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.”

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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.

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.”

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.

Rock Bottom

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

CONTENT WARNING!

Drug addiction and Withdrawal

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

**********

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

Craving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeanie would do the same.

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

She would refuse their orders from here on out.