Posts Tagged ‘Shark City Tattoos’

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

I felt the sigh leave me more than I heard it. That sensation as a deep breath fills your chest tightening beneath your ribs before releasing with a rush out from your lips. Such sighs take with them not just air but emotions and thoughts. I spent most of the morning fighting with the sharks and even with FEMA agents about my next move. We had the SUV and it had limited protection. This was the closest I had come to being on Charles tracks, the attack to Bluetone having only been a week before our arrival. I wanted to scream in frustration that we were leaving the area without trying to pick up the tracks. This was my crusade not theirs and yet somehow I had been out voted.

Night Angel had pointed out that the three of us, the sharks and I, were not going to have the fire power or the equipment to take on any encampment of cultists. It didn’t matter to me that he was both logical and correct, or even that he was looking out for my benefit, I was angry. Once again there was going to be a delay and Charles was going to slip out of my grasp. I turned my head to scowl seeing my own reflection in the glass in front of passing buildings half ruined from this plague of death. The helpful suggestions of returning home and appealing to the Raiders or ATCO for support just further numbed me. As much as it pained me to admit it, this had become a matter of pride for me. My thirst for vengeance had turned this fight personal between me and Charles with the irony being he likely didn’t even remember me.

My chest ached, a dull pain from the shout trapped in my lungs. It hadn’t mattered how much I argued, or even when I shouted. In fact when I turned around and punched one of the sharks in the nose they just lost patience with me. The two brutes were taking their obligation to protect me very serious. The one cradled his nose between his hands while the other picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. I was unceremoniously carried to the SUV and dumped into the back seat. And now we drove in silence, me sulking like a child in the back.

Why was I responding this way? Sure I had known a few who died because of Charles but likely he killed many others I didn’t know. It just bothered me to think that madness was running rampant out there threatening the fragile existence of who was left. On top of that I had spent months just fighting with other survivors to convince them that there even was a threat. Nobody wanted to hear the truth anymore. Life had been so hard of late and there had been so many tears shed for the dead both when they passed and when they were put down, to hear there was another horror was something many could not process. Yet I had known. From the first time that ATCO brought me proof I had believed without question.

So why was I so eager to believe in this threat from the start? Perhaps it was the dead that drove me into this cause. Surrounded by the zees on all sides and protecting such a small group I had felt helpless. Fighting as we did Malkoris, Beebles and I could only make a small dent in the dead and it was a drop in a bucket that never stopped filling. They say every little bit helps but in this case our help in clearing the world of zeedom didn’t seem to make a difference. It was a repeating process each day, worrying about infection, killing what was dead and hoping to have enough to fill our bellies. I needed Charles to be real. I needed a cause I could fight against, and for the first time I realized I had been a fraud all this time.

I lied to people when I told them that there was something more frightening than the zees out there. I lied when I told them how scary the Cult truly was, because somehow I was not afraid of Charles or his minions. I felt very comfortable fighting him because no matter how bat shit insane he was, Charles was a man. And in the end he would have the motives, reactions and needs of a man. That was why I had picked up this mantle and been eager to fight him. On some level I was running away from the zees to fight something familiar, a person. I was tired of being afraid of death and wanted to kill the living because somehow that felt cleaner.

I felt my stomach twist a bit at the sickness there in that thought. How I hated the dead, the zees that had invaded my world. Oh I could mimic the arguments of so many others and tell you how they were not really dead, but just meat puppets for another living organism. I could mouth the sympathy and sounds of pain about the suffering of victims in this plague but it was all faked. I hated them. I hated the clouded eyes, and their gargled sounds. I hated their stiff movements and the gapping motions of their mouths as they reached with twisted limbs for my flesh. My skin crawled to think about them and more than once I woke up screaming into my pillow because even in my sleep I was too afraid to make sounds that might attract them. Each time I killed one I didn’t take satisfaction but just additional horror that they dared to mimic humanity in their gory forms.

Charles was the cleaner kill, insanity on a human level. I wanted to kill him just to feel somehow normal again even though before this plague I had never harmed another living soul. I brought my elbow up to rest on the door and put my hand over my eyes to hide my face from the sharks. I didn’t want them to see tears as I mourned that another piece of me had been truly broken. I’ll never get back the person I was but if I was going to bury who I was I’d be reborn into something stronger. Like tempered steel, I was ready to move from the flames and my tears were like that water cooling my form.

I didn’t register the crack of the shot until after the SUV veered off the road and into the front of a store. A second shot rang out even as the shark on the front passenger side moved to scramble out. I saw his brain matter hit the glass of the window behind him on the door before his form crumpled. Sucking in breath I reached forward for the driver to shake his shoulder. My hand felt the warmth and wetness of his blood and saw then that he had taken the first hit. Confusion froze me for a moment; the SUV was supposed to be bullet proof? This couldn’t be happening!

I twisted in my seat looking out the back window. From across the street I could see figures, two, no three; each dressed in a long draped robe. One of them carried what appeared to be a rifle of some sort with a scope. My hand dropped down to the bag beside me to pull out the gun on hand. Aiming for the bullet hole that had weaken the glass I fired a few quick rounds and then scrambled to the front seats. My foot came up to kick at the glass pushing it out before I crawled out over the hood. My hands and knees were cut up by the broken glass as I rushed off the SUV and into the store, gun in hand, running.

The sound of my gun had bought me a bit of time as the Cultists took cover before rushing into the building. I had made it to the back of the store and out into the alley before they had regrouped. Looking to the left I ran, moving until I ducked behind some dumpsters. I could see I had boxed myself in and there was no where I could run. Why wasn’t I dead? I should be dead! They took out both sharks without being seen but somehow fate or luck still favored me and I was relatively untouched. Only this time perhaps much darker forces were keeping me alive.

Shaking my hand moved to the back pocket of my jeans to bring out the ear piece I had there. It had been a long time since I broadcast on the CVC. Knowing the Cult had been monitoring the CVC I had largely abandon those channels the last few weeks. Pushing the piece into my ear and turning it on and I broke into a speech, “Chyram calling out there. Calling to anyone listening! The fish are down. Repeat the fish are down and I’m trapped. The robes are here and they are coming. Repeat they are coming and I will hold out as long as I can. This is Chyram calling, if anyone is local, contact Alcatraz, pass the word. Make sure that Alcatraz hears, this is Chyram and I’m being taken by the robes. Make sure that Malkoris,” I looked up into the hooded face of a man with a white painted skull across his expression. He grinned at me and briefly my thoughts focused on the fact that he needed to brush his teeth. The rotten appearance of his mouth suited the sour smells from the dumpster I had taken refuge behind. Frozen in place I could only stare as he brought up the rifle butt and smashed it into my face. Everything went black.

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 have a limited skill set just happens that the skills I have gathered have been serving me well since the dead started to walk the Earth. Traditionally those skills should be such as scavenging, or shooting a gun. Perhaps skills with fixing machines or farming would have served me equally well but all those skills I possess either in limited fashion or not at all. I cannot farm and while I have scavenged enough to keep alive I’m hardly a master at finding food and supplies. Fortunately for Terry Fox’s safe house Malkoris keeps finding ways to keep our larder full. I cannot fix a car and my skills at changing a flatten tire are questionable. How lucky it is then that the world is full of abandon vehicles rusting away by the side of the road who might smell a bit ripe and might cage a zee or two but are still serviceable. I can’t seem to hold onto nice things, for example that incredible SUV that Tenda Foot went out of his way to get for me. While I’ve killed many a zee I’d hardly claim to be a sharpshooter and instead favor the spray and pepper until they stop moving fashion of shooting. So what skills do I bring to the table of the living among the dead?

Quick wits, insane luck or blessed by fate, and crazy ideas. None of those sounds particularly useful if they aren’t combined with the other skills but I have one last ace up my sleeve. Somehow I usually manage to convince others to go along with my ideas and so far it hasn’t cost anyone their life. That might be part of the reason they keep doing the things I suggest. We needed out of the building but all exits were entrenched with the dead hitting the walls or pushing against the doors to enter. What they needed was bait, something to draw them out and that was what I wanted to give them. When I presented the idea I could see the look of doubt in the Bluetone Production member’s faces. To my relief it was a Shark that quickly spoke up and agreed to be the one placing his life in danger. He pointed out rightly so that we only had one functioning bike at the moment after all.

As a group we headed to the roof gathering up what supplies we could along the way. Once there measurements were taken for the gap in the alley between Bluetone and the next building. My suggestion had been to find what we could in timber within the building but Jammer recommended something sturdier without rot, like a ladder. Several were carried up, large ladders normally used for tasks like changing light bulbs and fixing ceiling panels. Laid across the gap we tied down the ladder on our side and turned to our volunteer “bait”. “Sharkbait, ohh, ha ha,” I muttered under my breath as I helped tie ropes around my companion in case this went horribly wrong and the ladders fell.

I heard him laugh and grumble back quietly, “really Chyram, ‘A Finding Nemo’ reference? You really are a nerd sometimes.” I blushed and grinned back, nervous. This was my idea, but the risk was primarily his. If it worked the path will be clear for me and my other guardian who would slip out to go secure the dish for the station. Moreover it was going to have to work twice, both to get us out of the radio station and to clear a path to let us back in. Certain now that he wouldn’t fall into the zee horde we were preparing, we strapped a small speaker to his back. I stood back and watched as my idea went into place breath held.

It had started with a really stupid idea. How do you move something that is stubborn and single minded? Something as stubborn as a donkey – how do you move a donkey? You dangle a carrot using a long stick and a rope dangling in front of the beast’s face. Slowly he lowered himself off the side after tying off the rope at the midpoint in the ladder, until he dangled off the ladder suspended between two buildings. In theory if the ladder fell he would hit the side of the building and we’d pull him back up. In theory he should be completely safe. Lone Wolf peered over the side and turned to give the thumbs up, he was in place. Thomas took off in a run to get the speaker playing the station’s music, drawing the eyes of the zees upwards. Fresh meat, right there, just out of reach, spread the word you damned corpses!

I hesitated before approaching the side, peering down as the music roared beneath me. From below the smell or rot carried upwards on the breeze overtook my senses and I had to force back a gag. The alley was starting to swell with the dead. With some worry I could see the first problem in my plan. The alley was a choke point, a narrow passage. The zees with lesser strength were being pushed down and trampled, crushed beneath the weight of those stronger that climbed upon their backs to reach for him. In a way they were building their own ladder up towards him. My driver growled, “I checked the front, it’s clearing out, we better go, we don’t want to give them too much time to build upon that hill they have going.”

Together we rushed for the stairs and headed for the front doors where we’d be let out. It was a really stupid idea. Why were we doing it? Oh right, nobody had a better one. At least this way some of the dead should be mangled beyond mobility. It was a crappy way to thin the herd, but it was something.

In the lobby he prepped his bike even as Thomas shoved into my hands the instructions on how to remove the dish safely. We were going to need something bigger than a bike to bring it back but the radio station across town would either have vehicles or we would find one closer to the location. Climbing on back of the bike with the tools in my backpack I held to the guardian shark. I couldn’t see anything past his bigger frame so everything was reduced to smells and sounds. The doors banged open. The rotting smell of the dead wafted into the lobby as guns cracked taking down stragglers on the front door. The bike surged forward with the smell of gas and exhaust, squealing tires upon the lobby floor. I heard the crunch as we went over at least one body lying upon the entrance outside the front doors even as they slam behind us. The bike thumped down the steps and peeled off down the street even as I heard a loud bang and clanging sound. It sounded a lot like a ladder falling and then following it were gun shots.

My hand came up to the headset Thomas had given me and I pressed the button barking, “report!”

“Ladder down, the dead climbing up it. Hostiles taken care off. Fishboy is back on the roof, ladder recovered for your return.” Jammer’s voice was sharp in my ear, clearly busy with what he was doing. I crinkled my nose, at the thought of the return trip. I got us out and nobody not already dead was killed. This couldn’t work twice to get us back in?

Few straggler zees were seen on the drive across town. Those we saw were old rot, nothing new from the cult and easy enough to avoid. When we reached the station entrance was going to be easy. It wasn’t that the doors were open but rather they had been torn off their hinges. I looked up to the roof where the dish was sitting and grimly brought out my shotgun. Spray, not precision, and as such my friend had best stay at my back. Together we entered the building, seeing signs of looting and a few corpses that no longer moved.

We took the stairs, heading up slowly as lighting was bad within the passage. I took the lead flashlight tapped to my shotgun, preferring to have the bigger man at my back watching for anything that followed us in. It was by some miracle that nothing prevented us from reaching the roof, though more than once we passed a floor where we could hear the dead trapped on the floor. Despite the situation and how serious it was, my focus was off and when we reached the roof we were nearly surprised by the dead man who was sun baked and brittle. My shotgun blast sent his body in many directions, mostly away from us. It also agitated the dead below within the building. “Damn it Chyram? What the hell is wrong with you? Next time I take the lead on the way down!”

I shook my head and snapped back, “No you’ll be carrying the dish. It’s too heavy for me. Don’t worry about it, I got this, secure that door.”  What was wrong with me? I kept going back to what I learned from Bluetone and the attack of the cult. That was the boldest move I had seen from them yet. They hadn’t wanted to leave behind any survivors as witnesses. Soon as Bluetone hit the airwaves again we were going to be kicking the hornet’s nest. I shook my head to refocus. Without that dish all my scattered thoughts were immaterial. Looking up I started to climb the tower soon followed by the Shark.

We used chains to secure the dish so it wouldn’t fall and be damaged and then I set to disconnecting it. The wind on the tower ripped at our clothes and toyed with taking my tools from my hands. Right towards the end the instructions on paper were torn away and sent off the building into the air. “Damn it!” I glared at what was left, mostly certain I knew the remaining steps. Wisely, likely anticipating my growing frustration the Shark said nothing but kept watch below and on the street from the tower. Finally, some skinned knuckles and one cut thumb later the dish came free and we lowered it down to the roof. It wasn’t going to fit through the stairwell which gave us the next challenge. Again over the side of the roof was the only answer we could think of. Together we strained as we lowered the dish as far as we could. Despite the length of the chain we had on the roof it was still a half a story up when we reached the end. “I don’t think we can lift it back up.”

“I don’t think we have a choice,” he replied. “Even if we do bring it back up, how else will we bring it down? We’re going to have to drop it and hope they can repair any damage we do.”  Our eyes met, mine human, his dark and cold. I nodded my head once and we both let go watching the chain snake over the side and fall down below. We moved to the edge of the building and looked down below. It had only been a four story building. It only fell a half a story. It can’t be too bad can it? I could see that the antenna was bent and the falling chain hitting the dish probably wasn’t doing much good to the body of the equipment.

Shaking my head I grumbled, “Come on, we still need to get a truck.” The passage down the stairs was more trouble than entering. The third floor had caved in their door. Not only were their zees waiting for us on the other side of the door to the roof but the caved door was a hazard we had to climb over to get down the stairs below. As we fought our way down the smell became more intense for me and I had my shirt up over my nose. Worse for the Shark, the rotting blood was giving him a feral edge and I wasn’t comfortable with the wide grin he had by the time we exited. I could have wept in relief at how quickly we found a truck with keys. Nervous of my companion I insisted upon riding in the bed of the truck to keep the dish secure. My hand hit the headset again, “we’re on our way back, and will be twenty minutes in this traffic.” Look a joke, I must be in good spirits! “Will you be ready for us? We’ll come around back to the garage doors but we’re going to need help to bring in the dish.”

“We’ll be ready” chirped the response and I smacked my hand on the glass of the back window three times to signal the driver to go.  Bracing myself I kept the shotgun up as we headed back for the station. Thomas is going to kill us when he sees the state of the dish.

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.
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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