Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, Currently on Hiatus...

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Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, Currently on Hiatus...

Postby RedEight » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:39 am

(I guess I should have done this earlier, but I am claiming time stamp rights to this.)
The parts between (@@@) are currently under heavy revision...

Steppe 4:

~Intro~

That was it, he'd exhausted his reserves. Yet the story wasn't over, probably not even halfway done. The others that hadn't been utterly destroyed or crippled had already began to pick up the pieces. The tear in reality had begun to close right after Caliburn made his decision and traveled through, and as it closed, the anomalies created by it slowed then faded away.

“We both know it ain't over,” a familiar voice said from behind him, “the doctor has to be stopped as well. Only the two of us know what he capable of, and odds are if he does succeed where Badson failed, and legitimately, all this will wind up ending the same.” She pulled herself up, dusting off bits and pieces of debris. “And gods only know where he's gone off to by now.”

“Yeah, I doubt he would have stuck around for the laser light show,” he agreed. “I guess... I guess there's only one way to do this. Are you going to find Mass?”

She was still behind him, but he knew she was nodding her head. “Yeah, odds are he'll have an idea of where the doc ran off to.”

“Give him my regards when you see him, okay?”

“Sure," she responded, the sorrow was thick in her voice.

"Gods, I literally have nothing left...” He looked down at his arm, the black stripes had completely receded down to his wrist, but were beginning to work their way back up. Where ever he ended up, he'd have to do something quick before it managed to spread much further. He pulled out a old roll of cloth and bandaged his arm. It had been a while, but a practiced hand never forgets.

“I'm sorry.” She leaned on his shoulder and whispered into his ear: “I love you...”

The blade ripped into his back and out his chest. He looked down at it, its green crystal like structure was beautiful with the lines of red running down it, its surface reflecting the progressively clearer sky. He realized the irony of the moment; everything was right, and yet, everything was terribly wrong.

He fell forward, and for the first time, he wondered just how long he could fly for. There was probably an equation that could determine such things. Eighty stories up, he knew he had a little bit. He outstretched his arms and legs and began to count

“One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand...”



Steppe 6:

~Stockholm~

I awoke in a field of golden wheat, swaying in an unseen wind. I lay sprawled out on the grass, the sun shining directly in my face for a few minutes before finally I coaxed myself to my feet. My outfit was in shambles and my normally curly black hair was matted down and caked with debris, but my sidearm and blade where still in their places, and intact. Three rounds left. The soft ticking of my life depleting warned me that the 'thing' in my arm, my curse, threatened to consume me soon, probably an hour with current resources.

I surveyed my surroundings, the fields went on for as far as the eye could see, crisscrossed occasionally by beaten dirt roads of a sand like tan color. The twelve o'clock sun beat down on the landscape, uninterrupted by clouds.

I turned and staggered towards the town that chance had placed me by. Carts hauling bundles of wheat rolled out of town while carts carrying boxes and supplies rolled in, their drivers saluting each other as they passed by. I didn't bother to take the path, I trudged through the fields, oblivious to any tenants that might take offense.

Stumbling onto the dirt road leading into town, I almost collapsed from exhaustion, the mark of the curse burned at my body stronger as my life deteriorated. A stranger turned and eyed me with curiosity but kept a healthy distance, unsure of my condition. I managed to stutter out 'help' through my increasing delirium, and began to spiral into a collapse, before a helping hand came out and caught me.

His aged face was graced with a warm mustache, his bald sun tanned head was ringed with white hair which matched his mustache in color and texture.

“Seems you need a hand my good friend, welcome to New Amsterdam,” he greeted me with a warm gruff voice.

I managed to crack a smile before finally blacking out.


I awoke on a bench with a blanket covering me, my blood smeared and tattered jacket lay crumpled on the floor next to bullet shredded pants, a past life now. My gun lay on a table nearby, along with my blade, its black and blue luminescent surface shimmering in the candle light. New bandages covered my right arm now, and I wondered if what lay beneath had been discovered.

“You have a peculiar infection on your right arm, stranger, the town doctor couldn't treat it,” a familiar voice said. The old man walked into the room. “He says without constant attention, it will kill you.”

I smiled at the word 'infection', it was definitely the best description I had heard in what seemed like a long while. “Yeah, I've had it for a while, this time was close though,” I chuckled the last part out, far too familiar with my 'condition.'

He walked up to my side and offered me several jars full of a red solution. “Here, these will keep your health up for now, but its definitely not a permanent solution.”

I accepted them graciously, placing them into my pack for future use.

“I got you a new getup, I doubt you want to walk around looking like you've been through hell.”

“Thank you kindly, your very courteous to a complete stranger; I was starting to think kindness didn't exist anymore,” I responded, accepting the new untattered clothes. “The name's Ezekiel Clayton.”

“Thad Walker at your service” he responded, “local blacksmith and carpenter.” He extended his hand in a welcoming manner, and I willingly accepted the hand shake. With that, he turned around and walked out of the room signaling that he would return in a moment. I climbed off the bench and put on the new clothes, a white tee shirt and white pants, and a brown leather vest to top it off. The task done, I returned to the bench I had woken up on, and sat down, leaning comfortably back while I waited for my host to return.

“That infection on your arm,” he said as he walked back into the cozy living room and offered me a cup of steaming tea, “I've never seen one the good doctor couldn't cure. Would it be a bother if I asked you where it came from?”

I thought the question over for a minute, trying to decide the best way to approach the topic. The warm tea was soothing, and after a moment I began to recant the story of how I came to be in New Amsterdam.



Steppe 2, 4:

~One Hundred on Hand~

He pushed himself up off the pavement, gun shots rang out in all directions as chaos rolled through the city in waves. Somewhere down the street, a car smashed into a street lamp. Ezekiel surveyed his surroundings, the city looked like a modern New York; complete with shady New York alley ways. A man waving something over his head started yelling and running in Ezekiels' direction, and without a second thought, he turned and bolted down one said alleyway to escape.

Rounding a corner, he realized there was no escape, another man with a pistol was walking down shooting at anything that moved. Ezekiel turned to run back the way he came, but it was too late. Lead smacked into his body, and red erupted from the fresh wounds immediately. He tried to stagger away, but three more gun shots ensured that he stopped dead. This was week two since the beginning.



The second time he knew better. Kill or be killed, that was the name of the game here. It wasn't what he had been expecting right off the bat, but he realized with so many scared people all packed into such a small space, with several wanting to save their own skins while others felt that they had to conquer their fear by exerting their paranoid equivalent to confidence.

He hit the ground running, trying to get as big a distance from all the violence and madness as he possibly could before it threatened to swallow him. Cars swerved down sidewalks, bricks and bottles shattered windows, and gunfire rung out in all directions. If one or the other increased in volume, he would alter his course to avoid any pockets of nonsensical destruction.

At one point he encountered a person much like himself being held up at gun point. He longed to run, but what would that accomplish, spread more discontent, more anger? He picked up a pipe, and ended that assaulter before he even had a chance to react. The would be victim simply looked on in terror though, and ran away. The world was cruel, chaotic. The selfish prevailed, the selfless suffered. It was three weeks before stability was realized.

…..

The fighting started die off after a week or so as people spread out and populations thinned out. Ezekiel had managed to reach a relatively quite part of the city and like others, wandered, searching for a purpose in life. Waves of paranoia still swept by though, and the need for order was blindingly apparent. The question was: what exactly constituted order?

Here and there, gangs had begun to crop up. They were relatively small, but offered the shelter and safety that most were seeking. Ezekiel had known better though; such things would lead to internal struggles for power, as well as external struggles for territory. Short term stability always leads to long term problems. There had to be a better solution.

There was only one other way, the way of the law. Fortunately for Ezekiel, it wasn't all that hard to join the law enforcement this early on. The general lack of interest and the ingrained feelings of self preservation deterred most from joining the fight. Why run back into the fray when you spent most of the beginning escaping it?

Income came in steadily, and finding a place to live wasn't too difficult with the population fluctuating regularly at its own hands. For each instance of violence squelched, Ezekiel and the other volunteers earned commissions as well. Policing the streets offered the excitement, authority, and payment that made the lifestyle well worth the risks of losing it all to a bad decision or a comrades mistake. The best aspect of the line of work was that as they did their jobs, the risks became fewer and fewer.

In time order became the norm, and most violence had reduced itself to petty gang squabbles that never fully worked themselves out during the chaos. More and more, disorganized street violence lost its appeal as people realized that far more could be gained by becoming a contributing member of the society. With the calming came the first elections, first businesses, and first organized competitions for the more action oriented members of society who felt no commitment to public safety.

The benefits of police work attracted newcomers, and soon days were no longer spent patrolling streets and busting criminal hideouts. Ezekiel found time to enjoy the city that he had helped to raise from the darkness, as well as hone his training. Organization swept through like a wave, and soon things became standardized. Regular laws became established and procedure became as important as the work itself. Finally, order stood above chaos.
Last edited by RedEight on Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:31 pm, edited 22 times in total.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated irregularly

Postby RedEight » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:10 pm

Steppe 6:
 
 ~Interlude no. 1~

“You chose the life of a law man, that's very noble of you,” Thad broke his silence, clearly impressed.
 
“Yeah,” I smiled and imagined looking like a old west sheriff, tin star and all. “It wasn't quite what you would think it was like. For a while we were just as disorganized as the people we were fighting. It was a complete mess. As for jail; it was a nightmare just trying to figure out how to detain criminals. I mean half the time we went in shooting simply because there was gunplay. The only things that gave us an edge were being organized and the trust a uniform brings.
 
It went on like this for a while; training, patrolling, learning new regulations and the fine art of nonlethal combat resolutions. On my time off, I wandered around the local area, searching for vices and distractions to occupy my time. Wasn't long till underground fighting clubs started popping up. And of course, when competition starts, so does cheating. Pretty soon gangs actually had a purpose in producing and pushing stimulants for fighters. On the more official circuits, such substances were banned. When that happened, then the city outlawed their usage and production. Simply put, gangs became a serious business.”
 
I paused and took a sip of the tea, checking to see if my host had lost his attention. He simply nodded and motioned for me to continue on. Amazed at my company's patience, I set the cup down and returned to my tale.
 
“With the number of police officers swelling thanks to the positive publicity we were receiving thanks to our success rate, gangs had to become more sophisticated. Development of advanced technology on top of the immense crackdown on drug trafficking eventually led to a street level arms race. Petty crimes gave way to full on terrorist attacks.”
 
“Sounds like a tough time,” Thad interrupted, “I'd imagine you had your hands full.”.
 
“It was busy, definitely. As time progressed however, our training became more specialized and we acquired more recruits. We opened more stations, bought more patrol cars, became more efficient.”
 
“Were you an officer until your death?”
 
“No, amazingly I never met my end in government work.” I thought about my death, just over two hours ago. Anger and frustration reared their heads for a moment, but I brushed them aside for the present. My host had begun to shift uneasily in the awkward silence and fearing losing his interest I quickly collected my thoughts, starting again where I had left off.
 
“With all the violence being contained and pushed further below the surface of the city, people were able to grow their businesses, and soon major corporations began to spring up. Huge towers began to rise up at the center and within a month, the city had nearly doubled in size. Among the largest of these was a company called Spartan Pharmaceutical.

Spartan Tower rose up in the center of the city, the building towering over all others. The business was started when the owner, Thomas Cooke, began mass producing medicine and developing advanced medical technologies which he marketed to the hospitals that were also beginning to spring up everywhere. Unfortunately, it was inevitable that the war against crime began to spill into the business world. Then the hackers started showing up.”



Steppe 4:

~The End of Normalcy~

It was about three months into Ezekiels' time on the fourth Steppe that hackers began to take their place in the daily activities of New Land City. They always came in two forms, either blatantly god like in form and stature, or less seen shadowy and acting behind the scenes; twisting the aspects of the game to suit their personal gains through corrupt bargains and subterfuge. While on the surface the god-players wrecked the most havoc; it was the subtle hackers that caused the most damage to the cities infrastructure. Combined however, they were a serious threat to the stability of the populations way of life.

As the city grew and corporations became more powerful, the need to stamp out competition created a demand for such people, as each organization sought to gain a upper hand over one another. Such deals went against the EULA and the ToS, but most felt the risk was well worth the outcome. At first the police tasked themselves with rooting out such corruption, then it got out of hand. With hacking becoming widespread across the Steppes, even the admins became stressed in eliminating the menace. In the end, they began tasking people who shared the concern to aid in the ongoing battle.

The police did their part, but even advances in technology could only do so much against such a threat. Eventually it reached the point where even they dreaded what the next phone call or patrol would bring. Inevitably, encountering a hacker was going to happen.

For Ezekiel, that time came during a drug bust that was carried out at the city docks, aboard a drug laden cargo ship. The incident started off normal, until they realized upon boarding the ship that the typical compliment of armed thugs was completely absent. At first, the absence sparked a flicker of doubt amongst his comrades, until one by one, radio contact amongst officers was cut off. Dying screams announced the entrance of that which they had come to fear; the dealer had replaced standard armed guards with a single overpowered one.

Retreat was sounded as soon as the call of 'hacker' was announced across the deck. One by one, they were picked off amongst the cargo containers, until only Ezekiel and one other were left, evacuating the ship and sprinting across the docks. They scrambled for the street, seeking any sense of security, but the crash of a monstrous body onto the pavement before them squelched such thoughts.

(@@@)

Steppe 6:

~Interlude pt. 2~

“Excuse me a second,” Thad interjected, “the wife is calling.”
Last edited by RedEight on Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated irregularly

Postby Tuor » Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:41 am

Rule 3 Addendum 2 wrote:All chapters/works will go in one thread per person. Wholesale deletion is FUN.
Last edited by Tuor on Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Suddenly Frodo noticed that a strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall, was also listening intently to the hobbit-talk. He had a tall tankard in front of him, and was smoking a long-stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud. A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits."
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated irregularly

Postby RedEight » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:28 am

I smiled and waited patiently. After a dragged out silence, Thad rejoined the conversation.

“I'm sorry, this is where I am going to have to cut you off,” he explained to me suddenly. “I have to leave for the night; but please feel free to stay here as long as you need.”

“Thank you,” I responded, “I really appreciate the kindness you have shown, I hope I can repay you.”

“Think nothing of,” he said, and with that he was gone.

I grabbed my pistol off the table and pulled a cleaning and repair kit out of my pack. I worked in a meditative state, disassembling the gun to its inner workings; cleaning and retuning it the best I could to suit my needs. Once that work was done, I decided to quit for the day and rest till tomorrow.


It was mid day when I exited my kind hosts house. I chose to leave my weapons behind, the town seemed to be quiet enough. The sun hung high in the air and the summer wind blew small dust clouds across the main street. Here and there, people scurried about their duties, sweeping side walks, hammering up signs, raising walls for new buildings.

I searched my pack, retrieving a jar of red liquid. Popping the top, I gulped it down and after checking my bandaged right arm, I began to explore the town. Occasionally, carts pulled by horses rode past, and I was greeted with a warm hello. I wandered through this pleasantness till I came to New Amsterdam's general store. I believed I had found heaven inside of a video game.

The walls were lined with all sorts of nicknacks that you would expect in a small farming community. Hammers, hatchets, and picks were the primary topic of one wall, another with feeds and fertilizers. They had the ammunition that my revolver fired, but the quality was quite low. Still, I had no other options, and settled on fifty rounds and a roll of bandages for my arm.

Next, I made my way to the outfitters. There I found a decent pair of leather moccasins that would suit my needs. Satisfied that my errands had been completed I returned to Thad Walkers home to check and see if he was around yet. Outside his quaint white two story home stood a older woman with silver hair. She was busily sweeping off the walkway in front of the doorway. Noticing me, she stopped her task and greeted me.

“Hello, I am Helena Walker, Thad's wife,” she exclaimed with a smile. “And you must be Mr. Ezekiel.”

“Aye, Thad didn't tell me his wife was here with him.”

“Aye,” she replied, “been with him ever since we founded this town a month back.” She reached into a pocket and fished out a key, which she offered to me. “Come, you are welcome to stay as long as you need, of course there will be chores to do, but I think for now we can fix up a room for you whilst my husband is away.”

I followed her into the house where she led me upstairs to the first room on the right. The room was a medium size, occupied solely by a weaving wheel and a desk with a couple chairs and a small wooden bookshelf. On the far side of the room was a lone window, divided into four small sections. Hard wood clicked beneath our feet as we walked in.

“This should do nicely; come, help me move all this downstairs, you can keep the desk if you want, we don't use it.”

“Thank you kindly,” I responded. I walked over and aided her in carrying the weave wheel out and downstairs to the living room.

“So Mr. Clayton, there a special lady in your life as well?” Helena inquired as she followed me down the flight of stairs, chair in hand.

I paused at the question, and then continued on in silence. Once the chair had been set in its place, I joined her at the table for a cup of tea.

“There is a girl, I guess. She is definitely special too, I guess,” I said setting the glass of tea down on the table. “She is the reason that I am here today.”

“Oh? Did you come looking for her?” Helena inquired. Her curiosity now clearly peaked, I saw no way of getting out of telling another story.

“No, she was the one that killed me.”

“She killed you!?” Helena's look turned from playful curiosity to shock and confusion immediately.

“Aye, stabbed me in the back, figuratively and literally.” I took another sip and straightened the story out the best I could from memory. Confident, I set the glass down and began.

“It was a while after the pharmaceutical company had taken over as active ruling body for the city. Government goons like me were now either unemployed, active gang members, or part of a privately contracted security company. I was the latter.

I always refused jobs that were handed down by Spartan Pharmaceutical however. They were the ones who now controlled everything, and they were the ones who put me out of a job and almost got me killed in the first place. In fact, I preferred the contracts that involved sabotaging those Spartan bastards.”

“A lawman to the end I see,” Helena chimed in, “My husband told me about you being a police officer when you started. That's a very bold move if I do say so myself.” She took a sip of her tea and sat it down before continuing. “My husband and I, as well as a few of our personal friends, left the city and settled out here, fearing the dangers of that life and wanting to build something by our own hands.”
Last edited by RedEight on Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated irregularly

Postby Mathias » Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:12 am

Under the notion that you would ask for it to be unlocked in the future once you've done enough "brainstorming." Don't be an ass to senior members.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated irregularly

Postby RedEight » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:54 am

“That's a very noble and brave cause as well if I have ever heard one,” I responded. “Its far nobler to create something with one's own hands than to destroy something of another.”

“Confucius says?” she said with a smile, raising a finger and pointing to the ceiling as if to add emphasis. We both shared a brief laugh before she finally motioned for me to continue with my story.

“I continued as a merc for a while, I think maybe two months, working my way up the ranks to squad leader after only a few weeks. This was primarily because of my prior police training gave me a edge over the random street thugs that usually applied for these sorts of jobs. Frequently I would find myself giving pointers to others in the proper approaches to certain situations.

Jobs took me everywhere from infiltrating and planting explosives on heavily guarded cargo ships that a client needed sunk, to putting a tuxedo on and covertly assassinating high class targets at parties. Information on me had for the most part been erased thanks to the city wide police precinct bombings, so I was able to escape most situations unidentified.

During this point, I became very proficient in the use of bladed weapons, my personal favorite being a tactical knife with an eight inch blade. This got carried in every job I was ordered on, coupled with my knowledge in take downs it made me a killing machine in close combat. I suppose this was the time when I really lost my way as a man of the law, but I never really believed that what I was doing was wrong. You know?” I shrugged my shoulders with at the end.

She nodded back, but I doubted that she understood what I meant. Rather than press the issue, however, I decided the best thing to do was continue on.

“The city was growing as well. Various companies has risen to the challenge of Spartan, mostly thanks to the free reign private contract security forces now had. Unfortunately the constant power struggle led to cheating. At first it was easy to miss that something was off with the city and life in general. It took a while for the knowledge spread. Soon enough, though, it became an issue that you found hard to avoid.

Hackers had bugan to rear their ugly heads everywhere. Fortunately the company I worked for refused take contracts if either party was company to a known hacker, and I rarely ever left the barracks to wander the city. My world was very dark at this point, my primary contact with the outside world being only on the journey to a mission, and a small TV next to my bunk which constantly streamed the current news. I had even begun to take on a ghostly pale complexion, but I didn't care. My mind was always on survival.

A month into this life style I encountered my first hacker, and my first hacker hunter. With the corporate cold war going on, the numbers over hackers within city limits was swelling, and hunting them was becoming a lucrative business as well. Contracts on their heads were often five to ten times the price as a top ranking executive of a leading corporation. Smart hackers were often subtle and clever, but quiet often by this point inexperienced hackers were everywhere, turning themselves into the typical superman; super strong and super tough, and going on rampages through the streets causing complete chaos. Admins were quick to remove such inconveniences, but their ever increasing numbers meant that several always managed to slip by and survive to become more experienced and cunning.”

“You mean to tell me you ran into a hacker and survived?!” Helena seemed in shock

“Have you experience with the devils as well?” I inquired upon hearing the comment.

“Heaven's no, we traveled out here to avoid all that nonsense.” Helena took a sip of tea and set the glass back on the table. “Hackers are the reason our New Land City is in ruins now. Two of them, stubborn as brick walls, got it in their minds to go to war with each other over simple territory. I mean honestly, look at all this land we are afforded. And in the end, all they did was destroy each other and the city, along with half the Step's population. A war that ends in nothing.” She shook her had and took another sip of her tea, its trail of steam steadily fading.

I imagined the city I knew, suddenly ripped apart by a massive explosion. It had seen its share of chaos and destruction, but the last I had seen, it still stood. Thanks to the local hero, it had made it through most close calls unscathed.

“Enough with this rambling though, please continue on,” Helena began prodding again. “I want to hear about this girl of yours.”

“Ah yes, where was I?” I paused and thought back to a few moments earlier, zeroing in on where I had left off. “I was issued a standard sabotage mission, sinking a cargo ship before it left port. Intel told us that our time was limited, the ship deported around nine pm. My team and I assembled just before seven, and after being issued our equipment, we were transported via a large black unmarked shipping truck to our targets location.

Dusk cast a eerie dark pink hue to the world by the time we arrived. Our sniper exited first, opening the large swinging rear doors and jumping out onto the pavement. He carried his rifle disassembled in a black bag into an apartment building across the street. His duty was to reach the roof and provide cover and support from the position, whilst remaining in radio contact with base at all times.

Once he confirmed his position, our turn came next. Six of us jumped out of the back of the truck in rapid succession and proceeded to take cover just outside the entrance of the docks. Each of us carried high class custom firepower. Silenced assault rifles of a local manufacture that hand crafted each one to near perfection; silenced nine millimeter pistols with red dots; and high grade tactical vests that were rated to tolerate anything short of light support machine gun fire.

Our explosives and infiltration expert, Alpha One, was not quite as fortunate in his equipment. His pack crammed full of tools for the mission allowed him to carry only a simple side arm, his choice was a heavy forty five revolver. Excellent for taking down a large target in a few rounds, or a few targets in a single round. It was massive and loud, but what it lacked in subtlety, it more than made up for in sheer power, and if all went according to plan he wouldn't even have to draw it.

Our mission was to escort him to where the cargo was being stored on the boat, and as such, we went in first, with our mission expert in toe. I knew something was wrong when we had made it aboard the ship without encountering any hostiles, but what happened next I did not expect.

Cargo crates covered the deck of the ship, making eye level visibility severely limited. We decided to fan out to clear the area, each taking a specific route that each met up on the far side, near the entrance to the companionway, the destination of our expert. Confirming that my section of the deck was clear, I made my way to the bulkhead, and waited for five minutes.

Silence turned from relief to concern while I waited, and eventually I chose to break radio silence to get and update on my squad mates statuses. Only silence answered to confirm, I knew something was wrong. That's when I heard Alpha Two scream. I saw a blur over my head as my team mate was sent flying through the air, over the docks and all the way into the streets of the city.

“HACKER!” The cry went out over the intercom, gunfire followed suit.

“RETREAT!” I called back. I turned and sprinted for the way I came as Alpha Four smashed into a cargo containter in front of me, exploding into a cloud of red meaty chunks. I tucked and rolled through the mess, barely making it between two containers as they smashed into each other behind me.

I made it to the dock, grabbing Alpha One who had drawn his revolver and was aiming it behind me. I looked over my shoulder as we ran, catching a glimpse of a huge muscular figure clutching one of my team mates by the head, which he then proceeded to smash into the deck of the ship. I looked back ahead, we were now climbing a grassy hill to the street. Something whistled through the air behind us. I turned to Alpha One as we hit the street just in time to see a massive blue cargo container come crashing down on top of him.

I rolled out of the way of the massive thing as it crashed across the street, taking out a passing car and a couple bystanders standing next to the haggard body of Alpha Two. I ran to the side of my team mate, he was battered badly, but he was coherent enough to stammer to his feet with my help.

“Alpha One?” He asked, still delirious from being thrown a city block.

I looked over my shoulder to the cargo container sticking out of the ruins of a small corner shop. “They're all gone.”
Last edited by RedEight on Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated irregularly

Postby Tuor » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:16 pm

It's not really a threat, it's just making you aware of the rules. I was just trying to save you some grief, so you're welcome I guess.
"Suddenly Frodo noticed that a strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall, was also listening intently to the hobbit-talk. He had a tall tankard in front of him, and was smoking a long-stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud. A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits."
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated irregularly

Postby RedEight » Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:44 am

We turned back down the street, I struggling to keep my teammate upright as we attempted to flee. We hadn't made it far when something crashed into the street before us, concrete and dust flying into the air and smashing back down everywhere. We paused and I let my partner down, both of us raising our rifles, prepared for anything. The dust settled, revealing a large muscular figure well over nine feet tall. His head was bald, his immense torso bare. The only article of clothing was a pair of blue jeans, shredded around his bare feet.

He opened his mouth to say something but we didn't intend to listen. Simultaneously we opened fire, our guns flashing as they whispered metallic death towards the enemy. The bullets pinged off his skin in a rain of sparks, his skin apparently the quality of steel. He grinned at the volley and roared, then he was after us, a freight train of a man hell bent on steam rolling us. My partner pushed me out of the way as the hacker bore down on him. I sprawled out on the street, managing to climb back up in time to see Alpha Two explode into a cloud of red as a beastly fist connected with his chest with the force of a semi traveling at eighty miles and hour.

More sparks erupted off my foe as our marksman finally decided to lay covering fire from his eagles nest. The hacker hardly noticed, deciding instead to pick up an abandoned car and toss it towards the new assailant. I looked up in awe as the vehicle flew through the air like a football, crashing into the snipers position. I was truly alone now.

The hacker turned back towards me, his gleeful laughter mingling with the sounds of utter chaos as debris rained down onto the street. Onlookers now began their retreat, realizing that I was most likely not where this little rampage was going to end.

“You stupid fools, you challenge a god with simple toys?!” He bellowed at me. “No simple weapon can stop me, I am the most powerful player on this Step!”

I opened fire again as my enemy strolled unphased over to a street lamp. I knew there was no hope, and I didn't care. If I was going to die, I was going to go causing as much damage as I could. Bullets ricocheting off him harmlessly, my enemy grasped the lamp and pulled, ripping it out of the ground. He took a few practice swings, smashing in a car and sending a mailbox and garbage can flying, their contents bursting out in a bizarre confetti of envelops and waste.

He turned his attention to me, my gun now empty after I had dumped its contents uselessly at him. The hacker pulled back and began swinging wildly at me. I ducked under the first swing, but he was immediately back with another, this time hitting me square in the chest. The impact was intense; instantly I was half dead and half a block back where I had come from, my body indented into the side of a car. I fell to my knees trying to force myself back upright.

My enemy walked casually towards me, a sadistic grin across his face, the lamp pole slung lazily over his shoulder.

“There is only one goal in this game. That is to survive,” my unnamed enemy explained in a deep yet overly cheerful voice. “To survive you must be more powerful than everyone else...”

He wound up for another swing, but I was ready. I rolled under the arch of the swing, landing on my stomach some distance away. Behind me, the the top of the car I had crashed into was sent flying in the air as the lamp pole ripped through it. I pushed my self up off the ground, in front of me was a red stain trail of blood, I followed it to a severed arm, the hand still clutching a large revolver.

I stumbled towards it, my enemy slowly following me, his laughter echoing in my head. I fell down next to the arm and wrenched the gun from its death grip. I started to turn but my foe's voice told me he was right on top of me.

“There is only one rule,” he said, “survival of the fittest...”

I rolled on my back, the massive pistol in my hands, I took aim and fired. It was more of an explosion that a gun shot, and it kicked like a mule. The bullet hit between his eyes and once again exploded into tiny sparks, useless. I unleashed two more as the hacker lifted the pole over his head for the deathblow.

“...And I am the most fit.”

A white and silver blur flashed behind my enemy as he brought his arms down, intent on finishing me once and for all; but all his arms carried were bloody stumps. We were both bewildered as he looked in shock at his missing arms while everything else from the elbow down and the lamp post fell to the street behind him.

“You are a fool,” a new voice chimed in, “and fools are unfit to survive.”

I turned to the source of the voice. He was a tall lanky man with wavy silver hair spiked back behind his head. His kimono like robe was pulled off his shoulders and hung down his back revealing a body that was completely covered in scars. He had already sheathed his katana before either the hacker or I had realized something had happened.

“You bastard!” the hacker roared once his confusion subsided.

He had hardly turned to face the back of my rescuer when another figure darted through the air over me, landing on the hackers shoulders. The force of two twelve gauge slugs unleashing themselves on the back of his head sent the towering armless figure crashing face first into the pavement. The new addition did a flip and landed lightly beside me.

A hand covered with a fingerless glove came down and I accepted the assistance. Climbing to my feet I came face to face with the girl.”

“Well, that's one way to meet a woman I guess...” Helena chimed in. “You met her when she saved you, and you left her when she killed you, that's pretty poetic.”

“Yeah...” I nodded and took a sip of the now cool tea. “She wore a beanie of alternating blue black and red stripes underneath which strands of black hair dangled loosely. Her unzipped jacket followed the same theme, beneath which was a white tank top, with a pair of dog tags hanging down her chest. Past that she wore tan baggy cargo shorts and tan sneakers.

“You alright?” She asked warmly, a gentle smile on her face. “Don't worry, we got this one covered.”

“What good is all that power and invulnerability if you can't do anything with it?” Another new person walked into the scene. He was average height, his figure covered in a long black trench coat. Long curly black hair partially obscured his facial features, but the scar that ran from his eye down to his chin was still visible. He stopped next to the incapacitated hacker, and pulled out two three foot long blades, each of which he jammed into the muscle man's shoulders, pinning him to the concrete.

“You bastards! When I get new arms, I'm going to personally hunt down each of you and utterly destroy you! You have no idea who you fucked with!” The hacker squirmed, trying to break free, turning his head this way and that, trying to add emphasis to each word as he spoke. “Your all dead,” he laughed, “you just haven't re....”

“You know, you are right. About survival anyways.” The heavily scarred swordsman now joined the man in the black trench coat. The girl joined them as well.

“Swifty to Homebase, target is down, proceeding with deletion.” The girl who had helped me to my feet spoke into a headset, she nodded to each of her team mates and they each nodded back.

“We are all trying to survive, that's the point of the game, that's why we are transferred to a different server when we die, so that life has meaning.” The swordsman continued his rant to the shrieking hacker. “Its people like you who can't figure out how to survive, the ones that need to cheat, that ruin the game for everyone else.”

The man in the trench coat had retrieved a device that looked like a gun with two huge needles sticking out of the barrel. “Weak,” he said as he jammed the needles into the disabled hackers back. “Now, your going to tell us how you hacked your character, and your going to tell us who has been hiring hackers.”

“I ain't saying shit asshole,” the hacker spat back, “Troll doesn't explain himself to anyone!”

“I wasn't asking 'Troll' to say anything, your data is going to tell us everything we need to know, “ the man in the trench coat explained to him, “and once we find your employer, we will make sure his account is punished as well for promoting illegal activities within the game.” He pulled the trigger and the hacker's body immediately went rigid. “There's the disconnect, and now the deletion.”

I was in awe as the hacker slowly faded from reality. They stood around the body, watching it and muttering to each other till it was completely gone. I had almost forgotten that I was even standing there, till the girl turned and rejoined me.

“I'm sorry about your friends,” she said apologetically, “assholes like this always seem to find a way to ruin everyone's good time.”

“I...I... They weren't my friends, and they knew the risk when they took the job,” I responded, finally snapping back into the present.

“You know you have a lot of guts trying to take down a hacker like that. You ever consider getting into the business?”

“Honestly, I just want to play the game and that's it.” I turned my attention from the empty place the hacker had occupied to the girl. “Not do the job of an admin.”

“To each his own I guess,” she said shrugging her shoulders, “If you ever change your mind, the name is Claudia Deliah, but my team calls me Swifty. The white haired guy with the sword, that's Mass, and the other is Shane. But like I said if you ever change your mind, call me.” She smiled and waved before joining her team as they navigated back through the wreckage back into the city. I collapsed again, badly beaten, all I could do was wait for an ambulance to come retrieve me.”

I looked up at Helena and offered her the empty cup of tea. “And that's how I met the girl, Claudia.”
Last edited by RedEight on Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated irregularly

Postby Mathias » Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:04 pm

I'm not sure what you mean by that story being a "bit much for a website like this," but I can surmise that you mean because the only stories that really get attention here are fan fictions and the occasional poetry thread. And that thing by Griddles, I guess. I know from experience. Can't really say if anyone is reading your works, tbh. This sub-forum has always been pretty dead. I know from experience. Mods don't even come in here anymore.
If you're not already familiar with it, the site webook.com is a good place to share and get feedback and agents even view the site.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 1/21/2012

Postby RedEight » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:29 am

******************

I wandered around town the next afternoon. Now knowing the names of half the town from after Thad's wife had explained its occupants the previous day, I felt far more comfortable with the quaint place. Thad was around today, labouring away at the smiths, repairing various farming equipment for the locals. The sight of my holster had made the locals a bit curious of my presence; judging by the average level of technology, they probably had never seen a firearm before, at least not in a long time.

Normally I would have left it behind, but now knowing of Thad's talents, I figured that he could probably do some repair work and maintenance for the machine, better than what my own skills allowed for.

“Good evening,” I called out as I entered the old fashioned shop. Thad swung the sturdy hammer one more time, striking a shovel blade he had pressed against an anvil. The action done, he paused and set his work down to wave back.

“Good evening Mr. Clayton, and how does today find you?” he asked with a smile. He stood up and walked over, shaking my hand to welcome me in.

The shop was as rustic as the town itself. Hard wood floors and dusty hard wood furniture, cabinets, and shelves filled the space, almost all surfaces were covered in either smithing tools or broken farming equipment that was soon to be repaired or replaced. Oil lamps burned here and there, casting a yellowish glow which faded into the white light of the noonday sun.

“All is well, this is a very peaceful town you have here, I have half a mind to settle in for good.” I smirked back at him, and he burst out laughing at the comment. “I was hoping you could take a look at this and see if there is anything you could do to tune it up again for me.” I unholstered the heavy revolver and offered it to him.

He looked down at the thing and then shook his head. “I'm sorry Mr. Clayton, but with that I can't help you. Its simply against my policy.”

I thought back to the story his wife told me, about the fate of Step Six's New Land City, the place they had started in. I nodded and holstered the gun.

“You might want to try Mr. Richards down a few buildings. Its not a shop, but he does have the know how that your looking for, though it might take some convincing to get him out of his house.” He picked up the hammer again and repositioned the shovel against the anvil. “I simply just don't agree with guns, even in a game. All they cause is trouble, though I understand your case is different.”

“The case is never different for anyone, but I thank you kindly.” I waved and turned as Thad went back to pounding the shovel back to its proper shape.

“Its the second house past the general store on the left,” Thad said between two hammer strikes as I exited the building.

I thanked him in turn and began my journey to meet this mysterious Mr. Richards. My journey was uneventful aside from the occasional passerby that I greeted warmly but was only returned with silence as they eyed the firearm strapped to my left hip with caution. Still, I kept up the friendly facade, hoping not to make any enemies in such a calm quiet place.
Mr. Richards' house was a drab run down yet cozy looking structure. Its proximity to the center of town informed me of the length of time he had been a part of the community. I knocked on the door and called out to inform him of my presence, but at first my attempts to communicate were met only with silence. After a minute, I had all but given up, but the mostly AFK player finally responded to my summons.

“Yes, yes, I know I know, I got the message, one minute...” A gruff older voice said through the door. A second later and the sounds of several metal bolts sliding out of place announced that Mr. Richards was preparing to greet me in person.

The surprisingly heavy door slowly creaked opened, revealing a man masked half in the shadows of an unlit building, and half unveiled in the light of the afternoon sun. His hair was a blend of gray and black, a disheveled unkempt mess which rested upon a head severely scarred on the right side and yet surprisingly young. The cut and burn scars ran from his forehead down the entire right side of his face and down to his neck, his right eye a dead milky white, his left a deep hazel. His face was covered in gray and black stubble which ended just past the right of his chin, the wrest of his face a glossy smooth bubbled surface.

I unholstered my revolver and presented it to him. He eyed the motion with caution, and eyed the death device equally. After a moment he reached out and retrieved the gun from my grasp, and tossing it and snapping open the revolving action with his hands with fluid ease, he nodded and hummed. “Yes, I do believe I can help you here Mr. Clayton, please, come inside.”

He turned and walked into the darkness of his home, the gun still being inspected by his hands and one good eye. I followed him inside, the room becoming near pitch black once the heavy door had swung shut behind me. I stood in darkness for a moment, daring not to move lest I should stumble into my host or some odd piece of furniture. After an awkward moment, a match was struck and a oil lamp was lit, revealing a room devoid of furniture save for a single table at the center populated with two chairs. The entire place was unkempt, hard wood had turned gray from misuse and cobwebs were strung about in every corner of the room.

He hung the lamp on a hook on the ceiling and set the revolver on the table, kicking up a small cloud of dust. I could hardly believe anyone had lived in here for this long. Especially for someone who spent all of their time within their home, it was a disheveled mess. He looked over his shoulder at me, continuing to eye me with a level of caution, he motioned to a chair and stepped out of the room.

I settled down in the chair, the motion of pulling back the seat and sitting down both causing small clouds of dust to rise into the air and then settle back down. Mr. Richards didn't seem to really care much about the property he had accrued within the game, the sign of a man who didn't plan to stick around on a Step for very long.

After a short time, he returned to the room, a tool kit and cleaning kit in hand. He settled in the seat across from me and in silence, set up his equipment and began disassembling my firearm. I was in awe at the methodology of his work; having never seen the revolver before, he immediately unscrewed the barrel and removed the revolving mechanism. He worked over them with tools I had never seen, he cleaned and retooled the two pieces before turning his attention to the firing mechanism.

“This is an elegant weapon you have here,” he said as he worked over the gun, twisting and adjusting screws. He pulled the hammer back and dry fired several times, adding oil and digging further into the gun till the clicking of the hammer fall was soft and precise. “Its been shooting to the left hasn't it, and the trigger has had a slight delay as well.”

I was taken back, he had deduced all this simply by eying the machine, never once seeing it in action.
Last edited by RedEight on Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 1/21/2012

Postby Mathias » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:01 am

I think you have the wrong impression, I'm certainly not trying to stop you. Kudos on 50 readers. I hope they give you good feedback.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 1/21/2012

Postby RedEight » Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:50 am

Charrrggge!




Run awaaaaaay!
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 1/27/2012

Postby RedEight » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:14 pm

Now we get to the good part
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 2/1/2021 (lol)

Postby RedEight » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:36 pm

Sorry for the delay, been a bit busy lately, but updated.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 2/18/2012

Postby RedEight » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:48 pm

He eyed the barrel one more time, then, sure of his work he promptly reassembled the gun. Without even looking up, he snapped open the chamber and began loading rounds that he had fished out of his pocket. The motion was quick, but once the gun was loaded, he reset it and in a blur I was staring down the barrel of my own pistol.

“I don't know your story son,” he stared at me with a deathly serious look, “don't know where you came from neither, but I know what you are. Could practically smell it a mile away. Now, I'm sure your not here to cause trouble, otherwise you would have already. The only reason I helped you is because Thad requested that I do, and hopefully it will only quicken getting you out of this town.” His voice had become low, his face far darker than it had been when he first started working.

“Look I'm not here to cause trouble,” I responded, raising my hands in surrender, “I've had plenty of that where I came from.”

“Yes, and it always seems to follow your kind where ever you show up.” He motioned the gun to my bandaged arm, “I don't know how you got that, but trust me, if you even decide to play that game with my town, you will answer to me personally.”

He turned the gun in his hand and offered me the handle. With some hesitation I accepted it back, promptly setting it into its holster.

“Now,” he motioned to the door leading out the back of his house, “I have targets set up if you want to try it out; but don't get too carried away and spook the locals.”

I nodded, afraid to do or say anything that might send him over the edge. I followed him out back where he had set up three semi human shaped wood cutouts with simple targets marked in their centers. Thad really must have prepared him for me, thank you Thad.

“Alright, lets see if you've managed to maintain any sense of actual skill despite your little gift.” Mr. Richards stepped over to the side and stood there with his arms crossed, watching me.

I looked over at him, then back at the targets. The motion was quick, not quite a blur, but the gun crashed three times in thundering succession, each one finding their mark dead center. Wood splintered, but on the whole, the cutouts remained structurally sound.

“Christ kid!” Richards had uncrossed his arms and walked towards me. “You fire that thing with one hand?”

I nodded and he shook his head in response.

“Try it with two hands, less recoil and a steadier aim, that's not a nine millimeter street thug toy.”

“I can't,” I responded, “my right arm doesn't work right anymore.”

“That's a pretty shitty hack then, what's the point if you can't use your arm?”

“It still works for certain tasks,” I explained, “just most of the normal functions were overwritten in order to accommodate it. I use to shoot right handed.”

“Okay, well lets see it then.” He stepped up next to me and watched while I removed the bandage.

There was a single black oval on the back of my hand and several black stripes around it, like feverishly designed zebra strips that held no particular pattern. They circled around my hand, between a couple of fingers, and ended just above my wrist.

“Well that's not impressive at all, hardly warrants wearing bandages.” He eyed it with curiosity, rubbing his stubbly chin as he inspected it. “Well, what the hell does it do if you can't use it for something as simple as shooting a gun.”

“It consumes excess data.”

“What?”

“When hackers alter their character data; flight, strength, invulnerability, teleportation, anything that's not supposed to be part of normal character data; that's excess data and this hack consumes it. If it doesn't feed for a while, it starts to consume me.”

“A hack for killing hackers? Why the hell didn't you just opt to be gifted by an admin?” His tone had changed from stern inquiry to pure curiosity.

I sighed, “it wasn't my choice.”

“You were hacked against your will to kill hackers? For some reason I find this hard to believe.”

“It was an accident, I picked up a hacked item during a fight between a player named Caliburn and a hacker named Troll.”

“Caliburn... Thee Caliburn? The template for all gifted?!” The surprise in Mr. Richards' voice was practically tangible. “That... that means you were on Step Three?!”

I holstered the gun in silence and turned to leave.

“Hey, hang on kid,” he stepped in front of me, “hang on, if your from Step Three, then is it true that...”

“Yeah, its true,” I interrupted him, not caring much to discuss the subject. “And this hack was designed to kill Caliburn, 'Thee Caliburn.'” I walked past him and continued through his house. “Thank you for fixing my gun Mr. Richards, its better than new.”

He followed me out the front door, stopping on his porch as I made my way down the street back to Thad's house.

“Hey kid, the names James, James Richards.”

“Ezekiel Clayton,” I called back, not bothering to watch him return to his silent dark seclusion.

...

Helena showed up about an hour later and was promptly joined by Thad who had finished up his quota for the day back at the shop.

“Care to join us while we wait Mr. Clayton?” Helena asked, Thad and her having settled into chairs on their porch.

“Sure, but what are we waiting for?” I inquired, taking a seat on the edge of the porch.

“Our daughter and her friends should be returning any minute from their hunting trip,” Thad added in, “sort of an event around town.”

(@@@)
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 2/18/2012

Postby cnjservicesus » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:38 pm

.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 2/18/2012

Postby RedEight » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:14 am

Part 1.

~The End of the Beginning~

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Standing here, pointing a gun at the man who is to be my salvation, I find that I am questioning myself. I don't know if he is truly deserving of the fate I am about to deliver, don't know if harming a defenseless man is the right way to usher in a new era in my career. He was finished before my part could be played, drained from the strain of liberating that blasted kid with that accursed traitor. Now however, all he can do is stand there and look back at me with that icy stare.

I pull the trigger and a fine red circle forms between his eyes. A cloud of crimson erupts from the opposite side and his head roles back. The lifeless body collapses over the ledge and plummets two stories down to the jagged earth below. I watch for a while, until the corpse fades from view, then holster the now silent pistol, satisfied that the deed is done.

For all I know, he wasn't a bad person. Mayhap the hand he was dealt was unjust, but when one of the boys in silver tells you to do something, even offers you that which you had been seeking since your life had taken a turn in the worst possible way; you don't ask questions and you do exactly as your told. Whats one more notch on a belt that had been carved twice over in ways far less honorable?

The man in the silver suit, I think he called himself Lucky or Chance, gave me the task personally. A real oddity for their type. It was simple, locate the corruption and remove it, all other orders held no priority. Why it was given to me and not the others I do not know, and why he would show up only now when his kind had been absent for so long is another mystery. Threat level was red, or so he had said, use extreme caution. In return he offered me an escape from this life, hunting and killing and blindly following orders no matter how questionable. I would have been a fool not to except his offer. Besides, the target was corruption, and corruption must be removed. Simple as that.

Yet... This man, I think his name was Ezekiel, had shown no malice. He hadn't acted out of spite or selfish wants. He had come only to raise a hand to save a kid from a twisted system of which I had for too long been a part of. We wish that we could be judged for our own actions, but I guess in the end we are always judged by the company that we keep. Our harshest critic, ourselves.

For too long I have been haunted by my past. Screams of innocent people gunned down by us at our captains order, under his suspicion that they may be corrupted, as they tried to flee from a city being ripped apart by the ambitions of two mad men. Being ordered to hunt down James, whom the captain had labeled a traitor for allowing a group of civilians to escape, and fleeing with them into the country side. Our strings constantly pulled by a smaller mad man driven by his own insane ambition.

My last despicable act was aiding the captain in gathering new recruits. Taking them was never fun, these things always ended in sorrow and more tension than before. Out of everything, its ironic that the last person we take, that kid, would ultimately be the undoing of this way of life that was long overdue in seeing its end.

I think the captain knew it was inevitable as well. He had shown no surprise when he stepped out of his quarters and faced James and the other, Ezekiel, walking through the gates with the bodies of his fallen men in their trail. He didn't bother to question James' sudden reappearance, or why his new friend carried a gun and a sword like a idiot who couldn't differentiate between the old west and the 12th century. He simply gave the order and the fort was in arms. I took cover, fearing a stray, or being singled out due to recognition. James' trademark Irish insults of all sorts could be heard occasionally when the storm of gunfire dropped low enough for vocal utterances to be registered. Slowly the successions of explosions slowed as the body count spiraled up.

Then there was no more gunfire, only the sound of James screaming and the captain screaming back. James demanded the kid, the captain spat insults and traitorous claims back in response. The kid emerged from a building calling for aid. The other, Ezekiel, motioned for James to grab the kid and get the hell out. He did as he was told and they both booked it out of the fort in short order, only pausing once at the gate to acknowledge and thank the man with the long blade.

Ezekiel had backed the captain up on the ramparts and they stood facing each other, the captain with his gun aimed square at Ezekiels' chest. He didn't seem to care, just walked forward and called the captains bluff, the gun clicked and the captain threw it at him in desperation.

Captain had always said a good soldier never parts with his weapon or his wits, these are the only things that keep him alive. The gun bounced uselessly off Ezekiels' chest and dropped to the ground. Ezekiel lifted his arm up and revealed his secret little trick. Translucent silvery blue tentacles erupted from all over his hand and forearm and squirmed through the air, wrapping around and ripping through the captain. He screamed for a moment and then he went lifeless. The tentacles writhed and began to glow, before ripping back out of the new corpse. Their job done, they slunk back into Ezekiel's arm and disappeared.

I saw my chance once he had began wrapping his arm in bandages. I didn't know what I had seen, but I knew then that he was my man. Remove the infection, then remove the man. I thought about shooting him in the back, but I was done sinking low. Done playing dirty. Done with everything else that connected me to this way of life.

The arm that the corruption had manifested from lay there, twitching occasionally. Not my problem, I'll leave it for the boy in silver to take care of. I turn my attention to the East, to the villages we claimed to protect by crushing under the captains tyrannical thumb. That way was the easy one. Though with James out there, I doubt settling down anywhere in that direction will ever offer peace.

After packing my stuff, I leave the decaying bunkhouse, leave the fort that is now manned by corpses and distant memories, and I turn West, towards spires long abandoned. I look forward to tomorrow while facing my past head on. You never know; sometimes good things happen to bad people.
Last edited by RedEight on Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 7/17/2012

Postby RedEight » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:16 pm

~A Place to Call Our Own~

It didn't know how long it had been separated, concepts of time were abstract, and seconds were eternities without activity. It tested the water, but could only manage to twitch on occasion. So it lay there, disconnected, blind, alone, and steadily losing its consistency as empty space tugged at it edges and reversed the feeding order from in to out. It could feel another moving about, the one that had disconnected it from its home. It tried to muster strength to make a connection, but the other was gone before any action could be taken.

So it waited for a time till another came. There were two now, one that felt familiar which wandered around, but distance was a hindrance; and the other; a less familiar one, was closer. It wandered in and out, coming close then going further away. Sometimes it was underneath, sometimes it was at its side. Finally it came within the appropriate proximity.

...Searching for Host IP...

Longing to feel a connection again.

...Host IP Located... Connection Attempted...

It lashed out, it probed, it tried to find a suitable location to replace, a right arm.

...Identifying IP... Connection Attempt Failure... Reattempting... Connection Established, Now Connected To Host IP 17.834.62.97...

It worked as fast as possible, its new partner tried to pull and rip through it, tried to reject it, but it was desperate, didn't want to be alone, didn't want to fade away.

...Searching Char.dat... Char.dat Located... Rewriting...

The old arm fell to the ground, forcefully replaced. A new home, a renewed sense of consistency. It ate away the old, becoming the new.

...MacGrafee Antivirus Detected, Integrity Threatened...

The host wasn't happy, but it didn't care. Connections needed to be established, new path ways, new sources of nourishment.

...Command Allow Exception...

The new partner struggled, tried to take control, but there were no boundaries in this one. Familiar pathways were established, but it wanted more.

...Exception Allowed...

It wanted control and this one, despite the attempts at rejection, was far more controllable then its previous home.

...Searching Command Inputs... Located... Rewriting...

A new connection was made and the other arm stopped tugging and tearing at it.

...Rewriting...

Seconds later, a leg, followed by another leg.

...Disabling External Commands...

The partner made attempts at moving itself, but after a while, the twitching and flickers of old ways was squelched under new nodes and pathways.

It worked its way to visual centers, taking one, then the other. The partners' struggles increased drastically, but command inputs fell on deaf registries.

...Uploading Media Files...

It tried to calm its host, showed it images and video from its past in hopes of finding understanding. Small recorded memories of it meeting its old partner, as well as feeding habits.

...Audio Input Overload...

The partner's voice input increased tenfold, a loud wavering continuous tone; but soon those connections were lost as well and it fell silent.

...Overwriting Audio Input...

The other returned in response, and it recognized it immediately from memory. Its old partner had called it 'James.' It dug through stored sound files and played a recording of the word through the audio node.

The one, 'James,' took a step back and responded: “What the fucking...” The 'James' pulled something the old partner had identified as a gun and attacked.

It switched to a more familiar recording of something its maker had said: “Food.”

The 'James' screamed as it lashed out at him. There was more in the 'James,' more food then it had expected, but it wasn't enough. It wanted more. It established connections into its partners memory. It saw structures with others wandering in and out, more 'food.' It took a moment to remember motor control, but soon was moving on its own again.

It began shaping its host in its own image, and began its trek to find more nourishment. It was a long day, and conversion required a lot of effort. It was famished again. It left the abandoned place, and set its pathing towards what its new host had called 'home.'
Last edited by RedEight on Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
Two men walk into a bar; the third one ducks.

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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, updated 7/24/2012

Postby RedEight » Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:23 pm

Steppe 9:

~At Arms Length~

Running has been the name of the game for a while now. Miles of pavement, darkened buildings, abandoned automobiles, occasional dried out husks of trees. It all seemed to blur together. Sometimes there were others, but something always happened; they always ended up going away, abandoning her once again. For now, she was alone, the last group fading into memories of screams of terror and anguish after what seemed like only a day or so.

Night time was best for finding others. She would skirt the streets looking for lights in once abandoned windows. Sometimes she would see them in the distance, but by the time she had traversed ten city blocks to the building, climbed twenty flights of stairs, the occupants would have left already. She would scavenge for leftovers, and rest.

She had been on the trail of one such group that was particularly evasive when she came across him. He was sitting back against a long burned out lamp post. One of his arms was a stump hastily wrapped in bandages soaking through with blood that shimmered in the fading orange glow of the setting sun. He let out a weak laugh as soon as he noticed her approaching him and reached out with the still intact arm and waved.

“And here I was starting to think I was completely alone in here.”

“Naw, your not alone,” she responded, “but people are definitely few and far between around here.”

He nodded and started to get up, before his effort was halted by a arrow on a taut bowstring.

“How'd you get that wound, mister?” She asked, pulling the string back even further, ready to let it lose at the slightest provocation.

He held a hand up, motioning her to stop. “And whats your name, miss?”

“How'd you get that wound?”

“It was shot off..” he relented.

She let out a breath of air and relaxed immediately, sliding the arrow off the bow and back into a quiver on her waist. She offered a hand and helped him to his feet. “Names Missy.”

He stood up and shook the hand that had aided him. He let go and bowed deeply. “Call me Ezekiel.” He explained the circumstances leading up to him being at his present location, though she got the distinct feeling that he was omitting key aspects of the story. It didn't matter though, there were more pressing matters, like trying to find shelter before twilight settled in.

She began walking and he followed close behind, clutching the stump where his arm ended, just above the elbow. The bleeding didn't stop and they both knew that they couldn't strain it much without fear of his condition worsening.

“I've been here for almost an hour now and your the only person I've ran into,” he noted, “where is everyone else?”

They stopped in front of a large building that may have once been a hotel or a department store. She walked up the short flight of steps and tested the door. “Locked tight,” she mumbled to herself. She pulled out a crowbar and began trying to force a way in. “Its been like this.. ehh... for a whaa-aaiile.” She held on to the last part as the frame finally gave way and the door swung open. “The city goes all the way to the coast in all directions, the most people I've seen at one time here has been maybe ten, fifteen.”

She lit a torch and wandered in, and he followed fearing anything that may lurk in the darkness. The fading light of the day was null in the pitch blackness of the shell of a building. Torchlight illuminated a scene of chaos frozen in time and covered in dust. Pairs of clothes occupied occasionally by skeletons in various states of decay sat grinning at each other as if taking part in a long lost conversation in dusty thick cushioned arm chairs. Others lay on the ground forever trapped in silent slumber.

“Any idea what happened here?” Ezekiel quickened his pace to catch up to his new partner, fearing being left out of the crackling iridescence of the torch for even a moment.

They came to a door with a arrow pointing in an upward angle with a jagged tail. She tried the handle and they were both surprised when the door opened with little effort. They stepped into a corridor flanked on both sides by stairs leading down and up. She followed the later.

“I came here after all this happened, just like you, except about a month and a half ago.” She looked over her shoulder as they ascended up past the 2nd floor door, “I have run into others who had all sorts of stories to tell me. Some say that demons were let loose in the city and in about a week slaughtered the population wholesale. They said that the monsters always came at nightfall.”

He picked up his pace again to close the distance between them even more. He was practically on her heels by the time they reached the 5th floor.

“Most of the survivors stay off the streets during the night,” She continued, “no one can agree if the things still exist out here, but the fact that the Steppe's population has never returned to anything near its old capacity isn't just due to people giving up hope and climbing a tall building to see how long they can fly for.”

“It can't be,” he agreed.

They stopped to rest at a landing between the 10th and 11th floors. The blood had spread quite far on his bandages. She offered to aid, removing them and cauterizing the wound with the torch. It hurt, but he removed a jar of red fluid from his belt pack and gulped the substance down. To her amazement, his pallor returned to something a bit less ashy and sickly. He tried to share a sandwich someone from somewhere else had packed for him before he had moved on to this plane of existence; but she refused, feeling no particular hunger at the moment and reminding him of the importance of conservation here.

When they reached the 20th floor, she opened the exit door and they peered down the musty hallway. Outside the end window, the last glimmers of the suns purple-red light finally faded to darkness. She shut the door and they continued up.

“So... What brings us this far up?” Ezekiel ran his hand across a dust coated sign that denoted '22nd floor.'

“I saw light up here last night,” she responded without stopping.

“I see, looking for survivors.”

She nodded back in silence.

At the 30th floor, she opened the exit door again and held the torch into the hall. A couple pieces of paper twirled about in the hall, and a gentle breeze blew against the flame, causing its light to waver slightly.

“Here we are,” she said over her shoulder to him.

Darkness nipped away at the light as if a great black abyss awaited just out of reach, ready to swallow them whole. They passed by doors and stepped over skeletons in regular intervals. Occasionally, the nighttime wind, originating from somewhere on the floor, picked up clouds of dust and blew waves of it past them, reducing the visibility in intervals of a few seconds.

The light revealed an open door at the end of the hall. Ezekiel tried to look out the window, but the outside world had long since been enveloped in near total blackness. “Not even a moon tonight,” he said to himself. She barely noted the comment.

The window in the room was smashed open, and what looked like the remnants of a campfire lay on the floor about four feet from it. She motioned for him to stay and wandered back out into the hall, leaving him to the absolute of the darkness for a short while, till she returned with a wooden chair in one hand.

She broke the chair to pieces and piled them neatly in the remains of the previous fire, then laid her torch on it. Her silver-white hair shimmered with various shades of red and orange as the small fire caught and began to burn bright enough to illuminate the room they sat it. She appeared far younger than he, yet her dress appeared to be much older and far more tattered.

A desk was pushed into one corner, while a couple metal and leather chairs were pushed against either walls. “Must have been a office at back in the day huh?” Ezekiel said this mostly to himself, but she still offered a 'mmm hmm' in response. They both grab their respected chairs and brought them near to the flame and sat down.

“Was this the first Steppe you've been to?” Ezekiel inquired of her.

“No,” she responded, “I've played on a couple before, but this is by far the most interesting.”

“This place is so empty though, how have you not grown bored yet?”

“I guess it's kinda like a cat.”

He looked up from the fire, eying her with a air of concern. “Like a cat?”

“mmm hmm,” she nodded back to him. “You know how cats can find the simplest of things amusing, like a small strand of yarn hanging off the end of a table, or a empty box that can barely hold their body.”

Ezekiel shook his head. “Never been much of a cat person myself, let alone a animal person.”

“That's too bad,” she responded promptly, “they can make for good entertainment and great companions.”

“All I need is myself,” he said in a exaggerated low raspy voice. He smirked and they shared a brief laugh.

He thought he noticed something odd about her, but held his silence. His imagination was clearly playing tricks on him, thanks to a ominous setting and the earlier ghost stories she had fed him.

“They can be a lot of fun,” she continued, “though a bit introverted sometimes. I personally have always found cats to be more amusing than dogs.”

“You own a cat then, I am guessing?”

“Did, it passed about four months ago.”

“I'm...” He thought about what the right response would be, finally settling on the classic: “I'm sorry... for your loss.”

The fire grew smaller as the wood burned off. Darkness crept back into the corners of the room again.

She smiled back at him. “Her name was Millard, you know, after the singer of that one band: 'Fool.' She was almost sixteen years old, so I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.”

He knew the band. Remembered them from back in the day. Only half crazed 30ish women who believed they were actually 15ish, and far older men who tried to pick up said women because they hadn't realized they were pedophiles yet listened to that band. At least that's what a friend had warned him about several years back. He smirked to himself.

The wind outside picked up a bit, blowing gently across the fire, which dimmed even further for a few moments. Ezekiel was sure he noticed something about her that time.

“I loved to watch her play though,” she continued, “cats are strangely elegant when they are at play. Every movement seems so timed, so thought out, so graceful. You know what I'm talking about right?”

“All I know about cats is that they always play with their food before they finally snap its neck and drag it off somewhere private to eat. Dreadful little things if you ask me, no offense to your cat.” He sat back in his chair, eying her carefully. How much of this...

“None taken, its what they do.”

He looked down at the fire that had grown quite weak due to lack of attendance. “I'm going to go grab some more wood. I'll be back in a second.”

“Here,” she said motioning for him to sit back down, “let me, you're in no condition right now. Eat something and rest, you need it after losing so much blood.”

He stood silently for a moment before letting loose a quick laugh, trying not to sound nervous. “Its the least I can do, besides, I need to pay you back for taking me in off the streets.” He waved his stub of a arm in conjunction with his still intact one, stopping only once he'd realized how silly it actually looked.

She smirked and nodded while he grabbed a half intact still burning chair leg from the fire to serve as a torch and made his way out of the room.

About halfway down the hallway, he looked back at the room. He let out a breath of air in relief, she wasn't following him. He quickened his pace till he reached the end of the hall, the stairwell they had come from. “Shiiiiit.”

The door was completely blocked off by a huge desk and some chairs that she was able to move into place before she had returned earlier with the one she used for firewood. He pushed the chairs away with his hip and started nudging the desk, trying to move as quickly as possible before the length of this absence was investigated. How much of all this is your fault? You psycho b...

“She use to bring home little mice she would find in the woods,” Missy's voice sounded abruptly from back down the hall, behind him.

He jumped in surprise, almost dropping the makeshift torch. He spun on his heels and held the torch up in front of him, trying to cast light down the hall.

“I use to love watching her play with them, letting them think they were getting away and then pouncing on them again, breaking another leg or paw, leaving them more crippled every time.” She was a vague silhouette in the faint red-orange light of the torch. Her only discernible features were her ragged white dress that ended down at her knees, her long white hair that stretched down to the small of her back, the white of her teeth that appeared more jagged than should be normal, and the two dots of her pupils, glowing a sickening deep red that put his torchlight to shame. He wasn't going crazy.

“Stay back whatever you are!” He yelled the words down the hall to her. Then in an attempt to add a bit of intimidation to them, he tried to motion to the gun on his hip before he realized a key fact. Shit, only one arm, dammit.

“I use to brush her, you know?” She began walking slowly towards him now, obviously not threatened at all by the cripple of a man, as well as being driven by what he guessed was her possessed lunacy. “Brushed her extra good after she would let me watch her play. Such a good kitty. Such lovely long white fur, perfect for rubbing my cheek against.”

He was back at the desk, pushing it with his hip as fast as he could. The obstacle moved enough out of the way, he returned his attention to the lurking doom down the hall. She was half way now, her head swaying from side to side. Her red pupils seemed to grow larger and glow brighter with her excitement, her fanged grin growing ever wider.

“I'm warning you, Missy, I will shoot.”

She continued at the same pace, leaving him no choice. He threw the burning chair leg at her.

Thankfully, she was quick, she caught it in mid air as if it had always been in her hand, and she continued as if nothing had happened.

Perfect.

He drew the heavy revolver from the holster on his left hip, the motion was a blur of practiced deathcraft. He fired three shots in rapid succession and each hit their mark.

Her body stopped when the first round impacted her, and the next two pushed her back a step as they ripped through the front of her dress and passed through her torso, leaving much larger holes upon exit.

He quickly holstered the gun and retreated into the darkness of the stairwell. He turned and followed the path down based purely off his memory. He almost fell when he turned too soon on the landing between the 30th and 29th floors, and he stumbled on the next few steps before re-righting himself.

“Then Millard left me,” the voice echoed into the stairwell above him; the soft patter of bare feet on concrete steps resounded from above when he paused on the landing between the 29th and 28th floor. “Oh, I hope your not going to leave me, Ezekiel. Not like the others. Cause if you think you can leave me, I'm just going to have to play with you!”

He fumbled around quickly and found the door. It opened with ease and he ran blindly through the dark, down what he guessed was a similar hallway as the one back on the 30th. At what he guessed was about halfway down, he stumbled and tripped on what were probably skeletons. They crumbled and snapped underfoot as he climbed back to his feet and staggered across them the rest of the way down the hallway. He abruptly ran into a window at the end of the hall, fortunately not fast or hard enough to send him plunging 28 stories to the cold hard pavement below.

“I truly hope your not planning on being boring like the others,” her voiced entered the hall from the open stairwell entrance. Light from the burning chair leg she was still carrying brightened the doorway more and more as she drew near. “I hope your not planning on leaving before I at least get a chance to play with you.”

He ducked into the doorway on his left moments before her torch-wielding figure entered the 28th floor main hall. He worked his way through the room, hugging the right wall whenever it wasn't obstructed by a random set of chairs or desks. After climbing over the third desk, he crouched down, his back to what he hoped was a large window that ran the length of the wall. Out in the hall, the girl had thrown the torch away, and the building was once again consumed by complete darkness.

He could hear the sounds of bones snapping and skulls shattering underfoot as she steadily approached the room he was hiding in. Then, there was pure silence.

“There was more than just me once,” two red floating dots suddenly appeared out of the dark and hovered into the room, “I wasn't always alone.” The dots swam to the left till the far left dot disappeared. Then they swam to the right, till the right one disappeared. They appeared to flicker on occasion, he guessed because she was blinking. “But people claiming to be hunters killed a few of us before we could stop them.”

The dots moved across the darkness, seemingly swimming through pitch black as if it was water. A chair suddenly smashed against a wall, then a table or desk flipped over on its side. Ezekiel tried with all his might not to flinch.

Three rounds... Useless he thought to himself. Right now they were a complete waste of time, there had to be something else. He rummaged through his pack until his hand settled on a very familiar oval shape.

“The others realized that there wasn't enough food to go around. The good doctor, the one that helped us get this way all those months ago, he didn't factor in the damage we could do to the ecosystem.” The red dots and her voice grew closer. “So some of us turned on each other, said it was for the greater good. With so little left, they ripped each other apart, they fed off each other, like animals. Then there was just me...

I'm sorry, I'm probably boring you. You know, I always loved how my cats eyes looked like two glowing dots in the dark of night. It comforted me knowing that even though I couldn't see anything, my cat was always watching me while I sle...”

Ezekiel made peace with the gods and stood up abruptly. The two red dots shot around and focused on him. The witch screamed and suddenly he was in her grasp and they were flying out the window and plummeting down twenty eight stories to the street below.

“Haha! I got you, your all mine. YOUR ALL MINE!”

“Thank you, James,” Ezekiel interjected. He flicked his thumb and the pin popped out of the hand grenade. He wrapped his arm around her tight, squeezing the grenade into the left side of her stomach before she could start to sink her fangs into the nape of his neck.

“What the?!”

The blast echoed across the silent city. Bright orange light flashed against the surrounding buildings as the couple exploded half a second before impact. Then, soon as it had left, silence returned to the abandoned city once more.

The smoke cleared, and she realized she was on her back, staring up at the star filled night sky. It was beautiful; she had almost forgotten just how much so. She tried to get up, but something was wrong. She looked down towards her feet, but her body was missing after the waist. She tried to prop herself up to get a better look, but her left arm was gone as well.

She tried to regrow, but she didn't have enough strength in her to pull it off, and she was too exhausted and starved to try and drag herself to another meal. Little bastard actually got me. She looked around; Ezekiel was strewn about in small bits and pieces. Useless son of a...

She looked back up at the sky. After a few moments she came to terms with the current circumstances, and realized that to just let herself slip away was the only course of action she could follow. The pool of blood spread out around her, and for the first time since she had come to the Steppe, four or so months ago, the darkness crept back into her vision.

And then...

...nothing...
Two men walk into a bar; the third one ducks.

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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, actively updating the intro

Postby RedEight » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:41 pm

Steppe 3:

~In a Dark Room~

“You wanna know the secret to success lieutenant?”

“What's that sir?”

“The secret to success is to go into business for yourself. A man isn't successful and won't make a name for himself so long as he's getting orders from someone else. You have to be selfish”

“Yes, sir.”

“Take me for instance. When I first started off, I believed that power was success. I did everything for more power, even made a deal with the devil; but you know what?”

“What, sir?”

“I still lost all that power. 'Why' you might ask?”

“Why, sir?”

“Cause despite all that power, I still had to do what someone else asked me to do.”

“Really sir?”

“Yeah, 'really.' You see, you make a deal for power, that means there's someone with even more power pulling your strings. There's always strings attached, remember that lieutenant.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You follow orders, that means you do something someone else doesn't want to do themselves. Think about it: Doing something that someone that's better than you doesn't want to do. That's practically asking for trouble.”

“I see, sir.”

“Strength, neigh invulnerability, all granted to me by someone more powerful. Now, here I am, prosthetic arms and chest, with a army of you mooks, and I'm way more successful then I ever was. See, I lost all that power, but now I don't take orders from no one. Now I give the orders.”

“Is there a point to this, sir?”

“Sure, sure, there's a point. See, now I don't worry about failure anymore. If my operation fails, I don't get hurt, don't lose any of my power, see? The blame is on someone else. Usually.”

“Sir?”

“Say for instance, the Reilly job. You know the one with the club owner?”

“...Yes sir.”

“Well, there was ten of you, and all you bozos had to do was walk in, walk up to the booth, and shoot the guy. Somehow, ten bodies against one man equals eight of my men dead, twenty dead pedestrians, two smashed police cars, and two getaway cars totaled; one smashed into a street lamp in a center divider on the expressway, the other wrapped nice and neat around a tree; as well as a brand new transport truck crushed by a semi, and a dead Mr. Jiang Shi”

“Yes... sir.”

“And see; here I am, completely untouched. Okay, the job failed; I'm fine, I'm still intact, see? But you wanna know who really failed?”

“Me... sir?”

“No, no. See, you didn't fail, your men didn't fail. The only thing that failed, was my trust in your idiots abilities to get the job done! Seeing as I'm the boss and I can't necessarily punish myself, now I've gotta find someone accountable for this loss. So I wanna to introduce you to a couple of friends of mine. This here is Mr. tire iron, and this here is Mrs. 10mm. Now, I want you to explain to Mr. tire iron and Mrs. 10mm exactly what went wrong.”

“Well.. sir.. See the job, it uh.. Well it was going off with out a hitch. The ten of us got to the club on time and rolled into the building as inconspicuously as possible. I don't know how it happened, but Reilly already knew we were coming and had booked it out the back door.”

“No, don't talk to me, talk to the nice couple.”

“Erm.. yeah. So we chased him. Stu and Larry circled around the building in the cars to try and cut him off, but by the time we had chased him out to the road, he had hopped on a street bike and was makin' his escape. So we started shootin' at him.

“And you idiots managed to hit everyone on the street but him?”

“Well, sure some people caught strays, but it wasn't like we were aiming down the sidewalk.”

“Eight guns all shooting at once, and not a one caught him...”

“Well, then someone started shootin back.”

“One of Luigi's men?”

“I don't think so, never seen anyone like this before.”

“There's all kinds of people in this town, what made this guy unique?”

“Well, for one thing, he was missin a arm.”

“So... a cripple? What did he have, a machine gun for a arm and laser beam eyes?”

“He had a revolver.”

“A... a revolver?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And did you guys kill him?”

“Not quite.”

“And?”

“Well, he held us down till Stu and Larry showed up with the cars. We were able to get out of there without losing anyone, and caught up to Reilly going down the metro. The cops caught up to us on the other side of the tunnel. Larry backed off and his boys started shooting back to get the cops off our trail while we focused on catching up with Reilly, who'd taken to weaving through traffic like the king of the road.”

“Okay, so how does Mr. Jiang Shi fit into the whole thing?”

Well, remember when you said that we were suppose to get Mr. Jiang Shi when things started getting way outta hand?”

“Sure, go on.”

“Well sir, then the one armed guy showed up again.”

“What do you mean, he 'showed up again'?”

“He musta been waiting for us on a overpass, but next thing we knew, he was on the roof of the car. Mark and Chris tried to lean out and shoot him off from both sides, but the guy was a lot faster. Mark took one between the eyes, and Chris was pulled out and thrown into traffic. That's when Stu yelled: 'make the call.' So that's what I did.”

“I see...”

“Larry had caught back up by that point, having managed to take care of the two cop cars. Well, they saw what was going on and, like idiots, opened fire. They must have taken out at least two cars between us before even getting close to hitting our outdoor passenger. Now this is where it got crazy. The guy must have thought he was a super hero or something, cause he jumped off our car, and onto the one in front of us, then to another till he landed on Larry's.”

“Huh.”

“He was on the hood of the car with that revolver of his aimed right at Larry, till one of the boys leaned out a back window and started shootin' at him. I don't think they hit him though, but he definitely hit them. One shot, and they fell out the window and rolled under under a semi. I couldn't see who was sitting next to Larry, but whoever it was, they just started shooting through the windshield. Well, the guy pointed that revolver right back at Larry and shot him, straight through the glass.”

“And that's when the car went off the road and got a first hand introduction to a tree?”

“Yeah, the car went rolling, but the guy was quick, he was on another car again, bouncing his way right back to us. So then I started shootin'. I'd be damned if he managed to avoid every single shot. That was when your transport truck met us. They got ahead of us and opened the tailgate. He hadn't noticed, what with being busy jumping onto the hood of our car. Well, Stu tried to get as close to the back of the truck as possible without him noticing; but as you know, Mr. Jiang Shi's not exactly the most subtle of people.”

“We have to have some intimidation factor in something like that somewhere.”

“Well, he noticed Mr. Jiang Shi trying to, you know, grab him and rip him with those huge claws, so he put his gun away and pulled some more super hero type crap. Somehow he jumped from the hood of Stu's car, grabbed onto the side of the truck, and swung himself on top of it. Mr. Jiang Shi wasn't too happy about the situation and scrambled up to greet him. So, this guy pulls his gun again and starts shooting. After a couple shots he musta realized it wasn't doing anything, so instead he dodged Mr. Jiang Shi's swipes and rolled onto the top of the cabin; took a second to aim, then pow, shot the driver.

Must have got him in the one shot, cause the truck veered immediately. I saw the guy jump to another car just as the truck started to go on its side. Stu hit the breaks and went left, and the next thing I knew, we were going head on into a light pole. When I got out of the wreck, I saw that the semi that was behind us had slammed into the truck. Sandwiched Mr. Jiang Shi between them.”

“So then you and Stu hobbled away from the scene and came back here, huh?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Hmmm. Very well. I guess there's only one thing left to do, huh?”

“What's that, sir?”

“I'll just have to go take care of it myself. * sigh *. As for you though, well, when this problem is taken care of, we'll have to get a hold of the good doctor. I'm gonna need a new Mr. Jiang Shi.”

“Sir?”
Two men walk into a bar; the third one ducks.

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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, actively updating the intro

Postby RedEight » Mon Aug 27, 2012 1:00 am

~The Fists He Named Wrath~

“I couldn't imagine where I'd be right now with out ya' man.”

Ezekiel downed the drink and looked up at his new best friend. “Honestly, I was surprised you were able to find me, you were practically a blur by the time I caught up to you.”

“When you got as many connections in this city as good ol' Reilly, finding a person isn't quite as complicated as you'd think,” the blonde haired man said, his voice raised slightly so that his words wouldn't be lost to the drowning beat of the disc jockey on the other side of the wall.

“Well Mr. Reilly, I am grateful for the treatment you've given me, but in all honesty, I'm not looking for any work here. I am looking for someone I think might be somewhere in the city.” Ezekiel slid the empty glass over to his host, who promptly refilled it with a bottle he had retrieved from a mini bar built into the red velvet wall behind him.

His host returned the glass and took a seat across from him at a particularly high table. “Anything you need kid, I'll help ya find it. You saved my ass back there, as far as I'm concerned I owe ya a life debt.” He took a swig of his own drink and began twirling the glass in his fingers. “Now, how about you tell ol' Reilly what you need; what's the name of this person your searchin' for?”

The noise from beyond the wall rose as people on the dance floor began cheering for a new set. Ezekiel waited a moment for the din to settle rather than raise his own voice to accommodate for the excitement of others. “I'm not even positive if the person I'm looking for is even near this steppe, but the least I can do is try, I guess...”

The crowd grew more riotous outside, and Ezekiel paused to down a swig of the drink.

“Don't stall boy, all friends here anyways. Who is this guy?”

“That thing the people who tried to kill you had packed into that moving van, it looked like, well, if he is here, you'd most likely know him as the good...”

Dry wall and wood flew across the room cutting the sentence short as a imposing figure smashed through the wall that had formally been keeping the sounds of streamed music out of the room.

“REILLY! You made your last friend on my steppe!” The massive figure roared. He moved fast, swatting away the chair Ezekiel had kicked out from underneath himself and at the intruder. Reilly booked it behind the counter of the minibar hoping for cover while his new friend drew a massive revolving pistol and let two rounds lose at the uninvited guest.

The two bullets punched through a red and white flower print Hawaiian shirt and pinged harmlessly off the metal plating beneath. Ezekiel began to wonder why he even bothered with the thing anymore, promptly reholstering it and attempting to avoid the metallic hand that now made a grab at him. He wasn't fast enough. The massive man tossed him over his shoulder like a rag doll, flying through the latest seven foot gaping addition to the room. Three people who'd been enjoying the blasting music were rudely interrupted as they became makeshift cushions for Ezekiel as he crashed out onto the clubs main hall.

He struggled back to his feet while the music continued to beat loudly. The band on the stage began streaming a song about Michael Kaine giving a speech about blinking and acting while a girl faked orgasms in response to his lesson. Metal fingers wrapped tightly around Ezekiels' head before he could even get his bearings and he was once again being thrown across the room like a useless piece of trash.

Strobe lights kicked on and off as the music continued, ignorant to the situation unfolding on the dance floor. People now becoming fully aware of the events began to panic and flee from the building en mass.

“Well well, seems Reilly did manage to do one thing right for me.”

Ezekiel looked up from the shattered table he had come to rest upon, he couldn't make out definite features on his assaulter, but there was something very familiar about him.

“At least he had the decency to deliver you to me before his untimely death.” The hulking figure extended his right arm in the direction of Reilly's private room and a beam of red light loosed itself from his pointer finger. The room immediately burst into flames as alcohol and possibly stored munitions detonated. “Now, you and I are gonna have a nice little chat about something you got that the good doctor wants back.”

He picked up Ezekiel again and flung him through the double door entrance to the club. His body tumbled out onto the street. People scattered and cars slammed on their breaks as chaos erupted with clouds of smoke and flames from the dance club. “Now, I don't want you to think playin' the helpless pedestrian is gonna save you this time, kid.”

The hulk of a man picked Ezekiel up again, this time by his neck, and steadily began to squeeze. Ezekiel would have done a double take if he had the strength for it; for despite the new getup, the new long blonde locks of hair, and the new found strength, he recognized his attacker from his past, though he didn't see how it was possible: Troll should have been deleted from the system a long time ago.

“Ha... how?” Ezekiel managed the question. Blood began to run down into his eyes, blurring his vision with yellowish red.

“Oh little Ezekiel,” Troll chuckled more so to himself, “you should know just how hard it is to completely destroy someone especially after our first little get together. Well, the second time, after your friend Caliburn left me in pieces, the good doctor payed me a house call. Lets just say he made a deal with me and, well, here we are, huh?” He tightened his grip and brought Ezekiel's face closer to his. “Now, where is it?”

“Gah, gone,” Ezekiel spat out. A small puddle of red formed and began to run down the street from underneath him. He suddenly realized he wasn't going to make it this time. Once again the thought crept into his mind of just quitting. He realized it was all going to just be the same thing, being hunted, having to hunt, and dying. He was done. After this, he was quitting. He looked up at his enemy and began to think of a witty comment to end it all on, but such thoughts abruptly ended when he noticed the man wearing the silver suit and top had standing on the sidewalk just beyond. The hat obscured his eyes, but Ezekiel knew that smile from a mile away.
Two men walk into a bar; the third one ducks.

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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, actively updating the intro

Postby RedEight » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:43 pm

Steppe 6:

~Of the Fondest Memories~

Of course this would be what it came down to. Practically three months out of practice, and the first true problem that required this sort of specialization would just have to be one of the good doctors' babies. Oh, and not just one of his babies, the mother of all creations. This thing is the stuff of legends mind you. They use to talk about these kinds of things not in terms of city blocks, or square miles. This was server collapsing; game breaking. This was the end of a digital existence, and somehow it happened to show up here.

Now he stood there, facing down the menace from beyond, and despite all the etiquette and codes the admins had rammed down he and his kinds' throats, Triune realized that he truly didn't stand between it and the rest of the server population. It wasn't that he didn't plan on trying; it was that he was gifted to remove those who would abuse the system from it, and the good doctors' creations were not always so clearly defined.

He could tell the connection to the player was long disconnected, though he guessed it probably still allowed them to watch on occasion. It had really done a number on the sprite though. The figure was younger and feminine, though it shared characteristics with the player he and his kind knew as Ezekiel. He doubted however that this thing even actually had a definite shape to it. Most likely this was just its form when it was at rest. It wore a dark brown leather jacket that was well ripped at the collar, sleeves, and waist. Gloves and arm wraps were equally shredded and appeared to be wrapped haphazardly to its hands and forearms. Its hip length hair was a mesh of its new owners and its previous owners; sometimes fading to brown; sometimes to black ash with strands of white.

Its head was cocked back and to the side, its eyes, seemingly burning green flames, appeared to be turned towards the sky as it shuffled slowly forward. Its mouth was opened in a death grin, elongated fang like teeth smiled between the lips, giving it the appearance of the hard drug abuser on the last and greatest trip of their life. Triune didn't buy it.

“By the power's vested in me by the system, I order you to cease your assault on this server and submit yourself for proper punishment.” Triune knew better, but it was part of the job description. He removed the rifle from its holster on his back and with one hand, aimed it straight at the beast. The milky white steel of the blade that ran the length of the barrel glistened in the digital sunlight. His equally white knee length coat swayed gently in the digital breeze while the automated heat of 2 pm server time drew imitation sweat on his forehead. “You've got till the count of three to cease and desist. Three... two...”

It continued its slow approach. Odds were, it probably didn't even understand what he was saying. It was a program that was simply acting out the commands its creators had given it. Still, it was the most dangerous thing on the server, it had to be stopped, hopefully right there and now. Triune looked over his shoulder, the thirty foot wall that protected the Steppe's first major player built city was at his back, the hard work and daily happenings of two hundred players lay just beyond, and their peace of mind rested on his shoulders. He wasn't about to disappoint.

“...One.”

He pulled the trigger, but before the blast of light even left the barrel, the female hybrid thing was gone. The round launched itself out into nothingness, while its target changed its position to a location far closer and more suited to its needs. A blip on a radar and Triune turned to react to the sudden appearance of his adversary right behind him. It attempted to grab him while roaring what sounded like 'food,' but he managed to dodge it, launching himself into the air and quickly preparing his next assault on the creature.

It seemed to be able to read his actions in the split second after the command input and before the game registering the response. Gods knew how many processes it was running to pull off such stunts, but knowing the good doctor, it was probably some unheard of number. Triune could imagine it not seeing through one set of eyes, but rather, seeing it from infinite angles visually, as well as registering the subtle changes in sound and interpreting it like radar. The sky wasn't blue, nor the clouds white or the sun yellow. Green grass didn't mimic the movement of swaying to invisible gusts of wind. No, it saw everything as distances, angles, planes, and space; and it knew the fastest routes to navigate all of it.

He took aim again while the monster calmly looked up at him. Its body ignited in a green blaze, flesh disappeared, leaving only ragged clothing and bones. The monster was reducing its target-able area while retaining the bare minimum required to maintain structural integrity. The good doctor never ceased to amaze with his ingenuity. Minimal surface area also meant minimal amounts of on the fly repairs when needed. This thing was truly built for a sole purpose. Triune pulled the trigger, and again he missed his mark.

It moved faster than the eye could see. In game reactions would be much faster than human fingers on a keyboard, and this thing was practically teleporting. At least Triune didn't have to worry about making a get away, he was trapped. This time though, he was ready for it, and immediately swung the bladed edge of the rifle in a circle around him. Nothing; it was above him now, a foot planted square in his face as he looked up and the next thing he knew, he had crashed back on to hard ground.

It landed a few yards away and began its slow approach again as he climbed back to his feet. He was running out of options now, it was matching every move he made and then some. It was ironic that after all the training and preparation for a server wide threat from players, his end would be met at the hands of rudimentary artificial intelligence. One last trick to try, then its curtains one way or the other.

He slung his gun back in its place and extended his arms. Light flashed out from his back and a sequence of swords appeared, diminishing down his back like metallic angel wings. The creature didn't seem to notice or care, just kept on with its creeping approach.

“Suck on this, you freak!” The blades launched out from behind him in wide shimmering arcs, homing in on their target like heat seeking missiles. The creature paused as they came in for the kill, and as they made contact, they exploded with luminous destructive energy. “And that's how it's done.”

The hand ripped through his back and out his chest. Translucent blue silver tentacles wrapped around him from all sides and into his character. They writhed in excstacy at once and began to glow white. Then, they returned to their home and the arm exited his torso. The body dropped to the ground and quickly faded into nothingness.

“Very impressive, it does my heart good to know you haven't lost your edge after all this time my little pet,” came a new voice.

It turned it's head to face the source of the new voice. It scanned stored video files till it was able to find a match. “Cha... annnce...”

“It never ceases to amaze me just how much work the doc and that fool Shane Badson put into you.” Chance leaned on his cane and smiled widely, “your practically true A.I. I wonder if they know that giving you that strong drive for food would spur such development.”

It growled at the word. “foo..ood...” It took a step towards him, but he just stood there unphased, grinning.

“Yeah, food, but I think we both know there's something else you desire almost just as much, if not more...” He adjusted his internal data slightly. “I think you want to go home, don't you...”

It's eyes lit up immediately and hardly even had to do any searching to recognize the change. “Eze.. kiel...”

“That's right. Now, hows about I give you what I want, and you be a good dog, and get me what I want. Now be a good doggy and let's get you home!”

It started walking towards him, reaching out to grasp at what it longed for. The silver clad admin grinned even wider and turned. With a flick of his cane, reality tore open and he stepped through, stopping halfway through to make sure it was going to follow.
Two men walk into a bar; the third one ducks.

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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, actively updating the intro

Postby RedEight » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:43 pm

Steppe 3:

~The Grande Reversal~

“One more time, where is...”

“Eze.. kiel...”

Troll stopped mid sentence. He turned to look at the source of the new voice. What he found was enough of a shock that he dropped the battered man to the ground, his previous thought forgotten due to the new surprise.

The amalgam of Ezekiel, what appeared to have been a girl, and a demon stood right behind him, its elongated jaw opened, displaying a full set of fanged teeth. Translucent tentacles twisted and twirled out from its back and arms. Burning green hungry eyes stared right back at him.

“Just the person I was lookin for.” Troll was fast, making his grab for the prize, “Now, come along my little friend we have a date with the doc..”

The patchwork creature was a blur, grabbing Trolls' arm with its own, and planting a fist into the nuematic mans gut. The motion belied immense strength, the massive man was sent flying across the street and into a shop front in a terrific crash.

It turned to face the bloodied one armed man that was staggering to his feet. “Eze.. kiel...” it moaned and started walking towards him. He took two bewildered steps back, shaking his head. That bastard Chance had brought the monster back to him.

A massive chunk of concreted came arcing through and air and smashed into the monster, crushing it underneath. “Oh yeah, I was really hoping you'd wanna do it the hard way.” Troll stepped out of the rubble of the shop, brushing debris and glass off his shoulders and hair. “Please, don't keep me in suspense, we both know you ain't dead.”

The slab of concrete rocketed into the air, and the creature got back on its feet. Skin and flesh were gone now, and tentacles whipped wildly out of its back and arms. Green poured out into the air around it and increased in volume as it cocked its head back and let loose a jagged roar.

“Bring it mother fu...”

The creatures' fist planted itself solidly into Troll's face, sending him bouncing down the cold pavement of the street. Its' reunion had it wait, the threat had to be eliminated first. Down the block, a pile of newly smashed in cars erupted into the air as the massive machine man stood up. He grabbed one crumpled automobile and raised it over his head, getting ready to use it as a weapon against the monstrosity that was tossing him around like a small animal.

“No one throws Troll, no one!”

Ezekiel jumped out of the way of the oncoming vehicle, but the creature wasn't going to let anything happen to him anyways. As it came down, tentacles shot and swiped it away like it was a crumpled up ball of paper, sending it off to the side walk, and crashing into the lobby of a bank. Onlookers took it as their cue to get the hell out and like a flock of sparrows, dispersed in all directions that equaled 'away.' Ezekiel turned and faced the grinning man in the silver suite and top hat. “You...” Ezekiel limped angrily towards the fool of a admin. “You did this, why the hell did you bring that thing here?!”

Chance put his hands up in faux innocence. “Is this how you thank the man who fed, watered, and then returned your partner? I guess you'll never appreciate the great strides I make for you...”

“That thing is a walking storm of destruction! WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO!?” Ezekiel drew his gun as he closed the gap on the lunatic administrator.

“Put that toy away before you hurt someone, you ungrateful wretch,” Chance's voice became an uncharacteristic growl. He leaned forward on his cane and grinned again. “Besides, we both know there is nothing you can do to scare me, I am the system.

“A man can dream.” Ezekiel fired three shots in succession, each one planting into the concrete building behind the unharmed Chance.

“So can a dog.” The mad admin pinched the brim of his hat between two fingers and pulled it down a litter further over his face, and his grin widened into a smile that implied insanity. “Now, please do make sure to keep a better eye on your friend. We wouldn't another incident like this to happen again. I can guarantee you that next time it will be much, much worse.”

Down the block, a car exploded and a figure was launched into the sky. The creature came flying down and crashed into the pavement a few yards away, and rolling to a stop a few feet further down. It quickly picked itself up and sprouted more tentacles to replace the ones that had been ripped off by Troll. It bellowed with fury and bolted back down the street to join the fray once more.

“That was...” He barely noticed it, but there was something recognizable about the patchwork creature. “That was Thad Walker's daughter... Juliet. What the hell?!”

“You see, Clayton, this isn't a situation you can just forget about and ignore.” Chance walked up behind him and tapped him on the head with his cane. “I think you should probably stop standing there with you jaws agape and go do something about this mess before it spirals too far out of control.”

“You... YOU CAN SNAP YOUR FUCKING FINGERS AND MAKE THIS WHOLE THING GO AWAY, BUT INSTEAD YOU STAND THERE AND MOCK US AND ESCALATE THESE SITUATIONS! You're not admin, Chance, your a sadistic monster who feeds off the joy of others, AND YOU NEVER GO THE FUCK AWAY!!!”

“Temper, temper. You keep yelling like that and people are going to think your crazy...”

“Fuck you!” Ezekiel turned and started running down the street towards the battle that was threatening to spill onto the next block. Cars exploded and buildings burned. The bodies of helpless victims littered the streets where their daily lives were inconvenienced by the disagreements of unnatural forces.

Things were only bound to grow worse unless something was done to stop it, and the only way to do so was for there to be a sacrifice. Ezekiel didn't like playing the pawn for anyone, but he realized that he would have to give up that freedom else the freedoms of others would be squelched by the wants of a few. Contemplating the words of the mad admin, Chance, he realized exactly what it was he would have to do.

He rounded the corner to find the monster surprisingly battered and beaten. He couldn't wrap his head around the fact that such a simple minded ouphe like Troll could still exist after being deleted two times; and now he was actually legit, and somehow far stronger than he had ever been as a cheater.

The massive man had switched to one of his signature moves: swinging a lamp post around like it was a baseball bat. The massive thing smashed into the surroundings, sending glass and debris flying in a all directions. The monstrosity of a character was too quick for him though, seemingly disappearing and reappearing several feet away unharmed. Troll was fast himself though, and he constantly adjusted his attack pattern whenever the creature apparently shifted locations instantaneously.

“Don't think you can dodge every one of my swings, you little insect. Odds are in my favor that one will clock ya straight in the head. Then it will be nighty night, and I can finally end my last debt to the doc.” Troll smiled and laughed as he caused more and more wonton destruction. “Then I will be done with pests for good.”

The creature changed its pattern again, and Troll reacted by throwing the lamp post on the torn up pavement. The monster made a move towards Troll, disappearing, and somehow ended up with its head in his outstretched hand.

“You don't seem to get it; I was rebuilt specifically to defeat you and drag you back to the good doctor. No matter how fast you are, I can see your pathing markers, I know what your planning to do before you even do it.”

He smashed the creatures head into the pavement, then repeated the process three more times, before throwing the wounded thing as hard as he could down the street. Its crumpled body rolled to a stop at Ezekiels' feet. It looked up at him and reached out its' right arm.

“Eze.. kiel...”

He paused for a second, contemplating what it would mean. He hated that life, but he knew he would never be able to simply run from it. He couldn't let something like this just run rampant across the Steppes. In the end it was his responsibility, he made the choice to take up the blade, and the curse it bore. No one else deserved to shoulder this burden. He reached down and took its hand.
Two men walk into a bar; the third one ducks.

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Re: Twelve Step, Original, pg-13, Currently on Hiatus...

Postby RedEight » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:33 pm

I will continue to update the story, but as of right now it is currently on hiatus due to it being turned into a comic book. Message me if you wish to be updated on the progress and what not, and as it does progress, I will add links to the final product, as of right now, I have a nice set of awesome concept drawings that I have posted on my facebook, message me to view said images.
Two men walk into a bar; the third one ducks.

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