Andrea Raven

The world should burn...

(Broken bodies lay scattered about the room. Their faces forever contorted to the horror of their final moments. Debris litters the surroundings from broken objects and holes in walls. Amidst the quiet chaos sits a woman. Her still form looking comfortable in a chair. Pitch black eyes filled with hatred survey her handiwork. Dust, and pieces of wall, are intertwined with her flowing mane of crimson hair. It's not her 6'2" frame that makes her appear to dwarf the corpses that surround her. It's the bitter animosity that clings to her. The twisted hatred etched into her face. It's as if this body houses not a person, but an ancient evil that walks the earth looking to devour all in its path. Her name is Andrea Raven. She's been called many things over the duration of her existence...assassin...demon...Eclipse calls her mother. Andrea is second in charge of a female criminal organization known as the Kurayami. They're involved in everything from piracy to intelligence. Mostly, to those even aware of their existence, they're known for murder.

Having been at the upper echelons of the group since it's inception, it's been years since it was necessary for her to get her hands dirty with a contract. She doesn't have to. She wants to. Taking the lives of others brings her pleasure. There was only one target at this once beautiful Anchorage home. To her, the extra five people were a bonus. A thrill. It'd been too long since she'd had one. Too long since she'd killed. Between her home life with Eclipse's father, and the responsibilities of her position, she doesn't get to work hands-on like this as much anymore. Tonight, she made the time. Her eyes move from her victims to the darkness outside the open door. She is aware of something within it even before a figure emerges, as if having once been a part of it. A black mask resembling a scarecrow with dull, red eyes adorns the girl's face. Andrea doesn't move as the figure walks towards her and stops a few feet away. She sniffs at the air.)

Andrea: I knew you would eventually make your way back from that place. Come closer.

(Dusk hesitates for a long moment before stepping within reach of Andrea. Unsure of what to say, she says nothing. Andrea's black eyes stare at her for a long while before she speaks. Their intensity bearing down on Dusk. Dwarfing her.)

Andrea: Take off your mask child. Let me look upon you.

(Slowly she removes her mask and then let's it hang at her side in her hand. The wicked delight normally associated with her is not present. Her face looking more like that of a curious little girl. Andrea stares into her crazed, dark blue eyes. A devilish smile spreading across her face.)

Andrea: It truly is you daughter.

(Dusk nods.)

Dusk: Yes.

(Andrea's fist slams into her face without warning. The power behind the blow staggers Dusk a few steps back. Andrea's smile grows.)

Andrea: That place has made you strong. Good.

(Blood trickles down from the side of Dusk's lip. A smile forms on her face to match her mother's.)

Andrea: Who else is aware of your return?

(A little laugh escapes Dusk's throat as she answers.)

Dusk: Just big sister. I've been getting to know her so very well.

(Andrea studies her daughter. Her smile recedes until it disappears.)

Andrea: Have you now?

(Her daughter's lips contort into a wicked smirk. Twistied delight dancing across her face.)

Dusk: Oh yes. Her and her lover...Angel. They've taught me much. I'm quite...fond...of them.

(The bitterness within Andrea's features claws its way further to the surface. She stands up.)

Andrea: Anyone else?

(The force of her presence presses against Dusk as if trying to smother her.)

Dusk: No.

(The answer satisfies the creature that is her mother.)

Andrea: Good.

(She steps forward till she is standing next to Dusk, facing the opposite direction. Neither looks directly at the other.)

Andrea: Do not make your father aware of your presence yet. Return to your sister.

(Dusk nods without speaking. Andrea takes a step forward and stops.)

Andrea: You've grown up well child.

(She strides forward, and exits the house, leaving her daughter standing in the silence of the dead alone.)


The world is not somewhere I belong...

(I won't make this call in front of him. This call I have no desire to make. It must be made. I will spare myself of having an audience. Instead, I head to the darkest alley in the neighborhood I can find. The one that people get a bad feeling about. [The one you belong in]. I grab the phone from my pocket. I find I just stare at it. These past few weeks have been unpleasant[interesting]. Angel's past came back. He wouldn't let me in so I pried[broke] open the doors to his soul. [Against his will]. He should have known I'd follow. We face everything either alone or together. There is no middle ground. No dipping his toe in the pool like a tiny, female child. I think these things. Have strong opinions about them. Know them to be right. Yet, would I invite him completely into my secrets? I haven't. [Don't]. I didn't even want to make this phone call in front of him. I doubt he'd be comfortable with having me watch him cradle a frail, dying friend. A professor.

Maybe I do understand some of it. Maybe I'm also completely unreasonable[irrational] when it comes to him. I don't care. We made an agreement. To share enemies[victims]. I would also never let these people take him. No one takes what is mine. No one hurts [what is mine to hurt]. It's almost funny. A secret group hunts the man I have claimed, yet my anger is not fully directed at it. Is it because I haven't been able to encounter them yet? [No]. I've spent plenty of time hating them. No, it's that I'm still angry about Addiction from two weeks ago. I didn't say anything to Angel about it, but I was not pleased. Redemption. He took Redemption on a date. [Kill them both]. A[MY] date. Went through the building stalking victims together and joking[flirting]. There was a moment where he almost gave him his flirty face. The one reserved for me. It didn't happen. [Are you sure]? Just was close. Slutty Angel[whore]. Filthy Redemption[bitch]. They'll pay. [Yes]. Another time. His enemies need to be removed from the equation first. Then we can discuss[handle] the blurring of his fidelity.

Now, if I would just make the call, I could focus on the destruction of his enemies. I relent. I dial the number without allowing myself the indulgence[weakness] of a sigh. I just need her to answer and be helpful. That could be asking a lot. We shall see. I listen to it ring twice before I am greeted by her voice.)

Vivian: I don't recognize this burner phone number.

(I'm not surprised she would be able to tell what I'm calling from.)

Eclipse: Vivian...It's Eclipse.

(She goes silent. I can't risk her hanging up as I doubt she'll answer calls from this number again.)

Eclipse: Don't hang up. It's important.

(She remains quiet, but stays on the line. Eventually she says something.)

Vivian: I...really shouldn't be talking to you.

(I'm sure that's true. Fallon[Princess] would definitely be angry with her.)

Eclipse: I know. I won't be calling again. It's life and death.

(I hear a sigh as she debates over my words. Just say "yes". Angel needs this information. I'm not sure I'd be able to restrain from tracking you down if you refuse. [That's right].)

Vivian: ...Alright, fine. What do you need?

(I find I'm relieved by her answer. Not just because Angel and I need this information. I think I would feel bad if I had to hurt her. [You still would have though].)

Eclipse: I need everything you can find on a group called Circe. Especially any locations. I have some coordinates that I'll send you for a cabin having something to do with them. Also, they may be connected to Briar Ridge Psychiatric Hospital. Cover your tracks. You don't want them tracing anything back to you.

(I text her the coordinates quickly and then put the phone back to my ear. I can hear her typing already. Her voice sounds slightly offended in her response.)

Vivian: Who do you think you're talking to?

(I warned her. She mumbles to herself for a moment about whatever she is looking at. Finally, she talks to me again.)

Vivian: This, is gonna take a minute. There's a lot of dummy coporations connected to what you sent me. Give me ten minutes to sort through all of this and I'll send what I have to your phone.

(When she still lived at my house, she once explained that even bad guys file paperwork through various methods and companies so that property doesn't attract attention. Apparently, they often hide things the same way corporations do. I'm guessing she has to run this down. I'll give her the ten minutes. We hang up and I wait. Just hurry up Vivian. You have no idea how bad I want[hate] these bastards.)


The world is her plaything...

(Angel sits in the rundown apartment he shares with Eclipse. Empty beer cans, plastic bags, and crushed cigarette boxes are scattered across the floor. In the corner, across from the bed, is a growing pile of garbage that seems to increase in size every week. It does little to alter the faded walls and worn carpet. It was a mess before she moved in. Nothing has changed since. She left a few minutes ago to go for a walk. Most likely to call her former team without an audience. Their secretive natures haven't lessened from their time together. Angel sits on the bed with a beer in hand. His mind far from his surroundings. A multitude of horrible thoughts running through his head. Thoughts interrupted by a quiet knock on the door.

His eyes dart up to the door. The last time there was a knock, he was greeted by his past returning to claim him. His shoulders tense as the knock sounds again. He tosses the beer aside. Some of it getting on him in the process. The can rolls on the floor. The rest of the beer slowly pours into the carpet. He stands up. Ready to confront what lays on the other side of the faded door. Purposefully, he strides to the door and throws it open with haste. What he finds on the other side is the last thing he expected.

She stands there in a thin, slinky, purple and white dress that is held on her curves by two thin straps. Her brown hair is dark, to the point of almost appearing black. It's disheveled and hangs down to her shoulders. Dark blue eyes dance with a twisted voracity for life from behind strands of hair. An unnverving smile plays at her lips. He sighs upon seeing the sister of his lover at his door. Her smile spreads as she speaks to him playfully.)

Dusk: Miss me?

(His reaction is immediate. Without emotion, besides a frustrating acceptance. Flat.)

Angel: Fucking hell...

(This does nothing to dissuade her. They stand in silence and stare at each other for a moment. Neither eager to make the first move in whatever this is. Angel's patience defeats hers. Her odd, playful energy infects her voice.)

Dusk: You could invite me in. This neighborhood is...dangerous.

(The tension in his facial muscles express his lack of enthusiasm at her arrival. At the prospect of her coming in. He's not sure what to expect from this visit. Is she a mere annoyance, or a true threat? His curiousity to determine which wins out. Even so, he can't mask the reluctance in his tone.)

Angel: Hey, yeah, sure, why not -- I mean, what could go wrong? Fuck. Come in, then. Shut the door behind you. No sudden movements. Keep your distance.

(He lets go of the door and walks the couple of steps to what he considers to be the kitchen area of the apartment. She steps in and shuts the door behind her before stalking her way over to him and leaning against the tiny counter. Giving him just enough space to be comfortable. If there is such an amount of space when it comes to her. He considers the possibility that there isn't. Not with the way she looks. The way she smells. The way everything about her screams danger. She starts to speak, but is cut off.)

Angel: Let me just say, okay, if I may, that I've had a long fucking week, lady. So whatever you're here to say, say it quickly, say it quietly, and then get the fuck out of my house. If you would.

(Her head tilts slightly to the side. A mannerism he's all too familiar with. It's one of Eclipse's. This does little to help him. Seeing that in someone else is both alluring and distressing. Especially when she looks so similar to her older sister. Her voice is sweet with a strange warble in the undertone. As if an unstable laugh is hidden within the depths of her voice trying to claw its way out toward him.)

Dusk: So gruff...and strong...We never did get to finish our conversation. My sister can be sooo truculent.

(The "conversation" she refers to could hardly be called that in his mind. She had broken in and cuddled up to him in his sleep. Pressed her body against his. So very close. Woke him up by talking with her strange version of conversation. She had tried speaking further, but Eclipse had burst out of the bathroom to attack her. Eclipse had once again proved herself to be strong enough to survive him. It was after this fight that Dusk revealed herself to be Eclipse's sister. She looks just like a younger, slightly smaller Eclipse. It was either that, or clone, as far as Angel was concerned.)

Dusk: It's too bad really. We were having such a great time.

(He stares into her eyes. Watches as her pupils seem to shift back and forth from small to large. As much unease as this brings him, his mind can't help attempting to move to remembering how she felt against him. He quickly stops that thought before it can gain traction. That's probably what she wanted when she brought it up. He has no intention of letting her into his head. Which is the only desire of hers that seems clear to him. Though he maintains the appearance of being relaxed on the outside, she makes him anything but.)

Angel: You could call it that. You could also call it breaking and entering, stalking, and borderline sexual assualt. Semantics, eh? But I only accept either of the three if they're coming from your sister.

(The smile on her face diminishes at the sound of his words. The gleam in her eyes, the wicked gleam, never leaves though. Her tone continues to hover between patronizing and sincere. To the point the two seem to blend together for him. Just like they did that night.)

Dusk: Aw, there's no need to be this way, AnGeL.

(The way she said his name. The true psychosis that laced the word. It's unsettling. What is it she truly wants from him? Why all the strange games that only she understands? He attempts to speak, but she just walks away from him. Past him. She sits on his bed. At the end of it, on Eclipse's side. As if the space belonged to her. She begins to hum oddly as she smoothes the sheets with her hands. For a moment, it almost seems as if she forgets he's there. Then as abruptly as it started, her humming and smoothing stop. She looks over at him. Her eyes almost appearing as if they want to smother him.)

Angel: Okay, alright. That's enough. The sheets are fine. Time to go.

(It's now he realizes that he's opened Pandora's Box by letting her into his apartment. Into his life. He thought he could prevent her from getting in his head a minute before. She'd infected him before she came in the door. The way her eyes try to consume him stirs feelings him he'd rather pretend didn't exist. Her appearance is confusing. Distracting. It's not just his attraction that disturbs him. There's nothing good that can come from this. Her instability is obvious and dangerous. Her presence is a physical and emotional threat. Even worse, if Eclipse came home right now...well it wouldn't look good. A pouty smile forms on her face. Her voice seductive, but with an unmistakeable trace of menace.)

Dusk: I just got here. We haven't talked.

(Even worse, he's enjoying their back and forth. It's stimulating. Banter is not exactly something Eclipse does. He can't believe that thought even came to his mind. He stomps it into submission before it worms his way inside him in the form of guilt. He will not be comparing the two in such a manner. It's too close to betrayal. The longer Dusk is here the more difficult things become for him. He should have slammed the door in her face when he saw it was her. There's no good scenario for how this could end. His attraction. Her unpredictable nature. Eclipse's impending return home. Disaster can be the only outcome. She has to leave.)

Angel: I'm thinking we don't need to. Just crawl back to whatever lab created you and we'll call it good. And then anytime you feel like talking, you just use those little fingers to dial your sister.

(Her head tilts to the side again. Her smile melts away and is replaced by what appears to be curiousity. The same kind of a curiousity a child expresses when looking down at an insect. He'd just gotten used to the mocking, playful seduction. The sudden shift puts him further on guard. If she can shift like that, then she could also explode without any indication beforehand. Tension fills the room between them. Mixed in with the silence. This is taking too long. Should he try to throw her out or give her a second he may not have? Her head returns to a more normal position. If there was anything normal to be had in this situation. She ignores his previous words as she speaks to him in soft tones.)

Dusk: Do you like my dress? I got it for you.

(His brain screams at him not to look at the dress. At her body in it sitting on his bed. Is she reading him? Trying to direct his attention in such a way to manipulate him? He's not completely sure, but he finds himself looking anyway. His anxiety over this interaction only increases. He looks up from it and finds her eyes connecting to his again. Despite the danger he turns from her and walks towards the door. Listening for her movements. His response to her question is flippant.)

Angel: Yeah, it's great.

(He opens the door and motions for her to leave. Hoping that she won't just sit there on the bed. He has no idea if she intends to go anywhere before she's ready.)

Angel: You gotta go.

(He can only hope she'll actually listen. To his surprise she stands up. That's a good first step. She saunters over to him. Gets close enough for him to feel her breath on his skin. His hand tightens on the door. Her words don't match her sensual tone or the situation.)

Dusk: Merry Christmas.

(The words take him slightly off guard, but not enough to reduce his determination to be free of her. She stands on her tips toes and kisses his cheek for way too long. Her fingers sliding into his hair softly. Her body way too close to his. She has to go. She has to go now. Just as he's about to push her away she breaks the awkward cheek kiss. It's now he sees her eyes. The malevolent joy in them. The narrow pupils. The sick grin on her face. She yanks hard. Some of his hair rips off in her hand as she laughs quietly behind the smile. He clutches the spot where she tore it from. He starts to cuss, but her voice undercuts him as she sniffs the hair in her hand.)

Dusk: Mmmm. It's just what I wanted. How did you know?

(That's it. It's enough for him. He's not going to feed into whatever this is. In his anger he grabs her by the arm, which seems to only make her laugh again. He shoves her into the hall. He watches as she blows him a kiss from the hand with his hair in it. He can't indulge her. No good will come from it. He slams the door and locks it. The thing he should have done in the first place. It's too late now. The box is already open. Some things in this world cannot be undone.)


The world hates me...

(I look at the information in my phone once more before putting it away. My key is placed in the lock and the door is opened. This is what he was looking for. What he[we] wanted. Hopefully, this will lead us to what we need. I have no wish to deal with him fighting me on this. This subject has brought us nothing...just problems. I just want to solve[destroy] them. Move on. I step in to find him looking slightly glazed over on the bed, but not relaxed. I'm still not pleased I had to call the people who abandoned[rejected] me to get the information he wanted. He's just going to try to go after them alone. [Reject you too]. So, as much as I wanted what Vivian sent's going to continue to be a problem. I toss my coat aside. I don't bother to see where it lands. I shut the door behind me, hard. Harder[softer] than I probably intended. I look over at him, but don't join him on the bed.)

Eclipse: I have what you need.

(This grabs his attention. He sits up straight. The glazed look fades. He was agitated beneath it. This just pulled it to the surface.)

Angel: Tell me.

(His eyes focus completely on me[them]. I attempt to hide my reluctance and tell him.)

Eclipse: Vivian couldn’t find much. They’re an elusive group. She worked mainly off hearsay and rumor. Connected some dots, and cross-referenced what she could. We have a lead. A location. Nothing certain.

(None of this dissuade's him. I watch as his eyes go wide. It's not the "ifs" that his mind has locked onto. It becomes even more obvious to me as his next question is a whisper without any breath behind it.)

Angel: Where?

(His anticipation is already breeding tension. I can feel it building around me.)

Eclipse: Not far from here. A few hours north. Upstate. It's some kind of facility. A warehouse. I have the coordinates.

(He stares at me without seeing. Talking to himself in a world within his own head.)

Angel: So close...All this time.

(I try to speak, but he snaps out of it quick enough to cut me off before I can even start.)

Angel: And the name? Circe? What about the name?

(He's completely focused[gone] now. I don't think he even saw I was going to say something. Not really. The more I tell him, the worse things feel to me. It's like the air is being slowly sucked out of the room.)

Eclipse: Rudimentary research. Circe. The name of a Greek goddess. Daughter of Helios, god of the sun. Apparently, a goddess of magic. Master of potions and herbs. Known for turning her enemies into animals and beasts.

(They chose this for a reason. It wasn't because it sounded cool[childish].)

Eclipse: Does that mean anything to you?

(I see the way his pupils adjust. The tightening of his jaw. It does mean something.)

Angel: No. Nothing.

(Liar[LIAR]. Didn't even try to lie well. He whispers again to himself.)

Angel: Circe...daughter of the sun.

(Yeah that definitely means nothing[everything] to him. The lie adds to the tension in the room. It weighs us down. I grow weary of this. I get my cigarettes out of my pants and light one. As I exhale, it's like I'm breathing fire. It matches my mood. I look at him coldly. My words designed to jab at him.)

Eclipse: So, when are we going?

(I'm angry before he answers. I already know what it's going to be. A sharp reply of...)

Angel: WE aren't going anywhere.

(He climbs off the bed, but doesn't even look my direction. Just mentioning going has struck a nerve once again.)

Angel: We've already been through this.

(He heads past me to the kitchen. As if avoiding looking my direction will cause me to drop the subject. Walking away from me doesn't work. [It's not wise].)

Eclipse: We have. But that was then, love. The question is no longer up for debate. Not after what I've found. I'm coming.

(I stare at the back of his head. Watch his shoulders move up and down from heavy, measured breaths. He pretends to mess with something[nothing] in the kitchen. There is nothing there. The only sound is a very direct[hardened] whisper.)

Angel: You're not coming...

(It's not up to him. [It never was].)

Eclipse: I...

(It's the only thing I manage to get out before he explodes.)


(The harshness he yells at me with brings pain[anger]. He spins around. His face etched in rage.)

Angel: Enough! This isn't some fucking fantasy land-it's not one of your little fucking hunts, with your little fucking team-and it's not some fucking competition-is it ever anything else with you? You are not in charge here. This is my life. MINE. And you-injecting yourself into it like some fucking parasite; always there, forcing your way in, relentless-for some sick fucking amustement-or what?

(Paraiste? PARASITE! His words wound[enrage] me. I hadn't expected he would invite me to live with him. Love with him. Then act like I burrowed my way here. I should [kill him where he stands]. I restrain from my initial impulses. Bring me pain. Bring me anger. Bring me all your problems and then try to force me out?!  I measure my response a dagger into his chest. I leave my voice calm. Steely. To increase the effects of the terrible[perfect] words I speak. I cut him down like a child.)

Eclipse: You are weak. You wouldn't make it on your own.

(He instantly loses it. Destroys what we've built together. Casts aside all his promises in one swift motion. He rushes at me and slams his forearm across my throat. Driving me into the wall of our[his] decaying apartment. I should have been ready, but I didn't feel I had to be. [You always have to]. We had promised not to do this anymore. He told me he didn't want this. My air is cut off. I fight for breath. He presses in close. Puts his face in front of mine. [Bite it]. For effect. [Rip his flesh]. Stares into my eyes. )

Angel: You have no idea what I am.

(I'm staggered. Emotionally[physically] attacked. I need air. I let him in. I've never let anyone this close to me. Never. This is how he repays my love[weakness]? Maybe I don't truly know what he is. Unfortunately for him, he's forgotten what I am. It's a mistake. [Make him pay]. In a series of mistakes he's made. I have to hurt[bleed] him. [Bring him pain]. I ignore my gasps for air. Focus on [lashing out]. I stare back into his eyes as my leg strikes hard and fast on his left knee. His leg buckles. Drops him to a knee. Air fills my lungs once more. Hard and heavy. Without hesitation, I make my way around him to the bed and [grab my blade]. At full force I [rip him around and slam him into the wall]. I [put the knife to his throat]. It's time to [DIE]. [Let's stab his throat. Destroy the betrayer]. Let's. His arms don't even go up to defend himself. [He looks ready]. That's the problem.)

Angel: Do it.

(I shouldn't[should]. [Give him what he wants. What we all want]. I push the blade forward. [Blood]. [WONDERFUL BLOOD HAHAHAHA]. It trickles down his neck, but he doesn't react.)

Angel: I'm not the man you once knew. I do not fear death.

(We stand in silence. My blade at his throat. [Blood] pooling at the collar of his shirt. [What are you waiting for]?)

Angel: Do it.

(No. [No]? No. This is all only serving to break my heart further. [Take vengeance]. My breathing is heavy. My heart pounds in my chest. My rage still burns out my veins like an acid, but I'm not taking his life over this. Not like this. [He deserves it, welcomes it]. There's a difference between not fearing death and trying to push me into killing him to prove his [little] point. I try to bottle my rage. [Not again]. I push it all away. Pull the knife from his throat. Turn away. I don't even want to look at him right now. He pushes himself from the wall.)

Angel: I leave tomorrow.

(I find myself standing in place. Staring at the floor. Fighting my rage. Fighting [yourself]. My skin burns with the heat of my enmity. Sweat running down it. I can't look at him. I'll still be tempted. I try to focus on my confusion[disgust] over the situation.)

Angel: Don't wait for me tonight. I won't be back.

(With that, he is gone. [Abandoned]. Leaving me with my bitterness. I will not follow him. Not right now. I know the location. I will be there. People will [die]. Then afterwards...when this mess is over with...and it's just him and me[us]...well...I'll [do what comes natural].)

Summer Ashton

The world doesn't matter...

(Everything's been a been a big fuckin' mess since we kicked out Scary Lady and moved in with the Parkers. Ruen boltin' from the group didn't help. Viv and I have been livin' in the basement. Red's a basket case. Fiona's extra touchy. I haven't hit anyone in weeks. And Mom has been tryin' to act like it's all okay. That's why we're all sittin' in the living room in front of the Christmas tree that Mom put up. We've had no direction. Not really. I'm still waitin' on her to give us one. I know she will. I just don't like how long it's takin'. I don't see it gettin' better till Red snaps out of it. Scary Lady sure did a number on her. Not sure when she's gonna snap outta that shit, but it better be soon. I'm itchin' for a fight. Instead I'm doin' this Christmas crap.

Normally, Viv and I exchange gifts, argue, and get smashed. I don't feel like none of it this year. Not that I usually do. It's just one more thing to aggravate me. Playin' all nice with everyone isn't my thing. Yet, here I am sittin' on a couch in front of a tree starin' at these bitches as presents get passed out. Fuckin' thrillin'. Mom hands me a box wrapped in Santa paper with a big stupid bow on it. The little tag says it's from her. What'd she do, find a way to put a hug in a box? Ugh.)

Summer: This better be more vodka.

(By the frown on her face I can tell that's not the case.)

Fallon: I'm not buying you booze Summer.

(All I hear is "Why would I give you what you want Summer". Fine. I'll open it. I tear off the stupid paper and find a white box. I rip the top off and toss it on the floor. Leather gloves? Some kind of metal plate over the knuckles.)

Summer: What's the deal with these Mom?

Fallon: The knuckles are cushioned heavily beneath the plate. I figure you'll tear your hands up less and do a little more damage. Try them on.

(I shrug and grab them out of the box and pull them onto my mitts. More comfortable than they look. I smash the knuckles against each other and don't feel it hardly at all. I'm not sure I like that. Part of hitting people is feelin' it. It feels good. I'd be annoyed, but one thing makes me like these puppies....Exa Cution. That bitch has that damn metal plate in her head. Almost broke my hand on it the last time. These are gonna come in handy when I find her. When I put her in a bag. As much as I don't want to, I gotta admit this is a good gift.)

Summer: These'll work.

(Now I just need to find someone to test these bastards on. I manage to restrain from tryin' 'em on anyone here. I don't feel like Mom gettin' on my case again. She already got pissed over the holes in the wall downstairs. Those are her fault. If she'd put us to work, I wouldn't need the release. I watch everyone else open their shit while I get back to drinkin'. I'm goin' through my supply twice as fast lately. Startin' to get expensive. Sittin' idle is gettin' to be a pain in the ass. I watch everyone bein' all sharin' and carin'. What a crock. I look over to see Red's presents sittin' in a stack. She's still in her room. Bitch is still unresponsive. Only person even allowed in her room is Mom. They should just let me knock some sense into her. I'd wake her up.)

Once Known As Ember

The world isn't there...

(I'm not sure how long I've been here. Sinking. Constantly descending further down in the black sea that has become my world. Only black water and the muffled sounds of my screams surround me. Somewhere on the surface is my body. I'm not even sure which direction that is now. I've sunk so far. For so long. Will I ever reach it again? Do I even want to? The only things I truly remember are manipulation and pain. My life, the life I had, have not been my own for a very long time. Used, betrayed, destroyed....Victim. The word echoes in my head. What is there for me to go back to? Everything I was is gone. Everything else a lie. What am I now? What is truly left?

I've wondered these things constantly since I fell into this hellish, empty limbo. Empty because my soul was stolen. I know who did it....but for some reason I can no longer see her. The longer I'm here, the more I lose. My destoyer's face is gone. Her name unknown. Much like my own. The further I descend, the more viscous and abrasive the water becomes. As if my flesh is being sanded away slowly. Pieces of myself are ground to a fine powder till everything around me becomes a murky cloud. I can hear and say nothing. No matter how much I want to scream in horror. I struggle against it, but am dragged down further. The pressure against me incrases until it feels as if my bones want to snap. My flesh splits open. My insides become exposed to the water. Opened to the abrasive undertow. Ground down like my skin before them. Will there be anything left of me by the time I reach the bottom? Is there a bottom?

It isn't long before my question is answered. Tattered and broken, I sink into a sandy, sea floor. I look at it through eroding eyes. It's not sand. Not in the true sense. It's the pieces of me that were sanded off. That were ground to dust...ash. Then my eyeballs finish their disintegration. They join the rest of the sea floor, leaving my sockets empty. Darkness is all that remains. I silently scream as I sink into the powder that was once me. Then there is nothing. Stillness. All that has ever been me is gone. All that remains is a confused, dying consciousness. Is this the end


Bitter, horrific screams angrily flood me as my consciousness revives. I feel them without the ability to hear. I sense the sand that use to be me shift. Lurch. I feel every particle as it begins to swirl within the bottom of the black sea. Their intensity increasing until a whirlpool forms. A raging tornado that stretches towards the surface. A storm of onyx water and human dust. All the ash that had been me is forced to the bottom. Forced to scrape together in a tight space. Slowly a shape is formed within. I will it to continue. My body appears within the cloud. Muscle clings to bone. Skin stretches over meat. Still no vision. Eyeless. Flesh becomes tongue. My enraged, painful wails are audible now. The weight of them vibrates heavily into the water above me. The whirlpool expands. Dust becomes eyes, held tightly inside the lids. The remainder of the pieces that used to be part of my flesh are pushed away, never to return. I kneel down and then push off the bottom with all my might. My body rages to the surface as my eyes open. The sea is gone. The sky is nowhere to be seen. I'm in a building. I hear yelling. I scream back at it throatily. The yelling doesn't relent, though it does sound strained now.)

Voice: Ember!..stop...

(Ember? She was someone else's dream. I used to be her. My eyes adjust to see a familiar face beneath me. Concern fills her eyes. My hands are wrapped in her hair. Have I been slamming her head into the floor? I can't be sure. What I can be sure of is, she is Fallon. Everything comes flooding back. The names I once had. How one was stolen from me and the other was a lie. My connection to the first is absent. My hatred for the second is not. I remember how I ended up at this house. How Eclipse destroyed me. How Fallon took care of me. I climb off of her and help her to her feet.)

Fallon: Are you okay?

(I was the one hurting her and she's worried about me? I nod in response. My voice sounds distant to me as I speak.)

Once Known As Ember: Yeah...

(She looks into my eyes and checks my forehead. I assume for fever. She's worried. It's sweet, but not necessary.)

Fallon: Ember, what happened?

(I brush her hand away at the mention of that name. My tone is steely as I correct her.)

Once Known As Ember: Ember is no more. Don't speak that name again. Call me...

(I did not have a name in mind, but one immediately surfaces within my mind. It's the start to finding an identity for myself.)

Once Known As Ember: Call me Relic...