Robber’s Dream Part Six

This is still NaNoWriMo writing, so not edited, just word vomit.

 

Rina did not bother carefully going through their prisoner’s pack, instead she dumped the contents out on the road and began sorting through it with the toe of her boot. Some things that she deemed to be useful were unearthed, and she picked them up, but they were mostly food and a wicked looking knife that David was very thankful the man had not had time to reach. Still no money appeared, but David was not any less certain the man had some.
“Maybe we should make him strip,” said David, thoughtfully. He did not think he imagined the look of horror that quickly flashed across Rina’s face, but it was no match to the look of horror on the man’s face.
“You wouldn’t humiliate me in such a fashion,” said the man, almost pleading.
“I would even take your clothing with me when we left,” said David, a wicked smile on his face.
“You would not benefit,” said the man. “You would find no money hidden in my clothing.”
“I might do it for spite, just for that,” said David. David could see an internal fight wage for a short time on the man’s face, but in the end the man’s honor won, as he suspected that it would. The man struck him as a man who thought highly of his honor.
“I have a false bottom in my pack,” said the man finally, though he sounded as though he was having to force himself to admit it. Rina picked up the pack where she had discarded it, and peered into the bottom. A few moments later she pulled out a large bundle of money, and smiled triumphantly.
“Leave him the money he had in his pocket, and half of the food. I don’t want blood on my hands,” said David. “Thank you for your patronage,” added David, smiling at the man, who glared at him the entire time that Rina spent scooping things into her own pack. It did not escape David’s notice that she left the items they were not taking with them scattered on the road.
Once Rina straightened up, David finally removed his knife from the man’s throat. He and Rina had discussed this moment carefully, since in many ways this was the most dangerous moment. Sometimes David and his fellow bandits of old had tied up people they were robbing so that they would not be able to give chase, but David did not like to do that. He was always concerned that they would not be able to untie themselves and would suffer if not die as a result. Instead David and Rina just turned and ran the moment that the knife was lowered. David ran slightly slower than Rina, listening for sounds of the man running after them, but it seemed that the man had weighed his chances and decided that he did not like the looks of two against one, especially since Rina now had his knife stuck in her belt.
“That went well,” said David once they had decided they were far enough away, and had stopped running. “Good job not panicking and staying calm. I can’t say my first robbery went that well,” he added, grimacing at the memory. “I lost my nerve and came away with nothing.”
“Were you on your own?” asked Rina, starting to empty their spoils from her pack so that she could take a look at them more closely.
“Yeah, it was right after I went on the run. Since I ran with only a little money and a gun, there wasn’t much else for me to do.”
“That would be why then,” said Rina. “I would have panicked on my own as well.” David was not certain if that was actually true, but he recognized it for the kind gesture that it was, and accepted it. Rina seemed less emotional than he was, in general. David suspected that it was all of the training she had received to be a soldier that would gain her family respect, and he envied it slightly, even though he knew logically that there was nothing to envy.
“What did we get,” said David, trying to change the course of his thoughts.
“Money of course, and some food. I got his knife too.”
“Well at least we will eat well tonight,” said David, inspecting the food. “We should pack it up for now and keep walking though. We are still too close to the robbery. It isn’t likely, but the man might be able to send a military patrol after us if he comes on one. It has happened to me before. I would rather be far enough away that we won’t be caught in any hunt.” Rina nodded, and started to pack the things up in her pack again. David realized how unfair this was and took half of the food for his own pack. That Rina had not complained that she was being used as a pack mule, even if it was not what David had intended, annoyed David. It was clear that Rina was far too accustomed to going along with things, though David was not yet certain how he was going to address it. He fully intended that she be a partner rather than a subordinate.
“Maybe we should do a few more robberies like that in the next few days before we leave the area,” suggested David as he cooked dinner that night. Since they had new supplies David had decided to become fancy, and they were going to enjoy a dinner of roasted potatoes and carrots, with some smoked fish.
“Why?” asked Rina.
“What do you mean why?” asked David.
“We have plenty of food and money now, I thought that was the point. Why load ourselves down with more things?”
“We’re thieves, it’s what we do,” said David, smiling, though he could see Rina’s point.
“Every time we steal we are going to put ourselves in danger, why do it more than we have to?” David liked to have a cushion just in case they were not able to find any targets for a while, but he could also see matters from Rina’s prospective. More importantly, Rina was voicing an opinion, and after worrying that she was not going to do anything but follow him blindly, David could not stand the hypocrisy of not listening to her now.
“We really should find ourselves a place to make a base camp at, that way we wouldn’t have to carry everything on our backs,” said David, remembering with fondness his comfortable room at the hideout. If it hadn’t been for the people he would have been perfectly happy to stay there forever. “It’s more dangerous to stay in one place, but I cannot deny the benefits.”
Where?” asked Rina, though she did not seem apposed to the idea.
“The mountains,” said David. “That’s the best place for people of our sort. Easier to defend, easier to spot when people are coming for you, and not a place that the military comes without good reason. That close to the boarder too, the military does not like to be seen near the boarder, they worry that our neighbors will get the wrong idea. So long as we don’t become too outrageous we will be fine. The main thing we will have to worry about will be other bandits up there, the mountains are full of people who would just as soon rob us as travel to the highway to rob others.”
“Sounds like a peaceful sort of place,” said Rina, her voice a little sarcastic.
“Better up there than life down here where we always have to be looking over our shoulders in case the military comes. The military is far more organized than the bandits, which means that we have more to worry about from them.”
“To the mountains it is,” said Rina, clearly conceding the point.
Though he did not say anything to Rina about it, David steered them away from his old bandit haunts. Though he had said that bandits were lacking in military discipline, his troop had not been so lacking as he was willing to challenge their territory. The mountain range allowed for plenty of other places for him and Rina to hideout. At least it was hard to get lost on the way to the mountains, they loomed up ahead of them, and every day they got closer. They also got further and further from civilization. Where before had been a countryside, though admittedly a sparsely populated countryside, now they were heading into the wilderness. Though David had not realized he had been tense previously, he found he was noticeably relaxing as they got further away from other people. Now he was comfortable speaking more freely to Rina, and sometimes even raising his voice over a normal speaking voice if he was excited about something.
David had become in the habit of using every moment he could to teach Rina to survive in this harsh new world she found herself in. He taught her to make a snare, and had a laugh at her expense at her first attempt, though she failed to see the humor in it. Almost every night he now had her make at least a portion of their meal, even when he would rather have made it himself. After dinner the two sparred. At first it had been a thing that David had been forced to make Rina practice her combat skills and to remain in shape, but slowly she seemed more comfortable with the idea. This was helped by David going out of his way to tell her of every time he had needed to fight his way out of a situation. He had not actually realized how many times he had been forced to until he began to tell her of them, and then he found himself more motivated as well. Richard had been a good teacher in the past, teaching him the basics of combat, but nothing took the place of practice.
 

The hideout that David and Rina established was a small shanty rather than the cave that David had originally intended. This was primarily because caves proved to be in smaller demand that David had supposed. He had heard that bandits sometimes settled in caves in the mountains and so he had imagined the mountains to be very much like swiss cheese. Wood had proved to be more plentiful however, and so a shack had been judged to be the more practical option.
At first the shack had just been some branches propped together, but as the two became more comfortable, they continued to build on, as the mood took them. Both of them had no idea what it was that they were doing, and so they muddled along, and on one occasion had a portion of their roof cave in while they were not home, but in all they managed a ramshackle but livable dwelling. David ensured early on that he and Rina had separate sleeping spaces. Though he knew there was no one around to judge, he could not help but feel that it was not proper that he should share a sleeping space with a young girl. Rina seemed in agreement with this and spent several days after they built separate rooms decorating hers to the best of her ability given their resources. She offered to decorate his as well, it seemed that she had found something that she enjoyed doing, but David was not certain that they shared an aesthetic. Her room had seemed to involve far more dried flowers than he felt was really needed.
Two more times the two had ventured down to the highway, about two days from their mountain, to rob anyone who passed by. Both times had passed without anything significant happening. David continued to intentionally pick targets that looked easy to capture and were unlikely to fight back. Rina on one occasion punched a man who suggested that she was too frail looking for this line of work, but David had suggested that she not do anything that might cause his knife to slit someone’s throat and she had appeared to see the logic in this because she had stood back. She had insisted that they take rather more of his supplies than they generally did though, as punishment for his big mouth. David had been somewhat surprised by this interaction. He had thought that Rina would take the man commenting on her noncombatant appearance to be a compliment, and reinforcement of her femininity, but this was clearly not the case. It was also clearly bothering Rina that everyone assumed that David was in charge out of the two of them. David did everything he could to defer matters to Rina in front of such people, fearing what Rina might do to them if they continued in the illusion that the two were not equal partners.
“Winter is going to be here soon,” David observed to Rina one morning, the crisp air only reinforced this. They had both been stomping and shivering until the fire had grown to a more reasonable size from the nighttime embers. “We should go on a big raid before then, it might be harder to get out of the mountains when it starts snowing, and we are going to want to bunk down rather than camp. Even if we wanted to raid after the fall of winter, we’d be hard press to find prey.”
“This time let me hold the knife,” said Rina. She had adopted a wide belt that she wore with all of her dresses, and now carried the knife she had taken from their first victim attached to it in a leather sheath. She now drew it and brandished it, as an example of what she wanted to do.
“That’s more dangerous,” objected David.
“So why should you always be the one to put yourself in danger?” asked Rina. David did not in fact have an answer to that question, so he just shrugged.
“I guess, if it is what you want,” said David.
Rina was giddy all of the way down the mountain and to the highway, though she got slightly less bubbly as they waited several days in the cold for anything to pass them by. It seemed as though commerce had already slowed through the mountain regions for the season. A car passed them by at one point, but there was not enough time for them to think of how they were going to tackle a car for them to do it. In any case, the sort of people who could afford a car could also afford armed guards, with guns. Finally the two of them heard the sounds of a group of people coming down the road, and looked to Rina, who nodded. The two of them had never robbed more than one person at a time, but with winter coming they could not afford to be cautious. They were going to need the supplies.
“Take one hostage, as fast as you can, I’ll do the talking,” said David. Rina nodded. No matter how determined she had become to prove that she was as much a bandit as he was, it was clear she had not gotten over her reluctance to talk about people that she did not know. David doubted that she ever would.
The group of people that they heard coming, came and a run, much to the surprise of both Rina and David. Rina was not to be deterred however, as one of the people at their head ran past, she grabbed him,and held her knife to his throat. Since she was standing in front of the others while she did this, she clearly expected them to stop running, they did not. Instead, screaming that there was a trap, they continued running past her, while the man that she was holding hostage was shaking with nerves.
“We got one, that isn’t bad,” said David, coming out of hiding himself and trying to reassure a clearly frustrated Rina. The last thing he wanted was for her to kill the man just out of pride, and he was not entirely certain that she wouldn’t. “Out of curiosity, what were you folks running from?”
“Bandits,” said the man, looking at him like he had gone mad, though David suspected the man was only a few moments from madness himself.
David was about to ask a lot more questions when he heard more rowdy shouts behind them, and he realized that there were more men running down the road. These were clearly in pursuit of the men who had come before them by the way they hollered when they saw the trio by the roadside. They were quickly surrounded by several men, while the rest continued to run after those who had come before. David put his hands up in a conciliatory manner but Rina continued to hold her knife to her prisoner’s throat with grim determination. It was clear that since this was her first prisoner she was not going to be robbed of him so easily.
“Who are you?” asked a man towards the front of the group.
“I could ask the same,” said David, though he had a vague feeling that they were in a lot of trouble. These men were not so well equipped that he thought they were in the military, but they were certainly well enough equipped that they were clearly more organized bandits than he wished to deal with. It was just his luck that they had set up shop near David and Rina’s regular hunting grounds.
“These are my men,” said a woman’s voice. In a few second a woman had shoved through the group of her men that surrounded them and presented herself. It was true that everything in her body language spoke of her being in charge. David had a sudden recollection of the conversation he had had with the landlord of the inn so many months ago now. A female bandit had set up in the mountains a county over. He wished that he had remembered it sooner, it meant that he and Rina had been poaching, something he had no wish to be accused of.
“A pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” said David, doing his best to be respectful. “I had no idea we were interfering with your hunt.”
“That doesn’t answer who you are,” pointed out the woman. “Though I think I recognize you from the television.”
“Likely, ma’am,” said David, wishing it wasn’t. He had hoped that he had changed enough of his personal appearance that no one would be able to recognize him from the well publicized mug shot. This woman at least was clearly not to be fooled. “This is my comrade Rina Adcock. We were hoping to hunt enough to hold us over this winter, and when we saw your prey, we thought it was open to the public as it were.”
“I suppose we can share,” said the woman, eying him. David wondered just what she had heard of him, there were plenty of rumors that went along with the police reports and the news broadcasts that had surrounded his arrest, trial, and escape.
“No need,” said David quickly. The sounds of displeasure that Rina was making under her breath did not escape him, but he was going to be happy enough if they did not make an enemy of a woman who was making a name for herself in the bandit world as a strong leader he might want to attach himself to.
“There’s plenty for us,” pointed out the woman, jerking her head in the direction of where there were sounds of her bandits still chasing the men who had run past. “I’m more curious about where you folks are from.” David considered lying but stopped himself. If they were on the same mountain and the bandit troop was to go hunting around, it would be awkward later if they ran into each other.
“We live right up that mountain there,” said David, pointing it out. “We hadn’t realized it was your territory.”
“It isn’t,” said the woman. She pointed to another mountain, taller and more wooded than the one that David had chosen as their home. “We live only a short way up that mountain there.”
“I hope you don’t mind if we stick around,” said


Robber’s Dream Part Five

Continued NaNoWriMo writing, with all of the associated terrible editing and typos to be expected of that.

“That was actually the start of my trouble. Once the doctors were done, of course I had to fill out paperwork to change my name and everything officially. It did not take long for the military to catch on that I had not announced my gender until after I was old enough that I would no longer be obliged to serve with them. Almost as soon as I finished my official transition to male, they came to arrest me. To say I was startled would be an understatement. I had so many problems with the whole process, but that was honestly not one that I had considered. For some reason I had just assumed that the military would understand what had happened.”
“I do not think that the military tribunal is generally made of the most understanding group of men,” said Rina, pulling a face.
“They were not, and having no money, and no family support, I was forced to represent myself before them. This did not help matters. They found me guilty of hiding my true gender to avoid military service, and I was sentenced to be exiled in a military outpost. Robert and Cassy, his wife, helped me though. Cassy bribed the guards to allow me to stop at our family’s estate to settle my affairs. As soon as I was there I climbed over the back wall, while Cassy served them drinks. How about you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Robert said he helped you escape too.”
“Yeah, and Cassy too. Cassy and I are old friends.”
“She is a good friend to have”
“My family knew almost as long as yours that I was female, instead of accounting and property management, I was forced to endure years of martial arts classes. I was also not so lucky in my cousins, so I had no one to teach me cooking and accounting, even though I wanted to learn. I turned eighteen and without my parents knowing I filed paperwork with the military stating that even though biologically I was male, I was actually female, and therefore I should be exempt from military service. It looked as though it was going to work, indeed my family was even starting to accept it and speak of paying for surgeries for me lest I bring family shame. Then the military found out I had a girlfriend, and they said that I was clearly a straight male, who was simply trying to escape serving in the military. I never got to trial, I had a pretty good idea of where things were going, so I ran. I must not have been very good at it because Robert found me. He told me he was going to help me for your sake as much as Cassy’s, and he was hiding me ever since. I was about to strike out on my own when you showed up.”
“Just as well, for both of us,” admitted David. “Being on the run is a rough life, but being on the run alone is worse. It’s good to have someone to watch your back. I should add that while you might not enjoy fighting, you should be thankful that you can, it might save your life out here. I will do what I can to keep us from such situations, but I cannot promise anything. There are many bandits and outlaws out here, and just because we have joined their numbers does not mean that they will not be quick to rob us just like anyone else.”
“I can fight,” said Rina, her voice grim.
“Did you ever consider simply going to trial and seeing what happens?” asked David, even though it was a question that he personally hated. She was so young and vulnerable looking that he had his doubts whether or not he had it in his power to keep her safe. Keeping her safe was now an obligation though, he had practically promised Robert, and he owed Robert a good deal. “You might clear your name.”
“I would rather die,” spat Rina. “You have not considered what will happen if they find me guilty. I am male according to the military. They would place me in with the male prisoners.”
“That would be a death sentence,” said David, his eyes widening.
“That’s why it is not a gamble I will take. I will have better luck on the run.”
David had thought that he had it hard when he had gone on the run, and indeed he had to admit that somewhere he had continued to think of himself as a martyr. Indeed it could still be said that he had it harder than Rina did still, since his picture had been broadcast everywhere because of his trial, and hers had not. Still, she had it far worse. Even if they did ever capture David, at least he would be treated like any other prisoner. Rina would never have that privilege, if that was what it could be called.
“I will fight until the end,” said Rina, with a conviction in her voice that made David fully believe it.
“It shouldn’t come to that,” said David, sincerely hoping that it did not.
David had considered spending a few days in the abandoned house, since it was comfortable, but after their conversation he was feeling more cautious. Where there were houses there was civilization, and civilization was dangerous. There was the danger that someone would walk past and question why there was smoke coming from an abandoned home, or that a patrol would go past and stop to camp in the same house, or that the original owners would come back even. The next day David announced that they were going to keep traveling and Rina followed along behind. Rina was still not the most talkative of traveling companions, David had the feeling that part of that was her self consciousness about her voice, but now that he knew more about her and her situation he was more comfortable with the silence.
Though it meant that supper took longer to prepare, David began to go out of his way to show Rina what he was doing. He did not comment on it, nor did she, but she seemed happy when he gave her even small tasks like peeling vegetables or cleaning a rabbit he managed to trap. After super David and Rina started to spar with one another when they could find a clear space around where they were camping. David had to convince Rina that it was a necessity, but it was not something he was willing to back down on. For one thing he needed to sharpen his own skills, and for another her ability to fight was a useful tool that he would not allow to grow rusty. He was embarrassed to discover that Rina was better at fighting than he was, at least in a sparing situation, though he was willing to bet that he had more real combat experience than she had. She had been in hiding while he had been fighting for food and money from people who passed him by on the highway.
The highway was important, since it was a a constant source of resources. Now that they were so far away from the general population, David found himself automatically directing them too the highway once he felt they were safe from the general population discovering them. Once they were in the mountains, far away from where respectable citizens ever went, the highway was the only means to make money. David was reluctant, he had no desire to teach Rina the way of a bandit, but he was not certain of any other way that they could live.
David was careful to pick out their first target, wanting something that would not cause any problems for Rina. He was still not certain how she would respond to a real combat situation and he did not want to put both of their lives on the line if she was not ready for a challenge. He had them both walk along the highway for several days, nodding casually to passerby and the occasional passing vehicles. It was the vehicles that David paid special attention to, but that was mainly out of habit. Anyone who could afford a car could also afford armed guards. Their first target was going to have to be a pedestrian.
David eventually spotted a man who looked as though he was well off, but not so well off that he would be armed. With his knife at the ready at his side, though he did his best to palm in, he greeted the man and asked him for directions. As to be expected the man was on his guard, there were no such casual meetings on the roads out in the mountains.
“I do beg your pardon for troubling you,” said David, deciding that the man was not going to become more relaxed, so he might as well act. In a swift movement he brought his knife around to the man’s throat, “would you mind telling us where it is that you keep your money? Rina,” he added, though he felt slightly guilty that he was so commanding. It was not a situation that allowed for polite conversation. Rina stepped forward and began to dispassionately going through the man’s pockets. David had been a little reluctant to ask a teenage girl to do such a thing, but he had talked about it with Rina, and she had told him that it would be fine. It was the same model of attack he had practiced before with various members of the bandit troupe he had belonged to, but they had all been men, robbing men generally. It had been different.
“I found some money,” said Rina, pulling it out of the man’s pocket and holding it up for David’s inspection. He looked, and was not impressed.
“He will have some more hidden somewhere, that wouldn’t pay for a meal and a room for a night. No one would be so stupid as to travel with so little.” The man glared at him, but the kitchen knife was as sharp as David had been promised it would be, and having it scrap under his chin seemed to persuade him to keep still.


Robber’s Dream Part Four

Continued NaNoWrimo writing. Still not editing, just writing. Sorry for any errors.

David led the way by lantern light, away from his home town and away from the danger of being recognized. Rina followed in silence. Much to David’s surprise she did not seem to much care where they were heading, or what they would do once they reached there. Since David had no one idea how he would answer either of those questions in any case, this was a relief.
They camped as dawn broke, since they were still close enough to civilization that David was worried they would be recognized on the road if they continued to travel. He found them a patch of woods with a patch of bushes that made a space large enough to hold the two of them comfortably. He tried to explain this to Rina, but she just shrugged and took off her knapsack. It was clear that she was not a particularly social, which David could already tell was going to make him uncomfortable. He was accustomed to having conversations, and he was not entirely certain that that was possible with Rina. Instead of worrying about it now however, David just laid out his blanket and fell asleep. He woke up about an hour later out of habit, just to make sure that everything was still fine, and he could see Rina soundly asleep not that far away. He could not fault her bravery at least, she was not bothered by life on the run.
That night the had supper on cold provisions that Robert had given them before they began to walk again. David could hear Rina breathing heavily, and he asked if she was alright, but she just nodded. He remembered that while he had been walking up and down mountains the last few months, she had been living in a small cellar, hardly large enough for someone to stretch out in. He could not imagine that she had been getting much exercise. In consideration of this David began to walk more slowly, and he did not think that he imagined the look of relief of Rina’s face. He wished that she would just say something, but she seemed no more talkative now than she had the day before. On multiple times he tried to force a conversation only to be faced with silence and shrugs or nods.
“Do you think that we have gone far enough now that we can start walking during the day?”
Shrug.
“Still doing alright?”
Nod.
“Want to stop for a break?”
Head shake.
“Want to stop for the night? We can start walking tomorrow morning,” David said finally. Rina nodded her agreement. It was around midnight and they were walking past a house that was clearly abandoned. His initial time on the run, before he had joined the bandits, had taught him the value of abandoned houses. There were no shortage of them. Living out away from settlements, and out of the protection of the city bosses or the military, was not a good way to live in comfort. People sometimes tried, but often returned to the comforts of living around other people quickly.
The door of the house was locked, but David had no problem jimmying one of the back windows open, and climbing through, Rina scrambling after him. The house was small, but after several weeks living in the wilds again, being indoors was a comfort that David was not going to complain about. Everything was dusty and there was a hole in the floor in the bedroom where it seemed as though a raccoon might have been getting in through looking at the paw prints and the droppings. David carefully closed and latched the door to the bedroom, insuring that they would not have any unwanted nighttime company.
“Do you ever speak?” asked David, cleaning out the fireplace. This far away from other people, he was not concerned about playing house and having a fire in comfort.
“Yes,” said Rina, much to his surprise, though she hesitated for a moment before answering. Her voice was deeper than her frail form suggested, and David stared. He saw her blush and was ashamed for staring. If she was really as like him as Robert had suggested then she would be ashamed of the way that her voice sounded, and of course would know that was why he was staring. He could remember all too well how embarrassed he had been about his voice, back before it had finally changed.
“Sorry, I really thought that you were not able to speak,” said David, covering his embarrassment. “Pass me my pack please,” he added. He thought about asking if she knew how to cook, but he did not want to embarrass her even more if the answer was no. Instead David pulled out some dried packets of ingredients. He did not like to demonstrate that he knew how to cook generally, but he did not think that Rina would think him unmanly for it.
It was hardly a first class meal, and it was served in tin dishes, but Rina did not seem to mind. They both sat and enjoyed a bowl of soup and some tea in more comradely silence than the quiet had been previously. David saw Rina looking at the pot hungrily, and gave her the remaining soup. She was thin enough that he figured that she needed it more than he did.
“You cook well,” said Rina, once the meal was finished.
“It was just dried ingredients. It would be better if I could hunt. You don’t have a gun do you?” asked David, suddenly. Rina shook her head though, and David gave a deep sigh. He had not really expected her to have one, it would have made things easier though.
“Would you teach me to cook?” asked Rina, confirming David’s other suspicion. At least, now that he had spoken a few times, he seemed more comfortable speaking in general.
“Sure,” said David. He was very good at cooking, when he had the ingredients, but he had a lot of negative associations with it. It would be nice to be able to hand it over to someone else, even if he was going to have to be the teacher. “How old are you?” he asked, looking at her closely. She seemed young now that she was well rested and had had several good meals.
“Eighteen,” said Rina.
“I’m twenty-four,” said David, “so we’ll say you are my little sister. I’ve been on the run for long enough that I suppose that you could say that I am good at it.”
“Quick to adopt people, aren’t you?” asked Rina, and for the first time David saw her smile.
“Robert asked me to look after you, and if there is a man that I trust, it is Robert. He likes you, so I figure I will too.”
“And he only helped me because of you,” pointed out Rina, now actually laughing. “I will try to be a good sister.”
“Good,” said David. “I already have a few sisters who don’t actually care for me. I am afraid that most of the skills I can teach you though are robbing and surviving.”
“Seem useful enough,” said Rina. “Your escape when you left home should have been enough to prove that you are good at surviving.”
“Robert helped,” admitted David. He had seen a few of the stories that were broadcast over the radio and on television. Though the military was responsible for both media sources, and therefore had been somewhat biased about what had happened, they had admitted that he was armed and dangerous. They had also given a brief overview of what he had done in order to explain why the general public should be careful approaching him. It was true that he had fought his way out of the city.
“Tell me about it?” asked Rina. “I only know the official story.”
“Yeah, I guess. If you only know the official story, then you have heard that I hid my true gender so that I would not have to serve in the military. I am so unwilling to fight you know,” added David, smiling, but his voice was bitter.
“I did have my doubts about that,” said Rina.
“As you should have,” said David. “When I was fourteen I was already uncertain of being female. I told Mother and Father, and they were determined that I simply did not know what I was doing. It was all confusion caused by puberty you know. I asked to join the boys in their training, but instead they declared they were hiring extra teachers, so that I could learn about nursing and cooking and accounting. They seemed determined that if I learned enough of such skills I would know that it was what I was meant for. It did not matter that I did not care for property management, I was to dedicate two hours of every day at it. Every day I was told that all that a man had to look forward to was living on his wife’s lands and fighting. It didn’t seem so bad to me, not when every day I became less satisfied with the idea that I was a woman. Then Great-Aunt Hilda got sick, and they used that against me. As the eldest of their girls it was my duty to take care of her. Who would nurse her as she was dying if I was forced to do my mandatory military service as a man. So while Robert joined the military, and fought bandits and rebels, I spent my time nursing my great aunt.”
“I’m sorry,” said Rina.
“Don’t be,” said David, shaking his head. “I loved Great-Aunt Hilda. You would have too. She let me do whatever I wanted in her rooms. She gave me a sword once for my birthday, and told me it was our secret. Her body was weak, but it hadn’t done anything to her mind. She had never had any children you know, that was why she lived with Mother, and she treated me like I was her son. When she died she left me what money she had, though her land went to Mother. When she passed away I tried to convince my family to allow me that I was not a woman, but by then they were able to argue that they had invested too much money in my education for me to not manage the family estate. Great-Aunt Hilda’s legacy was a life saver for me. It was enough money that I was able to transition without family support.”
“So you were able to?” asked Rina, and David did not think he imagined the tinge of jealousy in her voice. That confirmed David’s other suspicion.


Robber’s Dream Part Three

Further non-edited NaNoWrimo writing. So yeah, there are probably errors in here I won’t catch until December.

“You can say that, but they did actually include the theft of the gun on the list of your charges once you were gone. They added much to your crimes once you were no longer here to defend yourself. It makes your original crime seem small.”
“I am aware, I had the privilege to see the list of my crimes on a wanted poster soon after I went on the run. It was a startling experience.”
“If you are remaining on the run, I have a favor to ask you,” said Robert.
“Was there any doubt?” asked David. “I made the commitment to not being captured back when I climbed over the back wall.”
“I thought maybe you would turn yourself in, if it was possible to negotiate a lighter sentence for you,” admitted Robert.
“I’m sorry,” said David. The injustice of it all would not allow him to surrender, though he knew that Robert was trying to do what was best for both him and the family.
“Well, if you aren’t going to turn yourself in, would you be willing to take someone with you on the run?” asked Robert.
“Who?” asked David, surprised. It was hardly the sort of favor that was often asked.
“Do you remember the Adcock family?” asked Robert.
“Yes,” said David. David did of course remember the Adcock household. They were a large family, allied with his own closely. This had meant many formal events and celebrations had been had with them. David had been allowed to attend very few of such events however, except the least formal occasions. He had at one time had had the vague feeling that there was some talk about having someone marry someone from the family, but it had been such loose talk that no particular name had been mentioned as a person who he might be introduced to. David mostly remembered the entire family as a riot of noise and many children.
“One of them got into some trouble,” Robert explained. “Trouble a lot like yours,” he added significantly, after a pause. “She ran before her trial, when her family withdrew their support and refused to pay for her legal defense. Since she reminded me of you, I’ve been hiding her,” Robert admitted. David was startled, that was a bold thing for Robert to be doing. It was one thing to meet with him out in secret like this, it was another thing to actively hide a fugitive.
“Do you like her?” David asked, it was best to know if he was about to go on the run with his cousin’s illicit lover or something of that sort. It many ways it would make the most sense for why his cousin had stuck his neck out the way that he had for her. Robert shook his head though.
“She isn’t interested in men, that is part of her trouble in fact. You would think it was a crime. One of the men I served with in the military tipped me off that they were going to go arrest her, and I tipped her off. With our families being close like they are, it wasn’t so difficult to visit without causing suspicion. She’s been living in Aunt Bethany’s warehouse for the last few months. With the harvest almost here though, I don’t dare have her remain there however.”
“Have you suggested that she turn herself in?” said David, his voice a little bitter. Robert’s repeated suggestion that he surrender had bothered him before, but now it was worse, knowing that he was hiding another fugitive. “Life on the run is harsh.”
“Prison would be harsher for her than it would be for you,” said Robert, clearly realizing what was bothering David. “For several reasons prison would be a sentence that would kill her. Surely it is not such a terrible thing for you to have someone with you as a companion. I promise, I have known her for some time, and she will not be a burden. Please.”
“After all that you have done for me, how can I say no?” asked David, though he was not certain what he was getting himself into.
“Thank you,” said Robert, gratitude and relief filling his voice. It was obvious that he had been worried about what could be done with this fugitive he had taken in. “I will make sure that she is fully equipped and ready tomorrow night. Meet me at the warehouse?” he added.
“Fine,” said David. In that at least they were in agreement. He had no desire to remain in such a dangerous neighborhood for longer than was necessary, even if it was unlikely that anyone was still looking for him in this region anymore.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” said Robert, standing. David stood as well, and found himself clasped in another hug. “I miss you, all the time,” admitted Robert, holding him tight. “You were my voice of reason in that house. With you gone, how do I know I am making the right choices?”
“Just imagine my voice in your head,” said David, laughing. Richard had always been like a brother to him, both of them far closer to each other than they were to their own siblings. David never felt he had to be anyone but himself around Robert, which had gotten them both into trouble at various times. David had not been supposed to speak out, or roughhouse with the boys of the family, but around Robert he had done just that, with Robert always next to him and egging him on. Robert had always been able to silence any of the other children who said anything about David’s behavior with a well placed kick, but the older members of the household had been harder to deal with.
David changed hiding places almost as soon as Robert had left. He could not be certain if anyone had heard or seen them out in the woods, no matter how isolated he thought they had been. It was this level of paranoia that had kept him safe so far, so he was to ashamed to continue to exercise it. Now that David had the food that Robert had brought him he was now able to move further from people, his main motive for being so close to the settlement previously was so that he could find people to buy or steal food from. His Aunt Bethany’s warehouse was well out of the town in any case, so David headed in that direction.
Though David would never admit it to Robert, he spent most of the next day keeping an eye on the warehouse belonging to their aunt. He trusted Robert, indeed Robert was one of the few people on earth that he did entirely trust. That did not mean that somehow their meeting would not be discovered. A trap might be sprung, and if there were two fugitives to be captured in the process rather than one, all the better for the military. By nightfall David had carefully circled the warehouse at a distance however, and he had seen no one. The tall stalks of corn around the warehouse had given him a perfect cover to not be seen. Several times farmers had come out to work in the fields, but David had crouched low, and they had continued on. They seemed mostly interested in making sure that the silo and the barn across the fields were ready for the coming crop.
David had almost decided that Robert wasn’t coming at one in the morning. He was just considering whether or not to attempt to get in contact with the woman in the warehouse himself when he spotted the lantern coming down the road towards him. When it closer he was able to see that it was Robert, who was on a bike, and traveling at a decent speed. David was impressed, it was clear that life was treating Robert well if he was able to afford to travel in such style. For a minute David considered asking Robert if he would be able to get him a bike for his own use, but then he realized how impractical it would be. Most of the roads he traveled on would be in no shape to ride a bicycle on.
David stepped out of the rows of corn, and waved to Robert. Robert waved back and put his finger on his lips. He carefully opened the door to the warehouse and the two men stepped into the building. The warehouse was used for serving meals during the harvest, and for storing a few tractors that were used for bringing in the corn. Looking around, at first all David was able to see were the banquet tables and the monstrous shapes of the machines. Then he noticed a faint glow coming from the cellar door in the floor. David, who had been to this warehouse for more than a few harvests, could not imagine. The cellar was a tiny space used for keeping food cold while people worked in the fields. Robert had said that the woman had lived here for several months. David frankly thought that prison would have been better.
Robert walked over and knocked on the door to the cellar with his foot. It was clear that they were expected, because as soon as he knocked, a woman opened the door and pulled herself up from the floor. She was thin, and David got the feeling it was more from hardship than any standard of beauty. Still, it was clear that she had taken some care about her appearance. Her hair was long and brushed out, and she was dressed in a clean set of clothing. She had a knapsack matching his slung across her shoulder, and David was willing to bet that it was from the same generous donor as his.
“I would like you to meet Rina Adcock,” Robert whispered to David. “Rina, I would like you to meet David Galvez.”
“Wallace,” said David quickly. “I now go by Wallace,” he explained, seeing Robert’s puzzled look by the light of the lantern. “It is better for everyone.”


Robber’s Dream Part Two

Continued NaNoWrimo word spam, hopefully in the form of a good story. NaNoWrimo involves no edits, so I am sorry if this is poorly edited, does not flow well, or has typos.

Having worn himself out simply surviving for the day, David went to sleep early. It was a liberating feeling to make his own hours. In the past there had been bells to wake David, and to send him to sleep. That had been true both at his family’s compound and with the bandits. Now David even allowed himself the luxury of sleeping late, though after years of waking up early, sleeping late only meant about an hour after sunrise. David considered remaining camped where he was, but that seemed like a terrible waste of his freedom. In any case he was so close to where his former comrades lived that he was afraid that a scouting party might find him, which would be awkward.
David had never seen a map of the area he was in, not even when he was with the bandits, and so he had no idea where he was going. He knew that if he went much further North though he would meet the boarder, and no one got in or out of the boarder. He therefore went south, at a slow and leisurely pace. Settlements were easy enough to spot, and David generally went around them. If he needed food or water he chose to buy it from an isolated home instead. The bosses of towns tended to have very little that separated them from bandits when things were looked at closely. At one time David’s last name would have helped him with town bosses, but David had no desire to humiliate his family. He had began to use the last name of Wallace almost as soon as he had gone on the run. It made him feel noble, especially since his family could be considered partially responsible for his current life on the run, but it did mean that he was also exposed to the danger of life as a nameless nobody.
There was also the danger that what looked like a settlement from a distance might prove to be a military outpost when he was in it. They were very hard to tell the difference between. David was all too well aware of how much the military wished to arrest him. His trial had been well publicized, and had been used as a precedent for convicting on later cases. It was an embarrassment to the military that the case that they used for many other convictions had ended with the escape of the guilty party. No official sightings had been reported of David since. Of course what that meant is that they simply had not asked the right people, but David did not have enough money to buy the silence of an entire military outpost, so it was best to steer clear of them.
David was now in the land of landmarks that he recognized from his initial flight into the wilds. The occasional house or strange rock that had stood out to him before, stood out once again. He realized that in his uncertainty of where to go he had been heading back towards his home. That was a terrible idea, as he well knew, and it stopped him in his tracks. Now he was stuck however, he could not go forward or back from where he had come from. Being so close to home offered temptations however, and he was not able to resist them. Doing what he could to disguise himself, especially so close to home where people would recognize him, David sent a single letter with a boy who he bribed heavily.
That Robert actually came, two nights later, to the small woods that David had set up camp in actually surprised David. He had sent the letter with hope, but with the expectation that his cousin would ignore it, and avoid the risk he was running. His cousin even seemed somewhat happy to see him, which was also unexpected.
“Do Mother and Father know that you came?” asked David, standing up and giving his cousin a hug. This close to a settlement David had not dared to light a fire, and so he was wearing every item of clothing he had been able to put on. Even so, the hug from his cousin was a crushing thing, as if Robert thought he could hold on to him, if he just used enough force.
“I told no one,” admitted Robert, letting go of David and stepping back to look at him the best he could by lantern light.
“They wouldn’t have let you come,” said David, sitting back down. He had no doubt that what he had said was true, it wasn’t a question.
“You are an embarrassment,” admitted Robert, settling down across from him, and placing his lantern in between them. David and Robert had met in secret many times before, back before David was a criminal. In some ways this was a comfortable and familiar thing. Robert had even helped teach David to fight, out in the woods in the middle of the night, even though David had not been supposed to learn and it was expressly against family orders.
“I am surprised you actually came,” said David, who was thinking about it even more now that his cousin was sitting across from him. Back in the old days it had just been a fear of family recriminations, but the military could be harsh against anyone that they suspected of harboring someone that they wanted to speak to.
“Of course I came,” said Robert. “I had to make sure you were actually alright. I spent this entire evening considering what I would say if you had already been captured at this meeting was a trap to prove that our family was protecting you. I have an entire script down. It starts with me stating that our family’s fondest wish is for you to be brought to justice.”
“Is it true?” asked David. Now he was tense, wondering if he was the one who had walked into a trap. Family honor was an important thing, it was fully possible his family had decided to turn him over in order to regain what they could.
“I think most of the family wish that you simply stopped existing, or that you never existed at all. I know my mother and father feel that way. Grandfather and grandmother have forbidden us to mention you, which did make it easier not to mention that you were in the area. I have had a lot of practice not mentioning you now.”
“I am disowned?” asked David. He had been heading in that direction in any case, but he had left before anything had been final.
“No longer in any record of the family, they struck you out,” said Robert. He looked worried, clearly uncertain of how David was going to take the news. “Officially your mother and father never had a son.”
“Officially, in the family records, they had never had a son anyway,” pointed out David. In many ways it made the blow softer.
“What have you even been doing? I kept waiting for word,” said Robert.
“I joined some bandits for a while,” said David. “Don’t worry, I stopped using the family name. Even if my activities gained me attention, I doubt anyone will connect David Wallace back home.” He said the word “home” out of habit, and then pulled a face.
“But you have left them now?” asked Robert. “I would have thought it the safest place for you.”
“It probably was, but almost as constrictive as our grandparents. There has to be somewhere that I can do what I want, without having to justify it at every turn.”
“If you find such a place, let me know,” said Robert, though it was clear that he did not think that it existed. “Where are you going now then?”
“I haven’t decided yet. I am considering West. There is a lot of woods and mountains to the West. I am obviously not going to go East, that would be the same as handing myself over.”
“Have you considered handing yourself over?” asked Robert.
“Of course not,” said David, looking betrayed. “I told you that I was looking for more freedom, not a military prison.”
“Life on the run cannot be kind to you, wouldn’t it be better to serve your time, clear your name, and be able to live your life without always looking over your shoulder.”
“I did nothing wrong,” said David, he wished that people would stop suggesting that surrender was the best answer.
“Yeah, I know,” said Robert, looking deflated. David went from annoyed to sympathetic in an instant. Robert was under a lot of pressure from their family, and as the male heir to the family he was risking a lot by continuing to be loyal to David. He had several brothers who would happily step into his place if he were to disgrace himself.
“I won’t keep coming to bother you, I just wanted to see how things were,” said David. It was going to hurt to cut himself off, but it was for the best.
“Don’t be stupid,” said Robert, pulling himself back together as well. “No one can live without any sort of support, especially on the run. I brought you some money and supplies,” he added, patting the bag next to him.
“You really didn’t have to, that isn’t why I got in touch with you,” said David. It was true that he was short on money and supplies, but knowing that he had been disowned meant that what was being offered was from Robert’s personal resources, and he did not want to loose the friend he had through being greedy.
“Take it, it’s given with good will, and I will be able to live in comfort without it,” said Robert, holding the bag out towards David. David took it reluctantly.
“I lost the gun you gave me,” he admitted. “Well, it was stolen from me, by force,” he added.
“I cannot even imagine where to find another for you,” said Robert. “That one I stole from Grandfather’s room for you. I have a confession to make about that.”
“What’s that?” asked David, who was a little disappointed that Robert would not be able to replace the gun.
“I told them that you stole it,” said Robert, looking sheepish.
“One more crime, of many,” laughed David.


Robber’s Dream Part One

It is NaNoWriMo month, which means it is time for me to flood this blog with writing that I have not edited at all. I apologize in advance. Here is yesterday’s work.

“I therefore must leave your service,” said David. He had put much thought into this, and matters had been heading in this direction for some time. Arthur, the man that David had worked under for the past year, was clearly surprised however. He stood and stepped forward, his arms out in a pacifying gesture.
“Where will an outlaw like you go?” asked Arthur. David did not actually know the answer so he just shrugged.
“We both know that I am not good at following orders, and I would rather we part on good terms. I have proved to be a poor subordinate. I will find somewhere that suits me.”
“You are over confident in your strength,” suggested Arthur. David was willing to admit that it was probably true. He was also unwilling to pursue that line of thought however. As he had said, he wanted matters to remain civil between the two of them, and David’s arrogance had been a consistent matter of contention between the two of them.
“Though I ask that I be released from serving you, I assure you that I will never divulge where this location is,” said David, following the script that he had memorized in his head to have this conversation.
“That I believe completely,” said Arthur. “If you feel that you must leave, I will not stop you. Please feel free to return if you are not able to find anything better. You will always have a place among our numbers.”
“Thank you,” said David, though he would rather walk across hot coals barefoot before he came back a failure.
David already had packed his bag of essentials, so he was able to grab it from his room and head towards the door. He had had no intention of being told that he could not leave, and so he had prepared. He was leaving plenty behind, amassed in his year of relative comfort living in hiding. He was not willing to allow such things to hold him prisoner however. Arthur could do what he wanted with the things. Knowing Arthur he would probably sell them. No one commented as David headed for the door, though he was certain that at least some of them already knew that he was leaving. In such a confined community word got around quickly. David thought he was going to be completely unchallenged until he reached the door. Then the guard stepped in front of him.
“Leave the gun,” said the guard. David stared at him.
“I brought the gun with me,” said David, reaching down and touching the familiar grip. He had worn the pistol at his side since he had first gone on the run.
“Artur says it stays here,” said the guard, tensing. David considered his options. This could be considered enemy territory at this point, he was surrounded men who had been his comrades until half an hour ago, but they were clearly still Arthur’s men. They were not going to side with him against their boss.
“It was the only thing I was able to bring with me from home when I ran,” said David, it was only the truth. His cousin had thrown it to him as he had climbed over the back wall of their family compound. It had been a valuable gift, guns were not only useful but also incredibly hard to acquire.
“Orders,” said the guard, refusing to be moved by compassion. David sighed, and reached down. He undid his holster and allowed it to drop to the floor. The guard stepped aside and allowed him to pass. David resisted the urge to shout behind him that he hoped that the gun misfired when Arthur most needed it. That the gun would end up in Arthur’s hands personally was not of any doubt. David had not seen any gun so nice as it while he had lived with the group. It occurred to him that he should not have lived with robbers and expected not to be robbed.
David set off down the mountain in a far less cheerful mood than he had started in. Without his gun he was not entirely certain what he was going to do with himself. Not only was it his stock and trade as a highwayman, but it was also the most effective way to hunt for meat to eat. Food was certainly on his mind by the time he reached the bottom of the mountain two hours later. He had been too anxious about his meeting with Arthur to eat earlier in the day. David therefore stopped at the public house at the base of the mountain to get a bite to eat.
The public house was empty, which was a relief. It was frequented by the men of the mountain, and David was in no mood to meet any of them. The only people there were the landlord and her husband, both of whom greeted him familiarly. David ate in silence, the landlord was accustomed to bandits, and had no desire to pry into their matters. It wasn’t until David stood up, leaving some money on the table for his meal that she said anything to him.
“You know well enough that you don’t need to pay me anything, David. You’ll be getting me in trouble with Arthur, taking your money.”
“I left his service,” said David, curtly. “I owe you for the meal.”
“What are you going to do with yourself?” asked the landlord, shocked. “You are not a man who can wander around as you please.”
“Yeah, I know,” admitted David.
“I heard of a small group working about a county over. I heard some woman was in charge, but a woman who can fight,” the landlord added, seeing the skepticism on David’s face. “You could go and join them. With your reputation, I am certain that they would have you.”
“I am done with following orders for now,” said David, his voice firm. “I plan to be my own man for a time.”
“There is safety in numbers,” pointed out the landlord, “I could write you a letter of introduction, that way they could be certain that you were who you say you are. Everyone knows who I am.” Which was not entirely true, David knew. The people who mattered knew the landlord at Crooked Mountain Public House though. She and her husband had been a duo of petty criminals until they had discovered that there was better money to be made serving other criminals food and drink in a safe place. They therefore saw to it that the law never ate with them, and they had private rooms in back to conduct business in. David imagined it was only because of how out of the way their public house was that the military had not raided it yet.
“No, thank you,” said David, picking up his pack. “I will see what I can find.” David headed for the door and then thought of something that turned around.
“Do you have any guns for sale?” he asked.
“Guns? No. What happened to yours?” asked the landlord’s husband.
“The price of freedom,” said David, his voice grim.
“You won’t get far without a weapon, I’ll sell you a knife,” offered the landlord, holding up one of her kitchen knives. David wrinkled his nose in disgust and almost turned her down, but then realized the truth of what she had said. He would indeed need a weapon.
“How much?”
“Three dollars, but only because it’s you,” said the landlord. “I’ll even sharpen it for you,” she added, seeing him hesitate. David reluctantly handed over his money.
David was not actually certain where he was going, so he did not bother to remain on the road. As everyone kept mentioning to him, he was a wanted man. It was not a good idea to walk by the public ways, even if this was not a part of the country that the military often went. If the military did feel like a walk through the wood it was a good idea for them to do it in force or the various criminal groups that enjoyed the shelter of the wilderness decided that they would improve their weapons with military grade provisions. Without being a member of a gang himself now however, David did not have much protection against the same gangs deciding to see what they could make off of him. Scurrying through the underbrush, while undignified, was better than being robbed for the second time that day.
David made that camp by climbing a tree and taking the best series of catnaps he was able to without falling. The experiment was a failure, and he resigned himself that in the future he was going to be forced to sleep on the ground and take the risk. He probably would have simply climbed down that night and attempted to catch what sleep he could, but he was not entirely certain that he would be able to climb down the in the dark without breaking something. He was therefore forced to endure until dawn the best that he could, when he climbed down from the tree stiff and tired.
David did not actually travel any the next day. He built a fire with the driest branches that he could find, and hoped that the smoke would not bring any unwanted attention. David was able to trap a rabbit, skinned it with his expensive kitchen knife, and cook a decent dinner. It was certainly cheaper than finding a place to feed him, especially out in the middle of nowhere like he was. David was painfully aware of how little money he had. Arthur’s gang had made a decent living, but with so many men to split the money between, little had made its way to David.


Inktober Day 31 “Friend”

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Finished. At last I can sleep again.

For those of you who don’t know what Inktober is: http://mrjakeparker.com/inktober