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Jax

"I am not a tool for your pleasure or pain."

0 · 308 views · located in The Prime

a character in “Impending Pursuit”, as played by The_Queen

Description

Image Contestant

Username: The_Queen#919191 | FC: #D8BFD8






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{Full Name: }
Jax bug

{Age: }
18

{Gender: }


{Species: }
Panthera Uncia

{Face Claim : }
Silverash || Arknights





ImageImage - - - - - -


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.Height:
6'8

Hair Color:
Silver and black
Weight:
150 lbs

Eye Color:
Titanium blue


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Overall Appearance:
Jax is not like other mutants, he is man made, bred for purpose. It is reflected in his appearance, his tall height and lithe, muscular body, punctuated by a spotted tail and slightly rounded ears peaking from his head. Jax is made to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, with perfectly symmetrical features and smooth, unblemished skin. His jaw is angular, his cheekbones high and sharp enough to cut glass. Set within his head are two titanium blue eyes. They are vibrant, as clear as a cloudless sky. His hair is a mound of fluffy and white, perfect for running your hands through, tipped with black. It grows naturally like this, without rhyme or reason.

As for clothing, Jax can usually be found adorned in a fluffy coat, despite the fact that he rarely ever gets cold. He walks with a cane, for style, not substance. Hanging from the side of his head, attatched to his hair, are a string of beads. These are symbolic, but Jax won't tell you what they mean unless you become close enough to ask.




“I can see three possible outcomes to this situation, none of which are pleasant.”




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Personality:

Despite his intimidating exterior, Jax is actually quite pleasant to be around. Many have described him as soft and cuddly, akin to a kitten. Jax is the soft-spoken type, but he also recognizes when he needs to get serious. While it might not seem like Jax jokes around too often, his sense of humor tends to be thickly laiden in sarcasm, so it might just be going over your head. Jax is kind and very much generous, he is the type that will give you the shirt off of his back if you asked, but that's only if you become close enough to see that part of him. Jax is very much guarded, recognizing that not everyone is kindhearted, which he unfortunately, learned the hardway. Jax also recognizes the importance of distancing himself from others, knowing that as much as he tries, he cannot make someone stay with him.




▶Theme Song : Oldies in Another Room // Playlist








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Likes
The Cold // Being part snow leapord, it's only natural that Jax would prefer the cold.
Coffee // It's strange, for a creature that loves the cold, Jax must love coffee just as much.
Sunrises // There is just something so magical about a sunrise.




Dislikes
[color=#MAIN]The Heat // Wasteland heat is far too much for Jax to bear. [/color]
[color=#MAIN]Water // Large bodies of it especially. [/color]
[color=#MAIN]Impunity // No good ever comes from exusing people for their actions. [/color]
[color=#MAIN]Sudden Noises // Jax's ears are very sensitive, sudden, loud sounds tend to throw him off. [/color]




Strengths
Knowledge // Despite being bred to be pretty, Jax is actually quite knowledgeable in various subjects.
Practical Skills // Jax has a very specific set of skills under his repitoire.
Adabtability // It is very easy for Jax to adapt to certain situations under pressure.
Memory // Jax's memory is sharp as a whip.




Weaknesses

Soft Heart // Jax has a soft spot for certain things.
Swimming // Surprisingly, Jax is not a strong swimmer. He tends to sink instead of float.
Trusting // Despite his many attempts not to be, Jax trusts others far too readily.






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{ Weapon : }

At a first glance, you might not believe that Jax is even carrying a weapon. It merely looks like an assistive walking device. In actuality, the cane that Jax carries opens up to reveal two blades that Jax can twist the center of to form a double-edged sword (not of the hypothetical kind). This blade can also electrify, in order to shock anyone that comes too close.




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{Place of Origin :}
Mother

{ Background : }
Jax does not have the same background as most mutants. He was born in a test tube, grown artificially in a lab. His birth was an experiment, an attempt to create "perfect mutants," with desirable traits that were pleasing to the human eye. Jax was not the only one, he was the oldest of three, two girls being born only minutes after him. They did not have names, they merely went by the numbers 1, 2, and 3; Jax being 1, of course. The first few years of his life were spent being experimented on. The humans that created him and his siblings had no idea how long he would last. They groomed him, educated him, and presented him to the humans with much excitement. They were then separated and like monkeys in a circus, were paraded around for humans to rent and use.

At age 12, Jax managed to escape the Mother ship. When the ship was low enough, he grabbed onto one of the wires that were hanging from beneath and jumped. Taking the plunge into the wasteland had not been his best idea, as Jax had ended up with a broken leg. He limped across the Waste land, looking for food or shelter, for more than two weeks before collapsing of starvation and dehydration. It was a wandering doctor that had found him. She took Jax in, finding him to be strange, an oddity. That woman taught Jax everything he needed to know about mutant society, about medicine, and about kindness. She opened up his world and his heart, teaching him many things.

Then, at 15, she passed away suddenly of Ori, having hid the sickness from him until the second she died. Distraught and with no place to go, Jax found himself wandering. He ended up in the Tundra, finding solace in the cold of the mountains. It was there that Jax established himself as a doctor in mutant medicine, treating patients that traveled from near and far. Normally, Jax would ignore the calling for the Game of Pursuit, but this year, something felt different. With the desire to find his lost sisters, Jax entered his number into the lottery.

{Family :}
Jax has two sisters, 2 and 3

{Other Info :}

It was the old woman who gave Jax his name. She claimed it meant something important, but he can never remember what.






ⒸⓄⓅⓎⓇⒾⒼⒽⓉ: ⓉⒽⒺ_ⓆⓊⒺⒺⓃ



So begins...

Jax's Story

Setting

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Character Portrait: Kore Character Portrait: Jax
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Image


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Canisxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



"Do ya want some boy?" The smell of meat made his mouth water. Jax shook his head, looking up at the vendor. "Yes sir, two please." Meat on a stick, there was nothing like it. Earth truly was a wondorous place. The vendor handed him two sticks, Jax was going to give him three coins, but the vendor shook his head. "It's on me, ya saved me thumbs last time I nearly cut them off." Jax nodded, "You only required three stitches," the Vendor laughed, "yes, but these boys are me livelihood. If I lost me thumbs, I lose me business!" He waved Jax's coins away, the man pocketing them for later use. He walked a bit away from the vendor, finding a seat beside a warmer to eat his food at. "Did ya enter your number?" Someone at the table across from his asked, two girls, both with a set of wings larger than their bodied were talking. "Yeah, I did, but I'm nervous." One of them admitted.

The lottery was today, even now, in the Canis's snowy town square, the holo vision was playing as Overseers stood on the blue carpet, dressed in dazzling outfits. He scanned the images, hoping to spot two familiar faces, but seeing neither of them. With a sigh, he rose, tossing the sticks into an incinerator. The walk back home was devoid of anyone else, as per usual. He lived a bit away from the colony, his home built into the side of the mountain to blend in. This was how many people in the Tundra lived, in order to protect themselves from the elements when they could not afford the metal, wood, or insulation required to live out in the open.

"Oi, Jax!" A girl was waiting in front of his door. He blinked, vaguely recognizing her. "Alfia?" He inquired, a girl with razor sharp teeth and gills on the side of her neck. Her skin was blue, her mutations allowing her to live at the coldest depths in the tundra's icy waters. She had come here once before, he had treated her fin rot a year ago. "I'm surprised you remembered," she grinned, cocking a hip. "Anyhow, I need yer help," she moved aside her hand, blood leaking out. Jax nodded, opening up the door and ushering her inside. "How did this happen?" He asked, leading her to the table. "Fishermen, they just don't listen to the fishing guides anymore." Alfia shook her head, glancing at his holo screen.

"Yer watching the lottery?" She leaned forward, grinning. "Did you enter yer number?"

Jax paid her no mind, spraying the wound with numbing spray. "Yes, I did." He replied, getting to work. "Wait, you did?" Alfia blinked, panicking slightly. "But who's gonna take care of us if ya leave?" Jax looked up at her, her cheeks flushing purple when he smiled. "It is only a lottery Alfia, there is a very small chance of my number being called." Alfia nodded, turning back towards the holo screen as Jax cleaned the wound. She smelled like salt and seaweed, now mixed with antiseptic. "You might feel a pinch," Jax changed his gloves as he doused a needle in alcohol and opened up a package of sterile thread. Alfia nodded, silent as he stitched the wound.

She hissed, the numbing spray beginning to wear off. "Almost done," Jax promised, pressing a seal-badge against it, waterproof bandaging. "These are the dissolving kind, so they should be gone by the end of the week." Alfia nodded, rising slowly, as though to test the integrity of the stitches. "Stay away from the boats," Alfia grinned, "Tell the boats to stay away from my reef!" She hooked a thumb in her direction, wincing. "Oh my Mom said to give ya this," she pulled a fish, seemingly out of nowhere and slapped it down on his table. "For ya! As thanks," Jax smiled, taking off his gloves and picking up the fish, which was dangerously close to medical waste. "Thank her for me, this will go well with those beans Phen gave me."

"Phen gave you beans! That pig head told me he was all out!" Alfia stormed off, "Well, I'll see ya round!" she slammed the door behind her, the cold entering for only a moment. Jax's smile faded, he placed the fish in the fridge and carefully disposed of the waste, boiling his needle, in case another emergency came in. "Welcome everyone to the 100th Game of Pursuit!" Jax's attention turned back towards the holo vision. His ID card, where was it? Jax rifled through his belgongings, finding it in his jacket. He still did not memorize those numbers.

"This year's lucky contestants...." A girl with colorful hair began to rattle off names, a boy with dark skin standing beside her. The podium behind them began to light up with ID numbers, and faces. Jax waited, oddly tense.

"ID Number 78209450-2, ooh, this one's from the Tundra." His image flashed on the screen behind her. Jax rose abruptly, his ID falling out of his hands. What to pack? What to pack? How long did he have? He ran a hand through his hair, did he need to bring anything?

His holo pod suddenly came to life, the girl on the holo vision standing there, along with a group of others behind her.

"Welcome Competitor, to the 100th Game of Pursuit! Congratulations! Your ID number has been chosen, you're so lucky! In preparation, please bring only yourself and 1 support item of your chose to your closest shuttle. Make sure you have your ID on you, as it will be needed to confirm your identity. If you would like to back out of this year's Game, all you have to do is-"

Jax was no longer listening, he reached for his cane and his coat, stuffing his ID into his pocket. "The needles," he turned, they were still boiling. Turning the burner off, Jax headed outside, locking the door behind him. Outside, the lanterns began to flicker as the sun set. Where was the closest shuttle station? Jax bit his lip, it was in the next colony over. He would have to take a bike there. "Jax! Need a ride!" He looked up, having just reached the entrance of Canis. "Yes, that would be appreciated," he smiled, relieved to see Lew. "I heard the announcement, we've gotta get you to Ursus."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kore Character Portrait: Jax
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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Canisxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



The terminal was baren, the sun having already set. Lights flickered around, a guard stationed outside wearing a heavy downcoat. "ID Number?" He asked, as Jax approached, Lew having taken Jax as far as he could go. "Here," Jax showed him the ID, a bit taller than the guard. "This way, do you have your support item?" He asked, Jax lifting up his cane. The man blinked, "I'm going to have to take that from you," he seemed a bit guilty. "It's not for medical use," Jax rectified, sliding the bottom open to reveal a blade. "Ah, alright." He tagged it, placing it in a storage compartment. "It looks like we have another competitor from the Tundra! Oh, what an interesting one you are. Would you mind telling us your name?" A fotor asked as soon as Jax stepped onto the shuttle. "Jax," he replied simply, finding an empty seat. The fotor trailed him, "Well, Jax, are you excited for this ear's Game?"

Jax gave a brief nod, he wasn't doing this for the game. "I'm sure it will be as exciting as last year." The fotor nodded, stepping away to go bug someone else. There were three competitors on the shuttle. One wandered over, close to where Jax was sitting, taking the seat opposite. He offered Jax a wrapped pastry. "Want one? They have plenty of food on this ship," Jax shook his head, the shuttle jostling a bit as it took off. "Please fasten your seatbelts!" Someone from the front called, Jax reaching behind him to buckle the cables across his chest. "I just ate, but thank you." The man leaned back, tall, with a moon on his forehead. His ears were long and pointed and his teeth sharp.

"I'm Jax," he offered a hand. The man opposite him grinned, "Fennec," they shook, falling into mutual silence once more. Jax's ears popped, his head growing dizzy. "Please hang on, we're experiencing some turbulance due to the weather." The voice above them announced, the ship jostling quite a bit more. Jax turned, they had just broken through the clouds. "This is surreal," Fennec grinned, stuffing another bun into his mouth. Jax nodded in agreement, everything floating, for just a moment, until the artificial gravity turned on. "Thank you for your patience, we should reach Father in approximately thirty minutes."

The other competitor sat alone in a corner, her horns pointed upwards, head tilted down. Was she... praying? Jax wondered. Jax unstrapped, rising to grab water. "Hey," Fennec called to him suddenly. "Why are you entering this contest?" He asked, rising. He was quite burly, Jax realized. He wore layers with different furs. Animal or mutant? Jax had to wonder. "I want to see my sisters again." Jax replied, "I have no interest in the contest, my goal was to get onto the ship." The girl in the corner suddenly looked up. "So you're not going to kill anyone?" She asked, her voice trembling. "I'm a doctor, killing others is against my moral code." Fennec laughed at this. "Good luck with that, buddy." He clapped Jax on the back, his palm heavy.

"What is your name?" Jax asked, offering the girl water. Her horns reminded Jax of a ram. "Safia," she smiled, her voice trembling. She took the offered water, practically downing it. "Why did you enter?" Jax sat down beside her, she capped the water, looking at her feet. "I have two little sisters," Safia's voice was soft, it reminded Jax of a calm river bed. "My Mom died giving birth to the second, so I've been taking care of them. I thought, that if I could enter and win, I could give them a better life."

Fennec laughed, "Adorably delusional," he grinned, his smile intentionally threatening. "Your sisters, do you think you can find them?" Safia asked, ignoring Fennec. "I'm not sure which ship they're on," Jax admitted, "but I am sure, that if they see me on the holo vision, they will come." The captain cleared his voice, "All passengers, please strap in as we arrive at Father." Jax placed the strap across his chest once more, buckling it in. The ship jostled a bit as they reached Father's landing strip. "Welcome, Competitors, to Father."

The shuttle doors opened, Jax unstrapped, rising slowly. Outside, Fotors lingered, their cameras already pointed at them. Fennec and Safia both hesitated, not used to this, but Jax knew the ways of the humans. He rose confidently, striding down the boardwalk, to where a booth was set up for processing. "ID?" A human asked, looking bored. She glanced up at Jax, then down, then back up, her eyes widening. "Well, hello there," she smiled. "Hello," Jax replied, handing her his ID. "Let's see, hmm, yup, that's you. Jax Bug, welcome." She handed him his ID back and motioned for his hand. Jax gave it to her, she scanned his wrist quickly, then fixed a metal bracelet on it. "Don't lose that, that's your key to the world." She winked, Jax looking at it.

It looked plain, silver, it dangled on his wrist, loose enough to move, but not come off. "Welcome to the Game of Pursuit, please wait over there for your manager." Jax waited for ten seconds before a man looked down at his holo tab, then up at Jax. "Are you Mr. Bug?" He asked, "Call me Jax," he held out a hand. "I'm your manager, Axel," his handshake was oddly dainty.

"Follow me please, we'll get you showered and changed before orientation. You'll be able to mingle with the contestants then."

The setting changes from The Tundra to Father

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



"You clean up nice," Axel admired. Jax ran a hand through his hair, no longer long. His nails had been clipped as well and a strange amount of him cleaned of hair. He recalled undergoing the same waxing multiple times when he was younger. "Thank you," Jax replied, his tail flickering, whether he was pleased or not was undetermined. "Let me show you around your new home," Axel opened up a door, leading to another corridor. This one let out to two large doors, "Scan your tag here," he showed Axel. The mutant placed his wrist against the reader, the two doors sliding open. "Welcome, Competitor... Jax Bug." An electronic voice spoke from somewhere above them. "Cool, right?" Axel asked, grinning. "Sure," Jax replied, following him inside. The doors closed with a sense of finality behind him, oddly loud. Goosebumps rose on his skin, Jax recognizing that perhaps he had made a large mistake.

"Where are the others?" The area was oddly empty. "They should be arriving soon, you were the first to get here and there are plenty just checking in." Jax nodded, following his manager to the reception area. "This is just a foyer," he explained. "There are several areas I'll show you that you are free to hang out in while we wait for Orientation." Axel led Jax to an escalator, the two of them starting on the second floor. His words were a whirlwind as the peaked into each room. A lounging area with large, overstuffed couches and holo tabs for competitors to borrow. It was framed with windows and just outside it were several green spaces with large windows and artificial sunlight peaking between the rafters. A tree provided shade, even though the temperature was comfortable.

Jax blinked in surprise, reaching down to touch the grass. "You're from the Tundra, right?" Axel asked, watching him. Jax was suddenly accutely aware of the Fotors behind him. "Yes, it's been a while since I've seen grass." He admitted, rising to his feet. "Let's move on," Jax nodded, following Axel. He showed him the dining room next, a wide open room with multiple tables and a buffet. "Meals are served three times a day here, with snacks in between. The schedule should be in your room, you can also order meals if you don't feel like coming here." They moved on to the gym, which was comprised of a large space, sectioned off into smaller areas. Target practice, sparring, weights; there were no windows looking outside, but a large box for others, presumably humans, to watch.

"Why is this place so big?" Jax murmured as Axel took him to see his room. He had the last room on the left, his view looking outside of the ship. Outside, Jax could hear the door opening to announce the arrival of another competitor. "I need to ask you a question," there were no Fotors here, it was only Axel and Jax. "Yes, what is it?" Axel looked up from his holo tab. "I'm looking for my sisters, they live on one of these ships." Axel tilted his head to the side, the light from the stars illuminating his outline. "What do they look like?" He asked, looking down at his holo tab again. "Like... me," Jax tried to picture their faces. It had been a few years since he had seen them.

"They have the same tail and ears. One is slightly taller than the other, one has long hair and one has... short hair. Gray eyes," Axel clicked his tongue as he browsed his holo tab. Jax's ears flattened against his head in annoyance, was he not listening? "Oh, here we go. I think I've found a match," Axel flipped upwards, the image projecting onto the ground so that Jax could see it. "That's them," he knelt to the floor to get a better look. "Where are they? Are they here? Can I see them?" Axel laughed, "Nooo, they're on Mother." They looked older, in the projection. Taller, different. Did they remember him? "Is there anyway to get to them?" Jax rose, brushing off imaginary dirt.

This place was entirely too clean, but give it a week and the mutants might tear it apart. "No," Axel admitted. "Not unless you win," his voice was soft. Jax's hands clenched into fists, he knew what he had to do. "You know what, why don't we have a little chat? I'm supposed to do this anyway," Axel admitted, placing his holo tab down. He pulled up a chair, Jax sitting on the bed. It was large and cushy, decorated with plush pillows and a white blanket that had built in cooling and heating. "You're from the Tundra, right? What did you do there?" Jax was acutely aware of the flashing signal in the corner of the holo tab, the conversation was being recorded.

"I was a Doctor, I provided medical treatment for mutants that came to my doors." His tail curled and uncurled reflexively on the bed. "Did you charge them for it?" Axel asked, seeming genuinely interested. "If they could pay, yes, otherwise, no." He looked out the window, at the stars they were drifting past. "What about your past? What was your childhood like?" Jax took pause before answering, trying to word it cautiously. "I was made in a test tube," he admitted. "I was a toy for the humans," it was a nightmare he often woke up to.

The feeling of hands caressing his body, it was sometimes overwhelming, even if it wasn't real. "I wanted to forge my own path, that is why I left." A lie, but an easily digestable one. Axel nodded, "Are your sisters the reason you came back?" Axel inquired, removing imaginary lint from his perfectly pressed jacket. "Yes, I didn't come to play, I came to see them again." To remove them from the ships, if possible. Outside, they could hear more competitors arriving. Jax rose, "I would like to go scope out the competition, if that is alright with you?" He asked, to which Axel nodded. "Fine by me, orientation will be soon. You're free to hang out anywhere until it begins." Axel slipped away, disappearing behind the doors that clicked with the sound of a lock behind him. Somewhere mutants weren't allowed to go.

Out in the lobby, or foyer, as Jax called it, several competitors arrived with their managers. Some were already sitting in the green space, admiring the grass, while others retreated to their rooms or the dining hall. Jax watched as the doors opened and shut once more, a boy with red skin sauntering in. He was short, with black horns that poked out from a mess of blue hair. "What are you looking at?" He asked, stalking passed Jax. "Rude," Jax murmured, turning away.

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Character Portrait: Scout Character Portrait: Edward Killedge Character Portrait: Jax
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Edward Killedge
Username: forever2b | FC: Ky Kiske from Guilty Gear Series | | Speech Color | Thought Color |
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Location: The Father

Edward took the red-gloved hand of the human that introduced herself as his manager. The young elf took a slight bow, allowing his tied up hair to fall gently down, before getting back up with a smile. It irritated him that a human would call him a mutant, but that's something he would have to endure for the greater good.

"Edward Killedge, at your service." He responded.

Looking up, he could see that the human was trying hard from cringing. Clearly she didn't want to consider a mutant her equal. It must have been ingrained in her head since she was little, of how inferior these creatures were compared to them. However, Crane seemed like a good actor, as she kept her body from trembling and even offered Edward, who she saw as a mutant, a hand.

Just what kind of plan did she have in mind? Edward wondered, No matter, I have ways of making her useful to me. After all, having a human on his side would tremendously help him infiltrate the system from the inside.

Turning the hand to expose her palms to his piercing blue eyes, Edward asked Crane, "My, what a beautiful glow you have on your wrist. Do all humans carry this sort of marking?"

At his words, the pink haired human quickly retracted her hand. Grabbing her wrist nervously she responded with a forced giggle.

"I think we will have plenty time to get to know each other, but right now, getting you suited up for the orientation is our priority."

Edward pursed his lips. She was good. The human managed to derail the conversation to hide important information while making the decisions she made for him sound like ones that both of them chose. However, Crane wasn't perfect in her masquerade; her body language showed Edward that whatever was in her wrist was very important to the humans. So important that they had to keep it a secret from the contestants, which would imply that if the contestants, a.k.a. mutants, knew about the object, it would interfere with the plans set forth by the humans. Else, Crane would have responded to his compliments in a positive fashion. Plus, it wasn't like Edward was unattractive. If that was the case, she would have not held the handshake for such a long time. It was just a conjecture, but not without thought.

The elf returned a smile back at the human girl, "All right, let's get to know each other more later."

Crane gave a nod, not changing her expression of a slight smile. Walking towards a large gate, she gestured for Edward to follow.

"This way," she said.

Edward followed closely behind, his eyes were fixed on the girl's wrist while she had her back to him. Only when Crane turned around every now and then to check up on him, did he look away from the wrist to make eye contact with her. Once in front of the gate, the pink haired human touched her wrist on a scanner, making the red lights on it, green. With mechanical sounds, the door slid open.

"Beyond lies the room to make us look the best in front of potential sponsors." She pointed, suggesting that Edward go in first.

"Of course," Edward replied, "ladies first." He motioned politely for Crane to go in before him.

Crane smiled at the suggestion, "Thanks, but you should head in first. I don't want this door to close on you." She said.

"I see. Well then, please excuse me." Edward responded, as he walked pass Crane and into the metallic chambers that the humans called a "room". Once inside the doors, Edward stopped and turned his head enough to see Crane, out of the corner of his eyes, enter the room. Moments after the door shut with the inside sensor's light turning from green to red.

So that's one way to use it. Edward thought. The young elf pieced together an application for the object in the human's wrist. It was clear that the object could act as a key to open doors to facilities, but was it just a key or more like an identification for more applicable use? It has yet to be seen. From Crane's hesitancy to tell Edward about the wrist object, most likely meant that it was the latter, because the girl wanted to conceal the identity of the object, yet she showed no objection to Edward clearly watching her open the door with her wrist, even in knowing that he inquired about it. If his conjecture was correct, the wrist object would allow anyone who had it to impersonate the person that wore it, very useful indeed.

Upon observing the doors, Edward could see that the doors have two scanners, one on the outside and inside, and a sensor in between them. Each scanner turned green when permission was granted for the doors to open, while being red when locked. Furthermore, the sensor in the middle would detect if the person with the chip was inside or outside the door in order to determine whether it would transition from an open state to a close state. That's why Crane insisted on Edward to go through the doors first saying that the door would close on him if she went in first.

Quite the information gathered from such small actions. But how much of the information given was intentional? Edward wondered.

Breaking from his thought, Edward looked over to Crane, waiting for her to direct him on what was next. Seeing his expressions, the aspiring actress walked next to him showing a kind smile.

"This is the room where we will get cleaned. A machine will shower you and bathe you in the perfume that you desire. Please be sure to put your clothes and belonging in the basket provided for you, before you enter in."

Edward looked over at Crane. She still maintained her smile, keeping him distant from her, while providing the necessary information to keep him going. This won't do. he thought. For Edward to get information out of the human, she needed to be much closer to him emotionally. Usually, his natural beauty would have captivated anyone who didn't have a motive behind their actions. Clearly, Crane was disciplined, but how much so?

Slowly Edward began to unbutton his overcoat. The elf allowed it to slide down to his feet. He then took off the band which kept his long blonde hair flow freely down his back. He took of his shirt with one motion, causing his hair to flow downwards. Edward flipped his hair backwards so that the golden locks of hair could slide down his bare back. The elf bent over and began to take off his shoes when, the human watching him, interrupted.

"B-but please, do so after I leave the room."

Edward stopped. Slowly, he stood up to look at Crane, locking his blue eyes with her crimson red ones. The elf kept a neutral face, as if he was expecting what he was doing to be the norm.

"Oh, weren't you going to shower with me?" he said nonchalantly. "I remember you saying 'we' were going to get cleaned."

Crane's eyes shook, as her face's color changed to match her bright red eyes. She took a step back as she tried to diffuse the situation. However, the image that Edward painted was too much for her to bare.

"I- I would never bathe with a mutant!" She yelled, as she rushed to a door located perpendicular to the one they came in from. With her wrist, Crane unlocked the door and dashed passed it. "Please let me know when you are inside the shower room." Said her voice over a speaker on the ceiling.

So she finally shows her true colors. Edward thought smirking. Now he was getting somewhere. The elf took off the rest of his clothes, and folded them neatly inside the basket Crane instructed him to put them in. Afterwards, he stepped into the room that Crane indicated.

"I'm inside." Edward yelled.

Shortly after his remark, the doors slammed shut. The walls began to collapse on him until Edward was crammed in the machinery. Hot water came out from all sides. The pressure felt like daggers piercing his skin. He couldn't help but let out a grunt at the shock of heat and force.

"Excuse me, can't you make the water less painful?" Edward yelled.

"This is to clean you as thorough as possible!" A voice yelled back. Clearly, Crane was irritated. She must have put the washing settings on the highest possible to punish Edward for the comments he made before.

The water ran for a minute, but the pressure and temperature seemed to decrease as time went by. The walls also loosened up, giving Edward some wiggle room. Mechanical hands came out of the walls, lathering Edward with soap that smelled like roses. He didn't give Crane a preference on the aroma, but she must have thought this scent suited him best. Perhaps she didn't hate him, as much as she made it out to be. After another minute of gentle water rinse, the door to the other side opened.

Stepping through the door, Edward was greeted with a rush of air that evaporated all the drops of water from his body. Then a machine latched on to his head, quickly blow drying his long hair. A set of underwear and a towel was given to him. The elf put on the underwear and wrapped the towel around his waist.

A moment later, another door in front him opened. Crane waited for him with folded clothes in her arms. Not making eye contact with Edward, she shoved the red and orange clothes at his face. The scent of the human was rosy, just like his scent, except sweeter. Going to the basket full of his belonging, Edward picked up his hair bad and began tying his hair back to a pony tail.

"If you don't mind, could I get my old clothes cleaned? I would like to wear that to our orientation."

Crane looked over at Edward frustrated, "But this suit will match my dress!"

Finished tying up his hair, Edward looked over giving Crane a smile, "I think we will look good together no matter what, plus I value my clothes very much."

Crane's eyes lit up for a second, before it went back to normal, she set the clothes down on a bench and got out a Holo Tab from her pocket. The small device expanded to her hand. "Oh? Would you mind telling me why you value those clothes so much?" She said getting closer to Edward.

The elf kept a neutral face, but his eyes were fixed to the device that the human pulled out. She seemed to want to record what he was saying. Even with all the flirting Edward thew at her, Crane seemed to still stay loyal to her job. However, it seemed that he had made progress, as Crane was wearing similar perfume that she gave him and wanted to match the clothes together. A manager didn't have to go that far for their mutant, but she wanted them to be uniform. Whatever reason she wanted to record his conversation, Edward wasn't going to give her a true answer.

"It was my father's. He gave me the outfit, as he died in my arms."

"Death you say? How did he die?"

"It pains me to talk about it, but he was hunted by others who were jealous of his wealth."

"Did bounty hunters kill him?"

"Yes, my father died a horrible death, and after that moment, I vowed that no unjust deed will go unpunished."

"I see." Crane said, pressing a button on the Holo tab. "With that story, we can make you out to be a mutant that's out seeking justice. We can clean your clothes up and that would stick you out of the crowd."

"Thanks for understanding." Edward replied, trying his best to act relieved. He didn't mind having that narrative around him, as the elf was seeking justice throughout the world: by killing those who were tainted. However, he had no backstory to his clothes, other than that it was made out of elven materials, so it felt more comfortable to him. Plus, he liked the color scheme: white and blue.

Crane left Edward in the room. Within minutes, she returned with his original clothes, free from dirt, blood, and any stains. For the first time, Edward's eyes glittered, as he received fresh new clothes that he loved. Piece by piece, Edward put his clothes on, finishing with his over coat.

"You don't look too bad, for a mutant." Crane remarked.

"Thanks for the compliment." Edward said smiling, his teeth clenched together.

"Well, let's make our way over to the lounge." She said. They walked through a series of doors until Crane dropped him off on the lounge. "Good luck!" Crane said, running off to a door accessed by her Wrist Chip. Edward looked on wards. It seemed the area around here were full of normal doors, like on earth. He thought that Crane was going to be with him during the orientation. Seems like he wasn't the only one who hid the truth.

Edward looked around, there were contestants gathered around already. He could spot a beautiful snow leopard amongst the crowd. Perhaps a creature worthy of the creator's world. He thought. The elf would keep an eye on him through out the duration of the Game. Looking farther out, he could see a door to the outside that was opened wide. He could make out an elegant figure, in a short white dress and maroon shorts. The elf made his way over to get a closer look.

When he made it outside, Edward could see the flaws in the mutant. The scars and black stone that ran across her body became visible. A consequence of the sins of the humans. Poor thing, I shall put it out of its misery as soon as possible. He thought, silently retreating back to the lobby. It was such a shame that creatures such as the one he saw became muddied with the darkness that the humans have produced in the environment. Once again, the tainted creature confirmed to Edward that his mission was the right one.

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Character Portrait: Leo Behrends Character Portrait: Scout Character Portrait: Edward Killedge Character Portrait: Jax Character Portrait: Bandit Sephilan
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"I'm starting to feel nervous now...It's one thing to see the parties on the Holo-vision...But now that I look at myself and know that I am about go into a room full of humans, cameras and fellow mutants to basically present myself...Well it may not be hammering at scrap or tinkering with unstable machinery...But this is own type of difficult huh?...Well hopefully Mom and Dad can recognize me from this um...Makeover...Actually...Now that I think on it I look so different I think people would freak out when my face flashes on screen and see this face instead. Or better yet I hope some get a good laugh from this. I mean look at me, good old oil soaked Leo looking like a piece of art...Well...That makes my mood better, I can handle a little party. I mean if I can handle our colony's parties I can handle this party." He thought to himself as he softly smiled at the mirror.

"Alright Leo, it's time to make yourself seen. Come with me, it's time for the celebrations." Qiqi motioned for him to follow as he did so. While they walked through the pristine hallways once more his manager spoke up. "Listen Leo, this is going to be vital if you actually want to last in the death game. You look perfect thanks to my hands but I am going to need you to be on your best behavior...But judging how you have not insulted my products, argued or made any distasteful comment I can say I won't have to worry too much about an attitude problem. But keep your manners about you and sell yourself as a contestant who deserves a sponsor. I rather not have you dying on me, you need me and I need you after all. You obviously have some stake in this if you volunteer for this." Qiqi stated as Leo nodded.

"I see...Thanks for helping me out Miss Qiqi, we may have met each other for a bit but I will take your advice to heart. After all if we are going to work together and you're going to be helping me stay alive then you have my thanks. So I trust you...Not to be weird or anything of course..." He gave a nervous smile as Qiqi nodded.

"A good relationship is built on trust. You put your trust in me and you will be getting out of this alive. But I appreciate your thanks, and please don't get your suit dirty. I spent a while making you look presentable, so try to keep it dry and free of food particles." Qiqi added as Leo nodded in response. Soon enough they would arrive at the lounge with fellow humans and mutants gathered dressed in their best. And of course Leo felt that whole 'butterflies in the gut' feeling when you get a bit nervous.

"Play it well Leo, and remember what I said...As for your cybernetic arm even I can't make it look normal...But don't try to hide it I took that into account along your other eye so you should look great. Now enjoy yourself." Qiqi whispered to him as Leo gave a small gulp. "You got this Leo...It's a bit more fancy than you're used to but you can do this. At least I don't eat with my hands so I won't embarrass myself like that. But let's see the others gathered." He thought to himself as he gazed around the room. Food, drinks and the most important thing was his fellow competitors. A blonde haired young man who seemed to ooze confidence, a young brown haired teen who was on the shorter side of things...The fluffy looking teenage wolf girl. Despite visible signs of Ori and also looking like she had been through some fights in her life...And the fluffy looking...Tall young man!

Man those two fluffy looking people...He has heard of things that look fluffy but those ears! Those tails, especially the wolf girl's tail, looked like a perfect petting thing. But he should not just walk up and try to pet the tails and ears...He was smarter and not a creep after all. So to start things off...He simply walked over to a table with drinks and took a glass for himself. Smelled like...Wine? It's been a while since he had such a thing. But he did know you could use wine in cooking...If only he could get more wine one day to cook with more ingredients. But for now he should enjoy the food and drink like Qiqi suggested. Plenty of time to meet his fellows after all, of course that's if they actually would care for anyone speaking to them after all...

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Character Portrait: Leo Behrends Character Portrait: Scout Character Portrait: Edward Killedge Character Portrait: Jax Character Portrait: Ciara Character Portrait: Bandit Sephilan
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Sighing audibly, Ciara attempted a turn in her deeply constricting gown. Increments of black frilly fabric made up the draped collar, wrist ribbons and ends of her dress while a pattern of light and dark reds formed the base of the dress. A small dark bow was tied on the top of her head while similarly black ribbons were tied around the waist and stomach area. It was loud and deeply old-fashioned design and the worst part was her perpetrator was not finished with their preparations.

"Ciaaaara..!~" A voice cut through her efforts to lament, prompting the red-head to seek out a place to hide. Hearing scurrying and the pip-paps of barefeet, the manager would be greeted with silence, a fittingly white-noise quiet that made the paled-walled guest room that they were changing Ciara in seem truly empty. "Ciara! Come out! Don't make me count.." Only needing to saunter a few steps, the manager squatted down to look under one of the tables to find Ciara crouching under, closing her eyes shut and propping her hands atop her head.

Despite feeling Celty's breath, it seemed that Ciara believed the age-old notion that if she couldn't see her seeker then her seeker subsequently was unable to see her. A myth soon popped as Celty spoke to her face to face. "Don't be difficult."

Finally heeding her words, Ciara crawled from under the table and made her way to the middle of the room. Wearing a slight pout, her eyes formed a fitting glare as Celty reached for the add-ons they had placed onto the bed and begun to dress her with them. Her own fed-'upness readily apparent from her silent expression alone. Noticing this, Celty's face formed a similar stern scowl before speaking out with a huff of annoyance.

"Don't be such a wuss. My sense of style can't be that bad." As soon as the manager spoke those words, Ciara's eyes narrowed at Celty's transparent bubble-wrap top. Her autumn orbs fixated on the outlandish article of clothing before the slime girl wrenched her gaze back at Celty and cracked a smug smile.

"F*CK YOU DUDE!" With an expression that shifted from a studied calm to an almost primal fury, Celty let loose a growl at their mutant, tying the 7th ribbon around the girl's waist with an unkempt ferocity. Taking a few steps back, they looked at Ciara head-to-toe before nodding.

"You don't look half bad, all thanks to me, of course.." They placed a hand over their chin. Studying Ciara's simple expressions in an effort to derive a reaction, only to sigh once it was made clear that the slime girl was indifferent, as she was to everything. "Now, shoes. I don't wanna hear no moans. Put these on." Celty pulled out a pair of ruby heels, a shade of red that wasn't close to even matching the color of her dress.

Following her direct order, Ciara strolled over and slipped her feet inside. Her first few steps were horrendous, becoming close to tripping on her face after every pace. However, the slime-girl found her footing and was able to walk in her new shoes while only looking a little awkward.

"Now, I'll set you off. Again, to reiterate..don't eat like a slob and talk with people more. Ohoho." Smiling to themselves, Celty lightly shoved the balancing girl, seemingly enjoying watching her stumble in an attempt to regain her footing. Finally gaining her fill of watching her competitor trip about, they offered a hand to escort. Ciara clenching desperately onto their arm as they escorted her out and to the ballroom that their party was being held.

Celty deposited her at the door before waving her off. "Hehe..oh yeah, when meeting someone, ask them what their ideal spouse is!" Meaning their parting words as a joke, Ciara would undoubtedly mistake it as an order.

As she stumbled her way through the party room doors, her eyes instinctively zeroed in on any feast that accompanied the party, only to find the banquet was all the way on the other side of the room. Cursing her heeled feet, her curious gaze turned to study who had already arrived in the main lobby.

While her eyes could register the stimulus, her inability to read their emotions from a glance only made the gathered groups of people all the more confusing. It would be best for her to greet how she always has. Starting with the damper, sharp-eared gentleman in the lobby who was similarly studying the convened masses with a hostile expression.

At first, she only wanted a touch, leaning over and reaching to pat his back, only to trip on her heel and to stumble into him. Her attempts to grab at any handhold resulted in her wrapping her arms around the man's chest in an accidental caress, however she was in no hurry to remedy her mistake by pulling away. In fact, this was the best case scenario if she were able to dismiss conventional societal norms.

"Sorry." Her head angled up to meet his reactive over the shoulder gaze, Ciara seemingly uninterested in breaking off her hands as she continued to hold onto him with the upmost nonchalance.

From her deep touch, she could feel his emotions. Gathering notes of disgust and anger that seemingly festered inside of him like a perpetual flame. Her curiosity beckoned her to learn more, but her lack of passable etiquette made it difficult to naturally do so.

However..that did not deter her from trying.

"What is your ideal..spouse?" An outlandish question coupled with a butchered deadpan delivery, Ciara was setting the stage for a rather unforgettable first meeting.

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



A sense of unease filled him at the watchful eyes of a blonde. His gaze was unnerving somehow, he was different from the other mutants, his demeanor unsettling. Jax pulled his gaze away, an announcement letting them know that orientation would commence in thirty minutes. The snow leopard glanced at his reflection in the glass, straightening out his powder blue suit. Underneath it was a black shirt and paisley tie, not an outfit Jax would pick for himself, as it was most certainly too loud for his liking. Axel had picked it out, stressing the importance of standing out. If Jax wanted to attract the attention of sponsors, this was the way to go.

Jax's stomach was grumbling, that's right, he had skipped lunch, having to rush to get here. It was now nearly dinner time. There was a table laid out with an assortnment of food, since the dining room was currently closed. Jax had his eyes set on it when he noticed another gaze. A man, short, maybe a teenager? Gazing at him. Jax's tail flickered as he observed, his cool gaze settling on him. He veered from the food table, heading in the direction of the lounge.

Cybernetics, those were unmistakable, but they were expensive. How had a mutant gotten their hands on it? Jax stopped a few feet away from the man, taking him in. He was definitely older, with slight wrinkles around his eyes, probably from laughing or smiling in abundance. The mutant had scales, almost unnoticable and an unmistakable cybernetic arm. Was it stolen? It wasn't uncommon for mutants to fish from human trash.

No, from up close, it was a little more rustic, not shiny enough or flashy enough to be human made. "I'm impressed," Jax would not lean in closer to take a look, as that was rude. Then again, he was rasied by humans and not mutants, who seemed to have no qualms with entering your personal space without warning. "Did you make that arm?" Jax extended a hand, where were his manners? "My name is Jax, I'm a Doctor, so your cybernetics caught my attention." Or at least, he was a Doctor before entering this game.

Of course, he had no real degree or oath and his training came from the woman that had raised him after he had escaped the ships, but Jax never let an injured mutant slip through his fingers. People traveled from far and wide across the Tundra to come to him. He knew plants and herbs that could stop a fever, six different types of stitches to sew cuts, and how to diagnose various ailments based on vague symptoms.

"You must be pretty handy with a set of tools." Someone to make note of, depending on his answer. Perhaps in the future, an alliance might be in order. Jax was already thinking strategically, attempting to maximize his chances of survival.

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While Leo was sparingly sipping from his glass of wine being mindful not to drink himself to a stupor before he could actually do an interview. His attention soon picked up the sound of footsteps approaching him and the tall young man with a suit and his fluffy assets had approached him and commented on his cybernetic arm. Well, he seemed amicable enough. For one he was actually making small talk with him for one. He gave a small smile in response. "Ah noticed my arm? Yeah I made it myself after I lost it in an accident. I was working on an old generator, thing was unstable and I did my best to get it working. It exploded taking my arm with it but I managed to keep the whole thing from going up in flames...So I did my best to salvage enough parts and after making a new arm and making sure my organic bits worked well with the mechanical parts I was almost as good as new." He gave a small nervous laugh. At least his leg and eye were from things out of his control compared to the explosion.

"But pleased to meet you doctor. I'm just your normal hard working cook and mechanic lizardman from Belinian. Names Leo. Leo Behrends. I hope we can get along despite these death games looming over us." He introduced himself raising his glass a little bit. "Truth be told, I don't intend to actually cause anyone harm or injury. Call me an idiot, but I want to help the others. But I'm surprised a doctor like you is participating in these games...Then again I have no right to judge, I signed up knowing the risks to my life so honestly I'm probably the only friendly hopeful idiot that came here." He added with a smile, scratching the back of his head with his organic hand before laughing nervously.

Probably not the best idea to simply just speak freely, then again the man Leo was talking to had no reason to trust him of course. Appearing friendly in a death game for glory and wealth? Either you really are an idiot or you are trying to act nice to kill people. At least that what most people would assume. But he hoped they could get along...Of course he kept his mouth closed about his ears and tails. He rather not come out as weird.

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



Jax listened to the story of the generator, his tail swishing with casual interest. So the reptile had made it then? That was what Jax had wanted to know. It seemed that the boy (man? Jax had yet to make up his mind) was quite handy, considering his tale of tinkering with a highly dangerous and explosive device. "That sounds quite precarious," Jax responded, realizing that the story had ended and he had yet to say anything. "I've treated quite a few burns," Jax had even amputated limbs, as it was sometimes necessary, although unfortunate. It was probably Jax's least favorite part of medicine.

You couldn't save everyone, it was a lesson he had learned early on. As much as you wanted to, as much as you tried, some would simply never recover. Some did not have the fortitude to bounce back.

This man (boy?) seemed to not only have the resiliance, but the skill set to match it. Jax would definitely file this information away, he could prove useful in the future. He introduced himself as Leo, a lizard mutant. Odd, Jax had never considered introducing himself with the species he was mixed with. He had always assumed it was snow leapord, since that was what he was told, but Jax had always wodnered if there was something else mixed in with his blood, since he did not know who donated the necessary parts to make him.

He had joined to help others? Jax couldn't help but laugh. "That is a strange reason to join a killing game." No, Jax decided, nevermind. This was too obscene, someone that signed up for a game of death to help others? There was no way he was going to last very long. Did he have any practical skills aside from being a mechanic? Could he make weapons? Any fighting ability?

Jax wanted an equal partnership, not a possible burden he would have to protect and eventually turn on. "You seem very kind Leo, but also a bit confused. This isn't a place you come to to help others," even Jax had his reasons for joining. He wanted to see his sisters again and the only way to guarantee that was to kill. Leo expressed surprise that a doctor would join these games. His skills would only serve as an advantage, should he need them later on.

Unless... Leo was lying and didn't want to reveal his motivation.

"I think you are mistaken, I may be a doctor, but I also know a great many ways to kill a man." It was not a threat, just a casual comment. "I'm sure you must understand, however, that everyone here has something they are after. You're a friendly guy so I will give you a word of advice, don't trust anyone here. They will not hesitate to turn on you if it will give them the upper hand."

Jax was getting hungry, he wanted to make sure that he could get something to eat before orientation started.

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Leo listened to the Leopard man speak about some of his experiences as a doctor, but just one thing about treating a few burns. Of course with no surprise to Leo, his conversational partner of course commented on his choice to join a killing game as strange, and gave him a few important tips that he of course took. It would be happy thinking and blind optimism to believe everyone's words at face value, and he knew not everyone did not have the best of intentions in this game. Some of course were willing to kill at all costs to make a better life...Of course the doctor of course explained that he knew how to kill people...Working with a person's body and learning where all the vital parts were rather handy to keep people alive...Or kill them...

He soon nodded after listening to Jax. "Thanks for the advice, I know I am not going to be a hero and convince everyone to not kill each other. Times are tough after all, people have to eat, people have to drink, people need medicine and people want their family and friends to have a better life. And the rewards offered upon winning this game of death is enough to last your whole life and then some." He started taking a sip from his wine wishing he had a smoke instead of a glass of wine while having casual conversation. "But still, I'm 48 years old and so far the only winning I see are those who make bets deciding who is going to die first. I just feel like some of the others have plenty to live for you know. I mean I'm basically an old man at this point." He gave a small chuckle pointing to his white hair.

"I lived a good life so far, salvaging cool mechanical scrap, coming up with cooking recipes for the future generation to give it a try to make their meals much better than what most can scrounge up. Made a toaster and made something resembling toast. But look at the others, most look young and rough around the edges. They participated in this death game possibly because they have no other option. It’s either hit a dead end or crawl through hell and hellfire for the comfiest bed in the world. I wanna at least give them a hand you know? Even if they don't change their mind I don't want them to rush to their deaths. Some have families, loved ones and friends who could miss them. So I'm gonna cheer them up a little. Even if its dumb in many peoples eyes...Oh and don't worry about me not doing anything to protect myself." He shook his head.

"I'm not going to act like some martyr, doing such a thing won't really do anything. And it's not like I won't be prepared to defend myself if someone tries to kill me. I dislike fighting but I won't simply lay down my arms to be killed. With age comes experience you know? I know the landscape like the back of my hand...Metal hand I guess?" He gave another small chuckle.

"Still...I'm not just worried about the other contestants. I'm more worried about everything surrounding this death game. I been alive long enough and sometimes you can sense things...Or maybe its because my lizard like instincts are just naturally aware...Its still entertainment for people after all...And some called it bonding but I don't think you can really bond watching people murder each other for wealth and reward...But that's just me, sorry for jabbing on like that. But it's nice to talk to other people, I mostly interacted with fellow lizardmen, so seeing someone like you is rather interesting. We are all reptilian like and we work with a lot of metal and scrap to build. So seeing something fluffy is a legendary luxury." He softly laughed.

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



Perhaps it was too early to discount Leo after all. He would not go down without a fight. Still, his motviation made no sense, leading Jax that he had reason to believe that Leo was lying to him. Alright, Leo did not have to share why he had signed up for this contest, Jax would not either. No one was privy to that information, at least, until Axel would feel the need to broadcast it to the world. Leo was older than he looked, Jax was impressed. He would not have pegged Leo for 48. 25 at the most, but 48? Jax's tail swished. "You look awfully young." Was there something in the lizard people that allowed them to retain their youthfulness? Or was it simply a family gene? Jax would have to research this further if he had the time.

"The game is merely a ruse," Jax's voice was low, tail flickering in annoyance. He recalled living on the ships, being forced to watch the Games. "It's an excuse to thin the herd," to Jax, the Games had always been a way to instill a false sense of hope. Yet, here he was, using it as an excuse to board Father in what might be a desperate attempt to rescue his sisters from living as mutant toys for the rest of their lives. Jax didn't know how much longer he had left. His body was artificial, his life span was not guaranteed. Supposedly, Leo had never met anything outside of the lizard species. Interesting, that would add to his strange sense of priorities. "I suppose a meeting like this might be considered a luxury." You had mutants from all over New Earth.

Isolation can do strange things to the mind. "Interesting, well Leo, it was a pleasure meeting you. I am going to have to excuse myself, as I would like to get something to eat before orientation starts." With only a few minutes left until it began, Jax was not sure when they would be given food next. He headed towards the food table, slightly disappointed to find that it was really only snacks. Beautifully frosted cakes, a large assortment of fresh cookies, a rainbow of puddings, and glasses of wine; all set delicately on multi-tiered trays on top of a holographic tablecloth. Everything was small, meant to be eaten in only a few bites to avoid a mess. That made sense, Jax thought, considering the rather expensive clothing they had been adorned in.

What to pick? His mind went over the options. Wine? No, it was still too early for a drink. Cookies would provide short term satisfaction, but he would have to eat four or five of them for temporary satiation. Cake was a better option, but the frosting might prove problematic should it get on his light colored suit. His gaze turned towards the pudding, in small crystal cups which reflected the light of the tablecloth. An idea came to mind, his tail swishing in delight of his sudden genius. Jax picked up a small crystal cup of chocolate pudding and two square shaped cookies, he could crumble the cookies into the pudding for a combination of satiation and satisfaction.

Now, where to sit? The lounge was an easy option, as it had plenty of space to spread out, but wandering back into that territory could mean re-encountering Leo and that would be awkward considering Jax had just excused himself. The lawn seemed to be a popular choice, but Jax was worried about potential grass stains. The gym was an immediate no, that was no place for food. The dining room? Yes, that seemed to be the best option. There were a few other mutants there, each occupying their own table with their own selection of food. Jax settled himself on a chair that was a bit too short, his tail sticking out awkwardly behind him. He was careful as he crumbled the first cookie into his pudding, minimizing crumb spillage.

"Hello there," Jax looked up, having just taken a bite of his concoction when he noticed a figure standing over the table. "Do you mind if I join you?" Slightly annoyed, Jax's eyes darted left and right, indicating that there were plenty of other seats. The figure in question had skin that reminded him of the night sky and hair the color of starlight. She was adorned in a red dress with a deep plunge and a mask with a single eye over it. "Not at all," Jax scooted his dessert slightly closer to himself.

The woman had a plate of cookies, each a various shade and shape. "I couldn't help but notice you Mr...."

"Please, call me Jax," the snow leopard offered a hand. The other mutant shook it daintily, but he could tell her grip had strength to it. "Mr. Jax, I noticed you were sitting all by your lonesome self." Jax attempted to disguise his annoyance and desire to be alone with a smile. "Well, I was rather hungry." He replied, the woman reflecting his smile with one of her own. "My name is Eclipse," she picked up one of her cookies and waved it just underneath his nose. "And I too am absolutely starving." His tail stiffened, hair standing up on edge.

Ah, so that was her intention.

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Jax swirled the contents of his wine glass, standing beside Axel as a human woman fawned over his tail. "So immaculate," she cooed, reaching out to pet it. Jax was used to being treated like a toy, an object to be admired and played with. The woman ran her fingers through his fur, the sound she made making Jax slightly uncomfortable. Things like this were why Jax loved New Earth. No one looked at him like this. "Well Madame Vonda, if you'd like, I can arrange a private interview, if you do decide to sponsor Mr. Bug," Jax's smile was pleasant, but did not quite reach his eyes. "It would be an honor," he took Madame Vonda's hand, kissing her palm. "To make more intimate acquaintance with you." He winked, Madame Vonda seeming to melt on the spot. She fanned herself with her free hand, her cheeks heating up to the same color as her bright red lipsticks.

"Well, I think we can arrange something." She cooed, Jax releasing her hand. He turned away as Axel stepped forward to seal the deal, subtly wiping his mouth on a napkin. Her hands smelled like citrine and dogwood, her perfume was clashing with whatever hand lotion she had on. "Jax," Axel cleared his throat. "There is another sponsor waiting to meet you," he indicated towards the line of humans. While Jax's smile remained polite, inside he felt sick.

The party, the music, the wine, the combination of it was resurfacing memories he would have rather kept drowned. "I need a quick break," Jax spoke softly. "A break?" Axel repeated, bemused. Jax nodded, Axel shifting, pondering the idea. "Two more, then you can go." Jax internally groaned, but faced forward. He made a show of greeting the small crowd, wanting to vomit. "You are quite the unique looking mutant," a woman with a hat made of feathers commented, "easy on the eyes." The feeling of nausea doubled down.

"Thank you," Jax's voice remained soft. "Alright, how much?" She turned to Axel. "A help basket is 1,000 Viz. A name is 10,000." She looked Jax up and down once more, as though to determine his value. "Alright, I'll go for 1,000." She reached her wrist out, Axel ushing a pocket pod to scan it. "Thank you, we greatly appreciate your sponsorship." Jax waved as she walked away, seemingly satisfied with herself. "I want a name on the first Game," a man winked. "It seems like the ladies have their eyes on you."

"Mr. Desmond, what a generous contribution. Do you want to arrange a private interview?" The man flapped his wrist and shook his head. "No need, I'm not interested in men. Although with a face like that, who knows, maybe I'll change my mind." He winked, holding out his wrist for Axel to scan with the pocket pod. Jax's tail flickered with something akin to contempt. "Nerves getting to you?" Axel asked as they moved away from the line of humans and towards the refreshments.

"What nerves?" Axel replied, picking up another glass of wine. He was going to need it if he was to make it through the night.

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"You have a pretty face," A mutant remarked, standing beside him. Jax's manager had run off somewhere with another, no doubt to conspire behind his back. "It's too bad I'll have to mark it up on the battlefield," He had white hair and striking blue eyes, white wings sprouting from his back that made his comment seem anything but angelic. Jax grinned behind his cup, his tail flickering with curiosity. "Those are strong words coming from a man who looks as though he's never worked a day in his life." The mutant blanched, grinding his teeth, his grasp on his drink no longer steady. "What did you say to me mutant?"

"Watch your tongue, or I might have to cut it out," Jax sipped his drink. He did not take threats lightly, not when he was determined to achieve his goal. Jax was normally mild mannered, but he did not enjoy being threatened with death or mutilation. "And for the record, you are a mutant too." The snow leopard placed his glass down, feeling slightly dizzy. Was Jax drunk? Perhaps that was why his tongue had become a bit looser. What was in that cup? He had absently picked one, finding the flavor to be mild and pleasant and then had had three more. He should have been more careful with his choices.

"Excuse me sir, would you like to try a pig in a blanket?" A mutant dressed in a sparkling two piece, holding a silver tray full of bite-sized delicacies waved it just beneath his nose. "Sure," perhaps food would clear up this odd feeling inside of him. Was this meat? The smell of it made his mouth water slightly. "I'll take five," Each one was thin and small, meat wrapped in flaky dough that crumbled in his hands. He was careful, not wishing to get his suit dirty. Where was Axel? Jax whirled around, popping another pig in a blanket in his mouth.

Perhaps he should just forget the social hour and go to bed, the beginnings of a headache were coming on. How many of those cups had he drank? Jax could hardly remember. He should have been wary, he should've been on guard, but instead, he was standing in the corner eating finger foods off of a tiny glass plate. How pitiful the doctor's life had become in a matter of hours. "Oh, there you are." Axel had appeared out of nowhere by his elbow, "Enjoying yourself?" He had a smile on his face, Jax had the feeling he had secured something of value.

"I am enjoying these," he raised his plate. Somehow, he had procured more tiny foods. "How many glasses of Jungle Punch did you drink?" Axel asked, slightly amused. "I lost count," Jax grumbled. Axel laughed, "Well, I guess I found your catnip." Jax let out a low growl. Axel laughed, looking down at his holo tab for a moment. "I hope you don't mind, I've taken the liberty of ordering you a special training outfit for your debut tomorrow." He winked, "I'm sure all of our female sponsors are going to love it."

"No," Jax replied simply, wiping his mouth with a napkin. He had finished eating, his head feeling a little bit clearer. "Oh, don't be like that. You're gonna love it." Jax had the sense that he would not love it. "I'm leaving," Jax placed his plate down, walking away. "Where are you going!" Axel called, running after him. "To bed," In the Tundra, he could have gone outside into the cold air to help clear his head, here, he would have to settle for the bedroom. "Fine, but you better show up to the gym tomorrow!" Axel called after him, Jax's ears twitching to pick out his voice.

His room was far too warm. Jax loosened the bowtie around his neck and turned towards the thermostat, he needed to make it colder in here. He slung his jacket and pants over the back of a chair and stumbled into the bathroom. "Da**it," his head was much too foggy. No, he would just skip brushing his teeth tonight. Was there mouthwash? There, that would do it. Jax stumbled into bed, pulling the covers over his body as the room cooled. Much better.

With a bearable room temperature and a bed like a cloud, Jax drifted off easily.

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Jax was comfortable, in his blanket nest, feeling too lazy to move. His tail flickered back and forth, large and fluffy. He groaned, figuring that he couldn't stay in bed forever. "Gotta get up," Jax had something of a migraine, a hangover from last night. No matter, he would just visit the sick hall and ask for a shot of hangover reverser. It had been a popular solution to the hangover problem, when he had lived on one of the ships the first time.

The technology of the bedroom was familiar to him, he was able to use the control panel with ease. A hot shower helped ease the throbbing in his head, although not completely. In his closet was a pair of black workout pants and a white top, simple, but effective. He dressed slowly, taking his time to prepare for the day. Would he see his manager at all? Jax wasn't sure. Outside in the hallway, the cams were already busy infiltrating what little privacy they had. They were drifting around, operated by humans. Jax had forgotten about this part, the complete invasion of personal space.

Well, he had voluntarily signed up for this.

There was no avoiding the prying eyes. Jax navigated quickly to the door with the large red cross on it. Even up here, the symbol for medical care was universal. "Excuse me?" The bright flourescent lights made Jax flinch. "Is there a nurse or a med bot in here that can assist me?" If not, he could just rifle around on his own. Jax knew what he was looking for, after all. "Please scan your band on the reader," a mechanical voice came from behind a curtain.

The reader was sitting on a desk, a small metal circle that illuminated when he tapped his band against it. "Welcome contestant J-A-X. Please have a seat while you wait." Jax was content to stand. Aside from one area closed off by a curtain, he seemed to be the only one there. Had someone gotten injured already? Maybe alcohol poisoning?

"Patient J-A-X, please go to bed 1B." Jax pushed off of the wall, having only been made to wait a minute. The curtain closed automatically as soon as he stepped into the square, the clear material suddenly becoming opaque. The bed was a standard gurney, the linens still smelling like fresh starch. It was not the most comfortable to sit on, but that was probably the point, to keep mutants from lingering.

Jax wished that he could dim the lights, they were only making his migraine worse. The leopard scrubbed a hand over his face, hoping to get this over with quickly.

"Good morning," a chipper voice pushed the curtain aside. A mutant with pink hair and a curly tail. She had floppy puppy ears and wore a white lab coat with a big red cross on it. "My name is Doctor Chancy, what seems to be the problem today?" Did she always work on the ship? Or perhaps she had been brought here because they knew that mutants would never trust a human doctor?

"I need a reversal shot for my hangover." Jax was trying to be polite and refrained from rubbing his temples. "Oh? That's all? I'm surprised you know about those," she smiled, jotting something down on her holo tab. "I'm a doctor myself," Jax admitted. Doctor Chancy's eyes became alight with curiosity. Human doctors were a dime a dozen, mutants on the other hand, rarely had the opportunity to study medicine. "Really? Where did you come from?" She went to the wall, pushing on a panel, the wall lighting up with a display. She was quick to type in the code for the medicine.

"The Tundra," a second compartment opened, a vial and syringe in a basket. "Oh, I have family there. Do you mind taking off your pants for me?" Doctor Chancey smiled. "You can use the blanket on the bed to cover yourself, I'll turn around until you're done."

It was an intramuscular shot into the thigh. Jax rolled his pants down, draping the blanket over his torso. "Alright, I'm ready." the alcohol pad was cold against his skin. Doctor Chancy was quick, Jax barely able to feel the injection. She put a bandage on it when she was done, disposing of the needle quickly. "There you go, all done. If you want, you can lay here and wait for it to work, which should be about ten minutes. If you need anything, I'll be at the desk." Jax nodded, watching her leave. He waited until she pulled the curtain back before pulling his pants back up and laying down on the bed, draping an arm across his eyes.

Slowly, the migraine began to ease, he could breathe a little easier. Next time he went to a party, he would have to be more careful about what he drank.

After ten minutes, Jax rose, feeling much better. He waved to the doctor on his way out to let her know she aws going and made his way to breakfast. By the time Jax arrived, it was crowded with competitors.

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The gym was not a place to just test your skills with weapons, no. They had become a hunting grounds of their own; a place to scope out the weaker competition and mark them down for extermination once the Games began. Jax obsereved from the sidelines, his tail swishing back and forth. There was a gathering around the blue mats for one particular match, a wolfish girl against a man with white hair. Jax turned away, unable to stomach the violence.

He was quiet, for the most part, keeping to himself. He knew he wasn't physically the strongest and despite the sword disguised as a cane that he carried, he was nowhere near as versed in using it as some of the other mutants. In truth, his life in the mountains was rather peaceful. No one bothered the doctor because most owed him something. His restful life could prove troublesome later down the road. The only way to rectify where he lacked was to practice and so, he strode towards the wall of prop weapons with blunt edges, each a different size and weight.

His support item was on the lighter side, it was smaller as well. Perhaps he had doomed himself with it, considering its length. Maybe his height would be able to make up for lack of distance. "I guess this will work," Jax headed towards the dummies that were available for them to use. The problem with a space like this was that there was little to no instruction, not unless your fellow mutant was feeling generous.

He looked at his target, wondering if he should merely practice swinging, or maybe prodding. He swung, the impact reverberating through his wrist. That was no good, he swung again, this time with two hands. It was a bit steadier, but if he kept this up, he was going to injure himself. "What are you doing?" Axel asked, coming up from behind him. Jax turned, careful not to swing the sword. "Practicing, why?" He had barely gotten into it when his handler sought him out.

They were not managers, Jax had quickly realized. They were here to handle their competitors, not manage them. "Your grip is a lot weaker than I thought. With arms like those, I assumed you'd be strong. Guess I was wrong," Axel sighed, hanging his head. After all, this was bad for business. Jax glowered, tail flicking in annoyance. "The entire point of this room is to get stronger, isn't it?" Still, he wasn't the weakest by far. There were mutants much smaller than him, struggling to lift weights. "I guess you'll just have to train hard. If you need to, you can go to the rec room and watch vids on how to use that," he gestured to the sword.

That was probably a good idea. Jax went to put the sword back, Axel following him. "Anyhow, you have an interview, so get changed and meet me in the lobby."

"With whom?" He turned, staring at Axel suspiciously. "Private sponsor, he doesn't like crowds, so he was a no show at the party last night. Seemed pretty interested in you though." Jax slapped Axel on the back in what was supposed to be a friendly gesture. "So make sure to give him your best smile."

Jax nodded, the two parting ways outside the gym. The fight behind him ended with a cheer and two humans rushed towards their injured competitors. Jax rolled his eyes at the commotion, to get so worked up before the Games was a bad idea. Still, maybe going hand-to-hand wouldn't be the worst thing if he was to grow stronger.

The clothes waiting in the closet were a navy three piece with gold embroidery. There was a black shirt to go underneath it and shoes that were so clean, Jax could see his own reflection in them. He met Axel in the lobby, as instructed, his handler leading him to the doors. He had to scan his wrist to make the heavy lock open, the doors quick to emit them and even faster to close behind them. "This way, I've set up a private room." They took an elevator to the fifth floor of the ship, the bustle of humans much denser here. "Nearly there," the smell of alochol hit him in the nose like a punch. Mutant senses were sharper than a human's, it was one of their few advantages.

Jax knew it was a casino before they crossed the threshold. Gambling was a favorite pasttime of many humans, but their gambling was a bit different. There were not always coins and chips, sometimes-

"Kill that bastard!"

"You've gotta be kidding me? It died already!"

"C'mon, I had twenty thousand credits on it!"

His ears flattened against his head to tune out their woes and cheers. "In here," Axel scanned his wrist against a doorway made to look like curtains. Jax ducked inside, the mini bar having already been raided by whoever was inside. "So this is it?" A man stood up to greet them. He stuck out a hand that had smooth flesh, no callouses or bumps. "The name's Chevy, Chevy Raider. I'm very interested in you boy, take a seat. Oi! Poor the mute a glass!"

From behind velvet curtains came a mutant with silvery hair. She wore a dress that left little to the imagination and around her neck was a thick collar. Both mutants stood frozen for a moment, their eyes flickering in recognition.

Even after not having seen one another for years, the siblings would recognize one another anywhere.

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The noise absorbing mesh in the curtains blocked out the sound outside, but it was still far too loud in the room. His heart was a thunderous roar in his ears, Jax sat down slowly. He had been told that his sister was not on this ship. Had he been deliberately lied to? Or had she been sent here for the Games? Just like Jax, Three struggled to pretend not to recognize him. She poured their drinks with carefully practiced hands, no doubt having done this thousands of times. Chevy reached out suddenly, grabbing Three's arm. "What is this?" He looked down at the amber colored liquid she had poured. "You brought out the cheap stuff, why?" He shoved her away, not giving her enough time to answer. Chevy rose, taking both glasses and shoving them into Three's arms, causing it to spill down her dress.

Jax's foot tapped against the ground, his teeth grinding silently in his jaw. The ears on his head were upright and slightly forward, his tail stiff. Jax wanted to punch Chevy in the nose. Violence here would only get him arrested, he needed to remain calm. Three was sent away, a different mutant coming out with a decanter full of almost identical liquid, only this one was slightly darker in hue. "That's better, sorry you had to see that." The human sat back down, smirking as the new drink was poured. Jax did not touch it.

"Now, where were we? Oh, right. I want to sponsor you, kid." Jax was not a kid. "I think you've got the looks and wit to take this year's Games." He hooked his thumb to point at himself "And when that happens, I want my brand to be associated with your face." Jax's nails dug into the armrest of the nice leather chair. "What is it you're thinking of?" He asked, attempting to maintain a neutral expression with the man that had just jostled his little sister.

"I want our sponsorship to be exclusive."

Axel cleared his throat, leaning forward. "I apologize, but Jax already had multiple sponsors, we cannot promise exclustivity." The room was quiet a moment, the atmosphere suddenly tense. "What's your highest offer?" Chevy suddenly asked. Axel looked at his holo tab, "Two million credits."

"I'll double-no, triple it. Yeah, I'll triple that. Six million credits for it." Jax rose suddenly, he did not want to be around to hear his life getting bid for. "Excuse me a moment, I have to use the facilities." He disappeared behind the curtain, needing a moment to himself.

There was a perfume Three had been wearing, he had caught a whiff of it when she had poured him a glass. It smelled like roses and vanilla, a scent that had almost been masked completely by the smell of alcohol and body order frequenting the casino. He followed it slowly to a backroom, the sound of quiet sobs almost almost drowned out by the noise of slot machines and droids yelling out payouts. Jax knocked cautiously and stepped back, waiting.

The sobbing stopped, replaced by the sound of shuffling, then silence. He waited there for a minute, almost two, and just before giving up, the door opened enough for him to see a single eye. "Who are you?" A growl came, there was no need to play nice with another mutant. "You know who I am." Jax replied quietly, his voice calm, gentle. The door opened a little bit more, she was still wearing the dress that had been spilled on. Three looked around, then grabbed his wrist, pulling him inside.

It was a wine cellar, with no other light aside from a dim LED that flickered above them, casting a shadow across the ground. "One," Three breathed, taking him in, as though she did not quite believe it. She stepped back, circling him. "You look... different. You've grown, gained weight." A slow grin spread across her face, "it looks good on you." Jax took off his jacket, placing it around her shoulders. "How are you? Where is Two?" Her face crumpled, his heart hammered in his chest, fearing the worst. "They... separated us. Last I heard, she was still on Mother." He sighed with relief, glad that she was still alive.

"What do they call you now?" Three wanted to know, a curious light in her eyes. "My name is Jax, given to me by the mutant that sheltered me on earth. She taught me a lot of things, I've been living as a doctor in the Tundra." Three seemed impressed. "So why would you ever come back to this h*ll hole?" It was a fair question.

"For you... and for Two. Once I win the Games-"

"You should know better than anyone, there is no winning." Her expression was alarmed, "I know, I know, but this year... it's going to be different, I can feel it. I need to go back now, but I promise, I'm going to get you and Two out of here."

"And when you do... can I have a name too?"

"Yes, you can pick any name you like." Jax grinned, backing towards the door. "Oh, your coat!" He held up a hand, "Keep it, you need it more than I do." She nodded, Jax returning to the meeting, where Axel had managed to close a deal. [b]"Let's drink to our new partnership!" Chevy announced, a mutant pouring them another round.

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It was a restless night for Jax, much of it having been spent tossing and turning. He had nightmares of his past, ones he hadn't had in years Jax could still feel hands on his body, the unpleasant warmth, the violating feeling of waking up in a bed that wasn't your own. He had moved to the plush carpet with one foot sticking out of the blanket, the projection of the clock on the ground beside him almost seeming frozen in time. It was still early when Jax gave up on sleep, peeling himself up from the mattress and trudged to the bathroom.

The shower was turned to cold. Jax scrubbed himself with perfumed soaps, rubbing at his skin until it felt raw.

It wasn't enough to get the feeling off.

He sat beneath the stream until his stomach growled, reminding him that he needed to move. Jax was slow to turn the handle, the stream of cold water cut off, leaving him numb. He grabbed a mint tab, his tail flicking, shaking off excess water. The towel felt too heavy, too warm. Still, Jax wrapped it around his waist, attempting to wrangle his silvery hair into something more presentable.

When at last he emerged from his room, the breakfast rush was in full swing. "Sorry," someone brushed up against him, Jax stiffening. "It's fine," a woman with monarch wings paused to look back at him. She smiled apologetically before moving past forward, standing in line in front of him. "I saw you," she began to speak. "The first night at the party. You were drinking those bevs like they were going to go out of style." There was a mischevious look in her eyes.

She was pretty, with silvery hair and golden jewelry that she wore over her tracksuit. "I needed something to take the edge off." Jax replied casually, shrugging as though those bevs hadn't landed him in the sick bay the next morning. She threw her head back, laughing. "That I understand, but six?" The monarch leaned forward, as though she were going to tell him a secret. Instead, she looked him up and down, perhaps sizing up the competition. "I'm Thorne," the butterfly woman leaned back at last, offering him a hand.

"Jax," Jax replied, pushing his fatigue aside to make conversation. It was nice that not everyone was so hostile against other competitors. "Would you want to sit with my friend and me for breakfast?" Friend? Jax blinked, wondering if her brushing against him had not been as coincidental as he thought.

"Sure," it was better than eating alone again. Jax grabbed a tray, making sure to grab a tall cup of coffee before joining them by their table, nestled close to the entrance. "This is Ten," Thorne introduced her friend, who had six wings sticking out of her back from all angles. "Ten is a little bit shy," Thorne explained, Ten hiding her mouth behind her coffee cup. "I'm Jax," he offered a hand, which she tentitively took. Ten's grip was weak, or maybe she just didn't like other people.

"Anyhow, what do two winged mutants want with a flightless cat?" Jax looked between them before delving into what the server had called waffles. He poured hot syrup on top, deciding that waffles might just be his new favorite food. "Well..." Ten began, trailing off. Her cheeks turned pink, perhaps embarrassed by whatever she might say next. "We thought you looked strong," Thorne jumped in, finishing the thought of her counterpart. "So we wanted to propose a deal."

A deal? This could prove more interesting than Jax thought. His terrible morning was quickly getting better. "What kind of deal?" The leopard wiped his mouth on a napkin, having cleaned his plate. "Lessons. Teach us how to fight. In exchange, we'll help you during the first game."

Jax thought about it for a moment. He weighed his options, knowing that help during the first round could mean survival. "Alright," Jax decided at last, figuring that he had more to gain than lose. "I'll help you," perhaps it was the doctor in him that wanted to prevent as much death as possible, or maybe it was the temptation of having a momentary ally that made him accept.

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"So all I have to do is point this and press the trigger?" Thorne tilted her head, curious. She swung her upper body around, pointing the fake gun at Jax. "Yeah, but never point it at your allies." He gently guided the nozzle of the fake gun back to the ground. Thorne nodded, "Got it," she grinned. "This will be easy," Jax stood behind her, arms crossed, watching as Thorne took aim, pointing the BB gun at the target. She fired, hitting the edge of the paper target. "I did it! Did you see that?" Thorne asked, grinning. "That was great," Jax agreed, nodding.

Ten was sitting on the bench behind them, her hands balled into fists on her lap. "Now try this," he stood beside her, guiding her arms. Jax's teacher had taught him to shoot, but he had never really liked guns. While he wasn't a good shot, he still knew how to load, aim, and shoot a handgun. "You see that? That's called your sight, you'll want to line that up with your target."

"Your tail is so soft," Throne suddenly giggled. His tail was nudging her leg, always having a mind of its own. His cheeks turned bright red and he stepped back. Jax coughed into his elbow, "Anyway, try using the sight." Thorne nodded, excitedly turning back to the target. She closed one eye, hitting closer to the center. "I did it! Did you see that?" She squealed, her mannerism completely different then when she had introduced herself earlier.

Jax had thought Thorne to be sly and cheeky, but she was childish and giddy. Ten was exactly the same, quiet and shy. "Do you want to try?" He offered to Ten, who shook her head insistantly. She opened her mouth, then closed it, biting down on her lip, hard enough to draw blood.

Alarmed, his doctor instincts kicked in. "Are you okay?" He asked, kneeling beside where she sat while Thorne went at it with the BB gun. "I-I-" tears of frustration welled up in Ten's eyes. It was clear that this injury was more than skin deep. "Can I see?" He asked, grabbing a clean towel from the warmer next to them. Ten stiffened, then nodded. Carefully, Jax tilted her head up, wiping up the blood that had begun to dribble down her chin.

"Can I ask why you entered this contest? It really seems like you don't want to be here."

"I don't want to be here!" Ten suddenly yelled, "I want to go home." She choked, fat tears welling up in the corners of her eyes. "But I can't." He pulled the towel away, her hands covering her face as she sobbed.

"You can leave, no one is forcing you to be here." There was nothing worth risking your life for if you didn't want to. "You don't understand, I can't leave!" Ten shook her head, hiccuping. Jax rose, grabbing her some water and another towel for her to wipe her eyes with. "I owe- I owe a-a l-lot of mo-money!" She wheezed, attempting to breathe between sobs. "I-if I le-leave the-they'll k-k-kill m-my fa-fa-fam-family!"

"Who will?"

"The mercenaries!" The pain in her voice was palpabable. Just like Jax was here to save his sisters, Ten was here to save those that she held close to her. Her hands pulled away and Jax offered the water to her. Gratefully, Ten took it, using the towel to dry her tears and calm herself down. "They said they would send a wolf if I didn't pay back the money I owed. I stupidly took out a lone to pay for medication for my sister's baby. I thought I would be able to pay it back, but then I got fired from my job and this was the only way I could earn back the money."

Jax didn't need to win, technically. He already located one sister, he just needed to find the other and then he could drop out, they could escape together. Ten, on the other hand, needed this.

"What about Thorne? What is she here for?"

"She came with me. We were friends back home too. When she heard what I was gonna do, she said that she would come with me no matter what." As though having been summoned, Thorne plopped herself down on the bench beside Ten, wrapping a protective arm around her. "If I win, I can help Ten's family and if she wins, her's will be saved."

"So we just have to make sure one of you wins." They seemed surprised, suspicious. "What about you?" Ten asked, her voice still small, barely above a squeak. "It doesn't matter if I win or not." He replied cryptically. If they were suspicious, they said nothing.

"Well, why don't we go eat lunch? I know that the pain can't be fixed, but cake always does a good job at quelling some of it." They rose to go eat, Jax dropping the used towels in the bin.

If he had looked behind him, he would have seen that Thorne's target had a large hole, right in the center.

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



"There you are," Axel seemed relieved to have found him. Jax was sitting in the recreational room, exploring the different resources there. It was empty, aside from a mutant who was dusting off a case of tabletop games. Jax had come in here to find information, but right as he entered, he was apprehended by his manager.

"Here I am," Jax echoed, sticking his hands into his pockets. "What's wrong?" His brow furrowed almost immediately, "We've gotta start getting ready for the interviews," Axel grabbed Jax by the sleeve, guiding him out of the room. Axel had surprising grip strength for a human. Not wanting to hurt him, Jax followed behind, his tail swishing curiously.

In years previous, Jax had watched some of the interviews. It was an over-the-top event where contestants were paraded around in fancy clothes and asked questions that could mentally break them. This was only the first round of interviews, but it could very well determine how many people dropped out before they ever set foot on the first Game field.

"A really cool company offered to sponsor your suit for the first round of interviews," Axel began to brief him, "They're a menswear company, so make sure to mention it if it's brought up." Axel was all business. He led Jax to his room, where a chair had been positioned in front of a mirror. There was a single garment bag hung up, along with two boxes. One for shoes and the other, Axel explained, for accessories.

"Who are they?" Jax inquired, his gaze falling to two people in the corner. One seemed nervous, the other, confident. "Since I don't have a resident stylist, I borrowed someone else's. Oh and that's my mutant." He held out a hand and she ran over, kneeling down. Axel pat her head, the mutant smiling as though she enjoyed it.

"What's her name?" Jax asked, taking a seat in the chair that had been placed in front of a mirror. "Perona," Perona was gazing curiously at Jax. She was a feline-type mutant, judging by her black ears and the double tails. "Ah, Mr. Axel- I brought the thing you asked for." Perona said shyly, the bells in her hair ringing with each step.

A hand grabbed Jax's tail, which immediately went stiff, his ears upright in alarm. "What are you doing!" Jax jumped, the stylist holding a hairbrush. "Taking the knots out," he tsked, looking over his glasses at Jax. "Sit back down," Jax grabbed his tail, begrundingly taking a seat. "Warn a guy next time, alright?" He mumbled, unable to shake the feeling of being grabbed off.

"It's so soft, what if I just put my hand.... here...."

Jax shook his head, attempting to remove the memory from his mind. "With a face like that, I'm not surprised you have so many sponsors." The stylist laughed, using a bottle to wet Jax's hair. Axel leaned against the wall, watching them from the mirror. "We're very lucky," he was grinning, crossing his arms. "I heard some of the other managers had to practically beg for sponsors." Axel laughed, "You should've seen the look on one of their faces when they told Ms. Mars that their only sponsor had dropped out."

Perona tittered too, her laugh odd. Jax, however, did not find it funny. Sponsors were the lifeline of a competitor, it could mean life or death out in the Game. "Who was it?" He asked, slightly curious. One of his ears twitched as the stylist began to trim the fur around it.

Axel looked up as he thought, attempting to remember who it was. "Aries," Aries... he was the manager to the wolf, wasn't he? Served him right, Axel thought. Aries was always looking down on them, Axel did not feel bad. Jax on the other hand, furrowed his brow. He had met a handful of competitors so far, but had only seen the wolf from afar.

There was also Jaden, the charismatic manager of the little fish Ljilja. Jax closed his eyes, the sensation of a hairbrush combing through his hair strangely pleasant. Who else....? There was.... it was hard to think.

Leo, right and his manager, Qiqi. Jax had met him on the first day, at the first party. A lizard man with a robotic arm. Quite the character. Jax had yet to see him in action in the gym though. There was the man with the metal helmet, Jax didn't know his name yet, but he seemed intimidating. The girl with the red hair, another face without a name. Yeqon and Kore, but they were the ones that ran the Games, they weren't competitors.

"What are you thinking about?" Jax opened his eyes, finding Perona an inch away from his face. He jumped back, not having expected to see her. "Perona!" Axel snapped, the girl hurrying back to his side. "Don't get in the way," he sighed, the mutant servant kneeling on the ground again, her head hanging.

"Done!" The stylist sprayed Jax with strange perfume, his hair having been pulled back. "Wonderful," Axel clapped his hands togethr. "Let's put the finishing touches on."

His suit was an ashy black, the sleeves and pants embroidered with blue. From the accessory box, Axel removed a silver chain, clipping it around a dramatic cape that was lined with fur. "There," Axel stepped back, admiring his handy work. He used a lint roller to take off any invisible specks of dirt. "You're gonna kill them, literally and figuratively."

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yeqon Character Portrait: Leo Behrends Character Portrait: Ljilja Character Portrait: Scout Character Portrait: Kore Character Portrait: Jax Character Portrait: Ciara Character Portrait: Quickshot
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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx #0EBFE9 | FC: #CD3333



"Tighter," Kore's nails dug into the marble counter. Her breath hitched, her back arching as Mimi pulled the strings on the waist sincher tighter. "Well done," Jensen stepped back. "Oh, Ms. Mars, can you breathe?" He added as a secondary thought. Kore looked in the mirror, her waist the size of a Barbie-doll. "Yes," she smiled, "I can breathe just fine." It was a good thing she hadn't eaten lunch.

She sat down gingerly, Mimi draping her robe over her shoulders. In the waste basket underneath the counter were bandages from the cuts on her feet, Kore having hidden them before Jensen or Patrice had arrived. "Maybe um, you should wear flats tonight?" Mimi squeaked, but both Kore and Jensen looked at the poor girl as though she had two heads. "Flats!" Jensen screeched, "On a night like tonight! No, no, no. Ms. Mars's presence must be larger than life and therefore, she must be tall!" Was his logic sound? Kore wasn't sure, but she didn't care.

She closed her eyes as Patrice powdered her nose, putting liquid glitter on her eyes and teasing her hair. before braiding sections into flowers that formed a crown at the nape of her neck, extensions cleverly attached beneath it. It was a good two hours of preparation before Kore was deemed ready. Patrice unzipped the garment bag, Kore's eyes pouring over the delicate navy fabric. She stepped forward to feel it, rubbing the silk between two fingers. "Is this real?" She turned to look at Jensen, who nodded.

Silk was a rare fabric, it was expensive, more than what even Kore could afford. "A gift for you and your fellow Host." A gift? "From whom?" Kore questioned, Jensen taking the garment bag and the card attached. "The Matriarch sends her well wishes and hopes that this year's games will be the most interesting yet."

Kore froze, feeling a buzzing from somewhere deep within her. "Let me see," she took the card, her hands shaking slightly. The Matriarch had sent her well wishes. The Matriarch had acknowledge her. A slow grin crept onto her face and Kore laughed. "Mimi, we need to send the Matriarch a thank you present. What do you think suits a ruler?" She inquired of the room, stepping into her dress. "Flowers?" Mimi squeaked, as though it were a trick question.

"Chocolates!" Patrice piped up, lending a hand in getting the dress on. "Hmm, how about jewelry?"

"I think those are all things the Matriarch could get herself if she so wished it. Hmmm..." Kore trailed off. "I guess I'll just have to thank her her with something.... unusual." The Games, her mind quickly jumped to it, quickly flipping through the catalog of contestants. Which one... which one...

She stopped, Jensen pulling her out of her thoughts. "Beautiful!" He clapped his hands together, stepping back. Kore looked in the mirror, twirling, the bottom of the dress flaring upwards. The gold embellishments stood out against the dark fabric, the mesh front showing a tasetful amount of skin. "It's beautiful," she couldn't help but smile, admiring her reflection.



The stage was in the center of the ship, the stands filled to the brim with people who had come from not only their home ship, but the other ships as well. Outside of the glass walls were privately owned space crafts, hovering within a safe distance, throwing watch parties in the lap of luxury. On a floor above them, a bar already had a betting ring set up and a casino was playing the stream on every holo pod available. After the interviews tonight, people would place their wagers on who would be the first to die and who might cross the finish line of the first Game.

There were two stages, staggered, one above the other. The higher one would be where all of the contestants sat until it was their turn. Connecting the two platforms was a staircase that was only turned on when it was time to switch mutants out. The lower platform had two seats for the interviewer and the mutant, the floor holographic, able to light up with whatever images were needed so that both the constestant and audience could see.

"You're gonna do great tonight!" Sei squeaked, giving Kore two thumbs up from behind the curtain that surrounded the set up. The mutants would be arriving any second, where they would take place on the lower stage before being rounded up and taken to their seats on the upper stage. "Thank you Sei, you look lovely." Kore complimented and Sei smiled before running off. The overseers all had jobs tonight and that was to make sure everything ran smoothly.

When at last the final mutant had taken their place on stage, Kore turned to Yeqon, smiling. "Show time," she giggled, turning on the personality. She pointed to the side, indicating that it was time. The curtains rose slowly, the blue velvet giving way to reveal the fifty contestants in this year's Games. Kore could hear the crackle of her mic, indicating that it had been turned on. She glanced at Yeqon once before starting, taking a step forward and throwing her hands out in front of her.

"They've traveled from far and wide to be with us here tonight! From the breathaking cold of the Tundra, to the smallest of unsinkable islands. In the coming weeks, they'll face obstacles of which the likes of humanity and mutantity have never seen before. Please put your hands together for this year's contestants!" Their applause was thunderous, Kore's ears ringing from the sound of it.

Her heart beat wildly in her chest, her eyes wide.

This, this was living.

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Character Portrait: Ljilja Character Portrait: Scout Character Portrait: Jax Character Portrait: Quickshot
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Blood in the Water

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Musical Accompaniment



Transitioning from the commercial break with the unexpected but natural cadence of autumn leaves changing color, Zhang Wei maneuvered the capitalistic tone into one more somber and sincere. Feeding off of the Editors' cues, he stood in the center of the stage, clasping his hands together and furrowing his brows to give the impression of seriousness.

"Our next competitor comes from a remote mining colony called Fort Kate. You know her as 'Little Fish' Ljilja. This is her story," he said before stepping aside and letting the holos take over. The lights dimmed and suspenseful music began to play.



"Go now, and don't look back," a raspy voice echoed through the stadium, as an older man in uniform held Ljilja close in the rain before sending her off on a sleek white aircraft.

A flash of lightning and the crackle of a thunderclap ushered time forward. The feeds showed Ljilja beginning to panic while onboard, wrenching her seatbelt off, and then scrabbling out of her seat towards the back of the vehicle to escape an unseen threat. She reached in desperation for the bright red handle of an emergency exit. The camera exited the vehicle to show the raging seas miles below, and the dark storm above. Then, black nothingness for what seemed like eternity.

A sudden slam brought things into view once more - Jaden, her manager, pinned her to a wall to keep her from leaping from the craft. "Come on, little fish, we can't have you out of the game this early," he asserted, gazing into her eyes as she panted for air.

In a flurry of dramatic short cuts, the holoscreen showed the craft ascending to Father and the two disembarking together. After, it showed Ljilja standing alone at the opening ceremony, reaching toward the blue flowers of a tree. A voiceover of Ljilja's conversation with Jaden began to play.

"What if they don't like me?" Ljilja asked.

"Watch your back," Jaden warned.

The editors cut to a shot of Ljilja backing away in terror from a towering, cybernetic competitor clad from head to toe in midnight black metal.

"They will gut you if they get the chance."

With a bone-chilling howl as an audio cue, a stern white wolf marched towards little Ljilja, whose eyes darted to and fro for escape routes.

"Hey," Scout barked, "why is a kid here?"

As Scout approached the small blue girl, the audience's concern and anticipation grew to a fever pitch. Then, overlooking Scout's deadly and aggressive nature, Ljilja thrust out her hand as a gesture of friendship. After, it showed Scout and Ljilja sitting together on a mat in the gym.

"I want to be with my family. I’ve worked on Fort Kate as long as I can remember... I’ve never even met my mother. I want to."

"What about your dad?" Scout asked.

Suddenly, Ljilja was plunging into the aquarium, lying still and motionless as she sank deeper and deeper, bubbles of air flowing from her lips.

"He died."

Now she was bounding down the marathon track at full speed, the audience heard no sound but her heavy panting and footsteps before she began to lose her balance. She slipped and fell forward, and time slowed to a crawl. As it became clear that an impact with the floor was inevitable, the voiceover continued.

"Can we be friends?" Ljilja's voice asked as her limp body crept closer to the hard ground.

"You don't want to be friends with someone like me." Scout answered.

"I think you're a good person. I want to be your friend. But if you don't..." Ljilja continued, her voice wavering with pain and desperation.

"Allies it is," Scout declared with a tone of finality.

The feed cut out just before she hit the ground.



Ljilja sat meekly in her chair as the introductory video ended and the audience cheered and applauded on cue. She could not tell if they were moved, but she hoped that they liked what they saw.

Zhang, regaining the attention of the audience, leant forward and gazed deep into the eyes of the small mutant before him. "So, Ljilja - am I saying that right?"

She politely nodded.

"Ljilja, do you have a death wish?"

Blinking in confusion, she answered, "Huh?" So unexpected was the question that she was already on the back foot.

"Nearly jumping out of a plane, diving into an aquarium, and getting up close and personal with one of the most vicious competitors in the Games? Ring any bells?"

Ljilja stammered, her cheeks turning pale. "Scout is...I was..." she said, averting her eyes and shrinking back into her chair.

Zhang Wei chuckled warmly. "Alright, alright. Let's just say you're quite daring for such a small fish," he said, trying to draw attention away from her timidity.

"I...I have to be," she answered, peeking up at Zhang.

"You really think you can take this whole competition home to the folks back at Fort Kate?" he asked. He seemed to be sincerely asking.

Perfect. That was exactly the question she had been drilled on. Swallowing her nervousness, she put on the warmest face she could muster. Making a fist in determination, she answered, "I'll try my best!"

The crowd roared, more than happy to cheer for an underdog, if only to ensure she would remain in the Games long enough to be fodder for a stronger fighter.

"Beautiful!" Zhang replied. "We're happy to have you aboard as a competitor. What are you going to do if you win?"

"Um...I want to be...a family again."

A chorus of 'awws' signalled the crowd's affection - and with it, some loss of interest. Zhang needed to keep the show going.

"How sweet! Alright, everybody, that was Ljilja! Next up after the break: Jax the cat! Stay tuned and don't miss a thing!"



Blood Money

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"Step right up, don't miss yer chance! Takin' all bets on the little blue fish - 1 to 27, she bites it in the first round!" shouted a tubby human in striped suspenders with a grin the size of a small moon. There were few takers on such a hopeless cause, but a handful of high rollers put their money against Ljilja for the meager payout, assuming it was a safe bet she would lose quickly.

"Counter," announced Jaden, leaning forward over the bar, looking over the gambling spreads.

The man squinted from behind the bar, grabbing a scanner puck and sliding it over to Jaden. "Counter?" he inquired. Someone was betting on her? "What's your put?"

"Eight thousand," he answered before swiping his chipped wrist along the scanner. The puck chimed to indicate that the transaction had completed, paid in full. Jaden slid it back across the bar.

Scratching at his brow, the man retrieved the puck and asked, "That was you in the intro, weren't it? You know somethin' I don't know?"

"Let's just say I have some faith."

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Character Portrait: Leo Behrends Character Portrait: Jax
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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



Jax had seen the Games before, he had watched the interviews. The 100th Games was by far the most extravagant yet. The roar of applause was nearly defeaning, the audience strung along on a carefully laid out narrative. Jax was no fool, he knew that there was a puppet master behind all of this. The snow leopard could see her, sitting in a VIP box with a holo tab and a carefully placed smile.

His name was called, pulling him out of his reverie. Jax rose, fixing his suit jacket before taking to the lower stage. He had been watching the video compilations carefully so far, eyeing his competitors. He needed to know which ones he would have to watch out for on the field.

Jax's compliation began with him at the party, chatting with a certain lizard man, the one that had been on the stage before him. It focused in on Jax's bewildered expression, than a charming smile. "I think you are mistaken, I may be a doctor, but I also know a great many ways to kill a man." He leaned in towards Leo then, his voice lowering to a whisper. "You're a friendly guy so I will give you a word of advice, don't trust anyone here."

They were completely manipulating snippets of their conversation.

The rest of it was almost predictable, teaching Thorne how to use a gun, comforting Ten as she sobbed about her debt, finding friends and enemies among the competitors. At long last, the holo vid blipped off and Zhang Wei turned towards him, grinning like a cat that had just eaten a particularly fat mouse. "The Games haven't even started and you've reeled yourself in a fan club!" Zhang Wei cackled like a harpy, the crowd chuckling. "You're quite the charmer, Doctor. Is it okay if I call you that?"

"Just Jax is fine," he replied, leaning back, grinning easily. His tail swished back and forth playfully, Jax was falling into his old habits. The charmer, putting up a wall to hide behind. A chill crept up his spine, he was just another plaything for the humans to take advantage of, he needed to be careful. "So how did someone like you end up in a place like this? What's the end game for someone who probably lived a pretty cozy life on new earth?"

"Well Mr. Wei, there are things that I want to achieve, goals I could only dream of if I hadn't come here." Zhang Wei grinned, "but still, you're a doctor. A killing game isn't exactly your style, is it?"

"Not exactly, but you heard it first hand didn't you. My knowledge as a doctor will only help me. I can put a body together just as well as I can take it apart."

"Ooh, scary!" Their audience was eating this up. "What about your lady friends? You know, the winged girls?"

"Ten and Thorne? We're in an alliance, nothing more."

"Are you sure about that?" Zhang Wei's expression was crafty, but Jax did not need to think about it twice.

"I'm sure."

"Well ladies, that's good news for you! It means Jax is still on the market!" The phrasing of it was unsettling, in the back of his mind, he could hear other words.

"I paid good money to rent you for tonight."

"Anything you wanna say to your lady friends in the audience before you go?"

"I hope you're all going to watch, because I promise I won't disappoint." Jax winked. He was glad that it was over already. Zhang Wei grabbed Jax's hand and lifting it up above his head. "Jax, everyone!" Jax rose, sighing. Zhang Wei clapped him on the back, "What a show!" He grinned, it was clear that Jax had been playing right into his hand. "Cayde, my metal friend, come on down here!" He called as the staircase illuminated, allowing Jax to return to his seat.

He sat with a resounding thump! Quickly leaning over to cover his face with his hands, a slight tremble in them.

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Character Portrait: Kore Character Portrait: Jax
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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



Since the day of his interview, gifts had begun to show up to Jax's room. Every morning, he awoke to deliveries of flowers and candies, invitations for private meetings, and one sponsorship message after another. He almost felt bad, if it weren't to his benefit.

Already, the back of his workout clothes were plastered in the logo of the man that had paid for exclusive sponsorship rights. Surely, if Jax were a human, he would be rolling in dough. With that much money, he could've taken his sisters and left the ship a long time ago. If only the money belonged to him.

"Knock, knock." The door opened, Axel entering with his servant, Perona, waltzing in behind him. She was holding a box close to her chest, her cat-like eyes watching him with interest. Jax was not a fan of the strange cat-girl, who was far too clumsy for her own good. "Morning," Jax waved, he had just finished getting dressed. "Morning," Axel pulled up a chair, he looked pleased with himself, like a cat that had just eaten a particularly fat mouse.

"I've just come back from speaking with Kore, she wants to meet you."

"Kore? Kore... Mars?" Jax blinked slowly.

"The one and only, so you're gonna have to lose the tracksuit." He snapped his fingers, Perona jumping to attention, nearly dropping the parcel she had brought. "Why does Kore Mars, the head overseer, want to meet me?" Jax opened up his closet door, already a suit had been delivered.

"Who knows? Kore is above all of us managerial peasants, we're just here to fulfill her every wish."

"What about that other guy? The ice one?" He unzipped his jacket, shrugging it off. Perona squealed, turning around. "Yeqon Cryo? He's just... arm candy really. There's rumors the two of them are dating and if that's true, they might just be the most powerful couple Father's ever seen."

The human rumor mill was not something Jax was interested in. Perona handed Axel the parcel, who unwrapped it quickly. "Here, this just came from your sponsor today." He draped it around Jax's shoulders. A scarf, with his sponsor's name knitted into it. "Let's go, Ms. Mars hates to be kept waiting," Axel hurried them along. They left the mutant housing area, Jax having to scan his arm band to leave. They were escorted by armed guards, up a back hallway and into an open room with a window that overlooked space. Outside, they could see the top of ruined earth.

Despite its size, there was very little in the room. Only two chairs and a table, the latter of which had plates full of finger-sized foods and a pot of tea. Sitting on one of the chairs was a figure that Jax had seen plenty of these last few days. Her vibrant hair was hanging down and she wore a red bodysuit with an iridescent skirt, cut to look like a rose.

"Ms. Mars," Axel nodded in greeting. Kore lit up upon seeing them, she rose to her feet and strode towards them, skirt swishing around her thighs. Her heels clacked against the tile, her walk full of confidence.

"Thank you for bringing him, Axel." She leaned forward, kissing his cheek. It was a human gesture that Jax had seen many times, but had thankfully never been on the receiving end of. Axel blushed, but remained otherwise poised. "Of course, just let me know when you're done with him so I can bring him back." He stepped away, the door closing behind him.

"So, you're the mutant I've heard so much about." She held out a hand, which Jax took, not expecting her handshake to be so firm despite her dainty hands. "Come, sit, let's discuss your potential further. There's no one monitoring this conversation, no cams or recording pods, so feel free to speak your mind."

"Alright, I will keep that in mind." Jax followed her, the smell of her perfume wafting around him. It was subtle, but sweet, like candy. Jax sat down across from her, the table full of food reminding him that he hadn't eaten breakfast. He reached for a mini egg tart, careful not to get any crumbs on himself. She watched him, a polite, but curious expression on her face.

"Drop out of the Games."

He choked, the tart getting stuck in his throat. Kore poured him some tea, which Jax chugged down in a less than elegant manner. "Excuse me?" He asked when he could speak again.

"Drop out of the Games," Kore smiled, leaning forward to pick up her own cup. "What is it you want? Money? Fame? You can gain them all by staying here."

"I can't." Jax's hands balled into fists, there was too much on the line for him to drop out right now. "Ah, right, the sisters." He stiffened, where was she going with this? "How do you know about them?"

"Oh One... did you really think I wouldn't know?" Jax rose abruptly, the chair squealing against the ground. "The child, that perfectly engineered little mutant and his two sisters? Don't you know how valuable you are?" Kore placed her cup down and picked up the tea pot to pour herself some more. "If you stay in these Games, your death will cost us a lot more money and trouble than its worth I can't force you to drop out, so leave."

"I'm not leaving, not without them." Jax grit his teeth, his tail stiff.

"Well then, One, I hope you don't expect us to go easy on you just because have a pretty face."

"Of course not," his hands balled into fists. Was Kore threatening him?

"Good," Kore smiled, clapping her hands together. "Then I hope you're prepared for what's to come."

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



Jax fiddled with the bracelet around his wrist. Axel had told him that no matter what, he could not take it off. The thin silver accessory somehow felt terrible heavy. He knew what it was for, it was a collar, essentially; disguised as a key. It was greedily reading their heart rate and oxygen saturation while tracking their location.

There was one more purpose to it, Axel had informed Jax of it just before they were called to leave. "Do you know why they make you wear that the entire Game?" He had asked Jax, who shook his head, pretending to be ignorant of the bracelet's purpose. "In case a mutant gets frisky, it can send an electric shock strong enough to stop a heart."

Even with that knowledge, Jax fiddled with the device, trusting that it would not kill him. Kore had left him with a warning, but also a promise. He could stay in these games, it was his choice, but she would make it much harder for him. Would she use this bracelet on him? Given the chance?

Jax had not told Ten and Thorne about his meeting with the Overseer, he thought it best to keep it secret.

The doors to the isolation unit suddenly opened, the hot desert sun beating down on Jax, making him sweat almost immediately. He pulled the visor down closer to his face, knowing that keeping his skin covered would be essential. Even before Jax could make his way down the gangway, still adjusting to the heat, gun shots fired.

One minute in and it was already a bloodbath.

Where were Ten and Thorne? They had come up with a signal to meet up. Despite the frantic thought of one of them already being dead, Jax was oddly calm. After all, it meant one less mutant to compete with.

His support item was on the ground, his cane. "Oh, how I've missed you." He tucked the cane beneath the strap on the back of the bike. It would be useless here. Jax turned the handle, revving the engine. He shifted forwards, the hover bike responding to his commands. With ease, the bike began to glide across the sand, able to navigate the landscape without a moment's hesitation.

A knife whizzed past his head, nearly nicking his ear. Jax didn't stop to see who it was, instead choosing to pour on the speed. He wanted to get out of there and find his allies. Another knife launched at him, this time hitting the side of his bike. Jax turned sharply, the bike tailing him suddenly spinning out of control in an attempt to dodge him.

The leopard grabbed his cane, pulling the cover off, lest he need to use it. His assailant jumped to their feet, red fox ears pointing upwards from his head. "Sorry, but a guy's gotta eat." The fox rose, a knife dancing between his fingers. Jax lunged, swiping his sword forward. The fox was quick on his feet, slashing upwards to parry.

"I took no personal offence," Jax replied, kicking the fox in the chest. "But you should be forewarned that I don't play nicely with cannibals."

The fox laughed, "Is it really cannibalism if yer eatin' a different species?" He rushed forward, jumping high up into the air to throw three knives at Jax. The leopard dodged the first, the second getting his hair. The third, Jax deflected with his cane. He turned, a fourth whizzing out of nowhere directly at his chest. If Jax had moved any slower, it surely would have lodged itself into his clavicle.

A gun shot rang through the air, the fox's eyes widening. He looked at his arm, which was suddenly gushing blood as crimson as his hair. "Shit. I'm coming back, just sit tight. This won't be the last ya'll see me-" another gunshot sang past Jax's head, the fox falling to the ground, a bullet wound forming a perfect circle in his forehead.

Jax turned to see who his savior was, sighing in relief when he spotted none other than Thorne. "Thanks," he jogged towards her, but Thorne's expression was tense. "What is it? What's wrong? Where's Ten?"

Ten was injured.

She had a slash across her belly, her jacket pressed desperately against her stomach to keep her organs inside. "I-I'm gonna die, aren't I?" Ten asked, tears welling up in her eyes. "No, you're not." Jax spoke calmly, "We're going to fix you right up and then we're gonna ride together to the finish line. Okay?"

Ten shook her head. "Leave me, I'm just- I'm just a dead weight." Ten coughed, her blood spattering against the ground. That wasn't a good sign, bloody mucus meant there was an issue in the lungs. "Alright Ten, here's what's gonna happen. I'm gonna patch you up the best I can with what I have." Jax quickly went through their survival bags, praying that there was something in there he could use.

A small first aid kit had been stowed inside with a note.

From your sponsor.

Jax had never been a big believer in a higher power, but this is one of those moments where he silently praised the sky. "We're out in the open, we need to move somewhere with a bit more cover." He could do it here, but it would leave them exposed. Thorne nodded and together, they helped Ten onto her bike. Her chest was rising unevenly, one of Ten's lungs was collapsed. They drove quickly, just until they found a sand mound large enough to hide behind.

Jax laid Ten on the ground, uncovering her stomach. The gash was big and already, he could tell infection was festering beneath the surface, immanent. "This is going to hurt," he looked to Thorne. "Hold her hand." Jax balled up his jacket, giving Ten a piece of cloth to bite down on while he worked. He used their water rations to wash away the blood as best as he could, looking inside of the first aid kit for needle and thread.

It came in a little white packet, a piece of sterile thread about the size of his forearm. Just barely enough. Jax examined the lungs first, finding a hole the size of his pinkie nail. He used the straw in their water bottles to suction the blood, spitting it out onto the sand.

The doctor's hands moved steadily with practice. He sewed the hole in Ten's lung, then began on the stomach. "Hurry," Thorne urged, anxious. "Going as fast as I can, but this takes time." Jax used a whip stitch, Ten screaming every time the needle pierced her flesh.

"Done," he tied the knot at the end, sitting back on his heels. His hands were covered in blood, Ten was dangerously pale, she was in no condition to move, but they had no choice. "I'll ride with Ten on my bike, we'll tie her bike to yours with our jackets."

"Jax," Thorne's voice was soft. She flung her arms around him, at last allowing herself to cry. "Thank you! Thank you for saving her."

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxLocation: Fatherxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Speaking: #919191 | Thought: #D8BFD8



"We'll stop here for the night," Thorne decided. Ten's blood was smeared across her back, staining her skin. They were at an abandoned building, a structure with a domed roof and four standing walls. There was a large hole in one of them, big enough for them to crawl through. The ground inside was tiled, sand gathering in piles.

Maybe there was once furniture inside, but right now, the space was barren. "I'll carry her," Jax lifted Ten up easily, Thorne grabbing their bags and shuffling inside. It was dark, the only light coming from the holes in the structure.

They had gotten lucky today, no one attacked them thus far, but their luck just might run out soon. Ten's breathing was labored and despite the packing Jax had done against the wound, it was still bleeding. Ten was pale, her lips quivering with each breath. "You lay the blankets down, we'll put her on top of it," Thorne nodded, grabbing out one of the silver foil blankets and laying it on the ground.

Thorne placed Ten carefully on top, who groaned in pain. "It's alright," Jax reassured her, feeling her forehead. She was warm to the touch and there was sweat clinging to her neck. "L-leave me," Ten begged them. "I-I'm g-g-going t-t-o d-die." She opened her eyes a bit, bleary and warm.

"I'm not going to let you die," Jax whispered. Thorne sat on her knees, her fists buried in her lap. "You need to drink, come here." Jax helped Ten lift her head, tilting the water canteen to her lips. Ten tried to drink, her entire body trembling with the effort.

"Please," Thorne whispered, "you have to make it. We're doing this together, remember? There's no point in going on if you're not here." Thorne grabbed Ten's hand, squeezing it. Ten smiled weakly. "Y-you yo-you're s-st-strong." She reached her other hand up, touching Thorne's forehead. "Y-you'll be-be f-f-fi-fin-fine." Her eyes closed, her hand dropping to her side.

"Is she...?" Thorne's hands clasped over her mouth, but Jax shook his head. "Just sleeping," he whispered, placing Ten back down carefully. Thorne swallowed hard, rising. "I'll take the first watch," she offered, but Jax shook his head, "You need to rest, I'll take the night shift. I'm used to pulling 24 hour shifts," he winked, rising to his feet.

Jax rifled through their belongings, pulling out their meal rations. He followed the instructions on the side, handing Thorne's to her. Thorne had wrapped herself in one of the foil blankets, still clutching Ten's hand. "We loved each other, once." Thorne whispered, holding the food packet in her other hand. "Even though my brain has moved on, my heart hasn't."

She looked up at him, placing Ten's hand down gently so that she could eat. "Do you love anyone?"

"Love? No... probably not." Jax admitted, stirring the sauce around the rehydrated noodles. "I have two sisters though, probably around your age."

"Probably?" Thorne smiled a little, which made Jax smile in turn. "Yeah, I don't know how old they are. Just that they're younger than me."

"Do you know how old you are?" Thorne scooted a little bit closer to him. "Probably around 18? 20?"

"I'm 21, so I'm older." She winked, she looked down into her food, smiling to herself. "I don't know a lot about you, Jax. I'd like to though." Jax was silent for a moment, "I don't know a lot about you either." He admitted, a sound outside making his ear twitch. There was a sudden, terrible scraping against the wall, the foundation of their shelter shaking. Pieces of rubble rained on them and Jax was quick to jump over Ten to shield her. "Someone's here." He rose, grabbing his cane.

Thorne jumped to her feet too, clutching her gun. The two of them peered out the hole, the ground trembling. "What is that!" Thorne hissed, pointing towards something moving between their bikes. It was neither mutant nor human, but the biggest snake Jax had ever seen. He grabbed Thorne's arm, pulling her back inside, away from the hole. "What the f*ck is that thing!" Thorne trembled, Jax could hardly hear her over the sound of his heart racing.

"I don't know, but I don't want to find out."