Retribution Station

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Retribution Station

Post by Gadreille on Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:17 pm

Chepi of the Apsáalooke tribe was a child of the long beaked bird – and a new aunt. Her brother Machk’s wife had just given birth to a beautiful baby boy. His wife, Kanti, was a very proud child of the long beaked bird, of the mountain tribe. She had been married to Machk last year. Now with their son born, Chepi’s whole tribe was in celebration. Chepi, being the only aunt of the new blessing, would have the honor of naming him in the next coming year. Kanti’s mother would care for the baby during the day while they were out working, as Chepi and Machk’s parents had already died.

“How he squeals!” Chepi watched her nephew with wonder as he cried for his first meal. His mother complied, and there was calmness to the scene that brought a tear to Chepi’s eye.

“You will be blessed with a family too, Chepi,” Her new sister said, voice shaking from exhaustion.

It was true. Her tribe would be travelling north to meet with the other crow and she would be given to a husband. Sometimes she feared it, sometimes she could not wait for the day. She always thought of these things, and many other things as well. She was a dreamer and lived in her head. Chepi meant fairy, and that is what she was. "She dreams with the spirits!" Her uncle would say.

All that day the tribe worked hard for a very special evening. Kanti and Machk pitched their tipi in front of the large fire pit, and there would be dancing and much food and drink. Chepi got to hold her nephew twice that day, when she wasn’t busy gathering food for the celebration. Some of the women had made a baby carrier for Kanti – within the next few days Kanti would be back on her feet and working again, with her child strapped to her back . It was a beautiful carrier, thatched tightly with black feathers and beads dangling on the bottom.

Chepi watched excitedly as the sun began to set. The sky faded from blue, to grey, and finally into the blackness of night. The stars shone like a glistening river, and this far north the sky wasn’t marred by the white man’s towns. The fire was being raised and the festivities were finally beginning…

There was a warning call in the distance. Their chief held up his hand for quiet, but everyone had already done so. Another warning call…danger was on the way. The men ran for their weapons, the women began gathering their children and heading for the trees. Was it the Cheyenne? There were no recent offences or breaches in boundary…why would they attack?

There was a pounding of hooves, a battle cry quite unlike any she had ever heard, and then loud bangs of thunder in the distance. Chepi helped three other women try to douse the large fire but it was obviously too late. “The white devils are coming!” One cried, and ran to the woods without finishing her task. Chepi began to run too.

“CHEPI!” She heard her brother’s cry. She ran to him. He was standing over Kanti, who had tried to rise, but had fallen to the ground. Chepi smelled blood.

“Kanti is hurt, you must take our child and run.”

“Brother, what has happened to Kanti? She must follow! It is the foreigners! The white man!”

Kanti then growled, her voice fierce, bringing fear to Chepi’s marrow. “He will never reach the hands of a white devil! Never!” Machk then took the baby and thrust him into Chepi’s hands. He began to cry, and Chepi shushed him.

“Run, Chepi!” They cried, and she ran.

In the forest, everything is as quiet as it is loud. She could hear the thunder weapons, as well as the war cries of the warriors of her people. She had heard stories…stories from other People and the crimes that the white foreigner had committed against them. She tried not to cry as she ran. She could hear wolves howling, owls hooting, she could hear crickets singing their song. She could hear her heart, hear the breath of her nephew. She could hear other women being chased through the trees, their screams as they were found…in the quietness of a dark forest, no sound goes unheard. She would run, stopping only when she thought an enemy was close enough to hear her. She would cover the baby’s mouth and pray that he didn’t suffocate as she hid from the enemy.

Chepi wandered for hours through the night. She went from running to walking to dragging her feet. She was hungry, but the baby was starving. She had no way to feed it. For a while she thought that surely the enemy would hear its cry…but she was never caught. Finally, she sat down and sang him a lullaby, one about a rabbit eating rosehips...

“Iisashpítkaate baliilúupsaaleelak
kuuwaaléelak kuuwichkapahíssak
bichkapaahíssak
Datchawaúan baaóolak eelee
Datchawaúan baaóolak eelee áaxuhkachuua
Buúshbiik ee
Áaxuhkachuua buúshbiik ee
Isbihpeé baawuúshkook ee
Isbihpée baawuúshkook ee.”

...until they both fell asleep.

***

She awoke with the sun overhead and the baby crying again. He was starving. She had no carrier, no food, no milk, no water…he would die if she did not get him to his mother. She had to return.

The long walk back to her home gave time for fear and anxiety to kick in. Crows circled overhead, and the stench of blood and defecation carried far. It was a sickly smell that brought nausea to Chepi’s stomach. There was no sound. Not a whinny of the horse or the laughter of a child, neither the rat-tat of a man making an arrow nor the grinding of a woman making acorn paste. Chepi’s eyes filled with tears as she began to realize that her worst fears were true. When she reached the clearing, she found destruction.

The fire that she had failed to put out had been used by the enemy to burn everything. Their food storage, their tipis, even the dead bore signs of burning, though Chepi knew not if they had died from the fire. Surely there were other wounds, wounds of the knife and wounds of another kind, one she had no words for. It was the thunder weapons, the guns, if the stories were true. It was more than destruction. It had been a slaughter. Everyone was killed. Every man who had defended his tribe, every woman who had not been able to escape, every child who had the misfortune of losing his or her way…they had all been killed.

Chepi moved through the scene slowly, taking in every detail. Every face had a name, and she remembered that face and that name and sent a prayer to the spirits above. She alone could not prepare every body here for the afterlife…a prayer would have to suffice. She made her way through the destruction until she found her family. Machk, a deep gouge of flesh missing from his chest. Kenti’s mother, her body thrown over Kenti herself. Kenti had been badly burned, it looked as though her mother had beat out the flames on her daughter’s body before someone knifed her throat. Chepi had no more tears. She felt hot anger.

The baby started up its crying again, and Kenti very suddenly stirred. Chepi jumped, then realized that her new sister was still alive, and hurriedly began to remove the dead mother from atop Kenti’s chest. Her bare feet slipped in the fresh blood that doused the floor, and she knew not whose it was. When the body was finally pulled off of Kenti she cried out and took deep breaths. The weight lifted off of her helped her breathe, but it exposed very ugly burns covering her torso.

“Give me him Chepi, let me hold him one last time.” Chepi gently handed the baby to his mother, and helped her hold him as her arms had little strength. Chepi could not imagine the pain that Kenti must have felt as she rested the little one on her burned skin. The baby immediately began looking for his mother’s tit, and she smiled and begged Chepi to help her.

Even Kenti’s breasts were burned, and Chepi could see the pain in Kenti’s face as the baby suckled from her. But she did it, she fed him and held him and gave him everything that her dying body could. Chepi could see the color draining from Kenti’s face. This would be the last time her nephew would know his mother. Kenti looked to Chepi, and without words, they shared the same thought – how will he live? But they said nothing, for before such devastation, what was the point in speaking of fear?

Kenti died, and Chepi gingerly removed her nephew from his mother’s arms and moved on. She collected what supplies she could find, including food, water, a knife, and a baby carrier from one of the few standing tipis. The mother would need it no longer. With her nephew strapped safely onto her back, his stomach full with what could be his last meal, Chepi set off south. The last thing she took before she left her home forever was a grey colored hat from a dead white man. She viewed it as his scalp.

She wandered for two days, feeding herself from the land, and doing her best to feed her nephew, though most of the food was too solid for him to have a chance eating. He would not live long on this diet, but he wasn’t old enough for porridge, even if she had the time to properly grind, soak, and cook the acorn.

It was on the dawn of the third day when Chepi stumbled across a camp. Hidden deep within the forests, she had never before strayed into this camp, though by its structure it had been there a long while. She watched warily from the tree line, waiting to see who it was there. It was definitely not a camp of the natives.

A lone woman exited one of the three tents that were pitched there. She wore the dress of the white woman, but her skin was black as night. She set to her work, and began singing as she did so:

“I’m only going over Jordan
I’m only going over home

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
While traveling through this world of woe
Yet there’s no sickness, toil nor danger
In that bright world to which I go
I’m going there to see my Father
I’m going there no more to roam

I know dark clouds will gather ‘round me
I know my way is rough and steep
But golden fields lie out before me
Where God’s redeemed shall ever sleep
I’m going there to see my mother
She said she’d meet me when I come

I’ll soon be free from every trial
My body sleep in the churchyard
I’ll drop the cross of self denial
And enter on my great reward
I’m going there to see my Savior
To sing His praise forevermore.”

As she sang, the rest of the camp began to wake. Every one of them was dark as night. Chepi did not understand half of the words of the song, but there was a dark note resonating from it, as well as a grim determination set to their actions. Chepi was convinced that they had seen woe as she had, though natives they were not. Children also emerged, some working, some just playing. She couldn’t believe how many people had piled into those three small tents. As they woke and started their work, they began to sing along with that woman, until the entire camp was up and moving, and the sun was in the sky.

She took the carrier from her shoulders and held her nephew in her arms. She did not want to leave him, but less did she want him dead. She set her nephew on the edge of the treeline. She cried as she did so, for she had no idea if she would ever see him again. She placed a hand on his head and whispered “Matunaagd…” May he live to fight. When she looked up, she realized a young woman was watching her.

Chepi fled.

***

Chepi wandered further, eventually happening upon a path of horse hooves. She knew she could find more children of the long beaked bird if she headed north and west. But Chepi was angry. She gripped that grey had between her hands and rung it like it was the neck of a beast to be killed for dinner. The anger in her heart would not disappear. She felt no desire to live. She felt a desire for revenge. It was a feeling that was new to her, only vaguely familiar through warrior’s stories of battles of old. She knew not how to use a weapon, nor who exactly her enemy was, but she only knew that she could not rest until she had avenged her family or died trying.

So she followed the path, not even knowing if it was the right one, but knowing it was the only one she had. Many days later a horse came galloping down the path. She knew the horse, it was He Who Never Surrenders, the Chief’s horse. She was not surprised that those white men could not control him.

She flung her hands out wide and shouted, forcing the horse out of his gallop. He whinnied, shook his mane, and stamped his feet, but he did stop. She then switched to a soothing voice, and began coaxing him to her. She took some grass from the ground and offered it to him. Not once did she grab him. Once he calmed down, she continued down the path. He followed her. In time, she was sure she could ride him. She may not be a warrior, but she was a child of the long beaked bird, and she knew horses.

***

The long path led to an eventual partnership between Chepi and He Who Never Surrenders. It also led her to an enormous white town that she would eventually learn was called Cheyenne, Dakota territory.
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Guilty Carrion on Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:42 am

Thin trails of smoke danced around the moon’s glistening silhouette, weaving a futile path into the heavens as the still air quietly swallowed the grey lines into the black. Bored fingers idly thumbed the chipped rim of an aged pocket watch, pausing in their fiddling only when another breath of the cigarette was needed to calm their master. Leaning against the creaking stock of a worn out shovel, the figure fit in well with his surroundings, the curious time of night the only thing marking him as odd. Dull emerald eyes flicked down at his hands, noting with some annoyance that his gloves were beginning to fray into nothing. In fact, the tan skin of his thumb was already visible on the left one.

“Just a piss poor day all round, ain’t it, Hutchins?” He straightened, flicking the still red cherry of his cigarette into the dirt and snuffing it with a twist of his heel. “Course, compared to the day ol’ Heath is havin’, I really shouldn’t complain.” Tugging the shovel up from the dirt, he strolled leisurely for a few paces, flicking open the pocket watch and whistling low. “Ten already? I best dig quick.” Tucking the watch into his pocket, Hutchins pushed the shovel down into the freshly turned dirt, pleased to note that it was remarkably easier the second time. The world was silent for a few minutes, save for the rhythmic noise of his dig. The churning of the dirt as he tossed it and the steady ‘ch’ of the shovel as he pushed it deeper into the earth.

When the ground thudded beneath his shovel strike, the man smiled, tossing the shovel out of his shallow hole and sweeping aside the remaining dirt. A small sliding hatch was barely visible amongst the filth, and he stared solemnly at it for a moment. Dabbing a bit of the light sheen from his face, Hutchins gave the hatch a gentle tug, and was rewarded with the panicked, rapid breaths of the one behind it. “Good nap…Heath, was it?” There came no reply, but the digger didn’t wait for one. “So, has the…solitude shaken your memory at all? I mean, your boys surely didn’t just leave you here to drown yourself in a whore’s bosom, now did they?”

He stooped low, dull eyes watching the frantic pupils lurking just inside the dark, the rosary round his neck falling down into view. The pupils found it and locked onto the symbol as a source of hope. “They didn’t tell me where they were going, Father! I swear!” Hutchins stared for a moment, before chuckling softly. It grew into a deep throated roar before long, the digger rising to his feet fluidly.

“Father. I haven’t heard that since my days in Mexico. Takes me back…” Reaching up, the ‘Father’ pulled his battered white cowboy hat from his head and tossed it to the side of the gully. “Most men down there don’t care for the good word, Heath. You’re a religious man, I can tell. You know what it’s like to have the fire of Him burning in your blood? To spread it, no matter the price?

A whimper escaped the casket, and Hutchins gripped the shovel once more. “It’s a beautiful thing, Heath. A beautiful, blessed thing.” Emerald found the slot, but the dullness had vanished, replaced by an edge that sent shivers racing down the spine. “I’ll ask you again. Where did your boy’s go? South? North? They mention a name?”

“I swear I do-” The casket splintered, blade of the shovel breaking through and piercing something soft. “Oh God!”

Hutchins grinned darkly, running a hand through his sweat slicked blonde hair, before twisting the handle sharply, earning another cry from the man below. “And now I’ve broken yer knee. Are they really worth it, Heath? They ain’t gonna swoop out of the night and save you now. It’s me…” The shovel was tugged free, earning a whimper. “..And you. So, where did they go?”

A tense moment passed, but Heath seemed to find his voice, thick with pain as it was. “Wi-will you help me if I tell you, Father?” Hutchins offered a smile, the kind that would take the edge off an old nun.

“I will do God’s work, Heath.”

A harsh swallow. “They said-said they was headed for Cheyenne. It‘s on the railroad, north of here. I don’t recall how to get there, but…”

“I know where it is.” Hutchins face didn’t so much as twitch at the information, digging around in his pockets for a small flask. He tipped it calmly towards the slot. “Gotta make sure you don’t get an infection, hm?” Unscrewing the cork, he dumped the liquid unceremoniously into the hole he’d made earlier with the shovel, Heath hissing in the casket beneath him. “Means it’s working, so grit yer teeth and bear it.

Once it was drained, the digger straightened, and returned his hat to its place on his head. “You read much of the scriptures, Heath?” Flicking out a cigarette, he struck a match on the sole of his boot and lifted the flame to the tip, smiling as the end glowed cherry red. “Has a lot of fancy words in it. Confusing ones. Don’t know most of ‘em, but there was one my grandfather always talked about.” Sparing a glance at the match, Hutchins smiled. “Retribution. Powerful thing. Bible mentions it all over the place.”

“Father, I…”

“A just punishment.” He turned, match slipping from his fingers and tumbling down into the hole. The alcohol caught, and flames greedily swallowed the trapped man’s lower half. Hutchins stopped at the top of the gully, staring down as the vibrant orange engulfed the screaming man. “Works for Him, it works plenty well for me.” A slow breath of smoke rolled paste his lips. “You aren’t even listening, are you, Heath? Hell, s’exactly why I never became a priest.” He whistled low, and a sorrel horse trotted from the dark to his side. “No one ever listens unless you’ve got yer gun in their face.”

He saddled up in one fluid motion, pausing for a moment to regard the flames with a light grin. “Figures you’d head for the railroad. Just going to disappear along the tracks.” Tipping his hat to the burning earth, he spurred the sorrel onto the blackened trail. The moon lit his way, the casual trot of his faithful stead carrying him further into the night, northward. Towards the railroad. Towards those who‘d done him wrong. The lone rider smiled darkly.

“Retribution Station.” Smoke danced in his wake, trailing like the smoke of an engine. “End of the line.”
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Alexis Sapphire on Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:08 pm

Times had changed... no doubt to be had in that regard. Not that long ago, Mr. Owens had been drawing up assault plans, emphasizing generalized orders and consistently presenting numbers and routes for offensives being issued to him.

Right now... the only numbers he spent his time jotting down were account numbers. Importing, exporting, revenues, expenses, inventory, supplies. Names of patients and their families were filed into organized bundles which kept a rather orderly account of the business his facility operated.

If there was one thing he had seen in the war, it was men who required medical services. Those who died due to the lack of it, those who's families suffered because of that very lack. It was very evident that misfortune and health issues were not directly war related. In times of war or not, there was great money to be made in the business of health care and provisions.

Robert Owens maintained a healthy supply of medication and service personal that allowed his hospital to operate efficiently and effectively 24 hours a day. There was a great opportunity to help the community and develop positive relationships with some real players in the economic space. Most importantly however, there was some leverage with almost every client.

Today's report of the Hospital's activity reported 3 cases of lost revenue. It resulted in less than average turnover by the business, but off paper-... off any record, Robert Owens had just acquired 3 influential favours.

In exchange for aid given to an ill child of a modest political figure, and 2 individuals heavily involved in law enforcement for the region... Robert Owens had received not only promise of payment in the future, but a verbal commitment of favour should the need arise.

It was with these types of deals that Robert established his own portfolio of accounts receivable; individuals who were so grateful for his help that they were in his debt for any kind of favour that didn't blatantly jeopardize the system.

His hospital was constantly abuzz with roaming workers and patients or their families also provided considerable noise. This often made it impossible for him to gain peace or quiet inside the facility. He enjoyed being outside of it as much as possible.

He made his way out the door having locked his office in search of some entertainment to celebrate the day's business. He was adequately attired, wearing a dark double-breasted frock coat over a high-buttoned single-breasted waistcoat and trousers. Though barely over the age of 30, he constantly carried a fine wooden walking stick or cane. Whenever asked about it, he had a tendency to joke about becoming an old man and simply getting a head start on his aging difficulties. Less pronounced however was simply the need to have something in his hands after awhile.

It was a strange phenomena for him. After carrying a rifle for so long, after having his fingers intimately familiar with the grip, feel and texture of his pistol or blade, it was simply awkward for him to have 'nothing' in his hands in public.

Society frowned upon carrying a rifle around for obvious reasons. Twirling his pistol was also out of place in almost any area he approached. At best... his blade was used for ceremonial purposes or occasional sporting competition among friends. For the most part however, these weapons that had been an integral part of his life were now keepsake items. They were memories of a time that he had to leave behind him.

There were times when he missed it... the war. Times when he just had to get away with his rifle and spend some time shooting with it. Instead, cigars, a quill pen and more paper than he'd care to address made up the contents that he managed on a daily basis.
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Gadreille on Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:59 pm

As the trees thinned, the path Chepi followed widened. It went from a trail hardly big enough for one horse to a road that could fit four horses across easily. Then, further down, it split into two roads. Chepi leaned down and studied the tracks. A few horses had gone one way, the rest another. The brightness of midday stung her eyes, and she shaded her eyes with one hand as she looked to the distance. Her other hand was wound around the reigns of He Who Never Surrenders.

She decided to follow the path most used. It led her south and east, away from the setting sun. She followed the winding road for many days, venturing off only to find something to eat. However, these sparse lands did not hold much sustenance. Why the white man wanted to live in such a way, Chepi did not understand. On the fourth day, she began noticing blood in the road. It seemed that the further she went, the fresher it looked. It was late on this day that she came upon a single traveler, and source of the blood. The traveler did not know she was behind, and Chepi followed silently and warily.

The traveler moved so slowly that even though Chepi tried to keep pace, she found herself catching up. As she neared, she realized with great fear that it was a white man. However, she quickly noticed that he was moving slowly because his leg was badly mangled. This was the injury that left the trail of blood behind him. He’d used a large stick to lean on as he dragged himself, lame leg and all, down the road.

Chepi swallowed her fear. He’s lame, after all. What can he do to me? She climbed upon He Who Never Surrenders with only slight difficulty. The sound of it alerted the traveler of her presence. She rode forward, circling well round him and coming to face him from the front.

“Weell. F’t ain’t the fuckin’ horse that trampled my leg, and one o’the injun whores I stole it from.” He looked at her. Chepi said nothing.

“What chu gonna do, slut?” He moved his hand to his pocket. He Who Never Surrenders stirred. “What chu gonna do, run me to death? You can’t do nothin’, you little bitch, you can’t do nothin’!” As he finished, he pulled a gun from his coat and fired. He Who Never Surrenders reared up, and the shot grazed Chepi’s arm. She cried out and grasped her arm, and then looked back to the man. He still had the gun aimed at her, and Chepi winced as he shot, but there was nothing but a click. Chepi opened her eyes. She pulled her hunting knife from its sheath on her waist. For the first time, she saw fear in his eyes.

With the eloquence of an expert rider, she swung herself on the side of He Who Never Surrenders, and with a warrior’s cry of her people urged him forward. The man threw his hands up and tried to move to the side, but his wounded leg caused him to fall. On the first charge, the knife had been aimed for his belly, but barely sliced his side as he fell. She urged He Who Never Surrenders about face, and charged again. The horse trampled the man as he lain there.

Chepi dismounted. He was moaning, attempting to rise, but he was broken in too many places. She grabbed him by his hair, put the knife to his forehead, and started sawing. “NAaaah!!” He screamed as she struggled to separate the scalp from his head. ”AAAGGHH, AAAAAH” The screams continued. Cutting skin was harder than she had imagined. She scalped him slowly, not for benefit of hearing his cries, but because it was the first time she had ever done such a thing, and had no idea what she was doing.

When she finished, she tossed the scalp aside. Her anger had dissipated, and she felt a twinge of regret. He was whimpering now, blood pouring down his face, into his nostrils and mouth. His eyes rolled about, eventually locking to hers.

“Injun slut… gonna …Burn. In. Hell!” He said. She didn’t know what it meant, but the regret fell away as though it was never there in the first place. She wiped the knife on the man’s coat, smiling as he flinched. Then she whistled for He Who Never Surrenders, and left.
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Guilty Carrion on Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:49 pm

The bird watched him calmly, breaking its vigil every few moments to tear another morsel from the bounty that served as its perch. Hutchins kneeled quietly in the dirt, eyeing the corpse with a practiced gaze, lingering on the massive ‘tear’ across his head. “Scalped.” He paused, taking a long breath of his cigarette, and blowing a puff into the cloudless sky. “And unless it was a magician, he was alive when it happened.” Rising slowly, the dark man glanced at the legs of the ‘victim’. “Snapped like a twig in a twister.”

He whistled low, and the bird responded with an enthusiastic hiss, earning a smile from the strange man. “Hell of a way to die, ain’t it? I bet you were tearing at ‘em before he was even dead weren’t you?” The buzzard tore another chunk from the dead man’s head, swallowing it done without delay. “Bloody buzzards. No respect for the dead.” His voice was filled with a cold enjoyment, as he tapped the corpse with his boot.

“Question is who’s the lucky one that got to you before I did?” There were no real markings; save for the slightly blurred steps of a horse, lost amongst the common treads of the trail. “Judging by…well, that.” He pointed casually to the man’s missing scalp, letting a cloud of smoke roll past his lips. “I’d say it was one of the local redskins…now, if memory serves, they live up in the woods and tend to stay there. So why did one come all the way down here to scalp a man?” The buzzard screeched, taking flight as Hutchins pondered the riddle before him.

“Revenge.” Flicking the ash from his cigarette, Hutchins chuckled darkly. “So, I suppose the question is how many people did you fellas piss off? I’m not a fan of competition, and I’d rather only kill the ones I need to, but I can’t have some redskin taking all my work from me.” He glanced down to the path again, before sighing quietly. “Suppose I’ll just have to track the bastard down and see if they can’t be reasoned with.”

Glancing up at the sky, he grinned at the circling buzzards, eager to gorge themselves on the still fresh meat of the redskin’s victim. “Eager as always, aren’t you?” Flicking his cigarette to the ground, he snuffed it with his heel, before starting back towards his horse. The beating of wings signalled the carrion bird’s descent, and they wasted no time ripping into their meal.

Hutchins climbed up into the saddle of his sorrel, giving the animal an affectionate stroke on the neck as he watched the buzzards feed. A lone buzzard hopped along the ground beside his horse, flicking its head to the side as it watched the mounted man. He glanced to the silent creature, and chuckled at its curious look. “I was wondering when you’d show up again. C’mon.” He spurred the sorrel on, and the buzzard was quick to hop after him, beating its wings furiously before climbing into the sky.
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Alexis Sapphire on Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:02 pm

Everyone's eyes shifted around the table before going back to their own hands. In the center of the table lay a healthy sum of coin and it was not yet done.

Robert's eyes quickly moved from person to person as they tapped the table. Action shifted to the Sherrif's son Jacob. His eyes glanced at the table, back into the eyes of Robert, then he reached for his stack of coin.

"I'll bet 40..."

His wording did nothing but earn a series of frustrated groans and an angered grunt. Pairs of cards remained faceless as they were thrown down. Each individual tossing his cards was met with a quirky nod from the young Sherrif's Deputy. He was only 23 but he was an avid learner in how to manipulate others.

Action turned to Robert however, the last man seated at the table and he could only look into the pile at the center. There was quite a bit of value in there already. He could throw his cards away and not lose anymore if he was beaten, or... if he had the best hand, he could leave the table having earned enough money this night to treat all the players to a round of drink and continue to take more of their money while keeping them in good spirits.

His eyes darted up to face the young Barton boy (as he called him) without necessarily moving his head at all in the process. His fingertips draped over the collection of coin in his stack.

"Only 40?..." He let his tone toy with the young lad.

"Well, there's another round to come." The young man answered the veteran with a coy grin of his own. "I hear from the boys that Agraciana's in town. Maybe I'll take more from you then-... "

Robert's eyebrows hopped in the subtlest of twitches acknowledging the young man's response. He glanced at his cards another time, as though he had somehow forgotten what they were over the last few seconds. He tapped their edges against the table, once, then twice... then placed them back down in front of him.

"Why wait?" he asked firmly and quickly enough that it seemed to catch the table off guard. Eyes moved to his hands, then his eyes as he began segmenting off coins from his pile and passing them from one hand to the other, giving them a loose toss into the central pile.

"I'll make it 120."

It earned an immediate glare from the other men at the table. The average pot for these kinds of hands was in the 100-150 range. This kind of a bet from Robert was, if nothing else, a signal that with 1 round to go, the young Mr. Barton was going to either win alot, or lose alot. He was thoroughly putting on the pressure.

Being great poker players all around however, both Robert and Jacob knew that it was important to keep things light-hearted. You never wanted to appear overly stressed and in order to avoid giving information away, you found yourself busying the table with talk of outside events. It kept you focused and discussing things that probably didn't matter much... just to keep you from appearing to focus fully on your hand and current situation.

"120-..." Jacob Barton retorted with a small snarl. His grin was almost pushed through an insulted gleam. He had truly hoped that the entire table would fold at his bet of 40 and he would take it. He didn't have a very weak hand, but his relatively mediocre pair just seemed to get weaker and weaker with each card added to the table.

"Well..." Robert now, in turn exhibited a calm joking mannerism.

"Ms. Velarde is a true gem... or so I hear. Unlike yourself or your father, I doubt the rest of us could get away with legally requiring her to remove her clothing or follow us into a private room for... interrogation."

The table was immediately consumed with laughter all around, including the young Barton boy who, unfortunately had a very tough decision to make. Everyone else was out of the hand at the moment, they may have lost pocket change in the beginning, but refusing to put in the 40 to continue playing, it was now all the stress going to Jacob.

Jacob had 40 dollars in the middle of the table now, the fact that Robert made it 120 meant he'd have to put in another 80. That made him look at his own hand. He wasn't reading other players now, or trying to steal a pot from them, he was legitimately hoping that he could win it. Unfortunately, his hand wasn't the greatest. He had hoped now for some kind of indication or desire in Robert's eyes to have him fold. Anything that would give away that Robert could be bluffing worse than he was.

"-... You're bluffing." He continued to fish for information from the veteran-turned-doctor. The only comforting thought was that to Robert, 120 wasn't a huge sum of money, maybe he'd be bluffing with that number. It was unimaginable to see someone else in their right mind consider such a bluff.

His thoughts were interrupted as Robert answered.

"I very well could be. If you're right, you get to take a good day or 2 off."

Everything about Robert's tone screamed at Jacob not to call. He had to accept the fact that he made a funny bet and came close to taking down a good deal of money, but as it seemed, Robert could have lucked into a great hand and just been hoping, praying, pleading with Jacob to pay him off hugely for it.

With a distasteful grunt, Jacob had to throw his cards down onto the table.

"Pair of 9s..." he said shaking his head slowly conceding the cards and folding.

The table came alive with a few mumbles and grumbles as they turned to Robert. The elder player neatly tossed his cards into the pile as they were shuffled again.

"Hmm. Good fold." it was all he said, much to the dismay and disappointment of the young Barton officer.

"-... That's it??" he let his disappointment be heard.

"That's it." Robert stated with a nod. "You wanted more?"

"Well, what did you have? Queens? Kings? a bluff?" Jacob knew that Robert didn't have to tell him. That was the whole point to the game, but if he could figure out what Robert had, the next time Robert made a similar play, he'd know how to read the man.

"Well, if it was a bluff, it wouldn't have been a good fold." Robert's response only gave him half of an answer. It confirmed that he had something valuable.

"True enough, so a high pair?" Barton pressed him. By this point, men around the table were giving their own analysis, taking guesses at what it could have been.

"I had 2 cards, as you did." Robert decided to toy with the young man even in completion as he received his stack and began sorting them out again.

"If I were to tell you that I had two kings, would you believe me? Or would you disbelieve me because of the fact that you have no way of knowing for sure. In order to know for sure you would have had to call, and it would have cost you more than you were willing to pay."

Jacob Barton could only nod in submission as he glanced at his next 2 cards and folded them immediately. They were dirt, and he didn't want to get caught bluffing again.

Robert was a genius in that... he didn't bet on his cards being perfect, he bet on Jacob's cards being less than perfect. By reading Jacob's play and his reaction when others were bullied out of the pot, Robert made a daring move that would either cost Jacob a great deal of money or win him a great deal of money. If Jacob wasn't confident enough to call it right away, then chances were Jacob would outwit himself... he would talk himself out of whatever cards he was holding because he'd be petrified about what 2 cards could beat him.

Robert allowed Jacob to focus on what cards could beat his high pair and had Jacob guessing that either of those combinations was the hand he was up against.

By betting on Jacob's hand 'not' being good enough to risk 2 days wages... Robert won the pot irregardless of his hand. That meant of course, it could have come back and bitten him in the rear, but that was why the game was so much fun. You win some, you lose some. The goal is to win as much as you can when you do win, and lose as little as you can when you lose.

"Bartender-... the another round for the table."

Jacob shook his head with a smile before standing and moving towards the coat rack. "That's it for me tonight men. I'm on duty in a half hour."

"I'll have a bottle sent to your house." Robert chuckled knowing full well he put Jacob in a hard place if he jokingly sent alcohol to his place of work.

A round of cheer went up from the table and the next hand began.
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Gadreille on Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:10 pm

The first thing Chepi reached was the railroad. In the early morning dawn, several dark skinned men were busy digging a trench ahead of where the track was already lain. Upon that track was the great steel beast, the train. Chepi had heard its cries a few times before in her lifetime. But it made no noise now. A few of the men looked at her as she rode past on her horse. Most looked back to their work. A couple kept staring.

"Whatchu boys looking at eh? Get back to work!" Another man on a horse rode up and down the line of men, knocking a couple upside the head with a whip. Then he reeled around to get a look at her, but Chepi had long since disappeared into the tents beyond.

The community here was only slightly bigger than her tribe had been. The tents were staked into the mud as semi permanent homes, and the people there did whatever business they thought was important. All in all, the place did not seem big enough to be where she would find those men. Maybe one or two of them...but how could she tell? All of the men and women dressed in so many different types of costume...could she assume anyone wearing a grey hat was one of the riders who had destroyed her town?

Chepi continued along the tracks, becoming more disheartened. She had ridden out for revenge, but was finding her revenge less and less likely to be executed. It was nearly midday before she came upon the train station - and further on, the town of Cheyenne.

The permanent wooden structures looked appealing from the distance, but as Chepi entered the town she felt her senses completely overrun. The air was filled with dust kicked up by the many people and their horses walking to and fro. There was a stink to the air - and the people. Everything smelled only a half a step better than death itself. There was so much of the stink in the air Chepi thought she would choke. She covered her face with her hands. No one else in town seemed to notice the horrid smell, which made Chepi believe that the smell was probably a permanent one. Indeed, after hours of wandering the town, Chepi had stopped noticing the smell.

This is a mistake, Chepi thought. She hooked He Who Never Surrenders reigns 'round a post and sat down against a nondescript building to eat some of her rations. I should go home. What home? There is no home. Where do I go now?

As soon as night fell, she was attacked. One man grabbed her from behind, thrusting his hand over her mouth. Another grabbed the reigns of He Who Never Surrenders, who began whinnying and bucking. She bit the man's hand and tried to tear away, but he gripped again and pushed a knife against her throat. Chepi whined automatically. Another man rounded the corner to help the other with the horse, and a woman followed.

She was wearing a dark red dress that did not leave much to the imagination. Her bosom spilled out of it on top, the sleeves that were there small and sheer. The skirt of it was hiked up to reveal the stockings underneath. Her face was painted pale with dark eyes and red lips. Her brown hair was filled with loose, tangled curls that reached down her back. Chepi thought she looked like a monster. She did not know that it was meant to look beautiful.

"Ah, you caught me a good one!" She commented. Then she began inspecting Chepi. "Look at this hair," she ran her fingers through Chepi's thick black hair. Chepi tried to pull away from her touch, which felt grotesque. "And her face, so thin for a redskin! Let me see her mouth." The man let go of her mouth and Chepi cried out and tried to bite the woman that grabbed her face, but she held hard. "Ah, and good teeth too. And I'll bet you she ain't been deflowered yet. What we could price her at!" The men snickered.

"I'm Agraciana, little one, but you can call me Mistress. You're gonna make a fine whore once we break you."
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Guilty Carrion on Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:03 pm

With the casual gait of a man with all the time in the world, Hutchins rounded the corner, dull eyes watching the capture with a bored imitation of interest. Towns needed whores, or else the boys would get uppity and folks would start raping. Unfortunately, not many wanted to be a whore, which lead to the less than pleasant transaction that lay before him. It wasn’t his business to go interfering, not unless he needed a companion for the night.

He wasn’t feeling lonely.

His horse had been tied at the local inn, and he’d decided to go for a bit of a late night stroll before turning in. As he had walked the deserted streets, silent save for the roar of the local watering hole, the holy man had given his thoughts freedom to wander, to drift in the moon’s rays as free as the light it birthed. Nothing pleasant had come to mind. Licking fires, charring corpses, haunting laughter dancing amidst the embers.

More of a waking nightmare than anything he had hoped to muse that night. So, with the slightest of sheens upon his brow, he moved past the struggling group, ignoring the words of the whore. One of the men shot him a sharp look, as if to ask what he was doing here. Hutchins merely kept walking.

“And her face, so thin for a redskin!”

He froze. “Shit.” Turning quickly on his heel, he looked back at the struggling girl, catching his first real glimpse as the moon peaked out from behind a cloud. Even in the dim light, it was plain to see. Things were never easy. Striding towards the group, he left the revolver holstered at his side, fisting his hands tight as he got closer and closer. One of the thugs stepped forward, reaching to his side for a holstered pistol.

“Whut you want?” His voice reeked of alcohol, and his legs swayed slightly as he tried to look menacing. Hutchins paused, examining the man with a critical eye. He’d be child’s play really.

“The girl. I have business with her.” The thug laughed, his fellows quickly joining in. The whore stepped forward slightly, obscured behind the large man’s body.

“Well, sir, what are you willing to pay?”

“I’m not looking to bed her. I need to have a word with her, if you’d be so kind.”

The whore scoffed, flicking her wrist at the man. “Find some other redskin to beat your information out of. This one is mine.” Flexing his hands, the holy man grinned darkly as his knuckles cracked.

“Correction, miss.” The first thug was easy, straight to the groin, then an elbow to the back of the head. The second moved to draw his pistol, but Hutchins closed the distance between them before it could be brought to bear, catching the arm underneath his elbow and jerking it towards the final man, who caught a round to the shoulder and dropped into a whimpering mess. Jerking hard on the arm, he forced the man to drop the pistol, before dropping a few hits across his unprotected face. A thunderous kick to the chest sent him sprawling. “Was yours.”

His eyes glinted savagely beneath the brim of his hat, placing a calming yet firm hand on the startled redskin’s shoulder. “Now, why don’t you run along? I’m not a fan of hurting a lady, especially not one as lovely as you, but if push comes to shove…”

The woman scowled, but seemed to get the message, retreating into the night from whence she came. The girl struggled in his grip, but he didn’t release her shoulder, half guiding-half dragging her along with him back towards his Inn. “You’re a hell of a lucky girl and yet you’re fighting like a wildcat separated from her cub.” He hissed, jerking her ahead of him. “I could have just left you to a life of being a bed-warming slut, would you have preferred that?”

He released her shoulder, flicking out a cigarette only to find he had no matches left. “Just my luck. C’mon, we need to get inside before the Sheriff shows.” He started forward again, no longer forcing the girl along, but silently watching her out of the corner of his eye.

If she knew what was good for her, she’d follow.
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Gadreille on Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:35 am

Agraciana pursed her lips and retreated into the darkness, watching the stranger as he walked off with her prize. Not only that, he lost her two men. Two obviously stupid men, but two men none-the-less. Getting people to do her bidding wasn't hard, but it was hard to keep them happy. Liquor and women was the key, but liquor was expensive and her women get bored easily.

What really bothered her was that man. What had he wanted with the little brat? He obviously wasn't family. Servants were easy enough to come by, there were plenty of pretty young girls willing to work for a pretty penny. She hadn't been familiar with his voice, and in the darkness there was no way to know for sure what he looked like. The town was big, people coming and going...but not big enough. She'd figure out who he was. And she'd figure out what he wanted. It would just take time...and a few resources.

But Agraciana was curious, and she had contacts.

***

Chepi only waited a moment to run, but the man was quick. He dropped the two men and grabbed her wrist before she had even thought to get away. Initially, the surprise of having someone come to her rescue overcame her senses. Especially a white man. What would he want with her? He yanked her forward, and she realized that he wasn't letting go. She fought him as he dragged her away, and didn't stop until he rounded on her, lecturing her in english that she only barely understood. She knew this, his voice was exasperated...but not angry. Then, he let her go.

Her first instinct was to sprint, but the fact that he'd saved her earlier gave her pause. He turned and walked away, giving her the choice to continue. She looked back for He Who Never Surrenders, who was lazily following behind. He seemed rather calm for what had just happened, nuzzling her hand as he waited for her to move on.

What choice do I have, really?

Chepi ran to catch up with the man. Her first instinct was to walk behind him, but she gulped down her fears and strode next to him. He gave her a a sideways glance but otherwise kept moving. She wished she understood more english, most of what she had gleaned from the situation had been based on the actions of the people rather than the words. Still, she had to try.

"What you want with me? Who are you?"
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Guilty Carrion on Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:42 am

She followed, and Hutchins allowed his irritation fade. At least she had the sense to stick with him. "I've got a few questions." He paused, half turning to watch her from beneath the brim of his hat. "After that, we'll go our separate ways, and never have to worry about each other's meddling again. Fair?" It wasn't fair to expect her to understand half the words he just said.

He'd never really been a fair man though, and that wasn't about to change. Rolling the unlit cigarette between his dry lips, he started down the back street of the Inn he had chosen. The horse was her issue to deal with, not his. Climbing the steps outside to the second floor, he forced the key into the rusted lock and jerk the door open, letting it swing wide. "Get inside."

The redskin watched him, un-trusting. At least she had half a head's worth of smarts to call her own. "Dwight Hutchins. Call me Hutchins, everyone else does." He pulled the key from the lock, before stepping inside the darkened room.

He didn't bother striking a candle, using the provided matches instead to set his cigarette ablaze as he settled in one of the tattered chairs. The soft creaks of the floorboard told him well of her entrance, but her outline was barely visible in the dark, the shadow clinging t her like a second skin. A knowing grin stretched across his tanned face. "What do you go by, Red? Or are you fine with Red?" She stared back, not seeming to understand his words. "Name."

"Chepi. What you want?"

"Chepi. I'll stick with Red." He blew a cloud of the rolling smoke towards the young girl, chuckling as she coughed at the rough air's foul presence. "The road. Dead white man. Scalped. Was it you?"
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Re: Retribution Station

Post by Gadreille on Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:10 pm

Chepi's face reddened, but in the dark there was no way he would notice. Hutchins. Dwight Hutchins. He somehow knew about the man she had killed. What was it to him? Was it his friend and companion? Was he some sort of law enforcer? Why did he want to know?

One thing she did know was to never give information for free. So many white men would give iron pots, blankets or food just for information on where the nearest settlement was, who had passed by recently, or what was safe to eat. No, never give a word without a price.

She walked slowly over to the table across from him, striking a second match and lighting the candle he failed to light. She sat in the opposing chair, the light reflecting nothing in the dark pools of her eyes. She said nothing.

Hutchins laughed quietly and leaned forward. He pulled his knife slowly from its sheath, putting his other hand in a fist and mimicking a sawing motion with the knife. "Scalp. White man. Did You Do It." He asked again, before setting his knife down on the table, still rested in his hand. Chepi's eyes flashed to the knife and back to Hutchins face. What did she want to barter, and was it worth her life? Perhaps her life was what she needed to barter for.

"I know who killed you man. You give me word that I go, safe, I show him to you."
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