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New Dear Hearts and Gentle People (M)

Kreed · 11 · 222

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Offline Kreed

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Archive - http://archive.visionary-tales.com/dear-hearts-and-gentle-people-m-t21982.html

Ah. It seemed their luck would continue its good streak. Akuma caught the tail end of Jake and Sheriff Harden's conversation, and could guess by the sounds of it that Mr. Simms was headed down the same hall. With small, hurried feet, Akuma tucked low and down the hallway like a bullet to the ankles, around the corner and into the bloodied remnants of the crime scene. It was a challenge not to slip in the blood, and in the darkness, the congealing pool was black and sticky like tar.

Akuma cursed under their breath; finding any shreds of metal was going to be damn near impossible without a light source and the Sheriff was bound to be coming any second. With a quiet, sharp intake of breath, Akuma shot for the nearest dresser to grab anything that resembled a cloth and fell to their knees, pantomiming a dejected and nervous cleanup complete with furrowed brow and deeply-set cringe in disgust and fear. This was a cleaning girl that didn't get paid enough to deal with crime scenes.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2019, 03:33:45 PM by Jabbathejack »


Offline Jabbathejack

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The sheriff paused in the doorway as he caught sight of the cleaner.
"Hold up there, miss."

He frowned down at her; there were few people in this town that he did not recognise.

"Just having a look around. You can carry on cleaning when I'm done."

He stepped around her, avoiding the blood on the floor to look around the room. He grimaced, his eyes travelling over the disarray, noting the spent shell casings and the bloody trail across the floor.

"Nasty business, eh?" Simms paused and turned back at the young woman. "Were you here when it happened?"


Offline Kreed

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Feinting a quiet, sharp gasp and a recoil in surprise, Akuma rose to their feet and hastily tried to clean themselves to a presentable state for the Sheriff's presence. This endeavor was quickly abandoned as it took no level of observation to know it would be a fruitless effort.

"I'm sorry, Sheriff." The cleaning girl stepped aside to make way for Harden, fidgeting unsettled with the coat wrapped around her waist. "...I wasn't... I didn't--I mean." She paused and caught her breath, inhaling slowly through her nose and exhaling out her mouth, shoulders rising and falling in a visible attempt to steady herself.

"I prepped the room before Mr. Beckett came in like he usually does, then went to go clean one for another customer. I was on my way to get fresh sheets when... when I saw all this to be honest."


Offline Jabbathejack

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"It's all right, miss." Simms smiled, holding up his hand to try and placate her.

"I'll be out of your way in no time... Miss?"

He smiled at her expectantly, hoping that she'd give him her name. He'd file it internally for later, for when he saw her again and in a town this size, it paid to know everyone inside.

"Mr Beckett's a regular, yes? What's he like?"

Maybe she'd give him a more accurate view than Jake had.


Offline Kreed

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"...Miss May, mister...Harden. Sheriff, sir. Sh-sheriff Harden. Sir." It was clear she was more accustomed to doing her job in silence, because she stammered in a tiny voice choked out like she was ten years younger. She did, to her credit, manage a rather charming sort of half-curtsey with the makeshift skirt made from the old coat tied around her waist.

"Mr Beckett... um... yes he is...here every few months." Her voice settled into a barely audible mumble, and she went between staring at the floor and looking around uneasily to see if they were alone.

It was between one of these sweeps from left-to-right that she bounced herself back to face Harden Simms and look up at him, balling loose fabric she could grab in her hands and clutching it in her fists.

"I'm scared to say because him and Jake. They're pals. But Mr Beckett... I don't like him. At all." If there was any more to it, she was going to struggle to get it out. It was bursting to be free but her fear kept whatever secrets she held captive just behind her teeth, clenched hard behind closed lips.


Offline Jabbathejack

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"Miss May." Simms smiled warmly, repeating her name gently. "Don't worry, Jake won't hear a thing about this. I ain't gonna be telling him."

"Why don't you like Mr Beckett? No one's ever brought any complaints against him or his friend."

Simms paused, frowning as he looked around the room again. Jake hadn't mentioned the other man. Sure enough, there were two packs set against the side of the room.

"Speaking of his partner, do you know where he is now? Tall man, blond hair. Was he involved in any of this?"


Offline Kreed

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Why didn't little Miss May like Mr. Beckett? Akuma was a fine actor, but pulling a nervous face when the opposite felt appropriate was a challenge that wasn't expected quite so suddenly.

"He's a slaver", she whispered. It was fascinating, the power Beckett seemed to hold that no one had ever come forward. His attempts to hide Fulbeck's predicament was bare minimum at best; it was a sloppy execution and anyone who could read a room would have been able to guess based on their dynamics. Hell, this little character created on the spot was hesitant to speak up, even though she didn't even exist. There would be no consequences for her. Why was there the gut reaction to remain silent? Akuma shook the thought away. It didn't matter; the important thing was to be clear and report what was known. They could question the internalization of complicit mutism later.

"The blond man's name is Joe. He was Beckett's slave. I don't know what happened to him...or if he did it to Beckett or not... but I hope he got away. I found...a part of this." She extended her hand and showed Sheriff Harden one of several pieces she had retrieved from the collar. The majority was pocketed. There would potentially be use in the scraps.

"I've seen people come in with these on. The light flashes red and the collar beeps sometimes. I heard that..." She swallowed and clenched her jaw inside her mouth before continuing with a much lower tone. "...If they try to take it off or leave then their head gets blown off."

There was a beat, and fear struck her face like a slap. "...I'm not in trouble for telling you this stuff am I?"


Offline Jabbathejack

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"A slaver?" Simms' smile faded as quickly as if he had just been slapped. He frowned, reaching out to take the piece of metal that she had found.

He held it up to examine it, his eyes narrowing as he stared at the chunk of metal. It was curved; a piece that looked as if it would slot into something else to complete the circuit. There was no doubt; he'd seen similar objects before.

His frown deepening, Simms slid the piece of metal into his coat pocket.
"No, miss, you ain't in trouble. I'm sure glad you told me."

Sure glad that someone had. From the way that May spoke, it seemed to be common knowledge, maybe around Jake's establishment. It seemed that most folk were too afraid to come forward, but it was an embarrassing fact to Simms; this was going on right underneath his own nose and he had no idea. Every time he had seen the pair, the taller man, this Joe, had always had his neck covered and this explained why.

"You get any trouble from Jake, you just come and tell me, miss. All right?"

Simms turned towards the door, grimacing; he was going to have to have a long chat with Jake. He paused, glancing back at the young woman and his expression softened.

"Here." He held out a handful of caps. "For your trouble, miss."


Offline Kreed

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Harden Simms seemed like a nice, unassuming man. It was just a shame he was a shitty sheriff. It didn't take more than half a brain to catch on to Jake's slave ring; a quick look at the patrons in the bar had been enough to tell Akuma everything there was to know. If Simms couldn't see that, yet, well... he'd better hope he was safe enough within the four walls of Megaton to work while he was still green.

The sheriff breached her personal space, and the young woman flinched in surprise before - with great reluctance - presenting her open hands face up, eyes widening at the sight of caps as though she'd never seen so much in one place. Not at least that she could call her own.

May clutched the caps to her chest in a tight fist, jaw clenching and eyes flashing in a brief fear before she stiffened. "Thank you."

It was all she could muster before she fled back into the shadows of the hall and out the back door. With the sheriff preoccupied with the owner of the pub, they'd have plenty of time to go through the main entrance, even as loud as the engine roared when the doors flew open.

Following the narrow pathway between the backs of metal shacks and the towering walls, Akuma found the way back to the water treatment plant and lightly knocked three times on the rusting door to the facility. "Joe." The hissed whisper was sharp against the calm of the night. "It's Lucy. Get your stuff and let's get out of here through the front gate. Time to haul ass." Would Simms make good on his promise to arrest them over the trouble with the yao guai, or - with new knowledge that Beckett was a slaver - would he let it slip? Either way, Akuma wasn't keen on finding out. In situations like this, it was best to come in with a roar and leave with a whimper. Wasn't no shame in fleeing when shit got hairy. It had kept them alive so far.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Joe had lost all track of how long he had been waiting. He was incapable of relaxing, sure that at any moment, their crude attempts to barricade the door would be thrown aside and the door would burst open, with Jake and his friends ready to drag him back.

Forcing himself to pull his eyes away from the door, Joe looked at the yao guai and realised with a start that the creature was staring at him, silent except for the occasional light huff. After a moment, it settled down, resting its head on its paws.

Joe jumped as the voice outside whispered his name and it took him a moment to recognise the speaker. He climbed hurriedly to his feet, reaching for Lucius' pack, slinging it over his shoulder. Lucy. Finally, there was a preference for a name and Joe made sure that he would use it.

Clearing the barricade, Joe opened the door tentatively.
"Lucy? We okay?"

Behind the masked figure, the town was silent, with none of the panic that had been expecting to see. Exhaling slowly, he ventured out, ready to follow Lucy's lead.


Offline Kreed

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"For the moment." Akuma moved to allow both Joe and the yao guai clearance to pass. Details could wait until they had made camp in a safer place. For now, time was of the essence.

"Sheriff is busy conducting an investigation of the room right now. The way should be clear for now, but we need to move quickly."

Practically pivoting where they stood, Lucy made a beeline for the front gates, their white yao guai nudging their back as they went.

"How far is Rivet City?"