Archive for the ‘Alternative Safe Houses’ Category

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

We made it nearly halfway back to Bluetone when the call came in on my headset, “We have a problem. Ladder got bent when it fell. It’s not supporting anyone’s weight. Hold back, we have to find another way to let you in.” I hit the glass of the window to stop the truck and waited for my driver to slide open the window to talk to me.

“We can’t approach yet, call came in from Jammer. They can’t get the distraction working, hold on.” Nervously we both sat in the truck, me in the bed and the Shark in the driver seat. I was more nervous about the Cult activity that had recently been through then any zees that could be about. In fact I was so nervous that I nearly shot the leader of a group of people when the party came out from between two buildings. My shotgun jerked upwards and my finger tightened on the trigger before realizing that I was looking at the living. One of the group members, a woman with hair in a pixie cut tipped in hot pink, saw me about the same time as I saw them and pushed the man in the gear of an armored soldier down and out of the way. The shotgun blast hit the wall over and behind him scattering chips from the brick upon the rest of them. There were some startled yells and shouts before a few guns raised in response. Fortunately they had more self control than I and seeing me surrender my gun, hands in the air, did not shoot me. “I’m sorry, I thought you were well,” I hesitated, “someone else. Did anyone get hit?” My wide eyed, white faced look of panic seemed to relax the soldiers somewhat and assured them I hadn’t meant to harm them.

The woman who had responded helped up the man on the ground and snapped out, “anyone bleeding?” The group looked themselves over but it seemed that their gear had taken the brunt of chipping from the wall. Her eyes turned upon me in anger, as she snapped out, “what were you thinking?”

“Pinkertonb5, easy,” The man’s tone was smooth, and controlled as if he was attempting to defuse the situation.  “We’re all jumpy, seeing how there is far too few living among the dead, right friend?” When he turned his gaze upon me I tensed up again. Despite his easy going tone I could feel myself being evaluated, though I was not quite sure what for. I swept my look over the people in the group and realized I was facing people in government issued military gear. I don’t know how I broadcast my fear, but he seemed to sense it. I blinked and he had a gun in his hand pointed at me, “easy now, we don’t want to make any other sudden mistakes, just take a deep breath. Nobody here wants to hurt you.”

There was the unmistakable sound of a gun cocking and the eyes of several members turned to the cab of the truck. Their guns turned to swivel for my guardian Shark within. I hadn’t realized that I hadn’t lowered my hands yet until that point when I realized they were growing tired, “alright, alright! Hold it. You say you aren’t here to hurt anyone. Fine, then what do you want?”

His eyes hadn’t left me despite the threat of the Shark, “We’re passing through looking for a radio station that’s supposed to be broadcasting in this direction. Do you know the location?”

My own expression tighten somewhat, “Not sure I can help you friend. Who sent you?”

Nodding his head slightly, he answered, “We seemed to have gotten off on the wrong foot here. I’m Night Angel. This is my team. We’re just looking for information.”

“You mean you’re looking to see if there are any survivors of the Cult attack so you can finish them off like the last of your troop who came through?” My tone was accusatory.

Looks were exchanged among the group before a different man piped up, “Wait did she just say Cult? Night Angel what the fuck is going on here?”

I drew in a breath and asked bluntly, “You’re one of them aren’t you? The hit squads being sent out from the Green Zone to slaughter those of us who are not just survive but managing to thrive?”

Night Angel brought one hand up in a fist motion, “Lower your guns.” The group as a whole did so though I saw from the corner of my eye that my Shark companion did not return the courtesy. I can’t say I blamed him, as he was more likely than me to receive persecution from humans. “We are not a part of Paladin but clearly you have either seen or heard of them. Well armed men in black uniforms, geared beyond what most out here have? Perhaps you’ve seen even government documentation with them?”

I hesitated before nodding my head, “I’ve seen a few scraps and had a dust up with two once, but mostly they leave me alone. Most of what I know I’ve heard from others. I don’t think that the Green Zone feels I’m a serious enough threat given that I got my hands full as is with the Cult.”

The second man who spoke earlier responded, “Again she said, Cult, what the hell is she talking about?” Pinkertonb5 smacked the back of his head and I heard her grumble, “Protocol Jogman, Night Angel asking the questions.”

I passed my eyes over the group, “There’s been a fanatical Cult formed. They are creating zees among their followers. They’re being led by a man named Charles Wagner. The group recently performed an organized and planned attack on Bluetone Productions, the radio station you’re looking for. They disabled the broadcast. In fact we’re trying to get back there now with the equipment needed to put her back on the air. Jammer’s waiting for us but they’re surrounded by a force of fifty to a hundred zees easy. That’s what is left over from the attack.”

Night Angel frowned in response, “A Cult. This is new to us but we have been focused on Paladin and their intentions. Brian S, that dish is looking pretty rough, take a closer look at it, do you think it’s still serviceable?”

One of the soldiers detached from the group and came forward to climb into the bed of the truck with me. He inspected what we had collected before reporting back, “I don’t know sir. I don’t think it will. The dish is cracked and I think some of the wiring has been torn inside. Also this antenna looks like it’s been bent all to hell and back.” My face flushed in embarrassment.

Night Angel brought his hand up to run it over his short cut military styled locks. “Alright, we need into Bluetone. They might have information and they can spread our broadcast if we need it. None of that will matter if they don’t have a usable dish. I assume you’re taking this crap there because something happened to the one they had?”

“Yeah, the Cult happened. They tore it down with chains. I think that was the main focus of their assault.” My nose crinkled as I responded.

“I can see how this Cult has your concern. Keysha get on the radio and contact the base. See if Furie will authorize us shipping out a dish here for Bluetone. Thomas420 has been taking stock in the RnD labs. He’ll have the best idea of what’s surplus for us.” A soldier who looked surprisingly young to me nodded in response and turned to one side, getting on her radio. I couldn’t catch the conversation from where I stood. In the few moments that I had been talking to the group there had been a flood of names and it was becoming difficult to track who was doing what.

“Of course that doesn’t solve the problem Bluetone is in. We’ll come in and help you clear out the entrance. Should be enough of us for that if there is some decent cover?” Night Angel’s question was directed at me.

“I think so, if we approach from the south and take to the roofs. Also we can let them know we’re coming ahead of time. They have speakers and can draw the attention to the front.” This plan wasn’t nearly insane enough for my liking. Much like I would expect from a group of soldiers dealing with a civilian, they had come in and taken over.

“Alright, let’s get you folks back home and then I’d like to hear more about this Cult. Brian S break out the stealth field generators. We need two for these people.”

“I’m actually not from Bluetone. I’m from Terry Fox, and my companion is Sharks Tattoos. We were coming to check on Bluetone after contact was lost. Ezekiel from KSAT-TV sent us.”

“A television station as well. Keysha pass on that information, we need to pick up that signal and monitor for any information on Paladin.”

Keysha nodded her head and went back to talking for a few moments before responding, “Furie has cleared the transfer. She’s going to have Thomas prep the equipment and crate it properly so there’s no damage in transportation.” I bit back a growl and reminded myself the focus was the benefit to Bluetone not any perceived invalidation of my efforts. It wasn’t that I was jealous so much as that I felt our risk had been for nothing. This group would have appeared and Bluetone would have been restored.

Swallowing my pride I spoke again, “You should probably know that as soon as they come back on air Bluetone will be a target again, either by the Cult or Paladin. They have repelled at least three government attacks.”

Night Angel was clearly interested in that information, “This Jammer might have decent intel for me then and we should consider stationing some assistance if they are willing to accept it to see what else we can learn. Thank you for that information. You two ready to go put down some dead?”

With the aggression levels I was dealing with I was way past ready! We led the group around to the roof on the building to the south. I contacted Jammer and tried to explain our situation only to have my headset taken by Keysha so that she could take over communications. She was able to get in thirty seconds the information that would have taken me five minutes or longer. She also coordinated our attacks from the roof. Others with better battle experience could describe the fight but when the dust settled nothing moved by the living. I spotted Jogman more than once giving the Shark a wide eyed stare, clearly not sure what to make of him, but none of the rest commented upon his appearance. I suppose in this day and age they had seen way more odd things out in the field.

We united with Bluetone outside their front doors and Jammer received the news that he had a brand new dish coming with joy. That it would be a few days delay; well that wasn’t such great news. He went back inside to lament his woes on the radio as limited as the reach happened to be. I suppose when you’re used to having an audience you cannot see hearing your words there is a need to keep talking to them. He was a DJ that had a connection or lifeline to the world outside his booth.

The FEMA members as I came to know them gave me supplies for the trip home and even helped me get the SUV to the radio station from where we left it at KSAT-TV. I knew that Night Angel was thankful for my contacts since I was able to introduce him both to Jammer and Ezekiel. That soothed my ego. I was starting to take this hero business too seriously.

Promises were made, news of the Cult would come to me and news of Paladin – well I didn’t need to borrow trouble. Maybe if I stop the one threat I can turn to focus upon another but for now government assassin squads was in someone else’s hands.  

  • Safe House:FEMA Region 6
  • CVC Level: 6
  • Current Recorded Members: 43
  • Overall Opinion:It was then with some panic that I realized over halfway through the week I hadn’t yet contacted a group to feature them. Two safe houses pulled through for me in record time. The response of the members made it very easy to figure out how to feature each and when. The only reason the one was chosen first over the other for this week was because of the nature of which they represent. This is the order they best fit into the story. This week I’m featuring FEMA Region 6 whose blog I have been following and whose members I’ve been observing in Global. I’ve seen them be active in Global Chat, and I’ve talked with a few members. I have yet to see (which isn’t to say it hasn’t happened) any of FEMA’s members act like jerks in Global Chat. Perhaps that doesn’t deserve mentioning but I have to say that not every safe house can brag about such a record, including my own. Though in my case, I’ve been the jerk in Global. When their membership found out I wanted to document them this week they made the effort to contact me and tell me all about their group. I was impressed not just with the number that contacted me but the speed which it happened. Within fifteen minutes of the announcement that I was looking for members I had more talking to me than I could speak to at once. That left an impression not just how eager they were to promote their safe house but how they were in touch with one another. In addition it showed off how active their membership is. Most of the membership is Central Time Zone (USA) but they do have some members from other parts of the world. Least half talk in chat and they have an active PAL room which I’ve had the privilege of being included in. More activity happens during the week during the day rather than the weekend or at night suggesting the membership has a healthy balance of life outside this game. If you’re in their chat room you can leave messages for people during the night and they will be in touch. Most of the time conversation in the safe house chat does not rate above PG. I have found their membership to be friendly and eager to invite new members into their ranks. I look forward to Night Angel’s interpretation of this story when he presents FEMA Region 6’s side to the events described.
  • 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, FEMA REGION 6 Blog

I drove straight from the television station to the next destination stopping only long enough to deal with basic needs. The summer was coming through spring and the heat baked my skin, welcome warmth from the winter. Zees don’t freeze; the snow and ice hampered their movements and often trapped them in locations they couldn’t shuffle out of. With the melting snow, bodies weaken by rot flooded down locations and formed barricades where unchecked swollen rivers had over reached their banks. Without mankind’s constant grooming of the world around him nature was taking back what was once wild and slowly erasing signs of our existence. She tore down buildings and spread water across fields. New sanctuaries for wild life, those beasts and birds quick enough to escape the dead or clever enough to nest or burrow out of reach. Birds were making their way on their migration and it was strangely gratifying to see the plague did not result in such species being wiped out. Their travel would take them into areas that were ill prepared to receive them but I’d leave their care in whomever you believed would care for them, be it Mother Nature, a Creator or Evolution, gods of myth, religion and science. My own faith was often tested through these times – shaken at some points and strengthen at others.

Ezekiel’s words still rang in my ears; Bluetone Productions had gone radio silent. Before KSAT TV had hit the airwaves there had been Bluetone. The lone voice out in the wastelands unregulated by the government, Bluetone’s DJ Jammer had brought comfort to many. Ezekiel reported that government forces had attempted to shut down this rogue radio station but been repelled. Despite enduring the dead, the Green Zone government and raiders Bluetone had persevered and now she was silent. He feared the worse and was sending me to scout out and help any survivors. I didn’t hold out much hope which probably made it easier for me to agree. Sure why not go see another ghost town building in a world filled with ghosts towns. At worse I’d have a horde to avoid or evade, nothing I wasn’t used to facing as I travelled from safe house to safe house. As a sister station and having been inspired by Bluetone’s boldness Ezekiel wanted to know the fate of Bluetone. Not to mention it would make a half decent story which he wanted to break the news on.

When I arrived outside of the city where the radio station had been located, my own radio having been static to that point sparked to life with a crack and then a howl. It was a full on wolf howl, startling and nearly sent me off the road as I slammed on the breaks to stop my jeep and listen. The howl ended and a voice started speaking, “That’s right kids and kittens this is Lone Wolf sending out a distress call to all you crazy little hunters out there. This is Bluetone Productions and we are under siege. Listen up kids, you hear that pop crack and smack? That’s my hero and yours, Jammer up on the roof popping zee heads like bubble wrap. We’ve been at it for five days now and the hits just keep on coming. I don’t know how far this broadcast is reaching but we are SOL if there are not some friends out there and that’s just not the way to send us out. Again this is Lone Wolf, and I’m about to get back up to the roof but in the meantime here’s a few songs to warm your heart. Now hurry your asses up folks, Lone Wolf until the next break.”

Her voice cut out and I stared down at my radio as the music chimed in, “Going Out West” by Tom Waits.  Shaking my head slightly, I found my fingers tapping the steering wheel in time to the music. Was it a pre recording? Was the station already lost or was that a live distress call? My foot hit the gas pedal before my thoughts could finish. The throaty tone rang out from my window rolled down as I came up the main street. Ahead I could see not just a horde but a mass of zees unlike any I had seen since the start of the plague. I hit the brakes and stared for a few moments. There was something wrong with them, wrong in a way beyond being the dead and moving. I couldn’t quite place why. Staring at the crowd of zees which slowly were starting to take note of me I saw my first proof of life in the dead. That is to say I saw there were survivors at the radio station when one of the zee’s heads exploded into a chunky mess spraying zees around him. “Wave of Mutilation” by the Pixies started up and I cranked the radio.

I started to sing under my breath as the crowd of zees started to sway and turn to look towards me. When four or five had their full attention on me they broke into a run rushing me. My heart slammed into my chest and I realized at that very moment what had been wrong with these zees. Their level of rot was way off. These were fresh dead, or fresher dead. Probably no more than weeks to a month old they were capable of running faster than most people. I had just broken the dam.

The horde turned from the building and charged me. I pulled the car into reverse and hit the gas, turning to look behind me to drive as fast as I could. A few flickered glances in front of me confirmed that I still had the full force of the horde chasing me at speeds that shouldn’t have been possible. Where could so many people have been hiding and killed in a short time frame? Shaking my head to abandon the thoughts my focus returned to driving. Driving in reverse was not my strong point and it didn’t take long before I hit some cars abandon in the street. Unbuckling from the jeep I scrambled to exit, eyes scanning for where to take a stand and my fright so potent that I mistook the roar of a bike with the racing of my own blood thrumming in my ears. The sharks had shadowed me, despite my urging them to stay behind at KSAT TV.

I didn’t wait to hear disapproval on how I was foolish but threw myself behind a large shark hugging him. He peeled out and started to circle the block. The zees broke in confusion, a portion charging into my jeep and climbing inside. They seemed to be attacking the jeep it’s self when I looked behind me, tearing at the seats and parts within. Swallowing hard I watched as a smaller number pulled from the bulk and continued to chase after me and the Sharks on bikes.

No longer in control in direction or fate I could only watch, but much like fish schooling the sharks seemed to work together on instinct guiding their bikes up to the steps of Bluetone Productions. The doors threw open and they didn’t pause but raced straight into the building still on the bikes. The roar of engines echoed in the lobby and the slick surface sent the bike I was on sliding on its side dragging both me and the rider along until we hit the wall on the far side by the elevators. Behind us people were barricading the doors again while others rushed up to help us out of the wreckage of the bike. A few seemed hesitant or fearful of the Shark but they pulled us free none the less. I sat there in a daze staring towards the doors that soon had fists pounding against the boarded windows from the outside. It took Thomas James two or three times to get my attention before finally I looked up at him. “Hello, good to see you’re with us again. I’m Thomas James and might I say as rescues go this wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. You okay? You hit your head, or broke your leg?” Gingerly I flexed my leg and shook my head negative. It was sore, bruised and probably cut up but not broken. “Great, then let’s get you all upstairs. Jammer’s going to want to see you.”

Standing seemed difficult, and I stumbled a few times attempting it before one of the Sharks got impatient and scooped me up. I didn’t resist but stayed quiet while we walked three flights of stairs and into what was a radio station with all the equipment one might expect. The next figure to approach holding a cup of hot tea for me and I recognized the moment she spoke. “About time we had someone new to interview, please,” Lone Wolf continued, “drink. I put a shot of whiskey in there to help calm your nerves.“ I gave a grateful grin and started to sip the tea as Thomas replied.

“I wouldn’t bother with an interview I think this one’s a mute.”

The sharks snickered at that idea and one of the laughed, “As if we were so lucky. You get her started and she won’t shut up.” I narrowed my eyes at them and contemplated flicking the tea in their direction. Likely the only thing that stopped me was the thought of wasting the whiskey.

Finding my voice I finally spoke, “Ezekiel sent me. He was worried since you’ve gone dead on the airwaves. I didn’t pick up your broadcast until I was about a mile away.”

Lone Wolf swore under her breath and gave Thomas James a worried look, “Jammer is going to be so pissed off.”

“I’m already pissed off. What’s going to have me even more pissed off than how pissed off I already am? The FCC decided to fine us for indecent speech on zee head splatter? They can kiss my ass!” My eyes turned to look at Jammer, an angry looking man with a rifle.

“Jammer, no honey nothing as mundane as the FCC, it’s the broadcast, it’s not reaching outside the city. Everyone who can hear it is already inside the building other than the dead rocking outside and their keepers.” My ears perked up at the term keepers.

“What happened here? Those are fresh dead, they are way too fuckn’ fast!” My eyes flickered between the two radio hosts.

Jammer rubbed the back of his head, “about four… shit five days ago now, two trucks with the full rigs pulled up into the street. We were thrilled, figured it was supplies. Worse case bandits we could pop off and take their gear. Only what came out wasn’t living. These fuckers in black robes came to the back and opened up the doors. They walked right up to the front doors and got down on their knees. The bastards just stayed there while all these dead poured out of the rigs and ran for them. Now I’m not shitting you, they didn’t even cry out when they got torn to shreds. Then all the dead were there trying to get in. We barricaded our doors best we could after that, but it was dicey for the first few days.”

“Next thing we know the rigs started to move off leaving the dead behind but that wasn’t the real betrayal.” I could hear the loathing in Thomas James voice, “While we were all dealing with the unexpected visitors knocking on the doors, windows and walls of the building, the drivers of the rigs sent grapple hooks up to our dish. They pulled out and tore it down, crippling our signal. We’ve been trapped inside ever since and they left us here.”

I sipped the tea thinking over the scene. It could only have been the Cult, though that begged the question why? Obviously they didn’t like a radio signal they couldn’t control. “So you’re screwed then? The tower is completely down?”

Jammer’s grin held a hint of manic need within, “Oh we’re not completely dead sweet heart. See the dish tore off but the tower stayed up. We just need a new dish and Thomas James here, he can reattach. He’s the one who’s been keeping us on the airwaves so far and he’ll get us back up and running.”

“Yeah honey, that’s if we don’t starve out here first.” Lone Wolf’s tone held a hint of hope, her eyes on me.

I muttered under my breath, “So we need to get past a horde, get supplies, get a new dish,” Thomas James helpfully broke in.

“We can get a dish from the radio station across the city. It’s all shiny waiting to be picked up.”

“Get a new dish,” I repeated, “all without joining the friendly flash mob out there.” My hand raised to run over my head, “No problem, give me a couple minutes to think. I’d hate for Ezekiel to think I cheated him out of his fuckn’ story!”

  • Safe House:Bluetone Productions
  • CVC Level: 8
  • Current Recorded Members: 24
  • Overall Opinion:Bluetone was a first for me in that my opinion was formed on them before I had a chance to speak to a single member for any real length of time. This is odd for me as I try very hard to not use the words of others to judge a group, but in this case it was hard not to. It began with me lamenting how I hadn’t gotten to Bluetone yet. I had decided early on that they would be featured as my TV station, but then KSAT was formed and took their place. I knew how I would link them together and the progression to a radio station was smooth, but as these parts of the story were weeks away it pushed back Bluetone’s date further and further. The friend who listened to me talk about this started to tell me his opinion of Bluetone starting with their history. I learned how they are an old Safe House within the game and many a level 51 has passed through their doors. From that I noted that they may be a transition house, a place to level up in comfort before joining safe houses that deem themselves as “serious”. But as I talked to others and in the course of conversation brought up Bluetone something struck me as odd. Not a single person outside their safe house had a bad thing to say about any of them. Not one. It was practically unnatural. This week I spent a fair amount of time lurking, listening and chatting with members. I discovered that they have kept their core membership. People who have left told me that of all their travels Bluetone is the most fun group and the one that keeps them laughing and encourages them to have ties back to their original home. I’m not just talking random players here, but players from known houses such as ATCO, Grind House, ATCO Centre, Rite Aid and others gave me glowing recommendations about Bluetone and further encouraged me to feature them as soon as possible. It’s not uncommon for people to hear of a rival safe house being featured and telling me that they are excited to see what gets said, but to have so many from so many houses talk about Bluetone in such terms was very neat in my eyes. To my delight, the glowing recommendations were well deserved from the time I’ve spent within their chat rooms. I want to thank Jammer for providing this week’s radio selection (located on the left side bar). I’m hoping to continue with his selections from time to time.
  • 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.

I suppose this tip is more to do with the blog than it is to do with the game, though the connection between the two is self evident. Without Please Stay Calm there would be no blog, and without the incredible community there’d be no reason to write. The support that the community has given me continues to surprise me, and humble me to some extent. Over and over I’m invited into safe house communications where you’re gracious enough to show to me not just what it means to be a part of your group, but why you are all so pleased to be within that piece of PSC. None of this would be possible without the amazing players within our game community.

I am continuing to write and continuing to find ways to bring up previously mentioned safe houses within the stories. But each week I seek out a new safe house and ways to brag about how great our players are. I’ve been asked how I pick the safe houses I do, and what a safe house needs to do in order to be a part of the story. I want to provide that information so that as many as possible can be included.

Here is what I need from you to write you into the story:

  1. I need to know you. I don’t need your deep personal thoughts, but I at least need to know your name and the name of your safe house.
  2. I need to know which of your members are active in the Global Chat so that I can observe their behavior and form an opinion not just of your safe house, but also who you would represent within the story. I am on at all kinds of hours so telling me what time zone your safe house shows up in Global helps me to look for you.
  3. I need ways of getting in touch with you so that when I have questions I can get answers. These include any of the possible following, message me on the PSC forums, talk to me in Global Chat, send me whispers on PSC (if I see your whisper I will respond), talk to me on Palringo (I’m Chyram there as well) or email me directly. (For my email address, send me a message on the forums requesting.)
  4. I need your safe house to be at least a week old. Please understand that if your safe house is gone before I get a chance to write about it, your name maybe removed from the list. If you’re safe house had a big impact within the game in that short time you may still appear as a tribute.
  5. I need to know where to place you in the story. Unfortunately this one largely lies with me. There have been a number of safe houses on my list that I want to include, but I have yet to figure out where you fit in the lore I’ve created. Hanging out in PAL rooms, or talking with members in Global Chat helps me get an idea, or a feel for who you are as a group. It also sparks my imagination. You may also have an opinion on how you feel you would be best represented. Talk to me, I’ll work out a deal with you and reshape the story where needed. This is a very fluid process.
  6. I will not feature any safe house that was created with the express purpose to belittle or attack another specific safe house. You can have your grudge match, but I’m not involved.
  7. I will feature specific people who become friendly with me, even if I haven’t featured their safe house yet. There’s perks to being a friend but I’m a friendly person and rarely reject anyone’s conversation.
  8. I will not feature anyone who glorifies racists’ behavior or expresses violence to women or children. (To the best of my knowledge, as I may have eyes and ears in many places they aren’t everywhere.)
  9. I require your permission to use your name. You will not get a preview of the writing in most cases before it is published. I only require being told directly in any of the means of communication listed. If you are displeased with how your specific name has been used you may request your name removed from the story.

Many safe houses have approached me and are being patient in my adding them. I will continue to seek you out. Be persistent in talking to me. There is no such thing as a safe house too small, but you have to be a part of the community. Talk in Global, leave messages to help or add to conversations on the forums or just leave me comments here, but make sure I know which safe house you’re from.

I hope this helps anyone who’s had questions. If I’ve left out anything, or you want additional information just leave me a question here in the comments section and I will respond!

It took me a few days to get back home and settled in again. Malkoris and Beebles could tell from my mood that I was not in a frame of mind to talk and share what I had learned. That only heighten Malkoris’ anxiousness. We had become so in tune by this point he could sense my tension from how I moved and the phrasing I picked. What I had learned brought home to me how close to death the three of us had walked early on in this journey together and left questions as to what I could possibly do with the information. Beebles busied herself with consolidating the information we had collected into a selection of child pages found beneath the Quick Reference page making it easier for people to hear the words we spread to the population. I was glad to see her keeping herself busy. Searlait was making herself scarce and that concerned me more, as I had become jumpy and was starting to look at shadows.

My protective detail of the Sharks had become pissed off at my reckless actions in ditching them to go off into the wilds alone. I suppose lesser people would have left us to our own resources but instead they doubled the patrol and those who shadowed me wouldn’t let me out of their sight. The lack of privacy was starting to grate on my nerves and I was becoming snappy with everyone. On top of that Rite Aid had cut off communications more or less as they were digging into their own leads and I had no way to consult with them on what I had learned. By the weekend I found myself with an old television turned on flipping channels. Most displayed emergency broadcast signals though there was one station still active and broadcasting on behalf of the government within the Green Zones. I found myself glaring at the woman in her clean cut jacket with her makeup on tactfully and her hair artfully done up. Clearly her position within the Green Zone was not hurting her career as she showed mock concern for all the poor survivors of the terrible stiffness disease out here in the wilds.

With a snarl I threw the remote at the television. In my mind I had pictured something a lot more dramatic. Something like the screen smashing and the remote left sticking partway through a crackling broken machine. Instead what happened was more comical. As the remote hit the television one of the buttons must have been pressed. The television changed channels and I found myself staring at a new face, and a brand new news station. This one could not be occurring in the Green Zone, unless they were faking a survivor broadcast – a thought my paranoia did bring to mind. He was dressed in a suit that looked somewhat rushed without the make up for presentation holding a stack of papers in front of him. Behind him on what looked like a chalkboard was a tasteful design that displayed the letters KSAT. The young man brought his hand up and ran it over his head before smoothing the soul patch on his face quickly.

His eyes flickered off screen as if to confirm that he was on the air before speaking, “This is Lessifer of KSAT bringing you the news, the real news out here in the wastelands. This week crisis struck up among the survivors with the release of the brand new “The Shenanigan”. Rival groups claim to the benefits over the costs while other groups are proclaiming that the black market and the New World Bank are seeking to bring down our fragile economy.

Also in news, rumors are circulating about a group currently researching a new form of armament, hybrid pug and horse cross breeding. Those who claim to have knowledge are stating that “The Pugg” will become a brand new eco friendly form of transportation that has the strength of a horse but the fierceness of a pug to attack zombies. Critics are suggesting that the hypo-allergenic dog may have not been the best choice in today’s warfare. To quote the rumored creator, ‘Hey, we work with what we got. Plus pugs kick ass.’ This is Lessifer of KSAT bringing you the latest news here in the wasteland. Tune in for your non propaganda reviews on what’s really happening out here every hour on the hour.” The screen went back to fuzzy.

I leapt from my seat sending a nearby stool crashing and causing my current guard to jerk to attention bringing his gun up towards the window and then the door. “What? What now?” His irritation showed me that he was equally tired of sitting in one place and likely equally tired of my bad mood.

“I know where I need to go.” I left the room hurrying to pack. Word was going to spread like wild fire of KSAT. The longer they were live the more likelihood the government or the Cult would shut them down. I had to get there first and put out the message to reach as many people as possible.

Before I left I shared with Malkoris the information I had gathered and received his insight. He was cautious about how I would approach this television station, as it was not unlikely that they had already received many crackpot reports on all kinds of things. Would they take me serious? This time when I left Terry Fox it was under full armed escort. Tenda Foot had arranged for a vehicle with tinted windows and bullet proofing to transport me which I was itching to drive. I wasn’t the only one however and the Sharks were both bigger and antsy from having been inside the school for over a week. I took my place in the backseat and settled in to study the paperwork I had gathered. It was precious little so far. I had so many questions but there had to be someone out there alive still who had the answers. Maybe someone who noted what direction the leader had been taking and left before it was too late. I could name a few names I hoped to be among those who survived.

By the time we reached the building that was under guard by KSAT staff I was just about ready to take over the station by force and put myself on the broadcast. We pulled to a stop and I turned to peer at the building and the snipers trained on us. Softly I spoke, “We can’t sit here like this. They are going to fear a car bomb. I’m getting out; you pull back to the perimeter and wait for me.” When the protests began I spoke quickly, “This is how it will be done. I need you to get me here and I need you to get me home. You’ve done that. I take you two in there and I will get no trust. Face it; you guys are scary as fuck and not human anymore.” I soften the harsh words with a smile adding, “That’s why I trust you. It’s humans that are screwing us over -again.” I threw open the door and climbed out, bag over my shoulder resting on the opposite hip. My hands came up in the air as I walked forward to the building in a surrendering motion. I could hear the car start up again and coughed a bit from the dust it stirred up as they peeled away from me.

The snipers allowed me to enter the building but the guards at the entrance searched me and removed all guns on me. I noted with some gratitude that they took none of the paperwork on me. It also worried me, as it was starting to look more and more like I wasn’t the first “crazy” person to show up with a bundled up theory of what really happened to the world. Under guard I was taken to the fifth floor, noting that we took the stairs. When I reached the fifth floor I could see why there had been a need to walk. The elevator shaft opened to a gaping hole with dangling cables. Apparently somewhere along the way it had been cut sending the elevator into the basement. Escorted forward I passed what looked like a news bull pen, with people rushing about. There were several figures monitoring the CVC while others seem to be taking in calls on CB radios. Others seem to using some kind of high tech radio equipment to monitor signals. Young people as young as ten from appearance rushed around providing coffee. I could tell there was a bonding experience happening by how the adults responded to the coffee bringers and how more than one child referred to their “boss” as dad or mom. This was a family operated news station, dedicated to bringing the truth out.

Moving into an office I was left as a gaunt faced man with the weight of the world in his expression gestured I take a seat, “what can we do for you miss?”

“My name is Chryram of Terry Fox,” I was cut off as he brought up his hand.

“Can you prove you are who you say you are?” His expression intensified upon me. How good or how bad would it be that he knew my name? I reached into my pocket for my ID and brought out my old driver’s license. The man studied it for a few moments before standing up still holding the ID. He moved to his door and barked out a few orders. Another young “intern” appeared to take the card and rush off. Moving back to his seat, he spoke again, “I am Ezekiel Stone. We have heard about you Ms. Chyram.”

“Please just Chyram.”

“As you wish, are you here for an interview?” His tone was careful, fishing for the reason I had come to him.

“Mister Stone, have you heard the rumors about the Death Cult that has been stalking survivors?”

“Yes we have heard rumors, but so far there has been little solid proof. We’ve done a few pieces reporting on your exploits, at least when we can get the truth. It seems that Algiers Point is not willing to comment on exactly what occurred when you were their guest. Perhaps you would like to make a public statement on that occurrence?”

I shook my head. It was still better that the Cult saw no direct evidence that I worked with a safe house that was supposed to be staying neutral. “Alright then what have you brought us instead?

My hands reached into the bag and pulled out a picture to put it onto Ezekiel’s desk. “A picture of the Cult Leader and more, I know his name. His name is Charles Wagner.”

Ezekiel studied the picture with a frown, “this is a fairly grainy image. If we put this on the air a lot of innocent people could get hurt, you realize. People are on edge as is.” The young intern returned to put my license on Ezekiel’s desk with a folded piece of paper. He unfolded and reviewed the response, apparently satisfied with what he saw as my driver’s license was handed back to me. “I’m sorry Ms. Chyram but I’m not prepared to see a hundred innocent men killed by causing a panic declaring this image as the leader of a Death Cult.” The room swayed around me and my hands gripped the edge of my chair. Inside my head I could hear myself screaming and Ezekiel’s next few words were lost to me.

It had been months since I had seen Charles. At that point we were all just struggling to survive and find some place safe to hide. We barely had any supplies so when Wagner showed up with his caravan heading north promising people that the zees would freeze and they’d be safe heading north it wasn’t a shocker that Joseph, his wife and their son Samuel had gone with him. When Charles prediction of zee freezing didn’t occur that winter I often wondered what happened to Joseph and his family. In all my wildest speculation the thought that I had handed over a portion of my group to a mad man had never occurred to me. My eyes refocus, returning to Ezekiel. I had no idea what he had been telling me, but it appeared he had noticed that he had lost me and paused to wait for my return.

“Chyram, how about we get you a coffee and you can start by telling me everything you know about Charles Wagner.” I nodded my head and drew in a breath. I was never good at sales, but for once in my life I had to sell someone on the biggest deal I had ever faced. One way or another Charles’ face was getting on that screen.

  • Safe House: KSAT-TV
  • CVC Level: 7
  • Current Recorded Members: 36
  • Overall Opinion:I’m a big believer in providing communication in and outside a game if you’re forming a group. So I was surprised and a bit frustrated at first in my efforts to get to know these people due to their lack of a PAL group. Some of the members have PAL but never use it. This confused me given that two of the members are extremely active in Global Chat. In fact one of them is a MOD. But KSAT has something that I am a fan of, a forum. What they need are more people, not just in the safe house but to be active in their forum. There are tips found within that are decent and the same two who are vocal in Global Chat are quick to respond in their forum. I have found their turnaround time to be less than twenty four hours when I post. From talking and asking questions on the forums it seems as if the safe house has couples and more than a few members who are active in the military. That has resulted in a PG-13 safe house that has little drama (hurray for drama free safe houses!) but who have a group of members that check in once or twice a week to contribute rather than daily. So far I’d place them as a casual and laid back place to be with room to grow. If you want a place to make a name for yourself, and be active in a social manner this might be a spot for you. They are also the only safe house I’m aware of attempting a news letter on their forum which I enjoyed browsing. Their forums does accept guests to post in public sections.
  • Communication: Safe House chat, CVC Global Chat for Safe House invites (1/2 fees when invited), Please Stay Calm Forums, KSAT Forums

Thanks to puggamoo for the awesome idea in armor and for allowing me to broadcast about it!

The week had stretched out since the funeral. By this point I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere unescorted and it was starting to drive me crazy. When Rite Aid didn’t have a member watching me they would assign a Shark from Shark City to do so. It was the Sharks who were on duty when Terry Fox received visitors from The Colony. Alex Asgard rode up on the same bike that I had seen her earlier this week only this time she had a side car and riding within was a woman I had only seen from a distance, SamCopperpot, first lady of The Colony. She had a tightly pressed expression on her face as if the ride had not been to her comfort level, but her reasons for such were made clear when she exited the side car. Alex escorted her into our building and explained, “We took some fire a few miles back. She was shot in the shoulder, you do have a clinic?”

I nodded my head and assisted, informing the Sharks, “stay outside, and watch the perimeter.” They weren’t pleased with my instructions, but if it was because I would be out of their sight, or if it was because of the smell of blood from the wound I couldn’t be certain. I started to prepare the bandages within the clinic when SamCopperpot spoke, her tone genteel reflecting her position, “I regret the subterfuge we needed to use to get past your guardians, but this information can only be heard by your ears.” Startled I looked up to see Alex Asgard looking less than comfortable. “When I realized you were being guarded so closely it seemed best that I have Alex wound me in order that we can have a private conversation.”

The idea was so crazy that – well that it worked. I had ordered the Sharks out rather than have them circling in the clinic. SamCopperpot nodded her head towards Alex Asgard who left the room in a solemn state. I started to work on digging out the bullet, silently noting the woman’s ability to refrain from tears or crying out. She may appear weaker, as if being Mattyyy’s lady had given her benefits, but beneath that soft appearance was a steel core. I made a mental note to watch my tone around her and to not under estimate her in the future. “That is lot of effort to speak with me. I hope it was worth it.” I was nervous, my gun out of reach. If she was a cult agent, I had likely opened myself up for an attack.

“Recently we uncovered criminal activity within The Colony.”

“I know, madam. I was there when it happened.” I was referring to the cult attack on the food supply lines.

“No not cult activity, criminal activity, which is a group of thieves who have infiltrated our Colony and set up a home for themselves with ties to the outside world. At first Mattyyy was going to expel them however it turns out that they have information that is vital to your search for this cult. He’s allowing them asylum in exchange for their cooperation. Of course they are supposed to give up their thieving ways.” SamCopperpot’s tone suggested that she had doubts that this would occur.

The bullet made a soft clink into the pan as I removed it from her arm. I had grown accustom to the copper scent of blood and my familiarity didn’t strike me as odd anymore. I started to bandage the wound, “so where do I need to go in order to get in touch with them?”

“They have a safe house, currently located in a place called Den of Thieves. If you go there tell them that The Colony sends its regards. You’ll be allowed inside to make an offer on the information.”

“An offer, I thought that they were exchanging information for asylum?”

“Well yes, but it’s more of the chance of information. Their safe house has been compromised and it seems that relocation costs are dragging out their operation and they will attempt to extort supplies from you. I recommend you take care with these folks. These are after all,” her eyes flickered down to the bandage critically examining my work, “desperate times.” Desperate indeed, at least desperate enough to get oneself shot on purpose!

When my visitors left I had a map, and sharks circling my building. Sharks I needed to somehow escape to make this trip on my own. I looked over at the pan with the bullet still red from the fresh blood of SamCopperpot. The Sharks senses were so hyper sensitive at this point in their genetic manipulation it was my best wild card. Carrying the pan to a window at the far side of the building, I dropped it outside. At that point I was in a race for time. I ran for my bike, Malkoris meeting me at the door. I knew he would have monitored the conversation in the clinic from a secret camera but The Colony didn’t need to know that part. He already had a day pack for me to hand as I passed him. The man knew me well enough to know I’d make a break for it and likely observed what I did with the bullet. As expected when I exited the Sharks had converged upon the trace smell of blood outside the building. By the time they realized they had been duped by the last person they expected to try fooling them I was on the road and heading off.

The day pack wasn’t going to give me a lot of supplies, but it would be enough if I rationed myself to reach the Den of Thieves. I dodged around Rite Aid’s territory on my way out so as not to run into more escorts. SamCopperpot’s words had been clear enough that I would need to arrive alone if I wanted information. Yet when I arrived outside the building I felt I must have been too late and that I missed all the thieves in their rush to move. From the creak of the door when I entered the building I expected to see cobwebs. Instead there was a tidy and clean room with a counter and behind the counter sat an old man smoking. He looked up at me with a tired expression, “miss, we don’t have much left to sell, what can I getcha?”

“I ahh,” I paused feeling foolish even saying the pass phrase, “the Colony sends its regards.”

The man’s head turned and he spit into a pot near his feet. It was unreal watching him, like observing a bad actor in a second rate western. From the back a little girl came forward with ruffled hair and a pouty expression. “So you’re the one who wants to know about those killers hey?” The man’s hand comes down on the shoulder of the little girl. “Well you get something for me, and I’ll give you the information on where to go to get your information.”

So it wasn’t direct information I was getting from these people but I was grasping at straws. “What do you need?”

The old man leaned back a touch, “green card. The fancy ID badges that the rich folk use to get passed the border and cross into the Green Zone.”

My eyes widen, “you honestly think I’d even be here if I could get my hands on one of those?”

He smirked and nodded his head, “yeah you would. You’re all hot on saving the world, and nobody behind that wall gives a fuck about us. You aren’t going anywhere. Neither am I, cancer is going to get me, but my granddaughter; she’s getting behind that wall where she can grow up safe.” My eyes flickered to the little girl. “So you get me the card and I’ll give you more than enough about your cult to pay for it.”

“And just where am I suppose to go to get one of these?” I was bewildered and frustrated. If the little girl wasn’t there I’d be ready to strangle him for the information.

“ATCO’s markets, that much I can tell you. I don’t know the specific source but I do know that ATCO’s got an inside man who has been faking IDs and smuggling people across the border. That’s where you’ll get the card. I only need one. No picture ID assigned. Make sure it has the hologram though.” His smile displayed the missing teeth in his mouth and I found myself a bit too close as the scent of his breath mixed with the smells of his clove cigarette. Turning my face away I caught a glimpse of someone slipping up the stairs. Their pants were styled in a fashion I would have called Steampunk but I couldn’t be certain, as I did not get a good look.

“Alright fine, I’ll get this card, but just what do you think your granddaughter is going to do on the other side with nobody to look out for her?” She looked no more than twelve years old.

“She’ll be fine. She’s a survivor, just like her grandpa, just like all of us.” The old man leaned back a bit, “You better get moving then, longer it takes the staler my information gets.” I sneered a little, disliking the rush. Something here was off. Something big, but I couldn’t put my finger on what!

I was off for ATCO to find a mystery vender in the market. If anyone knew what was going on within ATCO’s it was going to be wiredl0ve, or maybe k1. I was going to have to see advice when I got there. Leaving I glanced up at the second floor. There were eyes on me, I couldn’t see them but I could feel them. The feeling that this whole thing had been staged wouldn’t leave me, but the Den of Thieves had made their demand. One access card for information, and that was what I would get for them. It better be worth the cost!

  • Safe House: Den of Thieves
  • CVC Level: 6
  • Current Recorded Members: 22
  • Overall Opinion:Den of Thieves is a house divided. A good number of their membership have moved to The Colony, while others yet remain within Den of Thieves. They remain united still within their specific PAL room, and I’ve been delighted to interact with them there. This is a fun bunch of people, a group that will bring benefit to any other safe house they join. Ultimately the fate of Den of Thieves is still a bit up in the air. I believe the majority will continue to make the move, an open secret I’m told as it’s been discussed in Global Chat. Therefore I cannot recommend this as a house to move towards. However to my delight (as I have a weakness for thieves within stories) this group is seeking to join The Colony but remain connected through their Safe House symbol. They want to hold onto their past and their game heritage if you will. One of their members has created a few icons to attempt this. As a moving gift and encouragement I’m including two versions I created that they can use if they desire to. If you join The Colony I would recommend getting to know this group of people as they are both helpful, cheerful and friendly.
  • Communication: 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

I’d lost track of the hours I had been driving. Mattyyy from The Colony arranged for a truck for me with supplies. While The Colony had no current leads on the cult we both agreed that it was highly likely that they were being watched and it was in the best interest of all involved if I could slip out of the safe house fortress without being noticed. The best manner to do that was to put me on one of the delivery trucks and send me off to make a delivery. Nobody would question one of the many trucks leaving the compound every day and in turn I could appear at another safe house to trade in the truck for a new method to get back home. But my skin itched as I left The Colony feeling eyes on me that were likely only in my own head. I was nervous enough that I made no stops for the next eight hours driving like a mad woman chased by hounds of hell. Finally when I did take a stop to eat a meal that was packed for me exhaustion took over. I sealed myself into the truck and slept for another eight.

When I woke I barely felt human. The need to shower was only outweighed by the need to pee. I broke into a local home and used what I needed there as well as recovered a few more supplies. After, I was back on the road heading to where the truck’s delivery had been promised. I didn’t even know what was in the back. As I traveled down the road the silence felt unnatural despite the months of getting used to seeing fewer and fewer living. The radio’s static became preferable to the random and occasional sounds outside. A horn blaring, an alarm or some random explosion in the distance could be dampened by the sound of static turned up loud enough. Yet the sharper sounds of gun fire still broke through. Those disturbed me less as they were more signs of life, of people fighting to live and while I was not joining them or helping them, silently as I slipped through their territory I cheered them on. For a brief moment the static broke and I heard a voice. I pulled over the truck and turned the dials listening. I heard the word “Blue” and then static. The signal was lost in this territory, either from distance or something actively blocking it. I was now in The Hungry Tiger’s territory; I just had to find them.

By night fall I was getting desperate. I knew I was in the right area but streets were blocked off with cars and the truck was not going to fit through any of the narrow passages left. I pulled into a mall’s parking lot and drummed my fingers on the steering wheel. Walking at night in unknown territory, territory owned by the living, did not seem wise. As I contemplated my options a small band of bikers roared into the parking lot and I found the truck surrounded. A man with wild eyes leveled a gun in my direction while a woman beside him on her own bike with hair tossed by the ride and the wind gestured for me to exit. As I climbed out of the cab I kept my hands up in the air. “You’re not our regular driver. Mattyyy knows I don’t like things switching up on us.” I could hear the mistrust, a sign that this man whose gaze bespoke that he might be on the edge of sanity had trust issues.

“I realize, janimaltheanimal, that is the case, but Mattyyy felt that you might be able to help me. He said he doubled the shipment in payment for this unfortunate situation.” I kept my voice steady.

Looks were exchanged and janimaltheanimal gestured for one of his riders to check the truck. I heard the rear doors of the truck roll open and there was a pause before someone let out a whoop of excitement. Broad grins broke out all around and janimaltheanimal lifted his sawed off shotgun to rest it on his shoulder pointing upwards, “well now looks like we gotta guest for the night, Belle. How about you take her back with you?”

The woman on the bike beside him smirked at me and patted the seat behind her on her bike. I took in her biker appearance and her tattoos wondering again if perhaps being on my own tonight would be all that bad. But if there’s one thing worse than accepting a biker clan’s invitation while smiling, it would be refusing without a reasonable explanation. I grabbed my bag out of the cab, shouldered it and came over to climb onto the back of her bike.

The ride back wasn’t just exciting, it was terrifying. I felt myself squeezing a bit tighter than I was comfortable as BikerBelle weaved in and out of the broken cars on the road. It became apparent to me that these cars were not just scattered but arranged in a pattern. The patterns allowed the bikes in and out while keeping larger vehicles out of their territory. It also funneled any zee activity so that large numbers were forced to squeeze in a trickle for easier killing. A smart move if your safe house lacked the numbers of others such as ATCO.

When I saw the safe house itself, I felt shocked at the appearance. Of all the buildings in the area it would have been the last on my list to pick. There were glass windows all about the front proudly displaying the lights shining inside. Inside, colored lights made the bar seem festive and I could see a lit up stage with instruments.  A small barricade was set up in front of the building and behind it a row of bikes.  I could see other people dressed in leathers and sporting tattoos wandering both inside and outside of the building. It was a surreal end of the world version of a biker club in the middle of the ruins of a city. When we pulled in, BikerBelle shouted out some orders sending more men on bikes to head for the parking lot. I climbed off the bike and stood stiffly, uncertain of what I was doing here.

It was Wego who came to my rescue, stepping out of the bar and approaching. “BikerBelle, you arrive and you brought with you another lovely lady. Only one who is not marked up to look like a painted lady from the circus.” His hand extended beyond the white robes I’ve come to know as Algiers Point members and handed me a bandana.

“Wego, one of these days that smart mouth of yours is going to get you punched.” BikerBelle’s threatening tone hid behind a hint of a smile. I could understand why, as one could see in the gentle expression in Wego’s face and his friendly demeanor that it would be difficult to hold a grudge against him.

Wego linked his arm with mine after I took the colorful home-made bandana and started to lead me off, “one of these days yes, but not until you’re all good and drunk and I suspect you’ll all be far too busy unloading that supply of beer from The Colony, won’t you?”

I heard the laugh of Belle as Wego brought me into The Hungry Tiger and towards a table in the back. This was becoming a familiar scene. I enter a new safe house and immediately Algiers Point members seclude me to debrief me on matters. At a small round table at the back I sat across from Wego while he brought out a brush pen and dipped it into black ink. He carefully started to draw characters from kanji, an art of Japanese lettering. “I find this relaxing to do, I hope you don’t mind.”

Smiling faintly I shook my head, “not at all Wego. Is there something about The Hungry Tiger I should know?”

“Yes. First off they are all a little crazy. Not terribly so, but just a little. Some of the members have lost people very close to them in manners that are more personal than others. Tread lightly and watch your speech.” His eyes sharpened as he met mine, “and don’t go drinking with them. Even if you think you can drink, just don’t.”

Before I could respond a gloved hand came down upon my shoulder, “well now, who is this here?” The voice had a slight accent to it that I could place. Glancing up I saw a man dressed not just in leathers but leathers for show.

Wego’s response hinted at his disapproval at being interrupted, “KingKonge, this is Chyram of Terry Fox.”

“Chyram of Terry Fox, what are you doing sitting around with the most boring of men in all of Hungry Tiger? Come along; let’s get you a drink, love.” I saw Wego’s slight head shake warning me, but, irritated at being told I couldn’t handle a few drinks, I stood up nodding in agreement.

At the bar, I was handed a beer. We got to talking until the rest of the truck’s food and booze arrived. Soon everyone was busy storing what was there and I chipped in to help. The dusk turned to night and the night turned to pitch black. I found myself looking more and more at the glass windows in worry. All the lights were on. We were a firefly of activity in the night drawing every zee to us and I did not want to die that night.

Belle noticed my concern and moved to sit on a stool beside me, “there’s not many of them left out there.”

“Many of the zees?”

“Yup, not many. Oh there’s some, and we know it, but now there’s only a few. We have to go to efforts to drag in more. When the outbreak wave hit this city most of us were having an End of the World party right here. Only somewhere along the lines of getting drunk or high janimaltheanimal sort of broke. He freaked out and grabbed a gun. He said that he wasn’t going out like those mother fuckers out there all moaning and drooling on himself. Man has to have pride in his appearance. He went up on the roof and just started shooting. Rest of us followed. When morning came, we were all still here, and anything left out there was dead or moved on. We all just stayed.” I could hear the glow in BikeBelle’s tone. The two of them were close, though how close I couldn’t be certain.

“So what do you guys do here now?”

“We’re a way station with The Colony and we take in stragglers. Sometimes people stay and sometimes they move on. We’re family. We look out for each other. What else would we do in this world?” I thought about her words and then the cult before nodding my head.

“There’s more out there than zees you know, even more than government agents.”

BikerBelle nodded her head slightly, “we’ve heard of your cult but haven’t seen any yet. I figure it takes someone with charisma to come in and sway a safe house to follow them right? Well nobody is going to come in and take us from janimaltheanimal. This is his club, we’re his bikers. The man might be insane, but we’ll all die to defend him.” She gave me a toothy smile that might have been a warning.

“I’m not here to cause problems Belle.”

Her laughter chimed out, “you cause problems? No offense but what exactly could you do?” My teeth grit just a little but I forced a smile. “You know what? I think it’s time we had ourselves a good old fashion roof party.” Belle stood up and called out, “KingKonge, time for you to make some noise, rest of you, we’re heading to the roof!” Shouts of encouragement rang out and I found myself trapped in a crowd that pushed its way up a narrow staircase and onto the roof of the building. Lining the edge was rifles and ammunition. Several men brought boxes of beer up and placed them in the center.

BikerBelle brought up her hands, “Rules, ladies, gents, and janimaltheanimal: You miss a head shot you drink a beer. For janimaltheanimal, he makes a head shot, he drinks a beer.” That brought out a roar of laughter and a group of half drunken people started to load rifles. I grew nervous even as one was thrust into my hands. Below me, to my horror, I heard music. I looked down and through the curved glass I could see KingKonge on the stage starting to play. Some were still on the main floor dancing or cheering him on. The song was good, the beat was great and the words were hard to ignore, but the sound was drawing in more than the joy of the crowd.

From the rim of light, we started to see them. Zees filtering in from the pathways of cars, pressing in near the barricade. janimaltheanimal brought up his rifle and fired off a quick shot. A half rotten zee’s head exploded like an over ripe melon and a cheer went up. A beer was passed to him and he chugged it quickly. More and more zees appeared and we ended up all taking shots. I soon found I was not among the best, and as I drank more, my shooting got worse. At one point, quite drunk, I looked at BikerBelle with a half closed eye and slurred, “You know, you keep handing them out but you’re not drinking. You’re a cheat!” Her eyes narrowed and she punched me in response. I fell back, hit the gravel of the roof and saw the world spin. Then it went black.

I don’t remember much for the next few days other than that they passed. I woke up sick with Wego holding back my hair while I “prayed” to the porcelain gods. I remember being chastised by him and hearing him lecture Belle. Then I remember I drank more but I forget who handed me the drink. There was pain, nothing extreme, but I remember the discomfort on my back, and while I vaguely remember agreeing to it, I certainly wasn’t conscious enough for details. Then I was hung-over, half wishing I was dead, while clinging like a sick monkey to BikerBelle, her bike thundering beneath us both. It was only a week ago that I had lamented the stupidity of being on a bike in a zombie infested world. Here I was not able to keep my balance on a bike driven by a road demoness heading home.

We pulled up to Terry Fox and I was helped off the bike and into the arms of Beebles and Malkoris. They helped me inside and I heard laughter as the bikes rode off. Distinctly I heard Belle’s voice say, “Make sure to tell her I said ‘you’re welcome’.”

“What happened to your back?” Malkoris’ tone was concerned.

“I don’t know, it hurts and it itches.”

“Hold still, let’s get this bandage off,” Beebles carefully peeled back the tape before gasping, “oh! I didn’t know you were into this sort of thing. It’s incredible Chyram!”

My heart thumped in my chest, “into what sort of thing?” Malkoris’ eyes met mine and he went to find a mirror. Standing with my back to the larger mirror I used the smaller one to look back behind me. With a snarl I growled out, “That bitch!” The anger faded to laughter as I stared at it. Alright, it was not something I would have done had I not been totally blind drunk, but if I had to pick a tattoo that embraced who I was becoming, a Kitsune was pretty damn accurate. I felt the grin I was trying to hold back appear on my face.

“Yeah I can tell you’re all broke up about it.” Malkoris rolled his eyes and turned to leave the room. “I’ll go make your bed. You’re still drunk and need to sleep this,” I felt his hand lightly smack the still-sensitive skin of my back, “off.”

The Song Sung by KingKonge:

  • Safe House: The Hungry Tiger
  • CVC Level: 6
  • Current Recorded Members: 28
  • Overall Opinion:When I was a kid I didn’t smoke or really do anything that the “bad kids” did. You always knew who the “bad kids” were because they all hung out at the smoke pit at the far end of the field. And when I was in the eighth grade they were intimidating until one day I got beat up. (Surprised that I was in a fight? Don’t be I was a mouthy little kid who survived by wit not strength.) It was the same “bad kids” that came to help me out. They put word out in the school that if I got touched again, they would come and deal with my attacker. Shocked the heck out of me to tell you the truth, I didn’t know I had left a good impression. The Hungry Tiger reminds me of those kids. In the forums and in Global Chat they have rough edges. They are quick to use sexual innuendo in Global Chat to the point that originally I wanted to write them up as a brothel to start. They are fierce to protect one another, especially the vocal members, and follow all the trademarks of online social behavior I expect from those who have companions that know each other in the real world outside of online activities. (Which some do.) When they think they are being wronged they don’t just respond, but they repeatedly attack until they get satisfaction, emotionally or in compensation. This is the sort of tight knit community needed to sustain a smaller safe house. While their numbers are small compared to other houses, The Hungry Tiger leaves a big impression on the community. Few would not know their name. More over having been welcome in their PAL room I know that they are inviting of people, both guests and members. I can’t get a good feel for the rating of the chat in their safe house but I would not recommend them to a younger than sixteen year old age group. However for the young adults who want to have fun, or anyone interested in bikes or tattooing I would recommend these people. If I get beat up in PSC (assuming it’s not my sometimes questionable wit that causes THT to do the beating) they would be on the list of people I would appeal to for help.
  • Communication: 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