Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

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Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:47 pm

((a series of smaller story pieces))

12/02/2015

Wolf Attack

* * *

You have got to be *** kidding me.

The day had been a terrible one; the worst in recent memory. It wasn't any one thing so much as a whole collection of little things, each tolerable on their own, that when combined added up to one swirling vortex of suck. Even valiant attempts at cheering her-- appreciated more deeply than could possibly have been articulated-- fell flat or otherwise went awry in confusing, ridiculous ways.

Sometimes, you just can't win for losing.

The slumber party had been her idea--a way to distract them both from the epic failures of the day. In the intervening hours, though, while fitful sleep had come to her friend, Saila experienced no such good fortune. Restless and feeling frustrated, the mercurial muse, posted for what felt like ages in the window of the little sleeping chamber, made a sudden and somewhat reckless decision to find (or lose) herself in the streets. Her head a tangled scribble of increasingly blackening thoughts, she quietly scribbled a note for her friend, stealing out of the inn with her hoodie pulled tight around her.

Outside in the crisp, stinging cold, troubled Trouble inhaled a deep breath, hoping in vain that the burn in her lungs would somehow clear her head. No such luck, she shoved already frigid hands into the front pouch on her garment and started to walk.

Sure, she'd seen the bulletin earlier, tacked to every door in a row of shops she'd passed that afternoon. The kind girl she'd met, too; the one who had offered to play bartender and complimented her eyes. Zynn had actually seen one, she'd even been bitten. The bite had seemed relatively minor, sure, but the evidence of struggle had been all over her, and still she'd been unusually kind, a bright spot in an otherwise dreadful day.

Sure, the conversation around the bar had frequently circled back to speculation...was it one, or many? Hybrids, or weres? What had provoked them? What did they want? And all that time, Saila's mind had spun itself in dizzysick circles, worrying about the one wolf she knew.

One of the precious few who [had?] actually mattered.

Somehow, though, the worries and evidences of the daylight hours had more or less evaporated here on the dark side of midnight. Her thoughts cluttered and cramped and twisted and seething, her walk was a mindless one, carrying her down ever more complicated alleyways in haphazard abandon.

Awareness came to her by degrees. Looking up suddenly to take in her surroundings, the Outsider found herself in an unfamiliar part of the city, a place she had never yet explored in the short time since her arrival. Pausing at a crossroads to look for landmarks and get her bearings, she felt the first tremor. A frenetic pulse of energy somewhere in the immediate vicinity, one throbbing and hungry and at once totally foreign and maddeningly familiar.

Cocking her head, Saila stood stone still, trying to trace both direction and identity. Identity came first: wolf. Was it ..? No. Not him. Different wolf. Direction, though, that was infinitely trickier to track. Scarcely breathing, she dared not move, trying desperately to get a handle on the wolf.

Movement. With a fractional widening of ill-paired eyes, Saila realized then that she was being stalked. For how long had the animal (man..?) been following her? Had she really been so oblivious, so completely absorbed in her own head? Stupid, Saila. Really, really stupid.

Her breath shallow, booted footsteps light, she turned towards the electric hum. Peering into the shadows, she shaded her eyes, and though she still couldn't see him, she'd resolved at least where he might be. Focusing now, all the details she shouldn't have missed came through in piercing clarity...the quick thrum of his pulse, the snuffle of his nose as he followed her scent, the panting of his breath in anticipation.

Are you ****' kidding me?

It took absolutely everything in her to keep herself from breaking down, hysterical laughter threatening to escape the porcelain cage of her teeth. Of course. Of course she'd been tracked by a wolf without noticing it, today of all days. Because the day hadn't been obnoxious enough ...now she was about to get to add "eaten by a wolf" to her list of spectacular accidents.

Awesome.

For what felt like an eternity, they watched one another. Adjusting to the gloom, Saila came to be able to pick out pale yellows, fixing them in her own disconcerting shades. Lips pursed, she chewed savagely on the inside of her cheek to keep herself motionless, ringed fingers balled up in tight little fists clutching at the fabric of her top.

"Come on," Saila urged the strange wolf, taunting, after minutes of silence that had crawled by like years. "This is stupid. Do what you came to do."

Having never actually faced a wolf attack before, the purple haired girl had no idea what to expect. She couldn't have known how unusual it was that there was only one, how fortunate she was to have been stalked by a single animal and not an entire pack. Sheer instinct had kept her from turning to run, and she couldn't have known that would work to her advantage either.

Finally, he sprang.

She hadn't anticipated how fast it would be, how strong. The way it would lunge directly at her throat.

Crying out in surprise, Saila had time only to throw one arm up defensively, the wolf's sharp teeth finding purchase in so much fabric and ink scrawled skin. A shriek of pain ripped from her throat, the momentum of the lunge unbalanced her, and the breath was knocked from her lungs with the bone on cement clatter of rib cage and shoulder blades colliding forcefully with the pavement.

Gasping for ragged breath with eyes wild, she pushed at the great beast, trying to dislodge him. Utterly unable, she was no match for the animal's strength, its mad-eyed rage.

Rage. As time slowed to a standstill, a memory from the night before rose up crystal clear in her mind. Rage is energy, she'd told the one who'd called her hero. The beast can't get me.

Her smile was terrible, then, as she fought like a crazed thing to pull her bleeding arm free, to avoid those snapping jaws. Successfully working one hand underneath the beast on top of her, she shook her head, spitting a quick, "Sorry, kid" at him as she pressed the exposed palm of her uninjured hand flush against the animal's chest. Connection made, she found the focus point, and drew.

Sucking in the creature's energy like drinking from a firehose, Saila abandoned all pretense of caution. The colorful marks she took such pains to conceal grew livid, garishly bright and pulsing painfully, an almost unbearable heat overtaking every inch of tattooed skin. Gritting her teeth and setting her jaw, she held on, clinging to her now frightened attacker who, eyes rolling and spittle flying, scrabbled frantically away from her with a series of yelps.

Unable to hold him, she sat there in the filthy street for a long time after he'd fled, panting. Inarticulate and half mad, she sat there for at least an hour, her clothes in tatters, her body scratched and bruised and battered, her right forearm torn nearly to ribbons.

Glowing like a Christmas tree.

In the first greying silver of the dawn, Saila gradually came back to herself, taking a deep shuddering breath as she regained control of her own mind, her own few memories. Staggering to her feet, she wiped at her mouth with the back of one hand, tasting bile and blood and something bitter. Something dead. Raking those same shaky fingers through matted violet tangles, she took stock of her current condition. Miraculously, though every inch of her hurt, nothing seemed to be broken. Well, nothing except maybe the sacrificed arm, which she now clutched to her chest with her one good hand like a broken wing.

Sighing, she spit the taste from her mouth, lifting her gaze once more to the street signs, trying again to find her way.
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:54 pm

Wolf Attack, Part Two

Finding her way back

Dawn turned into day turned into dusk again, and Saila was no closer to finding her way back to anything familiar. A ragged sense of self-preservation kept her on her feet and moving, pausing only when the constant throb in her wounded arm got to be too much to bear.

Streets seemed to bend in on one another, so many origami folds in a giant puzzle box. More corners, more shops, more homes and buildings and shacks and shanties. More bars, more shadows, more alleys. And still, Saila walked.

Senses dulled in equal parts exhaustion and over-stimulation, her clothes in ragged tatters, normally vibrant purple tresses dreaded in blood-matted tangles, her damaged arm clutched and numbing against her, Saila stumbled on in a hazy fog. Suddenly, a pebble sailed through the air directly towards her; reflexes slower than molasses prevented her from sidestepping. The little rock made contact, ricocheting against her left temple, and pale brows furrowed in response only after a considerable lag. "Hey," a childish complaint issuing from a throat gone raw and hoarse from earlier screaming.

Mismatched eyes all but glazed over in pain, she peered into the murky alleyways before her, trying to get a handle on who, or what, might have thrown that little rock. Whatever it was, it couldn' have been a wolf, so at least she had that going for her.

"Your boyfriend is thataway." The words came from a funny looking little man in unusual clothes Saila was pretty positive she'd never seen before.

Boyfriend?

For the longest moment, she just stood there, staring. Her nerve endings frayed to the point of unraveling, this was almost more information than she could process. The word wasn't one she had the hang of, yet, but there was only one creature she could think of for whom it might apply. Too tired to fight or resist, she shrugged. "Which way?"

Wolf Attack, Part Three


Consciousness found her by degrees, daylight gathering in the thick velvet corners of soft silver lash.

...Ow.

The events of the days before were a jumbled mess, a haze of conflicting images. First there had been the intense pain, the extreme exhaustion. Then, a long fall. A gun? Soft arms gathering her close. Then, needles; a moment's sweet relief followed by another moment's searing agony. At long last, a bath, gentle fingers working the dirt and oil and blood from every pore, every inch, every crease of her body.

Morning found her at turns bruised and sated, in angst and at peace.

Staring at herself in the mirror, the fresh swirls of pale blues and reds that decorated the backs of her hands, licked ever more indecently at her throat.

Arm bandaged in a make shift sling, she'd gone in search of nearly anything to ease the wild snarl of burred exclamation points in her mind. Focusing from one thought to the next and only that far, minute to minute and step to step, she'd made her way over familiar territory, seeking familiar faces. Maybe even seeking comfort.

Instead she'd found healing, yes, but also a strange series of ever-complicating entanglements that trapped her, labyrinthine, inside a spider web of social networking. Beholden to all and belonging to none, Saila discovered herself laced into the embellishing edges, gossamer yet still unbreakable threads pinioning her between them.

And then, hilariously, there'd been a hot tub.

Forcing herself awake with no concept of how long she'd slept, Saila stretched and flared her fingers, unable to reconcile her undamaged limb with the kaleidoscope of memories that flooded her senses from at least four different angles.

Shaking her head to clear the images, she'd dragged herself off the floor where she had fallen, let herself out into the daylight, and began again.

Learning to walk among them.

...Ow.

The sentiment reverberated. But was it heart, or head?
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:56 pm

12/10/2015 - Imaginary Intimacy

Poetic Interlude

Unrequited, a Love Song to All of You

I have spent so much time
inside your head(s);
walking the parameters of
your skull(s), your soul(s).

I know you.

I know your heartbeat, the sound
of your breathing.
I know what scares you
What moves you.

I know you anywhere.
Even in the dark.
Faceless in a swarming crowd,
I know you.

One-way intimacy.
Is a bond that isn't shared
still a bond, or
just wishful thinking?

Arrogant and foolish, I thought
Being less alone
Would make me less lonely.
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Thu Dec 13, 2018 12:34 am

12/16/2015

The Episode

Obsession and anxiety of the last several days had led, ultimately, to a single conclusion:

It must have started with the game of pool.

Innocuous, at first; just one of a thousand identical incidents. Saila had been invited to play a game that seemed to inspire the competitive spirit, and yet no one had been particularly forthcoming about the rules. Not wanting to seem ignorant, she'd done precisely what she'd learned to do, what she'd done a hundred times a day every day since she'd first found herself in this position. Sizing up the likeliest candidate to be the most knowledgeable, with a grin and a squeeze she'd gently, almost innocently borrowed from him.

Just a little.

And it was hardly the first time the mercurial muse had barely brushed the surface of another's consciousness only to find unanticipated darkness, a swirling cloud of loss and violence amassed just an inch or so underneath. All too accustomed to absorbing strangers' pain, this particular man's memories had been more vivid--and bloodier--than most, but after a momentary swoon, Saila had shaken it off and resumed the game. No big deal. Certainly no worse than other memories she'd accidentally come to possess: the wolf. The innocent. The sellsword.

Seemed that everyone in this town had been etched by tragedy. So it must have been something else.

It had turned out to be a fun game, too. Alternating teams, reasonably well matched competitors, friendly banter. Drinking and laughter. Stories told, jokes mangled; Damien's ever present hugging. Social interaction gone remarkably, refreshingly right for once, Saila had actually been feeling pretty proud of herself for how well she'd navigated the evening.

And then she'd woken up from a catatonia of sorts two days later, perched high in a tree in the thick of a forest she'd never before seen.

What had transpired in the intervening forty eight hours, the girl was still trying to piece together, even several days later. Her memories of that time--like so many of her own, personal experiences-- were a scattered mess of broken fragments. Dimly, she remembered being conscious; aware that she was missing things like the Winter Ball that had been the subject of so much speculation. Distantly, she recognized that there were probably at least one or two people wondering at her absence, if only the one or two. Hazy, it occurred to her that her feet seemed to be moving under their own power, of their own volition, carrying her deftly, expertly, over terrain she'd never yet traveled.

More than anything, she remembered the burning.

Vivid and searing all across her body, everywhere that pale flesh had been marked, those strange and unreadable sigils white hot and pulsing, seeming to writhe as though serpents of fire had been embedded under her skin.

More than anything, she'd felt a strong sense of urgency to be away, to flee, to seek safety away from people---for their sake, not her own.

More than anything, she'd felt combustible.

And... then she'd apparently climbed a tree, and there she'd stayed until the burning subsided.

Even then, Saila might have remained indefinitely, a stone angel tossed haphazardly into the sky by a capricious storm god in a fit of tantrum, snagged awkwardly among ancient branches. It took a familiar but unexpected streak of energy to stir her, to break the torpor that had taken hold.

There, in the leaves far below, the very same wolf she'd touched last. Only somehow she'd missed until just this moment the fact that he was a wolf.

And the wolf thought she'd gotten black out drunk and stumbled blindly into the forest to sleep it off.

...Well. It probably could have been true.

Off-balance and feeling out of sorts, Saila made her way back into the city, her long-sought need for answers keyed up to desperate extremes.

And desperate extremes lead to desperate measures.
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:07 am

12/18/2015

Transition

Ex turbatio, semita mea emergit

It's positively breathtaking how much of a difference the simple phrase "I have somebody to help me with it, now" can make.
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:16 am

01/07/2016

L'Ouragon

Life changes are rarely dramatic. Almost never are there epiphany-inducing fireworks exploding overhead, symphonies in full fanfare swelling to a dramatic crescendo where the world splits and turns on its side and suddenly everything is different. Paradigm shifts don't happen in great destructive rolling waves of quaking earth; trees don't burst from the ground all fully formed and formidable.

The big things always start small. A gust of wind. The sulfuric spark of a fresh-lit match. Rosin drawn delicately, tenderly along a bow. It's a single seed. A tiny spark. It's almost always a tiny, seemingly insignificant thing, so often discarded or overlooked altogether. That's what starts a chain reaction. Fires an engine. Breaks a seal.

Nuages Orageux

**

Il etait une fois...

[Le Jumeau]

Have you ever met someone for the first time and just immediately known that, for better or for worse, you've stumbled in on one of the worst moments of their life? It's too late to reverse course or retreat, the curtain's up and the audience is waiting. You're here now, you have to do something. A walk-on role in a stranger's tragedy; the show must go on. You're committed to seeing it through, from one end to the other, your lives intersecting at hard angles, tangling; forming a seemingly indelible knot.

It was a lot like that, actually.

There's a cellphone sitting on the bar beside you. It isn't yours. Hours pass, and you're only just now wondering whether there's a lost and found to report to when its owner returns to retrieve it. He is polished and pretty, the kind of man that can truly be called beautiful. Angel eyes and a devil's smirk, he is dashing, debonair, and positively humming with frenetic strength. At the same time, there's something so breathtakingly delicate about him - something breakable and beautiful you feel moved to protect.

Something fractures in his eyes when his gaze slips from you to the person beside you. And you know, you just know, that you're about to witness something terrible.

[L'Enseigneur]

The afternoon began just like any other. Settling in for another perplexing day spent primarily in observation and information gathering, you're curled up like an origami pretzel, all awkward angles and jaggedly-scissored limbs perched precariously on a bar stool.

There's a man behind the bar, one you've seen before but never specifically addressed. Tall, he is clearly athletic; intimidating, but not in the Roar-Hulk-Smash steroidal way so many others in this unusual place seem to exhibit. There's a raw, casual grace in even his simplest movements. Barely contained potential energy seems to seethe and swarm just an inch underneath him. He is equal parts lazy jungle cat and lit grenade. Feral, but strangely friendly.

And he's making coffee.

[L'Eveil]

You're new in town, and you've made a new friend. Your new friend has other new friends, and he invites you along on a pre-planned outing. Drinks and pool after hours, he says. You're not at all sure that you're any good at pool, but he tells you that it's all just casual fun and so you don't let that stop you.

Your new friend introduces you to his old friend. He's impressive but his smile is easy; a warrior's frame with a child's bright heart. His accent, though at times unintelligible, is a pleasant brogue with a lyrical lilt - there's something honey warm about the way it flows, and though you can't always understand him, you don't want him to stop talking. His eyes, maybe the bluest you've ever seen, dance with mirth, but also a critical, analytical intelligence. He is both storm surge and still water. Overpowering; his surface is deceptive, reflecting a false frivolity that diverts the judgmental eye from untold riches.

And then you make a single, simple, fatal mistake. You touch him.

* * *


(author's note: This is the broad introduction for Saila's foray into self-discovery. Though there have been many fits and starts along the way, her story is resolving along three major arcs, each encompassed by one of the individuals above. These are the brush-strokes by which they began. Almost every part of what you will find here has happened in real-time writing or collaboration with a whole host of fantastic characters. [...almost always around two am, ahem.] While there are a bunch of writers I'm going to end up acknowledging here, for right now, there's just this: Here's to Quinn, Cane and Coilin. Thank you all so much for your contributions, and for putting up with my quirky little gadfly. <3)
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:17 am

01/10/2016

Scribbled in the margins of a notebook choked with notes on magic, werewolves, moons and medicines:

Love.
It's a funny word, does funny things to people. Say it out loud like tossing a rock into a pond--there's a splash that starts in the eyes, rippling outwards in ever-widening concentric circles.
I don't know that I believe that there are degrees to love.
You either do, or don't. Or you wish that you didn't, and do, or you wish that you did, and don't.
And you.... You're in version three.
And that's okay, because I'm brave enough for both of us.
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:34 am

Cauchemar
01.25.16

Saila was asleep on the plane. As was often the case, the girl with the purple hair didn't know that she was asleep; she would go and go for days until the moment her body stopped. Winding down like a toy with a dead battery, or a clockwork doll that had come unwound. Unconsciousness found her hard, heavy, and usually all at once.

The flight was quiet. The wolf and the gypsy were curled up in one another's arms, each seeking to soothe and pacify the other. The science experiment sat apart, the lone female, the girl who ran with wolves. All three were in desperate need of a shower--the wolf and the purple girl in particular-- ut none of them had been willing to hang out long enough for all that. Sticky and still smelling of blood, they'd piled onto this metal cylinder, each more eager than the last to put Rio behind them.

It had been a long, brutal couple of days. There was a brief moment, shining and beautiful, where things had actually seemed peaceful, resolved. Hopeful, even. Optimistic. In the blink of an eye, though, that fragile, newly forged unity had been smashed to pieces, and now things seemed more precarious than ever.

It wasn't a total loss, though. Memories recalled. Identities merged. There had been progress.

The new dawning sun was relatively warm and bright, Rio di Janeiro falling away underneath them as they climbed into the skies. Saila thought she might draw in her notebook some more, but hands never quite acted on the brain's impulse. She was awake, and then she wasn't.

**

Wake up, the voice hissed, serpentine, somewhere just behind her left ear.

You're missing it, almost a singsong, now, urging her to open her eyes.

F**king what, the girl exclaimed, mismatched eyes flashing open in irritation.

The scene that was spread out before her was not one she could remember having seen before, and yet at the same time it felt disconcertingly familiar. There was something in particular about the smell of it, a certain antiseptic, astringent burn that irritated her nose reminded her of the chemical bleach smell still lingering in the Great House when the doors were first opened, making her wrinkle it in revulsion with a quick shake of her head.

Saila found herself sitting up on what appeared to be a cot; a thick green canvas type material stretched over a lightweight aluminum frame. There was a pillow, a dingy, white, thin scrap of fabric and fluff that bore more resemblance to cardboard than anything else. Attempting to lift one hand to push her hair out of her eyes, the movement was brought up short by a thick strap of waxy black fabric encircling her wrist, a short leash leading to the metal support pole for the cot itself. Restraints like chains that burn for days only these didn't burn. They didn't hurt at all, in fact; their only purpose seemed to be to pinion her arms somewhere near shoulder height but no higher.

Panic wasn't an emotion Saila understood or had much real context for, and in any case, she was aware of Quinn's presence in the immediate proximity. Wherever it was she had ended up couldn't be that serious if the big bad wolf was still in the vicinity, yeah? So it was curiosity more than anything that had her tugging on the ties that held her, peering around to get a feel for her surroundings.

The room felt dark, lit by a single set of fluorescent overheads, the kind that buzzed and hummed even at maximum performance; the ones that tended to flicker at a frequency almost undetectable to the human eye --just enough to be off-putting, headache-inducing, without giving themselves away as the irritation's source. This one was humming now, making that rattle-tick sound like when a bug gets too close to one of the long white bulbs and runs into it again and again, utterly entranced by its vibration.

Along the far wall was a set of machines whose displays might as well have been in gibberish, for all the sense they made. Flashing lights, blinking numbers and symbols that snagged along the jagged edges of her consciousness. Saila had the distinct impression she'd seen these characters before, recently even, but the more she squinted to focus on them, the less distinguishable they became. Her frustration mounting, she twisted restlessly against the bonds, trying in vain to push herself closer, to see more clearly, to understand.

Nothing.

At length, the girl realized she wasn't alone. There was a figure over there by the machines; someone who had been obscured in the long shadows cast by the equipment, who stepped into view as they moved closer to examine the results. Someone who was having no trouble deciphering the various read outs. Buttons pushed, notes scribbled. A tuneless hum as the person moved on to the next set of monitors, tapping this, checking that, twisting this knob or flipping that switch. More notes busily scribbled. The third set of displays, this one she could actually interpret as the shadow-person bent to examine it. On the screen was a 3-d rendering of what appeared to be a brain, various sectors lit up with different colors, each with little labels that were too small to read from this distance. Red near the front, orange near the back, a blue and a green along either side. Bright, gaudy purple right there in the middle.

"Pay attention," that same childishly sweet voice admonished her, whispering somewhere between the inside of her skull and the outside curve of her ear. "This is really important."

Saila whirled to the left, trying to locate the source of the voice, determined to prove to herself that it wasn't inside her head.

No one there, of course.

Lifting her strange eyes to the monitors once more, Saila tried to memorize what she saw there even if she couldn't make sense of it. If she could fix it in her mind, sketch it out, maybe someone else could decipher it for her later.

...Assuming that someone else came back from Spain, anyway.

The figure at the monitors began to turn around, then, and there was something so ominous about it that the purple girl felt a sudden drop in the pit of her stomach. It was a relatively new feeling for her, one she'd only experienced when her brother was in distress. Was this what they called fear? Dread, maybe. Without a frame of reference, Saila had no idea. Whatever it was, it wasn't pleasant; a greasy dizzysick roiling emanating out from somewhere below her ribcage. Time slowed to a crawl, the droning pound of her heartbeat in her ears reverberating in long, drawn out measures, her breath short and shallow in her chest.

The man had no face.

In the blink of an eye, he had moved--the way people often move in dreams, the perfectly impossible suddenly rendered plausible--to within an inch of her bedside, or cot-side, as the case happened to be. As the featureless human-like creature bent down towards her, its hot breath spilled rank and rancid over her face despite the complete absence of mouth or nose to breathe from, and revulsion zigzagged down her spine. A shudder working its way out from her between her shoulder blades, Saila gagged suddenly, her body convulsing with the overwhelming need to get away by any means necessary.

Shrinking back away from the man-creature thing, it loomed ever closer. Saila yanked hard against the bonds that held her fast, the thick material cutting deep abrasion patterns into her wrists.

...Pale, surprisingly undecorated wrists.

Wild eyed with surprise, her gaze spun frantically over her hands, her arms, her collar. All unblemished, marble white but for a faint tracery of blue veins, unmarked and flawless. Bare.

Shocked to distraction by this revelation, only dimly did she take stock of her clothing. Made of a cottony material that wasn't quite soft but not totally unbearable, the matching grey pants and shirt were like a uniform. Shapeless, utilitarian, plain, anonymous.

The number 624 emblazoned in block-print like a 'Hello, My Name Is' sticker in a white square across the right side of her chest.

Desperately trying to put the pieces together in her mind, Saila could already feel the image fracturing, its edges slipping past and away from one another in the jarring rub scrape of tectonic plates. A high pitched, disjointed laughter rang in her ears from one direction, the sharp, piercing stick of a needle buried deep in her forearm from the other. Her attention flying to the source of the pain, she peered down at it to see a strange purple liquid being injected directly into the muscle. As the unknown compound penetrated, caught the bloodstream and spread, a strange metallic taste filled her mouth. Swirls of light snaked up her arm and down her wrist at once, a prismatic kaleidoscope of colors that burned brightly for a moment, blinding, and then vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

With a startled outcry, the girl writhed, struggling to slip the restraints and free herself. Suddenly, she was shaking, her body rocked loose of its confinement by a seismic rolling that started in her right shoulder and emanated outwards. "Saila...Saila, wake up!" Words in a familiar voice cut across her subconscious like a razorblade, dragging her forcibly out of the dream to stare groggily, unfixed and unblinking into sterling eyes that burned molten bright with concern. "Saila. Saila? Wake up. What the hell? Wake up now."

Squeezing strange eyes shut, she shook her head hard as though to shake the dream out of her head, but it clung fast. She felt lightheaded and disoriented, overwhelmed and nauseated. Strong hands caught along either side of her jaw, cupping her face with surprising tenderness. And as the soothing familiar warmth of his energy poured through electric veins, the girl drew a long, shaky breath, her eyes eventually clearing. "I'm okay," she whispered, trying to reassure him. "...just a stupid dream. I'm okay."

He seemed unconvinced, his expression skeptical. With a fragile smile, she lifted her hands to his, squeezing lightly. "Seriously. I'm okay. I just... I need to write this down. Like... right now."


((Shout outs: To Coilin's player, whose character doesn't appear in this scene but who nonetheless helped me hash out and organize a lot of these details. To Quinn's player, for letting me hijack him for a second, and to the players of Levi, Amare, Dirk and Cane for being fundamental pieces of this story.))
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:04 pm

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Part One
01.26.2016 - Red Dragon Inn


It was her first trip back to the Inn since she'd gotten home from Rio. Saila had arrived there the conventional way, letting herself in through the front-- a thing she almost never did anymore. No sooner had she pulled the door open and stepped inside than an unfamiliar voice called out to her.

"Hey, are you Saila?"

The question gave her pause. Two months here and she had come to accept the fact that for all its wide variety of residents, Rhydin was a relatively small town. And sure, the violently violet tresses pretty singularly identified her. But even so, she was somehow always still surprised when a stranger used her name.

The figure was behind the bar. He'd clearly been engaged in wiping down the counters, one hand still paused on the bar top's long scarred surface, his washcloth mid swirl, his eyes lifted expectantly. Though she was neither shy nor particularly inclined to lie, the girl nonetheless chanced a quick glance around the room to confirm what her senses already told her, that there were no other patrons currently present.

"Um, yes. I'm Saila. Hi?"

Another thing her eight weeks and change in Rhydin had taught her; just because people wanted to know who you were in no way indicated their willingness to share their own identity. Unless she was just dying of curiosity (and granted, more often than not she was) the girl had learned not to ask for or to expect reciprocation.

"Package left here for you a couple days ago." The mysterious barkeep had abandoned his rag on the counter's surface, rooting around under the cabinets ostensibly to locate the package in question.

For her part, this was even more surprising. A random stranger who was actually cleaning up the bar, who knew her name --or at least enough about her to identify her-- and there was a package, too? What a strange set of unusual things to have happen at once.

"Yeah?" Approaching the bar in steps that were equal parts nervous and inquisitive, she arrived at the patron side just as the mysterious cleaning man retrieved what he was looking for, laying a brown paper wrapped square box on the counter between them.

The parcel appeared to be anonymous, at first, and that made it even more suspicious. Peering over the nondescript wrapping, Saila carefully ran her fingers over the paper. It didn't tell her anything useful, so she turned the box over. There, on the bottom left corner was a single word stamped in black ink: Panacea.

"You're welcome," the man on the other side of the bar from her prompted, his gaze fixed on her face, impatient. Looking up, it took her a moment to sort out what the issue was, her fingers tracing little circles in the condensation left by his efforts. "Oh, right. Thanks," came the reply as she pulled a couple of bills from the pocket of her jeans and laid them on the counter's surface, swapping cash for the package.

Cradling it gingerly to her chest, Saila pushed away from the bar, heading upstairs to one of the rooms that was still being held for her.

What would Cane go out of his way to leave for her on his way to Spain? The answer had come to her immediately. It wasn't something she wanted to explore in public. Lesson One.

Letting herself into the room she never used much anymore except as a passageway from one place to the next, Saila sat down in one of the big overstuffed armchairs that was supposed to make the space feel cozier, but really just made it more cramped. Crossing long legs underneath her in a pretzel, she turned the little anonymous parcel over in her hands twice before sliding one nail carefully under the tape to unwrap it.

Nestled in layers of tissue paper, Saila found a small bottle. It was a plain clear cylinder filled three-quarters up with a liquid that looked black against the paper, but when she held it up to the light, it was a murky, seaweed green. Clasping the bottle in one hand made her palm tingle with a subtle static buzz, a watered down version of an all too familiar feeling. It assured her of nothing except that the warlock had found the time to make it himself.

Digging back into the box with her free hand to see if there was anything else, delicate fingers closed on a rectangle of cardstock bearing the shop's name, logo and address. Flipping the card over, the back was blank.
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:24 pm

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Part Two
01.17.2016 - Panacea


Saila rubbed at her wrist self-consciously. It was a question she'd expected from the beginning, and honestly it surprised her that it had taken this long to come up. "Well," she began, pushing back the sleeve to reveal the bright green seal that adorned her left wrist. Unlike her other tattoos, it didn't seem to fade and brighten; it stayed a brilliant, almost toxic green all the time. Perhaps because it was virtually always in use.

"So, the marks grow and spread as I use my skills, right? This one showed up about the third time I shared energy with Quinn, so I asked him about it. He recognized it. There's some... ritual among their kind that unites a human with a wolf in mind and spirit. Like...on the full moon I can hear his thoughts, see with his eyes. He can communicate with me directly even when he can't speak. All the rest of the time, it's still there but not as strong."

"Dat's creepy," Cane interjected. It was clear she had more to say, so he waved a hand at her to continue.

"I have to work to hear him unless he's...in a high emotional state." Which happened a lot. For all kinds of reasons. "It's supposed to be a ...consensual thing," She went on, a moment later. "There's this whole ritual involved, and it's supposed to be a brand? As far as I can tell, it's not supposed to just...y'know. Show up." An uncomfortable shrug. It was surprisingly hard to talk about.

"I gather it wasn' consensual. An' lemme guess--ya can' turn it off." The Cajun stared at Saila impassively, carefully guarding his thoughts on the matter. For now.

Saila snickered at that, shaking her head. "I didn't ask for it, if that's what you mean. But neither did he. And there wasn't a ritual or anything. It just showed up. Like all the others. We were both surprised."

"Bonds like dat can be dangerous. Especially wit' someone as volatile as him, Saila." He motioned for her to present her wrist again, his own hand moving as though to cup hers but did not actually make any contact with her whatsoever. Cane leaned a little closer, inspecting the sigil and then gave a small shake of the head.

"I'm a strong proponent fer autonomy. An' as such, I've my own ways' a breakin' bonds. Y'already gave me yer blood. I can make some'n dat'll sever all de connections ya got. Tailorin' it ta target only Quinn's connection would take time. I'll be honest, it's time I ain' got wit' everyt'in else I'm doin' ta get ready ta leave. But ya'd be free ta choose which relationships ya wanna reforge. Den all ya gotta do is make sure yer wearin' de talisman I gave ya before whenever yer around Quinn."

She'd started to say something, to defend Quinn, but the words died on her lips when he continued. When requested, she raised her arm, offering it out to him though she knew better than to think he'd actually touch her. As such, though it looked like she was offering to take his hand, in fact her fingers were curled under, a loose fist with no tension in it. Sleeve pushed back with the other hand, she let the free one drop to her side, hanging.

There was a strange resonance to the proximity of his skin, the vibrational static she was accustomed to seemed to tick up a notch. Quiet while he spoke, mismatched eyes widened subtly at what he was suggesting, pale lips pursed in thought.

Cane dropped his hand away from where it hovered beneath hers and got up from his seat to riffle through a drawer in his desk on the other side of the room. He came up with pen and paper and began to hastily sketch something out. He spoke without looking up. "When I get back, I can take de time ta make some'n specific, if dat's what'chou want."

It was hard to know what surprised her more. The fact that this...whatever it was existed, or that Cane was just straight up offering it to her without a hedge or warning of repayment. Apparently his thoughts on the matter were pretty serious.

When he was finished, she let her hand drop, the sleeve falling back into place. Taking a deep breath, her gaze studied the ceiling while he drew, that same breath exhaled slowly. Sever every connection she'd ever made, huh? Hm. "You're right," she said slowly. "It's probably dangerous. I know-logically-that it's dangerous, but it doesn't feel dangerous, and that probably makes it even more so. It feels... normal. Natural." A pause. "And it's got its hazards, but right now I need it. I'm working on something that..." shaking her head, she trailed off. "I need to be able to break through to him no matter what." Sighing again, she shook her head. "But? I'd be lying if I stood here and tried to say it wasn't causing us some problems. So... is there some way to... I don't know. Loosen it some, without breaking it? Some way I can shut him out?" This, then, was the answer she hadn't given him earlier. No, she couldn?t turn it off.

The Cajun looked up then, his pen still poised above the paper mid-stroke. "No. I mean, yer learnin' how ta keep 'im outta yer head. Doin' good wit'? all dat -- more'n good, actually, but'cha still got a ways ta go. Ya either keep de bond or break it. I ain' try'na tell ya what ta do, d'oh. It's up ta you. All I can do is offer advice."

Saila nodded slowly, pushing bright purple waves back from her face, curling a few loose strands behind the curve of her ear. "Oh, that makes sense." A glimmer of a smirk. "I'm always hoping for something in the middle." Shaking her head, she chewed on the inside of her cheek for a moment in silence, processing all that had been said. "Thank you, first of all. I know, I know--it's nothing. But yeah. I appreciate the advice, and the offer. Can I... think about it?"

Cane nodded once, returning his eyes to the paper and continued to draw. A few more strokes and he was finished. He made no effort to hide it, nor did he announce to her that he'd made a rough sketch of the sigil and placed it on top of some paperwork. "Yeah, it's yer choice. I'll have it waitin' fer ya 'fore I go. If ya feel like usin' it while I'm gone, jes' give Vash a holler. He'll get it fer ya."




((Shout outs to Quinn's player for coming up with the sigil's meaning, and to Cane's player for working this out with me! To be continued...))
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Re: Experiments and Accidents: The Misadventures of Saila

Post by KhaoticBliss » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:41 pm

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Part Three
01.26.2016 - Red Dragon Inn


Saila rolled the bottle along her fingers, thinking. It was an unconscious action, the way it slipped and tilted over one knuckle and under the next, sliding jerkily from one end of her hand to the other again and again on a seemingly infinite loop. The faint electric buzz that accompanied the bottle's trajectory kept her on course, aware of its path even as her mind drifted. Her mouth bore a strange metallic taste, like day old blood, or pennies.

"It'll sever all the connections ye got," the warlock had told her. "But ya'd be free to choose which relationships ya wanna reforge."

The phrases reverberated, tapping at her skull until she felt it might break. It seemed so simple, so clean cut, so convenient. An easy resolution to a strange link she'd acquired almost by accident, a twist of fate that sometimes felt like more head/heart-ache than the trouble was worth. A link she hadn't asked for, but no longer knew how to live without.

But as with all simple things, the implications were enormous. Pull a single thread and the whole sweater unravels. Simple and easy are not the same.

Cane himself had admitted he had no idea what she was. There was no way to know how the potion would affect her, how far the chemical process spread, until she actually tried it. It wasn't like there was a lab rat available, genetically different but similar enough to show the gist of it.

Saila laughed, then. It was bitter, humorless, and it split the oppressive silence of her empty hotel room with a jarring, disconcerting ring. I'm the fuckin' lab rat, she thought suddenly, wildly.

There would be no way to know for sure what the potion would do to her, how much it would erase, until she tried it. For all she knew, it might work exactly the way her teacher planned it, but then again it might not. She'd put an enormous amount of effort into being vulnerable to him, forcing her own rib cage open to let him pry. Answering every question he posed, peeling herself apart to find the answers. She'd explained and talked herself in circles and tried to explain again.

And Cane was good. Really good. If anybody had the skill to make it do exactly what he'd said it would and no more, it would be Cane. Saila trusted him, implicitly. No one, not even Cane, thought that was a particularly intelligent move, but she did. Maybe it was arrogance or sheer self delusion, but she honestly believed that the warlock wouldn't hurt her. Not on purpose. Not yet. If only because he seemed to like the puzzle of it, too, no matter how many times he said he didn't have time.

He kept making the time.

So it wasn't that she hadn't told him everything she could think of to say. It wasn't doubt in his ability. It wasn't even that she suspected him of malicious intent. But how could she know how much he understood? How much anyone understood? It was the central question that had driven her to pursue his help in the first place.

How would anyone ever really understand her until she could show them what she saw? How do I push instead of pull?

Erase every connection. Eliminate every bond. Hard boot. Factory reset. It all amounted to the same thing: Starting over from zero.

Setting aside the emotional implications- Quinn, Coilin, Serah, Cane himself; he'd said those could be reforged, and she believed it. That wasn't what was at stake, what terrified her, what made the whole prospect hard to breathe.

For Saila, zero actually, probably meant zero. Every single scrap of knowledge in her head, up to and including the knowing how to know in the first place. Every fact, every name, every emotion, every skill. One hundred percent of it came, one way or another, through her connections with other people. To sever the connection was to sever her path to the information. To cut off her access to anything.

Self-annihilation. Self-obliteration. It would erase everything, every centimeter of progress she'd made so far.

Wouldn't it?

Maybe --probably--her fears were overblown. Maybe it wouldn't erase her entire existence.

But it could.

The bottle landed with a solid sounding clink of glass on wood, unopened and, for now, abandoned on an end table. Pulling an as of yet unused journal from the bag at her feet, Saila took out a pen, turned to the first page in the blank book, and began to write.

Hi.

If you're reading this, then a bunch of things have happened. You drank the potion. You found the book. You opened it. By now, hopefully, you remember how to read. So let me fill you in on what you're missing. When you get done reading this, find your way to Cane. You'll know him because I do, and I'm you. He'll figure something out.

Your name is Saila."
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