((Welcome! It's about time for another one of these again. This isn't your typical forum journal post--consider this more along the lines of a "choose your own adventure" type of story. The character that you will be playing in this story is my own-- Frankie Mercer. I've decided to retire her temporarily, and rather than post a large body of text explaining what has happened while she was away, I figured that a community game would be far more fun. After every update to the post, a poll will be made for everyone to vote on one of the next possible actions that can be taken. The poll will be replaced with a fresh one once the next section of the story is posted. Keep in mind that you can only vote one option, and you cannot change your vote once it's in! Good luck!)) . . . “… .. .. ke?” With a short groan, you begin to open your eyes. Darkness immediately floods the corners of your vision as you do so, but you furiously blink to try and break through. Eventually, your surroundings start to come into focus—as does the relentless throbbing plaguing the back of your skull. “About time you woke up. Was almost beginning to think they beat you to death back there.” Beat you to death? What was he talking about? All you wanted to do was get back to sleep, and all his constant badgering was doing was giving you quite the headache. Besides, you had already promised that you would assist in finishing out some of the other factory rooms in the morning. “Whatever it was you did, they really didn’t like it, though. Never seen them get so worked up like that. Not over some random girl, at least.” Hold on—things were beginning to come back to you now. You had been trailing the coast, having just finished up meeting with a close friend. It was the later hours of the evening, and you were hoping to make it back to base before it got too dark. That was when— “Shit!” You suddenly exclaim, shooting into an upright position. Your body screams back in protest of the action, but you could care less at this point. Struggling to bring your arms around to your front, you come to the distinct conclusion that the attempts are futile. Rope, you note to yourself. You’ve been restrained. “Easy now,” the man sitting across from you mutters. As you've returned to a more lucid state, you start taking in your surroundings a bit better. From the looks of things, you're seated in the back of a van of some sort—as if the occasional bumps and the low growl of the engine weren’t enough to give that away. Any possible views to the outside have been sealed up tight. “May not look like it, but you’re safe. Well, safe in the sense that nothing’s going to happen to you at this very moment.” The person speaking to you looks to be a grizzled man in perhaps his mid-thirties or so. While he doesn’t look particularly threatening—what with his crossed arms and mildly irritated expression—you’re certainly not one to take any chances. Especially when you’re the one lacking the use of your arms. “Name is Daniel, by the way,” he continues. “Not that you’re necessarily feeling up to any sort of conversation, but it’s only common courtesy to introduce yourself.” Daniel takes a moment to scratch idly at his chin, eventually peering back with a bit more curiosity. “You do have a name, don’t you?” . . . Tell Daniel your name. (8) Give Daniel a false name. (4) Refuse to respond. (2) You give Daniel a long, hard look. He, on the other hand, stares back with an expression that clearly indicates a longing to be anywhere else. Eventually, after contemplating the various risks that come with disclosing your name, you decide that there couldn’t be that much harm in it. It wasn’t as if your name carried any sort of notoriety to it. “Frankie,” you finally respond. You decide to stick to single word answers for now. “Alrighty then, Frankie. Looks like we’re off to a good start already—no use in going around lying to strangers or anything like that anyways.” Daniel takes your follow-up look of confusion with a roll of his eyes. “C’mon now, it’s right there. On your vest.” Your confusion melts away into alarm as you look down. Sure enough, there it is—front and center on your Mongol MC uniform—the name Frankie. You gulp. Not only did you narrowly avoid a stupid mistake, but you’ve also just come to the realization that you’re still in your Mongol attire. You desperately hope that these people have good relations with your group. Daniel seems to have read the change in your composure as clear as day, judging by the amused expression he now eyes you with. You immediately decide to take your conversation with this ‘Daniel’ a bit more seriously now—he’s obviously no fool. “How long was I out?” You croak, still very much feeling the effects of whatever it was that happened. “Oh, couldn’t have been longer than a good minute or so. It’s not like I was counting. We’re not too far from where we picked you up, actually.” Daniel’s answer is disheartening. Evidently, whatever it was that these people wanted you for, they wanted you alive. It wasn’t as if they had lacked an abundance of opportunities to kill you while you had been unconscious. “… Is it too much to ask what all this is for?” You tug on the ropes binding your arms together for emphasis. Daniel offers an incredulous look. “You kidding? You’re a member of the Mongols—there are so many groups out there that would pay a good price to get some sweet, sweet revenge that it isn’t funny.” Daniel shrugs apathetically. “I’d be the one lying if I said that were the only reason, though.” “What d’you mean?” “Well, it’s clear from the boss-man’s attitude that he’s got some kind of personal beef with you. I highly doubt it just has to do with the whole Mongol issue that you’ve got going on, either. Either he’s got some kind of third eye that can see more than I can, or he knows you personally somehow. Looks like we’re going to be figuring that one out together.” Despite your best efforts, you genuinely can’t tell if he’s being truthful about any of this or not. Your shoulders sag as you turn your eyes downward in discouragement. This wasn’t a ‘small situation’, this was potentially the most dangerous situation you’ve found yourself in since what occurred in the Deadzone. You wearily wonder if you’ll ever get to see your friends again. The sound of the vehicle pulling to a stop tears you away from your depressing thoughts. You glance back up at Daniel in curiosity, but he seems a step ahead of you. “Don’t get too excited now, we’re not at our final destination just yet. Just a small pit stop to wait out the rest of the night—can’t drive too far with how many marathon runners there are out there.” Laughing at his own joke, Daniel boots the back doors to the van open. “C’mon, might as well introduce yourself to the others.” . . . Play along, at least for now. (6) Flee the moment you're outside, this may be your only chance. (1) Sit right where you are. If he wants you to move, he'll have to do it himself. (3) Daniel grunts as he hops down from the back of the van. He swings his arms back and forth in a stretch, dusts his hands off on his pants, and with a motion of his head, he indicates for you to follow. You briefly contemplate your chances if you were to take off the moment you step outside, but ultimately decide against an idea as risky as that. Instead, you resolve to cause as little trouble for yourself as possible. As you exit the vehicle, you start to take note of your surroundings. A small fire pit has been constructed not far from where the van has been parked. Three other men besides Daniel have arranged themselves around the flames, and besides maybe a few brief looks of disdain, they hardly acknowledge you. “Can’t have the flames too high, now,” Daniel remarks to you. “Wouldn’t want to give ourselves away in case a few of your friends are lurking around. Why don’t you go ahead and take a seat with the others? Might be hard to believe from your position, but they’re nice enough.” Right, you think to yourself. That’s why they picked me up. To make friends. The relentless pounding in the back of your head seemed to agree with your sentiment. Nevertheless, despite your less than enthused feelings on the matter, your feet begin to carry you over towards the rest of the group. You’re not met with any warm greetings as you approach, not that you expected otherwise. Instead, the three lower their conversation to a more hushed tone, apparently determined to keep you out of things. That suited you just fine. After all, you were far more concerned with attempting to understand the course of events that managed to land you here. You close your eyes, allowing the mumbled voices to fade into the background. Suddenly, like the twinge of a barely remembered dream, you start to recall exactly what had happened. You had been walking along the lakeside, with only the chirping of insects for companions and the dim light of the stars as your guide. You hadn’t meant to return at such a late hour—and was certain that you would never hear the end of it from Hammerhead—but there was little you could do about it now. All that mattered was getting back safely. So, you walked. And you continued walking. The journey to get here was fairly uneventful, so you were confident that the return trip would prove just as routine. You vaguely begin to wonder how the others were doing after that car crash back on the road. It was probably extremely odd for you to duck out that the way you did, but you couldn’t risk Hammerhead accompanying you. Stubborn as he was, he likely would’ve insisted to stick with you until well after the meeting window had closed. Leaves crunching beneath your shoes, you continued on your way, until suddenly… People! As you rounded a bend in the path, you were met with the sight of a large van, and several individuals milling about the area. Three, by your count. Now… what did you do again? . . . Immediately dive for cover. (4) Keep extremely still, and slowly try to retreat. (6) Withdraw your gun. If they were competent at all, they must have seen you already. (2) You immediately freeze in place. With your heart threatening to beat out of your chest, you fight for dominance over your nerves. Think! Your mind screams at you. Make a plan! Your instant judgement was that you needed to back off. If it had been a single person—perhaps even two—you might have been able to get the jump on them. When the enemy count starts reaching beyond that though, it instantly places you in a position of helplessness. There was no way you’d be able to confidently cover every single one of them. So, lacking any better options, you decide to retreat and hope to God that none of them have noticed you. You slowly begin to back up, one foot behind the other, keeping your attention squarely on the figures surrounding the vehicle. Then, something occurs that makes your heart stop. Did they just point at me? You ponder, as one of the figures gestures oddly in your direction. Again, you freeze. There wasn’t taking chances anymore, you had to get out of here. Without bothering to waste time any further, you immediately turn on a heel and start sprinting for the road that you had arrived from. If I can just make it back to him—your thoughts are cut off as another person seems to stumble across you. You remember him as one of the men sitting by the fire now, a tall and fit figure that looked just as shocked to see you as you were to see him. “What—“ is all he manages before you’ve brought a fist up, sending it crashing for his stomach. The man only barely manages to bring his arms up in time before you connect, causing him to take a half step back with a grunt. “Bitch,” he rasps as he readies a blow of his own, but you’re ready. The awkward strike is easily ducked, and this time you’re able to make the next hit count. He groans in surprise at the sudden blow, gripping his midsection in pain—but to your dismay, he doesn’t drop. Instead, his eyes glare furiously at you, and before you know it he hurls a kick powerful enough to send you to the ground twice over. Your head strikes the dirt path hard, and the world seems to spin. You manage to scramble to your feet. Should you try to keep fighting? Should you run? Your legs felt weak. You turn, noticing that the three from the vehicle have caught up to you. Just as you’re about to try and speak to them however, the ground seems to drop out from under you. You fall… You open your eyes. Everything has come back to you at this point, and you decide that beginning to study the others a bit more carefully wouldn't be a bad idea. There were four, obviously, considering that one had been missing when you had initially approached their vehicle. The one sitting closest to you by the fire was a giant of a man when compared to the other three in the camp. You easily recognize him as the man you had run into in the woods. He sat hunched over in his seat, clad in a grease-stained, white tank-top and a pair of loose fitting jeans. The stranger appears to be ignoring your presence altogether, seemingly far more interested with his quiet rumblings to the other two. You move down the line. The next man is a much more scraggly figure, and lays back in a fairly relaxed posture. Contrasting with the far larger man beside him, he wears both a grey pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt that appear far too big for his body frame. You note that he couldn’t be much older than yourself, if not younger. Finally, your eyes land on the man sitting directly across from you. You’re quickly surprised to find that unlike the other two, he passes the occasional glance your way. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t seem to want to make friends at all, and from the furious look he passes your way you figure that he isn’t entirely okay with having you there. Perhaps it’s the Mongol logo that he hates. Regardless, you make sure to remember him—he sits in place in a simple navy t-shirt, brown cargo pants, and a pair of hefty looking boots. Lastly, you start checking for their weapons. As expected, each person is as prepared as the next, with the standard kit appearing to be a simple dagger alongside a firearm of supposedly their choice. You wonder if— “Yo,” a new voice breaks you from your thoughts. It’s the man sitting across from you. The one giving you the looks. His eyes are narrowed in a dangerous calm. “How long are you going to sit there staring?” The other two turn to look your way now as well. “Well? How about it?” “Got something you wanna say?” . . .