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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)

Twisting Arms (original-Nightside City)

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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2010-03-14 09:03pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11503
Location: The Tower at Charm
I was at the counter of Penny Dreadfull's when he found me. Tina had poured me three fingers of Fire and I was nursing the drink. Fire cost too damn much, but it made me feel alive. It was good to feel warm.

Tina was a pretty thing, vampire pale and ghost quiet. She wore a Victorian black crepe dress with ruffles and a veil. She was as thin as a reed, but she had some kind of edge. All the bartenders at Dreadfull's do. I held up the glass and watched the Fire swirl in the bottom. Fire looks something like blood coloured whiskey, translucent and deep red.

"Hello Jack," said a voice just off to my right and behind me. I looked up at the bar mirror. He was tall, taller than me and I'm not small. Lean in that track and field kind of way. I probably had fifteen or twenty pounds on him. His skin was a light olive and no one in Nightside City has a tan. Hair was dark and greased back.

"Who wants to know?" I said. I raised my glass and sipped a little more Fire.

"The name is Strider," said the man. "I have a proposition for you."

"Oh," I said. I'm eloquence personified.

"I work for the Mayor Jack."

I almost dropped my glass. "Bullshit." Might as well say you worked for God Almighty. Except that the Mayor exists, of course.

"No bullshit Jack," said Strider. He was wearing a nice suit under his overcoat. He pulled out a roll of British pounds and put them on the bar. He pointed at the one-third full bottle of Fire. "We'll take the rest of the bottle."

Tina put the bottle on the counter along with two singles. I snatched up the bottle. "Alright, you've paid for at least an earful."

"Not here," he said. He pointed at one of the booths in the back.

"Let's go," I said. Dreadfull's wasn't too busy at the moment so we crossed the room without difficulty. I took a swig straight from the bottle and liquid warmth slid down my throat and into my belly. Heat seeped out into my limbs. "Talk," I said.

"Have you heard of red dust?"

"No," I said. There's always something new on the street. Something to make you higher, lower, stronger, speed things up, slow things, down, heal wounds, inflict wounds, cure disease, raise the dead, reanimate the dead, and so on and so forth. It changed too fast to keep track of and most of it was garbage. "Should I have?"

"I am given to understand that you're a well connected man in the neighborhood. You know a lot of people and are good at finding things out."

"Yeah," I said, "I do P.I. work."

"Good," said Strider. "The Mayor is concerned about red dust. It's dangerous." That's an understatement. Nightside City is full of things that will kill you and the Mayor does nothing about it.

"Huh," I said. "So what does the Mayor want done?"

"We want the suppliers found. Then we'll deal with them."

"What the job pay?"

"What do you like to get paid in Jack?"

"American Dollars, British Pounds, Lunars, and anything gold." Lunars was what passed as local currency in Nightside City, but no one really liked it because it wasn't much good outside Nightside City. Habit made me still like Earth currency, even if there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell of me ever going back. Not now.

"I like pounds my self," said Strider. He pulled out a sheaf of banknotes and put them on the table. "Say one hundred a day, five hundred in advance. And the bottle, of course."

"Of course," I said. "It's a little on the low side." It wasn't, but I'll be damned if didn't try to dig some more cash out of Mister Deep Pockets. Actually, I'm probably already damned.

"There will be substantial bonus for useful results." Which meant a token payment. Fuck. On the other hand, that was way better than I was getting paid now. I only had my building security work bringing in the dough at the moment and that was, for lack of a better word, pretty meager.

"Alright," I said. "I'll take it."

"Good man," said Strider. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a card. "Phone me when you find anything."

I take the card. "Sure thing. I like getting paid as much as the next man."

He stood up to leave. "Hey," I said as I put the card in my pocket, "what's the Mayor like?"

"Magisterial," he said and then walked away. Fucker.

I stayed behind in the booth and refilled my glass with Fire. I had a paying job. Things were looking up. One could say things were getting brighter, but its always dark in Nightside City.
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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2010-03-16 09:45pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11503
Location: The Tower at Charm
I walked out of Dreadfull's and into the perpetual night. I glanced up at the stars in the sky, saw no familiar ones, and kept on walking. The hustlers, hookers, dealers, pimps, and petty criminals were out in force but that's nothing new. Most of them knew me or knew of me and were smart enough not to bother me. A pretty red head slouching under a gaslight lamp noticed the bottle in my hand and asked if I wanted company. I responded in the negative and kept on walking.

My apartment building is nothing special. It was six stories of brick with plumbing and heating that worked most of the time, just a block off a trolley car route. There were a pair of punks hanging out in front of it, human by their looks and under twenty. "If you haven't gotten the fuck out of here by the time I come back down, I'm going to kick your asses down the street," I said as I put down the bottle and reached for my keys.

One of them sneered and the other drew a switchblade. I pulled out my forty-five and they started running. Punks. I opened the door and headed up to the third story.

My apartment is small, but clean more often than not and reasonably comfortable. I put the Fire on the counter and headed back down stairs and out the door. The Aerie was overhead, slowly cruising through the night sky. I gave the gothic monstrosity the finger and headed down the street.

Slade's place wasn't too far away. It's a hotel in full blown, overdecorated Art Deco style straight out of the Roaring Twenties. Fuck if I know what it's doing in this neighborhood, but its possible Slade had it rebuilt that way. He's been around for a while. Anyway, its pretty much they headquarters slash base for his gang. As gangs go, they're not bad.

The guy at the front lets me through and I head up to the mook at the front desk, who goes by the name of Larry the Brick. The Brick's best days are behind him, he's put on a lot of extra weight but he's still a big guy. The charcoal pin stripe suit doesn't make him look much slimmer. "Jack," he says. "You hear to see the boss?"

"Yeah," I said. "It can wait, but not long. There might be trouble."

Larry nods and picks up the ivory handled rotary phone and dials. He waits for a while. There's an answer. "It's Tombstone," he says. "Says he's got something important to say." He nods and hangs up the phone. "Go right up."

The grand staircase is posh and fancy, but the goons waiting at the top are merely overdressed. The smarmy, short guy on the left wearing a the white Italian suit is your standard issue jumped up punk who thinks the fact that he's acquired a few more muscles and a substance dependency makes him king of the world. The slab on the right is guy who hasn't much changed since he was following the popular kid around at school and beating up the weaker kids.

"Hey Tombstone," says the vampire, strutting up to me. "Remember what you said to me last year?"

"Yeah, Lafleur, and I stand by it. Your beady little eyes might be red now, but your days are still numbered. You're still just a god damn punk."

He balled his fist up, but didn't swing. He knew how that would go down. I walked passed him and down the hall to Slade's door. I knocked.

"Come in," came the whisper that was really in my brain, not in my ear. I hate that. I turned the door knob and walked inside. He's got a couple of fancy sofas and love seats in his office, one of which held a pair of pale girls in slinky dresses. The brunette was out of it and the blond was licking blood off her neck. It was a pretty sight, one enough to stir some activity downstairs now that I had Fire in the veins. Slade himself wasn't wearing a jacket or tie, but leaning back in his chair behind his polished oak desk.

"Like what you see?" he asked. Slade was my height, but not quite as bulky. His hair was short and perfectly in place. He was clean shaven, dark haired, pale, and red eyed. His fangs sometimes showed when he smiled.

"Not bad," I said, pretending to not really care. "Seen better."

"Sure you have," said Slade. "What's so urgent?"

"One of the Mayor's guys hired me," I said.

"Really?" asked Slade. We went way back. I owed him and he was a bigger fish than I was, so it wasn't like we were equals but he didn't feel the need to push that.

"You know anyone to fake that?" I asked. "He had a card and paid up front in cash."

"I don't know anyone who faked that and didn't regret it shorty thereafter," said Slade. The Mayor's funny. A lot of shit he doesn't much care about, but what he does care about he comes down with both boots on those who fuck with it. "So probably legit. What he want?"

"He wants me looking for red dust."

"Shit," said Slade. "My boys aren't selling it, but that's because I can't get a connect yet."

"Might be a lucky thing," I said.

"Yeah," he said.

"What do you know about it?"

"Not much," he shrugged. "It's new, gets you high and keeps you there, gives you lots of energy. Why the fuck the Mayor would care about it I don't know." Our beloved Mayor turns a blind eye to drugs and alcohol. He also turns a blind eye to most street crime, which tends to make the various rackets the de facto governments of their turf.

"Maybe there's more to it than that."

"Have to be," said Slade. "I'll keep my boys out of it and pass anything I hear along." That was the truth. After all, if Slade wasn't selling it that meant the guys who were selling were his rivals.

"Good to here," I said. "I'll let you get back to what you were doing."

"Heh," he said. "Be careful out there Jack. It's never good when the Mayor takes an interest."

"I haven't forgotten. A man never forgets his own death." I turned and left, closing the door behind me. Slade was right, this was going to be trouble, but fuck it I had nothing better to do.
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LadyTevar
PostPosted: 2010-03-16 10:15pm 

White Mage


Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17645
Location: Tahalshia Manor
I want to see more of Nightside City :D
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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2011-07-07 01:32am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11503
Location: The Tower at Charm
It had gotten a little colder outside during the time I had spent with Slade, but I can take the cold. Doesn't bother me at all when I have Fire in the veins. Slade might have lied to me, but it wasn't likely. He wouldn't touch red dust without an okay from God Almighty now. It's too bad. Slade was the easiest way of getting hooked into the drug scene and that meant I had to go looking in other places. Nastier places.

For a moment the sky goes absolutely dark and then stars reappear. Different stars. A huge, rose-red moon hangs off to one side of the horizon. A new night has begun. It's what passes for time keeping in Nightside City. Each night is somewhere between fifteen and thirty hours and each shift leaves us with a different sky. Best I can figure it is that the City wanders between worlds, but no one I know has reached the edge of the city. There are ways to get out of the city and far more ways to get in, but none of them are as mundane as walking through the front door.

It isn't true that the dead don't get tired, at least not the kind of dead I am. My legs are beginning to feel it by the time I get to where I want to be. I should have taken the trolley instead of shank's mare, but I've picked up some frugal habits from some very lean years.

They call this shit hole the Foothills because eight times out of ten the Aerie is nearby. Tonight is no exception. The dirigible looks like it's hauling a god damn fairytale castle around, but not one from one of the nice fairytales. It's fucking enormous and blocks the feeble light of our swollen moon, casting a shadow on half the damn Foothills. I fucking hate that thing, but next to the Mayor they have the most juice in the city and so anyone who tries to do anything about them gets dead real fast and I'm not talking about the kind of dead that leaves you still able to walk around. Those motherfuckers don't take their playing too serious, but anything that seriously threatens them they come down on like division of Red Army arty.

The Foothills is sewer of Nightside City. It's not that the rest of the City doesn't have a bar, a brothel, and an opium den every other block but here are the cheapest, most run down, and scumiest places. Hookers, pimps, drug dealers and addicts crawl all over the damn streets. It's not fun living in Nightside City. There's parks, but they aren't safe. There's no sun. Ever. Jobs tend to be on the menial side and the big players control everything and squeeze whoever they damn please. Everyone needs some kind of pick me up and if you're low on money the Foothills will have your poison at a price you can afford. And if you're desperate for money, there's something you can do to earn it in the Foothills if you're willing to part with your dignity and self respect.

The buildings are a little rundown, but the neon signs are bright and everywhere. The Foothills are almost as well lit as Uptown, albeit in garish colours. I'm propositioned by two women and one teenage boy before I find the first drug dealer.

"Yo man, what you need?" says a skinny white kid with a greasy black mohawk and snake tattoo on his neck. He's wearing black leather, ripped black jeans, and too much chrome. " I got it."

"Red dust," I reply.

"What a fine upstanding dead man like yourself want with red dust?" he asks. "That's for the living. I can get you what your really need. Fire. Human blood, nice and fresh. Moondust."

"So you don't have any," I reply.

"No, but I have what you're looking for."

"Red dust. Who can get me some?" I hold up some pound notes.

"Well," he hedges for a moment. He knows he isn't going to make a sale, but he isn't in love with the idea of sending me to the competition. I wait for him to come to the inevitable conclusion. "I hear might be able to get some from Giovanni's boys."

I groan. Fucking Giovanni. I give him ten pounds and keep on walking. I know where to find them without any help. Giovanni has his own oily niche in the Foothills. a den of iniquity called Fun and Games. A brothel, casino, and fighting pit rolled up into one, Fun and Games is the most garish and expensive place in the Foothills and caters to the worst crowd. Fortunately, I don't have to enter the hell hole of vice to find his boys.

They run the area around fun and games and it's pretty easy to find a street hawker standing just to the side of Fun and Games. He's barely twenty with slicked back blond hair and tanned skin which means he's either from some place warm or he spends time under tanning lamps. He's wearing a purple zoot suit. "What can I get for you? Women? Cards? Liquor? Roulette?"

"Red dust," I say when he pauses to breath.

"Yes sir, absolutely sir. How much do you want?"

You know, that is one thing I didn't really ask. "What's the price?" I ask.

"Twenty American for a gram."

I show him a ten pound note. "That'll do," he replies.

"What happens if I want to deal in serious quantity?" I ask.

"How much is quantity?" he asks.

"Kilos," I reply.

"It can be done."

"I'll let my boss know," I lie and put the note away. No fucking way Giovanni is going to spill the beans to me, not without additional encouragement. I consider leaning on this boy here and now, but he might not know enough and then I've tipped my hand.

The hustler goes a little pale. "Tombstone Jack," comes a very familiar rumble from behind me. Some nights I have a dog's luck. I turn around.

Nikroth Nine is eight feet tall and almost as broad. He wears a black double breasted pine striped suit and his thick main of hair is dark brown and perfect. His skin's pink and as tough as rhino hide. The tip on his lower left tusk is missing and so is the little finger from his left hand. He's wearing a bronze bracelets covered with runes on his left hand that is set with a green glowing stone. Of course he is. The two goons with him, both of which are bigger than me, are almost an afterthought. "Nikroth," I said. "I'm just leaving."

"Sure you are Jack," he growls. "Just not in one piece this time."

"Not tonight Nikroth. This night I'm doing the foot work for someone you do not want to fuck with." It strikes me at this moment that my story is really implausible.

"Yeah? Who? The Mayor? Fuck Jack, you're an amusing fellow. I'll tell you what. I won't eat you as long as you keep telling good stories. Every night you tell a good one, you get to stay whole. Every time it isn't so good, I bite a piece of you off. Just like the Arabian bitch from the story."

Great. An invitation by my least favorite ogre to play Shahrazad in his own private Thousand and One Nights. I'll admit straight out that I'm more than a bit behind the times in a lot of ways, but there's a few things I'm up with. Pepper spray is one of them, but that's not what the can I pull out of my pocket with my left hand is loaded with. Nikroth laughs at me because he's a fucking ogre and all mace and pepper spray does is piss them off. His guys are fumbling for their guns.

I spray Nikroth in the face with a blast of thyle dust and he goes down like a steer in a slaughter house. I hit one of the goons with it and he drops too. The other has pulled out a thirty eight and shoots wild, because he's more than a little scared now because I've almost cleared my gun. He scuttles back, shoot again and misses. A third shot goes through my left lung and puts another whole in my jacket. I clear my forty-five.

An advantage of being dead is a steady hand. I put three into his chest, center mass. He goes down. I double tap his buddy in the face and blow his brains all over the street. People are screaming and running. A bullet whizzes by my ear. The doormen from Fun and Games have decided to step in, with Nikroth being one of their boss's lieutenants and all that. I put two rounds in their general direction and that makes them look for cover. It also empties the magazine.

I give Nikroth a kick to the side of the head, regretting that I can't do anything worse. He groans and rolls over. Motherfucker. It's only been a few seconds and he's already shaking off the thyle dust. I change magazines and give his boys at the door two more rounds to keep their heads down. Nikroth is an easy target, but that charm on his left wrist means bullets are going to do nothing to him unless he obligingly stands still while I empty a belt worth of ammo from a Ma Deuce into him. I retreat into the shadows of a nearby alleyway and then beat feet.
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LadyTevar
PostPosted: 2011-07-07 07:07pm 

White Mage


Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17645
Location: Tahalshia Manor
Finally, another chapter!

So, Red Dust, for humans? Interesting.
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