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Ranch House


Oren had offered little in the way or resistance or disagreement to Mina's necessary, if rather brutal attempts to treat her. ANy other time such a thing would have caused her enormous concern, but by the point, everything that was awful and traumatic was sort of running together. At least she couldn't feel much of it. That put it a fair way above most of the times someone had stuck something sharp into her back in the last few weeks. Besides, by then it was kind of hard to feel that strongly about anything. She remained with her head low and her eyes shut.

The sound of Spire's voice had over the last few weeks provoked an almost pavlovian response. Her head shot up as the smug, sneering tone of the man who'd been itching to slit her throat for weeks. She glared at him, as if she stood even the remotest chance of being threatening as she was.

All of Erubesco's scientific ability and she was powerless against that bastard.

If he went after her again. She would more than likely die.

The only thing she could really have over him now was that she wasn't scared to die anymore.
She wasn't going to give that psychopath the satisfaction of her fear or distress.

When it came down to it, that might have been the only thing in a very long time that she truly had a choice in.

The combination of fever, painkillers, dehydration and days of sleep deprivation had already had sufficient effect on Oren's ability to think clearly, that any power nullification in effect passed by her entirely unnoticed. Had it been noticed it would probably have been met with as much indifference as anything else that day.

Meanwhile, outside, the effects were far more clearly being felt.

'Feeling strange' was kind of a hard thing to work out for Rei. If anything, she was always feeling strange. Her whole existence was a sin against nature by definition, and no way of how she functioned was in any was congruent with how any other living thing seemed to work, an ever-shifting, transient state that was constantly re-routing itself as a means to adjust to small changes in a situation, even when her exterior gave little indication of it. In that way, it was very hard to define 'normal'. It was also very hard to define when that was threatened.

So indeed the first thing that gave Rei a reason to be at all concerned was when she abruptly doubled over and vomitted green blood and pieces of rat all over the roof tiles.

That hadn't happened before. Rei frowned.


"...weird...I feel kind of-"


The mutant dropped off the roof like a stone and hit the ground in a manner that made on attempt to stop the impact. There was a distinct crunch on landing, but no reaction whatsoever from Rei herself. Her abilities were the only thing keeping the disparate collection of human and animal cells running as a functioning organism. Without Rei's powers, there wasn't a Rei.

Moments after the Erubescan experiment had smashed into the ground by the kitchen window, the small form of Hel came hurrying out of the back door, pausing for a moment to stop by her usual silver-haired punching bag and viewing the scene with distaste.

Nobody ruined her toy.

Except maybe her.

Not keen to wait for anyone older or more cautious to prevent it, Hel rushed forwards, over towards the source of the voice, her berry-coloured eyes narrowed in as much contempt as a six-year-old child could reasonably express. She didn't stop until she'd reached the foot of the armoured truck and was looking up at the man who had so unceremoniously crashed into her garden and started ruining her things with whatever it was that he was doing.

And she made her demands.
"Stop it."
Ashlands, Unknown Location


A long, high-pitched howl cut through the chill morning air somewhere to the north.

Cyrus Fox lay on his bed, brown eyes set squarely on the rust on his ceiling whilst the gears in his mind turned.

Coyotes weren't that uncommon in this part of the Ash. You could often hear their songs echoing across the rocks.

That was not a coyote.

The young man pulled himself up onto his feet and grabbed the pair of jeans from the floor of his 'house', the skeleton of an old bus that had decades ago come to make a final resting place of the small depression, sat between two high outcrops. He peered out from the windows into the orange sky and caught sight of a large shadow darting down the pathway, disappearing behind some bristly shrubs along the side of it.

Cyrus frowned. Looked like he had company.

A few moments later, Cyrus opened the bus door. The hinges were stiff from year of dereliction, and he had to lean a fair bit of weight into it to move the thing.

The rusted metal swung aside to reveal none other than his younger sister.

The sister he had last seen three years ago when she'd taken off on course for Liberty.
The sister he'd been pretty sure was either dead or assimilated.
The sister he'd long ago given up on.

She wasn't alone either. SHe stood sheepishly before the entrance, and in her arms she was carrying a child. Probably about four or five years of age.

Cyrus stood there for a long moment, unsure exactly how to react to this. In the end, it was Dinah, the not-dead sister, who broke the silence. She tossed her head to throw a few strands of hair from her face, and gave an awkward, lop-sided smile like a three year absence was about the same as spilling cranberry juice on his couch.

"Hey uh, this is kind of a long story and I swear it all checks out in the end but...I kinda need your help to break into Liberty. Also this is Jimmy. He's not my kid or anything. Honestly it all makes sense. It's just...kinda complicated."

Another long silence, before Cyrus finally sighed, rubbing his eyes.
"It's way too early for this shit. You better come in."
"Hey, language, there's a kid present."

"My bus, my rules."




Erubesco, The Citadel


Cadriel didn't really like people placing their hands on her without her say so.

Particularly since the day a certain Knight Commander had tried to stab her.

But that was a long story.

As such, as soon as the serf felt a hand on her shoulder she instinctively pulled away, her mild sense of alarm pushing back his psychic enquiry.

As such only a few things would flash up in Sairan's mind.

Cadriel, or someone very much like her, but devoid of scars and stitches, stood before a full length mirror, adjusting a Knight's uniform and badge for a scout regiment. Large, speckled wings were tucked in behind her shoulders.

--

An empty conscript room. Cadriel crouched down beside the bed, on which lay a clearly badly injured Commander Botrelle, covered in cuts and gashes. The serf was tapping some gauze over when looked like letters carved into the woman's skin with a knife, whilst speaking.
"I don't know...guess I'm just a better person than you huh?"


Caddie meanwhile had moved away to stand with her back against the wall, waiting until she was needed. Very little that came up surprised her, even if they did shock the ginger knight and the new Commander. The only thing odd was most Commanders were a little bit more subtle about the horrible things they got up to...ones like..

Commander Green.
She didn't recall seeing him come in.
Perhaps she'd been there already.
It was a tiny bit unsettling.

The Commander sat at the table, dressed in a neat white labcoat and a set of opaque grey gloves. White hair, youthful face, and the eyes of some kind of carnivorous reptile. Caddie gave him a wide berth.

"Thank you Commander Botrelle, much appreciated. And Commander Lovette, welcome to The Citadel. I hope you find the visit inspiring." Green smiled a little, a smile that never seemed to quite reach his eyes.

"Now, in regards to Medical Research. Most of you will be aware that one of my best qualified alchemists has been signed off as 'Missing in Action' as of last week, having received the last communication from her two weeks previous. Most unfortunate. With this in mind I will be beginning interviews for a replacement in the coming weeks. It's relatively non-urgent currently as the present staff are more than capable of keeping up with the routine tasks, however with Citadel plans to recommence the Red Queen project in the near future I feel it would be prudent to be well-prepared. If there are any recommendations for the position they would be much appreciated.

On that note the potential resumption of Red Queen will mean that I'd be requesting that a few of the routine testing tasks be passed on to a couple of alchemists in other departments for a few weeks, given the current staffing shortage here. Drug trial and the like, nothing considerable. If there are any objections in that regard please do let me know before I submit any requests to the Viceroy. "


KOra, for her own part in the meeting, had been sitting drinking coffee and doodling pictures of bears with swords on her notebook.
Right up until the point one of the Alchemists started casually talking about killing test subjects. The pen scratched on the paper as the Knight's head shot up. When Green had finished, she lifted one hand.

"Uh, question...what the fuck? There's an Alchemist that's casually offing serfs and nobody is bothered? What kind if sick fucks are you hiring here?" her gaze moved to Botrelle in particular. She was her friend after all, and she'd like to imagine that Lulu was not completely at ease with killing prisoners and serfs by the score in the name of scientific research.
Ranch House, Unknown Location


The continual drone of the radio snapped off, as the younger woman who had appeared departed once again. The echoes still seemed to be bouncing around in Oren's head for some time afterward. It had been the only thing really keeping her awake all this time, when her resolve to do so had long failed her.

The Alchemist's body had swiftly rejected the water, causing Oren to throw up onto the dirty concrete. She coughed, stomach acid burning her throat, and slumped sideways against the peeling wall. The pain, from her legs, arms, torso, was no less severe than it had been. Her head felt like it was full of hot tar. These things were still there, but by this point felt distant somehow.

Was this dying?

She'd long ago ceased to care about it.
Eventually things caught up with you.
Eventually you had to pay your dues.
The Nightwatch Project was cursed.
It got you sooner or later.
No kind of deal with the devil held it off forever.
Green was a bastard.
Why had she gotten into this?
Sterling, please don't have done anything stupid..

"Stay with me, now,"

Oren opened her eyes again, blinking a couple of times to focus. She was greeted by the presence of someone else in that room, and the presence of instuments on the table.

Someone else wanting to have a go?

No.

The mannerisms were different.

Doctor.

Oren's jaw clenched reflexively at the word the held in her mind. Doctor was not a good word.
But she had neither the energy or the time to get sufficiently worked up before the doctor stuck her with the needles.

--

Visually, a short while after being given the painkiller, the captured alchemist seemed to relax, her head lolling to one side, hair half plastered to her face with dirt and unhealthy sweat.

ALchemist Kovalenko had barely been out of the sterile fortress of Citadel Research in fifteen years. She had very little resistance to the pathogens of the Ash, and those bacteria had been making the most of an easy target, invading the half-healed injuries Spire had left behind and killing the tissue. Oren's own natural stubbornness only got her so far, and her body had been fighting a losing battle as the wounds turned septic.

As the scalpel started cutting into the skin the alchemist tensed, bound hands closing into fists, but she made no attempt to stop what was taking place. Out of necessity or sheer lack of will to do so was unclear.




"SO you got plenty of time to make boast and make threats and give a speech on why you don't have time to say sorry, but not enough time to not boats or make threats. Or use the word please. Or to say sorry. If you're gonna be a dick at least be honest about it." Rei responded, sitting against the tiles with the knees level with her chest and a look of general contempt on her face.

Quite honestly she spent enough of her time dealing with assholes that she could do nothing about to let those she could do something about go unchallenged. Maybe it was projecting to some degree. She didn't care too much either way. If she could manage to treat people civilly after all the shit Spire and Hel had put her through in the past then she didn't see what gave this guy a free pass.

As if that was not enough, there also seemed to be yet another unwanted guest. She had her concerns, though this one at least sounded something close to sincere. And others seemed to be handling it.

Rei leant back on the roof. Barely past sunrise and it was already chaotic.

Well, whilst she was up there she might a well check the attic.

Rei was in no way comfortable with what was taking place. She was also not comfortable at the prospect of a regenerator breaking out and murdering everyone in the house in their sleep. You couldn't trust regenerators. She should know. SHe was one after all.

The shapeshifter crept up the incline of the roof to peer through the dusty window of the attic. She'd expected to see the broken winged man up there. She'd not expected another pair of wings to be occupying the space.

Drake was back.

It was all happening today.

Rei remained still, listening in as little more than a blurry smudge of grey and green at a tiny window.
Ranch House, Unknown Location


Rei hated being around Spire. Hated it especially when someone like Toby or Mina wasn't around to act as a buffer. Out here there was really not enough people for him to share out his nastiness between.

She was rather relieved when the devil-child took the psycho's hand and he started to lead her away back toward the house and the kitchen. Meant she would know where they were for the next half hour or so so she could avoid it.

What she could not avoid however, was catching sight of the scene taking place by the door, and the stranger there. Toby was pointing a gun at him, so he had to be a stranger.

Rei did not appreciate his tone. She gritted her teeth, canines digging into the inside wall of her mouth very slightly. She took off at a job towards the farm house, that turned into a run, before making a lemur-like spring into the house, up the wall and over onto the roof top with digits that now spread out like those of a gecko.

She made her way over to the door where this was taking place, jumped over, and perched on the eves like a gargoyle, pupils contracted to black slits by the morning sun.
"I think the words you're looking for is 'please let me stay here'." she stated, narrowing her eyes.
"And less of the attitude would probably help your case there."

In many ways, Rei was a pushover.
She had a very low level of expectations when it came to her own treatment. She didn't complain too much if she got an arm ripped off or Hel made her eat bits of tractor engine for fun.

She did however start to bristle when people started trying to cause trouble for her group.
And this guy had trouble written through him like a stick of Brighton Rock.

Ranch House, Unknown Location

Oren was ready to die.

Well, 'ready' was the wrong word.

She'd forsaken any other possibility.

That was, when she caught the knife being put away she felt almost.. cheated

Was all this, the girl showing up, the exchange, just some other trick to try and get something out of her?

Just then, Hat Guy pushed her head up, and Oren felt water splashing into her mouth. In previous days she might have spat said water directly into her tormenter's facr in a bitter act of rebellion. Now, she was too weak and sick and resigned to her fate to both with such a futile gesture. As the water hit her throat her stomach reacted with objection to the now unfamiliar sensation, and Oren coughed and gagged, splashing some of the water onto the floor.

She wish he'd finished it.

And my Libertybros.



More characters in WIP because I'm scared of losing my progress.



-----
Erubescan Citadel


As the first rays of sunlight began to touch over the colourful banners of the Erubescan Citadel, Serf Cadriel had already been up for a few hours. Not that he wasn't used to that. She was generally employed (well, 'employed' in a loose sense) as a custodial worker, and was usually mopping the floors in the research block, or trying to scrub something best uninquired about off of a test room wall. However this morning was different. One of the usual workers that dealt with service tasks had, apparently been taken ill, and all the recent chaos left things in the Citadel more short staffed than ever.

This had been relayed to her in a manner that didn't explicitly state it, but very much put across the understanding, that they would not be having Caddie, the little vintage horror movie extra from the lab floor, serving coffee and pastries to Knight Commanders, if they'd got literally any other option.

But clearly times were hard.

That was how Caddie found herself hurrying down the back corridors of one of Floor -1, with a box of pastries clutched in her bandaged hands, and a cafetiere, milk jug, sugar bowl and a number of white porcelain cups floating in harmony behind her as if she were being followed by multiple helpful poltergeists.

Her highly controlled psychokinesis, whilst certainly not trained for this reason, did come in handy from time to time in her line of work.

Which was just as well as getting her hands on the coffee had taken long enough. Since the attack a few weeks back and the havoc wreaked on the electrical system, lower level surges were still pretty common, and half an hour ago everyone had been once again scrambling for fuses and circuit breakers. It was kind of a nightmare.

Admittedly probably the most mundane nightmare the Erubescan research floors were likely to generate, but a bit of a difficulty none the less.

Caddie's bandaged feet slipped a little as she hurried into the meeting room, but the serf was used to compensating for that and skidded to a halt before the table, where she started setting down drinks and condiments and delivering the requisite amount of customer service talk to hopefully get herself off the hook for the hold up.

"Apologies for the wait." her tone sounded sincere enough, and generally, as serfs went, they had to be pretty sincere in their contrition when things went wrong. They were the bottom of the heap after all. And there were very few legal protections regarding their treatment. Caddie was slightly different though. For a moment her eyes moved up from arranging the cups to steal a glance at the Commander running the meeting.

Commander Lulu Vivianne Botrelle. An individual whom she had a rather...complicated history with. It was a little hard to reconcile 'understanding of shared goals' and 'bitter, seething resentment that this kind of human being exists and has gained success and favour whilst acting the way she does'. She did not like Lulu Botrelle. Lulu Botrelle was also the closest thing she had to friends in high places in this complex. Citadel was a bit like that.




The air was like trying to breathe boiling mud. Thick with smoke and plaster dust and heat. Her chest burned as she tore acorss a shattered wall of concrete, leaving the surface scarred with blood and scorchmarks.

She was furious. Angry. How dare he. How dare he come to her Kingdom. Her city. After all this. After she'd conceded. After those bastards had taken everything from her that was important. Everything. And it still wasn't enough. It would never be enough. You couldn't walk away. Couldn't just hope they'd leave you alone. This VERMIN would never stop until someone EXTERMINATED them.

The explosion had catapulted her out of the window for the second time today. Hot blood dripped from her eyes and from her mouth, beginning to boil and hiss when it hit her skin. The wounds she'd received in the first bouts of the fight had already cauterized from sheer heat. Her could feet the pounding of her heart in her head and in her stomach as her legs kept a pace beyond any sense of apprehension, leaping over a fallen girder and letting loose a feral snarl of frustration.

WHERE WAS HE

Heat. Concrete. Shredded bits of chairs and tables.

Movement.

A figure trying to pick itself up. But it was pinned. A roof support on top of it, jagged ends digging into its back. He was trapped.

This wasn't good.

This wasn't honourable.

This was burning out poison before it spread.

This was was for the good of everyone.

THIS. WAS. JUSTICE.

With a screaming battle cry she leapt at the fallen figure, seized his neck in her hands, and-



FLASH

"Okay that looks pretty gnarly but maybe a bit more of a smile, we're going for hero, right?"

Kora blinked through the camera flash and awkwardly nodded.
Honestly one of the easier parts of soldiering was that you really very rarely had to work out what to do with your face. Attempting to look intimidating and majestic but also friendly and marketable was the kind of conundrum that rarely came up in her career.

Though now it seemed to apparently comprise a lot of it.

Photoshoot for the new recruitment drive.

Join the Knights. Join the Fight.

Who better to head it up than the Knighthood's new red-headed posterchild.

Erubescan social media had gone wild that day, three weeks back, when a number of crowds had filmed Kora fighting a gifted terrorist in the Citadel City's commercial district. Like some comic book superhero. Being thrown from a second floor window only to pick herself up and run back in again, pausing to blast flying rubble away from fleeing civilians. The ever hungry publicity machine of Citadel propaganda could not have asked for a better story.

Kora, for her own part, had really not realised the impact that her part in the fight had had, well, not until several days later when she'd awoken in the infirmary with lots of stitches, and arm in plaster, and a really excessive number of bouquets of flowers sent to her from people she'd never met before. It had been a pretty surreal experience, and took a lot of getting used to.

Was still taking a lot of getting used to.

Especially the photo stuff.

She found herself posing amid some mock-up of the ruined library that had made up the arena of her final showdown, albeit far more artfully distressed. She was also a lot more artfully distressed, with one slender cut across her cheekbone painted on in make-up and a small amount of powdered ash dusted around the waves of her hair. Bits of the modified Knight uniform she were wearing, clearly just recently out of the box, were lightly tattered at the edges. The cape and the claymore were also rather peculiar artistic liberties.

Why had they given her a claymore. Claymores were Scottish, not Scandinavian.

Least it wasn't a horned helmet, she supposed.

Kora was just attempting to meet the two, entirely irreconcilable expressions for the shoot when her communicator chirped into life, and a not unfamiliar voice spoke up. Lu.

Fuck.
She was supposed to be filling in for Commander Gray today.

She had no idea what exactly she was supposed to do in a research meeting. Meetings in general weren't exactly her forte. But orders were orders. And being the populous' new flavour of the month didn't change that.

A few minutes later Kora came rushing down the -1 hallway as quick as she could manage, still wearing the knight field uniform and still looking rather artistically distressed. She felt fairly silly, admittedly, but when you were a 6'6 Norwegian redheaded woman on a US base you were pretty used to getting looks whatever you wore. She'd get over it.

Upon entering the room she dropped into a chair, grabbed a cup, some coffee, and the sugar bowl, and emptied about six spoons of sugar into it. Some things never really changed no matter where you were.
"Sorry for the hold up..." she added, deciding mentioning the costume would just be bringing more attention to the elephant in the room.
"Schedule conflict."



Ranch House, Unknown Location


Spire.
Joy.

Rei wasn't enamoured to find the older of the brothers make himself known. Frankly she already felt surrounded when she was around just Hel, let alone her and her murder-dad. It tended to feel a little like being circled by a pack of hyenas.

His little supposedly throwaway remark, clearly not meant as a throwaway remark, made her bristle, but she kept a relatively straight face in an attempt to not let the resident psychopath know he was getting exactly the feeling of discomfort that he wanted.

"Think she just got up. Montana only just left the kitchen, think he was taking some food to uh.."
Rei wasn't sure how to refer to the horrible thing they were doing. Spire and Montana's little project. Something that she felt a worse person due to a cursory attachment to but was really in no place to interrupt when the man could probably make her ribcage explode through eye contact if the fancy took him. If anything she took some solace in the fact that there really was nothing she could do to prevent whatever they were doing in the basement or attic.

That did, at least make her feel a bit better that she didn't feel a lot of empathy for Erubescan scientists.
Familiarity did certainly breed contempt.

On seeing Spire Hel wasted no time in making her way over to the man, the kind of father figure that only a daughter figure like Hel would adopt. She didn't tend to smile often, but she made it quite clear whose company she preferred.
"No. Yeah. Montana was there getting food. I went to look for you."
Probably because she didn't trust Montana. And Montana didn't trust her.




It was hard to tell when Hat Guy was going to show up. That was what she tended to refer to him in her head. Along with numerous other more abusive names. He was the quieter one. She also didn't trust him anymore than the knife-wielding psychopath that had laid into her many times before. They wanted the same thing. Just different approaches.

It was hard to hear him. Seeing was less of a problem. Darkvision came naturally to her, and the gloomy basement might as well have been a well-lit room for all she could pick out. If someone were observant, they might have caught the glowy refection off of Oren's eyes when they were hit by light, like those of a cat's at night.

She could see him perfectly well, though greeted his appearance with a dull indifference.

He'd brought food, and set it down in front of her. She found one of her wrists loosened from its binding. Her fingers were cold, joints loked together from days in one position. She dropped her arm to her side, and it stayed there as Oren regarded the plate emptily.

She had felt hungry. Incredibly so. Would probably have cut her own hand off for a bread roll. Now that just felt blunted and numb, the smell of canned meat causing bile to rise in her throat. She coughed for a moment, before letting her head sit against the wall again.

How disappointing. Starved half to death. And even when she had food she couldn't eat it.

Not that that mattered.

This was a change.

A change was bad.

If they were giving her food then it was the least of her worries.

She didn't care anymore. Her body was failing her after weeks of misuse. Pathogens rushing to capitalize on partly healed cuts and exploit an immune system already stretched to breaking point from starvation and exhaustion. Whatever happened, she would die.

It was hard to speak. Her lip were cracked and tongue near stuck to the roof of her mouth. Words that usually came very easily to the caustic and wholly unfiltered alchemist were hard to keep hold of.
"Just..do it.." she muttered, voice raspy, her eyes setting onto Montana's in a bitter understanding of what he was getting at.

Erubesco. Liberty. Ashrat groups.
The whole rotten, merciless world worked the same way.

If you weren't useful, you were disposed of.
Ranch House, Unknown Location

Times have changed
And we've often rewound the clock
Since the Puritans got a shock
When they landed on Plymouth Rock-


The music wasn't on that loud, but the old radio was placed in a peeling wall alcove about an inch from her face, and the consonants of Cole Porter were rattling round inside her head like a bag of broken glass. She hadn't slept in days. Probably days. Whilst she was quite accustomed to working without any natural light, for very good reason, she usually at least had some means of telling the time. Locked up in a basement without food, or sleep, with the continuous salvaged music loop on eternal repeat, Alchemist Oren Kovalenko had no idea how long she'd been there.

She also had no idea that her captors planned to kill her today.

The Erubescan scientist was in the cluttered gloom of the ranch's basement, kneeling on the grubby concrete, forced into said position by the length of aged washing line holding her hands together at the small of her back, and the brutal but very well planned cuts across the Achilles tendons along the back of each leg that rendered her usually fleet movement impossible. The wounds were wrapped in old field dressing and crepe bandage, something visible in a few other places about the woman's person. There were bruises on her face, dried blood matting her hair, and her clothes were cut and torn.

Not every Wanderer out there had abandoned the faction's brutal pragmatism when it came to dealing with threats.
And Alchemist failed Kovalenko's attempt to retrieve a certain child from the group a couple of week's previous had been seen by some as a great opportunity to gather much-needed information on one of the great threats to their existence, the Citadel and its research dept.

Unfortunately for them, and in many ways, unfortunate for Oren, she was not a good candidate to harvest information from. Her mind was unreadable, her resolve seemingly inexhaustible, and her hatred towards her captors quite intense...albeit the combination of hunger, sickness and exhaustion had put pay to any serious attempts at retribution over them.

They had nothing to get out of her. She had nothing to give them. She did have their location though, something she could relay to Erubesco. And for that reason she had to die.

Oren had some inkling of what was coming, even if she had no idea when, some of that instinctual fear that got the tetrapod of her distant ancestry to wriggle up onto the land. The animal fear of death that had kept the world moving for millions of years. Of course it was there. But it was muddled with an awful lot of other things. Like finally fulfilling her contract in full. Ending being beholden to that predatory reptile of medical research.

This was all Sterling's fault.

Sterling.

She hoped he hadn't done anything stupid.
It wasn't as if they'd let her know if he had unless it promised to be useful.
And that idiot was completely indestructible.

She really hoped he hadn't done anything stupid.
Hoped, but had no confidence about.




Around the cracking paint of the old barn, a large rat edged its way along the wall, between the dry grass and the rotten wood. It had skittered out of a hole in the side of the structure, home to many of its brothers and sisters, and was making its way in the direction of the kitchen, something that had sprung to life in recent days, to make full use of the supplies.

Sadly, for the rat, its hour of judgement was at had.

As soon as it stepped out from the cover of the barn, a streak of green and white sprang from its perch on the window ledge, seized the struggling rodent and ended its existence with a snap of sharp predator teeth.

Well, as RE1 understood it, 'end' would be the wrong word. Once consumed all of the rat's cells would be converted into her own usable biomass, to be used how she or her powers saw fit. If anything she didn't kill the rat as much as assimilate the rat...but to the casual observer, and to anyone in the group looking at her with a level of mild disgust, it was very much the same thing.

RE1, better known as Rei to those around her, could not eat ordinary food. Vegetable items or cooked items were quickly rejected by her body, and as such she needed a pretty constant stream of fresh prey to sustain herself. Fortunately for her, rat catching was both satisfied that, and was useful to the group in general....even if it wasn't the most wholesome activity.

Rei was considering returning to her hiding place to try again, or potentially actively pursuing her prey in the rodent mothership that was the collapsed barn, but thought better of it when a shape caught her attention and made her stomach involuntarily knot up. The glimpse of green and orange and little red tennis shoes that indicated the Wanderers' resident pint-sized antichrist was up and about.

Best part of the day over. Hel was up.

Rei was about to slope away and avoid catching her eye, but it was too late, and she felt the muscles in her ankles lock up as the child's strawberry-red eyes locked onto her and she came trotting over.
"Where's Spire?"
Rei gave a non-committal shrug.
Probably out building an iron maiden or whatever other demented project was taking that sick bastard's fancy at the moment.
But she wasn't going to say that.

For whatever reason, Hel liked Spire.
Probably because she'd be just like him when she grew up.
"I dunno. Have you tried indoors? We don't really talk much y'know. Toby might know."

Basically 'please bother literally anyone but me'.
The child looked dissatisfied with the answer, though not sufficiently to act up, which was good. Hel didn't really get angry as such...she got superpowered...which was kind of a lot worse. Teaching a regular child how to behave like a decent human being was hard enough, let alone one with sufficient power and influence to punish you right back for breaking her rules.

All aboard the hype train ladies and gentlemen! :D

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