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Nova Barnes

"I'm not going to lie. This is going to hurt. I apologize in advance."

0 · 494 views · located in The World of Dust

a character in “From Dust to Dust”, as played by kokiri_kat





Name: Nova Barnes

Age: 29

Gender: Female

Height: 5’4’’

Weight: 121 Ibs.

Position: Medic


While short in stature by most accounts, Nova sports a healthy, if not curvaceous build with thickly toned muscular legs and hips equally as wide as her 34-inch bust. She’s never been one to starve herself for the sake of a stick-thin figure, and it shows in an all-around good way. Her tanned skin also glows in a healthy way and it’s covered in a sweet array of freckles. Nova has a prominent scar above her lip, as well as one over her left eyebrow; physical evidence of the fact that dust collecting has its drawbacks. Her chestnut brown hair is kept shoulder length and styled in thick dreadlocks and usually arrayed with a plethora of earthy baubles such as feathers, beads, and leather braids.

Her face is angular and sharp, with high cheekbones and a jutting chin. Her over large eyes don’t quite seem to fit with such a harshly pointed bone structure. Those eyes (hazel, and rimmed with an abundance of dark brown lashes) hold a softness and her round mouth is most often adorned with a sweet tempered smile.


General Personality: Nova is a very open and honest person, and lives by the rule: “what you see is what you get.” There is very little deception or deceit in her, though this does not mean that she is above telling little white lies if she feels the situation warrants it. Basically, she is willing to stretch the truth, but not to resort to an outright untruth. Nova does not trust easily. In her line of work, she has been screwed over enough times to know that people will resort to unsavory methods just to get an edge over the competition. That being said, when someone earns her trust, she gives it with an almost naïve abandon. She would like to believe that people are inherently good, though experience has yet to prove her right.

For all her faith in the human condition, Nova has a difficult time connecting to others on an emotional level. More often than not, in order to help a wounded human being, she is forced to shut off emotion in favor of cold, calculating efficiency. This is not to say that she does not feel, just that she has no use for emotions such as fear, uncertainty, or even concern when someone else’s life may be in her hands. Once her emotions have been turned off, it is difficult to turn them back on again, and thus, human connection takes quite a lot of work. Social situations are, quite frequently marred with awkward feelings. Oddly enough, she is amazingly good with animals. Perhaps she should have opted to be a veterinarian rather than a doctor.

Quirks: The most prominent quirk that Nova possesses is the tendency to “baby talk” to animals. She loves the little buggers; the fluffier and cuddlier the better. When she is presented with such an animal, she seems to lose control of her normal, adult speech patterns. She also tends to pace when talking, and hum to herself while doing busy work, regardless of the number of people around.

Fears: Nova’s biggest and greatest fear is not being good enough: not skilled enough to help someone in need, not being assertive enough to make the amount of money she needs to take care of her little brother. She struggles with self-doubt and the fear of failing constantly.

She also has smaller fears such as heights, and being stuck underground.



  • Being of use to others

  • Strong coffee at all hours

  • Water (the sound and the feel)

  • Learning just about anything


  • Flirting (mainly because she’s bad at it)

  • Hot places

  • Extremely small spaces

  • Long car rides (motion sickness)

  • Image

    ImagePhysical Ability: Nova has always been athletically inclined, able to run a mile in under 6 minutes and lift heavy objects with reasonable ease. She is physically in good shape, so that the grueling treks over unfamiliar terrain and various other demands on her body are taken in stride. While she isn’t by any means the most physically fit member, she can keep up with the rest of the crew pretty well, which is all she could ask for.

    She may not look it, but Nova is actually quite strong for her size. In addition, she is also agile and limber. When she first got into the field of dust collecting, it was apparent that she would have to learn how to defend herself. She trained in self-defense and hand-to-hand combat and became adept. While she feels more able to protect herself should the need arise, taking on one of the many monsters encountered while searching for dust using close quarter combat is not a great idea. Therefore, she is currently training in ranged combat. While she is by no means the sharpest shot in the west, she is learning and improving.

    Magical Ability: Nova's magical abilities consist of both offensive and defensive magic, though she is much more learned in the latter. Healing magic was taught as part of a full curriculum when she studied for her medical degree.

    Defensive/Healing Magic

    • First Aid: Works sort of like an antiseptic/band-aide combo on small wounds. Seals and protects.

    • Heal: Works to stop bleeding, seal, and protect moderate wounds.

    • Greater Heal: Will help patient to remain stable after receiving large wounds with a more serious amount of bleeding. Also helps to decrease blood loss, but it will not close and totally heal the wound. Regular medical methods, such as stitches, would also be needed in such a case.

    • Resuscitate: Works like the electric shock used in defibrillation to resuscitate the patient if he/she goes into cardiac arrest.

    • Revive: Instantly awakens an unconscious ally.

    Offensive Magic

    • Photon Blast: A wounding blast of photon energy.

    • Paralyze: The ability to paralyze the target for a short period of time. The larger the target, the less amount of time it lasts.

Weaknesses: Nova’s greatest combat weakness lies in ranged combat. While she is trying to improve, it still takes several misses before she actually hits her target. Her small stature can also be a weakness when fighting opponents larger than her. Because of her size, she also does not carry a whole lot of force behind her punches, so she usually has to resort to more… creative measures.

Equipment: Nova travels rather light. Her only possessions include: (1) a standard med-kit with tools to perform surgery on the fly, medication to treat various diseases which can be contracted from deadly flora and fauna, and other necessary medical items, (2) a six-inch steel dagger tucked into her boot, and (3) a small, dust powered pistol. The only personal item she carries is a golden oval locket with a picture of her mother and father.


Image Nova grew up in a working class family, unimportant by the standards of society, maybe, but they meant the world to her. Her father worked a blue collar job at one of the many Dust Banks in their small town, and her mother was a teacher. They had not even realized that they were a magically inclined family until Nova began showing an interest. She became extremely adept in healing magic very quickly, and it was suggested by one of her teachers at the age of fifteen that she should pursue a career in the field of magical medicine. She graduated early, and received a full ride scholarship to the Healing Hands University where modern medicine was taught, but the focus was on magical medicine.

Eight years later, at the age of twenty-four, Nova was just a few months away from receiving her Doctorate of Magical Medicine when her parents were tragically and mysteriously murdered in their home, leaving her teenage brother in her care. She was forced to leave school to care for him. Her parents didn’t leave behind much in the way of money, and so the financial burden fell entirely upon Nova. The problem was, she couldn’t find anyone in the medical field willing to hire a person who had not received their doctorate. After months of searching, she was approached by a man who wanted to hire her as a medic on a dust collecting crew. She had no experience in the dust collecting industry, but the pay was decent, with the promise of more when they were successful, and she would be able to utilize the only real skill she possessed. With the first advance she received, she reluctantly sent her younger brother to boarding school with the promise of writing and calling every day, and began her exciting –if not dangerous—new career.

Character History/Relationships:
  • Augustus Poole: He was one of the few people in the dust collecting industry who was remotely kind to her when she first started out, completely green with no idea what she had gotten herself into. He took pity on her, and, mercifully, taught her how to throw a punch, and about many of the monsters they faced in these untamed wilds. She counts him as one of the only two friends she has and has come to rely on and trust him wholeheartedly.

    And if, that one night by the fire as she talked to him about her past, his eyes glazed over in a strange way as she showed him the picture of her parents which she kept safe around her neck, she only noticed for a second, and she didn't dwell on it for long.

  • Ariah Mackintyre: Nova met Ariah a number of years ago when she still attended the Healing Hands University. As and extra credit assignment, Nova volunteered at various orphanages in the area. It was at one of these orphanages that Nova met Ariah. The poor girl was quite ill, and it was unclear whether she would make it to see her eighteenth birthday. Nova connected with Ariah right away, and diligently nursed her back to health. The two have been good friends ever since.

  • Natalie Johnson and Amanda Rox: She was introduced, in a manner of speaking, to Amanda and Natalie when Ariah called upon her for help with two, very wounded young women. There were a few things which were immediately clear: firstly, that something terrible had happened to these women, and also, that they were on the run. The second thing which was clear to Nova, was that they needed her help, and she had never been one to turn away a person in need. Nova healed them, no questions asked, and they went on their way.

    Once she started her occupation of dust collecting, Nova was surprised to run into them both again in various circles. And now, of course, they are all apart of the same crew. Small world, and all that.

Credit for images: tbdoll, tomgarden, and SteveDelamare

So begins...

Nova Barnes's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nova Barnes Character Portrait: Natalie G. Johnson Character Portrait: Ariah Mackintyre Character Portrait: Sterling "Dave" Davis
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Ariah tied her hair into a tight bun as she prepared herself for the haul of a life time. What was this now? Her fifth crew in the last sixth months? Who cares, Ariah didn't; but it was racking up one helluva bad rep among the dust mining companies. Ariah silently shrugged herself off and finished adjusting her hair as she leaned against the wall of the tank she was riding. A fairly colossal machine if she didn't say so herself. As much as she disliked technology she could at least nod at it's usefulness and sometimes awe-inspiring designs.

Ariah played with the knives holstered in her leg, activating and deactivating the magical electricity they emanated, trying to prioritize her mission with this crew. Get in, find the danger, get out, get dust and get home.. Wherever that'd be when this was over.. She sighed in boredom. These rides out to the dust regions were tedious at best, and although Ariah knew two of her friends were somewhere among this crowd, she hadn't managed to see them yet, only knew they were on here from the manifest. In truth, Ariah had no idea where she was on this damned tank.

She sighed again, rolling her eyes and silently mocking the men that macho'ed their way around the tank. What a bunch of greedy losers she thought to herself. But then Ariah had to pull herself back in line, she was here for the same reason too. She gritted her teeth but shrugged off her own self-indulgence and put her mind back to the task at hand - find Nova and Natalie and see what they're up to. Ariah kicked off the wall and went to explore the tank a little more when a door in front of her opened up and a a scruffy haired man stepped out.

Ariah fumbled for a moment, an awkward half-apology mumbled from her before she recognized the man before her. She didn't know him personally, but she knew him by his reputation and description. A reasonably tall man, youngish to look at it, his demeanor wasn't unpleasant, but his brow seemed furrowed, like he was in thought, and a collection of scars across his face gave away his identity. Ariah stepped back and paused for a moment then spoke without hesitancy, "You're Sterling aren't you?" Ariah looked him up and down, "I thought you'd look bigger" she said matter-of-factly, "Eh..." Ariah brushed a loose strand of hair from her eyes, trailing her hand over her father's goggles. "While I've got you here. Do you do special requests?" Ariah was blunt when it came to conversation and she saw no point in starting civilities now.

She leaned back to get a better look at the man before her, "I've heard you're pretty good with fixing and making stuff. That true?" Ariah pulled the goggles from her head, "I'm currently looking for two people, Nova Barnes and Natalie Johnson.. You know of them?" She never was one for manners either, but also never one to focus on one concept at a time; that comes in handy when you're a scout and looking for multiple dangers at once. "But I want to know if you can make me something first..." Ariah looked him over again, "Hmm, maybe you're not him... I also heard he was a little better looking..."

A short pause occurred and Ariah realised she hadn't given him a chance to talk yet, and also just realised she was probably doing that thing again. "Sorry." She said bluntly, "I just heard Sterling was supposed to be some top mechanic around here and want to know if he was any good at inventing too. And he might know where I could find Nova Barnes or Natalie Johnson too, or even Amanda Rox? Is she on this Tank? I didn't really think when I jumped on this one."

Ariah stopped talking at this point and leaned back against the wall again waiting for a reply. "You gonna talk?" She asked abruptly. "Kinda rude if you don't." Ariah pushed another stray hair from her face and raised an eyebrow. Her abrupt attitude was as hard edged as ever and she kind of knew she was probably already stepping on the toes of a stranger already, but hey. Stick her in a tank for this long, and with a bunch of grunts and what did you expect from her. She just hoped she'd find someone she knew soon or find out if this guy would help her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nova Barnes Character Portrait: Augustus Poole
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This was the part she hated the most. Bring on the treacherous terrain; bring on the monstrous creatures with their snarling teeth or venomous barbs. Hell, Nova would be happier taking on a Tarnic the size of a bus with nothing but the knife in her boot than she was in her current situation: shoved back into the bowels of this impressive metal vehicle feeling claustrophobic and extremely nauseous. There wasn’t even so much as a window in this area of the truck out which she could stare directly at the horizon and tell herself it would all be over soon. Nova considered her tolerance for pain quite high, and gaping, festering wounds, the sight of which would make most people vomit did nothing to her constitution. But, driving in a moving vehicle made the healer want to sink to the floor in a puddle of her own tears.

Nova snorted at her own stupidity and breathed in deeply. There was nothing that some focused meditation couldn’t fix. That, and a lovely Dramamine patch, whose spindly barbs shoot medicine directly into the bloodstream. One of those sounded very tempting right now. But no, she was a grown woman who had to learn how to fight off a little bit of motion sickness someday. She filled her mind with happy thoughts—or thoughts at least—of the young brother she’d left behind once again. He was in his gawky teenage years, sixteen and experimenting with what kind of a man he wanted to become. Seth: all long limbs—taller than she could ever hope to be since she stopped growing upwards years ago, and tattoos she hadn’t even known he’d gotten until he came home one holiday telling her how his roommate at school was an amateur ink artist. They fit him though, made him look quite grown up, and she only gave him the smallest of hard times for not bothering to run it by her first. She thought of their most recent goodbye as he stood, rather stiff and awkward in her arms having long ago gotten too old for public affection from his sister. But, they were all each other had now, for better or worse, and Nova often found she was grateful that their parents had waited so long to have their second child. The age gap made it easier for her to take on the role of surrogate “mother.”

Nope, distracting herself wasn’t working. If she didn’t get medication into her system soon, the result was not going to be pretty. She took out the small med-kit she kept stored on her person and began rifling through it, searching for the little blue piece of heaven which would take all her troubles away. It was silly, but she felt as if she were cheating somehow; as if healers taking medicine like the rest of the human population was some sort of sin. Her job was to bring relief to others, not to herself. Nova pushed the thought away and continued to rifle, feeling panic rise in her as her fingers came into contact with everything except Dramamine patches. Dear Lord, could she really have forgotten to throw a handful in her med-kit? There would, of course, be a whole box of patches packed neatly, and stored with the crates of medical equipment she’d requested, but they would be somewhere with the rest of the cargo, and Nova had no idea where that was. She could guess that it was somewhere nearby, since the personnel quarters — where she currently was — was tucked away in the dark creaky bits of the vehicle. Having no better solution, she decided to go on a hunt for them.

She pushed open a door and entered a narrow corridor of sorts which extended all the way to a back wall. She walked to the end of it and pushed open another door, hoping to see wooden crates, but she was met with nothing more than an empty room almost identical to the one she had just been in. She almost didn’t bother to give it a second look at all, but the sound of drumming met her ears and she turned back. The room was not empty at all. As she looked more closely she saw a figure sitting in the darkness—a figure with a familiar face. Nova could not help it; she smiled in spite of herself.

“August? I didn’t know you were along for the ride. You wouldn’t happen to know where they keep the cargo, do you?” she asked as she put her hand on the wall to steady herself, sincerely hoping she didn’t look as bad as she felt. “I forgot to keep a motion sickness patch on me,” she finished, rolling her eyes at her own thoughtlessness.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nova Barnes Character Portrait: Augustus Poole
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Clean, crisp sheets, delicious meals and beautiful women (or handsome men, given the surprising quantity of females on the Dust collecting roster) – wouldn't be had for quite some time, for any of them. It was the little things, August found, that he'd miss the most, but he was used to living minimally. Sleeping outdoors in a wee-little bag wasn't anything new, but the sheer medley of oversized monsters surrounding them at every corner would be. These journeys were chock-full of undiscovered beasties; poisonous, deadly quadrupeds whose gluttony surpassed even the greediest swine. Always different, always more frightening than the last. Anyone who'd never been on this type of excursion would be pissing their pants at the very sight of them – at least, for the very first time, until they got used to the bloody things. Then, seeing them would be like breathing. They'd stop being the things of their nightmares, or bogeyman creeping under their cots, and they'd grow used to seeing their comrades, companions, and allies being gobbled up and ripped apart. Maybe, they'd cry a little, but eventually they'd have to move on again and keep collecting Dust. That's why they were here, after all.

He sighed softly, pushing back his ruffled hair. He probably looked a mess, but it didn't really matter. No one would care, and most likely, August wasn't the only one. He eyed the overhead pipes, squinted hard, then laughed. This wasn't just any old corner of the rumbling, mechanical contraption. It was the boiler room, or at least part of it. The smallest, restricted part of this particular hole, and he'd found it like a scurrying mouse going home. But, at least he was alone. Solitude squeezed in the darkest corners of the chamber, arms linked behind its head; an ever-present companion. Now, loneliness was another matter altogether and he was lucky to be old enough not to feel it. Loneliness was a scary thing. To be lonely was to be vulnerable, to have a flood of emotions open up, torn wide open. It was everyone's personal demon, and something people usually struggled to get away from. It wasn't a physical thing; and it wasn't just being alone in a room, but rather, a lingering feeling that stayed long after everyone else is gone, kicking up its dirty feet across your bed. The resounding scoff rumbled in his throat, clearly unimpressed by the unusual line of thoughts.

August wasn't lonely. August didn't need any friends, because they usually died on these stupid expeditions, anyway. Some people drowned themselves in work; surrounded themselves with glib-faced friends, or kept themselves busy on adventures they thought they needed to fill in the spaces in their chests. No, no – August here contented himself by drinking large amounts of liquor, large enough that if he held his hand in front of his face, he'd struggle to count his waggling fingers. He wasn't lonely, so he wouldn't have to wander above the hammer gun truck's deck in search of companionship, or into the squad-quarters to hold hands and reminisce about the good old times. It wasn't his style. Though, August mildly wished that there was a window somewhere. A little pool of sunlight flitting through ugly curtains, with a little breeze to accompany it. He wasn't used to being stuck inside a colossal vehicle for so long. Cramped spaces never bothered him, but sometimes he felt like he couldn't breathe properly, as if the stale air was nipping and stealing a little of it away from him with each passing hour.

A noise, or voice, rather, caused him to stand abruptly, knocking the back of his head against a particularly low-hanging pipe. The sound rang loudly, and despite what he'd obviously done, August grunted and emphasized stretching his arms. As if he'd been stretching all along. He startled easily. There were emotional scars treading just above the surface; leaving his mind on alert, never sleeping. The man whipped towards his supposed assailant, about to give 'em a knocking for scaring the crap out of him – until, he saw who it was, hesitated and coughed uncomfortably into his fist. Of course, it had to be Nova sneaking up on him. From the first time he'd laid eyes on her, she seemed like the type of girl who paraded around in cut-off jeans, ripped shirts, and those half-moon eyes of hers. He pictured her absently wiping her slender, bloody hands across her shirt-front, nonplussed by it all. There was an untouched goodness there, and he was afraid that things like this, and things like that, would ruin everything in her. If she could, August bet she'd run around barefoot. Seemed like something she'd do.

But he wasn't lonely, so he mumbled something about stretching. “Where there's money, danger, and adventure,” August lamented, scratching the back of his neck. Honestly, it wasn't anything like that. He'd seen a familiar name on the recruiting roster; someone he personally wanted to thank. If it wasn't for him, then he'd be dead in the gutter somewhere, gurgling on his own blood for real. And even though he couldn't remember how he first started talking to the girl, or where they met exactly, he started looking out for her. Showing her the ropes, teaching her how to shoot and fight and survive, like he'd taken on an apprentice of sorts. It was unlike him, and he wasn't sure how to look at it. Easier not to think about it. Why did she look so weird? A little green around the gills. Heavy brows knit together, clearly perplexed, until she made her simple request. “Figured. You don't look so good, kiddo,” August commented with a brief smile, navigating himself around her. “Might as well go for a walk myself. I'll show you.”

He waited for a few seconds, and moved out into the hallway, glancing over his shoulder. “Miss Medic forgetting her motion sickness patches?” He laughed, shrugging his shoulders. He was only pulling her leg. Teasing in the only way he knew how: dryly, sarcastically. “Don't worry. We'll be off this lunk soon. Hopefully.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nova Barnes Character Portrait: Augustus Poole
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It was a strange—an indescribable feeling, really, to look another human being in the eyes and wonder whether one or both of you would be dead before your job was done. Nova had seen more death than she cared to think about; more blood and carnage than she would have seen in the world’s most terrifying emergency room, and most of the time, she was there at the end—at a person’s last moments. It actually made her kind of happy to know that, even if her patients were damaged beyond repair, at least they wouldn’t have to be alone when they died. Nova couldn’t imagine anything lonelier than having to die alone with no loved ones, no other living soul there to hold your hand as darkness enfolds you in the most final of ways. Why these thoughts were filling her head as she set eyes on her old friend, she didn’t know, but now that this line of thought had begun, she couldn’t stop it. Would she be there when August died? Would she hold his hand? The question was a valid one, in their line of work, and a very real possibility. He’d been on her table dozens of times already—shirtless and bloody and waving away her protestations that he should have been more careful. She would patch him up and he’d be off, probably to drink with his buddies, but every time she would worry that the next time wouldn’t end quite so happily.

Would she have to watch him die? The thought was unbearable. And what about the others she cared for deeply? Would she one day be unable to keep her friend Ariah from succumbing to wounds or fevers or some other danger that lurked out there for them like a beast seeking to devour? And what about her; would anyone be there to hold her own hand when she died? Or would she bleed out alone and friendless on the ground? Morbid, horrible musings, maybe, but for a dust collector, they were real enough.

Thankfully, her darks thoughts died as August reacted, obviously startled by her sudden appearance. She, at once, felt stupid. It was not her intention sneak up on anyone, and she had no idea that the rugged man before her was even capable of being startled. Nova wouldn’t have thought it possible. To her, he seemed like a stone wall in the best of ways; strong and beautiful and untouchable. It was as unthinkable as a grizzly bear being frightened of a tittering little bunny rabbit. “I’m sorry,” she said quickly, throwing her arms out in an attempt to emphasize her apology, “I didn’t mean to… bother you.” She decided that bother was a better term to use than scare. But, it seemed that it was already forgotten as he offered his help and walked passed her and into the hall.

She was happy it was him she had come upon. Honestly, she had missed him. It had been a while since they’d last said goodbye and she mumbled something about seeing him around. Nova had the notion to embrace him as he drew closer to her. It was what friends did, after all, when seeing each other again after time had passed, wasn’t it? But, she quickly thought better of it. Not only would it be inadvisable for her to make any sudden movements in her current condition, but something told her that he might not appreciate the greeting—and though, if he were anyone else she wouldn’t have hesitated to throw her arms around him whether he liked it or not—Nova settled for touching him lightly on the forearm and smiling up at him as she mumbled a weak, “thank you.”

“Miss Medic forgetting her motion sickness patches?” Nova laughed with him, or at least she made a sound somewhere in between a grunt and a sneeze which she hoped passed for a laugh as the room spun slightly when she turned to follow him. “I know, it’s pretty pathetic. Honestly, I don’t know how I managed it.”

“Don't worry. We'll be off this lunk soon. Hopefully.”

“You don’t sound too sure,” she replied, “but I hope so too. Anything would be better than being in this metal death trap.” While Nova could appreciate the technological wonders of the hammer gun truck they were currently riding in, and she didn’t really feel that it was unsafe, she felt positively suffocated in it. Anything that trapped her, cut her off from the sunlight, from the fresh air was bad in her eyes. If there was one feeling that she hated above all others, it was the feeling of being contained; like a bird in a cage, except this cage didn’t even have the luxury of bars you could see through. She could not wait to get out. “I’ll feel a thousand times better with one of those patches, though. Thanks again for helping me.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nova Barnes Character Portrait: Augustus Poole Character Portrait: Natalie G. Johnson Character Portrait: Ariah Mackintyre Character Portrait: Sterling "Dave" Davis
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Ariah nodded her head to the side and raised her shoulders in a you-know-me-Nat, "Gotta know who i'm travelling with and where they are". As Nat spoke and was thankful someone else she knew was around Ariah herself finally began to feel at ease knowing one of her oldest, and admittedly, one of her only friends was definitely also here. Ariah looked over to Sterling as he paced about talking to himself and rolled her eyes again, "Calm down before you burst a vessel" she said holding a hand out to motion him to stop as he finished his rant, A'ight. A'ight. Sounds fine. We can work that out... probably best to do it before we get closer to the canyons; I can't let this interfere with my fascinating job."

Ariah looked back to Natalie, "You've found yourself and interesting one, haven't you?" Ariah raised her shoulders again, "Well it's been nearly, what? Five minutes since we've met and neither of us have stormed off.." Ariah looked over to Sterling and held her hand out, "So either i'm getting soft, or you're tougher than most of the men around these parts." Ariah motioned her hand again then realised his suit would still be hot, which only made more apparent by Natalie's wince after the briefest contact with his gloves.

"Alrighty then Sterling, we have a deal!" Ariah said with a slightly elevated tone from her usual monotonous indignant tone. "Here." she said briskly as she handed over a bag full of credits. "Half now. A bit of motivation. Then you get the rest when I'm satisfied, got it?" Ariah looked over to Natalie, "He's making a whip" she said with a smirk, "I've got a theory about the Tarnic and my ability to not piss them off..." Ariah sighed, "Plus, i'm thinking of a career switch." Her eyes glazed over as she contemplated again her possibilities, "Not from Dust mining though, mind you.. I'm thinking of branching out my skills.. And the Whip Sterling's gonna make will hopefully allow me to train or at least negotiate some of the Tarnic into my bidding.." Ariah smirked widely, she and Natalie had often tempted fate on a few occasions when they were younger, whenever Natalie and her Uncle came into the wilds that was. "Remember that Digger Tarnic? The one that your uncle would follow coz it liked to bury deep into Tarnic cave systems?" Ariah laughed, a rare emotion for her to display.

Ariah shot a glance back to Sterling, making sure he wasn't enjoying her company, she was determined to grate on him. Something about him was so, comfortable it was, irritating to say the least. "So anyway, as I was saying, Sterling's whip will be infused with Dust and after I get a hold of the crew's Monster Expert, I think his name is Augustus Poole - saw it on the manifest, I'm gonna get him to teach me about all the creepy crawlies out there and how to handle them properly... Being able to avoid their claws is one skill I have.. But I want to control them." Ariah's eyes sort of wandered off again, an almost crazy daydream state glazed over face, then she looked back to Natalie, "Until then, I guess i'll just stick to scouting out for the creepy crawlies."

Ariah stretched her arms and cocked her to the side cracking it, shooting another look to Sterling, "God, you reek of cheerful." She mocked, Ariah began to walk off and turned around to face the two, "Well, c'mon, we can't be too far away from stopping at some crappy camp for the time being, and I want to find Nova and my Monster expert... And I'm pretty sure your mate Amanda Rox is on this tanker too!" Ariah then looked back over to Sterling, "You too I suppose" she said pushing another strand of hair from her face, "We can discuss what you plan you to make me and whether or not i'll like it."

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Character Portrait: Nova Barnes Character Portrait: Augustus Poole
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Death didn't frighten him. There was nothing anyone could do to prevent it, especially when you were too bruised and crippled to move your sorry carcass away from its chilly clutches, from the keening breath tickling across your neck. It wasn't something he sat around and thought about, but it didn't mean he was twiddling his fingers, interested in dying any time soon because he had things to do, and situations to fix up. He wasn't finished just yet. August Poole knew death very well – perhaps, not as well as Nova did, but they'd been acquainted well enough. There were subtly differences between them. He'd always been a bringer, never a helper. He never was the monochrome angel lapsed in their visions, holding scalpels and bandages while they teetered on the brink of dissolution. Medics were like deep-sea divers plunging into the thickest, most horrifying waters, with the intention of dragging their patients from the depths, desperately trying to keep them from drowning. People like August held them under until they stopped breathing. He knew death, knew it well. Understood its moods, its shifts. It often struck when he was unprepared, struck when he was at the most ready. It had no conscience, no mercy, no thought beyond taking anything it touched. Every single chromosome and atom composing his companions, his allies, his friends, would crumble under its weight – they'd all disappear, eventually. Maybe, they'd be in front of him, or they'd die further away. Sometimes he felt lucky, other times unworthy. Did his life have more meaning than those whose lives were taken? No, of course not. He would lose someone important. He'd regret allowing his walls to be torn down, again.

Somehow, death didn't seem like something that stalked his unlikely friend: the little bird. Like she had immunity to its spontaneous, fatal-pounces, because she helped the dying and the broken. If her friends were in danger, he didn't doubt that she'd throw herself into the fray for them. Risk her skin to save them from dying. August wasn't so sure he'd be willing to do that for someone else. He thought himself friendless and little more than a useful apparatus in the form of monster-slaying and tracking. All the fond memories he had were shrivelled things, barely bound together and already fraying away at the seams. And he didn't deserve the kindness Nova showered him with, either. So far, she'd been the only person who treated him like he was a human, rather than a playing card or a talking monkey, and that was worth something. Not much, but at this point, that was all it took to make him care about her. Kindred spirits weren't supposed to grapple at a sinner's hand. They were supposed to let go, definitely disgusted that such a hand extended towards them in the first place. Dust collecting expeditions were always peculiar, always brimming with an odd collection of individuals who almost always got along with each other – maybe, it was because they all held hands with death, looked it in the face and laughed. His eyebrows raised slightly, then sidled back down. He'd spotted a much stranger look on her face, all glossy and faraway.

The look faltered, then disappeared completely. The relief he felt was an indescribably, flighty thing. “Don't worry about it,” He countered quickly, almost sounding embarrassed until he added, “Hit my head on that damn thing too many times already. Who built this thing anyway?” What would she think of a grizzly-rabbit jumping at every little sound? Cowardly, frightened little boy. Or a broken thing hiding in the dark, ceaselessly wringing his hands together like an old man. For some reason, those thoughts bothered him the most. Long ago he'd convinced himself that he didn't give two shits about what anyone thought about him, but she managed to weasel herself underneath his wings, retrieving thoughts that he'd thought long buried. He cared. He just wasn't sure why.

“Thank you.” Whispered like nettle-bugs tickling at his elbow, barely audible, and just loud enough that he had to strain his hearing. She touched him lightly on the elbow. Perhaps, as a greeting – or something a little closer to the embrace he was unwilling to give her. It wasn't that he didn't like her (couldn't be further from the truth), but he'd always been weary of physical contact. Things like hearty back-claps, handshakes and comforting shoulders were lost to him. The appreciation he felt was in the way he didn't completely push her away, shut her out like mechanical doors closing in. Instead, August offered her a stale smile, a curt nod of the head and waggling fingers that indicated she should follow him. His kindness was lukewarm, and hardly gratifying. Hopefully, she understood well enough by now that he meant well underneath all of that gruff.

He made room so that she could walk beside him, side-by-side. For some odd reason, he hadn't pegged her for someone afflicted by something like motion sickness. It seemed an impossibility given her grizzly profession, always picking out crooked fangs from shredded abdomens and stitching flesh together as if she were knitting a pair of tough, meaty socks. Not just anyone could suffer those experiences without spewing their guts out, or at least feeling a wee bit queasy. August squinted at her, then smirked. “Nerves, maybe?” He inquired, eyebrows knitting curiously. It was OK if it was. Normal, if anything. This wasn't a typical expedition where everyone would make it back alive, chipper and unbloodied. He'd understand.

“You don’t sound too sure.” Good point. August wasn't entirely sure when this gigantic contraption would come to a complete stop, allowing them to get out and stretch their legs a bit. He'd never been on any expedition with vehicles this large. They'd been much smaller, much more localized. Whoever paid for these things meant business. They were fiddling with blue-wigs and high-tops, cracking gold coins between their teeth. If anything crooked or corrupt was going on in the background, August wouldn't have been surprised. This was as serious as serious things went, and when they were in the business of Dust collecting, casualties and comforts meant absolutely nothing.“I'd be lying if I said I knew when, but it better be soon. Didn't sign up to sit in a tin can. Stuffy place.”

The older man turned around another corner, then another, down a long string of hallways until it opened up into a large cargo hanger full of wooden boxes, labelled with plastic wraps and stickers. He extended his hand outwards, and stepped in himself. He hadn't had time to take a good look around when he first staggered onto the metal-beast. He smiled again. “Wouldn't want ya' starting out sick,” came his breezy retort, as he ripped cellophane free and rifled through their contents. Partly because he was curious and partly because he couldn't be assed to read the labels. Random tubes, square boxes of ammunition, brand-new magazine clips, interesting clusters of some sort of weapon he'd never seen before. It was only when he reached the third box that he paused, glancing over his shoulder. “Any idea where these things are?”

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Character Portrait: Nova Barnes Character Portrait: Augustus Poole
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Nova put her head down and smiled to herself at his reaction to her gesture; his quick, tight-lipped smile which was gone almost as quickly as it had appeared and his waggling fingers. It didn’t bother her, honestly, that his demeanor toward her never really crossed that line into friendly, it was always maintained at a brisk, lukewarm. But, he had taken the time when they’d first met to teach her the things she needed to survive at her chosen career, and he was taking the time now to help her when he didn’t have to. He always took the time; never seemed to be too busy for her, and that meant something. They were friends, she knew, even if he did not squeeze the life out of her with bear hugs every time they met again. She wouldn’t push him to show more affection for her than he was comfortable with. Nova just wasn’t that type of girl—endlessly vying for emotions that people might not feel. She would never try and force anyone into giving more than they were capable of. It wouldn’t be true; it wouldn’t be real, and of what use were feelings that weren’t genuine? Did she sometimes think that she felt more toward August than he felt for her?—maybe, but how did one gauge such things? He meant more than he probably knew to her, and she might not be alive today if it hadn’t be for those lessons. She admired him for those little kindnesses that he always waved away as if they meant nothing when really they meant everything to the insecure girl she tried so desperately to hide.

Of course, he had been rather distant for a while now, and she still wasn’t sure why. It worried her; had she said or done something wrong? Nova wouldn’t put it passed herself, she could be thoughtless sometimes. Whatever the reason, she wouldn’t pry; she would not invade his privacy.

As she took her place beside him in the hall, she thought about how things like this made her realize just how much she trusted August. Following just anyone down poorly lit hallways in such a sparsely populated area as this part of the vehicle seemed to be was not something Nova would normally do. This wasn’t exactly the sort of place where everyone was harmless and meant well. But, the thought never once went through her muddled mind that he could mean her any harm. From almost the first moment they’d met, there was something about the Monster Expert which made Nova feel safe. She couldn’t put her finger on just what it was, but she’d only been weary of him for the briefest of moments in the beginning. That wasn’t like Nova; a girl had to be weary to protect herself. August had gotten through her protective wall without even trying, and while that confused her at times, the truth was, she would probably follow him anywhere.

He asked about her condition as they walked. “Nerves, maybe?” She thought about that. It was entirely possible that anxiety was worsening her illness. She thought about the scale of this operation. Enormous trucks and limitless supplies of fire-power weren’t necessary on easy jobs where casualties were minimalized; neither were highly trained military personnel. They were after something big, she knew—a rich dust deposit in an area overrun with monsters. That was something to get nervous about. But her fears were for her own safety only in that, if something happened to her, she would leave her brother really and truly alone in the world—something she had promised him she would never do. He had already endured the deaths of their parents at a relatively young age; it would be devastating to have to lose the only other family he had. So, yes, she was nervous; afraid that she had made a promise which she would not be able to keep.

“Maybe,” she shrugged, trying not to show the emotion she felt. “I’m always nervous… for Seth.” She had told August about her brother before. One of those late night confession which always felt so strange to make—she hadn’t had anyone to confide in for so long—but she hadn’t regretted it. He knew her story, so she thought he would understand.

Finally, he led her into the large room filled with the crates of everything they would need on their expedition, and they stepped inside. August immediately walked over to a cluster of crates and began ripping them open. “Wouldn't want ya' starting out sick,” he said as he rummaged around in the first box. Nova stood near the doorway, not entirely sure they had the clearance to be looking through the cargo willy-nilly, but August did everything so effortlessly he made it look like he had the authority to do anything he wanted. “Any idea where these things are?” he asked, looking away from his box to glance expectantly at her. It was only then that she stepped away from the doorway, and moved around him to survey the room. Nova hadn’t packed the items herself, she had only sent in a request for them, so she had no idea where they were in this maze of cargo. She looked back to the wall by the door. There had to be some sort of list which would tell them what cargo was where. Sure enough, there was a clipboard hanging on the wall. Nova gathered it and walked back to August’s side. She held it so that he could see too, and turned the pages until she spotted the words: Medical Supplies.

“It says they’re in crates 137-142,” she muttered, handing him the clipboard and moving to search for the indicated numbers on the crates. When she finally found them, she had to tear open and fumble through a few large crates before she located the box she needed. Soon, a motion-sickness patch was in her hand and she ripped it open, pressing it to the skin on her upper arm. The relief was nearly immediate, and she closed her eyes and sighed contentedly.

“Much better,” she said as she packed the contents of the crate neatly away again and closed it. When she was finished she smiled in August’s direction. “I guess I should head up and see what’s going on. Do you want to come?” she asked, walking toward the door.