Monday, November 11, 2013

Arrival: Gunshot Medicine & The Crowley

The strangest and most unexpected thing happened the following morning when Nicky woke up in suburbia. There came a ... knock ... on the door. Just a regular, yet insistent, knock. Naturally she went to the second floor window and peered down to see a guy in a black coat and jumper glancing up at the sky occasionally and knocking. She figured McCormack might have sent another one of his demonic flying buddies to come down and check up on her but as she was planning on a truce anyway, she wasn't too averse to it.

So long as he didn't stick around for too long.

Still, just in case she set up Rochelle to aim at him from the window and went down with Jack to open the door a crack. The man was agitated and requested he bet let inside due to what was flying in the air which had been attracted by the flaming rooftop he'd seen a night or so ago. Nicky was too proud to take the fall for that, and naturally assumed that the creatures had followed him when he'd flown down here, but she didn't accused him of such. Instead she let him in and looked up to see ten creatures that were a cross between an eagle and a taloned monkey. She eyed them with some hunger, much as a cat might eye a bird on the back lawn, but figured that ten might just be too many.

The stranger was a bit shocked that she'd be so eager to attack anything. Of course, he was a bit weird looking with his silver pentacle hanging from his neck, his death-aspected rings, black pants, and Gothic buckle-boots. He also wore eyeliner and black nail polish. He introduced himself as Johnny Star and even had a star tattooed by his temple.

Definitely a demon, she thought. No real scavenger would wear those boots. Or a Crowley - her enclave's term for wannabe occultists who like to look all tough despite its impracticality.

He told his story as someone who tended to go from society to society and that all of his stuff had been recently stolen at gunpoint so when he had seen them enter the building and saw their guns he figured he'd be better off taking his chances with them rather than go about unarmed by his lonesome.

The man had a British accent but he had the gift of the gab and his blarney that was half sarcasm, half information, was so hypnotic that Nicky told Jack to watch him so she could check out the windows for ambushers. It was an old trick to send in one distraction while the other thieves got ready to rob them but ... no such luck. It looked like he was legit -- or at least not connected to bandits and marauders.

They spent the day and night there and he kept up an almost constant stream of dialogue, poking Nicky, flirting with Rochelle, and occasionally referring to Jack who obviously didn't like him much. Rochelle seemed to think him funny, though, and thought he wasn't as sus as he seemed. Nicky was inclined to agree since he only registered as Mildly Sinful to her Scent of the Unrighteous. Obviously not a demon then. Perhaps a collaborator dropped down by her flying 'friend'?

She didn't accuse him, though. Let Johnny gather a bit more info on them before buggering off. That was fine.

He had no food, so she gave him one of her tin cans come dinner time. She also gave him water.

When they started off to complete the journey, she realised there was one way to get a further hint and offered him her fancy Merino socks which wicked sweat away from the skin and helped protect against blisters. It was an expensive gambit, but she felt it paid off when she saw that his feet weren't hardened like a proper salvager's from days of constant walking. Obviously more used to flight. She felt a bit guilty about giving a collaborator nice socks while Rochelle went without so she gave her other free pair to Rochelle. It was then that she realised something she should have known all along.

She was too generous. Weirdly generous. In part it was due to a deep conviction (Virtue of Faith) that she could always get more of what she needed. That she would never go without. But there was also something else. A strange urge to see someone else smile and feel the warm glow of their gratitude. Why should that brief glow matter more than her own comfort? That she couldn't answer.

It was while she was mulling that over that they came across a man who'd been heading down the street. The man muttered and grumbled at them to go away so she decided to sidle around to go through backyards rather than set him off. Some people were crazy. Others boobytrapped. She felt no need to push her luck. The man seemed increasingly agitated, though, and Johnny said he looked sick so she offered the stranger her penicillin.

There she goes ... being weirdly generous again.

The stranger grumbled that it might be worth a shot and he started limping over to them, hat down and collar up. Trouble was that the inky black tendril still oozed out when he got close to them. The stranger seemed a bit more panicky at that and as he tilted his head back she saw that the tendril was attached to a growth hidden just beneath the skin. Not wanting to have to shoot the boobytrapped man if she could help it, she side stepped twice and shot at the tendril so that the bullet if it missed (and it did) would go past him rather than through him. The tendril reacted, bloating and twisting, and more of the growth seemed to move and warp as it tried to take control of his body and puppet him. As it did so, it revealed a mass of itself that should normally remain hidden and she shot it right in that mass with an exceptional success despite her -6 penalty.

The growth oozed out through the hole and the man started grabbing parts of it and jerking it out from beneath his skin before hitting the asphalt, dying. Nicky commanded Rochelle to stand back before kneeling down in the hot zone (aka biohazard zone) surrounded by gunk and blood. She pulled out her first aid kit and told Jack to go get some gladwrap from a nearby building. Jack just seemed confused so Johnny ran in with him to get it. The wounds seemed a bit gaping and Nicky wanted to avoid getting any gauze stuck in there. Nicky also commanded Rochelle to keep an eye out for further monsters.

It was touch and go for awhile there but Nicky saved the man's life, sewing up what she can and using gladwrap and gauze to cover the wounds. She then got Jack to help her move him out of the goop, cut off the contaminated clothing, rinsed off what she could of the blood and gunk, wrapped him in a blanket that she had sent Johnny to fetch and then took him inside a nearby house. The victim seemed stable enough but dehydrated so she gave him a little water when he was awake enough to sip it.

They spent the night in the house and Nicky learnt a bit more about a subway society and the 'Crowley's' history. Johnny's mother's abusive boyfriends, his trip to England at the age of 12, being beaten up in school. A heartwarming story of misery and ... misery. He sort of wore his sob story like armor.

Nicky hoped he wouldn't stick around and when he made a joke about their little team, she gave him the brush off. She didn't understand Johnny, why he was here, or why he'd consider going off with them rather than getting dropped off at the nearest society - especially as the one she'd mentioned visiting was a brothel. He didn't seem the adventuring type or the heroic type or ... well, anything but 'in it for himself'. Rochelle disagreed. She felt that Johnny was looking for change and meaning in his life. Naturally their conversation regarding Johnny didn't incude Johnny.

The following day Nicky made a deal with Johnny: Stay here and look after the old guy and she'd give him a Colt 1911. She didn't mention she had no ammo for it.

Johnny didn't seem pleased about being left with the guy but he accepted.

She gave Johnny her spare water bottle and some of that super-food that Bob had given her in exchange for the Amulet of Darella. Nicky also set up a water capture device in case it rained that was crud on paper (one success on the design stage) but great in practice (eight successes to build it). They then headed off to find Ground Zero.

No comments:

Post a Comment