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.

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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.”

 

Abomination?

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

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

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

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

Weren’t all the Fallow Hope like that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Your Function?

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The following is based on the events of the most recent Dystopia Rising game. Dystopia Rising is a live action roleplaying game put out by the amazing people at Eschaton Media. It is a dystopian waste land in the time after humanity was destroyed by the zombie apocalypse. This world is dark, frustrating, and a world where zombies are no longer the terror, but a way of life. The character of Jeanie is my own original character. The rest of the characters are property of the players who created them and the story tellers who ran the plot.

**********

“Have you been training with Caleb?”

Jeanie stared up at the man from where she’d been sitting with her research notes in front of her. “What?”

“I asked you a question. Have you been training with Caleb, like I told you, or have you been sitting here, staring at paper, being lazy.”

Jeanie rolled her eyes.

“Don’t roll your eyes at me. Everybody needs a function. They don’t need people being lazy and doing stuff for ’em. Now, are you a functional unit? Did you do your job and train with Caleb?”

“I’m not a unit.” Jeanie looked up from what she was studying. “I already told you this.”

“You’re an Iron. Of course, you’re a unit. And answer the question.”

Jeanie sighed and put the bundle of notes down on the table. “I don’t have a number. I’m not a unit.”

“Of course you have a number. Just cause you don’t know it doesn’t mean you don’t have it.”

Jeanie rolled her eyes and picked up the bundle of research again. Her eyes scanned the writing, trying to find the last spot she had been reading.

“So, you’re just gonna be lazy then?”

Jeanie sighed and flung the bundle onto the table. “I’m not lazy and I already told you, last time I saw you. Yes, I trained with Caleb.”

“What did he teach you?” the man crossed his arms and rocked his hips.

“To use my knives.”

“How do I know you’re being serious?”

“We spent a half hour sparring. He bruised up my right shoulder real bad. Cut me up a few times with his knife. I clocked him in the jaw real good though.”

“I don’t see no cuts.”

“He’s my mate and a priest. He healed me up. He doesn’t like to see me hurt.”

“He’s a priest? So, he’s lazy?”

“No.” Jeanie sighed. “He teaches people to fight so they can defend themselves.” She paused and grimaced. “That’s his function.”

“He’s a priest. So he’s lazy!”

Jeanie groaned. “No. He’s not. He’s a hard worker. He is teaching me to fight.”

“Good! Means you won’t be lazy. You’ll be a unit with a function.” His gaze shifted to the left. “Excuse me,” he started in as he hurried off to get someone’s attention.

Jeanie stared at him for a moment before lifting both middle fingers into the air and shaking them back and forth.

“Jeanie, what are you doing?” There was a chuckle, a kiss placed upon her forehead, and a familiar spear was placed on the table next to her by a black furred paw.

“Just expressing my feelings to the idiot Hansfield who keeps on insisting that he treat me like a slave.”

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.”