up a shop like that?"

    Someone like Poke, maybe.

    "Let's set up a crawler for this on the way out, could we? Take the cost off the top."

    With the fans, I should be able to get the van set up, which will come in handy for times like this.
  • (You, Marmot and Ninety Roll are walking outside of the office now during this conversation. He put a "Out Till" clock on the glass door.)

    As Ninety takes out a key to a metal storage shed and leads the pair of you in to see the metal shelves of just sheer stuff. He answers, "For folks sellin regular shit, they rent a stall and go at it. If they can make enough for a place to sleep, then they can stay. If not, they lose their shit and we kick them out on their asses." He pulls down the industrial fan blades after climbing up on a ladder to fetch them, shows them off.

    "But for summin like you, well, highly skilled labor?" Ninety says as he looks at you and Marmot. "We'd offer you a shop, a staff, too. Our current engineers aren't up to your, ah, level. Whatever you make now, we can double it, and keep you busy."
  • edited April 2014
    Maybe time to be a little more direct.

    I nod. "That would be a lot of jingle. And having stuff like this work with would be nice." All true. "That the kind of deal Poke has?"
  • Ninety Roll makes a face like he tasted something sour. "It was the deal she had. Rough times for that little girl now. She's had it hard since she lost her, ah, her brother."
  • "Yeah, looks like."

    I shrug.

    "Look, I appreciate the offer, but I like my independence. Feel free to call me in for jobs, though."

    My mind's made up, and I'm not going to push it. Maybe Ninety is sharp enough to follow the trail I laid-- treating Poke like that is a big warning sign to other people who might be tempted. Maybe not.
  • Ninety Roll huffs a breath through his nose. He'd hoped he had you hooked, maybe a little, showing all this gear and jingle's worth of stuff. "Well, if you change your mind, let me know."

    He gets to work setting up a crawler to take you and Marmot out. When he walks away for a moment to chat with someone, Marmot moves up close, "I'd never work for that fucker. Not after what they did to your friend. These people are insane."
  • I nod firmly. "Not a chance. Just being polite, and probing a bit about what happened with her."

    "Decent odds I won't be welcome around here in a few weeks."
  • Marmot thinks about it for a second, then asks, "You don't think they'd blow up your shop and drag you here, right? I mean... they haven't before, so it'd be stupid."

    Ninety Roll motions you both over as the crawler driver starts up the bit thing on tank treads. They're going to open up the gates for it. Big Hum-Vee looking thing. Mag.
  • "It would be stupid, but... it would also fit a pattern, wouldn't it? I'm starting to think I've been a little lax about security. Might have to do something about that."
  • Marmot whispers, "Taking that Hummer would be a start." She gives you a grin like "I'm joking.... but really, I'm not really."

    The driver, a big burly guy named Fluke, is loading the palette with a winch and pulley system. He calls over, "Hey ladies, it's warm in the cab, so ride up front if you want. Go ahead and grab seats." He chats with Ninety a bit longer.

    What do you do?
  • I return Marmot's grin. If I'm about to become permanently unwelcome at the Pier anyway... It's a thought. On the other hand, I'll probably be relying on surprise to spring Poke, so I'm not sure I should kick off hostilities just yet. Maybe I could grab one on my way out with her?

    Mix it into the plan. I'll slide into the cab and think for a bit.
  • The ride to your workshop is uniquely comfortable. The Hum-vee is in good (not great) condition, and the heater works. It's toasty. Marmot sits in the back where the upholstery is in pretty rough shape. Looks like they hauled around a small bear, or a pack of wild dogs, and they chewed and clawed it the hell up.

    Fluke is a rolly-polly sort, chatty unless nobody responds, then he just hums a wordless tune. After a mile out of the gate, he asks, "Lots of trade there. And fan blades? Heard you're a bit of a tinkerer, right? Whatcha workin on?" You notice he's watching Marmot in the rear-view.

    Marmot, for her part, is playing the quiet assistant. But you know she's got a wicked little shiv in her right hand. Just in case.
  • I relax a little. I'm not taking it-- not yet. Would be easy enough - stick a knife in Fluke, roll him out the door, clean the blood off the upholstery when I get home. But the time isn't right to fire my first shot against the Pier.

    I'm not much of a chatter, but I can be polite, even to someone who I just visualized stabbing. I explain about the van project, and say the trade was from a big payout from a job.

    Probably trail off to silence after not too long, though.
  • Fluke gets the hint when you trail off, and he hums merrily along after trying to engage Marmot in conversation and only getting monosyllabic answers, not at all cordial, either.

    After half an hour, you're right in front of the workshop. There's nobody here, which is a relief, I'd imagine. Fluke hops out, starts unloading the palette. "Where do you want it?" he asks with an armload of groceries.

    I assume you have him bring things in? Marmot gives you a look, like she doesn't trust him.
  • Hey, if he starts something, it would totally justify killing him and taking his car. I don't like lifting heavy things any more than the next person.

    I appreciate Marmot's paranoia after the last week. I give her a nod, like, I see what you're saying, but I'll point him to the shop.

  • Fluke carries in the groceries, makes three more trips, then comes back for the fans. It's starting to snow, big flakes.

    Marmot won't let him take the fans, but Fluke just shrugs, "Good snowball weather coming down. You girls need anything else?"
  • "Think we're good, thanks."

    I'll pop open a beer for me and Marmot. Got some things to think about.

    With the fans finally in hand, I'll get the van fixed up.

    And I want to sit down with some sketches and think about how to get Poke out.
  • Fluke pauses, like maybe you might invite him in? But you don't, and he goes on. The Hum-vee motors off and you get to work. And drinking.

    As you're under the van, pulling apart part of the chassis you affix the fans, Marmot is above you, holding up parts of the engine, looking down through the gaps at you from time to time. She asks, casually, "You and Dubstep. Is that a thing?" Maybe it's the beer? She's never asked before.
  • I usually wouldn't answer, or at least not much, but maybe it is the beer.

    "It's... well, it's some kind of thing."

    I'm twisting a ratchet while I talk, not really looking.

    "I like that it's simple. And, well... it had been a while, you know?"

    Okay. that's tight enough. On to the next one-- slide a washer on and clamp down the nut.

    "It's not as much of a thing as she'd like it to be, I don't think. And... I'm a little worried that's not fair to her, you know?"
  • Marmot shifts her hands around, pulling up so you can get to the next fixture. "What does she want it to be? Has she said? She doesn't seem like one to talk about much anything... how do you know?" She knows you know, you just said so. She's curious how you know.

    Oddly enough, Marmot's expression doesn't look like she finds Dubstep repugnant, she isn't jealous. She's got this curious little smirk, though. She thinks this is interesting as all hell, like a puzzle is slowly unlocking in front of her.
  • "Nah, she hasn't said anything like that. In fact, everything she says is perfectly casual. And maybe I'm wrong. But there's an intensity there, you know? And I don't really match it. I just... accept it."

    I shrug and start slipping a belt over then fan shaft.

    "Maybe that's just how it is sometimes." I gesture over at the disassembled satellite. "Emitters and receptors."
  • Marmot snickers at the analogy, and much like you, she accepts the explanation, the difference between you and Debstep.

    After you finish the bolts and start affixing the new fan blades, she's help you you pry open a casing, and asks, "So it's just the job for you? And the relief of pressure from time to time?" She's grinning again, this line of questioning amuses her, especially since you're answering so openly.

    "Always girls?" she slides in.
  • Let's take those in reverse order. Easy one first.

    "No. Not even usually girls."

    The next one will take a pause.

    "I don't know if it's that my work is my life. It's more like... whatever my life is, the work is how it happens. Like, Seatbelt's kin, so I planned his heist to pay his debts. Poke is hurt and in trouble and she reminds me of... me, so I'm breaking her out."

    "And... if you ever need anything from me, you know you'll get it."

    "Does seem to always end up here, with tools and a plan. But that's okay, too. It has its own satisfactions: fixing the world, pushing back the cold."

    "You've gotten a taste for them already. I've seen that much. Maybe it won't be as much of your life as it is mine, but you're never going back."

    Whew. That was a lot.

    "What are you doing when I'm not making you work? Are you with someone?"
  • Marmot listens intently, making noises at times, encouraging you with, "Oh yeah?" or "Uh huh" when you fall into work mode.

    Then you turn it on her, asking her if she's with someone. "Me? Hell naw, Lemma." She laughs, smiles and looks away. "I had a boy, once. His name was Hershey. But he wasn't a Dumpie. He tried to make it work. We both did, but it was hard. On both of us. Some of the Dumpies would hunt him down, beat on him. You know, tell him to just go 'way, fuck off, he was an outsider." She's working, but you hear a bit of emotion in her voice when she relays the tale.

    "After a while, I just got tired of it. Seeing the bruises on him, having to talk to my cousins when I hated them for what they were doing, listening to them all talk about Hershey like I wasn't there. Did the math. Told him I didn't like him anymore. Sick of his weak ass, all kinds of mean shit." Her tone is rough, unnatural, forced. "He didn't believe me, said I was lying. Said I still loved him." She pauses on that, muses on the moment.

    "He was so... fucking stupid." Marmot continues. "He kept pushing. And pushing. Wouldn't listen. And then, I just... I lost it. My Dumpie friends came in on our argument, thought he was gonna hurt me, and they went. Off. Beat him bad, Lemma. Real bad." She huffs a bit. "And I helped em. Ran him off. Hershey the stupid outsider. Ran him the fuck off."

    "So... no." Marmot says at the end. "I'm not with anybody... and before you ask, he found another girl. They've got two beautiful kids. He's okay."
  • "I lost someone, too. On the way here. Name was Marlon. And... and a little girl.

    "Caravan we were in was hit by bandits. We scattered. Car ended up flipped down this crevasse, drive shaft cracked. Marlon's leg was... and... well, neither of them could walk. Took me hours just to get dug out, losing heat the whole time."

    "That was the first time I could hear the static, see the lights. I knew-- no one in the world could know better than me. Heat transfer, temperature gradients, coefficients of friction, I could see everything. And I knew I could just barely make it back to shelter if I left right then."

    "It wasn't the... human thing to do. A normal person, a real person, would have kept trying, died in the snow pulling them on a litter or something."

    "But I knew, and I didn't. Crawled back into town right before they would have had to cut bits off me. Alone."

    Am I done? Seems like there should be more to do... No. Snap the casing shut.

    "So, you know, the work, and letting off steam, and helping who you can. It's a life."
  • edited April 2014
    Marmot listens. She takes in a breath at your confession, but her look is one of compassion, not judgement. If you can read that kind of stuff. For some reason, with her, you can, right?

    At the end, she nods, like it's a good enough summation. "Yep. It's a life."

    The van's ready.

    --END SCENE--
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