[Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

The Kowlani Territories, or the Solarity of Kowloon, is a small suzerain to the galactic south of the Tai Pan empire. Home to dozens of species, it is ruled as a monarchy, and underneath the Lord Empress, Bhelith tu Andes Arleigh, it nevertheless prospers in opposition to its democratic neighbors. Fortunes are made or broken in the wild edges of the Solarity, and the names of those who made or lost them rise and fall with equal severity.
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[Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:58 pm

SOMEWHERE IN ARIZONA


Gol did not like horses and preferred to walk, ride, or fly. She knew that horses existed, however, in the same way that a hawk realized that groundhogs existed; they shared a shaky truce. Gol – Lorr in general – tended to spook horses, or the breed of stags that the elves had somehow made docile, so she had never bothered to develop a relationship with any particular horse that went beyond the terse understanding that they existed in the same general universe as each other. Beyond that, Gol had always been very careful about the things that she put between her legs.

Today she lingered just out of reach of one of those beasts guarding the door of what looked like a silver bullet trailer in the middle of nowhere, squinting at it as the Arizona sun bore down on her. Had she her way, she would have come at night – the sun warmed her shoulders through loose keffiyeh she wore to shield her dark hair and pale features from the dangerous sunlight. She had already loosened her Ranger’s vest and her coat. Heat, she could take. Dry heat, she could also take. But something about sunlight had always bothered her, and it wasn’t hard to come up with reasons why while she stood in the middle of a desert wishing she had also had the foresight to bring sunglasses.

None of this made the horse go away. It didn’t make the horse stop looking at her.

Sure, they had things in common. Hooves, for one. They were both generally warm-blooded creatures. Horses were sentient, after a fashion.

But what sort of idiot would hitch their horse THAT CLOSE to their front door?

“Dallas McClosky!” she yelled at the trailer.


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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:38 pm

"THE FUCK DO YOU WANT NOW DIANE? I ALREADY PAID MY DUES!"

The downcast Ranger that Gol had come to this desert world to find shouted from the inside of what she could only guess was someone's cheap attempt at making a stainless steel, thirty-three foot long oven in the middle of nowhere. Dallas' voice was usually somewhat upbeat, even when drunk, but here it was coarse and roughened as if water was an extreme issue. His voice was just as rough as his manners, he didn't even seem to approach the door as the trailer didn't shake as if someone was walking. It was odd, even as odd as Dallas was he would usually know people by voice.

The horse huffed, uncontent with both the sun and the strange hoofed-person's presence. Her deep brown eyes seemed to bare down on the Lorr with unbridled curiosity, confusion, and stayed completely calm throughout. The horse moved her tail for a moment before going back to downing enough water to probably make the Ahura probably somewhat jealous.

"I can see your shadow Diane, stop fuckin' standin' there."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:20 am

The horse was innocent, but it was in Gol's way, and she decided that being in her way just then wasn't the proper place to be.

With elegant precision, she drew her sidearm - a LP2966 she had picked up at a surplus store specifically because it had a stun - set it to "2", which would probably be enough to knock out a horse - and then she shot the horse.

WHUUUUUUUUUUUUM-PE.

Problem solved. She holstered the pistol and nimbly danced around the twitching creature onto Dallas's little attached porch, her wings slightly spread for balance. Briefly, she felt sorry for it.

"You're getting your ex's mixed up," Gol called to him through the door, "I'm not a prostitute or a landlady. Open the door, Ranger, we've got different business."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:56 am

There was about ten seconds of silence before the door opened to show the disheveled Ranger. He was dressed in clothes that didn't seem to have been washed recently and smelled of the dry Arizona dust. His face was dry and nearly emotionless. He didn't have the weapons Gol knew he had but instead had a, albeit heavily modified, Gartagen Gauss Revolver held low in his hand by his waist with some other revolver sitting in a cross draw holster just to his left of his belt buckle. His voice was clearer heard now, but sounded just as rough as before.

"Give me one good reason I shouldn't put a hole in you for dropping my horse, Gol."

His eyes were now the ones boring holes through the Lorr. Probably in her favor, Dallas' revolver-in-hand was not aimed at her but was quietly humming in the same vein. He looked unpredictable, but his eyes were saying something else. His eyes were studying her. It had been a while since they'd seen each other, let alone spoken. At any rate, Dallas was waiting for an answer and did not speak further.
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:41 pm

"Because shooting a superior officer is a death sentence?" Gol provided, from her knowledge of the way that Kowlani justice worked - which was swiftly. "Because I have come halfway across the Solarity to find you and haven't reported you as a deserter yet?"

These were both, Gol felt, pretty strong arguments for not shooting her.
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sat Nov 03, 2018 6:24 pm

Dallas seemed to hesitate as if actually weighing the option of trying to beat the Ahura in a draw. He settled on not pushing his luck and placed it on something just inside the trailer's doorway and took about two steps back. "Alright then, come in and speak your piece." His face didn't change in emotion, he had just placed his pistol down. "And don't track in dirt, that I will kill you for."

Well, maybe some emotion.

As he waited for her to either walk in or just speak right there, Dallas' horse finally stopped jittering around apparently fell asleep by the looks of it. It was still breathing at the very least. Meanwhile, Dallas had taken a step to the side and tuned what sounded like an ancient radio to a station that played some equally old-sounding country music from a bygone era. Someone was wailing on about a really cold heart and love or something, it was hard to hear sometimes through the hum of the circuitry.
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:56 pm

Gol stepped inside and had the courtesy to close the door behind her. She immediately regretted the decision, because the smell of unwashed bachelor hit her full in the face. Dallas had always struck her as a bit of a scuzball, and she had never quite had the intention of ever seeing the inside of whatever living quarters he deemed reputable enough to store his shit in, but here she was anyway.

She tried not to wrinkle her nose too badly. The music was, at least, not too bad - she preferred more upbeat stuff, but at least he got music this far out, though nobody quiet knew from where.

"You been listening to the news?" she asked. Rethorical question. Gol cleared some bachelor-detritus off of the nearest butt-worn couch and sat down on it, trying not to soak in the congealed self-loathing and sadness lingering around the place. "Know anything about the disappearing settlers?"
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:23 pm

Dallas leaned back on the single kitchen counter diagonal to Gol. He looked out the door for a moment and nodded, "Probably not as much as you. The big benefit here is we tend not to care. Life here is rough enough to not care too much about everyone else." He picked up an open beer can that seemed to have only been opened a few minutes ago, probably shortly before Gol arrived, condensation still barely visible. Taking a sip, he walked to a window next to the small kitchen table across from him and flipped open the lock, which gave a labored clunk and let the window be loose enough to be opened with a fair amount of force from Dallas.

The air from outside began to slowly exchange with the dank inside and everything began to smell more of a dry desert oasis than dirty socks and sadness. The trailer's inside was quite roomy, enough for someone to walk side by side with a bit of space on either side of the main walkway. It was styled old, very old. It looked to be just about as old as the Alliance, or even older. Flicking a switch, a small fan above the seating area of the trailer began to spool up to a lackadaisical speed which aided in the evacuation of the stale air.

The forlorn ranger looked to the Ahura with a small smile, "How rude of me, I've forgotten to ask if you would like anything to drink."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:17 pm

"No, I'm fine."

Gol didn't like the air outside, and she liked it less inside. It just seemed to roll around the stink of Dallas. She could pick up a lot of emotions here. Most of them were sadness, mixed with the faint sweaty tinge of too much alcohol sweat and not enough soap and detergent. She found herself missing her clean, sleek Lorani pad, the one she shared with various catlike come-and-go people. She leaned to the side and rubbed at the base of one of her horns, where it met her forehead.

"That does not sound like the Dallas I used to know. What happened to bring you all the way out here, after all the trouble you went through to get your letters back?"
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:30 pm

Dallas hesitated, taking a long sip before setting the can down with a sigh. "To be honest, I think of this place as a very long and drawn out vacation. Nobody here knows me or what I've done, no one here knows that I don't like the way things turned out for me. After everything happened after Gor Gozan it's more peaceful here, more simple. No convoluted politics or shadows of the past. I'm not Dallas McClosky, the man who imprisoned the figurehead of the Azalea Company and led a poor woman to die or Dallas McClosky the dipshit ranger who, despite all that has been done for me, still feels like he's living in the shadow of the mistakes he made that he'll never shake off."

He took another sip of beer before tossing the can into a trash bin with a very odd case of accuracy. "Here on Arizona, I'm a nobody. I'm just your regular old ranch hand cowboy who likes the long rides in the flat lands, the dynamic of the campfire-side chats in the night, and sometimes the fairer kind of person."

Finally, he turned his head to Gol and looked directly into her eyes. "I came here to get away from everything and to start anew, not because I'm a sad, depressed, fish out of water but because I never felt like I had a home back there."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:58 pm

"And this feels like home to you, huh?"

She spread her hands around lethargically, indicating the trailer. "I'm picking up a lot of regrets. And hey, I changed my mind. Toss me one of those?"
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:03 pm

Pulling open the main door the thefridge next to him with the heel of his boot, Dallas pulled a beer from the door and tossed it to the Ahura.

"I can make it one, no one here is doubting me. Well, until now." He kept his eyes on her, seeming to try and analyze why she was here.
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:09 pm

Gol caught it and popped the tab slowly to let out the carbonation. Beer was a familiar companion, though she preferred mixed drinks nowadays. Alcoholism wasn't exactly a struggle for Gol, she could handle her liquor just fine, but sometimes she did get out of hand. A few wouldn't hurt. It wasn't like there was anything in the immediate vicinity that could murder them, anyway. She sniffed the brew and then took a sip. At least it was cold, and hadn't gone flat, which was good enough for now.

"You know I can sense this sort of thing. It's part of what makes me a good cop." Beer was a good lounging drink, and the hopsy smell was better fresh. "I'm not a therapist, even so, but talk to me. I can probably give you some news that will clear some of this miasma of yours up."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:15 pm

Dallas shook his head, "As much as I appreciate your help, I'm quite fine where I am. So far you're the only one who's come looking for me, and since you found me I doubt you'll be the last." Dallas pulled another can from the door before letting the door close itself. Unlike Gol, Dallas popped it fast and took a slight swig of it as if he'd not drunk anything in days.

He gave a slight sigh after a moment, "I already know what you're going to say and I really don't want to hear it. If you must, go ahead and just start saying how good it is back with Creature, Lukina, and the rest of the Solarity."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:35 pm

"Oh," Gol sighed, "No, they have their own problems since the Lord Empress's disappearance."

She pulled out a little pouch of hash and began to roll a pair, one for herself and one for Dallas.

"It looks like we are about to be going to war with the Taianese, actually. The Asteria has 'awoken', and fired several times. The death toll is still being counted, they tell me. I didn't know trees could get angry, but it's not all peaches and cream like you might have imagined."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:01 am

Dallas watched her roll as she spoke. He took a low sip as he processed what she spoke of before twisting his mouth a little. "I know Bhelith, she's fine. But even so, you're just convincing me more just to stay here as one of Arizona's rangers. I don't want to get involved in another war, the last one killed me and I don't want to push my divine luck."

Once Gol finished the second roll, he politely held one hand out as he took another light sip, "You need a light or did you bring yours with you?"
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:49 pm

Gol paused with her tongue on the last lick of almost-rolled paper, glancing up over the 'medicinal' herb to give Dallas a good tease. Then she finished rolling it, and offered it to him between two fingers, stretching her arm out.

After he took it, she sat back and rubbed her fingers together over the end, igniting it with some heat she had stored previously. Briefly, she felt chilly, but it passed quickly in the warm trailer room and she didn't feel too cold. Dallas knew that she stored feelings, and emotions. That she could store things like strength, speed, or body heat might be new to him. The Ahura took a long drag off of the roll, breathed some of it out of her nose, and then let the rest of it out in a voluminous white stream from between her pursed lips.

"You're an Arizona Ranger?" she asked, making sure she put her skepticism in the question. "Uldani are active on this planet. We think they are taking advantage of the conflict to find more food. I thought it might be good for you to help me, but since this is your stomping grounds, cowboy..."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:07 pm

Dallas pulled a lighter out of his pocket and lit it without answering her question for the moment. He took a draw before blowing out the smoke, giving a slight sigh as he did so. "Ranger or not, they've not been around here. Haven has been fine with the exception of a handful of gunfights over cards and women. All I've heard is from miles away, closest being La Guardia about a six days ride. With Haven being quite cut off, no one bothers us. We're just farms and a throughway for people heading farther down the Morgan river."

He took another draw as he seemed to stare off into space, the radio switching songs to one that sounded almost like the one before it. "There is four in the Haven Ranger station, but they won't go nowhere and leave Haven unguarded. It'd be just you and me, and I don't like those odds. I died once, now I got all my limbs back and am living on borrowed time."

He took one last draw before taking a sip from his beer and giving a slight snicker, "Plus leaving today is pointless. Not only did you ground a horse, I only got one. Unless you want to ride bitch for six days to get to La Guardia, that is."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:44 pm

"Was. From what I understand, they disappeared last month."

Gol produced another plume of smoke and itched again at the base of her left horn. Dallas noticed that she wore a metal bangle on it, near the base. It was decorative, and gold, and caught the light a bit, and was probably purely for affect. It looked nice against the color of her hair and the ruddy color of her horn.

"I flew here. If I have to ride bitch, however, to let your four-legged furbeast keep up, I will."

She stretched out, giving him a tired, but not quite too tired look that was more lethargic than weary. "No, you're right. I will stay for a while, if you do not mind. It has been a while, hasn't it? Since the mountain, and Lukina."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:56 pm

Dallas looked down towards his feet for a moment after taking another long draw, exhaling a slight amount of smoke as he gave a labored "Uh-Huh..." It had been a long time since he'd been taken against his will on their adventure in the aftershocks of Valériane's death. That long night led to a bunch of things, from a heart to heart moment to one of skin to skin that he both forgot and remembered at the same time. All of this before he'd died and all after he nearly died again on Paradise. Now he was here, far away from his station and still trying to put himself together again. "I like the horn bangle, it looks nice with your hair."

He looked up at her as he remembered something else important for the next few days. "Another thing, and you're not gonna like this. You probably know, but non-humans arn't seen very high here. On the roads, you're gonna have to look like a slave." He leaned back in his chair and took another long drag as he awaited the horned Ranger's response.
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:40 pm

Gol looked up at the compliment, smiling a little bit whimsically. She reached up to touch the band around her horn, toying with it in idle thought. “Thank you. I rather like how it looks, myself. Thankfully, nobody has quite got around to writing uniform regulations that encompass all the species in our wonderful country.”

Then she looked back at him and gave him a little wink, crossing one cloven hoof over the other and motioning to herself, in profile, as she lazed.

“Me?” she asked, a bit bemused. “Pretend to be a slave? To you? You humans used to draw lewd pictures of women like me, and I seem to remember that we were the ones holding the collar leashes.”
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:48 pm

Dallas took a draw as Gol spoke her last sentence, choking laughter and smoke as she finished. "I mean, I have a collar from when I had that damned dog that ran away but who knows, maybe it'd fit you." He gave a smile before stretching back in his chair with a comfortable sigh. He seemed at peace, as if he barely had a care in the world from being out here alone so long and finally receiving company. Maybe it was the blunt beginning to really kick in.

"Yeah some of these settlements, er, most of these settlements frankly are racist as fuck against anything that isn't human. We'll have to ride through at least a couple probably. Be best if we just didn't attract too much attention besides a poor as fuck Ranger and his pet alien succubus riding the prairie."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:55 pm

"I understand it was colonized, in part, by the Alliance, in the beginning, and that one or two of our settlers put down roots here, too."

Gol hooked an arm over the back of the couch, having made her point. The long coat she wore, loose as it was, still caught on her shoulder, so she sat forward to slip her arms out of it and pull it over her head. Her wings were folded, and by and large she really didn't need a coat at all because of them, but she had become practiced at disrobing. Think of that what one might. She tossed the coat over the other arm of the couch, and recovered her smoke of choice from Dallas's ash tray, after tapping off some of the ash.

"Whatever the case, they will need to get over it. If they do not like me, they will like the Uldani less. I'm not the sort of person to just let people die, because they're part of a different Solarity."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:07 pm

Dallas nodded slowly. "Very true, very true. This 'society' is far from what it should be. The lawlessness of some of these towns is outright strange. Haven is one of the more quiet towns but it's far from perfect. They're gonna need to adapt, sooner rather than later and for their own good." He turned to look at the radio and then out of a window towards the sun beginning to set. His mind seeming to wander.

"It'd probably be best to wait to leave until morning. It get's devilishly cold at night because of the sand. I also want to see what supplies I do have and see if I have to go into town. I've forgotten what I have." Dallas looked back to Gol as if trying to remember something to say but was silent. It seemed to suddenly click to him. "Oh how terrible, I've forgotten to ask how you have been."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:16 pm

Gol shrugged. Obviously she intended to stay; saying so would be redundant. She itched again at the base of her horn, then fiddled with her bangle again. Compliments were always nice to receive, when given, and Gol didn't feel like an exception to that general rule.

"You know me. Work, play, work. I managed Lorani for a while, before being moved on elsewhere when that commander of Creature's got to the point she was comfortable. Lukina moved on with Creature, of course. I think, if she doesn't love him, at least they're best friends. So my place has been empty for a while, at least of the advice-and-comfort-seeking sort."

She drew on the rolled herb, blew it out in another long, thin stream, and sighed the rest of it out in a little puff.

"I could use another drink."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:35 pm

Dallas placed his smoke into the ashtray as he got up, rolling his left arm as he did so. "Comin' right up." As he walked past the radio, he gave it a slight bump, which somehow made the signal slightly clearer. The artist was saying thanks to what could only have been a past lover for breaking his heart. It sounded older than the universe itself. Bending down to the refrigerator, Dallas pulled out two more beers from the fridge as closing it with his elbow.

He placed his replacement on the counter next to him and then extended Gol's towards her. "Could be worse, I guess, but it could be better." He pulled his roll back from the ashtray and took a long draw from it before exhaling the smoke and setting it back down, replacing it with his drink. Opening it with a thumb he took a small sip and leaned back into the counter, resting his head on the single cupboard above him.
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:56 pm

“Could be better,” she agreed. “Could be worse. So, if you don’t mind.”

Gol leaned forward and began to unbutton her vest, under which she wore… nothing. Blessedly nothing.

She huffed, discarded it, and settled back on the couch with the beer, looping her arm back over the back of the couch and stretching her wings. She did not bother to cover herself. In fairness, she did not have to; it was a little forward, but she hardly seemed to be tempting him in particular. Dallas had seen her naked before, and this time, Gol just seemed tired. Whether it was from the flying she had done to get out here, or the way the vest had been bound, he could see the faint red lines the seams had left on her skin.

After all, it wasn’t like a winged creature would have an easy time finding bras. If the only thing you could do was a halter, or a vest like the one she had discarded, it only stood to reason.

She relaxed. She drank from the beer. She crossed her legs.

“I’m also going to use your shower. I feel like I’ve had to fly over half the planet to find your sorry ass. And tomorrow, I’m going to need to scout the local communities, however we manage it. The Alliance lets slavers in their areas? Or is that us?”
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:46 am

Dallas blinked and was silent for a moment before swallowing hard and continuing on as if Gol halfway undressed. He took a somewhat longer swig of his drink as if to compensate before pointing towards the back of the trailer. "Water pressure is surprisingly well, but it won't stay hot for too long."

He looked back to her as he seemed to catch on his words as if not knowing the true answer to her second question. "It's either that the Alliance is too far away or the Solarity doesn't seem to really care about Arizona. It's not Vice's slavers as far as I know, but just what happens when a bunch of different races land and piss off the human population. We fall under Kowloon's borders, so we have Rangers. These rangers don't have enough authority so the ones we do have seem to ride around like a cavalry putting out huge fires, leaving the rest of them to the individual communities. Slavery is illegal here, but it's not even close to being able to be controlled."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:52 pm

"They're probably traveling between the borders, where nobody can find them," mused the Yazatan - she gave him a sidelong look, as he swigged, along with a vague taunting smile. Sure, that seemed to say, she was tired. But she also knew the effect she had on him, though she didn't deign to mention it. Instead she went on, "I wouldn't be surprised if there's worse than outlaws out here. Probably they're the ones being worst hit. The Uldani stay away from anything that gives them too much trouble, or that would raise alarms, so it's likely there we'll need to go."

She turned to watching him full-time, so to speak.

"We're going to have to come up with a better plan than slavery."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Mon Mar 11, 2019 6:11 am

Dallas knew she was staring at him. He knew when he was being obviously awkward. He thought about everything for a moment. Along the Morgan river there were three primary settlements: Haven, Morganville three and a half days east, and finally La Guardia a full six days away. He somewhat doubted Morganville, as just across the river was the edge of Ni-Kishi Aerospace's blacksite. Anyone could see the pairs of defense fighters circling the massive complex unless they were blind or didn't care, which turned out was most people. Still, getting to La Guardia to investigate the missing wasn't the problem, how they were going to disguise Gol was.

"If you've got a better plan, I'm all ears." Dallas turned to her, the seriousness in his eyes barely visible over the apparent lack of sleep he'd been having up to this point.
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:52 pm

Gol sighed. "I don't."

She took another swig of her own drink, belched very quietly into her hand, perhaps having drank it a bit too fast, and gained a somewhat far away look - with the pointed addition of a frown. Her eyes narrowed a little as she stared at the door, or perhaps out the window nearby it, her red eyes a little tired and a little dark as she became a little more serious. Dallas knew the Gol-that-was; half of her was this free, whimsical, self-confident creature who knew little to no shame. She had, after all, flown him off of a mountain and dropped him into the ocean.

But on the other hand was the woman in the Ranger coat. The woman who had somehow managed the province of Lorani under a careless and frequently absent Lord. Someone chosen by the Lord Empress to get shit done. And here she was, half-naked and tired on his ratty couch, considering how best to go about infiltrating a settlement on the edge of the edge of nowhere and burning a considerate hole in his wall with her attention.

"We could just kill the first person who tries," she said, without a lot of conviction.
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:36 pm

Dallas gave a rough "Ha," as he grinned almost ear to ear. "That'd work. Not every son of a bitch is gonna want to die in some gunfight at the edge of the universe." He pushed off the counter with a slight shove, the trailer giving a barely noticeable rock as his feet his the linoleum floor that marked the kitchen from the rest of the flooring. He gave a sigh and seemed to gain a slightly warmer attitude, most likely due to the smoke and the tinge of alcohol that was currently working through his system.

"Tell you what," He ran a hand through his hair while turning to Gol, "You go and take your shower and I'll see what I can find to cook that's halfway decent. You'll probably feel better." He extended an open palm to her, a somewhat forward approach in his mind but sincere at least. "Water will be warm, I promise."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:44 pm

She accepted his hand, amused to play demure, at least for the moment.

"Hot water in this place? Wonders never cease."

-

She showered. It took her a little while to shed the dust from traveling, and the generalized grime that seemed to pervade Arizona. When she emerged, she felt refreshed, and at least if she hadn't gone through all the usual trouble of making herself presentable, she knew that the gentleman who waited for her in the living room like as not wouldn't have known the difference. Fortunately, she had carried an extra halter in her pack with an easy tie and some pants that fit more loosely than the ones she had came in, and that was enough to set her better at her ease. Even if showering in a trailer made the normally classier woman feel like she were slumming, just a bit. The whole trailer reeked of bachelor.

The hot water had made her lazy. And she was tired; she could feel that, creeping in behind her eyes. The strange mix of night air through a cracked window, and heat from what she imagined to be a wood, or pellet-burning stove somewhere, added to that. It made her want to find a blanket and curl, rather than go back to planning.

"So slavery. That's the bright idea," she said, nipping another beer and sauntering back into the living room. "How do you plan to pull it off?"
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:44 pm

In fact, it was as if the man had cleaned the whole place while she'd showered. The front end of the trailer smelled of flank steak and vegetables. The couch had been tidied, a khaki-colored blanket ever tempting sitting folded on one end along with a actually comforting looking pillow. Dallas had turned the radio up, the signal coming in clearer now that night had fallen. It was now more evident that it was an interplanetary broadcast, as the announcer kept mentioning a location deep within the Alliance. It also mentioned on Opera, but the way he said it was far too off.

He hadn't exactly seen her come in, he was aimed in to the stove. Gol was right on that it was a wood burning stove, and the smell of a sweet wood mixing with the meat's aroma as it wafted through the front end of the trailer. The lights were a warm gold, the sound of the crickets and night owls from the bunch of trees about just beyond the edge of what made up Dallas' "Land." The worst part about it, considering how bad he was at most things, he was at least able to cook by the smell.

"Well, we'll need to see if I can get it to fit, but I have a dog collar and a leash. Besides that, you basically wear what you want and I'll call it as what I wanted you to wear. Simple as that. People around here don't ask much questions if you don't give them a reason to."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Fri Mar 22, 2019 4:46 am

Gol leaned her shoulder on the edge of the thin divider between his trailer’s kitchen and its living room. It was made of the sort of material that all trailers, everywhere, were made from; pieced together scrap wood. She didn’t mind. It had a sort of borderlands ambience she wasn’t used to; Gol was a self-avowed creature of the city. She liked karaoke, wine, and lewd dancing – drinking with friends and laughing and enjoying money and all the frivolous things it bought in a country where might made right, and coin flowed near-unregulated.

On the other hand, everybody liked bacon, sausages, and whatever else she imagined Dallas was cooking. She was willing to make allowances.

“A dog collar,” she insinuated, distastefully. She'd worn chokers before, of course, but the idea of putting on something that had previously belonged to an animal didn't quite sit well with her. It was a kink for some people, though she preferred to keep that to the bedroom and out of public life. “Implying I’m a bitch, I suppose? That's what they use?”
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:21 pm

Bearing a set of tongs he was using, he spoke up over the rousing hiss that told Gol that he was flipping meat. "Dog collars, Vice slave collars, iron vests, shock clothing, all sorts of weird shit. A dog collar is all I got, and it's simple enough to work." He was still dead set on cooking, but he did motion towards a short and half full bookshelf next to the door. On the top shelf was a hot pink collar with silver studs, and a hot pink leash to match. It looked strong enough for any large breed, or in their case someone with a normal sized neck.

Arizona was lawless, and it had been up to the human populace to put up their own items once the Alliance had left them behind. Each settlement was cut off from the other, the fragile communities already having to tame the wild foliage and fauna. Slavery was just the cheapest way of keeping themselves fed in the easiest way possible. Even when Kowloon came and told them that they fell under their borders, the following Rangers found themselves unable to enforce the Diadem's word, and became in power only by word alone.

The hiss had begun to subside as the meat began to tenderize, "So yeah, it does imply you're a bitch, at least to those who wish to pry with their eyes." He pulled a pair of ceramic plates shined like a drill sergeant's boots and laid them next to the stove. "How do you like your steak?"
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:49 pm

Gol plucked the pink dog collar and turned it over in her hands. 'Questionable' didn't begin to describe this reasoning. She unclipped the leash and gave it only a passing inspection; it was the potential "Slave Collar" she cared about. It did have silver studs, though she suspected that they were cheap imitations. Still, some people liked their dogs and wanted other people to know they liked their dogs.

"Pink isn't my color."

She unclipped the collar and inspected the buckle, which she suspected would probably hurt after a while. No wearing that like a choker. At least it didn't have bells, she supposed, or something else idiotic.

"I mean," she continued, "Can you imagine me in pink? Pink, really? Do I look like a bimbo?"
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:11 pm

Dallas grinned as he placed a slab of cooked meat on to a plate. "It's either that or you wear the horse's spare bit and bridle. Besides, I think you'd look good in pink, not a collar but maybe a dress or something else real nice. Here, come and eat. Vegetables should be about done too. It's nothing special but you learn quick how to cook when you cook for two younger siblings that only like your food."

Taking Gol's plate in his spare hand, he extended it towards here and motioned with his head towards the smaller pot containing a blend of Alliance vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. It also looked like it had butter in it too. The smell at this point was impossible to ignore, the trailer's heater wasn't cycling air as much as it was cooking it as the thermometer was beginning to show the temperature approaching about 4 degrees Celsius. The outside looked much less inviting now. Even the horse had gone for the makeshift 'barn' at the back of the lot with its own heater rumbling along. Everything was just so simple.

"You're not a bimbo, honest. Now come and eat." His voice was almost as warm as the buttered vegetables.
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:24 am

Gol sat down with the plate, setting the collar aside on the edge of the table for the moment while she watched Dallas from across the table. One thing stuck out at her.

"You've changed."

She'd said it before, in as many words, but she said it again more concisely.

It was the beat-up trailer, the location, the way he dressed, talked, and acted. It was in his manner and his bearing. Gol remembered Dallas almost like she remembered an angsty teen - frustrated, in love and life. Now he seemed, not washed-out exactly, but like the jeans he wore. People wore jeans with holes in them to give them character. Out here, people just had holes in them because they caught on things and changing them would mean buying new ones.

Dallas was actually her senior; Gol's species, from what she understood by exposure, just grew up faster with less inhibition and therefore, frustration. They were mutable. Gol did not feel like much of an exception. She was more surprised to find that Dallas had changed.

"A lot more than I thought you would."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sun Mar 31, 2019 5:59 am

Dallas was quiet while he got his food and tuned the stove to just keep everything warm, room and all. The expression on his face was somber as he sat down across from Gol. "I died on that battlefield to get to Gor Gozan, and through some sort of god I was brought back. Instead of getting to contemplate at home, I got imprisoned on Paradise and worked in a mine shaft until somewhat recently. I've only been on Arizona two months."

He paused to cut his steak and eat the piece he cut off. Swallowing, he continued. "I've stopped trying to be something I'm not and am just being. I'm appreciating the smaller things: good food, fair companionship, and the warmth of sun on my skin." He cut off another piece of steak and repeated his motions.

"I already died once and I didn't like how I lived."
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Mike » Sat Apr 06, 2019 11:01 pm

Gol ate a bit of her food, choosing to fill her mouth rather than open it immediately. If he had walked away from the Rangers for something like that, did Gol really want to walk him back into the lifestyle? Just a glance around told her that Dallas had made his own sort of peace with the troubling events of years ago.

When she was ready she leaned forward on the table, fork poised.

"Am I just roping you into this? Would you rather I pass on, pretend I didn't find you?"
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Re: [Kowloon] He was an Arizona Ranger

Post by Ham » Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:50 pm

The man was quiet for a long moment, chewing his food in silence as the westerly winds began quietly whispering against the distant trees. There were pros and cons to each decision, but there was something that he felt was suddenly calling him. Yes he hated his old lifestyle, he hated the constant chaos that was the Order of the Horizon and its stumbling hand to figure out the worlds that the Lord Empress dictated. He'd fought in wars he had no business in, first with Bhelith on the grounds of Liang for a flag he knew nothing about, then on Piyapon against an army of both dissenters and savages aliens and all because he didn't stay home and succumb to the law of the Alliance. Deep down in Dallas' soul, he still was a murderer.

But when he was attached the Azalea Free Company, to that bastard Gartagen Lord he'd fought for and fought with did he feel like he was with something, not just a follower of a flag for pay and board. Hell, he owed his life to Lukina for gambling with a god whose name he could barely pronounce or even remember. He got them out of Paradise's mines before they all suffocated beneath rock and slate as slaves and as thanks he left shortly after returning to Kowloon. What was he? Why was he even here in the first place? He knew, the man he once was knew. Arizona was where he could disappear, but why did he want to anymore? He'd left anyone who cared for him behind. It was now almost a sign to come back, and a sign that seemed to reinvigorate his mind.

The Ranger, Marine, and Man in him finally won the silent battle between itself and the depressed and troubled mind that had once been, and finally it seemed the last broken piece of Dallas' soul fell back into place. He swallowed somewhat hard and took a small sip of his drink to wash it down before clearing his throat. "No, you're not. You're the angel sent to put me back on the right side of the road."

He looked her straight in the eye and spoke with his solemn yet straight voice, "I've made plenty of mistakes in my life. From leaving my poor sister and mother at home to go gallivanting around the stars to trying to make righteous calls beyond my ability that got you twisted up with me in the first place. Even worse so I quietly departed from all of the family I have left because I suddenly couldn't find myself amidst all of the confusion that was bottled inside of me."

He stopped to take another sip to somewhat calm his nerves and he sighed as he swallowed. "I'm done walking away from everyone. Like I said, I died and I didn't like how I lived. It's about damn time I make up for all of my lost time."
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