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stbgame: pre-story

This is a contribution for corwin77's PBeM. Most people probably don't want to bother to read this, so I cut.



Now, suburban Illinois.

The engine on the old motocycle roared like a tiger with its tail
caught under a rocking chair. This late at night, this early in the
morning, it'd be bound to wake someone up, to piss some tired factory
worker off enough to call the cops. In any other neighbourhood it
would, anyway. Once they'd passed the empty gas station, John knew
the houses would be empty. No one lived out here, any more.

Not since she'd moved in. She didn't like company.

The kid on the back of the bike tightened her grip as she realised
that everyone was gone. John kept the bike moving fast and loud for
another few blocks before he started to slow down - she'd have known
he was coming by now, and time was running out. No point in being
subtle, not now. Not considering what was at stake.

John pulled up to the curb and let the engine whine into silence. He
stepped down and lifted the kid to the ground, next to the fire
hydrant with the chipped green paint. As he looked up at the house, a
voice in his head spoke.

* Hello John. It's been a while. *




Five years ago, the Colorado Rockies.

The heavy steel door crumpled like newspaper when Greg hit it with
his hammer. Inside, a small man squatted in the centre of a
pentagram, a playing card set out in front of him. The small man
looked up, and scowled with irritation. He uttered something in
gutteral tones, and a blue light flashed from a large gemstone hanging
aorund the small man's neck. Greg dropped to the floor like a sack of
dirty laundry, his hammer leaving a dent in the concrete floor.

John stepped into the room, moving to the centre with his sword
drawn. The small man growled with frustration, and chanted again -
this time, though, the blue light from his gem flickered, and flowed
like smoke from the stone to John's silver sword. As the wizard's
eyes widened in surprise, John closed the difference between them and
rested his blade at the wizard's throat.

"Don't whisper a word, Kaegunn." John scowled. "The old men don't
trust you with that thing." John kicked the card away.

Greg stirred near the door, and picked himself up from the ground. "I
hate wizards. Every goddamned time, I end up with a headache for
days." The tall man shook his head and winced before striding forward
to pick up the card. Greg looked at it closely. "I don't see what's
so special about this thing."

"Weak-minded fool!" cried the wizard, "The Order has no idea what it
has! I..." The wizard dropped to the floor as John hit him with the
pommel of his sword.

"I told you to shut up, Kaegunn. Greg's not going to be the only one
with a headache tomorrow."

"What do we do with him? Are we supposed to bring him in?" rumbled
Greg.

"No, there's no point - a sorcerer like him is too hard to keep
captive. It's leave him or kill him. We don't need to kill him.
Yet, anyway."

"Why did we come in here for that card, anyway? What does it do?"

"I don't know, exactly. Some psychic said something terrible would
happen if he kept the thing. Let's get out of here before he wakes
up. We're supposed to get the card locked up before anyone else
figures out we have it."

John and Greg left the building, and climbed into the waiting van.
Fifteen minutes later, the driver swore, and turned back to John and
Greg.

"The Feds have the road blockaded off up ahead. You want me to try
and turn off, go around?" The driver nodded, suddenly, and said "Ok,
right it is."

As the van turned the corner into a narrow alley, John and Greg stood
and pulled out their weapons. A voice spoke into thier minds, saying
* They forgot to cover this alley. You should be ok here for now,
until... Oh damn!*


At that point, a clap of thunder sounded above the van. The van
slammed into the wall of the alley as the driver convulsed in his
death throes. As Greg and John picked themselves up from the van's
floor, a thud sounded on the van's roof as somone landed on it. The
shotgun fired again, and both men shouted in pain.

Greg howled through a blood-covered face, and drove a fist through the
roof of the van, grabbing an ankle and pulling hard. Another blast
sounded from the shotgun before Greg yanked harder, and a wet,
snapping sound left the gunman unconscious.

"John, you ok?"

"Yeah, I only got nicked - my coat caught most of the spray. Good
thing he was using buckshot..."

"Shit, yeah. I'm going to be picking lead out of my face for days.
Fuck, that stings."

John shook his head, looking at the giant's bloody face. "You're one
crazy son of a bitch, you know that Greg?" John paused to think a
moment. "Is whoever that is still alive up there, do you think?"

"Yeah. I broke something big, but I think he just passed out." Greg
slapped the limp leg hanging through the van's roof. It swung like a
wet towel.

"We should talk to him and find out what he..."

* One of them snuck by me... he was hidden somehow. You got him
before he thought to call for backup, though. The others didn't
hear the gunshots. *


"Who the hell are you?" shouted John as he and Greg climbed out of the
back of the van.

* I'm the one who warned the Order about the card. You're the
only bunch I can trust to not use it. You should go, they're
wondering what happened to him. *


"Well, you heard the disembodied voice. Let's move, Greg. You ok to
run?"

"No problem. Just try to keep up, shorty!"

Greg loped off, his long legs carrying him swiftly. John ran to catch
up. The sky darkened, a sudden wind hurling trash and dirt around in
the air. When the biting rain started, John yelled "Looks like the
feds brought a weather witch! Too little, too late though. We should
be scott free any minute now..."

A shriek sounded off to their left. The men ran off in that
direction, when they were hit by a sudden wave of pain and nausea.
After a moment, Greg sat down, hard, and vomitted. John grimaced, but
kept moving. Around the corner, he saw a young woman with ash blond
hair standing with her arms clutched tight to her chest, shivering in
the cold rain. On the ground at her feet was a Fed agent, blood
streaming from his eyes, nose, mouth and ears.

John slowed, and walked slowly towards the girl. "Are you okay?" He
asked.

"Stay there. I don't like people touching me. I don't like people
getting close to me. That just makes it worse."

John looked down at the Fed. "I can see that. What happened?"

"He... he snuck up on me. I was worrying about you two, didn't hear
him coming, and, and he grabbed me. His... his mind was so ugly, so
filled with hate and... what he was going to do... I... I stopped
him." She shuddered, her teeth chattering from the cold.

John pulled off what was left of his coat. "Here, " he said, tossing
the coat to her. "You look cold".

"Thanks" she replied, pulling it on. "You're... quieter than most
people. Your mind, I mean. I have to try to read you."

"I'm just lucky, I guess, considering my line of work. "

"I should go, " she interrupted, "It's hard for me to be this close
to town. Too many people... I feel like I owe you one, though. If
you ever need to find me, you'll know how." John felt something brush
across his mind for a moment. "My name is Erika. I don't usually get
involved with the rest of the Blood. I need to go now."

The girl turned and ran, fading into a blurry shadow. John looked
down at the body of the dead Fed, and walked back towards Greg.




Now, suburban Illinois.

"Hello Erika. You know why I'm here?"

The front door of the house opened. The girl with the ash blond hair
stood there, her hair hanging low across her face, only partly
covering a deep scar. "Yes, I know why you're here, John. Hello
Marian. My name is Erika. I understand. I can teach you, but it is
going to be difficult. Being Blood is hard enough for any of us. For
those of us who See... it can hurt, I know. And They want us. But
you'll be safe here, for a time."

"I should go, before they track me here, Erika." said John. "Marian,
you stay with Erika. She can protect you, better than the Order can.
When you need me, Erika knows how to get ahold of me." John looked up
at the girl standing in the doorway. "Until the next time, Erika."
He climbed on to his motorcycle, and drove off and loudly and quickly
as he came.

Later that night, after Marian has fallen asleep in the guest room,
Erika sat down in the living room, sipping a mug of herbal tea. She
got up and went to the closet, and pulled out a tattered leather coat,
wrapping it around herself. She inhaled deeply, and closed her eyes.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
corbet
May. 5th, 2005 02:00 am (UTC)
Nice. :) Makes me wonder 'bout the reat of the story. How do you guys do PBeM? I know this is diceless, but how do you handle turns and initiative and suchlike?
curgoth
May. 5th, 2005 02:17 am (UTC)
Basically - we don't. Because the turn around is so long, each player basically writes what they think is happening, and throws in assumptions (like "I assume he answers the phone"), and the GM might respond cancelling out part of the e-mail. If somoene tries something with another PC, then the player describes what they're trying to do (either a specific task like pick thier pocket, or some thing more general like "attack with everything I have"), and the GM lets the parties involved know what they need to, based on the stats he has. Whoever goes first is usually whoever tries to do something first - failing that, whoever is using the fastest stat, and failing /that/, highest warfare. Again, both players would describe what they want to do, and the GM would tell them what actually happened.
kalivor
May. 5th, 2005 03:10 am (UTC)
Turns? Initiative?

Diceless is far more like a real battle. Everything happens at once, and whoever has the best mixture of skill, initiative/creativity and luck wins. Two are hard stats, one is dependent on description.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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