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» Business as Usual [Open]
Sun Mar 09 2014, 21:11 by Guest


    Business as Usual [Open]

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    Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Wed Feb 12 2014, 20:11

    The click-clack of hard soles on the metal rails echoed down the dusty concrete tunnel, reminiscent of the train wheels that had not turned in who knew how long. Out of the tunnel, walking precariously on the old rail, was Barlow Gates. His big arms swung about to keep balance. If someone were to look Barlow up and down, they'd characterize him as a hard-edged wanderer with a chip on his shoulder who'd seen the very worst of the wasteland, somebody who carried a lot of pain. They'd say he was a dangerous, lonely man. The quiet type. Yet here he was, trying not to fall off the rail and smiling. He looked less like a dangerous man and more like a kid who'd been stretched out too much. He hopped off the rail and hefted his canvas messenger bag onto the platform. He looked away for a moment, and when he looked back, a pair of prying eyes were scanning his bag, and bony fingers were reaching out for it, but when the prying eyes met his, the fingers stopped. His eyes weren't filled with anger or malice or ferocity or hate, but they sent a powerful message nonetheless. Or maybe it was just the fact that he was a big man and had a propensity to be scarier than he intended. Either way, the eyes turned away and the fingers stayed neatly folded inside empty burlap pockets as Barlow pulled himself up onto the platform.

    He looked around and took in the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of the Bazaar. It was the lifeblood of Metro-Polis and the hub of his business. He dropped off a few packages and messages along his zig-zag through the Bazaar. Most of the recipients were long-time clients and greeted him with open arms, including a woman twice his size who payed him for the delivery with a 'fresh' bowl of baked beans, which she knew he loved.

    "Evenin', Mr. Quire," he said cheerfully, walking up to the counter of one of the more trustworthy barter stations, and the one he knew the best.

    "Barlow!" the old owner exclaimed, coming to meet him at the counter, "Still haven't dropped dead out there, I see."

    "Not yet, sir." Barlow chuckled.

    "Whatdaya got for me today, son?"

    Barlow put his bag on the counter and laid out a few old trinkets, a pocket mirror, and a set of guitar strings which, as far as he could tell, were still functional. The owner looked over the collection and looked up at Barlow with a souring expression as he said, "Ya know ya got a crap job, right son?"

    "It's all I need," Barlow replied happily, "And it's a job people need done."

    "Alright," the owner shrugged, "What can I get ya?"

    Barlow pointed to the shelf behind him. "That pair of socks."

    "Barlow, we don't come by a fresh set of socks every day."

    "I certainly don't. That's why I need 'em."

    "Okay, but it'll cost all of this junk. And then some."

    "Fine by me." Barlow let the owner take all of his scavenged treasures and a few ticket stubs he had made finishing deliveries earlier. He gave his regards to the owner and his family and went on his way.

    He kept wandering through the Bazaar until he saw another familiar face and called out, "Sima!"

    A young woman with sunken eyes and lice-ridden, short black hair turned and her bony face lit up at the sight of him. She ran over, weaving through the crowd. The child in her arms naturally found its way into Barlow's embrace, and he looked down at the little one with a bright, genuine smile on his face, but a sadness began to build underneath. He could see that the baby was hungry, and so was the mother.

    Sima asked him about his travels, and he asked her about life in the tunnels. She wanted to know how long he'd be in town, but he couldn't answer. Instead, he asked the same question he'd asked when he last came through Metro-Polis, "Any sign of the little guy's father?"

    Her heavy eyelids fell shut. "He's still missing."

    "Don't worry," Barlow whispered, putting a warm hand on her shoulder, "He's only lived down here for a year. People get lost in the tunnels. It happens. We'll find him." He opened his bag. "Here," he said, "I found this on the way over."

    He pulled out a silver bracelet adorned with shimmering, glass-like crystals. Sima's eyes opened wide, catching the glow of the crystals in the dim light. "Are those...?" she trailed off, too astonished to finish her question.

    "I think so," Barlow answered, keeping the bracelet concealed from the crowd, "But even if they're not, it's gotta be worth a couple cans, maybe even some fresh bread." He placed it in her palm and folded her hand shut around it. "Keep it hidden and make your way to Quire's. Hurry."

    "What? Barlow, do you realize what this is? You're giving away a LOT of--"

    "I know what I'm doing. Look, I've got more than enough to get by. It's better off with you. Take good care of the little guy." Sima nodded and backed away. "Take care of yourself, too!" he exclaimed over the crowd. She waved to him with water welling in her eyes. He smiled and walked to an open space on the wall. He sat down between a fortune teller and a hat vendor with his bag out front and a paper sign advertising his carrying services. His feet were aching from days of travel, and he had delivered the last of his packages. It was time to rest, lighten his load, and ply his wares all over again before trekking back out into the wasteland.

    It was business as usual in Metro-Polis.

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Thu Feb 13 2014, 00:34

    Through the crowd ahead of him Barlow could see parts of the crowd being pushed apart, likely someone making their way through the busy area. Once the person got through he could see it was a blonde haired man, a sword at his side and revolver at the other, along with a green bag on his back, looking like an opportune adventurer needing supplies. He looked rather seasoned but at the same time seemed a bit young and impressionable.

    Frosty squinted his eyes as he seeing the vendors by the wall, nothing he needed majorly until he saw Barlow's advertising sign, a small smile appearing on his face. He starts heading towards him before tripping on a bit of rubble on the ground landing on a knee and his hands in front of his vendor spot. He quickly recovers by pulling off his bag and placing it down in front of him looking at Barlow with a smile "Oh uh, hey! Sorry for that... wasn't looking right.", he opens his bag reaching in for his tickets, a bit of dirt covering his face looking like he was just in a scrap. He looks back at Barlow with another smile "You er, got any water to sell? I just came back from a trip and my throat feels like it'll collapse."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Thu Feb 13 2014, 16:15

    Barlow didn't notice the young man in the crowd until he tripped. His first instinct was to get up and help, but the boy seemed to be alright. The weapons told him the boy was accustomed to fending for himself, and the wear and tear he carried from head to toe indicated that he was a new arrival as well. He asked Barlow for some water.

    "Hold on," Barlow answered, rummaging through his supplies and pulling out a battered metal canteen, "No charge. Water's water." He knew nobody trusted a vendor giving something away for free. Nobody trusted anyone giving something away for free. Even with people who knew him, Barlow's generosity was often met with suspicion, hostility, or just plain confusion. Nevertheless, the young man wasn't trying to rob him or trick him. He was being genuine, and Barlow couldn't discourage that behavior in a world where it had become so rare. He stood up to appear at eye level and held out the canteen. "Help yourself, friend."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Thu Feb 13 2014, 17:07

    Frosty gave a warm smile as he took hold of the canteen giving a nod, Barlow could see that he seemed rather trusting even with the short time he just met him with. He raises his head up taking a small drink of it and passes it back to Barlow "Heh, thanks for that man. Name's Frosty, just came out here from the wastes. It's my first time here in Metro-Polis actually."

    He looks into his bag pulling out a smaller bag that had his tickets within them, setting it down on the ground. He looks back at Barlow with a grin, brushing his rough hair back with a hand realising it was covering his forehead "So uh, mind if I ask what you're selling? I just kind of needed some supplies, food and such. I'll pay any price ya got, long as I can afford it."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Thu Feb 13 2014, 19:41

    "I'm a carrier," Barlow replied, sitting back down and placing his canteen back in his bag, "You need a message or a package delivered anywhere in the wastes, I can get it there. I'm not the fastest, Skybornes own that department, but once something goes in my bag, it doesn't come out 'til it's reached its destination. Other people can get it there fast, but they can't promise they won't sell it on the way there. Or let it get stolen. Ask anybody 'round here and they'll tell you I can be trusted. You need anything moved?"

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Thu Feb 13 2014, 20:52

    Frosty nods his head slightly looking like he was pondering something as he put his smaller bag back into his storage. After a few moments he glances behind himself as if checking no one was approaching him then looks back at Barlow "Well all I was looking for was someone to trade with, wasn't sure where else to go. But I guess I don't really need anything moved.", he sighs as he frowns a bit at Barlow "I know it might sound a bit sudden... but, you need any help with traveling? The last group I was with didn't go too well and some people are a bit annoyed. If you can't, then it's fine... in that case I might have something. It's just been a bit dangerous on the road and you might need the help."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Thu Feb 13 2014, 21:05

    "I can take care of myself, but I can always use the company," Barlow replied, taking out his canteen again, pouring some water in his hand, and splashing it on his face, "And, ya know, I also scavenge whatever goods I find along my route. I've already traded everything I found on my way in, but my next trip starts as soon as I get my bag filled up here. You come with me, we can split whatever we find fifty-fifty."

    He stretched out his hand to the young man. It was an old tradition taught to him by his parents, a sign of trust. It required hands empty of all weapons. It required sincerity. Even through dusty gloves and calloused skin, he could tell when someone took his hand with honesty, and they could feel that he had nothing in his heart but the truth. "I'm Barlow, by the way."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 14 2014, 02:29

    Frosty smiles and reaches his gloved hand out shaking it, his grip firm and confident "Thanks, I was kind of worried you were gonna say no there. To be honest I'll just take anything I need to survive, all I need is a bit of company until I get near where I want to go.", he brushes his hair back with a hand again, despite his dirty outlook and obviously having gone through some rough times, his positive outlook seemed like it would never dim.

    He reaches into his bag picking up a loaf of bread that looked somewhat stale, breaking it off in half and taking a bite then holding the other half towards Barlow "I've been off in the wastes for about a year by now. It's been going okay, but I was planning on trying to drop by home or something if we pass around there. Won't hassle you to get there, but I'd like to see how my family is doing and all. You kind of learn to miss them once you've been on the road a while."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 14 2014, 09:56

    "I know the feeling," Barlow replied, graciously accepting the piece of bread. It was stale, but it was better than what he usually ate out on the road. "I got folks all over the wastes I call family. Getting to stop in and see them every now and again is one of the perks to this job. And everywhere I go, my family gets bigger."

    He finished the bread and wiped the crumbs off his hands. There was a pause as he thought about something. Frosty said he had been out there for a year. Even if he couldn't visit the same place twice in one year, Barlow was never away from a major settlement like Metro or Silver Linings for more than a few months. The young man who had been kind enough to share bread with him had been away from not only his home, but any real sort of home for an entire year. "Where, uh... where do you call home, exactly?" Barlow asked.

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 14 2014, 14:08

    Frosty thinks for a moment as he lowers his head towards his bag "Uh... where exactly? Hm, think it was some small town that was about an hour away from that Iron Sea place. But I don't really stay anywhere, I just keep on the move and make camp every now and then. Staying at a settlement never really appeals to me, I just drop by to pick up supplies like now."

    He takes another bite of his bread leaving a couple of crumbs around his mouth then looks at Barlow "There's uh, nothing odd about that, right? I just thought that's what everyone else does out here."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 14 2014, 15:17

    "Nothin' wrong with it, really..." Barlow trailed off and looked into the crowd, smiling at every little interaction between vendors, customers, friends, and strangers, "You just miss out on some great things."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 14 2014, 17:52

    Frosty slowly nods as he looks down at the ground silently, the thought of actually living somewhere other then traveling never really occurred to him, but it seemed like an interesting way to live. He stays silent for a moment then looks back at Barlow with a curious look, speaking out "Hey uh, mister Barlow. If you don't mind me asking... you got a place you call home? I mean, you have a lot of friends like you said, but you sound like you just drift around as well. Is there just that one place you keep coming back to? Or is everywhere just home?"

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 14 2014, 17:59

    Barlow's brow stiffened as he considered the question. He did have a home once, with his family, his mother and father and siblings, but even then, they were nomads. The closest thing he'd ever had to a permanent home was the settlement that took him in when he'd been separated from his group as a boy. He had returned to them several times, but he never stayed anywhere for more than a month. "I don't know," he replied at long last, "Wherever I am, I make that my home... and whoever I find around me is family. That's probably a strange way of seein' things... lotta people I've met certainly think so... but it's just how I am."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Sun Feb 16 2014, 01:32

    Frosty smiles a bit and nods, finishing off his bread and wiping off his mouth "Yeah... I know what you mean. Feels like most of the wasteland is my home. To be honest though, having somewhere to actually stay, I don't know if that's for me.", he sighs as he looks at Barlow "I've uh, ticked off a fair few sides over the last while. Mostly bandits, trying to stop whatever they were doing. Kind of luck I've gotten this far alive, but I've probably got too much heat to settle down anywhere. It's kind of hard to deal with... y'know, the people you can't really call family."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Sun Feb 16 2014, 09:22

    "You ain't kiddin'. When bandits see a carrier all alone in the middle of nowhere, they see a present with a big bow on two legs. Usually, I can keep out of sight, but when I see folks like that hurting other people, I, uh... lose my cover." The carrier chuckled and rubbed the morbidly dark bruise that covered his right shoulder and part of his chest concealed beneath his clothes.

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Sun Feb 16 2014, 19:48

    Frosty sighs a bit as he lowers his head "Yeah I know what you mean all too well. Can't be easy being a carrier from the sounds of it.", he reaches for his bag opening it up and takes out a map, placing it down in front of Barlow. He looks at him curiously before placing a finger on the map keeping it flat "So uh, if you don't mind me asking Barlow, did you know where you were heading next? I've been to a decent few places myself, but haven't been to spots like Last Resort yet. I was just wondering if we were heading somewhere I haven't been before."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Sun Feb 16 2014, 22:09

    "The packages I'm given determine my route," Barlow answered, "But Metro-Polis is the busiest place for a carrier. Someone always wants something sent somewhere. I'll have a full bag pretty soon, and I guarantee somebody's gonna give me one marked for Last Resort, don't you worry about that."

    Barlow peeled the hat off his head and scratched his head, tangling his wiry black hair. The hat was covered in salt from dried sweat on the inside and ash and dust on the outside. It needed to be cleaned. Everything needed to be cleaned. Including him. Twice, preferably. "Ya know, I've been to Last Resort a lot over the years. Beautiful place, if you don't mind the cold. 'Course, you take someone outta the Agony or the Boglands and they will fall to their knees and weep when they feel a cool breeze." He chuckled and sighed, "Snow's a pretty rare thing these days. You ever seen snow? In person, I mean."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Mon Feb 17 2014, 03:19

    Frosty smiles a bit as he rests on a knee, folding up the map while looking at Barlow "Actually, I never have, but I always like the cold. Is the snow as beautiful as they say it is? Someone told me it's like a big winter park.", he puts the map back in his bag while grinning a bit "Kind of got used to the cold anyway when I camp out, especially if I lost my blanket. I got colds a few times so I'm kind of used to it by now. I don't mind the wasteland and this place much... but, it'd be nice to see something natural and pretty for once, y'know?"

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Mon Feb 17 2014, 09:44

    "Whoever told you that was selling it short," said Barlow, "When you look out and all you see is clean, even white practically glowing in the dead of night, even when it's too cloudy for the moon to shine through, it just seems like the world is... untouched. Makes you feel like all this never happened, like the world is new... and you can go anywhere."

    He closed his eyes for a moment, just imagining it, and he smiled. "But you've gotta keep yourself bundled up, tied down, and waterproof. One loose fold and there'll be snow all up the length of your leg. Winter's beautiful, but it's unforgiving, too."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Tue Feb 18 2014, 04:06

    Frosty closes up his bag and looks at Barlow "Yeah, but that the wasteland is like that as well, it's not really anything new.", he pushes his bag to the side then looks back at Barlow "I think the cold is just like nature in general. It is pretty, but it'll defeat you if you don't know how to deal with it."

    He looks down at the ground for a moment then looks back up "You ever used to be in a group Barlow? Last one I was in had some, well crap luck and we disbanded. Just when I look at you... you can't have been on your own forever.", he sighs as he leans back a bit "Sometimes I want to be in a big group, but... it's hard to know who to trust at times, I guess."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Tue Feb 18 2014, 11:19

    Barlow shook his head. "I've never been a real part of a group. I've come across a few who've been willing to have me along for a while, but we always parted ways before long... or they tried to eat me." He scratched his rough, hairy cheek and sighed, "It can be a challenge finding people safe to travel with... safe enough to turn your back, to leave your bag alone with them, to sleep when they're awake. But my personal policy's always been, 'trust everyone 'til they give you a reason not to. That, uh..." he pulled back his sleeve to reveal a long, straight scar running diagonally up his forearm. The skin was littered with other, tinier marks, but the pronounced, lumpy mass of tissue around that old, deep gash stood out over the rest. "...that policy's gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Wed Feb 19 2014, 01:24

    Frosty stays silent for a moment then takes hold of the left side of his shirt and slowly lifts it up, some bandage placed over some skin near his stomach that was patched with red. He sighs as he glances down at it "Got it from a bullet... nearly hit my stomach but just missed it. Probably would've died if I didn't get some help from a nearby town. Yeah, I've paid for it as well."

    He lowers his shirt back down then looks at Barlow with a smile "I don't let it stop me though, the world isn't going to get any better if we don't help each other out. I hear everyone talk about death and well... I'd rather go down being able to look at myself in the mirror than live on as someone no one likes. There's too many good people out here to hurt, and I like to think if we all make a difference, then the world can become something a bit more brighter, y'know?"

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Wed Feb 19 2014, 16:04

    "Hear, hear!" Barlow exclaimed, resisting the urge to start a scar show-off competition. It was something most outgoing survivors did with one another, one of the few guaranteed ways for strangers wandering the wasteland to bond. He'd never truly supported the practice, but he'd been swept up in a few such contests in his time, and won most of them. They cheered for him at the time, but he always wondered why he was exalted for getting hurt more than anyone else.

    "It's not too common you meet a traveler who thinks like that. A lot of people, they let this kinda work... the things they see... they let it change 'em. And after the sorta things I've seen, the sorta things I have no doubt you've seen, it's hard to blame 'em, but... things just aren't gonna change by accepting that everyone and everything is bad. And we, each and every one of us, we need to disprove that. We need to show that there is good, and we need to find what isn't good and fix it. We owe it to the people we care about. We owe it to the people we've never met. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to the world for giving us a chance to do things right. We can't just give up... and we can't let anyone else give up, either."

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 21 2014, 22:43

    Frosty smiles and nods "Yeah... that's true, same way I think about what's going on.", he nearly continues on before hearing some commotion behind him among the crowds. He turns his head as Barlow could see past him a couple of roughly dressed men stepping through the crowds, one with a hatchet at his side and the other with a pistol, both wearing masks over their mouths.

    Frosty stays silent watching them for a moment then looks back at Barlow looking a little sad "I uh... I gotta step out for a bit Barlow. I'll uh, meet you back here later, but if I don't show up, then don't worry about it." He stands up and starts walking over towards one of the escalators heading underground and looks over seeing the men start to head his way. He looks forward then runs down the steps into the darkness to the underground, both men walking after him into the dark.

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 21 2014, 23:31

    "Yeah, no problem," Barlow replied slowly, looking for what had made his new acquaintance so uneasy and spotting the two men navigating the crowd with a clear, malicious goal in mind, "Take care..." He watched Frosty move hurriedly and saw the men hop off the platform and follow him into the dark.  

    Barlow climbed to his feet, groaning as every sore joint and muscle that had just locked up from rest was thrown back into action. He shouldered his bag and ran through the crowd, jumping off the platform and following them. "Excuse me, gentlemen!" he called into the darkness. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a few ticket stubs he had made on drop-offs that day. "I, uh, I think I saw one of you drop these up in the Bazaar." He held them out and tried to appear friendly and clueless. It wasn't a stretch. "Are they yours?"

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    Re: Business as Usual [Open]

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