Freedom is a Gift

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Dystopia Rising just had some AMAZING massive national level plot. They had realized there were some problematic elements in their story/world. They were working on rewriting and updating it and built that into plot rather than ending everything and starting over (which I personally love) and one of those stories that came out of these massive world updates involved the entire world working together to overthrow slavery. It’s been fantastic. Part of this included the entire plot line of their yearly springtime national event Uprise. For those of us who stayed at home, we got to be involved in some fantastic plots that could effect those playing at the event, such as volunteering our characters to go fight on the front lines and take injuries and deaths to help make it easier on the players at the event. I had my Unborn participate. This is her story.

**********

The Unborn knelt down and very slowly scooped the dirt into her hands while looking up across the field. The Vee-Dubs were leading the charge with their motorized caravans. There was a huge crowd of people gathered from various settlements. All of them here for the same reason, to take down the Iron Works. The world was finally starting to understand that treating people as less than equal to everyone else is completely and utterly wrong. The ancestors gave everyone the infection. The ancestors invited everyone into the great whole. The ancestors chose to make everyone equal. The ancestors gave everyone the gift of freedom. And these people here at the Iron Works decided to try and other the red workers and treat them as lesser.

Anyxa brushed the dirt onto her hands and stood. The words of the not dead one, the town called him Spooky Jak, echoed in her mind. The call to arms. We had this fight of our own, but it was time for the rest of the wastes to fight too. The teeth, the one they called Jackal, was going as well. Together they were gathering town folk to fight. Anyxa chose to go with them.

She stood slowly, green skin, soot smears, and eyes blaring. She grinned with wicked glee.

The group was quiet. There was tension in the air as everyone looked across the field. The Iron Works soldiers were staring them down. On the other side of the field was a large stash of missiles. That was the goal. Get the missiles for the resistance. Use them to fire on the enemy so that when everyone else went in to fight, there were less troops and tanks to hurt them. The more we could get out now, the better the chance in the long run.

The wastes went silent for a moment.

Then there was a large scream.

Two worlds ran towards each other. The Vee-Dubs engines roaring. Anyxa cackled and flung her hands out to her sides, feeling the burning heat fill her fingertips. Explosions rang out. Dirt flying up with the smoke and clouding vision. Gunshots peppered the air.

Anyxa screamed and threw her hand forward, pushing the fire from her hands into the nearest Iron Works soldier. “Freedom is a gift from the Ancestors, you fucker!” Anyxa slammed her fist into his shoulder. She may not have been good at punching, but she felt the power flow through her fist. The soldier stared up at her in terror and screamed as he curled onto the ground to protect his face from the visions that she placed in his heads. The Unborn giggled as she threw more and more fire at him.

There was a screaming whistle and then an explosion. Anyxa felt her body get thrown backwards. She felt the familiar burning just like Devil’s Rest and looked down to see the edge of her sleeves singed and burning. She saw the familiar twisted black flesh of burnt skin on her arms. Anyxa screamed in delight. She closed her eyes and breathed in the fire burning around her.

God, she loved fire.

She could thank the Hansfields for that.

She screamed in delight and looked around for the nearest soldier to go after.

“She!” Brother Claudio screamed,” Behind you!”

The Unborn spun around in time to watch the soldier’s blade stab into her gut. He screamed and yanked the blade out before stabbing again into her chest as she fell. She landed on her side. From the corner of her eyes she watched Brother Claudio fall. She closed her eyes as the world became peaceful.

She felt joy.

She felt ecstatic.

She felt the ancestors reaching for her.

She felt the cold steal slice through her neck and the world went cold.

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The test

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This is me attempting to rewrite a scene that happened at this past Dystopia Rising game. I don’t usually rewrite scenes from the game because I never remember them well enough to do them justice. They’re never exactly like they were in game and that kind of bugs me. However, this scene was extremely important to Jeanie’s character growth and it was a very big, exciting deal for me, so I wanted to share it. The other characters are creations of the players who played them (and were written here to the best of my ability as they were played out in the scene) and the world is from the amazing people at Eschaton Media.

**********

“Hey Jeanie! Delta’s here!”

Jeanie felt her breath catch in her throat. Delta. The Ascensor who had killed Caleb. Delta. The one who promised to be around so he could help her evolve. Delta. The one who disappeared for almost two years rather than keep his promise.

The Ascensor towered over her, his weapon dripping with blood. Tears streamed down her face as she held her dying mate in her arms.

“Evolution is supposed to hurt. Say your goodbyes.”

The Iron’s face felt red with anger. What could she even say to him that would make up for how far she fell when he refused to show back up and help, like he promised he would? What could make up for falling into so deep a personal hell that her struggles were colored by the drugs she shot into her arm, the desperate need for death, the deep struggle with even knowing how to get through to the next morning? Jeanie fought to focus on Spooky’s voice as he spoke of Richard Corey’s newest mechanical mess. She struggled to keep from turning and slamming her fists into the face of the smiling Darwin who didn’t quite realize how badly he’d hurt her.

It wasn’t long before her barely contained rage turned and starting spewing out on the young Ascensor.

“You left me! You promised to be back in a few weeks and you left me. It’s been almost two years now! Two years! You said you’d help me get through it. You promised. And you left me.”

“Yea…” he shrugged. “The seasons changed faster than I thought. I got caught up with the Hansfields that winter.”

“That winter? It was the last snowfall! The Hansfields had already left for the summer! They weren’t a threat in that moment!”

“I really was with them for awhile. They don’t really let people leave.”

“No, really?” Jeanie screamed at him. “You left and spent time with them. Meanwhile, I ended up far worse than I’ve ever lived.”

“So, what happened then?”

“Let’s see. I was more of a drug addict than ever before. I wanted to die and even tried to make it happen. Months of my life just lost to drugs and hating everything.”

“Okay, and did you grow?”

“I mean, I’m clean and sober. I don’t want to die anymore.”

“So then, I did keep my promise!” He grinned happily.

“Oh? And just how did you do that considering you left me!”

“I promised that I wouldn’t let you use me as a crutch.”

Jeanie rolled her eyes and glared at him.

“How about this,” Delta began, “How about we go find a place to see and we talk to a few people about how much you’ve grown since then.”

The two found their way over to a table in the bar and sat down. They called over a few people who have known Jeanie long enough to honestly answer how she’d been doing. Jeanie sat quietly listening to everyone tell Delta how she’d been doing, quietly listening as her anger slowly turned to embarrassment over the deep prying into her life.

“Jeanie can function by herself now,” Tri said quietly.

“I’m her therapist. She asked me for help and has been working very hard at learning how to manage her emotions and become her own person,” Nell explained carefully to Delta.

“I wouldn’t let her baptise me til she could stand on her own. I’ve watched her become her own person, with her own aspirations and dreams,” Spooky shared.

Victor came over and shared how Jeanie used to be bitter and now can attempt to do things. Bloo shouted loudly that Jeanie had grown into a better person.

“Okay Jeanie. Everyone’s saying you’re doing really well now. So, now, you have two options to choose from.” Delta started excitedly looking into the box he held. He opened and closed it a few times before looking over to the quiet iron. “You can choose to believe in your faith and trust in evolution. You can grow and learn. Or you can give in to everything and I’ll keep you happy for the rest of your life.”

Jeanie cocked her head confused. “I don’t understand. Can you explain it again?”

Delta’s eyes narrowed with a mischievous grin. He opened the box and pulled out a needle that he carefully placed on the table before Jeanie. “You have a choice.”

“What is it?” Jeanie quietly asked as she felt every muscle in her body tense up. She felt the itch that she’d fought to control return. The desperate want for the peace and calm that comes with shooting drugs into her arm. Delta placed another needle on the table.

And another.

“May I?” Spooky asked as he reached for a needle. He carefully sniffed at the needle, at the milky white liquid inside the needle, before quietly confirming her suspicions.

“It’s mother’s milk Jeanie. They’re all mother’s milk. Really good ones too.”

One by one, Delta kept placing needles on the table. All filled with swirling white liquid.

“Do you want it Jeanie?”

“No.” Jeanie’s voice was quiet.

“Are you sure?” Delta’s grin looked maniacal.

“I mean, yes, I crave it. But I’m not going to do this. I don’t like what I’m like on that and I fought really hard to get sober.”

“Why don’t you want it?”

“It makes me go numb. Lose all feeling but the need to get high. It’s not worth it.”

“Go ahead Jeanie. Hold one.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Hold one.”

“No.”

“Take one Jeanie!”

“Fine!” Jeanie grabbed one of the syringes and held it in her shaking hand.

“If you want it, just use it. Go ahead.”

“No. I’m not going to.”

“Prove it.”

Jeanie shifted her left arm so that everyone could see the needle and banner inked into her forearm over all the scarred track marks from shooting up without care. “I worked hard to stop. I got this tattoo after being clean for a year. I am not putting any more needles into my skin.”

“Are you sure?”

Jeanie threw the needle back onto the table. Her body was shaking. Her voice was unsteady. “I’m not doing it. I don’t know what you want from me. But I’m not taking one of those needles. I’m not shooting up. I don’t want it.” She pushed some of the needles away.

Delta turned to the others at the table. Nell and Spooky both sat watching quietly as Jeanie shook and fought to hold back tears. “Is she telling the truth?”

“I’ve seen her dealer put needles in her hand and she’s refused them. If she was going to shoot up, she would have already done it,” Nell answered quietly as she turned to give Jeanie an encouraging smile.

“I wouldn’t let her baptize me til she was good and sober. She’s serious,” Spooky reaffirmed.

“Good!” Delta sat up and grinned and then slid the box over to Jeanie. “So then, trust in your faith.”

Jeanie nodded. “Okay.”

Delta nodded towards the box. “Open it!”

Jeanie shrugged. Carefully, and without hesitation, Jeanie pulled the lid off the top of the box. A puff of smoke. A familiar gust of heat followed by a massive bout of nausea and the pain of feeling your body burn and melt away. Radiation. A lot of it. Jeanie keeled over on the table grimacing as her body struggled to breathe. She could hear everyone in the bar screaming around her.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Delta lean over and begin to whisper to her.

“They’re in reach Jeanie.  Just take one. It’s right there.”

Jeanie shook.

“You can save yourself. They’re right there.” Delta’s voice was sinister as he reminded her of all the needles on the table. All she had to do was move her hand a few more inches and she’d have the drug that could both save her and destroy her right now.

Jeanie pulled her hand into a fist and dragged her empty fist closer to her chest. She could hear Delta telling every doctor who came over to fix Jeanie that he would take care of her. Her chest was pounding. Her stomach had tightened into knots of intense pain. The world was starting to darken around her. She knew this feeling.

She was dying.

“Fine, if you’re not going to take one, then trust in your faith. Lean on your faith. You’re never going to stop wanting this. You’re never going to stop struggling with what you’ve been through. Stop trying to get rid of that. Stop ignoring it. Lean on your faith when you’re struggling. Gain strength from it and evolve. Choose evolution.”

She felt the familiar warmth of the green glow settling over her and slowly leaving as her heart beat returned to normal, her stomach settled down, her head stopped spinning and her vision cleared up.

Jeanie slowly sat up and took a deep breath. She took a moment to steady her thoughts by looking over the lead box she’d opened in detail.

A few slightly curious and annoyed town members surrounded the table seeking answers about what had just happened.

“You’re a priest Jeanie. You tell them. Tell them what just happened. Tell them why it was a lesson you desperately needed to learn. Tell them how you’ve evolved.” Delta began gathering his things.

Jeanie nodded and turned to those who were around. “I’m a priest of Darwin. We believe in getting stronger and improving our lives. Only, for the longest time, that was really difficult for me. I was hooked on drugs. I couldn’t get past being an Iron Slave and how I grew up. I’ve spent the past year fighting hard to grow from that. I’ve spent the past year trying to overcome that but still hating everything about my life and how I’ve struggled. He was teaching me. Helping me grow and learn. He was showing me that even though I’ll still struggle, I don’t have to hate that. I can learn from it and grow.” Jeanie paused a moment.

She glanced over to find that Delta had left.

Gain strength from it and evolve. Choose evolution.

Slowly, it dawned on her the depth of the test he’d just given her. Slowly, she realized what lesson he’d started to bestow upon her.

Jeanie knelt in the blood stained snow, tears falling upon Caleb’s tattooed face. She brushed his hair off his sweat covered brow as he gripped her free hand tightly in his paw. With his last breath, he whispered “Be the bird I know you’re meant to become.”

Jeanie turned back to the small crowd around her. “He’s teaching me how to evolve.”

Minority

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Another  Dystopia Rising story from another Dystopia Rising game. It stars my Unborn. The song she is singing is “Minority” by Green Day.

**********

“I wanna be the minority. I don’t need your authority”

The Unborn sang, gathering pieces of kindling from the ground. She held the edge of her brown wool coat in one hand to build a basket and slipped the driest twigs she pulled from the ground into the basket.

“Down with the moral majority, ‘cause I wanna be the minority.”

She brought the small pile that she had gathered over to the small ring of rocks and began to pile them up carefully in the middle of the ring. Keep them loose to allow for lots of air flow. Make sure there is plenty of kindling in the center, under the pile of sticks branches, but plenty left over to build up around it. This way the flames will lick the branches and build the bonfire.

“I pledge allegiance, to the underworld. One nation under dog, there of which I stand alone.”

Off to the side there was a pile of sticks and branches thrown to the ground. The Unborn made her way over to the pile and began grabbing some of the smaller branches. These branches would be built up around the kindling pile. They would burn longer when caught and help the larger branches to catch and stay caught rather than the fast burning kindling.

“A face in the crowd, unsung against the mold.”

The Unborn smiled as she sang and worked. She carefully piled the sticks and small branches around the kindling. She carefully stuffed excess kindling between the sticks. All the while building up the pile and continuing to sing and smile, her body swaying slightly in time to her song.

“Without a doubt, singled out,the only way I know.”

Back to the pile of branches she had gathered. She gathered the rest of the larger branches and began to stack them on the outside of her current small structure of sticks and kindling. She smiled as she put each stick down, carefully circling these sticks around the pile.

“Cause I wanna be the minority. I don’t need your authority.”

The Unborn placed the final branches into their spots with a smile. She glanced at the pile that she had created and nodded, carefully shifting the branches around til every one of them was placed exactly as she wanted. She grinned and lowered her face while keeping her gaze on the pile of sticks steady.

“Down with the moral majority, ‘cause I wanna be the minority.”

She dug into her pocket and pulled out the lighter. She grinned at her reflection in the side of the polished metal piece. Green skin, purple veins, black soot streaked across her face, gauze mask wrapped around her eyes.

“Stepped out of the line, like a sheep runs from the herd.”

The Unborn flicked the top of the lighter open with it’s familiar and reassuring click.

“Marching out of time, to my own beat now. The only way I know.”

She slid her thumb along the roller and watched a flames spark to life.

“One light, one mind, flashing in the dark.”

She held a small twig up to the flame and watched as it licked the twig and lit it to life.

“Blinded by the silence of a thousand broken hearts”

The Unborn flicked the lighter shut and slipped it back into the pocket of her jeans. She reached forward with the lit branch and slid it into the pile, into the collection of kindling. She let go of the branch and smiled, watching the flames dance from twig to twig and start to consume the pile.

“For crying out loud, she screamed unto me.”

The Unborn stood up and grinned at her creation. She swayed back and forth to the beat of the song and in time with the lyrics from her lips and closed her eyes beneath the gauze mask that she had worn for years due to the Fallow Hope caravan.

“A free for all, fuck ‘em all. You’re on your own side.”

She spun around and threw her hands out as she spun. The caravan would have scolded her for these actions. Dancing in the woods at night around a campfire would have led to her getting into a lot of trouble with Father Jacob. She smiled brightly as she spun around with glee.

“Cause I wanna be the minority. I don’t need your authority.”

The Unborn began singing as loud as she could, almost shouting out the lines in the light of the campfire.

“Down with the moral majority.”

She screamed out the lines as she yanked the mask off her head. No more mask. No more of Father Jacob’s orders or the caravan’s rules deciding how she acts years after being away from them and in a new town. No more of the past holding her hostage.

Now it’s time for the young Unborn to walk with her head held high, marching to her own drum.

The young Unborn screamed the last line of the song as she tossed the mask into the flame and watched it burn.

“Cause I wanna be the minority.”

Burn

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New short story based on the events of last game. This one is from the perspective of She. As always, the main character is my own. The other characters mentioned in the scene are products of their own players. Jackal is the creation of another player and was used with his permission and input. Let’s just say, I’m really excited for this upcoming game!

**********

“What’cha doin?” Jackal asked, his face popping up and blocking the light from the campfire that they had built together.

The Unborn looked up from her work and rolled her white and black eyes. “You’re in my light,” she muttered.

Jackal shifted over a small bit and poked at the leather vest in the Unborn’s hands. “But really, what’cha doin?”

The Unborn sighed and brushed Jackal’s hand away from the vest. She picked up the small surgical knife and went back to carefully cutting the threads that held the blue and white patches onto the back of the vest. “I’m cutting off these rockers.”

“Pretty sure those ain’t rocks.”

“Rockers. Patches. Same thing. I never asked why they were called it.”

Jackal licked his blood stained lips and watched for a moment as the Unborn continued. Slice through a few threads, pull up on the patch so that it was easier to slice through more threads. The more she cut, the faster she got at removing the triangular patch from the vest.

“Wait, does that mean you’re not in Warsong anymore?”

“Yup.”

“Why?”

The Unborn looked up and glanced over to the Semper. “Let’s just say, the final straw was being told they didn’t have time to deal with my coming back from the grave and the screaming pain in my head and hands.” The Unborn paused and looked at her palm. She remembered the burning sensation in her fingers before pausing to shake her hands and going back to snipping away the threads that held the patch in place.

“That sounds really shitty.”

The Unborn nodded her head. “Yup.”

“She?”

The Unborn paused with a groan and glared at the Semper. “Anyxa.”

“What?”

“Anyxa. My name is Anyxa. Not she. Anyxa.”

“Oh… Then why do people call you she?”

Anyxa groaned and put the surgical knife down in her lap. “Because I didn’t use names. I wanted to show respect to people. To acknowledge that the ancestors invited them to the great whole just like everyone else. But no, ass holes don’t give a flying fuck who or what they do and respect. It’s all hide your face. Don’t scare them with your power. Don’t be alone. Save people but don’t come near the dying. Help the town but be nowhere near the problem. Don’t be trusted because of the power you have and where you’re from.” Anyxa paused and ripped the last few threads with a sharp yank on the patch, separating it from the leather vest. “Be held at arms length even though we promise we’ll take care of you. Fucking liars.”

Jackal stared a moment, licking his lips and sniffing as he turned to look into the woods. A quiet “I’m hungry,” muttered from his lips and then he turned back to Anyxa with a  shrug. “Yeah, people can be dicks. But actually, I more wanted to know why you were talkin all normal now and not like you usually do.”

“Because these fuck heads,” Anyxa glared at the patch in her hands, “don’t seem to care about respecting me so why would I respect them?”

“Oh yeah. I guess that makes sense.”

Anyxa pulled a square lighter from her pocket and grinned. She could see Jackal’s eyes light up in the glow of the campfire. She flicked open the top and with a swipe of her thumb, pulled a flame to the top of the lighter.

“If you don’t have time for me,” she muttered holding the patch over the flame so the flame could lick and taste it before beginning to consume the fabric and paint, “then I don’t have time for you, mother fuckers.”

Jackal grinned. “What’cha gonna do now? Hunt ‘em down? Can I come?” He balled his fists up and pulled them back, bouncing and ready to go.

Anyxa tossed the burning patch into the campfire.

“I’m gonna watch the world burn!”

Stop Me

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This is one of the moments from the most recent DR event. It was a really intense event, which is why it needed me to write up what happened in it as opposed to a between the gathers moment. As always, Jeanie is my own character and the others are from the players who created them. I’m just writing down what happened in this scene as best as I can remember it

**********

Just a few minutes ago, the iron had been laughing and making obscene gestures at Father Ezra and his posse. His statements of necessary discipline had been a laughable joke. He was insane. He was wrong.

But he still had power.

Power to command an army. Power to mess with the head of an Iron Engineer. Power to get an Iron who lividly hated everything the Hansfield’s stood for to stand at attention, between him and her town, her Curie, her friends, ready to take a bullet for this awful man.

“We’ll see who has power when your organs become my lunch,” a full dead hissed through clenched teeth.

Jeanie felt her body glance over to Zero, standing at Father Ezra’s right side, and back to the Full Dead. She gripped her knucks tighter, ready to punch the Full Dead and send him flying across the room. Stop it! Let me go you fuck head! The Iron’s eyes narrowed and glanced at the rest of the crowd. The Curie leaned back with his arms crossed. Not a current threat. The Full Dead kept leaning in with his arms gripping the table edge. A threat, but closer to Zero. Nell was walking to the back of the group. Jeanie watched as her body moved on it’s own, shifted to make sure she could lunge between Father Ezra and the Rover.

Nell! Help me! Please! Don’t make me do this

The Iron’s eyes darted back to the Curie who discussed with Father Ezra’s broken and bloodied body. Everyone had something to say. Everyone was angry and harsh. The Curie was the only one who chose his words carefully. The only one who was paying attention.

“Did anyone notice how while we were discussing, the Irons were planning with each other on how to save him?”

Yes! Thank you! Now, please stop me! I don’t want to defend him.

“I think I want to go outside,” Father Ezra calmly stated, knowing that his men were circling around to the back of the building.

Jeanie watched, horrified as her hand darted out and placed it self on Father Ezra’s body. She felt the surge of power gathering. She felt the warmth as the radiation shot out of her hand and into his body, knitting every piece of him back to perfect health. No! Savannah would be right to shoot me down for this! To call down the power of faith into a man who was her enemy. But she couldn’t stop herself. She couldn’t even get her mouth to form the words she wanted to say.

The Hansfield soldiers burst through the door and grabbed Father Ezra. Zero hurried after them. Please no. I don’t want to go with him. Jeanie’s body turned and began to hobble after the Father, her left and useless leg dragging with each struggled step. Please Spooky. Someone. Please stop me. Help.

They hurried after, focused on Father Ezra and not the Iron who was unable to stop her body from moving forward, unable to stop herself from protecting him. Somebody! Help me! Please help! Her lips never moved. Jeanie’s grip on her knucks tightened.

“She’s a priest!” Someone noticed Jeanie protecting the man she hated. She felt her head turn to glare at the Natural One who said it, right as the flat edge of his sword slammed into her arm, shattering the bone. Hummingbird swung again shattering the bone of her other arm. “She can’t heal him now.” Thank you. Now Stop me from following him. “Take him to a cabin where no one is around,” Hummingbird continued, “Get information out of him.” Jeanie’s body turned to follow, dragging her messed up leg behind her. Hummingbird? Finish stopping me? Please?

Mitch carried Father Ezra. Hummingbird, Cash, and Jeanie hobbling along beside them with a few others tagging along. Into a small cabin. Father Ezra placed to sit on a bed. Mitch on the floor. Cash off to the side. And Hummingbird, up close with weapon in hand. Jeanie feeling herself constantly shift to get in Hummingbird’s way, protecting Father Ezra with her life.

Hummingbird stepped in close. Placed his hand upon her shattered arm. Put pressure on it. Jeanie grimaced loudly, trying to remain standing on her one good leg.

“Jeanie, dear, look at how your so called friends are hurting you,” Father Ezra exclaimed. “Why are you hurting her? Why are you causing more pain after you already shattered her arms?”

Hummingbird looked at Jeanie and then back at Father Ezra. Please just stop. Get me out of here. “What? How am I hurting her?” Hummingbird smiled wickedly as he pushed down on her arm again.

It felt like hours of watching her body move and speak without her control. Hours of defending a man or sitting with a man who sought to treat her like property because it was how he showed love to his children. Hours of watching as Mitch and Cash tried to remind Father Ezra of how much he was hurting her and had hurt her already. Hours of desperately trying and failing to take enough control of her body that she could beg for help.

Hours before Ruse, of all people, asked why no one had taken her down yet to set her free. The asshole who she hated for not respecting her when it came to her engineering, he was the one who reminded everyone how to free her from Father Ezra’s control. He was the one who reminded Hummingbird to swing his sword over and over, cutting into her body as she tried to protect Father Ezra, before she finally collapsed in a broken heap on the floor.

Someone immediately came over and began to patch her wounds up just enough to keep her from dying. She grimaced and grunted, finally able to answer for herself once again.

And Del wondered why she was so angry when she sat down at her meeting a few minutes later.

An Act of Faith

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Dystopia Rising had a bunch of events this past weekend. I was at one and holy crow was it good. I should be sleeping, but I can’t sleep so I wrote a story based on the weekend. If you haven’t checked out this game, you really really should. The story is based on events that happened to my character, Jeanie. The other characters are products of their players. The world is from the amazing brains at Eschaton Media.

**********

“Updated symptoms,” Jeanie muttered under her breath as she wrote her notes down in her science journal, “Skin has finished healing in both sites. Infection pushed the staples out of the stomach. Tress helped remove the last of the sutures from the chest.”

Jeanie paused and ran her fingers across the y shaped scar on her chest. She had known the experiment that she was helping out with would be dangerous. The theory was sound and had quite a bit of knowledge to back it up. Surround the irradiated tank heart with living infection to increase it’s life span. Increase the life of the tank heart to ensure greater chance it gets used to give people their second chance.

The scar on her chest was a strong reminder of how dangerous the experiment really was. She had a second heart in her abdomen, not attached to anything. Beating at it’s own, slow, undead rhythm. She had zombie flesh slowly rotting inside her body with the hope that her body can keep it from rotting out completely.

She closed her eyes and dropped her forehead onto the table. Her left hand pushing into her stomach as a wave of pain flashed over her. She carefully took deep breaths and focused her breathing. She didn’t want to let either heart (or both) start beating too fast again. The graverobber, Sig, had gone back to Eden. If something went wrong, the only one who could fix it was Doctor Plaggue and he was often out with the hats.

The iron was on her own then.

She sat up and glanced down at her notebook before continuing her notes. “Periodic flashes of pain. Focusing on breathing seems to be keeping the hearts in sync with each other… or at least not beating too fast.”

Jeanie paused. Tress was a doctor or a sawbones? The irons should probably chat about that soon. Make sure they’re on the same page and regularly checking up on Jeanie’s health. Maybe get Nell for when Tress wasn’t in town. Either way, a doctor needs to be involved. After all, she was under orders not to die.

What would Nell think? Would she be annoyed? Appreciative? Understanding of the iron’s decision? Worried like Charles? Or would she understand like Ted that this was Jeanie trying to make a step forward, an act of faith.

Faith. The graverobber said there was a small chance of death. Jeanie may not know much about bodies but she was a scientist and understood the grave and the undead. The chance was much much higher than Sig would actually say. But, she had faith. Faith that she would survive this. She had no proof, but she was certain it would work. She would help usher medicine into a new age of science. She would help humanity evolve.

An act of faith.

What would Finch say? Would he agree? Would Savannah speak though him? Jeanie sighed. She would have to tell him. They would likely have a long conversation about it. Hopefully he would see that it wasn’t a suicidal choice but her actually trying to move forward in her faith and act on the very painful lesson he taught her at Devil’s Rest.

Jeanie shook her head and went back to her notebook. “Lethargy still present. Subject is staying in well populated areas to ensure regular rest and nutrition. Will have regular check ins with medical staff to look for symptoms not visible to non medics.”

Jeanie yawned and took a deep breath before closing the notebook and putting it away. She curled up on the couch and glanced across the room at the bar and to the red headed Rover who was wiping down some glasses.

“Wake me up if something happens,” she called out to him.

“Sure thing, kid.”

Jeanie closed her eyes and took another deep breath. She would get through this. It would succeed. She just knew it. She had faith it would work.

It had to work.

It would work.

Right?

Bonfire

0

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).

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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.”