Looking for MaroonLights! Cameos! Action!
Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:09 PM
“Ok, ok, ok, but it’s a thing that thinks it’s a person.”
Violet taps her fingers on the desk.
“What do you mean?”
There were four people in Violet’s cramped western steakhouse themed office. The guy in the red jumpsuit and helmet leans in over the desk and explains.
“Well Maroon is an android, so she thinks she’s a person.”
“Anne-Anne Droid? Is that her full name?”
“No she’s like an AI, an artificial intelligence. Like from Blade Runner or Space Oddessy 2000?”
“Sorry, not ringin’ the old chow bell.”
“Well, ok in simple terms she’s a robot… You know, Ro-bot?... R2-D2, C3PO?”
The Bounty Hunter gives a blank stare then swivels in her chair towards Damselfly. The side-kick sighs.
“Violet, it’s basically like a person that is made of metal.”
“So, she’s magical of some sort?”
There is a collective grunt of frustration amongst the men folk.
“Look guys,” Damselfly says, “She doesn’t see anything but Westerns, so I think it might just be better if you start talking to me from now on, and I’ll cover it with her later in terms that fit her world view.”
Violet spits into the bucket on the floor.
“You don’t have to be snotty about it.”
Her sidekick nods, his eyes rolling. The Force Warriors known only as Red and Black lean back in their chairs, and Red attempts to start the story.
“Ok it was like this.”
“No it wasn’t,” says Black.
“I hadn’t even started.”
“That was peremptorily objection.”
“You can’t object before I say anything objectionable,”
“Yes I can. Your honor?”
He turns to Violet. She nods.
“Objection sustained,” she says. Black leans back while Red wrings his hands. He then continues.
“Annnnyway. About a week ago we were fighting VinDrax Gorimort the Sadistic Impaler, and two of our teammates got impaled. Not by Vindrax though; somebody fired a porcelain swordfish out of a cannon for the finale. This was at a Circus. I should mention that, it’s kind of important.”
“Ok, and Maroon was with you then?”
“Hmm? No, we hadn’t even met her yet. This is all backstory; I’m trying to set up an ambience. Ok so they get impaled by the flying fish, but luckily VinDrax was stopped. Or he died, or…shit what did happen to him? We stopped him right?”
“No,” Black says, “he is still very much at large and on a massive impaling spree. A rampage of impalements up the wing wang through the city. We should probably get on that once we get Maroon back.”
“Right, but after we sort of stopped him.”
“Slowed him down.”
“Ok,” Red says, “after our ‘altercation’ with Vindrax we tactically retreated back to the Force Base. And then Clarion,”
“He’s like our spiritually enlightened holographic space arachnid overseer,” Black adds, “it’s complicated, but he’s like our long-distance boss.”
“Right. But he’s all like, ‘I can’t believe you guys keep killing your own teammates.’ And I’m like ‘I don’t kill them, they get killed by the bad guys”, and he says that my incompetence and lack of discipline kills them, cause apparently I’m supposed to be prepared for flying porcelain swordfish. They do not teach that in Force Warrior school, let me tell you. Not that we went to Force Warrior school.”
“I haven’t even graduated Highschool,” Black says.
“PLEASE!” Violet yells, “Could you fellas please get to the end of this story without being entirely perverse.”
“Right, right,” Red says, “ so after he’s done yelling at me he says that from here on out we’re getting an android to join the team. That’s cause you can’t really kill an android, you can just sort of break ‘em. So we get Maroon via this teleporter at the Force Base but she needs assembly. We try putting her together, but it’s alien technology, the manual’s in Swedish, don’t ask me why, and we end up building her into a big orb with half a set of tank treads. Now I'm not sure what we were doing wrong, but we had a lot of spare parts left over and she didn’t have arms or legs or anything, but considering that I’m an Art History major and he’s a highschool dropout, I think we did ok.”
“And her sarcasm was not helpful,”
“Not in the least. She is very judgmental; ‘my sensors indicate something is incorrect’, ‘don’t put your hand in my slot’, ‘don’t you know what a Phillip’s head is’, ‘leave my slot alone’, ‘Do you even know how to read a diagram’, ‘Touch my slot again and it’s harassment. To be honest, I’m not even sure how badly I want her back.”
Violet rubs her temple.
“This story needs to come to an end, very soon.”
“So after she’s done being passive aggressive and snooty,” Red says, “we decide to take a break. We go out for the night, and then before you can kiss your mum, we wake up this morning inside the Force Van parked down by the river, now missing our new android.”
“So she ran off?”
“Well, maybe not ‘ran off’ cause she doesn’t have any legs. And with half a set of tracks she can’t go anywhere.”
“Well no, she can do donuts like a champ, but that’s about it.”
“But I don’t understand,” Violet says, “You said she was lost.”
“Yeah,” Black says, “we did lose her. Like on a bus or something.”
“Well why can’t you remember?”
“Can’t say for sure, but based on this hangover, I have a few pretty good theories.”
Damselfly’s head hits the desk with a solid thump. Violet’s eyes go wide.
“Oh. Did you look on top of the hotel roof yet?”
She laughs but the boys all stare at her. Damselfly wretches himself up.
“Robots, AI, Star wars, and Blade Runner are all blank answers, but The Hangover you’ve seen?”
“What? That one guy is really sexy. You know, that handsome guy.”
“Zach Galifinakis,” Black says, “ verrry sexy.”
Red nods, “Not a fan of the beard, but in a pinch, I’d do ‘em.”
Damselfly’s head hits the desk again.
Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:17 PM
“Ok so Strip Club for sure, Gun Store, a Limo, and you’re pretty sure you met a vampire at some point.”
“Yes,” Red says, “an undead seductress of some kind, she was a redhead, curvy, pale, with a pair of the biggest, sexiest, teeth you’d ever seen. I also think I banged her. Put that on the board.”
“That is a lie sir, don’t put that on the board,”
“Shut up, just put it on the board.”
Damselfly looks back.
“The sexy vampire chick he banged is a lie? Gee I am shocked.”
“No, no,” Black says, “The vampire thing is true, but she was a blonde, and he didn’t have sex with her, I did.”
“You. Did. Not.”
“I did. She was on top of me, there was sweet tongue action, and I reached up and started workin dem tig old bitties.”
Red shakes his head.
“Ok,” he said, “my friend here is a fountain of information, most of it false, and if anyone grasped undead milk mountains, it was the big red love machine,”
Damselfly stopped paying attention at this point. He wrote ‘vampire chick, blonde/redhead, sex with- ?’. He then looked back to the Force Warriors who were now shoving each other. A lasso twirls over them then snaps around their bodies. The two men remain motionless as Violet now hovers over them.
“Do you two remember anything else, other than this vampire business?”
“Well,” Black says, “I do remember we were in a cage at some point.”
Red turns to him.
“Well I don’t remember the cage itself, but I remember you screaming ‘IT’S A CAGE, NO WAY OUT. NO WAY OUT! NO WAY OUT!”
There is a pause.
“Yeah,” Red says, “I don't remember being in a cage, but that is definitely what I'd say if I was. That just sounds right to me.”
Violet walks to the board. She looked over the new list of: Strip Club, Gun Store, Limo, Vampire, and Cage. She then turns back to the Force Warriors.
“Is it possible you met the Vampire in the cage?”
“It’s possible we met her at the Strip Club, then banged in a cage in the backseat of the Limo,” Red replies, “I don’t remember the order that any of this happened, or if any of it happened at the same time. We had Maroon with us at the beginning of the night, and not at the end, and that exhausts my knowledge on the linearity of our night.”
“Ok then,” Violet says, “we’ll just jump in and see what happens. There are too many strip clubs, gun stores, and limos in this city to know which you guys went to, and I don’t know what to do with the cage. That leaves us with the vampire. I’m thinking we split up. Damselfly, you’re heading off to an old friend of mine to try and narrow down what kind of vamp it was. Which of you said she was a Redhead?”
Red raises his hand.
“Good,” Violet says, “You’re coming with me. I got a hunch on who to find for this. Black Warrior guy, you go with Damselfly. We find this vampire, we might be able to find out where your magic metal girl is.”
Avast, Cameos ahead! Vampires, Vigilantes, and Criminals, oh my! Keep an eye out for your favorite characters and Locales as the story progresses.
Posted 17 January 2013 - 01:13 PM
Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:21 AM
update coming soon.........
Posted 23 January 2013 - 06:37 PM
“No she was green, not mild yellow,”
Karla patiently flips through a few more pages of the Bestiary. She points to the entrant labeled ‘Nymphized Vampire’.
“So something like that?”
The Black Force Warrior shakes his head.
“Well the color’s closer for sure, but I think I’d remember if she had tree branches for hair and roots for legs.”
Karla flips over a few more pages to another encyclopedia entry. The image on this page is of a tall, slinky, elegant being with pointed ears and teeth. The man in black armor looks over the image.
“Is that a man or a woman?”
“It’s an Elven Vampire, a vampiric elf. They’re kind of androgynous, but also kind of green.”
“Ok well my vampire was NOT androgynous, definitely female all the way, and closer to a forest green.”
Damselfly was leaning against one of the far file cabinets in the vast ‘last scene of Raiders’ sized storage zone. His eyelids close behind a pair of cheap aviators. Karla begins to just skim through the pages of the bestiary, page after page of the vampire section passes by, each with its own brand of bloodsucker. Black looks over the pages as they turn.
“No, no, no, no, no, hell no, no, no.”
Karla grunts and stops in frustration between Arctic vampire and Arsonist Vampire. Damselfly is beginning to snore lightly in the corner. Karla turns to Black.
“Look, I know vampires. Heck, next to Absalom I am the closest thing to an expert on the subject, and I can tell you there are only a handful of documented green vampires, and I’ve shown you all of them. Are you sure it isn’t any of these?”
“I’m telling you none of these fit what I saw.”
“Well then, wait just a sec,”
She lifts the bestiary by the spine, pulls her arm back, and launches it across the room. It soars over Damselfly and snaps into the filing cabinet with a crash. Damselfly shudders awake just quick enough for the book to fall open onto his head. Karla then turns back to Black.
“Anyway, then the only possibilities are that you discovered a brand new species of ‘forest green vampire’, or, that you didn’t actually meet a vampire at all.”
He blows a quick raspberry at her beneath his helmet.
“I’m pretty sure I’d know if I met a vampire, ok little miss… knows all about stuff.”
The raspberry was a bad idea, his spit drips from the mouth-guard of his helmet, taunting him. Karla nods the kind of nod that says, ‘No I’m not patronizing you, really.’
“Ok then,” she mutters with a smile, “But just as a formality, I’m going to ask you a few questions we normally run by people claiming to have encounters with vampires or other paranormal beings. First off, do you recall anything else about your encounter?”
“Well of course not, that’s why I’m here isn’t it? I have no memory of that night so I need you to look up her name in your magic book, then I can dial her digits or something.”
“Right. So all you know about this vampire is that she was greenish, but you can’t remember anything else about that night... Is it possible that you ingested any alcohol?”
“Well, I wouldn’t bet against it,”
“Any recreational hallucinogens?”
“Receive any serious head injuries or concussions?”
“In my line of work it’s on a weekly basis at this point; say why are you asking this again?”
Karla smiles and slowly shakes her head.
“Oh, just standard questions. Say, why don’t you thumb through the bestiary and tell me if anything seems familiar.”
She brings her palms up and claps twice in quick succession. The bestiary responds immediately, flying from the ground near Damselfly’s feet to swoop into her hands. She puts it in front of Black then walks quietly towards Damselfly. The bounty-hunting sidekick lets out an exaggerated stretch and yawns. Karla approaches him, and speaks in a hushed tone.
“Where did you find this jackass?”
Damselfly looks over her shoulder at Black, then leans back again and shrugs.
“As I recall we took on an equally insane case tracking down a rogue centaur for your little research book, which actually turned into us bringing down a centaur meth ring.”
“Really?” Karla says, “because the way I recall it, Violet brought them down while you were trapped in a RV as it went over the canyon.”
“Yeah, exactly my point, you owe me,” he says, “or us. You owe us. So just help me determine which vampire he saw.”
“He probably saw some seasick goth chick,” Karla retorts a little louder then she probably intended, “I can’t determine a vampire breed based on some wannabe power ranger’s booze soaked delusions. Face it, there is no vampire.”
“Shoot, Violet’s not going to want to hear that…”
Violet springs out of the window, shattering glass and falling like a stone. Her lasso swings out, hooks a fire escape, and stops her descent. She reaches the back alley safely and wipes the sweat off her brow. She has little time to react when part of the building she just escaped from is kicked down by the blood-crazed vampiress.
Violet leaps out of the way of the raining debris just as the vampire lands with outstretched claws. Jennifer Blood misses her target, sinking her claws into the back-alley pavement instead. The bounty hunter recoils her rope into a lasso and begins to spin it at her side.
“Look here you little undead trollop, all we want to do is talk.”
Jennifer Blood’s fists clench into the pavement. She grunts and pulls them back, taking a boulder size chunk of concrete and street with her. She lifts it high above her head.
“Well I don’t!”
Her body moves in a fluid motion, propelling the chunk in a forward hurl. Violet dodges again, and the missile flies out of the alley and onto L Street where it pummels a car. The vehicle spins out onto the sidewalk; the tourists of the Gaslamp flee in every direction. Cars begin to back up outside the crash and Violet slowly retreats into the street as Jennifer pushes forward.
The Red Force Warrior looks over the scene. He surveys over them through the gap Jennifer punched out of the wall in the first building.
“Well, this has really gotten out of hand.”
That it had. When Violet said she had a hunch on who the red-headed vampire was, he had expected that it would be pleasant. That she would welcome them into her home, inform him of what happened to Maroon, and then exclaim that she had really wanted to call him this morning but left his number written down on her desk at the Vampire Lingerie Modeling agency where she worked with her friendly, no, very friendly co-workers. None of that happened; Violet kicked in the door, then she and that psycho bloodsucker went at each other’s throats like two wet cats in a sack. They were both in the street, and the vampire’s back was to the alley. Red was struck with a rare bolt of inspiration.
He leaps from the building to the alley below with unexpected grace and poise. Once there, his next tactic trades both grace and poise for something a little more his speed.
Jenifer turns just in time to get creamed by the charge and is bounced back into a nearby post office box. Red looks to Violet.
“Did you see that? That kicked,”
His body crumples to the floor, revealing the vampire standing behind him. She’s wielding a torn car door like it was a folding chair. She drops it on his head and moves towards Violet. The bounty hunter flings a silken lasso her direction; the vampire leaps with inhuman grace and avoids it easily. Violet continues to back up as Jennifer stalks forward.
“What’s wrong Little Miss Violet,” she teases, “You can’t beat me this way huh? Not without your friends like the private detective, the cop, and your whining little sidekick. Did you replace them with this pathetic nimrod in a bad cos-play costume?”
Violet retrieves her rope and keeps moving back to keep her ranged advantage. Then her back hits the wall of the Kameleon club. Jennifer smiles grimly and moves closer to her trapped prey
“Once I’m done ripping you to shreds, I’m going to take that idiot and drain every drop from him, while he BEGS FOR MERCY!”
It’s like a cannon firing. Violet feels the shock wave and sees a hot blue blur that engulfs Jennifer in a second. Then the blur is gone and the static bolts of blue energy begin to zap off the victim. Throughout all of this, Jennifer does not seem the least bit concerned; her mouth was still contorted in a sick predatory grin and her eyes fastened dead ahead on her prey. She retains this grim look even as she topples like a statue and lands nose first on the cement, frozen in place.
Behind her, standing behind a glowing pistol that leaks blue smoke, is the Red Force Warrior. He lifts the gun, blows the smoke away, and pauses for what could be a very dramatic line.
“huh… I think I broke physics.”
It could have been a dramatic line; the moment now ruined, he and Violet approach the paralyzed vampire. He nudges Violet in the elbow.
“Man, she was nuts huh?”
Violet shoots him a look. He shrugs.
“There’s stating the obvious and just being thick.”
“Don’t be mean,” he says, “I’m the one who just saved your ass… somehow.”
“Well why didn’t you do it earlier?”
“I didn’t know I could. I thought I was pulling my pistol and next thing I know I’ve got a jacked-up magic space-tazer in my hands.”
Violet begins recoiling the silk lasso at her hip.
“If it’s not yours, then where did it come from?”
He makes a monosyllabic noise closest to a short hand version of ‘I dunno’. He then lifts the gun up to show her. It is similar to a pistol in size and weight, easy to mistake when it’s still in a holster. Upon closer inspection the body appears to be made of pure obsidian, and the barrel is replaced by a single diamond shaped crystal that hums with a warm blue blush.
“Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before,” Red says, “But I must have got it somewhere… hey, I’ve got it. I must have picked it up last night!”
Violet is quick to get the glowing gun out of her face.
“Yeah,” she says, “that would be the most likely reckoning of it all.”
Violet then looks down towards the backside of the still paralyzed Jennifer Blood. She kneels, then flips the vampire onto her back. Jennifer stares back, her face still frozen in a devious smile.
“Well” Violet says, “I don’t suppose you have any idea how long this will last then,”
“Well shucks. I guess we’re just going to have to wait till it wears off to know how she played into your little adventure last night.”
“Hmmm?” Red says, “Oh, that. Don’t worry about it. She isn’t my vampire.”
Violet plants her hands on her knees and glares up at the Force Warrior. She keeps glaring for a few tense breaths before he takes his eyes of his new toy and realizes that he’s being glared at. But eventually it happens.
“She’s not your vampire?”
“Oh yeah, definitely not. Sorry I didn’t mention it earlier but I didn’t have time with all the jumping out windows, smashing up the street and getting beaten with car doors.”
Violet points to the paralyzed vampire’s face, the eyes now beginning to twitch back to life.
“You said a female, redheaded, pale skinned, vampire. Now I don’t mean to brag but I am one heck of a bounty hunter, and I can tell you I caught you your girl. That’s her.”
“Ehhhhhh,” Red says, “I mean you caught a redheaded vampire, but not my redheaded vampire. The vamp I met wasn’t quite as pale, no tattoos, and had longer more orangey hair. Like Jessica Rabbit, but with fangs.”
Violet sighs. She begrudgingly gets up and scans the scene. Everyone on the street was hiding behind whatever they could. There was a line of cars backed up L street, horns now blaring. A single balding motorist is hiding behind his car which is now missing it’s front passenger door and has a chunk of concrete stabbing through its windshield. All that, and sirens were growing nearer every second. Red coughs.
“Ahem, but uh, while I didn’t officially go to Force Warrior School, this is usually about the time where we get the fudge out.”
“Yeah, getting out of Dodge ain’t a bad idea. What about her?”
They both look down. Red shrugs.
“Do you have to ask?”
She doesn’t. They sprint back down the alley and out of sight. The vampire’s eyes follow them and her mouth begins to slowly form a single sentence.
“I am going to… kill both of you... soooooo hard.”
“My God, that’s it. Now I’m sure of it. Something has died inside this van. Recently.”
The Force van swings a hard right, Damselfly would have gripped onto something for support if both his hands weren’t already covering his nose.
“Naw, it ain’t dead,” Black says, “It wants you to think it’s dead. That’s how they get you. Here listen to this.
He continues driving but peels his head around his seat to reach for a broomstick leaning against the van’s wall. He thumps the floor twice with the broomstick; the patter of tiny feet rustle under the floor. Damselfly pulls his legs back up onto his seat as the rustling moves beneath him.
“Jesus, what is living inside your van?”
“No idea, but it’s been there for like a year” Black replies, “whatever it is, it breathes exhaust fumes and drinks leaking motor oil, which may be making it immune to death. BTW don’t open the glove compartment, something inside there seemed to be rolling around and making funny noises this morning, and not funny ha-ha, more ‘the last sound you hear while you still have a face’ kind of funny.”
Damselfly recoils, and places both his hands and his feet on top of the chair. Black’s phone begins to ring with some hard rock ukulele; he taps Damselfly on the shoulder,
“Hey, it’s Red, I gotta take this so just keep driving straight.”
He retrieves his phone with one hand, then places the other out the window casually. The Force Van starts creeping off the road. Damselfly lunges for the steering wheel and manages to dodge a dumpster by inches before returning it to the street.
“Hey buddy,” Black says, “how’d things go with the cowgirl’s vampire hunch… Yeah us too, the so called expert said there wasn’t even such a thing as a dark-green vampire, the whole thing was a bust… No, she WAS green… I don’t care what you remember, I know what I saw!”
“What are you doing?!” Damselfly yells.
He’s lurched over from the passenger seat and drives with a sideways view of the road ahead, all of which made more difficult by the Force Van’s super illegal tint job. The van swerves between lanes but ends up almost accelerating into a semi-truck. Damselfly can barely turn the wheel, but the van manages to dodge down an off-ramp with a force of its own. He doesn’t question it, but says a quiet Hail Mary. Black moves the phone away from his face.
“Sorry buddy, can’t steer right now. Khazan metropolitan police really crack down on driving while talking on the phone, it’s a 900$ fine. Don’t worry, you’re doing fine.”
They enter the red-light district doing about sixty. Black puts the phone back to his head.
“No I’m still here……Well we don’t have any leads either, so I think you should stay on the vampire thing.”
The van runs a red light and swerves into a fishtail turn, scraping against a lightpost, but barely managing to stay on all four wheels. Damselfly is saying the Hail Marys a little louder now.
“Well right now I’d figure that I’d just drive around the entertainment district,” Black says as he scans out the window,
“Logically if I just visit every strip club in town, my memory will eventually snap back when I get to the right one, and then it will all come flooding back to me… Well no, I don’t think we should both do it, we need to split up, cover more ground…. Because it was MY idea, that’s why you don’t get to do it!”
The van charges straight towards a sensual massage parlor. Damselfly attempts to turn but the wheel locks up. He looks up towards the Force Warrior.
“Brake please. Brake! BRAKE!!!!”
The fan finally snaps into a turn, the brakes slam and it drifts sideways like a wayward hockey puck. Damselfly closes his eyes and begs whatever deity might be listening. And then there is a light tap as the van bumps a fire hydrant, probably tapping off a little paint. Damselfly opens his eyes to find the van stationary and perfectly parallel parked in front of the massage parlor. He looks straight up to the van ceiling and appeals to the Heavens above.
“Oh, thank you Jesus, Buddha, Zeenu, whoever. Thank you all.”
“Right,” Black says back to his phone, “ok, well I’ll let you know if we catch anything…Not catch anything like that.”
He then turns off the phone and looks around.
“Oh cool, street parking. Nice job.”
Damselfly’s mouth hangs open for a beat. Then there’s a knock on the passenger side window. Damselfly turns to see a beautiful, yet irate, Japanese woman staring a load of daggers at him through his window. She is tall, with an angular face and dirty blonde hair. He rolls down the window.
Her voice is soothing, yet demanding, and with more than a hint of irritation.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve coming back here. Which one of you is the moron who made off with my motorcycle?”
She reaches through the window and grabs his shoulder. The touch loosens away all the stress his body had recently attained; it also makes him feel very willing to tell the beautiful woman anything she wants to know. She repeats herself very slowly.
“Where is my motorcycle?”
The trance does little to make him helpful. The woman grits her teeth, then presses down on a spot just below his collarbone and he goes down even deeper in trance.
“Get out of the car.”
Damselfly pops his door and hops out. The slinky woman climbs in and moves onto Black. Before he can make a sleazy move on her, she makes one of her own. She only touches him with one hand, but even through the armor he feels a very warm sensation of obedience flood over him. His helmet droops in relaxation and she smiles.
“Ok, you’re going to be more helpful, aren’t you?”
“Lady, I am mister helpful.”
“I bet you are. Where’s the other one of you two, the one in Red?”
“That loser?” Black says, “you don’t need him, like I said I can be Mr. Helpful. Hey, you want to become Mrs. Helpful?”
She presses down a little harder and he falls into hazy half sleep.
“I need you to focus,” she says, “Where is the other one. The one in Red?”
“He’s up north on L street, fighting some kind of Vampire with a ninja bounty hunter we hired to catch our lost android.”
The sentence doesn’t phase her much.
“What did he do with my motorcycle?”
“… He doesn’t have a motorcycle.”
The woman lets out a frustrated grunt, then shakes Black back into full consciousness.
“Ok, listen up then. My name is Alma. Last night your friend made off with my property. I want it back. You are going to get it for me, ok Mr. Helpful?”
“You got it.”
“Good, because until you get it back to me, I am going to be holding your little friend as collateral. You will find my bike, and you will bring it to the Birch Center parking garage at midnight tonight.”
“And if it’s not there, then I will kill my hostage.”
Alma smiles. She makes a quick push into his muscles with her thumb and Black plummets into a deep sleep, the kind of sleep where after waking up it takes you a moment to readjust to gravity. She then steps back out of the vehicle and lays her hands on Damselfly. Her captive lets out a stupid grin.
“So where are we going?”
She leads him away as Black slumps over the steering wheel like an almost zen-like blob.
Posted 24 January 2013 - 05:27 PM
Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:41 PM
More to come eventually, though I still have to start that second round of Battle Rock tomorrow, so there's a lot on my plate.
Posted 03 February 2013 - 05:12 PM
“What are they up to?”
“Visiting strip clubs,” he replies, “and from the looks of it they were driving the Force Van through a fireworks factory. I’m not even sure he’s still really trying to find our android anymore.”
“What about the vampire?”
He shakes his head.
“Strike out for them too. Should have expected it, Black’s memory was wrong to begin with.”
The café is north of Fleet Street, a little cool jazz plays over the patio where the cowgirl and her companion in red power armor sit. The sun is setting; a half drained beer and an empty sarsaparilla bottle sit on the table. Violet and Red talk openly about their vampire problem, knowing that in this part of town the conversation was hardly odd enough to generate any undue attention.
“Well, maybe that’s a sign we aught to move on, look at this a new way,” Violet says, “Since we can’t find our vampire, and you two can’t even agree on what she looks like, we need to focus on the one piece of evidence we have that is clear: the gun.”
She holds her hand out. Red reaches for the plasma taser and slowly moves it towards her. He hesitates a little, but then reluctantly forces himself to hand over his new toy. Violet turns the weapon over in her palms; it still sparks an occasional, harmless, blue arc out of the crystal at its tip. Aside from that, the pistol is a solid piece of black metal. Violet examines it for any marking, inscription, or sign of origin. The gun is seamless, without so much as a crease or welding line. She looks back to Red.
“You have any idea where you might get something like this?”
“Not sure,” Red replies, “we were in a weapons store at some point during the night, and I know, because I clearly remember racks of guns and being repeatedly told not to touch things. But something like that is way out of my price range, I wouldn’t even know where to start looking.”
Violet nods, then pulls out her own phone.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
“Calling Damselfly,” she says, “ You’re right, that gun there is a specialty item, you wouldn’t be able to find it at any old mom and pop armory. Only a few places in the city would be likely to carry it, and if we can find the one you went to, we might be able to find out what happened to you last night. I’m going to put Damselfly onto calling every unique gun store, hunting shop, and shady weapons dealer in town to see who sells space-age tazer pistols.”
She puts the gun down and begins dialing. Red leans back in his chair.
“What about us?”
“We’re going to sit here and order some more sarsaparillas. I’m feeling kind of parched.”
“We’re not gonna help?”
“He’s my sidekick; if I can’t use him to do tedious research while I lounge at a saloon, then what’s the point of keeping him around?”
It was a fair argument. Unfortunately Damselfly doesn’t answer his phone; Violet is left wondering why she keeps him around at all. She hands the gun back to Red. He holsters it quickly.
“Come on,” she says, “lets pay the bill then ride out.”
She reaches inside her jacket and Red reaches into his pockets. He moves his hands inside them for awhile, searching but not finding. Then he stops.
“Huh, that’s unusual.”
Violet sighs at this, then glares down at him.
“Don’t even try that line on me son. That whole ‘I lost my wallet last night during a wild adventure’ thing ain’t gonna fly.”
“No it’s not that,” he says.
From one pocket he pulls out three crinkled bills, but from the other he removes a small gold coin. He hands it to Violet. The token soon gets the same level of analysis that the gun received. It is perfectly circular, and the ridges along its edge suggest that it was machined. More important to Violet are the engravings. The image of an upright fist is cleanly carved into one side of the coin, but was beginning to fade out like Abe’s face on a penny that’s been exchanged too many times.
Violet flips the coin in her fingers and finds more engraving on the back. The most obvious message is the words “THE PROVING GROUNDS” which are scarred in bold and written in the most epically death-metal font the writer could find. However written around that, there is another phrase inscribed in Times New Roman along the coin’s inside rim. It’s smaller, but with some squinting she could make it out:
Not legal tender. Please return to the exchange counter for compensation in currency. Thanks—Management.
“Huh,” Violet says aloud, “The Proving Grounds. That ring a bell? Did you go there last night?”
“The Proving Grounds?” Red repeats, “The Proving Grounds,” he repeats again with slight inflection change, “The Proving Grounds….The Proving Grounds?”
“Knock it off,” Violet snaps.
Red starts to think. A few grunts escape his helmet as memories begin to knit back together. He had heard that name before. They were there last night, weren’t they? It had to be, wait, no, was that it? He looks back to Violet.
“It wouldn’t happen to be the name of the strip club would it?”
“Cause that would be a weird name for a gentleman’s club. Ominous almost. As if somehow not everyone survives their visit… but if you do then you’ve become a real man. You’ve proven your mettle against the fortuitous women of the Proving Grounds,”
“It’s a fight club, you degenerate,” Violet says, “I pass by it on the freeway every now and again. I’ve never been inside, but I know the place.”
“Oh,” Red replies, “then I was totally off. I don’t remember going there, but I’m guessing I got into a fight last night, so it wouldn’t be an unlikely stop.”
“You remember getting into a fight?”
“Not at all,” he says, “but I was too drunk to remember what happened, and statistically getting into a fight is what I’m likely to do when I get that drunk. Let’s check this place out.”
Black shudders awake. He shakes his head and tries to bring himself into the waking world after the deep slumber. After returning to a half-conscious state, he yawns inside his helmet and stretches out. The Force Van was beginning to bake from the compounding sunlight, but in his state he couldn’t really be bothered to notice. He casually looks next to him and finds the passenger seat empty. It’s then that he fully snaps back into reality.
“Crap,” he says, “I was kind of hoping that was part of the dream.”
Damselfly was gone, kidnapped, as Black now remembers. The mysterious woman, the mysteriously hot woman, that hypnotically mysteriously hot woman; what was her name? Ulma…Alma. Alma, Birch Center, midnight, motorcycle. He remembers all of it, but doesn’t know what most of it means. He knew Red didn’t have a motorcycle; if he did he wouldn’t be caught dead riding around in the Force Van.
His mind races with options, none of which show any real promise. He could warn the cowgirl that her little sidekick is being held hostage, but she might, (wrongly in his opinion), blame him for just letting Alma walk off with Damselfly as he took a nap. He decides that he doesn’t really want to deal with explaining himself right now. Instead, he’d just give them a heads up about the motorcycle, but leave out any mention of the world’s least challenging kidnapping.
He pulls out his phone and has a message. He hits play.
“Hey Black, it’s your brother Force Warrior here. Just a head’s up, cowgirl and I are headed to some semi-legal fight club deal in Dockside called ‘The Proving Ground’. You heard of it?”
“Anyway get back to me if you remember it….Oh, also, check your pockets. Figured it worked for us, so it’s worth a shot. Anyway, on the flipside, Red-out.”
Black turns off the phone. He figures that there’s no need to call them if they’re busy, especially if she might ask to talk to what’s his face when he wasn’t there. Though he does follow Red’s advice and checks his front pockets. Nothing.
Then he pats his butt to feel out the back pockets. He feels something thin and solid back there that shouldn’t be. He reaches into his right, back, pocket and pulls out a stiff paper business card. He smiles when he deduces what kind of business it was from.
The card is midnight blue with gold lettering:
Bumps in the Night: Enjoy a taste of the dark…
The ellipses are drops of blood. A sexy crimson silhouette struts on the left of the lettering, and Black can’t help but notice the address printed beneath her: 88 Bathory.
“Well it is my only clue, and who knows, maybe they have Maroon and the missing motorcycle… it would be irresponsible to not go, right?... Wait. I’m the only one here, who am I trying to convince?”
He starts the Force Van and off he goes.
The legality of Khazan’s meta-human fight clubs is a somewhat murky issue. Officially, nothing on the books says you can’t operate a proper arena, as long as everyone signs the right papers and pays the right fines. But a gentleman’s boxing club isn’t exactly the same as a giant killdome where the ring champion can fire bunker-busters from his nipples. Parent’s groups don’t want them near schools and property owners don’t want to be next to a building that could burst with Kill-0-Matic beams at any moment. That said, it does society a little good to have a place where it’s more volatile members can blow off a little steam in a semi-legal and socially acceptable setting. So like all vices, it is tolerated as long as the real estate is far away from prying eyes, similar to the sin of used car sales.
The Proving Grounds made resourceful use of one of Dockside’s many vacated warehouses. It was an almost colorless corrugated steel structure the size of an airplane hangar. A shady mob of spectators makes their way in under a banner reading “The Proving Grounds”. Red and Violet are the only ones not converging towards the open maw of the arena.
“So, this is still not ringing any bells?” Violet asks.
Red shakes his head.
“Nah, it’s all still real blurry. And even if we did come to watch a fight, what are the chances anyone will remember what happened to two guys out of an audience of hundreds?”
His shoulder is then gripped by a hand that was more like a flesh tone catcher’s mitt. Red turns back and finds that the owner of the impressive grip is standing, nay, looming behind him, breathing down his neck. His face was the color of a cherry and the texture of an orange, but that is where any comparison to something sweet stops. His suit is coal black and has the impressively strenuous job of hemming in the abundance of human mass that was his torso. He grunts out Cockney mangled words, and a fog of vodka and cigar stench leaks from his mouth.
“You got a lot of nerve comin’ back ‘ere again, you little Pajama-ed jackass.”
Red wanted to reply, he really did. But despite it’s best efforts, his brain cannot come up with a satisfactory explanation that incorporates both an explanation of his current amnesiac situation, alongside a sincere apology for anything done last night that he could not recall. Any such response would take far too long to explain, and he imagines that he is likely to be beaten into gravy before he could get halfway through with it. So instead, he turns his head and squints towards the man’s other fist, in preparation for what is probably coming.
Luckily for him, he has the Imperial Blue Bounty Hunter on his side.
“Excuse me sir,” she says in a polite western twang, “but you’ll have to forgive us. You see we’re actually in a bit of a dire and strange situation, so this may seem like an odd question, but what exactly did he do the first time he was here.”
The man mountain holds back from brutality, and promptly responds to the lady’s question.
“This idiot, this idiot right ‘ere, he and his mate enter my proving grounds, get their ass’s rightly whooped, and I don’t even get a good fight for my customers. Then, THEN, someone drives a f*cking van through the arena to save them, they steal hundreds of dollars in chips and drive off into the night like common God-damn criminals!”
“Oh,” Violet says, “I see… So could you tell me where exactly they were driving off to, or whether or not they had a robot with them?”
“Why would I bother to tell you that?”
“Well, it’s kind of a long tale… Have you ever seen The Hangover?”
He had, and so saves Violet a good amount of time in the explanation. The gentleman Goliath listens carefully, never once needing to ask for clarification or interrupting. When all was said, and things still yet to be done, he answers her original question.
“All right then miss, I’ll tell ya. I didn’t ever see this robot, but your friends ‘ere did say they needed the money for something like that. They went on and on about supe-ing up something called Maroon, and giving it a grenade launcher and upgrades. I’m assuming that there is your android.”
“Ok,” Red says, “So we had Maroon when we were here, and we were trying to get money to rebuild her…yes, yes, yes, I remember this. I wanted a scorpion air-brushed onto her side, and Black wanted some dumb-ass flame decals. We came here, tried to earn some quick cash, left, and then… where did you say we went?”
“I didn’t,” The arena manager says coldly. Red recoils a bit. The man strokes his chin with two thick fingers, then opens his mouth with an dirty smile.
“But I may know someone ‘ew can tell you. You see, I don’t take kindly to people trying to steal from me, not kindly at all. So I send for my arena champ, the bloke you damn near ran over with your van, and tell him to track you lot down. He was more then delighted to oblige… but when he comes back, he doesn’t have all my chips. He’s got a little more then half, but says you two spent some, then one of you ran off with the rest. I never asked him where you were, but he’d know.”
“Well all right then,” Violet says, “point us to him and we’ll be out of your hair right quick.”
The man leans over her still smiling that disturbing smile.
“No, you see that’s quite ‘un-doable’ right there. He’s my main attraction while he’s down ‘ere. An American you see, fights for a livin’. He’s workin’ tonight, takin’ on challengers, and he don’t ‘ave the time to speak with you… Of course after last night, I bet he’d just love the chance for a rematch, and so would I. So if you want to speak to him, your friend ‘ere’s gotta enter the Proving Grounds.”
He turns and looks to Red with that smile, it is a smile that Red does not take kindly, not kindly at all.
Posted 07 February 2013 - 02:04 PM
The street creeps deeper into a cluster of stone buildings with cast iron gates. There’s a hearse in front of him dragging down traffic. Black makes a turn onto Burton Street. The decision does not lead to a straight detour, but instead drags him into a whirling pavement spiral. After a few blocks Black finds himself in front of what looks like a clean white church with a spire; a few pale women in long black dresses and veils serve hamburgers to a ghastly assortment of patrons sitting at picnic tables on the church lawn. Black drives on before he can get a better look.
From Burton he manages to pull onto Virgil. It leads further down into the warm, gloomy, cityscape. It appears as if all is going well, until he finds that he was going deeper then he wants, leaving him stranded in Dante Cir. After spending an almost immeasurable time looping through the infernal roundabout, he manages to escape onto Orpheus Boulevard. Two ladies dressed in black lace shuffle down the sidewalk beside it; Black rolls down the window.
“Hey, excuse me, do either of you know how to get to Bathory street?”
One of the ladies turns. Her skin is peeling off like a leper, and her eyes glow bright yellow.
“*vulgarity* off tourist.”
The incident leaves Black a little startled. He keeps driving, hoping to get someone more helpful. The next local is a fanged gentleman with an unsavory look about him; he doesn’t answer the question at all, but does mention that he could slip him some cheap plasma if he was looking on the DL. The man opens his trenchcoat and Black slowly pulls off.
After that he runs into a pale dead-eyed guy who just moans ‘brains’, and then the rather rude, wispy looking woman who walks through a wall rather than talk to him. He’s gradually losing hope, and gas. But as he pulls up to the next intersection, he finally sees her.
She stands on the far corner in a black latex catsuit that clings to her every curve. Her hair is platinum blonde, and she has a look of death about her, or at least undeath. But more importantly, she’s green, green as green could be. He has found his green vampire. Black sticks his head out the window and screams.
She, and everyone else on the street, turns and looks towards him. The vampiress sees him and flushes a little red. She looks away.
“HEYYYY GREEN CHICK! OVER HERE!”
She either couldn’t hear his ridiculous screaming or was pretending not to. Black steps on the gas and the Force Van charges her way. The speeding van roars past other vehicles and swerves between lanes. All the while Black hangs out the window like a mad dog.
“HEY! COME OVER HERE. GET IN MY VAN!”
The invitation to join him in his windowless van sends her running. Black tenaciously follows her down the curving streets, plowing through bookstands, dodging oncoming traffic, and sending locals running for cover.
“COME ON, IT’S ME! WHY WON’T YOU JUST STOP AND GET IN MY VAN?”
She jumps from the street down a length of stone stairs and into an urban graveyard; Black tries to make the turn; it is only until after that decision is made that he realizes that vans are not particularly good at going down stairs.
The vampiress stops on the stairs, glaring into the headlights like a terrified deer. Black tries the brakes, gets no response, then wrenches the wheel to the side. But nothing can stop the momentum as it rapidly bounces down towards doom. He sees her stare into the bumper, it hits her, and the van cracks onto the bottom stair. Black feels the vehicle lurch forward, then slow down. The vampiress hadn’t been demolished by the van, but was still clinging to its grill with both hands. Her legs bury in the earth, as her lean, green muscles hold off against the Force Van and push back until it slowly comes to a halt.
Black breaths a sigh of relief. The vampiress moves around the outside of the van and bangs against the car door.
“Get out of the vehicle! Now!”
“Oh thank God,” Black says, “you saved my ass. Who the f*ck puts a graveyard in the middle of the city?”
“Out of the vehicle!”
She pulls the door open then yanks him out.
With a single hand she slams Black face first against the side of the Force Van. He is somehow surprised by this response.
“Whoa, baby, what’s the problem?”
A swift blow catches him in the kidneys. The armor absorbs most of it, but it gets the point across. She then begins to move her hands up and down his body; Black’s hopes fall when he realizes she’s just frisking him. Another quick shove and his back is against the van.
“The problem is YOU, creep,” she says, “what the hell do you want?”
“What, are you kidding me? I just wanted to talk. Don’t you remember me? You—me—last night, we did…something…”
She stares back at him.
“What do you think happened?”
“Last night. I remember seeing you last night, and we hooked up. But I got reaaallly reaaallly drunk or something so I didn’t remember all of it. Plus we lost our robot, and then we were in a cage or something. Not you and me that is, me and Red. So today we’re trying to figure it all out, and that snooty little chick I first talked to said there was no such thing as a green vampire.”
She stops him there.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Number 1, I am not a vampire; number 2 there is no way in hell, IN HELL, that I would hook up with you. They called me in when you were unconscious on the floor. I gave you basic mouth to mouth, that’s it! Whatever your oxygen starved brain made of it after that is all your private hallucination.”
“Wait, unconscious?” Black repeats, “I don’t remember that. But then again I don’t remember a lot of stuff. But you do remember me?”
“Yeah, it was just last night, and I’m not the one who was wasted and passed out on the floor.”
“So then why did you run?”
The green chick’s anger builds to a boiling point.
“Because you were chasing me off the street and demanding that I get in your windowless van!”
Black stops to think a moment,
“yeah, ok, fair enough. But wait again! You know where I was last night?”
“Yeah, some nasty strip club on Bathory.”
He pumps his fist in the air.
“Yes, victory through knowledge! Chalk one up for the Black Warrior. Come my lady, enter my creepy van and we shall drive forth towards this nasty strip club and you shall give me directions, for I am lost as sh*t.”
She sighs and disregards her better judgment. She gets in the van.
“Welcome! Welcome! Welcome one and all, toooo, The Proving Grounds!”
The audience hears the booming Robert Goulet style announcement as a cue that mayhem was soon to begin. Red and Violet wait in the center of the arena, the jeers of hundreds of onlookers hailing down at them. The inside of the Proving Grounds was as spartan as the outside: a vacant warehouse filled with cheap steel bleachers and a single circular mat at its center. No ropes, no fence, just a raised platform of canvas. The crowd doesn’t seem to mind, and is more than psyched to begin. Violet calmly stretches her hammies. Red feels the audience’s anger and bloodlust, and just barely fights the urge to flee.
“So, I’m starting to rethink this whole thing. I mean we can get a new android if we grovel in front of Clarion.”
Violet spits on the floor.
“Don’t you go yellow on me you Red coward, I will get your Maroon back or my name ain’t Violet the Imperial Blue Bounty Hunter….Huh, a lot of color schemes working here.”
“Yeah it’s a wonderful tableau of hues and shades,” Red sneers, “Seriously though, you don’t need me, you got this right? You’re like the big bad ninja bounty hunter chick, you can take any amateur fighter bs.”
Red begins backing away towards the edge of the arena.
“I mean I’d only get in your way and all, so I’ll be,”
The Announcer sends the final message over the crowd.
“Tonight, two challengers take on our Champion, the beast with the best, THE LION!”
A brawny giant pounces into the ring. His body was a big as the manager’s, but big in a different way. It was toned with muscle, powerful, but streamlined for speed. He is covered in a lion skin, which he drops to the floor to reveal more muscles. The Lion rears up and lets out a stadium-shaking roar. The crowd goes wild, and Red goes sprinting in the opposite direction. He reaches the edge of the ring just soon enough to hear the clinking of a falling object from above. A circular cage crashes down on the combatants, locking them inside.
The Lion cracks his neck, Violet begins twirling her lasso, and Red runs around the edge of the ring like a terrified gerbil.
“IT’S A CAGE, NO WAY OUT. NO WAY OUT! NO WAY OUT!”
“Shut up!” Violet yells, “We can take him.”
“No you can’t” Lion replies grimly.
“Not talkin’ to you,” she snaps back, “And besides, we’re a might tougher than we look. At least I am.”
“I already wiped the arena floor with this one last night,” Lion says, beginning to circle around the two, “Then when he and his little partner ran off with the winnings, I tracked him down and did it again.”
“That may be,” Violet says, “but we’ve got a secret weapon this time. Quick, hit ‘em!”
Red finally remembers that he has a plasma pistol strapped to his side. He shakes himself out of the panic then draws his gun; Lion sees this and bounds out of the way.
A blast of blinding blue zooms through the spot where Lion was standing. Red turns and fires again. The Lion dodges with ease, then charges in.
In an instant Red moves his finger over the trigger once more. In that same instant, The Lion closes the gap and plants a fist into his helmet. Red shoots back then skips across the arena floor like a pebble, firing the plasma blast into the cage as he falls.
The bolt of blue punches through the cage wall and into the stands, where it thuds against a spectator; the man turns stiff with a hotdog frozen halfway in his mouth. The bleachers turn to fits of laughter as he gags on the weiner.
Back inside the cage, The Lion pounces on Red and snatches the pistol. He grips it hard, cracking it’s casing with one hand. He then places the other around Red’s throat. Red sees the flicker of a shooting lasso out the corner of his eye; The Lion sees it too.
He back flips out of the way as the silk lasso swings under him, but it doesn’t move like a normal rope. Violet adds a quick snap of her wrist and it chases him up, wrapping itself around her opponent’s left arm. The Lion lands, his arm held tight by the silk rope. He tries to move it but fails. His mouth curls, displaying not anger but enjoyment.
“Clever, using the idiot as a decoy so you can attack from behind with your little lasso trick. Let me guess, paralyzing agent in the rope?”
“Yeah, well, you use what you got,” she says.
The Lion smiles,
“Sounds like a plan.”
He lifts Red by the throat and pitches him at Violet. She leaps out of the way and Red whizzes by, screaming like that same gerbil would scream if you punted it through a field goal.
The Lion’s ploy works; Violet’s dodge forces the lasso to lose tautness and he manages to slip it off his arm while she recoups. He moves back with a few quick jumps, trying to stay out of range of the lasso’s grip. His left arm dangles at his side, limp and numb.
Red quickly lifts himself back up. He grips the damaged pistol from the canvas, then turns back to face the others.
“OK, no more Mr. Nice Force Warrior. You think I’m stupid? An idiot? A decoy? Well who’s the idiot now?”
He levels the pistol and squeezes the trigger. The blue light builds and builds but doesn’t fire, the charge just grows brighter and heavier. Static blue sparks spew from the crystal tip and then the light pops and crackles in a rupture.
Red finally sees past the light. His vision is still blurry and shapes take awhile to focus in. It takes a few seconds, but he realizes what he’s looking at. It’s the canvas floor. His muscles twitch and Red slowly struggles to his feet.
He then sees more and everything looks odd. The stadium is empty, everyone is gone, the cage has disappeared. My God, he thinks, what did I do?
Then the Lion and the Imperial Blue Bounty Hunter calmly walk up to the canvas edge.
“Oh good,” she says, “you woke up. Rise and shine Buttercup, we got a new lead to follow.”
“Ok…but what…did I annihilate everyone or…”
“The gun backfired. You passed out and fell face first onto the floor. Then this big lug and I fought for another seven minutes while you drooled. I managed to come close a few times, though I still retain that I’m more of a stealth real world fighter than a cage fighter.”
“Uh-huh,” The Lion says with a hint of sarcasm, “Right. Anyway the match ended over an hour ago. Your friend here let me in on your questions. And as it happens, I don’t know about any robot, but I do know where you and the other guy in black ended up. I tracked you two down into Little Lovecraft outside the Twelves. I kicked his ass again, but you ran off, maybe with the robot, maybe not.”
Red’s brain slowly puts it all together. Little Lovecraft? Isn’t that the undead quarter? What the hell was he doing there?
“So what the hell was I doing there?” he asks.
“Sleasy ‘gentleman’s club’ called Bumps in the Night,” says The Lion
Red hops onto the ground.
“Right, strip club. That sounds good, I’m sick of this cage fighting nonsense anyway. I could use a less stressful trip. Cowgirl you call Black and your little sidekick yet?”
“I tried, but Damselfly still isn’t answering. I am this close to firing that kid.”
“You think they’re in trouble?”
“Knowing Damselfly, he’s probably buried alive, or kidnapped or something damn foolish like that…”
Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:59 AM
Posted 13 February 2013 - 09:46 AM
How the Undead District feels about there being a high profile undead hero?
How Becki feels about the Undead District?
Becki just straight up cleaning up crime in the Undead District.
Posted 13 February 2013 - 01:34 PM
Posted 13 February 2013 - 03:54 PM
Posted 20 February 2013 - 07:41 PM
In response to this tension, Little Lovecraft has become Khazan City’s unofficial undead hotspot, or coldspot as would probably be more accurate. It begins on Orpheus Boulevard near the Twelves and ends, somewhat poetically, at Eurydice Street on the edge of Dockside. It serves as a sort of enclave for zombies, vampires, poltergeists, phantoms, wraiths, specters, shades, the occasional ghoul, and all other persons of non-traditional post-life existence. While these groups are hardly homogenous, they manage to live together in relative peace and safety, making it no worse a place to live (exist?) then any other part of the city.
Yet, as with all subcultures there is an air of mystique to those on the outside looking in. It has been dubbed the Eros and Thanatos effect, or perhaps as a particular strip club might advertise, a taste of the dark.
The first thing Red notices about Bumps in the Night is not the darkness, though there was plenty of that. It wasn’t the music either, though if he had to describe it, a dubstep funeral march would probably be accurate. Not even the sterile cold of the place seemed to bother him. But no, what he first noticed was the opaque apparition strutting her stuff on the near stage.
If you were to see her, at your first glance it would appear as if a nurse’s outfit was independently floating about the golden pole at the end of the catwalk. However after a few seconds of observation you would be able to see the pale spirit that inhabited it. And as the dance continued, you could see a little bit more.
Red makes for the near stage before Violet enters, leaving her to take in the scene by herself. There’s a skeleton in a hipster’s bowler hat serving drinks at the bar, a female mummy slowly unwrapping her bandages for a private party, a young man chatting up a pale seductress as she grinds on his lap, and finally the ghostly nurse hovering around the nearby pole. Violet finds Red now sitting at the edge of the stage. To her surprise, Black and a young undead woman sit next to him. She sighs.
“Why couldn’t we have stayed at the Proving Grounds?”
She walks to the stage and taps Red on the shoulder.
“meh,” he says, “not now.”
A twenty slips from his hand and end up on the catwalk. The apparition floats through the stage, smiles, then pulls her floating legs over his lap. As she rhythmically applies her trade her misty body occasionally phases into his. To Violet it is unclear what the purpose of an intangible lap dance is, but every time she phases through him, he releases a tiny moan. It must have been worth the twenty. Finding him useless, Violet then walks around Red and taps Black’s shoulder.
“Hey,” she says,
“Uh-huh, hey,” he says back.
“We got a tip that you two were here last night,” she says, “you robbed a meta-human fight club then ran here.”
“Yeah,” he says, “That sounds like something we’d do. Matches what I learned anyway.”
She grabs his helmet and forces him to focus his attention off the stage.
“Hmm? Oh yeah, sorry. I learned that I was here last night. Apparently I got knocked unconscious and had to be revived. This is Becki, the green vampire by the way. She’s a sentinel and not actually a vampire, but she gave me mouth to mouth. ”
He points to the woman sitting next to him. She is just as green as he said and was clearly no longer of the living, but didn’t look that much worse for it. She nods vacantly towards Violet; she wasn’t as mesmerized by the dancing spirit as the two Force Warriors, but she wasn’t not looking either.
“Unconscious,” Violet says, “Yeah boy, that follows. The Lion fellow said he beat you pretty bad before your partner there ran away.”
Black is shaken just enough to look back her way.
“Wait. I fought a Lion?”
“Well not a lion, but it’s a long story.”
Black then goes back to glaring at Red and the sultry nurse from the grave, wishing dearly that he had stopped at the bank on his way here. Violet starts to put things together, combining what she had learned with what Black had contributed, which appears at first to be nothing. Then she realizes something. He hadn’t contributed nothing; it was less then nothing. Something he did actually set them back… where was Damselfly? She grabs his helmet again.
“Wait a minute, where’s my sidekick. You don’t have him waiting outside or anything?”
“Hmm?...Oh right, the kid. Yeah he got kidnapped.”
“Damnation son, what the hell do you mean kidnapped?”
“Some chick came into the van and just sort of took him.”
“I don’t know, she said something about us stealing her motorcycle. I tried telling her that we don’t have any motorcycles but then she just sort of took him… Oh, also, if she doesn’t get it back before midnight tonight she’s going to kill him.”
Violet looks to her watch.
“That’s in three hours! We have to move quick!”
“And do what?” he retorts, “magically conjure up a missing bike we know nothing about? Face it, the kid is gone, that ship has sailed, nothing we can do to save him now, so we have to move on to more productive areas of planning. For example, I plan to sit on my ass and see what ghost nipples look like.”
Violet rips him out of his chair and tosses him to the floor. Before he can so much as squeal she has him roped into submission. Then he squeals a bit. None of the patrons take any action to save him, and she puts her hand around his throat.
“Look you little petulant worm, you and your little pal have done run me out of patience. We are GOING to find Damselfly. We are GOING to save him. We are GOING to do all of this, because if we don’t, I am GOING to take a branding iron,”
“Ok, ok, ok,” he whelps, “yes you are very tough, no need to explain what you’ll do with that. She said to meet her at the Birch Center parking garage. We’ll go save him, I promise, I’ll be super helpful, I’m like Mr. Helpful today.”
“Wow, nice rope work,” the undead green girl says, “it goes great with the whole leather cowgirl thing you’ve got going on. I am very impressed.”
Violet looks back at her.
“I don’t do that kind of thing maam.”
The ghoul blushes.
“That’s not what I meant. I mean I’ve only known this one for less than an hour and I wish I could take a branding iron to some of his choice parts already.”
She kicks him in the ribs and a grunt escapes the roped Force Warrior. Violet grins a bit, then extends her hand.
“Violet Murasaki, the Imperial Blue Bounty Hunter. You.”
“Becki Bloom,” she says, “ but I go by Zombie-Girl around these parts.”
“A pleasure to meet you darlin’. Now I’m sure this is all gonna seem very strange, but you see these two have got me in a heap of trouble. You see last night they,”
“Missing android,” Becki replies, “yeah I know. He filled me in while we drove here in his van with the super-illegal tint job. However I’m afraid I can’t help much, I only arrived after it all happened.”
“Anything you could manage would help.”
Becki leans back and thinks.
“Well I came here some time late last night. Little Lovecraft is my beat for the Sentinels when I’m not doing other things with the rest of my team. Anyway, there was this big ruckus over here, but just as I make it to the door this giant guy in a Lion skin pounces out and runs down the street,”
“Right, I met that guy. He said there was a fight.”
Becki laughs a bit.
“Maybe; looked more like an ass-whoopin’ then a fight, but I only saw the after effects. The whole place was torn up, and Mr. Helpful over there was passed out on the floor. I didn’t have time to chase after the big guy; I had to save him.”
“So, you got some magic healing blood, or black magic amulets of some sort?”
“No,” Becki says, “it was just basic mouth to mouth. I used to be pre-med before,” she gestures to her body, “this, happened. When he started breathing on his own I left and made sure someone would get him some help.”
“Who was that?”
“One of the dancers,” Becki says, “Redheaded vampire lady. Seemed pretty peeved about the whole thing.”
Redheaded vampire? Violet highly doubted that Jennifer Blood worked here, but then again, maybe there was more than one redhead vampire in Khazan. The Red Force Warrior currently receiving a lower body spiritual possession had said that Jennifer was not the vampire he claims to have met last night. She had then assumed that his tale of a redheaded vampire was little more than a liquor fueled lie, but compared to everything else, was it really that absurd?
“Ok then,” Violet tells Becki, “this dancer, where is she?”
“I don’t know. Ask Nurse Gengar over there.”
She nods towards the fantastically phantasmic woman floating above Red’s lap. Violet swallows hard before doing anything. While she hardly saw herself as refined, she had always believed that it was a cowboy’s duty to be respectful to everyone they meet. That said, the proper protocol for respectfully interrupting a lap dance transaction was not something she had encountered before. She first tried clearing her throat. The spirit didn’t notice or else didn’t care.
“Excuse me,” Violet says.
The dancer looks her way but that doesn’t stop what the rest of her was doing.
“Hi, this might be a little odd sounding,” Violet says, “but we’re looking for someone who was here last night, however we just don’t know her name.”
“Oh that isn’t weird at all,” the dancer says, “happens all the time. Tell me what she looks like and maybe we can set up a private party in the Velvet Room.”
“Oh no, it ain’t anything like that, we just want to talk to her.”
The stripper sighs. Red slips a few more bills into her g-string and her spectral hands rises to her bra. She keeps eye-contact with Violet even after it falls off.
“Honey this ain’t a talk club. If you want to meet one of the girls in private, it’ll still cost you the same price.”
“Fine, how much?”
“Depends,” the stripper says, “Who are you looking for?”
The ghost shakes her head.
“Lot’s of those working here honey, you gotta be more specific.”
Violet sighs a bit as she goes through what Red had described earlier.
“Pale skin, well endowed, long red hair. He said she was like Jessica Rabbit with fangs.”
The ghost gal then lets out a coy smile.
“Ohhhhhh, you want Crimson.”
The specter rises up to a standing height and walks through Red and Violet. Violet feels a full body tingle as the stripper melts through her. The woman then keeps floating away towards the back and turns to look over her shoulder.
“Go wait in the Velvet Room. Crimson will be back in a minute… oh and just so you know, she can get a bit, intense…”
“Pay up dude.”
“No way, I told you she was real, and I was right. You saw her less than ten minutes ago. She was sitting right next to me, and she was green!”
The Velvet Room was well named, and it seemed to break from the crypt like feel of the rest of the club. Violet and the Force Warriors sit on a well-cushioned, red velvet booth. It was separated from the rest of the establishment via a sliding door and thin, red silk curtains. There was no music here. Violet did not feel entirely comfortable, and it was not just because of the two idiots arguing next to her.
“No, no, no,” Red says, “You said a green vampire. She wasn’t a vampire, even she said so.”
“Vampire, ghoul, whatever,” Black says, “The point is, she was real, I met her, and I couldn’t care less about the stupid technicalities.”
Violet rubs her temples.
“Boys, if you don’t shut it, I swear on the Grand Butterfly that I’ll”
The sliding door opens and they all fall silent. A little music creeps in alongside the slender figure that opened the door. Violet only sees her only as a silhouette through the curtains, and watches as she closes the door behind her. She then extends thin pale hand past the curtain and pulls it aside. Crimson stands in front of her, dressed in red lace that sticks to her every curve. Violet eyes her up, and finds that yes, she sort of does look like Jessica Rabbit with fangs.
Crimson slips a Cheshire grin at Violet, but it drops to a scowl as soon as she sees the two Force Warriors.
“No. No way.”
“I’m sorry? What’s the problem?” Violet asks.
Crimson’s nails glimmer like rubies, and Violet’s can’t stop her eyes from following them as the stripper points back out the door.
“After last night, both of you are banned for all eternity.”
“All eternity?” Black says, “That seems a little extreme.”
“I’d make if banned for life,” she replies, “but in this neighborhood that leaves quite a few loopholes. Besides, as far as I’m concerned, you earned it.”
“Maam I must apologize for my associate’s behavior,” Violet says, “ I assure you they will be on their best behavior.”
Crimson looks her over and smirks again.
“Maam? I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve been maam’ed. Such a polite little lady, what’s your name cowgirl?”
“You can call me Violet, Miss.”
“Violet,” Crimson purrs, her fangs pearly white in the low lighting. She touches Violet’s leg, sending a hot shiver up the cowgirl’s back.
“And how exactly are you tied into all of this Miss Violet?”
“I’m a bounty hunter,” Violet says, hesitating lightly, “I was hired to find their robot, and well, they said they came here,”
Crimson is leaning in over her now. Her nostrils flare and she places a hand on Violet’s shoulder.
“I see, hmmmm, tell me Violet, but is your blood type AB,”
She sniffs the air again.
“Wait, AB negative?”
“Well, yeah I suppose,” Violet says, “How can you,”
Crimson moves her hand from Violet’s shoulder to her chin.
“Oh just one of my many skills Miss Violet. Everyone’s blood is a little different, but in most cases you can’t always taste the difference. Like comparing one generic brand of corporate swill to another. However some blood types, like yours, are incredibly rare, and those with exclusive tastes tend to find them entirely irresistible.”
She purrs beneath her breath. Violet tries backing away into the velvet cushion, but finds no escape that way. Crimson brings a long nail to her temple and touches her face; it feels like a bright red ice-pick is glancing down her cheek.
“Tell me Miss Bounty Hunter, do you know what you get when you mix Crimson and Violet?”
“I can’t say that I do.”
“Really? Maybe we can find out.”
Black clears his throat like he’s dying of consumption. Crimson’s playful expression falls and breaks into a scowl.
“Well I hate to ruin the moment, but you still haven’t answered our question.”
“The uh,” Black pauses, “ oh wait, I guess we never actually asked did we. I just got kind of wrapped up in the whole vampiric innuendo stuff,”
“Get to your point,” Crimson says dryly.
“I was getting there,” he says, “Look, like Violet said before you started drooling over her, we hired her to find our robot that we lost last night. Except we don’t remember where we were. From what we can tell, we eventually came here last night after some sort of big arena fight.”
“The Proving Grounds,” Crimson says, “Yeah I remember that part. You said that you quote ‘totally kicked that panther guy’s ass’. You ended up paying me with a pile of their little golden tokens.”
“Right,” Black says, “but then we came here, and my friend here says he met you and that you had relations.”
Crimson sneers at him.
“He got a dance, that’s it. Didn’t even finish before the ‘Panther guy’ showed up and demanded the tokens back.”
“Okay, we knew about that part what happened next?”
“He kicked your asses,” she says. She then points to Black “You got knocked out and fell flat on your back,”
She then points to Red.
“And you ditched him and ran out the back door.”
“Ok, and then what?”
She sighs and looks up as if trying to remember.
“Then the ‘Panther guy’ took back some of your tokens. Then he demanded the ones you gave to me, and I gently persuaded him to leave without them. Then I called the police.”
“So the police picked us up.”
“No they didn’t come till later. Next came that ghoul Sentinel, the blonde one who’s always patrolling around here. She gave this one-” she points to Black again, “-mouth to mouth. Once you were on your feet again, then the police showed up and arrested you.”
Red and Violet both look to Black. He shrugs, then turns to the stripper.
“So what happened then?”
“Nothing,” She says, “then you left. The cop drove off… ”
“Well did he say where he was going?”
Crimson pauses for a second as it comes back to her.
“Yeah, actually come to think of it, he was talking to someone when you were in the car, a young woman. I only noticed because she appeared absolutely human, which was odd enough. She said that your friend stole her bike.”
Now Black and Violet both look to Red and he responds with the exact amount of ambivalence. Violet finally regains enough willpower to rejoin the conversation.
“So what you’re saying is that one of them got arrested and the other took off on a stolen motorcycle.”
“Listen,” Violet says, “it’s very important that we find that Motorcycle very soon. Where did Red go after stealing the motorcycle?”
Crimson leans in with a wicked smile.
“I don’t know… but if properly motivated, I can find out.”
She reaches forward and grasps Red’s arm. She begins pulling on his armor to expose a small patch of exposed skin under the sleeve. Her nail hovers over a vein.
“Even if he can’t remember where he went, a person’s life is written in their blood, every event, every memory is incorporated into the whole. With even a small feeding the most recent events will be clear, though to go farther back would require a greater taste. But for last night, only a few drops should be necessary.”
“All right baby, sounds good. We should have come here first; take a bite.”
She wags a disapproving ruby red finger in front of his face.
“First things first, I only do this if I can be properly motivated. That means that the second I’m done, you two leave. For eternity.”
“And then, after you two leave, your little cowgirl stays behind for awhile.”
Violet shoots up from her seat.
“Whoa, slow down there; it is not done. Now I’d do a lot of things to catch my bounty, but I did not sign up to be some milkshake for a Nosferatu hussy.”
Crimson presses a finger to her lips and makes a sushing noise. This makes Violet get a little red in the face, which then makes Crimson bite her lip in excitement.
“Oh relax Miss Violet,” she says, “I won’t take more than you’ll miss, and I’ve been told I can make the experience quite stimulating.”
“That talk ain’t making this easier.”
Black shakes his head clear and stands. He then turns to Violet and steps up to the plate.
“Look Violet, this may be out of your comfort zone, but you promised to do anything to help us get our android back, and I would think that honoring your promises would be apart of your cowboy code and all that,”
“Not to mention that if you want to save your little sidekick dude, you got to find that motorcycle in the next 3 hours. And if you want to find the motorcycle, you got to find out where Red drove it. And if you want to find out where he drove it, then you got to let Lady Dracula here give you a hickie.”
The others are all silent, waiting for a response that doesn’t come. After awhile Violet just gasps out in a dramatic sigh.
“Fine!... But only a little, and if you can’t tell us where that bike ended up, then my neck is off limits.”
“But of course Miss Violet. Just let me get down to business, and then we can get down to pleasure.”
“Gee cowgirl I wouldn’t have thought you for a OWWWIEEEEEE!”
He looks down and Crimson has already bit into his wrist. His muscles clench up , only forcing his wound to bleed more. A few scarlet drops run down the back of his arm; Crimson leans back and licks them up with her tongue before they can drip onto the carpet. After the first trickle has been swallowed she tilts her head back and gazes at the group, although her actual sight sees far past them. Her eyes blur into red, looking through his blood for answers. There is an almost mystic quiet as she enters into a prophetic trance.
“Your blood, it shows… you stole the motorcycle to run from a fight you couldn’t win.”
Red scoffs and puts pressure on his bleeding wrist.
“I’m sure I was simply making a tactical retreat to come up with better options.”
“You were running away,” she repeats, “but I suppose you did run in order to better arm yourself… you wanted a weapon to fight your enemy. So you went to the armory you had visited earlier that night. You originally wanted him to repair your robot, but couldn’t afford the price.”
“Oh indeed,” she says, “so to make the money you went to The Proving Grounds, where you were beaten mercilessly, and then stole the winnings,”
“Yeah yeah, sweetheart,” Red says, “we know this bit, skip ahead a bit.”
Crimson’s head weaves about in circles as she moves about the daze.
“Yes, yes. You stole the bike to escape, and went to a Khazan establishment… the Pragmatist…you bought a gun, solid and black like obsidian, that fired bolts of righteous energy, smiting any who would oppose you…”
Red pulls the plasma taser from his holster and nods.
“Well that explains where I got this.”
“What about the motorcycle,” Violet asks. Crimson nods.
“Oh that… yes I see it… You still didn’t have the cash to buy anything, so you made a trade, the bike for the gun. The Pragmatist… yes, the bike was there. It may still be there.”
She then shakes herself and comes out of the trance.
“Sorry boys and girls, that’s all I got. But that should be enough. So then, as we agreed, you two are gone forever, and Miss Violet, if you’d be so kind.”
Before they can object, Red and Back are ushered out of the Velvet Room. The last thing they see is a worried glance from Violet and bloody glimmer in the eye of her new friend.
Miles away in an abandoned tenement house, a very clearly irritated Alma Nocht paces across rotting planks. Damselfly sits next to her, handcuffed to a chair.
“Look, I don’t know what those jerks did to your stuff, but hurting me won’t get it back.”
She checks her watch, 10:00, that gave her two hours to get to Birch Center. She didn’t have to leave yet, but it was getting close.
“And besides,” he adds, “Violet’s really great at tracking down people. Finding a motorcycle should be easy then, right?”
Alma paces more, Damselfly leans forward and speaks a little louder.
“So why don’t you just let me go and,”
He stops dead as a telepathic grip compresses his windpipe. The chair pulls off the ground as Alma lifts the man like he was a dumbbell.
“I’m sure she’s quite good,” Alma says, “In fact, I’m so sure she’s good that I’m staking your life on it. But until the trade off you are just a bargaining chip, and as I recall, chips don’t talk quite as much. Am I correct?”
Damselfly was turning blue. He nods weakly.
“Good so you can just pray that she comes. Pray QUIETLY…”
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