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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.





“You feelin’ this song? I’m feelin’ this song.”







NAME
Vera Jackie Voloshyna

CALLSIGN
---

ALIAS
“Vi”(Elizabeth)

GENDER
Female

D - O - B
April 30th 2664 (13)

ORIGIN
Smith’s Rest






PERSONALITY & MOTIVATIONS
Equal parts easily excitable and hard to bring down, Vera displays more happiness than anyone likely has a right to given the state of the world, and especially the state of her home. The type to view every day as a new, wonderful opportunity, every stranger as a friend she hasn’t met yet. She isn’t quite dense to the natural cynicism of the world, though she doesn’t often try to assert her optimism as better, rather she tends to accept the views of others and present her own in kind. To her, bringing a few happy moments when necessary is more important than trying to outright change another’s philosophy, and even in the hardest cases, Vera always manages to find a silver lining, be it in situations or people.

While generally light hearted, Vera can at times display a caretaking maturity. Still unrefined and more reactionary than anything, dealing with trauma is something she learned growing up in the Jackspar home. Often times Elizabeth would end the days a broken wreck, and Vera was glad to be a source of comfort for her. The reclusive Ms. Jackspar never saw her daughter’s breakdowns like she did, never woke up to find Eli in a fit of silent panic, or clawing at her skin like she couldn’t feel it. Celina learned the signs to Eli’s problems, how to order her into preventing them, but Vera learned how to fix them, at least temporarily, and for better or worse, this is largely why the older girl never received professional help.

With the discovery of a potential future as a pilot, Vera has come to realize that she’s spent much of her life thus far as an emotional lifeline to her sister. She doesn’t resent this, and wouldn’t for a heartbeat consider abandoning her, but she can’t help the gnawing lust for an adventurous life not tethered to another. If she could have that, and still be close to Eli, it would all work out. Right?

EFFECTS OF POLARIS SHIFT
Currently N/A.

PERSONAL HISTORY
Vera was too young to remember her parents leaving, but knows that she was born in what was then Smith’s Rest. Over the years she’s come to understand that the Voloshyna’s were in fact the only family close to the Jackspars, which to her was enough to explain why she was given to them. It never seemed to affect her, even when she was old enough to understand the implications of her situation she never harbored any anger against her parents. She had a home, a mother, and a wonderful sister, to her that was plenty to be happy about.

Eventually however, Vera started to notice cracks. The once warm and caring Celina Jackspar slowly discarded her façade, revealing a cold, calculating woman who shunned her in favor of focusing on her daughter, Elizabeth. And yet Vera was still not deterred. She’d grown attached to the girl, who had in turn grown attached to her, and by the time Vera was cresting nine the two were all but inseparable. So it came as no surprise that when Eli was accepted into the NC program that Vera was brought along as well.

What did surprise them was the possibility that Vera might end up in the cockpit of an NC too. Having been at the facility through vicious assaults and quiet lulls, she’s at least been made aware of the many risks the job entails, yet she’s signed herself on all the same. Now over a month out of surgery, and under the near constant watch of her sister, for the first time Vera is at least somewhat certain of her future, a future she chose. Even through the post-op debilitation, the girl has never been happier.

INFLUENCE & RELATIONS








APPEARANCE
Standing on the shorter end for her age, with blonde hair nearing her back and wide, lively green eyes, Vera is not an imposing child, which is more than fine by her. It’s rare to see her without a smile on her face, and rarer still to see her frown. Even in darker situations she always appears to at least be trying to smile, if for no other reason than to offer a warm look to anyone who might need it.

She tends to dress similarly to Elizabeth, if not a bit brighter. Jackets over bright shirts with a scarf on occasion draped ‘round her shoulders. However, the girl’s staple is without a doubt the ushanka that rarely leaves her head. A memento from the family she never knew.

TRAITS
Your talents, interests, and skills.

INVENTORY
General equipment used or educated with.






MANUFACTURER
Origins of NC.

TYPE
Size; small, medium, or large.

SQUAD ROLE
Support, Sniper, or Assault.

ARMAMENTS
Modules and weapons applied to your NC.

OBSERVATIONAL NOTES
Command notes of the NC's attributes.





“It’s a knife, it doesn’t have a story.”







NAME
Elizabeth Jackspar

CALLSIGN
Blur

ALIAS
Eli

GENDER
Female

D - O - B
May 1st 2656 (20)

ORIGIN
Smith’s Rest






PERSONALITY & MOTIVATIONS
Cold and dismissive to all but her superiors, but unerringly dutiful and devoted to the protection of New Anchorage. Elizabeth is a good soldier, a great soldier even, but little else. Growing up in what was essentially a ruin of a library, and being rarely permitted to leave, shaped Eli at a young age less like a person and more like a lump of clay. She feels no sense of loss for any would-be social life, no sorrow for being deprived a childhood, only a sense of duty, and a longing for the fulfillment of that duty.

The protection of New Anchorage is without a doubt the most important thing to Eli, and anything that could be perceived as a threat to the people of her home should not be tolerated. It matters little that she’d met none of them, less that until she stepped into her mech next to no one even knew she existed. What matters is defending her home from all threats, foreign and domestic.

It did not become apparent until her teenage years that Eli had developed identity issues, though any outward eyes could have foreseen it. This is only heightened by a high sync-rate, something the girl is silently but immensely thankful for. When connected to her mech, and only then, does Eli feel certain of herself, like she’s stepped out of her constricting, ill-fitting skin. No doubts, no twitches, no shakes, only a unification of mind and body. And so, the inevitable disconnection never fails to leave her mentally ajar, a fact that would be unmistakably evident were she not so good at hiding it.

EFFECTS OF POLARIS SHIFT
Elizabeth is an odd case. Where most pilots suffer some sort of lasting mental deficiency as a result of their NC's past, or the past of previous pilots, Elizabeth does not appear to be changed at all. This is of course not actually the case. The fact that the Blur is a "fresh" NC, combined with her being burdened naturally by identity dissociation, create instead a sort of mental unification.

Elizabeth is a weapon, but the strain of humanity has always ravaged her mind fighting this reality. Perhaps it is a trick of psychology, perhaps it is because in such high sync with Blur, she can be both a person and a weapon, perhaps it is merely luck. Whatever the case, the harmonious effect of her Shift is a blessing, to her, the only time she can feel whole is in the pilot's seat.

PERSONAL HISTORY
”Eli”

Eli was eight years old when she learned her name was short for “Elizabeth”. Her mother, the librarian recluse Celina Jackspar, had used it once, the first time she’d cried during her training.

”Get up, Elizabeth. Now. And never cry in front of me again.” And she never did.

The Jackspars might have been lepers for how little they interacted with the world. Confined to a modestly sized “library” nestled in the corner of what was then “Smith’s Rest”, few ever visited, and fewer were actually aware the spindly woman had a child. With little to their name aside from cases and piles of books, collected from far and unspoken edges, it would not have been unreasonable to assume the family would contribute nothing great to the world. They would exist quietly amidst a sea of old knowledge, and overtime the Jackspar name would peter out.

Celina would not it.

The training began early, and never slackened. Eli learned from a young age what she was, and would be, that the good majority of her life would be spent inside the cockpit of a mechanical behemoth. She did not attend school, she did not socialize with peers, she rarely left the library at all. Her life was dedication, she had to let go of the urges to want, and focus entirely on the future.

”Up.” And she got up.

The Jackspars could afford no firearms, and so forewent practicing them. Instead it was decided that Eli would master the art of melee combat in their absence. Lyosha Voloshyna, a carpenter and one of the family’s only “friends”, happily supplied them with wooden models of various swords, ranging from the typical and familiar, to the foreign and unique.

Eli was made to train with them day in and day out. They would not be weapons held, they would be extensions of her own body, or she would fall short. Countless other prospective pilots had the advantage of proper training, they could afford to be merely “adequate” so long as they rounded out a checklist and passed the neural exam.

”I don’t want you on-par, I want you better. Keep going.” And she would.

Hour after hour Eli practiced, submitting herself to the forms and tests of balance. By the time she was in her middle teens, picking up a sword felt like raising her hand, swinging felt like punching. Her threshold for pain was pushed further each day, and every time she kept her mouth shut, kept her face calm, she would catch the ghost of a smirk flicker over her mother’s face. Moving had become a dance, and she was the prima.

When she was fifteen, a practice sword broke in her hand, splintering midway down the blade. It was old, nothing unexpected, and the shattering caused her no physical harm. All the same Eli froze, wide eyes fixated on the broken blade, and her arm, then the girl collapsed in a fit of agony.

Celina watched, shocked.

”Get up.” But she didn’t. ”Elizabeth, get. Up.” But she couldn’t. It took all of her strength not to cry.

It was her first major incident, and the only one Celina ever saw. It took a few years to realize they weren’t going to stop, and seeking professional psychiatric help would murder Eli’s chances at becoming a pilot, so Celina resolved to handle the situation in her own way.

Eli knew Eli. Celina knew Elizabeth.

”Stop shaking.” And she would.

The final years leading up to application were smooth by Celina’s standards. Her daughter was sharp, fast, resilient, and above all, obedient. She would protect Smith’s Rest, she would protect its people, and she would do so under the instruction of whosoever commanded the forces.

Second to her, of course.

INFLUENCE & RELATIONS







APPEARANCE
Eli is pale as a ghost, chalky from hair to toe, most wouldn’t hesitate to describe her as “haunting”. However, what people tend to notice first about her are her eyes. Icy, both in color and gaze, she always appears to be judging her surroundings, be they people or otherwise, and it’s rare that they hold even a glimmer of levity in public view. Rarer still are smiles, laughs, slouches, but an attentive eye wouldn’t struggle to spot wayward twitches, restless legs, and tapping fingers.

Her attire leans towards casual however, often wearing hooded jackets and rarely caught without a scarf wrapped up her chin. Beneath everything is the pilot suit, worn near constantly. She’d claim this as common sense, practical for quick response, but she’s as attached to the piece as her own skin.

TRAITS
CQC: Both in and out of the mech, this is Elizabeth’s strongest skill. Growing up without the means to practice with firearms, she learned quick and learned well to trust her two hands and what she could swing with them. Eventually this translated much more elegantly into a form of swordplay in anticipation of a melee-oriented NC piloting career, and so her prowess with most things what can be held and cut with is highly refined. Unfortunately, if not predictably, she is untrained and unskilled with guns, having only operated a firearm outside of her mech, and in the context of a test.

Reflexive: Elizabeth is quick, both in body and mind. While this doesn’t necessarily equate to a proficiency in tactics, she is able to form appropriate reactions in combat, and in prolonged engagements–especially in close quarters–is able to begin analyzing offensive and defensive patterns in her opponent.

Driven: Perhaps not explicitly a skill, but doubtless one of her most notable traits. Elizabeth does not shy from completing a mission or fulfilling an order, be it in combat or otherwise. Her fierce loyalty combined turn many scenarios to “do or die” in her mind, something that, while sometimes advantageous, can be equally dangerous.

INVENTORY
General equipment used or educated with.






MANUFACTURER
Red Star

TYPE
Medium

SQUAD ROLE
Melee Assault

ARMAMENTS
  • NA01 Energy Sword: Blur’s primary weapon, the blade is projected from the handle. A contingency, physical blade, carried onboard, can be attached as well with edges able to sustain similar heat.

  • NA02 Energy Pata: Attached to Blur's left forearm is a deployable secondary gauntlet, which cups over its hand to be grasped for added stability. From the front, a shorter blade projects, though it lacks the physical backup of the NA01.

  • Deployable Claws: Blurs fingers are overlaid by sharp attachments designed to latch on and stay on. Can be activated and retracted.

  • Explosive Charges: For breach scenarios and other situations that require the close-proximity planting of explosives. Housed in two separate pieces to prevent accidental detonations due to trauma/weapon fire.


Its notable equipment is as follows:

  • OMNI Propulsion System: Blur's key assets are speed and maneuverability and these owe largely to the propulsion system which served as the foundation for the NC's design. Four powerful engines on Blur's back act as the central piece, sleek and jutting like stagnant wings. Firing at once they allow for rapid acceleration and a tremendous peak-speed. As well, each can adjust direction independently, which, in addition to the thrusters at the base of Blur's legs, grant the NC fantastic directional control.


  • Flare Cache: Typical of any evasive NC, but nonetheless crucial, Blur houses a small volley of deployable flares.

OBSERVATIONAL NOTES
The Blur is a lightweight, standard-height NC based on Red Star designs, which were later scrapped in favor of more generally practical and less specialized models. It is Stark white with only a few wayward cerulean lights and the bright azures of its jets to stand out. The frame is lithe and sleek, lending to its aerodynamic nature. However it is thinly armored, built for speed, but lacking the ability to take much punishment.

Blur is an embodiment of the “high-risk-high-reward” philosophy. With its primary function being the melee engagement of high-priority targets, many of its maneuvers, both combative and evasive, necessitate a hyper-reflexive sync rate, and even then it’s rare for the NC to emerge from solo engagements unharmed. In reality, Blur is designed to work alongside a team and is often even dependent on one, despite that the pilot may deny it.

A N Y A E C K E R D
The Bronx

Amidst the shock, the fear, and the sickening drain overtaking her, Anya had lost track of time. The tiny room above Anton’s butcher shop had no clock, and she no phone or watch. Through the one window leading to an old terrace, she could tell that it was dark, but little else. She sat up, no more refreshed than when she’d laid down, so it couldn’t have been too long, and saw mother’s knife on the ground before her, unmoved from when she’d set it down before.

Prior to her brief nap, she’d spent a fair amount of time trying to grab the heirloom. Not with her hands, per se, but rather with her mind. In her struggle with Uncle Anton, that was what had happened, she was certain. Yet, sitting there she had been unable to so much as skirt her mother’s knife along the ground.

It was time for round two. Anya hunched, rolled her shoulders, and focused intently upon the knife. Snowy, wayward strands meandered across her vision, and she brushed the hair from her eyes, once, twice, then recalled from before her sleep what she’d seen in the mirror. She glanced down at her hands, suddenly distraught. Her skin was paler than she remembered, like chalk or bone, or nearing so, anyway. As well, her fingers seemed thinner, her wrists more narrow so that the tendons had a song and dance when she pulled a fist. A new peripheral view showed her the blackness of the ceiling, and yanked to the front of her mind the fact that she had a third eye splitting the territory of her forehead. Strangely, she did not feel as though she could see more, and in fact with focus she realized that the edges of her natural eyes showed her just the same. It was, somehow, a relief.

Train of thought thoroughly derailed, Anya pulled herself to her feet, and made her way to the old, full mirror resting against the wall. It was hard to see clearly, but her eyes were quick to adjust, and even in the dark she got a good look at herself. Things did not get better.

What she’d guessed from her hands was true, she was definitely less. Not too terribly, she hadn’t had much meat on her bones to begin with, but it had been comfortable, and she knew her look well. The way her eyes had begun to sink into dark, tired pits, and by the boldness of her cheekbones and the thinness of her lips, the change was apparent. Her clothes even hung more loosely, and she tugged them around to see how, whatever it was, had or was still effecting the rest of her body. It was all consistent, at least. Her collarbones announced themselves, as did her ribs, and the natural taper of her legs was much sharper around the baubles that were her knees.

The eye scared her, simple as that. It followed as her two eyes moved, but could blink separately, which was an equally unnerving sight, but at least with that, she could keep it closed. Or covered, which was increasingly becoming the more likely option, thanks to her hair. Not long ago she’d shared her mother’s flat blonde color, but by the time she’d gotten to the upper room the vibrancy had all but washed away, as it had from the dull blues that were once oceanic eyes. That ocean now appeared to reside within her hair, ensnaring it in a melancholy drift that lagged behind each movement.

It was ghastly, she looked like a drowned corpse.

Retrieving her winter cap, she stuffed the rogue, blanche hair beneath and pulled it tight over her head. It didn’t help much with the sickly visage, but with the eye covered as well, she at least looked like a human being. Truthfully, she could have spent hours inspecting herself, trying to find any other, perhaps more minor changes that might have sprung up over her sleep. However, she wasn’t afforded that chance, and probably for the better, as a round of gunfire outside tore through the quiet of the room. It took every ounce of self-control not to scream, but clasping her hands over her mouth helped.

Anya scurried over to the window, only absently aware of how quiet her steps were. To her relief, there didn’t seem to be much activity on the street directly in front, but after a few moments, more volleys cracked the air, and she could tell the conflict was some fair distance away. For a few minutes she just kneeled against the sill, head rested on her arms, listening to the scattered gunfire and occasional hazy explosion. She could make out figures below, shambling from one side of the street to another, jerking in response to the sounds. When something caught one’s attention, it would catch that of a dozen or so others, and like a race they’d sprint out of her view.

More time passed, and she was vaguely aware of a dip in consciousness, but when she focused again, it was still dark. Part of her wanted to wait until morning before trying to make any move. She thought it couldn’t be too far away, but then, the horizon as far as she could see was unwaveringly black. She didn’t want to sleep again, if she was going to change more, she wanted to be aware of it, or at least in her wits.

Scanning over the room, Anya realized all she had was her mother’s knife. Everything else was clothes, or blankets, or too big to take with her. She resigned to bundle, threw a dark jacket over her shirt, rolled arm warmers up to her elbows, and draped a soft navy scarf about her neck. The knife rested comfortably at her hip, latched by its sheathe to her belt. It would a hard thing to leave the shop behind, and she did not realize until she tried to pull the window open exactly how hard. The more she thought, the worse of an idea it seemed, but even that was in conflict with the images of Uncle Anton’s body only a floor below. Further still, the stupid window wouldn’t open.

She stepped back, huffing, and determined that either the pane was heavier than she’d previously thought, or she was substantially weaker than her appearance let on. Neither was particularly good. She cracked her knuckles, opting for another try, and took a firm hold of the pane handle.

“One…two…”

With all of her strength, Anya heaved up, and for whatever meager credit it was, she managed to shake the frame a bit. Alas, it remained sealed, either so molded into its place by disuse that it would not be convinced to move, or simply more resilient than she. She glared at the window, and her frustration culminated into an idea that only stuck when she realized how scant her options were. Either she managed to get the window open, or she’d be taking her chances on the street.

Anya stepped back, extended her hands at the window, decision made. At first there was nothing, much like with her knife, and she had to fight despair away. But, on the back of that struggle and fear, she felt a mental click. Her panic became tangible, but fleeting, she had to shut her eyes to keep it down. When she looked again, the feeling was different, stronger, as it had been with the cleaver and Anton. She could feel the window’s frame, gradual as though her mind was tethering to it. It was vague at first, but as she focused the frame’s presence solidified itself within her thoughts, not quite like she was holding it, but more perhaps a thing which controlled it. Her hands felt full, despite being splayed out like finger-turkeys. There was an itch in her palms, and then on her forehead as she realized her third eye was open, joining in the angry gaze with fabric against its cornea. The irritation quickly flared into pain, and on pure reaction, she flinched and shoved the cap away from it.

A horrid cacophony of rending metal and shattering glass followed that motion, as the entire lower section of the window bent outwards.

She shrieked, unable to quiet herself in time as glittering specks crashed against her clothes. Merciful fate saw her unharmed by the ordeal, aside from a flashing throb in her temples, but she went stiff all the same. When she looked down, her hands were shaking, and what was more, they were alight. Not from within, but rather from above, from her as though her face were a spotlight. Suddenly there came a shriek in return to her own, from below. Not from the street, though those followed some moments after, but the initial reaction was from the first floor of the shop. Then came the unmistakable rushing footsteps.

“Oh,” she squeaked.

Anya returned to the window, and slipped through the jagged, bent frame with as much haste as she could bear. She felt it tug at the fabric of her sweats, and the hood of her jacket, but nothing tore and she emerged onto the terrace unbloodied. But she was not safe. No sooner was she out did the door to her room bulge with the weight of something slamming against it. She had secured all three locks and moved a chair in front of the knob when she’d first come up, but it would not stand forever, especially against the force of many.

Her attention turned to the lip of the roof some feet above her. Too many feet, actually. The terrace was for decoration and had no rail, and even if she meant to climb, the building’s face was flat, she’d have nothing to grab.

The door shook violently once again, and bent on its hinges.

She felt herself starting to freeze up, staring like how she’d seen deer stare at oncoming cars. Trying to pull her thoughts back was difficult, but as she looked back up to the roof they returned with a degree of clarity. Bracing herself against the wall, she jumped up. At her furthest extension, her fingers could only graze the lip. With a bit of help she could make it.

Focusing, Anya quickly realized that she could not sense her own body as she did the window frame. The sensation was entirely nebulous, like a puzzle with incorrect pieces. What she could get a sense for though were her clothes. Their feeling came quickly, clear as day, and when she motioned up, she felt them tug against her.

A smile, despite everything, quivered into shape and punctuated itself with a whisper: “Wow.”

Once again she squared up to the building’s face and prepared to pounce. Inside, the door roared with piling assaults. One of the locks tore off and clattered to the ground, then the second. She jumped as the third gave in, reaching up and willing her clothes to lift her all in the same motion. At the apex, her fingers brushed the lip, then gravity came for its due, only to be denied a moment longer as her shirt and jacket yanked against the bottoms of her arms. It was enough, she grabbed the ledge.

The energy needed to pull herself up did not come immediately, so she hung like an ornament. Not nearly far enough below, she heard the door splinter, then break completely. Bodies crashed against each other, that she could tell for certain. They snarled, scrambling up or dragging themselves, the ferocity alone nearly startled her from her grip. When after a few seconds it became clear she was not going to be instantly pulled down, Anya took a breath against the dusty bricks, restrained a cough, and heaved herself up onto the roof.

As she rolled over, she heard effort against the metal frame, and guessed that the intruding things had finally searched the room’s only exit. It was some comfort to know they were, evidently, not very bright.

Anya got up and surveyed what she could. Lights along the streets were alive and buzzing, but the buildings were largely dark. She didn’t like Anton’s section of New Windsor as much as her home, but to its benefit, plenty of roofs were fairly parallel, and none too far apart. She could get a good distance away just by traversing them.

Next door a flower shop had its glass skylights shattered, and she could strain to hear the movement there. A risk, but one significantly less daunting than being inside, or on the ground. She approached the gap between the two buildings, and assured herself that she could make the jump, especially with assistance. Where she was going, or what she planned to when she go there, she didn’t know, and frankly wasn’t concerned with. For now, the best choice was to move, and hopefully find people who were still people, or at least people like her.

She stepped back, focused once again on her clothes, then belted forward. As she leapt the narrow alley, the sudden extra momentum carried her a fair few feet onto the flower shop roof. The landing was rough, she stumbled and felt a tremor carry up from her feet, but altogether, she thought, not bad.

Anya didn’t hurry, any mistakes would likely be devastating. If the price she had to pay for a safe-ish journey was taking her time, she’d pay it gladly.

A N Y A E C K E R D
f e m a l e - e i g h t e e n - AB p o s i t i v e

M U T A T I O N S
-Telekinesis
Simply enough, Anya can move inanimate objects with her mind. As it is, she cannot move big things, but something small, or lightweight, she can handle. How fast, or far she can make something move is mostly a matter of intent, and focus, but even then her scope is, for the time being, quite narrow.
-Banshee
Anya was always very meager, but with the onset of her mutations, these attributes have begun to root. She’s a rather brittle girl, almost skeletal, thin of bone and muscle and prone to bruising. She walks in an even drift, and such a ghostly appearance is only further cemented by perhaps her most notable mutation: her hair, sapped of its color floats when uncovered. Not directly up per se, but more like a muted submersion. Competing for this slot would be either the third eye opened on her forehead, or the sleek, fleshy pair of antennae sprouted from her skull. Were it not for the fact that she often keeps the eye closed and covered, along with the antennae, by a hat or hood, these would most certainly take the cake.
-Wraith
Anya's mutation operates in two modes: her passive, pale, "banshee"-like state, and the easily identifiable "active" state. As she continually uses her telekinesis, most semblances of physical humanity are gradually lost. At its peak, her eyes open for the duration, and are overwhelmed by a vibrant white glow. Her flesh darkens dramatically over time, nearing pitch, but her veins brighten similar to her eyes, and create a twisting, spindly visage through the skin. This form, while perhaps intimidating, offers no underlying defense, and past her telekinesis she is no more physically volatile than in her passive state.

A P P E A R A N C E
Anya is not possessed of a figure that inspires terror. She is perhaps unnerving to behold, but on even the basest practical consideration there is not much to fear at a glance. She is short for her age, a trait of her father, with glassy blue eyes wide as a doll’s nestled into her skull. Her face is gaunt and like a raindrop turned upward, with contrastingly full hair that, were it not for her mutation, would fall fair about her shoulders.

More drastically, she is alarmingly narrow–thanks as well to her mutation. Her thin skin, like her hair, seems utterly drained of life and color. The blues of her veins bulge along her arms, and as she walks, one might strain to even hear it. It is not uncommon to see her bruised, angry winds can set her tumbling and though she tries to avoid bumping into things, any wayward encounter with a “push/pull” door could easily leave her shoulders purple for a time.

She tends to chill and so will often dress generously. Long pants and jackets with hoods to keep her hair in check, a scarf for the chilly nights–or even the not so chilly nights–and gloves or arm warmers are not out of the ordinary. Even casually, she’ll usually keep a beanie on, with her hair tucked as away as she can remember to keep it.

Anya’s cold and diminished appearance might render her unapproachable altogether, were it not for how often she smiles, and how warm those smiles tend to be.

P E R S O N A L I T Y
While she may look ghastly, cold, and distant, Anya is in fact a stark opposite to her mutation. One might get this idea first by her smile, which manages to light up her face unaided by her dull eyes. But, supposing otherwise, one might think through a conversation with her, that she’d no idea the state the world, or even she herself, was in.

With Anya, everything is “how’re you doing?” and “can I help?” She’d give the shirt off her back if it meant someone else could be warm, and finds herself running errands for others almost compulsively. She enjoys the feeling of a job well done, but especially revels in the accomplishments of others, and so tends to put aside her own goals.

Unfortunately, be it with naiveté natural to her age or to herself, Anya is rather gullible. It does not take much to get a lie over her head, even without proof, and sob-stories especially will capture her with ease.

In addition, while good-intentioned and warm-hearted, growing up Russian in a country at war with Russia has taught her to be reserved with her own life. Should one feel inclined to ask her about herself, they would receive conservative responses, and could expect a deflection to another topic. Perhaps it is no longer the case that such caution is necessary, but it is a habit, and a hard one to break.

B I O G R A P H Y


E Q U I P M E N T
-Mother’s Knife
A simple knife, with a cross guard and ebony-wood hilt. The initials “A A” are carved at its base.

P R O F I C I E N C I E S
+"Flitter"
The “sweet” to the bittersweet gift that is her mutation. Anya is quick and quiet as a result of her diminished being, and is difficult to hear even when she isn’t attempting to be silent. While by no means an experienced sneak, having the practical tools necessary for being subtle lend themselves to a degree of natural stealth.
+"Fleet of Foot, Fleet of Mind"
Anya considers herself a good problem solver, at least when not under extreme direct stress. In regards to her mutation, this might mean that, since she can't move people, she might try to move what they’re holding, or say, yank their shirt over their head. Likewise, though she can’t lift herself, she might instead lift herself via her clothes or the thing she’s on–which might prove impossible for her to do with someone of an average weight while her abilities are yet budding.
+"Mother Knows Best"
Having a former soldier for a mother had its perks. Anya received crash courses on many aspects of surviving in unideal situations, and while not all of it stuck–she never took too firmly to things like “this is how you hold a gun” or “this is how you break an arm”–she knows basic first-aid and navigation well enough, is well disciplined, and could handle a knife with a small degree of practice.

L I M I T A T I O N S
-"Glass Bones"
An exaggeration, to a degree. This would be the “bitter” to sweet flitter. Anya might well move like a wisp but she’s brittle and easily overwhelmed. This often leads to an array of injuries, a generally warmer wardrobe, and a habit to stand in places where she can avoid bumping into people.
-"Serial Apologist"
When one’s very body is as frail as Anya’s, an apologetic, non-confrontational nature should come as no surprise. However the truth is Anya has never had fierceness in her blood, and if something could have conceivably been her fault, she’s likely to take the blame. She may go out of her way to make excuses for others, especially if they face trouble for their actions. But at the end of the day, whatever aggravations or inconveniences she may cause can be preemptively handled with a stern “be quiet.”
-"Boo!"
Something else people might attribute solely to her mutation is Anya’s tendency to scare easily. Rather than list her phobias, she prefers to just say she’s “jumpy” and the truth is she’s always been that way. All the mutation did was heighten her sense of fear, turning some which would have once been baseless into true threats.
-"Dependency"
Anya's sole survival skill, aside from attempting to run, is her mutation. In that same breath, she lacks the understanding, control, and even fundamental possibility to do much with it as it stands. Moving things that are small or lightweight has its uses, but until her abilities develop, in kind words, she does best with others around.
-"My Own Worst Enemy"
While fortunately Anya's telekinesis suffers no direct counter (such as water to fire, or light to dark) her greatest-or more accurately, her closest or most constant-danger is herself. In her case, there is no exertion without repercussion. This drawback escalates corresponding to effort and mental preparation, so, if she moves a small object around for no great extended period of time, she'd likely suffer nothing, especially if she'd had a chance to prepare beforehand. However if she had to, say, force a heavy door open, depending on the effort exerted, she would instantly receive mental feedback in the form of a painful throb or jump in vision. Overexertion can be met with instant effects ranging from dizziness or disorientation, to minor hemorrhaging, loss of consciousness or, in the worst case, a major, fatal hemorrhage in the brain.

C O M P A N I O N S / F R I E N D S / R E L A T I O N S
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