I will begin this letter by saying that I don’t do this often. Never been much a of writey type myself, my old ma always said that it would fill my brain with silly ideas, but you never know when these sorts of skills will come in handy. Like now, for instance. Of all the voices I’ve heard in my head, I think your the most trustworthy, so I’ll write you this letter like you asked, and then be on my way to Longreach. If you need to find me there, go to my Uncle Veck’s ranch and ask for Stayvo.
I first encountered the mystery killers a few days ago. The boys and I were drinking ratskins down the Old Periscope drinking hole, when Lucky Trin walks in and says:
“Hey you boys, we got work to do.”
Says me and the boys: “You didn’t say anything about any work tonight.”
Says Trin: “Yes I did, two seconds ago.” (He always was witty like that).
Says us: “Can we finish our ratskins first?”
Then Trin says something about supply and demand, and I admit that we’re all pretty lost by the time we hear “…emand.” So we polish off our brews, pack up our stuff and head to the dark alley that all the rich merchants are silly enough to walk down.
You see, when we ambush, we usually follow the rule of Vin’s head. In the event that our new friends have guns that are smaller than Vin’s head, Trin will put on his most intimidating voice (which he can’t do anymore, see below) and they give him the money. If their guns are larger than Vin’s (fairly big) head, then we throw our most intimidating nailbomb (which we can’t do anymore, because I don’t know how to make them) shoot ’em up a bit and take their stuff.
The gang that came down the alley had guns much, much bigger than Vin’s head.
Suffice to say, things went a little off plan. Our intimidating nailbomb plopped more than blammed, Vin and Kris had apparently forgotten to load their guns, and I got stabbed in the leg by Shoutykiller and hit my head on a cobblestone. Right when I thought “this is it Stayvo, you’ve had an alright run, you’ve read nearly as many books as you have toes (eight) and you were able to grow some awesome muscles. Now, you finally get a holiday on the God Emperor’s sky yacht”, my dreams of sky yachts were interrupted by Robokiller stabbing my leg wound repeatedly and… making it a lot less painful. That was a pleasant surprise. They asked me some questions, about the Bulls and Razors mostly, though I was disappointed to find out that Kris and Trin were now smoking piles of nutrient slurry. I was polite as I could be, in the hope that Robokiller might stab this little twinge in my shoulder away, but it never really came up in the conversation.
After they went for a snooze at the Guilders house, I went to the stash, and on the very next morning I gave them a present, as I thought was appropriate given they’d fixed the leg they’d destroyed. After that, we parted ways, and I headed off to Longreach through Checkpoint 15. I didn’t really remember the way too well, figured I’d just wander the Hollow til I found it, but before I knew it I saw a light ahead, climbed a ladder… and came face to face with Arbitrator Bryn (whose arrested me a few times for drunken attempted regicide).
Says Arbitrator Bryn: “Hello Stayvo.”
Says I: “Hello Arbitrator Bryn.”
Says Arbitrator Bryn: “What are you doing here?”
Says I that: “I’m trying to get to Longreach.”
Says Bryn, smiling: “Well, your going the wrong way. Also, keep an eye out. Some heavily armed offworlders came through here not long ago.”
From the description I knew that I wasn’t far behind the mystery killers, and figuring that not even Smartkiller knew the Hollow as well as I did, I headed back down the ladder to see what was what. After a hard walk on the Causeway, I figured I’d stop at Worm Cave for a tipple, at which point I was punched in the face by a guy with three arms and woke up being dangled by the scruff of my neck by a big fella with an eye patch.
Says big guy: “What are you doing here?”
Says I: “Going to Longreach. Are you the brewer? I remember him being shorter.”
The big guy laughed, at which point I realised that everyone in the bar was a twist. Except me of course. I don’t think big muscles make someone a twist… but the big guy had much bigger muscles than I did, so I decided to play it cool.
Playing it cool, said I “Are you going to eat me?”
The big guy, laughing says: “You’d make a decent roast, but no. If you give me that rat jerkey, and help us dig some holes, we can let you go. Just needed to be sure you weren’t working with those crazies who shot me in the face.”
Realising he meant the mystery killers, I told them what they’d done to my leg, and we both had a good laugh about that.
Turns out the twists had moved up here after their real estate down in the Hollow got compromised by some nasty things that the big guy had never seen before. So that’s pretty bad. When I asked if these things had gone to Longreach, he said he didn’t know, at which point I said my face had gone numb.
After he let me stop dangling, I helped the three armed guy dig a couple of holes. “Six foot long, three across, three down” says he, and though I know your not supposed to trust twists, I couldn’t help but think it’d be really convenient to dig a hole with two hands and hold a pint with the other. After all the holes were dug, I took my trusty muscles and headed on my way.
I got to Runners Leap in a little while, but it turned out that the mystery killers were still a ways ahead of me. Turns out that they’d stayed the night, while Robokiller had gotten sloshed while playing with the generator. After that, said the barman, they headed off in the direction of the Bloodpit.
That, then, appears to be the end of my travels near the mystery killers. Longreach and teh Bloodpit are on opposite sides to Runners Leap, so tomorrow I take the baskets across the gorge and I’m off to Uncle Veck’s. My time with the mystery killers has been interesting. I am not dead, I still have awesome muscles, and soon I’m going to have to figure out how to get these staples out of my leg.
Hope that’s what you wanted Inkwisitoor Lamarr! Like I said, if your ever yourself in Longreach, feel free to stop in at Uncle Veck’s ranch for a a roach steak on me. And you could radio me there if you wanted to chat. No need for your mates to go probing my brain again…