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Dawn Memoli

"Tomorrow will be a better day."

0 · 417 views · located in Erubesco Territoy

a character in “A Gifted World”, as played by Miss Echo

Description

Full Name: Dawn Evelyn Memoli

Nicknames/Aliases: Dawn

Age: 17

Gender Female

Gifts: Mind Manipulation, Dark Elemental


Loyalty: The Wanderers


Description: Being a teenage girl, Dawn isn’t the most physically formidable, standing at around 4’9” in boots and without much muscle mass to speak of- aside from her legs, which have been strengthened through years of running. She is quite pale, as well, with soft grey eyes and black hair that falls to her hips.

Dawn has a habit of dressing in loose-fitting clothing, preferring to wear jeans and long sleeved shirts. Previously, she also donned a white hoodie over her ensemble, although she has recently lost it and replaced it with a dark grey jacket. She has a habit of slipping her hands into her pockets when nervous or excited, and tends to fidget.

Personality: By nature, Dawn is a gentle soul, trying to resolve most conflicts without resorting to violence. She’s very maternal and kind, and tends to be protective over the people she cares about. In spite of this, however, she has a tendency to be vengeful, keeping grudges close to her heart until she has an opportunity to right what has been wronged in her eyes. Otherwise, she serves as a sort of peacemaker, trying to make sure that everyone gets along.


Skills: In spite of her age, Dawn possesses impressive power in regards to her mental manipulation Gift through combination of her own raw talent and quite a few training sessions. Her abilities range from basic telepathy to the control of one’s body, although to do the latter requires extreme concentration on her part. While several of her powers are broader, they require her to focus on the individual instead of the group. Currently, while she does have an Elemental Gift, she is unable to consciously use it for things other than basic parlor tricks.

Asides from her Gift based abilities, Dawn is also rather diplomatic, and makes attempts at keeping the togetherness the Wanderers. She is intelligent as well, and through practice, has developed some skill in reading others’ emotions without relying on her power.

Weaknesses: Given the fact that she relies more on flight and her Gift in a confrontation, Dawn is physically weak and can be overtaken easily without her ability. She has a crippling fear of fire as well, and will lock up when near larger flames. Along with this, Dawn also has a tendency to bottle up her emotions and feelings in favor of assisting the groups’ problems, and is a bit of a control freak when it gets down to it.


Brief History: Dawn’s earlier years were spent living with her parents and brother in a nice, developing town. She was raised into her now-prominent pacifism, and was genuinely happy. However, when her family refused to swear allegiance to one faction or the other, their home was destroyed, and her parents killed in the blaze that followed. At the age of eight, she began her life in the wastelands, soon finding herself alone after being abandoned.

Dawn was left alone until the age of sixteen, where she met another wandering soul and joined him, forming the early Wanderer group. Currently, she is still very much a member, and works with the group to provide some sense of stability during the war.

So begins...

Dawn Memoli's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Mina Aldridge Character Portrait: Larke Sterling Character Portrait: Rei Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler Character Portrait: Toby Schippers Character Portrait: Seraphina Iclosis Character Portrait: Talin Melardos
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Perviously, in the Ash...

  • Doctor Oren Kovalenko was captured in her attempt to return Helena to the Citadel, and detained in Pierrot's "pocket dimension" while undergoing interrogation by Spire and Montana.
  • Toby found a scrawny cat, and it followed him home.
  • The Wanderers were disrupted in the midst of a midday breakfast when several resident Sensors noticed an approaching presence. A small party of Wanderers, including Sera, Dawn, Kayla, Toby, Reith, Mina, and Talin moved out to confront the threat.

Our story continues in the midst of this action...

There were several certainties out in the waste.

There was, for instance, the certainty that the sun would set in the west. There was also a certainty that one needed water, food, and shelter to live, or that it was hot or if it was raining. A mind reader was allowed a few more certainties, however. Like being certain of when your traveling partners were worrying about supplies, or thinking of how easy it could be to slit your throat in your sleep.

Of course, there were many uncertainties to balance the truths out, but Dawn could allow herself to be sure of a few things, like how this child with the mind of a man had come to them alone. The sudden hint of a presence in the horizon, however, made her much more doubtful. Startled, she reached out to try and enter this new stranger’s mind, but it was still too far for her to properly get a read on.

She drew back again, lips pursed in an effort to keep them from drawing into a proper frown. Another stranger just seemed a bit too coincidental.

Dawn suddenly paused, stiffening slightly. However, they had, admittedly, been getting an influx of unexpected guests lately. Her own thoughts returned to the train they had been on when the first visitor had arrived, and she cast a wary glance over to Toby.

Coincidences happened, but if Erubesco had been after them for this long, she highly doubted that they would just give up now.

Nevertheless, she quickly expanded the net of her broadcast once again, nestling back into the group’s heads. We have another problem, Dawn began. There’s someone else coming now- in the sky. I can’t get a read on them yet, but I should once they get close enough.

--

Distracted in her progress by the appearance of a lizard, Rei had delayed her attempts to find the others by a few minutes.

She was still kind of hungry after all.

The flicker of a shadow overhead however drew her immediate attention. Possibly she'd just spent too much time hunting animals out in the ruins that her sense of perception had gotten highly attuned to movement, or perhaps it has always been a feature of her ability's strange physiological effects, but she identified something far above that was moving. Something that was alive.

Rei stared at it, limp lizard tail still jutting from the corner of her mouth for some moments, before the mutant snapped it up and sprang off over the rubble to follow the trajectory.

Her hasty course almost caused her to jump down right into the centre of a group of other Helton residents.
The creature hurriedly cut her momentum,skidding in the dust to stand about level with the edge of a group.

"Did you see the big flying thing? It's definitely alive, but it's not moving right for a bird. " she asked, tilting her head upward again.

--

Larke, meanwhile, was wholly unaware of the situation he was drifting dangerously near to. The healer had been holding himself afloat on a warm updraft, keeping as hidden as possible behind a cloud. While there were peeks he managed to catch below, the small gathering in Helton was all but impossible to make out given his near snow blindness from the thick sheet of white he was gliding over.

The courage to swoop lower and get a better read was still beyond him; perhaps if he flew more directly over, he could descend on the back gate and take them by surprise?

--

“I’m going to check the radar” Talin announced casually, strolling away from the group. As soon as he was out of sight, he broke into a run, and was on the roof in seconds, gazing down, sharing the semi aerial view with the mind linked wanderers. Mostly for Sera’s benefit, she could create her illusion now. It was from this height, however, that he succeeded in catching a proper glimpse of their flyer, causing him to blink in shock.

It’s odd… he broadcast, tying together the image and knowledge that came with it. It says it’s a…healer? Not quite, it’s how he’s trained though, but no flight gift. Toby, do you get that?

Sera, meanwhile, directed lights to create an empty street below when looking down, although not perfect without being able to see it herself. Should we try to ground him? the young woman asked seriously, while visibly deferring to a leader with her body language.

--

Toby's eyes locked skyward. The closer the Erubescan flew, the more accurately Toby could track the movement, almost imagine a sillouette through the haze. He half-nodded at Talin's note. I thought the same. I thought there might be an aircraft, maybe, but...

There. A shadow, just for an instant, through the clouds. Like an angel of death. Maybe a bit of a clumsy angel of death.

Toby lined the beam of his arm to the tip of his .357 up to his eyeline. The heavy artillery, the rifles and submachines guns Montana had provided, lay back at base. With one shot of the .357, Toby could reliably shatter a bottle at 100 yards. Semi-reliably at 150. If he was lucky, 200. Larke would be a lot farther than that when he passed at his closest, but he was, even without his broad wingspan, a lot bigger than a bottle. Plus, Toby couldn't link his Gift to a bottle.

He felt perspiration on his forehead. What if he was a defector? Dread at the idea of feeling Larke spiral down leeched into his mental announcement: I think I have a shot.

He broadcast it as though he would ask for permission, wanting someone else to make that decision, wanting to defer like Sera. As if there was any time for permission or any authority from whom to get it. The stranger would only get farther out of range and closer to the others at the base. Toby had learned by now to somewhat detangle his emotions from others', but if he did that, he would have to disconnect entirely, and then his aim would suffer from the poor visibility. So Toby sent out more mental fibers instead, until he could feel exactly where Larke was - and could feel the pressure of the air under his wings and the moisture of the clouds, the nervousness, determination, and that heady soul-wrenching fuel that could only be loyalty. This man wasn't a defector.

Toby's lip quivered, but his hand didn't. Aiming a few feet high to adjust for the distance, he pulled the trigger, emptying his five remaining hollow-point rounds at a steep angle into the sky. He would be happy to make even one hit.
If happy was the word for it.

--

Larke blinked hard as a bright flicker crossed his vision— a flash of light from below that seemed to originate from nowhere. He squinted through the film of his goggles, but found nothing save for rubble and Ash in the streets of Helton beneath him.

The stillness of it was chilling: It cut through the layers of his flight jacket and traveled over his skin until the hair on his arms prickled as if caught by a static cling. Rushing wind dampened any sound for miles.

He did not hear the shots leave the gun. He did feel one burry itself in his defensive vest, casting him back with a thunk. A rush of air whizzed past his head, and another somewhere near him.

And then something far more direct: A sharp, fervid pain ripped through his right wing, setting ablaze nerves he never knew he had. Feather, skin, and muscle were all ravaged into meat, and his hollow humerus shattered like a clay pigeon. As the shot crumpled inside of his body, spidering cracks splinted from his shoulder blade to the very tip of his wing.

The wind stole the scream from his lungs.

Reflexively, the wing pulled into his body just as the compromised bone snapped from the sheer air pressure rattling against it. It mangled itself in the blustering squalls, folding and twisting into a gore-splatted work of modernist origami. As Larke plummeted toward the ground, his vision swam with black and pain. There was no differentiating between his spinning vision and spinning body as he tried his damned to show his descent.

The air pressure changed, and he was sure one of his eardrums burst.

He did not know whom he was expecting to answer his cry, nor what he gasping for as his arms flailed in search of anything to hold, but his instinct to live disregarded this logic; a bird beating its wings even as the snake gobbled its head. There was no directing this fall, but rather a shallow hope that his remaining wing could provide enough air resistance to break it.

In a horrid moment of clarity, he was struck by the sudden realization that he was going to die.

And then he was struck by the ground.

More precisely, it was the pavement of a road twenty or so yards behind his shooter.

His body stone-skipped across the fractured earth, the concrete ripping flesh and clothing alike his skeleton bashed against it. While the goggles had shielded his face, it was evident that not much else on his body had been spared damage in the ordeal.

Blood flesh flecked the Ash around the Erubescan’s unconscious form, and his backpack had split open to reveal a load of partially broken medical supplies.

A shower of wayward blonde feathers still floated on the breeze, settling long after the man who had shed them.

--

Toby contorted with the scream the wind had stolen from Larke.

His spine arched with the explosion of pain in the wing he didn't have, then reversed in a fetal curl as desperate panic flooded in, twisting like a werewolf just before its first full moon. For a few seconds, he felt everything his target felt, plus a pinch of standard-fare guilt. Dizzy, Toby tried to untie his consciousness from the Erubescan before he hit the ground with same urgency he'd try to untie himself from railroad tracks in the face of an oncoming train. He didn't have time to unsnare himself completely. He watched Larke plummet and felt the crunch of the landing, and very nearly blacked out. Repressing a whimper, Toby forced his shaking limbs to understand they had not in fact been crushed after a drop from the equivalent of a small skyscraper and that he didn't need to limp, before he started walking through the snowfall of feathers.

Like any good dog on a bird hunt, Toby moved quickly toward Larke's crumpled body.

Though he didn't know whether he intended to ensure death for the wretch or to see if there was any life left to save.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Mina Aldridge Character Portrait: Larke Sterling Character Portrait: Rei Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler Character Portrait: Toby Schippers
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There are very few people in the world who never fade from a woman’s memory: A small handful of childhood friends, or siblings, perhaps a lover or two. These are the people whom are burned in her mind so intimately that she can tell them by their scent or stride or the sound of their feet beneath the door before they even bother to knock; the shape of their form even inside a morgue bag.

Those she knows by the curve of their spines and rise of their ribs, even when they lie broken on the ground with bullet wounds riddling their bodies.

The dust settled around the intruder’s body, and Mina’s heart fell through her stomach. A tight bitterness rose in her throat, wrapping like a pull-tie around her trachea, cutting into her flesh and forcing wetness to the edges of her eyes; eyes that could not blink or pry themselves away from the crumpled, bloody man with sandy hair and a face she could not see, but knew to be the one in her minds' eye. He smelled like cologne and aftershave, and just around his fingertips, like lighter smoke.

“I- I think we’ve got…” She took a shuffling step forward, and then froze. “He’s— um..”

The rise of his breathing halted, and her pupils went narrow. She broke into a run and slid to onto her knees in the rubble beside him, kicking up a cloud of ash and feathers as she landed. With a quick, single motion, she rolled him onto his back and tilted his chin skyward so that his lips, bloodied from where he had bitten them on impact, could part. A soft spark passed between her fingers and his skin, and his chest rose to suck in a breath.

Her eyes tracked about the ground, trying to look anywhere but his face as she began working with soft and deliberate motions to lay out his limbs in some semblance of a normal position: He would heal twisted, if left for too long. Her hands trailed over the mangled skin and muscle, prodding the shattered bits of bone back into place where she could.

His blood ran over her hands, but she made no move to reach for gloves.

“We’ve got an. Um…” she swallowed, and pulled the goggles away from his closed eyes, “He's a. Um. This is a shifter."

The setting changes from helton to The Wasteland

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Mina Aldridge Character Portrait: Larke Sterling Character Portrait: Rei Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler
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  1. Meant to put this in Helton, whoops. My bad.

    by Miss Echo

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The rapid approach of the stranger had made it even more easier for the tendrils of Dawn’s Gift to reach him. It sprawled forward, rooting its claws deep into the mind of the intruder- not picking up anything of particular substance, but simply skimming the surface, gathering what information happened to flit through the man’s thoughts. He was too far, his mind too jumbled, and- why not admit it?- Dawn herself was too shaken to do any real digging at the moment. It didn’t take any special power or intelligence to connect the recent kidnapping attempt with this, after all, and even less to predict what would happen once the stranger was on Helton grounds. Dawn gnawed on her cheek, noticing with a dull awareness the sharp tang that filled her mouth.

Sensing Toby’s preparation to fire, Dawn swiftly put an end to her own probing, Gift snapping back into place like a rubber band. It wasn’t a perfect snap-back, of course- she could still very much sense the undercurrent of the group’s thoughts, and the faint drift of the stranger- but it was wasn’t as encompassing. Tolerable. Nevertheless, as the bullets passed through the trespasser, rending meat from bone and crafting bone into jagged chunks, the pain still reached her. It came from the man in throbbing waves, reflected further off Toby, who bore the brunt of the agony like it was his own. The echo that passed through Dawn was unpleasant, but nothing like her fellow empath’s; it was clean and precise, running through her brain as if someone had dragged a blade through it. A migraine. Painful, but tolerable. Wincing, guilt flowing freely through her, Dawn sent her own transmission in Toby’s direction. Nothing too big or sudden- she didn’t want to overload the Schippers brother, after all- but there nonetheless. The mental equivalent of clasping one’s shoulder in sympathy. Then the feeling was gone, and Dawn followed the others to the broken body nearby.

You didn’t need to be a doctor to see just how bad the damage was. The man’s wings was now nothing more than a tangle of flesh and sinew, body bent and contorted in the most unnatural positions possible. Alive, but only just. The sight was difficult enough to look at even for a stranger (there was something faint that registered inside her mind when she caught a glimpse of his features, although it was nothing major. The feeling was quickly brushed aside in favor of more pressing matters), but Dawn was aware of an even stronger reaction among their group’s members. Recognition, and an emotion that was too great to be anything but anguish.

Mina. She knew this man all too well.

Dawn did not comment on this. She did not ask questions, or try to prod for any further information- privacy was the least she could grant the good doctor at this moment. Instead, she braced herself, settling in a half-kneeling position nearby and forcing herself to look at the body.

“Whoever he is…” she paused, wiped her lips, then tried again. “Whoever he is, we need to get him to Clockwork. Right now.” Even with Mina’s set of skills, Dawn doubted that the stranger would last much longer like this. Dark red patches bloomed from various places on his body, spilling onto the ash beneath him, and the pools were only growing larger as the seconds ticked by. “I can call her over.”

Because, at the moment, she wasn’t sure if trying to bring the man directly over to the building would be a good idea for several reasons.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Gale Eden Character Portrait: Mina Aldridge Character Portrait: Larke Sterling Character Portrait: Rei Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler Character Portrait: Toby Schippers
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Toby felt Dawn's tendril of uplift like an angel offering him a hand from the mental floor he'd just crashed into. He sent a mental response, a blurry wash of gratitude. As the others gathered closer, Toby backpedaled, standing back from Larke's body. It seemed backward and hypocritical to look at the bloodied, broken heap he just shot down from a ridiculous height, and then sit there hoping the guy didn't die, but hope the guy didn't die Toby did.

Like Dawn, Toby sensed Mina's recognition, followed by her denial. He felt sick. He hadn't thrown up about killing someone for years--he'd gotten numb, accustomed to seeing bullet holes in foreheads and helping clean up after his brother's most extensive knifework--but the nausea roiled in his stomach now. He forced it down. Mina knew him.

He didn't want to say anything, but he did. "He's not a shifter," he said. And he wanted to ask how she knew him, but he didn't. "I'm sorry," Toby mumbled, "I--I had to. He might've come here to-- I'm sorry. He can self-heal--but maybe c--but call her anyway."

At this juncture, the last thing he wanted to do was step up to the half-dead Erubescan, but caution overcame his guilt. He took a knee, careful to avoid stepping on the broken wing, collecting the stranger's two pistols from his shoulder holster, and a combat knife. They couldn't wake their intruder up for him to shoot at them. He checked pockets for any other weapons, but found only gauze, medical tape, disinfectant, and other first aid supplies. Why would Erubesco send a healer on a solo mission?

"This might be some k--kind of distraction," Toby considered aloud, holding out one of the handguns toward any of the other Wanderers who wanted to claim it. Spoils of war. He kept hold of the other one, seeing as he'd just spent his ammunition.

The setting changes from the-wasteland to Helton

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Mina Aldridge Character Portrait: Larke Sterling Character Portrait: Rei Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler Character Portrait: Toby Schippers
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A cool, sweaty wave of realization rolled up Mina’s spine, gripping her body with such frigidness that she could hardly feel her own face.

He was not a shifter. Dawn and Toby could sense every fiber of Mina’s being that had been praying he was.

Her tawny gaze held fixed as the others approached, watching the skin on the back of his hand knit together; tendrils reaching out to cross the red fissures until they were all but covered. She reached forward, her fingers about as steady as a wind vein in a storm, and took hold of his, cold and flecked with red. She coaxed each individual bone into its proper place, setting shattered fragments into one another to form straight lines.

His hand had grown rougher, some, but she still knew its shape; every muscle and fold and pale blue vein that ran across the back of it.

It was him.

“He doesn’t. Um—“ She shook her head, and then looked up. It was harder to cry when the tears could not run down. “He’s not. Um. Looks like he can handle it without Clockwork. As long as. Um.” Mina swallowed, forcing the rising choked sound from her voice. “As long as his heart don’t stop, he’s alright. And I can manage that bit. So.”

When Toby stepped forward and pulled the gun from its holster, her gaze narrowed. Stupid; she had not even thought to check for weapons. Because Larke didn’t shoot, and had never shot, aside from archery: The noise and recoil had made him almost as afraid as the prospect of killing something for sport.

“Don’t be sorry, Toby. You. Um,” she blinked, watching all of the medical supplies come out of their pouches and pockets, “You saved us from having- I mean. Someone would have had to... Um.”

She stopped, taking a deep breath as the squeak threatened to steal back into her tone. Toby and Dawn knew. Nobody else had to.

“Larke Sterling,” she said, and her voice only shook a bit. She held up the ID tag about his neck. “Just- Just a healer. Says on here. Medical Person- Personnel.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Mina Aldridge Character Portrait: Larke Sterling Character Portrait: Rei Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler Character Portrait: Toby Schippers
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As expected, Clockwork's assistance ultimately proved unnecessary- already, Dawn could see the flesh beginning to crawl back into place, covering raw muscle with a sheet of fresh white skin. The man was still from top form, of course, but she couldn’t help the spark of relief that flitted through her. Couldn’t help the way her the knot deep in her gut tightened, either, as if someone had taken a dishrag and twisted it, straining the juices.

This wasn’t right.

Many of the Wanderers own were refugees. Liberty, Erubesco- even from the Wasteland itself, in a sense. People who were just trying to make a better living for themselves than anything their old lives had offered. There were some exceptions, of course, but an overwhelming amount of them were just trying to separate themselves from their old lives. Sure, the factions tended to attack more often than not, and the risk of some level of familiarity was always present, but…not like this. Not now. Dawn’s tongue prodded lightly at the raw side of her cheek, and, wordlessly, eyes still on Mina and the stranger, she took the offered gun from Toby. She didn’t shoot- didn’t know how to, not when there had been nobody to teach her, and her Gift had served as her main method of defense for years- but the movement was automatic, and made her feel more in place. The pistol lay flat in her palm for a few moments before she tucked it away, zipping it into a free pocket of her bag for later consideration. At the very least, it felt better to be holding onto it for now.

One by one, various medical supplies were produced from the intruder- from Larke Sterling’s pockets. Pills, bandages, gauze. Aside from the meager weaponry that had been on him, there was nothing that smacked of the man being some kind of special Erubescian soldier or anything. Combined with the self-healing, there was no evidence of the tag being a ruse of some sort. Everything about him screamed “medic”. Dawn didn’t have to look to see that the idea didn’t sit well with the others, either- Toby had even announced it, after all. She looked upwards, as if a group of agents would suddenly materialize from thin air, then threw out her Gift again- away from this horrid scene, away from Helton, as far as she could send it without it ceasing to function properly. Like this, Dawn could feel those around her- less so than before, her ability was less potent the more spread out it was- and the bodies going about their business within the city boundaries, like some kind of organic radar of sorts. She circled her range a few times, trying to find, sightless, a trap or ambush or...something that would make a semblance of sense, but there was nothing. It was after the fourth of fifth round that Dawn retracted her antennae, shook her head, then turned her gaze back upon the group.

“Nothing,” she said, softly. “Unless there’s some kind of suppressor, it’s...It’s just him.”

It was the least satisfying explanation, and a conclusion that even Dawn herself couldn’t help but doubt.

The setting changes from helton to Erubesco Territoy

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle Character Portrait: Rick Ronin
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A universe of ash Rick trekked randomly. An encounter with wandering thugs ended with Rick nearly getting beaten to death. Normally they wouldn’t have stood a chance, clearly losing his powers was worse than he originally thought. Starvation fueled Rick’s exhaustion as he continued on his way. Death’s doorstep was upon him when Rick saw what looked like a city. Food and water had to be there but lying in rumble to await his passing was so much easier.

Nothing about Rick’s life was ever easy.

He managed to make it to the city which Rick immediately knew was an Erubesco territory of some sort. There was plenty of Erubesco propaganda around to prove it. If a group of random thugs could take him on then surely Rick would be screwed if the highly trained Knights of Erubesco found him.

The ash behind him transformed in Rick’s vision to become his own personal cemetery. The territory in front of him then looked like a land made up entirely out of food. Clearly his mind was playing tricks on him again but it was a close enough adaptation for the choices he had before him.

In the Erubesco city, Rick “hunted” just enough food and water to keep him alive for the rest of the day. The lady working the register at the establishment was very pleasant to Rick until he devoured the food without paying for it. He got away and came across a gentleman who helped direct Rick to a library in the West District. Once there two young adult citizens taught him how to use the internet and gave Rick the snacks they had in their bags.

Rick hastily ate much of the food and stashed some of the smaller items in the pockets of his worn out black athletic shorts. As he chewed the gravity of the generosity of the people in this Erubesco territory sank in.

‘I’m a complete stranger,’ he thought to himself. ‘And without question they helped me survive. They’ve helped me in my search for regaining my powers. I’ve never been treated this nicely before by strangers,’ he continued to think. Trickery dawned on Rick a moment later. Rick looked around and saw no sign of Erubesco Knights ready to spring into action. There was no bad feeling in his gut. The chances that he was being lured into a false sense security by those civilians were looking slim. Still, there was mistrust. ‘If I can’t trust the Wanderers…if I can’t trust Dawn…who can I trust? Should I allow myself to trust anyone? The food they gave me hasn’t killed me, must not be poisonous.’ Rick allowed himself to relax, a bit.

He tried to use the computer to look up information about lightning but found himself staring at anything but what he asked for. Rick clicked all over the place expecting the computer to do what he wanted. Rick started growling loudly when he found himself watching a video of kittens doing adorable things. He was just about to strike the computer when the young lady who helped him, when he first arrived, approached him.

“Down boy. What’s the problem? Awww that’s precious,” she asked him then took note of what was on the screen.

“It’s not what I was trying to find.”

“Well yeah, you can’t just click on things. You have to click on the right things…also it would help if you used proper spelling. You’re not real bright are you?” Rick actually found her boldness to be brave of her.

“Uneducated, there’s a difference,” Rick responded quickly.

“Fair enough…you’re not from around here then are you?”

“No.”

She was expecting Rick to elaborate and when he didn’t she asked, “Where are you from?”

“Nowhere,” Rick said simply.

The lady frowned, “Ooookaaay…well there’s a spell check feature over here. Read before you click and you should be good.” She went back to her seat and started going back to what she was doing.

Rick had an easier time finding information now that he was following her instructions. He learned the basics of how lightning works but only retained a simplified version of the information.

‘Basically, there is a buildup of positive and negative charges that breaks the air sending electricity through the sky,’ he mentally summarized. ‘That doesn’t sound like what I’ve been doing with my lightning powers.’ He thought back to all the times he used his lightning powers.

The memories were corrupted. Sometimes he remembered forming lightning into different shapes like swords and hammers. Other times he remembered his lightning powers refusing to work in that manner. Another time he remembered firing geese out of his body instead of lightning. ‘Well that can’t be true…can it?’ The more Rick thought about it the more confused he became. He closed his eyes and cleared his mind. When all the thoughts ceased, Rick’s reality stabilized.

He opened his eyes and looked up information about super strength. He found plenty of information about it but nothing about how to regain lost super strength. His mind was spinning from all the information. Rick clicked on a video of pro kick-boxers fighting. Rick wore a small smile. This was fun. Violence was much more fun when he wasn’t getting hurt or when he wasn’t hurting someone else. Rick couldn’t help but box along with the video causing a spectacle of himself once again.

‘Huh, they do it differently than I do,’ he realized. He tried it their way a few times. ‘Feels weird,’ Rick thought. A feeling in his gut rose up out of nowhere. It wasn’t much but it was enough to make Rick do a visual scan of the area. Nothing out of the ordinary. No clear sign of danger. Rick frowned. His gut instinct wasn’t wrong often. Still…there was nothing out of place and nothing hiding something that was out of place. At least, as far as he could see. Rick noticed the theme occurring before him, uncertainty.

‘This sucks,’ he couldn’t help but think. Suddenly a group of men charged into the library shooting at everyone in the library. Rick threw himself to the ground as bullets flew over his head.

“Oh my, are you okay?” the young lady from before asked. Rick got up and looked around. The men were gone. No bullets flying or bullet casings anywhere to be found.

“I’m fine,” Rick said picking his chair back up before sitting down in it. Rick watched the lady watching him as the men returned. They ran through the furniture like ghosts, they put a dozen bullets into the lady before running through her. Rick closed his eyes. When they opened Rick was no longer in a library. He was in a battlefield. Men in dirty military uniforms were getting gunned down right and left. One soldier slapped Rick in the face as he yelled at him. The slap stung Rick’s face. A rifle was stuffed against his chest, Rick instinctually clasped the weapon. The wooden handle was smooth against his fingers. The soldier was gutted with a bayonet right before Rick’s eyes. The blood and guts looked and smelled real. The soldier looked at Rick with massive disappointment as the life left his body. The killer turned to Rick, ready to end him as well. Rick pointed the rifle at the attacker and pulled the trigger.

Bang!

Rick was back at the library. People were looking at him strangely. No one was hurt, no one was dead, and there were no signs that anyone was being attacked. Rick was standing away from the computer with his hands up as if he was holding a rifle. Without saying a word Rick lowered his hands and found a space on a couch that was away from everyone else.

‘It felt real. Even more than when I was wandering the ash,’ he thought to himself. He looked off into the distance, ‘What’s wrong with me.’

The setting changes from erubesco-territoy to The Wasteland

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Spire Schippers Character Portrait: Mina Aldridge Character Portrait: Larke Sterling Character Portrait: Rei Character Portrait: Hel Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler Character Portrait: Toby Schippers
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The way Hel honed straight toward a scene of carnage like a shark in bloodied water was uncanny.

“Hel,” said Spire, slowing his run to a walk when he saw the group, and Hel thankfully unharmed. “Hey. Don’t do that,” he panted.

And he didn’t mean the stuffing bloody feathers in her pockets; that behavior didn’t even strike him as odd for a six-year-old. At her age, he had enjoyed twisting the necks of small mammals and fingerpainting with their blood, back before he escalated to bigger prey.

“You can’t run off without asking, okay kid?” Spire said, recovering his calm. “Not when the labs are trying to get you back.”

Spire had looked away from the girl for maybe ten seconds while talking to Soren in the kitchen. She’d been five feet away from him. Her picked-at plate sat at the table, but she’d vanished. Last time she’d disappeared from under his nose, it was because an Erubescan speedster had tried to abduct her, so her sudden disappearance was understandable cause for alarm. This time, he’d launched after her so fast he might as well have been a speedster himself.

But now he showed no sign of his momentary panic. He stood as cool as carved stone, and addressed the group at large. "Well," he drawled. "We've been getting a lot of unwanted company lately, haven't we?"

Spire nudged Hel away from the battered Larke. He didn’t want her poking around too close the body, since Spire could tell by the general fussing that their avian friend was still alive. Fine. If he lived, maybe he could join the speedster in Pierrot’s extra-dimensional hell. And maybe eventually someone would acknowledge that the most practical solution was to let Spire cut both their throats. Trying to extract information from the speedster could tide him over for a while, but it did more to whet his thirst than anything else. At the end of the day, torture in and of itself felt empty--just pointless indulgence. Taking a life--that mattered. It combined all the satisfaction of ridding the world of one more corrupt creature with the empowering feeling of control, and the electrifying sensation of steel slicing flesh, of slick, warm blood between his fingertips. Spire would get his fix, the Wanderers wouldn’t have to waste resources on dangerous prisoners, and Hel would have an abundant supply of feathers for whatever craft project she appeared to be planning. He didn’t see the problem. Everyone would be happy. But especially Spire. Spire would be very happy.

Okay.

Focus.

Spire’s pale eyes peeled away from the vulnerable form of the unconscious crash victim, pushed his hands into the deep pockets of his coat, and turned to his younger brother. “You okay? What happened?”

“I’m not hurt. I shot him down,” Toby said hoarsely. “He’s Erubescan.”

Spire nodded, and, not perceiving the difference between “okay” and “not hurt,” he moved on to other matters. “How does he know your dad?” he asked Hel, always a little grated by the mention of Commander Green for a combination of reasons that tended to confuse him.

The setting changes from the-wasteland to Erubesco Territoy

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Edgar Gormly Character Portrait: Id Gormly Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle Character Portrait: Rick Ronin
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Rick’s intimating presence often causes two different responses. Both responses generally correspond with opposing personalities. Tough, take-no-shit kind of people respond with anger and defiance. Meek, I’ll-do-whatever-you-say types of people flee. This woman, Viv, responded differently than that.

On the one hand she moved, which was exactly what Rick told her to do. But she also didn’t panic and leave. She definitely was still blocking the exit. Her posture, tone, and fluttered speech all pointed to Viv being the meek type of person. Meaning she should’ve run off to a safe place by now, or so thought Rick.

The question is why is she still here? Is she planning some sort of scheme? Does she want something from him? Could she be an Erubesco Knight setting him up for an ambush? What if she was just so frightened that she could barely move? Fear does make people lose all common sense. The far least likely possibility was perhaps the most disturbing to Rick. What if she was genuinely concerned for his wellbeing?

‘That can’t be possible. No one cares about me, definitely not anymore,’ Rick thought to himself. ‘Then again…’ he pondered on the situation some more. ‘This whole city…town…whatever, has been full of people who’ve been helpful and concerned about me. The people I’ve come in contact with have legitimately been good people. Maybe Viv is too.’

It was bizarre. Rick was touched by it all the same. Some of his distrust brushed off him, his heart felt lighter, and his world view shifted. ‘Maybe Erubesco isn’t as evil as I thought. I mean what do I actually know about them? Just that they were intent on capturing Dawn by any means necessary. Also, that their soldiers can be ruthless. Abducting a young girl is pretty bad, but the soldiers were just following orders. Maybe the person or people pulling the strings is/are evil but not the rest of them? I know I’ve done plenty of things that come off as evil. Things that I justify as necessary for the betterment of the world.’ It was hard to believe that he was giving the benefit of the doubt to an organization that has caused him and his “friends” so much trouble.

Nothing made complete sense to Rick. Her voice, for instance. The more he heard it the more it sounded familiar. Like he’s heard it before. Still, it was different enough that he could be confusing it with someone else’s voice. His memory showed her face, it was identical to the one that was staring at him right now. And yet the person in his memory wasn’t named Viv, what her name was he couldn’t be sure but he vaguely remembered the name on the card attached to the gift he gave her. The memory was too long gone to remember it. Something that began with ‘L’ or ‘J’ but not ‘V’.

Then again was that even a memory at all? Was it all some fever dream his warped brain cooked up? Rick couldn’t help but emotionally deflate. This was getting him nowhere. All this speculation is a move for chumps. Once again it seemed that Rick needed to rely on his most comfortable approach…the straight forward approach.

Before he did anything, Rick decided to listen and then consider what she had to say next. The first thing she told him was scattered. Mostly choppy half-finished thoughts about wanting to help him. Clearly she wasn’t sure of what to say to him. Rick got the feeling that she felt like she needed to keep talking and what was said didn’t really matter. The next thing she said was more coherent and detailed. She rattled off details about herself without hesitation and with the most amount of confidence so far.

‘I guess she is who she says she is,’ Rick thought to himself. But then Viv just started throwing letters at him ‘BTSP? What was that?’ the small amount of schooling Rick had never covered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He did understand that she worked with soldiers who had flashbacks. It sounded like this Viv person would be the perfect person to help him deal with his nightmares but again Rick couldn’t allow that to happen. Especially since it was clear now that there was no way he could know her. She was an Erubesco civilian through and through, no reason for him to ever know her.

Rick softened his demeanor on purpose. He wanted her to realize his concern for her.

“Look. You can’t help me. Trying will only ruin your life…probably get you killed. I don’t want that to happen to you, okay? Do yourself a favor and pretend you never even saw me. If anyone asks, you don’t know me, you didn’t try to help me, and you don’t like me. Just trust me on this.”

Just then a young man approached them. He tried to get into the library but couldn’t because of Vivianne.

‘At least I now know that I wasn’t imagining her being in the way of the exit,’ he thought to himself. It then struck Rick that this was the perfect opportunity to gauge Viv, her reaction to this stranger could give some insight into what her motives are.

“You seem to be in the way, you should let us pass.” Rick studied her response but he kept speaking, “This guy seems like he’s had a long day, you should probably help him.” Pawning him off on Viv was an unexpected borderline genius idea. It was another opportunity to gain insight what her motives were.

Something about that flashback kept bugging him. Now he was in a weird spot. He was uncomfortable about how much he’s spoken to this stranger despite how helpful she seems. So any chance to get away from her, so he didn’t have to talk to her anymore, was preferable. However, he couldn’t deny that he desperately needed to know if there was any truth behind that festive scene his brain showed him.

In a few moments the battle waged and a winner was declared. Rick’s need for the truth outweighed his discomfort about talking to strangers. Still he wasn’t sure how to approach the subject. Being blind to proper social etiquette is really putting him at a disadvantage.

‘Better just try something, I should probably leave this place soon.’

“Quick question… for the both of you…” Rick thought that maybe asking both strangers would make it more appropriate. “If you were to get a present from someone and the present was a Desert Eagle with a thousand rounds of ammunition…how would you react?” If there was any truth to his “memory” then maybe his awkward question would bring some light to it.

The setting changes from erubesco-territoy to The Wasteland

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Spire Schippers Character Portrait: Rei Character Portrait: Hel Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler Character Portrait: Toby Schippers
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  1. Sorry, meant to put Helton as the location...

    by wolfsong4640

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Kayla had seen her good share of gore and violence in her life, but the Erubescan's descent had certainly left her shaken. She flinched as he had made impact with the ground, her green eyes wide with shock as the ash and dust cleared. Upon seeing the blood and feathers scattered across the ground around the mangled body, she felt a wave of nausea wash over her. She held a hand against her mouth to keep herself from screaming or throwing up. As Mina approached to heal him, she looked away, trying to push the image out of her mind.

It wasn't until Mina stuttered out his name that she looked back. "Larke." She mumbled, her brow furrowing. She looked at the fallen medic and remembered seeing him when they had rescued Drake. "He was in the facility we broke into when Drake was held captive." She pointed out, ignoring the faint twinge of sadness in her chest. Focus. She thought to herself. She looked at Mina, noticing that she looked rather uneasy for someone she didn't really know. Frowning in concern, she walked over and rested a hand on her shoulder in reassurance.

"So, if we don't need Clockwork, what should we do with him?" She asked, looking at the others in question. She tried not to pay attention to Hel as she started gathering up the bloody feathers. While the act was rather disturbing, she knew it wouldn't be ideal to question it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Spire Schippers Character Portrait: Mina Aldridge Character Portrait: Larke Sterling Character Portrait: Rei Character Portrait: Hel Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler Character Portrait: Toby Schippers Character Portrait: Seraphina Iclosis Character Portrait: Talin Melardos
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Strangely enough, it was with a sense of both relief and discomfort which Dawn regarded Spire’s approach. Discomfort because the older Schippers’ thoughts weren’t the most pleasant thing to be witness to (even now, she could feel the soft undercurrent regarding the prisoners, and quickly began trying to tune the whole thing out), and relief because, well. As odd as it was, the man had become a sort of guardian to Hel throughout the weeks that she had been with the Wanderers. While he wasn’t exactly the first choice she would have when it came to caretakers, Dawn doubted that Hel would obey if they tried keeping her away from Larke’s body. Even if Spire saw nothing wrong with Hel’s...recent behavior, he seemed at least set on keeping her away from the stranger at the time being.

Running a hand over her lips, Dawn rose, giving a soft “that’s okay” in response to Rei’s slipping away- although her eyes remained firmly locked upon Larke, as if half expecting him to suddenly rise and start walking around. Any doubts were gone now: their visitor was Erubescian. That meant that, if the Helton curse rang true- which it did, Dawn had seen more than enough examples to be sure by now- and if Larke Sterling was still a loyal man, then he wouldn’t have much time left lying out around here.

Something needed to be done with him, that was for sure.

“No,” she said. Forcing herself to look away from the body, Dawn gave a firm, deliberate shake of her head, clutching one arm with the other. “No, Hel, he’s not going to die.”

Not this one, at least.

“We should, um. We do have to put him somewhere, though. Maybe we could have Pierrot…” She trailed off, the note of hesitance clear in her voice. Mina obviously knew Larke, which made the matter much more...difficult. Personal, really. She doubted that when the man woke up, the meeting would be pleasant- especially if they welcomed him by tossing him in Pierrot’s portalland and leaving him to see his fellow Erubescian inside, her tendons open and drooling.

The setting changes from the-wasteland to Erubesco Territoy

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Edgar Gormly Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle Character Portrait: Kayla Chandler Character Portrait: Rick Ronin
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Again she moved but didn’t. Edgar was allowed to pass but Viv awkwardly shifted herself instead of stepping to the side. Rick couldn’t make a definitive answer from it. She could be setting Rick up or she could be unaware of her surroundings.

The man answered Rick’s question first. Edgar’s reaction to the question was a good indicator of what a normal person under normal circumstances would do. It was more or less what Rick expected the reaction to be. He was no expert on reading people but in his eyes he saw a man weirded out by the question. There was no enthusiasm or even remote interest. Edgar did answer though saying that the gift would be wasted on him and that he’d hurt himself or worse with it.

Now Rick wondered why the man would even bother to answer when all indicators pointed to the idea that he didn’t want to. Trying to gather more insight beyond the initial impression he gathered proved uninformative. Rick had enough to go on anyway. He would compare it to Viv’s reaction no matter how urgent his gut felt.

Rick’s discomfort was growing, his gut feeling warned him of danger again. But like last time there was no sign of danger. He wanted to clear this feeling from him and his compulsion was to leave the building. Assuming that it was any safer outside than inside. He suppressed the urge so he could find out more about Viv.

‘I made that choice already and I shouldn’t back out now,’ Rick thought to himself.

Rick watched Viv carefully as he waited for her answer. She never truly gave one, she was completely befuddled by the question. Again that didn’t tell Rick anything conclusive. It wasn’t the response he’d gotten from that identical looking woman in his…memory? Dream? Imagination? She was probably someone completely unrelated to that other woman.

When the fire alarm went off Rick was taken by surprise, not understanding it’s meaning at first. It was familiar in a long ago memory. The chattering civilians mentioned something about a fire as they filed out of the building’s exits. It came to him, the fire drills he participated in during the rare occasions he was sent to schools.

Fire isn’t considered a threat to Rick, his brother Demon was a powerful fire manipulator of sorts and the two of them sparred plenty of times. Rick could handle a little fire. A new thought formed a question in Rick’s mind.

‘Can I survive a building fire without my powers?’ he mentally questioned himself. ‘I should play it safe and leave…’

Rick was going to move but Viv was still blocking his way. Very odd. Everyone else was leaving, including Edgar, but Viv was about as worried about the fire as Rick. It could be that she was immune to fire damage thanks to her gift but being in a collapsing building would probably kill her.

‘Maybe not. People’s looks don’t always match their powers,’ Rick reminded himself. ‘Some people do. Rose for example; she was beautiful like a vibrant flower garden and she had the gift of plant manipulation. And her name was Rose; it didn’t match up much better than her.’

Still, Rick felt odd. Something was wrong with this situation. Things were lining up suspiciously. Rick raised his head pointing his nose to the air. He sniffed quickly and deeply. He cursed his human nose longing for wolf senses. The distinct smell of burnt materials and smoke couldn’t be detected at all. It was an immediate red flag that quickly lowered.

‘This is a big building, the fire could be out my range of smell,’ Rick deduced. ‘Am I becoming paranoid?’ he asked himself. ‘Am I becoming insecure without powers? I’d never care about any of this if I had my powers. I was never in true danger since I’ve killed so many very powerful gifted and even wiped out tons of enemies by myself. Without much effort I’ve killed most people who tried to kill me. Now…now I’m on high alert because I might be in danger…’ It was a sobering thought.

‘Well…’ he continued to think. ‘If I don’t have my powers…I’ll have to be strong on my own.’

Rick focused on Viv again, “I’m leaving,” he said. No sooner did he say that a voice was ordering him not to move.

The voice was feminine but strong. It was recognizable at once but Rick had no clue whom it belonged to. Most importantly about the voice was what it said. At first it was a simple threat to light Rick’s head on fire. It progressed into a tiny monologue about the crimes Rick committed against Erubesco. The crimes included terrorism, murder, and kidnapping. The charges were subjective at best.

Rick didn’t like the idea of him being considered a terrorist but he definitely was though mostly on accident. Only occasionally on purpose, ask Liberty about it. Rick suspected that there were a handful of people who considered his actions to be heroic military attacks. At least he hoped there were people who saw him in that light. Murder was a grey area, he’d killed quite a few Erubesco Knights on purpose but they were always in self defense or in defense of those he cared about. Kidnapping was simply not true; the closest thing to kidnapping that Rick could remember was helping to rescue Dawn. Like a slap in the face Rick remembered how unreliable his memories were. Could Rick really be responsible for all of those crimes? It didn’t matter, he was a legitimate enemy and threat to Erubesco. Any charges that Erubesco placed on Rick would stick no matter what he had to say about it.

The final thing the voice said was to lie on the ground and put his hands behind his head. This was the only option he had that didn’t result in his death. Everything that the voice said pissed off Rick in a major way.

Rick was still looking at Viv when the fires of pure rage lit in his eyes. It was like a forest fire ready to consume everything in its path reducing all to ash. Rick couldn’t believe he’d fallen for this trap despite all the warnings he picked up on. Worst of all was the compassion he genuinely felt for the people of Erubesco. That he started to feel for Viv. She had him believing that she was there to help him, that she could help him. But she was still here when the ambush was sprung making her a part of it.

‘How many times do I have to learn this lesson before I finally get it?! Everyone will betray me eventually. EVERYONE!’ Rick yelled to himself mentally. A low growl emitted from Rick’s throat as his anger spun out of control.

‘Kill them!’ It was the only thought in Rick’s head. At least until his hand touched his pocket. Rick could feel the small package of food that resided within that pocket. Food that was graciously given to him by the kind people of this town. There were good people living under the Erubesco rule and the Knights of that very same rule had every right to want him dead or in jail.

The fire in Rick’s eyes burned out, the growling died down as well. Rick let out a heavy breath clearing the left over rage from his body. He felt looser. His breaths were still heavy, his eyes were understanding while they gazed at Viv. He let out a sharp snort with heavy brows to convey to Viv that he was still upset with her.

The smart play was would be to lunge at Viv and take her hostage and use her to help him escape. It didn’t matter, Rick was going to die that day or a few days later after being imprisoned. Rick knew it to be true. This deep in an Erubesco city without his powers and confronted by highly trained Erubesco Knights, there was no way he’d survive. He’d committed too many crimes for Erubesco not to sentence him to death and a fight gave him even less time to live.

Faced with certain doom Rick found himself unfazed. This day was long overdue. He was ready.

‘I’m not going down without a fight. If they want to kill they’ll have to earn it with blood,’ he told himself. He was ready to face the voice whom initiated the challenge but he stopped himself.

‘I wish…that I could’ve…done something… right…that I…was able to…to…do something…good…for this world. That my life…had some meaning…besides destruction and killing and pain and suffering. I wish…that wishes meant anything…wishing never did anything for me. I want to, no I need to do some good before I die. Something. This is my last chance I have to do something try something.’ Rick’s mind went blank for a few heart beats before an idea came to him.

‘It won’t work,’ Rick thought but he also thought, ‘Like that’s ever stopped me before.’

He turned around finally facing the voice. The lights went out, fire illuminated the darkness, and a tall powerful redhead stood before Rick ready to kill him.

The library was well lit, no fire detected, and a tall powerful redhead stood before Rick ready to kill him.

Kora was her name and both images were true at different times in his life. Now the voice was completely recognized now. Kora fought Rick during the rescue mission for Dawn and the other captured Wanderers. He won. She nearly died, apparently, just like her daughter, also apparently. Somehow they both were alive and super angry at Rick. To this day Rick didn’t understand what truly happened to Kora and Hel and to this day Rick didn’t care.

Though it should matter now because Kora was back and she more than likely was holding a grudge. To make matters worse, she seemed more powerful than the last time they faced. It would be just Rick’s luck if she did upgrade her power level.

It struck Rick that he could only see two Erubesco Knights ready to take him on. Only two. After all that Rick was capable of and the amount of destruction he’d already caused, Erubesco sent only two Knights to bring him in. Rick felt extremely insulted. Sure it was better for him because it was more likely for him to survive now but still it stung that his last stand would play out this way.

Rick’s legs gave out suddenly. His knees it the floor, Rick put his hands out to catch himself. His arms held strong keeping his face from striking the ground too. The bumps to his knees would be annoying if he could feel anything from the knee down.

Viv was speaking now but she introduced herself as either Botrelle or Norrevinter. Definitely not Marigold. Whatever her real name was her fake demeanor was expelled revealing much to Rick. Her voice suddenly easy to place because of the confident strong quality it now possessed. Rick heard that voice during Dawn’s rescue.

‘I think she was the one who nearly killed Kayla, the only remaining Wanderer who isn’t on my bad side,’ he thought to himself. The urge to kill rose up in him again, he sighed instead. Rick’s heart felt like it was being twisted, a knot formed in his stomach, and an emptiness materialized somewhere in between those two organs.

“I don’t want to kill any more…” his voice trailed off. The discomfort in his body released as his willingness to kill subsided.

Rick remembered something about a plan to make his agony filled life meaningful. A plan that wouldn’t work. He tried anyway.

“If you want me to surrender I’ll do it. I have a condition, you’d be smart to listen to it.” Rick eyes were intense, his stare stayed with Kora. “I want Erubesco to leave the Wanderers alone. No more attacks, no more missions to capture them, no more forcing them to do your bidding. Guess what, with me gone and Erubesco leaving them alone, they’ll stop fighting Erubesco completely. Win-win. It was me that wanted to destroy Erubesco…and Liberty, not the rest of them.” Rick switched his gaze to Lulu a.k.a. Viv.

“I thought they’d be safer if Liberty and Erubesco were out of the picture, that maybe the world would be better off without them. They never believed in that. They never will…take my condition up the chain and get me a deal otherwise you two will have to take me in the hard way. That is, if you don’t die trying.” Rick’s confidence was unflinching.

Being stuck on your knees isn’t intimidating at all but it didn’t change the fact that most people get killed when they try to kill him. Maybe that would be enough to get them to take his offer seriously.

“And before you say no deal let me remind you that you both are surrounded by electronic devices and electrical power sources.” A devilish smile crept on his face as he let Kora and Lulu imagine the destructive possibilities his power over lightning and electricity could do. Rick’s mind was full of ideas of what he could do if his lightning/electricity powers were working.

There was no way they could know that he didn’t have his powers. Suspicions maybe…maybe.

Lulu cleared up a lot for Rick with the little bit of information she gave including the idea that there was a squad waiting for him outside.

“I don’t believe you,” Rick said. He just watched her lie to his face for at least five minutes, there was no way he’d trust her now.

Pain shot up his body no doubt from the nervous system manipulator. Rick visibly flinched but made no noise. He recovered immediately after the impulse of pain faded. Again it would be easier to handle the pain with his powers. Super strength let his body handle way more than the average human could endure.

“I’ll do whatever you want if…my condition is met. I don’t care what happens to me.” The look in his eyes were pure, not an ounce of deception in them. “I’ll lay down and let you jail me until your unjust trail gets me executed. I’ll fight you both if you’d rather have the satisfaction of getting revenge on me. I know you both want it. You two were at the base I hit trying to rescue Dawn. It was Erubesco’s fault for taking her…and other Wanderers in the first place. So, I’ll die a bloody mess right here right now if the Wanderers get to live free from your terror.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Memoli Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle Character Portrait: Rick Ronin Character Portrait: Makorai Saika
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Clenched jaw to hold back the anger. Kora is as small minded as anyone else. She spewed the same rhetoric that helped cause Rick decades of nightmares, low self esteem, and self hatred. It was that same talk that caused everyone to hate Rick without bothering to hear his side of the story. That speech was the very thing that Rick hoped to have hardened himself to.

He didn’t. Still Rick is a monster to everyone. Still people believed that he was without a soul. Still no one understood the pain he felt every day and night for the things he’s done. Still no one cared. Why should anyone care? It’s just best to destroy the things you hate and easily justify it as “for the good of the people”.

No one imagined that Rick had been able to be peaceful thanks to a person with a tremendous heart, a strong understanding to his true feelings, and an unbreakable desire to help him.

Rick’s earlier comments came out of his butt to goad Kora into attacking him expecting, and hoping, that she’d just strike him out of rage. Instead she lashed out verbally before doing anything else, seemingly unfazed by his words. Again, Rick’s words failed him.

The only thing Rick can count on is his ability with violence. How could he hope to be more than a weapon of destruction if he had no other tools that work?

Rick’s hands tightened into fists. Kora pissed him off but it was a controlled anger. The part of him that considered just giving up without a fight shrank out of existence while the part of him that thirsted for battle grew.

Kora splayed her fingers causing them to glow. Rick’s narrow eyes noted it. His peripherals took in his surroundings. She continued to speak but she stopped to plant her feet. There was no rush in her movements. She wound up preparing to strike.

Kora kept talking, Rick only half heard what she was saying. His mind recalled the video he just watched of the pro kickboxers sparring. They didn’t move during the fight, they flowed like water away from the opponent’s attacks whipping back with their own attacks. It was like watching a delicate dance disrupted by occasional strikes to the body and face. It was beautiful and graceful in its own way.

Rick positioned his knees slightly different. She stopped talking, her eyes flared, and her fist started to uncoil. Instantly Rick was ready for it, without thinking Rick twisted his whole body, excluding the disabled legs, to the opposite side of her fist’s trajectory. Rick could feel the heat from Kora’s fist as it passed by his face without touching it. Instinctively Rick mirrored the video throwing a power jab at Kora’s now exposed stomach while he dodged Kora’s punch.

Rick then uncoiled throwing a cross, hook, cross to Kora’s upper body. Had Rick been standing, or if Kora was much shorter, those punches would’ve been able to strike her face. But Rick was stuck on his knees and Kora was exceedingly tall leaving her upper body as the only viable option to attack.

Rick’s ease with the movements proved that somewhere in his past he had actual kickboxing training and that he excelled at it. It was so natural and fluid with a high level of speed. The power of all four strikes maxed out at three hundred pounds of force which is about a hundred pounds more powerful than master kickboxers, without super strength, could strike.

Rick didn’t waste time waiting to see if his attacks hit. The amount of damage he could do to her was minimal, the only way he could beat her is if Rick could hit her enough times without getting hit himself. Being able to fully use his legs would help too.

So he flung himself away from Kora then used his hands and arms as legs to “run” away. Open palms pressed hard against the ground. Rick’s elbows locked into place keeping his body upright, his upper body was up at a forty five degree angle as he quickly traveled across the library. His feet dragged behind him as he moved. Rick traveled behind book cases, support columns, and rows of computers.

His haphazard moves where helpful on two fronts. The movements were less predictable for Kora to read making it harder for her to catch him and a clear line of sight to him from the window was blocked. It offered little more than the occasional blurred movement for the sniper outside to target Rick. The sniper that Rick wasn’t aware of was targeting him.

Finally Rick found a suitable desk against a wall. Rick climbed an adjacent chair then pulled himself up onto the desk, his back against the wall. His hands came up to his face in a proper kick boxing stance. For a second Rick noticed the small sliver of sunshine from the front window. The sunray traced the right side of his body from his head to his waist.

“I was never taught how to use my powers!” Rick yelled at Kora who was probably on his tail. “I had to figure it out on my own! Because of it there were times when I lost control of my powers and people got killed. That doesn’t make me a monster!” Rick wished he'd figured that out years ago.

Though Rick was shouting he was prepared to attack then dodge the moment Kora stepped into his fist’s range.

“I’m not using the civilians as a bargaining chip, I’m using them as a wakeup call! As in don’t rush into a fight with me without thinking about what could happen to them!” Rick continued to yell. There was actual fear in his heart for the civilians of this city.

His powers were gone as far as he could tell but his powers had a way of showing up when Rick needed them the most, to protect himself from getting killed. Usually at the expense of anyone in the way of his powers. Sure, it would be great to knock Kora clear through the solid walls with a single punch or surge thousands of volts of electricity through her but if an innocent person was killed because of it he’d go insane. Or more insane.

“And I didn’t justify my actions, I justified the Wanderer’s actions. I know the things I’ve done are horrible! The only thing I can say about it is that I hoped something good would come out of it.” Rick thought about Dawn and Drake.

His voice softened as he spoke again, “That maybe if I did those things, they wouldn’t have to…” His voice picked up to a louder angrier tone again.

“But you think you’re justified to do terrible things because you’re a soldier. That mindlessly following the evil orders of your master makes you immune from judgment! Guess what? Attacking and trying to kidnap an innocent sixteen year old girl is wrong! It’s evil! And you support one of the organizations who ordered it!”

One last thing he yelled to Kora with hatred in his eyes, “Hate me, kill me, but don’t EVER think that you know me! You don’t!”