Portal Breach: The Collision of Worlds :: v.4.0


    Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Fear on Fri Mar 13, 2015 1:48 am

    And were you half-lidding your eyes to also concentrate? Language wasn't the issue and neither could it be resolved through a simple fusion of multiple consciousnesses. It was us versus them, sinner versus Judge, the naivety of youth versus the burden of wisdom. Judge Fear could not do any fancy tricks with his eyes, no narrowing and no disinterested gazes, but he didn't them. A polished badge was good enough and he was going to let its presence speak for him. Seemed the alien needed a reminder, as well. "I do believe the proper title isss 'sssir'," he rasped. You will be punished accordingly, but later. "And yesss, I am aware that her agony extendsss deeply. However, you fret over nothing. If, let usss sssay, the femme hasss indeed reached a point of ssstagnation, thisss permanence, would ssshe not be receptive of your presssence? Think about that, cadet, and realize that there isss ssstill hope for Livewire yet." And as for meditation...

    "No, that would be... folly," the ghoul answered, having given it thought. "Her mind would collapssse inward, unable to progressss passst itsss own demonsss. Ssshe firssst needsss ssstability and then guidance. Are not buildingsss founded from the ground up?" Unless it was an alien world or a method having proven itself vastly superior, constructing a building from its ceiling was usually ill-advised. No clue how Kev's people managed their construction, though. They probably lived in dirt huts and cut the heads off alien chickens.

    You know, tribal customs.

    A curious thought, but not one that ultimately benefited either party. Ghostly eyes caught wind of that scrawny alien and they didn't yield, malaise settling around Kev's precious life. "Greetingsss," Judge Fear hissed. Remember the above tidbit regarding punishment? Yes, well, the undead fiend hadn't forgotten. Ah, finally something to cherish. A rotten fingernail pointed downward. "Drop and give me fifteen, cadet, for disssressspecting your inssstructor. Your count and no resssting." With all that food in your... belly? Do you have a belly? If not, you now have an honourary belly and it was filled with food. Food that may have been partially cooked, but you needn't worry about that. There were far worse fates than food poisoning, after all.
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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Kev on Fri Mar 13, 2015 2:25 am

    "I do believe the proper title isss 'sssir',"

    Tulsit. The alien stiffened and stared at Fear with widened eyes, but thankfully that was all that Fear said on the matter. It was just a slip. Maybe the Judge was giving him a little mercy because of that? Either way, he kept the correction in mind as he responded "I don't know, sir...there have been a few times in the past where she wasn't very receptive to my presence..."

    “We don’t need anyone or anything anymore.”

    It was quick, brief, but a memory flickered in the alien and he winced as he remembered her face. Her's and Skyler's, the both of them were just so...blank. They were still sorting through their feelings, being abandoned, and they didn't want any help. Not back then. Kev's fingers curled up and he let out a heavy sigh. "S-she is receptive to my presence now, though...so those moments were her being near her...precipice. Right, sir?" The two of them could have been lost so easily. Lost like everyone else. Somehow they had managed to jerk themselves out of it, and remain. Much like himself. "There is still hope for her..." As long as there was hope for her, he would be there for her.

    Now what was this about meditation being folly? Kev blinked and looked up at the Judge, tension leaving his body steadily. Meditation would just leave her alone with her inner demons, and she would collapse. "...Oh." Ouch. Instead, the Judge prescribed stability and guidance. That would be needed first and foremost. "You are correct, sir. One must start with the base and work their way up!" He ought to know after helping to make that barn! And as for Kryptonistanian construction...dirt huts in a rain-forest?

    Outside, the Judge hissed his greeting and Kev tipped his body forward in a slight bow. "Greetings, sir." He was ready to begin his mental exercises, but much to his surprise, the Judge indicated downwards and demanded fifteen push-ups. "Disrespecting you, sir?" ... "...O-oh. Right. I apologize, sir." He sighed, a deeper one this time, and assumed the position. No mercy today, it was Sir or no Sir! Mmm... "Down, up, one." Might as well get the discipline over with. That was going to be a demerit for the day. He would have to make sure he didn't get anymore or else he would never get to see what the big prize was! Push-up after push-up was counted, the alien's body moving up and down. "Down, up...fifteen." There, the last of them. Kev picked himself back up and stood at attention again. "Finished, sir."


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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Fear on Fri Mar 13, 2015 2:48 am

    Wide-eyed and scared. That's a good look on you, cadet. Do it more often.

    "Time," was Judge Fear's reasoning. "Time isss of no importance to the righteousss, though it can be utilized to heal passst grievancesss. At the epicenter of her trauma, the departure of both Ssswindle and Overcassst, it wasss natural for both femme and cyborg to dissstance themssselvesss from the outssside world. Why not, hmm? It wasss the outssside world that harmed them, that took their preciousss family and tore it apart. Woundsss do not normally heal in a day, cadet. Sssometimesss recovery isss a ssslow, agonizing processsss." Much like eradicating the sinful masses, isn't that right?

    "S-she is receptive to my presence now, though...so those moments were her being near her...precipice. Right, sir?"

    Kev's body language was read very carefully, from the distorting grimace of his scales to the curling of his anxious fingers. The Dark Judge gazed at the alien thoughtfully and, perhaps, in a slightly predatory manner. Old temptations were sometimes hard to ignore, alas. "Mm... Receptive now, yesss. But perhapsss not in the future, where  it isss uncertain. Livewire isss a delicate individual; easssily influenced and plagued by... fear. Fear of disssappointing her loved onesss and fear of them leaving her becaussse of the misssguided notion that ssshe may not be good enough for their company." The mind of a frightened child was not always hard to puzzle, and the ghoul had spent enough time within Livewire's psyche to discover enough. Nevertheless, there was still hope. The undead fiend would not deny this and a creaky pop traveled down his spine, Judge Fear's posture straightening. "Ssshe isss receptive to you and myssself, but I mussst caution you..." he spoke. "Asss happy asss ssshe may ssseem and asss innocent, one mussst be vigilant with their thoughtsss, wordsss, and actionsss. Ssshe isss impresssionable, asss already ssstated. A child aiming to pleassse. Asss mature adultsss, cadet, we have resssponsssibilitiesss." And yes, dirt huts in a rain forest. Why not? Judge Fear could easily see naked green aliens running around with their headless chickens, throwing mud and feces at their bitter neighbours.

    In any event, the push-ups. A pleased hum escaped the Dark Judge's rancid throat and he delighted in Kev's toil. Fifteen push-ups may not be much, but a punishment was a punishment. The next time he repeated the same mistake, the alien can guarantee on the consequence to escalate.

    "Good, that isss enough," he nodded. Now, then... Mental exercises, correct? A bitter, nauseating chill blanketed the area, unnatural and suffocating, as the Dark Judge pooled his sickly energies toward one focus. You ought to know this unseen presence very well by now. "Like before, cadet, you are to employ the ussse of your ssshielding techniquesss. Failure will be met with unpleasssant resssultsss. It isss time to begin." That was the only warning Kev had before Judge Fear launched his psychic attack forward, attempting to slam into the alien's mind and render him useless.

    Now, cadet, now! Don't let those malignant tendrils burrow into your mind!
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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Kev on Fri Mar 13, 2015 3:58 am

    There were so many traumas in the lives of Livewire and Skyler, but the loss of Swindle and Overcast was probably the one that hurt them the most. The one that really struck them in their cores. The carpet had been yanked out beneath them and it had shaken them, before they retreated from the world and sought refuge and help only in each other. The only one they could trust at the time, was each other. It had been almost two years since that day, and the blank faces they wore were definitely no longer there. At least, not that he had seen. The wound was not gone, perhaps now it was only a scar, but it had still healed, with time. Kev nodded his head in agreement. Recovery could be slow and agonizing, as he had seen and experienced during his own training. "It was natural, yes...I'm just glad they eventually came back to us." That they didn't reject the outside world forever. They still had people, even if those people sometimes got busy with their own lives.

    Not good enough? The idea that Livewire was afraid of losing people because she wasn't good enough definitely had merit. Losing people by disappointing them...after all, when Livewire confessed to Kev about what happened with Shiro, she had been distressed and scared. She was terrified that the reveal of what she'd done to Shiro was going to make Kev leave her or hate her. But how could he? Even though he didn't agree with what she'd done, he understood why. Now more then ever, he understood why. She had done what she did, for him. Because she loved him and wanted to protect him. Not the best way to protect him, yes...but it didn't mean he would hate her for it. Judge Fear's bones cracked as he spoke, Livewire was very receptive to Kev and Fear, but this might not always be good. She was receptive and...impressionable. She wanted to please them, make them happy, keep them from being disappointed and leaving her. They had to be the adults who made sure this didn't get out of hand. "I understand, sir. I will be responsible, and make sure I don't lead her to do anything rash or...sinful." And Kev's kind hadn't ran around naked in several hundred years, thank you very much!

    Judge Fear seemed to enjoy the push-ups Kev had to do, no doubt delighting in giving him a bit of pain after the domestic display also known as lunch. He was in 'instructor' mode again. Time to go back to 'cadet' mode. The Judge deemed his push-ups to be done, and a familiar chill blanketed the area. Bitter and stifling, it was uncomfortable. Though, the alien knew how to fix that, didn't he? By now, he knew the drill. The alien focused, and created his shield, the white bubble circling around to protect him from the aura which soon became an attack. Far from shrinking in his bubble and curling away from the attack, Kev stood tall within his bubble and looked out from his bubble. The castle of Mr. Dark, and a flash of yellow eyes. He remembered this, and he remembered that it was the past. Several years in the past, in fact. It had been his first death, yes, but the alien had faced many deaths since then. This wasn't something to be feared. He stood tall and let the experience wash over his mind, letting it flow. It held no power over him anymore.

    The apparition changed, into a giant hulking beast of red. It wielded a sword, using it along with a mighty fist to tear down the barriers of the shield. Kev did not flinch, and instead focused on reinforcing the walls to combat his swings. The demon was larger than Kev, a very formidable looking opponent, but he wasn't real. Simply a memory, and the experiences related to this memory no longer ruled him. His mistake no longer made him afraid to use his power. He would just use it with a bit more thought, to make sure he wouldn't be harmed from his own command. The shield withstood the barrage before eventually the shade disappeared. Kev knew what was going to come next though, and he adjusted his position, leaning forward to place his palms against the bubble. Whether it actually did anything to help, he was unsure, but it definitely made him feel better, stronger.

    Crooked doctors appeared around the shield, wielding all sorts of mangled and sharp instruments of torture. Obscene and a little frightening, but Kev closed his eyes calmly and focused, allowing this experience to wash over his mind as well. The pain attached to these memories was just a memory. They couldn't hurt him because their time was over. The pain from these doctors hadn't even lasted very long, in the grand scheme of his life. Not even a day. So why should he let the experience rule him and make him afraid? The doctors swung their devices and attempted to pierce the bubble, meaning to shatter the shield and get to the alien within. The shield did not give however, not even a single splinter from their attempts. Eventually they too, would disappear. The physical woes were easiest to weather. After that first week, they were hardly worth the bat of an eye. There were more challenging attacks on the horizon...


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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Fear on Fri Mar 13, 2015 6:28 am

    What happened regarding the girls' caretakers was tragic, this could not be debated. But was not existence, and therein life, a tragedy constantly in the making? Ergo, to shelter anyone, let alone a child, was a fool's quest; the myth of Sisyphus in and of itself. "Do not believe yourssself out of the fray yet, cadet. Both the femme and her sssissster are worksss of impermanence, jussst asss you are. They may ssswing to prosssperity or they may ssswing to ruin. Thisss, however, isss ultimately not for you to decide." Qué será, será. It was not within the Dark Judge's nature, nor jurisdiction, to facilitate the destiny of others, only their judgement. The sooner Kev submitted himself to a powerless role in fate's wheel, the easier it will be for him to accept the fluctuating universe around him. "Yesss, sssee to it that you do, cadet," he rasped. "Her fate liesss sssquarely in your handsss; I am merely an eternal force made manifessst, sssworn to my righteousss duty." You, however, could relate to the femme on a level Judge Fear never can. Make the most of it.

    Moving forward, it was anticipated by now that Kev deflected the ghoul's initial psi-attack with flying colours. They were, after all, merely memories; fading ghosts of an upsetting, yet waning, time. The apparitions faded and no longer did the alien feel the very peripheries of his mind besieged. For now, anyway. "Mm, a sssuccessssful attempt," commented Judge Fear. The alien was cognizant of the fact that praise might as well be nonexistent, perhaps rarer than any precious, coveted gem. "You have managed to overcome and embrace thessse inconveniencesss; thessse revenantsss of the mind. Now, we ssshall continue with the lessssson."

    It was time, cadet, to experience the challenge you so desired.

    K-Kev... You said things would be a-all right, Kev...

    Do you remember him? Do you remember the little boy now standing before you, his eyes wide and timid? Of course you do... How could you forget this child? How could you forget about Rhys? Look at him, Kev. Look. At. Him. You told him that things were going to be okay. You told him that there was nothing to worry about. You told him not to fret over his impending death. You did that, Kev. You. You told the boy a lie and he took it to his grave.

    I trusted you... I believed in you...

    Where is he now, Kev!? Where is Rhys now!?

    But it didn't stop there. Oh, it never stopped there. In the hazy gloom of regret appeared several murky silhouettes, eight in total and varying in their shapes and sizes. Do you recognize these figures, Kev? Perhaps you needed a brief refresher...


    Do you hear them, Kev? Do you hear their words reverberating within that skull of yours, their daggers twisting into your back? Fitting, considering you had done the same to THEM!

    Have you conquered these as well?
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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Kev on Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:41 am

    Alas, a good point. If someone that was a big part of their life were to disappear, Zurg perhaps, or even Kev himself...it might be enough to swing them back into that feeling of retracting from the world. Tulsit, maybe a handful more disappearances in general would be enough. And it wasn't anything Kev could decide or choose for them, ultimately it'd be their choice. Not exactly fun..powerlessness never was. The alien did jerk a bit, and stare at the Judge's reply. "My hands?" Why Kev's? Wasn't Fear the more influential of the two of them? The strongest? The wisest? Why would her fate lie squarely in Kev's hands? Because he'd known her longer? Kev glanced down at his hands, trying to understand how powerful this was. Her fate...in his hands. The first reaction was to shield her with them, hide her from the troubles of the world, but that was folly. No...with these hands, he would pick her up, and lift her so she wouldn't fall. If her fate was in his hands, then by the Gods he was going to try and make it a good fate!

    Surprisingly, the Judge spoke highly of Kev's first attempt, deeming it a success. The physical woes used to pain and frighten him so, but once he had been taught to conjure this bubble, it was easier to overcome the experiences. To embrace his first death, being stabbed through the chest, being operated on and sliced into. They were bad, yes, but they were in the past. Thinking about them was no longer like touching a hot pan and being burned. Although these exercises were once something he dreaded, he now embraced it as another part of training. More than anything, he liked to compare how far he could get. If he could conquer every part, every trauma, every attack...he would be proving himself to be stronger. Wiser. Better. Not just proving it to Fear either, but to himself.

    The first was Rhys, a small figure appearing before the bubble. The hair style was distinct, and by now the voice was very familiar. Each day, he would say the same thing. Kev kept his palms flat against the bubble's surface, body language relaxed as he stared back through the bubble. "Yes. I said everything was going to be alright. I was wrong. I wanted to make you feel better, and I never expected that they were going to kill you. Reprimand you, maybe but kill you...?" The alien shook his head slowly, voice steady. "I was wrong. And you're no longer here. There is nothing I can do about this now. Nobody can. But it isn't my fault that you died." The memories associated with Rhys, and his death, washed over the alien. He clung to none of it, merely obtaining wisdom where he could and allowing it to transpire in his memories as it did so many years ago. There was no longer any guilt, merely an acceptance that the boy had died, and that it wasn't Kev's fault.

    Next up was a tall, blocky figure joined by a curvy one, a married couple who they had been talking about only minutes before. Swindle and Overcast, who's representations here both regarded the alien inside the shield like he were a mere insect. Useless, something that they didn't care about. The words rolled off of his back. "I'm not useless, and there was a time where the two of you did care about me. You are just the reflections of my own doubts...of my self-esteem." The words they spoke were empty, neither of them had ever said anything like that to him. They were merely feeding Kev a self-fulfilling prophecy. That people he loved never really cared about him. They were words of fear, and a fear that made no sense at that. Why should he fear these words? He could accept them as a reflection of his worries and fears, but to get bent out of shape because the words were coming out of their mouths? Not today.

    The next silhouettes clear through the bubble. Both carried with them some arrogance, and one in particular was skinny with a giant head. Their words were heard, and Kev's fingers did twitch for a moment, though that was the most reaction they were going to get. One was disgusted and the other denounced him. A bond of brotherhood, they all had established. Kev had made his mistake, attaching himself to these people. Letting the relationship fester until the idea of breaking away seemed scary and impossible. Though each of them did still incite a bit more emotion then the rest of the silhouettes up until now had, the alien kept a clear head and breathed through it. He accepted that his relationships with these men were flawed, mistakes that he was not to repeat. They came, they left their mark on people, and they were gone. In the end, they were impermanent. A piece of the past, they were no longer in his life and no longer a problem.

    One figure floated in the air blithely and one simply stood tall, short haired and willowy. Both of them spoke of hate, towards himself. One hated him for changing him, the other hated him for being unable to love or realize her love. "I never meant to change you. Merely connect with you like a friend. And I was unable to recognize how you felt about me. I was also unable to love you. You deserve someone who can love you completely, and genuinely. I cannot. This is just...how it is." Love was better when it wasn't forced. If he had forced himself to love her, it wouldn't have done anything but trap them both in a loveless relationship that would have poisoned their friendship. The situation with Sonia was not ideal, but it was the facts. Nothing could be changed about it now, and there was no use crying about it. They were still friends and that was enough. Kev's gaze shifted to the floating figure. "I don't think you hate me. We were...close. You left me, but we were still close." Kefka was more fears being shot back at the alien, fears sewn by Ridley himself! Unfounded fears.

    The last two figures were a couple of humanoids, one bespectacled and one womanly with long hair. A waste of a bond, that did sting a little to hear. Yet Terra herself never made him feel that way. She had been a warm, welcoming woman. "You weren't a waste to me." He looked back on his time bonded to her warmly. It had its moments, much like the bond with Fear had its moments, but for the most part...the feelings he got from his bond with her were remembered highly. The bond was even better than the one he had with Arius, though nowhere near what he had with Fear. She was gone, and that wasn't a great feeling, but he could accept the reality of it. She was gone, and he had to accept that. Embrace it. Terra was gone and there was nothing he could do about it. And that was fine. Lastly, was Blade. The boy with the crush. Why didn't Kev love him? "You didn't deserve it." Was the smooth reply. It wasn't even meant vindictively. Blade was a friend, but the alien couldn't love him anymore than he could force love for Sonia. Pity was not the same as love, and so Blade couldn't be loved by Kev. The alien closed his eyes and focused, focused on the relationship he'd had with Blade. The good, and the bad. And he focused on how the boy was gone. Kev couldn't have done anything about that. He might as well try to catch the sun with a butterfly net. If Blade died and wanted to stay dead, Kev couldn't do anything to change his mind or make the situation better. The facts were the there, plain and simple. Not ideal, not great. But it was the truth. To be accepted, not shunned or feared. Kev took a deep breath and let it wash over him, accepting things as they were.


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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Fear on Fri Mar 13, 2015 6:15 pm

    Your hands, cadet. Influence, strength, wisdom... Even if the Dark Judge was all of these things, he lacked the very thing you managed to have in spades: empathy. Genuine empathy; from the soul and not the darkest reaches of the psi-flux, where it could easily be manipulated for ulterior purposes. Was it not healthier for the femme that you, cadet, are placed at the forefront of her care? Or do you truly believe that Livewire's spark was better protected in the ghoul's diligent claws, regardless of his corrupting spirit and judicial agenda? Ruminate upon this carefully, but not at this moment.

    There was a lesson to complete.

    What a difference six weeks of torment makes, day after painful day of being subjected to one's deepest, darkest fears. No more did the haunts of Kev's past relations lord over the alien; from the vampire child to Blade himself, their previous leverage crumbled into mere words. The breath of dying regrets.

    It was a liberating feeling, wasn't it? To know that one had the innate power to shove aside their demons and become twice the individual they were.

    As with before, like the physical woes, Judge Fear's asphyxiating presence withered. He could no sooner penetrate the alien's psychic shield than he could perform miracles. One-by-one did Kev's troubles fade, their voices lapsing into a distressing silence. Just you and him now, cadet... Just you and him. Are you prepared for the third act of this little play? Of course you are, though success was not guaranteed. The blood running through your veins turned to ice and the nauseating aroma of death encased you in its bittersweet unease. Anxiety raced through your mind as the worst of your regrets were brought to bear!

    BAM, BAM!

    In one second there was the asphyxiating darkness of the regretful mind, and in the next... chaos. Explosions rocked the world, the luscious grass of Kev's backyard having been replaced by cold hard asphalt. Towering skyscrapers gleamed overhead, but so too did billowing plumes of black, angry smoke. He was in the city... In a city besieged.

    Do you remember this, Kev? Do you remember, as Phazon consumed the world? Should the alien glance down upon his own hands and think to embrace himself, realize, Kev, that you had become the very thing you feared... a monster. Surely you have not forgotten what it was like to be powerful? As the blue creep slowly devoured the city streets, people screaming and running for their lives, not everyone would be so unfortunate of a slow, agonizing death. Before the alien were three figures running towards him; emerald scales, khaki strips, wide frightened eyes... They shouted to him, their little legs carrying them as fast as they could, but -

    BOOM!

    ...to no avail. Dark-green blood splattered upon Kev, his children torn asunder before his very eyes. They were not the only ones to suffer, however. In the din of mournful sobs and panicked shrieks, Portal City on the verge of collapse, a tiny figure struggled against the Phazon. "Baaaa...!" A fleece as soft as goose's down and as colourful as the juiciest berries clashed against radiating azures, little black legs trembling. "Baaa...!" the poor animal cried again, body overwrought with unimaginable agony. For several moments did it pathetically rise and stumble again, each attempt more draining than the last. Phazon ate away at the sheep's coat, the corrosive substance eating its way down to the flesh, and soon the air began to smell of roasting meat. It fell onto its side one last time and did not rise, eyes pleadingly directed at Kev. "B-Baaa..." Help me... Help me, please... Heavy, laboured breathing transitioned into wheezy rasps, skin and muscle seemingly melting in layers... H-Help... m... m-me... A single gasp escaped the sheep's slackening mouth and thus perished Mary. She sunk into the Phazon, gone.

    Why didn't you help her?

    In the corner of Kev's vision walked a pale woman, her hair a striking lavender and in her golden eyes... sorrow. She stepped into the Phazon, willingly, and knelt before the very spot Mary had once been. Pale hands reached into the insatiable mutagen and retrieved a barely recognizable amalgamation of horror: the bony fragments of Mary. Wounded, the woman looked up at Kev and matched his gaze. What have you done...? A ghrá, what have you done?

    Nothing, is the answer. You did nothing, and the woman was left to mourn the loss of a beloved pet. You let her die, Kev. You let Mary die, and for that...

    Slowly the woman rose, Phazon eating away at her legs and forearms. Porcelain flesh gave way to muscle, and muscle gave way to ivory bone. She cared not, however, and never once let her calm demeanour fall. I go now, she whispered quietly. I go, away from this madness. And go she did. The woman turned to face the Phazon and headed forward, marching toward her inevitable demise. You would not be joining her, Kev. How could you, when you were tethered to the earth by thick, steely chains? Gaze upon your wrist and ankles... see how they were bound, keeping you from joining your dear Keptoya. You were trapped.

    As your eyes frantically looked to see where the chains led, to perhaps free yourself of these cruel shackles, a twinkling glimmer shone above the city. It was falling rapidly to the world below and displayed no signs of slowing. You knew what this was, didn't you?

    Leslie didn't.

    ...Bang!

    There wasn't enough time to cry out, to react, to do anything. A brilliant flash consumed the sky and for everyone within the city limits, excluding yourself, it was the last thing they would see before a roiling inferno evaporated them into atomic nothingness. An angry mushroom cloud rose upward and the city was reduced to a molten wasteland, where nothing survived. None of the citizens, none of the invading Space Pirates, and no Phazon... Just you, Kev. You in a barren field of radiation and death. You and...

    Chains rattled and chains jingled, now you were able to see where your fetters led... Standing three meters before you as undaunted and determined as ever loomed the Dark Judge, his arms outstretched and inviting. Around his bony wrists were chains, your chains, and the symbolism became clear.

    This is our fate.
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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Kev on Sat Mar 14, 2015 1:15 am

    The voices faded away, the presences of the silhouettes fading as well. The air within the bubble felt so calm, peaceful, and the alien briefly glanced around the shield to find any cracks. There were none, not right now. Kev took a deep breath in, reluctantly removing his palms from the shield's wall. He could remember a time where hearing those voices were enough to bring him to bawling tears, melting into a puddle of self-loathing and guilt. Now, the voices bounced off of his shield and no longer stung. This felt...good. This was progress, true progress. He had conquered the physical woes for several weeks now. The voices here, some of them used to really dig into him. They seemed amplified at the time, but now? Now they were a lot less jarring and painful. They flowed over him, like water. It felt...nice for those words to no longer have power. Oh, but this was not over, and the confidence ebbed away to make way for anxiety. The alien's body stiffened as a chill ran through it, legs folding beneath himself as Kev settled himself to sit Indian style. His fingers laced together, arms settling across his lap as he took several deep breathes in...and out. Gotta keep calm.

    The world outside of his bubble materialized, and it was a violent wreckage.  Explosions racked his shield, the alien's eyes closing as he focused on reinforcing it. This was the past, this was over now. The city was in one piece, no longer assaulted by Phazon. The Phazon was no longer a problem, it wasn't worth it to be afraid. Yet still, the sounds of screaming could be heard from the streets. This was...this was harder. There was so much...the sounds of yelling could be heard, several small bodies running towards the alien and his shield, before the bodies were suddenly torn apart. Something splattered across the shield and Kev shivered, though he refused to look at it. His children, his spawn, they were dead. But they had been dead for years now. He had never met them and now, never would. Kev had made his peace with this though, his culture did not allow him to raise his spawn and he'd never met them. There was no use being bothered by it. They were in the past, and the pain of what he could never had, he had no use for it. He had Nym, he had Marvin. Though they couldn't exactly replace the spawn he'd never met, they were never meant to replace them.

    A new noise came to the forefront, distressed and agonized baaing. Kev's fingers twitched and his breathing turned shaky. From within the shield, he could not quite see poor Mary but he could hear her, and he remembered. The way the Phazon ate away at her soft little body, staining her purple and black fur. B-but that was in the past! Mary was dead and gone, he even had a little grave to remember her by. Mary's death could be accepted, it was painful but it was in the past. This was no different from the voices of his friends, what was in the past was pa-

    Why didn't you help her?

    Tulsit. Against his will, Kev's eyes snapped open the moment he heard the voice and he looked, staring through the bubble to see the shape, a once so very familiar shape. Leslie...she was kneeling next to Mary's dead body and she was disappointed. In him. Because he'd let her die. Kev tried to force himself to focus, to remember that the past was in the past. Leslie was gone and Mary was gone and he had accepted this. And yet to hear her sweet voice...she was so disappointed...she was going into the Phazon just like she always did. Kev grasped at his temples and curled up into a ball, able to see in his mind's eye the sight of her body dissolving in the Phazon. He had seen it enough times to remember how it looked. "Embrace it, embrace it, embrace it..." The bubble was beginning to give however, losing its strength when suddenly...the nuke dropped. Kev peeked through his fingers as the flash illuminated the city outside, so very bright! The nukes...that were going to drop. Because of him...as the aftershock of the nuke reached his shield, the force of it managed to create a splintering crack in the bubble. The alien took a deep, gasping breath in, eyeing the crack. Just a bit more...only a little bit longer!

    Through the crack, he could see the desolation outside. Emptiness and death. A barren horizon...and the jingling of a chain. Judge Fear loomed close, arms spread wide and shackled chains attached to his limbs. Embrace it, embrace it, this was impermanent...! But how could he put this in the past...when it was his future? How could he accept this as his future? The dying landscape, and the chains...chains that lingered outside of the shield and waited.

    CCCRAAAACK

    The bubble dissolved all around, shattering into pieces. Immediately, he found shackles attached to his limbs and his body infected with Phazon. Just like before. This part of the mental exercises was the most challenging, it always was. Would it always be so? Kev kneeled on the ground and panted, not moving any closer to this version of Fear. Not now. The sudden transition out of the shield was straining, though not enough to need psychic surgery. Unfortunately...he had failed again.


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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Fear on Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:05 pm

    Interesting...

    This was unarguably the furthest Kev had ever managed throughout the entirety of his training; six weeks' worth of fainting to produce this striking moment. However, the alien's progress wouldn't end here. There was something missing... A key component of the mental exercise that Kev just wasn't grasping. In due time, thought the Dark Judge. What is six weeks before the insurmountable span of the universe? "Better," Judge Fear rasped, eyes trained on the exhausted alien, "though incomplete. You ssstill grapple with the termsss of acceptance." The bitter chill around Kev's trembling shoulders gradually waned and no longer did he feel dangerously close to death. Nevertheless, there was still the lingering touch of rot clogging up Kev's sinuses. The unpleasant smell will quickly be the least of his worries in just a minute.

    Twisted energies pulled from the darkest nether where mortals dared not tread, Kev's backyard rapidly plunged into a biting cold. "Again," demanded the ghoul. Colour slowly drained from the world and an asphyxiating malaise draped itself over the alien's shoulders, covetous and heavy. "You are clossse, cadet, but ssstill you remain ignorant. Ssstand up and embrace."

    Looks like you might be getting a dose of psychic surgery after all...
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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Kev on Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:28 pm

    Kev kept his gaze on the ground as he caught his breath, needing to really concentrate to catch what the Judge was saying. Better...he was doing better. That was good! Though seeing how the alien wasn't passed out or crying, of course it was good. Not as great as it could be though, as the final stage hadn't been conquered. Acceptance of pain, like being killed and being told hurtful things by people he once cared for, that was doable. He could accept all of that. He could make his peace with the past in that sense. The last stage, though...the destruction, the Phazon...his children being slaughtered. Mary...Leslie...and then the nukes. It was overwhelming. He had to find a way to keep calm and accept it. Otherwise, he kept locking up. The alien did little else but give a shaky nod, gradually gaining back his strength as the eerie chill of Judge Fear left his body. He did give a brief snort though, and rubbed at his nose. Rot...ugh...though that soon became unimportant. The chill was back, the world around him melting, giving way to the Judge and the Judge only. Kev looked up and nodded, wearily picking himself up to stand once more. "Yes, sir." He wasn't going to pass out. He wasn't going to need psychic surgery. The alien's slim back straightened, body stiffening as he prepared himself to go again. Embrace...

    The alien concentrated and conjured up his shield, and like before, the inside of Mr. Dark's castle was the first thing he could see outside of the white walls of his shield. Mr. Dark himself peeked in, yellow eyes like a bright light that stuck out from the weary paleness of his skin. The man leered outside of the bubble, waiting for the shield to crumble and kill the alien within. Kev looked back at him through the bubble, hands stiff to his sides. This death was the past, this man nothing more than a memory. The experience of dying at Dark's hands was no longer cause for fear and alarm. As before, Kev allowed the memories to flow through his mind, in and out, embracing what had happened that day. The man soon disappeared, and was replaced by the Hellboy shade. Much more active than Mr. Dark, he actively punched and stabbed at the bubble, attempting to break his way in. Layers appeared over the shield however, reinforcing it as the alien watched calmly, steady. This man was from the past. This thing ran him through with a sword, but in the end the pain meant nothing. It wasn't permanent. There wasn't even a scar. There was no use giving this thing any power, no more fear or apprehension would come from the alien. Merely acceptance of what had happened, and the understanding that it was over. The pain wasn't permanent. It was a temporary state. The demon disappeared, and doctors took his place. Surgeons. Armed with sharp, scary instruments that they used to attack his shield. The alien focused, remembering the event associated with these things and letting it all play out. It was the past, and the pain they had caused was only temporary. All of these things were temporary and that understanding kept them from being a challenge. These Doctors disappeared, the success was not a surprise. By this point, it was expected. Though, it still made him feel a bit calmer, despite the situation. Keep this calm...keep it until the end. Maybe if he could, this time...

    The next stage began, people appearing outside of the shield. Unlike the other shades who appeared, these apparitions did not attack the shield, at least not physically. Their weapon was words, words that were meant to get a reaction. An emotion. From guilt, to sorrow, to indignation. The emotions would knock him off of his axis, cause him to crumble. Not that the alien needed to become apathetic, he just had to keep his emotions level. Not fall to them. They were just emotions, he was meant to be the one in control of them. His emotions were not supposed to rule him and make him break. The alien listened to their words, all of them. From the young half vampire child to the thousands year old alien robot. Kev breathed in and out calmly, staring back at them through the bubble. "I accept that some of you are just voicing my own doubts, fears, worries." Overcast, Swindle, Kefka, and Terra in particular. "Giving into my own doubts will lock me in a vicious cycle. I refuse to be stuck in this cycle. I accept that I cannot let my worries rule me." Kev knew he wasn't useless, people cared about him, Kefka didn't hate him, and his bond with Terra was no waste.. These were baseless worries. He would embrace them and work on ridding himself of these worries. A white layer reinforced his shield. "Some of you, I was once close to. I accept that these relationships were...flawed. Uneven. A...mistake." His gaze settled on Harry and Megamind in particular. "I cannot change the experiences I had, or how you hurt me. But I can learn from it...and make smarter choices in the future." He could use the past to make a better future. He didn't need to ignore Megamind and Harry, pretend they'd never existed. He didn't have to let what happened rule him either. He could simply learn and embrace. Which left just three more people to address... "A couple of you fell in love with me." A woman, and a man. "I couldn't fall in love with either of you. It hurts that I hurt you like this...but love shouldn't be forced. You don't deserve me, Blade." A friend he had been, but...he had been a struggle at times. Addictions, falling in love with people who left him...Kev had offered help wherever he could but in the end he had to accept that there was nothing he could do. "Sonia, you deserve love from someone who can help you. Support you. I'm sorry it can't be me." There was nothing he could do about it, but to accept things as they were. Accept that there was nothing he could do. Sonia was still his friend, and he would still support her as he could. It was the best he could do, and he could accept it. He would accept that it wasn't his fault either. It was just a situation...and in time, it would be the past. None of it would hurt.

    And lastly... "It was wrong, to lie to you, Rhys. I do not feel responsible for your death anymore, but I was wrong." And he could accept it. Both his blame, and where he couldn't be blamed. There was no use clinging to what could have been. There was no way to fix something from so long ago. He couldn't bring the boy back. And Rhys wouldn't want him to be sad. The white bubble shimmered as another layer reinforced itself over the shield. As before, he was doing good so far...but it was the last part that would be hardest. As it always was.


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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Fear on Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:52 am

    Again, you managed to directly confront your demons; their voices might as well have been turbulent waters futilely crashing themselves against stone. Your physical woes were hardly worth mentioning. Was this the obstacle before you, however? After all, it had not been the aforementioned troubles that continued to plague your tiring soul. Look harder, cadet, and realize the inevitability before you.

    Only then would you be able to truly progress.

    BAM, BAM!

    In one second there was the asphyxiating darkness of the regretful mind, and in the next... chaos. Explosions rocked the world, the luscious grass of Kev's backyard having been replaced by cold hard asphalt. Towering skyscrapers gleamed overhead, but so too did billowing plumes of black, angry smoke. He was in the city... In a city besieged.

    Do you remember this, Kev? Do you remember, as Phazon consumed the world? Should the alien glance down upon his own hands and think to embrace himself, realize, Kev, that you had become the very thing you feared... a monster. Surely you have not forgotten what it was like to be powerful? As the blue creep slowly devoured the city streets, people screaming and running for their lives, not everyone would be so unfortunate of a slow, agonizing death. Before the alien were three figures running towards him; emerald scales, khaki strips, wide frightened eyes... They shouted to him, their little legs carrying them as fast as they could, but -

    BOOM!

    ...to no avail. Dark-green blood splattered upon Kev, his children torn asunder before his very eyes. They were not the only ones to suffer, however. In the din of mournful sobs and panicked shrieks, Portal City on the verge of collapse, a tiny figure struggled against the Phazon. "Baaaa...!" A fleece as soft as goose's down and as colourful as the juiciest berries clashed against radiating azures, little black legs trembling. "Baaa...!" the poor animal cried again, body overwrought with unimaginable agony. For several moments did it pathetically rise and stumble again, each attempt more draining than the last. Phazon ate away at the sheep's coat, the corrosive substance eating its way down to the flesh, and soon the air began to smell of roasting meat. It fell onto its side one last time and did not rise, eyes pleadingly directed at Kev. "B-Baaa..." Help me... Help me, please... Heavy, laboured breathing transitioned into wheezy rasps, skin and muscle seemingly melting in layers... H-Help... m... m-me... A single gasp escaped the sheep's slackening mouth and thus perished Mary. She sunk into the Phazon, gone.

    Why didn't you help her?

    In the corner of Kev's vision walked a pale woman, her hair a striking lavender and in her golden eyes... sorrow. She stepped into the Phazon, willingly, and knelt before the very spot Mary had once been. Pale hands reached into the insatiable mutagen and retrieved a barely recognizable amalgamation of horror: the bony fragments of Mary. Wounded, the woman looked up at Kev and matched his gaze. What have you done...? A ghrá, what have you done?

    Nothing, is the answer. You did nothing, and the woman was left to mourn the loss of a beloved pet. You let her die, Kev. You let Mary die, and for that...

    Slowly the woman rose, Phazon eating away at her legs and forearms. Porcelain flesh gave way to muscle, and muscle gave way to ivory bone. She cared not, however, and never once let her calm demeanour fall. I go now, she whispered quietly. I go, away from this madness. And go she did. The woman turned to face the Phazon and headed forward, marching toward her inevitable demise. You would not be joining her, Kev. How could you, when you were tethered to the earth by thick, steely chains? Gaze upon your wrist and ankles... see how they were bound, keeping you from joining your dear Keptoya. You were trapped.

    As your eyes frantically looked to see where the chains led, to perhaps free yourself of these cruel shackles, a twinkling glimmer shone above the city. It was falling rapidly to the world below and displayed no signs of slowing. You knew what this was, didn't you?

    Leslie didn't.

    ...Bang!

    There wasn't enough time to cry out, to react, to do anything. A brilliant flash consumed the sky and for everyone within the city limits, excluding yourself, it was the last thing they would see before a roiling inferno evaporated them into atomic nothingness. An angry mushroom cloud rose upward and the city was reduced to a molten wasteland, where nothing survived. None of the citizens, none of the invading Space Pirates, and no Phazon... Just you, Kev. You in a barren field of radiation and death. You and...

    Chains rattled and chains jingled, now you were able to see where your fetters led... Standing three meters before you as undaunted and determined as ever loomed the Dark Judge, his arms outstretched and inviting. Around his bony wrists were chains, your chains, and the symbolism became clear.

    This is our fate.
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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Kev on Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:25 pm

    This part of the exercise always started so abruptly, and this time was no different. One second, he was watching figures from his past disappear, then next, he was suddenly in the city. A version of the city that was being destroyed, explosions were everywhere and the Phazon oozed through the streets. People ran, attempting to escape, only to be caught up and die a terrible death. The alien cast a glance downwards at his own hands, very relieved to find that they were normal. The shield was still up, and he could get through it this time. The first to approach his shield were the three spawn he had created, all three running up and yelling to him, only to be hit by something and die in an explosion. Again, he turned his head away to avoid looking at their blood, that now littered the streets and even the shield. Their deaths weren't quite so upsetting this time, however. He'd helped to make three spawn, neither of which he had ever met. Secretly, he had wanted to at least see them, but that wasn't the way of his people. With the destruction of his world, his chance to ever meet them had been robbed...but there was nothing he could do about that. His world was destroyed, his people gone with it, and it had been almost five years since that had happened. It hurt, yes, but it was the past. Even the pain of it all ebbed away with every passing year. In the end, that pain wasn't permanent. In time it would no longer hurt...and as he had thought before, he had Nym now. He had Marvin. He even had Livewire, though thinking about her in terms of being like a spawn to him felt dangerous. Still, he had those three and he had the Hyruleans, and Ttone...so many children, or younger people, that he cared about, and who cared about him. As long as he had that, he could embrace that his children were gone now.

    The next being to be properly seen and heard, aside from the screams and crying of people who were mostly here to take up space, was the pained baaing of a sheep. Mary, who was being eaten up by the Phazon. "Nnn..." Kev shrank back in his shield, though his eyes remained on the small sheep as she struggled in the blue goo, body being eaten away. Mary didn't deserve to die like that. No one did. She was just a little sheep...she wasn't supposed to die like that. The alien reached out and touched a spot on the wall of his bubble, from his point of view, he was 'touching' the dying sheep. "I'm sorry Mary...there was nothing I could do." There really wasn't. Ridley had set off those bombs, bombs very few people knew or were warned about. Kev couldn't have done a thing to prevent it, and he was honestly lucky that only Mary had been killed. All of the animals could have easily been killed in the initial attacks. Mary was the only casualty of his animals. It was terrible, but...there was nothing he could do. And, he accepted this, as he watched the poor sheep die all over again.

    Kev flinched when Leslie spoke, appearing out of the corner of his vision and approaching her dead sheep. He stared after her, as she reached into the Phazon to hold her dead sheep. The Phazon began eating away at her as well, and the fae was hurt to find her sheep was dead. Leslie's words were hurtful, and accusing, but Kev shook his head softly. "You are...just...telling me things that I've thought, when I think about her death. That I didn't do enough, that I didn't help her. That it was...my fault, somehow..." His hand moved to 'caress' Leslie's form, staring at her intently. "It isn't my fault. I did as much as I could, and she didn't die alone. I didn't leave her to be eaten by scavengers." Leslie stood, declared that she was going, and began to head towards the Phazon. His eyes seemed to look right through her. It wasn't my fault that you left, Leslie...

    The only thing that lifted his gaze from her retreating form was a glimmer in the sky. The nuke. Kev tensed up as the nuke dropped, starting off small but when that thing landed? It went off with a large bang. Kev's arms moved to cover his head, the alien kneeling down to prepare himself as the aftereffects of the nuke rocked his bubble. When he finally peeked out from between his arms, the city was flattened. Every sign that there had even been a city here was eradicated. Replaced by an empty wasteland. Well...not entirely empty. Kev was here, and so was...Fear. Kev glanced over as the looming corpse approached, though found his gaze interrupted by a disturbing sight; cracks...cracks all over his bubble. They spread around, looking like a massive and complicated spider web. All it needed was a small push, and it would shatter entirely. And that push was the sight of those chains that dangled off of the Judge. With a crackle, the shield shattered into pieces and collapsed around the alien, who looked down at himself and let out a sigh. Chained. Infected with Phazon...Kev glanced up, at the Judge who's arms were stretched out for him. ...For him. Kev's eyes widened and he moved to stand up, though his legs felt so weak. The alien barely managed to stand before he fell into a kneeling position again, panting. He was so tired but he had to! He had to accept his future, the path he had started. He had to accept that this could be his future! He moved to stand once more, and this time collapsed to the ground. The alien's talons dug into the wasteland beneath him, Kev attempting to drag himself over to Judge Fear's form. The shackles felt so heavy, and his head felt fuzzy...Kev's arm outstretched, shaking, reaching for the Judge. The corners of his vision was blacking out. "...I..." He had to...the alien's hand fell, everything turning to black.
    ---
    Darkness ebbed away, Kev squinting as he reached a hand up and shakily rubbed at the corner of his eye. As if that would make it easier to see. Yet, somehow it actually did seem to help, as Kev's eyes eventually opened a bit more. Enough to see that he was in the living room. The alien groaned, closing his eyes. So close...he had been so close! And he passed out anyway! His hand moved to rest across his chest instead, the alien opening his eyes again to look up at his instructor. As always, he was hard at work, both hands around the sides of Kev's head as he performed psychic surgery. He debated speaking, but decided not to. What was he supposed to say? 'Sorry, I'll do better next time, pinky swear!'? Kev elected to lay there on the couch, and wait to hear any feedback from his instructor before he gave any promises of improvement.


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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Fear on Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:42 pm

    Close. So very close... But alas, it was not yet to be.

    Your body failed, your mind failed. Everything slipped away into darkness as a creeping realization ate at your thoughts: you still weren't ready. Hadn't six weeks been enough...? A familiar shiver traveled down your spine, accumulating within your feverish cheeks. It felt nice. It felt comforting, though the weight of your failure prevented you from enjoying this reprieve. The horrors you had seen, the horrors you had been forced to suffer, gradually ebbed into nothingness; an empty field of white lay before your closed eyes. Revel in its tranquil infinity while you can, for reality will be eager to greedily snatch you away.

    Tick, tock... Tick, tock... Sound was the first sense to awaken from your comatose state, the gentle rhythm of a nearby clock grounding you within the present. Beyond its cadence, through wood and stone, you could make out the playful bark of rambunctious dogs. It seemed Biddy had been the first to find Percy's stone, and now the wily sheepdog was loathe to return it.

    Groggy, you withdrew your concentration to the pit of your abdomen; it was easier to heighten your awareness this way. The living room, you thought. You were in the living room and currently resting upon the couch. This immediately caused a feeble stroke of anxiety. If you opened your eyes now... Ah, there was no point in worrying further. What happened has already been done, and there was no changing the past. You opened your eyes and accepted whatever harsh admonishment or disappointed words were in store, though... 'pinkie promise'? No, it was better that you didn't. The undead were not individuals to take an oath lightly.

    "Mm..."

    Again, the alien had faltered. Again, there was the need for otherworldly intervention. To say that the Dark Judge was not fatigued after weeks of performing the same, taxing ability would be sheer arrogance. Sacrifices, alas. The end shall justify the means. Frustration was unnecessary, however seductive. "Better." As was the truth. "You are grasssping a better control asss the daysss progresssss, but do not make the missstake of expending too much of your ssstamina where it isss not advisssable. Pace yourssself, cadet. Your ssspirit isss mortal; finite. It will take yearsss of training to attain a sssuitable level of endurance necesssssary to withssstand thisss attack in itsss entirety. Yearsss you do not have, mm..." And years that would be most unkind to a being who utilized psychic surgery on a daily basis.
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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Kev on Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:04 pm

    ...Better? Kev's pupils lifted again, to look up at the Judge as best as he could. Kev knew he had done a better job, but he had also still failed. Still...to hear from his instructor that he had done better...it was a relief. Though rather small, in the grand scheme of things. Kev kept himself still on the couch, which was rather easy since his body felt fatigued and a little heavy. According to the Judge, his mistake had been not pacing himself. Kev had gained control, but needed to learn to pace himself. It was easy to pace during physical exercise, his body easily told him if he was pushing too hard. The mind, however...sometimes it was hard to tell. The Judge explained that since Kev's spirit was mortal, it could only stretch so far. It could only endure so much, and the only way to improve this would be years of training. Years that Kev did not have. Years that the Judge could not wait for.

    "I...see..." His voice was soft, exhausted. Though the Judge was likely exhausted too. Fear had definitely earned some tea during leisure hour. Proper black tea, bitter as bitter could be. His eyes closed, though his head remained tilted upwards slightly, towards the Judge. "What do you advise...for my stamina? What should I focus on, sir...? Or are you going to tell me...during the spiritual training?"


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    "I'm Kev, and I speak through the power of telepathy. It is represented by italics and the color code #33CC66."
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    Re: Nascence [Week 7 - 9]

    Post by Fear on Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:32 pm

    What to advise, what to advise... Well, for starters, how about not failing? ...No? Alright, then what about - "You know what you can and cannot endure," hissed Judge Fear. "Jussst the sssame asss how you are cognizant of what troublesss your sssoul the mossst. For example, cadet: the physssical woesss of agesss passst no longer impede your ssspiritsss. Why ssspend the preciousss energy to thwart them, when it isss clear that you ssstruggle the mossst with the third and final portion of your exercissse?" Indeed, why bother erecting a psychic shield in the first place? They were just recollections, cadet. The harm you had weathered happened long, long ago. Pretty soon you will hardly bat an eye, let alone give the first trial any thought. The same will eventually be true for your emotional baggage.

    "We will dissscusssss more of thisss during your ssspiritual exercissse, not now," he continued. Hardened fingernails lightly tapped against scales as the ghoul removed his leathery hands. A breather at last... Tonight was going to be yet another dull headache in the background. "It isss currently a quarter to the top of the hour. You have thessse fifteen minutesss to recuperate and then I expect you outssside and ready to resssume your training. Ssspend them wisssely, cadet."

    That was all that was said and nothing more, the Dark Judge shambling away with a noisy rattling of his chain. Warmth seeped into the living room, tempting the alien to shut his eyes for a little while longer.

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