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.
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?