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Private silent running

Discussion in 'Dread Wastes' started by Gerold Hirschberg, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. Gerold Hirschberg

    Gerold Hirschberg Inglourious Basterds

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    September 18, Y-108

    1200 Hours

    Twilight Marshes and Beyond


    =================================​

    This was Day Seventeen.


    The little gang of drifters had finally set off from the Twilight Marshes, a cache of gleaming weapons in their possession and a grim look on their faces besides. The time had come, perhaps, to leave the desert behind for a while and...well, move on to 'greener pastures'.


    Specifically, whatever waited for 'em in the Deadnear Woodland, as well as whomever. They'd done enough hunting and traveling for a dozen people, after all, and so maybe they should take a chance at something better. Something like...setting up their own colony in the woods, and well outta the reach of that damned Undertaker, too.


    At least, that was the general idea until one of their number spoke up.


    Sure we shouldn't try for the Halls first?


    What halls?


    The Halls of Horizon, dumbass. They're one of the few things that got left over when the whole world went to shit, plus they might be better for—


    --They're not there no more. Now shut up and keep drivin', we got a deadline here!


    Fine


    A small moment of silence came and went, during which something might have shifted inside the empty space the gang normally used for storage. Thankfully, since the space was already covered up by a curtain and becasuse the engine was so loud to begin with, none of the others would ever hear a thing.


    ...Say, any-a you punks missin' our go-fer?


    That straggler we found in Blackridge? Hell no. He can stay at that old hut and maybe clean out the basement for us. After all, this half of the Box can't be empty for long…!


    Back inside the safety of the closet, the straggler in question bravely fought back the urge to laugh out loud. Wherever this truck managed to stop next to in the end, wherever this gang planned to live, they were soon gonna get the surprise of their lives.


    Long story short, Hirschberg was nowhere near that abandoned hut, 'cause he had a lot nicer place in mind to run to...away.

    =================================​

    [ @Oerba Yun Fang :: Hope this works for the build-up, he'll be jumping out and making a run for it in the next post! Thanks!]
     
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  2. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    It seemed like a lifetime ago that Fang had watched the world's end swallow Horizon up in a flood of sand bigger than the town was. Back then, there hadn't been any thought in her mind as to what she was going to do now; the wound of being rendered homeless—again, hopeless to stop it—had just been too fresh and raw, and the safety of the other inhabitants too important for her to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Then there had been the nomads who kindly looked after her for a couple of weeks, and then the ambush, and then Lightning, and...

    And the discovery that Horizon still stood. Or, a version of it did. It was called something a little different now, and the streets and buildings and people didn't quite look as Fang remembered, but the soul of it was still the same... A small, pleasant community whose members looked after each other, and were only interested in eking out a peaceful existence away from the strife that ruled the rest of the wasteland.

    It was a miracle Fang was grateful for, and one she still couldn't quite believe, even days after stumbling on the little hidden town. She'd vowed then: she was done with losing home after home. If anything threatened the place she belonged to now, be it force of man or wrath of nature, she'd fight to her dying breath to keep the Halls safe.

    That said, a warrior needed sustenance to stay in fighting shape, and seeing as how it was lunchtime, Fang was currently seated in the skinny shade of a mountain mahogany, chewing on her meal as she enjoyed the serenity of her surroundings. The day was dry and bright, a warm wind rolling over the open plains, and the darker stain of the marshes visible on the north edge of the sky. A dust cloud drifted in the distance, weaving its tail between the sparse trees and sagebrush.

    It was coming from some sort of vehicle, the kind with an engine loud enough to announce its presence before you could see it. In the old world, contraptions like that had mostly been used by the bandits and brigands that roamed the expanse of the Arid Lands. They wandered too close to Horizon sometimes, and Fang had been more than happy to put them in their place. Now, she cared more about keeping the Halls off the radar, which sometimes meant letting a fight pass by unchallenged. If whoever was in that truck didn't try to start trouble, Fang would let them go.

    Fang swallowed her final bite, brushed the crumbs from her mouth, and tucked herself further into the shade to watch.
     
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  3. Gerold Hirschberg

    Gerold Hirschberg Inglourious Basterds

    Posts:
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    male
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    Location:
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    Human and Proud!
    Age:
    20 (+2)
    Some amount of hours later, this ragged band had reached the halfway mark on their journey, a rather thin-looking river the only bit of nature breaking up the desert. It was also kind of blocking their progress to the Forest, which...meant that they would have to either stop the semi and come up with a way to 'ferry' it across, or else just drive straight through and hope they didn't drown.


    Lucky for the hidden extra person inside, they decided to take up the drier course of action.



    All right, boys, guess it's time to take a break...


    Soon, the loud roar of the engine would go silent; the ragged trio would leave the inside of the truck; and, more or less, they would be alone with their random mumblings as they worked to figure out a solution to their little problem. Perfect time to start building a little raft in the hopes of taking a quick sailing trip.


    Or, as they would come to realize a few minutes too late, it would also be the perfect time for their surprise stowaway to finally make himself known.



    ...What the f—Somebody stop that jackass!


    Not today, Gerold promised himself, clearing out of the truck entirely and then making a beeline for the strange rippling above a group of dunes in the distance. Just like he'd done in Stiglitz's cell block a lifetime ago, he was making a crazy run for it.


    The difference between then and now was, however, that the punks behind him had all the firepower while he himself had none.


    And, unless he ran into some kind of miracle between here and the dunes, there was a very high chance that they might decide to use it.



    Don't look back, don't look back, don't look back...

    @Oerba Yun Fang

     
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  4. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

    Posts:
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    L'Cie
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    The truck slowed to a stop by the riverbank. Out hopped a few people, presumably to solve the riddle of how they were going to get their stuff to the other side. Fang had crept a little closer, tucked safely within the nest of dry shrubs that lined the wasteland, still too far to hear their voices, but close enough to act if they did anything that made her think she needed to deal with them before they gained any more distance on Horizon.

    Crouched in her hiding place, Fang was weighing the risks of getting even closer when another figure popped out of the vehicle and immediately bolted like there was a pack of ravenous gorgonopsids snapping at his heels. His buddies clearly didn't like that. There was shouting, and there were weapons, and from the angry way the group behaved, Fang got the impression that they didn't particularly care if their target survived his recapture.

    This, Fang decided, was a situation she'd better deal with.

    It was hard not to side with the guy running for his life, especially since it didn't look like he had anything to defend himself with. Besides, it was just simpler to take out the ones showing more aggression first. If it turned out that the fleeing man was some sort of criminal, and Fang's intervention meant that he escaped the clutches of justice... Well, she was a pretty damn good hunter. Just saying.

    But for now, Fang wanted to see him keep on breathing. She rose from her position. A blur of pale light washed over the brand on her arm, and a fling of her hand snapped the hexagonal plates of the Protect spell into place. The barrier shimmered once before fading, and Fang unclipped her lance from her back.

    She made a running start, then jumped. The fellas chasing after their quarry might notice a strange shadow passing over their heads, and if they looked up, they'd see a woman in a blue sari coming at them like the sky had poured her out, a snarl on her face and a red metal lance hefted to knock into the frontmost of the trio. The lance's blades were still folded in; Fang wasn't trying to kill them, just convince them to settle the hell down.
     
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  5. Gerold Hirschberg

    Gerold Hirschberg Inglourious Basterds

    Posts:
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    Age:
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    "Shit!"

    The 'leader' of this particular group, a scruffy-looking punk that seemed to have rags for hands, automatically scrambled backward at the sight of this crazy lady coming outta nowhere. With one giant blade seemingly aimed right for his sorry head, it was all he could do not to piss himself by accident.

    "Everybody fall back, we got ourselves an angry native!"


    ***

    Back in front, Gerold wasn't about to stick around for too long, 'Natives' or not. He also wouldn't spend too much time thinking about getting over the river, because he decided that following its course would be a lot easier as well as quicker. He would dive in without a second thought; then start half-paddling, half-floating along with the current wherever it decided to lead.

    All he would have to do to make sure he got there was keep his head above water, and keep on praying for his own deliverance...

    @Oerba Yun Fang
     
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  6. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

    Posts:
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    The lance swung past the goon's head, an inch away from denting his skull. If he thought he got off unscathed because he'd dodged, rather than because Fang had intentionally missed, she was happy to let him believe that.

    'Angry native'. Fang smiled. How funny. 'Excited local' was probably more accurate.

    The gang didn't seem too eager to scrap with her, and for that, she'd give them credit for having a modicum of sense. When Fang set her mind on something, anyone who tried to get in her way tended to get bowled over. (That, or stabbed.) And right now, her mind set on keeping the running man alive.

    A splash sounded from the river. Fang paused, trying to see if he was strong enough to fight the current, then resumed lashing out at the punks, her movements fierce and powerful but never bringing the lance around with enough force to seriously injure them. She'd really rather they all just gave up and skedaddled, but she'd persuade them with a firmer hand if need be.
     
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  7. Gerold Hirschberg

    Gerold Hirschberg Inglourious Basterds

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    Anybody bring a knife along?


    What knife? They're all in the damn truck!



    All three of the bandits would keep on ducking and dodging until finally, one of 'em happened to move too slowly. That sorry loser would wind up with a gash on his arm and a pitiful howl spilling out of his lungs.


    Ah, shi-i-yit, she's got me! What now?!



    ***


    Keep your head above water!


    It was nothing short of a blessing to hear Papa's voice within his mind, digging its way out from his memories until it could remind him to guard himself from drowning. In turn, Gerold wouldn't dare take his eyes off of the river ahead, because it could literally mean the difference between swimming and sinking in this strange new land.


    He would be careful to avoid a gathering of rocks in one bend, but only just. The current was getting a little stronger now, and it would have shoved him hard against that formation if he'd allowed himself to get distracted for the smallest second.


    As he barely missed striking it in time, however, he would make it to the next 'stage' in this little race: entering the narrow pass between two mountains. Wild animals liked to hide there, though, so he would have to start watching for them, too.

     
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  8. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

    Posts:
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    The end of her lance connected with one of the men at just the right angle, opening up flesh and drawing blood. It wasn't a serious wound, but he stumbled back all the same, voice high with panic, the same sentiment echoed by the looks on his friends' faces.

    But still, none of them made any indication that they were thinking about retreat. They were an awfully determined bunch, that's for sure. The one who'd gone for a sudden swim in the river must have held a special place in their hearts.

    Either way, Fang was already tired of toying around with them, these fellas who were too weak to give her a proper fight, so she relented, swinging her polearm behind her back into a posture of lazy rest. The smear of red on the weapon's tip glinted under the sun. Fang gave the trio another smile, the curve of her lips cocky.

    "Word of advice for you boys. Turn around; go home. And take that ugly pile of scrap with you." She dipped her head at the truck. "Now, before you piss me off."

    As she spoke, Fang reached over to her right shoulder, stirring up the magic stored in the brand there. The edges of it lit with a pale, humming light, and the surrounding air seemed to grow heavier, harder to breathe.
     
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  9. Gerold Hirschberg

    Gerold Hirschberg Inglourious Basterds

    Posts:
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    Age:
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    " 'What now'?! We get the fuck outta here and avoid that laser beam, that's 'what now'! MOVE IT!"

    Ah, but this 'angry native' wasn't going to have to tell them twice. Finally, the bandits decided to take their sorry selves back to wherever it was that they had originally spilled out of--the truck, the road, wherever.

    In any case, they weren't going to bother this wild woman a second time. Let their 'prey' do whatever he liked, because they were done with him, too!


    And speaking of...


    Gerold's 'salvation' would indeed come to pass, though not the way he might have expected. Once he had been carried into the mountain pass, what should he happen to see next but a strange new breed of ostrich?

    "The hell is that?"


    Then again...did the fact that it had fluffy yellow feathers qualify it as a giant chicken? He couldn't exactly tell from here, because most of this...'flock' was a good distance away, especially on the right side of the riverbank. When he shifted to the left side, however, one of those same 'ostriches' would just happen to jump into the water after him.

    "Oh, yay. Now you're gonna chase me, too?"


    The 'ostrich' in question would give a loud snort, paddling its way to him before loosely taking his arm inside its beak and tugging him off to land. Land that would turn out to be green, lush, and holy shit, not a single trace of sand anywhere. And if that alone wasn't wild enough, this spot was actually cool. Calm, even, compared to the rest of the desert he'd seen.

    It was all he could do not to keep from gasping out loud.

    "...I stand corrected, pal...thanks?"




    @Oerba Yun Fang
     
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  10. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    Ah, there they went. Finally convinced it was in their best interests to turn tail if they wanted to keep on breathing.

    Fang wasn't so kind that she'd take wastelanders at their word, though, so she lingered a minute, enough to make sure the gangsters kept retreating in the correct direction. Only once their truck had vanished off into the horizon did she allow the magic in her brand to disperse, and returned her lance to its holster.

    Now, there was one more stranger to see to.

    The river had carried him a goodly distance in the time it took to send those other punks running, but catching up was a trivial matter. Two jumps along the water's path brought the man back into her field of view, and a third deposited Fang onto his side of the riverbank some fifty feet off, among the grass and flowers.

    There was a herd of chocobos here, probably digging for gysahl greens. More surprisingly, one of the birds looked to have taken well to the man. Wild chocobos weren't exactly aggressive, but they were still wild. You generally didn't want to make chocobos nervous, beaks and talons like those. Not to mention the rare breeds that could cast magic...

    This herd seemed in a good enough mood though, so Fang approached with slow, quiet steps, giving the birds a friendly smile as she passed through and over to the stranger.

    She gave the man the same smile as she came within speaking distance. "That was a lot of running you did. And swimming." Fang leaned her weight on one leg, hands perched on her hips. "What'd you do to make those boys so keen on getting you back?"
     
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  11. Gerold Hirschberg

    Gerold Hirschberg Inglourious Basterds

    Posts:
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    Age:
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    Gerold just had to breathe for a little while. Horizon was so big and so damned green, he could probably spend a day staring at it and still not manage to see everything there was to see. He would just have to start by taking a slow look at this 'ostrich', then go off by himself and say a prayer or two in gratitude for having been delivered from those thugs.

    Or, once he'd spoken to his rescuer--holy shit, did she fly in here all by herself?--he would take the time to do that, but only afterward.

    "Well, I know I haven't done anything super yet," he managed, once he felt himself start to shake a bit less. "I mean, other than fighting killer snowmen and escaping a volcano, I'm pretty average."


    Yeah, 'average' pretty much described him in a nutshell, 'cause he'd never had much by way of 'super powers' other than a clear mind and a strong survival instinct. To begin with, it hadn't exactly been all that easy to run so hard, let alone plan it in advance. The thought of slipping through that cabin window and sneaking into the truck without being seen or heard had been exhausting enough, because really, he had almost thought he would be found out at some point and wind up with a vertical smile across his throat. How comforting it was that he still had a little fight left.

    "Those guys, on the other hand...well, they've gotten it into their heads that I'm some kinda rebel type. That I spend my days driving out whole gangs of bandits with a blindfold over my eyes and a horse-whip in my hand. Search me on where they got that idea."


    Having said that, he tentatively gave the 'ostrich' a few strokes upon its head, but only once he could be sure it wouldn't bite him first.

    "Say, what do you call Big Bird over here?"


    @Oerba Yun Fang
     
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  12. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

    Posts:
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    'Big Bird' gave a soft kweh and pressed its head into the man's touch. Fang's smile warmed, and her posture loosened further.

    "This your first time seeing a chocobo?"

    Most worlds didn't have them, as far as she knew. It was weird to think about. Where Fang was from, chocobos ran up and down the expanse of the Archylte Steppe in herds dozens strong, a sight as common as the sunset, or stars in the night sky. Then again, the assorted people that had been dragged into Pandora talked about all sorts of critters and beasts that sounded to Fang like the result of a bard after too much to drink. Maybe for them, chocobos were closer to myth than reality.

    "Wild chocobos are pretty friendly, as long as you don't make 'em think you're gonna harm their nests. Didn't know there was a herd out here." Here, so close to Horizon.

    Was this man from Horizon? She didn't recognize him, but it had been... literal decades since the version of Horizon that Fang knew. Now, the place had changed. Just like everything else in this blasted box. She was still re-learning names and faces.

    Another chocobo wandered close, head turning sharply as it regarded the red metal gleam of Fang's lance over her shoulder. She clicked her tongue encouragingly. Not gonna use this on you, feathery fella.

    The bird kept its distance.

    "So, you're not a rebel," Fang continued after a moment, looking a little disappointed. "Where are you from, then? And what's your name?"
     
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  13. Gerold Hirschberg

    Gerold Hirschberg Inglourious Basterds

    Posts:
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    Age:
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    "Pretty much. Long story short, we don't see birds like these up in the mountains."

    Not that he wouldn't have wanted to, of course. Pino would have probably loved 'em to death, for one. Zeke would have written them into his next play, for another. And as for anybody else...well, can you say 'selfie'??

    "Morhall. I worked as a hunter there, and my name's Gerold Hirschberg. And, well...I just wanted to live in peace and quiet, but people from the outside tried takin' over anyway, so..."


    That was a story for another time, though. Right now...maybe he could start by wringing the water out of his sleeves a bit.

    "...Guess we can count 'Defense' as part of my skill set. Back home, however...well, is it okay if we take this someplace a little less...open to attack by ugly people we don't know?"


    @Oerba Yun Fang
     
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  14. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

    Posts:
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    Morhall. Now, there was a name she hadn't heard in a while. And for most folks, it was a name they hadn't heard in a long while.

    Fang gave Gerold an appraising look, wondering if he had the same memory problems that she did. The same screwed up perception of time, of decade-long gaps that shouldn't exist.

    Well, well. This day suddenly got a whole lot more interesting.

    Aside from bullying a few gangsters, that is.

    Fang cocked her head at his suggestion. Her smile was shallow, the gleam in her eye just a touch predatory. "I don't mind a little light exercise... But I see your point. Come on. I know a spot."

    She made to march away from the river, glancing back to give Gerold a stronger, more genuine smile.

    "And I'm Fang. Nice to meet you."

    ---​

    There were no few caves in the hills around Horizon. Fang was still learning them all, helped along by advice from more experienced scouts and some of her own self-guided tours. One in particular she liked very much, a cave whose mouth faced west, towards the sunset, and whose roof opened up to a generous view of the sky. Sunshine and rain fed a pool of grass and flowers beneath the hole. A small, hardy slice of greenery and color.

    It was here that Fang brought Gerold. It was quiet inside, the only sounds their footsteps against the stone, and the faint whisper of wind over the open roof. She stood in the sunlight, savoring its warmth on her shoulders.

    Then Fang turned to Gerold, hands perched on her hips.

    "Alright, so. Far as I know, Morhall's not around anymore, and hasn't been for a good, long time. All I can assume is that you've been around a good, long time, too. Maybe... over a hundred years, yeah?"
     
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  15. Gerold Hirschberg

    Gerold Hirschberg Inglourious Basterds

    Posts:
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    "Thanks," he managed, right before following her to a higher spot of this literal paradise. Gerold remembered wondering what Eden might have looked like back in his school days, because the Creation story had been one of his favorites (right before the snake showed up, of course). Now that he was here, however, he could only guess as to whether or not it would have looked a little bit like Horizon.

    "A hun...is that what they're saying?"


    His line of thought got turned around a little after Miss Fang told him the inevitable truth, though. Okay, well...more like a complete 180.

    "I mean...I thought some kind of time might have passed by, but that...wow."


    And, stranger still, a large part of his thoughts that came afterward revolved around all of the people he might have been dragged away from. People he would have to find a way back to, once he figured out where they'd gone.

    "Say...am I the only person from Morhall down here, or did you find any others...?"

     
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  16. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    Gerold's confusion was familiar, a near-echo of Fang's own when she'd heard the news from the first folks to find her after the supposed apocalypse. It only cemented her suspicions—that he was like her, from the 'old world'. Probably plucked up by whatever passed for gods in Pandora and thrown into this shiny new timeline.

    Fang smiled again, only for the smile to drop off her face at his question.

    "Ah, can't say for sure. I only just..." Fang's eyes briefly flicked downward in regret before returning to Gerold's face. "Well, I haven't been around long myself. Still finding my feet in this new world. I'm not even sure where all my friends got to, much less what happened to anyone else."

    It was a damn depressing thought. But not one Fang was about to let take hold of her. Not anymore. She'd done enough moping the first few days. And now that she'd found Horizon again—the Halls of Horizon—there was even less reason to whine. Why complain? She still had a home, had people who needed her.

    More than Gerold here had, it would seem.

    Fang weighed the wisdom of what she wanted to say next. Normally, she wouldn't invite just any old fella into Horizon, but if Gerold was former Morhall? That was different. Morhall people were good people, as far as she knew. People from a small and isolated town who did their best to get by, look after their own, keep out of the politics and strife of the larger region.

    Just like Horizon. Like Oerba.

    Fang tilted her chin at him. "Got any idea where you're running to now? 'Cause if you want... Well, Horizon's still around. Harder to find than it used to be," she grinned a little, "but still open to good people who aren't afraid of a little hard work. What d'you think?"
     
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