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Jude Oakheart

Why have I been cursed with this?

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a character in “Angel....or Mutant?”, as played by Firebird18

Description

Name: Jude Oakheart
"The name's Jude Oakheart, but Jude just is fine."
Age: 16
"I act much older than I actually am."
Wing Color: Maroon (undersides are a light auburn color, black tips/ends on the outside; omit the icy blue tops)
"I guess its not to bad having my favorite color sprawled across my back."
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Appearance: Jude stands 5'9" and has dark brown short/medium length hair. His eyes have dashes of green but for the most part are a silvery gray. He is very strong in terms of humans and would have been athletically inclined if he had had a "normal childhood." He is light skinned and wears a white tee underneath a black pullover hoodie, blue jeans, and black sneakers. He has a black messenger bag whose strap crosses his body top right to bottom left. He almost always wears his knit hat but when he doesn't he puts it in his bag.
Powers:
-Diamond-hard skin (with armadillo weak points: belly, genitals, hands, feet, face are unarmored- still harmed by electrical shocks, heat, cold and all that kind of stuff) "Just try stabbing me in the back!"
-Phase through solid objects "For those times when using the door just isn't an option."
-Enhanced five senses (can see farther, pick up scents like a dog, hear footsteps through an air vent; this power is by far Jude's most versatile and useful ability) "It's like I'm a half step ahead of everyone!"

Personality

Jude is a strong-willed but easy going guy. He has a great sense of humour and the ability to get serious when the time needs. He loves his friends as if they were family and hates people who lie, cheat and steal when not necessary. he is kindhearted and gentle to those below him but mature and stoic to those above himself, always striving to seem older.

Equipment

He has a small messenger bag which doesn't get in the way of his wings in which he carries anything he may need.

History

He doesn't remember much after what The Ward did to him but he does remember, or thinks he remembers, that he has a family, somewhere.

He practiced to perfect his powers while locked in his cage. He escaped from The Ward using a new found ability to phase through solid objects. He is a Generation 5 angel. While he was trapped in the lab Eins telepathically linked their thoughts. Jude travels back and forth between possible insanity and reality.

So begins...

Jude Oakheart's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart
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Jude Oakheart
The Lab




The cage was cold as usual, and the gnawing and gnashing of teeth and claws around Jude were also very similar to what they normally were. Everything around him was black and grey. Walls, floor, ceiling, bars. One of the only rooms he knew anymore. He sat, concentrating on honing his skills and planning an escape in his loneliness. He put his finger against a bar of the cage and concentrated.
That was the first time he heard another voice belonging to another prisoner. It was a girl's voice, and it was soft and warm, as it came to his ears from what seemed to be the back of his head. "Hello? Can anyone hear me?" Jude spun around thinking it came from behind him in his little cage, but there was emptiness.
"YES! I'M HERE!" Jude shouted in response, but the voice echoed back: "Anyone? Help me."
Jude struggled against the bars of his tiny cage and continued to shout. "I AM HERE! YOU'RE NOT ALONE! I WILL HELP YOU!!!" With his adamant response, he sat back again and replaced his finger on the bar. He shut his eyes and silenced the burning inside of him, detaching all feeling from the tiny appendage. The finger seemed to fade, not fully a whole finger anymore, as it slid through the metal bar.


2 months later:

Jude sat in his cage sending his entire arm back and forth through the wall of his enclosure. He had only- up until then- been able to send arms and legs into intangibility at once but never his whole body. He spent the past two months attempting to perfect that ability as well as discovering two new ones, which he knew would come in handy.
He had declared himself mentally insane by his own calculations. Other than screams of pain, no words had been uttered from his mouth in two months. He let himself hold in all of his words, saving them for his captors and for his only friend: the voice. He yearned for the voice again. At the same time almost every day, the voice- who proclaimed her name to be Eins- would send out messages, relaying thoughts in the form of sentences and JC heard them. They were choppy and short at first, but JC heard them and recently he had been able to somewhat respond to them. He did not know however how legitimate she actually was. Jude had not seen daylight in a very long time. He has been the only person other than the monstrous doctors around that he knows exist. All that time without any human contact did a number on him. He had no idea how to even fathom someone being able to talk to him, nonetheless through his thoughts. He looked at the clock he could see out of his cage in the distance. 12:43. The voice was 5 minutes late.
He waited and waited and finally heard something from inside his head. "One more turn and that should do it!"
"What do you mean?" Jude responded in the silence of his mind. He had never heard anything like that before.
"I'm out. I'm free!" the voice shouted.
Jude sat in horror. Could this actually have been another human being? Or did his mind grow tired of playing games and needed a way out? If it were a human, how did she escape? Could she be like him? He looked to his back and shook his head- no one could be like him. The only thing close enough were the Vamps- horrible ugly creatures, that caused all the noise around him, barely intelligent enough to walk, let alone fly.
The voice came to Jude once more, this time it shouted: "JUDE GET OUT NOW!"
He shot upwards and turned to the wall behind him, not fully conscious of what he was doing. He took a deep breath in and shut his eyes. He placed his hands firmly on the wall in front of him. In his mind, something almost clicked as he felt his soul's burning silence. He felt his entire body lose feeling and a cool sensation passed straight through him from his palms, through his face and abdomen to his legs.
He opened his eyes again. He was in an unfamiliar hallway, lit be fluorescent rods and signs that numbered testing chambers. He had done it. He completely phased through the wall and was on his way to escaping. He stretched his wings to their full length and removed the "patient suit" that he had been wearing, now clothed in only a pair of boxers. He leapt into the air and glided down the hall on his large maroon wings. He had never had very long to use them so he decided he better use them as often as possible to get used to them.
His flying was not spectacular but it was getting there. He beat his wings and traveled faster towards the end of the hall. There was a locked door which had written on it the words: "Personal Belongings" He jiggled the locked door and upon failing to open the door, again concentrated and phased through the wall, this time faster than the last. He looked for normal clothing that would now fit him. He found a pair of blue jeans and a tee shirt which he strategically ripped holes in the back for his wings. Black sneakers and a black-grey hoodie were the next things found. He put the sneakers on and put the hoodie in a messenger bag he found. Then he saw it. The most elegant knit hat he had ever laid his eyes upon. It was a grey hat that was too big for him. He put it on anyways, letting his longish hair fall out of the front of it.
He phased out of the room, this time without placing his hands on the wall but imagining they were there. "This is to real," he whispered to himself, "but I have to get out." He took to his wings again, and bounded through the air towards the other end of the hallway. He picked up speed and closed his eyes again, letting go of his body again and again passed through the cinder wall.
He landed hard on the ground, rolling to a stop. There was dirt in his mouth but he was unscathed. His skin had developed its own "Armour" or so he called it, not being able to be pierced by sharp objects an standing up fairly well against blunt force. He looked around. The sky was dark, and the moon was full and high in the sky. He stood and turned his back to the facility to breathe in the cool night air.

A loud swooping noise and a thud ended his peace. He turned to see a small humanoid creature with batlike wings standing behind him. It was a Vamp! He lunged forward placing his large hand around her neck and shoving her against the cold building. "I am giving you three seconds to explain yourself."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins
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150 centimeters. That was the diameter of the circular world around me, its stone walls the very boundaries of existence in my eyes.

Jude was his name. That identity was the only one of its kinda that had jumped out at me from the chaotic mess of thoughts that bounced around through my head, as though it, unlike the others, wanted to be heard, instead of being simply eavesdropped upon by myself, an uninvited guest into the outside world. It was frightening, knowing not all of these pieces of knowledge were my own, but after a while, I grew accustomed to their presence, and slowly discovered how to differentiate the thousands of the screaming voices that assailed me from all sides through my waking hours. I soon found myself able to recognize the faint voice of Jude - reaching my ears (not literally, of course) from some distance outside my world - and the quiet whispers of my own subconscious, as well as the voices of the countless other nameless beings that dwelt in worlds close enough to my own to hear. Sometimes, they were loud, and sometimes, they were very faint, as though mere murmurs spoken in sleep. In truth, this was actually probably the case. I understood from the thoughts I received that outside, there was something called a "sun," and a bright time and a dark time, but for as long as I could remember, all I had ever seen was the spherical concrete shell that encased me even now. The time in which I was awake probably varied over time, alternating between consciousness in the light - or "Day" - time and unconsciousness in the dark - or "Night" - time, and vice versa.

Jude was, from what I could gather, somehow similar to myself, and yet different. He, like me, was not what the majority of thoughts I inadvertently intercepted defined as "Human" - specifically, a sapient of the genus Homo (supposedly the only species in that genus, although the existence of creatures such as myself or Jude disproved this hypothesis entirely) - but was also unlike me in many ways. According to his knowledge, he was apparently something called an "Angel," a Humanoid sentient modified to also possess avian characteristics such as feathered wings, air sacks, and hollowed bones. I was apparently something different, a creature known to him as a "Vampire," and yet, many of the traits associated with this creature were greatly different from myself. I found that I - unlike the Vampires of my contact's knowledge - possessed feather-like scales on my wings, and was much lighter and swifter than these creatures - similar to Angels like Jude - while also sharing some similarities with those beings, such as my compact frame, bat-like - as opposed to feathered - wings, and, most notably, in the nagging voice which spoke to me from within, rather than reaching my thoughts from outside.

This voice soon came to be known to me as "Sariya." This, at first, was greatly confusing to me, as that name did not match my own designation of "Eins," as given to me by the mysterious beings - known to Jude as Masters - who created me and placed me here. However, this dilemma resolved itself as it dawned on me that this voice, unlike the others I heard throughout every instant of my existence, was, in fact, a part of myself that had always been there, concealed by the thoughts rampaging through the inside of my skull until I grew skilled enough to tune them out. This made me wonder if the thoughts I assumed to be my own were not, in fact, simply external knowledge I was receiving and assimilating for my own use - meaning the person I defined as "I" might not, in fact, be myself. Because of this, I decided to wipe the slate clean, and treat my own existence as uncertain, deeming it more logical to pass on my knowledge to this "Sariya," as it was the only one of the voices I could safely assume to be my own.

Sariya. That was the name I devised for myself. From what Eins had gathered, it was desirable for name to have beauty, and to compliment oneself. The simple numeric designation of "one" I had received at creation held neither of these qualities - there was no proof that a "two," or a "three" existed along with myself, making my own number of "one" meaningless, according to the reasoning provided by myself/her - so, as I redefined myself as a person rather than a collective of thoughts, I replaced it with a real, actual name that I felt suited me. That was one of the happiest times of my life, knowing for once that, without a doubt, I existed, and more importantly, I was a "person" with a "heart."

It was hard to adjust, at first. When Eins had been who I was, everything had been so simple, painted in terms of black and white, of rational deduction and logical proofs. Now that I had come into myself, I also had to deal with the emotions about which Eins had heard so much, but had never experienced. Because of this, I soon found myself feeling alternatively lonely, sad, and bored.

To these three problems, Eins proposed a solution. And so the games began. They were very simple things, various physical activities meant to keep my mind off of the pondering in which it had delighted before the hard times came - questions like "Why have I been left trapped here?" and "What did I do wrong?" nagged my new-found conscience, haunting my psyche and bringing with them that gloomy, distant feeling of forgotten guilt, as though I had committed some grave crime so long ago I could no longer remember what it was, or worse, that I was continuing in my unknown error up to the present, warranting my continued imprisonment. Far worse than this, however, was the fear that I simply was no longer of any value - that my mistake had been so complete and final as to deny me any hope of redemption. The fear that I would be left here forever, cold and alone save for the voices of beings I could not be sure were real, just as I had once realized I could not be sure of my own existence, nagged me eternally.

Cold? Ah, yes, I forgot to mention how very frigid it was inside my little world. As I said before, it was spherical in dimension, with a radius of 150 centimeters from side to side - this knowledge of distance I acquired from the mind of one of the mysterious Masters by accident, but used to define my circumstances ever since then - made of solid concrete. It was not very thick, a fact I could determine from how often the cold air from the ventilation systems nearby pierced through it, chilling me to the bone. There were no furnishings to my abode, and the only clothes I had were the tight, thin jumpsuit I wore - a variant of some garment known as a "straight jacket," although the cuffs on its wrist section had been left unfastened during my imprisonment, leaving only a binding around my mouth to prevent me from speaking (this collar having been installed after I bothered the monitoring staff by incessantly singing tunes of my own invention, which were evidently quite terrible by Human standards, although I adored their sound as much as I enjoyed the distraction their creation and repetition allowed me). This garment hugged my skin closely, meshing seamlessly into a foot-covering that was half high-collared boot, half rigidly hard stocking, and was made of a soft, flimsy material that probably framed my figure in such a way that made me look like a marble statue due to its blank white coloring - although the cuffs and collar departed from this scheme, instead being a dark navy with silver buckles - and did nothing to keep me warm. When I was not spinning - a favorite activity of mine that amused me to no end - to keep my thoughts from wandering - sort of like they have been for the past few paragraphs - and my body from freezing, I generally found myself curled up on the floor of my world, my knees hugged tightly to my torso and my wings - which fortunately poked out through my jumpsuit, as it was backless for specifically this purpose (although, unfortunately, this made me even colder than I otherwise would have been) - wrapped around me as a sort of blanket, although their cold, hard texture and small size did little to keep out the frigid air.

During these times of silence and stillness, I would relent and allow my mind to wander. But, instead of pondering my existence and what my current loneliness meant, I contemplated the existences of other beings outside of my own little world. Most often, the person to whom my mind turned was Jude.

I believe Eins mentioned him a little while ago. I didn't know much of him, but I did know that he was an Angel, similar to myself, and a prisoner, like myself. From what I could tell, he had failed in some way also, and was being punished for it almost constantly. This made me feel sorry for him, because in a way, I saw he was just like me, and wanted to make him feel better just as much as, if not more than I wanted my own happiness. Because of that, I finally resolved to reach out to him, reasoning that, since I myself felt lonely, he likely felt this way as well. And so, mustering my courage and my wits about me, I attempted for the first time to reverse the link between us, and to send my own thoughts to him.

To my delight, it was a success, for the thoughts I could hear him experiencing drastically changed, his fearful resignation being replaced by confusion and wonder.

"Can anyone hear me?" I had asked. "Can anyone help me?" I added, still holding onto hope that there was something - or rather, someone - outside, who might free me from the cold shell surrounding me.

"YES!" The resounding reply had been as he desperately latched onto my voice, instantly wishing for me to receive his thoughts and inviting me into his mind, something which, to my delight, made speaking with him all that much easier. But, equally to my dismay, I found that his mind was almost too much for me to take in, overwhelming me with countless sensations of pain, grief, and anguish. Acting completely on instinct, now, I tried my hardest to take all this in, hoping that if I did so, his words would become clear.

It worked well, too well, even, for in an instant, I felt as though my body was being consumed from the inside out, terrible pain wracking me to the very core. It was a feeling I had never experienced before, and, taking me thus by surprise, completely and utterly wrecked me, knocking me to the floor of my cell where I lay in tears, the agony far too much for me to bear without first growing used to it. I'm not ashamed to say that I sobbed profusely, if silently, and that my eyes were blurry for some time afterwards, the hardness of the billowing cuffs on my sleeves only serving to increase my pain rather than alleviate it as I frantically rubbed at my wet eyes. But, through that chaotic mess of agony - a feeling I would soon grow used to, as I began taking on the pain from my newfound friend almost unceasingly - I could discern four words, words which, despite my tortures, filled me with relief and joy.

"You are not alone."

.....

The cold wind blew powerfully beneath my wings, a sensation which, like the pain I had felt so long ago in my solitary, silent world, I had never experienced before. The night was chilly, especially this high up, but after feeling this cold for all of my life, I probably would have been more surprised and uncomfortable if it had been warm. Although I had gathered how to fly over time through my contact with Jude, I had never actually been able to practice it until now, so what I was doing was not only instinctive, but also very risky. But the prospect that I might fall and kill myself was far less terrible than a much more horrifying threat. I was, after all, fresh out of my prison, only just awoken in an unfamiliar world not all that far from the place I had emerged from. Those who had held me captive for so long might well have realized that I had, in fact, survived my supposed "Death" - although how I had done so I could not yet understand - and come in pursuit of me. With this hellish specter of fright on my heels, I admit, I wanted nothing more than to fly as fast and as far as I could away. But, there was just one small thing keeping me from doing so. That hindrance, that little voice on the edge of my conscience, called to me just as it had done all that time ago in my prison.

I could sense Jude, and to my surprise, he was here - outside, in the world beyond the walls! I didn't know how he had escaped, but I did know that I would be much safer with him than on my own. And, I admit, I was anxious - anxious to finally meet him face to face, desperate to finally connect with someone else in a manner I had never thought possible... But, most importantly, I felt terribly lonely, and the thought that I might finally be able to have a "friend" was just too much for me to resist. And so, I turned back toward the facility, diving to meet him as he emerged from behind the storage warehouse - ironically enough, the very same building from which I had made my escape not an hour ago. As I landed, folding my wings and stepping out into the light, my heart was beating faster than it ever had before, my excitement simply too much to hold in.

And so, you can probably imagine my surprise when, as I opened my mouth to hail him - forgetting for an instant that I was still gagged, not to mention cuffed by my straight jacket after the guards had taken me to be executed - revealing myself as the Eins he had known for so long - I had used that name simply because I wasn't used to being referred to as Sariya, and had in fact once been mocked for calling myself thus when, on a rare occasion, the one who delivered meals to my cell had sparked a conversation with me on a random whim - I found myself interrupted by a powerful hand clenching around my throat, sending me crashing backward into the hard concrete wall behind me. I could feel the rough surface of the wall grinding into my back, which was left woefully uncovered by my jumpsuit, as mentioned before. My wings very well might have broken from the impact, were it not for their protective, scaly coating. This didn't stop it from being absolutely agonizing, even more so than the very first pain I had taken from Jude when I had first contacted him. I screamed in surprise and anguish, but this sound was unfortunately muffled by the cloth gag buckled tightly around my mouth, meaning my captor probably didn't even realize the incredible amount of pain I was in right now. Even worse was the fact that the very same gag that stifled my voice before it could leave my throat was the fact that it covered my face nearly up to the base of my nose, its white folds concealing almost all traces of an expression from view and preventing him from understanding my anguish by this means, as well, although it fortunately did not conceal the tears beginning to flow from my tightly shut burgundy eyes. Regardless, if he was handling me this roughly, I had a feeling that he wouldn't care, regardless. Was this really Jude? It couldn't have been! Even if his face was silhouetted by the light of the moon shining down from behind him - although I wouldn't have been able to see through the water blurring my eyes anyway - thus preventing me from recognizing him based on the descriptions I had uncovered amongst the Angel prisoner's thoughts, I was certain that this being any other than an adversary was impossible.

"I'll give you three seconds to explain yourself," The man restraining me hissed in a voice that made me fear for my very soul, let alone my life. That question seemed to point toward his being a guard meant to keep me from leaving rather than the fellow escapee I had been so convinced I would meet here. And, while under normal circumstances I might have been able to wrench myself free thanks to the strength packed into my mutant body, my arms were tightly bound, and he had the upper hand in size and power, rendering me helpless. On top of this, I couldn't even answer him, since my mouth was gagged, and any telepathic appeal would surely be a death sentence to me! My only hope now was for Jude to save me, but this mysterious man's appearance seemed to cast doubt on the idea that he had ever actually escaped. Both his mind and mine were in a haze of pain and fear, leaving them so confused that I could neither make sense of my own circumstances to plan a means of getting away, nor could I beg him to come and help me - or even so much as discern his location!

And, I realized, this man knew exactly what I was. The silvery moonlight that bathed me in its radiance revealed every single feature of my body to him, from my silver hair and wings, to my tear-streaked face, to my even more incriminating straight jacket and restraints, fastened tightly to keep me from escaping, a purpose they were serving even now, after I had thought myself finally free. Oh, the irony, to think that my escape would be cut off so early, that I would never see the outside world beyond a glimpse of light in the darkness before I was sent back underground in a casket not unlike my previous prison save for the length of neverending time it would hold me! No, fate was a cruel mistress, and I could never escape it. I was a hopeless failure, and because of that, even now that I was "free," I was still alone.

Driven to desperation by my circumstances, I acted on impulse. It was the first thing that occurred to me, and, even if it probably wasn't the best plan I could have devised, I went through with it regardless. In my situation, it seemed like the only hope I had, even if it was a dim one. But, even if the protector upon whom I now relied could not reach me in time to be of any use, I still wanted him, at least, to know of my final fate, to know that I had existed, once, and paid the price for that life I had led, and the failures I had once apparently committed.

"Eins! Sariya Eins!" I screamed telepathically, directing the thought toward what I hoped was Jude's accepting mind and releasing it with all the mental power I could muster.

"Help me! Please.... H-help me!"

(OOC Addendum: Well, that was much longer than I originally meant it to be. Sorry about the wall of text, everyone. I guess I got a little carried away. Anyhow, it looks like I can't tag my character due to the " beginning her name, so I apologize for that as well. XD)

Setting

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Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins
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Eins screamed in his head: "HELP ME!!!!"
Jude dropped the vamp and spun around. He had to save her. He had promised her before and intended to keep that promise. He heard the vamp softly squeak on the ground behind him. He turned to see the creature with her back against the wall in what seemed to be a type of fetal position. He looked at her, her eyes showed a sense of fear but her mouth was bound with a strap. "You couldn’t be…" he said to himself.
He stood the girl up and turned her around. He removed the gag from her mouth. She didn’t have the fangs that normal vamps had and her complexion was not as horrifying. She actually looked very human like. He stared at her only to break the silence with what he thought was a very dim question but the only one his voice could muster: "Are you the girl? Eins?"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins
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As suddenly as it had begun, the attack was over.

Just when it seemed my lungs would collapse from lack of oxygen - my assailant's powerful grip cut my breath off quite effectively, compounding my momentary suffering - I was suddenly relieved of the crushing pressure on my throat, although this came at the price of being drawn back, then violently hurled against the wall. I struck it as though I'd been fired from a cannon, and for a moment, I was so dazed that the world seemed to turn upside down and twist every which way around me. My legs gave out, and I collapsed, unable to catch myself on my arms - although this would have been difficult even under more favorable circumstances, considering they were fastened together by the restricting garment I wore - before I found myself face down on the pavement, this secondary impact jarring my skull almost as much as the first had.

Once I'd gathered my wits about me, I began to squirm desperately, trying and failing to force my battered, dazed body to a standing position, a task which was made even harder by the fact that I couldn't move my arms. To my surprise, however, I found myself rising to my feet despite the apparent impossibility of it. A moment's check confirmed my fears, for I found I'd been grasped by the scruff of the neck and hauled roughly upright by my captor. Still dazed from lack of oxygen and from the many things I'd been slammed into in quick succession, I was unable to balance, and went stumbling forward, collapsing pathetically against my assailant like a ragdoll, my weakened knees threatening to give out again. But if I were to fall now, I'd be at his mercy. Terrified of what he might do to me, I mustered all of my remaining strength and pushed off of him as hard as I could, staggering backward and out of his clutches. Unfortunately, I had made the rather foolish mistake of forgetting the wall that stood directly behind me, and found myself simply running against it, with no route of escape left open to me and my balance compromised. Worse yet, he was much larger and more stoutly built than myself, and had hardly even budged from the feeble shove I'd given him. I looked about in desperation, but found that flight had been rendered impossible. As he reached out his hand toward my face, I shut my eyes tightly and gave a quiet, stifled cry of terror, bracing myself for the pain I knew was coming.

Click.

That sound... you can imagine my bewilderment when I realized that the buckle of the tight cord wound around my mouth, the pressure of which I had been accustomed to for years, had been forced apart, and that the cloth that once held fast, sealing my lips shut for as long as I could remember, was now hanging loosely, reduced to a mere oversized collar - although it still half-covered my mouth and some of my nose. The man drew his hand back, and for the first time since he had attacked me, I got a good view of his face.

It couldn't have been, and yet it was. His appearance was identical to the one I had uncovered in the thoughts of Jude, who I had thought was my friend, and who had yet attacked me, apparently without provocation. Hadn't he seen my wings? Didn't he realize I was his friend? He couldn't have possibly mistaken me for one of the black-uniformed, gun-toting guards, so why had he reacted to my arrival so violently? I was struck dumb by the realization that the person in whom I had expected a kind comrade and a friend might well be nothing like what I had at first hoped, and by the fear that these thoughts brought me. Suddenly, the one I had returned to the facility to unite with seemed to me more like a fearful and terrible menace than any sort of guardian or ally.

"Are you the girl? Eins?" He asked sternly, his expression unreadable as he gazed down at me like an avenging angel preparing to crush the head of some loathsome devil beneath his boot heel. Considering the feathery wings sprouting forth from his back, which seemed to glisten in the light of the full moon that loomed behind him, and how he towered over me as though preparing to deal me the death blow, this was a terrifyingly apt analogy. I was frightened out of my wits at this point, and so decided it would be most prudent to simply comply rather than do anything rash, although I found myself shrinking backward despite this, even if all I did was press myself more tightly up against the cold, hard wall that blocked my escape. Unused to using my voice after being silenced for so long, I instead gave a quick, fearful nod, making a slight affirmative squeak as I did so.

I was shaking all over, although whether it was from the cold or from my sheer, mind-blowing terror, I couldn't say, although the cold sweat that was beginning to soak me from head to foot would point toward it being a symptom of the latter. What was he going to do to me? Why was he doing this? What was going on? All of these questions filled my mind among several of a similar sort, but more terrifying than the need to ask these questions at all was the complete lack of answers I had at my disposal. All I could do was watch, wait, and pray that he didn't choose to kill me here and now...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Connor Krauklis Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart Character Portrait: Haley Price Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins Character Portrait: Marcus Character Portrait: Taylor Rice Character Portrait: Samuel Echtin Character Portrait: Euro Character Portrait: Carter McAdams Character Portrait: Brendan McAdams Character Portrait: Matthew "Matt" Bernard Character Portrait: Marceline "Marcy" Bernard Character Portrait: Michael
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Settings: Heated lab in the freezing colds of Antarctica

Dr. Gunther stared at the various monitors secured to the lackluster gray wall in his office. What better place to have a secret lab than in the isolated white plains of Antarctica?

Each screen was filled with one interesting image or another. A few of them even ineffectually displayed the outside of the Antarctican Ward in all its insipid glory.

But the most interesting monitors were the ones right in front of Dr. Gunther. The ones that showed them.

Generation 5

The most advanced form of Pouli Anthropos.

There they were in all their glory. Tall, graceful creatures, that looked almost as endearing as softly painted pastel angels. Their wings were smooth and shiny, as healthy as any well fed fowl, and they expressed the slim musculature that was to be expected of their generation. They were beautiful.

Okay, who was Gunther kidding? The children were ragged, poorly dressed, escapees, with little to their names but the few various items they’d conned and stolen out of innocent, unaware, humans. Still, it was better than nothing.

Their cunning showed their willingness to survive and thrive in relatively poor conditions. Weather they accomplished their survival by brute force or trickery varied from child to child, but, 88% of the time, resulted in victory.

They showed poor social skills in regards to humans, but seemed to trust one another (out of the few that had actually encountered each other), and showed a willingness to work together, or become accomplices.

Carefully, he looked from monitor to monitor, meticulously observing the actions that took place within the walls of the black boxes.

The first one he glanced over showed two of the older children speaking, strangely enough, near a dumpster. For a millisecond, he wondered how they were tolerating the repulsive scent of garbage, before shifting through his files.

“Taylor Rice” and “Samuel Echtin” were their unnumbered names. The poor boy, in an attempt to divulge answers about the Ward, questioned the girl. She answered in a typically sarcastic manner. Then, she asked a literal question. Something Gunther thought was a plausible question.

“Hey...have you seen any…more of us?” came her quiet frizzled voice through the monitor.

Gunther chuckled, low and devilish, something that would send chills down the bones of the innocent.

His eyes traveled to the next monitor. One of the younger subjects, “Conner Krauklis”, was out and about in the forest, lost and screaming. No doubt his terrified shouts would eventually attract the attention of those mongrels Gunther had created so many years ago.

The next screen was a bit more interesting. A boy had a death lock on her. For a moment, Gunther was petrified that he would kill her. But then, she was dropped out of his grip. Fear ran rampant in her eyes, and Gunther made no attempt to hide his disgust.

“Dear Eins,” He whispered to himself, shuffling through her papers, “He is your friend. Do not be afraid,” Speaking to himself in this manner, Gunther sounded almost crazed. Of course, with Eins being more than complicated, the doctor had no plausible way of knowing what she was thinking without being close to her. He cared little. Eins had just been a stepping stone for his latest project. The boy, however, was more than a stepping stone. Generation 5, his name was “Jude Oakheart”. Surprisingly he had manifested the power that allowed him to escape.

Then, to the right of his present screen, there was “Marcus”, or so it seemed he was named. The child had cleverly stolen a credit card, proceeded to clear the scene of any plausible evidence, and went on to use the withdrawal money to his advantage. Gunther found the amount of items he had ordered impractical, but kept it to himself.

“Clever, very clever…” Gunther grumbled, as the child disappeared within the confinements of a bathroom, to which Gunther refused to have his camera follow.

Then, his cameras went to the scene of drama. His most least desired experiment, vs his most desired experiment.

Michael, that mongrel of a Vampire, had approached three of them. “Brendan McAdams”, “Matthew Bernard” and “Marceline Bernard”. Gunther’s lips edged into a smile as he wondered how each individual child was handling the confrontation between Avian and Vampire. He doted on it little.

A “special” thing caught his eye.

A Generation 4. They had all been eradicated. Or so his scientists had reported to him. And yet, here was a twenty year old Generation 4 male, with big thick muscles, and a clear mutation that had caused it. Even his wings were broader than the norm.

Screen capping his face, Gunther plugged the image into his databases.

No name. Just an image of the same man, though younger, with a smaller body (the beginnings of his advanced muscle development had begun to show in the teenage picture).

He was coupled with a young, quite miniature, female, with a darker skin tone.

Both of them had supposedly died in a plane crash.

Gunther was going to have a word with the employees of the South American Ward.

Suppressing his anger, his eyes moved on to the next screen.

A boy very similar to “Brendan” popped up on the screen, along with a innocent, and very confused looking girl, who happened to coincidentally also be another experiment. “Carter McAdams” and “Haley Price”. He was urging her to get a move on, do a perimeter of the area. Gunther theorized “Carter” knew trouble was on the rise by the fact that the twins, “Bredan” and “Carter” had been observed expressing a special connection with one another. It disappointed him that “Marceline” and “Matthew” had not developed a similar power, both children also being twins.

However, “Brendan” and “Carter” were identical. “Marceline” and “Matthew” were fraternal. Maybe it made all the difference.

“Alice!” he called. A small girl, no more than six years, with curly blonde hair, bounded over to him, placing her hand in his.

“Yes, Daddy?”

“Do you see the children, Alice?”

“Yes, Daddy.” She responded, ice blue eyes grazing over each Avian filled monitor with intelligence far surpassing the age of six.

“Alice, one day you will rule them all.”

“Yes, Daddy.”

Marceline POV


I resisted the urge to immediately run for my life.

One thing that remained, however, was that everyone stayed calm.

Brendan, Matthew, me…not a single one of us showed any apparent fear.

“Michael,” I responded calmly, and a bit too confidently. I was thrilled. Never before, in my time at the Ward, had I been allowed to directly call a Vampire by his name. Out here, the rules were different.

“Making friends is a good idea. Don’t you think so? Besides, I’m sure one of you make friends with your brethren,” I said, mockingly referring to his team of vampires.

“Why don’t you go ahead and come for us?” Matthew said, a steel edge in his voice.

My eyes, for a second, glanced back towards the building where the “adult bird kid” was stationed. Something looked odd about his feet. They had changed color. It almost seemed like, from his knees down, there was short course fur, and a furry tail sticking out from his behind.

Must be a power or something.

For a moment, his eyes zeroed in on Mike. He crouched down, preparing for flight, or so I thought.

And then, he jumped.

Euro


For a moment, the Vamp had turned to look at me. He knew I was there, and he was letting me know it. I returned his cold hard stare with a much calmer one, making a face as he turned away to greet the children.

The young blonde girl eyes seemed to wander for a moment, falling on me. I ignored her stare to calculate the distance between me and Mike. It was about twenty feet.

No sweat. I had the enhanced muscle strength, not to mention the fact that I was able to half morph my legs into something more lemur like, powerful, and equipped for jumping and climbing.

Perhaps Mike was expecting me to fly to him, attack him from the air. That’s what most Vampires expected, at least.

Nope.

I crouched, down and then, bam, rocketed off from the roof opposite the store. I probably looked just like a monkey, taking a leap like that, but I landed exactly where I wanted to.

Right next to the Vampire.

“You wanna back off, Vamp?” I asked, calm like Solo had taught me.

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Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins Character Portrait: Marcus
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Jude Oakheart
The Lab





Jude felt badly about attacking the girl. He bent down on his knee and tried to console the girl who sat terrified against the wall. "Hey, it's me, Jude. I'm not going to hurt you."
Jude heard something. He focused his hearing- losing his other senses while he did- and from behind him heard a little mechanical buzzing, and a couple of clicks. He turned around to see a tiny camera pointed at him and the girl. He immediately got scared. He and this girl had somehow escaped from the building that had held them captive for so long. Then he heard the same screeching from inside the lab. "We need to get out of here." He grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the building running a little ways through the tree line, to hide from the vamps.
Jude commenced tearing off the shackles the girl had around her hands and wings. He looked back and saw actual vamps fly out of the roof of the lab and start circling it. "Can you find anyone else like us? I can't do anything but fight with my fists and you're in no shape to fight. We need to find someone else to help us protect ourselves."
Just then he saw a boy a little younger than he was with dark black bird wings and white tips. He darted off not even noticing the three vamps following him at a safe distance but still keeping an eye on him. Jude thought to himself again- they should help him out, then enlarge the group: there is safety in numbers.

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Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins
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(Please forgive the slight godmodding, but you didn't really provide any details of how long they were running, where they were going, the surrounding area, or your character's actions, beyond simple dialogue, so I expanded upon it a bit for the sake of a more thorough narrative.)

As my attacker - no, Jude - knelt closer, I fully expected it to be the end. My arms were trapped in the enveloping sleeves of the garment I wore, several clasps fastening them together so that I could not so much as budge them to defend myself. I had my back up against a wall, and my abilities, as I knew them, were useless against him. The power to hear the thoughts of others, and to send your thoughts to them, would help me about as much now as a megaphone would in the middle of a vacuum. Even if I did cry out telepathically, who would there be to help me? The other experiments? They were stowed away, sealed off from this scary outside world in the world of darkness I had just escaped. The Vampires, then? Even if they were apparently a lot like me, I had gathered from Jude's thoughts that they either would or could not save any of us. The Masters would not come, either, and, in any case, I would rather face death than return to be imprisoned and executed at a later date. No, they were even more terrifying to me than was the enigma of Jude's betrayal. Here, at least, I could see the face of the one who would kill me, but in that world below, nothing was as certain, as solid, even as this. No, it would be better to die quickly at the hands of a foe that I could not understand, rather than to have my live slowly torn from my body by a far greater enemy I did not even know.

But what of the other use of my abilities? The power to discern the thoughts of others... perhaps, if I used it, I might be able to understand why Jude was attacking me, and what he planned on doing? And, in turn, if I knew this, I might also be able to convince him to leave me alive. So desperate had I been in my panic that I had, quite simply, forgotten that this could be done. Now that my thoughts were made a little clearer by the knowledge that they might well be my last, and that panic might only seal my fate forever, this idea occurred to me. And so, driven equally by a final gasp of hope and by the simple urging of necessity, I extended my senses, reaching out in the hopes of discovering what would become of me. But, it was as I feared. This - even this final, desperate attempt - was in vain. Jude's thoughts were too clouded by my crippling terror - or perhaps too guarded by the presence of danger for both of us - for me to read properly. The confused, nonsensical things I beheld were simply fragments, tiny bits and pieces of the thousands of thoughts streaming through my captor's mind, that individually could not be interpreted one way or the other, and could not be assembled into any sort of greater picture. Then there was only one option: wait, and hope against hope that I might live.

And yet live I did, for the next instant, words reached my ears that, unlike the thoughts I had received a moment before, I could plainly understand.

"Hey. It's me, Jude. I'm not going to hurt you," he said in a voice that might have been interpreted as reassuring were it not for the baffling hypocrisy of his statement. Hadn't he hurt me just a moment before? He had nearly suffocated me, had bashed me against a wall and thrown me violently to the ground. The pain of these attacks still echoed through my body, drawing tears to my eyes even now, so why was he trying to assuage my fears, to convince me that everything was alright and wasn't going to attack me when, in fact, he already had? I wasn't sure if this was supposed to imply some sort of excuse for the previous attack, but I had a feeling - inexperienced as I was at interacting with other people - that I was missing something.

On the other hand, what was the point of trying to comfort me if he was going to continue attacking me the moment I let my guard down? No, if he was leaving me alive now, it seemed logical to assume that I was safe, at least for the moment. And so, reluctantly, I allowed him to grasp my wrist and raise me to a standing posture once again, although this was more because I could not rise on my own with my hands bound and my legs collapsed beneath me, and I shrank back somewhat the moment I had my balance. But, to my surprise, the moment I began to feel secure in the least, something changed about his expression and his demeanor, and quickly, he tore off the buckles sealing my hands together and then took off, grasping me tightly by the hand and dragging me with him. Had he somehow noticed something I had missed in my panic?

"We need to get out of here." That was all he said before he took off at a full on sprint, with me reluctantly in tow behind him. He was much larger than me, and thus had a far greater stride. On top of this, I wasn't exactly in peak physical condition, given how I had spent trapped in a tiny chamber deep underground. You didn't get much practice running in a place like that, and it clearly showed in how I tripped along behind him, barely able to keep up save for the speed I gained by him hauling me along, a momentum which I could control about as well as one can control the weather. I was stumbling over my own two feet, let alone the countless uneven patches - something I was entirely unused to, given my only experience walking had been across flat, immaculately level floors - and strange, fibrous limbs extending along the ground from the bases of what I recognized as the plants known as "trees" - although I had never seen these incredible life forms before, I recognized them from thoughts I had picked up in my cell. I might have stopped then and there to marvel at the wondrous and previously unimaginable world unfolding before my eyes in all of its magnificence, but, unfortunately, I was still being unceremoniously pulled at breakneck speeds over the ground and into the forest that opened like a gaping, black maw to meet us. I nearly fell several times, my feet simply unable to keep up with my body as they slid out from under me, but each time I began to trip, I found my arm being yanked upward again as Jude continued his maddened dash for freedom, sending a jolt of pain through me as the said limb was nearly ripped out of its socket, which motivated me enough to get my feet beneath me once again despite the seeming impossibility of the task. His grip was firm and rigid, like an iron cuff that clamped down tightly on my hand, seeming to crush my very bones. I wanted to cry out in pain, but was cowed into silence by the memory of the beating he had only just finished giving me, and by the fear of the unseen, unknown pursuers that drove him to such a flight. Instead, I simply bore it as best I could, although I prayed for it to end as soon as possible. At this point, I wasn't sure if I had escaped, been rescued, or been kidnapped, but there was no time to ponder such things, for I was beginning to falter again, and my seized arm was once again screaming in protest as I was hauled to my feet, only to keep running and to fall again. But still, I bore it in silence. Even if Jude's actions made no sense, even if now, he was almost as frightening as the enemies that even now must have been hot on our heels, I couldn't bear to compromise him by any loud noise, or by slowing him down. I was useless - that, I knew. But despite that, I still didn't have to be a burden if I could help it. And so I struggled. I ran for the first time in my life, and I ran faster than I probably ever would in the forseeable future. Even as I felt as though I would collapse, I struggled not to so as not to drag him down with me. Even as my body groaned in protest, pain wracking my frame, I continually rose to keep sprinting, ignoring the fatigue I was beginning to feel along with the pain my bruised and beaten body was currently informing me to insistently of.

After seemingly an eternity of flight through the woods, we finally stopped. Evidently, Jude was satisfied that we had evaded our pursuers, and had stopped to get his bearings, and to make a plan. I was all too happy to take this chance for a respite, however brief it would have to be, and so the moment he finally loosed my hand, I fell back against a tree and seated myself, relieving the stress that had caused my legs such agony until now. I brushed the cold sweat from my brow, and went limp, my body motionless save for the swift rising and falling of my chest, drawn into stark relief by the form-fitting prison attire I was clad in, as I tried in vain to reclaim my lost breath.

"Can you find anyone else like us? I can't do anything but fight with my fists and you're in no shape to fight. We need to find someone else to help us protect ourselves." The blunt, sudden inquiry snapped me back to the present, shattering my brief moment of relief like thin ice as my captor or companion - I couldn't tell which - gazed coldly down at me. I couldn't tell what was going through his head, as I was feeling too confused, tired, and afraid to venture using my powers, and his expression was a blank, unreadable mask. His no-nonsense manner was, however, so chillingly emotionless that I quickly averted my gaze, instead focusing on how interesting my hands were and the many intriguing ways I could fidget them, pressing my fingers together in this manner and then that, although even I couldn't see any detail of what I was doing, as my hands were completely covered - nay, consumed, even - by my vast, oversized sleeves. I pursed my lips against the almost comically high collar of my jumpsuit, as though in the hope that the gag would simply fasten itself over my mouth again and give me an excuse to remain silent. But, it was no use. If I didn't answer him, all I'd be doing was being a nuisance, and even if he, quite frankly, scared me to the point that I was worried my very clean white outfit would soon be stained a rather prominent shade of yellow from the waist down, he was also the only person I could even hope was on my side, so being useless to the one person I should have helped was simply not an option.

"A-ah... I'm... not sure..." I stammered at length, the sound of my own voice - the cadence of which I had not heard for several years now, as I had been incapable of speech during my period of imprisonment - so foreign to my ears that it nearly scared me into silence. My hands began to move more feverishly, fidgeting about aimlessly with a will and a purpose that seemed paradoxical. But, it was rather difficult to be frightened of the quiet, soft and very confused sounding murmur that emerged from my throat, rendered even more high pitched than its usual sound by the manner in which I half spoke, half-whispered out of anxiety - although, to be fair, this would probably have been the manner in which I would have spoken to any other sentient being, as the thought of Human interaction, quite frankly, terrified me. Despite how fearful my voice clearly was, however, it held in it a gentle quality that seemed contradictory to its pitch, sounding more like a tentatively rung bell rather than a terrified, ear-piercing squeak. "I've never really tried before... a-and... and I don't know if I could connect my thoughts with anyone who I hadn't already... But I remember a few of the voices I heard back in that place, s-so if someone else had escaped, if I got close enough, I might be able to recognize them..." I added lamely as a means of explanation. He simply sighed slightly - although he might have just been trying to regain his breath - and turned away, glancing out through the tree canopy at something I couldn't see. I followed his gaze, and, to my surprise, noticed some sort of light streaming out of some sort of building just beyond the tree line. Slowly, I rose, and tentatively crept up beside him, trying to get a better look at what had suddenly caught my captor/comrade's interest.

It was a small, one-story building, surrounded by an empty lot and a few shrubs. There didn't look to be many other buildings in the area, which meant this couldn't have been one of the big cities I had heard so much about from the thoughts of those around me. If I recalled correctly, that meant this must be a "little town," or perhaps a "village" or "hamlet," although I was unaware of what the distinction was between these various terms. There were several large symbols on the side of the building, which I recognized as letters, even if I did not know their meaning. Judging by the small groups of people eating around tables by the windows, this must have been some kind of place where one procured food, although the sorts of things they were eating were not anything I recognized, save for the occasional roll of bread or bowl of soup, which had made up my entire diet for as long as I could remember. But, even if I didn't know what those mysterious delicacies were, I didn't have to, for their incredible, tantalizing scent reached my nose even from where I stood tempted me to break from my cover and to move closer in the hopes of getting some of these wonderful dishes for myself. At this moment, I realized just how hungry I was, as I hadn't been fed in the past few days, likely in preparation for my execution, which, combined with the fact I was cold, tired, hurting, and afraid for my life, only served to further inform me of how miserable my circumstances were.

Just then, however, I noticed something, for on the edge of my thoughts, I once again heard a voice. This wasn't to say that there were not voices I faintly perceived reaching my mind from a distance, for this was by no means true. But this voice, unlike those, which were so quiet as to be almost impossible to notice, was familiar, and it leaped out at me from the chaotic cacophony of my clamorous consciousness. And then, I knew. This was a voice I had heard before, a mind that had been close by for a long, long time. The pain that echoed from across that severed bond was familiar to me, for I had taken it and felt it in the place of the one whose mind I had now touched on. There could be no mistaking it: in that building was a being like myself, one who had been imprisoned alongside myself, and one who now had escaped, just as I myself had.

I let out a quiet gasp of surprise as the realization dawned on me, causing my companion's gaze to shift to me for a moment. I crumbled beneath his stare, quickly turning my eyes to the ground as I began fidgeting once more as means of distracting myself from the icy eyes I knew were boring into my very soul at that instant. He was going to want some kind of explanation, and, if I was going to be of any use, I would have to give it to him. So, I steeled myself, gathered my wits about me, and spoke for the second time in the past decade.

"I... I'm not sure but... That is to say, it seems impossible, but... I think I might have just sensed... one... one of us," I stammered, my words hesitant and broken by my indecisive mind trying to change what I was saying between every few words. I realized how idiotic what I had just said sounded when compared to my previous comment about how hard it would be to find any other mutants, but on the other hand, it was a relief to have it off my chest. Maybe he'd stop staring at me now. I didn't like it when he stared like that...

(Fun fact: Eins can't read. It's to be expected, considering she's never been outside of her prison in her life, but it's still going to be rather interesting. =P)

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Jude Oakheart
Woods




Jude looked at the girl who finally spoke. Her voice was sweet and soft, just as it had been in his mind. He turned to her as she spoke and he listened. His mind flicked back to the boy who was now in the diner. [color=BF0000]"We should talk to him. He could be helpful. Plus he has vamps tracking him."[/color] He gestured towards the vamps that were circling the sky above the the diner. Jude was on edge, never having liked vamps to begin with but there was strength in numbers.

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"We should talk to him. He could be helpful, and plus, he has Vamps tracking him."

The concurring words were less surprising than their meaning, but regardless, the moment Jude spoke, I was startled enough to forget that unnerving stare that had been directed at me a few moments before, and my gaze shot up from the patch of ground that had so thoroughly occupied it until then. It seemed inconceivable that he would immediately and unconditionally accept my supposed findings not a minute after I told him how little confidence I had in my abilities, without so much as a taunting word to poke fun at my confusion - considering taunting words were the only kind of speech I'd ever heard with my own ears for the majority of my life, they were also the kind of response I expected to receive under any circumstances, especially when I was doing poorly in my duties as I was now - but even more surprising was his suggestion that they - note that he didn't say he - should go and talk to the newly located Avian child. He... he wanted me to go out there and talk to someone? I couldn't! I just couldn't handle it! To me, people were terrifying. At every second I spent interacting with a Human being, or even a mutant like myself, I was afraid that I would make some terrible mistake or faux pas, and that I would be severely punished for it. These sorts of errors, and the subsequent harsh and often painful corrections, were the only experience I had talking with people, and because of that, I'd become frightened beyond belief of doing so. It had taken all of my courage to even approach Jude, who I had thought to be my friend, and that courage had, at the moment, been dashed against a concrete wall along with my body. Scared as I was now, I probably would have just broken down if forced to talk to someone else with my only protector from violent retribution being someone who had only just finished dealing me that same sort of beating just a few minutes ago, and might even now be called my captor. I could feel my skin growing pale and cold just thinking about it, and already, a cold sweat had broken out anew on my brow.

"W-we...?" I stammered. Even though my voice hadn't reached the shrill pitch usually associated with terror, its desperate, pleading tone and the fear that was doubtlessly evident in my wide, frozen burgundy eyes surely made quite clear both what I meant by that inquiry, and my reluctance to comply with his orders. "B-but... I... that is to say..." My hands were fidgeting still, but at the same time, they were also raised in front of me, in a gesture that was all at once placating, halting, and defensive, as I at once beckoned him not to take me out there into the open where I would have to cope with the inquisitive, terrible eyes that would doubtless fall upon me, and upon my brightly gleaming wings, while also silently begging him not to strike me for disobeying him and preparing for that blow to come down regardless. "I can't!" I declared at last, the force of my unintentionally vehement - I still spoke quietly, but I also spoke with a conviction and a dread in my soft, low voice - denial surprising even myself - perhaps terrifying would be a better word, since I now realized that past experience said he would now have to punish me for my insolence. "I can't go out there... Please don't make me go out there!" I was beginning to become incoherent in my pleading, but I was too frightened to care. In my eyes, I saw - or perhaps simply imagined I saw - my companion tense up somewhat as he gazed stoically down at me, and in an instant, a thousand visions of the possible blow he was doubtless bracing himself to deal me flooded my mind, and, giving a quiet squeak of fright, I instinctively cowered, shutting my eyes and bringing my hands up to cover my head in a vain hope that I might be able to intercept the dreaded stroke of punishment. Overbalancing myself in the process by tripping over a tree root, however, I found myself, instead of stepping back to distance myself from the attack, falling backward and collapsing rather painfully against the tree behind me. Between the concrete wall I'd been hurled into and this injury, I was fairly sure my back was bleeding (among other things), but at the moment, I was too frightened to care. In an instant, I scrambled up on all fours, half crawling, half diving behind the tree as though into some impenetrable fortress. In the same way a mouse peers nervously out of its hole when it thinks a cat menacing it has passed it by, I tentatively poked my head out from behind the tree, fighting the urge to simply break down and run from the punishment I was now certain awaited me with the more terrifying prospect of a much more painful lesson in submission once I was surely caught and brought back. Hiding behind the high collar of my tunic as though behind a mask, and behind the curtains of my silvery hair as though behind a shroud or veil, just as I hid behind the tree like a last bastion of defense, I gazed pleadingly out upon my kidnapper, silently begging him to let me simply hide myself away from the world, so it could not touch me with its frightening, unknown hand...

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(Firebird, I'm really sorry to godmod your character, but... You haven't really left me any options. Please forgive me. X.X)

"Hey, what's-" Jude began, his voice halting abruptly as I dived behind the tree. He stopped for a moment, seeming to be considering his options as he gazed at me perplexedly where I cowered behind the tree. At last, he seemed to reach some sort of a decision, and, heaving a helpless sigh, he spoke once more.

"Are you alright?" He asked. I nodded slightly, still watching him fearfully, unsure of what he was going to do. "Okay, then," he continued, turning away from me at last but giving me a slight smile back over his shoulder. In an instant, I grew much more relaxed. He wasn't angry, he was going to let me stay! "If you don't want to move from here, you don't have to. I'm going after that bird kid. You just wait here for me to come back."

As he turned and walked nervously into the light, I watched him fade from view. Little did I realize how much danger I was in, with my protector absent and myself all alone, nor did I predict how events would unfold...

For several minutes, I waited, my eyes trained warily around the trunk of the tree behind which I was concealed. Shapes bustled about to and fro as people left the building for whatever reason - I didn't know that the diner's closing time was almost up - but the shapes of both Jude and the mutant child I had sensed were hidden from my sight. I watched tentatively, fear slowly dawning on me as I realized that the beings that pursued us before might still be on our trail, and that staying behind might have left me exposed. I began to nervously wish for Jude to return, not wanting to contemplate the possibility of being attacked alon-

A branch snapped above me, the faint crack amplified by my paranoia, rending the air like a gunshot in the silence. I glanced slowly up, but I can't say I expected what I saw: a black shape, dropping sharply from the air, descending upon me with bat-like wings spread wide, as though it were some great bird of prey! Before I could so much as scream, I found the wind knocked from my lungs by a powerful kick which sent me reeling. I tumbled head over heels, rolling pel-mel across the dirt in a confused, terrified bundle of intertwined limbs. Desperately, I tried to rise, and to flee my attacker, only to find his hand descending to block my vision: he was already right on top of me! I tried to cover my face, but a powerful blow struck through my disorganized defenses, dealing me a painful slap across the face and snapping my head backward, then holding it there as the enemy clutched my throat. As I was hoisted limply into the air like a broken doll, my adversary's visage became clear to me in the moonlight.

Batlike wings, taut, angular features, and fangs in place of teeth... so this was a Vampire, the being I evidently resembled, yet was just as evidently being hunted by nonetheless. It gave a quiet, hoarse chuckle and clamped its vise-like grip down tighter upon my neck, cutting off my breath and silencing yet another scream of terror in my throat. I could feel my vision growing blurry, my thoughts growing panicked, and my body growing weak.

A voice in the back of my mind couldn't help but note the irony of the situation. Just as I had encountered my protector, so I had encountered the one whom he could not protect me from, and just as I had been helpless before Jude, so I was helpless before the hunter who had claimed me. But the situations were not the same. In the case of Jude, I had held onto some hope that he would relent, that he would somehow save me. But this Vampire would do no such thing, and I knew it. He would knock me unconscious if I was lucky, torture me if I wasn't, and then take me back to the Ward for my execution. In short, unless I could somehow escape him... I was going to die.

Despite my weakness and fatigue, this fear bred something within me. Whether it was strength or some instinct to survive, I didn't know, but the next instant, I found my own grip tearing weakly at my assailant's own wrist, forcing it inch by inch from my throat and growing stronger with each passing second as the air returned life to my body. I gazed with righteous indignation down upon him, my own amber eyes - wait, weren't my eyes burgundy? - meeting his own surprised dark orbs for a single instant. Then, I spread my wings, the moonlight shining down upon me and bathing me in a divine halo as though I were some kind of avenging angel locked in mortal combat with some terrible demon, planted my foot in my enemy's gut, and forced off with all my might.

An audible snap resounded through the air. I had forgotten to release my grip on my enemy's wrist, and I found to my surprise that the force of my sudden movement had been enough to snap his wrist entirely. On top of this, my powerful kick had actually knocked him off his feet, sending him flying into the tree behind which I had cowered just a moment before. But, I had little time to celebrate my brief victory, for in an instant, he was up and upon me once more, giving a feral roar and bringing a lightning fast kick up into my gut, picking me up and sending me flying into the tree canopy above. The sharp branches tore at my flesh from all sides, and when I fell to earth again, I found blood trickling from several small wounds, and a very angry Vampire welcoming me back to the ground with a sharp punch to the solar plexus. This I managed to deflect, bringing one of my hard wings in front of the blow and turning it away along the surface of the extra appendage, sending him staggering past me and giving a snarl of pain as his knuckles were cut along my scale-like feathers, and as my knee drove itself up and into his groin. He staggered backwards, and I followed up the attack, reaching out and grasping his shoulders. He was overbalanced, so it was a simple matter to haul him back up and towards me, causing him to stumble right into my next attack as I drew back my wings and proceeded to slap them back and forth, several loud snaps like the cracking of a whip ringing through the air as my enemy's head tilted back and forth, back and forth, blood oozing from countless tiny cuts as my scaled wings flayed the skin from his face. I found myself giving a quiet chuckle which rose and fell with the sounds of my wings tearing across his flesh, an action which terrified even me. Deep down, I couldn't help but wonder... what was I doing? I was scared out of my wits, I should have been helpless... And yet each time my enemy approached, an instinct, an impulse, would occur to me, and I would simply act on it, as though I was a marionette, dancing as my strings were pulled. Something deep down inside me was telling me how to fight, and, even though its tactics horrified me, I couldn't help but obey.

A sharp jolt of pain snapped me back to reality. My horror at my own actions must have distracted me, for I realized to my much greater terror that I had momentarily ceased my beating, and my enemy had caught my wing mid-stroke and was twisting it violently. Giving a psychotic, bloodstained smirk, he silenced my squeak of fright in an instant as he smashed his own head against my own, sending me falling backward, only to be hauled back up by my agonized wing, then knocked to the ground again by a savage kick to the shin. Letting go of my wing, he threw himself shoulder-first on top of me, driving me into the dirt and immobilizing me with his own weight. I cried out in pain, only to be silenced once again by a sudden blow to the face, forcing me to raise my suddenly weak and fragile hands to defend myself. My burgundy eyes widened in terror. The strength was gone. There was only fear, and pain. I was helpless, and alone - immobilized, and under attack. Desperately, I reached out for the first willing mind my senses came across. I had hoped to reach Jude, but little did I know that he was not the one to whom I appealed.

"Please! Help me!"

The one to whom I cried out telepathically was not my protector, Jude... No, the one I could only pray would save me was none other than the mutant I had sensed before.

cron