Arcadia Power

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11
International Events / Re: Xefr's Adventures: Existential Crisis
« Last post by guest9 on April 17, 2018, 04:31:22 pm »
Cui having gotten the signal from her mate, gulped and walked forward ..she was bearing a big smile "I proposed to your brother Myst  ..and he said Yes! We're gonna get hitched!  ...at least, I hope, we'll manage before the Hyl come.." she turned and gave a big kiss at Myst.

-

The old capricorn grinned at the young drake, such a magnificent mind, such a great willpower  ...and yet such a petty, miserable plan he had! "Fear is not life  ..what you pursue is the death of all that is good in life along with the bad, what you pursue goes against all that I stand for, and it is so defeatist it irritates me!  ...so consider that until you repent, you shall find an enemy in me, because two cannot decide the fate of the realm  ..but before we seal the deal, remember one little thing; while you are right in many ways..." Caprima rised up and elevated herself, looking down at Forbidden in a pompous and somewhat emotionless way, a peculiar white aura surrounding her and dissolving Forbidden's red in mere seconds as she extended her arms "The chains I'm speaking of are the chains I hold! Don't ever forget that  ...when my banners fly high against the red-blood sky, you too will know. Of course, I'd prefer it to be otherwise, but alas   ..I'm not evil, and I'm not good   ...I'm the mother of mortals and as long as I exist, I'll keep tight or lessen those chains as I see fit, until my beloved children learn to behave! ..and now to seal the deal." she leaned down towards the dragon and extended her hand once more, however this time white light flowed out of it "...It will only take half your soul!" peculiarly enough, Caprima's fangs had grown sharp like blades and as long as daggers, while blood run through her eyes and saliva dripped from her mouth  ...she appeared to be rather excited! "DON'T FEAR CHILD, IT'S MERELY A SOUL!"

-

Re'Ni smelt the air, now she was sure someone was watching! A big dragon too! She stood up in all fours and turned at his direction giving a suspicious look at him {"WHO IS? SHOW SELF!"} she prepared a light orb in one paw just in case  ...deep down her mind, her worse thoughts begun surfacing again, someone wanted her child!  ..couldn't she have even just that little wonderful moment not spoiled, she thought.
12
International Events / Re: Xefr's Adventures: Existential Crisis
« Last post by guest28 on April 16, 2018, 08:22:44 pm »
Myst stood proud, even as his cheek was pinched, and as Cui leaned in he hugged her with one of his wings, "Ah, so that's your motive, is it? You like me so much, you want to have some insurance that you'll get to keep me no matter what happens. I do like that contingency plan myself, so I'll do what is needed to ensure that happens. Anyways, let me call Essentials." His eyes flashed blue, with a little psionic ping going out. Soon enough, Xefr teleported in front of them, smiling at them, "I see you two are getting along well. Quite different to how it was when you first met, isn't it? Anyhow, why have you called, Myst?" Myst's tail gave Cui's a little tap, signalling that he wanted her to tell him.

-

Forbidden, strangely enough by his expression, seemed to be feeling the same pity, but for Caprima, "Ah, so that's where you made your mistake in thought. You want to give the troublemakers more power, instead of doing anything to actually stop the problem. Hmph." With a sigh of what appeared to be disappointment, "Fear hasn't consumed me, Caprima. You simply misinterpreted my point. You see, I want to spread it. I want to make everyone afraid. I want to make everything too afraid to ever hurt another person ever again. That's what I want. Peace in the only way it can be sustained! That's what I'll work towards." He grunted, going silent for a moment, and then chuckled, "Fine. I'll help you kill your little Weaver. And I'll consume whatever is left of her by the end of it. I don't care for any chains, because there are none holding me back. Just a cage, which you also happen to be in."

-

Tec smiled, and complied with her request by reaching out with his own paws to pick Silvia up, and started doing some nuzzling of his own. All too happy to dote on his child. Meanwhile, Re'Ni was correct. In the brush of the garden, a Golden Dragon was watching from the distance. If Re'Ni looked carefully, she could tell it was that Combat Drake Commander from before, but he wasn't wearing any armor. He was just watching Tec and Silvia, clearly in awe.
13
International Events / Re: Xefr's Adventures: Existential Crisis
« Last post by guest9 on April 16, 2018, 06:43:51 pm »
Cui pinched Myst's cheek with her paw while smiling "By Quetzalcoatl you're such a cinnamon roll! My silly lovely drake..." she leaned close to him and blew him a kiss "Alright! Let's go tell the others. This is important for me ...you know, if everything goes bad, well.. while Cap says it's nonsense, I still believe all warriors meet with their mates at the Dreamworld.."

-

The goat vampire relaxed and chuckled while slowly placing her hand over her eyes, essentially facepalming, then looking at Forbidden with her usual motherly expression  ...though her voice was peculiarly more sarcastic than usual "Oh Xefr, my dear sweet poor child! ...that's what I do! That's what I live for! To help poor souls!   ...Nevertheless while yours is a lovely goal and as you understand, the same as mine  ..I do not understand how paranoid one must be to want to be one with the universe. This is why I say you're clueless  ..because you have the same mentality I had trillions ago; Be mortal again? As if we aren't all! 'One with the universe' Heh! Haven't heard that in a while...   ...why not just lead the universe as an omnipotent all-powerful living being? Why do you have to be made a component of the cycle when you already are? You see child, what you want  ...a world lacking pain is what dear old me wants too, but the difference is that I at least know what it takes! You see my good son, it only needs me barring the mortal realms from the rest and teaching the mortals to be gods on their own right, as a good divine goat mother once tought her children  ...I mean, it would take only that if it wasn't for the other damned Great Ones  ...those miserable old traitors that think intervening to help mortals reach divinity is the end of the world! Hah!" as she was about to ask her mind regarding fear, Caprima's voice although still feminine, suddenly was now more hoarse and deep sounding, while her fangs elongated "Fear is the never-ending road, fear is pain   ..fear is death. And I sense a lot of fear in you   ..not due to me of course, no child, this is a fear greater and far more painful  ...and your fear has a name that I shall not refer as I'm not cruel, since I face a similar fear of my own." she shook her head a bit, herself looking quite depressed she sat down again and looked down on her legs "But yes, fear has the greatest element of paralysis to it, the greatest of the negative emotions  ..but when you lack control over it, it consumes you  ..as it did with you." she remained there down on the ground turning to at the drake with a sad expression as if in a way  ..she pitied him "You only need to vow to help me defeat the Weaver when the time comes and the chains that bound you will be broken"

-

For some reason, the quite uninspired name Silvi stuck to Re'Ni's mind ..deep within, she didn't want her daughter to grow and become a great dragon, but merely a happy simple good Heordal dragoness and Silvia seemed to fit that life. Re'ni grabbed her baby with her paws and nuzzled its snoot with hers {"Silvia! Like name Silvia, no wittwe one? Ehehehehe!"} the baby dragon bit her mother's snoot filled with joy {"Ow, Silvi have strong bite! Ehehe! Cute!"} Re'Ni signaled at Tec with her eyes to hold his baby as well, mostly because the bite was actually strong ...Re'Ni didn't joke. However while happy and calm like never before, Re'Ni could sense someone watching them.
14
International Events / Re: Xefr's Adventures: Existential Crisis
« Last post by guest28 on April 16, 2018, 01:44:48 pm »
Myst didn't resist, happily going along with Cui and smiling at her clear excitement, "I shall prepare myself to be impressed then, since I doubt anybody but yourself and Caprima have attended a Qoatl wedding before. I suppose we should inform Essentials first, as Caprima still appears busy with whatever is going on down in the brig." The Shard went red again as he realized the meaning behind the suggestive tones and those words, "Oh goodness... Well, erhm... I guess it'll be like finishing what was interrupted by that Hyl back down at the beach. Something I wouldn't mind at all, even if I am not nearly as experienced in the trade as you, Cui."

-

The swirling red mist emitted the sound of laughter once more, with Forbidden either not taking this seriously or something else. But the mist did culminate into a real Dragon form now, no longer gaseous. The end product was a Black Dragon, similar to all the other shards, but with dark red eyes that had no pupils. Just pure dark red spheres. His wings were cut up, a stark contrast to the rest of the body which was pristine in its quality. He sighed and spoke, "You really don't understand, you know. You never will. It matters little if you were once mortal and became such again, because you've already given it up. Mortality doesn't just come back. The imitation means little, but your condescension means a lot. So please stop acting like you understand anything, Caprima." He stretched his wings out, sighing in relief, "Still, it does feel good to take such a form once again, so I'll thank you for the recommendation. Now, what do I want? Well, first off, I want to be immutable. A fact of life. Entwine myself with existence so I never need to leave the mortal plane, and so I can never be removed from it. But that's something I'll accomplish eventually. As for what I really want... A never-ending state of peace. No more death, pain, loss. But you see, that's so naive to think it can be done without making one or more sacrifices, particularly in the means of how I will achieve it. Let me ask you one thing Caprima... Do you think fear has a certain element of paralysis to it?"

-

Tec was just more happy than he had ever been. Not only because he was a father, but because of Re'Ni right now too. He could see that lack of conflict within her, that ability to concentrate and feel unhindered by the pain inside her. That made everything worth it. It was just an incredibly good addition that he had a beautiful hatchling to love and care for too! Regardless, he leaned his head down close to the baby, "Yup, we're parents now, love. With our adorable silver baby. Let's see, I got a few ideas for names. How about Illumi or Silvi?" He picked his head up, thinking harder, "Hm, no, I can do better than those! How about Estrella? That's this country's word for chain of stars. Or maybe Zelethre? It was the name of an ancient Queen of Heord's Vudsi Islands, the first to rule over all of them! Or..." Tec was now caught in a mental loop of trying to think of more names, and clearly wouldn't be settled until he was stopped or found something perfect.
15
International Events / Re: Xefr's Adventures: Existential Crisis
« Last post by guest9 on April 15, 2018, 06:30:56 pm »
Cui took Myst by his paw and went forward hastily, seeming to be extremely excited, her voice almost cracking into a cheery one "Come on! I have to tell the old goat and the others..  ..it will be a majestic Qoatl wedding the likes of which you new drakes have never seen before! Oh the fire and the feathers and songs and meat!" Cui turned her head, giving a wink at Myst for a moment, while her voice, although still excited, had rather suggestive overtones now "...and believe me, I will be a very grateful bride to you!"

-

Caprima let out a loud sigh, being somewhat tired by all the empty threats this youngling throwed at her. Having understood the situation at paw, she cracκed a subtle smile and after sitting down she placed her right hand on her cheek and snapped her fingers with the other, both demons returning in the flash of a second back to the cage. The smile remained in her tired face, though now it was showing off her long fangs "You misunderstood me child, as I have I'm sure  ...you only see my crust, an ambitious fallen goddess, but in truth I understand we're not that different   ....why you want to be one with the veil even? It's no good trust me  ...there is no better state than being a fleshbag  ...a fleshbag with power over their existence of course, something which I'm very proud to say I'm fighting for! Mortals, Gods, Demons and whatnot you understand not  ..but thankfully, children don't always have to understand what's good for you, that's what mothers are there for." Caprima stood up looking at Forbidden's soul with rather sad eyes, but still bearing her smile "You see my dear child, I've tried everything  ...save the universe? Sure, plenty of times! Create a new one? Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Play God? I mean come on, I'm here aren't I? Be a Mortal? Technically we all are, but some are more than others and I envy them for they lack knowledge.   ...so, why don't you sit down with me, let your guard down, take your nice dragon form and tell me what you really want in a polite and simple manner and perhaps we could find a way  ...I may be a wolf as you say but I'm really also a mere small goat with a loving heart." Caprima sighed again, staring intensely at what appeared to be the source that Forbidden's words where coming from "I say this because if I make a deal with you at your current state and set your spirit free in my realm, be certain that after you help me I will hunt you down and there's nothing you can do to escape me child. And that is not a threat, it's simply what must be done. I don't want to hurt you, or anyone else, but if you pose a threat to my other children  ..I will." Her smile faded away turning into subtle grin, her expression and look making clear she was rather serious ...for once being actually honest with one of her children.

Spoiler (hover to show)

-

Re'Ni was too bothered with cuddling and giving pecks at the hatchling to process what Tec said {"Ehehehe  ..whose cute sprout? She be! Whose cute sprout? She be!"}[/i] the black dragoness soon however realised something and her eyes gained a black stare  ..she was a mother now! And for the first time in aces she was feeling truly free of all evil thoughts  ..she could concentrate! The voices where still there, but they didn't matter that much. Re'Ni turned to Tec with a confused look {"T-tec! ..Self is mom!  ..ehm  ...heh!"} as the baby dragon gave a little snarl she brought back to her mind Tec's question {"Name! Right!  ..ehm  ...think! Think... Cyrona? Is Old Goddess of Stars and Life of Grey Monkeys! Nah...   ..very dramatic, self not like. Ehm...  Starsy?"} The hatching tried breathing some fire, only to produce a spark, leading to Re'Ni beginning in turn to be overwhelmed by warm feelings and licking the baby happily while crying.

Spoiler (hover to show)
16
International Events / Re: Xefr's Adventures: Existential Crisis
« Last post by guest28 on April 06, 2018, 09:46:53 pm »
Myst enjoyed the hug, remaining silent himself as well. Partially out of shock from the rush, and partially out of just wanting to enjoy that peaceful moment in time. His eyes remained open though, so he could just smile back as Cui opened hers, "I love you as well, Cui. My friend... And I guess now, my mate. It's rather overwhelming for me."

-

Forbidden through the whole thing was observant, yet never seemed surprised. The red mist had form into a form of a Dragon, though it maintained that texture of a mist, and no outstanding features besides the eyes of pure darkness. He looked at her when she finally finished and said, "...Oh, done now? Right then, my turn. You see, goat, you're also wrong about me. Don't worry though, that's usual for all people, even ones like you. I'm not exactly within the realm of understanding. Here's the thing, I don't care much for that seeing beyond the veil thing. I've done it, and it's just not for me. I've got bigger interests in mind, y'see. I like to instead entwine myself with that veil. Xefr is my name, but yet, it isn't. I had another, but I forgot it, because Xefr changed me. So much so that Xefr is me now. I am so much greater. But I am no slave, Caprima, I'm something something special. There is no life for me, yet there is no death either." The confidence in his voice was complete, but physically the small red Dragon of gas glanced around a bit, showing there was more than that to him, "But, I'm not exactly free, as the cage shows. So, let's see your offer. If it doesn't suit me, I'll be rid of it, as I have done so many times before. Besides, it'll be interesting to make a deal with a fellow Devil... Don't disappoint me, because I'm one of the few who can make you truly regret that." With a dark grin, a phantasmal hand appeared and shook Caprima's, with the dark Shard merely watching on to see what happened next.
 
-

Tec remained close by the whole time, watching with anticipation and a level of excitement he had never experienced before. He simply hugged Re'Ni upon seeing the egg itself, not able to express his joy with words. Yet despite the fact that he believed he could never be happier, he was proven wrong within moments as he noticed the Egg hatching. Tec had to join his mate in sobbing, moving close to inspect the hatchling. He licked her as well, taking extreme pride in her lovely silver color and seeing her as the cutest thing he had ever seen, even more so than Scout! But he did manage to get ahold of himself, and speak, "This is amazing. She hatched so quickly, and she looks perfectly healthy, too! We're parents of a lovely child... But, not to take away from the joy, there is one thing... What are we going to name her?"
17
International Events / Re: Xefr's Adventures: Existential Crisis
« Last post by guest9 on April 06, 2018, 07:22:04 pm »
Cui rushed and closed Myst with all her might in a tight winghug, remaining silent with her eyes closed for a little while. She finally opened her eyes looking into Myst's and smiling "I never have felt more alive. I love you Myst."

-

Caprima just chuckled and remained idle, extending her arms and nodding. She hadn't had the honor of meeting someone who truly understood her being, she craved for that familiarity for such a long time and even if he was a lost cause  ..he still was a lost cause she could respect "How very pleasant. It's nice to finally meet a bright child ...someone who can see beyond. So let me show what you are in response" everything turned dark and suddlenly a bright blinding white cloud overwhelmed Forbidden's existence from all sides and extending to eternity, the goat then took the form of a peculiar apple tree with many apples, some bright red, others hurt and inedible  ..the tree's bark had cracks with fungus all over it, but all cracks begun from a single sick branch,  a branch holding an awful sick apple carrying the disease. Caprima manifested next to the apple tree, she grabbed the sick apple and bit it. The apple begun aging and burning from her bite, producing a sound only comparable to screams. "However you are wrong regarding one detail  ...a rather important one; You only have seen the truth of this realm, but this realm is merely a projection of the backside of a single leaf of the cosmic tree. I am still the bloodthirsty hunter and you still one of the countless ignorant prey ..I act on my own free will to be  ..you are tied and a slave to your own time and space, to your own emotions and memories, forever to live as a worthless prey regardless of your great mind or what you think you know. Now I could change that - and I want to change that   ..if you would only answer to a question; Do you want to be alive Xefr?" Caprima seemed dead serious as she uttered her last sentence, her cold blooded eyes turned into what seemed to be a negative and bleached view of outerspace, looking beyond the essence of Forbidden surrounding her, far into the abyss while she slowly extended her hand for a handshake.

-

Re'Ni's tail begun twitching while she begun munching her claws in terror as she sat down on a grass filled part of the garden, she was truly terrified  ..even though a tad bit happy about all that was happening. {"Ahhhhh! Self  ...Self do that!    ..not  ...AHHH! Ok  ...calm Re'Ni! Just Egg  ..not  bad. Valx do lay all time."} She took some deep breaths and extended her wings, for a moment her eyes derped and she let out a small shriek, closing her wings around her. Her eyes looked tired as she turned around, but then suddenly they widened and a big smile formed on her  ...she retracted her wings and stepped to the side. There it was, the continuation of Atzel's line, the heir of dragons and the second child of Xefr; A big healthy egg moving left and right ready to crack. Re'Ni clapped her paws and turned to Tec {"Ahhhhhhh! hahahaha! Loook! Look Tec! Re'Ni mom  ..Tec dad! Self ..self needs to.."} as the egg begun moving she turned back to it immediately, looking down over it in awe with her big lovable dumbfounded eyes and truest of smiles, awaiting for it to crack.
The sound of a single crack was heard in the small garden and far away  ...reaching the minds of beings from realms foreign. The offspring of time and space had come to this world, of past and present, of V'oss and Heord, of spirit and flesh  ...and as it punched through the remnants of the egg all could witness how mighty cute she was, with her big silver eyes and bright silver scales, her fragile tail and tiny white wings. Re'Ni gasped and almost tipped over, then begun sobbing out of overwhelming joy, hesitating but finally touching the baby drake with her snoot and giving it a lick.
18
International Events / Re: Xefr's Adventures: Existential Crisis
« Last post by guest28 on April 02, 2018, 11:18:40 pm »
Myst was silent for a few moments as his mind carefully processed the request, and Cui could tell that his mind had completed its task when his scales started turning as red as Ezron's, even though Cui had no idea who that particular Dragon was. The Shard tried to speak, and failed. So he tried again, this time succeeding, "I... I will! I'll marry you, Cui!" He looked away for a moment, and then looked back. Suddenly he seemed a lot more calm, as he had managed to slip that mask back on now, "Ahem... So yes, I accept! I will gladly marry you, Cui. That's the natural thing to do when you love somebody, and want to spend time with them, right? And so let's not waste any of our limited time, and go about making that marriage official. Now, if Qoatl are anything like Golden Dragons, then we both know that marriages are finally sealed by... Oh my..." His voice trailed off, and one could almost visualize the mask slipping off as Myst remembered how the Dragons of Heord sanctified marriage, and he once more got incredibly nervous. His tail began to swish about rapidly like it had done before.

-

Xefr sighed as Caprima disappeared. He didn't share her conviction in this regard. He may have seen Caprima's true form, or at least what he was pretty sure was her real form, and knew the truth about what she was, or at least believed he did. But none of that made him see Forbidden in any less of a terrifying light. He simply had to hope this went well.
Caprima, arriving in the cage, could see that there was no Forbidden to simply be in front of, for he was all around. There was no eyes that leaked, for the entire cage was filled with the leakage. This red mist swirled around in the cage, now directing itself to enclose itself around Caprima's form. It did not touch her, but formed itself into a sphere around her. In the brief moments before there was nothing but the mist in sight, she could see outside the Cage, where Guardian was doing battle with another Dragon made of this mist, and Guardian appeared to be winning. Regardless, when Forbidden did speak back to Caprima, two black eyes appeared in front of her, and his dark voice was lined with poison in every word, "So very confident, so self assured... How very different from my brothers. Well, not really. You are quite a bit like Myst, who lives a lie,  you merely project that lie onto others as well. A masterful forgery. But let us not mince words, and let us lift the veil. I have been watching you carefully, ever since you came aboard this cursed ship. I know so much more than you may ever expect. In fact, why speak in this tongue, when I know your true language? Allow me to speak to you in the way of your kind..."
The mist broke, and started culminating into a shape. Taking new colors and form. The end product was a black sheep, yet it was slightly disformed, like there was another animal underneath. This was cemented by the fact that when it opened its mouth, it let out a menacing howl, like that of a wolf who had lost its pack. And then, it just grinned, revealing its menacing predatoral teeth. Forbidden felt that this last touch would ensure Caprima got the message of what he meant.

-

Tec smiled and chuckled, visualizing himself as the "sexy concubine" standing at Queen Re'Ni's side. Hardly the worst existence one could have. However, before he could join Re'Ni or give a response, he too was overcome with shock once he realized what Re'Ni had actually said. He put his paws on her shoulders and said, "First step, calm down! Relaxing will allow the egg to come out more easily. Second step, lie down in a safe area! And third step, stay calm! I'll do all the panicking for you! But I can also do other things to help!"
19
International Events / Re: Xefr's Adventures: Existential Crisis
« Last post by guest9 on April 02, 2018, 09:19:41 pm »
Cui smiled at Myst for his optimism  ..she used to be an optimist herself before, but unfortunately she knew a lot about the universe now and all those hidden truths she had vowed to never talk off were torturing her soul. The blue Qoatl took her natural form, she seemed far more serious and grown up in her tone than she usually was "We might not have as much time as we think, so we better make what remains of it worth it   ..in a proper and official way  ..I may seem a bit easy at times  ..but I'm a proper Qoatl lady and warrior! So, will you marry me?"

-

Caprima seemed to not be surprised by the outbursts of darkness; she recognized the feelings surpassing the area immediately, as she herself had felt those feelings before and knew very well what was their cause and source. A frail familiar whale sound was heard for a moment from out in space, Caprima just nodded to it and then the old capricorn gave off a subtle sooth smile to Xefr while her eyes remained in their despicable blooded vampiric form, not really bothering to change them back "No, I won't stay here. In fact I think it's high time to meet the second most important concentration of your old soul's emotional being. This meeting has been postponed enough ...don't worry, this shard is not most of what you are my child and I will prove it. You are much, much more than what you think." She joined her palms and dematerialized in a thin purple cloud, only to materialize within forbidden's cage, right in front of him, smiling with her eyes closed as if she was meeting with an old acquaintance ...most probably due to the aura of emotions reminding of herself "Hi Xefr. Or have you thrown that name of late to forget who you are, like I did?" she seemed to be entirely calm and peculiarly; genuinely glad to meet the "lost" shard. As she opened her eyes they were leaking the exact same bright red aura Forbidden's eyes did.

-

As Re'Ni and Tec reached back to their home, the tired dragoness silently approached one of the garden's fountains to lick some water {"Strange Day. Re'Ni first time correct mistake... perhaps should not. Self could take over Heord easily  ...rule with Tec as self's sexy concubine, but instead just turned stupid blue Valx back to time. Very tired  ...think lie down here and lay egg, then sleep."} she calmly closed her eyes and turned around in search for a good spot, being too tired to realise what she had just said and was about to do  ...as she lied down and closed her eyes she suddenly rose her head back up fully awoken and bearing a terrified and worried expression after realising she was truly going to lay the egg ...her tail shaking as it always did in those emotional levels {"T-t-tec!  ..is  ..is t-t-time! What self do? What if egg crack? What if hatchling scales is silly color?  ...like fuxia! Fuxia scales get mocked! Ahhhhh!"}
20
International Events / Re: The Freedom War
« Last post by guest121 on March 29, 2018, 02:43:17 pm »
Though the atmosphere was humid with the ashes of the once expansive camp, the cool mountain air chilled everything sufficiently. Yet, sweat poured down Xander’s neck and from his bodily cavities, drenching him in a solution of salty fluids. He attempted to firmly grasped the metal protrusion that erupted from Gwen’s chest, the jagged edges digging waves of pain into his palms, his profuse sweating hindering his efforts. He tried yanking once, his hands slipping on the now slick object, unable to find purchase despite its roughness. He tried again, this time placing his hands closer to the base of the object, yanking upward with his full, though exhausted, might. His neck bulged with the strain, his hands sliding upwards still, until something gave with a wet, disgusting squelch that unsettled his stomach. With a final pop, the metal object escaped from Gwen’s chest, Xander’s expelled force causing him to fall upon his rear onto the rough, metal chassis of the burned wreck of a helicopter, indubitably bruising his tailbone for the next few, sore days. For a moment, a brief, calming moment, nothing occurred. Had he succeeded? Had he saved her life? Thank the gods, she might- and then it began. A jetstream of coagulated bloody erupted from her chest, a fresh spring geyser newly uncorked by thawing grounds, staining the surrounding landscape. Xander leapt upwards, thrusting his hands into her chest, attempting to stem an unstoppable tide with sheer willpower. ”No, no, no!”, he cried to himself, as he began to taste iron in every last one of his pores, his chest and arms near instantly painted crimson red, hot fluids seeping underneath his grasping fingernails. But there was nothing to be done. As the tide ebbed, Xander fell backward once more, squelching as he sat upon his posterior, droplets of salty water trickling down his face, mixing indiscriminately with the solution of bodily fluids that now formed a small lake upon the ground, lost, gone, forgotten.

”XANDER! Is everything alright?!” Henry shouted as he rounded the corner of the debris field, ”Atvulf came and got-“. He stopped abruptly, the words caught in his throat. One hand rose to cup his mouth.

”They just around that there corner, keep movin’ you f*ckin’ oaf,” Atvulf pushed his way past the immobile Henry, needlessly shoving an elbow into his gut. ”Ye two still a‘right, Xander? Look, we were talking-,“ Atvulf nearly copied Henry in his movements as he observed the burned mechanical husk in which the gruesome scene had unfolded.

”The f*ck?!,” Atvulf whispered hoarsely, something caught in his throat. ”But.. it was only-“ he turned and wretched upon the ground nearby, an assorted blob of various half-digested chunks adding to the mosaic of debris in an almost impressionistic pattern.

For several unnerving moments, no one moved or spoke, save for the odd cough erupting from Atvulf as he attempted to clear the acidity from his throat. Then Henry moved forward, pulling off his police uniform jacket, painted in mud and odd scratches, the golden shield embroidered upon the upper right breast pocket still clearly visible, and laid it upon the bloody corpse of the women he had never known.

”You…. You two go back. Make sure the others are setting up a proper camp. Tell the others …. Tell the others I’ll be late,” Henry spoke softly, his lips barely moving.

Neither Atvulf nor Xander spoke as they maneuvered their way back towards the front entrance of the graveyard of misery.

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The clearing was set. Though the debris field-the former DERA camp-still largely surrounded them on all sides in spite of their attempt to extricate themselves from its permeating field of death, the survivors had done a fair job in clearing out much of the wreckage, save a few scraps of loose paper goods that lay strewn atop the rock and dirt ground. They had managed to salvage a few odd tents for their overnight use, including a larger trademarked DERA command tent, its overly larger sigil along one side blatantly insulting the huddled survivors in all its worthless glory. Someone-Xander knew not who-had started a bonfire, burning whatever dry flammable scraps that had been nearby. 

“Henry’s not back yet, eh?” Atvulf murmured, the chilly air leaving his breath vapor visible.

Tsubaki shook her head lightly. She had been staring into the darkness that now obscured the majority of the wreckage for several hours now, sitting atop an abandoned milk carton, searching aimlessly.

”You reckon we need go back, Xander?” Atvulf replied. His head dropped as he looked back into the red, roaring flames of the bonfire. ”I…”

He looked upwards towards the rest of the survivors. ”Sure ain’ gonna do no one no good sittin’ here doing squat. Most of you get sleepin’ ASAP, we gots us another hike-downwards, but still a hike-on the marrow. Ain’ no use wasting ye energy. Night yall.”

Most of the survivors obeyed the commandment, pairing up and retreating to the various salvaged tents. Save for a handful of dim murmurs, conversations beyond Xander’s caring, only the roar and crackling of the flames, the odd heavy breath, and the unseen settling of the distant debris around the valley like rustling of tree branches in a heavy wind permeated the night silence. Atvulf, Tsubaki, Xander, Mikey, and some random man whom Xander swore was pissing, remained the only individuals awake-if just barely.

”Mikey, you to. Get sum sleep.” Atvulf hoarsely whispered.

”Man, no way. You up, I’m up. Bros for life. ‘sides, I… nah. Imma stay up.”

”Look, be needin’ someone to keep watch later. Don’t trust no one but you to watch my back Mikey, so git some proper sleep. I’ll git you up in a few hours.”

Mikey sighed, and nodded his head. ”Sure man, ye know best eh. You take care. Nigh’

”Nigh’ Mikey.”

Atvulf exhaled deeply, staring intensely into the fire as if he could expunge some deeper meaning from it. He turned to Xander.

”Mind if I play sum sh*t? I ain’ gonna stare out into who knows what waitin’ for Henry like sweet t*ts there all night. Here, look.” Henry walked over and grabbed something from a pile of supplies that had accumulated from the survivors foraging, rummaged for a bit, before walking back to the bonfire.

”Mikey found this sh*t in sumbodies tent, damn fine this beut is,” Atvulf conversed with Xander whistling gently, ”Mikey might only got one oar in the water, but his hearts in the right place. He knows I like a good guitar just like I like my women, eh?” He lazily strummed the strings as if caressing a soft kitten. The wooden, lacquered guitar had been carefully polished with care, no dents or scratches to be seen anywhere amongst its body, a stark contrast to the survivors. ”She strung nice and properly to eh? Let me give you a little jig.” Atvulf began to play and sing softly, his deep, guttural voice softened:

”Little bird, little bird fly through my window,”
Little bird, little bird fly through my window,
Little bird, little bird fly through my window,
And buy molasses candy.”


Atvulf exhaled triumphantly. ”Ain’ done that one in a while. Sh*t, lemme think, next verse goes – ‘Fly through my window, my sugar lump, Fly through-“. He stopped as he observed Tsubaki stand up off her milk-carton pedestal sharply. He gently place down the guitar onto the ground, and pulled from his waistline a shining metal handgun.

”Sh*t, who out there? Come out into the light!” Atvulf shouted authoritatively.

A dark figure emerged from the infinite wall of blackness, slowly becoming more defined like a siren emerging from the abyssal depths of the ocean. Sprawled across its arms a wrapped package laid draped. Tsubaki moved forward as if to embrace the unknown figure, but stopped abruptly, air trapped in her throat.

”Just me Atvulf, don’t shoot. I’d rather not have to pull a bullet from my chest tonight,” Henry replied.

Atvulf sighed deeply, his hands falling back to his sides, relieved. ”Took ye long enough eh? What took ye so frackin’ long?”

Henry stepped into the illuminating bonfire life, its flickering flames etching the disturbing package he carried. ”It took me a while to find something to wrap Gwen in, and then I got somewhat lost as night fell. Sorry. But I’m here now, everything alright with everyone?”

”Who the hell is Gwen?”

”Seriously?”

”Ye, seriously, who- oh…”

”Yeah.”

Atvulf stared directly at the bundle draped across Henry’s arms, as if his piercing eyes could examine the prone figure through the mismatched wrappings. ”Ye didn’t need do that. Waste of time,” he muttered to him.

Henry looked downward towards his burden, ”No, it needed to be done. No one should be-“ he looked around towards the enduring blackness of the night”- left to rest in all this. It’s not right.”

”Sure. Whatever you say, man.”

Henry sighed deeply, his breath visible and billowing in the night air. He shivered slightly, before moving to the far side of the camp to lay down his package, his boots crunching on the loose paper debris underfoot. He returned to the bonfire with his arms crossed, drawing a discarded crate to sit upon.

”So,” Henry began, ”how was everyone’s haul? Did we get anything useful?”

Atvulf shrugged nonchalantly. ”Alright I reckon, few knives and such. And them tents everyone’s in. This here gun’s not bad, only one round though.”

”Any food, water, or medicine?”

Again, Atvulf shrugged. ”Not a lot out there eh, lota dry goods from them gov folks but varmits got into most of it. I’d reckon most of these peeps be high cotton arses, ain’ bring sh*t they’d need. We salvaged what we could, but it was piddly squat. Maybe nuf to last us another two days?”

Henry sighed deeply. ”That’ll have to do I suppose. Guess we’re going to have to head back down the mountain tomorrow.”

”I reckon. But where the f*ck we gonna go? Some hood with ye homies eh?” Atvulf chortled to himself.

”Hrmm… you remember what those officers said at the crossing?” Henry spoke slowly, attempting to draw the memory from the recesses of his memory. ”Didn’t they say there was a military base nearby? Er, Aienclad Aviation Base right?”

”Aye, not a bad idea sooty! Maybe you’ve got sum brains up there after all!”

Henry rolled his eyes. ”Sure. We can warn those officers to. Maybe they can come with us. There’s a possibility that those creatures that attacked us might sweep through here looking for survivors later on.”

Atvulf snorted at this option. ”Man, f*ck them. If I had my druthers I’d punt their skinny arses straight into the moon. Let the metalheads have their way with em’.”

”The moon….”

”What? You loosin’ it?”

”The moon. Look up.” Henry’s jaw gaped open as he looked skyward. The rest of the quad around the roaring bonfire looked towards the heavens in turn.

”Oh… sh*t.”

Though the sky was not particularly clear, as smoke from the blistering bonfire and the smoldering debris around them lightly obscured their vison of the stars, the moon shone brightly on the night sky, a clean round circle of light amongst the oblivion. Or rather now two uneven half-circles, if not more debris. The moon have been shattered into, as if some immortal beast had cleaved the heavenly body with one mighty swipe of their indomitable sword, shattering the once beautiful angelic child of the stars.

”Why didn’t we see it until now?” Henry whispered.

”Never did have no good reason to look directly at it till now. Musta happened sometime today though.”

Henry looked back downwards at the other compatriots. ”Do we even have a chance of surviving this?”

Tears welled in the corners of Tsubaki’s brown, slanted eyes, vanishing nearly as quickly as they formed as the sweltering bonfire scorched the last vestiges of dreams from the corners of their souls.

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Pain.

Sharp pain.

Xander had rolled upon his side in his sleep, and now some irritating pebble underneath awoke him from his slumber, a rough thorn prodding him to action. He steadily rose from whence he lain, one hand out alongside the tent wall balancing him, the rough canvas frigid to the touch. Though he had slept upon the rough crag terrain atop but a few layers of salvaged cloth, he had slept well that night, the buzzing in his head from yesterdays strain of activates absolved for a time. Perhaps. In any case, the morning was afoot, and Xander could hear activity outside.

”Git ur **** up Xander, ain’t this ruckus wake ye from ye sack yet?” someone called from beyond.

Xander groaned, opening the tend flap, and stepped out back onto the mountain valley, stretching towards the heavens as he stood fully vertical, a strained grimace etched upon his face. With the morning sun arisen, Xander could once more see the graveyard sea and the chaos of which it embodied. However, the musk of death that had permeated the frozen wasteland a day prior was gone, swept away by the rapid tidal strength of billowing mountain gusts.

”Most of the supplies have already been packed Xander, just a few more things to go. We let you sleep in a bit, but do you mind grabbing my pack for the trip downward once you’re ready? Thanks.” Henry called from the other side of the clearing.

Xander started towards the somewhat distant voice, his boots crunching upon the coarse, gravel ground, each step tender and uncomfortably raw from the previous days exercise upwards. As he arrived by Henry, he grabbed his heavy load, nearly buckling under the excess weight, hefting it upon his sore shoulders, straps digging fresh trenches of misery upon him.

”Another day of misery” he thought to himself.

Henry turned towards the rest of the group, having located and lifted his morbid hall from the night prior. ”Alright, everyone ready? Let’s get moving!”

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The trek back down the winding mountain trail, in spite of the countless abandoned vehicles continuing to litter and obscure their path ahead, was considerably less strenuous than the previous days climb, though a few of the survivors took liberty with their newly acquired gravity and collided with those ahead on occasion, much to their irritation. Henry to, continued to forge a path downward ahead of the pack, a slightly bent metal spade caked in dried, brown mud continuously bouncing of the back of his legs as he walked though he payed little mind to the discomfort or the future rash he invited, the package he bore shaking with each successive step forward occupying his attention fully.

As they nearly cleared the last of the cemetery of forgotten assorted vehicles, Henry paused, looking outward from an outcrop towards the valley just below.

”Here is good” he called to the others.

”Eh? For what?” Atvulf replied, his arms crossed.

Wordlessly, Henry ignored him as he placed his bundle upon the earthen ground, and shouldered the spade from his back, placing the tip into the soil, and began to excavate the outcrop, neatly piling the shifted soil into a pile alongside.

Atvulf snorted. ”This really necessary? She dead, she don’ give a f*ck where you put her skinny ass. Just dump her in a car or something.”

Henry refused to look him directly in the face, barely tilting his head towards him. ”This is the spot.”

Atvulf shook his head in disbelief. ”I ain’t waiting for ye, Imma finish walking and take a rest. Any of ye who want to come with better. Van’s got air conditioning eh?” He started down the mountain path once more. Mikey was the first to move after his cousin a moment later, sparking most of the other survivors to follow closely behind, until only Xander and Tsubaki remained watching Henry burry his burden.

Tsubaki moved to help, graving an abandoned ice scrapper from the dashboard of one of the deserted vehicles, but before she could move her first mound of earth, Henry placed a firm hand upon her shoulder. ”It’s alright,” he spoke softly to her, ”I’ve got this.”

Tsubaki place down her makeshift trowel, and took her place silently alongside Xander, her eyes downcast, examining in needless detail a smooth stone that lay just beyond her sneakers.
Henry sighed in exhaustion. ”Eh, I think that’s good enough right?” He hoisted the cloth wrapped package from the ground, before gingerly placing it into the newly formed ditch. He wiped his sweat and dirt caked hands alongside his pants, doing little to cleanse them.

”Anyone want to say a few words or something? I… I  don’t really know what to say. Is there anything right to say?” Henry mummed.

Tsubaki bent down and grasped the pebble she had been examining, and placed it into the folds of her jacket, straightening upright once more.

Choice 7 (Strength: Mild)

A: Speak a few words for her. No one deserves silence, in spite of how little you know about her.

B: Say nothing. You have nothing to say, is it not enough that you’re here?
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