Branbury huffed as she stared at her last bill. The landlord had seen it fit to increase the rent on the apartment complex again. At this rate, it would be no surprise to herself if she locked the guy in a room and started, ‘encouraging,’ him to reconsider trying to squeeze her out of one of the only decent residential areas left in Sanborn. The city was a shithole, to put it plainly. The police did the bare minimum to keep the place from descending into total anarchy, but supposedly didn’t have the funding to do much more. The rest was left up to gangs that fed off of the support of the normals they at least tried to protect from rivals trying to hedge in on their territory. It probably would have given her enough money to live comfortably with less worries, but practically extorting the sods who wanted to keep some semblance of a normal life wasn’t her cup of tea. She preferred her job working as a bouncer. It was hard to get an independent fighter with the willpower to stand in one place for hours on end, so the pay was good. Just, not good enough. I suppose it’s time I took Geo’s advice. I need a roommate.
Branbury closed her eyes and sighed. Finding somebody who wouldn’t be hopelessly addicted to drugs and pawn off her stuff when she wasn’t looking would be hard to find. Mostly because the people in the city who were at least relatively responsible didn’t have to deal with such troubles. She would have to do the searching on her own or just hope word would travel about her apartment’s partial vacancy. She certainly couldn’t just give it up and go find somewhere else to live—she had too much stuff to keep around. Things that reminded her of life before she hit the age wall, useful gadgets, and so on. Her quality of life hinged upon keeping her home and the feeling of having the fact exploited made her furious. “Bah!” Branbury tossed the bill onto her kitchen table with the rest of her month’s paperwork. “I’ll take care of it in the morning,” she told herself and slipped into her jacket.
Sanborn itself wasn’t an entirely bad place to be. It dealt with the typical city issues, but at least the sun would occasionally peek through the clouds and the streets were generally pretty free of corpses. The dumpy fools who fought outside of The Ring had the decency to keep their arguments to the back alleys and side streets, where they were less likely to, ‘accidentally,’ tear an innocent bystander’s limb off—the gangs really weren’t interested in their profits suffering after their customers got tired of being knocked out by stray bullets. There were bums and panhandlers, asking for spare change to support their addictions and depending on the neighborhood, an inzombiac or two would be wandering. They were the people who decided that they didn’t need to sleep and found that, without the rest, their brains eventually turned to mush. They were harmless to anybody with an ounce of sense about them, but still the occasional annoyance.
Branbury made her way downtown along the skyways and turned up on the east side of Tourney Square and stepped into the weapon shop one of her friends ran.
“Well, if it isn’t Miss BB Sweethill—” a man begin to call out from behind the counter. His smile was hard to pick out beneath the balaclava he wore over his head.
“Don’t call me that, Geo. My name’s Branbury.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Geo rolled his eyes and leaned forward on his elbows with his hands clasped together. “What do you need here? Run out of whetstones already?” Branbury ran her fingers through her blond hair and hooked her fingers under one of her belts.
“No, not really. I was wondering if you knew of anybody looking for a room...and not another stupid parasite with a rhino fetish.” Geo had tried to get Branbury a date at one point. Needless to say, she only seemed attractive to a small group of people she wanted little to do with. Still, it was the thought that counted and Branbury couldn’t hold it against the man too much.
“No, nobody that I would know of is interested in sharing a few rooms with a giant.” Branbury was not amused. “But I do hear the train’s gonna be showing up at the station this evening. Maybe you should consider abducting one of those fresh-faced folk who just appeared and don’t know much ‘bout the world yet.” When Geo saw the look on Branbury’s face, he shrugged openly. “Hey, it’s just a suggestion!”
“I’ll have to think about it.”
"Actually." The young man in the corner of the shop spoke up. He turned, his hair was buzzed short, and his face clean shaven. He had eyes of obsidian. Black with flakes of red. He only stood a modest 5'10", and couldn't weigh more than 180lbs soaking wet. He pulled off a simple pair of fingerless leather gloves, and stuck a hand out. "I'm Blane, and I just moved into town. And frankly, living with a whole slew of people just isn't doing it for me." Apart from the gloves, his wardrobe consisted of a simple red button up shirt, black slacks, and black polished shoes. He had his brown coat draped over his arm.
"God. I'm sorry, I hope I'm not... Interrupting anything... I kind of tend to jump into conversations when they seem interesting." Next to his leg was a simple black bag, that seemed to be a bit too overstuffed. The bag looked like it had been in an oven for too long. Pieces of it were singed, dark black marks covered the majority of the poor luggage. It's once soft blue color was only visible in a few places.
“Hm?” Branbury turned around and found herself staring at the far wall. “Oh.” She angled her head down a bit to look Blane in the eye. “No, you’re not interrupting. Geo isn’t much worth talking to.” She pointed a devilish grin back at Geo, who, for his credit, took the insult in great stride.
“You say that now,” he grumbled, “But just you wait!”
“Anyway...Branbury Sweethill.” Branbury took Blane’s hand to shake it and involuntary wound up taking a quarter of his arm with it. Her almost seven foot stature towered over the kid like nothing else and her biceps were probably meatier than his thighs. “I like a kid who takes the initiative. The skyslums are a good way to get your shit stolen, so I don’t blame you for wanting out, but you’re gonna have to pay half the rent.”
“Speaking of the word, ‘pay...’” Geo began. Branbury’s eyes almost rolled back in her head. She twisted her body around to face him and held one of her hands out. He took the hint and quieted down, mumbling things about, ‘my store,’ and, ‘muh profits.’ He leaned against the counter on the small of his back, his bullet-proof vest’s ceramic plates absorbing most of the pressure.
“Anyway, if you need anything here, feel free to get it.” Branbury turned back to Blane and put her hands on her hips. “I’ll have some cash left over after I’ve paid this month’s bills, so I’ll lend you some money if you need it. It’s a pretty rough neighborhood all over and dying hurts, if you haven’t figured that out yet.”
Blane looked down at his arm being encased by her large hand. "Very nice to meet you, quite the grip you have there." He couldn't help but smile. Not many people actually made him second guess shaking hands with them. He turned and watched the two exchange their words for a second then reached into his pocket and pulled out a large roll of cash. "Do you want the first month up front?" He turned back and looked towards Geo. "Also, you wouldn't happen to have a few refills for an old Zippo lighter, would you?" He pulled the antique device out of his pocket, flipped it over his fingers out of habit, and handed it over to Geo.
He also turned around over his shoulder and pointed to a long combat dagger, one he had been staring at before he had put himself into their conversation. "And how much would you want for that? I can't quite go around unarmed, now can I..?" He said with a hint of laughter to his voice, all while smiling a big toothy grin. He pointed at his bag, then his smile turned down into a scowl. "Yeah. I got mugged walking up to the damn fiftieth floor of the slums, and ended up losing my bag." He looked down and smirked again whispering to himself, "Poor guys didn't run quite fast enough."
Last edited by TMilligan1105; 09-02-2013 at 12:03 AM.
Geo turned the old lighter over in his hands and his eyebrows rose a little. “Sheesh, where you come from, the stone age? I don’t carry lighter fluid, but I do have fuel for flamethrowers,” he said. The man dug under the counter for a few moments and surfaced with a bright red canister in one hand. “It’s almost the same thing right?” In the background, Branbury rolled her eyes. She pulled the dagger from its rack on the wall and held it by the hilt; her little finger missed the pommel and grasped at thin air.
“Geo. You sell these?” She asked, clearly confused by her friend’s inventory. For years, the shop had carried more and more ridiculous weapons, following the latest trends in stupidity. Chainsaws, flamethrowers, shotguns, flamethrowing chainsaw shotguns—a basic weapon seemed hardly the kind of thing Geo would keep around.
“Oh, that butter knife?” As Geo spoke, he fiddled with the Zippo in his hand and the canister in the other. He didn’t make much headway on either front: completely baffled by the lighter and too sweaty to work the safety cap on the container. “That’s been there since I first opened up shop. You just never saw it past that big ol’ horn between your eyes. Nobody bought it an’ it was still good, so I kinda let it sit there. I figured some chav woulda pinched it by now.” Geo paused and wetted his lips. His eyes shifted between the lighter and the canister for a few seconds. “Tell ya what, you just buy this can o’…somethin’ and you get to keep the steak knife! Ten big ones.”
Blane smiled at the man and handed him his money, "The stone age, maybe. But little things like these help with my awful nicotine habit." He pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, stuffed the lighter down into the box, and slid them back. He then picked up the the gas canister and set it down next to his foot, wiping his now wet palm on his pant leg, hopefully nonchalant enough.
Upon stretching back up from the ground he watched Branbury pick up the knife. "They're easier to conceal than one of those monsters." He said looking up towards a rather ridiculous looking assault rifle, which looked like it was equipped with a laser guided missile, and a slew of other attachments. Blane shook his head at it, and turned back toward Branbury, gesturing towards the knife, "That thing, with a little bit of love, should make quick work of some steel." Blane looked back over himself, checking his possessions one more time, regarding his new room mate, "No rush, but I'm ready when you are."
Branbury almost cackled when she saw Blane wipe his hand on his pant leg, but held her tongue when she thought to suggest Geo wear some gloves. She flipped the dagger in her hand, pinching her fingers on the flat of the blade before she handed it off to Blane. “I should get you settled in soon anyway—I work at Shady Dee’s every night except Mondays, so I don’t have much daylight.”
The trip across town was fairly uneventful.
The apartment complex spread out in a two-story building shaped vaguely like a horseshoe. It was also one of the few patches in the city to have any notable amount of vegetation. It was clearly a place that had no desire to accommodate those who couldn’t afford to live a pre-Happening life. Branbury’s apartment was modest as far as luxury spaces went in Sanborn. It had all the basics, including a bedroom separated from the living room—and a balcony, too.
“Well, here we are,” Branbury said, throwing her arms out. “The futon should still work, but I’ll have a real bed for you by the end of the night.” Branbury’s own, king size mattress in the other room made no difference. She had no plans to share it with anybody in the foreseeable future. “Like I said, I’ve got this month’s rent covered, since it’s pretty much due tomorrow. You can start paying your half next month, yada, yada. Here’s my spare key.” She took Blane’s hand, turned it over and dropped a rather foreboding skeleton key in his hand. “There’re some fruits and a couple steaks in the fridge and you can just kinda look through the kitchen to see what’s there. So, it’s nice meeting you, Blane. I’ll talk to you in the evening.”
Blane stuck the key into his pocket and set down his bag and canister of flammable fluid. "Actually. If you don't mind. I'd like to join you. I haven't had a good drink in a while. And I'm kind of itching to see the kind of people I'll be going up against around here." He set the knife in the waist of his pant, and covered it with his shirt. "I won't get in your way at work, you have my word." He flicked his lighter back and forth in between his fingers. A habit he developed from holding the thing too much.
Then he stopped and watched Branbury, "That is, if it's ok with you." He kept a smile on his face almost all the time it seemed. "I don't want to be a burden, but I still don't know much about this town." He checked and double checked to make sure his key was still where he put it in his pocket.
“Ah, it’s no big deal,” Branbury said as she stepped into her room and flopped into bed in her street clothes. “When you get to the bar, just let Decker know you’re a friend.” She at first appeared to have gone out like a light as soon as she had finished speaking, but quickly sat back up. “Oh, the club’s on main street, it opens at ten, and it’s off in the direction of that tower with the deck on top. You won’t miss it, trust me.”
--- With a name like Shady Dee’s, one would expect there to be much less neon lighting on the front face of the large building. Then again, in Sanborn, subtlety never sold well amongst even the upper class. Free of many—if not all—conventional health risks, the insides of clubs like Shady’s were locked in a permanent arms race to be draw more power and be even more overblown than the next. Most had at least one small power plant operating in the basement.
Out front, Branbury stood at the head of the line with her massive sword hooked onto the back of her jacket, arms crossed. She was there to be highly visible and establish the authority of her co worker handling the books. A giant, red monster wielding a sword longer than most people were tall made a great statement: none shall pass.
The line was a bit longer than he was used to waiting in, the neon lights filling the entire street with a pulsing dancing rainbow. Blane muttered to himself, "Sunglasses..." He settled himself into the line, checking to make sure his lighter was in its pocket, in the pack of cigarettes. He didn't smoke often, but a bar seemed to be the best place to do that.
Upon finally reaching the door, Blane shifted from one leg to the other and held out some cash towards Branbury. "Cover charge, right? I didn't feel like abusing the system and cutting the line." He looked at the impatient faces behind him, unphased. "You need anything to drink, before I get settled in there?" He eyed a particularly rough looking group of people sitting in the corner. Making sure they saw him look at them, he smiled at them. "I think I found where I'm going to sit."