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 ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2

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Tiphereth

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PostSubject: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:37 pm

CHAPTER 1 — The Utah Steppes
pages 1 to 7

_________________________________________________________



A cool wind caressed the desert and stirred the sand at Plymuth's feet. Bathed in the moonlight, he stood atop a high dune scanning the horizon with his night vision binoculars searching for place to bed down when day came. It had been approximately four hours since he left the Oasis hotel but he was still worried that the slaver still might pursue him so he checked behind him as well. Content that nothing was following him, Plymuth looked ahead once more and increased the magnification of the the viewer. He had thought he spotted something, and wanted to make sure that it wasn't just his imagination. Sweeping southward he could see some sort of structure in a valley and felt that he could make it in another three hours or so.

Plymuth finished off one of his many canteens and wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. He tightened the cap and slung the empty vessel around his neck as he continued his climb up yet another dune. Why in the hell a man of the sea would willingly hike into the desert was a question that had begun to plague his mind. He wanted to the see the ocean again, feel the sea spray on his skin, hell he'd even settle for a pond, any body of clean water would do. He snapped back to reality as he approached the crest and when he just about at the top, took out his binoculars and lied down on his stomach. Plymuth wanted to see who or what was around the structure and was curious to see a pack of dog-like beasts gathered around a carcass and whatever was dead was right beside a large truck that had been designed to run on the railway that followed the valley to the southwest.

He took his pack off and opened up a side pocket. Only one left and though he'd hate to waste it, better a fire-cracker than ammunition. Carrying the explosive in his hand and his solar lighter in the other, Plymuth approached the pack of wild dogs and waited to see what they would do before setting off the fireworks. Thankfully the creatures cleared away without a fuss and as he got closer to the what they had been feasting on found that little remained of the humanoid carcass. "Poor bastard." Commented Plymuth as he stepped round the body and pulled open the door to the vehicle, shining his heavy torch into it.

There was no one in the van, but Plymuth suspected that there may have been another, probably dragged away by whatever attacked them he reckoned. Damn shame for them, good luck for him to come across such a transport. Behind the truck, it was pulling another car but it was full of solar panels and beneath them batteries that provided extra power for locomotion and other things. An impressive set-up, considered Plymuth and so he tossed his gear into the back of the van, where there was a bed and some other seats. He then jumped into the driver's seat and turned the engine over, expecting it to sputter and die, but instead it kicked over. Plymuth grinned and put the converted railway truck into a gear and headed southwest down a well preserved railway.


Last edited by Tiphereth on Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:55 am; edited 6 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:34 am



Plymuth got the idea that the railway was main mode of transportation in this area by the apparent maintenance of the tracks. The body of the railway transports former owner had been mauled and there were no signs of a weapon used on his body so he figured that something must have got him. There were no discernible tracks left behind, but then one windy night would remove all traces, so he could only assume that for some reason the driver and his passenger or passengers had stopped and were ambushed. The railway would definitely be a target, Plymuth figured, a rolling deli for any sem-intelligent predators out there. He'd have to keep that in mind.

Rummaging through the van while keeping an eye on the tracks, Plymuth found a map of the area and learned that he was headed into a place called, 'Utah'. Scanning further west beyond what were now wide spread steppe lands, he found a place called Lake Tahoe, which had to be the 'Tahoe' that everyone was gravitating toward.

The railway track he followed had been hand drawn on the map and Plymuth could see that he was bound for a place called Ash Fall, which seemed to be a settlement or something. He estimated that he was about an hour away and decided to take a chance and pass through.
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:27 am



The eastern sky was beginning to softly glow when what Plymuth figured to be Ash Fall, came into view. On the horizon he could see the black shapes of warehouses and as the railway transport drew closer the scent unearthed minerals could be detected in the air. The closer he got to the structures, barely visible in the pre-dawn light, the more apparent it became that he was approaching what used to be a mining operation or at least that what it appeared to be.

Plymuth eased off on the transports power and brought it to stop just before reaching the first of several switches that diverted the many trains ahead onto a series of six separate tracks. The man of the sea, had never seen trains before but he had read about them and experienced them first hand when he first set foot on the continent so he was not at all unfamiliar with how they worked. Stepping out of the car with his spear gun in his hand, Plymuth made sure that the switch was set to detour him onto one of the side tracks since they way ahead was blocked. He then drove ahead until he found a track that was clear and diverted his smaller railway car onto it and slowly made his way between two long dilapidated trains. The first of the rusted old cars that he passed were empty, but after a while he began to noticed that some of them were filled with what he figured was coal, enough of it to fuel a town for some time.

He was passing beneath an immense structure which seemed designed to house and load the trains. About a quarter of a kilometer ahead he could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and instinctively Plymuth increased his speed not particularly liking the roof above him. He closed his window and decided to shut off his lights to make the vehicle less of a target just in case and just when he was about to knock himself for being too paranoid a blood curdling scream verified his suspicions.
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:37 am



Something big flashed past the windshield causing Plymuth to jump back. "What the &#$%!" he exclaimed as the thing vanished into the blackness just a quick as it appeared. He pressed on though since he had gone past the point of no return.

On another track he passed an abandoned car full of coal. It seemed to have been singled out and positioned for pickup or whoever was pulling it was forced to abandon the precious fuel. Plymuth began to try and put the pieces of the puzzle together, figuring that the transport he was driving had been in the giant warehouse before. They were gathering coal, but then they were interrupted by the screaming demons descending on them out of the darkness. They must hate light, that much was evident, but then why couldn't the others escape to the sun? The answer occurred to Plymuth as fast as the question occurred to him, "The fools were probably working in the evening and didn't realize that the sun had set, allowing the creatures to pursue them."

WHAM! Something big struck the side of the railway transport, rocking it. There was then a piercing scream, reciprocated by many others, echoing through the massive black expanse. Plymuth suddenly got the feeling that he was literally driving into hell, and now his only chance for survival was to make it to the light. He hoped.
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:19 pm



The end of the enormous canopy, was but a bright narrow line in the distance speckled with the shapes of hundreds of flying creatures. They filled the air like frenzied gulls, battling for a mere morsel of food and Plymuth had a good idea that he was the scrap.

It appeared that the creatures were congregating on the tracks, obviously aware that the railway transports and engines were bound to them, that or else it was something else. 'The sound perhaps?' considered the ocean dweller, comparing the aerial monsters to those sea creatures that dwelled in the dark depths of the ocean, where no light save for those that made their own existed. The giant warehouse radiated with a constant cacophony of chirps and screeches, much like bats and as one of the giant creatures flew by Plymuth could distinctly make out black leathery wings. Indeed they appeared to be man sized bats, except their heads were elongated with no discernible eyes.

The transport suddenly plowed into to something blocking the tracks, and Plymuth could make out the sound of grinding bones under the metal wheels. A few moments elapsed and then he struck another and another until the drag of the corpses were starting to reduce the speed of the small engine. A few more hits, and he feared that the he lose enough speed to stall him out, and that would be certain death.

The sound of claws scraped across the roof of the transport and Plymuth's eyes were drawn to a hatch in the ceiling. It rattled, but he was hardly worried since he didn't think the creatures would worm their massive wings through such a small opening. He, however, could hear the sound of vigorously flapping wings and the engine was losing a significant amount of speed.

"Bullocks!" Swore Plymuth. He knew what was happening and didn't hesitate to act. Grabbing is triple barreled spear gun, he popped the hatch and counted on the element of surprise as he stood on the metal ladder and sprang out of the opening. There was a hiss behind him, and as Plymuth spun around pointing his gun, he stared into the black face of one of the creatures. It was holding onto a storage rack and and flapping its wings, attempting to stop the engine; it's large wings creating a considerable amount of resistance. The creature gnashed its teeth and snapped at the man, but Plymuth was quicker with his trigger and released one of his spring loaded spears into its mouth and through the back of it's head.

Plymuth watched as the creature twitched and collapsed, then ducked just in time as another came swooping down, slashing at him with it's rear legs. He let himself fall back into the cab, the hatch falling closed after him and as he rolled to his feet the transport struck another of the monsters trying to block the railway. Falling backwards from the impact, he fell against a box, spilling the contents across the floor. Small, roundish capsules rolled around the cab, and Plymuth immediately recognized them as a type of grenade. He grabbed one thought, 'what the hell', rolled down the window, pulled the pin and tossed one into the air. The explosion was very small, but it made an incredibly loud sound, that caused the creatures to scatter, but they returned a few minutes later. Reaching down, he gathered more of the percussion grenades and continued to hurl them out the window until he was at the edge of the vast canopy.

As the transport passed into the warm golden morning light, the creatures would not follow and retreated back into the shadows. The yellow transport, the front of which was splattered with the blood and black fleshy remnants shot out of the darkness and Plymuth was quick to apply the breaks. Ahead of him, was another similar looking transport, with a two armed men standing at either side of it.

One man, started to walk toward Plymuth's car before it came to a grinding halt, his hand gun casually resting on his shoulder.

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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:07 pm



Kitty and Tom awoke to find themselves abandoned by their traveling companions. They had searched the hotel high and low and it wasn’t until they took a look outside and saw the covered truck was missing, and everyone and everything with it. They were alone, in a strange place, without so much as “so long” from anyone.

Kitty felt her heart constrict in her chest knowing that Leo had left her like this. He could have at least been honest with her and told her good bye. That he couldn’t handle being close to her and having thing develop between them he wasn’t ready for. She would have completely understood. After all, she was an unnatural abomination and he was a human. Why would she be offended if he decided to back away from her?

At least Leo had been kind enough to leave them canteens and the back packs they stole from the soldiers with weapons and ammunition as well as some kind of dried meals. When Tom finally decided they should leave in case some of the slavers friends really do return, Kitty agreed. Thankfully it was still dark out and they could move relatively quickly and keep out of sight of nocturnal predators.

Donning her leather duster, Kitty loaded two Glock 9’s and holstered them in her shoulder holsters. They had about a dozen grenades, several boxes of bullets for the 9 MM’s and a few boxes of shells for the shot gun Tom carried. Each one had three canteens of water and they each had four of the dried meal boxes. Their packs weren’t all that light and it would make travel hazardous, but they had to get the hell out of here and head….somewhere.

They couldn’t go back from where they had come. Kitty’s safe bunker was destroyed and the lap Tom had been created in was compromised. There was no place left for them to go other than away from here. So cautiously stepping out of the Oasis hotel, they did a preliminary check, made sure the coast was clear then headed out.

It didn’t take them long to catch the trail of a lone traveler. And from the way his feet sunk into the dirt, he was loaded down pretty well, too. When Tom leaned down to get a good nose full of the scent, he told Kitty it was the stranger they had met in the hotel. The decision was made to follow him then. He was quite a ways ahead of them but thankfully the wind hadn’t covered his trail all that well. Not to mention Tom and Kitty could both catch his scent on the air and knew they were still going in the right direction.

By the time the sun was starting to lighten the night sky, Kitty and Tom hadn’t come across any nocturnal feeders. Thankfully they were able to find some crumbling building, or an old abandoned vehicle to hide in when they caught the scent of sound of something that would pose trouble for them.

They made pretty good time considering and they were able to catch a glimpse of the man in the distance. He was moving towards something that looked like a group of large buildings. If Kitty remembered her teachings correctly, they were called warehouses and they housed different goods. Sometimes food, sometimes machinery, sometimes minerals. It all depended.

When they reached the area, they heard a vehicle start up and start moving. Using the different buildings to conceal themselves, they moved as quietly and as quickly as they could to get closer to see what was going on. They reached the area just in time to see the strange vehicle disappear into the large place that seemed to swallow the vehicle up.

Kitty walked towards the structure and paused at the side of the entrance. The light outside was making it difficult for her eyes to see inside. She saw the vehicle getting further and further away and thought they were going to lose their possible ride and moved to step inside the tunnel when Tom’s hand gripped her upper arm gently but firmly. When she turned to look at him his brow was furrowed and he shook his head. She was about to ask him what was wrong when she heard the scream from inside.

Kitty took a step back and narrowed her eyes then as she looked within and saw the huge, winged creatures beginning to attack the vehicle. What ever they were, they were determined to get that vehicle. And they weren’t as stupid as they first appeared. She could make out their outline and see they were attempting to stop the vehicle by using their wings. That’s when she saw the hatch open up and saw the one creature fall from the top.

Stepping back from the structure, Kitty looked all around and then looked up. There was an exit on the other end of the structure. Perhaps they could go over the structure and be there on the other side to help fight the creatures off for it seemed as thought he man was going to make it through.

Using their claws and agile bodies, Kitty and Tom scaled the structure and began making their way carefully across the top of the structure. They could hear the fight that was taking place within it and Kitty hoped the man was able to come out on the other side unharmed, but she wasn’t going to hold her breath.

They had just reached the other side when Tom quickly pulled her down. Creeping along on their bellies to the edge of the structure, Kitty and Tom peered over the edge and saw the other vehicle stopped and the two men, very armed men at that, waiting for the vehicle to make it through. As the vehicle came to a screeching halt, Kitty and Tom saw the one armed man walking towards it with his gun resting easily on his shoulder.

Kitty and Tom exchanged looks and knew what the other was thinking. When the time was right, they would drop down from their vantage point and back the man up in the vehicle that had just made it through the fleshy gauntlet in the structure. Checking their guns to make sure they were ready to go and clicking the safety off, they waited to see what the man inside the vehicle was going to do as they crouched and made ready to jump down behind the vehicle for back up.

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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:20 am



Plymuth was trapped and so all he could do was avoid ramming the other railway transport and wait and see what the two men's intentions were. They were both armed but neither were menacing him with their firearms but rather carrying them in a precautionary manner.

The smaller man with tanned skin and a few days growth on his face had a side arm and his larger Black companion had a shotgun. They walked on opposite side of the tracks and both stopped a few strides away from the vehicle, then the smaller man spoke.

"Where'd ya get that car?" he asked.

Plymuth clenched his jaw and looked from one man to another before replying. Despite there weathered faces, their clothes and equipment were well maintained and that meant they were from some sort of settlement. 'Guards, maybe?' he figured, and Plymuth could tell right off that they probably knew who had previously owned the transport so his best bet was to just come clean.

"The guy I got it from didn't need it anymore."

The talker glanced over at his friend than back to the stranger. "You kill him?" he asked.

Plymuth felt this might go bad and began to plan a defensive maneuver to get his ass out of there. He shook his head. "Was dead already." he answered, "Some of those things back there got him."

The man looked over at the stick black carcasses stuck to the front of the car and gave a slight smile. "Yeah, it seems you made it through okay.", he pointed out.

"Lucky, I guess." Plymuth replied then unable to play the cat and mouse game any longer piped up and questioned his interrogator, "So who the hell are you guys and what do you want with me?"

The man laughed then and his partner joined in. He holstered his weapon and approached the window of the car with his hand extended. Carefully, Plymuth reached out and shook it, keeping an eye on the other gunman.

"I'm Salem Midvale and this guy over here is Gurder. We're rangers from Stonehaven and we can't just let drifters up and steal our property, now can we?"

"Fair enough." Said Plymuth and opened the door, "I'll just grab me gear then and be on me way."

Salem stepped back. It was obvious that he was studied the man, looking him up and down and Plymuth knew just what he was looking for, but he wouldn't find it.

"Well you look, Human enough." Salem said then, "Why don't drive that car back with us."

"Back to this 'Stonehaven' place?"

"Yeah. No strings attached. Come back with us and take a look at our city, then we'll talk some more."

The two men walked back to their transport, got in and started back the way they had come and Plymuth thinking, 'what did he have to lose', followed them.

They drove straight west, their cars cruising at a speed of 50 kmph, crossing though the red desert of Utah. After half of an hour, Plymuth saw their settlement in the distance, or at least he though it was. As they got closer, it was just simply a large door in the side of the mountain and several train tracks flowed into it.

A large wall and gates had been built around the train tracks and as they approached one, Salem leaned out the window of his car and waved. The heavy horizontal bars pulled apart and they drove through.

Plymuth noticed as they passed by, that the guard in the tower closes to their gate wasn't Human at all. He had cat-like features, but for all intents and purposes he seemed far more Human than animal and Plymuth got the feeling that this community frowned upon animal mutants. He had come across one out East, Humanoids were accepted it but nothing with the features and especially the mannerisms of an animal.

Looking back he could see another gate that allowed walk in traffic to enter but they seemed to take their security very seriously. Plymuth could tell though that he could leave at anytime, and was relieved that he was not entering some sort of military compound.

Driving on, slower now, they made their way into a small, bustling city with far more development than any other place, Plymuth had seen so far. Apparently that they had an established security force to police the streets and had some sort of power source to generate electricity as well as access to water. What really impressed him the most, however, was that there were Humanoids walking alongside Humans on the streets, they were fewer in number of course, but it was still something to behold. Could this be the result of Tahoe? Plymuth was curious now, he couldn't wait to get out of his rail car so he could ask some questions but it seemed they were through a tunnel, traveling below ground.

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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:23 am

Tom reached out and rested his hand on Kitty's arm as the man spoke to the other two men. His sensetive hears heard the man called Sam say ... "Well you look, Human enough." Tom looked at Kity and brought a finger to his lips. Signaling her to be quiet. They laid hidden side by side as the man drove the vehicle off following the other two men. Tom then whispered to Kitty. "Lets follow them and see where they go. If they threaten the man from the hotel, we'll help. If not maybe we can follow them into the place they call 'Stonehaven'. If we can find a place to hide there maybe we can find some food, weapons and ammunition. Maybe even a vehicle. ...... What do you say? You up for it?"
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:37 am



Kitty could hear some of the conversation that was taking place between the man in the vehicle and the ones who caused him to stop on the tracks. When Tom suggested they follow the cars, Kitty readily agreed. These men didn’t seem to care for those who weren’t fully human so that meant she and Tom would have to be very careful around them. Tom would blend in better but she was an obvious stand out.

The heat of the daylight sun wasn’t going to be easy for them to deal with. In fact, Kitty knew they would never make it if they didn’t find someplace to stay and let the oppressive heat of the day pass them by. They would have to arrive later than the man and hope he made out just fine on his own. Looking to Tom, she signed what he already knew was coming.

can’t make trip on foot during time of hottest temp. Will die. Need to find move quickly now then find place to wait out heat and make trip later when sun goes down. Not all that good to be exposed at night but better chance for us to reach stonehaven place than trying to walk in sun.

As Tom nodded his agreement, he led the way off the structure with Kitty following. They were careful to avoid the structures they knew would be home to the flying bat like creatures that attacked the vehicle Plymuth had taken control of. They walked for about an hour when they finally realized they best find that shelter before they died of heat stroke or suffered some other heat related illness.

A sparse cropping of buildings made just the place for them. It appeared they used to be office buildings of some sort so Kitty and Tom decided to use them for a resting place. Cautiously easing themselves into the structure, they advanced one at a time with weapons drawn sweeping the place for anything hostile. Tom found a set of stairs that led to the lower levels under ground. Kitty could feel the cooler air drifting up the stairs and was hoping it was safe for them to seek shelter there.

After another sweep of the lower level, they found it to be abandoned and even found a storage room that would be the perfect place for them to rest. Tom was able to close the door and put an old desk in front of it as a barricade. Once that was set in place, Kitty shrugged out of her backpack and leather duster and laid it on the floor. Sitting on her coat, she pulled her backpack around and opened it. Digging through the contents she brought out two of the meals for her and Tom to eat.

Tom settled down across from her and they ate in silence. Well….Kitty was always silent, but Tom was quiet as well. Not that he was all that talkative, but he had the vocal chords to talk like a normal person. While they didn’t discuss the others leaving them, it was obvious it was weighing on both their minds. Kitty didn’t eat all of her meal so she wrapped it up and placed it back in her backpack for later.

Once she had things taken care of, she put her backpack down and tried to fluff it as best she could to use for a pillow. Laying back she let the backpack cradle her head and she stretched out on her duster. Signing to Tom she was going to sleep, she wished him pleasant dreams.


_________________

A few hours later Kitty was awakened to Tom shaking her shoulder. Disoriented at first, she blinked and looked up at him confused before she quickly sat up thinking something was wrong. At first she looked to make sure Leo was alright but when she realized where they were and it was just her and Tom, she looked back at the hybrid and nodded. It was time for them to head out again. Signing a thanks to Tom, she stretched and got to her feet then donned her duster and backpack once more. Out of habit, she checked her guns to make sure they were ready to go then with another nod, she let Tom know she was indeed ready.

Helping Tom push the heavy desk away from the door, Kitty and Tom peered out into the hallway to see if anything was lurking. With the coast clear, they eased out of the room and once more did a sweeping check as they made their way to the stairs and out of the building. The sun was setting and along with it the heat of the day was slowly leaving the desert like environment. Checking the sky and horizon to make sure there were no surprises waiting, the two lab created hybrids began following the tracks once more.

With the heat of the day leaving, they were able to keep up a pretty good jogging pace without expending too much energy. All the while both of them kept looking behind them and all around them to see if they could see anything that would be hunting them. So far, so good, but the sun wasn’t all the way down yet.

By the time the last rays of the day were fading away, they could see the outline of a some mountains come into view. Stopping and studying the horizon, Kitty furrowed her brows. The tracks seemed to lead to the side of the mountain. Without knowing for certain, there was only one way to find out.

As the two hybrids started walking once more following the tracks, they heard a screeching scream in the distance behind them. Looking back they could see a dark cloud getting closer to them. While it was still pretty far away, they knew it was just a matter of moments before it would reach them. Without hesitation, the hybrids took off running as fast as their altered bodies would take them.

They could see the torches of the settlement at the gates coming into view when they heard the sound of flapping wings closing in behind them. Tom grabbed Kitty’s hand and made her run even faster as she began to fire behind her as best she could to deter some of the forward flying scouts of the flock. Tom fired the shot gun a couple of times as well to fend off a few of the faster flying ones that seemed to actually pass them and come at them from the front.

They were about 20 yards from the first set of gates when the flock was just beginning to swoop down on them. Kitty knew for certain this was the end for there were far more flying predators than she had ammunition but she wasn’t going down without a fight. Coming to a screeching halt, she yanked her hand out of Toms and turned. With both guns drawn, she began to fire at the approaching flock making one last stand before she became a bone picked carcass for these carnivorous predators. Tom, seeing what she was doing, joined her as he began to fire at the ravenous creatures.

From behind her, Kitty and Tom were suddenly bathed in bright light and the flying creatures that were already drooling in anticipation of a warm blooded meal let out a painful screech and quickly retreated away from the reach of the lights. The sound of guns being loaded and ready for fire was soon followed by a voice projected by some device that spoke from behind Tom and Kitty ordering them to lay down there guns, get their hands up, and state their business.

”Stop where you are and lay your guns down. State your business.”

Kitty and Tom stopped firing at the creatures, which was only good since their guns were out of ammo, and looked at each other. Very slowly they raised their hands in a surrender motion then turned to face the bright lights that blinded them. Squinting and blinking as they tried to see who was talking without hurting their eyes, the two hybrids knelt down and laid their guns gently on the ground before slowly standing back up with their hands still raised. Kitty looked at Tom and raised her brows then nodded towards the voice indicating he needed to say something before they found themselves in the dark and food for the hungry flock that still waited, screeching and squawking just outside the lights reach.

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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Tue Dec 22, 2009 4:22 pm

Tom looked up into the lights and with hius gravely voice said loudly "We are but weary travelers seeking shelter from the night. My sister and I mean no harm and only seek a small safe place to rest. We have our own food and water. ...... We will leave at dawn." When the man behind the light said "Holster your weapons and move slowly towards the gate with your hands on top of your heads. Any sudden moves and you will be shot where you stand. As he turned and knelt to pick up the shot gun, holstering it in the sling at the siade of his back pack and his back pack, Tom mouthed to Kitty not to worry there was dirt her face. Then they both rose, their weapons holstered, placed their hands on their heads and moved slowly towards the gate.
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Fri Jan 01, 2010 12:37 am


Plymuth opened the side cargo door of the transport and stepped out with his gear in hand. They had stopped in what looked like a bunker with a very low ceiling, then noticing a faded sign on the wall realized that they were in a mine. These men who called themselves, 'rangers' had turned the underground tunnels into a base and currently they were in the garage where the rail-cars were stored and maintained.

Salem Midvale and his partner, Gurder stepped out of their car and wandered over to a mechanic who was currently working on another transport. Plymuth could see that the metal door had long claw marks across it and figured they had been visiting that old rail yard for a while now.

"So would you like the grand tour...?" Asked Salem then his word trailed off when it occurred to him that their guest had never given his name, "Y'know, I never caught your name."

"I never threw it." Replied Plymuth.

Salem smiled, but the levity was not reciprocated by the grim looking man. He waited for the man to give his name and just when he was about to ask a second time, the man responded.

"Plymuth."

Salem nodded. "So where are you —?"

"From the east. An island formerly known as Britain." Plymuth interrupted, already anticipating the question. He couldn't hide his accent so there was denying his origins. "So do you guys treat all the strangers you meet in the desert this well?" he then inquired.

"No." Salem flatly answered, "But we recognize talent when we see it."

"Talent?" Plymuth didn't like the sound of that. He had considered that this may have been some sort of recruiting tactic and right away set the straight, "I'm not looking to join your outfit or any other, so I would be much obliged if you showed me the way out."

Salem and Gurder shared a look. They weren't used to people turning down an offer to become a ranger.

"Fine." Said Salem realizing that Plymuth unlike so many had conviction and he respected that. He pointed to a corridor and the British man took it without hesitation.

"Hey!", Salem called to the man's back as he quickly passed by.

Plymuth stopped and catching sight of something out of the corner of his eye snatched it out of the air with impressive speed and dexterity. It was a bag of coins.

"Those are credits. Payment for retrieving our car." Explained the ranger.

Plymuth opened the bag and found that it was filled with the ancient currency once used in this country.Tarnished silver coins which he believed were once known as quarters and nickels filled the bag and then there were smaller copper coloured coins he knew to be pennies.

"Thanks." Said Plymuth and continued on his way.

"Be seeing you around, Plymuth." Bid Salem.

Plymuth made his way through a few check points. The guards had all been notified of him via a radio transmission of some kind and allowed him to pass through the steel doors. The last door, after a good climb up a flight of stairs opened into a bright street. Shielding his eyes from the eleven 'o' clock sun Plymuth stepped out into the busy lane and blended in with the crowd.
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:41 pm


As the gate was opened for Kitty and Tom to pass through, the bright, blinding lights used to keep the nocturnal, flying predators at bay remained well lit. It wasn’t until the two strangers were past the entrance and the gates closed the lights were turned off. As soon as the lights were turned off, the flying creatures flew forward to capture their prey only to find themselves thwarted once more by the iron, cage like roof that kept them out.

As the screeching, squawking bird like creatures tried in vein to get to Tom and Kitty, they both couldn’t help but crouch down and pull their weapons once more looking up at the sky. But when they saw the fact the creatures were kept out, they relaxed slightly and slowly stood back up. Of course by then the sentry’s were in place and pointing weapons of their own at the new comers.

“That’s far enough. Hand the weapons over.”

Kitty furrowed her brows and shook her head. The man sighed and held his hand out again, genturing his fingers for her to give the weapons over.

“C’mon. You’ll get ‘em back when you leave. Until then, you can’t go walking around with them. They could cause trouble.”

Kitty looked to Tom who gestured for her to turn her guns over to the men like he was. With some reluctance, Kitty did as requested but she wasn’t at all happy. The man glanced behind them then gestured once more.

“Backpacks too.”

Kitty furrowed her brows even more but shrugged the back pack off all the same handing it to the guards. The guard could see she wasn’t all that happy about it and grinned.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. You’ll get everything back. Promise. We’ll keep it safe for you in the meantime.”

The man looked at Tom then.

“She doesn’t say much, does she? At least with her mouth.”

As the guard turned to walk away, he gestured for Kitty and Tom to follow him. As they began moving into the settlement, Kitty looked all around. There were smells and sounds of all kinds coming from the place. Smells and sounds she had never experienced before and while she was cautious she was curious to find out what they were and what made them.

As the guard led them into a building he gestured to a couple of chairs.

“Have a seat. As soon as we get you registered we’ll send you on your way.”

Sitting down at a dilapidated desk, the guard picked up something to write with and looked over at Kitty.

“Alright, darlin’. Let’s start with you. What’s your name?”

Kitty didn’t care for his endearments and she quickly signed something Tom dared not interpret unless he and Kitty wanted to find themselves out in the darkness with those creatures again. When the guard saw she was using her hands to talk he furrowed his brows and looked to Tom.

“What the hell is that?”

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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:33 am


"Hey!" called the ranger to his Plymuth's back before he melted into the busy street, "Take this."

The man handed him a green arm band that had an official looking insignia on it and the numbers, '5025-T'. Plymuth noted the guard was wearing one only his number ended in a '-R'.

"Salem says you should wear the band. It'll keep guys like me and the 'peace-keepers' from confiscating your gear," he explained with a smile, "and its not likely you'll be gettin' a permit anytime soon."

Plymuth was reluctant but he took the arm band and put it on. There was a limit to how much one should rock the boat and the mariner felt that it best to follow suit.

"There, you're an honorary ranger now."
Said the guard, "But don't by tryin' to throw you're weight around, you hear."

Plymuth nodded, bit his tongue and walked away. He didn't like to be told what to do, which was one the main reason he wasn't about to join up with up some militant group who were obviously a little to full of themselves. Still, he did appreciate the 'temporary membership badge' which would allow him to move about without having to worry about the law. Apparently the 'rangers' shared power with the peace-keepers, who from what Plymuth could see were little more than thugs with authority. As he walked by a group of them, they immediately noticed his arm band and respectfully acknowledged him with wary nods but he didn't offer them a second look.

As he walked down the main street, Plymuth noticed once in a while he passed a 'humanoid', either a hybrid or some kind of mutant that appeared to be much more Human than not. Seeing that they tolerated mutations was very progressive, but then Plymuth saw the signs. Above a public well was written in large letters, 'Human's Only' and further down the road he found another tap, that was simply labeled, 'Mutants'. It then became very apparent that his kind were only treated as equals when it was in the best interest of the Humans and all others were tolerated and treated like second class citizens. No one had even suspected, Plymuth, however and it was obvious that as long as one looked Human they were treated as such.

Traveling further down the street, Plymuth passed by several businesses, some of which had racist signs before them, excluding mutants, but there were just as many places that welcomed all or at least tolerated non-Humans. As he grew hungry, Plymuth found a tavern called 'The Bulldozer'. A mutant tolerant establishment, built around an ancient earth moving device that he had once seen in a video. He found himself a quiet corner, and no sooner did he sit down than a young woman carrying a pitcher of water wandered over.

"A half-credit." She said gesturing to the water.

Plymuth flipped the mug on his table upright and handed her one of the copper pieces from his bag, figuring it to be a half-credit. She took the coin, smiled and filled his glass.

"Menu's written on the wall."
The woman told him, "I'll stop back in a few moments."
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:21 pm


Rarmon and Jack had survived the ordeal the two had fell upon each other on the night patrol which Rarmon had taken for the group to find a pack of Rex’s had smelt the blood on his chainsaw blade. The hounds immediately spread out into a formation he knew he had wandered too far out from the group for even the heavy thump of his rifle to reach their ears with the dunes disorientating the sound capturing it in the dessert lucky for Rarmon one individual had heard it had been Jack. Thanks to the able sniper Rarmon had been saved from an eternity of staring at the sun unable to move being torn apart by the Rex. The robotic soldier replayed the moment of meeting the Rex the heavy rifle thumping away in his hands the rounds ripping into the Rex. The numbers counted against him they came at him ever closer he let go of the empty rifle his programmed arms slipping the revolver out with a comical twirl round his finger sending the anti material rounds the revolver held blowing three Rex’s apart in seconds his other hand reaching for three more shells. Rarmon watched as he cracked the pistol open slamming another three of the expensive rounds the first Rex to reach him leaped for his face he slammed his fist into its jaw closing the slobbering maw with a crack of an uppercut still in mid air he saw the command for the pull of the trigger his gun kicking in his hand for a double tap. It seemed to be going so well till one had sneaked behind him jumping onto his back the thing aiming for his throat found only metal the thing tried again this time against the shoulder the metal had groaned seeming to fight the beast but finally the metal popped the arm popping from its joint the remaining strips of fake skin holding it in place.

The robotic soldier had continued to fight but was losing with only one arm he was unable to reload dropping the pistol he had revved up his chainsaw one handed swinging the blade as an attachment to his arm keeping the Rex’s at bay. His counter said 34 dead yet in front of him he saw another 12 Rex bit of a large hunting party he was about to give one final war cry deciding on his actions he stepped forward. As he entered the fray a Rex leaping for his shock helmet was blasted from the very air a sharp crack echoing in the air in the dune valley a figure was atop a dune the snipers coat wavering in the wind instantly his HUD identified the sniper to be fitted with a regulation rifle of the unit a MK11. The man had assisted him with sniper fire it had been Jack going for a toilet and had wandered upon Rarmon’s warzone realising the former comrade he had helped quickly. It hadn’t taken long Rarmon baiting them as the sniper killed the Rex’s after all 46 of the Rex had been killed Jack had assisted by placing the arm back in its joint giving maintenance to the robot on certain areas which he had not maintained over the years. Yet Rarmon had no recollection of the man yet he had explained they had been in the army together even his HUD told him the two had served he could recall nothing beyond his creation he didn’t believe it to be brainwashing maybe simply overwritten memories he could only assume a filled hard drive after all he didn’t have a unlimited brain capacity.

After the maintenance Rarmon returned to the hotel bringing along Jack who kept a watchful eyes to find everyone had left he shrugged he had made little attachment to the group yet found it awkward finding he had walked upon them almost 3 times or was it two shrugging he picked up his Bergen a note written in scratchy hand writing he could assume was Kitty it read simply. “Bye.” They had taken everything else they had left his huge Bergen as the thing weighted almost as much as Kitty and Tom together the heavy pack he slung on his shoulder looking to the sniper. Jack looked over the area his bionic eye looking over tracks and tells tale signs of the party were living there his grey eye followed almost as if he didn’t trust the bionic eyes results giving a nod of approval the two left with their gear. “Synchronising core chips.” Rarmon gave a small nod as he opened his HUD quickly doing the correct options allowing the two to connect with each other Jack quickly did his as well. The two connected via a link which they could send packets between each other be they simple chat boxes or full on reports and commands they began considering their options. A small chat box between them as they both moved over the most recent satellite photos of this area finally selecting a town then they decided they would infiltrate the town wary of losing all their kit and being defenceless afterwards.

The town they decided to pick just so happened to be Stonehaven and the irony the two happened to walk into the tavern which Plymouth had decided to accommodate. The heavy thuds of Rarmon walking past Plymuth the man could easily tell the two weren’t unarmed civilians the heavy thuds of the larger of the two the other not making a single sound on the rickety wooden floor of the tavern. Both had bags bulging full the two covered these with what seemed practical waterproofing material but Plymuth thought he saw a barrels sticking from Rarmon’s the purpose obviously to cover the bags from view of what may have hanged from them a light MG or rifle hanging off the side. The other individual held a single long tube on his back holding anything from artwork to who knows what maybe a sniper... The two had infiltrated the town 2 nights ago having slipped through the slack security of the full of themselves ‘Ranger’ having little skill to back their claims the two professional soldiers found a booth empty two tables from Plymuth Rarmon placed his bag on the ground with a final thud using his foot to push it under the table slipping into the seats taking the whole seat with his wide frame. Rarmon’s coat flapping open slightly as he had sat the tail had caught on the table corner Plymuth easily saw the huge revolver in a holster at his belt the man quickly covered the weapon with his coat again. The eerie eyes seeming to be alive telling most patrons that this man was at least part Cyborg or maybe even a full model. The other man most could tell little about obviously more into keeping to himself he slid in carefully placing the tube next to him in the booth he slouched back in the booth enjoying the comfort of his seat.

The two talked idle chat varying from drink, violence; past events even Plymuth did not recognise certain battle fields they had both been on. The two seeming not to care if any could hear their conversation the waitress came to their table the cyborg giving a full smile asking if they served whiskey ordering the one for himself his friend only asked for a cup of water the two continued their idle chatter. Rarmon had noticed the striped band on one of the patrons arm the old HUD seemed to have small files on small groups of people forming their own militia a common variety named a ‘Ranger’ Rarmon found it unusual the man seemed to be his own person dismissing others his weaponry surprised him as well and the casual glances around the tavern told him the supposed Ranger was probably new to the tavern or like them was trying to cover up his vigilance of the whole tavern his hands open palmed on the table ready to reach for a weapon or to defend himself much like Jack and Rarmon.

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“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:09 am


The Bulldozer Tavern...

Plymuth had deliberated over the menu for a while. He wasn't yet used to inland cuisine and longed for a fresh fillet or even some seaweed, so he ended up settling for a roasted Kaboren spider. He had read they were somehow related to crustaceans and so he figured the fare would be palatable, maybe even enjoyable.

The server brought his beer ahead of time. A nice heavy bodied stout which was to his delight almost as good as back home. Plymuth threw back a swallow, eased into his chair and studied the giant earth moving machine in the middle of the tavern. The 'bull dozer' as they called it, had body hollowed out and was converted into a bar. The tracks had table tops laid across the them and the floor had been raised under the bar stools that had been set before them. It was an ingenious use of the old machine, Plymuth considered, they had even used the giant scoop which was in raised position to hold the kegs of ale and beer and hoses connected them to the taps at the bar, which the newcomer recognized to be old petrol pumps.

As Plymuth enjoyed another swig of his stout he noticed another old machine wander into the establishment. This one was a large mechanized man, the same man that had rained down bullets into the basement of the Oasis hotel, but Plymuth had sought shelter before he could meet Rarmon, thus he didn't recognize him. He did recognize, however, that both he and his companion were toting poorly concealed weapons, which was odd since everyone in Stonehaven had to turn in their firearms. They definitely weren't rangers nor were they the law, but for all Plymuth knew they could have permits. Either way it was none of his concern.

"Roast Kaboren spider, sir." Said the server as she presented Plymuth with a large streaming spider, lying on its back with the legs pointing upwards, "Another beer?" she asked as she placed the platter on the table.

Plymuth stared at the spider for a few seconds. It really didn't look much like a crab, but if he used his imagination perhaps he could get past its appearance, so long as it tasted good. "Yea... another pint, please." To help me wash down this cooked aberration, thought Plymuth.

The two soldiers sat in a booth not far from Plymuth, at least by the way they looked he assumed them to be some kind of soldier. They were well within ear shot and so he was able to listen to the entire conversation, in fact they were loud enough so that the people at the bar could hear their stories. Tales of old battles, of course, what the hell else do soldiers talk about? Plymuth didn't know, really didn't care. Presently he was enjoying his spider, which actually did taste a lot like crab! "$#%& me, never would have believed it." he quietly expressed, thinking the next time he was on the road he'd bag one of these little monsters for dinner.

As he licked his fingers and finished off his first pint, Plymuth took note of the three peacekeepers that entered through the door at the far end of the place. One could hardly miss them as they all wore the same grey long coats despite the variations of other armours and protective gear. On the left shoulder of the coats was some kind of symbol, a red and black coloured standard with two crossed swords at the center and some text written around the perimeter.

Plymuth shot a glance over at the two shoulders to check their reaction when the law enforcers entered. The last thing he wanted was to get caught in any cross fire and from the looks of things all of the men seemed capable of delivering quite a barrage of gun fire. Between the thee peacekeepers were an automatic rifle, two shot guns and at least a couple of handguns and other melee weapons, like machettes and knives for back-up. They also seemed to be wearing kevlar vests, although a few had seen far better days.

One of the peacekeepers, the one with the automatic rifle approached the bartender and exchanged a few words in a hushed voice. Simultaneously they both glanced to the back of the tavern, but then the peacekeepers just walked out of sight round the other side of the giant bull dozer. Plymuth spotted them, through the windows of the hollowed out earth-moving machine and saw that they were sitting down at a table in the far corner and breathed a sigh of relief.

Plymuth continued eating his spider, digging out the succulent meat in its bulbous abdomen then someone behind him purposely said aloud, "I don't know why the hell a ranger would lower himself to eat among us common folk!" The comment was obviously meant for him to hear it and was said with animosity but since he wasn't really a ranger, Plymuth just ignored the remark.

"Just calm down."
Said another voice. Obviously the sensible and sober one of the group trying to keep his friend starting anything.

"I'm calm." Slurred the wise-cracker, "I'm calm. Don't touch me. I just feel that since we're paying them taxes as well they might actually do a better job policing the outlands. I lost two bulls last week. Two! I think they owe me!"

"I said calm down, Reins!" Said the sensible one, more forcibly this time, then he actually apologized on behalf of his loud mouthed friend, "We're sorry, ranger. My friend's a little drunk, that's all."

Plymuth still didn't turn around. He judged by the shuffling of the men's feet that they were at least three meters away and he had detected no tell tale noises of a ranged weapon and anything they said didn't concern him. He couldn't give two shits about the rangers but the man's angry comments had made him realize that there was dissension among the people concerning both the rangers and the peacekeepers. One thing he noticed as well is that their seemed to be a lot more of the grey suited law enforcers, probably part of the original governing body but now this militant group that seemed to start off as perimeter guards were making a play for a bigger piece of the pie. Perhaps wearing a ranger's armband wasn't the best idea after all?
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:14 pm

The Bulldozer Tavern...

Rarmon received his whiskey and Jack received his cup of water both had stopped their idle chatter on war both looked into their drinks Jack was the first to lift his cup to his lips Rarmon following suit with his own the two savoured their individual drinks. The waitress came back Rarmon couldn’t believe his eyes a damn hamburger on the menu. He asked the waitress to quickly find they had very little left and wondered if he would mind ordering something else. He frowned over the menu many exotic…. Well hunted things listed on the menu. “I think I will skip this meal actually.” Jack looked to the women holding her pen at the ready. “Would it be okay if you could bring a bowl of shelled nuts.” The waitress nodded moving away toward the bull dozer to grab Jack a bowl of nuts the two looked back to each other Rarmon looked around finding a few patrons smoking finding to his joy he pulled a cigar from his front pocket he crammed the end into his mouth pulling a well tarnished lighter opening he found difficulty lighting the damnation of a light he was about to tear it apart when he found a match lit in his face. “So much easier you know.” Jack holding the match out to him Jack had already lighted a cigarette seeming to be battered and old the bent and torn packet sitting on the table.
The waitress came back looking between the two seeming to be opposites of a coin a perfect description for them both she placed the nuts walking away. Rarmon found difficulty picking one up deciding to take three in one grasp where as Jack picked at one opening the shell with ease Rarmon simply crushed the shell Jack frowned at the design of Rarmon’s cybernetics. “Bit old and clunky difficult to do small jobs?” Ramon shook his head giving up separating nut and shell he put the handful into his mouth. “I just haven’t programmed the fingers for such things as picking at shells of a nut.” He picked another three about to throw the nut into his mouth when he saw the three peace keepers walk in. “law enforcement?” Jack looked round giving a shrug as he turned back round. “Yeah more of those supposed peacekeepers we walked by last night.” Rarmon nodding as he remembered Jack killing almost four of them with the knife in his boot not wanting to waist bullets to get out of the barracks they had accidentally entered, or strolled in for ammo.

The two continued to discuss about wars they stopped at certain years most who had a good education would notice that both would have probably served during that time during the exorcising of mutants. The two skipped such a thing as they saw multiple mutants sitting at the bar and other booths not wanting to draw too much attention on that area. The two continued to drink ordering a second round the Rarmon with his HUD sent a message in silence to Jack he could hear the peacekeepers attack they couldn’t believe the armoury in their barracks had been attacked last night. Jack took his glass of water enjoying the liquid flow having not drank cold water all his flasks had contained warm water across those desserts.Then the comments thrown at the ranger patron caused Jack to turn in his seat wondering if anything would break out. He looked beyond the shoulder of the supposed prosecuted ‘Ranger’ the loss of some livestock and some ‘Dutch courage’ had caused this obviously pointless argument as he saw the drunk accuser his friend was keeping him standing rather than his own legs. “Disgusting.” He turned back round picking his glass of water swirling it in circles slowly.

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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:36 am


Plymuth continued to ignore the drunkard who continued to verbally assault him while his friend hauled him out of the tavern. Each step he moved further away the more brazen the man became, such was always the case with cowards considered Plymuth as he finished off his tasty spider and his side of beans in tomato sauce.

Only when the irate man was gone did Plymuth life his head up from his plate. He searched the tavern for his server and when he spotted her lifted up his empty beer mug and gave it a few taps. Another one was promptly brought over to him and upon receiving it, Plymuth paid for his meal and tipped the girl with ten of the ancient 'twenty five cent pieces', which he quickly learned was rather generous. Only then did it occur to him just how much money the ranger, Salem had given him and it got Plymuth thinking that he was trying to tempt him, but why? Were they so desperate for recruits?

The doors to the tavern swung open and the server girl who was clearing away Plymuth's platter and cutlery looked behind him with wide eyes. "Troopers!" she nervously exclaimed in a hushed tone.

Plymuth looked over his shoulder at the men. They were better armed, more fit and appeared to be seasoned soldiers by the way they carried themselves and the battle scars across their faces. A couple of them were quite old, with skin like hardened leather which was probably just as tough. They were definitely at one time mercenaries, Plymuth surmised, just like the bastards who had wiped out his people.

"Troopers?" He questioned the girl.

"'Death Troopers'. They're hired soldiers that work for the peacekeepers." she whispered, "They only show up when there's killing to be done. You seem like a nice man, if I were you I'd get out of here."

The serving girl hastened into the kitchen and did not return but Plymuth remained seated. Many of the patrons were starting to leave, and only the die-hards, drunks and fools remained. Plymuth wasn't sure what category he fell under but he was certain that the cyborg and his companion were in a class all by themselves.

The Death-Troopers stepped up to the bar and ordered some drinks while people began to clear out. All of them wore full body armour of a military style and carried sinister looking rifles, the kind that would have been used during the wars that preceded and followed the apocalypse. One of them noticeably looked over at the three peacekeepers who remained sitting in the far corner and nodded to them. He glanced to the back of the tavern where the two soldiers were sitting then proceeded to drink his glass of vodka.

Plymuth looked over at Rarmon and Jack, then glanced at the back door which was about ten paces away from them as if to say, 'take it' but he already figured they weren't about to back down. He could feel the tension building, but nothing had happened yet. The death-troopers just hung out at the bar and the peacekeepers continued to socialize in their corner. It seemed to Plymuth as if they were waiting for something, but what? As he thought about the answer he continued to drink his beer and only one thing became obvious to him and that was that he was no soldier. He wasn't about to get in the middle of a fire fight with only a three shot spear gun and so he figured that once the shooting started he'd duck out the back, that was if anything did in fact transpire. So far, nothing seemed to be happening.
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:22 pm


Jack leant fully back removing his knife from his boot removing a nut to shell it with the blade then picking it up on the tip, Rarmon watched in silence as Jack did this four times over before Jack stopped and looked to Rarmon. “I’m guessing you have no chance of doing this?” Rarmon shook his head picking another three from the bowl it was almost down to the bottom the two eating in turns. Rarmon observed Plymuth pay with the small bronze and silver coins he turned to Jack. “Quarters and pennies mate.” Jack slipped his hand into the sniper coat finding the small pouch it was rather full after ransacking the armoury he pulled out the desired amount by the board.

The two were placing the coins on the table when they heard the scraping of chairs and large amounts of movement as people began to leave. Jack gave a sigh wondering what was happening turning to find more peacekeepers…wait no these were proper soldiers… “Seems like the one we killed in the armoury may have had friends.” Whispering the words both recalled the man who had actually fired at them before dieing with a knife in his throat one of four who actually noticed the movement in the dark.

“Maybe we should finish off and leave now before we make a mess.” Jack worried that his always trigger happy friend would see the opportunity to sharpen his skills on these people. They both sat Rarmon slowly reached into his coat seeming to scratch his belly any excuse to put his hand on his revolver clicking back the hammer as he put his glass down covering the sound.

Rarmon got up walking slowly with his empty glass walking to the bar his other hand still inside his coat he gave a yawn smacking his lips pretending to enjoy the drink he had just had. Rarmon squeezed in next to one of the troopers. “Can I have a pint instead of this please?” The barman looked over to Jack who had returned to his glass of water he slowly cracked another nut open with the knife. Picking it up he left his drink slinging the tube to his shoulder he moved to pick up the bag with a strain of muscles he lifted the bag moving it two tables down before having to take a break looking to his side he saw Plymuth. “Sorry about stopping here heavy stuff.” Jack almost giving a friendly smile but Plymuth noticed the reason why Jack had moved the smile false was probably because he couldn’t see the far peacekeepers at their corner table this place was the nearest vantage point.

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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:02 pm


Plymuth was none too impressed about having his meal interrupted and it showed in his face when Jack offered his apology. He remained silent and tossed back the rest of his pint, then his eyes flashed to the back door of the establishment prompting the sniper to follow them. What he saw then were shadows moving under the door and Jack now knew why the troopers were stalling at the bar. They were being ambushed.

"So much for a nice quiet meal." Mentioned Plymuth without looking at Jack as he slipped his satchel and weaponry over his shoulder. He remained sitting, however, decidedly not making any sudden movements that might kick off a domino effect.

"I don't know what'ya did son, but you've pissed off somebody, and pissed them off good." Said Plymuth, then he looked around at the patrons that had stayed, "Too bad about these people, they'll probably get caught in the cross fire. What is it you people call it? Ah, yeah... 'collateral damage'."


At the bar...

The five Death Troopers looked at one another curiously as Rarmon approached then went on with their drinking. The one closest to him, however, remained leery. As the cyborg entered striking distance the soldier became very wary and placed his hand on his side arm.

The bar tender, grabbed a pump and filled up a pint glass for the cyborg. "On the house." he said nervously as he slid the glass across the bar toward him and backed up.

"Sure ya'd rather not 'ave a pint o' oil instead there chap?" Commented a trooper in the middle of the pack, "But then again you're parts use a different sort 'a lubricant don't they? Funny thing, we found some of it back at our barracks. Don't ya think that's funny lads?"

The other soldiers laughed sinisterly.

"Well looky there!" Exclaimed the spokesman of the group, "I think you've sprung a leak, m'boy. I think maybe ya need an overhaul," the soldier stepped away from the bar then, his expression and tone growing more serious, "or maybe ya just need to be scrapped!"

The soldier's suddenly didn't seem so relaxed anymore and the the one who was speaking, that appeared to be their leader spoke Rarmon's charge, "For the suspected murders of law enforcers I am placing you and your associate under arrest! Surrender or we will KILL you!"

The sounds of shuffling foot steps seemed to echo all around the tavern. The front doors and the back door of the establishment began to rattle and the bar tender and those patrons who realized what was about to happen hit the deck. Only a few addled drunks remained in their seats as Plymuth sprang out of his chair and started to run for the kitchen doors.
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:04 pm


Gavin awoke alone in a smaller room shoved into a corner. For a split second, it felt like home, the warmth and comfort of other bodies pressed against him giving him barely enough room to move. He then blinked his eyes open and squinted into the daylight. With a sigh of mingled relief and disappointment, he realized that he had merely been carried by his own instincts. It wasn't terribly uncommon for the rat-human hybrid to wake up in some wide space and in his drowsy twilight between consciousness and sleep, wander off in search of a smaller, safer space. Sleeping in a cage with his cage-mates piled around him for his entire life, nevermind his natural dislike of wide-open spaces, made sleeping in large rooms for any length of time close to impossible.

Rubbing his eyes and placing his sunglasses back onto his face, Gavin stood up and stretched his tensed muscles before wandering out into the broken-down building to find the others. After blinking and pulling himself quickly into full consciousness, he found his way back to the room from which he had likely wandered and peered inside. Mostly he'd hoped to find the Human with the bike-- the catlike girl still made him uncomfortable-- but all he saw was an empty room. Furrowing his brow he took a step into the room, feeling only the presence of some fuzzy little visitors that skittered unseen somewhere within the walls.

"Hello?" he called, looking around the empty room. Nothing. His heart sank a little. He was used to being alone, but in spite of it, he had come to believe that he had actually been accepted into a new pack. Shrugging and sighing, he moved off out of the hotel, immediately falling into his usual strides. He kept his sensitive nose on the immediate search for food and his sharp ears pricked for any signs of movement or life. He managed to dig up a few edible morsels and a small pouch that would serve as a makeshift canteen from within the remains of the building before he stepped out into the harsh light. The heat immediately stung his skin and he found himself very much missing his lost trench coat. Blinking, he squinted hard and instinctively turned his head towards the shadows. Out here in the middle of nowhere in the glaring sun, Gavin was almost blind. Cupping his hands around his eyes, he managed to pick a direction and began trudging through the dry landscape, looking for any solid-looking shapes that may provide shade.

The heat was brutal and his own rationing of water was doing little to satiate it. Sweat formed over his entire face and dripped into his eyes and mouth, filling it with a lingering taste of salt that only made him thirstier. The physical durability provided by his genes did little to comfort him and it didn't take him long to finish every drop of water in the tiny little pouch he'd found in the building. Coughing in the dry air, the thought briefly drifted into his mind wondering if he would finally meet his end. Licking with disdain at the pouch, Gavin moved over toward a large, gray object he figured was a rock and placed a hand on it before slowly sitting in its meager shade. The hot, sun-baked material felt rough and weather-beaten but man-made. Turning, he squinted up at it and saw that it was a hunk of concrete-- the sad survivor of some structure long-since destroyed with the rest of the dead world.

Leaning against the hot concrete, Gavin tried to make himself comfortable, figuring if he was going to waste away he might as well be sitting comfortably. It was then that he felt a faint vibration drifting up from the ground. It was strongest at his legs and feet and faded up along his back, barely detectable at his head. Gavin lifted his head and squinted into the washed-out landscape. Something was moving and it was coming from the direction from which he had himself come. Pulling off a fingerless glove, Gavin placed his palm on the warm ground and moved it up along to where his head was, pausing as he went. The vibration was growing stronger, even in the places where it had been faintest against his body. It was moving. Something . . . most likely a vehicle . . . was coming this way. The Rat Hybrid looked around at the wide expanse around him and pressed himself against the concrete chunk, trying to decide what to do. He looked completely Human so he at least had that going for him, but that didn't necessarily guarantee that any company would be friendly.

The sun was beginning to fade and it would only get easier for him to see. He decided to wait it out, perching himself in the meager shade and wishing the sweat that covered him would begin to cool him. His senses alert, he forgot his exhaustion and "watched" the vehicles get closer with his hands against the ground, the faint vibrations getting slowly but steadily stronger in his fingertips, he wondered where any vehicles could possibly be going to, let alone coming from, in this wasteland. Then he saw them, two enormous cars rolled past in a cloud of dust that moved along the arid land. Gavin got to his feet, squinting at them as they went past, almost not believing he was actually seeing them. Could there really be civilization out here?

Forcing his tired muscles to move, he followed along behind them, watching the dust cloud as it drifted along in the distance, the scent of precious fuel riding on their wake.
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:08 pm


After Tom smoothed things over with the welcoming guards at the entrance of Stonehaven, he and Kitty were escorted to a “holding room” that Kitty told Tom it was nothing more than a cell without bars. Tom agreed but there wasn’t much either of them could do about it right now. At least they were in a secure place and not in the wide open where the bat like creatures could easily pick them off and feast on their warm bodies.

The guard told Kitty and Tom they would have to make themselves comfortable until they could be escorted into the general population of Stonehaven with a peace keeper who could give them the rules of the settlement. While it wasn’t the greatest thing Kitty and Tom had ever heard, it was far better than the alternative, which was becoming a meal for those hateful creatures.

For a few hours Kitty paced the floor while Tom listened to everything the guards talked about. It was quite obvious the feline hybrid didn’t like being cooped up no matter how nice the accommodations were supposed to be. Finally Tom was able to convince her to stop her pacing for fear she would give away her true nature and then what would they do.

Knowing Tom’s safety was at stake and not just her own, Kitty relented and sat down on one of the rickety cots in the room. Of course it seemed like it was just a few minutes but in reality it had been quite a few hours when she awoke to a noise in the distance, one human ears would have difficulty hearing. Her eyes flickered open and she sat up tilting her head listening closely.

Glancing over at Tom, Kitty saw the wolf hybrid was already crouched and laying his hands flat on the floor. Glancing towards the door then back at Tom, Kitty saw her friend give her the sign for ‘quiet’. Glancing towards the door of the room once more then back to Tom, Kitty nodded her head slightly then slithered off the cot making very little noise.

When she walked to the door and looked out she saw the guards were back at their stations and the sun was already high in the sky. When Kitty went to turn around she found Tom standing behind her looking over her head at the situation just beyond the entrance of the room. While the door was wide open both of the hybrids had the feeling they weren’t as free to roam as it appeared.

Slithering back into the room, Kitty signed to Tom between glances out the door.

i heard noise. sounded like robot man.

Tom nodded in response and leaned closer to tell Kitty he heard the same thing.

”Yeah. Me too. And knowing him….he’s not being very dip…”

What ever Tom was about to finish saying was cut short when a group of well armed, well armored men walked into the area, spoke to the guards then walked back out the way they had come from. Stopping and glancing in at Tom and Kitty when the one guard stated they couldn’t leave because of the guests in the room, the man who appeared to be the leader of the well armed men shrugged his chin towards Kitty and Tom.

”What? These two? Look at ‘em…their too puny to cause us any trouble. Let ‘em into the place. If they try to cause trouble, we’ll be sure to escort them back but not before we take a little detour first. Besides….we need your help at the ‘Dozer.”

The man was smiling but there was nothing friendly about his smile and Kitty instantly wanted to put some fresh scars on his face with her claws. Thankfully they moved off then and all but two of the guards hurried to follow the armed men. Tom and Kitty exchanged glances and decided to see what was going on.

After leaving the “holding room” they had been given when they arrived, they decided to follow the armed men at a discreet distance and see what was happening. Somehow, Tom and Kitty both had a feeling it was going to do have something to do with the robot man simply from the fact they had picked up on a noise that sounded a lot like him.

When they got closer, they saw the well armed men enter a place called “The BullDozer Tavern” and Kitty knew then what the ‘Dozer was the men had referred to. Just before they entered, they made some final plans with the guards that had been recruited from the gates. As the armed men walked in, the guards and some other armed men began to circle the tavern.

Soon after the armed men walked into the tavern several patrons came scurrying out reminding Kitty of what rats look like when their living quarters are invaded. Tom and Kitty moved a little closer then and when the guards weren’t looking, they decided to slip inside to get a better look.

What they saw when they got inside, after their eyes adjusted to the dimmer lighting, caused the hair on the back of both of their necks to rise in warning. Quickly pressing their backs against the wall, they watched closely. The first thing the hybrids noticed were the way the armed men surrounded two men at the bar and when Kitty looked at the men, she let out a soft, audible gasp. She didn’t need to look at Tom to see he was looking in the same direction and had recognized Rarmon. But Kitty noticed someone else as well.

A patron sat at a table with his back to the armed men who were now talking to Rarmon and the man with him. When the man glanced over his shoulder to see what was happening behind him, Kitty saw enough of his face to know it was the strange man they had encountered in the wash room of the hotel. But….why wasn’t he hunkered under his table like most of the other patrons who weren’t in a drunken stupor? That’s when the feline hybrid noticed the band he was wearing on his arm and saw it matched ones the men in the corner watching the situation and carrying weapons stood.

When the leader of the armed men made his move to arrest Rarmon and the man with him, Kitty and Tom knew it was all going to end bad. And not just for Rarmon and his buddy. Did these people know what Rarmon was and what he was capable of doing? To them?

Her eyes darted all around as Kitty tried to determine what Rarmon’s next move was going to be. No doubt it would be one no one would forget but just how severe would all depend on what sort of mood he was in and how well his body was functioning.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:09 am

Sniper point...

Jack followed the eyes seeing the feet he looked across to Rarmon something wasn’t good they were ambushing them it was obvious they were the suspects. Jack gave Plymuth a healthy nod he opened the top of the tube case pushing his coat to the side he was reaching inside. “We love a little collateral damage it is the army motto after all.”

At the bar...

Rarmon watched the death trooper put his hand on the firearm. “Dangerous stuff firearms.” Rarmon took the glass from the barman giving a wink to him. Rarmon opened his coat enough only for the barman to see the revolver concealed in his coat the barman moved away pretending to serve a different patron. The soldiers made some rather rude comments on his drinking habit saying he should drink oil he shrugged it off after all he didn’t have anything to give him emotions but he took offense to the leak he was an old piece of machinery his lubrication was externally modified sure didn’t give them the right to take the piss. He was slapped with his charge as he heard footsteps echo all around Rarmon smiled as he took his last swig of his pint he had not even seen Kitty or Tom enter but that was when the action all began.

The whole tavern...

Jack let the tube drop to the floor his sniper in his hands keeping it at his hip he heard Plymuth begin to run for the kitchen he let his first shot out the kickback causing the gun to lurch but it was still under control. The bullet flew as he had aimed at this range little could the elements do to move the bullet from its aim smashing into the man furthest from Rarmon at the back of the group flipping him like a ragdoll over the bar. Rarmon’s signal the sharp crack and crunch as the sniper bullet was fired and hit its target he stepped forward smashing the pint glass across the first man’s face the man holding his eyes as the alcohol burned his eyes. Rarmon kept the handle in his grasp as he yanked the revolver from his belt with the other hand the barrel practically in the mouth of the 2nd trooper as he yanked the trigger the drum moving round, the hammer slamming forward. A large portion mainly from the mouth upwards blew onto the ceiling the stupidly high calibre revolver bullet tearing the man’s head off a spray of brains and other pieces even the troopers were slightly repulsed hesitating to bring their weapons to bear giving Rarmon the chance to aim for the next. He pulled the trigger carefully this time the bullet rocketing into the centre of mass causing a torrent of blood to explode from the man’s back as he collapsed in on himself a spray of bullets finally erupted from one of their guns before the spray could trail upwards for Rarmon another sniper round tore open the man’s shoulder the gun falling to the floor as his fingers went limp and he fell back onto the floor screaming. The man still held his burning eyes as the handle of the pint glass pierced his throat by Rarmon who gave a yell to Jack to get cover and fire. Rarmon jogged to the bag as bullets whistled past his head the troopers shooting through the windows in rage at the actions of the duo Rarmon seeing Kitty and Tom “Welcome to the party!!!” Jack took his orders and slowly moved back skilfully moving from cover to cover shooting now and then at windows.

Rarmon reached for the bag slipping the rifle off the side a bullet pinged off his calf a small arms round, He lifted the rifle cocking it with a ram of his open palm. “We could fight our way out!” Firing one handed as he lifted the bag onto his shoulder his bullets not even aimed as they blew apart wall, glass and man alike. Rarmon began walking backwards to the kitchen where Jack had decided to wait reloading the rifle with individual rounds into the magazine. Rarmon stood waiting for Kitty and Tom to move as tracer rounds burned great rending lines across the tavern. “You gonna stay in here you know it’s quite dangerous?” the obvious enjoyment on the robots face if he could have such emotions.

____________________________________________________________________________________
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:00 am

The transports had disappeared over a dune. As Gavin trudged behind the vehicles his sensitive hearing detected a change in the pitch of one of the engines. He recognized that it happened when the transports either significantly increased or decreased in speed and he was sure that one of them had slowed down. He could then hear that sound of one of the dune-buggies fast approaching. There was no place to hide, no place to run, not unless he could bury himself in the sand like a beetle with five seconds.


The transport came flying over the dune and stopped right in front of Gavin. A spray of sand whipped into the air all around them and when it cleared a man was stepping out of the driver's side. He was dressed in a military fashion and had weapons, yet he had not drawn them. Instead he took a few steps away from the vehicle and squinting in the bright light studied Gavin for a moment. As he looked him over, he unclipped a canister from his belt and took a drink from it. Gavin was so thirsty he could practically taste the water and the man knew it. He took a deliberately long drink, wiped his mouth and recapped the canister, then he smiled and tossed it to Gavin.

"You look like you can use a cold drink."


While Gavin satiated his thirst the man introduced himself. "I'm Ranger Midvale, but you can call me Salem. I patrol this area and keep the peace. Why don't you hop in the passenger side, I'll give you a lift to Stonehaven."

The man was relaxed and calm. For all he knew Gavin could be a murderous thief, but he seemed to make up his mind pretty quickly that he could trust him. That or he was a good fighter and extremely confident that he could draw his weapon before the man could attack him. Whatever the reason, Salem Midvale was offering a ride to a settlement of some kind. Civilization! How often would Gavin catch a break like that?

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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:34 pm


Once he'd greedily downed the water, Gavin gaped up at the man. Clearly the man thought Gavin was fully human and he wasn't about to correct him. Still, it seemed a little too good to be true. Rubbing his fingertips against the palms of his fingerless gloves, Gavin considered this for a moment before peering around at the massive truck.

"Stonehaven?" he asked, "there's . . . there's an actual town out here?" Now a small smile crossed his scruffy face as he turned back to the man. The decision was relatively easy for Gavin. If he continued to plow on in the desert for much longer, he was going to die anyway so what difference did it make if this man wanted to kill him? He knew what he looked like. There was little about Gavin's appearance that betrayed his construction as a fighter. He was fairly certain the man so no threat in the lean man in beat up clothing and Gavin had no intentions of correcting him. All things considered, he couldn't quite believe his luck. "Today's my lucky day," said Gavin, "thank you very much." And with that, the rat-human hybrid climbed into the truck.

Getting in, Gavin immediately and covertly assessed thing, surreptitiously taking in the sounds and smells of the truck and looking around through his sunglasses. He tried to quietly take note of where every weapon was should things go south while conversationally assessing the man who had picked him up. He was also aware of at least one little rat that had apparently hopped along for a ride somewhere within the trucks crowded spaces.

"I didn't think there was much left in the world," said Gavin, his voice still a little hoarse with fatigue and the beginnings of heat exhaustion. "where is this Stonehaven and how did it come to be?"
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PostSubject: Re: ALTERED STATES - EPISODE 2   Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:58 pm


In its day the desert cruiser that the ranger drove must have been quite the vehicle but since then it had been repaired and modified into a conglomeration of mismatched parts. Even the interior was a patchwork quilt of salvaged scraps. A red coloured glove box, different styled seats even the dashboard was foreign to the original design.

"Yeah, she's a Frankenstein's monster but she'll weather just about any terrain." Commented Salem as he lovingly patted the dashboard.

His metaphor might have been lost to the stranger but Salem figured the man would get his meaning. Not everyone read as much as he did so he was used to the ignorance, still this one had an intelligent look about him. Two in one week, he considered, thinking about the British man that had survived the gauntlet. Now another wayfarer braving the hot desert sands. A coincidence? Perhaps, but he was much one for them.

Salem stepped on the accelerator and the electric engine whirred and climbed the dune with surprising power, jerking their heads back into the seats. Reaching down to the console between them, the ranger pressed a button and a voice resonated through a speaker, "HQ. What's your location, Salem?"

The ranger looked around and spotted a strange rock to his left that looked a lot like a dog. "Just passing 'wolf's rock'," Salem replied, "and I am bringing in a stray."

"Another one?"

"Yeah. Don't worry I don't think he's got any fleas." Mentioned Salem as he looked over to Gavin and amiably smiled.

"Okay, Salem. Over and out."

Salem pressed the button on the console again, ending the communication. He leaned back in his seat and staring out to the horizon pointed to a ridge of red coloured mountains. "That's where we're headed." he told the stranger, "Behind that ridge is Stonehaven. It was a mining refinery. You know what that is? A large plant used to process minerals, in this case ore. Thirteen years ago it was a refuge for a small band of Humans, a sanctuary from the Ballek's, vicious flying aberrations that come out at night. They're all over this area, and if they catch you in the dark you can kiss your ass good bye."

Salem paused and reached his hand into the back seat and and slipped it into an ice filled cooler. From it he procured two dark brown, long necked bottles. He placed one between his legs, and popped the metal stopper on the other. There was a hiss, and a white stream of cool rose into the conditioned air of the vehicles cab.

"When's the last time you had a cold beer?" Asked Salem with a devious smile as he passed the opened bottle to Gavin.

Salem cracked his bottle and took a long pull, savoring the delightful cool brew. "We wash out the bottles and re-use them." he explained. "So, as I was saying, these Ballek's are like flying coyote's, but they're not that smart. We make sure we keep the lights on at night and they stay away, but there's always some fool once in a while who wanders out into the night. Oh, no offense, I didn't mean you. These people know damn well the Ballek's are out there but they go out anyway, and that's where we come in. Five years ago, the Ranger unit was created to help the Peace Keepers safe guard, Stonehaven and over time we have grown in numbers. It's only natural that we deserver a piece of the pie for all our work and those bastards don't want to share the power, so we've reached an impasse. Recently, they've hired mercenary soldiers to help them police the city and enforce their laws, they call them Death Troopers and so we're always on the look out for new talent to help even the odds."

Salem took another drink and wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve. "So there's the catch, eh, kid? Ah, don't sweat it, we're not gonna force ya to join if you don't want to. I just want you to know our point of view before you hear the other side and you will. What I will do though is extend our hospitality and make you an honourary ranger. All you have to do is wear this arm band and people will know you're with us."

Salem reached down into a compartment by his feet and pulled out a green arm band with an insignia on it and '5026-T', written below it. He also pulled out a leather purse full of coins and tossed them into the man's lap. "Those are credits, y'know, money." he told him, "There's enough there to keep ya good for a month if ya use 'em sparingly enough. There yours if ya wear our colour, but like I said, I'm not gonna pressure you."

They drove on through the desert. It was the height of day but inside the vehicle the temperature was quite comfortable. By now, Gavin probably would have been dead if he would stayed on foot, but instead he was in cool transport on his way to civilization.

"You'll find that Stonehaven is a progressive place." Salem started again, "Humanoids are allowed. The more they look like a Human, the more they're accepted, but Animal Mutants are strictly forbidden, nothing that is more animal than man gets in. It was a policy created ten years ago to stop the witch hunts. Some bastard would get his knickers in a knot over something and start spreading mutant rumours about their enemy, so it was decided that all Humanoids would be welcome. Still, it's not perfect. Segregation still exists, and the upper crust Pure Strain Humans still look down their noses at us, but that'll soon change, hell most of them can't even tell whose Human and who ain't anymore."

In the distance, reaching up over a ridge of rock, Gavin could see the silver spires of what could only be Stonehaven. As they neared it, Salem turned slightly and drove parallel a double line of train tracks that appeared to be maintained.

"The tracks run all the way to Stonehaven. Back there," Salem thumbed behind them, "are several warehouses brimming with cars of coal, a fuel that most of Stonehaven runs on but those bloody Ballek's nest there so occasionally we have to risk our lives by driving into the darkness to snatch a car or two. We call it running the gauntlet. Several years ago, we tried blowing the roof off of one of the warehouses and let the light in, but you see those creatures also eat the coal and from it they produce some sort bi-product they use to make their nests. It's highly flammable and all over the place. We were lucky, just one partially empty warehouse went up. The whole place could have exploded, and it burns so hot that the coal would be ruined."

Salem slowed down in front of a large steel door in the mountainside. "This is our private entrance." he said as he initiated the communicator and requested of the person he was speaking to, to open the East gate. The giant door slowly pulled apart, revealing a dark tunnel which Salem drove into. There were a few curves, but the tunnel was fairly straight and eventually, Gavin could see day light again. They emerged from the passage into a narrow street, that wound its way through a corridor of machinery that had been converted into dwellings. He drove for a few more minutes until they were past the crowds and stopped in at quiet cross road shaded by the massive and ancient machines above them.

"So this is the end of the road." Said Salem, "Its probably best you see Stonehaven for yourself, my offer still stands though. The armband for the money. It's a good deal but I won't be offended if you want to go your own way. It was a pleasure meeting you..." Salem held out his hand and realized that he had never got the stranger's name, "... never did catch your name."
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