“Rosie – position?”
Her voice crackles over the helmet radio, “Yeah, I’ve got clear sights.” Can hear the little hesitation of held breath.
Wait for it.
“You sure about this, Ghost?” She’s already switched to your new moniker, you note. Say what you will about Rosie; the woman is a professional. After tonight the rest of the city will know to mark ‘Puppetmaster’ as out of date.
Chen watches you, hands at the ready, a shoulder-mounted mini-missile system attached to his power armor. Great. “I can’t say I care what you think of me, Puppetmaster.”
“It’s Ghost.” You do your best sneer with a mirrored helmet. “Try to keep up, Marshal.” This is your only second time out, and first time using the name, but he doesn’t need to know that. Let them sweat a little.
“Stop it.” Jane presses a finger to Ortega’s lips. “It’s not your fault. It’s…”
Ortega takes her hand, gently lowering. “Ghost’s.”
Jane laughs, disdainful. Weaves her fingers between Ortega’s as they move to walk down the street together. “Is that really the name now?”
“How dumb. What is this guy, emo?” Jane glances back towards Ortega. Was that a frown on her face? It’s gone. She’s smiling again. Jane smiles back.
“It is pretty dumb isn’t it?” Ortega laughs along. “I’ve heard worst ones before though.”
“You know there’s only one I care about.”
“Well, alright.” She sighs. “There’s Hollow Ground and then there’s Ghost.”
“Banshee.” You correct her.
She blinks. “They changed their name again?”
You shrug, try to play it off like it was nothing and steal a glance at her. “That’s what the paper said this morning.” You force a laugh, smiling at the ocean. Have to play this cool. “Ghost was kind of stupid name anyway, wasn’t it?”
“Whatever they go by,” You can feel Ortega’s eyes on the side of your face. “They need to be stopped.”
You thrust your fist into the air, holding the detonator aloft. Some part of you faintly aware you’ve completely lost the plot. But it’s like you’re watching yourself from outside, unable to stop. To pull back.
No one stops.
“I am Adrestia!” You scream it at the top of your lungs, blowing out the speakers in your helmet. “The inescapable! And I’m fucking coming for you!”
“I don’t think it’s dangerous?”
fallen hero fanfiction, this time with @frozenabattoir sidestep oc, Cerise for some ice cream fluff ~1.2k words [ao3]
It was an impulse decision really. To sort through your burner phone collection and find her’s, a soft pastel pink, and give her a call. Didn’t really expect her to pick up. Didn’t expect to get a yes. But she did and she did, and now you’re the one running late, weaving past a crowd of very inconsiderate teenagers to get to the park, and – oh god, why are there so many people out today? It’s hot as hell, same as it is everyday. Admittedly you’ve always got, like three layers on, and no you will not be taking suggestions on that. But still. Still!
Catch a feeling of salt water, Cerise? Push up your sunglasses against the light as you search the park and– There she is, siting in the shade of the monument. The woman who hasn’t gotten the word that beanies are out of fashion now. You wave your hand, willing her to look up as you power-walk across the grass. “Cerise! Cerise! S-sorry to have kept you waiting!”
She looks up, flash of smile around the eyes, of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind. “Ari! There you are.” She stands up, takes the cigarette out of her mouth. “Get held up?”
You nod, hold out your hands palms up. “Everyone and their third cousin is out today, feels like.”
Cerise’s hand twitches, you catch her eye, glance at the cigarette in her hand, shake your head. The two of you exchange grimaces and drift over to the one of the trashcans at the edge of the park.
“...Not much smog today.” Cerise offers as she stubs out the butt against the ashtray over the trashcan.
You glance up at the sky. Clear, cloudless and blue. Tilt your head. “Almost feels like a real summer day.”
Cerise laughs at that, it almost sounds natural. “I think everyone else had the same idea.” She glances around the park, then back at you. “So what was so important?”
You hold a finger, cast back your memory, try to place yourself spatially. “You’ll see. Actually…” Glance around at the crowd, chew at the inside of your cheek. “We should probably get a move on, or they’ll be all out by the time we get there.”
“Um. This isn’t a–”
“No! Not an operation. Or, uh–” You have to think about that, purse your lips in thought. “I guess it is now?” You shift your purse on your shoulder, hand on the strap. “I know where we need to go. It shouldn’t be too far a walk.” You square your shoulders and take off, follow the imaginary thread in your head.
“H-hey! Ari, wait up!” Cerise jogs after you, slowing down when she catches up. “What is this about?”
You glance at her, sidestep a man in business suite as you walk down the sidewalk, leaving the park behind. “I told you, you’ll see. It’s– It’s not like, something dangerous, if that’s what you’re worried about. Uh. Well, I don’t think it’s dangerous?”
“Ariadne…” There’s a warning tone to her voice. Maybe you’re pushing things a little hard? But damnit you’re committed now. “This isn’t going to be another goose chase for the perfect sandwich truck is it?”
Spin on your heel, to face her. Rely on telepathy to keep from bumping into people as you walk backwards. “Okay. That one is… not my fault. The truck moved! It moved!”
Cerise nods, eyebrows raised. “They do that…”
You huff. “Well they shouldn’t.” You turn back around, gesture to the left with one hand. “Okay, we turn left here and it won’t be far. Like I said, it’s close.”
A moment of relative silence passes between the two of you as you walk down the street. Cerise pulls a little closer, “Hey, Ari… You okay? You seem kind of… intense today?”
You flinch at that, don’t look at her while you adjust your shawl. “It’s fine. I’m fine. We’re fine.”
Pick up a soft hiss of breath beside you. “Alright. If you say so.”
You glance at her. Quick look before focusing back on the path. “Are– are you?”
She doesn’t respond right away. “Lot of people out today.”
“Ah. Y-yeah. S-sure is.” You glance around, up at the sky framed by rows of metal and concrete and glass. Ah– there, finally. Thank god. You step back beside Cerise, lightly tap her shoulder. “Hey, we’re here.” You point up, down the street towards the sign in neon light. “You ever been to Ronnie’s?”
“Best ice cream on this side of the city. They’re only open part of the day though. That’s why we needed to hurry.”
“Oh. Okay… I don’t usually take this street home I guess.” Cerise sticks her hands in her pockets, rocks back and forth on her heels.
“I’ve uh…” You try not to laugh. “I’ve always got an eye out for ice cream shops.”
Cerise follows you into the store, wincing at the wall of cold treated air pour out on the inside of the door frame to make an air curtain. “Cramped.” She observes, looking around.
“We can head back to the park after.” You offer, making your way to the counter. “Hi Ronnie!”
The Turkish man rinsing cups behind the counter looks up, breaks into a huge grin. “Ah! Rosa, my favorite customer! How are you this day?”
“I’m okay,” let your lips twitch up in a smile. “Got a friend with me today.” You thumb towards Cerise, who raises a hand in greeting.
“Of course, you and your friend look lovely today. Just, one moment.” He steps away, shaking the water off his hands before reaching for a towel.
Cerise leans in towards you, whispering. “Rosa?”
You wince, smile. “D-don’t worry about it. Get whatever you want. I can probably cover it.”
You gently prod Cerise forward to the counter as Ronnie returns, twirling an ice cream scoop like an old west gunslinger. She glances back at you, “Um–?”
“It’s– It’s fine, I’m gonna get a milkshake.”
Ronnie winks at the two of you, “She always gets the same thing, my dear Rosa.”
You tug at your shawl. “Please stop doing that,” you mumble under your breath, face a little too warm in the cold air. A little more loudly, you say to Cerise, “It’s fine, get– get what you want.”
Cerise orders a bowl of Strawberry ice cream, and you pay the high schooler at the cash register before she can protest. The two of you wait for Ronnie to finish with the milkshake. Chocolate, of course. The whirling racket of the machine drowning out any attempt at conversation. As soon as he hands the milkshake to you, the two of you say your goodbyes make a quick escape back outside.
Outside you shrug, eyebrows raised in apology. “Sorry, Ronnie’s… uh, okay for a guy, I guess. But he’s still…”
“A charmer.” Cerise finishes.
“Yeah…” You scratch at your nose, tug your hair back out of the way. “Thanks for coming with me today.”
She glances away, back at the shop. “Uh, you’re welcome? Any time. Thank you for.. inviting me?”
You raise your milkshake and tap Cerise’s bowl of ice cream. “The ice cream’s pretty dang good though, right?”
Cerise puts a spoonful in her mouth as the two fo you walk back to the park, nods her head. “It’s okay.”
“I’ll take it.”
I was tagged by @girlwhowasntthere and also @ariadnedionysia, and I’m on holiday this week and therefore have more time so decided to give it a go.
1. YOUR CURRENT OTP(S)/OT3(S)/OTX(S)
Pythagoras/Icarus from Atlantis, of course. Lewis/Hathaway (Lewis fandom), and also Dom/Lofty (Holby City - shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone!).
2. A PAIRING YOU INITIALLY DIDN’T CONSIDER BUT SOMEONE CHANGED YOUR MIND (BONUS POINTS: WHO WAS THAT PERSON).
That’s a tough one! Probably Connor/Cutter (Primeval), and the person who really made me love that pairing was Telperion15 and her huge long running Connor/Cutter fic series.
Oh, also how could I forget Becker/Lester (also Primeval), and the person who was responsible for *that* was @serceleste
3. A PAIRING YOU USED TO LOVE, BUT IT ALL FELL APART FOR YOU.
Probably the obvious one is Connor/Abby in Primeval. I really disliked what canon did with that relationship in series 4 and 5, to the point where I kind of gave up on it. Also, I have still never forgiven that show for having them get together *offscreen* in between the end of series 3 and the beginning of series 4. WTF, show??!!
4. HAVE YOU ADDED ANYTHING CRACKY/HILARIOUS TO YOUR FANDOM, IF SO, WHAT.
There’s a few fairly cracky Atlantis wallpapers, such as the one with Pyth/Jason mpreg (Jason is the one who is pregnant, I’d like to note). And the one with the Pyth/Jason sex pollen accidental aphrodisiac wallpaper.
5. WHAT’S THE LONGEST YOU’VE EVER BEEN IN A FANDOM
Almost certainly Primeval. We are currently celebrating ten years of the show, and the fandom is still going, even though the show ended in 2012.
6: DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST OTP, IF SO WHO WAS IN IT
Bloody hell, this was a long time ago! I think it might have been Daniel/Janet in Stargate SG1.
7. NAME A FANDOM YOU DIDN’T CARE/THINK ABOUT UNTIL YOU SAW IT ALL OVER TUMBLR.
There isn’t one. For me, the show always come first, and then I go *looking* for the fandom.
8. SAY SOMETHING GENUINELY NICE ABOUT A CHARACTER WHO ISN’T ONE OF YOUR FAVES (CHARS YOU’RE NEUTRAL ON ARE FAIR GAME, AS ARE CHARS YOU DISLIKE)
I really liked what they did with Ariadne in series 2 of Atlantis. In series 1 she was a bit wet most of the time, and had *no* survival instinct when it came to baiting Pasiphae. But in series 2 she really took responsibility and stepped up and became a hero along with the boys.
9. NAME THREE THINGS YOU WISH YOU SAW MORE OR IN YOUR MAIN FANDOM (OR A FANDOM OF CHOICE)
Hercules/Pythagoras pairing! I know most people’s reaction to that pairing is, “Ewwww!”, but I love it. All the wonderful, sarcastic, supportive, bickering, but genuinely affectionate, *funny*, old-married-couple-comedy-double-act thing they had going on, especially in series 1. I think there’s about three or four fics, and maybe a couple of fanarts for this pairing. And half of them are by me.
Oh, hang, I have to think of *three* things for this question? Um...
Okay, I’d also like to see more *realistic* post-series 2 Pythagoras/Icarus fics, where they take time and struggle to reconcile and forgive and trust again after what Icarus did. Much as I want them to ultimately have a happy ending, there are so many fics where it’s just magically better and forgiven straight away, and I think Pythagoras would take longer to properly deal with it and sort out how he feels after what they went through.
I’d also love to see more fics exploring the friendship between Pythagoras and Ariadne, and how that might have developed in a series 2/post series 2 setting.
10. CHOOSE A SONG AT RANDOM, WHICH SHIP OR CHARACTER DOES IT REMIND YOU OF
I have no idea. Pass.
11. A PAIRING YOU SHIP THAT YOU DON’T THINK ANYONE ELSE SHIPS
See above - Pythagoras/Hercules.
12. YOUR MOST SCANDALOUS HEADCANON FOR YOUR CURRENT OTP(S)/OT3(S)/OTX(S)
I don’t think I have any headcanons that could be described as ‘scandalous’.
13. DO YOU HAVE ANY HARD AND FAST HEADCANONS THAT YOU WILL DIE DEFENDING, ABOUT ANYTHING AT ALL (GENDER IDENTITY, SEXUAL OR ROMANTIC ORIENTATION, EXTENDED FAMILY, SEXUAL PREFERENCES LIKE TOP/BOTTOM/SWITCH, RELATIONSHIP WITH POETRY, SERIOUSLY ANYTHING)
Pythagoras is is the top in Pyth/Icarus. I’m pretty certain that Icarus is actually the more sexually experienced of the two, and I’m also certain that in any other pairing - such as Pyth/Jason or Pyth/Hercules - Pyth would be the bottom. But with Icarus he is the more dominant of the two, and and that’s exactly how Icarus *wants* it. That said, they do switch occasionally, because Pyth is bound to be curious.
14. 5 FAVORITE CHARACTERS FROM 5 DIFFERENT FANDOMS
1. Pythagoras (Atlantis)
2. Connor (Primeval)
3. Hathaway (Lewis)
4. Merlin (Merlin)
5. Chandler (Whitechapel)
15. 3 OTPS FROM 3 DIFFERENT FANDOMS
1. Pythagoras/Icarus (Atlantis)
2. Connor/Ryan (Primeval)
3. Merlin/Gwaine (Merlin)
16. 5 FAVORITE SHIPS
Have we not already covered this in the previous question? I don’t actually dabble in *that many* different fandoms these days.
17. JUST RAMBLE ABOUT SOMETHING FAN-RELATED, GO GO GO (PROMPTS OPTIONAL BUT ENCOURAGED)
There are so many people that I have have become properly friends with in real life who I met through fandom. There are are so many sfi-fi cons, and theatre trips to see ‘some actor off the telly’ that I have done because of fandom. And even the friends who geography dictates I will never actually meet in person, if we have chatted online on a comments post, or on tumblr, or even got as far as e-mailing each other, then we are just as much friends as the people who I now know in RL. Fandom is a wonderful thing when it brings people together to squee about common interests.
if you fancy it.
ADLER AWARDS RESULTS
Each year, the **Adler Awards** awe millions of fans around the country each year. This year was no different. With performances by the likes of **Wilhelm Mueller, Stefan Schmidt, and Seamus Byrne, former member of London Calling.** Many other performances intermingled between these as well. Everyone in attendance looked great, some of them looked better than others. There was some drama between two female actresses who have yet to be identified. The LA Reporter will keep searching for information and let you, our loyal readers, know when we have information. The winners are as follows:
PRESENTER: AARON WELLS
AIM TRUE AWARDS SEASON
FEBRUARY - APRIL 2020
TOP BEAUTY CHANNEL - Aisha Becker
TOP SUBSCRIBER COUNT - Melodii Hanabusa
BEST ACTRESS - Ariadne Faolan
BEST DESIGN - Rowan Vega (Captain Marvel)
BEST FILM - Rocketman
ICON AWARD - Warren Hayes
BEST ACTOR - Kendrick Abbott
BEST COLLAB - Kendrick Abbott & Evangeline Cooper
TOP MALE ARTIST - Seamus Byrne
TOP FEMALE ARTIST - Lennon Okaes
HIP HOP SONG OF THE YEAR - Brantley Ambrose
POP SONG OF THE YEAR - Jameson Hall
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Page Scott (Road Less Traveled)
ARTIST OF THE YEAR - Page Scott
BEST SOUNDTRACK - Jameson Hall, Daniel O’Keefe (Rocketman)
SONGWRITER AWARD - Seamus Byrne
TOP BAND - Erin Mackenzie (Cynics+Critics)
TOP ROCK SONG - Aedan Bagshaw (Cobalt Blue)
INTERNATIONAL SONG - Wilhem Muller
BEST FORIGNE FILM - Stefan Schmidt
INTERNATIONAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR - Wilhem Muller
BEST DIRECTOR - Joey Breakfield
TOP GAMING CHANNEL - Melodii Hanabusa
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
Christmas at the Ortegas is always a noisy affair. And family can be a touchy subject even at the best of times. But this year Julia has brought someone new to Elena's house.
Well, theoretically. Where on earth did they disappear to?
Where on earth did those two go off to? Not in the kitchen, not with everyone else in the family room… on a haunch she snuck upstairs and checked the bedrooms but no one there either. Elena purses her lips, tapping her foot as she did another headcount of the nephews, nieces, uncles and in-laws.
Everyone accounted for except them.
Diego leans back in his seat, trying to avoid baby Gabby’s curious fists. “You lookin’ for something, Elena?”
“I’m looking for that fool daughter of mine. She and her friend have just vanished.”
“The red-head? What’s her name anyway, she’s pretty quiet.”
Elena tsks, lets Gabby catch her finger, tug this way and that. “Ariadne. The bird’s a bit shy.” She glances over the room, the Christmas tree in the corner presiding over a chaos of discarded wrapping paper. The kids; Vanessa, Carlos, Maria, and Enrique sprawled out in the middle playing their new trading card game, while their parents lounge on the couch, catching up on family gossip. “Sí, maybe this was too much for her.”
“Well, I don’t know where she went but…” He yanks a thumb towards the back of the house, “I think I saw Julia headed outside.”
“Thank you dear.” She leans down, smiles at Gabby. “You be nice to your papa now.” Gabby smiles, tries to take a wap at Elena’s nose. She pulls back just in time laughing. “She’s feisty.”
“I live in fear for when she grows up.”
“You out here, dear?”
“Over here, mamá.”
Elena turns the corner to find Julia sitting on the steps of the back porch. She raises a bottle in greeting, looking out over the open field. Elena frowns at that, “You two had a fight didn’t you?”
“Never any hiding from you, is there?” Julia keeps staring ahead, takes a sip from her beer.
Not responding right away, Elena sits down next to her daughter. “You always get like this when you’re upset, mi pequeña flor.” She sighs, puts her hand on Julia’s back. “What happened?”
Julia huffs, shaking her head. “I just wanted her to have a good time. Not… spend the whole party by herself in a corner.” She takes another sip of her beer, gesturing with her hands as she talks. “I feel like… I dunno, mamá, I just want her to feel like she belongs here. I thought she was finally starting to really open up and now…” Julia groans, hand to her forehead. “Mierda.”
Elena stays quiet, pulling Julia in for a hug, shoulders touching. Julia shifts her seat, taking another drink. “I.. I think something bad happened to her, mamá. Like… really bad. Bad enough to make Pa seem like a saint.”
“Your papa…” Elena sighs, rubbing Julia’s back. Her daughter and husband had never gotten along while he had been alive. A career military man from a military family, he had desperately tried to instill some sense of discipline and respect for authority, without success. And yet, even now it was still hard for Elena not to think her husband had a point given what had ended Julia’s short-lived dare-devil career. “He was just trying to do right by you, even if he didn’t know how.”
As expected, Julia pulls away again on the step, pointedly looking away from Elena. “He had a funny way of showing it.” She holds a hand out in front her, flexes her fingers as she stares down at the emitter. “He really thought he had me with this. That I had to sign up after that.”
“And just like my penqueña flor, you still had the last laugh.”
“I’ll never forget the look on his face when I got my first hero sponsorship.” A ghost of a smile plays on Julia’s lips. “Or the one when I told him Hood wanted me to join the Rangers.” Julia presses her lips into a thin line, shakes her head. “I’m glad he’s dead.”
As soon as she says it, she flinches. Shocked at herself for saying it out loud. When Elena doesn’t say anything there’s a furtive glance in her mother’s direction. Elena puts out her hand for the bottle of beer. “You know… I don’t miss him as much as I thought I would.”
Julia stares. Silently passes the bottle over.
Elena gives a weak smile, takes a drink and passes it back. “I know that makes me a bad wife. But I was a bad mother too, so–”
“Mamá, no, you were–”
“Oh stop.” Elena waves a hand, brushing her daughter’s objections aside. “I should have done more. Talked to your father, done something. And then maybe you wouldn’t have–”
“Mamá… we talked about this, it wasn’t your fault.”
“I wish I could believe that.” Elena laughs, a bitter sound. The bracelets around her wrist jingle as she rubs her eye, puts on a smile. “All I can do is be better now. Be there for you now.” She squeezes her daughter’s shoulder. “Give your friend some time. I’m sure Ariadne will come around.”
“Ariadne…” Julia takes a drink, long enough to finish off the rest of the bottle. “I don’t know what happened to her but she, well, she’s not dropping hints exactly, more like… I dunno. Slipping up? And every time she’ll hid afterwards so she doesn’t have to discuss it. I just…” Julia’s voice goes quiet, pained, as she tenses up. “I just want her to know she doesn’t have to deal with it alone.”
“It sounds to me like she isn’t.”
“I don’t think she has any family. Well. Not on good terms anyway.”
“I meant you, Sparkles.”
“I…” Julia coughs, face visibly red in the dimming daylight.
Elena cackles, that had been a shot in the dark, but it looks like her guess had been more correct than she had dared.
“W–what are you two… um – talking about?” Ariadne half-steps out of the shadow of the house, staring at the two of them, suspicious.
Julia freezes, eyes bulging. Elena hurries down the rest of the stairs to distract Ariadne and save her daughter’s dignity, a bright smile on her face. “Ariadne, honey, we were just talking about putting out a search party for you.”
“Oh.” Ariadne squints, tilting her head as she glances between the two of them. “Um. F–found me. Good job.”
Slipping a hand around her back, Elena beams at her. “I’ve still got something for you inside the house.”
“That’s – that’s not really, um…” Ariadne tries to protest as Elena quietly yet firmly Elena guides her back to the house. Ariadne manages one last look of distress in Julia’s direction before disappearing back inside.
Julia bites her lip, trying not to laugh, before following them back inside.
Elena doesn’t let go as she directs Ariadne through the kitchen, down the hallway and past the living room – still full of family – and to the spare room where everyone’s jackets have been haphazardly tossed. “I’ve got something for you.” She pats Ariadne’s shoulder before stepping away to rummage through the mess. “I had a feeling you wouldn’t be keen on hanging out in the living room.”
With a bit of effort, she bends down to pull a thin rectangular box out from under the bed, wrapped in green paper with little cartoon reindeer.
“What’s this about, mamá?” Julia steps in behind Ariadne, standing just in the doorframe.
“Just a little something I’ve been working on.” Elena presses the box into Ariadne’s hands.
“Um.” Ariadne frowns, brows furrowed at the present like she doesn’t know what to do with it. There’s a reflexive glance back towards Julia that is quickly averted.
Elena smiles, looks like she needs a nudge. “Go on, you can open it.”
“I didn’t…” Ariadne sighs, “Okay.” She steps away to the side, flipping the box over and finding the seam of the wrapping paper. With careful precision she finds the tape and slowly un-peels the paper in one intact piece.
Julia steps in, taking the paper. “Mamá, you didn’t tell me you–”
Elena laughs, “Like I could trust you to keep quiet about it?”
Julia huffs, pouting.
Putting the white box on the bed, Ariadne takes off the lid and pulls out a folded up rectangle of rainbow colored fabric. She tilts her head, feeling the threads between her fingers. “Um…?”
“It’s a serape.” Elena takes the fabric and shakes it loose, letting it unfold until it reaches halfway to the floor. “It’s like a shawl, you wear it around your shoulders.” She adjusts the fabric until the fringe points down. Ariadne goes stock still as Elena wraps it around her, pulls the edges together over her chest. “My abuelo always used to wear one of these.”
Elena steps back, frowning as she looks it over. “Hrm, maybe this one is a little big.”
“Um. N–no, this is… this is fine.” Ariadne shakes her head, hands finding the edge of the serape from underneath and pulling it tight around her shoulders. “I – um. I like it.” On impulse she steps forward, pulls Elena into a hug. “Th–thanks Tía.”
Elena pats her on the back before disentangling. “You’re very welcome dear. Thank you for coming today.”
Smiling Julia raises her eyebrows. “Wow, you really like that thing, Ari? Better treasure that hug, mamá, I can count the number of times I’ve gotten one on one hand.”
Ariadne frowns, and – pointedly staring down Julia the whole time – pulls Elena back in for a second hug.
Elena brings the pitcher of hot cocoa in from the kitchen, taking the chance to catch up with everyone as she refills mugs. By the window, Julia talks animatedly with her older cousins while. Something to do with sports.
Diego rolls his eyes, one hand to his chin while the other cradles a sleeping Gabby. “You’re crazy Jules, they’re never going to let Boosts into Baseball. They’re still freaking out about that whole steroid epidemic.”
Julia pounds her fist into her hand, an intense look on her face. “There’s no reason to bar someone if their ability doesn’t actually give them an advantage. At the very least it needs to be on a case by case basis. This blanket ban is just discrimination.”
Carla purses her lips, sitting on the side of the couch closest to the tree. “Honestly, Enhanced should be grateful it’s not worth the effort to arrest them all. They all broke the law just taking that garbage.”
Elena tsks. Politics at family time never bodes well. She glances over to the corner, Ariadne sits on the floor by the fire place. One hand pulling the serape tight, the other holding the poker and gently prodding the dying fire.
A light touch on the shoulder as she draws near. “It’s not that cold out, you don’t have to be so attentive to it, dear.”
“Lo siento. I just…” Ariadne bites her lip, doesn’t look up at Elena. “I n–need something to focus on.”
“Do you want to help me set out the desserts?”
Ariadne tilts her head, thinking it over. Putting down the poker she shrugs, “S–sure.” Standing up, the two women are stopped by a tiny hand tugging at Ariadne’s serape.
“Hi I’m Carlos!” The brown-haired beady-eyed child stares up at Ariadne expectantly. “Your hair is weird.”
“Carlos!” Elena tsks, wapping the boy lightly on the top of the head. “That’s not very nice.”
“Weird isn’t bad!” Carlos glares, puts his hands up to protect the top of his head. “My friend Nick’s hair is red and he’s really cool, he knows twenty different dinosaurs.”
“That’s… a lot of dinosaurs.” Ariadne tactfully agrees.
“Carlos is Carla’s and Jos��’s boy.” Elena leans down, smiling. “Where’s your sister, Carlos?”
He makes a face. “She’s playing with her dolls.” He points back towards the Christmas tree. He shifts his focus back towards Ariadne. “Are you really friends with tía Julia?”
“Um.” Ariadne eyes Elena, looking for help.
Carlos tugs at her serape again. “Well, are you?”
“I…. yeah.” Ariadne sighs, defeated.
“Then do you know the Rangers!?” Carlos bounces up and down on his feet, eyes bright. “Tîa won’t tell us any stories.”
Elena smiles at the two of them, “I’ll be in the kitchen if anyone needs anything.”
“W–wait no–” Ariadne watches Elena leave, a look of distress on her face. It is, Elena considers, perhaps a little cold to leave the girl alone with Carlos. But sometimes you need to give someone a little push.
And at any rate someone needs to put out all these deserts. Unwrap the brownies, get the pies out of the garage refrigerator. Put out the second round of plates and utensils. Briefly attempt tackling the pile of dirty plates before vowing to put it off for tomorrow.
Half-expecting to needing to rescue Ariadne as she returns to the living room, Elena instead finds all four children gathered around her as they sit on the floor.
“A–and then so – so I told Charge this guy, Fetch, like um, head’s up. He can mimic other people’s appearances. Like… like a doppelgänger right. And, um – Charge…” Ariadne shakes her head. “Charge has the audacity to say she’ll be fine because her look is one-of-a-kind!”
Maria sticks her hand up in the air, waving it frantically. “Was she!?”
Ariadne cracks up, shaking her head. “N–nope!” The kids giggle. “Of – of course they got caught up wrestling and then insisting the other one was the fake.” Ariadne snickers, “Like, um, some kind of bad c–cartoon.”
“How’d you know who was who?” Carlos listens, rapt.
Her smile is subtle, hands visible from under the serape against the floor. “How d–do you peel a banana?”
“Ari…” Julia cuts in, looking worried. “What are you telling these kids?”
“Tía!” Carlos screams, zeroing in on her. “How do you peel a banana?”
Julia’s eyebrows shoot up in alarm. “Ari…?”
Ariadne plunges ahead, merciless. “One Charge said, from the – the top with the stem, right? How else w–would you? But um… uh, our Charge said–”
Julia sighs, “From the bottom, like a monkey.”
Ariadne presses her lips together in a thin smile. “Like a–a–a monkey.”
The kids all dissolve into giggles.
“It’s easier to do it that way!” Julia crosses her arms, flustered. “There’s nothing wrong with doing it like that!”
“Of c–course not.” Ariadne keeps smiling, trying not to laugh.
Elena coughs, clearing her throat. “Well, if you monkeys–”
“Mamá… not you too…”
“–are still hungry, I’ve got plenty of desserts in the kitchen. Help yourselves, please. I can’t eat them all myself.”
The kids immediately make for the kitchen, their parents soon following after. Leaving Ariadne, Julia, and Elena behind. “Well,” Elena reaches a hand down, helping Ariadne up. “I see you made out okay.”
Ariadne nods. “They’re um… they’re a good audience.”
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
“That explains the mod then.”
“M–mod…? But I don’t… have any…”
“Right here.” Argent touches the back of her head, down at the top of her neck. “Only seen that twice.”
Frowning, you mirror her. Don’t feel anything strange under your skin. Just neck vertebrae if you slide your fingers down low enough.
“Both were re-genes. No idea what it is though.” She shrugs. “Some kind of box.”
It’s just as well you’re already sitting down. You feel faint. Exposed. “That must be… my um. My c–c–chip…” You’ve always known it existed. Had to have. In order to be what you are. But.. It’s not like you could ever see inside your own body. There had always been the hope, maybe, the Farm was lying. They lied about so many other things, why not this?
Guess they weren’t.
Can feel the couch shift as Julia sits down next to you. “It’s been a long day. For all of us. Angie…” Can feel her hands tense as she rubs your arm. “You still owe me some answers yourself–” Argent clicks her tongue, “but I think we should break for the night. We’ll figure out what we’re doing in the morning. When everyone isn’t as stressed.”
“Fine.” Argent stretches her arms. “But I’m not staying for your slumber party.”
“Join us for breakfast?” How can Julia switch from chewing someone out one moment and then five minutes later inviting them over for food?
She shrugs, “Maybe. We’ll see.”
“W–wait.” You push yourself to your feet. “Um. Before you go…” The parts of your suit are in a pile behind the couch, out of sight from the windows. Drop to your knees as you sort through the mess. “You, uh… really saved the whole thing, huh.”
“You really complaining?” Argent follows behind you. “Because something tells me you’re going to need this thing.”
“I’m n–not! I just… it doesn’t matter.” You shake your head as you run your hands over the left gauntlet. Stick one hand inside and twist it around the wrong way. Press in on the seal at the time as your other hand pulls up and to the left on the nanovores’ void cage. With a snapping sound it pops loose.
“Ari…” Julia looks down at you from the back of couch, wary. “What are you doing…”
You chew your cheek, feeling the weight of the tiny nondescript black box in your hands. Excellent question Julia. Another mistake probably. “Angie– uh, Argent, um… you told me before… if I was actually sorry. I’d give back what I stole. So…” You hold the void cage up to her. Sealed inside, you can feel the buzz of the nanovores. Excited. Always excited when Argent was around, another mystery that was sure to come back to bite everyone in this room unless Argent started talking.
You keep holding the box towards her. “Um…?”
Argent meets your eyes, the confusion written plain on her face. “Now? Of all the times to give this up, now is when you pick?”
“I–I–I should have done it s–sooner, no, um. I shouldn’t have done it at all, really.” You make yourself smile. “Can’t keep making excuses.”
She puts a tentative hand on the box, searching your face. “You’re just queen bee of making bad decisions, aren’t you Becker?”
“That’s – that’s me. Yeah.” You push the box into her hand, smiling now. “Julia can back me up on that one.”
Argent looks over your head at Julia. Pushes the box back into your hand. “You can give it back after this Hollow Ground nonsense is sorted.”
Are you kidding? Is she fucking with you again? “But–”
“Ari,” Julia sighs. “As much as holding on to that thing creeps me out, I don’t think we can afford to give up any tools right now.”
“Fine.” You drop your hand, get to work securing the void cage back in place. “But–but–but I want this written down on my – on my goddamn arrest record.”
You flip your phone shut and fall backwards onto Julia’s bed. Marcie was doing fine at the hospital. Keeping her overnight but should be okay to be discharged in the morning. All-in-all, she got off extremely lucky. Made sure the hospital knew who to send the bill to. It was your fault, only fair you paid for it.
“How’re you feeling, Ari?”
You turn your head to luck at Julia, already under the covers. “Y–you look as… as tired as I feel.”
“Tomorrow’s not going to be any easier.”
“It never is.” You close your eyes. Could fall asleep right here if you let yourself. “I’m… sorry about Jane. I was going to tell you.”
“You know…” Ortega laughs, bitter. “The whole time, I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘wow, she reminds me so much of Ari.’ And now I find out… Is that catfishing? Ari, did you catfish me?”
You put a hand in the air, stare up at the ceiling. “In my defense, y–you just told me. In front of Argent, no less, that you–you–you only went out with Jane because you were trying to dig up dirt on Hollow Ground.” Let your hand drop to your chest. “I think we catfished each other?”
“Part of me really wants to be pissed at you for that. I’ve got to be honest.”
“I didn’t realize how much I missed you.” Your own honesty takes you by surprise. Turn on your side so you can look Julia in the eyes. “I knew – I knew it was bad. Fucked up. The whole time. No excuses. But the… the way you looked at her. Smiled. Joked. It… god, this sounds dumb, but it made my heart hurt? I couldn’t tell you no.” Ugh. Tears? Rub at your eye, hide the evidence.
“I…” Julia doesn’t look at you at first, shaking her head. “I wish I could say I don’t understand. But… I think I do. Just this once. Ay, dios mio, Jane, that poor woman.” Julia covers her eyes in her hand. “If she comes out of that coma, I hope to god she doesn’t remember any of that. We both fucked up.”
“The… um, the scientist I hired to build my suit…”
Julia stares at you, “Yeah…?”
“We’ve been working on ideas for – for waking Jane out of her coma. It um… god, that’s a whole other story I need to tell you. Fuck.”
“Is it immediately relevant to our current crises?” You shake your head, Julia sighs. “Then let’s come back to that later.”
The two of you lay in silence for what could be minutes or hours. You shift on the bed again. “Can I ask you something?”
Julia opens her eyes, gives you a wary look. “Sure…?”
“Can I kiss you?”
She blinks, then surprise melts into a smile. She sits up straighter in bed, pats the spot next to her. “Then get your butt over here, babe.”
You shimmy up the bed. As soon as you’re alongside her, Julia pulls you in for a hug and you give her a light kiss on the lips, one she returns and deepens. The two of pull at the covers so you can slide in. Kiss her neck, ear, as you entwine arms and legs around her.
“No fair.” Julia makes a face. “Your ears are still off limits.”
You brush your hair back with a hand, feel the metal studs in your ears. Heart pounding in your ears as you smirk at her. “Only thing that is.”
short blurb for ockiss week - one more i wanna write, will i manage in time???
Serra is Angelwire's OC
Biting your lip, you glance between the computer screen and Serra, sitting at the table beside you. “You’re uh, you’re not seriously got to have pizza delivered to the doorstep of your secret base are you?”
She laughs, “I do it all the time, what’s the big deal?”
“Shouldn’t you… um, at least try to be a little more under the radar?” You frown, leaning back in your seat as you cross your arms. Serra’s penthouse suite is pretty nice, you do have to admit. Can’t really believe she gets away with this: buying her own tower-building. Suppose there’s a refuge in audacity after all.
“Ariadne.” Serra rolls her eyes at you. “There is nothing more normal and above suspicion as being too lazy to make your own dinner and getting pizza delivered. Don’t sweat it.”
“I just think you should maybe be a little more careful? That’s all? What if like, someone tries to sneak in?”
“What do you want as a topping?”
“Like, imagine, falling victim to the classic pizza delivery impersonation scheme? How embarrassing that would be? That’s the – the kind of risk you're taking here. Normalizing pizza guys.”
“Pineapple then? That sound good to you?”
“You’ll never live it down. The Rangers will be at your doorstep, and you’ll call me, and say, hey Ari, help me out, the Rangers snuck into my secret base disguised as pizza delivery people. And what will I say? I’ll say I told you so. I warned you, but did you listen?”
“Ari.” A hand grabs your shoulder and you almost jump out of your seat. Serra sighs, shaking her head. “Ari, relax.”
You blink. “H–how am I supposed to relax? Everything could – could fall apart at a moment’s notice. And you’re just – just – just ordering pizza like nothing’s wrong and–”
Something soft and warm brushes your forehead and you freeze up, eyes wide as Serra pulls back away from you. A bashful smile on her face. “Hey, it’ll be fine. Okay?”
“Trust me on this.” She winks and pats your shoulder. “So, pineapple pizza, right?”
“Wait – what?”
You scramble in your seat, trying to push Serra away from the computer as she laughs. “H–h–hey we didn’t agree on that!”
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: Sidestep & Original Female Character (Fallen Hero)
Characters: Sidestep (Fallen Hero), Original Female Character(s), Original Male Character(s), Anathema (Fallen Hero), Steel (Fallen Hero)
Additional Tags: Gender Identity, Trans Character, Trans Female Character, Transitioning, Drug Addiction, Drug Withdrawal, Murder, Run Away, Found Family, Superheroes, POV Second Person, POV Female Character, Anxiety, Speech Disorders
Series: Part 1 of Aria
A new life, a new identity, this is your chance to finally be yourself. Assuming you can even figure out who that is. Unfortunately you have only a limited supply of the drug that makes living your specific 'gifts' bearable, and given who exactly you're running from it's absolutely critical you keep a low profile.
Don't make friends.
Don't be memorable.
Don't be something you're not.
Oh boy. Okay, so, All through Nanowrimo (Nov 2019) I was itching to go back and revisit/revise the very first fic I wrote for this series now that I have some idea of what I was doing.
So... I did that.
And...it grew in size. Swallowing the next three fics chronologically in order to make a nice origin story arc. So, here we go. So. Even though this is all sort of old stuff, there's at least something like 4k words worth of new material and scenes mixed in here. Probably more because of cuts and rewrites. As of time of writing there's at least one critical scene that is now missing that I need to write as a new fic and insert in the series at the appropriate point. So... that's cool. Look forward to that, I guess.
I’m with you
Have a little Sidestep & Sidestep AU while I work on other projects!!
Serra is [Angelwire’s] Sidestep OC over from Ao3! ~1.6k words [Ao3]
“Couldn’t you have dressed a little more… down to earth?” You try not to stare at Serra’s electric blue suit as the two of you make your way through the crowd at the grand re-reopening Gala.
Serra rolls a lazy eye your direction, “Or… you could have dressed a little nicer.”
You huff, crossing your arms under your shawl. “This is nice!”
“You look like somebody’s grandmother.”
You gasp, turning to punch your companion in the shoulder as she cackles. Serra lets you, then makes a show of rubbing where you hit. “Asshole.”
“Language!” Serra tsks, still grinning.
You make a fist and wap her again, a little more softly this time. “We should have co-ordinated this better,” you hiss under your breath. “Look at these people. We stick out like a sore thumb.”
Serra shakes her head, grinning widely as she swipes a cocktail off the tray of a passing server. The man doesn’t even notice the two of you there as you walk by. “Two talented gals like us? We’ll be in and out before anyone even notices.”
“God, I hope you’re right.”
“It was your idea to do it this way. Don’t get cold feet on me now.”
“I know… I just…” You sigh, try to press out the buzz of self-absorbed thoughts encapsulating the both of you. Take a breath. Hold it. Exhale. “Fuck it. Let’s get this over with.” You lean back against the wall, closing your eyes. “G–give me some breathing room to work with?”
“Sure.” Serra takes another sip from her cocktail as you feel her telepathic presence reach out to you. A sensation of kaleidoscopic colors not quite touching your thoughts but skimming around the shape of them. Interceding between you and the buzz of the crowd, dropping it away to nothing.
With a clear head you stretch your awareness back out past Serra’s wall, flitting from mind to mind, one at a time. Somewhere in this crowd the Senator is schmoozing with the guests. Networking, fundraising, however you want to disguise it. The only question is where?
Can feel the echo of that same question from Serra and you shake your head. Still looking.
A single senator snared in your web doesn’t change the picture much, but it’ll be a start. Open the doors to bigger fish. If you and Serra are going to take down the Farm, then you need to make sure the dumb bastards don’t just rebuild the whole thing afterwards.
A note snags at your awareness and you shift attention. There we go: Mrs. Diane Forrester herself. This is her sixth term as Senator. Getting her on your side could open a lot of doors indeed. She’s in a reading room, third floor. Talking with a collection of businessmen. You prod at Serra’s awareness, direct it upwards.
Serra’s focus shifts, the chatter of the crowd filtering back in around you as she withdraws her shield to confirm the location herself.
You put a hand to your temple, rubbing the skin. “Got it?”
Serra nods. “Got it.”
“Great.” You take a breath, chewing at the side of your cheek. “Just – just like we, uh, we practiced then.”
Serra smirks, raising her cocktail towards you before finishing it off.
You head off first. One flight of stairs, then the next. Mrs. Forrester’s location a pull in the back of your head, guiding you through maze of a mansion. God you hate these stuffy Hollywood wannabes. The film industry in Los Diablos may be a shadow of its former self, but the neighborhood is still full of new money eager to have some of the old shine rub off on them.
Silently you glide into the reading room with the target. Mrs. Forrester is sharing some joke with a man dressed up like 1920s oil tycoon. Everyone in the room politely laughs, waiting for their turn to extract influence.
You try to catch the moment, spin it into a kind of ear worm playing on repeat through everyone’s heads. And then, one by one, pare the crowd down. Prodding the onlookers with reminders about pressing business elsewhere. Meetings, family, restrooms. A headache starting to press down between your eyes as you finally, carefully, pry mr. oil tycoon away. Watch him walk past you with a dazed expression.
Only Mrs. Forrester remains, telling her joke to a now empty room, pausing for the laugh that doesn’t come and looping back into the joke.
Fuck. This is why you need Serra. Someone fresh-faced to finish the second half the job.
Right on cue, she strolls in, a fresh cocktail in hand. She winks at you as she passes by, one hand at the buttons of her suit jacket. Putting on all the airs of one of the elite.
“Diane! So glad we could talk!” Serra smiles, holding out a hand to the senator.
She blinks, shaking her head with a slight twitch as you let go of her mind. “Oh? Hello,” Mrs. Forrester smiles broadly back at Serra, taking her hand in a firm shake. Looking your partner in crime up and down. “I don’t believe we’ve met before…?”
“Jackson, of Mutual Financial Investment.” With a smooth flick of her wrist, a business card appears in Serra’s fingers. As the two shake, Serra presses it into Forrester’s hand. “But please, honey, you can call me Linda.” Serra winks. “I’ve been a big supporter of your work in conservation on Capital Hill for years.”
“Well, Linda, I deeply appreciate your support.” Forrester smiles along. Rule number one of schmoozing, never admit ignorance when someone with money comes knocking. “It’s been a hard fight.”
Serra nods sagely. “This push to repeal the wildlife protection act… horrid.”
“I agree completely.”
“And then that work they’ve been doing on the border with Nevada.” Serra sighs dramatically shaking her head. “It’s a sin.”
“I…” Forrester, falters, at a lost as to what Serra’s talking about. You reach in, give her a push. “You’re right of course.”
“So you agree?” Serra brightens up. “Sometimes I wonder if anyone in that swamp over there cares about the big picture anymore.”
“That’s why I have these gatherings, keeps me connected to my constituency.”
You have to cover your mouth to not burst out laughing at that one.
“And it’s good that you do!” Serra raises her cocktail towards Forrester, and then her expression darkens. “Especially when it comes to serious fucking issues like this – excuse my French.”
“The stuff they’re doing out there? Where they think no one’s watching?”
What is Serra doing? This isn’t part of the plan. You give her a mental prod. She doesn’t seem to acknowledge it.
The Senator laughs, nervous. “Sounds serious.”
“It’s a crime.” Serra presses. “The kind that makes you wish hell was real.” Her grip on her cocktail glass tightens. You grit your your teeth. She’s laying it on too thick. It’s not like you don’t get it. Not like you don’t want to see everyone in that damn complex dead. But she insisted she could keep her cool about this.
“I’ll… have my people look into it” Forrester smiles, visibly unnerved.
Okay, time to step in before things get messy. You approach the pair from the side, coughing to clear your throat. “Hey, uh, Ja– Ms. Jackson, we should, uh, we should get going.”
Serra doesn’t look at you, still focused on the Senator. “We’re not finished yet.”
“N–no, we uh, we are.” You smile apologetically at Forrester. “S–sorry to um, to steal her away so soon.”
“That’s… quite alright.”
You take Serra’s arm, her body stiffening under your touch. “You uh, you have our contact info if – if you need more information.” You pull at Serra. “Com’on, we’ve monopolized enough of the Senator’s time.”
The salt air blows against your face. You take a deep breath, letting the air fill your lungs before reluctantly letting it go. “Well. That… didn’t go terribly.”
Serra frowns, avoiding your gaze. Hands on the guard rail, overlooking the bay. “If you say so.”
“I do.” You nod. “You… uh, you got a little intense there at the end. But I think it worked.”
“You said. I just…”
Serra shakes her head. “It’s nothing.”
“Well now I know it’s – uh, it’s something.”
“Shut up!” Serra laughs, jabbing you in the arm. “You really think she’ll actually look into it like she said?”
“Who knows?” You fiddle with your sunglasses against your face, frowning at the waves breaking against the rocks below. “We’ll keep working both angles. Find a crack big enough to plunge a dagger in.”
“But true.” You sigh, “We’ve got to build a serious power base if this is going to happen. Might as well try whatever ideas we can come up with.”
That gets Serra to look at you, one eyebrow raised. “So you reconsidered? About my plan?”
She means removing the Rangers from the equation.
“I…” You wince, avoid her eyes. “Well. We – we can’t go back anyway.”
“I can’t go back. But you…”
“No.” You push back against inquisitive thoughts. Shake your head. “Sidestep is dead. And I… without you I’d still be… no. I’m with you on this to the end.”
“Hey,” Serra jostles you out of your thoughts. “How about we head back to my place, talk the next steps over pizza?”
You blink. “My workshop is closer.”
“Yeah, but…” Serra waves the suggestion away. “My place is a lot nicer than yours.”
“Wow.” You laugh, “Rude.”
Serra laughs too. “It’s not rude, it’s the truth.”
“Careful,” You shake your head, following along as Serra sets off away down the boardwalk. “You’re uh, you’re starting to sound like the assholes at that party.”
She shakes her head, lips pressed together in a thin smile as she winks at you. “All part of the camouflage.”
“Yeah. I’m sure the penthouse apartment doesn’t hurt.”
“It sure doesn’t.”
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
Series: Part 89 of Aria
Daniel watches you from a chair on the other end of the room. Fingers knit together, chin resting on top. No sunshine today. Stormy weather.
“So.” Daniel turns the words over in his mind, like you just handed him barbed wire. All the other Rangers know now. Might as well pull off the bandage now. “You’re… Adrestia.”
You watch the door. “Y–yeah.”
“Why?” His voice is pitched. Desperate. Looking for some sort of easy out. An explanation. Anything. It makes your heart hurt.
Your hand traces the tattoo patterns on your leg, mindful of the bandage wrapped around your thigh. “I’m s–sorry.”
“Ariadne… I looked up to you.”
“I… um. I r–really am sorry. About… about the leg.”
[read the rest on ao3!]
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
have you and lose you
You know it’s a good plan when all three of you hate different parts of it. Take a deep breath as you pull your shawl over your shoulders. A little heavier than it used to be. Cutting your cape down to size and stitching it to underside had taken the better part of a night. It had better been worth it. Ran your hands through your hair, try to fluff it out a little further. Finally broke down and let Julia take a comb and a pair of scissors to it. Would be nice to think you look better than you ever had in your life.
Might not get another chance for it.
Turn your head as Julia steps into the hallway behind you. “What do you um, think Sparkles?”
She grins, takes hold of your shoulders and lands a quick peck on your nose. “Now you’re perfect.”
You push her away, trying not to grin or giggle. “Oh, f–f–fuck off.” Hand on the doorknob, maybe a little too tight. Exhale. “Alright. S–showtime.”
Julia follows you out into the hallway, locking the door shut behind her. “You’re sure about this?”
“C–course I’m sure.” You hunch your shoulders, don’t turn to look at her. “There – there aren’t really any other, um, options.”
Julia sighs. “You already know what I’m going to say, right?”
Your laugh is sharp and bitter as you round the corner of the stairs. “Y–you’d like that. Wouldn’t you? Keep – keep things simple. It’s not going to work like that.”
“You know that’s not what I’m worried about.”
“Well, it’s sure not me y–y–you’re worried about.” You spit back. Glare at the door attendant as the two of you pass. She has the grace to look away. “You’ve – you’ve been lying to me since the moment we ever met.”
“Ari…” Julia hisses air through her teeth, quickening her pace to match yours. “It’s not like that. I told you. I just–”
You spin on your heel to glare at her as the two of you step out into the street. “All you – you f–f–fucking care about is your little vendetta!” You keep walking backwards, counting on your telepathy to warn you of obstacles.
“I was just trying to do my job, Ari!” Julia holds a fist to her chest, furrowing her brow. “And it’s not like you’ve been eager to fill me in either.”
“Your job.” You say, voice flat. “Well, you can go do your job–” you gesture in the rough direction of the Rangers HQ “–while I go do mine. Except, oh wait.” Throw your hands in the air. “I don’t have one anymore! Good j–j–job there, buddy!”
“Ari,” Julia’s voice is strained. “Please. Don’t be like this.”
“Don’t be like this?” You make a face, raising your voice. “What, did you think that–that-that you could say ‘I love you’ and I’d be better? I’d be okay?” You frown, have to take a moment to blink the tears out of eyes. Shit. Getting a little too real. Fold your arms under your shawl. “I’m never going to–to–to not ‘be like this’ Julia. Better get used to it.”
“You… know I wasn’t lying, right?”
“You – you lied about everything else. You don’t – you don’t c–care about me. You think I–I–I can’t see that? All you f–f–fucking care about is getting back at Adrestia for humiliating you.”
The two of you slow to a stop. Julia looking absolutely wretched. Fuck. It hurts to see. It takes everything in you to not break. To stand there. To not cross the distance between the two of you. You hiss, turn your head to stare at the street. Easier than seeing her face. “Don’t – don’t call me.”
Pull your shawl tight and you hurriedly turn away. Cross the street at the intersection. Behind you, Julia yells your name. Fucking hell. Didn’t think this part was going to be so hard. What happened to not needing anybody? To knowing the world was your enemy?
Gotta stay focused. Get back to the apartment, figure out what you can keep from both of them and then shred the rest. Then assess the damage at the shop. Get all your ducks in order for tonight’s date with the devil.
A curious presence prods at the back of your head. You pat your purse, bulky from its added cargo. The Rat-King tries to prod your attention. Block behind you. A little too interested. You bite your lip, shaking your head.
Damn well better have been interested.
i’m on your side
Pull your shawl tight around you, fingers worrying the fringe as you stare up at the windows. Socialite club or fancy booze bar, shouldn’t be surprised that the Parkfield was a criminal front. Too-green plants hanging from spotlit windows. The whole building built up to rise back and off the street. Bet that top floor there has a great view of the ocean. This whole part of town is full of new money. The insecure, eager to flaunt someone else’s fortune.
Never mind the land was dirt cheap earthquake rubble before.
No armor, the invitation said. They already know who you are, somehow. That’s still a leak you need to find and plug. Maybe tonight’s reconnaissance will give some clues. If Hollow Ground wanted you dead, you’d already be dead. So they must want something from you. Figure out what it is and you can hopefully play the situation to your own advantage. If you can find out where the Regenerator disappeared to, even better.
Cross the threshold, can feel the faint buzz of the dampeners below. No doubt that’s where you need to go. Not strong enough yet to keep you from turning away the few curious eyes as you step inside. You’ve got time before doomsday, but can’t exactly take a tour of the premises without looking suspicious so… you grab a seat at the bar.
Flag down the bartender, “Hey, can I get a Sprite?” Have to begrudgingly admit, the man isn’t half bad looking. Think Hollow Ground staffs their places for looks?
The bartender slides towards you, “Gin and tonic?”
You shake your head, “Just the soda. No alcohol.” Need to keep your head clear.
You get a look of disgust until you put down a twenty. “Coming right up, miss.”
Take the glass in your right hand and nurse your drink. Cross your legs at the knee and lean against the bar. Bounce one heel on the edge of your foot as you think. Tried to go with something classy but easy enough to kick off if trouble goes down.
Was hoping to save this dress for whatever Julia’s special date idea was going to be: deep blue with stars, full-length sleeves that turn sheer and billow out below the elbow. An infinity symbol broach fastens the two halves of your shawl at the collarbone. Purse slung over your neck underneath.
Maybe not the most sensible outfit, but it had its advantages. The Rat-King coils around your mind protectively, chittering back to you the song you’ve got running through your head. Taking them along is a risk. But so was this whole damn operation.
Flit from head to head piecing together the floor plan. Three floors. Staggered. Cellar bar below, with billiards and darts. Some kind of back room in the cellar – maybe. The chaff from the dampeners is strongest in that direction. Who or whatever is down there, who knows.
Should you just… go down there now? A cold dread coils in your gut. There was a reason you went with Sprite. Chew at the inside of your cheek. Damn it Chickadee, don’t catch nerves now.
“Ari, you there?” A tiny voice, barely audible crackles in your ear. You put a hand to the side of your head, playing with your hair as you cup the sound.
“Damnit.” You hiss into your glass. “I–I–I said no–”
“Contact. Yeah. Just checking audio.” There’s a pause. Can imagine Julia rubbing at her neck. “Argent snuck a pass by this afternoon. That bottom level is shielded. I won’t be able to hear you.”
Can’t say you’re surprised. Be more surprised if that wasn’t the case. You take a drink, keep the glass at your lips. “T–trust me.”
“I’m a professional.” You click the earpiece off, palming it in your hand. Fair’s fair. If she’s not going respect your conditions, you’re not going to have her yammering in your ear. Absolutely not the time to get distracted.
Speaking of which, it’s almost nine.
You down the rest of your drink and push off away from the bar. Slip the earpiece in your purse as you find the stairs down. Let’s see the what the atrium to hell looks like, hrm?
Nothing much it turns out. Grey cement walls, stained wood bar built into one corner. A door marked ‘private’ behind the bar. That’s the source of the dampeners, you’re certain of it.
A few curious eyes flicker your direction and then away again. The buzz in the back of your head is louder now. The Rat-King buffers you against it, like a pair of earmuffs. But everyone’s thoughts are rendered fuzzy, difficult to grasp onto.
They’re mostly older than the crowd upstairs. More dressed-down. Bet two to one they’re all armed.
Can feel a queer kind of calm settle into your shoulders. You’re well over the ledge at this point. Free-fall? Terminal velocity. Maybe. Remember: if Hollow Ground wanted you dead, you wouldn’t be here.
Taking a seat at the bar here and it’s a little more difficult to control your fidgeting. The bartender, a woman in a tight fitting black dress approaches. Smile politely.
She smiles back, clasps her hands in front of her. “Can I help you?”
Shake your head, “J–just waiting for a meeting. Was told to – to wait down here.”
A moment of confusion is replaced with a flash of clarity too quick to fully read. “Of course.” The woman steps back from the bar, motioning you towards her. Didn’t realize how short she was until your were standing again. Weird feeling of vertigo to that. The petite woman pushes back the door marked ‘private, gesturing you in. “Right this way.”
You hold your breath, let it out. “Thanks.”
You step inside the passage way, the door swinging shut behind you. Can’t say you care for the paint job. A soft red, hardwood floor. No paintings. At a guess the hallway takes you perpendicular along the length of the cellar bar, a door at the far end on the opposite wall. Mirrored room on the other end?
This hallway would be easy to lock down if there was trouble.
Easy to clean too.
Hesitate with your hand on the door out. What’ll be on the other side? Hollow Ground? A machine gun? Can feel the Rat-King in the back of your head, still there but faint. Without your suit’s set-up the mental link isn’t as strong enough to hold under the blanket hum of the dampeners. But it’s better than nothing. You’re not going in there alone.
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: Ortega/Sidestep (Fallen Hero), Anathema & Sidestep (Fallen Hero)
Characters: Sidestep (Fallen Hero), Ortega (Fallen Hero), Anathema (Fallen Hero), Psychopathor (Fallen Hero), Original Male Character(s)
Additional Tags: Transitioning, Superheroes, Female Friendship, Secret Crush, Crime Fighting, Names, First Aid, Epilepsy, POV Second Person, POV Female Character, Trans Character, Trans Female Character
Series: Part 9 of Aria
You don't have Chelsea's apartment to come home to every night any more. Unfortunately, finding a new home is proving... problematic. Balancing a civilian life and a life fighting crime is a greater challenge than you had anticipated.
Is it really something you can do, all on your own?
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
smut! porn without plot, whatever you want to call it. this took like a week to write. now if you’ll excuse me i’m going to go walk into the sea
Heart pounding in your ears, throat, as she pushes you down on the bed. Gently, like she’s afraid of hurting you. You smirk up at Julia, as much to mask the butterflies in your chest as anything. “Who’s the – the soft touch n–now, Sparkles?”
Julia bites her lip, fingers brushing across your skin. Little lingering trails that leave something warm pulsing in your core. Tracing scars, curving this way or that around the shape of your body. “It’s…” She pulls her eyes away, meets yours. “I can trace how your first aid skills got better over the years.”
Your eyes widen, “O–oh yeah?”
“I wish you’d have let me take you to a doctor.” There’s a soft pain in her voice as her right hand finds your arm, thumbs at the scars criss-crossing down. “Just once.”
[Read the rest on ao3]
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
Pull your shawl tight around your shoulders as you power walk down the street. The sun hangs low in the sky at your back, partially blocked by high-rises and skyscrapers. The street crowd full of people leaving work, looking to eat out, get drunk. Being alive, in short.
You see her before she sees you. Sitting on a bench just outside the bakery, a brown paper bag in her hands. That’s worrisome. Thought you’d at least beat Argent here. If only you hadn’t gotten held up at 5th and Judy. The sweater and yoga pants conflict with the wide-brimmed straw hat.
“Agr–” you flinch, “A–angie!” Raise your hand to catch her attention. Not an ideal thing to have but better then having her think you’re sneaking up on her.
See the way her shoulders tense before she, more casually, lifts her head, turns it in your direction. Finishes eating whatever was in her hand. Cupcake? “Becker.” She says once you’re closer.
“S–sorry to… to um, keep you waiting.” You adjust your sunglasses. Glance around the area. “Is… Is Julia not here yet either?”
She snorts, rolling her eyes. “Ortega is never on time.”
“That’s…” You force a laugh. “That’s true…”
There’s an awkward moment where Argent glances between the paper bag in her lap and you. With a jerk of her arm, she motions backwards towards the bakery. “You like their cupcakes?”
“Huh? Oh!” Your eyes widen. “Oh I love theirs! They do–do–do these little chocolate ones with chips baked in and they’re like half-melted and they’re just so–so–so soft and warm and–“
“Well. Too bad somebody just bought out the last three then.”
“Oh.” Chew the inside of your cheek, look away.
“Oh come on. You look like a wet cat.” Argent pulls something out of her bag, and lobs it at you.
Catch in your hands and turn over. A chocolate cupcake? “Oh.” Have to push up your sunglasses to rub at something in your eye. “Um. Thanks.”
“It’s just a cupcake.”
“Yeah. I – I know.”
Keep your distance from Argent, peel the wrapper and – it’s still warm. Wow.
“I don’t get you.” Freeze up, mouth full of cupcake and look over to Argent. Sitting on the bench. Glaring.
Swallow the mouthful first. “S–sorry?”
“Why did you…”
You look away first. “I– I told you. I was… was wrong. Mixed up. I – I told myself, that I… didn’t care, but…” You go silent. There’s no way to explain, even trying to justify it now feels wrong. Argent doesn’t respond. Lost in her own thoughts. Ones you block out of your head. It’s the best you can do for her right now. Hopefully the regenerator works as planned. Then Argent can get… whatever it is she needs from it.
In the distance there’s the wail of police cars. City never rests. Damn, when is Julia getting here?
Her voice, on cue: “Sorry for making you two wait!” Julia Ortega jogging down the street. Share a quick hug with her and she nods to Argent. “You two weren’t waiting long, were you?”
Argent rises up from the bench, tosses another cupcake from the paper bag to Julia. “Your cupcake got cold.”
Julia catches it in one hand, narrow miss. “Oh? Oh! Thanks, Angie. That’s really nice of you.”
The silver woman shrugs, crumbles the bag in her hands and lobs it underhand into the trash. “So where are we headed? I’m sick of waiting.”
Here we go. Another layer to peel back. You steady your breathing, hold on to Julia’s hand as you look at both their faces in turn. “We’re… we’re going to my secret base.”
Julia pauses, cupcake half in her mouth. She lowers her hand. “Really? You’re sure?”
Argent crosses her arms, looking straight at Julia. “What, you don’t already know where it is?”
Can feel the tension in your gut as you squeeze her hand. “I’ve never told anyone.”
Argent doesn’t break eye contact with Julia. “That’s not what I asked.”
Huh? You glance at Julia. She doesn’t meet your eyes.
“Angie… is now really the time?”
Argent steps towards the two of you, an accusatory finger leveled at Julia. “Oh? And when would be a better time?”
But why does Argent care?
You step in front of Julia, look Argent in the face. “I already know Julia was… was investigating me.” Argent stops. Looks at you. Can feel the confusion radiating off of her. “I was… acting pretty weird.” You admit. “Of course she would be.”
Argent stares at you. Stares through you. “You already know.”
“And you’re… fine with that?”
Argent lets her hand drop. Then throws her arms up in the air with an inarticulate cry of frustration. “I don’t get either one of you.”
Share a look with Julia. She shrugs back at you, “Ari and I already talked through this, Angie.” Boy did you. Not sure you’ll forget that night for the rest of life. However long that ends up being.
You look back at Argent, frowning. “Why do you even – why do you even care?”
Argent puts a hand to her face, dragging it down. Sighs. Crosses her arms again. “Even a prick like you, Becker, doesn’t deserve to be used.”
“Thanks… I think?” You take Julia’s hand again. “Come on. Let’s get going. It’s not a long walk but… it is a walk.”
The three of you walk in an awkward silence. Get the distinct impression that Argent can’t decide whether to walk with her hands shoved in her pants pockets or to stick with her arms crossed. Willing passer-by to ignore you as you move down the street is so old-hat at this point you can usually do it without thinking. Trying to extend that courtesy to Julia and especially to Argent feels weird. Like straining a muscle. If either one of them notice anything different they don’t say anything.
What did it even mean that Argent was so caught up in making sure Julia wasn’t using you? Even if she was… could anyone really say you hadn’t brought it down on yourself?
At the same time… they way Julia reacted. Is there something more she… hasn’t told you yet? If Julia hasn’t told you something, she probably has a good reason for it. As opposed to you, who still has a whole bucket list of things to come clean about as both of your abilities to cope allow. Maybe it’s something she’s just waiting for the right time to say. That makes more sense.
Still… maybe you should ask, when the two of you are alone some time…
“Merida,” Julia shakes her head. “Smells an awful lot like smoke out this way.”
You laugh, “Smog. Lots of – lots of factories out this side. Cheap land.”
“No…” Argent pulls up alongside the two fo you, pointing a hand towards the skyline. “I think that’s a fire.”
Follow the angle of where Argent is pointing, it’s hard to see again the grey-lit sky but… Vertigo seizes you. “F–f–fuck.” Pull your hand free from Julia’s and take off running.
Glowing orange tongues of fire escape out broken windows, licking the flames along the roof. The repair shop is on fire. As Julia catches up, she grabs your shoulders, holding you up.
Argent glowers at the blaze, hands tense at her side as if she was expecting to grapple with the fire. “Sucks for whoever works here.”
“Me.” You get out. “Th–this is – was the base.” Julia pulls you against her as you stretch out with your talent. Marcie isn’t caught inside is she? Pick up something else. “The Rat-King!”
Julia furrows her brow. “The… what?”
You pull out of her grip, “I’ve got to get them out of there!” Circle around the back. Hope you’re not too late. First the Rat-King, then see whatever else you can salvage. You’re not giving up on this now. Not when you’ve come this close.
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén
If you were anyone else, after that little stunt, you’d be in a hospital under observation. Instead, you’re laid out on Julia’s couch. Julia herself is pacing in front of the TV while in the corner Argent glowers at both of you, arms crossed.
The Rat-King rests in your purse on the kitchen table. Their account had been less helpful than you hoped. Someone broke into the base, stole the regenerator and set the place on fire? No shit, you don’t say? For now, you can faintly feel them in the back of your head, spreading out, taking count of the building. Keeping watch for trouble.
Can’t keep putting this off.
“Um.” You cough against the back of your hand. “I need to–”
“Ari,” Julia interrupts and turns to you, rubbing at the back of her neck. “I’ve gotta come clean about something.
Argent snorts, blowing hair away from her face. “Oh, this’ll be good.”
Push yourself up on the couch. Sinking feeling in your gut, like sliding into a bed of knives. “Julia…?”
“I’ve… I’ve known for awhile now. Well, no, I didn’t know.” Julia grimaces, avoids your face. “But I was pretty sure.”
“Sure of what?” This isn’t real. This isn’t happening. Always knew everything was going to fall apart eventually, but like this? “Julia, sure of what?”
“I think Hollow Ground has her sights on you. At the very least since you and–” Julia cranes her neck to shoot a glare at Argent, “–Angie crashed her little auction party.”
“But it–it–it’s been weeks. Like a – a month. Why now?”
“You really need to ask?” Argent shakes her head.
“But – I’ve– I would know. The amount of–of–of trouble I go to make sure I’m not being followed…” You push down on the couch, trying to hold yourself up. “I’ve got cameras for the base… both inside the building and–and–and ringing outside. Hidden cameras. I’ve got military-grade proximity sensors… fuck, Julia, I even bugged the drainage pipes. No one gets in a five block radius of th–th–that place without me knowing about it.”
A thoughtful expression passes over Julia’s face. “Where do you keep the records?”
“In the… in the base.”
“Fat lot of good that does us.” Argent shakes her head. “What do you think the odds are something like that survived the fire?”
“I’m sorry Ari.” Julia collapses at the other end of the couch. “I should have told you something was up.” She shrugs, helpless. “I didn’t want to worry you. I thought, maybe Hollow Ground was just keeping tabs on a potential threat. And I hoped… if you kept your head down, and stayed out of trouble you wouldn’t be of interest anymore and everything would be fine. If I had known you were actively working on something you stole from her…”
“I should have told you sooner…” Swallow hard, fighting back nausea. You could be mad at her, but what’s the point? Ultimately you put yourself in this situation. The only idiot here is you. Thinking anything could ever be okay…
Julia puts a hand on your foot. An awkward attempt at reassurance. “I think you should stay here tonight.”
Not that you’d object to Julia’s presence after today, but… “…why?”
“Another thing I had been hoping I was wrong about. Ari… the reason why you didn’t notice anything weird is because you’ve been tailed from the day you moved into that apartment of yours.”
You stare at her.
Julia, one, knows where you live. Two, knows how long you’ve lived there, and three, is suggesting Los Diablos’s mythical criminal kingpin has known who you were before you even debuted.
Instead of any of that, all you manage to ask is is; “What.”
Julia doesn’t let go of your foot but won’t turn to look at you. “Do you remember Jane, that woman I uh… briefly dated?”
Stare down at your legs, under the skirt. This conversation can’t be about to happen. Not like this. This isn’t real. It’s some bizarre dream.
“Well…” Julia rubs at the back of her neck. “I was… well, undercover? Sort of? Jane’s one of Hollow Ground’s agents. She’s got the apartment directly under yours.”
“…are you kidding–”
“At first… after I saw you at the diner and you talked about being in trouble with some powerful people… I thought maybe you were being forced to work for Hollow Ground. But then after, well…” Julia glances at Argent, “the auction and then you telling the truth… you had kind of trashed that whole theory. But it’s the most likely option left.”
You can’t stop yourself. You start laughing. Undercover your ass. Was that kiss undercover too?
“Ari…?” Julia finally turns to you, uncomprehending.
Argent shakes her head. “She’s finally lost it.”
Have to force yourself to stop. Hand to your side, ribs hurt. Wipe tears from your eyes. “Julia… Julia mi hermosa idiota…” The indigent expression on Julia’s face almost gets you going again. “I’m– I’m sorry. I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t be laughing. This is awful really.”
“I should have told you sooner, Ari. I’m sorry.” Her hands tighten into fists, stray sparks crawling up her arms. “I can’t believe I underestimated how dangerous–”
“No, not that,” You have Julia’s concerned attention, wipe at your eyes again. “God. Fuck. How do I explain this. Okay. Um. Jane’s on my side.”
Now it’s Argent’s turn to laugh. A sharp hyena sound, accompanied by her slapping her leg.
Julia stares at you. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Do–do–do you remember the Gala? W–when Jane wouldn’t, um – wake up until… hours later, in the hospital?” It feels like you’re staring over another ledge. Both Julia and Argent focused on you now.
“…Ariadne, what are you saying?” Julia looks at you, lost. Argent’s grin is all teeth.
“Jane’s um… Jane’s comatose.” When no one says anything you press on, staring down at your legs rather than face either one of them. “I… rescued her from a hospital right before they were going to break her down for parts. Um.”
“Ari…” Julia’s voice is strained, “I don’t know if you’ve ever actually meet Jane, but I can assure you, she is very much not in a coma.”
Your grin feels manic. How is this the thing that gets pushback? After everything you’ve done and said? This is the line too far? “You’re, um. You’re right – kind of. Jane isn’t… isn’t comatose while…”
Argent growls. “While you’re possessing her.”
“Thought you told me you weren’t doing that anymore.” Knives in her voice.
“Jane’s situation is… complicated.” You can’t look. Can’t see her face. Either one. Disappointment. Anger. Confusion. Have to pull a song tight against everything, make space in your own head again.
Outside of your head, there’s only silence. You’d been trying to work yourself up to this revelation a little more gently. All there is from Julia is static. What is she thinking? You’ll never know.
Pull your legs up to your chest. “Um. S–sorry.” A pinching twist in the gut as you lift your head to look Ortega in the face. Can see her mouth something under her breath, fingers twitching.
Finally, finally, Julia holds up a finger. “Okay. Let’s um. Let's put a pin in that for now. I… I’m… – madre de Dios – I think I’m going to need some time to process all that. I think. So…” She scrunches up her face in a struggle between confusion and desperation. “Let’s just… stay focused on the immediate problem. If Jane isn’t the leak then who is…?”
Argent covers her mouth, looking absolutely done. “Is there any other way these guys could have figured out where you holed up with the Regenerator?”
“Um..” You frown. Looks like, the conversation has finally circled around back to what you had originally wanted off your chest. “I’d been noticing some weird things lately but I… I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to think about it any more.”
Argent steps away from the wall, staring down at you as she drums her fingers on the TV. “That why you didn’t mention your little fight with that sniper the other day?”
“I… wait – you know about that…?”
She nods, doesn’t stop drumming. “You didn’t seriously think Herald and I would forget about a random gunshot in the middle of everything did you? We checked the tapes.”
“He… knew who I – I was.” Wrap your arms around your legs, pressing tight. “And I mean he–he–he knew who, um, who Adrestia was.”
“Mierda, you’re sure?” Julia pulls closer to you. Suppose you should be grateful if the puppet bit hasn’t made her hate you completely.
Argent stares you down. “What did you do with the gun?”
“The… gun?” You frown, trying to think back. It feels like ages ago already. “Oh. Um. I – I wasn’t sure what do with it so… I, um, I took it back to… my base for… safe keeping… fuck.” You pound your fist against your leg. “F–f–f–f–fucking – goddamnit shit!”
You bring your fist down on your leg a second time. The third time, Julia catches your hand. “Ari, Ari, chill out, okay? That’s not helping.”
“You don’t– fuck why didn’t I see it. Why would this random guy just… decide to try and shoot Herald? Daniel was never the target. Fuck.” You’re an idiot and it almost got innocent people killed. “He– he knew who I was. The whole fight… Fuck.”
“Well, that was stupid.”
“Angie!” Julia looks sharply at her.
She crosses her arms, leans over, not backing down. “It was. And I’m stupid for thinking I could trust a psychopathic telepath that gets their rocks off puppeteering people.” You press your knees tighter against your chest. Argent doesn’t let up. “Why did I ever think I could trust you, Becker? This is just a fucking game to you isn’t it.”
Julia stands up off the couch, position herself between the two of you. “Angie, that is enough.”
“I don’t even know why she wanted the damn thing so bad.” Argent points past Julia at you. “If you really cared about anything more then just getting your dumb ass killed you would have been more careful!”
“And why do you even want this thing so bad?” Julia stares Argent down, hands on her hips. “Why don’t we talk about the fact you snuck into a criminal auction to steal illegal technology and never thought to mention this little fact to literally anybody else on your team?”
You shift around on the couch, plant your feet on the floor. “Argent’s right.”
She blinks. “I am?” The frown quickly returns. “Of course I am.”
“I got lax. I… I wanted to believe everything was going to be okay…” You rub at your eyes. They feel puffy, wet. “Argent… you want to know why I needed the regenerator so bad, well…” Bile churns in your throat as you pull back your sleeve. “I’m not… um – not human.”
Can’t bear the look on Julia’s face so you focus on Argent’s instead. Can feel her focus shift from your upper arm to your face and back. The reflections in her skin distort as she crinkles her face. “You’re… not blue?”
“Cuckoo.” You force out. “Infiltration. Or… until I – until I… ran away. Twice n–now.” You let your arm drop, sleeve falling back down. “I… I need to get rid of these tattoos Argent. I’ve tried everything else. Nothing works. I just – I just want to be me.” Julia steps towards you, rubs her hand on your shoulder.
Argent keeps staring, like she’s seeing right through you. “Huh.”
happy new year have a short blurb about terrible new beginnings
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
Series: Part 42 of Aria
Dr. Mortum came through, the suit is done. Better make sure it's up to spec.
Two years of research, preparation, and hard work have been building towards this.
The glove slides up your arm, comfortably snug against your skin as you buckle it into place. Basic, light-weight ablative armor plating covers a more delicate framework of wires incased in a layer of ballistic gel padding. The left gauntlet is slightly bulkier then the right, a raised nodule over the back of palm the only indication of the payload now living inside.
You flex your fingers. Stretch out and then curled into a fist. The armor is slightly more stiff then just a skinsuit. But the added protection should be worth it, and you made sure Dr. Mortum kept things as streamlined as possible. You might be several years out of shape but speed is still your main asset.
To that end, you bend your leg at the knee, balancing on first on foot then hopping to the other. The shape of the boots is a little odd, but it’s all part of the jump jet package. Jump a little higher, fall a little slower… maybe once you get the hang of it you can add some extra oomph to a kick.
You can’t help it. The laughter. No one in this goddamn city has any idea what’s coming for it. With you to act as the muscle for Jane’s Face, maybe some goddamn changes can finally come to this damn place. They have to. After everything you’ve done already you can’t stop now. What you did you to Lady Argent, to all those other people… It won’t have been for nothing. It can’t be.
And… goddamn it feels good to feel powerful for once.
Chittering voices press against the back of your head as you pick up the helmet, turned the mirrored faceplate around and slip it over your head. The Rat-King waking up to your touch as you fasten the helmet in place, hook up the systems and bring the Heads-Up Display online. With the Rat-King to help manage basic situational awareness and other low-level maintenance tasks, you can be free to focus the bulk of your talents elsewhere.
You hold up your left gauntlet, brushing your mind over the contents, stirring them awake. The Nanovores you had Argent steal from the vault have been safely housed inside a modified void-cage, ringing the length of the gauntlet.
Mortum claims to have successfully modified the program so that they one: wouldn’t replicate beyond their pre-set size, and two: would no longer target organic matter. You may be playing with fire, but… one forest fire was more than enough. The screaming…
You flinch, shaking your head. Clap your hand into your fist. That’s the past. It’s over and gone and it can’t hurt you anymore. Nothing can.
You should – you should make certain. Turn your attention to the limp form propped up against the garage door. A paper bag has been carefully fitted over the unconscious man’s head. No chances. Once you have a real revenue stream, you won’t have to resort to manipulating lone drunkards like this. But what’s another night lost among hundreds?
He’s an old man, a hanger-on from the days the city was still called ‘LA.’ No living friends or relatives. If the Nanovores fuck up, no one will miss him anyway.
Can feel their hum over your arm, a buzzing hive of wasps coming to life. You can do this. What are eggs for if not for breaking? Bite down hard enough on the inside of your cheek that it makes your eyes water. You turn away. Find a wooden chair a few feet to your right. There. That’ll do. Wood is organic.
The Nanovores should be able to go a decent distance on their own if need be. Might as well test that now. You outstretch your hand, coax them to life. Feel the Rat-King’s presence curl protectively around you. That’s as strange a feeling as the sharp angles and buzzing of the nanovores themselves. Can barely see them in the air, but they’re there. Good to know. Stick to using it strictly on touch then. Obfuscate the nature of the power. The metal fastenings in the chair dissolve and the wooden legs collapse in a pile on the floor.
They work. They work as advertised. Goddamn. The Nanovores return to their cage, quieting down. Obedient. Tamed. You laugh again, more than a little manic. Reach up and press back on the back of your helmet, feel out the connection at the base of the neck to the super-cool system. Mortum claims it’ll help the telepathic link between you and the Rat-King, that was the original sales pitch anyway, but you’ve had this modified slightly from the original specs to keep the whole suit cool. You’ll need it.
Stepping in front of the mirror finally and it’s… a trip. The mirrored helmet stares back, reflecting the mirror and the room. The reflective polish fades into a deep unnatural black. Had to get the paint for this imported. Technically not even a pigment. A special carbon nanotube mixture from a paint eccentric out in the UK countryside. Absorbs over 99.8% of light. Bonus: the carbon will protect the suit from the nanovores. The effect is… disturbing to look at. It’s almost impossible to make out the contour of the armor plating against the underlaying skinsuit and systems. You lift up your hand and twist it this way and that. In the mirror it looks like your hand is changing shape, no indication of your wrist turning.
Like a black void in a roughly human shape opened up in reality. No form or definition, no shadow or highlight, just uniform black.
The light absorption means the suit will run hot in the sun. The modified cooling system will help with that, but for best results you’ll want to stick to indoors and evening or later for operations. Fine with you. Don’t care for the light anyway. The effect itself is going to be high maintenance to keep up, but the paint ended up being surprisingly affordable and you’ll want to do a check up after missions anyway. Once you’ve finished setting up your long-term base of operations it should be fine.
You curl your hand into a fist and watch the reflection shapeshift to follow suit. Two weeks to show time. Two weeks to sever the last dregs of Ariadne’s life. Have had to make some last-minute changes to the plan – nobody needs to die, as long as you make it clear to the world that they’ve got a new thing to fear in the night, that’s all that matters.
No more running scared. No more sleepless nights fearing nightmares. No more desperate old friends trying to drag you back into a dead life. No more cowering, waiting for something to happen to you. You’re taking control of your life.
And no one else is ever going to forget it.
You rear your fist back, and bring it down on the mirror.
Zia loaned by @ratkingkisses
a quick follow up goof blurb to this: [tell me why]
It’s the smoke that Ariadne notices, seconds before the fire alarm goes off. Curses she jumps off the bed to her feet, letting the book drop to the floor. Rushing out of the bedroom all moment is brought to a sudden, sharp stop by the figure standing in the kitchen.
Zia glares angrily at the pot of pasta on the stove top, hands on her hips. The noodles have been haphazardly dumped into an empty pot and one end is on fire. Ariadne puts a hand over her face. It’s too late in the day for the Zia hour. Also too early. Just really, any time is a bad time for the Zia hour.
The other woman catches sight of her, and the upset look on her face dissolves, replaces with a cool confidence. Or at least, the pretension of such. “Ah, Ari, I see my alarm clock worked.” She has to raise her voice over the blaring of the alarm.
Ariadne rolls her eyes. “Zia, put that out.” She reaches to grab the burning noodles and Ariadne lunges forward, shoving her out of the way. “N–n-not with your hand, oh my god!” Yep, no water in the pot. Ariadne sighs, turning off the stove. Turning the water on in the sink she carefully lights up the pot of burning pasta and dumps it into the running water. “What the fuck were you doing?”
She huffs, crossing her arms. “That’s hardly any way to talk to the woman who has slaved over your recovery.”
“What–” Ariadne’s face crinkles in confusion, eyebrows knitting together. “I’ve just been laying on the bed all day while you do your…” she flails her free hand while reaching over to turn the water off in the sink. “Your Zia… thing. Whatever that is.”
Zia’s face lights up at that, a smirk on her face. “I have been looking into our next project together. There’s a–”
“Stop.” Ariadne shoves a finger in her face. “My head still hurts like hell. I am not doing anything. And…” She looks at the wreck in the sink, sighing. “This isn’t helping.”
“Don’t be ungrateful, my little handmaiden.”
“Little…?” Ariadne huffs, straightening her back. “I’m taller than you are! By like, almost three inches!”
Zia refuses to budge. “You're short in spirit.”
“In spirit…?” Ariadne closes her eyes, putting her hands to her temples. Takes a breath, holds it, lets it out. “Okay. Let’s back up here. What on earth is this?”
The alarm finally, mercifully stops.
Zia raps her fingers against the side of her face, chin in her hand as she surveys the damage. “Well, the box said to boil a pot of water first. But that was a stupid waste of time seeing as it also said to dump all the water in the sink at the end. So I figured I’d just skip that part and save some time.”
“Don’t call me that.” Ariadne sighs. “Do you see the point of the water now?”
The woman frowns, drumming her fingers against the side of her face. A look of intense concentration. “So you can immediately put out the fire before the fire alarm goes off?”
“Well then clearly the instructions are at fault!” Zia turns away sharply, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “They were inadequate to the task.”
“Zia,” Ariadne walks after her as Zia storms out of the kitchen. “Do you not know how to cook?”
She huffs, not turning around as she stares out the penthouse window at the city below. “Of course I know how to cook, sweetheart. What kind of person doesn’t know how to cook?”
“W–well, the escaped government experiment kind.”
She laughs. “Don’t be ridiculous. Children know how to cook, I know how to cook.”
“Name one recipe you know how to–to–to do.”
“Easy.” She snaps her fingers. “You take the chicken tenders out of the freezer and put them on a plate with a paper towel. And then you stick them in the microwave for three minutes.”
“Oh Zia…” Ariadne has to bite her lip to stop from laughing. “That hurts me in my soul.” She puts a hand on Zia’s shoulder, tentative at first, unsure if Zia’s going to shrug her off. “Did you have any m–more boxes of pasta?”
“Oh…” She turns her head, avoiding looking at Ariadne. “I bought all of them.”
“…all of them.”
“I wasn’t sure what kind was your preference.”
Ariadne glances out the window. “Okay. We can… um, work with that. I can teach you the basics, I guess.”
Zia relaxes her shoulders, glances over to Ariadne, a small smirk on her lips. “I suppose I can let you assist me.”
“…assist you? Zia–”
“Oh very well, I promote you to sous chef.” Turning back towards the kitchen, Zia glances back over her shoulder. “Well, come on handmaiden.”
Ariadne groans, throwing her hands up in the air. “I t–t–told you to stop calling me that! And – and how do you know what a sous chef is?”
Zia doesn’t even look back, a lazy hand in the air. “That little movie with the rats.”
Back in the kitchen they spend a few minutes cleaning up the last mess. Toweling her hands off, Ariadne rummages through the cupboards. “For someone that doesn’t cook, you have uh– a pretty well stocked kitchen.”
“Excuse yourself, I cook all the time.”
Ariadne rolls her eyes. “Anyway,” She pulls out a bigger pot and sticks it under the faucet. “You almost had it. Pasta is d–dead easy to do, honestly. You just – just shot yourself in the foot with your need to be clever all the time.”
Zia frowns, glaring at Ariadne from the middle of the kitchen. “I don’t need to be clever. I am clever.”
“If that makes you feel better.” She glances back at the pot, turns off the water. “You only want it filled like halfway or the boiling water will jump out when you put the noodles in.”
“…sure.” Ariadne looks around as she lifts the pot of water onto the stove. “Do you have salt? Olive oil?”
Zia huffs, “Of course I have salt.” She turns towards the kitchen table, grabbing a shaker. “Here we go.” She tosses it, under hand.
“Woah!” Ariadne scrambles to catch it. “You could have just walked the two feet to hand it to me.”
“You’re the sous chef. Technically I shouldn’t even be in here.”
Ariadne stares at her.
Zia stares back.
“J–just… knock it off already and get over here.” She presses the shaker into Zia’s hand. “Just add some salt to the water. It – it helps the taste.”
“It just does okay?”
Zia sighs theatrically, shaking salt into the pot of water. “Fine, fine. Now what?”
Ariadne claps the lid on, starts the burner. “Now we wait for it to boil.” She glances around the kitchen. “You bought tomato sauce, right?”
Zia frowns, tilting her head. “What do you mean ‘bought?’” She laughs, shaking her head. “Sweetheart, it’s supposed to come with the pasta. It’s right on the box.”
Ariadne bites her lip, holding her breath. Lets it out. “Did… did you see any in that little tiny box.”
Zia stares back at her.
“Oh lord.” Ariadne stares at the ceiling. “Okay. What about olive oil?”
“Honestly, Ari dear, I’m beginning to think you're just making things up.”
“What– No, I–I–I–” Ariadne sputters, going bug-eyed. “Olive oil is a real thing! Jesus christ, Zia! Do you at least have garlic powder?”
“Well, obviously.” She rolls her eyes, crossing her arms. “I need something to put on the pizza.”
Ariadne sags, “Oh thank god.” She presses a hand to her forehead. “My head is s–still killing me.”
A look of dawning comprehension crests over Zia’s face. “Oh! I completely forgot about your concussion. Oh, my poor handmaiden.” She sweeps up Ariadne in an a hug, patting the back of her head. “You go lay back down, I’ll finish up here.”
Fandom: Fallen Hero Series - Malin Rydén, Fallen Hero: Rebirth (Video Game)
Taking a break from DRAMA to write about birthdays
It was going to be fine. It would be fine. It had to be fine. Why wouldn’t it be fine? Everything was fine. It’s not like Ortega hasn’t seen your face at this point, so has Anathema, Sentinel. If there was some sort of ‘wanted’ database with your face in it, it either looked different enough at this point on HRT (you don’t really see it, to be honest) or no such database actually existed with you in it. If the Rangers seeing unmasked hadn’t resulted in the Farm taking you back at this point, attending a surprise party for Anathema’s birthday wasn’t going to do it.
It was fine. Had to be.
Oh god, please be fine.
A party means civilian clothes.
You lean in over the bathroom mirror, fighting down the revulsion as you inspect your face. Did this eyeliner look okay? Almost poked yourself in the eye at least three times. Done it over at least twice now, was it? Don’t need to do anything too dramatic to your face. Just make it look ‘normal.’
It was, perhaps, a pretty damning statement on society that you needed make-up in order to look normal, but there wasn’t time to unpack that right now. Clean up the mess of cosmetics scattered across the sink, after one less inspection of your jawline. Sufficiently de-blued. Growth had mercifully slowed enough by now that you’ll probably be safe for the rest of the night.
Just as long as no one gets close.
You pull the halves of your cardigan together. Already know you’re going to die dressed like this in the heat today, but it still doesn’t feel like enough layers.
“Are you alright?”
Quick glance in Ortega’s direction only to catch her doing the same. Quickly avert your eyes. Feels weird to be up on the roof of the Ranger HQ for a party of all things. You and Ortega where the last ones to arrive. Sunstream, Sentinel, and even Steel, surprisingly, are all here already.
All that’s left is the guest of honor to show up. “I’m fine.” Can feel the sweat running down your back, sticking to your bra. Learning about all kinds of new gross feelings with your adventure towards womanhood.
Ortega shakes her head. “It’s hot as hell out,” she presses. “Gonna look bad if I get my sidekick sent to the morgue from heatstroke.” She laughs, as if that somehow disarms the barb in her comment.
“Used to… w–worse.” Some of those days on the Farm, when the air condition had broken… pretty sure that had seen some casualties.
Sentinel and Steel sit the other table, looking out over the city stretching below. Tempting to listen in, telepathically or otherwise. Steel would see that kind of thing as more evidence of your untrustworthiness, but that kind of only makes you want to do it more. The two of you stand in silence before Ortega picks the conversation back up, her voice light, like she’s expecting you wap her. “So, you are my sidekick then?”
Don’t rise to the challenge. Just roll your eyes. “Don’t push it, Sparkles.”
Hardly anyone seems to care about your appearance except to echo Ortega’s concern. Should you be grateful or disappointed that you had been psyching yourself up for nothing?
Pick up a note of confusion from down below. “Themmy’s here.”
Ortega perks up at that. “Everybody! Get in your positions!”
“It’s not an ambush.” Steel shakes his head, staying seated.
Sunsteam laughs, “It kind of is, though, isn’t it?”
When everyone yells “SURPRISE” as Anathema steps out from the roof access, you stay quiet. Wave a hand instead as Anathema takes in the sight, see the ‘Happy Birthday Anathema’ awkwardly pinned between the two tables on the roof.
She mouths something, silent. You can feel her cursing in shock inside her head. Finally, she blinks tears out of her eyes and puts her hands on her hips. “Damn. You – wow – you guys really didn’t need to do this.”
Ortega is already at her side, patting her on the back and guiding her to the cake. “It’s not much. Just the team and some cake. But…” She shrugs, smiles. “I wasn’t about to let you pass another birthday by yourself.”
You breath a sigh of relief, watching Anathema cut the first slice, mingle with the rest of the Rangers. Ortega catches your eye, and waves you over. You point at yourself, raising an eyebrow as you chew your lip. Ortega convinced you to come, but that doesn’t mean you belong here.
She rolls her eyes, breaks from Anathema’s side to march towards you. “Com’on, Ari, don’t hide in the corner. At least give Themmy a hello.”
“Ortega!” Anathema huffs, catching up behind her, a paper plate with a slice of cake on it in each hand. “It’s fine, really.” She nods in your direction, flashes a quick smile as she pushes one of the paper plates towards you. “I appreciate you coming at all.”
Can’t stop the smile from forming on your face. “R–really? I mean… thanks.” Carefully, you take the plate and accompanying fork. “Um. Happy birthday? Sorry I d–don’t, uh, don’t have a present.”
Anathema shakes her head. “Oh no, don’t worry about it. This, uh, this is already kind of embarrassing.”
You laugh with her.
“So,” Ortega watches you from the corner of her eye. “when’s your birthday?”
You tilt your head, confused smile still on your face. “That’s, uh– what?”
“We’ve been working together over a year now, it’s got to happen sometime, I’d bet.”
“Oh.” You say. “Um.” You append. What kind of date would you even given for that, anyway? Unless, wait – “Uh… M–march? I guess. The twentieth.” The day you started HRT seems as good a candidate as any.
“The first day of spring?” Anathema looks thoughtful, “Not a bad date.”
Ortega shakes her head, snapping her fingers. “We already missed this year.”
“Oh well.” You catch Anathema’s eye, the two of you share a quick smile. Glad you came after all. Glad to have Anathema to talk to. She ‘gets it’ at least in part.
Giving out an actual date was kind of a dumb move. Getting too comfortable around the Rangers maybe. It doesn’t matter though.They’ll have long forgotten by the time March 20th rolls around again.