[Big Maul] Morning Glory (P 1.4)

edited April 2014 in Big Maul

The rays of the early morning sun warm the leather of your gown. You're not sure when you wake, but it's early. The smell of the earth is strong here, musty and old. This is how the world was, before people. It's how it will return, how it is returning, bit by bit.

What's the biggest scar you have, Playboy? How did you get it?

As you wake, you feel something warm against your back and butt, something soft. It's that No kid, No Sliding. What did you do the last time you woke up with her huddled against you?

What do you do?


  • edited April 2014
    I was dreaming about it again, wasn't I? In my sleep, I remember bits from the time before I found Hood; before I was safe. It's fading quickly, this memory, but I was chained between two trucks outside -- when The Breeze came, I was powerless to leave, but I would thrash mightily. And when it died down, they would come out and flog me. My back tells the tale even if I can't remember it. It's covered in a criss-cross of long puckered snakes. I wonder why I didn't die. And now, here I am, sick at my stomach and wincing with phantom pain even as I can't remember what was happening.

    I lean up on one arm, looking around, behind me at No Sliding. She's a good kid but I wish she wasn't here right now. Well, just like last time, she needs her sleep, it'll be a rough day in a rough life; so slide away carefully and kiss her on the forehead before I leave.

    I need something to settle my stomach and eating is just the ticket. Someone will be cooking in the food court and anyway, Burrito King has my boots ready.
  • Playboy, you head into the Food Court, sure. Burrito King isn't there, but you smell food cooking. What kind of food do you normally find down here? Something from Grubhub? Or maybe Champs? Or what?
  • Once in a while someone finds food left from the old days, but mostly that's all gone. Everything these days is mostly stew. They put some dead tree-rats in a pot with taters and leaves and shit and then cook it for a few hours -- over a fire or on one of those electrical things that still works though no one can say why. The Grubhub family is a good bet and they almost always find something for me when I show up. I think their kid likes my dress.

    So what's Big Mac's operation like down here? When you say Burrito King is gone, how do I tell that? And are my boots around his workspace?
  • edited May 2014
    Big Mac runs most of the Food Court, except for the area where the VKs have their bikes.

    Burrito King holes up with the VK's, you know where he sleeps, in a cot under one of the old "fast food" counters. It offers some "peace and quiet", so he can sleep. You find your boots there, along with a few of his tools, some leather pieces, drawings of different pieces, patterns. There are a couple pictures of a woman that he's drawn. She's tall, quite beautiful, with long hair, dancing eyes. She's in a big ball gown, not so different from yours, really.

    What do you do?
  • If my boots are done, I'll put them on, grab some food and then go check the exterior door. What's The Breeze doing this morning?
  • Your boots aren't done, actually. One of them is, the other isn't, still needs some stitching and its unlaced.

    The Breeze is blowing this morning, you can see the trees outside the set of windows that aren't boarded up or papered over. Brisk. It's warm outside, the sun up, looks rather tranquil, considering.

    That Grubhub boy is watching you for a bit before he brings you a bowl of stew. He doesn't hand it directly to you, just puts it on a rickety table near you, then moves back.
  • Dammit. Now I'm pissed about my boots. I have to remember that sometimes shit happens, but I also can't let people start thinking they can walk all over me. I leave the boots in BK's area.

    I think a smile at the boy who brings my food, but I don't know how to express that stuff. So I eat and nod at him. "If you're ever in trouble, you find me." And I leave the empty bowl behind.

    Stopping, turning around as the kid starts to take the bowl back, "You know where Burrito King is, kid? This place is empty."
  • edited April 2014
    He fetches the bowl and spoon, holding them close. When you address him, he jumps a little, then shakes his head no.

    "Playboy!" you hear a deep voice call out, carrying across the Food Court. It's none other than Velcro, one of the few guys who can look down on you, literally. He's a head taller than you, and thick. Big Mac's right hand guy.

    He's dressed in jeans and a thick leather coat over his gun holster, a sword slung over his back in a nice scabbard. How did he get that sword, Playboy? He looks down at you after briskly walking up. "Good work with getting the Muzak fixed. Did Hottopic fuck with it, though? Music's been all different today, songs I never heard before."

    This is playing right now:

    (Eliminate - Free Fall [Glitch Hop])
  • "Velcro!" I shrug expansively, looking up at the tall man. I don't really even hear the tunes Muzak plays for us unless I'm paying particular attention. "Where the fuck is Burrito King? He said my boots would be done yesterday if I took care of Hottopic and Muzak. My end of things got good and I'm left hanging? Who thought that was smart?"

    Everyone is The Maul knows how you get a sword because of the movies. You get a sword when you take it from the previous owner after you've killed them. That sword belonged to Gallery before Velcro killed them during a card game.

    There are only a couple other swords in The Maul that I know of. If you don't count machetes. I don't.
  • "BK?" Velcro asks, pulling up short. "Haven't seen him today. Think he's out and about with S n S, they went to AMC last night, like everyone." He drops his voice a bit, private conversation, "Maybe you didn't hear me, though. Did Hottopic mess with Muzak when she fixed it? The music is different. It's never been different. You answer me that, I'll hunt BK down personally and get your boots."
  • "I don't know the tech stuff. She talked to Muzak, Muzak talked back. Hell, something happened and even I talked to Muzak. I...I just don't remember it right."

    "But that's a freebie, I need to handle the situation with my boots, myself."

    I'll head off toward AMC but I'm spending effort watching for signs of gangster mayhem along the way.
  • edited April 2014
    Velcro lets you go, not arguing the point. Or just taking the freebie.

    What kind of gang mayhem happens between Food Court and AMC? That's the middle to the end of the Maul, so there's a goodly bit of humanity in between, right?

    "Fucking wacknut Mankins around. Watch for them, P." Hood mutters.
  • Oh, I do! If any wacknut Mankins come near, I'll be ready.
  • Sure enough, Playboy, as you're headed past a few of the big windows of the stretch of shops where the Mankins sometimes lurk, you spot one of them behind a window. She was staring out at the traffic moving by, which isn't much this time of day.


    She looks at you with those soulless eyes, then starts moving for the door. Why do the Mankins have a hate on for you?
  • You know how Hood protects me; keeps me safe from the vicissitudes of human emotion? They're in that same space and don't think it's right that I have Hood. That's what I think anyway. I mean, you know how they are -- it's not like they've ever stopped to explain themselves. I'll move along at my normal pace and if it decides to let me go, I will. If not, I'll break it up like last time.
  • Sure enough, Playboy, that first one moves out of the store, coming for you. On the other side of the hallway, you spot two more:



    All of them cut and stretched by Doc Marten to look so perfect, so beautiful like the "ones before", they are Mankins. They don't talk, but they do know how to use those rusty scalpels. They're coming after you, Playboy, to take Hood.

    What do you do?
  • edited April 2014
    My whip uncurls to the floor as I step back into the hallway where Basura used to live -- before he took that long walk outside. They can only get to me from the front this way. When they come, I'm going to destroy them. I whip around a limb, pull them directly into a kick, breaking shoulders, pelvis and neck. But I'm checking out the surrounds with as much care as I can spare. Don't want to trip over the old hose, don't want to let anything get at me from the hallway behind, scanning the ceiling for the unexpected -- that sort of thing.
  • Why don't you Read a Sitch here, Playboy?
  • (Rolled: 2d6-1. Rolls: 4, 3. Total: 6)
  • The male Mankin moves up first, and you wail on him, crack the whip and pull him close enough to hurt. His shoulder crumples when you kick him, and the stiletto heel takes a chunk of his smooth flesh.

    But then those girls are on you, one taking your left arm, the other taking your right. They're not tough like you, Playboy, but their nails dig deep and they hold on and just move to the ground, using their weight, and gravity, to make it tough for you to move. You take 0-Harm from their attack (I'll roll it next post).

    These two, they're going to try and move up and take Hood from you now, any second now, Playboy.

    What do you do?
  • Harm move:
    (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 6, 4. Total: 10)
  • Those nails of those Mankins, they're painfully sharp, Playboy. Take one Harm from those scratches.
  • I have them on each arm now? Their weight on my arms isn't enough to keep me locked up like they'd hoped, the dumb fucks. I'm just smashing them against each other, over and over until they break or fall off. If one goes flying off, then I'll just use both hands to mangle the one that's still on me. Also, remember I have these concrete walls around me. I can use those as weapons too, battering the Mankins into the walls as needed. Basically, I'm just smashing them.
  • edited April 2014
    Sure, Playboy, just two of them against you? Especially when they're just trying to weigh you down, you can smash them. You slam the one in gold against the wall, and against her partner, and she almost falls, so you kick her clear and stomp her. The other one looks up at you just in time to see the base of your big bullwhip come crashing down. And again. And again.

    She lets go, putting her hands up over her face, "No, please!" The words come out in a whisper, her mouth barely moved. Then, "Please don't hurt me, Kelly."

    What do you do?
  • I freeze up. Staring down at her, my mind races as I gulp down air. For maybe as long as thirty or forty seconds. "Why are you talking? You aren't real!"
  • "I'm really real, Kelly!" she calls to you. She... her name is Delia, you know that for some reason. Her hands are still up, but she looks at you with her beaten face and pleading eyes.

    "Head games, Playboy," Hood barks. "Don't let the Mankins fuck with you."
  • "Why...are...you...a...Mankin?"
  • She lowers her right hand, a few inches, making eye contact. "I wanted... what you've got. To be free. To lose me in something else, something powerful."

    Hood barks, tone shrill, "She wants me, Playboy. Don't let her worm her weak ass in!"
  • "She can't have you, don't worry so much!"

    "Why don't you just take drugs?"
  • "Drugs helped," Delia answers, her hands slowly lowering as she looks up at you, still worried. "But never strong, always weak. This..." she looks at her hands, touches her face, "It's power. Nothing like yours, though."

    "Share," she pleads quietly. "Can I... try it on?"
  • "If you come for it again, I'll destroy you. If you even ask again... I will never take Hood off. Don't push me on this." I look around for more of them and if it's clear I'll take a step back. "And my name is Playboy."
  • Deliah's head gently bobs as she nods in sad understanding. The craving hasn't left her eyes, eyes that were vacant until you beat her. Woke her from that odd state. "Playboy," she agrees numbly.

    You're clear. She's not a threat and none of the other Mankins are here.

    What do you do?
  • Tell me about Doc Marten, MC. I'm thinking about what has to happen next.
  • Doc Marten took over the Lenscrafter, converted the place into his "chop shop", where he helps people become perfect beauties. He's a master of crafting flesh and the man who made the Mankins. He would be played by a young Bruce Campbell.

    Hood hates Doc Marten.
  • This is something I'll have to consider more deliberately. For now, I'm moving back out, looking for Burrito King. Maybe he's with Big Mac's guys or maybe with Sweet-n-Sour's I'm sort of confused about their hierarchy. But either way, they leave their mark so it shouldn't be too, too hard to find them.
  • Alright Playboy, you head out of there and on to AMC. The place is waking up a bit, johns and janes doing walks of shame back to their normal lives, some dancers rising to wash and work on their day-to-days.

    Coming Soon is at Concessions. He looks you up and down, says, "You got somebody's blood on you, PB." He's all casual. How do you get along with this one? "What do you need?" He's standing behind the counter, his wares locked in a little lockbox that's chained to a cuff around his ankle. "I got it all. Reds, blues, huffers, H. I got chockies, spray sniffs, condoms, you name it, chica. What do you need?"
  • "Burrito King."

    I get along fine with Coming Soon. We don't have all that much history, of course, since as much as possible I eschew economic transactions. But there was a time maybe six months ago that Hood wanted me to fuck Coming Soon and it turned out that he was a pleasant lover, robust and attentive; who'd have thought?
  • Coming Soon nods, "BK? Sure. Last I saw him was with Mari," he says as he avoids your gaze, like most sheep. "I think Mari's up at Cache's place, second floor, cutting room."

    Are you heading there?
  • Sure. It's not like I have a sense of decorum.
  • edited May 2014
    Alright, Playboy, you head up the wide carpeted stairs, past graffiti and art and over a few sleeping bodies, right into the splicing room.

    Laying on the floor are three people. One is some out-Mauler. Another is a member of Dillards, and the last is Mari, the dancer. They're all asleep, cuddled together on a couple mattresses.

    What do you do?
  • I bend over and tap Mari on the forehead, hard enough to hurt just a little, but not like I'm trying to hurt her. "Where's Burrito King?"
  • Alright, Playboy, you give Mari a little "love tap" and she blinks awake suddenly. She shakes her head a little, then starts getting up, answering with a yawn, "He fell asleep here." She looks around, "Maybe he went to use the bathroom?"

    She gently moves the Dillards scav over and slides off the mattress. "You okay, Playboy? You look... shook."
  • I don't look anything, bitch! Hood keeps me safe. I think about cuffing Mari, but I don't. "He's a fucking wraith, today. Fucker didn't finish my boots." Abruptly, I leave.

    Now I'm pacing, looking through a display window into Dillards out in front of AMC, not looking at anything, just spacing out. OK, I've walked all over and he's always somewhere else. Fuck this -- I'm going to get Muzak to call him down to me. As I walk toward Muzak's bedroom, I'm asking Hood for advice. "Muzak can sing to the whole Maul, he ought to be able to talk, too. Right? How should I get Muzak to do me this favor?"

    (triggering Norman...)
  • (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 2, 4. Total: 7)+1 xp
  • "Fuck that noise, Playboy." Hood growls, avoiding the whole Muzak question. It feels like Hood doesn't like Muzak, like it's personal. "That Wraith will come along later, he got the message. You need to go finish off that Mankin girl. She will get Doc and all the Mankins after you. Thousand cuts and all that. Kill her, cut off the squeaky wheel."

    What do you do?
  • Hood doesn't like Muzak? Hood doesn't like the Mankins! Well, I've already decided on that topic, I'm not going to go kill her. And I know Hood's got a good point -- that Burrito King will appear sooner or later, but I just can't let it go. So I'm checking the bathrooms AMC for him and then I'll check the closest set in the Maul.

    And as much I'm trying to remind myself to be reasonable, the longer I can't find him, the more I'm imagining hurting him when I do.
  • Alright, Playboy, you come into the men's bathroom near theater 4, which is on the ground floor. Standing at the mirror, looking bleary-eyed, is Burrito King. He's wearing the same clothes as the night before, which for him is weird, not sure if you notice. He gives you a look, like "whoah, did she just appear here?" Blinks. "Hey, Playboy. What's up?"
  • (That Norman move says that when I roll a 7 like that, not doing what Hood says is acting under fire. I don't know what that should look like but I wanted to remind you how that works.)

    Once he's looking at me, I make a point of making eye-contact through hood's eye-holes, even if it does make him uncomfortable. And then I slowly, obviously look down at my bare feet. And after a few seconds, if he hasn't clued in I drop "my boots..." onto him.
  • Oh, Burrito King gets it, right off. His eyes widen, "Oh... shit. Sorry, Playboy." He comes over to take them from you, if you offer them. "C'mon, just need to adjust the tongue a bit and mend the left. I swear, we can get it done right now."

    Hood growls, "When are we going to take care of the Mankin, Playboy? It's time to TCB." Your head hurts a bit as hood constricts.

    What do you do?
  • "I left the boots in your work area in the food court since they're no good to me the way they are. Let's...go...finish...them up...there."

    I step away, and turn away, from BK. "Damn you, she's not coming for you again. I told you I'd keep you safe! And don't you forget your place -- I'm the one in charge here, you're supposed to help me!"
  • Burrito King isn't the kind to cower, but this display is off-putting. By the by, in the mirror, you see your own lips move as Hood talks.

    Playboy, let's see you Manipulate Hood to pipe down for now. You leverage is the belief that you're in charge.
  • (That doesn't seem like it would be leverage under normal circumstances, but I can see how Hood and I have a "special" relationship.)

    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 6, 2. Total: 9)
  • "If she comes back around, you'll see who's right, Playboy. And then you better TCB!"

    Burrito King heads out of the bathroom, not making conversation since you're having your own. He walks at your pace, beside you, but not in striking distance. He looks disheveled and tired, nowhere near as happy as he was last night.

    You exit the AMC into the Maul proper, Coming Soon doesn't give you two a second glance. The bare tile and concrete of the Maul is cold on your bare feet, and the music playing overhead is quirky, erratic and doesn't flow from one song to the next. It seems experimental, flipping from an electronica beat to something poppy to some old crooner tune. Muzak may have been ambient before, but it's not anymore.

    Down the broken escalator stairs into the Food Court and you see the VKs are all riled up. Looks like they beat down one of their own - Pickles. His body is laying in a pool of blood, discarded, to be taken away once they've calmed down and left.

    Velcro stands outside Big Mac's office still, as always. He sees you and Burrito King enter, and Burrito King leads you towards his counter-workshop. Velcro is coming towards you.

    "Playboy," Velcro says as he comes up behind you. Burrito hops over the counter and starts working on your boots, thankful to be out of the line of fire here, because Velcro's tone isn't angry, but it is direct. "What's going on with Muzak?"
  • edited May 2014
    I look up at the nearest speaker, concentrate for a couple seconds as I listen, as if I'd never noticed there was music here, and then look down to make eye-contact with Velcro, my dead eyes boring into his. "He's playing our song!"

    However long it takes him to form a response, I wait until he's just about to speak and then, "What's going on with The Breeze, Velcro?"

    (Also, I've been sicker than I've ever been with my first real flu, so sorry for the slow response time.)
  • "Our song?" Velcro gets out, taken aback by your question. That has him glaring at you with a WTF look on his face.

    "The Breeze is as the Breeze does, Playboy." Velcro answers through gritted teeth. He looks around, like that would answer why you asked him. He isn't nervous, but your question is just more evidence that things are weird.

    Of course, there are other folks here. Food Court is lively, not so much a market as a place where the VKs are, so it is safe. Big Mac is here, so folks come here to be heard, to get things done. It's not a market, no. But it is a sort of "downtown". There are gossips, and sycophants, people who grease wheels and offer opportunities.

    Like Swatch for instance. Now Swatch is the kind of person who makes himself useful. By leaning who is good at what, and who needs what, then putting those folks together, or convincing them they need to get together, in the scrimp times. Swatch is looking at you right now like you're a shiny penny on the floor that nobody else has seen.

    "The Breeze is changing." Swatch says. "It was in cycles, but then last night, it came rushing up out of nowhere, out of sync. There was a fight in the AMC, right when it happened. Too close, they're on top of each other. One led to the other!"

    (The flu sucks. Hope you get better soon, Chris!)
  • I'll ignore Velcro and Swatch, at least for a minute, "How long, BK? Is this just few minutes?"
  • Burrito King calls out from under his counter, "Yeah, a few minutes!"

    Velcro pushes the issue, speaking in clear, punctuated syllables, "Playboy, you need to answer my fucking question. Has Hottopic fucked with Muzak? Why did her fixing it make the music change? Where is she now?" He's moved closer, standing over you, physically intimidating, or trying to.

    There are maybe twenty sets of eyes on you two now. Some are scared, worried, others excited about the potential fight, something to waste their time. A couple of the Violence Kings are watching, too.

    What do you do?
  • I have a good read on Velcro. My peripheral vision is shit because of Hood, but he's just so obvious about the way he attempts to intimidate people. This is a thing, by the way. For whatever reason, people have short memories and they just refuse to remember not to fuck with me like this. I go out of my way not to pull the kind of shit that Velcro is pulling, even though I could -- but it's a rule, maybe the only rule: If you eat shit, you'll always eat shit.

    I don't even look up from BK and my boots as I put a rising knife-hand chop into Velcro's throat. And I mean, my preference is that he survive the blow, but it's not terribly important. What's important is that he and anyone watching understands that the power structure hasn't changed. I stand outside their hierarchy.
  • Velcro was not expecting that shot. He guessed something more telegraphed, more dramatic. He guessed wrong. The blow forces him a couple steps back, then he drops to a knee. He gasps for air, holding his throat, then drops to a knee.

    The Grubhub boy is right there, Playboy, watching you with those wide, frightened eyes of his. His mother comes up behind him, takes his shoulder, leads him away, to safety.

    People stop staring, the VKs chuckle and cut up a bit. You hear Bacon, a female VK, say to the other guy, "Hell yeah. Told ya."

    Several long moments pass as folks mill about nervously and Velcro coughs and sputters. Burrito King hops back over the counter, boots in hand. "Sorry for the uh, the delay and all."

    They look really good, Playboy. He worked the seams apart by hand and resewed them so that they are in near perfect condition, then polished the hell out of them. Velcro will survive.

    Where do you go next?
  • Man it feels good to lace up my boots. I hop down off the counter, enjoying the quadruple clack as my feet hit the faux-tile floor. I turn to Burrito King. "OK, we're good."

    I don't give Velcro a second look.

    I'm off to find Hottopic. I do sort of wonder what's up with Muzak and I don't know how to get answers myself.
  • --END SCENE--
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