Time to Die

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This is a short story I wrote about Dystopia Rising a long time ago (November 1, 2012). It was based on the events of the game just prior to me writing it.

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Wide eyes looked around with arms crossed tightly over her chest. The glow of the fire illuminated the smiling faces of those present. There was a retrograde, two irons, and a variety of other folk present. Many of them laughed as they spoke to one another. There was an old man present. He had walked her down to this place. He had grey hair to his shoulders and a cane that he leaned on. One of the Irons, a girl, came over to ask if she wanted to try some pie and some moo juice. The wide eyed girl slowly nodded her head. She had no idea what either of those things were. One of the group walked over to her. He wore a stained white shirt with a blood spattered white coat over it. Upon his head was a charred white hat and an eye patch with a small red cross. He extended an open hand to the nervous Iron.

“Hi. I’m Xavier. Most people call me Medic. What’s your name?”

She looked down at his hand but didn’t move. Her eyes darted back up to his and squeezed her arms tighter. “I’m A… I’m Jeanie.”

She slammed her hammer into the red hot scrap with a loud clank. The hum of the reactor buzzed quietly. The drip of water through the pipes of the filtration unit filled the room with a quiet music of various pitches. But to the Iron, only one sound mattered. The sounds of her hammer slamming into the small metal scrap she worked on. The sounds of the red hot coals in the forge as they sizzled and burned. The sounds of hot metal being dropped into cold water and the cloud of steam that arose. These were the sounds that mattered. These were the sounds that the Iron paid attention to. It didn’t matter what else was present. All that mattered was her current project.

“You’re mad at me.” She looked down to her hands to avoid his eyes.

“No, I’m not.” He crouched down so that he could look up into her eyes. She quickly darted them away from his gaze.

“Yes you are. I wanted to help them. I know what they were feeling. I could help them! You’re mad at me! You yelled at me.”

“I am sorry I yelled at you. I was mad that we we weren’t able to help them no matter how we tried.”

Each slam of the hammer onto the hot metal scrap helped to work it into the perfect shape. The Iron knew exactly what shape she wanted, as was clear by the very deliberate placing of each strike she made. Fold the scrap here. Weld it there. Chip off this corner. Smooth down this other one. There was a clear end goal in her movements, yet, they were harsh. Her face was scrunched up and her jaw clenched. Each slam of the hammer came with a groan of anger. For a moment, her actions sped up. The speed of her work increased and suddenly all the pent up rage slammed down. The hammer bounced out of her hand and clattered to the floor. She leaned forward over the forge and just sobbed.

“Jeanie,” Medic smiled as he sat down next to her. There was a mischievous look in his eyes. “You’re dumb.”

“No, I’m not. I learned how to do science.”

“Yup. Just like I said, dumb.” He nudged her with his elbow and smiled. There was nothing mean in his voice.

“No! You’re dumb!”

The Iron slid down to the stone floor of the reactor room and wiped her eyes. Her shoulders shook as she just sat there staring through tears at the cobbled together reactor. She was alone. Years ago, she had felt this very same feeling. Years ago, she had felt the pain of losing her family. When she was a child, the only one that she had ever called family was Big Sis. Then Big Sis was sold. Taken away from her to never be seen again. There had once been a slight hope that she might see her sister again. But now, that hope had disappeared. Every effort to find her Big Sis had failed. She usually ignored the feeling of loneliness that existed by refusing to think of her sister. She would go and spend time with her new family. With her brother. Medic. Except now Medic was gone. Once again that loneliness was present and more suffocating than the smoke from the forge.

“That man is Jigsaw, a Nemesis of the Telling Visions. He is a man who gives people an appreciation of life, by bringing them close to, if not over, the point of death… And you’re his target… This is a game. The point is to understand. Once you understand, you will have won your freedom… You are his target because of what you said. You’ve been casted… I will do my best to help you, but understand I can’t play for you.”

There were many times when Medic had made her so angry. There were many times where she felt like he didn’t think about anything he said. But there were also many times where he would help her through things. There were many times that he would help wipe away the tears and get her back to her feet. Jeanie sighed. She buried her face in her arms and smeared the tears into her sleeves. It took effort, but she reached over and grabbed the hammer and returned to her feet, to her work. Slowly she began to work on the scrap pieces once again. Slowly she began to weld them back together into their perfect shape. Slowly she began to make sense of the pieces, the four points of the cross, and the diamond shaped hole in the center. Slowly her work began to take its final shape.

“What is it?”

“It’s quarry stone. It’s made out of marble. You can’t pick it up.”

He looks at the bottle, wraps his fingers around the bottle and strains, struggling to even make the bottle budge. He sighs, let’s go and readjusts with his other hand, his dead and rotting hand. This time he tosses the bottle into the air with ease and catches it without thinking twice.

“How did you…”

“Tank arm,” he answers with a shrug. “So, you gonna drink it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do it. Record the data. See how it makes you feel. Just like Science!”

She picked up the cross, forged out of scrap pieces, and turned it in her hand. It was smooth from where she had hit it with the hammer. Over and over she had vented her frustration through the hammer and into the small metal cross. Over and over her loneliness was pounded into the scrap that she now held. Normally she would have gone and talked to her brother. She would have told him how she felt. He would have made it better. That’s what always happened. Now that had ended. Now she was once again alone. Once again it was just her and the hot coals of the forge. Oh, how she hated this feeling.

“Doo doo butter.”

“You too? Really?” The Iron groaned.

“Doo doo butter.” He laughed. “What?”

Jeanie rolled her eyes. “You know what Medic? You’re a jerk.”

Medic smiled brightly. “Yup.”

Jeanie took the cross in her hand and made her way through the small hallway to the stairs from the reactor room. A pull of a lever on the door and the hatch clicked open so that she could lift the heavy door. She slipped out, pulled the lever, and slid the door back into its place. A click made it clear that the latch on the locks had closed tight. She turned and made her way quickly down the stone stairs to the field next to the tap. She turned and weaved, twisting her body to avoid contact with anyone. She didn’t want to talk. She didn’t want to make eye contact. So, with her eyes fixated on the ground and her grip tight around the iron cross that she held, she quickly stepped down the path and walked off alone.

“Why did you call me your sister?”

“A sister is someone that you think of as family. Someone you don’t want to lose.”

“But why did you call me your sister, Medic?”

“Because, I don’t want to lose you.”

Pounding feet on the dirt path. Still, the steps weren’t loud. There was mostly dirt and wet moldly leaves on the ground. Not much to cause noise underneath her hurrying feet. The cross was gripped tightly in her fist as she walked down the path. Here eyes focused strait ahead and each step was just as deliberate as the last one. She knew exactly where she was going. Down the path to where it meets around TV Land. Across the tv land field and then down the next path to the field at Wit’s End. Down to where she last saw him.

Eyes on the ground and arms crossed tightly in front. Every so often eyes dart over to the stairs and up to the tea shop. Nope the door is still closed. Finally, it opens and the familiar face emerges wrapped in a blanket. He makes his way down the stairs and over to where the Iron stood awkwardly next to the bar.

“You didn’t know who I was…”

He held his arms open. “Come here,” he whispered softly.

The Iron latched onto him, not wanting to let go. “You didn’t even know my name…”

“You’re my sister,” he answered, “in the end, I’ll never forget you.”

Tears once again began to well up in the Irons eyes as she walked down the hill toward the field by Wit’s End. The last time he was here, with him… Was right after she had returned from the May Cape. This was the last place that she had seen him. He liked to travel. But here, here was the last place that they had been together. As a family. Jeanie dropped to her knees in the field. This is where they had sat. They were watching the stars together. They talked about everything together. It had been as if Jeanie hadn’t left for her trip at all. Jeanie shook for a few moments and leaned forward dropping her forehead to the ground.

“There’s cake over there, at the bar. You ever have cake Jeanie?”

“What’s cake?”

“It’s sweet. Has chocolate in it. You know what chocolate is right?”

“Yeah. I had some before.”

“You should go get some cake.”

“No. I just wanna sit here with you.”

Jeanie shook. One hand gripped the grass, pulling tightly at the green tendrils. The other gripping the small forged cross, knuckles white. There was a large groan and both fists came up off the ground before slamming into them once again. The Iron let the cross fall from her grip and she began tearing at the grass, pulling pieces out of the ground in large chunks. Then she dug her fingers into the ground as if they were claws. Nails gripped at the frozen dirt, yanking and pulling up anything she could find. She screamed out as she clawed at the dirt, moving more and more dirt to a small pile on the side.

Then she stopped. Her whole body trembled. Gently, she picked the cross up off the cold grass and she held it in her hands, staring at the work that she had just finished. Then she let the cross drop into the whole she had dug up. It seemed to fall slowly for whatever reason, almost as if this were from a Telling Visions scene that had a remote control thing slowing it down. The cross bounced a moment as it fell into the hole with a dull thud.

Carefully she began piling the dirt and grass back into the hole, burying the cross. Then she began to speed up. Each clump of dirt and grass that she piled into the hole became bigger and quicker. She’d drop the dirt into the hole and slam her fists into the dirt to punch it down flat. Finally she just began punching the dirt mound she had created over and over. She screamed as she punched.

“FUCKING PINEYS! YOU MURDERED HIM! YOU KILLED HIM!”

Over and over the Iron screamed. Over and over she slammed her fists into the mound of dirt til she could feel her hands no more.

Finally she stopped and her eyes narrowed.

“I promise, Medic. After what they did to you, every last Piney will die.”

A Horrible Person

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Inspired by Dystopia Rising and the wonderful characters in Hayvn. A scene from “The Adventures of Emily and Jeanie: A Trip to the Beach.” Not exactly my best writing, but I enjoyed writing it and I enjoyed having Jeanie try to work through her actions and finally start looking at how she behaves and treats people. Hope you all like it. Written a long while ago on Facebook (April 4, 2012)

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There are two Carthage units outside of town.

Her brown eyes scanned the darkness of the forest around her as she walked.

Two Carthage Units.

She shivered and pulled her worn out blue back pack off her shoulders. Quickly unzipping the bag, she pulled out the green jacket and slipped her arms into the sleeves before returning the bag to her shoulder. With a deep breath she continued walking on the worn dirt road outside of town.

Carthage units outside of town.

Eyes darted from tree to tree, peering through the darkness. Each step thundered loudly, drowning out the sounds of crickets and forest animals. But, the blackness did not change. The only red glow that she could see, was her own.

Outside of town.

She paused and took a deep breath. There was silence. Absolute silence. No crickets. No zeds. No raiders. Nothing. Complete silence, aside from the quick in and out of breathing.

Carthage units.

Something grabbed her shoulder. The Iron Slave spun around quickly and her eyes widened. She shook her head as she stared up into the faces of the two Carthage units. They grinned evilly as they each took an arm and dragged her toward their fifth reich traveling companion, dropping her at his feet.

“We caught one. Looks like another runaway.”

“Good.”

Jeanie shook and dropped her eyes to the ground. Her gaze darted from rock to rock and her breath came in quick, short bursts. Her gaze caught the man crouching down to her level and his gloved hand raised her face so their gazes could meet, revealing the familiar face of 731, Carthage himself.

“I have always been good at completing my mission,” the familiar Iron smiled. “A malfunction, like yourself, cannot hide from me for too long.”

Jeanie screamed and sat up quick on the bed where she had been sleeping. She panted as she looked around the room. The walls were patched up wood with various warning signs hanging on the walls. “Warning: Radiation Exposure” hung next to the bed where she slept. Her eyes darted to the other side of the room where Emily sat at a small table. There was a candle on the table and an old magazine in her hand. She was staring over at Jeanie, her eyebrows raised.

“Everything okay?”

Jeanie nodded and ran her hands through her hair. “Yeah. Bad dream.” She reached down to her bag on the floor and grabbed a piece of string to tie her hair back with. “What you looking at?”

“Some old world stuff. Found it on a dig awhile back. I’m amazed it lasted so long. But I can’t make sense of some of what I’m reading here.”

Jeanie slid out of the bed and walked over to Emily. “Maybe I can help? What’s confusing you?”

“This! I just..” Emily shook her head. “I’ve seen a few people wearing them here. Then there are pictures of people wearing them back before the fall.” Emily handed Jeanie the magazine and pointed to the picture. A young woman was at, what Jeanie could only assume was an ocean since the water stretched out til the sky in the picture. The woman wore barely anything. Just a small scrap of fabric tied around her bottom and another around her chest. “What is the point of this?”

Jeanie’s eyebrows raised looking at the picture. “Um… So you don’t get your clothes wet? But then, that doesn’t make any sense because she’s still wearing something. If you don’t want your clothes wet, you just don’t wear any. It gets cold but, if that’s what you want…” Jeanie shrugged.

“See what I mean? Except some people still wear them here and will just sit outside in a chair or lay on the ground in it. There is no point to this! Okay, maybe they are just trying to follow some pre-fall tradition or something, but.. but… What is the point of this? Really? Why would anyone wear this kind of thing?”

Jeanie shrugged again. “I don’t know.”

“Sometimes I wonder about the people back then.” Emily sighed and placed the magazine on the table. “What was your dream about?”

“Before I left Hayvn, Carthage told me that there were two units outside of town but that he would try and save me if anything happened. In my dream, I was walking to meet up with you… And the two Carthage units got me. They brought me to the Nazi they were travelling with, except it wasn’t a Nazi it was Carthage. As in, the one that lives in Hayvn and thinks the whole town owns him.”

Emily’s eyebrows raised. “Carthage was a Nazi?”

“Yeah. It was weird. Especially because, Carthage isn’t a Nazi. Heck, I don’t think any Nazi’s would ever let an Iron actually be one of them. They’re like Pure Bloods like that. Stupid ‘look at me, I’m better than you’ Pure Bloods. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were actually Pure Bloods.”

Emily sighed. “About that… We need to talk.”

“Okay?”

“Why do you hate Pure Bloods so much?”

“That’s easy. Because they are manipulative jerk wads who think nothing of themselves and how great they are and how everyone in the world should worship them for being great even though they really just are power hungry ass hats who don’t want to admit how weak they actually are.”

Emily groaned. “You do realize that when you say stuff like that, it’s kinda mean, right?”

“So? It’s not like they’ve done anything nicer for any of us.”

“What about Sofi? Do you realize you made her cry?”

“Who cares? It’s not like she did anything unless it got her something in return. Besides, she’s not a problem anymore.”

Emily’s eyebrows scrunched together. “And why not?”

“Cause she died last month. Now I don’t have to deal with her anymore.”

Emily’s eyes went wide. They darted across the table a few times before she got up and shakily went to the door. “I… I’m gonna get some fresh air. I’ll be back.” She opened the door, slipped outside, and shut the door quick behind her.

Jeanie shrugged and looked around the room a little bit. She saw a book on the mantle over the fireplace. She carefully pulled it down and looked at the cover. It was called The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Jeanie shrugged and put it back. She knew that Darwin was important. Disco had said so. But right now, she was not in the mood to read. She looked around the small room of the church before sitting down in Emily’s chair and placing her chin in her hands.

Why was she having this dream? She clearly remembered the conversation that she had with Carthage. He was just as afraid of the other units as she was. Why then did she picture him as the Nazi? Besides, he was very clearly not a Nazi. Okay, so he spoke with the same funny accent. And he was a Carthage unit, which worked with Nazis. But he was different. He drank hooch. He didn’t want to go back. That was the big thing. The not wanting. Besides, he had said he wanted to save Jeanie and the other Irons in town. That was like, the most anti-Nazi thing ever.

Jeanie shook her head and leaned back in the seat, staring up at the ceiling. Besides, it was clear Carthage didn’t want to hurt her. He had taken off every single weapon he had and left it at the bar for their conversation. He even took off the Iron Works recording device thingy. Not to mention the fact that every time they passed he would put his hands up for some reason. Though, with his hands up they were very clearly no where near his weapons. Except for the one on his wrist. But shooting that into the sky is dumb and Carthage is definitely not dumb.

Jeanie thought back on all the times that she had ever interacted with Carthage. In fact, he had never really done anything. Ever. The only times that she had ever seen him take out a weapon to use was when zeds or raiders were around. Even when they were in the casino together, he had never ever done anything. Heck, he even stayed on the opposite side of the room.

He never did anything to Jeanie ever.

Jeanie groaned and closed her eyes. “Great. Just great. I am a horrible person.”

“No, you’re not,” Emily answered as the door opened up to the room.

“Yes I am. I treated Carthage like crap. And he never ever did anything ever.”

“Wait, is this about your dream?”

Jeanie opened her eyes and looked over at Emily. Despite the red glow that surrounded the Iron, Jeanie could still see that her friend’s eyes were red. Though, Jeanie was not surprised. It was really windy outside. “Sorta. I was trying to understand the dream… which I don’t… but it got me thinking about Carthage and how much I’ve kinda been a douche bag to him.”

“Um…”

Jeanie sighed and rolled her eyes. “Every time I was around Carthage I got freaked out by him and ended up being really mean and nasty. Even though he never pulled out his weapon and never did anything. In fact, he promised to protect me and help me stay free. I mean, yeah, he still says things I don’t like, like how I’m a malfunction and I hate when he does that. But at the same time, he never actually did anything mean and the stuff that he says I guess is kinda like me in that it’s how he knows things. Just like me when people start talking about breeding in confusing ways. I get things my way. He gets things his way. But he never did anything… And I was a jerk.”

Emily paused a moment before walking over and taking a seat on the table. “Yeah, it kinda sounds like you were.”

“I am a horrible person. No one believes it. But it’s true.”

“No it’s not. Like you said, you get things your way. Doesn’t mean you’re bad.”

“But it’s not the first time I was horrible! I made Oddfellow cry! And he’s really nice to me! He gave me my knuckles and I made him cry! See, I’m horrible!”

“Um… Why did you make him cry?”

“I didn’t mean to! Roland was saying bad things about him and it upset me so I told him that I still cared about him even if others didn’t and then he cried. And Blackgrass said I didn’t do anything wrong, but I made him cry and I didn’t want to.”

“I’m not sure who Blackgrass is, but he’s right. You’re not horrible. You weren’t trying to upset him. And when it comes to Carthage, at least you know what is wrong and now you can fix it. You can apologize to him. And then you can try to stop being a jerk. No matter who the person is.”

“Who?”

“Pure Bloods included.”

“Why? They’re always shit heads.”

Emily sighed. “No. No they’re not. And you seriously need to stop. You know you made more than just Oddfellow cry right?”

“No…”

“You made Sofi cry.”

“So?”

“Jeanie, she wanted to be your friend! She tried to help you. She was hurt because she thought you hated her.”

“She’s a Pure Blood. I just wanted her to leave me alone. But she wouldn’t. She always wanted to take over for me.”

“What do you mean?”

“When Jigsaw decided I was gonna play his game…”

“Wait, Jigsaw?” Emily’s eyes were wide.

“Yeah, he wanted to play a game with me, which freaked everyone out. But he was a stupid coward and chickened out. Anyway, Sofi freaked out about it too. She kept writing me letters. She wanted me to have guards. She wanted me to not go anywhere alone. I’m sorry, but I hate guards. So I said no. I said leave me alone and she wouldn’t stop.”

“According to Sofi, you said some really mean things to her.”

“She wouldn’t leave me alone. Besides, that was it. I never did anything to her. I mean, the town thinks I killed her the first time she died. But I totally didn’t! I swear!”

“Wait what?!?” Emily slid off the table, her eyes were wide and her face white. “You did what?”

“No!” Jeanie stood up quick. “I didn’t do anything! I swear it! The Aezir did. They came and she wouldn’t enter the church building at all. I tried to hold the door open. I tried. But she ran away and they came to the door and I couldn’t keep it open. They would have killed us! I don’t want to go back to the gravemind ever again! I couldn’t keep it open. But I tried. It’s not my fault! Just because I don’t like her, doesn’t mean I’d kill her!”

Emily was shaking. She turned around quickly and took a deep breath. Her hands moved up to her face, but Jeanie couldn’t see what she was doing. There was a sniffle and a deep breath and Emily turned to face Jeanie. Her eyes were red again.

“Sofi tried to be your friend. She wanted to help you when Jigsaw was around. She wanted to protect you because she realized that you are still learning about everything. Instead you made her cry and…” Emily paused and quickly wiped her eye. She took a deep breath and shook her head. “Sofi couldn’t understand why you hated her so much. She never wanted to hurt you. Ever.”

Jeanie paused. “Emily, are you okay?”

Emily shook her head. “I just wish I had the chance to say goodbye to my friend. I… I will be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes…” Emily shook her head. “I’ll be back. I’m going for a walk.” Emily turned and once again quickly headed out the door. Jeanie heard a sniffle as her shaking friend shut the door, once again leaving Jeanie alone in the small building.

Jeanie sighed and sat down on the floor, leaning back against the table leg. Now Emily was upset. She closed her eyes and bounced the back of her head against the table leg. She made Oddfellow cry. She was mean to Carthage. And now she upset Emily. Jeanie couldn’t quite figure out why Emily was upset. Okay, that wasn’t entirely true. She couldn’t quite understand why Emily had cared for Sofi enough to call her friend. There had to be a reason. Jeanie just couldn’t find it. Maybe Emily would explain it when she got back from her walk. If not, she’d ask a few people in town. Doc Thomas or Medic might be able to explain it. They did a great job at explaining lots of things.

Besides, she didn’t want to be a horrible person anymore. Especially since the town thought she was even worse than she was. Jeanie sighed. If only Blackgrass were here. He had done a great job calming her down the last time she felt like this.

The Will to Keep Going

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This is a short story inspired by the world of Dystopia Rising and the writings of some of my good friends. I wrote this awhile ago (Jan. 20, 2012) before I was even using this blog to tell stories, which is why it isn’t on here. But putting it up here now. This was a potential future for the character I play in Dystopia Rising. It has long since been put into the never possible category, but was still quite fun to write. Please enjoy!

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“NO!”

Running. Feet pounding on the dirt path. Each step slamming into the pebbles louder than the one before. Tears slid down the pale face, sliding into the various crevices of missing skin and sunken cheeks. Down. Down the hills. Down through the trees with their bare arms. Down towards the coldness of the lake. Down.

There was a loud scraping thud. Hands flew out to protect the rest of the body from the fall. Rocks scraped across palms and tore through the left knee of the patched up cargo pants. But this wasn’t a reason to stop. No. Keep going. Nothing must stop her. Not even the knowledge that chunks of skin were probably missing from her hands and knees. No, she must not stop. She must, absolutely must, keep going.

It’s what she always did.

Keep going. Keep running. Keep heading down. Down where the world was quiet. Down where everything made some sense. Down. Down like the tears that slid from her sunken eyes. Down like the bumps in the road where puddles formed in the rain.

Stop.

On the left was a building, a small one that had been scrapped together. Numerous boards had been added and replaced. Some strips of scrap helped hold the one or two windows in place. She paused and slowly made her way over to the small building. The wood was rough and in many places dented from the numerous fights that had happened around it. There were bullet holes in many of the walls, patched with large sticks and sanded down flat. Splatters of blood marked the various injuries caused by protecting the inhabitants. There were secret entrances and exits, installed last month, for a quick escape from the building in case of attacks. Each and every crevice of this building, she knew. She had helped keep it in good order.

The wind blew and she shuddered from the cold, pulling the patched green jacket tighter around her. Cold. Hadn’t she always said that the winter was the better time of year? Work was easier in the winter, at least it was for this particular Iron Slave. But now, now the winter was just a painful reminder of loneliness. Trees without leaves. Ground, hard and unforgiving when you fall. She readjusted her ragged brown scarf. When she had first arrived, it hadn’t made much sense, what Kiki always said about the cold doing horrible things to the body. Now it did. The cold did horrible things when ones skin was slowly rotting away.

Another cold breeze blew gently by. Her hair ruffled a moment and for a quiet moment there was a slight chuckle. For a moment, it almost sounded like… But no. No one was there. It was just her, alone. Never the best idea, but at the moment it was the only thing she wanted. No, the sound was probably just some branches scraping together. Stupid branches.

She abruptly turned away from the small building and continued her journey down. She could see the lake from this house, but she kept going. No, this was not her final destination. She continued downward, to the building closest to the lake, to the church. To the only home that did not constantly remind her of him.

This time she walked, slow but determined. She reached into the pouch on her belt and rummaged through it searching for the familiar metal scrap piece with her fingertips. There it was. The key to the door. She paused at the steps to the church and looked out on the cold of the lake. Yesterday there had been two swans gliding across the lake together. Today there was only one. She shook her head and careful wiped the tears from her eyes so as to not injure the fragile skin before hurrying up the steps, turning the lock, and quickly shutting the door behind her.

Ah the warmth of the church. It was a slight comfort, but only slight.

She dropped her things off on a bed and sat down before dropping her head onto the pillow with a sigh. There were no more tears to cry. But there was such an emptiness, a loneliness that echoed through her. She hadn’t felt this feeling in years. Last time she felt this way, was shortly after… Well, it was best to leave it alone. Not reopen old wounds. Besides, he had fixed that. It had taken a few years and a lot of credits, but he had fixed it all. Besides, now Ruth was one of the town Sawbones. And that wouldn’t have happened if not for him.

A lot of things were because of him. The irradiated knuckles that she now used to defend herself. He had figured those out. The radiation collection device that the church now used. He had figured out with her. All these things made her think of him. She rolled over to face the wall. He didn’t build the wall. At least for now she wouldn’t be drastically reminded of him based on something she saw.

There was a knock at the door.

A groan as she rolled off the bed and shuffled her way over to the door, eyes red from tears that would not come. She undid the scrapped together lock that the Curie had made before opening the door to a familiar face in a white coat and hat.

“Hey,” he said with his hands slipped into his once white coat pockets. “Can I come in?”

“Sure…” She held the door open and let him pass through before pushing the door tightly closed and fixing the lock back into its place once more. When she turned back to face him, he was looking down at her hand.

“Really?” he asked sarcastically. “Some project you did?”

She looked down at her hand, injured from the fall. A chunk of skin dangled. She shrugged and reached into her bag for a scrap of fabric to tie around it and hold it together. Not really the best way to take care of it, but at least it would work for now.

“You want me to take care of that?”

“No,” the Iron shook her head. “It’ll be fine. Wanna sit?”

He looked around the room a moment.

“My bed is that one in the corner with my stuff,” she answered pointing to the spot where she had dumped her back pack.

“Got it.” He made his way over and shifted the stuff to make room for him to sit. “You okay?”

“Not really, no.”

“What’s going on?”

“I saw him just yesterday. Hell, we repaired the reactor again. He was fine. At least, I thought he was…”

“We all did.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

“Why not?”

“Well, come on! He was freakin’ insane. Walking right up to Nazis and somehow scaring the shit out of them by being, him. He could get raiders to work for him. So, he was supposed to get everyone on his side protecting him.”

“It’s not like he died in a fight.”

“No. Stupid ass heart attack. Why didn’t he try the tank heart thing that Disco and all them tried?”

“What do you think?”

“Yeah, yeah, he was stubborn just like the rest of us. I just, ARG!” She threw her hands up in the air before letting them flop down to her sides. With a sigh she made her way over to the bed and took a seat next to her brother. “What the hell, Medic. I didn’t want him to die…”

“Jeanie, he was old. It was gonna happen at some point. What, with all the zeds, raiders, nazis and all that we’ve pissed off, it’s a miracle he didn’t die sooner.”

“But…”

“Jeanie, listen to me for a moment. Remember the first time you went to the gravemind?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Remember what you were like after?”

“Yeah. I was freakin out whenever Bones wasn’t around.”

“How did that get fixed?”

“Professor Barnes. He reminded me that they’re never really gone.”

“Exactly. Now, I’m going up to the Tap. Just, keep that in mind, okay?”

“Yeah… sure…”

Medic gave the Iron a hug and ruffled her hair before standing. “You coming?”

“Give me a little while, k?”

“No problem kid.”

Medic slid his hands back into his pockets and headed towards the door. He unhooked the lock and made his way out, pulling the door tightly shut behind him. Jeanie continued to sit on her bed, silently, staring at the now shut door for a little bit. She looked around and slipped her hand into her pocket to pull out the glowing green knuckles. They were good pieces, bound to last a good while before anything happened. Not to mention that Jeanie knew how to fix them up if anything happened.

Yeah, Medic was right. So was Professor Barnes. He would still be there. Jeanie would always have a part of him with her and since he took her in, it would always be an important part of her memories.

Jeanie stood and grabbed her stuff. She adjusted the hat on her head before making her way out of the church and closing the door behind her.

As for now, she knew what she needed to do to keep going. She was going to head up to the casino and get to work at the forge. She was gonna use the scraps she had to build Doc Thomas his rocking chair. Okay, so he would never get to see it. But after all the jokes about the rocket chair instead of the rocking chair that he really wanted, it would at least ease Jeanie’s mind to give him one last gift.

Freedom?

0

She sat at the Dunwich Inn finishing her last glass of hooch for the night. Most everyone else had already gone to bed for the night. Even Sliphox had already gone to bed. Jeanie wasn’t tired. She glanced down to the tattoos on her left arm, visible due to her rolling up her sleeves after sitting down in the warm tavern. “No Masters” was written in black ink upon her wrist, just underneath her anchor.

A sign of freedom, vouched for by the Dock Worker’s Union.

She glanced back at her empty glass and then over to Beckett, the Full Dead who was leaning against the counter behind the bar, quietly smoking a pipe and looking around the room. There was a trace of blood on his face. He must have fed recently.

If anyone questions you, just tell them you work for me.

Jeanie nodded in response to the memory of his vouching for her before pulling her papers out of her pocket. Leather wrapped and carefully written, stitched in place, and signed, the Iron reread the notice declaring her freedom from the Van Buren family.

Well, technically, she had never been owned by the Van Buren family, but without a number who would question it?

You don’t have a number. These are fake.

Except Al, the grounds keeper of the Grove.

But now Natasha had seen to it that Beckett was going to vouch for her. Ethan had made a promise to get her legal freedom. Jeanie glanced down at the leather backed page she held. It would be wonderful to hold the actual legal paperwork documenting her freedom. It would be one of the most amazing things ever. Then no one would have to worry about anyone claiming her as a runaway again.

Jeanie slid the paperwork back into her pocket and hopped down off the bar stool. A quick walk into the other room where many people were sleeping, unable to find a bed in another building. A mattress in the center with crates stacked next to it was the bed that Sliphox and Jeanie normally shared whenever she stayed with the Summerwind Caravan.

Sliphox was snoring and sprawled out on the mattress. One arm stretched above his head and the other resting upon his chest. The veins on his neck and face were finally fading away but Jeanie could still see the green where they had been. There was the rough scraping of a chair being pushed in the other room from those who were not sleeping. Jeanie watched as the Ascensorite instantly had eyes open wide. He bolted upright, claws curled into tight fists and eyes darting around the room.

“Sli?”

He twitched, eyes darting over to where Jeanie stood, her glow illuminating the room a bit. “Sli, it’s just a chair. Go back to sleep.”

He listened a moment more, then let out the breath he was holding in and let his body relax again. “You should sleep too, Jeanie.” He took a deep breath in and let it back out before laying back down and closing his eyes once again.

“I know.” The Iron sat down on the mattress, carefully pulling pieces off her belt so that she could sleep without her tools digging into her side. She glanced over at Sliphox, her Ascensorite, as he drifted off to sleep again. He was wearing the necklace she made him, a simple rope she braided with a scrap ring on it… He called it her freedom ring.

Her eyes darted from that back to what remained of green veins around his face.

She had never felt more free than when he was around.

Would she feel free when he was gone? Even if she had her legal paperwork?

Jeanie slipped under the blankets next to the sleeping Ascensorite and stared up at the ceiling.

It was hard to sleep when there was so much to think about.

The Unwanted

0

Evening.

The bar was busy, as always. Johnny Two-Smiles was behind the counter flirting with two of the women who had drinks in their hand. Jarek was standing next to him, eyes closed and head bobbing in time with the beat of his kings playing on the court science device that Johnny had. People all sat around at the different tables, some were even huddled around the piano holding a conversation.

Jeanie stood at the bar, staring quietly at the glass of hooch in her hand.

When she first got into town, hooch had been disgusting and was something she didn’t quite like. Plus, a small glass would get her drunk. Now it took three or four glasses to get close to drunk and she very often would spend her cred at the bar. Then again, Yossarian had been right. Drinking helped when things seemed at their worst. They helped lighten the load just a small bit. Too much and it would actually make her feel more miserable. But a single drink or too and the world was just a tad bit better for a short while.

Jeanie sighed as she finished the glass. Hayven was awful right now. It wasn’t just the lack of food either. The people were down right rotten.

When it comes to a tank heart, everyone has to be on the same page. Otherwise, something could come up that might kill us all.
Well, that doesn’t matter. As long as Attica comes out alive.

Jeanie swallowed hard remembering very clearly as Attica’s friends had proclaimed that it didn’t matter whether or not she died. Jeanie stepped away from the bar and walked into the main room to look around.

We’ll talk in ten minutes, okay?

Sparrow’s words filled her mind, the promise that he never kept. Once again, he had avoided a conversation with Jeanie and left her alone instead of going to her like he’d said he would. Her eyes began to brim with tears but a deep breath was all it took to push them away? Had she drank too much tonight? Things were starting to bother her again.

She sighed and stepped out the door. There was a group heading down to GDI. She’d walk with them since the distance between GDI and the Dock Worker’s cabin wasn’t a lot at all.

What happened to Hayven? Hayven had been a place where people went out of their way to show Jeanie that she was a free Iron. People wanted her around and wanted her to know that everything was okay. She had teachers, family, and friends. Doctor Thomas became her father. Shea became her mother. She had siblings too. Medic and Jimmy Raynor. She had teachers in Doctor Thomas, Disco, and Agustus. She had people work with her all the time.

Now, most everyone had left.

Yeah, there were still people she spoke too. Jarek and Nevada. Jimmy and the other Dockworkers, especially Charles. Bell had started working with Jeanie more and more too. But, most everyone else, didn’t seem to care anymore.

Glitter didn’t talk to Jeanie unless something was very wrong. Mainz didn’t talk to Jeanie much either. Most of the Irons didn’t talk to Jeanie for that matter. Other crafters? Well, many were lucky if they had figured out Jeanie was an engineer or that she could build anything at all. Outside of the Kennel, the Dockworkers, and Bell, she was lucky if someone came to her with work. And even then, the Dockworkers often chastised her about her work. No, don’t build that, it isn’t worth it. No, you shouldn’t have sold that. What are you doing? Do you do anything for the dock workers? Then again, that wasn’t all of them. Charles, Jimmy, and surprisingly enough, even Lizzie acknowledged that she would get as much work done as she could for the union.

But, that didn’t stop the huge feelings of loneliness that plagued her. Or was that feeling in her stomach just the hunger getting to her? Or both?

Jeanie sighed and opened the door to the lakefront cabin that the dockworker’s had taken over. She opened up the trunk that she had built at the foot of her bed. Most of it were scrap pieces and fabric. Odds and ends. Not much to really worry much about. She started going through the supplies and grabbing the ones that were most necessary or that she didn’t want to lose. She pulled out the big blanket coat piece that she’d pieced together.

Doctor Raine was leaving for the Grove shortly. Jeanie was going with him.

At least there she didn’t feel alone or unwanted. And who knows, maybe she could fill her hunger if she stayed there for a little while.