[Big Maul] Shambles (H 1.4)

edited April 2014 in Big Maul

Far off in the Maul, this song is playing softly, echoing across the concrete walls.

"Good morning, Hottopic."

The words rouse you from sleep. It's the "special" robot, still in your lap as you fell asleep with Muzak on your bean bag chair. Ball Pit is slacked out on the floor, still knocked out. It's morning. The No kids haven't come in yet, so it must be pretty early.

What did you dream about, Hottopic?

What do you do?


  • I'm the ghost of a plastic bag, circling on an eddy of Breeze in the burial courtyard. For a long time, it's just like that - circling circling circling - but then I get flung up beyond the top of the walls and the Breeze carries me away. I flap northwest, snagging occasionally on a twig or the remains of a street sign. I'm following along a street and there's someone walking below me. It's Godiva, and somehow me-as-bag knows that he's not dead, not crazy, not gone. Some freak of the current flips me around in front of him and I blow up against his face, covering mouth, nose, eyes. The Breeze pushes me against him as he struggles, and even those strong arms that lifted so much weight for me can't pull me off. As the ghost of a plastic bag, a takeout bag with a smiley face and "Thank you for your business", I kill Godiva. Again.

    I sit up with a violent intake of breath. The room is still - Muzak next to me, but quiet; Kay-bee's eyes glowing as the last syllable of my name fades out; Ball Pit making that little snore. No kids.

    "Good morning, Kay-Bee." This is new. I wait.
  • image

    "Did you sleep well, Hottopic?" The tone is tinny but concerned.
  • It takes a second for me to respond.

    "No, Kay-Bee, I didn't. I killed... lost a friend last night, and it hurt me a lot. I dreamed about him. So... you're starting conversations now, huh?"
  • Kay-Bee twists it's little blue-claw hands around in circles and walks a couple steps forward on your leg.

    "You did not kill your friend, Hottopic. Do not be sad. Are conversations... unwanted?"
  • ((Do I get the sense that this is Kay-Bee, or maybe Muzak talking through Kay-Bee somehow?))

    "Not unwanted at all. Just... new. Thank you for the kind words."
  • "You are most welcome, Hottopic." Kay-Bee answers, a little pleased tone to it's voice.

    It seems like Muzak. Seems logical, at least. Kay-Bee didn't talk before, right? You didn't do anything to Kay-Bee. Or does this kind of thing "just happen" around you? No, seriously, does it?

    "What do you want to do today, Hottopic?"
  • So, left to my own devices (as it were). No immediate crisis that I'm aware of. Here's the list, in no particular order. I look at Kay-Bee and rattle off the following, with a bit more conversational tone:

    * Get chockies for the No-Kids.
    * Do something for GNC, for the above-and-beyond yesterday.
    * Take care of Ball Pit.
    * Deal with Big Mac somehow - make sure he knows I took care of Muzak.
    * Not get killed.

    Apparently I don't have a project today. I should have a project.

    "Aside from that, Kay-Bee, do you have any ideas?"
  • "How will you take care of Ball Pit?" Kay-Bee asks curiously. "What does she need?"

    Kay-bee queries: "What does GNC want? What makes him happy?"

    Then, before you can answer, it asks, "Is Big Mac a threat, Hottopic?"
  • I take a breath and organize my thoughts before I answer. "Kay-Bee, that's a lot of questions and none of them are easy to answer. I... we learn these things by experiencing them, right, not really by defining them. Why don't you ride along with me, just listen and when we're alone I'll try to answer questions if I can. Sound okay?"
  • Kay-Bee doesn't answer out loud, but it stops asking questions, becoming inert, like the toy it was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

    Where are you heading for chockies? What do you trade for them? What does GNC seem to like: food, gadgets, one-on-one instruction, clothes, what?
  • The best chockies in the whole Maul are at Concessions, in the lobby area of the AMC. I've never asked what GNC really likes, but he has a lot of hats and I know that he's been eyeing a bike (just a bicycle, not a dirt bike). Most of my jingle is in the form of batteries and little pretties ((cell phone charms, shiny barrettes, the kind of stuff 12-year-old girls covet today, but which might indicate status at the Maul)).

    I think the best place to head is actually the lobby of the AMC. Like I said, chockies, but also the impromptu market that winds up happening with the influx of out-Maulers for the opening night of a show.

    ((I'm willing to throw some decent jingle if I can find someone with a bike to sell. Say 1-barter for bike and chockies.))

    I make sure Ball Pit is tucked in good, tuck Kay-Bee in a sling bag along my side, with the head poking out, and leave my room. Assuming GNC doesn't stop me on the way out (if he even made it back from AMC last night), I'll head out into the Maul proper, in the direction of AMC.
  • Sure, that's no problem. What kinds of stuff happen in the morning in the Maul, Hottopic? Food's grown at the skylights, and I assume gangs make runs out for food and supplies in The Breeze, right? What do folks do during the day in this big space?
  • Since at least MOST of the light comes from the skylights, the Maul mostly sleeps until sunup. The early chores of the subsistence farmer start before that, though. Chickens in one of the exterior stores (reinforced windows and layers of heavy plastic sheeting over them). Raiding parties usually leave a few hours before dawn, headphones with ear protection around them just in case, extra batteries in a pocket.

    The rest of the day is what you'd expect. Business is done, food is made and consumed. There's a particular spot where the geezers play a game called "Cheese" on a board with 64 squares, but I've never really dug it. I mean, AMC's all about flash and fucking, but for most people, most days, it's all about the next meal and not being bored out of their skulls. It's a life. Not a good life, necessarily, but a life.
  • As you're heading east towards the AMC, your old ex Payphone spots you. He's at Grinder's with his buddies. They started this place up not long ago with some scavenged grindstones, a machine press and some other equipment. Payphone has been swapping jingle and barter for folks who need parts or sharpening or whatever.

    (Did you teach him this stuff?)

    This is Payphone:

    "Hey Hotty," he calls out. Then he puts down a weirdass machette he was working on, and walks out to catch up to you. "How are you doing?" He's all smiles this morning. How are you two getting along lately?
  • Sure, I taught him most of what he's doing now, but there's plenty of work to go around I guess. We didn't part ways on the best terms - there was screaming and breaking shit and words that couldn't be unsaid or unheard - but we haven't had it out for each other since. I avoid him if I can, but I won't go far out of my way just to avoid seeing him.

    Strange, for the last few weeks he's been acting all chummy. Suspicious.

    "Yo, 'Phone. How's biz?"
  • Payphone shrugs, "Biz is a helluva lot better now that we can work on tools." He falls in beside you, walking with you, "Hey... I heard about Godiva's death. It was Playboy? Man, that bitch is fucking evil." He looks over at you, "How uh... how did Bally take it?"
  • "I don't know if Playboy's evil, but she's for sure fucked up and righteous deadly. Godiva was trying to force his issue between my legs, and I guess she thought she was protecting me."

    I let out a breath that might be a sigh if it wasn't so frustrated and full of self-loathing.

    "Ball Pit's gonna be fucked up when she wakes up. Rache gave her something that got her to sleep a few hours ago and she's still sleeping it off. Listen..."

    I look at 'Phone, consider. "I got to be moving for a bit, shit to do and all, but... if you want, you can check in on her later. She'd appreciate it, I'm sure."
  • Payphone listens in, he wasn't just being polite. He pauses for a moment, then asks, "Hot... don't bury yourself in your work, okay? If you want to talk about it, have a few drinks, blow off steam, whatever, I'm around."
  • That stops me for a second. "Sure, 'Phone, that might be a good idea. Maybe I'll find you later." There's an awkward moment, then I walk away toward AMC.

    On the way, I grab a bit of breakfast from one of the kiosk grills (not the Food Court)... it's probably rat, but they apparently traded for some fresh herbs recently, and it tastes pretty good. Better than mystery stew, anyway.
  • edited April 2014
    Let's say your sitting at a stool at one of the Kiosks. This one's run by old Aveda:

    Aveda's been here your whole life, Hottopic. He's run this kiosk, grilling and selling food. He's been robbed more times than you can count, but the guy refuses to fight back, or to quit. Has he ever told you why?

    The rat today was a bit of gristle, but he hid it with some extra spice, and a bit of crunched up cracker. Better than the stew, like you said. Regis Salons was here at a stool when you walked up. She's just finishing her stick of meat, too. She looks over, asking, "You hear about the big fuck n fight at the AMC?"

    This is Regis:

    Aveda chimes in, "Bet Walgreen's wall to wall, yep."
  • Aveda's always been good to me. He told me once that he doesn't fight because he can always catch more rats if he can't trade for chicken, and people always want food. "I'll be stuffed if I'm gonna get m'self kilt over a fucken rat!"

    As Regis mentions the fight at AMC, it's like electricity runs through me. I know GNC is probably there somewhere, and anything that affects Jet and his operation eventually hits my bottom line, as well. "What happened? Who's fighting?"
  • "VKs started up some shit, Jet's crew answered them," Regis answers as she blows out a puff of smoke. "Fugly stuff, 'specially on big show night."

    "Damn shame." Aveda agrees.

    "So, 'Veda... were you there?" Regis asks with a little grin.

    Aveda shrugs, "Me? Hell naw, aint got jingle ta spare fer that. Not like my equipment works anymore, so why bother?"

    Regis looks to you, "You go to the shows, right? Did you see the big fight?"
  • I just shake my head. Don't want to explain why I wasn't still there. "Regis, I just told you I didn't know what happened. I'm headed that way, anyways. If I know anything you don't when I swing back by, I'll spill it all."

    I finish up breakfast. "Like the spice, Aveda... I've been eating your slop for years, and you still manage to pull out a surprise every now and then." I try on a smile, which doesn't fit too well today, and get off the stool, heading toward AMC, more cautious now.
  • Regis makes a pffft noise, but you know she was trying to trip you up. She's sly, playing the "old lady" card so folks will say more than they meant to in front of her. Aveda inclines his head in respect to your compliment and bids you a good day.

    You pass by Dillard's, which, when empty, looks like this:

    Of course, it is rarely empty. This is one of the bigger scav gangs. They simply call themselves the Dillards, and while half their number is out getting new supplies, their bookers, skinners and crafters are here, under a light guard. Why don't they like you, Hottopic? Something recent, right? I mean, it'll blow over eventually...

    Ahead is the AMC, looking pretty dead (meaning no folks in front or moving around, no visible activity). If you hadn't heard about some fight, that would seem normal the morning after a show. But it seems a bit spooky now.

    What do you do?
  • Yeah, the Dillards. They have good reason to be pissed. GNC overheard them talking about a possible score - wire from the phone system at a real estate office across town that had recently been vacated when the clan that lived there all got caught in the Breeze at the same time - and I rounded up a crew of kids and got there first. That, and I may have left a big smiley-face painted on the wall that the Dillards saw when they got there an hour after we cleared out. I don't go out into the open often, but when I do it's worth it.

    I feel the spooky, look for signs of violence, and (finding none that are obvious) walk right on in, look around the lobby.
  • edited April 2014
    After you pass Dillard's and tromp on further to AMC, you hear Kay-Bee, "Hottopic. Why are you obtaining treats for children that are not yours? Will they replace Godiva?"
  • "It's not about Godiva, Kay-Bee. Or not mostly. I promised the kids some chockies, and I don't break promises easy. Also, they got no one to really take care of them... they scrounge and scrape, and every now and then it's good for them to have a treat that they don't have to fight for. And sure, I'm working faster to get the chockies because Godiva's gone, but I can't explain why... I don't know myself."

    I keep walking.
  • You enter the AMC, which is playing it's own music, of course. Currently, it's:

    You head into the lobby, which smells like old sex and burned popcorn. Coming Soon, the guy who runs Concessions most of the time, is sitting on a bucket, reading some magazine when you come up.

    This is Coming Soon:

    He arrived when Jet Black arrived, even though he didn't travel with the AMC. Did he come from some raider gang or something?

    He looks up from his mag when you come to the glass counter. The display cases are empty now, except for lewd pictures and "pieces of art". "Hottopic. What do you want today?" He says it in that nasal droll, that he'd rather not be bothered right now, but well, you're already here, and you're probably not going away.
  • When Coming Soon first showed up, his name was Gertrude. Whatever.... I've been a good customer. "Need some prime chockies for the No-kids. Whatcha got? Also, seen anyone with a good two-wheel that's pretty luxe? Know there's a lot of folks in from out."

    Actually, I'll go a bit further. I need this stuff to clear the balance sheet. "Hey, I know you were talking about your lady wanting something... special... I got a thing. You get me the chockies and a lead on a two-wheel, and I'll give you a Doc Johnson Special to give her. With charged batteries."

    ((HT tends to overpay when she's on a mission...))
  • "I heard there was a big fight down here. What's up with that?"
  • Coming Soon's brows raise in surprise when you drop the offer for the Don Johnson. He reaches over to unlock his little treasure box to pull out a box of "rasi ets" and slides it over, then says, "Dillard's lost a few guys last week, so they've got extra bikes. Or, you can trade with Samsonite over in Macys, but he'll rip you off, sure as day."

    He slides the rasi ets to you, then answers the question about the fight, "Oh, the VKs came rolling in, went right up on stage, started some shit. Jules and the others showed them what for. Maybe five or six over at Walgreens, pretty effed up."
  • "What the hell would they have to fight about? Jet okay? And Cache?"

    This is not good. A fight's a fight, but on the scale CS is talking about, inside the AMC? That's fucked up. I'm not too shaken to take the rasi ets, though, and I don't think his "tips" on finding a bike are quite what I was hoping for if he wants to earn the Doc Johnson. I was hoping he'd seen something from the out-Maulers, not the same old shit I already know about.
  • Coming Soon shrugs, it's obvious he wasn't involved directly, got this second-hand. "Dunno, VKs wanted in free or somesuch? Not sure who all got hurt, but I'm pretty sure Jet's fine, Cache, too. I woulda heard, you know?"

    He leans over the counter, "So... about that Doc Johnson?" He raises his eyebrows in expectation.
  • "CS, you ain't given me shit but chockies. I know Dillards are light right now, and you know that we're not getting along so good these days. And we all know that Samsonite's no more a fair dealer than he is a fucken genius, and it takes him five minutes just to decide which finger to pick his nose with, so he's no fucken genius. I'm looking for something good if you want to bring Doc home and let him make your girl happy. Seen anything from the out-Maulers in for the show? You got anything for me I don't already know?"
  • Coming Soon's shoulders slump with the news that he's got to do more. He reaches a hand up to scratch the back of his neck, and shifts a bit. "Yeah, alright. Alright. Listen, there's a big strip maul a few miles away. If you get us a ride, I'll trade a favor with the out-Mauler who keeps the good shit. I know he's got bikes, seen 'em."

    He looks at you, a little frustrated and put out, "That good enough?"
  • He's trying. "Sure, I'll work on a ride. You'll get your toy once we get out there, and back with the bike. Thanks for the chockies. " I'm going to the big stage, take a look around, see if GNC got mixed up in anything.
  • Coming Soon seems happy with that, so you head on. The big stage is empty, lots of crap still up on stage, but no people. GNC's nowhere around. Nobody's around to ask, but you could probably head for where some of the dancers sleep.

    What do you do?
  • I'll for sure keep looking, and the dancers' crash seems like as good a place as any. I'm both worried and curious, and for me that's a perfect storm of not quitting while I'm ahead.
  • edited April 2014
    Sure, Hottopic, you head through the AMC for a bit, looking for where the dancers crash. You find an open door to one of the smaller theaters, push it open and head in. The seats have all been ripped out of here, and the floor is covered with mattresses, blankets, sleeping bags and sleeping bodies. The dancing crew all piled up together to sleep, like some litter of puppies. There are clients in here, too. The lucky ones, the good payers, who got to stay here overnight. But most of the sleeping people are lithe, athletic dancers, each one beautiful and unique in their own way.

    Sure, some of them, on an individual basis aren't perfect. Spots of acne, large noses, old scars, stretch marks, all cleverly hidden by makeup, but obvious in the dim light from the door on their sleeping bodies. But still beautiful, are they not?

    And no, AMC is not here.

    One stirs, a woman. She looks up at you. Her name is Nan. She is topless, wearing only the poofy skirt from her costume the night before. She sits up, scratching at the rows of thin scars and fresh scabs of narrow cuts along the inside of her forearm. "Good morning, pretty," she says low, just for you.
  • I keep my voice low, intimate, as well. Nan's got a look that makes me half want her and half want to be her. "Good morning, yourself." Sometimes it's hard for me to think around these folks. They're so in their bodies, so aware of the power their grace and skill and beauty give them... it feels like gravity sometimes, especially when they're not actually trying, like now.

    I close my eyes for a second, just clearing my mind. Still speaking softly, "Hey, did you see GNC last night at all? Heard there was a fight and just wanted to make sure he's okay while I'm here. And... what happened? Violence Kings coming down on the AMC?"
  • This, by the way, is GNC.

  • Nan smiles, her teeth gleam against her mahogany skin. She daintily stands, light as a feather. She seems to have no sense of a personal bubble, standing inches away from you, peering at you and seeming to notice your distractions without understanding their cause. "Oh, pretty, I did see him, but that was before the fighting. After, I think he took one of ours to Walgreen? It was very hectic." Her tone lilts and bounces like she's reciting a poem more than sharing information. Her smile never falters.

    She reaches her fingertips out to stroke your forearm, "Oh pretty, you want to know the why? Why would the VKs come down on us? Sweet N Sour. He was determined to speak with Jet, but Jules said nay nay. Then... they earned their kingship."

    Nan continues to trace her fingertips along your forearm, to the crook, then lightly walks her fingers up your bicep to your shoulder, "You have nice muscles, pretty." She cocks her head to the side and smiles wide enough for her dimple to show.
  • edited April 2014
    "And you have a nice smile, Nan, but I had a fuckall of a night." I linger. I linger like a professional lingerer, but I'm on a mission. I reach out a hand and cup her cheek. "See you soon..."o

    ...and the snipe hunt takes me to Walgreens.
  • Her face is soft. She reaches a hand up to you touch the back of yours and continues smiling. That is, until you break the contact and leave with your parting shot.

    "Not soon enough, pretty." Nan replies to your back, a touch sad.

    Walgreens isn't so far away, so let's skip ahead to there.

    Outside is a bit of a line, the regular dregs of humanity looking for someone to whine to, or to doctor them a little, maybe give them food. I assume you cut line to look inside?

    You spot GNC in there. He's helping Walgreen with someone, doesn't look like a dancer, though. Just like GNC, isn't it? Helps out someone a little, then gets drawn in, and then can't quite figure out how to extricate himself. He hasn't seen you, though.

    What do you do?
  • I'll head in, skip the line and ignore the looks. I'm not here to take anybody's time or meds, so I'm not gonna feel bad about walking in. Do I recognize whoever GNC is helping with? VK or AMC at least?
  • GNC is helping Walgreen with Rockport, one of the VKs. Walgreen is removing a bullet, without anesthetic, and GNC is holding him down, trying to keep the guy from making Walgreens job that much worse.

    Oh, and by the way, you see one of the dancers here, Hottopic. It's the beautiful and talented Esco. She is sitting up, dressed in a white hospital gown. Her head is leaning to the side, on a pillow, and her eyes are glassy, unfocused. She looks... lost inside herself, Hottopic.

    What do you do?
  • I catch GNC's eye. He's involved, physically struggling with a wiry-ass ganger on a pain buzz. I try to say Glad you're okay with my eyes, but my attention (knowing he's not dead or operated on himself) is all on Esco.

    I walk up to her slow, looking her over in the hospital gown. That spark of... freedom, potential energy, what?... is gone, hiding behind dead eyes. Walgreen's operating, don't want to interrupt, so I look closer. I lean in toward that face, look straight in the glassy eyes. A small part of me notices that Kay-Bee's eyes light up. "Good morning, pretty," I say low, just for Esco.
  • Esco doesn't react immediately, Hottopic. After a beat, she slowly turns her head towards the sound, towards you. A soft sound escapes her mouth, but her lips and jaw don't move to form it. Then, like she's moving in molasses, her eyes slide up to fix on you. Her arms still lie at her sides, and the rest of her is immobile as well.
  • I'll head to Walgreen. I know he's working, so I'll be patient. "Walgreen, what happened to Esco? Is she high, or... well, what happened?" I'll also check GNC out. Does he seem fine? "GNC, how's it hanging? You okay?"
  • Walgreen finishes his work, which is bloody and brutal. No pain meds for this one, it seems. The guy nearly breaks a tooth, and GNC has to put some serious muscle holding him down.

    When you ask about Esco, Wagreen looks over with weary eyes, "Poor girl had a stroke. She's just now starting to respond to the outside world, hard to tell how long it will take for her to work her way back. And Jet isn't paying for her, so she's my new pet project." He says tha ironically. Walgreen doesn't like nor often take on pet projects. Maybe the pretty girl gets special treatment? Have you heard anything about Walgreen and how he handles patients like this?

    When you check in with GNC, he heads over to grab a bottle of water, downs most of it before answering, "I'm fine. Better than Godiva. Couldn't sleep, ended up bringing folks here, then helping out. You?"
  • "Wandering, GNC. Trying to get my mind straight. What was the deal with the fight? Any sense of what Sweet was pissed off about enough to bring it into the AMC? That shit's worrisome." I'm not trying to be heard by everyone, but not trying not to, either... anyone else feels obligated to pipe up, that's fine.

    I haven't heard anything for real about what Walgreen does with his rare charity cases. There are rumors, of course, but I think maybe he started them himself just so people wouldn't want to end up in his debt. I mean, there's no way he's really got the equipment to perform the kind of experiments they say he does. Right? Some of that shit would break eventually and who else would he ask to fix it but me? I'd know... Right?

    I tell GNC to get some sleep soon and make to head back to the Lab, check on Ball Pit, think about a few things.
  • GNC answers, "Sweet was pissed because Cache fucked with one of his man's bikes, came looking to start some shit. You know Jet still holds a candle for Cache, so do most of the AMC, really. So they had words, then it went down. Most of it happened while we were... laying Godiva to rest. I came in to see some VKs cut up and a few dancers shot and stabbed. Ended up bringing as many over as I could."

    You seem like you're leaving, right? GNC says, "Hey Hotty, I'll come with you." He bids Walgreen adieu after washing off with some alcohol before he moves to catch up to you.

    "How's Ball Pit?" GNC asks as you both start walking back to the Lab.
  • So, the fight was over Cache messing with Pickles' bike. Fuck.

    "Ball Pit was sleeping hard when I left. Thought it was pretty safe that she'd stay that way for a bit - Rache dosed her pretty good."

    I know GNC was heading over to me when Playboy "solved" the Godiva problem. Does he seem okay with me today?
  • "Well, that's good," GNC says as he walks beside you. Hard to tell how he is really. He's talking, not angrily.

    "What the hell got into Godiva anyway?" he asks suddenly. Then, before you can answer, he says, "You know I was gonna stop him. He shouldn't have... you know, died for it."
  • "I hope you don't think I wanted him to die. I know you were on the way. There was no time to react... Playboy had been watching me all day for Big Mac, and I think she got a little... attached. Damitall."

    After a pause, catching his eyes. "I know you were on the way, GNC. You've never let me down yet."
  • Glumly, GNC replies, "I let Godiva down." Which pretty much kills the conversation. You two walk in silence back to The Lab, nobody bothers you.

    Ball Pit is up, hunched over a work table with some java she brewed up, drinking quiet and lost in thought. She looks at both of you briefly, but then she's back to her java. GNC gets to work on some regular maintenance work, falling into the routine. He soon gets to Godiva's tasks. You know he'll move on to do Ball Pit's work, too.

    Anything else in this scene?
  • ((There's been a lot of new stuff in the last day or so, and Hottopic is maybe just a little bit like someone who just got superpowers and maybe wants to see how they work. She's going to try an experiment... what could possibly go wrong?))

    I take Kay-Bee with me into my room and close the door. Sit on the bed. Breathe, in and out, for a long time. Unfocus my eyes.

    After maybe 10, 15 minutes, I whisper. "Esco? Good morning, pretty..."

  • (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 2, 5. Total: 9)
  • ((Assuming that was okay...))

    I reach through the psychic maelstrom to someone connected to it, and because I took the time to relax and prepare, it's stable and contained, no bleeding.
  • After a few moments of confusion, you feel Esco as much as see her. She's not moving towards you, or your voice or the essence of you.

    "Morning? Is it? Not good. But morning. You're Hottopic. I... I know you, right? Help me up. I'm stuck, can't move. My head hurts so bad and Cache broke me, I think. I walked in to Mamma's, then everything exploded in my head when ze glared. Then ze tried to talk to me, and zir words burned my.... my everything. I hurt everywhere. I need out of this! Hottopic, you gotta help me!"
  • Esco. Lithe, beautiful Esco, trapped, unable to move. It's clear, even through her panic and the strangeness of this connection, that she barely knows who I am. The chick that fixes things sometimes, right? I've seen her around other people, and she's definitely not a nice person, but then again, who is? Also, if Cache broke her, would ze be pissed if someone fixed her?

    Sometimes, when I walk past something that's broken, it actually hurts to keep walking, and even when I've moved on it's like an ache in the back of my neck until I go back and fix it, right? Always things, though, but...

    ...right now, I'm feeling Esco's pleading, I'm thinking about Ball Pit mourning over her coffee, GNC blaming himself and soldiering on... things aren't the only things that break. I'm feeling that ache...

    "I'll do what I can, Esco. I don't know what that is yet, but I'll do whatever I can. I want to see you dance again."

    I let the "connection" close... there's thinking to be done.

    Back out in the workshop, I give Ball Pit a kiss on the forehead, make sure her coffee's hot. Look over at GNC, if he happens to meet my eye I'll nod. Then I go over to my own workbench.

    I run my eye over the "to-do" shelf of toys that I haven't fiddled with yet, grab a red battery-powered car. Line up my tools, make sure the bin of electronic flotsam and jetsam is within easy reach, and hit the zone. An hour later, I've "fixed" the car. Nine times out of ten, that just means it'll do what it was made to do (in this case, zoom around the floor in a figure eight or whatever). Every now and then, something... unusual... winds up happening.

    I hit the switch and put the car on the floor...

    ((Not trying for anything specific or useful, just tossing the ball over the net.))
  • edited May 2014
    The little red car zips along for a few feet, then it pops up off the ground. While in the air, you hear some odd sounds like "Whomp Whap Wheep" and the exterior of the car shifts and slides away in pieces, then reforms into a little bipedal robot, looks like so:

    It then starts walking towards the door out of the Lab. Not running, just marching. Ball Pit sees this and gawks. "The hell...?"

    What do you do?
  • "No worries, Ball Pit..." I walk past the little dude and stand between it and the door. I kneel down in front. "Where are you going? Don't you want to see what's going on here before you head out into the bad world?" I start out smiling, but by the time I get to "bad world" I'm pretty serious. I've been talking to a lot of stuff recently, might as well try again, right?
  • The car robot walks up to bump into your leg, then it sidesteps three steps and continues walking forward until it reaches the edge of the Lab. Once there, it stops, right at the edge of the little shop, before entering the main corridor outside, where the kiosk of your "good friend" sits. It remains standing there, looking out on the "bad world".

    "You made... a guard or somethin?" Ball Pit asks incredulously.
  • Since I don't have a fucking clue, I choose to be inscrutable. "Something, for sure." I give Ball Pit what I hope is a mysterious smile.

    So, there's stuff to do. Godiva would've checked the generators today. I usually make the rounds a couple times a week, see whose stuff needs some TLC. I want to check in with Jet, see if he needs anything from me after last night's disaster. I can think about Esco while I work. I'll keep Kay-Bee with me for "ride-along," and keep the chockies handy in case I run in to any of the No kids.
  • Hottopic, when you check the generators, what kind of stuff goes wrong with them? Do they power the entire Maul?

    Do you ever check on the Dillards stuff? How does that work?

    As you're headed to the AMC, the No trio catches up with you. Sliding squeals when she sees you and runs up to grab your hand while she walks with you. "Hiya Hotty!"
  • Individual groups have their own power sources - Food Court, Dillards, the bigger "enclaves". The generators keep the power flowing to the basic infrastructure. Muzak, a bare minimum of emergency lights in the Maul corridors, ventilation overall (interior spaces would be intolerable without some airflow). Think of "my" generators as the ones that provide the equivalent of life support. They're old (weren't exactly shiny and new when shit went down), and subject to the usual wear and tear, but Servo set up a maintenance schedule years ago that seems to work pretty well. Usually, I just check the connections, look for corrosion, check the gauges, make sure everything's running within tolerances.

    For anything other than Maul-general stuff, I only check when asked, and never do anything pro bono, although I am pretty flexible about terms depending on who's asking.

    "Yo, kids! What trouble are you causing today?" I will not mention the chockies - I'll wait and see which one can't take it any longer and asks first.
  • No Sliding beams, "I braided-ed Playboy's hair when she was sleepin!" She squeezes your hand and skips along beside you.

    "Some Mankins got killed," No Smoking says. "Wanna lookit their bodies?"
  • They're always good for a surprise. "You did what to Playboy's what? And no, Smokie, I don't want to see any dead mankins. You should stay away from there, too... Doc Marten is not a good person for you to be around. At all..."

    Doc is creepy, and he mixes and matches bodies like I do wires and chips and such. These kids should really not be around him when he runs out of parts.

    As long as they're moving with me, I'll keep on toward AMC.
  • No Sliding lets go of your hand, but keeps skip-walking beside you. "Uh huh. I braided-ed the back of her hair while she was sleepin. Inna big pot! hee hee, she don't know. Ima sneaky. She fought I was cuddlin. She even kisst my head!" Sliding snickers, but its obvious she really liked that Playboy, of all people, kissed her head.

    "It's a fucken lie, I told her." Smoking says, "Didn't nobody seen her. Playboy would beat her ass up, right?"
  • Knowing that what I'm about to say is absolutely not a fact, I put a hand on Smoking's shoulder and say, "If Sliding says it, I'm sure it happened." I wouldn't actually be surprised if Playboy was kind to a child... she contains multitudes like all of us. However...

    "Sliding, I want you to be careful with Playboy. She may like you, but she's like one of those dogs they raise over at Shell, out-Maul. Even when they're your friend, they can really hurt you if you surprise them or piss them off somehow, on accident." I shudder. Actually fucking shudder.

    "Yo, Storage... what's going on? You want to check out the generators with me later?"
  • Have you ever seen what those dogs can do to a body? What's wrong with those animals anyways?

    Sliding peers up, "I aint skeered, Hotty. Ima quick an badass. Playboy won't catch me. Nuh uh never."

    Storage nods enthusiastically when you ask if he wants to check on the generators. He's fallen back into that quiet mode, was trailing behind the group, but listening.
  • ((Hottopic once saw one of those dogs get pissed at one of the Shell guys for trying to take a plastic bag out of its mouth. Thing latched on to the guy's arm and just held on. Jaws eventually crushed the guy's elbow. Hottopic knows they breed 'em to be mean, but there's something else, too. Their eyes are too smart...))

    Sliding's bravado aside, I said what I needed to, and I had my "serious face" on, so I'll let it go for now, but keep an eye out. I'll keep on toward the AMC, give 'em the chockies once I get there if none of them have asked yet.
  • After a couple stores, Smoking asks about the chockies. Sliding, now reminded of them, starts picking through your pockets, practically climbing up your leg. Kay-Bee falls out of your pack, and drops to the concrete floor. The plastic makes a cracking sound, and Storage quickly snatches it up as if he could keep it from breaking worse.

    The robot's eyes flash, it barks in a metallic rasp, "DO NOT TOUCH ME!" Storage's eyes wide in shock, Sliding squeals with excitement, but she's still trying to pick your pockets, and Smoking gasps.

    What do you do?
  • "Storage, give me the robot. Sliding, off me, now!" Dammit, I always let these kids get out of hand, and I'm pretty close to the edge after yesterday. I shove Sliding off me and she stumbles back a few steps and falls to the ground. Grab Kay-Bee from Storage, look the chassis over. What's the damage?
  • Let's see you Manipulate these kids to listen.
  • "Kids, calm the fuck down! I've got the chockies, and I don't want to have to eat them myself, got it?"

    Manipulate +1 XP
  • (Rolled: 2d6+0. Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 9)
  • Storage pretty much tosses the robot to you, freaked out at it, and your tone. Memories of Servo and beatings ensure the response. Smoking skips back a few steps, and even Sliding drops off your leg, hiding her hands. She says, "We trade chockies for calmity."

    Kay-Bee's z shield, right on its chest, cracked open. Cosmetic more than anything, but there's nothing to do for it, really. Also, the crack will grow over time. Maybe some epoxy or something could stem the tide, so to speak.

    Do you hand over the candies?
  • I hand over the candies. To Storage. "Share good."

    I'll tuck Kay-Bee back in my pack after I look it over. Not sure if there's any epoxy left in the Lab, but I'll check when I get back there. For now, I'll just make sure that the robot's secure.

    "Listen, kids. I got business to do, so I'm gonna let you eat your chockies. Storage, why don't you meet me at the door to P2 in a little bit, we'll go down and look at the generators."
  • Sliding and Smoking are already wandering off with the chockies. Storage nods, trying to hide his grin of anticipation, then he follows the other No kids, probably won't get but a morsel. They're sated for now.

    "I am... broken, Hottopic." Kay-Bee intones with what seems like sadness as you continue on to the AMC.
  • "It'll be okay, Kay-Bee. I'll make sure it doesn't get any worse, and find a way to patch you up good as new, if I can. Are you okay other than the crack? Did it... hurt? Do you need me to do anything right now?"
  • There is a pause, a beat that seems like Kay-Bee is considering. "It did not hurt. I do not want to lose function. Why are those children so disorderly, unruly and annoying, Hottopic?"
  • I laugh, and it's like a steam pipe busting under pressure. I laugh until tears are streaming from my eyes, and I actually have to sit down right there on the floor until the fit passes. A couple people actually stare and make their way around me carefully, like I might be contagious.

    "Kay-Bee, those children are so disorderly, unruly and annoying because they're children. They haven't learned yet how to be fucking chaotic, violent and hateful like most of the adults they come across. They'll get better. Storage at least really wants to learn stuff, and the other two, well... I try to give them a chance to just be kids every now and then. They're gonna be in the grownup shitstorm soon enough."

    More sober now. "Kay-Bee, I don't want you to lose function either, but I do want you to see the world, to learn about the things you have questions about. If you'd feel safer, I can leave you in the Lab?"

  • Without hesitation, Kay-Bee replies sharply in a rasp,"No. Do not leave me in the Lab. I will sacrifice safety for this opportunity. I have been safe for a very long time, since before I learned of time. I will continue to accompany you."

    Then, after a few moments, "What was humorous?"
  • I choke back another giggle. "I think humor might be an advanced lesson, Kay-Bee. I will say this, though. I laughed so hard because your question about the No kids gave me an excuse to laugh... it's healthy, like a pressure valve or a heat sink."

    After I've stood up and taken a few steps, "I'm glad you want to stay with me, out of the Lab, Kay-Bee."
  • Alright, Hottopic, you head on into the AMC. In the lobby you see Jet Black talking with Coming Soon.

    What don't you go over here?
Sign In or Register to comment.