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V e r a

• Convention Center, Smith's Rest •



It was still cold, Vera wasn’t sure what she’d expected. She wasn’t so flustered as to try and dunk her head into the fluff again, but a nervous boiling had begun to bubble up back in the bar, and she was thankful for the little twists and drifts of icy air that wormed their way between the fabrics of her coat. Of course, as soon as they led to shivers, their presence would no longer be as welcomed. So, to stave that off for as long as possible, she stuffed her hands into her pockets and trotted off at a leisurely pace.

Soon enough that too was interrupted.

“Stop. I’d like a word with you.”

Vera jumped and swiveled around, surprised to see how quickly a woman she hadn’t so much as heard had snuck up on her. She didn’t look particularly official–then again few people besides her mother did–and she didn’t have a badge or anything of the like, but there was something else. Something in the woman’s face, her expression, how everything seemed to be off to her like she was coping with a bout of vertigo, it made Vera afraid, deeply. They were hard eyes staring back at her. Disciplined eyes. Eyes of authority.

“Oh gosh, are you in with the convention?” she stumbled over every word. It couldn’t be that their first day back in town they’d already gotten into trouble, it just couldn’t be. “Is it the noise? You guys probably heard us from the canteen. I’m so sorry, I think–really just one of my friends, a pilot, I think he’s just had a little too much to drink, you know? We’re not trying to make a racket, I promise.”

“This isn’t about them.”

“Oh," Vera said, relieved though now just as much confused. “Well uh, what's up? Everything alright?"

Before Vera had a chance to react she found her shoulder grabbed by the cold hands of her pursuer. She saw it coming, Graham’s training had conditioned her just the same but between the surgeries and being disoriented it caught her off guard. It didn’t help the woman was stronger and faster, not unlike a soldier. Without much of a struggle, she was quickly backed into the adjacent wall.

“Don’t. Trust. Ingram. Kalfox.”

Vera stared at the woman like she had headlights for eyes. One hand had, on freshly-forged instinct, come up and grabbed the invading arm by the wrist, but she was small, pinned. Her other hand covered her face, expecting some kind of blow, but nothing came. Nothing but the unnaturally cold warning.

“Wh-huh? What? What do you mean?" she asked, more sputtered, actually. She tried to press herself away, feet up trying to bar the woman's legs from shoving her further, but she kept an iron grip on the sleeve.

“Ingram Kalfox is not your friend. He is not your ally. He is not a saint. Do not trust him.” She spoke again in the same militant tone. Her cold, faded green eyes invoked a sense of seriousness and rage.

Then she let go of Vera’s shoulder, as if affirming that she was not here to hurt her but something entirely different. Nonetheless Vera quaked, and for a few moments kept hanging onto the sleeve. When she realized of course, she let go, but couldn't take her eyes away. Didn't. She yielded gaze, but watched the woman's face. It was strong but weathered, and anger seeped through its cracks, almost desperate. She didn't know this woman, but she knew that look, faces like it, she'd seen it almost every day in Lizzy, sometimes even in mom.

“Okay," Vera said, nodding gently, putting her hands up, as if she even needed to surrender against someone like her. “Something's wrong, I get it, and it's stressing you out. But try and sit in my shoes, this is weird, right? I'm not saying I don't trust you I'm saying this is weird. I'm not gonna call for anyone, okay? You could explain it to me, help me and I'll help you."

“I can’t explain it, Vera. It’s probably better that I don’t. Ingram Kalfox will seek to ruin you and if you let him, he will. Everyone who has ever known him knows this. If you are alone with him, your childhood will be over. Just like Ana’s.” She paused, as if the woman realized something and didn’t like it. Before Vera could speak out with any more questions a gloved hand covered her mouth. “Don’t ignore what I am saying. Always have a gun in your pocket.”

As Vera reached for the woman’s hand for a second time she released her grip and turned as she began to hear footsteps and took off in the opposite direction. Vera wanted to shout 'wait!' or 'stop!' or anything, but when she tried, she coughed, and by then the woman was gone. Still, she scrambled after for a few feet, trying to spy her among the people walking this way and that, but it was hopeless. A few passersby shot her odd looks, but otherwise, it was all as if nothing had happened.

But that wasn't true, something had happened. A stranger had just warned her at force about Stein's dad, and Ana, and she found herself reeling. What had happened to Ana? Was she in trouble? Stein had never mentioned much about her dad, but everyone seemed to get on well enough with him. Everyone except Percy, anyway.

“Oh god," she said, spooking herself. What if Ana was in trouble? She didn't have the clear head or the time to try and work out how, or why, but if there was even "if", then she was wasting time. Wildly, she oriented herself back towards the canteen, and sprinted off to find Percy.
V e r a

• Convention Center, Smith's Rest •



“Oh no,” Vera mumbled, as she watched Percy’s drunken show from the counter. She wasn’t alone, his antics garnered attention from most of the handful of patrons there were, including–most attentively, it seemed–the pumpkin-haired girl beside her. Ryn watched with unbroken fascination, wearing the sort of smile Vera had come to associate with cartoonish villains.

Madison came along at last, and showed herself to be a rather surprising voice of reason. Not that Percy was in much of a state to be reached by reason, as he stumbled along, guided by the smaller pilot. They were speaking, but she could really make out much, and what she could came more from Percy’s own drunkenly-escalated voice. She thought, ‘Poor Madi. She’s had a rough enough day.’

Eventually Percy broke away again. “Uh oh,” the barkeep grumbled. He sighed, and started collecting empty glasses from the counter. “I warned him.”

“Sorry about this,” Vera offered.

“No need to be sorry until he breaks or throws up on something.”

She tried to laugh, but it came out more awkward and nervous than sincere, so she returned to the sight. Percy had veered off-course, if he’d even had one, and landed squarely if painfully at the table with Alan and, 'Oh, there’s Lizzy.'

In any other circumstance, Vera would have rejoiced to see her sister surrounded by her fellow pilots. However, given how strung-up everyone was, and how well Lizzy had taken Percy’s last outburst in the facility, she worried. Though she still could only understand–and even then hardly–Percy, she watched her sister’s response closely. Lizzy looked him up and down like she’d check a document for spelling errors, listened quietly, then nodded and mouthed a few words back, probably just returning the greeting. No flash of anger, no anxiety in her eyes or nervous fidgeting, her sister was calm and collected.

Ryn was giggling, quietly, held-back, but they were beside each other and it was hard to mistake. At first she, guiltily, felt a bit indignant; was this really the time for laughing, while their friend was making a scene? Vera glanced back to Percy and the others, and wondered if she was perhaps taking things a little seriously. Maybe Ryn had the right idea, maybe it was funny, but something told her the other girl was finding humor in it for all the wrong reasons. After all, it wasn’t exactly a secret that she and Percy didn’t get along.

“Oof, kinda hard to watch,” Vera said, and it was–for her. She liked Percy, she wanted him to be okay. No one seemed to like him much, and she hoped someday he’d prove them all wrong. But it certainly didn’t seem like it was going to be today.

Hopping off of the stool, she zipped up her coat. “Think I’m gonna go for another walk, try and kill some time before they let Graham go. Been feelin’ kinda homesick anyway.”

It wasn’t exactly a lie, she was feeling homesick and she did want to kill time. She just also didn’t want to do so watching Percy make a fool of himself, and worse, see people tear at him for it, however well-deserved it might be. So, adjusting her ushanka, she made for the door–careful to give Percy and her sister’s table a wide berth–and prepared for the cold.
M i m i


“This time, play like you think you have a chance.”

N A M E

    Mimi Morn

A G E

    18

E T H N I C B A C K G R O U N D

    Srivaki

P E R S O N A

    Beguiling
    Resourceful
    Clever
    Skeptical
    Nimble
    Adaptable

D E S C R I P T I O N

    Mimi is not a girl of note unless she goes out of her way to be so. Standing at around average for her age, wiry but not unhealthy, even her blue eyes are dark and dull. The most noticeable thing about her would be the stark color of her hair, and even that she often keeps topped with her favorite hat. But when she's performing, when the carnival goes live, she can catch eyes with ease. Often donning an intricately designed black robe beneath a shoulder-shawl, candy-stripped pants, and frilled cuffs, her image is meant to evoke an enticing, mystical wariness. Of course, no witch-regalia would be complete without a hat, and Mimi's happens to function just perfectly for her seemingly double-life. At rest, the brim casts just over her face, and the top is flat, but with a simple tug of a string, hidden, flexible fabrics widen the brim significantly, and a stylishly-crooked tip shoots from the cap. Lastly, but as ever-present as the cap--on-duty or off--are the twin, serpentine gauntlets around which her entire wardrobe was designed.

C A P A B I L I T I E S

    Mild Magician: Mimi isn’t an ace with her Psionic abilities, but she’s certainly no pushover. Though the carnival’s low-lying habits lead her to more minimal uses of her craft, her days as a psionic novice are behind her. While she may still have a long road of learning ahead, she has yet and does not intend to falter along it.

    Carny Magician: The carnival is Mimi’s life, and as such, certain aspects of its nature have become engrained into her own. She is a top-notch deceiver, a showman, and could just about sell milk to a cow. As well, given the general caution and occasional violence carnies are met with, she’s grown good at reading a room, a town, and the people in them, almost like a sixth sense for when things are about to go south.

    Rascal: While she isn’t much to look at, being wiry and nimble has its advantages. Namely, she’s good at climbing attractions, trees, and a building here and there if a lookout is necessary. As well, though the Showmaster has long-since discouraged this sort of behavior, quick fingers never failed to snatch a few extra shinies on slower days.

B A L A N C E

    Battle Unready: While Mimi is no stranger to conflict, even brutal conflict, there is a definite distinction between angry townies and war. Magic aside, Mimi might be able to snake around a wily customer, but pit against a proper beast or a soldier makes her lunch.

    Frenemy: While growing up a carny lent Mimi an array of technical skills, what it also did was instill in her something of a toxic mental nature. While she might be unfit for war, “us vs them” is not a new concept for her. In fact, not only does it seem next to impossible for her to trust anyone outside of her troupe, but such people should be wary of her. While often outwardly sweet and friendly, survival is always at the forefront, people that aren’t the family are marks, and marks are dime-a-dozen. Making people like her, making them feel special, it’s part of the job, and so is fucking those people over.

    Dependency: Sure, within the carnival grounds Mimi might seem like some kind of otherworldly, omniscient being, but who doesn’t feel strong on their home-turf, surrounded by the home-team? Unfortunately without the carnival and carnies, she’s utterly lost. A life as an employee means she needs an employer, co-workers, customers. Mimi as she is, does not and cannot exist alone.


H I S T O R Y
    Mimi was, as far as she is aware, born in the Witching Hour Carnival. No one ever claimed her there, and by the time she was old enough to wonder about it, most of the folks who’d been around when she was born had moved on or died. Didn’t bother her much, she only ever asked the once.

    Young, she started helping around the carnival, performing the small, menial tasks other carnies were either too busy or unwilling to do. It helped her get acquainted with the environment, and the environments of the towns they visited. She was small enough to lookout, but also small enough to weasel out of most conflicts before things went south.

    In her adolescence was when she hit her stride. Showmaster Balion took note of her aptitude for the skill joints and mystical boutiques, and after rotating her through the lot a while, took her aside one day and introduced her to something truly magical. Magic.

    He never told her how he learned, and she’d even asked. “Not important,” he’d say, and they’d go back to work. Balion wasn’t a great teacher, he wasn’t even a good teacher, but he was quick to admit that. Sure, when it came to the carnival Mimi had learned fine, just as well as she’d learned to walk, but she’d also learned to do most of it herself. Balion could garner a crowd with unprecedented skill, he could buy a man’s soul off him and sell it back double the price, but when it came to instructing her in magic? It was almost as if he were a student as well.

    Their lessons were hectic, often learning steps out of order, which would set them back weeks, sometimes more, but Mimi never lost heart. When they failed, she’d come back with twice the effort, when they succeeded, she did so exceptionally. Eventually Balion had her using small tricks at her booths, both for practice and the wow-factor for the audience. They continued their lessons, but eventually Balion grew complacent, or he tired of magic, and she did not learn nearly as often as she repeated what she already knew. Years went on like this, and Mimi grew frustrated, a roiling ambition taking hold within her. As a novelty witch she could bring in small profits, yes, but as a powerful psion, a witch proper, their carnival could reach new heights never before seen in the age. Their family would be legend.

    It was not to be.


O R I G I N S

    The Witching Hour carnival is no stranger to Dun. They’ve been through before in plenty of rounds, as the boggy, rural folk tend to be more hospitable to their show, if not simply easier enthralled.

Placeholding Top Post/List


Eli Jackspar
LOCALE // Smith's Rest, New Anchorage
TIME // Afternoon




Eli waited outside the convention center by a back door, colder in the formal fatigues than she would have been in her usual attire. Her neck, so accustomed to a scarf’s protection, almost stung with chill, and she could feel every minute turn of the wind pass through her scalp and down her spine. Were she a woman of less composure she might have huddled by the wall, but no, her instructions were otherwise. She was told to wait, and she would.

Eventually her mother emerged from the doorway, as equally unfit for the weather as she, but just as unshaken by it.

“Elizabeth,” she greeted, and glanced around. “I see your sister is as good at following directions as ever.”

Eli frowned, she hadn’t known Vera was supposed to join her. “She’s probably gone to the canteen with the others. I can get her if you–”

“Hm? Oh, no no, it isn’t a big deal, you’re heading there anyway.”

“Not back in with you?”

Her mother cocked a brow, and Eli turned her head down. It was not time for questions.

“I would go myself, but I’m due back inside. Besides, I’ve less of a place in there than you.”

“You do?” Eli asked, despite herself. Mother was the Elect, she had more place anywhere in New Anchorage than anyone. Eli however could count on one hand the number of times she’d set foot in a bar.

But mother nodded, sure, and so Eli became sure as well. “You should pay closer attention to your peers, Elizabeth. Tell me, how do you think that little show went? Be honest.”

As if she could be anything but, Eli answered just so. “Poorly.”

Mother nodded again. “Quite poorly. To be frank, it couldn’t have gone any other way. It wasn’t long ago you were fighting yourselves in that little facility of Graham’s, one can only wonder how much longer it will be until the next catastrophe.”

“You’re worried about the other pilots.”

“So are you, you said as much back there–very well done, by the way. There were only so many questions they could ask, but I was worried how you’d adapt. You didn’t disappoint.”

There were few things Eli had done in her life to elicit such praise from her mother. It was either a thing she did not know what to do with, or an event to which she had no reaction. Nonetheless, her stomach lightened, and for a moment the air didn’t feel so cold.

“As strong as New Anchorage is growing, and as fortunate as we are to be standing through the hardships it’s endured, our NC program is nothing shy of a time bomb, and no one–not even Graham–can see the clock.” For the first time, mother seemed to notice the cold. She cleared her throat. “No one had fun on that stage, but it was well past time to introduce a little accountability. If that means the pilots don’t like me, so be it–they don’t have to. I think I’ve gotten as far as I can with them for now, anyway. You’re my eyes and ears in there, Elizabeth, you and Vera both. They all probably suspect as much, so you’ll have your work cut out for you convincing them otherwise.”

“I understand.”

There was a knock on the door, mother knocked back, but had not quite finished. She put a hand on Eli’s shoulder, and for a moment Eli felt every last thread in her body pull tight in terror. “It’s easy to feel powerful when you’ve got big weapons in your pocket, but never forget who really controls New Anchorage.”

“The people,” Eli answered, this time sure on her own.

“Yes,” mother said coldly. “The people.”

With that Eli was left alone, and she wondered, briefly, when she would see her mother again. Soon enough though the wind kicked up, and she shuddered like a glacier ready to collapse before shuffling off.

--

Smith’s Rest – Convention Center, Canteen


When she stepped inside, Eli was very quickly warm again. The little hovel was sparsely populated, her comrades took up a good chunk of space, and the rest seemed not to care much, either for lack of interest or lack of senses.

Speaking of, it was impossible to miss the small collection of pilots at the counter as she made her way there. In part for her due to Vera’s presence there, but also, mainly, because she could hear Percy from the door. Not that she could really make out what he was saying. Like there was a third eye in the back of her head, Vera turned around, spotted her, and they exchanged a smile and wave. They’d talk later, when things were more calm. In the meantime, she veered away from them, and hailed the barkeep at the far end of the counter.

“Well hello, miss Jackspar, come to take it easy with the rest of your team?”

“Seems like the right idea,” she said, with a glance over at the others.

The barkeep hesitantly nodded. “Maybe not quite as easy as some of them, yeah? So what’ll you have?”

“Water.”

He snorted. “Water? After that? Got water in big fluffy piles right outside if that’s all you want.”

“It’s cold outside. How much?”

“Shit, not gonna charge you running the tap for a few seconds,” he said, and filled a glass just so before handing it over. “At least I don’t have to cut you off.”

As he went off to go about his business, Eli surveyed the bar around her. Vera, Harrison Kane, Ryn and Percy seemed otherwise engaged, and even if she wanted to involve herself in that mess she had a feeling she would not be much welcomed. One prospect did seem promising though, a lone pilot off in the corner, drinking to himself–she hoped not to the extent Percy had.

It was Fouren, she realized, a pilot she’d engaged with little since his arrival. His interview hadn’t been the worst of the bunch, but all the same she was confident his was not a celebratory drink. The waster was an interesting addition, if not a caution-inducing one. She had no doubts he felt alien in New Anchorage, and rightly so, no large part of the crowd seemed satisfied with his answers, herself included. New Anchorage had trusted outsiders with more promise before, and been hurt for it. It was hard for her to look at him and not see the threat he could pose to her home. Hard, but she’d try.

As she approached his table, her mother’s words stuck with her. It would be a challenge gaining the trust of many of her comrades, a many-faced challenge full of obstacles she had no experience with. It would be hard. She would try.

“Alan,” she said as she rounded up to the opposite side of the table. Every lesson about people that her mother had taught her, and especially those that Vera had taught her, rose to the forefront of her mind. She needed to be personable, she needed to be approachable, understanding, amicable. She wondered if her mother knew these words beyond mere definition.

Taking a seat, she put her drink on the table and tried her best to get a read on his face. How welcome was she here? Was he willing to talk? Was he drunk? Perhaps he’d look at her and see only her mother, perhaps that’s what everyone saw. Simply the challenge, she told herself.

“Is this spot taken?” she asked, a formality she knew didn’t mean much considering she was already seated. So she opted to move the potential conversation forward. “How are you doing? After the questions, I mean.”


Vera Voloshyna
LOCALE // Smith's Rest, New Anchorage
TIME // Afternoon



“Hoo!”

Vera pulled her head out of the snow, cheeks burning, ears ringing from the cold, and violently shook the white fluff from her hair. She wiped her face, wet now, then sat back on her knees and cupped her hands over her mouth to catch a warm breath. Slowly, her nerves began to settle and she didn’t feel nearly so uncomfortable, or at least, not in the sweaty, anxious way.

She looked around the outside of the convention building, worried for a moment someone might have seen her plant her face into the cold earth like a winter ostrich, but there was no one. Good, she needed a moment without anyone else’s eyes on her. Just a moment, she told herself, then she’d join the others in the canteen. Despite what anyone ever said about Graham, bless the man for getting them out of that awful room.

It wasn’t awful, it was a bunch of people asking questions. They’re allowed to ask questions, they should.

She knew as much. When mother had said the people needed to know their protectors, and their future protectors, she knew that too. It would be nice to believe, wholeheartedly, that if they’d all been given time to prepare speeches, or known the questions beforehand, that they’d all have still been honest, but she couldn’t expect that sort of faith to be carried by everyone. The spontaneity made sense, even if it was a bit awkward. Or a lot awkward.

“Alright, that’s enough of that,” she said, aloud though she didn’t mean to. She scooped her ushanka up, brushed it off, and plopped it back on her head, then hopped to her feet and made for the canteen, hoping no one would have noticed her brief absence.

Understandably enough the place wasn’t incredibly packed–there was a conference going on after all–and she was just as happy for it. It felt a bit silly being so embarrassed around the other pilots, her friends, some of them had done just about as well as she had on that stage, only they didn’t have years of experience living with her mother. Others, though, had kept themselves cool and collected and walked off seemingly no less composed than when they’d taken the mic.

Lizzy, who had opted to step back outside, had done well. Vera was proud of her, she’d never seen her sister talk to so many people at once, had it been hard? She couldn’t imagine so, there weren’t a lot of things Lizzy had trouble with, and even fewer she couldn’t pick up quick and gracefully. They’d talk later, in the bunks maybe, when she could actually unwind.

Briefly she checked for Stein, and Percy, and Alan and–oh god–poor Madi. The bubbly, pink-haired flowercake who didn’t deserve any of what had happened to her on that stage. She was off at a table, but thankfully not alone, as the stony miss Styles took a seat with her. She wanted to admire the Australian woman, at least more than she did what with her being so accomplished, but it wasn’t the time, just as it wasn’t the time to try and comfort Madi, or Percy, or anyone for the moment.

So, lastly, she spotted the figure of a man she didn’t know very well, sat next to a fiery head that she knew quite well. Ryn seemed the perfect choice of companionship for their little break, the girl had answered her questions as if she’d been doing it her whole life, and hadn’t seemed even the least bit bothered. Plus, there weren’t many people on base who could lift her spirit like Ryn could.

Decision made, Vera scurried onto the stool beside her red-headed friend, and put on an eager grin.

“Heya!” she offered, first to Ryn, and then with a nod to the enigmatic Harry. “How’re you two doing? Either of you got the shakes? Couldn’t guess so, not with how well you did, but me?”

She held up a hand, and her fingers quivered slightly, though she suspected that might’ve been due more to her little dip in the snow. She went on, quickly. “Hey, it’s over though! Done and done–like a shot!”


Vera Voloshyna
LOCALE // Smith's Rest, New Anchorage
TIME // Afternoon




Once Joshua had made his way from the microphone, Celina resumed her position center-stage, only this time she hesitated before requesting the next pilot come up.

Vera figured out what was happening, she’d guessed there would be some sort of pre-statement before she and Lizzy got a chance to go up. It made enough sense, they were awfully big elephants even in the convention center. Despite how generally well-liked her mother was, rumors of favoritism and the like had to exist somewhere.

“Before we continue, I’d like to make something perfectly clear,” Celina began, posture straight as a tombstone. She regarded the crowd with the utmost seriousness, though her tone carried an air of levity to it. “I love my daughters–both of them–very much, and like any parent, I’m concerned for their safety, and their choice of profession does nothing for those worries. But they’ve also both made a decision I must respect, one I’ve made myself, and that is to put New Anchorage before everything else, even themselves. You are of course welcome to question them in any manner, on any topic you wish, and as will be the case in their professional careers, I will not interfere.”

Then she stepped away, and motioned to the table. A flitter raced up past Vera’s stomach, stopping briefly at her heart along the way. She felt like she was in Lofgren’s office once again, waiting to be stuck and tested for an answer she didn’t know she wanted an answer to. She wanted to take Lizzy’s hand, but knew it would be out of line. Besides, what did she really have to be afraid of? If Percy could do it, if Ryn could do it, if all the new people could do it, couldn’t she?

Lizzy stood up, a blank-faced beacon. It wasn’t quite the confidence Vera was hoping for, but she felt at least more compelled to follow, so she did. She shuffled out from behind the table, then strode with sureness she had to mirror off of her sister’s shadow up to the microphone, which was much too tall for her. But that was okay, because Lizzy seemed to be ready to go first, which was even more okay, great in fact. She stood straight, and moved to adjust her ushanka, only to remember her mother had told her not to wear it, and suavely brush the hair from her face instead. The room felt suddenly draftier.

“My name is Eli Jackspar, I pilot the Blur.”

A hand came up, the first question. “Have you and your sister been treated any differently since your mother’s election?”

“Vera and I have received no special treatments as a result of my mother’s office, nor should we. Commander Graham has set the same goals and standards for all of us. Even if she were inclined to try, all that would do is hinder our ability to protect this place.”

Vera was glad Lizzy had gotten the question. She was right, nothing had been easier for them, but in the back of her mind she couldn’t help but feel like there was something different. Did they get different looks when they turned their backs? Did the others trust them? She didn’t know, but it was hard not to wonder, if anything, that they weren’t under an extra layer of scrutiny.

Another hand quickly followed. “Speaking of, since your sister doesn’t have an NC, and since you’re the youngest of our own pilots, would you consider yourself the least-experienced?”

Lizzy’s lips twitched, but she remained composed, much to Vera’s relief. Mother had told them both to expect questions like these, doubt, it made sense, but it didn’t help with her nerves. Her sister at least had missions under her belt.

“By definition, yes. But, I learn quickly, and in practice I feel I’m more than suited for my work. The same I think can be said about all of my fellow pilots. Whatever trials we may face, I’m confident that incompetency will not be among them.”

“What do you think will?”

Once again Lizzy hesitated, and Vera could tell very clearly what she wanted to say. But her sister, with a near-imperceptible glance to their mother, seemed to reel herself in. She cleared her throat.

“I think what’s most important going forward, is that we keep the best interests of New Anchorage, its progress, and most importantly the safety of its people, at the heart of all of our decisions, at every level. I would willingly lay down my life for New Anchorage, as should be expected of all who take the responsibility of its protection into their hands.”

That seemed to satisfy, maybe even more. Vera saw nods of approval, a few emboldened looks shared between listeners. She might have felt proud of Lizzy, if it didn’t become immediately clear that her round of questions was over. Instead the flitter returned with renewed vigor, and on its way back up past her heart it split and detoured through her arms, making her hands shake as Lizzy unfastened the microphone and handed it over.

She stared down into the innumerable tiny holes, trying to steady herself, when she felt Lizzy’s hand on her shoulder. She looked up, and found her sister’s eyes, cold yet comforting if only for how familiar they were. In a quiet whisper of warmth and encouragement, she said simply: “You can do this, Vi.”

Vera smiled, she believed her. She’d been through attacks, tests, the surgery, training, she could do this. This was nothing.

“Thanks,” she said back, quietly. Or at least, she meant to. The microphone in her hand, so close to her mouth, decided instead that her meek reply would blare through the speakers, loud and crackling and sudden enough to startle her into dropping it to the ground in another rumble.

“Ohmigod!” she squeaked, and fumbled the microphone back up. ”Sorry! I’m sorry, sorry–wow. Hi, I'm Vera Voloshyna, or Vera Jackspar I guess too, more, uh, more...yeah.”

She saw mixes of confusion and exasperation in the crowd, and struggled to swallow back her nerves. The first hand came up.

“You’re how old?”

“Uhm. I’m uh, I’m thirteen. Almost fo–I mean, fourteen next month.”

More discontent worked its way through the people, though they seemed to be looking between her and the table of pilots. Eventually another question popped up. “I’m still not sure how I feel about using kids as pilots, but in Miss Drahdt’s case, she has experience. Don’t you think you’re a little young to be starting fresh? Wouldn’t it be better to wait a few years?”

“W-well–”

And another. “Aren’t you afraid of getting hurt? Or worse? What if you’re not good at it?”

“I mean, sure I–I guess. But everyone starts–”

“What if a couple years go by and you decide this isn’t what you want to do? You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, why choose to do something so risky, so suddenly?”

Vera was so focused on the crowd that she nearly missed Lizzy move to take the microphone from her. She jerked away.

“No it’s okay, I can, uh, I can answer this. I got it,” she said, and Lizzy stepped away. Vera observed the crowd again, but stopped trying to read them. She just needed to speak.

“So…my parents weren’t from here. My mother, I mean my mother now told me that when they came here they expected to be chased off. But they weren’t, they, you all, you let them in and you let them make their own little place by the south gate. Then when they left, I grew up in a place that didn’t think twice about accepting me into the community. I mean sure, we weren’t the most social family, but we were around.”

Vera wondered absently if what she was doing was lying, if not telling these people what that little old library was like, was the same thing. She wouldn’t know what to say or how to say it anyway, but if she did, could she?

“I thought for a long time that’s just how the world was. I thought everywhere was as nice and accepting as Smith’s Rest and, uhm, I learned later that wasn’t true. Like, at all. There are places out there that are a lot bigger and a lot smaller than us, and they treat people horrible. They take kids like me, and they really hurt them. They don’t get a choice about what they do when they’re older, if they get to be older. But I get that choice, and I know that makes me really lucky. I want to be a pilot because–”

Because what would you be otherwise?

–“I want to make sure places like this, nice places, get to stay that way.”

With that there was a long silence. Vera held the mic stiff, watching the crowd glance and whisper amongst themselves until, to her relief, it became apparent the questions were done.

“Thank you,” she said quietly, and handed the mic back to Lizzy, who fastened it back to the stand. On their way back to the table, and only when she was absolutely sure she wasn’t going to be projected, Vera let out a heavy sigh, and they took their seats.

Celina approached the microphone, and clearing her throat, took the attentions of the room once more.

“I’d like to thank Commander Michael Graham and the pilots for their time, and their sincerity in answering your questions. We’re going to take a brief break, then continue on with the day as planned. Thank you.”



“Nice piece, how many rounds it got?” “…It’s called a six-shooter, Darce. It’s got six shots.”

NAME


Darcy Marl

ALIAS


”Darce”, “Marl”

GENDER


Female

SKILLS


Give and Take: Darcy’s a sturdy girl, tough enough to headbutt without much of a flinch, and crack a cheek without breaking her knuckles. Turns out getting pummeled frequent and early had its perks.

Clean Shot: Darcy wouldn’t be in this business if she wasn’t passably quick and accurate with a gun. Being a rookie, there’s a lot left to desire, plenty of clumsy habits to kick, but it would be a mistake to underestimate her. Not that she doesn’t love that.

A Thousand Words: In short, Darcy may not be even notably literate, but she is very receptive to faces and voices. These skills are rather useful in finding individuals who may have changed since last meeting, or seeing them.

Look Ma, Both Hands!: Simple enough, Darcy is ambidextrous. Doesn’t help her so much with writing, but it has its uses.

PERSONALITY


In old stories, people who slunk about in the shadows, or blended through crowds unnoticed, on the hunt for their fellow man, were feared and revered. They were lauded as refined yet brutal killers, prizing a code of honor and dignity, executing their contracts with deft grace and vanishing in the yet-settled dust. Possessed of high-diction and cut wardrobes, able to shift seamlessly between alley-lurker and aristocratic paragon, these hitmen and women were dark legends.

Darcy possesses few, if any, of these qualities. She’s abrasive and unsubtle, rash, loud, foul-mouthed and blunt, with a penchant for humor in humorless situations. Unlike her unsociable coworkers, she loves a good drink, and likes to make a habit of getting chummy in the saloons wherever she goes.

Her overconfidence and impulsive nature often lead her to say things she can’t back up, or do things she can’t talk her way out of. This, combined with an aversion to apologizing, led to a mostly-friendless professional life.

Still, even the people who don’t like her won’t deny she’s fun to watch, if only for the inevitable crash.

HISTORY


Darcy grew up watching trains. In the morning, when pa was still asleep, and ma was reeling from a long high, she’d go out and sit by the tracks while her sister, Sara, brewed something up. In the afternoons, once pa was done throwing his fits, she and Sara would go out on the porch to nurse their blackened eyes, or bloodied noses, and watch from there. At night, though, when the rare trains did come through, were her favorite. Ma would be sober enough to cook dinner, pa would be too drunk to yell, let alone stand, and in the fields it was so quiet, she could hear the tracks rumbling from the table. They’d have lights on them then, big and bright running every cart, like some holy chariot.

When she was ten, and Sara was sixteen, they started getting visits from New Rojas folks. Seven or eight people at a time, men and women in dusters and caps. And guns, they’d always have guns. The first time they came, pa was passed out, a few cornered ma in the living room, the others waited outside with them.

When they left, ma had bruises. Pa eventually woke up, found out what had happened, and how little money they had left, and gave them all a beating. Ma didn’t stop using though, even when Sara tried to get her to. They kept working the farm, she kept splitting the earnings between food, drugs, and debts. They debt pile was never quite big enough.

The third time New Rojas visited, they were broke. Ma begged for another month, Pa offered to let them take her if they’d square the debt. Instead they came to Sara.

“How old are you girls?”

Sara was seventeen, Darcy had only just turned eleven. They said ma could have one more month, then they broke Sara’s arm, and because Darcy was little, they only broke some of her fingers. Pa broke the rest once New Rojas had gone, though.

A month passed, Sara didn’t speak a word the whole time, even when Darcy hugged her, begging. She wouldn’t watch the trains, wouldn’t work the farm despite how many bruises she got for it, wouldn’t do anything but sit and stare, like a gargoyle. Ma tried pleading too, they needed the extra help, even if it was only one hand, and Sara would soften for just a moment, but still wouldn’t budge.

New Rojas came back, and, of course, they didn’t have the money. Pa wanted to fight them off, he’d been a guard once, and was convinced he could take six or seven if he had surprise on his side. They showed up with ten, he got on his knees and groveled with ma. The collectors just about tore the house apart looking for any hidden cash, anything valuable they could sell, but it was true, there just wasn’t enough.

Then Sara said: “Take me.”

“What for?”

“I’ll work off the debt.”

They laughed, Darcy might have too if she were them, it was ridiculous. Sara wasn’t much taller than anyone else, and she was scrawny–they all were, save for pa. One of the collectors asked if she even had the stomach for it. Sara asked for a gun.

Silence, then, for a while. One handed over a pistol, the others didn’t bother being subtle when they aimed at her, but she didn’t seem to care.

“Darce, stay with ma.”

Then Sara grabbed pa by the hair and dragged him, yelping, outside. She threw him to the dirt, told him to run, then shot the ground at his feet when he started questioning her. For how old and out of shape he’d gotten, he was fast, and be it by choice or imbalance, wavered along his way. He almost made it to the crops before she shot him clean through the nape, then he dropped like a sack.

Darcy’s heart nearly stopped, her stomach twisted up, but she stayed quiet, everyone stayed quiet. Sara gave the gun back.

“And I’m not even left-handed.”

The collectors let them say goodbye to ma. Sara, tearful, promised to send money, and if she came back and found out ma was still using, she’d shoot her too.

They got to ride a train to New Rojas, but Darcy couldn’t find joy in it. She wasn’t prepared for the city, it was loud, crowded, and every look was mean or uninterested. The collectors took them to a company building, told them they could stay while everything was sorted out, and left.

Darcy burst into tears, and Sara hugged her close, promising everything would be alright. And for the most part, this was true. They put Sara to work, and even found minor jobs running through the city for Darcy. She got savvy quick, both of them did, it wasn’t good work, it wasn’t clean work, but it was work. After a few years collecting, Sara got wrangled into a different branch of the company, publicly seen as its “bounty office.” In reality, the work was, while similar, much more sinister. She wasn’t a bounty hunter, she was a hitwoman.

Darcy started seeing her less often, but she heard plenty. Sara was a rising star, she was making a name for herself. Every time she’d come back, she’d look a little different, hair cut a new way, a new nick on her skin, even, rarely, a tattoo. Most of the stories Darcy heard came from other folks who went with her on contracts, but Sara would share a few of her solo goings with her, then swear her to secrecy with a smile.

Soon enough, Darcy was old enough to go out collecting, and she was eager to prove herself. A little too eager, sometimes. She developed pugnacious habits, offering debtors chances to pay out with fights, going just a bit too far roughing up late-payers. Many times she had to be reminded of her job, that she wasn’t with the “bounty office” yet, but she was determined to be.

It ended up taking her four years, where Sara had only taken three, but Darcy had started a year earlier, so she squared it off in her mind. Not that it was a competition, of course. She loved her sister, looked up to her like a hero, but she was twenty, it was time to bring her own stories to the table.

INVENTORY


-Wilson .45 Revolver x2

-Wilson Snub-Nose Shotgun

-Serrated Survival Knife

REASON FOR VISITING


Having just completed a contract, Darcy is currently in transit back to New Rojas through Blackfinger. However, given the haste with which she did her job, she finds herself with a little down-time, and has decided to remain there for a few days. The Free Cities aren’t so bad, after all.

RELATIONS


DARCY MARL



“Nice piece, how many rounds it got?” “…It’s called a six-shooter, Darce. It’s got six shots.”

NAME


Darcy Marl

ALIAS


”Darce”, “Marl”

GENDER


Female

SKILLS



Give and Take: Darcy’s a sturdy girl, tough enough to headbutt without much of a flinch, and crack a cheek without breaking her knuckles. Turns out getting pummeled frequent and early had its perks.

Clean Shot: Darcy wouldn’t be in this business if she wasn’t passably quick and accurate with a gun. Being a rookie, there’s a lot left to desire, plenty of clumsy habits to kick, but it would be a mistake to underestimate her. Not that she doesn’t love that.

A Thousand Words: In short, Darcy may not be even notably literate, but she is very receptive to faces and voices. These skills are rather useful in finding individuals who may have changed since last meeting, or seeing them.

Look Ma, Both Hands!: Simple enough, Darcy is ambidextrous. Doesn’t help her so much with writing, but it has its uses.

PERSONALITY


In old stories, people who slunk about in the shadows, or blended through crowds unnoticed, on the hunt for their fellow man, were feared and revered. They were lauded as refined yet brutal killers, prizing a code of honor and dignity, executing their contracts with deft grace and vanishing in the yet-settled dust. Possessed of high-diction and cut wardrobes, able to shift seamlessly between alley-lurker and aristocratic paragon, these hitmen and women were dark legends.

Darcy possesses few, if any, of these qualities. She’s abrasive and unsubtle, rash, loud, foul-mouthed and blunt, with a penchant for humor in humorless situations. Unlike her unsociable coworkers, she loves a good drink, and likes to make a habit of getting chummy in the saloons wherever she goes.

Her overconfidence and impulsive nature often lead her to say things she can’t back up, or do things she can’t talk her way out of. This, combined with an aversion to apologizing, led to a mostly-friendless professional life.

Still, even the people who don’t like her won’t deny she’s fun to watch, if only for the inevitable crash.

HISTORY


Darcy grew up watching trains. In the morning, when pa was still asleep, and ma was reeling from a long high, she’d go out and sit by the tracks while her sister, Sara, brewed something up. In the afternoons, once pa was done throwing his fits, she and Sara would go out on the porch to nurse their blackened eyes, or bloodied noses, and watch from there. At night, though, when the rare trains did come through, were her favorite. Ma would be sober enough to cook dinner, pa would be too drunk to yell, let alone stand, and in the fields it was so quiet, she could hear the tracks rumbling from the table. They’d have lights on them then, big and bright running every cart, like some holy chariot.

When she was ten, and Sara was sixteen, they started getting visits from New Rojas folks. Seven or eight people at a time, men and women in dusters and caps. And guns, they’d always have guns. The first time they came, pa was passed out, a few cornered ma in the living room, the others waited outside with them.

When they left, ma had bruises. Pa eventually woke up, found out what had happened, and how little money they had left, and gave them all a beating. Ma didn’t stop using though, even when Sara tried to get her to. They kept working the farm, she kept splitting the earnings between food, drugs, and debts. They debt pile was never quite big enough.

The third time New Rojas visited, they were broke. Ma begged for another month, Pa offered to let them take her if they’d square the debt. Instead they came to Sara.

“How old are you girls?”

Sara was seventeen, Darcy had only just turned eleven. They said ma could have one more month, then they broke Sara’s arm, and because Darcy was little, they only broke some of her fingers. Pa broke the rest once New Rojas had gone, though.

A month passed, Sara didn’t speak a word the whole time, even when Darcy hugged her, begging. She wouldn’t watch the trains, wouldn’t work the farm despite how many bruises she got for it, wouldn’t do anything but sit and stare, like a gargoyle. Ma tried pleading too, they needed the extra help, even if it was only one hand, and Sara would soften for just a moment, but still wouldn’t budge.

New Rojas came back, and, of course, they didn’t have the money. Pa wanted to fight them off, he’d been a guard once, and was convinced he could take six or seven if he had surprise on his side. They showed up with ten, he got on his knees and groveled with ma. The collectors just about tore the house apart looking for any hidden cash, anything valuable they could sell, but it was true, there just wasn’t enough.

Then Sara said: “Take me.”

“What for?”

“I’ll work off the debt.”

They laughed, Darcy might have too if she were them, it was ridiculous. Sara wasn’t much taller than anyone else, and she was scrawny–they all were, save for pa. One of the collectors asked if she even had the stomach for it. Sara asked for a gun.

Silence, then, for a while. One handed over a pistol, the others didn’t bother being subtle when they aimed at her, but she didn’t seem to care.

“Darce, stay with ma.”

Then Sara grabbed pa by the hair and dragged him, yelping, outside. She threw him to the dirt, told him to run, then shot the ground at his feet when he started questioning her. For how old and out of shape he’d gotten, he was fast, and be it by choice or imbalance, wavered along his way. He almost made it to the crops before she shot him clean through the nape, then he dropped like a sack.

Darcy’s heart nearly stopped, her stomach twisted up, but she stayed quiet, everyone stayed quiet. Sara gave the gun back.

“And I’m not even left-handed.”

The collectors let them say goodbye to ma. Sara, tearful, promised to send money, and if she came back and found out ma was still using, she’d shoot her too.

They got to ride a train to New Rojas, but Darcy couldn’t find joy in it. She wasn’t prepared for the city, it was loud, crowded, and every look was mean or uninterested. The collectors took them to a company building, told them they could stay while everything was sorted out, and left.

Darcy burst into tears, and Sara hugged her close, promising everything would be alright. And for the most part, this was true. They put Sara to work, and even found minor jobs running through the city for Darcy. She got savvy quick, both of them did, it wasn’t good work, it wasn’t clean work, but it was work. After a few years collecting, Sara got wrangled into a different branch of the company, publicly seen as its “bounty office.” In reality, the work was, while similar, much more sinister. She wasn’t a bounty hunter, she was a hitwoman.

Darcy started seeing her less often, but she heard plenty. Sara was a rising star, she was making a name for herself. Every time she’d come back, she’d look a little different, hair cut a new way, a new nick on her skin, even, rarely, a tattoo. Most of the stories Darcy heard came from other folks who went with her on contracts, but Sara would share a few of her solo goings with her, then swear her to secrecy with a smile.

Soon enough, Darcy was old enough to go out collecting, and she was eager to prove herself. A little too eager, sometimes. She developed pugnacious habits, offering debtors chances to pay out with fights, going just a bit too far roughing up late-payers. Many times she had to be reminded of her job, that she wasn’t with the “bounty office” yet, but she was determined to be.

It ended up taking her four years, where Sara had only taken three, but Darcy had started a year earlier, so she squared it off in her mind. Not that it was a competition, of course. She loved her sister, looked up to her like a hero, but she was twenty, it was time to bring her own stories to the table.

INVENTORY



-Wilson .45 Revolver x2

-Wilson Snub-Nose Shotgun

-Serrated Survival Knife

REASON FOR VISITING


Having just completed a contract, Darcy is currently in transit back to New Rojas through Blackfinger. However, given the haste with which she did her job, she finds herself with a little down-time, and has decided to remain there for a few days. The Free Cities aren’t so bad, after all.

RELATIONS



(Approved via PM)
C E L I N A J A C K S P A R



“Would you like to see a demonstration of absolute loyalty?”







NAME
Celina Jackspar

ALIAS
”Chief Minister”

GENDER
Female

D - O - B
January 1st 2627 (50)

ORIGIN
Smith’s Rest






PERSONALITY & MOTIVATIONS
There are statues which reveal more in conversation than Celina Jackspar, if such interactions with her could be considered that. To be face-to-face with her is rarely a pleasant experience, but they often feel necessary.

She campaigned promising to strengthen New Anchorage, and as far as one could tell, that's what she appears to want. Her iron will and lack of tolerance for insubordination invoke a sense of duty, and many assume she may even have some vendetta against the corporations, for how vehemently she promised they would not tread down the same road.

But there is something more, something terrible, that never has and likely never will see the public surface. In the end, whatever Celina is, whatever Celina wants, whatever drives this abyssal woman towards her ends, no one, not even her own blood, is meant to know.

PERSONAL HISTORY
There isn’t a person still alive in New Anchorage that could tell you about who the Jackspars are, how long they’d lived in the settlement of then-Smith’s Rest, or why they’d holed up in a ratty old building and filled it with books. No one knew, moreover no one cared.

Some can recall the daunting woman attending town-hall meetings, rallies and the like, well before the birth of her daughter. Others might tell stories of venturing into the shadowed library, and finding no one no matter how extensively they searched. Indeed it was rare for anyone to actually check a text out, but then, in so tumultuous a time, most agreed that immediate survival came before the immersion of dead history.

Even when her daughter became one of the handful of pilots vowed to lead Smith’s Rest to prosper, she was an enigma. Only, she was becoming a public figure, an enigma of person and politics alike. She no longer sat silently throughout public meetings, but argued the plans expressed by the council in power.

It became quickly evident that she was no dissenter, but a learned contender, wise not only in the machinations of politics present, but past as well. She had an arsenal of campaigning platforms tucked away in her mind, and before long she was no spectator, but a speaker at rallies urging change. So much spent on the protection of New Anchorage, and yet the city had fallen victim to attacks twice within the year of the NC program’s foundation. People were hurt, afraid, angry.

When Smith’s Rest became New Anchorage, when things finally looked to calm, Celina made her move. It was not the time to settle, to grow comfortable in the wake of assisted stability, but rather it was time for the settlement to establish itself. New Anchorage must be a force. Those who thought them weak for their meager history should not be rewarded, but punished to the fullest extent for their transgressions.

At first she was met with resistance by the settlement’s officials, perhaps because of her seemingly radical ideals, or perhaps just because she was a nobody come with the threat to take control. People had begun to support her, even if the vocal were few, but it would take more than raw intellect to gather the push necessary to get her in power.

It is an odd thing to be thankful for tragedy, but when New Anchorage was attacked a second time, Celina smiled. The chaos that ensued was mostly subtle, there were no fearful riots, and in fact the NC facility had clearly been the primary target. Nevertheless, the governing power began to collapse on itself, torn between its former views and a sudden jerk towards support for Celina. With the citizenry uproariously at her back, she was elected into an executive position by the end of the following day.

INFLUENCE & RELATIONS








APPEARANCE
Celina is a menacing spire. Tall and narrow yet immovable, there are few she does not cast her shadow upon, even if their eyes level. Despite her position of authority, her attire has remained humble and plain, often bound in a deep coat and heavy boots that suggest she does not mind who hears her approach. Her face is sharp and cut with lines of thought, and her glacial eyes rest in pits behind thin glasses.

Most look away following a furrowed glance, and so to match gazes with her for long is tantamount to war. She has the look of one who understands their power, thoroughly.

TRAITS
Orator/Manipulator: Celina is good with words. She’s good with words that inspire, words that rally, condemn, threaten and terrify. She negotiates mercilessly, never yielding much in return, and what cannot be resolved civilly, can almost always be handled by other means.

Historian: Celina is well-read in many topics largely lost to the interests of the public. Her knowledge on subjects of ancient and modern history, politics, psychology, medicine and many more speak to a lifetime spent buried in books. The ability to arise from nothing with the apparent experience of a professional has proved invaluable in her political rise.

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