A Ride With A Cabbie

Three of the pin-heads come out from behind the corner at the opposite end of the hall just as Hank and Franklin leave. They begin jogging to try to catch up.

"Excuse me! Is that you, Mr. Sterner?"
"Could you spare a statement for the Mad City Courier?"

OOC: No contest to escape yet, but if you choose to get the hell out of there, the combined pain rating to escape from them is four dice. Fighting them would be different, however.


Franklin continues to walk, acting like he did not hear the calling, trying not to run (yet).


"Gangway!" Hank screams, pulling his jacket over his head with his free arm to obscure his face and pumping his legs wildly as he races away from the pinheads.

As the pin-heads pass Clockwise's door, the thin man, shrouded in smoke as ever, emerges and strolls swiftly in the other direction. One of the pin-heads looks back over his shoulder a moment and sees the similarly-dressed man hurrying away. The pin-head calls excitedly to the others.

"Hey! Isn't that our guy back there? We're being played!"

OOC: I've used 2 Madness dice to represent the distraction of the Thin Man, and added an Exhaustion die, for 6D total.

Hank rolled D 3, E 1, M 2, P 4
D: 6 5 2, M: 6 3, E: 5, P: 5 5 4 3

As Discipline dominates, can I use that to drop that Exhaustion die back to 0, or can I not since I just took it for this roll?

The pin-heads skid to a halt and reverse direction, pulling out their pens and notepads as they race after the disappearing Thin Man. "Hank, buddy! Just a coupla words for the folks!"

Meanwhile Hank chugs his way down the stairs and out the front door of the building, breathing heavily but keeping it together. "Pretty smooth man," he congratulates himself. "Now where did that Franklin get too?"


Franklin is caught off guard from Hank's trick, but just as soon as he's out of sight of the Pin-Men he runs down the stairs, and coming out of the building almost collides with Hank.


"Hey hey! We lost them!" Hank says, slapping Franklin on the back. "So, want to find this Warrens place or check out your police station first?"


"Heck, you seem in deep and urgent trouble, Hank… and if in the Warrens you can get some help, maybe I'll be able to find some, too, to take my brother out of trouble."

"I'm following your lead, let's go"


"Trouble is my business," Hank says out of the corner of his mouth, pulp detective style. Looking around him, Hank spots the person he's looking for, a thin man wearing a rumpled suit, face hidden behind a cloud of cigarette smoke.

"Thanks for the diversion man," Hanks says to the Thin Man. "Look, you don't know the way to the Warrens by any chance?"


Franklin notices that the man he's traveling with may be a little crazy, as he speaks to thin air as if someone were standing there.

The Thin Man drops his cigarette to the ground and crushes it with the heel of his shoe. He turns and starts walking down the sidewalk away from Hank and Franklin, his hands in his pockets, towards a bus-stop. Its metal frame is coated in rust, and the glass is chipped and cracked. The cloud of smoke lingers in the air, and follows him along.


Waving Franklin to follow, Hank hurries after the Thin Man.


Franklin shrugs, and follows…


Hank loses sight of the Thin Man as he takes a seat at the bus-stop, as faded maps and posters cover the glass. Upon looking inside, he's gone, and a crumpled piece of papers sits on the bench. It's a business card for Mad City Taxi Service.

"We operate thirteen hours a day, eight days a week! Just hail a cab, and we'll give you a ride! A fast, reliable Taxi service is just a wave away."

Cigarette smoke still lingers in the cold air.


"Oh, well, I figure we just have to move along with the mood of this place…” Franklin mutters.

Then, he steps to the side of the street, raises a hand, whistles loudly and shouts "Taxi!"



A 1970's yellow American taxicab pulls out of a nearby alley, its tires screeching loudly on the street. The car pulls up directly next to Franklin, and the driver leans his head out the window. He's a middle-aged man wearing a short beret, with huge circles under his eyes and a thick cigar chomped in the corner of his mouth.

"Need a lift?" He asks in a heavy New York accent.


Hank butts in over Franklin's shoulder. "We need to get to the Warrens, fast. You can take us there?" Fumbling in his case, Hank pulls out a stack of banknotes, a few stained with suspicious flecks of something brownish. "There's a good tip in it for ya buddy!"


He eyes the money, and looks quizzically at Hank.

"No worries, Warrens it is. Keep your green paper though, it looks moist. Hop in; I'll get the meter rolling." He leans his head back inside, hands still on the wheel.

Hank notices the Dwarf standing on a nearby balcony pointing at something, and looking in that direction he can see some of the Pin-Heads ambling agitatedly in the taxi's direction, jabbering to one another and changing rolls of film. They don't appear to have noticed either of you yet.


Hank ushers Franklin unceremoniously into the taxi before jumping in after him. "Our friends with the inquisitive nature and no faces are back," he whispers, nodding in the direction of the pinheads and sinking down in his seat.

"No need to go easy on the speed, friend," Hank calls to the driver.


"You got it." The car speeds off, leaving behind a cloud of strange-smelling exhaust.

The cab easily maneuvers through the alleys and streets, occasionally honking its horn at a slower-moving car in the way. Passing through a large market square, you can see that the city isn't as deserted as you thought. Large crowds gather around stalls and shops, carrying stacks and boxes of unidentifiable items. Strange odors waft through your half-open windows, and glowing colored lights shine in from all directions. Several of the clockwork policemen stand guard or patrol through the rows of stalls.

The taxi driver remains friendly and conversational. "So, you folks sure aren't locals, huh? Where are you from, if you don't mind me asking?"


"No, we're not from around here," Hank answers, peering out of the fogged taxi window at the lights, smells and sounds flashing by. "Well, not for a long time anyway. As for where I'm from, I'm not too certain about that myself - I tend to forget stuff."


"This place seems to be interesting… al kinds of people and stalls 'round… what kind of goods can we buy here.?"

"Oh, and by the way, what's it called?"


"Heh." The driver chuckles. "A better question would be 'What can't you buy here?'. What we're passing by right now is the Bazaar; it's open every night at 13 o'clock. It looks as of its just closing up…" He says, glancing out his window up towards the sky. "Yep, it's 13:58." The driver narrowly swerves around a woman in a clown suit crossing the street. The taxi seems to posses a sort of abnormal maneuverability-as if running on a track.

"The Warrens have quite a few entrances around this part of District 13, most of which aren't very clean, I hasten to add. I can drop you off in front of the Whacks hotel, if you prefer. It's a place where most visitors to the Warrens stop by on their way in or out. Not that there are many visitors…"


"Sure buddy, Whacks hotel sounds fine," Hank answers distractedly, staring at a strangely-tattooed man standing behind a stall of brightly-coloured vials, old toasters and assorted bric-a-brac as the taxi roars past.


The tattooed man grins at Hank, plucks a bright green tattoo from his face, and places it into a jar, where it slithers around like a snake. He places the jar on the counter next to the others.

"The Hotel it is, then." The driver says. The taxi swerves into a small grassy park, (flattening a bush) where spindly bare trees are surrounded by colorful flowers. He drives under a stone archway set up in the middle, and down a dirt incline into a long, dank tunnel extending much farther than you can see. The cab drives almost straight downwards, and Hank and Franklin are barely held in by their seatbelts. The rough stone tunnel is smeared with various substances, and colored liquids drip from the ceiling onto the car's windshield. The dim yellow headlights are the only illumination.

"It may be a little bumpy, but it'll even out in a minute." The driver says cheerfully. "It seems cramped, but it's more like a series of caves than a series of tunnels. The tunnels just lead into the caves, if you know what I mean."


"I hope this ride does not take much longer… these caves don't look very… friendly" Franklin mutters.


The tunnel widens out to about 30 feet, and the slope begins to even. The walls are by now completely made up of pungent red and orange wax.

A three story wooden building is built into the wall up ahead, bright lamps hung all around it on small hooks. A painted sign reads, "Whacks Hotel: Enjoy Your Stay". Though it's very dark, you can faintly see humanoid figures skittering around on the walls and ceiling of the cave: burrowing through openings in the wax. Goo drips all around you as the cab pulls in front of the building. Lights are on inside, but there are no other cars present.

The Cabbie turns in his seat, his hands still on the wheel. "Well, we're here. So, which one of you gents will be paying tonight?" He nods his head towards the cab's meter. For the first time, you notice that the cost, 2.56, is listed in liters.


"Litres of what?" Hank asks, nodding toward the meter. "Hey, is it safe to get out here? There're some kind of people crawling around up there."


"Maybe I should clarify since you aren't from around here. Ya see…" The glove compartment opens by itself, revealing a small opening into the car. It's smeared around the rim with greasy red stains. "… I gotta eat. Driving around the city all night is hard work. I just ask for a little snack as payment for my services." He grins. "So, just a few liters of your blood is all that I ask. I keep a measuring cup up here if you need it." He nods towards a cardboard box on the passenger side's floor.

"As for those guys out there, just don't shine any bright lights at them and they won't bother ya."


"Riight…" Hank says, looking sideways at Franklin. "Look, I got a thing about cleanliness. How exactly do you… make a withdrawal?" he asks, motioning discretely at Franklin to get ready to run for it.


"Heh." The doors lock. "You don't."


"Look, man, I hope we can arrange this thing in a civil way… but I'm not going to give you my blood."

Franklin shoots a glance to Hank, with a meaningful expression of "when you are ready, I'm ready"


The Cabbie glares at Franklin. "You got the ride, you pay the price."

OOC: Pain: 5.


Franklin reaches towards the cab driver, as if he is presenting the wirst for the bloodsucking… and at the last moment the hand whips to the cab driver's face.

There is a slowdown in time, and by the time Franklin touches the driver's face, the skin is already peeling off.

(OOC: I'm activating my madness power, The Book of the World)

Renatoram (Franklin) rolled D 3, E 2, M 4, P 5
D: 6 6 2, M: 2 2 1 1, E: 4 3, P: 6 6 3 3 2

That's 6 successes vs 3, I win, Pain dominates.

Under the first layer of skin, lay pages full of bad handwriting, complete with the holes of the eyes, nose and mouth.
Franklin starts to flick pages, as if the face of the man was a book, and reading here and there, almost as a man searching something in a manual.

The cab driver is frozen there, and also Hank seems to be stuck in time.

"Dear god, what am I doing?" a stray thought passes quickly in Franklin's mind.

But he goes on, looking and reading. Then time spins up again, while the pages close.

(OOC: Hambandit, I leave to you the narration of what I discovered, if it's fine for you; I'll narrate the pain element of the scene, and feel free to add to it)

Franklin slumps back on the cab seat, his arms just falling beside him. He's breathing heavily, and almost seems disgusted, staring wide eyed.


The wrinkled and torn paper is predominately taken up with scribbled records of the driver's fares, as if driving a cab is all that he does or ever did. There are occasional notes on the margins, ("My engine hurts… better get it looked at") though one page in paticular stands out that reads:

"Must remember to pay back Wax King for his Smothered guys getting my wheel unstuck."

The Driver blinks, as if waking up from a daydream.

"So… yeah. Like I said. Pay up, or else."


Franklin takes a deep breath, trying to clear his mind, clenches his fists, puts on a (hopefully) intimidating look, and says, in a calm and plain tone:

"Man, I think you should just let us go. Really."

"You don't want us to remind the Wax King about that tyre of yours, do you?"

He then shots a glance to Hank, trying to convey "Just follow my lead!"


He winces.

"Hey, how'd you…? You work for him? Tell him I'll pay as soon as I can. Uh, yeah, sure, this ride's on the house."

The doors unlock and open.


A momentary look of confusion crosses Hank's face before he quickly recovers.

"And mind you don't forget!" he says in an affronted tone to the taxi driver. "The waxing's not to be trifled with. Very important to remember, waxing…" he trails off as he hops out of the taxi with haste.

Looking about, Hank checks Franklin is with him, then hurries toward the Whack's Hotel, nervously scanning for the figures on the ceiling. Inspired by seeing the hotel sign, he calls back over his shoulder to Franklin.

"Ah Whacks King! I get it - the guy who owns the hotel right? How'd you know that guy owed him?"


"Heh… it's a long story… " then he pauses - "Actually, it's a short one, but I don't really know" Franklin makes a worried smile and a shrug.

"To sum up what I think I understand, I sometimes have access to information that you would not expect me to have. Let's leave it at that".

"And now let's move on"

Franklin falls into step with Hank, while the old, battered cab putters off in the dark.

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