Evolution

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This past Dystopia Rising game was emotionally tough for me. I don’t usually say it, but I tend to use the stories as a way of processing everything that’s happened on a weekend. So, when I have some very tough weekends, these are super helpful to me. So yeah…

Note – There are some topics here that can absolutely trigger some people, so be warned that there is self-harm described within the story.

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“What are those?” the Ascensor asked quietly, his head tilted to the side with confusion.

“Playing cards,” she answered as she shuffled them up again, “Mister Oddfellow gave them to me.”

“What do you do with them?” He shifted the spear in his paw.

“You play black jack.”

“How do you play?” He sat down across from the Iron and rested his spear against the back wall of the medical center. He smiled gently as the Iron dealt out the cards and started to teach him the simple game.

The flames flickered around the logs in the fireplace. Red and gold dancing back and forth. Violently. Mirroring the pain from the memories and images racing through the Iron’s mind. A large mug of hooch sat in her hands as she stared at the flames.

“Why do you like my glow so much?” She shifted her head from where it rest on his stomach so that she could look him in the eyes.

“I’m ascending. I’m losing my humanity. But your glow, it’s like a lantern. It keeps me grounded.”

She nodded and returned her head to his stomach and looked back up at the stars. “Your bells, I hear them and I know I’m safe.”

Someone scraped their chair across the floor on the other side of the room. The Iron slowly turned her head to look and see who it was. She saw a flash of blue tribal markings on their outfit. Someone from Warsong. No one important right now. She turned back to watching the flames.

“Jeanie,” the Curie muttered softly, “You don’t have to lose all emotions to evolve. You can grow and use them.”

“But what about Sliphox?”

“Talk to him. Tell him what you found in the Gravemind. Tell him you love him.”

Jeanie sighed and slowly put the mug down beside her. It was cold in the room. She slid her arms into the brown leather coat. For a moment, she paused and the tears welled up in her eyes. Caleb had helped her find this coat when her other one started getting too thin.

Gentle paws rested on each cheek and his forehead rested against hers, but she still couldn’t look him in the eye. “Jeanie, I will never leave you. I will always take care of you and protect you. You are my mate and I love you.”

She quickly brushed the tears from her eyes. It was over. It wasn’t worth crying when that would change nothing. As she lowered her hand, she noticed the scar, a rover promise that he made to protect her, faded. The lightest shade of pink. It could barely be seen.

“Of all people,” Delta scolded her, “you rely on an Ascensor of autumn, an Ascensor of Hedon, and a Pure Blood of Hedon? You should be relying on your faith. The ones you are relying on are holding you back.”

“You want to take her choice away?” Caleb asked, appalled. It looked as though he was going to launch himself over the table to hit Delta.

“I want her to evolve.”

“Jeanie,” the familiar gentle voice began. “What do you want?”

“I…” she stuttered, “I don’t know.”

“She won’t know. She needs a pivotal moment. So, you fight me to the death. Or, I will take her from this town until she evolves.”

“Jeanie,” he gently and painfully asked again, “do you want this?”

Delta had made it clear that her reliance on others was holding her back. She held on to way too many people. She quickly glanced around the room. Someone was passed out with their knife on the floor next to them. She grabbed the knife and slid the blade into the flames.

The Iron then opened her bag to all the letters she had saved up. She began separating them into two piles. Muttering about what was going on as she went. Notes on science, the grave, evolution, radiation, disease… Anything of pure fact went to the pile on the left. The rest, went on the right. When the piles were sorted, the notes and facts were carefully returned to her bag. The pile of letters was then pulled into her hands.

A letter from Nevada on the railroad? A letter from Glitter about traveling safely through the wastes. A letter from Dorito about the Underground Iron Horse. A letter from Dusty about the family of Dock Workers. An invitation to Shea’s wedding and a letter about missing her Iron daughter. A note from Yossarian about her improvements in reading and writing. A note from Jinx about finding the mother of No-Glow. A letter from Medic on taking care of a burn. Letters from Cadence about finding her inner strength. A letter from Jimmy about surviving the tank heart. A card from Rosemary, who never gave up. Two letters from Sal hoping to help them both get through the frustrations of their strain. A note from her niece, Honey Badjur. A letter from the sister that had raised her. A letter from Russell on the rover’s travels. A letter from Disco on growing in the faith.

A pile of letters, people who had reached out to the Iron to help her. A pile of paper in the hands of the Iron. A flick of her wrist and the entire pile was tossed into the flames. The dancing red and gold swallowing the paper and messages of love.

One last letter, written on a scrap of fabric and still faintly smelling of spices, the first letter that Caleb had ever sent her. She gripped it tightly in her hand. A deep breath pushed the tears away from her eyes and the fabric was also tossed to the flames.

The Iron slid the white hat from Medic off her head. A second later, she pulled the Juggalo hat from Bones out of her bag. Both were thrown into the flames.

Jeanie then slid her necklace off and began tearing pieces off the chain. Goodbye to the beads from Wave. Goodbye to the anchor from Dusty. Goodbye to the craftsman charm from her Sister. Anything that she held on to as a reminder of the past, tossed into the flames.

The added fuel made the flames dance brighter and faster. The knife sitting amongst them glowing red from the heat of the fire.

Jeanie stared at the beaten and bloodied form of her Ascensorite, her Caleb, as he struggled to breathe where he was curled up in the snow. The snow around hims was slowly growing a deeper and deeper red.

“Evolution is supposed to hurt. Lean on your faith and not people around you.”

She carefully rolled up her sleeve. A tattoo of dots upon her wrist. Red for promises made. Caleb. Cadence. Blue for those she had left behind. Her sister. Emily. Black for those the grave had taken from her. Medic. Caleb March. Cadence. Ethan. Green for those who had left the Iron behind. Yossarian. Disco. Agustus. Shea. Doctor Thomas. Mister Oddfellow. All people she relied on and continued to hold onto. People who were holding her back.

She jammed the heated knife into the tattoo and dug into the skin. There was a sizzle from her skin meeting the red hot blade and a bit of smoke started to snake it’s way into the air from the tattoo. She wriggled the knife through the dots destroying every piece of their existence, the heat of the blade cauterizing the wound and keeping blood from dripping to the floor.

She dropped the blade to the floor and grabbed the cup of hooch, dumping the remaining alcohol onto the wound before wrapping her wrist up in a bandage. She’d find a doctor for it later.

The iron grabbed her bag and stood up brushing any remaining tears from her eyes.

“Be the bird, I know you can become.”

“Jeanie died with Caleb,” she muttered, coldly, pushing aside any emotion or memories and locking them away. “Delta gave you a precipice to evolve from. You held on to everything. You held on to Caleb. You were stagnant, an Iron who couldn’t get over the past. That’s all gone now.”

“Only a bird of prey, a Raptor, remains.”

 

Scrap Ring

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It’s interesting writing Dystopia Rising pieces now. Like, it used to be so easy because they were always Jeanie pieces except for one or two. Now, I have two characters. That two head spaces to inhabit (on top of my own) and when I go to sit down and write, I actually have to find the appropriate head space. Just interesting to me. That said, if you haven’t already done so, seriously, check out Dystopia Rising by the amazing people at Eschaton Media. I know I’m always raving about their work but it is seriously good. And it is also important to note that while Jeanie is my own character, the others in the piece are from the other players in this world and borrowed with permission and their guidance in writing the scene.

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Jeanie glanced down at the mug of tea in front of her. It was just tea. There was no mother’s milk infused into the mug. She wouldn’t be able to get high off it. And with the remains of the feeder disease, drinking mother’s milk tea would probably be a bad idea. No, plain tea. Something to soothe the stomach that currently could barely keep down any food of any kind.

Calloused hands gently grabbed the fancy fucking mug and lifted the hot drink to her lips.

Of course Natasha had pretty fucking mugs.

The Pure Blood sat on the other side of the table, waiting. Not in that snotty Pure Blood way. Natasha had some how proven herself the outlier. She didn’t fit into the data set. It was infuriating.

But it also meant that she could be counted on.

Evolution is fucking hard sometimes.

“So, I have this necklace I wear.” Jeanie’s hand instinctively went up to grab the necklace. She wrapped her fingers in all the scrap ring pieces hooked to it. “I never take it off.” Jeanie pulled her brother’s hat off and then pulled the necklace up and over her head. She stared at the pieces that were on the necklace.

Natasha nodded in understanding.

“I remember when Hayven had the near grave. A lot of us were figuring out what thing we had that was most us. And for me, it was this. This necklace. It’s me. It’s my life.”

Natasha carefully sipped from a mug and quietly asked. “I’d love to hear the story. But, don’t feel like you have to.”

Jeanie shook her head. “No, I have to.” She turned her face to look over at the wall and not the Pure Blood in front of her. “I always tell people that because the gravemind is incapable of independent thought, anything you experience, you created it yourself.” Jeanie looked back to Natasha. “People say the gravemind lies and manipulates, but that’s just not true. It can’t. Everything we experience is something we already thought of but maybe didn’t want to admit. Or maybe it’s all the things we’re afraid of. If anything, death is the way we can see ourselves as we truly our. It is our best tool of evolution.”

“Use it as a tool, but not your only tool.” Natasha took a sip of her tea. She put the mug down and her eyes widened with realization. “You died again?”

Jeanie nodded. “When you all came back from Devil’s Den. You guys found me in the trap that the Thrill Kills had left for you. After you guys all left, during the fight, one of the Thrill Kills tortured me. I died. And when I came back, I didn’t want to keep living anymore.”

“You have so many things to live for,” Natasha commented, “You have Caleb. You have Charles. You have science and radiation.”

Jeanie nodded. “I know that now. Charles and Caleb both fought to remind me that. But, I also learned where I was most stagnant. I learned about how much I hate myself and hate being an Iron Slave and hate who I am.”

“I wish I could show you how incredible you are. You’re the most intelligent person I know,” Natasha said softly.

“Hold on… I’m not done…” Jeanie sighed and took a deep breath. “Knowing where I’m stagnant means I know what steps I need to take in my evolution.”

Natasha nodded.

“So, my necklace.” Jeanie looked down to the scraps in her hand and first separated a spool of wire from the bunch. “This is sodder. It’s used in welding. In Motor City, I worked an assembly line. I welded and smelted and that was it. This is what I was.” Jeanie let the spool of sodder slide down the chain and pulled another scrap piece into her hand. It said “CRAFTSMAN” on it. “I was raised by an Iron I called Big Sis. She gave me this. She said it’s what I would become, instead of just a tool on the assembly line.”

Once again, she let the piece slide down the chain and pulled another piece into her hand. This was a jumble of scrap rings all bound together. She went quiet for a moment. “These… These are my freedom… These are what’s left over from how I got out of Motor City… There was a caravan heading to the Aysea to trade Irons. I told them I was reinforcing the rig. I welded these scrap rings underneath the caravan bottom. I tied myself to them so that I could get away. No one saw my glow among the glow of the cargo walking around the caravan.”

Jeanie paused and pulled a single scrap ring off the bundle. She let the necklace drop into her lap and lifted the single scrap ring. She sighed a moment.

“I gave one to Caleb because around him I feel free. I did that awhile ago. He had dropped it. You found it and put it on.”

Natasha smiled a moment. “I figured if I wore it, it would be on display so that the person who really owned it would find it.”

“You are a Pure Blood and you were wearing my freedom…”

Natasha’s eyes widened a moment. “I never meant to hurt you by that.”

Jeanie closed her eyes. “I know… That’s not what I’m saying. I am trying to point out that I give them to people who I feel free around. I just gave one to Charles. It’s hard for me to feel free around Pure Bloods.”

Natasha closed her eyes. Her face was hurt. “I know. And I will not stop trying to change that.”

“I know…” Jeanie dropped her hands and looked down to the scrap ring. “I’ve been talking to Caleb a lot about this. And, I know it’s hard for me, but I… I trust… you… And I know that you’re… trying… to help… me…” She twirled the ring in her hands a moment. “I can go to you if something about my freedom is in danger and you’ll take care of it. And while it hurt… a lot… when I saw you wear it before… I know that you’ll take care of my freedom when I need it.”

Jeanie took a deep breath. “Here.” She held the scrap ring out in her hand.

Natasha looked over to the ring a moment and then up to Jeanie. Her eyes began to fill with tears.

“I give them to people I know will take care of me. To remind me of things I need in order to evolve when I see the other people with them. It’s okay to wear it when I give it to you because then it means you help me not you took my freedom from me.”

The tears slid down Natasha’s cheeks. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Will you take it?”

“Of course!” Natasha grabbed the scrap ring and slid it onto her finger. “I will look for a perfect place to put this so it won’t get lost.”

Jeanie nodded and sipped the mug from her tea.

“I’m glad you trust me.”

“It’s hard… but yeah…”

“I know it’s hard, but hopefully it’ll keep getting easier.” Natasha’s hand brushed the tears from her cheek.

Jeanie shrugged and looked down at her mug of tea. Caleb had said this would show growth on her evolutionary path. She knew it was the right thing to do. She hadn’t said a single lie or hidden anything from Natasha this time. She still felt so uncomfortable about it though.

Jeanie grabbed her necklace and put it back on before standing up.

“I’m going to the bar to get a drink,” she muttered before turning and leaving Natasha, the tears, and the fancy as fuck tea set.

The Decision

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Guys and gals! I’m back with another Dystopia Rising piece based on the events of the past game I went to. As always, my character is the main character in this piece (in this case, an Unborn known most commonly as She) but the world is the creation of the people at Eschaton Media and the other characters are the creations of the other amazing players who partake in this world. Anything said by the other characters are things they actually said at this past game. Gotta make sure to give credit to all the amazing people who were involved in my writing this story, even if that was them creating a bad ass character for me to have bad ass memories from game with.

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“You know, I’m being merciful keeping you alive and all. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

She undid the knot that held the bag to her belt. Green hands carefully opened the bag and let the herb slide out of the bag and onto the table. With practiced hands, she carefully tore the herb into small pieces that she piled in front of her on the table.

“The best you can hope for is that you never develop your curse and you keep from dragging anyone down with you.”

She carefully slid her fingertips through the pile, trying to make sure that all of the pieces were of similar sizes. Any that were too big were pulled from the pile and torn smaller. Any stems from the herb were pulled out of the pile and tossed aside.

“But if the curse develops anyway, you’ll be ready. You know the tenants, Rahab. You know how to combat the undead and give others their second chance. If the curse develops, you will be ready to join the students of the blind.”

She slid the herb from the table into her left hand. Practiced fingers pulled the lid off part of the still and dropped them to the bottom of the container. Then she brushed her hands against her skirt, removing any remaining herb bits from her palm.

“It won’t save you though. As the abomination that you are, there is nothing you can do to keep from being damned.”

She sighed and stood, grabbing the empty bottle that was with her. She walked over to the pot of boiling water in the fire place and began to ladle some of the water into her bottle. This would then be poured into the still with the herb, now that the whole piece was free of the toxins that filled water these days. Not that it would bother her to just use the water plain from the river, but for whatever reason that makes the rest of the people in town sick and it wasn’t something she wanted to do. So, pre-boil the water she would.

A few bottles of water were poured into the still and then the lid placed over it. She carefully arranged the kindling and wood underneath it before grabbing her flint and steel to light the pile under the still. Though, there was a part of her that felt it would be easier if the Ancestors had gifted… or cursed… her with the ability to produce fire from her fingers, not that she had ever actually seen anyone do that, but it would be very helpful at this moment.

And now, the worst part of brewing.

Waiting.

Waiting with the thoughts and memories that were plaguing her at the moment.

“If you develop psionics and don’t know it, we’ll work it out,” the Rainbow man waved his hands in the air, “But if you ever knowingly use those powers, even for good, you will be put to death. That is the law.”

She looked down at her green hands, the purple lines snacking across her wrists and up her forearms. No one else in town had such visible veins. Except for the One Who Bleeds Red, White, and Blue, but that wasn’t the purple that made everyone know she was from the Ancestors and not just another half breed. It was part of what made everyone fear that she was a witch, even if she was never gifted… or cursed with those abilities by the ancestors.

“Mom, what if she ends up losing control because she ended up with a power she didn’t know she had?”

“Then,” the Dead One threw his hands up, “we’ll address that when it happens. Not much else we can do.”

She glanced around the room a moment. It was empty. There was no one she could frighten by fully revealing that she was from the Ancestors. She sighed with a bit of relief and unwound the scarf from her head before pulling the gauze wrapping off her white eyes. It was nice when she had a chance to take it off.

“Those who are gifted, and it can be a gift, will be offered an opportunity to be a part of the Students of the Blind.” The Minster General paused and looked around, matching eyes with every psion in the room that he knew, “Now, while we would hope that you would consider joining the Fallow Hope, we know that many of you are very firm believers in your own faith and we will not ask you to leave that when you join.”

Those of the town who had begun to accept her had all made it very clear that the things she experienced on the caravan, by the hands of the Fallow Hope, were wrong. Even the Colonel had said that they were sorry for what the Fallow had said to her and done when they had tried once before to prepare her for the students of the blind.

“If you are a psion,” the Old Man shook his head as he spoke, “and the Minister General here will vouch for your position within the students of the blind, we can work something out.”

Only now, the fear of her gift… or curse… whatever it was called… the fear of it developing without any ability to control it meant She had a decision to make.

“I don’t like it,” the White Haired Pocket muttered, looking over to the Unborn, “I don’t like any of it. The new law or this new offer. What if something goes wrong?”

Her white haired friend was right. What if something goes wrong?

She could take comfort in the protection that her new family and friends would try to provide, but without anyone to try and help her learn to control any power that might develop, She would likely be put to death.

She could join the students of the blind, become the weapon that the caravan had always told her she would be. She could be required to leave her family and return to the pain of her past.

She sighed and carefully opened the tap at the bottom of the still and poured the Snake Oil into the bottle. Carefully, not to miss a drop. Especially when the brew could save her sister or one of her new friends. Especially when the current feelings about psions could possibly mean war with the Fallow Hope.

She carefully screwed the lid onto the bottle and slipped it into her bag. She made sure all her things were gathered and the still cleaned for the Red Worker who owned it. Her white haired friend’s words ringing in her mind.

“I don’t like it.”

“Neither does She.”

Belonging

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It’s another Dystopia Rising story. This one is about my new character She and not about Jeanie. If you have yet to check out Dystopia Rising, you seriously should. It’s utterly amazing stuff from the amazing people at Eschaton Media.

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Spin the spindle. Let the fibers twist together into the thread above the dangling wooden dowel. Grab the dowel and wrap the fine thread around it. Repeat the process.

Spinning yarn. It was simple and beautiful. And mindless enough that She didn’t have to think about all the things confusing Her. It was easier to understand.

She glanced up and looked around at the currently empty room. Over on the bar was the record player, quiet and with no disc spinning and revealing messages of the Kings. Her mom had started to tell her about his kings and the great union. It sounded so much like the great whole and seemed to make so much sense. She would have to ask the true believer priest who usually sat at the record player about them. She’d also have to ask Her mom to tell more.

Mom.

It was almost a strange concept. She vaguely remembered having a mom before the caravan had come to take Her away. Her mom had begun to teach her about the requirements of brewing for the elders. Mom had explained that it is very important to share the knowledge of the generations past with the ones to come. She never could ask Her mom what that had meant. And now, now She had a new mom. And a sister.

The dead one was kind and made sure to guide Her when She was worried or confused. The smiling girl was sweet and didn’t seem to judge Her at all. They were both kind. Was it the right decision to join the neighborhood and join with them? She hoped so. They were trying to help Her and guide Her.

But they weren’t the only ones.

There was the white haired pocket. That one was always trying to make sure She was safe. That one wanted Her to feel like She belonged here. It was strange to have a pocket that would get so bothered by understanding the things that She thought, but still stand up for Her and defend Her. She liked the white haired pocket.

There was also the tea commies. They were generally helpful and always got so angry at the thought of someone hurting Her in any way. Even the loud visiting doctor and the priest at the record both respected Her and treated Her and Her thoughts as though they were very okay.

It was strange that there was anyone who wanted Her around. She was used to all the many in town who were afraid of Her or didn’t want Her to exist. But to realize that many wanted Her around and were willing to protect Her.

Could it be that She might have found a place to belong again? Could it be that She might have found a place where She could one day feel like She was allowed to be herself?

She shook her head. It was too much think about right now. No, spin the spindle. Work the strands of fiber into workable yarn. That was easier to understand right now.

Abomination?

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This piece is based on the events of the last Dystopia Rising game I went to. Dystopia Rising is a Post Apocalyptic Zombie game put out by the amazing people at Eschaton Media. This story is about my original character, Rahab.

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She sat in the grass staring at the town around her. Everyone was bustling and busy preparing for their trip to Devil’s Den. Even the scarf quartermaster had asked her to join. Offered to baptize her into the faith.

She looked through the threads of the mask over her eyes and down at her green skinned hands. Purple colored veins snaking up her arms. She was so confused. The things she had learned while in this necropolis were nothing like the teachings of that one who led the caravan. She could still hear that one preaching to her.

As an abomination, you can never be baptized. You will always be damned. The most you can hope for is that you don’t drag anyone down with you.

Weren’t all the Fallow Hope like that?

I don’t think you’re damned, Rahab. If you ever want to be baptized, find someone who can write a letter to me and I will find you a priest.

It’s not my place to decide if you’re damned.

Except the Fallow Hope that were up and visiting the Grove. They had both welcomed the possibility of Rahab’s entry into the faith. It almost felt strange. Just as strange as the town’s acceptance of the tribal traditions she had held on to. The one who led the caravan could not get her to stop addressing her history as the ancestors. This town needed a moment to understand what she was referring to when she discussed the ancestors, but they did not get angry with her for addressing “the gravemind” in this manner. Whether or not someone felt it was a good thing or a bad thing did not matter. Everyone who passed on joined it. Her family was from it. The one who had driven the caravan was angered by the term, but here, once they understood, they did not question.

The one who led the caravan made it very clear that she was an abomination. The ancestors’ gifts of the mind were a sin. Her very existence was a sin. But the only one in this town who even came close to agreeing with that was the town Graverobber.

You’re not supposed to exist. You’re an abomination.

Was he a Fallow Hope like the caravan? Was he a Fallow Hope like the quartermaster and the Colonial? Was he something else?

She had come to this necropolis to try and understand her place and maybe find the caravan who had been taking care of her. The caravan was not here. And the people here seemed to be okay with the things her tribe had once spoken on.

Should she try to remember the things she had been taught as a child? Was that a sin? Was she damned or not?

Her visit had only brought more questions. She would have to ask them when everyone returned from their trip to the  Devil’s Den.

Her

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Most of you are used to me posting stories about Jeanie, my original character for Dystopia Rising. Well, this is not a Jeanie story. This is a new character. The Dystopia Rising LARP allows me to have three active characters at once, even if I can only play two a game. Up till now, I’ve only ever had Jeanie. Now I have a new character. Her name, is Rahab. So, here you go, an introduction to Rahab. I apologize if the writing is a little clunky, as this character’s personality might make writing a bit on the tough side, but we’ll see. As always, the world of Dystopia Rising is put out by the amazing people as Eschaton Media and is totally something you should check out.

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“Pardon, but can he help her?”

The man looked up from where he knelt in a small garden patch. His eyes widened and he gulped a moment at what he saw. A woman, green skin, almost sick looking, veins stretching across the face in purple and blue, white gauze wrapped around the eyes. “‘Scuse me?”

“Can he help her, please. She got separated from the caravan and is lost.”

“She? She who?” He stood up and brushed his hands on his pants to get the dirt off.

“She is…” the woman paused and her shoulder slumped a moment. She took a deep breath and continued. “Would he understand if she said ‘I am lost’ instead of ‘she is lost’?”

“You? Yer talkin’ ’bout you?”

The sickly green woman nodded. “Yes. She is lost and in need of assistance.”

“Um…” He glanced down quickly at the rifle on the ground. “You ain’t gonna do none of that brain juju bull shit, right?”

The woman shook her head. “The ancestors did not give her the ability to use her mind that way. This is good as she was taught it is a sin. He doesn’t need to worry.”

“Um… alright… Were you headed anywhere in particular?”

The woman shrugged. “She doesn’t know. That one never told her where the caravan was headed.”

“That one?”

“The one who leads the caravan.”

“Right.” He looked behind her a bit, towards the treeline, scanning for anything he could see. “Where did you come from?”

“That one did not really permit her to leave the caravan camp when we had arrived in a town. That one said that people would be frightened by her and it would be unkind to scare them.”

The man forced a quick laugh as he glanced around, still looking to see if anything had changed. “Yeah, well, that one was probably right. Are you lookin’ fer anyone in particular?”

“She would feel comfortable finding those of the Fallow Hope. They would know what to do with her.”

“Then y’all probably wanna find yer way to town. It’s close. ‘Bout a day or so walk down the road.” He pointed behind him at the path leading into the woods. “That’s the Grove proper. Out here is a bit less busy an all. But there’s a trade meet comin’ up. Might find people there that leave home for it or even live in the Grove center instead of us folk here in the Outer Grove. That’s probably yer best shot.”

“Thanks. She is grateful for his help.”

The woman walked around the man, careful not to step on his gun or in his garden. Somehow, she seemed to know where to place her feet despite the fact that her eyes were covered up in cloth.

The man just stared at her as she walked away.

Logic

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It’s been awhile since I posted. In that time I have done a lot of things. I got married. I worked a Renaissance Faire. I went on my honeymoon to Waikiki (lovely place, try it sometimes, bring sunscreen). So, Jeanie and Dystopia Rising both got put on the back burner for awhile. But they’re back. I’m back to playing. And I’m back to writing things that are going on in Jeanie’s life. So, if you like the story, check out Dystopia Rising and any other work by Eschaton Media. Also, remember that while Jeanie is my original character, the other characters and locations are property of the people who created them (not me). And yes, when I write a story with/about other characters, I have the permission of the others involved and work closely with them to make sure it is true to their characters as well. Enjoy the story.

Trigger Warning – Descriptive drug use,

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She couldn’t stop shaking.

“If I drop, keep going. I can take it. Just get in and get out. Don’t worry about me.”

“Natasha’s gone. Just go. GO!”

Why did it bother her so much that Natasha died? She’s a Pure Blood. A fucking prissy rich and manipulative Pure Blood. All of them are manipulative. Doesn’t matter that Jeanie can’t figure out what Natasha’s ulterior motive is, she has one. She should be glad that Natasha got pulled under by the River Hunters.

But she’s not.

“Charles, I’m sorry. The River Hunters got Natasha. They pulled her under. She didn’t come back up. I know you wanted to be there for her. I know. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Jeanie sat down on a log at the firepit with a groan before gripping her stomach. She took a deep breath and tried to will her hands to stop shaking. They wouldn’t stop. She wiped the sweat from her brow. Why won’t she stop shaking? Just fucking stop shaking, damn it!

Deep breath. Take a deep breath in. Slowly. Now let it out. In. Out.

“Tri, I saw it happen. They pulled her off the boat and dragged her under. She didn’t come back up.”

The Iron grabbed her head. Rocking back and forth. “I don’t care. I don’t care. She’s just a stupid Pure Blood. I don’t care. I don’t care. Why the fuck do I care?”

Jeanie punched both hands down into the dirt at her feet. Her fingers splayed out before gripping the soil and balling her hands into fists. “Fuck this shit. I need to calm down.”

She grabbed her brown bag and started rummaging through the pockets. Her fingers frantically dug into each pocket before hurrying to the next. Then, her fingers wrapped around a glass vial.

The Iron stopped shaking. Slowly, she pulled the vial out of the bag and stared at the familiar milky white liquid inside. This would calm her down. Put her emotions in check. Keep her from freaking out over a stupid Pure Blood, one who succeeded in manipulating Jeanie into caring. Rich bitch. Her hand slid into the back and pulled out a small scrap box. Practiced hands popped off the lid and dropped the contents onto her lap. Empty syringe. Small needle in an old world pill bottle to keep it from breaking. Get the needle out of the pill bottle, twist into place on the end of the syringe. Open the vial, slide needle inside. Pull up plunger of syringe to fill the syringe with Milk.

Jeanie shut her eyes for a moment and let some of the tension release from her shoulders. She opened her eyes and glanced down at her left forearm, covered in black ink. She glanced above the anchor to the crook of her elbow. A few visible blue veins. She didn’t stop to think as she lined the end of the needle up to the blue vein, pierced the needle into her skin and pressed down on the plunger.

The Iron’s eyes closed and she let out a deep breath. Her body relaxed and the stress from before disappeared. She let the feeling wash over her for a moment before sliding the needle out and dropping it onto the ground in front of her. No more shaking. No more worrying over Natasha. Just calm.

She smiled when she heard bells. Caleb was always good company.

The bells stopped and there was a moment of silence. “Why?”

“Why what?” Jeanie opened her eyes and glanced over to where Caleb stood at the end of the log. He was glaring.

“Why did you need to use?” His paws balled into fists.

“I couldn’t think clearly.”

“About what?”

“Natasha.”

“What about her? She wouldn’t tell you to take milk.” He shouts out. His paws unclench and then curl back into fists. Something was wrong. He’s not okay.

“She died. I watched it happen. And it bothered me. A lot.”

Caleb rolled his eyes and threw his hands up. “Even if it wasn’t her end,” he yells and grabs the syringe off the ground showing it to Jeanie, “you shouldn’t be doing this!”

“I shouldn’t think logically? I should let emotion cloud my thoughts?”

“Use fucking drugs because she died.” Caleb tosses the syringe to her feet. “You’ve seen deaths before.”

Jeanie shook her head. “No, I haven’t. They’ve always been saved, or out of sight, or awful… and… that’s not… her… anymore…”

“So, you’re destroying yourself for liking her?” He starts pulling his weapons out and tossing them to the ground. “What is your problem with liking her?” he shouts.

“She’s a Pure Blood,” Jeanie comments. “She’s supposed to be manipulative and doing everything for her own gain. She’s supposed to be like every other one. I’m not supposed to like her because she’s supposed to fit the data.”

“Your data is wrong!” Caleb shouts and turns to look at the flames for a moment before turning back to Jeanie. “Stop acting like you know everything when there is proof in front of your damn face that you’re wrong!”

Jeanie shrugs. “I can’t figure it out. I don’t understand why she doesn’t make sense. Why it bothers me. It shouldn’t. But it does and I can’t stop seeing her die and I can’t figure out why it bothers me.”

Caleb throws his arms up. “Because you can’t get over the fact that you like her. You only see her as a pure blood, not a person, like how she sees you.”

“I see pure bloods the same way you see the pack. How would you feel if you started liking one of them?”

“There’s a difference between seeing people that made a choice to harm me and seeing an entire strain that way.”

“Welcome to Motor City, where Pure Bloods rule over everything and decide everyone’s life.”

“Stop acting like you’re in Motor City. You’re safer here. You keep acting like you’re there and this place will become the same.”

“I’m not safer here! I’ve ended up in chains in multiple times since then.”

“I don’t see chains on you now,” he screams.

Jeanie grabs the syringe and hands it to the Ascensorite. “Mother’s milk is one of the ways you enslave an Iron.”

“You are being a slave to no one but yourself. You need to fight your weakness.”

Jeanie shrugged. “Well, I’m sorry. I failed.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Caleb growls. “Adapt! Evolve!”

“Maybe I’m doing everything I can! Maybe I’m afraid that I’m stagnant and will never be anything else.”

“Then distance yourself without drugs and try again.” He unclips the collar on his neck and throws it down to her feet. “The collar is dead. My blades fall apart by next summer. It’s a distraction. Work on it. Hit it. Think about Natasha again when you calm down.”

“I can’t just stop.”

He rolls his eyes. “I can only do so much. I’m only a fighter.”

Jeanie turns to look at Caleb. “And I’m only an Iron who got forced into craving something. Okay, I’ll work on something else,” she grabs the collar,” just like every other Iron who fights it. I’m not working for more, so I guess I’ll just shake and puke instead.”

“Get a shakeys.” He tosses his arms into the air and growls. He grabs his blades and turns to walk off muttering, “I just don’t get it.”

Jeanie sighs and stares down at the broken collar and the syringe at her feet.

“And I don’t know how to explain it.”