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Epoch

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YH
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Both Nara and Jarrod twisted towards Abbi; the man's face was one of awed surprise, but the woman wore a scowl that became a sneer as her eyes flicked between Jarrod and Abbi. Hands on hips, Nara slowly slid herself between the two. "And you are...?"

"Abbi, you're okay!" The relief was apparent in every fiber of his being.

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Abbi kept smiling and nodded towards Jarrod, "What he said."

YH
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She shifted her weight from one leg to the other. "I'm sorry, and how do you know Jarrod?"

The corners of his mouth dropped, a hint of warning crept in. "Nara."

"This is that mechanic girl, right?" She turned back to him, "The one you told me about? Great job she did repairing this--" she gesticulated at the ship, searching for a word, then turned back to Abbi, waving behind her at Elgin, her tongue laced with venom, "Way to go, Abbi."

"Nara!" His terse bark shredded her nerves, and she exhaled and withdrew to Elgin's side again.

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She did not really repair the ship. She jammed a tool in it, that's different.

Mabye she liked the woman after all, at least a little.

That all did not matter. Abbi tilted her head to the side, "You talked about me?"

YH
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He nodded, adjusting straps to better secure Elgin on the cot before they lifted him. "I told her where we were going, and that I trusted you--" his face reddened, realizing how it suddenly sounded. "Yes, I trust you."

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 "Right," Favonius called from under a large metal overhang that used to be flat, "as touching as this is, I can't find anything else and I seem to remember someone mentioning murdering robots."

 

He shook himself off. "And we have one very injured person and I don't know if we have any means of-" Favonius' gaze found Darus. "Transport."

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 Darus had made his way into the ship cautiously and quietly. He stood staring awestruck at Jarrod. He opened his mouth as though to speak, then seemed to think better of it and snapped his lips closed with finality. This finality was quickly reversed when he spotted Favonius, and all his anger resurfaced in defiance of his previous conviction to ignore the man and aid the cleanup of the crash. As far as he could tell, everyone else had things firmly under control. Which meant his wrath could be fully fixed on the truant guardsman.

 

"You son-of-a-bitch," Darus grumbled as he advanced, stepping carefully to avoid harming himself in the cramped ruins of the ship, "you are in some deep shit now my friend." Darus now stood before Favonius, one fist clenched at his side, the other aiming a sharp finger at the dead-center of Favonius' face. "You were on guard duty, Favonius. Guard duty! I know it isn't glorious, but it's sure as hell important, especially considering how low our manpower is right now." The last words of his rant brought Jarrod back to his mind, and his gaze briefly flickered behind Favonius to where the man in question stood with Nara and Elgin.

YH
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"Stomp him into the curb later, Darus," Jarrod met the other Blade's eyes, "This man is gonna die if we don't get him back to the Temple." In the presence of a fellow spy, he slipped liquid-smooth into that frame of mind. He betrayed nothing, not his thoughts or emotions, but conveyed the grave situation with grim resolve. Whether he was happy or not to see Darus would be decided later, but he was relieved for his friend.

"Please, help us." Only after he said it did he realize that was going to cost him one, and he had forgotten in the tension of the moment which one owed the other at this point.

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 "Sir, I...." Favonius began, then stopped. He would figure that out later. There was a man injured to be dealt with, after all. He ducked and weaved his way out of the wreckage and into the outside air. The stink of blood and burning was just as strong, but the moving air made it somehow less oppressive. 

 

 

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The steel grip of death clenched itself around Elgin's throat and strangled him in the strangest way possible. Stuff started whirling around, showing up only like a high-contrast photo being flushed down the toilet. The initial shock and surprise that he had survived the initial collision had long disappeared, and the jovious "I'm alive" attidude was no longer present. Yes, he was going to die. Funny enough, all he could think of now was why he hadn't died already. The world dark, all that he felt was pain, and muffled and distant were his groans of the greatest discomfort.

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 Darus looked slowly from Jarrod, to Elgin lying near death on the floor, to Favonius. He then returned his gaze to Jarrod and, drawing a small sigh, nods once. Immediately,  he steps over to where Elgin is laying and drops to one knee beside him. Then, looking up at Jarrod, he says, "Well, he's your friend. How do you want to do this? Have us all take a limb and carry him out?"

YH
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"Just grab one end and I'll get the other, we have to be careful," he directed, looking down at the fading musician. Jarrod's voice rang out with alarm, "Elgin! Elgin, hold on! Can you hear me?"

***

He sat on the creaking wooden step, watching the shadows swallow the trees as the dwindling rays filtered past the boughs, their golden lances twinkling bright as distant novas in the field of verdant blackness. He tipped the cool bottle to his lips and let the bitter spirits scorch his throat in an attempt to drown the ache in his chest.

Softly, soles scraped the splintered stoop. She sat next to him, but let him finish his drink. He could feel her burning the side of his face with her viridian stare. Finally, he looked at her, "He'll be all right?"

She nodded, those willow pools threatening to spill over. "You look so much like him," she whispered.

"Soren?" She nodded again. He took a guess, "Your son?" Another nod. "I'm sorry."

"Why?" She angled her head ever so slightly.

He thought about it for a moment, "I don't know, I just am."

"It's not your fault," she reached out to touch his hand, but he stood and began walking away.

"Yeah, it is."

She sat there for a moment, watching him leave, then turned her head when she heard a sigh. Nara stood in the open door, leaning against the jamb and stroking her belly absently. Karinna smiled warmly at her, "He'll be back."

Nara blinked and met the old woman's eyes, "Why do you say that?"

She only smiled, "You seemed worried, that's all." She watched Jarrod grow smaller, "It might take him a while, but he still came back."

Nara sighed again and went back into the cabin, back into the little room where Elgin lay quietly. She sank into the old, worn chair near the bed and rubbed her stomach some more.

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Abbi was inspecting a tree with bugs on it. She never had been this close to a living thing before. Not one that couldn't talk anyway. Plently of people in the city. So that was why they called them ants. They were everywhere.

She stared at the black busy creatures with her nose almost pressed against the trunk when she saw something out of the corner of her eyes. At first she was startled, thinking it might be a bear, even though she never had seen one before (and might be too impressed to be scared). Then she realised it was no bear at all, but Jarrod. He did not seem to notice her. There was something strange about him. She quickly caught what it was; he was not walking entirely straight. Clearly walking with a purpose, though, and aware of where he was going. But not straight.

Putting her hands into her pockets, she left the tiny things behind and set in the pursuit.

YH
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The floor was slippery with pine needles, they crunched angrily at being trampled. It was hard to see here, so he took it a step at a time. Pine, dirt, rocks, a root. He found himself staring up at the sky as it spun ahead of him. How did the sky get ahead of him? He heard more crunching, but his legs weren't moving. His eyes searched for the sound, saw a pair of green feet, followed the legs upward...pockets...a jacket...a smile.

The ground was cool and his face felt hot. He tried to sit up, grunted, laid back down and looked at the smile some more, "Um...hey."

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She looked at him for a second, then crouched down before him. "Comfy down here?" she asked.

Her eyes wandered over his face. "He got you bad," she then said, slightly frowning.

YH
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His mouth and brow screwed in bemused concern. "Who got me?"

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"You know, the big bot," she answered, spreading her arms wide. Bringing her hands to her face again, "With the, you know, scary eyes. Him."

YH
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He sprang to his feet and twisted around, searching, wound tight and ready to explode in violence. "Where--oh, the woods. The ship." He sagged back to the ground next to her, sitting on his heels, then he swooned and held himself up with his hands. He trembled, "Oh gods, I couldn't save them."

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Abbi's eyes widened at the unexpected behavior and even more at the sudden retreat. That was not supposed to happen. Her hands searched for a place to hide as she did not know what to do with them. "No one could save them. Even if you had been there."

One hand found her pouch with screws and she fiddled with them through the fabric. "You should not blame yourself."

YH
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He shook his head, "It should've been me."

He covered his face with his hands and groaned through them, then spat out the loathsome words that choked him, "If I hadn't put up a fight and just let them take me, none of this would've happened."

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OOC: I'm baaack! Missed me?

 

IC:

Abbi bit her lower lip. Why did talking to people have to be so difficult? Real talking. Emotional stuff.

It had been so much easier when he had been staring at the interior of the ship as a child who saw snow for the first time.

She took a deep breath through her nose, as if it would give her courage, and answered again. She was not good at this, but she was good at being honest. People seemed to value honesty. "If you had not put up a fight, the ship would not have left. The machine would have taken you, dead or alive, whatever the order was, and then it would have destroyed us still, for just being there. You fought to give us a chance and we took it. Most of us live. You did the right thing, I truly believe that."

There, she said it. And she had no idea what to do next.

YH
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He slammed his fists against the ground, then covered his face again. "I'm sorry," he croaked. He sniffled loudly behind his palms, his throat working to swallow the knot that burned him. "I'm sorry," repeated, again and again and again as he tried to sit up. He made it to his knees, then his feet, then back onto his knees again before he just sat there and looked up at her.

"I need to go away."

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She stared at him. That hurt somehow. Why? she thought.

"Where to?" she asked.

YH
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He shook his head, "Doesn't matter, they'll find me eventually." He tried to stand again, did, then leaned on a tree, "I can't be around you anymore, I can't let anyone else get hurt or--" he halted, not wanting to finish the thought, "I'll just go, I'll keep them away from you, it's safest."

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"Safest for us, yes, but not for you." Abbi knew it was pointless. He had a certain look on his face that she recognised. He had made up his mind, no way around it. She tried anyway, even while she normally would not do that. "You just got here."

YH
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He tried to think, but it was harder than usual. "What am I supposed to do? Let them come for me? For us?" He looked down at his open hands, gesturing with the invisible weight, "How can I protect you now?"

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She tilted her head to the side. Was that about her or the group? Probably the group. Right?

She remained silent for a few seconds as she went over the options in her head, trying to figure out which reply was the most suitable.

"You can not protect anyone if you're not around."

YH
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It was as if she had struck him, the strange mix of confusion and pain. He met her gaze for the first time since waking her in the ship, locked eyes and held her for a long silent moment. He then lowered his eyes and nodded slowly, turned and began walking back toward the cabin.

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Now, that was clear to her; walking away she knew. Walking away meant turning your back to someone, ending the conversation, not wanting to talk anymore, leave it as it was. It was something she mastered.

Her hands disappeared into her pockets again and she followed.

YH
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Jarrod paused and waited for her to catch up, and continued when they were shoulder-to-shoulder. He managed to keep the staggering to a minimum, not an easy task in the fading light, but the cool air and Abbi's words helped a lot.