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Friday, 28 April 2017

Faithful Dead

Gap the Lurk has returned from his extended absence; he doesn't seem willing to speak of the revelations which pushed him over the edge. His talents will be perfect for this score; they're going to undertake a dangerous job in service to the Throne of Judgement. With Fancy Frank the Hound in tow they'll infiltrate Strangford House on the day of the house matriarch's funeral.

During the final stages of the wake and before the funeral procession winds its way to have her remains consumed by the electroplasm of the Spirit Warden's crematorium; they will steal the traditional Akorosi funeral offering of a coin from her mouth.

They consider staging a diversion but instead just sneak in, taking a boat from across the canal (where their new turf is located) and creeping through the grounds and inside. There are enough strangers and temporary staff that their presence will hardly be noticed.


Gap's closest friend, Roslyn Kellis has a genuine invitation to the funeral and he has given her a special dog whistle to alert him when the coast is clear - he has a matching ear-piece so that he can hear it.

They're rounding the corner on the 2nd floor landing when Fancy Frank sees a familiar silhouette in a room yonder. He stops and cocks his head; it's Casslyn Tyrconnel - whose younger brother he killed in the Skovlan Unification War. Behind her is Casta, his old friend who tried to stop him and has recently been hunting him for a significant bounty. Fancy Frank's uneven movements attract attention and as Casta points him out to Tyrconnel, the pieces fall into place - Casta is hunting him on her behalf.

He runs.

***

Orlan Strangford
Gap walks right past them, and choosing his moment, quietly sidles into where Lady Strangford lies in state. A mourner gets the wrong idea and leaves them alone with a respectful nod. He quickly opens her mouth, struggling against the rigor mortis and fishes out the coin. It's gold, not the usual silver, but Gap takes a close match out a purse of random coins he set aside for just this eventuality.

He slips out of the room, and into a foyer where a large number of guests have gathered before the departure. Gap spots Orlan Strangford (the leader of the cult's adepts) speaking with his father. He avoids Orlan's eye line - that's one conversation they can't have here.


Fancy Frank runs deeper into the house and up two floors. He's not packing much, and frees a pistol to turn on Casta when he can get the drop on the canny bounty hunter. However, he ends up on a dead end landing - some of the renovations mustn't have gone to plan. Casta draws a fine pair of pistols (the very same ones he lifted off Fancy Frank back in Sunfall at their last run-in) and fires a round at him. Lady Tyrconnel has kept pace with him, and Fancy Frank's return fire prompts Casta to pull her to the floor to avoid getting shot - Frank's fire hits Casta but the bounty hunter must be wearing armour as he turns back around to take aim with his second pistol.

Fancy Frank considers his options and jumps out the landing window...

**

Gap is eyeing up a big payoff for the score, now that he's undertaken the necessary obligations. A small ornately carved hardwood chest sits on a small table in the centre of the room. People are dropped coins into it as they pass. This collection is probably going to some favoured charity of other of the Strangford's but the amount is too tempting to pass up. Gap, as cool as you like, trips up one of the guests, who pulls at the table cloth as he falls. Gap catches the chest as it topples off the table, and using other people's movement (helping the man back to his feet) as cover the lurk empties the chest into his cloak - he opened a vial of silence potion in one fluid motion, and that masks the sound of the cascading coins. His cloak has a hidden pocket which carries the coins without too much bulging and he walks out, calmly and as if nothing has happened.

Gap is outside waiting for Fancy Frank when he sees the hound leap from a fourth floor window. Even with their placement of a rope dropping from the eaves all the way to the ground, there is a moment there where it looks like it's not going to well for Frank!

They run into a couple of household guards, but then Fancy Frank pulls out one of Orlan's standstill bombs and takes them out. They row away into the fog and the hound shivers in reckless abandon.

*

Roslyn Kellis is questioned by the Bluecoats - it would appear that they know she's connected somehow, but the Orphans pay them off and she's left go free.

Fancy Frank reckons he can no longer ignore the perils of being hunted by Casta. Getting help from Steiner and Veleris he starts to track down some of Casta's habits in Duskwall: apparently the bounty hunter frequents a bathhouse in Six Towers. That'll help ensure that his enemy has little gear when Fancy Frank makes his move.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Burning

Previous Session: Rolling Thunder

So, what exactly happened between Kobe and Wire the Chopper?
Well, her plan was to out-manoeuvre and surprise the hacienda owner, intimidate Kobe and her gang and give her own new members a taste of action without a trial by fire. Wire directs her lot to infiltrate slowly, but they bump into a few of Kobe's pickets and there's a small skirmish. Wire, along with Bull, Scabs and Ted roll over the two sentries, and when sounds of their shots carry, Red leads the rest of the gang to press the threat.

Kobe comes out of the main house, fully strapped and packed to the gills. Red has pretty much all of Kobe's gang lined up - her infiltration was so effective that the enemy are all dead to rights.

The maize fields erupt in a roar of over-revved engine and guzzling diesel smoke! Kobe's guntruck comes straight for them. Red pulls the trigger and the rest of Wire's gang follow suit, wiping Kobe's gang out. Kobe screams and goes for Wire, but she is gunned down, the magnum round making a serious mess of her skull. The windscreen of the gun-truck is shattered in a red mist as Red turns her guns on it, taking out the driver and sending the vehicle off crashing through the fields.

Wire has the sniffles as they take control of Kobe's hacienda - this place'll serve as a base while they head out raiding. Plus now they have Kobe's two gun-trucks as muscle and transportation.

They head out towards Logger; there's a small hold at a crossroads outside of the Valley that has plenty of tech and bikes. Red had scoped out another few places for TumTum's shopping list; and they virtually clean them out. When they get back, Wire is feeling sick.


So, if you remember, that angry torch-wielding mob had grabbed Dusk the Skinner out of her bed in the middle of the night.

Wire has brought about half her gang into Watering Hole for market day in the morning, they're outside the hold after visiting Ripper for some doctoring advice.

Kim the Savvyhead is in her shed and she's the quickest to come out into the chaotic space behind TumTum's bar; in her Hello Kitty PJs and gas mask.

Dusk has just escaped the grasp of the two guys holding her and she sprints, taking a route that'll bring her around to the front door of the bar where she's hoping Dremmer will be awake. She sees Kim raising her phazer at the chasing thugs behind her, and ducks. Behind her Kim sees Sundown, who she reckons is the biggest danger and she aims straight at the woman.
*PHAGOOM*
The phazer explodes in Kim's hand and the savvyhead falls to the ground, in obvious discomfort, but somehow not screaming in agony at the wretched mess of her right hand. Dusk is momentarily stunned and is caught again as she struggled to get back to her feet.

She whisper Dremmer's name directly through the Psychic Maelstrom. He's better get here soon. But she doesn't lie down for these fuckers. Again, somehow she struggles free and runs. She doesn't run for Kim, their eyes meet for a single moment; maybe the savvyhead won't be able to help her, or maybe Kim's better off with Dusk going the other direction.

She runs the other way, and that's when she sees the stake set deep with combustibles all round it.

***

Wire wakes up to the gunfire that broke out when Dusk first escaped, and while she's gathering her gang to go investigate, rushes to the scene when Kim's phazer explodes. They're armed with their pistols and knives.

Kim is hauled aside by Ripper and is getting medical attention to her ruined hand.

Dusk muscles her way through the few people in between her and Wire's arriving gang.

As the two armed groups square off against each other, Wire yells out across the divide
-What the hell is going on?
-She's an agent of Hell and must burn!
comes the reply

A bedraggled Dremmer arrives on the scene behind the mob. He has the punk-hammer but can't see Dusk through the crowd - she's behind Wire pointing out Sundown, who seems to have been the one who stirred up all this trouble.

But Dusk's attention is no longer on the escalating face-down. Further out, in the darkness untouched by the mob's torches, a thin cordon of figures appears out of the dust.

Wire strides through the mob towards Sundown - the erstwhile member of the gang is behind others, as if she's afraid of attracting Wire's attention. The mob parts initially, but one right in front of Sundown fights for her, maybe in panic, but effectively as he shoots Wire in the leg. She spins out to the ground and then the mob close in on the prone Chopper.
She's comes back to her feet, laying around with her machete to make room for herself and then decapitating her opponent. She leaves the blade stuck in his neck and is still in the middle of the mob.

**

Dusk wonders who these strangers are. The thick valley mud falls off their inhuman looking bodies. But she sense a familiarity, her dream-catchers had reached out to call Dremmer and they feel familiar somehow to her tattoos. One steps forward into the moonlight and she knows the tall gaunt silhouette in her deep memory. It's Midnight, her mentor from the Witchlands. His face is intimidating and menacing.

Wire's gang moves in to break their way through the mob to her. There's arterial blood sprayed on her face from her previous victim and she calls Sundown out
-Ladies and gentlemen, excuse me! Sundown, you bitch! Stop hiding!
Sundown panics and reaches out (maybe guiltily), but it's the last thing she does. Wire's magnum rings out and Sundown's dead, shot in the face.

With medical attention out of the way, Kim still wants Ripper. She suggests they get high on some narcostab together. She pushes Ripper a little by whispering that they're going to heal the world together. That's enough for Ripper, though even to Kim, the sex seems mechanical and detached.


Dusk remembers the last time she saw Midnight. The Mirror-Faced Queen had decided that Dusk needed to die, and Midnight exiled her from the Witchlands instead of carrying out the sentence. What lies he told the Queen, she's not sure.
-Glad to see you child.
-Surprised to see you at all. I'm not really dressed for the occasion.
He looks at her almost naked body and wraps her up with his cloak.
-You've grown. In confidence and the way you affect people.

Wire's crew lays into the mob as soon as she shoots Sundown. She turns to get them to stop, but it's too late and she's never had to rein in her gang like that before so she hesitates and the moment is lost. There's some return fire, before the fight stops, Bull takes a round to his kneecap. He howls with the pain, and in the aftermath, Wire kisses him to calm him down.

Kim regards Ripper on the bed. She can sense truths about the doctor as if she were a thing to be worked on: Dremmer touched her last - she's hopelessly addicted to opiates - her parents were no one of consequence.

*

Dusk catches up with Midnight.
-Let's cut to the chase. What the hell are you doing here?
-I knew I was needed. We have been walking the world for some years
The coven congregate behind them.
-The Mirror-Faced Queen loves yesterday, but we seek tomorrow. I heard you. You learnt the Call?
Dusk nods, she's had some success with it so far. Though it may have made people nervous and uncomfortable.

Dremmer rocks up, he's really apologetic about taking so long to get here.
-Sorry I wasn't there for you
-Hey, you came as fast as you could.
She steps in close, and holds his hand
-Move in with me
He's surprised, overwhelmed even, but he suggests she move into his quarters in the bar; it'll be much safer and she nods in agreement.

In the bar, Dusk grabs a good bottle of whiskey to share with Midnight. Dremmer is noisily moving her stuff into his room.

In the middle of ecstatic throes with Ripper, Kim had a bit of a breakthrough in her thinking on the lurgy. Seems like she was thinking of it all wrong. Those who open their brain to the Psychic Maelstrom aren't more susceptible. They've mistaken cause and effect. The increased connection to the Maelstrom happens after infection, which is what kills them in a process entirely separate from any brain openings.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Closing the Noose

Previous Session: Summary Judgement

As GhostBlade and Monger bargain with The Throne of Judgement, Quess the Spider and Fancy Frank the Hound assemble their trap for the inevitable response of the Billhooks to the Orphans claim on their rival gang's turf.

Fancy Frank is a bit groggy from his last fight; there were people looking for him to throw it in the 3rd, but he refused angrily. Of course he lost the fight anyway (in the 4th) and now he reckons more people than usual want to bring the pain. 

Brogan, Quess' informant inside the Billhooks, has let them know that 9 or 10 gang members are coming to see what's going on; he's the Billhooks' designated scout for this punitive expedition and Quess and Fancy Frank deploy their gang of thugs to a nice (almost) cul-de-sac where they'll draw the Billhooks away from Brogan's well-scouted location. Quess is thinking of her informant's long-term future with the Billhooks and doesn't want to blow his cover. 

Quess is planning to get the locals riled up against the Billhooks and use that an her opportunity to spring the trap. She knows from talking with Brogan that the leader of this cadre of Billhooks, a man called Narcus (Coran's old lieutenant) is well-known in the gang for abusing kids, so she starts to spread that rumour along the shopkeepers of Bridge Road. She's in civvies.

Fancy Frank has set up in a good sniping position above the alleyway leading to the ambush site. He's fully strapped for a real fight.


Before she can close the deal with the grocer, a shot rings out from behind her. The Billhooks have arrived early and the lead thug opened fire with his pistol. The shot clips Quess' shoulder and hits the shopkeeper square in the chest. Quess just runs, the plan is obviously not going to work with the locals as a lynchpin now, but all the other pieces are still in position (she hopes). She sprints for the alleyway and they chase after her.

Fancy Frank takes careful aim with his long rifle, making sure not to hit Brogan. He squeezes off two rounds as they make their way down the alleyway after Quess, but then he realises that he's left the rest of his rifle ammo behind - that fight must've dulled his routine more than usual, he's not quite as sharp. He jumps down and draws a pistol to give chase himself.

Quess is losing her lead, and the Billhooks behind her are gaining quickly. Brogan, smart lad that he is, runs interference for her by taking the lead and preventing the others from getting within striking distance. Quess draws a blade and wheels around, causing them all to stop suddenly in surprise. Then she takes a deep breath and standstills Brogan right when he's in front of her. She uses the confusion to make her escape and she races into the cleared store-room in the killing zone, grabbing the pistols on the chair before pointing them back at the doorway.

When the Billhooks arrive, they are cut down by the violent ambuscade that Quess' thugs set for them with Quess and Fancy Frank adding to the carnage, and only two or three are able to escape.

**

When they triumphantly return to their lair with the looted gear of the Billhooks and some new turf to add to their expanding territory, they find an exquisitely written letter for their attention. Even with the expensive paper and skilled calligraphy, what really grabs their attention is the Scurlock family seal.

Lord Scurlock, who is kind of friendly with them, requests that they acquire an important and arcane scroll from the cult who worship the Web of Pain. He includes some particulars to help them identify it, but expects to hear back from them soon. They could really do with the return of Gap (their 'lost' Lurk).

Fancy Frank goes down to the boxing rings, but doesn't even get a chance to put his name down on the lists. Some disgruntled punters beat seven shades out of him before his cousin (a local sergeant in the Bluecoats) saves his ass. They're the two black sheep in the extended family, so they do get along, despite their being on opposite sides of the law.

*

Oskar Scurlock
Quess goes down for that, the Bluecoats at the precinct are surprised to see her, but he jail-bird should have little trouble inside - though it's the first time someone from the Cult has made the trip across to Ironhook Prison. This'll take a lot of heat off the Orphans

Inside, the Spider intervenes against some thugs to save the life of young Oskar (before going in Lord Scurlock let her know that Oskar was secretly his great-grand nephew). Quess' usual subtle and social approach to problems backfires inside, and when she has done her time, she's paranoid. She doesn't trust in honour or social etiquette to protect her anymore. 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Rolling Thunder

Previous Session: Bigger Ambitions

With Fox nowhere to be found, Brother joins up with Wire's crew, making his van available for their raiding/resupply trip.

Kim the Savvyhead is burning the midnight oil on her cure for the affliction that is now spreading beyond Purity. She is wearing her gas mask at all times (apart from inside her shed in Watering Hole). She's a hermetically sealed...well, hermit. Hearing rumours, she visits Madame Cho about her girls being sick and briefs Ripper before heading over. Ripper takes out this marvellous fully enclosed rebreather helmet - it makes Kim quiver.

Dusk the Skinner takes in the hacienda she's now responsible for. Johnson is fiercely proud of his work in taking it from Chum - he tells her how the old guy couldn't keep order and his labour force revolted against him. It was best for everyone that Johnson invaded when he did.



Johnson leaves Dusk to take stock and she calls in the whole gang (it's about half and half Chum's and Johnson's). She stares at the dozen tough nuts in front of her, mulling her options over.
-No matter what you thought til now, you work for me now, and you all work together. If anyone thinks they can't leave their old loyalties behind they'd better walk now...
There are a few glances and awkward shifts
-If I find out anyone's been talking to people off this hacienda about our business, I'll have their hide. I mean, say for instance, someone was letting Johnson know what I'm up to. The rest of you are going to beat the living shit out of that poor bastard.
Killer is boring a hole in the floor with his eyes.
-Who knows this place best?
A young, scrawny thing sticks up her hand. Haystack is her name. Dusk addresses the rest of Chum's old crew.
-You happy with her being in charge of the gang for a while?
There are a few ribald snickers, but no actual dissent (tacit or explicit).
-Well, ok then. When you're out there, you have to mix it up, no sticking to old cliques. Set up shop and send in the workers.

About 40 tired and hungry workers shuffle in. They're not meeting her gaze and don't volunteer anything when she introduces herself and tells them that she's going to change the way things work around here. She's not used to talking to a crowd of people, usually she's most effective one-on-one or with small groups.
-You're going to work for a wage. And once things stabilise we're all going to share whatever profits this place can make.
There's a bit of murmuring after that, and the couple of guards who stuck around with Pinky to oversee this meeting exchange glances.
-After a few months if anyone wants to leave, they're welcome to. I'll tattoo any extra bands you need on your arm to walk out of here. Just remember in the meantime, as far as any hacienda owners outside are concerned you're still just slaves.

She spots a familiar face in the back, a guy called Lang who used to trade trinkets throughout the Valley. He's used to be able to take care of himself, mostly by talking his way out of any trouble. She remembers he was one of her first customers when she set up her place behind TumTum's a few years ago. She reckons he'd be a good person to pick to be a temporary leader, like Haystack.

Damn it if that doesn't touch a raw nerve with the rest of them for some reason. They hurl abuse at him, (calling him 'Stinky') and when she pushes him aside to call the loudest of loudmouths forward she finds herself standing toe to toe with a hard nut called Marlo. She turns defence into attack, telling him he'd better not fuck up if he's going to be the foreman, he stalls and then she turns him around, back towards the others.
-Who pretty much ran the farming here, regardless of what Chum said? Who will run things best?
He points at Pinky, who confidently walks forward and accepts the job. She leaves him and Haystack hash out a plan for the hacienda to present to her later, and she grabs Killer to go upstairs.

***

Kim and Ripper take a look at Sister Assumpta and Scarlet. They give them the prototype anti-lurgy fetishes and then they make up another few to run a controlled test on 10 subjects. Kim gets some extra insight from Ripper, who's been putting together a cocktail of drugs to help people who don't have the full-blown version get over it while the fetish does its work.
Between this and Ripper's fantastic piece of breathing tech, Kim is more than a little turned on, but Ripper turns her down, and doesn't even give her the inside track on the helmet.


Dusk leads Killer into the main bedroom. When she takes off her coat, he looks like a deer in headlights. So she tells him to close the door; he can choose which side he wants to be on. He's a little anxious and after they have sex, He just doesn't know what to do now. So she wonders if he thinks it could be because he's just slept with his boss's girlfriend? She pushes, and he knows that Johnson values utmost loyalty above all things. That sends him into a tailspin, and then she tells him that this means that he really works for her now, he can't risk going to Johnson with any of what she's doing here or he'll find out. He freaks out and leaves.


Kim goes off to Serenity, but Wire's gone from there with her gang. There are tattered tents arrayed near the old hacienda. Sick people lie within, and there's a small group of Found's cult huddled around a fire in the ruins. As she pokes around, her tricorder gets another ping from Johnson's phazer. There were no guards at the gate into the hacienda and there's no look-outs here. Apparently Wire told them they'd be fine, Kobe wouldn't be causing any more trouble. 6 are okay, there are 12 with the lurgy - Goldman is the sickest and most of the rest got sick after Wire's gang arrived. But now they're driving around out beyond the Valley.


She examines Goldman more closely. Opening her brain to the psychic maelstrom, the monster are no longer cute, they're truly monstrous and the usual relaxing bubble bath has been replaced with sulphurous hot springs. Goldman is glowing in a two-way stream of phosphorescence; between him and a nearby monster which is similarly iridescent. A tentacle licks Goldman's upturned eyeball and at Kim's behest it claims the rest of Goldman's mind. He ceases glowing. Later on, during the night, his heart stops and Kim takes a blood sample. Some new information.

And then another ding! from Johnson - he's going to owe her big time!

**

Over the next few days, Dusk is making inroads into running the hacienda. But she needs to get back to Watering Hole - market day is coming and she needs to line things up with TumTum. She gets Killer to drive her back in, but they haven't even pulled away when Johnson drives up in his jeep. There's  big flatbed behind him and Dusk climbs out of Killer's battered sedan to see what the hell is up.

He's excited to show her what he's got, but she cuts him off. He really needs to follow the usual hacienda-visiting protocols. You know, like he'd do if he were visiting anyone else. He shrugs that off, surely that can't apply to him here!

He gestures to his guys and they pull off a big-ass tarpaulin off the back of the flatbed. On top is a long black limo - shiny and chrome. She rolls her eyes, and walk over to Killer. He'd better tell her what that is and where it came from, and he knows he has to.
It's Barker's car, but it doesn't even run, it's just something pretty to sit in and have parties.
When she points this out to Johnson he's nonplussed - of course! He just wants her to be happy, she'll get a smooth ride on top of the flat-bed truck. He storms off with his guys when she refuses, it takes an age to turn the truck around and Killer and Dusk share a silent half hour (apart from cursing from Johnson's crew).


In Watering Hoe Dusk shares whiskey on the porch with Kim and Killer (as Dremmer looks on). Kim studies him, he's a danger to Dusk and her. What she really wants to know is how they can get him to choose Dusk over Johnson. He obviously thinks she's fantastic, and will do just about anything for her. However, Johnson gave him real purpose  (a job and a roof over his head), and he feels like he owes Johnson for that. Sure, the boss is a violent guy but he takes loyalty seriously. So Kim will just have to show him that Johnson really only care about himself and not his people.

Across the alleyway, they can see some fresh graffiti: "The Whore of Babylon", "Burn the Witch!"
Dusk talks to Dremmer, she can see he's a bit hurt, but she reads him into the plan with TumTum - they're going to take these bastards down, any hacienda owner who won't play ball.

*

Night falls.
Dusk's door is kicked down and she's pulled, almost naked, from her bed by a couple of raging thugs. Outside there's a mob with torches and they hurl abuse at her. Dusk yells for Dremmer and Killer to help, but as they drag her away she struggles, elbowing one of her tormenters in the face and escaping.
One of the crowd shoots at her, but somehow misses and she runs past the snarling faces...

Next Session: Burning

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Bigger Ambitions

Previous Session: Big Plans

Wire the Chopper wakes up groggily after a raucous party at Watering Hole. She's tied to a chair and surrounded by 4 tough guys with pipes. AT and Freddie come in with pliers and a hammer. This is Johnson's payback for that happened to Mad Bill (who Fox kicked in the back in that fight over the solar panels at the hacienda). He's wheeled in, he can't walk and it looks like he's had a stroke as well. Wire doesn't buy her way out of trouble, or promise Johnson anything so they take it out of her in blood and pain. They dump her on Ripper's doorstep when they're done.

Kim the Savvyhead is still holding her clinic at Purity. Word back is that no one's gotten sick and then gotten better again. So they start hunting for people who've been in contact with the sick, but never gotten ill at all.

Dusk the Skinner is making a list of those she thinks they can trust with their plans in the haciendas and checking it twice. She's not going to approach anyone now, can't risk word getting out so she relies and her and TumTum's knowledge of the people instead. She's so busy that she doesn't notice for a while that business is pretty quiet, she's not gotten any people looking for ink. Outside she gets a frosty look from Tinkerbell, who won't even talk to her when she calls out.

Then Dustwich's van pulls up and dumps Wire off. Dusk helps her to her feet and into Ripper for some medical attention. "Fucking Fox!" is all the Chopper says when Dusk wonders why the hell Johnson's guys beat her up like that.


While Ripper stitches Wire up, she tells Dusk that people around have been a bit weirded out by her lately. When Wire is kinda mobile again, Dusk tells her where she sent the gang, and they chat about Wire's plans to take Purity from Pierre's grasp.

In the bar, TumTum is looking antsy, he can't find Putrid anywhere and he's got places to be. Dusk offers to cover at the bar (she knows how things work in the bar).


Kim's investigations into how to fight the disease are going well, at least until the shooting begins. There's screaming from someone right outside her van and she climbs out in her full biohazard gear, annoyed at the interruption. The Purity people are scrambling to get on the bus while others shoot down from the gallery. There are raiders moving quickly from cover to cover along both sides of the road (ignoring Kim).

The raiders shoot and catch more than a few of those fleeing and ransack everything that's not nailed down. Kim comes across one badly wounded person; who she's sure she can save. Opening her brain she heals the woman with just a simple touch, and this freaks out the survivor as the gaping bullet wounds close seamlessly.

Rum's raider withdraw with plenty of booty (after Kim relays that the people of Purity are feeling poorly) and Jayne (the woman she saved) sits up from underneath the tarpaulin Kim dragged over her face. In payment Kim gets her ancient casio calculator watch,

**

Wire sits near bar chatting with Dusk, wondering where she's going to get a resupply of ammo, especially if her gang are getting involved in some counter-raiding over at Found's hacienda.

Two wiry toughs walk in, dusty from the road. Dusk recognises them after a moment; D and Martinez work as guns/messengers for Lopez. They're confused when she greets them by name, and it takes a whole lot of prompting for them to remember her (to be honest, that's off-putting for Dusk - surely no one could forget her!).

D notices Wire and sidles up to her, looking for a bit of attention. Dusk tells him to back off, raising her sawn-off from underneath the bar. That gets their attention and D walks back to the bar, trying to shrug it off, but it's clear neither of them expected to come within a hair trigger of death in here.

They're looking for Fox, have a message for her - she owes Lopez a load of jingle. The boss doesn't like leaving debts outstanding, no matter how dependable someone's been in the past. Dusk and Wire exchange glances, they can probably live with themselves pointing them in Fox's direction. Dusk tells them that she'll be back as some of her people are still here, so she'll hardly go too far for too long.

Anyway, they're wondering when market day is, they have a shopping list for Lopez - mostly ammo (high calibre stuff) and liquid soap (?). Wire is suspicious, she reckons they're just trying to find out who has ammo to trade and then they'll just ambush them to take whatever they've got.


Dusk calls in Dremmer to talk ammo-shop with them - they're a bit intimidated by his collection of weaponry (especially his lovely grenades!). She pours Martinez a drink and they start talking about tattoos - no one in Lopez really does them, it's a Valley thing. Dusk convinces him that if he returns to Lopez with some ace tattoos (the kind only she can give him) Lopez will be hella impressed.

He relents after a while, and in the back she gives him Lopez' tag (the symbol he puts on his stuff) on one shoulder and a white angel wing going all the way down his other arm. He's really impressed and promises to represent her interests in Lopez when he returns.


Kim asks Jayne to go get Pierre for her and the woman, incredibly impressed with the Savvyhead's abilities (weird or not) rushes off to Purity. She wants Pierre to get blood samples from everyone in Purity. This is going to require a full analysis of the entire population. Scanning sick and well and using the patient histories to create a full picture of the development of the lurgy.

After much work, she notices a pattern. More evident in those that did get sick than those who did not. There's a phosphorescence deep in the blood of the infected - and they are the ones who are more connected with the world and more exposed to its weirdness. She peeks at her own blood and its phosphorescence is blinding.

*

Wire is still recovering but she straps up her leg and jury rigs her bike for the trip out to the rest of her gang in Serenity. See how they're coping under Red's leadership and come up with a plan to curtail Kobe's incursions.

Killer arrives at the bar looking for Dusk - Johnson has a pressie for her, and she'll need to go to the hacienda to get it. She can't leave while TumTum is away, so she gets him to seek out Putrid and bring her back - make her understand that TumTum needs her.


Pierre appears at Kim's van with ten or so well-armed bodyguards. He wonders what she needs from him and he's suspicious when she tells him it's his blood she's after. He baulks when she takes out a needle and when she insists that she needs it he takes out a knife and cuts his hand, pouring the blood into a vial.

She's uncovering more information with a complete picture of the genetic patterns of the Purity populations: newer people to Purity are less susceptible; those with a strong genetic connection to those who've lived in Purity for a long time are more susceptible; the lurgy itself causes damage through contact with the maelstrom. She starts creating a prototype to protect people's brain from infection and to draw out any existing lurgy. It's more like a psychic talisman than a device.


The Serenity Hacienda isn't looking great, a bit run down and no one at the gates. Red and the gang are there. They've got look-outs out and patrols and there's definite signs of some sporadic fighting against Kobe with casualties on both sides. Wire examines the landscape and starts to formulate a plan of attack to give Kobe a bloody nose that'll keep him in check.


D & Martinez have returned to Lopez (they'll be back in a week or so for the market). Killer arrives at the door of the bar and Dusk hears an angry face-off between him and Dremmer. She goes out to find a beaten Putrid under Killer's heel - apparently he doesn't understand the powers of persuasion. Dusk tells him to bring Putrid around to Rippers and that Johnson's good to pay the full charges. He's annoyed but accepts it, but before he goes she gets him to apologise to Dremmer. He bristles at this, but she insists - remember what Johnson told him?

Dremmer is worried about her; when she goes back to Johnson he'd hate if he did anything to her. She nudges him, acknowledging his concern, telling him that he'll have to sleep sometime if it comes to that. Dremmer looks away, like he's hurt that he's not the guy. Dusk doesn't have time to give him a serious sit down chat now; but thinks that his problem is that he thinks he's in the friend-zone.


They drive off to Johnson's hacienda in his battered sedan. It's pretty stifling in there - the air vents are all blocked up because they generate dust like the badlands. When they arrive there a bunch of Johnson's workers are taking down the solar panels. Johnson greets her and suggests that they'll have to get a new car for Killer - one more suitable for her.

He's obviously got something big planned - he looks like the cat who got the cream and he hopes that she'll be pleasantly surprised. They take his comfy car out of his hacienda. He talks about what she told him previously, about stopping the bloodshed. There's burnt corn and signs of fighting, but they drive right up to Chum's hacienda. He gifts her the hacienda - it's all hers now, along with some guards that she can trust...

Next Session: Rolling Thunder