The Wish

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I was challenged to write a piece about my character as a child. So, here is a piece about Jeanie as a child, but I warn, it probably isn’t going to be the happiest piece around. Of course, as all of my Jeanie pieces, this is based on a character I play in the world of Dystopia Rising by Eschaton Media.

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“Little sister, you have to keep up!”

A small Iron Slave, roughly seven or eight years old, quickly turned her face back to the crate she was carrying. It was full of scrap pieces in many sizes that she was moving. Many Iron Slaves had welded or smelted down the scrap pieces, making sure they were just the right size. Then the engineers would be able to use them in the larger build projects. Her eyes quickly glanced over to the forge again.

“Little sister, let’s go.”

The Iron looked over at the other Iron talking to her. The other Iron was tall, a grown up, though to anyone else, she may have only been around eighteen or nineteen years old. To the child, she was a grownup and old. Hair pulled back with string and the number A-816 tattooed to the Iron’s face. She too held a crate of scrap.

“I was just looking at the engineers,” the child said as she shuffled forward with the heavy crate.

“I know, but don’t forget what Boss always says: work and chores. Then you can watch the engineers work.”

“Why is it always work first?”

“That’s what it is for Iron Slaves like us.”

“Do you think when I’m big enough, Boss will let me be an engineer?”

The older Iron gently shook her head. “No dear. None of the engineers are Iron Slaves. But, if you work your hardest, and show Boss that you can be very careful with the scrap, he’ll probably let you work on the scrap at one of the forges.”

“I wish I was smart enough to be a real engineer.”

The older Iron Slave put down the crate of scrap. She then carefully took the crate that the child held and hefted it on top of the first crate. With a smile, she knelt down to be eye level with the young Iron Slave.

“Little sister, you are absolutely smart enough to be an engineer. You think and you figure things out. That is important for engineers to do. Boss just doesn’t let Irons be engineers.”

The child sighed. 16 gently brushed some soot off of her “little sister’s” cheek.

“Work hard. Do your best. Use all your thoughts carefully. Maybe, if you’re lucky, a genie will come along. Though, instead of helping you with the Rat Pack like he did for Al-a-din, he can help you be an Iron Slave Engineer, someone Boss trusts to work on the tougher stuff.”

The child looked up. “Do you think so? Do you think I’ll be able to do the really big projects?”

“Maybe one day, if you wish hard enough, Boss will let you.”

The child nodded, closed her eyes and wished with all her might. If she was lucky a genie might hear it and help her out.

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Just a Remnant

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Been going through some tough feels lately. Decided to work through them using Dystopia Rising as a creative outlet. So new short story. Not starring Jeanie. Just getting thoughts out on paper.

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I’m a remnant. Not just any remnant but a Mutie.

See my dad comes from a line of Ascensorites. Fallow Hopes people that go above and beyond to live every aspect of what they believe so that no one can question their faith. Which is funny, cause considering their family morals, you could wonder whether or not they were Nukes. I think they lived in a Nuke town and just felt the morals fitting with their Fallow Hopes lives. My dad, despite his obsession with how “This is what was spoken of” still wants us living under those Nuke traditions. He’s the head. Mom supports him and we, his kids, should all be traditionalist.

My mom is also an Ascensorite. First in her family too. Her family is very Rover, sometimes to a strange level. Always taken care of each other. Always looking out for people and feeding them when they could. But don’t mess with them. They’ll come back to get you when you do. Mom is the first Ascensorite in the line. She’s a Sainthood and she’s pretty serious about it to. Spends a lot of time studying up on things so that she can share it with others and help improve their lives. Never asks for anything in return. Dad thinks it’s pretty honorable.

So yeah, both of my parents are Ascensorites, but I’m the Mutie Remnant kid.

Even my brothers. One got the Ascensorite Sainthood thing from mom. Complete with the combat focus from Dad’s faith. Everyone is mighty proud of him. He’s a soldier. He’s a Teacher. He’s a faithful family man. Can’t go wrong there. Meanwhile, my other brother got the Rover back from Mom. Always looking out for others. Always into working with food and helping make sure people have what they need. He’s a Sainthood too. But don’t piss him off. Break a deal with him and you’ll never work with him again.

Yeah, we’re all Sainthood, except for Dad.

But then there’s me. The Mutie. The Remnant.

With two Ascensorite parents, I’d have to be a Mutie. You’d think I’d be an Ascensorite or a Rover. That’s what’s in the family. But I’m not. So I’m not a mixed breed. I’m a change. Darwinists would call me a mutation or evolution or whatever the crap is that they’re spouting these days. Broken.

Now you’re wondering what’s my damn mutation. Everyone wonders. I can see it in your eyes, just like everyone else. Yeah, I know you weren’t gonna ask. You’re too polite for that. But you were still thinking it. Everyone does.

You can’t see my mutation. But it’s my joints. They just don’t hold themselves together well. And while the infection fixes up all the joint issues you might have, it doesn’t for me. So my joints pop and creak with every step. Confuses doctors cause they all think it must be some damn disease but they can’t find no symptoms. It’s cause it is no disease. It’s just me and my infection being a damn dip shit.

I try to make up for it in other ways. I’m a Teacher and an Entertainer. Pretty proud of my entertaining skills too. I do stories and music. Let your mind focus on something else for awhile. I promise you it makes you feel better. Made sure my skills are things that don’t worry about my stupid joints too much. But it still sucks. Especially cause I’m thinking of picking up tinker or something like that and would hate to have my joints pop if I’m building shit for someone.

It sucks. Cause I watch a lot of people walking around just fine and I know I can’t. I can’t do all the things that everyone else does and that scares me. Cause now I’m thinking everyone believes I’m worthless. I can’t fight too well. So I must be worthless. I don’t cook or work on armor (at least not yet anyway) and I certainly can’t get us any damn supplies, so I must be pretty worthless. I can calm people down for a little bit and I know stuff. That’s about it. And I know that when the zed come attacking, I’m no use to anyone.

That all fucking sucks.

I know that so many people say I’m important. They need someone doing the research on how to best help everyone. They need people calming people down. It’s important shit, they say. They all tell me I’m a shining example of a Sainthood, working to support and help others by teaching them the skills they need to get through a situation.

But all I hear is when push comes to shove, I’m the one they have to protect.

I hate being a fucking leftover.

Judgement

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This is a short story based upon the world of Dystopia Rising, by Eschaton Media. It’s just something I’ve had in my head all day and needed to get out since I desperately miss playing, lol. The comic is from A Softer World and I felt it absolutely fit the story, so I added it. Please enjoy.

A Softer World: 1172

Iron Slaves are often judged by their appearance, more so than many of the other strains. The scars and marks they bear often tell various stories, though the story often depends on the audience.

A slaver would look at her and see monetary value. Rough and calloused hands? Working class. Soot stains? Engineer, probably simpler projects since Iron Slaves are not people and therefore not smart enough for anything more complicated than a basic welding or smelting job. No visible marks of ownership? Well trusted not to run. Tattoos on the arms include a series of colored dots, an anchor, and the phrase “No Masters.” Ah, never mind the trusted not to run. Possibly free born clink. Not trained in what its proper place actually is. Would need to be broken in. Decent price but lower due to the need for obedience training.

A scientist would look at her and see genetic engineering in action. The Iron Slave being a product of specific breeding experiments over years in the Iron Works. The glow an engineering marvel that allowed for both instant recognition of the subject’s location as well as providing an excellent light source for late night or dark locations. Not to mention the strength boost in comparison to other strains providing for the subject’s increased carrying capacity. The Iron Works clearly knew what they were doing when they were breeding these mules.

A Darwinist would look at her and see the power of evolution. A strain that evolved in response to the increased demands placed upon them. A quick glance at the sunken cheeks and eyes as well as the pale skin with the burns upon them would indicate possible radiation poisoning. This particular specimen is actively changing and mutating due to the radiation that is within her body. It will be interesting to see where she evolves further.

One Yorker would look at her and see failure. He’d see the exhaustion that comes with knowing some things that people should have never learned. He’d see the subtle lines etched into the face that depict the oppressive struggle of wanting to know more, craving as much of the knowledge as the Iron can get her hands on despite it’s destructive and terrifying nature. However a different Yorker would see the carefully chosen colors of the dots tattooed into her arm. She’d see the pain and fear hidden in the Iron’s eyes and the desperation of knowing another mark might be added to the tattoo.

One Pure Blood would look at the Iron and see a child. She’d see the fear in the Iron’s eyes and stance. She would see the shifting nervousness and the jumpy fear of having never known a mother or the care of a loved one when growing up in a harsh world. Another Pure Blood would look at the Iron and see determination and a refusal to give up. She would see the frustration of having to do things she hated and the will of someone who would see it through if that’s what was needed.

One Ascensorite would see a hard working sister. He’d see the anchor tattooed to her arm and would see someone he could trust to get the job done. He would see the phrase “No Masters” tattooed beneath it and would see the determination to rise above everything. He would see the fear in her eyes and see his niece to protect and innocence of not understanding would show him the mind of someone who needs to experience the life and emotions that comes with freedom. Another Ascensorite would see the bright glow that was so reassuring. He would see the frustration of someone who just needed to feel the wind and the beauty of someone so determined to break free of everything that binds her. He would see incredible intelligence in the careful work of worn but knowing hands and the naive wide eyes that struggled to make sense of everything going on around her.

But an Iron Slave looks at their own marks and sees a story.

She looks at her scars and the callouses on her hands and sees the years of working a Motor Works assembly line. She sees her reflection in the mirror, the scars upon her cheek and forehead and sees the way that many forget she is nothing more than an object. She sees the clean lack of a number and sees a determination to rise above what the world thinks of her. She sees an anchor and the “No Masters” inked beneath it and sees a group finally willing to teach her. She sees the colored dots on her arm and sees the overwhelming loneliness that comes with being an Iron.

But just like everyone else, she also sees the actions of those that are watching her.

She sees the harsh gaze of the slaver and the way he stalks towards her and knows he is judging her value. She sees the gaze of the scientist and knows that they’re judging her worth as a specimen instead of her knowledge as one of their own. She sees the pride in the Darwinist’s eyes and knows he values their shared faith and her growth within it. She sees the first Yorker and how he seems so angry and hurt and how he would rather stay deep in Lone Star than ever visit and see the one he saved. She sees the gaze of the other Yorker and wonders why someone who seems to care so much doesn’t want to be around anymore. She sees the two Pure Bloods. One looking at her with pity and a hand over the massive collection of pearls that wrap around her neck, judging the way the Iron grew up and was raised. It’s so dreadful that she was raised so harshly. The other would think and calculate with each glance, manipulating the situation in some way but trying to pass it off as nothing with just a laugh and a flick of her wrist. She looks at the first Ascensorite and sees the smile of someone trying to protect her and help her understand. She looks at the other Ascensorite and sees a strange collection of over protectiveness and the frustration of not being able to leave.

Just like everyone else, what she sees in those around her leaves an impression.

The two Yorkers, both represented by one of the dots in her tattoo. Both leaving her with a sense of loneliness. The two Pure Bloods, both distant despite how much they claim to care. Both reminding her of the loneliness that she’s always had. The first Ascensorite, trying so hard to break through the wall of fear represented by the 13 colored dots tattooed on her forearm. The other Ascensorite, so desperate to run free from everything and the overwhelming fear that he would be the next dot upon her arm.

She glances down to the scar that cuts across her left palm, the promise it represents. She glances back to the Ascensorite and his frantic glances to the forest. She glances back to the colored dots.

If he is added next is it going to be the black dot of someone who death had taken from her?

Or will it be the green dot of yet another person who walked away?

He keeps glancing frantically at the forest as if he needs to get away.

Will he keep his Rover Promise?

Or will he do the same thing that everyone else does and leave?

Promise Me

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This was a short story I did almost a year ago. I wrote this up, a very specific scene that actually got played out in my game. It was between myself and a character from Texas, known as Cadence. We had decided to each write up the scene. I was going to wait to publish this til both were written (he was going to write the other side). But, life got in the way. Not at all upset with him but I still want to share this. So I’m sharing it now. lol. So, this is a scene that actually happened in the game and it was absolutely wonderful and full of emotion. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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Her mind raced as she lay, stretched out across his knees. Jeanie stared up into the trees, trying to figure out what had brought her to this, her end. She couldn’t look at him, though it was hard to ignore the axe he held to her throat.

She was going to die.

This was it. He was going to send her to the Gravemind. Within a few minutes, the life of Jeanie Thomas would be over. She would live through the horror that is the Gravemind and then join the horde. She would be put down after attacking her friends. Everything would be finished.

Not even an hour ago, Jeanie believed she had longer than this. He knew right away. Cadence figured out very quickly the idea that she had come up with. Even threatened to tell everyone when she didn’t want to. Though, a quick reminder as to the lie that was his faith as a Hedonist shut him up real quick. Even when she tried hunting out Glitter to apologize, she had no idea that her death was so near.

Or that Cadence would be the one to do it.

Slavers? If she could evolve enough to fight back, they’d kill her. Raiders, they had killed her before. The Inquisition would love to see her dead. Then, there was always the possibility that one of her experiments or evolutionary acts could kill her. That was just a part of life as a Darwinist and a Scientist.

But Cadence?

Even when he motioned for her to follow him, asking her to talk, she would not have guessed it.

Though, Jeanie should have known better.

The first clue was turning to walk toward the Near Grave.

It was the first time she had seen Cadence discussing Hedonism. She should have known that something was up. Back in “that town,” he realized that his Hedonism was a lie. He was no longer a Hedonist. He worshipped the Gravemind. Cadence had explained all of this when he had Terlet hooch coursing through him. Cadence, a Hedonist? It was all a lie.

Yet, here he was discussing the seven sins and the importance of balance between them. How you couldn’t be just wrath or just greed.

Why did he pull his axe out?

Now it was obvious. Cadence was going to kill Jeanie. He would attack her with the axe until she fell. Not that it would take long. Her good armor was busted from the vaults and safely hidden away. She had put on her crappy armor this morning, but it wasn’t hard to bust up the reinforced jacket at all. A few well placed hits and she would drop to the mud at their feet.

And that was entirely okay.

The Iron knew she was going to die. She knew she should turn and run, but she didn’t. Death would be a blessing right now. It would be better than the life she was currently living. It would be better than the Gravemind continually torturing her with Caleb. Okay, so Sliphox would freak out over her being gone. But, everything would finally be over. No more suffering. Nothing.

But even the thought that Cadence would finally end her suffering did not prepare Jeanie for the sadistic power trip he had now.

He turned and shot flame from his hands. He swung at her, slicing into her scorched shoulders. Her body could not handle it. She dropped into the mud.

Cadence swiftly came up behind her and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her close to his body, stretching her back across his knees. His other arm brought his axe up and brought the blade to her neck.

Jeanie couldn’t look at him.

She could see his face. He had made sure of it. But she couldn’t look at him. She was stretched out, her skin charred and blistering, her shoulders bleeding heavily and covering him and the mud around them in her blood. With his axe at her throat and his knee in her back, this wasn’t just her death.

Cadence wanted power over her.

Instead of just killing her, Cadence wanted to make it clear what Jeanie was: an Iron Slave. Not a free mason or any of the other names that Irons used to show they were free. No, Jeanie was an Iron Slave and right now, Cadence was making that very clear. The lecture he was giving, she was going to die a slave. There was no freedom in this position.

Jeanie didn’t hear half of what he whispered into her ear. Her eyes refused to look at him, at the master. That is what he wanted to be, apparently. Maybe that’s the deal he made. By enslaving himself to the Gravemind, he would get power over others. He would be the master as long as he followed the orders of that Bitch.

Cadence roughly brought the sharpened edge of axe closer to her throat. “If you ever feed her, I will drag you to her in chains. Do you understand?”

Jeanie’s eyes glanced over to a different tree. She would not answer him. If he wanted to be the master while she died, then fine. She would do as he wished. She would be the slave. Slaves are quiet. They don’t look others in the eyes. They listen and obey the orders they are given.

“Promise me!” he ordered jerking the axe closer to her throat once again. This time she could feel the sharp edge pushing against her skin. If she moved, if he moved, she’d be dead.

“Promise me that you will never make a deal with her!” he raised his voice. Despite owning a slave of his own, he did not quite understand. Jeanie had already made the promise. The minute he gave the order, she had made that promise. Apparently, he wanted an answer. He wanted the Iron Slave to verbalize her answer.

“Fine,” she grunted, trying to keep her body steady despite the mud threatening to pull her out of his arms. She had to keep steady. Death may be a welcome blessing to the sadistic shit he was pulling right now, but it would not be by her choice. She still had to find Big Sis and Emily. She still had to finish her research. As much as she wished for death, there was still work to be done. If she was going to die right now, it would be by Cadence’s hand. In looking for her to promise, it had become clear, that death was not his intent.

Though, if he didn’t do something quickly, death would happen anyway.

Jeanie was starting to have trouble seeing the trees. Things were getting fuzzy. She wasn’t sure if she could lift her head off his shoulder anymore.

“I will be back in a few months. If I see any red dots around your eyes, I promise you, I will kill you.” Finally, Cadence removed the axe from her neck. He started shifting around, reaching for something. His knee kept moving in her back. The pain was starting to get to Jeanie. She knew not to cry out but she was reaching the point of wanting to just close her eyes and let the pain knock her out.

He brought a metal flask up and with one hand, quickly unscrewed the lid. He brought it to the Iron’s lips and issued another order.

“Drink.”

Jeanie opened her lips as he tried to force the contents of the flask into her mouth. She immediately recognized the taste. It had saved her before. Snake oil. She finished and took a deep breath, letting the snake oil help steady her head and start clearing up her vision.

Cadence shoved her off his lap. She turned her head to look at him finally, but he didn’t even glance at her as he grabbed his axe and walked off. Jeanie knelt there in the mud as the gravity of everything finally started to sink in.

Somehow, Jeanie was still alive.

And the only thing she wanted to do right now, was cry.