It had been a full week since Chyram had disappeared. He had put out the call to RA and they had scoured the area where she last reported in. It seemed more like luck than anything else when her SUV was located and inside the bodies of the two Sharks shot dead. There was no blood trail and no scent trail to follow. RA reported back to Terry Fox that they had located what appeared to be a survivor’s nest in one of the buildings nearby but that it too appeared to be abandon at least a week. She was gone. First there was denial, then anger and by now Malkoris was in numb disbelief. Rallied around allies searched and KSAT TV even featured a piece on finding the missing woman, one in a billion to have disappeared off the face of the planet. Some were starting to believe that she was dead, and others hoped she had a swift ending rather than what torment she might be facing in the hands of her enemies but Malkoris was not yet ready to give up.
He left behind Searlait and Beebles with Tough Hands, a newer member of Terry Fox. Since the public call for help more hand gathered into the safe house and helped to build it into a Stronghold. Beebles kept saying that it would be a good place for Chyram to come home to as if that was a foregone conclusion. Searlait had stopped talking and retreated more and more into parts of the building that were hard to follow where walls had collapsed or doors were stuck. And as for Malkoris, well Chyram was not home, she was out there somewhere waiting to be found. He packed his gear and followed the route laid out by Alcatraz’s resources to perhaps the one group who could help return their leader to them.
More than a week travel, not being used to going far from his territory Malkoris finally reached Cacapon State Park. There was a relief at leaving the broken cities and dodging the dead to move among the trees again despite his last encounter with those who forsook broken civilization for the wilds of nature. “Anything but a moose,” he muttered under his breath following a narrow hiking trail. This trail was well maintained and clear enough that no zees should be able to grab from the bushes and bite down before he saw them. The clear and clean cut path was in some ways adding to his anxiousness. This was not a trail that was allowed to go back to nature and if that’s the case then human care takers couldn’t be too far behind.
Up ahead he could see the path was turning from dirt to a wooden walk way. It would lead him over a stream and into what looked like a clearing. The air had been clean not just from the smells missing that used to permeate the cities but also the sickly sweet smells of decay and death that had become so common you never took note of them anymore. Malkoris could hear a heavy thump of his boots on the wooden path, echoing in the forest. The sounds of birds and insects accompanied him until a familiar click caused his footsteps to freeze. Someone had just slipped the safety on a gun and it had come from behind him. Hands up, he slowly turned about, heart thumping in his chest with fear and regret. What a wasteful way to die, alone in the woods to a bandit and so far from the dangers of both zees and the Cult. A young fresh faced man stood there holding a gun trained on him. He was dressed like a park ranger, something rather startling. While Malkoris had been told that the State Lodge had been gathering up civilians to play the role of ranger, the would-be rescuer had not actually thought they’d dress the role in a clean cut uniform complete with tie.
“Good morning sir, pardon the need for caution. You understand these are dangerous times?” The young man had a hint of a twang in his tone and there was stiffness not just to his voice but his stance. He was repeating lines he had been instructed to say like any new recruit. “Might I ask what brings you here to our fair park? Is there some location I can direct you towards?”
Malkoris licked his lips, feeling parched, “I’m looking for whoever is in charge of the rangers here in the park to make an appeal. I need help. I’ve heard you’re the best at what you do.”
“Well now that might be sir, just what is it that we are supposed to be so good at?” Again the tone was polite but now he could see that he had gotten the curiosity of the young man.
“Tracking, I need an expert tracker.”
Another thirty minutes before getting to the ranger’s jeep brought Malkoris up to speed upon much of the operation. It seemed that Haos and his patrol partner Xenix were more than happy to talk of all the things that the park had accomplished under the leadership of a man they called Agent D. Malkoris asked with the “D” stood for but he was told that it was none of his business. The drive did not take long before they pulled up to a lodge which once had well manicured lawns. The cost of those lawns had been gasoline for the lawn motors and now a day’s gasoline was far too precious to use on something like cutting grass so that nonexistent tourists saw perfect fields.
Escorted up to the main building Malkoris was brought in before the office of Agent D who was currently leaning both hands on a table overlooking a map of the park. To one side was a large dark skinned man who gave Malkoris a once over and seemed to dismiss him as a threat. Agent D brought up a hand and gently rubbed at his eyes before looking upwards, “Xenix radioed ahead and said that you are looking for a tracker? We might be able to help you out, depending on what you’re looking for. We don’t have time for treasure hunts or revenge killings at this point.”
“No sir, one of my key members of my safe house,” Malkoris felt it best to play down the role of Terry Fox having become a stronghold, “has been kidnapped by a gang of men. I’m looking for assistance on following their trail. Rumor has it you have the best trackers.”
“Could be so, how old would this trail be, how long has she been missing?”
“Over a week now I’m afraid. We know where she was taken from, but those who searched couldn’t find a trail out.”
The man in the corner spoke at this point, “you want trackers to pick up a trail over a week cold after a bunch of amateurs stomped all over the place around it? It’ll never happen.”
Perhaps it was something in Malkoris expression that caught Agent D’s pity for he responded in a reasonable tone, “look it’s not that we don’t want to help, but you have to think about it. By now the trail is so cold there is little chance of finding it. On top of that, after a week,” his voice died off before continuing, “I’m sorry mister but there is a very good chance your friend is no longer alive. Raiders don’t keep captives very long.”
“She’s alive. They will keep her alive because they will want to make a point of her.” Malkoris tone hardened with a edge of desperation. He had to believe this to be true because if Chyram was gone then all they had struggled and all the isolation had been pointless. “Have you heard the name Chyram?”
The darker man nodded, “yeah her name and picture’s been on the TV station, the free one. People looking for her in connection to someone called Charles Waggie or something.”
“Wagner, Charles Wagner. That’s who took her. I’m sure that’s who took her and he won’t have killed her yet. Or if he killed her it’s to turn her into one of them and I have to find her and put her to rest.”
Agent D’s hand raised, “alright, have a seat, Clapp get the man water, start at the beginning here. What’s this about? We’ve heard some trickled rumors about a Cult?”
“Here’s the brief story. Charles started a Cult. This Cult purposely infects people. Chyram’s been fighting against his efforts for a while and I think he finally decided she was too much trouble. She was taken and I have to get her back.” The water glass was placed before him but Malkoris ignored it.
“Cultists, as if we don’t have enough troubles Agent D? Our east side has fences that came down in the last wind storm. We have to shore that up. Not to mention that if this Cult is using zees then they are more likely to be in the city. We’ve been training the recruits to deal with forest recon and advancement.” Clapp’s expression was cynical and Malkoris could feel himself losing hope. All this time and effort to reach here and for what, nothing?
It was more babbling that logic that caused him to speak, “it’s been nearly a year now. Lot of the city is starting to break down and become wilderness. Just small parts where water mains flooded or things have fallen, but there were fires and other things, lots of ruins. That training that you have gone through will help. It’s just a different kind of wilderness.”
Agent D’s lips pursed a bit, “we are the best trackers this side of the country.”
Clapp’s expression turned to a grimace, “it’s not really our problem Agent D.”
“No, but if this Cult remains unchecked it’ll be everyone’s problem.” Agent D’s head raised to study the man in front of him looking so pitiful. Only love would cause someone to go to these lengths. Love is a stupid reason to risk his own people. Same time love brought this man all the way from nowhereville to his park and his sanctuary on the slim chance that they can help.
“Clapp arrange for two trackers to leave with the man and see that they have supplies and the radio contacts to stay in touch. I want progress reports on this search.”
- Safe House: Cacapon State Park Lodge
- CVC Level: 6
- Current Recorded Members: 34
- Overall Opinion:I have good news and I have bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way. This posting is over a week overdue. Cutting through a lot of the reasons, in short I got very ill last week. That I don’t need to apologize for to CSP. What I do need to apologize for is the fact that somewhere in the week I lost my digital copy of all the awesome interviews I did with them two weeks ago. That means I had to wing some things when I wrote tonight and I know you guys fed me a lot of details that simply didn’t make it into the story. I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry there’s no excuse for having lost those. I hope you’ll forgive me for that and for any of your members who I missed that gave me permission. The good news is I remember the spirit of many of those interviews. I would recommend this safe house to everyone interested in treating other people fairly and in having fun. They have members active in Global and in safe house chat. Often members help others outside their own safe house with questions in Global. On top of that was the overwhelming enthusiasm they have for their safe house. Some I have interviewed or attempted to set up interviews in the past and treated the idea of their safe house as something of convenience rather than a gathering of friends. These guys had nothing but great things to say not about themselves but each other. It didn’t matter which one I talked to, they all had to tell me how great their other members were. There’s a true fellowship of warmth found in this house that is something to be envied. I always like seeing them in Global and chatting with them when I get the chance. If you’re looking for that sort of open friendly safe house, this is a great possible fit for you.
- Communications: Palringo Room (Contact within CVC or Forums for exact locations), Safe House Chat, CVC Global Chat for Safe House invites (1/2 fees when invited), Please Stay Calm Forums