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Puck

The Spy

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a character in “White Group.”, as played by Bosch

Description

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Description- Puck is Ten years old with brown hair and raggedy clothes. His hair in unkempt and he is always quite messy looking.

Personality- Puck is a good natured Ten year old. He is curious and brave to a fault. This is because he deeply wants the respect of those older than himself. This leads him to take extreme risks to get information.

Equipment- Puck carries a pen and paper of which he writes notes. Unfortunately Puck received no formal education so his notes are a jumble of letters and pictures only he can decipher. Calling Pucks writings a language is a stretch it’s more like cave art.

History- Puck was born in Skycove and he can’t remember much about his Parents. He ran with a gang of pick pockets called the Lost Boys for about four years. One day he tried to rob a well dressed man with a goatee. Who caught puck by the wrist. The Man was of course Mister Charles. Charles was kind to the boy and soon Puck and his friends were telling Mister Charles things they heard around the Flats. Puck of course was the ringleader of the new enterprise. He is very fond of Mister Charles as he the only adult who ever treated the boy with respect as such the child will go to great lengths to retrieve information for Mister Charles.

Puck is also becoming more friendly with James Costner as Costner was very similar to Puck at that age.

So begins...

Puck's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mister Charles Character Portrait: Arachne Webspinner Character Portrait: Alexander Lancaster Character Portrait: Adalin Nyx Character Portrait: Gretch Character Portrait: Colonel Augustus Autumn Character Portrait: Ruby Gowen Character Portrait: Jenner Reese Character Portrait: James Costner Character Portrait: Puck

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#, as written by Bosch
Epilogues.

Hanzo Guinness was safely in the hands of his criminal gang who had been more than happy to pay Mister Charles and the White Group what they owed. Hanzo on the other hand was too happy with his reversal of fortunes to make much sense.
Mister Charles was happy as well, Ruby had performed admirably and would make an excellent addition to the team. He was slightly concerned about the interest her job would generate in the Confederate army. His concern only grew when he received the report of Alexander’s mission.

Around the same time Mister Charles was learning about Alexander’s Antics Colonel Autumn was doing the same. He was sitting in the office that had once been Fat Nic Escobar’s then Gretch’s and now his. Fat Nic’s Casino had been rebuilt and was now the Confederate nerve centre the gaming tables that had once stood in the place had been replaced by Models and maps of the surrounding areas and towns. Each one, with the exception of Hope, was well detailed thanks to the reports of the Confederate’s sources.

Colonel Autumn was lost in a world of thought and deeply reading a report by a survivor of a caravan ambush. Apparently the Confederate patrol had blundered into an ambush masquerading as a trade caravan. The Attack had apparently been led by a native calling himself the Butcher of the Wastes.

Autumn sighed and dropped the report before looking at the assembled captains before him. They were fighting men, all very good at following plans but poor at coming up with them. They needed Autumn to tell them what to do.

“At this point I see no reason to be worried about this Butcher. I have arrived at this conclusion through method of... Captain Hayes?”

“Deduction Sir?” Captain Hayes offered.

“Correct Captain. What I have deduced is this was not the work of a single man. The survivor, clearly traumatised, is having trouble remembering what he saw. I have no doubt it was a single man who threatened him but I imagine the massacre involved a well organised group. One man taking on an entire patrol? Unlikely.”

Autumn smiled, a gesture designed to inspire confidence.

“Secondly, by leaving a man alive we know this group to be vain. They wanted us to know what they had done, so that we might fear them. The Confederate Army does not fear, in particular we do not fear highwaymen with delusions of grandeur.”

The Captains nodded, happy that Autumn was there to take charge and ease their worried minds. The last thing any of them wanted was terrorist campaign.

“Lastly are any of you aware of who this Butcher of The Wastes is? Apparently our group of miscreants are unaware of the history that name carries around The Flats. Depending on who you speak to he’s either a hero of the weak or a mercenary that murdered fifty three Women and Children to celebrate a victory. Innocent people, not Slaves or Ochil, free Humans murdered by this butcher. Say’s a lot about them that they would choose such a name.”

The Captains stood in silence for a moment before Captain Lewis spoke up, the dead Confederates had been a part of his garrison.

“What will our response be?”

“Of course Captain we can’t let this stand and a strong message must be sent to any who are involved or are thinking about getting involved in this sort of thing. Our response must be swift and decisive.”

Autumn bridged his fingers and returned to his thoughts before standing and gesturing to a map.

“There is a small town, a trading stop really, called Ganhj about five miles south of New Mesa. Your squad is to travel there and select fifty three people. Execute half on the spot, ensure this is witnessed and the reason for the action is made clear. It is a response to the killings committed by the gang calling themselves the Butcher of the Wastes. The rest are to be brought to New Mesa where they too will be executed and displayed as a deterrent. Hopefully this will discourage the Flatlanders from picking up arms in an unwinnable war. The Confederate Army also shows mercy on their opponents even when they do not ask it.”

#

Mister Charles shook with anger as he read the report of Alexander’s actions. His actions had put the entire White Group at risk for the sake of a single Caravan. He waited for the Confederate response which he was sure would be swift.

It was.

Puck told him about the massacre at Ganhj and the reason behind it. Apparently the Confederate troops had really worked the place over before murdering fifty three of the town’s inhabitants as a response to the actions of the Butcher Of Wastes. Half of the bodies were currently hanging around New Mesa, just as Gretch had done when he had been in charge.

Charles collected the report he had received about the massacre and sent it to Alexander. He also included his message alongside the report.

“I do hope you had fun playing the Hero Alexander, However I do feel it doesn’t suit you just ask the fifty three Innocents. Or is it One hundred and six now?”

Charles regretted sending the message but he could not abide recklessness and felt it had to said. For all his combat skill Alexander still had to learn the wider consequences his actions could have especially when facing an enemy like the Confederate Army.

#

Ada as always reported directly to Mister Charles after her mission had been completed, not only had she successfully reproduced the plans but she had completely avoided detection. Charles commended her on her work and watched as the young woman left his office. She didn’t respond to his praise and not for the first time he wondered what Hope did to turn children into such emotionless killers.

#

The next day Charles had the plans Ada copied in his possession and was getting ready for an arduous journey.

“Ready Mister Costner?”

“Ready Mister Charles.”

Charles nodded and threw his pack onto the back of his horse before climbing on. Costner did the same with his own horse.
The two men were setting off from the Workshop and making their way to another meeting. The client had chosen a meeting point deep in The Flats which was becoming more common as the fear of Confederate spies was becoming more real.

Already Charles was seeing more and more signs of the occupation. Confederate Airship were making piracy a top priority as well as increasing their hold on New Mesa and the surrounding lands. It was clear the Confederates thought they were there to stay but what this meant for The Flats remained to be seen. Skycove was an obvious choice to attack as Charles had heard rumblings the Pirates were trying to sort out an Independent Navy although there were voices of dissent that thought it would be wiser to just migrate south and leave the Flats to the Confederates. Hope was something of a mystery as its interactions with the other towns were limited. There was no doubt they had weapons stockpiles but their religious beliefs meant they did not have many soldiers and would be unlikely to attack the Confederates unless directly threatened. Nevertheless Hope would be a place the Confederates would be wise to stay out of. Farpoint would fall quickly as it was a town founded on commerce and the Confederates had the most beads. To Charles it seemed unlikely that the Flats would be able to resist Confederate rule. While there was a willingness there to resist the people of the Flats were too disorganised to present a real threat.

They needed a leader.

The meeting they were travelling to would conclude Ada’s plan copying job. Mister Charles had been approached by a Group claiming to be attempting to put together an Independent Army that could one day dead direct blows to the Confederate Army. Of course Mister Charles had no interest in their fight. The White Group would always exist regardless of which flag the Flat’s where under. However when it became clear the group had substantial financial backing, thanks to Claude Kane who had recently inherited his mother’s fortune. In all the White Group had been heavily involved in starting the Resistance even if they were doing it for beads.

After a few days travelling they eventually arrived at the meet. It was taking place in a cave network to the west, a nice out of the way place where a meeting could take place away from prying eyes.

The two men spent a few hours scoping the place out but could see no signs of life.

Eventually Costner stealthily entered the cave but didn’t find anything amiss. The pair entered the tunnel network and eventually found themselves in the chamber where the meeting was to take place. Charles could feel the hair on his neck bristle, there was something off about the meet but he felt confident with Costner there.

Soon they heard a distinctive clip of heels against rock. Both men turned to face an Ochillian Woman wearing a white shirt and tan trousers.

“Madame Ti’loke?” Charles asked.

“Yes I assume you two are representatives from the Organisation?”

“The White Group? Yes, it’s fine to say the name.”

“Good Then it’s fine to say our name, the Flats Resistance Army.”

“Not an Army quite yet is it?” James asked.

“We’re recruiting.” The woman said a little defensively.

“We have the information as requested and our operative was undetected. In fact she tells me she was feet away from Colonel Autumn himself. Could have ended the whole thing there.”

“Why didn’t she?”

“If you’re good at something never do it for free. The Operative completed her task as instructed. Now to business.”

He opened the bag containing the plans but instead of producing them he pulled out a Revolver and pointed it at the woman.

“Miss Globe, I presume?” Charles asked solemnly as he pointed the weapon at the woman’s head.

“How’d you...”

“Know? The lie was good in fact it almost had me convinced. Until I saw your face. My Operatives told me about their encounters with you and the wounds on your face seemed familiar. The rest was guess work I don’t know any other female Ochillians that would need to resort to this kind of deception to get my attention.”

Miss Globe smiled.

“Very good. I hope you don’t think me a rank amateur but time was against us.”

“Us?”

“Ah it would appear you don’t know everything.”

Charles heard a sudden whoosh pass by his ear. Costner roared a curse of pain and when Charles glanced back he saw the man had a large blade sticking out of his shoulder. Costner quickly wrenched it out but Charles didn’t have time to consider what was happening as he quickly found himself tagged with an similar knife. Immediately he knew it was drugged.

“If it’s any consolation I got your man Alexander in a similar fashion.” Miss Globe explained.

Charles heard Costner hit the floor behind him and knew he was a few short seconds away from unconsciousness himself. He tried to steady his aim but Miss Globe was floating around the sights so he lowered the weapon.

“Bugger it.” He said before raising it and firing off every round he had.

He then collapsed.

#

A slap woke Mister Charles up and he saw himself staring into a horribly scarred face he knew all too well.

“Charlie! Welcome to the party.” Gretch beamed. He was wearing a leather apron that was covered in various knives and cleavers. “Me and your partner here where just getting acquainted, playing us some twenty questions.”

Charles took a second to get his bearings. He still in the cave but was now tied to a wooden chair as was Costner who was about twenty feet away and facing him. Costner had taken a beating to be sure but he was still more or less in one piece.

“I got questions Charlie. A lot of fucking questions and you two fuckers got answers!”

“If he finds the Workshop he will rape and murder everyone he finds in there do you understand?” Charles called out to Costner.
Gretch turned and looked at Costner. “Not even necessarily in that order.” He shrugged.

Gretch stretched and walked into a space roughly half way between the two men.

“Now we’re going to play another game. Twenty Questions is getting fucking boring. What to play though... what to play...” Gretch pondered as he stroked his chin in a theatrical display.

He abruptly clicked his fingers. “Mum’s not here, so why don’t we do something... bad?”

“Could you bloody well get on with it? I don’t have time to indulge your ramblings.” Charles said staring hard at the Madman.

“Alright. See Charlie that’s why I like you. Straight to the point. All Business. We coulda worked together and run these Confederate dickpleasers out of town but you hadda send one of your fuckers after me. So now you gotta die, then that piece of shit assassin you sent is gonna die and finally you know what’s gonna happen? All your little fucking killers are gonna work for me. Wanna know why?”

“As I said, let’s move this along.”

“The War. I’m the resistance, I wasn’t shitting ya. Who else is gonna stand up to these Confederate fucks? Who else can lead men? I took a bunch of fucking know nothing tribals and took New Mesa. I can send these solider boys back to whatever diseased whore spawned ‘em.”

“Eloquent as always.” Charles sighed.

“Here’s the deal, I want to know where the White Group club house is first. You know take care of the past so I can move on. So I’ve come up with a simple game to get me answers. Let’s take a closer fucking look at your friend’s chair.”

Gretch strode over to Costner and booted him in the chest knocking over his chair.

“See all these twigs and straw and wood and shit?” Charles looked at the heap that was tied under Costner’s chair. “That’s kindling! Don’t you worry now Charlie boy. Yours is exactly the same.”

Gretch heaved Costner’s chair back up.

“We’re gonna play us some Eeny Meeny Miney Moe. The loser gets to be barbecue and the winner gets to watch. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Gretch pointed at Charles.

“Eeny Meeny... Wait I don’t want any cheating so before you ask I’ve pulled those fucking false teeth Charlie. You can’t be sucking down no poison to get out of it, the loser is going to feel this shit.”

Gretch pointed at Costner and began his rhyme again.

“Eeny Meeny Miney Moe,
Catch a Tanu by the toe,
If he hollers let him go,
Eeny Meeny Miney Moe.”

He stared at his finger for a long moment before following it to the loser.

“I’m sorry Charlie. To be honest though it was always going to be you.” Gretch shrugged.

“You Fucker!” Costner yelled from across the room.

“Do NOT tell them anything! We WILL be avenged!” Charles shouted at Costner.

“Sure thing Charlie, whatever you say.” Gretch said as he gathered together some flint and crouched down behind Mister Charles.

“Do not let me down. Tell him nothing.” Charles said making eye contact with James.

Gretch theatrically smelled the air.

“I think something’s burning!”

Gretch exploded into gleeful laughter and got to fanning the flames.

“NO you Bastard! You sick fucking bastard!” Costner screamed from his chair.

The kindling quickly erupted and the flame travelled to the leg of Charles’ trousers. The man gritted his teeth and stared at the floor while trying to ignore the pain and Gretch’s frantic waving and dancing. He tried to go somewhere else, to a time when he was happy and undamaged but after a lifetime spent killing people for beads he couldn’t think of a single happy moment.

Like Gretch said he was going to feel the flame.

Costner watched as Mister Charles seemed to ripple behind the heat haze. Blood was running down Charles’ mouth from how tightly he was gritting his teeth but eventually he threw his head back screamed with pain. The scream filled the room and Costner thought it was loudest, longest thing he’d ever heard.

Gretch dropped to his knees with the twisted joy he was getting from the moment.

“Let it out Charlie! Die knowing I killed you!”

Soon Costner couldn’t see Mister Charles through the smoke and flame. All that told him Mister Charles was still there was the screaming but eventually it stopped. Then only the crackling of the fire remained.

Costner dropped his head.

As the fire died Gretch got to his feet and walked to Costner.

“I’m going to leave this here for you to take a right long fucking peep at. Tomorrow morning at dawn you are going to tell me where the White Group call home. What I did to that is nothing compared to what I’ll do to you. I just wanted to kill him. You I want answers from. You’ll be alive for days while I work on you. Fucking days.”

Gretch patted Costner on the cheek before standing and leaving the cave.

#

Eventually the smoke cleared enough for Costner to see what was left of Mister Charles and he felt his resolve waver. Gretch was going to kill him of that there was no doubt what Costner had to decide was if he was going to die keeping his word to Mister Charles or die quickly.

Costner didn’t sleep instead he spent hours just staring at Mister Charles’ immolated body and thinking about his failure. His first time out with Mister Charles and he’d let him died in the worst way it was possible to imagine. Costner closed his eyes and prayed to whatever God he could remember.

He prayed for the chance of revenge.

He was interrupted when he heard shifting rocks behind him and for a second felt fear grab his heart that it was already dawn.

“Psst James?”

Costner tried to turn in his seat but couldn’t see where the voice was coming from, then he felt small hands working at the ropes that held him. Once he was free he quickly stood and turned to face his rescuer.

Grubby faced Puck stood in front of him and wiped his nose.

“Puck how did you get here?”

“Found a hole in the ground.” The child explained simply.

“Why are you here?”

“Didn’t trust the meet. I always watch meets I’m not sure about. I have Mister Charles’ back only he don’t know I do.”

“Puck about Mister Charles...” Costner started as he positioned himself between the boy the horror of Mister Charles’ corpse.

“I know, but we gotta get outta here and tell the others. Ain’t no way we’re gonna take on nobody. No weapons and Gretch got an Army in the next chamber over.”

“An army?”

“Tribals all of ‘em but he sure got a lot. Let’s get out of here.” Puck sounded scared and the courage it must have taken for the boy the rescue him became apparent.

“Ok.”

#

Puck showed Costner the hole in the ground through which he entered the cave and Costner followed him out. On the way they passed along a rock shelf that took them over Gretch’s Army. Costner counted at least fifty tribals and there had to be more on patrols. It wasn’t enough to take on the Confederates but Gretch was building his army.

Eventually the duo found themselves looking at a make shift stable with a lone guard. Costner guessed there were only a few hours left until dawn.

“Don’t worry I know how we can sneak past him.” Puck said but Costner put a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“You wait here and don’t come in. I’ll get the horse and bring it out.”
Costner got to his feet and walked to the Stable. Puck waited for about five minutes before Costner returned with a horse and covered in blood.

“James, you’re bleeding!”

“Not my blood kid.”

#

At dawn Gretch was surprised to learn Costner had been able to escape. He had assumed the cave only had one entrance but it was no matter without their leader the White Group would be no more, he’d had his revenge. As for Alexander without Mister Charles’ network to protect him eventually Gretch would track him down.

A thought then occurred to Gretch which sent him to the stable where the stench of death was over powering.

Every horse in the Stable was dead as was the guard. In fact it looked like before he’d left Costner had taken his time killing and mutilating the man. On the wall in blood was a simple message.

“Soon.”

#

“James are you alright?” Jenner Reese asked James Costner after he explained what had happened to Mister Charles.

“It was pretty rough but he took it like man. He was more worried about me breaking than he was about himself. He was one tough old bastard.”

“We have to let the others know. I’ll brief them when I put up this week’s jobs.”

“What do you mean? There’s no White Group, not anymore.”

“I’ve been working with Mister Charles for a few months now I’m sure between us we can keep it running. The operatives all know what they’re doing and I’m sure they’ll be out for revenge, we owe Mister Charles that as well, he took us in. We also need to find information about Mozambique or have you forgotten about that? I’M though running James, we make our stand here. We’ll kill Gretch, Avenge Mister Charles and go back to work.”

Costner nodded and left the office.

Jenner lifted a pen and started to write.

Jobs.

Before the usual posting of Jobs it falls to me to inform you of the death of Mister Charles at the hands of Gretch and Miss Globe. I assure you this action will not go unanswered. I am using all resources at our disposal to track down this man as well as his associates. To this end all operatives are to remain vigilant for any information regarding Gretch, Miss Globe or any Groups claiming to be the Resistance to the Confederate Army as this is the group Gretch is now commanding.
Additionally, according to Mister Costner, Gretch has a particular interest in the White Group therefore Operatives should take precautions while on Jobs.

Lastly while the death of Mister Charles is a tragedy I assure you the White Group will continue to operate. This would have been his will.

The Ringleader.

Jenner Reese.


Leave no Man Behind.


Target- The remains of Mister Charles.

Location- A cave Network to the west, in the Badlands.

Information- The Body of Mister Charles is to be recovered if possible and brought back to the Workshop where it can be interred.

James Costner can offer the precise location of caves, he should be consulted before you set out. The caves are in the middle of the Badlands so expect to encounter feral gangs of Tribals as well as the occasional, hopefully friendly, tribe of Ochillian nomads.
Lastly while we believe Gretch and his army have moved on, you are to collect any information possible about the group. This can be achieved through analysis of physical evidence or interviewing those who may have seen them passing through the area.
Be aware Gretch is a feral tribal and he is considered a legend amongst these groups if you are detected by a gang of roaming psychos odds are Gretch will hear about it.


Zong


Target- Cuervo “Slim” Banner

Location- The Zong.

Information- Unlike on the Flats Slavery is common in the Peaks. All races and genders have the potential to become slaves and once someone is branded a slave that is their station for life. Branding takes place on the cheeks as a method to easily identify slaves.

Slim Banner is a Slaver who is currently operating in the Flats he seems to be specialising in Ochillians, particularly women and children. Apparently they are sought after on The Peaks by the wealthy as they are seen as exotic.

It’s a dirty trade for dirty people. The client is the Ran-du Tribe who are nomadic traders like all Ochil. Apparently five of their group, two women and three children, were captured by Slim and his gang of Slavers.

Pirates are not welcome in most places in the Flats including Skycove, probably because many pirates are escaped Slaves. The Pirates have established a market called The Zong where slaves are traded before being brought north to the Peaks. Apparently Slim and his Slavers are currently there with the kidnapped Ran-du. You are to kill Slim and recover the five Ran-Du if possible. Expect them to be heavily drugged as this is the preferred Method to keep Slaves controllable. The Zong it’s self will be crawling with Slavers so be aware.


Tit for tat for tit for tat...


Target- Captain Melvyn Lewis

Location- New Mesa and the surrounding area.

Information- Captain Lewis led the attack on Ganhj that resulted in the execution of fifty three innocent people in retaliation for the deaths of Confederate Soldiers under his command. Apparently one of the fifty three killed is worth paying for revenge.
You are to locate and assassinate Captain Lewis. The client has specified, and these are the clients own words, “Let the bastard know his death is coming”. I’ll let the operative decide what that statement means.

Security in New Mesa is much tighter after the ambush so it may be easier to engage the Captain while he is on patrol. We have his previous patrol routes and times available in library.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Alexander Lancaster Character Portrait: Puck

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"Tell us a story Mr. Lancaster, pretty please," One of the orphans asked. The question was followed by shouts of encouragement from the other 26 orphans. "Well... alright. Once upon a time there was a man. He was famous across all of the flats as one of the best swordsman around. He dueled over a hundred swordsmen and women without incurring even a scratch. Soon he was recruited into an army at first as just a sword, but soon they realized he was more than that. They realized he knew how to lead soldiers to victory. So they put him in charge of a unit which was were he gained the name "Butcher of the Wastes" after that they made him a general were he one many battles and won a war." Alexander didn't know how to finish his story. He wanted to make it happy, but it didn't have a happy ending not really. "What happened to him after that?" Balder asked. "He retired and raised a family. Then he died happily in his sleep." Alexander said. "That's not a very climactic end." Balder said. "No, but it is the happiest ending anyone can hope for. Now off to bed." The children ran off to their corners of the house to sleep. He had gotten each of them beds it wasn't cheap, but it was worth it.

That night Alexander had a nightmare, but unlike before it wasn't of the past. But the future. The Feds burned down his home and retook each of the orphans back to The Peaks and sold them to men like Slim. He awoke in a cold sweat. The Sun was shining through his blinds and he could hear children's laughter coming from the courtyard below. He could also see the men he hired to guard the children when he was away. They were Ex soldiers of his, some of the finest in the world two of them could equal ten Feds. He walked out of his home after saying goodbye to the children. He had instructed one of the men to start training the children to fight.

He entered the HQ and took a look at the missions. He considered them and one caught his eye. A job to stop a man named Chop Chop one of Gretch's men. Alexander looked at who was issuing the mission. It was from the head of White Group her self. She wanted to weaken the resistance for some reason. Whatever the reason was Alexander was not going to let her do it. Gretch may be a crazy psychopath, but he wouldn't allow the Feds to take what little Alexander had. Alexander left the base with one mission. Have a chat with Chop Chop and get in contact with Gretch.

He hitched a ride with a Caravan that was going by New Mesa. They were good people who shared there home with him without asking any questions about why he wanted to go to New Mesa. The children did of course ask about his scars. But, he let that go. They even sold him some good whiskey which was an easy way to his heart.

When he made it to New Mesa he surveyed the area. When he found a weak spot in their defenses he infiltrated and made it into the crowd without being noticed. He then made a beeline for Puck's little hiding spot. It was well hidden and unreachable by anyone over the age of ten so he had to find an orphan to go find Puck for him. He found one and payed a hefty sum. The boy returned with Puck. "What do ya need Mr?" Puck asked. "You wouldn't happen to know were James Squire is hiding at would you Puck." Alexander asked. "Yea, I do, but I can't seem to figure out were the meet is going to go down," Puck said. "That's alright just bring me to James I'll charm my way in." Alexander said.

Puck brought him to an inconspicuous looking warehouse. "This is were he's at." Puck said. Alexander threw him a bag of beads then told him to go home. The entrance was guarded by two men who looked as if they were playing a game of chess. But, they were armed and looked rather dangerous. "Hello there." Alexander said while approaching the two. "I know what this place is and I need to talk to James. I'm here on behalf of White Group you probably know who they are." He explained. They both drew their weapons and looked at Alexander. "Don't worry." Alexander dropped both of his weapons and presented his hands to be bound. They bound him and took him inside to see James.

"Why are you here and how did you find us?" James asked pointing a gun at Alexander's head. "I'm here to make sure the deal with you and Chop Chop goes over well and to present my services to both you and Gretch as both an Assassin and a sword. And how I found you is none of your business." Alexander explained. "Do you know Ruby?" He asked. "Not well, but yes I know her." Alexander replied. James relaxed a little. "Can you prove you're a White Group member?" He asked. "No, we carry no form of identification." Alexander said. "Fine I'll trust you, but know this I can and will kill you if you betray me or ruin my plans with Gretch. Give the man his weapons back and untie him." James ordered.

It was two days until the meet was to go down so Alexander took the time to spar with James and his men. They were all mediocre fighters at best. James and a few others had some talent, but it would take some real training to make them into warriors.

The time finally came and they went to the meet. It was off about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the city. Chop Chop arrived fashionably late with a group of about 20 tribals. Alexander scanned around making sure there were no hidden snipers or anything of the kind when he caught a pair of eyes. Puck's eyes. He must have found out were the meet was somewhere. That didn't bode well for Alexander.

"You James?" Chop Chop asked Alexander. "No, that would be my friend here." Alexander gestured to the real James. They made deals about how Gretch would smuggle in weapons and supplies to the rebels if James promised to help reinstate Gretch as the leader of New Mesa and even the entire flats if the opportunity arose. James agreed quickly to the terms as they were fair and helped everyone reach their goals. "Now one more thing. My friend here has a proposition for Gretch also." James said gesturing back to Alexander. "Yea and what the fuck does he want eh?" He asked. " I would like to offer my services to Gretch." Alexander replied. "And why would he want your help ya dumb cunt?" Chop Chop asked. "Because I am an Assassin, one of the best." Alexander replied. "You White Group?" He asked. "Yes I am." Alexander said. "Gretch has expressed to me that he is interested in owning the White Group." He said. "I can't make that happen. But, I can kill anyone or steal anything he needs. Free and no questions asked. He can send any requests to this location." Alexander handed Chop Chop a pecie of paper with the address of a courier service. "Tell the service there to take it to Alexander Lancaster they'll know were to go to find me." Alexander continued. Chop Chop nodded, "I'll be sure to tell him, we could use someone like you if you are telling the truth. And if you're not. We will cut your balls off and feed em to ya."

Chop Chop gestured to his men to be off and they did just that. Alexander glanced up and noticed that Puck was gone. Probably already on his way to Tell Jenner about what went down. Alexander knew there was no hiding what he did so he went back to HQ to face his punishment. When Mister Charles was in charge the worst he would have gotten was a talking to that made him Alexander feel like shit. He had no idea what Jenner's wrath could feel like. But, he was probably about to find out.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ruby Gowen Character Portrait: Jenner Reese Character Portrait: Puck

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Mission Objective: Rescue Farts and Bounder
Mission Location: New Mesa

Ruby was sitting silently within her room. She watched herself in the mirror as her face stared back at her. What did she feel? It wasn't clear whether or not she was angry, caught off guard or empathetic with it all... How could Puck have done what he did? Admittedly, if it had been anyone else disclosing what Puck had, they would now be on their way to Wylde in a number of pieces with a polite 'fuck you' written on each piece of the body. But it wasn't just anyone, and even it was, this was a kid. A child who clearly still doesn't know right and wrong. A child living each day as it comes and surviving to the best of his abilities... But the truth of the matter still remained; Puck was playing a man's game. He wanted to be apart of the man's game. Puck betrayed the White Group.

Ruby stood up with a stern whispered curse and paced around her room. She was going to have to rescue his friends of course. Ruby wasn't heartless. That was probably her problem more than anything nowadays. The fact she couldn't even walk away from a Fed kill without consolidating her motives. That in itself was proof enough that Ruby wasn't as a cold as she pretended to be sometimes. Ruby kicked a chair over and shouted out loud and suddenly a knock on her door surprised her as Alexia Coleman suddenly appeared through the ajar door.

“Excuse me Ruby, but have you got a moment?”

Ruby looked to the door with an almost surprised expression, Alexia never left the armory unless it was to eat, and even then she never spoke. Ruby still stared and Alexia just shuffled quietly into the room and sat on another chair nearby.

“Couldn't help but notice you haven't been to the armory for the past few days...”

“So? I wasn't aware I had to be there...”

Ruby saw Alexia sort of tense up and soon Ruby found herself sighing as she picked the kicked over chair and sat it upright and took a seat herself.

“Sorry Alexia... Just personal problems...”

“I thought so..” Alexia said with an knowing nod “You're always down with Kincaid and me when you're back here... We both started to wonder where you got to... That's why I popped up to see if everything was alright...”

Alexia's words hung in the air and Ruby felt the earnest, but still pressured inflection in Alexia's voice to open up to the timid gunsmith. Ruby shook her head, but Alexia nodded again as if to say, start talking...

“Honestly Ruby... I've grown to like it here... And everyone around here has done so much for me since I came here and after the news of my father...”

Ruby looked up, hoping Alexia wouldn't start crying. It wasn't that Ruby minded consoling her when Alexia became a bit, sensitive... But it wasn't the right time, and Ruby was less than sympathetic towards anyone since Puck's confession.

“I just consider you and Jenner among my good friends now. You can ask Jenner too, I told her that as well. And being that I consider you my good friend, I notice when you're not normal... So what's going on?”

Ruby sighed and turned to the mirror in her room and blew a stray hair out of her face.

“Ugh.. You're really not gonna leave? Fine...”

Ruby chose her words carefully now. Although she would say she trusted Alexia, it was clear to Ruby that mentioning Puck's name would not do anyone any favours.

“What if you found out that someone had betrayed you? What would you do?”

“Depends on what they did?”

“What if they potentially have had someone close to you killed...”

Alexia thought carefully for a moment and then spoke quietly..

“Well, if they've willingly potentially killed someone close to me... If they knew what they were doing when they did it... Even if they were sorry... Ruby, I'd kill them.”

Ruby was taken aback at Alexia's cool tone. She had honestly expected Alexia to give a timid, passive response.

“What if they person who has betrayed you had no other options... What if they didn't foresee the outcome of their choices to be so bad?”

“Ruby... Whatever this person has done to you... The fact of the matter is they have been dishonest.”

“Where's this coming from Alexia?”

“My nation betrayed my father Ruby. They Betrayed me when they betrayed my father too. If there is one thing I've learned since coming to the Flats. You pay all your debts in blood.”

Ruby felt something within her drop like a lead balloon. Alexia stood up and smiled weakly to Ruby. Opening the door and turning only briefly to give Ruby one last piece of advice,

“Clearly whoever has betrayed you Ruby... They mean something to you. A great deal by the sounds of it. But the only people you can trust in this world now, I realise, are the ones that don't fuck you over... And when and if someone does fuck you over... You take your gun and you put it to their head... and if you can't put it to their head.. You put it to something else they care about... And then you make them realise, don't fuck with me.”

Alexia left and Ruby sat in a silent admiration and stunned shock and Alexia left, leaving Ruby with a stark realisation... Puck was going to have to pay his debts.

Thief's Rest and the Bargaining of Skills with Deeza.

Ruby had tried twice to get into New Mesa in the past two days, each time cutting it very close to being killed. With the Levithan hanging overhead too it wasn't easy trying to sneak in. Ruby currently found herself sitting in the middle of nowhere about four miles south of New Mesa, hiding from the heat under rock formation commonly known as the Thief's Rest. It was, before the Confederacy's invasion, known to be a regular meet point for Caravaners and the like – A rest stop of sorts – it apparently got it's name over a hundred years ago when a highly sought after criminal on the flats spent nearly a year at Thief's Rest just four miles from New Mesa without ever being detected. Ruby always scoffed at the story, finding it rather boring really, but true to the story's nature, she had to admit that whenever anyone was looking for Theif's Rest it never seemed to appear if someone else was already hiding there...

Suddenly a calm, quiet voice broke Ruby's silent thoughts and she found her self bolt-upright, a stern nod towards Deeza as the Ochil woman greeted Ruby.

“You've lost your gusto..” Deeza noted.

“Something serious has come up...”

“Well, it must be serious if Ruby Doom ain't having a laugh..”

Ruby felt her stomach drop further than it already was as Carla Reynolds rounded the corner, a wry smile plastered across her face.

“What the fuck?” Ruby hissed as Carla slung an arm around Deeza.

“You wanted me here so fast Ruby... I couldn't exactly ride a horse this far from Grazers Heat in the time you wanted me...”

“And I am always more than happy to help out a friend Ruby!” Carla taunted.

Ruby gritted her teeth, feeling an eye twitch as Carla just guffawed and leaned against a nearby rock. Ruby was about to speak her mind when Deeza surprisingly cut her off.

“What is it you need Ruby? I don't have Carla's assistance for long...”

Ruby sighed in relief, so Carla was just here to make Ruby's life a momentary hell.

“I need to learn to mirage walk...”

Deeza's eyes went wide, Ruby could see the Ochil was between offended and surprised.

“I cannot teach you Ruby. It's something only the most trusted ever learn, and that includes our own. Plus it can take years to learn... It just can't be done...”

“I just want to know enough to get into New Mesa without a hassle... You can trust me! You must have heard about me at least from the local Ochil Clans around these parts? Surely they must be enough to validate my trust...”

Ruby was desperate. She pleaded back and forth for nearly an hour with Deeza. The Ochil acknowledged Ruby's flawless reputation, but also rebutted that Ruby's nature on its own was reckless and the skill of Mirage Walking took more patience than she thought Ruby possessed. But it wasn't until Carla interrupted that Ruby managed to, much to her disdain, get Deeza to agree to give Ruby a crash course.

Ruby sat with Deeza until just before nightfall, learning the theory behind Mirage Walking. The concept itself was simple to Ruby – Move like air, think as though you are see-through and don't move unnecessarily. However, when practicing, Ruby soon found out the process was much more complicated than the concept. As Ruby and Deeza had practiced throughout the day, all of Deeza's hardcore training managed to amount to nothing more than Ruby being able to approach Carla – who still hadn't left - within a few feet before the woman became aware of Ruby.

Deeza stressed profusely that considering the limited time Ruby had had, and the fact she'd never mirage walked before, that Ruby was doing excellently. But frustratedly Ruby reminded Deeza and the repeatedly frustrating Carla that Ruby performing excellently with where she was at was not enough.

“New Mesa... Going into New Mesa... That is what I am doing... I've practically got my face on every surface there. If I can't move through that fucking town without being seen, I'll be hung drawn and quartered before I even have a chance to raise my fist.... Fuck Deeza.. isn't there something you can do?!”

Deeza sighed, rubbing a hand across her face and shaking her head.

“You've got the skill at it's base level. Perhaps if someone went in with you... Their skill might be enough to buffer you both.. The other person may be able to hypnotize everyone else enough to give you a break..”

“Well then excellent! You can come with me!”

“Absolutely not Ruby” Deeza stated sternly “My people need me... and I know we're allied, but I simply will not put myself in that kind of danger...”

“What am I supposed to do then!? I NEED to do this Deeza... people's lives are at stake! I need another Ochil.”

Deeza breathed deeply and Ruby watched as the woman's body went stern and rigid.

“Don't push me or my people Ruby Gowen. I acknowledge that in your time you have done a lot to aid us. You are one of the few Flatlanders who I truly believe in. But whatever this is... Whatever has you in this... position. You need to tread carefully. I have already helped you more than many Ochils would have. I have placed a great deal of trust in you, teaching you the beginnings of my peoples sacred art. I cannot go with you. I cannot offer you Ochil assistance today that exceeds what I've already done. I am sorry.”

Ruby gritted her teeth and leaned against the main rock that formed Theif's rest. Puck and his friends really had gotten under her skin. She wasn't sure still if she wanted to kill Puck or help him. All that she knew in her almost auto-pilot state was that she needed to be in New Mesa.

“Fuck it. I'll go with ya'” Carla grunted as she put herself into the conversation.

“Huh?” Ruby said in confusion “You need to know how to mirage walk Carla.. and well!”

“Fuckin' really?” the woman retorted “And why wouldn't I know how to do that?”

Ruby shook her head.

“Coz you're a pirate. Why the hell would the Ochil teach you their most prized skill?”

Deeza interrupted this time,

“Because Carla Reynolds has known our skills for many many years Ruby...”

Ruby went silent. If it wasn't enough that Carla had to make her life difficult enough after only having known Ruby the shortest amount of time, she was now forced to once again ally with the woman who changed her mind every five minutes.

“Fuck me dead. I'll do it alone.”

“You're not that stupid are you?” Carla snorted. “C'mon Ruby. I told you before, James Squire ain't my type...”

Ruby's eye twitched. Carla was more than irritating. Besides, what was she getting at with James? Ruby kicked off the rock and moved to stand in front of Deeza, a hand outstretched, shaking Deeza's hand earnestly,

“Thank you Deeza. Really.”

Deeza nodded and smiled weakly, turning to Carla,

“I need to get back to Grazers Heat as soon as possible..”

“No worries there. Already anticipated a longer stay round these parts. My men and women will take you where you gotta go!”

Carla shot Ruby another wry smile and Ruby found herself reaching boiling point on an already unsteady emotional train. Ruby gripped her fists tight and stepped towards Carla, pursed lips and all. For the first time Carla's smile wiped from her face.

“I swear to whatever fucking god is laughing down at us Carla. Step outta line and I'll cut you down.”

Carla raised an eyebrow, locking her gaze with Ruby as if she was trying to size up just how real the threat was. When Ruby hadn't blink for nearly a minute and a half Carla silently nodded but added a coy,

“I'll try my hardest.”

The Infiltration of New Mesa

Ruby and Carla had bid Deeza goodbye and had made their way to New Mesa. The women were sitting about a mile away watching the stark glow from Confederate floodlights cast upwards into the night sky. Although they couldn't quite make out what was echoing from New Mesa, Ruby and Carla could hear a booming recording playing on loop every few minutes. From where they sat Ruby and Carla could feel the depression emanating from New Mesa.

“They've fuckin' lost it” Carla though out loud.

“You can say that again...”

“I knew Colonel Autumn was a fucker... but it just looks like they're going over board...”

“That there ain't Autumn's handiwork... I mean, he started it... But Wylde is keeping that shit going...”

Ruby looked to Carla and nodded her head towards New Mesa and the two picked themselves up and moved towards the town. As they neared Carla stopped Ruby and gave her a few new pointers on Mirage walking. Ruby still wasn't convinced that the mere company of Carla would help her. Besides, the eagerness of Carla to get into New Mesa seemed off to Ruby. The woman never seemed to do anything unless she benefited. For the time being however, Ruby chose to think about Carla as a tool to reach the end of her mission.The woman moved closer to New Mesa and Ruby quietly reflected on Deeza's words,

“Mirage walking is a state of mind. Hypnotism and willpower. Combined they allow the user to fool those around them into unseeing what is there...”

Those were Deeza's words. Ruby couldn't deny the proof that Mirage Walking worked, but it still seemed too simple. Carla breathed deeply first and looked towards New Mesa as she moved,

“Stay close... It's one thing for me to be able to walk without being seen, but being able to trick others that you're not there too... well, lets just say i've never seen it work properly...”

“great” was all Ruby could manage.

The two women approached the only entrance to New Mesa, funneling themselves through a crowd trying to pass an apparent checkpoint. As they neared the Fed soldiers at the actual entrance, Ruby began to feel herself panic at the prospect of not being able to slip past the guards. Carla could sense Ruby's inhibition and stopped in her tracks, barring Ruby from passing.

“Don't stop!” Ruby hissed

“You need to stop whatever it is that's got a hold of you... We ain't gonna get past the guards if you don't pull your shit together. Now I'm helping you here... But you gotta trust me on this one. Pull it together or I fuck off.”

Ruby gritted her teeth for the umpteenth time and took a deep breath. The woman approached the gate and for a moment a nearby guard stopped and gave a quizzical look towards Ruby's direction. Shortly afterwards though Carla dragged Ruby through the final gate and into the town itself. Ruby felt a wave of relief pour over her but she barely had anytime to relax as Carla pulled her into a darkened alleway.

“Alright, we're in, what do you need to do?”

“That's my business. Besides, why are you here!?” Ruby retorted.

“Hey, I got you in, you need my help. What are we doing.”

Ruby sighed,

“The internment camps they have here... I've gotta get two kids outta them.”

Carla stood back, her head dropping in disbelief.

“You came here to get two little maggots out of New Mesa? Damnit. I thought this was something important.”

“It is important!” Ruby retorted. “And it's more complicated than I can explain.”

Carla stood back a little further, sizing Ruby up and down before deciding to interrogate her some more.

“Jenner Reese, your leader. She don't know you're doin' this does she?”

“Of course she does. Why the fuck would I be doing this otherwise?”

“No, she doesn't! I'm a skypirate Ruby Doom. I lie for a livin'... When I ain't killin'”

“Fuck off and leave me alone.”

“Hell no. I'm here now. I'm following through with this... But I wanna know why you're doin' it.”

Ruby felt another pit in her stomach form and kicked the ground in protest. Carla was a fucking hard bitch to turn away or convince to leave things alone. Every attempt Ruby made to push past Carla were met with the pirate standing in her way or threatening to yell out. Ruby was growing increasingly agitated. The pirate was too similar to Ruby and her attitude was grating to say the least. But after nearly a half hour stuck in the alleyway Ruby had to concede defeat and began to explain the story to Carla – however, Ruby omitted the part about the traitor to the white group being Puck... Instead changing the story to suit her needs. Ruby explained to Carla that Farts and Bounder had the information on who betrayed the White Group.

Carla had had to stop and think for a few moments. Ruby could see the woman trying to decide if Ruby was being honest. For a moment there, Ruby almost though Carla wasn't going to buy it. But then the Sky Pirate nodded and clearly pleased by Ruby's story simply gave her a thumbs up and moved further down the alleyway, leading Ruby towards the center of town into something she wished she'd never witnessed.

The Massacre in New Mesa

The night was still young when Ruby and Carla had made it into New Mesa. They two had spent the better half of an hour arguing about Ruby's motives, but they eventually found themselves cooperating and at the end of an alleyway looking into New Mesa's town square. Ruby had grown to hate this particular location in New Mesa, and today only reiterated further why she thought it would better to burn the town square into ashes.

The makeshift stage that Ruby first saw after the Fed's had taken over was gone now. Instead, in its place stood the cold, structured and deliberately placed and formulated platform that had Confederate banners hanging from it's front. The stage had huge floodlights in it's four corners with a single staircase from the back of the stage leading up to the main platform. On the platform stood a lectern of sorts. It was as Ruby gazed over the square she now saw the unbelievable amounts of piled up bodies at its base. They were covered in sheets to 'preserve their dignity' but the sight was more horrific knowing that underneath the wrapped corpses lay the bodies of innocent people.

Ruby felt her blood boiling again. She went rigid as she took in the scene around her. It was more than anything she'd ever felt in her life. Grievous Wylde had turned New Mesa into something abominable. The buildings were slowly being converted into something more reminiscent of Mundus. Stark colours and rigid designs that left a feeling of cold hopelessness were being constructed all around the Town. If it weren't for the known circumstances, one visiting may have thought New Mesa had got it's shit together, albeit in the worst way. Ruby stepped into the light, grabbing Coleman from her back, but suddenly Carla was pulling Ruby back into the shadows.

“what the hell are you doing? We need to get to the internment camp!”

“And we will.. I've gotta settle a score first.”

“Ruby Doom.” Carla hissed, “Pull your shit together. You can't keep changing your purpose. Besides there's no one out there but a pile of already dead.”

Ruby shot Carla a glare. How dare this unstable bitch be the voice of reason. Ruby was about to swing a punch at the Sky Pirate when suddenly a voice rang out across the town.

“All POW's are to assemble in the own Square immediately for an announcement. You are to move in an orderly fashion and assemble in accordance to your age. Youngest to oldest.”

The message relayed itself four to five times before suddenly from all major streets into the square burst forth with about five hundred degraded looking people. All their heads were shaved, man or woman, and they were all kitted out in some sort of standard plain grey pants and top. Everyone seemed to order themselves accordingly and Ruby scanned the crowd trying to understand who these people were.

Suddenly the voice from before echoed loud again, this time it was coming from atop of the stage. Grievous Wylde stood proud and demeaning, himself scanning the crowd as if searching for someone. As everyone found their place in the square, Carla and Ruby watched in silence from the shadows of the alleyway.

“You may all be wondering why I have gathered you here at this time..”

Grievous was cold and methodical in his tones. Ruby and Carla both looked to one another and back to Grievous. Ruby knew already that nothing good ever came from the man's mouth when he spoke. Nothing good ever came from any loyal Confederate ever. Probable even more so when a Cabal member was speaking.

“I have, on good authority, the understanding that a Miss Ruby Gowen or, more commonly known, Miss Ruby Doom, to be within our fine town's borders. She was sighted tonight entering the town covertly. Well, almost covertly. This woman is a danger to everything the Confederacy is working towards.”

Ruby felt Carla grip her shoulder and pull her back again. Ruby didn't even realise she was moving forwards.

“It appears, to me at least. That Ruby Doom never appears before us unless it's to spread destruction and unfounded resistance to the Confederacy. I believe she is here to see one of you tonight.”

Grievous motioned across the crowd. He was scanning it again. Clearly he believed Ruby was among them.

“I urge whoever is accompanying her to bring themselves forward and tell us where she is. You know we have you all on roll, we have checked everyone off as you have entered so we know you're all here and we know at least one of you knows where she is. I'll give you one minute to own up or you'll be facing the consequences of your silence.”

The crows seemed to tense up dramatically. Ruby watched carefully as the crowd shifted quietly but no one seemed to talk.

“No? Alright then. Let what happens next, serve as a reminder to you all why hindering the Confederacy is considered betrayal and a capital punishment.”

Grievous raised his hand and brought it down swiftly. Suddenly from the rooftops unknown numbers of Confederate men and woman appeared aiming rifles down into the crowd. Shots rung out across the square and suddenly people began to drop to the floor. Screaming erupted and cries and pleas for the hailstorm to stop were met with silence as Grieves calmly watched the massacre of New Mesa town square.

The finding of Farts and Bounder

Ruby felt her stomach wretch as she struggled to keep vomit down. She had never witnessed something as cold and evil as what had just happened. The screaming was deafening and the bullets continued to hail as Ruby keeled over onto her knees. It was something Ruby had never experienced before. She wasn't stupid.. She knew this sort of thing occurred in the real world. But through all her own killing she had never experienced such merciless hatred for other living beings who had nothing wrong.

Ruby felt Carla picking her up and leaning her against a wall. The woman was yelling something at Ruby but honestly, she was too taken aback by everything to compute any instructions. Suddenly Ruby felt herself being thrown to the ground as a Fed Soldier pinned her with his knee. Ruby felt the cold barrel of a revolver pressed to her cheek and heard the familiar click as the safety was pulled back. Just as the soldier went to fire his gun though he slumped off of Ruby and into the alleyway wall.

Ruby shook her head and suddenly once again felt the hard push of Carla as she was brought to her feet. Ruby felt herself returning to reality just in time to hear Carla shouting commands.

“He's shuffling them to the internment camp! Get your arse into the crowd and into that camp! I'll distract the Feds!”

Ruby dazedly looked to Carla as if to say, are you fucking stupid? But before any sort of conversation could be struck, Carla pushed Ruby into the square. Grievous Wylde's voice echoed out suddenly and that was when Ruby snapped back into reality. The cold voice and hatred for the man was enough to give Ruby her fight back. She wanted the fucker dead.

Ruby turned to face Greivous, but the crowd was moving erratically around her. Everyone was running towards the only exit now – Grievous was instructing the survivors to move towards the camps. Apparently when Ruby and Carla had been surprised by the soldiers in the alleyway, they had alerted others that they'd found Ruby and Carla. Grievous was now instructing everyone to point out Rubyif they saw her. Luckily however, everyone was too concerned with themselves to notice Ruby.

Ruby had managed to make it through the gates and into a smaller square where the 250 or so survivors from the massacre now cowered. Ruby began to regain herself a little more as each moment passed and looked around for Carla – she was no where to be seen. As Ruby began to shift through crowd wondering what was going happen next and where Carla was she heard the gruff voice of young girl sneering at a boy similar to the girls age,

“Farts. Get it together. We gotta get outta here and fast! We ain't gonna survive if you're crying.”

“Bounder!” Ruby called out, prompting the girl to turn around and hold a shiv upwards towards Ruby.

“Piss off lady! We don't want no trouble...”

“You're Pucks friend?”

“Who wants to know?”

“I'm here to get you two outta here...” Ruby said quickly

Farts continued to wail in hopelessness but Bounder quickly sized Ruby up and down, then smiled when she realised who Ruby was.

“I knew he'd save us!” Bounder cheered to herself. “How we getting outta here! It'll have to be fast.. the internment camps will be here soon!”

Ruby shook her head confusedly, “What do you mean?”

Bounder rolled her eyes and kicked Farts to signal him to shut up.

“The internment camps.. That's what they're calling the airships they use to keep us held. They lock about fifty of us up in the holding bays of an airship... If we get put onto one of those.. who knows if we'll come back!”

Ruby looked even more confused and Bounder could tell so she continued to lay everything out on the line for Ruby.

“Every few days one of the internment camps – the airships – goes away... When they return no one come back and the body pile grows in the center of town... They make us get off the internment camps and stand in the town square for a few hours reflecting... That's we thought tonight was...”

Ruby nodded her head in understanding now. “Got it” she said sternly.

Ruby looked around the massing crowd. Everyone was cowering in corners or big groups. No one seemed to be paying attention Ruby or the two kids, but Ruby couldn't help but notice that Carla was no where to be seen. Suddenly from above the small square she was in, floodlights rained down to the ground.

“Oh shit!” Bounder cried out, “They're here.. we're fucked!”

The Showdown of Carla Reynolds -the Queen of the Flats, and Grievous Wylde

Carla had barely had time to get Ruby back to reality before she was fighting off another two Fed guards. The woman had managed to so far evade bullets aimed at her. But as the crowd began to thin Carla soon found herself having less and less buffers as the bullets flew past her. It was only after the last POW made it through to wherever they were going that Carla stopped trying to hide and found herself square in the middle of the town square facing nearly ten Fed guards.

“And who might you be?” Grievous Wylde called from the stage.

Carla looked up to the man her stance strong and defiant of his clear attempts at intimidation. Carla raised her head in a fuck-you-manner and Grievous simply laughed as he leaped from the stage to the ground without injury. The man seemed almost super-human.

“Tsk. I asked you a question; Who are you?”

Carla laughed, wryly smiling towards Grievous as he pushed past the circling guards and entered into the circle facing directly opposite Carla.

“You can call me Carla..” she taunted.

“Do you have a last name Carla?” Grievous calmly retorted

“I do. But you gotta earn that...”

Grievous smiled. He clearly thought he had the upper hand.

“You're here with Ruby Doom aren't you Carla.”

“Yes and no.” she replied, “I came here with her... But she's got her own business in New Mesa and I have mine...”

“Is that so?” Grievous asked, “And what is your objective here...?”

“Well I wanted to meet you...” Carla replied, trailing a hand across her breasts, in turn taunting Grievous again.

It was apparent Grievous had grown tired of the simple conversation and suddenly he held a gun outwards at Carla. Carla felt the butt of her revolver and her fingers squeezed gently on the handle as she pulled it upwards herself to face Grievous in an apparent duel.

“It takes more than a gun to get me...” Carla purred.

“I'm afraid it won't” Grievous said as he smiled coldly.

Just as Grievous was about to fire his gun a second hailstorm on the now almost eerily quiet Town Square fired down onto the soldiers circling Grievous and Carla. Grievous looked up to the rooftops and saw the guards that he had had stationed were now falling dead to the ground, being replaced by a gang of pirates.

“You need to step up your security Grievous Wylde...” Carla laughed

Carla was cut short however when suddenly a full on gun battle was waged as more Fed soldiers appeared. Carla barely had time to maneuver out of the way as Grievous thrust a sword forward. Carla managed to step to the side and swing her knee upwards winding Grievous, collapsing him to the ground.

“You see Grievous, I have a message for you from the Flats... Fuck off.”

Grievous got his feet and this time opted to fist fight with Carla. The woman didn't have time to back away as Grievous swung hard into the side of her face, sending Carla stumbling backwards, holding her cheek.

“You Flatlanders are arrogant little maggots.” Grievous muttered as he approached Carla again.

Carla was prepared this time and stepped back avoiding another hit. She brought her right leg upwards into a kick but Grievous was ready and grabbed it, halting Carla in her place. The woman pulled her leg back, but Grievous had a tight grip and pulled Carla in close and with his free hand connected with her chest using an open palm.

Carla fell to her arse and barely had anytime to move as Grievous went to bring a foot down on her head. Carla managed to avoid a skull-crushing and swung her leg around on the ground toppling Grievous this time. She rolled over onto his chest and gave a quick one-two punch to his face, slamming Grievous' head into the ground.

“Like I said Grievous... Fuck off back to the peaks and I'll let you live...”

“I'll rip your heart form your ribcage” he retorted.

Grievous bucked upwards and Carla rolled across the and stumbled to her feet. She managed to turn around in time to see Greivous aiming his gun at her. Grievous shot without hesitation this time and Carla felt the full thud as a bullet hit her square in the chest. The woman stumbled for a moment as the gun war around her and Wylde continued. No one else seemed to notice what had just happened and Carla grabbed her chest as she waited for a quick death to take her.

Grievous closed the distance between himself and Carla and swiftly kicked the woman to the chest knocking her to the ground. He stood over her body and grinned coldly as he looked her in the eyes.

“Don't ever tell me what to do.”

Grievous turned away and moved swiftly into a nearby building leaving Carla to come to terms with what was happening. As a few moments passed Carla gripped her chest, wheezing heavily as the wind returned to her body. She rolled to her side and looked down to her hands, expecting to see them covered in blood. Instead, what Carla saw puzzled her beyond belief. Grievous hadn't shot her with a bullet intended for killing.

Carla was covered in some sort of luminescent powder that irradiated a strong glow under the artificial light. What the hell had Grievous done. At first Carla thought it must have been poisonous but after a few moments and not having dies she wondered what its purpose was. It was soon apparent though as a shitstorm of bullets rocketed the square around Carla as the monstrous Leviathan hailed it's gateling gun towards the earth.

Carla soon realised she had been tagged by Grievous for a killing much worse than a simple bullet. Apparently the luminescent powder was an indicator as to what the gun should be aimed at. The bullets were ripping apart the Town Square and soon Carla found herself removing as much of her affected clothing as possible.

It appeared the Fed's that had been fighting with Carla's men had scrambled when the Gatling had started to downpour. Carla looked to her men and shouted out to them,

“get back to your ships! Get outta here!”

Carla started to move from the square as quickly as possible as she managed to somehow avoid being shredded. She managed to move through the gate the POW's had been sifted through and with a quick dispatch of a guard, now found herself holed up with the survivors of the massacre.

The Narrow Escape from New Mesa

As the rattling noise of the Levithan coupled with the blaring lights of the Internment Camp ships filled the small square, Ruby had to think quick as she realised she may not be leaving with Carla. The first ship docked and all the POW's seemed to move away in fear. As a Fed soldier lowered the doors for the docking bay of the Airship Ruby withdrew Coleman and shot out across the crowd dispatching him swiftly. Some people cried out in horror as the soldier fell to the ground, but the chaos being caused in the square was more than enough to distract most of everyone.

Ruby motioned Farts and Bounder to follow her as she moved towards the Interment ship, instructing them to get on as Carla suddenly appeared from nowhere.

“Fuck yes! You got us a way out!”

Ruby turned to see Carla, a small sigh of relief escaping her lips,

“We need to get all these people out!” Ruby shouted over the still hailing Levithan.

“Fuck no.. I'm sorry Ruby, but shit has hit the fan! My men'll be lucky to get outta here!”

“What?” Ruby said baffled,

“I'll tell you later! We gotta go!”

“Not without getting everyone out!”

Carla looked to Ruby, their gaze locking again. This time Carla conceded defeat.

“Fine! What do you want to do!”

“You get as many on this ship and I'll get the rest onto some others...”

As Carla took control of the ship Ruby had managed to secure, Ruby told Farts and Bounder to stay put. The kids however wouldn't listen and soon Ruby found herself accompanied by two kids as Carla set about getting the first Interment ship into the air and out of New Mesa.

Carla it seemed, at least from the ground, had managed to get the first one hundred POW's piled into the airship. It was slow going, but at least the ship managed to avoid the Levithan's wrath because of it's Fed markings. Ruby had managed to commandeer two more Internment ships. She'd found someone prepared to pilot one all the way to Skycove and she had taken control of the second one.

Ruby successfully made it away from New Mesa with Farts and Bounder and around fifty other survivors. The same couldn't be said for the three out of four airships Carla had apparently had come into New Mesa. Three of Carla's ships had similarly been plastered with the targeting powder and the Levithan had dispatched them quickly. It was only thanks to the scheduled removal of the POW's that Carla and Ruby had managed to escape unharmed.

For a few hours Ruby had trailed Carla's surviving pirate airship. She herself hadn't spoken to Carla since she'd sent her away on the fist internment ship. But what Ruby did notice that whatever Carla had had her men in New Mesa for, they'd at least succeeded. From her ship Ruby could see that the men had gathered some from New Mesa...

Ruby had had to admit that Carla had been asset to her latest mission.. But still there was something about the pirate leader that left more questions that answers.

The Confession of Puck and the Trial and Verdict of Jenner Reese

Ruby had had to get of the internment ship with Farts and Bounder halfway between the Workshop and Skycove. She'd sent the ship back there, hopefully sending James a few more recruits. When Ruby had made it back to the Workshop with Farts and Bounder the three of them were greeted by a relieved looking Puck and confused Miss Reese.

It hadn't been something Ruby wanted to do. But the entire mission had left Ruby feeling that some sort of debt, at the very least was owed by Puck. She had taken to explaining the whole situation herself to Miss Reese with Puck and his friends in the room. Ruby explained she wasn't necessarily forgiving of Puck, but acknowledged that he was just boy.

At first Puck pleaded with Ruby not to inform Jenner why his friends were now at the White Group, but Ruby's conscious was stronger than the feelings of a boy's embarrassment at that stage.

“You wanted to play the game as a man Puck” she sternly told him,
“You need to pay the price of a man's wager.”

Ruby had just hoped that Jenner could see sympathy somewhere for Puck.. Because honestly, Ruby wasn't sure she had any left after what she had experienced. And the thought of what was she'd seen at New Mesa left a giant gaping pit inside of her thinking about what James Costner must be going through.