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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Chapter 4D: Cassandra

Dawn OOC

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The road was long and dusty, but Ira didn't really notice. If he'd noticed, he would have had to think about how much long and dusty he'd seen, and how it was all he'd seen in a while. He'd love to see something else, something alive - a cow, a bird or even a fucking insect. In truth, life was all around, but it was rarer than it used to be, and it was hiding from the noisy car that he was driving at unsafe speeds.

Given that he didn't see the life around, he was more than a little surprised by the woman walking down the road. First, she was walking down the middle of the road, headed the same direction as himself. Second, she didn't look around, even when she should have heard him. And third, she was naked.

The last would have been appealing, but she'd been naked for a while, and that wasn't appealing. Her skin was blistered and burnt from the sun, and her bare feet left bloody marks on the asphalt. And still she walked on, her eyes focused on an unseen goal ahead.

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At first Ira thought it was just a zombie, but a second look made him believe otherwise. He slowly hit the brakes, last thing he needed was the breaks locking up on him again out here.

"She is fucked up."

Ira had come into the habit of talking to himself, just to make sure that he still could. As he came up beside the woman, he grabbed his Citori under-over from the dash and wedged his 'auto-pilot' golf club through the steering wheel, letting the beatup '73 Chevy Nova idle down the road.

He scooted across the black vinyl bench seat, and rolled down the dust covered window part way to get a better look at the 'woman.' Ira propped the shotgun on the cracked window, Zombigeddon, if it had taught him anything, had taught him paranoia.

'Hey, you ok?"

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"I am sick," she said in a soft monotone. Ira reflexively lifted the shotgun so that it was pointed more at her head than the rest of her. He couldn't see any bites on her, but he hadn't seen every inch of her, either.

He took another look. Under the horrible sunburn, she was probably a very hot woman. She had a fine body anyway, a tight ass and nice tits. Too bad blisters and peeling skin weren't as fine. But a lonely enough man might look past that. He'd have to look past the mental vacancy she was displaying, though that might have been from her condition. But again, that'd be a bonus for some.

Ira's consideration of her was interrupted when she looked at him with blood-shot eyes. They were an unusual violet color, but more than that, they were the shattered look of someone who has had their mind broken. "You're sick too," she told him, without missing a step.

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Ira reflexively glanced down at his left arm, trying to ignore the damage that was now over six months old and wouldn't seem to heal. At least it didn't hurt. The girl was starting to creep him out, but damn was she hot! Figuratively and literally.

"If you hadn't noticed, the whole world is sorta fucked right now." Then under his breath, "Well, maybe you didn't notice. Hello, hot naked girl in the middle of O.K."

"Definitely not a zomb. I can't leave you out here, sick or not, get in."

Ira rolled the window the rest of the way down and threw the shotgun back on the dash as he removed the golf club and shifted into park. The Nova came to a stop with a lurch and groan of protest as he opened the door wide in front of the woman, blocking her path.

The wind whipped up and carried more dust into the car, and coated the interior with yet another layer of stratification.

"...sick." she said in response, her voice barely audible above the wind and dust beating against the side of the orange auto.

"Ok, if that's how its gonna be."

The driver's door opened with a metallic 'pop' sound and Ira ran around the back of the car, careful to dodge where the bumper had been bent outward.

He grabbed her shoulder just as she went to move around the door, then quickly released her, realizing that the touch probably hurt like the devil, but the woman made no outward sign of trauma.

"Ok. I'm sorry about this babe."

Ira made vain attempts to find areas of her body that were less burned than others, and finally figured under her arms was his best bet. Attempting to ignore the proximity of her ass to his groin, he half drug, half carried the woman backwards into the car. Ira hopped back out again and popped the trunk to get water, some aloe gel and a blanket.

"Hey mister, do you date? Fuck yeah, hop in sugar!"

Having closed the trunk, he got back in the car and set the blanket on the seat between them. He handed her the water, which she took just as calmly, but continued to stare forward.

"Ok, I'm sorry to do this...well, not really." Shaking his head, "Well, you obviously are not going to do this yourself."

Ira then proceeded to apply a generous amount of aloe to the areas he could reach, emptying the bottle.

He shifted the car back into gear and started down the road once again.

"You have pretty eyes...haunted, but pretty. Are they contacts?"

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"Sickness. They are a sign of my sickness," she said, staring straight ahead. Ira nodded; this was becoming a theme with her. But then her tone changed a little. "They were brown. Before I got sick."

"You're big on that sickness, thing, ain't ya, baby?" he asked, not expecting an answer, not a real one.

What he got was, "I am sick."

"Yeah, I heard." He was quiet for a moment. "Got anything else you wanna tell me?"

"The voices call me Cassandra," she said, unmoving, her eyes straight ahead.

Eh, Ira thought, it was a start.

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"The voices?"

This girl is whack.

The car jumped as it ran over something large. Ira looked in the rearview mirror and saw a small black shape.

"Sorry about that Cassie. Mind if I call you Cassie? It was just an armadillo."

Some moments passed, Lionel Richie's "Do It To Me" playing softly on the deck's Zune.

"My name is Ira. Sorry to give you the rub down back there, but you look worse than some zombies I've killed. Ira paused before continuing, "It would make me feel like less of a pervert if you drapped that blanket over you. Prolly wouldn't hurt to drain that water either."

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The car's jump made her body jump in an appealing way. "Useless shell," she said softly after a long moment. "He was sick."

She didn't react to his mention of the lotion. Her eyes remained straight ahead and he wondered if she was going to ignore his request.

Suddenly, she looked at him. "Will you close my eyes?" she asked, her voice intense. "Are you the one that will stop my sight?"

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Ira jumped at the intensity of her voice, as well as the sudden movement. He realized his hand had made it to the shotgun before he could even think about it. He took a deep breath, and let it out slowly before turning to Cassandra.

Not able to help himself, he glanced down at her breasts, burned though they were, the rough road was making them shake beautifully. He looked up at her violet eyes over his Presley shades, raising his eyebrows suggestively.

"If that is some Hitchcockian way of asking me to kill you, you're outta luck honey. I'm more inclined to the opposite."

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She stared at him over the glasses, and he had a sense that she was studying him, learning something about him. "No," she said. "You aren't after my eyes."

As if she'd decided something, she opened the canteen and drank from it, the water she couldn't swallow fast enough spilling down her body. The empty container was drained and dropped to the floor.

She looked down at herself, and began to rub at the lotion on her skin. It was as if she were fascinated by the sleek, moisturized feel of her body. "You did this," she told him, as if he needed to be informed of such.

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Ira just stared as Cassandra seemed to suddenly awake from her 'high'. He looked at the glistening effect the spilled water was having on her body with the lotion, then down at the empty container.


When Cassandra started rubbing at the lotion, Ira's jaw dropped and he got the biggest hard-on he'd had since Lisa Steinbeck had test-fired a .44 at the range.

"Yuh...yuh, yeah. Burns." He swallowed hard. "You want more water?"

Ira started blindly reaching behind her seat, staring as she made circling patterns over her breasts. Only the jerking of the wheel as the passenger tires went off the road brought him back to his senses. He finally found a container and his hand came back with a 40 of Old English.

Smirking, "Hey, its liquid, right?"

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"You give me liquid fire, but cannot purify me," she said, taking the bottle. She drained it in much the same way that she had the canteen, only this time she choked, spitting Old English and coughing violently. She fumbled to cap the bottle and finally just pinched it between her legs to keep it from spilling.

"The lion will devour the cubs." Her sudden announcement came from no where. "The lion will devour the cubs. He will bring his queen into heat again." Ira glanced at her and realized she was crying. She snatched up the bottle and chugged it wildly, coughing up as much as she swallowed.

When the bottle was empty, she swung it against the door, shattering it. Shards cascaded to the floor, over her legs and the seat. As Ira watched, she selected a piece of glass and began to bring it to her face, to her eye.

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"Jeezuz Christ!!"

Ira slammed on the brakes as he grabbed her hand, not caring if he got cut. The brakes locked, sending the car fish-tailing until it stopped sideways in the road. The momentum sending Cassandra's slick body across the middle of the bench seat towards Ira.

"What in, the FUCK, is wrong with you?!"

Not wanting to give her another chance, he grabbed her other hand, trying to get her subdued. He tried making eye contact, but it was difficult.

"Nothin's gonna happen to ya, ya crazy bitch! We're in the middle of fuckin' nowhere!"

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His face twisted with disgust as he grabbed her hands and wrestled the glass away. He felt it slice his hand, which only made him mad. The smell of blood was in the air. It was, naturally, Ira's blood, or so he thought until he realized that her hand was cut, too.

Cassandra continued to cry, sagging until she was pressed against him. She held her bleeding hand and sobbed, mumbling about cubs and sickness. Her head snapped up and she gazed wildly out the window. "No more!" she screamed, her voice creaking with the full-throated effort. "No more! No more!"

"Please," she whispered after a moment, "I see it. I see it. Please stop. I see it. Ira, please make them stop!" She collapsed into sobs again, leaning against him. Her injured hand wrapped around his, pressing their cuts together, so that their blood mingled.

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As she let loose her pain into Ira, Fastball's "The Way" started playing. He watched as their blood, joined like two rivers at the source, ran down their wrists. But even as he watched, the pain subsided and the cut on his right hand closed.

His anger quickly drained as she cried for mercy, leaving him empty and feeling sorry for her. She had obviously been through something very traumatic, and had not yet stopped living it. He pulled her in close, wrapped his left arm around her and twined the fingers of his right in her still-injured hand, trying to apply some pressure. Slowly, he started to rock her gently, stroking her hair.

Said my name.

"Sshh...I'll make them stop Cassie, I'll make them stop. It'll be alright."

Ira continued consoloing her, and as time passed, her sobbing quieted and she finally fell asleep. Not wanting to disturb her, Ira turned the car off and unplugged the Zune just as Rob Zombie's, "Living Dead Girl" was starting. It would be dark soon, and here was as good a place to stop as any. Ira stared at the still open passenger side window, but figured, out here, he didn't have much to worry about except maybe a coyote.

He locked the driver door and after some careful pulling, managed to get the blanket out from under Cassandra. He draped it over them and leaned back, trying to get as comfortable as possible against his door before he picked up the Citori, laid it on his knee and pointed it at the passenger window.

Why do all the girls I end up with always smell like cheap beer?

His last thoughts were of flesh-crazed, violet-eyed, zombie lion cubs before sleep finally took hold.

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Ira awoke to the sound of someone pinging his car with a ball-peen hammer, or at least, that's what it sounded like. Groggily, he stared out the windshield to see a big fucking black bird standing on the hood to of the engine compartment. As he watched, it bent down and slammed its beak into the already battered metal of his car.

His first impulse was to scream and scare it away. His second was breakfast. The problem was, getting the door open and getting his hands around it before it flew away.

As he considered this, he realized that 1) he was alone in the car; 2) his blanket was gone and; 3) Cassie was gone - which was implied by factor number one, but he'd just woken up and that isn't an instant process. He looked around quickly, the sudden movements making the bird fly away with a huffy caw.

She was standing on a rise not far away, looking at something he couldn't see. At least today she was wearing the blanket. Cursing her sneakiness and inability to be normal, he grabbed the Citori and went after her.

She turned and smiled at him as he jogged over, her unusual eyes shining and not bloodshot. The blistered skin on her face was healing and peeling, and she had lost that lobster-red look and gained a slightly leperous one. With the morning light shining on her, he could see that she was fair of tone, though her hair was so dirty it was impossible to tell what shade it was.

She pointed down the slope of the hill toward a house hidden from the road. "He has recorded the portents," she said, starting to walk toward the house. "They will need to know, and he was the only one looking."

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Ira smiled back and looked closer at her skin, praying that the leperous tint was just bruising from the exposure.

He gently, but firmly grabbed her arm as she started to walk down the hill, arresting her movement.

"Look, I'm glad you're feeling better, and I have no problem going with you down to that shack, but," He emphasized by gesturing with his gun as he kept his grip on her shoulder, "you need some clothes, as much as I hate to say it, because you are damn gorgeous, Sexy, and we need to take care of that cut before it gets infected."

He gently pulled her back in the direction of the car, ready to force the issue if she resisted.

"Some grub wouldn't hurt either...hope you like jerky and Fritos, Cassie. I have instant oatmeal, but the water in the radiator is probably cold. Not to mention I'd feel safer drivin' the 'Up-chuck' down instead of hoofin' it.

Ira was almost blathering, the chance to talk to an actual person, even if she was talking like a badly translated nightmare, was becoming rare, and he didn't want to lose her.

"I'm pretty sure I have some non-potable water I was gonna boil in the radiator, but we could use it to clean you up. Ironically, no one thought to loot the salons, I have plenty of nice soap, and no offense sugar, but you smell real ugly."

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She was relunctant until he said grub. Her face lit up and she came along eagerly, smiling. "But we will speak with the Magi?" she asked, glancing back at the house before the rise obscured it.

"Sure, yeah, we'll talk with the Magic," Ira said agreeably, anything to get her back to the car, get her some clothes and bandages on her, and get her fed. All were things she needed to live, which he was really good at providing, assuming he kept finding the snacks cakes, beef jerky and chips. And he could find her chick's clothing: dresses, heels, underwear... here his mind ran out of things to list. He wasn't that familiar with the various items that were part of the Ladies' Dress Code. Yeah, taking care of her would be no problem.

He bandaged the hand, being as gently as he could. She winced and fought tears despite his light touch, especially when he probed the wound to be sure no glass was in there. Then he wrapped it and gave her a smile. "How's that?" It felt good to care for another person.

"The dog crosses the moon," she told him with a smile.

"Right. How about that bath? Wanna be clean, baby?" She didn't say anything, and after a moment, he grabbed the water and tilted her head back. He got it wet enough to lather the shampoo and then set in to cleaning it. Dirt and debris worked themselves loose and dripped down her back to the ground. He carefully rinsed her hair, and found himself looking at a lovely honey-blond color.

"Better, right?" he asked, pushing a bar of soap in her hand. She had that twenty-yard stare again and he tensed, waiting for the crazy. Instead, she glanced down at the soap after a long moment, as if she wasn't sure what it was. "Lemme guess. You're a loofah woman. Sorry, this is all I got." He took her wrist and used it to rub the soap over her wet skin. "Soap, you remember soap, Cassie?" After a moment, he took back the soap and started to scrub for her.

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"I need a Crazy to English dictionary." Ira sighed as he scrubbed her down thoroughly checking for bites as he went. "How about brushing babe? You remember that, its an automatic motion for women isn't it?"

Hoping to jar her out of her 'Lithium-Crazy' and bring her back down to 'weird' he grabbed a brush outs of the trunk, that in another time, would have cost him half a paycheck.

He handed her the brush as he knelt down to get her lower half, trying to ignore the obvious and stick to the task at hand.

""So who are these Madgee with the portents? Friends of yours?"

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"He lived with an eye in the sky. He was the only one watching," she said. Hesitantly, she lifted the brush and began to work it through her hair. After a moment, she said, "I never met him."

"Um, right," Ira said, glancing up at her over his sweet shades. "So, he doesn't know we're coming."

"You should finish that," she said, glancing down at him. "We're running out of time."

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"Right, when you make sense, it must be important."

Ira stood up and grabbed the jug of water and dumped half on each shoulder, rinsing the $100 dollar bar of Herb-Infused Swedish soap onto the dusty road of Nowhere, Oklahoma.

"Here, dry yerself off sugar while I find you some clothes."

Ira handed her a well-used, but reasonably clean towel as he rummaged in the back of his trunk, yanking out three clear large Wal-Mart bags.

"I hope you aren't a fashionista, because I think the only thing I have that will fit you is sweatpants."

Eventually, Ira dug out a pair of canary yellow sweapants, a black screen t-shirt that displayed a threatening Mr. T that was a little big, some tighty-whities, socks and a pair of red Converse that seemed to fit well.

He helped her dress, as some of the clothes seem to confuse her, but they finally finished. Ira held the door for Cassandra as she got in, and he ran around the back, closing the trunk and loading himself in. The car fired up with the high pitched whine of a loose fanbelt, as if to protest, 'Just let me die in peace!'

Ira turned on the tunes, threw it into drive and headed towards the house, as "Living Dead Girl" started back up.

What the fuck did I get myself into?

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The house was a two story farmhouse. It seemed to crouch on the ground as if it would leap away from the approaching car. Ira studied it, and saw no signs of life. It was clear that someone had been here since Z-day - there were signs of use on the old-fashioned water pump. A hose connected it to a gravity shower, which had been installed on the sunny side of the house. There was no fence around the property, but no zombies either. The weird part was the sense of emptiness now.

Ira idled the car, then shut if off. Cassie didn't wait; she was opening the door and bouncing to her feet, her eyes on the house. As Ira grabbed the gun, she went up the steps. "Wait, sugar," he said, following her.

As if his caution had flowed into her, she stopped on the porch and turned, her eyes scanning the horizon. Then she reached for the door knob. Ira got there first and opening it. He looked into the room beyond, his eyebrow rising. It was cluttered, like an old lady lived here and collected all kinds of weird shit. But this wasn't dollies and fat babies; it was books and skulls and crap. It smelled like an old library.

Cassie pushed gently on his back and he stepped forward, letting her in. Cassie ignored the books, and so did he, following her into the kitchen. Here he took more interest, grabbing a plastic bag and loading up the cans of tuna and spam piled on the counter. Cassie didn't hesitate though, and he had to go after her. "Hey, baby, what's the hurry? We got some meat right here."

"The portents-"

"Right, right," he said, nodding his head. "Give me three minutes to grab some food." She looked dubious, so he added, "Trust me baby. Ira's watching out for ya." She waited while he ransacked the cupboards and loaded up a couple bags of food. Leaving the bags by the door on the route out, he moved into the hallway beyond the kitchen to find the stairs.

"Rise up," Cassie said, and Ira sighed. "You could say, 'Up the stairs'," he muttered as he started up, his gun in front of him.

There was something weird about this place - his hair was standing on end and his skin prickled. It also stank like raw meat, and he began to get a bad feeling about it. The upstairs was one massive room. The dividing walls had been removed, giving it a cavernous feel.

Across the room, he saw someone sitting in a chair and nearly had a heart attack, only to realize that the person wasn't moving or breathing. That scared him more; it could be a zombie. Tensely he waited, Cassie hovering impatiently behind him. After a few moments, he realized it wasn't a zombie, but a corpse. The old man had been dead for a few days; he looked like he'd passed naturally, sitting in front of a telescope.

Cassie darted forward and snatched a book off the end table next to the man's chair, snapping it shut. Ira saw a brief flash of handwriting. "Gotta go," she mumbled, taking Ira's arm. "Must fly."

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"This place gives me the heebie-jeebies baby, I'm right behind ya."

Ira took one last look at the man with 'the eye in the sky' before he let Cassandra pull him down the stairs. As they reached the bottom, Ira moved to take the lead, grabbing the bags of processed meat with his free hand.

"Ok Cass, let's fly."

Ira kicked open the slightly ajar door to find two guys standing near the Nova, looking in the windows. Before anyone could even react, Ira had dropped the bags and taken aim at one of the men, a headshot to be safe, Zombigeddon Paranoia and all. A can of tuna rolled out the door and across the porch, slowly thumping its way down the steps like a cheap slinky.

He stood in the doorway, making sure to block Cassandra as he yelled, "Move away from the car!"

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"Out of time," Cassandra whispered behind him, her voice terribly sad. Ira didn't have time to address that, because the biggest of the two men, the one he had a bead on, was turning to face him.

"Be calm, friend," he said, spreading wide, fat hands. They matched the rest of him - heavily built with thick features. Oddly, he wasn't that tall, but he seemed larger. But most imposing was his voice; it freaked Ira out, even if the tone was somewhat friendly. "We have no interest in your car. We've just come to collect our friend."

"The journal is inside the door," Cassie whispered, moving to slip past him. "It has to go to the Fox's doctor." Ira shifted, trapping her. Before he could say anything, she murmured, "Ira, please, they just want me; they'll leave you alone if I go with them."

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"I don't think so." Ira said, answering both, "Cassandra is staying with me."

Ira was near the edge of panic, it hadn't been more than a few hours, but Cassandra had started to give Ira a purpose to his life again. He had been running for so long it seemed, it was going to be nice to have something stable and consistent, relatively speaking that is. But now these two creeps threatened to take that away and Ira wasn't gonna let her go without a fight.

He made sure that he wasn't being distracted, occasionally glancing over at the other man, already taking aim on him in his mind.

"Friends don't get collected, trash does. I think its time that you and your friend were leaving."

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"Easy," the big man said, taking a step forward, his hands still held wide. "You can come with us, if you want." His voice was getting rougher as he spoke, rumbling from dead in his chest. His fingers moved oddly, and Ira realized he was sprouting fucking animal claws from them! "You're welcome to join us, so long as you know I'm the alpha dog!" As he spoke, he lunged forward, howling; Cassie screamed in fear. His friend was only a couple of steps behind, holding up a baseball bat as he ran.

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Ira was sure that Claw beat Bat...he didn't hesitate, he'd seen enough crazy shit these last few months and quickly fired two rounds into the werewolf. He was also sure that Gun beat both Claw and Bat.

Click to reveal..
Initiative (11:05:25) ChatBot: (Ira_Sagebrush) rolls 1d10 and gets 7. [14]

1 QP spent for Quickness [27]

First shot, +2 die for Aim, -2 for Head target, +5 Acc (Shotgun)

(10:59:43) ChatBot: (Ira_Sagebrush) rolls 11d10 and gets 1,3,5,10,4,6,1,10,8,7,6. [4]

Head called shot +2 damage.

Second shot, -2 initiative [12], +5 Acc (Shotgun)

11:06:21) ChatBot: (Ira_Sagebrush) rolls 11d10 and gets 4,3,6,3,1,4,1,4,1,5,8.[1]

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Black holes appeared on the opponant's face and chest. The double retort on the shotgun temporarily downed out Cassie's cries. She wasn't right against his back anymore, which was good; it allowed him full range of motion and meant she wasn't so close to the fight. She still sounded scared, but he had other issues - like the wicked, black claws reaching for his gut.

Blood poured down the 'werewolf's' face as he cleared the steps and swung his wicked claws. Ira felt them slice into his stomach, tearing at the tender, unprotected skin there. It also ruined his shirt, which wasn't as replacable as his skin.

Click to reveal..
Note: In our old TT game, the ST gave everyone a free defense action each round (it was a free action only to be used for dodging, parrying or blocking). Needless to say, I've had this habit since. I'm testing it here in Ira's combat to see if we like it, and I may house-rule it if people acclaim for it.

Dodge: 3 sux, didn't dodge

1d10.open(10)=10, 1d10.open(10)=2, 1d10....pen(10)=6[Mega]

Damage: 0 Lethal (ugh, bad roll)

1d10=3, 1d10=2, 1d10=4, 1d10=3, 1d10=6

No dodge on second shot

Damage: 2 Lethal

1d10=10, 1d10=6, 1d10=8

Wolvie's attack: 2 sux, vs Ira's 1 sux on dodge

1d10=8, 1d10=5, 1d10=3, 1d10=5, 1d10=5, 1d10=1, 1d10=8

Damage: 1 Lethal

1d10=6, 1d10=2, 1d10=10


1d10=4, 1d10=2, 1d10=2, 1d10=5

Cassandra = 6+4 = 10 (Ira's first)

Ira = 8+2 = 10

Thug = 4+2 = 6

Wolfie = 7+5 = 12

Init order: Wolfie, Ira, Cass, Unnamed Thug/Red shirt

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The ragged tears in Ira's stomach started to mend even as he jumped back, trying to keep himself between the Wolverine wannabe and Cassandra. The Citori was a whirlwind of motion as another shell was loaded into the barrel.

"Dammit! That was my favorite shirt you fuck!"

The first blast had barely made its impact on the momentum of Grizzly Adams before the shotgun twirled and leveled at him again, permeating the house with the smell of gunpowder.

Click to reveal..
2 QP Reflexive Regen, 1 QP Quickness [24]

First shot, +5 Acc, +2 Point Blank

(14:29:20) ChatBot: (Ira_Sagebrush) rolls 13d10 and gets 3,10,3,5,5,7,7,9,9,1,9,7,5 [7]

Second shot, +5 Acc, +2 Point Blank

(14:31:19) ChatBot: (Ira_Sagebrush) rolls 13d10 and gets 9,2,1,9,1,9,10,2,8,7,9,3,8. [8]

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The wannabe had looked startled at Cassie's shout, actully looking over over Ira's shoulder at her until almost the second that Ira unloaded the Citori into him again. At the second blast, the wannabe was a has-been, flopping into his back and displaying the hamburger-style mess that had been his chest.

His friend stopped startled, and dropped the baseball bat as his hands went into the air. "I give, he wanted her anyway, not me," the guy said quickly. He was backing away from them, praying that Ira was in a somewhat forgiving mood.

Click to reveal..

Wolfie's Dodge: 2 sux, failed by 5, 4 overage

1d10=3, 1d10=6, 1d10=9, 1d10=5, 1d10=9, 1d10=3

Damage: 4 Lethal (6 total)

1d10=5, 1d10=8, 1d10=6, 1d10=9, 1d10=5, 1d10=8, 1d10=8

No dodge on the second (5 overage): 4 Lethal (10 total)

1d10=2, 1d10=1, 1d10=8, 1d10=10, 1d10=7, 1d10=8, 1d10=3, 1d10=5

"Wolfie's dead, baby, Wolfie's dead."

WP check for Red shirt: 2 sux (he doesn't crap himself)

1d10=9, 1d10=9, 1d10=4, 1d10=4, 1d10=1

Init order: Ira, Wolfie, Cass, Unnamed Thug/Red shirt

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Ira stepped over the dead creature and quickly bore down on the coward, closing the distance. He grabbed him by the throat, pinning him against the front of the Nova.

"Who's the fuckin' alpha now!" Ira spat, "If you don't want to end up like the Fuzzy Wuzzy shit back there, I suggest you go tell your circle-jerk to leave us the fuck alone. Cassandra's no one's to collect. Kapeesh?"

Ira's left hand squeezed harder and blood started to trickle down the peon's neck.

"Yeah, whatever, please don't kill me!" The man rasped out in desperation as he pulled at Ira's hand.

Ira let go, pushing him to the ground. The man looked up as he rubbed at the blood on his neck. The whites of his eyes showed the fear that finally made its way to his legs and he started to get up.

Ira cocked the shotgun as he stood over him, "Run Forrest."

That was all he needed. The man stood up and bolted away from the house.

Ira turned around and headed back up the steps, picking up the fallen tuna as he climbed. Ira tried not to look at the 'werewolf' as he entered the house.

4 shots...jeezuz.

"Hey baby...you ok?"

Ira thought back to the last couple plugs, and reviewed that Fuzzy had been distracted by something behind him, which allowed him to finish the guy off. Ira scanned the room in that direction.

"You see what caught his eye back there?"

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Cassie stared at him, pale-faced and with tears glittering in her amazing eyes. "You got what he never," she said. Suddenly, she dashed foward and slung her arms around his waist. "I would have gone like a lamb," she whispered, pressing her forehead to his neck. "But you are the Templar, the Blackened Knight."

After a moment, she stepped back, touching his now-whole stomach through the rips in his shirt. "My undying Knight." She grinned at him, the last hint of sorrow fading. Cassie danced past him and snatched up the book. "We go to find the fox's hole!" She paused outside the door, then waved for him to hurry.

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Ira put his arms around her as she rushed forward, drinking in the smell of her hair as he closed his eyes.

This makes it all worth it, Ira-my-man.

"Hey...wait...what's this Black Knight-Templar talk?"

The touch to his stomach sent shivers down his spine and gave him a raging hard-on. Any thoughts of Cassandra's weird musings, instantly vacated his hormonal brain. Ira scrambled to gather the tuna and Spam after she pulled away, instinctly hurrying on the thought she would leave without him. Though if he had more blood in the upper half of his body at the moment, he would recall the keys were in his pocket.

Ira hurried down the steps towards Cassandra, "Hey, how about some sugar baby? Doesn't the knight get rewarded for rescuing the damsel in distress?"

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Cassie stopped her rush and turned back to look at him. "Does a man seek love from his hammer?" Suddenly her eyes widened and her jaw dropped a little. Her breath caught, and she murmured, "Or are you Pelleas, to lay your sword betwist Gawain and I?"

"What?" Ira managed. What the fuck?

She sighed and looked sad. Walking back to him, she slipped her arms around him again. "It's too late, anyway," she murmured, then tipped her head back and kissed him lightly.

Stepping back, she gave him a sad smile. "For now, we share the noose. We should fly before the day dies. We are almost there, though."

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As Cassandra's chapped lips met his, Ira thought he could feel his heart skip a beat. He wasn't really expecting it, and completely forgot to drop the bags and gun to embrace her before she pulled away.

Click to reveal.. (Flashback)
"Doesn't Little Ira wanna come out and play?" she said with a pouty face.

Her ponytail was obscuring half of her face as she looked up at Ira.

"Dammit Lisa, we're at work!" Ira objected playfully, pulling her hands off his belt and pulling his blue Wal-Mart apron down.

They were in the back storage for outdoors, lounging on a makeshift couch that had been constructed of 'stolen' sleeping bags and boxes.

"'I think thou doth protest too much.' We're on break Ira, besides, no one ever comes back here." Lisa said as she once again started to undo his pants.

She was right. The gun counter itself had its own aura that kept most of the common Wal-Mart shoppers away. Add in it being Wednesday and the middle of the day, it was not uncommon for the two to spend most of that day in the backroom 'cleaning.'

"C'mon baby," Ira pleaded, "I have a chem final coming up, and I believe you have a paper due...?"

"Yes, but I'd rather reenact the love of Pelleas and Arcade than to write about it." she said as she straddled him.

She tossed his Chemistry book aside and started to pull off her top when a blood-curdling scream pierced their cloud, coming from the store.

"Ok baby, let's fly, before that noose tightens." Ira stated flatly.

Ira held the door for her as she got in, and made sure to reload his shotgun from the box of shells in the backseat before placing it on the dash and starting the car. They made it back to the road and continued on, the sun already high overhead.

Tension showed in his voice. "Who's your Gawain, and what do you mean by 'its too late'? Am I Jonny-Come-Lately here?"

The sounds of the Barenaked Ladies, "Alternative Girlfriend" emanating from the speakers.

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Cassie's hands clenched as she brought her fists up. Grimacing, she shook them, her face an expression of angry frustration. "The water flows where it must," she said, growing angrier as she spoke. "Wolves sing because of the moon. Gah!" She lashed out and punched the dashboard, then whimpered and cradled her hand. In her frustration, she'd struck with the one that she'd damaged yesterday.

She turned and scooted across the seat, curling her legs under her body. She moved strangely, as if she were being drawn in motion rather than moving. She was too graceful, and it was more apparent than ever right now, as she did all this without awkwardness. She stopped, facing him, her knees brushing his thigh. If he had a wreck right now, she'd fly sideways through the windshield.

Those gorgeous lavendar eyes stared at him from inches away. "Do you cleave to a hammer? Can you... love the saw?" She stared at him intently, her expression an unnerving mixture of hope, frustration, pain and sorrow, at the least. "Or will it be used only as created?"

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Ira looked over at her, as a mixture of pity and puzzlement flashed across his face.

"I'm gonna assume that any attempt to write it down don't help?" Ira said glancing over and bringing his speed down.

The vehement shake of Cassandra's head was easily predicted. Ira killed the music just as Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" was finishing.

"Ok baby, bear with me...I want to understand you, I really do," Ira sighed, drawing a hand down around his lips, "Hammer...saw...love...created..."

The speed slowly ticked down until they were cruising at about 45mph as Ira continued to mumble and ponder. He then grabbed the golf club from under his seat and jammed it through the steering wheel, setting the auto-pilot.

"Are you identifying yourself as an instrument of someone else? Or like a builder's relationship with his hammer? Or mine with my guns? They are more than what they were created for...much more than that, they are loved, cherished, anthropomorphisized."

Ira was talking to himself outloud, as was his habit. His face squirreling in frustration as he used parts of his brain that had been shut down, pushed away and ignored for fear of bringing back memories he was not prepared to handle. His look was not unlike Pooh Bear when he decided to do some thinking.

Ira's face then lit up with a look of 'Eureka!' and Cassandra perked up, an eager look on her face.

"Ok baby, I think I got it." Ira started, turning towards her, clearly proud of himself and talking with his hands as much as his mouth, "Whatever has happened to you...to make you this way, has made you, or others, think of you as some tool, and you are afraid I'm going to end up doing it too."

"Well baby," Ira continued, "I don't see you that way, I don't go risking my life for shovels and rakes, even if they do talk in riddles. You stick with me as long as you want to, nothing more. But I'm hoping that after I get you to this Fox guy, that you wanna stick around."

Ira pulled off his shades, and looked into her eyes, hoping he got it right.

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Cassandra's face relaxed into relief as a dazzling smile passed over her face. She nodded and leaned forward, pressing her forehead to his. "The fox is king; his chirugeon needs the key," Cassandra babbled. The frustration was back a little, but it wasn't too bad; she still smiled at million-watt smile. "The chirugeon will be obscured, but can be found, like my Templar."

She pointed ahead of them; the signs were indicating that they were coming to the intersection of their road and I-35. "Bear as the birds do in winter," she said, pointing at the access ramp. "Fly on, Ira!"

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The smile was all Ira needed to confirm his hypothesis. Ira grabbed the sides of her head as she leaned back, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead.

"See baby, I'm getting the hang of this."

He yanked the club out of the steering wheel and revved the car back up to speed, the engine roaring with a renewed vigor.

Ira smiled as he put his shades back on.

"South! We fly to Fox's Doc!"

The uplifting beat of "YMCA" thumped in the car as the tires squeeled around the corner onto the onramp of I-35.

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