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Mace

Sorry folks [Open Frequency]

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The sound of an incoming transmission was overpowered immediately by heavy, pained breathing, gasping for air with the unmistakable sound of groaning picking up in the distance. With a couple of gulps of some liquid and a shuddering sigh a man began to speak in a soft, southern-accented tenor, his words shaky and uneven.

"Howdy...Howdy folks." He took in a gulp of air for a moment before continuing. "I know that most of you don't know me, and that's fine. Seems that I got more than I bargained for tonight, trying to find a place to rest when a large pack of wolves came up on me. I think I managed to take the leader out, probably the only reason I'm still here but...Well, to be delicate about it I'm pretty torn up."

His heavy breathing continued as the sound of labored movements began, shifting different items around with pained groans at every hint of effort.

"I uh, I know I promised some folks I'd try to help them. To the Black Bears, I'm sorry but I don't think I can help you look for those drinks for a while. Joey, Fae,  I'm sorry. Dovin, I'm sorry I wasn't there." His words continued, but became unintelligible through his gasping and grunting as the sound of movement brought a wave of cursing from him.

"I have to get this stuff stitched up or I'm going to get an infection. Thankfully I have enough alcohol to throw in the tub in this house and start working on cleaning everything out. I've got food and water, so I'll be fine, I shouldn't have to leave for a few days, but I don't know what kind of shape I'll be in when all of this is over. I have to get stitched up and clean, and I'm going to see about crawling into bed and trying to rest."

"I'm sorry I couldn't be more help. I'll try--" His voice broke, quivering as he shifted and let out another pained groan wit the sound of leather and metal hitting the ground beside him. "I'll try to find you all again, so stay safe. I have to do this first though, and nobody wants to hear that."

"Just...Try to stay safe."

A loud sniffle and the sound of the metal tools moving could be heard as the final sound before the transmission ended.

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Faith hears the familiar voice. Mason? She collects her radio from her side of her bed, quickly landing on her feet out of the bed. She quickly responds as she makes her way to the other room.

”M-Mason? R-right? It’s Faith... I... Sinistok. You c-came with us. Where... W-Where are you? Let me g-get dressed p-properly and I-I’ll come t-to you. Listen, i-if you’re bleeding, h-hold down o-on the wound. I’ll m-make sure I’ve g-got everything, OK? D-Don’t you worry.”

Faith quickly puts the radio on the table before rushing to get dressed, pulling one shoe over her foot as she hops about doing so. Nearly falling over. She collects her radio once more, leaving her house before collecting the supplies from her small storage.

”I’m n-nearly ready. I’m c-coming to help...”

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The sound of the radio coming on was audible, the shaky breaths replaced with louder, barely contained cries through something in the speaker's mouth which he carefully spat out.

"I...I don't know. I'm sorry. I flushed the wounds, I had lots of water, made sure to...to use my chlorine tablets on them so there's as little chance of infection as possible." His lips smacked together as he tried to keep his composure, shuddering breaths held still only by keeping them from happening at all before he finally burst out with another pained groan. "God damn it. I have a small, curved needle. It's a mattress needle, I can get my left arm. I have two...Two stitches in. Quarter inch apart, bite depth greater than bite width, go in at ninety degrees." The babbling may have sounded odd, but to those who understood it, it seemed the speaker was trying to relay the proper way to suture a wound, or at least as accurate as he could remember.

"I've had to do it before, but...Not this bad. I've already washed everything with alcohol. I don't know...I'm sorry. I went to Sinistok, and I..I couldn't find anyone so I thought I'd go south. I followed that big, two-lane road until it was covered in cars that were trying to get out. I should have just walked off." A quiet, choked sob came from him as the sound of something metal clinking against the floor could be heard. "I went south. I just kept going, I was looking for a place to lie low, but it was nothing but hills and forests. I passed a lodge, and a small military base. It's where Darrion and I went before. I kept going south to a dam, and followed the water until it was blocked off. Southwest, southeast, I figured I should be near he coast. I'm just...South of some train station and industrial place on the railroad track. I'm sorry."

The blathering came to an end with another groan with the sound of movement. 

"I fucked up Faith. I'm sorry. I don't know where I am, I don't know how I'm going to stitch my right arm up. I've just...I've got everything I'm not trying to put back together wrapped up in rags I emptied my alcohol over. I don't know if it's going to be enough. I already used one of my morphine injectors and it hasn't done shit."

The transmission ended with another pained sob from the speaker, the sound of his hand hitting the ground audible before presumably letting go of the broadcast button.

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She frowns, trying to see what she could do. She wasn’t an expert but she wasn’t going to leave him for dead, that was for sure. She thinks quickly before responding. 

“Mason, d-describe What y-you see. Y-you have n-not fucked up, ok? M-Mistakes happen. T-this was inevitable. I kn-know you took a M-Morphine b-but DO NOT t-take anymore. If y-you’re bleeding heavily, try and use a b-belt. B-Block of the blood. I h-have s-stuff to r-replenish your s-system. L-Listen. I’m g-gonna s-start looking for y-you until you g-get your s-surroundings.”

She quickly begins to sprint to the town closest to her, before hesitantly stooping with a demanding tone.

”K-Keep talking to me Mason... After y-you tell me w-where you are. Ok? T-Tell me a-about you... Favourite c-colour. Anything, I n-need y-you awake j-just in case. K-Keep yourself w-warm... I’m c-coming...”

She pockets her radio before looking at the tourist map she has, eyes scanning over until she found her whereabouts and quickly nodding to herself. She takes off.

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There was silence in response to the woman's voice for a couple of minutes before the crackle of static and the sound of heavy breath, sniffling and choked breaths.

"I...I had a pelt I had ready for tanning. I've got it tying off my legs for now. I followed the railroad tracks. I don't know how far I got, let me...Let me try--" It took a few moments, but the sound of duct tape being drawn from the roll was audible.

"There. I have a map. I can...I can retrace my steps, I think. I'm so sorry."

With both hands free, clumsy shuffling could be heard in the background, along with the eventual sound of a zipper and the crinkling of paper.

"I was in Sinistok. Okay. You can do this," he said, the affirmation meant more for himself than anyone listening in. "Sinistok. I left toward Lopatino. I was going to take the main road back to Kabanino. It's so simple, I should have just stuck to the road." 

He paused again with the sound of tapping against the paper.

"When you leave Sinistok there's the area before the train station, where the big two-lane road cuts through, I took it south...southwest. I know the other way from the other day and there's nobody there. I thought if I went this way I could find a small house to just stay in for a few days. Okay, come on, focus. Yes, I followed it to the very edge, where the blockade ended, where the map ends here, the cars were too thick and I didn't want to go climbing over them so I went south. I had plenty of water and decided to just travel down to the coast."

He smacked his lips again, a pause coming with the sounds of a plastic bottle being crinkling along with a few greedy drinks.

"I just went south, along the big open area. I know I got turned around at one point and ended up going northwest into the hills trying to find a better view, but it was mostly purely south from there. I think...Yeah, I went east a bit because I think this mark is the little military area by Myshkino that Darrion and I went to. I found the lodge he h took me to first, and then came around trying to find a good way down and hit the camp. I thought I was closer to the shore than that--" He trailed off with a tearful chuckle, sniffling again before taking a moment to try to compose himself.

"I think south from there, there's a damn, I'm pretty sure I followed the railroad tracks, and by this time I needed some water. I figured I'd just fill up my pots and purify them with the tablets I keep with me. If you go south, the water...The water dries up, there's just a riverbed, and I went along that...Let me see."

The sound of his own pain seemed to grow faintly softer, a hint that, perhaps, he simply hadn't given the morphine enough time to kick in as he watched.

"If this...If the dash lines on this map are railraod tracks--I think they are. I think...I think I'm southwest of Zelenogorsk. I...I don't know if I can get up and look, but I can try.  I don't know though, I could be fifty miles away. I'll, I'll try to get up to the window and see if this matches up with the place I'm looking at."

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An excited groan came from the radio as a follow-up transmission came a few minutes after the last, the sound of chuckling audible as soon as it had picked up.

"I...I think I did it Faith. I'm not southwest, I'm southeast. There are these two little dirt roads outside, and fields, and...and a bit of woods to one side. I had to scour the map but I know what I'm at. I'll uh...I'll get your private frequency and tell you. I can't believe I figured it out."

The nearly jubilant tone was tempered with another sniffle, the sound of disbelief quickly settling in as the broadcast was finished.

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Fae had been listening intently to Mason's predicament, tapping her finger on the side of her radio in mildly panicked thought. She hoped the doctor would be able to help, she'd seen the woman's skill in person, but Fae was concerned. That left two vulnerable, highly important people out on their own. After a large sigh, Fae pressed the PTT button on her radio.

"Let me know exactly where you are, I'm coming to find you. You'll need someone to watch your back whilst you recover from this. You've done more than enough for me, and many others, Mason. It is the least I can do. Don't try to negotiate with me either, I'm coming whether you want me to or not" 

She sighs once again, sending a rush of static through the radio. Instantly, she began to move, already packing her things as she continued.

"Stay put, keep out of sight... I'll be there as fast as I can, alright?"

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The response to the latest message came a bit more sluggishly.

"Hey Fae. I'm sorry." A heaving sigh that only seemed to cause a twinge in his voice rushed out as he spoke. "You have my fre...frequency. Contact me there and I'll tell you. Honestly with all the talk of cannibals around I don't know if I want to go promoting where I am on the open waves. Apparently wolves think I'm pretty tasty, huh?"

A weak chuckle followed his voice, though it broke down into a grunt, his breathing quickening.

"just...Just call my frequency and I'll tell you, promise."

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A short crackle of static came with the transmission, the southern voice sounding a bit less weary and delirious than he had been previously.

"Thank you again for your help Faith, and to anyone who might have been following, I've been stitched up and moved to a smaller, fairly warm little house. I don't expect I'll be moving too much for the next few days. I'm not even sure what the name of the town is, but I've heard it's almost Christmas."

"Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, thank you to the people who showed so much kindness and put their own safety on the line to come and make sure I didn't go bleeding out in the middle of nowhere. It would have been pretty silly for me to try to give people help and tips on surviving just to go dying like that."

He let out a faint, slightly strained chuckle.

"Everyone else, enjoy the holidays if you can. Even if it's just finding a quiet place to sit and think. Most of you deserve it, because most of you I've met have been genuinely good people put into a shitty situation in life. I'm sorry that it had to happen to all of you, and I know none of you deserve it. I know most of you understand we're all still human deep down. You try to live your life as honestly as possible and not hurting anyone. I wish I could do something to help you all, but all I can do is tell you that you can make it. If a fat bastard like myself can, then you can."

"Merry Christmas, happy holidays, whatever you want to hear. Stay safe, and I'll keep an ear on the radio for as long as my batteries last."

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