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Author Topic: Steam and Sand 2: Anthracite Days - Game Thread  (Read 25249 times)
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« Reply #250 on: November 03, 2010, 07:08:59 pm »

The Squad Leader nodded. "O' course, the York Military is well organized. The Selby Depot is along this road further north - not too far across the bridge which should be coming up. I'd avoid the bridge and just go through the empty riverbed if your vehicle can take it."

--

The young thief smiled at Miri. "Mmm? Honesty. My lady, if I was honest I would be a long time ago. But, in small, admitted doses, it could be useful." He looked around, checking for others. "Is there a way I can sneak out of here? Name your price. These Yorkies get mighty... riled... about issues of state."
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"Blessed be Science and her handmaiden Steam;
They make Utopia only half a dream."

"So he pulls an alternating-current taser on me and tells me that only the Official Serbian Church of Tesla can save my polyphase intrinsic electric field, known to non-engineers as 'the soul.' "
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
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United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #251 on: November 04, 2010, 06:28:15 am »

Hmmm... Selby, and a bridge. I'll have to say I don't remember either, but its been twenty years or more since I passed this way last, and I was on a converted Matilda bike, as well -- the same one that's parked in one of the aft storage bays aboard our vessel, here, in fact.

Dear me, I'm sorry, I seem to have been very rude! I've neither told you my name nor asked for yours! I'm Professor Percival Van Scagg, sir, fomerly of HRH Military Engineering Corps, late a Cornwallian Commonwealth Professor of Archaeoengineering -- and now, apparently, a mercenary on a salvaging venture. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr...?

A few minutes later, Percy happened to wander back past the door of the cell where Miri was tending the thief; he overheard, through the grate, the thief's question about escape routes, and opened the door as suddenly as he could manage and then shut it behind him as he entered.

"Sorry to disappoint, my good fellow, but though there are more than a couple of ways to escape from this fine vessel, you'll not be using any, not for the nonce at any rate, as we're doin about seventy kilometers per hour at present-- AH! AH! AH!" he pulled the Bergmann knockoff from its holster and the kukri from its sheath in fluid, record time, and pointed the gun at the shaggy head of the professional purloiner, holding the big knife at the ready and twirling it occasionally in a very unsettlingly professional manner as he cut off the fellow's admirable but doomed attempt to rush him and get out of the cell. Van Scagg spoke again, holding the gun very close to the fellow's head, saying, "Now, now, you've just joined us and you want to go gallivanting again? So very rude of you! Anyway, your pursuers are right next door --!" HE was cut off by the juniormost of teh soldiers, who thrust his newly-reloaded rifle in through the door and aimed at the thief. "Good job, that were, mister," he said, as Percy rolled his eyes. "mayhap you oughter go and take control so 's ye don't miss the Selby depot, it's comin' up now on th' roight...

"Harris, start slowing down now, if you will, we'll be coaling up at Selby, just ahead, there." He had resigned himself to the current change in events. Calm yourself, Percy lad, he thought, there's still all those miles to York Atrium to work everything out..."
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 09:19:56 pm by MWBailey » Logged

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ScytheKnight
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« Reply #252 on: November 04, 2010, 09:47:06 pm »

Harris begins deftly manipulating the rig's controls slowing the Child in preparation for a more dignified stop then before. There had definitely been something in Percy's voice and as the Child rolls into view of the depot Harris knows what it was, swearing he flips on the intercom "I don't suppose the squad commander bothered telling you that this place was an armored depot? OK This is getting out of hand, to our 'guests' I strongly recommend you stay clear of the hatches."

With that said Harris pulls a lever on the control board, a short klaxon rings out inside the Child for only a couple of seconds before all the hatches slam closed and lock, a couple of bulkheads also close in the main hall further compartmentalizing the rig.

With the lockdown complete Harris open the intercom again "To our guests from the Yorkshire military, as you may well have just worked out I've put this rig into lockdown. No-one will be getting on or off until I raise the lockdown. You will also be unable to move from compartment to compartment, I strongly suggest you do not try to override the locks as there are additional security measures on these during a lockdown. We will be pulling into Selby depot, if you want to come out of this I suggest that you tell your commanders to get those tanks to back off and stop tracking us, I'm tying the intercom system into the external loud speakers."

As he finishes this Harris brings the Child to a halt in the  middle of Selby depot. OK Rimfire Harris thought to himself Time to come out of retirement.
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"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."

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"The Call of Cthulhu."


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« Reply #253 on: November 04, 2010, 10:41:06 pm »

The Lancashire thief waited until the Professor had left, before looking at Miri with raised eyebrows.

"Lockdown?" He said. "My, this is serious. Are you people some sort of Yorkist elite group? Hmm, no... you don't look the part and you didn't seem to know the squadron. Do you just hate Lancastrians? Or are you all big on that socialism stuff?

The soldiers meanwhile sat dutifully still, checking for the upcoming depot. Their squad leader listened carefully, but seemed satisfied their prisoner was well under lock and key.
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #254 on: November 04, 2010, 11:48:35 pm »

"well, of course it's for the armor, Harris old fellow," Percy said. "everything else gets filled up here as well, of course, but the Armored lads're the ones who need the most coal, so they get to run the place."

"Unfortunately," he added, "It also means they run the guard duty, since nothing can really threaten a tank except for another tank. Incidentally, may I remind you that the only shells we can throw" he ticked them off on his fingers, "are from
1. The rocket tubes
2. my blunderbuss or
3. that weird little shell revolver we picked up back at Sherwood.
So, let's not act like a Land Dreadnought until we're friends with the ones around these parts."

"Squad Leader, sorry the introductions got cut off, but would you mind terribly backing up my address? I'm about to attempt be my old self once more." Van Scagg smiled a wry gallows smile as he continued. "Around these parts and others, I used to be called 'Rimfire'; I was a travelling gunsmith and all-around mercenary siege engineer, very highly respected by all sides, if I do say so myself. I never actually worked for Lancashire but I did repair a lot of their smallarms. I did help McCrory, and his Yorkshire Riding lot," he paused moment, letting that sink in, "get their tanks up to snuff, 'way back when, so I figure that makes me at least a partial Yorkie partisan, for lack of a better term. We'll see just how much of my old sterling reputation remains, if any of it..."

He took the mic from Harris, made sure it was on the outside line, and began the return of the Rogue Gunsmith of the Three Borders.

"Attention Selby armored Depot, this is Percival Van Scagg, That's right, it's old Rimfire. your younger lads've probably heard of my exploits at Chelsea and Westminster, but you old hands'll remember when I used to do business around here as a Neutral Gunsmith.  I've always tended to favor York over the Others, not really intentionally, but still. Now I'm back with a crew and a Family Crest Rig, contracted with a benefactor, and hauling (by dint of guest obligation) a squad of York infantry and their prisoner, a thief who has yet to give his name. Squad leader? Care to verify, young fellow?"
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #255 on: November 10, 2010, 11:07:18 pm »

Miri watched the gears in the thief's head turn. Whatever he was planning could cause her problems and even more so for the crew mates she had adopted so what was needed was a bit of carrot and stick to see what kind of sack full of trouble they were currently holding.  And the professor had just provided the perfect stick.  "Ah the professor has such a way with words don't you think? He is right you are going nowhere for the moment."  She smiled in such a way to say that moment were small things and could be ended fast.  "But before we talk of what is to come next how about you tell me what is in my pocket?  It is small shiny and fell from you I think."  She held the seal in her hand.  "Such trouble for a small thing."
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« Reply #256 on: November 17, 2010, 09:53:04 pm »

The Yorkshire military guards stationed at the depot hurried to restock and refuel the rig. The Squad leader gave verification and did his best to start overseeing the operation. The soldiers worked as fast as they could on the unfamiliar and complex custom rig.

--

"Er... what shiny thing?" muttered the thief. "Oh, the seal. Um... can I have that back? As is, I'm going to get thrown in jail and interrogated. With that I'm going to be thrown in jail and be interrogated for every last piece of information I have. I'd rather be thought of as a thief than a... well... something more important."
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #257 on: November 19, 2010, 05:53:11 pm »

Van Scagg managed to climb out through the turret and go out and oversee the restocking and refueling crews. He thus was available for approach by neighboring tankers, and before long, he was laughing and joking with several old acquaintances and a few fascinated younger fellows who had heard of him but never thought they'd meet him (in truth, several had confessed they thought he was just a wild myth).

Percy had an ulterior motive, of course. Future markets for his skills were just a matter of course, but he also gleaned information about the road to York Atrium and recent and not-so-recent events. He learned the probable cause of the local phantom cat rumour, and with it, news of his old acquaintance Malcolm McCrory and his involvement with a rig that had somehow managed to disappear into the Northern Sands. McCrory, it seemed, had gotten separated from the rig he was travelling with, and driven on ahead. One of two things happened, and no one was really sure which it was. Either
1. A Boar Rider and Black Knight detachment had jumped him at a ford or crossing to the north, or 2. He had seen them massing there and attacked them (as he was famous for doing) all on his own.
Such tactics were common among tankers (they were, after all, the true modern 'heavy cavalry'), but apparently Malc had bitten off more than he could chew; the burnt-out hulk of his beloved APC, 'Molly,' was found at said crossing, along with two blown-out tanks and several dead Riders and their destroyed motorbikes.

No sign of McCrory's body was ever found, and it was said that his adopted leopard, Grimaulkin, which at the time was reputed to have found him and rejoined him on his travels, still haunted the Moors and rocky places of York, always attacking only those who were up to no good (well, that was the story, anyway). There was also a tenacious little rumor that apparently refused to die; the story went that McRory himself was out there too, having limped off badly wounded and then recovering, living off the land and subsisting as a sort of latter-day robinhood-type character, keeping to himself and often fiercely and violently defending his solitude. A kind of side story said that he constantly searched the northern wastes for the rig he had been separated from, in order to defend and protect a Great Lady that traveled with said rig. The story cited several sitings by several units, but all ended more or less the same; McCrory, or whoever it actually was, always faded into the shadows of the moonless night, which was supposedly the only time he ever came close to other humans. He would show up outside a rig, and it was always the rigs that took the form of a train pulled by a steam-powered land engine.

Not many of those present at the coaling station admitted belief in either rumor. "Its more likely that superheated boiler o' his blew up and blasted 'is body to flinders," one grizzled captain said.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2010, 07:15:25 am by MWBailey » Logged
Stella Gaslight
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Looking for a few good lobsters.


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« Reply #258 on: November 20, 2010, 04:48:52 am »

Miri took the seal from her pocket. "You stole it fair and square after all I suppose. But if it is important enough for you to be chased like a hound it might cause them to sniff around us and we don't have the time to assure them that meeting you was one of fates little jokes.  Perhaps you could help us there?"
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #259 on: November 23, 2010, 02:54:17 am »

Percy climbed back aboard and down into the interior of the Child, and went forward to check on things. The pressures and amperage seemed normal, accordingto the nav station's instruments. the other cells were open, including the galley, but the thief's cell was locked. he switched on the nav stations intercom and set it to listen to the thief's cell, and heard Miri talking to the fellow. he couldn't quite make all of it out, but it sounded like Miri was talking to him about the seal.

"Harris, keep half an ear trained on the thief's cell, will you? Miri's in there interviewing the thief fellow. Call for me or Pitivo if it sounds like she's in trouble." Percy asked the younger merc. He picked up the transceiver, switched the switchboard to 'Onboard Only,' and said, "Okay, people, Fueling and stocking's almost finished. When we get ready to leave, we'll wheel around and go back the way we came, and then on to York Atrium, or wherever closer-by our guests ask us to deliver them and their charge. Any Questions?"
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« Reply #260 on: November 25, 2010, 09:54:01 am »

The thief looked her over carefully."Help you? Now, forgive me for being a strict businessman but I would need to know what I got out of it."

He gave a brief pause. "Oh... and the seal was one thing I didn't steal. I swear. That's mine. If you really must know..." He gave a longer pause and then sighed. "Well, no use hiding it from you. But I'm a little... ah... high up as far as the spying circles go. Higher than these bumpkins know. So give me the seal or toss it - please?"

--

The workers soon had the rig refueled and ready to go. The squad leader looked on, impressed.

"Good work, lads." he said, satisfied. He then pulled out an old time-keeper. "We should keep pressing on - we can make York before sun-down still. I'm not going to feel good 'til we have that one locked up."
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #261 on: November 25, 2010, 05:21:13 pm »

There was a nasty little turn in the pit of Miri's stomach.  So this was something big like she had though but this was beyond her scope.  She had no real idea what a spy did other than watch people while they were not aware.  There were depths here the she could not fathom and it made her slightly uneasy for the first time in this journey.  She wanted to get the professor, he was far more worldly than she, but she had opened this sack of trouble and now it was hers to close.  She spoke slowly and seriously.  "You are a dangerous thing I think.  So I will give you what is yours and hope the lords of karma will not come back on me for this."  She handed him the seal and looked at him unsure if she had done the right thing.  She saw the bindings on his hands and frowned it didn't feel right leaving him helpless like this.  He reminded her of a wounded cat she had found once in an other hunters trap.  Se would give him one chance and the rest was up to him.  "If you can dislocate your thumbs fate may sway for you and if it does remember I have done no harm and I urge you to do the same."
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« Reply #262 on: November 29, 2010, 08:32:27 am »

The thief gave her a small wink and a smile.

"Miri, right? I shan't forget. Don't you worry about me."

The rest of the trip to York was uneventful. The prisoner was quiet and when the York Captain checked on him halfway through the trip he was sitting quietly.

Soon York Atrium itself came into view. It was an impressive site, dwarfing smaller Atriums like Sherwood. The actual Atrium itself was very large - from that ran out twelve "spokes" as in a wheel - each of these were filled with greenery. They ended in smaller "village" atriums, which were themselves connected by these long greenhouses to each other. The Atrium thus resembled a giant wheel - and had one of the largest agricultural production rates in England. However, around all of this there was also a fair sized wall, with guards on patrol. Many Yorkists believed they had a utopia here for the common man and were ready to defend it to their deaths. Many vehicles were parked outside the gate they approached - not all were let inside York, at least not without payment or various papers.

The York Captain looked relieved and set about removing the prisoner. However, when they opened the room, there was no-one inside. All that was left was a small note, with what looked to be a red bird drawn on it, as well as a hastily scrawled message - "Until we meet again!"

The Captain cursed, crumpling the note up and shredding it. "'Ow the 'ell did he... I tied those ropes meself. Gah." The man looked dejected. "Can't say I can blame any of you folks. This bloke is one of the slipperiest ones I met. I'll 'ave to start the search all over again. But I thank ye all for your transportation at least. Now I can get a right proper crew of hunters."

The man scrawled his own note, taking out a stamp and sealing it. "There. This will give you leave in York. Entrance at least. You'll 'ave to pay for lodgings - remember that only York currency is used 'ere, so you'll 'ave to convert it. Try doing that with a merchant outside - the rates inside are pretty steep."
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #263 on: November 29, 2010, 11:56:42 pm »

Percy had been chewing on a sassafrass root -- a habit picked up during his stay in Cornwall -- and it stuck out of his mouth like a cheroot as he chomped on it furiously. He accepted the Squad Leader's note and instructions gratefully, thanking him warmly. The problem of how the thief had gotten loose bedeviled him, though. he said, "wait a second, if you will, I feel like I owe you fellows still. Nobody ever just disappears off of a tank. Let me take a walk around her, there's bound to be something left behind." It took only a walk down the corridor, through the engineering compartment and back up to the Command compartment along the other corridor inside the starboard flank of the Child.

There, on the ladder up to the outer Waist Deck hatch, he found several long blonde hairs with a flap of skin on the ends of it all, and a red ravelled thread, like one would expect to to be pulled from a woven red scarf. they were trapped where the railing was bent against one of the rungs that were welded to the inner wall of the corridor. "Hmmm..." he rumbled said, deep in thought, "usually takes about an hour for a hunk o' scalp like this to get this hard....say an hour ago, where were we...?" He went to the cockpit and used a ruler and compass on the map, made few calculations on the abacus and the Oughtred wheel, and said, "here," his finger jabbed down onto the map at a place close to a brownish spot on the map labeled 'Griff's Springs.' "You go back there and cast around a bit, you might find the fellow's trail. I'm betting you'll have to go a few clicks into the rocks to do it, though. That's the best estimate I can make. I hope it helps."

After they had offloaded the squad and continued on their way, Percy breathed, "I was starting to think that thief was going to take up residence! Thanks, profusely, to whomever got him to shift. Is he still aboard?" He looked at Miri for a moment and winked, then turned back to the merc gunman, who was still at the controls.

"By the way, Harris, just for future reference, if you want to really securely lock down the cells on these Family Crest rumblers, you need to actually walk back and chock the latchwheels on the corridor side of the doors; likewise if you want to lock intruders out of 'em when you're inside 'em." he chuckled. "I hope I didn't completely convince that young fellow I'm a Yorkie. He might prove to be a useful contact, someday."
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #264 on: December 01, 2010, 11:32:12 pm »

Miri smiled with much amusement.  "Professor I think that bird has flown far from here or at least it has if it is as smart as I think it was.  Some day I think I will have you explain the finer points of what a Yorkie is other than a small breed of dog."  The lands outside looked wonderfully green just like the picture books her mama had read to her when she was still small.  There were no people like her outside the portholes tho and she wondered if the rather anti traveler sentiments were here as well.  "Shall I cover my hair and be your shadow here or are they used to creatures like me?" The professor was quickly becoming a touch stone for her to use in unfamiliar environments.
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #265 on: December 05, 2010, 02:11:01 am »

An aged big cat, with a faded coat and not as many teeth as a younger animal, watched the Road to York, waiting...for what? Probably, the old girl herself didn't know. but as a chugging, chuffing, gear-singing behemoth with an odd-looking representation of an elephant's head, and the name Child of Airavatta  topped the hill below the rocks where she lurked, Grimaulkin (for that was the only name she remembered or responded to) raised her head in interest. sounds and smells like a rolling, travelling home she had once had, with a crazily-stupid human, (but she loved him in her way, she did), and others who loved her stirred her memories, and she groaned in longing as the metal monster steamed past, and then climbed and leaped down to the roadbed, following the whim that had suddenly cropped up in her half-tame-cat mind, and loped off in a ground-eating, energy-reserving gait after the reminder of past happiness...
-------------
"York's been royalist, then Republican, then switched over to Socialism, lately," Percy answered Miri's obviously half-humorously-intended question, grinning briefly in response. "They pay lip service, at least, to the idea of gender equality, but I wouldn't be surprised if the smaller villages still tended toward the old ways."

"As for Gypsies or Travellers, it's about the same as it is all over elsewhere, I'd think. You could cover your hair, I guess, but I'm not sure about being my shadow. Some of the Yorkie socialists didn't like ol' Malc McCrory (he being a royalist-republican and all). They even tried to frame him for an assassination. Some of that lot remember me and Malc being good friends, and thus don't really like me much."

"I'm not sure how many of those're still around; anybody trying to be my 'shadow' might have to duck and cover. But it might still be a good idea to act thus to a degree. I heard a few years ago that a large percentage of the population is settled Travellers, up on the northeast coast, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they'd get along well with the locals..."
« Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 05:07:42 pm by MWBailey » Logged
Stella Gaslight
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Looking for a few good lobsters.


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« Reply #266 on: December 14, 2010, 03:19:14 am »

"That is the problem in being from everywhere your roots are nowhere."  Miri said watching the people move abut in the greenness. "People tend not to trust the rootless.  But it sounds like your roots are not such a grand thing."  There was a strange ragged boy that steeped out in front of them gesturing wildly and pointing at something behind them.  "I wonder what has agitated that little dervish. Should we pull aside and see?"
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #267 on: December 14, 2010, 03:41:46 pm »

Percy went to the Navigator's station and uncovered the eyepieces of the station's periscope; he flipped a trio of levers and got the three-panel rearward view. At first, he couldn't see anything besides the usual scenery flashing past in apparent reverse view. "Nothing I can see for him to be on about -- wait!" He thumb-and-fingered the eyepiece foci around until the middle panel sprang into sharp focus. There! about a hundred yards back and closing, judging by the rangefinding scales engraved on polished brass inside the eyepiece, loped a shape that Percy had not thought to see again in his lifetime, not since Malc McCrory stopped driving his family's rig on the Brizzle run more than ten years before.

"It can't be, she'd be over twenty by now!" he cried in surprise. "But that looks like Grimaulkin, McCrory's old pet leopard! 'Here, Miri, take a look! she's about forty yards back now, port side of th' road..."
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« Reply #268 on: December 15, 2010, 04:01:06 am »

There was a brief scene of consternation and confusion as the people waiting at the checkpoint noticed the strange cat wandering around They fidgeted nervously, hoping it wouldn't come nearer. Of course, their instinct to run was marred by the desire to not lose their place in line. The guards looked alert, but the thing was too far off for a clean shot and no one wanted to start firing wildly. They mostly just hoped it would go away or give the city a wide berth and that they could get on with their jobs. The work started to go faster and soon a guard came up to them, nearly snatching the gifted papers and scanning them.

"You're clear to go now." he said, impatiently as the cat came closer. "Ah, best be getting in. Never seen anything like that before. Biggest wilderness cat I've ever seen..."
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #269 on: December 15, 2010, 04:55:35 am »

Percy told Harris to drive on through; once they were through the gates and parked properly, He went to the pantry and selected a tin of canned meat.

"If that is in fact ol' Grim, she'll eat this right up," he said. "I remember a few of the signals Malc used to use with 'er -- we used her a few times on trade expeditions back in the old days, she was good for camp security and such." He took off the battered old officer's cap and scratched his head as he headed for the outer rear hatch. "if I'm wrong and it's not Grim, I probably won't be back" he said.  "But if it is, I'll try to be back before curfew. Having a rapport with an animal like Grim can gain points with the locals, and might even get us some extra goodwill with the locals in that village once we finally get there." He strapped on his old maxim, though, just in case, setting a couple of belts over his shoulders, and headed out the rear hatch, clanging it shut and locked after him.

He spoke to the gate guard, as the sun began to sink close to the horizon. The wall and perimeter guards were still debating on whether to shoot the big cat. "I think that cat may be an animal that used to belong to a friend of mine," he told the fellow. We used her for camp security on expeditions. If it's her, I can probably get her to eat this, and then she'll probably go off and sleep someplace and leave everybody alone. if not...well, I've 'ad a good life." Percy chuckled as it were a hilarious joke, and trudged off in the direction of the big leopard when he was given leave to go, but he was told to get back before the sun was all the way down. "or we'll 'ave to lock you out," the man said.

Van Scagg approached the cat slowly, wondering if in fact this was going to be the last evening of his life. "Here, now, Grim? Is that you, girl? Eh, pretty honey girl? Well, he we go, Grimaulkin, my pretty Grim cat." he opened the tin and was still setting it on the ground when Grim (for it had to be her, surely no completely-wild cat would pounce on a cold potted roast ration like it was a queenly feast!) was suddenly right in front of him, daintily licking the juice and toothing out the meaty chunks, gulping it all down with relish. Right out of his hand!somehow dhshe managed to keep from cutting either her lips or her tongue on the sharp edge of the can's opening; that was more than enough proof that here was a tame, or former-tame big cat. Then, too, there was the matter of the horribly-worn collar that still clung to he neck. the dessicated condition of the wide band told as heartrending a story as the fact that that she was out here, miles away from where Malc should, to Percy's mind, have been last seen.

After she had finished the roast ration (her gender was obvious this close up), she face-rubbed Percy and moaned, then sat down in front of him, looking at him interestedly, almost as if she were saying, "Well?"

"Grim, guard out, night, come along light," he then whistled the three signals that meant the same as what he had said, and lo and behold, the cat actually looked him in the eye, then ducked her great head, yawned, moaned, then got up and rubbed against him like a housecat would do, then got up and loped off to a rockpile about a hundred yards off.

Percy did his best to not appear to notice the looks of admiration the guards gave him as he strolled back to the gate and made it inside just as the sun slipped below the horizon. "It's her, he said. "No mistaking it, she even eats like her old self. She'll stay out there til we -- my friends and I-- leave here. She's a good watch cat though, it almost breaks my heart to think what she might have gone through out all alone like that." He went back to the Child and reported that it was in fact Grim and that she might be accompanying them "Not sure if she'll ride on the tank, I'd imagine the last time on Malc's was enough of a disaster to put her off of that. But you never know..."

-----
Grim had recognized the old man, or his scent anyway. He no longer wore the red coat she'd gotten used to seeing on him, and his hair was light gray, almost white, now, like the gray limestone of the coastal cliffs she had ranged out to once. She had decided she would do as bid, for the return of a place with a man who reminded her of her former beloved man-master.
It did not occur to her to wonder what she would do if the new man-master met the same end as the last one; cats like her did not think that way.

So she watched, and guarded the strange big man-place, but did not stay in the rockpile. thus, when an dweller snuck out later, and came to see if she was there, and to try and screw up the courage to shoot her, Grimaulkin was already off on the far side of the checkpoint, investigating the smell of woodsmoke and offal. Silly humans, she thought, they make their home stink and then yowl at each other about it. she flicked her tail  dismissively, like an old wife would flick a fly-swat, and returned to her duty outside the perimeter, traversing the walls and security fences as if they were not even there, or solid, and fading off into the night mist and blowing dust like the Phantom Cats of legend ....
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