(This is a joint writing between Epsilon and RogueBrenna to make sure both perspectives are as accurate as possible.)
Nathan Wagner - Trauma
Haloscene- Welcome to the Black Parade
Gagsworth took a deep breath, trying to ignore the pain that burned through his body. The deep bites and scratches on his neck, torso, and arms burned like hell. He still wasn’t sure what the hell had happened, other than a group had attacked him, and he had managed to get away.
He’d quickly cleaned the wounds as best as he was able, bandaged them, and took some painkillers that he had been saving in case of an emergency. Did he need to see a professional? Probably…but then again he wasn’t sure they would have the slightest idea as to how to treat him. Either way, he’d care about that later.
Gagsworth hoped for the best as he opened the door to his private apartment in the FIB tower. As he walked inside he spotted the blonde hair of his guest/apartment-sitter curled up on the couch. He started to shut the door, but found himself freezing as he turned and actually looked at Adra.
Her face had blood smeared on it, she was crying. His body burned under the bandages, and he tried his best to not respond to it, hoping the pain medication he had taken would be kicking in soon.
“Rough day as well?” He tried to sound as casual as possible.
Her expression as her eyes met his, was a combination of emotions; fear, hurt, anger, and betrayal. She wiped at her face, not realizing she was making more of a mess by smearing the bloody tears around. His chest burned as he breathed, but he shoved the pain away, more concerned about what was upsetting Adra.
She explained she’d been captured and taken to the foundry…threatened with a serum and collar…and certain death. The same place and a similar method to how her friend Brody had died.
An option was given to hand over 10 other supers and she would be left alone. Although something heavily implied being ‘cured’ or forced into a collar again for the rest of her life.
Adra struggled to explain she felt that she had no choice but to take the deal, it was the only way to try to buy herself time. But then there was a contract Viola wrote and signed in her blood…they wanted her to sign it. She wanted to use blood from a blood bag, but had been being watched too closely to risk trying it. There had also been a moment she could have pulled a gun and tried to flee, but too much could have gone wrong. She’d signed the contract with her own blood, and knew if she didn’t fulfil the terms, it would be her death.
There was something else, something she wasn’t telling him. He had no idea what, but a lifetime of watching and deciphering people and interpreting their intentions told him that something else was bothering her. He could see the struggle in her expression about something, her voice hesitating, something she both did and didn’t want to say. Whatever it was, Gags wasn’t going to push the matter though, she was upset enough, and with good reason.
She’d been allowed to leave after that. But now she didn’t know what to do. Everyone whom she had asked for help from had pretty much said ‘good luck’. One person was willing to protect her, but there wasn’t that much he really could do.
Gagsworth continued to read her expression, helplessness and hopelessness. A mix that sadly he knew all too well. He knew what she was saying without saying it, ‘People have told me they love and care about me here, but when it is coming down to where I really will die, no one is doing anything. Do I really mean anything to them?’ Well, he knew AJ wasn’t in that category, but it still was a heart wrenching feeling. He knew there were others too, and he knew she wouldn’t want any of them to sacrifice their lives for her own.
He stopped for a moment, surprised at himself for having deciphered so much from someone he barely knew. Maybe that’s what Adra had meant when she told him that Grant Harris would not have chosen him to be the deputy director of FIB, if he didn’t believe that Gags could be THE director of FIB. Gags pushed the thought and ache that followed aside and continued to listen.
Adra didn’t know what to do…because she refused to allow someone else to make her the monster they thought she was. She wasn’t going to force anyone, she wasn’t going to put a gun to anyones head and hand them over, and she didn’t want to die a true death because she was protecting people from someone who would likely kill them. Someone she knew wanted their extermination, because he had flat out told her that while threatening her. Even the supers in the city nearly anyone would have thrown at Boris, she wasn’t considering handing over.
Some would consider that a stupid choice, yet Gagsworth found himself respecting her more because of it. He knew one day she would become the leader of her coven after her parents, or at least a major part of it in North America. Even while it was obvious she was terrified and didn’t want to die, she was determined to protect people. People that weren’t even her family, or her friends, even people who had hurt her. Their lives had value to her, and she wasn’t going to allow a terrorist force her hand. He had no idea how they were going to get her through this, but he knew from actions like this, she would be a good leader. She already was, in a lot of ways most people never noticed. Whenever he thought he had this woman figured out, some new aspect or depth would appear from her, and he couldn’t help but admire her because of it.
"Ah, so a much worse day than me,” he paused, thinking.
“I’ll do what I can about Boris for now, but I’m not going to make promises. Just do what you can to stay out of his grip." His body started to shake a bit, the burning getting worse. As it did so, he finally felt the pain meds begin to kick in, he sighed in relief.
“Thank God for pain meds.”
Adrasteia looked up, her expression changing suddenly from grief to concern.
“Pain meds?” Her eyes were looking him over him with alarm.
“Gagsworth.” A new voice, with an urgent tone. The door pushed firmly open, shoving him a bit forward, he’d forgotten to close it. Turning, he recognized the figure who had only told Gagworth to call ‘Vörðr’ entering through the door and shutting it firmly, the lock clicking. He must have been coming to visit his niece to have gotten to the apartment door on his own.
The vampire stared at him, nostrils flared, with a look of urgency. He grabbed Gagsworth by the shoulder, pulling him forward in a sudden movement.
“Hey!” Gags cringed, feeling his muscles spasm as the vampire pulled him closer, he could hear sniffing.
“Where were you? When were you wounded?” Vörðr demanded.
Gagsworth could hear Adras voice raise in protest, asking what her uncle was doing. He wished he knew himself. His head began to spin rapidly, the burning in his body getting worse. Gags felt his muscles spasm again, and his legs give out, he tried to speak but the only thing that came out was a wheeze.
Vörðr must be holding him up, he felt a sharp prick in his neck. Did the man just bite him? Silly vampire, that was an awful idea. He saw a blurred figure next to him, whom he recognized as Adra, on his other side. They were talking, but he couldn’t make out what was being said. He felt another sharp prick.
Adra wouldn’t let anyone bite him, okay well maybe if she wanted them to die. But they would learn quickly enough that trying to drink his blood was an awful idea. The burning felt stronger, all over his body, he felt afraid, and then the world went black.
He had no idea what was happening…was he dreaming? The world around him was burnt, broken, and crumbling. Everything covered in a layer of dust as well as mixed into the air. More than dust, fallout. This world had been nearly destroyed by nuclear warfare, this was the world he was born in. Home.
Gagsworth looked around in confusion, when did he get here? Pain shot through his body, dropping him to the ground. For a moment everything hurt so badly he couldn’t move. He heard the ocean, then found himself released from the spasm of pain. Looking up he shuddered hard at seeing the shoreline, and the depthless black ocean beyond it.
Getting up off the ground, he began to walk. Trying to figure out where he was and what was happening. The cityscape was a mix of brown, gray, and black colors around him. The sky was filled with a fiery vibrant orange and red light as the sun set.
A woman’s whistle and giggle caught his attention. Turning, he saw a young woman grin and make a ‘come here’ motion before disappearing into a building. He smirked, taking a step after her before stopping. Had this been him a few years earlier, he’d have gone running without a second thought after the woman. He felt it strange he didn’t want to follow for some fun. What was wrong with him?
Reproduction here was vital, the act was just that, an act that was pleasurable that created life. It helped their dwindling race survive. Nothing more. Relationships such as he’d learned about in Genesis were not a thing here, they didn’t exist. Caring for someone would get used against you, or end far worse.
Another wave of pain hit him, resulting in him falling to his knees and curling up. He wasn’t sure how long it lasted, but as soon as it stopped, he bolted forward, trying to get out of the area.
Something in the distance caught his attention, he found himself walking towards it. He wasn’t sure what it was, a structure in the sand. He stayed on the opposite side of the ocean, not daring to go near it.
As he got closer, he stopped at seeing a figure. Another woman sat on the sand, crying. Gags felt himself watch her in awe, nothing in this world was that beautiful. The figure looked up at him, he couldn’t find words for a moment.
The figure was human, but wasn’t. It was like looking at a mini sun; her body glowed, or burned, whichever it was, it was too bright to make out. She was clothed in a long white dress and veil that hid her face. She watched him with her head tilted, very slowly, she extended her hand out to him.
“Oh no! No, no, no. I’m sorry, I’m very sorry, but no I cannot help you. Helping others beyond basic things gets us killed remember?” His instincts suddenly pushed him away from whatever it was she wanted.
She looked so sad. He couldn’t help her. He wouldn’t.
“I’m sorry, no. You know I can’t help you.”
The figure watched him, silently going back to crying. Watching her was causing a pain he didn’t understand inside of him, all he understood was he wanted it to stop.
“Please, I…what do you need?”
The ethereal figure looked back up, making no sound. She pointed to Gagsworth, then stood up, and turned towards the structure he had been going towards. She looked back at him.
“You want me to follow?” The woman began to walk, he quickly followed…
“What is going on? What do you need?”
The figure stopped so quickly he nearly ran into her. She moved a finger in front of his eyes, blinding him for a second.
“You want to show me something? Something you want me to see?” The woman nodded and continued walking. He continued to follow, the ground shifting to sand and debris as they moved closer to the mysterious structure.
As they walked up to it, he recognized what it was, a ferris wheel. He knew they stood up normally, there was one in Genesis. But here, all of them had fallen down, and served no purpose. The woman walked towards the structure and pointed at a scrap of fabric sticking out of the sand. Gagsworth moved closer then crouched down.
He began to brush away the sand, revealing more fabric. He looked up at the woman, who continued to look down at him, her face hidden by light. Gags sighed and started to dig with his hands, as he bumped against something he froze. This was a body. He looked up at the woman, and she pointed again at the figure below him.
Gags swore, but a need arose in him. Whoever this was, he needed to see it. He continued to dig with his hands, and brush away the sand until what felt like a head was uncovered by the sand. He pulled a pocket knife from his belt and slit the cloth open. As he pulled the fabric apart he froze in terror.
His own dead face stared back at him, eyes lifeless and cloudy. This face though, it was younger, several years at least. This was the boy who robbed banks for fun, who followed Joker. Gagsworth reeled back, looking at the woman in horror.
“What is this?” He demanded. “What kind of sick joke is this?”
The woman raised her head, a regal presence radiating from her. She took a step forward, and touched his chest. Instinctively Gagsworth looked down at himself. He was wearing his FIB suit. That, that couldn’t be right. He struggled to breathe as he felt his heartbeat rise, feeling the thrumbing of his heartbeat throughout his body.
Looking back down in a panic he realized there was someone else in the sand next to him. The woman knelt down and easily moved the sand away to reveal another wrapped head.
Whoever was in that shroud, he didn’t want her to uncover. His shout was ignored, as the woman broke the shroud with her fingers, pulling the cloth back. A scream caught in his throat as his eyes filled with tears as the face of Grant Harris lay before him. The man’s eyes were closed, his expression peaceful. Gags’ hand went to his mouth, struggling to keep himself from sobbing out loud.
He looked at the figure in anger and pain. “What is this? Why are you showing me this? What are you telling me?”
With a horrified realization, Gags grabbed his FIB ID badge and turned it so he could look at it. He felt himself freeze, at the same time his entire body was pulsing with his heartbeat.
He screamed at the figure as tears ran down his face. “No, NO. I CAN’T DO THIS. I’M NOT READY FOR THIS. THIS IS A MISTAKE.”
As he screamed the last bit of sunlight faded, bathing the world in darkness. As it did, the wheel did something it never had done before; it lit up. He stopped and stared at it in confusion as the fallen wheel lit up in a pattern of colors that began to dance and swirl. He found himself dumbfounded staring at it. This shouldn’t be happening. It was beautiful, but it shouldn’t be happening, not here.
As he watched, the wheel began to shift, moving upward into the position it was supposed to be in, and it began to slowly spin. The area around him was changing too, colors emerging from the dull woods, lights appearing.
Not here. The words echoed through his head as his body pulsed with his heartbeat. I’m not here, am I?
Gagsworth looked at the figure in front of him as his surroundings changed to one he did know, a place he’d actually been rather recently. The figure remained unable to be made out entirely, but something became clearer as he looked at her. He started to be able to see her eyes, they went from a burning yellow white, to a blood red. He stared in confusion, he knew those eyes…
Just as recognition came over him, his body vibrating from his heartbeat, the world went black again.
Gagsworth opened his eyes, he felt like he was floating, perhaps in a dream. He blinked again in confusion, seeing four red dots in front of him. Blinking more he tried to focus… no not dots…eyes?
The blurs around him started to slowly focus and he found himself starting at two familiar vampires. The woman looked worried, and the man stared at him with an expression of shock and confusion.
“Am I dead?”
“You should be, but no,” Vörðr replied. “You’re feeling the effects of painkillers and anesthetic I gave you.”
“Am I at Pillbox?” Gags groaned unhappily at the thought.
“No…there wasn’t time to call anyone else. Even if we had, you’d be dead. They would have had no antidote. Though I am sure the medical staff here will want to check you over once they learn of this.”
“Congratulations Mr. Gagsworth,” Vörðr’s voice held a hint of his dry sarcasm. The man using humor made Gags feel a bit better about whatever had just happened, “You’re the only person in 3,000 years of this poison’s existence to ever survive it.”
To Be Continued…