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Immortal; Group Saga
Topic Started: Mar 18 2018, 06:02 AM (193 Views)
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Immortal

The pain was the first thing Cole noticed, lancing through his body like white fire in his veins. He groaned and writhed in his bed as a thousand knives stabbed into his flesh and bones and beneath a deep ache pulsated. Warm hands were on him, calm voices were telling him that everything was going to be okay.

“Squeeze this button dear, and you will start to feel better.” He reached out desperately for the button and squeezed it again and again. The morphine was pumped instantly out from the machine, down the tubes and into his veins.

The pain began to retreat, beaten off by the army of opiates. And with the pain, his consciousness too slipped away, his mind fading in and out of awareness. It was like viewing life through a dirty window, seeing glimpses of shapes and hearing only muffled words. Nothing made sense, he couldn’t piece anything together.

How did I get here? He wondered. Where am I?

Distant memories entered his mind, floating through like feathers in the soft wind. When he tried to reach out and grab them, make sense of them they would flow away, like sand through his fingers.

When the pain was at its worst, his mind would be most clear. Gradually Cole began to push his button less and less, savouring those moments of clarity above all else. The room around him began to take form: the bright overhead lights; the constant beeping of machines; the crisp blue curtains separating the cubicles; patients lying in beds with their mouths open, clinging to life like spiders in a sewer drain; nurses and Doctors bustling back and forth and then beside him the shining face of an angel, his beautiful wife Ella.

Her face beamed back at him, the worry on her face instantly shattered as she saw him open his eyes. She leaped towards him, her hands gripping his puckered and wrinkly face and pulling him into a kiss. “Oh my god! Thank goodness! You’re awake! Can you hear me darling? You’re in the hospital, you’ve been very unwell!” She fussed.

“Yes I can hear you sweetheart,” Colin croaked back, bringing her into his arms. “Where am I?”

“The hospital,” she told him again. “Do you not remember what happened?” Memories began to filter back into his brain. He remembered a bright white room, with lots of green men and a mask pushed tightly over his face.

“I was…” His mind hurt trying to recall the events, but they slipped through the cracks of his mind before he could reach them. “No… I think the last thing I remember was sitting out on the porch with you.” Colin mused for a moment. “It was a warm day, and it was so comfortable out there. I remember walking out on the grass, feeling my bare feet brush against it and watching some Bellbird’s sing to each other in a tree above us.”

“And do you remember anything after that?” He thought for a moment, and then shook his head.

“No, I was standing out under a clear blue sky, and then now I am here,” he said, looking around himself once more. That was when the pain struck him again, like a viper suddenly emerging from its hiding. His body jack-knifed and convulsed as it ripped through his body, like fire burning him from the inside. He groaned and instantly felt and heard people rushing to his side.

“Push the button,” he heard somebody say.

“No..” he croaked, but his voice was drowned out in the commotion. He clung desperately to his consciousness, forcing his eyes to remain open and staring at his beautiful wife. He wanted to savour every moment, lock away those images of her face as the blanket of sedation settled over his vision. Every facet of her was permanently etched in his memory anyway. The grey bunches of curly hair that framed her face which was the shape of a love-heart. Her slender bones and the curves that her body still held even at eighty-five years of age. Finally, it was her smile, made up of crooked white teeth, filling a broad mouth which seemed to stretch across her entire face when she saw him. It was this that filled him with elation and sustained him through those foggy hours, oscillating between excruciating pain and a half-existence. He was stuck in a dream world, where there was no escape and nothing tangible to grasp. Floating through inky darkness where time had no meaning, and the reality was a harsh light filled with pain.

When he finally emerged from the dream world, the pain had lessened somewhat. He could tolerate it. He searched desperately for Ella, but found himself searching an empty room, filled only with the quiet conversation of machines, beeping and humming to each other. Panic took over his cognition, taking the controls of his brain and steering his thoughts to paranoia.

Where am I?! His head snapped back and forth, and he went to try and get out of bed. He swung the blankets off him and let out a scream. Where his legs used to be were only bloody stumps. People in blue came rushing in and pushed him back down.

“Where are my legs!?” He demanded at them.

“Push the Midaz!” Somebody shouted back. Colin was confused, what did Midaz have to do with his legs? Before he could ponder this anymore the shadows creeped back in and he felt himself falling into inky darkness.

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She was there the next time he woke up. She was different somehow. Her smile looked as if it was wrenched onto a face stiff with misery. The bags under her eyes hung heavy with the weight of her grief. The light in her eyes was still there though, shining with that eternal fire of determination that Colin had fallen in love with.

He put his hand out to her, “Ella my dear, it is so good to see you.” Tears began to form in the corner of her eyes, and Colin knew that the dam of her emotional resolve was about to break. He pulled her close to him, ignoring the pain rippling through his body as she began to convulse uncontrollably with the spasms of emotion as they flooded out from her in a torrent. “It’s okay sweety, everything is going to be okay now.”

She tried to speak, but the pain was too much, and every time she tried she was struck with another bout of anguish. “I know, I know,” Colin soothed her, his voice calm. On the inside his heart was breaking like ice under a hammer. He cursed himself for doing this to her.

How could I be so selfish, lying here asleep while she was in emotional torture?

“I’m back now, it’s going to be alright Ella,” this time he told her more defiantly, lifting her chin so that he was looking straight into her deep green eyes. She stared back at him, her eyes wide and unmoving as if seeing her husband for the first time.

He was a shadow of the man he had been. He was once athletic and wiry, a builder by trade with broad shoulders and strong legs. Now he was a sack of bones, with pale skin bunched together over his tiny body.

His moustache had once been a source of immense pride for him. Now it was bushy and unkempt. It appeared to be too large for his face and looked more like a giant rat than a fashionable style of facial hair. His mouth was dry and smelly. He had been taking water mostly through his intravenous line, and so the bacteria had built up in his mouth to form a greasy white film. Ella found herself staring at a man who she wasn’t attracted to anymore. While she could still feel the love burning in her heart she could not bring herself to kiss him. He was sick.

Colin saw this in her eyes, and a wave of sadness washed over him like a tidal wave. Sweeping him up and sending him tumbling into an abyss of anxiety. “What’s wrong?” He asked, emotion cracking his voice as his mind jumped to the worst possible conclusion.

“It’s just so hard seeing you like this,” Ella lowered her gaze and started fiddling with the blanket. “I’ve been so worried.”

“I know.” He put out his hand to her. “Everything is going to be fine, I promise.”

She looked up, her eyes staring directly into his soul. She didn’t say anything, but he could tell that she didn’t believe him. Is everything going to be okay? He wondered, the realization dawning on him for the first time.

“Ella, what happened to me?”

Her eyes were back down again, fixated on the blanket she spiralled it between her fingers. “You were out in the garden, standing up and watching the clouds drift by,” she sniffed, and Colin realized that she was crying. The tears rolled down her face, falling undisturbed to the bed. “Your were smiling, and then suddenly your face changed. I had to look behind myself, it looked like you had just seen something horrible coming. It made me scared. And then you went so pale, as if a ghost had just moved its way into you. You clutched your stomach and collapsed.” The tears were running uncontrollably now, and her body was heaving in great big sobs. The people in the other beds stared at her, watching the horror and pain as if they were watching through a window. Colin pulled her into his arms, using all his remaining strength. He held her there, stroking her head until eventually her sobs softened, and the tears had all dried up.

They lay there together for an hour, enjoying the warmth of each other’s bodies and savouring the first taste of intimacy they had shared in days.

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The next day the Doctors came. They appeared at the foot of his bed so suddenly it was as if they appeared out of mid-air. There were lots of them, all dressed smartly. They huddled around his bed and pulled the curtain. A man Colin didn’t recognize walked up to the head of the bed and then turned and began to address his audience. He spoke quickly, using words which sounded as if from another language. Occasionally he would look at Colin and smile as if this were somehow including him in the conversation. He kept referring to Colin as ‘the patient’ or sometimes as ‘The Aneurysm’. Colin had no idea what this even meant. As soon as they had arrived, they were gone, the curtains were open again, and he was no closer to finding out what was going on.

He lay there in bed, breathing in the stuffy surrounding air and, his mind whirling around and around with the possibilities of what might be going on. He saw a nurse walk past, and he called out to her. She turned, smiling back at him. “Can I help you with something Mr Simpson?”

“Can you please tell me what has happened to me? And what is going to happen to me?”

The smiled sat transfixed on her face as she talked through it. “I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for the Doctors, Mr Simpson,” she droned.

“Please!” His voice cracked, the desperation breaking through. “I just woke up here, am I going to be okay?”

He could see the indecision in her eyes now, his pleading was breaking through her resolve. “Listen I’m not allowed to explain stuff like this, you could get me in big trouble,” her voice was now a hushed whisper.

“Please, am I dying?”

“Yes.” That one word was like a knife being driven down into his heart.

“Thank you,” he whispered, placing one hand on her own and giving it a soft squeeze. She hurried out of the room, leaving Colin to slump back into his bed. He was filled with an intense and inescapable despair. It was all so sudden, and so final. The thought of himself no longer existing was a bleak one, but the focus of his mind was on his wife Ella. The image of her crying over his grave played in his mind again and again. He imagined her face contorting as the tears flowed from her, and in no reality did he ever imagine her recovering from this. In his mind, she lay in bed, tossing throughout the night and dozing throughout the day. Her life becoming one grey blur, absent of any hope or future.

When Ella eventually arrived, Colin had worked himself up into a state. He dragged her into his arms and held her there tightly. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” he repeated it again and again. The force of his outburst triggered her sadness all over again, and they cried together.

“It’s not your fault,” she told him. “You have no reason to be sorry.”

“I don’t want to leave you all by yourself!” He spluttered through his tears. “I am so sorry I am doing this to you!”

She pulled away from him and grasped his face with both hands. “You have nothing to be sorry about Colin! I love you with all my heart, but you are the one in hospital and you should not be worrying yourself with what will happen to me.”

“But… are you going to be okay?”

She sighed. “That is in the future, we should be focusing on the present.” Her voice was even and calm. The tiny woman was demonstrating her resolve, and it was as hard as steel.

“Okay,” Colin conceded. “Do you know more about what’s happening to me?”

“Well,” she looked up, taking another deep breath. “You had an aneurysm, like a big balloon in one of your large vessels in your stomach. It burst, and you almost lost all of your blood, as well as stopping the blood from getting to your legs. They managed to patch you up, and stop the bleeding, but they found more aneurysms on a scan. These ones are much closer to your heart, and they say much more difficult to fix. Actually they’ve refused to try.”

“So that’s it then?” The emotion in Colin’s voice was raw.

“No,” Ella looked him in the eyes again. “I’ve been doing some research. There are people who can do amazing things, experimental stuff. I want you to try it.”

“I’ll do anything if it gives me a chance to spend more time with you.”


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Home life had been a tough adjustment. Colin had until recently been completely independent, and now he was an amputee, stuck in a wheelchair. His arms had atrophied since being in hospital too. Once upon a time he could do a hundred push ups and fifty chin ups, but now his arms were useless sacks of jelly. Trying to manoeuvre himself in and out of his chair was exhausting for him, and often he couldn’t do it. This put a lot of the brunt of it on Ella, who was no athlete herself.

Once of twice the new daily routine ended in a bitter argument, something that the two hadn’t shared in almost fourty years of marriage. Their relationship was cracking like a rubber band under tension. Colin was worried it might snap.

Not only were the practicalities a problem, but now Ella had to stay home most of the day. All the things they used to love sharing together were gone. Long walks in the park, swimming at the pool, a visit to the library to find books had all become difficult. Not impossible but very tough with the state Colin was in.

There were some things they could still do: Listen to music together, enjoy a cup of tea out on the porch and read the newspaper together. These things they found immeasurable amounts of joy in, and it was these things that Ella had sorely missed when Colin went into hospital.

This morning started like any other. They woke as their old bodies instructed, rising with the sun. Ella got up first and had herself a shower and went to the toilet. When she was ready she returned for Colin, who lay staring at the ceiling. With immense difficulty they managed to dress him and put him in his wheel chair, tucking the excess pant legs beneath his stumps. He didn’t have a shower that day, they both had very quickly run out of the energy for a wash and so instead Colin used wipes to keep himself sanitary.

Ella would then prepare breakfast, which off their budget limited them to cereal and milk. When they were both working and able they could afford luxuries such as yoghurt, dried fruits and smoothies, but now they were limited to the bare necessities of life and it reflected in their levels of enthusiasm as they started the day.

It was cold outside at this time of year. The frost had settled in the dead of night and now salted the lawn in a thin white crust. Colin felt an immeasurable desire to stand up and walk out into the cold winter’s morning, feel the ice crush beneath his feet and breathe in that fresh air. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t do anything in this chair.

After breakfast they ventured out into the cold morning, bundling Colin up into the car and putting his wheelchair in the back. Both were exhausted by the time they sat down in their seats. Colin usually drove, he loved driving and Ella had always hated it. But now he couldn’t and so his dear wife had to step up to the task.

It made her nervous driving, especially on frosty days like this. If you touched the brake slightly too hard it would send you careening off the road, down a bank or into a parked car. It made it much harder, because nobody else was nervous. They drove in conditions like this every day, and so they flew along, speeding through intersections and overtaking other vehicles. Ella sat at twenty kilometres an hour, leaning close to the windscreen, her knuckles white on the steering wheel.

Colin saw all of this. He was anxious too. Since he had always been the driver, he found it hard to just sit back and relax. Every time a car came remotely close, Colin would be watching from the passenger seat and feel his foot push down on the floor, as if pushing down on the brake. An invisible foot pushing on an invisible brake. The old man would have laughed at that before.

After two hours of driving, they finally arrived at the large chrome building. It was dark an ominous in the clear morning light. It towered over them, as if it were a giant beast ready to devour them. At the entrance to its mouth read “Gero Health and Technologies” and then a slogan “All for one, and one for all.” Colin wasn’t sure what this last part meant.

Ella pushed her husband through the sliding glass doors, and instantly they were buffeted by the warmth of a powerful heat pump, blasting over them as the walked inside. It was a relief, and this small feeling of pleasure caused them both to break out in a smile as they gazed around the foyer.

The foyer’s walls stretched as high as the building itself. Filling that great space was a complex and intertwined set of staircases. It must have been a hundred stories high. Colin was taken aback in awe. Ahead of them was a marble reception desk, stretching around in a huge semi-circular arc. The polished woman sat behind the desk, beaming at them with beacon-like smiles.

“Welcome Mr and Mrs Lithe,” she spoke to them. Ella and Colin looke at each other, both wondering how this woman could have known who they were. “We’ve been expecting you and are very grateful for your visit with us today.” Her voice was enchanting, Colin wanted her to keep talking.

“Uhhh…” Colin stumbled. “Thanks.”

Ignoring his bumble of words she beamed again. “Welcome again to Gero’s Health and Technologies, the cutting edge of health and technology all over the world.” Her smiled seemed to stretch even wider. “You are booked in to see Dr Husfeld on the fifty-fifth floor.” She extended her hand out to a tall man in a dark suit. “Please follow Mr Banks, he will take you there.”

Mr Banks was a stark and silent contrast to the glowing receptionist. They entered a large elevator, large enough for a patient bed and several staff members. The elevator accelerated smoothly and evenly, covering the fifty-five floors in a matter of seconds. It was so smooth it felt as if they weren’t moving at all.

They enter out into another small foyer with a reception desk. The lady behind the counter wore a tight blonde pony tail and bright red lipstick. As soon as she saw them her face erupted into a smile. “Welcome Mr and Mrs Lithe!” She exclaimed.

God, how much do they pay these people? Colin’s cynical voice sounded inside his head.

“Thank you, Mr. Banks,” the receptionist said. “I can take it from here.” The silent concierge stalked away, his long legs carrying him into the elevator behind them. “This is the Neuro Transplant Ward, please take a seat and Dr Husfeld will be with you shortly.”

Ella wheeled Colin over to a spot beside a row of benches. They sat there together, absently gazing at the white polished walls, floors and ceilings while each of their minds collectively whirred. It was an anxious day. Colin was about to go under the knife, to try a surgery that many Doctors had not even heard of. It was a risky procedure, but they were pushed along by the confidence of the organization.

They were not kept waiting long. Dr Husfeld bustled out in his knee-length white coat. He was a short man, with small pudgy hands, balding and oiled jet-black hair and a thin black moustache. His eyes were intelligent and mischievous, darting about the room and eventually locking eyes with the couple. Colin instantly didn’t like him, but greeted him with a nervous smile anyway.

The Surgeon stuck out his hand and Colin grasped it, practically engulfing the Doctor’s stubby palm. “Good morning Mr and Mrs. Lithe,” he greeted them, his voice a whine. “Welcome to our institution!”

“Thank you Dr Husfeld, is it?” Colin asked, his voice almost breaking from the stress.

“Yes, that’s me, I’m the Leader behind this division of the company,” he stated proudly. “I can imagine you are quite nervous, but please follow me to my office and I hope that I can put your mind at ease.”

His office was massive, with a large window overlooking the cityscape. It was a beautiful view, part and parcel to a beautiful and polished office. The company wasted no money on the aesthetics of the building. The Doctor sat himself down behind a spotless class desk, with his back to the window. He indicated to a set of chairs in front of the desk, which lay between them like a big glass wall.

“So,” he held out his hands when they had found somewhere to sit. “You are here for surgery, no?”

“Well,” Colin began. “I want to here more about this. Not just the buffed-up promises, but actual statistics and probabilities. I want to know everything that you know.”

The small man nodded and smiled, seemingly happy to talk some more about himself and his operation. “Okay,” he started. “I’ll start right at the beginning. When I was just a young and budding Neurosurgeon I became obsessed with the idea of a transplant. You see it’s not often that a Surgeon in my field gets to deal with people of sound mental acuity. Usually we deal with traumatic brain injuries and various types of dementia. So, I wanted to venture into a field where I could take people with healthy brains and unhealthy bodies, and give them some hope!” He beamed, awaiting their praise.

Colin smiled back at him and nodded, urging him to continue. “How much detail would you like Mr and Mrs Lithe?” The surgeon questioned.

“Every single detail.”

“Okay, so the basis of the surgery is that we need to take out the patient’s entire Central Nervous system. This sounds complicated, but it is actually even more complicated than you can possibly imagine. The brain is relatively easy to remove from the skull. It is essentially just picked in a jar and you need to pluck it out. It is all of its infinite connections to the Peripheral Nervous system, or your nerves that make it difficult. So, we had to draw the line somewhere right? We can’t go out and dissect every nerve in the body out of someone. Well I could, but then we’d have to put them back in, and no surgeon is that dexterous.”

“Okay, so where do you draw the line?”

“Well initially we were trying to preserve as many nerves as possible, but after some… mixed results we found there was a significant loss of function. So, what we’ve done instead is to do away with the entire peripheral nervous system and make our own!” He exclaimed, growing visibly excited. “The nerves of your body are essentially just fancy wiring, carrying electricity from one place to the other. So, when we take out the brain and spinal cord, we meticulously mark every incision with the peripheral nerves with microscopic tags, which are automatically fed into a state of the art database. Then we place your CNS inside of a new avatar, designed to be just like your old body. We reconnect the nerves one at a time, taking extreme care to connect the right nerves to right entrances and exits, using our computer system to help us. The result being that when your brain generates an electrical signal, it travels down your spinal cord, into its corresponding wire and synapses where it is supposed to.”

“So, you’re going to make me into some kind of cyborg?” Colin was dismayed, and it showed in his face.

“Well…” Husfeld seemed flustered now. “Yes, actually. Yet it is not as terrible as it may sound. Your body will be printed, exactly the same as it is now. You won’t have any internal organs, just machine parts, but your skin will still be skin and you will look and feel exactly like you did when you were a healthy young buck.”

“What about other stuff?”

“Other stuff?”

“Yeah,” Colin insisted. “Like tasting food, drinking beer, having sex, feeling a rush after going for a run.”

“Ahhhh, yes,” Husfeld looked up to the ceiling. “You mean the intangibles… those are experiences we have not quite got the grasp of yet. These are complex things, but soon we will manage to do even that, so that the cyborgs and humans are indistinguishable from each other!”

Colin looked over at his wife, who had her eyes down and was trembling. “I think I need to speak to my wife alone if you don’t mind, Doctor,” Colin urged.

“Yes, yes certainly, a lot to take in I can imagine.” He said reassuringly. “One more thing though before you think this over. We have had several very successful operations completed already. Please watch this video.” He walked over to the side of his room and switched on a plasma screen TV.

An image of a bedbound man leaped to the screen. He was young, but looked defeated. His body was limp and lifeless as his eyes scanned around the room. Dr Husfeld was there speaking to him. The image cut out, and suddenly the man was back, looking much the same but newer. He looked like a movie star, artificially touched up to glow more brightly. He was standing now, flexing his hands. Colin watched as the slender man walked over to a bench press in the corner. He tentatively put ten kilo weights on either side, lay down and easily moved the bar. The video began to speed up, the young man adding more and more weights until there was over three hundred kilo on the bar. It bowed as he lifted it off the rack, bending with the sheer weight. The man moved it up and down effortlessly, laughing as he did so.

Suddenly another man was on the screen, waddling back and forth across the room. He had gnarled twisted joints, and a waddling gait suggesting both his hips were practically frozen with arthritis. The next image was of him down at the athletics track. He was wearing sports clothing, which looked a touch ridiculous on a man of probably eighty years. He took off sprinting, moving like a blur as he covered the hundred meters in what must have been only a few seconds.

More and more men and woman appeared on the screen, each just as astounding as the last. Colin sat there mesmerized, feeling as if he were watching a movie, so fantastic that it just couldn’t be believable. When the short film finished, Husfeld turned and smiled at them, knowing he had just played his trump card.

“I understand you have a lot to think about, there is a family room where you may take as much time as you need. Follow me.”

The family room was complete with a brand-new kitchen, plush cream-leather couches and a large plasma screen TV. Ella wheeled Colin over to the couch and plonked herself down in its cushy embrace. Her husband badly wanted to sit beside her and hold her, but he was stuck in the harsh metal frame of his chair. He wheeled himself so that he was stump to knee with her and grabbed her hands.

“You’re upset,” he said, squeezing her.

“It just doesn’t seem real!” She exclaimed.

“I know… I feel like I’m in some sort of dream,” Colin admitted. “I’m not sure what our other option is though.”

“They make it look so grand, but I am so scared!”

“I am too,” her husband replied. “I am worried that I won’t be the same, that I won’t be able to do any of the things that I used to. But what other choice is there? I can’t do anything anymore, I am too weak to recover from this. Even if I could get some semblance of my life back there is a ticking time bomb in my belly, and it is going to go off soon.” Colin took her hand again. “I know how hard this has all been for you. I don’t want to put you through it any longer. At least this way we make a decision. No more waiting. I’ll either get better or I won’t.”

The decisiveness of this seemed to appeal to Ella, as with that final statement her face lifted up and her eyes glowed. “Whatever happens,” she said, her voice strong and clear. “I will always love you.” Colin pulled her forward and into his arms. She clutched his wasting body and knew that they had made the right decision.


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The rest of the day was devoted to a variety of assessments with the boundless technology the Organization had at its disposal. Colin was scanned from head to toe, in an MRI machine so powerful it could analyse the structure of his body to the nearest millimetre. This information was fed into a computer which made a perfect three-dimensional image of his body, its blood vessels and nerve supplies. Various contrasts were injected into his veins at different phases of the scan, this allowed them to map certain things much more accurately. So when you were looking at the final image you could take away layers, so for instance you were only looking at the circulatory system, illuminated by radioactive dye.

Colin was astounded at the end result and couldn’t pull himself away from the screen as he scrolled through the structure of his body. Repeatedly he looked at the huge aneurysm buried in his abdominal aorta. It was gigantic, pulsing with every beat of his heart, ready to burst at the slightest inclination. Every beat of his heart further solidified in his mind that he was making the right decision.

In-between tests the couple were treated like royalty. Put up in a large room with an ensuite, spa bath with terrific views over the city and a plasma screen TV. They had a personal chef allocated to them, who could construct any delicacy they desired at a moment’s notice. The lived like a crippled king and queen, lounging about and occasionally being shipped off for another scan or test.

Ella was in heaven. Relative to what she had been going through the weeks preceding this was paradise. Now she didn’t have to worry about caring for Colin, he had his own carers. She was stuck in a bubble here, where she could eat anything she liked and enjoy the finer things in life. Soon she had forgotten about the penultimate moment of Colin’s surgery and was walking around her suite with a perpetual grin on her face.

Colin was also enjoying himself, and not just because of the pampering. He was excited about the operation. The video had mesmerized him. He was going to become almost superhuman. Not just young again, but even stronger and faster than he had ever been. He would daydream constantly, imagining himself as an Olympic athlete, or a crime-fighting vigilante. He would leap from building to building, beating bad guys to a pulp and becoming the hero of the world. Colin didn’t mention any of this to his wife, he knew it would upset her to think of him becoming a robot. That side of things irked him a little as well. As he tucked into his lavish food and drink he wondered how much he would miss this sort of thing. He wouldn’t be hungry any more, so maybe he wouldn’t even notice it. He had always hated going to sleep too, and so he was almost looking forward to all the time he would have up his sleeve while his dearest slept.

His mind was also put at ease by watching Ella relax into the suite. Nothing gave him more pleasure, or more anxiety than her emotions. Having her busy and happy was all he could ever want, and this too drove his motivation as he subjected himself to test after test, needle after needle. He was as determined as he ever could be.

The day of the surgery came by, and the nerves of the couple were at an all time high. They had both woken early that morning, getting ready prematurely and waiting in earnest for the time to come. They sat in front of the TV, watching the news but not taking anything in. They held hands but didn’t feel it. Their minds were whirling, their bodies in flight mode.

When the time finally came, suddenly they erupted, savouring every moment together. They told each other repeatedly how much they loved each other. Colin kissed every inch of Ella’s face. He wanted to imprint the feeling in his memory forever. Win or lose they both knew that things wouldn’t be the same again, and so they held each other so tight, trying to remember the smells, feelings, tastes and sounds.

A nurse came by, beaming with a bright smile and wheeled Colin away, leaving Ella alone in a room that now seemed dark and filled with shadows. She paced the room, beginning one task and soon dropping it. No TV show would satisfy, no music she found relaxing. She called the chef and asked him to make her a medium rare steak with buffalo chips and mushroom sauce. It came within half an hour. It looked and smelled delicious, but she found the taste was blunted. She tried to block out everything else and concentrate solely on the meat, but all she could think about was her husband lying under the knife. He would be asleep by now, a tube down his throat and a machine breathing for him, drugs keeping his vessels constricted and his heart beating.

Ella had been a nurse, many years ago. During her training she did a stint in theatre. She was horrified to see the patient lying there lifeless, practically dead while the surgeons hacked away with their scalpels. It made her shiver to think of someone lying there unresponsive as a razor sharp knife dived down into their organs.

Will he come out of this alive? Will he be the same? Will he be my sweet and gentle Colin? The questions whirled around in her head until she slammed her hand onto the nurse’s bell. A nurse arrived within a few minutes, looking quizzically at her.

“Can I help you maam?”

“Yes, please I need something to help with the anxiety.”

“One moment.” The request was obviously not an unusual one. The nurse returned with a small plastic pottle, filled with a variety of pills. Ella took it and knocked it back without any water. “You better lie down,” the nurse urged, leading the elderly woman to her bed. “Just lay here and relax.”

She closed her eyes and began to count to ten, hoping this would focus her mind and relax her. By the time she reached seven, she was already asleep.

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Colin will never forget the moment when he awoke in his new body. It was a stark contrast to his previous surgery, where he had woken groggy, confused and in blinding pain. Now his mind was sharp and clear, free of the sedatives and narcotics that human bodies relied on to keep them anaesthetized. He felt no pain. He sat up and began to move his arms and legs, half expecting the stabbing pain he got in most of his joints. It was gone. He could move freely. He swept the covers off of his legs and laughed aloud when he saw his feet there. They were the same short legs that had always been his own. He wiggled the toes, almost in disbelief that his legs were back. He was suddenly filled with an overwhelming urge to move. It was an unstoppable energy that built up and filled his entire body. The cyborg leaped from the bed, landing on the balls of his feet. He took off, sprinting out of the room and down the hallway.

“I’m fixed! I’m fixed! I’m fixed!” He ran as fast as he could, a blur in a white hospital gown, open at the back for anyone to see his bare bottom. Colin sprinted and sprinted and sprinted. Running up and down stairs, leaping from hallway to hallway. His legs felt so strong, and his spirit even stronger. He had no idea where he was going, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to move.

Meanwhile his elated wife Ella had just heard the news, and was groggily being escorted to go and see him. She walked into the hospital room, a smile stretched across her tired face, reading to stay with her darling husband until he woke up. What she found was an empty bed, the covers strewn all over the floor. “Oh my god,” she put her hand to her mouth. “What has happened?”

The nurse put a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t worry dear,” she laughed. “This actually happens all the time.”

“What happens?!” She demanded.

“Well… when they wake up, they feel so good ya’ know? They’ve gone from being practically paralyzed to super athletes. They just must move ya’ know?”

“So where is he then?” Ella insisted again, feeling irritated.

“Well he can’t have gotten off this floor or the stairwell. All the doors are locked. So he’s most likely running up and down the entire height of the building,” she laughed again. “How about you just wait here? He’ll settle down soon.”

Ella let herself be ushered to a plush chair beside the hospital bed. She sank down into it, burying her head in the soft pillows. The woman still felt groggy from all those pills she had taken and had soon sunk into a deep sleep.

Colin was just reaching the hundredth floor of the building as Ella was drifting back down to sleep. He reached for the door handle, only to find it locked. He pulled on it vigorously, anxious to get outside and smell the fresh air for the first time in his new body. It wouldn’t budge. The Android began punching numbers into the code panel. It required a four digit code, and he guessed repeatedly until it eventually locked him out. I’ll just have to try another floor. The Android took off, flying down the stairs a flight at a time. He leaped down, skipping every stair and landed lightly at each landing. He felt like a jungle cat he was so agile.

In a matter of minutes, he was at the bottom of the fire escape, and the door was unlocked. Colin walked forwards, and reached for the handle, when suddenly the door flew upon and out stepped Mr Banks. His face was grim. “Mr Lithe, please return to your room,” the huge man commanded in a droning voice.

The born-again man was full of energy and newfound confidence. “Get out of my way sonny, I’m going out to smell the fresh air out there!”

“Final warning, you must return to your room immediately.”

Colin made to push past the large security guard, but suddenly found himself violently pushed backwards. The man had incredible strength, stronger than any man he had ever seen. “Hey!” Colin’s voice rose. “Don’t you push me!” He was filled with an anger and strength that he had never possessed before in his life. He stepped forward to the guard, who reached into his pocket. Colin froze, expecting a gun to emerge from a holster. Instead a small remote control came out in the gigantic hand. He pushed a button and suddenly the android was filled with the most excruciating pain he had ever experienced. It was if scalding hots knives were being stapped repeatedly into every millimetre of his body, inside and out. If you then electrified those knives with fifty-thousand volts, that’s what it would have felt like. Every nerve ending in Colin’s new artificial body was suddenly stimulated to tell his brain he was in pain.

The elderly man collapsed to the floor, writhing in pain! “Stop, stop!” As soon as it had started, it stopped, and the pain was gone, as if it had never been there. Colin got to his feet and glared at Mr Banks, who still stood motionless, with his hand poised over the button. Grudgingly the old man turned away and made his way back up the stairs to his room. By the time he had reached the floor of Neurosurgery, he had pushed the irritation from his mind. He supposed it was fair enough that he wasn’t allowed out. He had just received state of the art surgery for free, they probably didn’t want him going out there and destroying it all.

What did play on his mind though was how Mr Banks had caused that horrible pain. It had obviously been when he had pushed the button, but was it like a tazer? Or was he wearing some sort of electric collar or something? The Android quickly searched himself, looking for a device that might be responsible for the shock, but he couldn’t find it. A deep and unyielding worry soon settled over Colin. It was somewhere inside of him.

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Ella was awoken by somebody gently shaking her shoulder. She managed to wrench herself from sleep and crank upon her eyes. She looked up to find her husband crouching in front of her, a broad smile playing across his face. He looked different somehow. His face glowed with life, as if he had just had his make up done. His teeth seemed whiter than before, making his smile beam out at her like a beacon.

She sprang from her seat and launched herself into his arms, burying herself into his arms. He smelled different but hugging him felt the same, except he felt ten years younger. His shoulders and back were broad and sinewy, like when he was a builder. She could feel his muscles ripple beneath her hands as she held him and the strength in his and he held her.

Colin picked her up as effortlessly as he had done on their wedding day, fourty years ago. He lifted her into his arms and kissed her, his moustache tickling her upper lip. His kiss was soft. She opened her mouth slightly and felt his tongue, like they used to do when they were young. Ella was shocked. How could they make a tongue so real like this? It felt good, and she kept kissing him, suddenly feeling a warmth growing inside of her that had long been dormant. Her hands began to slide along his body, exploring it, as if for the first time. She noticed him respond, his hands moving to her breasts, which had passed their prime thirty years ago. He didn’t seem to mind, as his hand slipped beneath her blouse while he held her aloft with one arm.

Her husband began to carry her back to the bedroom. He closed and locked the door behind them and placed Ella gently on the bed. He began to kiss her all over, undressing her, the passion inside of him quickening. He couldn’t believe it, it was working, he was still a man!

Ella began to undress him too, marvelling at his new body as she went. When they were both naked, she pulled him inside. It was the first time they had made love in ten years. But now they felt virile, like teenagers. She clutched him closer, breathing in his new smell and panting as he brought her to climax and together they finished and lay in each other’s arms. Ella lay there, breathing hard and exhausted. While Colin just lay back and smiled as he stroked her arm.

“I can’t believe,” he finally spoke after Ella had recovered. “I can’t believe we can do that again!”

“I didn’t even think I could either! It’s a miracle!” She exclaimed. “I feel like I must be dreaming… this is all just too good to be true.”

“You’re telling me,” Colin laughed. “I just ran up and down one hundred and fifty flights of stairs and didn’t even break a sweat. I feel better than I ever have!”

“I am so happy for you,” his wife cooed. “I am so happy to have my husband back!” She squeezed him tightly, and her hand began to drift back down his stomach and in-between his legs. Colin just laughed and rolled her over, as if she was as light as pillow.

They didn’t sleep that night. They loved each other with the warmth of their rekindled passion and made love like they had done fifty years ago, when they had first met in high school.
The couple greeted the rising sun with smiles as wide as the huge suite they stayed in. They knew they wouldn’t be leaving yet, but the pair were still itching to get out there and start living their lives. Colin could barely sit still as he watched the sun rise up from the horizon. He began to shift impatiently from foot to foot.

“I just want to go and run to that sun and keep running till I catch it!” Her husband declared.

“Goodness me, you sound like a child!” Ella replied, a smile on her face. “Now, what shall we ask the chef for today? Eggs, french toast, bacon, ciabatta buns, granola, smoothes, mushrooms, avocado?”

“All of the above!” Colin exclaimed. In truth he had no appetite at all. But the food sounded delicious. When it arrived, they both tucked into it voraciously. Ella busied herself with a huge pile of poached eggs, crispy bacon and avocado on a Turkish loaf while Colin began on the French toast and pancakes. He had always had the sweet tooth. His first bite was a disappointment. He could detect that there was sugar in the food he tasted, but other than that he couldn’t tell much more about the food. For instance he had no idea whether he had pancakes or French toast in his mouth.

“This doesn’t taste like much,” the Android frowned.

Ella looked up from her meal, her mouth stuffed full of food. “Mmmtry somph bacen!” She mumbled, gesturing down to the pile of bacon in the middle of the table. Without shame Colin reached out and grabbed at the savoury treat and stuffed a whole handful into his mouth. It was instantly filled with a feeling of warmth and the taste of oil and salt. It was as if he had opened his mouth and literally poured olive oil and table salt in. It was not a nice taste, and he couldn’t help but spit it out. His wife looked at him in horror.

“No good?” Her mouth curled down, looking at the expression of sadness on his face.

Colin looked up at her and noting her distress he wrenched his face into a smile. “No, but it’s a small price to pay to sit here with my darling love.”

She returned his smile, filling Colin with that familiar sense of warmth. “Do you mind if I…?”

“Of course not dear! You eat to your heart’s content! I might grab the mornings paper.”

After Ella had finished breakfast and the staff had come to clear the dishes they settled in to wait for the Doctor to summon them. It was still early but they were unsettled and impatient. While they loved it here in the hotel they wanted to get outside after spending so many days in here. Colin especially wanted to get out there and test out his new body. Instead they contented themselves with a hot bath. It was a large tub, big enough for both of them to easily spread out. They sat there side by side, looking out the window to the city sprawling away before them. In that moment Colin felt like a god, living in absolute luxury with what felt like extreme power atop of this massive tower. It felt great. He felt elated.

Ella was beginning to feel the effects of the sleepless night, and was starting to yawn every few minutes as they looked out at the view.

“Did I tire you out?” Colin winked at her and gave her a nudge.
“Yeah,” she agreed. “I’m absolutely exhausted. You?”

“Not at all,” Colin boasted. “I feel like I’ve just had twelve hours sleep and five shots of coffee.”

“Well, I’m off for a nap anyway,” she told him, starting to climb out of the bath. “Try be quiet please hun.” Colin reached out and began to pull her back in, clutching at her and running his hands over her naked body. “Colin! No! Have you not had enough your animal?”

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get enough of you!”

“Well I’m very flattered, but you’ve worn me out,” her voice was slightly tense as she tried to pull away from him.

“Aww come on Ella, just once more?” He was still pulling her back, his hands moving down between her legs.

“No!” She slapped his hand away, hard. Colin instantly released her and let her stomp away and out of the bathroom. She returned soon after dried and wrapped in a towel. “I’m sorry honey, you were just being a bit assertive with me you know? I’m not used to you being like that.”

“I’m sorry to dear, I won’t do it again,” he reassured her. “Enjoy your nap.” Colin sank deeper into the bath. He wanted to be out there among the people of the city. He had so much energy and nothing to sink it into. He lay there, feeling like his body was a coiled up spring as he tried to enjoy the warmth of the water.

Eventually he gave up, got up and dried himself off. Quietly he slipped out from the room, dressed in his old corduroy pants and a flannel shirt with his slippers. Closing the door quietly behind him he took off at a run, sprinting down the corridor and out into the emergency stairwell. He ran up and down the stairs, extending his stride out further and further into he was vaulting up entire landings. At the top of the building he would do a hundred push ups and then he would run back down. Each time he reached the ground floor he would look longingly at the door, but turn around and come back up. The electric pain Mr Banks had dealt him was still fresh in his mind. He didn’t want to go through that again.

After running up and down the stairs for almost an hour and doing hundreds of push ups Colin began to feel tired. It wasn’t the kind of huffing, puffing and sore legs that he used to get. It was more like a general fatigue. He welcomed it, it made him feel more normal again.

When he returned to his room, Ella was still asleep. He slipped quietly into the bed beside her and lay there watching her. She was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He watched the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed, and the gentle throb of her heart as it beat against her chest. Eventually he closed his eyes, willing sleep to take over. He lay there for an hour, relaxing in the bed. While he enjoyed the warmth and closeness to Ella, he didn’t fall asleep. He never even came close.

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Prologue

The city stretched out beneath the light of the sun, which illuminated the buildings in a golden glow. It was a picture of warmth, and bustled with activity like an ant hill. A complex network of streets flowed beautiful across the cityscape, seamlessly connecting region to region. It was a city planned from its very conception to be a behemoth, built on the back of a rock solid and everlasting economy. Wealth of this kind is only ever built off one thing. It is constructed brick by brick on the backs of poverty. This is the economy of the universe. For centuries people have tried to make gold through a chemistry, trying a vast concoction of different combinations. Little did the know the secret was not in science, but in war. From the very moment the Universe exploded out from the microns of dust it began. Species versus species, culture versus culture. The winner would laud wealth and status over the loser for generations upon generations, until it was forgotten that there ever was a battle. It was assumed by the forebears that it was just the way it is. That they are special, that their race is the best. It is through all of this that the mighty Saiyan Empire began.

Like any species the beginning was primal. There were thousands of tribes spread across the planet Vegeta. They littered the harsh landscape, fighting each other over the scarce resources their planet had to offer. Evolution is due to the proliferation of certain genetics over multiple generations. The genetics are a result of chance mutations and the result of these is advantage. In short, the strongest tribe would survive and go on to propagate their seed and the weakest tribe would die, and so too would their genetic code.

Three thousand years of war was at the forefront of the Saiyan race. The culmination being a species completely adapted to the art of war. The technology never evolved as it naturally does in intelligent races, and so their bodies did. They developed the ability to regress back ten thousand years, to their distant ancestors. By sacrificing the ability of self-reflection and empathy they could summon the power of giants and morph into hideous beasts with evil intent.

At the zenith of their power there was unity which gave birth to a monarchy. Kings, and never Queens ruled the planet from then on, using sheer numbers to quell uprisings and an iron fist in punishment to convince would be rebellions from ever coming to the boil.

A planet like Vegeta, consisting of little technology and developing industry was an easy target for slaving industries. They had come in force one day, dropping from their ships with blasters which could vaporize the average person and warriors trained in war. No invader had left alive that day. Th

The very same organization who had sent the invasion in the beginning saw an opportunity in the Saiyan’s strength, in which both people could flourish. The Saiyan’s would be the new warriors, and in return they would have a share of the slaves and a share of the profits. The Empire expanded like an unstoppable forest fire and cities rose across the world like pimples on the planet’s adolescent face. Soon every citizen with status had all the food they could eat, and no real need to work as long as they had a share in the slave trade.

Nothing really changed though. The Saiyan’s with the strong genetics prospered and the ‘imperfect’ ones dwindled, until it would be hard to convince an observer that they were even of the same blood. These ‘Classless’ Saiyans were not slaves. They were free people of the planet Vegeta. But, they looked different, and were treated different. Education was not a right, nor was food or shelter. While the upper echelons were protected with healthcare and the benefits of a social system the lower classes were not.

As a result, they were confined to the lowest paying jobs, with the worst hours and no benefits. Their jobs were either hazardous or degrading. And even then, there weren’t enough of them. Slaves would do it for free. They couldn’t get jobs of the upper classes. If they were lucky they were accepted into the army and used as fodder in the front lines. If they were unlucky they were forced onto the streets, and then into work that would closely resemble hell. Many of the Classless were unlucky, and she was one of them.


Chapter 1

Her eyes were scrunched tightly as she was pulled from her Mother. She was screaming, covered in blood and shivering in the frosty night. Her Mother was lying motionless, her breaths coming in imperceptible rasps as she fought so stay conscious. A woman held the child in her arms, wrapping it tightly in a blanket and holding it tight to her. She took it away from the fading Mother and out of the dimly lit room. Another woman took it from her and made the journey she had made a hundred times before. She wound through dark alleyways, sidling through shadows with the baby buried deep within her threadbare cotton coat. The snow drifted down in a relentless torrent, accumulating on the ground like wool in a shearer’s shed. The woman walked until her feet were numb, and the only feeling she had in them was pain. Her body shivering uncontrollably in the deep night, and her mind shifted to bitter thoughts of the needy child held tight to her heart.

Another one? She thought to herself. It’s just going to die like all the rest. An image of the child’s Mother, lying pale and defeated wound its way into her mind. She kept going. The night held close around her, she couldn’t see more than five metres in front of her. At the edge of her vision sometimes she would see shadows, huddled against the cold. The wind was gentle, but its touch was ice. If it touched your bare chest you would last only minutes, before you became just another frozen body, piled up in the drifts of snow.

Occasionally she would hear voices, their words drowned out in the whistling whispers of the wind. The streets of Vegeta at night were a frozen wilderness, barren of all life but the desperate and the dangerous. So, with every voice the woman jumped, sure that they would see her and take from her more than her life. Beneath the woman’s coat the child wailed, and she clutched it tight, almost smothering it so that nobody would hear. A child’s cry was a siren call to the hopeless wanderers of the night. A child meant a birth, and a birth meant a young woman. The wanderers did not meander through the lethal cold without purpose. Their purpose was in vulnerability, in weakness. They would find happiness in others and crush it, like they had been crushed. The woman quickened her pace, diving deeper into the shadows as she passed from street to street.

Life had started off in a fitting way for the Classless Saiyan, it was better this way. This way there would be no hope for reprieve, no memory of a time when life was good, when food was present or safety a guarantee. The child was placed at the door of the orphanage, where a handful of woman worked around the clock, distributing the rations of one rich family between a hundred and fifty children. It was a place where resources were scarce, and to eat you had to play the game of evolution. Win you live, lose you die.
Chapter 2:

Small bodies packed the thin wooden walls of the building like sardines. Their bare and scrawny bodies jostling each other to get to the cafeteria. The first ones in line received a delicacy of lentils and mashed potato. The ate the plate in the seconds following the serving, right there at the front. Opportunistic children would drop to their knees, crawl along the ground, ready for any scraps that might fall to the cold wooden floor.
When the biggest kids had got their meal, they stepped to the side, either side of the cafeteria window. The next child would receive his meal and hurriedly eat the contents of his plate, as the bigger kids grabbed him and hauled him back. Food went flying and the orphans flew into a frenzy.
Of course, this sort of violence was not condoned, so if any of the older kids had been seen trying to steal food they would be kicked out of the orphanage, which would almost certainly mean death.

The smaller children were fortunate enough not to participate in this gladiatorial dash for food. They would be breast fed by wet nurses who volunteered their time from the community. In return these women would receive a serving of food for a few hours of nursing, before they went back to their own children.

The new orphan baby that was left last night was added to the burgeoning pile of sickly, classless infants. She was assigned to a wet nurse called Hannah. A large woman with a pair of large udders to match. The child suckled hungrily, desperately seeking milk in the short window it had available. Whenever Hannah tried to move on to the next child, she would have to wrestle the child off of her. It had surprising strength for an infant, and Hannah would often have to use both of her large arms to prise the baby away. The baby would just cling on with her soft gums, refusing to let go. Hannah would yell in pain, pinching the baby to try and will her to release her raw nipple. The baby never did.

Hannah complained and refused to feed the child anymore, but the caretakers of the orphanage were adamant. Every child must be fed, Hannah would feed the kid, or they would find someone more willing. With no choice in the matter the wet nurse every day would subjugate herself to the child’s demands. Spending more and more time with the infant as its appetite grew and grew. The wet nurse had given up on trying to fight the child. It never gave up. In the end it was she that named her, and she that grew to love her the most.

She called it Fasha, meaning fire. A fire starts as a spark, completely harmless on its own. When the spark finds dry fuel it consumes it, and the larger it grows the more it consumes. Fire is stubborn, once it has something it will never let go, just like the child she held in her arms.

Hannah took much joy from fierce infant. It became her pride and joy to have such a strong baby as her own. She loved to stare into the baby’s eyes, so blue and cool they might have been ice. Fasha would stare back at her too, her eyes so piercing it felt as if the two-month old child was looking into her very soul. It filled her with an anxious electricity, which electrified her every time she held the child in her arms. Hannah began to think of Fasha as her own, and it wasn’t long before she asked the orphanage if she could adopt her. The caretakers leaped at the chance. Adoptions were very rare.




Chapter 3:
The house was actually a apartment, the antithesis to a family home. It was in the middle of a large block of flats, with no windows to natural light. It consisted of four rooms: an open plan living room with a kitchen crammed onto a narrow stretch of checkered vinyl; a bedroom with a double-sized mattress pushed up into the corner and a set of wooden drawers to one side; another bedroom with narrow sleeping mats shoulder to shoulder and the bathroom which gave you just enough room to open the door. Crammed into this narrow space was a family of four. In those days this was a relatively small family, but their reproduction was constrained by the limits of food and also the mental health of the husband. Patrick Winters was a thin man, with prematurely grey hair, thinning at the corners of his forehead. He had a cheerful smile and warm brown eyes, and he hid his resentment well as Hannah brought home the orphan child.

Their other two children were still young and barely clothed and fed themselves. They were two boys, aged three and five. Billy was the youngest, a chubby boy with tousled almond hair and short arms and legs. He had more energy than the whole family combined. The older boy, Tomas was also rounded but more evenly proportioned than his unfortunate younger brother. He was serious for a child of five, a product of a harsh society where nothing was taken for granted.

Fasha came into the family at the tender age of fifteen months of age. She was beginning to make sounds now, which grossly resembled “Mama”. She seemed happy in the home, it was far quieter than the orphanage where even in the wee hours of the night babies cooed and cried, hungry and cold.

Patrick said nothing about the infant’s arrival. Hannah had been squawking about her growing attachment to the child for some time now, and in his mind he had known it would be inevitable. The good thing about young children is that you didn’t have to worry about extra food. As long as the Mother was healthy then the baby would be fed. Billy was still breastfed, more out of practicality than anything else. This gave Hannah the excuse she needed to gorge herself at any opportunity.

The biggest resentment Patrick harboured was that Fasha was still too young to sleep on her own. This made his own sleep very disrupted as Hannah was up throughout the night to settle the small Saiyan’s incessant demands for milk and attention. He was a tired man. Working long hours without breaks to try and match the free labour the slaves provided. He was one tier above them in his society, yet sometimes he felt like they had the easier lives.

He worked at a factory which supplied the army with battle armour and other goods. Like most other industries it had adopted the production line system. This was great for economics but terrible for tradesman. Gone were the days of craftsmanship, everything replaced by machines who were far quicker and more precise. A suit of armour would have taken a smith weeks to construct, but now it took less than a day and each worker was only responsible for a tiny fraction of each product. This took away any sense of pride or skill in an employee’s work, making them replaceable and therefore placated with whatever work conditions were at stake. He worked from seven in the morning till seven at night, every day. Coming home to a dish of corn and rice or if he was lucky some sweet potato. He moved through life as if a zombie, his purpose revolving around a desperate hope he had fostered from a very young age.

Patrick had looked up to his Father. A hard-working carpenter who taught Patrick everything he knew. From the age of five he was helping his Dad measure up lengths of wood, hammer in nails and lay down concrete foundations. Before Patrick was even a man grown he was a fully qualified builder. This was about when slaves become a household commodity. The slaves were often selected for their skilled backgrounds. From many different planets they boasted diverse skills in building, engineering and design. They worked for free, and with more passion than any paid man because the lives of their families directly depended on it, rather than indirectly like Patrick.

Patrick’s dream of becoming a Master builder and owning his own business was dashed before he could even start. In those days the hope inside of him still fuelled him forward. He was just on the tail end of his marriage to Hannah, and her kind words inspired him to keep going. He took a job at a factory, ensured by his second-half that he could work his way up after learning the skills of the trade.

Ten years later he was still in the same position, literally. He stood at the exact same place in the production line, arranged shoulder pads to the correct position twelve hours a day. There were no skills to be learned in this job, the machines did it all. Hannah held him at the edge of despair, supporting him and telling him an opportunity would come up soon. All he had to do was have hope.

The infant arriving was a crack in the ice. His children had insidiously morphed into burdens in his self-conscious. He saw them as shackles, tethering him to a life he didn’t want. His workmates spent their free time at local bars and brothels. Spending their own money, they way they wanted. He envied their liberty, especially in the bedroom.

Hannah was once a comely woman, and she still was in her own way. She had always been curvy, and Patrick had loved that about her. But the curves soon turned into rolls, and big breasts he had loved to cradle sagged from years of supporting hungry mouths. When Hannah did want sex it was often at Patrick’s insistence, or to bring him out of a foul mood. It was always quick, dry and dispassionate. The more he wanted it, the worse it was. His mood grew more foul when the infant was lain down between them. Now he didn’t have sex at all.


Chapter 4:
Hannah was a fortunate woman. Education was not a right in the day’s society but she had grown up with a motivated Mother who had once been to College. It had given her tremendous happiness to teach Hannah and her siblings for an hour a day. At the time the children had hated it. They wanted to play. In Hannah’s older and more mature years she had begun to see the sense in it, and counted herself as very lucky to have the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. This was not something many Classless Saiyans.

Because she had found this so valuable, she had done the same with her two children and Fasha now two years of age could sit in on the lessons and learn what she could.

The Saiyan girl was a part of the family now. She played with Billy and Tomas all day, and insisted that she go wherever they went. She was able to stumble around, falling over constantly but mobile enough to follow the two older boys. They often grew impatient with her, and lashed out with the cruel violence that kids dish out. One time they tried to tie her up with bed sheets. Her beautiful smiling face soon morphed into what seemed to them was a demon. She lashed out at Tomas, the biggest boy and hit him square in the nose. He ran to his Mother crying and with a bleeding nose. He got no sympathy from Hannah however. “Tomas she’s a baby…”

Most of the time they got on well and Tomas sometimes took it upon himself to teach her things. One-time Hannah had found her oldest boy seated in front of Fasha, a not uncommon look of seriousness on his face. “Now there’s some things you need to know about the world,” he began explaining to the blank-eyed toddler. “You don’t get given nothing here. You earn what you get and keep what you earn. That’s rule number one. You hear?” Hannah had laughed at the lecture, but later found herself brooding over it. After all he was just about six years old.

Billy was much closer to Fasha’s age, and so when Tomas was helping around the house or having some alone time they would sit and play. They weren’t really old enough to play interactive together, but they seemed to find solace in sitting side by side, independently playing with their own toys. Hannah had initially given Fasha some dolls, a small doll house and a toy brush to pretend to brush their hair with. It had been her favorite toy as a child and she had always wanted to pass it down to a daughter.

The Saiyan girl had taken one look at the dolls and thrown them away in a stroppy fit of rage. She threw away every toy Hannah gave her, and instead took Billy’s. Billy was an easy-going child, he didn’t mind too much. He’d just grab another one of his soldier toys and play with that until Fasha took that one off him too. Fasha would collect a big pile of soldiers and other toys until Billy was left with nothing. He’d then waddle over to her pile, plomp himself down and start all over again.

It felt to Hannah as if Fasha was her own child. There was a blur of in distinction between the transition from the orphanage to here. It felt as if her mind was slowly wiping away those memories, and filling them with false ones of Fasha as an even younger child. The only way you would know that Fasha was not a part of the family was her eyes. The same eyes that had captivated Hannah in the first place. She still found herself staring into the toddler’s piercing gaze, wondering if what was going on inside her head.

By the age of five Fasha was becoming a very pretty child. Her patchy hair had filled into and was replaced with wavy brown hair down to her shoulders. Her skin was pale like a pearl and her eyes radiated like blue beacons. She was short and slight, but somehow stronger than both of her brothers. They had grown to playfight often, and even though Billy was six and Tomas was ten, it would usually take both to pin her down. The problem was that the harder they tried to restrain her the angrier she became, eventually resorting to biting them with her sharp teeth. Hannah only laughed when they came complaining to her, and once again she told them. “She’s only a girl…” But in her mind she thought, Fasha the Fire, my daughter.

Patrick had become to be more accepting of Fasha over time. Hannah was pleased that he was showing an interest. He often pulled Fasha up onto his knee and stroked her hair, and sometimes kissed her gently on the top of the head. Hannah couldn’t help feel a slight pang of jealousy. She missed the times when he had given her that kind of affection. He was just too tired these days.

Patrick had also taken to reading to Fasha in her room while Hannah was entertaining the two boys. He had taken it up once, out of the blue. It had taken his wife by surprise at first that he would be devoting his precious free time to Fasha. It’s good he’s taking such an interest…

One day she went in to the room to see what it was they were reading. She found the door locked. Hannah knocked a bit more loudly. There was the sound of someone scrambling to their feet and murmured voices. Patrick opened the door, his brow sweaty and his face contorted into some sort of a smile.

“Yes dear?” He said softly. He hadn’t been so polite in ten years.

“What are you two doing?” She asked casually.

“Just reading you know.”

“Oh okay,” Hannah looked down, not wanting to meet his challenging eyes. “What are you reading?”

“Why all the questions?” He snapped, his smile disappearing in an instant.

“No reason,” she blurted out hurrying away. The door slammed behind her, making her jump. Her heart was racing from his sudden outburst, but courage still coursed through her. Her heart thudded in her ears as she tiptoed closer to the door and put her ear against it. More hushed whispers. She couldn’t make out any words. Was he reading to her? She couldn’t hear Fasha’s voice, just these whispers. Occasionally she heard movement, or the creaking of floorboards. There was a soft sound beneath it all, so quiet she could barely hear it. It sounded like a mouse squeaking, or maybe a child crying. Without thinking Hannah slammed her hand against the door, knocking on it loudly. Her breath came in gasps.

What am I doing? There was silence in the room, then more hushed whispers and some hurried movement. The door flew open. Patrick was standing there, his face serious, his lips pinched together in anger.

“I was just putting her to sleep!” He said in a loud whisper. Hannah made to walk past him into the room. “I said she is asleep.” His eyes were cold and dark, staring into her own she suddenly felt very small. As the door closed behind him she could hear the soft whimpering’s of Fasha, the Fire.

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Edited by Fasha, Mar 24 2018, 06:17 AM.
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Chapter 5:

The night passed by as Hannah lay staring at the ceiling. Her beloved husband snored contently beside her, a sound which had once given her comfort. She curled up, pushing herself to one edge of the bed so she was almost falling off. His arm had brushed against her skin, and it sent a shiver down her spine.

The morning light crept through the curtains, an unwelcome sight to the awake woman. Her eyes felt heavy, and her heart heavier. She could not close them however, because each time she did she heard the whimperings of her Fire, her beautiful five-year-old girl.

When Patrick stirred beside her she shut her eyes, hurriedly pretending to be asleep. She listened to his movements, her heart pounding so loud she thought he must be able to hear it. Time crawled under her eyelids. Every movement he made seemed to be amplified. She listened so carefully to him that she could almost visualize him walking out through the bedroom and into the kitchen. Her ears perked up as he opened the cupboard, put some toast in the toaster and waited. Hannah could hear every sip he took from his cup of coffee, every bite of his toast and every breath he took.

Finally, when he closed the door behind him, off to work she let out her breath. It felt as if she had been holding it the entire time. Her breathing fast Hannah sat up in a flash and dashed out of her bedroom. She threw open the door to her children’s bedroom and ran straight to Fasha. Her two boys were fast asleep. Fasha wasn’t. The girl reared up in horror at the sudden entrance, her blue eyes wide with terror. Hannah had never seen her afraid before.

“Oh my god my sweety,” she clutched the child into her arms. “I am so so sorry, he will never touch you again.” Clutched to her, Fasha began to cry for the first time in her life. The tears flowed from her as if a dam had broken, her entire body wrought by forceful sobs and shakes. The two boys had awoken by now, and looked at their Mother confused.

“What’s going on Mama?” Tomas asked.

Hannah’s mind raced. What am I going to do? I have to leave him! “Tomas we are going on a holiday. Be a good boy and pack up some things for you and Billy okay?” The Mother bundled up the sobbing girl in her arms and took her through to the kitchen. With one arm cradling Fasha she used her other to awkwardly packing her things. She reached for her purse and glanced inside. It was empty. She had no money. I can find a job, it will be okay. Somebody will take me in. She kept repeating these words to herself, over and over again. Occasionally a seed of doubt would fall through the cracks into her will, and she would feel it take hold. What are you going to do? Work as a whore? What kind of life would that be for your boys? But what am I going to do? I can’t let this keep happening! The idea settled on her like a storm cloud over a town. She would have to take her back to the orphanage.

“Alright kids we’re going on a wee trip to Mummy’s work! I want you ready in five minutes!”

The arrival at the orphanage was an quiet contrast to the whirling storm of emotions that ran through Hannah’s mind. She was about to begin her wet nurse shift, as per usual. She had all her children with her, but this too was not out of the ordinary. The staff greeted her as usual, with tired smiles, polite greetings and insincere enquiries. The Mother stood admist the hustle of the orphanage, her eyes darting to the blank eyes of the children around her.

They looked through her as if she wasn’t even there. Starvation had drilled down deep into their hearts and minds so that all they knew was a blurry fog of life. The thing that happened in between scraps of food, ticking down the days until they were too old for the free meals.

The dam in her mind broke under the weight of her burden. Her emotions tumbled out of her like shingle in a landslide. The woman fell to her knees, clutching her children to her tightly. Woman came running, cooing and stroking her hair, asking if everything was okay.

“What is wrong, dear? Please tell us! What can we do to help? Come now, let’s get you a cup of tea.”

As the torrent of sadness dried up, leaving her spent and withered inside she was able to speak. “I cannot keep Fasha anymore.” The silence which followed was deafening. It felt as if it would never end, and would run on and on, holding her in this eternal torture of uncertainty.

“We can’t take her back, Hannah!” Their caring expressions turned cold. “You realize how many kids actually get adopted out of here?”

“I know, but-“

“No buts! She is your child now, and you have to take care of her!” These words hit Hannah with such force her mind suddenly became clear. Without a further word she stood, and with her children in tow she pushed her way out of the orphanage and into the morning light.

The Mother walked through the streets, her arms piled high with baggage children as she loped through the streets of Vegeta. An unseen force willed her forward like a train. A fire blazing in the furnace of her steam engine. When doubt crept into her mind she quelled it by recalling the vivid sound of Fasha crying, and her husband grunting. From this her brain naturally filled in the gaps, creating images from the sounds. These were formed of memories of her husband on top of her, and of Fasha hurting herself playing. They melded together seamlessly, allowing the full force of the truth to fuel her.

Hannah arrived at the building. It was among a collection of other similar establishments in a dark part of town where real estate prices were low and the people lower. It was three stories high, tall and thin with thin slits for windows on the front. Curtains covered these windows, so thick that nothing could be perceived behind them.

At this point it felt as if her body and soul were crafted from stone. She walked into the building, leaving her past life in the cold Saiyan world, along with any hope she ever had of a good life for herself.


Chapter 6:

Inside the warmth washed over her as if she had dived into tropical water, and in that instance she felt sure of her decision as she imagined her children growing up somewhere safe and warm. The temperature was the only pleasant thing to the lobby. It was a small space with a thin wooden desk with a thickset woman behind it. Her large body was covered with what looked like a shimmering sack. The only kind of clothing which could contain her enormous size. Her body overflowed over the desk, threatening to splinter the wood under the weight of her gargantuan size. Her face was stiff and puckered, and her eyes cold and dark.

Beside the woman was a small stage with a curtain behind it. The look of it sent a stab of cold down her spine. She saw there on that stage the next twenty years of her life. She turned back to her children, looking each of them in the eye and holding Fasha’s gaze for even longer still, mesmerized by those innocent blue eyes.

“Can I help you?” The womaned croaked abruptly.

“Yes, Madam,” Hannah stepped forward. “I have come looking for work, in exchange for board, food and a small wage.”

Hannah was a pretty woman with a wide smile of crooked teeth, curly brown hair and rosy pink cheeks. She had full lips, which often had been the allure of many men. She was not slim, but this added to her charm and much of the weight was put in her chest and butt.

“Hmmm,” the large woman regarded her evenly. “Put down those kids and let’s have a look at you.” Hannah obeyed swiftly, depositing her children in the corner and standing at full attention to the Madam. “Well, show me what you have!”

“What do you mean?” The Mother replied, glancing over to her children.

“If I am going to sell you, I need to know what goods you’ve got that’s worth something!”

“Oh… can I not show you away from the kids?” She looked again to find all three of her children staring at her expectantly.

“Just turn your back lovey and give us a demonstration!” Hannah’s heart fluttered as she lifted up her dress, showing the fat woman her huge breasts. “Now the backside!” Hannah again obliged. “Mmmm yes, okay. I think I can work with you. Come along now and I will show you where you might be staying and we can work out some sort of deal hmmm?”

The lodgings were what Hannah would have expected. She was given a small room, with enough space for a double bed and a beside table. The bed was empty underneath, which gave Hannah enough space to stuff their meagre possessions. He bedroom was off a long hallway which ended with a communal kitchen area and a small living room which was shared by all the other woman who would be working.

“Look alright? It’s warm at least,” the woman said. “Now, to business. My girls are required to work one shift per day, mornin’ and afternoon or evening and night. You’ll get a roster each week and you have to be ready for the shift starting. You take what you’re given and in return you and your brats can stay here for free board and food.”

A visage of Hannah living her for the rest of her life filled her with desperate courage. “And a small wage maam?”

The woman laughed, “At least you’ve got enough sense to ask. To keep my girls incentivized like you can keep ten percent of the cut. And don’t get greedy mind you, thinkin’ you can get hundred percent out there,” she pointed a large finger out the door. “You’d be eaten alive out there girl.” Hannah swallowed. “We got ourselves a deal or what? I need a girl to start a shift in thirty minutes.”

The Mother could not force herself to say the words, so she only nodded. “Right then! Report to the desk in twenty minutes and get your kids sorted. Down in the living room you can put your kids. There’s lots of other woman there who will help you take care of them.”

The living room was a collection of odd pieces of furniture, toys and a few moth-eaten books. There were several woman seated there, some of them in wool and others in silk. The contrast between the girls off-duty and on-duty. Many of the woman looked up and smiled as the Mother and her children walked in, revealing yellow, decaying teeth. There were some children in the room too, all between the ages of five to ten. They were busy playing in the middle of the room with a pile of toys. She urged her children on to play. Tomas and Billy gratefully obliged, but Fasha stood rooted to the spot, her small hands gripping Hannah’s dress tightly. Hannah did not push her, but instead gently urged her over to a chair where they could sit together.

Hannah spent a few minutes introducing herself and trying to remember everybody’s names, which slipped out of her brain like water in a sieve. She felt rushed and stressed. Work was about to start. Work which she had never even done before. The Mother hurriedly somewhat boldly asked one of the friendlier woman if she could look after the kids for awhile. The woman’s name was Fidel and she politely accepted.

She came forward and offered her hand to Fasha, making cooing sounds. The Prostitute reached out to touch Fasha’s head, and suddenly reeled back in horror when the child’s head snapped around and her teeth snapped together, narrowly missing the woman’s fingers.

“What the bloody ‘ell is this?” She demanded. Suddenly the room was silent and every eye was on Hannah.

“Umm, uhhh, Fasha! Ahhh, it’s not what you think!” Hannah stammered. “She’s had a tough time.”

“Yeah well so ‘ave all of us, but you don’t see me biting your hand off now, do ya?” Fidel snorted. “No blimmin’ way am I looking after your kids. I’d be bound to lose me arm.”

Hannah’s head sank, and tears began to form in her eyes. They rolled down her face and onto her nose where they converged, like the point of a stalactite and dropped onto Fasha’s head. The woman in the room instantly jumped into action, as if rehearsed a thousand times before. Some went to fetch a hot cup of sweet tea, another came round and began to massage Hannah’s shoulders, others began soothing her with soft words and promises. Fidel was the most active, promising that she would look after the children as best she could.

“I’ll just have to wear oven mitts is all!” She teased.


Chapter 7:

The first shift came upon quickly. It seemed she had blinked, while sipping her hot tea and getting her shoulders massaged and she had somehow teleported onto the backstage, dressed in flowing silk. Her heart rate had instantly soared as she peeked out of the curtains into the dimly lit lobby. It was an anti-climax, nobody was there.

She sat and waited, occasionally making idle conversation with some of the other woman behind the curtain. One of them was quite talkative. Her name was Alia, a great tall stick of a woman with long, straight legs and sharp bones. Hannah struggled to see why any man would find her attractive, but she was very nice. She talked incessantly, without prompting. It helped to soothe Hannah’s nerves as she listened to all of the brothel’s gossip in what seemed like a matter of seconds. She was bombarded with information about Kelly and Janette and Steve and how busy it was on Saturday night and the new skills she’d learn. This last piece of information Hannah paid mind to. I thought I’d just have to lay there?

It was not long before the first customers entered, greeted by the bell attached to the door and the croaking voice of the Madam squeezed behind her desk.

“Good afternoon sir, what can I do for you?” She said, welcoming him. Hannah peaked out from the edge of the curtain, to find a large bald man adorned in the armour of the Saiyan uniform. He had a thin pencil moustache, which looked ridiculous on his huge chiselled face. His head was covered with a thin sheen of sweat with huge veins dotted along it. He must have been seven feet tall, and almost as wide. His muscles rippled through his uniform, appearing as though they might bulge out and rip it to pieces.

“I need a lass with something to hold onto!” His voice boomed out across the room, making Hannah flinch. Alia put a hand to her shoulder.

“It’s okay dear, don’t be afraid,” she whispered hurriedly into Hannah’s ear.

“Well,” the Madam began. “I have a selection of fine woman for you to pick from!” The curtain flew open and for a moment the soft light of the room blinded Fasha. She shielded her eyes briefly only to be nudged by a girl beside her. They all stood seductively, with hips turned, knees bent and lips full. Hannah awkwardly tried to emulate the other girls, feeling incredibly out of place.

The bald man’s dark eyes darted between the woman. His sneer growing wider and wider as he evaluated them. Hannah’s stomach filled with lead as his eyes finally settled on her. He raised one very large hand and pointed his finger at her. “I want the fat one.”

“Certainly! You’ve made an excellent selection… ah what was your name again?”

“None of your business!” He suddenly snapped. The Madam almost leaped out of her seat.

“Yes, yes of course!” The Madam turned around to Hannah, her eyes wide and demanding. “Teddy, dear,” using a fake name. “Would you kindly take this gentlemen upstairs?”

Hannah felt as if her legs were glued to the floor. She couldn’t help but feel that her face betrayed the terror in her heart, but it seemed to only make the stranger smile wider. She could feel tears forcing themselves into her tear ducts, and her face begin to quiver. The Mother felt as if her face would collapse, and her soon with it into a sobbing mess.

The Madam was still staring at her, her eyes drilling into Hannah, willing her to move. She did not, so the large brute stalked forward, his gigantic shape looming over the short and plump woman. A meaty palm shot and grabbed her arm as if it was a twig. He yanked her, almost sending her toppling to the floor. She was dragged upstairs, her head down as tears openly running down her face.

She was alone in a small dark room, with a giant of a man. She could hear his breathing, as he stood by the door staring at her. His presence seemed to fill the whole room. Hannah felt as if she was a small mouse so close to him. She couldn’t stop her tears flowing, and her body sobbed as she watched him through the gaps in his fingers.

“Take off your clothes,” he commanded, his voice even but firm.

She immediately obeyed, sensing malice in his voice. She covered herself with her hands, embarrassed of the scars of motherhood and her weight spilling out from her body. He too stripped, his scarred skin and large muscles rippling in the dim light. Her body shuddered with terror as he approached, gripping her with iron-like strength. She was spun around and her face forced into the bed. She felt suffocated, as if she couldn’t breathe. That was forgotten when the pain started. She was not attracted to him, and the terror inside of her had dried her up. The pain was unimaginable. She tried to scream but his hand was shoving her face into the covers, twisting her hair.

It was the longest night of her life. She felt she would pass out from the pain, but whenever her screams died down to a whimper she was yanked to a new position, the pain fresh.

He left her there afterwards, feeling as if she had been hit by a truck. Her body was bruised from head to toe, and she had lost a pint of blood. The man had demeaned her, turned her into nothing more than a sack of meat. For what? For her children. In those dark and bitter hours, all she could think of was her children. It was the image of their smiling faces that sustained her, but also filled her with the bitter taste of regret.


Chapter 8:

The woman had all seen a similar sight before. They had come in wordlessly, sweeping in like wraiths to pick the Mother up and take her to be cleaned, dressed and put to sleep. Their eyes betrayed no sadness, nor tears. They had already wept for themselves too many times, so the wells of their hearts had to be boarded up, because crying was a luxury and they were not afforded such luxuries.

Hannah slept through the whole next day, and it wasn’t until the following morning that she woke. She was greeted by a sharp pain as she moved. It seemed to come from everywhere at once. It hurt to breathe. The Mother lay there motionless, not daring to move another muscle.

Her mouth was dry, and she angled her head around furiously, searching for some water. At that moment Fasha walked in and gazing into those wide blue eyes almost broke her heart. Hannah began to cry, and seeing her Mother cry so too did Fasha. They held each other, crying uncontrollably through the emotional battlefield that raged on inside of their hearts. Hannah was not just crying because of last night, she was crying because she knew she could never do it again. Her mind was flashing back and forth between her two choices. Her suffering, or Fasha’s. She wanted to help her, but she had to think of Billy and Tomas. How could she bring them up in a place like this? With their Mother working on her back by night and suffering by day. Images crashed through her mind like bullets, tearing at her brain as she relived the vivid details of last night. For what? One night’s food and shelter… She would rather die.

And just like that, Fasha was left in the living room of the Brothel, wide-eyed and confused as her Mother and Brothers hurried away home.

3550
Edited by Fasha, Apr 3 2018, 04:26 AM.
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Chapter 9:

The women were nice enough, if not a bit confused to find the pretty young child all by herself. Some stayed with her, consoling her and trying to bring a smile out on her innocent face. One woman ran off to tell the Madam about it, her came gyrating and wobbling down the hallway. When she saw the child sitting there she almost keeled over.

“We cannot have a child here! Where is Hannah?” She bellowed, her jowls jostling.

“She’s gone Madam, she left this one here,” it was Fidel who spoke up, the one who nearly had her finger bitten off by Fasha the Fire.

“Well where does she live?” Blank faces stared back at her. “Right! That’s it, cart the wee one off to the orphanage!”

“She’s too old for the orphanage Madam, she’ll end up on the streets!”

“She’s too bloody old to be living off nuffink. When I was her age I was working on me knees and back by the buildings sheds. If she wants to stay here she’s gotta work,” the large woman stated defiantly.

“Work here? Like one of us?” The whore’s minds flashed to the bald giant, shuddering at the thought of Fasha beneath them. “You’ve got to be bloody joking.”

“I do not joke,” the Madam replied. “She either earns her keep, or she fucks off. Either way she’ll be on her knees or back soon like.”

All the while between this exchange the porcelain child, with her strawberry blonde hair and deep blue eyes looked at them. In her mind and heart all she felt was longing for her Mother, and an unmistakable fear of what might come next.

The woman stood firm to the Madam, their eyes like stone standing, square with hands on their hips. “We will not chuck this poor wee girl out, nor will we let her succumb to the demands of those foul men out there. It’s bad enough grown-up adults have to do this, let alone a child for goodness sakes.” Fidel’s voice seethed with poison and hate as she spat the words. “If you’re throwing this girl out, then I’m leaving too.”

Everybody in the room knew full well the penalty of this, and the life that would be waiting for Fidel if she walked out that door. But her strength resonated, shining out of her body like a beacon, drawing others closer. “Me too,” Alia spoke up. “Me also,” another spoke up. Soon they had all stepped forward, standing between the Madam and Fasha protectively.
The Madam went red, and for a second it seemed she might explode. But when her fury gazed out at the steel resolve of the whores before her it crept away back inside of her, hiding its ugly head. “Fine! But you are all in charge of caring for her and her food and anything else comes out of your wages!” She stormed off, her weight thundering into the ground with each step.

It was often in the woman’s lives that they were able to feel the uplifting presence of purpose, but now they felt it as they looked at the timid and scared child in front of them. They felt like they were finally a part of something good, and that everything they did from now on was not just for themselves. They had just adopted a beautiful wee girl.


Chapter 10:

The girl’s Mother had been taken from her, so swiftly that she may as well have just vanished into thin air. If you included the years of wet nursing, Hannah had been Fasha’s main caregiver for five years, most of her life. She was too young to understand where she had gone, or why. All she knew was that she wasn’t there anymore, and she had been left in this dark and scary place. At night she would lay awake and hear the squeaking of the floorboards, and the growls and grunts from upstairs. It sounded like animals were up there. She would try and close her eyes but when she did all she saw was an image of the animals feeding on some poor animal, as it struggled beneath their incisors.

The woman worked so many different shifts that often Fasha would have a different person minding her each day. Every day she only saw strangers, and the fear inside of her crackled and spat out from her body like fire. The whores were patient enough. They tried everything to cheer her up. Brining her sweets and slices, toys and games. They tried singing to her and reading to her. Nothing worked. The girl’s face had adopted the appearance of a stone carving. Her heart shaped faced stared implacably out towards the window, her glacial eyes so cold and lost.

It felt like she went for days without eating, and without sleeping. The whites of her eyes grew redder and redder, the pure porcelain white or her sclera consumed by blood. The woman grew more and more concerned, their out of work discussions mostly centralizing on the child.

“What’s wrong with her? Why is she being like this?”

“She’s so ungrateful! We work hard to feed her and she just ignores it.”

“She may as well be homeless for all the good we are doing her?”

“What is it we are doing wrong?”

“Well, her Mother did desert her remember? I can’t imagine you’d be feeling too flash neither?” It was always Fidel who managed to talk sense into the girls, but the level of animosity was brewing, and everyday the critical comments would increase, and the care and attention would dip.

Schooling was the only thing Fasha took the slightest interest in. The woman at the brothel only had a very basic education, most of them not even knowing how to read. Fidel had some basic understanding of reading and writing, enough at least to teach a six year old. Fasha’s eyes lit up whenever time was made for her to learn, and she would voraciously consume any material given to her.

Fidel began giving up more and more of her time to help Fasha, until really the other girls didn’t contribute much more than watching the child. Fidel’s initial reaction to Fasha had changed, but not by leaps and bounds. The woman still found her to be repugnant, rude and feisty. She had to be careful when getting too close to her, as she was still known to bite if in a bad temper. Her deciduous teeth were blunt but her ferocity sharp. Every time Fidel was bit she would swear she was going to throw Fasha out, but she never did.

Time passed in the flurry of routine and soon the limits of Fidel’s own knowledge had been reached. It was at this point that she looked into the possibility of further education. The other prostitutes thought she was mad, looking to spend money on a classless Saiyan that wouldn’t amount to anything anyway.

Fidel didn’t even know herself the motives behind her actions. She found herself driven by an internal combustion of motivation, which kept driving her every day to strive for more. There were small rewards to all her hard work. A surge of dopamine would flow through Fidel’s reward circuitry when she saw a smile play out on Fasha’s lips. She would work at this, like an addict after heroin, desperately seeking her next fix.

With the savings that Fidel had earned over many years of working in the Brothel, she managed to enrol Fasha in a very cheap public school. The school did require a uniform. An expensive request for a growing child with no parents. The woman at the brothel were terrific, once more finding a sense of purpose and passion. Many of them were old hands at sewing. It was one of the few skills thought necessary to teach to the Classless, and so they had all studiously learned it at young ages, back when they believed hard work equalled success.

They all pitched in for the materials and managed to produce a navy-blue kilt, white blouse, navy and navy blazer, with a couple of extra spare blouses as spare. Some shoes were found deep within one of the smaller woman’s closet. They were black slip on. Anonymous and perfect for the standardisation of the country’s education system.

Pens and paper were another expensive commodity which the woman just couldn’t afford. They had to go out, scrounging through bins for used packaging for the paper, which they would then wipe clean and trim to make nice neat piles. The pens were difficult, and so pencils were found instead. They accumulated a shamble of different lengths and types from all over, storing all of them in a pencil case specially made. It was sewn together from the sheets of the house, double folded together. A crude zipper was attached to the top. It was a representation of the work that had gotten Fasha to where she was, and a strange sense of pride for all the woman involved. A similar satchel was made, beautiful, white and flowing, made from the sheets of a whore’s bed.



Chapter 11:

Penrose school was situated right near the centre of the pristine and polished city. It was a large complex, taking up almost an entire block, bordered by high fences topped with barbed wire. It had been built over a hundred years ago. Its initial configuration was designed for as part of a military training quarters. As such aesthetics were not a focus, and the building consisted mainly of concrete, shaped into stacked blocks and big courtyards. It was a drab place that had long been since ceased in functionality in the eyes of the military.

About fifty years ago, the place had been put up for auction and the education department had purchased it against zero competition. It was the perfect investment but a low-budget government sector. It enabled them to open up a desperately needed public school for a minimal cost.

The place had an ominous feeling as Fasha walked through the school gates. It was all grey, just like the sky above and the asphalt pavement of the courtyards. It had rained overnight, leaving great big puddles that were nearly impossible to avoid. Children were already there when she arrived, assembled in groups of dark jackets, huddled together from the cold.

The school catered for ages from right from primary to the end of secondary school. The numbers thinned out in adolescence, but this meant that it was a school which crammed in over two thousand children. Fasha walked among them, avoiding the harsh gaze of the older children as she made her way to the main block. She imagined that this is what prison must feel like, walking into a strange and alien environment, with large and scary people all around. The biggest difference was that Fasha wanted to be here, because here she could learn to read and write, the only spark in this bleak and dark world.

Fasha’s classroom was exactly as she had imagined. It was a large space, built for the practical function of fitting large amounts of people. There was a blackboard at one end, with a metal desk pushed into one side, presumably for the teacher.

Facing the blackboard were row upon row of old and chipped wooden desks. The desks were bolted to the floor and joined by metal brackets to stiff and upright wooden chairs. The desk’s had lids which could be lifted off to reveal a space to store your books and stationary. Each desk had a large padlock attached. Its metal rung was threaded through two iron loops. It looked absolutely impregnable.

Most of the seats were empty. There were a few kids already in the room, mostly with their heads in their arms as if they were sleeping. Fasha’s instinct told her to go and find a nice quiet corner at the back. But from the doorway it looked really far away, and almost appeared darker and the desks in poorer repair. So, against the inner voice inside of her saying no, she went to sit up the front, a couple of rows back from the teacher.

As the children filed in she watched them all out of the corner of her eye. They were all her age yet somehow seemed bigger and more ominous. They filled the room quickly, all appearing just as the bell was ringing. They sat down, seeming to coalesce into defined groups. They filled the back of the room first, rows of them sitting down like a wave. The wave broke just before Fasha, leaving her alone in the first two rows. She looked behind her awkwardly, and instantly snapped back as she saw the lines upon lines of strange faces staring at her. The girl’s face went bright red and her eyes moved down as she felt the teacher enter the room. Her first day of school was off to a bad start.

The teacher walked in, a grizzled and bent man in his mid fifties. He had a stretchy face and dyed black hair smoothed down into a mop on top of his head. His face sagged, making rolling hills and deep gullies in his skin.

His eyes darted directly to Fasha and fixed her with a menacing stare. His eyes were black rock, peering out from behind his thin rectangular glasses. He stared at her for what seemed an eternity, before opening his pencil thin lips to reveal crooked yellow teeth.

“And you are?” He asked scornfully.

“Uh-uh-uh, my name is Fasha,” she replied meekly.

“New?” She nodded. “Well, welcome, I’m Mr Mulberry.” He turned away from her and went straight up to the blackboard. With a screeching sound he wrote up some page numbers. “If you would please open up to page one-hundred and thirty in your textbooks on literacy Level two please and begin reading.” The old man then proceeded to sit down at his desk, pull a book out of his bag and begin to read. Fasha could hear rumblings behind her as the students pulled their textbooks out of their bag and thumped them down on their desks.

The girl could feel her face burning, as if she had been set on fire. She raised her hand tentatively, feeling the entire room go silent as she did so. Mr Mulberry didn’t look up from his book. She raised her hand higher and began to wave it from side to side. Her face grew warmer and warmer as the silence became colder and colder.

“Mr Mulberry,” she finally piped up, her voice sounding like a thunderclap in her own ears. He did not move for a time, and then very slowly he lifted his head from his book and fixated his dark eyes on her.

“Yes?” His voice so seethed with acid, and every consonant was sharp as if her tongue were a razor, sliding against the metal block of his mouth.

“I do not have a textbook sir,” she stated matter of factly, but hearing her voice quaver as it left the protection of her body.

“You don’t have a textbook,” the monotonicity of his voice suggested it wasn’t a question, so she kept her mouth shut and tried not to look into the darkness of his eyes. Very slowly, as if a panther preparing to strike he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out the remnants of a textbook. He walked over, cat-like and stood beside Fasha. She went to turn to look up at him, but found herself staring instead up at his crotch. Her head quickly snapped back around. He edged slightly closer, so closer he was almost touching her face. Then leaning over her, so she had to move her head to avoid him he placed the textbook down. Her heart was pounding as he stood there, body looming over her and his crotch only centimetres from her face.

Memories began to appear in Fasha’s minds. She couldn’t even place them, but something about them was so vivid and so tangible that she knew they must be real. It was Patrick, her once-upon-a-time Father. She remembered being this close to him. She remembered the sound of his breathing as he panted, and the pain as he panted harder and harder. Fasha’s eyes screwed up tight, and she buried her face in her hands to stop herself from screaming. When she opened them again, Mr Mulberry was back at his desk and the room was silent again.

The girl reached for her textbook, just now noticing the quality of it. It was very thin, missing many of the relevant pages. It was covered in some sort of black and brown material, maybe rotten banana. The pages suck together as if with super glue, and no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t prise them apart. She tried to turn her page to one-hundred and thirty, but it wasn’t there. So instead she began to read as close to it as she could find. The words became a jumble in front of her as she tried to read. All she could think of was the heat and pain as she lay under her Step-Father every night in that dark, dark room.


Chapter 12:
Rain drifted down to tap the pavement before her. It was lunch time, and the children had all rushed outside despite the weather to their own corners of the large concrete court. They stood segregated into tight fine groups, playing games with their backs turned. Many of the groups were sorted into colour, sex or age.

Fasha’s eyes gazed around, trying to catch the eye of somebody who was friendly and welcoming. Nobody caught her eye, and anyone who came close quickly turned their head away. She quickly turned back, heat rising to her cheeks as she hurried back to the inside. She went back to the classroom, the only place she could think of to go. The Saiyan girl walked in with her head still bowed, hurrying to her desk.

“What are you doing here?” The voice made her jump. She looked up to see Mr Mulberry glaring at her from behind his desk.

“I just wanted to get out of the rain sir,” she blurted.

“No,” he replied absolutely, challenging her with his coal black eyes. Lacking the strength to argue, Fasha slinked away and back into the hall. Trudging down the corridor she managed to find a closet where she could hide with her shame.

She sat there in the darkness, trying to fight back the tears from coming into her eyes as her hope of a happy first day was shattered to pieces. The girl sat there crying until she heard the bell ring. She hurriedly wiped her tears from her face, leaving rough red marks down her pale cheeks as she did so.

She slipped out of the closet, quietly merging in with the throng of wet students making their way back to class. They were all chattering in their groups excitedly, laughing and skipping down the hall. Their wet hair and clothes sprayed moisture out as they moved, they seemed not to notice the huge puddles of water they left on the floors as they went. Fasha watched them scornfully, feeling an unusual sense of shame building within her beneath her dry clothes.

They all filed back into class, Fasha taking her solitary seat out in front where Mr Mulberry could watch her like a hawk. The afternoon was the same as the morning, except now there was a new textbook and Fasha was forced to ask Mr Mulberry again to borrow one.

He let out an exasperated sigh when she asked him, and again stalked over to her desk, standing so close she would have to crane her neck up to look at him. It was a very dominating stance. “We are not off to a good start this time, are we dear?” He chided her.

“No sir,” she agreed, while inside she swore at him for being so difficult.

“I’m going to have to ask you to stay late after class,” he informed her. “Your behaviour has been unacceptable today.” There was a rumbling in the class as everybody snapped up to pay attention. A noise came from them in unison, as if a war cry.

“Oooohhhhh,” they all cawed, their voices rising to a crescendo. The shame burned up inside of Fasha as the giggling laughter began. She buried her face in her hands, willing them to stop. But they kept going, and Mr Mulberry didn’t move from where he stood. It seemed as if time was standing still. Fasha held her head down, feeling hot tears flow from her eyes and into her hands.

Eventually he left and the class forget about her and busied themselves with pretending to read their maths textbooks. Fasha’s textbook lay unopen in front of her as her mind whirled. It was one of those defining moments, where she felt as if the hope in her life was slipping away from her, like water in her hands.

The final three hours dragged on for what seemed to be an eternity until finally the bell rang causing a new sense of dread to crawl into Fasha’s conscious.

She looked up through blurry eyes to find herself staring at Mr Mulberry, seated casually behind his desk. The room filled with an ominous silence, as the children left, taking their joy and laughter with them.

Very slowly Mr Mulberry got up from his chair and walked over to where she sat, as he had already done twice before that day. His gangly form loomed over her, standing so close to her she could feel the fabric from his pants brushing against her face.

“Look at me,” his voice cut through the air like a knife. She tilted her head, desperately manoeuvring her neck to look up at him. He was smiling. “You’ve been bad today, haven’t you?”

“Yes sir,” she agreed hurriedly. His eyes seemed to glint in the faint light.

“You’re going to have to make this up to me, aren’t you?”

“Yes sir.”

“And how are you going to do that?” She could feel him pressing closer, his pants front pushed right into her face.

“I’m not sure sir,” she said quickly, anxiety beginning to grow inside of her.

“You’re going to have to treat me nice, okay?” Suddenly his hand shot out, grasping her head and pushing it into him. Fasha let out a stifled scream, but her voice was muffled by the material of his pants. “Now now, there’s a good girl. You just have to be nice to me and then we can forget this every happened, okay?” His voice was warm and soft now. Fasha didn’t move. She didn’t know what he wanted but he was scaring her and all she could think about was that dark room and the look in her Step-Father’s eyes as he locked the door behind him.

“Don’t play coy with me girl,” the sharp edge to his voice was back. “I know you live in a dirty brothel, I know you’re nothing but a peasant whore.”

“I don’t know what you’re-“ Suddenly her head was slammed down into the desk in front of her. She squealed in pain as he leaned all of his weight down on top of her.

“Don’t you talk back to me girl!” He spat. “When I ask you to do something you do it!” Her head was pulled up again, both his hands full of her hair as he turned her to look at him. His pants were down, and he was exposed. The smile was on his face again.

“Now are you going to be a good girl, or aren’t you?” There was an eruption inside of her, as if all of the hurt inside of her was suddenly lit into flames which boiled inside of her body. Fasha could hear a snarling, like some wild cat and her body moved as if controlled by somebody else. Her small hands reached forward, gripping Mulberry’s pants and pulling him towards her. The snarling was more ferocious now, and the Teacher’s face had lost its arrogant smile, now replaced with a look of terror and anguish. Fasha took him into her mouth, and bit down, tearing his flesh off of him in one rapid movement. Blood spurted into her mouth and he leaped back screaming, his eyes transfixed on the girl in front of him. She was perched on her chair, her beautiful blue eyes morphed into those of a beast, her mouth dripping as she chewed and swallowed his manhood. That image burned itself into his memory, before he ran screaming from the school.


Chapter 13:
The anger passed as soon as it had come; all of Fasha’s senses rushing back in at once. The taste of Mulberry’s blood and flesh filled her mouth, making her gag. She spat out the remnants of his manhood and vomited onto the desk, her stomach contracting violently. Her fear was back now, the panic rising higher and higher in until she found herself in a frenzy, running from the classroom. She ran and ran until she was all the way home. She burst through the door just as the Madam was entertaining some guests. She let out a scream when she saw Fasha’s face. The men bustled out of the room quickly, their previous desires forgotten as they saw the blood, stark red on the small girl’s face.

The Madam rose to her feet with startling speed, bundling Fasha up and rushing her into the back room. “Dear what happened?” She fussed. Soon there were a dozen woman all standing around Fasha as she cried.

“She’s not bleeding anywhere…” One of the woman mused, wiping the blood from her face. “Where did all this blood come from? Did you go to school Fasha?”

“Yes,” the Saiyan girl managed to blurt out.

“Did this happen at school?” Fasha nodded. “Who did this to you?” The girl chewed her lip, feeling the anxiety reach a crescendo inside of her as she pictured the teacher running from the room in agony. “Was it a kid at school?” She shook her head again. “A teacher…?” Fasha’s head slowly moved up and down.

The room broke out in a shocked buzz of disappointed sounds, some angry, others even violent. “I am going to kill that man!” Somebody threatened.

“No!” Fasha suddenly blurted out, causing the whole room to go silent. “Please don’t get in trouble because of me.”

“Okay dear we won’t,” one of them promised, stroking her head. “Can you tell us what happened?”

Fasha remained silent for a long time. Finally, she spoke, “He tried to, do things… I don’t know what happened, I just reacted. It was like a had blacked out and when I woke up he was screaming, with blood spurting out everywhere. He ran and then I ran, all the way home.”

“That bastard!” The woman’s voices rose to a frenzy, each member’s curses carrying louder than the rest. It felt as if a violent outburst were about to begin. But a voice rose up above all the rest.

“QUIET!” The Madam’s deep voice boomed. “Do any of you idiots realize what this means?” Just then there was a knock on the door, a loud booming sound as a meaty fist slammed into the wood. All of the colour drained out of her face at once. “They’re here…”

The door to the front slammed open, splintering the wood as the policemen rushed in. From down the hall the woman could hear their thundering footsteps as they rushed from room to room, breaking down doors and tipping over mattresses. A thunderous voice led them, its echo sending shivers down the spines of every woman in the room. They knew the voice.

He emerged last, following in his policemen who bustled in, forming a ring around the woman and beginning to separate them from Fasha. The leader walked forward, his broad shoulders dominating the room. His bald head reflected the dim light in the room as he strode forward, his fists clenched.

“Well well well,” he mused. “It seems we have a girl here who thinks she is above the law?” His eyes fixated on Fasha, who looked like an infant before him.

The Madam stepped forward “He tried to rape her!” The giant’s arm whipped round and the back of his hand thudded into her face. She fell to the floor, unconscious, gasping for air.

“This is a whorehouse. You don’t have the right to speak back to an officer of the law in such a manner!!!” The room became so silent, all you could hear were the muffled sobs of Fasha in front of him. “Take her back to the cells. She needs a lesson in respect.”

Rough hands grabbed at her and began to drag her from the room. The woman stood still, fear in their hearts and sadness dripping from their eyes. She was bustled out, between men so big that they looked like monsters to her. Their hands were calloused, and she could feel their rough skin cutting into hers like a knife through butter. The Police bundled her out onto the street and snapped a pair of handcuffs onto her hands. They tightened them so tight she felt the metal cut into her flesh. It made her yelp in pain, but it was lost on their ears. They threw her into the van, sending her crashing into the floor. Her hands were tied behind her back, so she landed awkwardly on her left shoulder and face. She lay there in an awkward heap as some Officers climbed aboard afterwards. She let out a whimper and was rewarded with a sharp kick to her gut. She bit her lip to avoid crying out in more pain. The men sat on the benches around her, leaving her in the centre of the floor.

The van took off, flying up the road, bouncing and jostling on weak suspension over the pock-marked streets. Every bump caused Fasha’s body to lift off of the floor and come crashing back down. She lay there like a rag doll, occasionally her body rolling to the side where a soldier would shove her violently with his foot back to the centre. Sometimes the momentum was so great she couldn’t help but tumble quickly to the side. This would result in a vicious stomp from one of the Officers. One stomp was on her ankle. She felt her a snapping sound when that happened, and it took everything inside of her to stop crying out.

Eventually they came to a stop and the doors were flung open. She noticed the sun was setting as she was bundled outside. They had taken her out of the city. There were pine trees all around, and a thick mound of snow settled on the ground. They were high up in the hills, overlooking the sprawling Capital city blow, shining with industrial brilliance.

She didn’t have long to enjoy the view, as she was soon dragged away and into the closed confines of the station. It was a small building, consisting of a small reception desk situated in the corner of a large open office. One half of the building was devoted to the cells, which were at this moment empty. There was another door off to the other side which led to a large glass panelled office. The Boss’s office. Beside this was a strong door with a small window.

She was taken straight to this strong door and thrown inside. It was an interrogation room, with two uncomfortable looking chairs and a rickety wooden table. She was placed in chair and her cuffed hands looped over its back. The officers then left the room and slammed the door behind them.

This can’t be real, Fasha thought to herself. This must be a dream. How has this happened? Where is my Mum? Her thoughts were panicked and disorganised. She quickly stood from the chair and moved to the door.

“Please let me out! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt him!” Suddenly the door flung open, smacking her in the face and causing her to fall backwards onto bottom. Her nose erupted with blood as it was smashed to pieces.

The bald man walked in, slamming the door behind him. He had a smile on his face which sent a shiver down her spine. He picked her up as somebody might pick up a pillow case and plopped her back down on her chair. He set a tape recorder down on the table and sat down on the chair opposite, his weight almost causing the chair to collapse underneath him.

“Now,” he spoke, his voice like gravel. “I want a confession.”

Fasha shivered. She wasn’t sure what he wanted her to confess to. “To what?” She asked tentatively. The giant didn’t move, instead he transfixed his eyes on her.

“I want you to say in this tape recorder, that you are a prostitute and tried to solicit Mr Mulberry. You will explain that you were quite insistent about it and threatened to tell people he had done something to you anyway if he didn’t. Then you will admit to biting off his manhood, and that you are guilty. If you don’t do it, I will just keep you here anyway. If you do it, then we might be nice to you.” His eyes didn’t blink, they stayed transfixed on her, and moved his large hand to the tape recorder. He flicked it on, so that a red light came on and passed it to her.

She spoke into the microphone, detailing everything he told her to as if it was somebody else speaking. She knew she wouldn’t be leaving here alive if she didn’t do it. Her voice was surprisingly even and calm as she spoke, as if she felt confident in her words. Like they weren’t damning words. The bald man’s smile grew wider and wider as she spoke. He looked ecstatic by the time she had finished. Without another word he got up and opened the door. Some officers walked into the room and began to drag Fasha out. She looked pleadingly at the bald man who stood leering at her. “Are you going to let me go?”

He laughed. “Not until we’re done with you.” That smile he had on his face would haunt her dreams for the rest of her life.

She was thrown into a wide-open cell. It was bare concrete, extremely cold to the touch. There was a few thin mattresses in one corner and a small bucket which Fasha guessed was her toilet. The cell stank, despite being open to the frigid air by a few wide set barred windows up high above her reach.

She turned back to look at her oppressors. There were two of them, plus the large bald man. All three of them were rough looking men, with battered and squashed faces and evil in their eyes. They began to advance on her, huge shadows looming over her. Fast as lightning their hands shot out, gripping her wrists with the force of iron. She was thrown face down into the corner of the cell, the cold concrete burning her skin. Two of the men held her arms and legs, holding onto to her so tight she could feel bruises forming and their nails biting into her skin. She could hear the third man coming up to her from behind, feel his hands begin to tug at her clothing. Fasha managed to look up, spotting a thin sliver of light coming in from the window. The outside. Freedom. A match struck inside of her, the small flame falling onto a pool of gasoline hate. The fire struck, and inside she exploded. Her vision went black again, and all she could feel was an intense heat all around her, and the sharp high pitched shrill of screaming men.

When she opened her eyes, she was huddled on the floor of the cell. Her clothes had been burned off and the ground around her was scorched and charred. The remains of the three Policemen drifted softly in the winter breeze, their weapons red hot amongst their ashes. She stood up shocked, now acutely aware of the pounding of footsteps and the rattling of keys outside of the cell.

The girl dove for the gun closest to her, raising it up to the door, the nuzzle shaking violently in her hands. The heavyset door swung open violently, and there stood the bald man. His huge form ducked as he tried to fit into the room. His beady black eyes darted about the room, his mouth slightly open in surprise. BAM! The gun went off, and a bullet pinged harmlessly against the door beside him. It was then that his eyes snapped to Fasha. He moved with the speed of a cheetah, covering the distance between them almost instantly, ripping the gun out of her hands before she could even fire another shot. His other hand gripped her around the throat, hauling her into the air effortlessly. The giant brought her face close to her own, his coal-black eyes regarding her with unmistakable menace. She whimpered in his grasp, feeling every bit the scared and sad girl again.

“You did this?” His voice was sharp but quiet. She just whimpered, shivering against the cold wind and choking as his grip strengthened. He pulled her even closer, so that she could smell his breath and see the vessels in his forehead pulsing as his blood boiled with anger.

“I don’t remember,” she squeaked. He did not blink, just continued to stare into the small child’s eyes before he dropped her roughly to the ground. She clutched at her throat, and rolled out to the corner of the room.

The giant stalked from the room, slamming the door behind him and leaving Fasha to freeze in the bare cell.

6379/14139/23174
Edited by Fasha, Apr 3 2018, 04:29 AM.
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The Pacific -Nominee for RP of the Year 2017
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The Regime pt. 1
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The Doctor eventually called them into his office around noon. He was ecstatic, pacing around the room and waving his arms about as he talked. “What a fantastic outcome! You two must be elated! That was a very successful surgery! One of my best! You are one of the best outcomes we have ever had! Congratulations to you!”

Colin stood and extended his hand. “Thank you so much for everything you have done for us Dr Horsfeld, I am truly indebted to you for such a service.” Ella too stood to pay her respects and offer thanks. She grasped his sweaty hands in her own and lowered her head to demonstrate her respect.

The Doctor accepted the gesture with his chest puffed out and a huge smile on his face. He motioned for them to sit back down while he continued to tirade around his office, waving his hands about madly.

Eventually Colin had to stop him. “Excuse me, Doctor?” He spoke up, raising his voice to be heard.

“Yes?” Horsfeld stopped, turning to the elderly man.

“When will be able to leave here?”

“Oh,” the surgeon seemed to think for a moment. “Well just as soon as we finish a few investigations.”

“And how long is that going to take?” Colin questioned.

“A number of days,” Horsfeld replied vaguely.

“What’s to stop us from just walking out the door?” The Android retorted, somewhat out of uncharacter. It made Ella snap around to look at him, shocked by his curtness.

“Colin!” She scolded.

Horsfeld held up his hand, with a thin smile spreading across his face. “No, no it’s alright Ella. Colin forgets himself. Now if you’ll excuse me.”

“Yes of course,” Ella was getting to her feet, but Colin stayed sitting. His body was rigid and tense, in a way she had never seen him behave before. “Colin!” She whispered. “Come on!”

“No,” Colin stated defiantly. “I am not leaving until you tell us exactly when we may leave.”

The Doctor laughed. “Well, since you asked you may leave at my discretion and not a moment before.” His eyes were dark and staring as they stared Colin down. The Android rose to his feet suddenly and made to move towards the small man. The Doctor moved quickly, and before Colin could get around the desk he had produced a small remote control in his hand. This made him come to an instant stop. “Please make your way back to your room.” The Doctor urged again.

Colin backed away, feeling the anger boil up in his blood. The pair made their way back, and when the door was closed behind them Ella was the one feeling angry.

“What was that all about?!” She screamed. “He asked us to wait a few days, which you would have done in any hospital anyway!”
“I’m sorry dear, I don’t know what came over me.”

“Well you better be reigning it in, because I won’t be walking around with some hothead who has forgotten his manners!” She promised.

Colin bowed his head in shame. “I am so sorry! Please it won’t happen again.”

“That’s the second time I have heard that today,” she reminded him, after fifty years of not hearing it once.

That was a blow to Colin. It made him feel different somehow, like he was turning into somebody he was ashamed of.

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Edited by Android 20, Mar 25 2018, 04:52 AM.
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The day dragged past. Before the surgery everything had seemed like such a luxury, but now to Colin it all seemed so meaningless to him. The room felt small, and while his wife didn’t think anything of their extra days here, Colin thought of it as a prison cell.

Ella could relax down into the couch and turn on the TV, but Colin couldn’t. He would try for as long as he could, but the energy in his body would build and build until he felt like he was about to explode. It was then that he would leave and resume his training on the stairs. Only when he had run up hundreds of flights of stairs could he return, calm enough to sit with his elderly wife.

The tension between them grew over those days. Colin was like a coiled spring and seemed to have lost all his old appreciation for the quiet activities which had characterized their retirement. He had changed, and they both knew it. They used to have long conversations, for hours on end about any topic in the world. Now when she tried to talk to him he would twitch and move his head around. His brain struggling to fixate on the one topic and darting its focus all around the room.

It was like he was manic. He had so much energy that it just couldn’t be contained within this small room. Night time was the worst. The couple used to go to sleep by nine o’clock every night, but he would stay up and pace the room. Turning the TV on and off. Running baths, getting in and then getting out again.

When he had done an excessive amount of exercise, he was more manageable. But putting his hyperactivity aside he had changed in so many other ways. He was becoming more irritable. Little things would get to him, and occasionally he would fly into lengthy tirades. He often fixated on his ‘confinement’ here and would work himself up into such a state that Ella had become afraid of him.

Usually Colin had seen the fear in her eyes and had quickly reverted to his normal passive personality. He would quickly apologize and do his very best to make it up to her. Giving her foot rubs, making her cups of tea, asking her questions about how she was feeling. However, much he tried to make it up, she never completely felt comfortable. His outbursts were getting more and more frequent, and he was taking longer and longer to recover. She had begun to worry about what he might do, and she too was now looking forward to when they could be released.

The investigations were just as thorough as before the surgery. They put Colin through a battery of tests, which included things he quite enjoyed. They wanted to know his endurance, speed, strength, mental acuity, memory, personality testing. It was exhaustive. It was fortunate however, as without those tests her husband may well have completely lost control. His favourite test was speed. This involved tests on treadmills where he could run as fast as he wanted for as long as he wanted. Recently he had been clocking fifty kilometres per hour, faster than the record for the hundred metres and for far, far longer too.

Another test for his speed was an obstacle course. This was by far his preference. It was like a kid’s playground, but on a much larger scale. Some of the sections would be downright dangerous but he would fly through them like some sort of monkey. One part in particular stuck in Ella’s mind. Colin had just scaled a ten-metre high rock climbing wall, using only the tips of his fingers to hold onto the meagre grips. At the top of the tower was a huge gap, maybe eight metres in length to the other tower. There was no safety set up between the two structures, and so to fall would result in a human breaking every bone in their body. Her husband didn’t even hesitate. He flew across the gap, landed deftly on the other side and was on to the next portion. Often, they had to force Colin to stop on the obstacle course. He was like a kid playing with his favourite toy.

Sometimes the tests were more sedate, involving lying still for sometimes hours on end. Before the surgery, this had no been a problem, but now he had to be sedated.

It was difficult to drug a robot, so instead they brought out a remote control which they could use to shut down Colin any time they pleased. He hated that, and it made Ella feel slightly uneasy too. They had complete control over her husband, and she was beginning to find it harder and harder to believe that this sort of treatment was ethical, let alone legal. She brought this up several times with Dr Horsfeld and the nurses. She was blown off again and again until she demanded that somebody answer her questions.

Dr Horsfeld then smugly produced the contract that she and Colin had signed prior to the operation. He underlined several lines in the contract which had appeared remarkably innocent at the time, but in retrospect were controlling pieces of legislature: “Will be required to remain under the care of Dr Horsfeld and Gero Incoporation until the staff have deemed the patient safe to him/herself and society.”, “We will reserve the right to use sedation where required in order to ensure the safety of the patient, staff members or society as a whole.”.

After seeing this contract, Ella demanded a lawyer. The Surgeon of course promised her one, but after several days, there was still no sign of them. She kept asking and asking, and again and again she was given the same reply. “We’ve sent for them, but they’re obviously quite busy.”

“Fine!” She had snapped at Dr Horsfeld one meeting. “But, when are you going to let us out of here!?” The Physician took this outburst quite seriously, unlike the ones he was frequently getting from her husband.

“Look,” he held up his hands. “Just one more week?” He phrased it as a question, which was polite but Ella immediately saw through it as a command.

“One more week,” she agreed.


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True to his word, they were released after one more week. The couple felt like lifelong prisoners finally being able to walk out of the institution that they had called home for the past two months and smell the fresh air of the outside world.

Their car took awhile to start, after having sat stationary in the Gero parking lot that entire time. Colin drove, take his accustomed place behind the wheel. He ran his hands of the leather grip, revved the engine, slammed the car into gear and took off. It was a thrill driving again. Ella was twitchy beside him, but he felt comfortable and in control, sliding in and out of traffic as it sidled its way back to their little life of suburbia.

Walking back into their home felt unusual. The last time they had been in there Colin was moribund, and both had been living inside hollow shells, their existence a mere routine. Now they were both relatively healthy, and it seemed like the house was brighter and the world so much more open.

Before her husband could disappear for some exercise, Ella guided his energy into cleaning up the house, and moving their things back into the rooms. It reminded her of instructing a kid to tidy up their room.

After they had settled in Ella collapsed down onto her bed, sinking into the familiarity and breathing a sigh of relief. The nightmare was finally over, and her and Cole had the rest of their lives to spend together. She felt that they must celebrate this momentous occasion, and decided that they deserved a holiday.

Colin meanwhile was busy running down the street. He kept pace with the cars as he ran in his corduroy pants and tucked in shirt. Commuters stopped to stare at him as he flew past, occasionally causing an accident.

The Android just laughed. He ran as fast as he possibly could, unhindered by any walls or stairs. He was free! It wasn’t long before he started to make his way out of the suburbs and into different parts of the city. It felt like he was exploring the city as if for the first time. Being able to travel so fast on foot meant you could see so much more, than stuck behind the four glass panels of a motor vehicle.

Once or twice Colin was moving so fast he forgot to check both ways at an intersection. He had only just narrowly missed being hit by a truck. The driver reflected his consternation by slamming his hand repeatedly on the horn. The Android laughed and waved to the trucker, who began swearing and making his way out the cab. Colin just kept running, through the winding streets of the metropolis.

Eventually he found himself in a neighbourhood he had never even come close to before. It was then that he slowed down, in order to get a better look at this new environment. Graffiti lined every inch on the dilapidated buildings. Many of them had fallen into disrepair, partially collapsed and rotten. The roads were marked with large pot holes and it looked as if a council worker had never visited the area. There were people on the street, they milled around in large groups, brandishing heavy set muscles, square heads and particular colours.

Colin spotted one group sauntering towards him. They were all very large men, their big heads covered with crude tattoos. Their eyes glared at the elderly man as they closed in, spreading out to form a circle around him. The biggest of the crew stepped forward, his head shaved completely bald and his blue eyes boring into Colin. He mumbled something intelligible and went to shove the stick of a man in front of him. When his hands made contact however, he found himself moving backwards, while the old man stayed rigidly still. Colin couldn’t stop himself from smiling.

This small facial gesture caused the skinhead to fly into an unbelievable rage. The slightest attack on his pride was too much for his fragile psyche. He flung himself forward, letting out a series of sloppy haymakers.

Colin had never been in a fight before, and so had no idea what to do when faced with such an onslaught. He tried to back away but found himself hemmed in by the men behind him. They grasped at him and held him firm as the leader attacked. His first connected firmly with Colin’s face, but to the Android’s surprise he didn’t feel anything. All he felt was the snapping sensation as the gang member’s hands shattered on his jaw. The man howled in pain, staggering back and holding his hand.

“He broked my hand!” He yelped. With his good hand he reached into his jacket and pulled out a revolver. With rage in his eyes he turned it on Colin. This was the last thing the old man remembered.

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When he awoke he was crouched in an alleyway, the sound of sirens filling his ears. Where the heck am I? The Android peered out from behind the dumpster he was hiding behind to see a police car rocket past. Instinctively he ducked back into hiding, not really sure why he was doing so. He desperately tried to recall how he had got there, but nothing came to his mind. The last thing he had remembered was the gang member pulling out a pistol and then nothing. Did he shoot me?

The Android ran his hands over his body, trying to take stock. To his shock he found that he was drenched in blood. Holy fuck he shot me! He panicked, desperately searching for the wound. Wait… He suddenly realized. I don’t bleed anymore. Whose blood is this?! Panic took over him. Colin had never even harmed an insect in his long life, and he was finding it hard to believe he could have done this to somebody.

A screaming siren roared past, causing the old man to flinch. Are they looking for me? Colin’s mind flashed to the scene of his arrest, and being thrown into a cell too small to even run. His basic instincts took over and he ran to the end of the blind alley and threw himself into the wall. His fingers dug into the crumbling brick and his feet kicked footholes into the building. He began to scale the wall, to his own disbelief.

He pulled himself up onto the roof, collapsing over the precipice into a heap. He was breathing hard, but not for the lack of oxygen. It was like his mind had taken over his robotic body and was forcing it into raw and organic panic.

He slowly got to his feet and looked out over the cityscape. He could hear sirens everywhere, squealing like banshees as they tore through the street. Their blue and red lights flashed, illuminating through the gaps in the buildings to give the night an ominous glow. The greatest source of light was a few kilometres further into the projects. Colin made his way towards it, across the roof of the building. Did I do this? He gritted his teeth, suddenly angry with himself, the fear evaporating like water from a boiling pot. I have to find out.

Without thinking Colin launched himself from the building, flying through the air with ease and landing on the next building eight metres away. He landed deftly, almost soundlessly as the pistons in his legs compensated for the force. He turned back in amazement to see where he had leaped from. A tinge of pride trickled its way into his subconscious as he looked on his feat. With renewed vigour he began to leap from building to building, enjoying the feeling or soaring through the air as he went.

When he got closer to the concentration of Police he slowed down and crept towards the edge of the building. He slowly raised his head up over the edge and looked down. There were almost a dozen cars parked at defensive angles around the open street. Many of them were marked police cars, and some were sleek, black and anonymous. It was those that scared the Android the most.

Colin recognized the street; his last memory had been there amidst a horde of gang members as he had smiled. The Police Officers seemed to be grouped around a yellow-taped-off section. In the centre of this was a large dark stain, covering most of the street. There were objects strewn about on the concrete. In the past the old man wouldn’t have been able to differentiate them, but now it was obvious that these objects were limbs. They were everywhere, and helpfully located by the many Police markers about the place. Colin’s eye was drawn to one Police marker situated up in a nearby powerline. The arm was draped across two lines, sparking and scorched as an electrical current coursed through it.

The old man couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t have done this! He looked down at the blood on his clothes and the doubt and guilt settled on him. His clothes were crackling and stiff from the dried blood, and he couldn’t find a single inch of himself that wasn’t covered.

“Shit, shit, shit!” He exclaimed. He knew he had to find a change of clothes, and quick. The massacre below had caught quite a lot of police attention. It seemed like every available unit had been called out to the incident. Niggling doubt crept into the Android’s mind as he wondered if that was all he had done. After all it was now dark, and when he had blacked out it had been bright in the sky.

The cyborg vaulted across the rooftops, trying to put as much distance between himself and the crime scene as possible. His legs carried him at unbelievable speeds, he felt like a cat prowling among the tree tops, but instead of chasing down his prey he was instead running for his own life.

A helicopter roared overhead. A deep thundering boom boom boom as it descended on top of the buildings. This was serious. Colin dove to cover, pushing himself up hard against the wall of the rooftop.

The light of the chopper flooded over him, briefly casting him in its blinding light. Colin watched as the machine soared overhead, its light sweeping the buildings in a large arc. He waited and waited for it to turn back. Thankfully it never did, just keep making its way across the cityscape like a stalking predator. Colin got to his feet and began to dart away from the helicopter, the fear reaching a new intensity inside of him.

He began to feel tired. Not the kind of fatigue that a human gets, but something deeper, like his internal reserves were depleting and his body was beginning to shut down. He could feel his stride slow and his leaps lessen. On one glide between buildings he felt his mechanical legs almost give out on him, and his flight almost fell short of the edge.

By now he was far away from the crime scene, and the Police sirens and thumping of the helicopter were just distance noises reverberating through the still night. Colin was too tired to keep going, and he had to find some cover, because up here he was exposed to the prowling beast, terrorizing the skies.

The Android turned to the rooftop exit, a small building set in the corner of the building. Colin tried the handle, it was locked. He was now in a more respectable area and the complex was bound to be inhabited. He needed to open the door, but he couldn’t break it down because then the Police would be called, and he would be in deep shit.

Colin stopped to think for a moment, trying to calm down his racing but tired brain. He tried to think back to the marketing ploy they had shown him of all the amazing things that the Androids could do after they had the switch. One of them had been superheating things or causing explosions to come from their hands. It had seemed too ridiculous and far-fetched at the time to even consider, but now Colin was desperate. He put his hand on the door knob and concentrated it, trying to imagine heat flowing from his body and into his hand.

The metal from the handle began sizzle and bubble. Colin watched in amazement as it fell away through his hands, and the lock too. The wooden door opened, the locking mechanism now disintegrated, leaving only acrid smoke rising from the hole. Gently the Android nudged the door open and stepped into the dark stairwell. He began to make his way down the steps, tentatively nudging his way down while keeping a tight grip on the railing.

After a few minutes of shuffling through the gloom he had an idea. Holding his hand out palm up, he concentrated on it again. He tried to imagine the warmth in his body flowing into his hand. It again surprised him to see his efforts come to life. Pure, white hot energy erupted in his palm. It was like fire and electricity at the same time, quietly crackling as it illuminated the fire escape. Colin’s progress went much more quickly after that.

Choosing a door at random, the Android entered a long hallway. There were numbers on all of the doors and peep holes so that the tenants could look out. If the cyborg still had a heart, it would now be thumping in his chest. He needed clothes and he needed a shower, he wouldn’t survive long out there caked in blood like this. He also couldn’t bear the thought of Ella seeing him like this, it would be too much for her. It made him feel sick to think of her at home waiting for him. He must have been gone for hours, on their very first night at home.

Colin didn’t move for a few seconds, listening out for any activity. The building was deafly silent. It was late, and their appeared to be no light emanating from any of the doors. Without anything else to go on, Colin picked a room at random and placed his hand on the door, just as he had done before. The warmth flowed from his body and onto the handle, melting it away as if it were butter.

The same acrid smoke began to rise up from the door. It was thick and dark. Colin watched with horror as it crept up to the ceiling where the smoke alarms chirped, ever vigilant. His fear caused him to move faster. He dashed into the apartment, now completely heedless to the noise he was making. He found himself in the empty darkness of an open plan lounge and kitchen. He found a door to his right and burst inside, his hand held up and illuminating the darkness.

A man stirred in his bed as Colin walked in, but the elderly man ignored him. He stripped off his clothes and walked over to the closet. Grabbing the first thing he could find he turned back to find the bathroom so that he could quickly wash. Standing behind him was the man, dressed only in his underwear and brandishing a very large pistol. It held steady in the man’s hands as he levelled it at the Android’s head.

“Don’t you fucken move scumbag,” he warned. It was then that the smoke alarm went off, a shrill screeching sound as it cut through the still night. The man turned his head, just for fraction of a second, but it was all Colin needed. He threw his hand towards the tenant, causing his light to rocket out from his hand and fly through the air. It exploded into the man’s chest, causing him to scream in agony. His body was launched backwards and into the wall, caving in the thick plaster. His legs hung through the gap, unmoving. To the elderly man’s surprise, he felt nothing. He could hear people panicking in the building now, and the soft hiss of the overhead fire extinguishers spraying out water. Calmly Colin walked to the bathroom and got into the shower. He could hear sirens coming closer, but he wasn’t worried, it would be awhile before they cleared the building all the way up to this floor.

When he was done he dried himself off and dressed in the dead man’s clothes. They felt fresh and dry as he slipped them on. Not daring to turn the light on, Colin summoned energy in his hand and examined himself in the mirror. He looked tall and strong standing there in a flannel shirt and jeans. The boots he had taken from the closet made him look rugged, like maybe he was a farmer. Behind him the lifeless form of the tenant lay. Colin ignored him as he adjusted his clothes and then stalked back out into the night.

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The sun was just a large haze in the sky, blurring the vision of the Paladin as he lied fallen amid a sea of burning steel and fellow brothers. He could no longer feel his body, just the pain that radiated throughout. His quivering eyes caught sight of something floating towards him from the horizon. Her white cloak fluttered behind her like a pair of angel wings. He thought she was Lady Light, an angel of heaven sent to collect her fallen knights. She made her way gently towards her, and the Paladin flinched in fear.

“N-no…I’m not ready to die yet…”

Her figure now bloating out the sun, the angel reached towards the man and embraced him smoothly along the cheeks. Her bare skin touch was comforting, like silk to the skin. “You do not have to die yet, brave warrior. I offer you life, but you must give me something in return.”

His heart fluttered, his eyes strained, his breath rapid and weak, “A-anything!”

He saw a smile crest itself from beneath the shadows of her white hood.

“Your soul.”


--

A loud humming alerted the cold ears of the steel man as the Galactic Shuttle began to slow its descent. In the darkness of his closed eyelids, a block of red text read out;

TARGET: Prof. Todd
LOCATION: Unknown
OBJECTIVE: Locate informant Bee


His eyes slowly opened, his audio receptors becoming more attune to the needless chitter chatter of the other passengers beside and around him. Without turning his head, his built-in scouter surveyed the entire carriage of the shuttle, displaying their names and power levels for the steel man to read. Without sharing in their prattle, without even looking at them, he knew them all.

A chiming sound caught the attention of his audio receptors, and the grey skinned man turned his head towards the screen at the end of the carriage. A fair, blond hair woman stood, smiling a million-dollar smile.

“The Galactic Patrol welcomes you to Yaidrat, home of the art of Instant Transmissions! Many fighters travel here to earn the right to learn from Yaidrat’s famed masters. But if fighting isn’t your thing, feel free to do some sight seeing around Yaidrat’s ancient temples and villages! And travel is made easy by our many Instant Transmission practitioners ready to serve you for a small price! They can take you anywhere you want to go in just a jiffy! But Yaidrat can be quite a drought sometimes, so be sure to drink plenty of water! Once again, the Galactic Patrol thanks you, and welcomes you to Yaidrat! Enjoy your stay!”

The man’s yellow pupil gaze lowered from the screen as he caught sight of the passengers ahead shooting curious glances. They all shifted their gaze as he glimpsed at them. He paid them no mind.

As the shuttle made its final descent upon the planet’s surface, all the passengers except the steel man shifted involuntarily in their seats from the sudden shift in momentum. But the steel man sat perfectly still, unmoved by the shuttle’s landing, like a statue perched on the ledge of a building.

“Excuse me…mister…?”

He suddenly felt someone touch his right bicep. Though he didn’t actually really feel it. At least, not in the sense that the word used to carry for him. No, it was more as being registered. Turning his head slowly, the giant glanced upon two young ladies. His scanner read their blue and white uniforms, and the red text ‘Keliouxian Scholar Students’ read across his HUD. They seemed to have quite a bit of travel gear with them, perhaps on a research trip? The one prodding him with her finger seemed to blush, indicating that she was nervous or embarrassed about something. The other one had dilated eyes indicating some sort of excited anticipation. The eyes of the one prodding him seemed to light up suddenly however, “Are you a musician?”

The other one leaned over the head of her friend, “No way! That clothed covered ‘cross’ on his back is definitely a sword! And that sick black ponytail! This guy’s definitely a Paladin Knight!”

The last word shot through the grey skinned giant’s heart. Yet it didn’t reflect in through his body or facial expression, all still just frozen in time like a statue. The giant simply turned his head, and stated, “You should not be speaking with me.”

“Huh?”

“W-why not?”

“Because-“ the man stopped slightly. He wanted to say his name. The name of the one who made him this way. The one who turned him into a monster. But all he saw was red text reading, ‘SYSTEM LOCK’. All he was programmed to say was, “-because he’s watching…”

The words seemed to spook the two girls, and he could hear the squeaking of them scooting down further away. This was good. At least they would only walk away from this with the memory of a short creepy experience. Nothing more.

A bell chimed once more, and the doors to the shuttle slid open. The man rose from his seat. A metallic noise rattled from underneath the long cloth package he had strapped to his back, catching the curious glances of strangers beside him. He pushed his way out the door, paying no attention to the passengers in front of him. An attendant seemed to bark at him but he ignored her.

The station he was in was steamy and grimy. His sensors in his nostrils indicated he was breathing Yaidratian air. A breakdown of the exact amount of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals were listed in one corner of his HUD. His audio receptors retrieved sensitive information from the strangers at the stations. Though all the information was mostly just sobby ‘goodbyes’ and ‘hellos’. The man made his way down a flight of stairs that lead away from the public. His scouter suddenly alarmed him to five incoming power levels. It was alarming because they were much higher than any other in the vicinity, including those of the security guards.

Stopping just a few feet from the bottom of the stone staircase, the man reached up and untied the tassel at the middle of the ‘cross’ he held on his back. The cloth fell, first revealing a long black handle, then the rest of the claymore resting inside a white-steeled sheath. Five red blips on the man’s built in scouter showed that the five figures were carefully yet swiftly surrounding him. Three to his back, and two to his front.

The giant watched as the two in the front descended the staircase before him before stopping just yards away. One of them pulled an item from his back pocket and displayed it out towards the giant. “Galactic Patrol, stay where you are.” The grey skinned giant could hear the tapping of feet stop behind him as well. The five red blips stayed perfectly still in his scouter.

“You sure do like to be hard to find. Haven’t been able to keep up with you for the past couple years. But that’s the thing with you assassin types, eventually you get lazy,” the lead man stated as he traded his badge for a blaster at his belt. “Assassin 14 is what they call you, eh? Not sure what the 14 stands for, but I’m sure you’ll tell us. Now, hands behind your back.”

“Please.”

The man paused, “What?”

“I do not want to kill you.”

There was a moment of silence. The assassin could tell that all the men were exchanging curious glances. Lieutenant Dan laughed, “Please, there’s no way to run. We got you. Now cuff him.”

The man foolishly etched forward, his partner also moved in with a pair of large cuffs. The assassin could hear the three behind him pulled out their own blasters. Yet his eyes remained forward. All the information he needed was from his built-in scouter, showing just how far the men were, and how far he needed to reach.

Moving without thought or hesitation despite his previous plea, the giant’s hand came up to the hilt of his sword and swung it out around him. The sound of crunching bone and splattering blood filled the air, and then was replaced by the sound of the five men’s now split bodies hitting the ground. And like a feedback loop, his scouter detected the area for any remaining power levels before the giant’s arm shook his long blade clean and then flipped it back. Hearing it smack against his metallic sheath, he lifted the tip up and then slid it into the sheath. “Forgive me Demonsbane…for I have defiled your sacred blade once more…”

His eyes moved about his handiwork. intestines poured out of the men’s split bodies, blood quickly raced to cover the floor. He stepped away from the puddles of blood as they began to merge together and began to make his way up the next flight of stairs when one hand suddenly reached out and caught his boot. Glancing down, he saw Lieutenant Dan’s wrestling for each breath as he struggled to ask, “W-what…are…you?”


The assassin tried moving his lips once more, but they froze. He wanted to say ‘I’m a former Paladin…I’m being controlled…his name is…’, but his lips stayed silent. The only words that were deemed acceptable by his security systems eventually escaped his lips;

“I’m Frankenstein’s Monster…”

The assassin stood silently, waiting for his systems to be satisfied that the man was fully dead. The target was dead. And the android was feel to move once more. The text appearing before his eyes once more;


TARGET: Prof. Todd
LOCATION: Unknown
OBJECTIVE: Locate informant Bee


-----

A14 WC: 1619/1619
TWC: 29,256
Edited by Android 14, Apr 7 2018, 02:35 AM.
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The purple skies of Kanassa were lit up with fire. Explosions and rockets filled the air so violently that it shook the man’s visions as he flew through the streets. His grip tightening on the handle of his blade. Demonsbane, don’t fail me now! His ki erupted behind him, launching him forward towards his group of adversaries.

“HRRRRYAAAAAH!” The man bellowed as he swung his sword through all eight of their bodies. Sparks flew against his silver armor, bouncing off his face plate. He felt the handle of his sword vibrating in his hand as the blade ripped through the metal bodies. Sliding to a halt as the tip of his blade sunk itno the ground, Dirk glanced behind at his handiwork. The eight artificial bodies of walking turret cannons ceased their fire and fell to the ground, electricity crackling from their sliced open wires.

The Paladin gazed ahead at their handiwork, seeing the district of civilian houses billowing out towers of black smoke. The Paladin cursed the solders of the Steel Legion, “Damn soulless bastards!”

An intense sharp pain shot through his right arm and he lost the grip on his sword. He quickly snatched it up with his left and rolled behind the cover of one of the fallen droids. Ki bolts erupted around him, destroying more of he buildings. Gazing over the edge of the burning steel of the corpse, Dirk saw a brigade of steel solders marching in unison towards him. He saw the glimmer of a sniper somewhere behind him and he ducked under just as a stream of ki flew over him.

He went to his communications channel, but it was filled with the screams and panicked shouts of his fellow captains.

“I repeat, we need reinforcements at the West Wall! We’re being overrunned-“

“There’s too many! Too man-AAAAUGH!-“

“Commander Krys, where’s the fucking Calvary?!”

“Commander Krys!” Faine froze when he heard the panicked voice of a familiar captain, Feyna. “The North Wall’s falling! I’m the last one left! They’re coming-DIE YOU BASTARDS!!! DIIIIIIEEEEEE!!”

The channels were suddenly being cut off, one by one, and Dirk knew what that meant. Yet he had no time for sorrow. Before he could call for reinforcements however, a trail of rockets overhead caught his attention.

"No…" He watched as the rockets reached their destination and tore apart the watchtower at the center of the city. The tower fell into pieces like a bursting volcanic eruption. “COMMANDER KRIS!!!” As soon as he rose, an implosion across the side of his face ripped his facemask off. His trusty companion Demonsbane caught his fall as its large tip dug into the ground as a makeshift crutch. The Paladin gazed in the direction of his attacker, noticing the brigade of steel troops had now grown twice in size.

Rage now filled his mind. Adrenaline now rushed through every vein of his body as the Paladin leapt across his makeshift cover. His Avalonian steel blade sparking across the ground as he drug it behind him. The unit ahead changed the trajectory of their shots and began to aim at the charging man. His armor began to quickly tear apart under the barrage of fire. But rage was still building, and the man threw all caution to the wind as he lunged blade first into the steel horde.

“FOR THE BROTHERHOOOOOD!!!”


-----

The outer walkways lead ot the edge of the station. A large tourist group of travelers moved slowly as an expert guided them. Keliouxian Scholars were near a large map display, coordinating their field trip carefully. Several other aliens seemed to be either meeting or parting ways, tears filled in their eyes. The Android picked up on all of this, yet he didn’t shift his gaze from its straightforward glance. Once more, his scouter pulled all the information to his eyes.

A orange silhouette formed around one individual. He was a short Yaidratian, and he was lingering near the exit way. A ID cursor appeared above his head,

‘OBJECTIVE BEE FOUND’

The android strolled up to the man, and the Yaidratian smiled. He clearly recognized who the man was. “Good evening sir, may I interest you in our many sighting seeing spots?”

“Take me to the objective.”

“Huh, man of few words eh?” the Yaidratian stated with a frown. He reached out and grasped onto the man’s leg. “Very well.” In an instant they were gone, reappearing in an alleyway.

Assassin 14’s scouter began to instantly pick up on all the power levels around him. They were all incredibly low, and vastly scattered around him. “We’re in the slums, on the outskirts of the city.” The gray skinned giant gazed down at the smaller orangish-red alien. “Doctor Todd was spotted here recently, according to his surveillance.”

The giant knew exactly who he was referring to. His nameless creator. The man who stole his life. Doctor Frankenstein himself.

“Where is Doctor Todd’s house?”

“Down a couple alleys from here. I’ll take you to him.” Bee stated. He began to walk when he suddenly stopped, peering over his shoulder, “Oh, and just so you know. There’s been a couple of Protectorate warriors hanging around his place recently. They keep trying to get him to come with him, but he’s not leaving for some reason.”

The Assassin’s electronic face scowled, “They are no threat to me.”

Bee chuckled as he began to lead the giant through the alleys. “Yeah, I believe that. That sword of yours is pretty damn impressive. How much does it weigh anyways.” The giant said nothing as he silently followed behind the Yaidratian. Still, his silence didn’t deter the alien away from constantly trying to start up a conversation. He kept asking about the sword, changing the way he asked a question or his tone as if that was going to change the assassin’s mind.

Finally, the Yaidratian paused near the corner of an alley. He gestured with a thumb towards the end of the alley. “At the end there is Prof. Todd’s house. Kinda run down, so unless there’s the Protectorate goonies hiding around there, then you shouldn’t have any security to worry about.

Without gesturing any sign of affirmation, the assassin began to walk towards his destination. “Hey!” he paused. “Before I was recruited by your employer, I was also offered another job…” The giant gazed over his shoulder. The Yaidratian already placed his two fingers placed near his temple. His eyes narrowed with delight as a sinister grin curved across his tiny face. “I was offered to keep an eye out for any possible assassins after the professor, and to inform him of any potential danger he could be in. So, before I decide to take up that extra cash, how about you convince me not to?” Bee gestured with an open palm. “Just a little extra zeni won’t hurt, and I’ll keep my lips sealed.”

‘OBJECTIVE RECONFIGURING….
NEW OBJECTIVE OBTAINED
KILL BEE’


A stream of ki energy fired from the assassin’s orange pupils and pierced straight through the skull of the Yaidratian. The former informant fell to his back, now just a lifeless carcass. And one of many that the giant would add to his long list. Turning back around, Assassin 14 scanned the area. His ki beam didn’t detect any strangers, and for now, it seemed like his cover was still intact. He continued to move down the alley, appearing right behind the back of Prof. Todd’s house.

-----

A14 WC: 1242/2861
TWC: 30,498
Edited by Android 14, Apr 7 2018, 02:35 AM.
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Commander Krys reclined himself into his chair with a sigh. He shrugged with his shoulders, “My hands are tied.”

Standing before the man’s desk was a battle-hardened woman in steel, the knuckles of her metal gauntlets pounded on the desk, “But we know they’re advancing! Two cities have already fallen to the Steel Legion. There’s reports of even more reinforcements coming their way! We don’t have the men or the equipment to hold them back if they decide to attack! If the Brotherhood doesn’t do anything, then we’re just gonna be sitting ducks ready for slaughter!!!”

Faine watched as the commander sighed and sunk deeper into his chair. The man’s golden, messy hair draped over each side of his head. His pronounced jaw was covered with a five o’clock shadow. Faine had spent years serving with his commander, as the two had originally begun as recruits together in the Brotherhood. Throughout their over decade of a service together, the two of them had been through hell and back, literally. Yet he had never seen his old comrade so disheveled before.

Leaning forward closer to Fiona, the black-haired giant placed a large calming hand on her metal shoulder pad. “Come on Lady Fiona, we both know what sticklers the higher ups in the Brotherhood are. But when the time comes, they always pull through.”

Fiona turned her fierce glare to the man with such intensity it actually caused the giant to flinch. “This is different! We’re sitting ducks here! There’s a war going on across the galaxy, yet the Brotherhood doesn’t seem to deem it worthy to reinforce one of its primary outposts?!”

Faine surprisingly smirked, “Lady Feyna, let me ask you, who was there to back us both up doing the rebellion on Scalok VI?”

The woman in iron bit her lip. Faine’s smirk grew wider. “And who was there to rescue your sorry ass when everyone else took you for dead back during the assault on Gurkon?”

She rolled her eyes and head back.

“That’s right, Commander Krys,” Faine stated. “We may not always be able to count on the Brotherhood, but we can count on him. He’s been there to guide us through worse than this. He’s got our backs, you know that.”

“Fine!” Feyna shouted as she waved her hands up. Her expression softened, but still carried the weight of her worry as she caste another gaze upon Krys. The Commander seemed to try to reassure her through a smile. Chuckling, Fiona shook her head, “You know Faine, it surprises me that a family man like yourself always has the back of a man like Krys.” She grinned mischievously at Faine. “You know, I heard rumor that he’s found his own little Kanassan squeeze here already.”

Faine bellowed out a hearty laugh, relieved to see Feyna back to her playful self. “Well, I suppose many would find it weird that I’m friends with the both of you concerning your hobbies off work.”

“Speaking of which,” Krys spoke up. “Feyna, I have some harassment reports from some of our recruits concerning you-“

“I’m outta here,” Feyna stated as she walked towards the door with a laugh. She stopped at its doorway however, pausing for a moment before turning over her shoulder. The same concern present on her face, “Commander Krys, you know I’ll follow you to the ends of the universe. But please, see if you can do anything about getting a bit of reinforcements yeah?”

The Commander nodded his golden lock head, “Of course.”

With that, the lady in steel left, and the two battle worn brothers were left with each other. Staring at the empty doorway, Faine felt his cheerful smile slowly fade from his square jaw. “Commander…”

“…”

“Things aren’t looking good are they…?”

“…We’ll be fine, Faine…You can count on me.”


-----


Assassin 14 stood just a foot away from the rear wall of Prof. Todd’s house. His scouter reached out, identifying three different power levels within the building. One of them was quite low, while the two were of considerable notice. The grey giant knew that the lower one must belong to Prof. Todd. The scientist was certainly no fighter, but who were the other two? Yaidratian guards? Hired muscle?

Raising the volume in his audio receptors, Assassin 14 began to hear the voices inside begin to talk. Their tones came in high, they were exchanging words rapidly. Most likely arguing. Then, the words became more clear.

“Professor please!”

“I’m not going anywhere!”

“If you stay here you’ll die!”

“If I go with you I’ll die anyways too! His reach is everywhere! He has contacts on Earth, Kanassa, Namek, everywhere! There’s not a single piece of Protectorate property that can shield me from his influence! No, I’m much better here, thank you very much!”

“Professor…I understand your hesitation,” the voice belonged to a woman, the second of the higher power levels. “But the Protectorate has been studying his moves, studying his tactics. We have our contacts too, and they’re keeping track of his workings in the underworld.”

“That’s what he wants you to think! But he’s only doing that to lure you into a false sense of security! That way he can come around the back and blam!”

“Professor, this is getting ridiculous,” the other Protectorate member stated.

The professor kept shutting down the pleas of both of the Protectorate knights, while Assassin 14 was suddenly confronted by a terrifying thought. Would he have to kill two Protectorate Paladins? Despite all of the dark tasks that he had performed, all the assassins and biddings for that man who cannot be named, none would be as low or dark as killing a holy protector of the Brotherhood. Yet if they chose to get in his way, that would surely be the end result.

Before he could give it any further thought, his inner programming was already taking over. His ocular vision locked onto where the Professor was standing in the building, and his eyes began to charge with ki. The built up energy was released, and two trails of pink ki shot and pierced the professor straight through the brick wall. He heard the professor gasp, followed by the cries of the two possible Protectorate knights.

The assassin was ready to book it, ready to leave as quickly as possible in order to not invoke any further combat, when suddenly a red text display flashed across his HUD:

OBJECTIVE: Retrieve Data Stick from Prof. Todd

The wall of bricks suddenly imploded with a loud combustion. Granite flew over Assassin 14’s head as he leapt backwards, swiftly dodging an overhead swing of a golden, double bladed battle axe. His emotionless face frowned as his heels slid back to a stop. Standing before him, in the white garb of the Protectorate, was a Namekian Paladin. Yet just from the armor set he wore and the weapon he held, the assassin could tell that he was still a lower rank.

Damn, no… The assassin quivered at the thought of killing one so young in rank. Yet despite his objecting thoughts, his body moved. First drawing the five foot claymore from his back and blocking an incoming chop. Then moving side to side to avoid future cuts, expertly blocking each of the blows from the Namekian’s mighty battle axe. Assassin 14 was actually impressed with the lowly Paladin’s abilities, he was certainly more skilled than his rank would lead on. There was even a thought, though a very fleeting one, that this Namekian could be the one to finally end the man’s suffering. To sever his head, or stab his heart, or wherever his life organs were now, and finally bring an end to his hell.

Yet, despite the Namekian’s talents, the assassin knew it was only a matter of time. Just as quickly as the paladin had impressed him, Assassin 14 was beginning to see his flaws. The Namekian was emotional, and the more the assassin drew out the conflict, the more brash he became. Leaving himself open to strikes again his vital spots, all of which the grey skinned giant was quick to attack. Eventually, the Namekian dove back, covering his ground with a ki blast from his mouth. It was large and powerful enough to cause Assassin 14 to halt in his assault and counter by lopping the ki blast in half.

Now, standing several yards away, the Namekian raised his golden axe skyward with both of his green hands clasped onto it. “Ordinor, give me strength!” Green electricity flared from the Namekian’s antenanes as they stood up on end. The energy began to crackle and slither around the battle axe, brightening up its edges with an intense green light. Had Assassin 14 possessed organic eyes, he could have possibly been blinded. The Namekian then swung the axe blade to his side, the energy that crackled forth from it tore apart the wall beside him. He then began to quickly rush at the assassin, shouting out a battle cry.

Assassin 14 grimaced. He lowered his sword to the side in a relaxed position. Its handle grasped by both of his gloved hands. He knew exactly what technique the Namekian was using; and unfortunately, he knew how best to counter it.

As the Namekian ran forward, his glowing and electrifying battle axe tearing up the rest of the alley wall, Assassin 14 began to visualize his next steps. The movement made it seem like the Namekian was going for a horizontal, or upward angle cut. Yet his true motive was to lift the axe above his head in a swinging upwards arch to come chopping down on his opponent’s head in a technique known as ‘Skull Splitter’. Once again, Assassin 14 was impressed that such a low rank knew such a high ranking maneuver, but once again the Namekian’s green colors were showing through. The technique was too risky to use so carelessly. Without a partner somehow pinning down or entrapping the opponent, the Skull Splitter with ki ignition was too risky of a maneuver. It left the user open to a counter attack mid-swing.

Just as the Namekian lifted the glowing battle axe over his head only a few feet away from his opponent, Assassin 14 swiftly ignited his blade with a flaring purple ki, and then side stepped to an angle with an upwards diagonal slash. The axe swung harmlessly by him as his ki ignited sword sliced through the Namekian. The purple ki leaving the Assassin’s blade as it ignited around the green Paladin, set his entire green body ablaze.

“I cannot ask for forgiveness, Demonsbane, for tainting your holy blade with sacred blood,” Assassin 14 whispered to his blade as he heard the thumping noise of the Paladin’s now lifeless body hitting the ground.

Turning around as his arm whipped to the side, swiping the blood from the blade of the long claymore, Assassin 14’s eyes zoomed ahead. Peering into the large crater at the end of the alley, the assassin saw Professor Todd’s body being attended to by the lady paladin. He saw something leaving the old man’s coat and into the woman’s hands.

“…Don’t do it…”

The paladin peered across the alley way, glaring at the assassin before clenching the data disk in her hand and then turning the other way and fleeing. A line of red text appeared across Assassin 14’s head.

OBJECTIVE: RETRIEVE DATA DISK FROM PALADIN

-----

A14 WC: 1908/4769
TWC: 32,406
Edited by Android 14, Apr 8 2018, 12:39 AM.
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The boy swung his wooden sword viciously against the giant. Their wooden swords clacking with each strike. The giant was reeling with defensive blocks, but he swiftly changed pace by stepping backwards and evading a strike. He lashed his sword to nick the boy against the shoulder, but he was too nimble. The young lad leapt back with his sword up in guard. The giant moved his sword so his blade was held out horizontally. The boy responded by lowering his down to an angle. The giant grinned. He rushed forward towards the youngling, turning his blade upwards and down upon him. The young lad simply dashed in at an angle, evading the downwards chop and raising his wooden blade across his opponent’s torso.

The giant bellowed out in pain, flaying his arms out for dramatic effect as he stumbled to and fro. “T-This…cannot be!!” he stated in an overly monstrous voice before falling to his back in a loud ‘thud!’ The boy ran over to the giant and placed a triumphant foot upon his chest. Lifting his wooden sword into the air, he cried out, “Look at me! I have slain the wicked giant!”

The boy’s younger sister burst into applause with rapid hand claps, but then leapt up to her feet and rushed to his side. “My turn! My turn!”

“No, not yet! I get to go again!!”

Sensing with eyes closed at the potential conflict, the giant rose to life once more and grasped the two children in his large arms. “The wicked giant lives!” the two children laughed uncontrollably as the giant tickled them into submission.

The three of them paused when they heard the bedtime cue of a sliding door. Standing in the doorway, the giant saw his beautiful wife standing in the doorway. Her body clothed with a white sleeveless tunic and white slacks. Her black, shoulder length hair parted in the middle. Her blue eyes glistening like crystals in the ocean. She smirked as she placed a hand by her hip.

“Alright, that’s enough slaying for tonight. Time to get ready for bed.”

The children moaned and pleaded, “Can we stay up just a bit more mom please mom please?!”

“Not tonight, you’re father has an early leave tomorrow. And you two want to be able to get up early enough to see him off don’t you?”

The children’s moans turned into whimpers, and the woman sighed as she begrudglingly glanced at the giant for support. Smiling with a chuckle the giant squeezed his two children closer to him. “If you two get ready for bed in five minutes, I’ll read you a bedtime story.”

The children immediately leapt to their feet, excitedly running past their mother as they raced towards their bedrooms. The woman smiled, “Bribery isn’t fitting of a Paladin Knight.”

The knight’s smile grew uncontrollably upon glancing back at his wife’s smile. He rose to his feet, “Ah, but tonight I’m a wicked giant.”

His wife moved closer to him, her eyes narrowed as her smile curved, “Oh, how wicked?”

He reached out and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Wicked enough for you.”

She laughed as she wrapped her arms around the back of his neck. She lifted her head, and the two locked lips. Then, she curled her head into his chest, and the two held each other for a warm embrace.

“Mmm, maybe you can read me a bedtime story tonight too.”

“Sure, how about when I first asked you to dance?”

He felt her laughter against his torso, “You mean when I asked you to dance?”

Chuckling, the giant responded, “Oh right, I keep forgetting…how did it go again?”

The woman released a long sigh before lifting her head upwards. Placing her chin on his chest as the giant peered down with a gentle expression. He could peer into her crystal like eyes for eternity.

“It was the Festival of Swords. An entire week of competitive duels all ending with a torch lit party late into the night. The stars of our ancestral warriors watching down upon us.”

“Oh, that’s right…”

“I took first place and you took second in the week-long competition.”

“Hmmmm, it was a close one though…”

“No, it wasn’t. But you were the only man to shake my hand after getting beaten by me. You even congratulated me.”

“You deserved it.”

“I remember seeing you standing across the festival floor, all by yourself. When I caught you glancing at me, you blushed.”

“Probably something I ate.”

“I honestly didn’t think you’d accept my offer to dance, but you did. And that’s when I knew…” Her eyes seemed to glisten as her smile softened. She was losing herself in his eyes now. Such gentle, dark eyes that stared down at her.

Then, a sudden darkness came over her face. Though she quickly tried to hide it. She placed a quick kiss on his lips and then turned away from the embrace. The giant already felt cold as soon as she walked away.

“I’ll go make sure the rascals really are getting ready for bed and aren’t still playing…”

The giant frowned. “What’s wrong?”

The woman stopped. Her back still facing him, he could see her bow her head. Her hands moved to her front as she clasped them together almost nervously. He had rarely ever seen her this way.

“It’s nothing…”

He quickly took steps closer to her, placing a large hand by her side. “Tell me…” Craning his head to her side, he saw a sorrow stricken expression on her face. He instantly turned her around to face him. “What is wrong?” He firmly asked once more.

She sighed, her eyes refusing to make contact with him again. “It’s just…I have this feeling…”

“What feeling?”

“I…I don’t want to say it.”

“Tell me!”

Her now quivering blue eyes raised up to meet his eyes. “That you won’t make it back to me.”

Shock struck the giant. Never before had he seen his wife seem so stricken by grief or sorrow. She was a steel lady, a woman of battle. She was never like this. He quickly tried to dissipate her worry by pulling her closer to him, leaning his head down lower to embrace foreheads. He smiled.

“I will always come back to you.”


-----


The target was fast, darting across the rooftops of the slums as she flew through the air. Yet the Assassin was in hot pursuit. He followed at a distance, not wanting her to throw back a ki blast at a short distance. His oculars zoomed in on her figure, and he could see blood trailing down her chainmail. Apparently, his ocular ki beam that killed the Professor must’ve also pierced her. It was nothing more than bad luck that got her tagged. Yet it was her choice that sealed her fate now.

Even though the Assassin knew the outcome, knew that no matter how much he struggled or wrestled, he couldn’t change his programming. No matter how hard or fast the woman fled, he would catch her. And he would kill her.

They flew for a few miles out of the slums. The Assassin could practically hear the beeping of his programming, analyzing the situation. Eventually it was determined that it was too risky to let the woman continue to flee. After all, she was perhaps fleeing to a rendezvous point where reinforcements lied in wait. His oculars burned once more as two twin pink beams shot out and struck the woman across the back. He heard her shriek out in pain before falling to the ground. The giant trailed after her.

The Paladin swiftly recovered, able to somewhat control her crash landing. She spun to her feet. Both hands reaching to her sides and pulling out two large daggers. She stood in a frantic battle stance. “Come at me assassin!”

The grey skinned giant landed several feet away. His sword still grasped in his hand and its silver blade hovering above the ground. It was still red hot from the ki blade that killed her Namekian companion. The assassin once again accessed the woman, his oculars revealing that the data disk was attached to her belt.

“You must work for him! The one behind all of this!” The Paladin shouted. “For the love of all that lives in the light, I will not let this information fall back into his hands!”

The assassin was silent. He knew what his task was. There was no reason for talk. Yet he did notice the woman’s change in her gaze when she beheld the man’s sword.

“That is…Avalonian Silver Steel!” she cried. Her green eyes glanced back to the Assassin’s orange eyes. “You…why do you have that?”

For some reason, the assassin paused. His systems didn’t force him to attack just yet, as the woman was standing defensively. He had time to answer. But he wasn’t sure why he felt compelled to. Perhaps, it was a need to feel accountable for tainting the blade.

“This sword…” he almosted wanted to discard the sword as being ‘nothing’, or a mere ‘tool’. But he knew better than that. He knew better to disregard his sacred blade as being nothing more than just a piece. Though he hated himself, he knew that this sword once served a great purpose. It didn’t deserve to have its name tarnished. “This sword…is Demonsbane…and it once belonged to a great Paladin.”

The woman’s face turned into a snarl. “Y-You…you dare kill a Paladin, and take away their sacred blade?” She watched her fingers grasp the handles of her dagger tightly. Her forearm muscles were twitching. Her expression snarling.

He grimaced.

No…please, don’t…let’s just stand here forever. As long as you don’t run, and don’t attack, we can stand here forever. I won’t have to kill you. Just please…stand still…

The Paladin launched herself with a scream, “FOR THE BROTHERHOOD!”

In an instant, he felt his blade run through her body. Gutting through flesh and bone in one swift strike. He heard her gasp. Her blood splattering across the ground. Followed by the thumping noise of her chain mailed body hitting the dirt. The silver steel forged into his sword was strong and sharp enough to cut through any armor. And its blade was tainted once more. Yet the assassin didn’t bother to attempt to inquire for forgiveness any longer. He knew he didn’t deserve to ask for it.

Turning around, the assassin walked over with an empty gaze towards the woman’s cleaved body. He reached down and grasped the stick by her belt when he heard her voice speak up, gurgling with blood. His audio receptors were so sensitive and fine tuned that they managed to piece together he mumbled, gargled speech into a coherent sentence that flashed across his eyes.

‘WHAT ARE YOU?’

The woman had already breathed her dying breath when the assassin erected himself back up. He secured the Data Disk into his side pouch. The red text ‘OBJECTIVE COMPLETE’ flashed across his vision.

Then, the giant stood there. A gentle breeze lifting up his long dark ponytail. He could feel the chill of the breeze brushing against his flesh. Yet he knew that he didn’t actually ‘feel’ it. It was his flesh, but it was carved out. No blood ran through its veins, and it served only as a means to hide his true form. Even the strands of his black ponytail were strands of artificial hair. And when he looked into the mirror, the few times that he did, he saw eyes that were not his own.

He was a spitting, crooked image of the man he used to be. Not nothing was his. Nothing was him. The only part of him that remained, was his conscious.

“I am darkness. I am violence. I am plague. I am the blade in the night, I am the fury of the mad. I am immortal,” his eyes narrowed as he glimpsed into the horizon, seeing the light from the sun stretch out into eternity, “I am all of those things and more…for I am cowardice.”

-----

A14 WC: 2024/6,793
TWC: 34,430
Edited by Android 14, Apr 9 2018, 03:37 PM.
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End of Prologue

Begin of Epilogue - The Witch and the Knight

The sun was setting in the distance. The grey skinned assassin stood near the edge of the cliff overlooking the Yaidratian Desert. A gust of warm wind brushed against his side gently lifting his long black ponytail. His ocular vision zoomed in on the sun setting in the distance. Watching the large orange orb sinking behind the dark mountains. It reminded him of that day, the day that changed his fate forever. And he kept finding himself revisiting that moment lying upon the battlefield. Had he chosen different, his fate perhaps could’ve been different.

Even though it wasn’t that long ago, the feelings he felt that day seemed so distant to him. Perhaps because everyday since then he had experienced so much worse. Lying for dead on that battlefield was now a cherished dream for him. The thought of death being so close, it would be a dream for him. Now death was an eternity away. He would be forced to carry out his master’s bidding forever. Until one day, when he could meet his death at the hands of a skilled warrior.

But would that day ever come? Or if he did, where would he go? His hands were stained with too much blood of the innocent to bring him to the Valley of Light; the eternal resting place for all fallen Paladin Knights. Would instead he trade his hell for another? If that was the case, then it would be far welcomed to his current torture. For then at least he wouldn’t be forced to commit any further crimes. Instead, he would be burning forever in a lake of fire, allowing himself to drown in his sins forever. No longer would he hurt anymore innocents.

There was a footstep in the ground behind him. Turning his head around, Fourteen saw a white cloaked figure standing before him. His ocular vision told him nothing about her. No power level was detected, no ID assigned. She was a ghost in his system. But that didn’t matter, for he knew he well. She was the fake Lady Light. The demon posing as an angel offering life. Instead he got servitude. And now she had been watching over him ever since. Through the darkness of her white hood, he saw a smile creep upwards, “Sightseeing?”

Fourteen imagined himself launching forward towards the woman. Wrapping his large gloved hands around her throats and squeezing hard; forcing the life out of her with every fiber of muscle in his large body. Yet it was only in his imagination. His systems forbid him from doing any harm towards the woman. The only thing he could do was shout curses at the woman. He was sure that she could program him not to, but for some reason she seemed to enjoy the verbal profanity. Like a cruel child watching an ant burn underneath their magnifying glass, she enjoyed to see his peril. She enjoyed the torture. So he had learned to be silent, to save her from her pleasure.

The woman’s hands reached up, pulling back the edges of her white hood to reveal a fair face. Her purple hair was bowl cut, with each bang seeming to be meticulously cut precisely to ensure a straight light. Yet there were two long bangs that shot straight down the edges of her face, framing her face with two perfect spear tips. Her doll like eyes were heavy with eye liner as they stared with anticipated delight towards her prey.

“We have some upgrade to perform, Fourteen,” the woman spoke with a soft tone as she lifted one hand from underneath the cloak. In her hand she held a small device that Fourteen came to describe as a ‘witch’s wand’. In it she seemed to have magical powers. Pressing on one of its smooth buttons on the wand, Fourteen saw the rocky wall behind them begin to shift. A hidden rocky doorway was open that lead into a dark tunnel. The woman turned to go down and Fourteen went to follow her when he suddenly stopped.

“Wait till I call you,” the woman stated delightfully. Menacing dripping off each of her words like venom dripping from fangs. Fourteen was forced to obey, waiting near the edge of the mountain. She would rob him of any little freewill he still possessed. Perhaps the only reason he maintained a conscious at all was for her own pleasure; to treat him like her personal doll.

“Fourteen, come!”


------

Fourteen was laid across an operating table large enough to hold his large frame. His prosthetic body laid bare. He could already tell that his large forearms had been de-attached. The rest of his body strapped down by long leather straps. He stared directly into the light above until it was bloated out by the silhouette of the woman’s face. His oculars adjusting to the change in light as he saw the white of her teeth smiling and her eyes glimmering, “I’m installing some ki cannons into you right now. They’re provide you with an extra punch. They’re one step closer to getting rid of that useless sword of yours anyways…”

He tried his best to hide his scowl, yet even after learning how to put up with her abuse, there were still two buttons that she could always push to get a rise out of him. To insult his sacred blade; or to insult his family. Fourteen tried his best to hide his emotions regarding his family. He didn’t want to provoke her to stroke for more information regarding them. If there was anything he could still do to protect his family, he would do it. So if he had to indulge in her torturey nature, it would be that of his sacred blade.

The woman’s face leaned even closer to his as she straddle one arm to his other side. Her two spear like bangs dangling on the edges of his cheeks. “If I had my way with you, I would fill every part of your body with firepower! I would give you enough firepower in your pinky to level a city! But…” her eyes shifted to the side with an annoyed frown, “it seems like he’s much more fascinated with your former Paladin past. I don’t see why though.”

Even the woman, this engineer of chaos, wasn’t allowed to speak his name. Whether she simply couldn’t, or wouldn’t, was still a mystery to Fourteen. Was she like him? It wouldn’t surprise him if she was a puppet of the Oppressor’s as well. Yet if she was, why wasn’t she sympathetic to his cause? During his early stages of this transformation, he had once begged and pleaded with her. Promising that if she found a way to set him free, he would work together with her to free them both from the Oppressor and end his evil reign. She simply laughed in his face, reveling in his tears.

Pulling away, Fourteen could hear the woman pressed on some switches on the computer monitors beside them. Peering from the corner of his eyes, he saw her shift to another table right beside them. He could see his gloved fingers curled up on the edge of the small table. Whatever she was doing she was doing it to her arm. Turning around, the woman held up a metallic cannon barrel. There was a delightful grin across her face. Her teeth bared like fangs. “This is your upgrade. One in each arm. Able to charge and blast out a power enough ki blast to level a small mountain!” She cackled with delight as she turned back to her work. Fourteen turned his eyes back to the light above; grimacing about the future damage he would no doubt cause with these new weapons.

He began to meditate on other things. He had learned to do this while under her operating knife, when he had learned that all of his begging and pleading only served to please her. His mind never seemed to be his own, and at times he tried not to think about his past in fear that these memories could be scourged by the Oppressor. He tried to just remain an empty shell thinking that this would take away his pain. But it didn’t. He was still in misery, and he needed to revisit those simpler days to ease the pain. Back during a time when he was still in control of his actions. When he was a glorious Paladin serving the light and protecting the innocent, instead of subjugating to darkness and slaughtering the innocent. It took some practice, but eventually he was able to allow all that around him to fall to darkness. He was transported to another time, when the coldness of the table was replaced by the warmth of grass and soil beneath him. His wife’s body lying beside him. The Avalonian sun hovering above. The sky swirling with blue and white.

It was a simpler time.


Fourteen stood at the edge of the targeting range. On the other side was painted bullseyes on the metallic walls. He felt an electric jolt cause both of his arms to raise up straight in front of him. Yet he stood emotionless. Hearing the voice of the woman behind him, “Time to test out those upgrades!” The clicking noise of switches and buttons rang out behind him, and Fourteen’s extended fists suddenly popped open. They hung by a latch around his wrist. He heard a loud humming, his arms began to vibrate, and a bright yellow light started to form around the ends of his forearms.

“FIRE!”

The orbs fired forward, creating large streams of yellow ki to fire out towards the wall of targets. The recoil shook Fourteen’s entire body as the beams filled the entire walkway of the range. A loud explosion erupted at the end and once the smoke cleared, the walls at the end large craters in them. No sign of the painted bullseyes remained.

Fourteen heard the woman’s cackling laughter echoing behind him. She was laughing almost uncontrollably. “YES! THAT’S WHAT I’M FUCKING TALKING ABOUT!! Maybe when he sees this display, he’ll finally throw away that useless metal stick of yours!” She began to press and flick some other controls. “Now it’s time for the live targets!”

Fourteen’s eyes widened with fear. Live?! He could hear her pressing some more switches behind him, and the coveyor belt at the end of the room began to hum. The wall opened to both sides as the floor slide to the side, carrying out three Yaidratians into the range’s end. They were in shackles on their hands and feet. They looked frightened. Particularly at the sight of the grey skinned giant staring across from them. Fourteen suddenly heard the humming and felt the vibration of the his ki cannons charging once more.

“No please!” He suddenly broke out. “Don’t do this!”

The woman responded with laughter, he could hear her voice getting slightly close to him as if she were leaning over the controls. “By the way, you want to know what was on that data disk you were forced to retrieve for us?”

Fourteen could feel the vibration becoming more rapid as energy started to gather towards the barrel of his arm cannons. He tried to move, but his system held him in place. Red text appearing across his vision, ’SYSTEM LOCK’

“That data disk contained a new form of vegetation that could grow without disease, and could learn to eventually adapt to multiple planet atmospheres. Basically, ending famine and world wide hunger on any planet. But he has a different use for it. And these three scientists staring down at you were supposed to give the device to him, but they chose another path. Now, they get to pay for their crimes.”

Fourteen could see the tears forming on the edges of the Yaidratian’s eyes as they continued to cower in fear. But either from the shackles or the flooring they were forced to stand still.

“PLEASE! DON’T!” Fourteen pleaded once more. “PLEASE SPARE THEM!! THERE’S NO REASON TO KILL THEM! I’LL DO ANYTHING!! ANYTHING!!”

He could only hear her laughter echoing behind him. “Oh Fourteen, how I’ve longed to hear your begs once more! Its been much too long! Let me hear you cry out for your gods, cry for their help once more! I long to hear your cries!!!”

Hectically, Fourteen began to think of any possible reasoning he could use to spare the Yaidratians lives. Yet ultimately he knew it was futile. He could see the spheres of energy growing to their max, no longer able to view the hostages at the end. And then…

BOOOOOOM!!!

The recoil shook him more violently this time. His vision was shaken and blurred. His audio receptors seemed to go deaf for a moment, then he could hear the woman’s laughter once more behind him. Far ahead, he could see nothing but black smoke at the end of the room.

But something was different. The laughter of the woman behind him ceased as she began to curse and smash on the controls behind him. A red line of text spelled out in his HUD. ‘SYSTEM FAILURE – SAFETY DEFENSE SYSTEMS DOWN’

Recoiling and lashing out like a viper, Fourteen spun around and launched himself at the witch. His large frame tore through the panel of controls as he stroke the woman across the face. His hands still hung by latches, but the assassin lunged forward after the woman’s falling body. He straddled her as he reached out to grasp her throat with both hands. The piping red hot barrels of his cannons burned into the woman’s flesh as he attempted to crush her throat. But she was stronger than he expected, and he wrestled to squash her soft flesh. Her doll like eyes bulged out with pain. An expression he had never seen before. And he even heard her gurgle with blood.

Fourteen then cried out in pain as a large jolt of electricity struck his body. It lit his spine alive with fire and set him falling to his side. The woman released herself from underneath his large leg and began to crawl to her feet. Fourteen saw the remote from earlier grasped tightly in her hands. As she rose to her knees, she shot it out with a wicked snarl. The jolt of electricity returned, causing Fourteen to convulse uncontrollably upon the ground.

“HOW DARE YOU!?!?” The woman shouted. The remote extended from her hand like a sound or a wand, casting a spell upon the former Paladin. Her left hand grasped around her still charred throat. Her eyes wide with rage. “You…you fucking piece of junk!” She violently pressed down on the button once more and the intensity of the electricity increased. Fourteen could no longer make out his vision. All he could see was bright light as his body was filled with pain. It eventually stopped, but Fourteen was no longer in control of his body. A red line of text appeared across his vision, ‘SYSTEMS CRITICAL’ He lied there motionless, his arms and legs all twisted around him. His head lying on its side and his black ponytail draped over his chin. He could see the woman quickly rising to her feet and then proceeding to walk around him.

Damn… Fourteen finally managed to think. He could hear the door sliding from behind and the exiting echo of the woman’s footsteps. I was…so close…

-----

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Edited by Android 14, Apr 9 2018, 03:39 PM.
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Fourteen awoke. The light of the surgical lamp above him was present once more. He could feel the coldness of the table against his prosthetic skin. From what he could tell, he still had all his limbs attached. Yet he was strapped down once more. Hearing footsteps and peering from the corner of his eye, Fourteen saw the woman walking towards him. She seemed to have lost that signature sinister smirk of hers. She circled around Fourteen’s before stopping just above his head. Her black eyes stared down at his. Her voice raspy and painful, “Looks like you missed your shot, Fourteen.” Her dark eyes narrowed, “Just a few more seconds’, that’s what you’re thinking right now isn’t it? Just a few more seconds, and you could’ve been free. Is that what you believe?”

Snapping her hand up, Fourteen could see the remote held in her grasp. His eyes involuntarily widen from the anticipation of a painful shock. Upon seeing this, the woman’s grin re-appeared. “But when will you ever learn…you’re never escape me!”

Her face snarled as she jammed her thumb into the remote, and Fourteen’s entire body was lit up with a blazing electricity. His body banged and rattled atop the metallic table. After a few seconds, the woman released her grasp on the button. Fourteen lied slightly whimpering in pain. It was a fresh feeling, but a familiar one. His new body prevented him from feeling pain in combat. Cuts and burns to his body didn’t seem to affect him. Yet this electrical current seemed to originate from his spine. It fired up all of his systems, making it feel like his prosthetic skin was bare flesh being pressed against flames.

The woman cackled as she strolled to Fourteens side. Then she whipped around in similar fashion to how he recoiled before, grasping her hand around his neck. “I’m in control here! He’s put me in charge of you, and I’ll never let you go…you’re mine Paladin, now and forever!”

Fourteen’s orange pupils turned to face her. A grin slightly appeared across his face, “Say his name, witch.”

She cackled, slightly lower this time, “Why would I give you his name Paladin?”

“I don’t want you to say his name for me. Say it for yourself.” The woman slightly recoiled. Fourteen could feel her fingers loosening slightly around her neck.

“What do you mean?”

His eyes narrowed, “Its because you can’t say his name.” The woman’s eyes narrowed back. “It’s because your just like me…a puppet for someone else’s pleasure.”

The woman snapped her hand back and swung up the remote and jammed the button once more. Fourteen’s head pulled back with painful convulsions. His body shook against the metallic table. It went on for a few seconds longer than before. Eventually it stopped. Fourteen’s audio receptors were ringing loudly.

“Keep speaking Fourteen! Keep speaking and see what happens!”

The former Paladin chuckled, “I felt your flesh…it wasn’t human!”

An electrical shock fired through his spine and shook his body once more. This time, his vision began to shake and blur. He could hear the incessant beeping of his electrical system in his head. Yes…just a little bit more…and it’ll all be over… The Paladin didn’t care if he had a coward’s death at this point. Anything to end his torment here on this plane of existence.

“You know nothing of what you speak! You incessant, over-sized piece of junk!”

“Does it bother you…?” Fourteen forced out a chuckle. The woman towered over him, glaring with red hot eyes. “Does it bother you…to look yourself in the mirror, and now that all that you do to me, someone has the potential to do to you.”

The woman towered over him. She raised her ‘wand’, almost as a threat. Yet the man took it as an invitation. “That in the end, you’re not really in control!”

Another shock rocked his body. The woman’s eyes almost bulging out of her head as she held the remote up like a dagger with its point aiming down at the man’s heart. Fourteen’s body banged and banged against the table. He was sure he was creating dents by now. And he could feel his conscious slipping away. He could feel his electrical systems frying from within. Yes…please!

Suddenly, everything stopped. The electrical firing was gone. The purple haired woman was just as surprised as the former Paladin was. A line of red text appeared across Fourteen’s visual display, ‘SYSTEMS CRITICAL – BACK-UP PROTECTION ACTIVATED’ Fourteen sighed with grief. Of course…it would never be that easy… The Oppressor must have installed some sort of safety feature that prevents the security systems from killing him. Had he possibly foresaw that the former Paladin would try something like this? If so, then he must truly be the devil.

The purple haired woman tsked with disapproval as she peered over at a nearby monitor. Then, her eyes slowly glanced back at Fourteen. “So…that’s what you were planning all along eh? You couldn’t kill me, but perhaps you could do yourself in eh?” Her lips twitched in anger before curving into a wicked grin. “…but this is good. It means I can keep bringing you back and back to this point, and keep playing with you until you answer one question for me…”

She waved the remote like a wand once more, “Who’s in control?”

-----

Darkness surrounded him when he eventually came to. Hours of horrendous torture had seemingly ended. The immortal was now surrounded by darkness. A thought occurred to him, had he been successful? Did the witch end up accidentally killing him? Was he now dead? The question was answered when a line of red text appeared through the darkness: ‘OBJECTIVE – ELMINATE MASTER YALON SILAS’. Feeling began to return to his entire body as he heard his systems humming to life inside his head. Opening his eyes, Fourteen found himself in the back of a dark alleyway. He could feel the weight of his sword leaning against him.

“No…it was just a dream after all…” Fourteen rose to his feet, swinging his sheath blade around his back. The former Paladin would never be free. Never be able to find rest. He was forever a prisoner, to both the Oppressor and the witch. No matter how hard he struggled.

And oh, how he struggled.

------

Continued Here

-----
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Edited by Android 14, Apr 10 2018, 01:52 AM.
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Interim: Iron Beast

--Current Day—

The Android stood among the scattered remnants of the steel beast around him. The monstrosity of a creature was now nothing more than scrap metal, raining like molten rain from the sky. Colin walked through the debris, a coy smile on his face as he replayed his triumphant moment again and again in his mind.

The cavern above was wide upon to the cold desert air above, and the underground city was bathed in light. It was unusual to see it illuminated in such a way. It made the city seem brighter and cheerier, despite being half destroyed by the onslaught of some crazy beast.

Colin made his way to the ruined building where he had left his fellow robot. The huge beast had booted him with a foot the size of a truck, and sent the Android flying through a dozen walls before coming to rest there. Most people would have been literally dissolved by the force of the kick, but Faine – as he called himself – was not a person. He was a machine, custom built by the same fanatic who had built Colin. Now they were both stronger than they had ever been in their previous lives. In the old man’s case he had been transformed from a terminal vascular patient into a superhuman. Now he was on another planet, fighting big monsters and teaming up with giants.

The old man made his way into the building to find his comrade Faine, lying on the floor. The scanners built into Colin’s eyes ran over the robot, checking to see what the damage was. It didn’t appear to be significant, and so he knelt down closer to the big man and put his hand on his shoulder.

“You doing alright mate?” He knew he would be fine. It was no longer in their nature to die. Being Immortal had always sounded like a blessing. Eternal life. A million second chances. You could spend your life doing whatever you wanted, and time would never be a waste. The time had long past since Colin had decided it was a curse. More and more he wanted to die. And many times, he had tried to make it happen, only to be thwarted by some unseen presence. Even just before Colin could have let himself die in the beast’s belly. It would have taken was flying a second faster or reacting a millisecond later and he would be vaporized, along with the metal animal. Now he was here, kneeling over to another doomed to the same fate as him. Doomed to be a Devil, taking the lives of those who didn’t deserve it, while they both lived in the prison of their own bodies.

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The end was near. The beast’s glowing cannons were roaring loudly to life. And despite his lust for an end to his hellish journey, Fourteen found himself not yet wanting to die. There was something holding him back. Perhaps a desire to right what he had wronged. A desire invoked by his actions of saving the younglings from the claws of the iron beast that now threatened to undo his life. He wondered if there would be some ultimate self defense system that would rise to life inside of him. Something that would still prevent his death, as unlikely as it sounded. But he assumed the Oppressor wouldn’t just let him die like this. Yet the red line of text still appeared across his face ‘Systems Critical’.

It was only a matter of time now.

Suddenly, the silhouette of a slender figure flew through the beast’s gaping mouth like a gnat flying into the jaws of a sleeping beast. A short moment afterwards, when it appeared that the beast would indeed fire his cannon of ki thus blasting the grey skinned assassin to dust, the iron giant began to implode from within. The dark silhouette seemed to escape in time, and began to make their way towards the former Paladin as the beast erupted to charred steel in the background.

Is it her? Fourteen thought back to when he had lied on the battlefield before. Almost dead, when suddenly, a woman dressed in white light descended towards him. She offered him life, but at a cost. He wondered if this was her again. The witch that cursed his existence. Turning him into a mindless puppet of torture and death.

Yet, a sudden, and surprising feeling of relief washed over the assassin as he recognized the stranger. He bore the face of an elderly man, yet his movements showed the strength of a warrior. Fourteen’s scouter didn’t pick up on his power level. He was a ghost. An empty shell, like the former Paladin. The old man seemed concerned about Fourteen’s damage as he landed beside him. The tall grey skinned giant mustered a nod. The red line of text was beginning to flash away.

“Yes, I believe so. Thank you for the assistance. It seems that our fates have become intertwined much more quickly that I initially thought, Colin,” Eventually the information line blinked away, and Fourteen felt feeling returning to his limbs. He stood up, towering over the elderly man at his full height. He glanced in the distance where the smoldering remains of the iron beast billowed up into the air in towers of smoke. Then he glanced down at the old man known as Colin, “You are quite skilled, I hadn’t realized that when we first met. Were you a fighter before…it happened…the transformation?” Fourteen wasn’t exactly sure how to word his question. He was referring to the process that the Oppressor took to turning one into a soldier of steel. Fourteen wasn’t conscious during his procedure, he only remembered awaking. His vision changed. His body looking like his but feeling oh so different. He saw Lady Light once more, but now wearing her true colors. Her dark lined eyes, her sinister smirk.

“Welcome to the family!”

Fourteen’s grimace was well hidden beneath his frozen expression as he listened intently to Colin’s next words. He had never met another kindred spirit. One who had been as a hostage as well. A fellow slave of the Oppressor. It sparked something familiar in the Paladin’s old chest cavity. A feeling, an emotion.

It was comradery.

It was because of this feeling…that Fourteen had a thought. But he pushed it away. No…best not to get him involved. The familiar red line of text appeared across his HUD once more. ‘OBJECTIVE: ELIMINATE MASTER YALON SILAS’ He knew he only had a few more moments before he would be forced to leave. He still had some questions for his fellow brother in steel that would perhaps shed more light on the mystery of who the Oppressor was, and what his true motivations were.

“I told you my name before, but I didn’t tell you the designation give to me. My title is Assassin Fourteen. The first part is rather self-explanatory, but I have always been curious as to the designation of the number. Does it mean that there were thirteen failures before me, or there are thirteen others besides me?” Fourteen seemed to visibly look intensive. “Please, if you do not mind, what is your designation? What is the title, if any, that the Oppressor has given you?” Fourteen listened as intensively as he looked. Was this man numerical designation lower than his, or higher? Did he have none? Either ways, what did they ultimately mean? How many of them were there?

The red line of text flashed more intensely than before, and Fourteen knew there was an even shorter moment of reprieve before his movements did not become his own. The Oppressor, or the Witch, would take control and move him towards his objective. But upon hearing what the old man had to say, Fourteen didn’t want to leave their next meeting to chance. How could he ask him to join in an assassination mission however?

“Listen…I have an ‘objective’ I must complete. Yet I do not wish to depart ways here. Our meeting is not of chance, and perhaps, it is not even of the Oppressor’s will. I do not ask for you to assist me in the objective, nor do I want you to. Our ears and our eyes are not our own, but our minds and are souls are indeed still ours. Come, let us revel in each other’s company for a little while longer. Perhaps, find out more about our common…struggle,” Fourteen had spoken like he hadn’t spoken in what felt like an eternity. Despite both being machines, he felt like he was speaking to another human; a kindred spirit.

-----

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The giant opened his eyes and began looking around. He looked confused, as if he didn’t know where he was. Then his gaze locked onto Colin’s and the anxiety that the old man saw fell away. Inside those brightly coloured eyes, Colin saw the human beneath the tonnes of steel. He could see his vulnerability emanating through those tiny windows.

Something stirred inside the old man’s chest. A pressure. Like he couldn’t breathe. Colin remembered the first time he had this feeling. When he was a young boy at school there had been a kid in his class. He was in a wheelchair and most of his body was paralyzed. He couldn’t talk, expect by using his eyes to work a computer screen. He looked strange, and so the kids picked on him. Colin remembered watching one day as they put a stick through his wheels and laughing as the poor child oscillated back and forth, trying to accelerate away. The teachers didn’t find him until an hour later.

One day in assembly the Principal had stood up at the front of class, his face grim. He told the school that the disabled boy had passed away, and he said with such a strain in his voice that nobody in that room could help but cry. Even the kids who had bullied him every day. Maybe they felt it more, because in a way they had more to do with the child than Colin ever had. The Principal then began to read a poem. It was written by the boy in the wheelchair, in his last week of life.


Fishbowl

I sit inside the fishbowl
Living life in murky waters
While people like to see
In here I am normal, I am me
Out there I am so different, I wouldn’t be able to breathe
The people try to hurt me
But nobody can hurt me in here
In here I am a fish,
I can swim free.

It was the first time that Colin had seen real resilience. Through those words he saw the life that the kid had, and he made a connection through them. It made him feel distinctly human to hear the poem, which was almost like a window into the poor boy’s soul. It also made Colin feel guilty. Often, he thought back to that and wondered why he didn’t stop them. Why he didn’t even try…

“No,” the Android answered his comrade. “I was no fighter.”

Fourteen as he had dubbed himself was asking after Colin’s designation. A smirk played out across the old man’s face. “I am twenty. Does that mean I am 6 better versions than you? Or maybe 6 worse?”

His newfound comrade spoke of an objective and Colin knew exactly what he was talking about. “Silas…” The objective had been spoken to the old man, almost as if a murmuring of his subsconscious. He knew that he had no choice but to help Fourteen, and a large part of him wanted to anyway. He could see the humanity there, and he wanted nothing more than to just break it out.
“You are the closest thing I have to family now, brother. Let’s go.”

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Fourteen could feel a faint sense of a chuckle tickling his throat at the remark Colin made regarding his numerical designation. He couldn’t remember the last time he actually truly laughed. This was the closest thing to it. The former Paladin was happy to hear that Colin would accompany him, yet he could slightly read the old man’s expressions as it betrayed the fact that perhaps he too, was sent on an assassination mission as well. It suddenly made sense; their fate of meeting was all due to the Oppressor’s will, not by any chance of fate. He was still pulling the strings after all. It also caused Fourteen some concern. Just how strong, or important, is this Master Silas? Never before had he been accompanied by another assassin belonging to the Oppressor. Surely this target was something truly different.

Listening and nodding in agreement to Colin’s answer, Fourteen replied, “Then let’s head out, but not make too much haste.” His apprehension of killing another possible innocent was strongly present in his words. The two took off from the rubble around them, leaving the town’s security force or merely their citizens to clean up the molten hill of steely remains from the giant.

------

The room was dimly lit by candles scattered about on torches along the floor. A lone figure stood in the middle of the room. His legs were crossed, his arms out to his sides in open palms. His head bowed and his eyes closed as he held himself in suspended levitation. His breathes were deep and slow. Each exhale sounded with a loud ‘hmmmm’. Strands of sweat poured down his wrinkled, red leathery skinned forehead.

In his mind he imagined himself unsheathing his steel blade and swinging it about in a complete three-sixty. A cut known as a ten fighter cut, its name giving the technique’s gruesome design. The Yaidratian Master was an expert at sword play. His training at the Dojo of Light on Avalon and his years of fighting as a Paladin warrior had given him those skills. Yet it was his training back on his home world where he ascended into the rank of master-hood. Truly coming into his own and separating himself from the Paladin Order. Not because he disagreed with their ways, but simply so he could stay and remain a powerful ally to his people.

Using his people’s ancient teleportation technique, the master founded a new style of swordplay. It was one focused on the core principle of sword arts, to strike fast and effortlessly for a quick kill. A Katana was strapped to his side. A blade originating from Earth, it was adopted one of the many signature blades of the Paladins. Master Silas grew quite fond of the blade because of its effectiveness in combat. It was a blade not meant for blocking, or even deflecting. No, it was meant to strike, and to strike only once. It molded well with the instant transportation technique.

The key to his style of swordplay was to not load up, to use as little strikes as possible. Mastery was to swing only once. The teleportation technique would allow one to move about quickly without changing one’s body direction. Meaning that one wide cut and a few transportations could instantly kill several spread out opponents.

And that was what he was about to test once more.

The master’s eyes snapped open. His left hand slid to his sheath and his thumb pushed the blade’s handle up with a ‘click’. His right hand snapped to his side and grasped the handle. Pulling the blade out he rose from his position with a circling three-sixty strike. During the entire movements, his body instantly transported to where he faced each of the candles. One by one, his body was transported to each wax candle and his blade lopped off their tops. He finished by returning to his beginning position, the blade pulled out to his side. His stance appeared as if he had simply stood up and sliced out before him.

The candles all fell at once with satisfying thumps. The master slid his lead foot back to his right. His right hand snapped the spine of the blade to the top of the sheath’s opening. He ran it along the edge before sliding it back into the sheath. Then, from the corner of his eye, he noticed that one candle was still standing. The master casually walked over and inspected it. It was only sliced halfway through, allowing the stick of white wax to stand up stubbornly.

I misjudged my distance… The master stated. He folded his arms behind him as he closed his eyes in deep thought. Due to his choice of an earthling weapon as a Paladin, he also grew to learn the spiritual connections associated with it and its martial application. The candle’s stance was both a lack of his skill, but also a sign of something else.

The master had performed this test flawlessly every night. It was a way to keep his senses sharpened. Yet in the first time in over twenty years, one candle now stood. Was it a sign that he was getting older? Or was there something else? An omen perhaps? What did the candle represent?

The sliding noise of a wooden screen door broke his concentration as he turned around and saw his star pupil, Kata Noki. Another Yaidratian native. The young woman bowed but upon raising her head, she seemed to notice a sense of concern on her master’s face.

“Sensei, something troubles you?”

The master was noticeably perturbed that his well guarded emotions were so visible on his stoic face. He prided himself on his ability to remain cool. Creating an expression to where one cannot read your next movements or intentions was crucial for the life of a swordsman. He simply attributed her keenness to his training.

“Nothing Kata, all is fine.”

The Yaidratian female’s green eyes widened as she moved her head to the side to peer behind Master Silas. “Oh! Master! One candle remains standing!”

A blush of red flushed Silas’s face. “Ah yes, well, this tends to happen now and then…”

The woman smiled, “In over a decade serving as your apprentice, I’ve never seen one stand.” Silas nervously chuckled as he gazed back at the candle, unsure of what to say. “But then again, I guess even you’re not perfect.” The woman stood beside her master as she peered deeply into the candle. “Or maybe this candle was just destined to beat you!”

The master shook his head with a sigh, “Sometimes our actions and abilities can be affected by something not so physical or conscious. Sometimes, our movements are influenced by something we do not comprehend at first. And so we must meditate, and find out why, so that we may learn and grow stronger and wiser.”

His apprentice’s eyes gazed downwards as if she was in deep thought. A normal student would have simply taken what Silas said as a lesson in humility, and simply said, ‘Yes Sensei.’ Yet that was why Kata was his apprentice. She didn’t think that, instead she sought further understanding. Her lips pursed together as she remembered something. “Master…that stranger from last week…you don’t think…this has anything to do with it?”

Silas turned his gaze from his favorite pupil back to the candle’s stubborn light. His eyes gently narrowed as he watched the candle’s half broken silhouette transform. It took on the appearance of a human. Where the candle’s wax was cut, there was a wide gash across the man’s side. It almost threatened to tear him in half. Yet no blood or guts flew out from the cut that Silas had provided into the man’s side. Only sparks and crackling wires. The stranger even managed to turn around, his expression showing no pain or even recognition of his fatal wound as he rushed back towards the master. Silas managed to put him down only when he once he cleaved him in half starting at the top of his skull.

“That stranger,” his pupil’s words broke Silas back to the room as the candle’s form reappeared. “He wanted you to give him something. And when you wouldn’t, he attacked. What was it that he asked for?”

The Yaidratian elder sighed as he strolled across the room. He could hear Kata’s footsteps behind him as he came upon a wooden door covering a closet. He slid the closet open as rows of shelves displaying dusty old scrolls lined the shelves. “The secrets of our people’s techniques have always been coveted by all species and organizations across the galaxies. From generals in armies to simple space pirates and the common thief, the Instant Tranmission technique is invaluable. For some, it can mean the end of a war. For others, it can mean the start of one. Because of its power, we must always protect it.” His eyes turned to gaze at his student who was intently studying every word of his. He could see her expression taking on a sense of duty, as she herself was a master of the transmission technique, and realized her duty to protect the scroll’s secrets as well.

“He was after these?”

Silas nodded, “Indeed. I never pass these scrolls out to just anyone, obviously. Even regardless of their affiliation. Even to members of the Protectorate, I do not pass down this knowledge freely. It must be earned through years of training. It is then, that I can truly understand a student’s purpose and inspiration for using this technique. As you know, at the end of your first years worth of training, you are tested to see if your motivation for gaining knowledge of the transmission technique is to help the greater good, then the knowledge is yours.”

“The stranger…he came in wishing for knowledge of our technique to be passed down to him.”

“Yes, he was rather blunt at first. Offering me zeni, power, knowledge, among other things…I obviously told him nothing that he can offer me will cause me to trade for this knowledge. So he asked to become a pupil…”

“And I remember you turning him away?”

Silas nodded, “Indeed. I could sense there was something sinister to him. His motivation for gaining the scroll’s knowledge would cause harm to the greater good, so I turned him away. And that was when he attacked…” The master paused once more, his mind retracing steps of their battle. The man was a skilled fighter, yet Silas distinctly remembered not hearing any breathing from the man as they fought. His expression even seemed to stay frozen. Not normally, like a master swordsman expression stays silent and unmoving. Rather, the stranger’s expression seemed frozen. As if he were a statue in motion.

It was only after Silas decided to end the encounter with a swift cut to the gut that he discovered what the man really was. But even after that, the stranger was still a mystery. Did he belong to the Steel Legion? Or something else entirely?

“Do you fear that there are more like him?” Kata questioned, her worry heavily present on her face.

Master Silas turned his gaze back to their treasure. He closed the closet and turned back to face Kata. “Androids are created for a purpose. They are machine. They do not just create themselves, nor are they products of chance. They have a design; a mission they must complete. I doubt this single android acted alone. His puppet master perhaps thought he was enough to get the scroll from me, or perhaps he was merely a scout to test my abilities.” From the corner of his eye he saw Kata’s left-hand reach down to grasp her Katana’s sheath. Her thumb firmly placed behind the guard in order to push it out. The woman was obviously ready for a fight.

“Then there are more!” Her glare seemed to dimmer a bit. “If this is the work of a resurrected Steel Legion, then perhaps we should inform the Protectorate?”

Shaking his head, Silas responded, “No, I do not believe this is the Steel Legion at work. They weren’t quite known for their stealth. My instincts tell me it is something else. The work of one much more calculating than the Steel Legion themselves.”

“Then who would it be?”

His eyes turned back to the candle. White wax trailing down its side and dripping off the edge of its cut. Even from a far distance and in the darkness of the room, Silas could see the black wick, like a wire through its white shell.

“…I do not know.”

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A14 WC: 2,113/13,559
TWC: 42,185
Edited by Android 14, Apr 13 2018, 04:37 PM.
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Android 14
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Fourteen and Colin flew through air like a pair of darts. None moving or flinching, simply staying in perfect line with their trajectory. Every now and then, the red line of text would returned to flash across Fourteen’s HUD: ‘Eliminate Master Yalon Silas’ Thankfully, Fourteen did have a good distraction to his side. The former Paladin was happy that the old man could accompany him, but perhaps it was always meant to be. Perhaps the Oppressor needed the two of them to meet in order to complete the mission objective together. Even without speaking, Fourteen knew they shared the same mission objective.

His orange pupils gazed to his side as he studied the old man. Colin seemed to have a strong frame, and despite his abilities in taking down the Iron Beast, Fourteen did indeed believe him that he was not a fighter previously. The old man also seemed to have a genuine gentleness about him. It was perhaps because of this human expression that Fourteen trusted him almost blindly. He hadn’t given it thought that perhaps the man was simply an emotionless puppet with a completely made up background, only serving to become a friend to Fourteen so that he could then be torn away. It sounded like something the ‘Witch’ would do. The woman who oversaw everything Fourteen did and seemed to work directly under the Oppressor himself.

Darkness was sailing over the sky as the sun dipped in the background. There was a night chill that was certainly registered by the Paladin, but not felt. He still gazed at the white mustached man through the corner of his eyes. He wanted to talk about the man’s former life, his past, his wife. Not because he was intrusive, but he was curious to have an actual human conversation once more. To talk about things he would otherwise normally talk about. He hadn’t realized how much he had missed normal conversations since the day of his transformation. Yet he was unsure how to bring it up. Would it be too much to just outright ask the old man about his past, about his wife and any possible children? The former Paladin was unsure of even how to bring up his own family. Though he had previously shared a little bit about them during the two’s first encounter, he still felt uneasy about speaking of them aloud. After all, he was always watching and listening.

Deciding to break the ice with something more recent, and perhaps more revealing as to their situation, Fourteen thought it best to begin with how he got here. To be made of steel and iron instead of wearing it as a noble knight. He began rather bluntly, “I was lying on a battlefield, close to my dying breath, when she found me.” His eyes turned more to face the old man. “I call her the ‘Witch’, for I do not know her true name. Or even her true purpose or design. But she found me there, breathing my last breath. She offered me a chance to live, to be able to see my family again.” The android’s eyes gazed back forward. His lips twitched as if he was trying to speak once more. Yet nothing of his security systems held him back. It was simply his humility.

“Colin…” He finally stated, loud enough to be heard over the rushing air that flew past them. “I do not want you to think me a coward. I was once a proud knight, a Paladin under the Avalon Protectorate. My last station, the day where I died, I was stationed to guard a city on Kanassa. But our forces were over run by forces of the Steel Legion. For days and weeks, we tried to reach out towards our superiors back on Avalon. We were requesting aid, requesting reinforcements. We made it clear that we could not hold the enemy back. And if reinforcements did not come, then our defenses would fall, and the planet and all its civilians would become their prisoners.” The side expression of his face seemed to steel over. “And yet…no aide came.”

He paused once more, falling back into deep thought. His orange pupils still glaring forward. “Perhaps it was because of that, that I made my choice. All Paladin Knights are expected to accept death, when it comes. We are to die the way we lived. Yet as I lied for hours on that battlefield, surrounded by the corpses of my fallen Brothers and Sisters, I wondered what it was all for? How could I remain loyal to a Brotherhood that betrayed us? Why should I just lie there and die…” His gaze then turned back to Colin. “I thought of my family, and how I wanted to see them again. Not just for my sake. But I wanted to be there for them, to protect them, to guide them. And that is why I did what I did.”

The words had poured out of him like a raging river. Fourteen wasn’t sure why he said what he said. It had turned into something more than just trying to connect on a human level. Fourteen was perhaps looking for acceptance for his actions. For so long, the ‘Witch’ had teased and mocked his cowardice after accepting her offer. It made him feel dishonorable. Curiously, he inquired as to what Colin would make of it. For it seemed that they both made the same choice for the same reason. Family.

Fourteen listened intently to Colin’s next words, but then continued, “I don’t remember what it was like to be operated on. I simply awoke. I could feel my body, and it looked the same, but it was not the same. I could not longer breath, no longer taste. Everything was heavy around me, and my body and my joints felt locked in place. She was there to watch me. And it wasn’t until she gave me a command, ‘Stand Up’, that my body finally responded and move. Since then, I have been her puppet.” Fourteen tilted his head somewhat curiously, “Tell me, have you seen him? The Oppressor? Have you seen the ‘Witch?’ Does she control you as much as she controls me, or is there another?”

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A14 WC: 1,044/14,603
TWC: 43,229
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