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Ashur Travelers into New Mexico coming up old US-62 tell tales of strange lights seen near the abandoned town of Marfa. Come the night, the horizon flares with ghostly orbs, and the roars of demons thunder across the desert; that, and the dead that keep turning up within miles of the town, have caused most to give it a wide berth. One family, grieving over the loss of their child to the demons, has petitioned the Texas Rangers to venture forth and cleanse the place.

That is what brings this group south down the Texas highway. Ashur's presence is natural; he has made a name for himself across the state, hunting down Reaver and mutant alike. He sought Eden out for her technological know-how -- scouting reports from the Rangers suggest Reaver presence in the area, a group that had raided an old Enclave facility and made off with ill-gotten goods.

As for Finley? She's lucky to have escaped with her life! In the middle of the night, while making camp on the side of the road, a few traders she was with saw those distant lights.. and when the howling began, it was only a matter of time until the Reavers came, the machine men with their beastly bikes, slaughtering and pillaging to their heart's content. The carrion still pick at the dead when Ashur and his wife crest a nearby hill and survey the wreckage of wagons and brahmin.

--

"Behold, mine," the Legionnaire rumbles, raising a hand and pointing down to where the rising sun glitters like ten thousand bloody rubies upon the asphalt. "Marfa lies further on, but the cruel shadow of the metal Profligates rules all the road. Fools; the other traders have taken long ways around, instead."
Eden "to be fair," Eden says with a grin, "not everyone has you to protect them on the short way. I wouldn't come here without you. well. probably not. Should we check this place or just keep going?"
Finley It was Finley's kind of luck--the caravan being attacked while she was out drinking and pretending to scavenge. Yeah, she might be alive? But alone on these roads, unprotected and with ruined supplies? Fat chance she'd make it very far. So the dark haired girl had plopped down amidst the wreckage, her back pressed against a turned over wagon. A sawed off shotgun sat across her lap--loaded and at the ready. The voices of Ashur and Eden carry across the wind but Finley doesn't do much but steadily bite down on a piece of half-stale jerky. Listening. When it seems they're not crazed machine-people, she'll stand and peer around the corner of the wagon. "Nah, we were idiots." She'll call out, dark eyes narrowed. "Wanted a quick profit over safety."
Ashur "The state has not been pacified," Ashur explains, beginning the slow walk down the hill's gentle slope. "When we broke the Horde at the Alamo, the survivors fled to the dark cracks and became like beasts; and in the space they left, all the raiders and wild-eyed militants swept in." O'erhead, the rising sun peers through a curtain of thin clouds, scraped like butter across a pale sky. "These are hungry roads, now, and all upon them beware."

A chill wind kicks through his cloak, and in the shadow it casts treads his ever-faithful hound, all black and gold like his horned Master.

Yes, horns -- Ashur is, as always, wearing the mask of Mars, metal-faced and crowned in golden horns, sweeping horizontal like a bull's. Between its impassive face, the shimmer of his white-gold cloak, and the massive bulk of his armor, he's an inhuman figure.. but Eden seems calm enough, so perhaps Finley won't run away. Ashur pauses and looks to her, a mere three steps away from the crumbling lip of the road, feet crunching brown grass and rock.

"Ave, woman," he intones, and looks away from her, down yonder toward Marfa. "How many?"

A faint roar sounds in the distance. A familiar one.
Eden "are youhurt?" eden asks as she pulls out her p90 and starts scanning the area for anything moving. "im a bit of a medic, and well... you can see what he is, but hes good"
Finley Half-hidden by the overturned wagon, Finley takes a moment to study the newcomers. Ashur gets the longest stare--her dark eyes sweeping over his metal mask and fancy cloak. They linger on those horns and the flicker to Eden with a questioning look. Almost as if she's puzzled why the women isn't afraid. "Darrow." Finley finally says, breaking her silence. Stepping out from the wagon, shot gun slung over her shoulder, the petite girl takes a few careful steps towards them. There is tenseness to the set of her shoulders and the girl's grip on her gun is firm, knuckles going white. "One survivor." There is a casual gesture to herself. "Don't know how many robot psychos. I was out scooting when they hit the camp." Looking towards Eden, she'll offer a shrug. "Completely fine, miss. Wasn't here to see any fighting."
Ashur The horizon flickers with some distant heathaze; the air twists, and turns, and upon it is birthed some ethereal mirage, vivid sclera, blinking with no lids, and this motley crew finds itself in the sight of that disembodied vision. The roar is louder, now, and it is a frightful thing, setting even the earth to rubble-strewing shivers.

The eyes grow. Closer, still, bigger, made of a hundred littler lights.

"It comes," Ashur notes, a calm menace in the behemoth's metal-tainted voice. He lurches forward, head down, shoulders squared, sloping with a prisonyard shuffle, and leverages one of his power armor's pauldrons against the side of one overturned wagon. With a grunt, and a spray of dirt, and then an awful crumbling grind, he tilts it back onto the road and then over once more, until the structure of it serves as obstruction and barrier in the road's center.

A moment later, and he's hefted a dead brahmin over a shoulder, and thrown it down in a similar place, the little mountain of two-headed meat oozing blood into the cracks.

"The wagon will be your cover," he instructs, marking the tips of his horns with the corpse's vitae. "Kill them here or die."
Finley Wide eyed and more than a little concerned, Finley watches as Ashur rights the overturned wagon. Then sling a dead brahmin into place not far from it. The dark haired girl can feel her jaw wanting to drop--between that feat and the coming storm. Sucking in a sharp breath, she'll unshoulder her shotgun and give a quick nod to the other two. In the moment, she's not confident with words. They'll all end up a jumble of curses. It's a short run back to her old hiding place behind the caravan (and as far as possiable from the dead body). Pressing her lithe frame against the make-shift cover, she'll poke her head out long enough to aim.
Eden Ashur's brute strength is no longer surprising to Eden.. but she can't help but admire it. But then its all business. ducking behind the Wagon, Eden checks than her weapon is fully loaded and ready. She is glad she has the stimpak in her bag, just in case
Ashur That distant rumble of an engine and the blinking eye-light grow as the Reaver barrels down the highway. The wind whips through his hair, a tangled mass of wires; his limbs are strange amalgams of steel and rust and blinking lights, hollowed insides and screw-tightened joints; that he once was human is seen only in his eyes, that peer from plated sockets with startling intensity, and the pulse of brain seen in a crack that runs through his reinforced skull. His armor is a jacket of salvaged power armor pieces, tied around him with thick cables.

His bike is every bit as put-together as he is, shaking and sputtering. He controls it with inhuman focus, literally plugged into it with his cybernetic augmentations -- it responds to his thoughts as much as his physical movements. He has returned to the scene of last night's attack to once more peruse the wreckage in daylight, without his motor-mouthed compadres.

When he notices the gathered, he lets out a choking laugh. "Heavenly Ampere, help me flow into my enemy!" He revels, raising his left hand, some awful minigun serving as his arm. The barrels spin and burn red-hot as bullets tear through air and wagon with equal ease.

As all that happens, Ashur has thrown himself forward, crashing into the bike with an enormously loud crash. It and the rider topple to the side, and he's slowed, for a moment, but not down yet. Ashur bellows, "Shoot the bike!", and tries to hold onto it, slowing it with the power armor's augmented musculature, even as the rubber grinds the asphalt and sends up smoke. He'll slip out of his grasp any time now..
Finley A bandit with a gun is scary enough. A robot on a motorbike with a mini-gun for an arm? That's far above Finley's paygrade. She's still trying to aim her shotgun--and not shoot Ashur in the process--when Finley feels a sharp pain. The ring of bullets clanking against metal buzzes in her ears and dully, the dark haired girl peeks down at herself. The antique leathers she'd half inherited, half-scavanged have been torn through. A circle shaped, dark stain starts to seep out--radiating from her bullet wound. "Fuck!" She'll curse, the words muttered under her breath. It's with shaking hands and gritted teeth that Finley takes a revenge shot. No one is too surprised when it misses.
Eden Eden knows what's coming. after a year this is starting to be familiar. Loaded and ready, she stands out from behind the wagon to take her shot. "this might blow up" she yells, having no idea if ge was listening. the girl would be fine behind the wagon. She gives a lil grin, aims, and fires away. It's a damn shame to ruin a nice bike, but here it goes.

boom. really big boom. much bigger than expected. "oh shit" escapes before she jumps headfirst behind the wagon. ok, maybe she didnt know what to expect. "
Ashur "Bitch of Satansoft! Unhand my holy chariot!" The machine man roars in anger, vocal chords long since atrophied to nothing, pressing a hand to his throat to activate his speaker there. He revs the engine and the bike screams and burns rubber, its acrid odor permeating the smokey air; moments later, Ashur's grip on the bike slips, awkward as it was, and he begins to race off again --

But then the girls open fire, and in a stroke of fortune Eden's literal hailstorm of bullets punctures the engine block and strikes the internal power core. As it begins to overheat, smoke pours from every crack like fire under the earth. The metal turns white-hot and, in an instant, a grand nova rises to engulf all in searing light; avert your eyes, lest they be burned, and feel the terrible heat rush close. For a moment, Finley can see the initial shafts, and understands she's in no position to escape --

And then the great black-armored bull is before her, the heat and the light washing around him, the force of it buckling him to a knee as he holds to a wheel's axle tight enough to shatter it. Face unseen beneath the mask, he tilts his head, looking to Eden. "Careful," he mutters, voice strained..

And then the Reaver, furious, near seven feet of cruel metal, has smashed him in the side away from the wagon, and unloaded a beam of molten slag into the Hellfire.

The next few moments are chaotic. Ashur pushes through the bullets. He drops low. He tackles a leg, and with a great shout rips it off at the joint, exposed wires sparking at the air -- the Reaver drops, and the lug's muscular arms are around it, squeezing, pinning.

"Kill him!"
Finley Bleeding from her left torso, Finley is leaning heavily against the wagon's side. Through a nasty combo of pain, inexperience, and the chaos of the fight--she doesn't realize an explosion is coming until it's too late. Everything seems to stop. To slow down so she can see the flare of light brusts towards her, flames reaching as if eager to lick at her skin. It feels like an eternity as she drops to her knees, hands clutching at the sparse grass and dirt. As if hunker down would help!

Resigned, she waits. Then like a flash, Ashur is in front of her--holding a bike wheel like a shield. It's a long few second before the dust, debris, and flames die down and Finley can't help but thank the masked man for each of them. SIlently, of course. He's off to tackling the robot before she can properly express any gratitude, ripping into it's leg. The dark haired girl can only drag herself to her feet, aim her gun, and shoot again. This time one of her bullets hits true! Doesn't seem to do much but she's not complaining--too busy starting to reload to care.
Ashur The cybernetic monstrosity wails and gnashes its teeth. Unhinged jaw, wild eyes, throwing its body back and forth, back and forth, the creature now known as LSD-5, once Ellis D. of Utah, fills the air with a static-like shriek of pure fury. Augmented muscles split and spark as the strength of thew overcomes machine, the monster unable to overcome the brutal force of Ashur's clutches. The bullets rip into it; they break wires, microchips, fracture plates of armor, and at the end when it hunches over Ashur drives a hand through its back and plunges through the decrepit, half-rotten remnants of its human heart.

It slumps to the ground, muttering, in its last, "St. Di Ode, transfer my spirit to the fields of Ethree."

He -- it -- collapses.

Ashur turns, and hrms, drawing his white-gold cloak about him. It wholly conceals his armor, leaving him looking like a snowy mountain peak. He cants his head back. "These.. things are rarely by themselves; it must have come to do a sweep of the caravan, and see if it missed anything. The rest of its group will still be in Marfa."

When he turns to look at Marfa, a shot of electricity surges through the machine man. A series of flashing lights awaken on its extremities, and it rises, hissing and awash in blue sparks, stumbling forward to wrap hands around Eden's throat and strangle the life from her!
Finley Reload. Shoot. That's all that Finley has time to think about. It's almost a reflex at this point--aim the gun and pull the trigger then duck back behind the wagon. When the robot man goes down, Finley doesn't process it at first. Her gun is still up and her hands are fumbling for more bullets. Ashur's voice bounces around in the back of her head, overriden by panicked survival mode. In the end--it pays off. Because that thing hops back to life and starts reaching for Eden. "Can these guys even die?" She'll yell, not expecting much of an answer. The shotgun is aimed again, with nervous hands and a sharp exhale.
Ashur A red rage boils Ashur's mind away when he sees his bride strike the ground. His power armor opens with a pneumatic hiss, dragging his great white-gold cloak up; the bull of a man lumbers out, bronze flesh slick with sweat, wrapped in naught but a loose-fitting toga that cleaves to the chiseled angles of his figure like a jealous lover. Wild-eyed, nostrils flared, breathing so heavily he sounds like a rabid beast, he storms upon the Reaver barefoot and barehanded.

"You filthy, degenerate cocksucker," he snarls, pushing right through what few bullets the Reaver manages to fire before he's on him. "Keep your filthy fucking hands off my fucking property, tin man!"

The ground shakes as three hundred some-odd pounds of beastmode tramples the cybernetic giant, tackling it off Eden and sending both to the ground. In an instant, Ashur's mounted it, a knee on either side, his hands the hammer to the anviled face of the bastard beneath him.

"Don't you--" Splat, crack, the metal skull-plate caves and deforms under the weight of his bleeding knuckles.

"Ever touch--" The thing's eyes, still human, Ashur stabs his fingers into the sockets and rips them out, the optical nerves threaded with fine wires and sending out a gout of blood when he severs them.

"Or look at--" He crushes the eyeballs, the ooze dripping between his fingers, and clasps his hands to either side of the thing's blind dumb head and begins to smash it against the rocks, until the cyber-brain inside is slush and scarlet porridge.

"What's mine!"

Again, and again, and again, lost to a possessive and berserk fury, Ashur pounds his head until there isn't a head anymore.
Finley When you've spent your whole life reading books, slacking off, and bartering with merchants--it's hard to get accustomed to gore. Which is to say that Finley watches Ashur tear into the robot-human hybrid with wide eyes. Her feet move without thinking, propelling her over to Eden. When she's within a few inches, the dark haired girl will stop. Her gaze flickers between Ashur and the wounded women, the man's words echo'ing in her head. "Am I...Uh? Allowed to help you, miss?" She'll ask, her voice hoarse and pained. One more glance is given towards the now pile of machine and pool. "Actually, hold on."

Stumbling off a few feet, Finley starts to choke. It's a good five minutes of gagging but she manges not to puke.
Eden Eden is hurt, but ok. she shakes off the feeling of stragulation and is glad she hot at least one shot in before Daddy had to rescue her. Slowly standing she starts to look Ashur over, take note of the new wounds she will have to work on. "sorry about the bike. bit more exploding than i thought"
Ashur After a solid minute of relentless brutality, Ashur rises up from the puddle of gore. He pants, hands bruised from striking the metal, knuckles torn, dripping red upon sand; his breath is a ragged, throaty thing, barely more than a growl, feral. Skin flush, teeth bared, he stares down at the dead, and spits on it. He turns, scuffs a heel, kicking dirt over the.. thing.

"Stay down this time," he snarls, "or I'll fuck you dead next, you worthless catamite."

There's a twitch in the limbs, but it's just errant electrical impulses. It is well and truly dead.

The bull turns, and stares down at the women, noticing their wounds. He huffs, pulls Eden by the hair with no gentleness, and presses a kiss to her mouth that leaves her lower lip bleeding, before pushing her back and stalking to his armor. He is in it once more, silent, cloaked, and walking back. "If you cannot walk, I will carry you. Otherwise.. come. Back north, to the Ranger's forward camp -- and then both of you will return to El Dorado. Eden, I want you to.. keep this machine man. Study him."

He hauls the remnants up over a shoulder.

"Move."

The gagging, the conversation, none of it matters to him.