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GM

 

Dec 1st, Under a midday sun of surprising warmth and fury...

 

The dusty town of Meddy, Arizona...

 

Was indeed dusty and warm. It was in the low twenties, and the Saguaro of the Sonoran desert bathed in a clear light. Why anyone had tried to set up a settlement here was almost beyond comprehension, but the little town of Meddy, almost deserted, was still some how alive (if on life support). It seemed to live off old native Indians selling trinkets, biker gangs, and its central building "Wildheart", which could not quite decide if it was a gambling den or a strip joint, and had lurched around trying to be both. 

 

But the gun runner Flare was not at Wildheart. She was on a dusty road to the north of Meddy, a few miles out, in an open topped car. She had largely recovered from the beating she had received from Spitfire and Bird of Arms A month ago, although still had a plaster across her nose. Despite her red hair, she was deeply tanned, wearing mirrored black glasses, a black crop top (which was extremely conservative when it came to amount of textile, and extremely unconservative when it came to skin shown), and black jeans, barefoot, and listening to some strange jazz-metal fusion on loudspeaker. 

 

And despite the beating (and to her vexation), she was here to help Spitfire and Bird of Arms catch the Happy man. Her partner, Snowbird, had agreed to do so. Flare was not sure that was a good thing to do, but on the other hand, she was tight with Snowbird, and wouldn't let her partner down. She just didn't like it. 

 

She checked her watch again...

 

How long do I have to wait for those idiots? she sighed to herself. 

Edited by Fox
Adjusting prefix tag.

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Maxie never did much like Arizona.  Too dry and bland.  Everything painted in just reds and oranges, it got downright monotonous to him.  Sure some people thought it was pretty country but those people were what Max liked to call: completely bonkers.  Still, the drive down on his bike was fun, and he had to remind himself that this wasn't like the last time he left Freedom City.  He wasn't running away now, he was here to help his home, not flee it.

 

Max slowed to a gravelly crunching stop in front of Flare, dismounting the bike and smiling widely despite the obvious dust that caked his face where the goggles hadn't covered.

 

"Flare my love!  Long time no see!  Tell me you missed me at least a little bit."  Max winced exaggeratedly when he saw her nose.  "Oooh.  I didn't do that did I?  No hard feelings right darlin'?  You had just stabbed me after all."

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GM

 

"Oh its you. I thought the handsome one would come first" sighed Flare. 

 

"I missed you like a damn broken nose...oh wait...." she said, pointing to the plaster on her face. "I didn't miss you after all"

 

Relenting a bit she stepped, barefoot, out of the car, and brushed back her short raid hair. She tried to look hot. She didn't have to try very hard - she was pretty hot, in more ways than one. 

 

"But I admit, I did stab you first. Look, I'm unarmed, honey. You can even pat me down - if you want..." she asked, provocatively. Given the tightness of her crop top and jeans, she could barely have secreted a nail file on her body, but she offered nevertheless. 

 

"Just don't go breathing fire on me. I'll survive, but these clothes won't. We don't want me all nekkid, do we?" she asked. 

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Jann had more difficulties travelling. Not only did he, thanks to his status, have to get the academy’s approval, he also could not rely on the way that long-distance travel usually happened. He refused to step foot onto one of the flying boxes, not only because they were the reason his people had been attacked before, but also because it meant he could not carry his equipment with him.

 

He ended up taking one of the many cargo trains that left Freedom City, by simply landing on top and switching whenever it stopped, using his GPS to check that he was getting closer to the right location. And after about 4 days of travelling, he finally arrived close-by. From there, it had only been a 2 hour flight, the weather making the situation worse. But finally, he closed in on the agreed-upon spot, and was even on time still.

 

He landed next to the two, carrying a full duffle bag of equipment, setting it onto the ground, and then turning towards them. “Greetings. What is our course of action?”

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GM

 

"I see your wingman has arrived" said Flare to Spitfire. "What's in the bag? Your eggs?"

 

She didn't wait for an answer. "So me and Snowbird been digging a little. Happyman has got Snowbird spooked, and from the stories she tells, I can see why. Wouldn't want to get hit with his little buzz" she conceded. 

 

She pointed down south. The town of Meddy could me seen on the horizon, the route peppered with Saguaro on either side of the road. "Little picturesque half empty town. More than half empty. Bikers, tattoo artists, strippers, a few novelty shops, even a casino. Of sorts. Hell, I wouldn't mind a visit myself. Anyway, Happy has holed himself up there. Seems he likes trying his powers out on gangs. Learning how to use them"

 

"But he's getting bolder, moving up the food chain. Local gang here call themselves the Meddy Evils. Yeah, nice. Some kind of retro anarchist biker gangs. Like using bikes and axes and swords. They are in a turf war with the gang south of the Border. Some Mexican outfit called Latin Ink". 

 

"Anyway, we done business with the Ink before. Look, these guys are a bit more serious than the Leapfroggers or the Beastly Boys. Happyman kind of created those. But these are established gangs. Happyman gets his claws in these guys, he gets a lot more clout than just a second rate juvenille street gang on Freedom City" she explained. 

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Max smiled at her flirty quips then turned to Bird of Arms and gave a polite nod.  Max had spent very little time with the youth but he seemed a no nonsense type and he liked that about him, even though Max was the complete opposite.
 

"Biker gangs eh?  If he hasn't gotten hold of all their minds yet maybe I could infiltrate them?  Come in as someone looking to join?  I do own a motorcycle and have a bunch of tattoos so I have the prerequisite outfit.  Of course I'm just as likely to get wammied if I do that.  Birdie wouldn't be able to pull it off having wings and all.  Flare might make a convincing "old lady" as they call 'em.  Whatcha think?"

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GM

 

"You calling me old?" hissed Flare, not best taken by the idea. "Hell, I ain't much of a lady, either" she added, now the thought struck her. "But you have it right. This is an outlaw motorcycle club. Just a bit more crazy than the rest of them..."

 

"Leader calls himself Chopper. Not because he rides one, well, not only that. Because he swings a six foot long broadsword whilst charging at you on his bike. Chops your head clean off!" he said, mining the action dramatically. 

 

"Rides his motorcycle dressed up like a Knight. You know, plate mail, morning stars, that kind of stuff" she added, almost impressed. "Pretty crazy. Just got a the magnetism to pull a lot of thugs, his squires, into his crazy. They do pretty much the same thing..."

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Jann listened to the descriptions. He’d never heard of anybody using medieval technology for matters like these. And while eh couldn’t understand some parts of it, others made sense to him. He nodded as Flare explained, and then responded.

 

“Am prepared to take the fight to them, their way. “

 

With that, he ducked down, opened his duffle-bag, and pulled out a large sword, that must’ve just barely fit in the duffle bag. He held it, the tip pointing to the ground, with it not quite reaching up to his shoulders.

 

“Doubt they will just let me walk in and fight, so an infiltration may be a good idea. Time may be limited however, with the buzz becoming part of their culture. And it is likely Happy is wary of anybody new joining, it would be stupid to not expect it happening. “

 

“Can of course attempt to walk in and challenge them medieval style, with you providing backup for when the situation escalates. May work, but will rob us of the surprise, which may be important when dealing with Happy directly. Would almost have to neutralize him before the gang is aware of us.“

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GM

 

"If you had asked, I could have you set you up with some plate mail. I know some good Cosplayers down in San Fransisco" she said, scratching her head. 

 

"Be careful" she added, a fleck of concern in her face. "You guys know had to handle yourselves, I know. But Meddy is a strange town and a complex one. Chopper and his gang pretty much own it, Latin Ink want it, and the Native Americans dance on it. Oh, and if you get offered any mushrooms by one of their shamans, I'd turn it down. Unless you feel a really deep connection to your spirit animal and want to spend two days gurgling at pretty things..."

 

She slung herself back in her open top. 

 

"I'd like to say its been a pleasure. I'd like to say that, but that doesn't mean its true" she said, red smile on red lips. "I'd stick around, but I sold Latin Ink some High grade machine pistols six months ago, and they may not have been quite as high grade as I had said..." she confessed, biting her lip...

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Spitfire's eyebrows shot up and ran over to Flare's car.  

 

"Hey dollface hold up a sec.  So the Latin Kings are wanting this plot of land eh?  Think maybe they'd be willing to go to war?  A nice biker gang war would be pretty good cover to get in there and mess up Happy.  After that we can mop up what's left of the biker gangs and give this town back to it's people.  Whatya think Bird?"  Spitfire said turning back to Jann.  "Besides Flare, you kinda owe us more than just a note saying "bad guy is here."  You say you sold these Latin Kings not so good guns.  Mayhaps you can let rumor spread that the good shipment actually went to this Chopper and his gang, and that you're hiding out with them cuz you know the Kings ain't got the stones to go after Chopper.  Might work yeah?"

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“Let them fight amongst themselves, take out the snake’s head in the meantime, and then clean up the stragglers? Means we will deal with multiple loose ends at once, and will make it all go down easier if done properly. Fully support this, just have to set it up.. “

 

Flare’s mention of the mushrooms further intrigued Jann. Mushrooms and their powers were no stranger to him, they too were part of his ancestral culture. And if there were shamans here, there was a good chance they knew more. Shamans usually meant something more powerful close-by. And who knew what else was in this strange town?

 

“Suggest talking with the town’s inhabitants, too. Many may not approve of the current situation and be willing to help in one way or another. Any information, distraction or other support will be useful. Shamans especially should be paid attention to. Will just have to be careful not to raise attention. Best if I only appear from the shadows once the situation calls for it. Happy may learn of my presence otherwise. “

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GM

 

Flare nodded at Spitfire, in her care barefoot and sweaty (heat? anxiety? something else?) "Ready to go to war? Honey, they practically are at war. The only question is when and where the next battle will be. 

 

"And to be honest, who gets caught in the crossfire. Meddy isn't exactly over populated, but you know..." she shrugged. "About the only people in it other than Chopper and his crew are the Native Americans. Some voodoo shaman vibe, you know. Don't eat their mushrooms. No. really. Don't eat their mushrooms" she whispered with a little shudder. 

 

"I'd talk to them first. They don't want Meddy getting drowned in blood. At least, not their own"

 

Jabbing a thumb at Bird of Arms she continued. "And Chicken wings there has got a point. He kind of sticks out. Doubt the shamans will have any problem with him. Might quite like him, I guess. But he still sticks out like a sore thumb!"

 

She bit her lip, mulling things over.

 

"I can give you guys a ride, even take you to Quotsa, the shaman guy. I bought some mushrooms for him once. I won't be doing that again, I can  tell you..."

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Max jumped in the car next to Flare grinning.  "Sounds great!  Let's go see the medicine man!"  Max turned to Jann "They'll get a kick outta you thunderbird!  Honestly though, I don't want the town to suffer either, if I can find a way for this brawl to go down outside city limits that'd suit me just fine. It's always easier for me to let loose when property damage isn't a concern.  If you couldn't tell I have what you might call 'impulse control.'  So buildings tend to burn down around me when I get distracted."

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GM

 

And so...

 

The drive down the dusty desert road was actually quite pleasant in a stylish old open-top. Flare drove well enough, but fairly fast.

 

"Not many cops round here" she explained as she broke the speed limit. "Not that I give a turd if there was" she added, with a laugh, pressing down on the accelerator and letting the air fly through hairs and feathers. 

 

She slowed to almost a crawl when they reached Meddy. It was dusty and hot, so hot. Right slam next to the Mexican border. It was run down, with cracked paint and cracked walls. Some buildings had essentially given up any pretence of architectural structure and had, with a crunching sigh, collapsed in on themselves. 

 

"Here you go..." pointed Flare, pulling to a stop. 

 

"Traditional Herbal Remedies" it said, although actually it was "Tr ditional He bal Re edies", as three letters had fallen off the sign. Several others were faded or wonky. The shop looked like it did no business at all, and if one breathed to hard one might collapse the building. 

 

"Don't bring any weapons in. Look cool. Don't buy the mushrooms" she advised. "I'll be waiting here...tell them Flare sent you. Actually, maybe not. Tell them you heard of the awesome mushrooms sold buy Quotsa, the might spirit shaman!" she corrected herself with dramatic emphasis, and, yes, with Flair

 

 

Edited by Supercape

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An open-top car really played towards Jann’s strengths in this case, as he could enter and exit it without having to deal with the usual space issues. He did just that and jumped right out of it, but not before grabbing his dufflebag, not quite trusting Flare with all of his equipment.

 

He could already feel the heat. He’d made sure to bring enough water, and after all the time he’d spent in America, it wasn’t as much of a weakness anymore. But either way, these conditions were even hotter than that, and even the built in cooling system he’d had installed in his armour back when he arrived at Claremont didn’t do much against the heat.

 

Heeding Flare’s words, he then dropped the dufflebag outside, next to the door, also leaving the sheath he carried on him almost all the time there. At this point he was essentially unarmed, only a few hidden pieces of equipment and his collapsed quarterstaffs, barely the size of a pen, still on him. And with that done, he opened the door and stepped inside.

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GM

 

The inside of the shop was dust. It was hard to see that anything was here except dust. Even the dust had dust on it. 

 

Once one had acclimatised to the dust, there was stuff to see. Dried lizards, carved totems, and so on. It was likely that most of it was just cheaply hand made tourist junk at inflated prices.

 

At the end of the shop, smoking something that probably had tobacco in it, but was not tobacco, was Quotsa himself. An elderly man, thin and wiry, wearing a cowboy hat and denim, with leathery skin and dark eyes. 

 

"All be damned. A goddamn angel..." he said, as if he saw angels and all manner of wonderful, terrifying things every day. He probably did, it was just that what he saw was hallucinations. 

 

"What can I do for you?" he said in a raspy deep voice. 

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First things first, Jann inspected the various shelves once he’d entered. Some were similar to ones that were used back home, others he did not recognize. He didn’t mind the lack of light much, as he stepped further into the room, taking careful steps, not entirely certain of his surroundings. While it seemed safe enough, there was always a risk, and darkened rooms required some attention to be paid at all times.

He turned towards one of the shelves, where a variety of small animals seemed to be stored. It was an interesting sight, and it gave Jann an opportunity to judge the environment and the man. While he wouldn’t see, he would hear if anybody were to make a move. Taking a closer look at one of the lizards, Jann spoke.

 

“Have been told to meet Quotsa, presuming that is you?”

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GM

 

Quotsa nodded slowly, and put his suspect roll up out. 

 

The lizard Jann spoke to was a shrivelled up sun-dried thing with a spooky look and a nasty formaldehyde smell. 

 

"That's me, stranger. I own this shop.."

 

It was not much of a shop. It was hard to believe much, if anything, was sold. It looked like a place to hang out in. 

 

"I don't think I ever seen a man with wings before..." he mumbled, sidling up to the Bird of Arms and touching his feathers. "You are real, yes? Not some vision quest kind of thing?" he asked suspiciously. 

 

"I'm a shaman. See all kinds of stuff! Man turned into a cactus, last month!" he said, eyes wobbling slightly. They did not quite converge properly. "Some of the stuff I see, its real too! Like them knights tearing up the town!"

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“Am completely real, yes. No spirit quest involved. “

 

Once Quotsa had approached, Jann slowly turned around to face him. He had no reason to hurry, it was only likely to disturb the old man. Besides, one needed to pay respect to shamans, no matter who they were. And then, Jann just continued to listen.

 

“Always good to meet a shaman. What you speak of sounds interesting, but attention lies on the knights. Have travelled here because of them, and am looking for information and assistance in whatever way you may be able to be convinced to offer. “

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GM

 

"The Knights of Meddy Evil?" sighed Quotsa, sitting down and picking up some nuts to chew on. They looked fairly mundane nuts, at least compared to the rest of the shop. 

 

"Chopper, he's the leader. And he chops..." he answered trying to sound cryptic and wise, and half - succeeding. He mimed a head getting chopped off. 

 

"He pretty much runs this town. Law hardly comes here, and they don't get nowhere when they do. This is wild west" he said with a shrug. But he was concerned all the same. 

 

"Month ago, they started getting wilder, got some guru to lead them, some old guy. Not sure who is running the show now, Chopper or his guru. But they are messed up, big time. Like they need drugs, or something. Now, Chopper don't deal with drugs, least not normally. He stuck to guns and swords. But now they do. Stepping on the toes of Latin Ink down south of the border. Its gonna be blood..." he said, grim. 

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Spitfire moved around the shop inspecting the hodgepodge of items.  They reminded him of the roadside freak shows and macabre trinkets he'd been sidled with in his youth.  People always wanted to believe the monkey stitched to a fish was the fiji mermaid.  This seemed similar, and equally unbelievable.  Max was fairly certain this "shaman" walked his dream path more often than he guided others, and by that Max meant he sampled his own supply way too much, still, Jann seemed to like him, seemed almost reverent in fact, which he hadn't been for basically anybody else since he met the young man.  Max shook his head baffled by it all.

 

"We're actually here about that guru, and Latin Ink, and Chopper.  We're from outta town and let's just say this guru stirred up trouble where we're from and we kinda want to see he pays his dues.  Sadly he's chosen your town in which to hide, and gotten your ne'er do wells doin' even worse stuff.  So we gotta take him out and sadly yer right, there is gonna be blood.  We're here to warn ye, and to tell ya that when the dust settles, the town'll be yours again, hopefully."

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GM

 

Quotsa nodded slowly, lighting up another suspicious roll up. "This guru guy, they call him the Happyman. Yeah. He kick-plenty-trouble-big-style" he said in Faux Native American pidgin. 

 

He laughed. "Relax, fella's I just speak like that sometimes to rope the tourists in. If I think they have more cash than brains" he shrugged. "Normally they don't have cash or brains" he conceded, a bit sadly. 

 

"If town comes back to us, I ain't complainin' Hell, I get you free supply of mushroom for the next five...no, wait, three years" he said, bartering himself down reflexively. "We would try it ourselves, even bought some guns from some crazy red head a few months back. Except they kept exploding in our faces" he added, angrily. 

 

"But we ain't gonna stand in your way, if that's what worries ya. Hell, Ill pull up a chair, smoke a mushroom, and watch the show when you do..." he added, helpfully, a smile on his face.

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Jann nodded as Quotsa continued, and when Spitfire also entered the conversation. So far, all he’d heard was similar to what Flare had said. Between what he’d learned first-hand, Flare and now Quotsa, it seemed that things were as people had said. At least for Chopper and his followers. Jann still knew uncomfortably little about Latin Ink, and there was not much more to be learned about Happy, he presumed.

 

Him mentioning that there had already been attempts by the town was important, however. With a straight on attack on Happy still a bad idea, it offered an important alley. “Of those who tried, are any in the area? Gaining support may prove useful during the next step, they may know things or have skills that will prove vital. “

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GM

 

Quotsa grew a little concerned. "Yeah, angel wings, there are a few of us in town. Nobody wants Latin Ink or Chopper here. Or Happyman. But we ain't soldiers. We ain't gonna get gunned down by the Ink, or decapitated by chopper"

 

He didn't look angry or violent, but he did ossify a bit. "I ain't gonna help you drag some brothers to a grizzly death, you hear? Me, I'd just wait till Chopper and Ink take each other out, then we pick up the pieces. Was the brains off the streets, and blood off the walls. I don't want the tribe digging more graves" he explained. "If we need to, well, I got a back up plan. But best thing is to wait it out". 

 

He shrugged, smoked a bit, and sat down, waiting for a response. 

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It seemed the shaman thought further than what Jann had expected. Here, he needed to explain. Something that, all things considered, was not his strength, by any means. He thought about how to put his thoughts into words, something that the difference in the two languages didn’t help with, and then spoke.

 

“Do not ask for support in combat, but for informations. Yours know the area, the buildings. The times, the people. Things that all make it easier to act once we do. Knowing which places prove viable to strikes, or to run and hide, or learning of people’s regular dwellings, they are all things that mean that once we strike, we do so with accuracy. “

 

He did not want to strike into the mostly unknown. Not when up against a force that outnumbered what he and his ally could do. It was only if he absolutely had to that he would.

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