Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chapter 4: Arrivals

The Organization wasn't your typical workplace. It was isolated, regularly dangerous, and of course illegal, and everyone lived in fear of attracting the attention of the police, or worse, the boss. So Altin's arrival at the office wasn't particularly fun at the best of times...and certainly not when he was running on two hours of sleep while nursing a nasty set of bruises, apologetic as Spot might be.

But today he wasn't the only one sneaking into the office late after an exhausting weekend.

Altin recognized the pretty redhead as one of the getaway drivers Oxendine kept on staff for more complicated jobs. It seemed like she was trying and failing to remember the door combination through what appeared to be a hangover of truly impressive proportions.

"Someone had a fun weekend, huh?" Altin teased as he leaned past her to type in the code. The driver smirked, and looked like she was trying to decide whether to groan or laugh. "Oh, you have no idea...Snickerson, right? The decoy? I'm Kirk, Kirk Ripley."

"Thief, actually, I'm Ah, Kirk...?"

"My dad lost a bet. Long story, but I need to be drunk to tell it right. So what's a fine, upstanding businessman like yourself doing getting to work an hour late? I mean, I've got an excuse, but you..."

"I don't think the boss would see 'drunken revelry' as an excuse."

"Yeah, you're probably right. I'd better tell her I was in jail..."

It was only much later, as they were debating the relative merits of Kirk's mustang Eastwood compared to Spot (Eastwood won by virtue of not being a sadistic hand-eater) while entirely ignoring their dual tardiness that Altin realized he really, really liked this girl. 

He liked her a lot. She was funny, and gorgeous, and she agreed with some of Altin's more harebrained schemes instead of suggesting he might be a little bit crazy. And she wasn't about to call the police on him for escaping from prison, and thought it was hilarious that he had stolen a zebra "because it was looking at you funny," as she put it. Yes, she was probably his perfect woman--

"Nah, I wasn't always aiming to be criminal scum. My family and I were originally all trainers for problem horses."

Cancel that. Definitely his perfect woman.

"Hey, how about we blow this popsicle stand and you can show me some tips back at your place to get Spot to stop eating my newspapers?"

Altin was never so glad to see someone agree with him in his life.

When they got to the Kirk house, he was accosted almost immediately by a big brown puppydog of a stallion.  This had to be the overly friendly Eastwood.

"Why do all the horses in this town want to eat me...?"

"Oh Altin...if you're done playing with the pretty pony, there's a pretty girl who'd like her turn..."

Instant cure for horse-related distraction, that was.

"...and that concludes the tour, ladies and gentlemen. Please remember to tip your tourguide on the way out."

"Some tour," Altin quipped as he leaned back against the frame of the bed. "You only showed me the bedroom."

"Yeah, but that's the part that counts!"

"I can work with that logic," he murmured, leaning in.

They never did get back to work that day. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chapter 3, part 2: In Which Our Hero Traumatizes His Behind

(Z: Continued from part 1, broken for length.)

And then, just before sunset, after Altin had found himself on the ground yet again, a strange thing happened.

Spot took pity on him.

"This is another trap, right? You're just trying to give me an even number of missing fingers."

"This is going to end up with me in pain, I just know it."

And then Spot shut him up. He winced as he felt her muzzle brush against his ear -- his precious, hopefully-still-intact ear -- and then...she didn't bite him. In fact...she didn't seem to be trying to hurt him at all. It was almost like she was trying to be affectionate...

Confused, but not wanting to miss the opportunity, Altin slipped the bridle over her head, but waited expectantly for her to shake it off of herself again. And waited. 

Spot shifted her weight a bit, as if she were considering it, but left it in place. 

Altin made his attempt...

And nearly fell back off from surprise. Spot waited uncharacteristically patiently for Altin to settle himself.


And they set off.

Altin hadn't had the energy or free time to really explore Appaloosa Plains before now, and he found himself surprised by how much beauty the little country town had to offer. And how much wealth. Between the two, if he ever managed to work his way back up into theft, he could be very happy here for a very long time.

He let Spot meander her own way into town, too concerned with staying in the saddle to mind.

Once they reached the city center, she picked up speed, thundering past City Hall and Appaloosa's few office buildings. Altin was...less than thrilled.

And then he saw where she was headed. Appaloosa was cowboy land, so he knew they were fond of their horses, but he hadn't realized they were fond enough to have a formal training center set up. Spot must have found it when they first arrived in town, during one of her disappearing acts. She made a beeline straight for the dirt racetrack, and Altin let her have her fun as he got more comfortable in the saddle.

Or tried to. After several laps he was reminded of how inexperienced he was at riding by the pain in his thighs and the rubbery feeling in his knees. He tried to dismount and they buckled under him. Looks like he'd be taking a taxi home. Besides, it was almost daybreak and tomorrow he had to "go to work," as the law-abiding citizens say.

Spot nuzzled him again, and pressed her head into his chest for a moment, then nickered and ran off. But that was okay. Altin was surprised to realize he wasn't worried. Somehow he knew that after today she'd come home when she was ready.

Chapter 3, part 1: In Which Our Hero Traumatizes His Kidneys

(Z: I challenge you to claim with a straight face that this building doesn't make you kind of maybe like rabbitholes at least a little bit.)

It wasn't long before Altin got the call from Oxendine. She always did manage to get the job done like that. Oxy didn't bring the greatest news, though. "Look, you're in, but like I said, it's real low-level stuff. They'll let you try your hand at being the decoy on a couple of their smaller jobs, that's all. And they only agreed to that because there isn't much of a chance for you to blow it, so count yourself lucky and keep your head down."

At least it was paying, that was the important thing. Without any work for so long, Altin had become an accidental vegetarian, surviving off his little garden while--

That was it! This was where he drew the line! Spot would not turn Bolt into another demon beast in horse form that would follow him around every time he stepped foot outside, waiting to strike. He was going to march over to that zebra right now and remind her which of them was the horse and which was the sim! In fact, by the end of the day, she was going to let him ride her, and this time it wouldn't wind up with him getting thrown to the ground in some distant town!

Altin could bribe her with carrots, right? Horses love carrots!

It was at that point that Altin discovered that while horses might love carrots, zebras preferred the taste of human flesh. If he was going to have to work this hard to get a bridle on Spot every time he wanted to ride her, he'd be in trouble. He only had so many fingers, after all.
(Z: Also, I've learned that caught-in-a-net thought bubble is EA's way of telling Altin "It's a trap!")

Tacking up completed, with more than its fair share of blood, sweat, and tears (mostly blood), now came the easy part. Altin just had to jump up onto her back like he did at the zoo, and everything would work out fine. 

He was beginning to expect that Spot only liked having him around when she needed zoo fences cut.

But Altin was determined, and he was fed up, and he was lucky, so he was pretty sure she wouldn't succeed at outright killing him. Minor limb damage, maybe, but the Grim Reaper could content himself with miscellaneous stray dogs today. He hoped.

Oh, that's not a good thought bubble...


Well, that was undignified. 

Altin pulled himself to his feet and brushed off the giant dirt-colored hoofprint on his shirt -- although the considerably more bruise-colored one underneath his shirt would be sticking around for a while -- and reassessed the situation. Maybe if he...

Oh, come on., that wouldn't work either.

They continued in this vein through most of the afternoon, with Altin spending more of the day laying on the ground than standing on it, and Spot showing him the handy trick she learned of twisting herself out of the tack and making Altin start all over again. He didn't dare take the chance to break for dinner (although Spot did), because he was afraid he wouldn't have the willpower to go back to getting kicked in the gut on a full stomach.

She was pretty keen on recycling.

(Z: Continued.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chapter 2: Christmas Came Early

Altin was getting that feeling again.

He'd have to stop swiping the onions and carrots Spot dug up for herself eventually, and if he wanted to pay for food he'd have to start bringing in some cash. It wasn't safe for him to apply for a legitimate job, not with the police after him, so that left Appaloosa's criminal underbelly. He'd call his contact; she'd be able to get him in with the local mafia. 

Maybe he'd go see her in person. He could ride Spot over to her home--

Telephone it is.

Altin makes the call and occupies his time with a small "garden" on the side of the warehouse. Well, really just a few raggedy plants someone had allowed to grow wild. He neatened  them up as best he could, and just as he was finishing up in the last of the day's light, his contact arrived.

Sage Oxendine, or as they had called her back when she trained Altin in the thiefly ways, "the Ox," was older than he remembered. It reminded Altin he was aging too, and one day he'd have to deal with that. But not today. 

"Listen, Ox, I need a little favor..."

"I know what you're going to ask, Snickerson. You want me to find you a way into the crew, don't you? We all heard how the Diamond job went. It was good work, no doubt, but the Veronaville cops are watching for you. If the Boss trusts you, you could bring us all down."

"Yeah, but you know me, Oxy. I'll come up with a brilliant plan to throw the police off my trail--"

"Which will be ridiculous and unsuccessful, but you'll just luck out and and have a solution drop into your lap. Like the prison, I assume. You'll have to tell me how you managed that one day.

Okay, I'll help you, but it'll be entry level, real smalltime stuff. Just don't mess up. This isn't your little Verona gang work, this is the Organization. You step an inch out of line and you'll drag me down with you. Now, here's what we'll do..."

The next morning, Altin realized there was a reason the zoo had been keeping Spot in a pen by herself. He knew nothing about horses (or zebras); he hadn't expected the present she left him during the night.

I think he's a heavy sleeper, Spot...

When Altin woke up that morning, a surprise was waiting. The foal looked to be part horse, a paint of some sort, and big, like his mother. Altin named him Bolt. Not because he was fast. Because every time Altin tried to get a closer look, Spot would come after him and he'd have to bolt for the house.

The new baby got him thinking, though. If he was going to need to climb the ranks of the Organization to make any real money, he'd have to stick around Appaloosa for a long time. And now that he had not one evil demon pet to take care of, but two, he'd better start making this old dump into more of a home. But first, he had to get Spot to trust him. Bolt was already acting like a little menace, just like his momma, and the last thing Altin wanted was two animals trying to kill him. That'd be his plan, then. Get back in the I'm-just-gonna-borrow-this-I'll-bring-it-right-back-I-swear business, stop sleeping on the floor of the warehouse...

...and appeal to Spot's friendly, compassionate side. Or something. He was still fuzzy on that part. He was sure it'd work out, right? I mean, how hard could it be?

(Z: Gratuitous baby picture!)

Rolls and Generations

Please note that I play with the randomized heir rule, but won't be announcing which child is heir until they're teen or YA. Shouldn't be too hard to guess, though.

Generation 1:
(click here for original version)
Okay so at some point after these images he magically lost his stubble. I have no idea how.

pale skin, blue eyes, brown hair
athletic, equestrian, klepto, lucky, neat
Top of thief career LTW
Favorite color: black
Offspring: Elsie Ripley (with Kirk), unborn baby Snickerson (with Erika)
Pets gen 1: Spot (female zebra), Eastwood (male horse)
Pets gen 2: Bolt (male zorse), Magnolia (female zorse), the Unicorn (go ahead and guess)

Marital Status: Single Parent
Number of Children: Two
Primary/Secondary Income: Thief/Not Applicable
Generation Goal: Perfect Careers
Misc. Fun: Half-Siblings
Pets Goal: Perfectionist

Generation 2:

<to be announced>