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Old 04-20-2017, 12:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by 134 View Post

Ribcage Mall


Since the city fell into chaos, buses no longer enter Goldenridge; they don't even come close. Dropped off a couple of kilometers outside of the city limits by a nervous man who spun a U-turn nearly as quickly as the doors to his bus had closed, you've walked a long way, to be somewhere you don't want to be, to do something you don't want to do. The weather has been unusually hot for the area lately, and you've arrived at the very heart of the heat wave. The unyielding sun does nothing to bolster your waning willpower.

You're plagued by thoughts of the crime; things you'd have rather pushed out of your mind. They're demanding you dig them back up, again and again. Relive every agonizing detail. Why? What will talking to them again change? Does justice really prevail? These are the questions which occur to you, and which distract you. You don't noticed the afternoon sun slowly setting to your right. Then, the blue.

So much blue.

Cars sit on cinder blocks with their windshields smashed. Houses with their doors wide open, clearly abandoned and long-since looted. And on every stationary surface, there are bright blue ciphers; runes, warning of danger. This was Rib territory.

You aren't too far in. You could turn back before anyone of ill intent took notice of you, and make your way back north, to the Marshall's Headquarters, but you'd never make it across the tumultuous city before your appointed time to testify.

Huh... isn't that a pity?

You've been to Bedlam Ridge before. You know the Ribs are bad news. Some things, however, are worse than an anarchist gang. If you turn back now, you'll probably make it back to the Headquarters before court hours end for the day. They'd probably try to reschedule your testimony. Calling upon your partner in crime, you explain the unfortunate circumstances which are going to prevent any such thing from happening today: you've gone and gotten yourself quite lost, haven't you? Yes, 'lost.' That's right, Blue's in agreement.

There's worse things than anarchist gangs. Things like talking to the police. You see a massive concrete structure a block or so away, covered in tacky, vandalized signage -- a shopping mall. There are rumors about a mall in Rib territory. As you near this one, you find that it looks to be the exact sort of dreary place which no sensible person would dare enter in such a chaos-ravaged city as this. Burnt out trashcans dot the parking lot. Hardly a ground floor window has gone unbroken. Graffiti scars the walls in bright, gaudy colors. In some areas the tags are so thickly clustered that they no longer form distinct images. All these things should warn you away, but the do not.

You cross the main parking lot; it's surprisingly empty. If cars had been abandoned here, they've either been stolen or stripped utterly clean. The entire sheet of asphalt has become a giant canvas for the disaffected members of the gang; a tapestry of belligerence, heartbreak, aggression, despair, and all aspects of the human emotion swirling together into a brash mixture of art and profanity right beneath your feet. Strips of mismatched carpet, no doubt pulled from countless department stores, form a walkway up the center, towards the main entrance to the mall. The doors have been pulled off their hinges a long time ago, and the atrium is dimly lit in an array of colors; a glance upwards reveals that someone has spray painted over the skylight's window panes in various neon shades. Unfortunately, there is no time to enjoy the novelty -- you've just walked into Ribcage Mall. In this small area alone, there are about two dozen people. Some are drinking beer around a dry fountain. Two are playing cards. A pale woman with a swollen stomach and bright blue pigtails is knitting something with stainless steel knitting needles. She looks up with a scowl. A man -- a redhead -- picks up a baseball bat with an alarmingly casual air.

"The fuck is this?" Someone asks -- it's the girl with the needles. Somewhere, you hear the unmistakable sound of a Poké Ball expanding, but you can't tell where it came from and nothing is summoned. You've just walked head-long into the front door of the hideout of one of the two most notorious gangs in Bedlam Ridge. They don't seem happy to see you, and they're clearly on the defensive, but no one is attacking you yet. You might be able to talk to these people. Some things are worse than anarchist gangs, but was a court appearance really one of them? What will you do?

Michael hadn't considered the possibility that the mall wasn't empty.
Well, that wasn't exactly true. He did consider it, but it was very, very briefly and the thought had been dismissed as soon as it happened. His attention was instead drawn to the derelict state of the old mall. Shattered windows, torn up carpet, graffiti as far as the eye could see - it all came together to paint a portrait of ruin that was almost as beautiful as it was horrifying. Even the light itself had been desecrated, shining through a skylight that had also, somehow, been painted over. There was so much to take in that Michael didn't notice that he wasn't alone in the Mall at first. Only the nervous chattering from Blue would snap him out of his reverie and bring his attention back to the room.

He couldn't quite count how many other people there were - if he had to guess, he'd say there were about a couple dozen. Each seemed to be busy doing something or other: drinking, playing cards, one woman was even knitting. But one thing was for sure - they weren't exactly too pleased to see him. One man had even picked up a baseball bat!
"The fuck is this?" the knitting woman asked. The tension in the air was almost palpable. The duo were outnumbered and outgunned. Even if they wanted to escape they'd be overwhelmed in no time. Michael could feel Blue's grip on his shoulder tighten. The normally laid-back monkey was almost trembling in fear. Michael gave his companion a reassuring headrub, before turning back to the woman with a confident smile on his face. Time to do what he did best.
"This? This is just a man with a monkey and a whole lotta time to waste." Michael could almost feel Blue's look of disbelief boring into him, but he didn't let it stop him. If there was one thing he was good at, it was talking his way out of trouble. Well, that or talking his way into trouble. He could never really tell half the time. Michael took a couple small steps forward, unfazed by the looks he was getting. He heard a Poké Ball expanding somewhere beside him - looks like they weren't convinced.
"Hey, hey! No need to get all antsy! We're just looking for some fun, not a fight!" Michael continued.
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