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A Gifted World

Helton

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a part of A Gifted World, by Miss Echo.

A nice safe place to rest... If you don't mind death, decay, and skeletons.

scoundrelboots holds sovereignty over Helton, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

325 readers have been here.

Setting

Once one of the first Gifted Cities built after the Gifted-Human Conflict, Helton was taken over by Erubesco soon after the start of the Faction War and converted to the most advanced training facility of its time; its population forcibly recruited as Knights.

It only served Erubesco for two years before an angry Curse-Gifted lashed out, and made the city uninhabitable to Erubesco Knights by means of a curse that killed any loyal to the Kingdom within four hours. Now, Helton is a city of loss and decay, where the remains of the trapped Knights can still be found underfoot.

With its location unknown to Liberty and untouchable by Erubesco, it is a favorite resting spot for weary travelers, but the general unease inspired by the area has driven possible permanent inhabitants away.
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Helton

A nice safe place to rest... If you don't mind death, decay, and skeletons.

Minimap

Helton is a part of The Wasteland.

3 Characters Here

Agent Mayday [0] Liberty, or death. Mine, and yours.
Alexander Harrison [0] The bitterness and sarcastic words only run so deep
Marcus Harrison [0] The past haunts him in a literal sense

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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."

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.