Old Kansas Sector ~ 9: Retribution
rating: +41+x

☦The Walking Sticks hold a funeral.☦

The Last Era: 13, August, 2119 AD
Sylvan Grove, Kansas, USA

Allen was surrounded by the Walking Sticks, staring down the barrel of One’s revolver. He was at a loss for words. Gersha had a confused smile on her face, but was reassured. One told her this was just a formality.

“Hey buddy,” One said, his smile since faded, “I think you owe these fine people an apology.”

Allen fumed as the Walking Sticks shuffled around him, pointing and wailing. He didn’t know there were so many, the throbbing crowd still being joined by others from behind the cornstalks. Grammie wouldn’t help him here, not after what he did, and it seemed she didn’t have any complaint with the man pointing the gun at him.

“What’s going on, though, mister?” Gersha asked politely. “Why are you pointing the gun at Mr. Allen?”

One smiled and patted her on the shoulder. “Well your friend here massacred a good few dozen of these folks, for no apparent reason. Just went off and started beating their poor little heads in. I think in the old US of A they called that murder.” One spat on the ground. “Pardon me, miss.”

Gersha’s eyes narrowed at Allen.

“Come with me, ma’am.” Said Nine, “They’re going to need some space. You should count your blessings. We’ve just rescued you from a very dangerous man.”

Allen scanned the crowd. They were getting closer, only forded by One’s line of sight. If he had the opportunity… he could disappear into the Sticks.

One turned to Nine. “Make sure she doesn’t look.”

Nine turned to One. “What in the devil is that?”

Just as Allen began to pivot, a pair of Grammie’s enforcers rushed out of his ears and twisted around his arms and feet.

“What the fuck!” Allen shouted, and a pair of nasal hands gagged his mouth.

One raised his eyebrows. “Well, looks like it ain't human. So much for that, then.” He lowered his gun and crouched near Allen’s wiggling body. “What do you make of this, Nine? This look familiar to you?”

Nine galloped over, tail wagging. “Oh yes, this is the storied SCP-517. The Fortune Teller. Though this is strange. Her appendages usually emerge from dark places, and require vision of the object proper to activate.” Nine lowered his paw and touched a hand. “Also, I’m surprised we’re not dead.”

Allen could hear something in the distance, it sounded sort of like the PSF mail planes. One rose to his feet and turned, groaning. “Ah, so, what do you think, buddy? Do we kill it? You know Seven’s just gonna be all touchy-feely about this.” One shook his head, broke back into a crouch, and pressed the revolver up against Allen’s temple.

Nine shrugged. “There’s the chance we’ll also kill the entity living inside of him. Kind of a win-win, don’t you think?”

“Well god damn.”

Allen waited for the slap. No slap. Grammie didn’t slap him.

One pulled the trigger.

Seven landed a good distance from the crowd and hailed One, Nine, and the woman. “Hey guys, what’d I miss?”

One spat on the ground. “I killed a man.”

Nine rolled his eyes.

“You what? You! Why?” Seven pleaded, craning over to the crowd of Walking Sticks. “We don’t exactly have an excess of humans these days! Are you stupid?”

“Woah now, calm down. I had a few reasons… For one, I didn’t like him.” One turned away and lit a cigarette.

Nine interjected before Seven could speak. “Two: He was agitating the population. Three: He was host to a volatile Keter class object. The Fortune Teller, you may have heard of her. That problem may have been neutralized with the host’s destruction.”

Seven shook his head and looked to the woman. He extended his hand. “Hi miss, name’s Kondraki.”

One flicked his hand against Seven’s flightsuit. “For the last time, your name isn’t fucking Kondraki! You’re Seven. You came out Seventh. Kondraki is some dead cunt.”

Seven nodded, adjusting his glasses. “Right. If I came out seventh, why are there only eight of us, One? Why aren't there nine?”

One shrugged and looked Seven up and down and whispered, “Could be, that, Seven ate Nine.”

Nine put a paw on his temple.

Seven shook his head and looked back to Gersha. She didn’t seem like she was in the mood for introductions anyway.

That night a group of Walking Sticks surrounded a shallow hole mounted with a crude cross of cornstalks. Their voices echoed in the night, rising and falling. A large Walking Stick labored to fill the hole with dirt, and the tallest wailed over the grave for a good moment before the group departed.

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