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"Sariya" Eins

"I'm not worthless... I'm not! I'm a person too, right? And that means I'm worth something... right? But if that's true... then why? Why does everyone hate me...? Please, don't leave me alone again!"

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

Description

Name: "Sariya" Eins. Eins is the name given her by her creators, whereas Sariya is a secret name she created herself. However, since no one knows of the "true" name she has made for herself, she is generally referred to as Eins.
Age: 15
Description: Sariya, better known as Experiment Eins (or just Eins) stands at a total height of five feet, four inches, making her seem rather small in comparison to most people her age, Mutant or not. Her build is clearly slanted toward her limbs, which are long and lean, making up most of the vertical size of her body - although, as stated above, this isn't saying all that much. Her body is slender, from her thin waist and flat stomach to her narrow shoulders, broken only by her still-developing but nonetheless rather appealing figure. Her small stature and thin, unimposing - if athletic - build are by no means her most distinguishing traits, however, as a single glance at her is more than enough to tell you that she is not your average person.

The first thing most people notice about her is her hair. It is straight, and kept trimmed just above her eyes and around her ears, flowing back to a point just below her shoulders like a cascading wave. Its texture is soft and smooth, like strands of silk, and it seems to flow like water rather than sit rigidly like any sort of solid matter. The bizarre thing about this entrancing curtain is, however, evident upon a single glance at her. Namely, its color, for in hue, it is a stark, silvery white, like new-fallen snow on a star-lit winter's eve. These gleaming tresses frame her face, giving her a sort of radiant halo that makes her really look the part of an angel.

Second most notable is the color of her eyes - the most prominent feature of her face, as her nose, ears, and chin are all rather small in size, and her rosy cheeks, soft pink lips and pearl-like teeth, along with her glistening hair, only serve to further accentuate the brightness within her gaze - which are a rather unusual shade of burgundy, like twin amethysts carved out as the eyes of some divinely crafted statue. But more remarkable than their unusual pigment is how much they seem to change. When she is happy, they seem to glow like stars, giving off a joyful light of their own. When she is sad - which is much more often the case - they have the appearance of dark, hollow pools that go down, down, down, an eternity of darkness between an onlooker and the soul behind those gloomy windows. But most oddly, when her mutations begin to act, her eyes change in a more literal sense, with golden streaks piercing through those scarlet eyes until they are like twin amber orbs, each gleaming like the light of a full moon.

Another, less notable feature - one that takes many people quite some time to notice - is her skin. It is a somewhat darkened, tanned shade, but despite this is soft and smooth, as though it has never been burnt or blemished, with nary a mark nor flaw to mar its surface. This stands in stark contrast to the battered, scar-pocked bodies of most other mutants, and would make most assume that Eins had not been tortured like her fellows. This is not the case, of course - her trials were simply of a mental variety rather than physical agonies.

And, of course, there is one final unique feature that Eins possesses: her wings. These majestic appendages are unique amongst all of her fellow mutants, unlike in appearance nor composition to any others.

In hue, her wings are a radiant silver, the same celestial hue as her flowing tresses of hair. Although from a distance they are bat-like in appearance, the light seems to shimmer off of them as though made of some kind of metal. A closer examination reveals that they are, in fact, neither of these things, and yet could be considered to be both regardless. Despite their bat-like, membranous nature, they are covered in dense, almost scale-like "feathers," which, although they appear just like the feathers of a normal bird's wings, are actually a hard, protective shell to both insulate her wings and keep them from freezing in the cold sky, as well as to protect them from damage. Despite their durability, however, they are nonetheless very light, and thus can serve their function of flight. These wings are only about seven and a half feet in total span, but due to her small size and very light weight, they are nonetheless capable of supporting her in the air.
Wing Color: Glimmering, jewel-like white.
Powers: Eins has only two powers, but they are diverse enough in their applications to be capable of matching the abilities of much more extensively mutated fellows.

Angelic Devil: Due to her nature as the original mutant upon whose genetic structure the Vampires are based, but nonetheless also sharing traits of the Angel-type Mutants, Eins possesses the strength and stamina of the average Vampire of her size whilst also being endowed with the incredible mobility and speed of the Angels, making her both quick and powerful - especially in the air - and capable of sustaining flight long after most Angels would tire and land for a rest, at speed unmatched by most Vampires. This power is not without its consequences, however, for because of it, she also has locked away in her subconscious the paranoid, maddened and sociopathic self-interest of a Vampire, clashing in the form of an entirely different self-identity and nature with her otherwise very "Human" persona.

The Heart: Eins' true ability lies, however, not in her physical abilities, but in her mental ones. Unlike most Mutants, who possess many very practical, single-use abilities, Eins possesses the uncanny ability to detach her mind from her body, tapping into the extra-dimensional and supernatural quality known as her Heart and manipulating it. This power appears in two forms: Psychic manipulations and more physical Manifestations.

On the psychic side, Eins has the potential to not only partially detach her mind from her body - allowing her to wander in a spiritual form, to see things from an invisible sort of soul camera which, like a classical ghost, could wander through walls and move unseen and unheard (Note: This is an ability she has not yet attained) - but also to connect her mind to the minds of others, allowing her in the case of willing subjects to speak telepathically, or even to serve as a bridge passing telepathic messages between two or more people, as well as giving her the subconscious ability to receive another person's thoughts and current physical sensations, strengthened by proximity and conscious effort, and weakened by the subject's mental resilience and conscious effort to keep these thoughts and physical senses concealed. At its highest level, this power would constitute telepathy, mind-reading, and perfect empathy - the power to assume another person's negative sensations in their place - but she has not yet attained this level, instead only gathering fragments of thoughts and particularly powerful feelings - mostly feelings of pain. She can, however, speak to a willing subject, even at some levels of distance, making her telepathy more or less effective.

On the physical side, Eins also holds the potential to manifest her Heart in a tangible, physical form, depending on what she most greatly desires at the time of manifestation. For example, should she desire to protect someone, she might manifest her Heart as a powerful particle/energy force field, or should she desire to fight, her Heart might take the form of a weapon, or a barrage of energy. While the applications for this power are vast in possibility, the reality is much less impressive. On the one hand, she can only manifest one of these things at once - they are based around her greatest desire, after all - and on another, as of yet, she is completely unable to perform a conscious act of manifestation, making the things she projects uncontrollable in their form, unpredictable in their nature, and directed solely by extreme emotions and instinct rather than any conscious effort. As a result, this aspect of her power is one that currently might only emerge for a few moments in times of extreme peril, in which her Heart's intense desire for one specific goal would cause it to be accomplished. While, should she ever master this ability it might be incredible potent, until she is able to, it is largely useless.
Personality: Eins is a person with a very complex, multifaceted nature. On the one hand, she is a kind and gentle, if somewhat reserved individual. On the other, she is a paranoid, borderline sociopathic Vampire who trusts no one but herself, loathes all things, and is willing to destroy anything or anyone she considers a threat. For convenience sake, I will refer to her standard persona as Sariya, and her secondary personality caused by her Vampiric mindset as Eins, as this is the means by which they usually differentiate each other.

Sariya herself is rather timid and fragile in nature. After a seemingly endless period of solitary imprisonment, interrupted only by experimentation and abuse, she came to the conclusion that she herself was useless, and was hated for it. Due to her constant treatment as a subhuman, she actually came to view herself as such, deriding herself for being unable to meet her creators' expectations whilst also hating herself for being unable to save the tortured beings she could sense imprisoned in a similar manner to herself. Thus, her primary objectives defined themselves as follows: help everyone who needs it, and become a splendid and worthwhile being. Who she was trying to impress was unclear - she had long since become too frightened of her creators to view them as anything more than mysterious, terrifying beings she was not meant to comprehend - but nonetheless, she desperately wanted above all else for someone to be pleased by her. Consequently, despite her torment, she became a very kind, thoughtful individual, who strove for a perfection she could not achieve and struggled to ease the lives of those around her, taking on some of their pain even as she herself was locked alone in that dreadful silence, left to suffer the fragmented and broken thoughts of those around her without anyone to keep her from going mad.

Despite her desire to help people, however, she was at the same time terrified of the very same race she strove to be worthy of walking amongst. Her only experience with other people was with the creators who now imprisoned and tormented her, and so she was desperately afraid that failure to meet standards she knew she could never match would be met with a similar punishment to the one she now suffered. Because of this, she is very reluctant to approach and speak to people save those who first break her out of her shy, paranoid shell by showing to her a kindness with which she is not acquainted. Those who are kind to her become trusted, and their kindness is returned. Despite her harsh circumstances, she's a rather simple, pure soul at heart.

But, Sariya also has a dark side: a black to her white, so to speak. This comes in the form of Eins, a second personality created equal parts by the loneliness and despair she felt at being discarded and imprisoned, and by her Vampiric urges to destroy anything that might pose a threat to her goals. In Eins' case, the goal is her own happiness, and anyone who threatens to cause Sariya grief or pain is subject to being labeled a threat to this personal happiness. Those who threaten her in such a manner rarely live, for Eins is ruthless in her execution of those who dare menace her. Ironically enough, at the same time, she continues to haunt Sariya herself with the worry that she is useless and that those around her are secretly against her. This paranoia, although generally kept in check by kindnesses shown her, is at times of intense grief enough to overwhelm her, causing her to act not on her own urges, but on those of Eins. During these times, she is uncontrollable and murderous, and can and will attempt to slaughter even those Sariya treasures as companions, as a means of "protecting" Sariya from the grief she is sure will be caused when these individuals inevitably betray her. And so, ironically, she is not actually an "evil" alternate persona, per say. Rather, she is simply misguided, and follows a system of logic and morals quite different from those of ordinary people. During these times, her Vampiric mutations reach their full potential, causing her eyes to turn golden as a side effect of her body's sudden enhancement. This is a simple means of differentiating the two personalities, and of determining which is currently in control.

A final interesting quirk of Sariya's is her habit of amusing herself by spreading her arms and spinning around and around. In her small cell, it was one of the only ways she could keep herself busy and preoccupy her thoughts from the nagging whispers of Eins and the broken but nonetheless agonizing feelings of the tortured prisoners nearby, not to mention the very blurred and incomprehensible, but nonetheless maddening, cruel designs of those that kept her sealed there. This simple activity continued to serve its purpose even after her escape, allowing her to distance herself from the confusing and scary world around her, even if only for an instant. When Sariya begins spinning about, it is quite often a sign that she wants to be left alone to ponder some troubling matter - and more often, she will simply ignore anyone who tries to approach her, choosing instead of hold spoken conversations with Eins during these times, relapsing into the solitary mindset she developed in her cell. While spinning, she is entirely deluded into forgetting about the present and actually assuming she is once more within the terrible but nonetheless safe confines of her old cell, left to her own devices to pass the time.

Because of this unusual pastime, she has developed an equally unusual view of the world. In her simple analogy, each and every person alive is spinning in a circle. In her case, the circle is small - only as large as the confines of her cell, just the width of her extended arms - but in the case of some people who work hard to achieve their goals, the circle is vast, spanning countless leagues and stretching out into eternity. Her goal is to work hard enough to spin in such an endless circle, and to help others to escape the 150 centimeter confines that surround them.
Bio: Sariya, an abandoned child taken in and modified under the designation of Experiment Eins, was an entirely new class of mutant from the previous Angel-types. Modified physically to possess incredible endurance and bodily potential while also being rendered very lightweight and compact for the sake of assisting her ability to fly, she was also mutated to grant her the power of "Heart," in the hopes that she might one day be made into an overseer to keep all of the other mutants in line by entering their very minds and ensuring that they were only allowed to think loyally toward the Ward and the researchers there. Thus, her creators were rather disappointed when, despite all of their efforts, Eins could neither be coerced into performing these duties, which went against her pure, innocent heart, nor was she, in fact, capable of performing them, even if she wanted to. As such, instead of being allowed to roam free and live as she pleased within the rules of the Ward, she was locked away, deemed a needless liability and a failed experiment. She was not tortured to inspire fear, as were the Angels whose potential was still viewed as worthwhile. No, she was simply locked within a claustrophobic stone vault beneath the Ward, kept alive only for the sake of harvesting her DNA as a means of streamlining the creation of a new type of Mutant - the Vampires, who, unlike her, would be based around rule through brute force, and would be instilled only with loyalty to the Ward and its ideals. During the years in which this process was carried out, Eins - who came to identify herself instead by the self-chosen name Sariya - developed her own unique objectives and ideals, left to draw her own conclusions from the reality around her. She could vaguely remember her creators, but by this point, no longer saw them. The closest contact she had with them was when her food was delivered through a tiny slit in her cell door, and even then, she never saw their faces, nor heard them speak, save for scraps of thoughts about the "worthless failure" who dwelt within the cell. Realizing that they meant her was the train of thought that drove her to both the height of her perfectionist mentality, and to the depths of her fear and despair.

One day, however, things changed. Instead of being delivered food, her door was opened at last, and she was led out into the world around her. At first, she was confused, wondering why she was suddenly being freed by those who had held her captive for so many years. This confusion gave way to momentary joy as she hoped that she might have been deemed useful once again, and that she might be able to prove herself to all the world. But this emotion, too, gave way, being replaced with dread and horrified realization as the thoughts of those around her made her situation plain: she had failed utterly and completely, and now that her last usefulness had ended, she was being executed.

Her creators, not wanting to take any chances, led to her to a great furnace that heated the facility, and ordered her to be thrown in. As she fell, however, she was unwilling to accept her impending death, and, fueled equally by her fear and her desire to live, her Heart expanded around her body, cocooning it and shielding it from the flames that surrounded it, protecting her just long enough for the confused, terrified mutant to find a route of escape in a small shaft by which fuel was lowered into the flames. Flying up this long tube, she arrived in a vast storage warehouse in which fuel was left until required. This warehouse was left largely unguarded, and so it was a simple matter for her survival instinct to take over and lead her to stow away on the underside of an empty fuel tanker before it could be taken from the facility to refuel. Slipping out in this manner, she managed to escape her death and flee the Ward for good.

But, when Sariya came to herself after Eins' influence wore off, she found to her terror that the outside world was hardly more welcoming than the terrifying solitude from which she had just departed. And, when other Mutants also escaped - their familiar minds calling to her own like a well-known beacon - she had no choice but to follow them, approaching them in the hopes of finding shelter and protection amongst their ranks...

So begins...

"Sariya" Eins's Story

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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)

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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?"

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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.

Setting

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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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Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins Character Portrait: Marcus
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Jude Oakheart
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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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Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins Character Portrait: Marcus
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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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Character Portrait: Jude Oakheart Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins Character Portrait: Marcus
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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.

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Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins Character Portrait: Marcus
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(Apparently, to tag her you need to put a & symbol in. Sorry. XD)

Giving an enraged hiss, the Vampire raised his working hand, clenching it into a fist and bringing it down at my face. Desperately, I grasped at it with my trembling hands, hoping to turn the blow away, but found myself unable to block the sheer force of the furious attack, and the hands I willed to protect me were instead beaten against my own head along with the enemy's fist. Again the Vampire drew back his hand, and, in that moment, I knew I was helpless. I had played my last card by calling for help - ironically, that was all that my powers seemed to be good for - and now, I had no options left open to me. My strength was gone, my terror overwhelming, my body weak, and my defenses broken. What could I do but either wait to be saved, or be taken and die before that time?

I could do nothing.

As my enemy's fist came down again, I shut my eyes tightly, hoping to somehow escape the impact by ignoring its visible presence, like a child covering his face and claiming he can't be seen if he can't see anyone else. It was useless, obviously, but somehow, my fears demanded the action to be taken, as though sparing no expense and leaving no stone unturned for a possible route of escape that, deep down, I knew did not exist. But, to my surprise, the pain of the strike that descended upon me never came, for with another feral snarl, the Vampire was suddenly grabbed by the wing and wrenched away from me. With a rush of air, the beast turned away from me, swiping upward at a shape I could not make out, but did not fear. In an instant, I realized the truth: I had been saved.

The Vampire rose and lunged away from me toward the figure I assumed was Jude, come back to rescue me, but with a faint gasp and a thud, he was knocked flat to the ground, and my rescuer pounced upon him, mounting a counterattack. I didn't watch any longer, instead opting to move away from my assailant and out of the way of my protector. Scrambling across the ground, I dove behind several shrubs and a tree, peering back out only after the sounds of fighting in the glade had ended.

Silhouetted by moonlight as he rose from the fallen form of his defeated foe, my guardian's features became clear to me for the first time, and, to my surprise, I found that the person I looked upon was not Jude - rather, it was some other mutant I had never seen before, but whose mind I recognized. He was a little taller than myself - which was to be expected, considering my rather puny height - but not quite so towering as my last companion. Compared to Jude, he was very thin, perhaps even as thin as me, and his countenance was softer and more youthful. His unimposing stature and boyish features suggested that he was probably close to my age, maybe even a little younger. But the real question was... who was he? The logical answer was that this was the avian boy I had sensed a few minutes before, who Jude had gone off to look for, but despite this possibility, I was still surprised, and rather unnerved. The obvious fear occurred to me in an instant. Could I trust him? He had saved me, but I knew next to nothing about him, and had no way of determining what he might do to me. For all I knew, he might have some purpose in mind for me even worse than the planned execution the Vampire would have led me to, or the frightening, if secure companionship/captivity Jude had offered.

"Wow. Wow," The mutant muttered, brushing the blood and sweat from his face. "I really need to stop doing this to myself." Evidently, he'd been in more than one fight with Vampires, if his comments were anything to go by. Well, then, that answered at least one question. He was slated for recapture and execution just as I myself was, which meant that, at least, he was on my side in regards to the Ward. That, in turn, meant that I might be useful to him as an ally in some regard, which gave me at least some hopes that he might leave me alive, although I did not doubt that if he wished it, I would be forced to become his captive. Still, this was better than no information at all. But, my observations were suddenly halted, for instantly, I found his dark gaze turned upon myself, both his expression and his voice laced with distrust as he spoke, this time to me as I slowly, fearfully rose from behind the bushes, feeling terribly exposed by his searching black eyes as I stood, my wings and silvery hair catching the light of the moon as it bathed me from head to foot, drawing into full relief the laboratory prisoner's garb I still wore and clearly identifying me for what I was.

"Are you okay?" He asked coldly, his eyes seeming to pierce into my very soul, as though he would search my very being with his gaze for any trace of some undefined guilt, then would tear it from me with his accusing eyes. I nodded nervously, still reluctant to use my voice after having gone for so long in silence - it didn't help that the Vampire had partially refastened the old gag when he was choking me, although only one of two clasps now held it loosely over my face like an oddly comforting mask of white cloth, and thus I could still speak if I so chose, and could have unfastened it at any time myself. I stood fixated by his cold eyes and equally cold words, my hands still half frozen at the level of my collar, clasped fearfully together now but left trapped where they had been raised to shield my face just a moment ago. I looked, ironically enough, as though I was praying, my hands tightly interwoven just below my chin and fidgeting about with suppressed anxiety as I stared back at the one who gazed at me, terrified by his eyes but also enthralled by his pointed gaze, too frightened to even look away from him despite how desperately I wanted to avert my vision. But despite my fear, a strange feeling, like a barely intelligible voice I could only faintly perceive in the very back of my head, told me that I wasn't the one who was afraid: rather, that my potential rescuer was afraid of me. It seemed preposterous, and yet, something about him that could not be seen, smelt, touched, tasted or heard, but rather could only be felt, perceived as an impulse by some kind of sixth sense, told me thus. He did not trust me, not because I was suspiciously afraid of him, but because he was suspicious, and hence afraid of me. But... why? The answer became clear in a moment as he once more spoke, sounding just a little more vulnerable and a little more anxious than he had before.

"You're not one of them, right? I mean, you weren't pretending... right?" He asked. Suddenly, everything made sense. He was worried that I, too, was a Vampire: his enemy. Even if I only resembled one in part - namely, in that my wings were batlike despite their scalelike feathers - I still shared almost no similarities with Angelic mutants, or with normal Humans, save in my physical shape. My hair, eyes, skin, wings, body, and everything else about me... all of these were unnatural. It was only to be expected that I would be confused for some new type of Vampire, wasn't it? I started to nod, but then stopped, a pressing question occurring to me. If I wasn't an Angel, though, was I a Vampire? I couldn't be sure that I wasn't actually one of "them." In fact, I didn't even know what I was myself!

"I... I'm not sure..." I said at last, my quiet, broken voice muffled slightly by the cloth over my face. I glanced away at last, no longer afraid of his eyes, rather, I was lost in thought, in fears about myself and my own nature. "I don't know what I am... I don't think I'm one of them, but... I'm not sure if I'm like you, either." I had only answered one of his questions at this point, which meant I would have to continue, no matter how reluctant I was to keep speaking. I was afraid of him, and that fear choked my words in my throat, but, on the other hand, there was more to it than that. I wasn't just afraid, I was... ashamed? After years of silence, of not speaking, of being unable to speak, it simply felt wrong of me to actually say anything. It didn't feel like I had the right to make words, anymore. As though I had committed some grave sin, and lost the privilege of speech. As though I was, quite simply, unworthy of saying a single word, and with each syllable I spoke, I only compounded my error, only committed yet another crime.

"B-but... thank you for rescuing me," I said at last. "I wasn't faking a thing, i-if that's what you meant. I ran away when I should have died, and so... I know it's wrong to be so selfish, but I want to live, and so... I was running away. If you hadn't saved me, then they'd have taken me back, a-and... That is, I owe you my life, and..." I trailed off, no longer sure of what I meant to say myself. Was I thanking him? Was I answering his question? What was even the point? Flushed with humiliation, I decided it would be better to just shut up, and so simply gazed downward, defeated by my own inability to understand myself. I just hoped he would believe me, and understand that there was nothing to fear in a useless being such as myself.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins Character Portrait: Marcus Character Portrait: Taylor Rice Character Portrait: Samuel Echtin Character Portrait: Euro Character Portrait: Matthew "Matt" Bernard Character Portrait: Marceline "Marcy" Bernard Character Portrait: Alice
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Euro


“The hospital seems like the best answer,” Great! So Taylor was on board. I nodded to her encouragingly. Power in numbers. Now all that was left was…

"Yeah I'll travel with you guys... Are you guys sure about the hospital? I mean... would doctors even know how we work? Honestly a vet would probably know more knowledge about a wing... And a hospital is a very, very public place... I'm just not so sure...But if you're certain it's best I'll follow..."

I frowned, feeling shame begin to fill up my system. Samuel was right. Besides the whole “we’re-screwing-ourselves-over-by-going-to-a-hospital” thing, it’s not like the doctors would have any idea how the girl, or for that matter, any of us worked. I mean, carrying her to the vet still gave us the chance to get our asses busted by the Ward or some other government facility, but hey, at least she’d survive. Hopefully. And here’s where I got stuck.

The hospital was a huge, open public facility, with freaky, annoying doctors, and obvious tattletales who’d have us busted with the government the instant we got there. I knew that for sure. That’s how ruthless intellectuals worked.

The local veterinarian on the other hand was generally concerned with dogs and cats. Ever wonder why there are stand alone Avian vets just dedicated to the health of birds? Never fear here’s your answer; as the majorities of pets consist of dogs and cats, people are bias to learning about cats and dogs. Even horses pass their lists. But guinea pigs, rats, birds, lizards, and many other “minority” pets fall into a different category. You’d need an animal hospital for that, and trust me when I say a vet’s clinic does not constitute the words animal hospital.

“That’s a good idea, Sam,” I was banking on the idea that he didn’t mind me calling him that, “But Avian vets and regular vets are two very different things.” I said softly, “If we….assume that just any vet will be able to handle her, we could be playing with fire. Not to mention the fact that a vet may not have what it takes to make a human blood transfusion. If I know anything about doctors, I know they’re intellectuals, kind of like lower level scientists. They’ll save her, if only to study her later on. We can almost bet on the fact that they’ll call up an Avian specialist to assist them if they have too….” I trailed off.

God, the girl was going to be hanging by a thread by the time we got there. She twitched in Matthew’s arms for a second, before going still again. I could hear her breathing steadily, which was a good sign, but the occasional twists of pain were a cause for concern.

“Can we hurry up with the decision making?” Matthew scowled, panicked concern scrawled across his face, “She’s going to go into a coma by the time you guys get moving.”

I rolled my eyes, but accepted his harsh words. He was simply concerned about his sister’s well being, and probably wasn’t thinking straight. Without a second thought, I slipped over to the closest car, a decent looking Honda Civic, probably of a generation older than 2012. I had one of two options:
1) Use some sort of pin to unlock the front door of the car
or
2) smash the window open.

Seeing as there was no pin, I went with option two. Using my shoe, I made a hole just big enough for my hand to fit through without scraping myself. The alarm, of course, was going crazy, and I had to work fast to unlock the door and rewire the underneath of the steering wheel so that the car would shut up. This had been me and Solo’s life when we’d first escaped. And while I was no pro, I most definitely knew what I was doing.

Which brought up another problem.

A very pressing, very heartbreaking, very traitor like problem.

I had to ditch those kids as soon as the girl was safe. Staying with them….was dragging me and Solo back to a life of misery. I would explain it to them. Explain why I was leaving. But for now, my concern was getting her safely to the hospital.

As the engine roared to life under the working of my hands I began barking orders. Unaccustomed to being in charge, my commands sounded more like solid requests rather than orders.

“Sam, you get in the front,” always safer to have someone besides yourself looking out for stuff in the front seat, “Taylor and Matthew you get in the back….Matthew support your sister’s weight. Try to keep her in an upright position so that the blood doesn’t flow faster towards her upper area and head..” Eyeing her blood soaked sweater, I came up with another quick idea, hoping Taylor would go along with it, “Taylor take her sweater and press it against the wound with enough force to slow the bleeding…”

Matthew, upon hearing my command, quickly slipped the bloody sweater off from his sister, revealing a simply black t-shirt, much less stained. He offered the sweater to Taylor with a pleading look on his face, and I hoped she would accept the job. The reason I’d chose her over Sam or Matt? Simple. She was a woman.

As I finished my tirade of commands, I slipped into the driver’s seat, patiently waiting for them to join me in the car.

Alice


I stared at the monitor indifferently as was my habitual response to anything that flickered on and off the hazy screen. I had been, naturally out of my own curiosity, observing the bird children, learning from their movements, but not necessarily understanding their interactions. The “Eins” as daddy referred to her was deathly frightened of everything, including her savior the “Marcus” who had rescued her from the clutches of a pair or so of Daddy’s Vampires. I couldn’t understand her, couldn’t understand her fear. If she’d been the stepping stone to the blossoming of my life, how was she so different from me?

If I had been there, I would have killed the Vampires and enslaved the boy.

It only made sense. One with such power should not wield it lightly. One with power must flaunt said power. One with power must become the dominant one.

That’s why I was Daddy’s heiress.

I was the powerful one.

“Alice,” Daddy’s voice was filled with kindness; fake kindness, but it was the only type I knew of. I wasn’t sure if to react brightly, or if to simply saunter over to him. In an attempt to please him, I skipped over to him as an average six year old would. Seeing as I was in the body of a six year old, I could only hope it would work. He ignored me.

Hope. Ha, what a joke.

Arriving by his spinning chair, I put a delicate hand on top of his. The chair seemed to float, as I could not make out what lifted it, and I assumed it worked on some sort of intensely concentrated vaporizing system. I could smell the water in the air, after all.

“Yes Daddy,” That was a default response. It was the obedience Daddy wanted, and it was the obedience he got.

“You’ll be leaving for Arizona today,” he said quietly, grazing his eyes over the gruesome scene one of our bird children had, had. She looked very similar to me, at least similar to me when I was an adolescent, but much more beat up with a grisly set of claw marks on the side of her wing, courtesy the Vampires.

I wasn’t sure if to call her a “poor thing” or if to think she deserved it. I wasn’t sure how Daddy wanted me to react.

“Yes, Daddy,” I said. What else was I suppose to say? What else did people say? He went on as though I’d asked a question about what I was to do once there,

“I may have a few Vampires waiting for you. They will guide you through the steps of integrating yourself into the human world.” My hear skipped a beat (I think that’s the expression).

Daddy was going to let me be with the humans. Daddy was setting me free on the world.

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It didn't take a genius to realize that whoever she was, this girl was frightened of just about everything. All I had to do was look at her to see the fear leap into her wine red eyes. Now that I was looking, I noted her unusual coloring - namely her silvery hair and wings, which were unlike any I'd ever seen before. They were Vampire-like, but they were covered in feathers, feathers that were different from mine. Harder and more compact.

And, she was tiny. Even her wingspan. I was wondering to myself how she managed to stay in the air when she finally answered my question, though she did so hesitantly.

"What do you mean you're not sure?" I replied, trying in vain to suppress the note of impatience that crept into my voice. When she elaborated, I realized she'd taken my question literally. If this was an act, it was a really, really good one. But a large part of me was scoffing and tossing suspicions in every direction, while the rest of me was weary of always suspecting everything. Just once I wished I could give it a rest.

And on top of that, what was I supposed to do next? It seemed wrong to just leave her there. And however paranoid I was, I suddenly hated the idea of running away on my own with a passion. The thought of having another person, another ally, was enough to almost make me happy. Wouldn't it make sense to take my allies where I could get them? Strength in numbers, etc?

I sighed, realizing as I did so that I'd interrupted the girl's rambling. I recalled what she had been saying.

"So, you're from the Ward too?" I asked after a moment, hoping she'd elaborate. I had a feeling if I started firing too many questions at her she'd lock down and refuse to say anything. A sound behind me had me glancing back, but the Vampire hadn't stirred. Still...

"We should get out of here, before anyone else shows up," I suggested, feeling odd elated by the "we", even as I told myself that it didn't mean anything, anything at all.

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"Sigh. So, you're from a Ward too?" The boy asked sharply, breaking the silence and compelling me to turn my gaze upon his piercing eyes once more. His voice sounded... tired. It didn't seem like he was so worried that I was an enemy anymore, rather, it simply seemed like he was exhausted and fed up with the world for being the way it was, as though he was simply too fed up to care whether or not I was a threat to him anymore, and had simply decided to believe my words for now. I felt a little more at ease with this deduction, since it meant that I would at least have a little bit more time to figure things out before anything happened to me. My hands stopped fidgeting about at last, and instead settled where they were, folded before my collar.

After a moment, I managed to remember that I was supposed to answer when someone asked me a question - an impressive feat, considering the confused nature of my thoughts - and after another, I managed to make the decision to give a quick nod rather than using my voice, a new and worrying prospect in which I did not place any faith. My answer conveyed thus, the boy glanced around, evidently having heard or seen something that unnerved him. But, after a moment, he seemed to settle slightly, giving a wary glance to the fallen Vampire before turning to face me once again.

"We should get out of here, before anyone else shows up," The boy said simply. The comment was not, in and of itself, surprising. Anyone in their right mind would, when still so close to the enemy's home territory, and having only just foiled one of the hunters pursuing them, suggest immediate departure. It was only common sense to distance oneself from the enemy while one had the chance. But, on the other hand, the comment meant several things that were quite astonishing.

"We," he had said. That could only mean one thing: I was to go with him at once, and to trust in him to keep me safe. But, on the other hand, he could just as easily have said "You're coming with me, or I'll kill you." I was quite clearly at his mercy, so if he wanted me to obey him out of fear, then now would be the obvious chance to establish how things were going to be. I'd have no option but to follow him, so why...?

No, the only reason he would phrase things that way was because he wanted me to feel at ease... wasn't it? That simple, obvious suggestion, was also a gesture of reassurance, and a statement of policy. It meant that so long as I did nothing to endanger myself, he wasn't going to hurt me. Moreover, it was an invitation, which meant I would have the opportunity to reject his offer, if I wanted to. But, terrified as I was, I already knew what my answer would be. I would accept his request, and go with him.

It was basic survival instinct, really. He had just saved my life, and was, in essence, offering to continue protecting me without specifying anything I'd need to do in return. It was too good to be true, I knew, but it was also a much safer bet than Jude, whose intentions I could not guess, save that he needed me to serve as a locator for other Mutants, and far, far superior to going it alone, as I had almost no idea what sort of world I had ventured into, and couldn't protect myself from a particularly dangerous animal, let alone the Vampires that would surely pursue me until I was dead and buried. And, if worst came to worst and he questioned my usefulness as an ally, I could always serve him in the same manner as I would have served Jude. And, while I knew Jude would not harm me yet, I could make no such guarantees for the future. This boy, on the other hand, was much the safer bet. And, if I went with him, I could escape both of those parties that would capture me: Jude and the Ward alike. So, at last, I decided, and gave voice to my reply, no matter how hard it was. Shuffling nervously into the clearing, I glanced about much as my protector had just done, then nodded and gave my response.

"R-right... I-I can come with you, then?" I asked, attempting to confirm my suspicions. In that instant, my heart seemed to stop, as I waited on baited breath for his answer, and for the fate to which that answer would subject me.

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(Hooray for massive misconceptions and epic-level social failure! Eins is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters to write, just because of how strange she is compared to all my other ones. XD)

In the instant that I was given my answer, I could feel relief flooding into my heart as though bursting forth from behind a dam. It was too good to be true, and yet, for all intents and purposes, it was true! I had finally found someone willing to protect me, as of yet without any cost to myself. My face lit up with a smile of exuberant gratitude, the foreboding that had covered it vanishing like a seemingly endless night giving way to the first rays of dawn. I didn't realize at the time exactly how apt that analogy was.

"Thank you," I said at last, wanting to burst out with joy but restraining myself due to the circumstances. Consequently, what wanted to be a triumphant, thankful cry was nothing more than a hushed half-whisper. But, no matter how soft or quiet those airy words were, they still carried with them the full weight of my immeasurable gratitude. It might have seemed silly to be so thankful for a simple offer with no security, no defined term of being, a suspiciously undefined means of repayment, and no plan behind it, but to me, it meant the world despite all of these factors. I had seen the thoughts in this boy's eyes, heard them inside his head, even if they had been thickly veiled behind his subconscious, and I could tell that he was at least partially in earnest. By this means, and by his actions, I could discern for sure one thing: my chances were much better trusting in him than they were relying on anyone else. And so, I accepted his offer with all the thankfulness of a lost kitten given a new home, and all of the nerve-wracking confusion and worry that entailed.

"You're going to need some new clothes," The boy said suddenly, snapping me out of my joyous reverie. I halted halfway across the glade, not really understanding what he meant. True, the jumpsuit was cold and somewhat inconvenient due to its many locks and buckles meant to restrict and detain its wearer, but I didn't really understand why the garment needed immediate replacement. Was it really that pressing an issue? If so, why?

"And we might need to do something with your hair... I don't know." This comment confused me even more than the last one. I understood that my hair was abnormal in comparison to that of most other people I had seen, but I didn't understand why that was such a bad thing. At the time, the thought hadn't even occurred to me that such an abnormality might be deemed suspicious by ordinary people who didn't know of the Ward and its doings, as I the only world I had ever known was the Ward. It seemed only natural to me that everyone knew about the Ward, and thus that abnormalities such as my own would be thought unusual, but uninteresting. Truth be told, blending in with ordinary Humans hadn't even occurred to me, as, quite frankly, I did not know what an ordinary Human was, save for the biological definition I had gleaned from the Masters back in my old room. The only differences between me and a normal Human, as far as I knew, were my avian and vampiric traits. In my naive mind, I simply assumed that they thought the same way and on the same level as myself.

"Alright, let's get out of here. We need to get rid of those clothes before we do anything else." The boy turned and strode toward the edge of the clearing, leaving me baffled but forcing me to take off at a slight jog to catch up with him before he reached the edge of the forest. Unfortunately for me, my footwork was still off due to my inexperience walking on uneven ground, and I found myself tripping over a small outcropping I had not noticed, and, with a stifled squeak of surprise, fell flat on my face before I had even finished taking my second step. Undeterred, however, I swiftly picked myself up and rushed over to the boy's side, dusting myself off as I did so.

"We'll fly up to that building and look for a... salvation army. I got my clothes from one of those, but in another location," the boy explained rather unsatisfactorily. I had no idea what a salvation army was, or what one looked like, or how I would tell one apart from anything else in the area, so his directions were rather useless to me. I didn't understand. He spoke as though I was supposed to know these things, almost on an instinctive level. Then... it must have had something to do with the Ward, right? That was the main thing we shared in common - being brought up in the Ward - so that seemed to me like the only logical option. Satisfying myself with this deduction, I began to ponder the meaning of those two words, hoping to be of some use to my new protector by finding this army thing he was looking for. A little voice in the back of my mind asked me why I didn't just ask him what he meant, but I silenced it with the justification that I was evidently supposed to know this, and if I showed ignorance in such a manner, I'd no doubt come off to him as stupid. Foolish as it was, I wanted to impress him somehow, to make sure I didn't fail him and give him a reason to reconsider his offer.

Well, when I thought about it, I'd many times in my mental wanderings in the Ward encountered the word "salvation." Each time I did, it always seemed to have a different meaning. Some of the older mutants and the lower ranked scientists seemed to associate it with some sort of universal and apparently very powerful parent known as "God." But, this word, too, seemed to be defined differently each time I ran across it, and it seemed to me preposterous that so many people could share the same parent, especially considering the fact that mutants like us had no families to begin with. I ended up dismissing it as some kind of metaphor, and moved on. In relation to the higher ranking scientists, the word "salvation" had carried a much different connotation. They had referred to their salvation as their complete acquisition of everything they wanted, and the complete control of whatever they wanted. I seriously doubted that this was the right definition of the word, so I dismissed it as well. Lastly, I had stumbled across the word in the minds of mutants like Jude and this boy. To them, salvation was, quite simply, freedom, liberty, and the right to live their lives as they pleased. In short, it meant rescue from the confines of the Ward. This definition seemed the most appropriate, so I moved on to the second word.

"Army." That was a very simple word I had run across often in the minds of all of my Masters, and understood well. The "army" - of which I only knew one - was the organized force of mutants that, led by the Ward, was intended to follow their Masters' will and conquer the world. This word at first seemed to correspond much better with the second definition of salvation than the third, which rather confused me. But, at that point, I remembered something I had once heard, about armies being able to change their commanders. It had been the fear of many of the scientists who worked on us that we would instead serve other Masters than themselves. In that case, perhaps this "Salvation Army" was the army that the Ward had intended to build, turned against it and used instead to fight for the Salvation of those mutants still forced to serve their Masters? Such an organization, I supposed, would surely have some subsection devoted to supplying fellow runaway mutants. Without this vital system, it would surely be rendered powerless, and collapse, would it not? And, I supposed, clothes might be counted amongst the supplies such a resistance movement could provide. But this seemed much too good to be true. Could it really be that this boy who had found me was actually an agent of a secret, underground rebellion, sent to free me from my captors and give to me "salvation?"

In retrospect, I must have gotten something wrong somewhere. Despite the boy's subconscious screening to keep my prying eyes away from his thoughts, I could still understand enough of what he was thinking to know that what he referred to wasn't some kind of underground resistance. Besides, looking back to see where I went wrong, there were several things that were quite impossible about my deduction. First and foremost, why would we be looking for a secret resistance army from the top of a random building? It didn't seem like we would find anything that way. Also, if he was an agent of this secret resistance - or at least knew enough about it to get supplied with clothes - he would have to also know where its base was already, making any such search completely irrelevant. No, much as I would like to believe in this fantasy, there was no organized group of mutants who would help and protect me. I would have to make due with the companion I had.

Motioning for me to follow, the boy skirted the edge of the small wood we were in, then abruptly leaped upward, flapping his wings and shooting up into the night sky through a gap in the tree canopy. Not wanting to be left behind alone, I quickly took a deep breath, braced myself, and then leaped upward, my wings flapping with a strength and a power that belied their small size. In a single fluttering of my diamond-like wingspan, I was in the air, and another stroke propelled me through the trees. Just one more, and I was in the open sky, my puny stature and miniscule weight rendering my abrupt launch almost effortless.

In retrospect, it had been quite difficult at first. To be honest, today was the first day I had ever really, truly flown. In my cell, I had practiced hovering so as not to let my wings atrophy, but once I was free and in the open sky, it had been another matter entirely to work out how to guide myself, and to keep myself from falling. The prospect of flying for any longer than a short glide was still rather frightening to me, meaning it was rather fortunate that the building my guardian had chosen to move to was only a few wingbeats away. Turning myself towards it, I clumsily flapped my radiant, bat-like wings, and managed to set myself on the right course. Another two strokes, and I had reached the roof, my feet finally finding reassuringly flat ground as I stumbled to a standing position, folding my wings once more. Even from that small flight, it was rather evident how clumsy I was, both landing and in flight. I hoped my guardian wouldn't hold it against me, and then turned my mind to some of the questions that still confused me.

"Err... You said I needed to get rid of my clothes... right away, right? W-well, it's kind of cold up here... B-but, if it's important, I could just leave them here." I asked, innocent confusion filling every cadence of my voice as I fiddled with the collar of my jumpsuit, fully unfastening the cloth mask and trying to find out exactly how the jumpsuit fit together, never having needed to remove it before. But, evidently, it was urgent that I abandon the outfit at once, so I sought to comply, blissfully ignorant of the implications of the actions I was trying to commit. To be sure, I had long since known of the differences between the Human sexes, male and female, thanks to the definitions provided me in the minds of the scientists that had surrounded me during the large part of my existence. I even knew how Human reproduction worked, and about the genetic distribution between parents and offspring. All of the biological components made sense to me, but, at that time, I was entirely unaware of there being any sort of social importance to those differences. I simply assumed that everyone understood them from an academic point of view - as that was the only point of view I had ever experienced - and felt no embarrassment or drive in relation to the bodily features of the opposite sex. Consequently, I wasn't in the least reluctant to comply with the rather vague command I had been issued, and, in fact, had no idea that I had misinterpreted it, as my experience showed that such an order could make logical sense under the circumstances, and my lack of any self-conscious prejudice kept me from being dissuaded by a desire for privacy, a word which I did not, in fact, even understand at that point in time. And so, I continued in my search for some buckle or fastener that would allow me to remove the jumpsuit. A few moments of feeling about led me to a zipper located just beneath the buckle on my collar that had used to fasten the gag across my throat, and in an instant, I had pulled it open, separating the mask of sorts I had worn before and dividing my already rather meager clothing to an almost fully revealing point. The only thing that saved my future self from a great deal of humiliation, once I had been informed of what I was doing, was a series of buckles and straps that held the garment together despite the unfastened zipper, and thankfully kept me from removing it due to my rather clumsy hands and lack of manual dexterity.

It was at this point that I felt a great deal of emotions, many of which contradicted each other and equally many were unfamiliar to me. At the same time, I felt a rather piercing pair of black eyes staring directly at me, and so looked up, turning with confusion to face my companion, unaware of the meaning of his stare or his suddenly frantic thoughts.

"A-ah... is something wrong?" I asked nervously. What I really meant was "Did I do something wrong?" but I let that question go unspoken, hoping against hope that the cause of my guardian's worry was not me. But, given the discomforting stare he was giving me, I had a feeling that these hopes were meaningless...

(Sorry for the slight godmod at the end. I'm just kind of assuming, given Marcus' personality, that he will be very, very confused by Eins' complete lack of social understanding or inhibitions, hence the sudden surge of thoughts and the stare I added in. Again, I apologize if this is something you'd rather have me remove. In such a case, I'll comply gladly.)

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I was silent for several minutes as I searched the store fronts, occasionally standing and moving to another side of the building. I couldn't see them all from here, because some of the other buildings blocked my view. However, I thought I could make out a red shield-like logo partially obscured...

"Err... You said I needed to get rid of my clothes... right away, right? W-well, it's kind of cold up here... B-but, if it's important, I could just leave them here."

"What?" I said stupidly, turning to face her. Not in a million years had I expected to hear that and I knew I was staring at her like she was some bizarre creature I'd never seen before.

I had an epiphany. Not the good kind, where you come up with some amazing conclusion or idea, but the kind where you realize you've gotten in waay over your head and you're drowning. She was completely clueless... probably about everything. What had the Ward had planned for her, if they hadn't even taught her the basics of life? Even I had learned a few things when I was younger... mostly by making mistakes and getting punished for it. Maybe she was an experiment that turned out wrong...

I was drawn out of my rapidly wandering thoughts by the sound of a zipper. I hastily turned away, knowing my face was bright red despite my semi dark complexion. I almost scoffed when she asked if something was wrong, remembering just in time how timid she was.

"Yeah, something's wrong!" I said derisively, without turning around. "You can't take your clothes off in front of people... in public places..." I wondered how I could possibly explain this to her, trying to get my scrambled thoughts in order. I waited until I heard the suit being zippered up, glanced carefully over my shoulder, and then turned to face her again once I found it was safe. I stalled for a moment, instinctively scanning the area in search of threats or witnesses. It seemed clear but I couldn't be sure. We had to get under cover as soon as possible, but she also needed to know some things.

"We're on the run from the Ward... Oh, and their army of psychotic, murderous experiments. If we don't want them to find us, we have to blend in. You're going to stick out if you look like you just escaped from some kind of prison facility, not to mention the Ward will recognize you instantly. You need normal clothes so you can blend in." I paused, to make sure she understood this. "That's why we're looking for a Salvation Army. It's the name of a clothes store where we can get you another outfit cheap."

Which was yet another problem. I couldn't possibly take her down there with me. There was only one jacket between us, to hide one pair of wings, and besides that, who knew what she would do. But how would I know what size to get her? I wasn't sure of clothes sizes myself... I sighed. If I'd been on my own, I would've been out of the state by now, sleeping peacefully (okay, fitfully and uncomfortably) in a tree in a random forest. Too late for that now.

I peered over the edge of the building and scanned the area below, then turned to face her again with my serious business face on.

"Here's the plan. You're going to hide in the alley down there-" I pointed to the space between the buildings, narrow and dark enough to hide her, and also devoid of drunk people and other dangers to society. "- and I'm going to go into the Salvation Army I spotted over there, and get you something else to wear. Alright..." I left the sentence hanging, realizing that I didn't even know her name.

"What's your name?" I asked, halfway expecting her to say she didn't know. "I'm Marcus."

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"Yeah, something's wrong!" The immediate response to my innocent inquiry was harsh and direct, barked angrily over the boy's shoulder as he turned away from me for reasons I didn't really understand. As he began to explain what I could and could not do - listing several different restrictions I had never expected, and the purpose of which I did not then comprehend - I couldn't help but feel guilty and ashamed, like a child caught doing something prohibited. To be perfectly honest, I might have felt a tinge of embarrassment at how the boy averted his eyes from me as though frightened, and cried out in anger as though my mere action was something repulsive enough to burn him to a simmering anger. Was my natural form so unnatural as to be disgusting to him? While I hadn't really thought of his opinions on how I looked when I began to unzip my jumpsuit, now that I had received his most vehemently negative impressions of me, I couldn't but feel somehow insulted, or monstrous. I could only wonder as much as I looked down at the ground, not sure what I should say or do to make up for my mistake. I'd had no idea what I was doing was so incorrect. He had to understand that, right? But even if he did, it was evident that my crime was too grave to be simply dismissed and forgiven. Doubtless, he would have some punishment prepared at a later, more convenient time, and I mentally began to prepare myself for it. I was his inferior, and, as I was relying entirely on him for my own safety and support, I would simply have to submit to his judgement, or risk his abandoning me. I needed his guardianship and guidance to live, so, in short, whatever he wanted me to do or not do, I would have to abide by, even if I didn't understand it. But, on the other hand, hadn't that been what I was already doing? He had ordered me to get rid of my evidently conspicuous clothing, and so I had tried to follow his command. Despite that, I had apparently somehow misunderstood him, and done something gravely wrong which had offended him deeply. Then should I ask for an explanation of everything? But that would only make me seem stupid and doubtless irritate him beyond belief. Perhaps I should try to read his mind to find the answers I sought, then. But this option was dismissed just as quickly as the last two, for if he found out, he would surely be righteously indignant, and I would be severely punished for intruding upon his private thoughts - perhaps even killed for finding out something I shouldn't have, or worse, left to die slowly on my own. Then should I simply wait and try to follow his lead and do as he did, trying to adapt his own actions to suit myself without bothering him with questions or failures? It would surely be a minor annoyance to him, but it seemed to be the only option available to me. I could only brace myself for the many scoldings to come and hope that he would understand.

"I-I'm sorry. I didn't... I wasn't... that is... I don't... understand..." I mumbled at last, fumbling with the zipper and pulling it back up as far as it would go as fast as I could do so. Cowering behind my suddenly comforting cloth mask, I fastened one of the buckles on it with my still fidgeting hands, and pondered whether I should do the same with the second so as to silence my loathsome voice completely, feeling that simply muffling it and hiding my evidently repulsive countenance and form wasn't a good enough solution to the problem I had caused. I decided against this measure, wanting to be able to respond immediately to any question he might ask of me, or to apologize and beg his forgiveness should he choose to continue scolding me. Fortunately, it seemed that he had passed over my infraction for the moment, and seemed to be forming a plan. I looked up nervously through the curtains of silvery hair I let hang down in the hopes that they would cover my hopelessly red face. Combined with the half-mask of the garment, they formed a sort of screen from behind which I peered shamefully, my burgundy eyes dancing fearfully about as though unsure whether or not they deserved to see any of the things around them.

"Here's the plan. You're going to hide in the alley down there, and I'm going to go into the Salvation Army I spotted over there, and get you something else to wear. Alright...?" The boy spoke suddenly, and I started to attention as best I could while also keeping my face turned submissively downward. In the end, all I did was stiffen slightly, and turn my gaze up at his face - a feat of resolve that was almost beyond me, due to the strange attraction the concrete roof beneath my feet held for my wandering eyes. I was aware that he wanted some kind of response, but found myself unable to give him one, so overwhelmed was I by the lingering anger and irritation that I thought I could see in his eyes, and by the shame I felt at my innocent error. In the end, all I did was give a slight twitch that wanted to be an affirmative nod, and turned my gaze sadly downward, humiliated further by my humiliation itself.

"What's your name?" The abrupt question was rather unexpected, and rather awkward, considering that it couldn't be answered by a simple yes or no - in short, I would have to say something again, and that was a privilege I didn't feel myself worthy or capable of handling at the moment. In any case, I hadn't expected him to ask my name at all, considering he had completely passed over the subject when he first encountered me. I had assumed he simply didn't care about who I was, and personally felt that I wasn't someone who warranted such a concern anyway.

"I'm Marcus," he added, almost as an afterthought to his previous query. This was more surprising than anything else - his anger, his swift return to calm control, and his sudden asking of my name were all unexpected, to be sure, but this was beyond that. He was giving me his name? To a normal person, I learned later, a name was just a simple thing everyone had, a term by which one defined themselves, or by which one was defined. But to me, a name was something almost mystical, a label placed upon a living soul, chosen to suit that soul, and used to show everything that person was. I had never had a name of my own, instead being referred to by the simple designation of "Eins." That was a name without meaning, a worthless term used to define an equally worthless being. The importance I felt a name possessed was why I had at one point tried to make for myself my own name, a true and beautiful name that I hoped might encompass everything I was, and everything I hoped to be. But that name had been unsuited to my hopeless and worthless nature, and thus had been scoffed at and trampled upon by all those who heard it. I had no doubt that this boy, Marcus, would feel the same, even if he was giving me his own name, seemingly forgiving me for all of the errors I had just committed by doing so. And so, forced to answer as I was, I said not what I wanted to say, and instead simply repeated the same old title I loathed, and yet in all regards, I deserved.

"Eins," I blurted out, forcing the word from my throat. My eyes dropped further down, and my neck seemed not to support the weight of my skull, filled as it was with foolishness and mistakes. I averted to my eyes, my countenance turned downward and my head bowed submissively. "My name is Eins," I repeated gloomily, my shame consuming my each and every word as I spoke in a broken tone of humiliation. My form was utterly motionless save for the occasional shiver that ran through it - I wasn't sure if I was verging on the point of tears or if I was just cold. Perhaps it was both? - and for the occasional breeze that tousled my hair about me, the moonlight catching my silvery locks as they flapped about me like a flag of defeat and surrender.

"I'm sorry... s-sorry for burdening you. I'll just follow... your instructions..." I murmured at last, and then was silent, bearing the weight of my guilt and embarrassment without complaint, and on my own.

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"I'll be back in a few minutes," The boy, no, Marcus, said, dropping over the edge of the building after motioning me to follow him. I hesitated a moment, lingering on the edge of the roof and looking down rather fearfully at the ground below, which I couldn't even see - my night vision, as I did not yet know how to actively use my Vampiric traits to my advantage in such a situation, was probably worse than my ability at flying or protecting myself, considering I'd only lived in a fully lighted underground chamber all of my life, and thus never had to see in the dark or look at anything over 150 centimeters away. On the one hand, I was rather reluctant to do anything involving my wings, as I didn't really trust in my ability to use them well at this point. But, on the other, Marcus had commanded me to wait for him in that alleyway, which meant I had to obey, somehow. So, gulping down my fears, I spread my silvery wings, and stepped into empty space. For a split second, I could feel gravity tugging down harshly on me, ready to send me plummeting to the hard ground that lay an indeterminate distance below. Fluttering my wings tentatively, I tried to keep myself from coming down hard while also not entirely breaking my fall. As the only level of flight I was used to happened to be "hovering" and my landings always left something to be desired, this was much more difficult than it sounded. At times, I would start falling too fast, and begin to panic, flapping my wings quickly only to find that I'd begun to go back up. So, I would slow down again, and start falling so fast that I was sure I'd break on the ground like an eggshell when I hit it. But, after a few seconds fraught with the terror of falling to my death, I managed to locate the ground and get just a few feet above it. I folded my wings, bracing for a landing, but found to my surprise that I was falling forward rather than down - I'd folded my wings too fast and too early! The old panic returning, I frantically tried to put my feet beneath me as I met the ground, stumbling forward upon unsure footing. Trying to bring my balance back over my feet, I instead overturned myself, and went toppling headfirst forward, landing hard on my side despite my efforts to catch myself with my hands.

I gave a quiet groan, and was almost tempted to simply lie where I had fallen, defeated. The impact hadn't been, in and of itself, unbearably painful. But, on the other hand, my back was cut and bruised, I had small cuts all over my body from being thrown through the branches of a tree, and I had been generally battered and beaten down ever since I escaped the Ward. The force of my uncomfortably hard landing had been enough to cause all of these many wounds to flare up with protest yet again, and a fresh wave of pain wracked my form with every passing breath. But, Marcus wanted my attention, so I would have to rise and give it to him.

"Ah..." I gasped with pain as I tried to roll over and rise to a standing position, forgetting for a moment the many injuries that marked my back. In an instant, I was up, the pain from having so many wounds ground harshly against the pavement by the weight of my body motivating me to rise in an instant. I brushed my hand across my exposed back, and it came back somewhat bloody. Even scratches and grazing wounds could make a rather prominent red stain if there were so many of them in one spot at once.

"Just wait here, and don't touch the dumpster, who knows what -or who-'s been dumped in there. Don't leave this alley unless you're being attacked by something or someone,"[i] Marcus directed. I nodded, thinking that was all, before he gave me one final instruction. [i]"Or unless something comes out of the dumpster," he added, leaving me confused as to what he meant as he strode from the alleyway and into the lights of the street beyond. I glanced around. Truth be told, I didn't even know what a dumpster was, although that wasn't as problematic as identifying the mysterious "Salvation Army" Marcus had spoken of earlier, as the only other notable thing in the alley than myself was a rather large box-like object, almost, if not as wide as the world I used to live within, if not quite as tall. Its purpose was unclear, but due to the cryptic comments of my guardian and the nauseating smell coming from within, I had a suspicion that it was probably a storage device or prison of some sort for dangerous objects and/or creatures. Why else would he stress so heavily that I should not approach it, and that I should flee if something emerged from within its unspeakable depths, and that I might be attacked by "something?" Upon this realization, I quickly moved to the opposite side of the alleyway, gazing intently and uncertainly at the mysterious box-like object that was apparently a great threat to me.

For the entire time I remained alone in the alleyway, the dumpster had my entire attention. Every time I thought I heard a noise, I suspected that it had come from within the horrible container, and recoiled until I was up against the wall, spreading my wings and mentally preparing myself for both the grisly and unimaginable visage of the imaginary - but no less blasphemous against the laws of reality, several of which the image I had pictured defied maddeningly - terror which I fully expected to emerge at any moment. Many times, I was certain that I could both hear and see something moving around just beneath its closed lid, causing it to rattle terrifyingly. My fear built within my chest until finally I could hold it no longer, and it burst forth in the instant that what I dreaded happened: something brushed under the lid and leaped out from its prison and into the world it was not meant to enter! In an instant, I had leaped back, landing near the alleyway's exit and beginning to back up as I sized up the being before my eyes.

It was small, tiny even - only tall enough to reach up to just below my ankle, and not even the length of my foot - and covered head to each of its four feet with alternatively black and white fur, streaked with dirt and grime that likely came from within the prison in which it had been contained. As it gazed up at me with innocent green eyes, looking almost as afraid of me as I was of it, I had to wonder why I was supposed to be afraid of this creature. It was clearly too small - and thus, too weak - to seriously harm even a helpless person like me. I supposed it might have some terrifying mental ability - considering my own power to infiltrate the minds of others, this wasn't out of the question - but in that instant, I couldn't help but be drawn towards it rather than driven away. It was actually rather cute and fuzzy, and some sort of instinct deep within my heart told me to go and stroke its dirty but nonetheless soft fur.

"Meow." The creature's sudden cry caused me to abruptly reconsider my planned course of action. The sound was mournful and piercing, and so abrupt as to take me completely by surprise. I jumped at least a foot in the air, and began to creep backwards, my gaze divided between the small creature and the bin from which it had emerged. Was it calling more of its kind? Yes, that must of have been it! This terrible creature, along with its fell brethren, would overwhelm me with numbers rather than strength, and would doubtless devour me alive or something similarly awful! Marcus had directed me to flee should anything emerge from the dumpster, and I now regretted not obeying his orders immediately upon the fulfillment of their conditions. I needed to escape, at once, so, unthinking of the doubtless many people outside of the alley who might see me and realize what I was, I turned to flee, only to run headlong into a boy just entering the alleyway. For a moment, my fears were compounded, until I heard him speak.

"Eins? It's me. I got the clothes, hope they fit. I'll turn my back and keep watch while you change..." He said, handing me some kind of bag. In my panic, I hardly perceived these words, or those that followed as I dived behind my comrade, gesticulating wildly to the creature in the alleyway as I peered at it from behind his protective shoulder.

"It came from the dumpster!" I squeaked as a means of explanation and warning, hoping that Marcus was capable of fighting off that horrible being and its loathsome kindred. If he wasn't, I was absolutely certain that we'd be on the run again, or worse, dead.

How I wish now that I had realized the joke in Marcus' "orders," or known what the "creature" - actually just a small, harmless kitten - was. And, most of all, I wish I had actually paid enough attention to hear the apology he had started to give me before I cut him off with my burdensome antics. If I had, then I think the days following our meeting would have been much, much easier on us both...

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I was halfway through my apology when I realized she wasn't paying attention. I felt my eyes narrow in irritation as my sincere little speech ground to a halt. Then Eins squeaked something about a dumpster and dove behind me. I sighed. Just another one of life's hints that I should stop wasting time trying to make the world a funnier place. I turned a scowl in the direction of the monstrous thing she'd attempted to hide from.

A tiny, fluffy, dirty creature wobbled toward me.

"You have got to be kidding me," I said in disgust, avoiding contact with those enormous green eyes.

To be fair, the kitten was dangerous in it's own way. If either of us decided it was too cute to be left behind, we would definitely regret it later. Plenty of people had been hoodwinked by cute little kittens, only to be stuck with them later when they were bigger and less cuddly.

"It's just a kitten. A baby cat," I told her with a dismissive wave of my hand, once again holding out the bag with the clothes in it. "It's harmless. I was only joking about the dumpster. Here, take these clothes and put them on."

Not only was I not in the mood to repeat my apology after it'd been ignored, I was also not in the mood to mess around with a kitten when we were on the run. I waited for her to move back into the alley, then I turned to keep watch, leaning one shoulder against the cold brick wall.

"I hope you were at least paying attention when I told you what clothes went where," I tossed over my shoulder, blandly. "We need to get a move on or we're going to be back in straight jackets and dog crates before we know it."

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"You have got to be kidding me."

These were... not the words I was expecting. I looked up with confusion evident in my gaze as Marcus stepped to the side, gesturing his hand dismissively and motioning me to get back in the alley, looking fully disdainful of the fear I had felt and of the creature before us. "B-but... it..." I murmured, my voice trailing into silence as I became acutely aware of doing something wrong yet again. Had I again misinterpreted his orders, somehow? He had been perfectly clear that I was supposed to escape if something emerged from the dumpster. Something had, so... why? Why was he acting this way, scolding me again as though I'd done something wrong by obeying his commands? Had I misunderstood him again? Why...? Why was it that there were suddenly so many things I didn't understand? It seemed to me like people in the outside world - no, people in general - were always getting mad at me no matter what I did. First, my unremembered failure that had apparently resulted in my imprisonment and punishment, and subsequent near-execution. Next, my sudden appearance apparently angering Jude, and resulting in another punishment. After that, I had quite nearly been punished for my fear of being seen by other people, and then had been beaten savagely by the Vampire for my flight from the Ward. Marcus had saved me, only to scold me when I misinterpreted his orders to unclothe myself. And now, I had only tried to do as he said, but had somehow mistaken his command yet again! In a way, the fact that he, as of yet, hadn't actually physically struck me in retaliation for my failures was actually worse than the punishments I was used to and fully expected. How besides guilty was I supposed to feel for constantly burdening someone so benevolent as to protect me and not harm me? How besides ignorant should I have seemed when everything had to be explained to me, and where all of my innocent follies resulted only in actions so absolutely stupid as to frustrate even such a generous, wise soul as my guardian?

As he explained how I had apparently gone wrong - something about how he had only been joking, which, although I didn't really understand it, seemed to be a way of saying that one was not entirely serious when one made a particular comment, although how one went about discerning the truth from a "joke," I could not begin to fathom - I couldn't help but feel insignificant and mentally inferior. He threw around so casually concepts that I had never even heard of and did not fully understand, such as "jokes" and "kittens," while I simply stood, my head hung low in shame, trying to grasp his meaning in the hopes of discerning some means of not making the same mistake in the future. But, as it lay, I still hadn't the slightest clue how to interpret his words, laced as they were with "jokes" and other casual statements of the facetious. How was I supposed to know when he was in earnest? How was I supposed to meet his expectations, to please him?! I felt as though I'd been unjustly convicted of a crime I didn't commit - or, more aptly, like a child being scolded for unintentionally doing something wrong. I was totally overwhelmed by his words, by his actions, and by the world in general. I felt helpless, unable to even do menial things due to the vast handicap of the unknown. If I couldn't even grasp things that were evidently very simple, then of what use was I to anyone? Perhaps I'd have been better off just going back to the Ward to die so I wasn't a burden anymore. I'd done wrong enough to deserve it.

As Marcus gave me the bag and directed me to put on the clothes within it, ordering me to hurry myself in the action or else face the Ward - a threat which, despite my guilt, decidedly frightened me enough to give me the courage to pass the terrifying kitten as it looked up at me and gave a quiet mew - I headed reluctantly for the end of the alleyway, where a brick wall rose sharply from a building, thus terminating the path. As I reached this point, I set down the bag, and, my hand hesitating over the zipper I'd tried to undo before, I glanced uncertainly back at my new master.

"E-er.... is it really okay, then, to... take this off?" I stammered nervously, my voice almost crushed by the feeling that what I was saying was unbelievably stupid. He had directed me to undress and abandon my old clothing in favor of the new garment he had procured, so it seemed only reasonable that I was supposed to remove the outfit. Yet, I didn't want to do something to anger him further, and at this point, my belief in reasonable courses of action had been entirely shattered. No matter how reasonable it seemed, there was still the chance that I had misunderstood something in his orders, so, reluctant as I had been to do so before, I now decided it would be prudent to ask and confirm what I was supposed to with him before I did it. I only hoped it wouldn't trouble him...

And, this justification for my actions didn't make me feel any less ignorant, or embarrassed.

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(And, yet again, I do awkward things to embarrass Eins. XD)

My companion's monosyllabic reply, while relieving me of my fears that I would somehow anger him again, didn't make me feel much better despite that fact. He stated his answer as though it was so obvious as to be undeserving of any response longer than a single word, as though merely questioning the fact that it was okay to do as he said - as I understood it, anyway - this time was so pointless as to be idiotic. I had missed something else that I should have instinctively known, it seemed. The reality of how clueless I was weighed heavily on my shoulders, almost crushing my will to do anything entirely with the fear of doing it wrong. But, I was apparently supposed to do as I had been told, so...

"So... Eins... Anything I should know about you? What kind of abilities do you have?" The sudden query distracted me from my uncertainty as I slipped off my tight-fitting shoe and legging package, then tackled the nerve-wracking challenge of yet again unbinding the zipper, feeling the cold air against my skin as an abrupt reminder of the fact that, aside from the garment I was currently removing, I had nothing in the way of clothes, and of how cold the night was - colder even than my old cell.

"A-ah..." I stammered, trying to find an adequate response to his question as I fumbled about with the first buckle, not really sure how to unfasten it. How should I answer him? I could tell the truth about my powers - the ability to enter minds and take on the pain of others - but, I feared, that might make him paranoid and cause him to be reluctant to trust me - or even to abandon me entirely. But, on the other hand, if I lied to him, he would probably realize that I wasn't telling the truth, which would make him even more suspicious. But I couldn't simply remain silent - given that I had called him for help telepathically, he already had some clue as to the nature of my powers, and would no doubt be curious, or even apprehensive, of what they were, and thus would have his suspicions confirmed by such an obvious action - as doing so would probably make him angry at me again, since I would be defying his request outright, a course of action I could not even begin to consider. At last, I settled on a compromise between truth and untruth, deciding to tell him what my powers were by a roundabout way that would hopefully assuage his potential fears whilst also not arousing his suspicion.

"I can communicate with others at a distance," I said briefly, doing my best to answer in a confident and assured manner so as not to seem suspicious by stuttering or hesitating in response to his question. "A-and I can take on people's pain, too," I added as an afterthought, my finished response punctuated by the sound of a clicking buckle - I had finally discovered how to undo the fastenings - followed by another and another as I worked my way down the cloth's front. To my surprise, however, even though the front of the jacket was entirely undone, it still refused to part enough to slip around my shoulders and off of me. I could feel a faint tugging holding the jumpsuit together from behind, which must have meant... there was a clasp in the back, too? Feeling my arms around blindly behind me, I tried to reach far enough to locate the fastening, stretching first to one side, and then the other, then to both at once, but all to not avail. Despite all my efforts, I found myself unable to do more than ever so fleetingly touch the very edge of the last buckle, as I had to reach around my own wings to do so due to its location at the bottom of the slit through which they protruded, concealed just below them. Growing frustrated now, I spread my wings to their full length, then raised them upward, trying to reach the fastening, but even then, I could not quite grasp the clasp that would separate it. Overbalanced by the effort, I instead found myself taking a step to the side to catch my weight, only to collide into the wall at the alley's end and tip backwards, falling on my rear with a quiet "Oof!" of pain and surprise, the old bruises I had sustained yet again flaring to painful levels of protest. I rose to my feet her again, rubbing the side of my head where it had bumped against the wall. Already, I was feeling several small uneven patches beneath my hair, each from a spot where I'd been struck today. My head was hurting and my ears were ringing, I was tired, I was cold, I was sore, I was depressed, I was scared, and on top of all that, I couldn't even undo this last buckle!

"E-er..." I stammered, hesitating to ask for help as I recalled the reaction of abhorrence Marcus had shown before at a single glance at my body. It would doubtless be uncomfortable for him to even be close to me like this, but how else could I comply with his orders? It was the only option I had, but, somehow, that didn't make it any less embarrassing. "T-there's a buckle on the back..." I said weakly, my voice barely more than a whisper. "I-I... can't reach it..." I finished lamely, leaving my conclusion unsaid, but nonetheless implied. Ashamed at my request due to its apparently rule-breaking nature, I flushed red for what seemed like the millionth time today and turned away, my head once more bowed in humiliation.

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I can communicate with others at a distance.

A deeply sarcastic reply sprang to the tip of my tongue when I heard that, but I bit it down. I'd already decided that the best way to approach Eins was stoically, with very little emotion at all. A sarcastic reply would definitely make the awkwardness between us worse. The less emotion I showed, the less likely she would be to assume I was angry or disgusted by her.

I wonder how much of that behavior is because of the Ward. Probably about... 99.9 percent of it. Speaking (or rather thinking) of the Ward, she seemed a little vague about her abilities, hesitant even. Maybe she didn't really know what she could do... that surely couldn't be all of it. Communicating at a distance, that sounded pretty useful. Taking other people's pain... yeah, I'd kill for that ability. Not.

Eins stammered from behind me. I'd registered the sound of a light struggle, but hadn't paid any attention to it. Instead of speaking, I waited for her to finish whatever she was going to say. There was a buckle in the back that she couldn't reach. Okay, no big deal. I really needed to stop acting like an eight year old... human bodies were not that traumatic.

"Okay," I said evenly. "Turn around and I'll get it."

I waited until I heard her move and then with one last glance up and down the street, I turned and moved further into the alley. Presented with the buckle, it was simple enough for me to reach over with both hands and unclasp it. Why anyone would put a buckle there was beyond me, it didn't seem like it served any purpose at all.

"Hold the suit closed and I'll make sure there aren't any others that need to be undone," I suggested. (Assuming she'd done so) I checked for any other weirdly placed buckles but it seemed like she'd gotten them all.

"Done," I said simply, slowly stepping back and turning to face the front of the alley again.

It'd been maybe half an hour since I'd smashed a rock against the Vampire's skull. They recovered pretty quickly and I was sure he'd woken up by now. Yet I hadn't heard or saw a single thing to suggest we were about to be ambushed. Most likely, the Vampire had gone back to headquarters with a concussion, unable to battle. But wouldn't they send more?

It was a very tense few minutes as I waited for Eins to finish dressing.

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"Okay. Turn around and I'll get it." My face flushed a brighter shade of red - if that was possible - as my guardian reluctantly approached me from behind, reaching out and quickly unfastening the strap. I somehow just knew without looking that I must have made another mistake and angered him. After all, he hadn't even wanted to be near me before when I had tried to undress, and now I was forcing him to approach me regardless just because I was a helpless klutz.

Ashamed as I was, I didn't need him to tell me to hold my now limp and loose jumpsuit, keeping it from slipping down any further than where it currently dangled dangerously below my exposed shoulders while he patted it down for other hidden fastenings - probably meant to make the suit cumbersome to its wearer, if any existed, although I had a feeling the one on the back was the only one and was probably just meant to keep the suit from sliding down and covering my wings.

"Done," he said at last, and stepped back and away, evidently not having found anything else. A glance over my shoulder told me he wasn't looking, so for the first time in years I stepped fully out of my prisoner's raiment, letting it fall softly to the ground as the frigid air danced across my now fully exposed skin, causing me to shiver in the sudden chill. I'd been cold enough, even with the thin garment on. Now that I had discarded it, I felt as though I had stepped into a freezer and locked the door behind me. Quickly, I began rummaging through the small bag of clothes, glancing over the various items that greeted my eyes. Well, over my confused fear I hadn't really heard much of Marcus' instructions, but they were things he wanted me to know, and were fresh in his mind, meaning just by being close to him I had a fairly good idea of what I was supposed to do - although there was a somewhat confusing part I didn't understand about something called "underclothing" which evidently was not included in the outfit he had brought, as I couldn't seem to find any of it.

The new garments consisted of a pair of snugly fitting, ankle-length leggings known as "pants," made of some very soft, snowy white colored material I didn't recognize. I slid into these first, but found them to be only slightly thicker than my old attire, and just as tight against my form. While the latter was good, as it gave me one less thing to trip over, it still meant I was rather cold despite the garment I now wore.

The raiment known as a "T-Shirt" - I wasn't sure why there didn't seem to be a "U-Shirt" or a "V-Shirt," or even an A, B, or C shirt, but evidently that was just how the naming convention worked, despite making very little sense to me - was a little more complicated in terms of size. The garment was a dark shade of ocean blue, and, unfortunately, while it fit me fairly closely in the bust and stomach areas - although it became somewhat loose and rumpled in the latter region - it was evidently tailored to fit someone quite a bit taller and more sizable than myself. Vertically, it went clear past my waist and reached nearly to my thighs, while its sleeves - which, due to their construction, were evidently meant to only reach to around elbow level - ran clear down to my wrists, and were so bulky as to look almost comical as my small, white hands protruded from their vast consuming depths. This garment I donned second, and, after some stumbling around in a confused search for zippers or other fastenings of the sort I recognized, found that there were none, and I was instead supposed to pull it over my head. After this confusion was resolved, I managed to get the garment on - although my practically bladed wings were somewhat difficult to fit through its fragile back without tearing too large a hole in it - and set about tackling the remaining accessories.

The stockings I had been bought - rather over-sized black cloths that, unlike my other clothing, were thick and warm - reached almost up to my knees, but were fairly simple to work out, since they were quite similar to my old leggings. The shoes, on the other hand, were somewhat more complicated to work out. My instructions as received from Marcus' mind dictated that I tie the strings on top of the rather confusing footgear - which white with flecks of deep blue, and in their flat design were like some sort of a cross between a tennis shoe and a slipper - in something called a "knot." Unfortunately, it took quite some time to decipher exactly what this meant. But, after a few minutes of fiddling with the strings, I managed to finally get them to assume the shape they were apparently supposed to, and the shoes fit quite snugly on my feet. But, unfortunately, aside from them and the socks keeping my feet quite warm, I myself was rather cold. I searched through the bag a final time, and to my delight, I found at least a partial solution to my issues.

The last garment was a thick blue jacket with soft white lining that had obviously seen better days - both its sleeves had been at some point removed, the torn area restitched and patched entirely over by hand so as to maintain the garment's insulation, and its zipper was not only broken, but also jammed just below the collar, making it impossible to either loosen or fully close - but on the other hand, it was very comfortable - the collar was both loose and high enough for me to slip into and hide behind in much the same way as I had concealed myself beneath my mask before, and the garment also came with a rather large, consuming hood that I could probably pull over myself if I ever got embarrassed, on top of which the garment would also conceal my folded wings perfectly - and warm - even if I would end up wearing it more as an open poncho, it was oversized enough to flow down almost as far as my gigantic shirt did, and from the moment I put it on had a tendency to wrap around me like a sort of cloak - and so I instantly decided to wear it, pulling it over my head and feeling almost instantly comforted by the feeling of a sort of barrier between my face of the eyes of any who might look at me. I also donned the hood, as an extra measure against the shame I still felt, before turning uneasily and picking up my fallen jumpsuit.

"I-I'm done," I murmured uneasily, not sure how Marcus would react. Something, be it instinct or some other basic feeling, told me that I should be worried about his opinion on how I looked at the moment. If the outfit suited me well, I wanted him to say so, and at the same time, I was afraid that he would reconsider his choice based on my appearance. I didn't really understand the feeling of trying on a new and uncertain ensemble until later, but at the time, I was quite baffled by it. "W-what should I do with this?" I asked, holding up the old white jumpsuit as I tried to get my mind off of my sudden anxiety, hiding my somewhat reddened face beneath my new hood.

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It felt like it had been silent for a long time, though it'd only been a couple minutes. When I finally heard Eins say something, it was so unexpected that I jumped and glanced around warily. I turned again to face Eins, quietly considering her new (okay, used and kind of worn) clothes.

My guesses seemed to be more or less close to her size and I smirked inwardly. The T-shirt was a little too big, hanging a few inches below the equally oversized jacket, though that wasn't a big deal, and it was better that the jacket was larger. Hopefully it wouldn't be a problem when it came to flying.

"Perfect," I said, nodding in approval. I could only assume that tearing I heard earlier was her making holes for her wings through the back of the shirt.

"Just to be safe, you should probably keep your hood up for now," I suggested mildly. "It's not unusual for people to dye their hair different colors from what I've heard, but it still draws attention."

When she held out the jumpsuit and asked what she should do with it, I stared at it thoughtfully. "I'd love to burn it, but that would be a bad idea. No matches or lighters to burn it with, either. This'll have to do..."

I took the jumpsuit from her, balled it up, and walked over to the dumpster. Doing my best not to touch the contents or the bin itself, I stuffed the wad of cloth behind a trashbag with a grimace. There was a moldy, soggy sandwhich melted across the top of the trashbags. Disgusting.

"Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way... we can finally get the heck out of here," I announced with a half smile, half smirk, suddenly in a better mood. We were one step closer to being out of the Ward's reach.

Life really loves to prove me wrong.

As I stepped out of the alley, I instinctively scanned the area. And froze. Something large, dark, and human-shaped temporarily blocked out the stars, and then the thing went hurtling past, moving faster than I could possibly think or observe. It disappeared behind or between the buildings nearby.

Vampire! my mind screamed at me as my heart began to pound with adrenaline, my breathing quickening. I just knew it was the Vampire I'd knocked out; we'd wasted too much time with those stupid clothes and now we would pay the price. The Vampire had probably brought reinforcements!

I panicked.

I broke into a run and headed in the general direction I'd seen the Vampire go, without even pausing to inform Eins. I had a vague idea that I'd corner the Vampire and force him to tell me who he'd brought with him and how they were planning to ambush us. A poorly thought out idea with a lot of holes in it, but I was too busy worrying about having a heart attack (right before the Ward captured and tortured me, of course) to reconsider my plan of action.

It felt like hours passed as I ran, but I knew it could only have been seconds, certainly less than a minute. I'd passed several alleys and turned a couple corners, refusing to stop and think, my eyes frantically shifting in search of dark humanoid shapes with glistening wings. Every shadow that leapt at me was an enemy.

I almost passed the Vampire before I realized what I'd seen and skidded to a halt at the mouth of the alley, nerves wrapped in a tight painful bundle. In hindsight, probably not a good idea. The Vampire was there, standing in the shadows, probably giving orders to his friends.

I tensed, prepared to do... well, something. Attack? Probably. Like I said, panic. But then the Vampire spoke, and that threw me off for several reasons.

"What's wrong with you Marce?"

One, last time I checked, Marce was a girl's name. Two, last time I checked, the Vampire I'd attacked and knocked out was male. Before I could begin to jump to conclusions about why this might be, details penetrated my panic clouded mind.

The figure had been dark, but the wings had been pale. Feathery. Even in the darkness, I could see that this "Vampire" also had pale wings, one of which seemed a little... off. It wasn't folded properly. The "Vampire" was also wearing normal, slightly dirty clothes and had no claws.

The "Vampire" was not a Vampire. It -she- was another bird kid. Another escapee. Someone else who would appreciate this situation and the evil that was the ward. Safety in numbers. Elation jolted through me, but I shook my head, forcing it away.

She could be a spy. No, screw that. I was not going to go through that again. And it was hard to be suspicious of her... she was like me, wings and all. Not that Eins was bad... but she was different. That sort of thinking was probably wrong, but these weren't thoughts or feelings I could ignore or change. Besides, the paranoia would probably drop in later to say hi, it hated to miss crashing a party.

I realized I'd been standing there like an idiot for a least ten seconds. Finally I found words.

"You escaped from the Ward. Just like me and Eins." I said, a little disbelievingly, and also a little out of breath. What were the odds? I felt my lips form a subtle half-smile against my will. Now that my eyes had adjusted to the darkness again, they were drawn once again to her wings, especially to the one that was a little off. I also noticed that she was cute. Not that I should be thinking stupid thoughts like that, at a time like this.

"Your wing isn't broken, is it?" I asked, surprised at how calm I sounded. I halfway expected to be attacked, or confronted with suspicion... same way I had acted towards Eins. But this was different. Not everyone was as paranoid as me.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins Character Portrait: Marcus Character Portrait: Marceline "Marcy" Bernard
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"Perfect." The reply brought me some measure of relief, as evidently this outfit, unlike my last wardrobe, would be satisfactory to my new master and to the job of blending into society I would have to do. I gave a slight smile beneath the concealing, oversized collar of my new jacket, glad to see that I had met with his standards at last. It was a comforting thought to know that I could, after all, earn Marcus' approval, even though most of my attempts to follow his commands were rather unsuccessful, to say the least.

But, the calm that came with this response did not last long. As Marcus took a step forward, he froze for a moment, and I could clearly hear the breath stop in his throat for a split second. A second later, it picked up again with renewed force, and he took off abruptly without so much as a word of directions. For a moment, I was conflicted. Was I supposed to follow him, or should I wait here? What was it that had startled him so much? Why hadn't he given me any orders? I couldn't be sure of the course of action that was least likely to result in my further chastisement without knowing what it was that my master wanted, but how could I do that when his thoughts were clouded by fear and excitement and he hadn't given me a word of direction? But, at that moment, an answer came to me. Orders or no orders, something had scared him. And, if something could manage to scare Marcus, then it would surely be a much graver threat to myself. Here, by my self in the dark, there was one thing I knew for sure: with or without my master's will, I did not want to be left alone.

In an instant, I took off after him, nearly tripping over several objects that might or might not have actually existed as I rushed frantically behind my master, trying to catch up to him despite his considerable speed and my own clumsiness. I was slow enough on the ground to begin with without counting my lack of experience at running and the stumbles and falls that caused, while my master was nimble and quick. It took my utmost effort to catch up to him, especially once I realized that those few people on the streets at this late hour were staring at us - staring at me - as they passed. The fear I felt at having their eyes on me was mitigated only by the reassurance provided by the knowledge that my face was hidden by my hood. Even still, I almost became so panicked as to run away and give up on following Marcus.

Despite my difficulty pursuing him, I did not cry out for him to wait, or protest being left behind. Whatever was happening, this was his will, and I would not jeopardize it by valuing my own opinions over his. Whatever it was he was doing, I had faith that he knew, and so simply followed quietly, doing my best to keep up despite the many stumbles and the occasional fall I took along the way.

And then, as suddenly as our flight had begun, it ended as Marcus abruptly stopped at the mouth of another alleyway, gazing intently in at something I couldn't initially make out until I managed to get closer, running up behind Marcus as I finally caught up. Standing before us was a being of a stature greater than my own - as most were - whose wings I noticed almost the instant I set eyes on her. By the look of things, we had found another avian-based "Angel" type mutant, which explained why Marcus had run off, at least. But, although it appeared that all Angel mutants were allies of each other - at least, Marcus treated it that way - I couldn't help but feel - perhaps Jude's sudden attack on myself had something to do with that - that I wasn't included in that alliance. Considering Marcus' reluctance to take me and the beating I had been dealt by Jude, it seemed to me that the Angels would only keep me around so long as I was useful, and even then, that I was suspect and inferior to them. As it was, I could at best be called Marcus' servant, and now that he had found another potential ally, I was quite afraid that I might no longer be worth protecting to him. If I had to reveal my ability to track other Mutants - and, by extension, the true nature of my powers - I had a feeling that I might be considered both equally useful and dangerous, which would, while preserving my safety, hardly improve my situation. Thus, I stayed nervously behind Marcus, clinging gently to his arm and peering fearfully over his shoulder as though it was the girl in the alley that I wanted to be protected from rather than my guardian's own betterment, and the subsequent abandonment I so dreaded.

"You escaped from the Ward, just like me and Eins... Your wing isn't broken, is it?" My master said. I simply waited, and watched.

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Character Portrait: "Sariya" Eins Character Portrait: Marcus Character Portrait: Marceline "Marcy" Bernard
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Marceline


As I straightened my back out, stretching in the process, I became aware of the skid of footsteps, the muted company that had joined me in my shadowed alley.

Turning on my heels, I cautiously faced my uninvited guests.

Who in turn surprised me on their own.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the alley (assisted by the shine of the moon that penetrated the entranceway of said alley) I was able to deduce faces, features that told me I wasn’t about to be randomly jumped by a Vampire.

A thin boy stood before me, with tousled black hair that framed his face nicely, and a set of dark eyes. I took the time to notice the fact that he seemed to be a cute kid, about my age, and that he wasn’t alone. Beside him another, much smaller indiscernible figure, shielded by a hood, cowered into his side, and I could only assume I had frightened the shit out of them. I mean, how often is it that you see a random girl falling out of the sky?

I’m going to go with not very often.

They definitely weren’t Vampires. Or at least I thought so. The girl was too small and frightened, and the boy was equally too streamlined to express the bulk that most Vampires sported.

"You escaped from the Ward. Just like me and Eins." The boy asked, sounding winded, but throwing everything into perspective with that one question. If he had recognized me as a Ward escapee, if he had recognized my wings, my best deduction was that both of them had wings too.

Isn’t logic amazing?

I bit down on my lip as I tried to fit more puzzle pieces together. It’d been a little over a month since me and Matthew had busted out of there. We’d had plenty of traveling experience during our lifetime of being transferred from Ward to Ward, and were aware of the fact that there were others out there like us. But since then, it seemed like our number of escapees had increased considerably. And it seemed as though many of them had been shielded from the fact that there were others out there, just like themselves.

Was the Ward purposefully letting us go? Was this just some game to see which of us would die first? Or were we really fighting our way through the scientists and Vampires towards freedom?

Arizona itself seemed to be a hotspot for Ward facilities. Soon enough I was going to stop being surprised by the mutants that seemed to pop up everywhere.

I broke out of my thoughts for a second to see the boy throwing me half a smile, kind of stuck in between awe and caution, as if he was still processing the fact that I was real.

"Your wing isn't broken, is it?" he asked, seeming to already have spotted my floppy, struggling left wing.

In an attempt to seem friendly, I responded with a lopsided, kind of sheepish smile, “Yeah I'm from the Ward. I escaped a little over a month ago.” I said slowly, “And my wing...It’s pretty much gone right about now. Can’t really move it, though it pains like hell.”

I attempted to sound casual. While I couldn’t asses the girl’s feeling, seeing as I couldn’t see her face, I had a feeling that the boy was glad with the present situation. I couldn’t blame him. What a relief it was to understand that there were others out there just like you. If I had been in his place, I would have been the same way.

This was just like a serious relationship. I had to take it slow, be careful with what I was saying. Matthew wasn’t here to help break the ice, and so it was up to me to make sure everything went smoothly between myself and our new set of mutants. The fact that the boy seemed so calm was a great assistance. It wouldn’t have helped if he had tried flogging me right there and then.

I needed to get them on my side before they decided to turn tail and leave me helpless.

“I was in the hospital,” I began explaining quickly, “Me and a few others had been attacked by Vampires. I ended up getting pretty beat up, and we ended up having to resort to the hospital. They fixed me up, but being me,” I sighed at that point, “I went out for a flight and ended up crash landing.”

I smiled again, just as sheepish as before, “And so here I am, broken up in the middle of Arizona. I’m Marceline, by the way,” I said holding out a now much cleaner hand for him to shake (this is the only point in my life where I will ever say this; thank God hospitals are sanitary).