A fistful of credits…
In one of the Bellato skirt-worlds, a stranger arrives at a little desert mining waypost that looks a lot worse for the wear. She walks into the inn at the center clearing, surrounded by the circular main road, and across, a row of houses to each side. Silvain, the town’s innkeeper, greets her as she sits at the bar. He asks the Stranger her name… she declines with a wave of her hand.
“Quiet one, eh? That’ll do you good in San Martelito.”
“And why is that?” she asks.
“Oh, you speak. Well, two things you’ll want to know if you intend to keep your head on around here. What’re ya havin’?”
Over a few drinks, he tells the Stranger about the feud between two families who vie for control of the town. First, the Red brothers Ben, Stellan, and Ramone, and their band of offworlder miscreants. Constantly contending with them is the town’s self-appointed sheriff, Baxter, and his cadre of discharged Union servicemen.
“This town’s seen better days,” Silvain wipes the countertop dry with a rag. “Name’s Silvain. I like the air about you, but I don’t know why.”
“Maybe it’s best you don’t,” the Stranger says, “but thanks for the lay of the land. I’ve been looking for work.” Silvain shudders cautiously, regarding her eyes as sharp and terse of emotion as what little words she let out. He eyes her twice-over, emboldened by the conversation, but all he sees are a pair of pistols underneath a thick poncho she wears over her leather all-weathers. Neatening the folds, she stands up. The Stranger scans a credstick as payment, and leaves through the double swing-doors.
As soon as she steps out, a group of men approaches her in front of the saloon’s foyer.
“Hoy there! You look like you’re new here,” one of them shouts, “and new boys pay a tax.”
She doffs off her flat wide-brimmed hat, dropping her thick hair down her face and head.
“Oh! What a treat, its a girl; ya see that, boys?” the obvious ringleader cajoles his three other men. “Girls…” he continues, thumbing a pistol on his holster and drawing his gaze back to the Stranger, “pay double. One in creds, and the other in kind…”, as he draws his pistol. He makes a motion and outlines the Stranger’s figure with the tip of the barrel.
A soaring sandhawk’s shrill cry is heard above the town, but all is quiet save for that and the men’s laughter. A shot rings out, then another, then a third, and then a fourth.
The Stranger sheathes one of her still smoking guns; the four men drop to the dirt. Silvain had scarcely the time to lift a try above his head and duck under the counter. None of the townsfolk go out for a look. She heads back into the inn.
“Prep me a room. Seems like I’ll be staying here for the night if I don’t want any other… extra taxes.”
A day later, from her room window, the Stranger is awoken in the morning from noises outside; a posse riding into San Martelito. A band of men… and a single armored Unit, covered in Union decals. Behind them seemed to be a hoverwagon of crates of mining haul, designed to fit and stack neatly on transport bulkheads.
A cacophony of shouting erupts from behind the roadhouses and sends the escort party on alert. The cries ululate across the town and prompts a series of shuttered windows and gates. The soldiers form a circle around the cargo, with the armor out in front of the perimeter.
The sound of high-caliber gauss and the smell of burnt flesh and metal fill the air, atop the still continuing racket. The MAU drops to its knees, with now a single hole through the cockpit enveloped by smoldering molten armor, dripping like lava inside and out. A caravan guard yells, “it’s the Red Brothers!”, and as soon as he does, more bullets, beams, and fire rain upon their exposed position. A cohort runs away and is pierced through by bullets. Men with red bands around their foreheads start to clamber from trap doors ensconced beneath the sand behind the routed escorts, and assail the remaining with little effort. With the slaughter done, laughter replaces the screams.
“El Rojo claims this shipment, for the good of all in Martelito!” A broad man with an expansive grin declares to the adulation of his gang.
The sound of running cuts their celebration short.
“Cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of war!” all in the clearing hear, as another group runs in from the southern road. They engage the Red Brothers; laser meets flesh and protective plating. “Your snipers are dead, you bastards, and so will you when we’re done here!” a man in front screams to the top of his lungs. Brandishing a long knife quivering with pulse energy, he slices the first Red ganger in front of him, and cleaves the one behind.
The gang had been prepared for everything up until the MAU, it seems, but not for reinforcements from what looks like the town sheriff, Baxter.
Wearing a gold star on his breast, and a chip on his shoulder, Baxter leads his men to the fight. A brutal dogfight ensues, as the Reds’ men brawl like rabid voles as they accept their predicament.
With the mayhem downstairs, the Stranger hears a knock from outside her room. “Stranger, please, we need your help! I’ve seen your handiwork, the town needs those supplies, please!”
She opens the door to Silvain. “Please, the sheriff may be up right now, but the Reds got him outnumbered.”
She nods, picks up her hat, and straightens her poncho. “Sure.”
She makes her way down to the bar, and then to the foyer. She sees a handful more of the Reds hacking their way through the Sheriff’s frontliners, and now Baxter himself cocking and firing a rifle at will and close range. The Stranger walks towards the remainder of the scuffle with a steady, slow, step. The Sheriff’s men had wasted a sizeable advantage by taking the fight to the ground, and the last of Baxter’s guardsmen go down. The gang members look for more victims.
The Stranger draws.
One, through the temples, before he could throw a knife.
Two, in the neck, as he runs and screams hell at the Stranger.
Three, to the heart, as he scrambles for a trapdoor.
Four, to the arm, and five, to the forehead, as he raises his gun.
Baxter, heavily bloodied, leans on his rifle. “Who are you?” he asks of the Stranger, now no more than 10 feet from him.
A slug whines through the air and hits her. It glances off her chest with a loud clang.
Six, through the scope of the erring sniper, at an awning from across the street, hidden by a housecorner. She shrugs the shot off. “Should’ve gone for the head.” Her burnt poncho now reveals a glistening metal plate underneath.
Another voice bellows from behind her; it’s the broad loud man from earlier. “Curse ya! Don’t you know who ya crossin’? I am…”
Seven, right in the mouth and into the brain.
“I don’t need to know which one you are.”
Quiet fills San Martelito.
The Stranger walks to the supply crates. Baxter shuffles towards her and reaches for her shoulder. She turns on a dime, grips his outstretched hand, and breaks it. “You call yourself Sheriff?” She releases her hold. “You have doomed this town with your incompetence. You don’t deserve that badge.”
She climbs up the hoverwagon and scans the rest of the houses. Only the inn has open doors, and between them, Silvain, mouth agape, just as shocked and relieved at this fortuitous chance encounter with a gunslinger as good as her.
“Thank you” he exclaims, and he breaks into a jog towards the Stranger, “thank y–!”
“THIS, IS MINE,” she now proclaims atop the cargo.
Baxter tries to raise his rifle. Eight, through his other unbroken wrist. He crumples to the ground in pain. Silvain drops to his knees and raises his hands, face contorted into horror. “No, no, no, no, please!”
A ship, arrowhead-shaped, obsidian, and humming, decloaks above the cargo, and tractors the entire wagon upwards, the Stranger along with it. Her gaze touches upon the innkeeper, and she tips her hat at him aslight.
“Good luck,” she mouths, as the cargo hold of the black ship opens above her. As the bay closes, a ragged and stained symbol of the Accretian Empire is formed by the exterior doors, as if it was attempted to be removed but the task was discontinued midway. It appears to be in red paint.
Within the cavernous cockpit, the Stranger beckons the pilot. “Well D, that went super good. Not even a full clip. 4 yesterday and 8 today. Didn’t even have to use my favorite gun. How’s that for value?”
“I could have zeroed in on all belligerents”, the organo-technic pilot stands up and replies, towering over twice her height. “Why did you refuse my help?”, in a low grating machinic voice.
“Ya gotta have fun while you work, Diamanthus. Oh wait, you don’t have fun, don’t you.”
“No, I do not.”
“Then I, Quida, queen of this ship, will keep showing you how!”
Stay tuned for the tale of Diamanthus, Outlaw of the Accretia, tomorrow! Outlaw, the wild-west parallel of Novus, is nearly here!
And as promised, another new detail is revealed:
- Outlaw is the home of three special characters who will play out in live in-game events
- 15x EXP server mods across the board, all the way from the server-opening! The parallel of Outlaw is said to be filled with an energy that our story-characters are seeking to take advantage of, and this it seems enables ultra boosted EXP and other gains!
- Completing your Outlaw run (mechanics to be released soon) will earn you a special set of amulets said to be owned by Quida, Fiero, and Diamanthus, and these rewards will be limited to the upcoming cycle.
Bang! See you soon in the killing fields!