A subreddit dedicated to everything Axial related. This can come from scale crawling rigs to solid axle monster trucks, there is no limitation.
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It’s a dream of mine to buy a tundra, but the payload is just too damn small. F-150 seems to be the only full size that can actually haul a camper. 1100pounds dry on a 1500 payload just doesn’t cut it.
Most rigs I find that make the tundra camper work are heavily modded to accommodate the extra weight. I’m not sure adding a bunch of expensive band aids is the smart thing to do. I’m not big into car modifications, my plan was to buy a TRD off road package and do very light Overlanding.
I plan to simply camp out of the bed at first with a simple leer cap. So that shouldn’t be an issue really. It’s just adding the heavy camper with amenities down the line that may be trouble.
Should I not even bother with the tundra even though I love the truck and just opt for a more heavy duty truck? What are your opinions/experiences hauling heavier loads?
I have found out with some research that it’s basically impossible to import any kind of kei truck or car to where I am (I live in California) and I was wondering if there are any older cars that were sold in the USA that I could buy that are around the size of kei cars and trucks?
I believe that modern-day pickup trucks are not as useful as minivans due to their limited storage capacity. I argue that minivans can carry more than modern-day pickup trucks because of the ability to fold the seats and use the vans roof racks. Minivans have a natural cover (called the body) for all the items being stored, which is not true for pickup trucks that require an additional cover to be placed over the cargo or for the truck to come with one.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand trucks have specific use cases. But as of modern day, trucks are more of a social construct rather than a utility vehicle. Not only just that, but they cost more in gas. Trucks back the. Had massive bed sizes. The only way to get a bed size of that storage capacity is to use a minivan. I admit, I hate pickup trucks.
I have a queen sized mattress that I am not going to be able to get upstairs at my new place that I am moving to in 2 weeks. Thinking about using this opportunity to invest in a new "mattress in a box" which should be easier to get upstairs. My question is what to do with my old mattress? It's always been in a smoke free, clean home. Would you just post it on Craigslist / Marketplace FREE or should I plan to cut this thing up and fit it into my trash bin? If it's not clear, I am hoping to do this in a frugal manner vs paying to rent a truck to haul and dispose at dump.
Thank you in advance!
**There are a couple posts about this from many months ago. But I figured I'd ask anyway, in case there have been any changes to methods available locally.
My LO has always been off the charts in length. He likes an arms up sleep sack with sleeves. But I cannot seem to find one that is long enough and when I go up a size so that it fits him length-wise, it’s too loose around his middle and he doesn’t sleep well. The best one I’ve found is Swaddle Designs, but it’s a little too short right now and then next size up is too big for him. Does anyone have a brand that fits their long baby better?
I'm trying to help my 77 year old dad buy a used truck, but we're running into some roadblocks. He lives in a rural area in Iowa, outside of town on about 15 miles of county gravel road. About 3 times a month, he has to go up to the state VA that is about 2 hours away (paved hwy) for various health check-ups. His needs are: 4WD, crew cab, small/medium size truck for easy access, automatic, V6, PW, PL and reliable. He would like leather seats because he takes his German Shorthair dog on trips, but he can go with cloth if needed. Personally, I would like it to also have back-up camera/navigation and lane departure for obvious safety reasons.
I've been trying to talk him into something a little newer, within the last 3 years, to get those newer safety features and maybe even have some warranty left. But, the biggest obstacle is he can be very cheap, so it's hard to find something that he's willing to pay. He doesn't want his payments over $500/month. He does have a 2013 Buick Enclave (2WD) with a little over 98,000 miles on it that he could possibly trade or sale, but I'm not sure he'd do that because it was the last car he and my mom bought before she passed away. I also believe he could put around $2000-$3000 down on something. He's been looking at the Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado but he's not found anything in his price range. Is there maybe something different that would fit his needs and still be in line with his price?
Just got some bad news on my 2007 Nissan Murano SL. The transmission is failing. It's going to be a $7,700 to fix. I might as well get another car. I've had some issues with this damn thing over the years and I'm tired of it. Should have been got another one. But as many problems that it has a like the feel of the ride. It just felt good driving it.
I have around $25,000 in cash to spend. I would prefer not have a car payment. It's been 10 years since I've had a payment so I'm just going to use to it at this point. But I can do it if I had to but no more than 200 something bucks a month. I bought the Murano one brand new in 2007. I'm not someone who gets a new car every few years. I want it to last.
I'm thinking the RAV4 is a bit smaller than a Murano? I was thinking something around the same size.
Hybrid vs Gas?
I'm not a car person at all. The Lexus RX350 looks fantastic, and I thought about that but out of my prayers weren't your lesson getting something over 10 years old and/or close to 100,000 miles.
My Murano was an SL and had leather seats, heated seats, moonroof, etc. Looks like the base level RAV4 doesn't have that.
I like the design of the 2018 model as well more than the newer truck like design of the 2019+.
Sorry for the long post. Just kind of rambling at this point. I knew I'd have to get a new vehicle sooner or later just didn't expect it to be this week. To bottom line it should I get a 2018 limited or XLE premium?
Moving from texas to california. Mapped it out to be a 18 hour drive. I’ve never driven a uhaul truck let alone it being attached with a full size suv in the back. Any advice is appreciated, how to put fuel, parking ? Gas stops etc.
Flying to Portland then going to drive up to Seattle 2nd week of May. Along the way going to stop in Astroria and MT St Helen's on the way. Can this be done in a mid size car or should I get an SUV/Truck. Just wife and I.
I’ve tried searching with a couple different key terms and didn’t find anything addressing a question I’ve got for the large bust/small band crowd-
Have you ordered/tried on a bralette from Angela Friedman? In their standard letter sizing, not custom ordered fit.
I’m looking for my bridal lingerie and they have a gorgeous set I’m thinking of ordering bespoke sizing through their Harlow & Fox collab to ensure it’s perfect fit. I’m also interested in their bralettes and tapshorts/panties(specifically all that SILK I love it! They’re all beautiful really) and I’m curious if someone of large bust/small band has tried them(the bras) in off the shelf sizing.
According to their size chart, an XL would fit my measurements. My concern is letter sizing tends to not consider breast volume at all and “oh you have 33” under-bust and 40” bust? Your cups/chest area is the same size as the small but we’re gonna make the band 40”
I wear a 34FF UK/34H US pretty solidly in most brands, but in the past 7 months I’ve lost 35lbs and what size I wear in anything seems thrown out the window! I ordered a silk set from Adina Reay’s outlet earlier this month and the bra I immediately had to put on the tightest hook and shorten the straps as much as I can.. I’m not certain if it’s just that set/designer or if maybe I’m measuring 33” underbust but not doing it tightly enough?
That’s neither here nor there.
I’ve never used condoms and the size chart horrified me, is it actually not possible to have safe sex with some condoms available in most drugstore?
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Journal of Camille Lambert - April 14th (Part 4)
The screams of monsters who unfortunately were no longer beyond my comprehension echoed through the eternal night. I looked up to see one of the nearby warped buildings buckling, as the familiar shape of the Crab Nightwalker hefted its weight on top of it.
It looked considerably different from when I’d last seen it in Puriysk. It's now ill-fitting shell was adorned by glowing flowers, with red vines clinging to it like a sickness and hanging off of it like tendrils. In those tendrils, I could see screaming men, being pulled toward its maw. Pulsating flesh oozed out of the Crab's armor, as if it had overstuffed itself to the point where that armor could no longer contain it.
I watched as the Crab began to pry into the building it stood on, and as its tendrils probed through the windows, dragging out screaming men who shot hopelessly at it as if they stood any chance of killing it.
In the distance, I could see the beginnings of an orange glow as somewhere in Parsons a fire spread… not started by Nina this time. Progress? Looking down toward the street, past the out of place hardware store that Calhoun had escaped into, I could see various Nightwalkers fleeing for their lives, as their former brethren, newly marked by the Rosen Prince pursued them.
It was like something out of a nightmare… impossible horror after impossible horror, melded together and left to tear at each other's throats. The hellish monsters I’d known all my life versus the oppressive militia who I’d long since learned to fear, while a floral parasite ran rampant through the streets, consuming them all. The fact that the backdrop to this madness was now the twisted result of intersecting one town on top of another seemed trivial compared to the insanity that dominated the streets.
I turned, about to descend the stairs of the clock tower to throw myself back into the chaos when from the corner of my eye, I noticed Dom scrambling up the makeshift stairwell that Calhoun had formed out of the collapsed roof of the church. He had Gretchen slung over his shoulder, and Nina was coming up behind him. She hastily swapped out the magazine in her shotgun for a new one, before looking down frantically.
I ran to the far side of the tower to help Dom and Gretchen up through the broken clock face. She went first, followed by him.
“What’s going on down there?” I asked.
“Good news, the Bat thing is dead. Bad news, the Rosen Prince got it.” Dom said, reaching back to pull Nina up behind him.
Almost on cue, I heard yet another demonic screech from the hole in the church roof behind us and I saw another familiar face clawing its way up Calhoun’s makeshift stairwell.
For the most part, it looked like the same Horned Nightwalker we saw in Calhoun’s courtyard although now I could see the glowing flowers of the Rosen Prince adorning its arms and shoulders. Its hands had changed too, with jutting blades now protruding from its wrist. Gretchen looked back at the Horned Nightwalker with a grimace, before giving a sweeping motion with her hand. As the Nightwalker reached the top of the makeshift stairwell, I saw it buckle, then collapse, sending the creature crashing back down to the ground floor along with a significant portion of the roof. I hoped that might keep it down for a while longer.
“Holy fucking shit, what the hell happened here?” Nina cried, looking out over Parsons.
“The mist was already moving the town, I had to make do,” I said. “Don’t ask me how I did it, I don’t know! I don’t think any of the locals came through, though.”
Nina looked back at me, before shaking her head in exasperation.
“Well I hope to fuck they didn’t,” She said. “Cuz I do not
have any kind of rescue plan.”
“What about Calhoun?” Dom asked.
“Wounded and on the run,” I said.
“Well let’s track his ass down and get the fuck out of here,” Nina said. “How badly did you hurt him?”
“I shot him twice in the stomach and he fell out the window,” I said and pointed to the broken clock face. Nina looked at it again, before looking straight down.
“Christ… and he survived that?” She asked.
“Evidently… since this pocket reality is still holding together,” Gretchen said. She rubbed at the back of her neck, wincing in pain as she did.
“How bad is it?” I asked.
“I’ll survive,” She said, “But let us deal with Calhoun first. If he is wise, he will recognize the futility of this engagement and seek to return to the Eldest. We cannot permit that to happen. Then he may be lost to us.”
I stared out of the clock tower again, looking toward Calhoun’s House a short distance away.
“Can you get there alright?” I asked.
“I’ll manage,” She assured me, although before we could decide how to proceed, another inhuman scream echoed from the Church below.
Nina screamed back at it in a condescending tone, then added: “Shut it, you vegetable fuck! We’re having a conversation!” As if in response to that, several crimson vines latched onto the sides of the hole in the roof, slithering outward to grab purchase onto the sides, before beginning to pull something up.
Gretchen sighed, rubbing at her temples and shaking her head.
“Why are you the way that you are?” Was all she asked.
A massive claw appeared on the edge of the roof, as the Horned Nightwalker… or at least what it had become, attempted to climb its way out. Its hands had already changed into sickle like claws that reminded me of the Horselike Nightwalker I’d seen in Puriysk. Several spider like legs rose out of the hole in the roof, lifting the new creature out of the ruined church and onto the roof as it dragged itself toward us.
“Such a bounty laid out before me!”
The voice of the Rosen Prince snarled, “And I have you to thank, Gretchen Di Cesare! Yet, my hunger is not yet sated… for you have not yet joined with me, child!”
Nina readied her shotgun, firing into the new creature's face. Batlike wings unfurled from its back, closing around its body and taking the brunt of the fire. “I grow ever stronger, from the wonderful creatures I have dined on. They offer me little in knowledge, but much in strength!”
As The Rosen Prince advanced on us, I noticed something else from the corner of my eye. The Crab Nightwalker was drawing closer to us as well. I know that Gretchen saw it too. Nina stopped shooting while shimmering blossoms with pale yellow eyes inside opened on the Prince’s wings as the fires quickly died down.
“Ah… ironic, is it not? To find you now in the same position you were in when you invoked me here. Cornered… Helpless... Desperate…”
Gritting her teeth, Gretchen gently pushed Nina aside, staring down the coming Prince.
“You presume far too much, my old friend…” She panted, before looking at us. “Grab something, hold it tight, and pray to whatever God may be listening.”
With a wave of her hand, Gretchen brought down more of the roof beneath the Rosen Prince. It did little to slow it down, but it did enough. Gretchen turned, grabbing the metal frame of the turret clock and letting out a cry of exertion.
I felt the ground move beneath us again, although this time it wasn’t something in the tower she was moving.
It was the tower itself.
In one swift motion, the clock tower had detached from the rest of the church and launched itself toward an adjacent building. The lower part of it lodged itself into the roof of that other building completely, causing part of it to crumble. Somehow though, the clocktower remained intact… for the most part. I imagined that had to be thanks to Gretchen.
“What the fuck are you trying to do?!” Nina cried, looking over at Gretchen with a new fear of God in her eyes.
“You told me to learn…” Gretchen hissed, “I’m learning…”
She strained again, looking back as the Rosen Prince spread his wings to take flight. Nina, Dom, and I grabbed hold of the frame of the turret clock since it seemed like the sturdiest thing to grab as Gretchen moved the tower again, launching it into another building, this one closer to Calhoun’s house.
The impact was too much for me this time. I lost my grip and was thrown to the ground, rolling toward one of the broken clock faces.
“Cam?” Nina called, before letting go of the clock to dive after me. She wasn’t fast enough.
The wind rushed past me as I fell out of the window, landing hard on the roof of the building below. I saw Nina looking down at me from above, before leaping down after me. She landed with a little more grace, and unevenly stumbled to my side, hastily putting a hand on my shoulder.
“You alright?” She asked.
I gave a half nod since despite being in considerable pain I was pretty sure I hadn’t broken anything.
“CAM!” I heard Dom cry, and saw him going to the window next. For a moment, I was sure he was about to jump down too, although Nina waved an arm to stop him.
“Don’t!” She said, “Stay with Gretchen! Get to the house, and kill that one eyed motherfucker if you see him! We’ll catch up!”
Dom hesitated, before looking to see that the Rosen Prince had launched himself onto the last building we’d been on. The Crab Nightwalker was almost on top of him now, and I watched as the two pressed together, their features sliding together as they formed into something new. Pieces of the crab's armor slid onto that twisted amalgamation of bodies, partially reinforcing its spiderlike legs. The batlike wings on its back grew larger to accommodate the new size of this creature, then split to form new wings. It morphed and changed, adapting to the prey it now hunted, becoming something draconic, arachnid, equine, humanoid, and floral all in one unholy mixture. Such a thing should not have ever been… and yet it was and when the change was complete, what was left was an armored creature three times taller than a man with several chitinous horse legs, segmented like a crab or a spiders protruding from its bulbous lower body. It had a hunched-over torso like a human’s, with thick arms ending in chitinous claws and a head that split open like a flower, with gnashing teeth in its center and antlers adorning its shoulders like pauldrons.
Of all the horrors I had seen in this world… this was by far the worst.
The flesh and armor it did not take from the Crab Nightwalker slunk away, pulsating and trying to reform into something new, while the body the Rosen Prince had made for himself spread its six draconic wings to give chase to Gretchen.
The tower moved again, launching itself toward another building and Nina grabbed my hand, pulling me toward the hole in the roof of the building we were on that the tower had left. I had just enough time to see the Rosen Prince take flight in pursuit of the tower before we made it inside the building.
After all the noise out there, the silence inside was almost jarring… and if I wasn’t absolutely terrified by the fucking flower dragon made out of every horrible thing that had tried to kill me in the past few days chasing after my friend, I might have even found it calming.
The building we were in looked as if it’d once been somebody's apartment. Nina looked around for a bit, before finding a door leading out into a hall.
“Come on, we should hurry,” She said, gesturing for me to follow her. I was certain that she had no idea where she was going, but to be fair I didn’t either so I followed her.
“Do all of your jobs go this badly?” I asked, as we headed for a door at the end of the hall.
badly, no,” She said. “This right here is a brand new record.”
We went through the door, heading down a flight of stairs, and out into the lobby of the building. Nina paused by the front door, looking out onto the street to ensure the coast was at least somewhat clear before moving ‘Somewhat clear’
being the operative term here.
The streets of Parsons were reduced to little more than complete pandemonium. I could see the burning corpses of the Rosen around us, along with one lone member of the Sheriff’s Boys who seemed too dazed to even realize we were there.
As the flames of the dead burned around him, devouring ruined cars and blackening the bricks of the buildings around him, he wandered aimlessly.
We all paused as behind us, one of the buildings that Gretchen had hit when she’d decided to turn a building into an airplane began to collapse. I could hear people screaming and felt a knot in my stomach tighten. The lucky sounded as if they’d been crushed outright… the unlucky just kept screaming.
Both the man on the street and I stared at the ruins of the collapsed building, and looking back at him I was hit with the knowledge that everyone in this miserable city probably knew that this was the end. They were all going to die here… whether it was at the hands of the Rosen, the Nightwalkers, or the destruction, they were all going to die. Maybe they all hadn’t accepted it as my friend on the street had… but it was a chilling truth.
This that had once been their paradise was now their tomb… and once Calhoun was dead, even that would no longer remain. I wondered if we were just as doomed as they were… and I wondered if we were just in denial about it.
Well… no time to think too hard about it now.
I felt Nina pulling at my arm.
“Let’s go,” She said. “I think the road up ahead is clear!”
The other man was looking at me now.
From behind us, I could hear the cries of the Rosen and looked back to see them sifting through the ruins of the collapsed building, looking for survivors. The man on the road just laughed, before calmly taking out his gun and putting it under his chin.
I heard the gunshot but didn’t see him die. By then we’d already moved on. But it still made me flinch.
The gate to Calhoun’s House was just up ahead, although it was not unguarded. I could see several more trucks, like the one Kevin had driven parked out front, with a few of the Sheriff’s Boys stationed around them.
As far as I could tell, the courtyard was pretty secure… perhaps they were waiting for Calhoun’s return. The clock tower was lodged in a building half a block away, and I saw it make its final push toward the twisted house, crashing into it head-on and shattering its malformed architecture.
In defiance of all laws of physics though, the clocktower still held together, despite jutting out of the front of that twisted building. The Sheriff’s Boys at the gate watched it with slack-jawed awe, before a familiar voice on a megaphone brought them back to attention. “GUNS UP BOYS! COMPANY’S COMING!”
Between the cars, I could see Kevin holding his megaphone and pointing toward the building the clock tower had just jumped from. Of course Kevin was still alive. This day just hadn’t gone badly enough…
The Sheriff’s Boys manning the guns on their trucks got to work immediately, spinning to take aim at the Rosen Prince as he loomed over the nearby building, regarding the assembled prey with every eye on his sickly, pulsating body. I saw his wings spread wide as he began his final descent toward the courtyard. The bullets tore away chunks of his writhing flesh, but they did not slow him down. Instead, he simply folded his wings over his torso, shielding his body from the hail of gunfire as he made his advance.
The Rosen Prince lunged forward with one jagged claw, crushing one of the nearby trucks like it was made of paper. I saw Kevin take a step back, grimacing in rage before tossing his megaphone aside. Some of his men fled, but he stood his ground… probably because he physically could not run.
“You sonofabitch…” he growled, before pulling a gun from his holster. My eyes widened as I recognized it.
Kevin must have found it after we’d left!
I wondered if he knew what it did, and I got my answer only moments later. He pulled the trigger, striking one of the wings of the Rosen Prince.
The creature shrank back, letting out a hiss of pain, although seeming more confused than hurt. Pink mist rose up from its wing, and I saw the flesh begin to bubble and sear. The Rosen Prince recoiled, its flesh twisting as every eye on its body widened. Kevin kept the gun trained on the Prince, but didn’t fire again. The Rosen Prince retreated back up on top of the building. Its burning wing detached itself, although that didn’t quite seem to be enough. Entire chunks of what I suspect used to be the Bat Nightwalker sloughed out of its body as it tried to shed whatever flesh that Gretchen’s blessed bullet had destroyed.
“Keep shooting!” Kevin called, starting to limp back behind the remaining trucks. “Governor Calhoun is on his way! And get me somebody to help deal with that fucking flying tower!”
I looked over at Nina and saw her eyes narrowed as she watched Kevin leave. I watched her grip her gun tightly and put a hand on her arm.
“Don’t!” I warned, “Those trucks will tear us to pieces!”
I could see in her eyes that she wanted to argue, but clearly she knew better. Her eyes then darted toward the wall and I could see her doing the math in her head.
“Left side of the street, move fast, keep low,” She said. “We’ll jump the fence.”
That sounded like a slightly smarter idea, and I let Nina take the lead.
The trucks didn’t even seem to see us, and kept shooting at the Rosen Prince. I could even see a few crimson flares shooting up from some of the Sheriff’s Boys, catching the Prince’s body and setting his flesh alight as he retreated back atop the building again. Nina reached the fence first and I boosted her up to the top. She straddled it for a moment, reaching down to help pull me up before we dropped down into the courtyard together. She grabbed her shotgun again, keeping at the ready for when the inevitable shooting began.
The courtyard was in an even worse state than we’d left it in. The fountain was almost completely destroyed and had soaked the ground beneath us, turning anything that wasn’t protected by the cobblestone into mud.
Countless bodies, belonging to men, Rosen and Nightwalkers along with a few blackened things that I think
were Nightwalkers, littered the ground. The truck that Kevin had used to attack us was crashed into a nearby wall and looked more or less completely totaled. We could see Kevin limping over toward where the clock tower was, looking up at it as he barked orders.
“Where’s my fucking explosives? We need to get back inside the house without letting any more of those things
out through the fucking door!”
Nina stifled a laugh.
“Oh man… I forgot about the portal to hell…” She said under her breath, as if it was the funniest joke she’d ever heard.
The clock tower shifted, as the section of the house it had embedded itself in began to crumble. The tower sank down to the ground, still remaining intact. I took that as a sign that Gretchen and Dom were still inside.
“MOVE!” Kevin cried, ushering his men back as a cloud of dust flooded the courtyard. Nina and I shielded our eyes for a moment, although I realized as soon as she did the kind of opportunity that had just appeared for us. She gestured for me to follow, leading me toward the house under the cover of the dust.
“Whoever’s in that thing, I want them fucking dead!” Kevin said, coughing through the dust. He turned away from the clock tower, waving a hand in front of his face to try and escape the dust. Nina and I were almost at the front door now, and I already knew what she planned to do.
Honestly, I thought it was a terrible idea. But at this point, I was still on board with it.
Kevin looked up, noticing us just as we reached the door. Through the dust, I could see his eyes widen as Nina reached the front door and pulled it open.
“NO!” He cried, reaching out as if he could somehow stop us.
On the other side of the door, I could see reddish sands. I could feel the acrid heat and burning wind on my face. And I could see dark figures amongst the sands, looking up as soon as the door opened.
Not Nightwalkers… not Rosen.
Nina fired a few rounds from her shotgun, forcing Kevin to try and run. He dove to the ground, crawling behind the shattered remains of the water fountain, as the Sheriff’s Boys turned to see that on top of all their existing problems, they now also had to deal with a portal to actual literal Hell. Because why not? I’m sure it really sucked to be them at that moment.
I saw the first of the blackened Demons charge through the door, snarling like a wild dog. It was torn to pieces by some gunfire from one of the Sheriff’s Boys almost immediately, but more followed.
There weren’t a lot of demons that poured out of that door… but there were enough.
I saw one of them leaping onto one of the Sheriff’s Boys. Its entire torso split open vertically, revealing a velvety mouth, full of teeth that clamped down on the poor man before he could do more than scream. As the Sheriff’s Boys tried to deal with the demons, Nina unleashed burning death upon them all, mindlessly shooting anything that moved. She paused only to pull the door closed, since I guess it made sense not to just leave that hanging open and unattended. I suppose it’s not like she needed even more Demons.
Behind the fountain, I saw Kevin struggling to stand as he tried to escape the carnage… and I started toward him.
Kevin saw me coming and hastily reached for Gretchen’s revolver, but I was faster. I raised my gun and fired twice, hitting him once in the arm and once in the chest. Kevin let out a cry of pain. The revolver slipped out of his hand and clattered uselessly to the ground. He left it where it lay, trying desperately to pull himself back as I pulled the trigger again, shooting him in the stomach two more times.
Finally, I was on top of him and pressed my foot down on his injured leg, earning a final cry of pain from him.
“What was that you said to me the other day?” I hissed, “When I kill you, I’ll have my boys do it… I’ll let them have their way with you first…”
My eyes burned into Kevin’s, and though he tried to keep a defiant face, I could see the fear in them.
“Where are your boys now, Kev
?” I asked.
“It’s… Kevin…” He rasped, although I could still hear the fear in his voice.
I’ve gotta be honest… it was kinda funny.
“I know,” I replied as I squeezed the trigger one last time.
I might have only been using a .22, but it did the job perfectly. Kevin’s head jerked backward and he sank down into the mud, his eyes still open and staring quietly into infinity. I’d remember those eyes… but they would not haunt me.
I looked over at Nina, who gave a wide berth to the Sheriff’s Boys and the Demons trying to maul them as she ran to my side. She looked down at Kevin’s body, and I saw a wry smirk cross her lips, though as she reached down to pick up Gretchen’s revolver.
“Guess he shouldn’t have run for office,” She said, before looking toward the clock tower.
Through some of the crumbling bricks, I could see two figures limping out of the ruins.
“Dom…” I said, running toward him.
Gretchen was slung over his shoulder, but it was hard to say who was supporting who at that point. He collapsed down into a sitting position, and let her flop down onto the ground. The only indicator I could hear that she was still alive was her slight groan of pain.
“Oh my God, you’re okay?” I asked.
Dom just gave me a meek thumbs up.
“Next time… let’s… let’s not do… whatever that was…” He said, pointing vaguely at the clock tower. I pulled him into a hug, that he weakly returned.
“Hey… you good?” Nina asked, looking down at Gretchen and giving her a slight kick.
“Test results… sub-optimal. Do not recommend second attempt,” She groaned.
“Yeah, you’re fine. Get up, you big fucking nerdy baby.”
She reached down to help pull Gretchen to her feet again.
“Hot tea…” She murmured, as she leaned against the crumbling clock tower for support. “Hot tea… and a bath…”
She looked over at Nina.
“What are you doing when this is all over?”
“Oh, I’m gonna get fucking drunk
and buy a lottery ticket,” She said. “I do not
know how we’re all still alive right now, but I’m feeling pretty damn lucky.”
“Alcohol… yes… in tea…” Gretchen agreed, “You’re buying.”
With a trembling hand, she took her journal out of her jacket, turned to a fresh page, and in letters large enough for me to read wrote: ‘TOWER. NO.’
A distant roar pulled out attention back toward the gate. Above it, I could see the Rosen Prince descending from the building again for round 2. He was smaller this time, and had shed his wings… yet his form was otherwise unchanged.
Gretchen just closed her eyes in exasperation before sighing.
Through the gate, I could see the Sheriff’s Boys in the trucks trying to fight the Demons and the Prince to no avail. One of the trucks hastily sped off into the night. The other one stood its ground, shooting vainly at the Rosen Prince as he came for them. He brought one claw down like a hammer, crushing the men in the truck like it was nothing, then drawing it back to hit them again out of rage.
Hissing in satisfaction, we watched as the Rosen Prince continued toward the gate, his many legs going over it as he advanced into the courtyard. “This night draws to its close, my old friend.”
He snarled. “It seems you can run no more… while my strength, is everlasting. It is time… come into my ocean, as you were always meant to.”
“Oh fuck off already,” Gretchen huffed, before noticing Nina out of the corner of her eye, offering her the revolver. They traded a look before Gretchen took it and aimed it at the beast that advanced on us. The moment it realized what was being aimed at it, I heard it snarl with rage. Its body tensed as it lunged for us, trying to close the distance before she could shoot.
But it was already too late.
The gunshot echoed through the courtyard as the bullet hit the Rosen Prince square in the chest, and I saw his body begin to seize up. He clawed at his chest, many eyes going wide. A pained scream escaped him. Pink mist rose from the wound, causing its flesh to bubble and squirm. The Rosen Prince’s eyes fixated on Gretchen again as his body began to die. “WRETCHED WOMAN!”
It hissed, throwing its weight toward us as its body convulsed and boiled. “THIS WORLD REMAINS MINE… YOU SHALL NOT RUN FROM ME AGAIN!”
“Yes, this world is yours,” Gretchen agreed. “Enjoy it while it lasts. I imagine it won’t be for much longer. Your services are no longer required here. But thank you for your assistance.”
The Rosen Prince snarled, desperately trying to crawl toward us. I saw the lower half of its body break away. Its legs curled in on themselves, twitching weakly in death. Only the Prince’s rotting torso remained now and Gretchen stared into its countless eyes, cold and unblinking.
As it tried to pull itself closer to us, one of its claws broke off. It’s movements slowed, as the amalgamation of corpses the Rosen Prince had assembled melted away. I could see the luminous flowers on its body starting to die, as the eyes turned white and fell away. In a few moments, the body of the Rosen Prince lay still as the flesh melted off of its bones… and silence filled the air.
“Is it dead…” I asked quietly, “Really dead?”
“No,” Gretchen replied. “The other drones will still be active, and I suspect he’ll be coming back for us shortly, once he can build something even worse to throw at us. We should leave now, while we still have the chance.”
“What about Calhoun?” I asked.
“If he’s not dead already, I vote we leave him to the Rosen Prince,” Gretchen said. She checked the cylinder of her revolver, “Seems whoever had this wasted the last of my ammunition… luckily I had foresight. Camille, you still have the bullet?”
“Right here,” I said, reaching into my pocket to take it out.
“Good,” She handed the revolver off to me, before turning away and heading toward the door. Her gait was slow and she gave the Rosen Prince a wide berth.
“I’ll remove the rune on Calhoun’s door. If we can find the room with the Eldest again, we should have a way out. We can use the last bullet on him, and see if it works… no promises, but right now I we’re low on options so it will have to suffice fo-”
A sudden onslaught of gunshots interrupted her. I saw Gretchen hit the ground with a pained cry, clutching at her side. Nina ran to her immediately, dragging her behind the ruins of the fountain, while Dom and I ran back toward the clock tower.
A single figure stood under the gate, shuffling past the ruined trucks with a heavy pistol in his hand.
Governor Calhoun looked significantly worse than when I’d last seen him. His skin looked a shade paler and his good eye seemed sunken. He’d stripped off both his shirt and suit jacket and I could see the bullet wounds in his stomach from where I’d shot him… although that was not what stood out the most. His skin was adorned with fresh cuts, with streaks of blood flowing from them like rivers. In his other hand, he held his ritual dagger.
“Leaving me for dead?” He asked, his voice hoarse and cold, “After all you’ve done… to ruin my world… to burn my temple and salt the earth upon which it was built, and you can’t even finish the job? Disappointing.” Nina tried to pop out of cover, but Calhoun shot first, grazing the stone by her head and sending her back down.
“It’s a shame it had to come to this,” Calhoun said. “I would have saved your world. I would have saved each and every one of you. But now after you’ve gone and wasted everything I’ve done… decades of good… I see now that there is no salvation for you people. There never was. I built paradise! And you’ve burned it! Corrupted it! Unleashed plague upon it! Why? I did no harm to you! I left you people be! And yet in stubborn defiance of my efforts to resolve this peacefully, you’ve-”
“Kill yourself,” Nina called, and Calhoun trained off.
“Excuse me…” He hissed.
“We’ve got you four to one, and you’re already looking like death warmed over… so cut the speech, Calhoun. Cut the theatrics… and let’s just get this the fuck over with you self-righteous fuck!”
I saw Calhoun actually crack a smile there.
“Ill-mannered until the end,” He said, before finally lowering his gun and tossing it aside, “Well… at least you were consistent, in life.”
He took another trembling step forward before sinking down to his knees. I saw Nina rising out from behind cover, while Dom and I did the same, our guns remaining trained on him. Calhoun looked at us, before slowly taking his knife and turning it toward his stomach.
Was… was he actually going to do it? Just like that?
Nina seemed surprised, pausing as she locked eyes with him.
“If there’s no salvation,” Calhoun said, “Then all that remains is death…”
With that, he drove the dagger into his stomach, sucking in a breath as he did. Nina actually flinched at the sight of it, but I stayed still, watching as Calhoun buried the dagger deep into his body, and as the blood dribbled down his hands.
“Holy Lugal,” he rasped, “I have no home to defend… no souls to offer. And so, I offer my own. Grant me retribution and I shall become yours.”
My eyes widened, and I could see Nina's doing the same. We understood all too late why he’d mutilated himself…
We fired on Calhoun, but it was too late.
A blinding crimson glow had already spread through his body, traveling along the carvings he’d made in his flesh and I could feel the air around us rippling. Somewhere in the distance, I could hear Calhoun screaming, followed by a faint voice over all of the noise. A voice I only barely recognized as Gretchen’s screaming: