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> Judgement, a short story
Backgammon
post Sep 28 2006, 05:00 AM
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Tatsake woke up. It could have been “woke up with a start” weren’t it for the blazing pain that smashed into his head at the slight hint of movement, causing him to moan in pain and rest his head as gently as he could from the few inches he’d raised it. He pressed a hand against his forehead and winced, before opening his eyes to try to figure out where he was.

The room was dark, but he could see through a window that it was rainy outside. He didn’t recognise his surroundings. The room had a sedate, comfortable look. He could make out that green and white wallpaper covered the walls. There was sparse furniture. A nightstand to his right, and a simple wooden dresser with a fat plush teddy bear on it, next to a white door, which was closed. Tatsake could see faint light spilling in from under it. It didn’t look like he was in immediate danger, so he allowed himself to relax a bit. Answers would, as they always must, eventually come.

He shut his eyes and remembered the recent past. He was driving down a road. The storm was making things difficult. Something dashed across the road, right in front of him. He swerved, and then presumably slammed into something. What a mundane accident. This much pain, and he wasn’t even on a job. No one shooting at him or chasing him. Even criminals have normal, bad days, he guessed.

“A fucking racoon”, he murmured out loud, his brain having had time to analyse what he’d seen scurry across the road.

The door to his room opened up, slowly, gently. A young ork woman’s head peeked in, before the rest of her gently came into the room. Actually, she was more of a girl than a woman. Couldn’t be more than eighteen, twenty, tops. She had short blond hair; the tiniest little tusks, very fair skin, wore a black and red tee, and had a lip piercing. Very cute, ork or no. She smiled timidly at Tatsake.

“You okay?”, she asked. He grunted and moved the covers off him a little.

“What am I doing here? Who are you?”

“Oh, well, yeah. You crashed right in front of my house, see” she gestured through a wall. Tatsake could not, in fact, see, but he went with it anyway. “And well, you didn’t look so bad, just kinda out of it, so I brought you in while I called a tow truck.”

“Uh. Well, uh, thanks”. Tatsake was hit with a spike of adrenaline as his mind suddenly started racing, thinking if he had anything incriminating in his car. She must’ve seen his expression, because she said “If you’re looking for your gun and, um, electronic thingies, I hid it before calling the tow truck, you know. You can have them back when you want”

Now Tatsake looked at her intently. She was shyly keeping her gaze away from him. He hesitated with his thoughts a bit, then decided it hurt too much inside his head, so he just spit it out. “You saw I had gun. A Big Gun. And you brought me in your house anyway. Why the fuck would you do that-” he realised he didn’t know her name “-whatever your name is.”

She looked him in the eyes to gauge his anger level, but saw that it was simply genuine puzzlement. “Amy. My name’s Amy. And... I don’t know. You didn’t look, you know, mean or anything.” She shrugged. “You looked like an okay guy.”

Tatsake looked down. For some reason, shame and guilt hit him. He cocked an eyebrow and said in a low voice “I’m not an ‘okay guy’”. He looked back up at her. Her eyes said she didn’t believe him. The stared at each other for a moment.

The silence felt awkward, so he asked her a question. “Do you live here alone?” She swallowed and shook her head. “No, with my. Boyfriend. He’s not here now” She looked like she felt as uncomfortable as he did, halting before saying “boyfriend”.

“Well, thanks Amy”. He rubbed his eyes a bit, then didn’t know what else to say, so he got out of bed. She stepped back to give him room, then led the way out of the room after saying a curt “okay.”

He left her house, and went back into the rain as the tow truck showed up. He paid the man certified cred, a large amount, so he wouldn’t report the accident. As the truck left after getting his car, only a bit banged up, out of the ditch, he looked up and saw Amy staring out of the door to her house, light from inside all around her. He’d seen her standing there, out of the corner of his eye, the whole time. He got in his car and drove away. He didn’t wave at her.

In the next week, Tatsake couldn’t get that night out of his head. He went on one job with his usual crew, which went smooth. After the run, talking to his teammates over celebratory beer, he mentioned that night and the girl. His teammates of course made fun of him and called her “his girlfriend” and made whistling sounds and kid around, to which he laughed along. Syco, the large street muscle of the team, in an uncharacteristic display of social consciousness, seriously chided him for not properly thanking her, and told him to go over there and give her a piece of cake, or something. The rest of the team stared at him in surprise at his sudden non-psychopathic behaviour before everyone erupted in laughter. But he was right, Tatsake thought. So he headed back out to Amy’s house.

It was a humid evening this time. A light mist hung in the autumn air, causing the house’s front porch lights to seem to glow rather than light. He neared the door and made to press the doorbell, when his augmented hearing picked up a racket inside. He stopped himself and listened in. Hearing yelling, he moved a foot off the balcony and peeped through the window giving into the living room. Amy and a large, muscled human male were in the area between the house’s kitchen and living room. The man had the poise of someone looking for a fight, and she was half bent, pushing him away with a hand, tears streaming down her face.

“Why you gotta make me angry like this, HUH?” shouted the male, beer in hand. No answer came, and he repeated his “HUH??” with more insistence. Amy yelled out a protest choked with the gummy sound of someone crying. The man smacked her hard across the face.

“LEAVE ME ALONE” she yelled back angrily. The man grabbed her and smacked her hard a few more times. Then he punched her in the stomach. She made a loud gasp for air and fell to the floor, making the plates in the kitchen cupboard rattle. All he heard now were sobs intermingled with gasps. “How you like that now, bitch” said the male with triumph in his voice.

“This barely hurts” murmured Amy through clenched teeth, looking up at him with daggers in her eyes. He kicked her in the stomach. The movement made him spill some beer from his bottle. He looked down on her as she merely curled up now, sobbing. He smirked, and then poured the rest of this beer on her. “Bitch” he said to himself.

The man then looked out the window. He saw Tatsake spying in on the whole scene. “Who the fuck..?” he said to himself, as he moved out of sight, towards the front door. Amy looked up from the ground at him, her blond hair a mess and her lip split right below her tiny tusk.

The front door ripped open, the man stepping over the threshold. “Who the HELL are you, mister?” he demanded angrily.

Tatsake looked at him, back at Amy, then at him again. “I...” he began, not sure.

“Get the FUCK out of here before I call the FUCKING cops for trespassing”. He smelled of alcohol.

Tatsake, looked down. This wasn’t his fight. Amy was a good girl, but this was just trouble for him. He ought to do something. He ought to. But he couldn’t. Couldn’t afford to. He shook his head. “Listen my friend, we all gotta make choices in our lives. One day this world is going to end, and we’re going to have to account for what we did.”

This man could smell someone backing down. He knew he’d won. He revelled in it. He chuckled. “What, is that it? You’re gonna give me a speech about the world ending? You fucking pussy. Get the fuck out of here. You think she doesn’t like this, the little bitch?” He pointed at her. “Look at her. You think I can’t do whatever the fuck I want to her, huh? You think you or her or anyone is gonna tell me how to treat this bitch? You know what, since you like to watch so much, why don’t you just stand there and watch as I fuck her, huh?”

With that the man headed over to where Amy lay. She screamed and pushed and slapped at him as he got to her, but he grabbed her by the air and lifted her, harshly fondling her tit with his other hand. She scored a strong slap to his face that made him drop her at his feet, but he just laughed and grabbed his belt and unbuckled it.

He must’ve been real proud of himself, because he never heard Tatsake walk in. He never heard him pull out his chrome Colt, and only realised his mistake when he felt the cold barrel against his temple. But by then it was too late. Tatsake squeezed the trigger and blew the man’s brain all over the kitchen.

Amy looked up at him from he floor, sobbing. She didn’t look scared. He himself was a bit dazed. He wasn’t used to killing people. That was Syco’s job. “It’s o.k.” he told her. “Don’t be scared.”

“I was never scared.” she said.

“He won’t hurt you again” he said, looking down at the bloody mess.

“He never hurt me.” she said.

“I have to go. I... I don’t know about you. I don’t know what I’ve done. The cops will be here” he said, wiping the blood off his gun with his shirt, and wiping his hands and face. He looked down at the mess again. “We all gotta. We all gotta make choices for ourselves” he murmured his own previous words.

“Take me with you. I’ve got nothing but ash here” she said, startling Tatsake. He hesitated. She didn’t know what she was asking. But then again, he couldn’t leave her here. He didn’t want to. “Ok” he told her.

She got up, slowly. There was fire in her eyes. He could see she had never been broken. He had never managed to break her, which must’ve drove him furious and made him beat her even harder. She didn’t even wince when she got up. “Just let me get one thing.” She went towards the room where she’d nursed Tatsake, and came out seconds later with the fat plush teddy bear.

They got into Tatsake’s car and drove away, leaving the front door and all the lights open.

[ Spoiler ]
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emo samurai
post Sep 29 2006, 01:03 AM
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A pretty good story; the only problem is that it could take place in any universe aside from the orc girl. There aren't many setting-specific details.
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Fygg Nuuton
post Sep 29 2006, 07:12 AM
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QUOTE (emo samurai @ Sep 28 2006, 06:03 PM)
A pretty good story; the only problem is that it could take place in any universe aside from the orc girl. There aren't many setting-specific details.

Tatsake was a cyberzombie with a free spirit inhabiting him which was summoned by an Immortal Elf but went free when a dragon killed him. Better?

That being said, ignore the emo samurai, it was very good.
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Backgammon
post Sep 29 2006, 12:48 PM
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Ain Soph Aur
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Thanks Fygg, but he actually does have a point I had already realised before posting it. To point out a counter-argument: it's not NOT shadowrun story either. The lack of SR-specificness somehow doesn't invalidate the story. In some way, it just goes to show that some tings never change. From the accident to the girlfriend-beating, all of it still holds up as "SR events". I could have intected details about his autonav not saving him, or that the TV in the background was playing a news story about shedim, but all of it is detail inconsequential to this story.

What this story isn't, is cyberpunk, or noir and moody. Which is what us shadowrun players tend to like in our fiction. That's why I think this story is more like a "lite" short story, a B-side of shadowrun fiction.
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Critias
post Sep 29 2006, 02:22 PM
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QUOTE (emo samurai @ Sep 28 2006, 08:03 PM)
A pretty good story; the only problem is that it could take place in any universe aside from the orc girl. There aren't many setting-specific details.

It doesn't need setting specific details to be a good story. It fits the feel of SR just fine, and that's more important than beating someone over the head with nitpicky shit from the universe itself.
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Wounded Ronin
post Oct 2 2006, 10:30 PM
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Did the ork and the brainless one have some kind of S&M relationship going, or what?
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Backgammon
post Oct 3 2006, 04:26 AM
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Well, not consentual S&M.
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Wounded Ronin
post Oct 3 2006, 05:23 AM
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Hmm. I'm not sure if I personally agree with how the story ended.

In a lot of cases when someone is in an abusive romantic or spousal relationship it's not like the "victim" is being held captive and would love for someone to go and blow their abuser away. Usually, they still like, love, or feel dependant on that person and would be very upset if someone did what the main character did. That is the reason that the person doesn't just leave in the first place.

I feel that more realistically the abused ork would still have been pretty horrified at her boyfriend's head being blown off...why else would she be living with him in spite of abuse in the first place if the relationship, healthy or not, weren't extremely important to her?
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Backgammon
post Oct 3 2006, 03:07 PM
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I agree.

But for the sake of the story, maybe she was purely financially dependant on him, or some other reason why she just had to stay. Maybe her family put pressure on her, turning a blind eye on her "exagerations". There's a few explanations I can think of. Stretched, but plausible.
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