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Thread: Nulion's Journey

  1. #1

    Nulion's Journey

    OOC UPDATE: Okay, it's come to my attention that this story has...uh...gotten very long. Yes, I realize that, hehe. It's about 61 pages long on MS Word as of the current date (July 20th, 2007), and so I thought for those who don't want to devote all that time to reading everything, I would post a summary.

    SO FAR... (Warning: SPOILERLICIOUS!)

    Nulion has been living out in the wild because he's been on the run from his botched attempt at infiltrating the Legionnaires by pretending to join them. It worked too well, and so he's on the run. While out in the woods, he realizes that he is out of the medication he needs to hold the virus in his body at bay (The virus that will more or less turn him into a reptilian mutant if he doesn't keep up the dosage. Not only that, but the only doctor capable of creating the medicine, Kealy, is off-world on Omni-Prime trying to research and perfect the formula), and so heads to Truth Tower, where he used to work, to find information pertaining to recreating his medicine. The information isn't there.

    On his way out of the tower, he runs into a Council of Truth meeting while it is just convening, and gets schooled by virtually every important Clan character you can think of. He is told to redeem himself, and will be under surveillance until he does so. Defeated, Nulion just goes home.

    A week goes by, and he's still not had his medication; he's going completely nuts, and isn't exactly himself anymore. He calls for help on his comm, since he wants some food, but is too afraid to go out and get some, for fear of what he might actually end up eating.

    A friend, Ashleigh, drops by with some food, but a woman named Tipha who also works for the Legion, comes along too, in order to manipulate Nulion and his disease into becoming assets for the Legionnaires. She gets called away, Nulion is hardly able to cope with being tempted into eating his friend Ashleigh, and just as Ashleigh and Nulion are about to have a more lighthearted moment, Nulion gets stuck in the neck with a tranquilizer dart.

    He wakes up in an Omni-Med hospital room, without a clue as to how he got there. He then leaves his hospital bed, trying to get out of the building before he is used as a test subject for Omni-Med, but is quickly found by two atrox orderlies while hiding in a supply closet, and is very quickly tranquilized a second time. While tranquilized, Nulion has a particularly nasty dream...

    After waking up again, Nuli finds he's back in the hospital room, with a female doctor. He finds out that she is Dr. Kealy, and that she has the medicine Nulion needs.

    A week passes in the clinic, and Nuli is released...but he needs to find proof he wasn't a terrorist.

    Several months pass, and Nuli is still trying to keep himself out of jail...He has repaired his armor, and is recalling a particular day in December where he visits The Cup, where a particular world-shaking event happens...

    ....Annnd, that's where we are now

    There's lots of little details in between all of that, but there ya go! The summary!

    __________________________________________________ _____________

    The wind picked up…whistling through the grassy pelt of the land. A small, metallic zipper dangled side to side, the occasional click resonating as it grazed against the track it was attached to. Sunrays, a mix of blue and yellow-red from the twin suns that poked ever so gently above the horizon spilled through crimson clouds to meet my eyes as they fluttered open. There was nothing else in this world, in this place, than me and everything I held inside.

    The grass felt moist from the previous night’s dew, and the scent twisted through my senses, mingled with that omnipresent aroma of gaseous notum. Everything smelled so intense and raw…I pushed myself up from the tattered and soiled sleeping bag, smelling as only months’ worth of fetor would, taking in the world of the morning. The hills rolled off into the distance, interrupted by lush trees caught in the breeze, their swaying and rustling almost hypnotic. I both loved and hated this place…

    Who knows what effect staying out in the open, without the human comfort of four walls, a ceiling, and a level floor to keep me safe, has had on me. I’m pretty sure that long ago, as a child, I’d always wanted to go camping with my family in the woods that flourished near my old home…even if they’d never wanted to go. And even then, I’d always had it in the back of my head that no matter what happened, I would always have the safety of my home to return to. I’d always have warmth…

    Like any other human being, I took things for granted…and I regret it.

    It wasn’t entirely of my fault that I wound up out here…Or was it? I barely remember. I can almost not feel whatever madness drove me to run from everything and everyone I held dear…and this was the second time in my life I had done so.

    All I have to look forward to in my life is that time and place where everything I’ve struggled for will come to fruition. That shining moment where I make him pay for everything he’s done…I don’t even want to say his name anymore…it sickens me.

    Of course, one cannot live in solitude without the problems of life, both past and present, picking at the flesh like vultures, leaving scars of memory and conscience….Out here in the place animals called home, old wounds resurfaced.

    My attention darted swiftly from the makeshift campsite I’d set up the night before, off into the distance. I could see a figure, a shape shuffling along through the grassy plain. It trudged along slowly, neck lowered to the ground, doing what it did best; grazing.

    A month and a half ago, I’d have thought nothing of it…I’d have smiled in its direction, thinking to myself how wonderful it must be to have no worries, no cares in life other than a full stomach and a warm patch of grass to lay on by nightfall. To that figure, there is no Omni-Tek. There is no Clan. There’s no war, no consequence, no guilt…there is only existence and subsistence. In that month and a half though, I have been through more changes than I could have dreamed of a scant year ago. Instead of gazing upon that animal with envious eyes, I’d glare at it with all the intent of a predator looking to survive.

    A slight flick of the switch at my weathered, grimy NCU belt reactivated technology forever bonded to my body, and I hastily faded to glass. Nothing but ghostly footsteps could give away my presence, and even they were barely noticeable amidst the wafting grasses. Hurrying along, the whistling of the wind through the fields quieting my advance, I stepped up right alongside this creature, this miniature Bronto…My hands, visible light refracting just enough through their prism-like appearance to see them against the backdrop of everything else, reached towards the hapless minibronto’s neck....I had to be quick.

    The minibronto pulled its head up slowly from the earth, gazing around, as if nothing were wrong. I could only tense…feeling my stomach tighten up, desiring nothing more than the meat off this thing’s bones…I craved it so badly, as if I had gone weeks without a scrap of food. My heart raced, my fingers twitched…every single muscle in my body wanted to squeeze…to dig my claws down into its flesh and rip its head sideways, snapping and popping every bone out of alignment, ending its life for the extension of my own.

    But…the minibronto turned away, something else having caught its eye…it walked calmly away, down the lush hillside towards its family, its herd. I could only watch…My hands were frozen in place, where but moments ago they’d have squelched the life from its body.

    It started as a trembling weakness in my knees…and from there it could only grow, leaving me slumped onto the tall grass, tears rolling down my glassy face…dripping onto the soil. The only thing to escape my lips, staring down at that minibronto’s family, was the slightest bit of an animal-like whimper. I’ve done it before…but even now, the pieces of me that are still human cling onto the sensibility that tells me killing is a sin. Human thoughts seeped back in, and all I could feel was that thick coat of remorse…

    I slumped to my side, the tears still flowing. My eyelids transparent, I was forced to sit and watch what I, with my bare hands, had nearly destroyed. It reminded me of myself, actually…and how much I longed for family and friends. To be in the comfort of my own herd, to hug myself up against my own mother and never let go. The thought though…just turned to more anguish. I’d left them for no good reason…I have no right to be back with them. What would they want with an animal for a son..?

    That is what I was becoming now, wasn’t I? I was becoming nothing more than a cog in the great engine of life, instead of one of those who could operate that engine. I don’t know what it was…maybe living out here did it? Maybe it was a side-effect of being too close to *him* that reactivated the dormant nanovirus..? Maybe it was just the fact that my ‘cure’ from last year never really stopped anything, only slowed it all down? And if that’s the case…then how long do I have left before not caring at all about consequence, about life, about feeling? The thought scares the living hell out of me.

    Being scared and afraid though, isn’t going to get me a meal. I was still hungry, and…I wasn’t quite in the mood to go after anything that still had a heartbeat. I have to keep it in my mind that I’m better than that…that I can still cling onto myself. Maybe the best thing to do, all considering, was to use up a small amount of the credits Foosball had given to me several weeks ago. It was enough to keep me fed, whenever I’d like it, for the next couple of months at the very least.

    Gathering myself, I climbed to my feet, grabbing at my NCU belt, flipping the lightbender off, my body once again returning to the world of the visible. My hood blowing off from a strong gust, hair flailing at the mercy of the wind, I gazed in the other direction of the bronto herd. Newland City was just off in the distance, nestled between two gigantic formations of rock, their shadows cast long over the lake…Pulling that credit chip out of a securely-zippered pocket, a slight smile crossed my face, looking forward to having an honest meal, like a civilized man should.
    Last edited by Nulion; Jul 20th, 2007 at 05:31:24.
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  2. #2
    Newland City in the morning is an awful sleepy town…The Newland Militia slump against the walls at their posts, a cup of steaming coffee in their hands for the most part, sipping to the thought of yet another Rubi-Ka’n day that will come to pass. The morning sunlight pierced in soft rays through the cracks along the rock walls that ensconced the city, illuminating portions of town and freeing them from the morning’s mist that crept in each night, from off of the lake outside. A leet scurried across the cracked pavement towards a fresher patch of wafting grass, nibbling at it, tasting the dewdrops from the tips of the blades…

    It was just perfect for visiting the city…quiet, with few people to get in my way…I was free to simply enjoy myself, and eat in peace. I know if I had come at any other time of day, I’d be at risk to have a run-in with Anamelle…and the thought still tears me up. She’s with the Newland Council, and…had been a good friend of mine, before all this mess. Some things, you just can’t tell even the best of friends though. She had no real reason to know what I was up to, at least that’s what my thinking was at first. Now, she thinks not much more of me than she would any other terrorist…If she saw how far I’d slipped now, what would she think then?

    I’m still so incredibly ashamed of what’s happening to my body…and it’s worse now than it was the day I woke up to find my eyes weren’t the ones I’d been born with, or had fixed up by a licensed implant technician. How could I hide what was happening to me now, when I could hardly control myself? Oh, I’d tried to deny it…tried to just go on like normal…but of course it didn’t work. It never does work, when you want it to most…

    Walking down the central road through town, I could smell the most radically strange things, and not just the obvious ones either. Sure there was the greasy spoon scent associated with a place like the Bronto, but in recent weeks I found myself able to pick apart any scent I could think of…Grease, blood from discarded patty packaging, greens, the crisp scent of sandwich buns and tomato. The guards I passed were even more distressing…Of course, their coffee was pungent and strong, some black, some decaf, some with crème and others without…but each one of them, as they glanced at me, curious about my haggard appearance, smelled....apprehensive? Tired? It was…a mix of the two. The scents mingled and stretched away from one of the men, towards the places he’d been to before parking himself up against the wall…

    “What’re you looking at, Clanner?’ His gruff voice snapped me out of it, and I didn’t realize I’d been staring directly at him. Out of instinct I’d stepped back a little, the hair on the back of my neck standing on end. He took a sip of his coffee, continuing “Yeah, I’m talking to you! Cause trouble in this town and you’ll answer to this...” He motioned towards his beat up JAME rifle, which had been resting against the wall behind him and his green plate-armored leg.

    Had things been different…I’d have simply backed off with a heartfelt apology, not wanting trouble. I could feel that now-familiar rumble in my throat, glaring up at this guard, the growl rising from out of my throat…I backed away from him, my whole body tensed and ready to react to whatever he had up his sleeve…even though all the man was doing was sipping at a steaming cup of coffee, enjoying the morning.

    The militiaman gave me the strangest look…not expecting to hear such a guttural noise from a scrawny Opifex like myself. “You…got something wrong with you, son?” His voice switched from mildly threatening to almost the kind of voice I’d expect from a curious, yet experienced, older man. It was that voice, the kind that I knew held no threat, that set me back at ease, my mind reeling from the lapse of human thought I’d just felt without knowing. “Y…you have no idea…” is the only thing I could get out past my lips, looking away from the man and towards the ground, ashamed of myself. I just walked away, not wanting anything else to do with the militiaman.

    I didn’t need to be worrying about the oddities of my new self, and how others reacted to those things…it was distressing enough being able to almost *hear* them whispering to themselves in disgust, thanking whatever higher power that they hadn’t turned out that way themselves.

    Yeah…it must’ve felt awfully good to be them. Wish I still was.
    Last edited by Nulion; Dec 10th, 2006 at 08:36:51.
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  3. #3
    The Bronto in Newland City is more or less exactly like every other one you might find on Rubi-Ka, a huge, phony-looking bronto head with a grill embedded in its neck, along with yet another of those dopey fast food employees that couldn’t find anything better to do on Rubi-Ka than flip burgers for the hungry. Why didn’t they automate these people already, get it over with, and leave the menial work to something that did not have the ABILITY to hate its job?

    “Welcome to the Bronto, what do you want?” said the man in the grease-soaked apron, sounding as lethargic and disinterested as ever. Too bad for this guy his day was just starting.

    Normally, I’d have chosen the steak. Even before all of this that’d happened to me, I’d have chosen it. Of course, since it was the crack of dawn, the only thing the man had ‘prepared’ was pre-packaged breakfast plates. There were the pancakes with the bronto bacon, bronto egg with sausage, and pretty much any other combination of those four things I’d care to have. With orange juice. And I still have no idea where the oranges came from.

    I’d ended up getting the pancakes with bacon, carrying the shrink-wrapped tray over to a nearby table, having a seat. It only took a moment of fiddling with the tight, thin plastic keeping me from a meal before I’d resorted to pulling one of my gloves off, the cool air of Newland almost instantly biting into my pale skin. I’d had good reason to keep those gloves on, despite the fact that now there was a hole in each one of the fingertips…I’d woken up one morning, not realizing anything was amiss, trying to scratch at my face. Let’s…just say that I won’t ever do that carelessly again.

    I took one of the sturdy, black, sharp claws that had since become grafted to my fingertips, drawing the sharp end down the plastic, smiling to myself as the shrink-wrap tore itself right open. Maybe there *were* some things about my new self I liked, after all…

    Morning was a beautiful thing, and even now I hadn’t stopped appreciating it. Some of the most incredible sights can be had when the suns first peeked above the horizon…Dew on a spider web, mist in a valley, red sunrays breeching the clouds from the night before…and bacon. One of the more beautiful things about mornings, I think. I couldn’t get enough of it though, I needed more!

    By the time I’d gotten finished eating, I must have mindlessly gone through nine or ten orders of bacon without taking a single bite of pancake…is a person supposed to enjoy bacon THIS much? It didn’t seem to have any meaning for a short time, all there was in the world was that bacon, and getting as much of it as I could before somebody else came to take it from me. As if they’d even be able to. If somebody even *thought* of trying, I’d rip them apart…NOBODY is going to touch MY bacon…

    It was only when I’d felt full enough to be sick that I felt like myself again…and felt that chill spreading down my spine, looking up from the greasy foam saucers, seeing nothing but crumbs and two untouched, golden pancakes. I’d had a similar experience before, only I’d come to with a dead bronto at my feet, dried blood covering my face. It coated my armor, having dripped from the holes torn through my gloves…Needless to say, that…was awfully difficult to handle.

    Feeling sick and swollen with nothing but bacon, I stumbled from out of the chair, trying to grab at the myriad of foam saucers I’d gotten from that Bronto stand. I hadn’t noticed it, but the man at the stand, disinterested as he innately was, seemed awfully put off by the sight of some dirty Opifex stumbling to his knees over nothing more than a little too much bacon. Probably thought I was nuts.

    Whatever the man thought…didn’t matter. I climbed up to my feet, scooping up each of the saucers, dumping them all into a nearby garbage can…I couldn’t stand being there one second longer…
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  4. #4
    nice story, your almost as cool as i am. ^^
    Whine more plz I feed on your tears

    Ethernal- "Friends don't let friends infonet drunk"

    My internet is waaaay faster than yours so you can suck my fiberoptic!

  5. #5
    Cool? what's that

    ((slowly tears his tight sweaty t-shirt off while everyone is watching))

    Damn is it hot here , or is it just me?

  6. #6
    ((Hehe, thanks for the comments...although, I don't quite get yours, Joachim ))

    I spend my days roaming, listening, watching…I loved to sit atop rooftops and listen to chatter, tossing stones at guards’ helmets in Borealis, watching them try in desperation to figure out where the little rock had come from. They’d never be able to see, my grin hidden away from the rest of the world, a prankster ghost as invisible as the air we breathe…

    Nighttime, on the other hand, was a quiet and lonesome affair…it didn’t matter where I slept. Not too long ago I’d taken up residence in an out of the way General Shop, until Anamelle, still under the impression I was a terrorist, had stumbled across me…at all other times I slept on a tattered bedroll on the soft ground.

    Even an aimless life has its rhythms though…The rhythm of food and drink, the rhythm of movement, and the ebb and flow of visitors to the comm nodes, where I could at least have a chat with a person or two.

    It’s a simple life, isn’t it?

    At the end of each night, my body worn and torn from being on the move at all times, I would collapse onto the bedroll I’d toted with me, the worn and thin fabric not able to dull the feel of the lumpy soil against my back…This night in particular, it was a fresh plot of grass I slept on. Insects of the night chirped and buzzed about me, soft flickers of light in the distance the only reminder of humanity’s dominance on this, and so many other worlds…

    The soft twinkling of stars and the occasional gust of wind set my mind at the most peace it could feel…the world fading into another place, another time…
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  7. #7
    Rain pattered around me…Fire danced across the rooftops of Bliss and burned over the surface of the water, the only thing through the cold night that kept the creature illuminated…

    Its movements were no different from others who shared its fate…twisting in ways that no human body was ever meant to, contorting and stretching as if made from rubber and bound by elastic. The whole of its body was pockmarked with splinters, abrasions, bullet wounds and chemical burns…

    Despite having a small army of friends sending all the ammo they had into its flesh…it stood almost still, staring with that one enormous eye down at his tormentors, although the eye now replaced a hand. This beast…didn’t want a fight.

    Fifty feet of towering, tortured flesh…its teeth gnashed together in a way they had been permanently affixed, trying to form words…

    ”Kill me”…

    ”Didn’t…want to shoot him”…

    The world seemed to hold still, gunfire just….stopping. Gouts of blood poured from its numerous wounds, its great eye stained red, jagged teeth chipped and ruined…this creature suffered, yet did not move away.


    Its words were gnarled, mangled, barely recognizable…but there was pleading in there. Whatever was left of this man…begged for release.

    We looked at one another in stunned silence, even as we were spread across the center of the city…our weapons lowered. What in the hell had happened to him..? What did this to him..?

    Though it sounds callous…we wanted to know who he shot. Would we ever know? For all we knew…maybe when this thing was still recognizable as human, it had shot Phillip Ross…then again, maybe not. This creature had done something terrible, maybe something that wound him up in his current, sad state. It’s only fitting that we were his punishment, his release, maybe even his salvation. The gravity of the situation weighed in on everyone though…not one of us was prepared for something like that.

    The silence ended abruptly, this monstrous creature belting out a horrible, painful scream…stomping and waving its giant eye as if it were a wrecking ball, snapping trees and shacks apart without pause or relent. Not one person needed an excuse, or any order…a brilliant stream of every kind of charged particle, bullet, shell, grenade, and nano-program one can imagine lanced into its body without a word being spoken. Flames blasted its warped flesh, charring the creature from the outside in.

    Maybe some of us wanted to let off steam from the anger following CEO Ross’s incapacitation. Maybe some of us felt bringing this thing to its knees would make things right, somewhere and somehow. Some just wanted to grant it mercy, putting it out of its misery. Still others enjoyed the prospect of something so enormous to shoot at…As for me, it was closure. I wanted to shut this awful chapter in my life spurned by the incapacitation of CEO Ross. Funny way of doing it though, since I never did find out if that creature had anything to do with him. Everyone needs something to pin their frustrations to, don’t they?

    It’s as they say though…upon shutting one chapter, another is invariably opened.

    The beast could take no more, its body shambling and twitching, more than just a few bullets having snagged themselves into each and every one of its vital organs…Even a creature like this has a heart. And every heart can only take so much, before the impulses stop, the organ failing, taking the whole of the body with it into the afterlife.

    It tumbled, the earth buckling beneath its grotesque feet…the creature collapsed onto the cold, wet mud. It was almost a slow motion sort of thing, seeing as I was still caught in its shadow…I could see each muscle in its body folding, failing, falling.

    What else could I do, but run?

    The edge of town was close…safety was close…but then it was an eternity away. All I heard was the sound expected from a fifty foot creature crashing to the ground, and suddenly I’d been ripped there myself.

    I couldn’t move, nothing but mud before me…my leg shot with an indescribable pain. It wracked my body, holding me still even more than the foot long claw through my thigh did. Its hand, adorned in bullet wounds, oozed a vile blood over my lower body, pinning me there…It soaked me, leaking into the gaping hole forced into my leg. I couldn’t see the claw, just the prospect of turning around almost more than I could bear…but I knew it was there.

    I could look up, seeing the horrified expressions on the faces of those around me as they’d tried to lift out the massive finger. A sickening crunch was heard to all just as the thing was lifted out, only half of the claw still attached to the finger…the rest in pieces, inside my leg.

    Who’d have thought that thing’s blood was still laced with an active virus..? The same kind believed, but never proved, to have been injected into the bullet directed into Phillip Ross’s chest…the same kind that had been broadcast over the news in public health warnings…and now the same kind that would help shape my life for the next year.

    I really didn’t think things could get any worse…but of course, they did. They always do.

    I could see further on…what would eventually happen to me, if things continued as they did…

    One day I would wake up, feeling all the trappings of human life shed away, as snake’s skin left behind atop a rock…A relic that someone might find, and shrug off, having no bearing or meaning to their life. I would wander off though, lingering in some cave….the scales on my arms and stomach would spread, the changes would continue into my bones and muscles, my organs and mind, until nothing remains but a reptilian facsimile of that creature in Bliss…and I wouldn’t care.

    I would never live with another person again, unless someone wanted an exotic pet…never fall in love, never bear children and watch them grow. Hopes, dreams, aspirations, faith, meaning, insight, emotion, truth, lies, and the rest of the universe all dashed away and reduced to faint, meaningless recollections. What did any of that matter when there was food to be found?

    …Is that really my fate?
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  8. #8
    I snapped up from the sleeping bag…breathing heavy, a sheen of sweat over my body as I took inventory…

    My face…still normal, chest was okay….feet looked good and my legs were alright…Of course, I’d gone beyond the shock of being able to clearly see myself, in a pale film negative fashion, even though the only light here came from the stars. Neither of Rubi-Ka’s moons was out tonight…

    It was only in my head…memories and nightmares…difficult to tell which ones were which at first, as it always is. The beast in Bliss....that was memory. It already happened. As for the other part...raw nightmare.

    The wind picked up, a gentle breath that sent the rest of the world rustling…

    I know that what I felt in that vivid, terrifying dream, at least the tail part of it…had a possibility of becoming reality. Of course in a bad dream, the mind ignores anything it could construe as good. Harshness and negativity is allowed free reign, and only when it becomes too hard for the body to take, do you wake up.

    In consciousness, I know there’s some light to things, and that my future as some animal is far from a certainty. Something unexpected…yet life-saving was given to me not long after being injured by that once-man in Bliss…an antigen.

    I’m not sure where it came from exactly…but without it, by now my nightmares would have come to reality; and that is harsh truth. That’s one of the strange peculiarities with life, as I should have every right to be in an outrage at Omni-Tek, specifically Omni-Med, for what they have done to me…yet I owe them everything.

    I still do owe them, for the continuing treatment. A friend of mine, Dr. Alannah Burke, has been toiling to come up with a better antigen for me to use, after I’d presented her with a replicated vial some time ago. It doesn’t work nearly as well as it did a year ago, considering the increased severity of my condition, and the fact that the duplicate antigen probably isn’t near as good as the real thing was. With this drug, I would need a booster shot every three days; if I were to miss a shot, I would feel a little bit more of myself slip off into the ether.

    It doesn’t help any that needles scare me, leaving me almost completely unable to give myself a shot. The last time I’d tried, I ended up a snarling mess, twitching too hard and leaving the thin metal of the needle lodged in my skin, despite Foosball trying to help me “control myself”, which never did me much good…I didn’t want to repeat that.

    There were no needles that night, although I knew full well one would be waiting for me the next day. I didn’t really go to the doctor directly for the shots, but rather she’d let me tote along a chamber full of a month’s supply of antigen with me wherever I went, in case of emergencies. I’d only need to fill the hypodermic up to the red line, and have her do the tricky parts with the actual injection. At least…I’d have her do them, if she was even still on this planet.

    The disease was no ordinary one, and the components needed to generate some sort of weapon against it were too advanced to even be found on Rubi-Ka. The only place she could have gone, really, was Omni-Prime. I have no idea what Omni-Prime is like…I guess sometimes I imagine it as hell, even though it probably more closely resembles Rome or Omni-1 than anything, only much more grandiose. I know that’s just one place that I can never go now, considering all I’ve done here on Rubi-Ka. For the better, right? After all…who would actually *want* to go to Omni-Prime, for something other than business?

    I slumped on the sleeping bag, wishing to myself it wasn’t so moist from lying on the dew-coated grasses. My bags and things were sitting there in front of me, the chamber of antigen nestled against the satchel I’d kept close by me…only, the more I stared at my things, the more something felt wrong, a knot inching through my stomach and clamping at my heart.

    I couldn’t see any antigen inside the chamber.

    Scrambling, I leapt at the chamber and tore it away from the other things, not caring as my satchel emptied itself onto the ground, my dirtied hands grabbing at the smooth box, shaking it…and I felt nothing. My panicked hands trembling, I reached for the spilt satchel, feeling around for the hypodermic, pulling it out fast enough I thought I might have snapped the needle, but it didn’t matter; there HAD to be more inside that chamber! I took the syringe, pushing the needle inside the injector nozzle, jamming a claw on the auto-fill…but the chamber only whirred, its interior pump having no liquid to circulate.

    I…had no more of the antigen, and the only person in the universe who could help me was light-years away, at Omni-Prime.
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  9. #9
    ((Want to KIll j00 Nulion ))

  10. #10
    That night didn’t go well…I couldn’t sleep, I could hardly think, and the only thing on my mind was what I would do now that there was nothing holding me back. I could try and have a word with Tresa, but what good would that do me? She was only Alannah’s sister, and could do nothing for me, despite her fantastic cooking.

    Foosball couldn’t do much either, try as he might…A good person from what I’ve seen of him, ever since he’d helped me remove Unicorn bullet fragments from my arm and shoulder earlier in the year. An adventurer himself, he knew all too well the feelings associated with losing species identity. His methods though…were probably meant more for a person willingly giving up what they are, and even then only temporarily via nano-programs. Calm myself and try to regain control? Thanks, but that’s what I already want to do; I just don’t know how.

    If something needs destroyed, one tactic all too many things in the universe are too happy to use is to go small. Microorganisms invade and infiltrate the smallest orifices imaginable, tampering with the very things that make life a comfortable possibility to us in the first place. And once that is sullied, everything built atop that structure erodes, crumbles, and degenerates. This virus is doing the same thing to me, taking the proverbial rug out from my feet…and how can I stay steady and in control when the very ground beneath my feet is taken away?

    I was on my own and even though control was becoming a valuable commodity, there had to be something I could do. There must’ve been someplace that maybe some sort of record of the antigen was stored, and another doctor might be able to reproduce it. There wasn’t much of a chance, sure…but I knew one place that might have some sort of record; Truth Tower.
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  11. #11
    Tir wasn’t exactly the best place for me to be at the moment, all considering. The city might’ve been as eerily quiet as it always had been, but it didn’t help to keep my mind at ease.

    The afternoon air was still and smelled of the rogue bit of sand that found its way over the city’s walls, slowly wearing at the bright stonework the city was crafted out of. Patches of grass sprouted from between the cracks in the ground, tiny insects scurrying, weaving in and out of my footsteps…

    The stiff, harsh smell of human sweat greeted my nose, each scent different from the next…each one painted a trail down the streets I could follow. I could pick out one with cologne, one who’d recently eaten some kind of meatball sandwich, another that hadn’t bathed in days…and another who bathed just hours ago. Smelled like atrox and solitus, although I could smell faint wisps of opifex and nano-humans that had passed by, too. Some of them had that dusty, worn aroma of the Sentinel clan, or that more standardized, airy scent I could pick up around the Urban Guard. Some smelled of the Shadowlands, of faint and pleasant Redeemed, of oily and ****y Unredeemed…Others smelled of notum dust and wildlife, some smelled just like a cup of sugary tea with the slightest hint of lemon.

    One of them smelled particularly interesting…as far as I could tell; it was an atrox with perfume. Had to have been one of those gender-confused atroxes, the type prone to thinking women have beards, supplementing that thought with every kind of disturbing garment you could think of.

    I didn’t really realize how stuck on scents I had gotten, wandering almost aimlessly around the streets…I felt so addicted to it, like each and every person for me was a new experience, a new sensation. Down each street and alley was something more, something I hadn’t picked out yet. It felt like a game!

    After all the time I’d spent just walking around, taking in the scents, a guard took notice; and a Sentinel guard, at that. He hefted his rifle up against his shoulder, stepping up to me, a curious look on his desert-worn face.

    “…You need help, citizen?” I didn’t even notice the solitus guard’s expression, too fixated on the smell of his armor. It had that same dusty smell I’d noticed all around the city, nano-infused leather and…and…

    “Did you even hear me??” His free hand gripped my arm, shaking some sense into me…cigar smoke on his breath, along with the sandwich he’d eaten for lunch.

    “I…uh….I’m…alright, sir…” I must’ve looked at the moment like I didn’t even really understand the words coming from my own mouth.

    “Going around sniffin’ at everything…Don’t have anything better to be doing, do you?” He didn’t sound exactly happy, looking at me in the eyes, though I quickly gazed at the ground, a part of me knowing this man already thought I was freaky enough, without taking a look at my face.

    “I’ll…just be on my way, alright? I didn’t mean to….to cause any problems…” I took a step back, trying to get to my senses, only halfway there, and only slightly looking back up at him.

    “Just one second…You look familiar, you know…” He scratched a finger at his beard stubble, eyeing me over, looking curiously at the shredded fabric of the Dust Brigade armor I’d been wearing. Not many people wore that kind of clothing these days, especially with all the negativity towards the Brigade itself.

    I could only stay still, feelings of ‘normality’ resurfacing, the thought occurring to me that if this man remembered who I was, there’s more than a good chance he’d lead me away from here in handcuffs…and there was still something I needed to do at Truth Tower.

    The Sentinel kept eyeballing me though, shaking his head, dropping his alien-tech rifle back down into his hands. “Get on out of here, and don’t cause any trouble…That includes bringing one of those fence-sitters in here. Got it?”

    I only slightly nodded, looking at the man briefly, before hurrying off down the street, only occasionally glancing up at Truth Tower as it beckoned, in the distance…
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  12. #12
    Truth Tower is one of those places that demands respect…You step inside, and the stale desert air nestled inside carries with it the faintest bit of regality, as if it were a hall of kings of some sort, although that’s far from the case. Even if that were not its purpose, one could tell just by a scent that it was a place more important than it seemed at first glance.

    Every month, the Council would convene here, in a bold attempt to helm the shattered and opposing pieces of the Clans, steering them away from any harm that might come across, through their own doing or otherwise. Some of them, like Silverstone, don’t seem to have much of a concept of subtlety or discretion, liable to get everyone killed, should he have his way all of the time.

    Thankfully though, the building today was silent, aside from the soft hum of the building’s surveillance system. Had this been any other building, it would have been ample enough reason to stay away; surveillance systems these days are no laughing matter. Though the one infused with Truth Tower’s infrastructure wasn’t as sophisticated as say, a Unicorn system, it was more than enough to best anyone careless enough to trip it.

    No system is without its flaws though…and thankfully enough, I knew those in and out. Truth Tower’s security network, expertly installed by my friend Tyma was based on DNA recognition. This actually meant that even if I weren’t a wanted man at the moment, the system probably wouldn’t know who I was. The more sensitive and hardy sensors were placed throughout the tower’s hallways on the ground floor only; no other floor was touched. As I recall, the biggest reason for that was funding, and the fact that the other floors of Truth Tower weren’t in use at the time. If nothing’s changed since I was last there, then they would still be unused.

    Earlier that year, I’d whiled away my time and staved off whatever negativity I could by working on restoring the upper levels, starting in particular with what I’d hoped could be my own office. I’d only ever gotten as far as trying to stain some of the wooden desks though, before circumstances forced me to quit both the restoration, and my normal job as a Councilman…I did, however, like to use that unfinished office as storage for things of interest to the Council, including documents related to my “condition”. If Dr. Burke wasn’t available, then someone else duplicating the formula would have to suffice.

    I still didn’t want to think about what would happen otherwise.

    The upper floors of the Council could be reached via the meeting hall itself, although the door had been sealed off and made to look more or less like another section of the wall, after the tower had been “redecorated” by occupying Sentinels, following the failure of the first Council.

    Between me and the meeting hall though, was that hallway…And getting through that was the problem. Air ducts might be a good idea, but there was a sensor hidden there. The underground waterway supplying the reflecting pool in the center of the building could have also worked, but I knew sensors lined the water’s surface. The thing about the sensors in the water and in the ducts though, is that they detected heat…nothing else.

    I hate telling people about all of the different things that have happened to me as a result of the disease…Some of them, I couldn’t bear to let anybody know aside from my doctor, but even so they are things that are visible to all who’d care to look close enough. The fact that I am now cold-blooded is one of those things…If I were to take off my armor, my body would chill to the point I could fall into a coma or die. What better way to get past a heat sensor though..?

    I was crazy enough to risk it…Piece by piece, I removed my thermal Brigade armor, stuffing each dirtied, tattered part of it into a small, nano-leather knapsack I’d kept around with me. The cool air flowing inside the building from the entrance didn’t just bite into my skin, it seeped through… It chilled everything, my arms and legs feeling numb by the time I fastened the knapsack shut. Under normal circumstances, I’d never have done something like this…I hate cold, and I hate how uncontrollably so it can feel to me now. I also lament the fact that I cannot handle it anywhere near as well as a normal person could.

    There was a metal grating just above the entrance into the hallway, and even with my trembling hands it gave way easily, swinging open by a simple hinge. The vent wasn’t very large of course, barely enough room for me to attempt pulling myself inside, one of the straps of my bag tied around my foot allowing me to drag that along as well. Pulling myself inside wasn’t too difficult, even as I felt the icy metal of the vent sapping the strength right out of my fingers…what was difficult, however, was the feel of the cold metal covering my whole body. Imagine trying to climb through a tunnel made of ice, wearing nothing but your birthday suit, and having taken a cold shower beforehand.

    Every single movement I made, trying to inch forward, hurt. Each time my hand, my knee, chest, or stomach made contact with that metal, I could feel myself get colder and colder…the kind of frigid feeling you feel in your bones, and cannot shake away. Not even realizing it, each brush with the metal elicited a sharp whimper, each one growing weaker…The vent seemed to get dimmer, and lose its definition as my eyes lost focus…I couldn’t even tell where the sensor was, all I could do was crawl more…as fast as I possibly could, the weight tugging against my foot the only thing reminding me to keep moving. I slowed, the vent stretching onward forever, my attempts at crawling reduced to not much more than twitching and shuffling. Everything felt like it was winding down…I could almost feel my heartbeat fading, the pathetic whimpering that squeaked from my throat almost too much effort now. I couldn’t move…I could barely see…

    There was no point in moving anymore…no point in even thinking. I couldn’t feel, my entire body numbed…All I could do was lie my head against the metal, a faint stinging hitting my eye, not realizing I was staring directly at the sensor, and it couldn’t detect me…I was too cold for it to see.

    I didn’t pick my head back up…the world turned to nothing, and it was as if I had just…fallen asleep.
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  13. #13
    The back of my head throbbed, a dull pain that reached further across my body, the more I thought of it. The mere thought, wondering if my hand still worked, just made my hand hurt too.

    My eyes even hurt, as they fluttered open…but things weren’t the way I’d remembered them, the haze and the gray of the vent shaft replaced with the soft, warm glow of the Council’s meeting hall. In particular, there was a floor lamp normally set against the small ‘waiting area’ situated out in front of where the Council normally convened, complete with plush cushions. The lamp though, was lying in my lap, the soft glow of its light and the warmth of the bulb enough to have woken me up.

    Glancing above me, I could see a vent grating slung open to its side, having been forced open when my weight became too much for it to handle. Just inside the shaft, I could see the faintest hint of an icy blue beam, as bits of dust by chance fell through it.

    It’s hard to look at something like that and not imagine some sort of sheer, crazy luck at work…or something more, as if maybe I were meant to get where I needed to go, to do what I needed to do. If that vent grating hadn’t been there…

    Why do I take such crazy risks anyway? What exactly is it with me that fails to look at the most important parts of a situation, and think things through more? The vent was just one example, where I could have fallen into a thermal coma. There’s a good chance it’s because I’d rather that happen, than the alternative of not being able to do something about my condition…but it’s saying something if I don’t even know why I do it. Maybe I just think too much…or not enough?

    The room was still so cold though…and I was still clad in nothing but boxer briefs. The bag I’d tied my leg around was thankfully still right beside me, with every bit of ragged armor inside still doing fine.

    Months of wear and tear have torn the Brigade armor to shreds, from the fact that my gloves now had claw-holes torn through the tips, to the tears in the armor itself, revealing dirtied, bare skin in places and thermal padding in others. On my arm, a mesh of coolant capillaries had been ripped open, leaving stains from leaked coolant, the bluish fluid having mingled with spatters of dried blood down towards my forearms. My chest plate had been damaged to the point where half of its temperature control system no longer worked, a large fracture in the center plate partially hidden by dried blood and coolant. The hood I kept draped over my head was frayed and dirtied, several holes torn in the material where, unused to the claws on my hands, I had handled it too rough. Even the armor skirt bound around my waist, hanging to my ankles, was frayed into jagged pieces of cloth that fluttered at the slightest breath of air. Some of the strips of damaged fabric held together only with the now-visible mesh of coolant capillary tubing, delicate and weathered.

    My armor may have been an absolute wreck…but it was still enough to keep me warm, and even protected to a small degree.

    Joints aching, I uneasily climbed to my feet, the worn grip of my boots squeaking gently against the floor. I pulled my gloves tight, along with the last bits of tattered armor, and took one last heavy breath before setting the floor lamp back to its rightful place against the wall, smiling faintly and finishing up by re-attaching the vent grating back to where it ought to be.

    No telling if anybody would realize I’ve been here or not, though I really preferred they didn’t find out…I know those I’d considered allies before all of this mess would not be so understanding of my situation, until the day I can make things right. That goes doubly true for men like Jacobi, like Aideen and Silverstone, and I had to be sure I wouldn’t stumble across them until then…until that shining day.

    Today wasn’t that day, though…
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  14. #14
    The door to the upper sections of Truth Tower was tricky to open, one having to find the cracks in the right part of the wall, pulling them apart manually to actually get inside; the motors inside the doors had been disconnected, or even discarded completely.

    The soft, regal aroma of Truth Tower stopped there. Inside that musty doorway, there was nothing but the dense, stuffy scent of dust and faint lacquer hidden away beneath it. It reminded me of an old book, or a library fallen into disrepair…paper fallen from its white grace and browning with age.

    A set of stairs ran along the outermost walls of the tower, upward and onward. There was one section of the stairwell, beyond another door that I’d always loved though, that overlooked the center of the meeting hall by way of a small balcony, where the blue Council of Truth banners inside the hall were held, swaying ever so gently. The stairs continued only a little longer though, before I reached the office floor.

    The dust scent only became stronger there, the floors matted in dust and sand that had worked its way in from the occasional leet’s travels. The office floor of the tower formed a kind of O-ring around the central shaft, offices branching off against the tower’s outer walls…and my office, I was hoping would be against one of the corners of the tower when I’d first began cleaning it.

    Dust rose from my footsteps, leaving bootprints in their wake, my claws tracing up gently against the walls as I stepped along, catching a glimpse of each one of the vacated offices while passing by. The suns still shone through the windows, particles of dust floating amongst the sunrays, gifting each office with a rustic, worn aesthetic. Desks seemed to fizzle in their own dust, bits and pieces rising off the surface and into the stale air…

    My own door had been left open, tools and cans of lacquer lying about on the floor, having gathered their own share of dust over the time I had been gone. A framed photograph hung from a simple nail above the desk, the picture bringing back such memories…my family and I enjoying a picnic, basking in sun and shade amidst the mountains…

    I’d gone through a lot just to get that picture back from where I’d left it, and so it figures that here I am again, having left it in a…inopportune place. I know I felt the tears welling just at the sight of that photo, the harsh reality it represented bearing down on my mind…

    If I had been having a hard enough time getting off this rock because of my feelings and my fears, then I would have an even greater challenge, with this lifeline I’d developed to Omni-Med. As strange as it still sounds to me…I have to rely on them, and if I were to leave Rubi-Ka for a time, that lifeline would sever.

    I could never separate that line…I needed that drug so badly, no matter the cost. Without it, there truly is nothing holding me back…

    Heavy-hearted, I wheeled a rusty office chair over towards me, staring up at the photograph as I did so, just slumping into the soft cushions…
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  15. #15
    Oh Nulion.
    I really wish it could have been me instead of you who had to go through everything you've had to deal with in the last year.
    We should catch up sometime.
    Uni "Unixint80" Idoru, 206/13 Neutral NT Veteran of Shattered Dreams
    What I've Got My Perk Setup My Nuke Setup (All slightly outdated)


  16. #16
    ((Thank you, Unix ...And yes, we definitely should meet up again soon ))

    The instant I sat down, something *flailed* against my scrawny posterior, squeaking and thrashing! I jumped out of that seat as if someone told me there was a ticking bomb there, spinning and slamming my back *hard* into a cabinet, sending several dusty, old books crashing to the floor. I could only stare in disbelief at the chair though; a fat, annoyed, dusty leet staring up at me with its dull brown eyes, lit gently by the suns.

    “d00d!!” The thing just squeaked right at me, its tail swaying back and forth, its eyes just growing more and more annoyed, the more it stared at me. The little thing shook its whole body as it stared, the fat leet jiggling more than anything, dust flying from its fur. No wonder I couldn’t smell the thing, with all the dust it was caked in!

    I caught my breath though, staring right back at the pudgy rodent, my body a little shaken still from the surprise. The thing looked familiar though…and it struck me as I glanced down towards my gloves, noticing two small holes bitten through the fabric on one of them. It was the same leet who’d bitten me when I’d first started working on this office in the first place!

    The fat leet hopped off the chair, falling into a jiggling mess and rolling onto its unsteady, birdlike feet, staring up at me as a person would a skyscraper…head tilting to the side, curiously. Even if the little thing did bite me last time I was there, I couldn’t deny that it, like all other leets, was cute as a button. The little thing stepped even closer to my leg, its head practically craned vertically, adding its weight to my foot as it hopped onto the ragged contours of my boot. I just couldn’t help it, smiling at the leet…

    Reaching down with an admittedly intimidating, claw-tipped hand to give the leet a scratch on the head, the pudgy thing just rolled off my foot and onto its own stubby legs, motoring towards the door….leaving behind a nice ‘present’ of leet droppings all over my boot. The thing stared at me from the doorway as I glanced up, still jiggling, and probably awfully proud of itself.


    I don’t know who reacted first, but I have never seen a leet run that fast. And I don’t remember ever having run that fast, myself, bolting after the thing as its little legs thrust it out the door, and down the hallway.

    “Get back here, you little..!!” At least…that’s what I think I said. To anybody else, it must’ve sounded like an unintelligible snarl. Suddenly, nothing mattered but catching that rotund rodent, and….I don’t really want to think about what I’d wanted to do to it. To be blunt, it involved having a meal…

    The leet scurried, its footclaws grabbing into the fabric of the dust-ridden floor mats and dirtied ridges of stucco flooring as it rounded corners, its tail whipping madly from side to side. It winded through the corridors, knowing each and every inch of ground it covered, side winding around fallen stacks of folding chairs and worn, weathered boxes.

    I leapt over everything this little rodent could just bypass, despite my boots just not being able to handle the frantic pace my feet tasked them with. The grips on my boots had worn to the point that even the dust-laden surface of the flooring, if stepped on at just the right angle, would send me falling into a crumpled heap against the wall…which is exactly what happened.

    Boxes toppled over onto the floor from my boot grazing against them at the apex of my jump, spilling out reams of yellowed paper and useless, forgotten office trinkets. Pens and desk clocks, paper clips and hole punches, pushpins and pictureless frames scattered across the gap between that leet and I…and despite the dull, bruising pain I’d felt, I scrambled to my feet, running!

    The leet on the other hand squeaked, alarmed, its stubby legs a blur, dashing into one of the offices, hopping and diving like a flabby, furry missile in between the supports of an office chair lodged right in the doorway…and somehow, being single-minded as I was at the moment, I didn’t see that chair. All I saw was that delicious-looking heart attack on legs, standing right in front of a hole torn at the base of the wall, beneath a dusty metal desk. It was going to get away, and then what? I’d starve to death!!

    Staring at the leet, determined to claim my prize and stave away the burning hunger in my stomach, I just ran right into the room…the chair catching my legs into a tangle, sending me directly to the floor, legs suspended in the air, arms folded painfully beneath my body, pinned oddly enough in place by my contorted body…All I could do, lying there in utter defeat at the hands….err…at the stubs of some leet with a weight problem, was stare at the thing. It stepped over, tilting its head almost completely to the side, and bit me on the nose.

    ….I didn’t even make a sound, staring at it in stunned silence, the impact from the fall having put me back enough into my senses to feel what it actually is to be humiliated by a leet. No, it doesn’t feel good.

    “pwn3d j00!!”

    The leet pranced off, leisurely stuffing its gelatinous self through the hole in the wall, probably going back to doing its thing, munching on leftovers of Bronto Burgers it had dug out from the trash. I knew I could smell them in there, mingled amongst the drops of my own blood that leaked from the tip of my nose.

    As for me…I just lay there, going over and over again in my mind how I’d just love to pretend that never happened.

    After all, I had things I needed to do…and the last of my worries was living down the fact that a guy like me, who’d been able to do so much else, couldn’t outsmart a leet.

    I’d never hear the end of it, that’s for sure.
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  17. #17
    Wall of Text hits you for 50000 projectile damage. Critical Hit!

  18. #18
    ((Hehehe, Nuli is hardly immune to getting pwned by strange things ))

    It must’ve taken me a good ten minutes to detach myself from the chair, every last joint in my body aching and throbbing. Then of course there was my nose, trickles of blood running down from the small pierce the leet’s dull teeth had made through the cartilaginous tip, dripping onto the floor beneath me.

    I felt like a complete wreck, my head spinning not just from the fall, but from the feeling of loss…I know that for a little bit there, I’d lost it again. I might have lost it even more so than last time, my head not able to see the painful equation my legs plus an office chair would equal.

    A deep growl escaping my lips as I tore the office chair out of my way, I stepped back out into the O-ring of Truth Tower’s office floor, having no trouble at all following the path of destruction the leet and I had carved back to ‘my’ office. I still did need those records, after all, if I was going to do anything about my condition.

    The office hadn’t changed any, of course…although I could see bootprints and leet footprints in the dust leading out into the hallway. Books from off that shelf were scattered around the room from earlier too…although what I needed, I knew was in the room’s lone filing cabinet, although the only one I could find back when I’d scavenged for it, was missing one of the legs, and so slumped backwards and to the side. The biometric scanner on the outside still worked fine though, only needing a press from my thumb. It’s tricky to use a thumbprint scanner though, when at the top of your thumb is a thick, hardened black claw.

    The filing cabinet popped open though, in a light puff of dust…There wasn’t much of anything inside, just a few folders suspended above the bottom of the cabinet by small metal rails, papers stuffed into the folders. My own handwriting marked the folders into differing subjects, like Brigade, T. Coma, Legion, Etc., and Duvall.

    My fingers quickened, sifting through each folder for nostalgia’s sake, noting the different, blurry photographs taken of Dust Brigade troops and Tempus Coma followers…Still put me on edge even seeing one of those types, despite how long it’s been now. Then of course there were the Legionnaire files…not all that much, just scattered bits of information, news feed printouts and articles from different publications on them. There was a blurred picture of one of them, garbed in that strange alien-tech armor, toting a large, bulbous assault rifle as he fired it into a crowd of people in Old Athen.

    The file I’d been looking for though, was at the very end, despite the name Duvall being much further up on the alphabet. I just wasn’t that much of an organizer, really. The name though, sparked a few memories…

    Dr. Duvall was the one I’d first seen with regards to my condition, just days after first being infected. Of course I’d handled the more gruesome part, the gaping hole in my leg, with nanotechnology the day the infection happened. Some wounds just run too deep though…and when I just wasn’t getting better, I caved in, asking for the help of a doctor. Her office was in Jobe among the clouds, on the middle island of the Jobean Archipelago. I can almost remember the taste of the warm chicken noodle soup she’d offered as a ‘remedy’, despite the fact that soup could never do enough. It did, however, keep me from going hungry…

    Dr. Duvall removed the fragments of claw from out of my leg, injecting antibiotics and painkillers to help me cope with what’d happened…I even seemed to be getting better, the nanoprogram failure indicative of the virus wearing away, as well as the greenish growths that’d developed over my arms and legs during the time. Those things would just come back, with a vengeance…but neither the doctor, nor I, knew.

    She drafted up a paper that I thumbed across while browsing the meager file, an analysis document on several things related to the pathogen…There was an analysis on the virus itself, an analysis of the antigen serum, and another one of a sample of water I’d asked a friend to collect from a pond near the small village of Drumdar.

    Curiously, not many people know about Drumdar…not even I know all the specifics, since at the time the incident happened, I was bedridden. Drumdar was a town situated in a small corner of The Longest Road, just south of Bliss. There was some sort of leak at Biomare involving the same virus I had contracted, and it had all been dumped into the region’s water supply, traveling downstream to Drumdar. I hadn’t seen it, but I heard stories of people just…changing. Right there on the spot, losing everything, going nearly insane with genetic damage forced unto them by the tainted waters they’d used to drink, and to wash their clothing. The changes for them were so rapid and traumatic, that they were fatal. I heard one story of a man who’d come back from the pond, his body mostly transfigured into something other than human, trying to tell his family he loved them…and he just ran into the woods to die.

    The whole town was quarantined, shut off from the outside world…Its inhabitants probably suffered the same thing I’m going through now, only on such a faster scale I found it difficult to believe, even now. Drumdar was in the past though…The victims of Biomare have long since died off, or been held against their will by Omni-Med, and there was nothing I could have done…But there’s at least one person I hoped to be able to save. Me.

    I kept looking through the papers, in hopes of finding it...Case files on victims of Biomare experimentation, studies of nanotech viruses, manmade pathogens and synthetic protein complexes, alien amino acids and viral-tech employed in Kyr’Ozch technology…But where was the one thing I was looking for?

    There had to be a chemical composition white sheet somewhere…There HAD to be! That’s the entire reason I went to the trouble to get to the Tower in the first place, and the one thing I had to have, if I was to keep a hold on myself…

    But it wasn’t there.

    I looked through the folder more times than I have fingers, and it wasn’t there…There was not even the slightest trace of a paper like that even existing anywhere outside Dr. Burke’s office, since the only place information like that would have been stored was right there.

    I…can’t describe how that felt...

    I truly was damned.
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  19. #19
    I didn’t close the filing cabinet. I…just didn’t care. How long would it be before I even remembered how or why filing cabinets needed to be closed?

    Only a day without my medication, and already through the despair, I was feeling sick….beads of sweat formed at my hairline, trickling down over my face in a strange kind of fever chill. I could feel the shivers spreading down through every nerve, knees weak in the joints…

    I wanted to scream, and to give up all at the same time. There was this tiny part of me, the part groomed by a good family beneath a single, yellow star that cried. It was losing, being enveloped by the beast...but even so, it screamed, it rebelled…and no matter how unfathomably useless it seemed at that moment, it felt in the least bit comforting. After all, if I were lost…I wholly would not care.

    My boots dragged along the dust-matted floor as I trudged along, towards the exit. There was nothing more for me in Truth Tower, no reason at all for me to continue. Lethargically I would carry myself, boots weakly kicking whatever was in their way, yellowed papers rustling and tearing beneath my feet as I made my way towards the door leading back down to the Council’s meeting hall.

    It didn’t even matter to me that, going back out of the tower, I would have to pass through security. Maybe if I were lucky, the system would make quick enough work of me, and end this nightmare before it truly began…

    Each step I took brought back a little more familiarity, that regal and official scent the lower parts of the tower in use possessed. I could smell the algae in the water nearby before I could even hear it sloshing gently about the tower’s central reflecting pool, the serenity of it all reminding me of meetings long past. The nostalgia was hard to deny even to a person waiting in death row for the soul…and being how nostalgia was one of those things driving me forward, I smiled.

    That didn’t last long, predictably…because something cut the silence. It was a footstep, the soles of someone’s boot clomping against the sandstone and marble flooring of the meeting hall, echoes pulsating through the room.

    Whoever that was…what would happen if I were spotted? Would I be arrested on sight for trespassing? The images of rotting away inside a jail cell flittered across my mind’s eye, fittingly seeing some beast in a cage, thrashing at the bars, until there was no option left for me but euthanization. Maybe I was feeling bereft of hope…but I still had some semblance of dignity.

    My trembling hand snapped down to the lightbender lashed to my NCU belt, claws clicking, scraping off its dusty and dirty surface, trying to flip it on.

    There was that familiar tingle associated with having one’s molecular makeup tinkered with, and upon closing my eyes, I could see my eyelids fade out of view and into the transparencies of a light, liquid glass.

    My footsteps had to be quiet to the point that not even I could hear them…my every sense riveted at whatever was making that noise from across the way.

    The Council’s meeting hall was divided into four ‘wings’ if you will. In the center of the large room is a podium, surrounded by the reflecting pool. From each side of the central stand, and across the reflecting pool, was an area with risers built into the stonework. In between each of these areas was a wall of sorts, with a door hewn through the rock…and it was one of these doorway-walls that kept me from seeing exactly who or what was making those footsteps.

    My body still ached with each footstep, the battered muscles in my legs straining with each movement. Hammers pounded at the tendons in my feet and stomach, my body tensing up even further from the sensation of stealth. I should have been used to it by now, as I should be with a lot of things, but each and every time I hide myself from the world, it is when I feel the most like I can be seen. Each sound amplified…and the mind constantly asks itself “Was I heard then?!”

    It didn’t take long at all before I knew who I was dealing with though…and the sight sickened me, slamming my already troubled mind with another raw, twisted blow of oversight.

    Standing right there before me, was Chrisax, a Council of Truth Clerical Staffer and Aideen Landau of The Unionists…

    I’d just walked in on the start of a Council of Truth meeting.
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  20. #20
    I just wasn’t prepared for what I’d seen there…

    There just wasn’t a way I could have possibly overlooked something *that* significant, and yet…there it was, staring at me in the face. Literally.

    Aideen was a gnarled, elderly atrox whose face bore all the hardships of a man whose entire reason for existing was to mine notum. He and his men, collectively known as The Unionists, are one of the greater influences within the Council, thusly within the Clans…and it is in no small part due to Aideen’s leadership ability. Though he speaks slowly, as if he took his time focusing on each word to leave his lips, each word is exactly what needed to be heard. To be frank…I liked Aideen.

    Too bad for me that, among his many talents, he had senses that was about as sharply honed as his leadership skills were. He stared directly at me, disgust written all over his face, a tired finger lifting to point directly at me.

    I hadn’t made a sound, that I knew of…I hadn’t flinched, even when the sight of this titanic oversight should have had me in a fit of screaming rage, ready to take whatever tattered rags of my reputation and my humanity I had, hurtling them against the floor until they were nothing more than meaningless threads…but I didn’t do that. I’m still just not that kind of person.

    If I hadn’t flinched before though, I certainly did then. I just felt…scared. Who wouldn’t, when a mere finger meant so much..? It could mean prison, it could mean death…

    “What is the…meaning of this…?” The words coming from Aideen sounded as if he had first ground them to a pulp with his teeth. Chrisax, on the other hand, merely stared at what he must’ve thought was air.

    “This old…atrox…has sharper senses…than some might think.”

    It took me all of five seconds to figure out how he’d seen me…My cape, essentially. The soft, velvety orange cape I’d kept draped over my shoulders hung low, beyond my waist and nearly to my knees…and it fluttered at the softest motion of the air. When combined with a lightbender, that tiny bit of fluttering translates into refracted, bent light. It would look like the air was rippling.

    There was just no point in keeping up this whole charade, if the man already knew I was standing right in front of him. Chrisax too, peered from beyond that slotted, lampshade-shaped helmet of his, and it was obvious I wasn’t fooling a single person in the room. Defeated, trying to keep myself together, I just turned the lightbender off.

    “Guess you do, Aideen.” I know I looked like hell, and the changing expression on both men before me said as much. I don’t think they were expecting to have seen me looking the way I did.

    “Whelp. You dare…defile this hall…with your presence?” Aideen’s expression hadn’t changed, not a muscle in his face had moved.

    “I’m not defiling a thing…I’m tired of skulking around.” Maybe there was a way I could worm my way out of this…I hadn’t been lying that I was tired of being some sort of shadow, but I knew I would have to lie about what exactly I was doing in the Tower. As much as some people did know about me and my condition, I didn’t want that kind of information getting to the Council. From there, something as big as that could only spread, making my life even more difficult…

    “Your patterns are too confusing, you know that Nulion..?” Chrisax crossed his emerald armor-coated arms, probably thinking back to other ‘appearances’ I’d made within the Council halls…all designed, without anybody knowing, to just give me more credibility with the Legionnaires.

    Aideen just nodded in agreement, his eyes not moving even the slightest bit from me.

    “ though nothing more...than a leet....who sees his final days... approaching. Your shadows…do not hide you well…” Aideen took so long to get his point across sometimes, with that tired old voice of his. I wondered if it maybe was from all the years of inhaling notum dust in the mines that coated the lining of his lungs, similar to what ancient coal miners might’ve experienced with black lung. What would you call it for a notum miner though…blue lung?

    If either one of them said a word after that, I don’t think I noticed…There were two scents coming closer, each one mingled with the other. One carried with it the faint, flowery and elegant scent I’d learned to associate with the Redeemed, the other seeming so much more…office-like. Smelling of paper, ink, freshly-pressed clothing and faint cigar smoke.

    I just…stared at the door, feeling that lump in my throat growing thicker and harder to speak through by the second. I must have gotten Aideen and Chrisax wondering, for a moment…wondering what exactly I’d seen, or heard…probably the last thing running through their minds was that scent was about as useful, if not more useful, than either one of those senses to me now.

    It didn’t take long of course, staring at the door in silence, two more men I’d come to know stepping through the partition door, their expressions immediately changing from contentment into disgust at the tiniest sight of my haggard self.

    “Good eveni-…” The voice laden with cigar smoke spoke up at the sight of Aideen and Chrisax…but stopped immediately, turning into little more than a disgusted mumble the instant he saw me.

    I was losing hope by the second…
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

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