• Graded • Fire in the hole

Gangui, Zipper, and a very sad Finn.

With the escalation of hostilities between Etzos and Rhakros, a series of small walled towns is being established as a network of early warnings and defenses against Rhakros' reprisals. Only the very bravest and most formidable of characters should risk themselves on the Witches' Wilds frontier.

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• Graded • Fire in the hole

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:55 pm

Fire in the hole

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20th Cylus, 717


Finn blinked as the burlap sack was pulled away, revealing the bare, cold basement of the tower. The Sons of Justice were certainly trying to do a good job, but he knew exactly where he was thanks to a few shreds of conversations he’d overheard as he’d been guided down the tower overlooking Foster’s Landing. His hands were bound and the room was only dimly lit by a shaft of light pouring through a slit high up in the wall. It ought to be frightening to one his age, but he'd found himself too often in such rooms to be even remotely concerned. He knew the man who led this gang of vigilantes and though Gangui was about as gentle as a rock, he very much doubted the barbarian would seriously punish small time pyromaniacs. Amnesty or not, few people enjoyed the presence of the pirates and he was more than happy to explain to the mustache that he’d acted out of revenge. To his guilt however, there could be no doubt. His skin was dry, his hair blazed back by heat and the fringes of his tunic still smouldered a little from the havoc he had caused. In silence he waited for the inevitable interrogation by head Turkey Gangui the fool.

But no moustache came. Oh, he wished the moustache came in lieu of who actually showed up.

“You?” He managed to make the word sound questioning, then surprised, and then mildly amused in precisely that order. “Nice to see you again,” he added with a faint smile as he held up his hands, silently asking her to undo the ropes.

She didn’t.

Didn’t in a multitude of ways: didn’t scream at him, didn’t say a word, didn’t move an inch ever since she walked through that door. Just stood in front of him staring at him in a way he couldn’t decipher.

“Suit yourself,” Finn shrugged as he dropped his hands back in his lap. ”I’m surprised you’re still working for mustache man. I told you he was dangerous. Now he has this,” he leaned back to look around the almost bare room, “and a few dozen men at arms. He’s doing quite well for himself.”

More silence. More of that strange stare she was giving him. He recognized it now; she had that stare on her when she was looking at a crippled dog for the first time, wondering whether to leave it be or put it down.

“You’re not going to be angry with me, are you?” There was a tinge of disappointment in his voice. If she really thought things were still the same after all that had happened. . . As he leaned forward in his chair he lowered his voice for emphasis. “They were pirates. Besides, I have to be back in Etzos before the end of the season, so if you could skip the formalities…”

“Why?”

“I have a job now.”

“That’s not a job,” she said. “That’s being a pet hound.”

“I get a salary from Mr. Tagley. It’s as good a job as any,” he answered. “Now if you could untie me please. . .” he stretched out his hands again.

“You can do it yourself by now.”

A knowing smirk played at his lips as he looked down at the rope and focused his attention on the ether surrounding it. Rope was held together by fibre and fibre could be corroded. At first, nothing seemed to happen but after half a bit the rope began to tear and fray like old cotton and when he moved his wrists, the rope gave way and fell off like a snake shedding its skin.
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Fire in the hole

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:20 pm

Fire in the hole

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“I forget sometimes. Not everyone has two magics,” he remarked dryly. Her eyes narrowed. But before she could say anything, he raised his hand and stood up. “If you have any questions, better start asking. I don’t have much time-”

“We’re leaving Etzos tonight.”

“Good.” He was so absorbed in his own thoughts that he assumed she’d offered to ride back to Etzos with him and gave an appreciative nod in reply. It appeared he had matured a few arcs in the span of a few dozen trials, his voice was calm and formal as if there could be no doubt that he could walk out of the room whenever he pleased. “You know,” he started. “I’m surprised they sent you down here. Unless you didn’t tell them first we’ve already gone through this,” he gestured around the room, “at least ten times before. Do they even know that we’re related? Does he know?”

“We are leaving Etzos tonight,” she said again. “I need you to listen.”

He froze, a dissatisfied frown marred his face. “I thought you were going to Etzos?”

“I don’t know why he left you to your own devices for a entire half a season but we are done here.” Zipper said. “Third time: We are LEAVING Etzos tonight.”

“You know the old adage about asking for forgiveness, not permission?”

“Exactly the situation we are in right now.”

With a few strides he closed the distance between them and laid a hand on her shoulder before shaking his head. “Not really feeling like it today sis. I have a duty to Etzos.”

“You don’t and you’re getting into that portal tonight.”

His hand fell to his side as he sighed. “About as likely as you stopping commanding me.” He hadn’t expected her to be quite as difficult as she was being, and he wondered why. “What’s the destination?”

“Rharne.”

His answer was equally brief.

“Why?”

“We had this conversation too many times: you get caught, we get out.”

“There’s no we,” he sniped at her. “Aye we’ve talked about this again and again, but you were right, you know, when you said I misremembered the past, that it was all a lie. I see it very clearly now: it has always been about you. Look,” he stared at the floor, gathering his thoughts. “If you need my help in Rharne, perhaps something can be arranged, but I am not running away from my responsibilities again. I owe Mr Tagley. I can’t just leave.”

“What did he say to you, Fi?” she asked. She was too calm this time to be anything but. “What did he promise you? Because whatever he said, whatever he’ll do-”

At that very moment a knock sounded followed by the sound of armoured boots. Finn promptly sat down on the chair again and folded his hands behind his back while hiding the remains of the rope under the sole of his boot.

“Apologies,” the man, wearing a gambeson emblazoned with a large turkey said. His hand rested on the pommel of a one-and-a-half hand dangling from his belt. “You might want to come upstairs,” he told Zipper, “and take the prisoner with. Commander Gangui wishes to see you.”
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Fire in the hole

Postby Gangui » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:22 pm

Image Brooding over the pile of papers and scrolls on his desk was the grimacing leader of the Sons of Justice, Gangui. Tugging on his own whiskers, he stared at the missives, letters, and ledgers of the company.

A heavy wooden chair embossed with cast iron was the seat of the faction leader. His desk fashioned in the same way: heavy, simple, and riveted with iron trims. The floor was surprisingly cold for there was no carpet to cover the stone. The narrow slit of the window was placed in a way to completely fill the room with light, but a couple torch holders lined the walls. There was nowhere to sit.

The door behind them thudded back into its lock after the two had entered, sending a little puff of dust through the room. Finn made no effort to pretend to be restrained as he stepped forward and greeted Gangui almost casually, as though they were old friends.

Raising his head Gangui looked up from his papers then back down. A few moments passed, then suddenly the man jumped to his feet. The heavy wooden hair scrapping loudly. He wore no armor today, only the chainmail shirt with no padding as if it was a undergarment.

“Finn!” A look of surprise brightened up his face as he went around the corner of the desk and approached the lad. He didn’t smile, but even if he did the boy wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

He looked at Zipper though, “What did he do this time?” Finding out that Finn was Zipper’s blood was hardly a surprise for Gangui after dealing with the O’Connors for these past two seasons. He wondered if their father was some sort of animal that whined about everything people did.

“Nothing that can’t be solved privately,” she said.

“Finn, it is important to understand what we do this day is not only to keep you alive another day, but for the betterment of yourself and your entire nation.” He towered over Finn impressing his great stature over him. He widened his eyes, reminding him with his face of the consequences of misbehavior.

“You’re not going to side with her are you?” Finn answered stiffly.

Gangui slapped the boy with the back of his bare hand, not too hard to hurt him, “You will stop this insolence towards your sister as long as you are in these walls!”

A hand shot up to his cheek, patting the skin, as if to verify that he’d really been struck. He sent an incredulous look to both Gangui and Zipper before retreating a pace, his face stuck in utter disbelief. “What was-” he decided to shut up before he invited more of the commander’s justice.

Gangui stood up again, the demeanor on his face serious, “You are too old to be spanked, so from now on you will take extreme ownership of your behavior, or you will tried as an adult. Understand?”

“They were only pirates!” Finn protested.

He held up a single finger, “One! One chance is all you get with me. And you already burned it with your stunt with the pirates.” He looked at Zipper to make sure Finn understood.

“Perhaps he should be kept here for a spell.” she said, her face neutral. “Locked away until he learns his lesson.”

Gangui raised an eyebrow, “Yes, perhaps young Finn would like to serve his sentence out honorably and save his freebie for a later date? What’s the law again Zipper? 400 trials in jail?”
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Fire in the hole

Postby Zipper » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:28 pm

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“For attacking pirates open to Foster’s amnesty? Maybe more. But perhaps the freebie you speak of could be used to mitigate this sentence - No. Let him serve it.”

The mustachio slowly nodded his head, “Alright! Finn! 650--”

Six-hundred-fifty!” his voice was more of a shriek now and his face expressed the utmost horror before he promptly turned around and strode toward the door.

He tried anyway.

The area in front of the door erupted in a huge wall of concrete that barred his exit. Like the time in Zipper’s office, Gangui remembered the first time she had conjured the same type of wall to barr his exit.

As he spun around again a sharp howl of wind blasted through the narrow slit in the wall.

Gangui quickly turned to look at the spell. It smelled of Robin. As if snuffed out by a basket, the good and generous mood was gone. Flashing forward in a single step, he lunged forward and grabbed Finn by the shirt and shook him until he looked the warrior in the eyes.

“Do you remember what happened an arc ago boy? Do you think I love you like your sister? What happened for your hate for me? What happened to your strength? You will submit to me NOW!

If Zipper had any objections to the discipline, she seemed uncharacteristically content to let it play out.

Her brother however, was less cooperative, his fingers wrapped around Gangui’s wrist, on the verge of breaking his grip, but then he relented. “Why are you siding with the pirates? They’re not honorable! You-” he wisely swallowed his last remark.

Gangui threw the boy to the floor roughly, no intentions on being gentle, “That is out of the scope of your knowledge entirely!” He kicked Finn in the stomach, “Your actions will cause the deaths of many lives you fucking fool!”

“Perhaps,” Zipper said a bit tersely. “We should lay off the fists. He’s facing punishment enough, Mister Gangui. No need to add on to it.”

Finn seemed to agree, though his expression was largely hidden behind a pained grimace.

“The beating will stop,” Gangui said with noisy breath toward’s Zipper, “When Finn stands up and takes accountability for what he has done.” He looked at Finn on the floor and raised his boot for another kick. “Submit, Finn, Submit?”


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Fire in the hole

Postby Zipper » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:28 pm

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The first answer was a groan followed by a few scuffing noises as Finn raised himself and shot an angry stare between the two. There was still resistance on his face, and for the first time, also a hint of wisdom, a sense of a plan. “Fine,” he grumbled in a voice that betrayed the reverse. “I yield if you let me go back to Etzos. I have to get back.”

“And not sit out your sentence?” Zip said. “How do we account to the any pirate of Foster’s willing to swear that fealty?”

Gangui slowly walked to the back of the chamber, his anger with Finn simmering as he returned from his pacing. “Your sister is kind, Finn, I hope you are beginning to realize this now. There is no reason to explain to you politics at this point.” He stood in front of Finn once again with his hands on his hips, “There is no cheating this process Finn.

“Whether you like it or not, you are no longer going to be treated as a child when you leave this room. So I ask you. Will you stand and parley with me? I am sure zipper will explain these negotiations as we go. Your other option is going to jail.”

“You can take Gangui’s justice, Fi,” Zipper said in the expression that meant she was being serious. “Or surrender yourself into my custody and I will,” she looked at Gangui. “Educate him on how to be a more responsible patriot.”

There wasn’t much of a choice, and Finn realized as much even as he clutched his stomach with both hands. Setting Gangui’s desk on fire wasn’t quite worth six hundred and fifty days in a lonely room. “You call it justice,” he muttered bitterly. “I’ll have that then.”

“Verily,” Gangui started, “Finn first off you must swear to speak only of business, not your feelings or opinions. This is not a debate or a duel or fun times in the playground in your case, this is a deal between us. Do you understand?”

“Last offer.” she said. “The state or me.”


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Fire in the hole

Postby Zipper » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:29 pm

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Finn reeled visibly. This wasn’t a false choice like the one before, this was an impossible one. Zipper was plain enough in her explanation: either he sided with her and life would go on as it normally did, with all their stiff conversations and all their infighting, or he could take this chance to separate himself from her once and for all. Even as the thought of freedom welled up inside, he realized it wasn’t quite true. Through the spark they were still irreversibly interlinked. But the choice had already been made many seasons ago. His eyes fell on Zipper and he bit down on his lips, struggling to keep his emotions from getting the better of him. “I’m sorry,” he snivelled. “I don’t see how we- I…” he stuttered, then looked away but not before his shoulders fell with a deep sigh. “I choose Etzos,” he mumbled.

“That is a wise choice young Finnegan!” the large commander bellowed, “We shall proceed then-”

“May I have a private word with my brother?”

Gangui nodded and slowly returned to his massive iron chair to pretend to sort through papers as he listened in the best he could while the siblings moved to a private corner.

"You're hurting after Molly, I get it." she said. "You're angry, you're upset, you want to believe there's something more in this world." She could empathize... on a theoretical level, maybe. She had never mourned another person before; but she had encountered enough sorry, sobbing excuses of people to make something resembling a case. "But you don't need to get away from everything and anyone just because of it. You don't have to prove yourself."

A fat tear splashed on the freshly constructed floor. He shook his head again and again as he repeated the same, futile phrase that she’d already heard him say a thousand times over. “I’m sorry.” It was as pathetic now as it had always been. “You’re no better,” he tried to justify his decision between quiet sobs. “We have tried, haven’t we? It never works out. We just keep fighting and I don’t want to-” It was only because of Gangui’s presence that he didn’t let himself fall against her.

“Zipper,” Gangui suddenly cut into the whispers, “Sorry for the interruption, could you look at this really quick for me? It’ll only take a second.” He waved the paper up at her to come over.

Zipper glared at him but walked over regardless, leaving Finn alone in the corner, trying so very hard to man up. He watched as Gangui leaned in to whisper something inaudible in Zipper’s ear and for a trill, a great swell of anger rose to his chest. What was so important that Gangui had to tell her now? Why wasn’t he allowed to hear? The world was anything but fair. Yet as quick as Gangui had interrupted, the moment passed and his anger subsided, leaving a gaping hole in its wake.


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Fire in the hole

Postby Zipper » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:29 pm

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She should have never given him anything.

The adolescent retardation of the 12 year-old mind took to creeds like a whore took clients. He wanted to save the chickens from the farm that one time, then he found Molly and he decided they would be friends forever, and now this dribble floated into his little, cramped space he called a mind. It was difficult to imagine that they came from the same stock.

But she could not allow him... she just couldn't allow it. He had bugged her to take her to Rharne, to Rynmere, to any space he could think of once before, and even when she floated the idea in front of him, he still didn't budge.

The solution Gangui proposed was… not ideal. It kept the boy in the thick of the action, put his fragile, ever-shifting mind into the hands of an extremist patriot she was starting to find herself losing sleep over, and it sunk him deeper into state affairs as a mage, even if only in Foster’s Landing.

But it allowed her to keep a close eye on him. It kept him far from Etzos. It ensured he was too busy doing work to fantasize about running off to the employ of this garbage.

It kept him here after the ordeal he had been through. Kept him safe.

“Is that how you really feel?” Zipper said, her voice all but begging him to reconsider. “Is that how you really fuckin’ feel?”

The warrior glared at Zipper coldly, “I made him a soldier already,” Murderer he meant, “The boy will listen to me. He’s a bastard after all and it will do him good to work in the field. Sometime or another he will have to learn accountability.”

“My parents were wed,” Zipper said, still looking at Finn. “I would mind your tongue.”

Not knowing this fact, Gangui nodded silently.

“You never told me!” Finn cried from the corner, his face screwed up into an angry scowl again. “You never said they were wed! You always keep everything to yourself until it’s convenie-” He already moved to jump forward, but then his eyes found Gangui’s tall shadow and he silenced once more, instead retreating further into the corner.

“You still don’t understand what you did, Fi.” Zipper said. “No, I don’t give a shit about pirates, this is about-”

“Enough!” Gangui barked slamming his fists down on the desk. To shut up Finn probably, but he looked at her for confirmation about his proposal.

“Make your case,” she said.

The warrior stood up and walked over to Finn, “I am going to give you a third option. You can renounce your evil ways and take the Justice Oath to serve as my personal squire, eventually to become a Turkey Knight.”

Finn rested his head against the nearest wall and stared furiously at the ceiling, but the crushing weight of silence soon became too heavy a burden to bear and his gaze was forced back down to where Zipper and Gangui stood on opposite ends of the simple desk. “I don’t know,” he sighed, his voice a mere shadow of the cockiness with which he’d entered. Yet it was the most honest answer he’d given in a long time. His eyes fell on Fiona. She was always the one who lead the way, who had shown him what to say and do when they had been younger. “What do you think?”

“You know my first option,” she said.

“That has never worked.”

“Says who.”

He pushed his back off the wall and edged closer toward the desk. “I do. I know it’s true and you know it too. We always fight. Even now. I just want it to be quiet, please.”
“Coward.”

And with that, she stomped out of the room.


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Fire in the hole

Postby Gangui » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:30 pm

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When Zipper left so did the sunlight. As the cold clouds of Cylus covered the sun, the mood in the room dropped into gloom, nearly folly. Time was running out to make a decision for Finn and he had to speak up soon, Gangui would make sure of it.

“Finn,” Gangui said sternly, but in a normal volume. He walked over towards the boy backed up into the corner, “If you swear the Justice Oath your life will improve tremendously. You will grow strong and tall. Learn to fight with sword and buckler. You’ll learn to ride. You will experience battle. Glory and women and eventually a family. It is a good life, an exciting life.”

The boy remained silent, his gaze fixed on the door through which his sister, his anchor had left. When he turned, he nodded, though with trepidation. All that had transpired weighed heavily on his heart. “I had to,” he muttered, more to himself than to Gangui. “She was holding me back.” He flinched a little as though he only now realized that he’d uttered his thoughts out loud. When his arms fell to his sides, he turned to the mustachio with a questioning look. “...Gangui?” he started tentatively.

The warrior raised his hand up ready to smack the kid, but waited to see if he understood what he did wrong. For all of Finn’s rebellion, the boy did understand how things worked, even if he didn’t understand the consequences.

“Commander?” He tried, quickly correcting himself.

“Yes,” He said curtly, dropping his hand back down without harming the boy.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” he said.

“Finn, despite my tough ways, I am here to look out for you, because of my loyalty to your sister Zippomaria-”

“Fiona,” he corrected before a look of horror dawned on his face as he realized his grave error. “Fiona Sir! She’s actually called Fiona...”

Slamming his foot forward, Gangui switched on his fight mode as quick as he could muster. He flashed his face right in front of Finn, “DO I LOOK LIKE A SIR TO YOU!? DO I LOOK LIKE A NOBODY!?” His whiskers touched Finns nose as the hot breathe and wicked saliva stunk the boys nose, “ONLY RANDOM PEOPLE ON THE STREET ARE ‘SIRS’. DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND! IT’S COMMANDER.”

Gangui didn’t even give the boy a chance to respond. He stood back up and breathed heavily. Finn did not like it, because Gangui would steel his bones if it was the only thing he ever imparted into the boy.

“Finn, you’ve fucked up. Admit it!”

While the boy agreed he’d made a mistake, his nervous wobbling indicated uncertainty as how to respond. “I’ve fucked up?” He repeated with great hesitation. “Commander,” he quickly added. Now he seemed even more distressed, quite possibly believing he’d screwed up admitting he’d screwed up.

“Finn, think of what you’ve done,” The warrior said in dismay, “Anywhere in the Etzos domain other than this very room is unsafe from you. Don’t you see that? You will be dead before long if you keep taking actions without the proper training. If you follow me you will learn how to survive in the games you wanna play. Do you understand that?”

“Yes commander,” the terse answer came. There was an unmistakable fear in the child’s voice and whether Gangui could trust him to be answering truthfully or if he was merely nodding along remained to be seen. “I don’t know how to fight. Aside from with my sister--”

“Finn, that doesn’t matter right now,” Gangui cut in, “All that matters is that you understand why you are in this predicament. You have to accept the fact you don’t know what you’re doing. Can’t you see all the people who will die in result of this?”

“I don’t understand. I am not doing anything! How can people die because of that?” A light tremble passed through the floor as he spoke, the earth resonated with his desperation and there was panic in his eyes.

“Remember the lesson in the wilderness with Gutter?” Gangui would attempt to persuade him from a different angle, personal experience. If the boy was anything like him, he learned stuff the hard way, not with words alone. Once he got acceptance from the boy, then maybe he could talk about the magic he had taken up.
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Fire in the hole

Postby Gangui » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:31 pm

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“Yes… commander.”

“Yes, what?” He demanded curtly.

“Yes commander, I remember commander,” he said, though he couldn’t hide his disdain for the constant use of Gangui’s official title. “I remember Gutter in the wilderness,” he summarized in the end.

“Why did you kill him?” He ignored the venom in the boy’s voice, characteristic to the O’Connor kinfolk, “Why did you kill him?” He repeated again with a softer voice, insinuating the boy didn’t know.

“Because…” A frown came to his face even as an overcast rendered the room momentarily dark. “Well… because you said so. You said he was bad, that he deserved to die.” His hesitation disappeared then, replaced instead by signature O’Connor spunk. “I don’t see how this is different from the pirates!”

“Why did he deserve to die?” Gangui said with a deep sigh, using a lot of willpower not to beat the boy this time. He couldn’t let up when he was getting so close to making the boy understand.

“Because he was a follower, and a bandit. He was already evil and so it was best for him to die. He would not have changed.”
Gangui eyes widened and he patiently asked his next question, “Right and did you kill all those pirates?”

“No,” he answered firmly. “But I wish I had. They should all burn.”

“And remember what people who have been inoculated by immortals do?”

“They are unconscious of their worship,” he answered stoically. Gangui had oft hammered that point home.

“It means,” his voice trembling a single moment as he steeled his nerves, rowing onward in the boat of patience, “Every single pirate under Graeslin’s sail wants you dead and they will never stop until they get you.”

“Not if I get them first!” he was possessed of the same vigor as Gangui now as he strode toward the slit in the wall. “I’ll kill them all!”

“But you don’t know how to fight and you are weak and have no army, so how do you suppose you do that?”“I can fire a bow, and I can fight with this” he showed his fists. “And if that fails I’ll sic the wind and water on them, I’ll break their boats at sea and I’ll burn them at port!”

“Finn, they are waiting for you. They wanna kill you. Even if you finish off their ships, how will you kill the sailors?” Holding onto his patience as dearly as possible.

Finn spun around, his face marked with renewed determination. “I suppose you’re about to tell me.”

“No, no,” Gangui said breathing heavily, “Tell me what your plan is?” he held back his correction of Finn’s insolence, he was so close to getting a point across to him.

And it finally landed. First the determination washed away, then the light faded from the boy’s eyes, and finally that utterance came. “I don’t know commander. I don’t have a plan.”

Gangui put on the fake smile Zipper had thought him, “Go on, let’s hash out your plan right now.”

This seemed to bewilder the boy a great deal. His mouth opened and closed a few times, he fidgeted, he shifted his weight from one leg to the other, but no real answer came. “Well I just...set them on fire.” But it was clear that he too realized this didn’t constitute a real plan. “I s’pose I’d have to find out who I want dead first, but that will take a very long time…”

“That’s not a bad plan, but I think you are missing a lot of details,” For the first time ever Gangui was actually getting a decent response from Finn, he decided therefore to give him a moment of brevity, “For one. Where will you stay while you conduct your investigation? And, how will you prevent them from killing you in your sleep?”

The lad threw his arms up into the air, exasperated. “I don’t know! I don’t know any of this stuff! Why do you care anyway?!”

Gangui’s eyes lit up, but his voice remained stoic in his persuasive plan, “Because you want to kill the pirates and I am here to fully support your decision for revenge, if you’d allow me to coach you through it.”
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Fire in the hole

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:31 pm

Fire in the hole

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20th Cylus, 717


Not even Zipper had ever succeeded in swinging him around like Gangui did. One moment he was stumped, the next he was frustrated, and then the moment after that, the commander offered to help him. He’d seen many things, frightening things, wicked things, but never before had his face been forced into the expression of complete and utter surprised confusion that it was now. He sagged down against the wall, sitting near the window like a lifeless sack of flour. His hands combed through his hair as he stared at the floor, trying to make sense of Gangui’s offer.

“What’s in it for you?” he asked. “Commander."

“By training you to be a lethal weapon on and off the battlefield, I garner reputation with your sister. Two, by being under my tutelage you shall learn the ways of truth and justice and become a force that will change the entirety of Etzos for the better. And lastly, when you learn discipline it will reduce the percentage of migraines in the country by nearly 80%!” Gangui was straight up to the point, no games and sweet words like Zipper.

“You weren’t joking? You actually mean to send me into battle? I don’t know how to fi-”

“Boys younger than you fought against the Immortals in 389.”

“Who then!” he challenged. He’d never learned anything like it in school, but then he hadn’t paid much attention either.

“Finn, point is I will teach you and when you are ready you will take your revenge. You are a dead man without me.”

Gangui offered the boy his rough hand and pulled the kid up to his feet. “So what is it then?”

Finn’s eyes met Gangui’s and remained fixed there. The man was deadly serious, always had been and the offer of help was genuine. It was hard to believe anyone could be so sincere since he’d lived and breath the constant, snide, sarcasm of Zipper for the better part of his arcs. “I accept,” he said solemnly while he squeezed Gangui’s hand. “You mentioned an oath…”

“Yes, that comes in a few days. In between which you shall learn exactly what is it and why, and you’ll learn the words by heart.”
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