1. Welcome to Umbra Roleplaying! We are an 18+ multi-genre roleplaying and writing community open to writers of all types. Sign up today to have access to our forums and join our other talented members!

 Sci-Fi  Action/Adventure  Post-Apocalyptic  One x One RP Blue Rivers

Discussion in 'Roleplay Haven' started by OklahomaBattleRabbit, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. OklahomaBattleRabbit

    OklahomaBattleRabbit Active Member Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    76
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    The agitation of those arrayed before Jehm was like a palpable force, the air suddenly charged. It made Jehm's hair stand on end and she felt an itching in her fingertips. She knew that if she weren't still Kill Crazy, she might have been able to articulate well enough to solve this issue with words. Or to at least keep things from getting any worse. She might also have been more understanding of the townspeople's feelings. They were raw from an attack, their homes had been violated and destroyed, and many of those they knew and loved were dead. To them, Jehm was a convenient place to focus their fear and anger. But in that moment, she would have liked to have corrected them with her fists. But that wouldn't actually do anything but confirm their fears.

    It was easy to focus on Ash's voice. The scout was familiar to her and the brief connection they had since meeting the other day was enough to made them a point of reference for her addled mind to grasp. Ash took her arms, convincing her to relinquish her rifle. She did so reluctantly but knew it was for the best. The more these people shouted at her, the more likely she was to use it on them.

    Ash led her away and Jehm felt a shaky chill enter her muscles. The Kill Crazy was wearing off already, thank goodness. But it left her cold and depleted. "I'm sorry..." she bit out as they moved away. "I didn't mean to..."
     
  2. Nyctibius

    Nyctibius Militant Owl Admin Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2019
    Messages:
    512
    Likes Received:
    1,067
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    The crowd followed the two of them all the way to the gates, and Ash did everything in their power to ignore the cries, the vitriol being spewed at them both. They just kept on yelling, trying to drown out the rest for Jehm's sake. Fortunately the mob stopped short of the gate, jeering and cursing their backs as they emerged from the ruins of Gladston. Ash kept pulling the Neosap along, if only because it was a task to focus on. Something to keep the mind from focusing on the death and horror the day had brought. Without anywhere better to go Ash made for the disused shack they had hidden in before--it was near, and it was shelter, meager though it was.

    They realized they had taken both rifles with--Jehm's and their own. The people had probably been too afraid to try and take them away. Without really thinking about it Ash set both guns down in the grass, then sat down heavily outside the shack, staring off at the horizon. "It's not your fault," they said, as much to Jehm as to themselves. "They're just scared. Terrified. Once they calm down we can go back. It's gonna be alright."

    Jair woke to the sound of angry voices. His head swam for a moment as people yelled and jeered, and his thoughts swarmed like bees. The last thing he remembered was running as the street fell away under him. Then he'd tripped, and his final terrifying thought before he blacked out was that he had fallen through entirely. Slowly the facts built up in his head. He was still on street level, or else he wouldn't have heard so many people yelling. They were moving further and further away, and as he pushed himself upright he could see them, a tight knot of furious townspeople. He thought he could hear the words 'freak' and 'mutant' being yelled, and forced himself to stand.

    There weren't many in Gladston that he could think of that would earn that kind of scorn. The only person he knew of couldn't have possibly warranted that kind of blind hate.

    Jair took a few uneven steps to the wall and leaned against it, breathing and trying to focus. When the world stopped spinning violently he tried moving again and was grateful to see that his vision spun a little bit less now. Step by step, bit by bit, he made his way through the ruins of the town, following the crowd as best he could. He passed the Governor's building, where a knot of frantic workers were pulling away the rubble, calling out her name.

    There he paused, looking at the massive heap of broken wood and twisted metal. Why were they bothering? Nobody could have survived that, he thought dully. The people he had been following were dispersing, some joining the rescue effort, others drifting away into the ruins in a furious stupor. Jair looked past them, past the handful who remained by the gates muttering amongst themselves. They had chased someone out of the town. He took a deep breath and started moving again, trudging weakly out to the gate and into the field beyond. A few people called his name as he went, but they were ignored. He could see two people walking away from him, and he changed his direction to stumble after them.
     
  3. OklahomaBattleRabbit

    OklahomaBattleRabbit Active Member Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    76
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    Jehm's receding fight or flight response left her feeling cold and edgy, a bitterness entering her mind as she sat beside Ash. She was regaining the ability to form more complex thoughts once more and given the negative nature of her most recent interaction with humans, she couldn't help her mind wandering to her thoughts about the relationship between her species and humans. On good days, she was at peace with the fact that humans might never truly trust her kind. She had faith that in time, they could learn to coexist. But in her darker moments, she wondered if this would all end in another violent conflict. On a planet with sparse resources with two dominant populations which already had tenuous relations... it all looked rather bleake. And the hatred in the eyes of the Gladston citizens had embittered Jehm in this moment. Everywhere she went, she was hated for what she was. It would have been one thing if human ire was solely directed outwards. But they reviled those among their own population as well. Remembering the way they had spoken to Ash, one of their own, made her clench her fists. They blamed Ash for existing, for a part of them which was intrinsic to their being. Jehm didn't ask to be made...

    Her mood drastically improved when she saw Jair approaching. He looked a little the worse for wear but he was walking. That was a good sign. "You're ok!" She said, expression brightening. She knew they all looked to be in quite a state, covered in grime and blood. She didn't resist her first impulse to approach him and check him over for injury.
     
  4. Nyctibius

    Nyctibius Militant Owl Admin Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2019
    Messages:
    512
    Likes Received:
    1,067
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    "Okay is a strong word for it," he mumbled, and came to a halt as Jehm rose to check him over. His head had begun to ache terribly, and a gash across his forehead from where he'd landed was almost certainly the culprit. Aside from a handful of other bruises he was okay, at least physically. His eyes had a hollow look to them, and he was slow to respond to outside stimulus. Ash recognized it as shock--a condition they were dangerously close to falling into themselves.

    Ash stood and got busy with the supplies Jair still had on him. A couple of magazines had managed to stay in his pockets from his fall, and Ash took both of them, slotting one into the rifle they'd taken from Jehm and chambering a round. Jair watched quietly, then blinked and looked toward the fields. "My bag is still out there, isn't it?" he murmured. "With my research. The last of my research." He looked at Jehm, blinking slowly. "It's all gone, you know. My home. All my books I wrote about everything. I'd just sussed out concrete, I think. And it's all burning down now."

    The scout shook their head, ignoring Jair. "We have bigger problems right now than burning books. You and I need to decide where to go--assuming you choose to stay with me, Jair. And Jehm... I'm sorry. You fought to protect those ungrateful morons and they chased you out of town. You have no obligation to stay with us now."

    "That isn't right," Jair told Jehm. "They shouldn't have done that to you. I don't understand why... I don't understand why we were even attacked."

    Ash nodded a little, eyes focusing on the horizon. "Yeah. I'd give all the pepper left in the warehouses to know that one, Jair. Why... who. Where they're from."
     
  5. OklahomaBattleRabbit

    OklahomaBattleRabbit Active Member Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    76
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    Jair brought up a point Jehm hadn't really considered yet. It was understandable given that they were all in some form of shock or heightened adrenaline in the wake of the attack. The why of it wasn't important when you had guns pointed at you. But now that they had time to think, the quesiton presented itself.

    Why had they been attacked? Gladston was richer than most settlements in the area but this group didn't seem concerned with looting of any kind. They were a military outfit, not raiders, and their sole aim seemed to be to do as much destruction as possible. Perhaps the attack had been a smoke screen for something else and the fact that Jair was one of few people looking into the effects of the Argent rivers on the biology of the planet, she wondered if it had to do with that. Of course, it was possible there was another motivation for the attack but it just seemed like such an odd coincidence.

    She thought about this as she finished her examination of Jair, realizing she was fauning over him a bit more than might have seemed acceptable. She really had developed a soft spot for him in the short time they knew each other.

    "You're both welcome to return with me to my settlement until we can learn more. It's a long journey but I can guide us. I think it's best we put some distance between ourselves and Gladston at the very least."

    She couldn't help still being worried for her two human companions. It was still at the back of her mind that humans were more fragile than she was and it developed into paranoia that she knew was unfounded: that relatively minor injuries would seal their doom simply because they were feeble little humans. She knew it was ridiculous because she understood human resiliance levels like anyone with basic observational skills but she couldn't imagine being as vulnerable as they were so it made her more hyperaware. The blood on Jair's face and the general battered appearance of both of them distressed her despite concluding that neither of them had recieved any kind of mortal wound. She resolved to work on that.
     
  6. Nyctibius

    Nyctibius Militant Owl Admin Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2019
    Messages:
    512
    Likes Received:
    1,067
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    Ash looked at Jehm sharply, rocking back slightly as the offer settled in. Go to a Neosap settlement? That seemed like a desperate sort of thing to do. The scout looked back to Gladston, to the smoke rising, and the cruelty that had just been heaped on them all by the townsfolk. A desperate sort of thing seemed to be right where they were at. "Right," Ash said, nodding quickly. "Right. Lead the way, Jehm. We need somewhere to be and your people seem like a much better option right now than ours."

    Jair was only somewhat aware of the decision, but as they began to move he made it a point to retrieve the pack he had left in the field. It was really all he had left, and even in an emotionally compromised state he wasn't about to abandon it. He seemed content with that much, at least for now. They left Gladston behind, and soon the only remaining scent of smoke and blood came from the three of them. At Ash's suggestion they opted to return to the stream and pond from their camp the night prior, and reached it well after sunset. Despite all their exhaustion and despite the frigid water Ash still stripped down and waded into the pond to bathe, scrubbing at their skin until it was red and raw and no longer reeked of destruction and death.

    They managed to keep their grief silent that first night, sobbing into their arms to muffle the gasps and shuddering sighs.

    Jair bathed the next morning, bright and early, and once all three had drank and splashed some Ash led them upstream a ways to a single, large tree that grew by the side of the stream. They explained that the tree was a makeshift lookout for the Gladston Scouts, and scaled it with practiced ease. Strapped and camoflaged to one of the higher branches was a survival kit with a canteen, rations, and some rudimentary medical supplies. It wasn't much, Ash said grimly, but every little bit would help them at this point. The scout privately hoped that they'd be able to find more stashes like it as they traveled--Ash knew enough about the craft to find them, and they'd make due otherwise.

    The first couple of days after that were largely uneventful and quiet. Jair recovered from the mild concussion and began to process what had happened to the town, to them. What the current journey meant. He kept his head down and his mouth shut and focused on keeping up with his much more travel-ready companions. The landscape wasn't too difficult at least, nothing like the badlands around the fallen 'Formers, and they made good time. Jair had studied maps of the old world and compared them to maps made by vagrants in more recent years, and while most of the old maps were entirely irrelevant now there had been enough familiarity for him to figure out where Gladston might have been if the old world was still intact.

    After three days of steady travel, both he and Ash had no idea where they were, and were following Jehm's lead. Jair had begun talking again, as if for something to do, and was more than happy to tell Jehm all about where he thought his onetime home had been. "From the maps the best I can tell is that we were in the southeast corner of the British Isles," he told her, both hands wrapped tight around his backpack straps. "I think the ruined city we plundered all the time was formerly called Somerset... though, of course, I could be totally mistaken. It wouldn't be the first time! I used to think we were near London, until I saw old world population reports in some musty old file and realized that our little city was nowhere NEAR the size of the capital city. Of course, all of this is really semantics, it barely matters--"


    "Jair," Ash said warningly, gripping their rifle. He trailed off as the scout glanced at Jehm. Something in the air seemed wrong--the two combatants could feel it. A strange smell, a stray sound-- it didn't add up. Ash dropped to the ground and Jair crouched. The scout crawled on elbows and knees through the grass and brush of the small rise ahead, and peered over the edge carefully.

    Ahead, Ash could see the ocean on the far horizon, along with a land bridge that bore the unmistakable markings of having been built by a 'Former in a time since past. One of the rivers of Multifuel twisted through the air above, and dipped down low, close to the ground as it wound in from above the trio and then back inland at a right angle. At the point where it came closest to the ground a huge mound had been built out of scaffolding and scrap, with a strange mechanism at the peak that looked like a platform, wires, and four sturdy pipes that nearly touched the river above. All around the mound a few dozen people had gathered, most of them wearing hoods and conversing in low tones Every hood was grey or white or black, with a single strip of blue painted or sewn down the center in a vertical line. A few closer to the scaffold mound had three stripes, and one among them had five, lines of blue that came down his shoulders and arms.

    "A River-cult," Jair whispered when he joined Ash, his eyes going wide. "Incredible... but what's that structure for? Why are they all gathered here? I thought they were more reclusive and secretive."

    Ash scowled as a cheer went up at the edge of the crowd, and soon all of them were chanting. "It's a sacrificial altar," they said grimly as a figure in chains was hauled into view by two more cultists, each with three blue stripes on their hoods. The prisoner was bound at the arms, and dug their legs in hard, fighting with everything they had as they were forced inexorably toward the scaffold mound. "We should sneak around while they do their thing. It looks like there's a way past on the right, there, through the scrubs." Ash looked to Jehm to get the soldier's appraisal. "What do you think?"
     
  7. OklahomaBattleRabbit

    OklahomaBattleRabbit Active Member Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    76
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    Jehm kept silent watch over the other two that first night, pretending she couldn't hear them sobbing themselves to sleep. She felt that same shaky grief but Gladston hadn't been her home. It was simply her nerves and it was something she had gotten used to in the wake of battle many decades ago. She felt a pull to comfort them but didn't know what she could do or say. In the end, she simply let them tire themselves until they fell asleep, then quietly went about checking over her equipment. When that was done, she ventured over to a nearby tree and began preparing something to help them hunt if their rations didn't last long enough. The bow she fashioned was crude but strong, so strong it was unlikely a human could draw it. The bundled branches and reeds were held together with a strong cabling she kept among her other gear.

    They made good time in the next couple of days but Jehm was concerned by Jair's relative silence. Both the humans were still raw from the attack but this little leg of the journey was in direct contrast from how it had been when the three of them plus the Governor had left the 'Former when they met. To make up for it, Jehm did her best to be the cheerful one, telling Jair things she remembered about human civilization before the end of the war, a topic he had seemed eager to discuss before. It was rather awkward, though, given she had played a part in ending that civilization. So many of her stories came from the a battlefield where she was killing humans... usually just like Jair and Ash. Eventually, she fell silent too, keeping her mind on the journey.

    It was a relief when Jair started talking again, explaining his process of how he had figured out where they were. Jehm had operated primarily in what used to be Asia and Russia but she had memorized maps of Earth, albeit with arbitrary alien designations. Even so, that had been decades ago so she likely wouldn't have been able to do a better job of finding their position than Jair was.

    Jehm realized with a bit of horror that she hadn't detected whatever it was Ash had, too caught up in speaking with Jair. As to why that was would have to be examined later. For now, she followed the scout's lead, letting her senses branch out to take in more of the environment as she checked her own rifle, her bulky form moving silently and fluidly to find a perch to observe the scene below.

    There was a loud humming, likely part of the ritual, coming from the hooded crowd as the sacrifice--the victim--was prepared. So many souls all brainwashed into believing such an act of barbarism was justified and simply standing there watching made the animal anger inside Jehm which she worked so long to suppress in the wake of the Overlord's demise reer its head. And yet, she knew a group like this was mostly made up of scared people in a harsh world looking for any kind of emotional lifeline, no matter how terrible. It was a way to make sense of things and ultimately it was the fault of Jehm and all those like her. No, wait. It was the fault of the Overlords. And humans had been doing things like this to each other long before Neosaps had showed up.

    Ash's suggestion of a stealthy retreat was met with a stony expression as Jehm pulled back the slide on her rifle to check the chambered round. "I think..." She said slowly, glancing at Jair. "I think I'm tired of watching humans do terrible things to each other out of fear, justifying barbarism with zealotry." She slung the rifle on a lanyard to use as a backup before stringing her bow. She only had three arrows but hopefully wouldn't have to use them until she was close enough to rescue the sacrifice. By then, stealth wouldn't be an issue and she could switch to the rifle.

    Lastly, she produced a scope from her pack and handed it to Ash. "Should work with your rifle. Take an overwatch position and cover me. Don't fire unless you have to." She hadn't asked for a vote. She would do it with or without Ash as overwatch. She handed the extra rifle to Jair. "Same for you. Stay with Ash."
     
  8. Nyctibius

    Nyctibius Militant Owl Admin Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2019
    Messages:
    512
    Likes Received:
    1,067
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    The scout hesitated for only a moment before accepting the scope and fixing it to the rail. "Stay low," Ash told Jair. "When I open fire, shoot into the crowd. Don't try too hard to aim--just don't hit Jehm or the sacrifice." Ash turned back to the Neosap. "I'll give you eight minutes to position up before I open fire. It's how long I would take." They knew Jehm was likely quicker, but didn't see a point in explaining that they'd open fire if and when the Neosap attacked.

    "Are we sure this is a good idea?" Jair asked, frowning as he clutched the rifle in both hands. "There's so many of them--I don't want him to die, either, but--"


    "Look," Ash interrupted, voice hard and quiet, "if you don't start shooting this will fall apart. If we use the chaos of her surprise attack, my precision, and you at the same time they'll probably think they're under attack from a larger force than they are. But if you don't shoot then it's that much easier for them to figure out there's only two of us. I know you don't like killing, but just do us both a favor and--just shoot them, Jair. Just shoot them." Ash turned away to find a good spot to shoot from, and Jair stayed where he was for a moment, eyes on the rifle he held.

    "I don't want to kill anyone," he whispered. "Shit." He shook his head and returned to their original vantage point, chambering a round in the weapon and carefully aiming down at the humming crowd.

    A dozen meters further down Ash sighted through the scope, aiming for one of the men flanking the sacrifice. The countdown continued in their head, ticking down the seconds. They felt their own pulse in a moment of heightened awareness, a pre-battle sensitivity that had served them well in the past. They pulled the charging handle on their rifle as the time ran out. The bullet slid into position and Ash stopped breathing for an instant, the sights falling across their target's head. A small pull, a loud snap, a small kick, and the man went down in a red haze. Ash switched targets without hesitating, exhaling, inhaling, sighting, shooting. They heard closer shots as Jair opened fire, and more of the cultists fell as chaos broke over the congregation.
     
  9. OklahomaBattleRabbit

    OklahomaBattleRabbit Active Member Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    76
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    Jehm's infiltration of the gathering was aided by the low hum which emanated from the congregation. She moved between hiding spots, utilizing her skeletal flexibility to pack herself into small spaces to eel through and around obstacles, circling left. The junk and debris which made up the structure which rose toward the argent river was a chaotic mess, affording excellent cover. Nevertheless, it was an arduous process filled with adrenaline to ensure she made progress toward her goal without detection. She kept a count in her head to know when Ash and Jair would open fire. The minutes ticked on as the hooded figure at the top of the platform spoke loudly with hands raised, a knife in one of them. Jehm didn't concentrate on the drivel he was spouting, focusing on the task at hand as she ascended the tower from the far side.

    She pulled herself up onto the top platform, unslinging her bow as she hunkered down behind a rusted oil drum which made up one support for a crude table which held instruments of torture, likely for use in other, equally barbaric rituals. There were three worshipers on the platform, one of whom was the one with the large blue stripes, obviously the leader. They all faced away from her, toward their congregation. The sacrifice knelt near the far edge, chained in place. The victim was covered in rags and wrappings, likely a wanderer of some kind the cult had captured.

    The leader finished his sermon and turned to the sacrifice, finally ready to enact the ritual. The crowd below grew silent. The knife raised.

    A shot rang out and pandemonium erupted. More shots. Cultists fell, injured or dead. Others began to flee. The leader looked around wildly for the source of the disturbance. Jehm shot one of her three arrows through his neck and he toppled off the platform. She made another shot, killing one of the two remaining cultists on the platform before the third reached her, screaching as she lashed out with a rusty metal club. Jehm batted it aside and slid the point of her third arrow up under the cultist's jaw and into her brain.

    Jehm caught her as she fell, noting the key on a chord around her neck. Jehm snatched it and approached the sacrifice to remove their bonds. The blindfolded figure thrashed in fear as she approached, frightened by the cacophanous confusion around them. "I'm here to help!" Jehm shouted over the shots and screaming as she released the figure from the manacles and lifted their blindfold.

    Up close, Jehm could tell the victim was a woman but she didn't have time for much else as she hauled the frightened woman to her feet and beckoned her to follow. The Neosap unslung her rifle and began her descent down the tower, shooting any cultists that attempted to stop them. The sacrifice stayed close, obviously more frightened of the cultists at the moment than a neosap.
     
  10. Nyctibius

    Nyctibius Militant Owl Admin Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2019
    Messages:
    512
    Likes Received:
    1,067
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    A handful of cultists seemed to organize as the rest scattered, lunging for spears that had been set aside for the ritual. They called out to their fellows, trying to establish control, until Ash put two of them down with clean headshots. The remainder hesitated until Jair sent a hail of bullets down at them and broke what little remained of their desire to resist. Ash shot another cultist carrying a torch and they collapsed, the flaming brand dropping onto the scaffold. It didn't take long for the wood to catch, and in moments the entire scene was lit by yellow-red flames. By then the two humans had reunited with their Neosap ally and the prisoner, and all four retreated from the ridgeline at a crouch.

    Ash led the way, deliberately leading them over flat stone and away from any standing grass or bushes they could snap. The less of a trail, the better--the cultists would not take this lightly, they knew. They threw in a few abrupt changes of direction, heading directly back toward the burning altar and even back the way they'd come, then a large arc away from all of it that took them closer to the land bridge left behind from the ancient war. They'd been going for almost twenty minutes before Ash let them stop, coming to rest behind a fallen log.

    Jair sat down hard against the wood, chest heaving and panting from keeping the pace. His hands shook from a mixture of nerves that were finally setting in and exhaustion. He didn't resist as Ash took his rifle to check the ammo their weapons retained, more glad to be rid of the weapon than not, and turned his attention to Jehm and the former captive. "Are you both alright?" he asked, clearing his throat when he found it more blocked than he'd have liked. After a beat he reached for his pack and the water skin in it, offering it to the captive. "You're safe now... thanks to Jehm. Are you hurt at all?"
     
  11. OklahomaBattleRabbit

    OklahomaBattleRabbit Active Member Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    76
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    Jehm kept a hand on the back of the sacrifice's neck as they moved, keeping her in a stooped posture to avoid return fire from the cultists. Most of them were fleeing but some attempted to fight back with crude weapons and the odd antique firearm. Jehm put down the ones that got in their way, aiming her rifle one handed with quick accuracy.

    The sacrifice remained close even as they rejoined Jehm's backup, cowering behind Jehm's bulk like a moving shield until they were away from the pandemonium. However, as soon as they had gotten some distance and were able to find a place to rest, she scrambled away, hefting a rock as one uncovered eye peered between the three of them. It seemed their rescue of her wasn't entirely enough to make her trust them, not that Jehm really blamed her. For all the woman knew, they had their own selfish motives, no matter how unlikely.

    The woman was dressed in stained rags and what those didn't cover sported cloth bandages. She looked like a mummy, albeit shabily wrapped, her one visible eye a bright blue. "Who the fuck are you?" she asked in a cracked voice, somewhat muffled.

    Jehm seemed to hold little concern for the rock wielding woman. As threats went, she wasn't really one. Ash and Jehm were both armed and a rock would do little to a Neosap she couldn't stop. She was more concerned with possible pursuit, adrenaline still coursing through her as she hunched behind their cover and surveyed the landscape around them. They were all low on ammo but with her marksmanship skills, she could hold off quite a few cultists with only a few bullets if she had to.

    "Just passing by," Jehm managed, still not looking at the woman. "You're welcome."

    The woman eyed the neosap warily for a moment, glanced at Ash, and settled on the least threatening among them: Jair. She seemed to deflate all of a sudden, sinking to her knees and letting the rock drop to the ground as her shoulders shook in silent sobs. "All you surfacers... Animals..."
     
  12. Nyctibius

    Nyctibius Militant Owl Admin Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2019
    Messages:
    512
    Likes Received:
    1,067
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    "Animals?" Ash growled, clutching the rifle tightly. "Watch your mouth--"

    "Ash," Jair interrupted, his own tone stern. "After what she's been through can you really blame her?" He turned his attention back to the woman and eased closer, his eyes bright with curiosity, eager to focus on something other than the memory of the rifle jumping in his hands each time he'd shot a cultist. "Not everyone in the world are animals, but some can be closer than others. Our home was just destroyed a few days ago." As he spoke Ash moved to settle in next to Jehm, watching for any signs of pursuit, rifle still held ready.

    Jair glanced at them both, then shrugged off his pack and set it on the ground along with his own gun. He dug for a moment and came up with one of the few survival bars they had left. He held it out to the woman, wrapping and all, forcing himself to smile. "We aren't like them, though. I promise. Try to relax. My name is Jair. That's Ash, and that's Jehm. What, er... what did you mean by 'surfacers'? Did you maybe live underground before... well, before they got you?"
     
  13. OklahomaBattleRabbit

    OklahomaBattleRabbit Active Member Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    76
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    "I'm... Amira..."

    It seemed, by the woman's reaction, that she hadn't realized she had made such a verbal slip at the time. Jair's question made her freeze a moment, looking between him and the other two who were more concerned with keeping an eye out for any pursuing cultists than her. She was silent as a moment as she contemplated the food Jair offered her, slowly reaching out to take it before scooting back a bit. "Yes. That's right. I lived underground. Far away from here..." she lied, beginning to remove the wrappings from her face.

    Her hair fell free of the bandages, thick and dark but rather matted and mussed. She moved it aside revealing that her other eye was actually green where the first was blue. In addition, her dark skin--features indicating she had middle eastern heritage--sported patches of lighter skin: vitiligo. Even Jehm, with her red eyes, over seven feet and gun metal grey skin looked on with interest.

    The woman seemed unaware of their attention for a moment as she tasted the food. Upon concluding it was edible and likely not poisoned, she ate like she hadn't eaten in days... which might have been true.

    "Where did you live, exactly?" Jehm asked as the last crumbs of the bar disappeared.

    Amira looked up, put on the spot again. "Far from here... But I won't tell you where. I have to protect them..." She was doubling down on the lie now but her first instinct was to protect the security of her true home, even if forces there had conspired to put her in her current predicament. "It's a secret..."

    "Did they kick you out or something?" Jehm asked. She could tell the Amira was being untruthful. Her heartbeat, while understandably fast from recent events, was indicating a guilty conscience.

    "Yes. I'm alone." She met Jair's eyes again. He seemed more trustworthy and reassuring. "I...am grateful..." All of a sudden she looked around with fright. "But please, can we get further away? They could still find us couldn't they?"
     
  14. Nyctibius

    Nyctibius Militant Owl Admin Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2019
    Messages:
    512
    Likes Received:
    1,067
    Local Time:
    10:56 PM
    Jair kept his eyes on her, studying her skin pattern, her hair, her eyes. To him the lie made perfect sense. Maybe someone with darker skin would develop a more mottled complexion like that if they spent enough time underground. And her response to the cultists, even to the food, it all lined up with someone who had never lived on the surface before. Maybe food underground was entirely different. They'd had a number of tubers and other strange food that grew only under the dirt back in Gladston, and it was easy for him to imagine that such things became even stranger in different places. Deep down he knew that his acceptance might have been more out of desperation to believe good humans still existed somewhere in the world, but he ignored any sort of notion entirely.

    "It's not so unusual for smaller settlements to protect themselves by keeping secret," Jair said reasonably, shrugging at Jehm. "In more dangerous places it's all they have."

    Ash slowly shook their head in response to Amira's question. "Unless those cultist have some really expert trackers, I doubt it. It'll take them hours just to figure out which path is the right one out of all the ones I laid out. We should still make some ground, though. Somewhere with more shelter--and no fire tonight. We'll get by on ration bars and scavenging." The scout shouldered their rifle, slipping the strap over their head to keep it secure across their back. Something about Amira rubbed Ash the wrong way--they couldn't quite put their finger on it, and glanced to Jehm. "Is your settlement across that land bridge we saw? Might do us good to head that way if it is."
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice