Finding Santuary: Part 1
The following is a continuation of Finding Sanctuary, the prologue of which can be found here.
Sorry, this took so long.
Finding Sanctuary: Part 1
In the Big Badlands, atop the Inigo Plateau, stood the capital city of Acme. The city didn't look like it belonged. On the turn that Lord Baracus Lang discovered it standing neutral, Acme was a sprawling level 2 with a squat little tower. Upon capturing it, Lord Barry razed and rebuilt the city in the image of Yankopolis, his homeside. The resulting tower stretched so high into the clouds that it often resembled a steel pillar wearing a powdered wig. Lord Barry's mother gave him her blessing to spin off not long after. That was several thousand turns ago, and much had happened since.
Lord Barry's mother; Lady Lois Lang, had croaked.
Yankopolis had fallen.
Acme had popped an heir, a Findamancer by the name of Lee.
And most recently, Lee Lang had reached his 6th level.
It was about this latest development that Lord Baracus was now speaking to his sister, Acme's Chief Warlord.
"I pity the fool," said Lord Barry as she finished reading the latest report aloud to him. "Fire is a terrible way to meet the Titans."
She nodded in agreement. The Chief and her brother were reflections of each other, but were also complete opposites. He wore a tank top, and large number of gold chains hung around his neck. His hair was a thick, black mohawk. She wore the blazer of an Acme warlord over a compact armored vest, and her hair was a neat afro. But they shared the same dark skin, the same strong chin (though his was bearded), and the same air of authority. They were unmistakably related.
"That said, I'm glad that Lee leveled," Lord Barry continued. "I think it's about time that we brought him home."
The Chief's brow furrowed, but Lord Barry raised his hand, cutting her off before she could speak. "I know what you're gonna to say. Sandy and Brock have served us well ever since they joined the A-Team." The A-Team was what Lord Barry liked to call the side. "When Lee popped, most other rulers would have released Sandy right then and there. I kept her on to train him. Then I sent my son to live in the Magic Kingdom so he could experience more of Erf than just this single hex. Now he's become skilled enough to take over her duties, and I can't put it off any longer. It's time for Lee to come home and become Chief Findamancer. Sandy will have to fend for herself."
"She won't survive in the Magic Kingdom!" said the Chief. She was nearly yelling. "The only reason Lee has lasted as long as he has is because we've been supplying his upkeep!"
The Chief and Sandy were partners. Acme commanders only rarely went out into the field, and when they did, they did so in pairs. Being chief warlord and chief caster, the two most often worked together. They had come to rely on one another, and the Chief was damned if she was going to let her partner down now. Her brother, however, had other plans.
"Be that as it may, we don't need two Findamancers!" He slapped his desk with a callused hand. "I'm not happy about this either! But you know how bad our financial situation is! We only have this one city to make us schmuckers. Otherwise, we live and croak by how well our business does. Would you rather wait for a slow day, and have me be forced to disband some of our standing force? Leave us vulnerable? Or sell off some of our magic items and lose that inventory? This option at least gives her a chance, and doesn't have the potential to hurt us down the road." The ruler of Acme moved to the window. "We're popping a stack of clubbers for the barracks today. Have Sandy check for a potential new partner for Rhodes, and then send her to me."
Though her voice was strong, her eyes were pleading as she came to stand behind him. "Please," said the Chief in a low voice.
"I'm sorry, Maude. If you can come up with another strategy, I'll listen to what you have to say. Dismissed."
Her brother was the only one that could get away with calling her by her popped name. To everyone else, she was just "The Chief." All those turns ago, she had jumped at the chance to join him in founding a new side, and it was because of her that Acme had survived the fall of Yankopolis. She was not used to being overruled.
The Chief sighed and nodded sadly. "Alright Barry. But I'm going to be the one to tell her."
She stepped out onto the tower's rampart and ordered it to descend. The pulley-suspended scaffolding allowed for easy archer deployment from any floor, and also allowed the Chief to skip taking the stairs any time she needed to see her brother in his office.
Leaning over the railing, the Chief surveyed the city that was hers to defend. She loved it. She loved the razor-wire topped walls patrolled by sharp-eyed sentries. She loved the narrow, twisting alleyways that made up the city's streets. Most of all she loved the murals that covered nearly every surface that was capable of receiving one. When she had popped in Yankopolis with the Illustrator special, she had become something of a punch line. That was a special for a scribe, not a warlord. Of course, being the daughter of the Overlady, no one would say a thing to her face. But she heard the muffled laughter from her peers and subordinates. The only one that had had kind words for her had been her brother Barry. And that was why she had volunteered to be his Chief.
When Acme was rebuilt, and she saw those drab gray walls, she saw an opportunity. Though it took her hundreds of turns, she decorated them all by hand. Now the city was awash with her signature style. It was Maude Lang signed.
The Chief shook her head to clear her thoughts as the rampart touched down in the courtyard. The task ahead of her was an unpleasant one, and daydreaming wouldn't make it less so. She crossed the courtyard and entered the maze of the city proper, heading towards the smithy.
This required heading in the opposite direction. Acme truly was a maze. Constructed of buildings of equal height (three stories plus an attic with roof access), the largest street was barely large enough for four men to march shoulder to shoulder. No street went more than twenty yards before making a sharp turn. Some streets would simply stop in a dead end, while others that were seemingly clear hid pit traps constructed by Brock. The Chief's murals hid the key to navigating the city, but no one that wasn't a native would be able to decipher them. An invading army would be forced into thin ranks and made to explore by trial and error, while archers rained ruin upon them and moved unimpeded by rooftop. Nastier surprises waited for any that tried to use siege to break their way through the buildings towards the heart of the city.
But the Chief knew these streets better than anyone else. She made quick time, and soon heard the distant sound of a hammer striking an anvil. Swinging open the door of the smithy, she was greeted by a blast of heat from the forge, followed by the snort of a Tinkerbull.
Acme mostly popped archers and flying mounts. With such a strong ground defense, covering the airspace was a priority (This turn's stack of clubbers was a rarity, only occurring when they needed to replace a warlord). Otherwise as far as ground troops went, they exclusively popped Tinkerbulls. Heavy units with the Fabrication special, these bovine units walked upright on a large set of hooves. This kept their hands free to work, making weapons and equipment for Acme and its customers. When not crafting, Tinkerbulls patrolled the streets, seeking unwelcome intruders.
The Chief nodded to the beast, and moved towards the back of the workshop where she could hear something more pleasant under the cacophony.
Brock was singing again.
"Well she seeks around the world for lost paraphernalia
She's a tricky-mind fetcher of magic antiquities
She'll go out on a ride, then come back and regale ya
Tell me where is my girl, that..."
"Sandy el Dorado"
Brock Apella sang in a high clear tenor, and the head of the metal golem in his hands had boomed out the last in a deep bass. As was always the case while Brock was working, he was shirtless (by the Chief Caster's order. He didn't mind). The Chief couldn't help but admire the way his muscles rippled beneath his mocha skin, but her view was quickly blocked as a woman in a red trench coat rose from where she was sitting and wrapped her arms around his waist from behind.
"Right here, big guy."
Sandy el Dorado, Chief Findamancer. Lover of Brock Apella, partner of the Chief, and soon to be outcast of Acme. The Chief cleared her throat, causing both to turn.
"Brock, you are to go check on the integrity of the mine field, and ensure that none of our pit traps have been triggered by ferals.
It was a Tinkerbull crap job, and they both knew it. Brock tried to protest. "Chief, the customer expects this golem within the next two days!"
The Chief squinted at the Dirtamancer and ordered "Do it, Brock Apella." He was forced to comply.
The Chief turned back to Sandy as Brock left, and found herself being appraised. Sandy's lips were pursed and her eyes narrowed as she scrutinized the Chief's face. She sighed through her nose before retrieving her coat's matching fedora from the stool where she had left it. Slumping onto the stool, she stared at the floor, her dark hair swinging forward to hide her face.
"Say it," she demanded.
"Lee reached level 6 last turn."
The Chief was a blunt person. And even if she wasn't, she and Sandy had known each other for a long time . There was no reason to beat around the bush. But now, of all times, she was having trouble spitting it out. Sandy filled in the blanks.
"Lord Lang is going to release me."
The Chief nodded, though Sandy didn't see. "Tomorrow. He wants you to check the new stack of clubbers for potential warlords first. I can convince him to give you one more night with Brock, but then he's sending you through to the Magic Kingdom."
Sandy and Brock had been together longer than Acme had existed. Their previous side had been preparing to move capital sites, and had sent the two of them ahead to get the city ready. Their ruler never made it, presumably being croaked in the field en route. Several hundred turns later, not yet Lord Barry had found them, and they had negotiated a peaceful surrender. They turned soon after. The first official recruits of the A-Team.
Sandy raised her face and looked at the ceiling. Though the Chief could see the light of the forge reflected there, Sandy's eyes were dry. She exhaled, and then placed her fedora snugly upon her head. She stood resolutely and met the Chief's gaze.
"Then let's go."
They moved towards the door, but it was pulled open before they reached it. Brock had returned, and with him was a blazored warlord by the name of Bugsy.
Brock shrugged apologetically. "Sorry chiefs," he said. "I know you probably wanted to be left alone, but you really ought to hear this. I ran into Bugsy here on the way to the minefield."
Sandy looked intrigued as The Chief waved Bugsy forward. He stood at attention
"Chiefs, we've got someone at the gatehouse. Appears to be alone. Claims to be a barbarian Shockmancer, recently popped in the Just Desert."
The two women exchanged glances, but it was Sandy who spoke.
"Take him into custody and transport him to the city. I'll see him in my office."
Maude Lang signed? Auld lang syne?
Anyway, I like these fanfics. The puns are good, it doesn't take big liberties with game mechanics, it's not an orgy of all the different ways the author would break the system if they were in Erfworld.
Although, I suspect that when Balder decided that Carpool should have a shockamancer, the name Carlin must have occured to him... so maybe you're stepping a little on the Titan's toes ;) Can't be helped!