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Tales of the M.A.D.lands-

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  • Tales of the M.A.D.lands-

    M.A.D.lands: A Primer-

    The M.A.D.lands setting, in which the stories presented here will take place, is a self-contained "street level" setting. Nestled up against the Rocky Mountains in Colorado are the tri-cities of Majestic, Arroyo Del Oro and Derbyville. These cities are rife with crime and opportunity and it is against the backdrop of these three interconnected cities that the tales are told.

    The majority of people in these cities are like people everywhere. They are wealthy, they are poor and they are struggling to lead a law-abiding life. These are not the story of the majority. The tri-cities, because of the rampant crime, unexplainable phenomena and downright strangeness that surrounds them have earned the nickname, the M.A.D.lands. There are no "super-heroes" in the M.A.D.lands, though costumed vigilantes abound. So too, do costumed criminals. The police in the M.A.D.lands are seriously overworked, riddled through with corruption and prone to "final solutions" when it comes to criminals. "Good" cops are a definite minority.

    Behind it all, the power players struggle against each other. Corporate and criminal interests, strive against the local and federal governments. The three mayors vie with each other for influence and the federal authorities, including the military have their own agendas. Nothing is bright and shiney in the M.A.D.lands. If there is a billionnaire, who uses his wealth to fight crime, somebody suffered so he could make his billions. It's the way of the world.

    The M.A.D.lands is a place of dark magic, twisted science, remorseless serial killers, evil mobsters, corrupt politicians opposed by brave, but often unhinged vigilantes.

    Creator's note: While I'll try to keep these stories moving at a reasonable pace, each chapter will have a cover and that can take time.

    It is important to note, that while descriptions of horrific crimes will not be explicit, the M.A.D.lands campaign stories feature themes of a darker nature and may not be to the taste of people who prefer more 4-color tales.

  • #2
    Re: Tales of the M.A.D.lands-

    Tales of the M.A.D.lands...Kelly's Heroes-

    Kelly Norman is on the run from one of the most powerful criminals in the M.A.D.lands...will she escape?


    • #3
      Re: Tales of the M.A.D.lands-

      Kelly's Heroes Pt.1: My Little Runaway-

      As Kelly Norman crept through the filth strewn alley, she barely suppressed a sob. Her life shouldn't be like this. Scarcely more than a month ago, her life wasn't like this. A little more than five weeks ago she was happily in love. She was planning her wedding to casino heir, Gabriel Noriega. Gabriel, the handsome son and right hand man to the notorious Angelo Noriega and his wife Rafaela. A little over a month ago she reveled in her advancing pregnancy, proud to be the mother of Gabriel's child. What a difference five weeks can make.

      Five weeks ago, Gabriel was gunned down as he left the casino. Five weeks ago, vicious killers took revenge for some offense, be it real or imagined. Five weeks ago, she lost her fiance' and her unborn child, its' father. Five weeks ago her life was destroyed. Little did she imagine, her torment was just beginning.

      In an unconscious reflex her hand rubbed her swolen belly. She was bruised, shaken and psychologically battered, but she wasn't broken. She escaped her prison and now all she had to do was escape the city. The city, actually the tri-cities of Majestic, Arroyo del Oro and Derbyville surrounded her, engulfed her like some hideous, cthonic monster. A monster she was currently in the heart of. That twisted, neon lit heart where all three cities bordered one another. The Confluence. Casinos, nightclubs, high end restaurants and sybaritic entertainments of all kinds filled the area. It was a playground of endless debauchery and non-stop hedonism watched over by its masters from the parapats of their soaring towers. Looking upward from the murky shadows her gaze raked across the towering casinos fearfully. She had escaped her prison, but it wouldn't be long until the Noriegas set their hounds to hunting her. Turning away from the alley's mouth, she plunged into the darkness, anxious to put as much distance between her and her former captors as possible.

      Angelo Noriega winced as the sound of a vase shattering against a wall carried into his office. Not even in this haven could he escape the fury of Rafaela's rage. Years ago Angelo had earned the nickname Lucifer, a reference to his temperment and proclivities. A fallen angel he was, ruthless, violent and handsome. He was known for speaking diplomatically and acting mercilessly. Still, for all his fearsome reputation, it was his wife Rafaela that people truly feared. Angelo didn't mind, because in all truth, he feared her too. He loved her. She'd given him three fine sons, but he feared her temper.

      Fixing a look of indignant fury on the man standing in front of his desk, he frowned. "That ungrateful little bitch has run off."

      "Yes sir," The broad shouldered man replied. "I guessed as much."

      "Spit on my hospitality. Turned her back on the comfort offered by my wife and ran off." Angelo growled.

      "Yes sir. I imagine you'll be wanting me to bring her back home, sir."

      Angelo ran his hands over his slicked back hair with its prominent widow's peak and pursed his lips. Everything about his demeanor spoke of barely restrained rage, but his voice was steady. "Safely. Bring her home safely. Until Gabriel's child is born and my wife cradles our grandbaby in her arms, Kelly Norman is to be kept safe."

      "And after the baby is born sir?"

      Angelo shrugged his shoulders non-committally. "We'll deal with afterward, afterward. It's probably a safe bet to scratch her off your christmas list though."

      "And what if a mask gets involved during her retrieval sir?" Taylor Trainor, Angelo's chief lieutenant asked.

      "That's what you're for, right?" The casino boss rumbled. Once upon a time, Trainor had been a mask himself, a costumed mercenary who went by the name Relentless. Those days were long past, but he still had a reputation.

      "It will be difficult for me to coordinate things if I'm involved in that capacity sir."

      "fine. Who's available as muscle now? And don't pitch me any psychopaths. No clowns or vampires or anyone with an unhealthy fixation about playing with their food...if you know what I mean."

      "White Lily is usually amenable to this sort of work."

      "Uh-uh." Angelo shook his head. "No chicks. Our girl is pregnant. Chicks get sentimental...even the crazy ones. I want someone who give a rats ass about dragging that Norman bitch back here, even if they have to hog-tie her to do it."

      "Well...Halberd is in town and he owes you for talking to that judge last time he got piched. We should be able to negotiate a significant discount for his services."

      "Excellent. That will be all Mr. Trainor." The darkly handsome mobster said, wincing as yet another crash echoed down the hall.

      Despite the chill in the air, Kelly was sweating profusely. Her advanced pregnancy slowed her progress immensely. She lumbered when she should be creeping. Her breath was labored. Her feet ached, even in her most comfortable Keds and worst of all, she had to pee like nobody's business. Even without light to see by, she knew her normally gorgeous cafe' au lait skin would be pale, sallow. The stress of her escape made her sick. Nauseous. Nauseous like she'd gorged on bad sushi, nauseous. She wasn't going to make it much farther. She needed a place to hide. She deeded refuge.

      As she forced herself forward, the stygian darkness of the alleyway was abruptly pierced by a faint glow. A glow that brightened with every step she took, revealing to her, the Eastside Bridge. The Eastside Bridge was the first and oldest of the bridges that connected Majestic with Derbyville. While both sides of the bridge were technically still within the Confluence, Kelly's spirit was bolstered. On the far side of the bridge, just beyond the raucousness of the Confluence was Jericho Park, and on a wide avenue on the western boundary of the park was the Cathedral of the Leper King. Sanctuary.

      The Cathedral of the Leper King was the largest Catholic church in the entirety of the M.A.D.lands. It was built in 1898 to commemorate the anniversary of the crusader conquest of Jerusalem. A massive structure, it had been considered in its day, an opulent display of wealth and vanity by the Holy See. Many people protested its construction and several times mobs had attempted to run off the workmen, but Derbyville, at the time known as Darbyville, had a large Irish-Catholic community and there were a great many of the faithful in Arroyo del Oro to the west as well. They met the hostile mobs with equal violence, until the governor was forced to use the territorial army to maintain the peace. Now, over a hundred years later the towering spires, soaring gothic architecture and massive stained glass windows seemed almost humble in comparison to the neon lit temples of greed mere blocks away.

      Kelly knew all of that, but what she was most aware of was Angelo and Rafaela were devout catholics and would not, she prayed, violate the sanctity of the church. Energized by hope, the pregnant young woman found herself practically running across the bridge and through the park. She still ached and fatigue had dug its claws in deeply but escape loomed before her and it gave her strength. Unfortunately, in her haste, Kelly failed to maintain any degree of stealth. her passage was observed by a pair of women strolling through the park, enjoying the crisp winter air.

      "Now what d'you suppose that's about?" The silvery haired woman, named Lilith, pondered aloud.

      "No idea." The raven tressed, Selene responded. "She's not dressed like a whore, so she probably isn't running from her pimp. She looks too nice to be a junkie. My guess? Some suburban skank who ran afoul of her boyfriend's fist."

      Lilith nodded as she watched the very pregnant girl blunder through the park. "You're probably right. Just another black girl who thought datin' a white boy would be different."

      "No men are different baby. Sick, violent animals, the whole lot of 'em."

      Lilith nodded again. "Preach it lover. Should we lend a hand?"

      Selene frowned, then shook her head. "No money in it baby. Besides, it looks like she's headed for the cassock squad. She'll be fine enough."

      "if you say so." Lilith replied, leaning in to kiss her companions' cheek.

      Little did she know, but Kelly had, by sheer luck, avoided two of the most dangerous freelancers in the tri-cities. Lilith and Selene DeVille were gleefully vicious assassins for hire. They plied their craft for profit, but their only true loyalty was to each other. A loyalty so deep, the sisters were not only partners in crime, but lovers as well. The laundry list of offenses credited to them was extensive and bloody, but they were also known to be impulsive and whimsical. It was those latter traits that led to a late night walk in the park. Lilith thought it would be romantic. That same careless whimsy saved Kelly Norman from their further attention.

      Stumbling up the steps to the cathedral, the fugitive woman pulled one of the massive doors open and slipped inside. The interior of the church was huge, with high vaulted ceilings and row after row of pews. Balconies ran the length of the hall of worship on both sides. Gigantic stained glass windows reflected the flickering candle light, causing peculiar displays of color in the gloom. Kelly swallowed hard. The cathedral, despite being her great hope, seemed hardly less intimidating than the streets outside.

      "Hello?" She called out cautiously. "Is anyone here?"

      It was only seconds, but it felt like an eternity until a middle aged man wearing a priests' cassock appeared. "Yes my child? How may I help you?"

      The dark haired woman practically collapsed in tears at the sound of the holy man's kind voice. Choking back sobs, she managed to croak; "Oh father, I am in trouble!"

      Father Julio Hernandez was no stranger to people in trouble. As a priest at the Cathedral of the King, most lay people left "Leper" out of the name when they referred to the church, he was all too familiar with the dangers on the streets of the tri-cities. Like every other large metropolitan area, Majestic, Arroyo del Oro and Derbyville had crime. Crime committed out of poverty and desperation. Organized crime. Terrorist crime. Crimes of passion. Corporate crime. Political crime. Even crime perpetrated by the very police whose duty it was to protect the citizenry. the tri-cities were no more or less safe than anywhere else in that regard, but there was a reason for the nickname, M.A.D.lands. They had in abundance what most places had but the slightest taste of, paranormal crime. Masked villains. The undead. Killer robots. Ancient curses. mad science. Black magic. Hideous monsters. The tri-cities was a locus for it all, and along with it came costumed vigilantes. Vigilantes every iota as lunatic and violent as the threats they opposed. No, Julio Hernandez was no stranger to the trouble this place could bring. The evil that lurked in every deep shadow.

      Gently, he put his hands on the trembling woman's shoulders and guided her back to the kitchen. While there was no homeless shelter at the cathedral, some years ago, during an ambitious period of renovations they'd built an addition with kitchens so they could feed the destitute. Local politics saw to it they rarely did, but on special occasions it got used.

      "come my child, let me make you some tea and you can unburden yourself."

      Kelly allowed herself to be led by the stocky holy man without resistance. She sat quietly as he moved about the kitchen preparing the tea. During the reprieve she composed herself as best she could. With shaking hands she brushed away her tears. By force of will she slowed her breathing. With a great effort she managed to still her trembling. She would be fine. She was in control.

      That illusion lasted until the priest set the mug of steaming hot tea in front of her, seated himself, and asked; "Now my child, what kind of trouble are you in?"

      With that question, her composure shattered. Tears poured down her cheeks and her shoulders shook with sobs. Kelly hadn't planned on telling him the truth. She had settled on a simple lie, but in the face of his compassion she broke down and told him everything. Who she was. Who her deceased fiance' was. All about his parents and how they kept her imprisoned, so they could steal her unborn baby. Father hernandez listened patiently through it all without panic or judgement as she told her story with halting, sob wracked breaths.

      After she was finally finished and hunched over crying, he patted her shoulder sympathetically. "That is indeed a woeful tale my child." He said in his best, fatherly priest, voice. "Take heart, i can offer you the sanctuary of the church. Now finish your tea. I have a quick duty to attend to, then we'll see about finding you a place to rest."

      Julio did not allow himself to show fear or anxiety in front of thefugitive girl, but he knew she was in grave danger. Angelo and Rafaela were devout in their faith and would not personally violate the sanctuary of the church if they found her. he was certain however, that many of their underlings did not share that reverence for the house of god. It was also very likely that a great enough number of the Derbyville police were on the take, that she would not be safe in police custody. Either the Noriegas or one of their enemies would get to her if he involved the law. Fortunately, Father Hernandez knew of a guardian who was both incorruptible and implacable. So, he climbed the tall, bell tower and in the highest window, he placed a lit candle.

      Kelly was becoming nervous. The priest was gone for far too long. She was making ready to flee again when suddenly, he reappeared. He was still serene and understanding, but seemed slightly winded.

      "Now young lady," He said with a reassuring smile. "let us find you a cot."

      Unbeknownst to Father hernandez or Kelly, they weren't the only people awake in the cathedral. As luck would have it, Cardianl Anthony Durbin just happened to be conducting an official visit to the church. Julio had thought him asleep in the rectory after a day of inspections and thus he'd ignored the old man's presence. The Cardinal was a light sleeper though, and Kelly's histrionics had awakened him. From the concealment of the shadows, he too heard her tale. He too knew Angelo and Rafaela Noriega. He also knew how much they tithed to the church and more importantly, how greatly they would reward whoever located the mother of their grandchild. After Kelly finished her story, he too had a duty to attend to. Creeping back to the rectory, he dialed his phone.

      "Hello, this is Cardinal Durbin...I have some information."

      To be continued in part 2...Take Me To Church.