Here ya go!
Another trying few days. Patient 3 (the Brainer) regained consciousness and has since fled our group. Before he left, he confessed to attacking Patient 1 while under the control of another Brainer. I am actually inclined to believe him because: 1.) Brainers tend to take pride in their work. There was no pride in his words; only what seemed to be contrition. 2.) The Brainer had a second opportunity to kill Patient 1 while in my van. He did not. Either way, the Brainer’s departure is a blow to my research and observations into weird and abuse of the psychic maelstrom.
The current holding was left in total ruin after the mob and cultists sacked the few structures that existed. Once again forced to move, I drove my van to next nearest holding. Trey and the Savvyhead arrived via a trade convey. The Hocus is a few days behind since she and the cult were trying to round up some of the parent-less children. Upon arriving at the gates of the new holding, I was promptly fired upon. Besides my van taking damage, I suffered a gunshot wound that grazed my shoulder. Due to my complete lack of supplies, I have been unable to treat myself.
Once inside the holding gates, it appeared the firefight was quite extensive and involved people inside the holding walls as well. The militaristic culture of this place is palpable. Everyone I encountered appeared to be heavily armed. Likely adding to the aggressive mentality of this place is the fact that the population appeared to be almost entirely male. If there are any women in this holding, they are very few and do not appear in public. Considering the barbarous machismo of this holding, I would not be surprised if women were merely “acquired” during raids and kept as commodities. After all, even those men with expertise or useful skills are seen as mere resources to be exploited.
The Hardholder himself seems a personification of the holding’s masculinity and violence. He appears to be a brute of a man. He is physically imposing and bald (baldness often being the result of elevated testosterone levels). I remember my father once saying, “violence is a tool of the ignorant.” If there is truth in this saying, then this man is likely very simple – minded. I do not trust him. I do not respect him. He appears to lead by might and intimidation, rather than strategic planning or coalition – building. I am highly suspicious of this Hardholder, and do not trust the aggressive men that constitute this holding.
Addendum: During the conflict just outside the holding gates, a raider attempted to hijack my van. I witnessed the Savvyhead kill a man using the psychic maelstrom. I previously did not realize that the Savvyhead had that depth of connection to the maelstrom. Although technically self defense, it was a chilling thing to witness. Only at this holding a few hours, and already one of the more benign members of the group is driven to psychically kill. Violence is infectious, groupthink is incredibly dangerous, and I now have reason to distrust the Savvyhead as well.
“Third raid this week.” Vega spat as he watched the dust plume cleared. “Like a god damn hurricane. There was a time when people were afraid of us.”
“Cheer up big man. We got the fity cal’s workin’. We put so many holes in em that their mommas feel it.”
“Bunch a’ savages out there. We’ve been kid-gloves too long. Tell the guys, patch up the wounded, then we ride. It’s those fucking Elroys if it’s anyone. We’re taking everything they got this time. No hostages, leave the survivors. They ain’t worth killing, and I want them to tell everyone else how hard they shat their pants.”
“Uh, big guy, some o those guys came from McElroy. Are they gonna be okay if we get to, you know, burning shit?”
“Fuck you. If they give you any bullshit tell them to stop being babies. I’ll be in the gym.”
Vega tucked a cigarette behind his ear and walked across the training field. Formerly a pastoral courtyard fashioned to make the inmate-I mean, patients, more serene and manageable, it had been trampled flat and eight bare-chested men marked in paint drilled with crude M16’s that had been hastily hacked down to single-fire weapons when the autofire broke. Many of the guns weren’t even yet rigged jungle-style with duct tape. That would change. This group was new, still rough around the edges, but what they were lacking in other areas they made up for in loyalty and determination – Vega valued and demanded these things alone in his soldiers. Beyond that, well, he knew they were a bunch of fucking hyenas and rejects. But who wasn’t in this fucked-up world? Soon they would be chipped down into smooth, methodical gears for the war machine, worth ten of their former selves.
It turned out the war machine was the most profitable thing Vega had ever taken part in, much less run. He ducked at the doorway into the gym and chuckled at the thought that his fortress – his place of healing – could be taken. He knew the Numbers of Power, which he had extracted from a particularly fierce savvyhead many years ago. His fighting force was a “perfect” power of 64. He shifted his men in orderly rotations as dictated by the forces of Order and Logic, which even he barely understood. The Chaos had been sent to scourge the weak from the land; in order to prove themselves they – he – would have to be the Law, the stabilizing force in the land.
The exercise gave Vega space to think. The Doc had to be put to work soon, or sooner or later someone was going to take her for wife and she’d be no good to anyone. He showed her the supply stores, the rest, he guessed, was up to her. Serves her right if she doesn’t get to work, he guessed.
Rigger and Trey arriving together was more of a mystery. Trey was always welcome to come or go (he would like to see someone try and stop him!), but he’d be damned if he was going to let Rigger go again without a return on his investment. But now, here’s rigger, pulling together IED’s out of bottle-caps and car batteries. Never seen a Tech do that on a bumpy car ride. It almost put down a riot by Itself – and now It’s in the garage! Hell, he might get a better return just letting It walk around. There was still a matter of damage done, but… well, that could be squared later.
Vega finished his reps and toweled off his face with a filthy, stained rag. Yes, it was all so clear. It wasn’t about today’s threat to the holding. It was about tomorrow’s chance to show everyone how a true professional works.
I’m sure from the outside I looked completely flighty. But honestly, everything’s going more or less to plan at the moment. I’m also sure that talking to Char’s Sterile Sanctuary—or the unconscious girl inside—while I’m working underneath makes me look even more than completely flighty. I probably sound crazy.
Truth is I did get distracted on the trip over. I was kind of missing Bright Lark, but I’m still not sure whether I want to ream her out verbally for insisting on the cascading shitstorm back there, or literally—to get her off. She helped me feel more myself than every before—but maybe I don’t owe her anything for that anymore. Hmm.
So I was tinkering away on the landmines, cause, hell why wouldn’t landmines be useful, right? And I actually got them together. They work. Well, they should work, I haven’t actually set one off yet. And flushed with success I step out into the new holding… And shit immediately breaks.
What else is new?
Vega. The guy who bought me from Madame. The guy who was selling me to the next pimp down the line. They guy I escaped from. I totally bludgeoned my guard and escaped into the night. In fact, wasn’t that guard related to Vega? Half-brother? Nephew? Second Cousin thrice removed? Something. In any case, Vega was not happy to see me. But raiders hit the holding about the time Vega was going to hit me. So I struck the first deal I could think of—my landmines for not getting locked up.
Vega seemed impressed that I constructed them myself—who would have thought an exotic whore could do something like that, right? And I immediately saw my way in. All I needed to do was lend a hand with the raiders and strike a deal for my services and I’d be golden.
None of the raiders outside the fence were within my reach, but there was something was definitely going down in the lock-up, so I weighed in with Lively—I wonder what Lively the man would think about me naming my weapon after him?—and was actually doing a pretty good job until Vega’s gang turned on him. When I saw them dragging his unconscious body into lock-up I tried to help him out, but they tossed me in a cell and locked me up with hardly a thought.
But I had a thought. I reached into the psychic maelstrom and shoved Vega’s consciousness back into his body. He snapped awake and had his gang back in hand faster than I can turn this ratchet. Which is pretty damn fast, all things considered. Then Vega let me out and gave me back my explosives.
The fighting outside the walls seemed done, so I ran to check on Char—and got caught from behind by a fucking raider. I figured if I could shove consciousness in, I could pull it out. So while Char distracted the idiot, I reached into the Maelstrom again…
It was so cold, and calculating, and… I was quite frankly aroused. Just like him. Just like The Doctor when he was being especially cruel. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful that he sold me and hate him for selling me in turns!
So yeah, down goes the raider. Char goes off to strike her own deal with Vega and I stay behind to keep an ear on Mice and fix up The Sterile Sanctuary. When Char comes back I’ll see if she’s willing to park it in my new garage. I have a feeling that life would be simpler if we stick together…
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