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Max_Writer

Aftermath!: SURVIVE!

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

(After playing the introductory Aftermath! scenario “SURVIVE!” with Kyle Matheson, Logan Scott, Bo Lewis, Nissa Campbell, and John Forney Sunday, May 18, 2014 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.)

The War had been 20 years before, at the turn of the 20th century. It had consisted of a combination of nuclear, biological, and conventional war that had first strained all of the countries of the world before it had cracked and then broken civilization as a whole. Nuclear strikes and biological contamination had turned the cities into hellholes of radiation and viral poisoning. But after 20 years, travelers had come through who reported that it was possible to trespass in the cities and survive, though hostile mutants, diseased bandit tribes, and the still-lethal pollutants made it risky.

Five people came together in the ruins of the aftermath of the war. Five people met just as their food supplies were running low. Five people decided that being together would be safer than being alone.

Everybody knew Billy Tommynocker as “Old Bill” as he was one of the oldest survivors of the War. He was practically a folk legend to other survivors. He was 58 years old and remembered well the time before the War. He had a beard and wore an eye patch over his right eye, his graying hair shoulder length. He wore a dusty cowboy hat and a duster. He had been a scientist but the War had put an end to any hope of a career other than simple survival. He had a bolt action rifle and carried a .38 pistol, having a handful of bullets for each. He also wore suit of bronze armor that covered him from his elbows to his thighs. He had only survived after the war by scavenging off everyone he’d been with. When they died, he took everything they had and used it to barter. That was how he got the bronze armor.

Quequog was the opposite of Old Bill. He was only 21 years old with bronze skin and dark brown hair. He carried a blowgun and a linked chain, wearing hide armor over his shirt and a steel-plated codpiece. He only knew the tribal life but had reached that age where he had to go out and become a man. He had left his tribe for the first time. A child of the aftermath, he was skilled in the ways of the plants and animals. The oldest members of his tribe were only a little older than he.

Chuck Ryder was also only a little older than Quequog, being 29. He had short black hair, slicked back with animal fat, and had a little goatee. Painfully thin, he frowned often, trying to look tough. That was when people could see his face, of course. He wore a steel helmet with a steel mask welded onto the front of it, a leather protective collar around his neck, a piece of steel over his heart, and a steel codpiece. He carried a nunchaku. The others didn’t know that he was very surprisingly handsome under the mask. He was in search of the mysterious bicycle that he’d learned of from his mother, who had named him for the bike. When his unknown father left, so many years ago, he’d stolen the bike from him mother. He was on a quest to find another.

Zenna from the High Mountain was a woman of 36 years. She was of very plain appearance with mousy brown hair and eyes. She wore leather armor over her clothes, and she carried a bow and had nine arrows for it. Though it was not of any quality, she used it to survive. She was very young when the War happened and was separated from her family, wandering into the forest. She learned to hunt and fend for herself to survive. She fell from a tree one day and broke her leg, the bone breaking through the skin. A few days after that, other survivors found her and took her to a facility that was untouched by the War. They were medical personnel and they taught her how to tend to the sick and the injured. Then she did something terrible and had to leave that group of people. She went to find something to redeem herself.

George Headric was an average-looking man as well and was 46 years old. He wore a leather shirt and a leather helmet, with his left arm covered in steel, and he was armed with a colt .45 revolver and a few bullets. He had been an accountant and a recreational craftsman as a hobby before the War. He had worked leather and welded as well as other things. He used his skills to trade for goods in the aftermath of the War.

Old Bill had heard of Headric before as there was always talk of who had survived the longest and who could work leather and the like. Though Old Bill was a jack of all trades, Headric was known as a skilled craftsman. They had all heard of Old Bill, as he had lived forever, some said.

It was spring when they fell in together in an attempt to survive. A small, ruined city was near where they found themselves, and they knew that Lefty’s Trading Post and Flophouse was in the area. It was a place where one could sometimes sleep and find food and drink.

While Zenna headed into the woods to hunt for meat, Quequog went in search of roots and berries. Old Bill, Chuck Ryder, and Headric went to the ruins of the nearby city to scavenge for food and supplies. Old Bill searched the nearby industrial part of town while Headric and Chuck Ryder searched the houses in the area. After several hours, Chuck Ryder found several cans of beans which he tucked away. He guessed that it was enough to last him for a couple of days. He also found a large tool box filled with tools that were all in very good condition. Old Bill found the rusted remains of a bicycle that was probably completely unsalvageable. Though the metal was ruined and rusted, he picked up what was left of the bike, barely the frame, and took it with him.

Quequog did not found any edible plants in that time.

Zenna hunted and killed a deer with an arrow in the eye. She spent the rest of the day butchering the dead animal, draining its blood and beginning to cure the hide. It was enough meat to last them for a long time, plus plenty of deer skin to carry it. She guessed there was enough meat there to feed all five of them for two days.

It was getting late in the day by then. Quequog crept back towards the town.

* * *

In the gathering gloom, Chuck Ryder crept into the forest in the direction he thought Quequog had gone when they had separated at the beginning of the day, hoping to sneak up behind the man and frighten him. He crept up to the man.

“Bike!” he shouted.

The man in front of him swung around and screamed. It was not Quequog. He was of average height and wore a leather vest. He had a snub-nosed pistol in his hand and a rucksack on his shoulder.

As the gun came around to point at him, Chuck Ryder swung his nunchaku backhanded, striking the man in his right shoulder. There was a snap and the man screamed though he did not fall down. He fired at Chuck Ryder but missed him and Chuck Ryder struck him in the right shoulder again.

“Put the gun down!” he screamed at the man.

The other man looked terrified.

* * *

The others heard the gunshot and started heading towards where they thought they came from.

* * *

The man still tried to bring the shaking gun around.

Chuck Ryder held out the nunchaku and dropped them to the ground. The man tried to shoot him again but, with the injured arm and shaking hand, missed him completely. He backed away from Chuck Ryder, who suddenly sat down. Then he pointed to the nunchaku.

* * *

Zenna spotted Chuck Ryder and a gun-wielding stranger in the woods. Headric came out of a nearby house, gun in hand, and also saw the two. Old Bill also spotted the two. He raised his rifle to his shoulder and fired at the stranger. The bullet struck the man in the upper right leg and the man dropped to the ground without a sound.

Old Bill walked over to the two as Chuck Ryder stood up, picking up the nunchaku. Old Bill pointed back to where he dropped the remains of the bicycle.

“Bike,” he said.

Chuck Ryder ran to where he had pointed.

Old Bill found that the man he’d shot was not dead, only unconscious. He picked up the little snub-nose .38 as Zenna arrived on the scene. Old Bill motioned to the prone man on the ground and Zenna knelt by him and tried to administer some first aid as Old Bill helped. They found that his shoulder was badly bruised while the bullet had passed directly through the man’s leg.

Chuck Ryder returned with the slimy, rusted remains of the bicycle. There was very little to scavenge from it. Headric also arrived as they tended to the injured stranger. They found he had a few items of value in a satchel, including a couple cans of beans that he had probably foraged from the area. He didn’t look familiar: no one recognized him.

“We should take him to the flophouse,” Old Bill said.

“Is anyone around?” Quequog called from nearby.

“Quequog! Over here!” Old Bill called.

Quequog stumbled out of the woods. He’d been terribly lost and was unnerved.

“Hey guys,” he said. “Who the hell is that?”

“What did you find?” Chuck Ryder asked as he took apart the ruined bicycle.

“I didn’t find shit,” Quequog said. “Who the hell is this guy?”

“Quequog,” Old Bill said.

“I don’t know,” Chuck Ryder said. “This guy shot him.”

“Help me carry him to the flophouse,” Old Bill said.

“Okay,” Quequog said, grabbing the man’s legs.

Chuck Ryder was only able to get a couple of nuts and bolts from the ruined bicycle, but they might come in handy in the future when he found a more intact vehicle.

“What is a bike?” Quequog asked. “Quequog does not know.”

“This is exactly what a bike is,” Chuck Ryder said, gesturing at the broken piece of metal. “This is exactly what it is. I want you to have this.”

“How do you use this?” Quequog asked.

Old Bill picked up the shoulders of the man and they headed out.

Chuck Ryder aggressively demanded of Old Bill where he’d found the bike.

“I’ll tell you later,” Old Bill replied.

“You better tell me now,” Chuck Ryder said, holding his nunchaku near the unconscious man’s head. “I’ll finish him off.”

“I need someone to help me carry this meat,” Zenna said.

Zenna ran to get the deer meat that she’d recovered with Headric and they got all of the meat.

“I’m too pretty to carry this deer,” Chuck Ryder said. “I need to find out about this bike.”

“I’ll help you find a bike if you help me carry this deer,” Zenna said.

“Done,” Chuck Ryder said.

* * *

It took them the better part of an hour to get to Lefty’s Trading Post and Flophouse. The place was near one of the roads and under the ruins of a building. The upper stories were gone but the basement was still sound. It was a place that people who traveled would use to stay for the night and was safe shelter. All firearms and explosives had to be left at the door where they were kept safely unless the owner did some damage to Lefty’s place. Both Old Bill and Headric had been there before.

They brought the unconscious man down the steps to the gun check room and checked their firearms.

“We have a situation!” Old Bill called.

“When don’t we?” Lefty replied, walking out to the gun check room.

He was a large solid man who was probably in his late 40s. He carried a large trench knife on his belt and wore a vest.

“I had to shoot this man,” Old Bill said.

“We don’t trade that kind of meat here,” Lefty said.

“He’s still alive,” Zenna said.

“Times are tough, Lefty,” Old Bill said.

“Not that tough,” Lefty said.

“Do you have a charity pot for an injured man?” Zenna asked. “Until he can at least regain consciousness.”

“He’s gonna have to pay,” Lefty said. “Hold on. We’re gonna need something in payment.”

“How about two matches?” Zenna said.

“Two matches?”

“Two fires.”

“What else ya got, c’mon.”

She looked through the satchel.

“Let me see,” Lefty said. “Let me see.”

He searched through the pack and took out the compass there.

“God, I’m turning into a charity case,” he muttered. “Yeah, take him back there. C’mon. I’ll show you where.”

They took the unconscious man back to the back where there were cots in niches created by various room dividers and office cubicles.

“That’ll get him a night in a cot,” Lefty said. “That’s it.”

“Two nights, please,” Zenna said. “I’ll throw in a match.”

“A match ain’t gonna get you nothing!” Left replied.

Lefty grabbed the entire satchel and stomped away.

Old Bill sat at the bar while the others took a table across the room. Zenna looked around for a fire to cook the meat over and then ended up bartering some of the meat for Lefty and his people to cook the rest.

“Sorry for bringing trouble into your bar, Lefty,” Old Bill said to the man as he climbed back behind the counter. “You know I don’t like to do that but … ever since I grouped up with these, I’ve been having some trouble.”

Chuck Ryder walked up.

“You ever seen a bike?” he said to Lefty.

“Yeah, I’ve seen bikes,” Lefty said. “Have YOU ever seen a bike?”

The young man looked at him.

“Maybe,” he said uncertainly.

Lefty looked him up and down.

“Take that mask off,” he said. “Let me see your face.”

“I challenge you to a dice game!” Chuck Ryder said.

“What?” Lefty said.

“If I win, you tell me everything you know about bikes,” Chuck Ryder said.

Old Bill shook his head and looked at Lefty.

“See what I’m dealing with here?” he said.

“You’re still taking the mask off and then maybe we’ll talk,” Lefty said to Chuck Ryder.

“You win the dice game and I’ll take the mask off,” Chuck Ryder replied.

“Or I could just kick you out and you can spend the night in the dark!” Lefty said.

Chuck Ryder quickly took the mask off.

The two men sat at the bar and played some dice. As they did so, Quequog walked up.

“Can you tell me about this town, Lefty was it?” he asked.

“Get out of here, kid,” Chuck Ryder said.

“The town?” Lefty said, throwing the dice. “I don’t know. I don’t remember what it’s called. It had a name once upon a time.”

“Everything used to have a name?” Quequog said.

“Yeah, it did,” Lefty replied. “I was pretty young when it all went down.”

Meanwhile, Zenna and Headric talked about using the deerskin to make a hammock.

Neither Lefty nor Chuck Ryder did very well with the dice. It didn’t help that neither of them knew many dice games.

“Tell me what you know about bikes!” Chuck Ryder said.

“I don’t know about any bikes around here, man,” Lefty said.

“None?”

Lefty shook his head.

“There was a guy, came through,” Lefty said. “He was on a bicycle.”

“Where’d he go?” Chuck Ryder asked. “Did he mention where he got it?”

“I don’t know,” Lefty said. “He said he was just passing through. He was wearing some kind of uniform.”

“Not too much armor?” Chuck Ryder said.

“I don’t think so.”

“All right.”

“And he was carrying a package. He tried to barter off all this old damned mail that he had for a place to stay. So we took it. Some of it. It was all these old letters or something. He said he found the bike in a post office.”

“Post office. Really?”

“Yeah, post office.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s little building where you used to go to send mail.”

“What’s that?”

“What is mail?” Quequog asked.

“Like letters,” Lefty said.

“What’s that?” Chuck Ryder said.

“Oh my God,” Lefty said.

“They’re post-ruin, Lefty,” Old Bill said. “They don’t understand.”

Lefty cleared his throat.

“All right, you could write down something … you know what paper is, right?” he said.

“Right,” Chuck Ryder said.

“I don’t know what paper is,” Quequog said.

“Like right hand?” Chuck Ryder said.

“It’s like sending a message,” Lefty said. “It’s sending a message. They send a message, right?”

“Oh, like smoke signals,” Quequog said.

“Like smoke signals,” Lefty said.

“What are smoke signals?” Chuck Ryder said.

“But what if you could take a smoke signal …” Lefty said.

He looked around and then picked up a cloth that he’d been wiping the bar with.

“What if you could take a smoke signal and put it on this?” he said.

“Impossible, I say!” Quequog said.

“No, no, look,” Lefty said. Then to himself. “Son of a *****.”

“Show me.”

Lefty went to the little fire to one side and got some ashes. He drew a picture on the cloth.

“So, what if you did this,” Lefty said. “And this is a message. What if this means ‘The enemy’s coming’? What if it means that? But you need to get it to your friend and he lives all … like five days travel?”

“So, you light a fire,” Quequog said.

“No no no no no,” Lefty said. “He’s too far away to see the fire. So you take this and you fold it up and you give it to the postman and he will take it to these other people.”

“I see.”

“That’s what mail is.”

Lefty put his hand to his forehead.

“Oh my God, Bill!” he said.

Old Bill shrugged.

“Can you do that but with a bike on it?” Chuck Ryder asked.

“What?” Lefty said.

“Can you do that with a letter and put a bike on it?”

“You could.”

“Could you put the information about bikes on a piece of paper?”

“Can you even read, boy?”

“What’s that?”

“Didn’t think so.”

“All right.”

“Look, I don’t remember which way he was heading. I don’t even know where he was going. I didn’t see him leave. He just stopped by for the night. He brought it in with him, took it into his room.”

“Which room?”

“I don’t know. One of the cots in the back. He just brought it in. He said it was his means of transport.”

“Means of transport.”

“He said it was a lot better than … do even know what a bike is?”

“I’ve heard stories.”

“Why don’t you just ride elk?” Quequog asked.

“You got one?” Chuck Ryder asked.

“No, but I can,” Quequog said.

“It’s got two wheels,” Lefty said.

“What’s a wheel?” Chuck Ryder asked.

“You …” Lefty turned to Old Bill. “You ever ridden a bike? You rode a bike, Bill, when you were a kid.”

Old Bill sighed.

“You had a bike?” Chuck Ryder said to Old Bill.

“Yes, I had a bike,” Old Bill said. He sounded tired.

“Where did you get it?” Chuck Ryder asked.

“What did you feed it?” Quequog asked.

“I can’t do this much more, Lefty,” Old Bill said.

“Yo,” Chuck Ryder said to Quequog. “Let’s kill him and get his bike.”

“We just got to hang on,” Lefty said to Old Bill. “Sooner or later, somebody’s going to put it back together. We got this place. This place is solid. People are civilized here. Remember no brawling or you gotta pay. Act in a civilized manner.”

Zenna gave Lefty some deer meat for a place to stay that night and for the letters. She missed reading and wanted to read something.

“Uh … lemme see if we got any left,” Lefty said. “We use it for kindling.”

Zenna moaned.

“What!?!” she cried out.

He went to see if there was any letters left but found they had all been used up. She was upset but also asked for Lefty to cook the organ meat, which she had bartered with Headric in exchange for his treating the deerskin and fashioning it into a hammock.

“The heart is where the power is!” Quequog said.

“I need that,” Chuck Ryder said.

The food was cooked and all of them but Old Bill sat down at a table.

“What are you giving me for this food I’m giving y’all,” Zenna asked them.

Quequog looked through his things. Chuck Ryder offered two bandages which Zenna took.

“And you get me a drink,” he said.

“No,” she replied.

He pressed his lips tight and then put his hand on his nunchaku. She took an arrow out of her quiver.

“Can I give you two matches for that heart?” Quequog asked.

“I’m sorry, the heart is taken,” she replied.

“Where did the heart go?” he asked.

“The heart’s for me, bro,” Headric said.

“Damn, I wanted the heart,” Quequog said.

“Two matches?” Chuck Ryder said.

“I’ll give you a foot for two matches,” Zenna said.

“There is no power in the foot!” Quequog said.

“There is a great strength in the feet.”

“Is there lung left?”

“Yeah, I still have the lungs.”

“There is some power in the lungs.”

He gave her two matches.

“Can I have the bones?” Chuck Ryder said.

Quequog looked around for the fire but saw that there was only a little fire behind the bar. He asked Lefty if he could cook the lungs over the fire.

“The what?” Lefty said.

“The lungs,” Quequog said. “There is some power in the lungs.”

“Fine!”

Zenna and Chuck Ryder talked about the bones, with the woman wanting some arrowheads out of them but giving him the rest. Quequog returned with the lungs and ate them. They did not taste very good. Zenna went back to check on the man they’d assaulted and found him still unconscious.

Others came in for drinks or food or to spend the night. A group of tough-looking customers arrived and looked around. Chuck Ryder immediately picked up his nunchaku and started spinning them while glaring at the men. One of them nudged the other and they walked over. There were six or seven of them total. Quequog took notice.

“This is our table, you scum are slobbering on!” one of the strangers opened the conversation.

“I don’t see your designation on it,” Quequog said.

One of them looked at the other.

“What!?!” he said.

“Your title,” Quequog said. “I don’t see your title.”

“It’s right there!”

“Where?”

“It’s right there!”

“Where?”

The man walked over and stood over Quequog.

“Right there!” he pointed down onto the table in front of Quequog. “Can’t you see it?”

Quequog looked at the spot.

“Look closer!” the man said. “Look closer!”

When Quequog leaned closer to the table, the man slammed his head down on it.

“Can you see it now you son of a *****!?!” he yelled.

Quequog leapt up from his seat.

“Hey!” Zenna shouted.

“You!” Quequog said.

He shoved the man away from him. The man stumbled back.

This is where he’s going to earn his manhood, Old Bill thought. This is where it’s going to happen.

Chuck Ryder quickly donned his helmet and mask. Headric stood up and stepped away. He wanted a peaceful evening without hooligans to deal with.

Old Bill motioned for Lefty to watch the fight and then signaled he wanted another drink. He was ready to watch Quequog become a man. He figured he’d step in if it went bad for his companions.

One of the strangers came at Quequog and the man dodged his blow. Another attacked Chuck Ryder but he missed the young man as well. Two of them rushed Zenna as she dropped and crawled under the table. They pounded on the woman, one of them striking her in the upper arm, one of the few places on her body not covered by leather. Quequog also swung at his assailant without striking the man.

Chuck Ryder swung his nunchaku at the man he faced with all confidence but the other man ducked under the blow. Chuck Ryder couldn’t believe he’d missed. He never missed.

Zenna crawled under the table as the men shoved chairs out of the way to better get at her. Headric backed away.

“Hey! That guys getting away!” one of the men yelled, pointing at him.

“Get that guy!” another yelled.

“Hey, old guy! You ain’t goin’ nowhere!” Yet a third yelled.

“I hate that guy!” someone cried. “I hate that guy more than anything!”

Two of the men headed towards Headric.

Some of the other patrons started throwing peanut shells at the combatants.

“Yeah, beat each other up!” one yelled.

“‘Bout time for a show!” another called.

“Hey, I’m not with these guys!” Headric yelled. “I’m just a craftsman! I don’t know what these guys are talking about!”

When I finish with these guys, I’m beating his ass, Chuck Ryder thought.

Then he struck his assailant in the lower abdomen, trying not to kill the man. Quequog was beating on one of the men and struck him a glancing blow on the hip. Zenna tried to use a leg sweep to knock her pursuers down but both men stepped back. Two men were still heading for Headric. Chuck Ryder struck one of his assailants in the crotch but the blow was so weak that the man just laughed.

“What was that? You trying to kiss me?” he said.

Quequog struck the man facing him on top of his head but he did not fall. Headric was finding himself with two men coming at him. He swung at one man but missed him completely. He kept falling back.

“Bill!” Zenna said. “Help!”

Old Bill started walking over towards the fight. Other fights were breaking out in the bar as well.

One of the men attacking Chuck Ryder hit him on the left arm. Quequog struck one of his assailants in the hand.

“There’s no armor there, punk!” he said.

“Ah, you son of a *****!” the man yelled. “Who hits somebody in the hand!?!”

“That’s how you become a man!”

“**** you!”

Chuck Ryder struck his opponent in the throat with his nunchaku. The man stumbled back, choking. The he struck the man on the left knee with the weapon. Zenna, meanwhile, crawled out from under the table.

“*****, get back here!” one of them yelled at her.

As she stood up, she lifted her side of the table and overturned it onto the two men who screamed at her. Old Bill had arrived by then and struck one of the men under the table on the lower calf with his fists. Zenna grabbed one of the glasses from the table and flung it, hitting one of the men who were pressing Headric a few feet away. It struck the man in the knee.

“Who’s throwing glass!?!” the man screamed.

Headric punched the man in the gut.

“What, a fly hit me?” the man said with a guffaw, thinking he was making a joke.

Chuck Ryder struck his opponent in the leg again. The man swooned and passed out.

“You son of a *****!” the man’s friend screamed as he came at Chuck Ryder.

One of the thugs struck Quequog in the shoulder with his fist. Another punched Chuck Ryder in the upper leg. Zenna moved around the fight, trying to get away from the man still after her. Old Bill struck his opponent in the hand with a quick jab and Quequog struck his opponent in the chest. Chuck Ryder slammed the man he now faced in the knee, just like his buddy.

The man chasing Zenna yelled profanities at her.

Old Bill punched the man in the chest without much effect. Chuck Ryder whacked his assailant in the head with his nunchaku but barely harmed him. Zenna leapt onto the man that was fighting Quequog and tried to loop a bandage around his neck without any luck.

Headric struck one of his assailants in the chest without seeming to harm him at all while Old Bill kicked a man in the feet. Quequog struck his assailant in the face but it was only a glancing blow. Chuck Ryder struck his opponent in the lower arm but it was a weak blow. One of the men struck Old Bill in the gut. The man’s fist connected with the bronze armor he was wearing, however, and he screamed.

“Get out of my face!” Bill shouted at him.

Someone punched Quequog in the chest. There was a crack from the man’s hand and he screamed as several bones broke. He swooned and fell to the ground, unconscious from the pain.

Headric struck the man he faced in the chest and he stumbled back, dazed. Old Bill continued kicking his opponent in the boots.

“Get off my legs, you son of a *****!” the man yelled.

Quequog turned and laid into one of the men who had been brawling with Headric, beating him about the upper shoulders. The man screamed as his right arm suddenly went dead and just hung there.

“What did you do to me?” the man screamed.

“Wouldn’t you like to know!” Quequog screamed back.

Chuck Ryder slammed his nunchaku into another man’s throat.

“AH!” the man screeched roughly. “You son of a *****!”

Old Bill punched his opponent in the side. Zenna fled from one of the men and went under another table. He pursued and she managed to flip the table over onto him, the table landing on his upper arms. The man screamed.

“You stay under there, you *****!” she said.

Chuck Ryder beat on the man who faced him in the chest without much effect.

The man with the dead arm fled as Headric punched the other man in the upper chest without effect. Quequog moved towards the man as well. As the man tried to punch Headric, Quequog struck him in the hands. Chuck Ryder, meanwhile, struck another man in the face with his nunchaku. Zenna was kicking the man under the table, trying to hit him in the crotch but striking his upper thighs.

“Get off me!” he screamed. “Get off me!”

One of the men kicked Chuck Ryder in the feet without effect.

“Get away!” the man screamed.

The man who was still after Zenna shoved the table off himself and got to his feet. Chuck Ryder struck his opponent in the gut with his nunchaku. The man fell to the floor as Zenna fled her opponent and ducked under another table.

“Let’s get out of here!” one of the men yelled.

The conscious men fled the bar, leaving their unconscious companions behind. The group started to loot them. Then Lefty took a shotgun out from behind the bar.

“Just bring it over here, boys,” he called. “That’ll pay for the damages.”

It seemed fair enough to them.

“Chuck Ryder,” Old Bill said. “You remind me of this girl I met 30 years ago who also had a nunchaku, that I made love to and then left. The only thing I left her was the picture of a bike.”

Chuck Ryder’s eyes went wide and his mouth dropped open. Under his mask, he whispered “Daddy.”

They looted the bodies and found only cudgels and knives on the men. Old Bill tried to stash a knife but Lefty noticed and called him on it.

“Stop trying to steal that knife, Bill,” Chuck Ryder said as he slipped a knife into his pocket, unseen.

The others gave him the cudgels and knives. Lefty let them keep the cudgels. He didn’t want them. He had some of his men throw the unconscious men outside.

Chuck Ryder walked over to Old Bill and then suddenly struck the man, hitting him in the right hand with his nunchaku. Old Bill let out a shout.

“My hands!” he yelled.

Chuck Ryder dropped the nunchaku and walked away.

Quequog pulled out his chain and swung it at Chuck Ryder, trying to lasso him. Headric backed away, not wanting to get involved. Chuck Ryder leapt for his nunchaku and struck Quequog in the right elbow.

“Who else wants some of this!?!” Chuck Ryder said.

Old Bill lunged at Chuck Ryder and punched him in the hip.

This family line ends here, he thought.

Quequog swung his chain and tried to strike Chuck Ryder again but the man ducked to one side and then struck him in the upper legs. Quequog fell to the ground, unconscious.

“Son,” Old Bill said to Chuck Ryder.

The other man looked at him.

“Let’s rob this fool,” Old Bill said. “Also, I know where a bike is.”

“Daddy!” Chuck Ryder said.

They hugged.

They robbed him of his few, meager possessions. Chuck Ryder got the blowgun. Old Bill cut off a lock of Quequog’s hair to remember him by. Zenna took the chain, secreting it away on her person, while Old Bill took some ash from the fire and wrote on Quequog’s chest “You became a man.” Chuck Ryder tried to make a little picture of a bike on his forehead.

Old Bill headed for the door.

“Daddy, don’t leave,” Chuck Ryder said.

“I must leave you again,” Old Bill replied.

“Don’t leave,” Chuck Ryder said, drawing his nunchaku and swinging it.

“There’s a bike over there,” Old Bill said, pointing back in the corner.

He fled while Chuck Ryder looked for the bike he so desperately wanted.

Zenna went back to check on the man Chuck Ryder had knocked out. Some of the men in the bar dragged Quequog back to the back and put him in a cot. Zenna asked Lefty to put him in the same room with the other guy and Lefty was obliging.

“I sure do miss being able to break into my mom’s liquor cabinet at this point,” she said as she watched over the two men.

* * *

Quequog woke up the next day and saw that something had been scrawled across his chest. Unfortunately, he couldn’t read. He asked Lefty what it said on his chest.

“It says you’re a man,” Lefty told him.

“I can return to my people!” Quequog said.

* * *

Zenna of the High Mountain had found a bike chain to replace her people’s only bike chain, which she had broken and, in her shame, left them to find another. She could finally return home.

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