Wolfram Tavern & Inn

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Wolfram Tavern & Inn

Post  Steven Chesluk on Mon Aug 07, 2017 11:49 pm

Steven enters from the chaos of the market streets, the sliding rice paper door allowing the buzz of everyday commerce and chatter enter the cozy pub & inn developed for Foreigner's nearly fifty years ago. It was somewhere that he frequented often, and he knew how his dear old friend's mind worked. The Foreigner's tavern was empty for the most part, the elderly gentleman able to amble through its corridors of tables with upturned chairs laying upon their surfaces with relative ease. It seemed it was yet ready for business, but there were a few women and men who made up the staff running about, and the man he was looking for sitting at the counter.

I could smell him a mile away. Steven joked, smirking as he approached a man in a heavy brown leather duster that seemed to have been collecting a lot of dust and dirt from the trails he no doubt walked or rode through. He was cradling a glass half filled with Northern Scardian Whiskey, the bottle to which the amber liquid originated wasn't too far away. Tall in stature even while sitting, the man's broad shoulders and high collar hid his face from view, only the graying beard of his once chestnut color hair visible from his back. It was odd to see the man sit in this manner, and Chesluk wondered if age had truly eaten away at his bite. "Hello again... Zero." Steven spoke, idling behind the man with his bag on his shoulder.

The broad shouldered man began to slowly turn towards his left...

For a man like Zero Kurakawa...

The visible grey eye gleaming like a hawk zeroed in on its prey, his shaggy grey beard rubbing against the collar of his dress shirt, an old T.I.R.S. Uniform slowly revealing itself as he turned...

..his bite...



The triple barreled revolver hanging on his left thigh's holster jingled, the Cerberus - one of Chesluk's earliest double-action revolver designs exposing itself with the small charm of a three-headed hellhound hanging by silver chain off the butt of the grip...



...was worse than his bark...

Steven and Zero stare at one another for a moment, allowing the two elderly gentlemen to get a good look at one another after 35 long years:




There was silence that seemed to go on for an entire lifetime between the two gents, before the Gunslinger leaned back, and casually grabbed the double shot glass. "Chief of Tenik Sciences, Deputy Director Chesluk of the T.I.R.S... or is it Director now?" Zero asked, raising the glass to his lips, being uncharacteristically formal with Steven given how such close friends they had been... prior to Hades Valentine's unfortunate end. If not with Hades, Steven was sure it was with Hades' son, Styx....

Zero pulled the glass from his lips, licking them lightly before adding: "I see age has taken that glorious mane of yours." he smirked, his single eye glancing at Chesluk's face to read his emotions. Chesluk chuckled. "So that is how the great T.I.R.S. Spy greets an old friend? Did becoming a Hero of Tenik Industrial put your head high into the clouds? <Chuckle> I did become Director, but I retired a few years ago. The reins are now in the hands of the younger generation, by Mika actually. The company has plenty of old, insensible men running the show, a young woman with a good sense of direction should shake it up a bit. Now I'm just a balding old coot who they keep downstairs in the lab. Perhaps they think I'm some sort of living fossil they can poke and prod. But, at least they feed me now and then." Chesluk replied half-jokingly, taking a seat beside the Gunslinger Master. "Though, in a way, we're both fossils. Men of a bygone era." He chuckled again, removing his hat and placed it upon the empty seat beside him, next to his bag.

"Heh, if we took the clock back 80 years, I wonder how you're female agents would react to your younger self. Always whispering sweet nothings to any woman that caught your eye, I'm surprised your wife didn't kill you. <Chuckle> But, I think you've pictured yourself wrong. The irony is the young generation keep you around to develop our next generation technology. You're the old man they have paving way for a new era. Since Rufus-Alexander's time, our world has moved from a snails pace to that of a tortoise. Give it time, we'll be a jack-rabbit yet." Zero replied, before asking for another glass, pouring the bottle into it before sliding it nonchalantly to Steven who caught the glass. Zero pulled a dog eared photo from his pocket, looking down at it with his glassy eye:



"I'm no hero. Never was. I was just a fool who thought he could change the world with a gun. It's been seventy-four years and look where we've gone?" he paused, looking down at the reflection of their younger selves:



"The military govern's Galideno's true masters, influencing Tenik to make moves against Domescadia. Domescadia is no different, with their young King spreading chaos and enslaving his own people while damning the Feline Beastkin to their folly. Various other companies trying to compete with Tenik Industrial, building a government that is being controlled by their leaders like a well oiled machine. Warring Clans vying for power in Beijio, willing to enlist outsiders to further their advances or overthrow the Garamonde Empire. We fought the Gods when they were blinded by malice, and it was Rufus-Alexander who sealed them in his ring. The world was united then. We were not separate races, species or nations. Everyone shared Tenik's idealistic dream. But with the Gods now in their respective realms, no longer a threat, the world was able to return to its primal existence. Man, woman and child turn against one another. Brothers at arms now slay one another for a handful of soil, and the darkness in Man's heart leaks out to form the Reguis, the man of malice. In the end, Rufus-Alexander's dream was simply that. A dream..." Zero continued, closing his eye.

Chesluk remained silent, looking down at the amber drink in his hand with sorrowful eyes.

Zero slowly opens his good eye. "I take it this isn't a social visit, Steve. We keep out of touch for thirty-five years... and you now show up, reminding me of what was lost. Of the dream, of Hades and Styx' sacrifice. I doubt you wish to talk politics, or rather hear me rant about the current state of affairs..." Zero asked sharply, humorless and cold as he turned to face his former friend.

Chesluk remained silent for a few moments. He sighed heavily before closing his eyes. "Zero... you were the Agency's best soldier, its best spy. Your mentor, our friend Hades died to preserve Rufus-Alexander's dream. I still fight to preserve that memory in my own way. What you speak, of Galideno's Military becoming more power hungry by the day is true, and at current, Rufus-Alexander's grandson is too weak to hold Tenik's Sigil. I fear if the military pushes our young President hard, to press him to release the Gods stored within his ring... he will surely die. George Junior would undoubtedly sacrifice himself to save Galideno from Abdel. But I fear the Concordat will not be satisfied after they remove the Black Emperor as a threat. I fear they would aim to use his ring's power for greed, for power. And the worst of all, is only those of the Tenik bloodline can utilize the ring. So when George dies, who will they ultimately turn to? I'll tell you who, they'll move on to his child, young Alexander..." his lips turned into a tight frown.  

Zero looked at Chesluk with concern. "Careful what you say comrade, I believe it was you who stated spouting state secrets openly is treason." he says in a harsh whisper. "How was that information leaked into the Military Senior Staff anyhow? Only the Tenik Bloodline and T.I.R.S. Elite Red 5ive should be aware of these secrets."

Chesluk furrowed his bushy grey brows. "I have an inkling of who the rat may be, but I have no proof yet to back my claims... there seems to be no motive lest they are simply sewing seeds of chaos." he began, glancing over to Zero. "They know. They know so much that I've been receiving inquiries about the possibility of soul bonding a War God to an object. Sounds familiar, no? They were looking for the files we collected when we were hunting the Twelve Gods themselves. Thankfully, I've kept most of that information on a Forerunner's Cube, and had some of my faithful remove said cube from Galideno's reach by way of the Librarians." he says with some confidence.

"What if they are intercepted? What then Steve? You've not only stolen Galideno's state secrets, but willingly given them to the world!" a disgruntled Zero worried.

Chesluk turned to his glass. "Ah, but remember, I said I have all the data in the cube. Only one of Forerunner's blood can get access to the information within those cores. Not even a true demon... they are sealed by a true power. Even the void could not open its recesses, not that it couldn't, but merely because the void destroys all too wantonly." Chesluk cryptically answered, before turning to Zero again. "In other words, they'd have to understand what they are looking at first. Then they would need me to open it for them, let alone know I am the only one capable of opening it." he smiled sadly. "I can say with some modicum of elation that my years are almost over. A Forerunner's long life has stolen much from me in my time. My sons have sons and grandsons of their own, their blood too diluted and knowledge of the Forerunners and their technology too limited to be of use to any who find and understand my Cube. When I die, I will be taking away a culture which had sewn the seeds of its own destruction with it. With my death, our deaths, the world will be able to truly move on." Steve says, looking at his open, wrinkled hand and clenched it tight. He had seen many suns, and many moons. His mother told him he was lucky to be not like her, having to live through 1000 years before death could finally take her. His life was long, not even half of his mother's, but he could feel it... that his time would draw near soon enough.

Zero shifted uncomfortably in his chair, blinking rapidly before leaning close to Chesluk. "Steve... why are you telling me this? Why are you here?" The two elderly gentlemen for a moment, were both young again, the years momentarily forgotten between them as the moment drags on.

Steve fiddles with his bag, pulling something out. He then slowly turns to Zero, his face pale. A folder slides in front of Zero, the red stamp of 'classified material' upon its face. The tab on the side of the folder read: 'Pericles + Project SEED'. "Zero..." he says softly. "Before this year is out, you must kill me." he says with a dry, matter of fact voice. The direct tone cut through the air like a knife, the room filling with an immediate silence that left the two alone from the outside world. Zero looks from the file to Chesluk, eye wide and lips agape. "...what?" he asked, confused.

Chesluk closed his eyes. "I'm going to give the Military the means to make weapons which will 'rival the Gods'. Of course, this is a bold face lie, but my unique position will make them none the wiser. By giving them this still dangerous alternative, I can save what little years are left in George unhindered, and young Alex will live on to carry his great grandfather's legacy where his own father and grandfather before him, did not." he slowly opens his eyes. "The weapons I have designed within that file are ahead of our time. They will need to be destroyed as well after you've killed me, which I would estimate should be around Octobris. By then, the Pericles should be completed," he began, but Zero interrupted him.

"Why, Steven? Why must I kill you? I refuse to be your assassin!" he exclaimed, pounding onto the counter. The staff who had kept to themselves turned to them, but both men were able to wave them off, and keep the conversation private. Chesluk folded his arms across his chest, frowning. "What? Can a man not choose his own executioner? Besides, I'm not asking you. As your former Director, fellow Red 5ive Comrade and best friend, I hereby order you to carry out my will." he ordered, his tone serious, turning to Zero who grunted, wincing and turned away quickly.

Chesluk's features softened a little, before he placed a hand on his comrade's shoulder. "There is... more, my friend. I am in development of a devastating weapon that is the Pericles equal, but in a portable form. The weapon was used by the Forerunners, that which could slay true demons. These weapons have long since been destroyed, their schematics lost to the sands of time. This weapon is a death penalty to all who will receive its blight..." To this description, Zero slowly turned to face Chesluk, the shock in his eye replaced with an even mix of sorrow and rage. "You bastard... why would you suggest putting that... thing? It killed my apprentice! That young man will never see the afterlife, nor be reborn in this world thanks to it!!" Zero grits his teeth, clenching his fists into tight balls that rattled with rage, watching Styx Valentine die once again by that Forerunner trap... another sacrifice made for Tenik Industrial the Military Council that truly owns them.  

Chesluk frowned. "I know how it pains you, and it will pain you further to know that I plan to give this item to the young man who will be unknowingly be the star of this drama. Irony, considering he is the son of your late apprentice."

To this, Zero shot up, grabbing Chesluk by the lapels of his dress shirt, spilling the whiskey bottle which glubbed out its contents before rolling onto the floor with a loud smash!

"No! You mean to make the boy another sacrifice?! I will not let you! Hades was our friend you dried up prune, must we condemn his family line from knowing peace? I guess him being suggested to the T.I.R.S. wasn't just a coincidence then? To fill his head with lies? He's become another dog of the military, another sacrifice to the pyre like his father and grandfather before him!" he exclaimed, shaking Chesluk. The staff returned, all shocked by the scene and cowered as the 6'6 bearded man held up the shorter Chesluk by his neck. Zero looked like a mad wolf, his one eye gleaming gold with rage, his teeth like fangs. Chesluk, on the other hand, was calm and wore a seemingly emotionless face. "...I see. You still hold me responsible for their deaths." he began, swatting away Zero's hands, lowering himself back onto the bar stool. He looked away, waving the staff off, and spoke lower when he knew they were alone again. "The sins of the father will be redeemed by his sons. He is my pawn, but it will be better than him being the military's-" Steve began, but Zero interrupted him again:

"-Is there any difference? Steven? A pawn is still a pawn. Their strategic value is to be sacrificed so the bigger players can move forward! You will be knowingly sending him as a lamb to the slaughter!" Zero growled.

Chesluk sharply turned to Zero, brows furrowed. "This is a different kind of game I'm playing Zero. This isn't the corrupt game played by the Military Council... Hence why I need you to look out for him. Ensure he lives to help you take down the Military once Abdel's forces have fallen. In my months of travelling I have become aware of certain future events which outshine the ones which will undoubtedly play here in this very year. Though I am focused on the present, for if we lose in this age we will not have to worry about the future ages... I am still plotting for the future which I will be denied to see for the sins I will create in this age are too damning to go without punishment." he began, almost cryptically again. "I am in the process of making allies. I have sent one of my students to the Far North, in order to strike a deal with the Izheveskians. I am also waiting for an introduction for another ally..." he says, folding his hands in his lap, turning to look down at his untouched glass of whiskey. The puddle of amber fluid from the spilled bottle was still overflowing the counter, Steven took the files for Pericles before it reached, and stored it away.

"These allies will help remove the threat the Military has over Tenik, who will be free to rule without manipulation in Galideno, and George's son will be able to carry on Rufus-Alexander's will in tact and as a protector of the Tenik Sigil. He will need new teachers, to teach him how to rule honorably and not give in to the corruption caused by our military." He smiled faintly. "The man I hope to soon meet would make the perfect teacher... I have need of you and Grimoire to act as their bodyguards in that age. Should Abdel's threat be gone, they will be the ones who can plan for the future and be able to defeat what looms ahead of our time..." he says with a contented tone.

Zero eased up a little, confused somewhat by what Chesluk was saying. "This man... the ally you speak of... who is it that you are referring to?" he asked, gulping dry air.

Chesluk closed his eyes. "A man who nearly killed me... twice. There have been T.I.R.S. reports of the man heading to a small kingdom in the Blackmoth Ocean region. From my own personal digging, I have uncovered a few other associates of like minded principals following his lead. I will not speak any further on them, their identities or what have you, if to only avoid further hindrances to their plans. In time, the boy, Grimoire will meet with him as well. Though, we both have the same goal, and if we work together... we will be able to purge the injustice and make Rufus-Alexander Tenik's dream a reality." he finished, sighing lightly as he grasped his glass.

Zero slowly took a seat, glass crunching under his boot. He had to wonder about this plot. Would Rufus-Alexander's dream truly be realized should this plot succeed? The joining of forces known and unknown alike was like it was when they had aided Rufus-Alexander in quelling the Gods all those years back... it was nostalgic, but like it had been then, there will be of no doubt bloodshed and sorrow ahead of them.

"If you should fail in killing me Zero, that task will have to fall to the boy." Steven suddenly says, startling Zero, who turned to face his companion. Chesluk was looking forward, glassy eyed and emotionless. "My death will ensure that the caustic technology I brewed for this drama will never see the light of day again. I expect you leave some form of instruction to the young man, should he have to. My legacy has to be erased to ensure the future may be written anew." he reiterated to Zero.

Both men sat in silence for several moments, before Chesluk took the glass finally and held it up. He smirked. "You know... its been too long since I've had a decent drink. Hades loved this whiskey... Gods above, I miss him dearly." he says, saddened somewhat in his tone. It was because of Hades' sacrifice that they were able to keep the thirteenth God... the one not known to much of the populace in Galiavan... Krad, asleep. In that dark place, Hades to this day kept that monster from resurfacing.

"I carry Master Hades' gun in remembrance of him. Such is the Gunslinger way, for the Master or the Father to hand his burdens, and his gifts to the apprentice, and son after him. This way the fight continues, and their essence travels with them as they continue their journey for them." said the Gunslinger, and the association's teachings. "I wish that I could believe he is watching over us, but with his soul binding Krad in place it is not likely. Save for the little spirit he left in this Cerberus <pats gun in thigh holster>. And that which had transcended to my former apprentice, his son... and my runaway apprentice, his grandchild." Zero completes with a sigh of his own.

Chesluk raises his glass before him, making Zero turn to the smiling old codger like himself. "Hail to the Valentines."

Zero smirked, raising what little remained in his double shot glass to clink Chesluk's. "To the future."

Both men take in the alcohol deeply, before setting their glasses down. Chesluk chuckled, and asked for another round. After an hour of merrymaking, the two went their separate ways without another word. Chesluk heading back into the market district, while Master Zero Kurakawa left eastward; to head to Galideno.


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Steven Chesluk
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