If I Stand, We Fall (IC)

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coinsruledude
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Re: If I Stand, We Fall (IC)

Postby coinsruledude » Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:18 am

Omar: 6

[Wednesday, October 29th, 2025 – 12:03 PM]

Forensic specialists arrived at the scene hours later. Having gathered all the information I needed and having done the initial interviewing of first responders and key witnesses, I quickly checked in with the newcomers and discussed what needed to be done. An autopsy of the body was really the only thing we had to look forward to, excluding a quick examination of the contents of Mr. Jonger’s pockets. We found few footprints and no vehicle marks, and unfortunately it had rained two days before the body was found – just after the murder – so the forensic team’s influence would be limited. I transferred the pocket contents to the forensic team so they could keep all the evidence together; I told them the short story of what happened so they had context for anything they found on the items. Luckily for us the media cleared out by then. Being snubbed over and over again got to them and they left en masse, leaving the scene emptier and a lot better off for our efforts.

[Saturday, November 1st, 2025 – 1:08 PM]

I spent the rest of the week doing basically nothing but paperwork since, unfortunately for me, Kevin couldn’t do all of it himself. Each part of the scene was carefully documented and each piece of evidence was bagged and labeled with the precise location it was found. It all amounted to basically nothing, which frustrated me. Even compared to other murders, there was so little to go on it was astounding. The only parts of the scene I couldn’t investigate myself were the handful of footprints found, which fell under the umbrella for the forensic team, and the body. One good thing about the lack of evidence, though, was the speed at which we were able to get what little we had processed. By the weekend, the preliminary autopsy had been completed and the forensic team had all its work compiled for me.

Sacramento’s police department didn’t have an on-site laboratory, so I had to travel to a building a few blocks away. I didn’t know exactly what it used to be before the apocalypse, but the building definitely had some of the equipment necessary for evidence analysis and autopsies and such before the city government claimed it and gave the department access to its facilities. Whatever the space was lacking before had been shipped in, so it was mostly functioning – at least when it came to the basics. I met up with Kevin at the building and together we made our way to the office of Dr. Andrea Bearden, a former biologist who ended up becoming a forensic analyst for us. She was getting to be retirement age, but it wasn’t as if she needed to quit, so she kept going like clockwork. I interacted with her constantly, so we got to know each other pretty well.
“Hello, you two,” she said, greeting us with handshakes. With all the work already done, we were simply meeting up for a quick briefing on what the results of everything happened to be. “Is everything going well?”
“Everything’s going as well as could be expected.” I replied.
“Same here. I’m doing dandy.” Kevin added. Both of us took seats in chairs facing her desk, which had a manila folder open and a bunch of papers scattered around, as if she was busy going through them before we entered.
“Good to hear, good to hear. We have a lot to talk about now, don’t we? Let’s sit down and get started…pick your poison, gentlemen. Where to start?”
“The autopsy sounds like as good a place as any.” I said, waiting a moment to see if Kevin cared to answer.
“Okay, goo choice.” Dr. Bearden said. She began shuffling her desk’s clutter around to get it in order. I realized that her dirty desk was simply the information we went there to get, just in paper form and spread out. She had clearly been doing some analysis herself.

“In summary, probably not to your surprise, the decapitation was what ultimately killed the victim, although he did have a stab wound to his chest that also would have proven fatal. That one punctured his left lung, and the other stab wound, the superficial one, was extremely close to the stomach, several centimeters above the organ. The defensive wounds on his hands were clean cuts, similar to a paper cut but much larger on scale.”
“So the attacker wasn’t targeting his hands directly,” I pondered. “The victim grabbed the blade in the middle of a strike out of desperation, maybe after it had been thrust into his chest, and the attacker pulled it out and away quickly.”
“Yes, that appears to be the case.”
“You swabbed the victim for drugs, correct?” Kevin asked. A true toxicology analysis wasn’t always possible because of budget and time constraints and the availability of the necessary equipment, so often times we settled for swabbing the face and testing for cocaine that way.
“The victim had cocaine in a bag on his person, and we suspect he also had it in his system. Swabs from inside the mouth and nose came back positive for it, at any rate. There was a bag found nearby at the base of the tower that was identical to the one found on the victim. It also had traces of cocaine inside, and it also had a partial fingerprint of the victim on the outside.”
“So he snorted a line on top of the tower and flicked the bag over before he was killed.”
“It appears that way to me.”
“Maybe the killer was involved with the drugs somehow.” I wondered aloud.
“Perhaps…blood testing is also not possible at this time, so the assumption was all the blood on the scene was the victim’s. That isn’t too far off, is it?”
“There were no out-of-place splatters from what I could see, so it’s a strong likelihood the killer was never injured in the confrontation.” I replied.

“Now, this is the part I’m sure you’ll be very, very interested in,” Dr. Bearden said, smiling. “Most of the scene was unaffected by the killing, as far as we could tell. None of the outside litter was involved, aside from the discarded bag of cocaine. Thanks to the rain several days ago, most physical traces of any activity were washed away – that is, most traces, but not all.”
“So what was still available for us?” I asked, not too impressed with her dramatic pause.
“Fingerprints are probably the thing you’re after the most, right? You want to check and see if there’s any known criminal on record with prints that match.”
“Exactly.” Kevin confirmed, shifting in his chair a little.
“I have bad news for you then. We found several nice, complete sets of fingerprints on the scene…one belonged to the man who went to check on the body before police arrived – we went and collected his prints from him after you left the scene – and two more sets were so small that they clearly belonged to his little ones. Omar, you and two responding officers also popped up on the list, specifically on the railing walking up to the top of the water tower. Not a surprise there. The victim’s prints were everywhere, including those made in his own blood and those under his body that were protected from the elements for a few days. There were no unidentified prints found anywhere.”
“None of that is good news, so what is it that you’re waiting to tell me?” I asked.
“The mud outside the scene was mostly dry after the rain we got three days ago, and as one would expect, it was washed clean by the water, except for a few select spots. One was in a patch of grass just at the base of the water tower. You probably stepped over it climbing up there, Omar.”
“Yes, I remember that print. We know it didn’t come from any of the first responders, so we assumed it was the victims.”
“Your assumptions were correct. The victim’s partial shoeprint was found there. The mud held its shape in the grass, and we matched it to the shoes he was wearing. There was also a footprint found on the adjacent property to the east. Two prints, actually – one was in a small dirt pile and the other was the imprint of the same dirt on nearby concrete. An overhang on the nearby abandoned building kept the area dry and safe. The key thing here, the thing you’ll both jump for joy about, is that those prints matched up with a partial print we found on top of the tower – it was made in blood, and it was preserved because the victim rolled over onto it before being killed.”
“So we know the killer got away by walking through the industrial area to the north of the marina…there were sets of footprints in the apartment of another one of the victims, so I wonder if they’ll match up.”
“No need to check yourself. I did for you, and they do,” Dr. Bearden interrupted. “They were a perfect match. Heavily worn, size 7 male shoe.”
“Damn.” I breathed, completely understanding the dramatic pauses sprinkled throughout the conversation. That single footprint was so powerful. It did far more than progress our understanding of the single homicide investigation – it linked two of the murders together without a doubt. If we could find someone guilty of killing Dickie Jonger or Corey Hale – one or the other, it didn’t matter – we could easily get them on the other murder too, all but guaranteeing a death sentence.
“That’s huge.” Kevin beamed.
“Yes, I knew it was. That’s why I was sure to check myself first. I remembered all those bloody prints from the other murder. Unfortunately, that’s all I have for you. You’re free to take this copy of the file, and if you need more just come ask for a copy. One more thing, actually. Omar, we took a quick look at the contents of the man’s pockets that you recovered. There wasn’t anything significant on them – just partial fingerprints from you, the victim, and the man who took the items off the body. You’re free to take them back for evidence since there’s no more forensic use for them.” I picked up the clear plastic bags that held the evidence and hefted them, eager to finally have something in front of me besides paperwork.

~

After thanking Dr. Bearden and leaving her office, I left Kevin screw around with the forensic reports and he left me to screw around with the physical evidence. Rather than go back to the police department where I could be bothered, I returned home for the day to work there, which I often did after stressful spells of twiddling my thumbs at work. I was much better off having something in my hands to look that and examine. I rolled up the curtains to let in some natural light – I still wasn’t paying for electricity – and sat down at my desk, knocking away some papers into a pile for later. Laid out before me were the contents of Mr. Jonger’s pockets when he was killed: a dime bag of cocaine, a tiny derringer, a folded index card, and three gold coins.

Cocaine, in legal and illegal forms, was common enough in Sacramento for me not to be surprised. Hard drugs were only allowed to be sold in the city when sellers registered with the city government. Geographically, though, Sacramento was engulfed by drugs – Junction, Cascadia, and San Francisco completely surrounded us. None of them mandated drug-dealing registries, and it was also completely legal to bring outside drugs into Sacramento, so their drugs easily poured into our tiny, one-city trade state. There were no identifying marks or logos on the dime bag, which was often the case for high-profile sellers in Sacramento, so it was likely acquired from outside the city and untraceable. It would probably get sold at a police auction in the future or pocketed by somebody from the evidence room after sitting for a few months. It gave me no new information, although I kept the thought in the back of my mind that ongoing drug disputes could’ve played a role in Mr. Jonger’s death.

The little derringer, specifically a COP .357, told me about as much as the cocaine did. It had been fully loaded with four bullets, which were neatly placed in a separate bag for me. Most weaponry in Eureka was unregistered and untraceable, for good reasons: there was just too damn much to keep track of, and in general, Eurekans were really, really protective of their right to own firearms – hell, we copied the Second Amendment word-for-word into our constitution. Sacramento, however, like with the drugs, loved to register things that didn’t really warrant being registered. Long guns were fair game for anyone to carry however they wanted, but handguns had to be registered with the city government due to their concealing potential. Mr. Jonger wasn’t a law-abiding citizen, though, and the gun was unregistered, a complete ghost to us. It would probably get nabbed from the evidence room as well, and I didn’t care, since it was also useless to my investigation. I did find myself loading and unloading it repeatedly, though, contemplating keeping it for myself since I didn’t own many guns.

After disregarding the gun and drugs, I unfolded the index card that the forensic analysts neatly folded back into a square for me. Of course, as one of the most important pieces of evidence, God had called for it to be soaked by rain days earlier, since the pocket containing the card had been facing the sky. Red pen scrawled a bunch of lines and words across the paper, but the handwriting was so damn horrible that I couldn’t get a word of it out even if the rain didn’t cause runny ink and destroy the integrity of the paper. There were definitely words, but I couldn’t make any sense of them. Maybe it was the name of somebody involved with the victim’s criminality, or maybe they were instructions that led to the death on top of the water reservoir. The random lines drawn on the card didn’t help. It was like someone was scribble-testing a new pen.

It looked like everything in the pockets was a waste of time, since the solid gold coins weren’t remarkable either. They were everywhere in Eureka as a whole, holding their value even during a time when all other currencies became nothing but kindling and confetti. Standing Liberty was the face of most gold bullion in Eureka, and the three coins I had were dated from 2012, meaning the person who bought them clearly had some great foresight or some stellar luck. Somehow they ended up in Mr. Jonger’s pocket, though, and I was baffled as to how. Gold coins were, honestly, obsolete for most Eurekans. The dollar had been revived and it was seen as much safer than gold, which begun to fluctuate wildly as the economy rebuilt itself and people settled down. I remembered times where the price per ounce was both ten thousand and two hundred, but it was clear that precious metals were collapsing in value as some semblance of civilization returned. Maybe they were a drug payment or a rainy day fund – it wasn’t like Dickie was wealthy – or possibly just distrust in the new dollar. While spinning the coin in my fingers, I noticed a foreign mark on it. It was a deep indent in the metal on the back of the coin, right between the tips of the eagle’s wings. A nice symmetric X was formed by the mark, which was deeper in the middle and rose up to four round tips. The other two coins had the same mark, making me think it was something important. I quickly grabbed my phone and called Kevin, just to see if he knew anything about it.

“I don’t have a clue, but what I can do is I can get you on the phone with a guy I know and you can ask him about it,” he replied. “He runs cargo from Albuquerque to Redding and he just so happens to be on vacation right now. He’ll know a hell of a lot more about it than me. Give me a sec to find his hotel info…”

I thanked Kevin and within minutes I was on the phone with his acquaintance named Arty, a convoy leader who had been working in central California for years. He wasn’t initially willing to give up much, but I made sure to joke that he wasn’t the one in trouble and I was simply asking for curiosity’s sake. According to him, gold was extremely common among convoys for bulk raw resource trading in Junction and Death Valley, to the point of it being a real main source of currency even in normal transactions. It was no big surprise that he, a man of the trade, was able to place the mark as a common way to test if the metal is actually gold.

“In the old days they bit it,” Arty said. “Now we do what we call tapping. Easier on the teeth, eh? They take a handful of coins, spread them on the table, and just start poking at them, sometimes with a hammer. It’s real easy to tell what’s gold and what’s not when you do that.”
“Could the mark help tell what areas or cities the coin passed through at all?”
“Yes, actually. They do it different ways. Yours sounds like it’s of the Philips tradition – just an old Philips screwdriver. That’s Vegas, for sure.”

Before we exchanged goodbyes, Arty explained to me a bit how Las Vegas operated. It was mostly anarchic and barter-based, but one man who controlled a lot of the land went by the codename Saurus. He was a landlord who reigned over most of the bits of the city that had access to running water and electricity. Death Valley, being the trade state that it was, didn’t really regulate much, so he controlled the economy there. Everything became painfully clear after that. Mr. Jonger only lived in the marina in Sacramento for half the year because he was in Las Vegas the other half working for a sleazy landlord, so all of a sudden my search for evidence was about to take me hundreds of miles away. Saurus sure as hell hadn’t been interviewed yet.
"You can only talk rubbish if you're aware of knowledge." ~Karl Pilkington
"**** it, it's late. Change it later." ~Me and Teddy

coinsruledude
Posts: 14906
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:36 pm
Location: Restricted

Re: If I Stand, We Fall (IC)

Postby coinsruledude » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:03 am

Omar: 7

I made sure to do a little search on what happened to Las Vegas during the apocalypse, since I didn’t know about it myself. Lucky for me and my purposes, though, many major cities in Eureka kept records of what occurred during and after Reclamation began in those areas, mostly for posterity from what I knew. Even Death Valley, as dilute as its government may have been, made those records available for the public to see, but I had to dig around in a library to find them all. A lot of the work was done by historians and anthropologists, who might not have had much purpose when hordes were still walking around but definitely had their value once we rebuilt.

Large parts of the infrastructure fell apart in Nevada as a result of people migrating to the West Coast over time, essentially taking everything that wasn’t nailed down and ripping up everything that was. Irrigation systems were scrapped, roads were left unmaintained, and the Las Vegas strip, specifically, was heavily gutted. Even decorative things like signage and souvenirs were missing at iconic locations like the Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace, which indicated that people were making sound long-term investments; that junky stuff would be worth a fortune in a hundred years as collector’s objects.

Once people began to settle in the region seriously, the destruction left huge problems for the new residents, specifically the lack of amenities. Henderson, the southernmost of the three cities that made up the Las Vegas area, became the first place people settled due to the close proximity to Lake Las Vegas and the Colorado River, which made the issue of water in the desert less severe. I decided to go to there alone rather than take Kevin. He still had a lot to do at the department to wrap up prior commitments before joining me full-time on the serial killer cases, so I let him take care of that while I got in my car and drove. To counterbalance my loneliness, I grabbed an Uzi and half a dozen magazines from the armory; I made sure to attach a heavier bolt for a slightly slower fire rate. I found a fondness for the gun after using it at the range a few times, and I figured I would need more firepower than just a pistol if I got into anything serious in Death Valley. Uzi or no Uzi, I kept my pistol – SPD’s standard-issue Glock 22 – on my hip.

[Sunday, November 2nd, 2025 –5:06 AM]

Beyond a slightly bigger gun, I didn’t feel like I needed to get anything else prepared before leaving Sacramento. I wasn’t going anywhere near unsettled territory, multiple people at the department knew where I was headed, and I planned to be home by Monday, so it wasn’t like I needed a bug-out bag and eight days of rations. Traffic out of the city at 5 AM was negligible, so I sped onto Highway 99 and prepared for a very, very long drive. Assuming I hit a decent average speed, I was looking forward to sixteen hours of driving for the round trip. Just like in the United States, Eurekans had freedom of movement between trade states, so I didn’t need to worry about borders.

Driving through Junction was the worst part of the trip, since it was empty fields and farmsteads for hundreds and hundreds of miles in every direction. Occasionally I’d pass a functioning city, but then it was gone and it was abandoned fields again. I figured it took a special kind of person to live out in the boonies like that, especially with better, more urban options available. I decided to stop in Fresno for lunch; I was making good time cruising at 90 miles an hour, so I found a nice café and had a sandwich. The few times I ended up in Fresno after Eureka was founded, I found it to be similar to Sacramento, except without holier-than-thou real estate companies and landlords spewing propaganda about how cheap their housing was on TV.

Highway 99 bled into State Route 58, which bled into I-15. I didn’t even notice when I entered Death Valley until I saw some signs for “Outer Vegas” ahead of me, modern signs having been superimposed over the old ones. Upon entering the Las Vegas suburbs, now dubbed Outer Vegas, the scenery went almost immediately from flat, dry land to rows and rows of houses as far as the eye could see. It was a strange sight, as someone who had never been in the area before, to see a city rise out of the land so suddenly. I didn’t know how much of a city was left, though, because many of the houses in the northwestern section were unlivable. Besides the normal post-apocalypse wear and tear, many seemed to sport more severe damage, like how their roofs were caved in, their walls had car-sized holes, and most doors and windows were missing. Another strange sight was the desert slowly creeping back into the city, engulfing the outermost exit ramps and side streets in a thin layer of built-up silt. Everything looked dusty. The main highway that I was traveling on was the only one not completely littered with garbage bags and splintered pieces of wood and chunks of concrete, and even then, I had to slow down to swerve around stripped car frames and crushed metal garbage cans, and there was even a burnt-out overturned dumpster in my path – in the middle of the damn highway. Saurus and his equals didn’t keep a clean city.

There weren’t many people strolling through Outer Vegas, but as I got closer and closer to the strip, more people could be seen huddled at street corners and in the maintained storefronts. Once I hit the old North Las Vegas Airport, which had been reduced to cracked tarmac and nothing else, the ghetto started to disappear. Stores and shops seemed to be more open, and a few blocks in, things started to look a bit like Sacramento, albeit dirty as all hell. I didn’t know where to go from there, since I wasn’t sure exactly where Saurus was, so I decided I had to stop. I cruised around the main highway area, which was apparently named Rancho Drive, for a while before coming upon a small tavern sitting smack-dap on the main road. It clearly used to be a Wendy’s, but the owners tried to cover up that fact by branding their own signs over everything. I decided it was a decent place to start digging through the city. Small hole-in-the-wall bars were usually my go-to place to find people; they weren’t that dangerous as long as you got in and out quick without causing a ruckus. The people inside cared about you as much as you cared about them.

La Raza Cerveza was fairly crowded, being on the main road. The bar stools had been erected in front of the counter where the fast food cash registers used to be, and the tables had some greasy-looking individuals drinking up a storm. I sat down at the bar and ordered a Manhattan. When the Hispanic bartender brought me my drink, I asked him if he knew of a man named Saurus.
“Saurus? Mayor of Henderson?” he asked, his voice heavily accented.
“Is that the same guy who owns a bunch of the city?”
“Yeah, same guy. He owns half of Henderson and part of the Strip. You’re not from around here, I think. You’d know.”
“I’m looking at some property down here is all.” I lied.
“Saurus is usually the one to go to directly for that. He really takes his real estate serious. If you’re just renting a little room, then he’s not the one to go to, but if you’re buying up a row of houses, he’s the one who you’ll want.”
“Where can I find him?”
“Solarside Estate. It’s right off the Boulder Highway on your way out of Henderson towards Boulder City. Personally I’d never go mess around with that stuff, but if you’re in the business…”
“I’ll handle myself. Thanks for the info.” I replied. I spent a few minutes enjoying my drink before leaving a generous tip and getting back in my car, which I tried to park so I had an eye on it while I was inside; the last thing I needed was to find it on cinderblocks.

After getting lost a few times, I managed to find my way to the property I was looking for. I could see why Saurus liked it, though. Solarside Estate was nestled right on the edge of the nicer suburbs in Henderson, at least from what I had seen. A short driveway led to a small, maintained community park that had way too large a parking lot for what was there, so I assumed it was pre-apocalypse construction. After parking in one of the empty rows and exiting my car, I took notice of several guards I could see milling around. They were all clearly watching me with diligence, but I didn’t mind much. I stopped to read some of the weather-beaten signage in the park and found myself in Clark County Wetlands Park. Again, Saurus had it made, settling right on the tip of the only water reservoir in the region. I took a look out into a dry field to the west and saw the namesake for Solarside. Huge solar panels were stretched out on the ground, and they looked clean and operational, so I hoped they were powering more than just the estate itself. Before I could get within fifty feet of the entrance to the main estate, I was stopped by the guards.

“What’s your business here?”
“I’m here to speak with Saurus.”
“What about?”
“It’s really only information for him. It’s a combination of police investigations and questioning, so I’d really think he would want to speak to me personally.” I explained. After getting a peculiar look from the guard, he said some words into a small radio on his shoulder and sized me up.
“Do you have any weapons? It’s standard procedure to search visitors.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Then hand it over.”
“As long as I get it back, I have no problem with that.” I said, slowly unholstering my pistol and handing it to the man. I was subjected to a quick search for additional weaponry, which I didn’t have, and then I was admitted into the estate. It turned out I was entering the old nature center, which had been converted into a base of operations for Saurus and his real estate empire. The old displays, full of animals and fish and plants, were still there, but they were looking a bit neglected since there was algae everywhere and a few fish were floating in what looked like an ‘I’m-definitely-dead’ way. Eventually my escort led me to a large auditorium-style area, where I assumed presentations used to be given for crowds of people. The room was painted blue, had rows of blue chairs, and had expensive-looking blue carpeting. There was a plentiful number of people in the room, typing away on computers and working with stacks of paper that dwarfed anything I ever saw at the police department. There was a nice aisleway painted on the floor leading me to a small platform. It was just large enough to fit two chairs with two standing desks, which were covered in even more papers than the ones on the gym floor, and a large La-Z-Boy chair with no desk in front of it. Three people were on the stage, all of them in their forties or fifties. Two of them were looking expectantly at me.

An Asian woman on the left immediately stood at attention after noticing me enter with my escort. Her hair was held back with a headband and she was clean and professional-looking; she was wearing tight jeans and a blue T-shirt, casual attire for someone sporting an AK-47 on their back. She also had a revolver on one hip and a sword on the other, clearly the type of person I didn’t want on my bad side. I doubted the weapons were for show. The man sitting to the right, also Asian, looked up but stayed at his desk, which had a pump shotgun leaning up against it within arm’s reach. He seemed more focused on a thick metal-bound notebook that he was writing in with red and blue pen, alternating the colors every few seconds as he quickly wrote and scribbled and did calculations with a calculator.

In the center was another Asian man. He was stretched out comfortably in the La-Z-Boy with a few glass pop bottles sitting on a tray table next to him, along with several plates from a large meal he must’ve had earlier. His clothing was simple but strange; he was wearing skintight black leggings and breathable long-sleeved athletic wear, which was also completely black. He completed the dark-colored getup with mirrored aviators, obscuring his eyes entirely. Despite the glasses and the somewhat dim lighting, I could see that his face bore several ugly, splotchy scars, running from his forehead to his collarbones.

“That man is here to see you.” the heavily-armed woman said to him, shifting her AK-47 from her back to her front, obviously as a signal to me not to try anything stupid. The seated man turned his head slightly to face me, his glasses glinting, but something was off about the way he looked at me.
“Good.” the man replied. I didn’t notice at first, but there was a mark on the ground exactly fifteen feet from the stage. My escort roughly grabbed my shoulder and forced me to stand on the green line.
“You can talk now. State your name and your purpose here.” I was ordered by the armed woman.
“My name is Omar Sweeney. I’m a detective for the Sacramento Police Department, and I’m here to talk to a man named Saurus.”
“You’re far, far from your jurisdiction here,” the man in black said. He lazily shifted positions so he was sitting a bit more upright, although he kept his crossed legs sticking out. “Hmph. You’re not even in the same trade state. Why does someone like you need to talk to Saurus? Are you interested in buying or renting property?”
“No, I’m quite happy with my little apartment back home.”
“Then there’s very little to talk to him about.”
“I need to talk to him about Richard Jonger.” I mentioned.
“Richard Jonger…I’ve heard that name before. What about him?”
“It’s not that long of a story, but I’m only willing to discuss it if Saurus himself is here.”
“I am Saurus,” the man said. I wasn’t really surprised. “Why are you looking for Richard?”
“I’m not. I’m here to talk to you about what his role was here in Death Valley. Unfortunately he was found dead outside his place of residence. We believe his death may be connected to the time he spent here.” All three people on stage were shocked by the news; the woman lowered her gun, the man looked up from his desk, and Saurus sat upright.
“Richard is dead?” the armed woman asked, her composure seeming to break a little.
“Yes – my condolences, if you knew him personally.”
“He was my stepbrother,” Saurus grimaced, shaking his head. “Dead…I wonder what he did to deserve that.”
“That’s what I’m hoping you could shed some light on.”
“He worked with one of my companies clearing houses and properties to prepare them for sale and rent. Strictly manual labor,” Saurus stated matter-of-factly. Inwardly I was glad that he immediately gave me information without needing to ask for it. He was probably going to be cooperative if it was a family relationship. “I brought him here to work for me as a way to help him make a living. I wanted him here year-round, but he insisted he had a life to live in Sacramento. Cocaine is hardly a good replacement for family, though. At least I tried.”
“I’m sure he appreciated your effort.”
“I’m impressed that you tracked Dickie back to me, detective” Saurus mentioned casually. “My family isn’t something available to the public.”
“I didn’t actually know you were related…” I began. I went to reach in my pocket, but suddenly I had an AK-47 pointed at me, so I put my hands in the air. “Several gold coins were found on his body. They were marked with what I was led to believe are marks specific to this region, this city even. Traders mark bullion here, right?”

“Yes, we do. Let me see the coins.” Saurus stated. I slowly procured the coins and handed them to my escort, and they were passed from him to the woman on the stage to Saurus himself. He fingered the coins for a little while, flipping them over and passing his finger over the back near the eagle where the screwdriver marks were located. Not once did his head move to actually look at them; he kept staring at me the whole time.
“Yes, these are ours. This is what he was paid in when he worked here.” Saurus stated, holding out his hand to the open air as if he was done with the coins. The woman came and grabbed them, and again Saurus didn’t move his head at all.
“I’m sorry, but are you…blind?” I asked out of curiosity.
“Yes. I was the victim of an acid attack I believe was orchestrated by some long-time enemies of mine. My skin has mostly healed, but my sight never returned and likely never will,” Saurus said, shifting in his La-Z-Boy and leaning his head up against his right hand. “Luckily I built up quite a venture before the incident, and I can administer things well enough without eyesight since I have access to plenty of resources and the eyes of others, especially my siblings Sumalee and Niran here.”
“I’m sorry that happened to you.”
“I’m managing so far. Regarding Dickie…I hope you don’t expect me to give you any insight into what happened to him. I was never his babysitter. His personal business here in Henderson was his and his alone. I simply gave him an opportunity to get by in life without being a beggar.”
“Is there anything he could’ve done to someone, though? Are you aware if he had any issues working for your people?” I asked.
“No. He did what he was told and that was enough.” Saurus stated.
“I’m sorry for asking these questions, but I’m sure you understand that it’s my job. Could you point me to where he worked?”
“He never worked with a singular person. Labor like his was moved where it was needed all over the city, even into the desert cities every so often for looting specific material. He worked under two dozen contractors, none of whom were likely to know his name.”
“You must run a fairly centralized business if bosses don’t have reason to know an employee’s name.”
“Manual labor isn’t valuable to us, so why act like the people doing it matter? There are millions of idle hands in Eureka and none of them need anything but some money, so they work for it.” Saurus replied. I could tell he was miffed, so I backed off. I didn’t want to get shot prying something from a guy who didn’t want to give it, especially one who had the reach of Saurus.
“That’s all I wanted, just to know what was going on. I’ll contact you again if there’s anything else or if we find out exactly what happened.” I said.

“Actually, there was one more thing,” Saurus interrupted, sitting up a bit straigter. “Dickie was very paranoid about being chased down by the police or others. He had delusions of being followed and killed in alleys…in hindsight I suppose they weren’t delusions…he spoke about a stash of survival supplies and personal items he had hidden, and he made sure to let me know where they were in the event of his disappearance. There’s a city called Cloverdale that was destroyed by a wildfire some years back. It’s been abandoned ever since the fire, but the roads were cleared not long after the fire, so it’s still accessible. Dickie said his stash was, as he described it, “hidden in a house on the nose of a cul-de-sac”. I don’t know where the city is, but I assume it’s somewhere close by. If that stash is still there, it might help you in your investigation. I don’t have any interest in what’s there since it’s probably all drug-related, and I can’t afford to get involved in that mess.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. I appreciate your help.”
“My pleasure. I hope you enjoyed your visit to Solarside. Come back if you have property to buy or sell – maybe move out of that drug-infested Sacramento, right?”
“I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t a shithole.” I quipped.
"You can only talk rubbish if you're aware of knowledge." ~Karl Pilkington
"**** it, it's late. Change it later." ~Me and Teddy

coinsruledude
Posts: 14906
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Re: If I Stand, We Fall (IC)

Postby coinsruledude » Sat Apr 08, 2017 2:53 am

Omar: 8

[Sunday, November 2nd, 2025 – 2:09 PM]

After getting Dickie’s gold coins back – it took a few minutes to convince Saurus to return my evidence – I got in my car and drove to the College of Southern Nevada, which I happened to pass while bumbling my way through the city on my way to Solarside Estate. The hidden stash of supplies became my top priority, but I needed to figure out where Cloverdale used to be, so the college’s library seemed to be a good place to start. The campus was small – just a handful of main buildings and a few smaller surrounding ones – but it was apparently the only operating university in Henderson, so I figured it must’ve had some resources available to the public. Lots of cars were present in the parking lot, so I just plopped mine down in an empty row and walked into the building with ‘library’ on a sign out front. Nobody greeted me when I entered, so I just walked inside and wandered around on my own until I found the library. Having searched for maps and atlases in a similar way before, I knew they were in Dewey-Decimal number 912. I found the section on the first floor hidden away in a corner, but it only took a few minutes after that to find what I wanted.

I unfolded a map of Nevada on a vacant wooden table nearby and started tracing the highways, looking for the city of Cloverdale. Luckily Nevada was sparsely populated even before the apocalypse, so it didn’t take long to exhaust my options there. Finding nothing, I moved on to a large, two-page map of the state of California. Dickie lived in Sacramento, so I started searching in a radius out of the city along major highways, going farther each time until I got fed up at finding nothing. I started checking further out and stumbled on Cloverdale by accident. The city was just over a hundred miles west of Sacramento and less than fifty miles north of Santa Rosa. Nothing that the city was on Route 101, I started sketching a map of the city on my notepad, marking which areas matched the description Saurus gave to me for the location of the stash. I couldn’t very well take the maps with me because they belonged to the school, so my quick little drawings of streets and their names would have to do. I made a plan to go there, get the stash, and be in bed by midnight.

Before I left Las Vegas, though, I wanted to see what the old Las Vegas strip looked like in person. I read about it a bit before leaving Sacramento, and although it sounded run-down, curiosity got the better of me. I didn’t get the opportunity to travel much before the apocalypse, and after the zombies appeared, it was clearly not an option to visit landmarks for fun, so I figured it would be a cool experience now that I had the luxuries of free time and some money. It wasn’t hard to figure out where to go since there were old signs pointing out the directions everywhere. East Tropicana Avenue brought me all the way to the McCarran Airport. From the way garbage started to pile up as I got closer, I expected the Strip to be a ghetto similar to Outer Vegas, but it ended up being worse somehow. Every building was completely looted and burnt out, including the grand casinos and hotels. Windows were smashed out on every single one of the high-rises, making them look like utter trash. Fragments of sofas, beds, and end tables littered the roads and sideways at the foot of the buildings, as if furniture being thrown from the once-luxurious buildings was a common occurrence. As I drove deeper into the nightmare of a neighborhood, people started to take notice of me, and when several started wandering close to my car as I slowed down at a stop sign, I just ignored the rest of them. The roads were poorly maintained and very, very few vehicles were driving around. Most of the people on the roads were pedestrians walking down the middle of the street or huddled around hobo fires in metal cans in intersections, burning whatever scraps of wood and paper they could find.

Within a few minutes I came upon the Bellagio and its iconic fountains, but the water in the pool was brown and dozens of rusting car husks were haphazardly crashed into the water at regular intervals, probably from people trying to dispose of bodies. Speaking of bodies, not long after leaving the Bellagio behind in disgust, I witnessed two grungy-looking men get shot down near Caeser’s Palace by another group of men wielding pistols. I couldn’t drive away because the incident occurred right in the road ahead, so I hopped a curb to pull off a U-turn. The shooting seemed to spark unrest similar to a riot within a few seconds, and almost immediately the focus was on me, being the only vehicle driving for blocks. Raggedy-looking people clad in torn clothes and wielding bats and pipes started approaching my car as I tried to drive in the opposite direction. I honked and revved my engine in an attempt to get them away from me, but it got to the point where I almost had to pull out my pistol. One of the people punched out my right rear view mirror and another snapped off my antenna, and that was all the warning I needed to snap into escape mode. I floored it and bumped a dozen people aside as they beat on my car, eventually pulling north onto the Las Vegas Freeway after the encounter, almost hitting a few people standing around in the middle of the eight-lane road as I gained speed. Sacramento didn’t have bums so brazen that, even if the worst parts of the city. Overall I was pretty shaken up and very disappointed with my detour, so I got my mind back to the murder cases. The last thing I saw on my way out of the hellhole was Trump International Hotel, standing all on its own on the northern tip of the strip. It had been ravaged just like the rest of the high-rises, the golden exterior shattered periodically by missing windows and discoloration from age and neglect.

[Monday, November 3rd, 2025 – 6:30 AM]

I didn’t make as good time on the road as I expected, so I was forced to spend the night in a motel in Santa Rosa. I got out early in the morning and came upon Cloverdale’s ruins just before sunrise. It was raining heavily, so unfortunately I was going to be forced to wade through it.

Everything looked normal, just another stretch of highway in Cascadia, until I noticed scorch marks on the concrete ahead, and suddenly I entered another world. Cloverdale had plenty of fields directly east of the city, but they had all been burnt out by the wildfires, leaving charred remnants with grass just barely starting to grow back to cover the soot and charcoal. The blackened area stretched for what seemed like miles on either side of the highway. A forest rose out of the ground to the west of the city; some plants were successfully returning to the devastated area, but the endless black skeletons of trees that stood on the hills were still eerie.

The landscape being burnt up was bad enough, but I could see why no one returned to Cloverdale. Every building in the city – which was probably big enough for ten thousand people – had been destroyed by the raging wildfire. Most were burned to the ground, leaving piles of rubble in their place, but a few wooden frames and brick walls stubbornly stood tall here and there. Roofs caved in onto the foundations and made plenty of the old buildings unlivable and barred entry into them, which hopefully made my job easier since I assumed Dickie wouldn’t hide a stash in a flattened mess. What didn’t make my job easy was the state of the roads. The main stretch of Route 101 was clear all the way through the city, sure, but that was the end of what the government did to help. All of the side roads had rubble blocking them from fallen houses. As I looked through my sketches from the map and oriented myself with what I saw in reality, I came to the conclusion that I had to ditch my car and continue on foot. I pulled it as far down a side street as I could, trying to keep it out of sight from the main road just in case any scavengers came through and wanted it for some easy money. I slung my Uzi onto my back and reminded myself to keep an eye out for zombies. The West Coast was basically purified of the living corpses, but rare wandering zombies could’ve infiltrated and gotten caught up in the abandoned city since Cloverdale hadn’t been occupied for so long. Before getting searching, I rolled up my sleeves and tucked my pants into my socks to keep my clothing contained so it didn’t get stained black – what a day to wear a nice white shirt. Luckily it had been a long time since the fires, so that combined with the heavy rain meant the air was clear and I wasn’t going to inhale a bunch of toxic fumes and dust from the burned town.

Unfortunately, many street signs had been burned up and melted, the paint peeling and becoming unreadable. Only a few remained, so I had to follow my sketches bit by bit to figure out where I was. The first possible hiding spot I came to, a court located in the southwestern corner of the city, had no standing buildings, which turned me away immediately. I poked around for a bit, not finding any nooks where a person could hide anything of value. Dickie could’ve dug a hole and buried it for all I knew, but I hoped he just threw everything in a box and shoved it in a corner or something else simple. If not, then I’d have to leave empty-handed with absolute jack **** for the third murder in a row.

I dug through five more collapsed houses on two other streets, pushing over a few fallen beams and struggling to flip overturned bins and bookcases, searching for anything I could possibly find. As I worked, getting thoroughly soaked in the process, my mind kept drifting back to Saurus. Connecting Dickie to him was unexpected, but I wasn’t sure it gave me anything new to work with. If I found the stash, the real estate mogul might be able to help me decipher the contents. I would have to return to Henderson regardless in order to question the contractors who worked with Dickie. I needed witnesses. I needed people who knew him. I needed something besides his pocket change and dead body.

The third street I checked had only one obvious candidate for searching. It was one of the few structures with four standing walls, of which there weren’t many. I was wary of entering, not wanting it anything to fall on top of me, but I took the risk and entered anyway. The front door had been burnt to ashes, along with the windows and most furniture inside. Interior walls were mostly gone as well, with only thick wooden timbers and a few metal pipes holding everything together inside. Tiles and gutters were strewn all throughout the house due to the roof collapsing down into the living area of the single-story home. The floor creaked and cracked as I walked. Because the fire ate through most things in the house, there weren’t many places to check for a stash. I could make out the remnants of a couch that had been burnt down to the feet and a flat-screen TV lying flat on its screen, but nowhere to hide supplies. Eventually I got to the kitchen, which had several large holes in the walls where windows used to be. Cabinets had been burnt open and old cans of food and glass bottles of condiments were visible inside the charred husks, the heat causing them to pop open and shatter. The oven was mostly intact, and on a whim I tried yanking it open to check it for the stash, but I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. The fire warped the metal and sealed it shut permanently. The refrigerator was lying on the floor on its side, so I yanked it open as well. I was greeted with a bulging green backpack sitting upright inside among a few empty shelves. After looking through the deserted city alone for over two hours, at that moment I felt like I had won the lottery. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it, knowing in my heart that Dickie had placed it there however long ago it was that he came to Cloverdale. Although it could be considered a bit morbid to wear a dead man’s backpack, especially since I was investigating his murder, I quickly put it on my shoulders, shifting my Uzi to my front.

“Don’t move. Leave that right where it is,” a voice said, startling me. I heard the recognizable sound of a revolver hammer being pulled back from behind me. “Put your hands on your head now or you’ll die right here.”
I obliged, not seeing a way out of the situation. I hoped it was just scavengers, but when I turned around I was face-to-face with Saurus’s brother. Niran was holding the revolver, and he was accompanied by a thin black teenager. I didn’t recognize him, but I recognized the message he was giving me by pointing a sawn-off shotgun at my chest from across the kitchen. Both of them were wet from the rain, but nowhere near as soaked as I was.

“I take it Saurus wants this stash.” I asked in shock.
“This isn’t about the supplies. It’s about meddling with us, our people, and our operations in Henderson. Your people in law enforcement are not welcome there, especially ones from other trade states. Someone should’ve warned you before you started poking around where you shouldn’t be, but it’s too late for that now.”
“I’m not, and I never was, after you or Saurus or anything or anyone in Henderson. I didn’t even know Dickie was related to you until Saurus told me what he told me. I was just going off the marks of those coins. Everything you’re doing it perfectly legal.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Niran insisted, lowering his gun. The shotgun remained pointed at me, so I couldn’t make a move. “Police investigations from other trade states? That’s a red flag. We don’t need a bunch of controversy in our cities or our properties over this, and we don’t need Death Valley’s authorities poking around either, getting ideas…we can’t deal with them as easy as we can deal with you.”
“So you’re going to kill a detective? A cop? You don’t think people know where I went? If they didn’t have a reason before, they would when I’m dead.”
“You never even got to see Saurus. No one saw you in Henderson or Death Valley at all. Your car is going to be stripped of useful components and pushed into the middle of the miles of gridlock outside Phoenix, never to be seen again, just like you.”
“You are going to kill me then. You don’t have to… ”
“No, I said I’m not going to. There’s a lot of labor to be done in Mexico, in Oregon, in the Eastern Republic. That’ll be what kills you, not me.” Niran replied. I figured that being sold into slavery would be slightly better than being shot on sight, but only marginally. My mind was racing, trying to figure out an escape route.

“What would it take for you not to do that?” I asked. I was still reeling and barely able to think clearly. Getting caught off-guard so badly was completely unlike me, so I was flustered.
“It would take a lot more than you can offer, I guarantee you.”
“What about those gold coins I have from Dickie? Yours. My car? Go ahead and have that too. Have the stash of **** on my back. I have tons of money locked away that I can get to you. I’ll get it in your hands before lunch. Untraceable, clean cash. I’ll pay it if you let me go. Just name an amount.” I offered.
“One hundred thousand.”
“…Name a smaller amount.”
“Enough. Don’t move. We’re going to take off your guns and handcuff you, and you’re going to stand still and not make a sound.” Niran stated, raising his revolver again. He and the black teen started walking forward, and I took stepped back until I was pressed against a wall. As the pair walked towards me, audible cracking could be heard from the space between us. We all glanced down a split second before the floor, as damaged by flames and eroded by years of weather as it was, fell out below us from the sudden combined weight of three men and an overturned fridge.

I didn’t even know there was a basement in the house until I was swimming in it. The lower floor had been flooded by the night’s rain, leaving two feet of stagnant water in the concrete box we landed in. We all landed hard from the drop. Boards and tiles continued to rain down through the hole for a few seconds, so after I landed I pushed myself up against the wall as flat as I could and protected my head from the debris. I could feel pain in my right ankle from my landing, but I didn’t have time to think about that. I flicked my Uzi’s safety off and racked the slide as the last bits of wood swung down and splashed into the basement. The refrigerator landed doors-down between me and my two attackers, and I quickly took cover behind it. A few revolver shots hit the concrete wall behind me, and I could hear the black teen screaming, but I couldn’t see what was happening to cause his pain. More creaking and cracking could be heard from upstairs, except much louder than when the floor fell out. The outer kitchen wall, no longer getting support from the floor, severed under its own weight about five feet off the ground and fell outward, crashing down outside the house and luckily not on top of my exposed head. During the commotion I peeked around the refrigerator and saw Niran helping the black teen to his feet; he had been impaled through the side by a short piece of wood with a fist-sized diameter, which probably came from the basement ceiling.

Niran fired at me again, successfully keeping my head down for a few seconds. I fired several shots back in his direction, hitting him in the left arm twice and causing him to drop his companion. Having literally no cover at all since the basement was one big square room, he retreated to the basement stairs, which were clear of rubble and led back to the first floor. I kept firing until it was obvious he was gone, but then I nearby had my head taken off by a shotgun blast from floor level. I fired twice into the black teen’s head, having no choice but to kill him or be killed. I quickly grabbed the weapon from his body and ran to the stairs, letting my Uzi hang from its sling while I readied the shotgun, seeing it as the better weapon for such a close-quarters situation.

“Niran! This doesn’t have to go down with any more death! Drop it!” I yelled. I got no response. Before the rest of the house fell in on me, I rushed outside with my mind in a complete blur. Niran was nowhere to be found, but when I ran back to my car, I caught a glimpse of a green Camero peeling away, standing out comically in all the black and brown charred city ruins. My car was still there, but I didn’t care to think about how lucky I was that I was alive, free, and had transportation. Regardless of whether Niran got away or not, I knew there would be hell to pay since I wasn’t incapacitated like Saurus wanted. I couldn’t think of detailed reasons why, but I had a big red target on my back to complement Dickie’s stash – if it was his stash at all and not just a setup in the first place.
"You can only talk rubbish if you're aware of knowledge." ~Karl Pilkington
"**** it, it's late. Change it later." ~Me and Teddy

coinsruledude
Posts: 14906
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Re: If I Stand, We Fall (IC)

Postby coinsruledude » Mon May 08, 2017 9:26 pm

Harmony Redux: 2

[Sunday, September 16th, 2012 – 6:14 AM]

“Mommy.”
Harmony started pushing on her mom’s shoulder to wake her up. Eventually Janet stirred and opened her eyes to Harmony’s face staring back at her. Janet let Harmony sleep with her after the power outage spooked her; the power flicked on and off for a few hours before staying out for good around four in the morning.
“Hello, little alarm clock,” Janet yawned. “What is it?”
“I peed the bed.”
“For ****’s sake,” Janet muttered. She looked over and saw a slight yellow spot on the bed next to her, evidence of Harmony’s ongoing problem. She had been potty trained for a few years, but she had accidents way too often. “Go wait in the bathroom.”
Janet spent a few minutes cleaning Harmony and getting the sheets off the bed before waking Quentin, who was asleep on the living room couch. He woke with a start before calming down and immediately pulling on his boots, which were sitting on the floor next to the couch where he had kicked them off the night before.

“I’m going to the gas station on the corner to get last-minute supplies.” he said.
“And just leave us alone in the middle of a crisis? Don’t we have enough?”
“No, we don’t. Tell Harmony where we’re going and get her ready.”
“Okay, fine. She peed the bed again.”
“For ****’s sake. I can’t be fucked with the **** sheets right now. I should’ve gotten up earlier…get her ready to go before I get home, because we’re leaving right when I get home whether you’re ready or not.” Quentin ordered. He was out the door in a matter of minutes, leaving Janet to deal with Harmony. She got Harmony dressed and got her started on breakfast before telling her the plan.

“Harmony, we’re going somewhere special today. Did you know that?”
“No, where are we going?”
“We’re going camping at Glacier View.”
“Camping?” Harmony said, getting excited almost immediately at the mention of the campground. Being so young, going camping was like a new experience each time, despite the fact that she had gone multiple times over the course of her short life. Small memories, like seeing a big male pronghorn standing on the edge of the campground or helping Quentin start a fire, came to her quickly and made her forget about everything else.
“We just need to pack your clothes and then we can go when Dad gets back,” Janet said, smiling. She pushed her daughter’s long hair out of her face and behind her ear. “I need you to help me pack what you want to take.”

Harmony quickly got dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and jeans, which her mom picked out for her to wear, and after she finished her bowl of cereal at the kitchen table, she and Janet went through her room and packed clothes in a small suitcase and her chosen toys in another smaller backpack she could carry herself. After the essentials were packed, Janet left Harmony to debate which toys to grab and went to pack herself, but after finding her own suitcase missing, she searched for it and found it already packed in the garage, along with Quentin’s. Instead of griping about which clothes her husband had packed for her, she decided it was more important to clear the house of food. She loaded some plastic bags and stored them in the garage, filling them with what canned food and bottled drinks they had in the house. She also made sure to pack a bag of marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars in anticipation of his daughter’s desire for s’mores. Eventually the cabinets started to look bare, giving Janet a bit of anxiety. She remembered the days when all the cabinets were normally sitting empty.

After the kitchen was dealt with, she started going through the bedroom closet, which had the family’s safe and photo albums. Janet grabbed the hard drive that contained her wedding video and most of their home movies and Harmony’s baby pictures, and then she grabbed the old leather-bound album that had older pictures of her family and Quentin’s. She took a moment to flip through it, finding herself overwhelmed as she tried to determine what was worth taking from their home and what wasn’t. Lots of their personal stuff was sitting in a storage unit one city over, paid for by Janet’s parents until their daughter got a bigger house, but Janet had a feeling Quentin didn’t care about retrieving or moving any of it. She heard the door open not long after she opened the album.

“Hi Daddy,” Harmony’s muffled voice said. “Did you know we’re going camping today–”
“Janet!” Quentin’s voice yelled. “Let’s go!”
In a flurry of packing, swearing, and rearranging, Quentin and Janet stuffed what supplies they could into the back of the Tahoe. Quentin went and bought a few hundred dollars’ worth of food and water from the gas station, which he packed into plastic bins he had waiting in the garage, which were then hitched down on the roof of the SUV. Harmony was squeezed between bags of food and her own bag of toys in the back seat before the family pulled out of the driveway, dragging the trailer along with them.
“Do we have everything?” Janet asked.
“I doubt it, but we can’t sit around anymore. Things are bad. The gas station was absolutely stripped. I bought like twenty dollars of ketchup because there was nothing else.”
“Well then why waste the money?”
“Money might not be worth anything in six months, so I might as well buy **** with it now.”

~

Forty minutes later, Quentin pulled the Tahoe up to one of the pumps at a Chevron station in Horseshoe Bend, one of the last semi-populated settlements the family would pass through on their way to the campsite. The trailer blocked a second pump, but he didn’t care. He stepped out of the vehicle after parking it and began filling the SUV’s large gas tank with gasoline. They had been on the road for under an hour, but he hadn’t filled up in days and needed to top off the tank.

“Bullshit.” he said to himself, looking at the price of gas. It had been hovering around $3.75 for a few weeks, which was pricey as hell when you drove an SUV. Gas was a necessity for him as a mechanic and Janet as someone who commuted to work in Meridian from their home in Boise every single day. As he grumbled to himself, he noticed a man in the far distance walking from the south towards the gas station, hunched over dejectedly.
“Guy had his car break down in the middle of nowhere.” he thought. After the gas tank filled up, he proceeded into the store to buy some beer for the campsite while Janet stayed with Harmony in the Tahoe.
“So are you excited to go camping?” Janet asked her daughter.
“Yes! I…mommy, I can’t wait...” Harmony replied. It was clear the girl was ecstatic. She had already talked for a large portion of the ride about how she was going to show all her birthday toys the campsite, how excited she was to be going out in the forest with all the tress, and on and on about what she wanted to do. Janet couldn’t help but smile. Seeing her daughter rambling on so happily offset the potentially danger they were facing.
As Quentin walked outside with a case of beer, shoving his change into his jeans’ pocket as he walked, the man who had been walking down the highway entered the gas station property, walking in between two parked cars in order to get closer to the gas pumps. Strangely, he bumped up against the cars as he moved through the gap between their mirrors, as if he were about to faint, which made Quentin turn his full attention to the man. His skin was a grayish color and his eyes were extremely bloodshot, as if he had popped blood vessels somewhere near his retinas. His hands were mangled and twisted in vicious, painful-looking ways, but he didn’t seem to notice. He opened his mouth and let out a loud, growling moan as he slowly approached Quentin.

“Oh my God, what happened to you?” Quentin asked, backpedaling away from the man, who persisted in following him. “Was there a wreck? Are you alright?” The man didn’t reply with words. He simply kept moaning, drawing the attention of other people going about their business at the gas station, including the rest of Quentin’s family. One of the chubby gas station attendants took notice of the situation and rushed outside after telling his coworker to call an ambulance.

“Sir, are you alright?” the attendant asked. He approached the sickly man, who suddenly turned and lunged. He dragged the man to the ground and started biting at his face and neck. The attendant held his attacker back with his forearms and started yelling for help, so Quentin dropped his beer and grabbed the attacker’s shoulders, attempting to restrain him. Before more onlookers could intervene, the attendant’s arms weakened and failed to hold back the figure atop him. The sick man opened his mouth and locked his teeth onto the attendant’s neck, making him scream in agony. After blood was drawn, the other customers who had congregated near the scene fled in different directions, some into their cars and others into the store. Quentin let go of the man’s shoulders, grabbed his beer, and fled back to the gas pumps, not prepared for such violence out of the blue. The attendant stopped struggling as the man sitting on top of him continued biting his neck and chest multiple times, causing a small pool of blood to puddle up on the pavement. Several cars peeled away from the gas station, including the Tahoe.
“What happened? Are we going to call the police?” Janet asked, not comprehending exactly what she saw.
“Cell phones don’t **** work anymore,” Quentin snapped, shaken from the random assault. They reached twenty-five over the posted speed limit before he forced himself to slow down. “Someone else will call.”
“What happened?” Harmony asked. She didn’t see anything, but she did hear the screaming.
“Nothing, honey,” Janet replied. “Just somebody at the gas station being crazy. He was probably on something.”
"You can only talk rubbish if you're aware of knowledge." ~Karl Pilkington
"**** it, it's late. Change it later." ~Me and Teddy

coinsruledude
Posts: 14906
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:36 pm
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Re: If I Stand, We Fall (IC)

Postby coinsruledude » Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:55 am

Omar: 9

I retreated to my car and waited for the post-fight adrenaline to die down. I was unsure if there were more people accompanying Niran, so I had to assume I was in immediate danger. I retreated to one of the fallen houses nearby and hid in a nook created by two former walls that was little more than just a corner. I stayed there for another half hour, my weapons at the ready, but eventually I became confident there was nobody else around. Raindrops slowly stopped falling over time, and the only sounds I could hear were customary to associate with the forest – no engines, no gunfire, no talking.

I returned to Dickie’s stash house to check on Niran’s companion after leaving my hidey-hole. Unsurprisingly he was still there. I had definitely shot him dead, but I wanted to verify that fact. I also wanted to search his body to see if he had anything that might give me more insight into what the hell I was be dealing with. As far as I could tell from turning out his pockets, he was expecting an easy confrontation with me, since he wasn’t carrying any ammo besides the shells that were loaded in his shotgun. No notes, no phone, no wallet, nothing. It was probably all in Niran’s car. With nothing else to gain in Cloverdale, I left the house and returned to my car. I immediately started the drive home to Sacramento in my soaking, soot-stained clothes.

Checking the body sparked all kinds of new problematic thoughts. Should I write about getting jumped in my report? Should I tell anybody that I shot someone dead during the shootout? Should I directly finger Niran, and by extension Saurus, as the ones who attacked me? Niran must’ve left Vegas at around the same time I did in order to catch me in Cloverdale, and he must’ve known where the stash of supplies was hidden. I was being monitored from the moment I left the estate. It was green-lit by Saurus. It was premeditated. It scared the **** out of me. The attack on an officer of the law was enough to take them down, but I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that I was being targeted. I wasn’t dealing with dumbasses, and they already hunted me down once, so I assumed they would do it again if I kept pushing in their direction. Rather poke the beehive with a stick even more, I considered omitting the altercation with Niran from my written reports – everything else from my trip would be fair game, but I would conveniently leave out the violence and threat of enslavement. The body in the basement would be skeletonized before anyone found it since Cloverdale was so far removed from the rest of Eureka’s population, so it wouldn’t be tied back to me, and I doubted Niran would place himself at the scene in order to finger me as the killer. Falsifying reports, though, was obviously illegal, and since my doing so would be covering up violent crimes, it would be especially illegal.

I mulled over my options for the entire drive, not convinced of which route to take. One would give me a chance at peace with Saurus if I just broke a few laws and put my job in jeopardy, and the other would likely ignite a federal investigation into him and his little city-wide empire. Until I started writing my report at the station – having changed into fresh clothes at home first – I was unsure, but with pen to paper, it became easier to decide. Everything that happened in reality was written in my report. Every detail I could remember was documented with the small, small exception of Niran’s name. I left out that I recognized him, but I described his physical features, his car, and exactly what he said to me with the tiny, insignificant omission of anything mentioning Saurus by name, although I left in the fact that real estate was involved. If anybody decided that it was worth investigating, then so be it – we would go to war with Saurus. If not, then I hoped those in Vegas who wanted my blood understood that I wouldn’t be showing my face again, if not for the only reason of keeping my own head down and not getting shot at. In the end I was able to write a truthful report and not directly implicate the brothers in Vegas, which would hopefully keep them away.

With a lot of paperwork to left do, I figured I would finally search the bag and be done with the whole situation. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of cocaine and marijuana in there. It was all in unidentifiable bags, so it couldn’t be traced. A sizable collection of gold coins was present as well, all marked with a screwdriver in the same way as the others found on Dickie’s person. Survival supplies filled the rest of the space. It was barely enough to last one person for a few days, but it was enough for a bug-out situation. I didn’t bother going through the nonperishable canned food and bottles of water in detail since none of it was really valuable to me. I just shifted it around a bit to see if there was anything hidden underneath. Then I checked the last pocket and I found, among a pair of folded jeans and a raincoat, a spiral-bound notebook and a red pen. When I opened the front cover, the first page was titled, “People Who **** Owe Me Money”. At least Dickie was making things blatant.

Subsequent pages were covered in the profiles of a handful of individuals. Dickie had compiled addresses of homes and businesses, phone numbers, names of known associates, number of children, physical features like hair and eye color, spouses and all the information about them – I even found a few actual pictures of people that had been printed out. Unsettled was the best word to describe what I was reading. Dickie was clearly stalking these people and gathering as much information on them as he could so he could use it against them in what I had to assume was murder or a hired hit. I knew he was a criminal, but I didn’t think he was crazy. Then I noticed another thing he had been recording – “Amount Owed”. After a twenty-minute spout of quick research, I identified three of the people as owners of contracting companies based out of Death Valley and southern Junction. Clearly these were the people Dickie had been stiffed by while working for them – the same people Saurus had refused to put me in contact with. Dickie’s motive for gathering the information was monetary.

Unfortunately for me, most of the people were based around Vegas, and I had just mentally banned myself from Vegas, so I couldn’t show my face to them. I could’ve sent Kevin, but I didn’t want him hurt or worse because I wanted to leave things be in that area. I made the educated decision to ignore the list of contacts because, even if the contractors weren’t hired by the same hostile real estate mogul who didn’t want police presence around him, they wouldn’t tell me anything. Dickie was killed hundreds of miles away from them and they had no reason to suspect anything. Ultimately Saurus was right. His stepbrother was a junkie grunt who swept up broken glass and dragged in clean furniture. The chance of his killer somehow being connected to one of his bosses was infinitely small. Still, I kept the paper and put it in as evidence along with everything else. Maybe it would be helpful one day, but not today and not tomorrow and not any day after that from what I could see. Of course, the implication of not contacting any of the people who owed Dickie pay also meant that Dickie’s case was, after just a few days, as dead as he was.

“Kevin,” I said loudly, hoping he was at his cubicle, which was connected to mine. “You coming to the Shatterback tonight?”
“Hopefully normal time. Maybe eight if I’m late.”
“Good. I need a drink or six.”

[Monday, November 3rd, 2025 – 7:36 PM]

Drinking night started off just like they all did, with me and Foster arriving together and Kevin showing up a bit later. We ordered our respective drinks and drugs and appetizers, and I quietly recounted the brief story of my conflict to my friends. They both sat and ate while they listened. We were sat mostly alone, so I wasn’t so concerned with the potential to leak information out to strangers at the bar. Also, I just needed to get it off my chest.

“Jesus Christ, Omar,” Kevin said. “That’s exactly why you don’t do that **** alone.”
“I didn’t think I was doing anything that warranted being followed and held at gunpoint.”
“Doesn’t matter which city you’re in, the rule stays the same,” Foster said, lightly slapping a chubby hand on the table. “Never **** around with the landowning bastards. They have the biggest heads and shortest fuses of anyone in this **** country.”
“Hey, I couldn’t control **** in that situation. I thought this guy was a nobody! I wasn’t even expecting to get anything!”
“Then why go at all?”
“To be thorough.”
“Thoroughly fucked, is what you mean,” Foster said. “You walked away and one of them didn’t, though, so ****, that’s a win in my book.”
“Will you push for the feds?” Kevin asked, taking the situation a bit more seriously than Foster. “We can’t do anything about them here.”
“I probably won’t.”
“Just gonna let them get away with it?”
“Yeah, probably. Worse **** has happened to me, so I’ll drop it if it means it stops.”

“If I were you, I’d hire one of the militias to look into it. I have a friend of a friend who’s a member of one of those organizations. The military contractors, you know. They’ll sort out that guy real **** quick.” Foster said. I rejected that idea quickly too. Having the military deal with Saurus sounded like a good idea, but there was no way I had the resources or the influence to get them on board. Maybe if the entire police department went all-out, we might be able to hire a few guys to scope out Solarside Estate, but it would be for nothing. I knew Saurus had a few dozen men at his residence alone, and they looked like the Secret Service, so I wasn’t convinced it would end well for anybody if I started a merc conflict with him. Saurus could pay more people to fight than I could, obviously, and that wasn’t even to mention that it might get the feds involved anyway, except against me. Domestic disputes like that could get out of hand fast and Eureka seriously didn’t need more internal strife with Oregon to the north, so trying a citizen’s arrest of a major landowner with help from the military was a no-no.
"You can only talk rubbish if you're aware of knowledge." ~Karl Pilkington
"**** it, it's late. Change it later." ~Me and Teddy


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