Huh, guess it wasn’t a calendar from very long ago, then. It lost January, can’t tell which year.
South…west-ish? Um, it’s this little house, kind of near…hmm…there’s actually not much around here. A few miles, I guess, southeast-ish of Guano, farther west of Getaway.
Um… Alright, hang on, let me… Theo? Where’d you put the map?
//couple of minutes of static//
Sorry. We’re a little jumbled around here right now. It sounds like the best place for you is… I’ve got it marked.. Okay.
The best place sounds like Ivory, if I’m right it shouldn’t be more than a couple miles walk. Two at the most.
It’s…what day actually is it? I think I have the calendar for a few years ago, which is silly.
Well, even if it’s not the weekend, does anyone know a good place where I can go to forget that I live like this? Preferably within walking distance of where I am in Zone Four.
Hm.. Zone 4’s pretty big, that’s a lot of mileage. It all depends on where you are. Can you give me a landmark or somethinng? 2 used to be home turf, but I know my way around.
The surprise attack caused James to stumble backwards into the gathering crowd, who, to his surprise actually, kept him on his feet. He winced at the crack more-so than the pain…hardly felt it at all, really. One too many rounds in Vista’s homegrown fight ring had taught him to shoulder the pain of injury, and it taught him to match the blow given.
But with the ringing in his ears cancelling out every sound, even Mouse’s indignant cry, and leaving him in a bizarre quiet, he contemplated his next move. Big guys had weaknesses of their own, they were slow, shit at close range because of their arm length and overly cocky.
The third proved to be his adversary’s flaw to exploit at the moment, as he crowed to the crowd, not even giving James the time of day since he was so confident he put the smaller man out for the night. He’d be proven wrong as James slammed his fist straight into his solar plexus with a force unbecoming for a lanky fella.
Though it didn’t immobilize the big guy, it was more than enough to knock the wind out of him and cause him to stumble back into the wall. But James wasn’t content with just that….not when the big guy could recover and easily turn more hostile. So dirty it was.
The Vista boy slammed his boots hard into Big Guy’s knees to send him down to the ground before standing over him, blood dripping from his red and swollen nose.
"Respect people for what they do to survive in this sandbox. I’m not your enemy, fuckin’ BLI is."
With his point made, he sighed and offered a hand to help the thoroughly embarrassed man up, glancing at Mouse with this half-grin of ‘I couldn’t help it.’
The surrounding crowd took to the fight with the same reaction ‘Joys did to any other brawl- Enjoyment and genuine interest. If Mouse was right, she even saw a few bets being passed around during the fight’s short duration.
Mouse rolled her eyes as James offered his help, but there was a smile mixed in there, too. He had done a good job.
Big Guy, although definitely embarrassed after his thorough assbeating, seemed to have taken the reminder to heart. He didn’t put too much pressure on James’s offered hand while pulling himself up, and once standing, offered to buy him his next round. Some of the bargoers clapped at that, others handed winnings back and forth, and eventually everyone went back to their own business, their voices mixing into the dull roar that accompanied the music and clinking of bottles. Mouse, though, held up the already-present drinks, and the guy went back to his own crew.
"So that went well." She genuinely meant it. One good fight in public, and the crowd seemed to have forgotten any previous thoughts that James didn’t belong. He had a reputation now, as far as they were concerned. The part of it where he was apparently a cannibal would probably serve as a deterrent to anyone looking to start trouble, so at least that had a good side. "Congratulations, handsome, you’re one of us."
Hm. I heard a rumor there’d be a storm coming soon. Keep an eye out, everyone.
Oh shit oh shit.
He needed an excuse and he needed it fast.
God his breath smelled bad.
Keeping his composure, but with a twitching hand, he lifted his cigarette to his lips and took a drag, exhaling the smoke through his nostrils. The words that left his lips next were spurred on by the alcohol (must’ve been pure everclear) and his hidden mean streak that the Zones seemed to be pulling out.
"Never heard of the Shivers, mate?"
Implying you’re a cannibal around a bunch of Joys, good one, James.
"It’s one thing to kill a Drac. It’s another entirely to eat one. And why wouldn’t you? Cheap, easy meat for weeks. Tastes like shit but food’s food…especially out this far."
This could go one of two ways, with the Big Guy looking like an idiot in front of his buddies- or looking like a hypocrite for condemning James because goddamit Dracs were still human.
Either way, he won.
The fact he’d actually lose hadn’t crossed his mind yet.
The Big Guy curled his lip down at James. Killing the Dracs that crossed his path was never an issue. They were scum, barely better than roaches, and the reason they ranked lower than actual rats was because rats were edible. Dracs, though, the pills they took had shit in them that sunk into the bloodstream. Ain’t no point eating that if you were going to get second-hand brainwashing, no thank you.
"Th’fuck’s yer skeeze?" He twisted his fist in James’s shirt, all considerations for politeness forgotten. "Yer fuckin’ disgustin’, y’know that? Quit jokin’ ‘bout that—"
It hit him. The reason why this little pisspot’s breath stank so badly. He hadn’t been kidding. His breath smelled like—
It smelled like—
He didn’t let himself finish the thought. Didn’t finish any thoughts, actually, especially not the one telling him to shut up and put his suddenly-raised fist down. The guy’s arm pulled back, lunged forward, and crashed straight bone and muscle into James’s nose, and he happily enjoyed the crack it made as bone shattered. It served him right, shaking everywhere and breathing.. breathing fucking people breath all over the rest of the bar. Blood flowed almost immediately.
And out of the crowd came a certain Mouse, drink in tow. ”I told you, anything works as— I leave you alone for two minutes—”
James knocked back his drink a little too fiercely, but the burn in his throat and lightheadedness was familiar, almost comforting. “What suffices for money out here…I want another….”
He murmured into Mouse’s ear, casting a glance at the bragging dude and having to keep his slightly liquored self from calling him something quite rude and coupled with a threat of an Individual jammed up his asshole and fired.
"….It’s fine…other than Precious over there, I’m fine. Just gotta keep drinkin’ so the tics go away."
Smoke eased from his lips with each word. His fidgeting hadn’t stopped yet though, but Dracs didn’t have tattoos right? And he had plenty.
”If it’s valuable, it works. Coin, food, even batteries. Rookie takes cash, so just hang on. I’ll get it.” She pecked his cheek and, already shouting for the bartender, slid her way through the masses and out of his sight.
On the other side of the bar, some cruel twist of fate made sure that one of the big guy’s lackeys caught sight of James’s shifting. The skeevey-looking guy, real skinny, eyed him with something that definitely wasn’t friendly, and he nudged Big Guy’s arm with his shoulder. And of course, the guy followed Skeeze’s line of sight. His story skidded to a halt as he shoved between the other barhoppers and stood right in front of James.
"You got a problem, gutterball?" Closer up or far away, the guy was a massive, hulking beast of a guy, the kind of which would have scars on their knuckles from at least a decade’s worth of fistfights. His voice grated through the air. "Pincer’s sayin’ yer shakin’ like a goddamn midget dog. One’a them chihuahua fucks, yeah. S’ my fun buggin’ ya? Soft stomach ‘er somethin’?"
The instant his lighter clicked on, heads turned and hands were thrust in their direction. A particularly gravelly-voiced ‘Joy a few seats down muttered, hand outstretched. “Can a man get a ssssmoke round here?”
Figuring it’d be the charitable thing to do (and so he wouldn’t smoke another pack to oblivion), James handed over a cigarette, which prompted the others to scoff. “Don’t play favorites, skidmark, we’re all dying out here!”
With a groan through his own smoke, he distributed three more cigs and stuffed the pack back in his pocket, lying about being all out. A small kerfuffle broke out between the haves and have-nots and James focused hard on his drink.
Drinking was something he knew how to do.
"Ffffuck if I know, Mou-" he started to hiss, shutting his trap when he heard the big man mention something about using a Drac’s trachea for a straw. Fidgeting began on his end, his cowardly urge to get the fuck out rising.
Passing out the cigs seemed to put James in the good graces of the folks surrounding them. The sparking of lighters or matches sounded for a quick couple of moments, followed by a sigh and a few plumes of grey smoke. The guy, the one who sounded like he was gargling rocks, tossed back the rest of his drink and left.
Mouse smiled, leaning in to whisper how good he was blending in, but— Oh, no. She should have warned him. No one was going to take kindly to a Drac, even an ex-Drac, in their midst, especially when he was squirming like that at the big guy’s boasts and making it so obvious who he was. Then again, no one looked like they were really enjoying the reminder of the kill order, either. She stepped closer to his side and tucked a piece of hair behind his ear, making herself a block between James and the big man.
"If you wanna leave," she muttered. "Just let me know. We can try again somewhere else."
Behind her, the huge man must have had another drink, because he started shouting some extremely lewd threats, but bemoaned how he’d never be able to carry through with them because Dracs were ‘all too chicken-shit to come after him.’