This one is for Den, for
urging me to keep playing in this wonderful playground Mark has made for us
all. Thanks for reminding me why I do this. I owe you one Pal.
morning is lonely out in the Outlands. In a place where most that call it home
scrape out a meager existence under the threat of the Barons, and their Mag
forces, it seems more appropriate to call their home the Wastelands, and not the
Outlands. Many excepted the world they lived in because it was the hand dealt to
all Outlanders. There had been a time when those that lived in the Outlands had
been free to roam or settle down and raise a family. But now that was just a
dream that had died when the program of unification was brought about. Now there
was nothing left to think about beyond surviving daily life, the future meant
nothing to most that live out their days in the outlands. The man standing on
the rock bluff over looking a scattering of trees surrounded by endless miles of
waist high prairie grass knew, these simple fact's, as did all outlanders.
Craye stood looking out into the desolation of the Kansas Outlands. His eyes on
the sky above and the far way horizon as he drew a long drag on his hand rolled
cigarette. He savored the feeling as the smoke filled his lungs and nicotine
began coursing through his body. He was alone as he had been for much of his
life, he was use to the isolation he lived in, but he never got use to the
feeling of death watching him as the hour of 4am came upon him. It was the time
the sick and old let go of there hold on life. It was the time infants took
their last breaths before SIDS swept in to claim them. It was the hour when the
human body reached its lowest levels, heartbeats slowed, and breathing reached a
level almost too low to measure. It was a time when one saw things they could
not explain, like black triangle shaped UFO's streaking across the heavens. This
black Triangle shaped ship was the reason Craye had come to an isolated bluff in
the Kansas Outlands. Aliens invading the world was something only a child or
fused out stupe would believe in, he had no time for such things. But then this
strange ship appeared again almost a month later, this time it flew along at
ground level, and at a slower rate of speed. It again appeared at 4am, as if
those piloting this strange craft knew the significance of the 4am hour. That
thought scared Tyler Craye, more than anything else did at that moment.
wasn't sure what the mysterious pilots of the craft wanted, but he knew he
needed to find out, because it was only a matter of time before what they wanted
set those same pilots on his scent. In the Outlands other people's troubles had
a nasty way of infecting the lives of those who tried to mind there own
business. He wanted to know what he was up against before he infection the
strange craft represented infected him. He knew his survival depended on his
being able to fight those that controlled the strange craft. In the Outlands
there were only to kinds of people, Killers and victims. Craye had never been a
victim and he had no plans to become one anytime soon.
knew he was getting in way over his head as he flicked the remainder of his
cigarette off into the darkness. He quickly took stock of his possessions. He
was dressed in an assortment of homespun clothing and patchwork of furs. A
battered M-16A-1 was slung tight across his back. A Navy combat knife was
sheathed on his left hip, a .45 Caliber Colt 1911 was holstered on his right
hip. A large rut sack at his feet held two days worth of provisions along with a
blanket and a one-man tent. Satisfied he had everything he may need; he slide
down the back edge of the outcrop and to the ground. He struck off northward in
the wake of the strange ship and its unknown destination.
minuets later Craye came upon the ship. He had just come to the edge of a muddy
embankment dotted with grass, coming with in sight of a small settlement called
Deadwood, having taken it's name from the river that ran along the western edge
of the township. Craye had only ventured to the collection of ragged tents and
mud and grass huts a few times before. He only came when he needed food, trading
furs with those in the settlement for what he needed. Then he would disappear
out into the harsh territory of the Outlands. His first indication that
something was wrong was in that first glimpse of the township stretched out
before him. The normally bustling dirt streets filled with venders, whores
plying their trade and packmen, where empty and silent. A single mangy mutt
sniffed his way up the main drag searching for something to eat. That single dog
was the only visible sign of life in the town. Craye drew his Colt 1911 from its
holster on his hip as he slowly descended the embankment and entered the town.
He barely entered the town when he the first puddles of blood. They where
scattered through out the town, the streets, and doorways to tents. Sticky,
shinny, pools of crimson, that attracted flies, and brought the scent of death
on the wind. Craye head west through the town, towards the river.
had set this course known that water was life in the Outlands. One could live
without food for several days but without water one was as good as dead in two
or three days tops. The river was the life-blood of the town, and if anyone were
left in Deadwood they would be close to the river. Or so he hoped. He spotted
the triangle shaped craft, as he reached the end of the main street, which was
nothing, more than a dirt track lined with tents and huts. He ducked behind a
wooden hut and took in the scene below in relative safety. The craft had landed
along the bank of the river a large section of the hull on the right side had
opened to reveal a large cargo bay. A squad of Mags held most of the town's
residences at gunpoint near the opening to the Cargo bay. They had been
separated in three groups, men, women, and children, which seemed to be anyone
under the age of twelve. As a twelve year old boy name Calvin whose father
traded with Craye was in with the group of men. Oddly his father was no where in
sight though his, mother and sister where in the group of women.
sight of Mags with the strange craft made Craye extremely uneasy. Their presence
meant that one or more of the nine Barons was involved in someway. Even though
the Barons rarely exacted there control over those with in the Outlands they and
their Ville Mags were the most feared figures in the Outlands. He was pulled
from his own thoughts as the Mags began singling out member of each group, who
were placed some distance away from the rest of the towns people. It quickly
became clear that those being separated from the other groups were the old and
sick. The sound of booted feet on hard packed dirt drifted to him from somewhere
to his right. He drew his combat knife and slipped inside one of the tents. He
quickly scanned the interior of the small space, which was sparsely furnished
with a single cot, a home table and two chairs. There was only a single flea
infested fur blanket on the filthy stinking mattress. On the table was an oil
lamp, a tin cup and box of self-lights. Craye slipped the self-lights into his
pocket, leaving everything else. He moved to the back of the tent and with his
knife made a tiny slit that he could peer through, in the rear wall of the tent.
The street beyond was silent and dark. He was just about to pull away and check
the street out front when two Mags stepped out of a tent, three down from his
position and across the street. They quickly moved to the next tent along on the
same side of the street. It was obvious they were searching for something or
someone. They couldn’t be looking for him because he had only been in Deadwood
for several minuets, and he’d been careful. Not to mention there were only two
Mags doing the searching, if his presence had been discovered then whoever was
in charge would have sent more than two Mags to hunt him down. Any less than a
dozen would leave him with plenty of room to escape into the surrounding
gripped his knife tighter as he two Mags stepped back out onto the street. One
said something to his partner, who laughed in reply. It was only then that Craye
heard a second set of voices and more laughter coming from the street behind
him. He moved to the doorway and squinted through the gaps between the two
flaps, spotting two Mags only a single tent away from the one in which he was
hiding in. Two Mags had been assigned to each street, and they looking for
anyone left hiding in the tents and huts. Whatever was going on the Barons did
not want any witnesses. Moving to the side of the tent facing that the second
set of Mags were about to search, He made a straight slit down the side of the
tent, parting the fabric with ease. When Both sets of Mags had disappeared
inside there respective tents he slipped out into the narrow alleyway between
the two tents and began moving back down the line of tents towards those that
had been searched already.
had gone roughly thirty yards, down the street on which he had seen the first
pair of Mags when a shout sounded from his left on the main drag through the
settlement, followed by the staccato roar of a Sin Eater on full auto. Sheathing
his knife Craye drew his Colt and looked around for the source of the shouts.
Bullets slammed into the dirt less than a yard from Craye’s position. That
galvanized him into motion, as he broke into a headlong sprint towards an
alleyway between two huts. He made it into the alley just as more 9mm rounds
from at least three Sin Eaters bit at his heels. He flattened himself against
one wall and fired several rounds from his Colt into the surrounding darkness.
He waited for return fire but none came. He had no idea where the quartet of
Mags was at the moment. But he had no doubt that he would be cut down by Sin
Eater fire the moment he stepped back out onto the street. So he turned and
began moving towards the other end of the alley.
he reached the end of the Alley he found himself facing the river with the
Triangle shaped craft and the rest of the Mag force standing between him and
escape. His only other option was to try and scale the western side of the
embankment that stood on three sides of the settlement. But to do so would put
his back to the town, leaving him vulnerable to the pursuing Mag’s Sin Eaters.
He suddenly remembered something that his father use to say, When your left with
no choices in a combat situation do the unexpected. It was something his
grandfather had told Craye’s father, having learned it from a man named
Trader. His Grandfather had ridden across the length and berth of the Deathlands
in Traders war wags. Until one day he met a women in some small pest hole ville
in Idaho and decided to settle down.
that instance in the middle of a hostile ville filled with Mags he smiled. He
turned and ran back down the alley, spotting a trio of Mags making their way
towards the mouth of the alley, as he reached the end of the alley and erupted
onto the street with a inarticulate cry of rage. The Mags in their black
Polly-carbonate armor and helmets came to a stop in the middle of the street,
raising their Sin Eaters all at once if there where all part of the same
consciousness, but they didn’t fire their weapons. Craye didn’t return the
gesture instead he hosed the three armored Mags with .45 caliber rounds, until
the slide on his colt blew back empty. The rounds slammed into the chests of the
three Mags making them stagger back several steps, but did not penetrating the
continued to sprint towards the trio, then he was behind them, before they could
regain their balance. He slipped in between two tents, moving between them to
the next street over. The sound of boots pounding across the dirt track behind
him filling his ears. He came out onto the Main track in a full sprint, seeing
that there were no Mags blocking his progress, as he headed back the way he had
come into town. On the run he fished a fresh full clip from his pocket,
reloading his empty hand blaster, and slipping the empty clip into another
pocket. He’d made it Halfway down the street when two Mags came charging out
of the shadows between two tents, their Sin Eaters spitting flame and death.
White-hot agony erupted along Craye’s side, causing him to stumble, his colt
spinning off into the darkness, as the dirt track came rushing up to meet his
face. He glimpsed a pair of black boots inches from his face, before the
darkness came rushing in to claim him.
Craye woke with a groan his eyes fluttering open to find that the sun had risen.
He was still on the banks of the Deadwood River amid corpses and the wounded. He
was staring up into the pale blue of a perfect cloudless sky. His whole body
ached, along with a dull burning sensation along his ribs. With a low groan he
slowly got to his feet, taking in the scattering of corpses. The few who were
still alive would not remain alive for much longer. Glancing down he noted his
knife had been taken, and his blaster was somewhere on the main drag. The
corpses that littered the ground around him, had all been dispatched with a
single 9mm round to the back of the head. Those that did not die instantly bleed
to death in minuets.
fact that there were half a dozen or so bodies with that last vestiges of life
in them, meant that the strange craft with its Mag force had left no more than
half an hour before, probably a lot less. In his condition he could not pursue
the craft, but he needed answers. He silently hoped there were survivors in
Deadwood that would be able to tell him what had happened. Because a quick
inspection of those still the right side of the dark river, where to busy with
the enigma of they’re own passing to be able to tell him much of anything.
That left the town and the off chance that someone had evaded the Mag search of
the town. What struck him, as strange was the amount of blood caking the ground
along the riverbank and surrounding area. He could tell immediately that there
was more blood around than what would have come from the corpses around him. He
pushed those thoughts from his mind, as more immediate needs took precedence,
like the need to become armed once more. A quick search of the corpses around
him turned up no weapons of any kind on any of the corpses. Whoever had done the
searches had done a thorough job of it. Unarmed Craye slowly made his way down
the many drag in search of his Colt 1911.
found it several minuets later, just inside an alleyway halfway down the street.
It had obviously been over looked during the Mag withdrawal from the area.
Checking the action, he smiled to himself, after finding the clip fully charged.
He slammed the clip home and jacked a round into the chamber, before doing a
tent by tent search. He found the man a few moments later. His name was Kevin
Shaw, the man who Craye traded with each time he came into town. The same man
whose son, daughter and wife, Craye had spotted in the group of town’s people
gathered near the craft. None of them were among the corpses that litter the
riverbank several hundred yards away. But the great amount of blood caking the
ground around the riverbank did not necessarily mean they were still alive. Or
that Kevin Shaw would ever see them again, in this lifetime. But Craye was not
about to tell Shaw this. Instead he quickly and reassuringly explained that
Shaw’s wife and son where not among the dead out on the riverbank and at least
eighty percent of the towns people were unaccounted fore.
calming the man, Craye asked, “ How much of what happened here did you see?
swallowed several times before answering. “ I was out trapping about to make
my way down and take my chances when I saw you on the ridge opposite me. You
disappeared back towards the center of town and then Blaster fire broke out. I
stayed put, waiting an hoping you’d be able to free the prisoners and that
I’d be able to help you in some way. Two Armored Mags dragged you out to the
craft ten minuets later. I lost all hope, because you had been armed with a hand
blaster and you were taken down. Even after being hell on wheels and faster than
the stories about you say. They took your knife from your belt and left you.”
I was shot in the chest, or so they though. I was only grazed along my side but
they though I was dying so they left me behind to die, is the best I can figure.
“ Craye explained. “ Did you see what happened to those they didn’t kill?
No. “ Shaw replied “ Once they started executing their prisoners I slipped
back into town. I had no wish to witness my family being slaughtered. “
I understand. But it still leaves the question of what happened to more than
fifty people? From what I saw back there on the riverbank not everyone was
slaughtered. It looked to me as if only the old the old and sick where executed.
The healthy people like your family where taken in that ship somewhere. I can
feel it. “
This was the Barons wasn’t it? “ Shaw asked, “ There were more than fifty
Mags out there with that ship. “
Yes, and that’s why I want to find out what they were doing out there. I shot
at those Mags earlier, which is an offense that cares a sentence of death if
convicted, and yet I was left alive for some reason. I want to know why? “
How do you propose to find this ship? Your wounded, and in no condition to
travel. If you go after this ship and by some stroke of luck you find it. What
happens then? You’ll be so weak from blood loss that you’ll be no good to
I have to try. “ Craye gritted through clenched teeth. “ There are fifty
innocent people on that ship. You and I are the only two people alive that know
the Barons took them and whisked them off somewhere. If it was me on that ship
I’d want someone to find me.”
But why? I have family on that ship, but you have no one on that ship, and
nothing to gain by getting into a firefight with those Mags again. You barely
survived the last round you had with them and there were only half a dozen.
There are more than four dozen on that ship. “
It’s all about Survival. Its only a matter of time before I or someone I care
about gets swept up in whatever the Barons are doing. That’s why I’m doing
Then you’re going to need more than just an old Colt 1911 to fight them with.
“ Shaw replied as he stood up and moved to a large trunk along the back wall
of the tent. He flipped the two brass latches and lifted the cover to reveal
what lay inside. Inside was a small armory of weapons. A green army crate filled
with an assortment of grens, plastic explosive and pencil timers occupied the
bottom third of the trunk. Kevin reached inside the trunk and pulled factory new
Winchester repeating riffle chambered for 30/30 rounds. A matching pair of
Silver 9mm Beretta 92FS hand blasters in shoulder leather came next. The last
thing that Kevin pulled out was a razor sharp kA-Bar Marine-fighting knife,
along with several boxes of 9mm ammo and a case of a thousand 30/30 rounds. He
laid it all out on the table for Craye to inspect.
This is some heavy shit. “ Craye rasped “ None of this is easy to come by in
the Outlands. How did you get all this? The ammo alone is worth a fortune. “
Before I came to Deadwood I was a trader up around the foot of the Darks in
Montana. I picked up most of this stuff from a group of Lakota Indians, who
claimed they could get plenty more, where these came from. “
What the hell where you trading. “
Medical supplies. They had three pregnant women in their group so they needed
what I had and they were willing to part with this small armory you see here.
Alright but none of the caliber’s you have here will penetrate Mag armor.”
answering Kevin plucked a box of 9mm rounds from the table and with tossed them
to Craye. “ Look at the box.”
Craye read the box. In block letters it said ‘ Silver tipped armor-piercing
rounds. 9mm caliber ’ That made Craye smile, for the first time since he had
entered Deadwood. “ These even things out.”
Ok I have one other tip for you and it concerns the 30/30 rounds. “
Those helmets the Mags wear. “
The face plates are not bullet proof. They shatter if they’re hit with
anything bigger than a .45 caliber round. The shards take out the Mags eyes,
seconds before the slightly spent round cores into his head. “
Good to know. “ Craye replied “ Its nice to see that these Bastards have a
All I know about where the ship went is that a short time after I came back here
I heard it fly off to the south, back the way it came from.”
nodded as he slipped into the shoulder leather with the two silver Berettas snug
in their holsters, his fur coat slipping comfortably over the whole thing. The
kA-Bar Marine knife went in his left boot. A few grenades and the boxes of ammo
went into his rut sack. The Winchester was slung across his back. His colt tied
down on his leg.
I’ve got one more thing for you. “ Shaw said moving back to the trunk. “ I
almost forgot these. “ He reached in and with drew several empty magazines for
the M-16 and the Berettas.
Thanks, for everything, Kevin. “
“ You can thank me by bringing my Family back to me alive. “
He replied as the two of them walked out into the growing dusk of the coming
night. A whole day had slipped by without either of them noticing. But that
didn’t bother Craye, because he moved better and faster in the darkness. The
night was a whole lot more forgiving of a wrong move than the daylight.
I’m going to do just that. “ Craye vowed. “ Or die trying.” With that he
turned and slipped off into the darkness. Leaving Kevin Shaw with his thoughts
and a small spark of hope that he would see his family alive again soon.
Days Later: The northern Missouri Outlands.
Craye knew he was close, he’d been wading through the dead for almost two
days. Now he was so close he could feel it. He could almost taste the wave of
death that had lead him to an isolated ville in Northern Missouri named Glenwood
Pass. It sat on the edge of the mighty Mississippi, drawing steamboats and
traders to its streets. Or at least that was the way it was before the Program
of Unification restricted trade on all major waterways through out the Outlands.
Now Glenwood Pass was nothing more than a fortified ghost town inhabited by
barely a hundred souls, who made there living from the river. They were
scavengers, fishermen, boat builders, and small time traders that the Barons
ignored because they were so small they posed no threat to the trade agreements
the Barons had established during the program of unification. For more than
ninety years the Barons had left Glenwood pass to its own devices, until now.
Craye crouched just inside the fringe of the forest, roughly a hundred and fifty
yards from the main gate to Glenwood pass. He silently watched the scene below
him. The strange triangle shaped craft had landed just outside the main gate to
Glenwood Pass, and unleashed its Mag force on the unsuspecting little Ville. It
was the same as it had been back in Deadwood. Everyone was rounded up from with
in the ville walls, and herded out to the ship. The healthy ones where loaded
onto the ship and those that were old and sick were put aside to be executed by
Mags just prior to the ships departure. Craye meant to see that no one died and
that the ship did not leave the ground with its human cargo. He had watched this
senseless act of violence play out twice since leaving Kevin Shaw and Deadwood
behind. In that entire time he had been unable to verify whether or not
Kevin’s Wife and children were still on the ship or if they were even alive.
He was about to make his move and hopefully he would be able to rescue those on
the ship from an uncertain fate. He had promised Kevin Shaw that he would try
and rescue his family and he meant to see that done.
his matching pair of Silver Berettas, Craye moved along the fringe of trees
towards the western side of the ville wall. He was hoping to make it into the
Ville undetected. He knew he would be cut to shreds if he attempted a full
frontal assault, against more than four dozen highly trained Ville Mags. But his
chances of success increased greatly when he attacked from their flank. It was
an hour off dawn as he slipped through the trees, towards his point of entry. He
stopped and scanned the surrounding area for Mag sentries before breaking cover.
He holstered his hand blasters before sprinting for the wall. He reached the
wall and had scrambled over in the blink of an eye. His feet hit the soft packed
earth with a dull watery squish. Crouched in the shadows he scanned the street
he was on, as he drew his Berettas once more. He moved with the grace and
silence of a hunting panther, as the shadows swallowed him up. He encountered
the lone Mag only moments later.
had just moved around the side of a run down building that served as the towns
saloon, with in sight of the main gate, when he spotted the lone Mag moving
along the street, sweeping the buildings for any remaining towns people. Craye
Smiled to himself as the Mag drew closer because it was time to get some
answers. He only hoped that the Mag moving towards him would be able to provide
those answers. As the Mag moved across the mouth of the alley, Craye’s arm
shot out and hooked around the armored neck of the Mag, pulling him into the
darkness of the alley. The Mag fought against Craye until the helmet the Mag
wore was ripped off and cold gunmetal came into contact with his cheek. Craye
Showed the Mag the Silver Beretta, seeing the man’s eyes go wide with
If you tell me what I want to know then you may make it out of this with nothing
more than a headache and a bruised ego. Understand? “ Craye whispered
menacingly. The Mag nodded twice in quick succession. “ Good. Know tell me
about the triangle ship. I’ll know if your lying, I’ve been following you
for two days now, since Deadwood. “
Mags eyes widened again for the second time in so many minuets. “ You’re the
one that was shot in Deadwood. It took half a dozen Mags to neutralize you. We
all knew you weren’t just an ordinary Slagger. But no one knew who you were.
That’s nice but I’m on a fucking time table here. “ Craye hissed “ I
need to know about the people on the ship. Where are they being taken and why?
We’re out here gathering fresh genetic material for the Barons. Without it
they will age and begin to die. At least that’s what we’ve been told.
We’re supposed to take the Aurora and her shipment to a set of coordinates in
New Mexico. Some town called Dulce I think. “
Why are the Barons going to all this trouble. Why Outlanders not use the surfs
in the Tartarus pits in the Ville. That’s the same as Outlanders here in the
Outlands. Many of the people in the pits are Outlanders that were granted
citizenship. Why aren’t they using them for their material? “
Because of the pits plagues and outbreaks. The material is tainted, and useless
to the Barons. The Outlanders are subject to outbreaks far worse than the Pits
have ever seen, but their immune systems are strong and healthy. This makes the
Material perfect for the Barons uses.”
this the Aurora’s first mission for pure material? “
No, its been out two other times before this mission. “
How many subjects are on the ship right now? “
Mag hesitated for a moment, until Craye cracked the barrel of his Beretta across
the man’s head. “ It’s hard to say. The last count put it over seventy.
That was just after the Deadwood run. “
Are all the Deadwood subjects alive? “
Yes. We were given orders that none of the material was to be harmed any way.
They are the Barons orders. “
Which Ville do you belong too? “ Craye demanded
CobaltVille. “ The man replied “ But there are Mags from eight out of the
nine Baronies assigned to the Aurora. “
So this is not the doing of just one Baron? “
No. We have been told the survival of the Baronies depends on the Aurora and us.
That’s all I know.“
That’s all I needed to know. “ Craye replied as the barrel of his Beretta
came down across the man’s temple, laying him out cold on the damp earth.
Stepping over the man’s still form Craye moved out on the street, a silver
Beretta gripped in each hand, as he moved towards the two dozen Mags ringing the
Aurora. He got with in a hundred yards of the strange ship before any of the
Mags noticed. The moment Cray saw the man’s mouth form a warning scream he
began firing. Starting with the man about to warn his comrades that they were
about to have uninvited guests. The crack of the Beretta, as he fired a three
round burst that slammed through the Mags armor and into his chest cavity, was
was instant chaos as Tyler Craye began firing at anything in black that moved.
He succeeded in killing a half dozen Mags before any of the surviving force
returned fire. Sin Eaters leapt into waiting hands and instantly began spitting
flame and death. Craye sprinted to the rusted out remains of a pre-dark pickup
truck that had been stripped for its parts long ago. What remained offered
adequate protection from the Mag Sin Eaters and Copperheads that were blazing
away at his from all around the Aurora. 9mm bullets slammed into the rusted
framework, shaking flakes of oxidized metal to the ground and revealing the
shinny new metal beneath. Craye holstered his Berettas, and Un-slung his
Winchester Repeater and dropped to the ground. He took careful aim for the
tinted visors on the Mags helmets, knowing all to well that those visors
amplified any available ambient light, to allow the wearer to see in a light
green hue that cast away any and all shadows.
Winchester bucked against his shoulder as the first of the riffles eight shots
erupted from the riffle barrel. He snarled in savage satisfaction, as the head
of the Mag he was aiming at disappeared in a spray of blood and bone. Craye was
shifting his aim to his next target even before the corpse of his first target
had time to hit the soft packed earth. He killed two more Mags before he was
driven to ground as other Mags pin pointed his position and began concentrating
there fire on that point. He rolled out from under the truck, coming up on one
knew by the front bumper of the truck. He drilled two more Mags with 30/30
rounds through their visors before ducking back around the truck once more.
quickly thumbed in five fresh rounds into the riffle, to replace the five he’d
expended on the Mag force. He need a more defensible position he could hold or
it was going to be only a matter of time before the Mags superior numbers over
whelmed him and he was cut to ribbons by Sin Eater fire. With his back to the
rusted out chaise of the truck Craye desperately scanned the surrounding
building seeking away out of the area and finding none. With a curse he turned
back toward the craft and the Mag force, just as they began a headlong rush
towards his position. Without a clear destination, but knowing that it was
hopeless to attempt to hold his position Tyler Craye sprinted back down the
street he had used to approach the Mag force’s blind side.
around a sharp corner Craye found himself facing a large three story structure
that had been an office building of some sort, but had since been converted to
combination Saloon Hotel. As he sprinted down the street towards the structure
he realized that the building hadn’t been occupied in sometime, as all the
windows were gone, along with the front door. The brick steps that lead into the
buildings lobby where cracked and crumbling, long since faded to a mold green.
He vaulted through the remains of the front door his Berettas magically
appearing in his hands. He could hear the pounding of Mag boots on the street
outside, along with the slicing whisper of Mag Armor shifting with its owners
movements as he hit the wide winding staircase to the floors above. He could
feel the wood beneath his boots straining with his weight with each running step
he took up the stairs. But the two-century old stairs held and he reached the
second floor landing and sprinted off down a long corridor that ran from one end
of the building to the other. He reached the end and cut around the corner out
of sight, he stood peering out of a front window onto the street below and the
dozen Mags that had rung the outside of the house. He could hear at least
another half dozen or so Mags moving around on the first floor. He could feel
time running out as he struggled to decide what he next move would be. If he
took out the trio of Mags he could see covering the front of the house, he would
alert those inside of his position. If he didn’t take the opportunity to
decrease the number of Mags chasing him, it could prove to be a fatal mistake.
he couldn’t hide from the Mags in the Building for long, Craye holstered his
hand Blasters and pulled the Winchester to his shoulder. Steadying the barrel on
the windowsill he dropped the riffle sights on the nearest Mag to his position,
and he stroked the trigger. Jacking a fresh round into the riffle chamber he
shifted the sights to the next Mag along and fired a second round. He was
jacking a third round into the chamber before the echoes of his first shot had
died way. He took aim at the final Mag guarding the front of the building and
fired, watching as the visor shattered in the splinter of a second before he was
pitched onto his back with a bullet in his head.
was up and moving even before the final corpse had hit the ground, thumbing
three fresh cartridges into the breach of the riffle as he moved. He could hear
someone shouting orders somewhere below him, as he moved towards the backside of
the building. He could no longer see any of the Mags he knew where out there
watching the building. After his little display out front he was not surprised.
Mags may be the ones saddled with imposing Law and Order in the Outlands but
none of them had any wish to die out in the field with the slagger scum they
where saddled with controlling. As silence fell over the building, Craye moved
through the shadows of the building like smoke through a keyhole. Knowing that a
half dozen Mags were silently stocking him through the building made his uneasy.
had just begun his circuit of the eastside of the building, when a lone Mag
appeared at the end of the hall opposite his position. Acting on instinct Craye
snapped up his Winchester and the riffle cracked once, spent brass falling to
the floor, as the visor of the Mags helmet exploded. Then Craye was running
forward, and vaulting the stiffening corpse as he slipped out of the corridor
and onto the north side of the building. He found a stairway leading up to the
third floor half way along that corridor. He bound up it feeling the staircase
shutter under his weight as he moved as silently as he could. He stopped at the
top of the stairs, and cautiously peered around the entranceway and right into
the mirrored visor of an armored Mag. Before he could move the Mag snarled with
rage and dropped the barrel of his sin eater across the back of Crayes head.
Craye hit the floor with a grunt as darkness swept in to claim him.
slowly inched his eyes open, bright light stabbed at his retinas, causing him to
snap them shut once more. The voice that spoke in his ear made him jump. “ Lay
still Mr. Craye. You took a nasty beating at the hands of those bastard Mags.
Where am I? “ he croaked out
You’re on the Aurora. “ The voice answered
Are we moving yet? “
No, Mr. Craye. You’ve only been out for a few hours. It seems we’re hold up
here in Oak Glen Pass for the time being. At least until the sun goes down. The
Barons don’t want word of the Aurora spreading, so these Mags are under orders
not to fly unless its dark or the Cargo is in Danger. “
How do you know my name? ” he asked
I’m from Deadwood Kansas. You trade with my husband Kevin Shaw.”
caused Tyler Craye to sit straight up, his eyes snapping open. “ Were are your
son and daughter? “
They’re in another part of the ship with the rest of the children. I’m more
frightened for them than for myself, because it seems as if the Barons have
special plans for the children. Something far worse than what’s in store for
all of us.“
I spoke with your husband back in Deadwood before I began chasing the Aurora. I
told him I’d find you and do my best to get you back to him or die trying. “
It is a noble promise Mr. Craye. But one that I’m afraid you will not be able
to fulfill. No one has ever escaped from Aurora. You are unarmed and there are
Mags roaming all over this craft.”
I’ll find away. I always do and now will be no different. I have to because I
gave your husband my word. Now help me up so I can take a look around this dump
and figure out a way to spring us. “
a reluctant sigh Mrs. Shaw helped Tyler Craye to his feet. He looked around the
large rectangular shaped chamber that he had been taken to. All four walls,
along with the ceiling and floor were composed of the same sooth black material
as the outer hull of the craft. A single door made of composite that appeared to
be booth durable and thick appeared to be the only way in or out of the ship. He
and Mrs. Craye where sharing the large chamber roughly three hundred other
people. All dressed in mismatched furs and handmade clothing, that were typical
Outlander attire. He began moving around the outer edge of the chamber.
Searching the walls, floor and ceiling for any other ways out. He knew a room of
the size he was in needed some sort of venting system for air exchange and flow.
But as he moved around the outside edge he could not find anything that
resembled a vent. No matter where he looked all he could see was smooth black
He hissed through clenched teeth. “That door is the only way in or out of this
I told you no one escapes from the Aurora once they’ve been lock away with in
I’m not giving up just yet. All of us out number the Mags about seven to one.
If I can come up with a plan we should be able to overwhelm them and take
control of the Aurora. We destroy it and its no longer a threat to us or anyone
what I’ve seen so far, that’s easier said than done. Some of these people
are from Idaho near Hells Canyon. They were the first ones to be taken.
They’ve been prisoners more than two weeks. Time is a little distorted in
here, but from what I can figure after talking to almost everyone in here,
that’s about the right time frame.”
you being fed?”
twice a day. In the early morning and in the evening, that’s how we keep track
of the passing of days.“
about bodily relief?“
mean where do we go the bathroom. They let us out in Pairs roughly an hour after
each meal. Those are the only times were aloud to re-leave ourselves. When
we’re allowed to go the Mag presence is heavy and they watch our every
gives us a chance. A slim chance but a chance all the same.” Craye replied “
Do you know were exactly the children are being kept?“
what I over heard one of the Mags telling another, their being kept in a chamber
directly below us.”
they can be monitored more closely there. That was what made me fearful that
they were being used for something special that will be worse to endure than the
fate we have hanging over our heads.”
nodded not knowing what to say that would reassure her that everything was going
to be fine. It was going to take a miracle for them all to get out of the Aurora
alive and in one peace. But he had promised Kevin Shaw that he would do all he
could to return his family to him, and he had no intention of realigning on that
promise. Kevin Shaw was not a hardened warrior like Craye, he was an Outlander
but his life was a relatively safe, if not easy life to live. Deadwood was a
culture that had men and women who were warriors who protected the town from
everyday threats. Shaw was a farmer with hardly any combat experience despite
having more hardware in his possession than most common Outlanders.
knew in his heart that despite this simple fact if he had not come along, then
Kevin Shaw would have pursued the Aurora himself and attempted to rescue his
wife and children. His lack of combat experience would have doomed him to
failure. Even now as Craye thought about all the firefights and pitched battles
he’d taken part in over the years he wasn’t sure even he could rescue this
woman and her children. The odds where as long as he had ever gone up against in
his life, and he had serious doubts about his ability to make it out of the
chamber much less out of the ship. If he had been alone, with only himself to
worry about he would have back him self against the Mag forces. But with a woman
and two children to safeguard out of the ship he was going to need every trick
he’d ever learned living out in the Outlands if he was going to survive.
Slowly he slid to floor next to Mrs. Craye, and leaned back against the wall to
wait for their captures to appear once more.
door to the chamber silently slid into a recess in the wall and a trio of fully
armored Mags entered the chamber. They each held Copperheads at the ready, as
they entered the fringe of the crowd. One by one each person in the group slowly
got to their feet and moved towards the back wall of the chamber. Craye watched
it all with practiced disinterest, as he took in every move up to and including
the smallest most insignificant details.
the Mags left Craye began formulating a plan to break free of the Aurora and the
Barons hold. Over the next half an hour he quizzed Mrs. Shaw about the lay out
of the ship. She was only able to outline a small area of the massive ship, as
she had been unconscious when she was brought in, and since her capture she had
only seen the hallways between the chamber and the makeshift restrooms. It was
something at least at worst it was a place to start. She was unsure of the
number of Mags assigned to the ship, and was unable to add anything more to what
Craye had pried out of the young Mag back in Glen Wood Pass. He was going to
have to wing it. He was good at making shit up as he went along, but as a young
prostitute in Idaho had once told him it was only a matter of time before he
fucked up and things turned fatal for him. His take on that subject was that
everyone was born to die and all that mattered was surviving between birth and
when the time to pass on came. He figured he would be like most Outlanders and
buy the farm in some pitched gun battle somewhere. He’d be dumped in some mass
grave if someone even took the time to bury him at all. The grave would be
unmarked and as he had no family that he knew of and he would become just a
forgotten face in one of a thousand violent clashes that took place in the
Outlands everyday. He had learned to except it and he often urged others to do
was about to start questioning the other prisoners around him when the door at
the far end of the chamber suddenly opened and a half dozen armored Mags marched
in with drawn Sin Eaters. They looked around briefly, and then began marching
towards the area where he was sitting. As it became apparent that they were
there for him, he got to his feet in on single fluid motion, his body tensed for
a confrontation. A confrontation that never came, because the lead Mag, a short
compact man with broad shoulders stopped in front of him and said. “The
Captain wishes a word with you.”
nodded, as the Mag who had spoken motioned him to follow the other Mags out of
the chamber while he brought up the rear. He was led down a long arrow straight
corridor that rang with the echoes of there footsteps.
The seemed to be swallowed up by the endless blackness that seemed to be
the living essence of the craft. At the end of the corridor they reached a
single closed door, that held no label or indication of what was beyond its
threshold. The Mag who had spoken to him in the chamber motioned for him to go
through the door. He opened the door, as his escort turned and began the long
arduous walk back to the chamber. Closing the door behind him he found himself
in a small room, with the same black walls. Directly across from the door, was a
single desk made out of the same deep black material as the rest of the ship. A
single black chair sat vigil in front of that desk. Sitting behind the desk was
aging man with salt and pepper hair, dressed in Ville issue clothing and a black
Kevlar Mag issue duster. His ice blue eyes drilled into Craye. A gold nameplate
that read Captain Salvo sat on the edge of the desk in front of the man.
I presume you are the outlander scum who killed several of my men a few hours
ago.” Salvo began without preamble.
Maybe. “ Craye replied guardedly “ What if I am? “
according to Baronial Law you should be executed for crimes against the Barons
chill me.” Craye spat.
what I saw out there today, you are a hardened warrior. I also believe that you
are the same Outlander who attacked several of my men in Deadwood, You were
believed dead. But here you are alive and kicking. Fresh from you’re latest
you’re doing for the Barons is wrong. “ Craye accused Salvo.
I am Ville born. Not to mention I took an oath to serve the Barons. “
shouldn’t expect anything more than blind loyalty from a Ville born peace of
scum like you. You just follow the Barons because your Father and Grandfather
did, simply following orders without question. Its all for unity right?”
What would an Outlander slagger like you know about unity and loyalty? You
stumble through life just getting by, with no real purpose.“
But at least we haven’t forgotten where we came from. We’re free of the
bonds of the Barons. Your Baron only notices the Outland masses when he needs
something from us. The way I hear it he and his fellow Barons need us to
survive. But I know you didn’t bring me here to discuss your Baron. “
“Correct. I brought you here because I was impressed by your abilities back in Deadwood and then again in Glenn Wood Pass. I’m prepared to offer you a deal.”
I’m listening. “
I’ve been saddled with collecting material for the Barons latest project as
you know. But have also been tasked with finding several Outlaws from my home
Cobaltville. You are a warrior, you roam the Outlands living off what you can
trade, scavenge, or steal. I will return your weapons and allow you to go free,
if you except my deal. “
I won’t agree to a deal I haven’t heard first. “
smiled. “ Good. I would have been surprised if you had agreed to my terms
before I had laid them out on the table. I need a reliable source of information
out in the Outlands were these Outlaws are hiding from Ville justice. I want you
to help me find them. I will give you pictures and anything else you need. But
if you except my offer do not think about double crossing me and running. I will
find you, it may take time but I will find you. “
Understood. I wish to ask for something else beyond my own freedom before I
agree to your terms. “
Now it is I who is listening. “
There is a woman and two children on this ship, they were taken from Deadwood.
They are the reason I am here. I promised there family I would return there
loved ones safely to them. I will help you find these Outlaws if you agree to
free these three prisoners. I care not what happens to the rest of the
prisoners. I have no stake in their ultimate fate. Do we have a deal Captain?
was silent for a moment as he pondered the sudden change of events. He had
expected the fur clad Outlander to cover his own ass by taking the deal and then
cut and run. But instead he was asking for the release of three prisoners two
off which were children. If the three prisoners had been adults then he would
have instantly agreed, but the children were the most important part of the
project. Baron Cobalt had told him of this fact right before he had departed for
Snakefishville, to pick up Baron Snakefish’s compliment of Mags. He needed to
find Kane and his companions otherwise the entire project was at risk, he made
decision and spoke. “ Deal. But I ask only one thing in return, that you bring
me four outlaws. Three committed crimes against the Barons, and the fourth
murdered a pit boss and a Mag in the Cobaltville Tartarous pit. Do you agree to
the deal I have placed out on the table.“
Agreed. “ Craye replied simply. “ You free me and the three prisons I
requested in exchange for my help locating these four outlaws for you. Do I have
Salvo replied “This conversation never happened and this deal was never made.
Kansas: Three days later.
Craye stood on the bank of the Deadwood River watching the river wind away to
the south, a hand rolled cigar clamped between his teeth.
Kevin Shaw stood next him, as the river rolled by at there feet.
owe you everything Tyler.“ he rasped “You gave me back the three things in
this world that mean the most to me. I can never truly repay you.”
payment is necessary. I know what its like to loose family to the Barons.
They’ve taken just about everything they can from me. That’s why I fight to
stop their tyranny. Though I had to make a deal with them to get us all away
from the Aurora and the Barons, alive.”
there anything I can do help you complete your end of this deal you made?”
Take care of your family. I appreciate the offer, but I have to do this alone. I
would not have sacrificed more than I could bear to. I would have found another
way if the deal had been more than I was willing to lay on the line.”
you just the same.”
I said take care of your family.” With that Craye heaved his rut sack and
began walking south. He had a deal to fore fill. Kevin Shaw stood looking after
Tyler Craye long after he had disappeared over a steep rise. Kevin Shaw silently
thanked whatever spiritual force had sent Tyler Craye to him. He had his family
back and a second chance at making a life for himself some where far from
Deadwood. He intended to make the most of that chance. A smile pasted on his
face, Kevin Shaw turned and headed back to his wife and children, and the bright
future ahead of them.