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Posted | 10-14-2017, 09:55 PM

The moment she mentioned the Badlands, Buck's hand was back on the wheel and the gas pedal hit the floor. When he let Jo drive it was like taking a calm stroll at race car speeds, with perfectly angled turns and gradual slopes of acceleration and deceleration. Buck, by comparison, drove like a bat out of hell, and every modicum of traffic seemed to magically skirt aside like Moses parting the sea.

Three hard exits and they crested out of the torus-stuffed network of tunnels. It was late afternoon in the desert and two big, warm suns hung low in swirling tandem on the horizon. The road they took was sand-swept, and the stuff kicked up in a cloud in their wake. It was an empty place, aside from the occasional rusted wreck abandoned at the roadside. If you took the time to look close enough, you could sometimes see the occasional body - skeletons, all, picked away to the bone.

"Well," he started in answer to Sully's question. Buck gave her a quick glance before responding. Like testing the water. Like checking her temperature. It was clear that he didn't quite understand why she was asking.

"Ain't usually too much talkin', tell the truth. But you got some bite."

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Posted | 10-15-2017, 02:52 AM


Anyone could be used to Jolene's driving. When it came to Buck's driving, however, it took a special breed to manage it without a second thought. Sullivan merely allowed herself to fall against the back of her seat as the engine suddenly roared and the erratic change in driving denoted that Buck had taken the wheel. She knew she did not need to watch the road for quite some time because it was apparent that he knew where they were headed - all she needed to be able to do is tell him where the dirt road was going to be once they were coming upon it. The light immediately met them like a wall the moment they hurtled out of the tunnel and and bathed her mostly-bare legs in the warm, golden light of the desert. The landscape was incredibly fetching, animals moving swiftly in herds on the far right side of the road, carrion birds circling magnificently over heaps of bones of both human and otherwise. Despite the movement of untamed scenery the woman was looking at him instead, her head ever so slightly turned as she rested it back against the seat.

She caught his glance but did nothing to react to it, just watched him, observed him as he observed her. His response began so simple and ended so.. well, not unexpectedly but perhaps surprising that he might say it with such ease. She averted her gaze from him and followed the trail of the long desert road. More than imagine the possible events of the dream itself, her mind instead had wandered on the fact that he had to wake up from those dreams with as much excite running through his body as he had in the dream itself, and...
Well. It wasn't particularly horrifying imagery. But she refuses to think too much about that here. Not right now.

"...BUCK." it was decisive and strong, sudden, unreadable - just his name, just the sound of her demanding regard. "I WAS HOSTAGE TO AN ABUSIVE MAN FROM THE AGE OF 17 TO 27. I CANNOT LET THEM MAKE THE SAME FATE FOR PEOPLE IF IT CAN BE HELPED." she was looking at him again before she knew it, and it seemed she was not able to entirely forget the act. "THIS MEANS A LOT TO ME. THANK YOU, BUCK. I KNEW YOU WOULD HELP ME IF I ASKED YOU." and then she was leaning to him, her body leaning over the center console, and she pressed a warm, slow series of kisses against his cheek. When she parted from him, the words "THE DETOUR IS ON YOUR LEFT - SOON" were uttered absentmindedly. Perhaps she had been compelled by the fact that they were entering the adder's den, just the two of them, and there was a possibility that one of them might not come back, or neither of them at all. And yet, she found that despite that risk she was not afraid of death. What did cut into her nerves ever so slightly the closer and closer they got to their destination was the fact that at some point, any point, they might be separated. "..STAY CLOSE TO ME BUCK. YES?" it was never a question with her.

If something happened to him, she did not want him to go through it alone, and likewise if something happened to her she would want it to pass in his presence.

"I MEAN IT THIS TIME."


"SPEAKING" | thinking | "FAUSTUS"

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This post was last modified: 10-15-2017, 06:16 PM by Buck Savage Posted | 10-15-2017, 06:09 PM

The further they drove through the desolate flats, the more the warrior in Buck Savage began to surface. His attention was increasingly drawn to the road, to the horizon, to anything that looked like it had half a chance of being to launching point of an ambush. If he made fewer glances at Sully - and he did - it was only because of his instinct to protect her.

So it may have appeared as though he ignored her thanks entirely, stoic even through her kisses. Even as he made that sharp turn onto a poorly beaten path and and started to see what looked like lights in the far distance.

But when she asked him to stay close, Buck reached over blindly and stroked her arm. And when he found her hand, he grasped it tightly. His fingers intertwined between hers as though they were just taking a leisurely drive in the sunset. If he showed any sign of nerves, it was only in the way he squeezed her hand a bit too hard.

Like he'd shoot down the stars before he'd let anyone else wrench her away.

Without any warning, his hand began to weather. His face started to wrinkle until it resembled a rocky crag, like he'd aged another forty years in the span of a few breaths. His hair lightened to a snowy gray. His features turned Asian. Even his tattoos melded, turning the haphazard collection into a single, coherent body suit that left an empty line down the center of his chest. He was no one in particular, just bits and pieces taken from men he'd seen on television, men he'd put down, and men he'd met in prison.

When he opened his mouth, it was Buck's father that spoke. More accurately, it was the man Buck had been raised to be. Crisp. Clean. Shrewd. Studied. Perhaps even a tad robotic. And he had a thick Japanese accent that carried a hint of Hiroshima Ben.

"I am Akira Toyoda," Buck instructed. It was the first name that popped into his head. "I have enjoyed a very good year, so I am treating myself to a short stay in the City. You are the beautiful woman I've hired to keep me entertained, and to spare me the displeasure of having to speak with any of these thugs, leeches, or small-time crooks."

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Posted | 10-16-2017, 02:09 AM


It was for the best, for the sake of her own disposition, that he did not make such a ceremony out of her actions. Already had it taken a great amount of prompting from her own self to lean over and kiss him, a gesture that she was surely not accustomed to, and such a fragile moment was best allowed to play out on its own. She doesn't have the time to question his lack of response because he reaches to touch her, large hand coming to interlock with her own and she squeezes back to affirm that it's precisely what she wants from him. The join of their hands sat on the center console as he sharply turned off the road and onto the path where mountains and resulting craters were nestled on the golden horizon.

Glimpse of lights and then glints of steel, a steady eye that focused long enough would be able to make out more minute details like the turrets at the top of the wall, the vehicles parked at the gate and then, finally, the people who were standing on guard holding what from here looked like long poles.
They weren't.
She doesn't have to tell him they have guns, doesn't have to tell him that they were outnumbered. She only looked up at him, just in time to see the fluid transition from Buck Savage to Akira Toyoda. She listened to him (easily amazed by how extensive the transformation in all ways) and took to memory what identity she was meant to react off of in the presence of others. But despite intending to be all business she could not help the way the word 'beautiful' struck her. "YES, MISTER TOYODA. I WILL GET YOU WHERE YOU NEED TO GO." it's all she says to confirm that she's willing to play and play it well.

When they were seen coming upon the fortress it was indicative by the way more grouped at the gate with their submachines and uzis. The gattling turrets twisted in their direction, having detected them in some manner that Sullivan could not decipher from an outside look at things alone. "DO NOT MIND THEIR INHOSPITALITY, MISTER TOYODA," she tells him, "THEY WILL RECONSIDER ONCE I SPEAK WITH THEM. YOU HAVE MY WORD." We will be okay, she means, and it's indicated with a tighten of her hand in his. She did not intend on losing him.

"SPEAKING" | thinking | "FAUSTUS"

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Posted | 10-16-2017, 08:11 PM

"Don't let them search the trunk," he added. An afterthought.

Buck's foot remained on the gas all the way to the gate. Until he could start to make out the models of the rifles. Until he could see the whites in the eyes of the scrappers charged with guarding the outer gate. Among them were bound to be many who'd never actually had to shoot a man. Boys still learning their way around their guns. Still searching for a way to prove that they were men.

There wasn't a woman among them, but Buck could've figured that from the other side of the horizon. You either had to be a whore or a real tough customer to last any time in the Badlands with a pair of tits, and neither were going to be found freezing their asses off in the cold desert night once the sun went down.

No, it was just a bunch of boys, with shivering hands, shivering dicks, and shivering aim. You could see them start to scramble, expecting their first piece of action as Jolene tore towards them. Buck couldn't quite tell what they were yelling under the howling of the wind, but he could get a pretty decent idea.

Stop.

And he did, eventually, after every rifle was pointed directly at him, and every trigger finger was sweating like a sauna. He hit the brakes so fast that Jo even gave out a little squeal. They came to a sliding stop just feet in front of the gate and were almost immediately overtaken by all the sand and dust they'd kicked up passing them in the wind.

As the air cleared, with all those boys covered in dirt and wishing they'd worn goggles, a few began to run forward and swarm the car. They were so flustered, they all blurted out their own questions before one of them finally emerged as the leader.

"Who are you? What's the password?!" the shortest among them demanded.

Buck only grumbled. Gibberish, in any language.

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Posted | 10-16-2017, 10:46 PM


She didn't intend on letting them get too close to Jolene for that reason - at some point the ammunition would be incredibly useful. For now their biggest issue was getting through without much attention - to stick around just long enough and just hidden enough that the auction went on as planned and that the "product" was driven back to whatever shitty warehouse they've been kept in right up under the auction date; chains cut free and bodies prettied up, hair brushed out and teeth bleached, skin waxed, all the things you'd expect to see on some miss universe or well loved celebrity. Not on people who were sleeping on old mattresses and forced to piss and shit only as far away from their bedding as the chain attaching them to support beams would allow.

And as these thoughts circulated her mind, as they closer and closer and drew more and more attention to their speedy arrival, the woman heavily tensed. She did not ever need a prompt to be the way that she was - did not ever need a reason to be angry and the fact that she had one only made her much more fierce for it.
It was thoughtless - such moments with her usually were - and the very moment Jolene came to a chaotic halt the woman was pushing open her door and stepping out sharply. One heel stomped to the sand and gravel in a way that suggested nothing but fury, practically throwing herself out of the vehicle and up on her own two feet. The guns were sharply trained on her and if she saw them she did not at all seem to. They were understandably taken aback by the headstrong woman, her face unknown and yet they decided she either had brass balls the size of Monai or she was someone they were supposed to know. "IS IT THE SAME AS WHEN RAMOS MADE IT?" she does not know just how much has changed - the gang was bound by values that kept it sustained in such a way that meant successor would commemorate the ones before them - within reason. It was not broken they would not fix it - and if it was decided that Ramos' replacement was doing too much to defile his memory, well. Punishment for that was all too quick. But she wasn't asking because she cared. She wasn't asking because she needed to know how to guess, what to say - she was asking because it unsettled them, her acute senses catching a murmur here and there and the light shuffle of posture as they considered whether or not their guns should still be pointed at the woman who strode aggressively forward a few steps in a bull's mock charge, chiding them with Portuguese as mean as rusty razors. They only know that this woman, whoever she was, not only had brass balls but knew the late Ramos, and perhaps that put them more in a talkative mood. "Who the fuck are you? Who sent you and him?" the gun was carelessly waved in direction of the man they decided did not at all look like he belonged out here. They knew where the money was when they came across it, but even still anything could happen. "WHO ARE YOU? I THINK RAMOS' SUCCESSOR WILL BE PLEASED TO KNOW YOU HAVE A GUN HELD TO A CLIENT'S BODYGUARD" they immediately became more (less violently) interested in the man that wasn't in a pissing match with them. "A MISTER AKIRA TOYOTA, OWNER OF ONE OF THE LARGEST ASIAN FACTORY CHAINS. HE BUYS THE EXACT SAME WAY THAT HE SELLS -" she tells them, and is sure to put emphasis on the end, "IN BULK." and she could just hear the happy little 'ding!' of the cash registers in their heads.

At this point they were relatively calmed once they knew the man had been here for the auction. They moved near Jolene and scouted what they could of her without yet touching or insisting they check inside, but it was clear they were admiring her as well as ensuring she was not filled with explosives. "Ah man shit I think that's Ramos' girl, huh?" the rhetorical phrase sharpened her quick, almost too quick for her to catch herself from twisting around and seizing the man who had been all but breathing down her back until he recognized the tattoo in the opened back of her dress. "Tatted all his girls when he had them. ..juiciest ones got the biggest tats. How far down yours go?" He stepped forward and she heard the movement in the gravel, twisting around entirely by reflex and meeting him eye to eye. There was a keenness to freeze up on his part, of course, because for something so shapely and succulent her eyes were as mean as brimstone.

She was crowded. She was unhappy. She was the caged tiger being ogled at by circus goers, pacing and turning on her heels and snarling at faces, prodded at with sticks to prompt her to get up, to move, to do something - and if they hadn't stopped when they did she most certainly would have done just that.
But the assumed leader of the watch was targeting Mr. Toyoda now, saying "You got money you get in. We get paid on the spot no later - let's see the pay, minimum is half a mil on ya." it didn't pay to have people come in and out of their stronghold without some ability to pay for something. They were under the impression that this was a foolproof way to vet spies or authority from coming in and being aware of their operation.
Well. They'd yet to meet Buck.



"SPEAKING" | thinking | "FAUSTUS"

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Posted | 10-18-2017, 12:06 AM

The old Japanese man didn't say a word throughout their exchange. Hell, he barely flinched. He cut the image of an unflappable samurai master from one of those old, black and white, post-War westerns. The sort of movie where everyone dies and no one blinks.

After all, that was Buck's inspiration.

But as it became clear they weren't going to shoot Sully, at least not right away, he reached for his cigarettes and shook one out to light. Calm and slow, even though he'd abstained all afternoon. He looked nothing like a man who'd nearly turned his vintage sports car into a battering ram. He certainly didn't look like he was taking over control of every turret in the place, planning just how he could mow down every last goon atop that gate before Sully could so much as jump back in the car.

A long drag. A longer exhale.

When their leader addressed him, Buck ignored the man. Watched Sully instead. He made hand gestures that meant nothing and pointed to himself, as though she were the only one who spoke his language. As though she were the only one worthy. As though he only dealt with those who spoke when spoken to.

It turned their big thug red in the face faster than Buck expected. With steam practically spilling out of his ears, he stomped around the car and looked like hew as going to pull the old man right out of the driver's seat. Buck was unfazed. Offered him the half-expended cigarette, as though it were a holy peace pipe.

The man swung at Buck's arm, probably to knock it away, but that old, wrinkled hand was quicker than it looked. It dropped the cigarette and took hold of their leader at the wrist. Pulled him half into the window, struggling. Buck's other hand grabbed him on the back of the neck. Before the gangster could even start to dig the pistol out of his pants, his skin began to show a sheen. He went limp within seconds, as soon as his spinal cord turned to cold metal, but Buck held him still. Until every bit of him was worth a grand an ounce.

And then he let the statue of a man fall backwards, into the dirt, with a heavy clunk.

"Two million," he barked at Sully in that heavy accent. Though it was really for the stunned gangsters who, bereft of a head, didn't seem to know whether to start shooting or to let them pass. Then the old man gestured out the window to his handiwork as though he were a travelling magician expecting applause.

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