A Meeting of Souls – Installment #1
This is the first installment of A Meeting of Souls – A Tale from the Wasteland.
If you enjoy this story and would like to own a copy of your very own, you can purchase it from Amazon/Kindle here and Barnes & Noble/Nook here. The e-book includes a full-color cover and a special, steamy, NSFW bonus chapter at the end of the story that won’t be included on the blog. Every romance needs a “happy ending,” right?
Before we get to the story, some background for my non-Wastelander readers. A few months ago, my dear friend and fellow Wastelander, Curtis, recounted a tale about working the gate as an Elite Guard during Wasteland Weekend and having a moment with one of the ladies in the back of the slaver truck (original Facebook post here). Well, I offered (okay, threatened) to write a story about it, and I’m pleased to announce that, with Curtis’ help, A Meeting of Souls is finished and ready for your reading pleasure. Lash LeSabre, one of Wasteland City’s Elite Guards, doesn’t care for the whole master-and-slave business, but when a shanghaied slave girl asks for his help to escape, he risks everything to rescue her. Will they make it back to the relative safety of Wasteland City before the desperate slavers can recapture their prize?
A MEETING OF SOULS
by LC Feeney and Curtis Gropp
Electronic edition published 2015 by LC Feeney (LINK)
Copyright © LC Feeney and Curtis Gropp. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction, in whole or in part in any form, without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Authors’ Note: All characters depicted in this work of fiction are 18 years of age or older.
Lash LeSabre scanned the crowd passing through the gates to the City. It had been a long day of guard duty in the brutal heat, and he was looking forward to being off-shift in a couple of hours so he could head back to the barracks, down a bowlful of whatever Chilli had scared up for supper, and nurse some of Paul’s Atomic Piss with his feet up by the fire, weather permitting.
Wasteland City was an outpost in the middle of nowhere, a ramshackle oasis of pseudo-sanity in a world gone mad. An approximately circular walled compound built from the detritus of the Old World, it offered some semblance of civilization for those who needed it. It was a place to gather, to trade, to communicate, to commiserate. The job of the Wasteland City Elite Guard was to maintain order within the City, and to monitor vehicle and foot traffic entering and exiting via its main portal. Like the walled medieval fortresses it resembled, the City featured one main entryway. One entrance was easier to defend.
He was neither the tallest of the guards (that would be Ryno) nor the most muscular (that would be Tank), but at six feet and 200-plus pounds, his skin baked golden brown by the relentless desert sun, Lash cut an impressive figure, particularly in his guard armor. His ceremonial mohawk, made of horsetail and secured with leather straps, added several inches to his already imposing height. Guards were allowed some leeway in terms of duty gear, but the mohawk was the one thing every guard had in common. It was their most recognizable uniform piece—and most coveted. Lash’s armor and weapons were easily replaced, to some degree. The mohawk was earned, and all but irreplaceable.
Today Lash was “on the Gate.” Above him, in the left tower on the flamethrower, Sergeant Sickle stood watch, her steely gaze unwavering. In the right tower, the deceivingly willowy Saber stood ready behind the ballista.
When the slaver truck stopped in the gateway on its way out of the City, Lash kept his expression neutral. He didn’t care for the whole slave business, but his orders were to let them pass unmolested. If people wanted to play slave and master, who was he to judge? The official word was that the slaves had all agreed to the role, and that everything that happened between slaves and masters was consensual and all part of the fun. If that’s how people wanted to spend their caps in the Wastes, more power to them.
The mesh cage on the back of the old military truck held a handful of men and women, all of them lookers. They were really working the slave act, too—some of them huddled in the corner crying, some pleading with passersby to be released, and a few wrenching at the cage door trying to escape. The truck idled directly in front of Lash as it waited for a break in the crowd. The driver was in no hurry since his cargo was attracting plenty of attention, which could only mean more business. Lash had just decided to urge the driver to move along when one of the women caught his attention.
She was beautiful, of course, with a slender neck, pixie-short brunette hair, and big, brown eyes, but that wasn’t what held his gaze. Unlike the other slaves, she was crouched at the corner of the cage nearest him, staring at him, willing him to notice her. When he looked at her, she locked eyes with him and silently mouthed the words, “Help me.”
Lash blinked, searching her face. Was this just part of the act, or was she serious? Her expression was a mix of determination and fear, and staring into her eyes, he suddenly felt something between them. Something more than just physical attraction. What he’d once heard Miłosz of the Mermen call a meeting of souls. In that moment he was compelled to help her, to do something, to act. “I want to help you,” he found himself mouthing back almost involuntarily, and was rewarded with a flash of relief in her eyes, replaced just as quickly with desperation as the truck inched forward, the driver having found his opening in traffic.
“Hold it!” Lash shouted, wrenching his gaze away from the woman. Without a second thought, he strode to the front of the truck, slamming his hand onto the window sill to get the driver’s attention. The driver jumped but recovered quickly, his expression settling into one of practiced nonchalance. His passenger, a balding, wiry man wearing an old military flak vest, angled slightly in his seat to face Lash, his hand dropping to rest on the sidearm holstered at his thigh.
“Where are you taking these—” the word caught in his throat—“slaves?” Lash demanded.
“To the slaver camp, same as always. Why, has one of ‘em caught yer fancy?” The driver gave Lash his best conspiratorial wink and leer, flashing half a mouthful of rotten, tobacco-stained teeth.
Lash wrenched the door open. “Get out and open the cage. One of them has changed her mind.”
“Oh, son, don’t tell me you fell fer that ol’ bit! These kiddies knew exactly what they were gettin’ into when they signed the contract to play, and a deal’s a deal.”
“Deal my ass. Get out of the truck and open the cage. Now.”
“Now look, son, I can’t just be lettin’ slaves go whenever the mood strikes ’em. A contract’s a contract, ya know? But I’ll tell you what, you show me which one’s causing the ruckus and we’ll make you a real good deal on her, eh? We’ll even set her aside fer you until you get off duty. Better hurry, though—we pull up stakes in the morning.”
Lash—so nicknamed for the pair of bullwhips hanging from his belt—stepped back, reached behind his head, and slid a well-worn pump shotgun from the scabbard on his back, leveling it directly at the driver’s chest. “Put your hands where I can see them and get out of the truck. Move!”
By this time a crowd had gathered, curious about the drama at the gates. The driver glanced at his passenger, sighed dramatically, and raised his hands, leaning back to swing his feet out of the truck.
Sickle called out from high atop the tower behind Lash: “Guard, stand down!”
“We’ve got a situation down here,” Lash called back, his eyes never leaving the two men in the truck.
“Stand down! You know the order!”
Although his mind screamed that it was a bad idea, Lash slowly lowered his weapon. As he did, the truck’s passenger came around the cab in one swift movement, a flintlock pistol in his fist. There was a click, a flash, a boom. Lash was already moving, but the ball bearing caught him in the left shoulder, knocking him to the ground. He rolled to his knees and struggled to get up as the truck trundled away, scattering onlookers in its wake. Through the thickening dust he could see the woman, her fingers stretched through the mesh of the cage toward him, and then she was gone.