The Coldest War

The Trial of Carver

In the week after Carver was captured as the saboteur and strange, psychic assassin the various denizens of Mount Safeco recovered and hungered in equal measure.

The hydroponic gardens were unable to really recover from the sabotage, and belts were tightened throughout the hold while the Regents advised Mizz Stockton that a mission needed to be sent forth to the Seward Market when next the Mercer Enclave set it up to fetch new seed-stock and young plants. The Regents and Mizz Stockton had the more immediate concern, of course, in interrogating Carver. The mad hoarder seemed convinced that her parents, who were once peers of Mizz Stockton and the Regents from before the Madness, were giving her instructions and that Carver’s real goal was to kill the Regents and Mizz Stockton so as to “reunite” them with her parents so they could all be together again. Carver tried whatever strange new psychic ability she had manifested on Mizz Stockton, but the hardholder seemed immune to such blandishments aside from experiencing a “hot flash.” She managed to convince Carver, however, that she wanted to see Daniel and Ammie, Carver’s parents, face to face. She managed to convince Carver to actually leader her to the hoard.

Carver insisted that Mizz Stockton go alone, and the two of them skulked through the ruins of the old University district until they entered the sealed basement of the old Hardwick’s hardware store. Inside was Carver’s horde of assorted fetish objects, books, maps, and esoteric taxidermy projects. Buried deep within the pile of assorted junk were the mostly skeletal remains of Carver’s parents. Mizz Stockton apologized to the corpses for failing in her promise to look after Carver and keep her safe, and intimidated the insane hoarder back into custody for later trial.

Under the care of Cass, Firestone’s various wounds, older and newer, faded into scars while Rhyme’s recent traumas were much reduced. Farley spent much of his time awake, but unresponsive while Mice tossed and turned in a feverish coma. Cass was running into an acute shortage of medical supplies and spent some of the assorted trade goods that she had been given thus far to try to feel out new suppliers in Mount Safeco’s market. Instead of supplies, she instead got a badly injured supplier. Mac was rushed to Cass’s clinic, unconscious and covered in blood from hundreds of small but savage bite wounds. Cass used up the last of her stock of supplies patching the near-death scavenger up. Once she regained consciousness, Cass learned that Mac had been spying on the cannibal tribes in the Ravine and had been attacked by hundreds of feral cats. In gratitude for her medical aid, Mac offered Cass the location of a stash of scavenged goods hidden just south of the Ravine… sadly, Cass would have to arrange an expedition to get them.

Silver took a shell-shocked Rhyme into her care. The young prophetess had been traumatized by the apparent abandonment of the Action Man, and the deeper visions of greater, darker powers. She didn’t resist as Silver bathed her, brushed her hair, lent her some nicer, somewhat more feminine clothes to wear to replace the shredded clothes from the battle of the Reclaimer’s lair. She sat with Twice, the refugee from Spider’s harem, and stared at a candle flame and discussed dark matters. Rhyme eventually managed to overcome her shock. She sold her machete, the one with which she had maimed Mice. She rid herself of the glass chimes that had been her symbol. She met with the Cygnet committee and told them that they would all be taking a new direction, exploring a wider range of ideas and beliefs. The subject of Amy, Mice’s sister came up in the context of the mysterious tattered King that Rhyme had seen in her visions. Rhyme forbade the Cygnet Committee and the Rocket Men from harming Amy, and placed the strange girl under Rhyme’s protection. Finally, she visited Mice in Cass’s clinic. The one-legged Have Rat was still feverish and unconscious, but Rhyme nevertheless gave him Reason, her trusty rifle. She asked Cass to alert her as soon as Mice might awaken.

During that week, Amy, the little sister of Mice, came to visit. Her seemingly mad ramblings gave Cass some pause, but her touch seemed to wake her brother from his coma as his fever broke. The girl was ushered into the care of the Cygnet committee and Rhyme was notified. They spoke of the events that gave rise to Mice’s amputated leg, and they seemed to reach an accord. Mice may even join the Cygnet Committee.

Firestone soon ran out of Silence fruit from the limited stash he found in the Wallingford raid. He had one berry left which he could not bear to eat, being overcome with a desire to plant it, cultivate it, and grow a personal stash. The only question was how to do so. Firestone was regularly distracted by his biker gang who seemed keen on renewing the aborted previous mission to the Green Mud Lake. Team Badass also now had two extra bikes, and some thought went toward recruiting. Firestone and a few of Team Badass took to hanging out in Mount Safeco’s arena, where differences were settled under the stern eye of the Ringmistress, a lithe and dangerous young woman who made sure that fights were fair, and never went to the death. One day, while watching the fights, two teenagers entered the arena. They were apparently the children of a scavenger who recently died, leaving a stash in his room in Mount Safeco. The two kids apparently came to blows over the stash, and were there to work out who would gain their father’s inheritance. They fought with a savage ferocity that impressed Firestone and the two bikers he had with him. The kids fought hard, and didn’t stop despite clear pain and increasing wounds. The Ringmistress was eventually forced to stop the fight before one of them killed the other. The two were rushed to Cass’s clinic, and Firestone followed with an intent to recruit.

There, Firestone and Rhyme met up once more. Rhyme’s new look and demeanor caused comment from Firestone, but Rhyme noticed something new about Firestone as well. Rhyme caught a brief vision of Firestone’s eyes, cancerous and oozing with infinite black serenity, utter nothingness that wipes away fear, pain, ambition, hope, desire… everything. This concerned Rhyme a great deal, and she tried to engage Firestone to find out what might be wrong.

While Rhyme and Firestone talked, Silver chatted up Absinthe, one of Firestone’s gang. Absinthe was a badass biker-chick, but there was something about the exotic-looking woman that plucked Silver’s instincts. Silver planted the seeds in Absinthe’s mind that perhaps settling down a bit and working for the Supper Club might be more to her liking. Absinthe seemed to enjoy the thrill of riding a “hog” into battle to be something she’d find hard to give up, and Silver didn’t push, but the suggestion was made.

Finally the time came for the trial of Carver. The denizens of Mount Safeco gathered in the arena where Mizz Stockton and the Angel presided. Each person who came was given a straw, and the 13 short straws became the jury. Carver was dragged out, bound and blindfolded, amidst great pomp and ceremony. Carver was accused of a list of crimes in ascending seriousness, topped at #2 with killing the Entertainer, and at #1 with sabotaging the holding’s hydroponics. Carver’s defense was near-mad babbling about trying to help, trying to reunite her parents with their old friends, and begging to have her blindfold removed. Mizz Stockton acquiesced. As soon as Carver could see, she pleaded with her parents to intercede, and suddenly many in the audience could see two ghostly forms, of a man and woman, looking at Carver with infinite parental love. A very few in the audience could see a fainter ghostly figure, the Entertainer, bound by the neck by a chain held in the ghostly hand of Carver’s father. The Ringmistress was once such individual. She leaped to the arena floor prepared to murder Carver right then and there, but Mizz Stockton put on her sternest voice and ordered Carver to be re-blindfolded.

The jury deliberated, and filed past the Angel, conveying to that magistrate their verdict. Carver was to be eviscerated and quartered. This satisfied the bloodlust of the crowd, but Rhyme, supported by the Cygnet Committee and the Rocket Men plead for mercy, and asked for Carver to be exiled instead. There was some debate amongst the assembled, but too many feared that a loose Carver might be a threat to all who came and went from Mount Safeco. Mizz Stockton then decreed that if the jury’s decision was to be carried out, that the people of Mount Safeco should be willing to step forward to do so. This mollified the bloodlust of many, but enough people pushed forward, including Rhyme and Cass for their own, less bloodthirsty reasons, that they had the requisite 13 people. They drew straws again to see which one of them would wield the knife while the remaining 12 pulled on the chains attached to Carver’s limbs. Cass drew the straw to hold the knife.

As the twelve strained, Cass worked the knife with her medical skill, bringing a quick and merciful death to Carver long before the evisceration and quartering could do so. Rhyme closed Carver’s lifeless eyes as the denizens of Mount Safeco somewhat quietly departed the arena. In Carver’s last moments, the more… sensitive… in the crowd once more caught a glimpse of Carver’s ghostly parents. Mizz Stockton in particular seemed to realize some… deeper potential.

With the trial out of the way, multiple missions outside the tower became imminent…

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