The Guns of the CHOTA: Part 1-The Rise of The Condemned
Writer’s Note: This story takes place between The Condemned and You Gotta Shoot Em in the Head and is a fictionalized account of game events that took place during my wonderful time with the clan Condemned; not quite sure how many parts this story will be, but I intend for it to be an “Epic”, featuring many characters that I have encountered in the Fallen Earth World-Kathryn A. “Kit” Southworth
Kit lay in her tent, staring at the ceiling, the occasional war whoop making her jump slightly. She hadn’t been a CHOTA long; she was still getting used to their ways. As a Vista, she used stealth and silence as her allies; Vista Rangers who couldn’t master the ways of stealth didn’t live long. Now she was learning the CHOTA way, the way of strength, of domination, of imposing one’s will on an enemy. It was demanding and there were days she wanted to quit, to go back to the quiet of her dilapidated home in Thorne’s Bluff. However, there was very little to go back to nowadays. Brock, her lover, was dead, as was her mentor, The Fallen One. Kit had been looking for the Traveler called Shiu, as she had been reportedly close to Fallen. Unable to find the elusive assassin, Kit had instead gone on a death run against an Enforcer company that had killed Fallen and his trainees and ended up meeting The Condemned. The Condemned…a clan of CHOTA sworn to die fighting the enemies of the entire CHOTA faction. They had rescued Kit from certain death. Now she felt obligated to join with them. Kit mused over all of this as she lay in the tent, when a deep voice cleared its throat just outside the entrance of the tent. “Enter” Kit whispered. In strode a tall, muscular warrior. Normally sheathed in the intimidating bulk of Bulwark armor, tonight the warrior wore only soft leather pants and shirt, replete with fringes. His hair was up in a warrior’s knot slicked with oils and decorated with beads of polished bone. “Hyun…” Kit spoke, unable to say more as she stood. “Why have you not joined us, Kate?” Hyun knew the name Kit had been called by her mentor, one of the few who did. He used it when they were alone together. “Tonight we celebrate our victory over those Enforcers who tried to take over The Foothills. You played a great part in this, yet you stand apart?” Kit stared at the ground, unable to look the massive warrior in the eye. “I…just feel like being alone…” Kit tried to avoid Hyun’s gaze as she twisted her fingers in her hair and drew circles on the ground with her toe. “I’m…tired after today’s fighting…” That much was true; The Condemned had lay in wait as an Enforcer convoy drove towards The Foothills, then set off explosives, wrecking the lead vehicle. The other vehicles had scattered, most of them crashing into each other attempting to avoid that very thing. Half of the CHOTA warriors had lay in the tree line, pouring fire into any Enforcer foolish enough to try and flee the scene. The rest burst from the opposite tree line and fell upon the hapless Enforcers and their tech charges. Hyun had been in this group, pouncing on several Enforcers and braining them with a massive hammer made from the engine of a grounded jet fighter. Kit had gunned down several Tech scientists with her Rangemaster Prime sniper rifle and finally leapt from the tree line, taking out a S.I.R. shotgun and finishing off two of her victims at close range. It had taken her an hour to wash the blood off her body. “I just don’t feel like celebrating…I …I” Kit couldn’t finish. “I thought we were past this” Hyun whispered to her. “I thought I was to get the truth from you from here on out. The truth is, you are afraid…afraid to lose anymore friends” Kit tried to turn away from him, but Hyun grabbed her shoulders in a gentle but firm hold, whispering “I am NOT Fallen…I am still alive…and I will not be ignored while I am thus...look at me, Kate” Kit tried to keep looking away, but slowly locked eyes with the CHOTA warrior. “I cannot promise you that I won’t die…but I will promise you that I will live FOR you and WITH you”. Hyun wrapped his arms around Kit in a warm embrace, Kit finally allowing herself to melt within his arms and, for once, trust…
Fly stood in the center of the circle, naked except for the linen loincloth wrapped around his lower body. CHOTA women surrounded him, painting symbols of power over his body with red paint. His straight black hair was unbound and fell over his shoulders and down his back. As he stood before the clan, war whoops rang out irregularly but with gusto and volume. Warriors sang and chanted at the top of their lungs, in a steady tempo. Kyotan, the Great War Chief, sat in front of Fly cross-legged, himself naked to the waist and covered in red symbols. As the last of the symbols were applied, the chanting and singing grew louder and louder. Fly raised his arms to allow the dye to be applied to his chest and back. The CHOTA crowd howled in celebration at this until Kyotan raised his hand, and as one the voices went silent. Behind Kyotan, Dyanna lit a taper and passed it to the War Chief. The smoke from the taper filled the air as Kyotan approached Fly. Kyotan passed the taper through the air around Fly, the smoke wafting over his body and through his hair. Finally, Kyotan cast the taper into the large bonfire that had been used to light it. The surrounding CHOTA raised a massive war whoop at this, loud and long. After several minutes, Kyotan raised his arms, once more silencing the assembled warriors. “Fly…” rumbled the deep voice of the muscular, scarred older warrior. “You have proven yourself a leader today. You led The Condemned with cunning and strength. Today, you receive the mark of the Red Hand. You are now a war chief to your people” Dyanna, second-in-command of the assembled clans, dipped his hand into a bowl of red dye and placed his hand upon the left breast of Fly’s torso. When he removed his hand, a perfect handprint stained the area over Fly’s heart. The assembly raised their weapons as one and shouted louder and longer than any chant that night, howling together as a pack of wolves. Fly raised his arms once more, this time in a victory salute. The circle of CHOTA war whooped once more, holding the note until they ran out of breath. At a sign from Dyanna, the assembled warriors wound the chant down, but broke into celebration. A few CHOTA began throwing skewers hanging with meat over the fire. Others passed baskets of bread and cheeses around. Yet others shared large bottles of juniper brandy. Dancing broke out among the assembled warriors, consisting of athletic tumbling and mock fighting. Fly walked over to two of his clan mates, Crispy and Maderp. Crispy, taller but slimmer than Fly, was his Captain. Crispy developed battle strategy, including the plan for the successful raid that very day. He was also adept with all manner of weapons, killing effectively with pistols, rifles or sharp objects. Crispy smiled at his friend and war chief, his long brown hair tied back with a dream catcher of lapis lazuli. Next to him, Maderp, his mate, stood waifishly small, but athletically trim and deadly. Maddie was never unarmed, and tonight she had two gleaming white blades strapped to her waist. She, too, smiled at Fly, brushing her shoulder-length blond hair out of her eyes. The two warriors embraced Fly fiercely, holding him for several long moments. As they released, Fly and Crispy held each other’s gaze. There was no need for words. Fly understood the message: “I am with you…to the death”. Fly smiled at his two friends, then turned and was engulfed by three very young, nubile and lovely CHOTA women. As a war chief, Fly was expected to be among the bravest of warriors, risking his life without thought. As such, his bloodline was considered very valuable and he was expected to create heirs as often as he could. Mates were specifically chosen for a war chief from among the strongest and most beautiful CHOTA women, in order to encourage a war chief to mate often and produce mighty heirs. Fly himself was a product of such mating. With a crooked grin to his friends, Fly managed to grab up all three girls, carrying them in a heap until they spilled into his tent in a flood of giggles, squeals and masculine laughter. Maddie and Crispy grinned after their friend, then at each other. Maddie rested her chin on Crispy’s chest, smiling up into his eyes. Again, no words needed to be said, the message was clear: “I am with you….to the death…” Crispy grasped Maddie’s waist as they walked back to their tent. As they reached the tent flap, Crispy hoisted the lithe warrior-woman onto his shoulder, slapping her backside with a free hand. Maddie kicked and squealed with a huge grin on her face as her mate carried her into the tent, Crispy planning on creating a few heirs of his own.
Colonel Ebaloff, commander of the Red Alert Division, Enforcer Command, stood next to his personal command vehicle, surveying the scene of a massacre. His Akula Battalion was spread out and searching the area in and around the wreckage. Several of the vehicles from the convoy that was supposed to be resupplying his division were burning in the road, their occupants strewn about in various death poses. Worse, the upgraded weapons, the very weapons that would have given him the edge against the CHOTA that were running wild in this sector, were either burning or missing. A trooper came bounding out of the woods wearing power assisted armor. The trooper cradled a powerful GlobalTech Warmain rifle in his arms and gave a crisp salute as he reached Ebaloff. The soldier launched into a report of the findings so far, but Colonel Ebaloff barely listened. He could care less how much gas was found and could be salvaged…that was a matter for his bean-counters. What concerned him was how these CHOTA managed to outfight 30 of his best troops, wipe out 4 of his Special Forces troopers and destroy or steal his weapons shipment. He had heard of them, of course, these “Condemned”. Enforcer Command had thought them a myth until they had driven the 1st Canyon Division out of The District earlier that month. Fortunately, almost all of the casualties were wounded, but it was later determined to be the case because The Condemned wanted to “throw the little fish back”, as a note pinned to the commander of the retreating unit suggested. This had both enraged and encouraged Ebaloff. He was angry that his men, his faction…had been so effortlessly abused and disrespected. But on the other hand, a victory over these CHOTA would make him the most popular commander the Enforcers had…and Sarah Masters couldn’t stay in command forever. Another one of his troops walked up, this time, a Special Forces officer. The officer’s crisp green and brown camouflaged uniform and well-maintained gear marking him as elite. “Sir,” the soldier stated, “It was them…The Condemned. Our source has confirmed it”. Ebaloff looked at the ground for several moments, and then shook his head. Finally, he looked up at the trooper. “Get the Katyusha teams unpacked” Ebaloff said gruffly, “and inform Major Cobraz that I want sniper teams sweeping the area. Lastly, Captain…send HIM to me…”
Shiu sat with her feet on the table and her cards held casually in her hands. The other four occupants of the table stared at her with varying degrees of hatred, disgust or apprehension, or at least two of the three. Shiu began humming as she looked at her cards, ticking a finger off the tip of the last one. “C’mon, woman…what’s it gonna be?” The largest and scruffiest of the lot demanded. Shiu looked over her cards at him with almond-shaped eyes of amber. A slight smile rose from her lips. “Well…I suppose they’ll say I have heat-stroke…but I’ll see your 1 red…and raise you 2 red…” With this announcement, two of the ruffians, a middle-aged scar-covered man in black leather and a younger man wearing a heavy camouflage jacket, folded. “Too rich for my blood” The older man declared. The younger man simply glared at Shiu, who continued to smile. The larger ruffian glared as well, then stated, “I’ll see your 2 red…and raise you….one more…” As he pitched in the chip, the last of the other ruffians folded as well. “Hmmm…” Shiu mused, “Pot’s up to 1 yellow…must be a…honey of a hand” Shiu’s Asian features displayed a look of perpetual boredom as she made this announcement. “You gonna call or what, darlin’?” The large man thundered, sweat pouring off his brow. A slow, crooked smile began to spread across Shiu’s face. “Well…I suppose I’m crazy, but….yeah…I’ll call”. With that announcement, the ruffian, as large as a bear, stood and slammed his cards onto the table. “Read ‘em and freakin’ WEEP!!!!” The ruffian thundered, with an air of self-satisfaction. On the table lay a pain-stakingly crafted full house, Kings over aces. The large ruffian began reaching for the pile of chips, a yellow-stained grin stretched across his face. Shiu coughed gently, causing the ruffians to start. The large one’s head snapped around to glare at her. “I suppose I should congratulate you on finally winning your money back…” Shiu announced, the slow smile reappearing on her face, “sadly…I cannot…you see…” Shiu leaned forward, tossing her cards on the table, revealing a perfect straight flusk, consisting of Spades 7 through Jack. Shiu took her feet off the table with a thud, leaned over and raked the pile of chips towards her with a toothy grin. “Go figure….four times in a row! My luck’s held out all night it seems! I might even get laid tonight…” Shiu chuckled at her own bad humor. The ruffians, shocked, looked around at each other in bewilderment, then anger. The largest one leaned over the table and appeared to grow even larger. “I’m saying you’re a cheat” the ruffian declared. Shiu looked up from her pile of chips, feigning shock at the accusation. “Why, Xuki….what an ugly thing to say….” Shiu looked up at the large ruffian named Xuki with feigned hurt. “You’ve gone and hurt my feelings…you really should apologize…” Shiu looked at Xuki with an air of bored playfulness. “Who do you think you are, woman!?!?!? I want my money back, and I want it NOW!!!!” Xuki slammed his hands onto the table as he shouted at Shiu. “Now Xuki…you’re making a scene…and you spilled beer...that’s a hanging offense in Embry, so it’s a good thing we’re in Tannersfield, yes?” Shiu chuckled a bit at her own baiting humor, but was sure the bear-like ruffian knew she meant to insult him. The one called Xuki stepped back from the table, throwing his poncho aside to reveal a large Pale Raven handgun, scope mounted on top, in a cross-draw holster strapped to his chest. “yeah…that’s right, lesbo..keep laughing…laugh all the way to the grave”. At the same time, the other ruffians rose as well. One unsnapped holster straps on dual .38 GA-15 revolvers. Another pulled a sawed off lever-action shotgun. The last one brandished paired machetes. All of them glared hatred at Shiu. Seated, Shiu flinched at the slur, surveying the ruffians arrayed around her and as she did, her eyes went black, blacker than coal. With her eyes locked on the ruffians, Shiu intoned to the bartender, “Tell the undertaker to dig four holes…” In a blur of motion, Shiu rose and drew her weapons at the same time, the twin Deathmax magnums appearing to teleport into her hands. She split her fire, panning the weapons to the left and right independently. As this was happening, a fifth ruffian burst from the bar’s restroom and raised a rough-hewn sword over his head from directly behind Shiu. Without looking, Shiu aimed one pistol over her shoulder, firing twice into the head of this last attacker. As soon as it began, the firing was over. Smoke curled and drifted away from the table as Shiu walked from behind it. She walked towards the pile of dead ruffians, who had fallen all over each other in a heap. As she stood over them, one of them gurgled and began to roll over. A single thunderous shot rang out and the gurgling ceased. Shiu walked back to the table, gathered her chips and knelt next to the bloody pile of ruffians. She searched the bodies quickly, finding very little she needed or wanted. As she searched the body of the one called Xuki, Shiu pulled a sheaf of papers from underneath the poncho. Shiu looked through the sheaf, a thoughtful look on her face. As she reached the last page, her black eyes had returned. She stood up quickly and strode to the bartender. “Tell the sheriff I want the bounty on that one”, Shiu pointed back towards the corpse that was once Xuki. The bartender, a middle-aged man with a bald head and expanding paunch, shook his head vigorously. Shiu tossed the man a red chip with a flourish of her hand as she began leaving the bar. “Sorry about the mess…and tell the undertaker my mistake…I meant five holes”.
The Condemned are celebrating a recent victory, unaware of what’s coming…The Red Alert Division is moving in…bringing a deadly weapon with them…Shiu has found something on a bounty that has caused her concern…keep following to find out what happens next in The Guns of the CHOTA…