TALK STORY

Special Branch XIII: Soulless

POSTED BY: NEEDY
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 04:57
SHORT URL: http://bit.ly/nTY6U8
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Thursday, August 18, 2011 6:23 AM

NEEDY

The road to Hel is paved with good intentions


It's thread number 13 for the story.(Unlucky for some, but only time will tell if its unlucky for our characters too.)

New Enemies. New Ship. New Journey.



Special Branch Intro

Here's how it is:
There's a parliament, a big bad government called The Alliance that seeks to unite all the worlds under its rule. Only some take issue to that policy, not to mention their methods. And so The Resistance was born.
They called themselves Special Branch - a group made up of fugitives, former soldiers, companions and a whole lot more. They became a thorn in the side of not only The Alliance, but a whole host of secret groups and private armies. And so they were hunted down, imprisoned without charge. Now the last remaining members are scattered across the verse, trying their best to rebuild their lives, or start over.
But one event will bring them back together, will force them to unite as they prepare for the oncoming storm.

Recap:
With Soul missing, taken by the ruthless bounty hunter Kurren and handed over to his mysterious employer, the crew find themselves at a crossroads. After ditching their last ship, presumed traceable, they purchase a Firefly craft, named The Raven, and take to the skies.

However, when Soul’s former lover Ciaran shows up unannounced, she insists Safe and the crew search for the man before it’s too late and his captors get their wish – to turn him into the ruthless killer he once was. But, with the memory of Ciaran’s betrayal on The Dwarf and Milton’s death still lingering, the captain is hesitant to trust her, let alone follow her on a wild goose chase, especially when she confesses that it was her that had helped Soul’s enemy to capture him. Although they keep her close, the crew instead follow another lead. An anonymous message tells them where they might find Kyra, a former reporter at one time attached to the crew. Only now, her interest in investigating the murder of a man loyal to the resistance might just land her in serious trouble.

On Boros, Clayton Payne, now a fully-fledged member of the Crimson Squad is brought up to speed on the recent murders. The culprit behind the attacks had once been an agent for the CS and was now targeting not just resistance fighters, but those that were linked to the Squad. As he uncovers more evidence, Clayton realises that Kyra’s partner, Luthor Mcnab, is involved and heads to Albion before she becomes the latest victim.

As Safe and Vixen search for Kyra, the reporter pairs up with Julie Torn, the daughter of the deceased rebel loyalist, in an attempt to uncover the truth behind the murders. But, after receiving a tip-off from an anonymous source, she discovers the truth about Luthor and his involvement in the murders. Before he can silence the two of them however, they are rescued by Safe and Vixen; and Needy, long thought lost, takes Luthor out with a bullet. Although distrustful of the former companion, especially after learning of his true involvement in Milton’s death, the crew take him with them, hoping he can answer their questions.

Clayton Payne is left on Albion, along with Luthor who is not quite dead, but they are not alone. An old man and young woman, of unknown origin, wait in the background, their identities shrouded. Their motives, unclear. It’s only a matter of time before they make their move.

Elsewhere, Professor Trepsil, disheartened by his work for the Crimson Squad and concerned for his own safety within the organisation, takes matters into his own hands. After realising that sending a few encrypted messages out, warning different members of the crew, was not enough, he next decides to set off on his own and leaves his former life behind him.

Finally, after being killed and killed again, the real Soul is awakened – an emotionless killer ready for his new mission. However, Marshall - his alter-ego - awakens elsewhere, lost in a strange place, his memory a haze. As a familiar face helps him up, Marshall is led on a new journey, finally free from the anxieties that had burdened him for so many years.


Previous threads are here:

Guide to Special Branch
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=29509#515129

1.Special Branch: Unbound
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=20504

2.Special Branch: The Chasing Of Wild Geese
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=21730

3. Special Branch and the HUGE Hospital Bills
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=23302

4. Special Branch: The Living Dead
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=24558

5. Special Branch: Motherhood For Heroes
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=26599

6. Special Branch: Secrets & Lies
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=28546

7. Special Branch: Santos
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=29910

8. Special Branch: Loose Ends
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=34804

9. Special Branch: Lost Friends
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=41828

10. Special Branch: Overdue Reunions
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=46305

11. Special Branch: The Execution of Vixen Goddard
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=46830

12. Special Branch: Back in Black
http://beta.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=11&tid=47387

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Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:56 PM

WASHSYOUNGERSEXIERBR

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges


The general principle of building a Motorcycle since they were first created is to start with as big an engine as you can manage and add as little to it as possible to make it a vehicle. From fossil fuel combustion, through the eras of Hydrogen and Nitrogen fuel cells, up to modern plasma injection technology the principle hadn’t altered much. Speed was of the utmost importance forcing horses of raw power straight from wheel to ground. Wisp had a lot of experience with bikes; they had been a favourite getaway vehicle for urban raids when they had to move fast. Also with a few modifications they could be perfect for covering a great deal or rural terrain quickly. So it’s accurate to say that Wisp had driven a lot of motorbikes and knew what to expect with this one.

Wisp did not know what to expect with this one.

From the first twist of the throttle the engine thundered like a caged bear and propelled the pair forward. If it wasn’t for Wisps augmented brain cells he would have probably driven straight into the back of the car in front but by lightning reflexes he somehow managed to turn in time. But Wisp didn’t really know if HE had turned in time. The bike seemed to handle much better than it should; almost turning before he’d made a motion. Filled with confidence and urgency he pushed the bike to the limit flicking between parked cars and pavement, up onto the curb, he even through in a jump running up the back of a parked truck. He and the bike seemed to have an unspoken bond pushing the limits of reality to the very limit to get to the Library as fast as possible. Wisp swore that when he blinked the bike appeared as a great steed and the engine could be heard distinctly as hoof beats. Wisp dismissed this as adrenaline fuelled imaginings quickly before he questioned his sanity.

They quickly covered the ground to the Library but Wisp stopped just shy of the cordoned area. He could see the crashed copter with a group of Crimson Squad agents stood around getting medical help with the Library behind complete with burnt debris and broken windows. He had no idea where the others were inside this jungle of bad guys.

“Guy’s this is Wisp, I'm right outside the Library. I need a fix on your location. Somebody fill me in.”


Meanwhile Simon Jupe stood next to a beautiful blonde Amazon of a woman looking down over his body. He watched as medics crowded round his body, their knees dipping in the pool of his blood.

“Am I dead?” He asked her. Keeping his eyes on the bleeding red mass before him.

“No. Not quite” She replied with a comforting resonance to her voice. “You get to live on this time. But we’ll meet again” And with that she turned and walked away.

The EMT’s picked up Simons body and placed it on a stretcher connecting fluids and monitors across his near corpse. Not knowing what else to do he stepped back into his body to see what happened next.



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Monday, August 22, 2011 1:38 PM

SAFEAT2ND


Safe could feel the frustration fraying at the edges of his already thin patience. Sirens wailed in the distance, getting closer with each second they stood rooted in argument. It was the approach that he couldn’t hear that pressed on him the most; the downed airship full of soldiers; elite soldier with a distinct purpose.

He took a deep breath and as gently as he could he gripped Kyra’s shoulders, “Listen carefully, whatever is eating at you, whatever changed you, needs to be dealt with later. Trust me when I say that the men that are after may seem to have the right motives but they aren’t necessarily what’s right for you.”

Kyra met Safe’s eyes unflinching, “You don’t know… you CAN’T know… How do I know you’re not the bad guys after what you did on the Dwarf.” She shrugged out of his grip.
Safe gritted his teeth, “Don’t be daft woman. We’re not the bad guys. What happen on the Dwarf was not our making. We were drawn in by that crew and..” His words ended abruptly as Julie’s hand connected with his face in a rounding slap.

Vixen smirked.

Safe ran a hand through his hair and sighed, “Got that out of your system?” he asked. Julie just glared back at him.

A crowd started to appear now that the gunshots had faded.

“Look, just come with us far enough to get you out of town, someplace where you can sort this mess out on your own. Maybe along the way you might even find the answers. We let you off where you say. Fair enough?”

“But he’s going with you.” Kyra spat the words in Needy’s direction. “I won’t share another ship with him.”

“Look, I came to find you so I could find him. Funny how we always find you two at once.” Safe arched an eyebrow at her. “Good or bad, I ain’t leaving him behind. We have some… things to sort out, he and I.”

Julie looked from Kyra to Safe and back again as silence hung between the two.

“I’ll keep him locked up away from you both.” Safe finally said.

Kyra nodded. A small nod but that was all he needed.

Vixen rolled her eyes and prodded Needy with her gun, “Let’s go, bleeding boy. Run and I’ll make you bleed worse faster’n you can take your first step, ‘an I won’t stop until I’m satisfied.”

“Vixen!” Safe barked.

“Just motivating our prisoner.” She smile sweetly back at Safe.

Safe just shook his head as they started walking, cutting down narrow alleys and through fenced yards, anything to keep off the main track.

“Wisp, where are you? We’re on the move.” Safe relayed their location.

“Meet you at the wrecking yard, five blocks south of your current position.” Seryn responded. “I’m in the air now.”

As they walked Safe rubbed his cheek, still stinging from the slap, albeit more of an emotional sting than anything physical.

Why was he back into this? When they had split up two years ago, Safe swore it was the last. He burned his contacts list, severed his connections to the underground, locked up his ‘equipment’. He couldn’t bring himself to destroy that. It had been a part of his life as long as he could remember. It would be like cutting off ones arm.

He cleaned himself up and tracked down his ex-wife. Maybe, just maybe, he could have the real life she had always wanted them to have.

The house was a neat bungalow, off from the city’s core. He walked up the pathway and up the two steps to the small porch and knocked on the door. He took one last look at his reflection and hid the flowers behind his back.

He raised his hand to knock again and wondered at the hesitation and the slight shake. His fist descended, rapping lightly on the door.

Elsie opened the door herself and her face changed once she saw him. The slight smile she wore disappeared and her lips set in a thin line as she crossed her arms across her chest, “Seth.”

“Hi Elsie, it’s been a long time.” Seth smiled at her.

“What do you want.” She asked shortly.

“I just wanted to talk, maybe over some coffee.” Seth watched her, waiting. He could see her in their early days. Her eyes sparkling, always smiling. Not now, though. That hurt almost as much as what followed next.

“I don’t think so.” She started to close the door. Seth put his hand out stopping it.

“Come on, Elsie, just coffee?”

She yanked the door open, her face red with fury, “Coffee? You want coffee? You want to talk now? After all those years of not talking, of you putting the job before me, after what you brought down on us when you killed that man? And now you want to talk? I suppose you’ll want to pick up where we left off. Not a chance. I spent all those nights alone not knowing if you were dead or not; hearing all those stories. I watched other soldiers and officers come home to their wives but not you. Corporal Greaves even came home.”

“Corporal Greaves?” Seth was caught off guard.

“You remember him? The man you killed? Your superior officer? He told me he’d look out for you. He told me you didn’t want to come home.” She screamed at him.

“Wait how…” The pieces fell into place, each one like a serrated sword through the heart. “You two…” He couldn’t say the words.

Elsie sobbed. She slapped his face. He just stood there, his hopes crumbling around him, his memories burning up. She slapped him again, this time with enough force to draw blood. He still stood there.

“Don’t you dare judge me, you murderer, you outlaw, you, you, son of a bi..” her arm flew out again, fist closed and with all her weight behind it. He didn’t duck, didn’t catch her hand. The force of the blow, the emotion behind it lending weight, buckled his knees. Seth saw stars, tasted blood in earnest this time. The door slammed as he sat on the walkway.

“I’m calling the police, you had better be gone before they get here.

Safe stood slowly, the crushed flowers dropping from his numb fingers. He walk out the walkway and straight into two solid years of drunk.

And here he was back into it. And his face still stung.


Check out my blog for info and updates on my novels
http://drlong67.wordpress.com

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:59 AM

WASHSYOUNGERSEXIERBR

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges


Wisp watched intently at the smouldering ruins of the library hoping for a sign. The police cordon had attracted quite a crowd of morbid curiosity with those bored with the mundanity of everyday life begging for voyeuristic excitement. This made it quite easy for Wisp and Ciarian to remain un-noticed as they observed the scene. Wisp was getting thoroughly impatient being on the outskirts of the action. He was just about ready to jump over the barricades and look for them the old fashioned way when he spotted Safe turn a corner nonchalantly.

Wisp was just about to grab his radio and signal when he noticed Safe’s hands. He was signalling something. Two taps on the radio, one tap on his ear followed by the spiralling of his finger. People were listening in to the signal that would account for the radio silence. Next he held up one finger then palmed his hand slightly above the horizontal. One casualty, unable to walk but alive. Finally he fluttered his fingers upwards whilst raising his hand. Need evacuation from a ship. He then began repeating his hand gestures from the start tilting his body in the other direction. He obviously hadn’t spotted Wisp then.

Wisp replied with two short taps on his radio, Safe stopped, nodded and disappeared round the corner he’d come from. Wisp then keyed his radio to the Ravens frequency.

“Seryn. DOLLHOUSE, Alpha. Five, DOLLHOUSE beta. Repeat. DOLLHOUSE, Alpha. Five, DOLLHOUSE beta.”

A few seconds passed before Seryn came over the comms “Roger”

Ciarian gave Wisp a puzzled look. “I get the first bit but what’s the Dollhouse beta about?”

“Look into that library, what do you see?”

“Erm... Well the burnt out building, the crashed chopper, a lot of ground cars”

“Do you see the mountains of Feds?”

“Well yea of course.”

“What do you think they’re gonna do when a firefly drops out of the sky and starts taking on people the wrong side of the police cordon? Do you think they’re just gonna sit there and wave? No so we have to distract em and get em away from this library. Dollhouse Beta is a bridge about two miles west of here where we are gonna meet Seryn in Five minutes and these guards are all gonna follow us there.”

“How are we gonna get em to follow?” She quizzed Wisp. He responded with a very mischievous grin and revved the bikes engine.
“Oh I’ll think of something”
Next he grabbed his rifle from his back and fired a long burst of automatic fire into the air. The bike roared from standing straight through the police barriers towards the biggest group of guards he could see. The front wheel of the bike dove into the air giving the impression of one of the great horses of the apocalypse galloping forwards. Ciarian obviously understood the plan and began firing her pistol above the feds as they stormed forward causing them to throw themselves to the ground in every direction. As Wisp nearly reached the group of terrified Feds he spun the bike one eighty whilst throwing smoke grenades between them and Safe who was no peaking round the corner observing the diversion.

“Come on boys” Ciarian shouted from behind him “don’t tell me that’s all you got?” Her face beamed with excitement as she brandished her weapon high forcing a menacing silhouette of the bike with smoke behind.

The officers he handn’t seen the brunt of Wisp’s little show had now regrouped enough to begin returning fire. Unfortunately where as Wisp and Ciarian had aimed mainly for show, these guys were aiming for keeps. Wisp made the engine purr again and set off to the west weaving between wreckage and gunfire. A quick glance over his shoulder showed the soldiers had begun entering ground cars and following just as he hoped. A group of officers at the west police barricade had formed a makeshift wall hoping to stop the rampaging metal monster that Wisp rode. He however was not to be stopped by a few simple parked vehicles. Aiming for the flattest piece of the Library’s wall with a favourable slope Wisp squeezed the turbo’s and flew above the feds in a graceful arc, Ciarian adding a kiss at the apex of the stunned men.


Unbeknownst to the security following Wisp on his iron steed, Seryn piloted the Raven down gently behind the smoke curtain to a silent touchdown. As the hangar door came down Vixen stood guard as Safe got everyone aboard helping an injured Needy half walk. Seryn was waiting to meet them brandishing a large assault rifle as if expecting trouble.

“Where’s Wisp?” Vixen asked bringing up the rear

“Provinding the distraction. We’re picking him up at the DeWitt bridge in...” She glanced at her watch “Just under two minutes so if you could hurry up and get aboard I’ll get back to the bridge. Safe leave the door I think he’s going to be making an exciting entrance.”

“Exciting entrance?” Vixen pouted “And he didn’t take me along?”

Seryn was already halfway up the stairs as she spoke. Safe turned to her “There, there princess. I’m sure next time he does something dangerous and aggressive you’ll be his first choice.”

Vixen and Safe cleared Kyra and Julie away into the lounge as Needy was placed into the medbay. Seryn urged the Firefly into the air despite the warning lights warning of her of a fully deployed bay door. She checked the clock and realised she had less than a minute to get to Wisp. Throwing caution to the wind she poured thrust into the engines and tore across the city destroying their curtain of smoke in the process.


Wisp was having a much more exciting time heading towards the DeWitt Bridge. Just like on the side he entered from the street was a gridlock of stopped vehicles and gawking motorists making navigation difficult and hair raising. To add to his nerves the Feds had produced a large hover tank from somewhere which was unsettling close behind him. Every few seconds it fired an EMP pulse in his direction occasionally getting close enough to threaten to stall his engine. Through luck, willpower and sheer stubbornness Sleipnir refused to stop despite coming close several times. Wisp tried to keep his route erratic weaving through traffic as often as he could and taking whatever his brain could conjure as a ramp. Unfortunately the hover tank behind him was not slowed down by the traffic like he was. Every twist and turn Wisp made brought the tank and its weapons closer to him.

Ciarian hung on for dear life as Wisp refused to brake through a series of death defying curves and swerves until the bridge eventually came into view in front of him. Their communal hearts sank as the Raven was nowhere in sight as they came closer and closer to what should be their exit. The traffic had thinned at this point permitting Wisp a more liberal use of the throttle but they fewer people permitted his pursuers the same bonus, along with an improved accuracy. Each shot now was closer and the displays in front of him had begun to flicker with the sustained electrical bombardment. He could feel the fusion chamber between his thighs begin to misfire as circuits misfired and died.

He wouldn’t make it to the bridge.

Praying to whoever would listen and pouring every last drop of his turbo injection into the engine he picked the best impromptu ramp he could see and aimed his steel horse. The sudden input of fuel provided a brief distance between him and the hover tank but not enough to cause a great difference. As Wisp reached the foot of the ramp he felt the charge strike the bikes engine block. All his circuits died at once and the rumble beneath him stopped. The bike wouldn’t have the momentum to make the leap. He would simply fall off the edge and the Feds would be upon them. However Sleipnir refused to die. Despite the overwhelming physics telling it to slow down it still charged up the slope launching Wisp and Ciarian into the air.


It was at this very moment Seryn appeared over the river swinging the Ravens bay towards the bike’s trajectory. In a smooth motion without slowing the pair were caught into the Fireflys bay and Seryn took off towards the atmosphere. Wisp, Ciarian and Sleipnir were caught in a web of netting inside as the doors began to close.

“Of course you made an exciting entrance.” Muttered Safe as he checked the netting. “Crazy kid.”



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Friday, September 2, 2011 4:47 AM

NEEDY

The road to Hel is paved with good intentions


Two Years Ago, Santos:

Kyra’s head swam as she felt the cold dead weight of the unconscious bounty hunter being pulled away from her. She could barely remember what had happened. The confusion became even more apparent when she took in the sight of the three faces that stood watching over her now: Her lover Bernie, the captain Soul, and Clayton, her former partner.

“What happened?” she muttered, as both Needy and Clayton offered her a hand each and lifted her up.

Kyra looked down at the body lying there beside her—a large man with long black dreadlocks, wearing what could only be described as mercenary gear.
“You okay?” Clayton asked her, running his hand across her forehead and brushing her hair away from her face, revealing a deep gash by her hairline.

Kyra cringed as her head stung from the touch of his finger.

“Yeah, I just…” she dabbed her head.

“Maybe you should sit down for a bit,” Clayton offered with his hand directing her to a crate a few yards away.

Needy simply watched the conversation unfold without offering any input. Kyra looked at him, waiting for him to say something, to offer some help, but instead he just nodded his head and raised a sympathetic smile.

“Okay,” she said, still dazed. Clayton glanced at Needy, somewhat anxious that one wrong move on his part and the man might knock him senseless. Or worse. Still, he placed his hand on her side, wrapping his arm around her back and steadily guided her towards the crate, where she sat.

Needy stared at the two of them but didn’t say anything. Soul, on the other hand, looked intently at the former companion, goading him to respond.

“We can’t stay here you know,” Soul finally said, plainly. “We gotta move, now.”

The man looked back at the bounty hunter. He was still unconscious. But for how long?

We ain’t going anywhere,” Needy answered.
“What you talking about?” Soul asked.

Needy turned to face him now, his eyes were piercing daggers. “You almost got her killed, again,” Needy responded. “This is where we part ways.”

“What?” Soul asked, dumbfounded.

“Get off this rock, away from us,” Needy says, his eyes shooting to the floor now. “And don’t come back.”

“Needy,” Soul says, reaching out and grabbing the man by the shoulder. “We need to stick together. Especially now.”

“No!” Needy says, snapping his head up. “You hear me, Marshall. I want you gone. Ever since I ran with you, I’ve seen nothing but death. But I won’t see hers.”

Needy looked across at Kyra sitting on the crate across the way, out of earshot. Clayton kept glancing up to look across at Needy, whilst he spoke with Kyra.

Soul tried to reason with Needy—he could see in the companion’s eyes that there was something he wasn’t saying, something he was struggling with, maybe even struggling with himself—but before he was given a chance to speak, Needy cut in again.

“I’m not going to lose her again, you understand?” Needy put to him. “I want you out of our lives for good. We’re moving on. I suggest you do the same.”

Needy stared down at the hand still gripped around his arm and with a shrug, shook the man loose.

“Needy, I…” he began, but the companion kept his back to the man.

“If i ever see you again, it will be your life on the line, not hers,” Needy said clearly. “Dong ma?”

The young man never turned to face Soul, but he didn’t need to. After looking at the scene around him, the young woman being looked after by the stranger; the bounty hunter sleeping in the dirt; and the man he’d once called a friend now literally having turned his back on him; Soul realised the truth was all too apparent. His place wasn’t here, with these people, not anymore. There was only one person he wanted to be with, only one that truly understood him, but she was gone now too. The next journey he would take, he would have to do so alone.

***

Meanwhile, Clayton spoke quietly but clearly with Kyra.

“I know this is not the best time Kyra, but you need to hear me out on this,” he said, whilst the young woman could but only look at him, vaguely listening to the words he was speaking.

“Bernard Needham is not who you think he is. We thought he was dead, both of us. Back on Boros. And I don’t think a damn thing’s changed. That ain’t him anymore.”

“What are you talking about Payne?” Kyra muttered, holding her hand to her head.

“He’s dangerous. Killed people, innocent people. Federal agents murdered, I’ve seen it for myself.”

“You’re out of your mind,” she said, squinting up to look at her partner.

“No. Whatever happened to him on Boros changed him,” Clayton explained. “He’s not...”

“Not what?” a voice intruded.

Clayton snapped around to see Needy was standing there, the vague figure of Soul now disappearing across the yard.

Clayton stood upright, and put himself in between Kyra and her lover. Staring at Needy, Payne continued, “You’re not him.” Then he pushes, “Why don’t you tell her? Tell her the truth for once.”

Kyra stares at the two men, uncertain about it all and whether it was all really happening. Was she still unconscious in the bounty hunter’s ship somewhere and just dreaming this?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Needy bites. “But if we don’t leave now, it won’t make a damn bit of difference.”
Clayton stared at him, but Needy only turned to look at Kyra.
“They’re coming,” the companion said to her. “They’re coming back. And we’ve got to move.”

Needy approached Kyra but stopped as Clayton stepped up and pushed a hand into his chest, holding him away.

“She ain’t going anywhere with you,” Clayton stated clearly.

Needy barely acknowledged the man. Instead he still looked at Kyra, the young woman whose clothes and arms were covered in dust and dirt, and her face looking as though she’d just ran clear out of a warzone. It wasn’t far from the truth.

“You okay to move?” Needy asked, looking beyond Clayton.

“You hear me, Needham?” Clayton said. “Back off! What she needs is a hospital, a safe place, not jumping aboard some wagon train to the stars. If you truly cared about her, you’d see to it that she got as far away from your criminal friends as possible.”

Needy stared down at the man’s hand whilst Kyra, sensing it could all turn messy in a few seconds, stood and placed a hand on Clayton’s shoulder. “Calm down. Bernie’s right, we should leave.”

Clayton glanced at the hand on his shoulder, then back to his own hand, firmly planted upon the man’s chest. Needham could have snapped the man’s wrist in a second, perhaps even tore his hand straight off—Clayton wouldn’t have put it past him—so perhaps his move wasn’t the smartest. But he had to stand up for what he thought was right.

“Yeah we should,” Payne answered. “But it’s not safe with him here too.”

“Payne, for God’s sake,” Kyra sighed, exasperated.

Needy stared at the man’s hand now, as if wanting to do as Clayton had feared, but holding himself back for Kyra’s sake. Instead he stepped back in a peaceful gesture and held his hands up in the air, almost as if the reporter’s hand had been a gun meant to tear a hole in the man’s heart.

“There’s no such thing as a safe place anymore,” Needy said. “No agency that isn’t corrupted. They know who we are, they know who Kyra is and they know who you are Clayton Payne. You think because you’re on the wrong side of me now that it makes any bit of difference to them? You’re in their sights now just like I was; just like Kyra is. The only
safe place for any of us is in the sky, out in the black. No such thing as a safe place, not on this rock or on any other.”

Clayton bit his lip and felt his hand lowering. He glanced back again to look at Kyra, still with her hand on his shoulder, still trying to calm him.
Maybe he was right. He didn’t trust the man, not one bit, especially given what he’d heard. But Clayton had connections. The Resistance, the true resistance—not this band of outsiders running around, causing trouble—had the means to hide someone, to keep them safe. At least, they had been able to, before the arrests had happened. But maybe there was still a way. A way off this rock and a place where he could keep Kyra safe. Maybe, if he could trick Needham into believing they would go along with him, they could still get out of this alive and in one piece.

Clayton looked into Needy’s eyes finally, as if trying to see the true person that hid beneath, and then opened his mouth to answer.

No word came out.

Just a crack of a whip. A bang. And Clayton found himself thrown back, knocking Kyra aside.

Again, another crack and a bullet hits the ground, exploding sand around their feet.

Needy threw himself forward, ignoring Clayton’s body as it fell, and shielded Kyra as another two bullets hit him square in the back - bullets meant for her.

Sliding her behind the crate, he jumped up from behind it again, his gun now held tightly in his hand and fired a round of bullets behind him, causing the snipers to dive for cover.

Clayton coughed and cringed as blood crawled out of his chest.
Helplessly, he gazed and watched as Kyra cowered behind the crate, muffling her ears with her hands. Needy fired another round and spoke words that Clayton couldn’t hear.

As he barked another order, Kyra looked out towards Clayton, with silent tears running down her cheek. A stray hand reached out for him but it soon withdrew when a burst of bullets sprayed the earth around them.
A bullet hit Clayton’s leg, causing him to shriek in pain. The bullet felt like it had shattered his shin bone.
Needy shouted again to Kyra, only this time she nodded and shouted back with an affirm answer.

Then, as Needy lifted open the metal crate, he encircled it with another round of fire, giving Kyra the opportunity to dive inside. Knocking it shut, encasing the young woman in a perfect durable prison, he jumped back to where she had hidden and laid his gun on the ground.

Clayton stared at the man, even as bullets continued to surround them, but Needy remained still, muttering words to himself almost as if he was praying. His eyes were closed, deep in meditation. His hands touched the earth, caressing the dirt, as if finding himself, feeling his location.

Clayton called out to him. “Do something, they’re coming!”

The man was right. Some of the agents had silently approached, their comrades laying down coverfire. Some of the men were close to the shed, where Kurren the bounty hunter had once hid. It was only a matter of time.

But Needy ignored all these factors, instead he continued to keep his eyes closed, to mutter those indecipherable words, and to stroke the ground. Finally, he pushed his hands behind him until they both touched the outside of the crate. And as he snapped his eyes open, the crate, and Needy himself, vanished.

As if in thin air.

Clayton blinked, and blinked again.
He imagined he was dying and in his last breaths had begun to hallucinate. But he hadn’t. Neither had the men that now stopped dead in their tracks, astounded by the miracle that had just taken place before their eyes.

One of the men, a leader no doubt, stepped closer until he stood over Clayton’s body.

He looked down at the man, tilted his head, as if pondering
"What have we here?" and asked the man in his gruff husky voice, “Where did they go?”

He asked again. But no answer was forthcoming. Clayton merely looked upward, the sun burning his irises.

He didn’t know what had happened. But a part of him was glad it had. Kyra was safe. But then, as he thought it over a bit more, his heart began to groan. She was gone. She had gone with
him.
She may have been safe from them, these men. But she wasn’t safe from him. In fact, her escape may have just sealed her fate.

*****

Kyra felt queasy, almost seasick. It was as if they’d been on a ship in freefall. Or on a boat during the worst storm. But she had no idea why she felt this way. It had come over her all of a sudden, instantaneously. But there was something else strange in this pitch black box. She couldn’t hear a thing. Before, she’d heard scuffling, she’d heard deep thuds as bullets hit the crate, she’d heard distant calls, but too muffled to understand.
But now, everything was silent. Deathly silent.

Finally, with a jolt of her body, the crate opened up.

Needy stood there, blood dripping down his face although his body showed no evidence of cuts or bullet holes.

Outside of the crate it looked dark, a glaring contrast considering the bright sunshine that had peaked behind the clouds moments ago.
Kyra sat up, still dazed and looked over the edge of the crate.

They were in a cargo hold, otherwise empty with the exception of the two of them.

“What happened?” she asked.

Needy himself seemed somewhat dazed too, uncharacteristically so. Evidently the fire-fight had taken something out of him too.

Looking around more, and realising the absurdity of it all, she next exclaimed, “Where the hell are we? What—?” She held her head as she felt a dizziness come over her. She wasn’t even standing, but even so, she felt she might collapse any moment.

“I can’t explain it,” Needy said. “Only that… we’re safe now.”

“But… Payne?” she said, remembering. “What—where is he? We have to go back.”

“We can’t,” he answered. “I’m sorry, I really am. But it’s not safe.”

“You just…” Kyra struggled to keep her eyes open. “You left him?”

“We had to,” Needy explained. “I tried to get to him. But it was too late. And I couldn’t—I could only get you out of there.”

She sighed heavily and held onto her head, as if it might fall off if she didn’t. “He said… I mean, he tried to save us.”

“He did,” Needy answered matter-of-factly. “He saved you. And he made sure we got off safe.”

“But he said…” Kyra stumbled.

“Babe,” Needy said, finally showing some humanity as he reached down and placed a hand on his lover’s cheek. “You know me. All your friend wanted was for you to be out of harm’s way. That’s all that I want too. I’m sorry I got you involved in this. Got you mixed up with my… friends. But I won’t put you through that again. I swear to you. All that matters to me, is you.”

Kyra’s head weighed heavy on her and, with the weight of it in the palm of his hand, she closed her eyes and drifted to sleep.

Needy watched her with interest, looked deep within her and examined her head, blood still drying upon it. Then, with his other hand, he reached up and rested it upon her wound, healing the cut with his warm skin upon hers.

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Monday, September 12, 2011 6:05 AM

KYRA

Who we are depends on the outcome of the struggle between who we were and who we want to be


The young woman made her way down the corridor of the aft passage, turning left where the steps led down to the corridor.

She’d been on a Firefly craft before, although this Raven looked older and yet in a better condition than the last one. Even so, all Fireflies were all the same as far as she was concerned. Although some were larger than the older models, and there may be one or two modifications here and there, the design and structure more or less remained the same. And Julie Torn knew her way around one like the back of her hand.

She cut past the infirmary and was heading for the passenger quarters when she stopped on the spot.

The acting captain, Safe, stood leaning against a wall, looking out at the two corridors that opened up before him. It bothered him that no sooner had they purchased the ship, that they’d already had themselves a prisoner, not to mention that said prisoner had once been a friend of theirs.

The captain turned and nodded at the girl, his face long and features worn. The slap she had given him earlier still stung when he thought about it. Maybe he’d been out of line. He couldn’t tell anymore. Whatever that counted as a conscience within him was now as unreliable as the comms had been down on Albion. The events of the last two years certainly hadn’t helped. They’d taken their toll on him and it sure did show—in his drawn face; in his eyes. His irises were the deepest black, like bottomless wells. To look into them was to see into his soul, a man lost in the darkness.

Although the girl didn’t say anything, she understood. She’d seen the same look in another man’s eyes, once upon a time.

As he gazed at her with those pained eyes, she dignified him with a smile, an unspoken apology for her actions hours earlier.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

She nodded absently, before asking “How is he?”

Safe looked back towards the left corridor. The man was locked up in the room at the end. He had a bed and all the comforts of a room to himself, only with a chain linking his ankle to the wall grating.

“He’s patched up, should be good,” Safe answered. Sighing, he suddenly recalled how it had once been. Life on The Sereni-Tree, even on The Epsilon, seemed like a lifetime ago. “Then again, I didn’t think we’d ever need to patch him up again. Always had a knack for doing that himself. You know what I mean?”

He turned to look at her. She was quiet, her mind clearly busy processing things.

“I’m sorry about before,” Safe said plainly, as if he owed it to her. “And I’m sorry about your father. He was… he was a good man.”

If he was going to captain this crew for the time being, he needed to make sure things ran as smoothly as possible. He couldn’t afford to worry about whether one of them was going to stab him in the back given half the chance. Keeping the peace was necessary as far as he was concerned.
"How are you holding up?” he asked her.

At one time, Julie might have launched into another argument, accusing the man before her of all the things she considered to have gone wrong in her life over the past few years. But she’d made her point earlier. And so had he. In truth, the man was right, to an extent, and she knew it. Besides which, the worst crime that had been committed against her had occurred long before the resistance had walked into their lives. Truth was this verse was full of all sorts of wickedness. There weren’t no changing that. Best one could hope for was to ally yourself with someone you could trust and hope that they’ll cover your back when you needed to.

She’d had a man like that. But now he was gone. Now she was out in the black on her own.

“Maybe you ought to get some rest,” Safe offered finally when the only answer he’d gotten was a blank look. “It’s been a long day.”

“I want to see him,” Julie suddenly answered, her words taking the man by surprise.

“Sorry?” Safe shot her a concerned look. “I don’t think that would be good idea.”

“I need to…” she began but he cut her off.

“He’s out. Seems he don’t have the energy nowadays like he used to.” Then, choosing his words carefully, adds. “Assuming, that is, you wanted to talk.”

“Course,” she answers, though her gaze was fixed on the corridor ahead.

“Listen, Julie, I don’t pretend to understand what you’re going through right now, but my only concern is for the safety of everyone on this ship. And until I know where I stand with Needy, I can’t let anyone else in there to speak to him.”

“So, when you planning on talking to him?” Julie put to him.

Safe didn’t answer her with words but with a stare that told her in no uncertain way, Don’t ask, just leave it to me. “Get some sleep. The room’s made up for you. And I’ll come to you in the morning. We’ll discuss this then.”

Julie bit her lip, took one last look down the corridor and shook her head. “I just want to talk to him.”

“In the morning. First thing. We’ll talk.”

Julie sighed. “We can talk now.”

But instead of an answer Safe just stared at her. His glare was firm, his message clear.

“Okay, fine,” she answered, turning away and heading back towards the steps. “First thing,” she called out, having the last word.

As she disappeared, Safe looked back at the rooms. There were only so many bunks in the fore passage, and he’d given them to the rest of the crew and passengers. It was safer up there, as far from these rooms as possible. But then again, if the man was truly dangerous and should escape, it wouldn’t matter where they were sleeping.

Safe headed down the left corridor and entered the room next to Needy’s. There, the bunk had sheets thrown on top, unmade. It wasn’t glamourous, but it was close-by. Should anything go down, he’d be the first to know.



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Monday, September 12, 2011 8:00 AM

SAFEAT2ND


Safe placed the cup of steaming coffee on the control panel next to Wisp, and dropped into the co-pilot’s seat cradling his own cup.

The silence settled back into place in the cockpit like a pond smoothing after the stone sank below its surface; occasionally broken by the navigation computer and Wisp’s typing.

Wisp finally looked up, sniffing the air and noticing the coffee. It was like he had climbed back out of the computer. “Oh, hey, thanks!” he said as he took the first tentative sip of his coffee. He leaned back in his chair and propped his boots on the control panel’s edge. “Why’re you still up?”

Safe continued to stare at the stars beyond the overhead windows, “Enh… sleep is highly overrated.”

Wisp quirked an eyebrow at him, “that so? Wouldn’t have anything to do with the chain tying Needy to his room, would it?”

“Nah… it’s too loud.”

Wisp paused and listened to the ship creak and groan and the soft thrumming of the engines. “Are getting deep on me? I’ll lose all respect for you.”

Safe turned and offered Wisp a weak grin. “I dunno Wisp, this just keeps getting harder and harder or maybe I’m just getting softer.”
Wisp shook his head and turned back to the keyboard. “I don’t think it’s right either, but on the other hand there is something off about him.”

Wisp heard Safe sigh and knew he wasn’t the only one to feel that way.

Silence filled the cockpit again broken this time by the distant clang of a bunk door closing and boots on the walkway towards them. Seryn entered and stopped, momentarily confused. “I thought it was my turn on deck.”

Wisp looked at his watch and nodded, “Yep, it is. Safe was just… wandering, keeping me company for abit.” He stood and stretched, grimacing as he did so. “I think I’ll tuck. The landing was not a precise as I had hoped. She’s all yours.”

Seryn nodded as Wisp left, and sank into the vacated chair.

Safe continued to watch the stars, his coffee going cold beside him as Seryn kept glancing over at him waiting for him to say something.

When all he offered was silence, she took the initiative. “You wanna talk?”

Safe leaned forward in his chair and slowly stood, “yea, I suppose I do. Might as well get it over with now; less chance of being interrupted.”

“Listen Safe, I… that is…” Seryn stammered suddenly uncomfortable where this was going.

“Thanks Seryn,” Safe smiled at her unease. “But it’s not you I need to talk to.” He turned and walked out of the cockpit, his steps heavy and slow.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011 11:23 AM

NEEDY

The road to Hel is paved with good intentions


Needy sat square on the floor, his back against the wall. His left foot was secured by a metal chain which ran across the floor and attached itself to the metal grating along the lower half of the wall. Still, he had room to move about the confines of the room. Even so he remained seated, his knees propped up as he stared at his own hands, open before him. He stroked the palm of his right hand with his left, and maneuvered each digit as if it was something new to him. He marvelled at how complex it was in design and yet so simple to control. His own body was a wonder and one he’d taken for granted.

The door to the room clunked as it was opened from the outside and Safe stepped in.

Needy took his eyes away from his hands and looked up at the man, an ambivalent look upon his face – a mix of determination and apprehension, or sorrow and relief. In truth he didn’t know what to feel. Didn’t know what to think. That’s why he was there, and Needy knew it.

Safe pulled up a crate and took a seat upon it, staring at the young man.

Needy looked to have aged some. He was still young looking, in his mid to late twenties. But his heavy stubble and scruffy hair was a far cry from the neat and well put-together companion that he had known before. His eyes were somewhat bloodshot and his skin pale. Of course, the gunshot he had sustained might have gone some way to explain his current appearance.

“So,” Safe began. “You gonna tell me what’s going on?”

Needy smirked a little out of the corner of his mouth. “Julie put you up to this, didn’t she?” he started. “I would have said Kyra but, seeing how she reacted before, I don’t imagine she’s interested in talking to me anymore…” Then, Needy hesitated as he thought about the situation. “Unless of course, you’re just here to shoot me some more.”

Safe shook his head, mainly in disbelief. “And why the hell would I do that?”

“I don’t know,” he answered with a shrug. “Maybe cos I told you the truth about Milton. Maybe you could use getting some of your anger out and I’d make a good target. Kyra seemed to think so.”

“Yeah, well,” Safe patted his vest and his trouser pockets, “I guess I forgot my pistol.”

“Nah, you’re just worried if you got close enough I might use it against you,” Needy said with a smile. Safe didn’t know if he was being serious or not.

Safe shook his head slowly and answered. “No, I’m just not keen on wasting a bullet on a friend. I figured that’s what we were, friends right? Tell me I’m wrong.”

Needy didn’t answer, just stared at the man.

“See I can waste a bullet on you if you want, certainly make things simpler, but I think after all we’ve been through I owe you the benefit of a doubt. Can’t say that others on-board are likely to offer the same. But I figure you owe me the truth. I saved your life once. The least you could do is give me the truth.”

“The truth?” Needy says “I don’t think you could handle it.”

“Save it Needy, tell me what happened.”

“What happened? Well it’s up for debate. You tell me Safe, what do you remember? Do you remember Serenity?”

“What?” Safe said, unsure what the man was getting at.

“Serenity. She was a soldier, like you. She was involved with Soul.”
Safe shook his head. The companion had lost it.

“You remember saving me on Boros, but you don’t remember her. She was the reason why you found me. She was the reason why we’re here today.”

Safe scoffed. “Tell me the truth, Needy. Enough of this.”

“I’m telling you the truth. Just because you don’t remember, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Serenity. Commerce. Heinz, remember him, his face all scarred up.”

Safe’s eyes twitched, as if something said had unnerved him. He’d been on the verge of shouting at the man but then his voice had been silence. His brain had told him to shut up and listen. There was something altogether familiar about what the man was saying.

“Commerce. Serenity got herself kidnapped and we were there, you, me, Soul, Jennings, Grunt, SR… any of this ringing any bells?”

Safe didn’t want to admit anything. But the truth was he knew there was something in what he was saying. He could remember it, vaguely. Like the way one struggles to remember a dream, many hours after waking.

“We saved her. But not before we saw something that many would have assumed was impossible. There was a portal and what came out of it was not Serenity like we would have hoped. But something else. Something that took on her form and disappeared just as quickly.”

Safe was shaking his head blindly but he knew there was truth in it. It had happened. So why couldn’t he remember it?

“I know you’re confused, I’ve been there, believe me,” Needy said. “A long time ago I was told that I’d been somewhere I didn’t remember. That I’d travelled back to Earth-that-was at a time that I knew I couldn’t have. Only now I know the truth. That was me. It’s just… so much has changed, it’s difficult to know what’s real and what’s not.”

Safe pressed his hand against his head, trying to hold back the incredible headache he could feel building up and starting to pound against him. It felt as if Needy was trying to get into his head, to drive him mad. And he would not stand for it. “Tell me what happened.” Safe said, emphasizing each word individually.

“You want to know why I killed Milton,” Needy deduced.

“Yes. Why?” Safe continued to hold his head. Maybe it was anger and frustration. Maybe it was the strain of trying to recall impossible events. Or just maybe time was taking its toll on him.

“You said you saved me once,” Needy said. “You’re right, in a way. I was just repaying the favour.”

Safe dropped his hand and tried to focus not on the pain, but on Needy’s word once more. “What are you talking about?”

“I killed Milton, I sacrificed him, my friend, for you. For Kyra, for this crew. I was protecting you all. I surrendered my humanity for that instant because, if I hadn’t, all of this would have gone to hell.”

“You trying to say he was a plant?” Safe asked. “Like Ciaran?”

“No,” Needy answered without hesitation. “He was just... he was just young and naïve. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t a danger. He got Special Branch imprisoned. Didn’t mean it. Didn’t mean a gorram thing. But they’re in prison still, because of him. I did it because, if I hadn’t, things were going to get worse. That was just the first bad decision he was going to make.”

“You’re gonna have to explain that,” Safe pushed

“I saw it. You understand? I know you don’t believe me right now. But you used to. Even when you knew what was going on, what was happening to me. The things I could do, it didn’t make sense but it didn’t matter because you trusted me. I’m asking you Safe, trust me again. What I did, I had to. Because my… abilities… showed me things.”

“What things?” Safe said, intrigued and somewhat disturbed.

Needy sighed and hung his head. “I saw my life, my life I could have lived if I had made different choices…”

“I think I saw this picture…” Safe said in derision.

“This ain’t a joke. Gorram it, Safe I died. You know that. Well, after that, things were never the same. I saw things. I felt, I knew, how things would turn out but I didn’t want to believe it. I hoped there was another way. Gorram it, I even thought that if I could get back to Kyra, to fix things before they got bad, before I even joined your crew… that this crisis could be averted. But this is a set course we’re on, and to think I could have stopped it with one different choice, even with a major event, was arrogant of me.”

“And so, instead, you kill Milton.” Safe sums up. “You know Needy, you ask me to trust you. But the Needy I knew, the one I placed my trust in, was not like you. He would never have sacrificed a friend, no matter if it was for the greater good. That’s not us. That’s Expendables’ thinking. That’s them. Not us. And it’s not something I can forgive.”

“No?” Needy says. “See the way I remember it is there was a soldier once. A kid, just turned eighteen, young, patriotic. He meant the best, he fought for his people, fought with honour. But when it came down to it. When he was pinned down in the black valley of Entrada, all his superior officers dead and it was only him, alone, defending a group of civilians. He was willing to make a sacrifice, to make that choice. He killed a man, maybe an old man riddled with disease, but a man nonetheless. For the sake of those civilians. Did it hurt him? Yes. But he knew it was what he had to do. And so he did it. He surrendered his humanity.”

Safe stared at Needy, his blood running cold. He’d never told anyone that story. “Who told you that?” he asked, his words numbed with painful memories

Needy looked up at the former soldier. “You did.”

“Sonofabitch!” Safe growled, letting his anger getting the better of him as he stormed towards the chained-up man. “Who told you?” He wrapped his hands around the man’s collar and shook him. “Enough of this go se. Who are you?!”
Safe slammed him back against the wall and walked away.

“Who am I?” Needy said. “Will you listen to yourself? I’m telling you the truth. You trusted me, and you told me everything, maybe it was another life, but it was you. How else would I know? It’s time you stopped worrying about me and started worrying about Soul!”

Safe stopped and snapped his head back. “What are you talking about?”

“Soul,” Needy said slowly, making sure there was no misunderstanding. “It’s him. At the end. At the end of it all. I’ve seen it, seen how it all plays out. And it’s him. It’s him you need to worry about.”



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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 4:18 AM

SOULOFSERENITY

The Man They Call Soul...



They walked in silence for a while, the desolate landscape around them silent, not even the wind whispering. Marshall walked slightly behind and to the left, and he took the time to study his new companion. Short dusty hair, several days’ growth of stubble on his cheeks, and an eye patch covering one eye. He wore what could only be described as a military uniform, but it looked more like a hodgepodge of dozens of military uniforms sewn together haphazardly rather than one specific design. A rifle of some sort hung across his back, an ancient revolver at his side, and no less than five knives were sheathed on his chest and legs. Dark boots covered in dirt and what looked like blood kicked up the dust as he walked, but even his footfalls remained silent. Despite his odd appearance, Marshall couldn't help but to feel safe and secure with the man.

"What do you remember," the Safe man asked him.

"The field. Images of a family, a house, but those are fading."

They walked a bit further in silence. As they went, the rifle was unslung. A hand was raised, and they stopped.

"Look", Safe commanded gently, pointing. "What do you see?"

Marshall held a hand over his eyes to shield them from the unyielding sun. At first, he only saw an unbroken horizon, but then he made out a small blot, moving quickly away from them. Safe handed over the rifle, instructing him to look through the scope. After a moment of fiddling, a figure came into view, a man in a long black trench coat, feet a blur as he chased the horizon.

"Who is that?"

"You don't remember?"

Lowering the rifle, Marshall sighed. "I feel like I should know who he is, and who you are, but..."

Safe took the rifle. "Take a look around you. What do you see?"

Marshall spun in place. "Nothing. Just barren, emptiness."

"Look through the scope again." Safe handed the rifle back and pointed in the direction the man had gone.

Marshall peered through, but instead of the man in the trench coat heading away from them, he saw another figure moving towards them, seeming to float along like a wisp on the wind.

"Your problem isn't so much your memory as it is your vision," Safe explained. "You spend so much time looking at the big picture, at everything around you that you lose sight of the things, the people that really matter."

"How does that help me?"

"One thing at a time." Safe placed a hand on Marshall's shoulder. "We're here."

"But we haven't moved--" Marshall began as he lowered the rifle, but the words caught in his throat. The ground in front of them was gone, ending in a ragged line only a few inches in front of their feet. In the void, clouds stirred, giving fleeing glimpses of something beyond them as they churned. The hovering figure he had seen through the scope was now hovering just beyond the precipice, a floating wisp wearing the face of a boy, but with eyes that looked far older. The boy smiled softly, and turned to Safe.

"How is he, old man?"

"He's on the way," Safe replied with a growl. "Keep him going, but don't let him turn back. He's not ready for that yet."

"Ready for what?" Marshall asked, turning; Safe shot out a hand and stopped him.

"You're not ready," he stated again, this time with steel in his voice. "You've got no foundation yet. You try to face what's behind you, what's past, it'll destroy you. Again."

"What do you mean, again?"

Safe shook his head and spoke, this time softer. "I've walked with you as far as I can go. You need to go on." He turned away from the cliff and raised the rifle, aiming past Marshall and chambering a round. "I'll keep you safe as long as I can."

The boy with the haunted eyes held out his hand. "Time to fly," he said, and then grinned. "Man, that sounded cheesy. Just jump, I'll do the rest."

Marshall hesitated, and then took a deep breath, stepping to the precipice. Safe glanced over at him, nodding once.

"Time to fly," Marshall whispered, and leapt from the cliff after Wisp.


_______________________________________________


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Wednesday, September 28, 2011 10:51 AM

WASHSYOUNGERSEXIERBR

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges


“William! William dear!” The lady cooed trotting down the dirt street towards him holding her skirts high so they wouldn’t catch on the dusty ground.

Wisp turned and smiled at the approaching mass of petticoats “Mrs Hubbard, What can I do for you this fine morning?” He rested the ladder he had been carrying over his shoulder and paused waiting for her to catch up.

She quickly met up with him wafting herself with an oriental fan trying not to show she was feeling the scorching desert heat. “I’m so glad I caught you! You see my freezing unit has decided today of all days to pack up an die with no regard for the women’s association coming round this afternoon for iced tea. Could you be a dear and come and have a look at it for me?”

Wisp grinned wildly “Of course Mrs Hubbard. Lemme just drop my ladder off at the saloon I was going to finish the condenser on their water tower but that can wait till I’ve dealt with this emergency”

“You my boy are an angel! You sure the maker didn’t send you to us?” She replied with a giggle.

“No ma’am” He dropped into a comical boy “I'm but a mortal man handy with a sonic screwdriver”

“And a hammer, and a computer, and a cocktail shaker, and a side arm. You are a genuine renaissance man.”

“I try my hardest. Give me ten minutes to get the rest of my tool’s and ill have you enough ice for a bucket of iced tea.”

Wisp had been on Blessing for around three months now and had fully ingrained himself with the locals. After his public and violent break up with Vixen he had got himself a berth to this newly terraformed planet on the rim. Still a might too hot and dry for full colonisation he was one of the first settlers making the place habitable. He’d come to the town of Campbell as the residents were at the end of their rope. Help had been abundant at first building a houses and shops for everyone butthings had begun breaking down and seizing up and no-one had the know how to repair things. Then Wisp had shown up from the heavens in a barely functioning shuttle to answer their prayers. In no time he had fixed everything and built a few things to make life easier. He was a month away from being made mayor everyone joked. In payment he only asked for hospitality and aid in fixing his ship.

The town only had a few hundred people living in it but everyone knew Wisp and most had had something fixed by him. In his evenings he even worked in the saloon as a barkeep regaling all with jokes and tales of adventure across the cosmos. The clientele didn’t know how much was fact or fiction but they were entertained nonetheless. The young women in the town had taken an extra special shine to him and many of their fathers had approached him saying that if he decided to stay they’d be honoured to have him as a son in law.

Wisp welcomed the change of pace from the stress of interstellar crime with an abusive psycho girlfriend. It was good honest work for people who needed help and he was happy to do it. He was still repairing his shuttle when he got a free moment but it had slipped from his priority list. He had a little place that was slowly creeping into his psyche of somewhere called home. He got to the saloon and lent his ladder against the wall as the landlady came out onto the porch to greet him.

“Morning William, you finishing that condenser off today?”

“Afraid not Chloe. I was just on my way to do it when I got collared by Mrs Hubbard. Her freezing units broken and heaven forbid her and her lady’s might have to drink only cold tea”
Chloe let out a light and gentle laugh as an honest grin took hold of her. Campbell had only one saloon which served as entertainment and watering hole for all its residents. Chloe O'Shea was the landlady, barmaid, cook, manager and bouncer until Wisp came along, willing and eager to take off some of the burden. He had also taken upon the job of keeping her company after the bar had shut usually leading to him helping opening the next morning.

Chloe stood at a tall and slender 5'6 ish with long blonde hair that refused to be tamed in the dry heat no matter how hard she tried. Her face was narrow with high cheek bones and soft eyes portraying an image of a classic beauty with an open heart.

"I'll try and be back before lunch but if not i'll definitely get it done tomorrow."

"There ain't no worries darlin' you just get to it when you can. Oh and Mr Florrel is coming in tonight with a few friends from up in Bluecreek to try your famous martinis so dont strain yourself too hard"

"oh well i was gonna pop over before my shift " Wisp said with a grin "but if im not supposed to work hard."

"well I never did..."

It was at this moment a lanky boy of fifteen or so came running into town half dead from exhaustion. He was shouting wildly as sweat shook from him in droves .

"Whoa calm down boy. Chloe grab this kid some water."

The young man collapsed at the steps of the bar panting and clawing for breath. "What is it? Whats all the drama?."

Chloe appeared carrying a large flask of water which the boy half drank half poured over himself. By this point a crowd had gathered round the spectacle oozing small town voyeurism.

"Reavers" he finally managed "they hit Bluecreek. Everybody's dead.' the crowd now recoiled in horror from the boy, faces gripped in fear and mouths half forming whispers.

Wisp stood up with hard resolve over him "Everyone spread the word. Do NOT panic" he emphasised the panic part. He stood calm and strong as the crowd were falling to pieces, they now fully believed his stories of galactic adventure which had previously been dismissed as tall stories. "warn everyone in town to get into cellars and attics and barricade the doors. We do have time so they should bring food and water. Anyone who has combat or shooting experience i'd like you on the roof of the saloon, however if you want to be with your families I wont judge. Go now and move quickly."

The crowd shot off like robots around the town quickly informing other residents. Shock was too strong to allow fear. Silent tears streamed down most faces with hands and knees trembling. Wisp turned to face Chloe, her face quaking whilst his was cold and firm.

"I need you to go to my shuttle. There is a black bag under the bed with a red band. Do not open it just bring it to the roof. Go now."

Out of fear and obedience more than trust she set off at a jog to his shuttle. Wisp entered the bar and took the shotgun from behind the bar. He then activated the sprinklers and set all the taps to flow. Wisp knew all about reavers from his unofficial academy lectures. As much as the alliance denied their existence they weren’t idiots of ignorance. Wisp knew his best chance was to draw them to a killing zone which would be the roof. He also knew they'd try to burn it down hence the water.

By the time he got outside a group of men with rifles had gathered outside. They were sweating for more reasons than the blazing sun. He saw fear in their faces and no hope in their eyes, a dangerous combination if there ever was one. He thought back to his own lectures and tried to give as much inspiration to them as he could even though he knew the information he had to give was grim.

"We're gonna make our stand on the roof. As soon as you can make a confident shot take it, don't try and be a sniper if you're not. Make every shot count and keep your ass in cover. They're gonna wanna get up close and try hand to hand. They'll throw up ropes, maybe try and climb up by hand. When we reach that stage just clear the walls. If things start going south i'll give the command to fall back to the water tower, theres two ladders so cover the man before and climb fast. We're all scared, and im not gonna lie about anything. Any reavers who do come are gonna be chasing escapees from Bluecreek. We're too small to send a ship at. If we're lucky not many will come our way. If so we can take em out from up here. If we're not lucky a lot are gonna come our way. They'll try and smoke us out or get up here. Hold firm. We can save this town. I've been in a lot of bad corners and come out the other side. Now get up the ladder and spread out on the west side, keep your ammo close and organized. If you have any gods you got a hankering to pray to you've got some time. Good luck."

Chloe came running up with Wisps bag as the men exchanged handshakes and headed up to the roof. A few more had arrived during the speech and the defence force now stood at ten men of varying ages. "Am I in time? Is this the right bag?"

Plenty of time there’s no sightings yet. And yep that’s the right one. Here swap." Wisp handed her the shotgun and bandolier from the bar and took his satchel. "we're making our stand on the roof. Keep your head and you'll be fine. I want you to concentrate on any you see with torches or grenades."

"William I’m scared. How do you know all about this? How do you know what to do?"

"I was trained in a military academy. I spent a long time learning how to do this. I also spent a while applying it for all the wrong reasons. I promise ill tell you everything after were done." Wisp looked into her eyes and saw her questions and her doubts. He wanted to tell her it would all be okay and she had no reason to worry but he knew that wasn't true and he didn't have time. He helped her onto the ladder and followed her up dragging the ladder with him. The men had formed a rough front on the west side with a space in the middle for Wisp. Instead of joining formation he went to the middle of the roof and unlocked his bag. In his time with Vixen he'd picked up some bad habits with the number of weapons he carried. This was now a very lucky factor as he had a minor arsenal with him. Picking out his sniper rifle and a good close combat riot shotgun for himself he distributed the remaining weapons amongst his soldiers replacing aging hunting rifles with sleek machine guns and pulse weapons.

Before taking his position he walked down the line exchanging handshakes and personal words encouragement. He took extra time to comfort Chloe who was visibly shaken. Eventually he couldn't delay any longer taking his spot and looking down the sight towards Bluecreek.

A sea of reavers approached. More than a hundred. Wisp looked away from his scope and cursed quietly. It would be difficult and close. They would be visible to the naked eye soon as well. To demoralize his already faltering force.

"They are just men" he shouted "broken and twisted but still men. And men bleed."

He returned to his scope and began to open fire. For nearly an hour. He chipped away at the approaching hoard, long before his allies could see what he was hitting. Eventually though the Reavers came into sight, a black shadow covering the golden plain. Wisp was taking them out quickly but without heavy artillery it was on a one shot one hit basis. He reckoned he could take out half of them before they arrived but the strain was beginning to show. His arm and finger burned with fatigue, sweat stung his eyes as he focused over and over. The other men on the roof were starting to feel equally afraid of the killing machine with them as the ones approaching.

Eventually despite his best efforts some were getting close to town, the pack now spread out upon their approach.
"They're here. Do not let them get onto this roof. Do not falter and we will all see nightfall.'

The first reaver got into shooting range and a barrage of gunfire met it. The body exploded in a crimson shower giving the defender's a morsel of morale. Wisp concentrated on enemies at a distance leaving ones that got past to the rest but soon the base of the saloon was surrounded. Switching to his shotgun he began moving round the perimeter blasting clumps of invaders who tried to climb up. If he found a moment he threw grenades into particularly cramped groups.

The smell was overwhelming now. Blood, gunpowder, sweat, and burnt flesh coated the air. Wisp blocked it to the back of his mind along with his fatigue but it was getting to the others. Rate of fire was dropping, pauses were beginning to lengthen as reloads were fumbled. Then a hook flew up dragging the first man down to his cannibalistic fate. Wisp shouted at the others to keep going but their will was broken. The tide had nearly been defeated, it had been so close. Reavers began finding footholds on the rooftop. Wisp stopped as many as he could but more men were being dragged down into the abyss. Wisp found Chloe and practically threw her onto the ladder to the water tower, the last refuge.

Wisp was all alone now. Still outnumbered by thirty mindless savages. He took a deep breath and began his last stand.



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Thursday, October 6, 2011 6:20 AM

NEEDY

The road to Hel is paved with good intentions


The man stood at the top of the hill, looking down at the scorched land before him. Slowly, he made his way down the rocky slope, although his heart told him not to. Turn around. Go back. Crawl under any rock you can find. It’s better than the alternative.

Trenches cut across the landscape, blackened paths, carved out by downed ships that cauterised the land. The ground smoked underneath the white sky.

Needy stepped closer. From a distance he had recognised some of the crafts, but only now as he edged closer to the chaos that had been laid out before him did it become a reality. The horror of it turned his stomach.
A large ship in the distance had stretched for miles, broken in several large pieces, but recognisable all the same. The grandest tree in the universe had been cut down and left to rot in this barren wasteland. The Sereni-Tree; a craft constructed, grown and manipulated, had been a part of Needy’s life, just as it had been for so many others; only now it was dead, along with all those hundreds of people that had made The Tree their home.

But Needy tried to shake of the thoughts of those occupants for now, undoubtedly their deaths would haunt him in time too. But as of this moment, the only ship he cared about was the one before him now, an ISSCV classed ship—The Epsilon.

Needy picked up the pace, stumbling on the rocks and wreckage that surrounded him.
The heat on this rock was intolerable, even though he couldn’t be sure which planet he was on exactly. The sun couldn’t be seen in the sky, and what buildings remained standing in the distance were nothing but skeletons of their former selves.

This wasn’t home, not for anybody. It hadn’t been for a long time.

The passenger vessel was still in one large piece, unlike many of the others that surrounded it, but it still was in no condition for flying. It was as dead as anything else on this planet.

There was nobody inside. He didn’t how he knew, but he knew it all the same. They’d survived this disaster.

He left the ship and made his way onwards across the scarred landscape. Beyond the Epsilon, the ground dipped lower and there before him was the open field. An open field of dead bodies. A death pit.
He imagined, no,
he knew, this was the place where it had all ended. The final battle. From here on out, he wouldn’t see anything other than death. A trail of bodies led down to the field and back up again, to the other side where the Sereni-Tree had made its final resting place.

The bodies wore uniforms of blue, red, brown. Every colour under the sun. Every type of man, of woman and child. Different backgrounds, different agendas, but all had come to the same place. All had been led here. Here, they’d made their last stand.

Needy wandered down, his face long and drawn as these nameless corpses with gruesome injuries and blank faces looked up at him. As if they’d been waiting for him to come, to help them. Only now it was too late. There was no helping any of them now.

A young man, a teenager, held a bloodstained sword in his lifeless hand, helpless to defend him as the spear, still lodged in his heart, had ended his life in an instant.
Another man, older this time, and wearing Alliance blues had died just as suddenly, a bullet to the head.
Everywhere he stepped, another body, another story, another life extinguished in the blinking of an eye.

But then he found
him.
The soldier wore body armour and was still, even now, strapped with knives and guns. But they’d done him no good. A weapon, likely a sword, had sliced him up from his gut to his face—one swift motion that spilled his blood across the ground and ended his life then and there. Half of his face was a bloody mess and not even his mother could have identified that half. But the rest, Needy knew him. Once upon a time he’d been Seth Franklin, but the companion had known him as Safe. Now he was just another body in a field made up of them.

Safe was just the first he found. Others too laid there for him to discover. Wisp, Seryn, Amy, Flechette, Serenity. Even the young ones Ghost and Shadow. They sure had grown up. And for what?

Needy pressed onward, his face now as white as the sky, his tears drying within seconds on his cheeks.
He’d seen too much, and yet none of it came as a shock. He knew it would come to this, he knew even before he stepped onto this land what he would find. He knew what would come to pass. He’d seen it before. He just wished he could have stopped it.

Now, as he walked towards the two bodies that now lay in front of him, one of whom he already knew the identity of, he told himself it couldn’t be.
She wouldn’t be here. She wouldn’t be with them. She couldn’t.

But it didn’t matter
what he told himself. It didn’t change one gorram thing. His thoughts, his desires, meant nothing. He’d been given the chance to change things, and he’d squandered the opportunity. He’d ignored it, ignored the voices in his head. And now he was here. This was what it had all been leading to.
Needy crouched by the bodies, his soul inside of him dead. There were no tears left in him. No emotion left to spill out. He was dead inside, as dead as he’d felt all those years before. He stretched out his hand to touch her, to put his hand on her cheek, to close her lifeless eyes and offer her some peace. But he couldn’t even do that.

He gazed at the other body beside her, the man whose arms were still wrapped around her body, a desperate and futile attempt to shield her from the fate that had loomed. The man was a stranger, at least in this life, and yet something told Needy that he did know him, or at least
would have done, if things hadn’t turned out this way. The man had tried to save her, just as Needy had wanted to. But he was just human, he could only do so much.

Needy, he was something different. He could have stopped this, he could have changed this. Could have…
Needy caught something in the corner of his eye and snapped his head up.

A figure loomed in the distance, standing on the very hill that Needy had once stood at.

Slowly, Needy began to stand, staring back at the man.

The figure was nothing more than a silhouette, a silhouette of a man with a sword hung on his shoulder, a figure that was there for one reason and one reason alone - to finish off what he’d started.


***

“It was him,” Needy said plainly.

“What?” Safe asked, still unsure.

“Soul,” Needy answered. “He’s the reason why. I’ve seen the end of it all, I’ve seen you, dead. Everyone, everyone you’ve known, everyone you’ve loved. Gone. And it’s him, the last man, standing over it all, waiting to finish the job.”

“What job?”

“Me!” Needy snaps. “I’m the only one. The only one that will be left because of my abilities, and he’s intent on wiping me out.”

“Your abilities?” Safe said. “I thought they’ve gone, I thought you said you’ve changed.”

“I have.” Needy retorts. “I’ve done what I had to, changed what I could to prevent this. Even if it means doing… things I’m not proud of.”

“Like killing Milton?” Safe asks.

“Yes,” Needy answers, his words filled with regret.

“But why? Why would Soul do this? What could he possibly hope to achieve?”

“I don’t know,” Needy says. “Maybe he snaps, maybe someone does this to him, or maybe… Maybe something inhabits him, like it did me.”

Safe rolls his eyes and shoots him a “you-wanna-explain-that?” look.

“What happened on the roof, with Serenity, when we saw that… being. It wasn’t the only one. It’s the same thing the Norsemen want.”
Needy sighed audibly, preparing himself for what he was about to divulge, knowing full well that Safe certainly wasn’t going to believe it. But he would have to explain it nonetheless.
“When I died, I told you, at least I think I did, that I started seeing things. I thought she was an angel, and then I thought I was crazy but… too much happened. Too much I couldn’t deny. It wasn’t in my head. These things, these beings, they’re real. They’ve been here for a long, long time, much longer than we have. Call them an undiscovered species unique to this area of the verse. Call them what you like. But most of them are gone now, extinct, and only a few remain. Some of them, they latch onto others like parasites, trying to stay alive. Only they’re not mindless creatures, they’re intelligent…”

Safe had taken to strolling around the room now. Needy couldn’t work out if he was listening to him or not. Maybe he was just waiting for the mad man to finish telling his little fairy tale.

“Safe,” Needy says finally. “The one that attached itself to me, it told me things, it showed me things because… because it didn’t want to see another species wipe itself out. It was trying to help me, to help all of us.”

“Needy,” Safe says turning to him finally, trying to find the words to say but none would come to him. Instead he just shakes his head.

“You don’t have to believe me,” Needy says. “But they do. The Norsemen. They believe every word of it. They believe that the old stories from Earth-that-was about ancient gods were actually prophecies. They pointed to the fate of this lost species. And they believe ultimately that out here, in this section of the verse, there’s an ancient power that they can harness. They look at me, and people like Soul, and the crazy things that have happened on this ship and elsewhere, and they see it as a sign. That those writings were real. And that their gods are here. And Soul is the key to it.”

Safe stares at Needy, his mind still sceptical.

“They’ve tested me already,” Needy confesses. “I’m not the one they want. I’m valuable to them, it’s why I was able to gain intel from them before I ran.”

“You were with them?” Safe asked.

“I had to. They tried to kill me, to return me to the forefathers. Fortunately I still had my… abilities, at that time. They thought I could help them. But soon as I learnt what I could, I ran. Figured it wasn’t safe anymore and I had to find a way to stop them.”

“You know who they are, where to find them?” Safe asked.

“They’ve moved on,” Needy says. “But I know where they’ll hit next. If Soul is gone from here then it could mean he’s unprotected. And they’ll certainly seize the opportunity to capture him.”

“And what could they possibly want with him?” Safe asked.

“He’s more than human, Safe, you know that. You kill him, he wakes up somewhere else. His soul is immortal and its tied to these worlds. We look at him, we see a man that’s blessed with a remarkable ability. They look at someone like him and they see something else. To them he’s not just a man. He’s a god.



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Wednesday, October 12, 2011 6:07 AM

WASHSYOUNGERSEXIERBR

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges


Another day another life or death struggle. Wisp was getting kinda tired of everyone trying to kill him all the time. He was even more tired of people around him getting targeted. At least Julie and Kyra were safe, and Needy... Well at least he was still alive. Or had he been dead before and now he was alive? Only time would tell on that front. Soul was the big priority now anyway and hand in hand with that was Ciarian.

Wisp stood at the ladder to his bunk. Fatigue was setting in as his joints began to ache and his brain slowed with foggy clouds. But he couldn't permit himself the luxury of sleep just yet. There was something long overdue that needed his attention, and he couldn’t put it off any longer. He headed down the hall to the bunk Vixen had claimed and buzzed. After a moment the hatches lock clicked open and turned an inviting shade of green.

Down the hatch Wisp was greeted by Vixen pulling herself up to a bar across the roof in a chin-up. She was obviously well into her workout as sweat shimmered across her body and her skimpy workout attire was damp with perspiration. Her short black hair still defied gravity and twisted upward like dozens of tiny thorns.

"I was wondering when you'd finally show up. You ready to talk now?" she unwrapped herself from the ceiling and grabbed a bottle beside her.

"I’ve been ready to talk for a while but I’ve kind of been busy with the heroic rescue business we seem to have started."

"Oh come now a little bit of combat never stopped us before.” she pouted at him "Remember that time on Viota? Those guards didn't know what to do when they caught us at it whilst you hacked their mainframe. They were even more surprised when i started shooting from on top of you."

"Yea well that was then and this is now. Times have changed quite a bit since then. In fact you’ve done quite a few unforgivable things to me since then."

"If I was so unforgivable then why did you risk everything to rescue me?"

"You know I’ve been wracking my brain for a good reason and I couldn't come up with anything that would really hold water. But this is what I came up with. You're all I got. For better or worse you've always been at my back. And you've done horrible things to me and people I care about but you've always had me in mind no matter how twisted that mind is."

"Aww stop you'll make me blush"

"And since Boros you really seem to have changed. You've not killed anyone I happen to care about and you’ve had my back and this crews back in a lot of tough spots. I really thought you were fitting in. But I gotta know one thing."

"Yes I did have them enlarged but only by half a cup, I'm really impressed you noticed” she replied with a laugh and a smile.

Wisp didn't laugh. "What happened on Santos?" and then she stopped laughing. In fact her whole grin collapsed.

"We were under fire and you knocked me out" Wisp continued "and I don’t begrudge you for that, you probably saved my life. But then I wake up a week later in a hospital. On whitehaven with a stash of cash and you're nowhere in sight. Not even a note or Holo? Not even a gorram message with the nurse! Why Vixen? Why did you just up and leave after everything?"

"Come on now did you just expect me to sit there and play nursemaid? I had Gosa to do"

"Bullshit. After all the trouble you went through over me? Those years chasing me around the verse? And I'm laid there entirely in your debt for better or worse and you just walk out?"

Vixen stepped to the sink and splashed water on her face. "Do you remember the chain of events that lead us to Santos? The fighting the alliance, helping the rebellion junk?"

"Yea what of it?"

Vixen twisted back to look at him again "And do you remember who I Gorram am?" she shouted at him. I am Vixen Goddard thief, murderer, and general Bitch! Then a wink from you little boy blue and I'm Florence Fucking Nightingale! And the worst part? I actually liked it"

She turned away again and leant against the wall. Staring at the sink her ragged hair falling over her cheeks. "I sat there in that hospital besides your bed thinking that when you woke up this time we'd make it. Me and you against the world for the right reasons this time. But then I realised how Gorram deluded I was. I was still that horrible banshee. I would still have those violent urges and I’d hurt you again. So I left. Up and snook out while the nurse was on break. Did a spell of robin hooding. Fighting the good fight my way. Because maybe, just maybe if I repented enough I could quiet this screaming voice in my head telling me to hurt people. "

She stood up again and looked at him. "And then I ended up on those gallows. And I really thought that it was the end and that was the only way I was gonna get forgiven. But you came in at that darkest hour. And now you’re standing in front of me and I don’t know who you see. Because I look in the mirror and I don't know who I see. I’m trying to change. I’m trying to close away that dark corner of me, because my whole soul is being kept alive by you. Because I love you. "

Wisp stepped close to her feeling the sweat on her cold skin. Running a hand through her hair he pulled her close and kissed her.



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Friday, November 4, 2011 5:49 AM

KYRA

Who we are depends on the outcome of the struggle between who we were and who we want to be


Space was always black. Out here, there was no such thing as day or night. Sleeping patterns were determined by clocks. But even now, at this early hour, few of the members of the crew actually allowed themselves to sleep. Too many laid awake in their beds, staring up at the ceiling, pondering over thoughts that had long since troubled them.

The ship’s corridors were dimly lit, and the lights along the walkway hummed an eerie tune.
It may have been a fine vessel, but for Kyra, this Firefly looked and felt like a ghost ship.

It made her skin crawl.

She made uneasy steps along the fore passage, heading for the bridge. Her body felt drained and in truth, she would have liked nothing more than a decent night's sleep. But she couldn’t rest. Her troubled mind wouldn’t let her.
She would have liked to have spoken with Safe, perhaps clear the air or at least her mind, but she knew he was on the lower level, in the room next to Needy. And she just couldn’t face that, not right now. And so her feet took her to a place as far away as possible from that man.

The ship creaked and dipped to the side and Kyra felt herself staggering to the right, reminding her of her teenage years and the many nights she had returned home a little worse for wear.

She felt drunk. She felt dazed.
She needed to rest. But there would be no rest this night, not for her.

“…ere” she heard a voice moan.

The sound came from ahead of her, the blue light at the end of the corridor casting a light upon the few steps that led up to the bridge.

Kyra edged closer to the steps, and made her way in.

“He’s here,” a voice mumbled again.

Only one of the lights on the bridge was working, and even that flickered. The rest of the area was cast in long deep shadows.

“Hello?” she asked.

On first appearances, the room looked empty. But as the light flickered, Kyra could make out the form of a bare foot in the far right corner of the room, the rest of the body was obscured by darkness. But as she pressed on, the image became more clear. It was a man, naked, sitting with his back near the wall and rocking back and forth with his arms wrapped around his legs, his head buried in his knees.

“He’s here, he’s here,” the man mumbled over and over again.

“Are you okay?” she asked, crouching down and offering her hand out.

“He’s here, he’s here,” the man said again, before snapping his head up. “HE’S HERE!”
Kyra’s face turned white but she remained relatively calm, despite the man’s face.

It was Needy.

She’d seen him like this before. All too often. The dreams were never the same, but his face was.

His face was deformed and burnt, his skin decayed and blackened; sunken eyes and a deep wound which sliced the lower half of his face, from underneath his nose to the bottom of his chin, in two.

“He’s here,” he muttered again, fluid dripping through the opening under his chin.

Kyra controlled her breathing and stared compassionately at him.

“I’m here too,” she told him in a soft tone. “I can help you.”

She reached out and placed her hand on his leg, before reaching up and placing it on the side of his face.

“That’s why I came back,” she said, her eyes glazing over.

Needy pressed his cheek against her hand, feeling the touch of her skin, before turning it away from her away again, shaking his head. “No. NO!”

He snapped his head up. “You’re DEAD. You’re ALL DEAD.”

Suddenly he threw himself at her, his naked scarred body knocking her to the floor and smacking her head against the grating.

“You’re dead. DEAD!” he exclaimed, wrapping one hand tightly around her neck whilst the other pressed down on her forehead, partially covering her eyes.

“Ne…” she struggled, choking to find breath. And, when that failed her, she reached out her hands and searched for his body, tugging her fingernails deep into his flesh when she found it.

It did her no good.

She felt blood dripping on her face and on her neck. It was his blood, falling through the cuts in his face. And she felt his flesh fall away as she tried to push his body off of her.

He pulled her body up for a moment, then slammed it back down again, her head meeting the grating once more until her head swam. It wasn’t enough that he was choking the life from her. He wanted her to feel every moment of her death.

And then she felt nothing at all.

For the first time in her life, Kyra knew what it was like to be dead.

Everything was quiet, almost peaceful. Her body had felt exhausted, it had felt pain. And now, it felt nothing. It was relaxed, calm, still.

And then Kyra opened her eyes.

She didn’t awaken with a jolt, or with a sudden gasp. But with a slow realisation that the dreams would never end. Her nightmare would never end. Not until she faced her demon.



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Tuesday, November 15, 2011 7:44 AM

KYRA

Who we are depends on the outcome of the struggle between who we were and who we want to be


A figure casts his long shadow in the hall, standing, waiting, as the door to Kyra’s bedroom opens and she steps up and out.

“Gorram it!” she jumps as she catches sight of the man.
Kyra’s heart pounds and she shakes her head. “What you standing there for?”

Safe waves his hand in an apology, “Sorry, I…”

“What’s wrong?” Kyra says suddenly, as she deduces the possible reasons why the man would be standing there.
“What’s happened? Is Needy…?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” he says quickly, stepping closer to her, again waving his hand as if he could send all of her anxieties away with such a simple gesture. “I just… just wanted to see how you were.”
Her mouth still open, Kyra let out a loud sigh and rolled her eyes. “I’m fine,” she answered in a short manner. Then, shaking her head, she brushed past him and headed down the hall towards the dining area.

“Where you going?” he asked.

“I’m getting a drink,” she answered him, again with an exasperated tone.

He nods his head, although — with her back to him — she didn’t know it. “I’ll join you”

Kyra walked on, seemingly ignoring him, but under her breath she muttered, “It’s your ship.”

***

For a good five minutes, the two shared the space in silence. Kyra rustled up a brew and Safe sat there at the table, his mind deep in thought.

Without asking him, she had made him a drink too and returned to the table with two mugs of dark tea which she placed, one in front of him and the other she carried to the soft chair in the corner, where she herself took a seat.

He thanked her for the drink which she acknowledged with a nod.

“I’m sorry about before,” she said finally. “You just caught me by surprise.”

“It’s fine,” he answered. “Guess I was just lost in thought, didn’t mean to startle you.” Then taking a sip he added. “You can’t sleep either?”

Kyra shook her head, “No, that’s not it.”

“Bad dreams?” he deduced, but she didn’t answer with words. Just with a knowing look, a slight nod, and then back to her tea. “Know how you feel,” he added.

“Listen,” he continued. “I’m sorry if I put you in an awkward position before, bringing him on this ship. You made your views pretty clear but I just needed answers.”

Kyra pressed her lips together as she often did when she thought about answering but didn’t know how. Then, finally she replied, “You got them?”

“Well,” Safe said, standing up with his drink in hand and starting to pace the floor. “We’ve talked. Can’t exactly say I got any answers. At least, none that I was expecting.”

“He tell you what he’s been up to?” she put to him.

Safe shook his head absently. “No… well, yes. He talked quite a bit. Can’t say I understand it really.”

Kyra feigned interest but soon went back to her tea. Clearly there were other things on her mind.

“Talked a lot about this cult, these ones that are committing these murders. Said he allied himself with them to find answers and… well he said a lot. I don’t know what to believe.”

“He say anything about saving the world?” Kyra said, lifting her head up to look at the man. “That killing Milton was his way of preventing an apocalypse?”

Safe froze, not that it was a shock to him — he’d already heard Needy say the same thing, basically — but just hearing it again, from her mouth, just highlighted how crazy it all sounded. This hadn’t been a story he’d read, some fictional tale that he could enjoy as a passive observer, this had been his friend talking. His friend. What kind of man could have done such a thing? The apocalypse—it was the stuff of legends and myths; it was the sort of thing religious leaders threatened their followers with; portentuous sayings uttered by so-called soothsayers. Safe didn’t listen to them, Seth Franklin didn’t listen to them. So why was he finding it so difficult now?

Something had happened to Needy. He certainly wasn’t the same man he’d known.

“What the hell happened to him?” Safe finally said. “What happened after we left you on Santos?”

“Oh it started long before Santos,” she answered. “Long before I even joined you… that wasn’t him. He wasn’t the same man I’d fell…” She stopped herself. “It wasn’t him.”

“You think he changed after... he came back,” Safe said.

“I know he did,” she told him.

“But you didn’t know before,” he said. “What happened after we left you?”
Kyra looked down at her tea. It had lost its appeal. Instead, she continued to stare into the black liquid and watched it transform into the black canvas of space. And then she was back there, looking out of the window of the ship, staring at the stars. It was two years ago.



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Monday, May 7, 2012 11:15 AM

KYRA

Who we are depends on the outcome of the struggle between who we were and who we want to be


She heard them even now. Their screams.

She looked out into the black, the only soul standing on the bridge of the vessel. It was so silent there you could have heard a pin drop. But still, she heard their screams. In the silence, it sounded all the more deafening.

They’d been looking for a cure. It had been that simple.
In all the haste of leaving Santos, Needy had left behind the one thing that had been enabling him to hold it together – the treatment that had dulled his senses, freeing him of the pain that plagued him every waking moment.
He’d been helpless but they couldn’t turn back. Kyra had found some oils which helped soothe him but it was a temporary measure, and so they headed for Aesir, hoping that the new age medicine offered by Asatru Priests would provide the release that they needed so much.

“My name is Mattias,” the man had said, offering his hand. His hair was an unnatural silver whilst his skin was cracked and made golden by the heat of the sun. He told them a story, of a forgotten past and an epiphany that had led him to follow a faith that mankind had, for the most part, left behind on Earth-that-was. It was Kyra’s opinion that he was a strange man, but only because he was so welcoming and offered them shelter and food for no apparent reason, other than the belief that it was “the right thing to do.”

For three weeks they stayed with them, with a tribe of nomads that had settled outside the large Northern Grove, and for three weeks Kyra kept her distance. She didn’t want to settle down – not there, even though every part of her was telling her that it was right, that it was what they needed. The truth was, in her heart she knew, whether it was what they needed or not, it wasn’t what she
deserved.

Mattias didn’t offer new age medicines, he offered Needy something much more – the training he needed to be able to control his senses. Before long, they didn’t need any oils or tablets or syringes. Needy could choose to ignore his senses or embrace them. He wasn’t a slave anymore. Finally, his body was enslaved to him.

Mattias had done that for him, and the priest’s tribe of men, women and children had offered aid in any way that they could. They fed them, clothed them, sheltered them; welcomed them like a family ought to have done – more than Kyra and Needy’s own respective families had ever done for their own. But it was to be their downfall. For Mattias only asked for one thing in return. He knew of Needy’s abilities. More than that, he believed he knew why the young man had been granted them. “It was the will of the Gods.” It was “by the grace of Odin.”

"Our people are losing faith," He had told the two of them privately. "They grow tired in the face of adversity. They grow tired of waiting. But you… you’re the sign they’ve been waiting for. Please, show them your face. Prove to them that their faith has not been in vain. Do this for me."

For Mattias it was a simple request, and for Needy too.
Sacrifice. It was just an act. A show. "For the greater good," so the saying went. He would not come to any harm, and afterwards, both he and Kyra could choose what to do. To stay and help lead the people, or to go, knowing that they’ve helped fifty or so souls to find their purpose once more.

It was his decision, even though she didn’t like the prospect one bit and deep down she already knew what his answer would be. She thought she knew because Needy had always acted on the behalf of others, he’d always given selflessly of himself. But the truth was she knew that he would say yes because, even if she couldn’t admit it to herself, he had changed, and this wasn’t about helping others, it was about achieving glory for himself.

“Brothers, Sisters. These are tumultuous times…” Mattias had said on that eventful night, clothed in the ceremonial white gown as he stood by the altar. The people listened intently whilst Needy had stood in the shadows, wearing similar garb, waiting to be beckoned.

Mattias talked of dreams, of gods and prophecies.
In truth, it had scared Kyra. She had once considered them as all fairy tales, and she still believed that, but there on that night it was different, now the stories directly affected her. These were fairy tales made real by prophesying priests.

“We were all lost and wandering, looking for direction, looking for a sign. And then they sent him to us. Not just a man, but something more. A sign of things to come.”

Needy began to step forward, the light from the torches revealing his presence to the crowd.

“And tonight, we rejoice, because this man has not come to lead, but to spill his blood in a sacrifice, to show to us all the error of our ways and point the way to salvation.”

Kyra hadn’t wanted to watch, but she didn’t trust the priest. As terrifying and disturbing as the ordeal was, she had to watch. She was to be made a witness of the events, she was to testify to the accuracy of prophecy. She was to be used as Mattias’ pawn.

Needy stepped up to the altar and his gown was stripped from him, leaving him naked in a pure unadulterated form.

“Tonight, the old ones return to us.” Mattias said, pulling out a knife whilst Needy stood still, above the altar. “We bless you and thank you.” And with that, Mattias sliced the knife across the man’s throat, spilling his blood.



Kyra winced as she thought back on it, propelling her mind forward again, jumping from the memory of Aesir; to standing on that bridge, in orbit around Santos; and then forward further to this very moment in time, staring into her empty cup.

Safe stared at her, waiting for her to continue, but Kyra didn’t honestly know if she could.

The blood, the screams... and the very knowledge that the man responsible for it all was there with them, on that ship. It was all too much. So much had happened. Not just on Aesir, but before and after. Santos had been a picnic in comparison.

“Kyra,” Safe pressed. “It’s okay, you’re safe here.”

“No,” she answered him. “None of us are.”


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Thursday, June 14, 2012 6:34 AM

KYRA

Who we are depends on the outcome of the struggle between who we were and who we want to be




Aesir, The Himinbjorg System. Two years ago.

They had thought it trickery - the crowds. Mattias had wanted to inspire faith but the time for that had come and gone. They just saw parlour tricks. But as for Mattias himself he saw something else. He’d believed in Needy, in his abilities but he had mistook them for something else. He’d believed Needy had been sent to them to help bring the people back to the fold. But he was wrong. Now, with Needy’s blood being poured out on the ground, it was as if he’d seen the truth for what it was - Needy wasn’t a god, he was just a man, an unfortunate soul with a remarkable ability.
Or maybe not.
Maybe Mattias saw something else. Maybe he’d experienced that “Eye of Truth” that so many of his faith had spoken of, but few had ever experienced for themselves. Illumination. The epiphany that all of a sudden made everything else clear. Whatever it was Mattias saw that day was not what he’d expected, that much was clear. His eyes, once so filled with wonder, now sunk and his complexion grew pale. He was once a man filled with faith, but now his heart was filled with fear.

It had all happened so quickly. Kyra had tried to shut herself off, she'd watched “the show” with a feigned interest whilst her mind tried to dwell on other things. She had once hoped that they could have stayed there, but events had seen to it that they would no longer be welcome after this night. She hadn’t realised what was happening before her eyes before it was too late.

The crowds cried fowl as Mattias backed away from the bloody sight of Needy standing there naked, the deep tear across the man’s throat which had poured his blood and would, if it had been any deeper, sliced the man’s head right off was now nothing more than a scar. Still, the blood that had ran down his chest, across his stomach and down his legs was still fresh and glimmered in the nightsky.

As Kyra made her way through the crowd she could see Mattias grip hold of the knife once more and run it through Needy’s chest, directly to the heart. Kyra screamed out and threw herself forward, pushing the crowd aside without consideration and launched herself in defense of her lover, pulling Mattias back until he crashed to the floor as she herself ran to Needy’s side.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” She shouted in exclamation at the dumbfounded priest.

“Are you okay?” she said softly to her man, holding her hand out towards the knife still embedded in his chest, but flinching before she could bring herself to touch it.

“I’m okay,” Needy replied absently, staring blankly at the man that cowered before them.

The crowds own jeers had been silenced, shocked by the apparent authenticity of the scene before them. She’d heard some of them whisper exclaims of "By Odin" and "Weiderganger!"

Slowly, Kyra brought herself to the knife and, with hesitation, took it in her hand and slowly started to withdraw it. Needy placed his own hand on hers and helped her to remove it, blood pouring out from the hole that it left.

Mattias had started to mutter words of a prayer to himself that only he, and perhaps the gods, could hear.
Leaving the knife in Needy’s hand, she moved to where his robe had been discarded and draped it over him, trying to give him some of his dignity back.

“We need to go,” Kyra said as the crowd continued to mutter, some growing louder as their talk became less filled with doubt and more fearful reverence.
Choosing to ignore Kyra's words, however, Needy stepped forward, moving towards Mattias who simply laid there looking up at them, paralysed.

“I see you now,” the man mumbled to Needy, standing over him in judgment.

“You see nothing,” the sacrificial man answered. “Only that which you want to believe.”

Kyra stood aimlessly, watching the crowd as they watched the two men, equally astounded and terrified.
If only her attention had been on where it ought to have been...

“This is why we need our gods now!” Mattias called out suddenly, startling her and even Needy. “This man isn’t…” Mattias began to exclaim further, but it was all for naught.
In a split-second - so quick that one might assume that Needy hadn’t even moved - the half-naked man reached forward, pulled Mattias up into the air with one arm, and used his free hand to drive the sacrificial knife into the heart of the priest, silencing him instantly.

The crowd screamed but dared not intervene. Even Kyra herself was frozen, helpessly watching as her lover murdered a man before her very eyes.

Mattias coughed and spluttered, reaching his hand out to Needy in a poor attempt to attack him. Within seconds his hand wavered, and as the man’s eyes glazed over, Needy dropped his still body to the ground in a thud.

*

Their screams. They filled her head.

“Your priest intended for blood to be spilled here tonight, and so it has come to pass.”
Needy had addressed the crowd but they weren’t listening anymore, they were too busy fleeing– men and women, picking up their children into their arms and making a run for the open field. As for Kyra herself, she had found herself slipping into a trance. The body, the blood, the screams, all under the moonlight in this sacred grove. It was like something out of a nightmare. Out of her nightmares. Maybe she just needed to wake up.

It was no good. Before long, her endless gaze became fixed on the form of Needy’s face. He was looking back at her. His eyes were dead but the slight raise in the corner of his mouth... it was as though he was smiling.
Shaking her head she wandered off listlessly, following the cries in the distance, daring herself not to look back, although she could feel him watching her, following her. Her wander became a jog and then a run, until she regained her senses and found herself a mile from the camp, separated from all the others.

**

“Kyra”

It was dark now. She was on the ground, the dust in her face. Had she fainted?

“Kyra?” the voice called out again, waking her from her daze. The figure stood over her, clothed in a dark robe.

She gasped loudly and threw her her body back, away from the man standing over her.

Needy stood there, stretching an open hand towards her, a hand still stained with Mattias' blood.

“You… killed him," she muttered, before exclaiming louder. "You killed him!” She held her head, as if trying to remember whether it wasn’t just a dream.

“Killed him? He was going to kill me,” Needy replied, his tone even and detached. “I was defending myself.”

“You don’t need to.” Kyra said, her voice breaking. None of it made sense. He'd wanted to go there. Even after he'd heard what Mattias had planned for him, he wanted to stay. Why?. "This was your… you said you wanted this.” She voiced.

“I did.” Needy answered plainly.

Kyra’s mouth drops further as she realises the significance of what he has just admitted to. She didn't understand it, but she understood the truth of it. Needy had seen to it that events played themselves out as he wanted them to.

“That man was a fraud. He had these people catering to his every whim, had them slaving for him. He was not a good man. You want to know who he was before he was a priest? He ran a companion house, only they weren’t registered and that scar on his ear was nothing compared to the ones he left on his girls.”

“You can’t know that…” Kyra said, trying desperately to get to her feet only her legs didn’t seem to want to respond and her arms, trying to push herself up, were like jelly.

“But I do. And he knew it too. Just had it buried so deep he tried to kid himself that he couldn’t remember, but his true colours shone through.”

“That doesn’t mean you can…” Kyra cannot finish her words, but does manage to find the strength to push herself up and stagger to her feed. “The man I knew would never have…”

“You’re right,” Needy answered. “He wouldn’t. But I’m more than that now."

In the moment, she felt herself slip out of time as her mind flashed back to her dream. The same dream she’d been having night after night: Needy, disfigured, coming towards her, threatening her. And the words that she heard – like words from a poem she’d heard a long time ago – echoed in her memory.

“Master of man of beast and of monster, traveller of stars and walker of skies. Devourer of hearts, making mischief of mistletoe, murdering man with deception and lies.”

“You lied to him.” Kyra answers. “Why?”

“The man was evil.” Needy says simply.

“Evil?” Kyra says.

“Yes evil. I know that’s a strange concept to you, but it’s here on these worlds. And it was in him. Killing him was necessary. It was for the greater good.”

“Greater good? Sounds like them, the Expendables.” Kyra said, staggering back. She wanted to look around, look for somewhere to flee to, but didn’t dare take her eyes off of him.

“Everyone’s expendable,” he tells her plainly. “If it serves a purpose.”

And with those words all the other warnings she'd heard over the past few months came flooding back to her:

The teller at the festival: “He will kill you, he will stop at nothing to fulfil his purpose”

Clayton, before they left Santos: “He’s dangerous. Killed people, innocent people… I’ve seen it for myself.”


And then it dawned upon her with new eyes that were previously unwilling to consider the notion – Before the suspicious circumstances that surrounded his death, it was Needy that was the last person to see his friend Milton Reeve alive.

“Milton…” the name trailed off her lips without her even realising that she was speaking out loud.

Needy stopped and tilted his head slightly. “It needed to be done. If he was to live, this verse would suffer.”

“Oh my god!” she cried out, burying her head in her hands, no longer caring that she couldn’t see Needy any more. “Can't you hear yourself?? Milton was a... kid, he was... he wasn’t a threat.”

“You can’t see it...” Needy said

“No I can’t! I can’t see how you could do such a thing. He was your friend!”

“He was young, naïve and foolish. Sooner or later, he would have betrayed us again.”

“You can’t know that!”

“No, you can’t know it. You can’t possibly comprehend what I’ve seen. What I’ve experienced.” Needy’s words gnashed at the air, causing Kyra to stagger backwards. Her heart pounded, her skin crawled. It was him, his face, but it wasn’t the man she’d known. How could he have changed so much?

“You know,” Kyra said bitterly as tears ran down her cheek, “just because they think you’re a god, doesn’t make it true. I know you.”

“And I know you, Kyra,” Needy answered. “Little girl, still running, unwilling to believe in anything besides what you see with your own two eyes. There’s more out there. There’s order, there’s purpose. You wouldn’t believe in a god even if he pulled you into heaven and showed you the creation of the universe.”

Kyra looked around her finally. They were both in the middle of nowhere. The people that had been camped not too far away were now nowhere to be seen. (That is, if they were still alive.) She was truly on her own. “So, what? You’re going to kill me now?”

Needy squinted his eyes, examining her words. “Kill you? Kyra... I did all this to save you.”

It was strange, he made it sound like he truly believed in what he was saying, even if she could not.

“You did all this for me? Well gose, I wish you’d just killed me.”

“I won’t hurt you, I will never hurt you.” Needy said

“And what about everyone else?”

Needy remains silent on the subject. Looking to the east, he tells her, “There’s a passenger ship at the East Grace Docks, about 25 miles from here, leaves in the morning. It will take you where you need to go.”

Kyra stares in disbelief. “What, that’s it? Go on my merry way, leave you here?”

“Would you rather stay here, with me?” He asks her but she has no response. “That’s what I thought.”

Kyra shakes her head again. Was this really happening?

“I will return,” Needy told her. “And when that time comes I hope you’ll be ready.”

“For what?” Kyra answered.

Needy looked up at the sky. Admiring the stars. “You be safe, Kyra.”

And with that Needy retreated into the night, leaving her standing there silent. Lost. Broken.

***

Be ready. I’ll be ready for him. Got to be ready.

The words stayed with her over the next two years. Every day she woke up wondering, is today the day? And then what? Ready for what? Ready to die? Ready to fight? She didn’t know, she just knew that she couldn’t truly settle down, not at least until she found Luthor. She didn’t know how, but somehow he made her feel safe. Somehow, he managed to get her to trust him. To believe in him.

She'd made the same mistake twice.
She wouldn’t make it again.

He kept his promise. He came back. But for what? She’d sworn to herself she could never trust him again. Or could she? Maybe that was what she needed to be ready for. Allowing herself to trust him. Follow him no matter what. Maybe her life depended on it.



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Saturday, July 14, 2012 12:52 PM

JAZAF


Kurren and four of his crew made their way to a room out of earshot from the experiments being done to

Soul. The sounds were inhuman and nearly impossible to get away from, but in the room they found Soul’s
cries were muffled. One of Kurren’s crew placed a small device on the table there and flipped a switch.

“Spotless?” Kurren asked.

“Clean enough.”

“So what will they get, Li?” Kurren pressed.

“If they have any cameras and microphones they‘ll get nothing but blurred images and white noise.” Li
replied.

“Good man, let’s begin ” Kurren took a seat from the scattered chairs in the room and gestured his crew to
do the same. Kurren turned to Nate Gershun and asked “What did we find out about this group?” Nate took in
a breath before responding, “Not a lot. The Chapter is mentioned in only the quietest of whispers. There is
virtually nothing about them on the cortex. They‘re a step above us ghosts, they are damn near mythical.”

Kurren grimaced. Nate was one of the top information snoops in the underworld and for him to have any level
of difficulty spoke of the sophistication of the group that now, in essence, held them.

“Not very encouraging.” Nate blanched at the remark and unconsciously rubbed the stub where his right foot,
that Kurren himself had severed, had been. It was a promise of misery to come if he ever failed.

Kurren turned his attention to another crew member. “Paul, any word back from our contacts at all?”

“None whatsoever. I get nothin‘ but static.”

Unlike Nate, Paul wasn’t working for Kurren under physical duress. He had a debt owed to Kurren that he was
all to eager to pay off. “Everything I try gets thrown back at me. I answered a wave that I though was a
reply transmission only to find out it was my initial contact attempt. These guys have a system set up to
block any transmission but their own.”

Kurren turned back to Nate. “Nate, you said virtually nothing. That means you did find something,
right?”

Nate gladly accepted the rope that could pull him out of the hole he dug. “Yes! Though I admit it isn‘t
much. It has something to do with the bounty we captured.”

Kurren raised his eyebrows. “Really? What is it?”

“A project name was all I could get, Fenrir”

“Fenrir? The hell is that?” Paul blurted.

“I really couldn‘t tell you. That was all there was regarding The Chapter and Soul .” Nate shrugged.

“I can find out.” Everyone looked to Dawei. “Get me to a local Cortex terminal and I can find what we need
in their systems.”

“It wouldn‘t take them long to find out who is hacking their files Dawei.” Li sounded off. “If Paul can get
me some access codes it won‘t be a problem for us.” Dawei countered, of all of them only Li and Dawei were
not the victims of coercion. Dawei was slated to be killed after he was turned in by Jubal Early but
Kurren intercepted them at an interstellar bar. After Kurren fought Jubal for custody of Dawei, Li was more
than happy to help a friend of a friend.

“Sounds like a plan.” Kurren said, “Li, go with Dawei and find a terminal. Paul, go see if you can make
some new friends preferably local. Nate, keep digging. Try to find their tracks on the cortex. If we can‘t
find out any information about them through the Cortex we can at least piece together what they are from
where they‘ve been. Meanwhile, I need to keep up appearances and check in on the progress with Soul.”

Their meeting all but adjorned Li turned off the jammer and headed out with Dawei.

“Kurren!” Dawei shouted. The screams had ceased and that only meant one thing.

“I know. We need to move, and fast. I don‘t know how much time we have here. Keep in constant contact. GO!”
Kurren walked as calm as he could to the testing grounds. Is today the day it will end? He wondered. After
several minutes, he finally reached the main observation room. He was met with cries of jubilation from the
researchers. “What is your status!” Kurren’s shout sobered the room. A researcher looked up at Kurren
through opaque googles and said with a smile “We are complete. After 4 months, twenty days and seventeen
hours we are done. It took hundreds of thousands of tests to break his mind down in order to successfully
utilize the hypnoconditioning. But now, well see for yourself!” He waved a hand frantically at a fellow
researcher who brought up several screens playing back hours of tests and trials they put Soul through.
Kurren recognized the tests where Soul was killed multiple times. Other tests showed him being pitted
against another person in a form of gladiatorial combat. He defended himself successfully in most tests but
the opponents were getting younger each time and Soul more and more reluctant.

“Some methods had more favorable results than others but eventually the subject acquiesced to the
challenge. It was in this test here.” The researcher had all the screens show the test that broke the man
named Soul. At this point he had already fought and killed over three dozen people. Most were men, some
half crazed and others just desperate to live. Women and teenagers were also sent in to kill him, they
either died by his hand or were killed by some device implanted in their bodies. The trial being shown now
was of Soul and what looked to be an eight year old boy. Soul stood still for about ten minutes, taking
every blow the child threw. A weapon was thrown in to be used, a sword that was crudely made. The child
picked it up and began hacking at Soul. The child laughed as he ran in circles around Soul, cutting him
with every swing. Soul began to tremble from the loss of blood and finally fell to his knees. Even then he
made no move to harm the child, his arms fixed to his sides and his hands balled into fists. Still the
child laughed as he swung at Soul, cutting his chest, arms, and face. Then something changed, Soul screamed.

“This is where it gets exciting!” the researcher spoke out of the side of his mouth.

The scream was anguish, rage and desperation all rolled into one. Then in a split second Soul stole the
sword from the child’s grasp and plunged it into the boy’s heart. The screen abruptly shut off.

“We did a few more tests to make sure the subject really did lose the inhibition of killing without
remorse. The first test failed sadly but the following thirty were very successful. I am proud to present
you with Subject 52739.” The researcher raised a hand to the left and Kurren followed with his eyes, there
standing in the doorway from the testing grounds stood Soul. Kurren could see that the man was no longer
who he had been before. Subject 52739 stood there wordless with the crude sword strapped to his hip.

“What now?” Kurren asked.

“Now?” Kurren whirled to face the voice he only barely recognized but only saw a vague image on a screen.
The Director continued, “Now we clean up that contract you and I formed during the probationary period of
your employment.” Kurren gritted his teeth and signaled for the rest of his crew, they entered the room
quickly. “Mr. Kurren, I‘m afraid our contract is now obsolete. Subject 52739, would you kindly explain the
terms of Mr. Kurren and associate‘s termination?” The screen shut down and all eyes turned to the man once
called Soul.

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Monday, July 16, 2012 7:16 AM

JAZAF


“You boys wanted a piece of him, right? Here‘s your chance.” Kurren stalled. The crew, his cannon fodder,
took the bait and charged. Soul, or rather Subject 52739, cut through them effortlessly. He shoved his
fist into one man and pulled out his heart. Three others fell to Subject 52739 when he passed his left hand
through their heads. The remaining five backed away and fired their pistols, unloading their clips.
Subject 52739 took every hit, never once moving. When the shooting ended, he took the crude sword in hand
and charged. One man went down with a deep cut to his stomach, a second was run through with the blade. The
third man attempted to pistol whip Subject 52739 but his hand passed through harmlessly, not so when
Subject 52739 answered the blow with a slash to the throat.

Kurren brandished two knives when the final two crew fell to Subject 52739’s blade. “This certainly got
interesting quick.” Kurren muttered. He acted first, swiping at the legs then following up with a slash to
the throat and a stab to the chest. Subject 52739 jumped over the low attack, phased through the throat
slash and blocked the stab with his sword. Subject 52739 threw out his own attack with two downward
slashes and a swipe at Kurren’s middle. Kurren blocked the first two blows and ducked under the third. He
threw out a kick which passed through Subject 52739’s knee. Subject 52739 returned with a kick of his own
that caught Kurren in the chest. Kurren rolled with the attack, using it to provide some distance. He
stopped in a crouch near an armed guard. Kurren sprang up with an uppercut to the guard and stripped him of
the stun rifle. Kurren fired two quick blasts at Subject 52739. The first blast went through the man, but
he did stumble. The second blast put him on his back. Kurren took the opportunity to escape the room.

He made contact with remaining crew. “Li, Dawei, Paul, Nate its time to go. Meet me at the Hangar bay.”

“But sir, we don‘t have the information yet.” Dawei protested.

“We are out of time! Their little experiment is over and it is currently aimed at us! Now move.”

Klaxons blared and armed personnel began spilling into the hallways. Kurren dropped into a slide, foot
extended, and tripped one of the guards. He grabbed the guard by the face and slammed the guard’s head into
the floor, hard. He took the guard’s semi-auto pistol and continued on his way taking down any guard still
in his way.

Kurren was two sectors away from the hanger when Subject 52739 caught up to him. A fist rocketed out from a
wall and connected with Kurren’s jaw sending him sprawling. “You have got to be kidding me.” Kurren said as
he got to one knee. He brought up the pistol only to have it kicked out of his hand. He rolled backwards
avoiding another kick and came up wielding two knives. “You are quite the monster now aren’t you?” Kurren
said with a grin. Subject 52739 said nothing, he only closed the gap with intent. Kurren struck first
again. He started with a crescent kick, followed by alternating thrusts at the arms, chest and head.
Subject 52739 managed to avoid all the attacks save for one that cut his right arm. Kurren pressed in
another stab followed by a left slash to the middle. Subject 52739 sidestepped the stab, caught Kurren’s
left arm at the wrist and brought his elbow down on the forearm forcing Kurren to drop the knife. Kurren
brought up the knife in his right hand to stab Subject 52739 in the back but took an elbow to the face
instead. Subject 52739 followed up by spinning Kurren around and putting his left arm in a hammerlock.
Kurren answered swiftly with three stabs from his free hand forcing Subject 52739 to let go. Kurren put
away the knife he had left and brought up the Stun rifle but Subject 52739 phased into the wall. Kurren
paused for a few moments to see if Subject 52739 would resurface then continued on his way.

Kurren finally made it to the hangar bay. His crew were under fire while trying to hijack a Bernard class
ship. Kurren fired the stun rifle to clear away the guards. “Get this bird in the air!” Kurren shouted.

“We didn‘t get much info from their local cortex.” Dawei started.

“Tell me about it when we‘re safely off this rock. For now we need to ghost.” Kurren interrupted.

“Kurren!” Li warned.

Kurren threw himself forward. In his experience it is always a waste of time to take the time to look back.
If he had done it sooner it would have saved him from the deep cut to his right leg. Kurren hit the floor
and rolled to his right. The unmistakable clang of metal hitting concrete told him it was the right move.
He palmed two throwing knives in each hand and threw them when he got on his back. Subject 52739 took one
to the chest and two in the arm that was wielding the sword forcing him to drop it. Kurren tried to stand
but fell to his knee when his right leg failed him. Subject 52739 put Kurren firmly on the floor with a
boot to the chest. He then pulled out the knife embedded in his chest and plunged it towards Kurren’s head.
The knife never made it, three metres away a concussion grenade went off throwing Subject 52739 off of
Kurren. Li took the opportunity provided to help Kurren into the ship. Subject 52739 watched as they hit
atmo and got away.


“Whew, made it” Paul said relieved. “We‘re gonna need a bigger crew.”


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Saturday, September 29, 2012 2:41 PM

JAZAF


The harsh lights in the med bay forced Kurren’s slow opening eyes to clench shut. He groaned his displeasure and shielded his eyes from further discomfort. “He‘s waking up! Boss, how do you feel?” Kurren recognized Dawei’s voice. “Like I was on the wrong side of Death‘s favor.” Footsteps announced more people entering the room. Li approached Kurren’s bedside, “What is the last thing you remember?”

“I remember getting cut in the leg and. . . Did someone throw an explosive?”

“Guilty.” Paul answered, “In my defense, it was a concussive. So you may have some ringing in the ears but nothing permanent.”

Kurren sat up, slowly, and rubbed his face of sleep. “How long have I been out?”

“Better part of two days.” Paul said.

Kurren sighed, “Tell me you haven‘t spent that time watching over me.”
Paul put on a show of being hurt. “Of course not. We have been hard at work. Besides making sure you recovered we‘ve been trying to reach our old contacts and look into the data Dawei managed to snag before our hasty exit.” Kurren motioned for Paul to continue. “Ok, good news. We can reach our old contacts again. But as soon as I asked about The Chapter they cut their ties with us. I don‘t need to tell you how bad that looks. Those were some of the best suppliers we had it is going to take me a while to get new ones that can meet their standards.” Kurren shook his head and looked to Dawei. “What did you find?”

“I don‘t have anything, yet. What little I could grab was encrypted. I‘m working on deciphering it now.” Kurren nodded, finding the answer acceptable, and said “All right. New subject: What do we know about this ship we stole?” Paul became very excited as he said “It‘s a gorram floating pair of eyes and ears! The Chapter modified this to be a surveillance craft. It can monitor waves, camera feeds, and cortex activity.”

“It‘s also the only reason I have a chance to decrypt the data we stole. It still has whatever their current setup is in regards to security.” Dawei interrupted. Li picked up on the cue from Dawei and said “Speaking of security. This ship does have one issue we are trying to take care of.” Kurren raised an eyebrow as he replied, “How serious?”

“When we stopped at a way-station to refuel Nate noticed an encrypted signal emitting from the ship. Since we didn‘t know what it was sending we left the station. Nate noticed it cut the signal while in flight. So Nate, Dawei and I are working to resolve it before we reach our next stop.”

“What is our next stop, Li?”

“The Promenade Station.”

“Ugh, not those spacer nuts.” Paul complained. “Damn space gypsies can‘t be trusted.”

“They can provide better medical attention for Kurren and those space gypsies have the equipment to deal with our current security issues if we aren‘t able to deal with it before we get there.”

Paul opened his mouth to object but Kurren cut him off “Sounds like a solid plan. We‘ll run with it for now. When we get there, Paul, I want you to play nice. We need new friends and these folks might be able to be just that, or at least point us in the proper direction.” Paul grimaced and left mumbling about his distrust for spacers.

Promenade station was a repurposed Independent Dreadnought-class carrier. It was meant to be the Independent’s answer to the Crete-class carrier. It was built with less hangers in order to make room for more defensive guns and missile armaments so it could hold its own if needed. But lack of sufficient funding and the surprising end to the Unification war saw no more than five hundred made. Most of the Dreadnoughts were surrendered to the Alliance who dismantled the starships in favor of their own slightly larger and more efficient carriers. The remainder were either destroyed during the war or left in hidden hangers should there ever be a renewed effort against the Alliance. The Spacers stumbled upon one such cache. After an awful lot of trial and error they repaired one into working condition and by converting many of the hangers meant for fighters and short distance craft into hydroponic farms they were able to create their own small-scale version of what the Independent Movement once fought to create.

As the stolen Bernard came within wave distance of the Promenade, Li checked in on Nate and Dawei. “Are we ready to dock?”
Nate gave him a worried look before answering, “I‘m not sure. We know it‘s an automated program that triggers once in dock mode. Dawei and I are pretty sure we were able to turn it off but we won‘t know for sure until we dock.”
“That‘ll have to do.” Li grimaced. “You two check the systems and notify me if the signal starts to emit again. I‘ll head to the bridge and send a wave to my contact on the station.” Nate nodded as he ran a hand through his hair. Li left and made his way to the bridge to find Paul still mumbling about the Spacers.
“Gorram rutting spacers. . . They‘ll cheat us of every cred we got. They‘re not gonna have any decent info, not unless we want to know what the newest fashion for some backwater moon is.” Paul nearly jumped out of his chair when Li announced his presence with a cough.
“Yesu, Li. You startled me.” Li stared hard at Paul, “Is there going to be a problem when we dock with the Promenade?” Paul looked away first, unable to hold the stare. “Not from me. The Spacers might have a different idea though. They‘ve got a history of being swindlers, real two-faced folk if you know what I mean.” Li sighed, “Look, I don‘t care what your unfortunate personal history is with these people. But while we‘re here you need to contain it. These folks are just who we need to help make this ship our own now. Especially since our old contacts won‘t help us because they‘re too afraid.” Paul made no attempt to respond so Li pressed him for an answer. “Dong ma?” Paul looked at Li again but couldn’t look him in the eyes. “Yeah, sure.” He relented. Li held the stare a few moments longer before taking a chair at the far left in the room, from there he sent out a wave to his contact.
“Li! As I live an‘ breathe! I didn‘t expect to be hearing from you after that card game back at Madame Robin‘s.”
“Neither did I. I haven‘t finished spending all those creds I won off of you, Hector.” Hector laughed, his double chin bouncing in sync. “If I had known you were such a shark I would‘ve never invited you to that game. So why come to the Promenade, Li?”
“Short story: I‘ve got injured personnel onboard this ship that we borrowed.”
“So you need a scrub job and medical assistance?”
“Exactly.”
“Easy enough. You gonna tell me the long story?” Hector kept a straight face but Li could hear the curiosity. “Maybe, Hector. Maybe. Will there be a dock ready for us?”
“I think I can find one that‘s not bein‘ used. You‘ll recognize the signal.”
“Good to hear. See you then.”

[img] http://beta.fireflyfans.net/bluesun.aspx?bid=23239[/img]

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Thursday, October 11, 2012 6:09 AM

NEEDY

The road to Hel is paved with good intentions


The loud clunk of the door being unlocked alerted Needy to the arrival of visitors.

It had been a few hours since Kyra’s visit, but even so it only felt like minutes since his last interrogation. He knew who the next interviewer would be even before she stepped into the room.

Julie stood there looking down upon him, her arms folded; her face stoic.

“You didn’t come on your own…” Needy began to speak, just as Safe appeared from behind the door and locked it behind him.

“Didn’t trust me alone with her?” he asked the captain, before rephrasing. “Or didn’t trust her with me?”

“We need to talk,” Julie butted in, ignoring his comment, just as the captain did.

“Yeah, I figured,” Needy retorted.

Julie bit her lip. “You’re pretty nonplussed considering what’s going on.”

“I’m sorry, would you feel more comfortable if I was screaming to be let out of these chains?” Needy shifted position so that he was sitting cross-legged. “I’m not causing a fuss because I know this is what I deserve. If times weren’t so urgent, I wouldn’t have bothered coming to Albion, I would have gone back home, surrendered myself to the authorities, maybe give myself the opportunity to say goodbye to my family. Of course, if I’d done that… maybe Safe and the others wouldn’t have got to you and Kyra in time.”

“This is about my father,” Julie said, ignoring Needy’s rambling dialogue. “After what your friends told me what you did, you think I give a damn about your penance?”

Needy sighed. “We’ve all got something to atone for.”

“Some more than others,” Julie retorted. “Now tell me about my father.”

Needy shook his head. Why should he talk to her? She and her family had caused nothing but grief for the crew, and now she wanted to shift the blame on them again. Still, he couldn’t help himself. “He’s dead.”

Julie tensed up. She wanted to hit him, to kick him. Hell, giving him a piece of her mind would have been satisfying another, but she’d given her word to Safe. She wouldn’t touch him, she remain calm. She’d ask her questions and leave.
Maintaining her composure she bit the air, “Why?”

He had a reply for her, it was the sort of reply the old him would have given, especially to someone he didn’t like. But in truth she was just hurting, answering her with a twisted joke would have done him no favours. Time was urgent and he needed to convince the crew that he’d changed, that he was someone that they could trust. And so he gave the only reply that he could: The truth.

“Because he rattled cages. Because he became a threat”

“To who - these Norsemen?” she asked, Safe having already filled her in on what Needy had told him. “What does my father have to do with them?”

“No, that’s just what they want you to think,” Needy explained. “You think it’s that simple? That all these killings are being done by one group – find them and we solve the whole gorram mystery? No, You, me, all of us, we’re involved in something much bigger than some cult. The Norsemen have their eyes set on a goal, and as far as they’re concerned some need to be sacrificed, and some need to be controlled. The captain’s friend, Soul. He’s one we need to be wary of. He’s the one they’re looking for. Your father? Your father had nothing to do with this. But he’d made enemies. He stuck his nose in. And someone finally had enough. Is it any surprise that there’s inconsistences between his death and the others? Someone wanted to make it look like he was just another victim of the cult and their schemes. A public murder meant to incite the people, to have them point fingers.”

“Who would do that?” Julie said, still struggling to grasp it all.

“Someone with power - a military group; maybe even the parliament itself. It wouldn’t be the first time. Either way, they’d be a big fish to catch, with plausible deniability. What you need is evidence.”

“What I need is justice,” Julie said, her voice breaking

“And you’ll get it. But you won’t get it by going after them, even if you did know who THEY are.”

“I could find out what my father was working on, who he was investigating.”

“And what? Go knock on their door?”

“Burn their house down if need be.”

“And you won’t last much longer than he did.”

“Then what?” Julie snapped “If you’ve got all the answers, tell me.”

“You need to find them,” Needy answered.

“Why? You were with them, he said,” she nodded back towards Safe. “If they were so important to you why’d you run away? Why didn’t you get what you needed from them?”

“She’s got a point,” Safe added from the back of the room.

“I’m just one man. And one man can’t do a thing against these people.”

“One man can try,” Julie said.

“And he will fail,” Needy answered.

“Ok, so what? We hunt them down and kill them? Or hand them to the feds in the hopes that you’ll all get a free pardon. What’s the game plan here?” Julie said.

“Listen, I don’t know. I don’t know the big plan anymore,” Needy snapped. “I don’t know a gorram thing. Don’t know whether I made a huge mistake running away, whether or not I should have just blown them all to hell! All I know is that they want Soul. And if they get him then we won’t be able to stop them. You have no idea what he’s capable of. In their hands, he could help them destroy civilisation as we know it.”

“Yeah well, maybe he should,” Julie said. “We’re all out here on our own anyway, what’s the point of any of it?”

Needy didn’t know how to reply. Even Julie wasn’t expecting those words to come out of her mouth.

Only Safe did anything to break the silence. Stepping forward he placed a hand on Julie’s shoulder. “C’mon,” he said, directing her to the door. “Let’s get some air.”

“Sure, whatever,” Julie mumbled as they both headed for the door.


***


Just as the door clanged shut, Julie stopped and declared “I need to talk to her.”

“Who?” Safe asked, unsure.

“Who do you think?” She bit, her tether finally at its end.

“You said you didn’t want to…”

“I f***ing need to talk to her!” she exclaimed.

“Okay, okay,” Safe held his hands out to her, attempting to calm her. “Whatever you say.”



*****



The woman spun the ruler at a 90 degree angle as she drew another line on the blue paper. She scribble a few notes at the side, before pushing it aside and re-examining the map.

“Ciaran?” Safe said from the doorway.

“Captain,” she answered, barely acknowledging him as she kept her eyes on the task at hand.

“You busy?” he asked.

“Just drawing up a p…” she stopped, concern all of a sudden washing over her. “What is it?”

“It’s nothing, it’s just…” Safe gave up trying to explain as Julie appeared from behind him.

“Julie,” Ciaran said, attempting to sound warm and considerate, but well aware of how false it will seem to the girl she once helped raise.

Julie didn’t answer for a while, letting the moment hang, before she finally answered in a cold tone, “Ciaran.”


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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 12:23 PM

WASHSYOUNGERSEXIERBR

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges




The sun beat down hard on Blessing reflecting on the blood of honest men and monsters. The heat stirred up the aromas of gunpowder, and flesh into a rancid stench enough to make most men gag. Wisp however was not most men. Neither did he have time to indulge in such a humane fantasy as disgust.

He stood surrounded by the bodies of innocent town’s people he had given his all to try and save.

He stood in the middle of a town thrown into a chaos and conflict beyond its very comprehension.

But mostly he stood as the sole survivor in a battle against blood thirsty crazed Reavers.

Wisp drew the breath from the last Reaver on the rooftop with his bare hands as his knees finally gave out. He collapsed beaten and bloody into the pile of limbs strewn around him, consciousness slipping from him. After the last of his fellow defenders had fallen, he had beaten a hasty retreat to the water tower to defend Chloe. Vastly outnumbered he had sprayed the crowd with his shotgun till they were upon him at which point he grabbed the barrel of the weapon and used it as a club. Like a Wildman he had swung it into the heads and chests of the oncoming horde till it had broken under the strain at which point he thrust the broken point into a nearby neck and drawn his long dagger from its sheath. This felled more enemies before becoming caught in the metal armour of one of the attackers. The final few Wisp had beaten with his knuckles till they streamed raw with blood. As calm descended over the rooftop Chloe finally came down from her perch atop the water tower where she had watched the tail of this grisly scene. She had personally seen Wisp take several blows that would have felled even the best of men and feared she would find him another member of the ranks of the dead. Upon reaching where he lay she checked for a pulse upon the wrist of the warrior, and found none. Frantic she held back tears and thrust her fingers at his throat to check again and was rewarded with a weak but steady pressure against her. Overcome with relief flooding to replace the terror ebbing away she allowed herself to weep. A few solitary tears broke into a racking sob as she looked over at the men not as lucky as Wisp who lay dead around her. Holding Wisp to her breast she wiped the blood from his face as best she could and cried herself to sleep in the leftovers of the slaughter.

The next morning a militia from the surrounding towns and hamlets crept slowly into the village of Campbell expecting to find the same malignant scene of death and depravity. It came as a great shock to them to find the majority of the town untouched by the maelstrom that had passed by. It was only upon reaching the tavern did they encounter the site they had expected. Bodies lay deep strewn around the base of the building leading out in a path out of town. Upon knocking on a few doors townspeople enquired after the men upon the roof of the tavern claiming tales of the able bodied men leading a resistance led by the mysterious young man known as “Wisp”. The would be rescuers had originally avoided this area of town for fear of booby traps and an unspoken fear of the dead beasts. However upon insistence by many of the natives they braved the blood soaked part of town to check the rooftop. Only a small cluster of the reinforcement headed into the slaughter field around the pub and many of those that did had to turn back and vomit before the roof was reached. Eventually ladders were found and the team entered the centre of the killing storm where Chloe sat dressed in blue in a field of red. Eventually after hysterics she managed to get across the fact that despite appearances Wisp was alive and in desperate need of medical aid. With great difficulty Wisp was carried to the ground and brought with all haste to the town doctor. A crowd began to gather as news spread of the heroic standoff and the lone survivor. Eventually the surgeon came out of his clinic to address the masses. His injuries were diagnosed as extensive with an assortment of broken and bruised bones, punctured and battered organs; however the doctor assured the waiting crowd he would live. Woops and cheers broke out amongst the town’s people, women wept with joy and men held back their own watery eyes. Wisp lived as a symbol of defiance against unstoppable odds, without his presence they all knew what would have befallen the town. Chloe told all the story of the rooftop as accurately as she could but stories spread like wildfire as the man went from hero, to myth across the whole planet. By the time Wisp was well enough to leave the hospital a team from ‘Verse Today’ an independent wave team were waiting to interview him. Still high on pain meds he nodded to questions and waved for the camera on a chemical daze.

Weeks passed and Wisp recovered in Chloes bed as the town continued as normal, recovering from its own near disaster. However Wisps ordeal was far from over. After going to bed in the sweet embrace of Chloe as their relationship had blossomed since that fateful day, Wisp awoke with a start. Rather than being in a soft feather bed, his head was hooded and he felt himself suspended upright by chains at his wrists. He was naked, with his bare feet against a cold steel floor. Someone had found him. As he was so close to a new life someone had found him and was here to make him pay. Could it be the Alliance? No this sort of cloak and dagger wasn’t their scene, they’d have just killed. Unless maybe they wanted information? Vankeetsen was a more likely option, casting his revenge from inside a cell against the person who brought him down. There was another option as well but Wisp knew that it spelled a very unpleasant end for him.

“Well, well, well. Little boy blue back in front of me”

Vixen. Vixen had him. He felt nails against his skin from behind tracing gouges in his freshly healed skin. Wisp knew he had no chance. His psycho ex had him hooded and chained after he left her suddenly in the middle of a fire fight. She was heartbroken. She was insane. Wisp physically shuddered at the thought of what she had planned for him. She ran her hand gently over his chest “How long has it been since you left me” She turned the stroke to a stab for the last two words and continued to stab as she spoke “abandoned me” each sentence jabbing a different part of his chest “left me to die?” She pulled the hood from his head and the light stung into his eyes. The Vixen he knew was not stood in front of him, this Vixen was truly wild. Her trademark cat suit was no longer shiny and polished but soiled, torn and stained. Her hair flew around without control tangled and knotted. No make-up was upon her face with dark circles shadowing her eye sockets against the deathly pallor of her skin.

Wisp tried to speak but found his throat incredibly dry forcing him into a cough “how did you find me?” he eventually choked out.

“HOW DID I FIND YOU? Thats it? Not how have you been? Not you look well?” She slapped him viciously across the face twice with the back of her hand. “I FOUND YOU after your stint on the whole verse wave! ‘Young man saves town from Reaper attack’ even without the holo it stank of your morals.”

She walked behind him disappearing from his view and Wisp winced expecting a fresh onslaught of scratches which she predictably gave him.

“I’ve spent a lot of time looking for you hoping to make you pay for what you did. They tried to arrest me you know? Tried. Please those incompetent fools couldn’t manage that. They were too busy cleaning up the piles of bodies I left. Even children. Yes I remember how that got to you so I threw in a few extra for luck.”

Wisp tried not to picture the scene and forced his mind to think about how she abducted him. It was then his thoughts landed on Chloe. “Chloe. What did you do to her?”

“Chloe?” Vixen circled back to his front “Oh! That floozy you were with? She’s right here. Would you like to see her?”

Before Wisp could respond Vixen pulled a freshly severed head from a nearby box. Dangling Chloe’s head from her blonde locks she raised it in front of Wisps eye line unable to look away.

“This her? Blonde didn’t know that was your type?” She grasped the severed neck and brought the face to hers in a sick caricature. “Is she prettier than me?” Vixen pursed her lips and then brought her free hand up to make the lifeless lips mirror her.

“Please don’t do that to her”

“Why Not?!?” Vixen flung the head by the hair into the corner of the room “Why shouldn’t I? Because it upsets you? Because it hurts you? By dear boy blue I’m going to upset you. I’m going to hurt you so bad. Worse than you can imagine. It’ll be long and slow. I’ll make you suffer...”

Vixen picked up a nearby pipe wrapped in cloth and began to beat Wisps ribs whilst offloading a torrent of abuse. Wisp passed out and was awoken several times and clearly felt all of his ribs break and crack. When she was done, or tired, or just bored she used a device nearby to reset his ribs then did it all again. This went on for a few days of breaks and repairs. She splashed out occasionally on burns and cuts. Always healed and repeated to draw out the agony.

Over a week after he had arrived a man came into his cell after Vixen had finished her latest beating. He injected him with a strong painkiller and splashed water on his face. Wisp was dragged back to reality with a start. “Listen. I don’t know who you are or what you did to her. I’m part of her crew. I’ve seen her do this to other guys. Guys who look a lot like you. I think she was practicing, and I've seen what comes next. I was ready to bail before you came along and now I wanna take you with me. She’s crazed. There’s nothing you could have done to deserve what she’s gonna start doing to you. I heard what you did on Blessing lemme repay a favor?” The stranger half carried Wisp down a series of corridors to a nearby shuttle and the pair of them disappeared into the black.



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Wednesday, October 17, 2012 9:07 AM

WASHSYOUNGERSEXIERBR

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges


The night had lasted a long time. Well the night had lasted the exact same time nights always last on a space ship where the lights are all on a timer and you create your own natural rhythm. But this night seemed to have lasted a long time. Seryn’s shift on the helm was long finished and Safe’s would be up in a few minutes. Wisp knew he had to awaken and shower before it was his turn again but the sight of Vixen laid in the crook of his arm left him to pause. On a ship such as this an extra five minutes would go unnoticed, even ten would be fine. Wisp hated to be late for his shift but the peaceful moment would be shattered as soon as he moved. Questions hung waiting in the doorway like vultures, what did last night mean? Was it a one off thing? Was it meaningless?

All excellent questions that Wisp did not want to answer. Right now, in this moment, it was perfect. Vixen was his lifelong friend finally on the straight and narrow. She could be forever changed and good and they could live out a life of excitement together.
She could go back to her old ways though. This could be a temporary shift of alignment before she descended into a fresh murderous rampage.
These options and more lay unformed like Schrödinger's cat waiting to be made reality. Wisp didn’t want the universe to decide just yet. He wanted a few more moments of peace and open love before everything became complicated. Unfortunately his bladder had made an unrelated decision and he had to go and relieve himself. Slipping quietly out of her embrace he made his way out of her bunk into his own next door. He showered and changed and went to begin his shift at the helm replacing Safe.

“You know what you’re doing?” Safe asked. He had obviously seen Wisp leave Vixens bunk a few minutes ago. He had a right to ask, sleeping with an ex-psychopath was a decision that affected everyone on board.

“Not quite. But I believe she’s changed. I really do. I don’t know if she’s happy with the change but that’s something we can work on. What did you get outta Needy? Anything of use?”

“Mad ramblings, stuff that didn’t make sense. Hell he’s convinced of these things and I wanna believe him but it’s just so...” He trailed off. Wisp knew enough not to continue that line, Safe needed time to think.

“The next important thought, we got a heading? Kyra’s on board and we should have shaken any trail we carried from Albion. Soul’s gotta be our priority now, I’ve been looking and I can’t find a trace”

“You won’t” said a voice from the door of the cockpit. The pair turned to see Ciaran stood behind them. “they’ve got Marshall so hidden there’s not a trace of him anywhere around the verse. But I know who took him. The same man who attacked you on Santos. He’s called Kurren and I think I know where we might find him.”

Safe and Wisp looked at each other for a moment before Safe spoke up

“Where?”



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Friday, November 23, 2012 9:01 AM

JAZAF



“I know you‘re in here somewhere, Ruff! Come on out.” A pre-teen Kurren spun at the sound of a clicking tongue. Before him stood his father, The Grimjester Conrad. “You know that is no way to coax out your prey.” He gently chastised. “What did I train you to do?” Kurren closed his eyes and took a breath. “Target is named Ruff, He is eight centimeters long with a four centimeter tail that was cut down from six. His fur is light brown with patches missing from previous attempts at capture.”
Conrad nodded, “Good. So you know the physical description of the prey. ” He knelt down next to his son. “Next, What are his habits?”
Kurren opened his eyes and pointed at a hole in the wall. “Each night he leaves his den, follows the wall to the left and scrounges for food in the kitchen.”
“How many late nights did you spend?”
“Five in a row, then two each week to make sure.” Kurren replied.
“Good,. Well done!” Conrad clapped his son’s back. “Okay. Method of capture?” Kurren looked at his father with a smile on his face. “I‘m gonna feed him.” Conrad raised an eyebrow, his son answered back with a gesture that he should be followed into the kitchen.
“I put a sedative in a small pile of grains. When Ruff comes out on his nightly raid he‘ll stop at the grains and go to sleep after he eats the food.”
“Sounds like a good primary plan. But do you have a back up plan in case this one falls apart?”
“Uh….no.” the young Kurren stammered.
“You always need a back up plan. Always.” Conrad made a swift swing with his right arm. On the other side of the room a small crash was quickly followed by a squeal.
“Ruff!” Kurren shouted when he realized what his father had done. He made a beeline for the entryway of Ruff’s home. Out of the corner of his eye he could make out a brown blur on his left. Kurren leapt and made a desperate grab for the scurrying prey.

Kurren sat up in his hospital bed with his right arm outstretched and his hand balled into a fist. Disoriented, Kurren looked around at his sterile surroundings before Nate leaned into the room. “Hey, boss. We made it to that spacer station. It‘s called The Promenade. They got a little bit of everything here. The doctor in this medical station fixed up your leg.” Nate punctuated his sentence with a nod towards the limb. Kurren pulled the sheets away to see his leg. “The doc said the wound, the…uh.. Laceration, was deep and nearly severed an artery. But he was able to stitch you back up. The doc says you shouldn‘t walk for a while. Three months give or take.” Kurren said nothing he just traced his wound with his finger. “You feeling alright boss?” Nate asked. “I‘m fine. Just reliving a moment in the past.” Nate began to back away. “Don‘t worry, it wasn‘t a painful one like last time.” Nate stopped inching towards the door. “How is Li‘s plan holding up so far?” Kurren asked Nate. “So far so good. The ship stopped sending the signal as far as we can tell. Dawei and I are pretty sure we managed to root out the program that sent the automated waves. Li is meeting his contact now to try to get more information on The Chapter.”
“Ok, This is what I want you to do Nate, go get Dawei and Paul, bring them here. We need a back up plan.” Nate left the room quickly to complete his job.
“We always need a back up.”


[img][/img]

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Friday, December 21, 2012 6:50 AM

NEEDY

The road to Hel is paved with good intentions


This takes place just prior to WYSB's post:
Quote:


“Julie,” Ciaran said, attempting to sound warm and considerate, but well aware of how false it will seem to the girl she once helped raise.

Julie didn’t answer for a while, letting the moment hang, before she finally answered in a cold tone, “Ciaran.”



Ciaran didn’t look the same.

Julie had remembered her quite differently. In fact it had taken her a while to put two and two together, and when she had… well, she didn’t quite know how to react.

Her father was dead. And the woman that had lied to him for god knows how long was standing before her now. She may not have pulled the trigger. But she was as responsible for his death as anyone else. She had sent him on a course that had led him to this.

Julie could feel Safe watching her from the corner, he knew she would try to stop a fight if it was to break out. But he was still a few feet away. She could still do damage.
Without hesitation, Julie clenched her hand into a fist and swung it at the womans face, clocking her in the jaw. The sound was that of a blunt thud, so loud that it almost didn’t sound real. As expected, Safe was there right away, a hand on Julie’s shoulder. Ciaran looked back up at her, her eyes watered and her mouth agape as if in shock. But the truth was she had expected it. What Julie hadn’t expected was that for the briefest second, it wasn’t Ciaran’s true face that had looked up at her, but that of her mother – the woman she had impersonated. And then she was Ciaran again – this stranger that had been a part of her life for so long and she hadn’t even known it.

Safe stayed close, his hand firm on her arm. He didn’t know who he was protecting. Instinctively he had come to the aid of Soul’s former lover, but his heart told him he should have been helping the other. She had been through so much, and he knew that Ciaran had been the reason for a lot of it. Truthfully, he didn’t know what the woman was capable of. Maybe he was protecting Julie after all.
Restraint or not, Julie wasn’t going to strike her again. True, there was a small bit of satisfaction gained in thumping the bitch, but it was all for naught. Her heart still ached. Hitting Ciaran wouldn’t change that.

“I’m sorry,” Ciaran finally said, her words trailing off as Julie held her hand out in a gesture to silence her.

“Save it,” Julie replied.

“I wasn’t myself back then,” Ciaran tried to explain.

“Yeah, I know, that’s kinda the point,” Julie answered, almost with a laugh.

“I mean…” Ciaran began but was interrupted once more.

“I know what you mean.” She answered. “I’ve heard it time and time again, I was brainwashed, I was manipulated, I was being blackmailed. You have any idea how many times people use that as an excuse for their sins?”

Ciaran fell silent. She didn’t try to respond.

“And now – what - you’re working for the “good guys” again? If that’s what these folk are. No offense.” She added, looking back at Safe. “Doesn’t change the fact that…” Julie hung her head and stepped away from the captain and the traitor. Taking a seat in one of the chairs by the side of the wall, she gazed at the beige rug – which seemed out of place in this room – as she continued to tell her story.

“He looked for her. My father. After what happened back there, with you, with this crew… he had a mission. To deliver Janti to the world so that his story could be told, to change the parliament for the better. But he couldn’t focus. It became about her. About finding my mother.” Julie looked up and across as Ciaran. “My real mother.”

Ciaran felt a lump in her throat. She’d done some terrible things in her life, and not even just with The Expendables. She hadn’t needed their programming to commit some truly horrendous acts. Most nights they haunted her, but on certain rare occasions they had the good grace to let her be, but ever since Santos, her mind had been plagued with awful memories. Soul was her mission now, and she tried to stay focussed, but seeing Julie like this only reminded her of what she had done.

“He was obsessed. He hadn’t known how long you had been a part of his life, when the change happened. You were so good. So authentic. He didn’t know where to start. But he had his people look for her. The plans that the president had for the new alliance should have been at the forefront of his mind, he was chosen by the first lady to serve the administration, to hold it together. Is it any wonder it fell through. We didn’t make a gorram bit of difference. And now? Now he’s dead and so is Janti. And I’m here. And you’re… you’re safe and sound. Running off on an adventure, for what? If we couldn’t make a difference at the top what makes you think you can do anything out here?”

“Julie, we’re trying to…” Safe began.

“I know you’re trying. I can’t hold it against you. IF you help one person out there then maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it can make a small difference. But that’s not why I’m here.”

“You want to find justice for your father?” Safe said.

“Yes. Of course, but I know that nothing I do to her will get me that,” Julie says, looking over Safe’s shoulder to Ciaran once more. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe you weren’t in control. The Expendables, the ones that hired you, I know what they’re capable of. You weren’t the only one they got to. You weren’t the only ones who suffered. But if you are different now, if you truly want to help, then do something for me. Tell me the truth Ciaran. If there is a spirit that lives on after death then maybe you can still make it right with my father. Help him find some peace. Tell me what you did with her. My mother. My real mother. Where is she?”



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Monday, March 11, 2013 2:21 AM

NEEDY

The road to Hel is paved with good intentions


Quote:

Originally posted by NEEDY:
“Yes. Of course, but I know that nothing I do to her will get me that,” Julie says, looking over Safe’s shoulder to Ciaran once more. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe you weren’t in control. The Expendables, the ones that hired you, I know what they’re capable of. You weren’t the only one they got to. You weren’t the only ones who suffered. But if you are different now, if you truly want to help, then do something for me. Tell me the truth Ciaran. If there is a spirit that lives on after death then maybe you can still make it right with my father. Help him find some peace. Tell me what you did with her. My mother. My real mother. Where is she?”



The Hunt-Kismet Ball was the last place Ciran Torne wanted to show her face. She was growing tired; tired of the formalities and political etiquette. The ball may have been a charity function, raising money for the poor and the desperate, but she saw it for what it was – an opportunity for the rich to pat themselves on the back, whilst plotting how they might stab their knives into those of others; the chance for those in high positions to make arrangements to be placed in other positions by pretty young things. Her husband Liam didn’t like it either, but it was his job to smile and shake hands with these people. Ever the diplomat, he was there to represent his brother in law, Senator Sian Dreight, but that didn’t mean Mrs Torne had to like it. She never had.

Even so, despite the loathing she had for these sorts of events, there was a part of her that was glad for tonight. She knew where she stood with these people; her own family was another thing. Her husband in question was to meet her there – a strange thing to be sure, but not so uncommon for couples to arrive separately in this season (spring had always been a busy time for those in office, many nights were spent apart) – and that in itself would be an awkward situation. But her daughter, thankfully, she could be apart from for the weekend.

The girl had always been trouble. Ciran’s sister Audrey had warned her, “Don’t have kids or, if you must, at least find someone to look after them until they’re in their mid-twenties. They’ll bring you nothing but hassle.”

She was right. Julie had been a rebel from the get-go. From the age of six she would have temper tantrums, throwing things at her, breaking her grandmothers precious vase out of spite.

In the years that followed, she only got worse. Liam couldn’t see it of course. He only saw her on her good days. But he wasn’t there in the mornings or early afternoons. He wasn’t there to see her stroll in the early hours, still doped up from the night before. Ciran had covered for her, kept her out of the papers, and for what? Now she was pregnant and she insisted she didn’t even know who the father was. She would have her out the house already, disown her, but Liam was always there defending her. It was all about their public image. It didn’t matter what it was like living there, or that she was on her last tether, as long as they all smiled for the cameras. Quite how they could paint the image of a pregnant fourteen year old as anything but unsightly, she didn’t know. But Liam would see to it, that’s all he said. He would see to it. The baby would stay of course, Liam wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe he would insist they raise it as their own. Yeah, that sure sounded like him. Maybe he would even keep Ciran herself out of the limelight, if only to maintain the illusion that it was she herself that was pregnant. Maybe that would be nice for once, or at least would be if she could have some peace and quiet. But no, she would have to stay there to take care of Julie, the insufferable bitch.

Maybe Ciran would do something he wasn’t expecting, just as she was supposed to be giving birth, she would come out and announce to the world that she was never pregnant and would leave him. Let him deal with the mess. Have him explain how he was keeping his wife prisoner if only so that his “adorable” young daughter could still be regarded as the nation’s treasure. Yeah, blow the lid on the whole thing. Show the worlds the true face of politics.

Ciran rubbed a hand over her belly, imagining what it would be like if she was pregnant again. And strangely enough, she felt sad. Not sad over her situation, but over the fact that she wasn’t pregnant. She didn’t want another child. Or did she?

No, it wasn’t being pregnant that she missed. It was the time when she was pregnant with Julie, when they had their whole lives ahead of them; when Liam clearly still loved her, and she him; when they weren’t just Liam Torne and Ciran Torne, but Mr and Mrs; when they were joined at the hip; when every moment spent apart felt like a lifetime. She missed loving him.
If only she could… if only things were different. If only it was easier. Julie had made their lives hell but she had given up long before that. Maybe Julie was the way she was because Ciran had long since checked out. And now? Now was there ever a chance of repairing that? She doubted it.
Mrs Torne dabbed her eyes and readjusted her make-up. Grabbing her keycard she slipped into her shoulder bag and made her way for the door.

She’d give Liam this night. She’d do her best to smile and be courteous. She’d be his partner in arms, if only to stir those nostalgic feelings once more. Liam was still there for her, even now he still told her that “she could talk to him”, that she could open up. She’d just stopped trying. But maybe, tonight, she could try. Julie was one thing but Liam… they could still patch things up. It would take time, but it was better than the alternative. The truth was that she couldn’t leave him, she’d given up so much for him and the family. Without them, she wouldn’t have anything. Honestly, she didn’t think she’d be able to survive.

Ciran opened the door to her room and immediately jumped in shock. A young woman stood there in the doorway.

“Julie?” she asked, dumbfounded. How did she…? She began to contemplate before she jumped again.

Only this time it wasn’t shock, it was a bullet. The bullet that put a hole in her dress and now lodged itself in her chest.

Ciran found no words to say, instead she blinked once, stumbled back and fell onto her back.

Julie entered the room and closed the door behind her, looking down at the poor woman.

Ciran had lost feeling in her body already, but her heart inside ached.
With open eyes she stared listlessly into the face of her daughter. But then as the room started to blur, she realised it wasn’t her daughter’s face at all. It was her own.


****

"My mother." Julie repeated to Ciaran, who had become lost in her own memories. "She's dead isn't she. You killed her."

Ciaran tried to hold back her emotions as she stared into the eyes of this young woman she had once called her daughter.

Julie shook her head and bit her lip. She knew it was the truth. A part of her had wanted to believe that somehow it wasn't. That, as improbable as it was, there had been no deception. That this woman that stood before her, though her face was different, was still her mother. There hadn't been any deception.
But she couldn't ignore the facts.

"How can you just stand there?" Julie said. "You know what you've done to us, and you can't even admit it."

"You're right," Ciaran said abruptly. "I... murdered her. There's no excuse. It doesn't matter what I say, it doesn't forgive that fact. I took her from you."

"And where is she now?" Julie said, fighting back the tears. "Buried in cement? Do you even remember?"

"I remember it," Ciaran answered honestly. "All too well. They cleaned the scene, the agents, and I don't know what they did with her. But not a day
goes by that I don't see her face. She deserved better."

"Yes, she did." Julie says bitterly. And with that she takes her leave, but not before muttering a final request. "For your sake, stay away from me."

***

Ciaran wandered through the halls of the ship, lost in her thoughts.

It seemed no matter what she did, the ones she cared the most about were the ones that suffered. Julie would never believe her, but the truth was she loved the girl. It would have been wrong for her to suggest that she loved her even more than her own mother had, but the truth was that the memories Julie had of her mother weren't of Ciran Torne. Ciaran had spent three years with Liam, she had helped repair their marriage and the relationship she had with their daughter. It may have been a job at first, but that didn't change the truth. She had loved that family.

Maybe she would spare Julie the truth of that, it would be much simpler if the girl hated her. But there was still someone out there that loved Ciaran, or at least she hoped that was still so.

Soul.

She needed to find him. And she believed she knew exactly how she could accomplish that.

Quote:

Originally posted by WashsYoungerSexierBr:
“The next important thought, we got a heading? Kyra’s on board and we should have shaken any trail we carried from Albion. Soul’s gotta be our priority now, I’ve been looking and I can’t find a trace”

“You won’t” said a voice from the door of the cockpit. The pair turned to see Ciaran stood behind them. “they’ve got Marshall so hidden there’s not a trace of him anywhere around the verse. But I know who took him. The same man who attacked you on Santos. He’s called Kurren and I think I know where we might find him.”

Safe and Wisp looked at each other for a moment before Safe spoke up

“Where?”


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Saturday, May 25, 2013 12:32 AM

WASHSYOUNGERSEXIERBR

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges


Monsters haunt us all.

They stand in the shadows and peer at our every step, waiting for us to falter. We create some ourselves. Some to protect our fragile forms from the world, a demon stronger than we are that knows no fear and knows no pain. Some are mind creates on its own, secret thoughts twisted out of recognition to prevent our psyche from every considering the option.

And then some are made for us. By our family and friends. By the news. By soldiers. By priests. By men and women so swarmed by their own monsters they have to give them to others before they’re torn apart.

And sometimes if you get enough monsters, if you carry around so many that you feel them crawling underneath your sky at every step. They begin breaking through and snapping at you in the real world.

Then you let them out.

At first you release them drip by drip. Venting pressure from a bursting dam. But as the water starts’ flowing it’s hard to stop. And you’re stood in a raging deluge of creatures from your mind till you’re drowning. Grasping for air in a sea of torment; and you’re willing to do anything just to get that taste of fresh air again. You’ll break every bone, bleed every drop, and sell every inch that’s left of your soul just to see the sky again. Eventually you forget what breathing was like and begin to swim with your monsters. Be at one with yourself.

Be at one with your monsters.

Vixen woke up that morning and breathed fresh air for the first time in years. She was floating on her ocean of monsters, no longer trapped beneath the surface. The crushing weight of all her released inner madness settled into a calm, rising above it all she saw clearly all her past from the eyes of an innocent.
And she wept.
She wept for all the lives she’d taken, for all the lives she’d crushed and shattered, for every choice that she’d made leading to the suffering of others. She cried for her abusive family, for her rapist uncle, for the father who’d turned a blind eye in greed, for her brothers whispering ear of discontent. She cried for every child who’d grown up without a parent because of her, and sobbed for every child who never had life.

Her monsters had held her down so long she thought she had become one. Till she finally got the strength to break free. She was not clean but her soul was not stained beyond rescue. Then again her monsters had not left, though soothed they still swam beneath her, waiting.

Always waiting.


Vixen wandered onto the bridge as Ciaran was pointing to a space chart.
“I've got a name and a grid reference. The Chapter and something here” she pointed at a grid towards the edge of the rim. Wisp peered at the grid and pulled up the surrounding area.

“Christ they don’t wanna be found. That’s about as close to the black as I’ve known people go. Everywhere near there is spacer territory. Not a rock even half terraformed within a fuel tank”

Vixen sauntered closer and checked the coordinates, “I know the Chapter, well know is a slight exaggeration.”

“Really?” whined Ciaran “Cos I did a little looking and all I found was dust and a lotta dropped calls. How’s a psycho killer like you know anything?” Ciaran squared up to Vixen putting herself directly in her eye line. Vixen however just walked straight through her up to Safe.

“I did a job once. A bit of simple smuggling nothing too fancy. Picked up a package from the core and took it straight to the rim, speed run. One box, on ice, tamper proof ‘bout the size of a man’s head. Had no trouble got paid much more than it was worth. It stank of the old pay em in bullets game so i brought in a dead man’s trigger and everyone left alive. The drop point was on an asteroid but it was too small for anything major, my guess it was just a pick-up point.”

“well it’s a place to start” Safe patted Vixen on the shoulder “Nice work kid, give the directions to Wisp and we’ll be on our way. Wisp, find us a spacer port on the way to fuel up.”




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Wednesday, July 31, 2013 4:57 AM

KYRA

Who we are depends on the outcome of the struggle between who we were and who we want to be


The Raven blazed a trail across the black, heading for a rock in search of answers, in search of justice, but would reveal a whole lot more besides.

Julie Torne stepped into Kyra’s open quarters, catching sight of the young woman sitting huddled on the bunk.

“How are you holding up?” Julie asked.

“Honestly, been better. We almost there?” Kyra asked, barely interested.

“Safe said it will be about another hour,” Julie answered.

Neither of them spoke another word for a good twenty seconds, prompting Julie to take a seat opposite the only person she could count as a friend on this boat.

Kyra slowly glanced up, intuition told her that the girl wanted to talk, whether she herself wanted to or not. “And you? How you holding up?”

Julie rolled her eyes before answering, “Oh you know, I’m living the dream.”

“I’m sure that once we get there, things will…” Kyra stopped herself. “You know what, I honestly have no idea anymore what I’m doing here.”

“Where else is there to go?” Julie answers

“Well ain’t that a good reason,” Kyra replies despondently. “What about you? You got a girl, you got a man out there somewhere.”

Julie sighed, she didn’t want to talk about them. Deep down she would love to do nothing but talk about them, talk to them - she missed them so much. But it was just too painful. She had thought little of leaving them behind whilst she travelled to Hera to claim her fathers body. But she had counted on it being a couple of days… not this. She just hoped that they were safe, that whoever was responsible wouldn’t go after them next. It’s why she was there. She couldn’t live in fear for the rest of her life. She needed to know the truth.

Julie simply ignored Kyra’s previous statement as she said, “I-I just can’t help feeling that all of this has something to do with my father.”

Kyra finally pulled herself out of her own world and sat at the edge of the bed, her attention now focused on the young woman. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you have all this to deal with right now.”

Kyra didn’t envy the girl one bit, Julie wasn’t cut out for this, but then again neither was she. She’d just learned to live with the drama. But for the young woman to have to deal with her father being murdered, forcing her to throw her lot in with fugitives where she was now heading to meet known criminals, all the time knowing she has a daughter back home she might never see again… And whats more, now Needy had told her that her father probably hadn’t even been killed by members of the cult. That his death was likely perpetrated by enemies who had staged his death to look ritualistic in order to hide where the true blame lay. Maybe she would never know the truth.

Little did Kyra know that Julie knew more than she let on. She just didn’t understand it all yet.

“I guess this will all be over soon enough,” Julie said sombrely.
“Sure. Safe will deal with it. We can be done with it. And we can get you home to where you belong.”

Kyra stood up from the bed and made her way over to the young woman, planting a kiss on her forehead before pulling her into an embrace.



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