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Updating! tl;dr this is a name change from Esoteric.

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Anastasia Imara Kalfox(F), March 12th 2656 (20), Callsign (Little Dragon), Alias (Stein).
"I know what the phrase infers. It isn't my job to inspire people, it is my job to meet expectations."

Raised to be a perfect soldier: Agressive, Stoic, and generally hard to read or understand. Not without kindness or friendliness. Open to ties of friendship, attraction, or even love but feelings are slow to manifest.
Average NC technician (Mechanic), Strives for perfection (Perfectionist), Analytical, Perceptive and instinctive. Quick, dexterous, fast, quick to react effecviently. Proficient in small arms and low-powered submachine guns, skills in CQC with hand-to-hand (Martial Arts) and knife.
Little Dragon: Medium Assault (Volkov). Armaments unknown.
Polaris Shift: Unknown
Kathryn Sheryl Draght(F), May 4th 2663 (13), Callsign (Phantasm), Alias (Ryn).
"Wasn’t ‘xactly taken seriously at first. ’cuz you’re a kid oh my god where is your adult?! Fuckin’ morons."

Abrasive, Loud, Arrogant, Boastful, Blunt, Confrontational, Condescending, and generally an antangonist to a senseless point. Cares about only herself at the end of the day. Not heartless, hates helplessness that reminds her of how helpeless she was once and will give out help to those people (obtuse "circle of life"). Materialism, Self-medication, and a strive to prove herself to people who are dead or gone.
A fighter who will do everything to win (Brawler). Sloppy Mechanic with basic knowledge of electrical engineering (Junker).

Phantasm: Medium Sniper (Fairbanks). Armaments unknown.
Polaris Shift: Unknown
Harrison Richard Kane(M), July 4th 2643 (33), Callsign (Liberator), Alias (Kane)(IX-82B)

“The difference between justice and vengeance is perspective.
My perspective is to smile and nod.”

Rory Sonels


Lock (His Vanguard Alias)


D - O - B
December 3rd, 2648 (27)

Tenbington, Central European Territories

Rory is something of an enigma when it comes to his particular line of work. A fun-loving, adrenaline-seeking debonair with a sarcastic flair. Working basically as a gun for hire has given him the people skills he needed to get through life and put himself on top for his area; and doing it in a stolen rig meant learning how to run, fight, or talk his way out of a plethora of situations. If a lot of that talking involves an equal amount of drinking, well, that's just how the cards are dealt. He's very certain that he's not an alcoholic. A smoker, a gambler, a flirt, but never an alcoholic. He considers himself more of an enthusiastic drinker, a connoisseur of fine, adult beverages.

When it comes to "the line of duty", it seems all fun and games with Rory. He enjoys what he does and he finds immense pleasure in taking down a mark. War is hell for some, the backlash can be even worse, but Rory doesn't care. There's only one thing sweeter than that rush of adrenaline, and that's winning. As long as he comes out with all of his fingers and toes, he probably had a good time. Even if that means he lost and kicked around a fair bit. He's usually one to try and rise to the occasion, he loves a good challenge, but you can't win every time. Where's the fun in that?

Rory is definitely a people-person, even if everybody doesn't find him charming. He doesn't care what people say about him, and it's more than likely he doesn't care about what people say about others. That's not to say he doesn't enjoy some good gossip, he'd just rather see things for himself and make his own opinions. There's good in everybody, even if it's hard to see. He doesn't care if somebody is as cold as ice, reserved, and seems to have a permanent scowl—He'll still offer them a dance or a drink. He has a good sense of morality, and tries to do right by others. Even if his definition of loyalty is a tad loose, comparatively.

Coming to New Anchorage means new experiences, new friends and foes, and a chance to be a part of something a bit bigger. Despite being relatively quiet about his past, when asked Rory tells everyone that he just got tired of the "merc life" and wanted something steadier. Sometimes he tells them it was wanderlust, or that he had a growing sense for adventure, that he wanted to see new horizons.. well, he says a lot of things.

Rory doesn't refer to the effects of his Polaris Shift as suffering, but rather experiencing. Before he took over this particular neural combatant it had been piloted by a woman by the name of Nadia Kinnet, who had named her machine "Jackdaw", a source of inspiration for the current call sign of "Magpie". Rory has a hard time recalling who he was before he became a pilot, what he liked, what his mannerisms were. Maybe he was different, or maybe he was the same, but the fact remains that he shares many things with Nadia.

At times certain events, situations, sounds, smells, and so forth will trigger something inside Rory's mind, invoking something of a vision. He'll see a part of Nadia's life, whatever memory is associated with the triggering event, and it will play as if he was experiencing the memory through Nadia's eyes. Fortunately these events tend to be very brief, ranging from a quick glimpse to perhaps a minute. They can be frequent however, though Rory isn't certain why.

It's something of a conundrum for him. Nadia was also a lover of dance, sharing his particular taste in music, she was a drinker, a smoker, a gambler, and a vivacious coquette. She loved fun, and piloting her Jackdaw. They are so similar, that Rory isn't quite sure how to look at the situation. Is he becoming her, or is it coincidence? Should he be having an existential crisis? Oddly enough, there was another pilot before Nadia. Rory's had glimpses of her life where she's dealing with quite literally, the same issues he's having now. Though even when Rory is looking through Nadia's eyes, he's never seen whatever it was that she did when the same event happened to her. It's actually rather hard to notice when she's experiencing her Polaris Shift.

In fact, the only reason he really knows at all is because Nadia's said as much. At any rate, the whole experience interests him greatly, and he's taken to writing them down when he has the privacy, and time to do so. Especially when it comes to trying to pin down changes in himself, similarities, and the differences between himself and Nadia. Writing things down has become even more important to him since he realized he has gaps in his memory and no longer remembers certain events. These holes are chunks of Nadia's memories. These acquired memories seem to reflect what was happening in her life around the time of the memories Rory has lost.



Over the course of his life, Rory's physique has become strong, but toned rather than bulky, despite having somewhat broad shoulders. His training in Vanguard, and subsequently with Western Digital gave him the speed, endurance, and stamina he needed to be more than just an effective soldier. When it comes to his physical prowess, he's no superstar, but he's definitely above average, which is something he tries to maintain. His slim form is suitable to his line of work, including the fact that he's not overly tall (5'6). Though, despite his time in the sun, his body barely holds a tan, so his skin reflects his Caucasian nature, with only the barest hints of a brownish tinge.

He keeps his charcoal black hair at a short-medium length, but he fails to do anything stylish with it. Typically this means pulling it away from his face, maybe locking it down with some hairspray. Despite his cordial nature, Rory's eyes lack the warmth most people would expect, being a cool, muted blue-gray, emphasis on the gray. Otherwise, he's nothing too special. He keeps himself clean shaven, and has an averagely decent looking face, all the right planes and angles without any too prominent features. He keeps himself well groomed.

His personal style as evolved into vests, collared shirts, and sleek pants, at times accompanied by a sharp jacket or a poppin' peacoat. Otherwise, he's been known to just wear simple shirts and pants, even jeans. He's no stranger to neckties, and has a fur-lined jacket he favors. Unfortunately, New Anchorage is no place for dress shoes, so instead he's deferred to well polished, black dress boots—Practical, and stylish.

Programmer - Rory has a deep and complex understanding of Net++ and what his capabilities are within the code's structure. Though he can't disrupt the neural net or its link to the pilot, he can cause all sorts of mayhem when it comes to the NC's modules and system functions. Primarily, he's quick to shutdown an NC once he's tethered and able to desync from Magpie. His notable battlefield abilities in this department are creating misinformation, and gathering enemy intelligence such as unit positions, and key targets or assets.

Irregular - Rory's something of a special operator. During his time in Vanguard, he was taught how to infiltrate and take out key targets, obtain information, or sabotage key systems. He's actually very good at what he does, and has years of experience in this particular line of work. Along with this, he's also good with close quarters, and short range combat. He's best with a pistol, knows his way around a tactical knife, and is exceptional at hand-to-hand combat. A part of this training is waiting, and knowing when to move. Rory usually has the patience to wait for a rock to die of old age.

Agile - An attribute that goes hand-in-hand with his orientation towards being sneaky. Rory, being moderate in strength, is better at being quick and quiet. He may not bench-press NC modules, but he can move like a whisper at a steady pace. Even his close quarters training is geared towards using his greater mobility to defeat his opponents. He can also go most places people can't, and with much more ease than most would find in traversing difficult obstacles. Climbing, Scaling walls, falling from above average heights, and so forth.

Sociable - Rory's found that having friends, camaraderie, and general social interaction makes life a lot less lonely. He enjoys the company of others, especially those who enjoy his. Even more so if it involves any of his vices; Drinking, Smoking, Gambling, or Dancing, although not many people know his style for the latter. Talking to people, it's usually something he's good at. Despite his honest nature, he knows when a solid lie, or misdirection is required.

Rory's prone to keeping cigarettes and alcohol on hand, along with a boot-knife and a pistol tucked in the small of his back. He rarely takes off his Datatool. In the field he usually carries two pistols, two knives, and two smoke grenades, and (two) climbing hooks with toggled thermal-tips. Lucky number two, baby.


Medium (Image)


Personal Force-Shield Generator (Left Shoulder) - Probably one of the most important Modules in Magpie's arsenal. The force-shield generator practically ensures Rory's survival by intercepting projectiles, thermal beams, and absorbing explosions to an extent. It can take a good amount of abuse before failing entirely and requiring time to recharge.

Leg Thrusters (Upper Legs, Rear)- Magpie's has thrusters built into the legs to provide extra speed and mobility for a limited time. These thrusters can be angled, to help achieve a stable balance, especially when Rory is attempting to tether to an enemy combatant.

Projectile Tether (Right Arm) - Rory can fire a thick, tether cable from the underside of Magpie's right wrist. It travels at a high velocity and utilizes a thermal-tip to punch trough an enemy combatants armor and shields. Unfortunately, it has a shorter range of about 100 yards (300 feet), meaning he has to be danger close to use it. The tether can be reeled back in, and can be fired from the under-barrel attachment of Magpie's gun. Additionally, the tether delivers a single, powerful electrostatic shock upon establishing a connection. Usually this disables Rory's opponent long enough for him to desync and access his datatool.

Amplified Connection Module (Right Shoulder) - A module with the sole purpose of syncing with Rory's datatool and increasing it's power and performance. Through use of the tether, the module establishes a link with enemy combatants, and allows Rory to manipulate and insert code through his datatool. All three of these devices must be working in harmony for him to achieve access to another neural combatant in such a forcible way.

Stealth Field Generator (Left Shoulder) - Dubbed the Chameleon's Cloak, this particular module can be activated through Magpie's left forearm. Rather than mystically make his NC invisible, the SFG module captures surrounding imagery and reflects it through the opposite side of his armor, creating near perfect camouflage.

Paramagnetic Coating - A specialized, clear coating that's bonded with the Magpie's alloy plating, the Paramagnetic coating is an electroluminescent paint with different combined layers. The Chameleon Cloak assigns colors electrical signals of varying strength and wavelengths, these energize the paramagnetic coating, rotating the atoms based on the electrical signal and combining different layers. This effectively creates a pattern pixel by pixel, allowing Magpie to achieve its camouflage.

Twin-barrel Thermal Rifle (Right Hand) - Magpie's primary offensive weapon, the rifle creates a rapid succession of thermodynamic beams, or lasers. The Magpie's right fist compresses together to form a hollow, square plug, which can be inserted into the rifle's port, giving the weapon the ability to utilize Magpie's anti-matter core for energy. Rory can "eject" the weapon and use Magpie's right hand if needed. There are specialized clips along Magpie's back to hold the weapon when not in use.

Scutum Shield (Left Hand) - Quite literal, Magpie's shield is a thick slab of metal, meant as a second line of defense should Magpie's shields go down. Optionally, it can be swung with enough force to make it an impromptu melee weapon. It may not be as good as a sword, but it can still be used to bash somebody to death.

Magpie began as an effective war machine, but when Rory first climbed into the cockpit it had been recycled into a prototype mech. Rory, with the help of Vanguard, and then Denver-Vegas, has since turned back into a machine fully capable of achieving its potential. Rory's kept it a neutral, unassuming brown-gray color, not unlike that of dried mud, in an attempt not to draw particular attention to himself. Though it's an under-average combatant, having only a single rifle of average strength, it's real potential relies on getting up close and personal, where Rory can fully achieve his role as battlefield support.

Magpie is light-weight, and on the smaller side of medium combatants. It relies heavily on it's modules and lacks any real powerful, destructive armaments. Magpie's only raw power comes from the strength and achievable velocity of its limbs, giving it the ability to grapple and hold enemy NCs in place, or bludgeon and smash them into an inoperable state.

The sun was shining brightly, bathing the day in its golden rays of light and warmth. All around the small cafe’s patio the world was alive, buzzing and humming with the sounds of a city truly alive. Yet, it felt wrong, as if seen through a murky glass, a reflection of something that was not. Makiah stared out at them, the people, with a flutter in her heart. Their skin, pale, and spiderwebbed with black as if the very flesh itself had cracked. Not unlike her own, she noticed with a start. The hard covering over her hands and forearms crackled as she stared at her hand, watching her fingers move, watching the dull orange glow between the crevices of her new skin. The people were watching too.

Kia reeled back, standing suddenly. Everybody had stopped moving, a still hush had fallen over them as they stared with their lifeless eyes, hundreds of shadowy pools focused on her. She whirled around her, even the waiters and the other patrons had stopped, staring at her with the same lifeless stare. Kia leaned against the short railing bordering the outside area, her meal long forgotten as her heart tried to rip its way from her chest as it hammered against her ribs. A cold hand wrapped itself around her arm, and without hesitating she screamed and jerked away, but it held her fast. Other hands joined in seizing hold of her, ignoring her shrills cries as they dragged her over the railing and into.. Darkness.

She floated there, wordlessly and filled to the brim with fear. Her legs knocked against something, and she looked down to find herself standing on a stretch of carpet. When she looked up again, she was standing in a hallway. It was dark, with flickering fluorescent lights that swung freely from the ceiling, or lay against the ground. Twisting forms of metal pierced the walls, their iron guts spilled out into the hallway and creating a hazardous path that Kia found herself walking through. She hadn’t noticed she was walking, she felt as if she was on autopilot as she stepped around broken walls and rended iron, pebbles and glass cracking beneath her bare feet.

She felt compelled, drawn to the end of the dim hall with its failing light, where the space gave away into an ocean of all-consuming darkness. A veil so thick it seemed she would walk directly into and find her progress obstructed. Yet, as she drew nearer, she could see tens of hundreds of stars, twinkling in the darkness, blinking in and out of existence. She stopped, her toes dangling off the edge of the path, hovering over the abyss. Somehow she felt that if she fell, she would never return. Instead, her eyes wandered out into that sea of shadow, at the tiny pinpricks of lights so far off in the distance.

A small form broke away from the darkness, or rather, it seemed to turn around. Kia sucked in a breath through her teeth. A small, raven haired girl stood before her, with eyes so bright they mimicked the stars. Kiah felt her mouth moving, ”Who are you?”, but heard no sound. The silence pressed in all around her as the girl moved forward, the stars growing bigger and brighter as she did until the small figure had to crane her neck up to see the taller woman’s face.

”Key it’s time to go..” The small girl said, her eyes glimmering as she looked up. The small girl looked lost, and sad, as if she were on the verge of tears. But smiled, the shadows on her face grew darker, giving her a haunted look. ”It’s time to go Key!” The girl shouted in Natalie’s voice. Kiah reeled back as the girl lunged for her, stumbling and falling hard against the surface of the floor.

Makiah shot upright, gasping for air as the fear of the unknown squeezed her heart. Her eyes searched frantically around her, trying to make out the dangers in the darkness as she slowly adjusted. Natalie’s face swung into view, and suddenly Makiah remembered where she was at. The office, with the others feeling the.. The horror of—She blinked, remembering that the danger was still out there, still lurking.

”Key, we’ve gotta go,” Natalie voiced quietly, taking her sister’s hands and pulling her to feet. Natalie had flinched. Barely, but when their hands had met, her slick, cool fingers grasping the hard, rough surface of Makiah’s. Kiah smiled softly, straightening her rumpled clothes. A hollow, thunderous boom echoed out from below, sending small vibrations through the office complex.

”What was..?” She asked, looking at her sister sideways as she gathered the few things she’d need from her purse.

”The military or something are outside, stirring up the.. the..”

“Ferals,” A man standing next to the window finished. Makiah looked at him, suspenders holding up his pants and a shaggy mane of hair stuffed beneath a knit cap, “..and I think that’s Marine Corp down there, them boys were stationed in the city waiting for redeployment I think, when everything happened.”

”Key, that’s Dumont-”
”Ery’one jus calls me Monte.”

Makiah shot a glance at her sister, ”Always nice to make new friends, consdering..” she let the statement hang and instead motioned around her with both of her arms.

”Ay, agreed man, friends are gonna be lackin’ something awful in the days to come.”

”Alright if we’re done with the formalities, I say it’s high time we left.”

”Agreed, there’s a storm running through them streets, I dun wanna be ‘ere when it decides to pay us a visit, ya’ know?”

Makiah tossed down her purse, and the largely useless items it still held—Cosmetic stuff mostly. Pocketing her necessities, she stepped around the broken pots and dying plants carefully to stand next to Monte. They were right. Down below a heavy convoy was rolling through the street, complete with armed soldiers and ,what Makiah figured from all those war movies, were some type of APC, or tank. Maybe a mix of both, she never really kept up on military tech. Ferals were pouring out of every nook and cranny, forming a seemingly unbreakable wave as they charged from both ends, but when they got close the vehicles, the two of them, would fire and blow huge holes through the crowd.

”C’mon, it’s not a fucking movie,” Nat commanded, pulling Makiah away from the window. Monte glanced at her, offering her a sympathetic smile as they moved out into the work area. Makiah found it hard to believe that not even twenty-four hours ago, this place had been filled with busybodies trying to climb the corporate ladder. Now.. now it was full of haggard faces in dirty clothes, crying children, the injured, and a few others like.. Well, like herself.

They made their way through the hopeless, the people sitting or crying who had no more will to move, those who could no longer face the world outside. Makiah felt a pang of sadness in her heart, those people would probably be sitting there when the creatures outside found them. At the far end of the area, a silent crowd had gathered with a rather large man at the forefront. A construction worker, probably, seeing as he was wearing a hard hat. The guy was giving soft instructions, perhaps he was a manager of some sort, and his new, haphazard crew seemed eager to follow his lead. Nat nodded her head, motioning forward as she pulled Makiah into the fringes of the crowd.

“..If we go up, we’ll get stuck.. So we gotta go down and we gotta be real quiet about it.” The foreman was saying, his hands out with the palms down to emphasize the need for silence.

“Down?! Down there with those monsters?!” A frantic voice exclaimed, a wiry, jittery man at the front of the crowd. “We’ll die out there!” He said none-too-softly.

“And where are you going to go when you’re stuck on the roof and those.. them things come for you?!”

”Ferals,” Monte added, earning him a withering stare from the would-be leader.

“If we go out the back, quietly, we can make it.. I say we head for the tunnels,” Hard-Hat said, motioning with his hands as if he was half pleading, half commanding.

“Fuck that!” Another shouted, a red-haired bulbous man who was sweating far too much, “There’s only death down there! Get out of my way! I’m going up! There will be choppers looking for us! There’s always choppers!” The stocky man pushed forward, urgued by the murmurs of agreement behind him.

“I’m telling you,” Hard-Hat began before some of the crowd pushed past him, “Fine, fuck ‘em then, let's go.”

Nat looked back at her two companions, shrugging and following the crowd downwards. It was slow progress, but Natalie had to give it to the some thirty-odd people for being relatively quiet. There wasn’t much more than a cough here, a sniffle there, all of which were followed by the hasty sounds of somebody being hushed. The stairwell was dark, and even with everybody’s current composure, every soft footfall sounded ominously loud. Within the confining walls the sounds of the battle raging outside had become quite muffled, excluding the plaster-loosening blasts of the armored vehicles.

The crowd filed out into the lobby. Being on the ground level seemed to heighten the group’s frayed nerves, Makiah could feel them trembling as she slithered through them—Or was that herself shaking? Monte snaked his way forward, rather gracefully, tapping Nat’s shoulder for her attention and nodding his head towards the rear of the building. As they turned to make their way through the milling bodies awaiting guidance a hail of gunfire erupted from outside, sounding far to close to comfort. A stream of shadowy figures passed before the lobby’s doors and windows, a tide of blurred bodies running through the darkness.

An explosion rocked the group, blowing the glass inwards and showering the gathering of anxious people in a spray glass and slick wetness. Makiah flinched back, nausea welling up inside her. The downed creatures outside, those that could still run, hobble, or crawl.

“Oh fuck man we’re gonna fucking die,” Somebody said, the voice was too far for Makiah to see who it had been. A second explosion smashed into the ferals, scattering limb and beast alike. Shadowy figures hurled into the darkness, crashing into the crowd or sliding across the rubble strewn floor. Not even half a second later a woman screamed, bringing the ferals that could still move back into a frenzy. More screams and yells joined the chaos, pulling the attention of many of those still picking themselves up outside, recovering from the blast.

Makiah could vaguely hear somebody out there shouting, orders perhaps, but that was quickly forgotten as Natalie all but dragged her across the floor towards the back. They rounded a corner, and now away from the initial panic, they make quick work charging down the hallway. Other survivors were close behind them, seeing no other way out than to follow the two women. Natalie, in the lead, raced past the other doors lining the hall and threw herself full-bodied against the rear exit, as if expecting some sort of resistance. The push-bar clicked and the door flung itself open, slamming against the outer wall.

Makiah was right behind her, something Nat made certain of with a quick over-the-shoulder glance before turning down the alley—Opposite of where she expected the ferals to be streaming from. Makiah turned out into the alleyway, the smell of which seemed to pass over her like a physical barrier, and turned after her sister. ”N-Nat!” Kia wheezed, trying to garner her sister's attention.

Natalie stopped, turning towards the distant sound of Makiah’s voice, and found herself surprised that she was nearly already at the end of the alleyway. Unbeknownst to her, she had been sort of phasing in and out of using the power she was only vaguely aware of. Nat turned, jogging the last few paces to the mouth of the narrow space between the buildings to survey the street. Thank god the streetlights were on, she had a pretty decent view of the road in both directions. A minute later Makiah came up, sucking in breaths of cold air and bracing her hands on her knees in a slouch.

”Look, over there,” Nat started, motioning for Makiah to look off to their right, ”They’re still fighting up that way.. I say we keep to the alleys.”

”Phew,” Monte began in a whisper, standing at the forefront of the faster runners crowding behind them, ”What I wouldn’t give to have what you have.. Just blurring up the way here in hops ‘an skips.”

”I think you’re right,” Kiah agreed with Nat, looking out into the road beyond. The street was well lit, but still had a scattering of abandoned cars and other debris; metal balconies, toppled trees, doors and wall fragments. The area past the intersection on the left side was obstructed by a pileup, a box truck and a few smaller vehicles.

“If we hang a left ‘round that corner there,” A voice said, pointing with a flannel-covered arm, “We’ll hit the metro tunnels. Can’t be any worse than up ‘ere eh?”

The three looked back to find that Hard-Hat had caught up with them, and was still determined to see his plan through. ”Honestly, that’s not a terrible idea.”

”I wouldn’t mind getting away from this madness for a bit,” Monte added with a shrug.

”And what if those..”
”Ferals,” Monte finished.

”Right, those Ferals are down there?”

“Well, the tunnels are basically a labyrinth. There are side rooms and maintenance ways, protected by some pretty thick metal doors, I’ve done work down there.”

“Fuck this, I’m not waiting around any longer!” A squeaky voice exclaimed in a harsh whisper, pushing his way to the forefront and moving towards the presumed metro entrance. Natalie watched the people streaming past as hard-hat popped up before her, “C’mon lass, can’t be any worse than up here.” He didn’t wait for a reply however, and joined the others in making their way carefully through the dim street.
”I can think of a hundred ways it could be..” Natalie grumbled softly with a shrug, motioning for Makiah and Monte towards the other survivors weaving their way across the road. Another resounding explosion served to hasten their step, and before they knew it the three of them were staring down at the backs of people from every walk of life as they descended a flight of stairs into the Manhattan subway tunnels.

”At least the lights still work,” Makiah added chipperly.
Borg is the first person to add his flavor to the world, in a small way. Added "heavy vehicles" to the sector description to match what he said in the IC.

The Army boys at JFK (Sector Q13) now have big vehicles with big guns. I guess they're going to have an easier time of things now, I hope they say thank you Borg. :)
Disclaimer: I was tired and did not proof read.

A cold, salty breeze howls over the breaking waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The night was wearing thin, and the early gray light of dawn would be approaching soon, but not on this night. No, this night was to last, a perpetual darkness heralded by the shrill notes of the wind. For in its wake tumbled tumultuous thunderheads, their colors so dark and muted as if to appear the manifestation of the night itself. High, over the bay they came, silently stampeding across the sky. It cast it’s great, monstrous shadow of the city of New Windsor, its underbelly highlighted only by the dim glow of light and flame. It crackled out a thunderous roar, signaling the denizens of its arrival. A hollow, window shaking boom echoed through the city of glass and steel, through flesh and blood, and across the chaos that was still unfolding.

The gale plummeted downwards, twisting low through the buildings and whipping the conflagrations into a new frenzy. It swept its icy tendrils across the backs of those below, slithering between the press of bodies struggling for dominance. Past a failing barricade it went, the illuminating light of the street lamps washing pale faces sweating with desperation as the men in women in their uniforms fought a losing battle for their lives. Through the hysteria of sprinting, shrieking bodies, bloodied and batter from their war. They ran, head down against the wind, tumbling and crashing over one another like a vicious wave of fangs and claws, eager to get at the weaker life forms hiding behind their paltry barricades.

Between buildings and through shattered windows it raced, sending shivers down the spines of those in hiding. A mother cradling a small, weeping child, neither finding the comfort of sleep this night. Next to them a worn face, covered in soot choked back quiet sobs, torn between his sorrow and his fear of being too loud. A hundred faces, all gathered, all twisted with agony, ache, or defeat, gathered by a single purpose—To Hide. A man moaned in a drug induced sleep, one that the severe gashes on his back would prevent him from ever waking from. His worrisome girlfriend dabbed at her tears, the small flame of hope not yet extinguished in her. A grandfather gives up his meal to a young child, but his haggard face shows no optimism for the younger generation.

Through hallways and corridors it drifted, gathering itself once more outside before continuing its journey. It passed close to a blaze, stroking it with a tender caress and departing with a whirl of smoke and ash. From the other side of the crackling glow shadows prowled, some hunting like animals, others crouched over a meal. Some stood stock still, staring blankly at nothing in particular, waiting for something. A larger beast prowls through the narrow hall, its massive bulk scraping and tearing away at the walls. It let loose a growl, louder and more beastial than any creature known to man, and the wind gathered up the sounds and carried them off into the night.

As the wind flows, so too does the passage of time. All things are born, and all things die. History becomes legend, and legend becomes myth. Stories become tales, and build into epics. But all things, all things will turn to dust. It is the will of man to fight this cycle. And so, as the wind flows, so too does man struggle to shatter the bonds of time, and rewrite the threads of destiny. But as threads are revealed to the light, so too, do they become bathed in shadow. All things are achievable, and so too, are all costs.

Natalie sat perched upon a narrow ledge spanning the length of a wide, office window, her back set up against the wall. The potted plants that had once inhabited this space laid shattered on the floor, their earthy guts spread across the thin, blue carpet. She sat with one elbow braced against a propped up knee, her chin in her hand and her restless gaze staring down into the depths of the city below her. There was still plenty of light to see by, somehow, even though all of the smaller lights, like the office lights for instance, didn’t work. The streetlamps and other municipal lights down below were still going strong, at least there was that.

Her gaze swept out across the small cubicle space, pointedly ignoring the slick, black coating running the length of her forearms. Her eyes settled on the sleeping form of Makiah, who had collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Nat got up to place her black leather jacket over her, before giving a small, hysteric laugh as she studied the glowing cracks on Kia’s arms and around her eyes. A sad half-smile played at her lips, Nat doubted her sister would ever get cold again.

She slumped back down, fishing in the pocket of her jeans for a mostly crumpled cardboard package and placing an equally rumpled cigarette between her lips. The tiny glow of the lighter flame revealed the glossy blackness of her fingers, which caused Nat to sneer as she took in a slow drag. A soft vibration traveled through the building as she exhaled, her attention once more turned back to the outside world.

A store down below was on fire, the remains of its windows glittered from their scattered places in the street. Nat was only a few stories up, she figured less than ten as there hadn’t exactly been time to count, but she could make out the details below. Something strange was happening to her, she felt all-around sharper, as she watched the hordes of shadowy bodies below. Her eyes tracking the movements with ease, even if she couldn’t quite make out much detail. A squadron of, well, some sort of military battalion probably, was backpedaling down the street whilst unleashing an onslaught of death at the horde of those .. those things. There was a bright muzzle flash as what Nat figured was some sort of tank fired again, it’s projectile erupting in the street and scattering asphalt, dirt, and bodies through the air.

Her gaze was fixed on the scene below, one part abject horror, and the other morbid curiosity. The infected people were too fast, too relentless in their pursuit. Nat knew first hand they did not feel pain, or emotion, and they definitely did not tire. The hellish once-people plowed into the attacking group, and without any sort of grace they broke and ran: Just in time to witness more of their enemies flowing around the corners behind them like a crashing tide, trampling each other to get the defenders. Every sort of defense Nat had witnessed had been like this. ”There are just so fucking many of them,” she thought, ”And not enough of us.. Poor bastards.”.

That’s why they had gone up here. Following the silent flow of terrified people, before eventually securing themselves a cubicle. The once-people were attracted by noise, that much was obvious. Although Nat thought they couldn’t see so well, but she wasn’t about to test that theory. She could definitely be wrong. Spending the better part of a day running through hell itself didn’t leave a whole lot of time for detail. Nat looked down, realizing she had let her cigarette burn idly away, lost in her thoughts. A politely quiet sound came from behind Nat, somebody clearing their throat and obviously trying not to wake the other occupant.

Nat turned to look at them, or rather him, but he reeled back with wide eyes and his arms up. ”Problem Bro?” She asked, standing and doing her best to look imposing through the dimness.

“N-nah,” He stammered, Nat could tell he was around her age by the way he spoke, “Jus wonderin’ if you could spare a stoge man.”

Nat chuckled, waving him in and motioning towards her impromptu seating area, ”You looked like I was about to shank you or something,”

The guy flashed a grin, taking the offered cigarette as Nat took another for herself, one she fully intended to smoke this time. “Well, with the way you whipped your head around, I mean, it just didn’t seem none too friendly, ya know?” Nat studied him for a moment, whipped?, before a frown tugged down the corners of her mouth. ”Did I…?” she thought, but let it trail off instead, unwilling to pursue the implications further. The guy motioned towards Makiah, and the dull glow around her.

“She’s got it too ‘eh?” He asked with a shrug, producing his own lighter. For a brief moment Nat caught a good look at him; white collar shirt, nice looking charcoal pants with suspenders, glasses, and a knit, purple beret—A regular hipster.

”Got what?” Nat questioned suspiciously. If he tried anything..

“Dunno man, Whatever it is it ain’t like whatever’s out there, ya’ know? Ya’ll right by me, long as you don’t try nothin’ huh?”

”Right..” Nat murmured, casting a worried look at Makiah. It bothered her, not knowing whatever the fuck it was the was happening to her, to them.

“Sides’..” He said, following Nat’s gaze as he took a drag, “ ‘sa real pretty glow, don’tcha think?”

”I guess you’re right,” Nat said with a soft chuckle. Things were insane, but her frayed nerves were finally getting a rest. Having a rather normal conversation wasn’t so bad either, even if he was a smelly hipster—The thought made her smile. They sat in silence for a time, watching a world that seemed far away and distant, but also uncomfortably close, until the wind shifted and obscured their view with a column of smoke.

“Hey,” he said, breaking the silence, “You ain’t a bad gal, I appreciate the smoke. I figure this new world, heh, if we survive it will run like them movies and games do right? Off of trade and what not so here’s a tip, check the wifi networks on your phone and hook into the Net, it’s mad rad man.”

”The Net?” Nat asked, already reaching for her phone.

“Just check it out, best we got since the news went down.”

He gave a small wave, leaving the space and heading off towards.. Somewhere. Nat grimaced, realizing that no amount of holding the button to her phone was going to bring it back to life. She got up quietly, crouching over Makiah, who usually had a charge in her bag. Nat slipped the strap off of her shoulder, wrangling the scarf away from it and flinching as her fingers brushed across Kia’s hot skin. Her first instinct was to jump to the conclusion that Kiah had a Fever, but she remembered quicker this time, though it didn’t make her feel any better.

Nat took her place once more, sliding the prongs into the wall and awaiting the charging screen to show. And then she remembered another thing, domestic power was down. She cursed softly, moving once more and using every stealthy skill she’d picked up from old ninja movies to slip her sister’s phone from her pocket. [67%].

”Fucking long life bullshit,” she murmured, wincing at the bright glow stabbing her eyes as she drew the unlock pattern. Nat couldn’t help but smile back at the face of her sister in the background, dressed all the world like a hippie, complete with the crown of flowers and peace-sign made with her hand. She did as the guy instructed, never once finding it weird that neither of them had introduced themselves.

It didn’t take long to connect to a network under the name of SURVIVOR .net, though she’d never once heard of it before. She pulled open the web browser app on the phone, expecting to search around for some information when the page redirected to a.. Registration screen? Old school forum style, except it wasn’t asking for an e-mail. She signed herself up under the alias of Thrasher69 with a mischievous chuckle, but it worked.

She was redirected once more, and then immediately caught a large headline at the top of a forum page, ”Where’s the sun at?!”, a post created by some dude under the guise of The_Savant. Nat glanced at the clock on the phone, realizing she had totally missed the time display on the lock screen. 9:38a.m, ”What the fuck?” she thought, glancing back out the window. That couldn’t be right.. It still looked like the dead of night out there, at least what she could make out through the haze of smoke. It wasn’t exactly pitch black, more like the kind of dimness that creates obscure pools of shadow, but it should definitely be light out.

She settled back, pulling yet another cig out with a fully peaked interest now. This guy had been up to some sort of business throughout the day, even if most of his posts were a handful of hours old. Another headline grabbed her eye, ”Feral Humans Are Eating Your Neighbors!?. ”Grade B clickbait bro..” she mused, deciding she had a few hours to read whatever this guy was going on about. It just occurred to her then, as she brought the blog post up, this guy was the internet.

”Fuck.. He better post some good memes.”
Bump. We're starting to get some real good characters in! Come check it out before it's too late.
Bump. We're starting to get some real good characters in! Come check it out before it's too late.
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