The God Complex - Chapter 4 - Story

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Level 13 : Journeyman Dragonborn
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Chapter 4

The time-torn city


“Oh for heck’s sake!” Sarah yelled. She had not yet opened her eyes, but she could tell something changed. The warmer air, the thing she was laying on now solid and bumpy, and the several sharp things poking her were indicators towards that theory. Looking around, it was clear the birds had noticed her, and they clearly didn’t like her free ride.
“Sorry, you were cheaper than a taxi,” she murmured. She got one last poke in the ribs, as a farewell of sorts, before all the giant birds flew away. Looking down on the rocky beach, a bright orange feather stood out among the rubble.
“Well that’s interesting,” whispered Sarah to herself as she picked it up. Placing it in her pocket, she took in her surroundings. Not too far away was a city, or perhaps just a large town. In need of some food, that was her best bet. It was surprising cities still existed, with all the giant dinosaurs and everything roaming around. Blooms of smoke rose from the town square, either a fire or a factory. The gravel pathway quickly gave way to a paved road, leading up to the city’s entrance. Two cloaked men, each wearing a plague doctor mask, stood guard. The masks were probably for intimidation, but they worked well for concealment. Both of them nodded to Sarah as she passed through the gateway. The bustling roads were overwhelming at first, an alien mixture of flying transport and horse-drawn carriages. An eerie smell filled her nose, the village smelt oddly of sulfur. In front of her, a large fountain bustled to life, spraying water dozens of feet into the air. Moving to take a seat in one of the black marble benches surrounding the fountain, she saw the smoke once again. It was a factory, and it appeared to be a paper mill, however signs to solve that mystery did not exist.

“Hey you, you sir!” Sarah called at a bearded man. He turned around, giving her a crooked smile.
“Yes, my lass?” he huffed as he adjusted his coat and tie.
“What is the best place to eat around here?” She asked.
“Oi, you not from around here, lass? I can tell by yer accent. Best place for some grub would be down on the cornah, at the little eatery. By god, they got the best chips I’ve had since my gran made them for me! Wish I could pop down there more, but the maiden there, my she don’t like me none.”
“Thank you!”
The man smiled a toothy grin once more, before turning away and marching off. Sarah sat for a couple more minutes, before making way to the recommended chip shop. The burnt roads ran with streams of mud, at least she hoped it was mud. Several robots, armed with crossbows, marched around.
“Halt, citizen!” A metallic voice sternly spoke. Turning around, Sarah was relieved it was not her they were speaking too. A young boy was their focus, caught in the act of theft. A pickpocket, probably. Now handcuffed, the boy was pushed out of view, followed by the cybernetic police.
Before long, Sarah arrived at the restaurant. It was unappealing to look at, a greyish brown block like the rest of the town. A wooden sign reading “café” was all that set it apart. The interior was that of a bar, stools placed in front of a large countertop. A band played terrible, off-tune, music in the back. The floor was caked in so much dirt and mud that each footstep sunk into the ground. This place had to violate an absurd number of health and safety laws, if those even existed. Nevertheless, it was food. Taking a seat, several suspicious sets of eyes glared at her. It felt like she was in a pit of snakes, all watching her.
After several minutes the bartender showed up. If anyone was to be in charge of a bar, it most certainly would be him. An aroma of vodka swarmed the room as he entered.
“Whadya want?” He asked in a very bitter tone. “Fish n’ chips?”
“Sure, that sounds good,” Sarah responded.
“That’ll be 7 dubloons,” came the croaked reply. Fidgeting in her pockets, she gave an uncomfortable smile.
“Ya got no money do ya?” the man grumped. She shook her head, no she did not.
“Hey guys, look at this fool! Waltzin in like she owns the place, and not a single gold piece to her name!” His eyepatch bobbled up and down as he laughed. The crowd surrounding her laughed in a menacing way, all amused.

“Now listen here, lass, no money means no food. Go beg in the streets like the pathetic scoundrel you are, if you want. Now scram!” he spat in Sarah’s face. She winced, looking down at her shoes.
“Oh let it rest,” a voice sternly arose from behind her. “She just escaped the Pyramid!”
“Is that so? Like I’ll ever believe that. That place is the most guarded prison around!” the bartender snorted. Turning around, Sarah faced the newcomer.
“How did you know?” she asked.
“I saw ya! Flying through the air on that rogue blimp! I caught it all on camera! My name’s Jenson, by the way.” Jenson fiddled in his black cloak, pulling a grey photograph out of his pocket. “This is proof enough, now calm yourself down, Harvey!” he continued. Harvey must be the name of the bartender, Sarah reasoned.
“Now that’s a lovely story, ain’t it? Runnin a shop ain’t free, still gonna cost money!” Harvey, with an unruly amount of annoyance, huffed.
“Very well,” Jenson murmured, pulling a small pouch out of his cloak. Slamming it down on the counter, several shiny coins tumbled out.
“Very well, I’ll just take this then,” Harvey reached his scrawly hand out for the bag, halting when Jenson gave it a good slap.
“Remember your price now, don’t make me summon the cyber officers in here” he warned. Harvey grumped, before taking 7 gold doubloons from the bag, leaving the rest on the counter.
“Keep the rest, you will need it,” Jenson murmured.
“But why? Why did you help?” Sarah inquired, a face of confusion taking over her.
“Harvey and me, we don’t like each other. I like to pop by every now and then, poke his ribs a bit, keep him in his place. That's why,” he answered, slipping back into the crowd. Sarah quickly pocketed the bag as Harvey returned with the meal. It surpassed her expectations, the fish flaky and chips fresh. It made the music the band was playing almost bearable. The place still needed more light, the one flickering lamp wasn’t doing a whole lot. Quickly finishing her meal, she pondered her next move. Without much knowledge of this world, reverting everything back to how it was seemed almost impossible. An idea springing to mind, she left the café and headed back to the town square fountain. She had seen a library earlier, that was now her destination. There was lots of work to do.
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