|Mon did this!|
Rare book dealer Virginia_Woolf vanished without a trace, leaving Half-Light (Evoro, mercenary), Crocodile (Monsieur le Battalier, doctor), and Michael (Isaak, criminal) not only without their promised 1593 Japanese printing of The Divine Comedy and all three volumes of a 1979 The Last Dangerous Visions, but down their entire deposit. That's enough to go fuck someone up over.
After paying even more (in the form of hard cider, instant noodles, and the last of the weird porn) to the oracle in the abandoned mini-mall, they were able to get a trace on their seller, a trace that sent them five hours away and across state lines, to an abandoned-looking farmhouse in the middle of grey, dead farmland.
They pull up the dirt driveway to find a truck and a sedan already there. The house's windows have been boarded up, but the door is ominously open.
The trio investigate the sedan first, with Michael easily jimmying the lock open. Inside they find a couple boxes of paradox paperbacks (such as Mark Twain's The Alchemist and His Dog), old fast food wrappers for Great Googly Moogly's, and a duffel bag containing a man's clothes, toiletries, and an ID for a youngish, bespectacled man with curly brown hair named Archie Staller. They move it all to their own car.
Michael makes sure that he can hotwire the car if he needs to, as the house door is caught by the breeze and swings wide open. The trio sweeps in, guns in hand.
The scene that greets them is mountains of trash ringing a carved-up corpse in the middle of the floor, surrounded by sinuous symbols in white paint. The corpse's head is missing, and one of the legs has been cubed and dumped in a wok on a camping stove. The whole thing smells like roadkill dunked in a spice cabinet. Crocodile is able to recover from the extreme nausea caused by stepping over the ritual circle and decides to take the wok with her. Half-Light and Michael rummage through the trash and find a pair of pants and an ID: the same face as before, now with the name Seamus McMann. Plus $500 in cash.
Brief reconnaissance of the dining room shows that the table has been sloppily and not-entirely cleaned of the paint and blood that once covered its surface. The kitchen is a disaster: shelves torn out of the cabinets and fridge, more stains on the walls and floor. A black 3-ring binder lies open on the floor, ignored. They pass through and on to the black mouth of the basement steps.
Down in the darkness, they find cubicles of plywood lining the walls and bungee cords tied to the pipes above. On the floor, there is the fleshy mess with a ragged mouth that used to be a man named Leonard. He's chatty, explaining how he deserves his lot for his failure to fulfill the principle act of power, how Chuck in the barn succeeded, and how Rachel might still be around. Leonard wishes for death, for in his current state starvation will take a terribly long time: he's already been here a week.
Crocodile, ever a sensible woman, runs up to the mud room to grab a snow shovel and trash bag to stuff Leonard into and carry him around as if she's some horrible anti-Santa.
As the group emerges back in the kitchen, a scraping sound from outside runs across the window boards. The silence to follow is oppressive, as they tread up the creaking stairs to the upper floor.
There's relatively little of note upstairs: a grimy bathroom and a trashed bedroom. The computer is still on (3d pipe screensaver!), despite there being no power to the rest of the house. They strip out the hard drive and the flash drive that was plugged in (they do not view the "untitled.mp4 video contained thereon). On the hard drive is:
- Ye gods that is a lot of porn. It's not even good porn. It's bad by Deviantart standards.
- A 300-page manifesto detailing global catastrophe and the rise of an eternal capitalist technofascist government.
- Financial records, though not particularly illuminating ones.
- A pdf of an Chinese text, with a machine translation.
Something scuttles on the roof above them.
Down the stairs. Thuds on the kitchen door. Crocodile pulls away the boards on the kitchen window, grabs her pepper spray and hits Leonard full in the face with it before tossing the screaming flesh-thing out the window.
The distraction doesn't work.
There's a woman silhouetted in the front door against the grey light of mid-afternoon for a moment before she rushes across the living room. There is the glint of a cleaver.
Michael is on his toes and leaps out the window, sprinting around the house. Crocodile blasts her pepper spray to no effect, but is able to follow behind as Rachel's cleaver comes down a hair too late, biting into the sill. Half-Light, who had her rifle prepped from the kitchen, takes a shot and books it to the front door. she is just able to make it before Rachel slices open her back. Crocodile and Michael sprint around the house to jump in their car. The cleaver finds Half-Light's eye. Blood is pouring everywhere, she will not last. The car starts, Crocodile fires off a shot from the passenger side, Half-Light throws herself to the side, Michael floors it.
With no time to spare they hit Rachel with the car and send her flying. Crocodile throws open the door, grabs Half-Light, and drags her inside. Michael floors it for a second time and they tear off down the driveway, spitting up gravel as Rachel rises from the ground and howls at the receding car.
Crocodile is able to stabilize Half-Light before she bleeds out with the first aid kit she brought with her, and it's a terrible five hours home.
Michael has a hideout underneath an abandoned factory in one of the City's old industrial districts. Crocodile gets to work repairing Half-Light's eye (it'll be a bit blurry but will remain intact if it isn't injured again), and Michael gets to work at draining Chuck's credit cards with bulk buying gift cards.
They're able to break even, more or less, though they still don't have the books they wanted.
The barn remains sealed.