Burning Sparrows 2 - "Commandments"

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I joined the Followers of Jerry and became an Inquisitor a year or so after my brother died. They were bastards, but they paid well, and once you entered partnership with them you couldn’t back out. If you did, then they'd send someone like me. An Inquisitor. A member of the Followers whose only job was to kill those who "threatened" the order, and to protect those inside of it.

I was doing a lousy job of protecting anyone, though. The Followers were raided by Backrooms Robotics three weeks ago, and they hadn’t recovered from it. Jerry went missing, the Follower Capital was destroyed, and Father Blue Bird was killed. It was a final blow for the group, but nobody would admit it, especially Father Hawk.

After the raid, we moved to Traders Keep, and bribed the chief of the peacekeepers into letting us stay and go about our business unnoticed. Until Jerry comes back, the Followers have only given me one prime objective:

Kill anyone who tried to escape the Followers of Jerry during the raid.

Some folks weren’t indoctrinated by Jerry by the time when we were attacked. Afterwards, they got smart, and went rogue. Father Hawk realized the only place they could’ve gone was to seek refuge in Traders Keep, and so I was told to find and hunt all of the known escapees.

So far, I had killed one of three that were missing. Before I went after the other two, I decided to stop by the Followers' new home and recuperate a bit.


The new Followers base was an old cathedral-esque building that had previously been built by some Christians lost in Level 1. It was falling apart at the seams, but Father Hawk loved the idea of setting up shop in a church as opposed to anywhere that was actually liveable.

We had made some improvements since we arrived, though. The armory was rebuilt on the side of the main building, and the old Followers of Jerry database archives had been saved and hauled over to here as well.

I walked into the armory that accompanied the Followers sanction and was greeted by Tom, the man who ran the place. He wasn’t indoctrinated into the group, but instead was serving some sort of life debt he owed to the Followers. I guess I could sympathize with him well enough, the Followers tended to trick people into thinking they owed them their life.

“Vance!” he echoed my name in the room, “How ya doin, pal?”

“Fine. Need a replacement, though.”

I dropped what was left of the cannon on his table. It was still warm from what happened in the market.

“Damn. You’ve been going through quite a lot of these recently, haven’t ya?” He grabbed the gun and began getting to work on scavenging for whatever parts might remain usable and assembling a new one.

“Yeah. Considering… what’s happened recently, I've had a lot of mistakes to deal with.”

“Oh, I’m sure.” His face adapted a grim expression. ‘I wasn’t there y’know… when it happened.”

“I was. It was a mess. Doubt we’ll ever recover from it.”

“If they ever recover from it, they’re gonna need that bird back to do it.” He called me out on my wording. I made a mental note not to associate with the Followers when I could, but sometimes I slipped up and reminded people of what I really was.

“I wasn’t in Jerry's quarters when it happened. I saw Blue-Bird, though. He went down swinging.”

“I’m sure. He was a good bastard. The only one of ‘em I ever respected.”

He slid a new, rebuilt glass cannon to me.

“Barely found any parts to use this time. Do you think it’s still the same gun if all the parts get replaced?”

“If it does the same thing, than It’s the same to me.”

I left the armory and headed to the bathroom of the sanctuary. It was an old, shitty room built around one working sink they found in this place way back when.

I looked into the mirror of the bathroom and stared into my own face. The wispy, black hair I'd grown was beginning to slick back and become rather oily, my browned skin had become several shades darker as it was covered in the grime and dust of Traders Keep, and the scar I'd gained was beginning to grow into a nasty symbol of the past.

Given the standards of Level 1, I didn't really stand out. In normal society? I’d look like a vagrant. I unwrapped the bandage that was wrapped around my right hand, one I wore to protect from the heat of firing a glass cannon, and replaced it with a new one.

I checked to see that I had not lost my vial of firesalt, and made sure my gun was holstered well. Everything was fine. In the life I lived, small moments of personal maintenance like this were vital to surviving. Had I been missing a vial of firesalt, or forgotten to replace my bandage, it could mean death in a later encounter.

I got up from the mirror and exited the bathroom, and back into the halls of the Followers. I was eager to await a pleasant conversation with Father Hawk, a man who was as disrespectful as he was hypocritical.

I walked through one of the side doors into the main building, where Father Hawk was giving his regular speeches to the few members who could still sit in the pews and listen to his garbage. As the door closed behind me, his religious ramblings were cut short as everyone in the room turned towards me.

“Vance Jackson! So kind of you to wander in unannounced during this most sacred time!”

“Father Hawk, I need to speak with you—”

He cut me off and shouted over my thoughts.

“Every member of the Followers must speak with me! There is a long list of people in need of my guidance! But you, dear child, are at the bottom of that list!”

He turned to the members and shouted at the top of his lungs.

“And do we know why, children?”

All of the Followers mumbled the same response that they had been taught to repeat ad nauseam.

“Those who have not been indoctrinated are lesser to the Followers.”

A wide grin spread across his face.

“Yes! So, Vance Jackson, what is so important that you had to ignore the will of Jerry?”

“I killed one of the heretics.”

His grin faded, and he adopted a hushed tone.

“And what of the other two?”

“Still alive. I need you to-”

He turned back to the crowd and yelled once more.

“CHILDREN! Our sermon is over for today! Please, take time off of your day to praise Jerry once more! Praise the Followers! Praise the order!”

As the people slowly filed out of the pews and left the sanction, he turned back to me once more.

“What the hell do you mean you only got one? What are you doing here— are you blind?”

“Last I checked, no. I’ve told you this a thousand times, I need access to the damned database to check where the heretics are. Hell, I ran into this one by accident!

“That database is sacred! Blue Bird might’ve let you use it, but I’ll be damned if I-”

As if on cue, a portly bald man walked into the front doors of the sanctuary and gestured to Father Hawk.

“Ah… Mister Hawk? We had an arrangement to discuss, but I didn’t think we’d be accepting guests?”

Father Hawk cursed under his breath and spoke to me in a whisper.

Make yourself scarce. You can go on that damned computer just this once, but don’t disturb me!

He turned towards the man and shook his hand with a smile, and I left to access the databases. I knew that the man was a member of the B.N.T.G. Almost everyone was aware that he was bribing them so that the Followers could stay in Traders Keep, but Father Hawk still acted like it was some well-kept sin he had to protect at all costs.

I flipped open one of the Followers of Jerry computers and accessed the Followers database, where they kept all of their information. There was a time before Father Hawk where I could've accessed this without question, but it seemed that he had little respect for Inquisitors, despite how much he relied on them.

The screen emitted bright blue as the Followers’s alert message was displayed to me. It was the last thing Father Blue Bird had written before the Capitol completely collapsed, a grave warning of the group's last days.

A seal has been broken, and apocalypse soon cometh with the disappearance of the feathered lord. Pray he forgive your sins before the day of reckoning arrives. The end is nigh and the buzzing sky gives way to a new era.

Go, find your sons and your daughters and have them spread the words of our Lord one final time. Remind them all who we once were.

-Father Blue Bird

He was wrong about one thing: The end wasn't coming, it was already here.

I sighed and accessed the “Membership” section, and searched for the men I was trying to find. If they were in the Followers for long enough, they’d have some sort of entry on themselves.

Firstly, I typed “JOHN LAWGORNE”. John had entered the Followers right before the raid, and had never reported back from it. He was my first target.

JOHN LAWGORNE:

STATUS: MISSING

LAST SEEN:

John Lawgorne was rumored to have entered Traders Keep, and several Peacekeepers have said he was seen speaking to members of The Lost. Must be investigated further.

That would be enough to go on, for now. The Lost usually hung out in the “slums”, an area of Traders Keep infested with mold and animals. Only those smart or stupid enough would ever venture into it, and The Lost were very smart.

Second, I typed “STEVEN HUGH”. I didn’t know much about Steven. Apparently, he was on his way to becoming a full-fledged priest, but hadn’t quite been indoctrinated by the time the raid came by.

STEVEN HUGH:

STATUS: DATA CLASSIFIED. ADMINISTRATOR PERMISSION ONLY.

LAST SEEN:

DATA CLASSIFIED. ADMINISTRATOR PERMISSION ONLY.

Damn it.

I printed a photo of John Lawgorne and then shut the computer off. At the very least, I had one man to go after. I’d find Steven later.

I exited the cathedral and grabbed a hold of one of the Bulls speeding through the halls. It was time for me to pay a visit to The Slums.


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