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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”