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Tales from Adder Island


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#1 deojusto

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 05:05 PM

Adder Island Prisoner classification guidelines:

Class One: The inmate possesses meta-abilitie(s) that may set them apart from the normal human prison population, but does not offer any undue challenges to correctional officers or the local penal administration. Incarceration at Adder Island will not be acceptable.

Class Two: The inmate possesses meta-abilitie(s) that provide a serious challenge to correctional officers or the local penal administration. If incarceration within the general population of a standard prison is not be feasible, incarceration at Adder Island will be deemed conditionally acceptable (Level 2 Inmate Acceptance is conditional that the inmate’s abilities cannot be feasibly and voluntarily restrained in any way that does not place undue burden on the parent state)

Class Three: The inmate possesses meta-abilitie(s) that provide a severe challenge to correctional officers, the local penal administration, and the population of the prison as a whole. Incarceration at a standard prison would not be possible due to these concerns. Incarceration at Adder Island is acceptable for all Class three inmates.

Class Four: The inmate possess meta-abilitie(s) that make them a threat to regional or global security. These abilities make it either impossible or incredibly dangerous to incarcerate them among the general population of Adder Island, and must be held in the high security ward at Adder Island South.



------------------


Journal of Stacey Grey:

July 25th

The first thing I learned about Sarah was that she doesn’t talk much. Which I guess is good because I want her to keep that mind of hers busy rooting out anyone who might want to harass us. That said, I kind of feel like I should have hired the werewolf instead; he may not be any more dangerous, but he looks more dangerous. In this place that counts for a lot, and two seemingly unarmed and attractive women wandering around a city-sized prison encourages a lot of bad attention. We seem to have gained a pair of white knight protectors as well; I have yet to decide whether that was a good thing.

Adder Island is a lot of things to a lot of people. To supporters it is a pragmatic solution to an unfortunate problem. For detractors it is enclave of segregation and inhuman treatment in the modern world. For those incarcerated inside, it is simply home sweet home.



July 26th

I am now writing this from within the A.I.R operated Halcyclon Heights Hotel. The acronym stands for Adder Island Republic. This place is no more of a republic then this cinderblock tower is a hotel, but I am finding that more and more of the culture here is built on imagined nuances, and I have no wish to challenge the ruling perception. Considering my relative safety, I now have more time to elaborate on Adder Island’s unique past as well as the events that transpired yesterday.

The Adder Islands are a small archipelago of cold rocks off the tip of South America just west of the Falklands (Note: or the Malvinas, whatever; I aught to find the less offensive term before I print this). The islands were only recently discovered in the 1980’s and are thought to be the product of recent volcanic eruptions sometime in the 3rd century. It is possible that these eruptions were to blame for the mini-ice age from 250 to (Note: Cut this part, no one cares about ancient history). The islands have no native vegetation, no mineral wealth, and are perpetually beaten by raging storms. For decades no nation on Earth wanted these useless objects. The only attempt at colonization came from a brief lived research station on the central island. However in 2001 the United Nations sub-committee on Meta-Human Issues found a more practical use for them. The incarceration of meta-human super-criminals.

However that term may not be entirely fair. Many of the inmates at Adder Island are standard thugs, embezzlers, wife beaters, and drug smugglers; if anything the spandex clad maniacs are the exception, not the rule. Of those I have met so far, the two I have become most familiar with are the Luis and Peter. Peter I have only met recently, Luis was one of the men who greeted me at Northgate.

I entered the Adder Island air space in a large military helicopter with a pack of other prisoners shackled to the seats next to me. The orange jumpsuit I am still wearing merely had the number 2-4526 and the name ‘Bales’ written across the lapel. Olivia Bales, that was my code name. No one in charge of access to the island would ever allow an investigative reporter access that was ever more than a glimpse, a light and mirrors show. I was here to see the real prison, even if it meant becoming a prisoner.

The woman next to me was a legitimate meta-human, though not a legitimate convict. Sarah was professional bodyguard out of Khazan’s Lowtown district. She was also a psychic of some degree. The prison classified her as a class 3 meta criminal. We had been introduced through a mutual acquaintance, and after cutting down the list of possible bodyguard hires, I chose her because her mental abilities had the added ability of allowing me to fake having my own powers once inside.

The helicopter landed just outside the prison, and a few squads of armor-clad guards surrounded us immediately. I don’t know why no one in our group tried to attack them. Maybe they succeeded in looking menacing with those black face masks and assault weapons. But really I think some of the criminals wouldn’t mind a little gunfire, particularly the man with a body of solid oak (not a metaphor, a literal body of oak). But even if they had attacked the guards, what would they do next, swim?

The walls of the prison opened slowly into a large chamber and we were marched inside. The guards didn’t follow us all the way in and the wall closed back behind us. We were locked inside the actual wall of the prison until the entrance gate opened. I suppose they never left both doors open at the same time.

The entrance gate opened. I wouldn’t have been so quick out the door if not for the fact that the wall behind us began to encouragingly shove us out towards the opening like a cow-catcher. Once the way behind me was gone, I stepped into the prison proper. Buildings were torn to wrecks, smoke thickened the air, and nothing grew from the earth.

As I looked over our fellow prisoners, I realized that Sarah and I were not the only females in the group. There was one small-framed Thai woman with curling, black tattoos racing up her spine and shoulders. The rest were men of all ethnicities. Their age spread between those who were slightly more than boys and a few grey streaked men of a certain age. One man had no apparent ethnicity, as his body was made entirely from solid wood. Another had a second pair of oversized arms, but otherwise appeared to be of Slavic descent and roughly fifty years old. I was barely able to get my bearings before Jacob and Luis arrived, however I shall give you my first impressions of the area known as Northgate.

Adder Island is not uniform in development. Northgate was in a no man’s land between the A.I.R. and Commonwealth territory, so building was sparser then almost anywhere else. The first thing I saw was the tall black tower in the center of the island. You could always see the guard tower, and it could always see you.

Nearby there was a lone tenement shack that had been blown to smithereens on a nearby corner, but little else was even visible. In the distance, I could see smoke rising over the junk wall to the east and a cluster of cement rectangle buildings to the west, bespeckled with a few glimmering lights. Luis and Jacob came from the west.

Luis was talking in rapid Spanish. Neither he nor Jacob were still wearing the Adder Island orange. Luis was wearing a leather jacket that never kept a consistently brown color and looked rough to the touch. His hair was far more feathery then should be allowed in a correctional facility, and his jaw was strong and covered in sandy stubble. The eyepatch didn’t hurt his appearance much either. What can I say, it added a bit of roguish charm.

Jacob was from one of the many African signatories to the Adder Island Protocol, (Note: is it racist to start with that?). He was taller then Luis by at least four inches, not an incredible task, but remained as lean as a light post. He was shirtless and in loose, worn, jeans. Three silvery piercings dotted above his brow, and a black diamond tattoo was planted across his cheek. He seemed to silently tolerate Luis and his ramblings out of habit.

There were roughly seven of us waiting there. Luis waved at us all and plastered a wide smile to his face.

“Hola, hello, bonjour, ni hao,”.

I had expected a slightly less pleasant hello, considering that this was in fact a prison. He stared at all of us with some great intensity, and at the time I had no idea what he was doing. I later had Luis explain it to me, which had I known earlier, would have cleared up a great deal about what he would do next.

He pointed out five of us and gestured us to come near. We had no reason to trust either of them, but the alternative was to simply run blindly into the city. Something exploded far off in the East, but no one but me seemed to notice.

When Luis’s one-eyed gaze passed across me I could see him shake his head, and mouth the words “puta madre”. He tapped Jacob in the ribs and whispered something. Jacob laughed with a deep boom.

Jacob and Luis then went through a process where they spoke to each of the five new prisoners they were interested in. I didn’t know what they were saying, and often couldn’t be sure what language it was being said in. They began with the Slavic quadropod (note: word?), who caused them a lot of trouble. I heard sputterings of English with intermittant Spanish from Luis. When that didn’t work, Jacob tried French, but the man merely shot back in what I assume was Russian as well as a mess of four armed gesticulations. Eventually a younger prisoner from our group(not one of the five so called ‘chosen ones’), approached them. He tried to interject himself into the conversation, but was shoved aside by Jacob. When he stood back I approached him.

“What’s going on?”

“They want him to join the A.I.R.” he said in Russian accented English, “But neither of them speak his language. I could translate, but they don’t trust me.”

“Why?”

“They said ‘we don’t need any more *vulgarity*ing empaths’.”

The Slavic man with the four bulging arms was getting more irritated as Luis attempted to communicate through very slow gestures, a response that the man took as patronizing. The young empath then directly approached the man and spoke in quick Russian; things went easily from there on out, and Luis and Jacob begrudgingly accepted their original target as well as the empath. Then he gestured towards me.

Well, not just me, but me, Sarah, and the tattooed Thai woman all at once. Sarah placed herself in front of me as we cautiously approached. The Thai woman spoke as soon as she reached them.

“You guys are from the Republic?”

“Of course chica.” Luis sings out. Her English was a lot better than his, but again, that wasn’t a huge accomplishment.

“I’ve got someone waiting for me in the Amazons,” She says

“Amazons?” Luis says, “Chica, they sleep on rocks and dirt. The Republic knows how to treat women right.”

“I’ve got someone waiting for me,” she repeats, “if I go missing, they’ll know.”

Luis was about to retort when Jacob elbows him and shakes his head.

“We’ll take you as far as the wall,” Jacob replies in English, “after that you’re on your own.”

His English was almost as good as hers but still better than Luis’s. He then looks to Sarah and me.

“And what of you two?”

“We’re telepaths,” Sarah says, “I’m a level three, she’s a two. I’m Sarah, she’s Olivia.”

“Bullshit,” Luis responds, “You’re a level three, she’s a level zero, and her name is Stacey.”

I wasn’t sure how it would go after this. I wasn’t prepared for my cover to be blown so soon, and these two did not seem to be interested in the value of reporting. Still they didn’t make any obviously violent moves, and my bodyguard wouldn’t strike first.

“What do you want?” Jacob asked in an imperious boom. Sarah was not shaken.

“We’re just here to observe, we’re not going to start trouble.”

“Trouble, chica?” Luis says, “You are already in trouble else you wouldn’t be here; but we can protect you from trouble. You’re just lucky somebody else didn’t get to you first. Those Putas in the CW, aye Chica, you’re lucky we aren’t them. Or the Savages. Ooooh, you were very lucky chica. Me llamo Luis, and this is Jacob. We take good care of you.”

Sarah doesn’t see to lighten up. The Thai woman turns to her.

“You can relax. The A.I.R. Force would never kill any women, they can’t afford to lose the assets.”

We reluctantly agreed to follow them, but Sarah still kept her eyes locked on Luis’s oily smile.

The seventh prisoner had scattered soon after it was clear Luis and Jacob had no interest in him, and only the man of oak was left behind us. Luis and Jacob approached him and spoke. A few sentences were exchanged and then they just stopped. It was the only time so far I had observed Luis not speaking. He backed away and Jacob placed his palm against the tree-man.

There were sparks of light, violent lightning snapped from his hand, and struck the man. The wooden man soared back into a far wall and snapped into splinters. More blaring lightning rippled from Jacob’s palm, charring the man into the ground. Then it stops, the air is silent as the wind blows oaky cinders into nothingness.

Luis and Jacob both turned to return to their little gang. Luis was rolling off more Spanish again and Jacob ignored him as usual. They did not seem to be talking about what they had just done. I turned towards the Thai woman and asked what happened.

“He must have said no.”

#2 Pseudonym

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 05:37 PM

Ooooh, cool. I was wondering when someone would set up a metahuman jail. There was just one problem I saw, "Me amo Luis" is slightly wrong. It's Me Llamo Luis. Amo is sorta Latin for "I love".

I'm really interested though. Looks like you're juggling a lot of characters.

#3 deojusto

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 08:20 PM

Wouldn't that be my llama Luis? Idk, I never took Spanish.

Anyway, this was a reaction to Update's 'Best Friends' interview awhile back. Like that, there isn't a main plot or diabolical evil that needs to be stopped, just a series of stories and interviews. I figured there needs to be a place where guys and gals like Slag and Scourge get sent before they break out again. I've got more written but I want to spellcheck it first.

#4 deojusto

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 07:33 PM

July 26th part 2

As we followed our two hosts deeper into the West the buildings became larger and at times more developed. There were fields of vast tenement shacks behind us, but as we moved farther there were occasional two story buildings of mud, clay, and the occasional concrete. One building outmatched the others at nearly seven stories. It was grey, rectangular, and stuck against the back of the perimeter wall like a creeping mold. I pointed towards it and asked Luis what it was.

“That?” He said, “That is Halcyclon Heights. The center of the A.I.R. I have a place there Chica, you should come see it some time. Best view of the Republic.”

A quick mental shove from Sarah snaps him out of it. He laughs and keeps walking forwards.

More people were on the ground here, bustling, running, carrying animal carcasses through the street, beating a woman near to death with their superhuman fists. The man with stony fists stood over her, rage in his eyes. I was disgusted by the act, and surprisingly, so were the other prisoners, although I would soon learn it was for other reasons

Jacob gave a casual burst of lightning in his direction; it blasted the man across the pavement. The man stood, burned across his entire body, but merely agitated by the pain now. The woman had gotten off the ground; I could see that she had a pair of human-scale butterfly wings arching from her back. The man cursed at Jacob in a pidgin mix of English and Chinese. Jacob jammed his arm straight up and pointed two fingers to the sky; I didn’t need anyone to translate that.

While there are more organized groups on Adder Island who solely dedicate themselves to upholding a sense of law within the prison, what I witnessed Jacob doing is how order is upheld most of the time. You have free reign, but if you cross a line, somebody will put you in your place.

Without any guards this was perhaps the best that could be hoped for. When the facility was built it was reluctantly agreed that no amount of manpower could ever effectively control a meta-population. If they could, then Adder Island would not be needed in the first place. The only presence of the so-called prison authority on the island is from The Guard Tower. The Guard Tower, singular. It is a like a pillar to the thunderheads and colored abysmally black. The first prisoners called it the Shade Tower, because at sunrise and sundown it could cast a shadow that touched the perimeter wall on either end of the prison. That shadow line also served as the border between the A.I.R and the Commonwealth (Note: They don’t know who the Commonwealth is yet.)

Without any actual guards the worst aspects of the prison system have emerged on Adder Island. Supporters claim that even with its imperfections, Adder Island is a realistic solution to an unfortunate problem. Many nations lack the simple funds to deal with meta-humans, and any attempt to punish them ends with constant breakouts or simple execution for the smallest crimes. And because the population of meta-beings is so small, it may not be necessary for every nation to have it’s own meta-facility.

However detractors claim that Adder Island is little more than an asylum run by the inmates, that it breaks human rights laws regarding prisoner safety, and encourages a sense of controlled anarchy over actual rehabilitation. Controlled Anarchy seems to be the Adder Island Republic’s motto. As we pushed closer to the grey building ahead of us we passed by busy restaurants, drug dens, brothels, and something that may have actually been a school.

A man in something that matches a business suit in color and style, but not in fabric or shape, stands on the corner. Next to him is a two story adobe building with purple curtains hanging over the wooden shade windows. He is thick in the shoulders and the suit is close to busting at the seams. He waddles towards Luis and taps him on the shoulder.

“How much for the blonde and the little brunette?”

There’s no preamble, just a simple question. Sarah gives the man a glare. Luis waves his hand.

“No sale. They ain’t with me, they’re new inmates.”

“Hey everybody has a price,” he looks right at me, “Ladies, I got the best place in all the Republic. I’ve got smuggler friends who can get you fineries and contraband you’ll never find elsewhere. And you’ll make more money doing this then anything else, trust me.”

Sarah was about to scramble his brains when Luis placed a hand on the man’s shoulder.

“They’re off to Amazon territory, Hugo.”

“Yeeesh,” the man says, “ladies. Reconsider, no reason to live a damn hole.”

The man retreats. I could tell the simple word ‘Amazon’ elicited both disgust and fear in his response. After that, we were not accosted throughout the rest of our travels that day. We arrived at Halcyclon Heights quickly. I will describe it in more detail tomorrow, for I do not have time enough today.



July 27th

Halcyclon Heights is the unofficial center of the A.I.R. . Pete, my new roommate, told me that the cement was built from water and the island’s bedrock, and that the foundation was laid by inmates hired on loan by the Adder Island Republic Central Bank. There were glass windows in all the rooms, the only ones I have seen in the entire prison. Pete says they weren’t smuggled in, but actually made from sand by a few guys who spat fire.

The hotel lounge wasn’t the kind that would have a piano bar, even if you could make a piano; (that said it did have a very nice bar considering). The impossibly thin woman at the front desk smiled at us as we entered. She was wearing too much make-up and a near half pound of jewelry, all of which appeared to be prison made. Still, her voice was sweet, her eyes were bright, and her gaze enchanting. Luis elbows me in the ribs.

“Pheremone controller, chica. Don’t look to hard into those eyes or you’ll end up scrubbing the floors and shining her shoes for please and thanks yous.”

She gave Luis the same gesture I had seen Jacob give the woman beater out in the street. The woman asked for cash. I handed her a few Khazani bills I had snuck in a false pocket on my jumpsuit. She stared at them.

“I’m sorry maam, I can’t accept these. Republic bills only.”

I turn to Sarah who shrugs. I had assumed that anyone inside would be desperate for real money; in reality my bills might as well have been tissues. If I had not been both lucky and a minor celebrity, we may have ended up back on the street with the pimps.

“Stacey Grey?” A voice calls out. I look towards the far stairwell as an average looking guy in a stained tee-shirt and jeans bounds out. He had three sacks of grain under his arm.

“Yes?” I say, “Who are you?”

“Pete,” he says, “Pete Lomack. We’ve never met, but I’m from Khazan, and I remember you. Channel 3, the Stacey Grey Report.”

Pete’s forehead was matted with clay, and he had an open boyish smile about him, despite his surroundings. He said he loved my show. I told him it had been cancelled a year ago; he said he thought that was a shame. I could tell he was eventually going to ask what I was doing here, but the desk woman cut him off.

“Maam, if you cannot afford our rates, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Pete moved to my defense.

“Cally you’ve got three empty rooms on the third floor alone.”

“This isn’t a homeless shelter, if she can’t pay, she can’t stay.”

“Then she can stay with me.”

The woman sighs. She tries to charge Pete extra because she has to ‘requalify’ his room as a two bedroom. Pete tells her it’s the same room with the same one bed. She makes a quip about him having to compensate for my poverty lowering the quality of her hotel; he replies that she aught to be paying me just to stand in her hotel and make it look like less of a (note: find the English equivalent to what he said if it actually exists).

After some haggling Pete paid a small stipend. Thick, greasy pieces of red paper cross the table. Pete invites me up to his room; I look to Sarah who doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. On the way up Luis joins us. I can’t say I noticed what happened to the others, but when I ask Luis all he says is,

“I was suppose to bring them here, what happens after that, is not my problem. But for you chica, I go all the way.”

------------------------

#5 deojusto

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 07:36 PM

July 27th part 2

I can smell the stacks of dried leather sitting next to me mix with the aura of manure in the corner. In the world outside these walls Pete would be classified as a hoarder with awful taste, but in here he’s merely seen as incredibly resourceful. There is a trove of unidentifiable mechanical parts laid out neatly on a nearby table. Across from them and behind the manure is a box of jeans and long rolls of uncut denim.

Pete sits across from me. Luis insisted on being here as well. So did Sarah, but I think she mostly wanted to watch out for Luis. I pulled out my notebook (note: see if I can find a tape recorder in this dump. I’m running out of pages), and began asking questions.

: Hello guys. As you both know I’m here to investigate the goings on at Adder Island. First off, I’d like to know about both you. What did you do in the outside world and what do you do in here?

Pete: Oh, ok. Well I’m Pete Loback, I’m from Khazan City, Khazan. Before I came here I was a quality control for McClintock pharmaceutical. In here I’m a trader, and a tanner.

: A tanner? You make leather?

Pete: Yes.

:How?

Pete: Horses. I can make horses. That was my power and why I got sent in here.

:I’m not sure I understand, could you perhaps show me?

Pete: Actually I can’t, I wish I could because my rent is up at the end of the next week. I can’t actually make horses out of nothingness, but when I throw oranges they turn into horses. Khazan ranked me as a superior, or class two, polymorph.

: I see, could you perhaps turn something here into something else just to show me?

Pete: No, it’s only horses, only oranges, and only when I throw them.

:I see, that is an extremely unique set of restrictions. If you don’t mind me saying, it doesn’t seem like those powers would make you too dangerous to hold in a normal prison. Why not just keep you away from oranges?

Pete: You’re preaching to the choir. I tried explaining as much at my sentencing hearing. I’m really only a class one meta. However I couldn’t prove to the court that it’s only oranges and only horses. You can’t prove something’s non-existence like that, and the prosecution was worried that I was lying just so I could turn a peach into an angry rhino or something.

:How have you survived in here so long despite your limited power set?

Pete: Well, It may not appear as practical as super strength or breathing fire, but in a place of limited resources it allows me to fill a few needed niches. I’m basically turning a ½ pound fruit into 500 pounds of meat, hide, bones and blood. It’s a useful exchange; fruits are a delicacy, but protein is a necessity, and I can make a lot of it when you slaughter a horse.

:You kill them?

Pete: Yes. Well, mostly yes. I keep Buckeye and Queenie around behind the heights just cause they’re my favorites. They make fertilizer and sometimes somebody needs something hauled and I can make money that way. However, I may not be able to keep them if I don’t get some fresh oranges or more income soon. I know it’s barbaric, but most of the time the horses are more valuable as parts. I can make candles from the fat, glue from the bones and hooves. Meat for food, blood to sell to the vampirics, and leather from their hides. In fact I think I sold Luis that jacket.

(Luis nods)

: I see. I guess that comes more in handy then I would have expected. Would you mind telling me what you were charged with that had you placed at Adder Island?

(Pete pauses)

Pete: Yes, actually, I would mind.

:I completely understand. Luis, perhaps you could tell me about yourself.

Luis: Aye, chica, I’m an open book. My name is Luis Tejada, I am from Cuba, twenty-nine years old, single (he winks), and I work for Fuerza Defensa de república de sumando Isla. The Adder Island Republic Defense Force.

Pete: English speakers just call it the A.I.R Force.

Luis: Ci. But, I do what you saw earlier, I scan new inmates, and see what they think, if we can trust them, what their powers are. It is my job to find people who will keep the Republic strong and keep the Commonwealth from getting any class 3’s or people they could use against us. I also sometimes interrogate Commonwealth guys who sneak into our territory. I can see what they’re up to, but lately they’ve stayed on their side.

: I see; I’d like to get to the Republic and the Commonwealth later. But could you tell me more about what you did in Cuba.

Luis: I did same thing I do here, I was a soldier. But when they found out that I was a mind reader they had to get rid of me. The Cuban military has a lot of secrets they don’t need them told, so I was sent here.

:Why wouldn’t they use your abilities to make you a spy or find some other use for your power?

Luis: Cuba is all paranoia. Everybody, policia, military, nobody trusts nobody. They don’t trust me to not betray them to each other, let alone America. So they send me here.

:What did they charge you with?

Luis: Charge? I wasn’t charged. No one ever told me. But Cuba probably has some lie about how I got here.

:That seems unjust Luis.

Luis: It’s Cuba. I go from one prison island to another. But Cuba was much prettier, you should do a story on that reporter. It’s as beautiful as you are.

:Well, thank you Luis.



Session 2
July 28th

Since yesterday I’ve had some time to explore the A.I.R. section of the prison. As far as anyone but Pete, Luis, and Jacob are concerned I’m simply running errands for Pete’s trader business. Everywhere I go Sarah comes with. Once when we were visiting a local adobe brothel, for pure journalistic curiosity of course, we were mistaken for employees by a nine foot were-lizard who’s reptillain ears had trouble hearing the word ‘no’. Sarah left him in a puddle of his own drool. I am beginning to think she’s worth every penny Kevin I paid her (Note: they don’t need to know Kev paid for this. God he’s never gonna let me live that down.)

After I returned from running a few errands, trading manure and leather from the horses for supplies and cash, I was able to sit down with Pete for a second time and extend our interview.

:So I’ve been around for a few days now, and I have to admit, this looks more like a city then a prison.

Pete: It wasn’t that way in the beginning. I wasn’t here then, but if you walk into Commonwealth territory you can see the conditions the way they were in the beginning. Plywood shacks and scarce blankets. People were barely living off of random food drops. There were no cells, no buildings. I think the authorities either just didn’t care or expected us to start building the prison up on our own. They didn’t give us any other option.

:How were you all able to do it?

Pete: The biggest problem was resources. There was no way to smuggle things onto the island back then, not in any quantity that matters. Take the cement for Halcyclon Heights. That was made here on the island, but in the beginning nobody could do it.

:Did you not have the supplies or power?

Pete: No, we did. We literally had the guys with the right powers, but they wouldn’t work with each other. People still treated it like it was a normal prison, and tried to form normal prison gangs. These gangs were based on stupid things like race, country of origin, or even basic power set. There was a gang of were-beasts, a gang of telekinetics, a gang of fire shooters. But in order to make concrete, you need the were-beast’s strength to rip the stone from the island, the telekinetic to hold it in place without using a mold and a fire shooter to super dry it so the telekinetic doesn’t have an annuerism holding liquid cement in place for hours on end. Prison gangs are good for watching your back, but they suck at basic manufacturing. If we were going to get anywhere, everybody had to work together, it just wasn’t clear under whose authority.

:I’m guessing there was a struggle for power.

Pete: Is. Present tense. The gangs stopped being about racial and meta-identity and started being about philosophical ideals. In one case, a bunch of similar minded groups got together, agreed that fighting each other was stupid, and agreed to start making the Island better. By better they meant more profitable. That’s how the Adder Island Republic got its start.

: How powerful is the Republic?

Pete: We control about 35% of the island by recent counts, and we have the highest levels of development by far. Resources, food, clean water, drugs, alcohol, and the A.I.R.B. just funded a few guys to get on either smuggling or constructing power cables. Soon enough we’ll have electricity.

:The A.I.R.B?

Pete: Oh, sorry. The Adder Island Republican Bank. They give out loans, print currency, fund projects that take a lot of startup, and generally look out for what’s best for the Republic, since they own nearly all of it. They’re the ones who actually pay the defense force guys like Luis; without him and his army, guys like me who survive by turning fruit into farm animals would never feel safe. The bank’s interest rates are criminal, but then again, what do you expect?

:So if the bank is allowed to print its own money, who’s actually in charge of the Republic?

Pete: No one. No one’s in charge.

:So it’s a Republic without a government?

Pete: It’s still a prison in some respects Stacey. Governments make laws and criminals break them. This is city of criminals, and no one’s to keen to bring back law and order anytime soon. If someone steals from you, you steal it back, or hire someone to steal it back for you. Most people eventually find that you live longer if you don’t get on everyone’s bad side, but crime is always a factor.

:So then it’s in the collective best interest of everyone to follow the unwritten rules.

Pete: Pretty much.

:So then what exactly does the Republic’s Defense Force do, if not protect people, enforce laws, and make the island safer?

Pete: They do protect the Republic, they just see themselves more as an army then as law enforcement. They protect us from the Commonwealth on the other side of the shadow line.

:The Commonwealth controls the rest of the island?

Pete: They wish. There are four major factions on the Island, the Commonweath is the second biggest behind the Republic in terms of territory, but is number one in terms of population.

:Before we continue, could you tell me what the four groups are?

Pete: There is the Republic, The Commonwealth, The Amazons, and the Savages. The Republic and the Commonwealth are two aims at the same goal. But they are dialectics, thesis, and antithesis. The Republic was formed by many small groups coming together who all agreed that no one had authority over anyone. The Commonwealth was organized around on man’s plan and power of persuasion. They actually have a government, one central leadership and everyone under it obeys their plans to the letter. The Commonwealth focuses on “all for the good of all”, the Republic on “each to his own”. They were destined to hate each other.

: What do you think about the Commonwealth.

Pete: I think they have good intentions, but history is full of atrocities done in the name of what’s right for the good of all mankind. The A.I.R is heartless, but it is definitely not a tyranny. The private enterprise in the Republic makes it strong, but it denies us a strong central organization and sense of order. Neither the A.I.R or the Commonwealth can exist forever as they are now, eventually they both have to change in order to survive.

:What of the other two groups, how do they play into this? I’ve already heard about the Amazons, but I’m not clear on exactly who they are, save that people are afraid of them.

Pete: They’re what remains of the women’s dormitory. In the beginning the prison authority thought it would be a good idea to segregate the male and female populations by a large wall about as thick as the one around the island. That worked well for awhile; about half a month actually. Then the men started drilling through the wall and it was basically pandemonium.

:Why did they drill through the wall?

Pete: Come on Stacey, why do you think?

:Ok, fair enough.

Pete: The Amazons were formed as a response to the breach. They took control over all the female prisoners and fought the invaders back out. Today, anything with testicles that attempts to enter their territory gets chopped into slivers. They even disabled the guard entrances; that’s why all new female prisoner drop off doesn’t dump them straight into their territory but at either north or southgate.

:I’ve seen a few women in the A.I.R. What happened to them?

Pete: They’re mostly new inmates who never made it all the way to the wall. Others got convinced that the A.I.R was safer, more lucrative, or left because the Amazons were making their life hell. The A.I.R. has a surplus of men, and any half attractive woman can survive here in service positions.

:Why would they choose prostitution over living on the other side of the wall?

Pete: Well, ok, ‘service positions’ doesn’t mean prostitution. Well, it doesn’t just mean prostitution. Look at Cally in the front office, she just sits at a desk smiling all day and makes more then Luis does. She used to be on the other side of the wall, but got the hell out as soon as the Amazon gangs took over.

:Why did she do that?

:In order to survive the Amazons had to militarize. It’s like Sparta over there. Every woman has to be a warrior, and not every prisoner survives the training. It’s almost literally a hole in the wall. Cally wouldn’t have lasted three minutes.

:Why doesn’t the AIR just storm the wall, and you know, take them over?

Pete: The only people in the Republic with the kind of manpower to pull that off would be the Defense Force, and they don’t want to have to fight the Amazons and the Commonwealth at the same time. As of now they just have an agreement to ignore each other. In addition, the Defense Force escorts female prisoners who want to enter Amazon territory to the wall. In return we can do a little trading at the wall. They don’t produce much, but I think they must have found some arable land because they used to sell oranges and other produce. But they stopped trading awhile back, I don’t know why.

:I see. What about the fourth group you mentioned? The Savages? Who exactly are they?

Pete: They are exactly what the name says, Savages. Those people aren’t criminals, they’re psychos. They’re horror stories the A.I.R Defense Force tells to remind people why they need an army. I don’t know much about them. They roam about a pocket of the prison near Commonweath territory. They’ve got no leadership, no organization. Anyone too unstable for either the Commonwealth of the Republic ends up there, feeding on whatever they can.




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