Jump to content

Ultimate Freedom and Other Tales - May / June Vignette

Topic will be automatically locked at 11:00 PM


Recommended Posts

Freedom City has been rebooted! It's time to retell your character's origins with the hindsight of 5, 10 or even more time spent with the character. What changes? What stays the same?

 

Or

 

Imagine what it would be like if the character had been created in the Gold, Silver, Bronze or even... Iron Age. How would things change if they were written during those times. You can either ignore or embrace those aspects of the characters that would be considered problematic then, but just remember to keep things within the site rules.

 

Your reboot stories should be posted no later than the 30th June 2024.

 

(As a reminder, vignettes follow the same general rules as posts in terms of content, player character limits, and so on. You may have only one vignette per player character. Each vignette should be at least one page (~500 words) in length; if posted in your thread counts at the end of the month, it is worth 1pp for the associated character. An especially long vignette, 1000 words or more, may be worth up to 2pp. Multiple players can collaborate on a single vignette - we recommend Google Docs for this, it's very useful - but the vignette should be about one page per participating player.)

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Snakebite

 

In

 

Finding your teeth

 

 

On the fifth day, the fever broke.

 

Those days had been full of sweat and delirium, dreams of jungles and strange night skies full of unfamiliar stars. Several times, the doctors and nurses had been fearful for Cassandra Crow’s life as they struggled to keep her temperature up, or temperature down. The Crow family could afford for the best of care, although their relationships were not always pleasant. It had not gone unnoticed that a few choice members had been hovering around Cassandra’s bed with a glint of glee, hoping that some of the Crow’s byzantine inheritance laws my bless them upon her passing.

 

A month ago, Cassandra Crow had been deep in Amazonian Jungle, exploring the unexplored. She had located a golden snake head, about the size of a fist, with glittering emerald eyes and a malign serpents grin. Worth a fortune, to be sure, but it was glory not dollars that motivated Cassandra Crow. Caressing her prize, she heard a click… and two golden fangs stabbed into her hand.

 

If it was simply a matter of a few scars on the back of her hand, there the story would have ended. But each fang contained a shot of ancient and Eldritch poison.

Her temperature rose, her tongue coarsened and swelled. Her eyes darkened and pierced the dark. The poison was crawling around her arteries, into her muscles and skin, changing her.

 

And quite possibly killing her.

 

To get back to the Amazonian river boat was a feat of endurance that she would have, a day before, considered impossible, beyond human flesh. Lying in the boat, convulsing, shaking, was an agony she would rather forget. And then, descent into a coma, until she awoke five days ago in a Hospital in London.

 

And now, the fever had broke. She could sit on her bed, she could even walk, clutching onto her IV drip strand like a crutch. Sleep – yes, sleep. She could sleep twenty hours a day and still feel tired. But no longer was her temperature spiking. No more mysterious cold fevers. It was, as the doctors said, as if her blood could not decide whether she was hot blooded or cold blooded. All in all, she was a mystery. Her blood tests, only now resolving, were impossible to understand, and should have killed her. The ascribed her ongoing life to Ms. Crow’s remarkable fitness, what with her being an explorer used to climbing, hiking, and swimming through the harshest of Earth’s terrains.

 

Maybe that was true, but Cassandra Crow suspected other forces were at play. The Crow family were as wealthy as you could be, thanks to good fortune. But fortune was a fickle and two sided beast. Curses, Hex’s, supernatural bad luck – these too came with the Crow Raven Hair and Crow hooked nose. The Golden Snake Head had sensed something in her, it had smelled the Crow blood, and it had attacked!

 

“Uuurgh….”

 

It was a groan of livid arteries, of pounding head. Pain that morphine had muffled but not removed. Her mother and sister were at the bedside. Caring, in that Crow way. Obscured, mysterious, even narcissistic caring, but caring all the same. And Cassandra would rather have them there than some of the more obnoxious and machevellian characters in the more distant part of the family.

 

“How long?” she asked.

 

“Too long…” said her mother, he black crow hair tied, harshly, to the back of her head. “We feared the worst, you rapscallion! Although… I would not have my daughters any other way. You get poisoned, your sister falls of mountains. Tsk! Better a day a lion, eh?”

 

“Or a snake…” muttered Cassandra.

 

There followed more days in hospital, more mysterious medicine. And then a trip to the Crow family manor once she was healthy enough. In some ways, the doctors told her, she was suspiciously too healthy.

 

They were not wrong. A couple more weeks, and Cassandra was riding, swimming and running through the grounds of the Manor. She was always athletic, her long limbs used to the strain of hiking and exploring. But now she rode harder, she swam faster, and she ran for longer than ever before. Her strength was beyond her frame – tight, hot muscles able to lift a motorcycle above her head (yes, she tried). And speed, yes – faster than before, able to balance and leap like a cat competing for the cat Olympics in agility. Cassandra could feel her body writhe, stretch and bend like rubber. Like a cat.

 

Like a snake.

 

And then, there were the teeth.

 

They manifested – with an sharp electrical pain – when Cassandra was running through the nearby woods and was startled by an irritable fox. No threat, neither before her transformation or, much less so, after it, but enough to cause that little flux of adrenaline. Her canines elongates – subtle, maybe half an inch or most, but quite the shock nonetheless. And the bitter taste of poison at their tips.

 

What was she?

 

The answer surely lay in books. And the Crow family had plenty of dusty tomes in the library. Books of history, archeology, certainly. And darker, eldritch, arcane tomes of pre-history and mythology. Books documenting – in crazed words – the worlds of Atlantis, Lemuria, the lost world. And even, in some particularly hushed and warped words, of the yellow sign.

 

But even these were not enough. Cassandra turned to the British library, pulling strings to get the most obscure and forbidden texts. She spent her days away from sunshine, in the depths of the library, in a private and dusty reading room, poring over yellow paper. At least, it was usually paper. Sometimes it was hide. Sometimes it was skin.

 

There it was: Lodged between a scrawled (in blood?) ramble on the sixty six dimensions of the silver chair, and an alleged spell to bind the third eyes of the unspeakable one. A note on the golden skull  of Lemuria, its poison deadly to all but those with snake blood. A ritualistic device to prove one was a true snake person.

 

And Cassandra Crow had survived the bite. Survived the poison.

 

It made her blood run as cold as a lizards. Her sweat felt icy, her tongue felt bloated. Something was very wrong with the Crow family line. Something… inhuman. Somehow, they were not mere homo sapien, but something else. Maybe not material, maybe not genetic. But somehow, in aeons past, the Crow family had taken something of the Lemurian people. Perhaps this explained their strange fortunes, their mystic eyes, the family legacy littered with witches, shamans, sorcerers and oracles.

 

Cassandra Crow was a snake? Then so be it. An enigmatic and twisted smile creased the corner of her lips. There was more work to be done.

 

As Snakebite.

Link to comment

Starshot in

 

The history of hunting

 

“Ow”

 

His last memory – an explosion in the Alps. Leading a team of Nazi soldiers he didn’t like to a mission he didn’t want to complete. Given a chance, he had decided to hop sides. But there was the problem – how to prop sides. Compared to the Nazi’s, the Allies were glowing angels, but that didn’t mean they had something rotten in them. That was War for you. Turned good men rotten. Would the Allies really welcome him with open arms, or would they shoot him on sight.

 

Probably something in between. Hopefully something in between.

 

But Oscar never did get his chance. He never did discover what would have happened. All he could recall was an explosion. A big one. A burning ball of purple plasma.

An electric shock brought him awake. Groggy eyes, fuzzy, fogged, opened slowly to see one of the most repulsive faces he had ever – or would ever see, peering over him.

Zaul Zeno weighed a ton, had bulbous pink flesh, four arms, and the body of an enormous slug. His face fitted the rest of him. Adipose tissue hung from every angle in his face. Tiny black eyes, a lipless cruel smile. Open pores that had an unpleasant odour.

 

A universal translator garbled the communication between them. But Oscar knew his situation was not much improved. From one tyrant to another. From Hitler to Zaul Zeno.

Zaul Zeno did not have the passionate cruelty; no devout mission to inflict his will on the other, no matter how inhumane. Instead, his was dispassionate curiosity. There was some sliver of his soul that one could admire, that of the scientist. But Zaul was callous, caring not one jot or tittle for others. There was nothing kind, nor sadistic in his motives. A dangerous man, but, as Oscar came to realise, an alien you could work with, if one was careful. The trick was to be useful. If one was useful, one was valuable, and if one was valuable one had leverage.

 

“Your mitochondria. So inefficient,” Zaul would say as he injected another genetic rewiring agent into Oscar. It wasn’t too bad. A couple of hours of fever, if he was lucky. If he was not, then rigors, confusion. Maybe unconsciousness if he was lucky. Maybe death if he was not.

 

For all Zaul’s cold experimentation, he knew his work. Oscar had never felt so healthy. The strength and endurance of three men. He could run faster, longer. Lift heavier, hit harder.

 

And he felt his old life drip away. No longer Oscar, the Terran soldier. Not quite. A new person, a new persona was forming. Starshot, the space hunter.

 

“Reflexes are sub-par. And your cellular make up is so fragile!”

 

And so began painful sequences of cybernetic implantation. Spinal vents, to stop overheating. Subdermal thermal paste wells, to stop freezing. Implanted chemical filtration units in his spleen, stomach and liver, to destroy toxins and microbes. DNA Backup coder in his lymphatic system, cutting down elongating telomeres, acting as a never ending stem supply. A prized hunter like Starshot was too much investment to let die from old age.

 

“Your hand was injured in the blast. It is not optimal,” said Zaul, readying his microcarbonite virbo-saw. Starshot had to agree – Oskar had lost one and half fingers in the blast, and his couldn’t grip effectively. He gritted his teeth. The pain did not last too long; Zaul was good at his work. And the new chrome cybernetic hand was – Starshot admitted – much stronger, more useful. Still, he lamented the lost flesh and bone.

 

Cybernetics, Genetics, this was Zaul’s mission. And Starshot was his hunter, travelling the galaxy for fresh meat. Strange and rare animal, plant and fungal life forms. And many life forms that did not fit into one of those crude categories. Zaul was not popular; a wanted criminal in several parts of the galaxy. And the reputation was rubbing off on Starshot, Zaul’s right hand man, who could track and capture – it seemed – anything.

 

His weapon – a Blaster rifle equipped with a plasma – twine snare. His helmet – equipped with the best sensor array money could buy. Starshot was pretty sure neither had been acquired legally, and even if they had, were probably not legal. At least in the more civilised part of the galaxy. He was disturbed how undisturbed he was. Starshot was enjoying his reputation as the best hunter in the galaxy. He knew his weapon like the back of his hand, how it felt, how it handled. Precisely how much juice was running through its microfusion core. How hot the ejector was getting, how stable the mag-thruster rings. He could even tell how many plasma web shells were left in the underbelly of the rifle, just from the weight.

 

He was grim. And grim at how grim he had become. A tough guy, a mercenary, a warrior. Had the genetic and cybernetic tweaks carved out his soul, or was he always this empty. No matter – best not to think about it, or his enslaved status. Best to get the job done, and glean what bleak satisfaction he could out of the situation. Yes, there was the pulse of adrenaline – perhaps heightened from his synthetic adrenal glands – but delicious all the same. The thrill of the chase, the pride in the success. And even some appreciation of the scars he accumulated. No, he would not chose the dermal resythetiser for his face, nor for the jagged lines on his skin that served as reminder of his wrestles with predators. He would not have chosen the resynthesiser, even if Zaul had offered it.

 

Until one day, out of the blue, Zaul disappeared.

 

Nobody, to this day, had found Zaul, nor any solid evidence as to his whereabouts. Of course, the rumour mill went into overdrive across the Galactic channels. From the plausible (The Star Kahn had captured him to be his own scientific mad genius) to the frankly insane (He had been captured by interdimensional warp-clowns to provide amusement). Even Starshot himself, no stranger to tracking, had tried hustling and bribing his way across the galaxy to find news – to no avail. He had no desire to return to servitude, but an odd mix of loyalty and paranoia propelled him to try and nail down what had happened. You never knew; Zaul Zeno might return one day, and who could tell what mood he might be in?

 

With freedom came responsibility, and with responsibility came the impetus to change once more. Still Starshot, but now captain of Zauls old ship, the Xeno. Still a hunter, but his own master (even if he did have to bow to the occasional merchant and politician who took a “well earned” holiday on his ship). Still a hunter, still a tough guy, but perhaps – just perhaps, a shade less grim.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...