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.

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.

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.

**********

“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.

**********

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.

**********

“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.”