|Ashur|| The fall of the Legion saw its men sow the wind and disperse; in their wake, many old camps and fortifications were left abandoned, taken up by bandits, settlers, and other various sorts.
But not all the Legion has fallen. Some hold-outs remain, kept together by men with strong wills and convictions, and charisma enough to keep the old chains of command binding -- this camp is one such, set upon a high hill overlooking the long stretch of I-10 that connects Arizona and New Mexico. The base of the hill is ringed with a palisade, and long trenches have been dug around them to break up charges and disadvantage attackers.. but the palisade is in disrepair, a handful of stakes fallen and rotted away, and the ditches themselves look half-done, incomplete, shallow, and not connecting. Within that ring, many tents are spread, most abandoned.
At the hill's flattened summit, with a commanding view of the area, is the command tent, forest green tarp spread as large as any five of the other tents, and protected by a smaller, better-maintained second palisade.
Here, a man known as Nahilus, former Centurion of the Legion, has created himself a little slice of paradise. Here, women taken from New Rome during the chaos dwell. Here, some half a hundred former Legionnaires still live, raiding nearby settlers, tending the farmlands within the palisade, and trading, now and again, with groups on I-80.
Here, a group of heroes gather, tucked in with a trading caravan moving west. A covered wagon, brahmin-pulled, stocked with trade goods, with Daniel at the helm, the sole driver.
Tied together by a rope around their waists, and made to walk in front with the beasts of burden, are Eden, Mafuane, and Fern - ratty-clothed, unarmed, unarmored.
Slaver Daniel's gift to Nahilus, to earn his trade with the compound and safe passage on I-10.
The walls loom ahead along the dusty road.
|Daniel||Daniel looks remarkably comfortable up there on the wagon, a hand-rolled cigar dangling from the corner of his mouth. Every now and then, just for the look of it, he yells at the women to keep up or be dragged in a bored voice. Just another day in the life of a slaver. He encourages his brahmin with a long slice of wood, smacking their rumps whenever they begin to slow. The rest of the time, he hums the tune to 'Butcher Pete.'|
|Mafuane||The short bronzed woman was in the back, her feet barely able to keep up and she's at a mild jog, advertising her womanly assets. Her hair wagged and thwarted her back, and her face remains nervous and terrified of what they've planned. She hardly knows these people but signed up anyway.|
|Fern|| Ratty clothes? OK! Rope around waist.. Err, alright. Pretend to be a captured slave?! Fuck. Fern's face says it all. The teen is annoyed and a little pissed, which shows in that scowl of her eyebrows and twitched pout of her mouth. She's not too impressed, but she must trust those behind her enough to play along and go with it. Her feet pad along the ground and she keeps her chin high, mostly 'cause her hair's falling into her eyes now and then and it's pretty damn hard to brush hair away with your hands when they're tied up.
As Fern walks between the other women she glances back now and then. Eden? Cool. New girl? Someone shorter than her? Double cool. Fern amuses herself with looking the other two over, and shooting Daniel a 'If this doesn't work I'm gonna kill you' look. With a little sigh, Fern looks forwards again and keeps walking along, and she can't help but also hum that Butcher Pete tune.
|Eden||Eden's only real annoyance is not having her gun handy. She real likes it! had it fixedup all special and everything. if it gets mixed up with stuff and lost, she is gonna be pissed!! Other than that? This is fine. Hopes she wont get a sunburn|
|Ashur|| Ashur snoozes in the back of the wagon. He is set behind a series of crates and barrels, covered in tarp; a prolonged inspection of the goods will eventually reveal him.
As the palisade draws closer, a voice erupts. "Halt! You trespass on roads belonging to Centurion Nahilus. State your business."
They'd been spotted from afar with binoculars, and three armed Legionnaires are already on the side of the road. Two have spears drawn, aimed at the wagon; the third, with seniority, is bearing a nice-looking revolver.
|Daniel|| "I hear you boys like whores," replies Daniel with an equable smile. He rolls his cigar from one corner of his mouth to the other, then leans over, grabs the rope tied to the three women, and gives it a yank. "I got some purified water and tobacco too, some other shit, but this here's the real bee's knees. Look at the little brown one, fellas. She even sounds funny."
His banter is casual, his smile friendly, his eyes cautious. He keeps his gaze leveled on the man with the revolver, apart from a friendly glance at the other two men. "Look, but don't touch," he adds in a warning tone. "Not until your boss takes a gander."
|Fern||Fern slows to a stop when the men appear. She glances to Eden and then back to Daniel when he speaks, and she looks somewhat approvingly at him. Good acting. As she glances to the front again she shifts her weight from one foot to the other, watching silently. She can hold her tongue when it's needed!|
|Ashur||The veteran Legionnaire steps in close and looks from one woman to the other. He inspects them like chattel, head to toe - and at one point, Daniel's warning be damned, he reaches out to grasp Fern's chin and tilt her face up. "Open your mouth, girl, you got all your teeth? This one's got red eyes, stinks like piss and weed. You trying to poison the Centurion with chem-ridden whores?"|
|Mafuane||Daniel's comment made Mafuane mumble something in her native tongue while looking down, not wanting the men to see her face if she could help it. But the armed men inspect her anyways.|
|Fern||Fern tenses up when she sees what the men are about to do. Inspection!? No one even mentioned that! Her jaw tightens as she waits for it to be her turn, and when she's asked to open her mouth she looks like she's about to spit at the man holding her chin. Instead she reins it in, gives him a nasty glare, then grunts, "Yeah, I got all my teeth." She opens her mouth to show him, and then closes it before she loses a few. She starts to breathe a bit heavier, and her bound hands turn to fists. She manages to keep her mouth shut, somehow.|
|Daniel||"You telling me she won't clean up nice? Look, spray her down, keep her away from the weed for a few days, she'll be fine. That's prime meat. Young, too. She's got months in her." Daniel's tone is easily as callous as the Legionnaire's; he sighs, shaking his head.
The bantering tone returns, perfectly friendly, as he adds, "Look, unless you're the guy who I'm negotiating with, stop trying to drive the price down. If you're not interested, I can take 'em to a Raider camp I know." He reaches for the reins of his brahmins. "No sweat off my back. I can keep 'em alive for another week or two."
|Eden||Eden see trouble brewing. Fern kept her mouth shut, thank god, but maybe she isn't the best one to poke at. "Why not ask what we can do instead?" She says with a smile. Hopefully a distracting one.|
|Ashur|| "Quiet, bitch," the Legionnaire tells Eden without even looking at her, shoving Fern back when the inspection ends. He wipes his hand off on his shoulderpad as if merely touching a stoner is disgusting. After a moment, he nods to the other two men, and their postures relax. "Hand us your weapons. You will not be armed within the camp; they'll be returned to you after the Centurion has browsed your wares."
They wait for compliance.
|Daniel||Daniel considers for a few silent moments, gazing down at the Legionnaire. And then he smiles around that cigar, reaching down and unbuckling his gunbelt. He offers over the belt, which has his 10MM holstered on it. And then he reaches down beside himself, picks up the machete, and offers that over as well. "No problem, man. I'm all about peace and love." His scarred face shows no sign of irony.|
|Mafuane||Mafuane stays silent, glad they've stopped for a moment of rest at least, but still uneasy around the men here.|
|Eden||Eden shrugs, slightly insulted, but at least they aren't picking on anyone now. Her thought return to her PDW. And Ashur. And the whole plan. And then she keeps worrying. She looks up at Daniel, who is keeping cool and hopes for some sort of cue.|
|Fern||Fern gives a little sneer when she's pushed back, and though she looks as though she'd love to say something she doesn't. Look how much she's grown! She waits to see if they make it past security.|
|Ashur|| Weapons taken, the trio of soldiers escorts the group through the camp. Closer now, the makeup of the palisade can be seen; the actual wooden spikes, while noticeable, are a minority, and the majority of it is scrap metal drawn between each pole. The gate itself is a large sheet of reinforced sheet metal attached to ropes, raised and lifted by two soldiers on platforms up above. There's a little bump as the group crosses over, and then they're inside.
Once in, the gate is raised behind them, retreat closed off. The brahmin moo idly, pushing forward and stopping at a patch of wild grass that's especially delicious to chew on. Daniel and the girls can see the camp's interior now - some fifteen tents, each housing a few Legionnaires normally, a small stream for water wrapping around the hill's west side, high dark stone cliff-faces bordering, and the higher hill within the center.
The flag of the Legion, a golden bull on a red field, flies on a massive pole nearby.
And opposite the tents, stretching across the wide expanse of fenced-in land, are fields. A few soldiers work and labor at them..
As do a rather healthy number of conspicuously male slaves.
"Stay here. The Centurion will be down to see you shortly."
The veteran soldier moves off. The two recruits remain behind to guard.
|Daniel||"So, you boys had your vacation yet this year?" Daniel smiles at the two recruits, perfectly placid, but his eyes are a touch colder than they were a few moments before. He glances around at the slaves curiously, consideringly. "You've been busy," he says thoughtfully. "All these fellas taken from New Rome?" He looks over at the three women. "Hey. Pop a squat while we wait. I don't want you three dead on your feet when the Centurion gets here."|
|Fern||They made it. Sorta.. and holy shit, look at everything. Fern's eyes are wide as she enters the area, looking here and there at everything. How are they going to get out of this!? The girl takes a deep breath and keeps on keepin' on, only stopping once they're where they need to be. Fern will happily sit down and wait.|
|Ashur|| The Centurion descends. Those familiar with the Legion will recognize the dress of an experienced officer; his armor is a mix of war trophies: a pauldron and gauntlet from a set of T-45d, plated metal leg-guards, the helmet of a supermutant brute, and a handful of leather pieces taken from a Ranger.
He treats them all with the casual superiority of a man used to being obeyed and in total control of his surroundings. He does not negotiate so much as dictate terms; he has his men do a casual sweep of the goods, demanding from Daniel a list of items, and they merely give it a brief look-over, identifying the choice bits of tobacco and purified water in front.
The Legion, as a rule, was anti-chems.. but these are darker times, and a bit of assistance can help keep the men in line. When Daniel reveals there's even a good bit of alcohol, well, the Centurion brightens right up.
The girls are treated with less dignity than the crates. The Centurion checks them head to toe with eyes and hands, manhandling them, speaking never to them but to Daniel about them - questions about health, where he got them, etc.
Eventually, though, everything is taken care of. Daniel is paid a small stipend of caps, well below market price, but permitted to pass on I-10 and trade as he sees fit, given a stamped notice indicating the Centurion's permission. After that, he is invited to remain the night, as the sun is setting, and travel in the dark is unsafe.
A bit of carousing, a bit of bumping elbows, and many of the soldiers will eat and drink their fill.
The slaves will not.
It is late at night. The girls have been brought to the Centurion's tent an hour ago. Most of the soldiery is sleeping the booze off, now.
|Daniel||Daniel has a few sips here and there, but the 'slaver' is keeping a clear head tonight. He jokes around with the recruits, tells a few tall tales about women he's known and places he's seen, and in general makes himself agreeable. Until men start to fall asleep. He sits atop the wagon for awhile longer, waiting, making certain before he acts. And then he hops down, walks to the back of the wagon past all the unloaded goods, and hops up.
Pulling a few crates aside, he crouches down and speaks into the darkness. "Hey, big man," the mercenary murmurs softly. "It's time to party down. Most of the Legion's passed out or shit-faced, the girls are with the Centurion, and I got a feeling that if we can free some of the slaves, we can kill every last motherfucker here." He draws out his own assault carbine and modified .32, strapping them on casually.
|Fern||"I swear I'm going to strangle them if this shit goes sideways," Fern says as she sits in the tent, criss-cross-apple-sauce, hands in her lap and rubbing at her sore wrists. "This better work," she mutters under her breath as she casts a glance to the other females and away to look about. With a gentle sigh she complains, "I'm hungry.." She glances over to Eden and then to the one she doesn't know, asking, "What's yer name?" to Mafuane, "and how'd you get roped into this?" Excuse the pun.|
|Eden||Eden gets up and casually takes the meat from the fire. Everyone else ate. And they aren't trying to make lifelong buddies here! Finding untensils nearby she divides the meat and gives some to the other 2 girls. "So, what's the best way to trap a centurion? And is there anythign sharp in here?"|
|Mafuane||The woman looks to Fern, "I am Mafuane, I volunteered when told by Ashur, ah, thank you." she thanks Eden, somewhat familiar with her as she's been in her medbay tending the wounded with her.|
|Ashur|| Ashur glares at Daniel with uncommon intensity; he barely holds back a snarl at the mercenary's words, kicking aside the nearest crate (delicious vegetables spilling out!) and shoves forward. "Rescue the slaves, if you wish," he spits, his unarmored figure hopping out of the wagon and gazing around in the dark to get the lay of the camp. His eyes rest on the stairs leading up the hill to the Centurion's tent. "I go."
His wife is there, after all. He's going straight for the camp's heart, consequences be damned.
Within the Centurion's tent, the girls have a brief time to eat, talk, and search. There are no weapons available to them, at first.. but Eden manages to find a dagger hidden inside the Centurion's mattress on the floor, hidden in a small hole cut into it. The others can arm themselves with little improvised trinkets - hey, the spit looks sharp enough.
They can hear the heavy footsteps of a man approaching the tent. "No one is to disturb me tonight," the Centurion's voice says from outside. "When I've had my fill, the rest of you can get a piece."
|Daniel||Daniel shrugs faintly as Ashur storms past him; after all, this was the other man's plan. But his temper tantrum is his problem. Daniel's here to get paid. He hops off the wagon and begins moving for the slave quarters, walking casually rather than trying to sneak. The big man is no stealthy ninja, and he apparently hopes that if he //seems// at ease, no one will ask any questions. If Ashur is going to rescue the women, it appears that the drunken legionnaires are Daniel's problem -- Daniel, and with any luck, a horde of angry slaves.|
|Eden||After their quick bite, Eden, Fern, and Mafuane get to work. Finding a nice knife, and a few other makeshift weapons, they set up a makeshift trap. First a tripsnare, then moving his bed close to the door they set up ropes underneath. Each rope has a loop tied securely on one end. Having found several sex toys in the area, they toss these on top of the bed.. cause what else would they do with them! Each sitting on the corner of the bed - out of the way of the expected fall area, they wait- with ther makeshift weapons close by.|
|Fern||Fern is ready and waiting. Other sex toys may have been thrown out of the way, but not Fern's! After examining it awkwardly for a moment she wields it like a hammer, crouched and waiting to wack the man with it should he enter, trip and fall to his doom.|
|Ashur|| Nahilus enters the tent, red-faced and unsteady on his feet. The Legion cannot hold its liquor at all! He hehs, and peels off his helmet, then the rest of his armor, half-naked as he stumbles toward the mattress on the other end of the tent. "Don't worry, sluts," he drunkenly drawls, steadying himself with a hand on a shelf and chuckling at them. "Not so drunk I can't make women out of you all.. you, the brown one, show me your tits."
He stands there, eyes peering in the dark. "Ahh.. fuck, I can't even see. Did you do it?"
He moves forward.
He trips, and lets out a surprised yell, smacking into the floor with a thud.
They don't have much time before the guards outside come.
|Eden||IT WORKS! Eden is so excited she can shout, but the hogtied asshole just did that. So... crap. "Oh my god, it's so... ohhhhhh" maybe a little louder than is normal. waving to the girls to to the same she shoves some cloth into his mouth and puts his face down on a pillow to muffle him more. "So, um, kill him? Right?" Eden has never killed close up before. only with a gun. Seh looks down at her knife. He is tied and she could just... cut his throat. Ashur would have done it already.|
|Mafuane||Mafuane lets out a weak yelp as she grabs the sexual toy in the dark and throws it towards Nahilus, but the dark also hinders her sight. The sinful cylinder hits the spit and knocks the meat over. Mafuane huffs and squints in the dark.|
|Fern||Fern still has that dildo in her hands, but when the spit is knocked over she catches a flicker of light shining off something much sharper, much longer. A sword. The girl drops the toy and quickly runs for the sword, scooping it up in her hands and holding tight as she can as she moves over the man. She straddles him and lifts the sword, staring down, heart beating fast, breath panting. She pauses. Does she do it? Yes, but not before a moment's panic. Fern grunts as she yanks the sword down, doing her best to stab it as close to his heart as possible, ramming it down through his back.|
|Ashur|| The moment the sword pierces him Nahilus freezes, every muscle tensing, and then he thrashes once, weakly. The gag suppresses the wet sound gurgling in his throat enough that only the three women in the tent hear it. It bubbles up as the blood from his ruined heart pools inside him, and he rapidly falls unconscious, never to wake again.
A voice from the outside, at the tent flap, pipes up. "Nahilus, sir? Erm, is everything alright .. ?"
Figures they'd hear the crash. Think fast, girls!
|Mafuane||Thinking on her little feet, Mafuane begins to pant and moan passionately, as if making love to the dead man instead of killing him like they had done. "Uhhnn! Yes!" she fakes it well enough.|
|Fern||Fern is staring down at the man she just killed, still holding the sword tight in her hands. She stares silently, lips slightly parted, watching him and that pool of blood slowly seep outward over the ground. Her fingers tremble, and as they slowly release the sword she blinks, realizing what's going on. "Uh.. Uh.. Harder?" she tries. Good enough. She's barely convincing.|
|Ashur|| The guard clears his throat. "Ah.. I apologize, Centurion. Erm. Good job!" He blinks, shakes his head, and mutters, "'Good job', what the fuck am I saying?", as he walks off back to his post, embarrassed.
The girls are victorious! Trumpets and fanfare galore, later. For now, they're rather stuck in the tent, their actual gear down in the wagon. It's up to Daniel, now!
|Daniel|| Daniel isn't wasting time. There might be only moments before all Hell breaks loose, the way Ashur was headed. He cuts over to where the slaves are quartered and walks in, crouching down in the center of the bodies. "Alright, motherfuckers," he growls into the darkness, "Who wants to kill some Romans?" Letting the question hang in the air for a moment, Daniel raises his assault carbine to let the slaves get a good look.
"One way or another," he continues in that same low growl, "There's about to be a lot of dying. Now you fucks can get yours, or you can stay right here. No wick off my dick, either way."
|Ashur||The slaves are quartered in cramped, locked cages in the shadow of the hilltop tent, off near some supply sheds. They recoil from Daniel's harsh invective, their spirits long broken.. but when he shows off the gun, and breaks the lock on the cage with its butt, a half dozen find a new resolve. "Fuck them!", one thirty-something man says, pushing his way out. He limps. They all limp. Their legs were broken in the past, and made to deliberately heal wrong. "Where are our guns?"|
|Daniel||"On the passed-out Romans. Swords, too. And spears." Daniel smiles in the darkness. "Get to it, fellas." He turns to lead the way, then pauses, taking in the scene. "Alright," he says after a moment, "Here's how we play it. We arm up off the nearest Romans and we kill those fucking shitbirds, right? I'll cover you. Kill anyone who fucks with you. But try to do it quick and quiet." He nods to the center of the camp, smiling again in the darkness. "Any fucking second, there's going to be a lot of noise over there. My friend's a destroyer, a wrecker, a stealer of souls. And while he's dying gloriously, we're gonna do the real work."|
|Daniel|| Quick and quiet. The Raider in Daniel is never too far from the surface, and now it comes to light in a brief flurry of viciousness. Without much fuss or ado, he walks into one of the clusters of sleeping Legionnaires that, an hour before, he was sitting and joking with. Grabbing a gladius from a young man's scabbard, Daniel crouches over him. Just for a moment, in the dark, a shade of regret passes the scarred man's face. And then he cuts the boy's carotid with a hand over his mouth.
He moves quickly through the group, leaving dead bodies in his wake. The slaughter is as professional as something like this can be; Daniel doesn't hesitate, doesn't search the corpses, simply kills and moves on to the next one.
|Fern||Meanwhile, inside the tent with the dead guy, Fern is slipping off of his back and pulling the sword from his body. She looks around to see if there is anything worth taking.. Weapons, armor, anything that can give them a little more to work with if they're going to join the fight.|
|Eden||Inside the Centurion's tent, the 3 girls hear "Sir, we're under attack!" then footsteps running off, then nothing. Eden says "I think Daniel and Ashur musta started up something! Shall we join it?" Peaking outside, the coast looks clear. She takes a step outside and tries locate where the wagon would be.|
|Ashur|| The guards have abandoned the high tent. The gate is open; they rush out, and find Ashur coming in.
Near a dozen Legion men are dead before one is roused to alertness by the desperate need to piss himself sober. Daniel turns past a tent and comes upon him cock-out and midstream. Before he can be silenced, he shouts, "Attack! We're under attack!", and fumbles down to retrieve his sword from his bedroll.
The others awaken as the hob-legged slaves set about their grim task. They do not move as fast as Daniel, but spite guides their hands true well enough.
|Mafuane||The bronzed woman looks uneasy to Fern and Eden, unsure of joining in the fight outside, or trying to find the rest of the group first. "We need our weapons." she quietly states to the fellow women.|
|Fern||"Fight if you wish.. But we need to find something useful or we'll just be slaughtered," Fern grunts as she rushes out of the tent into the area just outside, pausing. Hello, ladies. Fern glances back to Eden and to the slaves, mumbling, "I'm sure they'd help us, too.. C'mon!"Taking the sword with her, Fern starts her run off down to where the wagon is, doing her best to avoid ay angry men along the way.|
|Eden||Eden says in a hushed voice to Mufaune "Well then wee need to get to the wagon, don't we?" ANd sets off down the hill. Hopefully any remaining men will be too drunk or distracte to care about one worthless slave mucking about.|
|Ashur||The other soldiers have woken and come to the fight. They ignore Daniel, surrounded as he is - it is the slaves, armed with the swords of their brothers, that inflames their hearts. "Degenerate scum!" One soldier snarls, charging down and decapitating one teenage boy as he tries to pry a gladius from its sheath. His fellows reinforce him as they engage. "The lot of you will suffer for this!"|
|Ashur|| The slaves are horrified to see one of their own slaughtered in a single blow, and another go down to the ground with a stab through the gut. Their spirit breaks before the cruel eyes of their tormentors, reminders of a thousand painful abuses. "Please! Mercy! We surrender! Please, I don't want to die!"
The pleas go unanswered. Every last one dies.
|Ashur|| The soldiers move to surround Daniel, but the wily mercenary is hard to pin down, dodging around tents, kicking over pots on fires and winding up near the wagon as the women descend to arm themselves. It's a fight, now!
"The slaves es-- it was a set up! Focus the slaver!"
|Mafuane||Getting her faithful longbow from the wagon with the other women, Mafuane now takes aim at the group of hostiles. Her sharp arrow sinks into one of their arms.|
|Fern||With that bloody sword in her hands, Fern does her best to do Ashur proud as she slashes at whoever bad guy gets in her way. She'll take some damage, probably cry a little from it, but still fight!|
|Daniel|| Daniel doesn't speak. He doesn't waste time with clever retorts. Fighting his way through the camp, the battered Raider ends up next to the wagon. His features are slack, dark eyes cold. Taking a knee, the mercenary raises his carbine to his shoulder and begins to fire in bursts. He presses a button, performs a quick reload, keeps shooting.
A man runs up to Daniel, gladius in hand, and he pulls the trigger again. *Click*. As the gladius drives into his shoulder, mostly deflected by his armor, he transitions to his alien-modified .32 and blasts the legionnaire in the face.
Bleeding now, the mercenary rises to his feet and looks around. And there's no one left to kill. "I better get paid for this," he mutters.
|Ashur|| Ashur throttled the three guards atop the hill with little fanfare as the girls descended. When he finds Eden a little behind the group, he embraces her briefly, and stalks into the dark tent. In the dim light, he can make out the corpse of the Centurion. Ashur pauses. "Vale, brother. You should have joined New Rome when we made the offer."
He will leave, and shepherd the remaining slaves back to the wagon. Amidst the sea of corpses, the group will all board, and in the dead of night ride I-10 back to New Rome. Ashur will walk with the brahmin - who, all things considered, have taken the murder fantastically well, that was really tasty grass they've been eating - and the freed slaves will fill up the wagon itself, along with the others. To provide emotional support in this trying time.
New Rome will be pleased to have its brothel-girls back.. and hey, one of them was a boy!