Johann Makota

"Well, I guess I'm just awesome like that."

0 · 326 views · located in Portland

a character in “Delirium”, as played by Colors of Iris


❝ Johann Makota ❞

❝ Love isn't a necessity for life. It's what makes life worth living. ❞

The Time of Your Life
A Bug's Life

❝ Mᴏʀᴇ ᴛʜᴀɴ ᴊᴜsᴛ ᴀ ɴᴀᴍᴇ. ❞

He prefers shortening his name to Jo, because in his opinion Johann sounds way too fancy. Since "Johann" is pronounced "YO-hahn," some of his siblings have picked up the habit of affectionately calling him Yo-Yo.

❝ Dunno what possessed my parents to give me such a fancy-schmancy name. Maybe they hoped I'd turn out to be some sort of musical prodigy? Huh. Guess it's too bad, since I can't carry a tune to save my life. ❞

Makota Sibling 4


❝ Going to be eighteen in a few months…oh man, that's only a year younger than old Paul, isn't it? Gosh, I feel so ancient. ❞


❝ What, you can't tell? Well, then. Excuse me while I go mourn my masculinity. ❞

Physical Description
He's actually really short for his age, standing at an unimpressive height of 5'2". Seriously, even Caroline is taller than him, and she's the baby of the family. This shortness is probably the main reason why he looks more like a fourteen-year-old than the almost eighteen-year-old that he's supposed to be. The slim body structure and the delicate, almost effeminate facial features don't exactly help either. All in all, not very manly.

❝ Hey, I'll have you know I can be very manly when I want to be! ❞

Sure you can. Right, moving on.

As you can see from the picture above, Jo has messy blond hair that hangs all over his face in an annoying curtain. What you can't see is that he's got these big blue eyes that are positively lethal whenever he feels like using his Puppy Dog Stare. Unfortunately, Jo has somehow mistaken the effect of this stare for actual attractiveness, and is quite smug about it. No amount of ribbing from his siblings can deflate his ego.

❝ Ahahaha! Gaze upon these sinful good looks, ye mortals, and despair! ❞

❝ Bᴇʏᴏɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ᴅɪsɢᴜɪsᴇ. ❞

Although Johann is technically the third eldest sibling, the sad truth is that he's the least mature. He takes the role of "annoying younger brother" and raises it to a veritable art form, even though age-wise he's almost an adult.

❝ Pshh. Maturity is so overrated. ❞

Says you. Anyway, besides being embarrassingly immature, Jo is also irritatingly full of himself, stupidly bold, and distressingly quick to judge. To top it off, he's also an incorrigible kleptomaniac.

❝ Okay, okay, I get the point. I'm a horrible person. Sheesh, make me out to be a monster, will you? ❞

But while he does have flaws (a bit of an understatement there) Jo still has his redeeming qualities. Despite his vanity, he's exceptionally devoted to his family, and can't stand the thought of any one of them getting hurt. And while he may possess painfully small amounts of common sense, he has good instincts and a good heart (it's just that sometimes his heart is bigger than his head). The kleptomaniac tendencies, though, are a bit harder to explain. How to start? Well, he loves the thrill of stealing things, and is especially fond of shiny objects. He's always bringing back excessive amounts of shiny things as little presents for his siblings. To appease his shoulder angel, he rationalizes to himself that he'd never take something from someone if he thought they really needed it. Unless, of course, they were evil. Then he'd just say they had it coming.

❝ Shoulder angels are so annoying sometimes. They're worse than Jiminy Crickets. ❞

Thoughts About the Cure
He hates it, of course. He considers it unnatural—the ultimate crime against nature—and it disturbs him on a very fundamental level. Needless to say, Johann is really not looking forward to the day when he gets his fake scar.

❝ Okay, so maybe the Cure takes away the pain, but it also takes away the humanity. I've seen some of the Cured, and they're like robots. It's freaking creepy. If I had my way, I wouldn't ever get that stupid scar, fake or no fake. It'd feel like I'd be, I dunno, sinking to their level or something. Not cool. ❞

He's of reasonable physical fitness. Strength and speed are relatively good, and he's very agile and stealthy—a result of constantly sneaking around. He's good at thieving, too, with his sharp eyes and sticky fingers.

❝ Thieving? Your harsh words wound me. I prefer calling it 'sleight of hand.' ❞

Likes Dislikes
Adventure Apathy
Birds Bananas
Breaking the rules Boots
His siblings Cowards
Nicknames Disloyalty
Rain Overly serious people
Shiny things Seafood
The ocean The Cure

❝ Rᴇᴘʟᴀʏɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴀsᴛ ᴀɴᴅ ᴘʀᴇsᴇɴᴛ. ❞

His father's death was a blow, but his mother's death was even worse. He had loved her fiercely—loved the way she'd sit down to tell her children stories; loved her indulgent smile at his crazy half-baked antics; loved her quiet, tranquil wisdom. When she died, Jo withdrew inside himself. For nearly a year he languished in depression and grief, listlessness where there was once vibrancy. Then one day, his sister Annie confronted him. Fed up with his self-pity, she gave him a severe tongue-lashing about how his selfishness wasn't helping anyone, and that he needed to man up and get a grip.

Her harsh words shocked him out of his despondency, and he began to open his eyes to the situation. His brother, Paul, had taken upon himself the role of head of the family, and was desperately trying to keep them afloat. Alva had bravely taken upon the position of mother and was just as dedicated in trying to keep the family together. Everyone was working hard, fighting for survival, while Johann had simply wallowed in his sorrow and made no contribution whatsoever.

Jo was horrified and guilty. Determined to make amends, he adopted the habit of pilfering things, scavenging for materials and supplies that the family so sorely needed. He made an effort to brighten his disposition, and eventually became the soul of the family—cheerful, friendly, light-hearted, always ready to offer a joke to brighten someone's day. He knows, to this day, that he would never truly get over his mother's death, but at least he could live in a way that would make her proud. So he did, and he does.

❝ I was going down a bad road, but Annie was the one who saved me from myself. She's always looking out for me, you know? Sometimes it's a bit of a pain, but most of the time I'm grateful. To know that someone's got your back, no matter what happens—well, it's a pretty amazing feeling. ❞

The Deliria
Skylar | Everett Sibling 4 | ❝ Skylark? Oh, I love skylarks! You know, out of all the birds in the world, skylarks have some of the most beautiful songs? Pity they aren't native to North America, I think I'd like waking up every day to the sound of skylarks singing—huh? Wait, you said skylar, not skylark? Oh. Well, what's a skylar, then? Can you eat it? ❞

Paul | Older Brother | ❝ The guy's dedication is amazing, no question, and I really admire him for that. But he seriously needs to lighten up once in a while. That much frowning can't be very healthy. ❞

Alva | Older Sister | ❝ Oh, Al! She's great. I know she tries to act all tough and serious, but she can't fool me. I know her weakness, you see—she's an absolute sucker for all those expensive shinies I bring back from my raids. Also, my ability to bring out her immature side is proof that her sense of humor is intact. Highly relieving, of course—goodness knows the last thing we need are two Pauls. ❞

Annette | Younger Sister | ❝ Annie is, like, my other half. It's kind of funny since we look about as different as night and day, but me and her, we're both pranksters at heart. We're so close, I swear we can practically twin-speak at each other! You know, I bet we we're secretly twins, and everyone's just been hiding this from us to mess with us. ❞

Caroline | Youngest Sister | ❝ Aw, Linny. So cute, and yet half a head taller than I am. Geez, why is it that things work out this way? Hmmph. Well anyway, she's super fun to hang around with, and her stories are amazing. I don't usually like books—dunno what Giz finds so interesting about them—but for Linny I make an exception. ❞

Morgan | Younger Brother | ❝ It's kind of embarrassing, but Gizmo intimidates me. I know I'm supposed to be the older brother and whatever, but can you blame me for not feeling it when he's taller than me by nearly a foot? I mean, I do love him and everything—heaven knows he gives me a heart attack every time he lands himself in trouble—but he's not exactly the type I'd tuck into bed and read bedtime stories to. Also, Tallen scares the crap out of me. ❞

Jo's got this quirk where he refuses to call anyone by their given name, unless they're really close to him or he really respects them. He's given all of his siblings nicknames except for Paul (a sign of respect) and only calls his other brothers and sisters by their actual names when he's very serious.

So begins...

Johann Makota's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amanda Renee Makota Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Makota Character Portrait: Paul Makota Character Portrait: Alva Makota Character Portrait: Jezebel Ann Makota Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Morgan Alistair Makota ❞
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❝He liked being close to the outside. It made him feel stronger, and let him forget his fears.❞

Morgan had watched as Paul and Al had left the house, heading out into the Wilds towards Portland. Apart of him was bumed that he wasn't able to go along, but then, someone had to stay behind and watch the others. Not that he meant that Bubble Gum couldn't handle herself. But he would feel better knowing he was there in case anything happened. Yo-yo often told him he was too protective of his siblings. That always made Morgan laugh. He couldn't help it, it was just funny to hear him say that, with all his childish attitude and looks, he still couldn't believe that Yo-yo was a year older than him.

Another thing all his siblings told him was that he was crazy for making his room the one where the top of the tree had fallen in. Morgan couldn't really explain it, but it made him feel...better. He liked being close to the outside. It made him feel stronger, and let him forget his fears. His fears of failing his family, of not being able to protect them. Kitten would tell him he was crazy for thinking that way, that no one could beat him. Kitten always found a way to make him smile.

He was thankful for Tallen, who was curled up next to him, on his bare feet. The September mornings were growing cold, and fast. He had a feeling this was going to be a bad winter out here in the Wilds. He might have to move his room inside for the season, or at least his books, so they didn't get ruined. He smiled slightly. That would be a chore. His collection spanned almost four hundred now, with both banned and legal books according to LAB.

He poked at his eye patch, the scar tissue and blind eye behind it itching like crazy. It was amazing sometimes how much it itched. He normally took it off when he was alone, but had gotten engrossed in a novel by H.G. Wells that he had been in his own little world for most of the night. He stretched, and stood up, Tallen glancing at him and wagging her tail, and then racing down the tree to the ground three stories below, running off to find breakfast. His stomach growling, Morgan figured it would be best to follow suit, and wandered down stairs, after slipping his boots on. The soles of the boots clunked heavily on the hard wood floors, echoing through the dark house. He wondered if any of his other siblings were up.

"Maybe they'd like breakfast..." He muttered.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amanda Renee Makota Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Makota Character Portrait: Paul Makota Character Portrait: Alva Makota Character Portrait: Jezebel Ann Makota Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Johann Makota ❞
Situation Normal: Up To No Good

Johann woke up to a rather fine Saturday morning. The air was crisp with the lingering breath of dawn, the birds were singing sweetly, and the scuttling noises of squirrels rustled in the trees. Eyes half-lidded, Johann turned his head slowly toward the light. He peered out the window, and, within the space of four milliseconds, knew exactly what he wanted to do.

Specifically: roll over and get the hell back to sleep.

Unfortunately for him, the sun had decided to be particularly evil today and was shining its malicious rays of death—strategically aimed so that they fell straight through Johann's window and into his face. (Why oh why did he pick the east side for his bedroom, again?) Squirming in his blankets, the boy groaned and rolled over. Alas, his sleep-dazed mind miscalculated the appropriate distance, and he ended up with a face-full of hardwood floor.


Well, at least now he was awake.

Jo sighed as he picked himself off the floor. He had really wanted to sleep in today. It was Paul and Alva's turn for Portland-duty, and he had been looking forward to a magnificent day of doing whatever he wanted. And he liked sleep. Sleep gave him energy for more interesting things, like frolicking through dangerous trap-filled forests, or coming up with elaborate pranks on his grumpy older siblings.

Ah, whatever, he thought. More time for fun, I suppose. He scratched his head and smiled sleepily. At the same moment, something fell out of one of the pockets he'd clumsily sewn onto the inside of his sleeves.

Johann blinked at the object, which turned out to be a wrinkled, folded piece of paper. Huh. I wonder what this is? Bemused, he picked it up off the floor and unfolded it, smoothing out its wrinkled veins before glancing it over.



First Saturday of September

Johann's eyes lit up. That was right—he'd been planning this for a while. Ever since he'd nabbed this flyer on one of his Portland exploits, he'd been itching to go.

Sales were popular. Autumn sales moreso, especially with the "stock up for winter" mentality everyone had going. Maybe it was a subconscious thing, a sense honed from the days of old. Winter approaching, dark days coming. Prepare, stock up, hibernate. Survive. Rush, rush, rush, hurry so you can run back to your house and bar the doors before the storm comes in. It was a mindset. A useful one, too. Everyone came to autumn sales, and that meant generously stocked stores. Generously stocked stores meant crowds of eager customers. And crowds of people meant easy pilfering.

Jo's eyes glazed over as he began to daydream. Just imagine! Food, tools, medicine, books, clothes, trinkets! Everything from shoelaces to pickles to dictionaries, awaiting his dextrous hands to rescue them from the mass of dull conformity. Enough supplies to last the entire family several days, maybe even a week if he was ridiculously lucky. Oh-o, yes, it was going to be glorious, glorious pickings!

Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.

The sound of heavy footfalls disturbed his increasingly maniacal thoughts, and with a snap Jo returned to earth. Absently wiping a bit of drool from the side of his mouth, he stood up and pulled on his socks. He liked these socks—called them his "ninja socks" because they were so easy to sneak around in.

Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.

That must be Morgan, now that he thought about it. No one else wore such clunky footwear. Jo had tried getting him to wear something more sensible, maybe something with unrivaled awesome like his padded ninja socks, but noooo, Morgan had to be all boring and loud in his awkwardly, stupidly heavy boots. Psh. Well, his loss.

Like a ghost, Johann glided out his room and down the stairs. He was halfway down one flight when he observed a sight that made him inwardly cackle with glee. Morgan was a little ways in front of him, clad in his stupid boots. Tallen, the bane of Jo's existence, was nowhere in sight. In the kitchen, perhaps, or sleeping in Morgan's room. It didn't matter. She was out of the picture, which made this prime time for an early morning prank.

Johann followed Morgan like a silent shadow. A tiny, blond, smiling shadow. They reached the ground floor, and Johann quickly slid behind a stout drawer. Then Jez entered the room, bidding Morgan a good morning, and Jo's mischievous smile became a full-blown grin.

So. A double attack it was.

"BOOOOO," he screeched, springing out of his hiding place. In one quick movement, he snatched Jez's bow from her fingers—then, still yelling like a banshee, he pounced at Morgan's annoyingly tall figure and latched onto his back like a particularly determined barnacle. (So what if he woke up the entire household with that scream? If he didn't get a nice Saturday morning wake-up process, well, then they wouldn't be getting one either.)

The setting changes from the-makotas-house to Portland


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amanda Renee Makota Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Makota Character Portrait: Jezebel Ann Makota Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝Amanda Renee Makota❞
A quirky little room for a quirky little girl~

Amanda yawned. Lazily sitting up in a bed she didn't really sleep in. Only tossed and turned with keeping her eyes shut to give off the illusion of sleep. Her mind never let her rest. Also racing with questions to answer , and stories and drawing to create. It also didn't help that she was always sneaked a ton of sweets to bed with her each night. She couldn't help it. Just thinking of all the tempting sweets that were either glazed thick with honey of filled with sugar made her mouth water. Her thought were broken though by the sounds of her older brother Jo screaming like a maniac on the ground floor. It made her giggle. Jo always made her laugh. She enjoyed his crazy ways and early morning pranks. Even if they were down on her.

Amanda stretched and stepped out of her blanket. Shivering as the early morning air touched her skin but not minding it one bit. Amanda loved the winter time. She loved snow most of all but all in all cold whether made her happy. Just as much as candy did. She blinked her eyes. Her one Blue and orange-ish brown one adjusting to the early morning light as she made her way out of her room. Which was right across from her brother Morgan's room. She liked her room. Small and simple with a slanted ceiling because of the roof. It was quirky and she loved it.

Amanda slowly padded down the stairs. Mornings weren't her thing. She was a night owl at heart but Paul would never let her go out after dark. Not saying she didn't do it anyways but still. She loved to the highest tree she could find and just sit there. Watching the stars and listening to the sounds the nighttime brought. It calmed her down the most. No amount of sugar could make her hyper at that point.

She turned a corner and looked up to see Jo on Morgan's Back and waving Jez's bow around. It made her giggle again. hearing it happening was on point but seeing it was a lot more humorous to her. She placed a finger to her lips to silent herself. When her giggle fit was over she opened her pale lips to speak, "Good Morning Jo; Morgan; Jez." She said, standing in front of them, still in her night gown and hugging the wall.

The setting changes from portland to The Makota's House

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amanda Renee Makota Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Makota Character Portrait: Jezebel Ann Makota Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Morgan Alistair Makota ❞
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❝He should have expected it. Yo-yo liked to do things like this, especially to him.❞

Morgan heard Bubble Gum coming down the stairs before she spoke, and turned to greet her, seeing she had already gathered her bow. “G’morning Morgan. Where did Al and Paul get to?” He grinned at her, replying, "Morning, Bubble Gum. And you know Al and Paul. They always get up damn near the crack of dawn to head into Portland. Paul wanted to get supplies and money for the storm coming in tonight. You want to hunt together, then? I need to check the sn--" Morgan was completely cut off as Yo-yo pounced out of the shadows screeching, grabbed Bubble Gum's bow, and then latched himself onto Morgan's back. Morgan nearly vaulted forward with the extra momentum, but grabbed a hold of the table first, and then threw his head back to avoid having the end of a bow shoved up his nose, effectively whacking Yo-yo in the forehead with the back of his own.

Cursing under his breath, Morgan twisted and spun, trying to reach his older brother and having little sucess, but succeeding in landing on his stomach on the floor. "What the hell, Yo-yo?! Are you trying to kill me? Or do you just like giving me heart attacks?" He shoved his brother off of him as the blonde boy errupted into a fit of giggles. Morgan's eye patch had gone eskew, and he huridly adjusted it when he heard Amanda, his younger sister, enter and say good morning. He knew she didn't like seeing the scar, and she still blamed herself for it. Gathering himself to a sitting position, Morgan beamed at the blue-haired girl, saying, "Morning, Kitten." He noticed how tired the little girl seemed to be, and he smiled softly. "If you're going to be a night owl like me, you may as well come join in my room sometimes, Kitten. I'm sure Tallen would like it."

As if on cue, the young wolf bounded down the stairs, muzzle red with fresh blood. Morgan grinned, grabbing a towel and cleaning her face. "Hey, there's my precious girl, how was your breakfast?" The wolf's eyes shone a stunning blue, her tail wagging madly. Inwardly, Morgan sighed. The morning had just started, and already he needed a smoke.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amanda Renee Makota Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Makota Character Portrait: Jezebel Ann Makota Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Johann Makota ❞
Undisputed Master of Manly Giggling

Bam! went Morgan's head against Johann's face.

Pretty stars! was Jo's first thought. Gizmo has a pretty darn thick noggin was his next. And maybe the boy had hit his head too hard, because for some reason that particular thought seemed extremely funny to him.

"Thick head," Johann said, before promptly bursting into helpless giggles. Yes, the seventeen year old boy was giggling. Shut up. They were very manly giggles.

The moments following Jo's impromptu ambush were nothing but beautifully chaotic, gorgeous pandemonium. Morgan, spitting profanities and flailing around like a wannabe contortionist. Johann, clinging to his younger brother like a demented, giggling koala. Jezebel, none too happy with the brutal abduction of her bow. And last but not least, little Amanda, who had just arrived on the scene and was smiling and bidding them all good morning as if this strange episode was the most normal thing in the world.

The mad struggle finally reached a conclusion when Morgan managed to free himself from Jo's Hug of Death™. Johann didn't mind that it ended; the way he saw it, Operation Annoy Your Siblings was a resounding success. The boy was currently laughing himself silly on the floor and completely disregarding his younger brother's annoyed one-eyed glare.

"What the hell, Yo-yo?! Are you trying to kill me? Or do you just like giving me heart attacks?"

"Someone's gotta keep you on your toes, Giz," Johann said between (manly) giggles. "Besides"—he waggled a patronizing finger—"you should be thankful I was going easy on you. Next time I'll be sure to bring scissors!" The boy sniggered at the mental image of a frantic Morgan fending off attacks on his hair. "Oh, I can see it now!" He made a rectangular frame with his index fingers and thumbs, and scrunched his face up in mock concentration. "Johann Makota, Vanquisher of Unmanageable Hair, Hero of the Makota Family. Oh, man—Al and Paul would totally worship me!"

He allowed himself a brief moment to strike various dramatic poses. Then, sensing Jezebel's increasing ire, he quickly straightened back up. "Sorry, Mingo, got a bit carried away there." He held up the bow, gave it a gentle blow, and made a big show of brushing off imaginary dust. Then he handed it back to his sister with a cheery, "See, good as new!"

Jo was still grinning when he heard the soft tap-tap-tap of padded feet down the stairs. Curious, he glanced over at the staircase. Hmm, now who could that be? Paul and Alva were already off at Portland, according to Morgan. The rest of the family was here, in this room. But...that was everyone, wasn't it? Because the only other one he could think of was…

Johann's smile froze on his face as realization struck.

Doomed. He was so doomed. Because finally, the harbinger of the apocalypse had arrived. And she—no, it—was horrible. Monstrous. Indeed, the creature's very appearance seemed to rend the atmosphere into gory shreds. The coat that was shiny with death; the fangs, honed to deadly sharpness; the gaping maw, stained bright with the blood of innocents. Like a ghastly specter of destruction, it swooped down upon them, eyes ablaze with malice, face twisted in a snarling grimace, claws extended in a gesture of absolute savagery—

"Hey, there's my precious girl, how was your breakfast?"

Oh, Morgan. His poor, insane younger brother.

"That," Johann said, pointing with an emphatic finger, "is not a girl. That is a demon in canine form. Don't you see, Gizmo? You're fraternizing with an evil spirit!"

Morgan simply cooed at Tallen, a sappy expression on his face. Jo felt a shudder ripple up his spine. He never even knew it was physically possible for Morgan to coo. Morgan was tall and scary. He wasn't supposed to make gooey faces at a freaking wolf. It was demonic possession. That was the only plausible explanation.

"Don't worry, brother, I'll save you," he said seriously. "Well, after I get breakfast, of course. C'mon, Jellyfish, let's make ourselves some food. We'll leave the brutal murder of small woodland creatures to these three, hmm?"

Without waiting for an answer, he gave his adorable youngest sister a quick good morning hug before bounding off to the kitchen.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Makota Character Portrait: Johann Makota Character Portrait: Annette Makota

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❝ AN N E T T E - M A K O T A❞
"It made her happy, and for now, that was all she wanted. To be happy, and to be with her family, and to be happy with her family."

Of course, Annette was one of the last to force herself out of slumber and the warmth of thick blankets and quilts. She curled up into a ball, pulled the blankets over her head, and closed her eyes, trying to ignore the shouts of her siblings downstairs and control the slippery grasp she had on what little rest she had left. She had stayed up too late again, staring out into the night sky and daydreaming. She couldn't forget the memories. The first few nights after her mother’s death, nightmares had taken control of her sleep, until Annette was terrified of closing her eyes. Her mother would be asking her why she let her parents die, of the bleak future that would surely come - all because of Annette’s carelessness. She could have saved her parents. She could have kept her father from leaving, getting caught in the electrical fences of Portland. She could have made her mother happy, by being a good child. Instead, Annette had continued to play pranks, tease the others, and get into so much trouble that her mother would look at her with disappointment sometimes. Or at least, that’s what Annette dreamed.

Years had passed since the tragedy, and Annette had no doubt in her mind that the nightmares were gone. Despite this, she chose to fight the already-gone nightmares by staying up late. She remembered everything. She replayed memories over and over, sometimes repeating the same one for hours. She just couldn’t get enough of the happiness that she found in the past. She tried to remember as accurately as possible, but time had a way of changing your perspective, emphasizing what you wanted and diminishing the truth. Annette didn’t mind. It made her happy, and for now, that was all she wanted. To be happy, and to be with her family, and to be happy with her family.

The ominous nature of the night, however, made Annette excited, sometimes. What excitement could she find the next morning? Her and Jo would find something, Annette was sure. Oh, the fun they could have! With new energy, she burst out of bed in a flurry, stretching to get the sleepiness of of her. Maybe they could go climb trees today. Or somehow convince Morgan to play with them. She bounced down the stairs, literally, and began to hum the tune in her head. “Bum de bum bum,” she murmured, wanting to dance but afraid to fall and hurt herself. Not today! She was going to have the best day of her life, she was sure. Today, nothing could go wrong. It was what she told herself everyday. Call it superstition or a ritual, Annette couldn’t shake the habit of proclaiming the hopes of the current day.


It was getting dark. Annette peered out the window curiously. The clouds were more ominous than usual, the darkness a little more terrifying. She shivered in nervous anticipation. There may be a storm tonight, she realized with fear. What if there was thunder? Without realizing it, Annette let out a whimper, her shoulders beginning to shake delicately. There was something about the roar of thunder that terrified her; it drove her to tears, to dive underneath a table and weep silently, waiting for the deafening sound to go away. It had something to do with the time she was a child, when she left the house during a storm on accident and found herself in the middle of a thunderstorm. She had barely escaped being struck by lightning, and her parents brought her and covered her with blankets. Her hair was matted to her forehead, wet as it was, and she couldn't forget the helplessness of being surrounded by thunder. She didn't understand thunder; how could she? She wished she was as intelligent as her siblings, but she wasn't. Instead, she was crippled by this babyish fear, from her babyish past, in her babyish self. Annette whimpered once more and wrapped a blanket tighter around her body. What had her mother always told her to do, again? Oh, yes. Find a distraction. A distraction? Like what?

Or like who?

A smile lightened up her face then, and she flung the blanket off of her and began leaping down the stairs. "Jo!" she called out, running around the house. "Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo," she said, matching the rhythm of her cries to the rhythm of her footsetps. "Where aaaare you?"

The setting changes from the-makotas-house to Portland


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota Character Portrait: Annette Makota

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❝ Johann Makota ❞
Even Kleptomaniacs Have Standards


Johann was in a state of awe. He'd been expecting a good haul, yes, but not like this. This—oh man, this—was pure art. A masterpiece. Johann Makota had truly outdone himself this time.

"I am so awesome," he said to himself, in a spectacular display of modesty.

He could hardly wait to inspect his findings, but managed to controlled himself for now. No sense in displaying stolen goods while still in town, after all. Even so, the wait was agonizing. The mere thought of what lay in his little knapsack made him want to wriggle with joy.

A scarf, a knitted winter hat, preserved fruit, a jar of pickles, cough medicine, a spiral-bound notebook, a locket, a fancy hair comb, a small stuffed rabbit, a camera…

Grinning in exhilaration, the boy fearlessly scaled the deadened electrical fence that supposedly kept Invalids like him out of Portland. He landed lightly on his feet, and then spared a few seconds to turn and stick his tongue out at the grim-looking barrier. Ha. Take that, fence. So much for government security.

After giving the sympathizer in the guard tower a jaunty wave of thanks—not that the man could see it, as it was pretty dark outside—Johann hefted his well-worn shoulder pack and took off into the moonlit woods, following the proverbial trail of breadcrumbs back to his home. The smudges of blue paint were really hard to see in the dimming light, but Johann barely paid them any mind. The forest path, tortuous as it was, was as familiar to him as the back of his hand. He grinned to himself at the thought. Well, I guess that's what you get when you sneak out to Portland about five times a week.

It was well into the evening when he arrived at the Makota house. The old, half-uprooted tree towered into view, its gnarled roots extended in a gesture of welcome. All around the house stood groves of murmuring trees, their crimson-tinged leaves fluttering like shadowy butterflies in the chill wind. Symphonies of hidden crickets sang in the tall grass, and somewhere in the velvet darkness an owl was crooning.

Johann felt something in him swell with joy. This place—this wild, vibrant, beautiful place—was his world. His home. And he wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

With a new bounce to his step, Jo bounded forward and scrambled up the huge tree. Passing quietly over Morgan's wreck of a room, he made a face (Geez, why Gizmo chose that room I'll never know
) before continuing over to the east side of the house. Right, now this was the hard part. Jo's blue eyes narrowed in concentration. With a heave of his arms, he swung himself over and barely managed to catch himself on the wooden edge of the windowsill. His limbs scrambled awkwardly for a moment before he managed to half-climb, half-wiggle his way through the window of his bedroom.

And…safe! he thought as he tumbled in. Fortunately, he didn't make much noise getting in, so his siblings probably didn't hear his super-awesome super-stealthy entrance. Unfortunately, he ended up breaking his fall from the window with his elbow. Which really hurt, darn it. There were going to be bruises in the morning.

After a bit of grumbling to himself, Jo eased the pack off his shoulder and onto the hardwood floor. He then proceeded to waste five minutes just staring at the glorious sight. It wasn't until a creeping line of drool trickled out from his mouth that he snapped himself out of his dreamy stupor. Playtime was over. Time for inventory!

Let's see… he thought, emptying the bag onto the floor. The notebook is definitely for Linny. Hmm…I wonder if Annie'd like the bunny? ...Nah, probably not. I mean, she kills those things on a weekly basis. He spied the camera and a grin split his face. Oh, the camera! Gizmo's gonna be over the moon. I think I'll give it to him…—he picked up the hair comb and spun it around a finger—…along with this fancy comb. The boy snickered at the thought, and then set aside the items for later. Alrighty, then, what else? I'm sure ole Paul would appreciate them vittles. That medicine, too. As for Al… Jo pinched the chain of the little bronze locket between his fingers and held it up towards the window. The soft sheen of moonlight rolled off the locket's shell. Beautiful, it was beautiful. Starry-eyed with admiration, the boy was struck with the sudden desire to dance a jig and sing Hallelujah. Oh, he'd never lose his love for shiny things. Never ever ever. This baby's gonna be a present for Al. Honestly, she's the only one around here who appreciates true beauty…though I wonder, does this thing open?

He was filled with a sudden curiosity. What did the interior of this adorable little locket look like? Was it empty? Or did it hold something? A mirror, perhaps? Or an engraving? His fingers found the tiny latch on the side of the locket, and with a gentle tug the bronze wings of the locket unfolded. What he saw made him feel like someone had punched him squarely in the gut.

It was a picture. A pretty little picture of a woman, with a gaze so warm it could melt icebergs. Off to the side was one tiny word.


Mom. Something inside Johann died a little. This was someone's mother. He had taken away someone's mother. No one deserved that, not even Portland zombies.

He had to give it back.

"Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo! Where aaaare you?" The sound of Annette's cheerful call drifted through the house, accompanied by a soft beat of light footsteps. His heart lifted a little at the sound of his sister's voice. For a brief moment, he considered asking her to come with him back to Portland. Annie never failed to chase bad thoughts away, and the two of them could treat the journey like an adventure.

No, I'm being selfish, he realized. Gizmo said there was going to be a storm tonight—what am I thinking, trying to bring Annie into this? His little sister was terrified of thunder. Taking her out in his weather would be beyond unfair to her. And besides, wasn't this whole thing supposed to be secret anyway? That was the reason why he went through all the trouble of sneaking into the house instead of just using the front door. He wanted it to be a surprise for his family. There was no way he was going to put all that effort to waste by blabbing to his siblings.

Well, then. If he couldn't tell anyone, then he'd simply have to suck it up and fix this himself.

The staccato of pounding feet grew louder. He didn't have much time; Annie could be bursting into his room any minute now. In a fit of mild panic, Jo sprang up and shoved the items under his bed, keeping only the locket. After a quick rummaging through his rickety closet, he seized his raincoat and changed into a pair of sleek black rain boots. (He didn't like the boots, but desperate times called for desperate measures.) Satisfied, he sidled out the window, making sure to close it behind him. Wouldn't want the rain to come in and mess up all his stuff.

As he bounded down the trees and back through the woods, Johann felt a bit guilty about leaving Annie behind. On most stormy days, he made sure to be with her every single second, distracting her with wild pranks and crazy antics. Laughter was best at chasing away fear and pain, after all. But now, he had something important to do. He couldn't stay behind.

"Sorry, Annie," he said to the gloomy sky. "But you understand, right? No one should ever be without their mom."

Fingers tightening around the bronze locket, he raced back to Portland.

- STOP-N-SAVE - 8:48 PM -

Here in the Land of Portland where shadows lie, people lived in constant fear of the Big Bad Regulators. They were abominations, evil wraiths that haunted the streets, corrupt tyrants that ruled the town with an iron fist—Invalids everywhere trembled in fear at their stunning efficiency and ruthlessness, and fell to their knees in despair—

Pfft. As if.

Johann swept through the town with ease. The rain was good for stealth, and avoiding the regulators was child's play. In the shopping district he passed by a noisy patrol, and wanted to laugh. These so-called regulators were ponderous things, wreathed in the crackle of transmitters and the shuffle of thick boots. Honestly, they were as graceful as hippos in high heels. He thumbed his nose at them before moving on.

It wasn't long before he reached his destination. Jo crept up to the building he remembered taking the locket from—some dinky store called Stop-N-Save—and slid over to the entrance. The door was unlocked when he tried the handle, which made his eyebrows shoot up in surprise. Huh. And here he was, all prepared to pick the lock, too. Bad security, much? Well, Jo wasn't one to complain, especially if it made his job easier.

The clunking of heavy footwear alerted him to an approaching patrol. With a quick snap of his wrist, Jo opened the door and darted inside, not bothering to lock it behind him. All he was going to do was deposit the locket on the counter and leave, so there really was no reason for him to secure the door.

The glow of flashlights filtered through the windows like pale specters. Jo blinked and glanced behind him. Oh, this wouldn't do—the light could very well expose him. Thinking quickly, the boy ducked behind the counter. He'd wait them out, and once they were gone he'd place the locket on the counter and leave. Simple, right? This kind of thing shouldn't be complicated at all.

Apparently, fate liked proving him wrong. Because the moment he turned around, he found himself face to face with a small, unmistakably human-shaped lump. Amid the shine of regulator flashlights, Johann could just barely make out a face.

He stared.

...Well, this was awkward.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Theodin Jaynar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota Character Portrait: Annette Makota

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❝ AN N E T T E ------ M A K O T A ❞
"It was either safety, or Jo. To be worried, or to be terrified."

Her footsteps echoed, the melancholy melody that accompanied each step, each “Jo” she cried. Annette began to hum, a ditty that her mother had sung to her when she was but a babe. “Sleep, sleep, sleep will come,” she sang softly, “When the day is done, when the night is here, sleep waits for you on the shore.” She paused then, in the middle of the hallway that would lead to Jo’s room. He was supposed to be joining her song, his voice blending with hers. When the two were children, when the two were still grieving, she would sing him to sleep; regardless of his being her older brother, he was still the one sibling Annette sheltered and comforted most. She began to smile, when the smile suddenly dropped from her lips. He wasn’t singing back to her. Her eyebrows wound themselves together as she began to pick up her pace, quickly escalating into a sprint. She burst into Jo’s room with a slam of the door, eyes wide and heart pounding furiously. She realized suddenly that this must be how rabbits must feel the second before she caught them. The thought came unprecedented and surprising, but never before had she felt so panicked. Poor rabbits. They were only trying to live, and she was only trying to find her brother to play with. But he wasn’t there. Annette pounded her forehead with a first, angry at herself for forgetting. Hadn’t he been talking about a sale? Wasn’t it in early September? Today must be the day. Oh, how had she forgotten? She could even recall offering to go with him. Why hadn’t he brought it up before?

She began to search Jo’s room, disregarding the potential of his irritation at her. She was only looking for traces of her brother, little hints that would add up to a bigger picture. Why hadn’t he asked her to go with him? She would have. Annette grunted, a strange manly sound that felt completely wrong in her throat, as she got down to the floor. Aha! She dragged out the items underneath Jo’s bed. How typical of him, to choose the simplest hiding place for his treasures. She went through them quickly, realizing he must have been here today after he had finished with his sale. So why had he gone back? Annette felt as if she was on the brink of solving a mystery, though it wasn’t much of a mystery. Moments after she asked herself these probing questions, she had her answer: he had wanted to surprise them, but went back to get more things. Perhaps he had forgotten a sibling. Perhaps he had dropped something on the way back home. Either way, he was going back to Portland, and she couldn’t believe that he was. It was dangerous!

Okay, perhaps it was a little less dangerous than what the two had done before. But still! How could he have left her? She wanted some adventure too! She had done nothing this whole day. So much for the best day of her life. No no no, that was terrible thinking, Annette. How could you think such a thing?! There is still so much adventure left for today, all the potential! This happened, didn’t it? With newfound hope and determination, Annette got to her feet and placed two fists on her hips. She was going out after her older brother and saving him from cured zombies! This was the perfect adventure. She started making her way to the window, when she remembered the weather. Annette froze immediately. There was bound to be thunder tonight. Trembling, she ran back to her room and flung her body onto the bed.

It was either safety, or Jo. To be worried, or to be terrified. Annette squeezed her eyes shut and nearly burst into tears. She didn’t want to go out! But Jo was out there, and no one knew where he had gone but her! And the storm was going to be bad; she wasn’t a ‘weather expert,’ and she didn’t have all the technology Portland did, but even she could tell. She had no choice, she realized. Besides, what did she have to be afraid of?! She was Annette Makota! She had survived living without her parents, she had survived being an Invalid, and she had survived being five foot, the shortest in her whole family! She could surely rescue Jo. Besides, think of what he would give her in gratitude for saving his life. Annette giggled and jumped out of bed. Okay, might as well get it over with while she was a little excited about it. She tiptoed to Jo’s room, searching for traces of Morgan (who would definitely pick her up over his shoulder and lock her up in a cereal box), and climbed out the window.

Oh, Lordie, she had never done this before. Annette peered out the window and looked down at the ground. It looked so far away... No! She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. She was going to do this! She could do this! She opened her eyes, slowly, and took a deep breath. Okay, how was she going to do this? Tentatively, she began to lean all the way over, surveying the surroundings. Oh, this was not going to work. She bit her lip and took another deep breath, counting silently. Okay, she was going to do it.

She stood on the windowsill, and tried very hard not to look down. Instead, she focused on the tree that stood what looked like a few miles away. Or perhaps she was just afraid. Annette sighed and silently promised to kill Jo once she saved his life, and leaped. She closed one eye, afraid to close both but afraid to keep both open. Just barely, her fingers grabbed hold of one of the tree’s thicker branches: a sure sign of good luck. She nearly slipped a few times, but eventually, she was on the trunk of the tree, holding on for her life, staying there for a few moments with closed eyes and heavy breathing. She never wanted to do that ever again. Once she was calm, once she realized she had no time to waste, she scrambled down. This part, she could do. She peered into Morgan’s room curiously, and shook her head at the clutter. Oh, Morgan. Oh, little brother. Oh, six foot tall brother. She was finally on the ground.

She raced towards Portland, where the sale was supposed to be held. She ran with all her might and strength, trying to ignore the rain that was beginning to fall, blinding her vision, making her slide precariously, and reminding her of the fact that she was running after the boy she loved and the force of nature she feared above all.


Portland: the land of the civilized savages.

Annette clapped her hands at the cleverness of her new slogan for the city. Oh, bad idea. The Regulators might here! She was hidden behind a bush, a silly hiding place but the only one she could find when the heard footsteps. She could be found any second. Annette crossed her fingers and began to tremble, her body soon shaking with great wracks of fear. Oh please please please Jo Morgan Paul Alva find me find me find me, she began to repeat in her thoughts, praying to the only people she loved. She had gone through great trouble to get past the fence, nearly killing herself with all of her clumsiness, but she had made it; why did things only continue to get harder? The rain was pouring harder now, the freezing temperature beginning to numb her body. Oh, if only her mind began to numb, too.

The first chance she got, she moved from her hiding place and began to run. Oh, she had no idea where she was running to, but she was running. Her eyes were nearly closed, trying to protect themselves from the drops of poisoned water (okay, you can’t qualm Annette’s adventurous make believe situations, even when she’s actually in danger). She couldn’t see where she was going; all she could do was pray that she didn’t run into someone.

But of course, she did. She gasped loudly when she felt the impact of another hard body against hers, and Annette covered her eyes with her hands. It was what her body instinctively did, as foolish as she must look. But she didn’t want to face the cruelty that would surely await her. Oh please, don’t make me a civilized savage. Jo, oh, I hate you I hate you! she thought. She didn’t realize she was saying this out loud, her voice full of tears and shaking and the fear that she couldn’t shake off.

It was then that the thunder began to roar. Of course. Perfect timing. Annette burst into tears.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Theodin Jaynar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota Character Portrait: Finnigan Everett

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❝ Sᴋʏʟᴀʀ Eʟɪᴀs Eᴠᴇʀᴇᴛᴛ ❞
❝ Wʜᴇɴ ʏᴏᴜ ғɪɴᴅ ʏᴏᴜʀ ғᴀᴄᴇ ᴀɴ ɪɴᴄʜ ᴀᴡᴀʏ ғʀᴏᴍ sᴏᴍᴇʙᴏᴅʏ ᴇʟsᴇ's, ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ's ᴏɴʟʏ ᴏɴᴇ ᴛʜɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ᴅᴏ; ᴛʜʀᴏᴡ ᴄᴀɴs, ᴀɴᴅ ᴀɴʏᴛʜɪɴɢ ᴇʟsᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ғɪɴᴅ, ʙᴇғᴏʀᴇ ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴍᴀɴᴀɢᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴛᴜʀɴ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅ ᴜᴘsɪᴅᴇ ᴅᴏᴡɴ. ❞

ImageSkylar stayed curled up under the counter, forcing herself to keep her eyes shut as she tried to stay calm. They're just passing by, and I have fifteen minutes till curfew, so it would be fine if I got caught, she thought reassuringly, even though there was this little nagging voice telling her otherwise. It'll all be fine. Even though she should've been worrying about worse things, she briefly thought of how glad she was that she had black hair, and such a small figure, which was perfect for hiding in the dark. If only she didn't look practically as pale as a ghost.

Of course, at the worst time possible, the world decided to turn against her. In one single second, she heard the door open and closed, and swift footsteps afterwards. At that moment, she swore that she had a vision of what was going to happen to her next. A regulator was going to grab her by the wrist, and ask her why she was out after curfew. Then, they were all going to think she had probably been planning to go and meet an uncured boy, and they'd drag her back home, only to schedule the cure the next day for her. That would mean no more painting, no more seeing her siblings everyday, and definitely no exploring!

Why hadn't she just stayed at home, read a nice book, and gotten a piggy back from Theo? Maybe it was a good thing that she had come, but anyone else would've definitely told her otherwise, since the person only an inch away from her face was most likely going to flip her world upside down. Gravity would let go of her, and she'd fall endlessly into the sky, never to return to the calming ocean of blankets on a nice, warm bed. She would be left wondering 'am I right side up or upside down?'

Feeling breath on her face, she hesitantly opened her eyes, wishing the person in front of her would be none other than Theo, or maybe Fishi. In the last quick passing of light from the regulator's flashlights though, she managed to make out messy blonde hair, and a pair of blue eyes staring right back at her. An unfamiliar face, seemingly just as surprised as she was.

If she wasn't in such a rush, she would've passed out right there from panic, and the fact that she had never been this close to a boy that wasn't related to her once in her life.

"W-Who...?" she started to whisper, since it was obvious that the regulators had finally passed by. She never finished her sentence, and instead just stared at him for a while before her eyes flashed to his left ear, just longing to see that three pointed star—the mark of the cure. If he was a cured, then she wouldn't get in trouble if she was found anywhere near him. It was her last hope to not getting in trouble, but then again, if he was a cured, he'd definitely blow her cover.
Her eyes met nothing but bare skin though, which seemed even more like a mark than the scar was in the world surrounding her—the mark of an uncured.

He must've just been a boy from town desperately needing milk, or something of the sort. Pop Tarts, maybe? She was lying to herself at this point, just trying to keep calm. He was probably a burglar, or a diseased uncured needing a place to hide in an attempt to go see the cause of his deliria. Panic replaced her sense of calmness, and she abruptly scrambled out from under the counter, trying to get to her feet but tripping a few times. Oh, damn her clumsiness right now.

"Whoever you are, get out of here!" she screeched, trying to sound strong and intimidating. Only did she end up sounding (and looking like) a frightened animal, scared of being shot or something. She reached out with shaking hands and grabbed a hold of one of the shelfs to pull herself up, before grabbing random boxes and cans and flinging them at the unknown boy. If she was making a racket, all she could do was hope that the regulators were too far away to hear.

The world was now focusing on this little, probably unimportant store in her mind. The Regulators, the cure, the Invalids, they all didn't mean anything right now. All Skylar wanted to do was to find her locket and camera, and then get the hell out of here.

There was one important question though, which she'd have to figure out before she could leave—where the hell were they? And despite her frightened actions, another question was prodding her brain, nagging at her to ask the blonde haired boy one thing; who are you?

When the supplies on the shelf that could be thrown, and wouldn't hurt the boy that much (yes, she was still a softy, even when this boy probably would threaten her life if she was found) was out, she froze as she was reaching to grab something else from a different shelf. Her eyes became locked on the bare counter, her mind and instincts completely betraying her as she blankly stared straight ahead.

Tears stung at the corners of her eyes, and she left herself fall back down into a sitting position against the shelf. Her locket and camera weren't there. She had sworn they would've been, and if they weren't there, that could mean only one thing...

Uncle William had found them.

"No, no," she mumbled, putting her hands on her head and burying her face in her knees. If her shoulders weren't starting to violently shake, and if there weren't tears now rolling down her hidden cheeks, the way she looked almost could've been funny, since she almost looked like a curled up ball. "I had put it right there! On the counter!"

The boy was probably staring at her like a freak now, but she didn't care. She didn't even care that there was a boy here now. Anyone would say she could buy a new camera and locket, and even though she could buy a new camera (even though it would be a pain), there was one little problem. The last picture of her mother that she owned had been in that very locket, folded up and tucked away to be kept forever. It was the only way for her to remember the face of her mother, who had died so long ago.

She had thought about it many times, how sad it was that when someone leaves you or dies, the picture of them in your mind starts to slowly get fuzzy, and then blurry. The colors start to blend together, and it makes you feel like your drowning. It's like teardrops on a photograph, smudging the colors and details around, making it so nothing can be made out from it. And then it keeps getting worse, and worse, and worse, until the only thing you can remember about them is all the memories. Time will never cease to be cruel though, and seems to pull that away from your fingertips soon enough.

All will be left is a photograph with mixed up colors, and scattered memories dancing on the tip of your tongue.

When it had started happening to her though, she got frightened, and scared. Her mother had already left her once, and she didn't want her to leave again. So, to make sure it would never happen to her, she tucked the last picture she had of her, which she had hid from everyone else, in a little bronze locket. With the promise of the words 'Mom', she had then clung onto that little locket like how she clung to her siblings, and the morning sunrise.

She had depended upon it, until now. Now, all that was left behind was faint memories, and spoken words from the past, along with some random blonde boy in front of her, who, little did she know, had the very thing she was sobbing about tucked away along with him.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Theodin Jaynar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota Character Portrait: Annette Makota

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❝ Theodin Jaynar Everett ❞
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❝Great, she was crying. In the middle of a thunderstorm. And he still hadn't found Skylar. This night just kept getting better and better....❞

Theodin was standing there, just looking around, when suddenly, he tumbled forward. Well, it was more like he was pushed forward. Theodin launched his hands out and rolled as he fell, springing to his feet and spinning around, crouching and glaring at his assailant. Was it a Regulator, had he been caught?

"Oh please, don’t make me a civilized savage. Jo, oh, I hate you I hate you!"

Theodin stood up, completely confused, and said, "Look, uh...I'm, I'm not whoever this Jo person is--" Lightning flashed and was then followed by thunder, at which point the girl burst into tears. Theodin just stared at her for a second, and then the rain began to calm a bit. While he was sure it would pick back up, for now, her sobbing was loud enough that he was afraid the Regulators might hear her and catch them. Frantically, not knowing what else to do, he knelt next to her. "Hey, come on, be quiet!" He whispered at her urgently. "Please, the Regulators are going to hear you! What the hell are you crying about anyway!" He wasn't making any progress, that he could tell. It was then that he saw -and heard- a Regulator. Theodin didn't have any choice. He needed to run. But a part of him couldn't just leave this sobbing girl, as pathetic as she seemed, here for the regulators as bait. He sighed, annoyed. He normally wouldn't have any problem leaving someone at the mercy of the Regulators. They probably deserved it. But then the voice in his head whispered, What if it was Skylar? Gritting his teeth, he glanced around, seeing that they were only about a hundred yards away from what appeared to be an old, abandoned store.

Not bothering to even ask what she thought, or wondering any longer about who she was or what she was doing, Theodin grabbed her by the arm, hauled her to her feet, and then ran, pulling her along with him, and dove into the safety of the building. He pushed the sobbing girl over into the corner, covering her mouth with his hand to try and keep her quiet.

It was then that a can nearly hit his head, colliding with the wall, and bouncing away from him. After being momentarily startled, Theodin growled. What on earth could it be now?! What else could possibly happen to him? Why did Sky have to choose tonight of all nights to run off?

"How about you take your hands off my sister!"

Wait...who was that? Theodin stood up, the sobbing girl all but forgotten. "Who's there!" Theodin didn't move from his position, his eyes scanning the store, which was obviously not empty as he had thought it had been. When his eyes finally landed on the boy who had thrown something at him, his red eyes widened. "You!"


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Morgan Alistair Makota Character Portrait: Theodin Jaynar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota Character Portrait: Annette Makota Character Portrait: Caroline Louise Makota

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❝ Morgan Alistair Makota ❞
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❝Paul and Alva were going to kill him. How had Yo-yo and Annie snuck past him?!❞

It probably was to be expected. Morgan always zoned when he was engrossed in a book. Not even Tallen barking got him to move, because he didn't hear it. The wolf was whining and barking like crazy, spinning in circles in front of Morgan and everything, and yet the boy did not move, save to turn the page of his book every so often. His green eye whirled back and forth as the words leaped off the page and seeped into his brain. The crashing thunder didn't even get through to him. Finally, the wolf lost her patience, and bit Morgan on the arm. The boy yelled out, surprised, and gazed at his wolf, rubbing his arm where she'd grabbed hold. "Tallen, what the...what's wrong girl? Did you have to bite me?" The wolf pranced and spun, jumping about the room. It was then that Morgan finally noticed. He was alone. Throwing the book down, Morgan raced up the stairs, checking every single room as he went. No one was home, save for Kitten. "Kitten! Have you seen any of the others lately? Paul, Al, Annie, Yo-yo...?" His only younger sibling shook her head, and Morgan growled. How had Annie and Yo-yo gotten past him? He sighed, and looked down at Tallen. "Tallen, watch over Kitten, okay? I'm going to go find Annie and Yo-yo. Paul and Al will kill me if I let anything happen to them!" He bolted from her room, grabbing his boots on the way out the door, and then had a thought. No, it was too late now, he needed to find Annie and Yo-yo. Stepping into his shoes, and took off running into the Wilds, heading to Portland. From the mess in Yo-yo's room, that was the only place they could be.

Sliding through Portland; 8:50 P.M.

Morgan ducked underneath someone's porch, smacking his head against the floorboard, silently cursing himself for being so tall. He waited until the Regulators passed, and then he slid out. With the rain pounding down around him, he was covered in mud from head to toe. Where were they? If only he'd seen where they had gone...

Morgan stood still, closing his eye and thinking. There had to be somewhere Yo-yo would go...he was always the leader of his little exploits with Annie. Thunder crashed above him. Yo-yo...if you don't take care of Annie, I swear I will pummel you into the ground, older brother or no! Annie hated thunder, she was deathly afraid of it. Cursing under his breath, Morgan ran forward, heading towards the downtown area. He had to be in the shopping district. A Kleptomaniac like Yo-yo was, there was no other explanation.

He was running down the middle of the street, not even caring if Regulators saw him, when a flash of lightning revealed what looked like two people in front of him. He slid to a halt, diving off to his right, landing in what appeared to be a run-down closed store, one that had not been used for some time. It was still stocked with what appeared to be canned goods. He slid down the wall, peering out at the two people in the street. Who were they? With a start, he realized that they were headed into the building. This building. Morgan whirled around, ducking behind a shelf of what looked like canned green beans and Pop Tarts. What an odd combination.
He watched the pair for a minuet, realizing that they were kids, just like him. One male, one female, and the female was sobbing. Which sounded oddly familiar...


Nothing but anger surged through Morgan as he emerged from behind the shelf, grabbed the first thing he could reach, which was a can of creamed corn, and hurled it at the guys' head.

"Why don't you get your hands off my sister!" He yelled, and the boy spun around, looking around for his attacker. With another flash of lightning, both Morgan and the other boy recognized each other at the same time. Morgan grit his teeth. "What the hell are you doing with my sister? Where's Johann?" He yelled at the Portland boy.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Johann Makota ❞
Advocate Of Boycotting Hazardous Foodstuffs

"W-Who…?" the lump whispered.

Johann blinked at the lump. It speaks! he thought.

Of course it speaks, you moron, said a snide voice in his head. I thought we already established that it was a human?

Oh, yes, that was right. Slowly, Johann tilted his head to the side and squinted at the lump. A pair of startled green eyes stared back at him. A pair of very human green eyes.

Hmm. Now why would there be a person hiding out here in a closed store? In all of his previous experience in sneaking off to Portland, this had never happened before. Was this a new security measure or something? Was that why the door was unlocked? Did they suddenly start hiring tiny people to stake out the stores, hide underneath countertops and give trespassers heart attacks? Geez, he knew Portlanders were a backwards bunch but this was really pushing it…

The lump/human suddenly jolted upwards, taking Jo by surprise and knocking him against the sides of the counter. Right on his elbows. Oh, heck. Seriously, at this rate his bruises were going to have bruises. Fate just loved him today, didn't she?

"Whoever you are, get out of here!" the lump cried shrilly in a high, frantic, feminine voice. Jo winced. Okay. So not only was it a crazy guard-dog-alarm-person-Portland-zombie-thing, it was a crazy girl guard-dog-alarm-person-Portland-zombie-thing.

This was a dangerous creature to face, indeed.

No, I refuse to be vanquished! Jo thought to himself as he straightened from underneath the counter. His hands balled into fists; his eyes blazed with a fiery determination. Fear not, little locket, I shan't succumb to petty fears! No matter what it takes, I, Johann Makota, will—

A can of soda hit him in the face.

"Mother of G—"

Like a homing missile, a box of Frosted Flakes rocketed into his stomach. Johann glared at the visage of the stupidly grinning tiger and inwardly swore to boycott all Kellogg cereals.

"Look, girl-zombie," he said placatingly, trying to be a reasonable human being for once and actually negotiate instead of just flinging stuff back at his attacker. "I think you've got the wrong ide—"

Bam. Jar of peanut butter.

"Oh for the love of—are you even listeni—?"

Bam. High-velocity box of Pop Tarts.

"If you would just let me—"

Bam. Bam. Bam. Can after can of tomato soup flung themselves off the shelves like small, tragic lemmings. A few of them exploded in gooey red fireworks, painting the floors of Stop-N-Save with gruesome slashes of crimson. Jo stared at the sight with a fascinated sort of horror. It looked like a massacre had taken place in the shop. Something involving chainsaws. And screaming. And aliens.

…This was so not his fault.

A malicious-looking can of turnips hurtled in his direction, and Johann finally grew a brain and ducked behind a nearby shelf. He breathed a sigh of relief when the can clattered harmlessly on the blood-stained floor. Er, tomato-stained. Whatever.

"Miss Psycho," he said diplomatically from behind his shelf, "I come in peace. And I'm not here to steal your stuff. Sort of. So if you could, uh, please stop trying to murder me, then that'd be great. Yeah. Thanks." He waited for his assailant's (hopefully positive) response, muscles tense and ready to bolt if he needed to.


Johann let out a slow exhale. The psycho girl had apparently calmed down. Thank God.

Poking his head out from behind the shelf, he chanced a glance at the tiny girl. She was, strangely enough, curled up in a tight ball. Like an armadillo. Or a giant mutant roly-poly. Jo scratched his head in bemusement, not noticing how his tomato-stained fingers were trailing bloody streaks through his hair. That's weird, he thought. Did she suddenly fall asleep? Maybe she's narcoleptic or something. Or maybe it's the stress of her job? This guard-dog-alarm-person-Portland-zombie-thing business must be pretty tiring, after all…

Suddenly he realized that the girl was mumbling something. "No, no…" she was saying, her shoulders shaking ever so slightly.

Ah, so she was awake. Jo glanced at her warily before inching back towards the counter. At the same time, he reached into his sleeve pockets, fingers searching for the tiny bronze locket that he had stashed away with him. Better get this over with before the rabid zombie girl came to her senses and tore his throat out. He was almost at the godforsaken countertop when the girl's voice rose behind him in a quavering warble:

"I had put it right there! On the counter!"

Jo froze.

Counter. Locket. Camera.

Slowly—very slowly—he turned around.

Now that he was paying attention, he realized that the mutant roly-poly of a girl was crying. The quavering voice. The shaking. It was actually kind of obvious in retrospect.

You're an idiot, said the snide voice from before.

Johann grimaced. Well, he couldn't really argue with that.

He approached the girl as he would a wild animal, cautious and wary and with ghost-soft footsteps. He was only a few feet away from her when he stopped, nervous and uncertain. Lightning flashed outside, and for a brief moment the figure of the girl became distinct, framed as it was against the flashing lights of the outside storm. Curled-up and trembling beneath the light of the storm, the tiny, black-haired girl was eerily reminiscent of Annie.

Annie. Mom. Johann stared down at the locket in his hand and felt like the most evil person in the world.

Even so, it was this thought, the thought of Annie and of mothers, that urged him forward in the end. Making up his mind, the boy reached over and plopped the locket on top of the roly-poly-girl's head. Then, with that mission complete, he whirled around with the intent to get the heck out of there before he had to answer any questions that the girl would undoubtedly have about his possession of her beloved locket. Yeuch. He was so not going there. Talk about awkward.

Once again, fate seemed to have other plans, because Jo had barely taken three steps when he slipped on a puddle of blood. Er, tomato. Whatever.

Smooth, said his inner voice.

Shut up, he replied pleasantly, trying to scramble to his feet and massage his elbow at the same time. Needless to say, the results of his efforts weren't very impressive. By the time he actually got to his feet, he was covered in tomato soup and strongly resembled something that had recently died.

Jo took one look at his crimson-slicked hands and decided to boycott tomato soup as well.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Sᴋʏʟᴀʀ Eʟɪᴀs Eᴠᴇʀᴇᴛᴛ ❞
❝ Oɴᴇ ɢᴏᴀʟ. Oɴᴇ ᴛᴡɪsᴛ ᴏғ ғᴀᴛᴇ. Oɴᴇ ǫᴜᴇsᴛɪᴏɴ— wʜᴏ ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ? ❞

ImageJust give it up, it's gone already, was the thought that kept repeating itself over and over again in Skylar's head. All she could do now was return home empty-handed, and crushed. The little object no where to be found wouldn't mean anything in less than a year anyways, when she got the cure. And once again, she wondered, would anything matter after the cure? Her siblings? Ginny? Her past?
Would she only care about duty, obligation, and her job?

Two months till evaluation day. Eight months until the cure—less tha—

Now what in the world was that?

Glancing upwards, she saw the blonde haired boy walking towards the door. With the slight movement of her head though, there was the feeling of something sliding, something small, with a chain being dragged along with it. It could only be one thing: her locket.
Fumbling around, she hurried to catch the small object. If it hit the ground, countless things could happen to it. It could slide underneath something, she could accidentally step on it while trying to find it, or maybe it could drown in the pool of tomato sauce now flooding the shop's floor. How ironic that would be, coming here all the way to find a lost locket, getting it back from some strange blonde boy, and then just losing it all over again.

Why hadn't she just waited for tomorrow to come and get it?

After what felt like an eternity, she managed to grab the flimsy chain. Of course, she almost dropped it right after, with the startling sound of shoes sliding across the floor and a loud thud. Oh God, she knew it. The regulators had come inside the shop, and any second by now they'd be dragging her off out the doors, down the side walk, up the stairs, and into her house. And with who? Oh, none other than some random blonde boy that just happened to have her locket.

If only her heart could've just given out then, so that maybe someone would find her in the morning and they'd think a murderer had dragged her out of the house. Then, she would never get in trouble, right? She'd just go on with her life, going to school and hanging out with Ginny, goofing off with her siblings and painting whenever she feels like it.

How credulous Skylar's thoughts could be sometimes.

There were more sounds after that as she dared not to look and see what the cause was, more of what sounded like sliding and slipping. Had the Stop-N-Save been turned into an ice skating rink?

When she finally opened her eyes to see what exactly was happening, she had to cover her mouth with both hands to muffle her laughter. The whole shop was a complete mess, but what was amusing was the fact that the blonde boy was also a mess, now covered and smothered in tomato soup.

Up to now, she hadn't exactly established in her mind what exactly the blonde boy was. But now, he just looked like a bloody chainsaw murderer. Wait, correction—a short, bloody chainsaw murderer.

Basically, the area behind and around the counter now looked like an exact picture of a massacre, minus the corpses, and the blood, which was really just tomato sauce. A small can of grape soda was fizzing out onto the floor under the counter, and some broken pieces of Pop Tarts were scattered near the cash register. And those things were just the little parts of the mess. Tomato soup was everywhere—covering the floor, the sides of the counters, some parts of the windows.

Being slapped in the face always felt horrible, but this was worse. Trouble just seemed to come up to Skylar, and say 'Hey, how stupid can you be?'

"Oh, God. I'm so dead." If Uncle William saw this mess, he'd freak out. He'd probably call the regulators, and they'd use all this technology and stupid devices to figure out who broke into the store and caused the mess. With her fingerprints on all the cans of tomato soup sprawled out across the floor, it'd be as easy as pie to figure out who did all of this.

Carefully shoving her locket into one of the pockets of her coat, she turned around and scanned the shelves for some paper towels. When she finally found them, she headed back where the mess was, having lost all hope of returning home by curfew. How the hell was she going to explain the loss of tomato soup in the shop to her Uncle? Some person just happened to need a ton of tomato soup, and decided to come here out of all the places to go?

If only I had actually listened to what that boy had said. He probably had been trying to convince me to stop, so I wouldn't have made a mess—

Maybe tomato soup would actually make for a good ice skating rink.

All too quickly, Skylar was awkwardly sitting in the newly formed pool of tomato soup after slipping, the paper towels getting drowned beside her. Well, so much for cleaning up the mess.

If only this blonde boy hadn't been here, this mess would never have been formed. She would've gone home with her locket, all fine and not covered with tomato soup, and in the morning Uncle William would find the shop spotless, just like he had left in the night before. Then again... it occurred to her that if the boy had never been there, she would've never gotten her locket. She would've gone home drenched and heartbroken, only to become mute again for another year or so, like the time when her mother had died.

But... why had he had her locket?

Looking up at the back of the boy's head, she wondered why he had it.

1. She had dropped it somewhere else, and he had ended up finding it.

2. He stole it. What kind of bastard would do that?

3. Maybe it wasn't even her locket?

Reaching into her coat pocket, she pulled out the small bronze locket, and clicked it open in silence. There it was—the folded photo, wrinkled from aging. If it weren't for the red coating of tomato soup on her hands, she would've picked out the tightly folded picture from it's wedged position in the locket, but she was almost definite it was the picture of her mother, and that the locket was hers.

It was her locket. The shop was a mess. It was past curfew. She was talking to a boy. She was breaking the law.
Nothing could be worse, so there was only one thing was left to do.

"Who are you?"


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Johann Makota ❞
In Which He Has A Lengthy Debate With His Shoulder Angel

While Jo's coat and boots were waterproof and therefore salvageable, he had no doubt that his pants would forever smell of tomato. This was unfortunate, to say the least. His current bloody appearance, as well as the stench of soup that clung to him like glue, pretty much ensured that there was no way he'd make it back home without notice. The gig would be up the second Paul and Alva got back and demanded to know why everything smelled like tomato soup. And why Johann looked like something had tried to disembowel him.

He shuddered as he imagined what his family would do in response to his little Portland shenanigans. Paul would confiscate his treasury of random useless items (the horror) and then proceed to kill him; Alva would kill him; Annie would kill him; Morgan would kill him; Morgan would then proceed to lock him up in a room with Tallen; Tallen would then proceed to destroy him. And then Caroline would write a book about the tragic and stupid death of one Johann Makota and publish it. The book would subsequently become a best-seller and then the family would become filthy rich, and every year on Johann's birthday they'd shower his grave with blocks of one hundred-dollar bills in tribute to his noble sacrifice.

Johann blinked. Woah. That thought derailed pretty quickly.

Well, even discounting the one hundred-dollar bills, it didn't change the fact that he was going to be—

"—so dead."

It took Jo a while to realize that the girl had said that out loud. After scanning the store with a critical eye—boy, was it a mess—he concluded that yes, the girl's situation wasn't looking too hot either. Especially since she had somehow managed to slip into a blood puddle of her own.

Oh, well, he thought, turning to leave. Not my problem—

Now wait just one second! cried Shoulder Angel. What kind of dastardly villain are you, to leave a damsel in distress alone in a storm of misery?

He made a face. Damsel in distress? She was the one who assaulted me! If anyone's in distress, it should be me!

Foul beast! Whatever happened to accountability?

Accountability, shmaccountability. Okay, that sounded a lot better in his head. Er…in the inside of his head. Or something. What? Anyway, it's not my fault roly-poly-girl decided to wreak havoc!

But it is your fault, isn't it? the Shoulder Angel countered. If you hadn't taken that locket, then none of this would have happened in the first place.

Johann opened his metaphorical mouth to argue, but found that he couldn't. He sighed. Shoulder Angel was right. It was his fault, in a twisted sort of way.

Darn you, Shoulder Angel, he grumbled, rotating 180 degrees and grudgingly marching over to where the girl had retrieved the paper towels. On his way back, he shot a sulky glare at Roly-Poly-Girl. (Or at least, he thought it was a glare. In actuality, it was more of a pout.)

Brandishing fistfuls of paper towels, Johann began staring down the ghastly scene before him. Lake Soup-erior. His nemesis, as of five minutes ago. This was probably going to take years to completely clean up.

He got to work.

Let it not be said that Johann Makota had a lot of common sense.

Curling sheets of paper towels in hand, he had just begun to attack the floors when the girl suddenly spoke up.

"Who are you?"

Why, hello there, Awkward Question Number One.

Johann tapped a bloody finger against a bloody chin, thinking on how to reply. When the Makota's had been choosing their fake names, Johann had wanted something awesome. Something extravagant. Something memorable. Unfortunately, this went against every single one of Paul's paranoid instincts. Thus, "Johann Sebastian Bach" was swiftly vetoed, as was "Johann Le Blehcap," "Johann Nnahoj," "Johann Awesomesauce," and "Johann Shoemowetochawcawewahcatowee." Even Jo's creative attempts at smashing together Paul's fake name with their family surname was met with disapproval ("How about...Johann Mabakortaton! Or Bakomartonta! Huh? What do you mean, it's not cool?"). And so the disheartened Jo was left to scavenge for a name with less overall awesome.

Pausing in his crusade against the dirty floor, Johann flashed the girl a wide grin and swept into a dramatic, flourishing, and altogether unnecessary bow.

"Johann Tallman, at your service!"

(Yes, Tallman. A guy can dream, can't he?)

"What's your name, Roly-Poly?"


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Sᴋʏʟᴀʀ Eʟɪᴀs Eᴠᴇʀᴇᴛᴛ ❞
❝ Qᴜᴇsᴛɪᴏɴ ᴀғᴛᴇʀ ǫᴜᴇsᴛɪᴏɴ ᴀғᴛᴇʀ ǫᴜᴇsᴛɪᴏɴ. Sᴏᴍᴇᴛɪᴍᴇs, ǫᴜᴇsᴛɪᴏɴs ᴀʀᴇ ʙᴇᴛᴛᴇʀ ʟᴇғᴛ ᴜɴᴀɴsᴡᴇʀᴇᴅ, ᴀɴᴅ ᴜɴᴀsᴋᴇᴅ. ❞

ImageOf course, asking him his name is going to help you in so many ways, Skylar mentally scolded herself, honestly surprised that she had blurted out the question. Then again, it was shocking to know she hadn't just ran out of here by now, leaving the blonde boy behind as he was cleaning up the tomato soup lake.

Oh boy, she could imagine the look on his face if she did that.

At that very moment, a part of her couldn't help but scream at the boy in her mind, telling him to just leave over and over again. On the other hand, another part of her was almost dying to figure out more about the strange boy. Anyways, if he happened to be someone infected with the deliria, she'd know who to find if she ever got in trouble with the Regulators, right?

"Johann Tallman, at your service!"

Yo-what now? Now, there was no way she'd ever learn how to say that name, even if it was familiar. She'd heard of a few 'Johann' names before— particularly on LAMM, but never before had she actually met someone with the name. Yeah, her name wasn't a name you'd hear everyday either, mostly from a girl, but at least it was actually easy to pronounce her name.

As she was about to ask him how to pronounce his name, she found herself staring at him, at his grin, to be particular. Some strange realization swept over her at the sight of the carefree smile. No one ever smiled like that in Portland—then again, you barely saw anybody smile at all. Not even the cureds smiled that way, even though it was said the cure would make you happy forever. The only person she could recall that would smile like that, in a manner so daring a bold, was...
Her mother.

Once again, her doubts and curiosity started to prod at the idea of this 'perfect world' they were living in, and most importantly, the 'all important' cure.

And there was the all too familiar thought of her mother standing at the edge of a seaside cliff, the waves willing her to come closer.

"What's your name, Roly-Poly?"

Appreciation filled the gaping black hole that was making it's way back up to the surface of Skylar's thoughts when the boy spoke again, preventing further thoughts about the horrifyingly persistent past. Her mind could've gone on forever, coming up with different possibilities of what had happened on the night when her mother disappeared. It would've been like a never-ending whirlpool, dragging her down deeper and deeper until she couldn't bear it anymore, if it wasn't for this Johann boy.

Then again, none of this would've happened if he hadn't had her locket.

At this point, her mind had become blank when she remembered that she was still living in the present. It was even hard to get her mind to grasp the thought of stating her name. She was most likely looking like some lost puppy sitting on the ground, confused and dumbfounded, in the presence of some animal that was going to eat her. The look on her face probably was of utmost unbelief, like this whole meeting was going to ruin her whole life, and she'd never be able to walk around like some normal person ever again. Here was a scene that someone would probably say only came from fairy tail books, with some guy saving a damsel in distress, but in her mind, this whole meeting was not even close to something like that. In fact, the only thing it probably was in her mind was the exact opposite.

"Skylar... Skylar Everett."

It wasn't until after she had replied that the thought came across her mind that she should've probably come up with a fake name. She still hadn't even thought of the fact that he was cleaning up the mess she created, while she was sitting around in the middle of it all though. Her mind was too busy going it's separate ways—first telling her to get away from this insouciant boy, and then telling her to stay and try to get to know him next. One thought did happen to find it's way across her mind though, and of course, like most of her thoughts, it was a question.

"Why did you have my locket?"

There went Awkward Question Number Two, and the welcoming of a whole load of questions to come.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Johann Makota ❞
You Won't Find A More Red-Handed Criminal

The girl's blank expression at his proclamation did not bode well. Johann gave a dramatic sigh. Yet another victim of his overly flamboyant first name. Here he was, a little guy with a big name, forever doomed to suffer the plight of confused stares and nominal mispronunciation.

Maybe he should have just introduced himself as Jo.

Thankfully, the girl didn't comment, and instead of making fun of his stuffy name, opted instead to introduce herself. Her name, as it turned out, was Skylar. Skylar! That was just a letter away from "Skylark." How cool was that? Forget Blehcap, or Nnahoj, or even Shoemowetwochawcawewahcatowe. "Skylar(k)" had just ninja'ed its way to the top of Johann's List of Most Awesome Names.

Skylar Everett. Skyyyylaaaar. Eeeevereeeett. Wow. The perfect, blissful arrangement of syllables…that there was real poetry. Truly. (No offense, Al.)

As he inwardly enthused on the merits of Skylar Everett's name, Jo continued his valiant attempt at cleaning. After a while, his hand closed around a slightly dented, but otherwise unharmed can of tomato soup. Ooh, a salvageable one! This one was going back on the shelf. No need to thank me, Monsieur Tomato. You're very welcome. And yes, I'm still boycotting you.

He scuttled over to the shelves, stretched upward to place the can back into position—

"Why did you have my locket?"

—and froze. Rather spectacularly, if he did say so himself. He almost fell over, but didn't because he spent way too much time sneaking around and freezing in strange poses to lose control of his balance now.

Okay, so. Locket. Right. There was no way out of this; he'd been caught red-handed. Literally. How the heck was he going to explain this one?

Sorry, miss, but I have kleptomania. It's a dangerous medical condition in which if I don't steal something, I die. Don't take it personally.

No, too callous. And too stupid.

Sorry, miss, it was an accident. Don't take it personally.

True enough, sort of, but it didn't really explain much. And how likely was this Skylar girl going to believe him, anyway? Too vague. Too lame.

Sorry, miss, I was just in the middle of robbing people blind when I randomly had the urge to take your locket, because it's shiny and stuff. Don't take it personally.

No. Just no. Too…too everything.

Johann fought the urge to groan and face-palm. Darn it, this was why he wanted to run away earlier. Stupid chivalry. Stupid guilt. Stupid girl being all curious. Stupid tomato soup, stupid locket, stupid him, stupid everything. Why of why was he still here, cleaning the shop, no less, and not halfway back to the Wilds? Why?

You're an idiot, Shoulder Angel informed him.

Hey, it was your idea to stay here in the first place, Johann replied sullenly.

Yes, but I'm a figment of your imagination. Stupid ideas on my part are, consequentially, stupid ideas on your part.

Darn you, imagination.

The girl, Skylar, was still waiting for an answer. Jo glanced between her and the tomato soup shelf and went through an internal struggle of epic proportions. He told himself he was being stupid. What did it matter, what one small girl thought of him? It wasn't even like he lived here; he was an Invalid for crying out loud! He'd probably never see her again, and they'd part ways with Jo content in the knowledge of a good deed well done (sort of) and Skylar content in the knowledge that some people in the world were just jerks. They'd brush off the encounter, get on with their lives, and eventually forget the whole thing even happened. An inconsequential random event in the vast cosmos of random events. No harm done. Right?

It would be so simple to just bolt right now, but for some mysterious, inexplicable reason…Johann really didn't want the girl to dislike him.

Making up his mind, he set the can down with a determined thud.

He would do this.

Time to pull out the big guns.

(Courage, Johann. Courage.)

"I'm sorry!" he wailed, swinging around with his hands clasped in a way that screamed please-have-mercy-on-my-soul. "I didn't mean to take away something so important to you, honest! I swear it on the moon and stars!"

With the air of a desperate person, he fired his Puppy Dog Stare at her.

"I was gonna return it as soon as I realized—ran over here as fast as I could—I'm just so, so sorry, and I apologize, and I'm so sorry, and I feel like a terrible person and I'm so, so sosososo sorry, please forgive me!"

He finished the emotional speech with a flurry of repeated kowtow-ings, until he realized that the floor was still wet. Semi-cleaned, perhaps, but still smothered in the blood of lifeless tomatoes.

…Darn it.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Alva Makota Character Portrait: Klein Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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❝ Klein Marth Everett ❞
An Expected Surprise, and the One that Wasn't.

Klein's pace seemingly began to have an affect on his little companion - she seemed a little less enthusiastic to keep up with him as he rounded the corner and noticed the shop. He took the time to focus on it as he neared the little place, and even though it was still raining heavily, a small smile reached his lips. Klein truly did care for that little store, regardless of the arguments over inventory, the feuds over cleanliness, and the battles for shifts that made working there a chore. The people that entered were normal, everything inside there was normal: the store itself was predictable. There was none of this 'random-girl-that-you-just-met-and-could-possibly-get-you-arrested' type of thing, just normality. It was one of the main reasons he believed in the Cure, if he was to be honest with himself: it was completely straitlaced, no twists or sudden changes. It could be counted on as predictable and honest, unlike that... that.. crap that mom was infected by. His mood soured quite a bit as his train of thought switched to his parents, so he shook it away and focused on his goal.

"Are we close to that store?" Klein nodded, and spoke curtly. "It is just up ahead." His tone was that of facts, nothing more - the rain had probably washed away any sentiment of his voice that he had placed in it. As much as he hated to admit it, he was grateful for the lady's company in this journey. True, he would have been much more thankful if he knew who she was, or if this was a pre-determined trip, but never the less a hint of gratefulness was there. Klein snuck a peak at her through his peripherals, and noticed that she seemed to be tiring of traveling with him, which he had to admit was all for the better. No matter how thankful he was, it would be better if they went on their own separate ways soon - he hopefully finding his siblings, and she hopefully doing the same and both of them returning to their daily lives. It was weird to admit that he still had a gut feeling of anger and wariness around her, but it was even more weird to think that he constantly saw her on the streets, and yet came to hating her outright. He shook his head - That is what the cure is for: ridding us of these petty emotions that do not, and cannot make sense.

With that thought strongly in his mind, he reached the store and stopped abruptly as he heard a noise coming from inside. Now he was torn - either regulators were in his shop, and he would be seriously screwed if he opened the door, or Skylar was in there. Talking to someone. Klein narrowed his eyes, seriously confused. Either his mind was playing tricks on him, or there was a male voice coming from inside the shop. At least, it sounded quite male, but it was hard to differentiate from the two genders when the voice was... crying? Whining? Wailing? Klein hadn't the word that he wanted to use to best describe the voice coming from inside. Regardless, it wasn't Skylar's voice, so now the situation changed from earlier. Either a burglar was inside the store whining about their products - HEY! - or Skylar and a boy were talking about something while avoiding the Regulators. Klein had a feeling that it was the second option, since the first didn't seem very likely. Or plausible, for that matter.

Klein would have continued mulling it over, knowing he would have to go into the store eventually to find out, but a flashlight and the stomping of boots stopped his thinking cold. Here he was, standing with a random miss, outside of his shop, where a whiny male voice had recently just stopped. Now, to make matters worse, the Regulators felt it necessary to make their rounds over by the store at precisely this time. Even in the quick fear he felt, Klein couldn't help but let loose a sigh of discontent. Oh, bugger. This isn't going to go over well, now is it. Ignoring any comment that Alva may have made by now, he turned to her, and said quickly ""Well, no time to waste." With that - and Klein assuming that Skylar had unlocked the door to get in, or at least he was praying she did - Klein grabbed this mystery woman Alva by the arm (she really was quite light, if he had to make an observation), turned the handle of the shop, and dragged himself and Alva into the darkness. Klein didn't even bother to think that maybe the Regulators were going to continue forward instead of turning, he just acted as smoothly as he always did.

Klein wasted no time getting to the spot in the corner, dragging the poor Alva along with him. Since he had been in this kind of situation many times before - saving your siblings was quite repetitive, after all - he had a spot he knew exactly where to hide his massive frame: right beside a shelf. Apparently, Regulators never looked in the front corner of a shop, where the window and shelves just ended. There was a little nook tall and large enough for him to stand behind, and even watch the regulators. So, he moved with the speed and grace he always did, except for the girl he was dragging with him. When he finally got into the place and had Alva pretty damn close to him, it all hit him in the face - here he was, dragging a stranger he just met into his store, and was trying to conceal her against his own body. Pretty damn awkward, if Klein could think it straight through. The only reason he had for doing all of this was drilling through his head, keeping him sane through the next few moments: She could be a spy, she could be a regulator, it doesn't matter: if she got caught out there, she could rat on me and the store's inhabitants, and so help me I am NOT leaving my family alone, like before.

Klein watched out the window, listening for footsteps and watching for lights, until it became apparent that the regulators went down a different road. Any speech made by Alva at this time was greeted with a simple "Sh.", nothing more. After a few seconds, he turned his head back, and once again noticed that they were too close for his comfort level. He quickly mumbled an apology. "I... uh, well, I'm sorry for dragging you in here on such short... notice." Klein looked away, and then eased himself out from in between the shelf and the small bit of wall. It was then that he spied two little human beings through the darkness, and finally noticed the destruction of the little shop. A thick red liquid - Klein prayed that it was Tomato Soup or something - covered the walls, the counter, and a bit of the window. He hadn't noticed that before.

When Klein had finished assessing the damage, his face becoming harder to read as he did so - he finally turned back to the little silhouette that appeared to be his sister, and a silhouette of a boy. It hadn't occurred to him that he was probably standing about 6 feet taller than the two on the ground, which may or may not make him look like one of those massive shadow monsters people talk of, so he continued standing at full height. Instead of saying something like 'Thank God I found you', or 'I was worried! Now where are the others?' he had to go and say something like this in a harsh, yet extremely worried whisper.

"Now what in the Blazes has been going on in here, Skylar!?"


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Everett Character Portrait: Alva Makota Character Portrait: Klein Everett Character Portrait: Johann Makota

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#, as written by Mituna

❝ Alva Makota ❞
Walking on cold rage.

The area they were in was a bit too unfamiliar for Alva's comfort. Usually when she came to Portland it was straight in and straight out. Meaning, she would go directly to where she had planned to go and then leave just a quick. It was all caused because of her fear of drawing attention to herself. That being said, Alva avoided the kind of neighborhoods where everyone knew each other's faces in order for others not to question her presence.

"It is just up ahead," Klein answered her question from before. Her body couldn't help but relax a bit as she let out a silent sigh of relief. Her honorable but idiotic act would be finished soon and her search for Paul would continue. A slight frown tugged at her lips at the tiring thought. At least where she was she had a destination in mind. Searching for Paul without a clue to where he might be was too exhausting for her to even think about.

They seemed to have arrived to the store because Klein came to halt. Alva stumbled a bit but managed to regain her balance and stop right along side him. It seemed her legs had gotten accustomed to walking and they felt like they were vibrating now that she had stopped. Alva's eyes glanced over to Klein and she was about to tell him that she should be going her own way now but a noise caught her attention. A strangely familiar noise that was coming straight from the store. Her eyebrows drew together as her eyes stared at the store with a troubled look. It sounded too familiar; almost as if she had heard that noise all her life. No, it must be some stupid cat or something, Alva reasoned in order to calm her nerves since there was no possible way that the only person she knew that could make that noise was in Portland, in that store, without permission. Her thoughts came to a pause as she suddenly realized it was possible — especially if it dealt with that person that she had in mind. Alva found herself caught in the middle of trying to hope that her family didn't choose that day, of all days, to become stupid morons who don't listen to their older siblings like good children should do and the fact that there was no way anyone or any thing could make that noise except her dear little Kleptomaniac brother, Johann Makota.

She had been too busy with the million thoughts in her mind to notice the flashlight and sound of footsteps coming closer to them. Alva only broke out of her trance when she heard a sigh leave Klein. Her eyes seemed to immediately snap towards him and for a second she forgot what exactly she had been stressing over. Just then, she noticed the light breaking through the screen of falling rain. Her body stiffened like a rock like it always did when she caught sight of any regulators. Alva couldn't even began to think about what to do or say because Klein's voice stopped her from panicking. "Well, not time to waste," he said so calmly that it surprised Alva. He then proceeded to take her by the arm, open the store, and pull her with him inside the building. Instinctively, Alva tried to free herself from his grip. She couldn't remember the last time someone other than her family touched her and the fact that it had affected the pace of her heart both worried and scared her. It was a futile though, seeing as the man was huge compared to her and it really didn't help that most of her strength had been used to push her through the storm.

"H-Hey!" she hissed as quietly as she could but loud enough for him to get that she didn't want him dragging her along. Her face had changed temperature drastically and her heart only seemed to quicken. She wanted to free herself from him because at that moment all of her attention was focused on the spot where he was grabbing her arm and that thought was unbearable. What the hell is going on with me? Klein didn't put any mind to her and moved straight to a corner of the store. He seemed to know what he was doing because he headed straight to a large shelf without any hesitation. There was a small amount of space right besides the shelf and soon both Klein and Alva found themselves stuffed in there. Without thinking Alva kept her back pressed again the shelf in order to keep herself as far as possible from the man while at the same time doing nothing to alert the regulators. As much as her efforts were, they were still close considering the amount of space there was to keep them hidden. Her breathing pattern had been broken and become unevenly. Although she wanted to blame it on the fact that everything had happened so fast, she knew that another factor was the close proximity between Alva and Klein. All Alva could hope for was that he couldn't hear the pounding from her chest that seemed to resemble the raging thunder from the storm they were caught in.

"A-Are they...?"

"Sh," Klein cut her off as his eyes watched the regulators through the window that was right besides them. Alva remained quiet after that until he moved his attention back to the situation inside the store. Alva couldn't help but relax once knowing the danger had passed. "I... uh, well, I'm sorry for dragging you in here on such short... notice." That said, he quickly shuffled out from the small space they had been in and Alva followed suit. She settled in saying nothing, not trusting her voice at that moment. Klein didn't seem to have trouble with his, though, because his voice, as much as he tried to whisper, seemed to boom through the building the next second.

"Now what in the Blazes has been going on in here, Skylar!?"

Skylar? Alva's curiosity got the best of her and she stepped out from behind Klein to see what exactly was going on. Her eyes landed on a young girl who seemed to be trying to clean something off the ground. She was young, younger than Alva at least, and she had dark hair with a pair of green eyes. The familiarity that Klein spoke with when he said her name made her assume that she was the sister he had been looking for her. Her eyes then took notice on the other figure besides her.

It was then that Alva froze. It was the only thing that froze too because her insides had begun to boil like the lava from a volcano that was about to erupt. Her eyes narrowed as she tried to channel her fury through the glare she was currently sending Johann. A million ways for her to kill him ran through her head in those little seconds that passed. Forgetting about the presence of the others, her feet began to move her closer to the fool she called her brother. It seemed like her strength had come back because when she grabbed the younger boy by his cloths, Alva nearly picked him up from the ground. "Johann," she stressed his name with all the anger she had inside her. "You better say goodbye to your new friend because it's the last time anybody's going to see you alive!" That's when her anger unleashed. Her grip tightened and she began shaking Johann with all her might. "I mean, what the hell were you thinking?! I didn't know my brother was such an idiot that he would, first of all, disobey his sibling's commands, but put both his life and his family in danger! Oh, I'm feeding you to Tallen as soon as we get home and while she rips you to bits, I'll try deciding which way to destroy whatever is left of you. And once I'm done with you, I'll finally rip off Morgan's stupid hair for letting you get away with this and then choke you with it! Morgan will be pretty pissed by then so I'll let him take his anger on you as well. And let's not forget about Paul! Oh, I can't wait to tell Paul about this so he can kill you — again! And if you're here, Annie is probably out here too so we'll probably repeat the whole damn process for her as well! Damn it all Jo, I'm just so pissed right now that I can't even decide whether I should start your torture by punching you or strangling you!"

Alva was forced to stop describing her younger brother death because of the lack of oxygen. Her breathing had gotten harder as she continued to glare daggers at Johann. It was then that she remembered that the Makotas weren't alone and that she couldn't abuse her sibling in front of people outside her family - what was normal in her family might not be normal for others, after all. Alva's face began to change to a shade of red and it wasn't out of anger. It was more due to the fact that no one but her family had seen her lose her cool like she just did and for some reason she her anger was subdued by the embarrassment. Her eyes flickered from Klein to his sister to the ground before she forced herself to regain her composure. "Ah," she cleared her throat. She quickly changed her grip from the front of Johann's cloths to the back and pulled him towards her; both to make it seem like she was hugging him out of affection and had no intention of harming him and also to keep him from trying to escape. "I'm sorry about... that." She forced one of her best smiles towards them. "That's just how we like to play," Alva added, still with the same smile, and pulled Johann closer into a tighter side hug. "Isn't it, Jo?"