CHARACTERS WRITING The Orphanage

Adrian

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High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, Horror, LGBT+, Steampunk, Comedy, Post-apocalyptic, 80s, Thriller, Modern, Romance, Tragedy, Drama, Space Opera, Political Intrigue, Coming of Age
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Adrian

Lean Mean Writing Machine
Original poster
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per day
  2. 1-3 posts per week
  3. One post per week
Writing Levels
  1. Give-No-Fucks
Preferred Character Gender
  1. No Preferences
Genres
High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, Horror, LGBT+, Steampunk, Comedy, Post-apocalyptic, 80s, Thriller, Modern, Romance, Tragedy, Drama, Space Opera, Political Intrigue, Coming of Age
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「名前」 川原菜々子

Kawahara Nanako (川原菜々子), also known by her stage name NANA, is a nineteen-year-old japanese idol. She made her debut in a period drama when she was only fifteen years of age, then went on to join the popular J-POP group メロディー. She became a household name within the span of a few months, her talent for getting into scrapes and scandals proving beneficial in earning her the limelight. It didn’t take long before she established herself as a solo artist thanks to her huge following.​

痛み 与えて
愛より 確かなもの

Nana had always been rebellious, vindictive, and outspoken. When her mother had to be taken to the mental institution, she blamed her stoic father for it, doing everything he disapproved of just to get back at him. When her best friend Takumi would get bullied in school, she would bully his tormentors back, whether it be with fists or words. When somebody told her Takumi didn’t feel the same way towards her, she decided she would turn on him, because if she couldn’t have him what was the point of being nice?

Then, she went on to follow her dreams. She became a renowned idol, a household name, an icon. She would see her own face plastered on billboards, read the papers slandering her name. She was still the same Nana--just as rebellious, just as foolhardy. It didn’t add up to her popstar image, and it got her unwanted attention. The paparazzi followed her everywhere. She had stalkers break into her home. Inappropriate photos circulated online against her will. The worst sort of rumors were fabricated by the media to humiliate her. This was life under the limelight, and it was hell.

It broke her. Four years and six albums later, Nana lost her passion for music. The dream she thought she was living turned irrevocably into a nightmare. Her heart was no longer in the songs; she thought them to be mainstream, recycled to no end. She wasn’t evolving. She wasn't getting better. She was getting worse.

She had sold her soul to the devil.

That was when the hallucinations began. At first they were simply whispers in the dead of night when she could barely get a wink of sleep. Then, they grew louder and louder; she began to see shapes--brief flashes of strange figures that, upon second glance, didn’t seem to be there. As her mental state grew worse, so did these hallucinations. Nana could see them now. Those demons. Smiling at her like an old friend.

Her first breakdown happened on stage.

Nobody believed her when she told them what she had seen.

Her manager told her she was crazy. Even her most avid fans thought she wasn’t quite right in the head. They said she needed to take a break.

So she did.

Little did they know she would never come back.

罰を 与えて
ずっと 離れないよう
‾‾ [ ラビリンス ] MONDO GROSSO ​‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾
 
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Adrian

Lean Mean Writing Machine
Original poster
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per day
  2. 1-3 posts per week
  3. One post per week
Writing Levels
  1. Give-No-Fucks
Preferred Character Gender
  1. No Preferences
Genres
High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, Horror, LGBT+, Steampunk, Comedy, Post-apocalyptic, 80s, Thriller, Modern, Romance, Tragedy, Drama, Space Opera, Political Intrigue, Coming of Age
Test
Patua One
Alfa Slab One
GARRETT JONES

★✩ SUMMARY ✩★
Garrett has lived in Highland for all thirty-two years of his life. Everyone knows who he is and how he brutally murdered his family some years back. How he came to be the Deputy Sheriff is anyone's guess, but no one seems to be too concerned about it.

Despite his questionable background, Garrett seems relatively quiet and composed, if not a little brooding. He spends most of his time strolling about the neighborhood with a watchful eye and one hand resting on the gun against his hip. The rest of the time he spends squinting at a battered copy of the bible when he can barely read.

When duty calls, Garrett is quick to draw his gun. Never a man of words or wit, his sheer lack of care and forethought can be proven useful in situations where swift reflexes are needed.

★✩ APPEARANCE ✩★
Standing at 6'2" tall with a wiry frame, Garrett has the intimidating look of a man that would waste no time putting a bullet through your head. Though not terrible-looking by way of appearance, he does have an unfriendly face and is notoriously lacking in hygiene. He has yellow teeth, bad breath, and dark circles around his eyes that indicate a lack of sleep.

★✩ OTHERS ✩★
- Being a rather religious man, Garrett likes to quote bible passages, even if he gets them wrong most of the time.



Old Man Worth drew in a raspy breath as he pushed himself from his chair, the simple act seeming to strain him physically. Feet scraping against the dusty wooden floor, he felt his way to the front door. His shoulders were hunched, spine bent as if his own age were weighing upon him. He felt for the visitor's face as if to confirm the man's existence.

“I’ve got just the room for you--”

“That won’t be necessary,” Another man emerged from one of the rooms lining the corridor. Though a hand was carefully poised against his gun, Garrett was visibly relaxed. Either he deemed the newcomer to be no threat to him, or he didn’t care. A cigarette dangled between his lips as he spoke, mouth curving into a knowing smile as he trained his gaze on the other man. “Didn’t you get the memo, son? Ain’t you supposed to be in the mayor’s office?”

His gaze fell for a moment as he lit a match and brought the lucifer to his face. He drew a long, audible drag, before stowing the box of lucifers into his pocket.

“You look like you’re up to no good,” he continued, making his slow but steady way towards the newcomer. “Folks like you come to town all the time, looking for trouble. Well, if trouble’s what you want, that’s what you’re gonna get.”

He drew his pistol from its holster and prodded the skin between the man's brows. He cocked his head to the front door, “Move, before I blow your brains out, kid. And don’t you even think about running away.”



II.

Until now, Garrett didn’t think words could ever wear him out so much, until this other man started speaking. The gun trained on Lincoln’s head clearly did little to faze him, if it even fazed him at all. Garrett was growing quickly bored.

“Stop talking and start walking,” he drawled lazily, taking another drag of his cigarette. The other man had some sense, at least, and did as he was told. Garrett kept watch from the window until Lincoln was some distance away.

But Garrett was still bored, and this was taking too long.

Casting the cigarette to the ground and putting the fire out with his boot, he followed the older man’s trail. The pistol was now holstered and unthreatening, but the Deputy’s fingers remained on the cool steel, tapping an unknown rhythm. He whistled now, keeping a small distance between him and the newcomer. There was a calm, detached air around Garrett, as if the altercation from before had never happened.

When, finally, they reached the Mayor’s Office, Garrett barged through the door with such force that neighbouring establishments would have heard it.

He tipped his hat to the mayor, before stepping aside to let Lincoln in. Garrett’s hand tightened around the grip of his pistol in warning.

“Ladies first,” He gave the man a stiff smile and gestured for him to get in. Then, turning to the mayor with a triumphant twinkle in his eyes, “Look who I found roamin’ about the neighborhood looking like bad news. He's got a lot of nerve in him, alright. Looked about ready to shoot me down. I ain't got no doubts he's our killer."

Then, to the man who was about to leave: "Hold up, where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving this town until we say you can. For all we know ya'll could be workin' together."​
 
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Adrian

Lean Mean Writing Machine
Original poster
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per day
  2. 1-3 posts per week
  3. One post per week
Writing Levels
  1. Give-No-Fucks
Preferred Character Gender
  1. No Preferences
Genres
High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, Horror, LGBT+, Steampunk, Comedy, Post-apocalyptic, 80s, Thriller, Modern, Romance, Tragedy, Drama, Space Opera, Political Intrigue, Coming of Age
Comfortaa
Bree Serif
khaala.
“When children are born in Zurakhul, they learn to survive before they learn how to speak.”

Life, for Khaala, was an endless cycle of survival.

There had never been a day in her life where she didn't worry about her next meal. Not a moment where she didn't constantly look behind her back. After all, to live in the slums of Zurakhul was to experience war on a day-to-day basis. In this city, poverty reduced people to their basest instincts. Crimes were commonplace. Death was but a side effect.

From early on, Khaala learned how to fend for herself. She took pride in her independence, in her ability to maneuver the streets of Zurakhul unscathed. Among a family of 7--four of which were her siblings--she was the only one that survived.

Once, she swore she would never bring a child into such a treacherous world, but many years later she had a change of heart. She met a man, and for the first time in many years, she became reacquainted with a fear she had long forgotten.

Nightmares always turned into reality in Zurakhul.

Her husband died on the streets. Yet another death among a million, but to Khaala it felt like the end of the world. She hid her grief from her son, determined to be his rock, his sword, his shield. She needed to keep her child safe, but she knew deep inside that there was no guarantee of safety in a city such as this.

She needed to find a way out.


» Personality and Abilities:

Khaala may be illiterate like those who grow up in the slums, but she is by no means a fool. She possesses a good head on her shoulders and has the capacity to be deceptive should the situation call for it. The woman can be remorseless and isn’t beyond taking a life if it would ensure her survival. Twenty-six years of living in the slums has hardened her so. It has made her sarcastic, prideful, and exasperatingly pessimistic, but it has also bestowed her many useful skills.

Though she is extremely skinny, she is not easily overpowered. Khaala can wield a knife, and while she doesn’t have a lot of strength, she is fast, agile, and shrewd.


The kingdom was falling into ruins.

There was no hope here, just death. For years, she had managed to survive with scraps, but now even that wasn't enough. If she had been alone, she would have embraced her fate with wide open arms. Embraced it the way her husband did when a knife pierced through his heart. But she was not alone. She had her son to think of.

There was no time to plan out what to do next or how to get out safely and completely undetected. They simply had to risk their chances, and hope for the best. They were lucky to even get this far. For the price of a few coins, a merchant had helped them into the back of his wagon. Hand in hand, mother and child crouched underneath a blanket amidst barrels of goods. When, after cautiously peeking out, Khaala determined they had arrived at their destination, the two snuck out and made their hasty way to the boats.

"Stop them!" A man cried out from afar. Presumably the owner of the boat they were about to steal. "STOP!"

There was no time to look back.



II.

There was no turning back now.

Khaala began to untie the knot, hands shaking, as the voices grew closer and louder. Yoren clung onto her arm in fear. Tighter his grip grew, that Khaala had half a mind to scold the boy, until she realized what had made him so frightened. The boat creaked, and before her on the floating vessel stood a man--no, an elf--that was perhaps several times bigger than she. He was armed, but Khaala knew he hardly had any use for his bow. Why, he could swat her away with just one sweep of his hand! Tensing up, she backed away, holding her son close. Never had she seen such a creature!

But then the elf did something strange. He began to untie the rope. Khaala looked behind her. The owner of the vessel had managed to garner the attention of several onlookers, who were now getting threateningly close. Desperate, Khaala urged Yoren to hurry and climb onto the boat. Then, she began to follow suit.

Just then, an arrow shot past her leg and burrowed itself into the pillar. Khaala hissed in pain.

Without wasting a single second, she took the arrow, and for a brief moment her eyes fell once again on the strange man standing on the boat. Fear and anger warred in her eyes. She raised her weapon--and for a while it looked almost as if she were about to attack him--but then she swiveled around and jammed the pointed end into the neck of a sailor that had just now reached them. Blood sputtered out of his wound and he fell to the ground, the knife in his hand clattering, abandoned.

Khaala hopped into the boat, and before long, they were at sea. Arrows whistled past. Some managed to hit the vessel, whilst others fell into the water. But for the moment, they were safe. As safe as they could be, with this big burly elf sitting across them. The boat cleaved through the blue waters as it inched onwards. Yoren was still shaking from head to toe.

At length, Khaala spoke, "You are not from around here. Who are you? Why do you help us?" Her tone was accusing, her accent thick. There seemed to be as much fear in her eyes as there was in her voice. However, she also beheld him with some curiosity. She had heard of folk such as he. Old wives' tale, she had called it. And she knew she ought to be more shaken up than she was currently, but enough had happened in one day. She was exhausted... and desperate. If this elf had wanted to kill them, he would have done so already.



III.

"Fine," The woman relented, though the suspicion in her eyes never wavered. It would take more than just an oath to convince her. Many years had she lived in Zurakhul, many deaths had she seen of those who trusted too much, too soon. She held Yoren close, who still quivered at the sight of the man. He buried his face in her arms. "But I keep an eye on you. I don't trust you. If you try to do some funny business, I kill you, elf or no. I have done it before."

Her eyes flickered meaningfully back onto the shore from whence they had come. Though she knew she wouldn't fare well in a fight against this big brute, she was willing to take her chances if he so dared threaten her life or her son's. They had come this far. Freedom was worth fighting for.

She shook her head in response to his next question. "Nobody wait for me, I know nobody on the other side. We did not have time to prepare. There was no way." She looked down at Yoren. Underneath that hard expression, there were grief and pain--barely visible, but still there.

The waves flapped hard against the boat, and with all of their weights put together, the boat seemed to be in danger of sinking. It floated just enough not to, though some of the water had already managed to get in.

"Just take us where there are no people. Safer."



IV.

Khaala frequently ran into some trouble when it came to the nuances of the common tongue. When the elf mentioned people, her eyes widened, and she shook her head at once. As if the mere suggestion of the word triggered a raging beast inside of her.

"No people!" She warned, "Or I let this boat sink."

But of course she wouldn't. With Yoren around, she would take any of her chances. The young boy had already begun scooping up the water and casting it back out to sea, though his hands still shook with a persistent fear.

"If you was not so fat and heavy, this boat still floats!" She gave the elf an accusing glare, as if the fault were his and his alone. But she did as he had told her to anyway, saving themselves from potentially drowning in a watery grave.

When at last they reached the shore, Khaala climbed out to find a horse waiting for them. Just the one. A look of horror dawned upon her face, though not for the reason one might seem to think.

"I will not ride this beast," she said, shaking her head and looking quite pale. She had never ridden a horse in her life. "We walk, elf."

Yoren, on the other hand, seemed quite fascinated by the animal. Some of the fear left his eyes when the horse whinnied upon his touch.



V.

Her son.

Khaala pressed her lips together, visibly annoyed at the elf but at a loss for words to throw back at him. She approached the beast cautiously like some wild animal that could eat her up and swallow her at any moment. The blood seemed to have left her face completely, but she nonetheless attempted to mount the horse. It took several embarrassing attempts, but with each time she kept slipping back onto the ground. When, finally, she thought she had managed to do it, the horse bucked as if in protest. Such was Khaala's surprise that, before she could realize what was happening, she was face first on the ground breathing soil.

Yoren looked amused, and Khaala knew he would be laughing if only the poor boy could speak.

The woman struggled to get back onto her feet, slightly disoriented, wild hair looking wilder than ever before. Then she shot the elf a murderous look as if she dared him to laugh.

"This beast do not want me to ride it," She shook her head, "You first, elf."​
 
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Adrian

Lean Mean Writing Machine
Original poster
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per day
  2. 1-3 posts per week
  3. One post per week
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Preferred Character Gender
  1. No Preferences
Genres
High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, Horror, LGBT+, Steampunk, Comedy, Post-apocalyptic, 80s, Thriller, Modern, Romance, Tragedy, Drama, Space Opera, Political Intrigue, Coming of Age
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GRAHAM OSLIN
45 | Male | 5'9"

Born an orphan, Graham was an easy recruit for the religious cult God's Will. God's Will believed in the reckoning, and that to resist it would be Satan's work. There was an order to the world, they said, an order that was out of humanity's control. As a member of the organization, Graham's job was to patrol their turf and fight against the resistance. Graham did not do this out of a sense of righteousness, but out of a sense of purpose. He was simply a misguided individual, brainwashed to believe that he had no other choice.

But all actions have consequences. One day, Graham was overpowered by a group of civilians, whereupon he was blindfolded and tortured half to death in the name of revenge. In the end, his life was spared, but he was kicked back onto the streets to starve. Graham managed to find his way back to God's Will, but by then they believed him to be a defector. Had Graham failed to escape just in the nick of time, they would have disposed of him.

Escape, however, proved useless. He lay on the streets malnourished, sick, and on the brink of death. He could remember very little from that time, save the pale face of a young girl looking down on him just before he lost all consciousness.

He woke up one day in Regenesis, a humble organization that had science for a religion and logic as its god. GW's sworn enemy. Regenesis' aim was to find Old Tech and get them into working condition again. They said their ancestors had created a technology so great that it would enable humanity to live on as an evolved species, unhindered by disease or mortality.

Graham was stubbornly loyal to God's Will, however. At the same time, he grew fond of Eliza, the young girl who had saved him. He treated her almost like a daughter, but it wasn't enough to change his loyalty and principles.

He sold Regenesis' coordinates in exchange for a pardoning. God's Will promised that only arrests would be made, nothing more. Eliza would be unharmed and placed under Graham's custody. But these were all lies. Regenesis was bombed, and those who had managed to escape--Eliza among them--was gunned down.

When Graham found out about her death, he was consumed by anger and a desire for revenge. Now, he thought about the Old Tech, and the possibility of bringing Eliza back. He was determined to bring her dream to reality, even if it destroyed him.


I.

Sleep was a scarce commodity. Harder to come by than food or an adequate shelter. Day and night blurred together, incoherent. Graham watched every sun set, and it seemed each one was more foreboding than the last. He had lost track of time, but time was nothing now. It was just another number. Another ache in the bones, another crease upon the brow.

Would he ever find them? That, he wondered every day when he was not thinking about Eliza's limp, cold body in his arms. Seldom he thought of anything else these days. It was impossible to think of anything else. Consumed, he was, by sadness and bitter rage. It was what kept him moving forward when the nights grew too dark, when food was scarce, when bloodthirsty savages hunted him down.

Then, one day, he finally found it.

There it was, in its whitewashed unmistakable glory. The facility, detached from the main research grounds, was considered a junkyard of sorts back in the day. A place to store the defective cyborgs before they were destroyed forever. But there were some that remained, untouched over the course of many centuries.

He glanced at the notebook once again, to ascertain he had come to the right place, then slipped it back into his pocket. He entered the establishment. It had been left open.

The place had been searched before, likely by a group of pirates or savages that so often traversed these lands. Parts were littered about; red and blue wires spilled out of an open hand; broken bodies lay in heaps, eyes glassed over and unseeing. Graham picked his way through the wreckage carefully, as if to avoid rousing the sleeping machines. Overhead, vines of green tangled with each other across the ceiling. The place reeked of abandon.

Then, something caught his vision that made him grow very still. For a moment, his lungs seemed to have stopped functioning.

Eliza.

He blinked. No, just another machine.

Graham bent down, staring into the blank canvas of a face, the open yet unseeing eyes, the slits underneath the porcelain skin. Unlike the others, she was still in relatively good condition.

He went to work.

First, he scavenged for the necessary parts and fluids to get the machine into working order again. Then, he started rebuilding her. Minutes stretched to hours, hours stretched to days, days stretched to months. There were several failed attempts. Several false hopes. But his endurance never wavered.

Then, the day came at last...

"Wake up."



II.

The gears began to work. The wires buzzed to life. A minute passed. Two. Graham counted the seconds in his head, hopeful, watchful. A faint blue emanated from the machine, seeping through the artificial slits on its human face. The light grew, grew, grew. Then, all at once, it disappeared.

Graham sighed, believing he had failed again. But just as he was reaching for a cigarette, the machine began to move.

It was a twitch of a limb at first, eerily artificial. Then a sharp intake of breath followed--nothing but a mimicry, but at once familiarly human. Then, its eyes. Where they were glass before, they now took on a life. Emotion warred on the machine's face, as though a soul was trapped in there somewhere, screaming to be let out.

It stood, wobbled, like a child learning how to walk. The artificial limbs sighed underneath its weight. Graham looked on, face devoid of expression, but in his heart of hearts he was relieved. He had succeeded. Now, he could die in peace.

With a flourish that suggested habit, Graham produced a crumpled cigarette and lit it with a match. He remained sitting, as if the sight before him were nothing out of the ordinary, as if it were an every day victory. Acrid smoke billowed from his mouth as he leaned against the wall. Meanwhile, the machine continued to flounder about and look around.

He had all but forgotten its existence when it began to speak. How unnatural it sounded, how clumsy it was. This was supposed to replace their race? Ah, but it was inconsequential now. By the time machines succeed mankind, he would be long gone. He doubted he would remain disturbed in his grave.

The accusations spilled out of the robot's lips, but Graham couldn't care any less. It could believe what it wanted to believe, but his job here was done. It was only when it threatened to kill him that he actually started paying attention.

"Kill me?" He echoed, almost menacingly slow. There was a sort of irony in his voice. Though he had done what Eliza had wanted to do, that didn't mean he still condoned these machines. But then his face relaxed, and he began to laugh a deep, guttural laugh. He took another long drag of his cigarette, letting the stuff burn his nicotine-benumbed lungs. "You want to kill me? I won't stop you, kid. You just let me finish my cigarette. It's long since I had one."

But it did nothing of the sort. It stumbled backwards, convulsed, escaped the now smoke-filled room. For a moment, Graham was left to his devices, but not long after there was a thud.

A long sigh escaped from Graham's lips. Had the machine malfunctioned after all? He pushed himself up from the ground and went outside.

The brightness of daylight pouring out of a window blinded him for a moment. Swearing, he shielded his eyes, then looked around the deserted hallway. There, by the wall, sat the machine, looking much like a child cowering in fright. A frown tugged at Graham's lips. Pity swelled inside him for a brief second, before he pushed it all down, reminding himself that the girl was not a girl, but a machine.

"Look around you, kid. You're in a different time now. Things aren't what they used to be anymore." As he said this, he produced his notebook. There, all her questions would be answered. It detailed the research, the machinery, the intended goal of the entire project. It was Eliza's once. Now, he was giving it to the machine, for the notebook did not belong to him. It never did.

Somewhere in the distance, hidden in the shadows, something stirred ever-watchful.



III.

Its eyes were probing, searching, though a faint glimmer of suspicion still remained. Graham heaved a sigh loud enough to wake the corpses of the machines lying broken in the institution. Somehow, he had not expected the machine to have any questions. After all, they weren't human. And curiosity is a very human thing. He palmed his forehead with his free hand, feeling a fever coming on. He was lacking sleep and in a terrible mood.

"It's probably been years since you were awake," Graham gave a huff, as if he were doing it a huge favor by answering its questions. What seemed like a rat skittered past in the distance, knocking over an empty can. "I don't know who "they" are. I'm only here because I was asked to repair you. A favor for an old friend. There's only you left, or maybe there's more, I don't know. What you do from here is up to you. Do the mission or don't. I don't care."

The cigarette stub fell from his fingers, spent, and he crushed the heel of his boot against it.

"Now, are you done?" This time it was Graham's turn to ask, "You're on your own now."

But as he was turning to leave, it appeared. Graham was loath to call it human, because it almost didn't look human at all. It had grey, grimy flesh, yellow teeth, bloodshot eyes that darted faster than what seemed humanly possible. It was a skinny thing due to undernourishment, and its back was bent, as though borne by the days it had spent its life crouching, waiting, hunting in the dark.

It crept closer.

These things didn't just loot objects like the pirates. They did more than that.

The savage lunged, teeth bared.



IV.

The fear in the machine's voice was palpable, mirroring Graham's own. Before he could act, the savage lunged at him, long grey fingers clawing. Graham ducked, but it wouldn't have saved him from the blow if the machine hadn't stepped in to interfere.

Peeking out from under his raised arm, Graham watched the creature collide against the wall. A loud thud and a simultaneous cracking of ribs echoed in the hall. Graham winced. The creature might have been a savage, but Graham could still feel the pain in its agonized whining. But to help would be suicide. Savages were beyond help. They were insane, ridden with disease, infected beyond what medicine could heal. They wandered around desert plains now, places where there were hardly any civilized life. For they were outcasts. Untouchables. To be touched by a savage was to risk getting infected.

It seemed that this creature was working alone, which was lucky. Savages often traveled in groups, territorial over their land like wild animals.

For now, the sole creature didn't stir.

Graham followed Nova, but it had been a while since he made proper use of his legs, and his bones ached. Running took a toll on his smoker lungs too, so that by the time they reached the outdoors and into safety, he had to stop for a moment to catch his breath.

When, finally, he was breathing right again, he opened his mouth to say something in gratitude, but all that came out instead was:

"You could have just let me die in the hands of that savage. Why didn't you?"



V.

It was the second time that day that Graham found himself caught off-guard--a first in the span of many years. The machine was not only programmed to feel emotions--if emotions were indeed the word for it--but also programmed for sarcasm. The very first hint of a smile quivered on his face, though it was gone as quickly as it appeared. It was almost as if it hadn't even been there in the first place.

They were outside now, and it was just as bleak and terrible as the facility they had came out from. What was once a tall, imposing wall, complete with security cameras and a string of barbed wires along the top was now crawling with moss. The cameras were broken--brown from the many years it had been in disuse, its lenses cracked and unseeing; like dead insects left hanging to die, ruined by the ebb and flow of time and nature's force. The many buildings that surrounded them were also green; the earth overtaking and claiming back its territory. They had jagged holes in them, as if something had chewed parts of the infrastructure away. The concrete had broken off and lay in heaps.

The sight clearly had an effect on the machine. It shivered, moved frantically, glitched. Panic rose within Graham, and only then did he realize, as he watched the machine struggle on the ground, that he couldn't leave it. Not yet. For some cursed reason, this was his fate now. He made a promise to Eliza long ago, and he was going to see it to the full, even if it killed him.

"Come on," he grunted as he bent and put the machine's arm around his neck, "We can't stay here, kid. Gotta go find some place where there aren't any of those crazies around. Maybe we'll find some better parts to fix you up with. Stay with me now."

And with that, he hauled the both of them to safety.



VI.

It might have been a machine, but it definitely acted much in the way a child would. In his head, Graham could tick off all the reasons why he considered this machine, which was supposedly many centuries older than him, to be nothing but a mere child with no real knowledge of the world. Or at least the world as it was now. But he kept his mouth tightly shut. It was hard enough to breathe without talking.

"If you say so, kid," The man grunted, the last word slipping out by force of habit.

When at last they reached a clearing within the depths of a wooded area, Graham collapsed against an oak tree. Its thick, low branches twisted about, moss-covered, like the many arms of a sleeping giant. It was darker here. The blanket of canopies made it feel like another time in another world.

"You have a mouth on you, don't you?" A pause. "It's a long story." And that seemed to be the end of it.

Graham sighed, fingering his pocket for more cigarettes. There were none. He had smoked the last of his batch. It would be a long time before he could replenish the yearning ache in his lungs again.

Something crawled on his arm. He looked down to find a long trail of ants climbing down from his shoulder. Behind him, on the tree trunk, the trail continued. He looked up, and there--small enough to be discreet--was a dark cavity in the wood. Inside, nestled among many other goods, were three bottles of liquor.

For the first time in a long time, Graham laughed.

"Well, lassie, looks like our luck has turned," He said merrily, holding the bottles up as if they were prized trophies. Then, sitting down, he began to drink in gulps.

It wasn't long before the alcohol started to take effect. Graham had had barely any food these past few days.

"I'm only doing this for her, kid. Don't you mistake this for kindness or pity. The last thing I feel for your sort is pity," He found himself saying after a while, made more talkative by the whiskey, "I made a promise. Reactivate you so you can--oh hell, I don't know--make more of your own kind for all I care. Reactivate the others. Start a revolution. Start a new race. One that will outlast mankind, because that's just what you'll do. Replace us." He pointed at her with the other unopened bottle, as though to accuse her of a crime. "That's why I helped you, because of a promise I made a long time ago. So don't you start thinking funny things, kid. This ain't about you."



VII.

Something about this place made him feel on edge. It was too peaceful, too convenient. But in the haze of his insobriety, Graham dismissed the thought as the mere product of paranoia and exhaustion. He took another swig of the bottle. The warmth of booze trickled within him, spreading a feeling of tranquility he had not known in ages. A chuckle came out of him, unbidden. With the stale scent of whiskey upon his breath, he replied:

"Yasee, kiddo, yasee kiddo, thasssexactly whaaaimtalkin' about," The bottle swayed in his hands in an elaborate gesture, "Youaaarenothuman. Not huuuman."

Vaguely, he was aware he was simply repeating himself. But one couldn't trust a drunk to be concise.

For a minute or two, he was alone--finally alone with his thoughts. The world spun around him. Everything seemed surreal. But what calm he had from before was gone now. There was a constant nagging in the back of his head that told him he shouldn't stay here. It frightened him, made the hair on his arms rise. Graham stood, stumbled, then followed the machine.

"Oi, holdonwillyou, man's gottacatchhisbreath," He huffed, once he finally caught up with her, "Cigarettes. Need them." He dared not tell her his real reason for tagging along, even in this drunken state. His pride wouldn't allow it.

It was getting darker now. And if they weren't careful, they could get lost.



VIII.

Everything was spinning.

It was all Graham could do not to trip on his own feet. In his insobriety, he could barely understand what this machine was trying to tell him. If he "lost an arm"? What was she on about? Was she threatening him?

He was so out of sorts that when the machine jabbed its mechanical finger against his chest, he stumbled backwards. The bottle in his hand fell to the ground. Booze spilled out and trickled into the soil. A vague sense of regret hit Graham just then. Whiskey was hard to come by these days. Stupid machine for going and wasting perfectly good alcohol. He could feel an insult growing in his throat, clawing out--

Graham bent over, hands propped on his knees, and out came the word vomit--no, actual vomit. His throat burned. The stench of alcohol assaulted his senses so much his eyes watered. When he felt like he had vomited all the contents of his stomach, he collapsed to the ground, breathing heavily.

"Do whatever you want. I don't care, machine. Yes, that's exactly what you are. A machine," he heaved, eyes closed, as he lay there spread out on the cool grass. "So what? Are you going to kill me now? Go ahead. You think I care? I'll gladly die."

And then he laughed like he hadn't laughed in ages.



IX.

Something stirred atop the trees. A dark shadow--or multiple--amidst leaves and bent branches, peeking out unblinkingly above him. In his drunken daze, Graham could not ascertain how many there were. He didn't need to. The men above had no intention of staying hidden within the safety of the canopies for long. Two men dropped agilely to the ground, just barely missing his head. They were very much human unlike the strangers they had encountered earlier, but there was a haunted look about them. One was an older man, just a head taller than his companion. He was a swarthy fellow, with a dark beard and piercing grey eyes that glinted even in the dark. He looked down at Graham soberly; one would think he looked almost regal, had he not dressed like some leader of a ragtag motorcycle gang. The other was a younger fellow that was likely in his teens; where the other man was abundant with hair, he was quite the opposite. There was a notable lack of hair on his head, making his forehead appear larger than it already was. He had a doe-eyed look to his expression, as if he didn't quite know what he was doing there.

"Ah, that's my money you're puking out, son. And that's my soil you're puking on. Booze ain't easy to come by these days. You wasted my treasures," The man spoke, somehow managing to sound completely audible despite barely moving his lips around the toothpick he had been chewing. "But it don't matter, I'll take this robot as payment," He jerked his head in Nova's direction. "You take what's mine, I take what's yours. Isn't that right, Cal?"

The boy named Cal simply shifted on his feet, looking quite startled at the mention of the word 'robot'. He gave a hesitant grunt of affirmation.

"You're gonna fetch me a hefty price in the market, alright," The man continued, gazing at the girl. From his holster he produced a gun. He didn't raise it nor point it in her direction. He simply held it, as if it were nothing but a mere accessory like the toothpick between his teeth. "I know a lot of folks who'd pay a good price for a working robot like you."



X.

The man in the biker jacket simply regarded Nova like someone's elbow grew a mouth and started talking. Yet soon enough, his expression grew bored. Raising his gun, he laid its steel mouth delicately upon her forehead. Like the cold, imminent kiss of death.

"No!" The apprentice named Cal placed a restraining hand on the man's shoulder. But it seemed almost like the touch had burnt him, for he winced and pulled back almost instantaneously. Meekly, he tried to reason, "The machine could be useful."

In a manner so deliberately slow it chilled the bone, the man turned to look at the young boy. His eyes gleamed and grew wide with warning.

"Of course I won't waste our precious treasure, my boy. What do you take me for, a fool?"

A pause, followed by the click of the safety catch.

Followed by a single shot, resonating in the dark.

Followed by the slick sound of bullet meeting flesh, meeting blood, meeting sinew and bone; and the barely audible whining of a drunken man, barely conscious to register the injury he had just incurred.

For Goliath was never quite a man of talk. He was a man of brute force.

"That's for the other bottle of whiskey, friend," He spat on Graham's supine figure, whose upper thigh had exploded into a river of red. And then he turned to the machine, bringing the gun to her cheek and slamming her with it hard.​
 
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Adrian

Lean Mean Writing Machine
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High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, Horror, LGBT+, Steampunk, Comedy, Post-apocalyptic, 80s, Thriller, Modern, Romance, Tragedy, Drama, Space Opera, Political Intrigue, Coming of Age
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Glyndwr.
All throughout much of his long life, Glyndwr has despised and feared human beings. It all started some fifty years ago when he was no more than twenty years of age. An explorer at heart, with a careless disregard for danger as was common among young seafolk, the merman ventured too near the surface of the ocean, whereupon he was captured by some ruthless fishermen. They tortured him with fire until half of his face melted away. Sheer will drove him to escape back into the ocean the second he saw an opportunity. The last thing he saw before darkness took him was the scarlet red of his own blood as it billowed around him in cloudy plumes.

Since that day, he vowed never to leave the ocean's depths again. Instead, he dedicated his time and energy to learning more about his own world, its rich history, and all the many different creatures that lurk in the abyss. It was difficult in the beginning. Because of his scar, he was ostracized even by his own folk. Strangers would keep their distance out of suspicion, children would call him a monster. But stubbornness kept him going forward, and before long, he entrenched himself into society. He made his way into the inner circles, and then upwards he went to become the royal family's adviser.

It has been more than thirty years since he began serving the royal family. His knowledge of the oceans still runs deep, and his cunning remains unmatched. And yet a part of him wonders if there truly isn't any weight to what the rebels are fighting for. To him, it seems the kingdom can never truly be at peace for as long as humans traverse the oceans, and the rebellion's desire to keep humanfolk at bay appeals to him greatly. The royal family may have treated him well all these years, but it is not enough...

He can still remember the smell of his own burning flesh, as though it only happened yesterday.


Glyndwr had just opened his mouth to respond to the princess' query when the royal guard, Yuval Aquilus, interrupted their exchange. The lack of honorifics in the man's greeting did not go unnoticed.

"Good afternoon," Glyndwr replied as amicably as he could manage. Though with a face that had been half-molten into a permanent sneer, such a feat proved practically impossible. "And how is the sentry faring today, Yuval?" If the other man felt no need to address him with the proper title, Glyndwr did not see why he ought to do the same.

Without waiting for a response, Glyndwr turned to the Princess with a smile. It was a strange sight on the hideous looking man, who never smiled if he could help it.

"Allow me, your Highness," He offered, "I know this palace like the scales of my tail. We should arrive there in no time."​
 

Adrian

Lean Mean Writing Machine
Original poster
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per day
  2. 1-3 posts per week
  3. One post per week
Writing Levels
  1. Give-No-Fucks
Preferred Character Gender
  1. No Preferences
Genres
High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, Horror, LGBT+, Steampunk, Comedy, Post-apocalyptic, 80s, Thriller, Modern, Romance, Tragedy, Drama, Space Opera, Political Intrigue, Coming of Age
oliver greaves.​
It was understood, from the very moment he was born, that Oliver would turn out to be exceptional like the rest of his family. The path to his future was already carved out before he could so much as learn to stand on his own two feet. The Greaves lived on the lap of luxury. They had attained a power so great as the country's most formidable politicians.

And then there was his father, a traveling English merchant, who lived a life completely opposite theirs.

Estranged from his own son and ostracized by his in-laws, the man was hardly ever present, but his numbered visits were always memorable. He would bring home a wealth of little trinkets, wares, and maps retrieved from places far away and exotic. They seemed to possess a magical quality unique to each of them. And when his father would speak of his adventures, Oliver would find himself transfixed, dreaming of a world beyond his wildest imaginations. It was then that he knew, with a passion stronger than anything he had ever felt, what he wanted to be when he grew older.

But time moves forward, and with it dreams fade away. His father's visits became sparse, until he was nothing more than a faint memory. The only proof of his existence were the gifts he had bequeathed to Oliver—gifts that had been stowed away in an attic, where they gathered dust over the years. The dream was forgotten, tucked away into a corner of his mind, as he continued his academic pursuits.

Life continued on as usual.

And then, one day, misfortune struck.

Oliver was eighteen years of age when his uncle was arrested on the charge of extortion. Overnight, the Greaves family went from riches to rags. They fell from the social ladder. The very foundations upon which their life was built, destroyed beyond repair. Shameful and unable to bear the many losses they had incurred, Oliver's mother ended her own life.

It was Oliver himself who found her lifeless body hanging in her room.

Stricken with grief and horror, and with the knowledge that there was nothing left for him in his homeland, Oliver decided to seek out a new life. With nothing but the clothes on his back, a few creased banknotes in his pocket, and a heavy heart torn with sorrow, he embarked on a spontaneous journey. His destination? Everywhere.

APPEARANCE:
Oliver is a tall young fellow. He has a sharp jawline, deep-set eyes, and a lower lip that juts out ever so slightly. For a man without a real home to speak of, he is well-dressed from topper to brass-heeled boots, and walks with an air of refinement—enough that one might easily mistake him for a wealthy and influential gentleman.
 
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