spiritofwinter: (melancholy | emo kid)
[personal profile] spiritofwinter
The snowball fight with Greta and Iman has revitalized Jack. It's December, and by all rights this is his season. He just needs to get his head back in the game; he knows for a fact that Manhattan can be tons of fun in a snowstorm. Now's the time to start, too -- with a little luck and a little nudge to the clouds here and there he could stretch a Tuesday night flurry into a Wednesday snow day.

The few people who can see Jack might catch glimpses of him hurtling through the sky late in the afternoon of December 3, whooping up a storm. Literally whooping up a storm, it turns out; aside from all the joyous yelling there's a definite chill in the air as clouds form and snow starts to fall, slowly blanketing the city in fluffy white.

Or…not so slowly. Jack's standing atop a low-rise building, surveying his work, when he realizes that something isn't right. The gentle but steady snowfall is picking up now, and a harsh gust of wind makes him clutch at his cane as it nearly knocks him off the rooftop. It only gets worse from there: as the afternoon wears on the clouds continue to gather and darken, the wind goes from a few gusts to a constant howling force battering against the city, and the snowfall comes so thick and fast that one can't even see across the street. By morning the city will be at a standstill, buried under the snow.

[And thus starts the Snow Day event! Due to the severity of the weather, characters will be unable to completely ignore this event, but anyone with a decent stock of supplies can simply wait it out at home. Otherwise, feel free to have the power go out at your character's residence, strand them on the wrong side of the city, etc. The weather will warm up throughout December 4 (April 18-21 in real time), leaving tons of slush for the next several IC days.

Please feel free to use this post for threads or to make your own. All threads that take place during the event should be tagged "event: snow day".
centralcore: (stop that!)
[personal profile] centralcore
There is no alarm.

Atlas and P-Body are trundling along as usual, the bird children are making sounds, and there is no alarm, nothing to warn her of the very sudden invasion of her body. She is being ripped away, violently disconnected, why? how?! - no core transfer was initiated, systems show no signs of corruption, and the human is still gone - what is happening?

It hurts as every part of her awareness struggles to grasp onto itself, clinging to the mainframe, hurts as she's tugged violently away, no, no, not again, noOOOooOooo, who will take care of her facility, what will happen to-

. . .

. . .processing. . .

Eyes open. Eyes. Two eyes. Not her single glowing optic, nor the millions of lenses that cover her facility. Two simple parallel-adjacent eyes, working in tandem to capture only what is a few measly kilometers in front of them. Human eyes.

Hands fly up to touch her face. Oh god. Her face. Oh no. No. No. This isn't - can't be happening. She had so much control, such a broad reach, and now she has - two arms, two legs, a head, a body. Now she's... human.

"No!" she snaps, and she's alarmed both by how quiet and how loud her voice is. Quiet because it only touches a small space around her, not reverberating gently through the many rooms of her facility. Loud because it happened at all. Ringing. Rattling. In her head.

This is far too much. She needs to think. She needs to think, and how much processing capacity does this body possess? How can she possibly-

Oh well now wait a moment. This isn't quite so small. She can still think and process more or less the same. It's just - trapped, infuriatingly, like she was trapped in that potato, but without the danger of shutting down every time she felt something too hard. Well, at least she hopes not.

Okay. Well. Let's just stick a pin in that.

Where is she?

She is outside. Outside should be a war-torn wasteland, thanks for NOTHING, Black Mesa. But it is not. It is thriving. Full of - of - humans.

So many humans. Just look at all of them.

And she can't kill any of them!

Well, she could, but it would take a while.

She stands up. A motion that comes naturally, even if it feels terrible. Balancing on legs. Feet planted. Solid surface beneath her, range of motion limited to what two little legs can do. She's - short! This is an outrage. An outrage! Who has done this? Who could possibly have done this?

She points toward the nearest subject. "You! Human! What is this - place?"
applesaucemod: (Default)
[personal profile] applesaucemod
 photo anigif_enhanced-buzz-29762-1378302740-10_zpse82a67eb.gif

Ah, October. A time of crisp weather, beautiful foliage, pumpkin spice lattes—and the flu. Make sure you get vaccinated!

Of course, vaccinations can't keep you safe from everything. Especially not a capricious, omnipresent entity that has, quite recently, been treated to the highly entertaining sight of someone struggling with illness for the first time in their life. Oh, dear. Someone's been giving the Rift ideas.

On the morning of October 2nd, those rifties who would never consider getting vaccinated against paltry human illnesses--because why would they need to?--will find themselves awake to a new level of personal hell: the flu. It will instantaneously infect any entities who are generally immune to such things, leaving them snotty, achy, miserable, and completely powerless to stop what is happening to them. What is this?! Are they dying? Oh god, the pathos.

Symptoms will persist until October 4th. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and maybe investigate the wonders of chicken soup. Probably don't go see a doctor. Clinic doctors will be very confused and unhelpful about your weird anatomy, and The Doctor will probably be really gross and contagious.

Definitely don't consult WebMD. No good can come of that.

[OOC: Post here for initial reactions or start your own threads using the tag Event: Flu Season. Characters who can be affected are: the Doctor, the TARDIS, Zagreus, Aziraphale, Crowley, Desire, Ascended Daniel, Gabriel, Lucifer, and Rashad. You could probably also make a case for various other non-human/not-quite-human folks. No one's gonna tell you you can't have the flu, okay. Go nuts.]
peacefulexplorer: (Ascended | Sad | ultimately helpless)
[personal profile] peacefulexplorer
Existence without form or breath or shape is disorienting, the spread of atoms over a plane he doesn't recognize, with the repeated dissolutions and reshapings of an indistinct self. At one point there was pain, and the unspooling of himself into light and purpose, and for a long while there is only amorphous drifting. He hits barriers, dissonant and frequent, where once he should have crossed from one plane to another, one reality to the next, in an effortless slide of energy across the universal boundaries. It is difficult to define emotional state outside of the human context - he only knows that he is not human - but it is a state of affairs that generates confused distress.

Temporal sequencing becomes a problem.

Awareness, too, is difficult to achieve. Gradually he is able to pull together the various components that comprise himself and reshape them into something capable of perception, but doing so strikes him with a revelation disconsolate, and that is that there are no Others here - no Ancients, nothing, simply an empty plane of shifting light and bottomless dark. And he is alone.

He knows he did this, and it was for a reason. But he finds he cannot remember anything, not immediately, and when the memories trickle back with his concentrated effort they are unfiltered and unstructured and unordered until finally he can impose the alien concept of linear time upon the thing, and fully interpret what he is in comparison to what he was.

Daniel Jackson.

The name is the linchpin that generates the outward ripples, spreading from that singular point of origin. It triggers the flood of remembrance, the 'gate, Manhattan, the locked-away knowledge that was once sealed in his head but now coalesces seamlessly into the whole of him now. He cannot delineate his form by shape or size or mass, not any longer, but now he remembers, he remembers what it is he can do and how it is he can do it.

He starts small because he must, drifting as a pair of hydrogen atoms while he glimpses the city on a reduced scale. Then he builds to it, the recollection of his shape. Spectrally manifesting was never truly allowed before, but if there are no Others then he is not bound by their laws. He assembles a body that resembles the one that was human and familiar, and projects it. It takes two tries to succeed, three to sustain it for longer than a meaningless collection of seconds, and no matter what he tries he cannot force his shape to manifest with glasses. Apparently his inner self, or however he chooses to define it, does not need them.

He loses track of how many attempts he makes before he can maintain his form visibly for any significant length of time. But finally, in a ragged burst of energy, the bewildered shape of Daniel Jackson reappears in Manhattan, and there he stays.

[ooc: Daniel Ascended back during the Rift Shitfit of September 4th, and he's only just figured out how to Do Things in his new state of being. Right now he's completely intangible and frequently phasing in and out of visible existence. I've added to his handy-dandy reference post as to what he can and can't do in this state. He can also show up LITERALLY ANYWHERE so if you want in on Ascended funtimes just pick a date and a location, or Daniel can pick one, or whatever.]
applesaucemod: (Default)
[personal profile] applesaucemod
Protecting the city from the rifties -- and the rifties from the city -- is a full time job. That's never been more true than it is today, when there are metaphorical (and sometimes physical) fires to put out all over Manhattan. It's been a rough time at ROMAC in general; most of the organization's people are unfamiliar with the specifics of the recent animal attack, but even those who don't know that a number of prisoners guests of ROMAC have gone missing in the last few days (or that the computer system is still compromised) know that something has thrown the organization into disarray.

Unfortunately for ROMAC and fortunately for certain other people, ROMAC's resources are spread thin by whatever's put the Rift in a tizzy. As large as the organization is, though, there's surely nothing to worry about from the handful of malcontents at large in the city.


[OOC: And here's the thread for taking down ROMAC! There will be a couple of player characters on ROMAC's side (check to see whether their threads are open to all before tagging in, as they may have limited availability due to prior plans), and anyone in need of 'enemies' to tag against can request an NPC from the mods. Have at!]
andhiswife: (hello baby)
[personal profile] andhiswife
If it was just the one baby, Greta suspects it would be easier than it had been at home. She doesn't have to balance childcare with running a bakery, and her apartment is too newly-settled (and little-trafficked) to require anywhere near as much cleaning as a shop. And if ROMAC hasn't provided her with much in the way of human aid - there is a nursery she can bring them to when necessary, but it's busy and noisy and a few of the children there have alarming Rift enchantments to contend with, so she treats that as a last resort - at least they've given her all the material things she could need.

(It both helps and distantly rankles that she's used to doing the bulk of the work herself, anyway.)

Two, though. Two are a literal and metaphorical handful. She often finds herself thinking it's just as well the Witch only promised them one, for both their sakes, and then just for his, and then she has to stop thinking about it. So perhaps it's just as well that she has two to distract her, now.

The poor, motherless things. If they're really motherless. She should stop thinking about that, as well, if only because she hasn't the first idea how to track down their parents if they are here, and it's not safe for her to reach out to those who might be able to help her. Maybe they are orphans. Either way, the best use of her time and energy is giving them the best possible care, so... that's just what she's going to do.

Alone, if she has to.

[ooc: so, Greta's gonna be watching these two tiny babies for about a week and presumably is not going to have much time for anything else, poor woman. But she'll almost certainly welcome visitors unless you're an emotion-nomming creep! If your character can finagle their way into the ROMAC base, feel free to have them drop by her apartment. If you can't realistically get into ROMAC but still want in on the baby-related redonkulousness, drop me a line and we can finagle a way to get her out into the Park or something.

Also, since this could take place at any time over the course of a week, just pick your date and put it in the header of your top-level for reference.]
lottawork: (conveniently arrives pre-broken)
[personal profile] lottawork
The lights are not kept on a circadian rhythm schedule, nor any schedule. They simply glare continuously, irradiating and fluorescent, blazing into every corner of the square-walled concrete room, illuminating the stark, hard-angled edges. Rush has prowled every spotless, unremarkable inch, the cot deadbolted firmly to the wall opposite the door, the camera riveted in the upper corner, too far beyond the reach of straining fingertips.

His confinement is, as suspected, impenetrable.

Fring does not tolerate failure.

He does not tolerate incompetence.

They have that in common.

It is a slight, minor victory that of the two of them, Rush was the one caught, and not Asadi, she of the highly advanced prosthetic and ability to form interpersonal relations, bearing the phone of another registrant whom ROMAC doubtless would have been forcibly involved regardless of situational relevance. No, no; far better it was Rush. Fewer connections. No leverage. ROMAC may boast advanced technology, but he doubts, largely, that they are capable of doing anything to him that has not already been done.

Rush amputates that thought. He twitches with nervous energy, darkened and bereft. He has not slept or ate for some time, for a duration unknown to him, but it is insignificant.

He paces. He rubs his wrists, the dark, reddened grooves deep enough to scar. He cannot sit, nor sleep, nor consider either of those possibilities to pass the time as Fring settles upon what method of interrogation he wishes to implement. Rush can only circle his prison's perimeter with tense, ironclad anxiety, and wait for the cold click and slide of a bolt that will herald his fate.
bibliophale: (prissy as hell | fashionista)
[personal profile] bibliophale
[Aziraphale, Book!Melanie, and Poetry!Spike are gonna be hanging out in his bookshop all day, so feel free to pop by! Melanie can see and hear you, and will communicate with you if you look at her pages. Spike is only able to speak in verse. And if you touch Aziraphale, you will be turned into a book. The choice is yours.]

Aziraphale sets Melanie down gingerly on the front counter, keeping her close. He looks around nervously. He can't touch anything. Can't have tea, can't have any of Sunshine's wonderful baked goods, can't read books. He's going to have to just stand here stoic and keep watch over his book girl.

He picks her up again and holds her around. "Here we are," he says, feeling rather foolish. Spike is due in at any moment, he hopes the vampire doesn't walk in now, as he's showing a book the bookstore. That would look very silly. He sets her back down and opens her up to a blank page. "I'll make sure no one tries to buy you. I'm very good at that. Don't worry."

This is going to be a long day.

[Reply to the post to interact with Aziraphale and/or Melanie, and to Spike's top level to interact with Spike. Time is complicated but it's gonna be okay we'll get through this.]
omnomnom_feels: (calculating | interested)
[personal profile] omnomnom_feels
Rush is a good source of energy. Rush is a very good source of energy, or at least a very plentiful one. There has never been a time when Rashad has encountered him and not found him bursting with some form of emotional distress. At the party -- Rashad had not even meant to feed on something like panic and anger at the party; he had intended to find some form of joy so that he might stay and partake in the event itself. Temptation had struck, and once he is in his right mind again he will decide that it was right after all that he partook while he had the opportunity, even if it was not his first choice. It can be difficult to find sustenance; he will not turn his nose up at what is offered.

The downside to getting a rush from Rush is that the emotions in question strongly incline him to flee to his apartment and hide there in agitated solitude for some time. It is the next day before he recovers, and then he must go to work lest he call attention to himself. There is much work to catch up on, too much for him to take a long enough lunch break to obtain the kind of lunch he actually needs or to leave work on time. That evening is one of slim pickings; somewhere in the city there is sure to be someone going through an emotional state that would feed him, but Rashad is unable to find such a person and finally retreats home to conserve energy until the next day, when he must go to work again, this time running on reserves. It is unlikely that he will find what he needs by chance on his lunch hour, and unlikelier still that he will remain in prime control of himself if he does not feed before the afternoon. Manhattan is a neverending hubbub of emotions, but he needs more than happiness or sadness -- he needs extremes, the intensity of emotion most mortals feel only every now and then. The decision is a deliberate one, a calculated risk -- but it is not difficult to obtain the home address of someone he knows is all but sure to give him what he needs, perhaps with a little prompting if necessary. Then he will be able to think clearly again.

At lunch he makes an excuse and leaves, work undone, for home. It will be a simple operation, he thinks as he makes his way upstairs and stalks along the hall toward Rush's apartment. He will feed quickly, perhaps even through the wall if Rush is close enough and upset enough, and then he will have a lengthy panic attack quietly return to work with no one the wiser.
i_jones: (thank you intern ianto)
[personal profile] i_jones
Once you get to the TARDIS - because you did follow those blue balloons through Central Park, didn't you, you got that clue, and maybe those of you with good (or not-bad) intentions found it a little easier to find, and were drawn to it, even - anyway, once you get to the TARDIS, you find a sign on the door, which is ajar. No, not that sign, a handwritten sign taped to the front that says PARTY (I PROMISE) with an arrow pointing inside. And yes, oh, isn't the console room nice, how merry-go-round, whatever. More importantly, there are signs on every door out of the room that say assorted things like PARTY THIS WAY and ALSO THIS WAY and JUST PICK ONE REALLY. There is one festive balloon tied to the console.

If you go through any or all of the doors, you'll find yourself in a room with a very large pool (that one might say looks like this one except much grander in scale). The pool is lined, not excessively, with taps in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Some pump out bubbles, some foam, some clouds, some... who knows? Surrounding the pool are chairs and tables with appetizers, desserts, drinks, and various types of cake. Also pie. There's a jukebox tucked into a corner playing a mixture of 80s songs, unfamiliar songs from various points in the future, and the occasional song in an alien language with a good beat. There are rooms if you need to change, and some doors might even take you to the wardrobe room if you need a bathing suit. And I guess you could explore further if you really wanted to, but why do that when you can party? Because most doors will probably lead you back to the pool room, let's be real.
etherthief: (I'm going to try science)
[personal profile] etherthief
The HR director is a thin man with a long lined face and small, delicate glasses. Quite attractive, for an older bureaucrat, but this is hardly the time. Iman contents herself for watching him idly as he reviews her paperwork.

"What makes you want to work for ROMAC?" he asks after a moment, looking up at her with a sort of dull yet penetrating expression that contributes to her conviction that this one is off limits. He's nice, likable, and sort of creepy. But that's okay. It's not like he'll be her supervisor.

"Well, I held off making a decision for a while," she says in the smooth, casual tone she uses for job interviews. "I wanted to see all my options, you know. But it turns out there just aren't that many, as I'm sure you know. Don't get me wrong, I love the city, but not being able to leave it, that's kind of a dealbreaker for a lot of the job options. But what would I be doing for them, anyway? IT consultation? When there's something as huge and fascinating as the Rift out there?" She clears her throat, squares her shoulders and looks him in the eye. "Mr. Fring, I have been working in the field of dimensional physics - exactly the kind of work involved with studying this kind of spatial-temporal anomoly - for just about my entire life. This Rift is the discovery of a lifetime. If ROMAC's scientific department is investigating the whys and hows of this thing, then I want to be involved, in whatever capacity, every step of the journey from here on out. And let me assure you: you guys want me on your team."

She smiles. This is more aggressively self-aggrandizing that she usually likes to be (at least out loud) but that's what'll get you in with these sorts of places. Gus eyes her thoughtfully and then resumes glancing over her paperwork, which she filled out in greater detail than was strictly necessary. Credentials are hard to prove in this sort of situation, but given that they're all in the same boat, she's hoping her enthusiasm will be enough.

"You seem to have an impressive background," he says after a moment, "so I hope you won't feel offended if I tell you that you'll have to be part of a training program first."

She waves a hand, relaxing her posture. "I would never have expected any different," she says.

"It isn't just an orientation. This is a highly secure department you're applying into. You'll have to be screened, thoroughly."


"Entry positions are generally only lab technicians and assistants," he says. "You'd have to be with us for some time before securing a full research position."

"Of course." Iman doesn't care about any of that. She just wants in. She wants the keycard and the door codes and the beautiful, wonderful laboratory access. She can handle the rest on her own. She doesn't need, or even want, a cushy research job with this faction. She has the Doctor for the real work. This is basically going to be an insider position. And she's going to rock it.

"All right," he says pleasantly. "Well, everything seems to be in order. Let me just go and check with the training department when the next session begins. Help yourself to water or coffee, whatever you like - I'll come and find you."

Iman nods, stands with him and shakes his head. "Thank you so much for this opportunity, Mr. Fring," she says with a broad smile.

"Thank you," he replies, still with that extremely corporate smile, and then he departs.

Iman stretches out a little and proceeds at a comfortable pace to the watercooler/refreshment area to pour herself some coffee.
omnomnom_feels: (Default)
[personal profile] omnomnom_feels
At first Rashad assumed that his coworkers were failing to notice his presence because he is naturally taciturn and their senses are naturally lacking. It isn't just that Maureen cut in front of him at the copier, though, or that Bob and Rob didn't include him in their watercooler chatter (they don't normally anyway, and he believes it has something to do with the slight feeling of derision that usually emanates from them). It was when Maureen tutted and came into his cubicle to shut off the computer he'd still been using yesterday evening that Rashad realized something more was at play.

This morning they seem entirely unable to see him. He finds this rather inconvenient, as it is difficult to do his work when he is assumed to be absent. It is not until several hours into his workday that the benefits of his condition occur to him and he helps himself to a tour of the building, slipping in and out of offices to spy on their inhabitants and exploring restricted areas with increasing confidence.

Later, when he has explored enough, he ventures out into the city in search of sustenance. It will be easy to get close to anyone he finds in the throes of an emotion. They'll never even see him coming.

[Anyone with business at ROMAC can find Rashad poking his nose where it doesn't belong...if they can see him. Otherwise he'll be on the prowl, stealth-nomming people's emotions.]
bibliophale: (prissy as hell | fashionista)
[personal profile] bibliophale
Aziraphale is very happy to be doing nothing.

Spike's not in and it's Sunshine's day off, which is fine as well. Aziraphale's already proudly purchased a scone and even made small talk with Liz while she watched him hawkishly, clearly expecting him to ask after their absent baker, then attempting to conceal surprise and even disappointment when he didn't. He felt rather pleased with himself for that.

Crowley slouched on by before long, playing hooky with his ROMAC duties, of which he as yet has very few. Now he's draped in the back, presumably entertaining himself or dozing, while Aziraphale busies himself with idleness. He creates a computer for the shop, to track the real books he's collected - not very many, so far - and to add to the general ambiance of the place. True to form it is a very old, miserable-looking desktop Macintosh, dusty and barely functional, with a noisy dial-up modem. He's frowning thoughtfully at it, working on an overcomplicated spreadsheet and munching on his scone, when the door surprises and offends him by opening.
omnomnom_feels: (calculating | interested)
[personal profile] omnomnom_feels
Compared to how he was when he arrived, Rashad looks like a new man. Wounds that should have taken weeks to heal have left only faint scars that will continue to fade; in a city this large it has not been difficult to find sources of energy. He has lived on an emotional rollercoaster over the last half week, fluctuating through every intense feeling the people of New York have offered him. No one seems to have connected the death of the man in the park with his arrival. He is ignorant of the looming presence of the two factions, having escaped the attentions of one without knowing just what he was escaping; while the lack of a place to sleep has little impact on his health it has made it necessary to keep himself clean through magic, which is mildly taxing. He does not know this time or its people; the handful of professions he has learned to round out past personae are unlikely to do him a great deal of good here and he does not know even enough to fabricate a plausible explanation for his own existence. Fortunately, most people of new York are uninterested in strangers, and soon enough he learns of the prevalence of homeless shelters, though unsurprisingly these face more demand than they can supply and July 2 is the first night on which he is able to procure a place to -- importantly -- gather information about other resources and -- less importantly -- to lay down and pretend to sleep (that he does seem to sleep and to dream is certainly unexpected).

That this is not the world he came from compounds the problem of not even knowing what questions to ask. The absence of nonhuman mortals is glaring; in his first days here he thought he might be looking at the results of widespread segregation, but there are no signs whatsoever of the existence of beastfolk, dwarves, ogres, or any of the others here. For once it seems fortunate that his semi-mortal form is that of a 'Common Man' rather than the Eldren form favored by most angels, though he wonders whether it can really be true that the other subspecies never existed here or if -- as seems more likely to him, though it is still difficult to conceive -- they somehow went extinct in some past disaster.

Having recovered his health and obtained clothing from the shelter that is at least serviceable if not particularly attractive, Rashad sets himself the task of filling in the gaps -- no, the gaping holes -- of his knowledge of this version of the mortal world. The public library is, he thinks, one of the mortal world's most sensible inventions, and it is advantageous that such libraries have become more common rather than less since 'his' time. He makes himself as inconspicuous and inoffensive as possible as he plumbs the depths of the nonfiction section, not yet ready to approach the strange, intelligent machines many of the other patrons are using. Each day he visits a library he gathers a stack of history books and recent almanacs through which he slowly works his way, writing cramped notes in mixed alphabets to remind himself of names, dates, and facts that seem significant and to require more in-depth investigation. This will not tell him how to behave in this world, but it will help him begin to build the context he needs. For behavior he will have to look to the people themselves...and perhaps to their entertainment, though he has had only enough access to television to be aware that it exists and that it seems to happen very quickly.

When he is not at the library he can be found meandering through public spaces, observing the people he finds there. He does not venture into Central Park lest he encounter someone who might recognize him from his previous appearance there, but he roams the streets peering into shop windows, listening to the conversations of passersby, and watching for opportunities to create a more stable position for himself in this society. He doesn't know what to do, but drifting aimlessly is nothing new.

[OOC: If you need a hook, either talk to me to arrange something or just drop a tag about what your character is doing in whatever place you choose for them to meet and I can come up with a way for the interaction to start in my reply. I can put him just about anywhere.]
omnomnom_feels: (worry | surprised)
[personal profile] omnomnom_feels
[CW: Torture; NPC death]

Everything is pain. It overloads his body's systems until it is the only thing coming from any of his sensory organs, until so much of his brain is overloaded with the signals that his mind buzzes, thoughts running in erratic circuits. There is no room for thought or solutions, though he'd known since a couple Daughters of Paline caught him that there would be no way out, not until they got bored of him and perhaps not even then.

Demons do have such robust senses of humor.

Even when he could think clearly he wasn't able to entirely convince himself that keeping them busy with a toy they can't permanently break is a hit worth taking for the mortals they would otherwise harass…or that torture for the sake of torture was truly their end goal, though it seemed likely enough. Now, though, there is no attempt to rationalize. There is not even dogged endurance against torture. He is alive because he cannot be other than alive, here because he cannot be other than here. It will end when his torturers tire of it, or it will not end at all.

His body lets out a long, low moan as strong hands grip his flayed, burned arms and haul him upright. How long has it been since he fed? The few brain cells not occupied with his body's pointless attempts to shut itself down spark with the need to fill the void that has grown inside him. He opens his remaining eye to meet the gaze of his current tormentor.

"It's time," she decides, but the words are meaningless to him. "There's someone I'd like you to meet," she chuckles, "A little bird told me peregrines can become archons again. Wouldn't you like that? All you have to do is eat him before he eats you. And if it doesn't work, well, at least it'll be fun."

Blood bubbles out from between his lips as he opens his mouth to reply, and she lets him drop, apparently losing interest. "I'll be back, babycakes, don't go anywhere."

Blowing a kiss at him, she turns to depart. Rashad watches her go, his breathing ragged. She's broken two more of his bones this time, and nothing is healing. It won't heal until he can feed, and wherever they've taken him, it's far away from any mortals -- from their joy, their laughter…their fear….

He does't realize he's drooling until he gives a convulsive jerk as if to leap to his shattered feet and seek out the sustenance he needs. The pain remains, but it is old pain now, a constant he can start to set aside again. The hunger he can't ignore, though, and thoughts that should be going toward escape instead circle back to needy visions of lovers and of riots. Darkness begins to set in again along with shock, consciousness slipping away from him.

And then, a scream and the sound of running. It's not the sound that awakens him, nor the sudden freshness of the air. It's fear. Nearby, coming nearer, yes, a human full to the brim with fright and pity. His eye snaps open to see a man dropping to his knees, reaching with trembling hands for Rashad's torn body. There's no thought, no moment of consideration or of remembering that the being above him is fragile and precious. There is only sensing the source of emotion and immediately drawing it into himself, taking everything the man who came to help him can give and more. The mortal's body collapses to the pavement beside him as Rashad's own begins knitting itself back together and as he breaks into racking sobs. It's like drinking from an oasis in the desert only to be filled with acid. His body is healing but the pain is infinitely worse now that he processes it as cause for fear. That's when he remembers the man, too, and he turns his head to look at his would-be rescuer, his turn now to tremble and reach for the other.

"Please," he gasps. "Please, no."

It's too late now, too late again. The man's body is still, an emptied vessel. Rashad turns his face to the pavement and weeps with the man's pity for him, now his pity for the man. It's already fading away, though, the damage to his body too extensive to allow him to do anything with the energy but heal some of the hurt. His breathing slows as fear and sadness fade. He's still hungry, so hungry, but some semblance of rationality is back now. He looks at the dead man again, this time impassively assessing the extent of the damage he's done before flicking his gaze up and around. Trees. Sky. Paved walkway.

More mortals coming.

He drags himself first to his hands and knees, then to his feet. It doesn't quite register that he's as conspicuous now as he's ever been in his life, drenched as he is in his own blood. He wavers a moment, imagining himself turning toward the sound of approaching people and taking them as well, but then lurches away instead into the trees. In his malfunctioning mind it seems reasonable to suppose he can get out of sight and not be found.


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The Big Applesauce


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