Author Topic: Chase  (Read 2214 times)

Critias

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Chase
« on: (02:09:45/11-12-10) »
Homecoming

It was a paper letter that set events into motion. Paper. Real wood, pulped and stamped into a sheet of lined paper, off-white and sliced up with perfect blue-green lines crackling with power like an electric fence. She still loved me. Her father still hated me. There was still a picture of me on the wall at their shooting range. She still loved me! She couldn't have said so in an e-mail or text, because her father monitored those. But real paper and a cheap plastic pen were outside of the realm of things he could control, just like her heart and mine.

I'd kept it, of course. There are things you throw away when you're done with them, and things you keep forever just because the feel of them in your hands or the hint of perfume lingering on them is enough to keep you awake at night feeling hungry and satisfied all at the same time, under a naked, eye-searing, bulb lightbulb hanging from a power cord in your bedroom.  The letter was neatly folded in thirds just like when I'd pulled it from the envelope last fall, but I'd halved it on top of that and carried it in my back pocket ever since.

I'd kept it close to me for eight months, read it a million times a week, counted the days until my contract was up, and did my best not to daydream about her long black hair while I was on patrol. Austin was a shithole even when you weren't distracted, and I couldn't let myself die just because I had her letter in my pocket. The Azzies sent death squads to our side of the river just like we sent kill teams over to theirs, and both sides had their bloody-handed and quick-witted experts training the patriot-terrorists on enemy ground. On top of all the usual bullshit, I had to deal with the fact that I was the luckless asshole in a Knight Errant uniform, patrolling one of Ares' few installations in the beating heart of Lone Star turf. It was a crappy assignment to begin with, but her letter just made me resent it more, made me even more impatient. Eight months. An eternity.  Finally, I was free.

The truck died about an hour past Rapid City, a day and a half after I'd cashed in my uniform and turned my severance pay into an old Chevy. That was alright, though, because the wheels had gotten me close enough. I was back on familiar ground, and my boots could handle the rest of what needed to be done.

Almost the rest. What they couldn't, my hands would do. My hands, and the things I'd picked up from my last visit to a Weapons World as an Ares employee, buying what I'd need and affording it on shitty pay solely because of an employee discount.

I hiked.

Rifle over one shoulder, belt heavy with twin holsters, wearing my Stetson and Oakleys, I hiked. I knew where I was going, because I'd been there before. It had been nine years since I'd set foot on Sioux land, but the fifteen years I'd spent there -- spent here -- before that all came rushing back. Just as soon as I stepped over the last rise and saw her father's land spread out in front of me, sunset framing it, I remembered every second of it.

Fifteen years, I'd lived there. My family and three others, too stubborn or poor to leave no matter how light our skin. After the fireworks of the Great Ghost Dance a thousand years ago, everyone just sat there in Denver, slack-jawed that it had worked after all the paperwork got signed, and then no one knew what the fuck to do next when they were done redrawing the maps. John Red Water knew, though. Before the girl I love was even a twinkle in his eye or a bruise around her mother's, he'd snatched up land. Chaos gave birth to opportunity, land was changing from hands colored pink to ones colored red, and he grabbed and grabbed and grabbed because he knew it would never cost less.

The McReary's, the Scrantons, the Yohe's, and my kin, we all lived cooped up inside razorwire, chain link, and harnessed lightning, penned in on an Anglo Reservation that wasn't a tenth the size of Red Water's ranch. A few of Red Water's men stood at the gate, letting visitors come and go and letting some of us leave every day for school at the church or to work and shop at NatAm stores.

I spent fifteen years in a cage like a white family on display at a zoo. Fifteen years of my mother waiting tables and my dad waiting for her to get him a beer. Fifteen years of him only working crop collection and drinking his pay away the rest of the seasons, lashing out in frustration at my mom and I while he bragged about the Ranger tab he had tattooed on one arm. Fifteen years of NatAm kids throwing cans and rocks at us over the fence, fifteen years of me and Joe Scranton's favorite game being Try To Pee Closest To The Electric Fence. Fifteen years before dad got bad news and screamed and raged and lifted his hand at my mother one time too many. I bloodied a cast iron skillet on the back of his head.

Mom threw me and a suitcase into the back of daddy's car, and hauled the suitcase and I to Texas. Grandpa Landry's house, she told me over her shoulder as we sped through the night, will be our house from now on.

Fifteen years of loving the girl on the other side of the fence, the one whose daddy owned half the continent, the one who smiled at me and had tossed me a bottle of Dr. Pepper with a smooth underhand while the other kids pitched empty bottles overhanded at me and Joe Scranton. Fifteen years of wishing to God she was Irish or I was Sioux, of sweating inside a tin-roofed trailer while I dreamed about bronze skin and yellow sundresses.

Fifteen years of thinking up clever ways to get past the fence together -- after hours, when it was supposed to be locked and there wasn't supposed to be any traffic -- and meet in scrub brush somewhere in John Red Water's back forty (which, to be honest, was a lot more than forty). We passed secret smiles and secret kisses and secret love, all done where Joe Scranton and my father and her father and his men couldn't see. I'd learned every inch of that land, and things didn't change very fast out here. Nine years.  I was back.

The fence around my trailer park of a reservation couldn't keep me in and away from her, the fence around his million acres of Sioux Nation wouldn't keep me out and away from her. I crouched in the long shadows and read her letter one last time -- "I still love you. Come get me out. Swear it," -- and I leapt. Magic uncoiled along with my leg muscles and I vaulted smoothly up and over, Remington hunting rifle in my hands instead of over my shoulder, now.

Four guards rode on patrol, and I shouldered the Remington, married my eye to the scope, and watched them fall as quickly as I could work the bolt. I couldn't bring myself to kill their horses -- she'd never forgive me -- so I watched them go running towards his ranch house. My gun would've let me kill them, but my heart wouldn't. That was alright. I was looking for a fight. I was right. I was finding my heart. My magic and her love wouldn't let me die, whether I had surprise on my side or not. I had a loaded gun, and things were going my way for a change.

I hiked.

I gathered all my Power and kicked the door in. Fieldhands, some I remembered and some that remembered me, pointed an assortment of pump actions and handguns at me. They were men who hadn't been mean enough to throw cans and rocks with their children, but hadn't been man enough to stop them. Time stood still and none of them were quite drunk enough to shoot first.

My holsters emptied, then my Cavalier Deputies did. Magic flowed like a waterfall over me, through me, and what felt like a single heartbeat later I stood in a room full of corpses and gunsmoke. I was an avenging spirit, boy. Ain't nobody gonna stop me. I called her name while I reloaded.

"You came," she said. She was carrying a suitcase, running away as surely as my mother had and for nearly the same reason. Her cheek was bruised. Her eyes were big and brown and full of love and fear like a doe.

I holstered one wheelgun and took her hand, turning to pull her from that place.

Broad shouldered, fleshy around the face the way men get in their later years, John Red Water appeared from a hallway. His long hair had gone gray while I was gone, and he had it pulled back away from his florid face as he bellowed at me. He was just like I remembered, except the hair; big, built like a wall dressed in bluejeans and a button-up longsleeve shirt, with a belt buckle as huge as his ranch and a tooled leather holster on one hip. The ivory of his favorite pistol's grip winked at me.

I tried not to remember the time he'd caught me with her, tried not to remember what he'd told my father that had caused dad to lift his hand to my mother one last time. Tried not to think of how his voice boomed like thunder at his daughter and me, how it had turned low and cold and had sent my father, homeless and jobless then because of me, into a rage that had nearly killed all three of us.

I gave that bastard my best rattlesnake smile, hard and sharp.

"My daughter's not leaving here with some -- "

He had his hand on his gun, but I was holding mine. I stared him in his eyes, took just half-a-step to put myself between his pistol and his daughter, and let things happen the only way they could.

I was faster, but I couldn't twist and lean and let his bullets fly past me the way I did with everyone else. My magic would have let me, but my heart wouldn't. I got shot for the first time in my life that night, but his aim was low with three bullets already in him by the time he could pull the trigger; I'll live, he won't. She'll heal me. Inside and out, I needed it. I was hurting. Fifteen years of this place burned in my belly just like the .45 slugs he'd given me.

I had her. I was done here. I'd never be back.

She threw me and the suitcase into the back of her daddy's car, and hauled the suitcase and I to Texas. Our own house, she told me as we sped through the night, would be our house from now on.

Critias

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Re: Chase
« Reply #1 on: (02:22:30/11-12-10) »
Episodes

I loved the truck. The Harley had been fun, but impractical when we moved locations to Seattle. The Mustang was a blast -- awesome for chases, the centennial anniversary edition looked great, the engine was terrific -- but it was a pain always needing to wait for the clean-up crews since it was almost impossible to wedge a bounty into the back seat. The truck? The truck was awesome. I could pour anything that'd burn into the tank and it would growl like a monster, the cargo loops in the back made it a cinch to just clamp a bounty into place and let him ride around in the rain, and any time I got blood on the chrome push bars it just wiped right off like a dream.

As I found the place, the radio blared. The country station switched tunes from "Working For A Living" over to "Ain't So Brave Now, Are Ya?" at me, and I had the windows down. Some would think it was so the whole neighborhood would hear the number one CAS hit, but the truth was that the radio, station and volume both, was out of my hands. All I could do to give myself half a break was open the windows so the noise could claw its way outside instead of bouncing around in the cab with me. I just hoped the asshole with the audio control switch would tone it down if we rolled into First Nations turf.

I slid the big old Ford into a space outside Shady Oaks and tilted my head back before settling my leather Stetson into place. The circuitry in my Oakleys -- little earbuds already tucked into my pointed ears -- zoomed when I blinked just right, cycled through vision mods and picked up the blinking IR signature of a few drones tailing me. I gave one of them a little nod, settled my hat into place, and headed towards the front door. The leather duster they had me in turned my every step into a bold stride, and it beat the hell out of the buckskin-and-tassles armored jacket they'd had me wearing two seasons earlier. The thing was heavy, though. Heavier than I liked.

WITH COCK-X, YOU'LL FUCK LIKE A TROLL, EVEN IF YOU LOOK LIKE AN ELF! TAKE COCK-X! MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HER FIRST TIME, EVERY TIME! COCK-X! NINA TWO-MOONS AGREES, COCK-X IS FUCKTASTIC! "THE FIRST TIME A COSTAR USED COCK-X, WE ALMOST OVERLOADED THE SIMRIG," THE ULTRA-HOT PORN PRINCESS BLOGGED. TAKE COCK-X!

The lenses on my shades went crystal-clear as I stepped into the semidarkness of the low-rent motel hallway. The cleaning lady, an ork that could've been any age from twenty to sixty, looked at me with big brown cow-eyes. She reminded me of Inez, back at Red Water's place.

They'd taken Inez out when we re-enacted the pilot, but chip-"truth" aside, she'd been a decent gal. They'd gotten a lot wrong with that pilot, spliced it into my first few episodes in black-and-white flashbacks, staged the fight and given us all gel rounds, made it four more men that it had been, turned Red Water from a bitter old man into an aging gunsliger...I'd been the up-and-comer, hungry to outshoot him and steal his daughter away, and...and...ah, Inez. You deserved to have been there. Thank you for my first candy bar.

"Ohmigosh," the ork said, West Coast accent shoving aside memories of a dusky-hued maid who'd turned a blind eye to my off-reservation nights, who'd never told her boss about Rose sneaking out to skinny dip with me. "Aren't you...?"

I shot her a wink and gave her my best smile, but held a fingertip to my lips. Eyes wide as saucers, she bobbed her head and contented herself simply to stare at me. We were sharing a secret. She was being intimate, in on something, with a genuine celebrity. I hoped she didn't have a heart attack.

"Ma'am," I gave her a little nod, and two fingers reached up to tip my hat. They'd been big on me letting the accent drawl out, and even bigger on me being impeccably polite to every woman that wasn't trying to stab me to death, ever since the producers had given up the NAN ratings and opted, instead, to make me a Southern gentleman-slash-good-ol'-boy.  It marketed well with almost the whole CAS market, and most of the UCAS folks who were really, really, eager to show what real Americans they still were.  

"I'd greatly appreciate it if you could point me to room three-twelve."

Never mind that I could see the sign just past her broad shoulders and faded blue-white dress, that wasn't the point.  Talking to her would make her day so I made a point of asking for her help. Her body language screamed at me in all the right ways, and I picked up on every cue. The flush of her cheeks, the way she looked down and fluttered her bare eyelashes at me, the hands sliding behind her back. She was closer to twenty than eighty, I saw then, and the potential of flirting with a tridstar made her girlish enough to wipe away years of labor.

"Three twelve? You gonna do something about the asshole?" God, that look of hope was perfect.

"Yes'm," I nodded, choosing just that moment to sweep back the edges of my duster. One of the watcher-drones was swooping low and peeking at me through a window, so I turned just right; I knew the angles and showed it the gold-chromed bounty hunting license/badge on one side of my belt, the tooled leather holsters on each hip. My thumbs tucked into my gunbelt and I gave the ork and the spy-drone a confident smile.

"I aim to try."

EAT AT QUIXO'S EAT AT QUIXO'S EAT AT QUIXO'S YOU'LL EAT SO MUCH SO FAST YOU'LL THROW UP BUT THAT'S OKAY YOU CAN GO BACK FOR MORE WHENEVER YOU WANT EAT AT QUIXO'S EAT AT QUIXO'S EAT AT QUIXO'S NOW NOW NOW WITH LUNCH BUFFET MONDAY THRU FRIDAY AND REAL BEEF REAL BEEF REAL BEEF ON SATURDAYS FROM FOUR TO EIGHT PM EAT AT QUIXO'S EAT AT QUIXO'S EAT AT QUIXO'S!

One drone whirred around somewhere behind me as I made my way up the stairs, I saw another above and to my left, and lost track of the third one. I'm sure it was getting a good angle, though, where ever it might be. I sighed to myself as I remembered my special instructions -- Rose and I could use the product placement bonus -- and then it hit me that I hadn't managed to work the new blade into any of today's jobs. As I strode past three eleven, slowed, and sidled up alongside the wall by three twelve's window, I stooped and bent over, reaching towards one of my naga-leather boots -- we'd given up on the eco-freak ratings before the show even started, and we'd gotten a good spike in leather-wear advertisements when we'd unveiled the boots last year. As I snuck under the window, just in case someone would open the drapes at an inopportune moment, I made a big show of bringing the thick-bladed Bowie up into my field of vision. The glasses did the rest.

The Ares logo gleamed as I twisted the knife just right to make the chrome-on-black stand out and catch the light. Cougar had their fineblades, and now Ares was taking their piece of the pie. They wanted me to field test the thing, so I figured I might as well get the extra nuyen and cook up a variation on my usual kick-in-the-door tactic.

I knew they'd switch to one of the drones before it aired, knew what information would be scrolling across the bottom of the screen right now. Bounty number, bounty amount, crime, metaspecies, age, height, weight, and threat meter. Blah blah blah. Just another day, another nuyen, to me. The job just hadn't been as much fun since they'd dropped my own -- admittedly ridiculous -- one-sixteenth Cherokee bloodline and stopped pointing out Rose's full-blooded Lakota warrior-princess image every time she helped me out. Her heart hadn't ever been in it, she refused their combat augmentations and had to do so without my own Adept excuses, and she'd quietly stopped being a feature several months ago.  I felt less like a real bounty hunter, since she'd stopped coming along, and more like I was just a trained monkey.  I missed her.

I sighed.

Oh well. Time to make the donuts.

THE BOWIE 2071. SLICE, DICE, AND SHANK LIKE A MADMAN. CUTS THROUGH ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING, BRICKS, CANS, CARS, TROLLS, WENDIGOS, RED TAPE! CHOP DOWN TREES, BUTCHER A HOG, PICK YOUR TEETH, SHUT UP A GANGER WITH A SWITCHBLADE, WITH THE BOWIE 2071 YOU CAN DO ANYTHING! BE THE MAN YOU CAN'T BE WITHOUT ONE! THE BOWIE 2071!

I listened at the door, my own augmented senses doing their best to keep up with the electronics built into my earbuds. One of the micro-drones had wiggled in through an air vent and did the rest for me, popping up a little window into the top right corner of my field of vision. Dirty, small, room. One occupant, in bed, wearing a wife beater and a five o'clock shadow. Body armor was across the room, but the nightstand next to the bed had a big Browning on it.

I smiled. The bosses loved it when some asshole drew a Browning on me right before I beat him.

I lunged with the big knife, stabbing with all my weight and strength behind it. One hand rode the leather-wrapped grip, the other palm held onto the rear bolster to make the push easier. The mono-edged blade slid into the flimsy door like it was cardboard. I tugged, swore, shoved, and sawed it down a few inches, yanked it free, then stabbed the big blade in again. It wasn't really doing anything, but it looked like I was about to cut the knob and lock right off the door.

When the drone's heads-up window showed me that he was jolting away and sitting upright, I gave up the knife act and uncoiled to my full height. My magic filled me with strength as I took a half step back, then two full steps forward, shoulder-checking the door with all my weight behind it. Thunderbird clapped his wings when my shoulder impacted with the flimsy door, and the sound of it shocked my perp the rest of the way awake.

"Oscar Mendoza!" I spread my boots wide just inside his room, balanced and ready, leather duster swirling as the splinters of door fell all around me. It was a perfect gunfighter pose.  I knew one of the camera-drones had it. "Reach for the sky!"

People loved it when I said that.

My glasses auto-zoomed and I saw the grit under his nails as his hand hovered over the big autopistol on his nightstand. I panned them back out to show how wide his eyes were, to see his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed nervous spit. My glasses recorded it -- and I'm sure another drone or two had flown, near-invisible, in to get different angles by now -- but my eyes understood it. It was all body language. Tension. Fear. Weariness. I read him like a book. It's what my magic lets me do...one of the things, at any rate. I project the emotions I want to project, and I read the emotions other people want to hide. Magic.

"You ain't as fast as they say, Chase." His hand shook as he glared at me, feet on the floor, naked butt still on his bed, palm hovering, hovering, just over his matte black pistol. "It's all camera tricks an' shit."

"Why'n't you make a move and find out?" I kept my voice mild, calm. Low enough to sound confident, loud enough I was sure the drones would pick it up. The guys editing the live feed were probably masturbating furiously by now, the scene was playing out so perfectly.

KEVLAR WILLY WANTS TO KEEP YOU SAFE! DON'T BE A STATISTIC! DON'T BE AFRAID! DON'T TAKE A BULLET AND LIE IN THE GUTTER BLEEDING TO DEATH WHILE YOUR WIFE GETS RAPED TO DEATH RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR HELPLESS, PATHETIC, IMPOTENT, DYING SELF! BUY FROM KEVLAR WILLY! FROM POLY-ENFORCED SHOES TO HATS WITH HIDDEN TRAUMA PLATES AND EVERY IMPORTANT ORGAN IN BETWEEN, KEVLAR WILLY WILL PROTECT YOU! KEVLAR WILLY! HE'S YOUR BEST FRIEND!

His hand twitched for the gun. Time slowed for me, the way it always does. He was wrong. It wasn't all camera tricks. I heard the soft scrape as he swung the gun my way, metal scratching the faux-wood nightstand. I heard the whip-crack of my duster tails being flung backwards with simultaneous flicks of my wrists, heard my twin Ares Carnivores slide smoothly from their holsters like I was dragging a whetstone down a blade.

I watched his hand swing up, smelled his fear as he saw that both my guns were already on him, both my arms already high and all the sights lined up while he gawked at how big the muzzles were from the wrong end of an Ares Carnivore. I let him shoot first because I knew what it did for ratings. I could taste his intent, see the line that his eyes and his shaking hand and his gun drew, knew where the bullet would go before he did. It was all body language. I had the magic to interpret it, and fear never slowed me down in my life except once. I'd stared down the barrels of a room full of men I knew to get Rose away from her daddy. I sure as shit wasn't scared of some drunk bail jumper with a piece of shit Browning.

I spun on one foot, twisting like a bullfighter and purposefully letting his first shot tug at my duster to flare it out -- it would look awesome, and maybe if I got it shot full of holes they'd let me pick my next jacket -- and he barely missed me. His gun barked again, and I dove forward to let his second near-miss pluck at where the leather bunched up around my shoulder.

My Carnivores boomed. In passing, ringing in my head alongside the echoing gunfire, I wondered if the execs had loaded them with gel rounds or EX today? Then I was tucking and getting my shoulder under me, turning my dive into a roll and springing back to my feet to keep both guns trained on him, and both guns visible in the camera shot from my Oakleys.

Mendoza's head whipped back and when I saw the splash of blood on the wall behind him I thought I knew. The recoil felt light, though, and then I saw that the blood was just from where the pair of gel shots had smacked his head into the wall harder than his skull could take. He slumped over, out cold, concussed at best and hemorrhaging at worst, and I shrugged on the inside.

He'd drawn on me. It was his fault, not mine, if they'd been live rounds.

"You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes," I said for the microphones, twirling my Ares revolvers expertly, holstering the left first then giving extra flair to the routine I spun the right one through. Folks ate this sort of thing up.

I slapped it home, then made a big show of standing close enough to Mendoza to reach out and scornfully snatch away his harmless, worthless, Browning. I made sure the glasses had a good view as I slapped the old-style chromed handcuffs around one wrist, and let my accent go, to really drawl it, out as I made with the boring part. "Y'all are hereby under arrest, claimed and tagged by the rights given me as a licensed bounty hunter, employed under contract by Knight Errant Security..."

I didn't mention on camera that I was an employee of Ares Entertainment. It didn't matter that my not being a full Ares security employee was the loophole that let me operate off Ares turf, it didn't matter how an old contact had gotten me the gig, it didn't matter that they turned me into a caricature of myself and made my truck play music insulting to my Sioux wife after I'd shot her daddy down. It mattered that it payed the bills, that I was good at it, and that I did all my own fights and stunts -- real fights, real stunts, real blood and normally real bullets -- so that I didn't feel like a fraud. I had Ares Security experts to handle most of my legwork, and a pack of drones and widgets in my glasses to record the whole thing...I was working, dammit.

I tugged him off the bed and let him sprawl on the floor, twisting his wrist around to get the cuff on his other hand.

The steel guitar from "Working For A Living" echoed in the back of my head, fading out to be replaced with the scornful vocals of "Ain't So Brave Now, Are Ya?" as I looked down at Oscar Mendoza, whose room I'd stormed into knowing full damned well he'd do his best to kill me.

Oh well. It was a job.

CHASE: ERRANT KNIGHT!

THIS EPISODE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY ARES, COCK-X, QUIXO'S AND KEVLAR WILLY! NEW FOR THIS YEAR, THE ARES CARNIVORE HEAVY REVOLVER! DON'T BE CAUGHT DEAD WITHOUT ONE! BUY ARES, BUY THE BEST!

« Last Edit: (02:41:52/11-12-10) by Critias »

Critias

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Re: Chase
« Reply #2 on: (02:23:25/11-12-10) »
My two old Chase stories.  Let the record show, by the way, that I'd initially posted these on Dumpshock well before the "Chase" tv show that started this season, featuring US Marshals in Texas.  I like the show, don't get me wrong...but I'm not copyin' off 'em, I promise.   ;D

Angelone

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Re: Chase
« Reply #3 on: (12:46:31/11-12-10) »
 ;D I started reading and it seemed familiar it wasn't until I hit the ads on the second part that I realized I had read it before. I like Chase the best out of all your characters.
REJOICE! For bad things are about to happen.
la vida no vale nada

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Re: Chase
« Reply #4 on: (14:17:32/11-12-10) »
Yeah, the ads are pretty...distinctive.   :D  Glad you like 'em!

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Re: Chase
« Reply #5 on: (19:21:34/03-15-11) »
Just a friendly little bump to the top...and a friendly tip;  fans of our buddy Chase here may find a few things they like in Attitude, which is available as a PDF now!