The ship creaked and groaned with the sudden movement. A few minutes prior, it had looked like a part of the landscape, a natural extension of the craggy cliff that dropped off into the depths of the deepwater inlet. Deep inside the floating metal island, a rhythmic sound beat, like the heart of the legendary god of ‘zillas. As the water began to churn and froth around the base of the massive structure, tiny figures climbed from it’s depths, deftly crossing the lines tethering it to the shoreline. With practiced ease, they loosed the moors, dropping them into the water. Others still on the ship began rolling them back up. On the shore, dozens more of the figures gathered around the small boats that were being readied. While most walked upright, there was a peculiarity amongst the assembled horde. The Deep Salt, Dagon, studied the scene keenly. While some of the creatures sported scales and gills, he could see none were true Saltwise. The figures continued to board the boats, grunting, hooting, and cawing in a cacophony of sound they they all seemed to understand. The floating island, now several hundred feet away from the edge of the shore, gained speed and the huge shape began to fade into the darkness of the night that the intermittent cloud cover afforded. The boats, now underway with their curious cargo, struggled against the wake of the massive vessel. Resembling nothing more than bits of flotsam on the sea’s surface, the moon broke the cloud cover and covered the scene in white silvery light. Dagon watched them intently, as the specks floated on the horizon’s edge and faded into the black canopy of elements, where the dark sea met the night sky.
It had been a great battle, even seen from the distance. The Circuit Riders had much better equipment, and by the damage that had been dealth, had more experienced and salted soldiers. Of course, that’s what happens when you have religion at your back, Eliza mused, as she dispatched a zed soundlessly from behind. She hadn’t been able to see the entire fight, as she had to keep moving to avoid the huge amount of zed in the area. She was starting to understand the palpable fear in the babbling of the locals she had captured and tortured for information on the area. The Drive Thru, they had called it. The closest zed a few hundred yards away, her thoughts focused back to how the fight had probably ended. Knowing the strength of the Hellions that could be brought to bear, the loss of the large gun emplacement was the turning point and tactically the weakest part of the assault. Still, knowing the fanatical zeal of the Fallen Hope, she imagined a lot of damage had been done. Not the way she would have commanded it. She would have pulled her troops back. Hell, she would have had a different assault strategy altogether, given their obviously deep resources and experienced personnel. Her unthinking steps had taken her in the direction of the Morgue of the southern waterway of the Coffin Creek. There, she had stationed what was left of her force. There, they would be waiting for any of the Fallow Hope that had not met their final demise at the hands of El Dorado. The Iron Maiden strode down the hill, pondering the possibilities that had presented themselves.
They had run for days, howling in fury at the caravans that the DJs deftly maneuvered away from the broken road that had led to the crumbling King’s Court holy place. They beckoned with weapons and raised fist whenever the lesser Raiders paused or lost the heat of the hunt. Three weeks into it, they found they were being led astray. The tracks had suddenly disappeared, and they had fanned out for miles looking vainly for further signs. Eventually finding it again, another sabotage attempt would arise, and would slow them further. The leaders, the heavily scarred, inhuman masters, would cut down the Raider who would return empty handed, no trailhead discovered. One night as they made a camp, almost a month after they had given chase, a lone figure with a black mask approached the roaring cooking fire unnoticed. Their grisly meal interrupted, howls of rage echoed from the assembled throng, meaty bits and saliva flung out of their roaring mouths in the process. The figure bowed dramatically before them, and in the same movement, threw something at the ground. Smoke instantly filled the area, obscuring the light from the fire. In the confusion the black-masked figure stepped into and disappeared into the mass of Raiders that flung and swung weapons wildly into the area they had been standing. A few hours, and hapless dead sentries later, the masters broke camp. They took the roads west, into the area held by their brothers. Trail or no trail, they would soon find what they had hunted for so long. The bloodlust grew thick with the sounds of their inhuman laughter as they ran across the ancient road, past a sign none of them could decipher. The words on the old metal sign, still discernible after centuries of dirt, rain and rust read, “Historic Route, Route 66”. A gust of wind caused the sign to wobble on the rusty post it was affixed to, as the maniacal laughter faded in the distance, leaving only the silence of the night, and the groans of a few shamblers from the forest edge to keep it company.
Indy didn’t understand what it was that made his teacher so excited about meeting him. It was almost like she was more interested in his short life that she was of hers, which made no sense at all. Still, he learned much from her, and shared her enthusiasm about the old world deeply. She had seemed very depressed that she couldn’t make the journey back east, to a place they called Dee Cee, and the ruins of Herod’s Kingdom. She explained that she had found the tomb from where Indy woke up, and that the Hellions that had made the trip to the Ark had done so with the benefit of her expertise and insight. It had taken all of her resources to make the trip, all of her Trade Notes and every favor she could ask for spent to the last. With no further recourse, she resigned herself to not making the trip, and made herself more at home in the outskirts of El Dorado. Leah, his teacher, had soon found the Semper Mort tribe he had stayed with since he was born. She went in peacefully enough, but when they weren’t willing to give him up to her custody, she changed. Her emotions gave way to rage, and fire flew from her hands in gouts of flame. Indy had frozen up in terror as the fire burnt the hovel and him in the process, but there was something about her voice that reached him, that calmed him. The pain of his wounds went away, and as the days passed, soon he found himself learning from someone that had immense knowledge of the Pre-Fall world. It was hard work, but he found himself warming up to it. When he would finish the dig they were working on for the day, his hands blistered and raw, she would literally glow, and after a sharp pain, his hands were new again. Day after day passed as the Trade Weekends came and went, and she would always give him a sideway look, as if she was expecting him to change. His claws never shrunk down like her hands, nor did the fangs recede into this mouth. He often wondered what Leah was thinking before drifting off to sleep. His last thoughts were always about the next dig she had planned.
The Scribe sat down with the Saltwise Hunter, a large pile of Tickets and even Trade Notes he kept adding to as the Hunter remembered more about what he had seen in his trips into the Trade Weekend. Of interest, was a group of Fallow Hope that had challenged the town, even though there were members of the same faith that took residence in the singular independent Settlement of the Broken Coast. The reasons were multifold, but the concept that Psions were allowed to walk unhindered and ungoverned in the towns environs, were disheartening. The Script often told bits and pieces of people that were not quite human, of experiments in changing them into something more. Here, he had found organized groups that drew frightening parallels to the other evidence he was gathering, The Railroad existed, that was in the guise of the Clan of DJs known as the 38s. The Greenzone, just as singularly focused on saving people and growing Settlements to their own detriment as the Signal’s Minutemen were. And now this. Whether by the two schools he had found, or the deviant leader that called himself Valdemort, one thing was for certain. Experimentation to make what was left of humanity, “better”, was sacrilege. The concept that the Psions possessed latent talents that heralded them as evolution was erroneous. The rise of any amoral organization that would seek to promote that school of thought, was too close to what the Signal spoke about it, in bits and pieces.
He hurriedly thanked his informant, not registering the shock in the Saltwise's eyes as he left the mountain of currency on the table, and walked away. It was important that his superiors learned about what he had discovered, and those thoughts increased his gait as he walked through the shanty of ramshackle buildings known as Low Town.