Story Robin Archive

Week 4

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Week 3

“Steady as she goes,” Captain Leigh said as she stood from her chair in excitement at what lay before them. Her crew had been given a most important mission and she was not going to fail. It was her first mission and it showed in her eagerness as she put her hands on the shoulders of the dirigible pilot. It was not the first time she did this to Hansen and he knew it would not be the last, so he learned to deal with it as her fingers dug into him.

One of the crew members in charge of ensuring the safety of ‘the package’ shouted over the intercom system for everyone to hear. “Captain, we’ve got company!”

All eyes turned towards the Captain as she calmly released Hansen and made her way towards the back of the deck. She looked up as she heard a strange scraping sound coming from the containment room. “Indigo, find out what the hell is going on up there!”

A man with three eyes, two of them were milky white, but the third positioned dead-center on his forehead remained unblinking as he stood from his station and banged his head on the ceiling. Gorgan’s were known for being rather tall, unfortunately at a paltry eight feet and a few inches, Indigo was considered a useless runt and sent to work beneath a human. He hated taking orders from them, especially a woman, and showed his anger by choosing to never utter a word while he was on board the HH Sydney.

Captain Leigh did her level best to ignore Indigo’s obvious hatred of her as she approached the back window. Her breath caught on her words at what she saw. E.L. Drayton™

Swooping down around her ship were Magpies. Large half mechanical birds mottled in black and white, they were the bane of dirigibles everywhere. Fabricated in the same labs that produced Gorgans, some said they were the last laugh of Joschka before he destroyed his research. They were also said to be preternaturally intelligent and the companions of pirates.


She strode back to the front of the deck, and hit the comm button.

"Hail to the topside. Pirates are on the way. All Hands, on alert!"

For the first time since they had left the docks she cursed the lack of weapons on board. The ship was ostensibly on a science mission, delivering the package to a remote outpost far in the wilderness, and science ships were always unarmed. No matter the danger, they maintained neutrality even in contested skies.

They were nothing like the heavy cruisers she had trained on, but no matter. Pirates would not be why Captain Vittoria Bala Leigh failed her first mission.

She took a deep breath ready to deliver orders to Hansen, when above them, the containment room emitted another scraping sound. wirenth

The ship may not have had weapons, but that didn't mean it was completely defenseless. The top crew would be scrambling for the wire nets, now, and if things got too dire, she supposed she might be able to talk Dr. Veritas into using some of the more interesting alchemical substances she was brining to restock the outpost labs. Theoretically, they were solely for use in experiments. Like the corrosive green paste that stripped flesh from bone, useful for cleaning and preparing dead specimens. Theoretically, it wasn't a weapon, and no one would ever dream of using it as such. Theoretically.

The scraping grew louder, and was followed by a loud series of metallic pings and thunks followed by loud swearing. What on earth was going on up there?

"Captain, this is Airman Jones. We have a new problem," the speaker said with a slight crackle.

She picked up the com, and asked with a slight tone of annoyance, "Is it more important than preparing for pirates?"

"Uh...the razor wires are stuck to the walls of the containment area," the voice replied.


"I have no idea. They flew out of our hands as we were moving them to topside. Nearly took Jenkin's arm off. How should we proceed?"

"Is Indigo--"

"Saw him go inside before it did--whatever it's doing. I think he's fine?"

There was another loud, long metallic scrape. And another. And another. Then loud banging, and a distinct wet CRACK!

She looked over to Hansen, who nodded at her. Her expression filled with determination. "First Mate Hansen, take the controls. I'm going up." see zyanas

The crew watched her leave the main deck by a ladder which led to where the package was kept. Each rung was cold as she winced, not from the touch but, from the continuous scraping coming from above.

“Captain, quick, Dr. Veritas wishes to speak with you.” The Captain stopped climbing. A few more rungs and she’d be clear of the ladder,  her feet on firm ground. Instead, she rested her head on a rung and weighed her options of escape. There was none.

She hoped to be the one to reach out to Dr. Veritas first. At least then she’d have the upper hand and confidence needed to sway him to her plan. But it was too late, she knew her idea to use the alchemical substances as their best line of defense was lost.

“Captain?” Airman Jones asked again, worried that she may not be herself…again…

“Yes, yes. I’m fine, Jones.” She resumed her climb and as she approached Dr. Veritas she saw that streak of purple hair from a distance. The color was a stark contrast to his aging white hair and lab coat, as was intended. It was a sign of seniority and distinction. It meant he had a higher rank than Captain Leigh and she hated every purple strand. “Dr. Veritas, I trust you’ve been made aware of our predicament? I suggest—“

“Your suggestions are irrelevant to me, Vittoria,” he said, a smirk on his face. He knew she hated being called by her first name. “You’re to do nothing to disturb the package or my many years of research with your cockamamie ideas. You won’t screw this up for me. I remember how you handled the last mission. Decades worth of research ruined.”

“Yes, but the package was delivered safely. I believe Lord Commander Phillips thanked me personally for my efforts.”

“I know. Trust me, the entire fleet knows. That’s not why I’m calling. There’s something you need to know about the package. Whatever you do, don’t—.” The line went dead as did most of the machines on board.

Airman Jones and Captain Leigh stared at each other in silence as the first warning shots rang out. college essay common application E.L. Drayton™

As the craft shook with turbulence, Captain Leigh was plundered into darkness, left standing there, alarmed by the sounds of the fire and personnel rushing to and fro. "What in God's name was that?" She cursed, grabbing onto the railings adorning the wall. The lights flickered, as did the intercom on the wall. "Hello? Hello?" She frantically repeated, jabbing the red button, trying to reconnect with the Doctor. "What do you believe the Doctor meant by that?" Captain Leigh mused, turning around and glaring at Jones with a confused expression.

"You said there were Magpies, right? Didn't you mention something about pirates also?"

No, she thought, horrified. They're attacking the ship. "Go tell First Mate hanson to sound alarm level 4! Prepare deterrents, man battle stations and get these damn lights fixed!" She commanded Jones as he scurried off. Captain Leigh knew its location, as did First Mate Hanson and Dr. Veritas.

Step by step she made her way towards Dr. Veritas' lab. Dr. Veritas was a secluded man, kept far from others. His section's paired with the electrical grid that powered the craft, much to his displeasure. When she entered hallway-b3, she was shocked to see the damage that lay before her. Bloody hell, the damn generator is destroyed. That's why the emergency system isn't on. This area contained the workings of the electrical grid, but now there was a massive, gaping hole in the hull of the ship.

She surveyed the damage, but it looked like there was nothing she can do right now. The automated system built into this area was destroyed, as was the main generator.There's no way we're getting that back online, she reluctantly concluded. The only way to turn the emergency system on is to manually reroute the gear switch at the emergency power grid. Fantastic, it's on the other side of the ship.Sheepishly, Captain Leigh headed towards the section that housed the emergency power grid. The same section that also contained the artifact; the anomaly. Havency

“I'm giving the power another go!” Shouted Aaryn, Captain Leigh's first mate, over the sound of alarms and panic of the crew. Come on Captain, I hope you've got the power back online by now. Expecting the familiar rumble of engines blaring to life, he was shocked when all he felt was a rattling jolt that nearly knocked him from his feet.

Aaryn regained his footing, evaluating the situation. “What in the bloody 'ell was that?” His question was answered by quick muffled footsteps coming from the boarding platform directly above the bridge. His face must have shown the terror that he felt, for another crewmate questioned what was wrong. He treated even vocalizing his fears as if not saying it would prevent disaster from being them.

A blank stare on his face, Aaryn replied, “we've been boarded.” It took a few moments to register even in his own mind, finally jumping to action. “Prepare boarding countermeasures! Arm yourselves and seal the doors!”

“But, sir,” the ship's navigator chimed in, “what about Cap…”

“You have your orders, Ensign Jarreth.” He swallowed hard. “Seal the doors.” homework certificate ArthurCole

The sound the doors made when closing was solid and unforgiving. It echoed hollowly in Captain Leigh’s ribcage, bouncing around to the pulse of feet overhead. She continued moving anyway, ducking briskly under the pipes and wires strewn above her.

As soon as she had heard the jolt that was the HH Sydney being boarded, she had taken to the maintenance tunnels, which ran underneath most of the ship’s corridors. It wasn’t proof against being noticed, but it would give her a better chance to get to the emergency power.

Overhead, the ship continued to rattle with the sound of heavy boots, urging her to act quickly. The first step to getting rid of pirates was to get the ship back online.

As she continued towards the other side of the ship, the boots above her faded away. They were headed in the direction of the crew, she realized. Her breath caught and she forced herself to remember the sound of the doors closing, and the grim smiles her First Mates had offered her, the one time she had raised this possibility. They would be fine.

As long as she got the power up.

At the end of the maintenance tunnel, she spotted the hatch to the surface. Lifting herself out, she was faced with the sight of the containment chamber door. In front of it, stood Indigo, barely standing with the help of the wall, only his middle eye still open. The crew assigned to guard the chamber was huddled to one side, splattered with a purple the same shade as Dr. Veritas’s hair.

It was out of her mouth before she could remember her captain’s decorum.

“What happened?” recruitment assignment Wirenth

"'s alive," Airman Jones said, expression haunted. "Did you know it was alive?"

"No," she said through gritted teeth, trying to sound a lot calmer than she was. "Somehow the good doctor neglected to mention that."

"It ate the razor wires," he said, "and some of the doors. We tried to stop it when it went towards the generator, but..." He glanced over at Indigo, who just shook his head, mute as ever.

In the distance, there was a strange, half-mechanical noise, a mix of bones snapping and metal grinding against itself. A cacophony of Magpie caws and screeches soon joined the noise.

"Well, at least that fixes one problem," Captain Leigh sighed. "I need to get our generators back up.  Jones, get Indigo and anyone else injured to Doctor Veritas. Watch for the pirates and see if you can't use some of the scrap to defend yourselves. The doctor was in his lab, at least before the coms went dead. The least he can do for us is his actual job."

"Will you be alright, getting the generators up on your own?" Jones asked.

She sighed. Not even her own crew believed she was capable any more. "Yes. Now go."

There was a sudden, loud, rhythmic thunk, coming from the bridge. The pirates were ramming down the door. see url zyanas

Captain Leigh managed to block out the sounds of her crew as they were being attacked by pirates. They would thank her later when she got the power back on line. She found the exactly what she was searching for. The damage wasn’t as bad as Airman Jones made it out to be. All that was needed was a flip of a switch and instantly everything was back on. The familiar humming sound the machines made gave her a sense that she could overcome whatever came next.

The door burst open and she found herself face to face with a man who looked like a pirate.

“Ye be dar Cap’n of dis here dirigible?” he asked, getting up close to her face. She could smell alcohol on him so thick she nearly gagged. Not wanting to seem rude she took a few steps away from him before answering.

“I am the Captain, sir. And who might you be?”

He hitched up his pants that were nearly falling from their size being a bit too large and his lack of a proper belt. Squaring his shoulders to give an air of pride in what he was about to say he was stopped by the sound of scraping that he could not quite locate. “Aye, what be dem noises I’m ‘earin’? Ye ain’t got critters crawlin’ around dis here contraption ‘ave ye?”

His English left much to be desired but she understood him enough and a smile crept across her face as she realized there might just be a way out of this situation for her and her crew. E.L. Drayton™

It just might work. "Er..", she stammered, peering at the man before her.

"Me name be Cap'n Linley," he said with a confident smirk. "And for the time bein, dis me ship now." Captain Linley spoke with broken english to her in the open door, accompianied by several men clad in garmets that were dirty, tattered and soiled. All men lacked most of their teeth, but Captain Linley had a full set if glistening, golden teeth.

She remembered the cube containing the object, or whatever it was. It was clearly covered up as not even she knew about it. When she entered the containment room from the bow, the cube was on the opposite wall beside the door that is now behind her. Perfect, she thought as she formulated a plan. Perhaps now they can see why they made me Captain. Although clumsy, Captain Leigh is a tactical genius.

With one last look at this hideous man that stood before her, she kicked the lever that turned the power to a bent position with an awful crunch, breaking it off, suprising the intruder. She spun backwards and ran, determined to confront this pirate captain with her now curious specimen contained. With the backup now on, she bolted for the nearest comm. There it is! She wailed internally, catching up to the comm with a limp.

Pressing the illuminated red button at the bottom, she commanded the scientists in the containment room. She herself didn't know if this would work, but she had to try. There were billions of dollars worth of research here and she can't lose it. "Release it! Open the cube!" She commanded, unsure of herself. see Havency

Captain Leigh stood as if frozen in place for nearly a minute waiting for an unknown reaction of the Cube initiating.


Their only chance of survival came and went. Though she was unsure what exactly it did, her trust had rest solely in the Cube and what its power offered. So much for billions of dollars. So much for power. With nothing else to do, Leigh decided to run toward the armory. Unfortunately it ran directly through the path of the invaders. It was intended to be easy access for when small squads left on assaults from the landing bay, but apparently hadn't thought of the event of them being invaded. The only positive thing was the fact that it was locked with a key that only she or her first mate, Aaryn, had on them.

She'd have to find another way, but figured she'd cross that bridge when she got there. First, she ordered herself, get as close as you can. Then you figure out how to slip by them. Her true hope was in her bridge crew coming to her rescue with the light hand weapons that were stored in the bridge, but she also knew the strict orders she had given them. She was on her own, she knew. ArthurCole

The term armoury was bit of a misnomer. The HH Sydney was originally a middle weight dirigible, for quick mobilization and emergency supply runs. The armoury, being close to the landing bay, had been both storage unit and mobilization center, and it now contained some of Dr. Veritas's more valuable chemicals, though the truly dangerous ones were still stored in his labs. Trapped in his stingy hands. No true human being would keep what might save the crew to themselves. Even though it didn't have weapons, the armoury would have enough supplies to make even a science run deadly. And she would use them. No matter the good Doctor's objections.

As she creeped closer to the maintenence hatch (and towards the pirates) she felt a vibration begin to run through the ship. She paused, slowly turning around, to see... Indigo. His form seemed to blur and shake, as if a giant hand was  waving through his outline.

Behind him, she could see the door to the containment chamber swinging open and closed, the cube nowhere to be seen.

"Indigo," she hissed "What are you doing here? I thought you were headed to the medbay."

Indigo was slumped into the wall and hissed when she edged closer. His blood dripped onto the floor, far too viscous for even a Gorgan. She resisted the urge to gag, and edged towards him, wary of the pirates ahead.

"Indigo. You have to tell me what's wrong." When he refused to rouse, she sharpened her tone. "Indigo. As captain I need to know why you've disobeyed your orders to head to the medbay. Tell me why."

This at last seemed to clear his head. With a haunted shudder he raised his face in her direction, all eyes open. "You've released it. It approaches. It will not be confined to-" get Wirenth

He choked on his words as all of his eyes grew wider with fear, a fear the Captain had never seen a Gorgan and especially Indigo show before. They are known for showing no emotions or fear and although she knew his feelings towards her, a female captain, she liked the idea of having him on board should something go wrong. But faced with his eyes stuck in a state of fear the last thing she wanted to do was turn around.

She was unsure what worried her more, the stench or the sound it made, but she had a job to do and a crew to save. She reached slowly into her pocket, hoping her movements didn’t cause whatever was behind her to go on the defensive, and removed a mirror. Her hands shook uncontrollably as she held it out in front of her and for a moment saw herself, frazzled and paler than she’d ever been. She took a deep breath and gulped, mouth as dry as the desert, before shakily turning her mirror to look behind her.


Whatever left the cube was no longer there and she quickly realized while it left its stench behind, having been there before her, the sound she heard was coming from herself. She felt a panic attack coming on, much like the last time, only faster and more unstable. She reached for her heart and felt for the metal plate, the all too familiar beeping started.

“Oh no, not again. Please, not again.” She backed up into the corner of the room and sank down to the floor as Indigo regained enough strength to approach her. “Indigo, make it stop,” she begged.

He looked down at her with a wicked grin on his face. “I’m afraid I cannot. It’s already begun.” He calmly walked towards the armory and punched in a code just above the door handle, click, and the door swung open on its own.

The Captain watched from her seated position as he gathered together vials and bottles, implementing her scheme she realized, but as she looked down at her hands changing and chunks of her hair falling around her shoulders she wondered, who would he use it on?  source site E.L. Drayton™

“Ensign,” Aaryn called, eyes fixed on the door, “can you navigate us closer to the ground slowly without the engines active?” He could literally feel his heart beat in his neck.

A long pause. “I may be able to if the weather conditions are in our favor. It’s going to take some calculations and some real tact, but I think if I…”

“I don’t care how you do it, but it’s our only hope. Make sure that you do.”

“Yes, sir.” Aaryn could hear the bleeps of his navigational board before him as his fingers danced over its surface. It was fortunate that its battery was self-contained and did not rely on the power from the main power core.

Lightning cracked in the sky, illuminating the bridge like a massive fire for a moment’s time, burning the still image in his mind, as thunder shook the entire hull. The storm had moved in quicker than anticipated, though they didn’t expect to lose the entire engine, either. Had they continued without incident, perhaps they would have cleared the swirling clouds and rampant weather, but now they were in the thick of it. They had one hope to survive this invasion. Down in the loading dock, there were parasuits, though Aaryn knew there weren’t enough for the entire crew. Even if he did get them down there successfully, he would not take one over one of his crew members.

Goodness, I hope Captain Leigh is alright. go ArthurCole

The walls rattled around it as the storm around it increased. The metal-death-bubble was fragile and lifeless beneath its hands. It breathed.

Beneath its feet were beating-heart souls, singing with fear and fury. The metal beneath it bent, as it flexed its toes, rising it its full height, head brushing the ceiling.

It started to take a step, and stopped.


It was going to have the shiny-soul-songs all to itself. The metal-death-bubble was no cage, no wall. It would to devour them.


It was going to tear away the clear-plate-walls and embrace the flash-impact of the storm. It was free. It was-


It was-


It stopped.

Captain Leigh stood in the corrider, head brushing the ceiling, maw agape. And she was still. proposal writing services Wirenth

Indigo, however, was not.

He hurled a glass globe filled with some mysterious shimmering purple-and-green liquid. It missed, landing behind her with a shattering splash.

Something shrieked. She turned instinctively, glancing over her shoulder. Something was—

It moved for her, dodging out of the way of a second globe of liquid, roaring. It backhanded Indigo in the same sharp motion, sending him and his vials flying into the walls. Several broke, bubbling and fizzling against the metal of the wall, and Indigo slumped, dark wet blood oozing from a new head wound. It moved towards him, looking to finish its work, looking to collect a soul-song, hungering for it, after so long—


They stumbled awkwardly as she tried to retreat and It tried to move forward. She managed to catch them, putting her arm out and leaning on the doorway. That was when she saw it again, just in the corner of her eye.

Only the bit that had been splashed was visible, the liquid now glowing a bright fuchsia color where it touched the thing that had been in the cube. Little shards of glass had punctured it in places, and a thick black sludge seeped out.

Perhaps drawn by the ruckus, a pirate rounded the corner, and his eyes went wide. He immediately ran back the way he had come. Impossibly fast, a fuchsia blur followed. There was cursing and shrieks of both human and inhuman. Metal clanged and bones crunched and gunfire rang through her ears, impossibly loud.

She glanced back at Indigo. The medical bay, and Dr Veritas--definitely Indigo's best chance at survival and arguably the only person who knew what that thing Indigo had hit even was--lay in one direction. The bridge--filled with her unarmed crew, who would definitely need her help sooner rather than later--lay in another, through the middle of the fray between the pirates and the invisible thing. It was time to make a choice, and quickly, before the monster within her tried to reassert itself. Zyanas

She felt the hunger from deep within. This was what happened the last time. She was tasked to deliver a package; probably this same one, when fear struck and the hunger took over. Once the change took hold she knew there was only one way to stop it. To put an end to this monster she had become. Her mother warned her this might happen as she too was a monster, but both her parents knew how to control it, the fear. But she refused to live her life the way they did. She couldn’t help but see them as nothing more than cowardly savages.

She had no choice. She’d have to do what she did the last time. She got away with it then, perhaps she’ll get away with it now.

She headed towards the bridge. More bodies.

As she broke through the hatch and squeezed her massive girth through the hole she heard a pirate trying to explain what he saw, but his men felt he must’ve drank too much rum and laughed at him. Their laughter ceased, however, once they saw her. She smiled, and immediately went to work.

Within minutes nothing but bones and skulls remained of everyone on the bridge. She used one of them to pick her teeth as she felt the hunger dissipating, and she began to change back to her human form.

“I knew it. You are Gorgan.” She turned and saw Indigo standing with his hands behind his back by the hatch. There was nothing she could do about him now, she was already back to normal and the hunger was gone. “Did your parents not teach you how to control it?”

Her eyes grew wide as she realized he behaved the same way her parents had all her life. “You eat vermin?” Her face winced at the thought.

“No, Captain, I eat evil men,” he said, his arm swinging round to reveal the decapitated head of the Pirate Captain, blood dripping from his neck. He held it up high and drank some of the blood. When he was done he tossed it to her. “You should too.”

They both smiled as she looked down at the blood seeping onto her hands and she licked her lips. E.L. Drayton™

The End

Week 2

From the hill above Cyber City, I could see the entire neon skyline, bathed as it was in that toxic lavender haze. As I looked out across the remnants of my home, my gas mask's targeting reticules locked onto something wrong down below that stood out from the rest of the skyline, and I took off down the hill to find out what had invaded my city. [Mod/Ed] Teacat

I slipped back down in the city's underbally, giving chase. Usual targets falter, starting this way or that. This one made a beeline through tangles of piping and biochutes that would have been an impassible rat's nest to some out-of-town looter.

I followed the source west, towards the ocean, through the towering manufacturing district. Hidden by the shadow of a smokestack spewing purple smog, I caught my first glimpse of a massive cargo ship tied up at the dock. She had no containers on deck, no lights in the cabin. But the engine thrummed, and in tall silver letters her name: LAMMERGEIER

My gas mask's system returned negative on a sweep. The source was nearby, but no longer moving. Whoever it was that I had followed, they were waiting in darkness as well. aureline

Quickly, I ducked into the shadows, mixing in with a nearby group of traders. Growing up in the city teaches you how to go unnoticed. I was a ghost to all but the keenest of observers.

I coughed into my hand, splattering purple ooze onto my leather glove. It was my own damn fault, I should have fixed the bloody filter on my mask weeks ago. It's getting harder and harder to find spare parts these days.

Looking between the stands I noticed a crowd was beginning to form in a clearing near the docks. I waited silently for a group of Cybers to pass by me before making my approach.

Stealthfully I pushed through the crowd, their murmurs growing louder as I crept. The sound of a woman's cry quickened my pacing but before I could reach the clearing I felt a large robotic hand clasp down on my shoulder. [Ed] (Evan) H2O Man

I knew the owner of the hand before I saw it. A cyber-cop. I flinched out of habit, then made a conscious effort to stand tall.  "You're human," It said. "We are cordoning this area off," It told me.

I shivered. All lies. What were they hiding? notjacquesmckeown

"Override protocol: November-Charlie-Charlie-One-Seven-Zero-Zero." I said, turning to face the robotic entity the government had put in place to "protect and serve".

I made a mental note to thank Sergeant Pond. She's a sympathizer. A human who still believes in getting back to the way it was. The way before the government let the purple haze, and robots, take over.

I could see the one lens that acted as an eye on the cyber-cop's face refocus as the override initialized. "report." I commanded. A small buzzing noise ended with a piece of paper appearing below the cyber-cops badge.

"Threat level: Red. Female Human birthing. Risk of 'purple haze disfiguration' likely. Action: Segregate and destroy human female and infant."

I left the cyber-cop and pushed through the edge of the crowd. A girl, no older than nineteen wailed into the hazy dockside. "You need to come with me," I said, "You can't do this here, it's not safe." LostandHopeless

The girl looked up at me, her eyes wide and wet. "Get away from me!" she screamed. "You all need to get away!"

So much for what I said, then. I backed up and examined her with my targeting system. Obviously, she wore no gas mask and that in itself was a danger to her and everyone around her. As she thrashed at the cyber-cops attempting to apprehend her, I noticed something else: a bracelet around her wrist declaring her as a passenger of the Lammergeier. There were no results for the name on the cybernet; the ship seemed as though it didn't exist, even in spite of its massive physical existence.

Before I could ask her the questions forming in my head, she wailed again, this time louder, more visceral. The systems glowing on my gas mask's lenses flickered. The cyber-cops behind me stuttered, their robotic voiceboxes glitching in a way I'd never heard before. Then came another wail and more intense glitches.

Something told me it wasn't safe for anyone if this girl stayed where she was. She and everyone else would be safer with her back in my hideout - except for me, of course. I pulled out the old cybergun sitting in my holster and shot the gathered cops. Then I grabbed the girl by her wrist, pulled her to her feet, and took off through the scared crowd toward my hideout on the hill. [Mod/Ed] Teacat

I am not much used to traveling with another, and this one did not make it easy. I half-carried, half-dragged the woman in stops and starts the halting path back to my hideout. She had stopped the throat-searing wails, but clutched her belly and hissed with the pain. Pressed close to her, she smelled of sweat, trembled with a fever, and gave off another sweet smell that I could not place.

Overhead, the towering blood-red banners of the Cyberlon hung limp from major city structres. Their sigil, a long, thin, daggerlike triangle balanced on a short, thick line quickened my pace, but gave her pause.

"You're one of them," she croaked, clutching at the dusty, worn folds of my overcoat. The crisp red of the sigil hard worn away from years of a past life, but the shape remained.

"One of the good ones," I replied.

"Not possible," she pitched forward, her face lost in a tangled mess of hair.

My hideout was built into the massive hill that overlooked Cyber City. At one time, the garage had been used to store maintenance equipment for the municpality's streets and sewer system. Now, those machines were rusting out, abandoned, and Cyber City's infastructre wasted away, decaying at the nip and bite of this damn purple smog.

When I got her inside, I removed the gas mask, as the in-unit filtration system lurched, groaning, to life. I turned away from her, wiping my mouth of purple spittle and blood, setting the gas mask for a moment on a stacked crate.

She slumped back on the ratty couch, hands gliding over her swollen belly. I got a look at her then. Her arms, face, and neck did not hear the usual scars or blotches from under-skin body mods -- which every humanoid bore. The wristband, Lammergeier, was my only course as to what I had gotten myself into.

"What do you need?" Ever-practical, I kept my distance and made the ask.

She heaved again, and I saw the lights around us flicker, heard the filtration system sputter with something noisier than just static. "I told you before I-if you have ANY body mods .. you need to move AWAY." aureline

"I wouldn't worry about that" I exclaimed, unzipping my overcoat and laying it on the floor nearby. "I'm all natural baby." The woman stared at me in awe. "But- how could you possibly survive this long in the haze without any kind of augmentation?"

I smirked proudly. "I have my ways."

"Look mister, I don't know who you are but it's not safe to be around me."

I laughed. "Don't worry lady, no one but my closest pals know the location of this hideout."

I guess spoke too soon because right as those words exited my mouth I heard the distinct sound of a pin being pulled from a grenade. [Ed] (Evan) H2O Man

I didn't think; only reacted. Years of training springing to life inside my body, muscle memory screaming through heaving breaths. I grabbed her and threw her behind the couch. Still, she wailed.

It was only then that I realized that the grenade hadn't actually gone off. Not a dud, I quickly realized, but a fake.

If it weren't for the young woman shrieking bloody murder and clawing at my skin, I might have laughed. But I watched her face turn blotchy purple from straining, gulping repeatedly through nausea. I wondered how much interference my meager filtration could handle. Lights, we could do without, but air? notjacquesmckeown

The filtration system roared against the wails of the young woman. Both fighting for life in a world to used to taking it. The lights flickered and then went out. Darkness and silence filled the space around us.

I clicked on my flashlight and turned the beam toward the young girl. Her body was limp and lifeless and I prayed just for a moment that she was dead.

A cry broke the silence. It was a foreign cry and I carefully peaked under the dress of the girl collapsed on my floor. There, in a bloody and steaming pile of purple, laid a baby.

I started to reach for the infant and as my hands felt the warm ooze of a newborn the lady drew a ragged breath and the lights came back on. LostandHopeless

I ripped my hands away as soon as I saw the ooze. That terrible, toxic ooze that ruined my city. Like the cyber-cop had suspected, the newborn had been horribly disfigured by it. It looked more like something you could've seen in the depths of the ocean before it all turned purple. Probably after it turned purple too.

As the girl stirred, I glared at her. "Okay, talk. Where did this thing come from? Why are you the only passenger who came off that ship? Who are you?"

The girl was dazed, exhausted. On one hand, it didn't surprise me after seeing that thing that had come out of her. On the other, I had shot two cops and risked my hideout for her and it. I wanted answers.

Her weak eyes looked into mine. "M-My name is Alleyna. We were sent on find any corner of the world the violet hasn't touched." A heaving sigh interrupted her story. "My boyfriend and I were on that ship. I should've bad our mistake was the first time it kicked...and the lights in our room flickered. Then the crew started going missing, one by one, day by day, until it was just him and I...and then we found that monster onboard."

"What monster?" I gave a reflexive glance toward the newborn abomination. A trick of my eyes made the thing seem bigger than it was a few minutes ago.

"The one that took me," she replied. "Whispered horrible things to me and my baby. I couldn't understand those words, but...I could feel my baby changing with each one." She broke her gaze, her body shuddering. "By the time it let me go, my boyfriend was gone. I was alone. And the ship was already docked. It's wanted me to come back here..."

Still processing her story, I glanced down at the baby again...only to find a puddle of ooze and nothing else. My fingers curled around my gun, my body on edge as I shot around the room in search of that awful thing. It was a newborn; how was it able to get away so quickly? And where could it have gone? [Mod/Ed] Teacat

"It needs to die," I bit off, lunging for my gas mask. I regretted slipping it off, and I regretted my choice of words. Monster or not, this was new life in a harsh world.

With the gas mask on back over my face, the targeting system blinked, taking half a second to come online. There. The newborn was wriggling through the slats of the filtration system, limbs slipping immpossibly through the piping with a sick, rubbery squelch.

I drew my cybergun and fired a stunshot. The newborn gave a trilling, unworldy shriek, but was lost to sight. From the flare of the shock, I saw that it had crawled to the left -- it was in the walls, likely heading to the main impasse just outside, against the hill.

Police instincts to chase were cut short by fist and palm stiking me. Alleyna fell into me with all the strength she could muster, having just given birth. Her hair was wet with sweat, pressed to her face, her eyes wild.

"That is my CHILD!" she shoved me again with both arms, with surprising strength. "Whatever the monster is doing to him -- that's still my CHILD!" aureline

Before I could react to Alleyna's attacks, a distorted voice bellowed from behind me.

"Drop the gun pure-blood or I'll drop YOU where you stand."

I turned slowly over my shoulder to face my aggressor. The man, or woman, stood powerfully. They were suited up head to toe in thick metalic armour. In their hand, a sword pointed directly at my jugular.

I recognized them immediately: the invader I pursued down to the docks!

For a moment I stood in bewilderment. How could they possibly have followed us back here without me knowing? No one sneaks up on me. Ever!

"Drop it! Now!" they repeated, stepping forward.

"I'd do what they say." said Alleyna nervously.

"And why would I do that?" I replied rhetorically.

That's when I saw it: Bright on the chestplate of their armor was the indistinguishable red seal of the Cyberlon.

Damn it! Of all the...

My fist tightened around my gun. This day just went from bad to worse I thought to myself, and I switched my cybergun to lethal mode. [Ed] (Evan) H2O Man

The blade tapped at my skin for emphasis. I braced myself and smacked my wrist against it, felt the sting as I pushed the sword aside. I had just enough time while the invader stumbled, off balance, to draw my gun. notjacquesmckeown

I fired and the intruder fell back hard against the wall of my home. I knew the shot was perfect but Cyberlonian armor is near infallible. The best I could hope for was an unconscious intruder. I spun around quickly and reached out to the young girl.

“We need to leave, now!” I said.

She recoiled away, her face disfiguring in uncontrollable disgust.

“I’m not going anywhere with you!” She yelled.

“You want to wait for him to wake up? I countered, pointing to the lump of metal on the floor. “I can help you get your child back; do you think they’ll be willing to do the same?”

I moved to the door and looked back one last time at the young woman.

“Last chance,” I said softly, “I do not recommend staying here.” LostandHopeless

Alleyna glanced between the fallen invader and me several times before she followed me to the door. "Promise you'll get my child back. Alive."

"I can't promise it'll be alive when we find it," I replied. "But sure." I opened the door and headed out into the night, Alleyna close behind me. "Our best shot at finding your child is to lure the invader away, deal with him, then return when it's safe."

" are we going to lure him away?" she asked.

As she spoke, I led her up to the remnants of an ancient sign on the hill. Each letter was big enough for both of us to hide behind. I motioned for her to duck behind one of them. "We're gonna wait until he wakes up and follows us out. Then I'm gonna get the drop on him, like he got on us. You go back inside and look for your baby."

A breeze blew by us. Alleyna shivered. "I'm sorry you got dragged into this. I never meant...for any of this to happen."

"No one ever means for anything to happen." I stared down at her. "Things have a funny habit of happening regardless."

A stirring from down below stole my attention from her. The soldier was back up and in search of us. My hand on my gun, I steeled myself to lure the invader away. [Mod/Ed] Teacat

We sat in silence as the invader crept closer and closer to us, looking around for any trace of our whereabouts. I quickly scanned the area, determining any places that could provide cover to me. There wasn't much.

The soldier was just feet away now. I was going to have to make do. Locking eyes with Alleyna I raised my hand.

Three... Two... One!

A beeping from my enemies suit froze me in place.

Peaking out from behind the giant 'H' I saw them raise up their bracer and press a few buttons. They seemed to be examining some kind of screen.

After a few seconds the screen flashed off again. "Damn it" the Cyberlon muttered to itself in a distorted voice. There was a moment of silence, then it took off running in the opposite direction.

I hesitated for just a second before bolting after them. Looking back, I saw Alleyna still sitting, too afraid to move. I motioned to her to stay where she was. She would just get in my way.

Determined, I quickened my pacing towards my target. Over the hills they galloped with ease, faster than any human I've ever seen. But not faster than me. Not this time.

They wouldn't escape me again! [Ed] (Evan) H2O Man

Pushing the door open to my hideout felt surreal. I’m still not sure how I survived but I guess at the end of it all it doesn’t matter how you survive, only that you do. I did and now I needed to know what happened to Alleyna while I was gone. Had she stayed safe? Had she found her child? So many questions I still had no answers too.

The lights clicked on and I stood stone still waiting for something to move, something to attack, something to live. I was almost disappointed to find nothing. My thoughts ran to Alleyna and her little child. What happened to them? I missed them as much as I was glad not to have to deal with the consequences of them.

I closed the door behind me and pulled off my mask, rubbing gritty sweat from my face. I grabbed a bucket and started to scrub up the purple ooze and slowly pieced my life back together. LostandHopeless

I didn't know where the soldiers had gone. I didn't know where Alleyna had gone. I didn't know where that thing had gone.

All I knew was that this purple ooze was as hard to clean up as I expected it to be. I had to take a break early, sitting on a nearby chair and resting for just a moment. That's when I heard the soft, whimpering sound of a cry from a back room.

Hoping it was Alleyna, I stood and shot to the back room. It was her, sitting on her knees with her face in her hands. I approached her, my hand on her shoulder.

"Alleyna," I said. "Did you find your child?"

"No..." she said, and leaned aside to reveal a hole in the metal wall the size of a large dog or a wolf. It had been punched and chewed into the metal, a material not even I could make a dent in. "It's gone!"

I stepped back from the hole, processing what this all meant. Behind that wall was an empty crawlspace that connected to the vents that led to the top of the hill. As the implication dawned on me, I heard a crying scream echoing out from the hole in the wall - and all the lights in my hideout flickered out at once, along with my gas mask.

Ripping my gas mask off so my vision wouldn't be shrouded in darkness, I shot back to the main room and the door that allowed me to see out over the city. Nothing yet, maybe it was still on the hill...but as I thought that, I heard loud, thumping crashes followed by something taking flight overhead.

I looked up to see the distorted violet baby flying on wings like a bat down toward the city. Alleyna came up behind me, gasping a terrified gasp. For several moments of aching silence, there was nothing as the creature faded into the lavender night. Then, through the fog, a howling cry that turned into a roar like nothing I’d ever heard before echoed back at us.

As we looked on and listened, every light in the city down below flickered. Once, twice...then Cyber City, once so reliant on its lights and tech, went dark.

That’s when the screams began. [Mod/Ed] Teacat

The End

Week 1

It's my birthday today, and nobody cares except my owls. They're my only companions in this cruel and hateful place. [SRoboMod] ArthurCole

I used to have friends—lots of them.  I've had so many over the years I've been in this forest.  Some big and some tiny.  Though they always grow old, and I stay the same.  The forest has been my home for a very long time.  Don't get me wrong, I love it here, yes I do.  Just, I miss my friends. You see, my friends used to be wonderful.  They were always happy to see me, and I as well.  They've brought me gifts from all over. Havency

We would sit together in the branches and listen for more of our friends to come and join us. “Who’s coming?” We’d call out. “Who? Who?”

Our laughter carried through the forest, shaking leaves loose from the canopy above us. We didn't notice the changes at first. Then again, why would we?  With every fallen leaf the changes intensified. By the time we decided to act, it was already too late.

The only thing we knew for sure was that it wasn't happening to me. LostandHopeless

The teacup, ever so held gently in her hands, began to shiver as the thoughts swirling about her head began to dampen what little optimism she had. Why her? Why did life feel the need, to take what little light she had?

And as her bitter memories began to spark the dangerous embers of wrath...An owl hooted. A peculiar sound, unlike the more vocal, generic avians she found herself in company with--it sounded raspy as the scratch of a record. An ancient, great horned owl, who looked as if it had lived here before she arrived--and would remain, long after she left. An elder.

And her descent into anger was gone, as she allowed herself a smile. As if reminded, that while her situation was bad, perhaps, it would make no sense in dwelling upon it--reaching out with a shrouded hand to give a single stroke to the one owl that had managed to remain alive throughout all the time she had lived here… P-Jay

The owl was a wise old thing that only visits me once a year, during a very special day: my birthday.  The rest of its year is spent abroad, flying and gliding through forests I could never dream of, collecting stories to bring back to me on my special day. In this way, the owl gives me something to look forward to throughout all of my hardships - and in return, I brew a special tea for the owl to drink alongside me.

Our partnership, almost a friendship, has been going for as long as I can remember. I'm glad for it, and always yearn for the new stories brought to me from far and wide. As I stroke the owl's feathers now, I wait with silent breaths for what the owl would tell me this time. [Mod/Ed] Teacat

Around Olithe's (the owl) leg, bore a note. This note didn't look as previous notes had, a neat, tight curl on brilliant white parchment. No. This one was tattered and stained a vile sort of yellow, like that of the eyes a jaundice patient.

I hurriedly unraveled the parchment around Olithe's leg, anxious to read its contents. I gasped at the words written in a shaky script. [SRoboMod] ArthurCole

"I thought you forgot about me," it read, "I sure didn't forget about you".  W-Who wrote this? Olithe has never brought back something like this before. The paper looks like it's been dragged through the mud and aged for years.

Her body was shaking as if she was as cold as the artics.  Eyes wide, her breathing labored; This person, she knew who it was.  Though, she herself couldn't believe it.  "No, he's back. The one who took all my friends. Are you okay, Olithe?" His feathers were ruffled, one or two missing. "I'm so sorry, Olithe," she said, glistening tears running down her face. Havency

Olithe hooted, a comforting affirmation and nudged closer on the branch.

"What are we going to do, Olithe?" She asked, looking deep into the forest home that surrounded her.

Olithe bit her finger without warning. "Oww! what was that for Olithe?" She demanded of her friend, "Why would you do that to me?"

Her tears ran in earnest now and fell on the soiled parchment in her hand. She looked down at the words again, now a blurred mess through her tear filled eyes.

She cleared the sadness from her face and looked at the parchment again. Her tears had washed away the message and her blood had stained the page anew. She'd write back! She pecked a kiss on Olithe's feathered head and thought about her message. LostandHopeless

I closed her eyes, and took a moment, to gather my wits about myself. I must be strong--if only for my friends watching me. To show courage, and confidence in confronting my old penpal.

"Olithe? Would you kindly?" I asked cooly, letting the owl turn it's head, and pluck one of it's feathers. To which I grabbed, and turned the soft, laced feather in my hand, before dipping it into a tree hollow at my side. Once it had taken on the ink, I set the quill-tip to the opposite side of the letter, and began to write.

And as I wrote, I took a moment to realize just how long it'd been since I actually did this--writing, creating soundless words, pictureless visuals. And I smiled. P-Jay

When I began writing, I had imagined my words would be pretty and poetical, a fancified response that hid my dismay. But as I wrote my words between the teardrops and bloodstains, I knew my feelings would be obvious regardless of what I wrote.

So my words became something else. What began as melancholy turned into fury. I didn't forget about you, I wrote in a shaky hand. How could I? You stole my life from me. But why talk in letters? Why don't you come to my forest and I'll show you how well I remember you?

My hands were still shaking as I tied the letter to Olithe's leg. My voice was still trembling as I told my friend to deliver it back where it had come from. My heart was still broken as I watched her fly into the trees once again.

This was turning out to be one of the worst birthdays I'd ever had. [Mod/Ed] Teacat

Worse, even, than last year's. I never thought I'd feel the hurt of you leaving again, on my birthday, no less!

The abandonment that I felt when you said you would not return to me only weeks after you left was... inconceivable in my mind. I always thought you would be there for me. I realize now that you merely used me for my abilities. As the graceful poet once wrote... A searing pain on my leg snatched me from my utterances. Lost in thought, I had tipped my teacup, spilling oolong on myself. [SRoboMod] ArthurCole

The symbol on my leg burned. The black, small infinity symbol etched there from ages ago searing as if hot coals were dropped on it. This can't be coincidental. It has something to do with him, with Aamon.

The symbol only burned when the limit on my abilities was lifted. Cases where the power within me was desperately needed. Closing my eyes, I could feel it coursing through my veins.  This feels incredible, I said, as I opened my eyes and darted from tree to tree. I didn't need to walk or run, climb or jump anymore--I only needed to see the shadows and pass through them, regardless of distance.

Don't worry, Olithe. I'll make sure you're never taken. I am a Watcher, after all. I keep the balance, and Aamon is disturbing it. Havency

I don't know if there's ever been more than one watcher. Inside of me I know that I am the only one. I know that there can only be one and I cannot say if there have been any before me, or if there will be after me. It's like a story you've never been told but somehow feels familiar.

My forest is large and I've become quite fond of it. The animals that stay near the green edges are tender creatures. Deeper in live the animals that make girls scream, deeper still the men scream. It's there in those shadows that I now leap. The pain subsides now as I feel the familiar rush of the ancient power pulsing through my veins. My eyes turn a deep amber and I start to sing an old familiar tune as I rush toward Aamon. LostandHopeless

My song was once a lullaby sung to me by my friends. After they were taken from me, it became something darker, more like a war cry taken up as a memorial for them. They would live on in the lilting words if not the endless woods they died in.

I had no idea where Aamon was. I had no idea if he would even show up in my forest again. All I knew was that I had to be there when he did, and that I had to be ready. Olithe was a fast flyer, after all. It was only a matter of time before I faced a fight I thought I'd never face.

Then, as I neared the very edge of my forest, where the animals were soft and gentle, I felt his presence. It was the man who betrayed me in my darkest hour, the man who sacrificed my friends for powers of his own: Aamon himself. [Mod/Ed] Teacat

It was a presence like dark clouds that brought no rain with them. Atmosphere heavy, yet sterile. I tread lightly over the brush, eyes whizzing this way and that, though I knew their search would prove fruitless. No. Aamon's presence was one of Spirit.

A pressure upon my own spirit told me he was near. Was he hiding, or just waiting for the right time to strike? [SRoboMod] ArthurCole

A twig snapping to the right, a bush rustling to the left. There were many sounds all at once. It sounded like a herd of horses trampling through the forests foliage, then one moment later it left as abruptly as it came. I couldn't stop running. I needed to find him because if he was here, that only meant one thing. Where is he?! I screamed internally. Is this just a game to him?

"Ha ha ha ha ha," came a molevolent and menacing laugh.

"Where are you, Aamon? Come out and face me!" I seethed through clenched teeth. All I could think about was this man. Someone who was once a beautiful and kind soul, but his mind and soul had snapped. You see, he's like me; well, can do what I can. I'm not used to such strenuous work, and my lack of energy was making this clear. Havency

"Little birdy in the bush," he sang, "finally got up off her tush."

"Aamon, stop this now!" she yelled trying to find the source of his voice.

"Sitting all alone with her friends. Always wondering when it ends." Came his reply.

"Let's end this now!" She demanded, her arms open wide hoping to antagonize him into revealing his location.

"Tick tock tick tock goes the silly little clock. It's almost time for our walk."

"I'm not going anywhere with you, you monster. We're going to end this now!" She was furious now, and the anger boiled in her voice.

"Soon my pet, we'll have re-met. And then you can make your challenge bet."

She felt the air rush around her and knew at once that he was headed into the forest. She turned and took chase. LostandHopeless

In one fluid motion, my body distorted as I threw herself into the air, growing feathers, arms stretching to become wings. I knew Aamon had the ability to morph into an owl as well, and was certainly taking advantage.

“Olithe,” I called behind as I swiveled through branches and and maneuvering around massive stumps. “Get the others and bring them into the forest.” He did so. Returning my sight forward, I was unfortunately surprised to find myself caught in a net. No, how could I not have seen this coming?

I struggled to free myself, but I was unable. A thud beside me halted my efforts. Alas, Aamon had me, helpless, in his grasp. [SRoboMod] ArthurCole

Le End

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