Bonfire

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Dystopia Rising story? Dystopia Rising story! This one is my Unborn, She. As always, the world is the property of Eschaton Media. The main character is my own original character. The rest are the property of those who created them in the game (and the Rover in this story was used with permission).

**********

The night was still young. A large bonfire in the center of the beach while the three Marsh Walker tribes and their guests celebrated and enjoyed fellowship with each other in the light of the flames. The new crew mates all cheered each other with pride for surviving and succeeding at the trials they had faced through the rest of the holiday. Tomorrow, they would awaken, climb into their boats and return to the water with the families they had joined. The guests would make their way back to the Grove, likely with a few members of the Katama guiding the way.

One particular Unborn of the Sankaty stood in front of the bonfire, staring into the flames. Her green skinned hands tightly gripped the scraps of the skirt she’d worn for years. Unlike the other new crew members, her face wasn’t covered with the joy of the night’s festivities. Her white eyes were focused on the dancing flames, free of their mask. Her cheeks, covered in soot and ash war designs, shifted softly as she chewed on the insides of her cheeks.

“What do you think of the party?” a voice asked.

“Huh?” The Unborn turned. Purple hair and a studded pink jacket adorned the Rover who had addressed her.

“The party? You enjoying it?”

She nodded. “Yes. It’s nice to find others of her kind so ready to welcome her.”

“You’ve got that in the Grove. Warsong. Your mom and dad.”

“They’re not like her. They all have others of their kind. Others who understand. Her mom understands a lot. He even guided her to the Kings who sing for the outcasts that are rejected. But he is still not of her kind. The ancestors made that very clear, to be careful of those who are not like her. She will make them proud again. Her new crew mates of the Sankaty are helping.”

“How so?”

“They are reminding her what it means to be one of the ancestors’ chosen people. They are helping her remember what the Fallow Hope caravan tried to destroy.”

“The Fallow Hope?”

The Unborn nodded and shifted her gaze to the skirt in her hands. “They called her an abomination. Prepared her to join the students of the blind. The Sankaty are helping her to reclaim her pride.”

“Good.” The Rover placed hands on their hips and nodded. “You should be proud. You’re medical professional, like your mom, and you do a lot of good for the town.”

White eyes glanced back to the Rover. “The town cannot decide if they want her kind. One minute they work hard to remind her that she’s not what the Fallow taught her and the next they use zed-be-gone to keep her trapped in the corner of the bar and unable to help or go anywhere.”

The Rover shook her head. “That shouldn’t have happened.”

There was silence between the two punks for a moment as they stood in front of the dancing flames. Around them, people laughed. On the other side of the beach, the four Grove Katama all sassed each other in ways that most of the Grove could not imagine.

“What’s that?” The Rover broke the silence and pointed to the skirt in the Unborn’s hands.

“The past.” The Unborn looked down at the skirt. Green and brown, faded with age. She saw the years of being hidden away when the caravan entered a settlement. She heard the harsh voice of the Ascended one who believed to the point of his skin bleeding the tenants of the faith. She heard the insults hidden in fake concern and the malice with which they gave her a name.

The Unborn tossed the fabric into the flames of the bonfire and watched as the green cloth burned with the dancing golden fire.

“You’ve got to make a choice, if the music drowns you out. And raise your voice every single time they try to shut your mouth.”

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What Do I Do Now?

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Dystopia Rising Story cause current plot is like OH MY GOODNESS! I know you always hear me say it, but if you haven’t looked into this game yet, please do. It’s so good. The people at Eschaton Media put out amazing work. As always, the world is the property of Eschaton Media. The characters are the creations of myself and a few other players. This is a Jeanie story.

**********

The iron stared down into the dented metal mug by the light of her glow. The water inside it was about as still as the calloused and heavily blistered hands of the iron who held it, very different from the thoughts rushing through her head.

It was over.

No more screams. No more gunfire. No more explosions from being shelled. No more cries and moans of the injured and dying. No more harsh orders and strainist comments from the enemy as they tried to demoralize and hurt the Iron.

Just quiet.

The quiet made every thought a scream.

She wasn’t supposed to survive the war. That’s why Jeanie had volunteered to go with the Life Guard. The chance of death in battle seemed high. Her fear. Her frustration. Her feeling of constant dread and hurt. It would all go away. It would be over. It was supposed to be over now.

But it wasn’t.

A rustle of branches. Jeanie jumped and scanned the forest behind her. Her eyes noticed… nothing. Just the wind.

The iron sighed and took of sip of the water in her cup. She scrunched her face for a moment and slid her tongue across her teeth. This was definitely not the high quality hooch that was served at the Dunwich.

“Fuck, I need a drink.”

The Dunwich. Charles. Fuck.

She had sent him a letter letting him know to not expect her to come home. She wasn’t supposed to survive. How would he handle watching Jeanie walk back into the bar? Would he be angry? No. More hurt. Scared maybe. Was it possible for the Ascensor to feel heart broken? Did he love Jeanie enough to feel that way over her most recent attempt to join the grave?

Jeanie let her right hand slip off the mug and traced the triple X hedon logo tattooed to her wrist. She scratched the dried blood off her wrist til the three purple Xs could be seen clearly. Would Charles even understand?

The iron kept scratching off the blood that had dried on her skin. She winced in pain as she accidently scatched where a blister had opened. After a moment’s pause, she kept going. A black 25 tattooed next to the hedon logo was the next visible piece.

A slave brand.

She didn’t need that anymore. They won the war. Bay Towne declared freedom in the Mass.

The Iron ran her fingers through the matted and blood stained hair before shaking her hand to let the chunks of her that her fingers pulled up fall to the ground.

Charles would love that. And the knowledge that she could go freely as she wished without slavers going after her in the Mass was a nice change from the rest of her life.

But Jeanie spent so long fighting… and failing… to be free…

What would she do now?

The iron scratched at her forehead and grimaced as she felt her fingers tear open a blister.

She needed to get herself back to the Dunwich and get a drink. Hell, she needed a lot more than a drink.

Quarantine

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Unlike most stories that I write, which take place just after or just before an event, this is a retelling of one of the moments from this past Dystopia Rising event. Dear goodness, this stuff was good.

**********

When they go to repair the morgue, all the Psions are going to be quarantined to the bar and away from the morgue. You’re considered a Psion for this. If any Psion leaves, it is going to be considered endangering the town and they will be executed.

The bar was nearly empty. Most everyone was by the morgue or in triage. Both places the unborn pharmacist were not allowed near at the moment. Despite the fact that she could stop people from dying, if that’s what they wanted. She could be a first step before they went to doctors for their injury, a quick fix to keep them alive until the doctors could get to them. She could help, if only they would let her.

There were about ten people total in the bar. The young half breed doctor. The dragon. The new female bar tender. The bone hat bar owner. The blue ridges. A few others.

There was a scream echoing from the skinless skeleton creature that entered the doorway. She grabbed her head from the pain of the scream.

“BONEHEADS” someone shouted as one or two launched themselves after the undead visitor.

Another scream.

“If they keep coming, we may have to spray down the door.” The bone hat walked with authority across the room. “It has to be a last resort. It’ll hurt She if we do.” He pointed with his gun towards her as she backed into a corner away from the newest Bonehead entering the room. “Someone protect She.”

There was another scream.

Her knees gave out from under her as she collapsed to the floor in a moment of agonizing pain. Her head hit the ground.

Peace.

A deep breath and her body relaxed. She could feel them, the ancestors. Reaching out. Brushing against her fingertips. They were ready for her. A euphoric calm washed over her body. Everything was going to be alright.

“She? Can you hear me? Say something?” a voice cut through, disrupting the peace and calm.

She closed her eyes and shifted. No need to worry about the gunfire and screams. No need to worry about the frantic running of feet across the bar room floor. Focus on the peace.

“She? Talk to me. Tell me if you can feel this.”

Why wouldn’t that voice go away? Leave her be. Let her go to her true family. She wasn’t suffering, go to someone who was.

The euphoria began to fade. The sounds of the running feet and the weapons hitting hard against the bone of their attackers became louder. The voice became clearer.

“She are you okay? Stay with me.”

She sat up. The half breed doctor had been kneeling next to her.

Something was wrong. The room was… different.

“She,” someone called out, “Get away from the door.”

Then it hit her.

The smell.

It emanated through the room from the door to the building. It caught in her throat. She gagged and hurriedly made her way to the bar, opposite from the doorway. She had to get as far away from that smell as She could. Oh God, it wouldn’t go away.

The Unborn glanced around the room. Everyone was walking as if it were all fine. Most everyone had relaxed a bit knowing that they were safer. No one else seemed to notice that the room had such a putrid and unavoidable smell overpowering it.

They had sprayed the door.

The colonial came running through the door. Screaming for help. Who could save people? She stood on the stage screaming, trying to hand out supplies for people to bring to triage to help save lives.

The Unborn tried to make her way over. She gagged. She had to back up. She couldn’t get over there.

The colonial screamed again. “If you can save people, get over here now!”

The Unborn tried again. Struggling to get closer. Each step closer to the door and the smell got worse. Each step closer to the door was more difficult. She stopped and gagged again before backing up quickly. She tried calling to the colonial, getting her attention, but the colonial was focused and opening her mouth almost made the smell worse.

She had to get away.

The Unborn backed up again to the bar corner.

She had been told, the only way she could leave quarantine was if it had become too dangerous in the bar. They had tried to keep the bar safe, but in doing so, prevented her from leaving the bar even if it became dangerous.

They had succeeded in their quarantine.

The pharmacist could no longer go to help anyone. She could no longer try to show the town that she wanted to be a friend and not the enemy. She was under quarantine and confined to the corner of the bar, away from everyone.

Just like she had always been kept away from everyone on the caravan.

Maybe the town wasn’t that different from the caravan.

Quarantine the monster.

If something attacks, it’ll kill her while everyone else gets away.

The Unborn sat down on the bar stool of the empty bar and sighed.

Maybe the ancestors were right.

Do not use them to replace us, your true family.

They are not one of us.

What is Freedom?

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My goodness. If you haven’t checked out Dystopia Rising by the amazing people at Eschaton Media, you need to do so. This past weekend was a game and it was intense and wonderful and made the world amazing. Seriously guys, play this game.

**********

Jeanie glanced over at the new ink on her left forearm. It was one of two new pieces. Or maybe one new piece and one updated piece. The updated piece was on her shoulder. The bow of ship leaving a cloud of smoke. A number added to the bow of the ship A-825. The new piece was down on the forearm, in purple. The number 25 and the Hedon triple X figure.

Do you want to be free?

What kind of question is that? Of course.

Do you want to be free?

Yes.

She slowly slid her fingers over the new number and sighed. She had spent years fighting to remove the numbers that had been tattooed to her face back in Motor City. She had searched and fought and cried. Mickey had gotten ahold of the syringe that removed the numbers branded into her skin. She had cried in agony as she remembered the pain of having it placed on her cheek while Caleb had held her and the brew burned the ink out of her skin.

Only to have not only the old number returned but a new one.

And by her own choice.

You know how the Dock Workers ink their story into their skin? Well, Irons sort of do the same. We claim the ink in our skin as our story and wear it with pride. Only I haven’t. And I’m trying. I’m trying to be proud.

As much as she wanted to be proud, there was a certain hurt that came every time she got new ink and remembered the pain of getting her first tattoo. There was a certain pain in the knowledge that she was once again marked as property of someone else, as a slave. She was trying so hard to reclaim pride in her life and in what she had lived.

It still hurt.

Hey Jeanie. Have you torn up your papers yet?

No. Why would I?

Slavery is illegal now. You’re free.

Her papers were still in Charles’ pocket. She had not torn them up yet. He had asked, but for some reason, she wasn’t ready. It wasn’t the right time yet. And despite numerous members of the town reassuring her that she was now free, she didn’t feel free.

She never had.

Remember the first question you asked me?

Yeah.

Well, I’ve never felt free. And every time someone reminds me that I’m an Iron or comments on my glow, I don’t feel free. And I’m trying, but honestly, it’s hard.

Jeanie sighed and stared down at the empty glass in front of her.

Would she ever feel free?

“Yo, asshole,” she shouted to the red headed rover chatting at the other end of the bar before waving a 5 chuck lager at him. “I want another.”

Withdrawal

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Dystopia Rising piece about Jeanie. You know the drill. The world is by the awesome folks at Eschaton Media (go explore all of their work. Seriously, just go do it.) And the characters are characters created by other players in the LARP and used with their permission (or it’s me quoting actual interactions we had while in play).

**********

Glowing red hands were tightly gripping the large mug of steaming hot tea. The retorgrade had warned her that it would be hot, but she didn’t care. Very calloused fingers desperate for warmth didn’t care that the mug was hot. It’s not like she’d burn her hands. The forge didn’t and that was hotter.

Jeanie sipped at the hot tea, trying to stop the shaking. She was certain it was from the cold. It had to be from the cold. It wasn’t unreasonable to think otherwise.

Got an itch you can’t scratch?

Jeanie dropped her forehead onto the counter and squeezed the mug tighter.

Years of addiction don’t go away with one conversation.

The iron sighed and bounced her forehead against the counter of the bar. It was difficult without the needles. Without the milk ensuring that she was calm and able to think. Without the salvation giving her comfort from the overwhelming stress caused by the Hansfields and the lack of Charles.

Fuck where was Charles? He hadn’t been seen since Pequod Port. He was her owner. He had the contract. But without him and the contract, his protection meant nothing. Did he even care? Would he ever come back? After Caleb died, he’s one of the few who still understood. Was this the time that his business would keep him away for good?

Charles is an Ascensorite. He’s not capable of loving. He just has those that are his and fuck anyone who messes with his things. It’s not love. It’s pretending to love things he’s decided to own.

Jeanie sat up and shook her head. No. Jak was wrong. Had to be wrong. Charles was like her. Emotions too strong to handle. Easier to control them with drugs. Stop feeling and then you know how to function again. That’s why he hadn’t stopped her from using until she went crying to him in Pequod. Right?

The iron scratched at her right fore arm.

The only reason he cares for you is because you’re his and he cares for what he owns.

“No,” she muttered under her breath before guzzling a large amount of the still scalding hot tea. “No, I won’t give in. I won’t do this. I’m gonna stay sober. I have to.”

The iron shuddered.

“I gotta find someone to talk to.”

“I hate withdrawal.”

Rock Bottom

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It’s a Dystopia Rising story about Jeanie! Like normal, the world of Dystopia Rising is from the amazing people at Eschaton Media. Outside of Jeanie, the characters are from the amazing players who play them. Seriously, if you haven’t checked this stuff out yet, you should.

CONTENT WARNING!

Drug addiction and Withdrawal

If, for your own reasons, you are not comfortable reading about someone going through some serious withdrawal, you might not want to read this one.

**********

The iron collapsed to her knees and wretched. Her body shook while trying to violently remove the contents of her empty stomach. Tears formed in her eyes as her body shook and finally dropped to her side. Jeanie blinked away the tears and looked around the remains of the hidey hole she used to share with Caleb. If she couldn’t get into the Grove, this was the safest place to be, especially with Charles and many others gone. The woods around the Grove were very dangerous and it’s the harvest. Now is not the time to be alone, especially when one is struggling to stand from the pain of craving.

Craving.

Those were most of her thoughts right now. The needle. The high as the drugs coursed through her veins. The resulting lack of feeling as everything turned to logic and the world became easy to deal with.

You enslave an iron with milk and they still smile as the high courses through them. You don’t even smile. You stop feeling. You don’t enjoy it. You hide in it.

Jeanie reached for the bottle of water at the side of the mattress. She rinsed her mouth as Jak’s words echoed in her head.

I don’t know when. I don’t know how. But somewhere along the line you gave up. You decided you weren’t worthy of freedom. You stopped trying.

Jeanie shook and glanced down at the healing marks on her right forearm. Faded bruises and pinprick holes were scattered along the skin.

The only master you have is the brew inside that needle. The craving is the order. The withdrawal is the punishment. The high is the reward…

She closed her eyes and scratched at her forearm, wishing for Caleb, for Charles and his bottle, for any way to make this punishment go away.

Punishment for refusing to feel. Punishment for not letting Caleb or Charles help when they had offered. Punishment for hiding her addictions from her mate and for spending every chuck she had over the past few months on getting high. Punishment for being weak and stagnant.

You say you’re a Darwin, evolving and pushing forward. If you’re going to let this drug rule you, if you’re going to refuse to get any better than this, then you should really rethink whether or not you belong in your faith.

Jeanie sighed and stared up at the ceiling. Delta and the others were right. Evolution was more that just exposure to radiation. Exposure was important but it was never the only part of the path. An individual needed to make a cognizant effort to change. Isn’t that what she taught every time she used her faith to heal someone?

You want to know what I think? I think that you never got the help you needed. You’ve been struggling along all on your own and you never got the support or teaching you needed to understand what you needed and somewhere along the line you decided you were unworthy of getting help.

She sighed and thought back to all the moments that had made her feel like no one would ever be there to help her. She remembered trying to calm down and being told that she wasn’t calming down quickly enough. She remembered being told she was free now and needed to stop acting like she didn’t get it. She remembered not being fed during the famine. She remembered being yelled at for having died. She remembered being yelled at for the radiation making her ability to fight difficult, even though she was just a crafter. She thought about her adoptive parents disappearing. She thought about the organizations she would join and how they always disbanded. Even the Dock Workers Union barely had a presence here in the Mass.

Jak was right. She had been on her own and struggling to make sense of it all since the beginning. There was no growth. There was just stagnation because she had never learned how to get past the struggles she had learned from the assembly line in Motor City.

What was the one thing that Jeanie struggled with the most?

I could break you. I could get all loud voiced and watch you cower as you follow every command I give you.

The only master you have is the brew inside that needle…

Jeanie scratched at her healing right forearm. She groaned, rolled over, and gripped her stomach, once again attempting to push the cravings out of her mind.

The biggest struggle was that Jeanie couldn’t disobey an order. When Charles and the Hansfield family ordered she follow for evaluation, she did. When she got back to Hayven after being kidnapped and branded by the Confeds, she obeyed everything that Commander Dantes had ordered. When Jak had harshly gotten angry in a discussion they had, her eyes dropped and she immediately waited for the order that needed to be obeyed. Hell, for the past four years or so, she had given in to almost every drug craving she ever had.

Jeanie glanced down at the healing marks on her arm, the results of her years of addiction.

The only master you have is the brew inside that needle…

Jeanie shook her head. No more more. Mickey had marked her left arm with he phrase “no masters.” But she had yet to reach a point where she had no masters. The drugs had controlled her for years, but no more. No more would she obey the order given with every craving. No more would she follow the order to jam a syringe into her veins.

Dock workers marked their story on their skin with ink. Irons would do the same as a way of reclaiming the hurt of their strain being forced into their skin with ink.

Jeanie would do the same.

She would add this part of her story to her right forearm. She would mark the site of all her healing track marks and tell the world that these drugs were no longer her master.

She would refuse their orders from here on out.

Debt

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Woot! New Dystopia Rising piece. As always, this main character is my own. The other characters mentioned are the property of their respective players. The world the story takes place in is the property and creative genius of Eschaton Media (Seriously, go check them out).

**********

A shiny new fucking workbench.

It was currently set up next to the Dunwich, but all the way in the back where the grassy quiet spot is. Out of the building so no one risks a case of black lung.

But, where it was set up, didn’t change the fact that the Hansfield family gave her a shiny new fucking workbench.

Hey, we’re here with the Hansfield Family and we were just looking to see what kinds of things people in the town need. We do try to encourage trade in this area and we feel supporting the town will help support that trade.

Ummm… Pretty sure the town needs a workbench. I literally don’t know anyone who has one right now.

A workbench? Alright, and who might you be?

Ummm… Jeanie.

She hadn’t asked for a bench for herself. But it was delivered to her. With her name on it. From the fucking Hansfield Family.

Jeanie plopped onto the ground and stared up at the bench. It was well built and good quality (of course it was, idiot, the Hansfield’s are not fucking stupid). And of course, that would also be part of what came back to haunt her.

Jeanie groaned and grabbed her stomach, she took a forced breath through clenched teeth before sitting up strait again. The Hansfield family didn’t give anything for free, especially to someone whom they saw as property. She would end up owing them. The question was, what and how much. Would they even tell her what they felt her debt was?

How could she pay back a debt that she didn’t even know about?

Jeanie groaned again and doubled over to take another deep breath. The worst part about this was the amount of stress it was giving her as she tried to figure out what was going on. She had even tried asking Jak if he had something to help relieve her stress, a syringe of the drug proven to calm her down. He was willing to offer what he had for money… or a deal.

Fuck deals.

Jeanie rubbed at her forehead. As much as she needed the milk, she was not willing to make another deal to get it. Not when getting into an unknown deal is what fucked her over in the first place.

For the first time, the Iron was actually glad her mate was dead. He wouldn’t get upset with her for this now.

But on the other hand, what about Charles? He was her legal owner. Were the Hansfield’s the type of people who would target an owner if they felt the slave was out of line? Would Charles be held responsible for this debt? Or would it fall squarely on her? And what did it all mean?

She grabbed her head again before jumping up and brushing herself off.

She was gonna go into the bar and scrub some of the dishes. Jak would probably give her a drink or two for helping with that and it would at least lessen the need a bit.

When Charles got back, she was going to have a long chat with him about this mess and what it meant.

Hopefully, he would be able to help her figure it all out.