[font “Sylfaen” The small girl approached him first. Her face struck a memory, a good memory in a long line of bad ones. A small windowless room with fluorescent lighting as two small children playing make-believe after a session of harsh testing. His arm released their defenses as his features softened after being made of stone for so long. [b “Azure?”] He sounded astonished even though the facts were standing in front of him writing on a notepad. Jake reached out and touched her shoulders to prove that her presence wasn’t a figment of his mind. For the first time in a long time, Jake smiled. [b “Azure!”] He blurted as he pulled the small figure into his form. His arms wrapped around her shoulders and back with a tight squeeze. He had found his family again.]
[font “Sylfaen” Pulling away he quickly examined Azure’s form to make sure she wasn’t injured. [b “You look almost as bad as me. How did you get out? They didn’t hurt you, did they?”] He saw her be scribble something down on her usual notepad, but Jake placed a hand over her pen. [b “Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad to see my little minion again.”] He smiled sincerely at the girl. He addressed her by the nickname he had labeled her with when they were in the facility together. It referred to a joke he and Azure made whenever they were waiting in their adjacent rooms. They both joked about taking over the facility together. Just the two of them imagined scenarios of overseeing the place and plotting plans to take over the world. Jake would call Azure “little minion” and she would call him any number of nicknames like “boss”, “highness” and other silly titles. It was one of the few fond memories Jake had back at that place. Despite the malpractice that went on in that place, it was nice to find a friend.]
[font “Sylfaen” [b “How did you get stuck with these two?”] Jake’s buzzed crown nodded to the weird shape shifter and the quiet girl with glasses. [b “I don’t recognize them form LFS.”] His bright green eyes scanned the blonde one with scrutiny. He lowered his lips to Azure’s ear and whispered, [b “She’s not like us. She’s…she’s normal. Or at least that’s what I got from her. How did she get here?”] The last question was more muttered to himself than aloud.]
[size10 Sorry for the long wait and the short post! Finals and last projects are coming up. School and shit.]
Callisto struggled to keep calm while following these newfound [i [#0ab238 not people.]] [i [#ff8c00 of course they're people.]] [i [#b22d0a creatures. clever creatures here to fool you.]] [i [#210ab2 They will eat you [b alive]]] people.
She thought she had left behind these kind of doubts when she decided to come here, to this dream place. Why were the doubts still with her, why did she still struggle with reality in a place where reality had ceased to be? Wasn't it supposed to be simple here, like she wanted, needed? But Callisto still couldn't be sure, just like before. It grated, made her skin itch. Made the voices angry. [right[i [#b2880a She should kill them]] [i [#570ab2 No! Killing is wrong.]]
[i [#2db20a they aren't people it's only wrong if they're people]]
[i [#b20a1c Kill or be killed, my dears]] [i [#f5ba61 would that be so bad?]]]
She followed quietly, a war waging within herself. Everything would be so much simpler if she didn't [i care]. Why did she care? Maybe these things were people, why couldn't she simply kill them anyway [i [#46f1d4 "It's wrong to hurt people, sweetie, don't you understand that?"]] [i [#f16946 if she could see you know she would cry]] just to be sure?
And yet she didn't. Maybe it was the promise Callisto had made once, maybe it was cowardice. Maybe it was a shameful wish, some vain hope that there was still some shred of humanity still inside her. She didn't want to harm people. Not really. It was inevitable that she would [i [#344e09 its what monsters do]], she could feel it. But maybe there was some point to fighting it. Fighting the monsters.
They came to a gap in the roofs, too big for a normal human to get across. It wasn't a problem for her in this form, she could easily jump across. She doubled back a few meters, got a running start and then leaped across before the others properly reached the ledge. For a moment she considered just leaving them, certain in the knowledge that they couldn't cross. This thought was quickly quenched however, when callisto saw the small girl conjure [i [#43094e she's magic]] a wooden plank from her notebook [i [#027408 she can create anything]] [i [#6f202b maybe she created all of this place?]] to use as a bridge.
One by one they crossed. The warrior boy, the creator girl and the other one. Who was she? Quiet girl. Scared. Callisto could smell the stink of fear coming off her [i [#750cd4 weak like a human]]. Quiet. But not harmless. Nothing harmless came here. The other two had stinks of their own. Warrior boy reeked of fresh meat. Maybe he had been injured in the fight, when Callisto wasn't watching. The girl who had helped her get here, blue eyed creator, she smelled of cheap ink, iron and cotton. There was fear there too, but lighter, more subdued. Maybe it was pragmatism, maybe it was that this girl was more used to horrible things happening to her.
In silence, Callisto kept following, stalking behind the main party to keep an eye on ambushes and to keep an eye on her companions. They reached a building, a bowling alley, and they went inside.
Callisto didn't like going inside [i [#d4c50c trap]], the walls closing in and the air stifling. She ignored it, ignored the itching under her skin and kept quiet. Just like when in the real world. The same survival tactics seemed to apply here and [i she hated that]. Callisto watched, wary, as the boy fed his pet with a piece of meat. She didn't say anything, didn't dare to. The walls were closing in unless she kept quiet. The itching was growing worse too. She ignored it. Kept quiet.
Callisto noticed that she was not the only one in distress. The quiet girl, a hand buried in her hair and vision unfocused, was mumbling to herself in her own separate corner. Callisto turned to her [i [#750cd4 weak like a human]], not sure as to why.
In two steps Callisto warped her form to a bipedal one. Still covered in fur, still with claws and a tail, but now upright and with opposable thumbs. In two steps, Callisto reached the quiet girl and roughly grabbed her arm.
They needed air or the walls would collapse around them. Callisto walked outside, hauling the girl behind her in an iron grip. She released the girl once they had the sky below them again.
"Are you human?" Callisto asked urgently, again not completely sure why. If the girl said no, what would that prove?
Constance had moved towards the other two strangers and watched in disbelief as the second woman appeared to change her form. It was unlike anything that she had ever seen before but she had also just witnessed some kind of plant creature running towards her and it was already clear that this world was unlike anything she had ever seen and experienced in her life time. At least now she was beginning to understand what it was that August had been hiding from the world but she had to admit that this was far from what she had been expecting to discover.
Soon enough, the stranger before them seemed to take a lead in leading them somewhere that he seemed to figure as being safe. It was clear almost instantly that being out in the open as they were now was not a logical move. They quickly made a move and she was grateful that she had kept physically fit and she imagined that might work in her favour while they were seemingly running for their lives. It seemed that the safest way to navigate the streets was via the rooftops of the deserted buildings and when they had reached a certain point Jake turned to the woman who seemed to be unable to speak and asked her to produce something that could help them move across the buildings with haste.
For now, she had to accept that these people clearly had some kind of power beyond her understanding but she didn’t have time to try and wrap her head around that but when they finally arrived in a safe zone she might be able to take a few moments to sit down and really think about whatever it was that was happened to her but right now she needed to concentrate on making her way across the plank. Everyone else had made it across and she was the only one left now and for some reason unknown to her, she felt nervous at the prospect of crossing a plank of wood between two buildings. She was petrified of falling so when she started she decided to take it slowly and she was sure that the fear was obvious and that was confirmed when Jake seemed to reach out and take hold of her waist to help her across. She was significantly slower than the others and Constance was sure that she was slowing them down; something she would certainly apologise for later.
It wasn’t much longer before they seemed to arrive in a place that Jake considered to be his residence here and once they were inside, she seemed to let out a sigh and felt that she was finally able to take some time think. As Jake conversed with the other two, Constance turned away from them, placing her hands on her hips and looking around the place while thinking about the events of the day so far. Never in a million years had she imagined that August was involved with something on this scale. She figured that there would be some kind of experiments taking place but this…this was unexplainable and something that she wouldn’t be able to get to grips with quickly.
August’s face appeared in her mind with that cocky smirk that showed that he was so sure about her disappearance. No one would be able to find her here, that much was sure but she was also unsure that this was the kind of place that she could survive. Her only saving grace was that she was not alone and it seemed that Jake knew what he was doing.
[I “Do you want me to make her disappear too?”] She said the words aloud, but not that loud that it would interrupt any conversations. It was likely that she might look mad talking to herself but that was the least of her worries. She brought a hand to her head and found her breathing start to quicken with the panic that was beginning to take over her mind.
[I “Where the hell am I?”]
The woman seemed to have snapped out of her initial shock. Good, it meant they just needed to worry about the other woman left. If that's what she was. Azura knew she had to be one of the many experiments, no ordinary person could change their form like that. Now that she thought about it, she had tried to escape with someone not too long ago that could change their forms. They had separated when they wanted to go different ways. She wanted freedom. The woman seemed to want revenge. Azura guessed that was how the woman ended up here then.
She glanced back to the woman, seeing the male kneel down and see if she was okay. Now that his hoodie was down, he seemed familiar. Tilting her head a bit, she tried to figure out just why, but nothing came to mind. She would have to ask him later once they were safe. Right now was not the time for questions. Now they needed to make sure the girl was okay and then get away from here. Looking over the male's shoulder, her cheeks suddenly went red and she quickly turned away. She was naked. While Azura probably should've been used to it after being in the labs, she really wasn't.
Once everything was sorted out, the girl transforming herself into an odd creature, they were told to follow. Azura held her book tightly to her chest and pushed herself against the wall as she followed closely behind him. She was already barefoot, so she hardly made a sound to begin with. That, coupled with being mute, she was practically a ninja. They climbed to the top of a building, the man turning to her, asking if she could make something that could help them cross.
She nodded and opened the book to a blank page, quickly writing down what she wanted to appear.
[center [+blue Plank of wood]]
The plank appeared out of thin air, the male catching it and placing it across the two buildings. The group was able to cross safely, moving onto the next building. The rest of the way quiet and careful, arriving at a bowling alley that had seen better days. It was still much safer than being out in the streets, so there was no complaining from her. Instead, a smile and a silent sigh of relief came from her as he welcomed them. For now, they would be safe, and that's all she needed at the moment.
Azura watched as he removed his jacket and bandanna, hoping to get more of an idea as to why he was familiar. Seeing his full face, she blinked a few times, making sure what she saw was real. Even then, she didn't really believe it right away. It had been a few years since she last saw him. She was just about to write when he asked how they got here. Quickly, she wrote down her response, along with a question right after.
[+blue I tried to escape again. You look familiar, is your name Jake?]
Each second felt like hours to her. She hoped she had gotten it right.
[font “Sylfaen” The Stranger briefly observed these unfortunate souls that were trapped here. Two of them, from what he could tell, where mixed-matched science results due to Ludger’s well-funded project. They both seemed familiar to him, but it had been so long, he couldn’t place them. Maybe he was supposed to kill them in the past and failed; now they’ve come to seek revenge on him. Maybe they were cell mates of his once before. It was hard to recall anything before this place. Mostly because he couldn’t stay still long enough to reminisce, even while asleep. The other one was probably the unlucky one that got too nosey. Whatever the reasons were didn’t matter now. They would all die eventually and he would be alone again.]
[font “Sylfaen” Coming back to the dangers at hand, the one that turned into a bird, the fellow [s abomination] specimen morphed into a sphinx like creature, body of an animal with a voice of a woman. His bright green eyes witnessed the anomaly happen before him. It was oddly satisfying and disturbing all at once. A very adaptive one this she was. Perhaps she could survive here better than he. It would also be best if he just completely ignored the fact that she was butt naked there for like three seconds. The adrenaline pumping into his system didn’t have the patience to enjoy the rare chance that was presented and just moved on. He had seen a lot of things in his short life, but this had to be in the top five. Blinking several times as his brain registered the transformation, the stranger turned to the other two girls present.]
[font “Sylfaen” The smallest one seemed the most familiar to him. Something about her face rang a bell in his mind. He must have known her through the years under Ludger’s care. Her name had been forgotten through the time he had been captured here. Perhaps she would be useful still. Her powers were certainly unique. Maybe her name was Amber? Allison? Ashely? No, it was something rarer. Like the name of a color or something. Whatever the case, he didn’t have time to remember it now.]
[font “Sylfaen” Picking up the modified bat, the newest survivors gather together. They were not fighters, not yet. He believed they had the will. [b “Follow me and stay quiet.”] He ordered as he pulled the hood over his buzzed hair. He didn’t wait to see if they were following behind him as his crouched form slunk into the shadows. He would lead the survivors away from the shuffling horde around the corner. The stranger crept along the walls of the alley and pressed his back to it quickly ushering the others to follow in behind him. His piercing green eyes glanced around the corner to witness dozens of monsters poured into the area the group was at moments ago. Moaning armored undead skeletons, rabid humanoid rats, large carnivorous dinosaurs that were hard to pronounce, and packs of werewolves just to name a few creatures that stalked the streets disappointed to have missed the prey. It wouldn’t be long before the scent was tracked. They would need a safe place to hide for now. The stranger motioned for the survivors to continue to follow him. Luckily, the concentrated numbers of beasts cleared a path through the normally heavily guarded open streets and sidewalks.]
[font “Sylfaen” He navigated his way with to a fire escape ladder that led up to the roofs. It would be safer to travel that way rather than chancing the ground. Keeping his head low, the stranger glanced over the edges of the building to track the beasts below. Even though the group was safe from most monsters, there were still some risks with certain creatures. The giant lumbering lizards were always a problem, high or low. The werewolves and rats were agile and good climbers. The plants rarely grew more than four stories high. The biggest trouble was getting across the gaps. Jake could jump far enough, and the weird sphinx would be able to make it. He wasn’t certain about the others. [b “We’ll have to get across a few buildings before we can get the safe zone. We’ll have to move fast before she can find us again.”] He turned to the short one as asked, [b “Can you make something to get us across? I know you can do something like that with that notebook of yours.”] Jake remarked as he gestured towards the notebook the girl held in her hands securely.]
[font “Sylfaen” Seeming to understand his request the blue-eyed girl hunched down to her notebook with her hand feverishly scribbling something. In an instant, a think wooden plank was produced like magic. Jake catch it with her scuffed up hands and laid it gently across the edge of one building to the other. [b “I’ll go first and then everyone follow me one at a time.”] He said with one palm facing outward to halt the others in one place. He had to hurry across to the other building before their position was compromised. Jumping up onto the ledge, the toe of his shoes dangled over a long drop that would instantly kill any soul that fell. The height didn’t seem to faze him as the hooded figure scurried across the plank effortlessly. His form was crouched and his feet expertly placed so though he was held aloft there with an invisible force, guiding him to the other side. His balance almost cat-like as he jumped off the other ledge to the neighboring building. Silently, he motioned for the next person to follow as he held out his hands to help get each person land safely. The plank held firm as one by one the survivors made it to the other side without issue.]
[font “Sylfaen” The last one to go was the blonde woman with glasses. She seemed nervous and timid as any normal person would in this situation. She took a bit longer to make the trek, but he quickly grabbed her by the waist and hoisted her over the ledge before grabbing the plank and sliding in toward him. Now they were fairly safe from more horrors, but not out of the woods yet. He led them all across roofs, back the way he had come to rescue them. It took about five minutes to make it to a dead area before he felt relief. Five minutes that felt like an hour to him. Cautious still, he navigated the group to an empty bowling alley where he had been hiding away for a few days now. He walked briskly down the side of the dusted lanes to the back room where people would supervise the machines that made the lanes work. Sliding back the hood and removing the banana, the stranger turned his head as he pushed open the door. [b “Welcome to my humble abode.”]]
[center [pic http://fotos.fotoflexer.com/e614585a4d17fbb02d8b71cb40eff9e4.jpg]]
[font “Sylfaen” The inside was sparse of any furnishings and personal items, not something one would expect from a long-time survivor of the mind city. There was a mattress on the floor in a darker corner of the rectangle room with a tattered blanket over it for cold nights. There wasn’t a small curtain that separated the bed from the makeshift bathroom and several weapons placed around along the walls and flat surfaces. He had his own collection of protective tools and wooden planks in a pile. Hammer and nails for just in case a horde came through. A stack of canned food items along with water bottles underneath two tables and a large map of the city pinned to a crumbling wall. There were red marks all over it. Some marks were circles, others had X’s. The symbols were scattered throughout the whole map with unknown meaning to the new arrivals. The stranger zipped off the black hoodie and tossed it to the poor excuse for a bed. The red banana unknotted and placed on top. The man was wearing a dirty T-shirt with dark stains that had been there for a long time. Lifting the shirt revealed a bag strapped tight to his abdomen covering over his abs. Opening the bag was a piece of bloody meat that dripped on the stone floor. Whistling a quick pitch as the stranger walked over to the left. A thin curtain showed a terrifying silhouette of a plant creature, similar to what the group had faced earlier. When he pulled the curtain back, it was a smaller version of the monster with one eyeless head that perked up to the stranger’s voice. The light from the sunless sky breached through a broken window so the group could see the carnivorous plant was but a seedling, not even a quarter of the previous plant. The leaves nestled in the bottom of the stalk uncurled to absorb a lot of the light peering through. The head perked up and opened up its jaw to a smile. The sharp teeth, almost wolf like in form and size, showed a big grin as the stranger cooed to it. [b “Hey there Gary. You hungry buddy?”] The stranger approached without fear as he tossed the meat to the plant that happily took the meal. The jaws chomped greedily while the stranger wiped his hands on a dirty towel. [b “Don’t worry about him. He’s tame, for the most part.”] He spoke as he removed the bag from his waist. [b “So, mind telling me how you guys got her and what did you do to piss off the big guy upstairs?”] He said with folded arms. [b “It takes a special person to get trapped in the Mind City and dumped directly in the line of a bunch of monsters like that.”]]
[b [i [#9f0404 Pain.]]]
Consciousness slowly rolled back in, like spilled milk drip-dropping down the table [i [#849009 don't cry]] and splattering onto the floor. And then [b [i [#9f0404 PAIN]]] all at once, reality came crashing in. Callisto's eyes sprang open, but she couldn't see. She heard her own heartbeat, much too heavy for a bird. As sensation returned to Callisto's extremities, she realized she was not a bird anymore, she had reverted back [i [#5b0990 nononono, they can [b see] us!]] to human form while being knocked out. [i [#ff8c00 You can't let them see us!]]
The reason for her blindness was [#1e9009 [i you need to change!]] that her face was planted into the ground. With the front facing eyes of a human, this was less than ideal. With a herculean [i [#a77925 you're [b naked!!]]] effort, Callisto turned her head towards the sound of fighting.
There was a boy. A scruffy boy, Callisto's mother would most certainly not have approved of his tattered clothes or dirty bandana. Callisto saw something else though. This boy moved like he was born to fight things bigger than him. To fight and to win. The boy made short work of the plant, his features glowing green from the dust of his slayed enemy.
[right [#a72564 [i He will kill you.]]] [right [#75a725 [i This was a trap [#25a1a7 how can you be so stupid]]] [right [#3df628 [i He saved us?]]]
[right [#a74e25 [i They're all monsters, people aren't allowed here. [#2574a7 only monsters like us]]]]
[right [b [#cd0455 You're still fucking [i naked!!!]]]]
Snapping out of her own head, Callisto realized the boy was right next to her now. Asking something. Whether she could run. They didn't have any time before more would come. More what? People?
She mentally scrambled for a form, any form. She couldn't be human, she couldn't. Did she need to fight these people, fight the boy? [i [#04cd61 you won't win.]] Talk to them? She didn't want to do either. In the end, she settled for a middle ground. She grew thick red fur over her body, similar in hue to her human form's hair color. Her form became quadrupedal, with four clawed paws firmly on the ground. It hurt to change, she could feel her own body's weakness in places she knew she had suffered damage both old and new.
These areas always resisted change, they were less malleable. Callisto ignored it, tried to do the best with what she had. She left her head humanoid, excepting her eyes. She made them pitch black, like she had done sometimes while still being stuck in the white room. Black eyes scared people. She didn't know if she needed to fight or talk to these people [i [#2574a7 they're monsters. remember the girl. remember the chains?]], but it was better that they were scared of her either way.
She looked into the green, human eyes of the boy.
"I can run," she said.
It seemed that much of what she had uncovered about August and his experiments were mostly accurate but this is not what she had expected when he threatened to make her disappear. Her first thoughts were that he would have her killed, leaving no trace of her existence but this…this was something where explanations wouldn’t be possible. One minute she had been stood in the office of her employer, and the next she had somehow been transported to streets that had seemingly been deserted long ago. If it were not for her disorientation she might have realised sooner that she was not, in fact, alone at all.
Constance hadn’t even had the time to take in the sights of this new world before chaos found her. It was the sound of metal shooting past her that seemed to cause her to become more alert of her surroundings and she scanned the street before her to watch the scene unfold before her. An indescribable beast which features that she likened to a plant seemed to struggle against metal chains that had launched towards it without so much as a warning. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart seemed to quicken with the fear that overcame her and she watched a woman try to wrestle with the creature with the chains that appeared to be attached to some kind of book. Constance closed her eyes for a split second and shook her head in hopes that it would make such a sight disappear but it seemed that it wasn’t a hallucination or a dream because when her eyes opened once more the scene remained the same. She wanted to run but no matter how much she told herself to do so, her legs wouldn’t carry her and soon enough there was another figure seemingly fighting the creature that had almost eaten her alive had the stranger not attacked it first. She made a mental note to thank her if she made it out of this alive.
She looked on in fear, wondering how she would protect herself should the creature redirect its attention back to her but she didn’t have time to think about that before the figure of a man landed directly in front of her. Where did he come from? Her eyes scanned the heights before her, wondering if he had jumped from the roof of a building and if he had, how had he not sustained any injuries from the impact with the ground. His landing was almost cat-like; gracious and without effort. A blade drew from his back as his voice shouted for them to stay back. Constance had no intention of disobeying and as he fought with the creature she found herself hyperventilating with the fear of the unknown. Before long, the stranger seemed to have dealt with the creature who had almost claimed her life and his voice shot straight through her, telling the newly formed crowd to follow him.
It went against every instinct that she had been taught in the world but this place was not the real world and she had a feeling that the instincts she had relied upon there would not help her here. Whatever that creature was, she knew there would be more and she knew that she was not capable of protecting herself against them and right now, these people had become the only protection she could rely on. The hooded man had made his way to the woman had been thrown into the building and she found herself steading her breath so that she would be able to function in a way that would allow her to stay alive while they journeyed to whatever destination awaited them. It was then that she noticed movement in peripheral vision and she shifted slightly to take in the sight of the woman who had the creature in chains moments before.
She wanted to thank her but for now, the words would not form. It was mostly from the shock and the fact that these people did not seem as unfamiliar with such creatures and they didn’t seem afraid. How was it even possible to be in a place like this where unknown danger roamed the streets without so much as indication of fear? The woman before her seemed to write something in her book and she wondered whether it was because she couldn’t speak or she simply preferred to communicate in such a way. Constance simply nodded in response, knowing that they couldn’t stand around in the open all day. She looked around once more, trying to spot any kind of movement that seemed out of place but for the moment it seemed clear and she made her way towards the rest of the group to offer them whatever help they might need.
[b “What can I do to help?”] She asked, finally able to form words but her voice sounded frightened and weak. That was something that she often tried to hide, and she had done so well in doing so when she stood before August being threatened with a fate she couldn’t have understood then but this was different. It was something that one had to be accustomed to, to be unafraid and that seemed to take a toll on her. How long had these people endured such a world?
Something saved her. What felt like claws suddenly gripped her arm and she was thrown away from the plant. She rolled a bit before coming to a stop, face down into the road. It was a good thing there were no cars here, but that didn't mean she was out of danger. She heard a crashing sound as the one who rescued her made impact with a wall.
As she finally got herself up, she saw a figure almost fly in to save them. He yelled for them to stay back, which she didn't need to hear twice. The girl stayed out of the way as the hooded man pulled a blade out to fight against the man-eating plant. The fight was over before it even began, the man quickly killing the thing in a few swipes. She was amazed by this, her eyes wide as she tried to process what had just happened.
She wasn't given long, the male saying they needed to get out of the area before more came. Azura quickly stood now, rushing to his side to follow. She stopped halfway though, realizing she was missing something very important. Looking around frantically, she spotted her book near where the plant was a few minutes ago. Her panic eased a bit, picking it up and holding it tightly against her chest. She couldn't lose this. It was the only way she could survive here.
Scolding herself to be more careful about it, Azura rushed back to the others, waiting to see if the one who saved her was alright. Since she was being taken care of, Azura turned to the woman she originally ran up to save. Quickly, the girl wrote in her book and then held it up for the woman to read.
[+blue Are you alright? We should help if we can so we can all get out of here.] Azura then waited for a response of some kind from someone. She wanted to get back to safety, and she figured the others would want that too. How much time did they have? She wasn't sure she wanted to know.
She kept a close watch on their surroundings, just in case something tried to sneak up on them. Taking a quick glance a few times to see how the woman was recovering and if she was able to run with them. Something about the male was familiar to her. She wasn't sure what, but now wasn't the time to ask questions. They needed to get somewhere safe and then they could talk. Azura kept her book open and her pen ready, just in case they needed to make a get away. What kind of thing could she create that could help them? She had to have seen it before, and it couldn't be too big, otherwise she would become a liability to them. She had to think carefully, not not wonder off in her thoughts. They would be alright, she had a feeling they would. This guy seemed like he had been here for a while, so he must know how this place works.
[+blue [i 'We need to get going now...']]
[font “Sylfaen” Pounding steps echoed across the rooftops as dirty, worn out sneakers patted on the pseudo-concrete surface. He heard the commotion from a mile away; someone was here. There had been many bright flashes in the central square of the city today. That could mean only one thing: there were new residences in hell today. A figure leaped across a wide gap from one building to the next, ending with a tucked roll. The figure covered his face with a dirty bandana with blood stains spat on the cloth. The color might have been red at one point, or maybe blue, but it was covered in old sweat and dirt. The black hoodie worn by the figure was covered in white bits of dry wall, mud, some blood stains from the wearer, holes and slash marks. The shield that the hood provided was thrown off by the rushing wind as the character vaulted over AC units and piles of debris. The garment used to belong to a poor sap that walked down the wrong alleyway and was ripped in half by one of the many unsightly creatures that dominated the streets here. His death made for another's fortune. It was warm and cozy once, but now, it reeked of sweat and body odor. Needless to say, there aren’t any available showers or washrooms in hell.]
[font “Sylfaen” Bruised hands clutched around a wooden bat that came equipped with “upgrades”. Nails and barbed wire were hammered in at the top. It didn’t have blood caked onto it despite it’s obvious signs of use. The handle was smoothed out from sweaty hands and the nails were jagged from being repeatedly bent back in place. Surviving out in the city was dangerous and one needed tools thrive in a place like this. A sword and sheathe were draped across the stranger’s chest for emergencies only. A bat was easy to replace, a sword was not; a sword in good condition was a rarity at least.]
[font “Sylfaen” He had to move faster, jump farther, breath harder, if he wanted to get to whomever had come through the portal in time. Every second meant either saving another victim or losing one. Dark brown eyes darted all around the streets trying to find out where the commotion was coming from. The normally docile beasts that lurked were perked up to the new presence of presences. [i Shit.] He hissed in his thoughts as his body lurched to the picked-up pace.]
[font “Sylfaen” Hoofing his way closer to where he knew these people would be, the stranger glanced over the edge of the five-story building to see new comers [s fighting] struggling against a single-headed man-eating plant. Luckily for them, it didn’t have any eyes. [i Good. There’s still hope for these poor souls.] He thought as he swung his legs over the side of the building and began to scale down it silently. There was no time to waste, others were coming because these new guys made too much noise. In a few minutes, they would all be screwed. There were three people, from what he could tell briefly observing them, and two of them seemed to have powers too. The smaller girl looked vaguely familiar, but he didn’t have time to think about that. The other woman could transform without effort into animals. It seemed useful to him and he had kept an eye on her for a while. There was no need for him to intervene, and he had no idea if she was trustworthy or not. The smaller girl had been in hiding and almost impossible to track. That’s probably why they both survived for the short period of time they’ve been here.]
[font “Sylfaen” The blonde one was a complete mystery. He had not foreseen her arrival like all the other victims before her. She was young and pretty and completely…innocent. He couldn’t detect any powers from her like the others. She was a normal human with a curious mind, or at least he assumed that’s why she was here. This one didn’t seem to be capable of protecting herself since the plant thing practically swallowed her whole almost if it weren’t for the other two that stepped in. He huffed to himself before continuing down the building’s side. Reaching about several meters over the ground floor, the stranger leaped off the building and landed gracefully on his feet. No bones cracked, no pain came. A perfect landing with no sign of the action save for the small gust of dust away from him. The hood laid back to reveal dark brown hair thick from an old buzzed cut. One scar ran vertically across his crown. Another scar divided his right eyebrow in half permanently. Cruel green eyes never strayed from the beast in the alley.]
[font “Sylfaen” [b “Stay back!”] He shouted to the victims near him as he slowly drew the sword holstered at his back. It was a Hanwei Practical Single Hand sword with slightly dulled edges. The weapon was very unimpressive, but it was certainly cut its foes with provoked. The stranger did not hold it like an expert, but he was no fool. Whipping it around, testing the weight, the stranger started toward the plant. The slapping jowls dripped with saliva imitation as the head searched the air for its next prey. The hooded figure lunged forward in a seemingly blurred motion as it flashed straightforward and then jumped in the air, sword held above his head. The green eyes stared crazed and blood-thirsty with the bandana covering the grin underneath. One flourish and the beast’s head was sliced in half with incredible force. Another quick motion and the sword cut through the base of the plant. Whirling around 360, the sword cut again at the base to sever the plant from its roots, killing the damned thing. The jowls ceased its movement toward the stranger’s body as the rest of it fell over lifeless.]
[font “Sylfaen” However, the monstrous vegetation did not remain a corpse for long as the body dissolved into green particles that lifted towards the sky. [i Now she knows where I am. It’s only a matter of time.] The stranger thought as he turned to the new arrivals with a stern expression. [b “I suggest you come with me if you don’t want to get eaten alive. More creatures are coming.”] The bandana moved to the time of the jaw that spoke from the stranger. His tan skin had blood stains and cuts all over the exposed parts. He looked more than a little worse for wear, but extremely capable. Trust would remain up to those that wanted to live more than those that wanted immediate answers. Sword re-sheathed, the stranger darted over to the one that was knocked into the building. [b “Can you run?”] he asked quickly now with sincere concern in his emerald eyes. [b “We don’t have much time before more come.”]
Callisto hit the ground with a wet thud, pinned between the hooves of a hunkering, twisted wildebeest. Its milky eyes stared down at Callisto, currently in the form of a glaringly orange cheetah, with a disturbingly flat face and eyes seemingly too big for its head.
[i [right [#dc143c nonono, we need to run away, away, they will hurt us we could die..]
[#00008b We should just kill it, then we'll be safe!]
[#ff8c00 why are we even here?]
Callisto tried to growl, but she hadn't really managed to get the vocal chords right and she almost choked. The wildebeest grunted, its breath foul and rotten. Its teeth weren't like a normal wildebeest, Callisto noticed. It had bloodied canines lining the entire jaw, and then one more layer inside that.
She needed to be bigger. She wasn't going to die here. With a hoarse screech, Callisto turned her lithe body [i [#2e8b57 no what are you doing you're hurting it, stop!]] and clawed deep gouges alongside one of the wildebeest's front hooves. It shrieked at the unexpected pain and Callisto scrambled away. She ran. In her cheetah form, she ran faster than she'd ever run in her life and it was [i exhilerating]. She almost forgot why she ran in the first place, but then she heard the pounding of hooves behind her.
[right [i [#00008b You're going to die, you idiot!]]] She sped up, feeling a twinge in her right hipbone where she'd landed after the wildebeest had slammed into her. [i [#800000 it's okay. You can't get hurt in this place. It's not real.]] Infront of her was a wide space, a roundabout for cars, but without any cars. It was like a fighting ring. Callisto slowed down and turned. [right [i [#8a2be2 Yesyesyes, kill it [b Kill it!]]]
[#00ff7f You can't kill it, it's not real.]
] The wildebeest, maybe 50 meters behind, was barrelling towards Callisto, but it was limping now. It was angry, because of the pain. Callisto tried to smile, but a big cat's muscles don't work that way. As she stared at her enemy, she let herself grow. She didn't think too much about how she changed, just that she needed to be [i bigger]. The skin of the cheetah ruptured and new muscles sprang forth, too fast for skin to settle on it.
Her hind legs bent and cracked, giving her legs that could lift her upper body from the ground. Her front legs grew thick and the skin of the former cheetah fell off in patches. Her claws elongated. Her fangs grew too big for her mouth, progressing down her jaw.
The wildebeest slowed down as it came closer, now that Callisto was towering over it. Still it did not show fear, like an ordinary animal would. It simply slowed down and turned, started stalking round Callisto, much like a predator would. Very unlike the wildebeest's Callisto had seen on TV. [right [i [#cd853f See, it's not real. None of this is real.]]] She followed the creature with her eyes, stretching her newly made clawed hands. They were tingling, itching, as if they didn't have enough blood in them. Callisto growled and this time she had gotten the vocal chords right. A deep guttural sound, that seemed to reverberate between the grey buildings around them.
The wildebeest seemed to take this as a cue, it charged towards Callisto with unnatural speed. Callisto hunkered down, just like the wildebeest had done to her. As they made contact, she grabbed the horns of the creature and, using its own momentum, flung it around her and lifted it off the ground. She let go and the wildebeest was sent flying into a nearby building. A sharp pain in Callisto's right arm made her gasp. When she tried to move it, it hurt even worse. She had dislocated it during her throw. She barely spared it any thought, however. When the dust settled, the wildebeest was gone.
A throaty laugh sprang forth from Callisto's jaws, hindered by her enormous front teeth and underdeveloped tongue. She kept laughing anyway.
She kept to the shadows, stalking around in the form of a rat, a lizard, a cat, a wolf. Sometimes, a plant. She studied the creatures of the Mind Palace. Callisto mimicked their patterns and their forms. Sometimes she could trick them and she would spend time just walking with them, or sitting beside them. Sometimes she couldn't, and then she had to run, or hide, or fight, or kill.
It was fun, a game. But dangerous too. Her right arm still hurt, even if she could move it now.
[i [right [#ffa500 Mom asked once, if we thought of 'this' as a game.
[#ff0000 What did she mean?]
[#4169e1 You made her cry.] [#32cd32 She was always crying.]]
[right [#800000 only when you were around.]]]]
She liked it here. Now, when she saw monsters in the shadows, there were actual monsters there. She could fight them. Not like before, when no one else could see and no one would [i listen] and she wasn't allowed to kill them. Things made sense now.
The Mind Palace abounded with creatures, but Callisto hadn't yet seen any human creatures. Which was fine. Until she [i did] find human creatures.
Perching as an overgrown raven on a flagpole, Callisto looked down at a scene featuring two human girls [i [#87cefa They're creatures, they're trying to trick you!]]. One, she recognized. That girl had helped her get here. The other one was unknown, Callisto hadn't seen her before. [i [right [#32cd32 a trick!!]]]
Callisto saw the lumbering plant prowling towards the unknown girl. Apparently, the other one saw it too, except she acted on it. She summoned chains to bind the plant, with limited success. Callisto took flight [i [#4b0082 she helped you]] as she saw the young girl get thrown into the air. She swooped down [i [#f4a460 traptraptrap, they'll eat you, stupid!]] and grabbed the girl's left arm with her sharp talons.
Callisto whipped around, throwing the girl to the ground instead of into the maw of the plant. In doing so, however, she left herself vulnerable and was in turn knocked into a nearby wall by one of the giant plant's vines. The impact made her vision blurry [i [#008080 its okay, it's not real]] and all strength left her.
She sat in the corner of the small room. It was bright, white being the only color on the walls and floor. The only color came off of her pale skin and dark black hair. She was huddled up in the corner, trying to become small, as if she could disappear if she tried hard enough. If only she could. Then she wouldn't have to go through whatever it was that waited for her beyond the door. What would be her punishment this time? More experiments? Isolation again? Whatever it was, it wouldn't turn her away from her goal. She would get out of here one day.
At least, that's what she thought...
The girl in a white dress and bright blue eyes watched from her hiding spot. And alleyway that could only fit her, and even that was a bit of a tight squeeze. It was the first hiding place she found and where she had been for about an hour or so now. This place wasn't somewhere she wanted to be. To her, it was worse than the labs. At least in the labs she had a chance to escape. Here, she was dead. And all because of that little girl. She was in that girl's world now, and here was where people disappeared forever. Anyone that had been sent here were never seen again. No one could escape. She knew that. So what would she do?
The only name she remembered was Azura. She didn't know if that was her true name or not, but it was what most of the scientists called her, if they called her anything. She was one of the many orphans taken from the orphanage to be experimented on. Most would probably die in the process, but she was one of the lucky ones, according to some scientists. She didn't feel so lucky really.
Azura didn't want to stay in the labs her whole life, so she had made the choice early on to get out. It wasn't easy, and with as many attempts she made, she had yet to succeed. Seemed they were tired of her escapes and decided to be done with her all together. They wouldn't just kill her though, that would leave a body for them to get rid of and to possibly be found. Besides, why do the dirty work when something else could.
The last she remembered was seeing the little girl walk into the white room, a sort of smile on her face. It wasn't a cheerful smile. Not the kind you give when seeing a friend again. It was more sadistic, happy to be causing someone a kind of pain. Azura tried to stop her, but she couldn't write fast enough. She couldn't even get a letter complete before the brightly light blinded her and she suddenly found herself here.
This city was empty, as far as she could tell just from the looks. She knew better though. There were things here that were going to try to kill her. She wouldn't be sent here just to live out her life. No, the Doctor wasn't that kind. Thinking he might be was the stupidest thing anyone could ever think of. So she had to be careful, thus the reason she was hidden away. But she couldn't stay here.
Slowly, she pulled her way out of the alleyway, looking around carefully. So far everything seemed clear. She needed to find a new hiding spot before she was found by something that wanted to kill her. Was there a difference between night and day here? If so, then going by common sense, she needed to get somewhere to bunker down before night came. It would only get worse in the dark. She could see a little better in the dark than most people, but not much. She wasn't a cat after all. So it was better to be safe than sorry.
As she walked down the empty sidewalk, she opened her book to a blank page and started to write. She was a fast writer, needing to be in order to use her gift.
Within seconds, a bird flew off the page, landing on her shoulder. It looked like any other robin, red chest and all. But it wasn't. It had been created by her. All she had to do was write it down, and it was done. It wasn't that easy though. There were many things she couldn't create because of a few factors. They were too big. Too complex. Or she had never seen it before. She also had to be careful to conserve energy. Depending on the factors, it could suck up all her energy and leave her exhausted. That was the last thing she needed to happen here.
[+blue [i 'Shelter everywhere.']] She thought to herself. [+blue [i 'But where is there safety?']]
Something was ahead of her. A woman. She looked distressed, looking around for something. Perhaps she had just arrived? The woman was out in the open though, there was no way she would last long. Especially with that giant plant coming towards her...
Azura's eyes widen and she quickly jumped into action. If she could, she would've shouted out to the woman to run. Her hand flew across her book as she ran towards the woman. Waving her hand across the book, the letters lilt up and turned into chains that flew past the woman and around the plant. She held her book tightly, trying to pull the chains and the creature back away from the woman. Of course, being as small as she was, she wasn't that strong. The plant made a big tug and Azura was sent into the air, dropping her book and pen. As she flew, she could see the plant's mouth open to show sharp teeth and a long tongue. Was this it already? She couldn't see her fate come at her like this, shutting her eyes tightly as she braced herself for the end.
The sound of fists coming down swiftly upon a desk echoed in the room as a young woman began to vent her frustrations at an object that would not be able to protest. Ragged breaths born from annoyance began to fill the silence that followed. Once upon a time, such exasperation would have existed due to the pressures of assignments set by those who wished to educate her but lately, the woman’s annoyance originated from a rather new quest; an obsession to expose a truth that could bring down a man and everything he stood for. All she needed was proof but it was hard collect. Securing an internship within the very same building as the man she wished to expose was done so with the intention of gathering evidence to support suspicions that she had before.
Her desire for investigative journalism was a passion that seemed to follow her wherever she went and even though her major was mostly within the sciences, there was nothing that she loved more than uncovering truths once concealed by deception. Perhaps her desire to bring this man down was also in line with her deep rooted morals and beliefs that the sciences should be respected and that humans were meant to discover rather than to become testing subjects.
The young woman in question was Constance James. Such a pretty young woman who could have gone far in life had she kept her nose out of business that was not hers yet she couldn’t help herself. There had always been something off about Dr August Ludger and the more she delved into his matters, the more she came to despise the man. He could have been a respectable man if he used his intelligence and influence for other things. When August started off this organization he had done so with the intention of fulfilling his legacy of his family who all seemed to make a significant contribution to the field that they once dominated. He could have done so much but frustrations and lack of the necessary results poisoned his brilliant mind. Constance picked up a picture of the Dr shaking the hand of someone who was recognising his contributions to the medical field and she found her head shaking with disappointment.
Perhaps it was the money that changed him. The large donations of money that he seemed to receive anonymously were only the beginning of the secrets that seemed to surround the man and his company. It appeared that studying the brain was a lot more lucrative than the stem cell research that he had once thrown himself into. The timing of everything was a frustration. The picture now found its way back to the desk as the woman’s fingers ran over the pieces of paper that littered the once visible desk. Her fingers stopped as her eyes scanned the paper before her. The history of the company was suspicious and she couldn’t believe that it was something that had gone unquestioned for so long. The deposits and the dates were linked and she read the numbers in her head, looking at the several large anonymous donations that had been sent to the facility right as began to go south. Just as the money began to flow, suddenly the stem cell research he had been conducting seemed to become unimportant.
The newspaper headlines next to it read [b Suffering orphanages saved?]. The article outlined the large amounts of money that several orphanages had received. It preached of how they were saved and how they were finally able to give the children that resided upon their grounds a better place to live. Constance knew better than that and even though she couldn’t prove it, she was sure that those missing from the orphanages were not really [I missing] at all. Perhaps sold or even taken from their homes but that couldn’t have been a coincidence. The police didn’t even try to look for them after a couple of weeks, ruling it as children simply running away and not wanting to be found. [I I bet they wanted nothing more than to be found. Their fate was far worse than simply running always from a life they had always known.]
If it wasn’t for the money trail perhaps Constance would never have noticed and even though August had gone to great lengths to conceal it from the public, it was all too easy to find information while working under his roof. The blueprints were readily available to those who had access to their computer system and as she spent days looking over them she couldn’t help but notice that there were parts of the building that were not on the original blueprints; parts of the building that seemed to be classified and blocked off from those who didn’t seem to have the necessary clearance.
Constance rose from where she stood and pulled all of the papers into a pile and shoved them into her bag and made her way towards the door to spend yet another day in a building that she had come to hate. She should have been scared for her life; she should have expected what was to come later that day but no amount of fear could overshadow her anger.
The last thing she could remember was the blinding light. Disorientation and breathlessness were all that she could feel in that moment. Long gone was the world she had known. Her female form moved through the deserted streets, showing nothing but the canvas of chaos that this decaying world had to offer. While she had refused to show fear when she stood before August, here she couldn’t hide it. Fear of the unknown; fear for her life. Here she was alone with no way of knowing where she was or even how she would make it home. Would she even make it home?
Her body shivered even though the cold hadn’t presented itself. Her eyes darted around, drinking in her surroundings that barely resembled another of the world that she had left behind. Images of the young girl seeped into her mind and her words echoed.
[I “Do you want me to make her disappear too?”]
[font “Sylfaen” “Dr. August F. Ludger” the small gold letters read on the name plaque nestle atop the grand mahogany desk. Underneath the dark brown platforms laid hardwood floors that reflected like a floor made of mirrors. The charcoal leather lounge chairs and couch were placed surrounding a light green rug. The glass coffee table held the latest science magazines and medical journals, just for decoration of course. The decorations on the walls were pretty but meaningless. The wall to the left of the desk was solely giant windows that brightened up the office space. The office door faced the desk and the huge wooden entertainment center with a flat screen in the center. The ceiling was a smooth white while the walls were a bright gray color. Everything a founder needed to represent the head of a science research organization was placed in this room of importance. The man at the desk stuck out the most from this room.]
[font “Sylfaen” Dr. Ludger was an older man with gray strands of hair neatly combed around his ears. His dark brown, almost black, hair was smoothed over and tame. The man looked like he walked out of the 1930’s mafia and was brought into a present-day corporation setting. His dark eyes were cold and intimidating. August Ludger looked well-groomed in his suit and black tie. He certainly took on the appearance of the rest of his ancestor: well dressed and finely established. It took many years, but he was settled where he needed to be, the founding head of Ludger Foundation of Science.]
[font “Sylfaen” The forty-eight-year-old man eloquently filled out meaningless paperwork as some shuffling came to his right. In the furthest corner from the door was a small play area where a small girl laid on her stomach on a silky blanket, scribbling away with crayons and notepad. Only the finest materials were given to her with her Sunday off-white dress and sandals. Her hair about as dark as Dr. Ludger’s but with speckles of light brown decorated in a bun. A simple red hair band was place on her crown to separate the long lock from her trimmed bangs. Her olive colored skin used to be more golden, but has taken a paler hue. Track marks were hidden insider the crook of her arms and surgical marks obscured by her a blue star pinned to her head. This was Zoe Ludger, August’s adopted daughter as well as his secret weapon.]
[font “Sylfaen” A knock at the door didn’t even break Dr. Ludger’s concentration as he permitted entrance. The two guards that were assigned to protect Dr. Ludger held open the door to a young woman as she tentatively walked through the threshold. Constance James was an intern for LFS, young and beautiful; Ludger had a feeling that she would ask too many questions. His guards caught her snooping around in the file room last night. She was close to discovering something she shouldn’t, and that would be the end of Dr. August Ludger. However, she couldn’t be fired, or driven off the premises forever. No, she would be the one to blab to the press and send a a federal investigation on his business. He had already gotten rid of enough officials that he needed to keep his hands clean for a while. This, girl, would ruin him. Therefore, she had to be [i sent away]. Dr. Ludger looked up from his papers with a contented frown on his face. “Ah, Miss James, please come in.” He motioned for her to approach his desk as he stacked his papers neatly in front of him. Couldn’t have her reading his documents, now could he?]
[font “Sylfaen” She seemed more than flustered, which was understandable. As far as August could tell, she knew that things went missing around him and she must have been thinking that she was next. He would give her credit, though. She had the guts to come back to work the next day. That, he could admire. A determined little minx, wasn’t she? “Miss James, I assume you know why you’ve been called to my office.” He paused to allow her a response before continuing. “We accepted you into our fold and grant you access to our devices, and yet you commit a crime under my roof?” He sounded like his father whenever he caught August’s hands in the cookie jar. Miss James had her hands caught in a much larger jar.]
[font “Sylfaen” [#0000ff "The only crimes being committed here are the ones that you are carrying out."] Miss James argued. She stood more defensive than frightened.]
[font “Sylfaen” “Breaking and Entering is also a crime, Miss James.” His voice getting louder as he spoke. Funny, she didn’t seem as frightened anymore. He would have to change that. Dark eyes drifted to the guards that entered the room and stood at attention in front of the doorway. “Zoe, dear, could you come over here for a moment?” He asked with a surprisingly calm tone. The little girl looked up from her drawings almost robotically. She stood on her sandal feet and went over to Dr. Ludger with her eyes a cold, reserved brown.]
[font “Sylfaen” Miss James looked confused but not scared. Her eyes contemplate the information it gathered. Her eyebrows creased as she logically thought things through. The disappearances, the money being moved. It all had to do with Ludger and the arrival of his “daughter”. The pieces were finally pulled together to paint a picture.]
[font “Sylfaen” “Yes papa?” She asked in a cheerfully as she looked up at him and then glanced over toward the girl with blonde hair. Zoe frowned at her and then looked back at Dr. Ludger. “Do you want me to make her disappear too?” Zoe asked expectantly.]
[font “Sylfaen” [#0000ff "You can make me disappear but you will be in ruins one day! That I can guarantee!”] Miss James growled.]
[font “Sylfaen” Zoe turned to the blonde woman and scowled. “You’re really annoying! Don’t talk to papa like that!” Dr. Ludger placed his hands on Zoe’s shoulder to calm her down. The action made the little girl flinched slightly.]
[font “Sylfaen” [#0000ff “You can't keep making people disappear and expect that no one would care. Someone will notice I'm gone."]]
[font “Sylfaen” “No,” August stated as he allowed a smirk to form on his face, “no they won’t.” His voice was the last thing Constance heard before a bright flash blinded her and she vanished in thin air.]
[font “Sylfaen” Breathing a bit easier now, August nodded toward to men at the door. They were released from their posts and exited the room. With just him and Zoe now, he lowered himself to be more level with Zoe. “Now, tell me. Have you found you our special friend yet?” He asked with his hands on both of Zoe’s arms. She frowned with guilt as she lowered her eyes to the floor. August took in a deep breath a bit disappointed and frustrated. “That’s okay, Zoe. You’ll find him. He’ll have to come out of hiding eventually.” August spoke through gritted teeth. [i One of these days, Jacob, you will get caught. You will suffer for what you have done.] August thought.]
[right [pic http://fotos.fotoflexer.com/d5fe7cd573af65ae50798e391a6e19d8.jpg]]
[size10 This post was made with permission of d1gn17y]
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