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Old 03/31/2010   #1
Bex
Default Destrillians: Appendicies

Thetis Alcesteos
Rain
After we escaped Viola, I saw rain for the first time. It was two weeks after the break-out. Fiona and I were crouching in a doorway when the first drops began to fall. As the rain hit the sidewalk, first lightly, then in a torrential downpour, I remember feeling both awestruck and frightened. There was so much water that I thought the clouds were going to fall down and crush me and Fiona and everyone around us. It scared me how the sky had been big and dark after our escape, always grey and unchanging. But for me, the rain changed everything. I was squinting as it hurtled down in sheets, trying to tell myself I could see things in the raindrops, trying to convince myself we had done the right thing. I would say that I was sure I could see the others – happy – that I could see Eve and Ariel, both alive and smiling. I would search for my mother in the downpour, trying to piece together her face from what I had imagined she would look like.

The first time I saw the rain, I was crying.

I still remember seeing all the people milling by, throwing sideways glances at the two sodden teenagers with oddly coloured hair and eyes. That was another thing that struck me after we escaped. There were so many people; sometimes so many that they spilled into the sidewalk – like a river that had burst its banks. I didn’t know there were this many people in the outside world, the most I’d ever seen was when all twelve of us were in the recreation room. It was a little bit overwhelming; everybody pushing past you in the street, no-one stopping to check if you had been hurt or injured; in the way the doctors liked to do. And then there was the traffic and all the vehicles that came with it – the cars, the tucks, the trains, the trams. We must have been nearly run over at least ten times that week, never without Fiona swearing loudly at the car, only to wander into the path of another one moments later. The sound of them was horrible. The first time I heard an engine, I thought there was an earthquake – like Terra used to do; only five times the size. I think I screamed the first time I heard the screech of a horn. All these things made us feel even more lost in this huge world we had fallen into. It was miles away from the claustrophobic corridors of basement five, and that’s what scared me. I had been the weak one back at Viola, the one who made herself smaller to hide from the bigger things. And if I was weak there, what chance did I have in this strange new world?
Until this point, I had been so enthralled by the rain that I had forgotten Fiona was there. She must not have seen me, and I buried my face in my knees as soon as I heard her swear under her breath. Both of us still had on our clothes from the recreation room, and we were shivering and dripping with water. I heard Fiona stand up, her boots squelching as she paced in circles on the sidewalk.

Neither of us knew where we were, where we were going or even what we were going to do. There were a few more minutes of pacing before Fiona yanked me to my feet. For the next few seconds, I felt increasingly aware and embarrassed that the two of us, of all people, should be escaping together. My eyes were still swollen and red, and I couldn’t stand to look Fiona in the eye. We couldn’t be more different, but I guess neither of us wanted to be alone – though I don’t think Fiona would admit it. It didn’t matter that we were on the run, that we were Destrillians – all I wanted to do was stare at the rain and forget everything that had happened. It took me a few minutes to pluck up the courage to look at Fiona. No sooner had I caught her eye did I look to the ground. The rain had only served to make Fiona more furious than before. Her eyes burned with anger, and her hair limply stuck to her forehead. I remember it wasn’t as bright as usual, and I remember that it was the first time that I noticed she was only about an inch or two taller than me. I had always thought Fiona as this hugely intimidating figure, always looming over me. But in the rain she seemed a little softer, if only by appearance. She wasn’t Ariel, but Fiona and I were still linked by the same wish to be free.

Freedom- that’s what all of us wanted. I suppose it was stupid of me to think everything would fall into place - that we would live happy, picture perfect lives like the ones we dreamed of. But now we were more lost than ever. I think it was because we both knew that our freedom marked a new chapter for us- for me- something I wanted more than anything in the world. Fiona and I both knew what it held in store for us – something harder and darker than we had ever experienced at Viola. I just think don’t think Fiona ever wanted to turn the page.

It’s when I’m alone that I really start to think. Did we do the right thing? Then I ask myself if it’s just me being like this, and I feel even more out of place than before. Ever since Lucy Adams was created, I’ve felt like I’m drowning; like all those I killed at Viola. I struggle and struggle to keep Thetis Alcesteos alive, only to feel like I’m killing her every time I step out of the door. I want to be her again, I want to be prototype #006; but I can’t. This is the darker reality of our freedom – to hide who we are. We might have escaped our Violan prison, but we’re still trapped in these stifling human identities. I’m trying to come to terms with that. Fiona isn’t. Okay, she got us the TV, she pays some of the rent with money from her escapades, and she deals with Ms. Petrowski when I’m in one of my slumps. That’s it. It’s as if my job, my efforts have all been to support her, and the life she wanted; like I’m the person to the side of the stage, giving silent encouragement as the show rattles on without me. When I hear the door slam, or see her storming out, it makes me see a shadow of who we used to be; who I could have been. Honestly? I think I’m jealous of it. It frustrates me that she can do what she wants without thinking of the consequences. But sometimes it makes me sad, and even angry. I thought the point of escaping together was to help each other build our lives in this brave new world. Just sometimes, I wish she would be here when I came back from work; just to see another Destrillian. I need that at times, the comfort of knowing that you’re not totally alone. It’s these small things that really get to me, that make me question whether I can prove Dr. Perkins wrong, prove that I’m more than a ‘fragile’ little girl.

It’s Fiona’s attitude as well – not that I could have expected it to change. Sometimes, when she speaks to me, I see that same look of disgust she used to wear when she saw me in the recreation room, and then it’s gone. I think she sees me as a human now, and that hurts me more than any biting words or bad memories. I tried to learn from her, tried to become stronger and hold my own against the weight of responsibility. I’m reaching to be this fearless, brave girl, only to fall when I grasp it in my finger tips. Fiona caught me crying once, after she called me ‘Lucy’ in an argument. She didn’t say anything, and I think that was the worst part. If she had shouted, or hit me, I would have known how to react. But the silence was horrible. It felt like I was being crushed by my own short-comings, my inadequacies. No matter how strong the facade, the girl from four years ago still lives on. I can be cold and callous as I like, but the girl inside still feels everything. And that makes everything worse. I think Fiona knows that, maybe that’s why she’s never around. That’s why, when I hear the rain, I remember that time when everything was new and overwhelming. It said on TV that rain washes everything away.

I only wish it would do that for me.
__________________

Last edited by Bex; 05/12/2010 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 04/14/2010   #2
Hisako
Default

Arctos D. Wolfe

Better Times, And Then Some

He looks at me, eyes wide open, grinning like it’s his lucky day. The fucker doesn’t have a clue. Hell’s raining around us like the devil’s on Lysyrgic – but wait a minute, that’s why we’re here. Hah.

“This is just a taste of our product.” Rick emphasizes the word “taste” with an emphasis on the last ‘te’ and waves his hand around at the general hell’s bells orgasming around us. He thinks that by using complicated hand gestures and talking in a fake accent he sounds sophisticated, but really it just sounds like I want to break his nose in both directions.

I play it cool, though, because there’s plenty of that for later. There’s no point messing up three years worth of undercover busts to take out my annoyance on someone I’ll be taking it out on later anyway.

“So, whaddaya think? I think you ain’t gonna go back after you’ve seen all this.”

I sip on the brandy he’s brought downstairs for tonight. It’s not poisoned, which I suppose means he still hasn’t gotten suspicious yet. It sure as hell doesn’t taste cheap. This is, after all, supposed to be his crowning achievement, the cream and the icing and the candles and the lighter on the cake. Rich for life, all the hookers and bent cops he wants to keep him and all his future hooker-born kids away from jail until the last one of the McCauleys dies.

Dunno about him, but this’ll be my crowning achievement, that’s for sure.
“I think you’ve outdone yourself this time, my friend. This stuff’ll get everyone hooked. Your best so far.”

When I say this, he looks pleased with himself, the way a toad looks pleased with itself when it’s had a particularly juicy grub.
Or the way Dog’s pleased with himself when he’s pissed on the neighbour’s letterbox two houses down and screwed her prize hound.

Rick’s pupils are ridiculously dilated. He’s probably hooked on it himself. The surgery to put the tracheal filter in my throat was worth it, but the things I’m still getting from this crap in the air is enough to make me cough. If it’s like this at a fraction of its strength, this shit is probably enough to kill people several times over. Which begs the question how the guy on the opposite side of my briefcase is still alive. I ask him about that.

“Nah, when it gets into the air like this, it’s not as strong as ya think. The longer you’re in it, though, the better it gets. The lab-coats that gave me this stuff had a lot ta say about it and I didn’t really get half of the shit they were goin’ on about, but basically, ya got different strengths and ya combine it with different stuff to target whatever you like. You wanna get high, you use this much along with this other thing, you wanna get a caffeine slap in the face, you use this much with this other thing, you wanna jizz in yer pants, you take this much and do it a few times at once, blah blah blah.”

“Lab-coats? You hired some guys?”

“Nah, couple’a scientist blokes were just getting into the market, and they needed to get some product off their hands. Told me that it was high class stuff and everything. They cut a deal with me, said they’d let me have the product if I showed them the ropes to the market. They’d give me the recipe if I gave ‘em some contacts to cut some more deals with.” His grin widens, as if it could get any wider – he proves me wrong.

“So you got both the product and the recipe?”

“Haha, now that would be tellin’. I will say this, though -” I’ve just about had it with his motherfucking stupid hand gestures in his motherfucking speech patterns – “Best business I’ve done with anyone ever.”

One of the people writhing on the floor lets out a whimper, which startles me because it means that the drugs are starting to really take their effect on my head. I wonder how much more evidence the rest of the police need to kick down the doors. Madison and the rest of her crew are probably already at the doors, ready to bust some heads. Knowing her, this is probably her best 30th birthday party yet. The sort of woman who’d say “fuck that” to a mid-life crisis with a shield in one hand and a baton in the other.

Rick gestures for an assistant to bring out the goods, the drugs I’m supposed to be buying. Apparently this is police money we’re using, which I guess isn’t so great because there’s some fucker up in the Artolian government making us get less and less every year. On the upside, any of the cash we use up in this raid goes back to us anyway – Sharkey’s gang will be as good as dead after this and when it comes to all of the raids this week, it’s finders keepers for us cops, including drug money, laundered firearms and equipment. I must have let it show because he seems to notice the eagerness in my eyes and reciprocates by wasting no time at all in opening the case.

“I know, man, this is big stuff. Everyone’s a fuckin’ winner here, ya know.”
The insides of the carry case have that glittery foam, the stuff that sparkles in the light and has that new car smell. In there is a ten-by-twenty set of glass vials with a couple of pistol-grip syringes and a manual hundreds of pages thick, with the company logo and name all scrubbed off, of course.

The vials contain an opaque liquid that seems to change colors and shimmer like fog, which brings me to two conclusions – the vials are strongly pressurized and the drug is used as an aerosol. Rick tells me that it can also be directly injected into the blood, but he hasn’t figured out how yet.

I take out one vial. It’s pencil thin and thick-walled, but judging from its potency it’s probably enough to last a few doses. I hold it up to the light and check the glasswork. It seems to confirm Rick’s story enough – all this is the work of professionals and is definitely not some backyard job of a junkie. At least, this batch is – if they have the recipe who knows how many fuck-ups they could cause with it.

I flick through the manual as I push my briefcase of money towards him, and the manual confirms pretty much everything I’d already considered, and then some. Seems like this was experimental crap, aiming to make the lives of shrinks easier by hooking patients up to machines and feeding them drugs that turned their subconscious inside out and revealed it for the machine to see. Highly versatile, but like everything to do with psychologists it only worked so well. Also no-one found a market for it until they found out how versatile it could get.

This would blow Lysyrgic right out of the water and push a few lords off the black market.

“Yeah, they gave me a couple’a fancy electronic shrink chairs, but they said they were just to ‘enhance the experience further’ or someshit. I mean how much more enhancing do ya need, huh? Haha!”

“So why haven’t you taken over the Orange Zone yet?”

He leans closer to snatch the briefcase of cash I’ve laid out for him, and blows a single continuous stream of cigar smoke as he talks. “See, here’s the thing. This stuff, yeah, we can get all the ingredients easy. It doesn’t cost too much to make the magic work. But hell, man, it can take days, weeks even to come up with a couple’a doses. This shit’s a premium product no matter how popular it is. I’m talkin’ about all the other lords in this Zone bankrupting themselves for a couple of tubes. Just not enough to go around, ya see? And the tech to do it faster, it sits in the company my lab-coats came from. That ain’t gonna come out soon, they got way more applications for that stuff and they aren’t letting those go.”

I nod as I finish the rest of my whiskey. The drugs that come out in the Orange Zone are all low-cost, high-yield products that come from low-quality crops, but the flip side is that they’re high-yield. You could sell to as many clients as you wanted, when you wanted, however much you wanted. A drug like the one in front of me would have everyone wanting more where there wasn’t any more. People would go batshit insane. Balances unbalanced.
Letterboxes pissed on and prize hounds screwed.

“But for now, I have enough. I reckon I’ll sell it slow, give out a few doses for some of the clubs out there, just business-exclusive, yeah? You’re a special mate though, Arkansas -” That’s my fake name – “so I got some specially for you.
“Too kind. All the best.” I try and outgrin him, and fail, shaking his hand from across the table as we get up to leave. My head’s actually twisted itself into a clusterfuck by now, and I’m having difficulties walking. As one of Rick’s bodyguards gets to the door, I figure it’s time to set off the codewords before they notice five squads out in the hallway and above the windows.
“By the way, Rick…”
“Yeah?”
“Arkansas is done here.”
No sooner than I’ve said it, the bodyguard gets a faceful of door as it gets kicked down into him. I drop to the floor, hands on my heads, and Rick has enough brains to dive under a table while the rest of his bodyguards draw their guns. It doesn’t matter, though, because in three seconds they’re all on the ground spasming from taser leads or keeled over from rubber shot.

***

I’m sitting in one of those interrogation rooms now, they’re going through the motions. I appreciate the gesture, but by now I just want to go home. My real home, that is, not some cheap motel apartment I used during my undercover stint.

A brown-haired beauty with skin like black ash walks in, all heels and unbuttoned shirt with class and style. If it was ten years ago and I was still young and stupid and wasn’t married yet – and she wasn’t my boss, I sure as hell wouldn’t have minded having a fling with her on an office table somewhere. As it stands, she just likes teasing me and I return the favour.

“So, looks like NALEIN’s favourite crim is back in custody.” She pouts and leans forward just enough for me to take a peek down her shirt, sliding a manila folder of photos and files I’ve seen several times before, crossing her legs with a mock intensity in her eyes. I fidget and swallow down the non-existent lump in my throat before coughing.

“And it’s good to see you back at the top of the ladder, babydoll.”
She laughs, a good stout belly-laugh, and we get up and hug like we’ve been best pals for years, which I suppose is okay because it’s true. I haven’t been with cops proper since I started the investigation aside from getting ‘arrested’, and I’ve had very little time to spend with family proper either.

“Man, you look like shit, Arctos.”

“All the better to smear you with, Winona.” She grins at my retort, and while we sit down she gets out from nowhere two glasses of ice and a bottle of Oaklaw’s Damascus Cream – my admiration for her going up a few notches already. We both lick our lips as she pours it into the glasses and we clink them together like we’d always imagine we would at the end of the investigation. It tastes so cold and ice-creamy and as the whisky settles in I sigh and note that she’s made my day again.

“God I miss quality like this. You know, in a couple of years with the payroll I’ll be getting, I won’t be able to afford jack shit. You heard about what they’re doing to us, right?”

“Well, might as well get married asap while you can still afford it, right? How’s he doing?”

“Oh, he’s great. Teaching at the University isn’t quite the life he expected, but as far as pay and work goes, he likes it. We’ve planned to hold the wedding at the end of the year.”

“Good for you then.” I manage a frown despite the second sip of Oaklaw’s. “I don’t like the way the funding’s going though. I mean, we’re almost done on this operation, but we haven’t cleaned up Osea even halfway yet.”

“No-one likes it, Arctos.” Winona fidgets with her lapels with one hand, and then puts the glass down as she does up another button of her shirt, noting how cold it’s getting. “Even as Director, I’m not getting very much feedback at all. We used to have this thing going on with the government but they cut that off ages ago and now if the forecast is right, we’ll be dead in the water in a few years.”

Bad news. Not to say we didn’t see it coming.

“But anyway, for now, you’ve got a break ahead for you, Arctos. Your wife’s been worried, of course. And it’s about time you went home to see Lana too.”

God. The mention of them threatens to put tears in my eyes, but even though Winona wouldn’t really mind, I fight them back and manage to let off nothing more than a sniffle. It really has been too long. And when she says ‘wife’, she’s not referring to the hooker I’ve been with for the past months to a year in that motel. She was a nice woman- hell, I even slept with her once - but it was once and now it’s just another of my little regrets. And then she turned out to be a cop as well under a different team, and then, well, it got a little less awkward.

Lynn took it so well, it was ridiculous how she took it – I hate clichés but I feel literally like the luckiest man alive whenever she lets me off the hook like that.
The hooker is like a goddamn family friend now, that’s how forgiving Lynn is. Well, at least that’s what she told me – the whole tea-and-biscuits treatment.

And Lana, well, it’s true, they grow up so fast. Only a couple years and she sprouts like a goddamn tree. In a few years she’ll be rebelling against the state and skipping classes and getting told off by me and having dumb teenage arguments.

My thoughts drift back as a little bit of quiet overtakes our conversation and Winona pours another round for us.
“You can get to writing that report when you come back from your leave. We got a bit more work to do, and we’re not entirely useless yet. The stuff we’ve gotten these past few weeks might potentially open an entirely new shitstorm.”

Another newer and well-creased folder slides towards me with a post-it marking the front, simply labeled “Blackstone”. I let off a raised eyebrow and flick through the first few pages at the top of the pile inside. “What sort of shitstorm?”

“Well, the sort of shitstorm that’s more well-funded, market-oriented, and, we think, on the surface, legit.” Reading through it, I begin to understand how big a shitstorm it could be. There are a multitude of names here – Whitestone, Aesyr, Viola, Broadcare, Shenlong, the list goes on and on. And the thing that registers in my head –

“These are all research corporations.”

“Yeah, and more importantly, they all have some sort of hand in the pharmaceuticals industry. We’ve been trying to get info on where Rick McCauley got the so-called ‘psychologist tech’ but we haven’t found it yet, aside from the drug samples we have now. Read through all that when you have time, maybe just before you come back. Whoever’s peddling industry-grade shit to the black market right now is going to cause a lot of trouble. Trouble we don’t need.”

I nod, and we finish the rest of the Oaklaw’s in relative peace. I make a note to myself to make a start on the first three. I’ll get Madison to do a little probing. As Winona gives me a peck on the lips when we leave the interrogation room, there’s already euphoria in my head that’s making me giddy despite Whitestone, Aesyr and Viola information going through my mind.

I’m going home.
__________________
死の果までも追い掛けます、 探し出し
奪われた物全て取り返して見せる

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Don't believe your eyes? Don't be surprised.




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Old 04/27/2010   #3
Sheva Alomar
Default

Fiona Myrwind
The Odd Couple

Our pairing couldn’t have been more fucked up. Thetis and I, just the two of us, stuck with one another after the less-than-shitty escape from Viola. When we got the hell out of that dungeon with the rest of the Destrillians, a last-resort squad of combat drones (that came out of nowhere!) drove us to split up one more time.

Yeah, fucking fantastic. The two most unlikely to get along on the inside, let alone in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD, were chained at the goddamn ankles. Why chained? There was no one else like us out there, that’s why. I certainly wasn’t going to just expose myself to find the other dipshits that ran off in every other direction nor just go off on my own in a place I had no fucking clue about. That would have been worse than putting up with the crybaby.

It was hell. For weeks Thetis and I ran around trying to figure this outside world out. Creepy old men would stare and make the most retarded sounds at us while cars would try and get in our way all as we made our way to wherever the fuck we were going. Of course, I threatened every bastard and machine that tried to really get in our way. As much as I wanted to make sure no stray Viola ass-slaves would try and come after us so soon, I also made it clear that no one wanted to fuck with me. This, obviously, meant that I was mostly dragging the crybaby everywhere. She would bitch and moan constantly about how she was afraid and tired and this and that. SHIT, if I wanted a whiny little cunt to follow me everywhere, I wouldn’t have kicked all those fucking yippy dogs out of my way. They could have joined in right with her!

After three months or so of hiding, stealing and scrounging we had learned that we wandered into the capital of Artolia, Osea. Not that I could find that on a map, but fuck it, it was progress. Shittier still, we were in the safest part of town: the Orange Zone. Soon after that, I had come into some money from a very generous douchebag that was just throwing his money at me. It may have been because I let me temper get the best of me, but I think the guy was just being nice. But, with that cash, I managed to get a shitty little refuge in the area. Some decrepit bitch was running the place, but her temper would never match mine, ever. It was that mess of a face that made me wonder if some leftover experiment from Viola was going to pop out of her chest. Of course, the cunt didn’t like us one bit, that was expected. If she wasn’t so desperate to get some new tenants into that hellhole at the time, she would have probably kicked us out the moment she saw us. That wouldn’t have happened even if it was case. I refused to be a fucking squatter longer than I already was and I grew so DAMN TIRED of the constant whining Thetis spat out. Plus, no one says no to me. Especially a stupid human.

Have I mentioned the crybaby and her whining? Can’t fucking stand that bullshit. When we had finally gotten a roof over our heads, she REALLY started to piss me off. I learned to not be overly enraged everytime she began to complain about not knowing what we were doing on the streets or quietly contemplating what our next move would be once we got a place other than a sheltered corner or an alley way. I could cope with all of that now by just having one long and intense session of fighting and ability practice in one of the abandoned buildings nearby—away from anything that would scream if it were to catch fire. Now, Thetis began to bitch about getting one of those things the silly humans have: a job. What the fuck? We are two products of superiority and she wants to “try and act like them” with a job? Not only that, but the dumbass wanted to make up an alias. Are you fucking joking? It was bad enough she put some made up name on the piece of paper we had to scribble on when we got the apartment. I almost wanted to beat the shit out of her, but I controlled myself…for once. It was infuriating dealing with her from then on, especially when she told me that some fruity fuckface nearby actually hired her for regular hours. As a matter of fact, I felt ashamed. Is this what was going on with the other Destrillians? What would Ariel have done if she were out here with us? She was dead now, so it didn’t matter…Back to Thetis.

More fighting, tension and time went by and I slowly found myself out in the Orange Zone more than at our place. “Lucy” would live out most of her days at that homo’s pizza place and bring back scraps to last us a while. I tended to get back from wherever the hell I was at some hour of the night that I found her sleeping in the single mattress I begrudgingly shared with her. More times than not I would end up sleeping on the piece of shit couch we scooped up from a street corner one time. If that wasn’t the case, I would find myself watching all sorts of silly shows on the television (that some other douchebag so nicely gave me) to learn more about these pesky humans and their habits.

Even more time passed and we sort of fell into a groove. Thetis and I would both be gone all day, but I might or might not have caught her still awake when I got back from my “day trips”. If she was awake, we tended to get into a shouting match which was usually all mental. At first they were vocal, but the creepy bitch snapped and threatened that she’d call the authorities on us. I wouldn’t have given a flying fuck, but if they got their grubby hands on us, we might have been forced back into some hole like at Viola. Hell no.

That’s how it went between the crybaby and I until one night when I came in to find her asleep in the bedroom. It was like something had changed without my knowing it. Instead of me throwing a quick glance into the open door of the room, I walked up to the door and leaned against the frame. I studied Thetis laying there. She was laying there with a pained look across her face as she held tight to the one blanket that covered her body. Four years of living like this, in a shit hole and a lie. I didn’t know what to do. Ugh—why the fuck should I? It’s all her goddamn fault that she’s “Lucy Adams” and can’t just be Thetis, the real her. I turned right on my heel back into the living room to my usual sleeping spot. I sat there staring at the wall, a mix of frustration, anger and something else. I couldn’t tell you what was running through my mind just then, but I decided that I wouldn’t sleep on the couch that night.
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Old 05/12/2010   #4
Bex
Default Destrillians: OVAs

Thetis Alcesteos
A Perfect Fit
I hate bad dreams, and after waking up with a start that morning, I hated them more than ever. It was always the same old same old, thoughts of Ariel, Eve’s death, Dr. Perkins’ tests, our escape; it never changed. However, there was something very different. I looked at the clock. It still wasn’t working. The walls were still the same colour, covered in the same peeling striped paper. I only noticed one little thing that was off. It was really warm. I mean, REALLY warm. Despite the door being open, despite me wearing just a vest and some underwear, the room was stiflingly hot. I nearly leapt out of my skin when I heard something shuffle beside me.

When I saw Fiona lying next to me, I still can’t tell you exactly what was going through my head. I kept as still as possible, watching her chest rise and fall gently as she slept. I even felt a little bit nervous, and I should probably explain why before we go into this whole thing. Fiona NEVER slept in the same room as me. In fact, she would do her best to avoid even showing her face while I was around. And then when we did see each other, we got into arguments. They would be about anything and everything; the rent, money, leaving the TV on, and even buying milk. The thing was, Fiona ALWAYS had the last word, that is, if I hadn't run out of the room in tears before she could. It always made me feel horrible when she did that, like I’d let her down or something. It was as if she wouldn’t let me stand up for myself. But even though it upset me, I was kind of used to it by then. That’s why I was so confused to find her right there, in the same room as me, sleeping right next to me.

Have you ever felt so lost for what to do that it makes you feel awkward? You think you can’t do anything that could be weirder than what’s happening, but then, the situation isn’t really that strange at all. It’s hard to explain, but this was just one of those times when I had no idea what to do or think. To start with, I was worried. Had she hurt herself when she was out fighting? It wasn’t the first time I’d thought about that, but then I would hear her rebuke in my head. “I don’t get hurt,” always said in that cocky arrogant tone that was kind of reassuring, but made me feel angry and stupid all the same. My second thought was that it was probably some kind of prank, and that she would probably jump up and shout at me for stealing the blanket or something. I wouldn’t put it past her, Fiona would always find something to blame me for, and I suppose she was usually right. But still, she looked so peaceful, just lying there. I suppose she never had anything to be afraid of; there probably isn’t anything in the world that could scare her. Fiona is Fiona, after all. It’s just that I’d never seen her so calm, not in the 13 years I’d known her. She’d always be the one to break a silence, start a fight, insult someone, and then provoke a stranger just to punch them in the face. For me, Fiona and calm are not two words that go together. If I had ever imagined that Fiona existed before Viola, she would have been like this.

I don’t know why, but I reached over and touched her arm, just to see if she would wake up. Looking back, it was crazy of me, but at the time, I didn’t really think about it. If I hadn’t realised the reason for the room’s soaring temperature, I figured it out as soon as I brushed my hand against her shoulder. Heat was practically radiating from her skin. I guess it was natural for her, of all people, to have a high body temperature. The room was always freezing anyway, so it was kind of comforting in a weird way. My heart was pounding against my chest, not just because I was terrified she’d wake up... but what if she did? She’d be so angry at me... There were so many thoughts bouncing around my head that I felt dizzy. As strange and new as this whole bed sharing thing was, I was sort of pleased with it. It felt like we were finally past Viola, past all of the apprehensions about the real world.

It was almost as if she had finally accepted me.

I’m not sure how long I lay there for, but if it hadn’t been for that incident, maybe I would have found it harder to come to terms with the changes that happened over the coming few months.
I think it would have been wrong to say that things were drastically different. The sleeping thing started to happen more and more often though, and honestly, I didn’t mind that at all. I got what I wanted- I didn’t have to be alone anymore. It wasn’t that Fiona had changed much; she was still never in the house, always getting into fights and all kinds of trouble; things like that stayed the same. I mean, when we argued over the rent the next week, I was kind of relieved. But that was just it; it had taken us a week to start arguing again. Both of us were fighting less and less, and we were starting to talk more and more. Sure, it was only about little things, the usual stuff, like ‘How was your day?’, ‘What’s on TV?’ and so on. But it was a start.

There were other things too, little gestures and moments when Fiona made me that weird feeling in my stomach again. They were never grandiose things or anything, but they made me happy nonetheless. I got the impression she might have finally begun to understand that I’m not as strong as her, as much as I want to be. One of Fiona’s moments that stood out the most for me was when she bought me this shirt. It just happened out of the blue, but it’s not like I didn’t appreciate it or anything-, totally the opposite, in fact. My job barely covers rent, let alone clothes; so I’d gotten used to stealing stuff from washing lines and laundrettes and the like. And as you might expect, when you’ve been wearing the same rotation of 5 shirts for three years, they were getting sort of ratty and threadbare. It was so difficult to find clothes that were my size, and a lot of the stuff I stole either drowned me, or looked ridiculous. I stole a summer dress once, and I still get embarrassed about how stupid I looked in it. Fiona didn’t stop laughing for about an hour; it made me feel so self-conscious.

But when she got me this shirt, she burst through the door at about 3am, slamming it behind her the way she always does (though I think she does that just to piss off Ms. Petrowski). As usual, I was sat watching a movie marathon on IBC. I turned around to smile at her and say hi, but she was just kind of silent. That was another one of those times I was worried about her. She called me over to the door, stumbling over her words as she spoke– I thought she must have been drunk or something. I climbed over the sofa, and barely took two steps towards her as she threw a brown paper bag at me. I tried not to look at her as I reached inside and felt crisp folds of material against my fingers. I looked at her blankly, my mouth open half in shock, half in absolute bemusement. There were a few seconds of silence, then Fiona said;
"I was tired of seeing you wearing the same damn clothes all the time,"

I didn’t quite know what to say. I’d thought about it before, well, more like wished that Fiona would show an ounce of kindness. But despite all that, I’d never really believed it would happen. And now it had. I felt a melting pot of feelings bubbling up inside me; that weird feeling in my stomach that I seemed to be experiencing more and more. It was a strange mix of elation, bemusement, warmth and most of all, happiness. Then I remembered something I’d seen on IBC earlier that night, which would turn out to save me from that awkward silence. It was during this movie, I think it was called ‘While You Were Gone’ or something like that, that there were the two main characters. One of them was upset about something menial, and then the main character gave her some candy. So it was sort of like what happened with Fiona, except I think I would prefer new clothes to candy. Things like chocolate are easy to steal.

The most important part was the bit AFTER the girl got the gift. She was smiling from ear to ear in exactly the same way that I was, and then she skipped over to the other human, and kind of... well, it’s hard to explain. It looked really strange, but she pressed her mouth against his lips. Lips touching lips. Then the male friend looked really pleased and smiled back at her. I’d never seen Fiona smile like that before. They both seemed happy together. It was very odd, and I thought it was sort of an impractical way to thank someone for a gift, but then it came on another movie that night, for exactly the same reason. Humans always do dumb things, but in the movie, it didn’t seem dumb at all. In fact, I remember thinking about how the male human was a bit like Fiona. He seemed to get into a lot of fights, especially with other humans. The female on the other hand, was stupid. She was always desperate for his attention, following him around all the time and complaining when he was trying to help her.

No-one had ever bought me a gift before, let alone something I actually wanted and needed. And here, Fiona of all people had actually made me smile more than I had in my entire life. So, I tried to remember exactly what happened in the movie when I bounded over to Fiona, threw my arms around her and pressed my lips against hers. I swear I felt Fiona’s temperature rise as I counted to three and stepped backwards, like the girl did in the movie. Maybe that was some bizarre side effect that they didn’t explain in the film, because I felt my cheeks go hot too. But then Fiona went really quiet, and I got scared. I remember thinking about what she would have said if she recognised it as a human thing, and what I would do if she had snatched the shirt back, and it was all just another cruel joke. Despite all my paranoia, I still couldn’t stop smiling, which wasn’t helped when Fiona mumbled something under her breath like, "Yeah, whatever", before turning to face the wall. As soon as she turned away, I pulled on the shirt.

It fitted perfectly.
__________________

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Old 05/21/2010   #5
Joe
Default

Lokka Kayne
The Calm Before The Storm
"Lokka are you staring at me?"

I instantly snapped out of my daze at Hannah's words. I couldn't even remember what she was saying or why I'd suddenly tuned out. It didn't seem to matter, she caught on quickly.

"Would you like me to tell you the details again or should I just strike a pose?". Hannah giggled as she finished her sentence. Even while we were talking business she never could keep a serious demeanor. I quite liked it to be honest. For once it felt good just to have a reason to smile.

"If you do both then I might be able to pay attention to what your saying". It was a cheeky comment and it was nice to be assured she took it in good light. She smiled at me. If the smile had lasted for a second less then I'd have ignored it, but it wasn't like that. She looked genuinely happy and although it was part of her bubbly personality, it had always seemed like a simple facade to keep spirits up. This was different, this was real happiness. No, its late. We're both tired and I'm probably just hallucinating anyway.

"You should get some sleep Hannah, we've got a long day ahead of us tomorow". She nodded and hugged me before walking towards her room. Before she walked through the door she turned around and looked deep into my eyes.

"Lokka....I always loved your eyes".

My expression disappeared and was replaced by confusion and almost panic. I watched as Hannah took the steps into her room and shut the door.

Why did she say that? I can't believe she just said that. I paced the room for a while and then sat down at my desk. Reaching into my desk draw I found the file that I had read every night for the past three months.

Name: Hannah Fey
Age: 23
Prototype#: 000-000-018
Codename: Reserved Diamond
Abilities: Unknown

Hannah didn't know her powers as a Destrillian but the files found within the Viola facility detail specifically that experimentation on her was at least part successful. She didn't let it bother her though, like many of us she was glad to be away from that place.

There was a knock at the door. I got up and opened it to the familiar face of Deyn Aybel, the other Destrillian in our group. Deyn had always been more rough mannered than anyone else I'd met. He slapped me on the shoulder and walked past me.

"Busy day tomorow?" Deyn said without making eye-contact.

"Yeah"

Whilst I handled the information gathering and data collection, Deyn would be out on the field 'bashing skulls'. He was built heavy and tall, seeming very intimidating even without his powers. He had the power to fire solar blasts of energy from his arms. As far as Viola was concerned he was a major disappointment. They intended for him to be a manipulator of energy. His body was pushed to the limit but biological issues forced them to stop before killing him. His Prototype number was 000-000-015 and his codename was Nova Shock.

"I'm going to bed"

"Yeah ok, I've got a bit more to do. See you tomorow"

I returned to my desk as he walked into his room and closed the door. I brought up the file for tomorows mission. The details had been sent to me by a member of what was known as 'The Prism Network' which was a small group of people that had provided me with important information countless times in the past. Most of their identity's were unknown to me, as mine was to them. Their network credentials were secure however and they were trusted simply from the experience of investigating their information.

The file included the wherabouts of a man known as Detryn, Somebody that Lokka and the others were tasked with killing by a client in return for important information. Details listed that he would be accompanied by roughly 5 gang members. That was easy enough for 3 Destrillians to take down.

I turned off my computer and shut my eyes, falling slowly into a soft slumber. Images of Viola haunted my dreams that night. The experiments. The chamber.


God I hated it there.

Nights where you could sometimes hear screaming all through the night.

And Him. I wanted to kill him. I still want to kill him. I will kill him.

Then theres Her. I dont know what I'd do without her.

More screaming

Silence.
 
 
"Lokka if you dont get up now then I'm pouncing on you"

As I realised I was dreaming again, I woke up with a smile. Hannah's voice always had that effect on him

"Maybe I'll just keep my eyes closed then"

"Yeah, and then I'll get Deyn to come in here and thump you"

"I'm up!"

I yawned as I stretched my arms out in a wide arc. I was blessed with the image of Hannah holding a plate of eggs and toast. I smiled as I reached for a slice of toast and stood up from the chair I'd fallen asleep in again. Pacing around the room I allowed my body to wake up a bit more. My neck was aching from the way I'd slept, ofcourse that didn't come as much of a surprise. I turned back to see a giggling Hannah staring at me.

"What is it?"

It seemed as though I'd left a nice big print in the chair I slept in, shaped like my very own buttcheeks. This for some reason led her to believe she could stare at my butt. She realised I was watching her and looked the other way, even though I managed to catch a glimpse of her blushing. Things between us two had been changing over the last few weeks. I didn't know why but I could tell it was a good thing.

She started gathering her things in the apartment and started putting them in her bag.

"Deyn is still in bed but I'm going out the grab some of the neccesities, do you need anything?"

I looked around my desk and then in my drawers. I noticed I was running low on magazines for my pistol so grabbed a few credits out of my top drawer and gave them to her.

"A couple of 20.cal magazines will be nice"

She took the credits, winked, and walked out of the door. I returned to my desk and started getting some work done.


Lokka Kayne
The Storm
The next few hours kind of flew by. Deyn woke up and hung around a bit. Hannah got back and we started preparing for what lay in front of us. It would be another simple task, but that didn't mean it didn't need preparation. It got to around eight o' clock and it was time to head out.

We strode down the paths of the Orange Zone. As always Deyn was moving quite a bit infront. He was definitly eager but he also had a good eye for trouble and was therefore safer for us to follow. Hannah broke off my concentrated pace.

"So is this one any more important than the last ones we took out?"

"Not really. But the information we are getting is another step toward our goal. With this we can track down one of the leading scientists"

"Another Viola goon? I thought we'd tracked down enough of them. We've had no leads on the other Destrillians and they aren't making themselves very visible. How the hell are we going to find them?"

"We need to persevere. We keep at it then we'll find them. We'll get Kram and the others to join up with us. With people like him and Salem at our side we'll surely be strengthened greatly"

"What about Tao? Will we find her too?"
 
"We are going to find everyone, even those from the other facility. We'll join together and carve out our own future. If people were to look at us for what we truely were, we'd be thrown aside or destroyed by society. It wont go down like that. When the tables turn, Humanity will have to answer to us"

There was a pause in the conversation. It was a noticable pause.

"And what about OUR future?"

I stopped walking then and Hannah approached me.

"You have a habit of making things harder than they need to be Lokka"

I froze up. In honesty this was not a circumstance I'd ever encountered and yet it was warm and inviting. She put her arms around my neck and kissed me. She definitly hadn't done that before. Perhaps this was a future I could look forward to. I kissed back and held her for a few moments before gazing into her eyes as she did mine.

"This is something I want. It is. But we need to focus right now."

I dropped my arms from her and she did hers. She looked at me a while before smiling and resuming her walk forward.

"We'll wait untill we're home, Huh Lokka?"

"Yes. I'd like that."

Our footsteps echoed as we walked under a shallow bridge. Deyn slowed which meant that we were almost here. Hannah and I moved forward and joined up with him.

"Over there" Deyn pointed at a large building in the middle of a plaza. It wasn't a subtle or quiet place and there were plenty of bystanders around. It may get out of hand but it was important that the three did nothing out of the ordinary. Killing a gang member and his guards may be a frightening act for most, but two men throwing energy blasts and conjuring forcefields would be a lot more of an issue.

"Deyn, No solar blasts. Guns only"

"Yeah"

As the three of us lurked in the shadows a little more, we loaded our weapons. I was carrying my pistol whilst Hannah used her VI submachine gun. Deyn had an assortment of weaponry he used but today he'd gone with the Assualt rifle. Nodding in agreement with each other we crept forward and entered the building.

If details were correct, and details were always correct, The man we were after was meeting with an arms dealer upstairs to secure a contract. Roughly 5 armed guards were to be expected upstairs so heavy force would not be needed. We proceeded upstairs, Deyn taking the front and myself taking the rear. We were moving quickly and I was very aware that were making enough noice running up the stairs to alert any of the few men. It wouldn't matter, we would be fast enough to retain the element of surprise.

We came to the door at the top of the stairs. The meeting was being held in this room. Holding nothing back Deyn brought his leg up and back, and thrusting forward he broke the lock on the door and pushed it open, aiming his gun in front of him.

The room was completely empty. Not a single person was now in this room apart from the three of us. Just a mere desk and chair in a room with a few windows. I couldn't understand it. Nobody had left the building in the last few minutes and we were on time.

This is when the chaos began.

Before any of us had time to react a single bullet flew through the window infront of us, followed by several more. One pierced through my shoulder and I noticed another go straight through Deyn's leg. I grunted as the bullet hit me. It wasn't as painful at first but as Deyn roared in pain the reality set in.

"GET OUT" Deyn yelled as he ducked down. We quickly filed out of the room but were met by more gunshots. We had been followed up the stairs by a group of 15 men all armed with rifles. They opened fire on us, completely defenseless in the hall.

"BARE YOUR TEETH DEYN" I yelled as I dropped my gun and forced shields around the group. The bullets hit the shield and disappeared, the gun-wielding goons looked completely astounded and frightened at the same time. They had no time to panic as they were blasted down the stairs by one of Deyn's shocks. The men fell to the floor almost all of them knocked unconcious by the great fall.

"I can hear more of them downstairs, we have-" Me sentence was cut short by horror, nothing less.

Blood.
It poured out of her chest like a fountain.

"Ha....Ha-Hannah?" I looked her in the eye as she lay there, almost motionless. Deyn had realised too and he was kneeling down too trying to bandage the blood.

"HANNAH!" I grabbed her shoulders as if to wake her up. I stared at her. She just wasn't moving. Wasn't...breathing.

No it couldn' be true.

This couldn't have happened.

Why did this happen!?

"I'M GONNA SLAUGHTER THEM!" Deyn jumped up, blinded by rage. He raced down the stairs. I couldn't even speak. I could hardly move myself. I wished death upon myself then. I didn't know why but I did. A tear fell from my face as I kneeled over her. I felt like if I could get her out of here, she'd be ok. She'd be fine, she just needed rest.

My rational side kicked in. She didn't have a pulse, She wasn't moving. She was dead. I couldn't change that. I couldn't even take her body home. We were ambushed. There were more downstairs and outside. Then I remembered Deyn downstairs. I looked at her eyes a last time as tears dropped from my own. I loved you. I really did.

Goodbye.



I almost fell down the stairs in my panic. I ran over the crippled bodys at the foot of the stairs and headed out of the building. On the way there were more bodys, more blood. There were atleast 20 of them counted now. What the hell?

I followed the trail out of the building and saw him, laying there about 100ft infront of me, far way. Around him were roughly 30 more bodys. Deyn had killed them all, but he'd dropped his gun upstairs. He had completely exhausted himself to a point of collapsing.

I saw more men approaching him. Running as fast as I could I tried to get in range of him. Things became more of a blurry haze around then. More men ran at me from different directions. I blasted them away with my powers, utilizing more strength than I ever had before now. I kept blasting as they ran at me. They blocked my vision and I couldn't see in front of me anymore.

Anger boiled as I released a kind of shockwave that sent the men hurtling in all directions. I looked back at Deyn. NO!

The man standing over my friend laughed at his colleague as he fired a round into Deyn's head. My eyes flashed green. I couldn't see anything.

I felt it coarse through my veins. Raw power. Almost flying at him I ripped the man in half with pure force, and did the same with the gathering men.

More came at me from the right and gunners on rooftops focused on me. I had to get out of here. I'd need to leave them.

How could I leave them?

No. I had to leave them.

I ran through the streets, My eyes glaring a bright green that almost illuminated the path in front of me, the only thing I could see. I could hear them rushing behind me, trying to keep pace. Adrenaline rushed through me as I got away from them and navigated through the streets.

It had all ended tonight. Our ambition was over. My friends were dead. The world was stopping us now before we fought back. We would not rise.


No. We have to. There are others. They can help. They can help bring about what we started. But not now. We need to lie low. All of us.

Wherever you are.


I found a deserted rooftop and stopped. My body would not go any further, this was the end of the line. Falling to my knees I began to crawl to a nearby air vent. I could fit inside it.

I crawled in and stopped. I could feel my body shutting down. I thought back to my friends. I thought of Hannah and what had happened. I thought of the way she spoke to me, the way she kissed me just an hour before. The way we hoped to build our own life. I thought of Deyn and his bravery in a time of desperation. I fell asleep then.



Darkness.

Nothing but pure darkness.

Blood.

It gushed out of her wounds as she just layed there.

It dripped across the floor that night, the deaths of many in one brutal flurry.

The blood disappeared.

A light.

A bright green light.

Voices.

Men shouting, screaming.

Deyn roaring as he slaughtered many.
 




Lokka....

 
....I always loved your eyes
__________________

Reject common sense to make the impossible possible!


Last edited by Sheva Alomar; 08/02/2010 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 06/08/2010   #6
Alex
Default

Jason Spencer

Origin, part I


40 YEARS AGO

CITY OF ARAKETH, THE NATION OF VAUL


The warm afternoon sun shone down on a dead city.

Lifeless and barren, the city had become a wasteland of white ash and the burnt out blackened corpses of buildings. What was once the capital city of the country of Vaul had become a monument to the death and destruction that mankind was capable of doing upon each other. The whole continent had become a testament to what would happen to those unfortunate or foolish enough to take up arms against the might of the Artolian military.

The uprising by Vaul had been settled with the single greatest act of man-made destruction in the history of mankind. Five years prior, seven nuclear bombs had been dropped on key population centres and military installations of the country. What was left of the government surrendered within the hour, what was left of the armed forces attempted to keep order. Within days the remaining population had fled underground or abroad, those who remained on the surface were left in a daily cycle of chaos. Even several miles away from the initial impact crater of the nuclear bomb that had been dropped on Araketh, the threat of radiation made it a fight for survival every single day for those who had survived the blast. That was not even taking into consideration the struggle to find food, and the constant threat of other savage survivors.

The stranger that walked through the dusty ruin of what had once been a suburban street was learning all of this the hard way. His throat was parched and his stomach was starving, he could not even remember when he had eaten his last meal. Every step forward dug more and more into the bare soles of his feet and threw up more dust from the ground that caught in his throat and seared like fire. Never before had he felt so sapped of energy and near death.

The stranger was no older than twelve or thirteen, though his actual age would have been impossible to determine for he was tall and well built.He was thin and emaciated by his wandering through this dead world with lips cracked, exposed skin and unkempt chestnut brown hair covered in white ash and dust.

He cast a glance upwards towards the sky, the sun was high in the sky and the shadows were minimal, making him swearing bitterly under his breath as he passed the burnt out wreck of a flipped up car, lamenting the lack of any shade to hide from the relentless sun that was pursuing him across the sky.

He couldn’t even remember how long he had been walking for. It had to have been at least a week, he remembered he had taken six rests when the moon came up and he was free to curl up in the most comfort he could muster and sleep a long and dreamless sleep on ground that had been bleached by the unrelenting summer sun and nuclear fallout.

Possibly the worst part about traversing such a desolate environment was the loneliness, the overwhelming solitude of walking through an environment where all forms of life had been reduced to nothing more than fire and atoms by the crushing hammer of Artolia. The boy did not seem to be outwardly affected by it though, maintaining a grimace brought about by focusing his mind on his empty stomach and parched mouth, trying his hardest to forget that the ashes he had found himself walking through were probably what had once remained of the populace of the city of Araketh.

It took his ears a couple of seconds longer than he would normally for his mind to catch up with his ears and recognise the cracking sound of a gunshot that rang out. Even his head moved slowly to react to the sound of the footsteps moving towards him. Everything was in slow motion now, shrouded in a foggy haze concentrated around the periphery of his field of vision.

“You look like you’ve been out in the sun too long boy!”
a hoarse voice shouted back at him. Its owner was just now emerging from an alleyway. Clad in similar dirty rags and carrying an old military rifle, a pair of binoculars hanging around his neck. “You didn’ even notice me followin’ your ass for the past 2 miles!” the man shouted, bearing a yellow toothed grin.

The boy didn’t have the energy to shout back at him, the certainty of his outcome from this confrontation was absolute. He felt the words catch in his throat, and proceeded to cough, not daring to take his wide, frightened eyes away from the bandit who began to cock his rifle.

“In another life it would have been against my principles to kill a child.”
The man said, the boy noticed that his wide grin didn’t falter though. “But it has been a damn long time since I’ve had a fine meal.”

Involuntarily the boy felt the vomit rise up in his throat and he bent over to throw up the only residue left in his stomach. Staring death in the face like this, after everything he had been through was making him physically sick. He felt faint.

“It probably is best if you pass out son.”
The man snarled hungrily.

The boy couldn’t help it; his knees were beginning to crumple underneath him. This was it. Would he even feel his death? For these precious moments he wondered briefly whether or not these feelings and images stranded in a barren ashen wasteland devoid of life the very last images to see in his life. Dying at the hands of this speck of human garbage. Everything was going white as he watched the shadowy figure advance towards his collapsing form with outstretched hands.

Two shadowy figures? His eyes could barely stay open as he sank to his knees in exhaustion, but another figure, much smaller had appeared on the scene. He was vaguely aware of shouting between the two of them, but his brain was too addled to make much sense of any of it. The smaller figures features were blurry and indistinct; the two looked like scribbles of black ink fighting on the stark white sheet of paper on which they had been drawn.

As soon as the conflict had begun it seemed to be over. Or maybe the boy with brown hair had just lost all sense of time, at this stage of starvation and dehydration it was very difficult to tell exactly. The smaller shadowy figure, the one that had come to his aid seemed to have wrangled the rifle away from the taller man and swung the butt of it upwards towards the man’s head. The wet, chunky thud at the hardened wooden stock struck the man’s temple and the brilliant flash of scarlet blood that sprayed against the brilliant white sky immediately caught his attention as his eyelids began to droop and the loss of consciousness became more unavoidable.

The last thing he saw before his body gave in to the rigours of sleep was the smaller figure carefully slinking towards him, carefully keeping it’s distance, approaching this new arrival into its territory with the same caution that any predator would take when something strange or alien entered into its environment.

The boy’s eyes closed and his body fell forward, exhausted, unconscious, beaten, but alive.

.oOo.

Jade green eyes fluttered open. The first thing he noticed was that he was lying down on something that was almost unquestionably a mattress. He hadn’t felt the soft comfort of a mattress on what had felt like an eternity. The second thing he noticed was that he was in a room, a room with three walls (one having toppled over at some point) and with the ceiling partially caved in, but it was more civilization than he had seen in months. A single flickering light-bulb illuminated the small room in a sickly yellow light, showing that it had definitely been somebody’s bedroom at one point or another, though the traditionally wooden bedside table and wardrobe were now just smashed remnants of their former selves.

Whoever had brought the boy here was nowhere to be found, though by the sight of another well worn mattress on the other side of the room the person was not far off. They must have brought him here after he had passed out on the street. By the sight of the dark effigies against the deep midnight blue night sky he could tell that he was still in the city. Though, truth be told he had no idea whereabouts. This city was as entirely new and alien to him as everything else he had encountered in this wasteland. He could barely even remember what home looked like.

“Awake then?”
a slightly nasal voice sounded from the doorframe. The boy twisted his head to look at it and winced momentarily as he felt the shots of pain fly up his neck. It hit him now that his entire body was wracked with pain. Walking non-stop for 3 weeks had messed his body up good.

The look of surprise on his face at the appearance of his rescuer couldn’t be avoided though, in spite of the pain that stretching the muscles in his face had caused.

It was a boy, maybe one or two years younger than he was and dressed in equally tattered and dirty clothing. He was smaller and thinner than the boy with brown hair, and his hair was cut shorter too, being choppy and jet black. It looked as though he had been cutting it himself. His clothes resembled a pair of old buttoned up grey pyjamas that had long since been cut at the knees and at the sleeves.

“You do understand me yeah? You aren’t some foreigner right?”
the black haired boy asked, giving the new arrival a frown “You been out in the sun so long that your brain has turned into mush?”

The boy with brown hair still didn’t say anything, sensation had come back into his throat and it felt as though it had very recently been sandpapered.

“Whatever, here you go”
the boy in grey held out a bowl of some foul smelling soup. “You’ll be dead soon if you don’t eat. Trust me, I know. I’ve seen it happen.” The boy said ominously, holding out the bowl to the first boy, who took it with weak and trembling hands.

“Water?”
he asked warily. His voice was high and broken, his parched throat made the words difficult to get out. The boy with black hair nodded understandingly and held out the water bottle that he had tied to his belt with a few strands of rope.

“How long were you out there for?”
he asked, watching as the boy he had rescued took great gulps of the water, nearly finishing the entire bottle.

“A few weeks, maybe more”
the brown haired boy responded. His voice regaining some strength thanks to the soothing cold water’s influence on his throat.

“What were you doing out there?”
the saviour responded. His voice harder and more accusatory than it had been before. The first boy seemed to respond with some amusement at this, in between shovelling spoonfuls of the stew into his mouth. “Something I said funny?” he wasn’t even hiding the sharp, hostile tone to his nasal voice now.

“I’m half dead and can barely get out of bed, you really think I’m a threat to you?”


The second boy didn’t say anything and just shrugged in response, seemingly more on edge now that his apparent quick temper had been brought to the surface so quickly.

“I’m out here because I’m on the run.”
The first boy said calmly, brushing his long brown hair out of his eyes as he rose to sit up on the bed, setting the quickly finished bowl down beside him.

“ ‘On the run?’ “
came the response in a mocking imitation. “The hell does that even mean?”

“I escaped from one of those camps.”
The brown haired boy explained patiently, not phased at all by his saviour’s quick irritation. “You know, those camps full of prisoners that the government had set up after the bombing?” he explained further, seeing the incomprehensible look on the look of the other child. “Well, I got out of there. Been walking ever since, just trying to get away.”

“Pretty damn stupid of you, don’t you think? How the hell did you expect to survive out here.”
Came the condescending response, though it was no longer audibly hostile or threatened. The boy was now leaning against the doorway, his head cocked in interest at the stranger’s story.

“I didn’t.”
The first boy replied solemnly, “I just wanted to be out of there.” He let the sentence trail off, and to his surprise there was no biting inquisitive remark demanding an explanation. “Were you the one that killed the man that came after me?” he asked, the memory of what had happened had just suddenly come to the surface, a startling moment of clarity amongst the blur of the past few weeks.

His question was met with a savage grin in response, “Did what I had to do didn’t I?”

“You look even younger than I do though”


His saviour just shrugged, “If it makes you feel better, I’d never killed a man before. Seen it done lots of times though.” Much like what his new companion had done moments before, he declined to ask any further questions on the matter, even though his mind was nearly brimming over the top with them. He settled on one that wouldn’t be too intrusive to this survivor or his history, there would be no use alienating him so soon.

“So what’s your name?”
he asked slowly, in a slightly pained voice as his stomach struggled to take in the first food he had been given in what seemed like ages.

“The name is Oberon” the boy said proudly, “You got a name?”

“Jason”
the brown haired boy said in response. “Jason Spencer. Thanks for saving my life.”

He paused momentarily. “Why did you save my life?” it seemed inexplicable to him, everything about this city seemed to suggest that it ran itself by a ‘kill or be killed’ set of rules. It didn’t make sense for a survivor of the catastrophic destruction wrought on this land to take in a survivor like this, unless he intended to kill him later. In response, Oberon just looked at the floor and shuffled his feet, completely unreadable other than that the subject made him feel awkward. “Or are you just going to kill me later?”

“Yeah, may do”
Oberon said carelessly, flashing another cocky grin.

Jason smiled back, another action that hurt the muscles on his face. He could feel the sting of the intense sunburn he had sustained now in full force.

“You should go to bed now. Make the most of it whilst it’s dark outside, it’s impossible to sleep during the day.”
Oberon said, noting the severity of the fatigue that was beleaguering his houseguest. Without so much as a goodnight, the savage boy had disappeared back through the doorway he had came from.

Jason didn’t even have time to consider everything that had just happened to him today, this salvation that he had stumbled upon quite by accident. His saviour had been a kid just like himself, albeit a kid much more accustom to the rugged life in this wreck of a city than he was. He briefly had time to speculate just how much time this boy had spent on his own before his tired body succumbed to the best night’s sleep that it had experienced in what felt like a lifetime.

.oOo.

When Jason woke up it was sunny again outside, shining through the cracks and holes in the walls to illuminate the interior of the room. The bulb from the night before had now been switched off; Oberon had clearly been back after Jason had gone to sleep. His body was still aching all over and his stomach had felt as though it had twisted itself into a knot as it tried to digest the food that it had just been fed with last night.

Slowly and shakily, Jason Spencer managed to force his tired body out of bed and onto his feet. He gritted his teeth at the pain that flooded his senses from the soles of his feet. So much trekking over harsh terrain had left the soles of his feet covered in numerous bloody gashes. Groaning in frustration he collapsed back down on the bed, walking was going to be near impossible for the near future.

Lying back down again he let his mind wander as to where the boy who had rescue him, Oberon, had gone off to. Surely he couldn’t have wandered off too far and left him on his own whilst he was so weak. Would he? A fleeting moment of panic gripped the boy as he realised that he really didn’t know anything about his rescuer other than the fact he had saved his life the other night. He was just another stranger in a land of strangers and savages. He was young, that much was obviously apparent, but he had killed a fully grown man with his bare hands and hadn’t shown himself to be the least bit bothered by the act. Could he really be trusted?

“You’ve been sleeping for three days you know?”


Jason leapt back on his mattress in surprise as Oberon’s head dropped upside down through the hole in the roof. The young boy was smiling a wide, inverted grin at seeing the shock on his houseguest’s face.

“Three days? Really?”
that would certainly explain why the hunger had come back.

“Yeah ‘fraid so? Hungry?”
Oberon asked merrily. Swinging down in one singular fluid move as he fell through the hole in the roof head first, one hand hanging on to the lip of the hole as his body flipped over in mid air before casually letting go and falling to his feet with all the agility of a monkey.

“Starving yeah”
Jason replied, “I haven’t had a proper meal in like a week.”

Oberon shrugged as if to tell Jason that he shouldn’t expect a proper meal in a good long time. Instead he reached into the pocket of the satchel he had slung over one shoulder and produced what appeared to be a slightly over cooked chicken leg which he threw so that it landed on Jason’s lap.

“Enjoy” he said drily, “Should be hot enough, I just pulled it out of the fire”, Jason observed this to be the case judging by the heavily blackened exterior of the chicken leg.

“So where am I anyway?”
he asked as he took an enormous bite of the stringy meat.

“My home”
Oberon answered, as if stating the obvious. He had moved over to the mattress on the other side of the room and collapsed down on it, shaking the matted black fringe out of his eyes and tucking into his own chicken leg.


“How long have you lived here?”
it seemed like the most logical question to come next for Jason, trying to gauge whether or not Oberon held any of the prejudices of either Artolians left behind and imprisoned after the war or Vaulians who had suffered so much at their hands.

“I don’t know. Six years or so maybe? Parents gave me up to this place a while back. It used to be an orphanage.”
He added when he saw Jason’s look of incomprehension.

“Used to be? What do you mean?”
Jason asked quietly as he finished the meagre meal that Oberon had provided for him.

“Nothing’s left of anything in this city anymore is it?”
Oberon snapped impatiently, Jason kept quiet in the slightly awkward wake of the nerve he must have touched. “What about you, you got a story?” Oberon asked weakly, Jason couldn’t tell if he was genuinely interested or just trying to change the subject but he decided to indulge him anyway.

“Everyone has a story” Jason said slowly, “I’m sure mine’s just as sorry as yours is.”

“Want to bet!?”
Oberon nearly shouted. Standing to his feet and glaring at his new arrival.

“Yeah, I do.”
Jason said in response and in spite of the weakness of his voice there was a cold resiliency in it that visibly unnerved Oberon. “Maybe one day I’ll even tell you about it.”

“Don’t get too comfortable, I haven’t even decided if I’m going to throw you out on your ass or not”


“If you were going to do that then you would have done it already”
Jason smirked back at his temperamental saviour.

“Whatever.”


.oOo.

It took the better part of two weeks before Jason’s feet had healed well enough for him to get out of bed and walk around fully again, and in spite of his volatile attitude and often just plain antisocial nature, Oberon returned several times a day to bring him food and water and to just talk to him. Though since their first altercation neither one had decided to bring up the subject of what brought them to be staying in the ruin of the orphanage.

Jason quickly learned that Oberon’s room, where he had been staying, was one of the best preserved rooms. A lot of the interior had been gutted, walls had been reduced to masses of destroyed masonry and dust and everywhere was peppered with bullet holes. Oberon had explained that this orphanage and the area around it were involved with extremely heavy fighting during the fight for Araketh at the very heart of the war. He had told Jason stories about how the Orphanage’s Matron had made them all hide in the cellar as men died above their heads and bombs levelled the building they had once called home.

The inquisitive side to Jason Spencer had long since wanted to ask Oberon where his Matron and all the other kids in the orphanage were now. Though the answer was painfully obvious, noticeable just by the solemn and detached way that the usually so animated Oberon became when he talked about them.

On the day that marked the start of his fourth week staying in the Orphanage, Oberon finally showed Jason the cupboard in which had kept the weapons he had stolen from various other survivors and salvaged from the various wrecked army depots.

“You have to be careful though, some areas of the city are still too full of poison to let you go in.”
Oberon explained as he took out a large, dirty knife from the cupboard and slid it into his rope belt.

“That would probably be the radiation from the bomb”
Jason had explained.

“Radiation? That some fancy name for the poison?”


It had quickly become apparent to Jason that Oberon’s education was severely lacking in some areas. Though that was hardly surprising, given that in between urban warfare, nuclear bombs and having to fend for himself in a world that was so determined to kill him. In fact, on their first trip out hunting together into the wasteland Oberon had admitted that he was barely able to read. Whilst Jason himself proven himself to be laughably bad at hunting any of the non-mutated animals that had made their home in the burnt out city centre, so the two had quickly made offers to teach the other.

“How come you’re readin’ is so good then?”
Oberon asked him that night. The two boys were sitting opposite one each other in the central room of the old orphanage building. Jason had spent the past evening digging the fire pit whilst Oberon had gone out to catch dinner (more chicken).

“I was taught well”
Jason said with a smile as he waiting for the chicken breast that he had skewered and held over the fireplace to blacken and cook properly.

“What the hell does that even mean?”
came the now expected aggressive question. Jason smiled at how well he had come to know his new friend in such a short space of time.

“My parents were Artolian diplomats. I got a good education whilst I lived there.”

Oberon gave a short barking laugh “I knew you were some kind of rich city boy. Sure don’t look like it though.” He nodded towards Jason’s overgrown brown hair and ragged clothes. “If you’re Artolian, and in this country, this mean that you were in one of those prisoner camps that our government set up?”

“Yes.”

Oberon paused to take a bite of out of the chicken on his skewer. “And your parents. They were in one of those camps too?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t suppose that was what you were running away from when I found you?” Oberon asked, his tone of voice was much more careful and considered than it was usually. As if he was uncertain about whether or not to press his new friend for more information.

“It’s okay; I never even liked my parents anyway.”
Jason said quietly. Though he wasn’t looking towards Oberon or the fireplace when he said it, instead looking off to the side where his face would be hidden in the night time shadows.

“Neither did I. Like my parents I mean”
Oberon said quickly.

“You’re an orphan Oberon. How much of your parents do you even remember?”


“Not much, I suppose”
Oberon conceded. “But what the hell sort of a family just gives up and abandons their child, you know? It's unforgiveable”



First part of EPIC 5 part OVA series gaiz. Enjoy.
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Last edited by Alex; 06/08/2010 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 06/20/2010   #7
Mantichorus
Default

DONOVAN EARLY: CU CHULAINN

ACT ONE

I lightly closed the door to the café behind me, making sure not to trap my heavy case in the doorway. I smiled tightly at the woman behind the counter before taking a seat by the window.

The sea view outside the window would have been impossible to get any later in the day, I’m sure. The Artolia Dockland was a popular courting destination from what I’d heard, and I could believe it. The salt air was fresh and excited the hunger just enough, and the view across the thin body of water that separated Damascus from its neighbour was certainly mood-setting.

Of course, many visitors to Chulainn Hub never found the Artolia Dockland, mostly because only the locals call it that. Technically, this was just the quayside, the docklands were a few yards along the bay. However, since all that separates the public quay from the commercial docks is a thin wire fence, most people think of it all as one.

Supposedly, it got its nickname because on a clear day, if you have a telescope or similar, you could see the coast of Artolia. I wondered about that, as it sounded like many an urban myth. Still, it was a clear day today, I might find out later.

“Hi, can I take your order?” a waitress said, sauntering up beside me. I glanced up at her slightly tanned face.

“Coffee, black. No sugar. Thanks,” I said. She nodded absently at me, jotting it down on her pad.

“It’ll be a while longer than usual, I’m afraid. They’re just replacing the filter in the percolator.”

“No problem. I’m in no hurry.”

She nodded again, and wandered off with a barely repressed sigh. I had to smile to myself, half in irony and half in sympathy. No-one imagines themselves working a dead-end shift in a small café as a waitress.

I picked up the newspaper left by the last patron who’d sat at this table, and flipped it to the front page. I chuckled quietly when I saw it was the provincial propaganda rag. What this paper reported and what would have actually happened would rarely match up. Especially any reports about Carabas spies. I’d had enough dealings with Carabas spies to know that their actions would never be reported. In truth, all the provinces knew this, but if anything happened they couldn’t explain, they put it down to Carabas spies.

Still, it was perfect. I wouldn’t be able to read this piece of dog crap anyway, not with a straight face, but it provided perfect cover. After all I wouldn’t be able to focus properly on any articles because of the ear piece currently nestling up to the busted bionic in my left ear.

The noises coming through it were far from conductive to a peaceful reading environment.

>Feth, look at the bastard go!<

>Wallace, how many rutting times?! Stop jamming the comm. frequencies.<

>Sorry, sarge.<

>Jurczak, this is Dela. My squad has dealt with the dissident cell on twelfth. How goes ninth?<

>Dela, Jurczak. Building cleared, but one runner. He’s headed quayside.<

>Sergeant Jurczak, this is Captain Avon. Do you have a description?<

>Yes sir. Male, early twenties I’d guess. Maybe five ten, lanky. Red tee, jeans. Sir, I understood we had backup from a specialist?<

“Here you go,” the waitress said, putting my coffee on the table. “Sorry for the wait.” If she could have made that sound sincere, I doubt she’d have been working here.

“No worries,” I said, just as deadpan. I took a sip from the coffee and turned my attention back to the comm. chatter. Apparently they were talking about me.

Dela said, >So, he’s gone AWOL?<

A sigh from Avon. >We’re a city garrison, he’s forwarded from counter-intelligence. He doesn’t have to report to me.<

>Frak that.< I was beginning to like Sgt. Dela, whoever she was.

Jurczak responded. >Sir, we have a name for this operative?< She sounded slightly out of breath. The faint scudding of boots told me her squad were in pursuit.

I downed my coffee in one gulp, wincing slightly at the strength of the dregs. As the waitress began to approach my table again, she froze as I put up a little placeholder proclaiming me to be an operative of the Chulainn government. The few scattered patrons also turned and gawped as she gasped.

I rubbed the sub-dermal transmitter implanted in my throat, activating it, as I started to fiddle with the case.

“It’s Early,” I said. A thought occurred to me, and I opened the window next to me. “I’m already at quayside.”

I heard the captain sigh in audible relief. >Well, welcome aboard, Mr. Early. I’m glad you’re in the right place.< It was hard not to miss the faint sarcasm in his voice, too.

“I just went where I was told,” I said. I started pulling out the ceramic plated pieces out of the case.

>Multiple ops, no doubt,< Avon said. I didn’t doubt it. It sounded right for counter-intelligence work: set up multiple contacts at different points, so one will be in the right place at the right time. Only tell the ones who didn’t do anything that there were others after the fact.

“How are we doing this?” I asked. I attached the scope.

There was a pause before either sergeant replied. >No survivors my end,< Dela said.

>Only the runner mine,< Jurczak admitted.

>Tranq dart, then,< Avon said. The same thought had occurred to me. It was rare for any Damascan province to not want a prisoner to interrogate.

“Agreed,” I said as I finished slotting the sniper rifle together, to the astonished gasps of the staff and the other patrons. Looking at the ammo packs, I picked out the tranquilisers, leaving the traditional bullets and the experimental anti-tank rounds in the case. I fitted it carefully to the arming chamber just as a young man in a red tee pelted into view, arms flailing madly as he ran.

“Your runner, Sergeant Jurczak? Blond, was he?” I asked, pointing the barrel out of the window. Wouldn’t do to shoot the wrong flailing idiot.

There was a harsh curse of uncertainty from Jurczak down the comm. net. The young man got closer to a passenger ship that was letting people onboard.

>Sarge, he was, sarge!< I recognised the voice as Wallace. She sounded pretty het up. >I saw it! Fething peroxide, it was!< There was a slight echo there: it had been on Jurczak’s last transmission, too. They must have entered the range of my bionic implants.

>She’s jumpier than a rutting hare, but I trust her eyes!< Jurczak shouted. She must have been close enough to be heard without the comm., as a few of the patrons frowned at the language. >Take the shot!<

My father once said it takes a certain type of man to shoot someone in the back. He made his views on that sort of man pretty clear. So, out of respect for the dead, I tilted my aim downwards at the last second as I pulled the trigger.

Jurczak and her squad cleared the corner in time to see the runner shriek and leap into the air, as the tranq dart hit him in the seat of his trousers. As he landed, his legs buckled as the tranquiliser took affect and he was flat on his face as the guards surrounded him.

I started to bring the rifle in from the window, when something struck me. I raised it again.

“Huh, whaddaya know,” I muttered, forgetting my implant.

>Early?< Jurczak said. She looked around, quickly spotting the sniper rifle sticking out of the café window. I heard her conceal a snort of laughter.

“It seems you can see Artolia from here,” I said.

There was a laugh from Avon. >I’m sure we don’t need you to shoot anyone there,< he said, clearly amused.

I smiled slightly too, if you can call a quick quirk of a cheek muscle a smile. “Quite. Early out.” With that, I rubbed the throat implant again to deactivate it for the time being.

I dismantled the rifle back into its constituent parts, and put them away back into the case. I closed the case and stood. The patrons and staff were all frozen in place. I picked up the placeholder and it disappeared back into the folds of my coat. In its place, I left the money for the coffee, as well as a small tip.

“And this is for the disturbance,” I said, putting down an extra five damasks. “Be seeing you.”

==

Jurczak was younger - not to mention shorter - than I expected her to be. The only other woman in the squad was taller than her, not to mention the male members of the squad. But she conducted herself well, directing four squaddies to perform crowd control and set up a perimeter. One joined her guarding the unconscious prisoner, while the remaining three were directed to kick back.

It might seem like an odd order to give a soldier, but as she didn’t know when the cops might turn up to haul the prisoner away for questioning, or if there might be any disturbances in the meantime, it was quite an astute order.

I was about to disappear in the crowd, before I got a call on the comm. net. Encrypted channel, too. I couldn’t exactly ignore it

>Early? Congratulations on that shot.<

I glanced at an obvious camera emplacement, and nodded at it slightly. I would recognise the voice of Edwin Creed, the left-hand of the governor, anywhere. I wasn’t going to reactive my throat implant for such a waste of breath. He wouldn’t be interested in anything I said right now.

Creed chuckled as I nodded to the camera. >Yes, I was watching from here. We want you to stick around until the civil authorities show. This is an official op, there’s no need to hide, so you might as well join the troops. I trust you have your ID to hand?<

I cussed Creed’s name under my breath, before allowing myself to blend into the crowd. I can’t explain it, as it isn’t a skill that can be taught. You either learn to do it while stalking people through the urban jungle, or you’re out of a job, possibly due to an acute case of dead. People still know you’re there, it’s just that you become so much background detail, they edit you out of their memories.

I thumbed the throat implant active again.

“Yeah, I have my ID,” I said under my breath. “But what if I get snapped?”

>Right hand pocket of your coat, that’s where you put it,< Creed said. I frowned, and then remembered the gadget he’d given me when I was assigned the op. >Put it to the V setting and all visual recording media will be scrambled. Except ours, of course.<

I shrugged, gave an affirmative and deactivated the implant. The gadget in question looked like any of the electronic organisers so many Chulainn citizens carried around. I’ll be honest, I don’t understand how it’s supposed to scramble any nearby cameras, but my Damascan employers are the ones I came closest to trusting. Think of it as mutual paranoia: neither of us will attempt screwing the other over in case it fails.

I fished out the gadget and my ID, attaching the ID to the shirt under my coat as I activated Creed’s wonder toy. I slipped the gadget back into my pocket as I walked up to the cordon.

“I’m sorry, sir,” one of the squaddies said, walking up to me hand out-stretched.

“Good technique,” I said, flashing my ID to him. He shook his head ruefully and stepped aside.

“Sarge! Early’s here,” he called over as I walked past him. Jurczak’s head popped up, and she looked to mutter something. The squaddie by my side grinned and muttered something himself.

“Tight ship you run here, sergeant,” I said as I came up beside her. “Chewing him out for not using the comm. net?”

Being shot a look from someone almost a foot shorter than you isn’t as amusing as you’d think.

“We’re still on op, Early,” she said. “It’s not quite time to hail each other by name and rank across the cafeteria yet.” Her voice semi-echoed in my ear due to the active comm. net.

“I’ve been told by Creed to stay on site until the cops come to collect him,” I told her. She looked borderline insulted by the unspoken slight to her and her squad, but nodded at me nonetheless.

“Very well. Go and sit with the others, I’ll holler if you’re needed,” she said. “If you’d still had it on, I’d ask you to deactivate the sub-dermal mic you must have. I don’t want the comm. net jammed by chit-chat.”

I nodded to her and wandered over to where the other troops were sat. Two of them were playing cards, while a youngish looking guy was reading a book. I briefly wondered where Wallace was, until the young guy glanced up and opened her mouth.

“So, you’re Early, huh?” Wallace grinned. Usually I’m good at telling guys from Polly Olivers, but in this case I messed up. Something must have shown on my face, because she smiled wider.

“Ah, thought I was a guy, huh?” She snickered slightly. “Don’t worry about it, it happens a lot. Thankfully it keeps a lot of the actual guys away.”

“You’re Wallace, then? Good job catching the runner was blond,” I said, sitting beside her.

“Ha, no worries,” she said. She pulled a canteen out and took a sip. After a momentary pause, she handed it over to me. I knew something was up from the way her eyes grinned. A quick sip confirmed my suspicions.

“Nice,” I said, handing it back. “But what if the sarge catches you with illicit hooch?”

She looked at me with careful innocence. “Illicit hooch? No, this is for, ah, medicinal purposes.”

I ran the taste over my tongue. Oh, I should’ve known. Makes sense with Jurczak’s comment about how jumpy she was.

“Tranquillity,” I said, to her slight nod. It’s brewed from a root supposedly good for tightening one’s focus. For that reason, the root’s taken by revising students and ADHD sufferers. However, it can also be distilled into a very tasty but low-alcohol alcoholic drink. For as long as I can recall, there’ve been arguments and counter-arguments that the booze form is as good as the root itself. It’s currently held that the booze isn’t as good as the root, but no-one would try calling bullshit on anyone claiming it did help them.

There was a honking from behind the crowd. I stood and craned my neck.

“They were quick,” I said, seeing the police van.

“We’ve had this op planned for almost a week,” Wallace said, looking up at me. “Plenty of time to get the necessary lines of communication up.” In some provinces, it would have been a month to get the cops and soldiers to play nicely enough together. But the insignia on the squad members marked them as part of the Hub’s garrison, so I doubt they’d had much first hand experience with people from outside the province.

The crowd parted fairly easily compared to some, but then again, armed soldiers always make people think twice about making a fuss. The squad began to gather around their sergeant without missing a beat, Wallace’s book and canteen, and the deck of cards disappearing like a magic trick.

The corporal (one of the two who’d been playing cards, I noticed) took the still unconscious prisoner over to the cops, while Jurczak turned and took a few steps towards me.

“Well,” she said. “Thanks for the assist, Early.”

“De nada,” I shrugged. “We both only go where we’re told, sergeant.”

“The café was part of you orders?” she asked, with a hint of mischievous malice.

“Maybe not only where I’m told,” I chuckled.

==

Edwin Creed shot me a long-suffering glance as Grayson Blake, the governor of Chulainn, looked over the after-action report. He sat back and sighed.

“The café, Mr. Early?” Blake asked, a slight smile playing on his face.

I shrugged. “I had no idea when I’d be needed. Plus, I was fairly certain that Mr. Creed would have had others covering other routes, so I wasn’t even sure if I would be needed, sir.”

Creed nodded reluctantly as Blake looked to him for confirmation.

“Early was only one of the operatives on the ground for this operation, sir,” Creed said. “However, considering our suspicions of the dissidents’ sympathies, I felt it was necessary.”

Blake nodded, apparently satisfied with this. “I may as well tell you, Donovan, what we suspect,” he said. (And let me just say, no-one calls me Donovan these days, only this guy. Still, he pays my wage.) “We have reason to believe that the dissidents were planning on contacting Artolia, requesting their ‘protection’ for several towns and villages along the border.”

He nodded at my sharp intake of breath. To put it simply, they were going to ask Artolia to invade Chulainn. Whether the country’s government would agree to such a idiotic idea is another thing, but regardless, word would eventually come back to the other provinces. Niska at least would be quick to make a move at such an obvious sign of weakness.

“That would be messy,” I said. Whenever I’m in such talks, I’ve always found understatement to be the way to go. Either they think you’re somewhat simple and leave you to your own devices, or they think you’re an outrageous wit. Unfortunately, Blake seemed to be as fond of understatement as I was, so I never got any advantage from him.

“Ever so slightly,” he agreed. “Now, your work yesterday was much appreciated. And, I’m glad to say, you can have a break now. Just remember, you’re on our retainer.”

“I…” I bit my tongue. “I understand our arrangement, Mr. Blake. I won’t go taking any other jobs behind your back in the meantime.”

“Glad to hear it,” he smiled. “Edwin, if you could please show Donovan out?”

Creed and I nodded, stood, and began to walk towards the door. We both recognised the dismissal.

Creed shook his head at me as he shut the door behind us. “You were lucky there. Using the café like that could have easily backfired. As it is, the proprietor used to be part of the garrison himself, so he found it all ‘ripping good fun’.”

I nodded absently. “So, when’s the next job likely to be?”

Creed smirked. “Early… You really weren’t required for this last one. I just gave it to you as a favour. They say Saitan makes work for idle hands, and in your case it seems to be true.” Creed clapped me on the back. “Just try to behave, eh?”

I grinned and shook my head. Then, “Why wasn’t there any press coverage of the bust?”

“You haven’t heard?” Creed asked. “There was another murder last night.”

“Another one? Damn.” That made at least a dozen in the ten months I’d been working for Damascus, and I know the first one was reported before that. So far, the police and the military hadn’t got anywhere in their investigations.

Creed chuckled. Something must have shown on my face. “Well,” he said. “You’ve got some time off. Why don’t you see if you can figure it out?”

I think he was joking, but it seemed as good a way to waste the time as any.

END OF ACT ONE
__________________
I work all day and I think all night
I break my body, but that's all right
Cos it'll take all my mind and all my might
To keep one step ahead of you
L.E. Modesitt, Jr wrote: Sometimes cynicism is the last refuge of the idealist.
As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn't measure up.
You think water moves fast? You should see ice. It moves like it has a mind. Like it knows it killed the world once and got a taste for murder.
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Old 06/25/2010   #8
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Idris Savage
Atlas

They always used to tell me I could take whatever somebody threw at me.
That’s what they told all the Destrillians, I guess, but I think I got it more than anybody else because I was always the one to ask why we were doing anything in the first place.
“Why do we fight so much?”
“Because you can take it.”

“Why are we locked underground?”
“Because you can take it.”
“Why do you never ask before sticking a needle in me?”


I remember how that particular question threw them a little. You would’ve figured that the answer would’ve been “Because you would object,” but no—of course they answered with “Because you can take it, number nine.”
I can take pain. And surprise. And shock. And I can throw it back, too, like any half-decent Destrillian can. But back then – back when the fighting was scary and the subterranean hallways felt claustrophobic and the needles never bothered to knock before entering – back then I wasn’t quite so good at it.
Because way back when? That girl who was still tiptoeing around her powers, trying to balance on that knife edge between normal and abnormal?
That girl who was playing pretend at being human so hard your heart would break at the sight of it?
That little girl who couldn’t quite take it yet?

That was me.


***


And she tried so hard at it, too.

“And again!”

“Mmph!” came the muffled cry as her opponent, no more than a soldier hired to help hone her in her early days of monsterdom, pinned her roughly to the ground. Five seconds into another round and her face, already streaked with sweat and frustrated tears, was being smushed into the floor.
“Come on, number nine, work those powers already!” the soldier above her egged. “You’ve got your face right up against a whole crapload of metal—use it!”
“Nngh,” was the reply, as a twelve-year-old Idris Savage gritted her teeth and struggled against the powerful grip holding her down. In much more time than the onlooking scientists would have liked, she managed to twist in such a way that she was able to shoot her hands out and smack them flat against the soldier’s ribcage, pushing him over and winding him in the process. She scrambled away and rose, weary and wary, to her feet on the other side of the training room.

“For the record,” she said, “that floor’s plastic! There isn’t any metal in here!”

“Not true, number nine,” said one of the onlookers on the other side of the glass, through a staticy PA system. “There’s metal all around you.”

“No, there isn’t,” the pale girl replied earnestly. “I can feel it; there’s nothing in here, you’ve given me nothing to work with!” She pushed her paling hair out of her eyes and tried to ignore how it was dull and lifeless blonde now, instead of the brown it should’ve been—instead, she concentrated on glaring indignantly at the scientists on the other side of the room, who were putting her through these stupid tests. It was getting completely ridiculous – these people had had her going at it for hours now, with no indication of letting her stop or rest any time soon. Especially considering how her power was still manifesting, still settling down into its new little container, she was wearing down.
Not even. She was exhausted. But being the proud creature she was, she refused to show it.
The scientists consulted each other for a moment, until one pressed the PA button again.
“Correct. The floor, walls and ceiling of this room are made of plastic. Of course, there is metal behind the walls, but obviously you aren’t advanced enough yet to sense that. This was merely a test of your perceptive ability. It’s progressed, but you’re lacking, number nine.”
“For goodness sakes, it’s Idris.”
“You should be adapting quicker. Put more effort into your newfound abilities.”
“Well what if I don’t want to!” the poor confused girl snapped, keeping her chin up even though inside she could feel her chest ache with the shame of disappointing someone—even someone as unknown to her as these sterile white-clad people, with their needles and serums and chilling experiments.
“You’re just going to have to try harder.”
“But why?” she called, to anybody who would answer. There was a pause – nobody quite knew how to answer the young Destrillian, simple as her question was. Maybe the wording was too broad. Maybe it was the way she said it, with her voice full to the brim of I’ve had ENOUGH for today. Or maybe they didn’t have an answer for her.

And then a voice spoke. “Because you can take the strain, Gunmetal Glint.”

Cedric Rosenfeld was leaning in the doorway. Wordlessly, Idris watched as the tall man strode into the room as if it were his own living room and not a cold and merciless training ground. He turned to the soldier, seemingly completely at ease that a potential threat was at his exposed back.
“You’re relieved of your duty for the day, soldier. Thank you for your time.” Idris’ chief scientist then turned towards his charge and scrutinized her stubborn, tired face.
“…well then number nine, you’ve clearly had enough for the day. You will be escorted back to your room immediately.”

And Idris, who had always been particularly good at reading people, caught something that looked like a smile on his face as he turned and whisked out of the room to attend his business.


***


“Number nine, will you cease?” came the exasperated call from the room the girl had just stormed out of.

Idris Savage was not happy. Her body, which they had promised would begin to settle into its changed self soon enough, was just not complying. Luckily, her blood had stabilized itself to the point where she no longer required saline infusions, and the fact that she could walk down a hall without an IV was a nice change.
But that small happiness shrunk into nothing when set beside all the hell she’d been forced through lately.
And the hell she was being forced through right at this very minute.

“It’s only temporary! When you’re finally acclimatized—” began whichever caretaker who had followed her from the Recreation Room. Idris Savage forced all her outrage into one venomous glare and fixed it somewhere relatively harmless: the floor. She was too indignant and too furious to see how the metal warped in a tiny little trail behind her, almost as if it were cowering in on itself from her gaze.

Oh SURE, say it like it’s easy, she raged internally. The poor girl had been told to weather through all the rough changes she’d gone through, because she could take it. And there had been many.
For starters, her body had been—and she had never believed it possible before now—growing thinner, even more eviscerated, as her metabolism sped ever faster and used up more of her fat. She had been told not to worry, that the muscle she was developing would replace it and that some day, her limbs would be smooth and firm and strong as the steel she could supposedly control.
But for now it was skin and bones and unhealthily so. Not to mention, her own skin scared her. It had looked thin enough to slice through with one stroke of her own brittle fingernail, and it had felt so, too, but in some places, like her hands and feet, the skin had hardened. It’d been completely invisible to the eye – her skin had still looked fragile enough. But slowly, the impenetrable skin had travelled up her arms and legs.
Idris had been told that this, like all things, was another change that she would come to accept and be grateful for. They had said that when the skin was finally settled, her entire body would be sheathed in something tough enough to withstand even a strike from a blade.
But to pale little Idris, it had just felt like the walls of her own body were slowly closing her in until they trapped her.
So far, she had survived all these discomforts, and borne them with not much more than a disgruntled sigh and the occasional scowl at the people who were forcing her through this. It’s not like she’d had a choice in the matter, anyway.
But this.
This was bordering on obscene.
She could take a weak body and tough, chalk-white skin—even though she’d always loved to run and jump, and she’d almost cried when her freckles disappeared. She could take the fact that slowly, her hearing and eyesight were getting sharper and sharper, until it almost became painful, the amount of clarity with which she heard and saw things.

But what Idris Savage could not take?
Was having all her hair fall out.

The now-bald girl had been subjected to an onslaught of psychic ridicule in the Recreation Room. Even though some of the Destrillians didn’t mean to be mean, everybody was surprised, and Idris wasn’t in a forgiving mood. When one of them had tried to make light of the situation by joking, she had only just saved herself from starting a fight – which she would have lost – by getting up and stalking out of that room as fast, and with as much menace, as she could. Her plan had been to let out as much pent-up frustration as she could simply by forcing it all into her walk and her stare, but by now she was figuring that that wasn’t going to be enough.

“Fancy seeing you here, Gunmetal.”
Her scientist, and chief overseer, Cedric Rosenfeld, stepped out of nowhere and smoothly began to walk in line with her. The fact that he was quite easily keeping stride with her angry pace made Idris even more irritated.
“What on this good green earth do you want, Rosenfeld.”
“Nothing too much – just saw you coming down the hall and decided to have a chat.”
“I’m not in the mood for a chatthe girl spat, and meant it. They had almost reached her room now and she could not wait to get in it so she could rage all she wanted and then relax in that strange blue-filled pod of hers.
“Fine, then,” came the man’s breezy reply, and together they turned a corner and arrived at her door. Almost condescendingly, in Idris’ eyes, Dr. Rosenfeld punched in the key for her door and swiped his card. The door was heavy and plastic-lined, to keep her from escaping, and so it took a good six seconds to open; as Idris stepped in, the scientist behind her made one last remark.
“By the way, I thought you’d like to know that you’re still quite pretty without your hair. I don’t see what the big fuss is all about.”
There was a moment of silence, in which Idris stopped dead and considered what he had just said.
And then she turned, stomped her foot, and the heavy, pneumatic, metal and plastic door slammed shut on Cedric Rosenfeld’s face.
He sighed. At least her powers were progressing.


***


“What foolish rebellion is this?”
“I’m not going to,” repeated Idris Savage for the umpteenth time, full of an indignation that she couldn’t quite pin a reason to.

This had been going on for a while now.

Idris’ present caretaker heaved a sigh and raked a hand through his unkempt hair. The Gunmetal Glint had been persisting at this notion of not going to training today for at least an hour now.
The girl herself had woken up that morning and had, on sheer instinct, decided that she was going to do nothing for anybody that day. It felt childish even to her, to get into such a mood with no discernable backing to it, but for some reason Idris couldn’t care less at the moment.
“Number nine, you’re going to go through the exercises that you go through every day. There is no arguing this point. Now for gods’ sake,” said her caretaker, taking her hand, “will you just”—he tugged at her arm—“come”—she didn’t budge—“ON.”

She allowed the man to try and pull her from her room. Strong though he was (all of her caretakers needed to be strong nowadays,) he couldn’t do much. He forced her to take one step, and then she twisted her feet against the ground to prevent herself from moving anymore. The man sighed. He had no idea why she was being so difficult, either.
“Is there a reason to all of this?” he asked, exasperated.
“No.” The answer surprised him. It wasn’t necessarily the answer itself, but the tone with which the young Destrillian said it. There was no hint of snideness in her answer; she was simply telling the truth.
“Then there is no logic to your action. If there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go, then you’re going.”
“No.”
That answer didn’t surprise him so much.

“And there is a reason, now that I think of it,” she continued. “I just don’t know what.” This really threw the poor man, who had already had a rough day as it were. The Blazing Fury had been disobeying this morning, too, but the fire Destrillian’s means of displaying her rebellion were much different—and much more difficult to deal with—than the Gunmetal Glint’s. Needless to say, having two troublemakers in one day was a lot to handle.
In the seconds that the man took to think this, Idris has smoothly pulled her hand from his and had walked back to the middle of her room, bony arms folded. She just seemed to look so terribly entitled to whatever she was going on about, that as hard as the scientist tried to maintain his anger with the girl, he couldn’t. She was baffling.

“Number nine,” the man tried, and then, “Idris,” to really try and hit home; “I don’t know what you’ve got going on in that sharp little head of yours, but whatever it is, it makes no sense. We’ve agreed that there’s nothing preventing you from going about your daily routine, so can you please he said, really trying to lay it on thick, “please, just go to the training room and perform your exercises?”
Idris stood there and thought about it. And she thought a little more. She smiled, a bit apologetically almost, and the man knew her answer before she could give it. She saw, and didn’t bother to give it at all.

“Fine, then. You can stay, but I’m putting you in your cryo pod so that you can’t cause any trouble.” He paused, thoughtful. “Any more trouble.”
Having got her way, the small, pale girl said nothing, but turned to go to her pod with no fuss. The scientist watched her go for a moment, almost forgetting that she had begun her life somewhere outside of Viola in the first place. She seemed so natural here. Almost too natural.
He turned and filled a syringe with Distrum, and then approached the girl settling into her glass pod. Without hesitation, he took her arm and injected the substance into the strong white skin and the bloodstream beneath it.
“Why do you never ask before sticking a needle in me?” the Destrillian asked, quite calmly. The oddity of the question struck her caretaker for the second time.
The weirdest things this girl asks. If she weren’t so good natured, I would worry about how difficult she would be in a few years from now.
“Because you can take it, number nine,” he replied as the pod shut itself and blue cryogenic gel began to fill it up.
Idris just had time to give him what might be thought of as a reproachful look before she closed her eyes and was still.

I deserve to get a break today, she thought as she began to slip into sleep. I don’t know why but I do. I’ve worked and worked and something tells me that it’s practically my right to do what I want for now. I’ll make it up tomorrow, or something.

Hours later, her caretaker returned to her room with none other than Dr. Cedric Rosenfeld, who was curious to see why Idris hadn’t been at her training.
“It’s virtually inexplicable, sir,” the lesser man was carrying on, as they entered the room with the girl slumbering peacefully in the pod. “The Destrillian said it herself. She has no idea why she’s being so stubborn, she just is. She didn’t cause any real trouble, she’s just being… uncooperative.”
“And no wonder,” mused the chief scientist. The comment prompted a reaction from the caretaker, who turned a look of disbelief upon Dr. Rosenfeld.
“Might you have some idea about her disobedience today?” he probed, trying very, very hard to keep his tone respectful (he’d had to deal with all this trouble, after all, and learning afterwards that it had a perfectly logical reason behind it was not on his high list.)
“I can guess,” Cedric Rosenfeld replied, gazing with an unreadable expression at the softly glowing pod. After a moment of silence, he turned to face the caretaker, and with a quirk of a smile he said, “after all, it is her birthday.”
The caretaker’s jaw dropped.
Nobody bothered Idris Savage again that day.

But sometime in the late hours of the night, just before one day turned into the next, something caused Idris to awaken in her pod. The girl had no idea what it was, or why she had heeded its call, but she slit her eyes against the blue cryogenic gel to try and see outside her pod, to find out.
Nobody was there. But what was there, glowing on the monitor that usually displayed her output and life signs, scrawled across the screen in the same bright orange script, was a message.

“HAPPY 13th BIRTHDAY IDRIS”


***


“LOOK OUT—”
CRASH
“…sorry,” said the Gunmetal Glint, wincing apologetically at the small group of scientists who had just barely managed to skirt death by freezing at the last moment. Where they would have been, was a giant plate of metal smushed up in folds against the wall. They all shot her looks and then hurried down another hallway, and Idris exhaled sharply through her nose. It wasn’t her fault, after all. She’d been minding her own business, la-di-daing down a hallway to a training room, and as another Violan employee had crossed her path, rolling a tray of something or other, it had just barely caught on her dancing foot.
Now Idris was a graceful creature by nature, and so she didn’t fall entirely. Using her sharp sight and quick reflexes, the girl simply turned the fall into a roll and sprung back up onto her feet again.
The problem arose when she went and gave a little hop, to get rid of the extra momentum. It had been distracting and she hadn’t been concentrating, and…
Well. Needless to say, Idris got to the training room with as little delay as possible.

It’s getting awfully ridiculous, she thought to herself as she nodded absentmindedly along with whatever instruction her scientists were giving her at the time. I can barely BREATHE without making something crumple or warp or gods forbid crush into something else. What am I going to DO with myself?
It was true. In the past month or two, the metal Destrillian’s powers had suddenly begun to grow exponentially: “About time,” the scientists had said. Their glee was cut short when they saw precisely how fast Idris’ abilities were manifesting. The girl could blink and without thinking she could crush a doorway. She was becoming dangerous.
Of course the irony was lost on nobody – Idris Savage had taken the longest time out of almost all the Destrillians to embrace her powers. The fact that they were finally manifesting at full force, all at once, was probably Fate’s way of saying “You wanted improvement, so here it is!”
Worse yet, they discovered that no amount of Distrum quelled the onslaught of raw power. If anything, that made it more dangerous. The only way to control it, unfortunately, was to have poor Idris concentrate with every fibre of her being, every moment of the day, on keeping herself under control. If she got out of line for even a moment, then things like the near-disaster in the hallway earlier were bound to become commonplace. Luckily for Viola, the Gunmetal Glint was exceptional at concentration, and she didn’t get bored easily, either.
But even Idris had her limits.

“In you go.” The Destrillian nodded at the command and took her place inside the training room. Her opponent, she realized, was a woman. This was relatively new to her, as usually Viola only sent in male soldiers. Maybe it had had something to do with the instructions she’d paid no attention to.
“Fight!” came the command, and Idris slung herself lower to the ground in a predatory stance. She bit her lip, took a deep breath, and then tried to let out a little bit of her power—just a little.
No such luck. At the wave of her hand, the first two inches of metal came off of the wall to her left (and mind, this was the same room she had trained in years ago, with the metal buried behind plastic) and came hurtling towards the woman.
This soldier had amazing reflexes. She dropped to the ground like a stone and kicked one of her legs out, so that she hit the bottom of the giant sheet of metal and it turned to such an angle that the woman was just—
—barely—
—able to slide beneath it. She sprang back to her feet just as the projectile crashed into the opposite wall. Idris quickly nudged it with an elbow to fuse it to the wall, lest it fall down and crush them both.

“…apologies for that, miss,” she said, with a bit of a smile. “It’s been going on for a while now.”
“Oh don’t worry about me,” replied the woman, with surprising confidence. The metal Destrillian felt a prick of condescension with the woman. After all, no matter how swift she was, she was still human. And Idris was a Destrillian, now almost fully manifested and dangerously so. What was there NOT to worry about?
“This is an exercise in… restraint, number nine,” came the voice over the crackly PA system. “You are required to fight as always, but you now also have the problem of your strengthened abilities. Your priorities are to win, and not to kill anybody. Understood?”
“Perfectly.” Through grit teeth. This was going to be a little difficult.

And difficult it was. Not only because people were counting on her not to kill the woman, but because Idris herself didn’t want to kill the woman. This was a soldier that Idris was fighting against, don’t forget, and she was every bit as agile and quick-witted as she had made clear beforehand. But despite this, Idris maintained an extra sense of delicacy around her, trying her darned hardest not to hurt her, only to stun.
There were a few close shaves both ways. Idris almost lost when the soldier whipped out a gun, but the Destrillian’s newfound powers reacted on their own and threw a magnetic field up at the last moment, catching the bullets and swinging them back around in the woman’s general direction. That was the first time Idris had ever done something like that and she only had a moment to revel in it before she shoved her powers back down under concentration and kept on fighting.
Conversely, she almost decapitated the woman. Twice.
“Sorry!” she kept on yelling, without quite knowing why. After a while, the two began to almost joke with it. It was a grim sort of humour, but the woman and the Destrillian found common ground in what they thought was funny, and Idris was just beginning to really enjoy herself when the PA system crackled at them to stop.
“You’re not trying, number nine,”they told her. She replied that no, she was actually trying very hard thank you, and that maybe they ought to try fighting somebody without killing them when the force of a small atomic explosion was being suppressed within you by willpower alone.
Some of the scientists chuckled. They were used to Idris’ joshing by now. The training session cut short before they could push the Destrillian too far, and the two women walked out. It was then that Idris began to realize why she had been trying so hard in the first place.

It sounded ridiculous from Idris, of all people.
But it was because the woman was… well, a woman. And something about being a woman forced upon Idris a sense of delicate handling. Even though the soldier was made of really, really tough stuff, she still looked fragile. Maybe it was her figure. Or her effeminate face. Or something.
Either way, Idris realized, it was the perfect natural barrier against harm.

Looking down at herself surreptitiously, Idris noticed none of the feminine curves that the female soldier had. Quirking an eyebrow, she thought about the other female Destrillians. Immediately, the joyously freckled face of Emma Johnson, the nature Destrillian, swam into her mind’s eye. The girl was sweet and kind, and had grown a formidable set of hips and breasts. And nobody really wanted to hurt Emma.
Next would’ve been Ariel. Though not quite as buxom, she still had definitive curves. Everybody loved Ariel—even Fiona, and the fire Destrillian hated everybody.
The evidence was starting to pile up here.

Now Idris had never been much of a complainer about anything. Any whining she’d done over the past years at Viola had been, for the most part, light-hearted and joking; nothing much bothered her, after all. Idris, as a Destrillian and as a person, was content to sit back and watch things unfold until the time where she was needed, and so she’d gained a healthy perspective on how her world worked. Complaining would get you nowhere. The only way to fix things would be to do it yourself.
But you can’t force yourself to grow hips and a chest, can you? She frowned. Nope. Definitely impossible. Part of her, ever-joking, thought that if there was a Destrillian of feminism, they could clear this problem right up. She chuckled at the thought and then realized that she’d called it a “problem.”
Was it really?
Of course not, she scoffed. If anything it helps me. No extra weight. And it’s easier to slip in through doors and the like.
Still though, she thought, leaning against the wall, it’s all fine and dandy to say that but it’s another thing entirely if I’m going to be flat as this wall for the rest of my life.
Turns out that that comparison wasn’t quite the right one to use at the time, as Idris had lost concentration again while thinking, and as a result she had sunk herself right into the wall. She hurriedly jumped back out of it, leaving an Idris-shaped mould a half-foot deep in the metal.
She sucked her teeth in frustration, and then turned to one of the caretakers who were watching her with a worried expression on their faces. This one was a woman, too, and Idris figured that if she was going to ask this question, she may as well ask somebody who would get it.

“So,” she began, appearing at the side of the female nurse quicker than she could blink. The woman stifled a squeak of surprise and looked at the adolescent Destrillian with suspicious curiosity. “We all know that my powers are rocketing upwards and they’re not going to stop going that way for whoever knows how long, right?
“Well that’s splendid,” she continued, unfaltering, as the nurse nodded, “but it seems to me that my abilities are the only things growing around here.” The girl gestured to herself for further emphasis. “I might be able to throw steel around like it’s a plaything, but as far as my body goes it looks like I should still be playing with playthings in the first place. It’s grand that I’ve finally got this development going on, but there is no development going on here.” She pointed right at her chest. Idris was never the type to skirt around subjects.
“Love, I’m what, sixteen now? And I’ve got the female presence of a stick. Emma’s obviously grown up, and Ariel and Fiona and all of them—what about me?” she said, a natural joking tone slipping into her voice. “When’s my turn?”

Cynthia Schmidt had never needed to answer a question like this before. She didn’t even have the previous experience of having had this conversation with her own children before, as she had none. The nurse tucked a lock of strawberry blonde hair back into its bun and thought frantically for some sort of answer.
“Well, um,” she started, and then faltered, and then began again. “I think it’s just that your body won’t grow until later. Everybody’s different, and everybody develops at different ages,” the nurse said, feeling uncomfortable with talking about this in plain air. The Destrillian in front of her nodded like it was perfectly natural, though, so she pressed on hurriedly. “I think if you just wait, then in time you will, um… grow.”

“Hmmm.” Cynthia Schmidt winced a bit at that. Had the answer not been satisfactory? “Something tells me that waiting is the right decision, yes – what else can I do, after all? But at the same time,” Idris said, her eyes calmly sizing up Dr. Schmidt’s own chest, which she found extremely uncomfortable, “did you start growing at sixteen?”
“I…”
“No never mind, that’s a stupid question,” the metal Destrillian said, waving away her earlier words. “You’re a human and I’m a Destrillian. Different rules. And besides, I never asked what to do about it. I just wanted to know why.
To this, Cynthia Schmidt had no answer. Her watery blue eyes met Idris’ clear, sharp grey ones, and there was a pause.

Somebody appeared at their side.
“It’s because—”
“If you say it’s because I can take it, I swear I’ll crush you into the floor,” Idris interrupted with a lopsided smile. “And we’ll see if you can take THAT, doctor of mine.”
Dr. Cedric Rosenfeld laughed heartily, and the girl joined in with a tinkling laugh of her own. Today seemed to be a good day for half-humour. “But really then,” the Destrillian resumed, tilting her head at Dr. Rosenfeld, “if you’ve a real answer, I’d love to hear it.”

“The real answer, Gunmetal, is that your form of puberty has manifested in your powers, not in your body itself,” the man said, waving a hand in Idris’ general direction. “While some of the others will go through a… natural, puberty, yours seems to have become ability-centric. I’ll tell you right now that I don’t expect you to grow another inch anywhere, and neither should you.” The girl pouted for a moment, but continued listening. “If it’s any consolation, though… by the end of it you’ll have incredible amounts of power at your disposal. Incredible. And metal itself is one of the most stubborn elements to control. Should this go the way I’m estimating, you’ll very well become one of the most powerful Destrillians Viola has ever had the…” he glanced over at the wall where her dent was. “The distinct pleasure of working with.”
“Distinct indeed,” said the metal Destrillian, with pride in her voice. “Well fine, I guess I’ll just have to live my life as a two-by-four.”
“You won’t have to, Idris,” said Rosenfeld. “You’re living life as a Destrillian.”


She considered that for a long time afterwards.
And it still makes sense today.


***


She’s dead.

She’s dead she’s dead she’s dead.

She’s dead and there is nothing in the world that you can do about it and they killed her he killed her oh god oh god oh god why weren’t you there you could have done something and she’s dead and you’ll never see her again and she didn’t deserve it at all never deserved it ever why oh why oh why did they do it Ariel is DEAD and it’s all.
Their.
Fault.

---

The room was quiet. Still. Nothing was out of place here; the monitors were all working and the door was locked from the inside and they had finally managed to fix the air conditioning so that it didn’t make so much noise. All there was, was the gentle hum that it still generated, and a tall, bespectacled man sitting in a chair, and a girl afloat in a glowing, gel-filled pod.

Dr. Cedric Rosenfeld sighed.
Today, Ariel Regan, Destrillian Prototype 000-000-012, had been killed more or less in cold blood. The moment she had died, just about every Destrillian in the facility had thrown a fit. It was like they could feel the death of their comrade, and it drove them all crazy with hate. In his personal opinion, Viola had bitten off more than they could chew when the big wigs decided to kill the girl in the same building as the other Destrillians—and on the same floor, to boot. The proximity must have been agonizing for everybody.
Including Idris. The scientist closed his eyes and pictured that day’s events over again in his mind.
Idris had been in the worst possible place for her to be at the time – the training rooms. Rosenfeld still remembered the look on her face. That absolute mask of horror, shifting like sand into one of dead certainty, and then indescribable grief. All of the metal she had been controlling during her round with the soldiers dropped to the floor, as lifeless as he knew Ariel then lay.
There had been a moment of silence. Nobody else but a few of the doctors knew what had just happened, and the possible connection it had to what was going on in the training room with Idris at that moment. She just… stood there.
But then she lifted her head up, and they saw that another look had replaced the previous.
Even Dr. Rosenfeld, ever-calm, had to open his eyes and focus on the girl in her pod right now, so as not to be sucked too far into that memory. Because the look that had been on the Gunmetal Glint’s face would give them all nightmares until they were very, very old. It was a look of complete, omnipotent pain.
And one of rage.

And just like that, the small, pale girl had twisted her arms about her, clutching at her own white arms as she sunk to her knees. She made not a sound, and that made it all the scarier when the walls, floor, ceiling… when the whole training room warped hideously to her silent command, malleable as putty, surging into the middle where all the soldiers were and enveloping them in their own personal, airtight shells. And then still more metal sprang from the ruined walls and impaled them while they suffocated, again and again, and then as if this was still not enough punishment those metal casings squeezed downwards, slowly crushing its victims from the tops of their heads to the soles of their feet. If it hadn’t been for the screams of the metal protesting as it did its work, they would have been able to hear the cracking of the soldiers’ bones and the disgusting squelching sounds of the rest of them slowly being compressed downward.
And small, skinny Idris just sat there on her knees and hugged herself so hard that bruises erupted beneath her fingertips, and by all that was good in the world, Cedric swore he’d seen her crying—just before the windows looking into the training room were obscured as more metal dragged over them, turning the entire place into a rock-climber’s dream and a Violan scientist’s nightmare.

It had taken forever to navigate the twisted wreckage to go and get the Destrillian out. Not to mention, the metal would still jerk and pull away from itself once in a while, to shoot out at random points that were entirely fatal. Another scientist lost her life stepping over a huge bubble of metal, only to have it suddenly spring upwards and rend a hole straight through her throat.
But they’d gotten her out, eventually, and as they restrained her with needle after needle of Distrum, she had just sat there and taken it. Just sat there and looked at them all, and it was at that moment there.
That one brief instant, out of all the days before and after.
That was the moment where Idris had had the face of a real Destrillian.

And here he was now, taking the responsibility for his charge. Dr. Rosenfeld had to admit, it was a much better job than that of all the other scientists, who had to go and find a way to reconstruct the training room. It was pretty much beyond repair, let alone any sort of use for the next month.
Not that any of the Destrillians would be using training rooms for a while; they were all worked up like Idris was.

…dead.

The tall man blinked. He looked up, flicking chestnut hair out of his eyes.

…gone…she’s gone…

Idris’ voice rang out in his head, sad and empty and unspeakably hurt. Dr. Rosenfeld’ fingers had already typed out half of the code needed to administer another colossal dose of Distrum, when something stopped him.
Quietly, he laid a finger on the backspace key, looking up at the girl in her pod. She was still out for the count, as far as consciousness went. It was just her mind that was slowly coming out of its coma, that was all.

Idris couldn’t feel anything. She couldn’t feel enough to know she couldn’t feel anything. But slowly, very very slowly, her senses began to return to her. And as they did, so too came the physical manifestation of the pain she was feeling internally. A dull, radiating ACHE in her chest, spreading absolute agony straight down to her fingertips. It hurt more than anything had ever hurt anybody in the entire history of the world, and Idris had a feeling that it had nothing to do with how she couldn’t remember how she’d got into her pod. It had nothing to do with the real, physical pain that was intertwined with the emotional—the physical pain could only come from a complete and total overusage of her power, but Idris couldn’t remember what she had done to cause that.
No, this had to do with Ariel. And with how Ariel was dead, and how she’d been killed and how nothing could ever be happy again because why in the world would anybody anybody anybody want to kill Ariel and now she was dead and—

“Stop it.”

The voice, muffled through the pod though it was, jolted Idris out of her spiralling thoughts. And the girl found that, really, all she was now, was incredibly, incredibly tired. And she just wanted to tell that to somebody who might care one whit about it. And by some subconscious instinct, she found and called out to the one living being that might want to hear her out.

Why is she gone, doctor of mine.

It was barely a question, so devoid of any life it was. Dr. Rosenfeld smiled an odd, hollow sort of smile as he considered the answer he would give her.
“She’s gone, Idris, because she was of no further use to Viola,” he began, choosing his words carefully. The man knew that he only had one chance to engrain this deep enough into his Destrillian that she would never make the same mistake. “Ariel was killed because she was too free-spirited, too rebellious. Her ambitions became corrupted and she started to turn on the very people who’d given her all that she has. We, all of us here at Viola,” he continued, putting every drop of feeling, sincere or not, into his voice, “we’re the ones that raised you, the ones that gave you such gifts. And you have these gifts to carry out a specific mission, when the time comes. You are soldiers, all of you,” he said, and then he paused, for he wasn’t quite sure how next to phrase what he wanted to say. Even for a man as smooth as Cedric Rosenfeld, the next few moments were going to be awkward.

“Idris Savage, Destrillian Prototype number 000-000-009. The Gunmetal Glint. That’s who you are, Idris, whether you like it sometimes or not, and it’s who you’ll be forever. There’s no changing that. And that means that you belong to us; I don’t know whether I believe in any sort of divinity,” the tall man said, raising his eyes to the asbestos-lined ceiling, “but I can say that I’m thankful that it was her and not you. Because Idris, after Ariel, a lot of people here at Viola—and this includes myself—would pin you down as the one to try and rebel. You’ve got the same sort of independence that she had, and you care for people like she did… and you ask the same pesky questions.” The joke in his voice just barely made the words tolerable. “So for goodness sakes, do what Viola wants from now own. Do what we tell you—do what I tell you, and this never has to happen again.”

Silence. He could feel the girl’s presence, quiet but awake, considering everything he’d said (and he had said a lot, considering what he usually said) and weighing its sincerity. Finally, the presence slipped coolly from his mind, leaving nothing but a sleepy and resigned final word.

Okay.


***


And she hardly even tried at it, too.

“And again!”

“Mmph!” came the muffled cry as her opponent, one of the half a dozen top-notch soldiers in the room, was pinned roughly to the ground. Five seconds into another round, and the Gunmetal Glint’s opponents were already having their faces smushed into the floor.

“My god man, work with me here!” the Destrillian above the soldier egged. “You’ve got five men right here and they seem perfectly happy to twiddle their thumbs in the back—use ‘em!”
“Nngh,” was the reply, as the soldier tried to swat the girl off of him. She let the struggle continue for a bit before leaping smoothly off him and landing back in the middle, allowing him to get up. Her lopsided smile said it all – she was going to win and she knew it. The men looked at each other and simultaneously decided that now, now was a good time to pull out the weaponry.
And so six fully-grown men pulled out guns of varying severity, aimed, and fired straight at the Destrillian.
But Idris Savage was untouchable. Cool as a cucumber, she raised a magnetic field around her and caught all of the bullets – and there were many. She waited until the men had all but spent their rounds, and then, with little more than a disappointed tut, reversed the field and sent the bullets rocketing back in the direction of the soldiers’ feet. Most of them got out of the way in time.
Most of them. A few would be off-duty for a few weeks thereafter, with bullet wounds in their feet. Idris watched their struggles with a sort of polite amusement; the metal Destrillian was perfectly happy to stand there and wait until somebody tried to hit her.
And when finally, somebody did try and hit her – a good attempt at a sneak attack from the back, while the girl was distracted with the kerfuffle in front of her – Idris ducked the swing of the gun butt and retaliated with a roguish grin and a sharp kick to the side. She twisted back up to standing and sprang like a bat out of hell towards one of the two remaining soldiers, landing with a thud against the well-built man, hands smacked flat against his chest. Using the force behind her, she toppled him and used his fallen body as a springboard for her hands, pushing off and away, executing a perfect flip and landing crouched, ready for the last of the pack.

This soldier was one of the men who routinely trained with Idris. He was pretty much permanently assigned to her, as opposed to a good number of the others, who were rotated through the Destrillians to give them a fresh challenge.
But being assigned to Destrillian Prototype 009, and having fought her so many times before, the man had a good idea of what he was about to be subjected to.
He sighed at what was probably going to happen next.
And then, almost as quick and agile as the weapon he was fighting, he fired one bullet at the girl to distract her, diverolled on the ground and sprang back up running full-tilt towards her.

Idris, it had to be said, hadn’t seen the bullet coming. It was new and that made her smile. So instead of perhaps giving the man what was coming to him, she simply swatted the bullet away like it was a bothersome insect, and then—
—just as the soldier was about to make contact with her—
—she stepped to the side and held an arm out, effectively clotheslining him.

Idris Savage stepped over his groaning body and surveyed the scientists behind the window with ever-present patience, as they chattered to each other about what had just happened. Eventually, a voice – staticy as ever, as they’d never bothered to fix that PA – came through.
“Well done, Idris.”
She knew from the moment she heard her name that Dr. Rosenfeld was in the room. Seeing quite easily through the tinted glass (her eyes, with their enlarged irises and pupils, could do that sort of thing,) she spotted him leaning casually against a control panel.
“’s my pleasure, love.”
“In fact, the only question I have for you is, precisely how hard was all of that?”

Idris thought. She cut the men some well-deserved slack by pretending like she was considering their combat skills. But after a few moments of enjoying the tense silence that obviously meant every scientist in that room – and the soldiers who were awake, too – wanted to know the answer, she felt obliged to tell the truth.
“Well not to offend the good soldiers here, but you may want to tie my hand to my foot next time and tell me to do it that way.” She shrugged and smiled at everybody’s groan. “Might make it more challenging, I don’t know.”
“You’re supposed to tell us when you aren’t trying hard enough, Idris,” came Dr. Rosenfeld’s voice, and she was pleased to hear the light tone in his voice. He, at least, thought the joke was funny. Nowadays, you’re supposed to be pushing yourself to the absolute limit. There shouldn’t be any slacking off in training.”
“Oh but why not?” the girl insisted playfully. “It’s much easier on the soldiers, after all, when I don’t try too hard. Why should we make this more difficult for them, when they try so terribly hard as it is?”
Her cheeky smile dropped into an incredulous yet still light-hearted pout at her doctor’s next words.
“Because you can take the strain, Gunmetal Glint.”

She was about to sling back a dramatic retort when something stopped her. Her face became more serious all of a sudden; the small Destrillian woman bit her lip in apparent thought, mulling over whatever idea had just slithered into her head. Finally, she looked back up through the glass and – everybody could tell by her tone – addressed Dr. Rosenfeld personally.

“Remember that time, years and years ago, when I was fighting in here against some guard and I kept on losing?” At the hesitance that followed, she added, “You know, when my face kept getting mashed into the ground.”
At this, the tall man smiled in remembrance.
“Oh don’t look so smug about it, you horrible man,” she said, letting loose a chuckle. “All those years ago, when I was beaten and tired, and just wanted to go and rest, you killed the training for the day. You did it on purpose, didn’t you? Because you took pity,” she said, contemplating his expression through the tinted glass window, her head tilted delicately to one side. “I still remember.”

Everybody waited for the answer. Cedric Rosenfeld took his time before giving it.

“…I might have.”

And Idris Savage, who had remained, through all these years, particularly good at reading people, caught something that looked like a smile on his face as he inclined his head in farewell to the other scientists, and whisked out of the observation room to attend to other business.


***


They always used to tell me I could take whatever somebody threw at me. That I could take pain, and surprise, and shock. And I could – and I can – throw it back, because I’m more than a half-decent Destrillian.
And everything they told me proved to be true, because Viola really did get it all thrown back in their faces when we stormed the facility and made a break for it.
But nowadays I wonder.
Can they take it? Destrillians as a whole were created to withstand all sorts of hell and high water, but what about the scientists who started the project in the first place? Can they go up against ten, twenty, one hundred heavily-armed soldiers and come out without a scratch? Are they capable of watching as their friends and family die, practically right in front of them, at the hands of their own kind?
Can they take the strain of what they’ve created?

It’s not my place to say for anybody else, but I know one man who could.

Because that girl who was tiptoeing around her powers, trying to balance on that knife edge between normal and abnormal?
That girl who was playing pretend at being human so hard your heart would break at the sight of it?
That little girl who couldn’t quite take it yet?

She learned to.
She grew up. And she got stronger. She fought through all sorts of misfortune – for no real reason, looking back on it – and she managed to come out the other side alive. And over the years, she stopped worrying so much about whether she’d be able to handle whatever came her way, and started to just handle it. That, is the true mark of a Destrillian.

I should know.
__________________

Disappear with the stars and come back alive.
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Old 07/02/2010   #9
Alessa Gillespie
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AW YEAH GUYS TRIPLE POST

A Tao Hong-centric ficlet
She Was Not Sick
She was not sick, she’d tell herself. She was just a little sad. Sometimes she had nightmares about The Owner killing her, and she tried not to wake up screaming, since that would only get her into more harm. But she was not sick, she told herself, she just wasn’t happy. That was why that frail girl had suddenly beaten her owner to death: she was just so sad that she felt like breaking.

She was not sick, she’d tell herself. She was just a little scared. The needles that they had frightened her, her hair fading to white, her eyes turning red, her powers terrified her. Certainly, she had friends, she had people she loved, who took the fear away and made her feel, for the tiniest sliver of time, safe. They helped to teach to how to control the powers she didn’t want, which almost made her feel happy. That was why The Scientists decided to try and make her better.

She was not sick, she’d tell herself. She was just a little unsure. The scientists had tried to make her faster, better, more powerful. But somehow, something must have went wrong within their calculations, within their prototypes, because she wasn’t just enhanced. Time became too slow, her heart kept beating faster, everything else slowed to a near standstill. That was the day she apparently stopped existing to the world.

She was not sick, she’d tell herself. She was just a little too fast. The world did not see her, though she could see it, she could drink the water and breathe the air. But this world of no one was painful, and so very alone, she had no idea what to do. She wandered to the capitol, living in the clock tower, a ghost that no one saw, a spirit that didn’t exist. That was the day that He appeared and brought her back, if only for a moment.

She was not sick, she’d tell herself. She was just a little tired. Her hands felt heavy, and her head felt like a block of lead. It was horrible of her to think it, but she felt that at least she wouldn’t have to be alone any more. She could feel the blood pumping through every vein, her heart beating itself into arrhythmia. Certainly, she was going to die now, after all of the times she managed to survive. That was why she was brought back to life, for the third time.

She was not sick, she’d tell herself. She was just a little angry. She was tired of standing back as things happened to her, standing down when she knew she needed to stand up. There was something that she needed to do, something that was absolutely necessary to standing up for herself, instead of letting Him take care of it for her. That’s why she went with her friend back to her homeland, to destroy the man that had so deliberately destroyed herself, the Princess of Xi Qin, Tao Hong.
__________________

is daddy still a good man?
like a shotgun needs an outcome

don't trust the ones who shake with their left hand

ACKY: IM NOT A TURIAN I CANT MAEK BABBIES WITH GARRUS

Joe: NOT WITH THAT ATTITUDE


can you fight a legendary creature?


i was a TEENAGE CLAIRVOYANT
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Old 07/03/2010   #10
Baldy
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Cedric, Nessa, and Felicia Rosenfeld
Children Know Best

“Daddy, tell me a story?”
Cedric Rosenfeld blinked. His six-year-old daughter peered up at him, her eyes the only thing visible above the bedcovers. It was one of those rare nights where the man would actually be home from work at Viola to see his family, and as such, his wife, Nessa, had asked him to tuck their little girl in.
Now, Felicia Rosenfeld was a girl used to routine, and so when her dad had pulled the covers up to her ears and kissed her on the forehead goodnight, she had expected a bedtime story. She was surprised that he didn’t know he was supposed to do this.
Cedric sat back down on the edge of little Felicia’s bed. He paused a moment, and patiently the daughter waited for the father to start.
“…sweetie, I’m not a very good storyteller,” he told her after a while. He didn’t want to disappoint the girl, but his knowledge of commonplace fairytales was a little on the lacking side.
“Then make something up,” she countered, stubborn as her mother. Cedric placed a hand on her head while he wracked his brain for something to tell his daughter. Really, the only stories he’d heard in a long, long time were the tales the other scientists back at Viola told about their Destrillians—
“…hmm.”
It could work.

“Well, Flick,” he began, as the girl giggled at the use of the nickname that only her father called her by, “once upon a time there was a really big war. All of the countries in the land started fighting, and they didn’t stop for a very long time. During the war, one country decided to try and make people to… protect, themselves.”
“You mean they made heroes?”
“Something like that, honey. It took a long time, and the people who were involved made a few mistakes along the way – they were human, after all – but eventually, they were finished. All the fighting had ended while these… heroes, were being made, but the people who had made them continued to train them in case it started again.
“Now, each of these special people looked just like a human being,” Cedric continued to his wide-eyed daughter, “but they were super strong and fast. They could jump the space between the buildings in the city, like they were flying”—Felicia gasped in delight—“and they could lift your mom’s car up without even thinking about it. But the really special thing about them, was that each one knew how to control an element. Water, fire, wind—that sort of thing.”
“Like fairies!” the little girl exclaimed, making her father chuckle.
“Some powerful fairies, Flick. The scientists who had made these super people called them…” at this moment, he paused. Neither his wife nor his daughter knew about what really went on at Viola, and he was disinclined to give them any hints. Still, he couldn’t think of any name that better suited the Destrillians than what they were.
“Called them what?” Cedric looked down at his bright-eyed daughter, and decided to tell her a half-truth.

“They called them Dessies, Felicia.”
“That’s a fun name.”
“Isn’t it?” The man smiled, and then continued. “There was Terra, who was the earth Dessie; she could take the ground and make fantastic shapes with it. Thetis was the water Dessie, and she was a shy one but she could do all sorts of things with her powers when she wanted to.”
“Could she make it rain on a really hot day?”
“You bet she could! Fiona controlled fire—she was a little more dangerous. People had to be careful with Fiona, because fire is unpredictable, and Fiona had a bit of a bad temper. Emma Johnson could take that little flower over there,” Cedric said, gesturing to the little flower pot on the windowsill, “and turn it into a big and beautiful garden, all on its own.”
Felicia, by this point, had noticed something. “Were they all girls, Daddy?”

Cedric laughed. “Not at all. There were boys too, like Kerr—he could control gravity, so if you asked very nicely, Flick, he might have made you able to float in the air like a cloud.” Felicia smiled very widely at that. Her smile turned into a pout when her father added, “You would need to ask very, very nicely though. Kerr didn’t like many people – he was a bit of a loner.”
“Oh, he just needs a hug and some soup,” said the little girl, doing an impressive impression of how her mother could act sometimes. All fussy and practical—that was their Nessa. Still, with another chuckle, Cedric resolved to give Dr. Abaddon the advice once he returned to Viola.
“Maybe he does. Erthys, on the other hand, was more social – he could control lightning.” Little Felicia gasped at that. How could one person control such huge, loud lights in the sky? “Ariel was the most friendly of them all, though. She was the Dessie of sound, so…” He tried to come up with one of Ariel’s powers that wouldn’t be out of place in this light-hearted story. “So she could sing better than you and your mother put together.”
His daughter made a “hmph!” sound at that, but listened on, enraptured. “Eve could control snow and ice; she could take a nice day like today was, and make it a snow day for you in ten seconds flat.
“And then, there was Idris.”


He paused. How to explain her, he wondered. Idris had always defied conventional explanation.
Little brown-haired Felicia looked up at her father, ready to hear about the next Dessie and their awesome power. She noticed that he took a while to think. “Idris…that’s a weird name,” she commented, to fill the silence. Cedric poked her on the nose.
“So was Thetis, but you didn’t say anything then. Idris… well, she could control metal. You could give her a piece of it, and in a minute or two she could hand you back a pretty bracelet or a necklace.” The little girl’s eyes lit up as he continued. “Idris could climb up a metal wall just like a spider, if she tried.”
“Ew!” went the little girl, at the mention of spiders. Cedric shushed her, and continued to say “She wasn’t creepy like a spider, though—she was actually very pretty.”
“What did she look like?”
“Well, she was very, very small. In a few years, you would be taller than her, Flick; she had short blonde hair, and these big, clear grey eyes. She smiled a lot, which made her look very approachable, but not many of the other Dessies spoke with her.”
“Why’s that?” asked Felicia, instantly offended.
“Nobody knew—especially not Idris, and she wanted to know the most. All the scientists just assumed that she preferred to be alone, and they were right most of the time, but there was one who knew she was a little lonely because of it.” Cedric’s daughter nodded along as he talked, envisioning a pretty blonde girl sitting alone in a corner, like she used to before she made friends in her first grade class.

“She must have been sad,” Felicia remarked. Cedric nodded, patting his daughter on the head.
“I’m sure she was. But although nobody really talked to her all that much, most of the Dessies liked her, so she was okay.
“Now even though the scientists had made the Dessies to protect everybody from getting hurt in the war, there was no more war going on, and so the Dessies started to get upset. They were kept underground for their training, you see—”

“All that time?!”
“Yes, honey. Otherwise, people might get scared of them.”
“Well I wouldn’t,” she huffed. Cedric smiled at her.
“Maybe, if you ever meet one, you should tell them that. So the Dessies were unhappy with how they were living. They had to train very hard, and it was very tiring work; there was no sunlight where they were kept. Slowly they became sadder and angrier about how the scientists were keeping them there.”
He stopped. He readjusted his glasses, thinking of what came next. The thing was, nothing came next. The Destrillians were kept safe under the many levels of Viola, where they were whipped into top shape for the day that another war came about. That was how it was. There was no end to the story.

“Daddy?” Felicia said, looking at him. “How does the story end?”
But Cedric Rosenfeld was a quick-thinking man, and his answer was a good one. “Why don’t you tell me? How does the Dessies’ story end, Flick?”
“Hmmm!” the little girl sat up a bit in her bed to think. It didn’t take her long to come up with an ending that pleased her. “All the Dessies should escape from the scientists!”
Cedric blinked again. “Oh?”
“Yeah! They should all sneak out and go somewhere where there’s lots of sunlight, and no scientists to make them train. They can live in a big house together, like a family.” The brown-haired girl warmed to her theme, grinning up at her dad. “Kerr can get his hug and his soup. Emma can make them a big garden. Idris... Idris can have friends. Lots of them. And maybe she could make a bracelet or something for… Fiona, right? The one with the bad temper? Because mom always says that if somebody’s angry then a present from a friend will always cheer them up!”
“Do you think they would be happy then, Felicia?”
“Mmhmm!” said the girl, and then proceeded to punctuate her point with a wide yawn. Cedric smiled something of a half-smile, and tucked her back in.
“Then that’s what happened. And they all lived happily ever after. Now it’s time for you to go to bed – goodnight, Felicia. I love you.”
“I love you too, Daddy.”

Cedric got up and switched the light off in her room. He left the door open so that the gentle light from the hall flooded onto her floor—Felicia was still at the age where she didn’t want a nightlight, but didn’t like total darkness, either. Then, he turned and walked down the hallway to the staircase.

The problem with happily ever afters, is that somebody always winds up unhappy. If the Destrillians ever escaped, we would face massive consequences; expensive equipment would get crushed, billions of dollars lost, and people would get hurt. People would definitely get hurt. Your father might not come back from that escape alive, Felicia.

He flicked his hair out of his eyes as he descended the stairs, to join Nessa in the sitting room.

But oh well. It’s just a child’s fantasy, anyway.
__________________

Disappear with the stars and come back alive.

Last edited by Baldy; 07/04/2010 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 07/15/2010   #11
Joe
Default

Hannah Fey - My Storm
Part 1

I knew it. He's definitely staring at me. I'm trying to tell him about something pretty damn important and as usual he's just gawking at me. Things had been like this quite a lot recently; if we weren't filling out a contract, then Deyn was usually off somewhere in the city. Lokka and I had spent a lot of time to ourselves and I didn’t know whether he felt the same or not, but it felt unnatural when we were apart.

"Lokka, are you staring at me?"

It definitely caught him off guard. He wasn't even aware of what he was doing but he tried to compose himself.

"Would you like me to tell you the details again or should I just strike a pose?"

Lokka smiled, something that he'd been doing a lot recently. He didn't like to show feelings like this, something to do with vulnerability. I used to joke like this with Lokka to break awkward silences. He never used to talk so much, especially back at Viola. He kinda stood there and analyzed everything. The staff, the Destrillians, the equipment, everything! I spoke to him a few times back then. He was alone most of the time, even during social hours. Deyn would have conversations with him sometimes and many of the other Destrillians looked up to him.

"If you do both then I might be able to pay attention to what you’re saying."

He was being cheeky. Strange, but it did suit him in a way. I smiled at him and looked into his warming eyes.

"You should get some sleep Hannah, we've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow."

I agreed. It seemed like I hadn't slept at all this last week; we’d gotten some new information about the how the other Viola facility had been run, and it got me thinking about times back then. The thoughts kept me up at night and the memories still dwelled on my mind. I gave Lokka a hug before I went to my room. I knew he'd still stay up late tonight and keep working, reading and checking all of his new files. I looked back at him as he watched me walk off and couldn't help but share a little portion of my heart.

"Lokka....I always loved your eyes."

It had been bold of me, but my embarrassment still got the better of me and I had to take the few strides to my room extra quickly to avoid any uncomfortable silences. Shutting the door I smiled to myself, knowing that the words would go over and over in his head.

My attention focused to the cluttered room I called my own. It was the larger of the three in the apartment and yet it was by far the messiest. Deyn didn't use his room enough for it to become untidy, and Lokka had a very precise filing system for all of his documents. I began picking up some of the more important items that littered the carpet, my gun being the first. When the situation called for it, I carried a Senna VI submachine gun. I'd just gotten used to it over the years, I guess, and I wasn't quite as well trained as Deyn and Lokka in the way of firearms. There were clothes scattered about my room, some having been there for a little over a fortnight now. There was no time for cleaning and tidying in this line of work and even if there was, I doubt I would be motivated enough to tidy something that I knew would be messy again in a matter of days.

Regardless, there were more important things to think about, I thought to myself as I pictured Lokka still sitting outside. We'd been going through the same routine recently and although we were Destrillians, and busy Destrillians at that, it was time to take a positive step forward with our lives. It was clear we both wanted it.

But not now. It was late. As I undressed ready for bed I heard Deyn being let in to the apartment by Lokka. He'd been out on an interrogation mission tonight and it had clearly gone on longer than it should have. In most circumstances the human being questioned wouldn't live, not that it bothered me. That was the reason the three of us stuck together from the beginning. We shared a racial ideal that most of the other Destrillians did not. Many of them hoped to fit in with humanity and others just didn't care much. We were different. We wanted more for our people. More than just a life of hidden identities and looking over our shoulder. We shouldn't have to pay for the decisions made by humans before us. We were better than them. We were stronger, faster and more useful, and there was no way we'd sit back and be used as tools. Especially after everything they put us through. Everything they put me through. Training exercises, harsh procedures, being pitted against our own kind, and for what?

I had powers, I knew that much. Lokka had uncovered plenty of files from Viola that made it seem as though I was progressing with my abilities. But I didn't know what it was I was progressing with! I wasn't ever allowed to see what I had been focusing on. I tried repeating the process multiple times since leaving Viola, concentrating on various items from fruit to bricks. I had even attempted to make an incapacitated human's head explode, but to no avail. My powers were a secret to me—they may as well have no longer existed. They may have served a purpose to the scientists at Viola but that was redundant now. I'd stopped trying to prove my powers years ago.

As my head dropped against the warmth of the pillow, I let my mind wander through a sea of thoughts. Viola, Lokka, The future. They were all things I dreamt about regularly now. That was another speculation I had regarding my powers, I constantly dreamt about the future. The themes and events were reoccurring and realistic; I couldn't help but think whether they were visions. I had shrugged it off though. There was no scientific explanation for realizing the future and it certainly had nothing to do with my training at Viola. I sighed and drifted back into a soft sleep.
________________________________________________________________

'Hannah-zhang...Why is your hair so similar to some of the plants I see before entering the training room? I mean... I mean.. ummm.. I think it's pretty ... your red hair... it's beautiful... ahahahahahahaha!'



Tao blushed and laughed at the same time. She had got very comfortable with me but her shy persona still shone brightly through everything else.

'I like your hair too, Tao, it’s shinier than mine!'


Tao and I were sitting against the wall of the training room while Lokka and Salem fought each other. It was supposed to be a sparring session, but it seemed like they were both fighting seriously, or at the very least Salem was.

Lokka stumbled back against the wall after being blown off his feet by an explosion. I caught a glimpse of Salem smirking as the dust cleared. His usual cocky persona, although still visible, was largely overshadowed in battle by his pure determination to win. Lokka pushed himself off the wall and launched towards Salem for a frontal attack. An explosion triggered in the gap between the two men, but as the dust cleared it was clear Lokka had shielded himself. Utilizing the few seconds between the attack, Lokka thrust the now visible shield wall at Salem, causing him to quickly step left and straight into Lokka's palm. As Salem was forced back he executed smaller explosions all around Lokka, causing him to duck down and shield himself further. The fight played out similarly for a few more minutes until both the boys started feeling fatigued and called an end to it.

I noticed Tao's attention hadn't been on the fight. She had been staring across the room at Kram the whole time. Theirs was a complicated relationship, which seemed like it frustrated the young boy to his very core. Lokka nodded at me in greeting as he dusted himself off from the fight. Salem returned to the corner where Kram had been sitting.

Suddenly the walls started shifting, shadows dancing off them as the very material broke down and fell to pieces. The floor disappeared from beneath me and I began to fall through the air.
_______________________________________________________________

The imaginary fall caused my body to let out a sudden jolt, as I felt the springy comfort of my mattress beneath me. It wasn't just a dream, it had been a real event. It’s relevance, however, was a mystery. I didn't dwell on it too much. These dreams had been frequenting my mind mostly every night for a few months now—just stress, I assumed. I took a glance at the alarm clock next to my pillow and realized that it was reaching now into the afternoon. I let out a loud yawn before stretching my arms and pulling myself out of bed. After a quick trip to the bathroom I began getting dressed, getting ready for the day.


Hannah Fey - My Storm
Part 2 As I finished putting on my clothes, adjusting the maroon tie around my collar, I grabbed the handle of the door and opened it loudly. Lokka was right where I had left him, but atleast he was asleep. Of course I wouldn't let that continue for much longer. I began by lightly nudging his shoulder, but I grew tired of it quickly and started poking and prodding at his chest. Man, he was a deep sleeper.

I let him be for the time being and checked on Deyn. He was still asleep in his own room but would be awake in more than enough time to get ready. He was very prompt. At that point I was glad that both the boys were asleep because my stomach let out a loud, embarrassing grumble. I hadn't eaten at all last night because I had been so busy with all the research. I took a few steps over to the kitchen, where I opened the fridge. Of all the things we had to worry about here, food was never something any of us remembered. Peering into the almost empty refrigerator, I found only four eggs. It would have to do, I figured. Reaching into the adjacent cupboard, I grabbed a full loaf of bread. I began preparing the food and thinking about the day ahead of me.

We wouldn't have to go out on the job till later on, and there wasn't all that much to do until then. Lokka would likely be working through most of it. I decided it might be a good idea to go grab some food for the fridge, and maybe some ammunition. I munched down on what I just made and started preparing some more for Lokka. Sneaking a glance at him asleep on his chair, I decided that I'd wake him up for his food. Sticking the food onto a plate, I picked it up and walked over to him.

After nudging him a few more times, I hit him on the shoulder.

"Lokka, if you don’t get up now, then I'm pouncing on you,"

He woke up gracefully and replied. We had a bit more of a flirt then, as we had had the night before. It was an odd way of letting ourselves go, considering the business that we'd have to attend to later on. You wouldn't expect behaviour of this kind from your average mercenaries. But then, we weren't your average mercenaries. After a short discussion, I announced that I would be heading out for supplies. Lokka wanted me to grab him some ammunition, so with a sly wink, I headed out the door.

Over the course of a couple of hours, I managed to pick up enough food for a fortnight, as well as spare ammunition for most of our weaponry. When I got back, it looked like Lokka hadn't moved from his chair. He was a workaholic, but you couldn't blame him. He'd managed to gather so much information, using only the very few files we managed to steal from Viola before our departure. He had most of the files from our own facility, as well as almost all of the prototype portfolios from Viola's first facility. He wanted to find them. We wanted to find them. And we would.

The clock struck 8 o' clock. If we wanted to be prompt, we'd have to leave now. Grabbing our stuff we left the apartment, bolting it behind us. The three of us strode down the Orange Zone.
It was a nasty place to say the least; I personally preferred it higher up in the hierarchy. We'd had the privilege of working undercover in a big business up there before. The dramatic shift in lifestyles was a lot to take in. Humanity always had a way of pushing their most valued individuals and groups up on a pedestal. It made it all the more satisfying to bring them back down to ground level. Deyn took long strides to assert his position at the front. He kept close enough for us to feel him telepathically, but far enough away for him to seem unconnected to us. This was the perfect time to have a serious conversation with Lokka. I struggled to find an opener for the conversation, so I just took the situation at hand.

"So, is this one any more important than the last ones we took out?"

"Not really. But the information we are getting is another step toward our goal. With this we can track down one of the leading scientists."


They were all connected, our targets. It was what made our web of influence and knowledge so ever-expanding. Still, they all stayed very connected to our primary concern.

"Another Viola goon? I thought we'd tracked down enough of them. We've had no leads on the other Destrillians and they aren't making themselves very visible. How the hell are we going to find them?"

"We need to persevere. We keep at it then we'll find them. We'll get Kram and the others to join up with us—with people like him and Salem at our side, we'll surely be strengthened greatly."

Salem and Kram certainly were strong Destrillians. How they'd react to our cause however, was a different matter entirely. I let my mind wander to the other people I'd known at Viola. Some seemed more important than others.

"What about Tao? Will we find her too?"
 

"We are going to find everyone, even those from the other facility. We'll join together and carve out our own future. If people were to look at us for what we truly were, we'd be thrown aside or destroyed by society. It won’t go down like that. When the tables turn, Humanity will have to answer to us."

He was passionate about his beliefs, that was for sure. Lokka had adopted these ideals long before our departure from Viola. Back then would have been a perfect time to gather up the Destrillians, when we were all in one place. But it couldn’t have happened that way. If we had asked them to give up their chances of complete freedom way back then, we would never have grown to be strong together. We would need time to grow individually before this could happen. As passionate as Lokka was about this, I knew he was hiding another passion from me, from himself.

"And what about OUR future?"


He stopped, hesitant about the conversation's new direction. I stepped closer to him.

"You have a habit of making things harder than they need to be, Lokka."

He looked like he'd completely frozen. It was now or never Hannah, you wouldn’t get this chance again. Without hesitating I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him. I couldn't have been doing it wrong, because before long he kissed me back. We stopped and he gazed into my eyes. He didn't look regretful at all. This was a good sign.

"This is something I want. It is. But we need to focus right now."

That was all I needed to hear. In fact, it was a lot more than I expected to hear. I dropped my arms and continued walking along the path.

"We'll wait until we're home, Huh Lokka?"

"Yes. I'd like that."

It wasn't long after our emotional encounter that Deyn's pace slowed. It meant that we'd arrived.

"Over there"

Lokka continued to instruct Deyn not to use his powers, as the attention it may attract would be a lot to deal with on top of what we already had to deal with. At times it felt like not knowing my powers was a good thing. My identity as a Destrillian was much better hidden, and I had no chance of accidently revealing myself.

I took my Senna SMG out of its holster and continued towards the building that was our objectives, crouched down alongside Deyn and Lokka. All of us were equipped with weaponry, even though we weren't expecting a lot of opposition. Data had stated that we were against five men at most, as well as our target. Data was always correct when Lokka had collected it via his alias, 'Prism'.
We entered the building; it looked empty enough as we crept inside. The event we were crashing was going on upstairs. Locating the staircase we were to use, Deyn rushed in front, followed by myself, then Lokka.

We sped up the stairs. We didn't need stealth at this point; we were already close enough to the room to take them by surprise anyway. We had barely approached it completely before Deyn lifted his leg and smashed straight through the lock on the door. It swung open, revealing....nothing. There was nobody here. We were dumbfounded. The data we received was always accurate, and it wasn't like we--
___________________________________________________________________________



It was a strange sensation.

I hadn't felt any pain at all.

Subsequent gunshots and shouts were nothing but a muffled blur now.

My eyes were open...but...

What was this?

I couldn’t move my body at all.

What was this?!

I could see him. I could see them both.

They were looking at me.

They were trying to help me.

They couldn't.

He looked at me; he looked deep into my eyes.

LOKKA!

Lokka, can you hear me?!

Please.

Please answer me.


He couldn't.

I was dead.

Dead.

I can't be dead.

I can see him.

Could I be dreaming?

No.

The dead do not dream.

This was real.

But surely, surely he knew I wasn't dead.

Was he...was he...crying?

No, don’t go!

Please, please don’t go!


I felt it!

His tear, I felt it on my cheek.

How could I feel it?

I could feel nothing more than this.

Why was he leaving?!

Don’t go, please; I'm here, I'm alive.

Or...was I?

It didn't…make any sense.

I couldn't move, I couldn't do anything but lie here.

...

...

...

My eyes were still open – I could see everything.

Is this what people saw when they died?

No life flashing before your eyes, just the vision of a world without you?

It couldn't be; it didn't make any sense.

The mere fact that these thoughts occupied my mind was enough to tell I hadn't passed on yet.

...

...

...

It was light outside now.

...

...

...

...

...

Why aren't you here?

...

...

...

...

...

I felt, No, I didn't.

...

...

...

There it was again.

Was this real?

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

My...

...

My finger twitched.


__________________

Reject common sense to make the impossible possible!


Last edited by Sheva Alomar; 08/02/2010 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 08/04/2010   #12
Alex
Default

Finn Eliot
Preludes & Nocturnes


FOUR MONTHS AGO

Her eyes opened and the familiar sight met them. She was more used to it than her own reflection by now.

In every direction the dull grey haze spread out more vast and infinite than the universe itself. It all appeared to be composed of smoke, stretching around her in every direction, but whenever she reached out to touch it the smoke always seemed to be just out of her reach. She didn’t even bother this time, resorting to folding her arms and frowning. Her wearied expression long having gotten used to the vast crushing expanse of this dimension.

She didn’t have to wait long this time before objects began to materialise out of the gloom. The sketchy outline of a room. The shadows of its occupants. Hollow voices. Echoes.

“You’re hurt and you need help!”
“I’m sorry have we met?” “What kind of shitty joke is this?” “I think it’s time you stopped playing games” “It’s a surprise to see you here.”

It took some time to discern the individual voices amongst the sea of noise and colour, but finally they could be made out, just barely. Many faces swam in and out of focus. There were so many different people, so many different sets of eyes, so many different types of emotion being conveyed. It was suffocating. Maddening.

Every one of them looked kind of funny though, they had that much in common. Whether they looked aloof, concerned or worried, each one shared the expression of just being lost. Like they shouldn’t have been there to begin with. Yet there they all were.

As the details of the room emerged from the foggy, indiscernible world it became apparent that they had all just woken up out of the pods that were neatly lined up like toy soldiers. It was definitely a place that they didn’t want to be, that was for sure. It was dangerous.

The scene faded away, and all of the lost, confused people seemed to melt away back into smoke. The room itself seemed to dissolve into the background and there was short, intense rushing feeling. The feeling of being pulled along a roller coaster by the shoulders, the kind of rushing that made you screw your eyes up tight for fear of the wind pounding them into jelly.

Wide chestnut coloured eyes opened to find her long lilac fringe had fallen haphazardly over her face as she had been dragged through this void. Frowning slightly in annoyance she pushed it out of her eyes. Eyes that had no pupil, but dark markings against the light brown that seemed to spiral towards the centre.

That part of these dreams was never a pleasant experience. A new room was beginning to materialise, pulling itself together out of the unknown even faster than the previous one. The room was tiny and small, two seats, a wheel. She found herself sitting in the passenger seat of a car, flying through the forest at night. The driver was tall, grizzled and scarred. She let out a small gasp as his face appeared from the shadows, more haggard but just as stern as she had remembered. Jason Spencer, clad in dirty, bloody prison fatigues.

So he was going to escape? Well, that had always been inevitable. He wouldn’t have allowed himself to get caught if he hadn’t known he wouldn’t

The scene left as quickly as it had came and she found herself in a different scenario entirely. The change was much quicker this time, the acrid fog descended and lifted almost within the blink of an eye. She was in a different room now, nowhere she had ever been herself, but a room she was still intimately familiar with. Everytime this occurred to her, this secluded room always bathed in pitch black darkness always flashed before her eyes. Sometimes for a split second, sometimes for what seemed like hours. Always the scene was the same, always. The constant sense of patience was almost as tangible as the darkness that had engulfed the room, or the man who sat there.

His features were mostly hidden in the shadows of the room, only partially illuminated by the light of the dozen television monitors that he peered unblinkingly into. She had never been able to see what he was staring at on those monitors, not once. The screens were always cloudy, or smudged, their content always hidden from her. The man looked the same as ever, what little of him she could make out in the dark room, his face still old, weathered and framed by his pale hair, frozen in a perpetual look of concentration as he studied the unknown displays on his monitors.

The scene was the same but different. She could sense the tension that was in the air, something had happened, or rather was going to happen that had made the usually static atmosphere in this room charged.

The darkness of the room began to eclipse the light from the screens, slowly consuming them, dimming them until nothing but impenetrable blackness stretched out in a yawning chasm all around her. She closed her eyes, the blackness rather than the smoke meant only one thing.


Her eyes opened once again, but slower, wearier than before.

Wincing at the brightness of the bleary world that greeted her waking eyes.

The real world was always much brighter than her dreams.

Finn Eliot raised her hand and rubbed the sleep from her eyes with the overlarge cuff of her pyjama sleeve. Pausing to give a small smile at the fact that even though they were so ill-fitting, she still had a wardrobe full of clothes this size because Spencer had known that she had preferred the snug warmth of the bigger, baggier sized clothes to clothes more her actual size.

He could be so thoughtful sometimes.

Pushing the wild, unkempt fringe of lilac hair out of her eyes, Finn rolled over in the enormous double bed and crawled over to the glass bedside table. It only contained one item, a large black digital clock that not only showed hours and minutes, but also the day, month and year. It had become necessary habit for her to check the clock every time she woke up, to see how long she’d been asleep this time. Obviously it hadn’t been so long this time, those times were always the worst. The times when she’d woken up to find the cold unwelcome plastic feeding tube down her throat because the visions had kept her unconscious for weeks at a time.

“Only two hours?” Finn moaned, seeing the meagre amount of time that passed since she’d nodded off to sleep made her pale, round face crease up in a frown. “That’s a poor excuse for a nap Mr. Clock” she grumbled to herself, knowing that this meant another night of no sleep.

Persephone had asked her the other day, why she had such trouble getting to sleep when using her abilities the way she did, to see visions, was so draining. Finn remembered just scowling at her. Persephone was probably just being bitchy because Salem had put itching powder in her shampoo or something. Not that Persephone ever needed any excuse to be bitchy.

Finn sprung out of bed, her pyjamas bunched up under her feet to keep her small feet warm. Somebody had left the windows open whilst she had been sleeping and now the whole room was feeling the effects of the cold night. Not that it was really night of course, these windows were just there for effect, to cast the illusion of normalcy over this house. But nothing was real here, even the night-time sky out the window was just a holographic projection created by computers and generators somewhere deep beneath this room synchronised to the day/night cycle of the outside world.

Finn had known for a long time that it wasn’t real. Even when it simulated the sunshine outside and the windows and rooms in this building became realistically warm. There was a magic about the real sun, the one that Finn had so rarely seen, that this mechanical construction just could not capture. It was so cold, so artificial. She hated it.

Not bothering to change out of her sunshine yellow pyjamas she walked back across the large room, which in spite of the large comfortable bed had all of the appeal of a hospital ward. There weren’t many happy memories to be found in this room, always plagued by visions, always confusing and sometimes scary. Everything was white too, from the bed sheets to the wallpaper. Finn didn’t like it, much like the artificial night, it was so devoid of life, feeling and personality. Much like the visions, it was so impersonal.

Finn caught her own reflection in the large mirror positioned on the wall of her room, next to the expansive chest of drawers and let out a long sigh. Appearances might not have exactly mattered to her, but even she had to concede that she looked a bigger mess than usual today. Her collar length lilac hair was more messy than usual, despite her best efforts it continued to fall down over her sleep-deprived eyes and stick up in awkward tangles down the back. Her normally ghostly pale skin was even more pallid and unhealthy now than it usually looked. Nearly two weeks of very few hours sleep a night was giving her a distinctly worn out look. Nonetheless she forced an awkward smile onto her face, it didn’t do much but at least it made her look better than the frown that had adorned her face before.

As she stepped out of her room into the expansive corridor outside of it, and felt the soft, expensive ultramarine carpet under her feet she took a minute to examine who cold and dark this place was at night. The elaborate chandeliers that hung down from the ceiling like a canopy of trees were switched off now, leaving the high arches of the marble ceiling in darkness. The facade of the normalcy of a day and night cycle was even extended to the fact that the lights were switched off at night time. Finn mentally grumbled for what seemed like the hundredth time about the ridiculousness of trying to maintain normalcy when you were living in one of the most expansive mansions in the world, constructed below the surface of the Earth.

Making her way down maze of corridors she tried her best not to look at the eyes of the various statues that stood steadfast in alcoves along the wall. Each one of them was anything from ten to a thousand years old, acquired from all over the world, and some worth more than the entire net worth of some of the world’s poorest nations. The cold, unfeeling stone eyes of the gargoyles, warriors, dancers and world leaders always gave Finn the creeps. Though at least the statues lining the corridors were less scary than visiting the portrait gallery at night, something she just refused to do on principle.

It was just unnerving in general. The size and scale of this mansion, and almost always it seemed to be empty. That wasn’t to say that were never any people here. On the contrary, even without the presence of Jason Spencer filling the mansion, there was still a small of army of armed security guards that patrolled the grounds and the mansion itself, and a never ending rotation of scientists and technicians seemed to routinely appear and disappear into the bowels of this underground estate. Finn always found it most peculiar, she had always counted herself as having mapped out every corridor, nook and cranny of her home here. Having tasked herself with exploring the labyrinthine web of corridors, halls and staircases over the years since her transfer from the confines of Facility #2 she had never found any indication of where the mansion had hidden all these people in lab-coats and overalls.

She rounded the corner and approached the Grand Stairway, the entranceway to the main entrance hall of the mansion; which had never failed to quietly awe her in the vastness in its size, and to the ordinary human, overwhelming in the scale, beauty and intricacy of its design. Enormous frescoes stretched from the floor to the shadows of the ceiling, each one depicting humans wearing ornate and ceramic armour and wielding weapons of shimmering gold, descending into cracks in the skin of a scorched and blackened planet to do battle with some nameless monster. Each one of its draconic heads was wreathed in fire and its many clawed arms grasped and groped their way towards the sunlight depicted at the top of the fresco, that was currently hidden in the night time gloom.

In stark contrast to the elaborate and unimaginably expensive decor of the rest of the mansion, the main double doors stood out the same way that a vagrant would stand out on Osea’s Acropolis. They were a simple set of stainless steel doors that connected the mansion to the outside world via an elevator shaft. Come night time, the simple control panel set up next to the door was completely locked down to all but the senior personnel and the security staff. Two of which stood on either side of the door, clad in the traditional black tactical uniform of Viola’s security but were unarmed save for the pistols holstered at their waist. The two men seemed to be swapping stories about their latest night on the town out down in the Audoulan border village and barely seemed to acknowledge the presence of Finn as she made her way down the stairs and rounded the six foot tall lion statue that made up the end of the stone banister on the staircase and pushed open the doors that led into the mansion’s west wing.

She’d always preferred the west wing to the east. There were three different dining rooms here, and in the day time at least, two of them were filled with sunlight from the wall of glass-panelled windows. The third was a much smaller dining room that housed a great black piano, she’d once been told by Salem that the piano was over two hundred years old. But Salem has also once told Finn that if she tried getting out of bed in the middle of the night then Spencer’s pet dragon would climb out from under her bed and eat her. As far as Finn was concerned, the jury was still out on whether or not Salem could actually be counted as a credible source.

It didn’t take her long to pass through to the kitchen, nodding her acknowledgment at a trio of security officers sitting around in one of the dining rooms playing a game of poker. Feeling the ever watchful stares focus on her spine as she let the doors shut behind her. Security guards had always made her uncomfortable. The scars from her time in Facility 2 took more than just a few years to heal.

The automated lights of the kitchen clicked on automatically, illuminating the sea of linoleum and stainless steel that made up the estate’s kitchen. Normally teeming with half a dozen of the finest cooks that Viola’s extensive bank account could hire, it was eerily empty and silent at night. Finn smiled at this and pushed her fringe out of her eyes again, the cooks could be such jerks. More than once they had shouted at the mess that the frail Destrillian inevitably ended up making in the kitchen (or the one time she had set it on fire), but it’s not like it could be helped. The one time she did try to tidy up after herself ended badly enough when she passed out into a vision induced coma midway through the proceedings. By the time she had come too it was almost time for dinner, and her slapdash attempts to hide everything had not gone unnoticed by the more stern of the chefs.

However, Finn Eliot was far too tired and the hour was far too late for her to be concerned with what the chefs would shout at her with tomorrow. If worst came to worst she could always hide. Hiding was easy in this place if you knew all of the rooms and the passageways. She’d had a lot of time to get to know these rooms intimately since Spencer had been imprisoned. She felt a lot more comfortable roaming the cavernous hallways and spider’s web of twisting corridors without knowing that his presence was not looming around the house like some monstrous ghost.

That was not to say that Spencer was unpleasant to her, or was in any way intimidating. Finn found herself reflecting as she pulled open one of the many fridges located in the kitchen and let her eyes be drawn to the enormous plate that lay on the top most shelf of the fridge. It was a plate, at least a good foot and a half in diameter, piled high with some enormously elaborate strawberry jelly. The perfect midnight snack, Finn decided for herself. It was just sitting there waiting to be eaten after all.

The thing about Spencer was that for all of his charm and fatherly care and knowledge, Finn knew inherently that there was something much darker lurking below the surface. Something turbulent and angry, waiting in the dark like some monstrous beast, bathed in shadow and wearing the costume of a sophisticated business man from day to day. She saw it in him. The way he paced around the house like a caged lion, the way he stayed until the early morning light, meticulously planning with either Abaddon or by himself. Then there were the dreams.

Finn nearly dropped the stool she was carrying as she remembered the dreams. Or, more accurately, the visions. The curse of being the Destrillian of Time. Spencer appeared often in them, possible futures for him, clips from his past as the CEO of Viola, his time fighting in the war, and even of his childhood. She had come to the conclusion that Spencer kept Finn in such close proximity because it influenced how often her visions would be about him. Finn had a theory that she was here, in this mansion, and treated so well because Spencer was using her power as a way to plot out the different possible outcomes of every decision he made. It wouldn’t surprise her if this was the case, it would explain a lot.

She slammed the stool down, making a loud crack on the polished linoleum floor that took her by surprise enough to make her jump with fright.

It was so quiet here at night sometimes.

She scowled at the stool with an accusatory glare, almost hoping as though the stool would shrug sheepishly and mumble an apology. The stool remained stubbornly silent and Finn sighed, pulling herself up onto the stool and reaching up to hoist the enormous plate of jelly from the shelf. It had to have been over a day since her last good meal, even though Spencer was usually very good at making sure some food was always delivered to her for when she woke up. Service gone downhill in his absence, and had only gotten worse from there. Which had inevitably led to more late night raids on the kitchen than one would consider reasonable.

She wasn’t even the worst offender either. Just this past monday she had come down to the kitchen to grab a few sandwiches and found that Dr. Malcolm Abaddon (who had seeming taken up permanent residence here since Spencer had left to go to prison), with the dubious help (or hindrance) of Salem was trying to blunder his way through cooking a full roast meal at four in the morning. When she had asked why, he only muttered something about having been working for the past three days none stop.


She didn’t like Abaddon. At least Spencer put on a show of being nice when she was around. He didn’t, his constant attention to every single detail and dedication to work so secret not even Salem knew about meant that he was either constantly stressed or unpleasant. The few times he did seem to be in a good mood obviously coincided with the times that whatever experiments he was working on seemed to be going well.

Finn put that out of mind for now as she dragged the stool over the counter top, producing the most comically oversized spoon (it matched the jelly) she could find from a nearby drawer and began to shovel big heaps of the strawberry flavoured desert into her mouth.

Tonight she didn’t have to think about any of that. Instead her mind was just filled with the memories of the faces she had seen in that vision, of those other Destrillians.

At whatever point they ended up coming together again in the future after being separated for so long could only spell the start of something big. In between enormous mouthfuls of jelly she could only ponder what date in the future the scene she had witnessed in her vision could come to pass.
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Last edited by Alex; 08/04/2010 at 11:15 PM.
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Old 10/15/2010   #13
Alex
Default

Jason Spencer

Origin, part II
36 YEARS AGO
ARAKETH, VAUL.


It was so peaceful here, Jason thought to himself. He wished that he could stay here forever. The sense of contentment was filling every limb and ounce of his being as he just lay here, facing upwards towards a cloudless, azure sky. Relishing the feeling of the soft blades of grass that pressed against his bare back and that spread on endlessly around him. He was lost, blissfully lost, in this ocean of supreme comfort. There were no hard jagged edges here, nowhere rough to scrape your skin on or hard surfaces that hurt to lie down on. Everything here was tailor made to make him comfortable. He closed his eyes and let a smile stretch out over his features for the first time in such a long time.

“Jason!”

He turned over and cracked open an eyelid. Standing a little way up the hill from where he lay he spotted his parents. Not the way he had last saw them, waif-thin, pale skinned and with eyes sunken and hopeless. No, they were healthy, and smiling down at him. His mother, her long brown hair tied back in a neat plait was fussing over a picnic basket, trying to keep the blanket down against the gentle wind whilst his father stood, powerful and tall, smiling down at him, his own dark brown hair slicked back and out of his face.

“Jason!!” the voice shouted louder. His father held out his hand and signalled for Jason to come join him at the top of the hill. The picnic must be ready.

Slowly and reluctantly, the young teenager picked himself up from his grassy resting place and reached behind him to grab the dark blue shirt he had been using to rest his head. He pulled it on and walked slowly up to his parents, it did not even cross his mind that is was peculiar that in spite of how warm it was in these fields that there was no sun to be found in the sky, yet they were still bathed in sunlight.

He grinned at his father, who smiled widely back at him. Even at sixteen, he was getting pretty tall, nearly up to his father’s shoulder. He had always said that Jason would grow up to be big and strong.

“JASON, WAKE THE FUCK UP!”


Like a curtain being snapped open, so the dream was ripped away from Jason Spencer, revealing only the stark harshness of his reality.

“Get up damn it!” He felt the sharp kick to his stomach drive him completely out of the lingering remnants of sleep and his eyes snapped open to reveal the urgent, angry face of Oberon leaning over him, half hidden amongst his long black hair. The familiar darkness of the room disturbed by an eerie orange light.

He still felt warm.

“Whuz goin’ on?”
Jason slurred, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

“The building’s on fucking fire!” Oberon shouted at him, pointing to the far wall. Indeed the flimsy wood and drywall had become engulfed by thick, wiry vines of fire. Jason leapt to his feet as thick wads of fire spat onto his mattress.

“Come on! Pack your shit, let’s go!” Oberon yelled over the crackling sounds of the flames. He didn’t wait for Jason, immediately bolting out of the door, his own backpack already fastened to his back.

Jason wasted little time in following suit, his quick senses almost instantaneously alerting him to the danger situation at hand. He fetched the one-strap bag from the floor, judging from its weight that all of his personal possessions were already all inside the bag he sped off after his friend into the corridors of the orphanage.

It was much worse out here. Flames had almost consumed one half of the building, tearing through the thin walls and leaving corridor, floor and ceiling awash with fire. The smoke was thick and choking. Jason threw up an arm over his mouth and nose to stop the acrid smell of burning in his throat and nostrils.

He felt a strong hand clap him on the shoulder and he was spun around to face Oberon.

“This way!”
he shouted, his voice hoarse from the smoke inhalation. Jason nodded, noting that his friend wasn’t bothering to cover his mouth and nose from the fumes. This was typical Oberon, he thought to himself, completely reckless. Brave, obviously brave, but completely reckless. He charged forward, down the smokiest corridor away from the flames. Jason followed suit, arms and legs pumping, fuelled entirely on adrenalin as the home he had known for the past four years was burning down around him.

Oberon burst through the door at the end of the corridor, not even bothering to open it instead just bounding through the closed door, shattering the flimsy wooden structure straight off its hinges and completely destroying the rotten wood frame, landing heavily on his chest. Jason watched as the shockwave reverberated up the flaming building, causing the burning floorboards to fall from the ceiling, narrowly missing him as he followed Oberon through the door, grabbing his friend by the collar of his shirt and pulling him up onto his feet.

Oberon quickly shrugged of his friend’s helping hand and jogged side by side down the corridor together, grimly noting the blackening wallpaper on the walls, indicating that the fire has spread to within the walls themselves, surrounding them.

“Only one option!”
Oberon shouted coarsely. Jason nodded in agreement, eyes fixated on the window at the end of the corridor, long since devoid of any glass.

The two teens leapt from the ground floor window and landed roughly on the dirty asphalt of what had once been the car park of the orphanage. Jason landing in a painful crouching type position and Oberon collapsing into a hasty roll, the pair quickly got to their feet again, ignoring their injuries from the fire and the jump and continued to jog into the ruined city. Occasionally casting a look back at the skyline behind them, the pitch black sky smudged orange at the horizon, occasionally dotted with pillars of rising black smoke.

.oOo.

The arid climate, perpetual dryness and frequent storms meant that the former capital city of Vaul was now a literal hotspot for spontaneous wildfires started by rogue lightning strikes. Several times a month wildfires whipped their way through the city, each time burning it out time and time again, reducing more and more to ash and blackening more and more of the destroyed city, propelled through it by howling winds. Though windy days carried a far more lethal threat than that of a forest fire. The very real and very deadly threat of lethal dosages of radiation being blown across the city from one of the nuclear bomb sites to the north or the south that. Completely undetectable, the nuclear fallout could not be seen or smelt, so the few survivors had to pay close attention to the behaviour of the scavenging animals that made their home in the city. Birds and rats seemed to have an uncanny ability to detect when deadly gusts of radiation were blown through the city, so keeping track of their movements was absolutely essential for those who sought to eke out a meagre existence in the ruined city.

It was for this reason that Jason Spencer, and Oberon, spent eight hours the following day trying to catch a rat.

“You reckon our old one burned to death?”
Oberon asked out loud, his dark clothing and messy, collar length jet black hair covered in dust from the day’s work.

“Probably” Spencer replied drily. Much like his friend he had cut his long hair in the time since he had arrived in the city. Though to a much greater degree, his own brown hair had been cut very short and was only now starting to grow into a messy thatch.

“You could at least help me out over here”
Oberon grunted as he probed yet another large crack in the wall of the corridor they were currently occupying.

“You’re doing fine on your own” He said patiently, not looking up from the dirty, worn-in book he was reading from.

“You wouldn’t be much help anyway.”
Oberon muttered under his breath. Reaching a lanky arm into one of the cracks in the wall and groping around, a look of concentration etched into his features. Truthfully he did show much more aptitude for the physical aspects of survival than Jason, who seemed much more concerned with planning ahead, rationing their food, or (much to Oberon’s chagrin) teaching his friend to read and write.

“Probably not” Jason remarked, plainly not interested in Oberon’s snide remarks.

Not wanting to ask about what he was reading (in case he decided to force him to read it for himself) Oberon turned his full attention back to the wall in front of him. Gently running his fingers over the surface of the space in between the outer and inner walls of the corridor and the room beyond it, his expression turning grim and exasperated. The floor was smooth, not rough claw marks and dusty lumps of rodent droppings. Nothing had ever lived in this wall.

“Shit. We’re moving on.”
He retracted his hand, picked himself up and marched off down the corridor. With a sigh, Jason lazily did the same and followed him, shoving his book back into his bag and folding his arms.

“What were you reading anyway?”
After seeing that Jason had put away the book, Oberon had decided that it was now safe to enquire as to its subject matter without fear of a lesson or lecture.

Jason smirked at the back of his friend’s head. Oberon made a determined effort not to turn around. Indulging him at this point would only have made the next few hours unbearable.

“Why, Oberon? Interested?”

Oberon cringed, Jason was so smug sometimes that the act of not turning around to punch the older boy in the face caused him genuine physical pain.

“No, jus’ asking.”
His response was punctured by a momentary silence as the two boys reached the gaping hole in the outside wall of the building, and carefully navigated their way down the rubble to street level.

“You should really make more of an effort to read, Oberon. There’s nothing more valuable than an education.”
Jason quipped, the faintest touches of pride in his voice betraying the expensive schooling he had had before the war had brought him to this corpse of a city.

“Did they teach you that in school?”
he asked sarcastically, still determinedly walking a few paces in front of his companion. There was something refreshing about having Jason speak his pretentious quotes to the back of his head.

“Actually it was something my parents taught me.” His voice faltered, as it always did whenever the subject of his parents came up. Four years wasn’t that much time after all.

“Sounds like bullshit to me”
Oberon called back to him with all of the grace and consideration of a steamroller. “A good education might make you smart, but there’s nothing more valuable than power.”

“You think?” Jason asked back, masking the tone of his voice so that it was just questioning. Oberon frowned, he hated it when his friend did this, it made absolutely impossible to read.

“Yeah.” He continued as the two got to their campfire, which was still merrily cackling away in the largest ruined shell hole of an abandoned car park, flanked on three out of its four sides by barbed wire tangled along the top of the low-lying brick wall that surrounded it. The two had barely noticed that the sun was setting. The duo sat down around it, grateful for the relief on their legs after a day’s worth of hard exploration. “It’s all very well being smart and wordy, but when a fight breaks out it all comes down to kicking the other bastard faster and harder than he can kick you back. It always comes down to that.”

“Did they teach you that in orphanage?”


Oberon didn’t say anything, his head turned to watch as the sun hid itself behind the skeletal remains of the high-rise buildings in the city. After four years in each others’ company they still had yet to run out of things they disagreed on.

“If you’re smart enough, maybe you could stop the fight from breaking out in the first place”
Jason ventured, though he instantly regretted saying those words. Knowing he had trodden on his companions toes. He watched as Oberon spat angrily on the ground to his side, stoking the fire with a stick vigorously.

“Don’t be an idiot.”
He snarled back at Jason quietly, “People a damn sight smarter than you couldn’t stop this” he gestured with both arms to the cityscape around them, “From happening. They couldn’t keep millions of people from dying, including our families. So don’t tell me that being smart can stop wars. When it couldn’t stop jack shit from happening to this entire country.” His voice was raw and angry, as Jason had expected it to be. He closed his eyes patiently and waited for Oberon’s voice and breathing to calm down.

“I’m well aware that this war killed our families, thank you very much.” He said quietly, once he was sure that Oberon was listening again. “And I don’t think that you’re wrong. Not entirely wrong, at least.”

“You don’t think I’m right though, do you?” Oberon snapped back testily. His volatile temper still ticking over Jason’s callous disregard of the losses they had both endured, and silently fuming at the cold, uncaring stoic composure of his friend.

Jason declined to answer that question.

The sun dipped below the houses. The flames of the campfire rose higher and burned brighter against the encroaching darkness.

“It’s not just about being strong Oberon. It’s about being smart enough to know when to be strong, where to apply the pressure, and when to back off and let things take their course without your interference. You’d be shocked at how fast things will collapse in on themselves when you just leave them to their own devices.”

Oberon snorted derisively, he knew a lecture had been incoming.

He wasn’t about to admit that what his friend was saying did make some sense.

“Mock all you want man. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.” Jason lay down on his back in the dirt of their crater. “It’s not enough to be strong, or intelligent. In this world you need to be the best of both if you want to make a difference.”

“Is that what you wanna do Jason? Make a difference?”
the tone of Oberon’s voice was heavy with sarcasm, drawing attention to their status as nothing more than a pair of teenage street urchins.

Jason just shrugged, as though he was undecided on the issue.

“Where did you learn all this anyway?” the dark haired youth asked.

“I know you don’t want me to say ‘in a book’, but...” he could feel Oberon sigh wearily from across the campfire. “You should read it, I’ll even help you.” he reached into his rucksack and threw the book he had been reading earlier today over the tips of the flames to land firmly in Oberon’s lap.

“What’s it about?”
Oberon said grudgingly, not entirely wanting to admit to his friend that he had caught his interest.

“Memoirs, Oberon. Of the greatest general who ever lived; we learnt about him in school. He lived 2000 years ago and dabbled in a bit of philosophy, a bit of science, then conquered most of the known world...”

“And his name was Viola?” Oberon scoffed, reading the name from the cover. “What a stupid name.”
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Old 10/24/2010   #14
Hisako
Default

Jettison Brand

The Brand Recall

The midnight swell of the sea was illuminated by pale moonlight, as a boat floundered barely above the waterline like a drowning dog. Even with the size that the luxury yacht had, the ocean in this part of the waters was feral, swallowing up and pulling down even the flotsam that floated. Sea foam collapsed on top of the boat in waves as it continued to struggle to surface its head from the pounding that the wind-storm was inciting. The boat itself seemed to shimmer in a haze as the roaring of the sea was briefly overcome with a scream and gunshots.

A young child flew out from a cabin door, tangling herself onto the railings as the whole yacht dipped back into the black-blue maw of the waves. Her mouth was open, but no more sound came out except for the choked gurgle that followed the seawater expelled from her stomach and the blood in her airways.

A second figure appeared from the cabin doorway, the gun in his hand casually resting by his side as he grabbed onto something beside the door to brace against the returning swells. He lifted his gun, and fired.

He fired as much of his bullets at the child as he could, who replied with a rasping, gurgling whimper lost in the howling gale. He moved away from the safety of the door onto the deck to put a final shot between the girl's eyes to put her down for good.
The luxury yacht hurled itself forward as a wall of water struck from behind, and the man with the gun was thrown along the deck by the force. Even as his body struck the ground, his trigger finger had registered his intent, and went off once more.

The child finally found the effort to scream again, her animal howl cut short as a wave crested almost completely over half of the boat. It untangled her from the railings, into the sea.

She could not see: blood, her blood was in her eyes, washed away by sea water which forced them shut again as the waves swallowed her under. She fumbled for a hold on the yacht, grasping at nothing as the water had already thrown her several feet away from the hull of the boat and several feet under sea level. A searing hot pain enveloped the top of her head and her entry wounds, meeting the crawling icy numbness over the rest of her body.

Nearby, the waves intensified once again into a gargantuan wall of water, managing to catch the yacht on the side like a charging beast. The boat groaned as it was turned on its side and collapsed into the depths, corpse-like.
The resulting ripple swept the girl up to the surface, with the gales blowing stinging sea foam into her blood-spattered face. Kicking to stay afloat, she managed to grab onto something by reflex as it collided into her chest, a sharp corner digging into her collarbone like a blunt knife. As she floated on the surface, the pain chewed away at her consciousness until she felt nothing.

***

The dim of the morning sun broke through the early fog and chased it away, leaving the shimmer of a calm north ocean. The man at the helm of the mid-size trawler, bloodshot eyes and rope-burns instead of skin on his hands, chewed on a well-worn toothpick that had weathered last night’s storm not nearly as well as he had. The hustle and bustle from last night was still lingering, men down on the deck still moving about with a sense of urgency.

But without the sense of dread and the fear of a watery grave present a few hours back, the atmosphere was considerably less tense. Morning meant sunlight, and sunlight meant visibility, warmth, and perhaps hope. The skipper even heard a laugh or two as the chatter continued. Laughter was good. His good-for-nothing youngest brother doctor had once said, “laughter was food for the soul”. He had no idea what it meant, but as the man threw his toothpick over the edge of the ship and replaced it with a fresh one from the box in his back pocket, he felt he was getting closer to understanding his academic-turned-alcoholic sibling’s ramblings.

He turned back to the bridge to adjust the wheel he set on an automated course, but his elder brother had already taken the wheel, giving him a knowing smile and a thumbs up. The skipper had had misgivings, but apparently the hour he had let his brother sleep below deck was now an hour well invested.
It was good to know there was still family in the family business.

Still, last night’s storm came completely out of the blue. If the news had said anything about the front moving north out from Artolia, he wouldn’t have bothered sending the ship out in the first place. According to his younger brother back home, the air was moving southward, at first. Then it suddenly turned its tail and brought full-force gales past every town near the mountains, knocking down communications for most of the night.
Luckily, the skipper had directed the trawler in roughly the same direction; they weren’t too far from course and they could perhaps come home before the end of tonight, perhaps with a catch large enough to pay back the cost of the repairs the boat needed now.

He snorted. He certainly wouldn’t be finding anything at this point in time. Even the most adventurous and stupid fish wouldn’t be moving out from the bottom of the ocean this soon after this sort of weather. But later, in the afternoon, there might be something worthwhile.
His brother’s keener, more alert eyes picked up on a body in the water.

They cut the engines to calm the water around them, and gradually they were close enough to fish the body out of the water. It was the body of a very young girl, holding onto a piece of what appeared to be a ship’s mast.

“Get the loops around her waist and under her shoulders! Easy now!”

“That’s a helluva split head!” A yell of surprise as they eased her onto the deck of the trawler. "Think the debris did that to her?"

“Wound is too exact. Looks like a blade sliced the top of her head. Or a bullet.”

“Bit early to be jumping to conclusions about being shot an’ all-”

“She’s taken a few.” The skipper picked at the fabric of the girl’s clothes, tracing his fingers briefly over the punctures in her thin shirt. “Only one thing to do now. Let’s turn this ship around. Rick might be able to save her, if she isn’t dead by the time we get there.”

“She’s not dead already?”

“Her lips are moving, but…” The skipper pulled the girl’s eyelids up a fraction, revealing only whites. “I don’t think she knows it.”

“Yeah, right. Rick’ll be able to save her. Right after he stops pissing his booze dry.”

“You shut the fuck up now, kid. I’ll make him clean up.” As right as the crew hand was, the skipper wasn’t one to let people jab at his family. “Let’s wrap that head wound up first, and get this boat going again.”

***

Rick Castor, M.D, ex-M.S, threw his cat off his stomach as he sat up on the bed to reach for the brandy on the table. The cat, apparently used to this already, landed with an indignant stare, but quietly padded off to some other corner of the room. Rick stumbled off to another corner of the room to shut the window blinds letting in the irritatingly cheerful afternoon sunlight, but tolerated enough light to illuminate the room for him to see what he was drinking.

Svarog Plains, B.A – budget age. The bottle he had last night. Apparently he hadn’t finished it this time. He supposed it was an improvement, even if a somewhat dubious one. Although his progression was nothing compared to the condition of the girl on the table. The priest up on the far side of the hill balked at giving, or even selling him anything stronger than the wine they had, which was tantamount to grape-flavored water. But, at the very least, there was lots of it. And there was no denying taste.

The number of gunshot wounds that girl had sustained when the rest of the crew had brought her in led him to believe they were already carting in a corpse. But he found a fluttering, weak, pulse – she was very much alive, even if very much in a coma.
The entry wounds were extensive, especially for gunshots to the back, but the wounds were cauterized, and the flesh sterilized and washed by sea water. Her skin seemed hardened, and the muscles wrapping around her back seemed permanently drawn taut. Even Rick’s sharpest scalpel and needle had difficulties cutting through to the wound.

And then there was what he found under the skin. He found himself cutting into strange implants, warped around her vital organs. It was here where he found most of the bullets, embedded less than an inch into them. He dared not remove the implants for fear of causing any more harm than good, but he presumed their effect: the bullets were of a monstrous caliber. The closest in size he had ever seen were the shells in his brothers’ hunting rifles – this was beyond big game hunting.
Had these implants not been in place to absorb the vast amounts of shock from these bullets, the shots fired would have most likely torn her apart.

He moved his attention to the head wound as soon as he could, resolving to focus himself away from the alcohol. The Svarog Plains brandy lay out of reach for a long time.
The blood loss from the head wound was likely one of the reasons why the girl was so near death; the longer he spent trying to clean the wound, the more afraid he was that the girl would suddenly die from whatever bruising and bleeding he had found under the skull. For that matter, the skull was absurdly difficult to drill through: He presumed there might have been some sort of ceramic plates laid into the skull, but after several resharpenings of the saws, he finally had enough space to minimise the damage that the bruising to the mid-brain region had caused, finally suturing the gash along her scalp after what seemed like an eternity. Miraculously, the girl had survived.

By the end of the entire ordeal, Rick collapsed back on the bed with the bottle of brandy as his re-established anchor, but a sense of satisfaction spread in his smile. He was a drunkard, but not a useless drunkard. And his new patient could even wake up in the next few days.

The first signs of awakening, unsurprisingly, were unintelligible groans. Rick fought through his stupor of morning sleep, gently pushing his cat off his stomach as he slowly sat up. Startling movements were the last thing he needed for the patient.

“Who… where am..?”

Rick made his way to the girl, still immobile on the table. “I’m a doctor. You’re lucky to be alive, dear. How are you feeling?”

The girl now fought to retain some of her energy in the response, although she could only present the listlessness in her eyes. “… it h- hur…”

“The pain will pass. It was probably unbearable before, so at least it won’t kill you now.” He gently laid a hand on her shoulder. “My name’s Rick Castor. What’s yours?”

“Na- name…” Her eyes widened, perhaps in fright, as she turned her head to the window, the sunlight so clear and golden from the windows. “I… they- jett-ah… jettison…”

***

“You’ll remember everything over time. It may take days, weeks, months, even years. But it will come back.”

“I – want to… leave me alone.”

“Don’t you want to find out what you need to know? Who you are, how you got here?”

“Do you know?”

“If you listen, it might help. You speak multiple languages, especially during your sleep. You also have a mastery of many regional accents, a whole lot of accents that I don’t know of. I know only those in Artolia and a few off neighboring countries. The slight brogue you’re speaking with now isn’t from your natural tongue. You’re using it only because everyone else here does.”

“What’s my – natural tongue then?”

“Honestly? I don’t know. You’re obviously the most proficient in Basic. Also, I can’t place your age. Normal physiology would place you at roughly 6 years of age, but your physiology, and intellect, is far beyond anyone 6 years old.”

“Wha… what are you trying to tell me?”

Rick sighed at the girl’s closed expression. “I’m saying that someone has done terrible things to you. To your insides. I don’t know what they’re for, but I could hazard a guess. I am a doctor, after all.”

‘Jettison’ scoffed at the sight of him turning the bottle of brandy to his lips, the most outward display of emotion so far. “A doctor.”

“Yes. A doctor who saved your life. Don’t forget it.”

“Sorry.” Her eyes turned curious, questioning, at Rick. “Why aren’t you doing, you know, doctor stuff at a hospital or something?”

Rick’s lips curled into a smile of distaste. “I used to. I poured my heart and soul into the job, and eventually I broke under the stress. Now I’m back home, sitting behind the family business.” He pointedly said the last few words with an air of finality, punctuating it with a last, emptying swig of the brandy. He had already spent enough time in the past pondering his downfall.

“Sorry.”

“You apologise a hell of a lot. I’m undecided on whether or not that matches your profile.”

“P-profile?”

“You’re full of contradictions. You lack a sense of duty or moral fibre, but unlike a child you always follow given orders without question. You’re inquisitive when you need to be, but not because you’re interested, emotionally invested in the topic. You have – had, it seems – a strong tolerance but also aversion to pain. Some of this, I might add, could be linked to child abuse. But from our talks, nothing mentioned about parents seems to elicit any emotional response that would likely appear under an influence of family abuse, which even for an amnesiac might trigger something.”

“What… what does it mean to you? I don’t understand.”

“It has implications beyond imagination, but there’s one thing that might stand out.” Rick took out from under his chair a small burlap sack, and untied it, emptying its contents out on the table between Jettison and he. A pile of junk metal parts lay in front of her.
“Pick the pieces out and put them together. Start with this.” Rick picked out a nondescript steel rod, and handed it to her. Jettison eyed it warily.

“But… I don’t know what – what is this?”

“It’s a puzzle. Pick the pieces out, put them together. Try.”

She hesitated, looking at the rest of the pile. After a moment, her face relaxed, her expression blanked, fingers smoothly moving around the pile and picking out various parts of metal that stood out in her head.

She thumbed a conical-cylindrical lump into the hollow of a jagged block, slid it into the convenient space below where she was holding the rest of the puzzle, the top half sliding cleanly forward with a click –

And she aimed the semi-automatic handgun square between Rick Castor’s eyes, a single bullet chambered.

Her vision slid out and into focus as her mouth opened and closed in gasps, confusion clouding her mind as Rick gently prised the gun from her hands. “I’ve never… I didn’t know what…”

“I know.” Rick swept all of the bits and pieces off the table, back into the bag. It didn’t help that he had given her one and a half guns (the half of which was a different make) to assemble amongst the rest of the junk, and she had picked out the exact parts with which to assemble the whole one. “That was under twenty seconds. A very throrough knowledge of firearms, and all the surgery done to you – the profiling indicates you as some sort of child soldier, but it still doesn’t explain everything.”

“How can I remember how to make guns out of parts, but not remember why?”

“Part of it is the physical damage. Another part seems to be psychological blocks placed in, perhaps purposely. Perhaps caused by the head wound.”

“And it’ll come back after a while, you said.”

“Yes. Instinctive actions come back first: attention to detail and learning, mannerisms and speech. Drilled-in training like the ability to field-strip and reassemble firearms. Actual knowledge and memory of things, places, actions – not quite so easily.” Rick got up from his chair, and pulled down a few medical textbooks and another bottle of brandy from a nearby bookshelf.

“With time, comes experience, and with experience, triggers may come which will help you remember your past -”

“I don’t.”

“What?”

“I don’t want to remember.” Jettison, despite her fatigue and post-operative strength, wrung her hands on the table like talons. Racking her mind over the handgun still in the burlap sack under the table. “Whatever it is, I don’t want to care. No more pain.” She looked up at Rick, face impassive, but her eyes pleaded volumes.

Rick nodded.

"No more pain."

__________________
死の果までも追い掛けます、 探し出し
奪われた物全て取り返して見せる

RIP in peace old sig lolol 04/2015




Don't believe your eyes? Don't be surprised.





Last edited by Hisako; 10/24/2010 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 10/28/2010   #15
Sheva Alomar
Default

Fiona Myrwind vs. The Infinite Rage

“Waste of life.”

Slap.

“Sack of shit.”

Jab.

“Stupid child.”

Push.

“Useless.”

Punch.

“We don’t need you anymore, so these people are taking you away. Be glad that someone else is bothering to put up with you.”

Slam.

“This one is expendable. See what happens to her with the most volatile test yet to be successful. We need more results with it.”

Stab.

“Doctor, she survived! Vital signs are unstable, though.”

“Well gentlemen, it seems that we may have just found our monster.”

“Monster.”

Monster.

Burn.


~~~


Skin peeling. Blood boiling. Body aching. Heart racing. Perpetual pain pulsed throughout her body with no hope of being purged from her.

“Good morning Number Four.”

It had been one whole year since the initial transformational treatment, and the uncontrollable fire that now flowed through Fiona Myrwind burned away her former life and memories. The biggest indicator was her physical form morphing violently: eyes turning from a dark green to a piercing orange, a shaved head of fine hair that was almost a white colour and a gaunt physical appearance overall. These changes made it crucial that she be fed water and food for most, if not all day and night through IVs. Even in this poor state that her body displayed, it yielded no sympathy from those that studied and manipulated her.

Her primary overseer, Dr. Finley Fringe now stood before her, glasses resting on his sword-tipped nose with icy eyes. Those sinister orbs studied her still body in the orange cryo gel, the wheels in his head turning, thinking about all the sorts of fun he was about to have with his personal experiment.

“It’s time that we begin your training today, my dear. It has been confirmed that you have had ample time to acclimatize to your abilities and essentially new body, so we will not stall the rest of your progression any longer. Since I am such a courteous gentleman I will also ensure that we start you out with the most basic agility skills of your regimen. Now, let’s get you out of her pod.”

Without any refusal, Fiona quietly made her way to a small training room full of weight equipment. She was hooked up to more machines than the ones meant to keep her healthy in her cryo pod. They all beeped and flashed tediously, a choir of murmurs supplying an irritating melody. Beep. Hum. Pierce. Sting. Pop. Murmur. Beep. Hum. Pierce. Pinch. Sting. Pop. Murmur. Snicker. The caretakers and scientists observing this first exercise for the fire destrillian left her there, entering an adjacent room with a glass pane overlooking her area. A loudspeaker sounded off.

“Step on the treadmill, Number Four.”

Beep. Tap. Sting. Tap. Sting. Tap. Sting. Hum. Whisper. Fiona stepped up onto the machine, a tensed look about her. It had become somewhat bearable to tolerate the constant agony of her body when she was being fed nourishment through her IVs, but being stripped of all of that to stand alone after a year was excruciating. Heat. Heat. Heat.

“Begin Destrillian Prototype #000-000-004 Test Number One Point Zero, Primary Speed Examination. Number Four, start jogging.”

On cue, she began to jog in place, the treadmill coming to life beneath her feet. A pained look crept up as minutes went by, keeping pace.

“Faster.”

Fiona ran faster.

“Faster.”

She gritted her teeth.

“Faster.”

Getting hot.

“Faster.”

Chafing.

“Faster.”

Skin breaking. Too hot. No air. No water. What were they doing? Were they keeping her alive just to see how long it would take her to die on this dreadful contraption? What did they want from her?

“Stop.”

Fiona barely kept her footing as she stumbled and fell to her hands and knees, gasping for air. Her throat was beyond the point of being dry and her eyes were nearly completely red. Caretakers rushed in and replaced the monitoring devices with heavy doses of water; an IV, and four two-liter bottles for her to guzzle down. They wrapped bandages around the patches of her skin that had split open and applied several frozen cloths to her head. They stayed with her until Dr. Fringe came back into the room, writing down last minute scribbles onto his clipboard.

“Enough of that nonsense, now! We can’t spoil her; Number Four needs to build up her physical tolerance if she’s to be one of Viola’s finest.” He examined her as she swayed slightly back and forth, trying to stand up. The lead scientist held an indifferent look, waiting until Fiona was fully upright. He turned on his heels and headed for the door.

“Come along, little Destrillian. Keep up.”


~~~


Yelling. Fighting. Hurting. Killing. Aching. The codename Blazing Fury was about to have far more meaning than intended.

Over the next two years, Fiona slowly came into her abilities as Viola had hoped for. Her body could stand to go without special care for weeks, even months, at a time and filled out with muscle and healthy weight. Her hair had grown into short, spiky, mild variety of yellows and oranges, as well. She was only 11, but the science team that was focused on this prototype saw great potential in her for the future. Finley Fringe left many Destrillian briefings with his head held high, running off statistics and rates of improvement of his precious “creation”—her obedience and growing proficiency with her element of fire. Little did they realize that a variable of sorts had been brewing within Fiona since she grew to become comfortable with her new form.

Examination and Assessment: Striker Lambda TPL Seven Point Nine, commencing.

It was another offensive exercise, the most difficult to date—or so Dr. Fringe briefly mentioned over the loudspeaker of the training room. The scientists monitoring her trial today didn’t expect a full victory from the Destrillian of fire, so they all watched in anticipation of just how far she would go before defeat overwhelmed her.

3..

2..

1..

A deafening buzzer went off and Fiona was surrounded by five military personnel. They all carried miscellaneous weapons ranging from stun rods to a medium-ranged semi-automatic taser gun.

Finley Fringe's voice came over the loudspeaker once again. "Fight until you are told to do otherwise."

Prototype #004 stood crouched, eyeing her adversaries carefully. She didn't bother to acknowledge her scientist's order, nor had she for quite some time. Fiona just awaited whatever trial she was faced with, no longer surprised by any of the "plans" set forth for her progress as a Destrillian.

The training exercise started like any other: Blazing Fury applied all of the combatant techniques she had been taught, coupled with her steadily growing capacity to wield her element.

What seemed like a small team of easily dispensed soldiers turned into an extremely draining session of perpetual fighting. Once the first five men were taken down, another few expendable soldiers stormed into the room. For a brief moment just seconds before, Fiona thought today was going to be an easy day. Then again, that was never the case for her.

Punch. Dodge. Burn.

"Keep fighting."

Kick. Shock. Melt.

"You cannot stop now!"

More punching. More dodging. More burning, kicking and pain.

"Number Four, do not sto--"

"Will you SHUT THE FUCK UP?!"

"I will do no such thing, Num--"

"NOW!" Fiona chucked a rather large fireball right at the observation room's window. It left a black circle on the surface, the pane being reinforced for such an occassion.

"I'm tired of being your little slave. I've had enough of this torture. Everytime I've wanted to just sleep or lie down you pull me away to show off to your other white-coat friends, or you throw me into one of these places and make me do everything you say! No more stupid rules, no more tests, and no more pain! I'll give you all a taste of just what hell I've been through!"

Her eyes. They had always been an orange colour, ever since she has been turned in a Destrillian--but never like this. Fiercely did they glow from under her bangs as she stared down the reflective window, almost convincing the group on the other side that she could see them when she spoke. Almost as if there was nothing between them. It wasn't safe. The men stuck in the training room already appeared to have become frantic from this shift in the fire Destrillian's behavior. They were soldiers, what was stopping them from outright attacking and restraining her?

"Dr. Fringe, it seems that the temprature in the arena is rising at an alarming rate!"

"What?!"

Fiona could here the disturbed chatter and her smirk emerged. "They're roasting in here. Might want to let them out."

The grunts had fallen to their knees. The room itself had a heat shimmer about now and their faces were going pure red. The fire starter walked right up to one, grabbing him by the collar and launching him at the same singular observation window. When the roasting soldier's body met the glass, blood splattered all over and he fell to floor still. "You humans are so tender, I swear!" She let out a maniacal laugh. "Better bring some mops while you're at it, Fringe."

The scientist was watching in disbelief. What had happened? Prototype #004 had been such an obedient creation. Where had he gone wrong? He'd conditioned his specimen to the letter. This was impossible.

"Sir! What are we going to do? This prototype is out of control!"

"C-call the special team in to restrain her and-and clean up after those...frying corpses."

Fiona went back to laughing and tormenting the rest of the poor souls stuck in the training room with her. Blood sprayed here and there, onto the white, pristine walls. "I'm not going to take any more shit from you assholes. Burn until you're ash! HAHAHA!"

"NUMBER FOUR!"

"FUCK YOU, SHORTY!" The fire Destrillian snapped her head back towards the window. "In fact..." Her glowing orange orbs focused right to where she knew the vertically challenged doctor was standing and she charged straight for the spot. "Let's have some quality time together!" She clenched her fist as flames surrounded it and punched the pane as hard as she could. A crack. That was a start. Fiona punched a few more times. The crack grew larger. "Come on out and have fun with your favourite Destrillian!"

"Or not."

#004 would not give up on breaking the glass between them, that is, until a fine needle made its way into her neck. It took a moment, but the fire prototype fell limp into the hands of a fully armoured officer. She was put in a specially-made straight jacket and bound to a gurney. The heat in the room had quickly dissipated, stabilising to a normal temperature once again. Finley Fringe came in minutes later, dabbing his now perspiring forehead.

"Th-thank you fine gentlemen for your assistance here. Please take Number Four to an appropriate restraining room until we can properly evaluate the situation." He looked at his specimen for a moment, trying to hide the shiver that ran down his spine. "It seems that we may have to keep this one on an extremely tight leash for the remainder of her stay."


~~~


Not long after her first session of violent outbursts came more, and more. More temper tantrums than any of the Blazing Fury observation team could keep track of. Finley Fringe became infuriated and overly stressed over this sudden rebellious behavior considering how valuable his subject was to the overall mission of Viola. There were a series of meetings held regarding the fire prototype’s status with the company. The final conclusion? Destrillian Prototype #000-000-004 was to remain under heavy surveillance and guard, under no circumstance being threatened with a death penalty. She was one of their top specimens: she was becoming more and more proficient with the flame element, and there were no tangible replacements. As difficult as Fiona was, she was far more of an asset in the long run…

”You little monster! You WILL obey!”

WHIP

”We are your masters and you will never leave this place until WE say so!”

SHOCK

”Enough, Dr. Fringe. Leave Number Four here to let the pain and words sink in.”

The thick steel door shut with a resounding slam, Fiona not bothering to react to what sounded like a mild smack to her. She stood strapped to an upright five-pointed crucifix in the middle an ice-cold room, now beaten, battered and bruised. Blood trickled down and froze onto her scantily clothed body. Her head hung there, all strength sapped from her. Silence for what seemed like ages. And then a melodic tune.

Hope is behind…

The world ahead…


And there are many paths to tread…


Through shadow…

To the edge of night..!


Until the stars are all alight…


The lyrics weaved through her the back of her mind like a soft lullaby, but she couldn’t tell where it was coming from. It sounded as if it came from every direction. Maybe insanity had finally been pounded into her. The song was sung again and again. A chill went down her spine that wasn’t caused by the room temperature.

A hand came from seemingly nowhere and gently cradled Fiona’s face. For a split moment, she thought it was another Viola goon, but the touch was too tender for one of those creeps. Feeling ran through the fire Destrillian and she knew that this person in front of her was like her. #004’s eyes slowly opened and orange met compelling violet.

She had black and white hair—piano keys came to mind.

"You looked like you needed to see a friendly face," Destrillian 000-000-012, Ariel Regan said softly. Her voice barely above that of a gentle whisper, as though anything louder might cause Fiona genuine physical harm.

#004 blinked and then her eyes rolled to the back of her head in disbelief. "They must have really hit me hard this time. You can't be real."

Ariel smirked and raised a hand to Fiona's forehead, moving slowly to let Fiona's wondering eyes follow her movements. Then, without warning, she coiled back one finger and flicked Fiona hard in the centre of her forehead. Not hard enough to hurt her, that would have been the last thing the fire Destrillian needed right now, but hard enough to give her a shock at least.

"That felt real, right?"

The fiery redhead shook her head back and forth and looked at Ariel with a half-hearted snarl. "Yeah."

Ariel grinned back at her. "See? Real. Real as real could be."

"You're the first person like me I've seen. Where did you come from?"

"About four rooms down the hall?" Ariel guessed, crossing her arms and tilting her head upwards. "It's kind of hard to tell. You aren't the first person like me that I've seen."

"Damn bastards never let me out of their sight anymore. They must be hiding me like some kind of rabid dog." Fiona was speaking more to herself as she pulled her gaze away from Ariel's intriguing eyes.

"They rarely let me out of their sight too, but I know we aren't alone. Sometimes I hear other kids. Like us. But I figured out a way to put the guards outside my room to sleep, its how I got out." The uncertain tone of voice swiftly hardened into one of pride at this last declaration. "Do you want me to get you down?" The concern was almost tangible in her words.

A silent nod was all she replied with and with strange ease the older Destrillian eased the firestarter out of her retraints. Weak from the frozen room, Ariel helped her down and out of there. As they stepped into the main corridor, Fiona looked at the two armed guards waiting there in surprise. They looked to be off in their worlds. #004 looked to her new friend. "What did you do to these assholes?"

"I think they're paralysed," she said nonchalantly, watching with a slightly bemused grin at the statue-still looks of surprise that hung unmoving on their faces. "I can do that, too."

"My name is Ariel, by the way. The scientists here call me #012, but my name is Ariel."

"Fiona. The douchebags here call me #004."

"Nice to meet you," Ariel said cheerfully. Compared to the vicious comments of the scientists or the authoritative barking of the guards, her genuine voice was like a breath of fresh air in the sterile Violan corridors.

There was an awkward pause before the fire Destrillian spoke up. "Yeah." Even though it certainly wasn't the most pleasant of responses, the older prototype knew she meant well.

Beyond their first brief meeting, soon cut off by a stray third guard patrolling the hallways not too far away, the two Destrillians kept in touch from time-to-time. This usually ended up meaning Fiona got into trouble and Ariel would once again slip into the frozen holding cell. Eventually, all of the prototypes of the facility were placed in a recreational area of sorts and interracted. Fiona was finally exposed to the rest of her kind, but still only spoke to #012. Even then it was mostly in private via their newly developed form of telepathic communication. If she were forced to speak to any of the others, it was usually met with a threat or some other form of rude behavior--verbal or otherwise.

Ariel Regan was the Blazing Fury's only outlet during her time in Viola.


~~~


Finley Fringe stormed into the fire Destrillian’s room, barely waiting for the door to slide open. He threw his tattered clipboard to the floor and pounded on the pod’s reinforced glass.

“Get up!” He shouted. The doctor couldn’t tolerate anything right now. “He wants me to partner up with Rosenfeld! Why would I ever do that?! The man can’t tie his own shoelaces let alone properly handle a Destrillian! I’ve seen how he treats his precious Gunmetal Glint. It’s sickening; you’re our creations, not pets or children! This isn’t a casual project, this is the biggest investment of Artolia’s federal income! Well, I won’t let him have any say in your actions. You were assigned to me and as such you will only take orders from me!” Fringe was speaking to himself at this point, but he couldn’t help let out his frustration that Spencer was impeding on his personal specimen and work. He slammed his fist down on the calling monitor to Fiona’s caretakers. “I’d better see you people down here in five minutes with two large doses of tranquilisers and restraints!”

As was the routine now, Fiona was drugged and had her wrists and ankles "delicately" placed in shackles. She was guided to the large training room where another Destrillian was patiently waiting. Fiona’s caretakers took off the restraints and bolted for the exit, leaving the two prototypes to themselves. The drugs were wearing off fast, so Fiona was able to compose herself and get a good look at the other person stuck in here with her.

“And look at what we have here. Good afternoon, Fiona.”

“Ah, shit. Why am I stuck in here with Baldy?” She barely flicked Idris a glance and focused right on the small mirrored pane that looked over the room.

“Fiona...” began Dr. Rosenfeld, Idris' primary overseer—only to be interrupted by a low growl that seeped through the loudspeaker. Fringe refused to refer to the fire prototype as anything but “Number Four” and he certainly wouldn’t let someone like Rosenfeld get away with it. “...I mean, Number Four. Today's training is focusing on teamwork. As soldiers, you need to learn how to cooperate, and how to make use of one another's strengths. You've been paired up with Idris, as it were, to perform something of a tag team. To win this battle, you won't be able to just have at them on your own. The two of you are going to have to work together, to combine your talents and—”

It sounded as if a small scuffle broke out in the observation room for a brief moment before Dr. Fringe took over the microphone. “Number Four and Number Nine: simply put, this is another exercise where you are to keep fighting until we say otherwise. No breaks, no help, no nothing. Fight with everything until you can no longer handle it.” The microphone made a thud and choice words like “unprofessional” and “novice” barely made it through the loudspeaker.

A straight line of fire split the room right down the middle, Idris and Fiona on either side. The fire Destrillian stared over the wall of flame at her training partner. “You stay on that side and I stay over here. You take the peons that go over there and I get the idiots that march my way, understood?”

“Whatever you say, Sparky.” The metal Destrillian flashed her fire counterpart a knowing grin.

As if on cue, a terse, boisterous alarm sound went off in the room and ten men equipped with electro rods stormed into the large arena. A few nearly tripped over the melted space of floor, where the flames had just gone out.

“Too easy.” Fiona swept through the several victims foolish enough to veer toward her. She dealt a spinning backhand to the first man, square in the nose as she grabbed the pole of another circling her. The fire Destrillian used it against him by guiding it (while still in his hands) fiercely into his own stomach, overloading his nervous system with 10,000 volts of lethal electricity. Needless to say, he fell to the ground violently convulsing with a heavy scorch mark where the rod struck him. The other fellow had already fallen to the ground, gripping his face in a agony as blood gushed out onto the pristine, white flooring. The second pair of brave souls rushed her not a moment later, side-by-side. Poor things never saw it coming. Fiona landed gracefully behind the two attackers as brain matter and ooze escaped their cracked, lifeless skulls.

Idris was taking out the other six with similar ease. She barely seemed to move at all; instead, she turned her head away from the trashed bodies and towards the door for the next wave. She sighed an amused sigh. Cakewalk.

A few more waves came and went—thirty or so men waving around blasters and shotguns, tossing grenades—all too easy. Idris reflected this notion in sending a look that said ‘Is that all you’ve got?’ to her team up on the observation deck. Rosenfeld and the caretakers of hers that were spectating smiled and chuckled under their breath, only to be interrupted by a furious Fringe. “Just what sort of nonsense are you trying to pull, Number Nine?! You’re lucky that I don’t have you apprehended and disciplined for this unruly behavior!”

"With all due respect, doctor," Dr. Rosenfeld began, quiet but stern, as the sixth wave came upon the two Destrillians, "the Gunmetal Glint is my project, and you have no right to be telling her what she can and cannot do."

"Well, Rosenfeld, you have no authority in calling my specimen by name. Nor should you have been granted to work with such an advanced prototype like #004. You. Should. Feel. HONOURED!"

"Oh trust me--I do." He smiled. It was infuriating.

"Then perhaps you should keep a leash on that tongue as well as that poor excuse of a Destrillian down there."

Dr. Rosenfeld said nothing to retort, contenting himself with turning back and watching the battle unfold.

Finley Fringe kept his eyes on the younger doctor, studying his satisfied expression. The other company in the room took notice of shorter scientist's fists starting to clench, his whole being beginning to shiver. Before anyone could check on him, Dr. Fringe burst into a dramatic fit of rage. GIR! BRING ME MY DEATHRAY!!!
"Morons! I work with absolute morons! They'll let anyone walk in with a slip of paper attached to their forehead that has any semblance of an authentic degree! Monkeys dressed as men in this facility! Someone else can deal with this unlearned buffoon!" The furious Fringe stabbed an accusatory finger towards Dr. Rosenfeld, then turned on his heel and marched straight out of the observation deck. The room remained silent, with the taller doctor retaining his amused countenance.

A few more waves came at the two Destrillians with more complex tactics and weaponry, including some jetpack-equipped soldiers. Each was taken out with added amounts of effort, but nothing too overwhelming. #004 was growing bored.

"Enough with this jetpack bullshit! Give me something new and actually WORTH MY TIME!"

Dr. Rosenfeld aimed a sidelong glance at the clipboard, and what was planned for wave ten. "As you wish," he said, and then, with a hint of a smile, "Fiona."

The entire wall started to disappear, and with it, a large tank came into view. It was a behemoth of a thing, with powerful metal arms and two high-calibre cannons.

"What is it?" Idris asked, loud enough to not be talking to herself.

"A hunter-destroyer machine," replied Rosenfeld calmly, safe behind the observation window. "You wanted something worth your time, Destrillians. Here it is."

"Aww, come on, Baldy! Don't piss your pants now, the fun's just getting started." Fiona cracked her knuckles and neck, moving towards the intimidating vehicle.

Idris seemed to think on something. After a pause, she just shrugged, took a delicate step back, and smiled widely at the firestarter. "Okay," she said. "You deal with it."

Without looking back, #004 replied, "I will."

The alarm sounded to cue the start of the wave and instantly bullets shot from either side of the machine. Not a difficult task to dodge bullets, so Fiona made easy work moving in.
Before the firestarter could get within range of dismantling a mini-turret, a large grappling claw was fired from the tank. It managed to take hold of her and trap her against the far wall. She met the barrier with a distinct "umph" and immediately went to work on removing herself from it. "Goddamn it!"

Idris, who was still standing exactly where she'd been before the fight had started, smiled--if possible--even wider and more sweetly than before. "Having trouble, hun?"

Fiona managed to remove two of the four hooks out of the wall in time to dodge another spray of nasty gunfire. "I never have trouble, you walking lightning rod."

The fiery redhead made another run straight for the gargantuan vehicle. "Bet you can't launch another shitty claw at me you bast--FUCK YOU!" the fire Destrillian ate her words as a long, metal arm shot out from a concealed opening on the tank and took firm hold of her. Once again, she had run in blindly, overconfidence being the downfall. Idris looked on with a tinge of a smile on her lips. Fiona writhed around in the harsh grip of the mechanical arm, but to escaped to no avail. Instead, she was fed some volts of electricity. #004 shouted out in pain and was tossed against a side wall like a cheap rag doll.

The firestarter pulled herself up, suppressing a twitch from the aftershock of the jolt. A demonic look that could scare a grown man adorned the fire starter's face as she glared over to Idris, still with that infuriatingly amused expression.

"So." Idris beamed, entirely unphased by Fiona's livid stare. "A lightning rod I am."

"Come a little closer and we'll find out!"

The blonde girl just raised her hands in mock defeat, watching with obvious amusement as a leftover shock ran through the flame-haired girl.

Fiona produced a growl in frustration at both her unwanted company and the stubborn machine in front of her. Her body became tense and the temperature of the room went up. #004's eyes glowed when she looked back at Idris. "Enough of your pussyfooting! Get your ass into gear!"

"But surely you aren't having trouble with anything, are you Fiona?" Idris cried in disbelief. "You're just so powerful. I'm sure you can do it on your own. Right?"

"I. Said. MOVE IT!" She charged right at #009, the observation deck becoming a little worried at the fire prototype's behavior.

Idris slid swiftly to one side, avoiding Fiona's wrath by a few inches. Finally her smile dropped from its overdramatic grin to a much more natural, predatory thing. "Alright, alright," she said, eyeing the weapon she was supposed to be fighting with the fire prototype. "Let me see what I can do."

Quickly, she darted around the machine, landing little experimental kicks and jabs here and there to test it's weaknesses. The mechanical, scope-like eye of the tank wasn't fast enough to follow the lightfooted Destrillian. After a few more taps here and there, Idris landed calmly beside Fiona.

"I think I've pretty much figured it out," she said airily, tossing a look back at the irate face of her partner. "If you heat the thing up, I'll dart in and bend it into knots. Deal?"

"Fine. Just don't let that grappling piece of shit touch me." With that, Fiona took off for the large, armoured vehicle. Her countenance switched into a focused variety of anger as she dodged another spray of bullets. The fire starter flicked a an open hand in the direction of the minigun turret and quickly formed a fist, causing a small explosion in the same spot. Idris came at it from the other side, driving her palm flat against the metal casing beneath the turret, denting it irreparably inwards. Deftly, the girl plunged her hand straight through and yanked out some of the wiry innards. Sparks flew.

Another gun sprang from the side of the metallic behemoth and focused on Fiona, much to her dismay. She leapt towards it and brought down a firm and flaming heel to it, resulting in an internal explosion.

An idea came to her just then as the fiery redhead heard the small succession of booms from her damage. She jumped off and away from the tank, shouting out to her unwanted ally. "Better step back, Baldy! Things might get a little too messy for you."

Idris simply looked at her curiously, analytically, before deciding that it would most likely be best--and least painful--to let the fire Destrillian do what she wanted. She jumped back off the tank and landed carefully a little ways away, looking on the scene in front of her.

Vehicles ran on fuel. That fuel is highly flammable. A smirk graced her lips as she licked them with malicious anticipation. "Eat this, douchebags!" She swung her arms up and brought them down in front of her, quickly clenching her hands into fists and releasing her power on the combustible materials within the tank.

Idris had to admit, the sight of a giant mechanical monster like that being exploded in all directions was pretty impressive. She cleanly sidestepped a piece of shrapnel as big as she was. The fight was over. "Good job," she said cheerily to Fiona, grinding a bit of the tank good and far into the ground with her foot just to make it difficult for the clean-up crew to get it out. "We should do this again sometime."

"I think I've had enough of you for the rest of my miserable life."

"Have it your way, then." Idris stepped over the remains of their final fight towards the observation window, and the exit. "Maybe someday, when your life is less miserable, you'll think back on that and reconsider."

"Doubtful."

The Gunmetal Glint looked back over her shoulder at the fire prototype. "Which part?" she asked, and before she could get an answer, stepped through the now-open door and back to her scientist.

Fiona's sights had been trained on the large embers still gracing the training room when she was forced to snap her attention towards her metal counterpart. Her eyes studied Idris in thought as #009 left the room. Which...what..?

The fire Destrillian shook her head and sneered. "Ah, fuck that."


~~~


"What if I told you that we could get out of this pit?"

"We can escape if we stick together, just wait!"

Are you with me, Fiona?

A charged pain slithered into the back of the fire Destrillian's head as she was being carted back to her room from a routine physical. She was secured by multiple straps to a gurney, bound up tight in a power-suppressant straight jacket with an IV pumping anesthesia into her veins. The straightjacket was new--usually the drugs were enough, but not for today. Today was a special day. And Viola did not want their fire Destrillian throwing one of her fits on it. But even the heightened security measures wouldn't stop Fiona's reaction to what she was just about to realise.

It came out of nowhere. One moment, she was being wheeled along, unable to do or say anything, unable to feel anything but vague irritation at all the procedures--and then it was like Fiona heard the lethal gunshot right next to her ear. Heartbeats slowing until complete failure. The death of Ariel Regan.

#004's body started to twitch. The caretakers overseeing her passage back to the containment room took no notice. She did that sometimes, when the anesthetic wasn't quite strong enough to keep her down entirely, or when she just felt like being more difficult than usual. What did they care if she was trying to make life harder on them? She wasn't going to succeed. But she was.

Convulsions. Her eyes snapped open.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

"What the--"

"Attention: Destrillian Prototype #012 has been disposed! Please sure ensure that all other prototypes are secured immediately! Lethal reprocussions may occur if this warning is not heeded! I repea--"

"SHE'S DEAD!!"

"Oh my God! Someone get Dr. Fringe and a special team down here at once!"

Fiona had gone straight off the edge. The team knew it with a single glance: the Blazing Fury's chief scientist would not be able to stop her, let alone be reached in time. In that instant, every one of them knew they were going to die. And there was nothing they could do to stop it. Some of them were brave and stood their ground, but others turned and tried to run, to self-preserve--only to fall to the ground screaming as their bodies overheated until all their vital fluids had evaporated, leaving nothing but dried, shrivelled husks left.

As if it were papier mache, Fiona ripped and burned through her specially-fabricated restraining articles. Under normal circumstances, the precautions taken to secure #004 would have been successful without a doubt. These were certainly not normal circumstances.

Freeing herself from the bondage, Fiona ripped out the long IV needle out of her arm, not even flinching at the way it dragged and tugged at her skin, nor the sickly, wet sucking sound it made as it popped out. With a cry of utmost rage, she turned and stabbed it right into the forehead of the closest Viola staff member.

"You are all to blame!" she screamed. The girl had gone demonic--not a thing on earth could get in her way. Grabbing a second victim, the fire Destrillian's fingers clenched until they were white with pressue. The man cried out in anguish as the skin was melted right off his body. With a violent motion, Fiona threw the caretaker against the metal wall, leaving him to writhe and bleed on the floor.

Not a single one of the caretakers in that small space of corridor escaped Fiona's wrath. The agony of losing the only friend in all of Viola that she had was unmatched. Even the special security squad meant to subdue the extremely enraged Blazing Fury wasn't able to put her down. Twisted, burning, broken corpses strewn across the floor at odd angles decorated the hallway. Even the walls themselves fell victim to #004's ferocity. The sheer waves of heat that radiated from her being melted and warped the metal and plastic, until it literally dripped down the walls. All of her anguish poured out in the form of violent resistance to anything that so much as came within ten metres. More personnel came out. And more. And still more, and it seemed she was never going to stop.

Until eventually, she did. In hindsight, the surviving staff realized that it had simply been too much stress to maintain such high power levels for such a long time. She herself had finally burnt out. She swayed and coughed, and the heat seemed to all be sucked back into the source--and then she fell down dead, or as good as. She was out cold.

The flaming wreck of one of the finest teams in Viola was all that was left to show for it.

Dr. Fringe had been nowhere to be found until Fiona was finally placed back into her cryotube, comatose.

"You're lucky they didn't terminate you on the spot for that horrifically embarrassing show you put on for the entire facility! Ignorant child, I ought to have you placed back into solitary confinement for another month! Prototype #012 was useless to our cause anyway. More flawed than what comes out of that Vargas' armoury."

The words from the cruel scientist were like dull, annoying thuds in the back of Fiona's mind. Nevertheless, a reply came in the form of the liquid-gel around her starting to churn and bubble from a spike in internal temperature.

"Two months in solitary confinement? Excellent suggestion, #004."


~~~


"Waste of life!"

Scorch.

"Piece of shit!"

Slice.

"Stupid human!"

Boil.

"Eat your rotten heart out, Fringe!"

Melt.

For all of her life, Fiona Myrwind had a reason to lash out at the world around her. A time came when she was finally able to do so with a rage that had grown with the fire Destrillian and would go unmatched. This rage has never been quelled, nor did anyone ever think it would be. Only time would tell just what was in store for the prototype, Blazing Fury.

__________________

Last edited by Sheva Alomar; 11/03/2010 at 10:42 PM.
Sheva Alomar is offline  
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