Sinful, Deadly, Dangerous: For My People

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Hydronine, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. If someone had told me back when I twenty, that I'd become what I am today... I don't think I'd believe it.

    But, the truth laid before me, in every person's eyes, in the bleakness of the landscape. I don't know what drove me to take charge.... at the age of 24, with no real life experience beyond mistakes in college and some hours of work in the later years of high school, it seems unbelievable that anyone would follow my direction.

    And it's true that I'm afraid of more fights, of loosing more of my people, of dying- surviving a nuclear disaster did not give me an ego, believe me. The less these people know about me, the better. To some, I'm hope. I can't fathom why, but I feel obligated to uphold that. I've become their Mother, and they've become my family.

    Still, I'm guarded and tense. I never show much of my face, especially when meeting with other groups; I drink small amounts of poison in my drinks, to get a tolerance to them; I worry and pour over my plans and what might happen while I sleep at night- which might be a cause for the insomnia that affects me from time to time; In my nightmares, its Father's face I see, his cold and unrelenting demands for my faction to join his have not been ignored. It is not that he is cruel towards me, but its the way he works which lets me know his views. We are at a bit of an impasse at the moment- he refuses to aid my people, or lend a hand in any situation. Not that I had asked, or thought to- though when he had announced that- I had repeatedly questioned his actions, only met with a tired and cold gaze, the answer was already there, in plain sight. He wanted me to concede.

    I'm just twenty-four years old, and yet... I'm one of three rulers in a dystopia of what used to be the United States...

    I'm advised by a council- Father is as well, something to help keep the peace- which is made up some that are older than me, and some closer to my age. I try to heed their ideas and implement their suggestions.

    I've worried since I made this faction, and found that there was another... I've worried about my people under Father's command. So far, it's an uneasy alliance... perhaps it can not even be called that. He sometimes gives off the air of a father ignoring a petulant child- he's waiting for me to relent. Always waiting. I know I can't compare to his style of leadership, and perhaps I am not seen as a worthwhile leader in his eyes- but I care about my people. My home is an incomplete structure of a giant house, in which all my people cram into. It's a little more than cozy, but each day, a little more is built, and more space is gained. I go, every day, to a certain wing of this house, where people can come to me and talk, ask for help, or give ideas.


    There's a meeting with Father today and both of our councils sit-in on these discussions, so they are not far away from us if we should need guidance or advice. I dread these meetings, but I have something to bring to the table, that I know he wants... and perhaps I could put it out there, once more, that there is nothing wrong with being two separate groups.

    I have fuel. He needs that- perhaps that will soften his actions and words today.

    But, that is later today. The sun is rising and the mass is starting to wake as I take from the store of grain alcohol, and, out of my sleeve comes a tightly-capped small vial of black liquid. I drip only two drops into the drink- only moved up to two recently- and took a sip. The poison added a nutty and acrid taste, though it was only a hint. Deciding that the concoction was well enough, I added a dash of juice, which had been freshly made- thanks to the gardens. This made the drink a little easier to stomach, though I couldn't set my mind at ease.

    Among my agenda today, there needs to be a moment to talk to my council before that meeting with the Father- always good with advice, I go to them before every meeting, needing their ideas. Perhaps I depend on them too much. There's also the fact that I need to have a group go out and explore the lands again- search for more fuel, and salvageable parts of machinery, perhaps also more materials for my housing. Also, perhaps searching for more survivors- there haven't been any found lately, most have already chosen their sides, but it never hurts to check everything, just in case.

    There won't be any time to meet with my people personally today- I'll stay a little longer for tomorrow, perhaps to make up for it.

    I take another sip, and wince at the aftertaste, then rummage around for food- grabbing a small bun that had been made the night before. I walk out of the house, into the soft colors of the rising sun- lighting up this trashed and grey world. I wonder if the Father was looking into this same view....

    I nibbled a bit at the bun while going back inside, back to my wing, and getting dressed- a light blue shawl was what I thought would be nice for today, so shrouded my face in it; a white dress with some patches of blue that went down to my ankles, and donned some sandals. It wasn't that I was modest, as much as it was, wanting to remain unknown beyond being "Mother". I didn't want it to be evident that I was twenty-four to those who weren't my family.

    I finished off the outfit by fitting a silver circlet on my head, the band tightly held to the fabric of the shawl- hanging above my brows, from the circlet was a namaste symbol- something I had seen in college and learned about. 'I bow to you' was one of the loosely translated meanings, and the etymology of the phrase had seemed peaceful to her. Perhaps that peace would influence that meeting...

    Fully dressed and sating myself on food and drink, I felt ready for the day.

  2. Where others see dystopia, I see opportunity. Man is a stubborn beast, he survives and endures what should make him despair and die. But I se him doing far more than that. I see hims rising from the ashes and becoming greater than he ever was before. I am Father and My people are these men. United we rise up and rebuild, out city stands more than empty shells and blasted streets. He rebuilt it, fortified it. It shines in the light with electrick lights. Her factories belch smoke and produce the only city that can make such a claim.

    We have the will, we have the men we have the machines.

    I am Father, I was there when the bomb fell and I saw the fireball as it burned out the sky. I was there when the world died. I was meant to make it live again.

    There are many of us, and more every day. People hear of the city that glows, of a city like before the fall and they come to see it for themselves. We are hundreds with several smaller towns farming and giving us what we need. I welcome the travelers as my children, and they soon call me Father.

    But without fuel out machines wind down, our factories die. Without fuel our trucks stand by the side of the road their goods undelivered. It as before the fall is our lifeblood. Our livelihood and vision dependent on it.

    There is another group, the strongest close to us, they have what we need. Today I will meet with their Mother.

    The morning began with a message, the sharp rap on the door causing him to untangle himself with the still, naked body next to him. Rising and making his was through the beams of light penetrating the shades he found his pants and pulled them on before looking over his shoulder as the woman who now lay half uncovered in the silk bedsheets.

    "Won't be a minute." he promised her and pulled the door open slipping outside and facing the messenger.

    "Father!" the man said saluting, he was dusty and smelled foul and it was obvious he had driven his bike though the night to deliver the slip of paper clamped between his fingers. There was no reason to be weary, security would have verified his identity and relieved him of his weapons. Father promised safety.

    "My son." he said warmly taking the paper and clapping the messenger on the shoulder. "Have yourself a shower and warm meal, we may be here a little while but we've all the comforts of home."

    The messenger nodded gratefully and left as Father unfolded the paper sitting down. It was only a few lines but his face lit up and he closed his hand into a fist triumphantly. "Yes!"

    The dam was theirs, there had been a few bandits living in it but there had been no losses. Soon clean, free hydro-electric power would be flowing to his settlements.

    "Right, time to tell Mother the good news..." it was been an installation on both their border, and he knew she had wanted it too. Not it, it's rover crossing, and it's power was his.

  3. Once upon a time here sheets had been cotton. She was never fond of having to launder them, but there was something enjoyable about hanging them out to dry on a sunny day. The everyday struggles could be forgotten as they flapped in the breeze and small children ran between them in some elaborate game.

    Once upon a time she awoke the same way, next to her husband, and it was she that rose early so that she could make breakfast. If she could start the day with such peace and ensure that her family had a good nourishing meal then she knew that all the days problems could be conquered.

    One upon a time a nightmare enveloped them all.

    On the edge of consciousness Constance heard a rapping on the door. It was no longer an unfamiliar thing, though at times she felt like it only happened to her. It was indeed the knocking that reminded her that her husband had slept with her tonight. As he got up she turned to watch him, her fingers playing with the silk sheets absently.

    When the door clicked she sighed, there would be no early morning conversation in bed. There was things she still needed to do, she was still a mother after all though her children would not be up for some time yet. Getting up herself, Constance placed a robe on and looked out the window. Sunrise, a new day, and a new hope that the world was slowly getting better. She had to believe that after all.

    Another sigh and she walked away from the window and went to the vanity to brush her hair. He may still wish to talk before he tackled the day, and even if he didn't she hadn't gotten her morning kiss. It was as much ritual as anything else, but it was these things that helped to kept them together.
  4. He sighed tipping a dirty bottle half full of scotch to his lips, he'd been up all night. Shaking his head from the whiskey burn, he stood up from his cot and laid the bottle down on the mattress, slipping on a tattered green shirt and his ripped up gloves. He then grabbed his ruined grey camo cargo pants and slid on his dirty black boots and green knit tobogan hat. True he was inebriated and slightly off balance but his judgment was intact, and something in his gut said this meeting between Mother and Father was gonna end up like meetings between his parents after the divorce....bitter. Throwing on his roughed up combat jacket, he fumbled through the pockets and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, and lit one as he left the cot room.

    Strolling the grounds of Mother's ever expanding complex he made his passed the Jerky storage and grabbed a small bag, reminded him of the cold bacon his dorm mate would leave out for him back in school. He scarfed it down, he'd need the energy later, but a more pressing matter was that he needed to speak with Mother before She could speak to the council. He quietly finished his cigarette and his liquor and disposed of both as he made his way to her wing. He only hoped he would make it before she left to meet with her council as he reached her door and gave a quiet knock.

    "Mother, I hate to bother you but I need to speak with you about your meeting today before the Council says anything, it's Ed by the way....."

    His voice held a youthful tone underneath a worn out rasp normal for those who traveled the Ranges. He wanted to discuss concerns he had about the meeting, having been a former reconnasaince agent for him before making his home in Mother's territory. He knew he wouldn't be able to predict what would happen, but he knew it could go very badly, and he wouldn't be there to give assistance if violence did come about.

    There was another reason he needed to speak with her. He was supposed to go out of the Safezone today with a group of scavengers and he needed a map, a list of major necessities and dossiers of the people he'd be taking out, but he'd bring it up after he made his concerns known to her, if he got the chance to speak with her.

    (It'll get better I promise, I started to fall asleep a bit)
  5. The days never seemed to end. They went well into the night and started before the sun rose. There weren't enough doctors to sustain the whole population, but Kara was determined to do what she could for everyone who came her way. Even if she wanted to rest, the cries of her patients kept her up. She slept when she had to, when she would be more a harm than a help to her patients, but sleep was never the same after Winter. Some day she would truly sleep. Some day when the nightmare was over, when people were well again, when the best injuries she saw these days were the worst she saw in a month. Kara had picked her profession knowing it would be stressful, but Winter had made it a million times worse. Still, she couldn't not help.

    People didn't even come in because of radiation sickness anymore. They knew just how scarce the meds were, and that everyone needed them. Radiation sickness was the new common cold. People didn't come to the hospital for it. Not that this was a traditional hospital. It was one large room with everyone nearly stacked on top of each other. Some people had cots, but plenty others didn't. Privacy was no longer an issue. People didn't care about sickness spreading because radiation would take them first. There had been a few that they had to find rooms for, but most people had opted for the open room. The doctors and nurses would hear you if you called out. You were visible. You had a chance of surviving. Rumor was those that had individual rooms were too sick and had no hope anyways. If you were offered to be moved into a single, it was because you had no hope of surviving and the doctors just wanted to give you some peace before it was all over.

    Kara hated it. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. They treated those that had a chance to stand back up and contribute again to society. They comforted those on their way out, trying their best to never say that death was imminent. The patients comforted each other. If they could talk. Even though everything was wrong, she would rather work at the hospital than anywhere else. She would rather work with patients and their issues than face the fact that the world wasn't right. And possibly never would be again. Kara bit back the thought.

    "Look, Mother!" a newer patient said pointing out the window. Kara looked and nodded even though she saw it wasn't Mother. No, it was just some girl or woman who had adopted Mother's sense of fashion. She did need to talk to Mother, or rather, they as doctors needed to talk to Mother. There were far too many patients, and they needed more space. The only problem was none of the doctors had enough time to bring up the issue. They just kept making do, and making do.

    It was true, however, that the makeshift hospital was situated in the center of their city, a place Mother walked by nearly every day. Whose decision it was, Kara had no idea, but she was glad for it. It let the patients feel as though they were still part of the community. Mother still cared.

    Her stomach growled, telling her she had to eat something for breakfast. Kara stood, assessing the patients around her and fingering her doctor's badge. It was a badge that meant she could always get food from the food center no matter when she went. It was a badge of priviledge, and again, she hated the fact that the world had come down to a point where society could say who deserved food. She looked again at her patients. She ate for them, so that they could get up again and rebuild the world, but it didn't change the fact Kara hated that society worked this way.

    "I'm going out for half an hour," she told one of the volunteer nurses. It wouldn't take that long to go to the food center and eat, but Kara aso hoped taking a short break would relieve some of her bitter mood. She could usually set aside all the little bits of life that she hated, and focus on her work, but today she was feeling distracted.

  6. Dawn slowly warmed the sky, the rising sun sending waves of light to wash over all that it could see. Dark purple lightened in a gorgeous gradient, the sky nearest the sun a pale lavender whose color was spreading rapidly as the sun rose. The first feeble rays of light poured through the window with arrogant radiance, paying the gauzy window hangings no mind at all. The window hangings were not thick, however, nor were they even close to being a material that would keep the sunlight from entering the room. The inhabitant had every confidence that the rising sun would not wake her, despite the flimsy barrier between her room and the dawn, because she woke before its golden head appeared on the horizon.

    Everything else about the room was dark and simple with clean lines. Pragmatic. The word summed up its inhabitant well also, the thorny-looking creature poised over her desk, jotting down tiny notes on a slip or parchment. The letters were slender and slanted, hard for anyone else to read, especially because they were so small, black ink strokes against off white paper. To herself and to Father, they would reveal themselves to be numbers and notations, indications of how much they had in the way of each of their resources. He had an important meeting this day with the fool who dared to defy his will and while the meeting might be essential, few were happy with having to do the onerous task.

    With the light now caressing the sharp edges of the furniture in the room, Rissa finished the final note with a flourish and pushed her chair back to stand. She was much like the dainty notes she now clutched - willowy in figure with a thin black nightgown one. Her skin was milky pale and her features were as angled as one of the wooden pieces that were placed in an efficiently visually pleasing manner around the room, high cheekbones and almond eyes framed by hair dyed red. Her frame was slender and soft but she cut an imposing figure in any meeting room with her logical mind, blunt tongue, and requests that sometimes would not make sense until months afterward. She planned, plotted, and schemed to make the best of whatever she chose. Why she was a second-rate harem wife to father instead of the prized trophy wife of a man made somewhat wealthy by the winter was no small mystery, but perhaps it was merely a plan whose fruition they had yet to see. That was always the case with Rissa and ever were any observers guessing.

    A glance to her cool white sheets was spared for Rissa before she pulled her gaze elsewhere, though her expression might have flickered between jealousy and hurt before she doctored it once more. Slipping out of the nightgown, she pulled on a similarly styled black dress with shoulder straps instead of sleeves and a sensible A-line skirt and black high heeled shoes. Not because she liked black, by any means, her favorite color was brown, but because she looked especially intimidating in black attire. She was to attend the meeting with Father to negotiate the fuel that they so needed.

    Prepared in dress and notes, she tugged the door to her room open and slipped through the halls. Barefoot, she might have been soundless. As it was, the heels made only the occasional faint 'click' against the flooring, alerting none but the most acutely trained to her presence. Father's guards would not detain her on her way to see him, they knew Rissa well. She came to a halt outside Father's door and the guards waited for her to knock. It always seemed to be such a task for her to accomplish, the knocking, and she would stand for several minutes every morning outside the door. The exposed flesh of her shoulders and her upper back surged with the feeling of cold wall pressed against them when she leaned back against it, silently preparing herself.

    One morning, she thought bitterly, one morning she was going to overcome her desire to stall outside the door and she would knock, only to find Father and his wife, Connie, nude in bed. It was not a pleasant thought for her. Inhaling deeply, she turned to the door once more and knocked, making sure that she was icily composed as she stood before it.

  7. I nodded to the voice of the man, who identified himself as "Ed", in no way was I placating him- sometimes people had an astonishing way of giving good help. At least it was a slow morning- by now, everyone knew the routine, Father and I always met on certain days during certain weeks. More specifically, the beginning of each month. My people, I love them for their acknowledgement of my stress on these days. Only on this day, would my encounters with people lessen. during this one day, I went to my office, usually out of habit, but also out of the fact that some still did come, just not quite as many.

    I moved to get the door- leaving it open, smiled and gestured- a welcoming movement with a motion of the hand before going back to my seat, while waiting for the man to sit down. Ah... this one- I remembered the face. He was one who was very familiar with the lands outside my humble, cobbled-together city. I had him to thank for most of the fuel we had, and what little rations we had found- also he had been tirelessly following my requests to find precious metals and durable alloys- clean precious metals, untouched by the radiation. Gold, silver, chrome, titanium, steel, and so on and so forth. Not many would understand it, but it had its use. I didn't use these metals, Father did. Anything I could get and store up to buy his favor was useful and staved off one more attempt of his carefully chosen words that he used to try and suede me that my people would do better if we joined.

    Already, a list was forming in my head: More metals, more fuel, collect any wild fruits or plant-life that was edible- that would require sending along a botanist or someone who at least knew their plants to a survival extent; medical supplies seemed necessary, though I hadn't heard many requests from the hospital lately... It would be easier if they came to me when their supplies started to run low, or if they had problems- that would be better than this guessing game lately....back to the list... any wild animal that would help our existence by domesticating- horses, pigs, cows and bulls, any birds they could use for meat or for eggs, any feral or wild dogs- those were mighty useful at times. Also, wood and stone was greatly needed, as well as cement, Glass was also useful in many ways- but already, I knew that I had been too distracted for too long, and returned my attention to the man.

    The Council would be here soon, to advise me and escort me to the meeting soon.

    I really wasn't looking forward to this, at all....

    To be honest... I needed something from Father... our storage of food was always low, but this month was beyond anything I had seen... Even I was trying to limit myself on what I ate and how much... I needed help. My people needed help, and my pride would not get in the way of this. If it came down to it, and my people had to beg for food and drink... I would have to cave into Father's requests... Not for him, and not for me, but for my people. Regardless of what my council would say, in my head, that was set aside for the solution should a problem arise that I couldn't take care of.

    A few times, I had argued with my council, my own council, over sending some of the patients of my hospital, to Father's land... I knew we were full to bursting in that area- there was never enough room, anywhere, but at least we had something to work with on space... but people... either way, I had argued with them, though they had managed to convince me that it would be a bad move for my people, and politically. I didn't need to look weaker than I was, and also, it would cause my people to loose faith in my leadership. or fear being sent away.

    Again, I shook my head of distractions and looked to the man sitting in front of me. My attention span today was bound to cause me troubles later.
  8. I stand alone, in this barren land, contemplating the mountains far at the horizon line.
    I turn around, Coyote, and see myself. Three pillars are there; I lean against one; the other stands firm at my other side; the other, floats behind me, suspended, hovering above a depression in the land.
    I see the sky, Coyote, and is dark as it was during our darkest days.
    As it was when you were still walking among us.
    I see the clouds, I feel the clouds- I hear them, Coyote, and in their silence they bring nothing but a thundering roar of doom.
    It should make me shiver; it should make me shudder and quiver, but I don't. I feel nothing but silence and calm.
    I just stand there, contemplating.

    I am dressed like an Ambassador.
    Ambassador, Coyote?

    And then there is the spark- it's so fast, yet I see it all happen so slowly, so slowly.
    The ray of light that falls from the sky and hits the ground.
    Only that there is not ground anymore; It hit a pillar, and I see it breaking apart, I see it falling in blocks over me.
    But I'm too far away.
    Still, I know I am in danger. I should move; I should run, I should hide. But I don't. I look upon the crumbling column impassively, just like I look upon the silently roaring clouds.

    Then I see it, It shines like a beacon. It flies through the skies, it emits this loud battle cry that tells me of the sorrow and pain suffered long ago.
    Of the sorrow and pain suffered today.
    Fire. It is my signal.
    It's a race. I start running, but my legs move too slow. I need to go where the phoenix goes; I need to make it to the top of the distant mountains.
    But I'm stuck; the air is dense, even more dense than water.

    I need your guidance, I need your advice, Coyote.
    What am I to do?

    A thin trail of smoke danced and swirled in front of Cira's closed eyes. She awoke before sunrise that morning; her dream was fresh and vivid in her mind, and her chest felt heavy with angst and doubts. She needed to meditate about it; she needed to solve its cryptic message, find its meaning, find the sense behind it all and use it for the best.

    For her people's best.
    As it had always been.

    She sat there, in front of the open window, facing the sunrise with her eyes closed; her arm was holding a pen, and the ink flowed onto the paper of her diary, forming words. Writing her dream as she told it to her guide- her spiritual guide- Coyote. The man would appear in her dreams, in her visions, from time to time; he had been her friend before, when he was still alive, always teaching her everything, always giving her advice.

    Still giving her advice, although in a different way.

    Cira finished writing her dream just as the incense stick finished burning.
    She looked down on to her diary, to read once again what she wrote. There is nothing like reading your own words again to re-interpret them, and Cira knew that well. And she did find some answers, some meaning about her dream as she read it. But that was not the only thing she found.
    Because at the end of her writing, she had added, without noticing, a short phrase.

    Nothing happens until something moves.

    So that was her guide's answer...
    She stayed there for a long time; she didn't know exactly for how long. Her mind was away, as if still dreaming about her dream.

    Move. Nothing happens until something moves.

    Keeping those words in mind, Cira rose up, always calmly, and dressed up. All her movements flowed with the same calm motion; she put on a tattered pale pink dress, sleeveless, and a grey shawl that covered her shoulders and her bald head; on her legs she wore dark gray leggings, and some worn out sandals. Although she knew the place was safe - she had been living at Mother's for a long time by now- she knew it was always better to cover as much of her scars as she could. One never knew what could happen. Not even her.

    She breathed in, then out, and left the apartment. She walked all the way down to Mother's wing, paying attention at the mundane world around her, and at the images that formed in her mind. The visions, the symbols, those that flooded her mind at all times, even if she wasn't able to decipher them all, as it was usually the case. She was not surprised to find Mother's door open; silently, she slid inside the room, and always with her calm movements, sat on the floor, over a cushion in a shady corner of the room.

    She listened, and waited. Mother was busy.
    Cira felt, once again, the heavy feeling of angst at her chest. She felt the worries; those were not hers, those, were Mother's.
  9. Everyone was finally waking up. Fallen, who had been awake for hours, watched Father's empire squirm to life like reptiles in the sunlight from afar. Smoke rose both from Father's empire, and also from the distance, just now visible in the morning light slinking over the land. Father's empire seemed even more impressive today, the great shadow from Father's empire stretching over half of the dry plains before him. Fallen had been watching the plains for trouble all night, his binoculars were his best and only companion here. Fallen was perched, like a wary hawk, in the upper levels of a half destroyed building from before Winter. The air up here was clear, easy to spot any trouble coming from afar, the height essential at night when visibility was low enough as it is.

    Father did not require this part of his job from him. In fact, what Fallen did between afternoon sun and nightfall was not in Father's immediate agenda. Today, Father did not require Fallen's services until Mother and her hodge-podge group were prepared to 'talk.' But Fallen felt something different in the air this morning. People were getting desperate on both sides, or irritated at the very least. As of late, Father's demands that Mother join him were becoming more and more direct, and Mother was becoming more and more needy. Fallen was at every meeting, hidden in the darker corners, or hiding behind the masses to seem like an ordinary man.

    His dark corners were beginning to diminish, a telltale sign that he needed to get back to the empire before anyone noticed he was gone. Fallen was supposed to be in Father's empire right now, preparing for the big conversation between Mother and Father. But Fallen knew how politics worked. If you didn't know enough about the people you were coming up against, you lost. That was his excuse anyway. In reality, Fallen performed this tedious routine because he did not want things to escalate today. He needed there to be peace a little while longer, for reasons of his own. But he had placed each foot on either side, to know the truth and make his own decisions in these matters. He was still shaky and unsure about his loyalties to Father.

    The cold night had passed though, and he stood up, stamping out the fire. The sand he shoveled on top of it smothered the glowing coals under his shadow, the sun heating his back now. He swung his leather messenger bag over his shoulder and tightened it to his body. His binoculars were carefully wrapped and placed inside to prevent damage.

    Fallen took a bite of the stringy, six eyed lizard he had caught the night before, slow roasted all night until breakfast. He caught a piece of bone on his tongue, slicing it gently, but just enough to draw some blood. Fallen hissed and spat out the bone, but still too ravenous to let it go to waste, he took his meal to go and started the trek back to the empire. If only it tasted like chicken... He made his way down

    What made him such a successful bodyguard was his ability to collect intelligence, one way or another, like he had been doing all night. Knowing where your enemy was stepping before they did was always a more intelligent idea. But it wasn't just Mother's group he searched for now. No, there were others now, other, smaller, factions that would tear down what progress they had made for survival. In this case, Father's attitude towards raiders couldn't be more true, "Join or die." From Fallen's perspective, it meant that if you had plans of living in your own group, you better be prepared to make hard decisions. There was little left in this barren wasteland to eat. Others would have turned down the idea of a radioactively mutated reptile with a few extra eyes. But to Fallen, eating radioactive food was the equivalent to eating junk food anymore: you knew it was bad for you, but you didn't want to eat something else.

    Mother's group was, to say the least, interesting. He had traveled down to her community in disguise once or twice to better understand how they worked and operated. It was a disorganized mess in comparison to Father. Although, with how many people she took in, it was no surprise, so like her name, she was their mother. She was kind and true to the people that she served, a complete family that wouldn't dream of harming one another. During days, they worked, and worked hard, for food and survival, luxuries denied to them because of their lifestyle. But every morning, the children got up, squealing in happiness, only to wake their scolding parents. Their parents would wake the others with their yelling, those would wake the elderly, and so on, and so on. But they all smiled, happy to be in good company, as if the apocalypse was the best thing to happen to them. It was almost touching to witness them be in such harmony with each other. Even the hospitals, obviously overcrowded as Fallen had observed, had smiling patients that chatted with one another. While he was there, Fallen had felt like they were truly a family, and just by him moving into their community, they had accepted him, with all of his faults, as well.

    On the other hand, Father's way was more of the corporation world that Fallen remembered from before Winter. It was a man's world. It was quick. It was efficient. Fallen liked this lifestyle better in Winter. Among all of the chaos, Father had been a shining beacon to the future of the human race. To Fallen, he had been a healing song to a recently broken life. Fallen could use his skills to protect someone of importance again. He had a clear, specific purpose again. All those months of feeling emptiness for his lost wife was filled by the necessity of his work.

    He ran down the stairs, his steps echoing in the only part of the building that wasn't ruined or missing a face. Then, the floors above him rumbled, causing Fallen to stop suddenly to look up, dirt falling onto his head.

    "Fuck...." he cursed, running down the stairs as fast as he could, jumping over some railings.

    The rumbling became louder, the earth seeming to vibrate under his feet. A large chunk of flooring crushed through the stairs above him. The vibrating became more and more prevalent as the cement block fell between floors. Soon, the debris was just over his head. He was out of time to run. Fallen couldn't leap down the last 5 flights of stairs, so he did the only thing he could think of. He pressed himself to the closest wall and hoped to god, or whatever was out there, that he wouldn't get crushed. The large chunk of floor grazed his boot, a wire slicing open the tip and slipping directly between his toes. Sheer luck. The giant deathtrap continued down another 3 floors before it stopped. Dust made breathing impossible, and Fallen choked on it for a moment before he covered his face with his shirt, feeling the rest of the way down to the outside. He looked albino from all of the dust, and when he shook his body to loosen it, it was like a small cloud had spawned in the middle of nowhere. He was going to have to explain that one later. There was no doubt that everyone and their children had heard that was was awake in terror now.

    Fallen was in no mood to be scolded by Father or anyone else today. So he ran, bolting across what once had been great streets, malls, suburbs before Winter. His heart pumped his blood like liquid fire all over his body. The slight pain from exercise felt wonderful. He roared in excitement of the moment and forced himself to run even faster. Soon, he found himself hurdling himself over the solid wall structure of the empire and avoiding the guards posted there. He ran through the broken ruins, currently under repair by Father's orders. But it was Father's 'throne room' that Fallen needed to get to now. The floors were polished lavishly, preventing Fallen from getting a good grip on the floors as he rounded corners. Oh, if he didn't get back soon, his scolding would be legendary. Father may even ban him from his quarters and work for being late to such an important meeting, despite Fallen's intentions.

    Father's laws were strict and harsh, but things got done, and it good time too. This was the world that Fallen was familiar with, but he didn't agree with everything that Father decided on. Father, for example, took many, many wives. These concubines were a painful reminder to Fallen of the one thing that he would never have the chance to experience, a woman's touch. It also reminded Fallen of his infidelity before Winter, and how much of a fool he had been. All of that precious time, lost to this apocalypse. But what truly wounded Fallen's conscious was how he treated them! It burned a hole in the pit of Fallen's empty stomach to think of the women scorned by Father. Father, at times, was more like a selfish child with too many toys.

    One of Father's more trustworthy and intelligent wives, Rissa, was a perfect example of his cruelty. Fallen never truly trusted her, his uncanny sense to know when people were not telling the truth did not help him when she was near. She spoke the truth, but there was a sort of hidden scheming, over-planning and over-analyzing, that he was not familiar with. He was instinctive, adaptable down to the second something happened, she wasn't. She planned everything so delicately, like a spider weaving its web, knowing that some poor fly would eventually get caught. Fallen was always waiting for her to turn the page of her schemes, waiting to find that he had been trapped inside of her invisible silky strands. Like admiration for a venomous snake, Fallen admired her, but wouldn't exactly call her an ally. Father, however, seemed to be the same way to Fallen, and he wondered why Father insisted on irritating Rissa.

    Fallen rounded the last corner and saw Rissa standing in front of Father's quarters, anxiously waiting. Fallen skidded to a stop and hid behind an ornate statue that hadn't been destroyed completely by Winter. Having Rissa notice his tardiness was the last thing that he needed. But his curiousity and need to understand people's patterns made him observe, again, from a distance. Rissa looked like she was a bird, puffing out its feathers when it was upset to try and hide its irritation. Fallen could see it. Rissa looked at Father's door in jealousy, even anger for a fraction of a second. Sometimes though, Fallen caught a sly smirk from her. He still wasn't sure if it was from a new, budding plan she was working out or if it had to do with Father.

    Either way, he slipped across the hallway, trying to make his way to his own room, more like a broom closet, so he could change and be ready for the heavy day to come
  10. It is one thing to gather a moniker or two, quite another to loose your name and another too to give it up willingly. When Father returned to his room the sight greeting him was of the only person who still knew his. "Seems the day has started a little too early today." he said leaning down next to her and kissing her cheek. He didn't care if she was brushing her hair.

    "So today I will spar with the one who calls herself Mother and once again try to get what our people need." it was a constant struggle. It was getting harder and harder to just find things, which was why he wanted his people to produce all they needed themselves. Even with the coming winter they had a surplus of food, and a host of things that no one else could offer, medicines...

    There was another knock on the door and he stood. "Hell talk this evening..." He pulled on the shirt and opened the door, and as he suspected found Rissa. "The counsel ready?" he asked unhooking his jacket from the door and pulling it on, except for the shirt everything he was wearing was drab green, the shade the screamed military. In fact almost everything he had brought with him did. Soldiers, tucks loaded with samples of what he could offer Mother. Even a fully working tank packed to the rim with ammunition... a show of force. The duel promise of reward for compliance and retaliation for aggression.

  11. Finally, Rissa managed to summon the courage to knock at the door once more. Another day, another bullet dodged, she thought blandly. Her limited glance into the room showed only that Connie was brushing her hair. Whatever Father had been doing before that was unknown, since he was the one who came to the door. At least it was this way, always, with Connie busying herself doing ordinary things and Father, already fully dressed, doing whatever it was before answering the door. Because she did not want to know, Rissa never asked about anything involving the time that Father spent in those rooms. Rarely did she ask him anything personal, in fact. The truth would be much harder to stomach than just her own doomed thoughts, because she could always tell herself that she didn't know for sure. Father and Connie had children together, anyway. It wasn't as though it were a secret.

    "I believe so, sir. They appeared to be prepared when I made my way up here, so they should be perfectly ready now. I have some notes written for you, for this meeting, which can hopefully be of use to you. I trust that everything else is prepared for the meeting today?" Her tone was lilting, a reminder that she was once from a place, before the Winter, and still carried a gentle accent. It was a moment, for her at least, of unguarded conversation, despite the fact that her words were entirely businesslike as usual. This would likely be the only time today anyone heard her soft, questioning tone. Once she was done speaking to Father in private, her voice would doubtlessly become louder and harsher, not to mention crisply unaccented, when she spoke afterward.

    Despite the tender tone she took, she had turned her head away from Father while he retrieved his jacket, her eyes unfocused but staring at some point in the distance. Her hair did not fully conceal her face, she couldn't stand the meek and submissive appearance that the look lent to her, but she was trying hard to hide her expression from Father. Likelier than not, he wouldn't have noticed anything amiss had he looked her straight in the face while she spoke, but it wasn't worth the risk. Even if he did notice, it would be more painful for him to make it obvious that he did not care, in that case - she wasn't his precious first wife after all. As emotionlessly as possible, she held out the notes to him, taking care that her hand did not tremble in the slightest.

    Idly, Rissa wondered where his children were as she began to walk and then realized that the thought brought her more pain than the idle wondering was worth. Her hand flitted briefly over her own flat stomach, a quick motion that was hardly noticeable and certainly not easily readable even if seen. This was a life that did not lend itself to children, even if she could have them. She didn't know whether or not she was incapable, since she'd never really been in much of a position to find out after the Winter. Many men and women had become infertile from their exposure and it wouldn't be surprising if she was one of them. Not as if she would ever find out, Father almost always slept with his first wife. It was more than likely that he wouldn't even remember where Rissa slept, since he mostly chose to spend time with Connie with all the stress of late. She reminded herself silently that this was the life she had chosen for herself, though she hardly felt as though she were a wife at all.

    "It should be just this way" she murmured, for little reason than conversation. Surely he would already know the way. She swallowed and allowed herself a glance at Father. He looked so painfully handsome in his army green, his face set in a solemn expression. She would make sure that he succeeded, that was her goal. Father's wishes were Rissa's commands.
  12. Moving in passed the opened door, he took heed to the motion of her hand and sat, trying to get the order of his points correct in his head before he started speaking. The bad feeling in his gut about the meeting, things he’d need before heading the scav team out today, and an update on his request to be able to keep at least one of his weapons on him in the complex for security reasons.From the looks of it, she already had a lot on her mind, Meeting Days were stressful on everyone he knew, but it had to be infinitely worse for her being the leader of everyone here. He scrapped talking about his own requests and cleared his throat as he noticed her attention again rest on him.

    “Mother, I’m concerned this meeting between yourself and Father might end up badly, I can’t exactly say why, but I have this.....strange feeling in my gut, like we should be preparing for something bad to happen. That being said, I think we should arm those able, in case we do need to fight. I’ve seen things between Father and other groups go to hell quick, and those other groups are now either gone or Phoenix territory.”

    His concerns went deeper than he had voiced, during his time in Father’s service, he’d seen just how bad things could get for the Offspring if Father had the whim. The Offspring didn’t have the firepower nor the training to fight a war, and it was only because he lived in Father’s territory when Winter first struck that he knew what to do. He knew that if negotiations broke down like they had with other groups, it would be a very bad day, as war with the Phoenixes lasted 2 weeks at the most, and by then the territory had been conquered.

    He’d voiced his concerns about the meeting, and spent a few moments searching for the right words to voice his needs for his job today. He’d need a general search area and information on the people he’d be taking. In addition he’d also need firearms and survival rations, as well as a list on what would be needed.

    “I also need to discuss the scavenger hunt I’m supposed to lead today, this is just some general requirements, a map of the area we’re supposed to search, lists of what’s needed, guns and ammo, some rations and I need a list and some info on the people that’re going with me. Thank you for this time by the way, I know you can’t possibly be the mood to deal with this today.”

    He’d said leaning back into the chair as he felt a bit of relief knowing that he’d allowed his concerns about today be known to Mother, though he couldn’t say his didn’t add stress upon stress on her. Running a civilization couldn’t be easy on her, and knowing that somebody else has plans on trying to take it from her had to put even more of a strain on her, Ed admired her leadership, and her strength.
  13. Father wasn't a fool. Nor was he unobservant. There was something bothering Rissa and he mistook it to be the coming meeting. Placing his hand on her shoulder he stopped her. "You don't need to worry." he said turning her around and putting his other hand on her other shoulder.

    "They all live in a half-built shelter with no privacy and very little comfort. We have several towns, a growing city, and more food than we know what to do with. Who wouldn't want to join that?" he stepped closer to a more intimate distance. "Just keep your head and we'll be fine. Everyone has a part to play." he slid his hand from her letting them trail down her arms before he took the lead.

    Inside the meeting room he took his place and run through everything in his head. He had a game plan, he always did. Start demanding what he knew thew wouldn't accept and ease off until they gave. But we would want two things unquestionably. Fuel, and the drug her people had stumbles onto a way of making... he had the means to test it better than she did and the scientists to improve on it if viable. And to predict any side-effects.
  14. Fallen came to a screeching halt in the meeting room. He stumbled a step or two on the waxed floor. His breath was short, and his face dirty near his hairline where he had hastily cleaned it. His shirt was hastily tucked into his pants, his tunic as windswept as his hair. All of his weapons, of course, were in place. His breastplate was well placed under his tunic, his belt holding up his pants. Fallen dropped to his knees, more of an apology than a sign of fealty. Fallen would never bow to a man in such a way, not without getting his knees broken. Despite the Winter, he hadn't lost his intense sense of pride.

    "Father, I apologize! My preparations for today took longer than expected." Fallen lied through his teeth, using his skills from cheating on his wife before Winter.

    If only he could use that excuse now. However, he didn't know if Father knew of his shortcomings. Father had never sent a whore his way, and Fallen had never asked for one. The odds were, temporarily, in his favor. Today, it was expected for people to be on edge for the day. It was expected for the whole empire to be in a state of panic. Everyone was panicking today. Father, Fallen felt, was ready to push Mother and her group over the edge. Fallen however, had different plans. And as he turned up his eyes to Father, he couldn't help but feel as if he was the wolf in sheep's clothing. He could imagine it, his face turning into that of a wolf, a grin creeping over his face as his eyes became yellow, staring down Father. Fallen's plan were not of dark nature, he did not mean to harm anyone, he simply believed his situation to be deeply ironic.

    "Although I admit, Father, I did wake a little late as well," Fallen lied again.

  15. I smiled slightly at the talk of making sure our people were well-armed. Not out of praise or agreement, but rather sarcasm.

    "Father's a tricky man, Ed; I agree with you on your concerns for today... but to arm our able people now... would do nothing but further provoke him. He might take it as a threat... a challenge... My hands are tied." I admitted with another wry smile. It was like a game of chess. "Right now... my priorities are to soothe Father and make sure he sees us... more as a weak enemy or a possible ally, than to show that we have more armaments than he might expect. Let him think me the fool, let him underestimate us... We play peacefully until they push us. I'm well aware that I'm playing with fire, but I want him to focus on me- be frustrated with me- and not have any reason to look at my people." I spoke, my eyes gazing off into the distance, planning.

    He already thought them a threat... He would posture his power for me today, undoubtedly, and I would sit and watch. I would play the part of a stupid child. I didn't like this, not at all, but he wouldn't respond well in any other way.

    I tasted cold metallic tang in my mouth, and shifted my tongue around soothing the taste.

    I drank more of the poisoned drink, listening to his next words. I managed to down the rest of the drink and shook my head of the taste it left.

    "Keep the firearms small: Pistols, revolvers... nothing big. Where you're scavenging, you shouldn't need anything bigger than that- this is only for emergency... remember, bullets are scarce, and so are those weapons. The map is here," I paused, retrieving the rolled up parchment, it was big enough, to make sure there was enough insight into all the details. "Rations will be in a crate in the kitchen, you can't miss it; also, the people that will be accompanying you- there are three or four- the forth might still be recovering in the hospital... we think he came down with a small cold... ask the doc if he's allowed to leave... they're good people... all of them have been with me almost since the beginning... I trust them with my life." I sighed a bit, worried about the possibility of another wave of colds going through my people.

    "Ok, here's what we need: Metals, of all kinds, gasoline, diesel- just any type of fuel you can find... weapons, materials to continue building our home... look for any intact buildings- this area, right here on the map," I started as I unfurled the map and pointed to a place, denoted by what looked like a topical view of rubble and buildings. "Look through here, there might be a pharmacy, a store, something... we need more medicine... I know our stores are low." I admitted, then smiled at the man. "Everyone has a part to play in this... I had no disillusions of what I was taking on when I became the leader of this family. Yes... these days are stressful... and I suspect neither Father or I will bend to each other's whims... a war very well may start... but I will do what I can to make sure it doesn't come to that." I explained, then nodded. "I must go...I suspect I'm already late." I smiled then got up from the desk and handed Ed the map while I walked past him. "I wish you fast and safe searches." I called out as I walked away.

    A quick trip to collect Cira and the rest of her council and we were on the move.

    Scoldings from various members of the council- a bark of anger and frustration at my inability to attend my own meeting with my own council before going to the meeting to discuss with Father.

    I was not stupid, I knew that it was important... but for this meeting, I did not need to speak the council's opinion- my people had given me good clue as to how I should act, what we needed, and the severity of our need for certain items. I worked to get into the right mindset, going over what I'd say... going over how I should act. It was a constant battle of dominance, even down to how we sat or spoke.

    It took some time, but we got there- and inside, I spotted Father, a chill went down my spine.

    I went to sit and beckoned my council around me, making sure to keep Cira close. Her advice was worth her weight in gold at times.

    "I apologize, Father, for my late arrival, I assure you it was for good reason." I started, a small smile on my lips before I continued. "Shall we begin?" I asked, but continued without a pause. "My needs are simple: food and medicine; in exchange, I will relinquish two tankers of fuel to you, in addition to anything else you might require- given that I can provide it." I spoke even-toned and calmly, keeping the smile on my face. My people had managed to find the tankers a while back, and once it had been given small repairs- fuel was soon stored within it. I knew his people required it.

    "Name your demands." I spoke.
  16. Father directed his son to sit without a word. Fallen knew his role to play here. 'Now that we're all here.. the Dam is ours. I'll be telling mother when she arrives." he smile was warm and wide, after all it was his wife and son we was addressing, maybe not his son in the literal sense but all under his protection were his children.

    He took his seat and placed the message he had received on the table. In the dim light it might take Mother a moment to read it but he would let her read it herself anyway. He knew what he wanted from her and she knew what she wanted from him. It was under these circumstances that deals could be reached.

    When she entered he stood. "To the point? No greetings, no sharing of gifts? It makes me think you're not happy to see me, Mother, when we have so much to offer you." he wouldn't let her take control of the conversation, this is what he did, even when he had been in the army before the winter he had been using words to get his way. "And to show you just how open I'm willing to be here is a report I received this morning. I'll soon have more electricity than I can use. Clean, never ending free energy."

    The report also meant he had a mechanized infantry group within a day's travel of her and controlled the only river crossing capable of supporting heavy vehicles. "I am willing to share it with you along with our food surplus, soap, medicine, things you cannot make yourself and are becoming harder adn harder to scavenge. We're rebuilding the world better than it was. You can join us as a self-governing town and share our prosperity. All you have to do is call me Father and I will treat you as my children."

  17. Instantly, between the two of them, there was friction. It was to be expected, since they were the leaders of two groups that were only on tenuously cooperative terms as of right now. Still, it was surprising that this woman who called herself Mother would be trying to take control of the situation. She looked frail, weak, and young. There was a fire in her eyes, that much was true, but she seemed to lack spirit. This was not something that she enjoyed and she was not doing this for leadership - the woman was taking on the role of a leader because she wanted to be Mommy, not Mother. Riss was unconcerned and clasped her hands together on her lap, sitting patiently in silence.

    The only sign that Rissa was even listening to the conversation was a small smirk on her face. Otherwise, her eyes were focused on some point on the wall, her posture was uncompromisingly formal, and her hands were folded nearly now in her lap. Without fail, Father did as was to be expected of him, he took control of the conversation subtly and pointed out to the woman what her position was without even having to comment directly. So much could be gleaned from so few words and each sentence he dropped was laden and oozing with implications and information that he might be coy and pretend was a secret. He knew - the room was his game board and he was playing the pieces. For now, Rissa had no reason to speak.

    The small delegation had, at Rissa's instruction, brought the gift for Mother, however. It was less a gift and more a reminder, really. The apple placed in front of mother on the table was a beautiful bright red and its skin gleamed in the light. It was polished to perfection and was exuding a faintly fruity smell, tantalizing with its very presence. It was a perfect specimen, selected by Rissa herself. It was opulence and necessity, desire and need all in the same.

    "It's understandable if you haven't any gifts but please do accept this token of goodwill and a demonstration of how much we have to offer for you, should you join us. A good thing, too... you look hungry." Rissa's eyes flashed gunmetal and her teeth were revealed as her smile widened. She would let Father conduct the rest of the meeting unless she was needed to intervene. Rissa was never truly unarmed, after all, whether it was with weapons or wit.
  18. As Kara stood in life for food, she watched the people around her. Right before her was a family -- a father and his two daughters. One was young and scampered in and out of line. The older one followed, indulging the younger in her fanciful antics. Kara smiled, happy that someone still had the energy to run around. It wasn't long before they disappeared into the little shed that they called their distribution center, and when they came out, the little girl was nibbling on what looked like a slice of apple while the elder girl and the father passed a roll back and forth. Each would take a tiny bite before giving it to the other, trying to make it last.

    Then it was her turn. She stepped into the shed and came out with the same amount of food as the family had. Her quarter apple and roll, however, was stuffed into her pocket. Food was as precious as anything else, and she was embarassed to be entitled to more. Though she had intended to walk about, she found herself hurrying back to the hospital. The food supply was low again, but she was still getting a full ration. The more she tried to suppress the fact that the times were what they were, the more she saw signs of it. And the more she thought about how terrible everything was, the more she thought about Anders and how he always talked about the world being a better place. And she couldn't think of him without thinking about how he wilted away in her arms and how she had scavenged his old lab trying to find anything he could recognize to put together to save his own life.

    By the time she reached the hospital again, she was in such a mood that she couldn't eat even though her stomach was still growling. Kara left the apple slice and roll in the break room, and then shrugged on her never-quite-white coat again.

    "Dr. Carrino! I thought you went out."

    "Did," she replied to the nurse, "Who's up next?"

    "Ah, Jase. He starting coughing up pus."

    "Pus? Not mucus? I thought he had a cold," but Kara didn't wait for a response as she went off to find Jase. They didn't usually admit those with just a cold, but Jase was one of those that knew how to survive out beyond their city. While a cold might have been enough to admit Jase normally, the fact the sickness had started while he was outside made him an immediate quarantine. And now he was coughing up pus.

    Kara was always the first one to volunteer for the odd jobs that had even the faintest stink of radiation. She always made a show of the decontamination procedure, but the truth was she knew it didn't matter. Occasionally she wondered how many had guessed the truth, but even if they hadn't, the others at least recognized she was the one to go to in such situations.
  19. From the moment she took her place at the table, Cira kept her impassive gaze wandering around, making sure she didn't grab anybody's attention for anything. It was her the one paying attention, closely, to every word said, and not only to their meaning but also to its multiple interpretations.

    And everything made sense.

    The ray. The electricity. So this was what it was.
    The spark that would slowly set up everything in motion... hope, and destruction, all at once.

    She regretted not being able to openly exchange word with Fallen. She trusted him; they were both together in this, after all.
    Her eyes set upon the perfect apple.


    Her face stayed the same, but, inside, Cira smirked. One just couldn't tempt Mother with food. The apple brought along its message clearly, however. Cira's gaze went from the apple to Rissa; from Rissa to Father; from Father, to Fallen; and then, back to Mother's, reassuringly, just to make sure everything was just fine as it should be. Nothing to worry about. No need to say a word, yet.
  20. Leaving Mother's quarters with map and list in hand, He reviewed the Team dockets and as he suspected the one laid up was the medic. He'd need a replacement, can't take a sick man into the Range, death sentence. He trusted that Mother was right and that she knew what she was doing, but there was still that bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.

    He decided to pick his own replacement being such short notice with no true authoritative voice available to give proper permission, and detoured himself to the Hospital wing and almost immediately found Kara. He walked up to her and tapped her on the shoulder, and gave her a motion with his head that seemed as if he wanted her to talk to him.

    "Walk with me, I need to talk to you...."

    He confirmed his motions, taking out the docket for the laid up medic, and handed it to her.

    "I can't take him with us on the scav hunt today, sick people don't last in the Range and it's not fair to him to make him go. Bad thing is he's the medic so with him laid up I need a person trained enough to replace him, and cause time is short I need you to fill that spot."

    He said, stopping at the weapon locker and after giving the man his Firearm Ticket, received his Rhino and a few other small arms. He handed Kara a Beretta M9 as he walked. He hated not being able to give people a choice but on such short notice it couldn't be helped. He made a stop at the Ammo locker and again showed his firearm ticket, receiving a box of ammo for his Rhino and a small box full of assorted pistol clips, and handed the Beretta clips to Kara as well.