Friday, December 12, 2014

Story Seed - No Deal

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From the scorched desert sands the Fall didn't seem very aptly named. The cliffs and broken foothills that gave the Fall its name rose from the dry blasted lands to tower hundreds of feet above the sun baked sand and clay.  Beyond the Fall the land grew sharply more hospitable, and there was even a river that ran less than a mile from these forsaken wastes.

The Fall survived by building into the cliffs themselves, and via cunningly engineered tunnels that fed water through the stone of the plateau from the river.  The Fall eked out an existence on the edge of hell, and somehow I had survived hell itself and returned. The 'bot had deposited me within the shadow the Fall's main gates and then vanished, it had satisfied its programming to the extent that it felt it had honored our bargain.

I managed to signal those within for aid, and within the hour I was resting in a medical suite receiving fluids through a tube into my arm, and curative salves for my sunburnt skin through robotically controlled nozzles. I'd have been appreciative had I been self aware at that time.  In hindsight I certainly appreciate it now.

It'd been ten days and I still felt thirsty, but that was psychological according to the sawbones. I'd had very little in the way of scrip and so I'd pawned my mapper, and a few other bits of tech.  It gave me enough to pay the sawbones and keep myself fed. The interior streets and corridors of the Fall were cool enough and isolated from weather so I slept where I could.  The people were private enough that I didn't get any trouble, so far anyway. My sixgun I'd kept; it was worth plenty, but it was the last thing I had, and my only means of defense.

Turned out that was the right choice. I spied the Boss McKenna's tubby second, Charles Stuber, as he emerged from a saloon.  Thankfully he hadn't seen me.  Most everybody, McKenna included, called him Chuckles. I don't have a clue why, he was as stupid as he was fat, and not at all funny. Thankfully he was also not paying attention.  I shadowed him until he was between the open cavern neighborhoods the Fall used to feel less like a big cave (which it was) and more like a gentile town (which it was not).

Getting up right behind him I thumbed the hammer back, pressing cold steel into folds of fat, "Don't turn around Charlie. Believe me when I tell you that I'd rather face justice here in the Fall than whatever you and McKenna have to offer in Angel's Dig." The big man froze, he was none too bright, but still smart enough to know when somebody had him dead to rights. "The Boss figured that any chance was more than she could accept eh? Sent you here to finish the job if the sun hadn't?" I prodded him back into motion with my gun, forcing him down a dark alley.

He stumbled into motion, nodding and trying to crane his neck around enough to see me, "I don't come back and she's gonna know you're alive. Gonna send everything she can for your sorry skin." I think he thought he sounded tough.

I laughed bitterly and ground the barrel of my sixgun into his kidney, "And you want me to let you live right? Let you go back and claim I'm dead, or maybe that you didn't find me?"

He nodded enthusiastically. "Graham, jus-just listen man," he sounded suddenly desperate, his brain must have caught up with his situation. "Th-this doesn't have to go down like this. L-like you said, j-just lemme go. I ain't no fool, you got me beat."

"McKenna would see through you in an instant." He started to protest, but I just kept right talking, "Hell, I bet you already sent her a wave didn't you? Told her you didn't find my body out in the blasted lands." Slowly he nodded. "Man, you are as dumb as a box of sand," I told him.

"Be reasonable!" he pleaded.

"No deal." His bulk muffled the gunshot.

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