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A character I've been working on, though he still needs some work. {IN-PROGRESS}




Detroit, July 7th

A Spark of Golden Hope: Episode 2


Well. That had certainly answered some questions. Unfortunately, it had raised plenty of others.

Everett had avoided lingering any longer than needed - he needed time to think, after all, and the open was not the place to do so. Without hesitation he'd grabbed one of the pamphlets and made his way to the edge of Midtown, a strange and seedy line drawn between the dense developed residencies and the ruins that seemed to personify the rest of the city. Standing in the shade, the mid-day sun still hot but in a more distant sense, he rested against a wall of concrete and thought carefully about what steps forward there would be.

Was she right? Was this really the way to make a difference? Could it really have been so simple, this whole time? The idea that the problems could be fixed by "the man on the ground" was one he'd always hoped as a child would be true, though the things he'd learnt as an adult had put those dreams to rest.

The thought of "facing resistance" wasn't comforting, but he'd had his fair share of run ins with the law, and she seemed to be a capable spokesperson and organizer... he could tell. Something about the way she had spoken, the way she had moved when addressing the people, the fact that she'd not backed down - even when her opening lines had caused more than a few angry murmurs from the people around him.

That girl has ideals. She knows what she believes in... and she's got no hesitation around fools-

Crunch.

The feeling of something soft and warm, wriggling at the back of his head, shook him from his thoughts. It was a strange and slightly eerie feeling that reached down into his stomach, and for just a moment he had the awful sensation that something very small and very ancient had just been snuffed out of existence.

"What, um... what was that?!" he thought, echoing in the dark golden light that he envisioned when his eyes were closed.

A delicate, pointed leg curled into the center of his mind's eye, My apologies, Mansa. I was making the best of an unusual circumstance.

A cold sweat crawled its way down the back of his neck.

"What... what does that even mean...?!" he seethed, his teeth gritting physically from the sheer focus on the internal discussion.

It is nothing of great importance - that place was surrounded by warm, ephemeral living things. They were beyond your perception, and your touch.

"Wait, you mean... did you just eat a ghost?!"

No.

Everett couldn't help but frown, pinching the bridge of his nose, the fume-stained oil of his finger tips coagulating into a thin grime that he would probably regret later if he couldn't get some sort of shower.

"Remind me one of these days to ask you more about this sort of stuff. It's weird enough having a magical spider in my brain without also, mmm... knowing the air is apparently filled with the equivalent of magical flies, too."

I will be certain to discuss it with you, Mansa.

Everett sighed physically, stretching his arms and cracking his knuckles with a single motion, before looking again at the pamphlet. There was the address, written in a tight, professional sort of font that he didn't recognize.

"Should I... what do you think? Is it worth a shot?"

A soft and rhythmic sound like swallowing, echoed in his inner ear.

The choice is yours, Mansa. You alone hold ruin and prosperity in your hands... however, I did feel something... strange, from this queen who holds fire.

"Queen?"

Undoubtedly, that mortal has the spirit of a queen in her voice. Her threads - at least the ones I could see - burn a zealous trail... for a certainty such a burning mind is one to guide a golden hand, if you are happy to allow it.

...

In fairness, he also had to think of where else he would go.

Between the risk of getting burned, or the oblivion of the pavement... what choice was there?

*********


The address led him south, through Midtown and beyond, and gradually the city thinned and industrialized. Cramped apartments gave way to construction - both abandoned and in-progress - which gave way to factories and warehouses. The horizon seemed to thin under an orange sky, as early evening set in and massive cargo ships docked and undocked from one end of the bay to the other.

Here, at the western edge of the bay, was an unremarkable building. Two stories tall, worn brick construction, though Everett didn't spend much time thinking about it. Even with the brief stop at the gym to use their showers - a trip that had cost him his last ten dollar bill - he was worn out, his thoughts foggy from hunger and the sun.

One shot to get this right... man, I really hope money talks.

He had trained himself to always keep his head low, his old duster black hat over his eyes, though it hadn't quite clicked the place was desolate and mundane, at least on the outside - there were no armed guards, no electric fences, no dogs or checkpoints.

Though if those flames were just for show, who knows how dangerous she is in an actual fight?

His shoes struck the concrete with an uneven beat as he approached the door, his breathing shallow, and tapped his knuckles against the glass door before opening it. Taking a moment to carefully close the door behind him, he tried to focus on the scene before him.

And then, with a deep breath, tried to hide his confusion. He had always been bad at hiding his expressions.

It's… much, much nicer in here than outside, wow. It’s even got that fresh paint smell.

I feel I might have led you astray, so please do not be fooled. I can see there is something lingering over this place.

The spider's echoes seemed to slow down, before fading gradually into the back of his mind, to the mere echo of a whisper - Traces and strands in the air. Please be cautious, Mansa. This queen of flames has stranger allies.

Everett swallowed, breathed again, and stepped forward. The reception had clearly been done up recently, with its sleek black desk and multi-layered coffee machine. The computers were the trendiest and latest models.

A number of abstract and surrealist paintings were hung up around the room, though most notable of all was a large blue poster. A man of bronze, his mouth bound by a cloth of red, white and blue - and there, beneath his chin, it read: “Patriotism means NO QUESTIONS.”

In every way he could think of it felt very much the modern, sleek office building - he half wondered if he’d accidentally walked too far and wound up in silicon valley.

But he wouldn't let himself be fooled. There was more to this place than met the eye.

"Hello, I..." he held up the pamphlet, wrinkled from his re-reading and from the sweat of his hands, "I was at the rally, near Midtown. I wanted to know how I could help with, um..."

He wiggled the fingers of his left-hand in an awkward sort of motion, though he had to pause mid-gesticulation with a hearty cough into his right sleeve.

He coughed again.

Once more.

...

Okay, that time he got it.

"Ahem," his accent finally becoming clearer from months of trying to 'blend in', "sorry about that. My name's Evan."

He paused again, the receptionist's expression more than a little uncertain.

"Atut. Mr Evan Atut. That's me."

I really should have practiced this beforehand.


Detroit,
15:30pm, July 7th


A Spark of Golden Hope: Episode 1


The day had felt uncomfortably long, the hot sunshine on the bleak pavement seeming to bounce back ten times as strong, a furnace to his thick and sweat-soaked clothes - vest, shirt, coat, wide-brimmed hat. Beard, technically, though only for lack of less conspicuous disguises.

The smell of smoke lingered in his nose and the smell of vomit lingered in his clothes, and he'd kept to the alleyways with a hurried pace, head down and out of sight as much as possible despite his feet and belly begging him to take a break. He feared much more than the police right now, so close to his goal...

In his left hand he clutched the tattered paper - a shoddy pamphlet, dry and decaying at the edges from anyone's guess how long of drifting on the wind or clinging to awkward corners of roof-tops or tree branches. On its reverse side was a map to the district, a cramped and over-developed area north of Midtown. It seemed like an okay sort of place to live, but in that dense and unyielding way that was so common to city residences.

Will these people show you the way, Mansa? whispered the spider, its voice echoing in his mind in time with the constant, uneasy quiet of the place, Or will you show them?

They promise prosperity... but they wouldn't be holding a rally if they didn't need a little help, after all.

The meeting place of the rally itself was a humble street corner, a rummaged together black and silver stage like some sort of street band, aluminium pipes linked up to low-cost stage equipment. The pizza joint opposite seemed empty, as people avoided lingering too long in the area aside from those attending the rally...

And all around, steadily increasing as he got closer, was a number of posters and graffiti - both in support and violent opposition - discussing metahumans or magic. He'd noticed a slight uptick in the number of police cars on the main roads, but he had steadily practiced the art of remaining unnoticed through sheer quality of unlikable smallness.

"Bum dressed in decaying beige" was not exactly a fashionable look, and the thick, matted stubble around his chin was constantly itchy. It was hardly a fitting look for the title the spider claimed was his, but the greatest kings had come from nothing, hadn't they?

As he approached the crowd, his mind wandered to that morning, and the line between charity and pragmatism.

----

That morning he had rested in the blasted out shell of a building, the place he'd called camp, until eleven. The warnings of the spider from the night before had been for nothing more than a lost soul called "Jack", and through the night and morning they'd developed a quiet, sudden sort of bond, even sharing his last few snacks with the man.

Jack had been in even worse shape then he was, drunk out of his mind and clad in a spit-laden old bomber's jacket, the last remnant of a Jack Daniel's gripped in his hand and ever more stale at the inside of the bottle.

"Y'all awful sweet," he'd whispered, "Us nobodies gotta, uh-"

The majority of Jack's Daniels came back up in a stinking torrent, staining the base of Everett's trousers as his breathing laboured, his eyes deteriorating somewhat, trying to maintain consciousness.

Everett's eyes went wide, panicking at the sad, yellowing sockets where the man's own eyes still barely remained, diluted and dazed.

Will you watch him die? whispered the spider, You need not choose prosperity.

But Everett knew there was no danger here. Only dust, and despair.

Desperately, Everett reached into his bag, pulling out the last water bottle, carefully bracing Jack's head against his knee, leaning him forward to raise the bottle to his lips. Everett's nose curled and he wanted to vomit, the man's acrid breath close to his, though he quickly reprimanded himself, bottling the instinct and reining in his focus.

"Not worth worrying about. Prosperity or ruin my ass! Right now it's just two guys in hell."

Most of it dribbled down his matted beard, but it didn't matter. Everett watched as the man's lips curled around the bottle, sipping it slowly. Trace by trace the man's thirst took over, his body's survival instinct kicking in strongly enough to overcome the terrible desire for death that his conscious mind had clung to.

As the last of it ran out, and Everett slowly reached down to take the mostly empty whiskey bottle from Jack, he was comforted to feel the slow and rhythmic breathing against his knee. Snoring loudly but soundly, Everett took the towel from his bag - for the most part a ragged and dirty thing, unwashed for longer than he liked to think about - and curled it, a makeshift pillow.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Everett suddenly realized that he could feel his own chest pounding. The same sensation as when the secret service had been pursuing him, but now...

This relief, this energy of survival, was stronger than before. There was a meaning to it. Something bigger than himself.

He looked down at the empty glass bottle in his hand, and pondered what awful circumstances had led Jack to this situation. The point at which wealth was but one of the problems, something deeper and more wicked than gold could fix alone.

... But I can't leave him with nothing.

Your hands hold prosperity, but freedom's gift is still theirs' to choose.

Jack would wake up the next morning alone, still alive, with a vaguely bottle shaped lump of gold in his hand. Next to it was a note, with the address for a pawn broker - one of the few in the city who hadn’t yet had a stranger pay them a visit in gold.



Now if only the police weren’t on the lookout for reports of a bum with golden hands.

----

At the rally he lingered at the back, unnoticed by all except those who stood closest to him. He got a few grubby looks and one guy’s expression read like a bulldog staring at its own vomit, but he tried to avoid getting too down about it.

Their focus was drawn, after all, by the scene of the stage - the person about to speak was a someone, and a someone who would change the world forever.

You are more than welcome to come play with any of my girls, Liseran! Though you prolly dun wanna play with Zoë she's a bit evil


Oi, she can't be that evil, Everett's a nice guy and he'll probably get suckered in by her cause hook, line and sinker so ya know.


Detroit, Downtown, abandoned construction site
11:48pm, July 6th


The young man sneered, the cold evening breeze having stung his eyes a little. He reached up with thin, dusty fingers to wipe it away, but winced as a trace of the ruins lingered behind. Only the glow of a small trash fire illuminated the area around him, the disorientation making the shadows in the peripheral all the worst.

In theory he should have grown used to them over these last few days, but in practice it was painfully difficult.

This place was not his home after all, but it was his residence for now. A blasted ruin of human failing, an image of an image, a shell within a shell. Twenty stories worth of what-could-have-been, collapsed by debt to the point where only those judged could hope to stay, away from the eyes of any who would hurt them.

Mansa, can you hear them? whispered the spider, Here, in the darkness. Your hiding place has been disturbed.

"I told you not to call me that-"

One cannot deny one's truth. Your hands hold the balance of ruin and prosperity. You are the Mansa, you mus-.


His stomach grumbling caught the spider off-guard, "Finally," and turned his attention to more immediate matters. He reached into the bag he had with him, pulling out a small peanut bar. Its aging orange wrapper was pristine by comparison to even the air surrounding it. It wasn't much, but after the first couple of bites he tried to chew more slowly, to linger on it. The sweetness of the chocolate, the saltiness on his tongue.

As he chewed, focusing his mind on every aspect of its texture, its colour, even things as inane as the history of the brand or the specific ingredients. Anything to get away from the ramblings of that damn spider.

Or the past. Or the future...

"...or the present."

He sniffed, the peanut catching in his throat a little as his body quivered, the taunting demons ever just out of reach, lingering in the darkness. He felt the pain begin to leave his body, running down the sides of his face, the quivering changing to jolts, the unfinished candy falling from his fingers as he lent his face into his knees.

But hope would not vanish forever, as a small piece of paper drifted on the wind, and found its way to the edge of the light...
Euuuugggghhhh

Sorry about my lack of activity guys, just caught up with the OOC section and need to catch up with the current IC situation as well.

Since my ideas for 'lone story arcs' for Everett seem to have been hijacked by my brain into becoming independent stories outside of the RP, I'm going to try and get involved with more collab stuff for Everett and have him involved in other player's story arcs, if they so wish.

Is there anyone in particular who would be interested in collabing, or any specific side plots that could work well if Everett was to show up and join?
Hey guys,

I'm really sorry about this, but I think it's probably best for me to drop out of this.
Every time I try to sit down and do a bobbling post I just get this big creative blank space and nothing really seems to be shifting it.
Well, I finally got out of hospital but have been reeling since I started suffering from a lot of the same symptoms again, so I've been feeling exhausted - mentally and physically - a lot of the time and have made little progress on my creative projects, Helium Frightful included.

I dunno how long it's gonna take me to recover from this and get back into the normal swing of things, honestly ):
My apologies for lack of posts, I have been extremely ill the last few days and am now in hospital expecting an operation soon. It's nothing dangerous, but I'm sure y'all can appreciate my creativity has taken something of a hit right now, dehydration and medication are a fun combination.

I will post once I'm back home with laptop access and feeling a little better. ^_^
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