Tabula Rasa [Closed]

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Gestalt
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Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Gestalt » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:31 am

The boy blinked twice, something stung. His hand slowly reached up, his jagged claw stretching towards his face. To tear, to rip, to rend, inhuman muscles swelling behind a dense suffocating shell. It was crushing him, strangling him, his movements were stiff, constrained. He had to break free, he had to break ou-

The boy blinked thrice, his eyes... stung. His hand reached up slowly, softly resting against his cheek. Cold. Wet. There were... tears? He'd been crying, he was crying. His face was blank, more confused then anguished, yet still, he shed tears. He was confused, he'd been sad, enough to cry, yet it was a baseless sorrow. A severe wave of melancholy. His chest felt tight, clenched, every breath labored. His shoulders shook as he shivered slightly. It felt like he should be sad, yet he couldn't tell why. His causeless sadness hurt, it confused him, it... scared him. He was afraid.

The boy wiped his eyes with the back of his palm, looking around him. Looking around the car, and the window as the cityscape fading into rural areas. That's right... he was being driven... He was being taken somewhere he'd be tried. Held accountable, for what he'd done... what he'd done? Of course... Morro, he could never forget. He wouldn't let him forget, the dreams wouldn't let him forget. Everything he'd done there. Only for him to run away from it all. He was done running now, he was done hiding. They'd come for him, and he'd finally realized they were right. That was good. He was going to face it now.

His mind felt muddied and slow, tired and fatigued. As if he was just waking up, yet slowly and surely it was coming back to him. He looked to his side, to the driver's seat. A man in black armor, the damage was recent, he'd been in a fight. That was right, people had come to stop him, he didn't know why, but that was over... the choice had been made. His name was... Flint, right, Sergeant Flint. Military... or no... not quite. Deterrence, that was it. They'd been at Morro, the good guys, defenders, they'd tried to stop him, he'd hurt them too. That was why... he deserved this.

"Ummm... Sergeant Flint... right? How long do think it's going to take?"
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Re: Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Deterrence » Sat Apr 06, 2019 3:38 am


"Little while longer, kid," Arno replied, one hand on the wheel. They were in an armored Deterrence SUV, but it was empty save for Arin and the Sergeant. He'd requested the vehicle be deposited nearby and then that the original driver find his own way out, so that Arin didn't feel surrounded. Sure, there were lots of eyes watching them, but giving the boy some space mattered.

Arno's helmet was off, but the rest of his armor still clung to his body. He'd wiped away the soil and grass on his left shoulder, where he'd hit the ground hard. One eye was constantly in the rearview mirror, half-expecting the Society to be bearing down on them once Invictus changed his mind.

Or not.

Better give him a more specific answer.

"I'm driving you to a facility in Nevada. Secure. I've been talking to Doc Rushmore about getting you a lawyer."

Flint pulled onto the interstate.

"Listen. I tried to kill you in Morro. That guy - that was me. But I buy that you weren't in control."

He thought about putting on the radio. Maybe in a little bit.

"Sorry for that, kid. And this. All the crap you've been put through. That I've put you through. But I'll make it up to you. Things're gonna look up soon."


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Re: Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Gestalt » Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:11 am

"Nevada..."

The boy half spoke, half-muttered before trailing off. He slightly nodded his head, quite a while away, but that was fine. It was more time to think, time to prepare himself. Good that they were taking him out of Californa, to a secure location, isolated, somewhere he'd be away from everyone. That was for the best. It was the only way everyone would be safe.

There wasn't a limiter anymore, all the precariously contained energy was freed. Barely held within him and constantly seconds away from detonating. He was... a time bomb. One thought, one wrong mood, it only took one, one moment he didn't keep everything suppressed. It had been enough last time, it would be enough again. Even now, it felt like walking on glass, like something might snap, like it might come back, like he might break something... he hated that part of himself.

"Dr. Rushmore? I've... heard of her." He paused, that wasn't what he was going to say. Then what? That he'd met her? No... of course not, why would he have seen her before. Just a name, and the knowledge of her work. "Or, at least of what she's done."

The boy looked over towards the Sargeant, a look of slight shock on his face as he heard the mans words. An expression that lingered for just a second before it slowly faded. He averted his gaze and turned away, shaking his head.

"No... You don't need to apologize. You were doing your job, what you had to do. What you wouldn't have had to if I... If I'd fought a bit harder, if I hadn't let him in, I could have stopped it. There were moments in the blur, seconds I was in control, I should have ended it when I had the chance." The boy's hands tightened up for a few brief seconds, his shoulders shaking slightly. A shadow passing over his face before the moment was gone and his attention refocused out the window.

"You don't have to feel bad for me. No one's... put me through this. It was just me. I brought it upon myself. And anyone else who happened to be close. Don't feel sorry for me, they should get the sympathy... they didn't deserve it."
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Re: Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Deterrence » Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:56 pm


Arno glanced away from the road for a second, his eyes wandering over to Arin. Kid's shoulders were shaking as he stared out the window, out towards fields of grass, light hills, sunshine. Arno refocused his eyes on the road.

"Maybe."

There was no compulsion to keep talking; Arno was fine with silence. But he went on.

"Deserve's got little to do with it. It's the Wild West out there. I once told someone that it wasn't like that, but it is. No order left in the world, save for the order we impose on it. Everyone's got different perspectives. Makes you wonder what's legitimate nowadays. How strong you feel about things, I guess. That's how you know if you're a good guy. If you've got empathy."

So where does that leave a guy who doesn't feel shit? he wondered, but kept the thought to himself. Instead he just sighed.

"I know you've got empathy, kid."


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Re: Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Gestalt » Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:16 am

The kid looked back from the window, turning his gaze directly towards Flint.

Is that all it takes then? To be one of the good guys? Just a bit of empathy? Understanding how much pain I've caused, the families I've torn apart, the men I've killed… that makes me a good guy?” No… it couldn't, not yet. Empathy by itself wasn't enough, action was the only proof he could trust. He didn't know if there was enough he could do that would make him a good man, but it was that empathy that told him he had to try.

“No order but the one we impose…” The boy repeated, thinking on the statement for a moment. “So then… do you think the order you, the order Deterrence is trying to impose, is the right one? Or at least the one that ensures the most good is done?”

The inquiry was an honest one, rather than a rhetorical question that echoed the growing distrust or outright aggression that many felt towards the first Hypercorporation. It was just a simple question from a boy who had never gotten a chance to ask many of those.
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Re: Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Deterrence » Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:39 am


Arno shrugged. The questions were good ones.

"Didn't say that's all it took. You can have too much empathy. So much that you lose yourself in others. Then you might as well be dead. Just a mirror of those around you."

He checked his left mirror and pulled over into the far lane.

"Thing about order is that it's all in the mind. An illusion. Or an attitude, maybe."

Arno's brow furrowed.

"Any order I bring when I do what I do is just a bonus. People who talk during fights...they're just talking to themselves. Convincing themselves they're right, hyping themselves up. I do it too. But I don't think I need to anymore. It's just flavor over the alcohol."

He glanced over at Arin.

"I don't think right and wrong can be put into words very well. I just try to follow my conscience where it leads me. I think Deterrence is good for society. For individual people, I can't say."


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Re: Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Gestalt » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:38 am

"So then where's the line?" If there was one. "And how long do you spend trying to find it?" The boy didn't really expect an answer to that one. More just thinking aloud. Trying his best to make sense of it all. It didn't seem all that possible, but he knew that. It was just the process that helped, taking everything apart and putting it back together. Asking every question and examining every part. It was... cathartic. Helped keep his mind at rest.

He couldn't help but notice something as Flint continued to speak, how he sounded... disenchanted. Not quite cold and cynical, just apathetic. About what he was doing, about why he was doing it. For someone who clearly put so much into what he did, back in Morro, and even moments ago. To hear him say that order didn't really matter to him, struck him as strange. Willing to put his life on the line, for nothing greater than where his conscience led him. It wasn't what he'd expect to hear from a soldier.

He didn't really know anything about the man he was riding with. Nothing more than a name and a rank really. He had no idea where the man came from, what he did, or even who he really was. It didn't really make sense for him to be surprised by his attitude, but still... Maybe it just didn't add up to him. The way the man acted, and the way he spoke.

"Why... are you doing this?" The kid started, before realizing that wasn't really enough. "All of it I mean, coming to find me before anyone else could. Now taking me to Nevada and getting me an attorney. Putting in all this effort," He paused for a fraction of a second, looking at the man's dirty armor and thinking back to what had just happened. It really didn't take long, did it? Just his presence was toxic. "just to give me a better shot of making it through this mess. Is this really the best thing for society? Or is this your conscience driving you?"
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Re: Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Deterrence » Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:00 am


Arno's eyes remained on the road as he considered Arin's question. It was a long empty stretch now, with a gas station up ahead. The grass had turned to stone and sand. It all blurred on the outside. The car never drifted to any one side; its path was straight as an arrow. No flinching.

"Don't know. Felt right."

What an unsatisfying answer, he thought. For the both of them.

"You, uh, want a snack, or a drink or...somethin'? Truck stop up ahead," he said, pointing to a sign. Good thing, too. He could get out and step out of his armor.

A bottle of water would be a good thing to have, too.


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Re: Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Gestalt » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:10 am

The boy didn't say much after that, he just sat in silence watching the world race by. His mind was hardly at rest, but there wasn't anything more he wanted to say.

He only looked up when Flint spoke to him directly, prompting him to look away from his window and towards the sign. A truck stop, something oddly mundane given everything.

He wasn't hungry, least he didn't feel hungry. Too busy thinking about other things to worry about his basic needs. However he could eat something, he probably should eat something. So slowly, he nodded.

"Sure. Just like a bar or something though, or even just some water."

The drive was long and he knew he might need to eat a bit later, but his stomach didn't really feel up for anything that heavy right now. Just something to snack on, eating for the sake of having something to do. Something more than just sitting and thinking.

"I'd... rather not get out though. If that's okay." There was a chance other people would be inside, something he'd rather avoid. Even if it was just the cashier anything could happen. It was safer if he stayed in the armored van, for everyone.
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Re: Tabula Rasa [Closed]

Post by Deterrence » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:29 am


"Yeah."

Simple response for a simple question. Something was boiling inside the kid, but there wasn't much to be done about it. Just wait it out, listen to what he had to say when he decided to say it. Maybe a little water and something sweet to eat would help him unwind a little. Arno didn't like the hunch in his shoulders, the slight sway to his mannerisms, the way he didn't look him in the eye most of the time. Something had been done to this kid, and not just by him.

He parked the vehicle with precision in a spot near the door, emerging from the driver's side door with a degree of lethargy informed by the heavy armor he wore. Casually stripping off bits of the metal carapace, which he tossed into the back of the truck, he eventually stripped down to his underwear, the California heat oppressive if he didn't keep his internal cooling system on.

Pulling on a standard pair of jeans, he paid no mind to passers by, dragging a Deterrence t-shirt over his muscled upper body. A glare was all they'd get, soon obscured by a pair of black sunglasses.

Inside, the cashier stammered over his words, a moment of it can't be preceding the tiring astonishment that came with seeing a "celebrity" in the flesh.

"You're the guy from Peru!" the kid said, like it meant something. He was thanking him now. What for? Asking him how he'd done it - clamoring for an autograph - more questions.

"Don't need a bag." That was all Arno said in return.

Emerging from the stop with his arms full of bottled water and protein bars, he pulled open the door with his foot, sliding into the driver's seat and passing what he held to Arin. Twisting open a bottle of water, he took a drink in silence.


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