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.

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Ink

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I gave myself a writing challenge. I put out an open call on Facebook for individuals willing to let me write their Dystopia Rising characters. I explained that I want to write more than just Jeanie, that I’d work with the individuals who play each character. But, it’s a chance for me to work on my writing skills by challenging me to branch out into other characters. So, here it is. The sixth of my Dystopia Rising Friend Fictions.

**********

Buzz.

The tattoo gun clicked to life in his hands with a slight shudder. The Hedonist smiled, ready to share the proud moment of adding new ink to an anchor that he cared about. He glanced over to the Iron sitting next to him. She was pale. Her eyes were closed and her fists balled up. Her whole body was tense.

“Jeanie, dear, y’alright?”

“Fine.” Her teeth were clenched.

“You sure? You look a might tense.”

“I don’t like getting tattoos.”

Charles looked at the tattoo gun vibrating in his hand and then back over to the girl he saw as his niece. For a moment, he once again saw the black ink of a designation number that marked her as property plastered across her cheek. A-825. Just as quickly, the memory faded. The pain and guilt that rose with the memory remained.

He clicked the tattoo gun off and placed it down on the bar. “Jeanie, you don’t have to do this.

The engineer took a deep breath and glanced over to Charles. “But I want these. You said I earned them.”

“You did,” the Ascensorite responded, “but you don’t have to get new ink if it bothers you.”

“I want these. I chose them. Just cause I don’t like getting tattoos doesn’t mean I don’t want them. Shea said I should make the tattoos be something I chose. So I am.”

Charles smiled warmly at the Iron. With everything going on, there was still pain and guilt. That would probably exist for awhile. But the pride was returning. Pride in how his niece had grown since he met her. Pride in the ink this anchor had earned. Pride in how this Iron had chosen to trust him despite all that she had lived through.

He watched her apprehension a moment before sliding off the bar stool and heading behind the counter. He glanced at various bottles with hands raised and ready to ready to grab the one he was looking for.

“Charles, what are you doing?”

“Ah!” He reached for a bottle of red liquid and began pouring a tall glass, which he then placed on the counter next to the Iron. “Here, drink this.”

“What is it?”

“Hooch. My top shelf shit. Should help you calm down, dear.”

Jeanie smiled. “I like your top shelf stuff.”

“You should! It’s good stuff.” Charles chuckled. “Take a few sips now and then when you start getting really upset about this, let me know. I’ll give a moment to take a few more sips before we get started again.”

The Iron nodded and took a few sips while Charles made his way back around the bar and up on the bar stool once more. He picked the tattoo gun up off the counter and glanced at the bare shoulder that Jeanie had positioned in front of him. “Jeanie, dear, at least try to relax a bit. It’ll hurt less if you do.”

Jeanie took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “I’ve felt worse.”

Protective Wind

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I gave myself a writing challenge. I put out an open call on Facebook for individuals willing to let me write their Dystopia Rising characters. I explained that I want to write more than just Jeanie, that I’d work with the individuals who play each character. But, it’s a chance for me to work on my writing skills by challenging me to branch out into other characters. So, here it is. The fifth of my Dystopia Rising Friend Fictions.

**********

He stepped softly, the jingle of bells muted by the cloth wrapped around them.

Pause. Listen. Watch.

There. Movement in the shadows.

Groaning and shuffling feet.

Caleb smiled and shifted the knucks to make sure they wouldn’t slide off his hands.

A breeze slid his hair out of his face. It brought the stench of rotting flesh. A small horde.

The ascensorite stepped forward and sliced his claws into the creature shambling towards him. Across the neck as the other fist slams into the rib cage. A crunch of bone. Paws grab the head. Twist and snap. Let the body fall to the ground.

The earth would reclaim it in moments.

Step forward. Lean to the right. Avoid the lunging arms. Reach out. Dig arms into the shoulder. Pop. The other paw claws into the neck tearing out the vocal chords. There is a slight gurgle as the zed goes to groan again. Reach for the neck again. Grab the spinal column and yank with full strength, popping the vertebrae out through the throat.

The zed drops.

Glance about. Two zed left. On either side of him, shuffling toward the compound’s tents.

Shift right. There’s a branch on the ground. Nudge it forward with his boot. The shambler catches its foot on the branch and tumbles down. There is a grin as the Ascensorite pounces onto the zed and pounds at the skull, shattering it.

Eyes dart about. Remaining shambler. It’s reached one of the tents.

Jump to feet. Charge forward. Grab remaining strands of hair and yank it backward. The zed falls backward. Arms lunge up, grabbing at the edge of the kilt. Claws plunge. Pull at the skin. Other paw lunges down. Grab and snap at the ribs. Slice the heart. The zed flops still.

Caleb stands and listens.

Silence.

He brushes his bloodied claws off on the grass.

The wind rustles the tent flap.

He steps into the canvas tent and turns to the glow bug sleeping on the mattress. Despite the summer heat, she’s shivering. Despite the bright red glow of her body, her skin is pale. He gently sits on the mattress, careful not to wake her. A claw gently pulls a lock of hair from her face. Caleb sighs. He can feel the heat of her fever.

He pulls his hand away, watching as the lock of hair pulls away from her head.

Uncork the water skin. Drop a bit onto a clean rag. Dab onto her forehead. Hopefully it will lower the fever a bit.

“I am Caleb Hawk,” he whispers. “I am a protective wind. I will keep you safe.”

He sighs.

“As long as your faith doesn’t kill you first.”

Live for Today

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I gave myself a writing challenge. I put out an open call on facebook for individuals willing to let me write their Dystopia Rising characters. I explained that I want to write more than just Jeanie, that I’d work with the individual who plays each character. But, it’s a chance for me to work on my writing skills by challenging me to branch out into other characters. So, here it is. The fourth of my Dystopia Rising Friend Fictions.

**********

Ramsey shuddered as he walked back up to the Double Tap. A lot of people had fallen in the fight with the raiders. That part was normal. People often fell during raider fights. Patch them up. Use some brews. No big deal. The hard part was watching someone use a needle filled with a milky white brew. The Iron had watched the man’s eyes, saw the calm wash over him. The Iron felt his stomach wrench into a knot and his hand shook.

He wanted the drug.

Ramsey glanced through the crowd of smokers on the stairs before stepping through the haze and into the building. Turn left and around the corner to the small porch with the hookah.

“What’s up?” The bald Rover smiled and leaned back in his chair. “Care for some hot brown?”

Ramsey shook his head and sat down across the table.

Bloom shrugged and took a sip from the scrap mug in his hand. “Let me know if you change your mind.”

Ramsey nodded. He leaned back in the chair and swallowed, trying to regain control, trying not to disappoint his dad by hunting out a vial of what he craved. The Rover looked on, watching Ramsey for a few quiet moments and stroking his beard. Then he leaned forward and placed his elbows on the table. “Alright, what’s bugging you?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re sitting here, not partaking in this glorious shisha, just breathing. Something’s on your mind.”

Ramsey sighed and crossed his arms. He turned his face away from the Rover. He didn’t want to talk about it. Talking about it meant thinking about it. Thinking about it meant craving it. That’s something he didn’t need right now.

“Alright, don’t talk about it,” Bloom leaned back in his chair and took another sip from the mug. “But something has you thinking and you’re not enjoying it. It’s a beautiful day. We’ve got a nice break. Some delicious shisha, hot brown, and cheese. Did I offer you cheese yet?”

Ramsey shook his head.

“Well, you can have some if you like. Anyway, what I’m saying, is that it’s a beautiful day and it’s worth enjoying.”

Ramsey nodded and looked over toward the House. People were standing around laughing in the field. Feargus and Bastion were sparring. Bastion took a shot in the chest and glared at Feargus. “Dude, not in the tits!” Overall, people were enjoying themselves. It really was a good day.

Ramsey closed his eyes. He could still feel the craving for Mother’s Milk. He still wanted it. But he could also feel the heat of the sun and the joy of people living.

“Enjoy yourself while you can,” Ramsey muttered under his breath. “There is no vice anymore, the gods of temperence have left us.” He took another deep breath. Right now there was no Mother’s Milk, just cravings. Cravings are a vice that made him worry when instead, he could enjoy what Bloom had to offer. Enjoy now, that was the point of the seven. That was the point of Hedon.

Ramsey shifted in his seat and took the hookah hose into his left hand.

“So, how about that cheese?”

Natural Percussion

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I gave myself a writing challenge. I put out an open call on facebook for individuals willing to let me write their Dystopia Rising characters. I explained that I want to write more than just Jeanie, that I’d work with the individual who plays each character. But, it’s a chance for me to work on my writing skills by challenging me to branch out into other characters. So, here it is. The third of my Dystopia Rising Friend Fictions.

It is also based on the recent plot going on in Dystopia Rising Mass.

**********

The refugees of Ripton Falls had come to know the almost constant sounds of music drifting around whatever town they were living in. Back in Ripton, the sounds of flutes might drift from one of the bars. In the Grove, you could usually find the bar filled with the graceful sounds of saxophone. Even when the people of Ripton had gathered in Pequod Port to help the Saltwise who lived there, the sounds of music had followed them. An interesting breath powered keyboard contraption could be heard echoing across the water and through the hills of the town.

The refugees of Ripton Falls had forgotten how unsettling silence could be.

The Ascensorite sat at a picnic table mere feet from the water’s edge. His saxophone sat upon his lap, highly dented but carefully cleaned of rust and any other damages to the gently tended piece. There was a comfort in it’s presence. The knowledge that this tool of the beat was still here in his hands, reminding him of the constant aspect of the beat in his life.

That comfort was needed, especially considering everything he had learned while working with Jeanie, Krey, and Viktor. The information was hard to put out of mind and it kept eating away at him.

Someone was trying to create the undead.

Sigmund shuddered. There was something unnatural about it.

Sigmund shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. He closed his eyes and listened carefully for the beat around him. The beat was with him. And despite the terrifying implications of those notes, the beat would live on and guide him. He would listen for that.

The steady thump-thump of his heart was heard first, a gentle drum beat. The water lapping against the shoreline was heard next, a faint but still steady sound. It blended in perfect time with his heart. The wind blew through the trees. Some branches rustled against each other. The rustling was almost like brushes on the cymbals that pure blood entertainers might own. Nature’s precise percussion session.

His own King spoke of this when he mentioned the beauty and love he could sense all around. John Coltrane’s lyrics were pure genius, presented generations before people truly needed them.

The Ascensorite’s head began to bounce lightly in time with the natural percussion sounds that were surrounding him. He brought his saxophone to his lips and spent a few more moments listening, quietly.

Gently, he began to play.

He let his fingers caress the instrument, speaking all of his fears. The air pushing past the reed carried his frustrations through the instrument and out the bell at it’s base. Someone may be doing the unnatural, but his King would carry him through. The beat would fill him and guide his fingers, as they always did.

Unevolved Twits

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I gave myself a writing challenge. I put out an open call on facebook for individuals willing to let me write their Dystopia Rising characters. I explained that I want to write more than just Jeanie, that I’d work with the individual who plays each character. But, it’s a chance for me to work on my writing skills by challenging me to branch out into other characters. So, here it is. The second of my Dystopia Rising Friend Fictions.

Also note, for those who were a part of Uprise, this is set before the burning of Bravo by Mustang. Don’t take this as canon.

**********

Seconds ticked by. Simultaneously the fastest seconds he’d ever experienced and the most agonizingly long ones in existence.

He had heard many of the Telling Visionists discuss programs like this and had never given them any credence before. The signal, the sponsers, and all that other shit. It wasn’t truth. It wasn’t evolution and radiation and the things that Max had known for years. But they had discussed it before. Red wire. Blue wire. No red wire. The curie had always shrugged it off. But now, suddenly, he felt that tension.

Maybe there was a slight bit of truth behind the visions of the signal.

Maybe.

Nah! Crazy religious wack jobs.

This was science! Pure and holy. It was engineering in it’s majesty and darwinism at it’s absolutely purity. This was the pinnacle of his skills. It was a test of faith.

And if it happened to blow up and destroy the town, well then he just wasn’t evolved enough. Hopefully the town would be evolved enough to survive the radiation induced blast that Mustang was hoping for with this delivery. Though, it was almost genius. The Remnant had to hand it to that bastard. Surgically implant a bomb inside an Iron Slave. Now waltz into Bravo with the idea of holding an auction. The people of Bravo would be up in arms to free the Iron and get them situated and on their way. The so called slaver and anyone with any remaining connections to Mustang would be long gone by the time Bravo realized what they’d been given. Sneaky bastard.

Removing it from the Iron Slave had been the easy part. What’s his face had done it. You know, that doctor who did that thing… Okay, so the guy was also a Telling Visionist and Max never really paid him much attention cause, well, stupid Telling Visionsists and their bat shit craziness. But yeah, that part was easy. This part, this was no child’s game.

This was Science!

Max wiped the sweat from his brow and re-examined the engineering of the bomb. The wires were crudely attached to some old world tech that was counting down the seconds. There was a blue rad rod housed inside a lead compartment, currently perfectly safe. But when the timer was up, it was designed to send a spark of electricity down… down where?

“It’s the red wire! Cut the red wire!” someone called from the crowd that was gathering to watch.

“Will someone shut him up?” the Curie called out without removing his eyes from the task at hand. There was a delicacy to science. It was crucial that he wasn’t interrupted.

Also, if people wanted to be unevolved waste then that was their choice… but standing around a live bomb like this was absolutely one of the most backwards and unevolved choices they could possibly make. They didn’t have the scientific know how to do this. So all they did was risk getting destroyed. Max on the other hand, knew what he was doing. Also, it was some amazingly intricate technology. How could he not look at this absolutely beautiful creation?

Crap, 10 more seconds gone. Back to the task at hand. That spark of electricity…

The remnant pulled out a screw driver and carefully removed a side panel to get a better idea of what was going on. The heat of the blue rod could be felt on his skin as he pulled the lead siding away from the box. He had to take a deep breath to keep from gagging. As much as he loved the precious and holy glow, his body still didn’t react to it very well.

Stupid unevolved flesh.

Anyway, his eyes scanned the contents of the box and he smiled. The wire brought the electric spark to a simple bit of fabric. There was a second wire on the other side. The electricity would arc from one wire to the other through the fabric, igniting it. Only the fabric was also wrapped around the blue rod. Fire plus blue rod would be devastating and the small lead box holding it would not contain that blast.

Max chuckled to himself.

It was so simple.

He carefully screwed the side panel back onto the box and pieced it back together. For now he’d continue to contain the radiation within. As much as he wanted to keep it, the Priest knew it would have to be carefully contained or the few pure bloods in town would throw up a stink and no one wanted to hear them whine.

He grabbed a knife and brought it up to the yellow wire.

Stupid visionist was now screaming that it had to be the red wire and he was gonna cut the wrong thing. Crazy religious nut head.

A quick slice of the knife and everyone around gasped, waiting for the inevitable explosion.

Max just chuckled and returned the knife to it’s proper place before standing and wiping his hands on his pants. He grabbed the beautiful piece of technology and whistled to himself as he started walking back to Bravo proper. He had to show Harper this piece of beauty, especially now that there was nothing the timer could do to set it off anymore.

The Curie chuckled. The visionists should write scripture about this day, about how he saved Bravo… again…

Nah. Unevolved twits would probably forget about it by morning.

Stupid Telling Visionists.

The Seasons Prevail

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I gave myself a writing challenge. I put out an open call on facebook for individuals willing to let me write their Dystopia Rising characters. I explained that I want to write more than just Jeanie, that I’d work with the individual who plays each character. But, it’s a chance for me to work on my writing skills by challenging me to branch out into other characters. So, here it is. The first of my Dystopia Rising Friend Fictions.

**********

“Fucking Dead Eyes,” she groaned as she hefted the shield up in front of her face. There was the ping of a bullet bouncing into the shield before it fell, harmlessly to the ground. The ascensorite glanced around the edge of her shield and up the hill to where the Dead Eye Raiders were sniping down on them. To make matters worse, they could clearly see through the windows of the building behind her and they were sniping down anyone they saw inside.

Murphy had family inside.

With a deep breath, she felt the spirit of Autumn swell up inside her. She adjusted the grip on her sword and glanced at the enemies above her. Winter’s guidance pointed out that despite being in a strategically worse position, her shield would be very useful right now. Plus, she could charge at the two out front with the shitty guns and then make her way around behind the sniper who was doing the most damage. A gentle breeze brushed back her hair, reminding her that even if the dead of winter, the life of spring breaks through. Now, in the dead of battle, life would still prevail. The seasons made it clear. They always did.

Murphy charged up the hill. She stopped at the first raider and with a swing, sliced into the raiders hip. She quickly pulled back and then sent a quick thrust into the raider’s lower gut. It dropped his weapon to the ground. A twist of her blade sent him to his knees.

The ascensorite cried out as flaming pain entered her shoulder. She whipped her head around to see one of the Raiders running towards her, his gun pointed. She closed her eyes for a quick moment, focused on the heat of the pain and how it was similar to the heat of Jeanie’s forge or the heat of Sol’s freshly made weapons. It was a reminder of the heat of summer, a reminder of the constant support the seasons gave her. She adjusted the grip on her blade once more, pulling it from the first raider and ready to face the second.

Murphy dropped to her knees, holding her shield in front of her and waited carefully as the Raider charged forward, continuing to shoot his gun at her. He shot again and again, firing the bullets into her shield, each one dropping to the ground. Then at the last moment, she popped up and lifted her sword. The momentum from the raider’s charge, sent him barreling towards her sword. A shift of her hips and the sword sliced through the front of his abdomen. The raider toppled to the ground.

A cold gust reminded her to check her surroundings, a gentle nudge of winter to reassess the circumstance and change her tactics accordingly. Her ascensorite brothers were fighting along side of her. The chaotic jingle of bells on one side of her, the steady determination of a tree on her other side. Farther off was the scream of someone pummeling his fists into a raider’s head. The colors of Autumn swirled in the movements of her loved ones and revealed the still open path to the Dead Eye who continued to snipe at the people hiding inside the building.

Murphy charged forward. She let the spirit of spring guide her steps through the new growths and up behind the raider. A thrust of her blade into his kidney. She pulled back and shifted her hips to slice the blade through his other side. The raider dropped his gun to the ground and fell forward onto his knees. She carefully lined up the blade with the artery in his neck before pulling her blade and slicing through to ensure the raider’s death.

She glanced around her as the heat of the sun shown down. The saint of the seasons was carefully brushing off the bark skin he had. Standing nearby was a grinning young man, his paws wrapped around a blood coated spear as he scanned for another threat. In the distance an Arkadian was staring down at a deceased raider muttering about how much he hated Dead Eyes. The screaming from the building had stopped.

Murphy took a deep breath and smiled.

The seasons had prevailed.

They always did.